October 31, 2004
What I ended up doing was something I had planned on all along, which was go to Ramzi Abed's wedding, which, curiously, was held here rather than Los Angeles. It was good to see him again, and I wish him the best on his honeymoon in New Orleans (but how could you not have a wonderful time in New Orleans at this time of year?).
That was one of the things Curtis and I briefly discussed -- going to New Orleans again -- after we met up later in the evening to put on some makeup and go make the best of the evening. We met up with some lovely young ladies and together all drove out to this neighborhood that was rumored to have the best Halloween decorations in the metroplex. They did -- they'd even turned part of their street into Middle Earth, but by the time we got out there a storm was rolling in and their impressive Eye Of Sauron had been blown over. We continued on to a haunted house and while we were waiting in line the rain began to pour down in sheets, which made the evening all the more fun. And the haunted house was the very one where we shot Ramzi's The Tunnel a few years back, which was a nice bit of synchronicity to round out the day.
Now that's all over and I'm home, listening to Francoise Hardy, changed from my dripping wet clothes into some cozy corduroy, drinking coffee and getting ready to spend the rest of the night working on Deadroom. Because there seriously are some things that need to be done.
Posted by David Lowery at 11:59 PM
I would be remiss if I didn't offer a Happy Halloween to anyone who happens to read this.
Thus, Happy Halloween!
I have no plans yet -- I'll meet up with someone and we'll do something later on, I imagine. Probably on a scale smaller than the full blown, all-night, conversation/alcohol/vinyl fueled party thrown last night by Nick and Kara. It was her birthday party, shared with other friends (including such notable Chaotic Cong talents as Cammi, Adam, Aimee and Sean) born within the same temporal proximity. Curtis and I collaborated on a present for all of them, having spent the previous 24 hours making an animation-heavy video performance piece centering around an eight minute improvised honky tonk song about killing all of our friends (that's a still from it above -- my sister Anna is in it, too, and totally steals the show). It turned out beautifully. I hope everyone appreciated our murderous intentions.
I should have spent those 24 hours working on something for Deadroom that suddenly, urgently needed taking care of...but you know, Devil's Night only comes once a year.
Posted by David Lowery at 2:48 PM
October 29, 2004
I went to an outdoor screening of Herk Harvey's Carnival Of Souls at the DMA last night. It was one of those movies I'd been familiar with since childhood through Roger Ebert's review (reading his reviews of horror films was a frequent stimulant to my imagination back then -- who knows what would have happened if I'd actually seen the movies I thrilled to read about), but I'd never actually seen it unti last night. It was wonderful -- like Two Lane Blacktop, a B-movie that was far too strong in its artistic sensibilities to be forgotten. Curtis and I kept looking at each other at frequent intervals, marvelling at the rather shocking similarities it bore to James's first short film The Knocker, which was also a black and white horror movie about a young woman haunted by a mysterious apparition. We asked him about it later on that night, when we all met up to watch Tarnation, but he'd scarcely even heard of it. Chalk it up to those genius auteur wavelengths in the air, I guess.
I was made painfully aware of my chemical addictions last night, when halfway through Jonathan Caouette's masterpiece my brain started to remind me that it hadn't had any coffee yet that day. By midnight I was racing home to drink a cup and try desperately to fall asleep before my skull compressed on itself.
So now I've got a fresh cup before me and am fully capable of relating how Green Cine got my hopes up this morning when they pointed to this Filmmaker entry discreetly linking to multiple cuts of John Cameron Mitchell's latest directing effort -- but the link doesn't work! I guess it's something to look forward to.
Posted by David Lowery at 12:43 PM
October 28, 2004
I went ahead and bought the new Nick Cave abum(s) and thank Christ I did. It (they) are absolutely outstanding...some of the best work he's done in years. He expands on the gospel hues of No More Shall We Part, and it's glorious (especially when the London Gospel Choir provides backup). His lyrical interests are not rooted in anger anymore, and I've grown to accept that...but unlike the simple romanticism of Nocturama, he seems revitalized with a bloody, lusty sense of passion -- and so, for that matter, do the Bad Seeds themselves, who perhaps have never sounded so prominent on one of their records (a shame Blixa Bargeld departed). Their instrumentation is amazing and a thrill to listen to.
And I just made a Cave mix CD for someone the other day; now I think I might have to provide an addendum, because there's some pretty indispensable material here. Cannibal Hymn, Baby You Turn Me On and Abattoir Blues are my immediate favorites, but it's getting harder to choose the more I listen to it (them).
I rewatched Lynch's The Straight Story for the first time since it was in theaters (I have a bad habit of buying DVDs and never watching them). I was in tears at the end (no one else in the room this time). Knowing what happened to Richard Farnsworth shortly after its release made it far sadder than it was the first time, but the cosmic beauty of the final shot is comforting. I think at this moment that it might be his best film -- while Wild At Heart is still the ultimate culimination of everything that makes Lynch a genius, The Straight Story is certainly his most beautiful film, and undoubtedly his most genuinely moving. And while I'd never want to compare one of Lynch's films to anyone else's, I would venture to say that, particularly in the long, langorous drifting shots of the fields of grain at golden hour, there's a bit of a Terrence Malick feel at work here. Perhaps it's partially because the production designer on the film is Jack Fisk, who also does production design for Malick (and worked on Eraserhead back in the day and is married to Sissy Spacek, who plays Farnsworth's daughter here).
Still, if you know Lynch's work, you'll recognize him through and through. I'd say this is a more immediate representation of his style than Lost Highway. Especially if you close your eyes and listen to it -- the sound design is unmistakable.
James gave me some more good advice the other day as we were discussing the merits of flashbacks in my latest screenplay. I'm paraphasing here when I quote: "If you want to put in some Graham Green quotes, then just fucking do it."
And when that's done I'll be one step closer to Henry Lee...
October 25, 2004
I watched Bukowski: Born Into This this evening, and had I been alone in the room I might have wept at the end; but I was not. I want to watch the movie again with my eyes closed, just to listen to him read aloud. It was an illuminating experience, and I'm desperate to read his work now. But I'm still entrenched in The Voyage Out, which is only arresting me in fits and starts. So many words I need to read. So many to write, too, but more on that some other time (these are my respite from them).
We saw Eyes Without A Face at midnight on Saturday (good times). I saw Vera Drake at midnight on Friday (and had the theater to myself, which is something I love sometimes but only sometimes). Afterwards, a car passed me in the parking lot and then careened directly into another one crossing its path. Like magnets. Two drunk guys cheered from some rooftop somewhere. The girl in one of the cars leaned her head against the window in disbelief. The whole accident didn't seem to make sense; it was one of those moments where something as ridiculous as fate seemed very palpable in the air. I asked the girl if she was okay, and I know she saw me but her window was rolled up.
I had this notion that if brilliant filmmakers tried to write the way they direct, they'd have to come up with entirely new words. The editing of a film is like the writing of a book; taking what already is and rearranging it to make it just so. I wish I had it in me to come up with brand new words, but I usually love the ones I already have too much.
I'm listening to Brian Wilson's Smile (not at this exact moment, but in general). It's good and all, but I think Pet Sounds is better. I'm behind on records: I need the new Tom Waits, the new Elliot Smith, the new Nick Cave which comes out Tuesday... I need money is what I need. I'm doing odds and ends for my dinner at the moment, but it ain't enough but to pay for a few movie tickets and the petrol to get there.
But that's almost always all I usually need (I tell myself, sometimes sincerely).
To finish: a quote from David Gordon Green provided by someone who went to a screening he did a Q&A at.
"I'll pretty much hire the least qualified guy, if he has cool taste in music. We always get these guys who have great resumes, and they're all pricks. I don't wanna be around them when I'm filming."
October 22, 2004
I hate seeing brilliant people fail at what they want to do. Especially brilliant creative people, who often seem more prone to depression, drug addiction and/or suicide than anyone else (creativity so often seems bred from unhappiness). Some people have no sympathy for artists who shoot their talent right back into their arms, but it makes sense to me. I saw a screening of the documentary Dig! the other day, and the seemingly inevitable failure of musical genius Anton Newcombe was heartbreaking to behold; and it scared me a little bit too.
On the other hand, we have the subject of the truly unbelievable documentary Overnight, who...well, here's my review.
I think I might make a short film about baseball on Saturday, but I'm really not sure yet.
October 20, 2004
I was going through some old CDs yesterday and found a copy of the Lullaby soundtrack. I popped it in for a listen, and discovered something I had completely forgotten about: a 'remix' of the best track from the score (which was mostly written by the usual suspect, Curtis Heath, along with Sean French and Nick Prendergast) that includes dialogue from the film (a la the last track on the Virgin Suicides soundtrack).
It's probably just because the film was so personal to me when I made it that I found listening to this track as moving as I did, but whatever the case, I decided to put it online. I think the song actually conveys the themes of the film better than the film itself. If you want to hear it, it's up at the Lullaby page, or you can just download it here. You'll also get an idea of exactly how bad the audio in the movie is. Try to ignore those high frequencies.
Meanwhile, over at the Beautiful Confusion blog, James has very succinctly outlined some of the more general problems we have with the Deep Ellum Film Festival. I wonder if there's a way for festivals to better nurture truly indie fare while simultaneously bringing in more attention grabbing films and filmmakers (without the latter overshadowing the former). I think it would definitely be possible and very benificial for both the artists showcased and the community the event occurs in, but the reason it probably will never happen is simple: money. There's always someone who wants more of it.
On a slightly related note, let me just pledge something right now: if I ever achieve the status necessary to be asked to be on a panel at a film festival, I'll gladly accept the invitation -- as long as that panel is free for whomever wishes to attend.
Moving into the future, Yen came up with the perfect title for my space script: Drift.
Posted by David Lowery at 3:14 AM
October 19, 2004
The accelerated anticipation begins.
Posted by David Lowery at 3:28 PM
I caught Friday Night Lights on Friday night, and it was really pretty great. The direction and editing is especially amazing -- I predict a Michael Mann-style career trajectory for Peter Berg -- and so is the score by Austin band Explosions In The Sky, who once upon a time did the score for Cicadas, directed by Kat Candler (coming soon, finally, to DVD).
I've noticed that I get a fair number of hits from people Googling in search of news about upcoming David Gordon Green films, so in an effort to increase visibility, here's what he said at the Undertow screening last night about what he's working on.
The adaptaion of Confederacy Of Dunces is, as previously reported, dead (due entirely to corporate greed). He's spent the last year working on screenplays, and he has four ready to go, any one of which could be his next film: an adaptation of the novel The Secret Life Of Bees; an adaptation of the nonfiction book Goat, about fraternities; a 70s style action-comedy; and a horror film starring Jennifer Aniston. The first of those was the one he seemed most enthusiastic about, although it's also the one he's having the hardest time getting money for. All of them, he said, will include one of his signature elements: men dancing around in whitey tighties, which he thinks is just downright hilarious.
He also talked about his directing process a little bit, and how after all the intense rehearsing, he has everybody throw the script away two weeks before production begins and won't allow any copies on the set.
I think I might have to steal that technique.
Posted by David Lowery at 12:45 AM
October 18, 2004
So what I did this morning was interview Jonathan Caouette, the director of Tarnation. It was so much fun talking to him...he's a wonderful guy. Here's the whole thing, all typed up for your convenience.
Prior to that, Jonathan was on an indie filmmaking panel held by the Deep Ellum Film Festival. As many problems as I have with that festival (and I have quite a few), I have to hand it to them for drawing an incredible array of filmmaking talent into one room this morning. In addition to Jonathan Caoutte, one could rub elbows with David Gordon Green, Shane Carruth, Allison Anders, Yen Tan (not actually on the panel, unfairly, but he was in the room), and Jeremy Coon, the producer of Napoleon Dynamite (whose presence I'm sure was very exciting for some people). The discussion was pretty engaging; lots of talk about getting self indulgent films produced and seen outside of the mainstream. There seemed to be a serious and refreshing disdain for Hollywood shared by all the filmmakers present, and they all also made me feel a lot better about being a penniless director prone to frequent bouts of despair. If it worked out for them, it can work out for me and my friends too.
Later in the day, I went to the screening of Undertow (which is a masterpiece). While I was wiling away the time in the lobby before it started, I listened in on two middle age women conversing. One of them was talking about her husband passing away, and at one point, she said "I just want to be left alone, and not hurt anymore." She was smiling while she said it. It seemed like something worth writing down.
October 17, 2004
Sometimes drinking lots of coffee makes me feel like I'm in love or like I need to scream.
More interesting things to come in the morning....which, I see, is already here.
Posted by David Lowery at 2:20 AM
October 15, 2004
Some short things.
Going on rides that drastically alter your sense of perambulation is vastly preferable to crashing down from a cotton candy high.
According to this report from Dark Horizons, a film entitled The Proposition is being lensed in Australia right now-- and it's written by none other than Nick Cave. The rather extrordinary cast is made up of Guy Pearce, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, Emily Watson, David Wenham, John Hurt and more (although IMDB only lists Pearce at the moment). The director is Johnny Hillcoat, who has helmed the majority of Cave's videos (none of the really good ones, though, unfortunately). I haven't seen Cave's one prior screenwriting attempt, The Ghosts Of The Civil Dead, but one would think that it would take a pretty good script to draw a cast like this one has.
The rumors are true -- a still image from one of the deleted scenes of Yen's segement of Deadroom has made its way online.
Posted by David Lowery at 2:26 AM
October 14, 2004
I'm supposed to be working on a rewrite of a script for JMJ, but I haven't been. I finished a different script instead. The other day -- Oct. 2, to be exact, while I was jogging -- I had an idea for this film. I guess it was a result of the Star Wars/THX/George Lucas DVD fest that I wanted to do something in a sci-fi vein, and I was thinking about the dream sequences I'd cut out of Rocketman and I came up with this story and I started writing the script that night and figured I'd do my best to just pound it out, like all those stories you always hear about Taxi Driver being written in three days or whatever. I just finished it this evening. There's no title yet. Only 70 pages, but when you write a scene that consists solely of something like The capsule drifts deeper into space, it's hard to convey how you envision that lasting a good three minutes or so.
It's about a man who wakes up from hibernation seven months into a year-long space trip (no specifics are ever given) and finds that his capsule has been jettisoned and is drifting aimlessly and irretrievably in deep space. From that point on, it plays out in almost-real time as he gradually realizes his situation, that it's a hopeless one, and that he's got a very finite amount of time left to live. The movie is basically about him coming to terms with this, and at the end he dies. It's sort of like the second half of Bowie's Space Oddity, now that I think of it.
So it's an almost real-time movie, set in two very limited locations, with only two actors. The kind of thing that could be shot over, say, two weekends...which would make shooting on HD affordable...etc...etc...
Anyway, now I've got to get back to that other rewrite.
October 13, 2004
2nd will be broadcast on PBS (ch.13) on October 22 at 10:00, and then again on the 29th at the same time, as part of the special politically themed epsiode of KERA's Frame Of Mind.
I'm listening to Sam Phillips now, who I've quickly grown to love, and also, on a completely different note, Joanna Newsom, and I think I love her too (I use the word love too casually/maybe really like is better). The first time I heard one of her songs, I just started laughing because it was so unusual and almost offputtingly grating...but then I couldn't stop listening. Her songs are oddly enchanting, and I was quickly won over by her reference to The Lion, The Witch And the Wardrobe in Bridges and Balloons -- which also, I think, marks the first time I've ever heard the word dirigible in lyrics; and that, my friends, is a wonderful word, not as much by definition as by its simple phoenetic excess. Give it a try sometime.
Posted by David Lowery at 11:50 AM
October 12, 2004
Greg.org just made public the full program for Les Arenes de Chaillot -- which, if you haven't been following the story since it broke last month, was an illegal underground (literally) cinema which held screenings at midnight in a section of the Parisian catacombs not far from the American Cinematheque. Just look at that list of amazing double features! This is everything this kind of thing should be...except that, unfortunately, it's over. For the time being. If there were catacombs in Dallas, I'd gladly carry the torch.
Posted by David Lowery at 11:03 AM
I slightly updated the Short Films, mainly with new Quicktime versions of Ghostboy and Sonatine, neither of which I could make myself watch all the way through while I was encoding (especially the latter). But because they were my first publically exhibited films, I figure I might as well keep them online, and now they're the best they've ever looked (online, at least). I recropped the letterboxing on Ghostboy to make the aspect ratio more pristine (it used to turn gray at every cross-fade, and there were some rolling video artifacts in it too), and I removed some jittery black space from the middle of Sonatine (the result of VCR dubbing). I also added some CGI insects to Sonatine -- I'd filmed some bugs craling on the notebook for the original cut back in '98, but they didn't look good so I left that part out (that's the kinda thing that's tough to change when you're editing in camera). But now they're back in there and looking great, as I originally intended.
To the same page I've also added, rather anticlimactically, a certain music video for a certain contest held by a certain band who've yet to decide on a winner. I was originally really excited about posting it online for all to see, but it's been so long that the moment's kinda faded.
October 11, 2004
The kindness of strangers worked in second degree circles and gained me entrance tonight to the Sam Phillips show, which Curtis, having already seen her open for David Byrne last night, told me would be the best live show since we went to see Nick Cave in New Orleans. And it was one of those performances that cuts you to the quick and is so perfect you can't help but smile with excitement, despite the sadness of the songs. The instrumental accompaniment was stunning, but one of the best moments was when Sam sang along to a song on a tape recorder held up to the microphone. Hope will kill you. I don't know if it was the best since Nick Cave -- I can't discount the transcendance of Sigur Ros -- but then I go see shows so infrequently that I don't have much to hold it to.
It's hard to believe Superman is dead. I never had a huge attachement to that series, but I still have very fond memories of it; more importantly, I was really convinced Christopher Reeve would pull through and walk again. I wonder if Kerry will make a reference to him again in the next debate.
I watched Dreyer's The Passion Of Joan Of Arc yesterday and was left rather devastated. What a film -- it's right up there with Battleship Potemkin as a masterwork of the silent era. A testament to the power of montage, and moreso to the transifgurative qualities of the human face. To think that it was almost completely lost is terrifying; that it was recovered seems, appropriately, like proof of the devine.
I then moved onto a picture that has a similarly suspenseful backstory of lost and miraculously found prints: Shadows, my introduction to Cassavetes. At its best, it seemed ripped straight from the pages of Kerouac and alive with counterculture electricity; but at the same time, I kept thinking about how Godard did the same thing a little bit better. Of course, Godard wasn't paying for his films out of his own pocket, and I certainly don't hold the film's roughness against it. The improvisational nature of it made for many inspired scenes, but just when it was really getting great the credits started to roll. I think a second viewing is in order.
However, I decided to cancel my Netflix subscription until I've got a more steady income. It was a fairly good run -- in the past four months I've watched Duel In The Sun, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Persona, The Godfather Trilogy, Ikiru, My Life To Live, Band Of Outsiders, Contempt, Shoot The Piano Player, The Bicycle Thief, Paths Of Glory, Black Narcissus, Stranger Than Paradise, Spellbound, L'Aaventura, Blowup, Days Of Heaven, Walkabout, Last Tango In Paris, Happy Together, Videodrome, The King Of Comedy, Schizopolis, The Underneath, Lady Snowblood, Two Lane Blacktop, Crimson Gold, Songs From The Second Floor, The Claim, Wonderland, Butterfly Kiss, Tokyo Story, Floating Weeds, Tie Me Up Tie Me Down!, Live Flesh, Shock Corridor, Being There, Funny Games, Thriller: A Cruel Picture, Dawn Of The Dead, Day Of The Dead, Once Upon A Time In The West, Slacker, and, lastly, the two I've written about above -- but I probably could have done better.
Posted by David Lowery at 2:25 AM
October 10, 2004
Tonight was cool and foggy and rainy...a perfect night to spend going to the movies (not that every night isn't, but good weather is always an added bonus). Curtis and I started the evening with the sneak of Team America. Review forthcoming.
Then we met up with more friends and went to see The Nightmare Before Christmas at the Inwood at midnight (speaking of weather and that theater, my favorite moviegoing experience, or one of them at least, is going to see A Clockwork Orange at midnight at that same theater and leaving to find an unexpected flurry of snowflakes filling the air, coating the pavement -- it was a truly beautiful surprise). Anyway, I try to only watch The Nightmare Before Christmas once or twice a year, around Halloween and Christmas. It's very dear to me heart (you can't look in any direction in my room without seeing some effigy of Jack and/or Sally), and it was glorious seeing it on the big screen again. I can't believe it's been 11 years since it came out; I feel like so little time has passed since my mom took me to the theater to see it opening day. I feel like I haven't progressed personally at all, when I think about the space between then and now.
After the movie, Ryan, who manages the place now, volunteered to give us a personal tour of just about every square inch of the the building, from behind the screen to the dank tunnels in the ceiling to the mist-drenched rooftop (although we didn't run into the ghost that reportedly haunts the upstairs projection booth). He showed us a sheaf of photos dating all the way back to the theater's opening in 1946, and the theater booking logs from that same year. He also told us about how the old owner used to show in the late seventies and early eighties used to show porn movies in the upstairs theaters to supplement his art-film income, and a few years back an ancient box of 35mm porn trailers was found stashed in some dark crawl space.
The sense of cinematic history in the place was astounding, and it makes me so glad to see that it's still up and running, and showing such quality fare. The Inwood has always been my favorite theater in Dallas, and now my appreciation for it is even greater.
It wasn't snowing when we drove home at 3 AM, but it was a beautiful experience nonetheless. And to think I almost stayed home...between the Gadabout Film Festival, seeing Conor Oberst at Spiral (which doesn't compare to Curtis's being invited onto their tour bus the next night and hanging out with him for a few hours) and tonight, I'm afraid to ever be lazy/responsible again.
Posted by David Lowery at 4:37 AM
October 9, 2004
Photo opportunities found at the remains of a fire near my house.
The Asian import I'm looking forward to most after 2046, Kim Ki-Duk's 3-Iron, has a gorgeous new website. My accursed slow connection is preventing me from viewing the trailer.
October 8, 2004
I missed my last chance to see I ♥ Huckabees in advance for free tonight, but it's all okay, because I was at Spiral Diner instead and Connor Oberst came in and that was pretty damn cool. I didn't say anything, as per my usual unintrusive self, but if I hadn't been there and heard about it later, I'd have been really upset and jealous. So thanks, James and Amy, for fostering a place where I can have the opportunity to sit in close proximity to -- and even bump into on the way to refilling my drink -- one of my favorite singer/songwriters.
The first showing of that movie is in eight hours; I may just be awake by then. Although I've been drinking a lot of wine all evening (I'm going to be afraid tomorrow to look at the stuff I've been writing tonight) and that may induce a more-begrudging-than-usual attitude towards my alarm clock. I guess there's always the 2:00 show.
October 7, 2004
Technically, I should not be as sleepy as I have been lately.
I went to a lecture at The Modern the other night by artist Erik Swenson, who made, among other wonderful things, this sculpture that is one of my favorites of that museum's permanent collection (you have to see it in person to fully appreciate the desperately whimsical and physically confounding qualities it has). Swenson himself was an affably shy guy whose lecture, which involved as few words as possible, reminded me of Matthew Barney's commentary track, only with a sense of humor. I'm always afraid that lectures will be stuffy and overly expository, but Swenson's obvious disinterest in heavy explanations and his utter lack of pretention made for a really great presentation. He also showed a video he made of him creating a rather epic sculpture of a deer freezing to death on a brick-paved street, although much of the footage consisted of him of giving a tour of his apartment (which he redecorated to accurately resemble an 19th Century Saloon) and playing a CD he made called 'Simon And Garfunkle's Greatest Hit,' which was 14 songs from the famous duo layered on top of each other. It was brilliant. Again, it's so wonderful to see cool people who are successful and still really cool. I guess that's something I strive for. Someone kick me if I ever get too pretentious (personally -- I can make pretentious movies if I want to).
Yen's staged reading last night went well, and it was really inspiring to see the script take such dramatic life. Screenplays always change so much when they begin to involve more people than a single writer and a reader (actors and a full audience, in this case) and there's always a bit of suspense over whether that change will be for the better. It was defintely for the better in this case, and the script seemed even stronger with all these voices attached to it.
I was also proud of myself for being the only one to catch the explicit Friends homage.
So anyway, these are two things that have been worth waking up for lately.
Posted by David Lowery at 1:57 PM
October 5, 2004
Just a reminder: Yen's staged reading is tomorrow night (October 6th). Details here or here, or in The Observer, who continue their grand tradition of writing long, extemporaneous explanations of our projects in their weekly To Do column.
Alexander Payne wrote an article in Variety the other day in which he marveled at the amount of creativity that the studio systems manage to bankroll; for his explanation/endorsement of this phenomena, he provided this beautiful paragraph:
"Art is all we have to combat the fearsome, awful animal side of man that today controls events. To portray real people with real problems, real joys, real tears will serve as a positive political force, a force for comfort and possibly for change. With the inhumanity forced upon us by governments and terrorists and corporations, to make a purely human film is today a political act. To make a film about disenfranchised people is a political act. To make a film about love is a political act. To make a film about a single human emotion is today a political act. And bad things happen when good people fail to speak up."
Could you put it any better? I feel like I should send that to everyone I know (I can think of a few people who could especially stand to read it). Read the whole article here or, if you're like me and don't have a subscription to Variety, here.
If you want to see the best documentary of the year, go see Tarnation whenever it comes out. The first reel by itself is one of the most heartbreaking professions of love I've ever seen.
And if you want to see the funniest documentary of the year (actually, it's probably the funniest film this year, period), see The Yes Men, . And if you want to see a Swedish artsy/porn/exploitation/thriller from the seventies that includes ocular damage on a level Bunuel or Fulci never dreamed of, rent the newly released DVD of Thriller: A Cruel Picture, which was another big influence on Kill Bill. Yen and I were trying to figure out how they did the eye effect; the most extreme solution we came up with, it turns out, is the correct one.
I was carrying a stack of 10 newly burned Deadroom DVDs to Yen's apartment this evening, (to be dispersed across the globe later this week) and as I did I tried to unstick myself in time, Billy Pilgrim style, and conceptualize their future. It was more a case of wishful thinking, though.
In a recent e-mail exchange, I suggested a new advertising byline for our film:All Across The World, People Are Being Bored By One Movie....
James had a slight alteration:All Across The World, People Are Ignoring The Brilliance Of One Movie...
October 2, 2004
Some of you may be aware of the slightly truncated version that AICN ran this morning, and also of my review of the film, which Harry and Moriarty ran sometime last week. I've since uploaded it here as well for your convenience. Thanks to the AICN crew for helping to spread the word...
On a completely different note, I at long last watched the original Dawn Of The Dead for the first time today; it fully lived up to the potential first ground into my head back when I read The Zombies That Ate Pittsburgh (a chronicle of the production of all of George Romero's movies) when I was ten years old.
UPDATE: RIP Richard Avedon.
Posted by David Lowery at 12:30 AM
October 1, 2004
On Wednesday night James called me to let me know about this travelling film festival that was coming to Fort Worth for one night only; he didn't know much about it, other than that it was comprised of people cavorting around the country in a van, showing short films. So I drove out to watch it, and it was fantastic. A totally DIY operation, with some really cool underground films. Many were along the same lines of our Chaotic Cong short films, just totally bizarre and imaginative and wonderful. There was also one film (from Sweden, I believe) called CumPane, directed by Anna Linder, which really blew me away; while ostensibly simply about baking bread, it was actually a testament to the power of editing in creating pure art, and it left me feeling somewhat deficient in that department.
The whole operation is called The Gadabaout Film Festival, and the folks who run it are a really awesome and progressive (and vegan!) group. They've just finished the first leg of their tour, so head to their website and check out their schedule as they make their way West and catch it if you can. They're a wonderful representation of the underground cinema movement, and not only do they deserve your support, but you're doing yourself a favor by supporting them.
I almost didn't go, actually, because I'm so short on cash and therefore very short on petrol and I was planning on going out to Fort Worth the next day anyway to watch the debates and finish the Star Wars trilogy with James and Amy (which we did, today). But then I remembered this quote from a recent interview with Richard Linklater:
I remember being younger, and going, "Come on, man, we're showing this cool Godard film that's never been shown ... what do you mean, it's a Monday night and you can't come?! You've got your kid's soccer practice?" I was just like, "Ah, sell-out, man, I hope I'm never like that."
Obviously, I had to go. I ended up spending the night out there, watching great movies and having a grand old time (and cementing plans for something very cool, hinted at on James's blog, that will hopefully bring the joy of cinema into many more people's lives). I hope I never have kids who like soccer.
Oh, and so anyway, about Richard Linklater...I picked up the Criterion Slacker DVD. I'd never seen the film, and of course, I dug it. It has everything I love about Waking Life, minus the animation but plus the thrill of seeing a young filmmaker delving into something so interesting and oblique with little concern for what audiences thought. I love listening to his characters talk.
But before that, I watched what is perhaps the best supplement of this fantastic DVD set: his very first feature, the super8mm It's Impossible To Learn To Plow By Reading A Book. It's just like Slacker, except it has almost no dialogue and mostly follows just one character (played by Linklater, not for narcisistic reasons but because he didn't want to have some actor have to put up with a whole year of random shooting) as he travels around the country. It's like Stranger Than Paradise without the humor. There' s no plot; very little overt incident; Linklater claims in his commentary track that "I was obsessed with banality." And to be honest, I have to admit that, watching in the early hours of the morning, I fell asleep during it. I finished watching it later, and despite its slow pace and seeming meaninglessness, I think it's an incredible accomplishment. It has not one iota of amatuerishness to it -- this is the work of a filmmaker who, even at this early stage, had a remarkably clear vision, which he stuck to without fail. He had limitations implied by the level of the production, but he certainly made them work for him.
Even better was the commentary track, which most definitely did not put me to sleep; in fact, it's probably the most enjoyable and (from a film lover/filmmaker's point of view) profound commentaries I've ever heard. At first I started writing things down that I wanted to quote; then I just gave up. Listen to it for yourself as soon as you can.
I was so excited after I listened to it that I immediately put in the School Of Rock DVD and listened to its commentary (which I'd never bothered with before), just because I wanted to keep listening to Richard Linklater talk. It wasn't quite as satisfying, but it did the trick. I guess I need to finally see Dazed And Confused now, because Linklater has in the past few months shot waaaayy up there on my list of favorite filmmakers. And I still haven't seen, nor do I anticipate seeing, a better film this year than Before Sunset.
Postscript: The Shane Carruth interview will be up by the end of the day; or actually, the end of my day, which really means tomorrow morning.
Posted by David Lowery at 2:12 AM