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November 29, 2004

I saw Closer this morning, and I was right when I wrote last summer that I think it would work better as a film than a play. Or maybe I'm just saying that because Natalie Portman is in it. In any case, my review is up.

Greg.org points towards a site I'm surprised I've never seen before: the Cremaster Fanatic fansite. Of utmost interest are the details on Barney's new project: a performance/film/sculpture/documentary entitled de Lama Lamina, shot during Carnaval in Brazil this past spring, complete with 1000 dancers and, of course, vaseline. That would have been worth a trip to see live, I'll bet. The film is finished, but has yet to be exhibited in the US.

One final notice for today: gmail has added POP access, just as my old service got rid of it. I've officially switched over.

And how did Holst manage to compose The Planets without a film to guide him?

Posted by David Lowery at 10:39 PM

Unable to let bad news get me down, anxious to get away from this comptoir, itching to express myself in more than just words, I began work this afternoon on an experimental short film I've been thinking about for a while. Well, to be exact, I've been thinking a lot about the process of making it -- what it's actually about, I'm still not quite sure of. But I've gone ahead and jumped in headlong, and at the moment I'm waiting for some paint to dry (my hands have been caked in it for the past twelve hours, and that can be such a fulfilling feeling sometimes). This project may or may not be a lark, and it's of a sort that will take me quite some time to figure out, but hopefully a fair amount of footage will be completed before I leave for New York in three weeks. If I haven't given up in frustration by then.

Elsewhere in my focus: I love and appreciate complex analytical examinations of cinema as much as the next obsessive cineaste, but Roger Ebert will always be my favorite film critic, and this short essay of his pretty much explains why.

Posted by David Lowery at 3:43 AM

November 28, 2004

Yen passed the soundtrack to Wong Kar Wai's 2046 to me last night, and it's wonderful. A perfect compilation of original score, classical music and pop songs.

That said, the main theme, by composer Shigeru Umebayashi, is virtually a note for note lift of Wojciech Kilar's unforgettable score for Bram Stoker's Dracula. I noticed it in the trailer, but it's even more prominent listening to the entire theme. Even the tempo is the same -- at least on the first and last renditions (there's a Latin rumba reprisal midway through the record that turns what was lush and ominous into something playfully seductive).

Oh well. It doesn't really make the soundtrack any less enjoyable -- it's a great theme. And now that I've mentioned Dracula, I should also mention the two other modern film scores that are far too good to be as underrated as they are: Fargo by Carter Burwell and The Last Of The Mohicans by Trevor Jones. I'd add Jon Brion's Magnolia score to the list, but I listen to it so much that it doesn't really feel underrated anymore.

EDIT: After writing this post, I popped in the Dracula soundtrack to further examine the similarities I detected, and then realized I'd made a greivous error -- the soundtrack I was thinking of was not this one (which is, of course, grand and unforgettable) but the main theme to Leon, by Eric Serra. Although the tempo and orchestration in both (or all three) are the same, this makes me feel a bit embarassed overall.

Posted by David Lowery at 12:55 AM

November 26, 2004

After Thanksgiving, the Christmas season officially begins, and what better way to usher in the holidays than a family viewing of Bad Santa. Unfortunately, I couldn't find my copy last night, so it remains something to look forward to.

I actually got up bright and early and went shopping this morning, along with the rest of the country. Unlike the rest of the country, however, I went to a thrift store, where I found some pretty cool and distinctive threads. I'm determined to only buy brand new clothes if they're fair trade. I unfortunately had to draw the line at shoes this morning -- I can't afford fair trade vegan footware at the moment, and I was in dire need of some new pleather dress shoes -- but at least nothing's getting killed in the making of them.

I did make a brief stop at the local media outlet to see if I could withstand the desire to purchase the new Criterion editions of Altman's Short Cuts and Bergman's Fanny And Alexander. The latter especially, since I'm currently reading The Passion Of Ingmar Bergman by Frank Gado and its account of his childhood gave me a whole new appreciation for that particular film. I was also excited to see that the Short Cuts set included a reissue of the collection of Raymond Carver short stories that inspired the film, a volume I've had and loved for years, and -- hey, I've got The Simpsons playing in the background at this very moment, and they just made an awesome joke involving Truffaut and Bergman films! Anyway, Carver's a brilliant writer and I made it out of the store without spending any of the money I don't have, although writing about it now makes me wish I had.

I do have the new Rufus Wainwright album. Want Two isn't quite the exquisite marvel that its predecessor was, but it's certainly a very fine record in its own right. I think track five, The Art Teacher, is the most heartbreaking expression of unrequited love I've ever heard in a song, and the way it transcends sexual orientation (a gay man singing from the point of view of a girl) is quite profound.

I think the need for distractions has passed. I'm off to commiserate.

Posted by David Lowery at 4:49 PM | Comments (7)

November 25, 2004

About today. It's been 30 years to the day since Nick Drake died.

Posted by David Lowery at 1:54 PM

November 24, 2004

A catalogue of necessary distractions for Monday and Tuesday:

  • Editing more of the animatics for The Data Writer.
  • Going to see La Dolce Vita on the big screen. Pure bliss, and what a different film it was from what I remembered! If you're in Dallas, make sure you don't miss it when it opens at the Angelika on December 3rd. One thing (out of many) that sticks in my head is the very end, when the little girl is calling to Marcello across the bay. As I watched it, I thought I saw her mouth the words "I love you" (her voice is drowned out by the waves). I thought it a beautiful touch, and it was only hours later that I realized she couldn't have said that because, of course, she was speaking Italian.
  • Trying to write a few different things. Listening to Elliot Smith's final and possibly best album. Not looking at my phone to see if I missed any calls.
  • Going to sleep to the sound of falling rain. Waking up to the same.
  • Listening to Madonna on Fresh Air and thinking that she sounds like a wonderful mother. Sandra Oh's subsequent interview was overall more appealing, though.
  • Writing with James on the new screenplay (now there are two people trying not to look at their phones). Reaching page 15 before simultaneously (seriously, it was one of those looking-up-at-each-other-at-the-same-time kind of moments) deciding that we needed to throw it away and start over from scratch. Which we do.
  • Not looking at the phone some more. Considering going for a sad walk in the freezing rain, because it feels right.
  • Drinking wine with Nick and Kara and James and Amy (someday there'll be six of us) and discussing (as always) films and each other as a winter wind blows all the leaves from the trees outside.
  • Meaning to aks Kara if she would feel comfortable doing production design on Drift, when and if it gets off the ground. Consistently forgetting.
  • Getting ready to go to bed before the sun rises, feeling, at least, like we can rest more easily, if not completeley contentedly.
  • This will all make more sense later. Or it might not.

    Posted by David Lowery at 4:23 AM

    November 22, 2004

    I wrote in my profile on the Deadroom website that I think in colors when I'm conceptualizing a film. That was my way of saying that I don't really think things through in the literal sense...I just trust my sense of what feels right.

    That's something I'll continue to do, but in this downtime between productions, I've been struggling to understand the various schools of filmmaking that have informed that instinct of mine over the years. To that end, I've been engaged in a series of e-mails with Matt Clayfield on the evolution of our personal styles, and what filmmakers (and, in my case at least, novelists) have influenced that progression. We've decided to put these conversations online in an academically serialized form, thinking that perhaps someone other than ourselves might find them interesting -- if not now, then perhaps, hopefully, in a retrospective sense. If nothing else, these exchanges are providing an incredibly satisfying mental workout, and -- as any sort of serious thinking will do for just about any subject -- pushing my appreciation of cinema to ever higher levels.

    And most importantly: as always, the more I understand the rules, the more comfortably it is that I can break them.

    Posted by David Lowery at 4:56 AM

    November 19, 2004

    A few people might know what I mean when I say that I feel like it's like the run-up to election night all over again.

    P.S. The Barney film turned out to be nothing but The Order. Oh well. Furthermore, the person exhibiting it didn't realize that's what it was and kept trying to play it again, convinced there was more to it. That was actually pretty funny, and I should have said something, but I didn't. Furthermore, they lost the film about Derrida and didn't show that at all. It was still a long day of good movies.

    Also, if anyone reading this happens to have seen Luis Bunuel's los Olvidados, can you tell me what happens in the last eight minutes? The ancient VHS copy I found cut off right at the climax. I hate it when that happens.

    Posted by David Lowery at 11:37 PM

    November 17, 2004

    I woke up, sleep still pressing violently on my skull, with this sentence forming in my head that went something like I'll pour this island over you; followed by some description of contrasting colors, all delivered like an invective to a spurned lover or something like that. I wish I remembered what it was exactly; I recall thinking that it wasn't a great sentence, but that it was really fascinating nonetheless. I need to start writing things down.

    I was waking up early to catch a screening of The Assasination Of Richard Nixon. I'll save my thoughts on the film itself for later, but I do want to mention something from the press notes. Apparently, Alfonso Cuaron and his producing partner Jorge Vergara fronted the cash for the film entirely by themselves, mostly with the profits they made from Y Tu Mama Tambien. Also today, I read an LA Times article about the failure of The Polar Express, in which it was revealed that neither Tom Hanks nor Robert Zemeckis cut their extravagantly high fees for this inherently risky project. Compare and contrast.

    I watched what are perhaps Alain Resnais's two most famous films, Night And Fog (1955) and Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959) back-to-back tonight. Both of which I've seen before, but felt a strong urge to revisit. Particularly the latter, which had the curious ability to leave an enormous impression on me and yet evade my recollection entirely in the year or so since I first viewed it. Certain images left their mark, and the feel of it is especially indelible, but what about the specific content?

    Watching it again this evening was revalatory. It was like a brand new film, although I had a constant sense of deja vu as I watched it; the images I remembered were there, but entire scenes filled in the spaces between them that are so good that I cannot believe I forgot them. I think I understood the film quite well, but at the same time, I could go in and analyze it on a shot by shot or cut by cut basis (and indeed, much of the meaning of the film is in the juxtaposition: of image upon image, past upon present, dialogue upon inner monologue -- this is clearly the work of an editor-turned-director) and probably never completely reach the bottom of it.

    Going in the first time, perhaps I was burdened by the comments of Soderbergh, on whose recommendation I checked it out in the first place. Free of that, with nothing but a strong desire to explore the film, I discovered that perhaps my hazy memory of it is not my own fault. Resnais has constructed a film that is almost nothing but hazy memories, interspersed with sudden, soothing, shocking moments of clarity. The flashbacks are not flashbacks, just as the progressive narrative is not necessarily meant to be the present. I think the film is summed up best by its two characters in two separate soliloquies. First, and perhaps most eloquently, the Japanese gentleman (played by Eiji Okada) expresses his thoughts on the love affair that is central to the film:

    When years have passed and I've forgotten and other stories just like this one happen again and again, as they're bound to keep happening, I'll look upon you as the image of love without memory. Possibly I shall look upon you as the torment of forgetting. This I know.

    Near the very end of the film, his lover (Emanuelle Riva) offers her take on their romance:

    Just as it was with him, I'll first forget your eyes, the same way. Then, I'll forget your voice, the same way. Then I will forget all of you, piece by piece. You will turn into a song.

    I feel at the moment that I can't say anything about the film that isn't already explained better in those two quotes. See the film; and if you've seen it once (as the cliche goes), you really haven't seen it at all.

    I was hoping to add Last Year At Marienbad to the evening's viewings, but it'll have to wait.

    Full day tomorrow: Hotel Rwanda followed by Alexander followed by a Matthew Barney-Jacques Derrida double feature at a local college. See you on the other side.

    Posted by David Lowery at 5:39 PM

    James and I began a screenplay collaboration today. Ten pages in so far. So far so good. We're laboring under the impression that it would befit us all to have respective prospective projects ready to show people within the next few months. And if not, well, at least we'll have them when we do need them. I already have my personal troika, and Yen has his. More to come.

    The new Tom Waits album is damn fine. Especially track 2, Hoist.

    Anticipating a Resnais day tomorrow.

    Posted by David Lowery at 2:40 AM | Comments (1)

    November 16, 2004

    I've been assisting my brother with a CGI short film he's working on called The Data Writer. It's amazing -- and it's not even past the animatic stage yet. I'm convinced it has a chance at the Best Animated Short Film Oscar at the 2006 Academy Awards. The character and environment he's created are really stunning, and I've been lending a hand in the visual composition/editing department, helping him pick out the best shots to convey the story (which is silent, and is sort of, in an indirect way, about an anthropomorphic computer processor becoming self-aware). I was struck by what a wonderful exercise in economic visual storytelling this sort of filmmaking is. Imagine the literally endless possibilities of nonlinear editing systems, and then apply that to the actual principal photography stage: that's what this is like. And when you have unlimited possibilities, you really have to think about what's best for the narrative.

    It's sort of addictive, actually -- I'm tempted to say that this sort of filmmaking doesn't compare to being on a real set with real actors and a real camera, but at the same time, it's such a different style of working that I really don't think I could put one above another. It's a completely different animal. I don't know if I'd ever want to make an entire feature film this way, but I'm certainly enjoying this small dose.

    I was at the library this morning, selecting my reading for the next week or two, and I found a screenplay called The Gardener's Son, by none other than Cormac McCarthy. I finished it a few moments ago; it's a lot like one of his novels, minus the descriptive passages -- thus, it's very short. It was produced for a PBS series in 1976. I'll have to add that to the list, alongside that Nick Cave-penned prison movie, of obscurities I'd like to track down someday when I have money to spare.

    Posted by David Lowery at 12:30 AM

    November 14, 2004

    In lieu of other information that I'm too tired/wired to type up at the moment, here's some film related NPR goodness:

    ~ In answer to James' query the other night, the voice of Violet in The Incredibles is actually the film debut of This American Life's Sarah Vowell.

    ~ Robert Altman's next film (after the one he's shooting now) will be a film version of the long running Prairie Home Companion, apparently set behind the scenes of the show. How supremely perfect is that? Joining the cast will be Tom Waits and Lyle Lovett, among others. I think this particular radio show inhabits one of my earliest memories, because I know that when I discovered Roger Ebert's Movie Home Companion at the age of five, I thought it had something to do with this program that bored me to tears whenever my parents listened to it in the car (I have, of course, since realized the erroneous nature of that early opinion -- particularly when, last week, they had a monologue outlining the reasons why Born Again Christians should not be allowed to vote).

    ~ This isn't really film related (unless you're a filmmaker like me who finds enormous inspiration in music) but if you live in DFW or you listen to streaming NPR online, join me tonight (and every Sunday night) in listening to Paul Slaven's 90.1 At Night music show, which is so good that I've been finding reasons to either a.) drive a lot or b.) stay home on Sunday nights just to listen to it. It's fast becoming my dedicated writing time (not that I don't write on a daily basis -- it's just that the hours are generally pretty shifty). If you listen to it, you may well hear a track or two from Curtis Heath and that band he's in.

    Not related to NPR but perhaps far more interesting to the cinema-minded reader is this interview with Jim Jarmusch from The Guardian, in which you will learn, among other fascinating things, why Nick Cave will no longer visit adult bookstores with Jarmusch, and that Jarmusch is, indeed, a vegetarian.

    Okay, enough of that. I've gotta get up in three hours for Yen's second staged reading and then some short films and then...something else too, probably, but I'm forgetting what.

    Posted by David Lowery at 5:09 AM

    November 12, 2004

    Pulling Eisenstein's The Film Sense off the shelves, studying Undertow to try to determine the roots of this decision or that, weighing the leigitmacy of said decisions, wondering how it all applies to what I want to do -- my mind's been reeling with possibilities all night. Why have I never thought about these things before? Well, I have -- but actually putting them into relatable terms is something I'm not used to. Or, to quote Mrs. Woolf and substitute a girl for theory:

    When he was with her he could not analyse her qualities, because he seemed to know them instinctivley, but when he was away from her it sometimes seemed to him that he did not know her at all.

    Posted by David Lowery at 3:55 AM

    November 11, 2004

    Today is the kind of day where classic Danny Elfman scores are required listening.

    What are some of your favorite examples of montage, as defined by the Russians in general and Eisenstein in particular (i.e. montage in which, to paraphrase The Complete Film Dictionary, shots are arranged in such a way that their juxtaposition creates meanings realized by the audience)? At this particular moment, mine are:

    1. The shot of the nursing baby looking up from it's mother's breast while, in another shot, Joan is burned at the stake in Dreyer's The Passion Of Joan Of Arc.

    2. The entire fifteen minutes of Un Chien Andelou, in which, if Bunuel and Dali are to be believed, the meaning of the film is not only realized by the audience, but realized solely by them, with no subconscious input from the filmmakers (although by selecting the images to be included in the film, I would think the filmmakers inherently participated in the same process that occurs in the audience as the film is viewed).

    Different theories of editing have been on my mind over the past few days as I've been sorting out my thoughts in a series of e-mails (and more on those later, perhaps). Eisenstein was the first theorist I ever was aware of, in terms of juxtapoiton; interestingly, I learned about him not through film but when I was studying (seriously) comic books back in junior high (while on the subject, let me strongly recommend Scott McCloud's groundbreaking Understanding Comics to anyone interested in any sort of visual art medium). I'm not sure who the defining auteur would be in the opposing theories -- Renoir? DeSica? I need to do some research -- but I've found myself drifting further away from the Soviet methods as I've grown fonder of lengthy takes and invisible cuts; and yet, the emotion that can be brought about through sharply contrasting two disparate elements remains enormously attractive to me.

    I went to see Tarnation with my mom last night. She found it directly comparable to her other favorite film this year, The Passion Of The Christ. Now I'm about to head out again to see Undertow, which has some subtle biblical overtones to it as well, in the mythic sense. It also has a very Elfman-esque score by Phillip Glass. Man, I just can't resist finding parallels between everything I write about here. Sort of like the zippo speech in The Dreamers.

    Also, read James's latest bit of writing; I think it's pretty moving.

    Posted by David Lowery at 5:04 PM

    November 10, 2004

    As if in answer to my Netflix lament, screener season seems to have started today. I'm glad I didn't buy Eternal Sunshine already. Also, that bit I wrote below about 'affronting my sense of independence' came off a bit more egotistical than it should have. I should say that I'm proud that I've paid for all my films -- but I'd have let someone else pay for them quite readily.

    The trailer for Walter Salles' remake of Hideo Nakata's best film, Dark Water, is now online. It looks pretty much exactly like the original, and while the only somewhat intriguing trailer gives no hint as to the real crux of the film (no sign of ghostly little girls), I imagine Touchstone wants to make sure this doesn't get confused with The Ring 2, which is coming out around the same time -- and which, of course, is directed by Nakata himself. The original Dark Water is the only one of the recent Japanese horror films that actually contained some real emotional depth in addition to its prototypical scares; with Salles onboard -- and the pretty impressive cast to boot -- I'd expect that to be maintained in the remake, if not enhanced.

    Posted by David Lowery at 6:56 PM

    I went to a screening of Brad Anderson's The Machinist this morning; appropriate, since I'm on the second day of a cleansing fast (still drinking coffee, though). Just looking at Christian Bale's physique made me feel more exhausted than I already was. In addition to physical starvation, I'm on a serious Netflix withdrawal at the moment. Hopefully, after Christmas I can restart my queue, but until then I'll be hungering for more Godard, more Bergman, more Fellini and Antonioni, more classics by directors whose works I've scarcely scratched the surface of and others that need revisiting. I feel increasingly insatiable, and have started perusing my own 200 or so DVDs, looking for films I've forgotten about or haven't seen within the last year or so.

    Yen helped me put together some query letters to potential production companies he scouted out concerning Drift. This is something that, surprisingly, I've only done once or twice before, and that was years ago. I've become so set in my self-financed ways that I've forgotten how to go about seeking external assistance; in a way, it's almost an affront to my bullheaded sense of independence, but it is that sense that will be the death of me (or my career) if I don't learn to suppress it. The idea of actually getting paid to make my own movie is somehow beyond my grasp at the moment, but it's something I need -- and to achieve it I'll need the help of others. Regardless, at this point I plan on being in pre-pro on Drift by this time next year. I know I can make it on whatever level I have means to at that time.

    Still waiting on some important Deadroom news (James, put your phone on vibrate and never take it out of your pocket).

    More later when my brain has more protein in it.

    Posted by David Lowery at 12:45 AM

    November 9, 2004

    I really want this jacket.

    Posted by David Lowery at 2:53 AM

    November 8, 2004

    I've managed a handful of two hour naps in the past four days, and I feel so revitalized. A lack of sleep does wonders for my sense of self-worth.

    Seeing Fellini Satyricon was a pretty remarkable experience. It was like some sort of magical nightmare (and indeed, I had some pretty vivid and intense dreams about it afterwards). The 'plot' makes sense only in the most primal sense, and it reminded me instantly of this quote from the fellow who got me into Fellini in the first place, Tim Burton:

    The thing I liked about Fellini was that he created images that even if you didn't know what they meant literally, you felt something. It's not creating images to create images. And even though I didn't fully understand a lot of what he was saying, I could feel a heart behind it. That's what his work meant to me, that things don't have to be literal, you don't have to understand everything.

    I imagine he was speaking for most of Fellini's work, but it's an almost perfect description of how Satyricon works -- excpet that it doesn't seem to have much of a heart behind it; it's almost entirely lacking in his usual compassion. In fact, the film reminded me of a great many things, least of all any other film by Fellini; if I had seen it without knowing what it was or who directed it, I would never have guessed it was one of his works. It seemed most similar to Jodorowsky's work, particularly El Topo, which was made the same year -- although even that was more coherent than this. And there are other signs of future allusion as well; I know Julie Tamour most have watched this a few times before making Titus, and I have a feeling George Lucas might have let it seep into his subconscious as well. I'd throw Matthew Barney's name out there as well, but I've got a feeling any similarities between this and the Cremaster Cycle are purely the result of unintentional creative trespassing. Oh, and it reminded me too of Fritz Lang's adaptation of The Oddysey from Godard's Contempt -- the few shots we see of it, at least.

    While I heartily endorse the film, I also I have a feeling that, had I seen it on the small screen, I wouldn't have reacted so positively; it's mythical qualities demand a large canvas, and its elliptical, nearly impenetrable narrative demands utmost attention -- something that might be hard to deliver in any environment less enveloping than a cinema. I certainly wouldn't recommend it to anyone unfamiliar with Fellini, either; there's a chance it could turn a person off to the rest of his work (just for the record, I always suggest starting with Armacord). Indeed, a few of the friends who joined me at the film didn't think too highly of it at all.

    This reminds me -- La Dolce Vita returns to the big screen in Dallas for one week starting December 3rd. Another addition to my list of things to be excited about.

    Some friends through a Dios De Los Muertos party the other night. It was a swell time until the cops showed up. Then the cops left and the swellness began again and continued until 5 am, at which point I had to drive home to grab a catnap before going to the filmmaker panel Yen was on at the Outtakes Film Festival. I'm sure he'll write about how he ended up owning the discussion on his own blog.

    Posted by David Lowery at 2:17 AM

    November 5, 2004

    Me being me, I have to mention the Star Wars: Episode III trailer that the world excitedly turned its eyes to yesterday. My thoughts? I suggest that you definitely do not download it; rather, wait to see it on the big screen, where it will probably impress you at least a little bit. If you do watch it online, you'll realize much more quickly what a lazy teaser it really is. The first half, made up of footage that bridges the original trilogy and the prequels, is wonderful -- but then all the new stuff starts happening, and it's just kinda unexciting. Very little atmosphere and lots of the CGI we already know to expect (i.e. not impressive whatosever). The shot of Vader is so predictable, too; I hope it works better in the film itself. The whole thing, including the awkward sound mix, just feels rushed and sloppy.

    Aside from that awesome shot of the Wookies (Wookies!) on their planet and the droids on the perfectly recreated Tantiv IV Blockade Runner, this is the first prequel trailer that hasn't left me completely elevated and excited beyond belief. Which is probably a good thing, actually. It'll leave me completely unprepared to be blown away come May.

    I saw the trailer on The Incredible, of course, which is as good as you could possibly hope. Personally, it didn't reach the same heights for me as Pixar's Monsters Inc. or Brad Bird's The Iron Giant, but in many less subjective aspects. this is a superior work to both of those. And the utterly charming short attached to the front of it, Boundin', is the closest any cinematic work has come to approximating the magic of Doctor Seuss. Pixar, how do I love thee? Well, for one thing I'd love to work for you...

    Off now to a midnight screening of Fellini Satyricon, and then two sweet hours of sleep.

    Posted by David Lowery at 10:15 PM

    November 3, 2004

    It's really cold today, which usually makes me happy. I did the best thing I could do this morning: I went to see a French film that was virulently anti-war. Granted, Jeunet's A Very Long Engagement is a US co-production, but hey, any unity between nations is a good thing. The movie, while good, is no Amelie -- but its politics warmed my heart when the romance did not. Review forthcoming.

    When I finally got tired of looking at polls last night, I watched Citizen Kane (and was going to have a Joseph Cotten/Orson Welles double feature by following it up with The Third Man, but the morning was drawing near). Kane impressed me again, this time not just by living up to its legend but by surprising me with its narrative economy. I think on past viewings, I've been so dazzled by the technical virtuosity that I've neglected to pay attention to how simple the film really is, structurally, and how well Welles picks and chooses what parts of this man's life we get to see. I think if this movie were to be made today, it would push on the three hour mark. But Welles manages to select all the right moments, zipping through years without giving us the sense that we're getting the short end of this man's life story. I think this is because, throughout the whole film, Kane's political and business ambitions take second stage, narratively, to his personal relationships -- through which those ambitions still shine, more subtly but just as pertinently as if there had been an equal number of scenes devoted solely to them.

    Anyway, back to business. As I wait for an important phone call/e-mail (or lack thereof), here are some things I've been reading:

    -- Fimoculous Rex's interview with the maker of a documentary I really want to see: Chuck Olsen's Blogumentary.

    -- The Guardian's interview with The Yes Men, in which they discuss not only the political stunts shown in the movie but a few more they've pulled off since then which sound even more wonderful.

    -- The Onion's interview with Brad Bird, whose unparalleled masterpiece, The Iron Giant, feels like something I really want to revisit right now.

    -- Harper's Guide To Expatriation, also pointed at by Fimouclous Rex (no mention of New Zealand, though, my destination of choice).

    Posted by David Lowery at 5:30 PM | Comments (1)

    You can feel it coiling in your stomach like a strong drink, only cold.

    I suppose things could always be worse.

    Posted by David Lowery at 1:51 AM | Comments (3)

    November 2, 2004

    I've never felt as nervous dropping a package off at Fed Ex as I did this evening.

    That nervousness was assuaged shortly thereafter by Jonathan Glazer's Birth, which is one of those movies that is not perfect but comes so close to greatness so frequently -- even breaching the line a few times, particularly in several extended close ups of Nicole Kidman's face -- that its flaws are hard to remember afterwards. It's also one of those movies most audiences hate. I wish it had been a platform release; it would have made the same amount of money over the weekend, but it would be seen as a respectable beginning rather than an immediate failure. Plus, it would allow people to see it with a respectful audience that won't start talking when it gets bored.

    But still -- despite its monetary failure, what a wonderful thing it is that a movie like this can get made at all. And that Kidman seeks out projects like these and gets behind them to the extent that she does (she pushed New Line to give Glazer more time and money to complete the film -- and I can't wait to see what she does with Wong Kar Wai). I've commented on this phenomenon before, but it never ceases to inspire me when I see that such unique and inspired creativity can flower amongst corporate bureaucracy.

    I went for my run around midnight and kept coming across earthworms, the foot long variety that are more akin to snakes, making their way across the road. Some already severed by tires, their dominant halves continuing onward with open ends. Baby ones too, barely big enough to move. I scooped up all the ones I saw and carried them to whichever side of the road they were working their way towards. There was something desperate and chilling about it... a mass migration that in the late hour had some strong sense of apocalyptic foreboding.

    It's still November 1st for me, but according to this blog's clock it's the 2nd. I feel like I did on Christmas Eve when I was younger and was too excited to go to sleep...except then I always knew I'd be getting presents in the morning, whereas tomorrow there's a big chance that we'll all be receiving a great big lump of coal.

    Posted by David Lowery at 2:37 AM | Comments (3)