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October 31, 2005

Allow me to present to you the fruits of our labors from the other night: our Five Second Study. Considering that none of us are makeup artists and we didn't really know exactly what we were doing when we set out to make it, we're all pretty pleased with the results, and hope that you enjoy them as well. It was a lot of fun to make (for Curtis and I, at least - although Valerie said it was just as much fun to lay there and watch us freak out every time we looked at her).

(NOTE: I have a feeling that on some monitors, the video clip may be too dark to see; here's an alternate version that is inferior but possibly clearer.)

We hung out again tonight, along with James and Amy, and passed out candy and went for a walk to look at decorations and carved pumpkins and watched the original Todd Browning Dracula with the Phillip Glass/Kronos Quartet score, which I'd already spent most of the day listening to on repeat (also enjoyable was the local classical music station's evening melange of horror movie scores, which covered everything from Hermann to Steiner to Williams to Shore), and also an episode of Alfred Hitchock Presents. Now I'm back home, and am about to watch Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (the awesome 70s version). I have to get some editing done afterwards, but I've got some more horror films that I'll be playing in the background while I work.

And so my favorite holiday has come and gone once again. But it's been a wonderful weekend, and, in the words of the Mayor from The Nightmare Before Christmas: it's only 364 days until next Halloween!

Posted by David Lowery at 6:11 PM | Comments (4)

October 30, 2005

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Pictured above are Curtis and Valerie at this evening's Halloween party.

Prior to that, we went to a screening of Murnau's Nosferatu, also with a live score. Rather than an entire orchestra, however, the music this time was provided by a three piece band, whose improvised accompaniments ranged from entirely tasteless to palatable to somewhat serviceable. I wish I had brough my iPod so I could pick out some more suitable score to go along with the film, which nonetheless was strong enough (of course) to hold its own against the musical affrontery.

As soon as it was over, I drove home and put on my costume.

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For the past few years, I've just been content going out as a blanched and/or bleeding revenant, but this season I was determined to make more of the opportunity. Up until the other day, I'd been growing a beard with the intention of shaving it into a horsehoe and dressing up as a cowboy or something. Then I found my sister's homecoming dress and changed my mind.

Tomorrow, Halloween proper, will probably be relatively quiet. More films will be viewed, company will be shared, that video will be uploaded, candy will be passed out - and I have to finish giving a lecture in my literature class, which is scary enough in its own right.

Posted by David Lowery at 11:59 AM | Comments (2)

October 29, 2005

The Festivities Continue...

marymargarethalloween.jpgI helped my little sisters put together costumes for their Halloween party. Mary Margaret (age 10), went as a depressed punk rock kid, complete with a tie, safety pins and my Chuck Taylors (three sizes to big for her).

Sometime later, I went over to Curtis and Valerie's house, where we ate dinner while listening to a bizarrely pornographic haunted house sound effects record. Our plans for the evening consisted of making a short seasonal piece of cinema. We spent about six hours shooting it, managing to freak ourselves out fairly consistently in the process. While we worked, we watched Lucio Fulci's simultaneously idiotic and epic masterpiece, The Beyond. We'd been hoping to finish in time to go catch the midnight show of Evil Dead II at the Inwood, but time slipped away from us.

Once we had wrapped up this work of morbid creativity, I went home to edit it. It turned out beautifully - all three seconds of it! I'm hoping to have it online for viewing, in all of its abbreviated glory, on Monday.

Right now, I'm closing out the day by watching one of my 'canonical' pictures: Bram Stoker's Dracula, which I think if Coppola's fourth or fifth best picture - and, as it has not a single digital effect or enhancement in it, perhaps the last great work of truly classical filmmaking, and the last time an optical printer had a really good workout (on a studio film, at least). This film and I go way back. My history with it might be good material for another post, another day: it's a long story, and tonight, I just feel like enjoying it. I will mention, however, that Wojciech Kilar's score is another one of my all-time favorites.

Tomorrow: more films, and my own Halloween costume...

Posted by David Lowery at 11:59 AM | Comments (3)

October 28, 2005

It's Halloween weekend!

My celebration began today with a long-awaited viewing of Jack Clayton's 1961 adaptation of Henry James' 'The Turn Of The Screw,' The Innocents.

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I've been wanting to see this film ever since the (rather terrifying) scene depicted above was mentioned somewhere in the pages of 'Lynch On Lynch,' but it was unavailable on DVD until just a few weeks ago. It's without doubt one of the best cinematic ghost stories I've ever seen. It's legitimately frightening; although there are some overt scares, the best ones come and go so quickly that by the time you've had a moment to think about them, and realize how scared you are, they're already long over, leaving you with a profound sense of unease that is sustained long after the film is over (I'm scaring myself right now, just thinking about that first appearance of Miss Jessell).

The b/w Cinemascope photography by Freddie Francis (who went on to shoot a few Lynch films) is outstanding, and the disturbing sound design seems ahead of its time: was anyone else using drones to such effect back in 1961? The screenplay (co-written by Truman Capote) is a model of perfection in literary adaptation. It sticks close to James' novella, but nudges certain elements forward (that transgressive kiss at the very end, for example) and holds other things back (the religious element, suggested so succinctly during the opening credits).

The Shining is the best haunted house movie ever, but The Innocents certainly falls into place right behind it, alongside Wise's The Haunting, and probably a few others that are slipping my mind. Anyone have any favorites they'd like to recommend?

The day continued at the Meyerson Symphony Hall, where the Dallas Symphony Orchestra provided a live score to a screening of a beautifully restored print of the 1925 version of The Phantom Of The Opera. Although our front row seats weren't ideal for film-viewing, it as still an altogether grand experience. Lon Chaney's performance has always been beyond reproach, but seeing it on the big screen was just...well, let me just say that it made the musical seem that much worse. That Chaney's big reveal still manages to elicit shrieks is a beautiful thing indeed.

Then it was on to the Angelika, for the midnight show of The Roost, which opens in Dallas this weekend. Everyone loved it. Curtis and Valerie were dressed up as Dios De Los Muertos skeletons, which made me feel underdressed.

Ti's film left me in the mood to go home and watch some old horror movies on TV. Of course, there weren't any on (at least on broadcast - I don't get cable), so I popped in Lucky McKee's brilliant May instead. Which I'm watching right now, as I type this. I'm at the scene with the blind children and the doll. You know the one - and if you don't, you should, as soon as possible.

More to come tomorrow...

Posted by David Lowery at 11:49 PM | Comments (1)

October 27, 2005

I find myself oddly comforted by the news that Darren Arronofsky is going to direct an episode of Lost.

Posted by David Lowery at 11:20 PM | Comments (2)

October 26, 2005

I love that I can now wear a jacket when I go running, and I love that each summer without fail wipes clear my memory of winter so that the cold can sneak up and surprise me.

Anyway: my review of Where The Truth Lies is now online, as is my short interview with its director, Atom Egoyan.

About that interview: my seemingly foolproof but ultimately foolhardy plan for recording our telephone conversation in Soundtrack Pro, implemented so as to expedite the transcription process, failed me. Thus, the interview is missing the second half of Egoyan's answer to my first question, and the entirety of the three subsequent questions I posed. In a nutshell, his fascinating answers to these questions covered the fact that the telethon and various acts performed in the film by Colin Firth and Kevin Bacon were rehearsed extensively; that staging Wagner's Die Walkure for Canadian theater just prior to production had, in retrospect, an immense effect on how he directed the film; and that the film might be considered mainstream in that it deals with popular entertainment, but whether or not it is a 'commercial effort' will be determined by whether anyone actually goes to see it.

And despite my mixed review, I do recommend going to see it; partially because Atom Egoyan's films are always worthy of consideration, and partially because it's important to support films and filmmakers and distributors that have the courage to shuck the MPAA.

Posted by David Lowery at 12:58 AM | Comments (4)

October 25, 2005

Auditions are such a trying thing that I never remember how much I dislike them until I'm holding them again.

At the same time, it's always exciting when you meet cool people. And that's all I'm doing this time: meeting people. I'm not giving anyone sides to read, or asking them to perform in any way. We just talk. It puts people on the spot in a different sort of way.

Posted by David Lowery at 12:38 PM

October 24, 2005

I just realized that Brad Mitchell's site has turned into a blog. He's already signed on to do sound design for The Outlaw Son, and we've got some additional collaborations in the works as well. I love interstate collaborations; it feels so hi-tech!

* * *

I was looking at Time's list of the 100 greatest novels since 1923, and while it does smell suspiciously of tokenism, I don't feel I can comment too harshly on it, since I've only read 24 of the selected titles (25 if you count my many aborted attempts to make it through Lord Of The Rings), most of which are indeed excellent. More thoughts, all of which I am in complete agreement with, over at Long Pauses.

* * *

I've seen three films in the past 24 hours:

1. The best was the midnight screening of Vertigo, which, I was pleased to see, was packed. It was fun to go with Yen, since he'd never seen it before; Vertigo is one of those pictures that's almost never as good as it was the first time, and so it's nice to be able to re-experience the film vicariously.

2. Prior to that, I went to see a film that I'd been unable to muster much interest in until this review finally convinced me to give it a shot. It was decent. I can see how it could be more than decent for others, but personally, I find I can only truly embrace Joss Whedon's writing when it's coming from the mouths of superhuman teenage/teenage-minded girls or talking toys.

3. Bright and early this morning, I watched Cronenberg's Shivers. Videodrome aside, I'm sadly ignorant of his pre-Dead Ringers filmography, and have slowly been filling up my Netflix queue with everything that's available. What a debut this was! I absolutely loved it. On the recently recorded interview with Cronenberg on the DVD, he recalled his trouble adapting to the experience of making a film with a large crew, and not operating the camera himself. It was a sentiment I related too all too well:

"I had to learn how to use the machinery of film, how to in fact abstract that rectangle of film from all the chaos, all the people, all the temperaments, all the egos, and just get back to only concerning myself with what was in the frame."

I wish it hadn't taken me one and a half films to learn the same thing.

Posted by David Lowery at 1:04 AM | Comments (2)

October 23, 2005

I received an e-mail yesterday from a gentleman who came across and appreciated my review of Birth; since I've disabled comments at Reversing The Gaze, and since his response is very much worth reading, I thought I'd post it here:

"...I just wanted to add a couple of observations that might be even more helpful. First, in that marvelous long take of Anna's face, that's not a symphony she's listening to. She and her husband are at the opera, and they get to their seats just in time for the 1st Act Prologue to Wagner's 'Die Walküre.' We hear almost the entire Prologue during that shot. If it went on much longer, we would have heard the singing begin, as the exhausted Siegmund stumbles into the forest home of Hunding. This is important for two reasons: Siegmund's arrival at Hunding's home ends up breaking up the marriage of Hunding and his wife Sieglinde, as Sean almost does with Anna and Joseph's engagement in Birth. Second, Siegmund not only steals Sieglinde from Hunding, but beds her, even though she is his long lost sister—thus, a 'forbidden' love like Anna's love for a 10-year-old boy in Birth.
"Second, the scene in which Joseph interrupts a chamber concert to have it out with Sean and ends up spanking him is a direct quote from another Kubrick film, Barry Lyndon. So in Birth we have a virtual rhapsody on Kubrick themes, with direct reference to not only The Shining and Eyes Wide Shut but also A Clockwork Orange (a little), Barry Lyndon, and Lolita (forbidden love between tormented adult and precocious child). And one more: I kept asking myself, Why is this movie entitled Birth? It's not about a birth—though if Sean did turn out to be Sean, you could say that the premise of the film was that Anna's husband Sean entered the body of newborn baby Sean at the moment of his death, and so the film was about (re)Birth. But Sean turns out not to be Sean (though there's a good possibility in my mind that Sean IS Sean, after all, and he just knew about Sean and Anna, not about Sean's affair with Clara, because that was something the dead Sean regretted and wanted to leave dead). So except for the one shot of the newborn baby at the very beginning of the film, nothing more is said about birth of any kind. So whose 'birth' are we interested in? Maybe Anna's 'birth' into something new? Think 2001: A Space Odyssey.
"Brahms's First Symphony has frequently been referred to as 'Beethoven's Tenth' because of what Brahms got from Beethoven, and the new direction in which he took it. I think Glazer's Birth is Kubrick's 14th."

The esteem in which I hold Glazer's film has risen consistently and considerably in the year since it opened, and reading these comments on it only made me want to watch it again. Yen, do you still have my screener copy? For the time being, I'll just listen to Alexandre Desplat's divine score, which cycles through my iPod at least once a week.

Posted by David Lowery at 3:09 AM | Comments (4)

October 22, 2005

I missed the press screenings of Capote last month, and didn't get a chance to see it until tonight, when it opened here in Dallas. In almost all regards, it's a towering achievement. James caught it in LA a few weeks ago and has been hyping it to for me quite a bit since then, but I think it's safe to say that - for the time being, at least - it's pretty much buzz-proof.

There is a technically overt jump cut in the last ten minutes of the film that I can't get out of my head. It perplexes me (in a good way). It's so fast that it is practically invisible - but that's the point; I think this cut has at least a bit to do with why the ending is so upsetting. I'm curious as to how many other people consciously noticed it. Talking about it doesn't really spoil anything in the film, but still, I'll relegate further discussion of it (should any occur) to the comments below.

Another night, another film to add to the ever-growing list of those I feel deserve to be written about at greater length....

Posted by David Lowery at 2:48 AM | Comments (6)

October 21, 2005

Today I was supposed to a.) finish my review of The Squid And The Whale and Where The Truth Lies, b.) organize and respond to all the headshots I've received over the past few days, c.) study for the literature exam I have in the morning and d.) edit, edit, edit.

Instead, I a.) read the same things online over and over again, b.) took a nap, c.) went to the fair and rode whichever rides seemed most likely to shatter my sense equilbrium and/or push me towards terminal velocity and d.) am now about to go to bed, exhausted from doing just about nothing.

Actually, I'm really craving a cup of coffee right now.

Posted by David Lowery at 2:11 AM | Comments (3)

October 20, 2005

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Those of you who were reading this journal way back in the halcyon days of the Deadroom festival circuit may remember that one of the coolest things that happened while we were in Philadelphia was that Ti West, director of the wonderful horror picture The Roost, came out to our first screening. We had met him at SXSW, where both of our films premiered. His sound designer Graham showed up for the second show, and we all had a great time hanging out and having lots to drink (that's all we did in Philadelphia, actually).

Since then, I knew the film had a pretty successful festival run (it was at Sitges a few weeks back) and that a deal was being worked out with Showtime. And then last week I was at the Angelika for some press screening and I saw a brand new poster for The Roost with a release date: October 21st. I went home and, a few e-mails later, snagged a quick interview with Ti. You can read it here.

If you're luck enough to be in one of the six major markets in which The Roost is opening, don't miss it. It's seriously the only good genre film opening this Halloween (except for two out of the three segments in Three...Extremes).

Posted by David Lowery at 12:34 AM | Comments (2)

October 19, 2005

A musical interlude:

1. Those twenty-two Elliot Smith bootlegs that leaked online the other day are wonderful. I don't know when or if they'll be officially released, but I hope they aren't cleaned up in any way.

2. The only time I ever turn on the Letterman show is to see certain musicians. The last time was when Tom Waits sang Make It Rain last year and then told a joke about an alligator; tonight, Antony & The Johnsons were on. They played You Are My Sister, and, as I expected, Antony sounded even better live than he does on the record. He was also on NPR last week; I was driving to school, and those opening notes of Hope There's Someone came on the radio just the sun came up over the horizon. It was a wonderful moment, and it made my day, even though I subsequently went on to just about fail my history exam.

3. I can't get Andrew Dickson's score for Naked out of my head. I'm hearing it now over various sequences in The Outlaw Son, which until now had been entirely silent. I think they'll still end up being silent, but this mental musical infusion is changing the way I've conceived the scenes, giving them new focus and purpose. I'm unsure as to whether or not this is a good thing.

4. I told Nick that instead of discussing a visual scheme for the film, I was just going to give him a mix CD and that we'd just talk about that instead, and he could light the film accordingly. I was only halfway joking.

Posted by David Lowery at 1:06 AM | Comments (9)

October 18, 2005

I finally wrote thank-you letters to the TFPF panelists the other day. I received the check a few weeks ago, but keep forgetting to deposit it. James has the Kodak grant, since he's going to be taking care of ordering the stock (500T-7279, we're thinking). We had a brief pre-production meeting the other night, (I've put a bit of moratorium on the term 'meeting,' though'). We reminded ourselves that the start of principal photography has tentatively been set for December 17. I'm pretty sure I know which shot I'll shoot first, and it's an exterior, and I have this vision in my head of a light snowfall just as we start to roll. That's one day less than two months away, though, and lyrical inclemency be damned, I'm beginning to think for a variety of reasons that maybe I should just wait.

Posted by David Lowery at 4:04 AM

I'm pretty late in bringing this up, but the new videoblog for Four Eyed Monsters looks like it's well worth following. The first installment, which is practically an epilogue to the film itself, hits home for me on a whole slew of levels (especially the part that has to do with home, literally). Susan and Arin are also quickly working the new video iPod into their plans for the film, as detailed in this Indiewire article. I've got a feeling that, although they don't have distribution at the moment, they're going to be way ahead of the game by this time next year.

I think those new iPods are going to change everything. Well, perhaps not exhibition (for the moment); but in terms of distribution and accessibility, these things are pretty big harbingers of a long-expected paradigm shift.

Also of note: Mark Cuban and HD Net are taking another interesting step in the indendent distribution field, and they're taking another Cavite, another 2005 SXSW miniDV hit, along with them.

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

October 16, 2005

In trying to write my review of Good Night And Good Luck, I found myself having to wrap my head around the fact that there are indeed those who think McCarthy was a good guy. Let me get more specific: I was reading Chuck Tryon's piece on the film, in which he linked to this Salon.com review of a certain book. I'm generally a very peaceful, rational person - but just reading that review made me feel a deep need to commit my own little act of terrorism against the book's author.

From what I've gathered from my own schooling and that of my friends and siblings, it's pretty common to read (if not perform) The Crucible in junior high or high school. In my experience, the allegorical nature of it was made transparent, the injustice it represented made clear. This was not liberal conditioning or predisposing; it was an application of common sense.

Posted by David Lowery at 3:44 PM | Comments (3)

October 15, 2005

It's been about 365 days or so since I finished that first draft of Drift. What a difference a year makes.

Posted by David Lowery at 1:38 PM | Comments (1)

October 12, 2005

Because Road Dog Productions is a Big Time Officially Registered Company, I've always received a lot of business-related junk mail, advertising everything from network solutions to postal meters to stationary.

Every now and then, I get one like the one I received today, addressed as follows:

To:
Randall McMurphy
Chief Technology Officer
Road Dog Productions

I have no explanation for this. Did I once long ago fill out an official form of some sort while drifting through a particularly Keseyan mood? Who knows. I like knowing that I might have the propensity to do something like that - but I like not knowing if I did even better.

Posted by David Lowery at 3:08 PM | Comments (2)

One last thing about 48 Ribs. Following up on something I said a few posts back, I've put the unused footage that originally made up the ending to the film online.

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(4.3 MB, Quicktime 7, etc.)

It's a 30 second sequence. I cut it because it was mostly redundant, although that redundancy also allows it to stand alone to some extent. The shots go by a little too quickly, and that I apparently couldn't decide on set between shooting handheld or a tripod is pretty annoying; but I like the details the images contain, and all the implications that go along with them, and how, with two exceptions (which are more directly linked to the full cut), each shot answers a question retrogressively posed by the one preceding it. It's a mirror to the rest of the film. Which, of course, is partially why I cut it.

The full version will be online eventually, but I've got other plans for it until then. Just this afternoon, I decided to let it and Some Analog Lines shoulder a great deal more weight than I originally intended them to...

But enough about those films. It's time to shift a bit more focus to The Outlaw Son, which is fifty-percent cast and is tentatively scheduled to begin shooting the very moment this semester is over in December. Because I like to pretened to be trendy, I put up a MySpace page for the film. So if you're into all that, please accept this invitation to be my friend, or whatever.

Posted by David Lowery at 1:01 AM | Comments (4)

October 11, 2005

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I remember seeing the newspaper ads for Mike Leigh's Naked in 1993, back when they were printed alongside the ones for the film I mentioned in my last post, which at the time was very nearly the sole object of my cinematic obsessions. I was just close enough to adolescence for the image of David Thewlis peering out betwixt those two fishnet-stockinged legs to stick in my head in a way it might not have a year or two earlier.

By the time I got into the works of Mike Leigh a few years ago, Naked was largely unavailable in the US, and so it went unseen by me until just the other day, when Criterion's long-awaited DVD release of it arrived in my mailbox. That my expectations had been raised so high for it by so many, especially in recent months, gives me reason to assume that I don't need to mention how absolutely revelatory a work it is, or how watching it was not at all unlike grabbing a live wire and holding on tight for two hours and eleven minutes.

The commentary track, recorded for laserdisc in 1995, features Leigh, Thewlis and the late great Katrin Cartlidge. For some reason, I always imagined Leigh to be a quiet man, with a reserved baritone voice, laden with secrets - so it was with some surprise that I heard this cheerful, garrulous man speaking at length and with full disclosure about the film and his methods. He was a joy to listen to (both in the commentary and in the more recent - and rather humorously bizarre - BBC interview included on the disc). He reminded me of Robert Altman (albeit with an unceasingly pleasant Manchester accent in place of Altman's perpetual California haze).

He of course discussed his process of developing the film with his cast, and the deep structure of their collaboration, and the amount of research and preparation they all undertook. But I think his methodology was most accurately represented in his discussions with Cartridge, as they discussed her character. Leigh would ask her questions about Sophie. These were sincere questions, the answers to which he, as the director, only had an impression of (an impression he, with his camera, shares with the audience). Cartridge answered his questions as if Sophie was a real person whom she knew closely - because, of course, she had known her closely, had known her intimately, and knew precisely what lay behind all those little ticks and sideways glances and nervous pauses the camera could capture but not comprehend. The relationship between actress and director - the tenderness of it, the trust, the give-and-take that creates such a beautiful outcome - was completely clear in these exchanges.

It's something I've noticed in my own projects. I always stare at the actors' faces, asking those same questions, wondering what exactly it is that they're thinking about (hopefully, I'm looking at the characters thinking, and not the actors - both are fascinating, but the former is certainly preferable). This was especially the case in 48 Ribs, where the process was far more of a collaboration with the actors than any of my other films have been. The majority of the film is based on dialogue that I did write, but there's one moment near the end of the film where Matt says one of those lines and Cammi interrupts him, and starts saying things that weren't in the script, that are completely the result of her investment in the character and the situation and that very moment. It was completely real, and at that point, my job as a director changed. I was no longer directing the scene, but merely capturing it, to the best of my abilities; they say acting is all about reacting, and so, in this sense, is directing. I could take responsibility, of course, and say that I had created the context that allowed for that spontaneous development, and there's some truth in that; but whatever I might have facillitated in that moment is a million times less fascinating than what she created. It's a minor moment in the film; it's not the most important scene; but it represents what I'm striving for in my work these days. When I watch that moment, I'm thankful, I'm concerned, and I'm curious. I want to keep looking.

So anyway, back to Naked. The best extra feature, aside from the commentary track, is a short film of Leigh's from 1987 called The Short And Curlies, which also features David Thewlis. It's only fifteen minutes long, but when one is as good a filmmaker as Leigh, there are no time constraints on making a masterpiece, which this short definitely is.

I need to go study for midterms now, and wait for a phone call, and wait for it to start raining again. I'll have a bit more to (narcisistically) post about that short film of mine later on tonight...

Posted by David Lowery at 3:06 AM | Comments (6)

October 9, 2005

Replicating the events of the same weekend last year almost exactly (if slightly less magically), the usual suspects and I went to the Inwood's midnight screening of The Nighmare Before Christmas last night. I won the pre-movie trivia contest, although I felt sort of guilty about it, seeing as how I a.) already had Nightmare on DVD and b.) knew the manager of the theater (I had my hand up first, though, I promise). It'll make a good Christmas present for someone who doesn't read this journal.

For some reason, we realized last night, we usually only go to midnight movies in the fall. Possibly because they always play the best ones around Halloween (Vertigo screens the weekend after next, followed by Evil Dead II). Possibly because the weather makes everyone want to stay up late. Probably a combination of the two, plus...

There were supposed to be a few more paragraphs to this post, but I had to delete them.

Posted by David Lowery at 10:52 PM | Comments (2)

October 8, 2005

Matt has reviewed The Proposition, the new Australian Western from John Hillcoat and Nick Cave. The verdict? It sounds very good. Very good indeed.

* * *

I finally picked up Bjork's score to Matthew Barney's Drawing Restraint 9. The traits of both artists are imminently, immediately recongizable in the music, and indeed, they seem a match made in heaven. Bjork's voice is an instrument in much of the score, of course; the first track, Gratitude, performed by Will Oldham (with lyrics based on letters written by Japanese citizens to Douglas MacArthur) sounds extremely similar to the songs from Cremaster 3, except with Ms. Guomundsodottir's familiar instrumental flourishes taking the place of Jonathan Bepler's more precarious elevator harp. My favorite track is the vocal-free Hunter Vessel: an anciet and ominous sounding brass and woodwinds arrangement that is as majetic and epic as it is simple (especially if you have a good subwoofer to pipe it through). The album, on the whole, is about as accessible as Barney's films; it'll be extremely offputing to most people (and to many Bjork fans, I imagine, who may be expecting another collection of songs, a la her soundtrack to Dancer In The Dark); but to fans of either artist, it's an indespensible piece of work.

Posted by David Lowery at 1:49 PM

October 5, 2005

Someone please tell me how I didn't know until just now that John Cameron Mitchell directed a Bright Eyes Video!

Procrastination is okay when it involves watching this.

Posted by David Lowery at 12:59 AM | Comments (1)

October 4, 2005

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The official version of Fiona Apple's album came out today, six months after the rough versions leaked and about two years and one month after its original release date. I love it, of course. There are a few tracks which I preferred the Jon Brion-produced bootlegs of - especially Tymps, but also the now less-breathless Better Version Of Me and the newly-stringless, less gutteral Not About Love - but overall, hearing these songs in gorgeous high fidelity is such a huge, beautiful change in and of itself that any other differences are mostly overshadowed. There's not much room for it to suffer in comparison with itself.

Her tour schedule was announced today. No stop in Dallas yet, or even Austin. I remember back in 2000, when we were shooting Lullaby, I pushed the call time back an hour on the day the tickets for her Dallas show went on sale, so I could make sure I got front row seats. I was going to buy two and surprise someone with them. That same day, her tour was cancelled. Oh well. Speaking of Oh Well, that's my favorite song on the new album. My estrogen levels are rising with every spin I give it.

* * *

Yen and I went to see Elizabethtown last night, and we both felt that it was pretty terrible. Granted, my sensibilities are not exactly a match for this sort of film. There was a time four years ago when I was a Cameron Crowe fan, and while I think that time has passed (although I'm sure I'd still enjoy Say Anything), I think even the old less cynical version of me (not that I'm cynical now, by any means!) would agree that this new film is just not good. At all.

Well, almost. While most of the film alternates between the mediocre and the downright nauseating, there is a 20 minute phone call sequence in the middle of the movie that is so magically, goofily, wonderfully, romantically exuberant that it made me feel like that old less cynical version of me all over again. It made me think about magicla, goofy, wonderful romantic things I hadn't thought about in a long time (and that, from time to time, I wish I'd never had the opportunity to forget). For that, and that alone, it was a worthwhile viewing experience - even though the rest of the movie made me want to run desperately to the Magnolia to cleanse myself with a viewing of Broken Flowers.

Posted by David Lowery at 5:56 PM

Kottke.org points to this terrific article on the rather revolutionary production processes employed on The Corpse Bride - namely, shooting on digital still cameras and editing in Final Cut Pro. It's not revolutionary to me, of course, since it's exactly what I'm doing on my stop motion film. "The FCP project is 80 minutes long at 720 x 480 (offline) and 23.98 fps (for easier NTSC pull-down). Every shot is a folder of images, and each clip is treated as a reel." Yep, that sounds exactly like my project settings (minus the running time).

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Needing no explanation aside from the title is this brilliant piece at McSweeney's: Jim Jarmusch's Notes For A Ghostbusters sequel. Via whichever site I first saw the link at - either Green Cine or Cinematical.

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My own rather laboriously distended review of the title of Cronenberg's latest can be read here.

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You can always tell I'm procrastinating over something when I start posting links like this.

Posted by David Lowery at 4:48 PM | Comments (1)

October 1, 2005

I feel unusually light hearted. Romantic, Gene Kelley-on-the-streetlamp-style. I think it's the weather. October is my favorite month. I love how it always manages to sneak up on me.

And 48 Ribs is done, and I love that too.

48ribs4.jpg

The long cut, at least. I sent a draft around to various folks to get some feedback, which once received and considered lead to a few more minor cuts. I'm so happy with how it turned out. I won't be putting it online publicly anytime soon, for various reasons, but I may cut together a little excerpted version to show here, made up of footage I didn't use.

analoglines1.jpg

The title for the nonfiction film (it's not a documentary because it's not really about anything, and it's not an essay or editorial because it doesn't have a point) I've simultaneously been working on is Some Analog Lines. It's sort of a catalog and exploration of various film-related textures with the pretext of some sort of argument binding it all together. Or something pretentious like that. Every step forward I take with it seems to prolong its completion just a little bit further; I recorded the narration last night, and now, having dropped it into the cut, I'm wondering if it needs narration at all. I think the film would be much stronger if I could just show, rather than tell. Nonetheless, I'm pleased with the cut so far. All six minutes of it.

Yen and I watched Hong Sang Soo's The Turning Gate tonight. It was a beautiful film, and it ended on a perfect note: with Arvo Part's aching Spiegel Im Spiegel playing over the end credits (it was the only instance of music in the film). There was some odd synchronicity there, as I've spent the last few days trying not to be too specifically influenced by that piece of music while trying to figure out what sort of score I need for Some Analog Lines. I'm hoping that Curtis will be able to help me in that area.

Speaking of whom: the Theater Fire have a new website.

Posted by David Lowery at 7:59 PM | Comments (1)