November 29, 2008
I ♥ CriterionFolks well versed in motion pictures who have seen St. Nick, in whole and in part, almost without fail say that it calls to mind Lynn Ramsay's Ratcatcher and Victor Erice's Spirit Of The Beehive. Neither of which I've seen, both of which I really want to see, and both of which I've decided to hold off on for the time being, until my own film has receded far enough into my own mind that I won't be playing a frustrating game of connect-the-dots while watching them. Or so I said a week ago, before Criterion launched their outstanding new website and online cinematheque. Part and parcel with this is their free online film festival, presented by The Auteurs, the first installment of which is entitled Cruel Stories Of Youth and which contains in its roster both of the films mentioned above. Will I be able to resist watching them now that they're only a click away?
Ted Hope sent out an e-mail yesterday, providing an overview of some of the things he sees as necessary for the survival of indie film in these rough and tumble times. Here's one paragraph that stuck in my head:
Sundance is now upon us. Traditionally all of the filmmakers get notified this coming week. I have heard buzz on over thirty films that probably will be going, star vehicles and no-budgeted DIY titles both. Yet how many already have websites, blogs, and trailers up? How many will actually do something, like a one week free stream, immediately after their premiere in order to build world of mouth? How many filmmakers will be selling DVDs at Sundance to facilitate Living Room Theater word-of-mouth screenings? Very few in each instance I fear.
Hmmmm. I'm not going to Sundance, but regardless of festivals...food for thought.
November 28, 2008
A Day Off
"Have fun on your day off" a friend texted me moments after I'd dropped her off at the airport for a 7AM flight home for Thanksgiving. An hour later, sprawled out alone on a rug on the floor of that same friend's house, I thought that yes, I needed a day off. No writing, no editing. So I went back to sleep. When I woke up I picked up a novel I'd been meaning to read. I read for a while, in a way I hadn't managed for a long time; the type of reading that diminishes your peripheral vision, that makes you lose track of the where and why and what and how but not the who; there's the reading, and you, pivoting in tandem, pushing and pulling through page after page in a rhythmic, unified front.
Then I went to the movies. I saw I've Loved You So Long, and took from it the stunning work of French painter Émile Friant, whose La Douleur is prominently featured in the film. Then I read some more, and had my first cup of coffee in over three weeks. It hit me one sip in like a sledgehammer. I put the book down and went to see Rachel Getting Married, and the scene where Rachel massages her sister's neck in the tub reminded me of a time I couldn't quite place when someone did the same to me and it made me want to cry. Then I saw Milk, and it did make me cry. After that it was beginning to rain, little heavy pitter patters, and I drove home to a home that wasn't mine in my car, feeling the rain all the way there through the broken window I'd not yet gotten around to fixing. I shut the door and turned on the lights and put all the classical music on my iPod on shuffle and cooked myself dinner, and ate standing up, pacing back and forth to Wagner and Copeland and Max Richter. I would have finished my book then - I was nearly done with it by that point - but realized that I'd left it at the theater.
I think I might run ten miles in the morning. Or maybe I'll just stay here. I want to stay here. I get to feel this for three days. Then, this Sunday morning, I'm skipping out on Advent and heading down to Central America, where my phone won't work and no one will be able to find me. And where I'll surely get sick from the water and spend several days violently expunging my entire dietary history.
Posted by David Lowery at 12:14 PM
November 25, 2008
The Wrestler, Condensed
I've been repeatedly watching the trailer for The Wrestler since it premiered last week. It's a entirely satisfying viewing experience: an emotional powerhouse of an advertisement, like a well-scripted narrative, hitting all the right notes, the right highs and lows. That Bruce Springsteen song kicks in at just the right point, and through it all there's Mickey Rourke - who, yes, is finally getting the attention he deserves again, who's no longer the well-kept secret that he's somehow remained these past ten years, in spite of increasingly prolific roles. He's always had that poetry in him, and he's got more of Bukowski to him now, here, than when he played his alter ego twenty years ago in Barfly. And like Bukowski, age is catching up to whatever happened to his face, and working its magic and making him glow again.
And then the trailer is over, and I'm left with the curious sense that I don't actually need to see the film; it was all there, in two-and-a-half-minutes. The performances. The Boss tune from the credits. Aronofsky's stripped down visual approach. The metal, the tears on the beach. I loved it. Is it going to get any better than it already is?
November 24, 2008
Get YeastYou'll have to once again excuse the paucity of content here. No reason, really. Or maybe just a million of them. In any case, I'll make a firm commitment to waxing more frequently in the coming week, just prior to another enforced lull (more on that momentarily, after I get over the temporary boycrush induced by getting a private Rufus Wainwright show the other morning).
Today's news is that Yeast, Mary Bronstein's award-winning debut feature, is now available via Amazon VOD. A highly concentrated shot of misanthropic estrogen on the one hand, an unbelievably shrill exercise in cinematic effrontery on the other, the film exceeds its meager origins and production value through sheer abrasiveness - and, too, a very finely tuned wit. Indeed, I was prepared for the film's successive induction of cringes, but what surprised me was the almost cathartic delight that emerged from all that friction. This is a very, very funny movie.
It's also a very feminine movie. Bronstein writes in her directors' notes that the film is "an exploration of the cruelties that are spewed in ever direction during the course of a close friendship," which is true: we tend to hurt those closest to us. But what is particularly fascinating about this psychological fracas - to this viewer, at least - is that it is so specific to the fairer sex, which emerges stripped bare, unvarnished and just as complex as ever. I love it.
November 20, 2008
- While at The Strand seeking to reacquaint myself with Virginia Woolf, a woman walked past me with an armful of books and muttered: "Stay right there, I need to take your picture."
- I ran six miles in Central Park and then slept for as many hours and dreamed of phone calls.
- I had the most surreal and memorable experience of my filmmaking career on Sunday, but I can't talk about it.
- I peeled an orange and it made my fingers smell like Christmas.
- I told a strange lie that I can't quite figure out.
- There's something in the air.
November 15, 2008
It was unseasonably warm in Brooklyn today, and I was seasonably bummed for no discernible reason. The cumulative effect of waking up on the wrong side of the bed over and over again for several hours, never actually managing to climb out of it until well into the afternoon, falling in and out of dreams that traipsed along the boundaries of personal fancy and prescient reality and, finally, finding oneself watching the gray skies out the window with nothing to breakfast on but wine and chocolate, resulted in an oppressive ennui with but a single salve: hit the city and go see Arnaud Depleschin's Un conte de Noël! For those two and a half messy, magical, delicately muscular hours the world was right again. I wish it had just kept going because when it was over I was ready to go back to bed again.
Posted by David Lowery at 12:22 AM
November 10, 2008
This is very last minute, but if you're in Manhattan this evening with nothing to do, you could do much worse than checking out Rooftop Films and IFC's Animation in Chelsea Market, which is exactly what it sounds like: ten of the best animated films from Rooftop's recently concluded season will be screening at the Chelsea Market. Included among them is A Catalog Of Anticipations.
That is all.
Posted by David Lowery at 10:31 AM
November 6, 2008
Dallas Video Festival 21
Against all odds, the Dallas Video Festival is still kicking, and tonight it kicks of its 21st edition. This year, they asked me to make the intro that would play before all the films.
It's best played really loud.
The festival takes place at the Angelika this year, bringing films like The Pleasure Of Being Robbed, Guest Of Cindy Sherman, I'll Come Running, Clay Liford's My Mom Smokes Weed and Frank Ross' Present Company to North Texas screens for the first time. Whether the after-hours fireworks show that took place in the hotel room of Kevin Bewersdorf and Alex Karpovsky last year gets a repeat performance remains to be seen....
November 5, 2008
I'm getting back to work on St. Nick. Getting ready to begin a strange amalgamation of sound design and sound mixing. Here's a picture, just to prove to myself that I'm working on it:
I need proof because I'm having a hard time maintaining a grip on reality right now. I'm hallucinating. I'm also feverish, flummoxed, feeling deathly, all because I decided not to have any coffee this morning. I've ceased to function. Kicking caffeine has never been like this before.
Luckily, I just bought the new Antony and the Johnsons EP to soothe my aching head.
November 4, 2008
I'm Drying My Eyes
I talked to my nine year old sister Anna, who I haven't seen in about a year, on Gmail chat this morning. It went like this:
A:Hi dave! how are you today?
D: Good! I'm excited about voting! Even though I already voted.
A Who did you vote for?
A: What ever for?
How do you answer a question like that to a nine year old? My answer, which I think is the answer: you don't have to. I didn't care about politics when I was nine, or even nineteen. I had other things on my mind. I grew up in a bubble, one which eventually popped out of necessity. But I hope that simply knowing her big brother made a choice that doesn't make sense to her now will plant a tiny little seed in my sister's head, one that'll sprout and grow at its own pace and maybe break that bubble a little bit faster. And I hope too, with that peculiar mix of selfishness and optimism, that she finds herself where I am someday, because the view from here is amazing.
November 3, 2008
I've been meaning to write a few things about wrapping up the Audrey shoot, but I've been insanely busy these past few days. I will say that, this season being what it was, this shoot was more politically charged than other films I've been a part of. And as both Adam (who produced the film) and I were away from our homestate, we decided to play it safe by mailing in early absentee ballots, as evidenced by this little behind-the-scenes video:
Related: I love the original version of this song, but as far as I'm concerned its entire raison d'etre was to be covered thusly.