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October 27, 2011

October Country

I'm uniquely fond of this picture I took the other night in Chicago.


Now back in Texas. Meeting with James and Toby tonight to go over the script. All the windows in the house are open, I'm wearing three layers and with the cold breeze and monochrome sky I know this is a day I'll remember forever. All the pieces are there.

Posted by David Lowery at 1:13 PM

October 24, 2011


While we were in Montana last month, Bill Ross was reading Conquest Of the Useless, Herzog's diaries during the production of Fitzcarraldo. I was also reading it, whenever Bill wasn't, and when I got back to Texas I ordered my own copy. Now I'm in Chicago, finishing it up, and there was one passage in particular that I grabbed hold of. It's not the best in the book, by a long shot (and Herzog is nothing if not quotable), but it had an immediacy that I responded to. It's dated October 8, 1979 - a year and some months before I was born.

For a moment the feeling crept over me that my work, my vision, is going to destroy me, and for a fleeting moment I let myself take a long, hard look at myself, something I would not otherwise do - out of instinct, on principle, out of self-preservation - look at myself with objective curiosity to see whether my vision has not destroyed me already. I found it comforting to note that I was still breathing.

Posted by David Lowery at 1:20 AM

October 13, 2011

Script Notes

My favorite note from one of our EPs.


Posted by David Lowery at 11:56 PM

October 12, 2011

Margaret (2011)


By the time you read this, Kenneth Lonergan's Margaret will probably be all but vanished from theaters, its unceremonious release and long road thereto already chronicled extensively enough to go unremarked upon here. What is noteworthy is that whatever version of the film that has finally been offered up here is, to my mind, a masterpiece, one of the top few films of the year, an instant classic if classicism didn't depend so much on context and if this film's context wasn't so mired in its own misfortune. This is a great movie. It probably would have been great at two hours, perhaps even greater at just under three, but at the (at-this-point-arbitrary) length of 2.5 hours it's still plenty grand enough to make its imminent disappearance from screens a sadness.

There comes a time in everyone's lives when the grandeur of adolescence becomes a footnote to adulthood; here is a movie that, among other things, reminds one not to underestimate the value all that overwrought duress. Among its additional attributes: a magnificently all-encompassing approach to an appropriately narrow subject, the most accurate losing-one's-virginity scene perhaps ever committed to screen, perfect performances, multiple scenes of overblown histrionics that are not only alarmingly textured but build upon each other to outstanding effect, a simple precision to the stately compositions the characters find themselves occupying, and an early allusion to The Catcher In The Rye ("movies are fucking bullshit" says a supporting character, in a way that's not nearly as obnoxious as you're currently thinking) that is just enough to guide the wary viewer's interpretation away from the possibility that this is just a movie about a tragic bus accident.

But at this point, the film's release is a courtesy, its status as a write-off a given, and its primary audience a small number who will do all they can to get their friends to go see it while they can, which is not long at all. Ten years from now, it will be remembered well, perhaps better than You Can Count On Me is now a decade since its own release (and Margaret is better, by quite a substantial margin) and all the hubris that buried it will be a fascinating footnote to its own qualities, which I believe will endure. Maybe the context helps. Nothing engenders favor in a subject like the sense that it's a secret.

That being said: go see it, if you can. You've got a day or two left.

Posted by David Lowery at 11:48 AM

October 6, 2011

Death In the Post-Aughts

I arrived home yesterday and the news about Steve Jobs followed shortly thereafter. I spent my evening reading about him. I recall thinking back in August, when he resigned from Apple, what a rare opportunity it must be for a man to read all of his eulogies while still alive. Such was the tone of all the stories reporting on Jobs' stepping down. The outpouring last night and today was more of the same, but with all those hidden ellipses now replaced with the inevitable period.

I felt very sad last night, and I wondered why. Certainly this one man's impact on the world and my own life is undeniable, and surely he died too young, but it was the immensity of his passing that was moving, that caught on and grew like a wildfire: a very personal thing, writ large by those left behind, which in this case was just about everyone, especially those in my generation, whose heroes are all getting old and beginning to wane and whose outlets for expounding upon this are without limits.

I remember, when I was little and Star Wars meant the world to me, coming to terms with the fact that Harrison Ford would someday die. I was saddened by the thought of a world without Indiana Jones, and had to assure myself that I'd meet him before that day came (I still haven't). As I got older, the list of people who've inspired me and impacted my life has grown. Many if not all will likely die before I do. It is recommended that children have pets so that they have an opportunity to come to terms with death and loss. Where am I going with this? The prospect of a world without Indiana Jones doesn't trouble me so much anymore as does the thought that there will come a time when the eulogies of all my heroes will begin to resound, one after another, and I'll mistake the deep comfort they provide for sadness as they prepare me for things I'd rather not have to face.

Posted by David Lowery at 11:03 AM

October 3, 2011

Submerging Visions

I landed in New York fraught with unexpected nausea over the new movie - in particular, the latest draft of it. This wasn't just an imaginary affliction: I'd learned over the weekend that one's intestines contain significant neural pathways, complex enough to give literal heft to the aphoristic gut instincts I tend to rely on. I came to understand that there were over 30 neurotransmitters firing at my brain from this enteric nervous system in my gut, telling me that my screenplay in its current state was deeply flawed on multiple levels. The situation was much more dire than I'd previously thought, and a new draft was due, and had been due. I stayed up too late not working on it, thinking about it, hating it, exerting an egregious amount of emotional energy over it, got up too early feeling likewise, read a thin novel from the F to the B to Lincoln Center, snagged my Emerging Visions badge from a young lady who already knew my name, was almost immediately given an injection of that most potent antidote to creative woes (anticipation - on the part of others, that is, as my own expectations for my film had until that moment hovered somewhere between non-existence and existential dread) and gradually found my anxiety evening out a bit. There's nothing like peer encouragement to coax your lower intestine into properly regulating your seratonin levels.

A tremendous thanks to IFP, the Film Society at Lincoln Square and RBC for hosting me and my project, believing in the latter and reminding me to do the same. I'm off to get some food.

Posted by David Lowery at 10:12 PM