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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Text of the Year

The Text of the Year, received from a friend/colleague before the start of a recent show where I'd unexpectedly be working a position I'd never worked:

"No panic, kiddo. We're in it together. We're not gonna let you get buried."

And with that, I submit:  There are people out there who do and will believe in you.
Who will stick their necks out for you.
You will find your opportunities.
Go and seek them.

Artists and aspirants:
Keep faith.  Believe in yourself.

Here's to welcoming the great new of 2012.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

You Do It For You

"To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself." -Soren Kierkegaard

This, this right here, all of this, you do it for you. You do not do it for "them." I was just telling one of my friends this. He decided to quit music. Out of frustration. Out of lack of . . . breakthrough.

It's hard. It's been said before; I will say it again: it is hard to do this. It's hard to do anything, but it's hard to do something so personal, put it out there, and be forever judged for it. Even if it's not ideal to you. But especially when it is. Like standing naked in the middle of Times Square asking to be rated for a living. In art, it's all a bit like talking into the ocean. Or standing waiting to be egged.

To create can be like a death.

But good, bad, or ugly, you put what you have out.

Saturday, July 09, 2011


You know that song "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp"? Well, it's hard out here for anyone. I try to stay thematic and impersonal, but I'm imploding. Constantly. Regardless of what may seem to be.

It is hard. It is hard to stay focused in a vacuum. Encouraged in a desert. With the loom of bankruptcy around you. Human, artistic, societal, financial--pick your pleasure. With everyone hedging their bets, offering little support, giving you no outlet, being political. Or just plain unmoved or uninterested. Even your own friends, acquaintances, collaborators. It's like having the oxygen cut off on your breathing tank.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Conquest Without Contribution

"Great ambition and conquest without contribution are without significance.  What will your contribution be?  How will history remember you?"

*The Emperor's Club* was on this weekend and put this quote on echo in my head. Rarely do I see a film so explicitly state its premise . . and so early out of the gate. But it's a great line. In a pleasant enough movie. And these words are an iteration of my own "If you have nothing to say, you have no business making art." This is essentially my lament of the death of story.

When One Inspired Moment Catches Your Attention

Sometimes you watch a movie and wonder:  how did this come to be and why?  Watching *Burlesque,* I had that feeling.

The best parts of it are like a sumptuous extended music video and a fashion show mashed together.  That appeals on a certain level--spotty lip-synching and all--but the rest just kills any graces earned.  The story trickles along seemingly as an excuse to string together a lot of high production-value numbers and lovely costuming, the first protagonist "revelation" being particularly strained:  we can only suspend disbelief so much.
A pittance, a number, guffaws, and then * BANG *, one jaw-dropping moment that opened my eyes:  this magnificent pearl outfit, so incredible that all I could do was gasp.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Reprehensible Media . . . Beyond Your General Threshold

To start from the bottom line:  Image is not the person. Your worth does not come from it.

The backdrop to this is:
I happened upon a Today Show spot last week for NBC's upcoming Kate Middleton-Prince William wedding coverage.  Not having caught the bug, the media manipulation has been coming off rather heavy-handed.  Even desperate.  In an ever-growing world of inputs and outlets, those of us with [nearly] fully developed frontal lobes know to shift focus elsewhere, as needed.  But even from a position of primary indifference, things in the media can still hit like a slap in the face.  And this particular promo slapped me.

The scene:

Saturday, April 16, 2011


I read of review or a talk piece triggered by the latest news broadcast movie *Morning Glory*.  It starts: "Morning Glory is no Broadcast News, but . . ."  The first part is correct.  The rest, you can fill in your own "but."  Morning Glory *is* no Broadcast News.

But . . .
It's a story about an underdog fighting for a pursuit she believes in when few do.
But it's a story about a man caught between his sense of principle and legacy and the fluff of modern "news."
But it's about compromise.  Making choices.
But but but . . .

Within the first 10 minutes, the writer plants this seed, from mother to daughter:

"You had a dream.  Great.  When you were 8, it was adorable.  When you were 18, it was inspiring.  At 28, it's officially embarrassing.  And I just want you to stop before we get to heartbreaking."

This is the hook.

Monday, April 11, 2011

I'm Not Here

I created this as a sort of video version of a redirect script for my defunct YouTube channel.

I've decided on the name O for my stick figure character ("O" the letter).

I think it's totally cute.

Monday, April 04, 2011

The Death of Story: Part 2

If you could have Steinbeck, would you trade for Dan Brown?

Dan Brown is undoubtedly a Storyteller, able to spin complete and interesting tales. "Literary writer," I would be hard-pressed to extend, exhibiting a style somewhere between historical fiction and service manual. Brown's film equivalent is possibly Michael Bay: a tactician, clearly masterful at directing big action, not as strong at . . everything below a roar. "Artful" would not be a primary description for either man. Both offer something many others can't.

In a world where you can have a John Steinbeck, are you satisfied with a sea of Dan Browns?

John Ford's adaptation of John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath

The analogy isn't entirely apt because Dan Brown has a leg up on most: he knows how to write a complete story. Or a story at all.

In the Era of Snooki, Perhaps I Expect Too Much | Death of Story

The Death of Story

Everything you know and love, going the way of the dodo . . .

In the era of Snooki, perhaps I expect too much. Nothing against Snooki. I wish anyone who happens to find success continued success--as long as it's not to the detriment of others. The insidiousness of celebutants might be debatable, but I find it hard to begrudge anyone's *moment* in the spotlight. Not even the Olive Garden brand of performers out there: Enticing packaging, Insipid product. (Yes, Olive Garden is the epitome of big scale American commercial mediocrity. I said it.)

Where substance is lacking, I quickly stop paying attention. So, yes, let them all have their day in the sun. They are just a symptom, not the problem.

My lament is not about Snooki nor the current breed of pantless figurehead songstresses who package a mite of substance with a mountain of legs. No, my lament is that . . . Art is dead. Entertainment, on its death bed. Writing, moribund. And I find it all to be terribly depressing. The way a Vaudevillian in the 1920s and 30s must have found watching everything he/she knows and loves die a slow death.

Vaudeville theater, c. 1900

I've pondered it and I reject the idea that I expect too much. I expect exactly what any consumer or artist should:  quality and richness.

"A depressed guy smoking a cigarette is not a film." -Family Guy

90 minutes cobbled around 1 stellar scene is also not a film.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

If Loving You Is Wrong, Well, I Don't Care. I Still Do. AKA Awesomely Bad

The world is a real horrorshow. And in times of feeling overwhelmed, I like to see movies that don't ask too much of me. My interest in film blossomed out of watching a lot of international/foreign-language cinema and drama. I watch a lot of films. 9 times out of 10 if the TV's on, it's tuned to a film. And the more films I see, the more I want to watch silly films, light films, charming films. The more I crave comedy. Counterbalance.

So, recently, I saw Beastly. Let me rephrase that. Recently, I paid money to see *Beastly*. The trailer looked like the gift of awful. I had hoped it would be a hilarious mini-mental vacation. And it was. *Beastly* was the sort of to-the-max all-around bad that mystifyingly passed every stage of production: from greenlighting to actual *theatrical* distribution. But that's one of the wonders of commerce. And somehow, ineptitude can be fun to watch. Like bumbling physical humor minus the physical.

In "honor" of my recent bad but funny encounter, I compiled a list of 10(ish) movies I love despite themselves. And I don't feel guilty about enjoying them.

Innocuous Awful, aka Bad But Fun1

1) National Treasure 1 & 2 - These were just on TV again recently. They are thin and borderline embarrassing. Even Harvey Keitel comes off as a cheeseball here. But it's a formula done with all the elements I can't help but enjoy: location-hopping mystery, puzzles and clues, unassuming cute sarcastic tech-geek straight man, flexible voice of reason scientist type, and hammy lead to amp up the camp factor. Nic Cage can be as over the top as he wants in these. It just makes them more fun to watch. These might be his only films of the last decade where I wish he'd turn it up even more.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

And Here's Where I Comment on "My" Films

Or films I've worked on that you may actually be able to find posted of me.
(As of 3/2011)

Personal assessment time

At some point, you've done all the work you can on a piece and can't do anything more. You accept it for what it is and move on. Like Michael Bay recently has with respect to Transformers. Sometimes things come out exactly how you wanted. And the results are great. Oftentimes they don't. Film is a collaborative art. For everyone to come out satisfied is a major feat.

To the audience, all that matters is the end result. Rightfully so. You want the wheel; you don't care how it was created. From the Creative's view, here's what I can personally offer on/to early filmmakers:

Monday, March 07, 2011

More Isn't Better. It's Just More.

Stop the presses: *Transformers 2* was bad. Michael Bay admits it.

WENN: Transformers was 'no good' Director admits

Just in time to promote the next installment in the *Transformers* franchise. --The NEXT installment.-- (This is where we collectively disregard that the last one was awful and the first one little better. =Capitalism operating on audience optimism.1)

For better or worse, I commend Michael Bay for stating what many will not. Fans and filmmakers alike. About their own work and that of others. [I've done this with mine here.] "That was cr*p. [...] It's a B.S. way to make a movie."

Quote of the Article has to go to Shia LaBeouf, however, and his "You lost a bit of the relationships. Unless you have those relationships, then the movie doesn't matter. Then it's just a bunch of robots fighting."

by Andrew Wippler
. . . Perhaps a memo got lost in the shuffle of shooting without a script, but this *was* a Transformers movie. If *I* go to see Transformers, it's precisely to see big robots fighting. Not barely-there human backstory with cardboard cutout characters. Had the first one been heavier on the robots, lighter on . . . everything else, it would have been far less embarrassing.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Art is a Love Supreme

Sequins just suit some people. Like living legends. Like Diana Ross.

I recently went to see Diana Ross in concert with my mother. Mr. Ross was decked out in sequins and beading. I had never liked sequins. But when she stepped out, they made perfect sense. What else would befit a woman such as her? A glowing living legend.

Photo by Harry Wad
Nobel Concert | 2008
She started with "Where Did Our Love Go?" sounding just like she did nearly 50 years ago. Just like the records we’ve all heard on the radio so many times over the course of our lives. By the third song, I felt overwhelmed. And for the rest of the show I just wanted to weep. At the sheer magnitude of the impression this woman has made on so many lives. At feeling something I didn't know I would feel. A woman who doesn’t know me and doesn’t know anyone in the audience. Who's not acquainted with the people shouting out "I love you, Diana" as if she's been a lifelong friend. Ms. Ross has her own story. 50 years ago she wanted to sing. And now her story touches others around the world. Through space and time. Her music lives. Her spirit continues to reach.

Sequins are impressionistic. They need to be seen from a distance under bright light. Some people are splendor in the light.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

First Post: Awards Voting Season & Movied Out

Just rediscovered this blog yesterday. Opened it 5 years ago and posted once about an arduous (first) cattl.. *casting* call adventure, then forgot all about it.

Self-talking isn't really my thing; self-talking into ether even less. But I'm going to give it a go. With my preference being for ideas, topics.

So, first post: The Grueling Film Awards Voting Season:  A Sort of "About Me"

I am a filmivore. And it's voting season. So, I'm rushing to go watch some final nominated films right now to be able to cast my Spirit Awards votes before the deadline. [Independent filmmakers, how can you not champion independent film?]

Independent Spirit Awards
After a tally last week, in the last 13 months I've watched about 290! films, all new to me. Things previously watched weren't included in the tally, but I don't usually actively rewatch films by and large. Excluding *The Devil Wears Prada*, which I feel compelled to watch every time it comes on TV. (I think I relate too closely to the Andy character.) And the first 4 Chapters of *Inglorious Basterds*.

I love film, but I treat it a bit like poetry: impressionistic. Films are experiential: what general reaction do they incite in you? That is my memento, my takeaway: the general overall impression. A (hopefully sweet) memory that you don't need to *relive* to relive.