Sun, Sep. 16th, 2012, 03:48 pm
If you ever find yourself at the age of 45 alone and eating your last pack of Ramen noodles while watching pointless analyses of the Zapruder film on YouTube you'll probably come to the realization, as I did today, that somewhere along the line you took a serious wrong turn in life and ended up smack dab in the middle of Loserville. And once upon a time I thought I was going to achieve something in life. Moral of the story: stay in school, kids.
I've been offline a couple of weeks. But Friday, after three lovely phone conversations (on my Virgin Mobile phone!) with three lovely individuals with Anglicized names representing Virgin mobile broadband, I've successfully reconnected. What a strange and wonderful world we live in. Here I am, this bohemian gadabout, the very image of the seedy boulevardier living a life of entitled feast or famine leisure and there they are, the proud, hard working men and women of East Asia, and we come together and intersect like minor characters in a John Brunner novel. And voila! they enable me to watch videos of Van Morrison or The Band on youtube as I obsessively await all the texts and emails I'm not receiving from the Beautiful Troublemaker. While they work 90 hour weeks pretending to be someone they're not. I wonder if they even have Internet, they wonder if I even have a soul. Same difference.
Meanwhile, Sir Richard Branson floats in his private spaceship far above us all alternately cackling and weeping; counting his cash and contemplating the meaninglessness of all of our existences.
*Christ, I wish there was somebody who got even half the things I say most of the time without me feeling like I have to annotate everything. That Stand On Zanzibar/John Brunner reference is pretty obscure, even for me. I'm probably the only person who's read that book in the past forty years.
Sat, Apr. 21st, 2012, 12:02 am
One of the greats died this week.
RIP Levon, I never knew you but I loved you and I heard my wild Southern soul in your voice.
Thu, Apr. 5th, 2012, 04:39 pm
I filmed this in December but just finished it this morning. It originated as a dance, but in the editing became much more about stillness and the moments before and after movement. Which is kind of like writing something and then realizing the best part about the story is the typography.
So I was sitting out on the porch just now, enjoying a beautiful late winter day heralding the beauty of the coming spring. The colors and the scents and the sounds just overwhelming me as I quaffed a few Miller High Life's (the Champagne of Beer!). And I reflected for a moment on a koan that Robert Anton Wilson used to be fond of quoting (and which, for all I know, may have originated from him.)
"Who is the master who makes the grass green?"
The obvious answer, of course, is "I am." The spectrum of light hits my retina and I interpret this information as "green."
But if you answered, "Me, my awareness. I create all of this!" The Zen teacher would undoubtedly hit you over the head with a bamboo stick.
So, then, flustered you have a burst of insight and declare "There is no 'master' there is no 'makes' there is no 'green'. There is no 'is'!"
Zen teacher really puts some force into it this time. And well, that bamboo stick certainly seems real enough now doesn't it?
So the next time Zen teacher asks you "Who is the master who makes the grass green?" pluck a blade from the ground and, laughing, tickle Zen teacher on the nose instead.
And you might find yourself a little bit closer to the answer.
Here are eight of my favorite overlooked movie dance/musical numbers. Some of these are pretty famous, others less so--you'll probably notice the preponderance of the clips I've chosen are of "non-dancers" (a misnomer if there ever was one: if you have a heartbeat you can dance). I was going to do a top ten list but at the moment I'm coming up dry on the last two, but I'm sure they'll come to me later.
1. Cinderfella. Jerry Lewis and Anna Maria Alberghetti (and assorted others). Director: Frank Tashlin
Jerry Lewis, in all his gauche glory.
2. "Hot Voodoo" from Blonde Venus. Marlene Dietrich. Directed by Josef von Sternberg
This one I wish to present without comment.
3. "Too Hot to Handle" from Roberta. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Director William A. Seiter
Although this is far from their best film, this is Fred and Ginger's greatest number together. Period. In fact, I think an argument could be made it's the best dance ever committed to film ever. It is so immediate and so alive--it illustrates more than just us watching two people dancing, it also amazingly captures how it actually feels to dance. I lack the skills as either a writer or dancer to illustrate what exactly I mean by that so I'll just also add this clip tells us a lot about how Astaire and Roger's chemistry catalyzed. She helped him be more spontaneous and less technique driven and he helped her be more rigorous and disciplined. They're so connected throughout this, and communicating so well. It's almost tantric. There's a moment in this clip when Ms. Rogers spontaneously gasps and giggles--and it always blows me away. You'd never see a dance number this authentic in a movie these days. All of the people involved have been dead a long time, and this particular moment in history was filmed long, long ago, but watching this, it's all right here, right now. And that, brothers and sisters, is what dance is all about.
4. "This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) from Stop Making Sense. David Byrne. Director Jonathan Demme
Just look at that man's face when he's dancing with that lamp.
5. Il lamento dell'imperatice. Director Pina Bausch
I can find no single clips on youtube. But that's okay. Do yourself a favor and watch the whole goddamn thing.
6. "Chanson des jumelles" from Les Demoiselles de Rochefort. Catherine Denueve and Francoise Dorleac. Director: Jacques Demy
7. "Schubert Piano Trio in E flat" from Barry Lyndon. Ryan O'Neal and Marisa Berenson. Director: Stanley Kubrick
If you don't think this is a dance number, you're crazy. I could probably also include several scenes from A Clockwork Orange, but you get the point. This devastates me everytime I watch it.
8. "I'm Through With Love" from Everyone Says I Love You. Goldie Hawn and Woody Allen. Director: Woody Allen
I don't care what anyone else says or thinks, Woody Allen is like a god to me.
There's a video that's been making the rounds lately of Steven Spielberg watching the Oscar nominations for Jaws in 1976. To wit:
Watching the video there's a few things that pop out at me.
1. Steven Spielberg was close friends with Joe Spinell
? Really? Who the fuck knew? It's kind of sad and revealing that the director of the highest grossing film of all time at that point only had around him some dude in a tuxedo t-shirt and Joe fucking Spinell. (Besides, of course, Carol who Mr. S. requested coffee and tea from.)
2. Is that really Joe Spinell?
3. I would really like a pair of wire-frame aviator glasses.
5. I'm really fucking old. While I remember 1975 like it was yesterday, I can't remember what I had for lunch yesterday.
4. Hearing the list of best directors nominated that year, I got to tell you, Stevie, don't feel too bad. Fellini. Kubrick. Lumet. Altman. Foreman. Those are some fucking heavy hitters. And, let's face it, Jaws is great, simply amazing, but Amarcord, Barry Lyndon and Nashville are three supreme masterpieces of 20th century cinema and Dog Day Afternoon and One Flew Over The Cukoo's Nest ain't exactly chopped liver either, let me tell you. It was a very good year.
3. I think Steven Spielberg is a genius. Period. Like Stephen King he gets short shrift because he's popular and he tends to work with genre and his work makes money. Lots and lots of money. But the dude knows what he's doing. He's a master craftsman, he understands the art and craft of making films unlike anyone else alive, except for maybe James Cameron, who I also believe is an underappreciated genius. In fact, I believe James Cameron is up there with the Lumiere brothers, D.W. Griffith and Orson Welles in terms of most important film makers of all time, but let's save that discussion for another, even more drunken day, shall we?
7. How long do you think it will be before somebody makes a movie based around this video? Steven Spielberg watches the Oscar Nominations: The Movie starring Joel McHale, directed by David Fincher, script by Quentin Tarantino and Aaron Sorkin. Featuring Charlize Theron as Carol and Nicolas Cage as Joe Spinell.
80. I don't know how to count.
Thus endeth the rant. Please resume not giving a shit about what I think.
3000. Man, I love me some Joe Spinell. Enjoy watching him wipe the floor with Sly Stallone and Billy Dee Williams.
I don't identify as a Christian. In fact, I may or may not have sold my soul to the Devil in the mid-90's...I need to check the fine print. There was something about a life as a famous writer that still hasn't materialized yet.
Anywhoo, whatever the case, I've read the New Testament*. Several times, in fact. And, truth be told, I kind of love it.
Yet I'm hard pressed to find anything Jesus said anywhere about excluding others or practicing violence against those you disliked (for whatever reason). In fact, so far as I can tell in my imperfect heathenish readings, Mr. Jesus H. Christ tended to advocate loving those who were different from you and examining and addressing one's own capacious faults before trying to fix those of others.
But who knows, maybe that's just me.
*I admit I've skipped a few parts of the ol' Old T. All those chronologies can get kind of overwhelming.
The New York Times this morning has an interesting article
on a new documentary about people obsessed with Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of The Shining.
No stranger to Kubrickiana myself, I'd like to see the film. But what really moved me was the article's last paragraph.“This isn’t ‘Trekkies,’ ” said [the film's producer Tim] Kirk, referring to the 1997 documentary about the glorious excesses of “Star Trek” fandom. “We don’t have guys having ‘Shining’ weddings, or driving around in yellow VWs with ‘ROOM 237’ license plates. There were no conventions to go to.”
Shining themed weddings! I can't stop laughing at that. I wonder what your average chirpy wedding planner would say if you told her you wanted your wedding theme to be The Shining. "Either that or Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf."
Sat, Dec. 17th, 2011, 09:11 pm
I watched Drive
last night. I liked it. I liked it a lot. Which really isn't a very cogent review, I realize, but it's either this, writing very simply about movies, or going into weirdo stuff nobody else will understand land, and I guess I'm choosing the former. I could go on and on about how it's really a spaghetti western...I could go on and on about how exquisite the lighting and pacing is, and about the unrecognized influence of David Lynch to the entire piece, I could go on and on about a lot of things, but that would require screen shots and references and people I don't even know wanting to post comments arguing, so fuck it. Let's leave it at I liked it, I could easily get obsessed by it...let's leave it at that.
I really hadn't gotten the whole Ryan Gosling mania on the Internet, much as I don't understand the mania for anything else on the old I-net, but after watching Drive I got it. The guy is sexy as fuck. Like young Gary Cooper.