22 November 2006

various and sundry

Just a handful of random thoughts, comments, and observations:

1) GOOD MOVIES ROCK: Last night I went and saw APOCALYPSE NOW at a the local Alamo Drafthouse, a cool semi-artsy theater chain which boasts first run movies, classic titles in weekly revival showcase format, plus something like 40 different premium beers on tap.

"It's a good thing."

Four bucks to see Coppola making that kind of movie which today seems nearly impossible to conceive: a huge sprawling intensely psychological personal mess of a tale, set against a huge dramatic backdrop and featuring a cast of ridiculously talented serious actors all swinging for the fences in every damned scene.

Weird, dark, psycho, demented, brutal, sometimes hilarious (and often for disturbing reasons...), with nearly every single frame of film a jaw dropping composition. All I could keep thinking to myself was "this movie might was well have come from another planet—they just don;t make movies like this any more."

Which, in a sense, was both depressing and inspiring at the same time. We seem to be in a pahse of the movie business where the first, final, and only consideration seems to be the almighty dollar. Now, I'm not some whack job commie fascist "power to the people" treehugger who thinks that we should all live in some kindergarten fantasy land where everyone does whatever they like without any concern for money and commerce, but it does seem sad that so few movies being made today seem to have any of the enduring "artfulness" of movies like Apocalypse Now. Love it or hate it, it seems pretty clear that you have to at least grant that it is one hellacious artistic statement, and not like anything else you've seen on that subject.

Of course, all it took was the bulk of Coppola's health and sanity, as well as most all of the financial and commercial clout that he'd managed to accumulate with GODFATHER and THE CONVERSATION. He's done some interesting work since APOCALYPSE, but it seems fair to say that he never again came close to the insanely epic grandeur of that movie.

If you have a chance to see it in a big dark room, with a big loud sound system, grab that chance and then be sure to give at least a bit of notice to the techincal artistry of the movie-- the sound, the colors, the framing, the editing, the music. When movies work, they truly are something terrifyingly magical.

2) THE AUSTIN DIARIES: I've not yet forgotten or abandoned the telling of the twisted tale of this year's Austin Film Festival. I've just been... distracted. Busy. Lazy. Whatever. There are some fun details waiting to be shared—beans waiting to be spillt—and it is my honest intent to share and spill as best I can, but for now I remain somewhere else, in another mood, and not of a mind to think back to this year's week in Oz, as memory leads to melancholy which leads to anger which leads to... nothing productive.

3) THE ROM COM: now titled TWELVE DAYS, the long-festering project was hurled at a handful of readers and by God they hurled right back. The nots they offered were not totally hostile, but they were pretty consistent in saying "this ain't ready, dude." Shrug. I'm not reworking the piece, and finding places where improvement and change was much needed before but where I (for whatever reason) chose to ignore or overlook problems. Likely I was both tired of not having any sort of "completed" draft to hold, as well as overly eager to get the project to some point where I might dream of flinging it over fences to folks who likely aren;t going to care overly anyway. Bottom line: the piece has some good points, so not as good points, and now is back into the workshop to be hammered and beaten upon until it comes out with more of that aforementioned "goodth."

4) THANKSGIVING: that odd American turkey holiday bears down upon us now, and with it begins The Holiday Season. Strange (or perhaps not strange) as it might be to consider, I'm not a huge fan of the holidays, as they seem to create more tension and anxiety in my life than they do good feelings and happiness. Don;t get me wrong: I love watching my kids enjoy Christmas, and I love seeing old friends who pass through on holiday travels, but by and large I've never really enjoyed all of the extended familial bullshit that seems to be part and parcel of the holidays. Odd demands, unreasonable expectations, selfishness run amok, guilt trips disguised as holiday cards and calls... there's a part of me which very much looks forward to emerging through teh other side to New years, when the next season of loonytunedness is as far away on teh calendar as it's every going to get. "Gird them loins, my pretties—it's gonna get rough for a spell now."

5) 2007: despite everything else, I continue to have an annoying sense of optimism for 2007, as I like (need!) to believe that this will be the year When Things Finally Start To Happen. I have a few projects I'm very proud of, some solid contacts and acquaintances in the biz to whom I can hopefully turn for guidance and assistance, plus (most importantly) I have the arrogant understanding that I'm more than good enough to make a go of it in the screenwriting biz ... if I can just maintain momentum. Push on, refuse to quit, and act like you're already part of the team. At some point either you break through into clean air where all is golden and wonderful, or you throw in the towel and say "fuck it—I'm done."

And I've always been too dumb to recognize the right moment to quit, so I might as well plod on like I have a notion to succeed.

Wherever you are, enjoy your turkey.


Scott the Reader said...

The good news is that the new Weinstein Company is apparently going back to their old template of cutting deals with good directors and turning them loose to make the movies they want.

Hopefully that will lead to something good, but who knows.

It's a good thing Robert Altman rolled in 40 years ago, and not now.

Anonymous said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you too, my friend. Deep fry a turkey for me as we don't do such things up here in NorCal...

Reel Fanatic said...

I"m jealous ... Apocalypse Now is indeed an intense and rewarding movie experience, but I've never had the pleasure of watching it on a genuine movie screen

Anonymous said...



Thomas Crymes said...

I recognize Apocalypse's artistry and excellence, but I can't say that I've ever truly liked it.

I find the story behind the movie a bit more entertaining.

Good Luck in Oh-seven. Hope for the best, but be prepared to continue to hit your head against the wall. That's half the fun!

suzbays said...

Stay sane, my friend. One of the benefits to being so far away from the majority of my family is...less of that familial bullshit.