Dispatches from the Empire to Nowhere
My STOCK FOOTAGE is now available next door on the Galleries page in stock footage 1-ManShow stock.
Coast-to-coast, over 300 shots in 1080i High Definition and much more yet to come! Play the demo reel or go directly to www.pond5.com/artist/mrdt?ref=mrdt for all your stock footage needs. Pond 5 has a vast catalog and full range of stock footage, including more abstract imagery which I will also be supplying in the future. Please refer your various associates to go through my site or the above link when visiting Pond 5 as I am a referral. Thank you.
Most of my video content can be seen on YouTube as well as on this site in most cases.
(some quality is severely compromised due to the very high compression back at the time of upload)
Also some short, stock and experimental content now on Vimeo.
Some of my recent small independent doc and other work can be seen here:
I am now AVAILABLE and seeking contracted work or a full time position in editorial, graphic design, film production or studio marketing.
I think this will be my final entry in this blog format. IÕll either go WordPress or just post on Facebook or whateverÉ
My year end wrap up, after a bit of a hiatus:
Check out the updated photo gallery ŅAt The MoviesÓ, now with many more images added of some of the best theatres in the world
and the New galleries ŅGLOW SM 2010Ó and ŅBack to the Bay AreaÓ at
My new updated stock footage reel in fine HD:
My latest stock demo:
And my submission for the One Day On Earth project (videos shot from all over the world all on 10-10-10).
Mine in San Francisco of The Blue Angels:
My year end best movie list for 2010:
1. SHUTTER ISLAND
2. TOY STORY 3
3. THE FIGHTER
4. THE TOWN
also: INSIDE JOB, THE GHOST WRITER, THE SOCIAL NETWORK, FAIR GAME, TRUE GRIT, THE TILLMAN STORY
Most of the other highly touted films I saw? Wildly over-rated!
Check out the NEW gallery ŅBeach BikesÓ in photography next door.
My annual screening of ŅJawsÓ this summer was yet another new way: iPhone on the beach.
HereÕs a few pics of my actual views while watching the movie. I did some walking around and timed it so it would start in the day and end at night. Jaws 2010 iPhone beach screening
And yet again I noticed new things in the movie as I have every time IÕve seen it over the 35 years since it came out.
Some notable summer versions of what might be my favorite movie of all time (I always get asked what it is by people and never answer with one film, but if I did..)
- Poughkeepsie, NY at a modern (at the time) 2 screen twin theatre shortly after the June 20th 1975 release
- UCLA, projected on film on the edge of a pool while everyone swam around
- My party for the release of the DVD on the 25th anniversary (we went swimming after at midnight in the ocean) party flier
- On laser disc on Skywalker Ranch
- At the American Cinematheque on the big screen with a new 35mm print
- In NYC on a pier over the Hudson River, with boats gliding by behind the screen during the showing
- On DVD LCD following a trip to MarthaÕs Vineyard where the film was shot
- On an iPod nano in the Hamptons
My summer movie wrap up: somehow lamer than last summer and maybe the worst ever. The critics agree.
Big thumbs up: Toy Story 3, The Tillman Story
Good: Iron Man 2, Robin Hood, The A-Team, Knight And Day, Solitary Man, Eclipse: Twilight Saga (I was dragged and did not see the others, really had fun though. I didnÕt know it was going to be a comedy. And I like vampires and werewolves of course.)
Well it was the summer that wasnÕt. Weather, work, women, trips, movies.
Bring on the FallÉ
I did the official trailer for FilmsightÕs corp. doc ŅThe Next Frontier: Engineering the Golden Age of GreenÓ
ItÕs educational on new clean energy alternatives for California and the western world.
My road movie has been delayed. I was about to release a new trailer in March, but it got put off. There is a question of direction. This thing is free form, and I am big on solid story above all else I may release a web series instead of a feature. Either way it will amount to a 70 min. feature program however it gets packaged if at all.
In the meantime my interest is in HDSLR moviemaking and stereoscopic 3-D. I have a new short in mind and am collaborating on shooting a
3-D short/test shot. I also am looking to write a quickie suspense thriller before the summer is out.
As for the summer movies, my capsule reviews are now on posted on my Facebook page and for that matter this blog is not as active due to the Facebook/social media craze. People still write blogs, but I was never very serious about it anyway so itÕs just easier to get your word out to people you know via that. My summer roundup IÕll post here in the coming weeks however.
That said, I will probably be overhauling the look and style of this blog with WordPress or such. This green on black is a conscious retro-style throwback to the computer screens of the 80Õs. IÕve had too many people complain about the readability though. Thanks for coming!
This short was conceived as I was shooting extreme close ups of produce with an SLR for my last short. I was taken with how much the fruits and vegetables looked inter-planetary. The conceit was to use this for an abstract sci-fi piece, then it expanded to a call-to-action endeavor using history and Presidential speeches.
Note: All the widescreen material is my original photography or computer generated (or some combination thereof) while the square footage is obviously found. The balance went more in the direction of the latter as I crafted it with the speeches.
I like to think of it as Warhol meets Armstrong.
Space Perception (large frame HD on my site)
Just entered the BBC worldwide short film contest, MyWorld and made the deadline cutoff down to the minute if by memory I have GMT right. ItÕs about doing a 2 minute short about your view of the world from where you live and finalists will be chosen from each continent. My colleague in SF turned me onto it as I have the material of the drive across the U.S. Instead I decided to shoot from scratch with my new Canon SLR as a sort of test and a challenge to come up with something in 2 days.
So, it was shot entirely on Wed. 3-10-10 in Santa Monica and edited up until 7:30a today. I wrote it over Wed and Thur. Winged the score as
IÕm not even a musician, but I think itÕs the tone I want. Lovely Kellie the actress participated for some shots of her eyes.
Here is the top-to-bottom two day, one man short:
SHUTTER ISLAND restores my faith. This is a masterful top-notch psychological thriller and as good as Hitchcock at his best.
Marty, thanks. We all know you are a master yourself. Leo, you show again you are only capable of great performances.
Ben, your intelligence gives the screen added weight and legitimacy every time.
I particularly liked how this film was edited as well. Thelma, yeah youÕre a legend too. And the score? Oh yes. Right on the money.
And thatÕs after it seemed a bit over the top at firstÉ
I wonÕt say another word.
THE WOLFMAN also good, but not the masterpiece of above. A solid remake of a good old-fashioned monster movie. Thanks
Universal and the fine cast.
Now, for a digression: I just had the lucky pleasure (if I dare admit that) of seeing the Quentin Tarantino film DEATH PROOF
on iTunes. Oh man. Firstly, this is a very sick twisted movie. Secondly, I have somewhat good taste and am artistically prone to more conservative and broader fare. That said, this little movie is a minor masterpiece. Bordering on the obscene, I was riveted.
As usual Tarantino simply knows how to draw you into a story, no matter how simple or debased.
I asked myself watching it just how does his mind contrive such perverse set pieces? Disturbing but so damn creative and ultimately hilarious.
And of course he knows suspense. IÕd say thatÕs really his greatest gift and heÕs probably not really recognized for it as much as his dialogue and retro leaning. I realized watching this film that he has managed something on every film he does which I have only very rarely experienced as an adult, this unbearable tension that builds in certain scenes which cause you to almost have to avert your eyes at times. Yeah, heÕs sadistically violent and itÕs not something I go for really. ThatÕs not what IÕm praising though, itÕs the craft of suspense. He executes it better than anyone working in cinema today. I think.
Yeah, yeah I am one of these cinema junkies who gets off on scratches on film and bad splices and such (although for the record I am also a digital progressive and believe in furthering technology and bettering the medium, not getting stuck forever in the past); but make no mistake this movie from 2007 is not just an homage but kind of itÕs own time capsule on the ŅfilmÓ experience. The artificial use of film wear and damage here is art in and of itself and appears pretty damn clever. I found it slyly funny all the way through.
I didnÕt see the Grind House in the theatre and I wish I had.
Finally, Kurt Russel. I almost questioned why he took the part, but who doesnÕt want to work with a genius? His performance is great.
Dead on. ThereÕs one scene where I would go so far as to say itÕs some of the finest acting heÕs ever done.
Give this man his Oscar soon. HeÕs another guy whoÕs overdue.
And on that note, ten best picture nominees this year (while I get the need by the Academy for extra promotion since the public doesnÕt care anymore) of all years was the worst idea since PG-13 (and I know thatÕs not the Academy, but the MPAA.. my point Ņif it ainÕt broke donÕt go and try to fix it!). Funny, only half of them are worthy. This yearÕs batch of movies was particularly over-rated by critics and the media. Way over-rated! So was the box office for that matter. I donÕt get it. And I donÕt want to.
Check out the new photo galleries:
and the new HD stock demos:
Hudson glide-bys (nighttime nautical activity on the Hudson in NYC, 8/09)
City of Light (L.A. urban sprawl, 11/09)
Mile High City NYE (Denver on the last day of 2009)
Vegas Lightshow (Las Vegas, 9/09)
After what IÕd say has been the most lackluster holiday movie going season in memory (despite the hype of AVATAR) and a lousy year overall hereÕs my ŌbarelyÕ top five for 2009:
1. INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS (Once again Tarantino proves heÕs a demented genius!)
2. CRAZY HEART (Jeff Bridges should win the Oscar) * added 1/25/10
3. CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY (Moore is a socialist, but knows how to make a powerful and always entertaining doc better than anyone.)
4. ORPHAN (A guilty pleasure and certainly a B-movie, but gave me the best chill IÕve had at the movies in a long time.)
5. AVATAR in 3-D (Sheer imaginative spectacle and clever sci-fi spin on cowboys and Indians movies, but a familiar archetype story that drags.)
So, I add the Mile High City to my New YearÕs Eve cities which include:
1999 Cabo San Lucas
2005 Buenos Aires
I plan to hit Asia and Africa in coming years to complete the continents. DonÕt know about Antarctica? With the right inviteÉ
New HD stock demos:
City by the Bay (San Francisco shot 10/09)
hawk over fog bank, SF (10/09)
My TG (shot in CO, UT 9/09 *image enhanced for effect. FULL color HD for sale in stock footage.)
My top five movie theatres:
Back on the Gold CoastÉ for now. The journey was epic and beyond expectation really, and my associate and I have the footage to prove it.
We shot in HD, and some of the images should turn out very nice. Some heavy philosophical content as well, but no question if this is to
be a film of any kind, it will need heavy duty pick-up work and total editing. ŅEditing is the transformation of chance into destiny.Ó Š Jean Luc Godard. Still, I feel we have something. What exactly we donÕt know, which makes it maybe altogether new and exciting! A documentary-experimental-narrative fusion if that doesnÕt sound like complete bullshit. A hybrid in the spirit of new forms. ItÕs like Godard said, ŅAll you need to make a film is a camera, a girl, and a gun.Ó Well, we have the camera and the girl and I did see the Long Beach Police recovering a gun in the bushes last week. Okay, there is a thriller to come out of this in either cinematic form itself or via an original script. Certainly it will be a dissertation on the 21st Century socio-political, sexual dynamic if not a straight romantic comedy.
So much distance, but alas never enough time! It has been an odyssey of personal magnitude no doubt. Across the continent, sea to shining sea. The Frontier still exists but for how much longer? You really get an idea of just how vast the unpopulated expanses still are when you get out of the cities and drive through the great West. America is amazingly diverse and of such varying beauty. The dream began with the early pioneers and settlers and continues on the open highway.
We are here for better or worse. We still have stories to tell donÕt we?
Stay tuned for the photo gallery and motion picture teaser. Right here. Coming Soon!
Here is the new prototype Teaser poster mockup with preliminary title:
CountdownÉ Departure for CA. American Odyssey II. The Great UnknownÉ
Finally the movie of the summer. TarantinoÕs done it again. ŅInglourious BasterdsÓ has the same demented creative wit and genius of ŅPulp FictionÓ and ŅKill Bill Vol. 2Ó. IÕm not saying itÕs for everyone, but you canÕt deny it is masterful and original in its own way. And the creative brilliance comes within a classically shot and edited form proving once again that good storytelling is what matters. Tarantino has a distinct way of cleverly circumventing whatÕs really going on in a scene with his associative dialogue thereby creating an underlying tension.
This is the rare case of a longer running time working to fine effect in my opinion.
Check out the new gallery http://web.mac.com/duanetrow/iWeb/Site/summer%20in%20the%20city.html for this seasonÕs life and times.
The HBO summer movie series in Bryant Park ended on a high note, ŅClose Encounters of the Third KindÓ but not before I saw the current must
see summer blockbuster of the same genre, which I thought was lousy. A big bore suffering from the usual ailment of hand-held camera work and cutty editing which I continue to exclaim here is easy to do and winds up being just a wash for the audience. You tune out. That is unless youÕre young and stupid or just an easy to please sucker. Hot directors, try actually choreographing a scene and holding on a take. No, too hard to do these days. And this coming from an editor.
IÕve been watching all this stuff for years and seen it all before, so I know how hard it is to make something really original or good these days.
I mean whatÕs left? But the buzz on this one from the press and its makers is itÕs like nothing youÕve ever seen before. Come on. Really? WeÕve all been watching this stuff our whole lives. Remember ŅVÓ and ŅAlien NationÓ from the 80Õs? The critics all jump onboard because they grasp for some kind of importance in a half-ass allegory to regional racial politics. Sorry, nobility and message are never enough for a good movie or good art in general. Good storytelling is always the key, and no matter how much these guys say they believe that, time and time again they go for visual effects or some gross humor and/or violence for the cheap thrill.
IÕm sick of it. The most offensive thing to me though is this current trend for putting degraded images up on screen and passing it off as artistic license. I believe in authenticity and creating an illusion of being in another reality, but I also donÕt appreciate paying $12.50 to see a poor quality picture. Some of this stuff now might as well be shot on a cell phone itÕs so bad. I have a creative idea, what if in this reality being depicted the news footage actually looks great? ItÕs actually high definition? Funny, the local news now broadcasts in a crisp, clear HD picture.
Why are we accepting WORSE picture quality in theatres while at home the bar for quality keeps rising? Why do we now watch without question a film with an awful image either shot that way for budget or degraded after for effect? Films from over 40 years ago look much better for the most part. IÕm not talking about all theatrically released movies today of course, but itÕs a trend thatÕs grown without a watchful eye (pun intended) minding the store? Hello studio people? Hello, are you still there with a mind in your head? Can you think for yourselves or do you need the market research to tell you what to do? And filmmakers trying to save on budget, if you shoot for so much less then your picture should sell for less at the box office ticket counter. How about $5 instead of $12.50? Really.
So despite the waste of time with the latest blockbuster, I had the pleasure of watching ŅThe Day Of The DolphinÓ on dvd over the weekend and itÕs a great movie. I saw it very, very young at the drive-in and not since. Not only does it hold up, but itÕs smarter than I couldÕve known back then. A great high concept story, a complicated story, told economically in 1 hour 45 minutes (and with a great actor/movie star taking you through it, which seems in shorter and shorter supply these days!). What happened to adapting a novel and bringing in the movie at a 2 hour or less runtime unless the length is really warranted? This film leaves dialogue and action off screen, condensing the length while at the same time elevating your own imagination in the inter-action. It seems the geniuses today canÕt do it. Why in a faster time with people having LESS free time and with the immediacy of the internet and everything else are movies generally longer than ever? Again, whoÕs minding the store?
Paul McCartney plays NYC, and for me it's been long awaited. I seem to have had a series of misfortunes trying to see him again after the first and only time at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, 1990. That concert was the second best I have ever seen (and I've seen Ringo play Radio City, Pink Floyd the Rose Bowl, The Kinks Poughkeepsie and Binghamton, Steve Miller in Binghamton, Robert Palmer Binghamton, Boston The Meadowlands, Elton John + Eric Clapton together at Dodger Stadium, The Grateful Dead with Sting in Las Vegas, Robert Plant at SPAC and The Universal Amphitheatre then with Jimmy Page at The Hollywood Bowl, The Rolling Stones Syracuse and LA, Guns NÕ Roses at The Forum in LA, Pearl Jam in San Diego, Lenny Kravitz at the New Orleans Jazz Fest, Robbie Krieger and John Densmore Santa Monica Pier, Bruce Springsteen twice in LA, U2 Oakland, Prince LA, Norah Jones Berkeley, The Police at Madison Square Garden, Steely Dan at The Beacon, Bon Jovi in C. Park, John Williams numerous times at The Hollywood Bowl and Lincoln Center, etc... still kicking myself for not going with a friend to see Sinatra in Vegas at an intimate, small theatre. We were there and tickets were available, but we balked because it was $75/ticket at the time which was around 1992.)
On that hot, humid, late summer Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia there were disclaimers at the stadium entrance that they were going to be filming the concert we were attending (theatrically released later that year http://duanetrow.com/blog/51Y4GBKZP4L._SS500_.jpg ). We didnÕt know that you couldnÕt buy alcohol on Sunday in Pennsylvania, not even beer. After a pre-show movie by Richard Lester resembling pure propaganda letting everyone know theyÕd be seeing a legend that night, we sat in the upper decks stone sober as the Beatle finally took the stage. (I think this was the first tour he actually played any Beatles songs since The Beatles?) To be accurate, the show started on an off note. His voice was off-key, not what it once was, and highly surprising to me. My friends and I exchanged awkward looks. All I can say is, after the shaky start that show built and built and built until by the end he had the entire stadium in a frenzy. My friends were dancing in the aisle (and they werenÕt the fans I was). The highlights as I remember were his tribute to John playing, ŅFool on the HillÓ on a piano on top a rising, spinning platform and ŅHey JudeÓ at the end with the different sides of the stadium alternately singing along.
The thing about Paul McCartney is he is the consummate musician/showman. He plays everything himself. He worked the entire stage during that show; playing guitar, piano, bass of course and even drums. And of course heÕs one of the most prolific and successful songwriters of all time. No question heÕs a pop music genius and I think maybe the best ever.
Music is highly subjective. We all have our own taste and tend to be extremely opinionated about it. There are a lot of artists I respect but donÕt care for what they produce. I know itÕs the same with a lot of people with McCartney. You should respect the dedicated artist who has endured for so long though. I know the reason I like Sir Paul first and foremost is his impeccable song-making craft. HeÕs a melody man, but also much more the existential philosopher than he gets credit for. Then secondarily I suppose itÕs the circumstances of the personal connection to the music throughout my life. His steady output forms a timeline, a parallel to my own life. I think pop culture in general does this for us all, whether itÕs artists, singers, movie stars or Walter Cronkite. Old friends we ŅknowÓ and trust. AllÕs well with them, so it can be for us too. Well his repertoire sure seems to be unmatched.
IÕve been a fan since at least 1973 when the song ŅLive and Let DieÓ came on the radio. I was playing with the girls next door (okay I was VERY young at that!) and I asked who that was singing on the portable transistor radio in their driveway? Their father was restoring a 1968 Corvette Sting-Ray. (Or maybe that car came later on actually?) He said it was a James Bond song by Paul McCartney and Wings. I didnÕt know who that was. He said he was in The Beatles. I had never heard of them. I was already a fan though because my father liked the song ŅBand on the RunÓ from around the same time, although he thought it was ŅManÓ on the run until my uncle corrected him. So IÕve been a Paul McCartney
and Corvette fan all along.
And my buddies up the street liked McCartney too. Their older brother and sister played trumpet and French horn in the school band and they had this great vinyl record album called ŅWings GreatestÓ that we played a lot over the years. So many great hits all on one record!
http://duanetrow.com/blog/pctc256_b.jpg It was even better than their Billy Joel Ņ52nd StreetÓ album.
Then in Junior High I would pick up the girls next door to walk to school each day. On one early winter morning as I waited inside their door downstairs (as I always did, you know girls.. always not quite ready.. even back then at that age) one of them came down and asked if I heard the news? Of course I didnÕt because in those days I didnÕt listen to the morning news. John Lennon was murdered in New York City she said. Then at the Christmas party at my GrandmaÕs my uncle chided my father about Lennon having a bigger funeral service than even Elvis.
Not sure if thatÕs true, but in the wake of Michael Jackson I thought of it. And that Paul did those songs with MJÉ
Well, not to take away from Elvis. He will always be the King as the original they all emulated. My buddies up the street were always watching his old movies on Sunday afternoons with the whole family. Those were the days when things really stood out. Made an impression. Affected you. Inspired. I wonder if that happens now as much with kids? Simply the sheer volume of stimulus available seems distracting and overwhelming. Of course our parents probably thought the same thing, but the internet is a real game changer compared to 8-tracks and Atari right?
So IÕve been a fan of Paul ever since. I remember his 1980 hit ŅComing UpÓ playing on the radio on hot summer afternoons driving around Poughkeepsie with my parents. Later I read an unauthorized biography in high school. The first or second CD I bought in college was his ŅAll the BestÓ, and my first summer living alone off campus (I had a good job as a union projectionist) was soothed by what all the critics called a fine comeback by McCartney, ŅFlowers in the DirtÓ featuring duets with Elvis Costello. This was the album he toured on the next summer that brought me and three college friends crammed into my Volkswagon Rabbit with no air conditioning on a sweltering four plus hour drive down to Philly to see the sold-out show.
My first boss in Hollywood told me at our Christmas party in 1991 that he had worked on one of PaulÕs albums ŅVenus and MarsÓ (brilliant cover design) http://duanetrow.com/blog/Wings-Venus-And-Mars.jpg and that he drove out to the desert in California with him and shared a joint.
In 2001 a girlfriend bought me a nice coffee table edition of his paintings for my birthday (probably not many even know he also paints). When I worked for Lucas, I was told by the research librarians that when Paul was up there, he like me also ran every morning around the loop on the Ranch.
I think his album from 2005, ŅChaos and Creation in the BackyardÓ is as good as anything heÕs ever done..
And in a bizarre twist of fate I found myself surprised to actually be in his Manhattan residence a few years back.
I missed PaulÕs MSG show in 2005, his historic guest appearance last July for Billy Joel's close-out show of Shea Stadium (mirroring The Beatles first stadium concert at Shea). I tried to get tickets at the stadium on the second and last night as there was a rumor Paul might show up to play, but there were no tickets even being scalped to the L.I. home favorite. So I watched for an hour from the subway platform since you could hear every song Billy was singing very clearly and see right inside http://duanetrow.com/blog/PICT0188.JPG
Alas around 11p I thought it was too late for Sir Paul to show so I got on the train back to Manhattan only to later read in the papers he did indeed fly in from London to play a rousing set with Billy to bookend the Beatles legendary and record-setting concert in 1965.
And I missed his headlining one-night Radio City show in April with guests: Ringo Starr, Eddie Vedder, Sheryl Crow, Ben Harper, Moby, and more... http://duanetrow.com/blog/PICT0006.JPG
I even passed by David Lynch going into Time Warner as I walked over to try to get in at Radio City, not having any idea this McCartney concert was for the David Lynch Foundation! I would have asked him for tickets and a backstage pass for that matter!
Finally my luck changed when I landed early tickets through American Express for the first historic show at the MetsÕ new home Citi Field, which was last Friday night. Membership has its privileges.
Then knowing Sir Paul was going to be on Letterman last Wed. I thought I'd finally try to get on the show to see it. IÕve never lined up for the show despite it being very close by my apartment. I went down with a guest that morning and signed up and I thought, well even if we don't get in I'm happy since I have tix in hand for the Big show Fri.
We didn't get in, so I gave up on it only to find out later he played a once-in-a-lifetime free mini-concert OUTSIDE on top of the Ed Sullivan theatre marquee on Broadway, literally a 15 min. walk away from my apt! All the gear was outside at 11a and they were working on the marquee, yet I didn't put 2 and 2 together! I turned on the news before Letterman that night and they had a piece on his surprise mid-town performance! The cup in my hand smashing to the floor..
Well, the concert Friday night was tremendous and it did live up to the hype. My favorite parts: a mid-show set-piece for ŅBand on the RunÓ with this very cool projection of old out-take footage from the original album cover shoot that featured such Hollywood actors James Coburn and Christopher Lee. I had never seen this before. The album cover was alive, its subjects moving and resetting in different poses. A time capsule from the early 70Õs. http://duanetrow.com/blog/Band_on_the_Run_album_cover.jpg
Then the pyrotechnics-fireworks on ŅLive and Let DieÓ ignited the place. This was the highlight. No pun intended. And yes I guess those are my favorites for nostalgic reasons. He played Live and Let Die on the SuperBowl in 2005 with the exact same effects, but it still just gets you! Of course all the Beatles stuff was great and his new album ŅElectric ArgumentsÓ is yet again full of goods and pretty interesting in places. He commented on the sound/speaker technology nowadays compared to back in 1965 when they played through the ballparkÕs PA system and couldnÕt hear a thing anyway because of all the screaming girls. I always find technology references and the evolution of it interesting, particularly when it comes to image and sound.
My date noted after that he never took a break in a show he more than led for 2 hrs.40 min. I remember seeing some of his contemporaries take a 15 min. or so break for a band member to do a solo, and that was 20 years ago. Just amazing stamina to go with the immense talent.
Below are some pix and some very small, low quality video from my old first-of-its-kind pocket size digital still camera IÕve been using for 7 years. This little cam has been on 3 continents. ItÕs very small and stealthy. Been dropped and a piece of Scotch tape holds it together, yet it still worksÉ even in the rain! The focus is now off at times, but here I accept it as a sort of dream-like memory, which a concert kind of is.
The showÕs sound was excellent (even for a stadium) and it was more about the songs than spectacle. (The little video sound below is horrendous but still gives a little impression (surprising for a cheap mili-mic) Just a quick down and dirty hard-cut 2min. little glimpse, nothing much. The lens is set wide-angle here so things appear much more distant than they actually were. This footage is private and not for exhibition of any kind beyond here. IÕm sure thereÕs far better on youtube and such.)
And hereÕs a pre-show song they were playing: http://duanetrow.com/blog/Silly_Love_Songs(Wings_Vs_Loop-Da-Loop_mainmix).mp3
One of the highlights every year in NYC during the summer is the free NY Philharmonic concert in Central Park. About a quarter of a million people attend. This year the performance on 7/14/09 met with a gorgeous evening. Some pix are on my Facebook and hereÕs a shot I took from Belvedere Castle. Says it all: http://duanetrow.com/blog/P1130533.jpg
It was a memorable 4th here in NY. The fireworks were held on the west side over the Hudson for once to celebrate the 400th birthday of NYC (normally they are on the E. River), and the weather was ideal. Here are a few video shots straight from my window:
These brief clips are down-rezzed SD and highly compressed. I have the entire show (available) in full, glorious HD next door in stock footage
They say this is going to be a banner year in 3-D movies and I canÕt wait! This could be the next big thing in cinematic history, up there with sound, color and widescreen. I am one of those proponents who believes itÕs absolutely vital to step the theatrical experience up in order to keep audiences coming back to theatres. Box office this year is up, but attendance overall continues to fall. The business needs to do something BIG and BOLD to keep the tribal fire alive. ThereÕs no comparison to the experience of going out and seeing a movie with an audience. The home is glorified TV (although a lot of TV is much better than a lot of theatrical features these days!), but audiences have to become respectable again. ANY KIND of cell phone use during a movie should be PROHIBITED. I canÕt tell you how many times these days IÕm sitting there and someone flashes their cell phone on down the aisle or way up right in one of the front rows under the screen. ItÕs like shining a flashlight back into the audience. And these idiots will do it all through a movie, even during the climax! As bad are the morons who feel the need to talk incessantly throughout. How incredibly rude and selfish is that? I donÕt pay $12.50 in NYC these days to listen to your moronic commentary and IÕve been known to turn around and say, ŅWill you SHUT THE ---- UP? OR just go home and watch a DVD!Ó
The exception is when attending a college campus midnight show or an animated feature matinee. I donÕt mind the chatter of little kids or hearing them ask ŅWhy?Ó or all sigh ŅWhoaaa!Ó in unison. In that case itÕs actually an enhancement to the experience and itÕs understandable and very innocent.
Enjoy the show!
IÕve been very sad about the tragic loss of Natasha Richardson. I first noticed her years ago in GOTHIC and then THE COMFORT OF STRANGERS and was captivated by her as an actress ever since. My deepest sympathies go out to Liam Neeson and family.
NEW galleries next door including C. PARK WINTER and NEON RUSH. http://gallery.me.com/duanetrow
And more stock footage available at www.pond5.com/artist/mrdt?ref=mrdt.
The best movies I saw in 2008:
1. REVOLUTIONARY ROAD (maybe the finest film of the year, certainly one of the worst date movies of all time!)
2. GRAN TORINO (Clint Eastwood deserves the best actor Oscar)
3. THE WRESTLER (Mickey Rourke may deserve it more..)
4. IRON MAN (exactly what you want in a superhero flick, pitch perfect balance of current world events and FUN!)
5. FROST/NIXON (every second is compelling despite knowing the outcome)
THE DARK KNIGHT, WALL-E, SHINE A LIGHT, IN BRUGES, MAN ON WIRE, BURN AFTER READING, FLASH OF GENIUS, W, CHANGELING, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, LAST CHANCE HARVEY, MILK.
Check out the NEW galleries next door in photography: ŅYankee StadiumsÓ, ŅPresidentialÓ, ŅAt The MoviesÓ (an ongoing series). I also have NEW stock footage on the way next door in stock footage and at Pond 5.
Happy New Year!
Why be so opinionated? ItÕs only a movie they say. But time, money, emotionsÉ
ThereÕs an issue plaguing me about the current vogue in action pictures (and many prime-time drama shows). This cinematic impressionist movement has become intolerable. ItÕs not only cutting a scene to ribbons but also the shaky or subjective hand-held camera. No doubt a gimmick and I believe will fall by the wayside in due time as a fad, and in 20 years or so people will cringe looking back on this stuff. Maybe IÕm old school, but I believe in an immersive story-telling experience. The worst thing filmmakers can do is call attention to themselves. ItÕs immature. ItÕs selfish. Sure you have to accentuate and distort and cheat for dramatic effect, but generally let the audience find their way in the frame on their own. To do that keep it steady and on long enough to get it.
Something. Not just a blur. A wash of bullshit.
Last month at the NY Post Production Conference I talked to the editor of ŅQuantum Of SolaceÓ on the eve of its opening. He spoke about the style of the film and the directorÕs wishes. He said this cutty, agitated camera style is very polarizing to people. They either love it or hate it.
Well I hate it. Because itÕs sloppy, itÕs distracting, and itÕs an easy way out for the filmmakers.
What do you want from an action scene? To feel viscerally in the scene yes, but more importantly you want the audience to clearly understand what is happening and to care about the outcome. In this new style, the action is not choreographed in such a way that the audience can get a sense of the geometric space the action takes place in. Then itÕs cut so fast, randomly and frenetically that it all just becomes a wash, and I for one glaze over. The fact is itÕs much more difficult to properly stage the action in front of the camera in one take than to resort to cutting away. Let me tell you as an editor, I could almost give the same intensity and visceral cadence to a scene of a guy sitting at a table, eating an apple. It becomes arbitrary.
When you canÕt even follow whatÕs happening because the space is cheated so dramatically in the editing you lose interest. It can even be downright frustrating and annoying. And by the way slickster directors and the powers that be that are no longer the powers that be, I donÕt pay $12 for a movie ticket to see handheld shlock that makes me seasick. I can see that for free on youtube. What happened to professional camera work? Remember boys good filmmaking is about having a reason for everything you do. The shaky camera works for POV or if the subject matter lends itself to cinema verite. How do you get that far with that much money and not understand this?
Last month I had the pleasure of meeting not one but two former 007Õs here in NYC. Sir Roger Moore and George Lazenby. Check out my own personal Bond heritage: http://www.duanetrow.com/galleries/my-007-gold.jpg
ItÕs no secret that great art and technology and progress in general is built upon what came before. And if thatÕs true of art in general then certainly itÕs true of the movie business where the word borrow is a polite term.
I consider myself a student of Hitchcock and am well on my way to seeing every one of his 53 directed films and IÕm getting very close thanks to the NY Public Library. This summer I blasted through much of his post silent, British era films. Occasionally I re-screen one of the more famous later films as well including recently ŅSuspicionÓ with Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine. I made a discovery. I donÕt know if this has ever been written about, but there is no doubt in my mind that Stanley Kubrick ŅborrowedÓ from the master here. Particularly two scenes right out of this film that went into ŅThe ShiningÓ, the staircase and the Scrabble ŌmurderÕ scenes. Subtle maybe, but thereÕs no mistaking that inspiration.
Knowing what I do about Kubrick, and I have seen all 13 of his films (heÕs my other favorite director), IÕm sure he had seen HitchcockÕs movie. Connection or coincidence?
Coming off a long hiatus hereÉ
For the first time in 18 years I returned to the Dutchess County Fair last month. A time-honored tradition which is a major annual event where IÕm from. The photo gallery: http://homepage.mac.com/duanetrow/exhibit/PhotoAlbum69.html
Just back from a four-week stint in L.A. working on the Oscars. I would like to thank the Academy and all my friends who were so gracious and hospitable in allowing me to stay with them on the nights I wasnÕt in a motel. It was a long trip to be on with no expense account. That said, I shall return and make my residence once again in the City of Angels.
If you watched the Oscar Show, I edited the piece for the Honorary Award recipient, production designer Robert Boyle. It was very well received by the showÕs producers and the brass at the Academy, as well as Mr. Boyle himself and his daughter; so mission accomplished!
OPEN LETTER TO NEOPHYTE ŅFILMMAKERSÓ and ARTISTS:
So you have something to say. Maybe you donÕt. If you want to be a director and make films, understand itÕs an involved process. Making movies or Ņwanting toÓ has become so fashionable now, that you have everybody and their brother calling themselves a director.
IÕm not talking about the young digerati of the youtube generation whoÕre using the tools to come up with anything and everything. Although mostly completely undisciplined, I have no doubt one of these kids will generate a masterpiece of originality and break new form altogether. And I applaud that. No, IÕm talking about these people coming from other fields who call themselves directors yet canÕt even operate a VCR. Cinema by its nature is technical. If you donÕt want to deal with that, go write a novel. I promise you if itÕs that good, it will get made into a movie. ItÕs like Stanley Kubrick said about artists, ŅI don't think that writers or painters or filmmakers function because they have something they particularly want to say. They have something that they feel. And they like the art form; they like words, or the smell of paint, or celluloid and photographic images and working with actors. I don't think that any genuine artist has ever been oriented by some didactic point of view, even if he thought he was."
A director should know all the crafts that comprise the entire process. The director should be the maestro not a hands off wannabe.
THE BUCKET LIST is a real nice little entertainment. ItÕs a constant snicker all the way through, with some big belly laughs along the way. I canÕt imagine any other than Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman playing these parts. This is the kind of movie we donÕt get enough of these days. Just a small, character driven story without trying to be too shocking or going too far over-the-top, and yet it sheds some light on the meaning of life and after all the laughs quietly brings a tear to your eye.
My best of 2007:
Top 10 movies:
3. THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY
4. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
5. BEOWULF (in 3D)
6. BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOUÕRE DEAD
7. AMERICAN GANGSTER
8. EASTERN PROMISES
I want to note, it was not a great year I think for the movies. Last year was better.
The summer was devoid of anything even worth seeing besides the two on my list.
There were plenty of so-so flicks, but even more I thought were downright lousy.
IÕm talking about big major productions that were big hits. I really have to hold myself back here from mentioning them, since I wouldnÕt want a conflict of interest in the future.
IÕll just say some of the biggest money-makers of the year I think really, really suck!
This is nothing new, but at the same time I feel the bar is lower than ever. I canÕt stand it when people go to these movies and then say, ŅOh well it was fun. It was entertaining,
but not such a good story.Ó STOP that! All the movies on my list above I found highly entertaining regardless of subject matter or tone. I donÕt draw a distinction. Good craft is good craft. Good storytelling always wins the day. High art can be had however rare, but I DO NOT accept artistic self-indulgence OR shallow solely marketing driven junk! Not now, not ever! I champion the audience.
Or course everyoneÕs taste varies and I respect that. I do love to get into arguments on the merits or lack of in movies (hey, I grew up with SISKEL & EBERT and watched religiously since 1981). For some reason I seem to have some sort of automatic bullshit detector in most cases and can see right through to pure storytelling or not. Take it as you will, but thatÕs where I stand. I am just one man though.
Best TV show:
LOST season finale
RAISING SAND by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
(Yes IÕm a big Plant fan, but I defy anyone to listen to this work and not find it simply beautiful, true and inspiring)
I have a new favorite airline Š Singapore Airlines. The best IÕve flown since Virgin Atlantic.
They treat you right, like it used to be. The U.S. airlines are awful, as we all know. It was an international flight, so they served meals. Not one though but two. And the service was delightful. Quiet and courteous, unlike a lot of these loud bitchy American flight hostesses/hosts. The entertainment was also way beyond any domestic airline I know.
I counted 80 movie choices. Yes, 80. In addition a bunch of games, both mind and action;
and a plethora of TV shows on demand. No charge. I donÕt get it? This 747 was not brand new. They re-outfitted their fleet to be up to date in state-of-the-art entertainment options, something our airlines are too damn cheap to do. Yet, we make the planes! Maybe this new Airbus A380 double-decker (British-French-German made) will take the mantle as the new jumbo of choice in the future. Singapore Air is already flying them in their fleet.
IÕve now spent three landmark Christmastimes overseas. In 2000 I had the privilege of being in Melbourne, Australia for a very fine Christmas with my Aussie friend, Dennis and his wife Melanie, there to visit his extended Italian family. An interesting Xmas for sure, summertime down under in the land of kangaroos having a big pasta dinner at a long table filled out by a large Italian family, the patriarch and matriarch of which came to OZ from Europe after WWII. The sons had the thick Aussie accent. The parents didnÕt speak English at all. The kittenÕs name was Benito, because the mother still praised the dictator for getting the trains back on time.
Then there was Christmas Eve with Lou Penrose in Paris, 2002 and the long train ride into Germany that night. IÕll never forget how perfectly picturesque all those tannenbaums were, dotting the houses with their lights twinkling on rooftops across a snowy landscape, as the train throttled through the darkness on that Christmas Eve and the unexpected STOP and long delay when some poor lost soul jumped in front of the very train we were on. ThatÕs when I met lovely Hlen. And that is a whole other storyÉ Then Lou and I drove from the U.S. military base in Stuutgart, where my friend Vince was stationed, into Switzerland for our three night stay in Zermatt to ski the Swiss Alps. That Spaghetti dinner, late Xmas night, after the long journey was maybe the best either of us had ever had.
And this year, Christmas Eve in Malm, Sweden at AnnaÕs AuntÕs was just the perfect traditional storybook family Christmas followed that evening back in Lund at her motherÕs and then midnight mass and the ancient cathedral. Truly memorable. Xmas day had us back at her motherÕs for a small dinner party featuring a simple, yet delightful fish soup as the only entre. Then we went to the local bar, which as Anna told me, was the thing to do there on Xmas night. Unlike here, they go out BIG time on Xmas night. ItÕs the one time of the year when everyone is home with family, so they re-connect on this occasion. Well, I can attest. IÕve maybe never been to a bar so crowded. God Jul!
Stockholm is now added to my ongoing series of capital world city destinations for New YearÕs Eve celebrations. And it was a great one! IÕve done New YearÕs on four continents so far including epic times in NYC for Y2K, Sydney 2001, Berlin 2003, Buenos Aires 2005É Next? IÕm thinking either Cairo or Hong Kong. Want to hit at least the six continents. (DonÕt think IÕll make it to the penguinsÕ celebration down south.) But will outer space be a possibility? IÕm calling Sir Richard Branson nowÉ
No picture. A thousand words?
Just after takeoff very early Tue. morning on December 18th, on a small shuttle flight to Washington D.C., barely awake after staying up right through the nightÉ
I made a mistake IÕve made, always with the greatest aerial views at stake. I left my camera stowed in my carry on. So, I will give a brief account here in words of what I saw. It was unlike any view of the very many IÕve had from the air of New York City. I wrote this in my journal at Heathrow International Airport at about 3am London time while spending a wretched overnight waiting for my morning connection to Copenhagen. If I didnÕt have an iPod on me, I surely would have lost my mind!
The plane flew over the northern tip of the island of Manhattan after takeoff from La Guardia. All the big buildingsÕ electric lights still twinkled far below as the first light of dawn arced over the distant horizon out over the Atlantic. The big dark rectangle that is Central Park was in full view, obviously manmade yet in natureÕs way as only a few lights here and there sprinkled its vast surface. It and the island as a whole appeared very narrow as the lamp lit streets run straight across the width of the island, with just a handful of blocks going west to east.
The plane crossed the Hudson and was moving over New Jersey. I saw the Chrysler Building with its top spire still lit bright white while its big brother The Empire State Building was dark, but still present in its usual authoritative way. The substantial area between the skyscrapers of midtown and the equally built-up downtown forming the ŅtipÓ of the island, again reminded me of how surprisingly Ņlow-riseÓ this part of the city is. I know, amazingly, how much is still possible after nearly four hundred years of history! And I welcome it.
I could see all of New York harbor leading out to the ocean and the beaches of Brooklyn before the grand yellow, orange sheath breaking through the blue-pink veneer of the northeastern winter sky on this crystal clear break of dawn moment.
I was frustrated I was not able to shoot this amazing sight, however I know from experience
it is nearly impossible to get a good exposure from a jet at night. To expose the city lights properly, the shutter has to remain open longer. At the jetÕs speed and relatively lower altitude at takeoff and landing, there is no way to maintain focus. IÕve never been able to get a good shot of a city at night from a commercial flight.
So, itÕs all left to the mindÕs eye. A mental image. A mind shot. Perhaps more powerful anyway?
I had my own Miracle on 34th Street, except it was on 6th Avenue at Radio City Music Hall on 12/17 - the night prior to my departure to Europe. I had wanted to see the Christmas Spectacular with the Rockettes, but didnÕt have time to get tickets. So, I had a couple hours free and went over to the box office. The security outside said the show was sold out, but there might be some single seats left. I got in line inside. Then an older gentleman approached me asking if I needed a ticket. I said yeah. He said the show was sold out and he had a ticket. I thought he was another scalper, and said I was only in the market for a cheaper seat. He said he didnÕt want the cop standing behind us to see anything. I didnÕt think it mattered, but he seemed nervous about it. This made me think this guy was definitely shady and trying to score a deal here. I had been acting like I wasnÕt interested but wanted to get on with it, so I asked him how much?
He replied, ŅThis is an early Christmas present and handed me the ticket.Ó
I was surprised, ŅFor free?Ó
ŅI told you itÕs a Christmas present. ItÕs a large group youÕll be sitting with.Ó
ŅThank you very much sir. IÕm going to get a coffee and will be back.Ó
The last time I saw the Rockettes was at the age of 5 when my parents and Aunt and Uncle took me to Radio City to see the animated CHARLOTTEÕS WEB in the mid-seventies. (still a sentimental favorite)
The show was tremendous. Even better than I had imagined. Simply sensational. Really was
SPECTACULAR! I highly recommend it to anyone whoÕs ever in NYC for the holidays.
Here are some exclusive photos from the show.
I AM LEGEND delivers for a big holiday blockbuster. Sold out shows last night, including the 1:45am IMAX performance, indicate itÕs a hit. It looks amazing with stunning CGI of a future deserted Manhattan. Will Smith, never better, reminded me of Tom HanksÕ great turn in CASTAWAY operating solo for most of the picture. It takes a big star to pull this off and Smith of course is. It veers into familiar territory in a less than stellar ending.
THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY is one of the best films of the year. And this is the second French film made by Americans this year I would put up there. I saw another French film made by Chinese (what?) at the NY Film Festival, which was dreadfully boring with no story, just a slice of life. Why sit for two hours watching a slice of a fictional someoneÕs life? IÕd rather go to the museum and look at art. I prefer HitchcockÕs viewpoint on this. He said he would rather make slices of cake. (Again, my policy is not to give negative notice in this column.) DIVING BELL is no slice of cake, IÕll say right now, but the film is a brilliant adaptation of the memoir itÕs based on. ItÕs one of those great examples of pure filmmaking, both highly conceptual and downright experimental; yet it never loses its grounding in the emotion of the story. You can see in some ways it was made by a painter. Highly visual, the play with the film medium itself shows that director Julian Schnabel is a unique talent. An incredible triumph!
Check out the NEW photo galleries: RED YELLOW GREEN, FROM ABOVE and HOTEL CALIFORNIA next door in photography. FROM ABOVE is a series of aerial shots I took from commercial airliners. I have other cities and places, not in the gallery, such as Ireland, Australia, Argentina, and Costa Rica with more to come. The series is ongoing. (note: rollover galleries, then click on the exact gallery link to the right. The tools I use to design this site donÕt allow those links to remain visible as you rollover, but the links are there. Just click where you see the particular link.)
Here are two recent promos IÕve done. The first one was cut last June in Berkeley from over 20 hours of raw HD footage shot by my Lucasfilm colleague Morgan Schmidt-Feng in China last spring. (IÕll say right now, it was very interesting looking at the inside of China and its people at this time in history.) The project was for Jim Erickson, a professional Bay Area photographer who also sells stock photography. http://www.jimerickson.com/portfolio/ (mine is the first 60 sec. commercial that plays on his homepage)
ŅRoad to IngwavumaÓ is a documentary by Barbara Rick about an envoy of celebrity talent traveling to South Africa to help fight poverty and AIDS. Check out my trailer
Also check out this
As the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor approaches, I happened to take the movie
THE FINAL COUNTDOWN (1980) out at The New York Public Library. It was a favorite of mine as a kid when I saw it at our little local movie house, Lyceum Theatre. IÕm happy to report it totally holds up! Stars Kirk Douglas, Martin Sheen, and James Farentino and itÕs the best kind of science fiction; philosophical in its questions of EinsteinÕs theories and the quandary of whether to change history based on what we know now. Made me wonder if it was actually influenced by the original STAR TREK series episode ŅCity on the Edge of ForeverÓ, the popular all-time favorite among fans. Highly entertaining and intelligent. The film was actually shot on the U.S.S. Nimitz and thereÕs an interesting commentary by the director of photography on the dvd. Watching this 27 year old film again, I still found myself more amazed than ever by the 1980 warfare technology and American might! http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080736/
BEOWULF in IMAX 3D is mind-blowing! As pure spectacle itÕs beyond 300 and THE LORD OF THE RINGS and might be the most viscerally cinematic creation to date. The 3D really delivers. I highly recommend going the distance to experience it in IMAX. IÕm a huge fan of THE POLAR EXPRESS and this movie is the next step in the evolution of near photo-real animation. I donÕt understand why some critics are panning the story? ItÕs mythic, archetypal fareÉ a timeless tale about the recurring sins of our fathers. (The critics have completely lost their way. They seem to be cutting a break more and more for outright junk; and then completely miss the boat on intelligent, groundbreaking work. ThereÕs almost no credibility left there.) Make no mistake, this is a work of art; and among the most complex and defining of our times. http://www.apple.com/trailers/paramount/beowulf/
Looking forward to the new release of ATARI classics ŅevolvedÓ coming out soon. Those early video games so many of us of age have a warm nostalgia for maybe like the earlier generations of 45 records. http://www.atari.com/us/games/atari_classics/psp
Everything is retro these days. Someone in the 40th anniversary issue of Rolling Stone mentioned he thought it would be like this in the future when he was a kidÉ I think it was Bono? Speaking ofÉ the U2 3D trailer is pretty sensational in IMAX too.
The new Robert Plant Š Alison Krauss album is real nice. A little bit country, a little bit rock-n-roll. ItÕs getting a lot of praise, but I donÕt think anything so new for Plant. I hear his longtime trademark sound coming through. http://www.robertplant.com/index.php?l1=2&l2=0&l3=0&articleID=88&rt=NE&min=&PHPSESSID=13e9d954229e507a738df51b635fcc0e
If you havenÕt seen it I highly recommend PLANET EARTH, the BBC series on Discovery.
Saw some of it on HD DVD at my friend MikeÕs. Tremendous.
AMERICAN GANGSTER can be added to the pantheon shared by THE FRENCH CONNECTION, THE GODFATHER, GOODFELLAS and SCARFACE. Denzel Washington in command, and Russel Crowe yet again becoming the character. Ridley Scott is simply a master of moviemaking in any genre. I was thinking the events of the film are so crazy at times, it would seem far-fetched if it wasnÕt a true story. I havenÕt researched it but it seems they stayed fairly accurate.
THE POLICE played their last show at Madison Square Garden Friday night, and I was in attendance. Somehow this time of year seems just right for their music. Maybe itÕs my associations listening to them way back in Junior High. It was just the three of them on stage which I thought kind of daring for a big comeback world tour. Most bands of that kind of legendary success would bring an orchestra along. Their sound was always minimal and being a minimalist myself, probably why I like them. Here is an exclusive photo I took at the show. http://homepage.mac.com/duanetrow/galleries/PICT0371.gif
STOCK FOOTAGE FOR SALE. Please refer any agencies and filmmakers to check out the vast offerings at
I have 100 HD shots or so from coast to coast for sale with much more to come!
NOW on this site- my new photo gallery: ŌTraffic LightsÕ in galleries next door.
SHARKWATER opens nationally next Friday. ItÕs a great documentary! Please go find it. My trailer is now on AppleÕs site http://www.apple.com/trailers/independent/sharkwater/ and also in full HD along with the new U.S. TV spots and the 2min. Making-of Canadian theatrical trailer and 24 min. documentary aired on Animal Planet. All produced by 1Man. http://sharkwater.com/downloads.htm
Saw a couple good movies over the weekend. MICHAEL CLAYTON is an excellent, taut legal thriller that is suspenseful without going over the top. Rare these days. It has a soul too. This is the type of movie that gets me. Clooney should do more serious roles of this nature and drop the yuk fests. HeÕs a good actor. The celebrity only gets in the way.
3:10 TO YUMA is surprisingly good. Russel Crowe is again in command in this visceral, authentic feeling western that retells a good story. Christian Bale is great too. HeÕs really a fine actor. Unfortunately the film goes on a little too long and the ending is over-the-top and ridiculous. http://www.apple.com/trailers/lions_gate/310toyuma/
Apologies for the long hiatus. Time waits for no manÉ
Recently attended the NY Film Festival which was held at the Time Warner Center for the most part this year as they are renovating Lincoln Center, building the new film center. Should be nice, but not slated to be finished until 2010 I believe. Of note:
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, the Coen Brothers latest is one of their best I think.
A suspenseful neo noir thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat. They basically answered all questions afterwards by crediting the author of the novel. This is one of those films that takes a very familiar premise and subject matter and shows how it can
still, still become something new again. And that inspires me.
REDACTED, Brian DePalmaÕs latest is different from anything heÕs done. ItÕs fictional feature in a documentary style which basically tells the same story he did with CASUALTIES OF WAR twenty years ago with Sean Penn and Michael Fox. ItÕs brutal
and he said another view of the war from what we are filtered by the main stream media.
ItÕs very disturbing and stuck with me, although I had issues with it.
As he said before the film rolled, ŅOn a light note, and the only one youÕre going to get once the film beginsÉ To all the young filmmakers out there, keep at it. ItÕs taken me 45 years to get into this festival.Ó
The great Sidney LumetÕs latest WHEN THE DEVIL KNOWS YOUÕRE DEAD is a crime melodrama in keeping with what Lumet does best. As he said he doesnÕt think Ņmelodrama is a bad word.Ó And with this film and what he had to say after he proves why heÕs survived show biz for 50 years and is as sharp as ever. Great performance here from Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke is also good.
I also attended a panel discussion on BLADE RUNNER 25 years later with the release of BLADE RUNNER THE FINAL CUT. Academics from Columbia, Stanford, and Harvard joined some of the filmmakers in an interesting discussion and some debate that went on for over three hours. After I found out this new version was opening the following week in NY and LA I passed on seeing the film at the festival. Instead I made it to the great Ziegfeld for the digital projection. http://www.clearviewcinemas.com/special-engagement-br.shtml
That was last Tuesday and on its second week and it was still packed! Almost sold out. Tremendous showing! Visually and sonically, it not only holds up but somehow seems better with age. As the panel discussion hammered home and is widely known at this point since the film as gone from (on its original release in 1982) a critical and box office disappointment to cult status to now being a classic; itÕs eerily prescient. I felt the same way when I saw 2001. Neither predicts all the details of the future right, but the feeling they give you about the future is scary in accuracy. I have to comment on the debate over the ending. This is nothing new and goes back to the directorÕs cut from 15 years ago. Is Deckard a replicant himself? Ridley Scott confirms definitively. Despite his visual brilliance and immense efforts in making this classic, I disagree. I donÕt think itÕs in FordÕs performance in the telling moment at the end, and I think it is a mistake to take the story that way. If that is the case, humanity really is doomed. So, it is a bleak vision of the not so distant future, however in a dramatic and philosophical sense what stake can we have in it if the protagonist is also not human? It makes it all meaningless in the end. Besides the turn is too soft. Then again itÕs that kind of ambiguity that fuels and regenerates interest in something like this. And for the record, I never minded the voice over. I was young when I saw it in theatres for the first time, so I didnÕt think it was an issue at all. Since, having read about this being a studio marketing fixit move after test screenings, IÕve thought about it, and even knowing Harrison Ford reportedly threw it away performance wise when he did the read, I think the movie is better with the voice over. WhatÕs so bad about it? I know itÕs a crutch and less sophisticated, but it helps beyond just exposition in adding some humanity to the character and the story. That works in balance with the theme overall. I donÕt understand, because Ridley himself has said he intended the film to be a fusion of sci-fi, the future and noir detective, the past. Well, the voice over is straight from Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade Š so whatÕs the problem? Sometimes the meddling of the studio for commercial purposes actually makes a movie better. Believe it or not. When youÕre that close though, you donÕt believe it.
SHARKWATER opens today across Florida. Check out the new TV spots airing now. http://sharkwater.com/downloads.htm
What is it about a movie or other form of entertainment or art that happens to be very derivative and not even remotely original that causes some to like it and buy into it while others tune out, crying foul? Recently this question has been on my mind after seeing a high profile movie with a big star that I thought was flat and completely unrealistic. Yet a friend who has remarkably similar taste in movies to myself liked it.
At times we all individually go for something while critics and audiences in turn dismiss them. Granted itÕs some combination of the personalities and sensibilities involved in the work that either rubs us the right way or not. Subjectivity. Anything creative always will be that no matter how much we try to empirically analyze it or ŅscoreÓ it.
The first day of summer, so something should be reported. ItÕs been storming would be one way to put it. Sorry for the delay. So muchÉ Most too personal for this log, but maybe down the line in the tell-all book? Tales from the harsh city and beyondÉ out west again. Delivered from the ill fate of the mean streets to the warmest of intercontinental reunions only to suffer grand theft at the convention and then a return to the forlorn attempt at real connectionÉ Still I believe ONE MAN can make a difference. That said, no man is an island. I am changing the name of my operation (the trailer clich). ItÕs fine for freelance, but I have a grander vision ultimately.
My birthday this month wouldÕve been the saddest of all time if it werenÕt for the Paul McCartney listening party all day at every Starbucks the world over. Man, was that a blast! Actually all I remember was myself, alone drinking a coffee; but yes they were indeed playing his new album. IÕm happy to say itÕs tremendous. He did it again. I donÕt think any other artist has written and performed more great pop songs in a lifetime?
Unfortunately I missed the secret performance here in NYC at the Highline Ballroom last Wednesday night!
I have been going to the movies and I could list maybe a dozen or so really, really bad movies here with a few notable exceptions but I wonÕt bother. ItÕs not my policy. At the moment IÕm most disgusted with the state of the movie going experience itself. I went to see a thriller I had really been wanting to see for weeks now. Unfortunately it was lousy. But that goes with the territory. I think itÕs very tough to make a good thriller these days. Really tough, because weÕve seen it all before. HavenÕt we? IÕm not talking about the contest for the newest, most demented forms of torture to be committed to the screen. I mean actual stories. Nonetheless, I canÕt pretend to be entertained or buy into such incredibly ludicrous scenarios. I hold out though for the one in ten standouts. Somehow they keep coming which always gives me hope! What I am very quickly losing hope in though is the theatrical experience of going to the movies. I read in the trades some years back that Manhattan is actually very under-screened for the population and L.A. is over-screened per capita. This seems to still hold true and I donÕt quite get it. Having just been in L.A. to one of the newest complexes there in Century City I can say this: NYC theatres are for the most part poorly run and in bad shape. WhatÕs worse are the audiences. ThereÕs no etiquette whatsoever anymore in the commercial theatres. The art houses are another story. I have always, always been a regular movie-goer and I would like that to continue; however I fear that the combination of rude audiences and less than stellar presentation standards nowadays could well be the beginning of the end of the exhibition business. It better shape up! And I mean in a big way, which will eventually mean all digital 3-D IMAX-like totally immersive cinematic experiences! ThatÕs going to be good if they can get their act together and make it to that point. In the meantime I might start staying home. Or I might have to go back to L.A.
On a more positive note: saw ANNIE HALL in Bryant Park behind the world famous New York Public Library last week for HBOÕs kickoff to its fifteenth free outdoor summer movie series. Pure magic! 30,000 (I think he said?) You can only hear half the dialogue, but thatÕs missing the point. Ha!
Finally made it to ZODIAC, which is definitely a superior, intelligent thriller. What it isnÕt is the typical serial killer flick with the big surprise ending. Thankfully it redefines the genre a bit, (although itÕs not unlike something like HELTER SKELTER) and is
more of a period epic, methodically paced procedural. ItÕs completely engrossing if not always thrilling. I loved the way that time in San Francisco and the Bay Area is captured, spookily recounting the real killings that also inspired DIRTY HARRY. Really it may be director David Fincher who is closest to the modern day Hitchcock, at least as far as big budget Hollywood filmmaking goes. His cinematic prowess is just outstanding. IÕve followed his movies all along: ALIEN 3, SEVEN, THE GAME, FIGHT CLUB, PANIC ROOM. SEVEN is the best along with this. It really evokes the period so well for all that was truly scary about those times. It also awakened something in me - the fading realization that I too am supposed to make this kind of thriller. Yes, I remember now that was what I always wanted to do and then got sidetracked. Damn! Well, if I can get up the stamina and ever got so lucky!
On a technical note: this is the first time a movie has been ŅfilmedÓ entirely without film OR tape! When they shot it in HD, it was captured directly to drives. So the original ŅnegativeÓ only exists on a hard drive.
Saw Woody AllenÕs MANHATTAN down at Film Forum here in Manhattan.
A masterpiece. I saw it on video 20 years ago, but so glad I had the opportunity to see it
in a theatre here with a sold out Saturday night crowd. ItÕs probably WoodyÕs most visual film, shot wide frame (scope) in sumptuous black and white by Gordon Willis. And scored to the great George Gershwin. What a feast. ItÕs also laugh a minute, big laughs with the Woodman at his brainy, comic best. I had always liked ANNIE HALL more than this film, but after seeing this again and for the first time on the big screen itÕs hard to imagine a better film. Also, interesting looking at the city as it was in the late 70Õs. There is a scene in the Museum of Natural History, which is almost avant-garde in the way it plays as graphical abstract. Also thereÕs a tracking shot across the moon which seems to be a direct play on KubrickÕs 2001.
my top five movies for 2006:
AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH (maybe most important)
UNITED 93 (most nerve-racking suspense despite knowing the outcome. I didnÕt want to like this picture, but itÕs impeccable cinema verit that tries to not manipulate the audience, merely exactly recreate the reality)
THE BRIDGE (I hate this film and wish I had never seen it. It deeply, deeply disturbed me and stayed with me for days after. However so affecting I mention it here whether to recommend or steer clear of. Either way, I question the ethics of the filmmaker. No question, he intentionally made a snuff film.)
ALONE WITH HER (also deeply disturbing, but the best minimalist Hitchcockian thriller IÕve seen in ages. I still canÕt believe Colin Hanks, TomÕs son, took this role and Ana Claudia Talancon is a total revelation. I saw it at the Tribeca Film Festival as I did THE BRIDGE above, and met the lead actress and talked to her after the film. SheÕs as nice, polite and intelligent as it gets. What really got me going was my talk with the director. I asked him several technical things about the making of the film, but on a bigger conceptual scale,
whether REAR WINDOW was his main inspiration and he said no it was PSYCHO.) This film will be released this year.
APOCALYPTO & LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA (best new trend: completely immersive foreign language historical epics)
INSIDE MAN (best Spike Lee joint in a long time)
FIREWALL (most under-rated)
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE III (superior sequel and by far the best in the series, if you like the ABC show LOST, as I do, director J.J. Abrams has his signature style all over this one!)
FACTOTUM (Matt Dillon playing Charles Bukowski in a hilarious performance. Spare as it gets, but so irreverent and yet poignant)
THE PEACEFUL WARRIOR (most Zen, with an Oscar caliber performance from Nick Nolte)
THE DA VINCI CODE (a solid adaptation, although the main criticism I heard was from people who had not read the book, who could not follow all the twists. I read the book, so canÕt speak to that.)
THE GOOD SHEPHERD (a long, quiet, subtle suspense. Reminded me a little of THE CONVERSATION, CoppolaÕs best; and JFK, StoneÕs best. Biggest accomplished cast of any picture of the year.)
* another great emerging if not really new tech trend: DIGITAL 3-D and IMAX 3-D:
released or re-released this year:
SUPERMAN RETURNS (IMAX partial 3-D)
THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (Disney Digital 3-D)
This type of cinema could really take off as the next big thing. I hope so!
We saw DREAMGIRLS at the world famous Ziegfeld Theatre here in Manhattan where the premiere was held, and according to the staff all the stars attended and stayed for the whole show. Visually and sonically sensational! I donÕt like musicals in general however and was somewhat bored. Eddie Murphy was good and deserves an Oscar nomination.
I canÕt help it, every time he came on screen I had to laugh though. In one scene he says,
ŅI got soul. You canÕt kill a man with soul!Ó At which point, my associate from L.A. leaned over to me and said, ŅThis is you! This is you!Ó
Then in the same scene he says, ŅBaby you canÕt leave me. I love you!Ó Again my associate elbowed me saying, ŅThis is you! HeÕs you!Ó
TIMES SQUARE for New YearÕs Eve 2007! We walked from my place (about 15 min. - love NY for that) at about 10:30p and it was an absolute mob scene of course. I love the crowd though. Always. So anyway, we managed to get past the police barricades down on 50th due to my talking our way in with NYPD, because I happened to remember the restaurant I was at there last year and since I was just with my lovely associate. Then there was another barricade just before Broadway where we waited just out of sight from where the ball drops. They opened the gate for a second and my associate ran through and into the melee, leaving me in the dust.
I told the cops, ŅHey thatÕs my girl!Ó
They said, ŅReally? Maybe you should re-consider that.Ó
I said, ŅI know, says it all.Ó
They laughed and opened the gate for me and said to go to her, which I did.
Ten minutes to go and we saw it all and then after the fireworks we did the ritual walk down Broadway with all the masses to the center of it all. After turning right and heading back west, I filled two official Times Square 2007 confetti bags to the max for a souvenir and for that matter did my part for the enormous street cleanup after the party. All in all, as memorable as it gets and IÕve had many including in recent years: NYC-Y2K, Sydney, Berlin, Buenos Aires, É maybe Hong Kong next year?
On New YearÕs Day rain and a thick fog enshrouded Manhattan. Just out the window the skies a thick grey soup with the skyscrapers looming within but barely seen all morning. A perfect day to just hang out inside listening to music, looking at photographs.
My associate was showing me for the first time her shots on her Nikon, when something profound to me occurred. I had the BLADE RUNNER soundtrack playing (I knew the movie to be one of her favorites from our times together in L.A.) and as she displayed shot after shot of her people, stopping to zoom in and scroll up and down, pan across each picture I thought thatÕs exactly what happens in a now prescient scene from that classic film. Detective Deckard has the computer move into a photograph in order to find clues from the crime scene. The connection between what she was doing and the music I was playing for her was incredibly significant. The movie takes place in something like 2019 and although the technology portrayed in the film is not quite there yet, itÕs gotten damn close already with todayÕs computers and digital photography. WeÕre basically there!
One of the cues from the Vangelis score:
ROCKY BALBOA in Philadelphia where it all began and where the saga ends!
I saw it there last Friday night and to get right to the point I was not disappointed! ItÕs right up there with the original which is saying a helluva lot! This is an old, tired franchise and yet every one of them has been clever and exceptionally watchable. Stallone deserves enormous credit here for doing it once again, and even more for saying goodbye to his endeared character in a CLASS A way! Way to go Sly! It should receive Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Direction. It probably wonÕt of course, but this is great filmmaking. Tremendous insight, intelligence, and resourcefulness on SylvesterÕs part. I saw it in Philly in a group of six (perfect number for this one) and we all enjoyed it enormously. Somehow it was even BETTER than I even wanted it to be! If you see this movie and donÕt get fully into it, you must not have blood pumping through your veins and therefore no heart. And if thatÕs the case I donÕt want to know you anyway. We donÕt need more of that in this world. (now, check out my own personal run up the famous Art Museum steps in the rain and in my boots! before seeing the movie later that evening. Notice my iPod flies out of my pocket and I catch it and hold onto it from then onÉ)
Later in the weekend I also had a very special moment up on the top of those steps with
my friendÕs new puppy, Sophie. I took her for a walk since they werenÕt home yet, and just took in the clear nightÕs view of downtown Philly. A quiet moment of reflection and contemplation with someone who was happy to be there with me and wanted nothing more. ManÕs best friend, yes.
Also of note, APOCALYPTO. ItÕs a very original, solid tale of the end of a civilization and a fatherÕs visceral journey back to save his family. Archetypal and if not quite as original as the trailers led me to hope, still a fine picture. And it is brutal, however not nearly as gory as the critics slammed it for being.
Okay, IÕve had it. ThereÕs something I need to address and it involves four men.
DonÕt get the wrong idea. Anyway, theyÕre all rich and famous and certainly donÕt need my help. IÕm going to give it to them anywayÉ
First, Sir Paul McCartney. I feel for him. If it can happen to him it can happen to any of us. I talked to a very nice young lady a couple weeks back about Paul and Heather. She said how stupid he must be not to sign a prenup.
I explained, ŅHoney, what does he do?Ó
ŅHeÕs an artist.Ó
ŅYes, what kind?Ó
ŅYeah, what kind?Ó
ŅWhat kind of songs does he write?Ó
ŅBingo! It would be against his very nature, his soul as an artist, the true romantic he is for him to sign a prenup. The very fortunes he is trying to protect all derive from that particular artistry!Ó Besides, English law only allows for her to get half of what he made in the 4 years they were married. He cleared 95 million last year alone so nothing to sneeze at, but most of his 1.5 billion is safe.
Needless to say, I set this girl straight. And let me add, Paul McCartneyÕs latest album CHAOS AND CREATION IN THE BACKYARD is as fine as ANYTHING heÕs EVER done! ItÕs right up there with all the Beatles! Listen to it, I dare you! But donÕt be a cynic. You have to like his kind of music to begin with.
Second, Stallone. I am there for this last ROCKY. You better believe it! To all the naysayers or doubters I say this: It would be contrary to both Sylvester Stallone and the Rocky character for him NOT to go back into the ring one last time. To do it is the very essence of the whole enterprise. IÕm with ya Sly! I think the audience will be too!
Third, Cruise. What the hell is the big deal about jumping up and down on OprahÕs couch? I donÕt get it. He was in my office once and he didnÕt jump up and down on my couch. Matter of fact he behaved himself quite nicely and was good to me. His only mistake was getting too personal about the prescription drugs and his religion, and he was a little arrogant. (One thing, people donÕt tolerate arrogance.) Harrison Ford is a good example of an actor who doesnÕt say too much off screen and I think others should maybe take a cue from his policies. But the point is Cruise IS a very good actor! Every time out, he plays whatever role with complete conviction. ThatÕs someone I can trust with my box office dollar because I know the integrity will be in the performance. So, still with ya Tom! MI III was the best hands down in that series. I didnÕt care for the first two, but this one rocks!
Fourth, Gibson. The man has demons. So do ALL the GREAT artists! Everyone went after Woody and Polanski too. Well, what about Picasso? You cannot create truly great art if you are not out on the edge and a real risk taker. So, in order to receive and benefit from that great art we may need to cut a little slack now and then. If it hurts people, then no. He never should have said those things, and even sadder if he believes them. Maybe his father just has too much a hold on him. Regardless, whatever the controversy, his APOCALYPTO looks simply phenomenal and beyond anything! It looks like the most original motion picture of the decade. We shall see. And he has the balls to put out an expensive film in Mayan? Crazy. Totally unique. IÕm there!
007 is back and the good news is better than ever! ItÕs the best Bond in years. I had thought Clive Owen would make the best new Bond, but this guy is the real deal. Rock solid. I think he should get an Academy Award nomination; and my friend, an independent producer, went so far as to say the movie should get a Best Picture nomination. And heÕs not a genre guy at all! We had the Saturday night double date, and again I was on her majestyÕs secret service with my lovely British associate. We saw it at the world famous Ziegfeld Theatre, ManhattanÕs very best movie theatre where all the premieres usually are. ItÕs big, itÕs old fashioned, itÕs a historic landmark. ItÕs the Chinese of New York. A sold out Saturday night show and the energy was palpable. The very best kind of movie experience. This is why I still go to the movies. This is why I go and wait on a line on opening weekend. This is why I got into the business. ItÕs our most beloved cultural pastime. Support it by continuing to go the theatre to see your movies! I fear sometimes theatrical exhibition is endangered, but would never think so based on last night! The place was buzzing! The trailer for ROCKY BALBOA played and I am happy to report got applause and cheers. ItÕs going to do business. I plan to see it in Philadelphia this Christmas when I go visit an old friend and his wife down there. Back to Bond though, love the Chris Cornell song. I still hope The Stones do one and maybe Elton John. The lineage of legendary Brit artists from Tom Jones to McCartney to Duran Duran should be maintained. However one thing was irritating to me. The opening title sequenceÕs absence of naked women not only clearly violates a long tradition, itÕs inexplicable and an outrage. And I have to mention, there is something about this new guy that reminds me of Steve McQueen. He looks like him and has the same cool delivery.
After the show I was telling my British associate at dinner a few interesting things with regard to my own history with 007. My first Bond was GOLDFINGER on TV at the age of 3 or 4. My first Bond at the movies was THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN. And the first Bond I worked on professionally (IÕve worked on two of them) was GOLDENEYE. The other thing I told her was the interesting fact that my brother in-law worked with MI-6 in London for the last three years. And my father has a Walther PPK, which I used to shoot as a kid.
So, brilliant job well done 007! This series needed a fresh take, and the studio was smart here. The last one was a cartoon in comparison.
Now, to the other side of the spectrum. Saw another film this week which I will not reveal the title of, because my policy on here is to only give notice to the good pictures I like. If I am in the business of selling movies, I have to maintain that protocol. But I will say this other film with a major star and shot in locations around the world is a complete disaster. Pretentious, contrived, self-indulgent, art for artÕs sake. It sucks.
I was so worried sitting there that it was going to go to three hours. If it had I wouldÕve committed suicide right there in the theatre. Luckily it didnÕt, but I still wasnÕt spared as I sat through 2 1/2 hours of cinematic masturbation (I couldnÕt walk out because I was with a date who was the one who suggested this movie). And this from a very celebrated director and writer with a big star who is barely in it and when he is we are watching a movie star acting, not a character in a dramatic story we care about.
The same writer and directorÕs first film was a masterpiece, so I donÕt know what happened except to say itÕs typical these days. Self indulgence. No one cares about the audience anymore. These guys are more interested in jerking off the camera (On that note I am sick and tired of this trend of jerky camera moves for the sake of hot new aesthetic chic. Mark my words, some day itÕs going to look dated and stupid.), than in crafting a good story that an audience can really get into. So my policy is to accentuate the positive, but IÕm not a yes man. I donÕt go along with what is supposed to be ŅimportantÓ, and IÕm not kissing anyoneÕs ass. I tell it like it is and will never compromise that. I do care about the audience.
THE QUEEN is certainly one of the best films this year. I predict Helen Mirren will
win best actress. I had the great privilege of seeing this fine picture with an English date,
so IÕve been tutored somewhat now on the British Royalty.
My very first time in Europe was at a little hotel right down the street from Buckingham Palace. And I was on an island in Greece when my friendÕs colleague, a fellow doctor, told us early that morning that Princess Diana was killed the night before in Paris in a car crash. It was bright and sunny as we sat in a marina there, seagulls squawking. Shock and sadness. Then we happened to be in London on a flight layover the day of her funeral. I remember vividly the controversy of the QueenÕs silence and will never forget her live speech. It deeply moved me, as did this movie.
I recently finished a book that might be the most important IÕve read in a long time.
ItÕs a userÕs manual for the human brain, The Compassionate Brain by Dr. Gerald Hther. He is a German research scientist, and this is his first book in English. Forget all the self-help books out there. This is all you need. ItÕs pure science but comes to the same ultimate advisement as any religion (if that is where you take your cues). It can be quite harrowing at times but also very hopeful. ItÕs very dry and goes through a lot of neurobiological evolution history to make its very sound points, but if you can get through it I guarantee itÕs worth it.
At the closing night of the New York Film Festival a few weeks ago, Guillermo Del Toro
made a little speech before the screening of his new picture PANÕS LABYRINTH. He spoke of studio marketing and interference and said all he wanted to do is create images for the screen. ThatÕs his passion. He received much applause and praise that evening.
Watching the movie brought to my mind other thoughts. ItÕs alarming to me that major, celebrated directors of big Hollywood movies seem to think that cinema is a visual art.
It is NOT a visual art. It is a temporal art. The art of movies is story and NOT visual decoration, and because so many of these ŅmoviemakersÓ spend so much of their tremendous energies and great talent on creating visuals, the story usually suffers.
I am all for the art of the moving image and it actually interests me more than story in some ways. But do not disguise visual art as story and make me sit there for over two hours. ItÕs a bore. If I had wanted visual art I wouldÕve gone to the museum.
THE PRESTIGE is a very well crafted thriller that had me engrossed for its duration,
but I feel it is ultimately intrinsically flawed so cannot fully recommend it. FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS is an epic war picture that is really about celebrity. I liked it, but it didnÕt really hit me in the gut for some reason. I try to support Clint Eastwood by seeing all his movies since he was my neighbor a couple times up on the ranch. But then again, IÕve always gone to all his movies going all the way back to my father taking me to THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES. Seeing DIRTY HARRY on TV around that time was very,
very intense for me as a young kid. It disturbed me actually. Of course I was interested ever since.
A couple notes on movie going these days. First, I am not in favor of stadium seating. ItÕs okay, but I like to walk into the theatre and see all the seating going down to the screen. With stadium seating, you walk in and go down a dark hallway that then reveals the audience looking back from closer to the screen up front. It feels impersonal to me.
Second, to all the idiots who check their cell phones during the movie; the glare from the light of the phone screen is incredibly distracting! I think IÕm going to bring a laser pointer with me from now on, and shoot it right in the eye of any idiots that sit there and talk or check their cell phones during the movie. Stay home and rent a dvd if you canÕt shut up.
I was down at Ground Zero over the weekend and it triggered some thoughts from when I was down there last month shooting all night (35mm, digital and HDV) on the fifth anniversary. (The gallery of that shoot is next door in photos.)
At around 4:30am I went into a little caf about a block from where the towers were. After I ordered my coffee, I talked to the guy working there for a bit. He was a very nice, Hispanic guy in his mid-twenties or so. I asked if the caf was there five years ago? He said yes, but it had been partially rebuilt. He then pointed to the five-story building across the street and said it had been completely rebuilt. I asked if he was there on that day five years ago? He said yes, he was there. I asked what it was like and he said they all ran for their lives out of the caf when the first tower came down and just kept going west toward the Hudson River. He then told me of a young kid who had just started working there at the time. The kid had gone on a daily morning breakfast delivery to a company up in one of the towers. He never came back.
We all know what happened, but when you hear a story like this in person from someone who was down there at the time; itÕs just devastating. I will never know who that kid was but my heart is forever with him.
I have to comment on my earlier review of THE DEPARTED here and want to say something regarding the lead roles. And understand, my reviews will NEVER give synopsis or lead in any way toward any kind of divulgence toward what happens in the movie. Too many times criticism gives away the freaking movie that way. I will not go there. IÕll say this though about the performances in this film: the leads are playing themselves. This doesnÕt for one second mean they are inferior performances. On the contrary, theyÕre the best from each. Leo and Damon are playing themselves essentially and so is Jack as he is so often accused. But I ask, is that a bad thing? In this case, definitely not. It gives a sincerity to the film IÕve not seen on this level in a star driven studio film in some time. Forget about that though, itÕs all about the writing. The characters. WeÕre caught up in the story and thatÕs all that matters.
THE DEPARTED is flat out the best picture of the year IÕve seen so far and itÕs a tremendous return to form for Scorsese. A wild, vivacious masterpiece in the crime genre just when you thought youÕd seen everything possible there. I expect it very possible to win Best Picture, and Marty to finally win Best Director. With this picture, it wouldnÕt be a lifetime achievement for him, I would go so far as to say this may be his greatest film. All the performances are first rate. All of them, including Alec Baldwin and Martin Sheen in supporting roles, and although it may be Leo who really shines here because this particular role ideally suits his natural screen persona; it is JACK who yet again proves he is in a class all his own, and delivers perhaps the greatest impression of a rat by a human being ever captured on film. Watching this fine cast at the tip-top of their craft makes me want to act myself. I think everyone forgets the talent involved to spin this illusion of reality up there before all our very jaded, discerning eyes. I also fell in love with the actress, Vera Farmiga [she was in THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, which I saw but didnÕt remember her from]; and itÕs been a long time since I fell in love with an actress in a movie. SheÕs going places.
This film single-handedly re-assures that big Hollywood movies can still deliver like nothing else when done right and I believe thereÕs no other form that can give the kind of emotional experience you get from being in the theatre as this movie plays up on the screen. I drank a large cap before the show and had to take a leak for the last 80 minutes or so of the movie, but I didnÕt get up. ThatÕs saying something. The plotÕs complex and immensely engrossing. ItÕs on the long side, but the economy of the storytelling is dead on. No waste. IÕm one for shorter movies across the board, but it never bothers me when a longer running time is fully warranted as it is here. ItÕs also the best use of cell phones so far in a movie.
I donÕt really understand blogging. If everyoneÕs doing it, who has time to read anyone elseÕs? Yet, from a technological perspective I completely understand it and see it as a perfectly natural progression of a creative, communicative, and democratic act Š writing. The need to say something to other people. ItÕs a very intimate thing, so being a shy person I donÕt know how comfortable I am with this.
I have chosen to write in green text over black background, because that is what ŅtheyÓ say is better for the eyes when reading a computer screen. IÕm sure it will be overturned at some point in the future when new research indicates in fact itÕs carcinogenic and actually it is healthy to read black type on a green background. Anyway, I like it because itÕs nostalgic of the old computer screens from my youth. Remember, before color computer displays? And the older I get the more I like nostalgic things. Call it the desire to hang on to youth and all things youthful. ThatÕs normal and healthy I think. It could become bad only if it were to cause harm to someone else.
So, after much deliberation, pondering, re-thinking my life, and general agony lately I have come to the conclusion that I should remain in the movie industry in some capacity as I am very visual. My deep desire is to tell stories, ultimately to create some epic narrative. I am also continually intrigued, drawn to and inspired by new technologies. And like everyone, I love music and also natural and other sounds and particularly the design of sound. Lately IÕve become more interested in electronic games again. Essentially it comes down to this: I am interested in the recreation of reality in synthetic form for the purpose of entertainment. So, naturally I want to be involved in movie-making. I hate to say it, but I want to direct. ItÕs just the way it is. I feel the urgent need to be involved in every capacity in the workings of motion picture production. This I have come to the conclusion is something I simply cannot deny or avoid. The medium is too exciting to not be involved. I canÕt see any other way. Yet, I guilt myself incessantly for not having gone into a ŅrealÓ line of work. Being in NYC now is not helpful in this matter either. I see too many very real people working very hard sun-up to sundown everyday doing the very ŅrealÓ jobs and tasks that sustain as vibrant, thriving, and tough a place as New York City.
ItÕs a smaller world now, but also the more you travel and places youÕve lived the more your family, friends, and colleagues are spread out geographically. ItÕs not about the distance with all the communication technologies we have today, and I expect air travel to take a giant leap forward in our lifetimes. No, itÕs difficult to stay in touch simply because there isnÕt the time. Time. ŅTime waits for no man.Ó This is truly the most terrifying thing to me.
So I think I will use this forum as a casual public journal as well as a way to recommend movies and such to my friends without making a phone call or the incessant emailing thatÕs taking over everyday life. I realize IÕve probably written enough email text to fill several novels by now, so why not contain the latest news to a single dispatch? Also if anything itÕs practice. Writing practice. My latest motto is Ņsomething begets more of the same somethingÓ. Fill the two somethingÕs in with anything at all and it will be a truth. In this case: writing begets more writing. It beats just thinking.