Thursday, December 30, 2010

Poster for 'Luster'

Love this graphic. IMDb says:

Thomas Luster is a troubled businessman who tries to make sense of a life being driven out-of-control by a force closer to home than he first realizes. When he discovers that the man working against him is another side of his own personality he is forced to fight back against his manipulative alter-ego as murder, madness and mayhem combine to take Luster on the most bizarre and terrifying ride of his life.

Writer/director team Adam Mason and Simon Boyes have a track record with horror, having made 'Broken', 'The Devil's Chair', and 'Blood River'. I haven't seen any of those but the all got fair traction online.

'Luster' looks more like a psych-thriller with horror elements, maybe an identity twist that could be cool. The poster has a retro, almost Hitchcock, feel. Synopsis has the same energy but with a contemporary edge. Maybe Adam and Simon are shifting gears. Here's hoping.

Sofia Talks 'Somewhere'

Filmindependent with Sofia Coppola about her minimalist approach for 'Somewhere':

It seems that you as a filmmaker tend to move towards the smaller and the more intimate.  In this film specifically, I noticed that there was a real sense of stillness and a quiet.  The sounds were so palpable; you could hear breathing in pools and skates on the ice.  How much a part of that came at the beginning, and how much came at the end?

That was something I wanted throughout the process.  I talked about that to Richard Beggs, our sound designer, who I love working with.  It feels like a lot of movies just bombard you with music and songs in every scene; I just wanted to approach everything as minimally as do a really minimal portrait of this guy.  Even with the camera work, I wanted you to not be aware of the camera -to feel natural. It was important to make it feel like you were alone with this guy, and that included the sound also feeling really natural - the sounds of the engine, the squeaks on the poles.  We didn't use a lot of music. Some, but it was limited.  I really wanted to let it breathe. I think that all those little details make it come to life.  I wanted to experiment on how simply we could do something.

You know, I happen to agree with all that. Still, as I said, I'm not a huge fan of her movies. They are easy to watch, though.

It's a good interview.

Poster for 'Green Hornet'

Is this French? Yet another foreign poster that beats the hell out of the US version.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pixar Stamps

Here are the new Pixar stamps from the U.S. Postal Service.

'Star Wars' Posters by Mondo

Probably my favorite of Mondo's 'Star Wars' posters.

Something, Anything, Somewhere, About Sofia Coppola

At Slate, Nathan Heller on Sofia Coppola:

In the past two decades, Sofia Coppola has been publicly laughed at, booed, and wept over by Quentin Tarantino—treatments that, in the ledger of Hollywood fame, add up to something slightly short of canonization. But her greatest talent may lie in inciting small-scale culture wars.


...From The Virgin Suicides to Somewhere, Coppola's films are striking for their steadfast, targeted attack on the culture of Hollywood. And although this common thread at first looks incidental to her project, it runs to the heart of her divisive reputation. Coppola's insider criticism of Hollywood, her disdain for the industry that her own career relies on, leads her into a strange territory between hypocrisy and candor, privileged lament and fearless protest.

Sofia Coppola's films are atmospheric. Maybe, they're all atmosphere. We could argue. Her camera is very direct yet, at the same time, almost lazy -- casually observant, but missing nothing. It's fair to call her plots minimalist. Any given script could be boiled down to a short story of, say, ten pages. Fifteen? But, then, what's between the lines in any given shot in one of Sofia's movies could fill volumes. Usually, character arc and plot are kept to barest minimum. Often, even dialogue is rare. It's as if she wants the actor(s) to communicate telepathically. An unreceptive or insensitive audience ain't gonna get much outta her movies. She does a good job with such material. This coming from a guy who doesn't care for that kind of approach. I can't imagine her directing the next 'Die Hard', but...

Considering Sofia Coppola's work is some of the most ethereal and slightest (I've ever seen), it's stirred up quite a storm of passionate criticism. Heller posits, 'You either love her or hate her.' I fall in between, (I guess). I admire her ability to make so much out of so little. (I'd never attempt to make a movie out of one of those scripts). However, even though there is very little in black an white on the pages of the screenplay, there's rarely a frame or scene that doesn't flow (in front of her camera). I can't think of a passage from her work that struck me as static despite the fact not much, sometimes almost nothing, was happening. Her scenes are emotionally kinetic, but on the surface very still, with almost no forward motion, at the same time. (I guess I'm not satisfied with the simple and common 'atmospheric'). At any rate, that's got to count for something.

There's a certain fluency, aplomb, here. She does not ask or, I'd be willing to bet, expect to be liked. It's far more likely she expects her movies to be loved...or hated. And, well, I kinda like her movies. I kinda don't like them, too. Like I said, I fall in between.

I'm not sure she deserves to be hated. Wouldn't it be easier not see her movies? Just avoid them altogether? Go for a walk in the park instead. Perhaps one would be better off hating the birds, trees, sun, and wind simply for being there, for existing, instead of hating Sofia Coppola's movies. And, you wouldn't have to buy a ticket and sit through a movie to engender all that angst.

And, loving her movies? I suppose they deserve that about as much as the birds and trees, and sun and wind, et cetera, during a walk in the park. Just for being there.

Illustration by Slate

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

'The Other Woman'

A while back we got word 'Love and Other Impossible Pursuits' would get a release from IFC Films in February 2011, and, the title had been changed to 'The Other Woman'.

Well, here's the first poster for 'The Other Woman'. And, remember: Love makes everything possible.

'The Fiction'

I love this poster. Looks very much like the cover of a novel, which is the intent. Here's the rundown from IMDb:

In the midst of creating his newest masterpiece, Werther Oaks, an established author, develops writer's block. His current novel is at a dead end. Driving himself into a thick depression, Werther begins having hallucinations. Is he losing his mind, or is his mind simply telling the story?

Ooh, creepy!  Ooh!

The whole 'stuff from a writer's novel come to life/starts to happen in real life' genre -- usually a gambit from wannabe (screen)writers. There are hundreds of these written every year. Luckily, we don't hear about the vast majority of them. Most collect dust and are discussed ad nauseam on screenwriting/fiction sites.

Writer/director Daniel Dileo is a first-timer, to be sure, but not necessarily a newbie (not that that, necessarily, would be a bad thing) to be sure.

'The Fiction' may rise above. Certainly, with so many writers trying for the same story, year after year, somebody has to hit the nail on the head sooner or later. That the effort is said writer's first published/produced credit can't be held against him/her. Of course, if the movie is a turkey, the fact that it's Dileo's first effort will certainly be cited as the reason. But, on the flip side, if it's even half-decent, he'll be tagged as a director/writer to watch for, especially as 'The Fiction' is his first outing.

Anyway, back to the poster. The tracks leading to/from the swing set -- very eerie. Love all the negative space in the middle. I'm sure that's where the story lives -- between the lines, as it were. Lighting from the right side gives an unnatural feel -- nice. Love the title, too. The old typeset look is perhaps overdone. That's one seriously out of whack typewriter.

You'll excuse me, but I think this blog post may be coming to life, or, rather, be taking on a life of its own. Am I losing my mind? Wait! that gives me an idea for a novel/movie! 'The Blogger'. 'The Blog'. I'll get back to you.

Surely, You Can't Be Serious

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington is serious, and don't call him Shirley.

Here are the films being added to the National Film Registry:

  1. Airplane (1980)
  2. All the President’s Men (1976)
  3. The Bargain (1914)
  4. Cry of Jazz (1959)
  5. Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB (1967)
  6. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  7. The Exorcist (1973)
  8. The Front Page (1931)
  9. Grey Gardens (1976)
  10. I Am Joaquin (1969)
  11. It’s a Gift (1934)
  12. Let There Be Light (1946)
  13. Lonesome (1928)
  14. Make Way For Tomorrow (1937)
  15. Malcolm X (1992)
  16. McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971)
  17. Newark Athlete (1891)
  18. Our Lady of the Sphere (1969)
  19. The Pink Panther (1964)
  20. Preservation of the Sign Language (1913)
  21. Saturday Night Fever (1977)
  22. Study of a River (1996)
  23. Tarantella (1940)
  24. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945)
  25. A Trip Down Market Street (1906)

'Suing the Devil'

While I don't see much here, this 4 minute trailer surely serves as a compressed version of the entire movie. As such, it offers a unique opportunity to digest something that would otherwise require an hour and a half to view.

I do like the poster though.

Monday, December 27, 2010


This story will be published in three to five parts (I'm not sure yet as they're not written yet). Toward the end it will get extremely graphic. Most people will find some passages difficult to read. Some will stop reading altogether.

If such content will bother or offend you, please do not read 'Light'.


written by
Alan Green

Part I

I'm recovering from surgery. Brain surgery. No. I'm not stupid. They didn't cut out a huge chunk. Just a tiny chunk. About the size of an eraser on the end of a pencil. But. The good news. They replaced that chunk. With a tiny sliver of a rat's brain. A sliver taken from a part of the brain, the rat's brain, responsible for controlling motor function. I forget the name. And, that gets me to my problem, my sickness. The reason I needed surgery. I had epileptic seizures. Bad ones. Really bad. The docs said I'd likely die from one within a few years. Great.

They procedure is experimental. They really didn't know what would happen. But, hey. If you're slated to die 'within a few years', why not. What they do is insert a catheter through a small hole they drill in the skull, guide the tube using realtime PET imaging (or, it might be CT, I forget that too). They worm the catheter around until the end in near the spot to be excised. Then, they snake an optical filament through the tube and fire up an RF (radio frequency) emitter on the end of the filament and ablate the offending tissue. Then, they vacuum up the goo with a really tiny hose, and insert the afore mentioned rat brain tissue, bathe it in anti-rejection and AP (assimilation promotion) drugs, and sew you up. Badda-bing, badda-boom.

Simple. Hell, I could have done it if I had good instructions.

So, here I am, the first human, the first girl (I'm twenty-six if you're interested. My name is Chloe.), to have this done. I feel fine. At my first scheduled post-surgical examination everybody was real cheerful, but it was a kinda forced. You could tell they all had their fingers crossed. But, the next day, I hadn't had a seizure, and when I went down to the fifth floor for another exam everybody had big beautiful smiles. They watched me walk across the room like I was a rock star, or something. One and a half days, no seizure. They liked that. Liked it a lot.

A couple weeks go by, still no seizures. I moved out of the hospital to my apartment. Well, it's not mine. It's provided and paid for by the university medical center -- that's where the protocol is being conducted. EP-TI-4755-001. Experimental Protocol, Tissue Implant 4755. I'm 001. (You can write your own 007 joke). Anyway, since it's a federally subsidized protocol, all the participants get a free ride -- everything is paid for. It's the law. And, as the protocol calls for the subject (me) to live very close to medical personnel and facilities, I get an apartment on campus rent free. Cable, wifi, even a stipend for food and expenses. I even get to use one of the university's cars.

What the hell. I should get that stuff paid for. Had to quit my job for this. That's another thing. I can't work for twelve months after the surgery. To keep environmental factors, like stress, and thinking a lot, to a minimum. So, In my downtime I surf the web, or watch blu-ray movies on my killer fifty-two inch plasma TV (that your tax dollars bought). Sometimes, I'll do the History Channel thing, or watch that channel that only runs biographies -- what's that called? Every now and then I'll watch a game or something. I can watch football for maybe ten minutes before I zone out. Sometimes, I read. I got a stack of books (yeah, your taxes bought those too).

That's my life. I take it easy. And, why not enjoy myself? I asked one of the nurses how much a study like this cost. She said 'millions', even 'tens of millions'. Okay. It's their dime. They dick around with my brain, I watch TV, read the latest bestsellers, eat gourmet ice cream. In exchange for all that sumptuous living, I show up for my check ups, AP injection, PET scan, almost every day. Sometimes, up to four or five hours a day. Other days, it's just a blood draw or something simple. I forget the last time I had a whole day to myself without having to go to the clinic or hospital. Whatever. It's worth it.

Being seizure-free is fucking great. I'm loving it. I don't have to worry about having a spill, that's what I call them, in the middle of the mall, or wherever. One time, I was picking up some dry cleaning and fell to the floor doubled up, making these weird moaning sounds. The Korean woman behind the counter screams, eyes bulging. She called 911. By the time the EMTs got there it had passed. I was sitting against the giant plate glass window sipping Oolong and explaining to the Korean woman what had happened. She said, with a silly laugh, that in the old country (she's a transplant) an attack like that might be taken as a sign of demonic possession. Sheesh. How 'old country' can you get.

One seizure was so bad. One of my incisors got stuck on the inside the lower teeth and, when my jaw snapped to the side, the tooth was knocked right out. Okay, I was a kid and it was a loose baby tooth, but still. It hurt. I was at school at the time and the other kids thought it was cool. 'Chloe, that was so cool!', they'd say. I even earned cred with the boys. Not bad. They quit making fun of me for a while.

So. A couple months went by. After the surgery, I mean. Not one episode. The docs are talking 'preliminary success'. They're happy. Can't blame them. If this works they'll be famous. Millions would benefit. It would be a landmark event. Look good on the resume. I guess I'd be happy, too.

Anyway, one night I load up the new 'Alien' blu-ray box set. Anthology... Watch the first few minutes to see how much better the picture is. Wow. What a difference. Didn't know movies could look that good. And, the sound. So clear. Makes the movie much creepier. Didn't know sound could do that. I pause it and go to the fridge. No ice cream. Could. Not. Believe. It. I was out for a couple hours getting stocked up for tonight. That's a bad thing. You're not supposed to be out of 'the subject's assigned living quarters' for that long. In case they need to reach you, don't you know. Going out of town? Forget it. It's all in the stack of stuff you have to sign before you can take part in get the picture.

I had gone to the bookstore for the latest translated Euro murder thriller. I love those. I stopped for a three-dollar latte and some people watching. (Anything to avoid going back to the apartment). Then, I swung over to the electronics store for a flash drive and the 'Alien' Anthology. Then, the grocery store for some frozen dinners (yes, I do those). Figured I had everything you need for several hours of horror movie watching. Forgot the damn ice cream. Have a frozen pizza, you say. Don't want one. Want sugar.

Back to the grocery store. Jump back in the university's car (with the dorky U logo on the side). I'm in the ice cream aisle. Butter pecan or peach? Which is right for the monster-growing-inside-you genre? I grab butter pecan and head for the check out. Then, I see her. This lady, maybe sixty, a little stooped, silver curls, but sharp eyes. I look at her as she examines an apple. When she glances at me, she smiles. I smile too, but it fades when I see the spot of light in the middle of her forehead. The tiniest red dot. I mean, it's teeny, but it glows really strong. A deep, brilliant red. She goes back to her apples. I'm still looking back at her, and almost run into a stack of bananas. Did I? No. No way. Girl, go home and watch horror movies -- you're in the mood for it. Seeing things.

It's late. There's nobody in line. I set my purchase on the belt, get my card (well, the university's card). 'How you doing?' the girl says.

I swipe my card, 'Fine, thanks.'

'Four fifty. You want a bag?'

I punch the PIN number. 'No,' I say, looking at her for the first time. There it was. Right between her eyes. A teeny tiny red dot. Glowing, with sort of a fog around it. Until she looks at me. The fog disappears and the light becomes pure, bright, shining right into my eyes, first the left, then the right.

'You said you didn't need a bag, right?' she says.

I'm slack-jawed. 'No...yes, I said that.'

She glances at the ice cream sitting there in front of me. 'Did you want something else?'

I pick it up. The cold brings me back to reality. 'Sorry,' I manage. 'Tired.'

She grins. 'That's okay. I get that way.' The light grows brighter with her emotion, hitting my eyes in quick succession. Left, right, left, right. Then, it settles, seeming to shine into the middle of my own forehead. 'Have a good night.'

'You too,' I say out of reflex, and leave.

Part II

The next chapter will be posted soon.

'Suing the Devil' Poster

Okay, I love this poster. IMDb says:

A down-and-out law student sues Satan for $8 trillion dollars. Satan appears to defend himself and the trial of the century takes place.

Kinda hokey premise, but who knows. With Malcolm McDowell, Corbin Bernsen, stay with me, and Tom Sizemore.

Like I said, love the poster. Will wait to see about the rest.

'The Illusionist'

From a review by Scott Tobias:

Adapted from an old Tati script, Sylvain Chomet's wistful animated film The Illusionist works carefully — too carefully, in the end — to bottle Hulot's spirit like a bittersweet elixir. Some of its nostalgia and all of its beautiful, hand-crafted images will be familiar to fans of Chomet's first feature, the eccentric Jazz Era homage The Triplets of Belleville, but in most other respects it's a striking departure. Where Belleville feverishly evoked '30s Betty Boop and Popeye cartoons, along with showstoppers like Django Reinhardt and Josephine Baker, The Illusionist mourns for an entertainer's gradual passing into obscurity and obsolescence. Its delicate humor is vastly eclipsed by a bone-deep sadness.

The Black List

NPR on 'The Black List' of best unproduced screenplays:

RAZ: Let's talk about some of the films that made the list this year, and I want to start by asking about this one. This is my personal favorite. Do we need to bleep this out? We'll call it "Romancing Jane Austen." It's really the F-word there, instead of the R-word that I just used.

This seems like a Bill & Ted's-style adventure of two guys who go back in time, and they have to convince Jane Austen to have relations with one of them. Can you tell me the story?

Mr. LEONARD: It's the story of several young men, frustrated by the unreasonable expectations that Jane Austen's novels have created in modern romance, find themselves back in time, and the only way to return to their modern day is by seducing Jane Austen.

NPR audio 5:08

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Dead Friend's House

Here's a short story. I'm sure it'll become a Christmas classic.

My Dead Friend's House
written by Alan Green

It's a haunted house. Or, rather, it looks like a haunted house. Like an illustration out of a kid's storybook. Two stories, white, with white curtains. White on white. Weird. In fact, the sky behind the house is white, as well. There's no grass -- it's covered by something white. Not snow, though. Just whiteness.

It has half-round tiles of wood that trim the eaves. The windows are arched. The door is like one you'd expect to see on a castle. The shutters are very thick. Eerie. I wouldn't want to live there. Wouldn't want to live next door.

Speaking of next door, there are no neighbors, no sidewalk, driveway, mailbox, fence, yard, bushes or trees. There isn't a road that passes. No address.

There's no sound. No Planes, cars, birds. Not even the wind.

It's my friend's house. Jimmy. He's been dead for twenty or thirty years. I don't know how long. I haven't seen him since a few years after high school. That's where we met.

Back in school Jimmy was always lazy. Unreal lazy. He would call and ask what the homework assignment was almost every night. He really didn't want the assignment, he wanted the answers, the work related to the assignment. I'd help him out most times. At first, that is. Then I told him he'd have to do his own work.

Jimmy had a lot of problems, but I'm not sure how they made him the way he was. Everybody has problems at that age. Right? In high school? You deal with them. Most people ignore them, brood about it decades later. See a shrink. But, Jimmy, he seemed to do a slow crumble under their weight. For instance he had zits. His zits had zits. You could hardly keep a straight face when you looked at him. You would either wince or look away. One or the other -- sometimes both. You had no choice. It was that bad. Never seen another person with such bad pepperoni face. Sometimes, one of them would crack open, leak. A milky liquid would trickle down his face. I was surprised he couldn't feel it. I'd sort of point to my face to give him a hint, and he'd dab the goo up with a tissue or run the back of his hand over it.

It bothered him. He got emotional about it. His voice trembled and strained when he asked me this one time, "Do you know what it's like to have zits with whiteheads!?" Still, most kids had acne. Some had it bad. They didn't turn out like Jimmy. He made such a big deal out of it.

Maybe that's not fair. It wasn't just the zits. His dad died when he was a kid. Liver disease from drinking. Jimmy never knew him. Yeah...that's sad, but, again, lots of people have stuff like that happen to them. Doesn't wreck most of them. Jimmy was a wreck.

He just cashed in as a kid. Did nothing. Lazy beyond belief. I swear, given a choice between being burned alive and mowing the lawn he'd choose being burned. His mother mowed the lawn while he sat in that chair in the living room reading. His mother took out the garbage while he stared at TV and sipped sweet iced tea. His mother cooked. He'd eat. 'Pass the flavor,' he'd say, meaning the salt. After dinner he'd plop down in the chair while she washed up. She even did his laundry.

He wasn't despondent, like mental. Just adrift. Not interested in doing anything, or becoming anything. Never connected. When we'd watch TV he would force a hollow laugh when I chuckled or when the show's laugh-track cued him. He didn't get the jokes, didn't care. Sometimes, his laugh was so fake I'd have to glance over to see if he was being sarcastic, you know, commenting on how dumb the joke was. He'd have this big fake smile, eyes glued to the set, forcing laugh after laugh. He wasn't being sarcastic. That was just his best approximation of laughter. An imitation. The best he could muster. I guess he based it on something he had seen in a movie. Nobody in that house ever laughed for real.

I'd come over at night and we'd shoot the shit and smoke. A lot of times he'd burn a joint and get stupid. We couldn't talk if he smoked pot. When he did I'd just leave. There wasn't a reason to stay. He started smoking weed more and more often. After a while he'd take a couple hits off a joint between every cigarette. Was always buzzed. Stupid and buzzed. I'd talk about some movie I'd seen and all he could do was laugh because he couldn't think of anything to say. It wasn't shooting the shit anymore, it was just sitting there listening to Jimmy laugh nervously. I quit going over except on the weekends. We'd play poker until his mom went to bed then he'd want to go outside. I knew he'd be buzzed within a few minutes so I'd just go home. He'd wave bye and sit in the backyard and get fried by himself. Sit out there until first light then go to bed, sleep till five or six in the afternoon, get up, have dinner, do it all over again.

He got his GED when I was in my senior year. That made his mom happy. She thought, and I did too, that it meant he would finally go out and get a job, do something. But, all he did was take advantage of not having to go to school everyday. He'd wake up around five, sit in that chair for hours reading or watching TV, sipping iced tea with lots of sugar and smoking cigarettes. All night.

His mom would come home from work and there he'd be in that chair. When she asked what he'd done the answer was always, "Nothing." After a year or two she stopped asking. He stopped looking up from his novel or the TV when she came in.

While I knew him he never had a job, never drew a paycheck, never paid taxes. Hell, he never, not one time went on a date. Just sat in that chair.

After a few years I left town. Moved to New York, continued school when I could, waited tables and did odd jobs, dated around, had as much fun as I could, settled down after a while. Jimmy stayed. Stayed in that chair, I imagine. Over the years I thought of calling him but didn't have a clue what we'd talk about. I couldn't stand the idea of him being unable to come up with trivial small talk. Me listening to long pauses, then saying bye and hanging up. So, I didn't bother. Then, I stopped thinking of calling. We had officially lost touch.

One day, just a few weeks ago, I knew he was dead. Nobody told me. Don't know how I knew. But, I did. He took pills he had gotten from a small-time dealer. Sat in that chair all day popping them one at a time until he was real woozy then chased a handful with a couple tall beers, smoked a joint, and passed out. When she came home his mother thought he was asleep and made dinner. She didn't find out he was dead until the table was set and he didn't make a beeline for food. She knew something was wrong then. He didn't leave a note or anything.

Maybe I felt guilty for not calling. I'm not sure. But, I knew I should talk to Jimmy one last time. So, I decided to pay a visit. I go up to the white on white house. The door was unlocked so I walked in and closed it behind me.

There were fine hardwood floors. The dark grain had a swirl pattern that seemed to move if you looked at it long enough. There were stairs, but they led into blackness that hung like fog. A dark red carpet with an intricate pattern running the length of the entry hall. The pattern would wiggle and squirm after a few seconds. The hall led to a single very large room. There was Jimmy. Sitting in the same chair from his mom's house -- a beat up pea-green lounger. Ugly.

"Hi," he said.

"Hey man," I said. He hadn't changed at all. Was the same as in high school.

"How's it going?" "Not bad." He lights a cigarette. The same brand he smoked when he was alive.

There were no pictures on the walls. The thick curtains kept the light out, but there was plenty light to see by. Where it came from I don't know -- there were no lamps or light fixtures. "Nice place," I said.

He looked around, shrugged. "It's alright. I guess."

There was a large lump under the carpet. "What's that," I asked.

"My dog," he said. The lump moved and there was a sad strange whimpering.

"What's its name?"

"I don't know," Jimmy said. "I've never seen him. Don't know where he, or she, I guess, came from. He stays under the carpet," he said. "Never comes out. I never pet him, feed him. At least, he doesn't shed or poop."

"How do you know it's a dog?"

"Just assume. Be scary if it was something else."

It was a funny joke. We laughed. It was the first, and only, show of any emotion worth mentioning.

Lined up next to the wall were cans of paint. From the labels you could tell it was yellow. Dozens of cans, stacked up, forming a wall.

"What are those?" I ask.

"Cans of paint. Yellow paint," Jimmy says.

"Well. I can see that. What are they doing there?"

"I think I'm supposed to paint the walls, or something."

"Why don't you?"


Now that he's dead, he's still lazy. "How you doing," I ask.

"Okay. I said that, didn't I?"

"No. I mean..." I didn't know what I meant. "How long you been here?"

"Feels like a hundred years. Fuck. A thousand." He snubs the butt in an overflowing ashtray and lights another.

"You just sit here all day?"

"Yep," he says blowing a huge plume of smoke, staring into the distance. He knew it was a shitty answer. It was on his face.

I just stood there. We had reached that point. There was nothing else to say. This, this silence, this was why I had never called. I felt like telling him that but it seemed irrelevant. Hell, it was about as irrelevant as it could get. So, I stood there. There was a thud from upstairs. "What was that?"

"Don't know."

"You never went up there to see?"

"Nope," exhaling smoke. "I think it's a woman."

"Yeah? What makes you think that?"

He shrugs. Snubs out the butt. "You want one?" He holds out the pack. Could I take a cigarette from a dead guy?

"I quit. Thanks." He nods, lights another. "Why'd you kill yourself," I asked.

He becomes thoughtful. The smirk fades. "You know. I don't know," he says. "I've thought about it. That's all I do, really. Can't come up with anything. Was tired of my life, I guess."

Okay. Fine. That's as good an answer as you could expect. Right? I look at the cans of paint. Put two and two together. The guy was lazy when he was alive. His job, his mission if you will, was to paint the walls. To do some work. "Dude. Jimmy. I think your job here is to paint the walls."

"Yeah. I know."

"No. I mean, I don't think you can leave until you paint the walls."

"Yeah. Probably."

"You don't like it here, do you?"

"Not really. Creeps me out. That thing under the carpet. The lady, or whatever it is, upstairs."

"Yeah. Well..."

He is still staring at the wall. He hadn't looked at me for some time. "I know," he says. I stand there a couple minutes. In silence. We both know I have to go. Visiting time is over. I just want to be polite. "Well. I better get back," I say.

He looks at me. There was such a sincere look of gratitude. "Thanks for coming."

"No problem. It was good to see you. You were a good friend."

"So were you," he says.

"See you," I say, stepping backward.

"Take care," he says, saluting with his lit cigarette and smirking like a character, maybe a fighter pilot, in a movie.

I left.

Jimmy is probably still there in that house. He'll probably be there a long time. I'll probably live and die a thousand times before he paints those walls yellow.

A Short Story by Charles Portis

The Atlantic is running a short story by Charles Portis, author of the 1968 novel True Grit.

It's called Combinations of Jacksons. Here's the beginning:

I MADE MY first experiments in breathing underwater at the age of nine, in 1943. It was something I needed to learn in life so as to be ready to give my pursuing enemies the slip. At that time they were Nazi spies and Japanese saboteurs.

The trick looked simple enough in the movie serials, which pulled me along from one Saturday to the next with such chapter titles as "Fangs of Doom!" and "In the Scorpion's Lair!" First you cut a reed. You put one end of the reed in your mouth and lay face up, very still, on the bottom of a shallow stream. The other end was projected above the surface of the stream, and through this hollow shaft, as you lay buried alive in water, you breathed.

Agents of the Axis Powers were never far behind me. I could slow them a little with pinecone grenades, but I couldn't stop them. They came crashing through the woods firing their Lugers at me as I raced barefooted for the reed beds of Beech Creek, a last hope. If I could get there in time to make my arrangements, then the agents in their stupid fury would overlook the life-giving reed, one among so many, and, with their boots splashing down eight inches away from my rigid underwater body, go stupidly on their way downstream.

'True Grit' Now and Then

Bob Mondello compares 'True Grit', now and then:

This being Big Sky Country, in between meals, the camera would pull back so he could ride his horse down a hillside and they could cut away before the poor beast had to drag him up the next one. Director Henry Hathaway was such an old hand at Westerns that he didn't seem to be trying very hard with this one, mostly just setting up his cameras and letting the stars entertain -Kim Darby, perky as Mattie; Wayne, gruff and folksy, an old hand behind his eye patch; Campbell trying gamely not to trip.

Truth be told, there wasn't much actual acting going on until Robert Duvall and Dennis Hopper showed up around midpoint as bad guys.

The Coen brothers' "True Grit" is grittier, as you'll expect if you saw their serial killer Western, "No Country for Old Men." It's also splendidly acted and takes full advantage of every breathtaking vista it comes across, a grand epic made quirky and intimate by the dialogue, some of which is lifted almost verbatim from the Charles Portis novel. Jeff Bridges wears the eye patch this time, gargling Rooster's lines...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What Makes it Truly Gritty?

David Edelstein reviews 'True Grit':

Joel and Ethan Coen are probably tired of the question, but you can't not ask it: Why make a film of Charles Portis' 1968 novel True Grit when it already was a movie — a good one — with a definitive, Oscar-winning performance by John Wayne as one-eyed U.S. Marshal Reuben "Rooster" Cogburn? After all, it's not like the brothers need the work.

On the basis of the new film, I'd say the Coens made their own True Grit because their voice and sensibility owe something to Portis. Their dialogue, like his, is a blend of the baroque and the deadpan, their vision nihilistic with a hint of farce.

The quality of direction is apparent even in the still. It's there.

Edelstein's write up has some good insight. Worth a read.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

'Waiting for Forever' Trailer

'Me and Tennessee'

Gwyneth Paltrow and Tim McGraw sing us a song from 'Country Strong'.

Green Hornet Primer

Here's a little featurette that sets things straight.

Charlie Rose

A look at the film 'The Fighter' with director David O. Russell and actors Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale, and, 'Blue Valentine' with director Derek Cianfrance and actors Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams

'I Just Had Sex'

I did. Really.


Good trailer.

HBO Presents Funny or Die Presents

Funny or Die is moving to HBO. There's a lesson. What started as an online venture moves to mainstream entertainment. The new model, I think.

'Your Highness' Trailer

So dumb. So funny.

Trailer for 'Hanna'

Cate Blanchett affixing a silencer... Can't beat it.

Friday, December 17, 2010

'Exit Humanity' Mock Up Poster

Here's a mock-up poster for 'Exit Humanity'. Love the title. Graphic has a certain, oh, temerity that you gotta like.

From IMDb:

A young man's struggle to survive in the aftermath of a deadly undead outbreak during the American Civil War.

Okay. Waiting.

'How do you Know' Review

Here's Scott Tobias on 'How do you Know':
The unfortunate title of James L. Brooks' latest comedy-drama, How Do You Know, is worse than nondescript—it's apt. It's like Speed in that respect: an accurate suggestion of the experience of watching it. The title lacks punctuation, but if it had any, there would be ellipses before the question mark, so audiences can fill in the rest as they see fit.

'Paul' Poster

'I Love You Phillip Morris' Review

I love this from Melissa Anderson's review of 'I Love You Phillip Morris' at Seattle Weekly:

It's taken almost two years for the bonkers, exhilarating same-sex romantic comedy I Love You Phillip Morris to finally reach theaters. Premiering at Sundance in January 2009, the movie was a near-casualty of nervous-nellie U.S. distributors—more comfortable with innocuous gay genres like the homosexual weepie or the martyr biopic—and countless release delays. In the interim, we've bided our time with such high-profile, big-screen depictions of man/man love as Brüno pantomiming oral on the ghost of Rob Pilatus and Colin Firth's suicidal fusspot furtively nuzzling Matthew Goode in a Single Man flashback. Save it, Mary: Nothing tops ILYPM's Jim Carrey as a top, sweatily, giddily ass-plowing a mustached muscle-daddy in the most gloriously raunchy, unrepentant moment in the an(n)als of Hollywood A-listers doing gay-for-pay.

There's some nice insight regarding Jim Carrey's career. Worth a read.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Filmography 2010

270 movies in about 6 minutes. From Genrocks. Video has over 1.5 million views on YouTube alone.

Nice job.

'Limitless' Trailer

I'm seeing this drawing not too many people. Still, will see. Is there a lab rat named Algernon in this?

Ryan Gosling on 'Blue Valentine'

Fresh Air with Ryan Gosling about 'Blue Valentiine':

"Most movies, you have to try and forget you're making a movie, because there are trailers and booms and lights and marks, and it's everywhere," he says. "And with this, you're trying to remember that it is a movie, because it's so easy to get lost in it."

NPR audio 31:56

Ryan Gosling on 'Blue Valentine'

Fresh Air with Ryan Gosling about 'Blue Valentiine':

"Most movies, you have to try and forget you're making a movie, because there are trailers and booms and lights and marks, and it's everywhere," he says. "And with this, you're trying to remember that it is a movie, because it's so easy to get lost in it."

NPR audio 31:56

'Take Me Home Tonight' Poster

Ouch. Perhaps those colors could be a bit hotter. Remember the 80s? Here's a trailer.

"Strictly for Adult Audience"

Poster for 'The Alien Girl'. If there's any doubt this is 'Strictly for Adult Audience' check out the (red band) trailer.

Ultra violent, but not in the glossy romanticized Hollywood way. Direct and instant, without the carefully crafted old west shootout banter. Much more as it happens in life. If thugs had multiple takes, I suppose a hit might come off more 'Goodfellas', but not so much in reality.

Liking this movie a lot so far.

Why Can't Every Day Be Christmas?

Great. Funny or Die short with Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly

'Alien Girl' (Red Band)

Not exactly 'Hollywood' violence. Love this so far.

'Rango' Trailer

Trailer for 'The Strange Case of Angelica'

'Fast Five'

Actually looks pretty good. Also looks very bad. Audaciously bad.

120,000 embeds from TrailerAddict -- people care.

"Life is the Most Spectacular Show on Earth"

Trailer for 'Water for Elephants'.

'Take Me Home Tonight' Trailer

Trailer for 'The Tree of Life'

Transcends 'must-see' status. Must experience.

How many times do you say something like that.

'The Day'

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

'The Tree of Life' Poster

One of the rare images that stopped me in my tracks. Very good still photography -- not a common quality in movie posters.

A 28 Year Old Dead Fish?

'Tron Legacy' is taking a beating at the hands of critics. At NPR, Mark Jenkins goes with 'Tron': Back, But It's Hardly By Popular Demand for the title of his write up. His lede? That would be:

In Scandinavian countries, it was once common to bury a fish until it rotted, then dig it up and eat it.

Most Americans would say they'd never do anything so unhygienic. But the Walt Disney Co., possessed of an overstuffed pop-culture pantry, has done something almost as gamy: It's excavated a 28-year-old flop, Tron, and is offering it as a Christmastime delicacy.

A New Kidman?

From USA Today:

"I now have a whole different set of experiences and emotions I'm willing to mine," says Kidman, 43. "At times, I don't want to work, which is what a lot of my choices have been recently, or I want to do one week in something. But with Rabbit Hole, I knew I needed to do this artistically."

Falls in line with what I've seen in trailers. Kidman just seems like a different person in 'Rabbit Hole'. Maybe warmer, a bit. More there, real. She has always seemed so, oh, once removed? from the character. Very strong acting in a mechanical sense, to be sure, but distanced emotionally. Her screen presence has often been called 'regal', which may have been a euphemism to describe the effect of a careful technique.

'Rabbit Hole' seems to reverse this. I've mentioned it before. It's hard not to come to the conclusion a marriage and baby have changed her (which Kidman herself claims), and it seems apparent to me. We'll see.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Impossible Pursuits and The Other Woman

I hear 'Love & Other Impossible Pursuits' (retitled 'The Other Woman') with Natalie Portman, though wrapped in 2009, is getting a release from IFC Films in February 2011.

Directed by Don Roos, I'm betting on a deeply character-driven flick with gobs of talky scenes. Since Roos also wrote the script (based on the novel by Ayelet Waldman) I'm betting on dialogue that's so finely wrought, thick with subtext, and laced with thematic tones it will take a few viewings to fully comprehend and/or appreciate (depending on your perspective).

So, let's look at the poster and hope for the best.

New Poster for 'Rango'

Clearly, the chameleon feels a connection with the wind-up fish.


Monday, December 13, 2010

A Few Images From 'Black Swan'

Natalie Portman in 'Black Swan'.

DVD Decline

Cnet with the latest on declining DVD action:

Physical disc sales, which includes both DVDs and Blu-ray discs, are expected to decline by $4.6 billion between 2009 and 2014, In-Stat said today. Over that period, DVD sales are expected to plummet. At the same time, Blu-ray sales are expected to climb--but not enough to make up for the decline in DVDs.

In place of physical discs, streaming content and digital downloads are quickly gaining steam. In-Stat said that the video-download and streaming revenue is expected to grow from the $2.3 billion it generates now to $6.3 billion "within five years."

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Sounds of Star Wars

NPR on 'The Sound of Star Wars':

"I was a projectionist at that time at USC cinema, and there was a motor in the projection booth that had a humming sound when it just sat there idling. It had a very musical sound, a nice tone, almost a hypnotic tone. And I thought immediately that would be a good element for the lightsaber, so I recorded that motor. And a few weeks later I had an accident with a broken microphone cable, and the microphone picked up the hum from a nearby television. [It] had kind of a scintillating, angry buzz. Normally you throw that away, thinking it was a mistake, but I saved that picture-tube buzz, and I combined it with the sound of the projection motor, and the two sounds together became the basis for the sputtering hum of the light sabers."

'Lost Dream'

Intriguing poster.

Friday, December 10, 2010

'True Grit' Clips

Some sharp dialogue. Looks better all the time.

'The RiTe' InTernaTional Trailer

They're Taking This very seriously. Nicely crafTed. Hope iT's good. I'll make popcorn, you open The Champagne.

'Kill the Irishman' Trailer

Love it. Poster and a little background.

'True Grit' B-Roll

Is That Safe?

Here's a still from 'Tron: Legacy'. I don't think it's safe to ride a light cycle with one hand off the bars like that.

'Black Swan'

Tom Carson at GQ reviews 'Black Swan':

Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan is the Rorschach-blot movie of the year.

For those of us who love the damn thing, watching Aronofsky's uptight heroine lose her marbles under the strain of preparing to wow New York's tux mob in Swan Lake is definitely an experience. We just can't agree on what kind, since the two very different movies that fans come out raving about—the wrenching one that exalts Portman's Nina and the sensational black comedy that's all wised up about her hysteria's provocations—are both on the screen. So is a lot of kink, given that one bright way our gal acts out her derangement is to either have or imagine having frantic, druggy sex with smokin' Mila Kunis, who plays an uninhibited fellow dancer representing everything she's not. If you prurient bastards think that's the only scene that'll rivet you, though, you don't know Aronofsky: He's got kinks in places where most people don't even have opinions.

The perverse brilliance of Black Swan's twist on the florid romanticism of traditional Capezio epics isn't just Aronofsky's equation of talent with psychosis. It's in the dawning recognition that he digs ballet for the spectacle at about the level Hitchcock was interested in what Norman Bates's mother was really like.

The movie is probably going to be de rigueur for fans of psych-thrillers. Nice illustration, nice writing. Worth a read.

Images from 'Real Steel'

I ran a trailer yesterday. Here's a few stills.

The Contenders

Jeanette Catsoulis looks at 'The Fighter':

The real fight in The Fighter isn't between "Irish" Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and his boxing-ring opponents, but between Micky and his half-brother Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale). More accurately, it's between Wahlberg's and Bale's performances, and the tussle for the heart of the movie proves more evenly matched than you might think.

In one corner is Wahlberg's slow, steady burn as a talented the other is Bale's operatic embodiment of a broken hero sustained by drugs and memories.

But there's another battle going on as well...David O. Russell's shamelessly entertaining movie offers a fascinating glimpse at the tension between form and artistic temperament.

As usual, nicely cut by Catsoulis.

Poster for 'Kill the Irishman'

'Kill the Irishman' with Val Kilmer, Christopher Walken, Vincent D'Onofrio, and Paul Sorvino. Bad title, nice cast.

Based on the life of Danny Greene who, according to Wikipedia:

In his adulthood, Daniel stood at 5'10" with curly blond hair and handsome looks, although he was extremely self conscious about his personal appearance. He was heavily involved in personal physical fitness lifting weights and jogging, and as he grew older he quit smoking and drinking, underwent hair prosthesis, and disciplined himself further by going on a rigid diet of fish, vegetables and vitamin supplements. Often when at a restaurant, he would only order a hot cup of water, supplying his own tea bag. In spite of this, he would often leave a generous tip. Greene was a devoted animal lover and owned two pet cats. He had a habit of putting out food for the birds and squirrels.


When a rowdy group of Hells Angels moved into Collinwood, Greene visited their headquarters with a stick of dynamite. He threatened to light it and throw it into their club house until they came out to receive a warning to keep things quiet when in Collinwood.


According to the book To Kill The Irishman by Rick Porrello, Greene personally assassinated at least eight of the Mafia hit men sent to kill him. Most of these killings were either through the use of bombs or bullets.

As the poster tag says: The man the mob couldn't kill. You got to admire a man of conviction. Nice subject. Hope the movie is good.

The Skinny on Christian Bale

Just who is that guy with Mark Wahlberg? Christian Bale can get really skinny role to role. I was shocked and a bit worried by his appearance in 'The Machinist' -- expected the guy to keel over any second. Same for 'Rescue Dawn', which I mentioned back in 07.

In 'The Fighter' he plays a person who enjoys smoking crack and, as is usual for aficionados of the drug, is quite thin. Well, emaciated is probably the more correct description for the particular look Bale has here. Compare his countenance (in picture above, Bale is the guy on the left) from 'The Dark Knight':

Barely recognizable as the same guy. At The Atlantic, Benjamin Mercer takes a look at Bale's many looks and his role in 'The Fighter':

The gritty-inspirational sports bio The Fighter opens in limited release today, hoping to get some fans in its corner before it expands to theaters nationwide on the 17th. The film, directed by David O. Russell (Three Kings), has long been a passion project for its star, Mark Wahlberg, but most of the advance buzz centers on supporting turns by Melissa Leo and Christian Bale. It makes particular sense that Bale would earn a statue for playing Dickie Eklund, a former welterweight whose crack addiction has compromised his status as the Pride of Lowell, Massachusetts.

Bale pulled off the most alarming physical transformation of his career, a feature-length exposed-rib demonstration, for 2004's The Machinist

Thursday, December 09, 2010

'Meet Buck'

Meet Buck from TeamCerf on Vimeo.

Nicely directed short animation.

'Real Steel' Trailer

Looks so much better than that first still.

'Season of the Witch' Clip

IMDb has a clip from 'Season of the Witch'.

'Cowboys & Aliens' International Poster

This says it all. Like the juxtaposition of revolver (with hammer cocked, a rare thing) and blue-light ray beam wrist gun.

Title graphics are better than before. Keeping protagonist silhouette is a cool element that would probably not have a place in a US one sheet. Beats the first poster to pieces.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

'Seres: Genesis' Trailer

'The Tempest' Clip

Here's Helen Mirren. Nice stuff but the CGI barely keeps up.

'Rio' Trailer


Some Really Good Actors Create Some Really Standard Character Types

Javier Bardem, James Franco, Natalie Portman, Jesse Eisenberg, Chloe Moretz, Matt Damon, Michael Douglas, Jennifer Lawrence, Noomi Rapace, Vincent Cassell, Anthony Mackie, Robert Duvall, Lesley Manville and Tilda Swinton recreate 14 classic character types in some very nicely done videos for NYT. (hat tip Anne Thompson)

Reminds me why I like (good) acting. Fun.

Netflix Signs with Disney-ABC

Cnet on the Netflix Disney-ABC deal. Here's the press release.

Blog Archive