24 December 2005

film kitchen

Just a preliminary heads-up. Reclaiming Our Past, the 2005 edition, will be appearing as part of City Paper's Film Kitchen series on 14 February 2006, just in time for Black History Month (err...actually a bit early). More info to follow.

26 October 2005

the 100 films project

it's not really a d press project, but it's sort of applicable, so i'll post the link here. a couple of us are in the process of watching the 100 All-Time Great Films list that Time published a little while ago. There are reviews of the films as i watch them on my blog and there will probably be more written about the project as we get further along. enjoy.

14 September 2005

coffee stains

ok, so if anyone has any great ideas for the 'coffee stains' re-write, now's the time to voice them. i've started outlining it today. so far, so good.

08 July 2005

the film on suffering

ok, time to get the brainstorming in full gear.

i've gotta do a 10 minute film on the broad theme of suffering, and while it might be interesting to make a narrative film about a guy who gets dumped, i really don't want to and i'm pretty sure no one wants to see that.

so here's what i'm thinking: something completely unscripted w/ no actors of any kind but not technically a documentary. i've been kicking around the idea of a film that feels like an episode of 'this american life' or a similar npr-ish program about how poverty affects people in the richest country in the world (i.e. this one), and not so much homeless people or crack whores or whatever, but people who are fighting windmills trying to keep their heads above water. the types that are working 3 jobs to feed their kids, but i don't want this to feel like preaching at all. i may actually shoot on black and white digital 8 to give it a really grainy feel and i'd kinda like it to feel like a film version of found art w/ all sorts of different stuff weaved together to form some sort of cohesive thread.


24 June 2005


KDKA is showing a piece on the civil rights tour, including footage from yours truly, this Sunday at 11am. don't miss it. or, if you do, tape it.

11 June 2005

the tour: to the best of my memory

NOTE: What follows is a back-dated daily account of the 2005 civil rights tour, a tour I've been on the last 2 years. The purpose of this is to give people a sense of what the tour entails, as well as some insight as to the mindset behind being a one-man crew hundreds of miles from the rest of your equipment. I'm essentially on board to document the trip on film. No promises on the quality of writing. You can read newspaper accounts of the trip here

The buses--2 of them this year--leave Beaver Falls, PA at 5.30am on this Saturday morning. Because this is normally when I go to bed, the early morning doesn't bother me all that much, and I've got too much caffeine in my system to notice anyway. It's an odd tradition for this trip that I have to skip something important the day we leave, and this year is no different. Levi and Frankie's wedding is later today, but I'll have to console myself with the $25 I won playing poker during the bachelor party.
Anyway, the buses roll and several hours later we're in Greensboro, NC, standing in front of the Woolworths where 4 college students desegregated the lunch counter. Then it's across town to talk to some people who's names I don't remember off-hand as they talk about racial reconciliation in Greensboro and there's some haunting clips of a peaceful march in the 70's that ended in violence when the Klan showed up.
The main speaker is supposed to be wearing a lapel mic, but he's holding it, then he's twirling it around. I have to switch over to the wild mic and watch him out of my one eye as I'm filming, terrified as to what sort of damage he's doing. When he's done, the mic is still in one piece and we head to our first hotel, in Greenville, SC. Normally in Greenville I get a chance to hang out with my friend Matt from back home, but sadly he's away for the weekend. Oh well.

Pat & Cliff
Cliff, Pat, and others view the site of the old Woolworths

The Woolworths facade. They are in the process of turning this site into an interactive museum

09 June 2005

civil rights tour

the civil rights tour starts again on sat morning and matt's had an interesting idea to blog the trip every day, but i can't think of a convenient way to do that. besides all my video equipment, all i'll have access to is my phone. anyone have any thoughts?

03 June 2005

KDKA shows "Reclaiming"

On today's morning show, our good friend Todd Allen was on promoting the civil rights bus tour, and he tells me they showed clips or something of the "Reclaiming Our Past" video. I didn't see it, since it was in the morning, but i'm wondering if anyone else happened to catch it.

20 May 2005

a film about suffering (won't that be fun)

first of all, this was not actually my idea (that is, to do a film about suffering), as much as it may seem like it would be. anyway, joanna lowe has asked myself and 2 other filmmakers to make 10-20 minute short films that deal w/ the theme of suffering to be shown before her play 'Life. And Other One-Man Shows' that i'm told opens in Oct. i want to avoid a situation where everyone does the same type of film, so i'm thinking of working w/ mixed medias (i.e. photos and archival footage) and using real people instead of actors (or a script). so far i've come up w/ 2 potential ideas:

1. filming people society has failed, be it homeless or alcoholic or whatever and construct an image of suffering in modern-day America. Potential problems: clearances and chances of getting mugged.

2. taking my camera to Maine w/ me this summer when i go for my best Maine friend's wedding and sort of exploring how everything i know from my childhood is pretty much gone or changed beyond recognition.


19 May 2005

A Review

From the City Paper review:

"'On a Building Mid-Afternoon Somewhere in the World,' by Lucas McNelly, is almost as long as its title. A man stands on a ledge ready to jump to his death, and an optimistic onlooker tries to talk him out of it while a cynical onlooker tries to get him to jump. You’ve seen it several times before, but wisely, McNelly keeps it short."

To paraphrase Woody Allen, if you believe the good ones, you have to believe the bad ones, but what do you do about the ones that are sort of indifferent and maybe weren't paying attention? Anyway, the full review can be found at www.pghcitypaper.com

12 May 2005

Stop It! opens today

Featuring Lucas McNelly's 'on a building mid-afternoon somewhere in the world' and Joanna Lowe's 'Subtext on a Sunday', 'Stop It!' tickets are on sale now. go to www.blankspacearts.org for more info.

you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll support the arts. (no, really, you will. all three in fact)

09 May 2005

a Lowe's premiere

Tonite, 7ish, our good friend Rue Snider over at Ambulance Films will be screening 4 of his short films at Lowe Cineplex in the Waterfront (Pittsburgh). It costs $5.50 to get in, although it may be sold out, i'm not sure. of course, if you can't get in, you can always head over to Bar Louie across the street for the shindig afterward.

08 May 2005

Stop It! opening soon...

"Stop It!", of course, includes the world premiere of Lucas' original one-act, "on a building mid-afternoon somewhere in the world", partially developed on this very webpage. so go see it.

from the Blankspace release:

Come join Blankspace Arts and STOP IT! , the second production in a
BLANKSPACE ARTS trilogy focusing on revolutionary social ideas.

STOP IT! is hosted by dynamic master of ceremonies A.C. Earing, and
begins with a movement piece, written by Heather Lynn McNeish and
choreographed by Lisa Laura Lucci. Joanna Lowe’s 10 minute play,
"Subtext on a Sunday", directed by Michelle LeWay Fischer, explores
self-censorship and is followed by 10 tenacious minutes of Lucas
McNelly’s politically charged play, "on a building mid-afternoon
somewhere in the world", directed by Daniel Stiker. The evening ends
with a full-length Pittsburgh premier, by New York playwright, Randy
Anderson. Last seen at the 2003 Edinbugh Festival Fringe, "The
Dwelling" is a poignant exploration of the search for meaning in what
has become one character’s reality.

Those involved in the production include: A.C. Earing, Mary Turak,
Lisa Laura Lucci, Lucas McNelly, Steve Vesolich, Joseph Martinez,
Regan Harris, Joanna Lowe, Heather Lynn McNeish, Michelle LeWay
Fischer, Kathy Bartholow, Ben Cook, Charles Schneider, and Daniel
Stiker. A host of local visual artists will show their work in the
/Long Gallery/ and the show will include original music by XARA. Pre
show events include music, short films, and poetry.
STOP IT runs May 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 26, 27, & 28. Gallery opens
at 7pm, pre-show entertainment at 7:30pm, show at 8pm. Performances
held at The Allegheny Playhouse, 887 Progress Street, Pittsburgh, PA
15212. Tickets $10. Reserve tickets by calling 412.973.6161 or on the
web at www.blankspacearts.org.

29 April 2005

a personal blog

i now have another one of these where i can post things more about me than d press. for anyone who's interested, it's available at the following address:

moments of melancholy

27 April 2005

Stop It!

If you click on the link to your right, the one that says "blankspace arts", you'll find the art for the flyer for Stop It, including the green-apple themed artwork and everything. The play, as you might have guessed, is now "on a building mid-afternoon somewhere in the world", mostly because that was the working title and now it's a bit late to change it. but it looks cool on the thing. the script is available in pdf format if anyone wants it.

19 April 2005

play name, etc.

as you read this, i'm probably finishing up the final draft of the play mentioned in the last couple of posts. i'll email anyone who wants one a pdf file of it (i can't figure out easily how to upload it), but i'm still not set on a name. So far it's been called "jumper", "view from the sidewalk", "the play i wrote in three days", and currently "on a building mid-afternoon somewhere in the world".

last chance, though, if anyone has a brilliant idea. or do we have some semblance of a consensus?

14 April 2005

the one act

since we're getting title suggestions, i thought it might be a bit helpful to let people know what the thing is actually about.

open on a guy on a ledge, threatening to jump for reasons unknown to us. on the sidewalk below are 2 people, one trying to convince him not to jump, one trying to convince him to take that leap into oblivion. they begin by trying to convince him (but minus the part where they actually try to figure out why he wants to jump), then they try to convince each other, then they start arguing with each other, and finally one of them gets upset and leaves. the other one, having in his mind won the argument, leaves, and our poor suicidal fellow is still on the ledge.

12 April 2005

Stop It!

for reasons i'd rather not get into here (although i will if you email me), "Stop It!" has evolved from a big play about censorship to a night of one-acts. I've been tapped to write one of them, tentatively titled "jumper" (that is, unless someone else can think of a better name). there will be more info when i have it

04 April 2005

File Under: Do Something Good with Your Day

Pittsburgh filmmaker Rue Snider will be screening 4 short films (including the one I'm in) at a benefit screening for Retinitis Pigmentosa and Usher Syndrome (two degenerative eye diseases) at the Lowes Theater at the Waterfront in Homestead on May 9. It's going to be $5 per person but all of the proceeds go to RP/Usher research.

So, if you can at all attend (I'm personally skipping out on a thing i'm supposed to do), go and support a) indie film in Pittsburgh, b) Rue (because he's cool), and 3) some eye disease (actually, you be supporting the cure for it, but whatever...)

30 March 2005

"The Real Inspector Hound"

Joanna Lowe's production of the Stoppard classic opens Friday at Open Stage Theatre in the Strip District. I don't have ticket info on me, but if you email me (lmcnelly@email.com) or call my cell (724.544.6417), I'd be happy to track it down for you. I am, as you may have heard, appearing in this thing, and have numerous bruises to prove it, should you require such proof. It would truly be a shame to sustain this many injuries for nothing, so be a good chap and show up.

27 March 2005

Happy Easter

that is, if you celebrate Easter. If not, well, it's raining here in Pittsburgh, so enjoy the rain.

21 March 2005


those of you in the Pittsburgh area might want to check out the theatre projects we're affiliated with over the next 2 months. Joanna Lowe's Cup-a-jo (i probably spelled that wrong) Productions will be showing Tom Stoppard's "The Real Inspector Hound" starring Everett Lowe, Bridget Carey, Greg Caridi, Joanna Lowe, some other people who's names I haven't yet learned, and yours truly. That runs, let me check, April 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, starting around 8ish, i think, at Open Stage in the Strip District.

The long-discussed, somewhat maligned, "Stop It!" (Blankspace Arts) is currently in development. It stars Steve Vesolich, Joanna Lowe, Joe Martinez, John Reoli, myself, Charlie Modro, and some other people. It's about, well, censorship kinda, but other than that I'm not really sure. Either way, it's a great opportunity to see me curse on stage and generally make a fool of myself. It runs at Alleghany (sp?) Playhouse May 11, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 26, 27, and 28. The Googlists in our midst will remember that it borrows from the works of Carlos Castaneda, who introduced the world to the shaman Don Juan, who may or may not have been a figment of Castaneda's imagination. Ticket info can be found, I'm sure, by clicking on the Blankspace Arts link on this page.


12 March 2005

off-topic essays

this has really nothing to do w/ d press, but i thought people might find it interesting. someone asked me to write an essay on this topic. what follows is the second draft. i also am not sure how to make a paragraph tab over, so i'll make a new line

“Jesus, etc.”
an essay by Lucas McNelly

I have this idea for a movie where Jesus Christ comes back, but instead of rapture and angelic voices and the four horses of the Apocalypse, he ends up somehow on the talk show circuit and by the end of the movie he's so fed up with the whole thing he goes back to Heaven, leaving us to fend for ourselves. The breaking point, if I remember correctly, is when Bill O'Reilly calls Him an anti-American liberal communist and Jerry Falwell suggests He may be gay.

In my movie idea, no one on the Religious Right finds this upsetting at all.

I'm reminded of this every time someone from my parents' church emails me an article from Fox News about how a cartoon character is gay or how liberal Hollywood is corrupting our youth or how the situation in Iraq isn't so bad anymore or how France must be harboring terrorists simply because one of them had a French passport.

I have an American passport. Does that mean America is harboring cynics?

Ok, maybe that's a bad example.

But what those emails seem to be suggesting is that as a Christian, I will automatically agree that a gay cartoon character signals the end of humanity as we know it. I don't, though, and try as I might, I never can find that section of the Bible. Neither can my roommate, for that matter, and his father is a pastor.

Nor can I find the verses that suggest we should scale back welfare or privatize social security or provide tax breaks for the wealthy or any of the other tenets of the modern Christian faith.

Supposedly it’ll be harder for a rich man to get to Heaven than a camel to go through the eye of a needle, but it’s harder still to keep the Religious Right from voting that same rich man into office.

I’m thinking of writing a book called “Jesus Was a Socialist and Other Things I Didn’t Learn in Sunday School”. The moral outrage alone would make it a best-seller.

And if Jesus was a Socialist then why are all His so-called followers on the complete opposite end of the political spectrum? Is abortion that crucial of an issue that it can make someone deny the basic principles of everything else they profess to believe? Assuming you do save the child’s life, will all the cuts in social services make that life worth living?

To me, that makes as much sense as watching “Van Helsing” instead of “Amelie” because I don’t like the color of the subtitles.

Admitedly, it’s been awhile since I’ve been to church on a regular basis, but I distinctly remember the constant reminder to not be a “Sunday Christian”, that is, someone who only embodies Christ’s virtues on Sunday and raises hell the rest of the week. So how is that different from donating some canned goods to the church food bank on Sunday and voting for someone who will cut funding for poverty on Tuesday?

Exactly how many cans of vegetables does it take to offset those cuts?

Just how many times do you have to volunteer for nursery before a single mother can feel better about leaving her children home alone while she works two jobs?

Eugene V. Debs, the great American Socialist, once said, “As long as there is a lower class, I am in it. As long as there is a criminal element, I’m of it. As long as there is a soul in prison, I am not free.” Jesus urged His disciples to care for the poor and widows. George W. Bush, the compassionate conservative, proposed using $300 million in welfare funding to encourage “healthy, stable marriages” and increasing the welfare working requirements while cutting funding for job training.

One of these men is not like the others. Can you guess which one before I end this page?

Growing up in a Baptist church, it was often assumed every Christian was, by definition, a Republican. To be otherwise was unthinkable. What self-respecting Christian would want to kill an unborn child?

Regardless of morality, voting based on abortion is nothing short of idiotic. It’s worse than voting based on how a candidate looks. If you’re going to vote based on something so inconsequential, you might as well pick the candidate’s favorite baseball team.

Abortion isn’t going anywhere. Not this year, not next year, not in our lifetime. There isn’t ever going to be a meaningful vote on it, and even if there is, it’ll be overturned by the courts. Bet the farm, it’s here to stay. And even if it were to get overturned, do you honestly think it’ll significantly limit the number of abortions? Just like Prohibition, it’ll turn into the sort of underground industry where women die from infections because they couldn’t get it done properly. You end up endangering more people than you save.

Just how many meals do you have to cook to make up for someone’s daughter dying from a coat hanger?

Everyone is always talking about the Ten Commandments, but no one seems to care about the Sermon on the Mount. Why not put that on display outside a courthouse?

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called songs of God.”

“Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”


The early church was socialist. The believers shared everything equally and no one was left behind. Ananias and Sapphira died because they lied about contributing to the general good. Peter and John made it a point to look after the widows and orphans, just as Christ had instructed them. The general welfare of the church took priority over an individual’s pursuit of wealth. That’s socialism in a nutshell: the general welfare of a community is more important than an individual’s pursuit of wealth.

How utterly logical.

They say a chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link. Socialism strives to redistribute the overwhelming strength of the strongest link to ensure the chain can’t be broken by a stiff breeze.

Because what good are two steel rings held together by one made of paper?

My father always tells me that Socialism will never work, and he may be right, but is capitalism actually working? Not really. There’s a continental divide of wealth in this country. The rich get exponentially richer and the poor get poorer, once you adjust for inflation. When the Yankees’ payroll goes past $200 million, everyone screams for competitive balance, but when Bill Gates’ net worth goes past $60 billion, no one says a thing. And sure, a single mother using sheer ingenuity and good old American entrepenuership can compete with someone like Bill Gates, but something tells me she’s got a better chance of beating the Yankees with a local softball team.

What would Jesus do in this situation? Well, I’m quite sure He’d be on the side of the single mother, making sure she didn’t run out of food and, who knows, maybe even serving as hitting coach and scouting the Yankees for weaknesses.

And I can’t imagine He’d spot the Yankees a run and hope it trickled down to make everything even.

So why is it that His followers would? Why is it that they’d be against any sort of advantage for the single mother? It can’t be in the interest of fair play.

Could it be that we only want to embody Christ’s beliefs on Sunday?

Could it be that we aren’t filled with Christ’s love at all, but rather inviting the moneychangers back into the Temple?

Jesus wouldn’t think our single mother vs. the Yankees was a fair fight, and Eugene V. Debs surely wouldn’t, but most Christians, I suspect, would.

Can you guess which one is not like the others before I finish this game?

-- Pittsburgh, 2005

09 March 2005

fixing bad lighting

maybe this is only interesting to me, but i find it cool how much color correction can fix a situation where you have less than zero control of the lighting, etc. when you're filming. take these 2 stills from everett's wedding reception (basically it's the same still, only one corrected and the other not). when someone starts talking to the camera, you can't do a whole lot other than just crossing your fingers and hoping it comes out well. (other than, you know, making them start over, but then there's a whole new set of problems). so here they are. first, the orginal shot:


and the color corrected one.


not a lot of difference, but i think it enhances the depth of field and adds more texture.

07 March 2005

the mpaa

maybe someone can explain this to me. saw 2 movies back to back last night. one was a love story (ish) thing inspired by a film noir full of blackmail and double-crossing and "vertigo" and had a film within a film and all that fun stuff. the other was a convoluted psychological drama where a guy who was supposedly time-traveling (i guess, they didn't really bother to explain it) essentially had sex with an 8-year-old girl while he was actually dead. that, was rated "R". the "vertigo" inspired thing, "NC-17" for sexual content. go figure.

22 February 2005

short update

or Lucas sacrifices his looks to help a friend

This weekend, as you may remember, Rue Snider was filming a short this weekend at Eon's bar in homestead (visit there, support places that support independant films) and he asked me to play 2 different roles. Our good friend Brian (from "Do It!") was playing the lead. so on saturday, i have a noon call, i get there, and they immediately send me to hair and makeup. i go to hair and a good-looking woman fixes my hair and beard to make it all greasy (I'm playing a creepy pervert who throws up in the bathroom), then i go to makeup, where another good-looking girl makes me look paler than i am (if that's possible) and emphasizes the bags under my eyes. then, it's on to wardrobe, where a third good-looking girl finds some clothes to make me look creepy. then i do my scene, they put some of the fake vomit in my beard, which doesn't smell bad, but it definitely smells. Rue's got a steadycam for the shot, and on pretty much every take it bumps me as i go by, but we get it in a couple of takes and i'm done by 5, making it pretty much the easiest day i've ever had on a shoot.

the next day, i'm a different, cooler character, so the night before i have to shave my beard off. my call is 8am (the horror!), and when i get there, it's the same routine, only making me look cool instead of creepy, which is nice. and i'm sitting there thinking i could definitely get used to this--wake up, have good looking women figure out how you should look. sunday's shoot is a lot more involved--maybe 40 extras hanging around--and basically i spend nine hours standing in one place so that i'm not missing from the background of any shots. then, the last shot of the day, the camera sweeps by me and i lift my glass of some blue liquid to acknowledge it. really, the whole thing was pretty boring, but that's a film set for ya. although, i did get to talk to some people about some projects we've got going, so that's something i guess.

15 February 2005

short film

well, the rumors are true, i've been cast in Rue Snider's next short film (filming this weekend). i play 2 different roles. I play a creepy guy in the bathroom and a cool guy in a Jesse Malin t-shirt.

that, my friends, is range.

14 February 2005


this really has nothing to do w/ anything d press related, other than the fact that i listen to their music a lot when i write, so i guess that's something. but in case anyone missed it, d press favorite Wilco took home 2 Grammy Awards last night--best alternative album, and best album packaging. congratulations to them, even if "a ghost is born" is no "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot".

11 February 2005

general statistics and other things...

as much as i hate to do it, this entry will move the picture of george peters (the old guy) down possibly so far you'll have to scroll down to see it. it's a shame too, b/c i really enjoy that still of him. oh well.

i got one of them new-fangled trackers that tells me all sorts of cool stuff about whoever visits the site. for example, i know that someone (mike?) visited from the duquesne campus system and i know that matt used windows xp when he visited (either that, or there's someone else from fredrick, md). the total, btw, is at the bottom of the page, and my isp is blocked, so it won't count me checking to see if there's any comments.

rumour has it the blankspace people have given up (or at least modified) the censorship theme for "stop it" and were instead basing it on some guy who's name i've forgotten. they mentioned something about being avant-gard or whatever. i just im'ed them and they aren't yet responding, so as soon as i find out who that is, i'll put it in the comments here, in case anyone wants to do any quick research (or already knows who they are).

09 February 2005


i've just now learned how to get photos on this thing. So here's a couple of stills:

from the legendary "guard duty":

guard duty 010154;16

James Perkins, Jr., mayor of Selma, AL, as seen in the civil rights documentary, "Reclaiming Our Past":

perkins_everybody black not f#0

and this one, from everett's wedding:


08 February 2005

so now then

it occurs to me that w/ the mass email i just sent (and the reply by our good friend mike rectenwald), that some people may be reading this for the first time. so it goes.

if so, welcome to the d press blog, where you'll find all sorts of d pressing things. browse, leave a comment, pretty much do whatever you want.


05 February 2005

Ossie Davis (1917-2005)

click on the above title for link.

we lost a great actor this week and a great humanitarian. and the sad thing is that when i mention this to some of the people i work with, they have no idea who i'm talking about.

01 February 2005


Somehow (I have no real idea how), I've gotten roped into auditioning for an Aquafina commercial...

yeah, that was my reaction too.

29 January 2005

film in general

nevermind that i'm still really annoyed about paul giamatti's oscar snub, in my mind, the best picture front-runner has to be "million dollar baby". it's as perfect a film as I've seen in a very long time. it's so stunningly good, better even than "mystic river", which is saying something. and now i'm torn b/c i very much want to see marty win best director for "the aviator" (which i still haven't seen), but it seems like it'll be awfully hard to deny clint for this one.

25 January 2005

oscars, cont.

so "Before Sunset" picked up a nomination in Adapted Screenplay, which is fantastic, but honestly, where is Paul Giamatti?

that's just a stunning snub. it's the best performance of a career full of fantastic ones.

24 January 2005


nominations will be announced tomorrow at some ungodly hour when i'll be asleep. Is it too late to hope for Julie Delpy to be nominated for "Before Sunset"?


New England 41, Pittsburgh 27

turns out i overestimated the Steelers (as did everyone else in this city). originally had the pats by 10 but that sounded like too much, so i cut it in half. and now, i will spend the next couple of weeks gloating all over Pittsburgh. (cue evil laugh)

let's just hope i don't get shot.

22 January 2005

more work ahead

rumor has it that achieva (the non-profit) has an upcoming project (feb 05) that should involve more money coming my way, which is always nice.

oh, and not that anyone cares what i think about football (at least not in this space), but New England by 5. If not, i'll have a long winter in pgh.

19 January 2005

more censorship

the thing is, everyone is against censorship in some form, and for it in another (i.e. i don't want my kids watching that crap). i sent an email once to a bunch of people that had a little bit of profanity in it, and this one guy was so upset b/c his kids could have read it (nevermind that he lets his kids read emails from people he doesn't even know, but whatever). you'd have thought i insulted his mother or something. and i'm sure he's against burning books and all that, but when his children are involved, it's a whole different story. part of the power that the religious right has in these situations is that they're protecting the "family".

but, attacking censorship in an art form, well, that's a bit tricky...the other day i'm watching the South Park movie (don't ask) and after about an hour i come to the realization that i'm essentially watching a film about censorship. the whole thing, of course, is satire, but the focus of the film is censorship. only we don't realize that b/c we're focused on the humor and satan having an affair w/ saddam hussein and the war w/ canada and the storyline that the point of the film doesn't seem forced to us. some other stuff does, but not that. at least, not a lot.

how do you do that in a play called "stop it"? the play-within-a-play idea is good and i agree w/ johanna that it probably would work better if it was produced, but i'm still not convinced those things would work, and i'm leaning toward saying this is probably a bad overall idea.

anyway, the next meeting on this is saturday, i think, so if anyone has any other wonderful ideas, we sure could use them

18 January 2005

pitching the pitchless

this is mostly for matt, but i'll leave it open for other input...if you had to describe "recurrence" and "coffee stains" in that generic method of "well, it's (movie) plus (movie) plus (movie) w/ a little bit of (random other thing)" how would you do it? yeah, it's a weird question, but it's not mine.

17 January 2005


It's of course Martin Luther King, Jr. day, a perfect time to remind people that the movement still goes on. The battle is not won. And let's remember that civil rights extends to race, creed, gender, and sexual orientation. It's not just where you get to sit on a bus, but where you can go to school, who you can worship, and who you can or can't marry.

12 January 2005

music recommendation

Lately been listening pretty much non-stop to michigan singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens (www.sufjan.com) who sort of a more orchestral (that's probably not the right word) of Iron & Wine. Either way, he's fantastic, and as I've just discovered, used to be part of the Danielson Famile, which we used to play all the time on WGEV. amazing, ain't it?

10 January 2005

year-end nonsense...

Since there's nothing big to report news-wise and I haven't posted anything since I got back in town, I figured it was as good a time as any to include my top 10 films of 2004. Not because I think anyone really cares, but mostly because I'm taking a quick editing break and needed something to do at 4am. So here they are, a rough list. Oh, and keep in mind I haven't yet seen everything (most notably "the Aviator" and "A Very Long Engagement", but also "Fat Albert". Hey hey hey, you never know.)

I'll try to not write too much because, well, I have to get something done tonight. If nothing else, take the time to check these out.

1) "Before Sunset" (Richard Linklater) The sequel to "Before Sunrise" (1995) is a perfect example of a European film done by Americans. Jesse (Ethan Hawke) is in Paris promoting the book he wrote about the one night he spent with Celine (Julie Delpy) nine years ago in Vienna. She shows up at the reading and they spend the hour and a half before his flight walking the streets and trying to figure out what went wrong, how their lives have changed, and where it's all headed. Linklater (who also co-wrote it with Delpy and Hawke) films in real-time and the performances are so organic and sincere you begin to wonder if it's actually scripted. It reminds me of Bergman and Truffaut and everything else I love about film, and Linklater is proving to be the best director of the indie generation, hands down.

2) "Garden State" (Zach Braff) The kid from "Scrubs" has a real director's eye, sort of an indie version of early Woody Allen, and uses a mixture of music and cinematic flair to create the perfect mood for his film about finding your way back home. The first-time director does a great job of creating a cohesive film (unlike such veterans as O. Stone, Mel Gibson, and--yes--Wes Anderson) that's one of the most enjoyable of the year. Ian Holm, Natalie Portman, and Peter Sarsgaard give solid performances.

3) "Sideways" (Alexander Payne) Paul Giamatti's pitch-perfect performance carries this film about a wine-tasting road trip. Virginia Madsen is amazing, and Payne ("Election", "About Schmidt") shows real growth as a director, although not quite as much as most critics are giving him.

4) "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" (Michael Gondry) Charlie Kaufmann is my hero. His trippy take on love gone wrong involves Jim Carrey hiring Tom Wilkinson to erase his memory of his time with Clementine (Kate Winslet) as a means of avoiding the heartbreak, but of course it finds it's way through eventually. Another brilliant script from the man who gave us "Adaptation" and "Being John Malcovich".

5) "Closer" (Mike Nichols) Nichols ("Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe", "The Graduate") specializes in character dramas and this may be one of his best. Clive Owen (who was also in the original play) and Natalie Portman give the standout performances here and Julia Roberts and Jude Law hold their own as a pair of couples working through their various relationship problems. A difficult film to watch, but well worth it.

6) "Farenheit 9/11" (Michael Moore) Forget all the controversy, this is easily the best edited film of the year. The footage of President Bush reading a children's book on 9/11 is just stunning, and the film as a whole (which was fact-checked by the New Yorker) is informative and entertaining. Not quite on par with "Bowling for Columbine", but considering the target in question, an exceptional documentary.

7) "I Heart Huckabees" (David O. Russell) If you have no initial interest in philosophy, you will probably hate this film. If you, say, minored in it, you'll love it. Lily Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman play existential detectives who follow Jason Schwartzman aroud as a means to solve his "coincidences". The thing is absurd and silly and maybe profound at times and definitely weird, but it's entertaining as hell and easily the most bizarre film you'll see all year (yes, even more so than "Eternal Sunshine"). Mark Whalberg gives his best performance in years as a firefighter obsessed with petroleum.

8) "Finding Neverland" (Marc Forster) Johnny Depp is amazing as J.M. Barrie, the man who wrote "Peter Pan", in this look at the backstory of the boy who went to Neverland. Freddie Highmore ("Peter") gives perhaps the best child performance since Haley Joel Osment, and Forster manages to merge reality and fantasy in a believeable way. Kate Winslet plays the mother of the boys who inspired the classic. The ending is heart-wrenching.

9) "The Motorcycle Diaries" (Walter Salles) Gael Garcial Bernal ("Y Tu Mama Tambien", "Amoros Perros") plays Che Guevara in this film based on Che's own journals of the road trip through South America that heavily influenced his political activities. Bernal may just be the best actor in the world under 30, and Salles manages to bring the audience to the same conclusion as Guevara as he's coming to it, without resorting to preaching or cheap sympathy. The visuals are stunning, especially as they visit some of the most rural parts of South America.

10) "Dogville" (Lars Von Trier) Filmed on an essentially bare stage, using basic props and outlines of the buildings, "Dogville" explores a small American town as they attempt to help a woman (Nicole Kidman) in hiding from mobsters. The lack of props and sets forces you to focus on the actors, universally solid, and their eventual cruel treatment of a woman in danger. An extremely difficult film to watch, "Dogville" nevertheless is an effective morality tale by one of the most daring directors of our time.

Ok, enough of my pretension. Back to work.