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.