Thursday, August 27, 2009

Midnight Passage

Sitting in the window
under the cover of night

he fantasizes
about love.

He knows not her face

nor the color of her eyes, her hair...

but he imagines she's there.

He knows she's there somewhere.

She comes to him at the window

and whispers "move over"
as she takes a seat next to him

and leans her body back into his.

Her hair spills across his chest
and he can feel her breathing

as the cool, night air passes over them.

He feels as if he's going to fall
right then and there,
and he wonders
he always feels this way with her.

He realizes why, after a moment.
He's been searching for this, for her,
for this feeling of being needed,
of contentment,
for so many years,
of course
he needs a rest, by now.

"But fear not," he whispers

into her perfectly shaped ear.

"I won't sleep forever
and once I wake up again,

I'll make you happier than you've ever been."

She smiles as their eyes slowly close

in mutual contentment... He knows
once he opens his eyes again
she'll be gone,
into the
taking this wondrous feeling
of being
needed by someone
with her.

He tries not to think about it
and silently looks forward

to their next midnight rendezvous,

sitting in the window

under the cover of night.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Fine Line Between Clever and Stupid

Looking through the past via my e-mail inbox, I'm struck with the amount of notes and passages I've never gotten around to deleting. Many are rather personal. Many are quite random. The one I'm going to present to you here, though, has something interesting in there, I think. (Maybe.) It's all in good jest, naturally, as if written by a drunken cross between Andy Kaufman and Hunter S. Thompson. But if it were real... Oh, man. What a world this could be...

A few of my friends take part in public readings of their personal childhood diaries and journals, sharing in the nostalgia of young adulthood and poking light fun at all of the things that seemed so important back then when they really weren't. Posting the following scribble might be as close to doing that as I'm likely to get. So, that said... have a seat, put your feet up, and enjoy my rambling insanity. Please excuse the ridiculous amount of all-caps text, and try to remember... Some ideas are just ahead of their time.

Sent: Thu 10/13/05 - 5:01 PM
I had an idea today for what might just be the most experimental film of all time. "Experimental" in that it follows absolutely none of the rules of natural film making or storytelling. In fact, there will BE no story. Not in a SEINFELD way. In a NO STORY OF ANY KIND way. There will be NO actors. Perhaps, right now, you're saying to yourself "No actors?" No. None. There will be PEOPLE, maybe. Or parts of people. But no actors playing characters. And no dialogue. Words, spoken. But not written.

There will also be NO DIRECTOR. The footage will have an editor (necessary, I think, considering how random the footage will be). But there will be NO rhyme or reason in the cutting, nor artistic intent. There will be no mise-en-scene, no subtext of the linking of images, and no points will be deducted for mistakes. Because if there is no plan, there can be no mistakes.

There WILL be music. But it will be random, and performed without musical instruments by non-musicians. And it will be rendered unintelligible. For instance: the "opening theme," if there is to be one, will be interrupted a great deal by other sounds from later in the film.

Imagine a film with a Hate Index that's off the charts. should destroy itself trying to measure how hated the film will be. The confusion and negativity surrounding it should rival the that of Vincent Gallo's THE BROWN BUNNY. Cripsin Glover's WHAT IS IT?, all the UWE BOLL movies, FAT GUY GOES NUTZOID and BIRTH OF A NATION... COMBINED.

Despite the theoretical impossibility, imagine watching a nine hour version of Jamie Lee Curtis's VIRUS, but somehow watching it ten times in a row... and ALL AT ONCE. Audiences should not only demand their money back but should demand SEVEN TIMES their money back and be crying and/or yelling and/or shaking their fists while they do so. The idea, I think, is to make THE MOST UNIVERSALLY DESPISED MOTION PICTURE OF ALL TIME

There's a certain timelessness in that. Ed Wood's been dead for years and it's about time someone knocked his lame ghost's ass off that slimy post it's been perched on. Besides, PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE maybe be awful, but it's gloried and almost beloved by millions (or thousands, anyway). And if SOMEONE likes it, then to me it fails as a TRULY bad film. It must be HATED. It must be spoken of ONLY IN WHISPER. It must be the VOLDEMORT of the film industry, to borrow from Rowling -- but even MORE evil. If Voldemort is "The One Who Cannot Be Named," then that is a name of a kind, itself.

Our film, our Bastard Film (and no, that's not it's name) will have NO TITLE and NO TITLE will never be referred to. If, somehow, society deems to name it someday (like they did with Prince when he changed his handle to that SYMBOL THINGY), then that title will be refuted. Even something as simple as THE UNTITLED MOVIE or THAT MOVIE WITH NO NAME will be tarred and feathered and fed to Satan's Dogs before they ever appear on any kind of posters for the film.

Which brings me to advertising. There WILL be a campaign. Posters and a website will promote this thing, whatever it is, to the masses. I was thinking something very simple for the one sheet, like black text on black letters, or white on white, or... NO! I HAVE IT! TRANSPARENT ONE SHEETS! Nothing more than THICK CELLOPHANE! PERFECT! For text: the posters should read something like DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE and that's all. Though how one reads transparent text on a transparent poster is up for discussion. I'm leaving the content and design of the website up to XXXXX. Nobody is more suited for this task than you, XXXXX -- after all, it doesn't matter how crazy the site is. It will never be crazy ENOUGH.

Perhaps the idea behind all this would be of interest to some people out there in the world. TOUGH SHIT, WORLD! Only five people will EVER know. They are: names removed by request. And that is all. We'll have to assume new identities or at least use fake names making this thing in order to shield our loved ones from the backlash... although these loved ones will probably excommunicate us during production, anyway. No matter, pop stars and supermodels will likely offer us pleasures on an hourly basis for the sole purpose of sexing the secret out of us and releasing it the world on MTV's TRL Live or something. Hotties love bad boys. And nobody will be badder than us once the film is released. Not Manson. Not nobody.

I've concocted a cover story for the press, as follows...

"Two hundred and seventeen years from now, Earth will be visited by marauding Aliens from a distant star system, Hellbent on destroying Mankind. They will arrive in the night under silence, The word "genocide" is not strong enough for what they have in their Alien minds. They will invade, contact and destroy. And that the last possible second, one Under-Alien will discover... OUR FILM. It will advise its betters of the film. And Earth will be spared. Why? Will they love it? Will they fear it? That is uncertain. The above is all the information we have."

...As far as society goes, that's all they'll GET, too.

WE will know DIFFERENT. Here's the skinny: Maybe ALL OF THE ABOVE is a ruse. Maybe our intent SHOULD BE simply to spread the RUMOR that we're out to make THE MOST UNIVERSALLY DESPISED MOTION PICTURE OF ALL TIME. Start the website up, quietly let it worm it's way through the internet, wait for people to hear more, hit us up with questions and all, let some sort of Media Circus Swarm create itself over the film. This smacks of INTENT, though, and while I love the idea of it, I'm not sure. I'm torn between creating this GIGANTIC HOAX of a film and shooting a documentary about it (the easy, real-life application of the above theories) and doing it for REAL. Maybe we can do both. Will the Film Industry, the World and Valhalla forgive us for our trespasses? Who knows?

There is one more secret I have on the project. I want the final shot of the movie to be an image of film critic Richard Roeper, sitting in a cinema moments after watching the preceding film. I want him to utter one simple line. "Fuck!" for example. (Swearing is encouraged). And then I want him to pull out a revolver and blow his brains out. END OF FILM.

Yeah, I know... that bit above smacks of planning and "creating." It wouldn't be real, though -- I envision it to be pulled off via optical effects like that fire extinguisher scene in IRREVERSIBLE. No... It's not the central idea of the movie to get Roeper to commit suicide on film as some sort of wish fulfillment, nor a comment on the concept of film criticism in any way. It would just be a great final shot, is all. Right? Um.... thoughts? :)

Producers are encouraged to contact me here, with offers. My people are standing by. :)

Theatrical Reviews:
Ghostbusters (1984) ****
District 9 ***

DVD/Home Video
The Royal Tenenbaums: Criterion Collection ****
Rushmore: Criterion Collection ****
Bottle Rocket: Criterion Collection ***
Bonfire of the Vanities (1990) ***
Howl's Moving Castle (2004) ***
The Darjeeling Limited ***
Alien Vs. Predator: Unrated Edition (2004) *1/2

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Facing The Music: A Film Score Geek Session

Soundtrack: 1) The physical area of a film that contains the synchronized recorded sound. 2) Recorded music accompanying and synchronized to the images of a motion picture, television program or video game. 3) A commercially released album of music as featured in the soundtrack of a film or TV show. -- from Wikipedia (paraphrased)

Yes, as a great fan of all-things-cinema, my admiration also crosses into my personal appreciation of music. Way back when I was about seven years old or so, I stumbled across one of those classic "12 albums, cassettes or 8-track tapes for a penny" ads Columbia Records & Tapes Club ran in TV Guide every week and my young eyes trained on the two most important words a kid growing up in the late 70's ever came across: STAR WARS.

Not that I knew anything about music when I was seven... but as far as I was concerned, I knew the hell out of everything about Star Wars. I also didn't understand the concept of joining a music club through the mail, but from what I'd gathered... for a penny I would own Star Wars... somehow. And that was all that mattered. I sent in the order form and six-to-eight weeks later my pile of tapes arrived and I popped the one I'd wanted most into my trusty Panasonic one-speakered, mono recorder and got my first taste of John Williams' greatness...

"What is this, old-people music?" I remember thinking. :)

And of course, years later, this "old-people music" makes up about 80% of my listening. John Williams (still a hero of mine), Elmer Bernstein, James Horner, Alan Silvestri, Jerry Goldsmith, Ennio Morricone, and later the synth stylings of Harold Faltermeyer, Jan Hammer and Hans Zimmer... Over time I grew to appreciate more and more, becoming quite the aficionado of the contemporary motion picture score. And of course, soundtracks and scores are the rhythms that the characters of a movie live and breathe to...

But what about people? If people had soundtracks, what might they sound like? Often, you're walking down the street, maybe a song will float into your head and you'll bounce to the beat. You're the only one that can hear it. But it's there, and you're loving it. If you were a character in a movie, what would that track be? A soul classic? A bit of bebop? A country twang? Or a fully orchestrated symphony? Most soundtrack fans have pieces they feel they identify with personally. Maybe the character the music underscores resonates with you. Maybe they remind you... of you. Whatever the reason, it's possible that some film scores or songs stick to you more than others. Maybe you consider them your soundtracks, too. I realized I have a few...

"The Man In Me"
Bob Dylan
from The Big Lebowski

Lebowski came along for me at just the right time. In my old uptight world of office politics and career non-advancement, this classic track ushered in the epic story of an unemployed bowling leaguer who knew how to relax. The film taught me to just relax; to be the Dude and abide... and this song sets the stage for peaceful easy vibes, every time.

"Main Title" and "Sneakers Theme"
James Horner with Branford Marsalis
from Sneakers

Maybe it's the mix of Horner's chorus/piano combo and Marsalis' jazzy solos. Maybe it's because I first saw this very-influential-to-me film having just arrived at KSC for film school -- the movie's concept of a group of surveillance experts working together always reminded me of my friends and I shooting each other's projects. The lightness and playfulness of these two tracks always enlighten the mood... and they go well with a cool fall day (college season) or snowy winter's night (holidays). Very impressionable, I seem to be.

"A Different Drum"
Peter Gabriel
from The Last Temptation of Christ

"Opening Titles"
Jeffrey Taylor & Ned Rifle (Hal Hartley)
from Amateur

"An Ending (Ascent)"
Brian Eno
from For All Mankind

There's a soulfulness and spirit to these songs that I always respond to. "Drum" is rather like arriving somewhere new and a feeling great promise, like crossing a bridge into New York City and feeling the first wave of anticipation. "Ending" and the track from Amateur, conversely, feel like the end of a long, perfect day, with the sun setting ahead of you, heading home to relax, smiling and falling asleep while someone else is doing the driving... or maybe the musical representation of a soul at complete happiness or peace. Sometimes, you just need to hear something like that.

"End Theme"
Eric Clapton
from Homeboy

This country-blues influenced track has a quiet, dependable beat coupled with the greatness of EC's guitar work. Coming from a little-known Mickey Rourke film about a small time boxer in a corrupt sports organization, it's one of those songs that resonates homespun decency and quiet dignity. (Also along these lines, but more orchestral: Randy Newman's The Natural and John Barry's Dances With Wolves.)

"Main Title/Love Theme"
Jerry Goldsmith
from Chinatown

"Blade Runner Blues"
from Blade Runner

Sometimes you need a little of the old slow-and-low. Some warm trumpet over a sad bit of strings for after a hard day at work or a lonely night where you feel isolated in your environs. Or a synthesized clarinet and organ combo sounding off into the night sky. Both tracks are perfect for a hot summer night walking or biking through town, or a rainy night in the big city. Perfect for when you could really use a soothing caress or a whipsered word of kindness, but there's nobody there to deliver them... (Also, but occasionally more up-tempo, Goldsmith's music for The Detective and Dave Grusin's score tracks from The Fabulous Baker Boys.)

"Prelude and Main Title March"
John Williams
from Superman

This one's easy. It's all about hope and desire. The soft beginning of the track, all flutes and strings, recall a youth spent on the farm (Smallville, perhaps) and looking out at the stars dreaming of something more... and then the tuba and cellos come in... and you're there, growing up... evolving, making your way out on your own... and then the trumpets blare, the violins sound, and you're where you want to be and who you want to be... And your future is assured... and you, like Kal-El himself, feel like you can do anything. Pure empowerment, personified.

There are just a few personal examples. How about you? What's on your soundtrack?

Watchmen: The Director's Cut ***1/2
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince ***
Public Enemies ***
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra **

DVD/Home Video
Annie Hall (1977) ****
The Double Life of Veronique: Criterion Collection (1991) ****
Chungking Express: Criterion Collection (1994) ****
For All Mankind: Criterion Collection (1989) ****
In the Realm of the Senses: Criterion Collection (1976) ***1/2
Man Stroke Woman: Season Two (BBC-TV) ***1/2
Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993) ***1/2
The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (1991) ***
White Dog: Criterion Collection (1982) ***
The Shinjuku Incident (Hong Kong) ***
Hyperdrive: Season Two (BBC-TV) ***
Lynch (one): (Documentary, 2007) ***
The Hit: Criterion Collection (1984) ***
Bullets Over Broadway (1994) ***
Roving Mars (IMAX, 2006) ***
Mighty Aphrodite (1985) ***
Family Business (1989) ***
Radio Days (1987) ***
Celebrity (1988) ***
Everyone Says I Love You **1/2
Small Time Crooks (2000) **1/2
Shadows and Fog (1991) **1/2
Hollywood Ending (2002) **1/2
Anything Else (2003) **
Predator 2 (1990) **
Push (2009) *

Tommy Wiseau's The Room ***

Tom Waits: Nighthawks at the Diner (1975) ****
Makoto Ozone: Wizard of Ozone (2000) ***