Monday, September 01, 2008

Wait, I don't have to go to work today??

Happy September!

its Labor Day morning and I can't believe it. I fond myself actually sleeping in. Shocks! Problem is, I have a problem with "relaxing" so when my eyes focused on the sideways clock this morning saying "9:23am" I blasted up in a gasp like Lionel's mother ("Mum, the Mathesen's 'rr 'ere" "GAAASSSPP!!! Get MY DRREESS!!") and flew around the room, searching for something, anything, to get my monday work day going. As Im holding two pairs of underwear in my room as Bri and Banz are still passed out, it dawned on me...wait, today is...and I have it....DAMMIT. While it was annoying to have that sudden burst of adrenaline in my system, there was also the nice, somewhat rewarding feeling that i dont have to bolt out the door and endure the day again, my whole body relaxing finally and I sit here and type. God bless Labor Day.

Still recovering from FrightFest last week. This time then, I was on the fucking plane back, Green and i still giddy from the past few days but not sure how the final short, the one we designed for us NOT being there, was gonna play out. Believe me, if you ever see it, you'll know why we were nervous. But it was such a spectacular blur of a weekend, we didn't really have time or mental capacity to sort through it; we just ordered a couple of free drinks and passed the F out...even though the on-screen prompter (some kind of "smart" device that has 100 terrible movies and TV shows on VOD and can send messages throughout the cabin) kept asking my seat only "Does anyone have change for a 50 pound bill?" Little distracting, but finally we were home...Bri pulled a movie moment and ran into my arms (and then hugged Adam too for good measure) and we were back home. Of course...I come home sick, even though I brought hand sanitizer and everything, so the past few days have been miserable being transformed into a Phlegm Machine. I haven't had a cold this bad in a while...damn you UK! While Im finally getting over it now, poor Bri just got it and is in her own hell since she can't take anything for it. Poor girl. So, the weekend has been mostly trying to recover, watching my gooey spittle turn from dark grey to bright, Re-Animator yellow and back to an acceptable eggy off-white, trying to catch up on flicks for work and play, organize my iphoto album (which is a fucking BITCH to do; where is Justin Long when I need him?)...and hell, actually sleep in a bit. Might go catch a little Statham later too...ahh...Statham. Whut? Who? Um...

HIS NAME WAS JASON doc: So I was asked to be interviewed for a new FRIDAY THE 13TH documentary thats being produced by the same psychos who did the HALLOWEEN doc, and I couldnt have been more excited and nervous. Excited because well...Jason Voorhees was a major part of my childhood cinema upbringing, one of those icons of my past that I knew way too much about (believe me, if you asked me at 12 who directed which F13 installment I'd spout it out in no time at all, and you'd probably step back a little)...and nervous because...well, I didn't want to come in and totally blank on my F13 trivia. I was gonna do research, but Green and Creepy, who went days before me, ensured me that the people behind it were good company and they felt totally at ease talking about Crystal Lake. Plus, I'm a big admirer of producer Daniel Farrands, who also wrote the script for the excellent & bleak Jack Ketchum's THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, so at the very least I could talk with him for a few. After a shitty dentist apt (is there any other kind?) I headed over to the Burbank studio they were filming at, which was adorned with everything "Hockey Mask" related (even playing loops of the kills from all the FRIDAY movies) and got to meet some of the great people behind this project. F13 fans, this doc is in GREAT hands, since everyone there you could tell, from Blake and Thommy the producers, to Daniel (super sweet and funny guy) down to even "Noise" the sound guy (who reminded me of Jimmy DeBello) were all very well astute in FRIDAY culture. Even Kasch was there helping out, who told me that THIRSTY is almost finished (FINALLY!!!!). HIS NAME WAS JASON is a doc made out of pure love for the franchise, and after almost an hour and a half of geeking out about the Voorhees clan, I walked away feeling great, a wave of nostaligia flowing through me and a little relieved I didn't choke and say "Oh um, yeah when Laurie Strode got chased by Jason with a chainsaw" or anything stupid like that. It was an amazing interview, even if my sickly, Sudafeded state, and if they just use me saying "I like Jason" once in the doc, which is supposed to premiere on STARZ to coinside with the remake's release in Feb 09 (and then DVD), it will be a historic honor. Thanks everyone!

RED: I finally got to watch RED, which had a one day showing on HDNET and sitting on my TiVo for weeks...a film I've been really excited about for a while and for many reasons. As of late, there seems to be a real Jack Ketchum renaissance, which is always a good thing. Ketchum was always like Stephen King's angry little brother, with some vastly nasty narrative and harrowing stories that seems to jump off the pace mainly for their detail (which can get fucking GNARLY) and their realism, which makes the violence in books like OFF-SEASON & THE GIRL NEXT DOOR even more skin-crawling. Like King in the late-70's/early 80's and even into today's genre world, once one Ketchum novel adaptation got made and noticed (which came first, THE LOST or THE GIRL NEXT DOOR? Hmmm) there seemed to be a floor of projects that were being made from his work. Believe me, I've been looking into it...
But RED was a novel that I was always fond of, but also cautious with. It concerns a man who's dog, RED (hence the name) is murdered by a bunch of silver-spoon fed yokels. The man goes to the kids father, who does nothing but shoo the man away, and the ball begins to snow, leading to some shocking moments of revenge and sadness. I was excited to see the film for 3 reasons: One, it had a script by our friend Steven Susco, who's a killer writer and part of our circle of friends, so its nice to see one of us kicking ass out there; B, it was directed by Lucky McKee, who Im a fan of (LOVE MAY & ROMAN, the film he starred in) who I just met at a recent Dinner and who was really great to talk to; and 4, besides being a Ketchum novel, had the esteemed Brian Cox playing Avery, the sad widower who has lost his last family member and wants justice. From MANHUNTER to L.I.E. (which, if you live on Long Island, is almost TOO vivid a portrayal of the town's dark side) and ever since, I've been a major fan of Cox (fuck you), I fell into that trap well aware, thank you) and his involvement in this film only got me even more jazzed for some seriously dark drama. From it's opening moments, RED displays the kind of southern gothic nature that one would see almost too slow, but like SLING BLADE, there is an undercurrent of tension in the quiet moments in this small town, and Susco perfectly captures both the book's style & tone and also bringing an eternal sadness to Avery's "Golden Years" which are actually that color due to the fire brimming in his heart from the selfish, cruel act that sets the wheels in motion. Since Im a dog lover, the film was especially hard to watch, knowing that I'd be doing a LOT worse to those fucking kids or anyone who messed with my companion like that, but everything that Avery does, says and believes in throughout the course of his subtle revenge (it doesn't get all DEATH WISH on us till the last act, thankfully) you believe in. Because Brian Cox believes in it. There's some other good performances in here too (Both genre vets Kim Dickens and Bobby Englund give subtle, non-traditional performances...Tom Sizemore, however, keeps looking into the camera like he's amazed he's even gotten the job...or marveling over the cool HD camera they are using) but Cox is the force to be reckoned with, and hopefully the film gains notice...cause at the very least, there should be an Independent Spirit award with his name on it. Ketchum as a novelist can be somewhat brash and in-your-face with his violence, but RED found its sad heart, which was left down the river, drowning in a dog's spilled blood. Kudos, guys...its a knockout film I can't soon forget.

FOOTAGE: Saturday night, we celebrated Oakley's birthday party at the Casa de Bishara, got to show the FF shorts to a small crowd (I think they liked them, whew) and then also got to look at a close friend's footage from a film he's been working on for a few months, one which we've been hearing all the triumphs and trials along the way. He seemed nervous to show it (and for his sake, Ill keep from saying who since we weren't supposed to be seeing this) and i can understand why; when i was cutting WT2, people would ask me all the time to show stuff, and there's nothing worse than standing there watching people peek into the oven and look at the soufflé half-baked and explain how its going to look, smell and taste later on. You just want them to take a full and final bite, right? So I've been in his position, and this was a fickle crowd of horror professionals/nuts...I felt his pain and nervousness. We'd been hearing (mostly from him) the troubled set, the problems with too many cooks in the kitchen, etc, but we all still held out hope for the best, since this guy was talented and passionate and you could just feel he cared about the story, which is so important. Well, the lights dimmed, the voices hushed...and what unspooled was one of the most effective, terrifying opening scenes I've seen in recent memory.

Im dead fucking serious.

I can't describe it in detail, but the beautifully shattered editing style, the use of droning beats that sharpened every edit in its soundscape, the god, I was fighting jumping up and down, gripping my arms together and being repulsed at the same time. Sure, it was only an opening scene and maybe to some a slight one (just setting up a character for later) but not since the opening of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET was a prologue so fucking well constructed and downright creepshow than this one. its almost what you EXPECT from this new wave of French horror filmmaking that many times don't deliver; a euro-esque blend of the beautiful and horrifying, like Bava or Argento. But this was more...god, was it working us all over too. When it finished, I turned to him and just screamed "Dude...DUDE!!" and he wanly smiled, as if not believing me. I, and it seemed all of those watching, also agreed; it was so fucking HURT. Painful to watch, but you couldnt keep your eyes off of the screen. I still am thinking about it 2 days later, more than most of the films at FrightFest affected me. He told me that the producers didn't like the opening, and it just made angry to hear that. You just want to tell them "Don't be morons! The guy knows what he's doing!!! This is GOOD!!!" but I'm pretty sure they would just look at me blindly and then not validate my parking on the lot. While we also watched 2 more rough scenes, which had the potential of greatness with the right edit, sound and music, that opening is such a winner, I wanted to watch it again and again and be affected by it. It always sucks to hear when a close comrade is dealing with political and bureaucratic bullshit that affects one's passions, and believe me, I've been there pallie, but after seeing what he's capable of with just the first few minutes of his film, Im sure he's gonna keep on fighting the good fight...cause it's worth it. Kudos, my friend, keep your dukes up and play ball...

Other movies consumed this weekend: THE DEAD ZONE (Brilliant, not quite Cronenberg but it'll due) SUGARLAND EXPRESS (another forgotten gem), THE KARATE KID (I Needed my Zabka fix), STRANGE DAYS (what a great AND shitty movie), CASINO (it was on HD, had to leave it on and marvel how much PTA stole from this film for BOOGIE NIGHTS) and half of DAN IN REAL LIFE (meh, I prefer GARP thank you). Trying to keep the cinema love blood kinda dawned on me this weekend that its been 10 YEARS since i graduated film school and my "secondary" film school, Troma's TERROR FIRMER set. 10 years ago, we wrapped production and a few friends of mine and I drove to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to recover. So much fun, but fuck me if it doesn't feel both like yesterday...and a LONG time ago ("..say,10 years Joe?" Shut it Voice In My Head!) Just funny to watch films like CASINO & STRANGE DAYS, films i viewed over and over on laserdisc in the video lab I ran at school (AWESOME job for a geek like me, BTW) for the first time in years and remember how I poured over every shot, every edit, deconstructing modern cinema by filmmakers I admired...remembering what I loved about making movies using movies I fell in love with. Its hard out here (for a pimp) to remember why you got into this rat-race, but films like the ones that opened your eyes a bit, even if they don't hold up later or you just recognize are not great works, are sometimes a god-send. Gets you pumped up, ready to kick ass again.
BTW: Its flawed and mysoginistic (especially for a woman director!) but STRANGE DAYS in particular is one cool fucking flick, which boasts some of the coolest and most complicated POV shots since HALLOWEEN. Fucking amazing work.

Gotta mention since we're on inspirational cinema....Wednesday, we're going to see THE FLY at the Dome, and my cineboner cannot contain itself! Plus, The Cronenberg will be there? To quote the words of a wise man:

"Im goin, that's all there is to it, Im fuckin' GOIN'!" -Jules Winfield.

So, that's all i got for today, was in the bloggin' mood since i got up. Things are supposedly going to move and shake a little this week, so say a prayer for me and Ill catch you in da flip side, yo.

Staying Stuffy,