Thursday, November 23, 2006

Gobble Gobble...


Hell yes, a day to lounge...and watch LOST BOYS with the mutt. "Death By Stereo"!

What am I thankful for this year? Christ! (no I haven't found Jesus...he knows his place)

Im thankful that Im alive, and healthy...aside from that Cronenbergian symbiotic sac growing on my side. Say Happy Turkey Day Clumpy!

Im thankful that I have my girl and my dog. They're keeping me sane in this insane time and place. Beav and the Banz rock.

Im thankful for my friends, old and new. Recently I've been honored to be in the company of some great people who have been so supportive and gracious and Im so glad we all met. In a town so cold and prone to daggers in backs, its nice to know people have our back; at the very least to help pull the blade out and maybe codorize the wound, RAMBO 3 style.!

Im thankful that I got to live my lifelong dream earlier this year. This time last year I was finishing up the edit on The Black Dahlia Murder music video and wondering if I'd ever get the shot to make a movie, but never gave up hope. And here I am enduring the god-dammed Macy;s parade (it's raining and I wish i was there...that's an East Coaster for ya!), the movie is delivered and now just waiting for the release date, and knowing I did my best to make it kick ass. Im so thankful for the opportunity and if it never happens again (Perish the thought!!!) at least I can say i got to do what I've wanted since I saw THE BLOB remake that hot summer day in 1988. Pretty crazy.

Im thankful Martin Scorcese and Billy Friedkin are back inspiring us and blowing us away again.

Im not thankful for the Bush administration.

I am thankful Australia and New Zealand are still around for us to find sanctuary when the US is taken over by either Korea or Wal-Mart.

Im thankful that we're all still here. I always think of all those "24" or "Die Hard" scenarios where we dont know how close we were to Total Nuclear Destruction, and how many times a year some lone hero narrowly snips the green wire and we live another day in relative peace. We still have too many brothers and sisters defending what little freedom we have left overseas, and our hearts go out to you guys. Endure the powdered Turkey guys, hopefully next year you'll be home and having it with your families...

...and finally...Im thankful for Tenacious D, who will live on in the history of my "Thanksgiving Movie Night" which has been a steady tradition since SCROOGED in '88. Wow, 88 was a pivotal year, huh? We were trying to decide which movie we'd go see tonight; it was a toss-up between The D and CASINO ROYALE: after a D-ciple gave me a great review earlier today (thanks "Mr. Peabody") it was a done deal. Besides, Bond doesn't need our money; our Knights of Metal, defending our precious genre with swords of awesome bared, need all the support we can give them. For all that is sacred and good in the world, go see TENACIOUS D this weekend and keep the Awesome alive....or you will get a Rocket sauce facial.

End giving Thanks....onto other things.

Spent Tuesday night with Bri walking around the Warner Brothers Burbank lot, which was pretty surreal. I hope I never lose the sense of kid-like wonder and excitement these places give me. We went to watch Bear finish this season's GALACTICA scores, which is always a fucking blast. Seeing Bear command a 100+ orchestra is a sight to behold, and that's not even counting the Spoiler-riffic scenes we saw on this huge screen as they played along. Let's just say that BG fans are gonna be fucking FLOORED when they see the final scenes, if that's what we did witness in rough form. I can't say much more about Bear, other than he's gonna have a hell of a time on our next film. The point of working with creative people is to continually challenge them and their craft, and I can't wait to test him. After I finally got to shake Steve Bartek's hand as he twisted the board's knobs while Bear led his troops (as you probably read, Bartek is part of Oingo Boingo and who played on my film's score....geek out) we went out for some fresh air and ended up wandering between the huge stages on the lot. Each stage has a list of all the films that have inhabited it's walls, and those lists were amazing...everything from CASABLANCA to GHOSTBUSTERS to BATMAN hell of a history, no? Plus, both of us being huge PEE WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE fans, walking through the lot had an extra thrill; we were waiting to see the deep-throated dancer or the high-pitched sci-fi soldier to give us directions, but since it was after hours and the streets were dead, we roamed the streets like the guy in 28 DAYS LATER...

ROBERT ALTMAN: I've been trying to formulate my thoughts for a few days when i heard that Robert Altman passed away early this week You can read the media's coverage HERE.

Im not an Altman devotee; frankly after DR. T AND THE WOMEN I kinda wrote the guy off; there was a respect for his work in his golden years, but those films, like ATLANTIC CITY & PRARIE HOME COMPANION (which i do still want to see, mainly for the cast) never wavered away from the original vision of the filmmaker. All of his films, from M*A*S*H* to POPEYE to THE PLAYER to now, all were considered tapestries of character, where the storyteller used various story and style techniques to enhance his point and let his characters drive the tale. Some are successful...some are not. When I saw THE PLAYER in the theater, even at a younger age where I was just discovering the finer tastes of american art cinema, I could tell this was a master at work, enjoying the craft and a newly rejuvenated outlook while ripping Hollywood a new asshole for years of fucking him over; this was a filmmaker at the top of his game, a creative peak many visual storytellers strive to achieve. So needless to say I was entranced by this guy; I couldn't believe he was the sam director as one of my childhood HBO staples, POPEYE (a horribly marred production thanks to Bob Evans...was it a doomed film? "You bet your ass it was"...) as well as the show I loved and didn't get AT ALL when I was 11 (TANNER '88...hey there's that 88 again!!) and then to see his mastery in peak form on the multi-storied SHORT CUTS (yes there is more reason to see it other than Julianne Moore's redheaded beaver) but then I kinda lost interest. But nonetheless he will always be a major influence on the use of multiple characters to drive a scene; how to properly weave politics and a socialist sensibility into art...and the man knew how to zoom. Even when using zooms were considered un-cool, he used it to full effect in all his films. To that, I bid you adieu, Sir Altman.

Saw THE FOUNTAIN last night. I've been following this movie for a while, as far back as 2002 when i was still working at Fuse doing Uranium in New York. Unlike Altman, Im a huge Aronofsky fan, with both PI and REQUIEM FOR A DREAM being major inspirado for the art of the lyrical edit and the funky camera. Here was a guy from our generation going from the DIY sensibilities and the east coast attitudes trying something different for a change, and I was hotly anticipating seeing the finished product since last year's response from Comic-con. Plus, hearing how the home-made effects being used in the film were created (many of which I had on my computer as screen savers, not knowing it was micro photography and not CGI...check them out here) I couldn't wait to get my eyes on this film.

Then I did. I really don't want to waste my time explaining how disappointed I was with the film. Best way to describe it is being served a very expensive, rich, fancily-prepared dinner and it just NOT agreeing with you. You can appreciate the effort put into it, but it just doesn't taste good. See, i use the "taste" metaphor because I know some people love this movie, and I wish i could too. So many things about it just did not work for me, from the relationship between the two leads (Jackman and Weitz, my future ex-wife, sorry Darren & Bri) to the schizophrenic storytelling structure to the score (Clint marshall again but it didn't gel) to even the cinematography by Matty Libatique, one of my favorite modern DP's and one I would kill to work with. His work in particular; here it is he is working with the guy who started his career, and you wold think he would make this THE definitive work of his career thus far...and it felt sloppy and uninspired to me. Plus, a subplot involving animal testing INFURIATED me; was totally unnecessary and even if it was necessary, there should have been SOMETHING of a comment on the evils of using animals this way. There's even a live monkey in the film who is clearly not enjoying his 15 minutes of fame on-screen. Bullshit guys, fucking bullshit. If you want me to sympathize with the hero, dont have him cruelly ordering animals to be sacrificed for his wife and not have him pay the price. No tears from me, Pal.
Even the effects, while ambitious and ground-breaking, just didn't work the way I had hoped it would. There were a few scenes of true greatness, but overall, I had a case of movie heartburn when the credits rolled. Too much ambition does not a good movie make. Im still psyched for whatever Darren, a true hero to me, will cook up next; hopefully its something like LONE WOLF & CUB or a genre entry. The few moments he had in THE FOUNTAIN with violence had an odd style to them that caught my eye...could you imagine this guy doing a BATMAN movie like he was supposed to before this?

I do wonder though how a film like this, with such a "different" style and sensibility, was even made through a studio system, let alone being released in thousands of theaters. I am excited to see what the return is, and can pretty much predict it will be on the lower run o the top 5 come Monday morning, then whither away into holiday movie obscurity till DVD, which will eventually embrace as a cult classic. But are audiences so jaded by instant gratification storytelling able to handle such intimate and experimental type films? How would 2001 (THE FOUNTAIN's distant cousin) be received now? Would it just be misunderstood? What's funny is that Kubrick's film was destroyed by the critics when it was first released, and it wasn't until later that it was embraced as a modern masterpiece. Correct me if Im wrong (use that comments button, dammit!) as I'm going only on my feeble memory and saying it was a Pauline Kael review that started the change of heart, but when it first came out, people just scratched their heads. So who knows? Maybe I'll embrace it one day, but right now I feel like I wasted too much time on this topic.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I got to see another hero of mine, Billy Friedkin, direct his ass off one one of the more disturbing films I've seen in a while, BUG, played the AFI fest. I wont waste your time with details, but Billy Friedkin is another filmmaker I will follow like Moses with some Manna. FRENCH CONNECTION and EXORCIST alone, he's always challenged the form, and the audience, with some of the most provocative images and themes ever burned to celluloid. Sure, he's also made some clunkers (THE GUARDIAN or DEAL OF THE CENTURY anyone?) but no matter what the project, he always brings a little crazy to the table, and I love him for it. Speaking of crazy, there's a whole lotta crazy going on in BUG, which is a sly horror film wrapped up in a Mamet-like drama (funy because it originated as an off-broadway play). Friedkin is up to his old tricks, using sound design and editing to keep the audience unnerved, as well as a verite style that metamorphoses like an insect as the story mutates into visual and character chaos. All the performances, especially Ashley Judd (where have you been my dear? I had to move on to Rachel Weitz!!), who needs to be nominated for this film. It's not your typical horror film, in that the more "wet" moments are few and far in between, and when they happen its not about the crimson its about the character, and amazing character actor staple-cum-leading man to be Michael Shannon (World Trade Center) sells the unseen to the point where you yourself squint to see the bugs...are they in their heads? I swear you'll question it yourself. Friedkin does amazing work here, even when he pulls some visceral visual punches, but they work as effective ways to, like the doomed new lovers in that stagnant hotel room strive to do with knives and razors and even their fingers, get under the skin.
HERE is a great review on DREAD CENTRAL from the same screening....

MOH: "The V Word": I've been really digging the new season of MASTERS OF HORROR, and while I haven't seen Brad Anderson's installment from last week, finally got to check out Ernest Dickerson's episode "The V Word", written by MOH creator Mick Garris. I knew little about the story, other than what Ernest himself told me over laundry when we were both staying at the Sutton. He was about to shoot and I was 2 weeks into production, and as a huge DEMON KNIGHT fan, I had to shake his hand. But I had no clue how much i ended up enjoying "The V Word" even as Im losing interest in the Vampire genre. It's hard to twist the sub-genre anymore, especially with post-modern entries like NEAR DARK and as recent as THE HAMILTONS, but Garris whipped up a timely story of two friends who sneak into a funeral home to check out a dead body and end up stumbling into a bloodsucker (Genre icon Michael Ironside) and become entangled in his feasting plans. Sounds simple, but the approach to the vampire lore is well done in it's treating the symptoms and methods, and I've never seen a neck biting like that before. Sure, there's plenty of the Dickerson Dutch angle look and some campy lines, but not since FRIGHT NIGHT have I seen the Vampire genre modernized for the times and still retain the gothic sensibility. Check it out.

The greatest new Christmas tale, THE LAST CHRISTMAS, is now complete and available in Trade Paperback form. I implore you to get often do you see a Whisky swilling St. Nick with an uzi plowing down zombies? Brian and Gerry, the whacked masterminds behind the comic mini-series, will be on Conan next week hocking their wares, dont forget to tune in but more importantly, behold your new Xmas tradition to read to your kids...or the patients at the mental home.
Check out the site HERE: and pick it up today!

Finally got around to listening to the new MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE album, The Black Parade....and it's fucking good. As a Queen fan that extends past "Bohemian Rhapsody" (and what nerd doesn't love "Flash! Ah ahhh!!"), this album both embraces the grandiose arena-rock style of The Who's TOMMY and Queen's A NIGHT AT THE OPERA and still manages to feel new and rockin'. I cannot stop listening...and Liza Minelli, cool again?!?!

Don't worry, Im also ensconced in the new LAMB OF GOD and ZOMBI albums, in case you think I've gone soft. The new ZOMBI is the music of choice when Im writing, and this new album does not disappoint. The new album from LOG is pure 100% american metal, as advertised. What more do you want?

Finally, to bookend this bitch of a blog (Both Stephen King and David Foster Wallace would be proud of the word count) Im thankful I finally cracked the code on a new script Im doing. There's nothing more satsfying when you figure out the appropriate ending to a tale. NOW I can kick this story's ass...and hopefully it will kick YOUR ass someday soon...

Whew, now that's an update!!!
OK gotta eat. Have a great holiday you crazy kids!

Staying Scary,


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