Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Dont be a Dick.

Hey all,

So here it is, there's a film I'm really excited for (which I will keep anonymous for now). Missed it in theaters due to the maelstrom that was WRONG TURN 2's release (#1 DTV release 5 weeks in a row baby!...sorry had to say it) but since it was helmed by one of my favorite new filmmakers (who shall remain nameless as well) who's first film was fucking mesmerizing. The kind of debut you pray for as a filmmaker, and his next film was a much more ambitious effort, with a larger scope, larger cast, the whole shebang. So after hearing so much about it, the chance to see the film finally came in a screening set up by the DGA with a Q&A to follow with said director. I was psyched, as was my mate Luke, who out-dorked me by bringing a copy of said first film by said director on DVD for signing. Dammit why didn't I think of that.

So we meet up, the film unfolds...and hot damn what a stinker. I mean, Im all for big ambitious sweeping epics by a new filmmaker wanting to make a statement, show their stuff (you know, said "shebang") but this languid, un-affecting mess was just too much for me to handle. I could see some people enjoying it, as I checked out with the smattering of praise it's gotten online, but to me, even if I was a casual moviegoer, I would have turned on DANCING WITH THE STARS 20 minutes in if I was watching at home...and if I watched DANCING WITH THE STARS (sorry, I'm KITCHEN NIGHTMARES man myself). But as a director, I thought it was sloppy, unfocused and really in over it's own head, and while there were scenes of brilliance and they captured some fine performances from some of the ensemble cast, I really didn't like it at all. I turned to Luke, who sometimes disagrees with my gut reactions, and his seat squirming seemed to be all that needed to be said.

During the Q&A however was when things got ugly. Now, not every director in a Q&A needs to be, to quote Sugarcult, "Bouncing off the walls" (like some people I know) and clearly he seemed tired of talking about the film since it's already come and gone to a pretty piss poor Box Office (not entirely his fault however; the studio seemed to dump it in theaters), but this dude, a guy both Luke and I admired, just seemed to come off as a royal fuckstick. I'm sorry but it's times like these that people do formulate an impression of you, and what I got from this guy is that he just didn't really care, nor did he have the cinematic smarts we thought he had, at least from this project. I was really disappointed especially when, during the film, the narrator described one of the main characters as having a certain facial tick, yet when the narrator describes the trait, the shot of the character TOTALLY betrays the claim...he's not doing it, nor does it do it at ALL through the film! That's like talking about Fenster in USUAL SUSPECTS having a limp and never seeing Kevin Spacey actually drag his gimp leg. It was an utterly useless detail, and if I was behind the camera or the AVID, I would have just dropped the V.O. since the actor's performance doesn't illustrate the detail from the narration. So...from shooting to editing to endless promotion...no-one noticed this? No-one said "Um, that doesn't make sense". Surely the smarty director who I (once) admired would have a justification for it, however vague, just so I know a douchetard isn't at the helm of this sinking ship, right? Well, I had to ask.

So the director, who already looks bored to tears whilst the inappropriately bouncy moderator is fielding questions with a painted on smile, seems to be playing deaf with questions (seriously, a dude 2 rows from him asked a question that all of us could hear clearly and he STILL asked what the question was as if he was deaf, doing a bad job at acting like Mr. Magoo) when i very politely raise my hand:

"So, in that first scene, you have the narrator say (description here) and yet it's contrasting what the performer does visually in the film. It seemed to be a conscious choice since it was so blatantly there, could you talk about that a bit as to why you made that choice?"

"Um, well...I didn't want to see him do that throughout the whole film. Would you?"

And that was it.

...Then there was this HORRIBLY awkward pause, as if he was not in any mood to debate and shrugged his shoulders, and with that they went right into another question, passing any further explanation off to the ether. Honestly, it was the stupidest answer I ever heard a director give during a Q&A, almost like he wanted to avoid the subject, and right there and then, a little fan-boy light flickered out in me. I was kinda shocked with that inane answer, how he carried himself as this holier than thou artiste while can't answer a simple yet important question that was a glaring gaff (the hip-hop guy next to me after I got the cold shoulder saying "Yeah man, I totally saw that too!") , and when Luke went up to him, singing his praise (for the efforts he gave on his previous film), the guy just stood there like a blank slate, taking in the nice words and giving nothing back. He even signed the DVD the way you'd expect Brittany Spears would while driving 15 miles per hour down the street...."Thanks for watching!" Ugh, what a dick. Well, hope he enjoyed losing two faithful fans in one fell swoop.

What's the point? Other than..."Dont be a dick"?
Well, I dunno actually.
Someone told me to update my blog and well, here it is.
Blog blog blog.

I guess the point is that when you are out there talking about your art, be prepared and please, be even a LITTLE excited and gracious to the people who came out for you and your movie...it means a lot, for better or worse. You're a lucky fuck to be working in this crazed industry, show some fucking appreciation...and then take out that horrible narration, idiot.

Happy Gobble Gobble. Save a Turkey, see THE MIST.

Staying Scary,


Blogger Sarah Dobbs said...

So... Southland Tales?

11:32 PM  
Blogger giles edwards said...

I dunno, Joe. I kind of saw it as a commentary on the, myths of the [time period left out, out of respect so as to keep the title invisible]. The narrator reels off a list of "facts" including that one, some of which might be true, some of which might be false. We never really know. The whole picture's about that really, hell thw whole genre is pretty predicated on that notion: the building up of legends that probably weren't true at all.

Having that obvious juxtaposition of blatant narrated falsehood over the character's contradictory behaviour was a neat shorthand way of addressing the notion of all those time-honoured (and often utterly false/hyperbolised) myths of [the time period].

Of course, it doesn't excuse any kind of odd/crappy behaviour. That always grates -- whether from a neophyte, or a grand master.

4:21 AM  
Blogger Joe Lynch said...

See Giles, that's what I was about to accept, but the director made no indication that he himself believed that. I was hoping he would say "well its about the myth contrasting the man" but his answer just proved to me he's a dolt. I mean....does the narrator say it might or might not be true what he's saying? I didnt get that at all...

Sorry Sarah, while Im not a fan of ST, at least Kelly backs up his ideas, which only makes you look back on the film with a curious eye ("did I miss something?") Nice try though.

7:38 AM  
Blogger Sarah Dobbs said...

Damn. I don't know, then! You're too showbiz for me.

7:39 AM  
Blogger Joe Lynch said...

well my mate Luke was not so secretive...if you find his blog, you will seek the truth...

9:07 AM  
Blogger Sarah Dobbs said...

But... you have no blogroll. :(

9:09 AM  
Blogger giles edwards said...

Fair dos. It does seem disingenuous of him not to even confront the issue when challenged as forthrightly as you did. Or dickish, as you so well put it.

I don't understand that attitude either. Especially when you've been priviledged enough to have been afforded the opportunty to create a piece of art. Odd attitude to have for such a potentially lauded picture. Maybe he was immensely pissed off at he dumping of the picture?

Did you like he opening, even? Helluva prettily shot piece.

9:19 AM  
Blogger Joe Lynch said...

I wont deny it's beauty...Roger Deakins could shoot shit in a toilet with a miniDV camera and it would look like picturesque art, but that's another good point: he totally disregarded Deakins as being one of the only GOOD notes in his somber symphony, calling him a curmudgen [sic] and never really giving credit where credit is due. The film looked great...but THE HITCHER looked nice too.

9:38 AM  
Blogger giles edwards said...

"Curmudgen"? Ouch. Not cool at all. I'd say credit for the film (and it's one I do really like, I have to say, flaws and all) is due in such an overwhelmingly large percentage to that technical crew, it's not even funny.

I guess this what happens when you work punishingly for 2 years cutting and recutting and remolding your film. And your name's not Malick.

9:54 AM  
Blogger Bryan Wolford said...

Well that sucks. If it's the movie I am thinking it is (and I just got back from IMDB so I am pretty confident) then that is disappointing as I really wanted to see that movie. Now I may just wait until I see it on TNT late one night or something.

But on the other hand THE MIST was fucking AWESOME. Loved it. Darabont should be the only director allowed to do Stephen King adaptations anymore.

11:47 AM  
Blogger BC said...

There's a similar moment in the criminally underseen THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD, where the narrator is describing James as having some sort of afflication that causes him to blink more than normal. Over the shot, Pitt doesn't blink a single time. BUT, for christ's sake, at least he does it elsewhere in the movie. THAT could be construed as a myth vs man metaphor. With Kelly, once i saw that godawful director's cut of DD (a film I never loved to begin with) I realized he was just a high profile version of a film student who watched Eraserhead and Mulholland Tales back to back and decided he could make something just as good, without any of the personal connection or even understanding of what he was doing.

Awesome story though with the Q&A response. Doesn't QUITE top the amazing Knowles story (speaking of "Mr Lynch") but close.

10:52 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Collins, you goofball, he is talking about JESSE JAMES.


11:17 AM  
Blogger BC said...

Hahahah I'm dumb.

He DID use the tic in the movie though... the scene with him and Affleck on the porch, for example.

Obviously I haven't seen ST. I assumed it had a similar thing. OH WELL.

This is why I should stick to dissecting Children of the Corn sequels.

11:25 AM  
Blogger Joe Lynch said...

Dude, I'm dissapointed too, believe you me. I LOVED CHOPPER, not that I'm comparing the two films really, but I had faith in Dominik and his vision on this and was left absolutely bored to tears and really disagreeing with his choices. It made THERE WILL BE BLOOD seem like CRANK in comparison, and I was willing to give the guy a chance but his Q&A left me with a horrible taste in my mouth (no he didnt try to force his shrimp on the barbie down my gullet, sicko). I might see it again someday, but the film just didnt work for me aside from some amazing performances and superb (of course) DP work by Deakins.

Brian-Honestly, from the moment the narrator mentioned it, I was watching Pitt's eyes, and I will go taxes for tails that his "excessive blinking" described in the beginning, which they made it seem like he was related to that blinking kid in THE WONDER YEARS (come on you know who Im talkin' about) but aside from a few "normal" blinks, is never really there....there was never a moment that illustrated that, contrary to your pointing out the scene on the porch where they were smoking cigars. Nope, sorry...not there.

Now if Dominik was trying to be clever like the Coens or Bryan Singer and have a narrator that you can't completely trust, fine, that might have been cool to explore the "recorded myth" versus the man, which was somewhat brought up in the film with Ford's collection of Jesse James books and how Pitt denounces some of the stories...but at the Q&A 'ole Andy D. clearly had no inkling that he even thought about that detail, or so it seemed. If he would have just taken the mention out fromt he V.O. noone would have really noticed, and it wouldnt have been as distracting as actually seeing the actor pull off a "Pruitt Taylor Vince" and be all Blinky Mc Blinkerson, which would have been faithful to the man, not catering to the audience's tolerance.

Oh well...at least we have THE MIST.

2:30 PM  

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