Archive for September, 2014


September 29, 2014

I am three episodes (watching the fourth, the fifth is on the net) into ‘The Chair,’ a new reality show on Starz. It’s about time to ponder it. The premise is that two directors – Shane Dawson, a YouTube Star, and Anna Martemucci, an NYC writer/actress are making versions of the same movie in Pittsburgh, PA. Their productions are taped, intercut with Zachary Quinto, Chris Moore and other established film makers who are financing and facilitating the whole competition.

The audience gets a view of film production most haven’t. Whoevers film wins gets to make a film of their own.

Now, I have to two filters to viewing this show that others may not. The first is that I’ve acted and worked in production for Film & TV in New York. I don’t know it all, but I’ve lived, and survived, life on sets and production offices. Also, I went to school in Cleveland. A number of Pittsburgh folk tended to look down on Cleveland. Thought that the Iron City was better than even New York.

I have minor issues with the Pitt, you might say.

Now, I believe the show was also intended by Quinto to play up the wonders of Pittsburgh as a Mecca for independent film. In that.. Heh, heh, heh, no. While a gorgeous place, we are reminded it’s homogenous, with a relatively shallow acting pool ( despite having one of the top conservatories in the country. Why wasn’t Carnegie Mellon reached out to for talent?) and a sense of propriety that almost kills the productions. Casting and location agents seem to be badmouthing the scripts ‘edgy’ content to point that local talent are saying no to SAG (union) jobs.

Actors saying no to paying, union gigs? Casting agents working against their client? The fuck? I said no to a couple of no-money gigs based on the audition experience, but no. Short of appearing in the “Atlas Shrugged – Part 4 – Shrug Harder,” you just don’t. Not to paying jobs. Not to union gigs. That’s just suicidal. And for the directors, agencies you are paying to work for you undermine you?

Screw that, guys. Do the next season in Chicago, if not NYC. Where Indie Film LIVES!!!!

Now, for the directors.

It’s important to remember these are two photogenic filmmakers and performers. Shane looks like the offspring of Rivers Como and Tegan and/or Sara. Anna can ratchet up from cute to ‘damn, gal!’ as the situation demands. Both are framing up or voicing conflict with production- whether they need to or not. Both are very aware of how to frame their stories, or should be. They are both up to breaking the fourth wall to kvetch about the producers, or ‘forgetting’ a mike is live.

Part of what keeps me from picking a side is that both directors, having worked in film for years, seem to lack a certain professionalism I’ve seen eve in college shoots. Shane is prone to tantrums, which he is shown to be working out or solving afterwards. Anna is constantly telling people she is less than capable or needs help, and relies too much on her husband/brother-in-law team, as opposed to the crew she’s hired.

I’ve thought a lot about this last bit a lot. It’s not uncommon in film for a director to have a strong, hard -wired team with them. Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh are a great example. Whatever viewer quibbles I have with Anna, I think some note of how she is not unusual in working this way might have added some balance. Nor is it particularly unusual for first time directors to play a role in their first films.

Let me get on my high chair.

You are fucking directors. You are leaders of artists, and have hundreds of thousands of someone else’s money invested in you. Vent effectively, deal with problems so the camera has something to see, but DEAL WITH IT.

Now, my main concerns aside, both have strong points, and are certainly the driven artistic types many of us couldn’t quite manage to be. Anna is deep into the script, and I think when she has her cast and crew set, will get a more coherent story out. Shane, who triggers me less, I think is hampered by the gross out humor. I’m worried he’ll lose the whole film for the same of a far out joke he wants to get. As much as his production has fewer internal problems, he had to deal with the small town mindset.

The show can be frustrating, especially when the directors don’t live up to the level of professionalism. But I really look forward to them pulling their productions together, and giving us a tough choice. And I need to finish some of the scripts I’ve been threatening to finish for the last several decades.

Go on girl, go ahead “Gone Girl” (Hell Yeah, Spoilers.)

September 27, 2014


So I finished ‘Gone Girl,’ largely because I wanted to see the movie, and I occasionally read the popular fiction book that EVERYONE is reading. And, while I didn’t lurve, I thought I’d put some thoughts on pixel about it.


First- this is an ridiculously well crafted tale. Gillian Flynn’s tale hangs together, flows well, and as the characters get stranger and stranger, you see it build.But it’s not a mystery. While her narrators aren’t completely reliable, they are regularly waving flags for you. I mean, Amy was crazy as fuck from the start. No, really. She was insane. Like, from the start, this lady was wound tighter than a Real Housewife’s hand on a bottle of vodka. The treasure hunts she forces Nick to endure, and ignores how much he hates them… that was a flag she will take you on a treasure hunt.


And Nick is telling you he’s a liar, and shallow guy. And guess what.. he is.

But if you don’t see where the story is going, when it gets there, it is grounded in what has been written before. There is no “WHERE THE FUCK DID THAT COME FROM!??!” It’s all “DUDE, THAT’S CRAZY AND GROUNDED IN THE NARRATIVE BEFORE!” Or, “ok. that makes sense.”

Second- I continue to be uncomfortable that the lead character is a psychobitch manipulator playing the abused woman. Too many people are ready to believe victims manipulate to get what they want. This will certainly give them the sense of “THEY WE’RE RIGHT!!!!!” Yes, in her mindset.. she was the victim. Never mind it was a psychotic passive aggressive mindset, and if she applied herself, she could manipulated half her neighbors into the AMWAY CULT FROM HELL! She could have made millions in cheap vitamins off the slack jawed cattle the author portrays these people as, with only Go having brass ovaries to tell her to fuck off. And then, with that money, she could have divorced Nick for infidelity, and written a “Eat Love, Pray, Hate The Flyover States” that would have made her the toast of the fucking town.

With Amway money. THINK ABOUT IT!

Three- Inspired by Bill and Hillary Clinton. Too on the nose? Too crazy? Discuss.

Four- I realized near the end that this is the perfect romantic comedy. Take two people, who really shouldn’t be together. Make the guy need some redemption, a womanizer. Make the woman silly, crazy. Have them brought together, split apart, and then brought together by sheer writers will and force of events FOREVER AND EVER! Yup.

Rom-Com Gold.

Nick is even redeemed. He can’t leave or kill Amy because he realizes he will have a son who needs protection. He is actually heroic here.. going to a personal hell to make sure the next man in his family line isn’t the failure his forefathers have been. Dude… i knew love was a battlefield, but this is a killing field.

Five- I’m seeing a huge double standard here. Hannibal Lecter kills and eats people over table manners, we love him. Take him half way to Batman status. Amy, who could kill and completely destroy lives, kills one sleazeball, leaves most of her victims alone to live their lives, and is the devil.

Fair is fair. She is actually a better person than Hannibal Lecter. Only one person, who we really don’t mind getting killed, is killed.

Six- The thing I hated most about this book was the reading club notes. I love reading clubs, but I hate the fucking publishers spoon feeding critical content to the readers. WE ARE READERS! WE SHOULD COME UP WITH THIS SHIT, YO!!!

So, you don’t need to read this book. But it is worth reading. And I am betting that Fincher, who has made a career on long twisty mindfucks of movies, will direct the shit out of this.

Whales Win.

September 11, 2014

On one day, in 2001, I am down in Battery Park with thousands of other people, after the two plane strikes. It’s a ridiculously beautiful day. We all take moments between trying to get cell calls out to watch the towers as they catch fire, hearing the groans of the structures as the first finally falls, dust covers up the sky. Eventually, we hear the second collapse and the sky goes dark.

On another day in 2008, I’m on a small boat off of Provincetown, MA. We have seen whales surface, dive, a mother and her calf easily slide back under the water. The captain tells the crew and passengers to be very, very quiet, very still.

I look to the bow, the dark blur to coal black water glows green.. and I see the mollusk covered snout of a humpback whale. The entire giant creature, slides beneath the boat without effort. I have no idea how it perceives us, but to see one being, one entity so large yet so utterly graceful….

In both cases, which I only put together recently during a commute, I was suddenly face-to-face with things so far outside of my life. I’ve experienced both from afar.. the aftermath of terrorism at home, and when I lived in London. And whales.. I mean, there have been seals, dolphins and the blue whale model at the Museum of Natural History. But until you are there with the larger reality in front of you… you can’t comprehend.

In both cases, these things became real in one sharp moment.

I’m thinking about both, because after a long time, I’ve ended up scheduled to work on 9/11. Now, I’ve always said that I know as bad as my 9/11 was, so many people went through so much more. On that day, or the days affected by if. I also always took that day off.

Just in case. Just in case there was some last trauma, or trigger. Some last freak out. And I’m done with that. Just as there are sounds and horrors in the distance, there be whales.

Whales win.

Round Two, Post 3-Nirvana vs The Pixies

September 4, 2014

American Bands-Who are the best?

There is only one time when Pixies communicate well together: When they’re behind their instruments. Perhaps this is because they’re communicating with and about the common language of music, which, for all intents and purposes, makes dealing with feelings much easier than actually talking about them. They’re one of rock’s most dysfunctional families.

Pixies made it past the first round because they are a Great band. Great songs, great arrangement, great delivery onstage and in the studio, Gigantic impact. If you dig any “indie” rock that’s happened since about 1989, you’re hearing the influence of Black Francis, Kim Deal, Joey Santiago and David Lovering. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and that’s all Kurt Cobain was trying to do when he wrote “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.

They count together, they hit together, and goddamn if those chords and those vocals don’t tug at the emotions. The ferocity in the…

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Round Two, Post Two-The Allman Brothers (Southeast) vs. The Eagles (Southwest)

September 2, 2014

American Bands-Who are the best?


Okay maybe not.

We took some time off because of various reasons. But we’re back to a regular schedule of updates (11am, every day).

Rez expounds on his most/least favorite band. The Eagles, from Los Angeles.

The Eagles are a great band.

There. I said it.


I hate them, but goddamn.

The seventies, for me, is a time of great fertility for rock and roll. So many things are happening, most of them at the same time. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to be a rock journalist while the seventies are happening, because it must have been like fishing with dynamite. Even the pop music of the time period was exciting. Country is rockin’. The Funk has become part of pop culture. Punk rock happens at the end of the decade.

And the charts…

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Round Two: Metallica VS. Journey

September 1, 2014

Round Two: Metallica VS. Journey.

Hilarious video: Anita Sarkeesian vs The Legion of Doom

September 1, 2014

we hunted the mammoth

The saga of that still-just-hypothetical “documentary” about Anita Sarkeesian and other evil Social Justice Warriors just got a little stranger.

The dogmatic duo behind the project — lady hating YouTube blabbers jordanowen42 and Davis Aurini — are still having a bit of trouble raising the necessary funds (so much so that Aurini wrote an angry, rambling blog post aimed at those who think he and his pal are too inept and biased to make a decent film).

But a new video  — put together by Kav P and a friend, and posted above  — reveals that the dogmatic duo has found some surprising new allies.


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