Friday, November 28, 2008
With trembling fingers, I loaded the vcr with the final episode of one of my favorite television shows ever. The Shield wrapped up its seven year run two weeks ago and I was a little late getting to the final episode. I kept putting it off wanting to savor it a bit, but eventually I tore into it around midnight one evening that I should have been catching up on some much needed sleep. Oh my. I didn't get any of that sleep I needed. The finale was so wrenching that it has haunted my dreams, not to mention my waking hours, since. I'm not big on cop shows, but 2008 saw the wrap up of two of the best ever, The Shield and The Wire both debuted in 2002and revitalized the television crime drama, but where The Wire was measured and methodical, The Shield was balls to the wall every time out, and that's a special special thing. Miss 'em both already, but I'm so glad they wrapped up on their own terms and weren't prematurally cancelled or just spun into eternity hashing over the same material till it was stale. Hope it goes well for all the talent involved with both shows, but I see great things to come from Walton Goggins, no problem. Anybody familiar with his turn as damned and doomed, (the difference is self-awareness)Shane Vendrell knows he can take dark dark shit and spin humanity and compassion from it. He's a partner in Ginny Mule productions along with the multi-talented Ray McKinnon, (Deadwood anyone?) and Lisa Blount, (Starman - she's also from Fayetteville, Arkansas where I spent some formative years). They've already won an academy award, for the short film The Accountant and put out a killer Southern gothic, Chrystal w/ Billy Bob Thornton. Walt and Ray have each got a piece of I Hate to See That Evening Sun Go Down, based on the William Gay short story of the same name, starring and producing and if they're track record, (not to mention Gay's - holy cow) is worth anything, it should be a corker. Also look for Randy and The Mob, a Southern-fried comedy from the Ginny Mule team. Now we need some better projects for Dominic West.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
In the novel I am oh so close to wrapping up, I have settled on a crooked preacher for the villian. I really didn't want to include this character in the story until I realized he was the story and there was no way around it. I use the Preacher as Villian device hesitantly because it has become so overused, but then I think its become a cliche because it is such a strong device to begin with. So, I thought I'd compile a quick list of great preacher/villians.
5) John Lithgow as Rev. Moore in Footloose: You kids and yer rock n roll. You kids and yer dancing. Now it's illegal.
4) Christopher Lee as Lord Summerisle in The Wicker Man: Oh we're just a hippie-dippie, tree hugging commune. We believe in classic pagan rituals and rites like flower children orgies and uh human sacrifice.
3) Harry Dean Stanton as Roman Grant on Big Love. The Prophet of the polygamus cult wooing fourteen year old girls and running some serious gangster operations in Utah. The intimidation is real. His followers may be simpletons, but they're armed to the teeth and he's not afraid to use them. The white stetson hat and white SUV convoy are iconic evil.
2)Robert Mitchum as Harry Powell in Night of the Hunter: A psychotic con man with a new schtick - reformed convict turned preacher. His knuckles branded with L-O-V-E & H-A-T-E, he bullys people with scripture quoting until he's got his way. Those who don't go for that kind of manipulation he can always kill.
1) Clancy Brown as Brother Justin on Carnivale: HBO's Old Testament epic set in Dust Bowl America featured possibly the most convuluted, intricate mythology on television, (take that Lost). Its no wonder it didn't last, but those who witnessed both seasons saw the transformation of Brother Justin from a simple preacher with a calling become evil incarnate, his eyes going black as he summoned demonic power. Whether he was making someone cough up gold coins, burning orphanages to the ground or singing hymns, he was forboding and impossible to not watch. Role of a lifetime for Mr. Brown.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Had such a great time Saturday night at the St. Louis International Film Festival - Eddie Muller event. He showed the restored print of The Prowler, which kicked tail. Thanks btw to Mr. Muller and James Ellroy, among others, for finding that rare print and paying for it's restoration and safe keeping. Good work. After Prowler, The Grand Inquisitor - Eddie's own short film, (which is apparently being overhauled into a feature - hope, hope), screened and then Eddie and Marsha Hunt took part in a panel on Noir and the Blacklist, moderated by Scott Phillips. Marsha had great first hand accounts of the time period from '47-through the fifties. Should I ever reach 91 years of age and can guarandamntee I will not be half as vital and full of fizz as Marsha. I had the opportunity to grab refreshing beverages with the panel afterward and was treated to further fantastic stories and diatribe from that classy dame. Do yourself a favor and check out The Prowler which is recently out on DVD and track down Raw Deal, (w/Marsha - not Arnold) and savor the flavor of a yesteryear so uncomfortably similiar to today.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
With John Hillcoat's adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's The Road due to depress holiday shoppers soon and the "economic slowdown" looking like the top of a steep-ass slope, it seems the perfect time to pull out the works of the minor prophets and read or watch and learn a thing or two. I had the pleasure of reading Victor Gischler's satire, Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse, recently and found myself having a grand old time vicariously watching the world burn down, (and struggle to right itself again). Dunno if his publishers are behind any of the financial meltdown going on, but it looks uncannily like the beginning of the end as recalled by protagonist Mortimer Tate, less a boom than a slowing and atrophic slide into chaos. As I read I pictured the book as a mini-series, (the same way Jonathan Lethem's fantastic Amnesia Moon - another great satiric road trip across post-disaster America - did) with each episode dedicated to fleshing out the perversions featured in a chapter. Honestly, each chapter feels like it's own book - there's just that much material thrown about. I couldn't picture a single two-hour movie doing it justice until I saw Neil Marshall's Doomsday - a kick ass mash-up of The Road Warrior and Escape from New York, with a little Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court thrown in for good measure. Have you seen it? Are you kidding me? Is there any reason this wasn't the blockbuster of the year? The spirit of John Carpenter is alive and well and living in Scotland. He's also made a kick-ass werewolf movie, (Dog Soldiers) and a sort of Deliverance meets Slumber Party Massacre, (except without the nudity or lesbian subtext, so maybe nothing like that at all), flick called The Descent. So, for the most dirgy holiday season in recent memory, I suggest adding a little mirth with these.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Found a mostly unfavorable review of Mosquito Kingdom on line this week @ http://wearemoviegeeks.com/2008/11/sliff-review-mosquito-kingdom/. That's fine, even movie geeks aren't required to like it. Hell, my parent's haven't even finished it, but one point kinda stuck in my craw. A lot of people have said more or less the same thing about it intending it as a favorable comment, but I think they're wrong too. Is the movie "Tarantinoesque"? I too remember the glut of pop-culture riffing/hitman/jewel thief movies that clogged up a lot of the video shelf space in the mid to late nineties and I saw a bunch of 'em. I even liked a few, but everything began to be credited to or blamed on QT like he'd invented criminals, pop music, violence, non-linear story telling and everything short of the medium itself. I want to go on record saying that I'm a fan of his, but didn't rip off Quentin Tarantino writing the script. I ripped off somebody else entirely. 10 points for anybody who nails it.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Mosquito Kingdom, my first produced screenplay will be playing November 23 at the St. Louis International Film Festival. It's a micro-budget noir with a wild guerilla story behind the making of. I'm tickled to death that it's featured the night after the Czar of Noir, himself, Eddie Muller, appears with his own film, The Grand Inquisitor, based on his short story of the same name from last year's fantastic, Megan Abbott edited Hell of a Woman anthology. Scott, The Ice Harvest, Phillips will be joining Eddie, as well as, blacklisted actress and star of The Grand Inquisitor, Marsha Hunt in a panel on Film Noir and the Black List Saturday Nov. 22, @ Webster University, a free event - part of the SLIFF. All in all, it's a great way to have our movie framed, on closing night of the festival to boot. Here's the only drawback, and it's a big one - screening at the exact same time as our little picture, in fact, about 30 feet away will be the new Darren Aronofsky/Mickey Rourke picture The Wrestler. I'm not sure which I want to go see, now. I suppose it'll have to be MK though, as I'm in the program as part of the Q&A to follow. I can just picture it now: Q - Why isn't there anyone here to see your film? (Cricket chirp), A - Next door the Pope of Greenwich Village is winning an oscar. Wanna read more about Mosquito Kingdom - http://www.riverfronttimes.com/2008-07-16/film/dark-night-this-kingdom-is-built-on-sneaky-filming-in-the-florida-keys/ - it's a nice piece. Or visit: http://www.filmneshui.com/
Ken Bruen is getting ready to go before cameras. Jude Law is attatched to star with Sophie Onderdo as Falls in an adaptation of Blitz. That Bruen is finally getting a big screen treatment is great news, but the casting of Law as Brant seems a stretch. It's not fair to prejudge the film or the performance, after all he's a gifted actor, but it's going to take quite a transformation for me to equate Jude Law's delicate bone structure with Tom Brant's bruising, psychotic cop. While I wish them the best and hope they deliver a kick ass film, I'm going to have to categorize the casting along with some legendary almost-was adaptations like Neil Diamond as Jack Ryan in Elmore Leonard's Unkonwn Man #89 or Warren Beatty as Sughrue in James Crumley's Last Good Kiss, until they show me the goods. Also in the works from the land of Bruen is London Boulevard, so best of luck to Ken and the film makers.