Friday, September 10, 2010

Gay Ol' Time

Finally got the opportunity to see That Evening Sun, Scott Teems’ feature debut adaptation of William Gay’s short story I Hate to See That Evening Sun Go Down, tonight. I’ve had my eye on that production for a couple of years now, my interest in it manifold. I’m a fan of the acting talent as well as the producer/actors Ray McKinnon and Walton Goggins, (their previous producing credits with McKinnon in the director’s chair are Chrystal and Randy and the Mob), and I’m a big fan of Gay’s fiction. My third strain of interest in Teems’ film is purely selfish, as it’s the first feature to be made from the books of William Gay, with two more in the pipeline – Provinces of Night will arrive with the film title Bloodworth soonish. Then they’re calling the movie version Beyond the Pale instead of the book’s perfectly fine moniker, Twilight, for some reason, and if they wanna make another picture from a novel, it’s gotta be The Long Home, (unless The Lost Country ever gets a release). All that to say, guess who wrote a screenplay for The Long Home… Scott Phillips, (and me).

It was the third screenplay we wrote together and the first adaptation work either of us had ever done and damn it made us think we were awesome. I think it’s a kick ass screenplay, if that’s okay to say so, and I think it is ‘cause, I’ll tell you right now, William Gay did all the heavy lifting. It’s a hell of a good book and you should definitely give it a read. Then you should rent , (or buy), That Evening Sun and show movie makin’ types that there’s an audience for this kind of fare so that they’ll get our little screenplay made and we will be so, so filthy rich. Ah hell, even if it never gets made, it was one of the greatest writing experiences of my life. Being even tangentially aligned with the heritage of that piece gives me a word boner. Incidentally, I heard rather out of the blue from a writer I greatly admire several months ago, that he’d been visiting Gay in his home and seen a copy of our script lying around. I nearly puked when I heard that. Pleased and scared shitless at the same time.

But, how was Teems’ film? Real nice. He did a great job filling out the story and characters from the original short piece. The pacing is fantastic and the performances are a real pleasure. It deals with the themes that run through most of Gay’s work – young men unsure of their place in the world and old men unwilling to give up their’s, (except that the younger man in this story aint so young.) The balance struck between McKinnon’s Lonzo Choat and Hal Holbrook’s Abner Meecham is amazing. Neither man is wrong, but both are fooling themselves and neither are willing to bend to the blowing winds. Watching these two characters go at each other’s will, I was reminded constantly of Walter and The Dude’s conversation from The Big Lebowski:

Walter: Am I wrong?

The Dude: No, Walter, you’re not wrong, you’re just an asshole.

Please, go check this movie out. I want to be rich. Oooh, and maybe I will be. Scott and I are gearing up to visit Los Angeles next week with some scripts we’ve got nibbles on. Nibbles translates to exactly $0.00, but who knows? I’m done, jinxing them, now. While I’m there, I hope to see Jordan Harper and hey, Jimmy Callaway if you ever get out of the whale’s vagina,(San Diego, kids), I’ll be in the neighborhood. Last time I was there, I saw Kim Coates at a hotel bar. Didn’t say ‘hi’ or nothin cause I’m so cool, but now, as I’m watching the second season of Sons of Anarchy, I keep thinking maybe I should have. Eh, Scott’s gonna introduce me to all the big shots out there anyhow.

Speaking of Mr. Phillips, his new novel Rut will be published by Stona Fitch’s Concord Free Press in October and if you want a copy, all you have to do is make a donation to charity. What charity? You choose. How much? You choose. Just let CFP know so that they can track the money on their website. Go on over and give it a gander. They’ve put together some quality publications in the last couple years and raised no small nut for some worthy causes.

While we’re talking publishers, Mulholland Books, though they’ve not released a single title yet, have really gone to the wall with their website. They’ve published some great little essays by the likes of Tom Piccirilli, George Pelecanos, Megan Abbott, Laura Lippman, Charles Ardai, Allan Guthrie, Ken Bruen , Ray Banks and Charlie Huston. I dunno how long they can keep up that pace. I'm getting tired just posting links.

And while not a publishing house, Steve Weddle and company, over at the absolutely independent no strings on me club that is Needle magazine, have announced an exciting new development. Over the course of their next three issues, they’ll be publishing a novel length serial by Mr. Ray Banks. I like the sound of that. That’s a quality little magazine they do, yes sir.

If you don’t know Mr. Banks, you can read a bit about him over at Ransom Notes, or even better, you could get a taste in the current issue of Needle. Or how about checking the archives at Out of the Gutter or Crimefactory, or hell, just go get one of the novels. Yeah, I think that’s a safe bet, you’re gonna like what you read.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Right on my netflix list. I loved him in Deadwood and the other actor (Groggins) in Justified. Life can be wonderful some days.

Rod Norman said...

Terrific Film, & William Gay has been overlooked for way to long. I hope we can see your screenplay coming too light someday soon.