Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
By ROBERT LEVINE
To respond to the challenge posed by digital media, newspaper executives are being told to listen to their readers. The San Francisco Chronicle is doing just that: It is posting some of the voice mail messages left for reporters and editors as audio files on its Web site, SFGate.com.
The first such voice mail message, posted Wednesday under the rubric “Correct Me If I’m Wrong ...” is about an error the reader says appeared in the Aug. 29 Chronicle, on page B6. “The subhead is a tautology — it says ‘Forest service begins testing pilotless drones,’ ” the increasingly agitated caller says. “Is there any other kind of drone? You tell me right now, is there any other kind of drone other than a pilotless drone? Isn’t that what a drone is, an unmanned aircraft?” (more)
direct SFgate.com complaint podcast
Sunday, January 28, 2007
Basically the film is gorgeous shots of the bridge from all over the Bay Area. Some close, others farther away. Then there are interviews with some of the surviving friends and families. My heart went out to them all. Not a single sense of pointing fingers. Instead I was moved by their love, understanding, and pain for their loved ones who'd fallen prey to devastating mental illness. That's the real culprit here - not the filmmakers, or the Bridge, but the tragedy of mental illness.
John tried to argue that jumping from the Golden Gate is a worst kind of suicide. It's certainly more kind to the finders. I have an acquaintance whose son slit his throat in her house. Imagine living with that image, as opposed to flying into the soaring seagulls, crashing waves, gorgeous blue of the Bay, and heavenly clouds wafting all around the Golden Gate Bridge. Tho I'm hardly a sci-fi gal, I found myself starting to think of the Bridge as a kind of portal to the next life. God's way of calling those who needed to hear. No, I don't take suicide lightly. But I don't think the film does either.
It's a gorgeous, thoughtful, deeply respectful film. I highly recommend it.
P.S. And this is what my friend wrote who I saw it with - I totally agree with her take. She goes deeper into some more specifics.
And here's the original Tad Friend piece in the New Yorker.
John and I had caught the film earlier this year at a New York Film Festival press screening, early in the morning, with a handful of enthusiastic cineastes. To some, it was glorious. I was a bit lost, searching for a shred of narrative. The elements familiar, certainly Lynchian. But the whole outside my "aha" grasp. (I've come to see Michel Gondry's magical The Science of Sleep as the perfect comparison film. See it and you'll see why. And if not, email me and ask.)
Nonetheless it was beyond exciting to be a part of the group to bring him here. John accompanied him on stage for the Q&A and was, as always, superb in that role. Lynch was Lynchian. His interview and stage persona the mix of "gee whiz life is beautiful, hmm I love coffee and TM", we've come to expect. The polar opposite to his filmic created dread and violence.
For those of you intrigued or thoroughly confused, the most interesting review of Inland Empire I've come across is by Jim Emerson, the editor for RogerEbert.com. I also recommend Ann Power's take on Lynch's subsequent appearence with Donovan in the L.A Times.
Now 2007. I walk around, overwhelmed with the sense of humour, of play. The brazen "we're young now." A movement of people hanging out, fooling around, and creating with their friends. Sara Driver, Jim Jarmusch, Richard Hell, Julian Schnabel, Eric Bogosian, Madonna, Barbara Kruger, Nan Goldin, Laurie Anderson, Art Spielgelman, Patti Smith. A sense of pride and of loss. As Amos Poe said when he visited with Blank Generation earlier this year, so many of the artists now gone: Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Robert Mapplethorpe, Cookie Mueller, Ana Mendieta, David Wojnarowvicz, Spalding Gray. He attributed it to the extremes of the times. Walking around this show feeling the sense of young promise, understanding how it's played out all these years later. I was never in the epicenter but I was definitely connected by what I saw, read, who I knew, what mattered then.
In a museum, with work carefully framed and hung, it's easy to loose sight of the origins. Living hand to mouth, obsessed with found (or created) objects, a belief in a way to see and what's worth seeing. Creating the work in the first place, then others completing the cycle by buying and exhibiting. I'm not an artist by nature. There is a true craziness to that kind of dedication. A simplicity. A serious commitment. This show moved me deeply. Because of my personal connection to the time, of course, before of the movement of time, yes, but because of the power of art to jog as well. I forget that sometimes. This show was a wonderful reminder.
If you missed the exhibit, check out the accompanying The Downtown Book.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
We didn't go to Sundance this year although of course it dominated our thoughts. How could it not? Our commitment and engagement too longfold. But what's it matter - in terms of this blog? Commenting on the commenting? Experiencing the festival in person is very different than following it in the papers and online. Because the story that gets written about is so much less than the whole experience. The tremendous diversity gets boiled down to what has previously been handful of sales, this year the explosion. Actually the bloggers have opened it up quite a lot. I was able to get more of a reading acquaintance with a greater variety of work, but it's still much of the same limited story over and over, and paltry compared to what one can experience firsthand.
Which makes it even worse to contribute to the noise surrounding Hound Dog which unfortunately I can't stop thinking about. The endless jawing over it's "appropriateness" steals too much ink and attention from other deserving films. A jewel like Chris Smith's The Pool which premiered at the Raquet Club on Monday is clobbered by the din of the Hound Dog show which followed.
Not that I wouldn't be right in there fighting for the right to depict child rape and sex abuse. I would. Like with the failure of abstinence only sex education - you can't just wish away problems. Rape exists and pretending it doesn't is only more harmful. I applaud Dakota Fanning's support of her work, and intent, and speaking out against those who are trying to use her for their own means. But how is that affected by the film's quality? If it's not successful, what good is any of this? It's just more noise and clutter. The contrived controversy - first the Catholic League's parasitic attack, then the necessary defense, take up space from other discoveries and deserving films. I'm not naive, I understand how publicity works. I'm just not happy about it.
I read the script about ten years ago. I met the writer/director casually - I can't even remember now exactly why. I think she moved into my rural town and we met in a yoga class. She knew I was involved with film. My vague memories mesh exactly with the reviews I've been reading. But what's interesting to me is not my failing memory or tendency to name drop, it's the tenacity of the filmmaker. She's been working on this same story for over ten years. Do I admire that? You know, I'm not sure. Ten years is a long time. In that time, she's written and produced two feature films, I've written and directed none. But still, ten years to tell that specific story? With my ever waffling mind, I find that boggling.
David Lynch was in Austin the other night (more about that later) and he repeated over and over that the artist's job was to "catch ideas." So the question is, what are the ideas worth building your life around? It's just that tenacious commitment that defines the artists from the wannabes. I find myself struggling with that as I work on a current book. Steadfastly holding on this idea for well over a year, yet not quite sure of the validity. It's that hesitation that's my downfall. Or is it? You spend ten years on one thing and it doesn't quite come together...has it been worth it?
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Last night I took some deep breaths, and conquered my little fears, to attend my studio's monthly salsa social. I knew it was time to take the dancing up a notch. And I was hoping that I was a regular enough that I'd find some dancing partners. But it was still a gamble. I didn't know who else would show, and really didn't know if they would choose to dance with me. In a class, it's easy - everyone dances with everyone else. In a social it's free choice. I don't remember being much of a wallflower in 7th grade but the fear still exists. So I tried not to arrive too early. Then I stopped by a nearby Starbucks when the parking lot seemed too empty. Finally I went in. There were only a few people there -and all couples. I took some more deep breaths. Chatted up the studio teachers running the show. A stranger asked me to dance and was both patiently teaching me and criticizing. Ugh. I watched some fantastic pairs doing the real thing, chatted them up, and appreciated their words of encouragement and inspiration. Eventually one of my favorite partners showed and we started to dance. A lot. Simply. Cracking each other up, easy with each other as we tried to figure out what to do. It was great to feel that comfortable. I stayed for hours - enjoying some terrific dances along with some misfires. But the vibe was fun and supportive and I'm exhilarated and thrilled I traveled outside my comfort zone to go.
Friday night, John and I met our daughter to check out The Hitcher - in what we thought might be her first onscreen movie credit. She wanted to see how her work turned out. Not my normal movie fare -- too gory and terrifying. But the leads were cute and everything actually looked great. Lovely to be there with our production gal. As John and I cracked up enjoying the coming attractions (particularly for Hot Fuzz, which looks hilarious) our daughter said, "See you're the only people I can see movies with because you laugh out loud. No one else does that."
January 20, 2007, 1:41 pm
Attending a film festival, especially one with the endless possibilities of Sundance, may be just a bit of fun for some folks, but the pros — the Bagger is a newbie so he doesn’t count — treat it like a bloodsport. The point is not just to see most of the hot movies, but to see them first. It’s a brutal pastime.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
The Sundance Kids
For alumni of America’s most prestigious film festival, winning is less than half the battle
By SCOTT FOUNDAS
Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - 6:00 pmOne morning, Gary Walkow was suddenly transformed into a successful Hollywood filmmaker. Gone were the hat-in-hand searches for financing, the deferred salaries, the long shooting days with undermanned crews and the months upon years spent touring the festival circuit while seeking a distribution deal. For a moment, he was taking calls by the dozen instead of waiting for the phone to ring. Producers happy to fund whatever project he desired were making a beeline to his door. And then, as abruptly as someone yelling “Cut!” Walkow awoke to find himself still seated at the desk of his broom-closet-size office at the Santa Monica Airport, where he comes every day to write, a stopwatch close at hand.... (more)
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
I'm Sundance Bound!
My friend Errol Morris didn't exactly love going to the Sundance Film Festival. He used to say that he prepared for the trip by locking himself in a deep freeze for a day with a guy who talked incessantly on a cel phone. One year, Errol took the flight from Cambridge to Salt Lake City, rented a car and drove out to Park City. Just as he was stepping out of his car into the cold Utah air, he spied a director of photography he particularly disliked. He had fired the cameraman (now an Academy Award nominee) on the very first day of shooting of his debut film, "Gates of Heaven." I don't really know what upset Errol more--that it was cold or that this dude was the first thing he laid eyes on--but he got right back in his car, drove back to Salt Lake City and flew home. (more)
Interesting to consider this approach and if it can really stand up to scrutiny. Wondering if it's more than platitudes. I know in my own life how much happier I've become in general, and how that feeds on itself.
It was sent to me by my good friend Susan Kaiser Greenland who after many years of dreaming amidst the demands of her thriving law practice, created InnerKids, an organization devoted to teaching Mindful Awareness to children in pre-K through Middle School. I love their tagline: Simple As Breathing: Attention, Balance, Clarity & Compassion..the new ABC's. Worth a look.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Saturday, January 13, 2007
This is all he needed for X-mas. Or should we call it XY-mas. There's definitely something about testosterone and a recliner. God it made him happy. He said he'd wanted one as long as he could remember. His friend Tim came by and yelled, " And it's leather!!! You are so lucky!"
But I felt like it was a time for a check in after the Taking Flight post. Some of you might be wondering, so? So, it's been pretty great. Amazing to see the 19-year-old slide smoothly into her own life. The relationship going strong and steady, surprisingly still free of the jagged drama so many experience. They're having fun together, they're happy to hang with us, they're moving ahead in multiple directions in their own lives. Dreaming of where next, what skills to develop along the way, how to keep life interesting. We had dinner together last night with a couple of other friends (and not for the first time, actually the third where I actively invited some of my friends closer to their age, who I thought they might enjoy.) And it was lovely. It's not just that I get a kick out of who my daughter is. I get a kick out of how easily we can hang together. Each clearly delineated. That's not always the case with parents and kids. That's what the whole separation process is about. And now that I'm on the other side, I get it. It's a tremendous relief in both directions. (I can't remember if I've mentioned it before best the very best book on the subject that I've ever come across is, Get Out Of My life But Could You Drive Me & Cherly to the Mall, by Anthony E. Wolf. Short, funny, dead-on, extremely useful.)
It's great on its own but of course, having exposed my family to someone else's creative narrative, and taken a fair amount of shit for our parenting because of it (see Netflix user comments for a quick immersion), I can't help but feel proud, relief, and how very off the director and finger pointers were. Yes it got messy along the way, but it was worth it. The process had a real purpose on both sides.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
"Cinematographer is the kind of person who's always pushing... getting into trouble.. and how do you get out?!"
Mulling, daydreaming, I realize the key is not to be embarrassed. It's a waste of time to think, "I'm fat, I'm not good enough. I can't do this." Doesn't serve anyone. The key is to relish it, to commit. And you can't commit if you're holding back, if you're insecure. You have to feel fabulous. At least I think that's right :) I think that's what I'll try. I know it's right.
Saturday, January 06, 2007
I don't know why. I can't describe in musical terms the beat I'm looking for - but I always recognize it. In the many recent articles on James Brown, they keep refering to the genius of "stressing the first and third beats rather than the second and fourth." I don't really understand what that means, but of course I recognize the examples cited as my favorites. The NYT wrote, “I changed from the upbeat to the downbeat,” Mr. Brown said in 1990. “Simple as that, really.” I'm not a musician, never studied music theory - I really don't know if it is that simple or not. I've just always loved the sound. In the old days, guys checking out my record collection used to say, "hmmm, James Brown? Rare for a girl to be into.."
The listening divide can be confusing when it comes up with friends. Yesterday on KUT-FM I heard a song that immediately grabbed my attention, "Complete or Completing" by The Annuals. Grabbed my attention so completely I dropped what I was doing and looked for it on Napster where I could hear it again in its entirety. (Not a download, or illegal download of old - that's what they offer now - a limited number of full streams.) Repeated it 4 times.
I checked to see if my good friend Matt had mentioned it in his Albums Worth Your Dime. He listens to tons of music and is a great source. Duh, it was right up top, on a blog entry I'd read an hour earlier. He'd mentioned it as one of his year's top 25. But he compared it to Arcade Fire - a critical darling group I could never get into at all. So now I'm totally confused. I go to Amazon.com to hear some samples (why not itunes? who knows - I check out different sources, different moments.) Click on the first track and no - I don't think they sound alike at all! Not one bit! The singer and the beat are profoundly different. So what is Matt hearing that's so different than me? This has happened before. He recently compared Sufjan Stevens' concert at the Paramount to "Imagine ELO fronted by James Taylor." I can't imagine what he's talking about except maybe that ELO and Sufjan both use violins. I can't put my finger on it, but I know I'm not hearing ELO with James Taylor's vocals. If I did, I wouldn't love Sufjan Stevens so much. Not to rag on Matt here :) I think we're really hearing the music differently.
In my salsa classes I don't have to count. That is, for the most part. I hear the beat. But I dance with partners who clearly don't, though they try. And when it comes to samba (the sound of Brazil), I hear it so much more clearly than anyone else. Which is odd. Why? I'm far from the best dancer in the room but it just makes perfect sense to me. Everyone else struggles. How am I hearing it differently? I'm not just talking about a preference - I love XTC, you don't. I'm talking about the very way the music makes itself known to us. Just really wondering about it.
Friday, January 05, 2007
Interesting too, because it reminds me of the one of more annoying facets of the whole Reel Paradise doc and post film experience. At Q&As people would always ask, "what's going on with the cinema now?" The answer of course - nothing. It's closed. It was just never clear in the film that we kept it open. We didn't start it. We didn't introduce American films to the island. We saved the cinema - prolonging it's life for one fun filled year (actually year and half) before its inevitable demise.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
From: Checking Out, In Style or in Turmoil by Alessandra Stanley
Anyone who thinks that elderly entertainers can gracefully retire and surrender the limelight don’t know anything about show business. As usual, the hardest-working man in it said it best.
In an interview he gave in 1989 while in prison for, among other things, a PCP-fueled high-speed car chase, Mr. Brown was asked how he was feeling.
“I’m well rested,” the singer replied. “But I miss being tired.”
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
David Carr, NYT media reporter and blogger (via Risky Biz blog reminder) on the demise of the newspaper habit.
In the house where I grew up, everybody ate breakfast at the same time. The younger ones would sit at the table elbowing one another for toast while my dad stood, drinking coffee and reading The Minneapolis Star Tribune.
He would mumble and curse at the headlines, check the sports and then tell us it was time to go. When my brother John became a teenager, he left the table and would eat his toast, leaning against the washing machine and reading the paper as well.
This, I thought, is what it means to be a grown-up. You eat your food standing up, and you read the newspaper. So I did the same thing when I turned 13. I still do. ....
When I was growing up, I remember staying up til 2, and hearing my father emerge from his attic workshop scrounging around for some chocolate. I've inherited both those habits. 2 a.m. is my steadiest bedtime. The 2am-10am a perfect sleep in fact. But lately I've been drifting later. It's 3am now, and for weeks I've been up til 4am. It's odd. John and I are shifting schedules, he keeps waking earlier and earlier. In the old days, he could burn the candle at both ends. Now that's changing and his early bird is taking hold.
He thought the natural rhythms in Fiji would change me. Daylight ran roughly from 6am to 6pm, all year round. We had the use of a generator for maybe 3 hours a night if that. So by 9-10pm, it was totally dark. Once and awhile I'd try using my laptop if I'd been able to charge it. Of course then all the bugs just went crazy flying into the screen, the only light around for miles. One would have thought I would just toss it in - go to sleep, and wake at dawn. But no, I climbed under the mosquito net with a flashlight, a book, my ipod, and would lay awake in the stillness for hours.
Meaningless for anyone else but amusing to me. Where does this come from?