Thursday, September 21, 2006

Got to stop being an idiot about celebrities!

I interviewed Barrie Osborne for an article I'm writing for Idealog magazine. Maybe it's because he was on the special features of Lord of the Rings, or I don't know, but I was really nervous.

Thankfully, I got my well-crafted questions out to him and got some really good answers, but really, I've got to stop going weak at the knees whenever I speak to someone who's (gasp!) actually on IMDb!

Got to stop being an idiot about celebrities!

I interviewed Barrie Osborne for an article I'm writing for Idealog magazine. Maybe it's because he was on the special features of Lord of the Rings, or I don't know, but I was really nervous.

Thankfully, I got my well-crafted questions out to him and got some really good answers, but really, I've got to stop going weak at the knees whenever I speak to someone who's (gasp!) actually on IMDb!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Kinda sorta GO KIWI!!

Boing Boing: LonelyGirl15: Jessica Rose is the fake Hollywood videoblogger.

I'm a bit behind on this one... just found out that LonelyGirl15 is a NZ actress.

Okay, so everyone's complaining that she's a fake, but what a great fake US accent! Give the girl some credit!

Quite interesting to listen to all the reaction. The blogosphere ... or youtubeosphere ... or internetivilisation ... um... what was I saying? Oh yeah, people who use social networking-type sites have a very low tolerance for perceived bullshit.

Mammoth Movie weekend!

My dearest is in Australia, so I'm watching lots and lots and lots of movies.

Friday it was Angela's Ashes, one of the most heartwarming tales of suffering I've ever seen. Absolutely lovable. Interesting to see the comparisons with An Angel at My Table - one of the same screenwriters (Laura Jones), the word "Angel" in the title, and they're both the story of a writer who overcomes poverty and a difficult childhood to use their pain as an impetus for literary creativity.

Then it was Nagoyqatsi - Life as War, a dizzying journey of music and image. Slightly unsettling, which was the idea I guess. Best part for me was in the NYU discussion panel in the special features part of the film, where editor of the New York Times asks Philip Glass (composer) and Godfrey Reggio (writer/director) whether there's a religious or spiritual element.

Reggio told of his youth as a monk, where he didn't see that many movies. But one Spanish movie really caught his attention, and that of the young people he worked with, many of whom were in gangs and alienated from their families. Each week they wanted to see this film - "it was like going to church", he said. When a movie has that much resonance, when it creates community and alienates alienation, I think it's hit the mark.

(Naqoyqatsi is the third of a trilogy. I watched the second, Powwaqqatsi, back here)

Finally, the brilliant Adaptation. Sort of kind of hard to follow, but I didn't really care -this entertained me very deeply as a writer. Nicolas Cage is good - although not convincingly fat! - as are all the other cast members. No wonder some people say Charlie Kaufman is one of the greatest writers around.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

An Angel at My Table (1990)

I just heard on The Writing Show that writers are more likely to have a sibling who has schizophrenia. The implication being that successful writers are this close but only this close to crazy.

I agree.

An Angel at My Table shows how in some cultures and eras that line between creative/shy and officially insane is easy to cross. Janet Frame spent eight years in a mental hospital under a wrongful diagnosis of schizophrenia.

Janet's is a troubled and troubling journey, but one word just kept coming to me as I watched this: delightful. This is a hard journey, but unlike Cape Fear, you're touched instead of discouraged.

Kerry Fox in her first role out of film school is wonderfully transparent. She puts on screen the feelings we've all experienced of not belonging, of being afraid to reach out, of not knowing who you are and what you have to offer.

Watching a movie this well-made about one of New Zealand's best-known authors made me want to read more NZ literature. That can only be a good thing eh!

Presentation Zen: Learning from the art of comics

Presentation Zen: Learning from the art of comics

Mental note - must buy this book.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Don't read this unless you've seen Fight Club

Last year at the Janet Roach screenwriting workshop it seemed like everyone had seen Fight Club except for me. And Janet Roach.

Finally, I have remedied the situation. And I'm so glad I did!

Sheer. Genius.

I was mentally writing my review as the film unfolded. Nihilism. Masculinity. Insecurity. Charismatic, manipulative leaders.

And then came the moment - or series of moments - when our main character realises that his best friend and worst enemy is himself. That would be quite weird, realising that you are actually Brad Pitt!

Anyway, this was one of those movies where you feel absolutely spoiled. Cinematically, it's so well done and crammed with details. Story-wise, it's deliciously ambiguous in its philosophy, so your mind is constantly trying to decide if you agree with what each character is doing or saying.

I love stories like this - and A Beautiful Mind, and The Sixth Sense - where in one moment you have to revisit everything you've seen thus far, and see it in a new light. Brilliant.

Good special features from the technical side, with footage of location scouts right through production, but very little on how on earth they came up with that story. That was quite a disappointment.

Thankfully I also had information about Fight Club in the book I'm reading at the moment, the Sundance Kids, and a book I haven't started yet, What Just Happened?: Bitter Hollywood Tales from the Front Line (which I see is being made into a movie, as is another book I've read, Down and Dirty Pictures. Movies about movies haven't done too well in the past...)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Sione extras the way to go

It's good to see that Sione's Wedding the DVD will be jam-packed with extras as a way of combating piracy. Good thinking!

To take the preacher David Wilkerson way out of context, if you see a dog gnawing on a bone, are you going to try and take away the bone, or offer a juicy steak? Which will be more effective at getting the dog to leave the bone?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

American History X

It's incredible when you consider American History X was the first feature film for both its director and screenwriter.

It's a violent story, not only in the obvious physical violence (explicit and implied) but it's intellectually violent in the portrayal of a racist, hate-filled worldview.

Edward Norton's Derek character pre- and post-prison sentence are almost two different characters, and the way this story is put together shows you how he became both of those people.

Scariest scene is the flashback to Derek's father, inculcating his sons with racism of the head. It all starts in the head before it works its way to the fist.

For an American film about America with America in the title, it's puzzling that this film made over 70% of its income overseas. What does that say of America?

Maybe Shylaman's not so crazy after all

I love getting both sides of the story. I've only seen the trailer for Lady in the Water and heard Mark Kermode's review.

It's all pants according to Dr. Kermode, almost as bad as Pirates of the Caribbean! He just couldn't handle the absolute ridiculousness of the story, not to mention Shylaman's cameo as a "great writer who would change the world"!

So my mind was made up. Not really worth my time to watch Lady in the Water.

But two facts persuade me to give it a second look.

1) Paul Giamatti. Everything I've seen this guy in - namely Sideways, Cinderella Man and the trailer for The Illusionist (oh yes and the Lady in the Water trailer) - he has been fantastic.

2) This interview with M.Knight Shylaman. Some choice bits:

Shyamalan ... conceived Lady in the Water as a bedtime story for his children.

"With this story, my two girls became obsessed by it and would draw the characters. I had a great time telling it, which is a different process to me going in there by myself and writing," Shyamalan says.
"There's a quiet suspense in this movie, and a lot of comedy because everyone takes the story kind of farcically at first. And part of the fun was to tell the most absurd story that I told my kids and then have you, through the course of the movie, laugh at it, and then slowly start to take it seriously and it becomes tragic and then grounded and real and has metaphoric qualities."

So he knows it's kind of ridiculous. I like the idea of a kids' story that doesn't make sense, but you like anyway.

Sometimes in the interview, Shylaman sounds like a crazed prophet. Other times he is reassuringly human, like this:

"A wife with a PhD in psychology is not something I'd recommend."

I'd better watch out! :)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Sideways (2004)

These day, Sideways is a film you hear about before you see it. It is so raved about by critics and fans.

And for good reason. Great story, great actors, great scenery. And you can almost taste the wine that is being sniffed, swilled, swallowed and uncorked throughout this story.

Interestingly, it was one Marie didn't like, because she doesn't watch movies to see people like us; she wants to see people who we can aspire to.

I, on the other hand, liked it for the exact reason my wife didn't: these are warm, human, intensely believable characters.

The only bummer (pardon the pun; you'll see what I mean) was the two rather explicit sex scenes. They were funny - as they were intended to be - but I'd rather not see other people having sex. I think a lot of other moviegoers would agree with me.

But the movie also has the best bedroom scene I've ever seen: Miles (Paul Giamatti) kisses Maya (Virginia Madsen) and they disappear inside the door. The camera modestly looks away at the neighbouring houses, and night becomes day - then the camera pans back to the door. Beautifully done.

Friday, September 01, 2006

NZ screen industry worth $2.6 billion - NBR

National Business Review (NBR) - Business, News, Arts, Media, Share Market & More