Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Well, I guess I wrote my last post a little too soon. The speech is over already.
I think one of the things that rubbed me the wrong way the most was his defense of his Domestic Surveillance Program. Of course, he replaced the word "Domestic" with "Terrorist."
I don't know. At the end of the day, Bush really just annoys me. At the end of the day, this speech was full of warm fuzzies that probably won't make any headway, one way or the other. Do you really think Bush is behind decreasing American independence on oil? I don't.
Do you really think the status quo is going to change?
Cindy Sheehan was arrested in the gallery before the speech because she had a t-shirt with a slogan on it beneath the rest of her clothes. Apparently, demonstrating at the capitol is a misdemeanor. And if by demonstrating, you mean wearing a t-shirt.
What is the world coming to?
As far as the speech, so far, it's pretty much "same old, same old." Bush did say a couple of things I can get behind (better spending and education in math and science, etc) but said some things that were pretty god-damn stupid (make the tax cuts permanent, etc.)
He just generally makes me sick.
And I don't like what I've been hearing about these stupid and ill-advised Private Health Care accounts.
I'm watching it on MSNBC and I'm not sure why. I bet Fox would be more entertaining.
Then the movie starts and it's not a 35mm print. They're projecting a DVD onto the largest screen in the valley. Needless to say, it was a bit pixelly.
Anyhow, the movie is amazing. They just don't make movies like that anymore. It's simple and fun, it's the kind of "mindless" action movie I could go see every week. But now, mindless action movies really are just that. Heartless, too. They have even less heart than they do smart.
Anyhow, what I'm getting at is that even though the presentation wasn't that great and it was a 10:00 am showing, the movie was amazing and I would encourage everyone to give it another look. Filmmakers especially need to give it another look because it's an excellent example of how to take your time and build your sequence of events very carefully. None of the ridiculous fast cutting and inciting incidents on page 10 here. You get told what the mission is, you're introduced to the team and you watch as they fail or succeed as only they can.
And the monologues David Niven gets. That guy is good. And Gregory Peck and Anthony Quinn are just fun to watch. They don't make men like that anymore. They kick ass without having to be robbing a bank or firing off snappy one-liners. They have class and they don't relish killing. They can be gentle or cunning within a moments notice. And they don't seem as though they have to impress anyone.
I just love movies like this. People should make more like them. It beats the hell out of remakes of old TV shows.
I don't care what you have to say about Revenge of the Sith as a film, the special effects certainly warranted a nomination. As did the costumes and the sound.
Also, Period Pieces need to be disqualified from the "Best Costume" design category. It's admirable that these Costume Designers can do some research and copy some period costumes out of books, but check out the costume design in movies like Star Wars. It takes a lot more work, in my opinion. Also, I was told by costume experts that the costumes in Pride & Prejudice weren't accurate any how.
I don't know. I shouldn't be worked up. These awards don't mean anything. Remember how best picture 1997 was Titanic when it was up against As Good as it Gets and LA Confidential? Remember how the Matrix won best sound and visual effects over Phantom Menace? Clearly, these people are morons.
They're lucky Jon Stewart is hosting, otherwise I probably wouldn't even bother this year.
Monday, January 30, 2006
What this says to me is that 39% of the country is insane. In Utah, however, we have a higher number of people who wear blinders on a daily basis, so the level of insanity, here in Utah is 73% of the LDS population and 30% of the non-LDS population.
What does Bush have to do next to convince people he's a bad leader and an immoral one? We live in a state where morality is placed on a pedestal but dissent against immorality in the form of Republicans is blasphemy. I read today in the New York Times that the budget proposals going through are going to "most likely" remove a third of all children from medicaid. That's moral? These guys need to be stopped, but we'll never do it if people can't see true immorality. It's immoral to see a booby on television, but it's okay to starve a child in poverty. It's immoral to see a suggestive comment on a film trailer, but killing Iraqi's is all in a day's work. It's immoral to get a blow-job and lie about it, but to lie about something like WMD and send in 2000+ soldiers to their deaths is just doing our part. It's a stain on your soul to watch an R-rated movie, but 100,000+ dead Iraqi civilians is cause to fly an American flag from the window of the Hummer. It blights the soul to drink alcohol, but reducing greenhouse gasses and protecting the environment and being good to the Earth sounds like communism. Christians are judged by how they treat the least among them, but not Republican Christians, poor people don't count.
Man. I'm not a fan of organized religion. My stay in Utah has cured me of the desire to seek it out.
Sunday, January 29, 2006
I'm very interested to see how Bush is going to sugarcoat all of his woes into a resounding battle cry on Tuesday. The State of the Union has never held much interest for me as, mainly, it just pisses me off (or has since 2001 or so...).
I would bet that he's going to use this opportunity to try and rally the troops and get the American people fired up enough to vote Republican this November. Or he's going to try frightening them into voting Republican which has seemed to work for every election this century.
I'm assuming he'll also tell everyone how dumb they are for not supporting his domestic spying program.
What a tool.
We'll just have to wait and see
Friday, January 27, 2006
THIS DIVIDED STATE opened theatrically this week at The Plaza Theatre in Calgary. (That's somewhere in Canada). Tonight, we received an email from someone who had just attended a screening:
"Dear filmmakers -
I just arrived home from viewing your film in Calgary Alberta Canada. I myself am an upstanding tithe-paying returned-missionary relief-society sister and was quite fascinated by the fracas surrounding the visit of M. Moore to UVSC.
I regret that probably very few members of the church took the opportunity to see this film in Calgary, as it really makes one consider the folly of using religion as a justification for contention and narrow-mindedness, war mongering and hate mongering.
It was a good reminder to me to never be too smug about the "superiority" of my religious beliefs and an impetus for me to remain true to my left-leaning political views.
Thanks for your documentary. Keep it up.
(B.A., Philippines San Pablo Mission 2002-2003, Institute graduate)"
I was able to see "TV Junkie." It was pretty good. I can't even begin to imagine how difficult it must have been to cut. It's about a small time celebrity ("Inside Edition's" "Adventure guy," Rick Kirkham) who happened to have started filming himself and his diary since he was 16. They had to cull over 3000 hours of footage (the film said 3000, IMDb says 5000) into a film that had an arc and an interesting story to tell. Turns out, the guy was a crack-cocaine addict and not that great of a husband. It was interesting to see a documentary window into life that you don't normally get to see on screen. There's a brief, candid moment of sex. There's family disputes (these are especially hard to watch because they all seem to occur in front of children). There's drug and alcohol binges. It's all in here. I enjoy watching these moments, even if some of them are a train wreck of family problems. Maybe that's a little sadistic of me.
But I thought the film was excellent although I can't see it finding wide-distribution.
There's only one problem I had with the film and it's the title. I never once saw the guy watching TV and the documentary barely shows him when he's on TV. He does say at one point in the film that he's a "video" junkie, which makes sense. So, I thought "Video Junkie" would have made a much better title.
I'm also boggled by the idea that this Kirkham character would hand over 3000 candid hours of his life, particularly his most personal moments to be shown to audiences the world over. That's a brave thing. It's admirable if it can get people to quit crack-cocaine or get them to stop using it in the first place.
I know I'll sure as hell never touch the stuff. I probably wouldn't have anyway before seeing this picture, but I'll be doubly sure to avoid it now.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
This is probably only important to me and like three other people in the world but I care, so that's what is important.
Here is the link to the trailer to Robotech: Shadow Chronicles. For all of you who wondered what ever happend to Admiral Rick Hunter and the SDF-3, this should answer those questions.
Robotech helped shape my youth and I still watch it with my son now and again. It's an amazing piece of science fiction. I would highly recomend it to anyone who's a fan of good sci-fi. It's just a really, really entertaining. Cheesy at times, but entertaining and excellent.
-Rick Hunter to Commander Roy Fokker
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
I got in the wait line for "KZ" a documentary about the holocaust and struck out.
Sundance - 2, Bryan - 0.
I met a student there who'd seen "This Divided State" as well. He said it was one of the best documentaries he'd ever seen.
I also picked up a flyer for a blog about Sundance. They had postcards everywhere, so I assumed that it would be big and have some pretty in depth coverage, but it looks like our coverage is more comprehensive. Who knows if they'll pull it together by the end of the festival though.
We also went to the box office to see if we couldn't get tickets to the 11:30 Wristcutters tonight. No luck. They need less films and more venues.
Seattle Filmmakers VIP Dinner
THANK YOU FOR SMOKING Afterparty
The Hollywood Reporter Party
Seattle Sundance VIP Party
ART HOUSE CONFIDENTIAL Afterparty
In addition, I met with 9 potential investors who all seemed very interested in the project I'm currently producing. One actually shook my hand and said, "I can offer the first $1 million." I'm telling you, man. 2006 will be the year.
Bryan and I in Deer Valley waiting for a bus. Pouring snow.
The Seattle Filmmakers VIP Dinner. This was superb. Just 20 VIPs sitting around a lodge talking film and business.
The THANK YOU FOR SMOKING afterparty. This was taken at about 12:30am.
Aaron Eckhart and Me at the THANK YOU FOR SMOKING PARTY at about 1:30am.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Michel Gondry's film "The Science of Sleep" sold for $6 million to Warner Independant. It's got Gael Garcia Bernal in it. I've heard good things about it and Michel Gondry directed one of the best movies ever (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind).
Also, Elias keeps telling me that we should try to see "American Hardcore" which is a documentary about the early roots of the punk movement. It's playing at midnight this Saturday.
The parking situation up there kind of made me pissed off at first, but now that I've gotten used to the idea it's really good. You park up in Deer Valley (which is a couple of miles out of town) and then take a free bus in. The busses run, for free, until 2:20 am. It's actually gotten easier to park, even though you're parking farther away.
Monday, January 23, 2006
Sundance is officially too big for its britches. I spent two hours in line in 14 degree weather for a movie (The Illusionist) playing in an 1,800 seat theatre (the Eccles) and I didn't even get a wait-list number for a chance to get a ticket. It looked like a good movie and anything set in 1900 Vienna with illusionists and magicians as leads (particularly Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti and Rufus Sewell) seemed like a good time to me. Steve got into their afterparty, but I couldn't get into the movie.
This is the first time I showed up to a movie at Sundance with more than 25 minutes to start time and I didn't get in.
I ended up driving to a Salt Lake venue and watching Woody Allen's Hitchcock-esque "Match Point" which was very good.
I spent a considerable amount of time on Main Street yesterday as well. Elias and I opined previously that a filmmaker going to Park City's Main Street during the festival is the High School equivalent of going to the mall. You go there even though there's nothing to do and the food is overpriced and you just hang out and see if you spot any of the cool kids you happen to know or want to know.
You also have to avoid the dumb kids and the scenesters.
Steve has been having a lot of luck at parties though, and I'll let him explain those when he's good and ready. We've all been passing out and recieving copious amounts of business cards and organizing meetings. Hopefully we can parlay that into some cool announcements soon.
Saturday, January 21, 2006
We've been doing meetings and things with people about some forthcoming projects up at the festival. I wanted to list a few of the films I want to see while we're up there. Whether I get to see them or not is anyone's guess.
1) Wristcutters (Tom Waits and Patrick Fugit are in it)
2) Thank you for smoking
3) Alpha Dog (d:Nick Cassavetes)
4) The Science of Sleep (d: Michel Gondry)
So, those would be my four top picks. And I also heard a rumour someone acquisitioned a film in excess of millions about a Jon-Benet Ramsey like young beauty queen.
Friday, January 20, 2006
As far as how we did, I think we went over peoples heads and we tried to fit too much in to a 3 minute short. Besides, I don't think anyone in the audience had seen "On the Waterfront" or "Psycho." Technically, ours was one of the best. As far as audience reaction, it was decidedly lukewarm.
I also felt bad for laughing at most of the dramatic ones. But... They deserved it.
On top of that, Tuesday morning at 10 am for the next 2 Tuesdays, you'll find me at the SCERA. This Tuesday, they're showing "North by Northwest" and the Tuesday after "Guns of Navarone." Both on 35mm prints. It'll be good times for sure.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
This seems like a big deal. But if you ask me, it's a brilliant political ploy on the part of Osama bin Laden. Think about what he's asking for. He's asking for a peaceful truce if we basically adhere to "fair conditions" which seems to me to mean: get out of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Here's an excerpt here:
The speaker cites unspecified polls that "show the Americans don't want to fight the Muslims on Muslim land, nor do they want Muslims to fight them on their land." However, he says, Bush has ignored the polls and "claims that it's better to fight his enemies on their land rather than on American land."
The speaker continues, "In response to the substance of the polls . . . we do not mind offering a long-term truce based on just conditions that we will stick to. We are a nation that Allah banned from lying and stabbing others in the back. Hence both parties of the truce will enjoy stability and security to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan, which were destroyed by war."
These are perfectly logical and reasonable statements. But what this is going to do is galvanize the conflict. George Bush has said that he will "not negotiate with terrorists." So, even if there was a chance of peace, it's not going to happen this way. Next, bin Laden uses very specific ideas in this tape that echo calls of Americans from the left and the center. What this is going to do, sadly so, is drive a wedge further between left and right. How quickly do you think you'll be taunted with, "you sound just like Osama," or, "if you're for pulling out, that's what the terrorists want, and that makes you a terrorist," or, "you stupid liberals, if we pull out, the terrorists win."
You'll also get Bush and co. and the Fox News pundits screaming that because of this message, the last thing we can ever do is pull out, because that's what the terrorists want. I would argue that they do want us out, but they'd almost rather have us stay. We're a much better enemy to them when we're there killing them in person.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe George Bush will come to his senses and realize there are just as many political solutions to the "war on terror" as imagined military ones. I doubt it, but it's possible.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
PT Anderson is an amazing filmmaker and I've adored all of his previous films. I can't wait to see what he does with Daniel Day Lewis. His turn as Bill the Butcher in Gangs of New York was both awe-inspiring and jaw-dropping.
This is certainly going to be an interesting movie to watch.
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Like I said, I don't care that he didn't want to show the movie. What I care about is that his company entered into agreements to show it, took out ads and sold tickets and then decided not to show it. That's just bad times and last I checked breach of contract is against the law. I bet it cost him a pretty penny, what with ticket refunds and on top of that he probably had to buy out every theatre for every showtime for the whole week he agreed to show it.
I mean, as a first run theatre owner in a community as diverse as Salt Lake county, I'd be dying to show the Golden Globe winner for Best Picture at my theatre. I'd rake in the cash. But he's still willing to show depraved acts of torture in Hostel.
On a side-note, I'd bet Brokeback Mountain is less homo-erotic than professional basketball.
Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside about what your government is up to, doesn't it?
Now, Pakistan is demanding an apology, and I think they deserve one.
It's funny how Scott Mclellan says something and then a reporter at the AP does a few minutes of simple research to add shades of gray to the situation and makes Scott seem like an uninformed dolt who's merely given talking points.
Besides, the "they did it once, maybe, too" defense doesn't change the fact that the law has been broken by Bush. Just because someone else may have broken the law doesn't make it okay for your boy to do it, too.
Monday, January 16, 2006
But who knows. I think that was the big problem with the 2000 election, no one was really sure who was worse candidate. I was 100% sure both candidates sucked. That's why I voted for Nader.
Some good highlights of the speech:
It was a very, very well written speech. I really wish Gore could have made as impassioned and intelligent speeches back in 2000. It's a little late now. It seems as though losing their respective elections was the best thing in the world for Gore and Kerry, although it was the worst thing in the world for countless others pressed under the thumb of this administration, be it the poor here at home or those under the barrel of a gun abroad.
In the words of George Orwell: "We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield."
Whenever power is unchecked and unaccountable it almost inevitably leads to mistakes and abuses. In the absence of rigorous accountability, incompetence flourishes. Dishonesty is encouraged and rewarded.
Moreover, too many Members of the House and Senate now feel compelled to spend a majority of their time not in thoughtful debate of the issues, but raising money to purchase 30 second TV commercials.
There have now been two or three generations of congressmen who don't really know what an oversight hearing is. In the 70's and 80's, the oversight hearings in which my colleagues and I participated held the feet of the Executive Branch to the fire - no matter which party was in power. Yet oversight is almost unknown in the Congress today.I call upon Democratic and Republican members of Congress today to uphold your oath of office and defend the Constitution. Stop going along to get along. Start acting like the independent and co-equal branch of government you're supposed to be.
One of the other ways the Administration has tried to control the flow of information is by consistently resorting to the language and politics of fear in order to short-circuit the debate and drive its agenda forward without regard to the evidence or the public interest. As President Eisenhower said, "Any who act as if freedom's defenses are to be found in suppression and suspicion and fear confess a doctrine that is alien to America."
Fear drives out reason. Fear suppresses the politics of discourse and opens the door to the politics of destruction. Justice Brandeis once wrote: "Men feared witches and burnt women."
Second, new whistleblower protections should immediately be established for members of the Executive Branch who report evidence of wrongdoing -- especially where it involves the abuse of Executive Branch authority in the sensitive areas of national security.
I hate to say this, but Gore is right. Seriously, read the whole transcript or watch some of it if you can. It was a very competent speech, the kind we need to be hearing.
Maybe Gore is poising himself for an '08 Presidential bid. If he keeps giving speeches like this, he might have a shot.
Sunday, January 15, 2006
I loved the book and I think Kurt Vonnegut is a king among writers. Here's a good snippet:
Within a day or two we'll also put together a list of Sundance movies that we are planning on seeing. Whether we get to or not is anybody's guess. But we'll also get some reviews up for the ones we like.
And I realise some of you may be having trouble deciding whether I am kidding or not. So from now on I will tell you when I'm kidding.
For instance, join the National Guard or the Marines and teach democracy. I'm kidding.
We are about to be attacked by al-Qaida. Wave flags if you have them. That always seems to scare them away. I'm kidding.
5) Broken Flowers. I really like Jim Jarmusch and this movie gets better and better with extra viewings. Jarmusch is the king of awkward silence comedy.
4) King Kong. I've seen it three times and wish I had the time to go see it some more. Peter Jackson really just knows how to leave an audience breathless for 3 straight hours.
3) Sin City. 'Nuff said
2) Syriana. This movie, almost more than any other I've seen this year has made me want to go back and see it on a near constant basis since I saw it the first time.
And as though you couldn't guess my number one film of the year would be:
1) Star Wars - Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. This movie was amazing on every level for me. I was 12 years old again watching it. And watching it through the eyes of my 3 year old son makes it even better.
As far as runners-up: Batman, Walk the Line, Capote, Squid and the Whale, Munich, New York Doll, Serenity. There's others. Lot's of others.
These lists are stupid. I like Star Wars.
Saturday, January 14, 2006
OK, there are still a lot of films from 2005 that I still haven't seen yet, and they're probably amazing. These would include CAPOTE, KISS KISS BANG BANG, THE SQUID AND THE WHALE, MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS, etc. But, out of the films I DID see from 2005, here's my top 5:
1) BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (This is a perfect film. 100%. The best love story I've seen on screen other than ETERNAL SUNSHINE. It'll win Best Picture and I bawled my eyes out during the entire 3rd act)
2) MUNICH (see my review earlier on the BLOG, a masterpiece, Spielberg's best since... well in a long time)
3) SYRIANA (An emotinally draining film and intelligently crafted. Most Utahns probably left scratching their heads)
4) STATES OF GRACE (Forget about ALL the other films made by Mormons. Richard Dutcher's GRACE is powerful, heart-breaking, and inspiring)
5) KING KONG (A masterpiece. Absolutely brilliant. A step of genius for Peter Jackson. And, no, I didn't think Jack Black's last line was cheesy. It was perfect.)
RUNNERS UP NEW YORK DOLL, SIN CITY, CRASH, STAR WARS EPISODE III (seriously), MURDERBALL, and I think that's it.
My first real introduction to documentary filmmaking was FUTONMAKER, a film about a black man in Baltimore who finds faith in Jesus while making futons. It was 2001 and I had just gotten off my LDS mission in Venezuela. My best friend John got me a "job" at Fell's Point Futon. I say "job" because I wasn't technically hired, John just paid me under the table. While we were there, John shot a documentary about one of our co-workers, Melchizedek Todd. In the first cut, which was feature length, I played a role in it as well as some other futon workers. Since then, John has re-cut it and focused more on Mel's life. This new short has been accepted to the mega-big LDS Film Festival later this month. It'll be competing against Sundance for audience, but who cares? Its a good little short and I'm proud to have been a part of it.
LINK TO LDS FILM FESTIVAL
LINK TO FUTONMAKER
If I get any more info about it, I'll be sure to drop a line.
Friday, January 13, 2006
The administration sees the budget projection coming, they inflate the deficit number, bring reporters in and tell them the inflated number. Then they come in with the actual estimate at the end of the year and claim to be heroes because the number wasn't as high as their inflated estimate.
It's just changing history in advance and they've done it every time.
Dishonesty runs amok.
Thursday, January 12, 2006
It's been proven that Wal-Mart is a drain on the medic-aid system and if making them pay for it alleviates the problem, then good times.
Arlen Specter is going to hold hearings. That's a step. People are talking openly about the need for impeachment. That's another step. Bush broke the law and went against the Constitution. That's a huge step.
It looks like this might happen. But at the end of the day, what's it going to do? In a best case scenario, he's impeached and removed his office. But that's also the worse case scenario. Cheney succeds him. We're stuck with the architects of this oppresive regime until '08 regardless.
It's just frustrating to no end. But maybe at least by impeachment the world will know that American people are about as happy with Bush as they are.