A brief recollection of Eli Wallach
I used to videotape the sessions at the Actor’s Studio in the mid 90s. For a couple weeks Eli Wallach was the moderator. I was just supposed to record the actors performing the scene and then, when the scene was over, continue recording their reaction to the commentary from the moderator and the rest of the members present. I was not supposed to turn the camera and record the moderator or the other members.
Well this one member, one of the old crazies that used to (probably still do) frequent the establishment, kept asking me to film Wallach, presumably because Wallach didn’t moderate much and because he was a star and they wanted him on tape. But I was told the recording was strictly for the actors to look at later if they wanted to. It was supposed to be about them, not the moderator or anyone else. And I kept telling this dude that. But he asked me more than once to shoot Wallach and I was too young and intimidated to keep telling this guy no.
So at the third or fourth session, I positioned the tripod so that, when the scene was over, I could turn and get a shot of Wallach when he started talking, just so this man would stop hounding me about it. But just as the scene finished, Wallach picked up his chair and moved it RIGHT in front of my camera. The back of his head was like 5 inches in front of my lens. I don’t even think he realized there was a camera there. He couldn’t have. In any other setting I would have moved the camera, but not in that room, not at that moment. I was supposed to be totally inconspicuous. Anyway, I didn’t panic. I just raised the neck on the tripod up and over Wallach’s head just enough to see the actors he was talking to. I will never forget the framing — the top of Wallach’s head on the bottom of the frame, and, just above it, the two actors in the background looking at him, but looking pretty much right into the camera.
I was settling in, growing kind of proud of the shot, when I saw the old annoying dude out of the corner of my eye walk up to Eli Wallach, kind of sheepishly.
"Mr. Wallach, would you mind just moving your chair over there a little bit so we can get you in the shot?" He whisper it to him so low I wouldn’t have been able to hear him if I wasn’t reaching-distance away.
Wallach said, loudly and pointedly, “No, I will not MOVE over there so that I can get in the shot. This is not about ME. It’s about these people who just did the scene!!!”
The man slunk back to his seat. And for the rest of the session Wallach stayed right where he was, his bald head framing the bottom of my shot. I was giddy and fought off a smile the whole time.
Rest in peace, Mr. Wallach.
My first annual, random order, bad grammar, short paragraph, best of 2013
The Disaster Artist, 12 Years a Slave, Pope Francis, Bill DeBlasio, The Old Forge Blue Devils, good kid m.A.A.d city, Adele Exarchopoulos, Scriptnotes, Shane Carruth, The Perpetual Riff of Relative Things
Some quick thoughts upon finishing “The Disaster Artist”
I just finished reading “The Disaster Artist” by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell, about the making of The Room.
If you don’t know what The Room is, you need to correct that immediately. Just buy the blu-ray here. You won’t be sorry.
Then you need to read my interview with Tommy Wiseau, the man who made it. You can find that here. I still think it’s the definitive interview with the enigma that is Wiseau. But I guess other people should be the judge of that.
Then you need (and by this time you will desperately want) to buy “The Disaster Artist” (get a signed copy here). If you are like me, you will estimate that it will take you about 5 hours to read the 250+ page book, due mainly to an insatiable thirst for information about this mysterious man and exactly how he made this miracle of a movie. But once you start reading this incredibly entertaining, heartfelt and hilarious book, you will quickly realize that it is much wiser to take your time, like sipping a fine cognac.
Lots of readers are spouting superlatives, saying this is the funniest, or even the BEST book they’ve ever read. Well, let me tell you this, in my opinion, such statements are not exaggerations.
I honestly have NEVER laughed this much reading a book, I’m talking laughing out loud. I read part of it in a café and I kept thinking I was annoying people who thought I was exaggerating. How can a book be that funny? It is. It really is. Especially when you can hear Mr. Wiseau saying every word.
But really, these guys, Sestero and Bissell, have figured out a way to tell this story of loneliness, depression, and ‘film set suffering’ with such skill and constant read-ability, that it ends up being so much more than a look into the making of ‘the worst movie ever made’, they have actually performed a miracle — we feel like we understand Tommy Wiseau……. a little bit.
It’s also so nice to get a chance to learn more about Greg Sestero and his life before The Room. This, in and of itself, is a great tale of a struggling actor in LA. But throw in there the detailed account of the incredible relationship he had with the alien-like Wiseau, and you have an ‘odd couple’ story like no other.
I only wish this book would have come out before I sat down with Tommy Wiseau. That interview would have been entirely different. One of the questions I asked him was if he wrote The Room with Greg Sestero in mind to play Mark. His answer was evasive at best and for the most part nonsensical. But, it turns out, The Room is practically a cryptic, demented hymn to Sestero’s effect on Wiesau, as a rising actor, a threat and a friend. This adds so much to the experience of The Room, which is already a maxed out experience.
Tom Bissell, at the New York City book launch event, made a statement that I admired. He said he wasn’t happy with the level of ‘mean-ness’ he was witnessing at recent fan screenings of The Room. He said, In the beginning, I’m paraphrasing, there was a lot less of that. There was more joy at the screenings, more appreciation. I was happy to hear him say that this change upset him. That is also my feeling. It’s good to know that this book was written not from a place of mockery but appreciation. It can literally be felt on every page.
But I think the energy that is created at these screenings is really reflective of the energy that was put into it. It’s just churned, spun out and morphed into something else. Other films, good or bad, don’t stimulate this kind of thing. It’s not just because of how wonderfully awful it is. It’s also because we don’t get to see something so protected from outside forces on this scale, ever. Too many cooks spoil every pot, to one degree or another. Every film is swayed, either before or after production, by consensus of some kind. Even if the filmmaker has ultimate control, she is still swayed by ‘common sense’. Not Wiseau and not The Room. For this reason it is more special than hilarious. And if it’s anything, it’s hilarious.
I am thankful for this book for stimulating such thoughts, but there are so many other insights that the reader gets to delight in, so many great stories and moments in there. What a gift from Sestero to the fans of this film, to read and re-read again. And we will. Well done, gentlemen, your hard work has paid off.
website — peterrinaldi.com
Twitter — @peter_rinaldi
Spent a beautiful day in April with the incredible Bo Harwood. Made me feel like an old friend. (Click on the photo to go to the article)
The music Cassavetes wrote and recorded with Bo Harwood is almost available!
I wrote to Bo Harwood in 2009 asking him if the music he wrote and recorded with John Cassavetes would ever be made available.
The Harwood/Cassavetes collaboration started in 1971 with Minnie and Moskowitz. Harwood composed music for the films and wrote and recorded songs (some co-written with Cassavetes) that are both prominently featured and heard in the background as source music. Harwood claims that often Cassavetes used the “scratch track” version of his compositions rather than let Harwood refine it and re-record it with an orchestra. Some of these scratch tracks were actually recorded in Cassavetes office with just piano or guitar and ended up in the final film. Cassavetes appreciated the purity of these pieces and felt like that certain something wouldn’t survive the refinement process. Some of these compositions are in the films but most of the music they recorded together was never heard by the public.
He responded to my email, and I blogged about it on The Boutros Boutros Follies. The gist of it was that, at the time, he had put together some music for a potential CD release that would include a 26-page booklet detailing his working relationship with Cassavetes. He had some industry people potentially interested in releasing it. Needless to say, this was exciting news.
A year went by. I reached out to him again for an update. He said he ran into some legal issues “blocking the CD booklet.”
Another year went by, then another. I reached out again. No response. I started to lose hope.
Then, suddenly, a few days ago Harwood wrote to me with an exciting update. 20 tracks and a 60+ page booklet are going to be made available for purchase at boharwood.com in “2 or 3 weeks.”
Harwood writes: “The 20 selections are very diverse: edited improv sessions that segue into a song, raw, but finished songs, properly recorded songs and film cues (orchestrated). John co-composed 90% of the selections with me…I’m very nervous about putting out any music that I did with John because most of it is extremely raw and I’ll probably get my share of criticism because of the sound quality. We didn’t worry about it then so I’ll try not to worry about it now. I have several fans and other artists that are pushing me to get this out. I find it hard to put out our music, but I’m told that a lot of people will appreciate it. I’ve kept the price of the selections low (99¢ each or all 20 for $11.99) and with every purchase (even single purchases) you will be able to download the 60+page ‘History’ section as well as some photos… for free.”
I asked him if I can spread the word about this now, before the site is ready, and he said absolutely. In fact, the site should be up and running “sometime during the next week or so. Maybe sooner.”
Again, the site is boharwood.com
This should be thrilling news for Cassavetes fans the world over. Fingers crossed.
After Newtown: A (perhaps idealistic) way to help your world
It’s not a wild, or new, theory that this guy probably was hurt when he was in first grade and went back to the school, the place of the hurt, and did what he did. We all deal with some amount of hurt when we are young; other children, teachers, parents say something that wounds us. But I think most of us form real connections with friends, lovers, family, at some point, and that hurt gets melted away by that love and connection.
There are some people that never form a real connection with anyone. And when they are hurt when they are kids, that wound stays and grows because there is no real deep connection to melt it away.
If we want to do something to help right now, if we want to do our part to heal things, I think we should find one person in our life, even in the periphery of our life, that seems like they are not making a connection with anyone. Find them and make just a small connection with them. You don’t have to be friends with them. And sure it will be awkward. You don’t know this person. They might wonder why you are talking to them. But odds are they are starving for a connection. Just ask them something and listen to their answer without judgement, find something to talk about, be present for them for a freakin’ moment. For most of us, such a thing is not a big deal, in fact, some of us are trying to avoid connections. But to someone who doesn’t have any, who doesn’t deal with anyone that isn’t forced to deal with them, who doesn’t have anyone offering them a caring word or a listening ear, this little moment might be huge. And I believe it will melt a little hurt. You might not end up being the light of that person’s life, but odds are you will be the light of that person’s day. And we simple don’t know what that might mean.
The Sheik and Thom Powers
On December 7th 2012, Caveh Zahedi’s first film in nearly eight years, “The Sheik and I” opens in New York and is available on demand. Even if it weren’t a brilliant, groundbreaking work (which it is), lovers of great independent film would be interested. His last feature, “I Am A Sex Addict,” won the coveted “Best Film Not Playing in a Theater Near You” Gotham award, which led to an IFC release in theaters and on DVD. Respected young filmmakers, like Andrew Bujalski and Lena Dunham, are fans of his autobiographical, personal essay epics, and, generally, you can’t talk about “first-person” documentaries without including him. So one would think that a new film from this legend of the genre, who has been putting himself out there on the screen for over two decades, would be big news in the indie film world. Well, if one man had his way, this film would not have seen the light of day in America. And no, I am not talking about the Sheik of Sharjah.
Something about Caveh Zahedi’s “The Sheik and I” has gotten documentary programmer extraordinaire, Thom Powers, all agitated, compelling him to write (by his own admission) to four different people (one programmer and three journalists) basically telling them that they should think twice about showing or writing positively about this film. Why? According to Mr. Powers, he was concerned about the people in the film and the “possible repercussions for their safety”.
“Wow,” you might be thinking, “what the hell kind of film is this?” Nope, it’s not a botched snuff film. Zahedi was asked by (basically) the government of Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates, to make a film for their Biennial on the theme of “art as a subversive act.” Yes, there were restrictions, but they commissioned the subject and maker of “I Am A Sex Addict” to make a film that would eventually be shown in their (only very slightly progressive) tightly Muslim country. This is an important fact, I think. Caveh Zahedi didn’t wake up one day and say, “I think I want to go to a Muslim country and mess with them.” He was asked to. He was asked to meditate on the idea of subversive art. So he did. The only problem is he did it there. That’s where the trouble starts… and the fun begins.
It’s also important to know that Zahedi didn’t know much at all about the country before he and his family and crew arrived there to make the movie. So, it’s not like he read about all the hypocrisy that occurs there, or the ‘never spoken of’ lack of freedom of speech, or the racism, and then decided to go there to make an exposé on all that. He went there purposefully clueless, in order to let the film just ‘happen.’ There are many different ways to make a movie. For this one, he wanted to make it up as he went along. Going there with preconceived notions about what he would find might hamper the whole thing. It makes for a certain kind of film that is not interesting unless it is funneled through Zahedi himself. This is important. In no way is this “The Innocence of Muslims”— a pure attack, film-as-weapon. It’s also not a Michael Moore film with an agenda. Despite exposing us to an entire country and culture we may not be aware of, despite making us actually fall in love with most of the people of this country in the film, despite touching on grand ideas about art and freedom and religion, it is still a strictly personal film.
So, to cut to the chase, Zahedi’s film intentionally ventured into the “restricted areas” on purpose, some could argue, recklessly. A number of people in the film were willingly and unwillingly brought there as well. But each violation has a specific purpose that serves the greater point of the film. In short, the film was banned from the biennial and threatened with destruction. Zahedi’s lawyer fought this and won. Now the film can be shown anywhere except Sharjah.
At some point before the movie’s premiere at the SXSW festival, as detailed in a video made about the situation, Zahedi sent the film to documentary programmer Thom Powers. Powers expressed, in an email response to Caveh, his “grave reservations about the film and what [he] considered the disregard that [Zahedi] showed for the people filmed.” The trouble is, by his own admission, he also sent the letter to the programmer for SXSW. Why? Because he “thought the issues were serious enough to warrant further consideration on her part.” Further consideration? In other words, he tried to get the film out of SXSW? “I was not asking anyone to boycott or blacklist the film,” wrote Powers in an email to me when pressed about this. So, Thom Powers was trying to act like the adult in the room, presiding over reckless filmmakers and appeasing programmers? He’s just someone who feels adamant about stepping in and advising programmers and journalists, who saw the film and yet apparently can’t weigh all this for themselves, to think twice about showing and writing favorably about the film, all to keep peace in the Middle East? Really?
Mind you, the prophet Muhammad is mentioned only once, as an illustration of what cannot be talked about. Yes, sure, Sharjah has a real problem with this film, mainly due to the sensitivity of the Sheik, who doesn’t want to be ‘made fun of’ or depicted in any way. And Zahedi totally expects never to be accepted there. But here? In America?
But who is Thom Powers anyway, and why would anyone feel the need to listen to his ‘advice’ about how to handle this film here in the free country of America? In an introduction to an interview with him, Mediashift called him “one of the most influential men in documentary film… Powers is not only the artistic director of DOC NYC, but is a programmer at the Toronto Film Festival, Miami Film Festival, Montclair Film Festival, founder of the NYC documentary screening series, ‘Stranger than Fiction,’ and a curator at SundanceNow.” I asked him, after he posted his defense against Zahedi’s charge of blacklisting, if he had power over the people he wrote to about “The Sheik and I.” He responded, “The answer is none.” Regarding his letter to the programmer of SXSW and to the three journalists, Powers wrote, “None of that correspondence resulted in any change of their positions,” as if the failures of his pleas signify no wrongdoing on his part.
In the video Zahedi made detailing this whole ordeal, he claims that people are “afraid” of Thom Powers. Afraid? Why would they be so unwilling to get on the bad side of “one of the most influential men in documentary film”?! Powers claims, again as if it is some evidence of harmlessness, that this “incident has been thoroughly raked over by other journalists including Violet Lucca of Film Comment who spent a lot of time looking into it in the spring before deciding it wasn’t really a story.” I reached out to Ms. Lucca to ask her if (and if so, why?) she thought it wasn’t really a story. “I never found a ‘smoking gun’ as it were. Everyone, even people who were off the record, said it never happened,” she wrote back. But what is it that never happened? Powers admits writing all these letters to people that were ready to show and support the film, letters with additional ‘context’ presumably to urge them not to. That doesn’t sound like a campaign to you?
If people really are interested in staying on Powers’ good side, and he knows that, and he wrote to them in an attempt to sway their (in the very least) opinions and (in the very worst) decisions about showing the film, does that mean he essentially waged a campaign against this film? Could that be called blacklisting?
I am concerned about all this because I think this film is ground-breaking and important. It’s also just a good, entertaining film. Do I agree with everything that Zahedi does in the film? No. Does it make me uncomfortable often? Yes. But this is why it is important. It is important that a filmmaker whose tactics we might not agree with is able to make and show a film here. And it is also important when that film makes us uncomfortable in interesting and thought provoking ways. For Thom Powers to have not seen this in “The Sheik and I” is the most embarrassing aspect of this whole situation. But that is just my opinion of his opinion. We are both entitled to them. Thom Powers seems like an okay guy. He certainly is intelligent and well respected. He must do his job well. I am sure many filmmakers have him to thank for whatever success they have. But, in regard to this film, and this filmmaker, he is woefully shortsighted. And if such shortsightedness is inherent in someone so apparently powerful in the independent film industry, someone who attempted to use that power, perhaps with his own good intentions, to stop something I consider to be important from even being seen or written about in this country, I think we might have a problem here.
At the end of the Mediashift interview, Powers says, in response to a question asking how filmmakers should interact with programmers, “Programmers circulate like the honeybees in this industry. We’re talking to everyone … definitely don’t alienate the programmer.”
Yeah, I think we have a problem here.
— Peter Rinaldi, December 7th 2012
The Do-Deca Memorial
This was a bad night for me as a filmmaker. This was a bad night for me as a film lover. And the bad batch of vertigo that suddenly came upon me had little to do with it.
This was a bad night because I saw an incredible movie. A hilarious comedy that was so smart and had so much heart and was so well performed and directed that it made me have hope again for this dying industry. But as my friend said, “Abandon all hope, all ye who enter here”.
So midway on life’s journey I get an email from my friend, a brilliant filmmaker I look up to (my very own Virgil, if you will) asking me if I want to go to the new Duplass Brothers’ film “The Do-Deca-Pentathlon” at the Museum of the Moving Image. I actually had this special screening in my calendar as something I might want to do. So I said yes. And I told him he is going to love the new MMI theater. It’s the best theater in the city.
I got there early. No one was there. Just guards and two women walking around with folders or clipboards or something. I had just learned that the film was going to be playing in the other, smaller theater. I was pissed. I asked the guard if something was playing in the main theater. He said no. I asked “Then why is this film playing in the small theater?” He said he didn’t know.
I sat down. I was still fuming. Not sure why I couldn’t just let it go. But I just couldn’t understand it. They have what I think is the BEST film theater in the entire city. And they are not using it. Why? I went up to one of the women.
“Are you with the museum or with the movie?”
“I’m with Fox.”
“OK. Why are you showing this film in the small theater when the main theater is available?”
“Because we want to have an intimate setting for the filmmakers.”
“Oh. Well, I have been touting the amazing theater to my friend and I’m disappointed and confused as to why it is not showing in there.”
“We just feel an intimate space is better for the movie.”
This, again, puzzled me. Isn’t the biggest, best screen of the two ‘better for the movie’? I pushed on, like an insane person or an asshole, illustrating my confusion. She actually was nice enough to show me the theater to calm me down. What calmed me down was the gesture of showing me the theater, certainly not seeing the theater itself. It was worse than I thought. It was like a screening room in a rich person’s house. 68 seats. I pretended to be happy now. Just to let her go. I went back to my seat in the café. I just kept thinking ‘Why come all the way to Queens to go see a film in a screening room?’ It just bothered me.
This should have been a sign.
The movie was about to start. Packed room. Someone introduced the film. She began by saying this was “the last time anyone would be seeing this film on a big screen. And certainly the last time with the filmmaker and actors present,” or something like that. I thought she misspoke. This was a preview screening for the new Duplass Brothers’ film. Did she mean last time before a regular audience sees it? I didn’t dwell on it.
The film was everything I want out of a comedy — hilarious, yet not insulting. Everyone in the cast was spot on, a sign of great directing. In good hands from beginning to end. Throughout, I was imagining all the people in my life that I thought would love it. The range of people crossed more boundaries then any comedy I could ever remember liking.
My film snob friends? They’d love it. Such smart storytelling. Such amazing performances. You don’t know where it’s going to go and are pleased, touched, moved by where it ends up.
My football fanatical, “Hangover” loving buddies? They would love this movie. It says more about modern manhood than any comedy I can remember seeing since probably “Swingers”. “Husbands” also came to mind. But most importantly, it’s funny. Real laughs. Laughs wielded into reality. Fortified so hard into the reality of the characters that you laugh even harder and deeper because of it. And then there are serious moments. But these are moments men can relate to. Especially married men. Brothers. Most movies are just not saying, in such a subtle and profound, yet simple way, what this movie is saying about men. And therefore men are bound to like it. But not just men, of course.
On top of this, what I was also thinking about, when watching the film, was how impressed I was with Fox Searchlight. I was so happy to see a film company finally let talented filmmakers (who have proved themselves with a few “studio” made movies, who worked with Hollywood stars in those movies) have the freedom to cast non-stars, and to work the way they used to work, with a super small crew and seemingly ultra low budget. The risk paid off, I thought. And now Fox Searchlight gets to reap the rewards of distributing a film that seemed to cost pennies and is destined to become an instant classic.
Oh silly, silly, naïve boy.
The movies ends. The Q &A begins. It is revealed that this movie was actually made 5 years ago, BEFORE “Cyrus” and “Jeff Who Lives At Home”. I am let down a little. My pride in Fox Searchlight dims a bit. So this isn’t, in fact, a matter of Fox giving the green-light to this film without name stars. It’s a matter of Duplass brothers making it on their own, after “Baghead”, while waiting around for the green-light on “Cyrus” and Fox seeing the success of those other films and saying ‘Ok, the time’s right for this one’. Ok. That’s still all right by me. But I start to form my question that I want to pose, the gist of which is — ‘What’s Fox Searchlight’s plan with the distribution of this film? Are they going to be timid like they were with the other two that had big stars? Or do they realize they have something special here? A classic that can play in my hometown of Scranton just as successfully as New York and LA.’
I am not picked on to ask my question, thank God. It would’ve been slightly embarrassing. Why? Because this actually WAS the last screening of “The Do-Deca-Pentathlon”. It already had it’s theatrical release. And even though I frequent so many film blogs and my twitter stream runs almost exclusively with film related tweets everyday, and even though I am a fan of the Duplass Brothers, and even though I live in New York City, I honestly had no idea. Jay Duplass said it, in passing, something like “It had a small run”. But I was still confused until the Q&A ended and I asked My friend.
“I’m confused. This didn’t come out yet, did it?”
“Yeah, it came out a few months ago,” he said. “I think it played at the Quad.”
Earlier in the evening, while waiting in the museum café, I got up and suddenly had a really bad spell of vertigo. It was really weird. It only happened once before in my life. When I was about 14. I walked across railroad tracks that were over a river. I looked down, between the tracks, at the water below. I didn’t realize I was up that high. I didn’t realize I was over water. I suddenly had vertigo. I barely got off the bridge without falling to the tracks. On the walk home I literally kept walking off the sidewalk, I was so dizzy. It was just like that tonight in the café. Not sure what prompted it. But I staggered back to my seat.
By the time the movie started I was ok, but not 100%. When the Q&A was over and I was talking to My friend, I still wasn’t well. So maybe that has to be factored into my reaction to the news that the film I had just seen, which I thought was about to begin its life as a movie in movie theaters, was in fact at the end of its life as a movie in movie theaters. I was angry. Filled with a unique rage. I could hardly keep my composure.
I am an amateur filmmaker. I do not work in the business. What this essentially means is that I am a professional film watcher, a cinephile. I live in New York City. I admire the films of The Duplass Brothers, amongst many other filmmakers. I am constantly online reading reviews, looking to see what films I’d like to see, reading film blogs. Why did I not know that the Duplass Brothers’ film “The Do-Deca-Pentathlon” was released on July 8th in 8 theaters? If Fox Searchlight was not able to reach this film blog junkie/Duplass Brothers fan, then whom did they try to reach? I think the answer is they didn’t try.
It was an evening of abandoned hope. I viewed this disappointment as a general sign of a brain-dead industry, an industry I had once dreamed of being a part of. But because this film, to me, represents the perfect synergy of indie film mentality coupled with multiplex appeal and yet was simply not recognized as such, it made me think there really is no hope for any of us in this business. In other words if this film is shit on by the distributor, what the hell are they waiting for?
The story of The Duplass Brothers being able to make movies in Hollywood is a relatively happy one. They are working filmmakers. They support their families from making movies. And they make the movies they want to make, the way they want to make them. Few and far between? Maybe. But they make great yet accessible films.
The sad part of the story is this – I saw tons of ads for “Jeff that lives at home” before it came out. But none of which advertised it as a Duplass Brothers film. It wasn’t until Richard Brody wrote about the film that I learned that it was their movie. “The Puffy Chair” was a big indie hit. “Cyrus” was killing on DVD and premium cable. Why not put that shit in the advertising? I love Segal and Helms. But they won’t get me to buy a ticket. The Duplass Brothers will though. I am that kind of indie film lover. Why did the people in charge of promotion not realize that there are others like me out there? And what a great film “Jeff” is, with big name comedy stars. What happened? Botched.
And now this.
I went up to the women from Fox who so graciously showed me the theater before it opened (The small theater next to the beautiful big, main theater). I just had to give her a piece of my mind. I asked her why it is that a New Yorker like me, an in-the-know indie film lover who is constantly on film blogs and reading up on things coming out didn’t know this film even existed. She said she didn’t know the answer. Then someone interrupted us. She was about to walk away when I told her “I don’t think this is a reflection on me but rather on you guys. It just doesn’t seem like you guys know what you have here. It doesn’t seem like you guys are behind this thing.”
“We are behind it,” she said, walking away. “I know it seems like I am walking away from the conversation but I really need to get outside.” She was gone.
Do I think this movie would change the world? No. Some people might even read this, then watch the film and not know what the hell I like about this movie. But the fact is, as much as anything this company has coming out in theaters, this movie has broad appeal. And I might go ahead and say this movie has more broad appeal than anything this company has coming out in theaters. So what’s the problem? Do they really think people can see that it didn’t cost much? Or if they do see it, that they would give a care as they are laughing their ass off and leaving the theater actually thinking about something?
As I was spouting off about the injustice of it all to my friend, I was told that “The Do-Deca-Pentathlon” is coming to Video On Demand soon. Hey, that’s great. That’s where the Duplass Brothers do well, on DVD and VOD and TV. And hey, pretty soon there won’t even be movie theaters that aren’t interactive video game event-plexs. So what are we worried about?
Well, I am not a fool. I love the films of Bela Tarr. “Satantango” and “The Turin Horse” were life changing cinematic experiences. But I am not stupid. I know these films can’t play in Scranton. I would love people to have the appreciation I have for those films, but I can understand why they don’t. And I certainly can understand why most companies wouldn’t touch that stuff.
But tonight, after the movie I saw in a screening room in a museum honoring the brain dead industry of the moving image in Queens, the movie that I thought was going to be in theaters soon, but in reality was in it’s final screening, as I remember how I enjoyed it like few other comedies I had seen recently, and wanted to share the title with those who tell me there are no good comedies anymore, followed by the words “Go see it!” as I remember sitting there in that little room, in the dark, with a bunch of strangers knowing that they all were “getting it”, just knowing they were, cause they were making that noise that we make, that everyone makes when they get it, as I sit here thinking that may never happen again for that film, as I think about my films, about my future, about what I strive for as a filmmaker, about what I long for as a film-goer, as I sit here and think about people who don’t know this film exists and don’t know I exist, and as I sit and think about what I can make, what I am capable of, and about what this movie was capable of, what this movie accomplished, and how rare it is, and how wonderful it is, as I think about how it played in the small theater, not the main one, I feel like a fucking alien and I’m just plain baffled.
Maybe it’s the vertigo.
A Long Meandering Conversation On Sincerity
A recorded conversation between American thinker James Morss and myself (Peter Rinaldi). The discussion meanders often but continues to come back to the topic of sincerity, specifically in art.