30 June 2007

meme meme everywhere, and not a drop to drink

So this meme thing is apparently this summer's blog trend that just won't die. This time I've been tagged by pacheco over at Bohemian Cinema.

The idea? 8 things about yourself. I've got time to kill right now, so why not?

THE RULES

1. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
2. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.

So, yeah. On with the show...

1. I'm obsessed with music

I purchase way too much of it, spend way too much time looking for it, and when I find a band I really like, I absolutely have to tell everyone about them. The current obsession? breathe owl breathe and Jaymay. Also, even though I'm nearing 30, I still make mix CDs for people all the time. Chances are if I see you on a regular basis and I like you at all, you've got one somewhere in your apartment/house.

2. I used to be an athlete

These days very few people believe it, but for the longest time I ran cross-country competitively (even though now I probably couldn't run a mile without dying), and was a pretty good basketball player. When I graduated high school I was second in school history in scoring and first in assists. I'm pretty sure by now I'm neither.

3. Once, I wrote a novel

And, no, you can't read it. Mostly because it sucks and is over 300 pages long. I'm a big believer in the concept of art as therapy (not as much now as back then), and my senior year of college was something of an existential crisis for me, so I wrote about it...and wrote...and wrote...and wrote. It took me a long time, and I was kind of screwed up in the head for most of that, but the moment I finished it and put it aside, the clouds cleared away. Special bonus: it made me the writer I am today.

4. I'm a baseball stat geek

I'm the guy who as a kid memorized baseball statistics, and even to this day I can parse some of the sabermetric stuff sight unseen. Example: the other day I get a phone call from my buddy Ben asking about a fantasy baseball trade and over the phone I'm having him look up line drive percentages and batting average on balls in play. I have a subscription to Baseball Prospectus that's at least as valuable as Netflix.

5. I'm a marked man

I come from a family of outdoorsmen and hunters, so when I was 9 or so I had to learn how to shoot a rifle, naturally. Only, I've never been all that strong (nor have I ever had much interest in shooting things). So, the rifle fires and the kick is enough that the hammer hits me in the mouth. To this day I have a scar in the shape of an "L" on my upper lip. I should mention, though, that I hit the target.

6. I'm a self-taught filmmaker

I didn't get into film until my final semester of college, and my school didn't really have much of a video program anyway. I've taken a grand total of one film class in my life (Intro to Cinema). As a result there's a great deal of basic, essential stuff I don't know. This week I'm showing someone the basics of Final Cut and realizing that I really have no idea how to edit, that I essentially am just making it all up as I go along. It's kind of humbling. I think the crew of gravida might have suspected that I'm a complete idiot. They may have been right.

7. Bad habits

I bite my fingernails, like, a lot. I used to be pretty self-conscious about it. I even tried the trick of putting clear nail polish on them. Then, one day I realized I really didn't care if other people thought it was a disgusting habit. So I nibble on them at will. I feel much better about myself as a result.

8. I'm addicted to email

Some of you may notice that I tend to respond to emails pretty much instantly. Well, that's because I have a GMail addiction. I've got the GMail Notifier set up on my computer so a little box in the corner turns blue whenever I have an email, and I have to respond right away (because then they can hopefully send me another email more quickly). When I'm away from my computer, I end up checking email on my phone something like once an hour. I don't even want to think about what that does to my cell phone bill.


So now I'm supposed to tag 8 other people, even though I'm pretty late to the game and most of them have already gone. But, I shall try:

1. Andy Horbal, Mirror/Stage
2. Matt Riviera, Last Night With Riviera
3. Jason, Italian Folk Music
4. Dennis, Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule
5. Edward Copeland, Edward Copeland on Film
6. Adam Ross, DVD Panache
7. Bill (Milo), tying tethers
8. Kristine, Fidgety

29 June 2007

this blog is apparently tame (ugh)

So all the buzz around the blog world at the moment is this whole MPAA rating of your blog that you can get. Certain of our friends, namely Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule and The House Next Door, got a NC-17, which is pretty cool. So, I went to the page, looking for the 100 films rating and got this:

Online Dating

And that just won't fucking do. No fucking way.

So here's what I'm gonna try and do with this post: get upgraded to at least R. First, two quotes from Deadwood:

"Wild Bill Hickok: Sure you wanna quit playing, Jack? The game's always between you and getting called a cunt.
Tom Nuttall: Meeting adjourned, fellas, take it outside.
Wild Bill Hickok: That dropped eye of yours looks like the hood on a cunt to me, Jack. When you talk, your mouth looks like a cunt moving.
Jack McCall: I ain't gonna get in no gun fight with you, Hickok.
Wild Bill Hickok: But you will run your cunt mouth at me. And I will take it, to play poker."

"Tom Nuttall: My bicycle masters boardwalk and quagmire with aplomb. Those that doubt me... suck cock by choice."

Oddly, IMDB doesn't have any of the great "cocksucker" quotes that define the show, but perhaps this will be enough. If not...fuck fuck fuck shit cocksucker motherfucker

27 June 2007

emails from the road

So I'm in Philly all week helping my good friend Dave Young at Widget Studios with a project (and he, because he's a nice guy, is helping me tweak some audio for gravida).

Anyway, all that has nothing to do with the rest of this email, but whatever. If you're looking for me in Pittsburgh this week, I ain't there. I'm in Philly, which is insanely humid.

But I'm still getting emails, and in the inbox yesterday was an email from someone affiliated with IFC and/or Rooftop Films, which is a indie film series of some acclaim that rejected a certain french film by yours truly.

I'm not one to hold a grudge, though, so when Andrea emailed me a link she thought you, my loyal readers, might be interested in, I saw no reason to keep it from you.

To quote Andrea:

A selection of great short films are now available to view for free online through a collaboration between Rooftop Films and IFC.com.

The online festival posts one new short each day through the end of August. We started on June 1, so there's a good selection up there now, including documentary, animation, comedy, experimental, and more.


The link is here

Enjoy.

20 June 2007

you can fool some of the people...

Ok, I admit. I haven't been around all that much lately. Between finishing up the picture edit for gravida, figuring out the details of the premiere (*cough* 12 July *cough*), sorting through the entries for the Pittsburgh New Works Festival, the uber-indie project, and baseball season, I've barely had time to even read the film blogs, much less participate. So, imagine my surprise when I swing by Piper's LAZY EYE THEATRE and discover that not only is he talking about me, but he's saying nice things. Really nice things.

Wait, let me back up a bit.

Turns out there's this "Thinking Blogger Award" floating around the internets lately. Piper explains the recent history of it, which is convenient, since I don't feel like repeating it, but suffice to say it involves everyone's favorite quiz master, Dennis Cozzalio over at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule, and several other of the best film minds the blog universe has to offer.

Anyway, so if you receive a "Thinking Blogger Award", you get to put up a cool banner/graphic on your site, like this:



Provided, of course, you follow some rules:

1) If, and only if your blog is one that is tagged on my list below, you must write a post with links to five other blogs you like that consistently make you think (hence, the Thinking Blogger’s Award).

2) Link to this post so people will know whose good idea all this was.

3) Proudly display the “Thinking Blogger Award” logo with a link to the post you wrote.

And that brings us back to Piper. You see, Piper was given this prestigious award and in the process of following the rules had this to say about yours truly:

As all who visit Lazy Eye know, I am a fiend for blog-a-thons and the very first blog-a-thon I wrote for was Lucas' Lovesick Blog-A-Thon at 100 Films. It was sort of a trial by fire for me because I really had no idea what I was doing or even what a blog-a-thon was. From there, I began to e-mail Lucas from time to time for advice. I consulted him often on themes for my first blog-a-thon. What I found most refreshing about Lucas was that he was honest. He cared enough to give me his honest opinion. May not seem like much, but to me, it's a 100 pounds of gold. But more than that, Lucas has given film blogging a purpose. A purpose much higher than just an outlet for film lovers trying to show how movie-smart they are. At 100 Films, you will see that Lucas has created the uber-indie project where he invites every independent filmmaker that has made a movie or short to send it in for him to review it on his site. This doesn't guarantee a positive review, but what it does is help give a voice to independent film. That's so much more important than anything I do or will probably ever do on my blog. And for that, I bestow unto you The Thinking Blogger's award to Lucas. Use it and continue to provide a lush valley for filmmakers to find safe harbor in which to thrive. But don't try to hock this award to help fund your recent movie gravida, which gets a Pittsburgh release July 12th by the way.


High praise, indeed. Although, to be fair, I should point out that perhaps Piper confuses my generally kind nature and rampant gmail addiction with real, actual concern, but I won't quibble over that. The fact is I'm always excited to get emails, but even more so if they have something to do with my writing. Oddly enough, it never gets old.

But enough of that. Who am I going to name? Oh, the tension! The drama!

Here goes...

1. No More Marriages!

Andy Horbal and I live in the same city. We walk the same streets. We see the same films at the same theatres, sometimes at the same screening (once, I had to keep moving in my seat because his big hat was blocking the screen). Strangely enough, we've never spoken in person. Still, Andy is the person who first comes to mind when I think of the term "Thinking Blogger". His now-retired blog was one of the very first things I read every morning (after my email, of course), and usually at least once during the day. It was a clearinghouse, of sorts, for the entire film blog community, and it's absence leaves a rather large hole in our group. You could argue that Andy's blog was the one that kept us all together. Here's hoping his upcoming Mirror/Stage is half as effective.

2. Last Night with Riviera

A long time ago, back when I was new to this whole blog thing, I was reading my meager Statcounter log when, lo and behold, I noticed a hit from Australia. Australia!. And not just a random hit, but multiple hits. Clearly someone I didn't know was reading my blog on a regular basis. As you might imagine, I thought this was pretty fucking awesome. That random reader in Australia was, of course, Matt Riviera, who read this blog so long ago that he might have the only non-"100 films" sidebar link left. Because Last Night with Riviera deals primarily with the Sidney festival circuit, it tends to get ignored by the rest of the film bloggers. While everyone is talking about whatever terrible horror film is in theatres this week, Matt's diligently writing about Hallam Foe, a film that won't see a theatre near you for a long time. You can't even imagine how far ahead of the curve he is.

3. Film of the Year

Also not writing about crappy horror films (well, at least not yet) is Thom Ryan over at Film of the Year. Starting all the way back in 1909 (earlier?), Thom is methodically working his way through film history, writing a thoughtful, educational post about one film per year. He's already up to 1936's Sabotage. If you're gonna jump on the Thom Ryan bandwagon, now's the time to do it, because he's starting to write about films you've heard of. But if you're lucky like me, you can always say, "Man, I used to read Thom back when it was 1909." We call that film snobbery for the indie aesthetic.

4. The House Next Door

You can't really have a discussion about thinking bloggers without mentioning Matt Zoller Seitz's The House Next Door. Has someone already mentioned him? Sure. Do I care? Nope. What Matt has created is something of a online publishing house where contributors such as Todd VanDerWerff, Edward Copeland, Keith Uhlich, and Ryland Walker Knight write about everything in the film and television universe. On any given day you can read about the latest DVD releases, or an in-depth examination of the Sopranos finale, or just a list of 5 things that peak Keith Uhlich's interest today. It's one of my favorite sites on the entire internet.

5. Drifting: A Director's Log

Dallas-based filmmaker (and uber-indie participant) David Lowery's blog is a candid look at the filmmaking career of one of the more interesting of the next wave of young filmmakers. David's posts are short, succinct musings about film and life, but the real value is on the sidebar where David has provided links to several of his short films. The best, if you ask me, is Some Analog Lines. Check it out.

16 June 2007

uber-indie: the short films of Evan Richards

evan1

Note: Since this is a collection of shorts, we will split the review into three parts.

A Schizophrenics Love Story

starring: Hans Stefan Ducharme, Sarah Farnham, Joy Vanmeter, and Shawn McVicar
cinematography by: A.J. Muffet
written by: Evan Richards[1]
directed by: Evan Richards & Nathan Horn
17 min/Bangor, ME


Mark (Hans Stefan Ducharme) hears voices. They tell him to touch things. They prevent him from showing up for dates with his girlfriend (Sarah Farnham) and, once, from attending her birthday party. As you might imagine, this is a problem for her. Our hero tries to explain, but as she sees it either her boyfriend is lying to her about skipping her birthday party or is crazy. Neither option appeals to her so she dumps him.

A Schizophrenics Love Story, as a whole, is a largely effective short that tends to wear some influences on its sleeve. And while that's not always a bad thing, here it tends to be a bit much over the final third. It owes a debt to modern thrillers like The Usual Suspects (1995). I would stop short, however, of calling it derivative. You can see where the ideas are coming from, but the film thankfully resists becoming a carbon copy.

Evan Richards' main strength is a visual style that, in conjunction with cinematographer A.J. Muffet, provides a consistent style throughout his films. The eye for framing and composition is innate, as most good ones are, and he understands, for the most part, the value of a camera move as a narrative device, and not just something to do because it looks cool. That's not to say he's a visual virtuoso, the second coming of P.T. Anderson. There's still moments where the camera could probably be in a better spot, where the camera move could be more effective, but for the most part Richards gets it, and who's to say those hiccups aren't just budgetary limitations or perhaps simply part of the learning curve?

Lest I give too much praise for a film that clearly has some flaws, consider that Richards' writing here is a little choppy--the dialogue tends to go directly from point to point without bothering to transition cleanly--and I'd like to see some of the characters and scenes fleshed out a bit more, as the film occasionally leans toward cliche. But these are problems fixable by experience, and there's no reason to believe Richards won't grow as a writer (the script itself was written in 2004). The dialogue has a generally natural feel. It just needs another draft or two with the realization that just because dialogue reads well on the page doesn't always mean it will sound good on screen.

If this were a lesser film, if the visuals weren't so well-composed, then the dialogue might come off better. It just isn't up to the film's visual standard. But I have little doubt that in time it will be.

Sleepwalker

starring: Joshua Whinnery
cinematography by: A.J. Muffet
directed by: Evan Richards
2 min/Bangor, ME


Sleepwalker is, above all else, an exercise is style. It follows a sleepwalker (Joshua Whinnery) who, while crashed on his couch, gets up and wanders around downtown Bangor in the middle of the night. It's something we've all seen before, but it gives Richards and Muffet a chance to show off a beautiful side of a city that rarely gets noticed as such. Working with what must be almost entirely natural light, they compile a city fit for a dream sequence. And as someone who's been to Bangor on several occasions, let me just say that's no small feat.

Richard Robertson's Rockport Pottery

starring: Richard Robertson
directed by: Evan Richards
4 min/Rockport, ME


There's something about footage of a someone making pottery that instantly grabs my attention. Whenever I'm channel surfing and there's something about pottery on PBS, I have to stop and watch. I'm just so fascinated by how this spinning lump of clay so quickly becomes something else, how with the smallest amount of pressure, the potter is able to form this nearly flawless thing. I can't fathom how delicate and precise that process must be, yet it always looks so damned easy.

But even beyond that, this is a compelling documentary short. Through a voice-over, Richard Robertson explains how he got started in pottery and how that led to him studying for two years in Japan with Zen pottery masters. Richards combines this storyline (and the resulting tangents about finding an artistic calling) with the visual progression of the pottery's creation. The two narratives--the audio and the visual--work well together without feeling cluttered. Or maybe they do. I keep getting distracted by the spinning clay.



[1] Evan and I went to the same private High School in midcoast Maine. He was in my brother's class and I was in his brother's class. The school has zero cinema courses and has fewer than 200 alumni, yet has produced two filmmakers. Figure the odds on that.

*********************
You can watch these and other films by Evan Richards at his blog, The Complete Works of Evan Richards, which isn't as much a blog as it is a collection of all his films. You can also be his friend on MySpace and check him out on IndieFilmPedia and IMDB.

Got a film you'd like to submit for the uber-indie project? Go here for details. You can also read these reviews at TalkingMoviezzz.com.

01 June 2007

a birthday gift, from me to you

Monday, 4 June, I turn 28.

I kind of have mixed feelings about the thing. One the one hand, getting older sucks. But, I'm starting to come to the conclusion that a lot of people already think I'm over 30, which may or may not be a compliment, but I'm going to assume it is. Mostly, I think it has to do with my writing, but that's not really the point of the post.

the point is, that I'm too old to expect presents from people who aren't my family (other than, you know, free beers from friends), so instead I'm going to give all of you a present.

however, it should be noted that if you really want to get me a present, I'm in no way against that.

anyway, the other day I discovered that Google Video has an option where you can download stuff for your video Ipod or other portable device (also, your hard drive). so, being the nice person that I am, I've decided to make 2 of my films, L'Attente and guard duty, available for Ipod consumption. And it's completely free.

Just go to the d press Productions webpage and follow the links.

link

Enjoy.
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