collisionwork: (kwizatz hadarach)
So, no music update today, as promised, and it's not even the "today" I promised to update on anymore. Friday went by with me taking most of the day to prepare two of my scripts, Spell and Spacemen from Space! for the site Indie Theater Now -- since I write the plays to direct myself at The Brick, I sometimes write in a chatty manner that's specific to the actors and space, and won't read well to others. Tomorrow I'll try and fix up At the Mountains of Slumberland for the site, but that one will take a lot more work.

Also spent time today answering some more congratulations on the nytheatre.com thing and running errands -- post office, library. I'm getting in daily trips to the library, mostly in dropping off and picking up books in Richard Stark's Parker series, which Berit and I are going through like popcorn, though I don't think they'll have any immediate influence on any work I'll be doing.

By chance, I've been reading a number of memoirs, mostly of actors -- apart from Patti Smith's excellent Just Kids. That was the first one I read, and unfortunately it was so much better than the rest that the remainder of the memoirs have not looked so good. I've recently gone through Hal Holbrook's, Jane Lynch's, John Lithgow's, Diane Keaton's, Kristin Hersh's, Roger Ebert's, Tina Fey's, and the journals of Spalding Gray, as well as a combined bio of Carole King/Joni Mitchell/Carly Simon. Now I have a new one from Judi Dench. It wasn't intentional, but this will come in handy for my work on next year's play Removal, which is about a writer (or so it seems) looking back on his life and trying to revise it through obsessive revisions in his art. So these will be good to see how some artists do it, even when they aren't so enlightening or entertaining. Also, we've been watching Ken Russell's films in order, so I've finally gotten to see most of his early composer biographies for the BBC, which will also be a good source of inspiration.

I also have a nice stack of library books on branding, which are needed for research on another upcoming show, Invisible Republic #3, but I really need to get into those, and I probably won't be able to until after Xmas.

Tonight's viewing, while I was working on the scripts, was Sidney Pollack's Jeremiah Johnson -- meh; nothing wrong with it exactly, just . . . didn't grab me; Vincente Minnelli's Two Weeks in Another Town -- fun big Hollywood camp, with a great crazed car ride through Rome sequence (Berit, familiar with the automotive fatalities of Contempt and Toby Dammit, now calls out, "No, you're making a movie in Rome in the 60s, don't get into that car!" when the convertible shows up); and Robert Aldrich's The Legend of Lylah Claire, which was almost disappointing, though entertaining, in a bad-good movie way, until it got to the ending, which nearly made the whole thing a masterpiece -- I had heard that the last 2 minutes of this film were NUTS and either ruined it or saved it, depending on your point of view, and the psycho ending isn't even that long actually, but for me it made everything before it worthwhile. But whoa, is it nuts. Then it was the last of the available BBC Russell bios, the amazing Song of Summer. Really some of his finest work, though I still prefer the operatic, perverse Russell of 1970-1977.

Then, while internetting my merry way and enjoying some hot tea and cold aquavit, back to some of the TV shows we cycle around between on Netflix Instant. Tonight, a second season Mission: Impossible episode, a recent 30 Rock and now, as usual, several How It's Made episodes until sleep finally comes.

Tomorrow, fixing scripts, researching, and finally getting back to the Weekly Random Ten lists. And maybe some first words on Westerns. Berit and I have been watching American Western movies chronologically, starting with Stagecoach from 1939 and planning on ending with The Shootist (1976). We're up to 1972, and 134 movies of a 147-movie list, and I'm still not sure what I might do with what I've learned, or even what I've really learned. I just knew that it was important to know these movies better if I really wanted to GET movies and America and the 20th century in some important ways, but it's not something that can be intellectualized or verbalized so well. Or maybe that's the point.

collisionwork: (Default)
In between writing and planning spells, I've been relaxing and regrouping with the films of Jean-Luc Godard. My man, and always an inspiration. As I now have, or have borrowed, every one of his movies from the "classic" period (1960-1967), I'm going through them all in order, and enjoying them anew (and please pardon my not keeping to any standard of using only French or English titles for the films - I tend to go with whatever either seems more "common" . . . or is easier and faster to type)

I only watched his two early shorts, Charlotte and Veronique, or: All the Boys Are Named Patrick and Charlotte and Her Jules for the first time with this go, and they're cute little things. You can see where he's going in them, but they're of a lighter comedy than anything else he'd do, except maybe A Woman Is a Woman. They feel more like the silent movie sequence that Godard and Anna Karina act in in Varda's Cléo from 5 to 7, with dialogue, but all dubbed over footage shot with a slightly-undercranked camera, so everything feels sped-up, jerky, and punchier.
Godard - CHARLOTTE ET VERONIQUE

It hadn't occurred to me that Godard may have been the inventor of the "Manic Pixie Dream Girl" type that has so overtaken independent film these days, but he may be (there are earlier "Manic Dream Girls" - Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby for example - but they generally didn't have the "Pixie" until Godard). Until seeing the early shorts, I would have imagined the MPDG started with Jean Seberg in Breathless (though she's barely manic, really), but Anne Collette's Charlotte in the two Godard shorts is massively MPDGing all over the place (especially in the second, where as Jean-Paul Belmondo - dubbed by JLG himself - delivers a monologue about Charlotte's faults, she wanders around the room, tries on hats, and makes "cute," non-sequitur faces all over the place until you want to puke). Watching these two early shorts, you would probably imagine Godard to go on to be a pioneer in a French New Wave version of the RomCom.
Godard - BREATHLESS

But instead, we get Breathless - which I'd only seen once before, and as on that occasion, it surprised me with how fresh and new and joyful it feels, even today. Godard would make better films, quite a few better films, but you can still look at Breathless and understand why it had the impact it did in 1960. I don't think it's a masterpiece, and I DO think JLG made a ridiculous number of masterpieces in the 15 features he completed in this 7-year period (at the very least, Contempt, Masculin, féminin, 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her, and Weekend, if not more), all of them better movies than Breathless, but he never made a more important one, and maybe never one as purely FUN. You can feel his excitement in making his first film in every frame -- in the documentary on the Criterion DVD, they read a wonderful letter from JLG to the producer of the two early shorts, written as Breathless was shooting, where JLG notes that EVERYONE else working on the film thinks it's going horribly and will be a disaster, and JLG is both a bit concerned about this and at the same time not-at-all concerned as he thinks the footage is great and it's just the film he wants it to be (and he's also worried that this means he's nuts).

Sometimes you do have to think of the context to appreciate something like that. One day, after looking over a list of some films that came out in 1960, I realized that Hitchcock's Psycho had also been released that year, and it struck me that, in the middle of everything else that was playing in American movie theatres that year (mostly glossy color things designed to reassure), the Hitchcock film must have felt like a terrorist act -- nothing else on a USA screen looked or felt anything like Psycho. No wonder it had such an impact. Now, of course, it almost seems quaint.

As, in many ways, does Breathless, but it has a light-footed quality that separates it from all the films influenced by it ever since. Somewhere in looking at reviews of the film after watching it, someone noted sourly their confusion over the title . . . why À bout de souffle? No one in it is particularly breathless or winded in it. No, it's the movie itself that is at breath's end, barely able to get its story out in the rush of how excited it is to tell you that story. And you GO with it.
Godard - Le Petit Soldat

After that I got to Le Petit Soldat, which I thought I'd seen before and disliked, but I was wrong, it was completely new to me. It's a tight little Godardian spy drama about conflicts in Geneva between French and Algerian agents, with some nice twists (and a surprising and disturbing scene in which waterboarding is described as it is demonstrated on our hero). Nice and taut. And of course, it introduces Miss Anna Karina, who becomes JLG's muse (and wife) for the next few years, and boy can you see why -- before we meet her in the film, Karina's boyfriend bets the hero $50 that he'll fall in love with her less than 5 minutes after meeting her. After their first meeting, our hero hands over the $50 to his friend without another word. Many of us would, too.
Godard - Une Femme Est Une Femme 1

A Woman Is a Woman was his third feature, and previously I'd found it just okay. Fun, but a little too precious.
Godard - Une Femme Est Une Femme 2
For some reason, this time it got me in just the right way, and I was swept up in its experimental silliness -- its tone of being an over-the-top Hollywood musical without any real songs. Even if it does worship the eminently worship-worthy Ms. Karina a BIT too much.
Godard - Une Femme Est Une Femme 3

Next up for me, when today's work is done, are Vivre Sa Vie, which I've seen a few times, but many years ago, and I remember it as brilliant but grim and humorless, and Les Carabiniers, which I saw only the first 20 minutes of before I walked out on it, and am not looking forward to sitting through. Granted, it was 19 or 20 years ago when I last tried, it was a LOUSY print, and it was on the second half of a double-bill with the far superior Masculin, féminin, and after the first film's brilliance, the second's mix of heavy-handed political commentary and bad jokes (both massively subpar for JLG, as I remember) didn't sit well with me, when I just wanted to think about how great the first film was. I hope I was wrong about it then, and that it's not what I remember, but everything I've read about it since would seem to indicate I was correct in my first impressions.

More soon, as I get through this stack o' JLG. Wish I was watching them on a bigger screen. Maybe sometime this year, I'll carve out 8 days to watch them all in The Brick on the big screen, with whoever feels like coming by . . .

collisionwork: (chiller)
Ten years ago, at the end of 1999, I had been living off-and-on, and by that point, mostly on, in the basement of the NADA theatre on Ludlow Street. Theatre had become my life, but even then Film, which had pretty much been a total obsession since I was a small child, still clutched at me a bit. The 90s weren't such a great time for Film in any case. 1999 had a surprising number of really remarkable films, but before that . . . ugh.

So as I concentrated more on Theatre . . . film kinda vanished for me. There were certain directors I would always follow, and films of interest, but I watched fewer and fewer movies as the decade went on -- in the last three years I saw anywhere from 1 to 3 movies in a theater. During my NYU days, I would see up to 10 movies a WEEK in theaters, plus whatever I'd watch on video.

So I'd had a low opinion of Film in the '00s, but as I look over all of these "Best of the Decade" lists, I'm a bit stunned at how many good films there were, and how many I DID see (nothing compared to previous decades in my life, but better than I thought). So, looking the lists over, I decided to make up my own -- which first involved figuring out which films I actually saw during this time. After some research, I came up with a list of 228, and I ranked them all from most favorite to pond scum. I include the full list here for it's own odd purpose.

For years and years starting in 1971, first in Movietone News and then later in Film Comment magazine, which I grew up reading whenever I could get my hands on an issue, Richard T. Jameson and Kathleen Murphy would do a year-end wrap-up on Film called "Moments Out of Time," which I always looked forward to. They focused on those perfect moments in movies, which can occur in any and every film, even truly awful ones, where everything comes together in one of those especial transcendent moments unique to the medium -- my all-time favorite was when, in the midst of mentioning

The blog Parallax View has been reprinting the older pieces, and their 2009 list is online at MSN Entertainment. I recommend looking at them, they bring back lots of memories of some of the finer moments of those great years of film.

Today I'm going through several of my favorite 20 movies of the past 10 years, watching them either in their entirety, or in just fragments, reminding myself of those very same moments that make me still love movies.
Nikki Grace Regards the '00s

Things to be watched for today:

Fragments of Mulholland Drive . . . the color of Diane Selwyn's kitchen . . . the amazing business Justin Theroux does with his cigarette as he hears the name of the actress he's been ordered to cast . . . the laugh of the suddenly-competent hit man when he is asked what his blue key unlocks . . . "The girl is still missing" leading to the sound of a telephone ring hanging endlessly in the air as poor doomed avatar Betty Elms is brought into Diane Selwyn's dream . . . and then the cruel way Betty is dispatched from the dream, removed from the frame (and existence) by a casual camera move, never to return . . . The Cowboy saying, "There's sometimes a buggy..." . . . the actual script supervisor of Lynch's film, as the keeper of the text, appears in it to close the book on Diane's pitiful life and get the last word . . . "Silencio."

In The New World . . . the opening, pre-credit ritual from Pocahontas that calls the film itself into being . . . the looks of discovery on both sides as they spot each other . . . the amazing final four minutes (almost to the second) as Pocahontas/Rebecca leaves her life by ducking playfully out of the frame as she plays with her child (the positive flip-side of what is done to Betty Elms), only to be reborn in Nature again with the appearance of a Native American spirit in her English home . . . the final moments, where the film joins with the endings of Apocalypse Now, Contempt, and Bad Timing in pulling away from all humanity to show how small and petty we and all our concerns are in the landscape of the natural world. There will always be the ocean, rivers, rain, trees.

INLAND EMPIRE . . . "BRUTAL fucking murder!" . . . Bucky Jay attempts to adjust a stage light . . . a woman (prostitute?) in a Poland hotel cries herself into the static of her TV, falling down the rabbit hole into a fantasy of herself as a beautiful blonde Hollywood actress, but still unable to escape her real life of murder and infidelity, as neither Laura Palmer, Fred Madison, nor Diane Selwyn could in their own dreams before her . . . "AXXoN N." . . . "Look at us and tell us if you've known us before" . . . Nikki Grace shrugging off the attentions of The Woman in White-figure who always represents peace and transcendence in Lynch films, as she still has unfinished business . . . The way the music and sound goes - counterintuitively - strangely and suddenly quiet and mournful during the terrifying finale around the appearance of the horrible face . . . And then Nikki, The Dreamself of the Heartbroken Woman, finally transcending into The Place Where All Stories Come From, a beautiful mansion filled with characters mentioned in this film, from past Lynch films (and maybe future ones?), and a man sawing logs, where there is always music in the air, and the women sing a pretty Nina Simone song.

Dear god . . . Speed Racer . . . an entire MOVIE that looks like molten hard candies and marbles and is the biggest, glossiest art film about movement, editing, and color I've ever seen, continuing the experiments Lucas started with THX-1138 but got sidetracked from by being convinced he needed more "emotion" in his films (I'm sure he wishes his Star Wars prequels were more like this film) . . . an exploration of how to turn the Stargate sequence from 2001: A Space Odyssey into a coherent storytelling system for narrative film, with car racing as metaphor for the artistic process.

Men (and a few women) doing their jobs in Zodiac -- writing, cartooning, codebreaking, investigating, fathering, editing, killing; the fascination of watching talented professionals do their jobs (compounded by the joy of watching highly skilled actors do their own perfectly modulated work) . . .

And so on . . . here's my top 20 for the decade, followed by a full ranked list of the remaining 208 films I saw these ten years:

I LOVED AND LOVE THESE MOVIES AND DON'T GIVE A DAMN WHAT, IF ANYTHING, MIGHT BE WRONG WITH THEM:

1. Mulholland Drive - David Lynch, U.S. 2001
2. Dogville - Lars von Trier, Denmark 2003
3. The New World - Terrence Malick, U.S. 2005
4. INLAND EMPIRE - David Lynch, U.S./France/Poland 2006
5. No Country for Old Men - Joel & Ethan Coen, U.S. 2007
6. Irreversible - Gaspar Noé, France 2002
7. Zodiac - David Fincher, U.S. 2007
8. I'm Not There - Todd Haynes, U.S./Germany 2007
9. Battle Royale - Kinji Fukasaku, Japan 2001
10. The Saddest Music in the World - Guy Maddin, Canada 2003
11. My Winnipeg - Guy Maddin, Canada 2007
12. The Royal Tenenbaums - Wes Anderson, U.S. 2001
13. There Will Be Blood - P. T. Anderson, U.S. 2007
14. Sin City - Frank Miller & Robert Rodriguez, U.S. 2005
15. Full Frontal - Steven Soderbergh, U.S. 2002
16. The Fog of War - Errol Morris, U.S. 2003
17. Synecdoche, New York - Charlie Kaufman, U.S. 2008
18. The Gleaners and I - Agnès Varda, France 2000
19. In the Mood for Love - Wong Kar Wai, Hong Kong 2000
20. Speed Racer - The Wachowski Brothers, U.S. 2008

The Remaining 207 Movies I saw, 2000-2009 )



We are staying in tonight, and avoiding the craziness and unpleasant travel of New Year's Eve. We've watched Dogville, INLAND EMPIRE and Speed Racer in their entirety, and Zodiac is almost over. What next? I'm Not There? The Saddest Music in the World? Synecdoche, New York is also on the pile but, uh, I'm not so sure that's appropriate for what supposed to be a more happy evening.

And a happy new year to you and yours, friends.

collisionwork: (Ambersons microphone)
There is a geography in my mind as real as that around me -- a geography based in film. In locations, real, created, or recreated in film and television - a fictional landscape that also makes sense to me. Maybe more sense than the real world.

In all the noir study I did for World Gone Wrong I mapped out the city of Los Angeles in my head from the dozens and dozens of films I watched that were shot in that city from 1941-1958. There is a very real L.A. in my head that is stuck in a endless 1947-1953, where Edmund O'Brien is forever shooting a man on a high floor of the Bradbury Building, while Lon Chaney Jr. tosses a man to his death from a higher floor, then escapes by going up the funicular railway - Angels Flight - by the Third Street tunnel a couple of blocks away.

At the top of the railway, Chaney exits the car and goes into a cheap hotel (the "Hillside"), where we've also seen Ralph Meeker as Mike Hammer go (from the exact same camera angle) to question Fortunio Bonanova as a failed opera singer living under the name Carmen Trivago -- but did he have to take this name after failing as an opera coach, then called Signor Matiste, for a pretty but hopelessly untalented young blonde named Susan Alexander? Did Charlie Kane never forgive him for his inability to remove the quotes from around the word "SINGER," and use the power of all his Inquirer papers to prevent him from getting a good job again?

Does his incessant playing of old opera 78s bother the group of men next door who are planning an intricate heist? Probably not. They work all day and night, with the Angels Flight railway cars going by their window in an endless rear-projected loop.

They don't even notice when Lon Chaney Jr. kills the man below their window. The man who, despite his crutches, chose not to wait for the railway but took the stairs up Bunker Hill on the other side of the tunnel, meeting his doom at the top.

On his way up that hill he walks briefly by a small set of stairs. About a dozen years later, in lousy, low-budget color, a young man named Jerry walks past them the other way, as a man sits on the step, listening to the radio. Jerry stops as a news report comes over the air, a bulletin about a murder. Jerry is the murderer, which he's only beginning to realize, as he was hypnotized by a carnival gypsy into doing her bidding. He will return that night to the amusement park in Long Beach to confront her. It won't go well.

Outside of town, more things are happening in a connected series of caves in the Bronson Canyon section of Griffith Park than I could possibly go into here.

Further out, at Vasquez Rocks, there's a boulder that Jack Black stands on as "Jeepers Creepers, Semi-Star" for a Mr. Show sketch, and I wonder if he ever realized, as I did a few months ago, that it's probably the same boulder Harvey Korman stands on to address his troops near the end of Blazing Saddles. And in the area below Korman, where Slim Pickens and the other Western-parody bad guys listen, Captain James Tiberius Kirk fought a Gorn a few years back. Further back in time and you can see Buster Keaton wandering here. Further ahead, and it's Bruce Campbell.

Sometimes I want to go to L.A. and look for these places, but most of them are gone now. Just part of an L.A. of the mind. And you can see these overlaps elsewhere, too. There is a villa somewhere near Rome where the American movie producer Jeremy Prokosch lives and makes a play for the wife of the French screenwriter he is bringing in to script-doctor Frtiz Lang's film of The Odyssey. In the main room of the villa the screenwriter briefly strokes the strings of an out-of-tune harp. A few years later, the harp is in tune when a serial killer brushes it just before committing the second murder of the night in that house.

I was thinking of these connections tonight as I saw a picture of a house. Not this first picture. This is a screencapture from an early shot in Orson Welles' The Magnificent Ambersons, a film of no small importance to me this year. This is, in the film, the home of Mrs. Johnson, though we're never specifically told that -- we are shown and told at separate times that this house is across the street from the Amberson mansion and that Mrs. Johnson lives across the street from the Ambersons (and the screenplay indicates that it is Mrs. Johnson calling to a streetcar earlier from a window).

The Amberson Mansion exterior barely existed - just a door piece and portico and a little bit else; most of it was a matte painting. But Mrs. Johnson's house was a real, full-sized piece, built on the RKO Encino ranch lot. I don't know if it was a previously-existing structure redressed for the Welles film or if it was a false front built especially for Orson's folly. For years, because of the way it was photographed, I thought it was also mostly a painting, but the behind-the-scenes photos make it clear this wasn't the case. It was there:

Magnificent Ambersons - Opening Montage

When Ambersons tanked, RKO spent years repurposing all its expensive, detailed sets in the many low-budget films created to make up for the money lost on Welles. The staircase of the Amberson mansion shows up in at least three Val Lewton horror films in the next few years, and sometimes doors and props that once belonged to the Ambersons appear elsewhere in those films, in backlot locales ranging from New York to the West Indies to Victorian London.

But that was in Hollywood, in the soundstages -- the very same stages where, in 20 years, now owned by Lucille Ball (who had once been rejected by RKO as the the female lead in an Orson Welles project for being too lightweight), they'd be shooting Star Trek and Mission: Impossible and Mannix.

On the Encino backlot, Mrs. Johnson's house stood and waited. Waited maybe for George Bailey and his future wife Mary to walk on by:

It's a Wonderful Life - A Familiar House

I saw this house, which George and Mary of course wind up making their own - a major fixer-upper - and, even with the slight redress, recognized it as Mrs. Johnson's old place, and this started me thinking.

In the film of Ambersons, we never learn the name of the small Midland town that grows and spreads into a city. Perhaps it is indeed Bedford Falls, and George and Mary have in fact taken over Mrs. Johnson's decrepit old place in a now unfashionable part of town. If George and Mary looked over their shoulders, there it would be, the Amberson mansion, now owned by the slumlord Mr. Potter, who never liked Major Amberson anyway and was more than happy to use his political juice to get the family thrown out so he could take over not only the houses the Major had built on his property, but the great mansion itself, which he chopped up into small dingy apartments with their "kitchenettes."

Was George Bailey named for that fine citizen George Amberson Minifer? Unlikely, as when George Bailey was born, George Minifer was still hated, or forgotten. Maybe the one person who existed in both films would know, but probably not -- he was a policeman with a couple of brief lines in 1915 and doesn't even rate being credited in 1946.

Did Bailey grow up knowing Minifer? Was the reformed Minifer a friend or mentor to Bailey? Did Mr. Gower take over the drugstore where Lucy Morgan once had a fainting spell?

Or would the real future of that Midland city of the Ambersons be what we see in George Bailey's vision of "Potterville?" That seems more likely . . .

Just another imaginary landscape, and also long gone, as gone as the full cut of Welles' film, as the Encino lot was torn down in 1950. But now I want to see as many RKO films as I can from that period, and see what new landscapes and connections they offer me.

collisionwork: (mary worth)
I've written about some favorite performers before, and there's a new meme going around the film blogs that appeals to the OCD listmaker in me.

Nathaniel R. at Film Experience Blog innocently started a meme nine days ago that, as he notes, evolved out of control - name and post pictures of your 20 All-Time Favorite Actresses (an original part of his meme seems to have also been to just put them in no particular order, and without comment, which has fallen by the wayside for most others doing this). Why? Well, as he says, "Sometimes you need to be reminded."

He tagged a few people, and they tagged a few, and then everyone just started doing it, tagged or not (ah, film geekery! the province of the OCD and/or slight Asperger's sufferers!). Now dozens of lists are up. Maybe over a hundred (Nathaniel had to stop linking to them; there wasn't time or space). I made up a list, but wasn't going to post it until I got a little bored last night and started searching for pictures of the women I'd had down. Once I got the pictures and cleaned them up, well, there was no reason not to post.

Rules in making the list for myself were: The listed actresses were to be "favorites" based on movie performances only, which not only took out all the stage actresses I work with, of course (several of whom, no joke, would be at the top of my list) but also actresses whose work I primarily love from television - so that took out Helen Mirren, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Melissa Leo. Also, to narrow it down and make it workable, they had to have more than one "key performance" which made them a Favorite - which took out most of my favorite individual performances from all of film, from Agnes Moorehead, Naomi Watts, Julia Ormond, Melanie Lynskey, Miriam Hopkins, Janet Gaynor, Marlene Dietrich, Kim Novak, Tippi Hedren, and Greta Garbo.

And I wound up eliminating a number of actresses who I would have thought would be here, whose work is wider and more varied than the ones below, but who haven't had - for me - those two or three moments that jump to another level and really grab me the same way: Jodie Foster, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, Cate Blanchett, Gloria Grahame, Marie Windsor, Tilda Swinton, and Elizabeth Russell. There, with all the ones I've now named PRIOR to my list, you have a good alternate 21 runners-up. Throw in Anna Faris for 22, just because (yeah, I'm among those who're waiting for her to get a really good part).

So here - for this week at least (and it's changed several times in the week I've had the list sitting around) - are my 20 Favorite Movie Actresses, in alphabetical order:

Jenny Agutter - Walkabout, Logan's Run, Equus, An American Werewolf in London
Jenny Agutter

Ingrid Bergman - Casablanca, Notorious, Under Capricorn, Murder on the Orient Express, Autumn Sonata
Ingrid Bergman

Ellen Burstyn - Pit Stop, The Last Picture Show, The Exorcist, Same Time, Next Year, Resurrection, Requiem for a Dream
Ellen Burstyn

Kathleen Byron - A Matter of Life and Death, Black Narcissus, The Small Back Room
Kathleen Byron

Angie Dickinson - Rio Bravo, The Killers, Point Blank, Dressed to Kill
Angie Dickinson

Miss Pamela Grier - The Big Bird Cage, Coffy, Foxy Brown, Sheba, Baby, Friday Foster, Fort Apache The Bronx, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Jackie Brown, Ghosts of Mars
Pam Grier

Jessica Harper - Inserts, Phantom of the Paradise, Love and Death, Suspiria, Stardust Memories, Shock Treatment, Pennies from Heaven, My Favorite Year, Minority Report
Jessica Harper

Holly Hunter - Raising Arizona, Broadcast News, The Piano, The Firm, Crash, A Life Less Ordinary, Timecode, O Brother Where Art Thou?
Holly Hunter

Kim Hunter - The Seventh Victim, A Matter of Life and Death, A Streetcar Named Desire, Escape from the Planet of the Apes
Kim Hunter

Anna Karina - Une femme est une femme, Vivre sa vie: Film en douze tableaux, Bande à part, Alphaville, une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution, Pierrot le fou, Made in U.S.A.
Anna Karina

Nicole Kidman - Dead Calm, Billy Bathgate, Malice, To Die For, The Portrait of a Lady, Eyes Wide Shut, The Others, Dogville
Nicole Kidman

Sheryl Lee - Wild at Heart, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, Backbeat, Mother Night
Sheryl Lee

Brigitte Lin - Police Story, Peking Opera Blues, Swordsman II, The Bride with White Hair, Chungking Express
Brigitte Lin

Julianne Moore - The Fugitive, Safe, Assassins, Boogie Nights, The Big Lebowski, Psycho, Magnolia, Not I, The Hours, I'm Not There
Julianne Moore

Michelle Pfeiffer - Scarface, Into the Night, Sweet Liberty, Dangerous Liaisons, The Russia House, Batman Returns, The Age of Innocence
Michelle Pfeiffer

Vanessa Redgrave - Blowup, The Devils, Murder on the Orient Express, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, Prick Up Your Ears, Mission: Impossible
Vanessa Redgrave

Theresa Russell - Bad Timing, Eureka, Insignificance, Kafka, Wild Things
Theresa Russell

Sissy Spacek - Badlands, Carrie, 3 Women, Missing, The Straight Story
Sissy Spacek

Liv Ullmann - Persona, Shame, Hour of the Wolf, The Passion of Anna, Scenes from a Marriage
Liv Ullmann

Kate Winslet - Heavenly Creatures, Jude, Holy Smoke, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Romance & Cigarettes
Kate Winslet

Now of course, I want to pick the men . . . let's see . . . Bogie . . . Clooney . . . Dourif . . . Brando . . . Marvin . . . Hoskins . . .

UPDATE

Daniel McKleinfeld correctly notes that I left off someone I should not have. I'll leave the above 20, but really, I should be replacing Jenny Agutter with:

Jennifer Jason Leigh - Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Flesh + Blood, The Hitcher, Last Exit to Brooklyn, Rush, Single White Female, Short Cuts, The Hudsucker Proxy, Georgia, Dolores Claiborne, Kansas City, eXistenZ
Jennifer Jason Leigh

collisionwork: (Tulse Luper)
There's a couple of movie memes going around that no one's tagged me on, but have got me thinking enough to have to do them anyway and post.

So, a couple months ago a meme started where you name your favorite movie for every letter of the alphabet. It's hard with some letters, because you either have to search hard and include also-rans in some places, and pick between five or six for others, but I came up with a pretty good 26 that I can get behind:

A: The Age of Innocence
B: Bad Timing
C: Citizen Kane
D: Duck Amuck
E: Eraserhead
F: The Falls
G: Glen or Glenda?
H: How I Won the War
I: INLAND EMPIRE
J: Jackie Brown
K: Kiss Me Deadly
L: The Last Picture Show
M: Magical Maestro
N: Nothing Lasts Forever
O: Once Upon a Time in the West
P: Point Blank
Q: Quatermass and the Pit
R: The Rules of the Game
S: The Seventh Victim
T: Two or Three Things I Know About Her
U: Urgh! A Music War
V: Videodrome
W: Wavelength
X: X: The Unheard Music
Y: Yojimbo
Z: A Zed & Two Noughts

Maybe I'll do the "Twenty Favorite Movie Actresses" one next . . .

collisionwork: (Big Gun)
Every now and then something comes along that makes me believe Satire is dead. That nothing you could make up could ever be as insane and unbelievable as something that someone, somewhere thinks is actually A Good Idea.

And then, once you've gotten used to whatever craziness that was, something else comes along and tops it. Like the following.

This is real. It's from the front page of The Hollywood Reporter (thanks for the pointer, Jeff):

'Monopoly' has electric company
Ridley Scott will direct; Pamela Pettler to write screenplay
By Steven Zeitchik
Nov 12, 2008, 01:00 AM ET

The Hasbro-Universal collaboration "Monopoly" is jumping a large number of spaces up the board.

The feature project has brought on Pamela Pettler to write the screenplay; She penned Tim Burton's "Corpse Bride," Gil Kenan's "Monster House" and the upcoming animated adventure "9," produced by Burton and Timur Bekmambetov.

And Ridley Scott, who has been attached as a producer on "Monopoly" and has been mentioned as a possible director, is now officially attached to helm the project, with an eye toward giving it a futuristic sheen along the lines of his iconic "Blade Runner."

In addition to Scott, Giannina Facio and Hasbro's Brian Goldner are also producing the movie, which will shape a narrative out of the iconic real-estate game. Lawrence Grey will oversee for Universal and Bennett Schneir will oversee for Hasbro.

"Monopoly" marks the latest Hasbro property to look to pass go and head to the big screen. Board games and branded properties have become more attractive as studios look to mitigate risk by finding built-in audiences.

Universal is working with Hasbro on several projects as part of a long-term development deal. Platinum Dunes is producing its feature adaptation of "Ouija Board," while the maritime classic "Battleship" is also in development. Elsewhere at Hasbro, Paramount this summer is set to release Stephen Sommers' feature based on its "G.I. Joe" character. And "Trivial Pursuit: America Plays" is now airing as a syndicated television program.

Hasbro, Scott and Pettler are all repped by WMA.








{sigh} I'm looking into the rights for "Yahtzee!"

collisionwork: (Tulse Luper)
Earlier this year, I posted a list of my "50 Favorite Movies." As I noted then, if you were to go through all of my notebooks (as I sometimes do, all the way back to age 15 or so, looking for interesting ideas to develop I'd forgotten about), you find these lists, of varied length (10 films, 15 films, 20 films, 25 films), carefully dated, occurring here and there, months apart, sometimes years, sometimes just weeks.

No good reason to do this really, especially at first (except if you're a film buff, you get asked what your favorites are fairly often, so making lists means you usually don't forget them). Now that it's been years of doing this, I like to go back and see what's stayed or vanished or newly appeared on my lists, and what filmmakers I love but who don't even have one film on the list (most often, as below, Powell & Pressburger, Ken Russell, Kurosawa, Bergman, Tarkovsky, with whom their entire oeuvre means more to me than any individual film; Godard used to always be in this bunch, too).

Looking over a list of my "favorite films" on Facebook today, I felt that a few things were missing. By the time I added the missing ones, today's list was at 35. This time I didn't stop at a "5" because that's how lists normally work (last time I hit 45 and then kinda forced in another 5 to make an even 50), I just stopped when I had a list of the very VERY special films that make me feel a little more something (at least today, right now) when I think of them than any other movies do. This doesn't always mean they're "great," of course (there are movies generally regarded as "bad," and VERY understandably so, below), but they ARE my Favorites - that is, when I think of any one of these movies, I am overwhelmed with a great sense of love for and protection of them, and want to see them again IMMEDIATELY (luckily, I own video copies of some viewable kind of all but 4 of them).

The list is maybe a bit more English-language and American than last time - I think I was self-conscious about that then and forced in some non-English films to try and seem less USA-centric. Well, I am that, I guess.

Here's today's 35 Favorite Movies of mine:

Sherlock, Jr. - directed by Buster Keaton, 1924
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans - directed by F.W. Murnau, 1927
Citizen Kane - directed by Orson Welles, 1941
The Seventh Victim - directed by Mark Robson, 1943
Detour - directed by Edgar G. Ulmer, 1945
Magical Maestro - directed by Tex Avery, 1952
Duck Amuck - directed by Charles M. Jones, 1953
Glen or Glenda? - directed by Edward D. Wood, Jr., 1953
Kiss Me Deadly - directed by Robert Aldrich, 1955
The Birds - directed by Alfred Hitchcock, 1963
Contempt - directed by Jean-Luc Godard, 1963
Two or Three Things I Know About Her - directed by Jean-Luc Godard, 1967
Wavelength - directed by Michael Snow, 1967
Point Blank - directed by John Boorman, 1967
How I Won the War - directed by Richard Lester, 1967
2001: A Space Odyssey - directed by Stanley Kubrick, 1968
Performance - directed by Donald Cammell & Nicolas Roeg, 1970
THX-1138 - directed by George Lucas, 1971
The Last Picture Show - directed by Peter Bogdanovich, 1971
Tout Va Bien - directed by Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin, 1972
Mean Streets - directed by Martin Scorcese, 1973
Singing on the Treadmill - directed by Gyula Gazdag, 1974
Barry Lyndon - directed by Stanley Kubrick, 1975
Eraserhead - directed by David Lynch, 1977
The Falls - directed by Peter Greenaway, 1980
Bad Timing - directed by Nicolas Roeg, 1980
Stardust Memories - directed by Woody Allen, 1980
Videodrome - directed by David Cronenberg, 1983
Tough Guys Don't Dance - directed by Norman Mailer, 1987
Road House - directed by Rowdy Harrington, 1989
Barton Fink - directed by Joel Coen, 1991
The Age of Innocence - directed by Martin Scorcese, 1993
Heavenly Creatures - directed by Peter Jackson, 1994
Schizopolis - directed by Steven Soderbergh, 1996
Lost Highway - directed by David Lynch, 1997

Any connecting threads here? I'm a little surprised to see that most of them (at least 26, but maybe more if I thought about it) deal with problems of identity in some way, as in "Who Is This Person?" or "Who Are You?" or "Who is ANY person?" or mistaken identities, or shifting identities, or masks and hidden identities. Hmmn.

collisionwork: (Tulse Luper)
So I'm feeling better - not 100%, but well enough to go start directing today, though I should probably keep as far away from the actors as I possibly can. Berit will also be going back to work house managing the UTC#61 shows at Walkerspace after four days down.

Even such a relatively short, small-cast piece as this Penny Dreadful is giving me agita when it comes to rehearsal schedules and the like. Of course I can't get actors together who are in scenes together until performance/tech day! Of course. It'll work fine. Just wish I could see it work sooner and more often.

Back over at the meme from a few days ago, there are still six quotes left unidentified out of the 15 quotes from my 16 Top Favorite Movies (as one of the Top 15 had no "memorable quotes" on IMDb). Some of them are hard ones I didn't expect anyone to get, but some of them should have been pegged by now.

Well, here's some help. Since I had to figure out what my top 15 films were right now (an occasional chore - someday I should post the many lists of "favorite films" I have, all carefully dated as I knew the lists would change, going back over 20 years), I had to start with a bigger list and winnow it down. So I went to my IMDB page where I've rated several thousand movies (I was trying to give a rating to EVERY movie I've ever seen, but I haven't kept up with it) - you can see these ratings HERE - and grabbed the films from my highest-rated ones that just leaped out at me and made me just feel "favorite film." I wound up with a list of 45, so I've gone back and added another five.

Here's my 50 Favorite Films as of today:

The Age of Innocence (1993) by Martin Scorcese
Apocalypse Now (1979) by Francis Coppola
Bad Timing (1980) by Nicolas Roeg
Barry Lyndon (1975) by Stanley Kubrick
Barton Fink (1991) by Joel and Ethan Coen
Black Narcissus (1947) by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
Citizen Kane (1941) by Orson Welles
Contempt (1963) by Jean-Luc Godard
Detour (1945) by Edgar G. Ulmer
The Devils (1971) by Ken Russell
Double Indemnity (1944) by Billy Wilder
Duck Amuck (1953) by Chuck Jones
Eraserhead (1977) by David Lynch
The Falls (1980) by Peter Greenaway
Glen or Glenda? (1953) by Edward D. Wood Jr.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966) by Sergio Leone
Head (1968) by Bob Rafelson et al.
Heavenly Creatures (1994) by Peter Jackson
Hellzapoppin' (1941) by Erle C. Kenton et al.
High and Low (1963) by Akira Kurosawa
Hour of the Wolf (1968) by Ingmar Bergman
How I Won the War (1967) by Richard Lester
Jackie Brown (1997) by Quentin Tarantino
The Killers (1964) by Don Siegel
Kiss Me Deadly (1955) by Robert Aldrich
The Last Picture Show (1971) by Peter Bogdanovich
Lost Highway (1997) by David Lynch
Mean Streets (1973) by Martin Scorcese
Mulholland Dr. (2001) by David Lynch
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) by Sergio Leone
Peeping Tom (1960) by Michael Powell
Performance (1970) by Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg
Persona (1966) by Ingmar Bergman
Point Blank (1967) by John Boorman
The Red Shoes (1948) by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
Schizopolis (1996) by Steven Soderbergh
The Seventh Victim (1943) by Mark Robson and Val Lewton
Singing on the Treadmill (1974) by Gyula Gazdag
Sorcerer (1977) by William Friedkin
Stardust Memories (1980) by Woody Allen
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927) by F.W. Murnau
Targets (1968) by Peter Bogdanovich
THX-1138 (1971) by George Lucas and Walter Murch
Tout Va Bien (1972) by Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin
2 or 3 Things That I Know About Her (1967) by Jean-Luc Godard
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) by Stanley Kubrick
Videodrome (1983) by David Cronenberg
W.R. - Mysteries of the Organism (1971) by Dusan Makavejev
Wavelength (1967) by Michael Snow
A Zed & Two Noughts (1985) by Peter Greenaway

Ask me again in a few days and there could be 5-10 changes on there. But the remaining unidentified six quotes are from among these films . . .

collisionwork: (eraserhead)
This was interesting. Or at least an enjoyable waste of time.

Edward Copeland over at his blog does a little Oscar survey every year, asking the online film geek community to rank the five best and worst winners from the past in an Academy Award category. In 2006, he did the Best and Worst of the Best Pictures. In 2007, the Best and Worst of the Best Actress performances. I think I voted in the first, but not the second. It began to feel silly trying to judge one against another. Also, the "worst" always seemed to be about personal feelings toward the people involved, not any kind of actual attempt at judging the work itself (especially with the "Worst" actresses, where the criticism of younger, pretty actresses who have the TEMERITY to try to be RESPECTED as ACTRESSES headed well into misogyny). And it's still a small sample of actual cinema in any case, with what I would consider Best and Worst nowhere near being nominated most of the time.

This year, Edward turns to the Best Actor category. I looked over the list and wasn't bothering thinking about it after that - nothing made me feel like I wanted to try and decide one over the other with the actors. But from a few other posts around his and other blogs, it looks like the voting was really light this year - maybe a few others had the same feeling as me - and as I had nothing to do on a nasty rainy night, what the hell . . . I'll try and rank the Best Actors as seen by AMPAS.

I left off any performances I hadn't seen, or at least hadn't seen enough of to feel qualified to judge, which was a few - 15 or so I think. I was actually pretty interested in how this came out - I guess it says something about some kind of acting that I like. Quite a few performances I liked in movies I didn't, and really few performances I could knock at all, until we get to about the bottom 10 or so. You send in only your top five and bottom five to the survey, but in order to get those I had to cut and paste around a list of all of them, and since I wound up with the whole list for myself, here it is, from my favorite to least-favorite of the Best Actor Oscar performances, top to bottom:

Marlon Brando - On the Waterfront
Fredric March - Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Alec Guinness - Bridge on the River Kwai
George C. Scott - Patton
Marlon Brando - The Godfather
Ray Milland - The Lost Weekend
Fredric March - The Best Years of Our Lives
Humphrey Bogart - The African Queen
Gregory Peck - To Kill a Mockingbird
Gene Hackman - The French Connection
Nicolas Cage - Leaving Las Vegas
Ben Kingsley - Gandhi
Daniel Day-Lewis - My Left Foot
Lee Marvin - Cat Ballou
Robert De Niro - Raging Bull
Clark Gable - It Happened One Night
Peter Finch - Network
Jack Nicholson - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Rod Steiger - In the Heat of the Night
Laurence Olivier - Hamlet
William Hurt - Kiss of the Spider Woman
Jamie Foxx - Ray
Ernest Borgnine - Marty
Jeremy Irons - Reversal of Fortune
Tom Hanks - Philadelphia
Gary Cooper - High Noon
F. Murray Abraham - Amadeus
Burt Lancaster - Elmer Gantry
James Cagney - Yankee Doodle Dandy
Rex Harrison - My Fair Lady
Victor McLaglen - The Informer
Broderick Crawford - All the King's Men
Paul Scofield - A Man for All Seasons
Jose Ferrer - Cyrano de Bergerac
John Wayne - True Grit
Dustin Hoffman - Rain Man
Maximilian Schell - Judgment at Nuremberg
Robert Duvall - Tender Mercies
Yul Brinner - The King and I
William Holden - Stalag 17
Cliff Robertson - Charly
David Niven - Separate Tables
Sidney Poitier - Lilies of the Field
Jack Lemmon - Save the Tiger
Philip Seymour Hoffman - Capote
Gary Cooper - Sergeant York
James Stewart - The Philadelphia Story
Michael Douglas - Wall Street
Tom Hanks - Forrest Gump
Ronald Colman - A Double Life
Jon Voight - Coming Home
Dustin Hoffman - Kramer Vs. Kramer
Anthony Hopkins - The Silence of the Lambs
Art Carney - Harry and Tonto
Wallace Beery - The Champ
Jack Nicholson - As Good As It Gets
Paul Newman - The Color of Money
Kevin Spacey - American Beauty
Bing Crosby - Going My Way
Russell Crowe - Gladiator
Charlton Heston - Ben-Hur
Roberto Benigni - Life Is Beautiful
Richard Dreyfuss - The Goodbye Girl
Henry Fonda - On Golden Pond
Al Pacino - Scent of a Woman

And if I had to pick my five favorite male/female performances from all of film? Never actually even thought of that before . . . and it's odd what comes up.

For men, Bob Hoskins in The Long Good Friday, Lee Marvin in The Killers, Brad Dourif in The Exorcist III, Richard Erdman in Cry Danger, and Marlon Brando in Last Tango in Paris.

For women, Naomi Watts in Mulholland Dr., Theresa Russell in Bad Timing, Agnes Moorehead in The Magnificent Ambersons, Julia Ormond in The Baby of Macon, and Sheryl Lee in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.

At least, that's what it all looks like tonight. Ask me again tomorrow and it could all be different . . .

collisionwork: (kwizatz hadarach)
Various writings by guitar virtuoso Robert Fripp have been much more of interest and inspiration to me than his music for about 20 years now (whenever it was I started picking up his "Guitar Craft Manifestos" at Manny Maris' late, lamented alt-music store on Prince near Mulberry (which was it? "Lunch For Your Ears" or "Rocks In Your Head?" Whichever one wasn't on Spring near West Broadway - Manny worked there first, then started his own place further east . . .).

When caught in the various binds of "what am I to do next?", "what should I be doing?", and the occasional "why am I even doing this?", Fripp's writings have been a gentle guide towards finding a direction when one is needed (like getting a slight push in a rowboat on a calm lake or blowing softly on a piece of floating tissue paper). More general than Eno and Schmidt's Oblique Strategies, which come in handy when blocked in specific working situations, Fripp helps answer the "whys" rather than the "what nows" - and once you have a few of the former answered the latter begin to take care of themselves.

Fripp, dealing with music rather than theatre, often deals with the "why" of performance in public as desirable or not, necessary or not, his concerns with Music being primarily (entirely?) between the musician/interpreter and Music itself. Theatre, being all about public performance, does not have many of these same concerns . . . should it? . . . but much of the thinking still travels from medium to medium . . .


from Robert Fripp's Diary, October 30, 2007:

Performance / presentation in public is a superb way of getting to know ourselves & our mechanics, with a primary aim: to become aware of our illusions. This line of education is strong stuff, and holds dangers:

if we are unpopular with members of the public, the advice they offer (not always attenuated by compassion & forms of refined expression) may do us damage;

if we become popular, our illusions & self-deception become reinforced & strengthened, that fans (who have the right to do so) may live vicariously the thrills & wonder of idealised celebrity;

if we are very popular, representatives of commerce & those who profit from our work, act to encourage our illusions that they may strengthen their hold upon us, and we become more susceptible to business control & direction.

So, for the novice: better to go carefully, preferably with those of greater experience; better to be well-practised; better to be sure of one’s larger aim.

For the more experienced: best to go carefully; best to be well-practised; best to be sure of one’s life-aim; best to know the poverty of our nature (so there is less in the way to prevent music moving out, and inappropriate reactions / repercussions getting in); best to remember Music creates the musician, and who serves the Muse; best to trust the inexpressible benevolence of the Creative Impulse; and best of all - have a really good agent.



Recently, I have been of a distracted and restless nature. I had wanted to rest myself for some time before starting up on "next year's shows" but have wound up making myself fidgety and scattered. Luckily, I have a tech gig and short-term directing-on-commission gig before 2008 to keep me occupied.

But I want to be working on my own things soon, even though I don't really know what those things are as yet (except for the return of Harry in Love). I have bits and pieces of Spell, which appears to be about an American Terrorist in America (a lot like my interpretation of Foreman's Miss Universal Happiness from 1999), and images in mind for another show of grey men in grey suits in grey rooms doing bad things to innocent people they never see (which might or might not be the primarily dance/movement piece I want to do) - lots of clocks and papers. Desks. Metal and glass. Fluorescent tubes.

Spell was being written with a specific actress's voice in mind for the main character (Ann), but the actress is quitting theatre for the time being, so I'd have to recast (at least mentally, it's not like I had or could have had any definite way of knowing this actress would play the part). Any writing I'll do for a while will continue to be in her voice to keep the tone consistent, but I'll probably rewrite it all if I use the fragments I have with another actress (being most interested right now in creating new work for specific actors, their voices, their persons, their emotional tones and timbres). The character has been splitting, anyway, into a male character as well, Andy, who might be Ann's brother (possibly dead, possibly not, possibly imaginary, possibly the "real," dominant figure), or lover, or they just might be the male and female sides of one person externalized. I don't know yet, but I suspect the last. I'll know when it's happening on stage. Ann talks more, though. Still.

While fidgeting around, I've been returning to a lot of old favorite, "comfort food" movies. It started with the horror films around Halloween, but kept going into pulling out and throwing on a lot more movies than have been running here for some time. We've gone through Candyman (Bernard Rose, music by Philip Glass), The Brood (David Cronenberg, photographed by Mark Irwin), Scream (Wes Craven, photographed by Mark Irwin), The Tomb of Ligeia (Roger Corman, written by Robert Towne), The Masque of the Red Death (Roger Corman, photographed by Nicolas Roeg), Black Christmas (Bob Clark), 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick), Barry Lyndon (Stanley Kubrick, photographed by John Alcott), The Age of Innocence (Martin Scorcese), The Devils (Ken Russell, designed by Derek Jarman, photographed by David Watkin), How I Won the War (Richard Lester, photographed by David Watkin), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Richard Lester, photographed by Nicolas Roeg), THX-1138 (George Lucas), Videodrome (David Cronenberg, photographed by Mark Irwin), Crash (David Cronenberg), Halloween (John Carpenter, photographed by Dean Cundey, camera operated by Ray Stella), The Haunting (Robert Wise, photographed by Davis Boulton), and the 7-episode series On The Air, created by David Lynch and Mark Frost. Mostly horror, but slowly moving outward as connections were made or found.

I've got a page of my "favorite movies" on YMDb ("Your Movie Database") HERE. It changes. Fairly frequently. Lots of things drop off and on (especially Sherlock Jr., Sunrise, and 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her).

I seem to be going through a lot of these old favorites trying to figure out what holds them all together in some way. Why these? What do I like? What am I interested in looking at right now? Is it the same damn things I've been looking at for 10 years now? How do I make this new for myself?

And I think I was wrong in what I said at the start here. Completely and utterly wrong. Fripp's words are an inspiration, but in the end nothing inspires as much as the tactile quality of the work . . . the Work is always what matters -- the guitar solo on "Baby's on Fire," or the lead line on "'Heroes'" have said and meant more to me for decades now than any words could, as has the quality of red captured by Nic Roeg in photographing the costumes of the Red Death and Zero Mostel, the firetrucks in Fahrenheit 451, and the splattered and sprayed paint in Performance. These are the inspirations I need more for myself right now . . .

Words are a trick. Words are a trap.

collisionwork: (robert blake)
Happy Halloween!

Ed Hardy Jr., over at Shoot the Projectionist, will, at some point today, in honor of the holiday, be posting a list of the top "31 Flicks That Give You the Willies," as voted on by readers of his blog (and other interested parties).

He started by asking for nominations, and made up a list of 183 nominees from 67 ballots that got more than just 1 vote. Then the floor was opened for votes for the top 31 - to be listed in order of preference (top film gets 31 points, down the list to the final one getting 1 point). It was a fun, if difficult, exercise (way too many good ones).

Here's my top 31 out of the 183 films on the nomination list:


1. Eraserhead (1977; David Lynch)
2. Peeping Tom (1960; Michael Powell)
3. The Devils (1971; Ken Russell)
4. Hour of the Wolf (1968; Ingmar Bergman)
5. Lost Highway (1997; David Lynch)
6. Night of the Living Dead (1968; George Romero)
7. The Brood (1979; David Cronenberg)
8. The Birds (1963; Alfred Hitchcock)
9. Dawn of the Dead (1978; George Romero)
10. Targets (1968; Peter Bogdanovich)
11. Videodrome (1983; David Cronenberg)
12. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974; Tobe Hooper)
13. Don’t Look Now (1973; Nicolas Roeg)
14. The Wicker Man (1973; Robin Hardy)
15. The Exorcist (1973; William Friedkin)
16. The Exorcist III (1990; William Peter Blatty)
17. Black Christmas (1974: Bob Clark)
18. Halloween (1978; John Carpenter)
19. The Thing (1982; John Carpenter)
20. I Walked with a Zombie (1943; Jacques Tourneur)
21. Candyman (1992; Bernard Rose)
22. Black Sabbath (1963; Mario Bava)
23. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992; David Lynch)
24. Creepshow (1982; George Romero)
25. The Haunting (1963; Robert Wise)
26. Carnival of Souls (1962; Herk Harvey)
27. Kill, Baby…Kill! (1966; Mario Bava)
28. Martin (1977; George Romero)
29. Shivers (1975; David Cronenberg)
30. Scream (1996; Wes Craven)
31. The Evil Dead (1981; Sam Raimi)

There's a bit of strange algebra going on in picking the 31 top ones that "give me the willies," as it winds up being a big balance between "favorites" and "ones that creep me out." Eraserhead doesn't really give me the willies so much anymore, but it's my favorite film, so it goes to the top of the list anyway. Looking at Cronenberg, Videodrome is one of my favorite films, but The Brood has more "willy-giving" going on, so it comes in above the former. So it's a balance between what I love and what scares the bejeezus out of me.

Ah, Ed's just posted the list since I wrote the above. Hmmmn. Yeah, as always, things pretty much even out and the more obscure titles drop between the cracks. But 14 ones I listed are on there - obvious ones, classics - as well as the six I had the hardest time eliminating from my list and would have been #32-37.

Well, I've got 15 of my own list above on DVD, and another 10 on tape, so I'll find a selection to spend a few hours with today before going off to The Crow: Final at The Brick tonight (right now, I'm suspecting I'll put on Candyman, Scream, Black Christmas, and maybe The Haunting and/or The Brood).

Stay sick and turn blue!

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