Comments on watching and making films.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cheap art & Cheap Sex

Cheap art is like cheap sex.

Article by tara

Cheap art & cheap sex whittle away at your soul. They don’t give you much and they allow you to give even less. Cheap sex may not have strings but it pulls achingly at your heart over time. Cheap sex never pays off. Cheap sex may feel good at first but it feels bad much longer. Cheap sex is a transaction, not a relationship. Its tit for tat. Heavy [petting] on tit – short on tat. It’s confusing, often reckless, always thoughtless. Its of the moment (or born of the past) and not for the long haul.

Yes, cheap art is a lot like cheap sex.

Cheap art is desperate & dirty. It puts the emphasis on dollars (though few) and not on inspiration. There’s no promise of the future, only questions of now. Cheap art has no value for the consumer, little meaning to the creator – its wasted effort.

Cheap art disregards the beauty of the temptress and ignores the eye of the beholder.

No, there is no such thing as cheap art or cheap sex.

Even when you put a price tag or a limitation on them, they cost big in the long term. Art & sex are things to be valued. Cherished.

Art & sex require investment.

Commitment is putting your money where your heart is.
Kelly Diels

What is cheap – dollars & cents or careless flings – is neither art nor sex. It’s a thrill – a whim. Here today, gone tomorrow. A thrill with consequences.

When it comes to selling art, great care must be taken. Value and meaning should be considered together – never separated. Putting a low price tag on a piece of art is like donning cheap pleather pants and wondering why the guys who try to hook up with you wear Ed Hardy t-shirts.

There’s no respect. An investment requires respect, trust. You can give away art & sex for pennies on the dollar – but don’t expect much in return.

Just as you invest your soul in each brushstroke, idea, word, or touch to create your personal brand of art, you must ask the consumer – your partner – your patron – to invest. Artist & patron are lovers. They are equal halves in a relationship of great importance. The demands & responsibilities of both are great. One most hold the other accountable – gently.

If you’ve been giving yourself away, it’s time to own your worth. Time to forget cheap and look for an investment. Your art – and your body – are not toys on the shelf of a dollar store. Treat your art with respect, ask – confidently – for an investment, and never let “cheap” get in the way of your success.

Casey Affleck Nearly Broke After 'I'm Still Here' Disaster

Casey Affleck Nearly Broke After 'I'm Still Here' Disaster

Article By Will Leitch

The fiasco that is "I'm Still Here," the mock-documentary aboutJoaquin Phoenix's apparently fake meltdown over the last two years, has been all-encompassing. The film was a box-office flop: It has earned only $259,000 to date after months of pre-release hype. It's been eviscerated by critics and has been generally received as a smug movie-star kiss-off to a gossip-obsessed public.

Phoenix has taken his fair share of hits -- and he'll surely take more when he returns to David Letterman's show tonight -- but the film's true casualty might be its director, fellow actor Casey Affleck.

Affleck, also Phoenix's brother-in-law, tells The Daily Telegraphthat the two-year odyssey of making the film nearly bankrupted him and left his own career in ruins.

"Having something at stake is a great motivator and once this thing became public for me that was very helpful because there was no question: I had to see it through, no matter how long it took. I went broke. I hadn't worked for more than a year, and I was pouring money into the movie. I had to stop for a month to do The Killer Inside Me. If I hadn't, I wouldn't have been able to finish the film - I was out of money. There was a lot at stake financially and, if we had left [the hoax] there, it would have been very damaging to Joaquin's career."

If Phoenix can survive Letterman's interrogation tonight, Hollywood seems eager to welcome him back. He has already been attached to several upcoming plum roles, including a potential Oscar-bait turn as J. Edgar Hoover's lover Clyde Tolson in Clint Eastwood's biopic "Hoover." (Leonardo DiCapriois expected to play Hoover.)

Affleck has been less fortunate. Despite receiving excellent notices for his roles in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" (starring opposite Brad Pitt) and "Gone Baby Gone"(directed by his brother Ben), Affleck doesn't have quite the cache that Phoenix has. He's acted in only one film since 2007 and is currently in production on Ridley Scott's "The Kind One," about an amnesiac mob soldier. But if you saw his appearance on Jay Leno last night, it's obvious Casey is deep into damage control.

At least matters are going well for one member of Casey's family: Brother Ben is bathing in the good notices and big opening grosses for his movie "The Town," and some are even whispering that the film could be an Oscar contender. If Casey needs a career boost in the next year or two, he doesn't have to look far for help.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Bryan Lee O'Malley's graphic novel series Scott Pilgrim was ripe for film adaptation, but its, honestly, a little surprising that someone took it up. With six volumes, Pilgrim would be VERY easy to do wrong. Enter Edgar Wright, the hotshot British director who has won the hearts of a world wide audience with the success of his previous efforts Shaun of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz. When it was announced that he was taking on Pilgrim, there was the normal groans, but the consensus seemed to be that if anyone could do it, he could.

Michael Cera stars as the films titular character, Scott Pilgrim. Scott lives his life in a relative daze, wherein he is the king of his own universe, and all of his friends are simply there to reiterate how awesome he is. He plays in a band, Sex Bob-Omb with his friend Steven Stills (Mark Webber) and ex-girlfriend Kim Pine (Allison Pill). He's going out with 17 year old Knives Chau (he's 22), and living in a small studio apartment with his gay friend Wallace Wells (Kieran Kulkin). His world is turned on its head, though, when he meets Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). In order to date Ramona, though, he has to break up with Knives. This isn't the least of his worries, though. He also has to defeat Ramona's seven evil ex-boyfriends, a league of pissed off guys (who happen to have super powers) that Ramona has left in her wake.

The biggest problem with adaptations is that the fans are always going to scream bloody murder if anything is changed or cut out. I've read the series, and I can tell you right now, I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this film! Wright did excise some things, but I think it was definitely for the better of the film. All of the parts were cast perfectly, especially Winstead as Ramona. She is the lynch pin of the whole story, the instigator which is the cause of all of the drama. Cera plays Pilgrim with a perfect amount of absent mindedness, narcissism, and light heartedness. Wright uses the old video game motif set up in the graphic novels to amazing effect, and the special effects in the film lend themselves perfectly without being overbearing or ridiculous. Pilgrim is one of the best films of the year, and may go down as being a high point in the careers of many of its actors.


I don't hesitate to say that Christopher Nolan is easily the rightful successor to, and our generation's, Steven Spielberg. His mastery of storytelling is top notch, and while Spielberg often seems to make sacrifices and compromises to sell every bit of his films to as broad an audience as possible, Nolan seems to have gotten away with being able to avoid that. Movies like The Dark Knight, Insomnia, and Memento are uncompromisingly dark, even in their sheer genius. While Inception shouldn't strike anyone as dark, it is, without a doubt, uncompromising.

The film follows a band of, well, let's call them agents (it's never defined in the film exactly what they are). Their job is to use a complex system of gadgetry, chemicals, and their own minds to inhabit someone's dream and steal their secrets. The group is led by Cobb (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), who, of course, has a complex history which most of the film hinges on. His objective is to find a legal way home so that he can visit his kids in America without being arrested upon entry for the murder of his wife (which she framed him for). He is offered a job by a mysterious Asian man (who's mind he had broken into earlier), with the promise that, upon the jobs successful completion, strings would be pulled and Cobb would get to return home legally. Cobb rallies a group of top experts to invade the mind of the heir of one of the worlds largest companies, and sets forth to do the job that will take him home.

Inception is amazing. In fact, it's beyond amazing, though I don't know what other word I could use that would really qualify just how awesome it truly is. The story is the key to it, and it's so solid, and so labyrinthine, that one barely has a chance to catch it all on the first go (the film definitely demands multiple viewings). The acting is top notch, and the effects are truly amazing. Nolan sets the bar so high with Inception, one is left to wonder if anyone will be able to top it, and if so, when will it happen?

DVD - The Brothers Warner

As time goes on, it seems like we are getting more and more little leaks about the goings on of early Hollywood. A fascinating world which has been, for almost a century, kept under a relatively tight lock and key. Historians are finally digging up the dirt, though, as studios are releasing more paper work and artifacts that paint an often times negative portrait of the movers and shakers that ran Hollywood.

The Brothers Warner is a film about four immigrant brothers who came together to try and carve out a small piece for themselves in the earliest phases of film distribution, and ended up building a studio who's legacy continues to shine bright. It discusses what each of them brought to the table, the good things that they did, and the not so good. The Brothers Warner is a well made and informative documentary, and for those of you that are interested in Hollywood history, you will enjoy this.

DVD - The Good Times Kid

Azazel Jacobs has had the pleasure of growing up with one of the most well known and respected Avant-Garde filmmakers as his father, Ken Jacobs. Now, this is not to say that The Good Times Kid is a product of nepotism by any means, or that Jacobs had some sort of advantage because of who his father is. The younger Jacobs, though, was obviously paying attention to what his father was doing, picking up pointers on filmmaking from a technical and storytelling standpoint.

The Good Times Kid stars Gerard Naranjo as Rodolfo Cano, as well as starring Jacobs as Rodolfo Cano. We'll call them Cano 1 and Cano 2 (Naranjo and Jacobs). When Cano 1 receives a notice to report for duty to the US Army, he is, understandably confused. He never signed up for the Army, nor is there a draft, so, believing he is the only Rodolfo Cano, he goes to the Army offices to straighten things out, when he meets Cano 2. Cano 1 follows Cano 2 home, finding Cano 2's girlfriend has set up a birthday party for him, which he refuses to take part in, as he's leaving her. Cano 1 invites himself into the house, and meets Diaz (played by Sara Diaz), Cano 2's girlfriend, and strikes up a relationship with her, which leads him deeper down the hole of trying to find out who this other Rodolfo Cano is.

I have no idea if there was any script involved, it seems like scenes were a loose idea that the actor's improv'd their way through. The acting was solid, though, so I can't say it was bothersome to me in any way. The story was fairly simple, and it seems as though they just used whatever things they had available to them for sets, props, etc. Most of the time, these kinds of films don't come off that great. You pretty much know that everyone involved had big plans and no resources. This film, however, didn't let it show. Everything about it was authentic enough that, even when you could tell they were utilizing what was at hand, it didn't seem like a compromise. Jacobs, Naranjo, and Diaz really created a (very small) world that the viewer could inhabit and enjoy themselves in for an hour and a half.