Vinyl Girls

People said they liked my writing. I noticed that I liked writing. I got a little motivated to write, but what? This blog is easy, with my muse, the dead Jane Spears. What else could I write? How could I enter that void of creating something from nothing? It has always fascinated me how writers do it. How they create a compelling story, characters, texture, all from nothing. So I decided to give it a go. I signed up for the writing team on Blood Lovers and that was easy! We had constraints. I had my sister to fight with! We wrote our hearts out for three hours and then saw our work taken and transformed by a team into the movie. I got the bug.

I teamed up with Ron, booked the loan of a camera from Bede and started to think what the hell are we going to do? People were all in the media about MySpace and Bebo and their daughters looking like Manchester Street or being preyed on in their innocence. Danah Boyd came to NZ talking sense and Russell Brown published it in the Listener. I intervewed my kids and they said ‘get over it’, ‘it doesn’t happen’ and ‘if it does, we’re more than capable of handling it’. So Ron and I had a lunch over how we’d handle this. Worked up and rejected a coupla dozen ideas then booked to meet and write on the Friday nite. It ended up starting at about ten, with me phoning the vinyl idea through about half an hour earlier.

By the next afternoon, when the cast, Elsie and her friend Kayla became available for their brief window, we had a rough script, basic props, shooting schedule, lights, camera and action. We shot, directed, stalled Kayla’s mum and got what you see today. Some quick pickups the next day and editing with the most basic shit, Windows Movie Maker. Did the job.

So here it is, my first video, Vinyl Girls (view on YouTube). Enjoy:

Loving Blood Lovers

Blood Lovers

Year: 2006

Length: 7 minutes

Media: Video

Rating: 5 out of 5

I’ve got a few movie reviews queued up but this one comes first because I helped make it.

The weekend before last, as part of the 48 Hours film competition, I joined a bunch of folks (lots of them Hanna’s friends and church-mates) to make a short film in 48 hours. We got the “monster” genre and the same givens as everybody else. I was in the writing team and then was “1st AD”. With no experience whatsoever, I think that title was a slight overstatement. Notwithstanding, I had a heap of fun. I like our movie, too and feel pretty good about my contribution to it. The judges weren’t as impressed. Perhaps they didn’t put as much emphasis on writing, acting and directing over production values (ours were fairly rough) as we thought they would.

But, decide for yourself.

By the way, watch this space. I have shot my mouth off about writing some scripts so I guess I have to now. Plus, I had such fun on the set and want to get more experience so I’m putting myself out to help on more films. Secret ambition: to be “Second Second Assistant Director” in something decent (and to know what that means).

Tags: movie vampire 48hours

Blood Lovers

Year: 2006

Length: 7 minutes

Media: Video

Rating: 5 out of 5

I’ve got a few movie reviews queued up but this one comes first because I helped make it.

The weekend before last, as part of the 48 Hours film competition, I joined a bunch of folks (lots of them Hanna’s friends and church-mates) to make a short film in 48 hours. We got the “monster” genre and the same givens as everybody else. I was in the writing team and then was “1st AD”. With no experience whatsoever, I think that title was a slight overstatement. Notwithstanding, I had a heap of fun. I like our movie, too and feel pretty good about my contribution to it. The judges weren’t as impressed. Perhaps they didn’t put as much emphasis on writing, acting and directing over production values (ours were fairly rough) as we thought they would.

But, decide for yourself.

By the way, watch this space. I have shot my mouth off about writing some scripts so I guess I have to now. Plus, I had such fun on the set and want to get more experience so I’m putting myself out to help on more films. Secret ambition: to be “Second Second Assistant Director” in something decent (and to know what that means).

Tags: movie vampire 48hours

Pain Spectroscopy

I wish I’d made this up but the idea came from email as spectroscopy, quite cool in itself. Ed tells me that spectroscopy is the analysis of light frequency to determine molecular structure. You go layer by layer, identifying the number of electrons in each. As a metaphor for this, it stands up.

I know from experience that the only way out is in. Now, again almost overwhelmed with pain, I return to this. Yes, it’s analysis but to do it probes the recesses. It’s a journey of sense-making and feeling, somehow groping forward. Basically, it’s pissing me off feeling this much pain and being so disabled from my daily life by it. I just want to give it the flick.

I indulged, today in pathetic recourse to “are you sure?”. She is. As if I hadn’t known that, I had been “waiting by the phone”, badly. Like a ventriloquist’s dummy, I was tipped into a new trough of lamentation. Jeezers, I am thinking, there’s gotta be something more to this than I realise. I mean, she’s a nice chick but we were holding hands, snuggling up a little.

OK, it’s the prism. But first, notice the alternating pattern between the layers.

1: Conscious, real person: No Playmate

I can’t call her Chicky Babe any more. How’s “L”? We’re not talking magazine here but biking or sitting around, dinner, brunch (she doesn’t do breakfast, apparently), picnic, lingeringly shopping for nice clothes, aromatic delicacies or absolute crap, skipping or scuttling about playing body games, fossicking, doing movies, domestically hanging curtains or fridge doors, music, art, architecture and garden-fancying. All that ordinary nice stuff. Some of it not so ordinary for me. Ok what? L being haughty, dismissive and presumptuous with me. Issuing orders in monosyllables. Chatting online to other blokes for the first five minutes after I arrive. Whoah, we are very close to my ‘ok’ boundary here.. but are we? Somehow, I know that it’s just play and when real stuff goes down, she’ll be there, pretty solid. And when it does, she is. Noticing how easy L is with herself and with people. Meeting Simon and being out about letting go being “on show”. Different way of doing it from me. With substance.

Feeling an electric sensation touching her skin.

Layer 1: no real person whom I like and have much easy fun with.

2: Unconscious, imagined person: No Partner

My unconscious, of course notices about three basic things: woman, friendly, around a lot and goes “latch”. A “live-in lover”. Someone to check in with at the end of each day, stretch out with, get up with, share intimate spaces of the house, comment on decor, share utensils with. No run-up.

Why would there be? A person whom i like and who is giving me attention. Who doesn’t like that? Actually, I know this “pattern” quite well, having had a decent selection of good fits, in my time.

Gotta query rejection here. Call me naive (or narcissistic) but I don’t think this is too bad a case of it. I’d know.

Layer 2: no match with the imagined missing person silhouette.

3: Conscious, real person: No Jane

It’s simple, really. L matches missing person mould but missing person mould is plastic, it’s been deformed, shaped by Jane. My whole life has. I can’t put a twisty tie around a cellophane breadcrumbs bag without her being right here with me.

C’mon, it’s been nine months, can I start having my life back? C’mon, it’s only been nine months, man, what do you expect? Amazing, Dan, only nine months and you’re giving it a go again! Do you know how sick i am of this little chat? I am and I’m not. I know you are here with me, Jane Spears. But what do I do with you, here like this but not? Damn, it’s like you get all the benefit from it, and all the power, and you don’t even exist.

L said she didn’t want to be the first one after Jane. Good call, Honey.

Layer 3: just who do you think i am?

4: Unconscious, imagined person, absent

This excerpt from (I think it’s a draft of the) script of the legendary movie Tombstone has it that, in a bedroom of the Hooker Ranch, Wyatt Earp says to Doc Holliday:

What makes a man like Ringo, Doc? What makes him do the things he does?

DOC

A man like Ringo’s got a great Empty hole right through the Middle of him and no matter what He does he can’t ever fill it. He Can’t kill enough or steal enough Or inflict enough pain to ever Fill it. And it drives him mad. Sick mad. Cold and dirty.

WYATT

So what does he want?

DOC

What does he want? He wants revenge.

WYATT

Revenge? For what?

[Doc looks at him, a look of purest sadness in his sunken eyes.]

DOC

Being born.

Abandonment, loss, lack. Stone-hugging. It’s not just childhood wounds, it’s the the war, and the war before that. Can’t escape this shit.

Layer 4: live with it.

Snippet of Futurism

A few snippets of enjoyment and a foray into futurism, amidst my misery.

I have joined a team that is entering the 48 Hours film competition this year. Hanna and a bunch of the folks working on her movie are in it. At least one of the team was in the group that won the South Island section last year with Bruised Gold. It’s just one of the many excellent short films on Cactuslab‘s nzshortfilm.com.

Not a film but a (Flash) movie, this ragdoll model of Telecom CEO Theresa Gattung is virtual about as visceral as I’ve found – and a heap of fun.

But the thing I’ve rewatched the most in the last couple of days is this nicely made short movie of They’re Made out of Meat, a short story by Terry Bisson.

I’ve been experiencing a rejuvenation of my interest in the social forces that drove the development of the abnormal brain size that humans have among primates. It seems to me that the social patterns of our lifestyle in the Web world have more in common with those of hunting or raiding in bands than with furrow-poughing, and pyramid or ship-building. It’s just that the scale of the connections is expanding so rapidly that we can barely cope. It makes sense, therefore that we are building machines (Google, etc) that can aggregate the responses of hundreds of millions of people and make them discoverable.

The only catch is that even what is discoverable will soon (five decades?) overwhelm us. The accelerating edge of the rate of change will impinge more and more closely until these precocious jungle animal brains can no longer cope, even with abstractions. Just as well life, or at least something we’ll probably recognise as like it, as it whizzes by, is emerging in the mediated environment to surpass us in sentience and, probably observe us with incredulity and, we hope nostalgia, rather than detachment.

Small Epiphanies

Look Both Ways

IMDB

Year: 2006

Writer: Sarah Watt

Director: Sarah Watt

Rating: 5 out of 5

Those stars that I put on these reviews? You know that they don’t mean “it’s good”, don’t you? What they mean is I like it.

The Aussies have done it again. Strangely, only I added Little Fish to the list with Lantana. But “Look Both Ways” is on it too now. Maybe it’s my growing liking for Australians, skin moistened with perspiration and humidity and ground constantly crawling with ants. Maybe it’s the attractiveness of the “new love” story. Maybe it is the “death” theme. I don’t think so. The Aussies are aceing us at movies.

Look Both Ways is about life, love and loss. Simple pulsings: further apart, closer together. Ordinary people, each with their own reasons to be cautious, careless, searching or unthinking. Lives intertwine and small shifts happen. All a boy needs to be happy, and sad.

Animation is used terrifyingly and hilariously. Images from TV, the press, the Web, coloured pencil sketches, watercolours and street, park or pool-scapes interweave the inner and outer worlds of the participants.

What do you call those scenes which cut from one character or small group to next, showing a series of simultaneous moments of melancholy or sweetness? Look Both Ways does this about every five minutes. And you know what? I don’t mind. Yes, I do compare it with Magnolia.

I must read “the Dubliners” again.

Btw, I’ll post something other than a movie review soon, honest.

Tags: movie lookbothways

Disposable fascinations

Capote

IMDB

Year: 2005

Cast:

  • Truman Capote: Philip Seymore Hoffman
  • Rating: 4 out of 5

    It works because it plunges me into a dilemma. Capote is singularly single-minded. Can anyone quote his line as he bribes the Prison Warden for access to visiting Perry? But is his work really his sole motivation? Yes, if you count his identification with Perry as providing the content for his literature. “It’s as if Perry and I grew up in the same house. And one day he went out the back door and I went out the front.” We don’t so much love him as get drawn into the question.

    Capote doesn’t love Perry either. He’s just drawn into the question. The fact that, apparently, he isn’t horrified by him is all that distinguishes their relationship from ours with Truman.

    Of course Philip Seymore Hoffman deserved the Oscar. I was a fan already. He commits from the outset. Effete, right? As the audience moves on to its next fascination, PSH is the only one who isn’t disposable.

    Tags: capote

    Capote

    IMDB

    Year: 2005

    Cast:

  • Truman Capote: Philip Seymore Hoffman
  • Rating: 4 out of 5

    It works because it plunges me into a dilemma. Capote is singularly single-minded. Can anyone quote his line as he bribes the Prison Warden for access to visiting Perry? But is his work really his sole motivation? Yes, if you count his identification with Perry as providing the content for his literature. “It’s as if Perry and I grew up in the same house. And one day he went out the back door and I went out the front.” We don’t so much love him as get drawn into the question.

    Capote doesn’t love Perry either. He’s just drawn into the question. The fact that, apparently, he isn’t horrified by him is all that distinguishes their relationship from ours with Truman.

    Of course Philip Seymore Hoffman deserved the Oscar. I was a fan already. He commits from the outset. Effete, right? As the audience moves on to its next fascination, PSH is the only one who isn’t disposable.

    Tags: capote

    “No. 2”: Feel-Good I Feel Good About

    No. 2

    IMDB

    Year: 2006

    Writer: Toa Fraser

    Director: Toa Fraser

    Rating: 4 out of 5

    I don’t usually like feel-good movies. I like gritty. I cut a little slack for NZ movies. I liked Whale Rider. The reason that most feel good movies get up my nose is their sentimentalism, simplistic emotion, schmaltz, sugariness or, worse saccharine. If I’m going to feel really good at the end of something, I want it to be for a reason, hard-won in some way that has some depth, that illuminates something about the world or humanity.

    Yes, I liked Me and You and Everyone We Know. I even liked “the Station Agent” (it went right to the limit, then pulled back). But I really did not like “Amelie” or , “Erin Brokovich”, as examples.

    No. 2 I like because it is about life. Old Maria recognises the stuckness in herself and the system around her. A legacy from those who have gone before, the second world war, colonialism. In her irrascible way, she makes an intervention. Not a didactic or particularly calculated one but a disrupting one, none the less. She has been reading social complexity theory. It works because something shifts. Gradually, the associating, eating, singing, dancing, fighting, truth, love and leadership that she wishes for all emerge.

    Maybe I am naiive, but for all the simplicity of the plot, I can’t say I found it predicatable. More, easy to go along with. And it was beautifully portrayed, with many funny scenes of ordinariness. I think my favourite was a dialogueless moment between Maria and Charlene in Maria’s bedroom. Yes, the music was stirring but the interaction between the two was rich and profoundly moving. That’s gotta be a measure of acting and directing.

    I say “Yes” to this celebration of life with vivid performances from everyone in the cast.

    No. 2

    IMDB

    Year: 2006

    Writer: Toa Fraser

    Director: Toa Fraser

    Rating: 4 out of 5

    I don’t usually like feel-good movies. I like gritty. I cut a little slack for NZ movies. I liked Whale Rider. The reason that most feel good movies get up my nose is their sentimentalism, simplistic emotion, schmaltz, sugariness or, worse saccharine. If I’m going to feel really good at the end of something, I want it to be for a reason, hard-won in some way that has some depth, that illuminates something about the world or humanity.

    Yes, I liked Me and You and Everyone We Know. I even liked “the Station Agent” (it went right to the limit, then pulled back). But I really did not like “Amelie” or , “Erin Brokovich”, as examples.

    No. 2 I like because it is about life. Old Maria recognises the stuckness in herself and the system around her. A legacy from those who have gone before, the second world war, colonialism. In her irrascible way, she makes an intervention. Not a didactic or particularly calculated one but a disrupting one, none the less. She has been reading social complexity theory. It works because something shifts. Gradually, the associating, eating, singing, dancing, fighting, truth, love and leadership that she wishes for all emerge.

    Maybe I am naiive, but for all the simplicity of the plot, I can’t say I found it predicatable. More, easy to go along with. And it was beautifully portrayed, with many funny scenes of ordinariness. I think my favourite was a dialogueless moment between Maria and Charlene in Maria’s bedroom. Yes, the music was stirring but the interaction between the two was rich and profoundly moving. That’s gotta be a measure of acting and directing.

    I say “Yes” to this celebration of life with vivid performances from everyone in the cast.

    Little Fish

    Requiem for a Dream crossed with Neighbours?

    Not everybody rated Lantana but I did: five stars. I liked Somersault, too but Little Fish pushes at the envelope.

    For a while I wanted it to get started and regretted recommending it to Ed. Was this a dull suburban character drama? Who said I wanted to know that much about their sad lives? But somehow, I started caring. Perhaps it was the glimmers of love and life in Tracey and Janelle, Lionel, even, or perhaps it was the depths of the performances, especially by Blachett and Weaving that revealed the presence of humanity, amid the ruin. And then the plot started to pick up some pace and I was taken. And somewhere along the way, I ended up caring about most of the characters.

    Or maybe it was just Cate Blanchett as Tracy reminding me of Jane. She is a little longer-limbed than Jane was but her ordinariness in the role had her with the regular messy fumblings. Swimming. The lovemaking scene in the shower … it’s not a movie review. I am just missing Jane.

    Merchant and Ivory

    One night sitting around talking about movies, I dared to say to Jane: “You never want to see anything I want to see. We always end up getting Merchant and Ivory”. I know that’s what I said because Jane immediately wrote it down.

    Then, referring to her records, she calmly compiled this list of the movies that we’d watched most recently:

    Fame
    Okie Noodling
    Laurel Canyon
    Ruby & Quentin
    Woyzeck
    Nosferatu (FW Murnau)
    Nosferatu (Hertzog/Kinsky)
    Braindead
    The Business of Strangers
    Once Upon a Time in Mexico
    Steve Zissou and the Life Aquatic
    Before Sunrise
    After (sic) Sunset
    Yolngu Boy
    Annie Hall
    All Quiet on the Western Front
    Bad Santa

    That must’ve been before we watched Cocteau’s “La Belle et la Bete”. Guess I should have kept my mouth shut.

    Actually, I felt pretty damn smug that I had a partner who wanted to watch German Expressionist movies with me.

    “The Little Things” ***** and “Me and You and Everyone We Know” *****

    Alright, movies are back.

    I went to two film festival films on my own. I chose them carefully, not to be “good” movies but to speak to me in the process I am going through. Then I realised that’s what a good movie is.

    First I saw 2046 but I didn’t like it much. It’s pretty and sophisticated but I didn’t care for any of the characters.

    Then I saw Me and You and Everyone We Know with The Little Things as a delightful surprise short, in front of it.

    Reina Webster’s short film with a small cast was moving like a wheelbarrow of real life being dumped inside you. Slightly reminiscent of Taika Waititi’s style in One Night, Two Cars, it subtlely celebrates humanity in the face of pain. On, Jane, I wished so much you had been there to see that with me.

    Miranda July’s film, for me, aced everything. A group of characters are introduced, each with beauty and sadness. Relationships develop, pain and love emerge, dances of forward and back are danced, a resolution is reached. Art happens. OK, take my state as a disclaimer. The love-torn guy gets the girl and the kids are all ok. Disbelieve me that I am allergic to schmaltz. It’s a feel good movie I feel good about.

    The Village Voice review is good.