Monday, April 26, 2010

Funny that we've been talking about remaking Dream House lately, since I just found out about this.

In the immortal words of Joseph Luster's homoerotic King "It cannot BEEE! Or can it?!" Yes, Virginia, it looks an awful lot like Hollywood has just made a feature length loose remake of my film directed by Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot, Get Rich or Die Tryin') and starring Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz in Kevin and Kate's roles.

I've done a bit of research and it seems like all that it really has in common with my Dream House is the moving into the former crime scene/haunted house; ie, no rape or crazy townspeople to contend with. I'm only gonna file suit if the movie ends with a Dave Luce look alike running amok and tying up Rachel Weisz and/or Naomi Watts as he rambles about how he wants to give them his venereal diseases "that you didn't even know you could catch anymore". Dream House itself was compiled from several stories anyways.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A little website update, some new drawings I've done over the last few weeks have been added to the Gallery, a lot of Horror Colony stuff in particular.

I found these videos of a Court TV segment on the Shanda Sharer case on YouTube and they have some well done recreations. I think the whole thing's done quite well, tells the story of what really happened nicely and manages to handle it delicately enough so to not shock its TV audience. It's especially interesting to me though because honestly the recreations look nothing like how I see it. It's all a little too "light" and clean looking and the girls look too pretty and docile and not nearly "feral" enough. They look like they couldn't kill a mouse, let alone a child. What I see of The Witch's Castle in my head is so much more gritty, gloomy and "Earthy".

Monday, April 19, 2010

Back from New York. It was a fun and refreshing change of pace. The manic quality of that city oddly calmed me.

For some nice news I'm sure you'll all be fascinated to hear, before I left I got an e-mail from none other than T.F. Mou's wife. She and T.F. loved what they've seen of Conversations with T.F. Mou thus far (the first 35-40 minutes) and give it their approval.

The Tim Burton exhibit was a lot of fun, though not as much as it would have been since it was literally mobbed wall to wall with tourists. It was a wonderful display of creativity and makes Alice seem even more depressingly insipid. I miss the bygone Pee Wee to Mars Attacks Burton. I wish he would start making films again and not Tim Burton films. I wanted to stay and watch his short films like Luau and Hansel and Gretal but it was just too mobbed. Hopefully they'll release that stuff and make it all public after the exhibit closes in a week or so. I think you get bootlegs of Luau pretty easily.

I went up to the Empire State Building. It was more like a Disney World ride than a real place and I was one of the few English speakers atop that tower.

I'm gonna go scan some new drawings for a new website update!

Also, I'm considering (and already taking some notes in case I decided to go for it) an expanded, closer to feature length version of Dream House. I've been considering this for a while, doing a better, longer version with a much more subtle, intricate plot. but I've always held back such plans because I've never wanted to spend any more time on that story as a filmmaker and wanted to devote all my time to new stuff like Alison, Witch's Castle, etc. My solution to this problem is that I merely write the script for it and someone else directs (maybe I'd helm a scene or two secretly) which is a nice kind of having of the cake and eating of it too, since I want to expand and redo that world but don't totally want to do it myself and have other, much more worthy endeavors in process and on the horizon. What do you, the audience, think? I was very pleased to see the honest input for the T.F. Mou DVD, by the way.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Going to New York City in a few days, will start scanning some new additions to the gallery when I get back.

I've seen a few current movies as of late. I haven't been seeing too many films lately since I'm busy editing a lot and seeing the revivals at the Brattle Theater is generally far more satisfying than setting foot in a cinemaplex, however, I saw The Wolf Man a month or so ago and actually liked it. It was basically a modern, multi-million dollar exploitation film with beautiful cinematography that looks like a Hammer flick and delivers what it advertises in spades. It has a wonderful sick sense of humor and grotesque quality akin to Story of Ricky or Dead Alive as Benicio Del Toro's fuzzy werewolf runs around ripping people limb to limb and tearing out stomachs and things like that. Yes, its dumb, low brow and rather shallow, but no more so than many of the gory horror films made in the 70s and 80s that people canonize today while they poo-poo films like this one or Eli Roth's films simultaneously. Whiny pricks like these (whom you find posting on movie message boards a lot) are generally the same buffoons who complain about cellphone users in theaters but look back with misty eyes at the grindhouse when you inhaled more smoke than a chimney, risked getting shanked if you sat down in the wrong place and had to watch your step to avoid stepping in used condoms and spent heroin needles.
Also, saw Scorsese's Shutter Island. The film was gorgeously shot: Robert Richardson is probably the best DP-working today. May Tarantino continue to employ him in every film he ever makes. However, there is something mundane and underwhelming about it. It's a good three-starer, a nicely nightmarish flick and you can see a lot of influence drawn from Scorsese's beloved Val Lewton and Mario Bava (especially Kill, Baby Kill) as well as especially Stanley Kubrick with The Shining, but I dunno, it just lacks something. The only movie Scorsese has made in the last decade I've loved is Gangs of New York. Everything else he's made, even the oft-lauded Departed, is very middle of the road and lacks the power of Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ, Goodfellas, etc. Shutter Island is more of that. It cinematically works better than Cape Fear but it lacks a certain strength that film has. Maybe he needs to ditch Leonardo and start working with Robert DeNiro again. I will give the film huge props though because it manages to pull off what Marty's buddy Brian DePalma tried but failed miserably with Raising Cain (a film from the disjointed perspective of a madman). A lot of filmmakers try to do this and fall flat on their faces but Scorsese handles it well and the level of suspense is at least decent.
Since I'm heading to see the Tim Burton exhibit when in NYC, I finally decided to see Alice in Wonderland in "Disney Digital 3-D". I was a little afraid to see it because I was worried it might "influence" Alison, but it honestly makes me want to do it even more gritty and original now. It's Burton's most soulless film since Planet of the Apes. I thought he was back on the right track with Sweeney Todd, but here he plummets into the depths of utterly commercial filmmaking once more. The 3-D was cool but feeling like you're falling down the rabbit hole with Alice doesn't make up for a gross lack of interest in the story. The film had some things I liked about it and actually started off pretty well, but it ultimately left me very cold and seeing Johnny Depp dancing to hip-hop-like music or whatever as the Mad Hatter made me just want to hysterically scream like a woman in a T.F. Mou flick. Burton's vision of Wonderland is like the exact polar opposite of mine: his is utterly unreal whereas I want to make a film that looks earthy and handcrafted. That was what made Peter Jackson's Middle Earth so wonderful in my mind. I predicted from the trailer that this would look just like what you would expect a Alice in Wonderland film directed by Tim Burton to look like and I was right. It looks at times more like the product of an "Instamatic hit film machine" than actual human beings. It was the same film as Labyrinth really but that film was made almost 25 years ago and is so much fresher and superior.

But for an experience that delivered everything that Tim Burton did not, I must heap much praise upon The Runaways. This film rocks: it's exhilarating, kinetic and driven by its characters. It also explores the sexuality of adolescents (a subject I never grow tired of) in a brazen, honest manner more akin to a European arthouse flick than a stupid American teen sex comedy starring a bunch of 25 year olds. I always knew Dakota Fanning could act, she's kind of the Jodie Foster of today in how she takes on controversial roles and takes them pretty far. She plays Cherie Currie as a true "Cherry Bomb": a blond-haired blue-eyed nitroglycerin cocktail, a raging ball of hormones mixed with enough innocence, naivety and immaturity to spell her downfall. Shockingly, Kristen Stewart, who usually is as enthusiastic in her performances as a doctor prescribing laxatives, actually gives a great, very convincing performance as Joan Jett. She plays the role of a tough-as-nails rocker chick way better than that of an innocent, naive ingenue in those atrocious gay glittery vampire flicks she's in. Michael Shannon is an actor who is quickly rising up the ranks, let me tell you, his role in Revolutionary Road was a particularly memorable one and here he really wows as the batshit insane record producer Kim Fowley. Picture the manic constant enthusiasm and eccentric personality of Quentin Tarantino mixed with the perversion and fashion sense of Gary Glitter topped off with Phil Spector's sociopathic nature and God-complex (ala the character Swan from Phantom of the Paradise) and you have this guy.

The Runaways is a great film and a very appealing one to my sensibilities. It's character driven, all about the creative drive and fully expressing one's individuality, real, kinetic and always on the go (like its characters) but also has a bit of an exploitation film quality and doesn't hesitate to, like Kim Fowley himself saw an opportunity to do back in 1975 with the real Runaways, use sex and sleaze (and Dakota Fanning in assorted stages of undress) to titillate its audience. That's not water that's dripping off the cherry in the poster, you know. I saw Alice and Runways on the same day and oddly they're not dissimilar: both are films about young women who break out of the standard molds set for them in their respective time period, but with Alice its utterly superficial and just tossed in there to make it a Tim Burton film. The Runaways deals with it in a more realistic fashion and shows that diving into it without thinking, as all young people inevitably do with varying degrees, can have consequences.

And I'm thinking seriously about whether I should put a commentary track on the Conversations with T.F. Mou DVD. On the one hand, I was just thinking and realize that the film has a lot of idiosyncrasies in terms of the backstory, how it was made, how I'm editing it, the sources of footage, etc, so I could easily compile a track if people want it. However, on the other hand, I initially thought that film at least should speak for itself since given that it's a documentary it's already sort of a commentary and still wonder about this. Was initally going to make a 10 or so minute video introduction where I'd more quickly explore all that. Your opinions are welcome in the poll below and comments.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Met with T.F. Mou again yesterday. He was in Boston again, we hung out in the Liberty Hotel, which was ironically once a jail. We toasted the film and discussed things. Gave him copies of the first 40 minutes of the movie and the script for Alison in Wonderland. Interestingly enough, he really liked that drawing above of his frostbitten niece.

Two new updates regarding the film: the bad news is that I ended up having to get clearance from Celestial Pictures and their prices are not cheap. Since I'm already in this pickle, I'm gonna ask the U.S. copyright holder of Men Behind the Sun for permission (and price if they insist on it) and there's some prospects with the Taiwan Film Archive that has copies of Mou's early films. What I'm gonna do is finish the film anyways (June is still a fair definite) and just look for funding for clearing the footage. This MAY put a damper on plans for the DVD is all I'm saying. An August release could well still happen, but it could be a year before you'll be able to see and purchase the film, though I may well still throw up the YouTube clips and send it to some reviewers since nobody really cares about that.

The good news is that Mou is gonna be back here in August and wants to be a part of the premiere. That is damn exciting I must say.

Monday, April 05, 2010

At long last, that promised website update is here. I worked on it a little every day, scanning pictures, creating the expanded infrastructure, etc, as I've been editing T.F. Mou. All the pages have gotten at least some updates and revisions, but of course the biggest treat is the all new art gallery section full of a lot of recently done and never before seen stuff, as well as things that haven't been eyeballed since 2003!


Thursday, April 01, 2010

This video, unfortunately for you PC-lovers out there, is comedic genius. It's funny enough seeing children perform scenes from Scarface. This video is, by the way, a complete hoax. It was directed by the guy who did some of Lady Gaga's stuff and was intended, most likely, to get this kind of response from people and make parents mad.

The truth is, though I have yet to be a parent and thus am in no position to give real advice, I have a strong feeling that parents in America over-pamper and shelter their children these days something terrible. This attitude is even evident in kids' entertainment today. It's utterly soulless and devoid of anything that even remotely stimulates a child's imagination or challenges their minds, the days of slapstick dynamitings in Looney Toons and people getting shot bloodlessly 30 times an episode in Johnny Sokko are over. Parents have a weird obsession with keeping their children in some kind of Edenic state instead of preparing their children for the rigors of living in the real world. It seems like it only makes kids worse. It turns young men into hedonistic beasts and Wannabe Ghetto Black Kids Who Actually White and girls into naive, shallow fops who get pregnant at 16. Why else do teen pregnancies and STDs run the most rampant in the Deep South and Midwest, where most people are conservative Christians and fathers have a pedophilic obsession with keeping their daughters "chaste"?

While of course performing a real school play of Scarface is wrong, seems like something out of South Park (they'll probably reference it in their next episode) and is above all stupid (who wants to cause that kind of trouble, parents are nuts over their kids), it's response also illustrates my point wonderfully. Maybe it's not so bad for a kid to understand that the world can be an ugly place? Maybe instead of shielding their faces from five minutes of Scarface on TV, we should teach them to be better people. I've known so many people, myself included, who have just freaked once they've found out what the world's really like and what their parents were hiding from them.