I’ll be appearing at the AJC Decatur Book Festival this weekend, Sunday at 1:30 in the afternoon on the Emerging Authors stage. This book festival is the largest independent book fest in the country, so you’re bound to find an author to your taste, a panel worth taking in, or maybe even “discover” a new writer you’ve previously never heard of. I’m certainly looking forward to it. Will talk a bit about my first book Charlie Kaufman and Hollywood’s Merry Band of Pranksters, Fabulists and Dreamers and do a short signing afterward.
My film blogging comrade over at Moon in the Gutter, Jeremy Richey, is hosting a P.T. Anderson blogathon September 13-19 and it will no doubt be an entertaining, exciting event. I’m contributing an essay–not sure which film I’ll be focusing on yet–and I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with. I wrote a short piece about Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love in my first book, a film that is (I feel) one of the best of the last decade and a rather damn fine romantic comedy at that, so there’s always the temptation to revisit it… maybe do some screengrabs or something. But I’ve been dying to write about There Will Be Blood since I saw it in January 2008 the day before I left for Europe and then watched again in the Leitrim Cinemobile when I was living in Ireland. Seriously, some enterprising cinephiles in the States need to bring cinema to the masses with trucks like these. They’re great. And they’re warm too, which was surprising since it’s always so damn cold in Ireland year round! Also, the cool thing about the Leitrim Cinemobile was that it would screen international films and smaller indie fare from the States… not blockbusters. This was out in the boondocks, mind you. We didn’t live in the city. And these were real 35mm prints, not DVDs or digital projections. Real films, real patrons in seats, and loads of arguments afterward as you scurried down the pub for a few pints. Make sure to check out the video below that gives you a glimpse of how cool the Leitrim Cinemobile is. But I digress.
P.T. Anderson. Blogathon. Moon in the Gutter. That has Awesome all over it.
The Hollywood dream factory has always sold bullshit to the eager masses. Some years are worse than others, some decades shine brighter with genuine talent and provocative films. And sometimes, if the stars are right… real art may be conjured.
I’m talking mainstream, commercial films here, just so we’re clear. Films made by the major studios. There’s just as much garbage in the pseudo-indie sphere as well and the genuine independent arena is a whole other matter. But junk is junk and it exists anywhere and everywhere.
But screenwriter/director Charlie Kaufman thinks the situation in Hollywood is dire and getting worse. I can’t argue that it’s a depressing situation. Do we really need another superhero movie? Have the studios simply given up on making films for adults?
But I’ll hold out for some sort of creative resurgence. There’s no arguing that the current model of film distribution (just like in the music industry) is antiquated, oppressive, and in need of restructuring. The major studios are dinosaurs and seemingly lumbering into the tar pits. Though haven’t they always been that way?
When we least expect it, a new wave always comes crashing down. The last time young filmmakers infiltrated the ranks of the studios (ten years ago) we saw the arrival of Charlie Kaufman, Spike Jonze, Sofia Coppola, Wes Anderson, and others. None of them make blockbusters, of course. But most of the films they created did make money while furthering the medium in artistic ways.
So I hold out hope. For now.
Perhaps Kaufman will figure a way to write himself (and us) out of this narrative purgatory.
You can read Kaufman’s comments here.
Over at the always interesting Moon in the Gutter blog, Monsieur Richey is holding a Charlie Kaufman film poll in honor of the tenth anniversary of the Kaufman/Spike Jonze feature Being John Malkovich… our first real encounter with these (still) extraordinary filmmakers.
So head on over and vote. I’m curious to see what the results are myself. I’m choosing Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Synecdoche, New York for my two faves. Who’s with me?!
Monsieur Appleby over at the nifty Rushmore Academy blog, which focuses on all things Wes Andersonian, informed me last night that my first book, Charlie Kaufman and Hollywood’s Merry Band of Pranksters, Fabulists and Dreamers (Kamera Books), was highlighted over at David Hudson’s The Daily blog at IFC.com. Pretty cool, I think. The mention there is due to a new lengthy review of the book (which I did know about) in the latest online issue of the always interesting Bright Lights Film Journal. And if you head over there to read the review, make sure to check out the reviews for Richard Brody’s stellar book on Godard, Everything is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard, director Michel Gondry’s book You’ll Like This Book Because You’re In It: A Be Kind Rewind Protocol, a new book on cult exploitation director Jack Hill (Spider Baby!), and what looks like a great book on the much maligned but sturdy Epic film genre (a not-so-guilty pleasure of mine) by Jeffrey Richards.
New York Observer film critic Rex Reed, whose overwrought verbiage and sloppy analysis makes Armond White seem lucid and well… sane, tells us all what he thinks of Charlie Kaufman’s directorial debut Synecdoche, New York.
Considering his loathing of Kaufman, Spike Jonze, Wes Anderson, et al, I’m sure he’ll love my book about said filmmakers.
You can be assaulted by Reed’s review here. Be warned, though, to wear protective goggles.
For the last few weeks Wired magazine editor and writer Jason Tanz has been previewing the magazine’s upcoming Charlie Kaufman profile on their Storyboard blog. Basically, in true meta-Kaufman style, Tanz has made the entire writing process (or most of it, at least) transparent to the reader, showing us what goes into an article like this from initial conception, editorial emails, contacts with Kaufman’s publicist, the full audio interview with Kaufman himself, and all the rest. Tanz got a hold of me via email a few weeks ago and interviewed me as well… though it doesn’t look like I made the final cut. Perhaps there will be more about Kaufman and his directorial debut in the actual hardcopy issue of Wired when it hits the stands in a few weeks. Or not.
Meanwhile, here’s the official trailer to Kaufman’s new film Synecdoche, New York which opens in the US on October 24: