For years now, the first question anyone asks me is often “how can I see your films?”—and for years, I haven’t had a good answer to that question. I was working on it. They’d “hopefully” be on Amazon or iTunes or Netflix or in a DVD box “pretty soon.” Now that a couple of years have passed, I find that when I get into these conversations “hopefully” has become “regretfully,” and “pretty soon” has turned into “someday.”
I got tired of waiting for Someday. More importantly, I got tired of waffling my way through so many conversations without providing any good answers. So as of today, I’m going to sell 720p downloads of both of my feature films (Hell Is Other People and The Glass Slipper) for $10 each, with no DRM. The files will be playable on pretty much any computer or device out there, and they ought to be pretty easy to stream onto your television (see below).
Let me try to anticipate a few questions you might like to ask about all of this:
Jay Sherman preaches the truth. If the people who still do go to the movies would just quit ponying up for Super Underwear Man 4: The Torture Implement of Destiny and instead pay for films aimed at an audience of at least marginal intelligence, there would be a hell of a lot less cine-garbage smeared on the screens. There’s no hope of that ever happening, of course, since we’re all getting orders of magnitude stupider every minute.
Well enough done, but the weird mixture of tones in the staged “interview” segments rubbed me very much the wrong way. There are real Texans doing real interviews mixed in with real Texans reading fake lines mixed with Matthew McConaughey doing his “Danny Buck” shtick. The lack of tonal consistency demonstrates–better than any argument I might make–the needlessness of the insipid “there are interviews!” approach itself.
It’s a mess both rhetorically and formally, but in gross effect it achieves a passingly sensitive treatment of the issue of social interplay among socially unequal players. By the time the dirty deed is done, Bernie’s humanity is adequately established. Perhaps the “evil” (to quote an “interviewee”) of Maclaine’s character might be more clearly demonstrated–we get about five minutes of shitty behavior, and otherwise she’s a sweet, giving lady. Maybe it could be argued that a cartoonish evil would lessen the complexity of Bernie’s break with strict morality, but I argue the opposite: he’s too candy-coated, and she’s not shit-coated enough for me to believe a sweet man might snap.
In the end, it just barely manges to do what it needs to do. That ought not be enough to give it even a tepid thumbs up, but in the context of today’s cinematic landscape this is probably / almost / sort of / as good as it gets.
It’s an argument I’ve had with myself time and time again: is it seemly for a filmmaker to write reviews of films? I’ve never found a satisfactory answer. At this moment, I generally tend to lean toward the idea that anything I have to say about anything at all is best expressed in a film. And yet I’m about to post a (brief) review of a film anyway.
I may post more reviews. I may stop after this one. I may soon delete this post and the next one. I don’t know. I’m not even sure why I’m writing this. Maybe it’s just so you’ll know that I think about things before I spray them onto the Internet. And so…
Maybe at first this seems like evidence supporting the idea that it’s stupid to take everything digital. Then, when you think about it, you realize that when your 35mm print gets shipped to the wrong place, you can’t just download another one in two hours.
Side Note: Who cares? It’s yet another damned superhero movie.
The “beautiful plastic bag” scene from American Beauty has become one of those cultural moments with which we post-millennial cynics bludgeon the bloated corpse of our (former) zest for life. I suspect we mock it not because it has some essentially childlike earnestness in it, but because we sense in it the same kind of calculated self-mockery we all so love to wallow in. It’s an infinitely recursive, intentionally unfunny in-joke. It’s the cultural equivalent of a self-loathing fat kid puking upon his own myriad reflections in a funhouse full of shattered mirrors.
When The Thin Blue Line was not nominated for Best Documentary Feature in 1989, supporters of the film were outraged. The Academy’s reasoning, reportedly, was that the extensive use of re-enacted scenes made the film something other than a documentary. Rather than getting bogged down in a sophistic discussion of the semantic shortcomings of that particular word, I’d like simply to make the point that our definition of the term has shifted in the last twenty-two years–thanks partly to (or perhaps partly because of) none other than Errol Morris, the director of The Thin Blue Line.
Three pullquotes on a banner ad for Drive–all of them from Peter Travers. That must mean it’s a good movie, because Peter Travers is in no way a ridiculous joke of a man. But I guess we knew it was a good movie already, right? The title has like, double meanings and stuff.
My favorite thing about this pathetic ad: Travers’ star rating is in quotation marks. He literally uttered the sound of stars. Peter, thou art Lord.