Left last night for a random drive and ended up not turning around. Sometimes, at night, I'll take a drive, listening to music, just to clear my head and calm myself down. Writing proves to be bound in anxiety and lost leads. This time, though, I didn't take my usual scenic route and, instead, detoured towards a path less travelled.
Taking the northbound lane towards Toledo, I accidentally, or divinely, depending on your perspective of the events, wound up on a toll road which I could not get off of until I reached Cleveland: a good two hours away. Being about three hours from my home, at that point, I opted to continue onwards just to see where I'd end up. I'm pretty good with navigating the flat terrain of most of Ohio, so I had no fear as to getting lost. Besides, I had my trusty GPS system my Dad purchased for me, for Christmas. I still haven't used it.
Now, I'm not sure where I'm at as I write this, in a Denny's, on my laptop. I'm not really sure I care either. I have until the 5th of January to come back and I imagine I'll take that amount of time to reflect on what it is I'm trying to prove to myself doing this. Unless, of course, I run the limit on my credit cards first. We'll see. Luckily, in this wintery economic climate, gas, food, motels and the such are dirt cheap. Even though I saved a bundle of money by simply falling asleep in my vehicle last night. I was reading Crime and Punishment with Screamin Jay Hawkins tellin' me he's got a spell on me and the next thing I know it's morning and I've left the car running all night. You live, you learn and you move on.
Nothing of substantial interest has happened just yet, but tonight I'll venture forth towards a dive bar, or perhaps to a coffee shop in order to attain the acquaintance of someone with remotely the same interests as my own. If those sort of people exist in these quarters, and I believe they may.
Cigarettes and coffee are what propel me along on this meager journey towards "I don't know what just yet." My only companions: a notepad, taperecorder, laptop, book and yearning to find a story.
Don't order the Grand Slamwich: IT'S HORRIBLE! But the waitress is nice!
Once you've seen Ikiru, you'll never forget this image.
And how could you? Hasn't it taught you that living a dull existence isn't living at all; you're already dead. Isn't it time you got out and did something with your life. Changed your ways. Pull yourself up by the bootstraps. Haven't you had enough of the minutia of your run down day to day measly living? I have. That's why I need to change. That's why I have to change.
To take a little from Sam Cooke:
"its been too hard living but I'm afraid to die Cause I don't know what's up there beyond the sky"
"there been times that I thought I couldn't last for long But now I think I'm able to carry on"
Barack Obama himself took a little bit from Sam's "A Change Is Gonna Come" during his campaign and the message is still as poignant today as it was in yesteryear.
So, back to Ikiru. Bringing about change. Realizing that it doesn't take a facing with death to understand that you're always dieing. That you're always writing your own biography with every action, or inaction, that you take. whether you choose to do something or nothing is still a choice. So get scootin'. Don't go out in the middle of a song, without having gotten it all out. Raise your voice and spill out your soul. Nothing should, nor can, contain you. Is your life living you or are you living your life?
Find something you're passionate about and do it. Believe that you can do it. And do it.
I have trouble staying on task. Here I am trying to write a Noir screenplay and I start watching all these Noir films for inspiration, motivation and character. I get the first act down, a few later scenes and most of the ending. I rewrite some of the dialogue, change a characters name, move a few locations around, reorganize the outline to reflect said changes and here I am without anything finished. In fact, I've already moved on to a new project that has nothing to do with this one.
Sometimes I'm able to incorporate a new idea into the existing screenplay I'm working on, but right now, I can't focus on shit and I don't think the new material will work it's way into the Noir script. It's not like I have ADD or anything, at least not to my knowledge, but I'm not diagnosed so who knows. I just can't stick the the goddamn subject I'm trying to hammer out. I'm actually quite bored with my material, even though I believe in it.
So now I'll go to work on this new material, hoping I can finish it before I get bored with it too. This is how it usually goes: start something, get excited and full of creative bursts, get everything down and find out I need more, lose interest or get bored, start a new subject or work on an old one, repeat. Sometimes I come back around to an old script I had given up all hope on, only to finish it in its entirety. So, there is hope that I can come back to this at a later time and give it the gusto it deserves.
I can't stop watching movies. It's like a fucking addiction, no really. I get home from the ol' "9 to 5" and make a list of shit to do. It's usually comprised of the simple things: clean apartment, do dishes, feed cat, do laundry, yoga, kegal exercises, etc, etc. But then I'll make my "creative checklist" which is more or less compiled with wishful thinking: finish Noir screenplay, finish reading Crime and Punishment, read chapter of editing software, etc, etc. And then I do nothing. I put a film in and sit there watching it all night long. By the time the film's over, it's "too late" to do anything, so then I just go to sleep to do it all over again the next day.
It's probably just the climate change. Starting tonight, I'll get back into it. Into the groove, into the flow of working out the kinks of boredom and apathy.... tomorrow.
Francois Truffaut is kicking some serious Film lover ass right now. No joke. This is only the third Truffaut film I've had the divine joy of viewing, and I must say, it is the best thus far. After Jules and Jim, after Day For Night, I decided to embark of the Truffaut train of cinema. The next stop was Shoot The Piano Player, which I've long heard was a massive influence on Tarantino, P.T. Anderson, Scorsese and various other directors whom I generally adore. I must say, I don't think I'll be leaving this stop soon.
Immediately upon finishing the film, I logged onto Half.com, where I purchase all my movies(which follows the same philosophy of how I buy all my film equipment: cheap, used and on credit) and hastily plunked down, with shipping, a whole $20 for this darling example of film genius. I rarely do this unless I was very truly moved by a film, as I am with all Paul Thomas Anderson films, but as I foray deeper into the French New Wave I'm finding it's becoming a habit, albeit an expensive one. I don't really give a rat's ass.
I am in love with Truffaut's work, thus far. Everyone wants to toot Godard's horn, and rightfully so as he's wonderful in a film school sort of way. But, it's Truffaut that speaks to me emotionally, whereas Godard speaks to me technically. Godard's films: Contempt, Breathless and Alphaville are three of my newfound faves when it comes to film. But they just don't penetrate my emotions and stimulate my mind the way that only three people can: Paul Thomas Anderson, Francois Truffaut and the always lovely Jaden Ame Alexander. Rather, I'd take Jules and Jim, Day For Night and Shoot the Piano Player as better examples of what film is capable of, in the hands of a great, visionary director.
Oh right, the film itself. So this film combines every genre ever. It's a comedy, a drama, a heist, a noir, a romance, a kidnapping, an existential, a satirical film. Take your pick. And isn't that what you want in a film: to enliven all of the senses? To appeal to all faces of emotion? Some people are turned off by this, instead I revel in it. This is the kind of cinema I intend to make. If you're a friend of me, you're a friend of Truffaut. Let's stay friends!
Then after all this pussyfootin around about Truffaut, I watched a Bunuel film: Viridiana. I'll get to that later when I figure out what the fuck it is that I just watched. Tune in later.
Here are the this weeks library borrowings, which I'll try to provide reviews for as the week progress, or regresses, depending on your perspective of the weekend.
Shoot the Piano Player ~ God Roma ~ Fellini Through A Glass Darkly ~ Bergman Winter Light ~ Bergman Stranger Than Paradise ~ Jarmusch (woot woot grew up in OHIO) Yojimbo ~ Kurosawa Viridiana ~ Bunuel Vampyr ~ Dreyer
Looking like a hell of a weekend for me! Who needs film school when you've got a library? Some people take for granted the Good Will Hunting method of learning: READ. If you want to do something in life, learn about it. I want to make films therefore I must watch films, read books and discuss topics of interest with people knowledgeable on the subjects. It's really not that hard when you look at the thing in itself. You can teach yourself anything. You wanna know why I admire Paul Thomas Anderson and Quentin Tarantino so much? They didn't go to film school. They taught themselves the craft and their material is mountains better than anything put out by the system.
Ladies and Germs, may I present to you: BILL MURRAY
Bill Murray has been in the news a bit, as of late, for his bitter divorce with his runt of an ex-wife. She claims he's addicted to pot and beats her endlessly. That's a bit of a paradox if you ask me. Potheads don't beat anyone; they sit around and conspire ways that the government, is like, against us, maaaaan. And other hippie shit I used to be absorbed in when I was "enlightened" by the overuse of pot. Not that it's bad or anything, but using it as often as you can, every single day will do nothing to "change you perspective on shit". It will only fry you into a mindless Grateful Deadhead that digs hemp necklaces and emptyheadedness. Moderation, ya dig, keep it in moderation. Or, as Daniel Tosh would say, "grow up and do coke, like an adult".
Anyways, Bill Murray is in the news again but this time for something equally as radical. He's been showing up at random house parties in the Brooklyn college area. Mostly hipster hangouts, Bill's been seen simply walking into the house of an obvious party, sitting down and casually mingling with the guest.
"He’s not a boozy, sweaty party hound who gets caught on camera cheesing it up with pretty young girls (see: Mel Gibson, Bono); rather, he’s more like a ghost in the night, who shows up out of nowhere, engages in utterly random conversations and then exits gracefully—leaving witnesses to wonder what the hell just happened" Cites some source from somewhere else (so sue me).
Is this not the coolest fucking thing ever? How humble and down to earth this guy must be to just roll up in someone's cribspot and chillax to the sweet tunes of indie rock. I, for one, would allow this man my bed if he'd sign my coveted copy of The Life Aquatic. Now I'm sure Bill was just looking to score some dope, and he'd be right to do so. He's had a long career and hasn't, until recently, gotten the respect he deserves.
The article goes on later to talk about how Bill is suffering from depression and does this as a way to cope with his divorce. A psychologist diagnoses him as lonely and seeking attention. What? Get the fuck out, no really, GTFO! Clearly, people are retarded. Bill's just having a good time and not letting the element of celebrity tarnish his image of himself as a human being. If only every actor could see a little bit of Bill Murray in themselves, this place called Hollywood would be filled with blissful rainbows and smiling sunbeams. Instead of the tarpit that it currently is.
This past weekend, a few new films were acquired into my collective subconscious.
Day For Night ~ Truffaut Passion of Joan of Arc ~ Dreyer Double Indemnity ~ Wilder Trois Couleurs: Bleu ~ Kieślowski I Vitelloni ~ Fellini Satyricon ~ Fellini The Bicycle Theif ~ De Sica
All of these films were nothing short of incredible. I literally stayed up, sick, every night this weekend review film after film. Every angle shot, every word muttered, I was on it like my heart and Jaden's soul. I made a little notebook to jot down all the inspiring scenes, witty remarks, and various other film techniques that I deemed noteworthy. The movie with the most marks: The Passion of Joan of Arc.
This film was a highly emotional one for me. The past few years, I'd say I've been in an existential crisis: a moratorium phase, if you will. Ceasing any productive activity and just living day to day without expectations. Little has come from it, to say the least, and I've rarely gained any sort of insightful, earth-rattling knowledge that would move me into doing something worthwhile. Instead, I'd just float and float and float, as a ghost of a man living in a shadow of a life. Anyways, the first time I watched this film, about a year ago, I was deeply considering renouncing God and all that came with it. Thinking like the existentialists Sartre and Camus, I deemed life something that I could control. I found out, in the form of a vicious vehicular accident that this was not the case. Anymore, I still believe you have some control over things, but that you shouldn't ask what the meaning of your life is but rather, what life means to you.
All that aside, (I get off track quick), The Passion of Joan of Arc, mostly done in close-ups, brought about some sort of rejuvenation deep down within. I felt that if I stood my own, believed in myself, and did the things I know I can do, that I'd succeed. Joan didn't necessarily succeed, per se, but she nonetheless lives on as a figure of passion, purpose and poise. She kept her cool under pressure and she stuck with it until the end, even if it's death, as any true artist should do for their belief.
Holy shit, was I inspired. Words just bleed through my fingers onto the page. I've never felt such a release of pent up emotions as I did upon the finish of this film. Has anyone ever had anything like this? Being moved by something, so strongly, that you felt like you were shaken out of a slumber and thrust into an overdrive mechanism that was beyond you. I manged to compose the second act of the Noir screenplay, as well as rewrite the first: slicking the dialogue, propering the format and delving deeper into character development. My Jaden would be proud.
What about you guys? God? No god? Existentialism? Atheism? Hedonism? What kinda stuff makes you think, inspires you, moves you and cause you to reevaluate your will-power?
This blog is dedicated to a precursor of the French New Wave movement. It's a little diddy called Bob le Flambeur, or "Bob the Gambler". It's a CLASSIC. I insist you all pick this movie up, pop it into the DVD player and settle into your favorite movie viewing position. Prepare yourself for one of the most influential crime/heist/noir films ever made!
This film was, single-handedly, the main influence in Paul Thomas Anderson's Hard Eight. The influence is plainly evident in some major instances: the young man idolizing Bob, the whore of a girl that the young man loves, the bad gangster trying to steal away the young kid and other details that P.T.A. was compelled to derive inspiration from. He didn't lift direct scenes or anything, so don't go a cryin' THIEF! ye foul thing. But you'll see a lot of similar cinematographic techniques: iris, camera whips, constantly moving camera and things like that. It really adds to the beauty of this moving, and for being made in the last 50's, it really holds up to today's standards. This was the film that inspired Truffuat and Godard, as well as today's version of Truffuat and Godard: Paul Thomas Anderson and Quentin Tarantino.
I'm glad I was able to find this (note: at the library) as I'm not going to purchase it on Half.com for $16 bucks. A fair deal, if I don't say so myself, for it is a Criterion release; something that gets movie geeks moist in the mouth. This film is going to be my inspiration for finishing the abandoned Noir film I was working on since my last blog post. I've been abandoning scripts, and starting new ones, for way too long a time. I just need to go back to the old scripts and nurse them to the powerful cinematic time-testers that I know they have the potential to be, if I'd spend the proper amount of time, care and heart on them. My scripts are like a phoenix, I suppose. They'll come around, when I get my head off of other shit and back into the wonderful world of storytelling.
In other news: I found some potentially awesome reads at the local Buy N Sell bookstore, which added a fanciful coffeeshop, btw, so I can now stalk some intelligent prey over a cup of iced caramel machiatto. I sometimes leave my "screenplay writing for dummies" book out, in front of my notepad, so girls will think I'm uber hip and totally down to party. (note: it never works - don't try it at your local coffee hangout) Anyways, the books I found were:
Crime and Punishment ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky The Portable James Joyce ~ "someone" The Odyssey ~ Homer The Doctor & the Soul ~ Viktor Frankl Pyscopathology of Everyday Life ~ Ol' Sigmund Freud The Collective Works of Plato ~ "someone"
Looks like I've got some readin ta dooooo. And damn, am I ever excited about it. Going to the bookstore never, ever, ever gets old. It's almost as good as going to Goodwill. Speaking of which, I've found the most incredible winter coat in all of humankind. I don't have a pic yet, but I soon will and you'll all want my exuberant warmth when you see this thing. It's a plaid trenchcoat, made by London Fog, circa 1973. It is THE motherfucking shit. You know I mean it when I curse like that. Lined with faux fur and wool, this jacket represents all that is manly in the life of mere mortals. It exudes confidence, class and says "hey, I'm approachable, but you better damn well bring your A game, sister, or you'll be reduced to rubbish by my gusto!" I really couldn't ask for a better ladykiller jacket.
As Mr. Cruise says, in Magnolia: "Respect the cock, tame the cunt!"
Having just recently viewed, and reviewed, Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs, as well as Pulp Fiction, I've come to the conclusion that he might be a just a genre writer; FILM NOIR. I've never thought that before, seeing as to how his work is reflective of many genres. But, in essence, they're all pretty much the same, at the core.
Now, I've seen the Kill Bills, and loved it, but I've also seen the disaster of Death Proof, and loathed it. Jackie Brown was great, True Romance was alright and Natural Born Killers was, eh, it was okay. I realize that the last two were merely written by Tarantino, rather than directed, and I think his steady hand of film knowledge would have prevailed for the last two. Oliver Stone is okay, he doesn't really stand out in my book.
Anyways, I got on this subject because what I'm writing about, now, has this sort of feel to it. Not a Tarantino-eque feel, not a homage and certainly not a rip-off. Just that "feel". Perhaps it's just that genre of crime, which Tarantino so awesomely dominates. Whatever it is, it's what's stuck in my mind so I've been watching nothing but crime films. Here's a list of what I've been watching the past few days, on repeat:
Chinatown (Polanski) Reservoir Dogs (Tarantino) Pulp Fiction (Tarantino) Hard Eight (P.T. Anderson) The Two Jakes (Nicholson) The Third Man (Not Welles) In Cold Blood (Brooks) Seven (Fincher) M (Lang) Breathless (Godard) Alphaville (Godard) Touch of Evil (Welles)
And that's about it for now. Even if I'm not really watching them, I'll still have them on in the background, on the projector, in order to pause from my writing, turn around and feel inspired by whatever scene is randomly playing. It helps, it really does.
Now, I'm not jacking anyone's style, so don't think I'm just watching these films and taking scenes out of them. I'm being provided with inspiration and ideas. To be motivated, one must be inspired. To be inspired, one must be moved. It's something like what Jaden posted on her site a while back: the actor inspires the writer, the writer inspires the director, the director inspires the actor. It's a vicious circle of creativity that whirlwinds itself into the creative processes of actively creative people. Now, that sentence wasn't worded very creatively of me, but you get the idea.
An now, for something completely different: An ode to the woman of my dreams, Jaden A.
Jaden sets my heart on fire. An Endless love, it'll never tire. She has me hanging from a wire. Her love's on ebay, I'm the buyer. For her, I'd be a frequent flier. My type of need, for her, is dire. She's sizzlin hot, just like a fryer. Listen to me, I ain't no liar. She never fails me, she'll inspire. To pull us apart, you'll need a plier. Into her arms, I wish to retire.
I ran out of rhyming words. If you have some of your own, don't just sit there, help me out people. This angel deserves praise, she never ceases to amaze, and other various cliches.