Monthly Archives: October 2008

mortality and some really nice choreography

Charlie Kaufman is one of only a very few celebrity screenwriters: you could include Diablo Cody and perhaps Harmony Korine in this club, but to find more examples you’d probably have to go back to William Goldman and Robert Towne. In the past decade he’s had a remarkable run of fruitful collaborations with music video directors Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry: Being John Malkovich (an astonishing gamble for a first feature), Human Nature, Adaptation, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. These films, especially the last, have been bizarrely popular given their ruthlessly avant-garde approach to storytelling and generally unheroic characters. Kaufman brings the fluid, subjective time of Celine and Julie Go Boating and Last Year at Marienbad to romantic Hollywood drama, and to great effect.

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Posted in filmmaking

out of the corner of my big blue eyes

If you’re at all interested in folk/roots music, check out Farideh’s new album, Symphony of Chemistry. You can preview several of the songs at her MySpace page. It’s a terrific album, very spare, with pointed, even shocking lyrics that seem … Continue reading

Posted in music

i’m still wearing my hollywood sock

If being consistently hilarious isn’t enough, here’s something else in 30 Rock‘s favor: it’s one of the few behind-the-scenes shows that’s smart about all levels of production. While you could count on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip to bring … Continue reading

Posted in filmmaking

son of back catalog

Finished uploading all of The Half-Light Cafe to YouTube. About 40 minutes of really terrific musical and spoken word performances — you can watch them all here: Some of these folks, like Afshin Toufighian and Casey McCann, have albums available, … Continue reading

Posted in advertising, filmmaking, music

al gore gets it almost right; eating your way to a cooler planet

Pollan’s prescription is simple — go back to actual farming. Create “polyculture” farms that plant a diversity of crops, rotate those crops, plant all year (most farms in the Midwest now lie unused for about half the year), and bring animals back to fill their natural function — eating pasture and making fertilizer. And rebuild local and regional food economies so that food doesn’t need to travel so far. Pollan points out that the president can take a lot of steps to make this happen. Some are symbolic — he suggests devoting a portion of the White House grounds to a “victory garden,” as Eleanor Roosevelt did during the war — while others are basic but eminently practical — direct military bases and schools to purchase locally-produced food, and give them assistance and an infrastructure through which to do it.

Of course, reform of farm subsidy is critical, but Pollan points out that this need not be bad news for farmers. Instead of simply throwing over the subsidies and letting farmers fend for themselves, Pollan proposes that we retrench our land-grant universities and begin teaching a whole new method of farming — highly scientific in approach, yet based on working with the natural order rather than trying to dominate it. He argues that agriculture can become one of the “green industries” everyone wants to promote. Careful, scientific polyculture is labor-intensive, requiring constant monitoring and oversight, not to mention a certain amount of sheer hard work. In other words, it creates jobs at all levels, from basic manual work for high school students and new immigrants to highly advanced technical work for college graduates.

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Posted in economics, the environment | 3 Comments

when the pros fail us

HBO has no real interest in putting out this podcast except as a kind of ad for the TV show and HBO generally. Whereas podcasts like The McLaughlin Group have lengthy ad segments mixed into them, and NPR’s shows are funded by the public and therefore ought to be available for free in every medium possible, there’s no revenue stream to pay for Bill Maher’s podcast. Like Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s famous show, it’s just a gift to the public.

This is jolly nice of them, of course, and as advertising it works — I would be interested in subscribing to HBO if (1) I had a TV and (2) I could afford cable. But the fact is that I’m neither paying for the show nor generating ad income for them. So why should they care if it’s plagued with technical problems?

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Posted in advertising, economics, podcasting

more back catalog

This is the first part of a documentary I did (with an assist from Oak and Amir) back in 2002, recording performances at the Atlanta Baha’i Center’s Half-Light Cafe. This segment features setting up for the show, the sometimes weird … Continue reading

Posted in filmmaking

back catalog

Here are the first and second halves of a short film I made back in 2000: As I feared, YouTube’s awful compression makes mush out of Jos’h Hancher’s gorgeous cinematography — especially all those criss-crossing autumnal branches. And frankly, the … Continue reading

Posted in filmmaking | 2 Comments

i’m sure i’ve made mistakes

I always thought Oliver Stone’s grim comedy noir U-Turn was his best film. About as far removed as one could get from his leaden, bloated, ham-fisted political epics, it played Sean Penn’s city-slicker outrage against the slow, stubborn cunning of a small town’s demented populace, and if it wasn’t particularly weighty, it kept me engaged and laughing for its (comparatively lean) two hours.

And with W., Stone again proves that his real strength is in comedy. Unlike Nixon, which I found an interesting fiction utterly divorced from reality, and JFK, which is preposterous even by the standards of make-believe, W. feels like a real attempt to come to grips with a man who is, frankly, not deep enough to be made the subject of high opera.

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Posted in filmmaking | 1 Comment

you could blame the Jews, I could be your Jim Caviezel

This probably goes on about a verse too long, but it’s got its own kind of genius: (If, like me, you didn’t recognize those guys, they’re from Maroon 5, which makes me want to rethink my scorn for that band.)

Posted in Uncategorized