May 2002 Archives

I tested out
Shutterfly, which, on paper (or in a powerpoint presentation for VC funding), seems like a throwback to 1999, that wistful era when putting an e- in front of everything was all we needed to usher in world peace (or the United Federation of Planets, if you're from the Bay Area). That's a lot of cynicism for a company that's still in business, and that sent me some very fine prints of the Souvenir November 2001 production stills. I was skeptical, because Shutterfly wouldn't accept TIFF files, only JPEG, and I didn't imagine the resolution would hold up. Not to worry. Even at 8x10, the resolution's fine, just with progressive scan lines slightly visible (it's a DV image, after all). There was also a bit of unannounced cropping (video aspect ratio is 1.33:1, where 8x10 is, well, 1.25:1, about 3/4" narrower), and the 8x10 was like $10. Snapshot-sized prints were $0.50 or so, so go ahead and print up that memory stick full of spring break pix. For bigger prints, though, especially for a big pile of prints, Kinko's ($2/print, color) still rules. Shutterfly should do well where there's no Kinko's, though. Wherever that is.

Met with Winy Maas last night, one of our architects, who is in town for like 36 hours (a veritable vacation for him). We talked about our project (which has been on our backburner for a few months b/c of the movie, frankly); police and policies in Amsterdam and New Amsterdam (although his firm, MVRDV, is in Rotterdam, I needed the symmetry more than the accuracy.); and mobility, moving, and movies. A video they produced as part of a research project, "Pig City," was the subject of intense interest and debate last year in the Netherlands and was shown at The Oberhausen Int'l Short Film Festival a few weeks ago. and a bad pic (scroll down past the corn maze). And here is the top search result for "pig city" on Google, an article about the terrible conditions of massive hog farms wonderfully titled "Bright Lights, Pig City."

Even though filmmaking has extensive educational programs and professional accreditation, it doesn't throw up high psychological barriers to entry: everyone--from a cool Dutch architect to an overworked suit to the guy at the comic book store--feels able and entitled to make a movie. And it can turn out really well (hopefully in more than 2 out of 3 cases). And despite architecture's most strenuous attempts to throw up walls of regulation, theory, accreditation, and specialized knowledge around its practice, a bunch of middle-minded bureaucrats at the LMDC don't hesitate to make far-reaching architectural decisions, but with a far greater surety of disappointment and failure.

Apropos of nothing, really: I just got home and am catching the last few minutes of
Where Angels Fear To Tread, otherwise known as the E. M. Forster adaptation Merchant Ivory didn't do (Although with the Italian setting, and the overlapping cast members from A Room With A View--Rupert Graves, Helena Bonham Carter--it could understandably be mistaken for their work). Nevertheless, it was Judy Davis's performance in Angels that continually blows my mind. The scene where she sets out into the Italian town, nearly paralyzed with fear of the "natives" and not understanding a word or gesture of Italian, is brilliant. A very small scene, all told, but remarkably played. Of course, she was also great in the other non-MI Forster adaptation, the brilliant-but-long A Passage to India.

Apropos of all that, then: Watching A Room With A View was a formative movie-going experience for me. Having been an indifferent movie consumer before going to college, I inadvertently discovered foreign films on campus my freshman year. (The first one is another story, but that would be a meta-digression.) Still, I had been playing catch-up, seeing only those classics that showed on campus. ARWAV was the first "art film" I saw in a theater. A packed theater in Salt Lake, to be precise; it seemed to have opened in Utah well after building word of mouth around the country. Anyway, I went with fellow BYU rebels Robert and Tuki. I had no idea what to expect, but in the engagement party, when Daniel Day Lewis's Cecil said, "I have no profession. I daresay it's a sign of my decadence." we all busted out laughing. We were completely alone, though; the rest of the theater was dead silent. It was the first real realization that I was much smarter and more sophisticated than everyone else in the world. No. I was in college; I already knew that. I actually realized that movies could play on multiple levels. Here was something we liked that no one else (in the Utah theater, that is) noticed.

May 30, 2002

In this article in

this article in Prospect Magazine Mark Cousins provides a whirlwind history of film theory as he explores the question-turned-tagline: Should cinema tell the truth? ( Here is a list of Cousins' other Prospect articles. He seems like a conservative romantic, but not in a necessarily bad way.) He wonders in print whether "cinema" should focus on its own formal characteristics, personal expression, or "reality" and "real issues." Unsurprisingly, the answer is yes.

Why couldn't we have it all? A three-ring circus of cinematic development? Have so-called auteurs address real topics, important topics. He suggests getting David Lynch or Baz Luhrman to edit a movie of Shoah survivor interviews. "Or ask Scorsese to make a film about Rwanda. Give Jane Campion free reign [sic] on 11th September. Chantal Akerman on Le Pen. And what about the Coen brothers on Ahmedabad?" I would probably point out that this type of cinema does, in fact, exist. Scorsese's poetic Kundun was certainly more effective (or "valuable to our future," to use Cousins' criteria) than the feeble Seven Years in Tibet. And of course, Errol Morris' The Thin Blue Line was a gripping, formalistically innovative film actually helped overturn an innocent man's conviction for murder. But whatever. Cousins' argument doesn't seem to really connect with how movies get made. ("Give Jane Campion free rein on 11th September?" If Abbas Kiarostami can jump in a van with a DV cam and make a compelling documentary about AIDS, and if a newbie can jump into a rental car wtih a DV cam and make a film about dealing with September 11 in a documentary style, what's stopping her?) Cousins is just engaged in a the cinematic equivalent of Dr Seuss' If I Ran the Circus. Post-script: After writing this I googled him, and he turns out to have been the director of the Edinburgh Film Festival, which I'm waiting to hear from. So I guess his ringmaster cred isn't totally lacking. (Did I mention how much I love the circus??)

May 30, 2002

In Central Park, the

In Central Park, the only part of the
Whitney Biennial I saw includes a very nice sculpture by Keith Edmier. Located on 60th Street, on a site usually programmed by The Public Art Fund (which collaborated in the Biennial's Central Park presence), the sculpture consists of two 3/4-life size bronze statues of WWII soldiers in dress uniforms, standing on granite bases. They look for all the world like any public war memorial/monument. The names and information on the bases both help and don't help; you'd guess they could have been worthy of a public monument, but you sure as heck don't recognize their names. No news there. The figures turn out to be Edmier's grandfathers, both of whom fought in WWII. One died an old man, and the other committed suicide while on active duty in the war. Personal history--and painful personal history at that--cross paths with public memory and commemoration. [Interestingly, WWII, Korea, and ANZAC/WWI rank 1,2,3 in that Google search.]

The parallels are quite enticing between Edmier's work and my documentary on my own grandfather's lives that kicked off this weblog. Not that there are any specific similarities between his grandfathers and mine; just that the subject, or the medium, if you will-- grandfathers-- is the same. When, in the course of talking about the movie, I'm asked, "Oh, and who are your grandfathers?" it's basically the same question Edmier forefronts: who are these two men that they should have a bronze statue in Central Park? [I touched on this a little before.]

Thanks to my tablemate last night at MoMA's annual Party in the Garden [generic link, sorry. MoMA's a lot of things, but strong on the web isn't one of them.] for the heads up on Edmier's piece, which had previously only been shown in Europe (AFAIK). George Hamilton just walked by outside my window. He's quite tan.

May 29, 2002

In the Voice today,

In the Voice today, there are a couple of interesting articles about the (most recent)
death knell of independent cinema (Universal's ringing up its purchase of Good Machine) and how there are no options left for emerging/just-starting-out directors. And how director/activist/archivist John Gianvito made his movie for $100,000. The film, "The Mad Songs of Fernanda Hussein, is a Gulf War epic which took two-plus years to produce. Read the Voice review here, where it's called "the valiant, battered embodiment of true independent American film."

Since I'd just been buoyed by Steven Soderbergh's comments on the Miramax site for Full Frontal, I try to refuse despairing as much as the Voice would like. That said, I certainly haven't cracked the code for making whatever film I want. There are degrees of blitheness between directors plotting to max out a deck of credit cards ("we dont have debtors prisons; I didn't really see the downside.") and those with Soderbergh's fallback ("I know I can always go raise a few hundred thousand dollars and make something on the cheap.") but the drive is still the same.

Apropos of none of that, I must link to this article by Jason Gay from the NY Observer about Maysles brothers disciple Barbara Kopple's The Hamptons Project. From this and other reviews, the show sounds eerily reminiscent of summer 1983's The Hamptons: The Nighttime Soap, inspired by the success of Dynasty-spinoff The Colbys (here's a fan link site.)

ANYWAY, the only reason I mention it because of this line, this new word, from Jason Gay's review: "Still, a lot of The Hamptons goes on and on and onóitís more of a collection of scenes than plot-driven entertainment, in its moodier parts, it feels like Hamptonisqatsi. [italics original]"

Who ever said weblogs shouldn't just talk about what's in the news today?

May 29, 2002

when I put the

when I put the tagline in's directory listing on
NYC Bloggers ("following the making of an independent film and the film...maker who... made it."), I was, of course, making reference to Austin Powers. Naturally, in this grand, navel-gazing web of ours, I am not alone. But while I'm in an Austin state of mind, v1.0 is a site (with a wry e-commerce culture essay) I did a few years ago. In fact, it was just about this time of year when I registered Cannes, in fact, where the AP premiere party was held in a "shagpad" a nerd would have called a tent.)

May 28, 2002

Back in New York after

Back in New York after a weekend in DC. First things first: Invites are out for the preview screening of Souvenir November 2001 on June 3rd. Send email if you're interested in joining us.

Sent off the application for the Montreal International Festival New Cinema New Media (is that the name? Honestly, I can't tell which combination of "Festival International Nouveaux Cinema Nouveaux Medias Montreal" in Eng/Fra is actually the title.) For the first time, though, I included production stills. To print these out from the DV files, I just pointed Kinko's to my ftp site. They cranked out a bunch of 8x10 glossies that, frankly, surprised me with their quality. There's something about a pile of slightly curled black&white production stills that makes me feel legit. (Of course, the motherlode collection of film stills is at The Museum of Modern Art. They have over four million stills, which used to be available in NYC to researchers and the public. Not now. With the closing of the Manhattan museum for construction, the film stills collection has been moved. This caused quite a scandal, which was reported in the NY Observer. I'll add a deep link when their search function is working.)

The weekend: Since our current pad in Washington is right above the Iwo Jima Memorial, we had frontrow seats to Rolling Thunder, a massive MIA-POW biker rally that culminated in 450,000 bikers rolling on the Pentagon Sunday morning. They filled those massive parking lots (and all the freeways around) with choppers. Pretty impressive. Of course, the Pentagon was between us and church that morning, so we got an extended appreciation of the scale of the rally. If they were selling Jane Fonda paraphernalia, my guess is it wasn't her aerobics tape. (on C-SPAN Radio we heard a number of VietNam vet/bikers express their still-smouldering hatred for "Hanoi Jane.")

Congratulations to
Paul Thomas Anderson, co-winner of the Best Director Award for Punch-Drunk Love at Cannes. The Palme D'Or for Short Film was awarded to PÈter Meszaros for Eso Utan (After Rain).

And congratulations to HBO for their documentary, In Memoriam: New York City, 9/11/01.

"Damn you!" campaign results (source:
Google Adwords)


  • The low number of searches/impressions for Varda and Maysles was surprising, as was the high rate (2x) of Wes Anderson searches vs PT Anderson and Soderbergh. And this was a week when PT Anderson had a movie debuting at Cannes. It could be that the high quality of search results for Soderbergh and PT Anderson (both of which lead with eponymous and actively updated fansites, and, respectively) may lead to faster search "resolution" than for Wes.
  • The ads were generally effective, with clickthrough rates falling within--and in some cases, on the high end of-- ranges reported for online ads.
  • It is heartening to see that the two directors who inspired me most have the highest clickthrough rates. The " factor" is a subjective ranking of "most inspirational," I guess. To date, both Varda and Soderbergh have three explicit mentions/discussions on the site. Varda was an inspiration to get going, and Soderbergh was critical to getting through production and editing. Maysles is hugely important, too, but frankly, more for the documentary project that launched the site than for Souvenir. The Magnificent Andersons are inspiring more for their ability to pursue and realize their singular visions at such an early stage in their careers. (Some people call that ability "final cut," like in Guardian interview with Paul Thomas Anderson aboutMagnolia.) (Oh, and we called straight-on, centered, camera angles "Andersons" after Full Frontal, which has it's own behind-the-cameras website. (Although it's not in real time; the film's sliding release date means that "Week 3" lasts for months on the site.) Interesting to you? Interesting to me.

  • The "Damn you!" ad campaign on Google is just about half-over, and the results are rather interesting. (The launch is mentioned in this post.)

    The campaign appears on searches for the names of directors who inspired/influenced me, either stylistically or professionally (or both). Since all these directors have turned up here during the making of Souvenir November 2001, I figured ads using their names wouldn't be gratuituous, but relevant. In addition, I figured someone who searches for a director's name (especially one of these directors) would be a nice audience for the site and the movie; they're presumably interested not only in independent film, but in the filmmaking process, too. And if we share interest in these directors specifically, well... Here's an example of the ads:

    Damn you, Wes Anderson!
    You made me want to make a movie,
    so I did. click to read about it.

    I spent $10 for each name/ad combination, which, bought about 7-800 impressions (at the retail $15CPM). With this spending cap, the duration of each ad was determined by the frequency of Google searches for each director's name. Next: results data and analysis for the campaign.

    May 23, 2002

    The end of the month

    The end of the month means a rush of festival submission deadlines. Today I shipped off entries for the Mill Valley Film Festival (in northern CA) and the Palm Springs International Festival of Short Films (down south). Also in the works: Venice (the big one), Montreal (the cool one), Tahoe (the crunchy one), Indianapolis (the sweet one), and Sarajevo (the darkhorse; a movie about the aftermath of violent destruction could either resonate or repulse).

    May 23, 2002

    Director's Headshot

    One of the reasons I'd delayed submitting to some festivals was (of all things) my lack of a "director's photo (B/W)," which some festivals require. Last week, Roe Ethridge, a friend and artist whose work I've collected for three-plus years, took some photos of me. In the pinch, I scanned in a Polaroid and printed it out for the submission packets, but there are real prints on the way.

    Roe works as a photographer for a huge pile of magazines. While the photos he took with Julian Laverdiere to develop the Towers of Light/Tribute in Light may be more widely seen, his extremely smart style shows through much better in the photo he took of Andrew W.K., which is everywhere, including on the cover of I Get Wet, and on T-shirts.

    As if that weren't enough, he's got a show of his work at Andrew Kreps Gallery which got great reviews in Artforum, The New Yorker [note: time sensitive link], and The Village Voice[inexplicably, there's no link to their picks].

    As if that weren't enough, the show's selling like crazy. I even got smoked when I was too slow to commit to a photo; the last one sold to the Mexican billionaire collector (you know the guy). Check it out until June 01.

    Went to Columbia's commencement ceremonies yesterday and today. My wife walked through to receive her degree. Afterwards, we met astronomy professor to the stars, David Helfand (as seen on The Daily Show).

    Private screening has been set for Monday, June 3rd, in NYC. For those who expressed interest, look for email in a day or two as details gel. Stay tuned.

    May 22, 2002

    Monday we went to

    Monday we went to a screening of Matthew Barney's Cremaster 3, the fifth (and longest) of his five-film series. Richard Serra (co-)stars. Using Barney's favored medium, Vaseline, he re-enacts his Splash series (from 1968-70)--where he threw molted lead against the juncture of floor and wall (actually, against what looks like a small Prop piece, a series of precariously balanced metal slabs he also started around that time).
    Here is Serra's bio on the Guggenheim site.Here is an image of a 1992 Splash work, although you may have to go to the DePont main site and work your way down to it. These pieces date from right around Barney's birth. Or, more precisely, the start of Serra's career dates from right around Barney's birth. There's more where that came from, if you're interested.

    All in all, I was glad to see at least half of it. It was certainly well produced. Marvell didn't write "If we had world enough and budget" for a reason. Knowing that you're going to sell your props for mid-six figure sums no doubt liberates a director from some concerns. But it's the same dilemma that comes from digital filmmaking: now there's no reason you can't see your vision realized on the screen. Or as Abbas Kiarostami said it in the interview I linked to yesterday:

    Now, this digital camera makes it possible for everybody to pick it up, like a pen. If you have the right vision, and you think you're an instinctive filmmaker, there's no hindrance anymore. You just pick it up, like a pen, and work with it. I predict that, in the next century, there will be an explosion of interest in filmmaking, and that will be the impact of the digital camera.

    I just now noticed that Kiarostami doesn't necessarily predict an explosion of interest in seeing these untethered visions, just in making them. I worry that Barney may face a similar situation.

    May 22, 2002

    J. Hoberman has the

    J. Hoberman has the
    first review I've seen of Paul Thomas Anderson's Punch Drunk Love from Cannes. He calls it "the oddest entry so far, without a doubt." (Unfortunately, you have to read about Michael Moore before you get to it. Second to last paragraph.) It starts out promising, then turns kind of bad. Anderson fans will be happy, though, I'm sure.

    While surfing for Cannes reports, I found this great Indiewire interview with Abbas Kiarostami from the 2001 Double Take Documentary Film Festival, timed to the premiere of ABC Africa, his doc about AIDS in, well, Africa. Some highlights:

  • The film was made during "location scouting," when he was still deciding whether to accept the UN's invitation to make a documentary.
  • "But when I actually started using [the digital cameras] -- and when I realized its possibilities and what I could do with them -- I realized that I have wasted, in a way, 30 years of my career using the 35mm camera, because that camera, for the type of work that I do, is more of a hindrance than a communication tool."

  • Information architecture question continued from the last post: Using the content of the weblog itself as a starting point, I created the directory of films and directors I've referenced and turned it into a navigation tool. When I've only mentioned a director (e.g., Paul Thomas Anderson) without specifying a film, I've left it off for now. We'll see how it works. I feel comfortable with this method of mining the archives, though. Still working on the best way to highlight non-production, non-film entries. They may eventually sort themselves into "art" and "about me" categories.

    There's no clean category for rants about some of my domain names expiring unexpectedly, throwing my sites into chaos for 3-5 days (I'm told), so I'll leave that story for another web log.

    Be afraid. Be very afraid. "All twenty screens were showing Attack of the Clones at midnight..."

    As you can tell from the Google sitesearch function, I've been looking for weblogging tools to make the archives accessible in a more intelligent way (Even I get tired of scrolling through a month's worth of gripping prose. ahem.) Talked with a classmate and friend, John Borthwick about it, since he's always been very smart and on top of where the web's going. (two data points: Read his testimony in the MS antitrust case here. AND he was an early supporter of Blogger back when things like that could be a business. [and now, with BloggerPro, they may be again. Thanks, Ev!]) So far, nothing, though.

    The crux of the problem is that archives work well for searching along the time axis, but not much else. Regardless of what David Gelernter says (in this case, in an interview with George Gilder), time is not always the best way to sort data. Of course, he doesn't say that it is, but his schtick right now is Lifestreams, a time-based knowledge management paradigm. Even the interface king, Steven Johnson doesn't have anything to say about what I guess is an IA (information architecture) question. (In a recent Salon article, Johnson does talk about weblogs as the utopian collective mind, "making sense of the web's infinity of links." I mean, that's great for the universe, but what's in it for me? All the recent buzz about weblogs seems to focus on their power as a newsfilter/zeitgeist-o-meter, or top-ten-generator. All that's well and good; Isigned up for the Weblog Bookwatch. But there seems to be an aspect to weblogging that is distinct from this supposed desire to be the next Andrew Sullivan. As Albert Maysles said in an earlier post:

    Most people never get the chance to have themselves truly represented and thereís nothing that they'd rather do than have people. . . attention to who they really are, to give them that recognition.

    Weblogging seems to make this an increasingly attainable reality for those people who don't happen to have a legendary filmmaker documenting their story.

    Some things I've thought about for presenting the content on this site:
  • Presenting steps/phases/happenings in the life of the movie project in a more visually oriented timeline.
  • Highlighting non-movie-related posts that are either popular (e.g., Andreas Gursky and Madonna, although Google is the source of these hits in the first place) or that I like and want to share (e.g., comparing real-life farmers with Terrence Malick's).
  • Top-ten posts, although this can be a scam, or at least a fabrication, as it appears to be on NUblog, a cranky web content site.
  • An index, like they used to have in books (I guess they still do.) I'm interested in seeing what emerges from some quantitative and KM-related analysis of; it surprises me how many entries in September 2001 were about poetry, for example. And then to see what movies I've watched and commented on could be interesting, at least to me (and to the future scholars of my oeuvre, of course. I'm that kind of a magnanimous guy.).

    Any comments or suggestions?

  • Went to an IFP24 Market orientation meeting tonight. This doesn't mean Souvenir's been selected for the market yet; it was a Q&A session for filmmakers hoping to participate in the Market. Here are the bullet points, primarily as they relate to Souvenir:

  • In the section Souvenir's entered, they'll select 15 shorts from probably 2-300 submitted.
  • The major prospects for a short film are pretty clear, and the Market is useful for at least the first two (in order of priority to me): first phase of a feature/series; calling card; and acquisition/distribution target.
  • To wit, focus more attention on film festival programmers and production companies than on distributors and buyers.
  • Be prepared to discuss the next project, whether it's expanding the short into a feature or directing another script (both)
  • Also, focus efforts not only on the short term (hook me up!), but on the long-term as well. (It's a relationship business, after all.)
  • Spend wisely (i.e., not that much) on glossy press kits, promo gear, etc. for industry people. They don't really care; they're looking for and at product, the talent; not the peripheral crap. (But what about all those muffin baskets I've been sending out?) Save the glossy promo material for the fundraising.

    LOLOL. Jon Stewart just said, "We're Oldie McOldington," on The Daily Show. And now Rupert Everett's tearing France a new one. Heh. He's funny.

    Of course, as soon as I started this entry, I turned on IFC and Ridicule was on, so I had to watch it. It's by Patrice Leconte, and it is a rippingly funny, smart movie about the court of Louis XIV, where wit was the coin of the realm, so to speak. Here's Roger Ebert's review.

  • All that Adwords talk got me thinking, so I climbed in bed with Google myself (or went into the alley behind a dumpster with it, anyway). I launched a small campaign, titled "Damn you!" to promote the movie. In it, I faux-curse some of the directors whose work/example inspired/encouraged me to get off my butt and make a movie.

    Each ad starts out, "Damn you, < insert director's name here >!" which is not a reference to Happy Gilmore, or even to Homer Simpson, although you're getting close. It fell from the lips of God's (and the NRA's) anointed, Charlton Heston, in the last scene of Planet of the Apes.

    Testing my campaign, I found this article on Apple's site about the production of Steven Soderbergh's new film, Full Frontal.

    Full Frontal, as you can read, was made with nearly the same level of equipment (DV and Final Cut Pro) as Souvenir November 2001. And in just four months. 18 days of shooting. $2 million budget. With Julia Roberts, David Duchovny, David Hyde Pierce and Catherine Keener. There's a website that documents the production of the film, week by week.

    Now, if you have trouble telling the difference between Souvenir and Full Frontal, just remember: Full Frontal's shot in PAL with DAT sound. Souvenir was shot in NTSC with MD sound.

    Submitted Souvenir November 2001 to the following festivals today:

  • Locarno Int'l Film Festival
  • Short Cuts Cologne
  • Siena Int'l Short Film Festival

  • Poetry using Google Adwords: One more non-traditional (at least by contemporary standards) medium for creative expression (besides ebay and amazon reviews, which I mentioned last week.) The difference with adwords, of course, is that it costs you money ($15/thousand views these days). This guy did it in April. I did it in February. 2001.

    There are two creative elements of an ad on google, of course: the ad itself, and the keywords it appears on. To drive a little traffic to my site (and to amuse myself, really) I set an ad to appear on searches for "haiku." It wasn't that the site that has anything to do with haiku, it was Google's adword format--which had launched at the end of 2000--which clearly resembled haiku:

    Invite visitors
    to my cluster of sites
    through keyword purchase

    While editing this post, I found an interesting article from the Online Journalism Review on the emergence of text ads.

    May 12, 2002

    I was on a panel

    I was on a panel today at -scope, an art fair held here in NYC this weekend. Hoping to follow in the tradition of the Gramercy International Art Fair, which began in the mid 90's by filling the rooms of the seedy-but-cool Gramercy Hotel with young galleries from here and there, -scope put galleries into three floors of the Gershwin Hotel and scheduled a bunch of ancillary events: a benefit, a concert or something, and "Collector's Day," (aka Mothers' Day). Here are some of my views on collecting art, from a wall text of an exhibition I curated 18 months ago.

    It was fine. A panel discussion is one of those tricky events where something a self-absorbed person deludes himself into believing (that, of course people want to hear him hold forth on whatever enters his head) veers dangerously close to reality (people do come to hear him say something; it's not a panel of mimes or monks, after all.). But too much self-deprecation aside, it went pretty well, I think. people only began to flee after an 1.3 hours or so, a respectable amount of attention to pay. So kudos to Bill, who organized and moderated, who probably collects more than I do, and who was easily dissuaded from holding an "art collector's game show" (his first idea). [Click here to become a contestant on Jeopardy!]

    May 10, 2002

    Just got back from the

    Just got back from the Tribeca Film Festival screening of The Director's Cut of Cinema Paradiso. What's the difference? Well, Giuseppe Tornatore originally released a 155-minute version of the film, which went unnoticed, then it got cut down to 123 minutes or so. That's when it won Cannes, Cesars, Igors, and the Oscar. So obviously, the thing to do is put back not only the missing 20 minutes, but an additional 15 minutes on top of that.

    So what's the difference in the story? In the movie experience? Since I can't think of a reason why you shouldn't know the story (It's been 13 years, after all. How long are we supposed to keep a secret?), I'll spoil it for you. When Toto/Salvatore goes back to his hometown for Alfredo's funeral, he finds, meets, comisserates, and hooks up with the grown-up Elena, his long-lost teenage love. The whole reason they were separated turns out to be the saintly Alfredo, who told Elena to forget Toto and not look back. That's the big difference.

    But as Vincent Vega wisely noted, It's the little differences. Toto's first sexual encounter is with the 'ho who turns tricks in the movies (and who gives him a nod years later outside Alfredo's funeral); the sister's married, with kids; Elena's parents were very involved and opposed to the kids' relationship; Toto's stint in the army was due to a bureaucratic error; he changed his name to make movies. It all adds up to more information and character exposition, but far a less coherent narrative arc and a much muddier emotional mandate. Toto's less likable, Alfredo's more meddling and less sympathetic, and Elena's, well, she can't live up to the idealized, true love that lived in Toto's mind (and that drove Toto to make his films). It was interesting to see the movie as a complex but ultimately negative example of a director's unfettered vision. That the shortest version could be "pulled" from the longer version, that it could be so completely different in its emotional nuances was very instructive.

    One last point: The setting of the film--in the aftermath of WWII--and the family's irrational waiting for the father to come back/their denial that he'd been killed resonated more than I remembered. Of course, on both the way in and the way out, festivalgoers crowded the 3rd, 4th, and 5th floor windows of the Battery Park mulitplex, which offered full frontal views of the World Trade Center site across the street.

    on the DC>NY amtrak: is a weblog like annoying conversations from the seats around you?


  • Picked up my bulk order of 20-minute VHS tapes
  • Started duping screening copies of the movie (eight and counting, so far)
  • Prepped entry packets for the Int'l Short Film Festival Berlin, the AFI Fest in LA, and the Mill Valley Film Festival in the Bay Area. All these festivals are in Oct./Nov., after the NY Film Festival, the ideal/dream festival for Souvenir (November 2001).

    Also, because I've been remiss in my Steven Soderbergh references lately, I finally found out what Itchy and Scratchy said on their DVD commentary in a recent episode ("The Bart wants what the Bart wants") of The Simpsons. A fan on a message board posted the comment as "There's no pleasing Steven Soderbergh."

  • For those who think weblogging is now too mainstream, there are alternative outlets for creative expression. Some, like Amazon reviews (of Ping, for instance, or the been-around-the-web-and-back Family Circus) are persistent. Others, like ebay auctions, are perishable. Follow the money, of course. Since I'm more interested in clearing out space in our apartment, recouping the cost of the film, or just making a quick buck, I've mostly opted for the perishable.

    Here is a sampling of my ebay auctions. Read them for their scintillating entertainment value; of course, bid only if you're really interested. Believe me, some of the old ones were HI-larious:

  • The Visionaire Bible, a limited edition art/design/fashion magazine/objet. Very big in the 90's
  • A rare messenger bag prototype/sewing sample. Don't worry, I bought the only two known to exist. I'm keeping the other one.
  • A limited edition album from Matthew Barney's last movie, Cremaster 2. I have a couple of these, too. I'm much less into hoarding than I was in 2000-2001.
  • A USB PCMCIA adapter, purchased because I didn't notice my laptop already had a USB port.

  • Ricci Albenda, an artist friend had a party to memorialize his installation at PS1, which will be taken down tomorrow (the installation, not PS1). I went early to see "The Short Century," Okwui Enwezor's extremely far-reaching show of contemporary African art.

    The most engrossing piece was actually a film Ousmane SembÈne, the first and greatest of African filmmakers. One of his first films was a 20-minute short titled, Borom Sarret, a realistically shot portrayal of a day in the life of a poor Senegalese horse cart driver. Here is the NY Film Forum's page on their Sembene festival. Here is some info on Sembene from a film course at Emory University. Here is some info on Borom Sarret from an American U. course.

    THEN, I got home and immediately turned around to see Abbas Kiarostami's African AIDS documentary, ABC Africa. Interesting. More later, but I'm beat.

    It's hardly ever a pleasure to read Orwell, or Christopher Hitchens, for that matter, but after you do, you're annoyed at how worthwhile you find it. (Unless, of course, you're a huge Henry Kissinger fan. Or Henry Kissinger.) To wit, Hitchens' writing on Orwell in the LA Weekly. Having just barely finished cleaning up the piles and bills and invites and life that accumulated during the editing of Souvenir, this excerpt from Orwell's "Confessions of a Book Reviewer," pulled me right in (just find and replace "cigarettes::red vines" and "tea::diet coke"):

    In a cold but stuffy bed-sitting room littered with cigarette ends and half-empty cups of tea, a man in a moth-eaten dressing gown sits at a rickety table, trying to find room for his typewriter among the piles of dusty papers that surround it. He cannot throw the papers away because the wastepaper basket is already overflowing, and besides, somewhere among the unanswered letters and unpaid bills it is possible that there is a cheque for two guineas which he is nearly certain he forgot to pay into the bank. There are also letters with addresses which ought to be entered into his address book. He has lost his address book, and the thought of looking for it, or indeed of looking for anything, afflicts him with acute suicidal impulses.

    (Oh, and find and replace "acute suicidal impulses::self-doubt and recurrent calculations of the income I'm forgoing by not working for The Man.)

    Brought home a couple of video works to screen/consider by the artist Gabriel Orozco, and they're amazing. It's been about five minutes, and already I'm taken. The artist made five videos as part of Recordings and Drawings, a 1997 show at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. They are 40-60 minute streams of things Orozco sees through his video camera on the streets of New York and Amsterdam. The title for each video is comprised of the first and last images on the video. [I'm watching From Flat Tyre To Airplane right now. From Dog Shit to Irma Vep is next.] Here is an excellent discussion of Orozco's use of video and the genesis of this project. The museum finally got around to publishing a book based on the work.

    They're quite rough, raw, really, edited solely in the camera. As such, though, they get pretty close to the "eye of the artist," especially in the case of Orozco, who makes a specialty of working with the most mundane, unprecious materials possible (his last show at Marian Goodman Gallery included works made of dryer lint, plastic bags, and rubber balls with dried palm fronds). I'm not sure which way it works: 1) either Orozco points out the art/beauty we overlook everyday in objects and situations around us, in which case he's extremely self-effacing and magnanimous, or 2) through his art made out of these commonplace objects and concepts (reflections, circles/spheres, leaves, etc.) he takes over the world, or at least our vision/viewing of it (now everything looks like an Orozco!), in which case he's a megalomaniac. Do those options have to be mutually exclusive? I mean, I plan on stil being nice to people when I take over the world...

    May 1, 2002

    that said, look up

    that said, look up "albert maysles rides the bus" on google. Jussec, i gotta search this bus for filmic moments.

    (in any case, riding the crosstown bus just got less boring. For me, anyway... )

    May 1, 2002

    so now i can post ...

    so now i can post to my web log from my cell phone. Can i be worth reading in < 140 char.?

    Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

    Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

    comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
    greg [at] greg [dot ] org

    find me on twitter: @gregorg

    about this archive

    Posts from May 2002, in reverse chronological order

    Older: April 2002

    Newer June 2002

    recent projects, &c.

    Our Guernica Cycle, 2017 –
    about/kickstarter | exhibit, 2017

    Social Medium:
    artists writing, 2000-2015
    Paper Monument, Oct. 2016
    ed. by Jennifer Liese
    buy, $28

    Madoff Provenance Project in
    'Tell Me What I Mean' at
    To__Bridges__, The Bronx
    11 Sept - Oct 23 2016
    show | beginnings

    Chop Shop
    at SPRING/BREAK Art Show
    curated by Magda Sawon
    1-7 March 2016

    eBay Test Listings
    Armory – ABMB 2015
    about | proposte monocrome, rose

    It Narratives, incl.
    Shanzhai Gursky & Destroyed Richter
    Franklin Street Works, Stamford
    Sept 5 - Nov 9, 2014
    about | link

    TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -

    Standard Operating Procedure
    about | buy now, 284pp, $15.99

    CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
    Canal Zone Richard Prince
    YES RASTA 2:The Appeals Court
    Decision, plus the Court's
    Complete Illustrated Appendix (2013)
    about | buy now, 142pp, $12.99

    "Exhibition Space" @ apexart, NYC
    Mar 20 - May 8, 2013
    about, brochure | installation shots

    HELP/LESS Curated by Chris Habib
    Printed Matter, NYC
    Summer 2012
    panel &c.

    Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
    background | making of
    "Richteriana," Postmasters Gallery, NYC

    Canal Zone Richard
    Prince YES RASTA:
    Selected Court Documents
    from Cariou v. Prince (2011)
    about | buy now, 376pp, $17.99