December 24, 2005

Have Yourself A Maysles Little Christmas

As I type this, the Maysles Brothers classic Grey Gardens is playing at MoMA. Unfortunately, I'm in the wrong time zone to see it, but watching those Crazy Edies suddenly seems like an excellent Christmas Eve tradition. Meanwhile, I will be back in time for what would have been an awesome triple feature, if only they weren't overlapping: sandwiched between the Maysles's incredible documentary, Salesman [a business school in-class screening of which, for better or worse, set me on my...
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Posted by greg at 03:34 PM

October 18, 2005

John Cage On WPS1 (And On Their Blogs)

For the 1993 Venice Biennale, PS1 produced an exhibition of and about John Cage's work calledIl Suono rapido delle cose. This week, WPS1 has added a webcast of the accompanying CD to their archive. The CD features performances by Lee Ranaldo, John Zorn, David Byrne, Joey Ramone, among many others, interspersed among Cage reading his own stuff. Definitely worth checking out. [warning: don't expect any babies to sleep through Ranaldo's jarring chords.] Meanwhile, the Cageian embrace of randomness is alive...
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Posted by greg at 09:54 PM

October 05, 2005

Bill & Nada's "Always Open"

Bill & Nada's was an unassuming Salt Lake institution, a 24-hour diner ["we never close"] that sat on a downtown corner for decades, providing eggs & brains, pancakes with coconut syrup, hot coffee and a haven for folks who didn't care for the uptight, corporate-flavored fuss of Denny's or Village Inn. While it's been years since Nada passed away, Bill and his second wife ran the place until a few years ago; it closed down as giant bigbox retail...
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Posted by greg at 08:37 AM

September 18, 2005

So Long, Farewell

UCLA Medical Center is the epicenter of the Los Angeles basin or something. Robert Wise died there this week at 91. In between editing Citizen Kane and flacking for Scorsese's Gangs of New York [Scorsese was a big fan, so I'm sure it's fine], Wise also directed The Sound of Music, West Side Story, The Day The Earth Stood Still, Star Trek: The Motion Picture... Not a super-auteur-y guy, but in a good way. The Hindenburg,he directed The Hindenburg.... NYT...
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Posted by greg at 08:02 AM

February 04, 2005

Rags To Riches To Jail

Finally, the business model for the ostensibly-aspiring-to-a- Subway-sized-franchise-empire rice pudding boutique on Spring St, Rice To Riches, is explained in a way even an MBA like me can understand: it was founded with proceeds from a $21 million sports gambling operation and used to launder the ring's money. [update: Amy at newyorkology spotted Rice to Riches as a location in Hitch, which may have been the shoot Lockhart Steele saw last May.] Rice To Riches (and back to rice, I'm...
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Posted by greg at 09:50 AM | TrackBack

November 26, 2004

Come See After Life at Reel Roundtable on Dec. 6

I've admired Hirokazu Kore-eda's films since seeing Maboroshi at New Directors/New Films in 1995. His 2000 film, After Life and Agnes Varda's The Gleaners and I were what finally stoked the fire under me to get me finally start making movies myself. Of course, After Life's got much more recommending it than inspiring my ersatz film forays. It shows the development of Kore-eda's highly evocative documentary approach to narrative fiction, for example, a technique he refined in the understated--and underdistributed--Distance....
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Posted by greg at 08:15 PM | TrackBack

September 05, 2004

Zen Lawn

Driving up the foothills to my mother's house in Salt Lake City, you pass a nearly unbroken carpet of lawn, with the thickened, careful edges at the sidewalks that only result from successive generations of earnest teenage entrepreneurs. A couple of segments may be slightly paler than others, whether from mild chintziness, drought guilt, or extended vacation, but the pride everyone takes in their expensive land and expansive valley views is apparent. Right before the turn, though, is an anomaly....
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Posted by greg at 01:56 PM | TrackBack

July 19, 2004

Depeche Mode on Relationships

I remember at college in 1989 a friend proposed to his girlfriend my singing her Depeche Mode's "Somebody". At the time this seemed supremely lame to me, mostly because it was from like 1984, three albums earlier. It was a high school song. Now, though, and for several years, I've found "Somebody" to be quite a touching song. Touching, but not unaware that overly romantic notions of love can "make you sick":...But when I'm asleep I want somebody Who will...
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Posted by greg at 11:09 PM | TrackBack

May 31, 2004

Geezers, Screenwriters & Directors

It's my guess that we cling to the harsher bits of the past not just as a warning system to remind us that the next Indian raid or suddenly veering, tower-bound 757 is always waiting but as a passport to connect us to the rest of the world, whose horrors are available each morning and evening on television or in the Times. And the cold moment that returns to mind and sticks there, unbidden, may be preferable to the alternative...
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Posted by greg at 11:08 PM | TrackBack

May 06, 2004

Go See Derek Jarman's Blue at Passerby tonight

Derek Jarman's last feature film, Blue is composed of a poetic/narrative soundtrack and 79 minutes of unexposed color film, which was printed blue. It rocks. Tonight at Passerby at 8:30, Whitney video curator Chrissie Iles will explain how hard it rocks, and why it's different from changing your TV to "AV INPUT 4" and playing a CD. [You can buy that CD at Amazon, by the way.]...
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Posted by greg at 05:35 PM | TrackBack

Nabokov's Library--and Butterflies-- Sold

Vladimir Nabokov's son and translator Dmitri has sold his collection of his father's books and memorabilia at auction. The Times has a poignant story about it. Many books contained marginalia from the author himself; most prized were those containing Nabokov's expert and beautiful sketches of butterflies. A few years ago, Roth Horowitz, a rare book dealer in New York, exhibited part of this collection. I bought a personal paperback copy of Pale Fire, one of the greatest books ever....
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Posted by greg at 02:12 PM | TrackBack

April 28, 2004

Yes, and the "World Wide Web" is the graphical portion of "The Internet."

"Certainly the show is inventive and cool looking. The voices, most done by the creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, are also hilarious. (Cartman's pronunciation of 'authority'— aw-THOR-eh-tah — is unaccountably perfect.)" - Virginia Heffernan, writing in today--2004--'s NYT. How, exactly, is South Park's moral stance and religiosity-bashing any different now than during the last seven seasons, when the show repeatedly featured Mormons, Christian popbands, Satan taking over the world (and dating Saddam Hussein), and, um, Jesus...
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Posted by greg at 01:18 AM

April 06, 2004

Reading Quentin, my New Bestest Friend

After a night of hanging out with The Man, and sipping from the firehose of his conversation (hey, whatever it takes to get the movie made, right? ahem.), it's no surprise at all that there are fansites dedicated to picking apart the film references in Quentin Tarantino's own movies. Now there's a festival, too: The Kill Bill Connection at London's ICA. The Guardian's Steve Rose is at first fascinated, then typically put off by QT's virtuosic-bordering-on-pathologic quoting, but his look...
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Posted by greg at 03:24 PM

February 20, 2004

Learning at Errol Morris's Knee

Last week, in the Sony Classics offices on Madison Avenue, I sat down to talk with Errol Morris, whose current documentary, The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara, was nominated for an Academy Award. Morris's films are best known for the intensity of the interviews he conducts. He invented the Interrotron, a teleprompter setup that gets the interviewee to look and speak straight into the camera. I, in the mean time, didn't have...
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Posted by greg allen at 12:03 PM

February 17, 2004

Umbrellas of Cherbourg at Film Forum

Ever since 1992, when I stumbled, completely ignorant and unprepared, into a screening of the restored version introduced by Agnes Varda ("she does documentaries or something, right?" was all I had in my head), I've been transfixed and fascinated by The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. It's an unabashed-yet-triste story of young love, set in a color-saturated fantasy French town, about a girl left pregnant and alone when her mechanic boyfriend gets shipped off to the war in Algeria. And the...
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Posted by greg allen at 01:09 PM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2004

19th Century War Reports from Harper's

Since relaunching their website, Harper's has been posting selections from their 140+year archive. For example, "Battle Gossip," an 1861 column by Charles Nordhoff. In addition to vivid accounts of women in combat, Nordhoff writes about Napoleon III's use of balloons for battlefield surveillance; correspondence with the enemy; and animals in war:There are many instances of worn-out cavalry horses, sold out of the army and used in menial employments, remembering and obeying, years after, the sound of a regimental trumpet. At...
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Posted by greg allen at 05:55 PM | Comments (0)

January 14, 2004

John Cage Weekend at Barbican Centre

[via Kultureflash] John Cage Uncaged is a weekend of performances, films and discussions ("and mushrooms!") at Barbican Hall. Cage symphony performances are rare enough to make them not-to-be-missed events. Highlights: Friday's BBC Orchestra concert, "Cage in his American Context," (which will include the first UK radio performance of Cage's most famous work, 4'33") and Saturday's Musiccircus, a happening-within-a-happening which gets an annoyingly giddy description "Bassoons in the bars, flutes in the foyers and, who knows, you might even find a...
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Posted by greg allen at 09:51 AM | Comments (0)

January 13, 2004

On "In What Language," a Different Kind of Airport Music

I'm listening to the composer Vijay Iyer and poet/rapper Mike Ladd discuss their collaborative song cycle, "In What Language," on WNYC's Soundcheck. It explores the inner lives and thoughts of people in international airports, and it rocks. Iyer and Ladd composed the multi-layered, improvisational music/vocal suite in response to the experience of an Iranian filmmaker who was detained, harassed and deported at JFK a couple of years ago. The first scene of my first short, Souvenir (November 2001), is in...
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Posted by greg allen at 02:48 PM | Comments (0)

January 04, 2004

warning: 350pp of the new Cervantes novel

has me talking/writing like a knight. I.e., half Quixote, half medieval times. oh, and all posts will be 900 pages long....
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Posted by greg allen at 09:36 AM | Comments (0)

December 10, 2003

Gus Van Sant's Go-to Guy

Gus Van Sant, Elias McConnell, and Dany Wolf at Cannes 2003, image: There he is, scorched in Death Valley and on the Saltflats of Utah; in a mold-closed school with a barebones crew on scooters; and on the Palais steps of Cannes, where he accepted the Palme D'Or this year for Elephant. Gus Van Sant? Sure, he's there, too, but I'm talking about Dany Wolf, the producer. The guy who actually has to figure out how to make...
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Posted by greg allen at 03:59 PM | Comments (0)

November 25, 2003

Agnes Varda Speaks (and shows film, of course)

[via GreenCine] Doug Cumming's got an account of Agnes Varda discussing a screening of her latest short film in Seattle. Also, an earlier bonus Varda discussion at Filmjourney. My Google Ad, which used to read, "Damn you, Agnes Varda/The Gleaners made me make a film/it's showing at MoMA next month," wouldn't be allowed under Google's prissier, clean up for the IPO-style terms of service. feh. Today, though, Doug's tells of an Errol Morris performance at a Fog of War screening....
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Posted by greg allen at 03:50 PM | Comments (0)

November 08, 2003

Ennio Morricone, The Movie Music Man

In a Guardian interview, Ennio Morricone talks about composing music for films. My favorite of his theories: "The music in a film must enter politely, very slowly," like an uninvited guest at a party. [Guess they raise a more genteel breed of gatecrashers in Italy.] I'm the first to cop to being influenced by Morricone. While still on location for Souvenir (November 2001), I considered using some of his music for our soundtrack. Once the post-production party got underway, though,...
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Posted by greg allen at 04:35 PM | Comments (0)

November 04, 2003

"We can easily believe that Gus Van Sant is worth ten Greenaways."

Gus Van Sant's the center of the universe, you see, or you will see, by the end of this post. [Before, I'd been forced to the alarming conclusion that the universe revolved around Norman Mailer, so you'll understand if i'm eager for a replacement.] Anyway, if you were dazzled by my groundbreaking interpretation of Gus Van Sant's Elephant and Gerry you'll be double-dazzled by Scott Macaulay's excellent interview in Filmmaker Magazine with Van Sant on the inspiration, ideas, and...
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Posted by greg allen at 08:39 PM | Comments (0)

October 23, 2003

Whereas, Ten Hours of Polish Film is NOT an Ordeal...

I came to Kieslowski for the fateful mystery of La Double Vie de Veronique, but I stayed for the unassuming, naturalistic power of the Dekalog. This seminal ten-part series of films is playing this weekend at Symphony Space in NYC. POV has an excellent write-up, with good links to get you in the mood. The Decalogue was one of the greatest unwatchable works of film, ever. For years in North America, the series, which Kieslowski and writer Krzysztof Piesiewicz originally...
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Posted by greg allen at 11:07 PM | Comments (0)

October 03, 2003

"Kieslowski Season!" "Tarantino Season!" "Kieslowski Season!"

To explain how I came up with my Souvenir series of ultimately inter-related short films, I went into an extended discussion of Krzysztof Kieslowski's Dekalog with someone recently. Now it turns out Riverside Studios in London is screening the entire Dekalog starting Sunday as part of its Krzysztof Kieslowski Season. It's not like it used to be, when you could only see Dekalog in festival screenings. Now there's a 3-disc DVD version available, marginally better than the 2-disc set released...
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Posted by greg allen at 02:07 AM | Comments (0)

September 16, 2003

When four Soderbergh links in a week are not enough:

Get the e-commerce fire hose ready*. I'm wrapping up Soderbergh's book, Getting Away With It, and I've rather liked it. Makes me want to see Schizopolis, one of the movies he angsts over in his journal entries. Trouble is, it's only been available on VHS, until now. According to Amazon, Criterion will release Schizopolis on Region 1 DVD October 14. * Just an update on the pressure the e-commerce fire hose exerts: Amazon showed three copies of...
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Posted by greg allen at 11:53 PM | Comments (0)

July 14, 2003

KST:3K, KiaroStami Theatre: 3K

The Guardian's Lee Roberts reports on Iranian film godfather Abbas Kiarostami's debut stage production of the Ta'ziyeh, a compilation of classic tales of the death of Mohammed's grandson, Hussein. The plays are a traditional part of fervent religious festivals in Iran, but are often considered vaudeville in the West. Kiarostami lets a troupe of Ta'ziyeh players do their thing on stage, while synchronized images of Iranian audiences' reactions to the same play are projected behind them. The result: the Roman...
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Posted by greg allen at 05:08 PM | Comments (0)

May 25, 2003

That Elephant in the room just won the Palme d'Or

Swearing may be better in French, but teen shooting? That's best en anglais, mon ami. Gus Van Sant just won the Palme d'Or and Best Director awards at Cannes for his latest film, Elephant, which is Columbine-esque, but actually based on the late Alan Clarke's last film, a 1989 short about killings in Northern Ireland. Check out a review from Elvis Mitchell, wild, anti-american reports from those lushes at the Guardian, and an interesting theory of Cannes' gunloving esprit...
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Posted by greg allen at 09:21 PM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2003

Now We're Gettin' Somewhere, Gerry

The compelling/amusing Super Mario Brothers: A Literary Criticism (thanks, Jason!), which puts paid to my (non-)critique of the connections between Gerry, its filmic antecedents, and SimCity-style video games....
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Posted by greg allen at 03:38 PM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2003

Dirt Mattress, Shirt Basket

Watch Matt Damon and Casey Affleck stagger, scramble and trudge through the desert in Gerry to forget the snow that you staggered, scrambled and trudged through to see it. If that reasoning's too circuitous for you, though, skip the movie; it's deeply self-referential and hermetic. It's the kind of film where half of the audience got there half an hour early, all eager, and half got there three minutes early, sure they'll be the only ones there. Even with...
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Posted by greg allen at 11:58 AM | Comments (0)

December 27, 2002

On Why We Should All Go To Austin, Texas

View from the window at Le Gras, 1826, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce image: Ransom Center, UT Austin Or specifically, the Ransom Center at the University of Texas, Austin: 1) to see the world's first photograph, a view out his window taken by a Frenchman, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, in 1826. Jim Lewis writes about it on Slate. 2) to read the unpublished manuscript of Minstral Island, a futuristic musical by Thomas Pynchon and Kirkpatrick Sale, which they recently acquired. [Fill out...
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Posted by greg allen at 04:28 PM | Comments (0)

November 19, 2002

And I Felt A Little Paranoid Before Learning Pynchon Wrote A Musical

"Mistral Island Manuscript acquired by Univ. of Texas" According to this report from last week, Pynchon collaborated with Kirkpatrick Sale in 1958 to create a musical set decades in the future, where IBM controls the world. Sale gave "Luddite" its contemporary meaning and "wrote extensively on the political, economic, sociological, and environmental impacts of technology." I'm backing quietly out of the room... Pynchon and animation: "Except maybe for Brainy Smurf, it's hard to imagine anybody these days wanting to be...
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Posted by greg allen at 02:40 PM | Comments (0)

Places Where It Feels Odd To Be Reading Gravity's Rainbow

It's not quite like whipping out your copy of Lolita at the playground, but it sometimes feels weird to read Gravity's Rainbow "in public." Can't say if it's the book itself, which is rather unsettling and is shot through with Strangelove-ian absurdity; my used paperback copy (which I sought out for instant authenticity, as if I pulled it off that cinderblock bookcase I apparently had in apparent grad school); the conspicuous tape job (I was clearly the first person...
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Posted by greg allen at 11:27 AM | Comments (0)

October 21, 2002

Weblogging from the Pop!Tech Conference

"Great web philosopher" David Weinberger weblogged several talks at PopTech 2002, which had the theme of Artificial Worlds. From his posts, it sounded like a lot of thought-provoking fun. But what's in it for me you ask? (Me meaning me, of course, not you.) Some speakers addressed stuff that matters to the Animated Musical (which now has a future-based flashback-to-the-present structure, as noodled over here): Ray Kurzweil spoke about the future (of computing), where human brain power and computing power...
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Posted by greg allen at 11:12 AM | Comments (0)

October 18, 2002

Mystics, Astronauts & Filmmakers, or Is Becoming Jodie Foster in Contact The Best I Can Hope For?

Palm recharging at home, I had a little red notebook with me on the train last night, and, still stuck on the entry from the other day, I wrote "Who are such mystics, astronauts, filmmakers, ?, people with a Knowledge, but limited means to convey that knowledge/experience?" Film technology and technique go so far in "accurately" communicating/realizing what is in the director's (realisateur, in French, you know) mind, but how long does it remain effective? Early filmgoers reportedly jumped...
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Posted by greg allen at 12:20 PM | Comments (0)

July 03, 2002

How Wes Anderson influences my career (minor)

To paraphrase Max Fischer: I've applied for early admission to the Edinburgh Film Festival and Cannes. Sundance is my safety. [ is a good source for active fans.]...
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Posted by greg allen at 01:18 PM | Comments (0)

June 05, 2002

Watching Mike Mills for 90 min

When I saw an hour and a half on Sundance Channel blocked out for Meet Mike Mills, I couldn't figure out how interesting he could possibly be. 90 minutes with Scorsese, sure. But 90 minutes with Mike Mills? Naturally, I HAD to watch it. Turns out they showed the entirety of his shorts, Architecture of Reassurance and my favorite, Paperboys. It's one of the most unassuming films in a long time, and it's got a really engaging, smart view...
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Posted by greg allen at 12:26 AM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2002

So tonight, Les Glaneurs et

So tonight, Les Glaneurs et La Glaneuse is on Sundance Channel as I come home from the gym. It's the first time I've seen it on television, not in the theater, and the image difference is quite noticeable between video-to-film transfer and video-on-television (Agnès Varda shot the movie herself in DV). It's a relief/heartening to see that it does look like video on TV, since Souvenir November 2001 looks like video on TV, too. It'll be nice to see it...
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Posted by greg allen at 11:48 PM | Comments (0)