Steven Soderbergh is on Fresh Air Weekend today, talking about the production and release of Bubble.

Check out to find a live stream of the show on some public radio station or another. []
Later, check out the Fresh Air archives at []

Nice. Andy has a very interesting interview with Brokeback Mountain producer and Focus Features co-head Jim Schamus. A lot of talk about the marketing for the film, a little about Larry Miller, not much about the production [perfect, easy, on budget, like a family] or the development [stalled for years, then bam!], but a lot of big, gay, award-winning fun.

Andy: Yesterday, President Bush said that he hadnít seen Brokeback. Do you plan to offer him a screening?

Jim: (Laughs) Actually, the studio has been asked and the studio has answered. We were asked for a print of the movie which we supplied to the White House. So maybe somebody there has seen the movie. I'm hopeful that somebody who knows what it's like to be gay in Wyoming might have seen it at least. (laughs) You supply the print but no one's going to tell you who saw it or anything. We're happy to send a free screener but I have to say, just like everybody else, we're gonna watermark it so it doens't get pirated.


January 4, 2006

Namaste Helsinki


Doesn't seeing this Nordic Brady Bunch Variety Hour-presents-Grease music video make you dream of what might have been, if only those machers in the Finnish film industry had stayed put, instead of moving en masse to Bombay?

"I Wanna Love You Tender"
[, via coudal]

December 6, 2005

My Dinner With Robbe-Grillet

Forget Louis Malle, my evening trying to catch up with with peripatetic curator Hans Ulrich Obrist for a few minutes at Art Basel Miami Beach last weekend felt like it was directed by Fellini. Or Scorsese [think After Hours]. Or John Hughes [Sixteen Candles] for that matter. It was hi-larious chaos all the way through, but somehow it worked.

As our chat got pushed back and back, HUO ended up pulling together a "very small dinner in honor of Alain Robbe-Grillet." We were to meet at The Shore Club at 8, where HUO had "a room with a terrace for drinks." Which turned out to be a conference room/office with a tiny outdoor space over the valet parking. It was stocked for an offsite, with rows of tiny Cokes and eclairs, but no cocktails. Or as the dapper Robbe-Grillet--who has more than earned the right to play the curmudgeon--put it, "Il a promis un verre sur la terrace, mais il y a ni de verre, ni de terrace. C'est qu'un balcon!" [Still, it would be a handy space to have on a trip. HUO is a tireless explorer of institutional collaboration; if I consumed infrastructure so voraciously, I would be, too.]

Anyway, No drinks, no terrace no problem, because HUO's colleague picked up the phone and ordered a mojito for Monsieur on the phone. Then fifteen minutes of smalltalk later, she called to check on the order. So often, these giant art fairs, with their overlapping VIP events leave you wondering if you've chosen the wrong one and are missing something. I knew I was in the best spot in Miami when she called again a few minutes later, and pleaded with the hapless bartender, "Uno mojito, por l'amor de Dios! U-NO Mo-ji-to!"

Like clowns exiting a car, a stream of waiters brought successive, differently concocted mojitos, until we had six, enough for us non-drinkers, too. Then a cart with antipasto and a bathtubful of wine on ice rolled in, which we all nibbled faux-casually in full self-preservation mode, since, except for Mr. Robbe-Grillet, whose eminence gave him the confidence that he would be taken care of, the less famous/faithful among us were not at all sure this wasn't the only food we'd see that night. Turns out the original restaurant was too noisy, so a quieter venue--for 8 people, at 9pm, on Saturday night, in Miami Beach, during Art Basel--was being sought.

Soon enough Tim Griffin showed up, a restaurant was apparently set, and we piled into the Art|Basel|Miami Beach|BMWs and ended up at The Forge, which sounded like an S&M club and looked like Robin Leach had done over Disney's Haunted Mansion. It was, naturally, packed with Tony Montanas, and we threaded our way back, back, back through the din--to the chilled silence of a private table in the wine cellar. Nebuchadnezzars of whatever in individual back-lit niches filled the walls [the normal wine cellar was elsewhere]. Sure was quiet. And freezing. We retired to a private courtyard to let the room warm up, which, of course, it never did, so after first trying to set up a table outside, and after I dopily offered to drape my napkin on Robbe-Grillet's shoulders to stay warm, we went out and joined the haut polloi.

The place was deafening. Though we were able to hear the offer of "surf-and-turf" [at $100+, you'd hope they could come up wit' a classier name] and the birthday antics of the table next to us, we couldn't hear across our own table. thus, most conversation was shouted into the ears of the people on either side of us, or was relayed like a game of telephone to M. R-G. Apparently, they stop playing this game in France at age 5 or so, because R-G [can I call him R-G? I think I can.] spent an unsettling amount of time with his hands over his ears. Unsettling for me, anyway. I mean, who wants to see anyone--much less one of the greatest writer/filmmakers of the last hundred years--do that when you're talking to him?

It turned out, though, that several of the table's stories overlapped: a screening of Last Year At Marienbad on an Icelandic glacier that ended with an emergency airlift; red meat; Patty Hearst and Stockholm Syndrome; Claude Lelouch. Although the owner and staff deserves full credit for their backbending hospitality, the steaks--"Wine Spectator says this is the best steak in the country" were entirely forgettable; I confess, I ate alone at Outback the night before [come on, I'd just gotten into town, and it was right in front of the containers!], and my steak was easily twice as good, and a quarter the cost.

But whoever the angels in accounting were that night, we can only thank them from afar, because we all bolted for the door in order to make Doug Aitken's party by 11:30.

Near the end, we were divvying up the rights to the story: Tim Griffin was getting a thinly fictionalized version for his novel; while Robbe-Grillet himself may use it--or at least the curator-as-energizer-bunny/hero version of it--in a film, since he's apparently showing no signs of slowing down soon; Stefano Boeri may run it in his magazine. I claimed blog rights, which set off a whole new discussion of blogs, the art world, and boingboing. Turns out HUO knows Cory. I guess by definition, two guys who know everyone in the world would know each other, too.

Caryn James acknowledges that talking about Terrence Malick's career involves a lot of speculation--before she proceeds to speculate on his "20 year absence" from filmmaking:

Logic and cheap psychology suggest that fear of success or fear of failure might be involved. He may never duplicate the artistry and acclaim of his early films, and it wouldn't be surprising if the prospect of competing with himself caused creative paralysis in a filmmaker who likes every blade of grass to be shot perfectly.
Whatever. With the man's next movie, The New World, supposedly set to debut this Christmas, you can't help but write about him. I can totally appreciate that.

The Enigmatic Malick Is Back [nyt via iht]

November 5, 2005

N.Y. Doll Revelations

Stuart, our man in Los Angeles, files this report from a KCRW-sponsored screening of N.Y. Doll last weekend where director Greg Whiteley and his producers Ed Cunningham and Seth Lewis Gordon, discussed making the film:

Greg had known Arthur had been in a band as another church member had told him, but the film really started when Arthur told Greg that he had an email that his band was reforming. The first piece filmed was the recovery of the bass guitar from the pawn shop as he had to practice.

The producer also talked interestingly about the way that Arthur's voice changes through the filming from rather stumbling speech patterns early to the rather stirring and dramatic prayer at the end.

The Morrissey part was filmed and edited in after the Sundance festival so it has a changed tone now. [And it's pretty clear that all the celebrity interviews were grabbed in one shot at the Meltdown Festival. In the production notes, Whiteley talks about never having permission to do anything, just going as far as their "Killer has a posse" stance would take them.]

It is also never quite clear, and Greg said this as well, whether
Arthur was expected to be part of the reunion, as he found out almost by mistake. Obviously his fan club had an email for him, and Greg said that Sylvain probably met Arthur about once a year on his annual tours, so he knew he was available/alive.

They do briefly mention [Kane & Johansen] last being together shouting at each other in a trailer park in Florida but nothing more than that. I get the feeling there is a great "New York Dolls" documentary waiting to be made. The Ramones doc was ultimately depressing after seeing these people just beaten down trying to get a big enough audience for their music. [Yeah, does anything good ever come from Florida trailer parks? And the Dolls seemed to drop with predictably Spinal-Tappian frequency, too; not so feel-good.]

I thought Johansen's entrance to the practice area with another video
behind him a day late in the middle of a song rather stagey but Kane seemed genuinely pleased to see him. Also what was the idea
behind only having less than 7 days rehearsal before flying and doing the gig? that almost seemed set up for failure.

Most of the stage footage is from a second show where he is
wearing the spotted shirt with the "diamante tie"; very few shots from
the first show, with the white shirt.

Johansen recorded 2 Mormon psalms, and Greg hoped they would both be on the dvd release.

The DVD is in my prayers. Bless you, Brother Stuart.

Previously: NY Doll - The review

October 30, 2005

Nicholson In, On Antonioni

On the occasion of the theatrical re-release of Michelangelo Antonioni's classic film, The Passenger, its owner and star lead actor Jack Nicholson reminisces about working with his mentor.

It kills me that this is all we get from a 90 minute interview, though.

Nicholson resurrects `Passenger' [lat/chitrib via robotwisdom]
Manohla Dargis's article still packs more punch, I think: "Antonioni's Characters Escape Into Ambiguity and Live (Your View Here) Ever After" [nyt]

On the occasion of the UK opening of Mike Mills' Thumbsucker, the Observer (their Observer, that is) gives the nearly aristocratic Tilda Swinton a good, hard, philosophical fawning over:

I ask Swinton what were considered virtues in her family. She thinks for a while, then says, with an ironic smile, 'Not drawing attention to yourself. Not expressing an opinion. Stoicism. Being a good host - something that I still stand by. I'm very grateful for that genetic programming. Being able to laugh things off - also happy to have that one. Camaraderie - you know, trench warfare. I have a brother who's a soldier and whenever I talk to him about why he's in the army, the things he mentions are the reasons I love making films.' Funnily enough, Jarman once noted in his diary: 'In my own strange way I'm in love with both Keith [his companion] and Tilda, though love is perhaps not the right word. Perhaps a camaraderie, something more military. A friendship and partnership.'
Still worth a read, though.

Tilda opens up: "Pale, posh and scarily clever..." []


Noah Baumbach's latest film, The Squid And The Whale, gets the full court press this week in the Voice, not surprising since it's full of auteur-y Voice-y hooks (like Baumbach's mother Georgina Brown was a longtime film critic for the paper). Anyway, the film, as you know, is basically about Baumbach's parents' divorce in the mid-80's:

"I did make sure I kept an emotional connectionóthat's why Jeff [Daniels] is wearing my dad's clothes and I used my mom's real books," Baumbach says. "It's all blurred; I don't know anymore what's real and what's not. You can fictionalize something and make it more emotionally real than the actual true thing would be."
Arrested Development: Noah Baumbach revisits the fallout of a boho Brooklyn divorce [vv, jessica winter]
Appreciating 'Squid' Director's Film-Critic Mom [vv, rob nelson]
Killer Whale: Noah Baumbach's Ink-Stained Memoir [vv, j. hoberman]

Related: "Clash Of The Titans" diorama at the AMNH: "No one has ever seen a giant squid alive in its natural habitat..." []
Until this week, of course [nat geo]

AB: Were you always going to adapt it [Thumbsucker]?

MM: No, not at the beginning because I hadn't done it before but quite quickly on I thought, "Wait a second I can't imagine directing something I didn't write. Let me at least try." I made a deal with Bob: "Let me try the first thirty pages." And in that first time of adapting it, it really became clear how much cathartic mileage I was getting out of this and how I related to Justin and how much having him as a character was allowing me to say things that I wanted to say, that I needed to say. It's like you know when you make a part of yourself that's kinda weak into one of the characters, it emboldens you. You can be strong with it or you can fall down with it and still survive. The facts are very different and most of the details are very different but the emotional underpinnings are very similar between him and his mother and me and my mother. Then the estrangement he had with his dad is totally different, my dad is completely different but the estrangement is very familiar to me. So it became very personal, very quick.

Artworker of the week #51: Mike Mills []

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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.

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Category: interviews

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