Thursday, July 23, 2009

A List

I'm stuck, so I'm making a list. Everything seems like it's too much of a production to write about it (in the sense of having a lot of thoughts but not an organized through line), but I know it's not. Not even close--but making a list sometimes helps me focus. So. Here goes.

Under the heading of Outfest

American Primitive - liked, bit after-school special like, but accomplished first feature.

Fusion Shorts - Really interesting stuff from around the world. More thoughts? Not sure. A friend's short was in it so bad judge when you know people.

Englishman in New York - John Hurt reprising Quentin Crisp. Well done, and brought up some stuff because of Crisp's own seeming self-hatred and self-acceptance schtick along with the short beforehand with Derek Jacobi as a mean, aged Jewish queen who pickpockets people at funerals. This, mixed with a not well-observed character in "Hollywood Je T'aime", brought up some stuff about the archetype of "The Tragic Queen" which one faces every year in some iteration at Outfest, and I'm sure any gay film festival

Hollywood Je T'aime - Uh, see above. And then some other stuff that didn't work for me, but what did was anytime the main character had anything to do with auditioning, etc. That's the film that should have been made. Chad Allen was good, and the main actor shows some promise, but his passivity came across as one-note. Still confounded at the "This will make you fall in love with LA all over again" sell. I guess, if you like watching crappy bars, apartments, people getting stoned or drunk constantly and disappointing each other while they destroy themselves. Not like it's managing to do for LA what Wings of Desire did for an apocolyptic Berlin. Some nice cinematography, especially in Paris, but underneath a really strange cynical world view mixed with unlived characters. That's a larger issue--a lot of people write movies as if the only people they've ever met are characters in movies.

Pornography - not my genre, and know the filmmaker, so bad judge. But all in all I loved that it was telling a different story, and telling it well. It may be as oblique as a Lynch film, but it's compelling the whole time. Some really good performances, especially from this level budget, which I don't imagine is a huge amount. And that it was filmed in 16 days is quite amazing. I'm really excited for Dave. Super excited.

TMFBI - Too much facebook information. Short attention span theatre. "Look at me, look at me", or "Be scared of this!" What's all this doing? Can anyone concentrate on anything, or be actually where they are? It's certainly feeling more difficult for me. Is creativity relevant in a world where it's all output? Is there just too much information for us to digest comfortably? Discuss.

Economy - while we're at it, yikes. And let's not get started on water supply.

I worry.

Yoo-Hoo Mrs. Goldberg - I must see this this upcoming weekend. That, along with Humpday, are my two musts.

And more yoga. Yoga definitely helps.

And I still haven't been able to write about Sherman Alexie's "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian", because I really loved it, and have no idea what to say except "read it!". I'm working on it. For some reason I don't like to analyze anything I really love. I just want to say "Read this!"

No pressure.

Yoga, really, yoga.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Jonathan Ames

I'm in a Jonathan Ames phase for some reason, so I just thought I'd post that.

If you don't know him, the best way to put it is the subtitle of the collection I'm currently reading, which is "the adventures of a mildly perverted young writer". I just read about his wondering around Venice in the winter, and his odd sexual escapades while there, and in Europe. Something about his wondering around Europe alone and neurotic struck a chord with me. I'm Jewish, I worry, and I wa(o)ndered around Vienna for six weeks with nothing to do. And I was there because during my first trip I had met a Scotsman on the ringstrasse who took me to his flat can probably figure out the rest. Getting to know him better I found out he was a WWII fanatic/expert who worked at the UN and had studied for the priesthood, and had had a nervous breakdown at the end of his last relationship. He took things seriously. So I know a little about wandering around and looking for something, especially when that city is New York, where he's based.

I've also read "The Alcholic", his memoir-ish graphic novel about his drinking, and "The Extra Man", a novel about a sexually confused young man who somehow gets a job as a social walker of sorts, but also frequents tranny bars. Odd combo. I got a couple of his collections from when he wrote for the NY Press recently (What's Not to Love and My Less Than Secret Life) that I'm reading now.

There's something in the restlessness of his wondering, and in the "how did I end up here" quality of his adventures that I identify with, I guess. He's a participant voyeur, and always at a little distance looking somehow to make that emotional distance a little less. And he's not unfeeling at all, just probably a little too feeling. It's confessional, but even though it's graphic somehow it's never sordid. It's laughable, and touching, and sometimes painful. It's a neat trick to be confessional, slightly self-obsessed, but charming and not off-putting. Certainly his adventures are odd and hilarious, but there's feeling underneath all of them that he articulates without wallowing. A style all his own, I think.