Oscars. Oscars. Oscars

31 01 2006

The most absolutest funnest thing about the Oscar nominations (save for the fact that, in a rare sense of retribution for forcing East Coasters to stay up past midnight to watch the actual ceremony, they announce the nominations at the ungodly hour of something like 5am LA time — to fit the New York time zone news cycles) is that it leads to so much useless pontificating about Trends In The Industry. Then, about two days after the awards, the American Public goes back to watching what it damn well cares about — which generally means that Deuce Bigelow will still trump Capote when all is said and done.

In any case, we’re about to have another year of “It’s The Independents Who Know What’s Up” type of commentary. Of course, they’re right in one way. But, after having been to a Sundance Festival just last weekend, where every major independent film was completely dependent on star casting to get a release, it’s hard to work up much enthusiasm. Does anyone really think that the people who work on $60 million films care less about their product, than the maker of a $60 thousand dollar film? I’ve worked on cheap films and expensive films and I’ve never met anyone who didn’t give a shit about their work. When I was on The Cotton Club, Coppola once threw a fit on stage because (as he put it) “I’ve got sixty million bucks and it still seems like a fuckin’ low budget film.” Which I took to mean that he still wasn’t able to craft the film to his liking because of budget constraints.

Sure, he was whining, but can anyone tell me that Chumscrubbers was a better film than Godfater 1?


Oh, any in case you cared, I’m actually pretty stoked that Paradise Now got nominated, and that Brokeback got eight nominations. I doubt it will win half of them, but it’s still great to see a film with that much going for it, actually getting a nomination. When I fill out my ballot, I usually assume that most of my picks won’t end up on the nomination list. So, for those who were wondering, here was my list of the top films of the year (of the ones I saw — admittedly a limited list) in alphabetical order.

  1. Brokeback Mountain
  2. Capote
  3. Constant Gardener
  4. Crash (sorta)
  5. Good Night and Good Luck (sorta)
  6. The History of Violence
  7. Howl’s Moving Castle
  8. Last Days
  9. Look At Me (sorta)
  10. Matador
  11. Paradise Now
  12. The Squid and the Whale
  13. Transamerica
  14. Weather Man

I’m actually kinda stoked that so many of them ended up getting nominated.

Sundance Memories (if I’ve got them)

31 01 2006

Sundance, to those of us on the other side of 40 (well, maybe I should admit to 45… well, maybe I… ++ Never Mind ++) seems like our idea of what 25 year old Melrose Avenue habitues do when set loose on the Strip with too much money.

It’s more crowded than Soho in New York on a weekend, when the Bridge and Tunnel crowd bus in from New Jersey and Long Island in a desperate search for *** fun ***. The most boring parties are the ones you stay at for more than an hour. The most exciting restaurants are the ones that you can’t get into for two hours.

And, actually, aside from an unfortunate stomach virus that knocked me out for a few days, I enjoyed it quite a lot.

Now, I was there to do work — sorta. I was teaching in the Film Center (which was called the Digital Center last year, but still was in the basement of the Main Street Mall), giving a series of talks on Storytelling through Editing. One of them was about picture editing (if you’ve taken my Intermediate Editing class, you’ve gotten the longer version of it — 16 weeks of it, as opposed to 60 minutes). Another was about using sound and music to do the same thing. The classes were jammed packed, and enthusiastic. I’ll tell you, it’s enough to give a guy a severe case of the “feeling gratified.”

As for the films I saw… well… there’s a story there. But the long and the short of it is that I saw… well… none. I didn’t do my due diligence and I was counting on getting in with some other USC people. But the tickets were in even worse supply than last year (which was my first Sundance, and the reports then that getting tickets was worse than ever). Most of the big films will be coming out in the next few months anyway — in fact when we went to see the incredibly disappointing Walk The Line a few days ago, they were running a trailer for Thank You For Smoking, which played at the festival. The really interesting films were running in the World Competition and the Dox and, for all I know, down the street at Slamdance.

USC students and alumnae were all over the place. The USC party was actually a complete and total gas. Then the Jennifer Aniston party after that was incredible. Well, not really. Well, actually, I wouldn’t have the foggiest notion. I don’t get invited to any of those parties.

Next year, would someone please invite me to a party where there’s going to be a photographer?? I don’t want to be photographed, I just want to be at a party that rates a photographer.

Anyway, I’m back to work now. It looks like I’m going to be co-editing a genre film in the next few months. More on this in future posts, but I figure I can rest after I’m dead.

You Know You’re Busy When…

16 01 2006

There’s nothing I like more than wasting my time doing blog entries. It’s such a wonderfully wasteful use of my time. It’s not like there are more than ten or fifteen of you who actually read these entries, but I love doing them.

It’s so much more interesting than finishing reports or grading papers (not that I actually assign papers, but never mind details; this is a world where fiction can pass for fact in the halls of publishing, so don’t worry).

So, you know you’re busy when you can’t find time to do a blog entry in two weeks during winter break!!

Nothing gets done in Los Angeles from Xmas until New Year. In fact, very little gets done in all of December!

I did see a few movies and I did fly back and forth to New York to bury my Dad and help my Mom. I did try and juggle some reports and hire some teachers. But I spent over a solid day of flying time and didn’t find the time to read one book??? Whazzup with that?

An interesting thing happened to my Mom as she was cleaning up my Dad’s drawers — cleaning out old socks and the like. She found an envelope with some cash in it — not much, just about fifty bucks. But she didn’t know that my Dad had stashed it there.

Then she found another one.

And another one.

Then she found one behind the bed end table.

And some more in the sock drawer.

By the time she was done, she had found $1900 in a ton of envelopes.

I’m told that one of the things that is not uncommon in Alzheimer’s patients is that they will squirrel things away — money, change, keys, etc. I don’t know if this is true, but he must have been doing this for years.

In any case, the good thing is that my Mom’s got some money to help her through these times when the paperwork for pensions and life insurance etc. take forever to go through.

$1900. Out here, you could easily go for… oh… two weeks on that.