Archive for January, 2011
There is a band called Delicate Steve. I have never heard a note of their music. However, I just bought their record. Or, not really. I downloaded their musical computer files. Because who would not download musical computer files by a band with liner notes that read like this:
Like a hydro-electric Mothra rising from the ashes of an African village burned to the ground by post-rock minotaurs, the music of Delicate Steve will literally make you the happiest person who has never lived. Discovered firsthand by Luaka Bop A & R man Wills Glasspiegel in the parking lot of a Newton, N.J., strip mall, Delicate Steve was signed to the label before anyone at Luaka Bop heard even a moment of their music – all he needed to experience was a random conversation about what they hoped to achieve as a musical five-piece.
“They were just sitting around in lawn chairs, dressed like 19th century criminals, casually saying the most remarkable things,” recalls Glasspiegel. “It was wild. It was obtuse. One fellow would say, `Oh, I like Led Zeppelin III, but it skews a little dumptruck.’ Then another would say, `The problem with those early Prince albums is that he spent too much time shopping.’ I really had no idea what they were talking about, but it all somehow made sense. `We’ll be a different kind of group,” they said. `We will introduce people to themselves. We’ll inoculate them from discourse.’ I was immediately intrigued. I asked them if they wanted to have dinner, so we walked to a Chinese restaurant that was right up the road. I suggested we all get different dishes and share everything family style. They agreed. But then they ordered five identical entrees! So we sat there and ate a mountain of General Tso’s chicken for three straight hours, talking about music and literature and box kites and dystopias. Twenty-four later, they were signed to Luaka and inside a studio.”
Here’s hoping their music is as good as their liner notes!
I always knew Beetlejuice was bad news!
Earth could be getting a second sun, at least temporarily.
Dr. Brad Carter, Senior Lecturer of Physics at the University of Southern Queensland, outlined the scenario to news.com.au. Betelgeuse, one of the night sky’s brightest stars, is losing mass, indicating it is collapsing. It could run out of fuel and go super-nova at any time.
When that happens, for at least a few weeks, we’d see a second sun, Carter says. There may also be no night during that timeframe.
The Star Wars-esque scenario could happen by 2012, Carter says… or it could take longer. The explosion could also cause a neutron star or result in the formation of a black hole 1300 light years from Earth, reports news.com.au.
Really? Two suns? No night sky? I mean … pardon? Is there another planet I can transfer to? Because this one is really starting to SUCK.
In case you were wondering, this was the second best song of 2010. (#1 being Hot Chip’s “I Feel Better,” natch.) And now it is the first best video of 2011!
Awkward Two is more than just a collection of 33 amazing microshort stories; it is also a unique experiment in instant adaptation. We asked five of our favorite independent filmmakers to create adaptations of stories from the book; the results are embedded in the iBooks version of Awkward Two and available for public consumption right now at films.awkwardpress.com. The movies will also soon be available on a special-edition DVD, only available through the Awkward Press Store.
So who are these incredible filmmakers? Let’s meet ‘em! We sent the same 7 questions to all the filmmakers. These are their answers.
When we first started the Awkward film project, Joel was one of the first filmmakers we approached. After reading through Awkward Two, he was immediately attracted to Wayne Scheer’s fantastic story Zen and the Art of House Painting. Within two weeks, he’d put together an excellent script, and we started assembling a crack cast and crew who were willing to work for the sheer experience of being involved in something great.
Unfortunately, the universe was not kind to the Zen production. One unexpected hurdle after another kept cropping up, forcing us to delay the shoot multiple times. It nearly became our Don Quixote. But to Joel’s credit, he managed to stay focused and determined no matter how many obstacles the universe tossed his way. And I’m glad he stuck with it: the end result is a wonderful, hilarious short film with which I’m extremely proud to be associated. Kudos to Joel and the cast and crew for pulling it off in spectacular fashion and giving us the final piece we needed to make this project a roaring success.
Also, with the completion of Zen, we are now able to press the DVDs that were included as a free bonus with web orders. So if you’ve been waiting patiently, your wait is almost at an end! We’ll get the discs in the mail by the end of the month. Thanks to everyone for their support and we can’t wait for you to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Now, let’s meet Joel!
The Interview Portion
Majestic And The Masked Man
1 – Who are you, and why are you here?
My name is Joel Maguen. Due to a temporary existential crisis, I don’t know the answer to the second part of that question. (more…)
In honor of our commitment to awkwardness in all things, I decided to create a very special list for 2010: the most awkward news events of the year. Why 8 instead of 10? Because 8’s a more awkward number.
So here, in my humble opinion, are 8 of the most awkward things that happened in 2010. In chronological order.
1. January: the tallest man-made structure ever built, the Burj Kalifa in Dubai, opens. This is awkward for two reasons: one, this tower is so much taller than absolutely every other building anywhere near it that it simply looks ridiculous; two, Dubai ran out of money while building it and had to turn to its neighboring Arab Emirate, Abu Dhabi, for finishing funds. As a result, it was renamed “Burj Kalifa” at the behest of the Abu Dhabi government. This is a little bit like building the tallest building in the world in New York and having to name it after the Canadian prime minister.
2. April: Volcanic ash from the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull interrupts air traffic across Europe for over a week. This is awkward both because it’s almost inconceivable that a word could have as confusing a spelling as “Eyjafjallajökull,” and also because it reminds us that Nature can still kick Man in the ass whenever it wants. (more…)
It’s that time of year again, folks. What would our end-of-the-year wrap-up be without a lil’ Top Ten Horror Movies of 2010 That You Probably Didn’t See?
Truth be told –- this year, it was pretty slim pickings for the genre. Rib-bone thin. The multiplexes presented a dearth of horror flicks worth leaving the house for. Venturing beyond the genre offered a few deadly diamonds-in-the-rough for those brave enough to go hunting for them – but they’re out there, believe you me, lurking within some of the furthermost sections of the video store. I can feel myself already catching heat from the die-hards for a few selections on this list, but let’s be completely honest with ourselves here: Some of the most unnerving, truly frightening, utterly engrossing horror films of the year wouldn’t even be considered quote-unquote horror by traditional genre standards. I dare you to defy my selections for the best horror films 2010 had to offer…
Buried, Splice, The Crazies, The Last Exorcism, The Children, Altitude, Survival of the Dead, Rec 2, The Disappearance of Alice Creed, The Eclipse, and The Horseman.
Written and directed by Adam Green.
Watch the trailer here.
Full confession: I am not a fan of Adam Green’s Hatchet films. At all. Reductive rather than resourceful, his lauded slasher re-hashes smack of microwaved leftovers from a Vorhees family Thanksgiving dinner circa Friday the 13th Pt. V. So – imagine what a pleasant surprise it was to encounter FROZEN. Coming in with the lowest of expectations, I was happy to discover a film that prefers patience over genre-pandering. Taking a very simple concept, a trio of friends stranded on a ski lift, Green goes for broke and milks every conceivable polar-moment for their blistering potential. Frostbite has never felt more palpable onscreen… or this much fun. The camera lingers on skin-in-distress to such an intense (zero) degree(s), it’s impossible not to feel one’s own flesh crackle while viewing it. Kudos to Green for favoring the simplicity of a humble story and telling it well, taking the physical limitations of his conceit and turning them into narrative strengths – which only makes the fact that FROZEN was book-ended between Hatchets, parts one and two, all the more disheartening. Back to the slasher re-treads, I guess… (more…)
Great interview with Jon Lovitz in the AV Club. He’s friends with Madonna! Who knew? The best part is when they ask him about the movie Trapped In Paradise, a film where Jon, Dana Carvey, and Nicolas Cage are stuck in like Alaska or something. I never saw it. I remember the poster. it looks like the poster for Grumpy Old Men, only with three men instead of two.
JL: [Pauses.] Well, I feel like I’m very fortunate to be in movies at all, but I called it Trapped In Shit. I love Dana, and Nicolas Cage was great and we became friends, but the director [George Gallo] just wasn’t there. He wasn’t directing. It was a bad time in my life personally, because my father had just died Dec. 25. And I’m up in the snow with no light—we did night shoots for six weeks. It was like 25-below. Everyone was fine, but after six weeks, the whole crew started going crazy ’cause there’s no light. It really affects your mood. Then we moved to Toronto, so we’re shooting inside. It wasn’t fancy, but inside during the day, this was a luxury. It was like 31 degrees, but it felt like summer. So as soon as I worked during the daylight, my mood changed.
But the director would say, “Just do whatever you want.” He was bragging about what a great director he was before he hired us: “I’m as good as Rob Reiner and Martin Scorsese.” This is George Gallo. I said, “Don’t you think you should let other people say that?” We never even got to read the script. He’d go, “Well, let’s rehearse this.” I’d go, “Oh good, we get to rehearse.” And he’d start screaming at me, “Do whatever you want!” And I go, “Saying ‘do whatever you want’ is not direction.”
Six weeks in, Dana and Nicolas took over. We were doing this scene where we had to take these trash bags out from the trunk of a car and change clothes, and it was complicated. Nicolas was like, “What do you want?” And George goes, “Do whatever you want.” Nicolas said, “No!” Nicolas ended up basically directing that scene, because we had to choreograph it. It’s too much stuff in action; you can’t just do whatever you want. You have to shoot a master, then you shoot coverage—you have to match everything. You have to plan it out. It’s absurd.
And the movie did horrible, but people like it. I’ve done a lot of movies where I thought, “This will be fun” and it’s a disaster but then people like it. So you never know. But what made me angry was the director started blaming us and said I didn’t know my lines, which was complete bullshit. I was on the set and I asked him, “Is this the scene where…?” Because when you’re doing a movie, they shoot out of sequence. So we’re shooting in the middle of this empty field and there’s nothing. I asked the director, “Is this the part of the scene after we steal a Lexus and it goes over the cliff, and we’ve climbed up the hill, and it’s starting there?” He goes, “I don’t know! I don’t have time for these questions! You have to know the script!” He was right—I should have known it better, and I hadn’t looked at it enough—but it turns out the answer to my question is “yes.” So I knew it enough. And he wrote the thing! It was like, “You don’t know where we’re starting the scene from?” I mean, he didn’t know anything.
I don’t care, I’ll tell everybody: He wouldn’t even come out of his tent. It was freezing cold, we’re out there shooting this scene and there’s a problem on the set, and he’s 50 yards away in his tent. We go, “George, what do we do? There’s a problem.” And he goes, “I’m looking at fucking Jupiter.” It was ridiculous.
Ha! “I’m looking at fucking Jupiter” is the second best quote of the decade, right after Bronson Pinchot’s quote from Tom Cruise in another A.V. Club interview:
He was tense and made constant, constant unrelated homophobic comments, like, “You want some ice cream, in case there are no gay people there?” I mean, his lingo was larded with the most… There was no basis for it. It was like, “It’s a nice day, I’m glad there are no gay people standing here.” Very, very strange.
A few days ago, Sarah and I were sitting around with our baby, as we are wont to do nowadays. We had had enough of television after trying to muddle through an awful but supposedly underrated movie called In Her Shoes. It was directed by Curtis Hanson who also directed L.A. Confidential, which is one of my favorite films. This was not one of my favorite films. There was a period of my life in which I refused to leave a movie unfinished; if I started a movie, I would watch it until the bitter end, regardless of how much I was enjoying the experience. Those days are long gone. In the age of Netflix and babies, if a movie hasn’t captured my attention within fifteen minutes, I’m done.
Having failed in our movie-watching attempt, Sarah requested that I read her and Hazel a story. I love to hear the sound of my own voice, so I obliged. My book of choice for this assignment was Richard Brautigan’s Revenge of the Lawn. Brautigan’s stories are short and strange and wonderful and they sounded really nice when being read aloud to my wife and child on a rainy night in Los Angeles.
Brautigan’s stories got me thinking that a nice experiment for the New Year would be to write some kind of story every day. It wouldn’t need to be the best story I’ve ever written. It most probably would not be, on account of the limitations that arise from trying to crank out a new one every day. But as long as there is some kind of thing that happens, it counts. For example, my story for today is about how I was inspired by Richard Brautigan to write a story every day for my New Year’s Resolution. And now the story has been told and we can officially mark this first day of the project a success.
I will be posting these stories on our tumblr account – awkwardpress.tumblr.com. If you would like to join me in this project, I’d love to have you. Please create a tumblr or posterous in which to tell your stories and send me the URL; I will gladly link to you. If enough people join the experiment, maybe we can do something in published form at the end of 2011. I know a guy.
Let the tales begin! And Happy New Year!