Wednesday, May 31, 2006

One thing stands out.

in the dull and commonplace occurences in day to day living, one thing stands out.
colt 45 malt liquor, motherfucker.


man, i would kill for that table.

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

transcript: Rian Johnson

Rian Johnson made Brick, a nifty "neo-noir" flick that actually kicked a lot of ass. I had about 15 minutes with Johnson in late February when he was in town doing press. Chill, laid back dude who was fiddling with his newfound Treo when I came into the room. I had just come from doing poorly in a freshman-level math course. Printed article is here.
As a note, I originally wrote that Brick won the Sundance Grand Jury prize in 2005. Brick was nominated for the Grand Jury, but did not win. Instead, it took the Special Jury prize. The real winner of the Grand Jury was Why We Fight. I've since corrected that.
also, a lot of my stuff is written in short bursts. this was just so I could speed through my transcript. the full article has the actual questions, these were just placeholders so I knew where I was at.

If you want to read the "Pig Poem" or see "Demon Golfball," they're all on his personal website. At least, they were back when I checked.

ISO:What was the black tarp?
Rian Johnson: the black plastic? Did it freak you out? Awesome. We needed a way to do a bunch of dream-like transitions because the main character’s always passing out or getting sick. Because we had no money at all I wanted to figure out like a Sam Raimi type way of doing it all in-camera. So I came up with this weird idea of using black, plastic trash bags to create like, you know, also because there’s a body in the movie and [the titular “brick”] wrapped in black plastic. So I decided, all right, we’ll see if we can get away with it being an arty motif.

ISO: There were a lot of detailed camera shots.

You mean like [makes motion of the scene where JGL gets punched in slow-motion]…? You want to know details, like how we actually did the shot? The movie’s basically an old-school, hard boiled detective story and the plot is very dense and the language is very dense. It was important to me to have entire moments, entire sequences like that, where there’s no language at all and it’s purely visceral, it kind of jump-startles you, wakes you up and gets your blood pumping. To make this movie an exciting ride as well as this twisty, intricate mystery.

ISO: Huge amount of slang, patois. How long’d it take to get use in this setting?
You mean with audiences or making the movie?
It was tough. Luckily I had a long period, three months with Joe to work before the movie and we were able to figure out how we were going to approach the language. The first thing we tried was a very naturalistic approach to it. Just saying lines as a modern actor would say them, and they just fell totally flat. They didn’t work. We realized if you’re going to have this kind of language, you have to go back to the old-school method of performance. We looked at a bunch of Billy Wilder movies. We looked at older movies, we studied the way—it was a totally different style of performance back then. Strangely, Joseph actually reached back and found some stuff from “Third Rock” that he used to use just because of the elevated style of sitcom performance has that snappyness to it. Obviously it’s a completely different performance in “Brick.”

ISO: Very scripted.
Completely. We had a strict 20-day schedule.

ISO: I found your website…dog umbrella photo?
[Laughs] We had this beautiful dog umbrella that actually broke at the wrap party. I was carrying it around all during the [filming.] We got incredibly blessed with the weather on our shoot. Because we shot it in San Clemente, which is this little beach town in southern Orange County, which is where I grew up and we shot it at my high school. The problem I was more worried about was that it would be bright and sunny the entire time. There were lots of sequences in the movie where I wanted it to be overcast and have a darker feel. The weather totally cooperated. there were certain scenes that I was hoping for clouds to show up and there were clouds, there were other things where I was hoping for a sun flare effect and there’s the sun. There’s this great picture [on my website] of Joe lying on the field and there’s five women all around him holding umbrellas to keep [him] dry.

ISO: Blackberry/trio.
I just got this recently man. It’s great.

ISO:Benefit of special jury prize?
Yeah, I’m living the high life now, man. [laughs.]

ISO: [Living in] LA?
I’m actually in the process of trying to move to New York. But it’s hard, the whole business is back in L.A. so I keep getting pulled back for meetings and stuff.

[We talk about The Edge bar and how it sucks now.]

ISO: Into Storytelling…
Sure…ever since I was a kid I’ve been writing. It’s important for me to have some outlet of storytelling that I don’t make a living off of. There’s something vital about that to have something you do non-professionally that’s creative. Whether it’s just goofing around with music or writing something as absurd as a 100-page long poem about a pig that you know you can never make a dime off of but it’s something that means something to you personally.

ISO: Pig poem?
[Laughs] I wrote that from—it’s like a fairy tale about a pig and a boy who go on this quest to steal the moon—and I wrote it from when I was 18 until I was about 23. For me it wasreally kind of a way of making a transition from adolescent into adult hood, and having a story that evolved while I was changing. It’s a really personal thing for me. It’s something I haven’t gone back and read for a while. I’m always happy when people read it and like it.

ISO: Demon golf ball…,
Nice [laughs.]

ISO: contemp. Retelling of old stories

Well, for me, it’s not easy or hard, it’s something that, for some bizarre reason, I’m drawn to. One thing that I always find gets my juices flowing is finding the honest essence of things that are thought of as clichés. Things that are dismissed because evberyone knows so well, and thinking, “you known what, there’s a reason why these things have stuck around for so many years.” Going back to the original source material and seeing what about this is genuinely, honestly meaningful to me. Finding that and then trying to hop over this layer of lacquer that’s been put on this [genre] because everyone’s so familiar with it and make it vibrant today. There’s something about that, at least at the moment, that gets me creatively excited.

ISO: Brick? What came first?
The concept of it. It all started with getting obsessed with Daschel Hammit’s novels, wanting to do a hard-boiled detective story. It’s exactly what I just described, reading those books and feeling something really powerful coming from them. Feeling this rich, dark world this guy created and wanting to vibrantly take a stab at that. The idea to set it in high school was a way to try and hop over all the visual language of film noir that we’re all so familiar with. Some of my favorite movies are film noirs, like “the big sleep,” “the malteese falcoln” and “the long goodbye.” At the same time, today, the instant you see those images, those shadowy alleyways of men in hats, it’s vbery easy to turn part of your brain off instantly. You know where they come from. You know can place them, you file them instantly. I’m always slightly nervous of telling people the concept of “Brick” that they’re going to think that the twist of setting it in high school was some meta, post-modern deconstruction thing. In reality, it’s a set of different visual cues to take a very honest, straight forward approach to telling a detective yarn.

ISO: Hard boiled characters first? Tug? Brain?
The whole world was kind of conceived as a whole. Each of the characters in it have equivalents in the Hammit,in the original source material. The muscle, “Tugger;” “The Brain” is like an oppritive that the detective always has behind the scenes helping him out. At the same time, one of the really essential things for me about making “Brick,” was that no body making it felt like they were playing just a type. No one thought, “okay, I’m playing the Femme Fatale,” or “I’m playing the loner detective.” I wanted them to be coming at the script and the world in the script is a fresh, new thing. And to find something genuine and honest in each of those characters that they can bring to the screen as opposed to just being aware of, “okay, how am I going to do this version of the Femme Fatale after all these other versions of it.” That was very important to me.

ISO: Cast receptive to hard boiled?
Oh, very. I think the fact that they were a young cast probably helped in a way because they weren’t as familiar with the entrenched history of the genre. Maybe they were a little more free and open to embracing it on their own terms, finding something unique to them.

ISO: Story in NYC?
[Laughs] I want to do something in New York just because I want to be here and spend more time here.

ISO: Working on now?
Con man movie. It’s one of my favorite genres. It’s based on wanting to make a character-based “con man” movie,. A con man movie that’s really, one thing that I think the best con man movies do and I think is a pitfall of the genre, is that it’s very easy for the mechanics of the con to overwhelm the characters. The best of them, like “The Sting” for instance, it’s the central relationship that pulls you through the whole thing. The con just kind of goes along with that, and that’s what I’m trying to with this movie.

ISO: For the film kids, thoughts on Michael bay?
I love Michael Bay. I want to have his love child [laughs]. I do kind of wonder what kind of car he drives. I’ve never posted on his forums, I’m sure he has [laughs] Turn your thing off and I’ll tell you what I think.

-for the record, i won't write what he said.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

a true pirate words can describe my joy.
and that angel so had it coming.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Tables I Dance On

I've got a fever. And the only prescription is more cow bell. In fact, nothing's really been able to keep it in check. I've spent a good chunk of my week listening to all the E3 coverage, since it really doesn't matter whether you're watching Spike TV G4 or reading Kotaku.

Heck, even Kotaku has its own video.

And it only took two days, at best, for Nintendo to be declared this year's wii-ner. Heh. Get it? Because their new system is called the "Wii" and sounds like "We." It's a pun on the word "winner," since that's what we have to do when a company has poor judgment with titles. I mean, wii all have to try something.

Christ all mighty, I rarely treat this damned technology with such fervor. Might be the air, might be the whisky or it might even be the whisky-soaked air that's floating past these windows tonight. All weekend it's set to rain, rain, rain. I've got nothing to do but work, work, watch Tekkaman Blade.

Before a lovely place called Otaku Den shut down, I managed to snag a five disc set of the entire series. This has got it all: armored heroes and villains, space aliens, shoddy 80s Japanese animation, reused sound effects from at least six other TV shows, literal family feuds and gigantic crab-aliens that explode in purple bursts. What's better is that the mecha concept is given that classic time limit twist, since Blade can only stay transformed for a set period before he starts to go all wacky in the head. And by wacky, I clearly mean homicidal.

I once read in this fun book by Susan Napier that--and I paraphrase--the act of "calling armor" is supposed to represent a sexual change. It's empowering, inherently masculine. I don't have a copy of the book in front of me, but this is what she brought up when considering the cyber-punk anime, Bubblegum Crisis. In consideration of The Guyver, Napier states that the transformation is painful--it isn't a coincidence, in her view, that the character who undergoes the change is a teenage boy. Of course, she doesn't really mention the part where he snaps a monster's arms like twigs nor crushing the skull of another particularly nasty creature.

But in these Henshin shows, it always seemed like a better idea to limit the transformation period and let there be grave suffering if anyone dares go past it. A great example can be seen in my current fascination, Garo. In this lovely clip from youtube: our main character--in the white, currently being served by "Norman" from the Big O--can only remain transformed for 99.9 seconds. Afterwards, well...

but bringing this all back to Tekkaman Blade: I just really think this transforming shit is awesome. I have to go. Ed The Sock finally comes on American TV for the first time since Much Music turned into the complete pile of shit that parks itself on 7th Avenue. I just want to see if anything's changed over the last few years.
Also, I've become oddly entranced by Nardwuar over the last few days. Who knows. Maybe I should be learning a few things from him--especially when it comes to dealing with imaginary press people.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

getting dirt on a centaur is easy, like Tetris.

A few weeks ago, my "enter" key broke off. I tried for a while to make due with this minor problem. But then I threw it away. I learned there was a nub under the key, and I became content using the nub. Every day was a rush. My fingers would dance and nail the nub and it was like a minor victory against those conformist bastards that believe keyboards are the way to life.
Fuck you, keyboard conformist manpigbear bastards!

And a week ago, the nub broke off. Now I just press a flat space where my "enter" key used to be.
This makes me think that real typists strip their keyboard of all those silly letters, instead slamming fingers onto flat spaces and hoping for the best.
This is what I do now while I have no work. And, of course, I play Kingdom Hearts.

In fact, I'd totally agree with thisif I too wasn't becoming oddly entranced by the idea that Mickey Mouse does indeed kick ass--albeit with a giant key.

Perhaps there's a form of mass cultural critique that has yet to be taken on this. The concepts of combining the RPG Final Fantasy epics with traditionally non-violent Disney characters into a setting that demands action...

and it's at this point that I realize I take this way too serial. in one of the last columns of the year I wrote, I briefly discussed EmoGirl21, YouTube and its potential to become some sort of evolution to how fads can sustain themselves, such as a certain site (like YTMND) I visit daily. I'm a hard worker.
In any event, EmoGirl21 lives on here if you'd like to continue to prove that you do know what pain really fucking is goddamn it.

I do. I watch G4 (formerly of the Tech) TV and wait for the day when,during filming, the ceiling bursts open, and during the initial shock, Kevin Rose and the Diggnation come in, hand-made potato guns a-blazin'!
Meanwhile, the front door is taken care of thanks to Leo Laporte, smiling that jovial way while he tears the arms off whatever poor fool attempts to stop him. Because you know he can, goddamn it.
And finally, what about Martin Sargent? He forms the head of Voltron, gleefully stomping around L.A. Or bouncing. I mean, the head was technically that black tiger robot with wings. I don't know where the rest of Voltron is. Probably slacking off or being cut up into parts to make the PS3 and the new MacBooks.

so remember, everytime you lose an "enter" key, this is what I think of.

recent thing i wrote that i like:
-Metal: A Headbanger's Journey. A darn fine documentary that you need to buy if only for the best timeline of Metal ever created. Drops on 5/23 on DVD.
-Following Sean. A look at the subject of an original doc "Sean," and whatever happened to him. Arlyck was a blast to speak with. I disliked this headline and made our copy chief aware of it. It's still playing at the Cinema Village in NYC as of this posting. Go see it. It's a thousand times better than "MI:3" or "Poseidon," which I can say since I'm not seeing either. I am running a review of the latter next week though.
-The Post Show. Despite the highs and lows of the show, I remain in their corner. Ironically, they told me about the fact they were going into talks about getting distribution or some sort of deal, but I figured it wouldn't happen until the end of the third season--as of now, they're on hiatus while discussing said deals.. Shows me how much of a "journalist" I am. If you want some choice skits to watch, and they're still up there for now: Sing Along, All or Nothing, Muy Bien and the aptly named Bukkake Rooster.

now to go back and prep for an interview I'll hopefully do tomorrow morning. if not, tekkaman blade.