David Carradine: A Great Storyteller

June 15, 2009


Less than a month ago, while working on a short film in Canada, I was on my way to pick up David Carradine and take him to breakfast.  I was more than a little nervous, as I’d never worked with an actor of his magnitude before and didn’t know what to expect.  As I knocked on his door, I braced for the worst – an awkward, silent car ride, breakfast at separate tables…

Imagine my surprise, when, within moments of walking in, I was instead treated to David’s appraisal of Bob Dylan’s new album, then moments later his reminisces of his own dabblings as a songwriter.  By the time we finally made it to set a couple hours later, I had heard about everything from his childhood in Los Angeles to how he met his wife to his abiding love of good coffee.

Read the rest at BlogStage!


Hear Different about New Directors/New Films!

March 23, 2009


New Directors/New Films/New Panda

New Directors/New Films/New Panda

New Directors/New Films is the one of many exciting cinephile things to do in New York City that I have somehow managed to avoid for the nearly 6 years I’ve been living here (NYFF – I’ll get to you eventually). That is, until last week, when I lucked into an opportunity to review a couple of the films at the fest for the Lincoln Center Film Blog.  While I wasn’t crazy about either of the films I saw, it was still exciting to see something well, new, and artistically serious during this season of shitty films.

I’ll excerpt both of the pieces I’ve written here when they officially go online, but until then you should check the FilmLinc Blog for all kinds of reviews from the festival and a bunch of other exciting film-nerd stuff as well.

And in case you were wondering about the adorable pandas, they’re just there because I couldn’t find any interesting pictures of the festival or Lincoln Center or anything, you know, relevant.  I guess I could’ve posted some still from one of the films, but then again, none of those stills feature cute animals, do they?

Late Oscar Reactions: Changes, Good and Bad

March 2, 2009
this man is a dandy

this man is a dandy

Despite the lack of surprises among the actual winners (see mostly accurate predictions here, here, and even here), the general consensus seems to be that Sunday’s 81st Academy Awards were one of the most entertaining Oscar ceremonies in years. Much of the credit goes to producers Bill Condon and Laurence Mark, whose had cryptically promised big changes to the telecast in the press leading up to the show.

While I do think that, overall, the show was unusually brisk and amusing, I’m not sure all of those big changes were successes. So I thought it’d be useful to evaluate each of them on their own. Without further ado…
Read the rest at BlogStage!

Two Lovers: Gwyneth + Mario!

February 17, 2009


what could possibly be going on here?

what could possibly be going on here?

I saw Two Lovers a few days ago, and already offered some thoughts on Joaquin Phoenix’s lead performance earlier today, but there were a few other thoughts I had about the film that I wanted to share.

First of all, and I’m not sure I made this clear enough in the earlier piece, but I really loved this movie.  I’d never seen any of director’s James Gray’s work before and I really only went because the girlfriend and I felt like seeing a movie on Valentine’s Day.   So I had almost no expectations going in, aside from the usual skepticism about any movie coming out this time of year, particularly one that premiered at Cannes 9 months ago and has mysteriously been sitting on the shelf until now.  

But, shockingly enough, Two Lovers turned out to be really excellent – a serious, dramatic film with a really compelling and surprisingly funny (!) lead performance that gave it a unique feel.  In retrospect, I can’t believe it wasn’t released for awards consideration, because (hyperbole alert!) probably more so than anything else I saw last year , it was an accomplished, thoughtful movie delivered in a neat, satisfying narrative package.  That’s not to say it was necessarily better than Rachel Getting Married or A Christmas Tale or some of my other faves, but it didn’t have the messy quality of those films and thus has a more straightforward appeal.  It’s the kind of movie I’d expect to win big awards and have no problem with, like say, Million Dollar Baby (a very different film but you get the idea). Read the rest of this entry »

Hear Different at BackStage.com

February 10, 2009

Well, I’m a big deal now.  I’m trading in my girlfriend for a cold-blooded Eastern European model, giving up my cheap vices for sexier, more expensive ones (gold-plated heroin!), and in general upgrading my lifestyle in a way that would suit a montage set to Jean Knight’s “Mr. Big Stuff.”

I'm feeling like this guy after he gets all the endorsement deals in D2, except without any endorsement deals or money whatsoever.

I'm feeling like this guy after he gets all the endorsement deals in D2, except without any endorsement deals or money whatsoever.

OK, not quite, but I will be writing for a site that has actual readers!  From now on, I will be blogging primarily on BackStage.com’s BlogStage blog (whew, that’s a mouthful).  It will basically be the same content, albeit shorter and with less fuckin’ swear words.  Everything I post there will be excerpted here, with a link to read the full article at BlogStage.  And I’ll still post occasionally on I Heard Different if I’m feeling particularly long-winded or sweary.

There’s lots of other great stuff on BlogStage, so you should definitely check it out if you’ve somehow stumbled across this site.  See you there!

The Ethics of Celebrity Schadenfreude

February 4, 2009

pat-obrienNot to dwell on this story, but this whole Christian Bale thing got me thinking about a larger issue.  I don’t consider myself a mean, spiteful person, and yet, when a juicy tidbit like this comes along, I have no qualms about seeking it out, enjoying it, and, if it’s entertaining, spreading the word about it.

I never really questioned the morality of this until one day, I was among some new friends and happened to bring up the unbridled comic genius of the the Pat O’Brien drunken sexual harassment phone messages (should be pretty easy to find online if you haven’t heard them.  They’re quite funny).  One of my new friends was not appreciative, as apparently he was good friends with O’Brien’s son and knew firsthand what a big mess it was for the family.  Rough.

So…that was a little awkward.  And it made me wonder if I should, I don’t know, maybe feel a little guilty for enjoying it so much (you could even say I went crazy for it).  But then again…nah.  I thought about this again last summer when was reading this fantastic New Yorker article on what a depressive Alec Baldwin is, where Baldwin bitches about, well, a lot of stuff, but mostly relevantly the leaked tape of angry message he left on his daughter’s voicemail.  Now I like Alec Baldwin a lot , so it was a little bit of a bummer  to realize that, by listening to the tape and chuckling when he calls his 10-year-old a “selfish little pig,” I am indirectly causing this wonderful man heartache.

I thought maybe from that point forward I’d try to stay above all this mess, and so, as I wrote yesterday, I gave Christian Bale the benefit of the doubt when I first heard about this latest debaucle.  But then I listened, and you know what, it’s funny.  Forget any moralizing about whether it was OK or not.  I covered that yesterday.  The only reason people are writing about it as much as they is because it’s really, really funny.

Look, I know this stuff isn’t a joke for the people involved.   It sucks that when you’re famous, there are always people around to record your lowest moments and share them with the rest of the world.  And I find the whole “comes with the territory” argument to be unfair, so I won’t try to justify why these celebrities somehow deserved this.  They didn’t.   But honestly, I’d be lying if I said that all this handwringing makes Christian Bale screaming “McG, you got something else to say to this prick?” any less hilarious.  Allow me a belabored, possibly irrelevant metaphor.

Let’s say I show you a video of someone actually slipping on a banana peel.  You would laugh, right?  Of course you would.  But then let’s say I tell you that the person, say, broke their face because of it.  In that scenario, you’re supposed to feel bad for laughing. But why?  Of course, nobody wants a broken face, but does that tragic end result really make it any less funny in the moment?  Does that invalidate the natural instinct to laugh you felt upon initially seeing the fall?  I think you know my answer to that question. 

So I’m through feeling bad for finding this stuff funny.  Don’t worry, Pat, Alec, and Christian – I’m not judging you.  OK, maybe a little, but I’ll try not to.  I’m sure you’re all nice guys.  Pat, I hear secondhand that you’re a pretty cool dad.  But, um, seriously…if that wasn’t you on that tape, you’d be laughing, right?

Christian Bale Needs Freakout Control!

February 4, 2009


Like many of you I’m sure, I heard yesterday about an audio recording that surfaced of Christian Bale throwing a tantrum on the set of Terminator: Salvation. I’ve been on sets before, and they can be very stressful for everyone, including the actors, so I figured it was probably no big deal.

Then I listened to it. You should too.

OK, so everybody loses their temper from time to time, but how many people go on a nearly four minute tirade, refusing to stop after several apologies and attempts by outside parties to intervene?  I particularly like Bale’s assault on the offending party’s “professionalism.”  And he’s right, to a point.  According to AICN, DP Shane Hurlbut (the target of the tirade)  had a habit of tweaking with the lights during filming, and had persisted with this habit despite being asked to stop nicely on several other occasions.  And yes, it’s unprofessional to be doing work during a take when an actor is trying to pull off a tough scene.  But you know what else is unprofessional?  Yelling and screaming like a baby for four minutes when the crew is ready to roll!

Oddly enough, a range of people have come out of the woodwork today to defend the outburst, from the producer of the film to  Whoopi Goldberg  for some reason.  And they make a decent case on behalf of the actor.    Acting is frustrating, sometimes you get angry and lose your cool.  In this case, it does seem like Bale had every right to be angry.  Honestly, I think he had every right to pull whatever strings he could to get the guy fired, since this clearly an issue that had been brought up before.  But dude went beyond getting angry.  Seriously, when you get angry, how much yelling do you have to do before you calm down?  I bet it’s less than four minutes’ worth.

Look, I’m sure Christian Bale is a very nice, professional guy under normal circumstances (He even managed to call Hurlbut “a nice guy” in the midst of his rant!).  He’s a very good actor and I’m sure this will all be forgotten shortly.   I’m not saying he should be tarred and feathered for this, but let’s not talk ourselves into this being OK.

Maybe Christian Bale just needs freakout control.