30 November 2007

Ebert on Tom DiCillo as unsung indie icon

Roger Ebert writes a long piece today about how he believes writer-director Tom DiCillo, did not get a fair shake from audiences. "You have not seen ["Delirious"] You couldn't have, unless you were one of the few customers who contributed to its depressing $200,000 total national gross. It got enthusiastic reviews from both trade papers, the New York Times, Salon, the New Yorker and so on, but then it disappeared. It was written and directed by a legend in the indie film world, Tom DiCillo, who has made other movies I've liked ("Living in Oblivion," "Box of Moonlight," "The Real Blonde"). Yet it opened in two theaters in New York and Los Angeles, was supported by pitiful near-zero advertising, went to one theater in each city after a week, had brief one-theater runs here and there (in Chicago, at the Music Box), and disappeared. It did have the distinction of inspiring a review by Ray Pride of New City Chicago that reads like ol' Ray overdosed on Mean Pills. To criticize the great Buscemi for having skinny legs that look bad in black socks is over-reaching, I would say. I've never met DiCillo, but after the disappointing release of his movie I got an e-mail from him. "To give you some indication of how disoriented I feel at the moment," he wrote, "I am getting no real, tangible feedback from anyone. And so I'm kind of struggling on my own to make sense of how a film I put my soul into, that Buscemi put his soul into, a film that generated such strong, positive reviews, had no life in the market." [From the review referenced by Ebert: "Badly written with dreadful, aimless performances, "Delirious" is unattractive from almost every perspective, from costumes to hair to simple framing. Buscemi, looking ill and in his sixties, especially with stringy hair dyed black, is uncommonly aggravating as a delusional chatterbox, blurting nonsense and non sequiturs... (It’s hard to shake the shots of Buscemi displaying black socks beneath spindly milk-pale calves.) The character’s not only a cockroach, but also a dreary, deadly dull one, and the turn toward attempted murder in the story is unfathomable. "Retarded" and "fuckin’ retarded" are the most consistent words out of Les’ mouth, unless you include his relentless, skittish, insistent homophobia. Buscemi’s husk of a character is so empty he wouldn’t have a pulse in real life. "Delirious" bumps into things like a newly blind cat. If the movie had followed the soul of Les to its logical conclusion, it would have been the story of a suicide. (I would have liked that movie, especially if he died quickly and brutally.)"

David Carr says Roger Ebert says...

From this morning's NY Times, passed without comment: Ebert Keeps an Eye on the Future
"As a consumer, the Bagger has never been a big Roger Ebert fan. His tendency to go so deep into the tank for a film that he risks getting the bends when he returns to the surface always seemed excessive. But sitting near the stage the other night at the Gothams, the Bagger watched him take what could have been a forlorn turn during a tribute and turn it into yet another triumph. With his voice stilled by illness and a broken vocal synthesizer, Mr. Ebert could only stand by as his wife read his remarks. But he was clearly thrilled, enjoyed every second of it, and demonstrated that life on life’s terms can be both brutal and beautiful. Everyone gets sick, everyone takes knocks, but a lot of it is about how you conduct yourself when it is your turn in the barrel. Movie City News took the occasion to ask Mr. Ebert — whose keyboard is anything but silent — ten questions, among them, one about the growing robustness of film criticism on the web: There are better and worse critics. Always have been. The difference is the internet. Now we all swim in the same sea. Look at the success of Berardinelli or JoBlo, or the Salon and Slate critics. All generated not by marketing but by ability. Look at Jim Emerson. Look at David Bordwell, brilliant academic, brilliant blogger. Look at you, and the other critics at your site — although was Ray Pride (who I admire) frothing at the mouth when he reviewed Delirious? What DID get into him? A few years ago, Mr. Ebert demonstrated muscle and vision in pushing “Crash” at a time when everyone thought it was an also-ran, and he doesn’t look like he’s going to be letting up any time soon."

29 November 2007

Rudy Giuliani is a kind, modest, honest man

"As New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani billed obscure city agencies for tens of thousands of dollars in security expenses amassed during the time when he was beginning an extramarital relationship with future wife Judith Nathan in the Hamptons, according to previously undisclosed government records. The documents, obtained by Politico under New York’s Freedom of Information Law, show that the mayoral costs had nothing to do with the functions of the little-known city offices that defrayed his tabs, including agencies responsible for regulating loft apartments, aiding the disabled and providing lawyers for indigent defendants. At the time, the mayor’s office refused to explain the accounting to city auditors, citing “security.” The Hamptons visits resulted in hotel, gas and other costs for Giuliani’s New York Police Department security detail."

Equally Strongly Both Ways

22 November 2007

12 Toes


21 November 2007

Diego Luna on why Mexico's better for him than L.A.

From a masterclass at the 48th Thessaloniki International Film Festival. In a while, the longer interview we had afterwards.

20 November 2007

Alfonso Cuaron on controlling his career

From a masterclass at the Thessaloniki International Film Festival.

09 November 2007


Originally uploaded by raypride

05 November 2007

04 November 2007

Endless summer

THE HANGOVER OF THE TENTH OR SO "last weekend of the summer" in a row, Daylight Savings persists a week more, like the behaviors of a solstice summoned that now will not go. Monday's light is thin but staunch: global weather displacement makes Chicago seem temperate when ice ought to have frosted the get-ups and gewgaws of Saturday night's Halloweeners, the grown-ups not yet grown-up enough to realize that every day is costume day, and the buffo buffoonery of cartoonish garb leading to the thirty-first is less an externalization of inner self than how you're cloaked each day at work and play. Bars and parties overlap, texts and rumors prompt movement like a Blue Line train with slow zones and delays at rush hour. Recurring characterless: Santo, the masked wrestler, holds court in a beautiful 1940s-cut suit. A brunette always proud of her legs makes an alarming French maid, layers of black exposing flickers of flesh. Plushies pounce on furries. A small, gorgeous woman makes an alarming Girl Scout, even with a purloined Darth Vader helmet. A man in a Blue Man skullcap passes cards, "Tobias Fünke, Analrapist." But "Arrested Development" is trumped by the towering, corrupt, rotting clown face that looms over a brown shirt with a 1940s high fade on the sides and a mustache distinctly not Charlie Chaplin's. There's discomfort close to this stray Hitler, but nearby, a pair of Obi-Wans in dun cloaks, like escapees from a Kevin Smith sketch, cross light sabers, the red one bright, the blue one spent. It's no battle. Hitler, shunned, scowls.

03 November 2007

Frugal Chicago, per the New York Times (2007-11-04)

"From there, John and I walked up Division Street to the Rainbo Club, a noisy hall packed with young people, their hair in careful disarray. Dimness dominated, except for spotlighted faux-naive paintings of cowboy-hatted oilmen, and every song sounded like the White Stripes - all guitars and drums! We ordered Ebel's Weiss, a local [Warrenville, Illinois] brew ($4.50 a pint), snagged a booth and randomly chatted up Whitney and Olga, hip women who turned out to be on a road trip - from New York!"


02 November 2007

Mac, Julie

D'ego twinz.


An inadvertent comment on the malign neglect of the infrastructure of a once-great city, ruined at the end of the first Mayor-For-Life's reign and sustained through the fumbling of the second Mare-For-LIfe.