Monday, February 16, 2015

Consumption #1

My life is a mess. I don't have much these days... but I got books and films. So, although I've been working my ass off, writing some new shit and smashing out pages and pages on a new script for another director that should be up and happening mid year, I've been keeping the days roiling and boiling with just watching and reading a lot. Oh, and beer.

Because I'm not anything like Steven Soderbergh, I am gonna use this little confessional corner of the internet to make a list of consumption for the sake of clarity, openness and equal parts humiliation and curatorial signposting. I've been meaning to make January's list for ages but have been too busy/lazy. So, here it is. I imagine I'll post February's list sometime in May. I won't lie. It's been a pretty busy month of devouring.


A MOST WANTED MAN - Antón Corbjin

MOTHER - Bong Joon-Ho
HARDCORE - Paul Schrader

TAI CHI MASTER - Yuen Woo Ping
POLICE STORY 3 - Stanley Tong

13 ASSASSINS - Takashi Miike
NIGHTCRAWLER (quit watching)
IN A BETTER WORLD - Susanne Bier (repeat watch)

BIRDMAN - Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu

THE LEGO MOVIE - Phil Lord & Christopher Miller
GONE GIRL - Ben Affleck
LA DOLCE VITA - Federico Fellini

RETURN OF THE JEDI - Richard Marquand (repeat watch)
TMNT - Michael Bay (quit watching)
REVANCHE - Gotz Spielman

DUMB AND DUMBER TO - Bobby and Peter Farrelly
CAFE LUMIERE - Hou Hsiao-Hsien (repeat watch)
THREE TIMES - Hou Hsiao-Hsien (repeat watch)


THE NIGHT GARDENER - George Pelecanos
MONSIEUR PAIN - Roberto Bolaño
SEX CRIMINALS - Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky
THE SHADOW GIRLS - Henning Mankel

DARK MARKET - Misha Glenny


RAY DONOVAN - Ann Biderman - Season 01
BROOKLYN NINE NINE - Dan Goor and Michael Schur - Season 01

Intelligence #2

Cinema in this country is dumbing down. Novels in this country, with some notable exceptions, are dumbing down. Music, strangely, is doing the opposite and is becoming more intelligent and mysterious and sophisticated and the evidence is profound, that audiences are responding as they cherish and obsess and curate and promote Australian musicians who, in turn, are becoming world beaters. I'm no musician. I write imitative prose. I write screenplays. And I die to make films. So, my reminder is always to avoid the dumb shit (which I do with marginal success) and watch and listen and read those who are dizzying in their intellect and skill and ambition.

The smart ones. The crazy ones. The inventive ones. I want them to drag me along in their wake and confuse me and make me feel like I am speaking another language and that I urgently need to study and learn that beautiful, mysterious language with which they are speaking and laughing and singing.

A writer like Roberto Bolaño does that me. I read his words and reel at the intelligence and fire and wit and aggression. Yet I also know I am in the hands of someone who is trying to nurture me with the brilliance of their own insight and knowledge. Something the rest of us can only dream of and, more importantly, aspire to. Filmmakers like Claire Denis and Nuri Bilge Ceylan do that to me. The mystery of their images, rhythms and narratives makes me surrender my laziness in listening and open my senses, pores and unconscious to another way of seeing.

These are celebrated names yet a wise filmmaker in Australia never mentions names like these when looking for support or financing. A wise filmmaker mentions the populists or the pragmatic ideologues. But why? Populism has become a violent dogma in our art and politics. Yet populism, having conservatism at it's core, diminishes us. Stories, art, words (as with dance and song) have sustained us since forever with their ability to guide us and provide us with transcendence. Yet, they are not expected to be a fleeting experience. With mystery and intelligence and riddles within riddles at their core, they are designed to be retold, reread, reviewed, rethought over and over. The populists demand neatness, explicitness, resolution, clarity. All things which allow us to watch, forget and never learn. Why? Because the populists live off the culture of consumption. A film is just another product. Why are so many filmmakers now straddling advertising and filmmaking. Yes, you make a living. But it's more sinister than that. The filmmakers are no longer having to disappear into bravery, audacity and adventure. They no longer bring stories back from the brink. They sell us stories already told. And, for me, I could care less. Our films now sells us values just as ads sell us products. The films I watch that sell the inflated myth of Australian hypermasculinity or anglo mateship or feminine romanticism are just as much bullshit and fiction as an ad that sells me a deodorant the use of which will wash me like an ocean wave.

It's not that I wasn't made for these times. I don't harken back to any glory days of cinema, as much as I might cherish films of those eras. I am more excited by the speed with which words, images, rhythms, wit and intelligence are used, recycled and reused in contemporary times. Yet, the populist dogmatics (most easily identified as those who can recite certain books of 'how to write a screenplay' but also disguised in the form of many more apparently forward thinking filmmakers with a dark heart of fear of failure or commercial (!) irrelevance lurking beneath the skin) don't see the sinister and retrogressive conservatism that lies at the heart of their desire to push a 'way of telling'. They don't see that this anti-intellectualism, this fear of the new, is just as phony and dangerous as that espoused by the maniac conservatives running our country. There should no longer be a way of telling. These should be set free. The dogmatics talk lies. They are nostalgics afraid to let stories embody the recklessness and progressiveness of youth, the intelligence of the young women and men beating down the doors of the ways we speak and think and the implicit violence that lies at their heart. They should be run out of the institutions and off the film sets. Let them face the insecurity of those others who have no choice but to find a new way to speak because, outside of the institutions and off the sets, the language of life is changing and accelerating all the time. All the time.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Intelligence #1

reblog from Biblioklept

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Touchstones #3

Touchstones #2

Touchstones #1

Lost #6

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Lost #5

“Poetry is what happens when nothing else can.” 
Charles Bukowski

Monday, January 19, 2015

Lost #4

“Where you come from is gone, where you thought you were going to never was there, and where you are is no good unless you can get away from it”
pic: Boogie
words: Flannery O'Connor 'Wise Blood'

Lost #3

Lost #2

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Lost #1

Monday, December 1, 2014

Here We Are #3

After many months of doing the rounds of releasing a film, preparing DVD releases, becoming enmeshed in the relative horrors of distribution and exhibition, tangling with release events, social media promotion and, step by step, losing the shine and inspiration of all the amazing people who bleed to make your film as you fall into step with the cynics and misery-peddlers who sit around at the end; after all this, it's easy to forget the bliss of shooting.

A couple of months back, we filled my brother's van with a bunch of friends whose abilities traversed acting, cinematography and production design and, for three days, we hooned around town and shot this clip on the sly for an old and inspiring friend, Joelistics. These were the people with whom there exists an easy shorthand and where the ability to create something ephemeral and difficult to articulate is possible because there exists a shared sensibility and understanding of what we're all reaching for.

The last story I told with this crew and these actors was one of a love destroyed just at the instant that it happened, so it felt right to create a story that is more like those loves that we experience; one of duration and hardship, or one where the love takes a different, albeit more wary form, after heartache, disappointment or deception; but one where there still exists tenderness and beauty and moments of levity. 

There are moments in here - the woman played by Lily Sullivan, casting her eyes back over her shoulder as she walks down a rainy street, or the man, played by Aliki Matangi looking up to the apartment where he knows his future might lie - that make me as proud as anything I've been involved in. This seems, after Small Mercies and Galore, like a footnote of heartbreak with, at last, more hope than hurt.


A Long Absence, Dawn

Saturday, October 4, 2014


 "You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive."
James Baldwin

 image: Stephen Somerstein 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Here We Are #2

Here We Are #1

Many months deep in writing and reading. A few of those spent lost and wandering. Evidence is lacking. Few photos, even fewer notes. The time was spent spinning out a few half written projects, polishing a few finished projects lost in stasis, and starting out a few that existed only in fragments or echoes. So, here we are.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Hold On To It

The best advice I can offer to those heading into the world of film is not to wait for the system to finance your projects and for others to decide your fate. If you can’t afford to make a million-dollar film, raise $10,000 and produce it yourself. That’s all you need to make a feature film these days. Beware of useless, bottom-rung secretarial jobs in film-production companies. Instead, so long as you are able-bodied, head out to where the real world is. Roll up your sleeves and work as a bouncer in a sex club or a warden in a lunatic asylum or a machine operator in a slaughterhouse. Drive a taxi for six months and you’ll have enough money to make a film. Walk on foot, learn languages and a craft or trade that has nothing to do with cinema. Filmmaking — like great literature — must have experience of life at its foundation. Read Conrad or Hemingway and you can tell how much real life is in those books. A lot of what you see in my films isn’t invention; it’s very much life itself, my own life. If you have an image in your head, hold on to it because — as remote as it might seem — at some point you might be able to use it in a film. I have always sought to transform my own experiences and fantasies into cinema.
Werner Herzog from "A Guide For The Perplexed"

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Secrets of Shadows

“Whenever I see the alcove of a tastefully built Japanese room, I marvel at our comprehension of the secrets of shadows, our sensitive use of shadow and light. For the beauty of the alcove is not the work of some clever device. An empty space is marked off with plain wood and plain walls, so that the light drawn into its forms dim shadows within emptiness. There is nothing more. And yet, when we gaze into the darkness that gathers behind the crossbeam, around the flower vase, beneath the shelves, though we know perfectly well it is mere shadow, we are overcome with the feeling that in this small corner of the atmosphere there reigns complete and utter silence; that here in the darkness immutable tranquility holds sway.”

Junichiro Tanizaki, 'In Praise of Shadows'
Find beauty not only in the thing itself but in the pattern of the shadows, the light and dark which that thing provides.
Find beauty not only in the thing itself but in the pattern of the shadows, the light and dark which that thing provides.
Find beauty not only in the thing itself but in the pattern of the shadows, the light and dark which that thing provides.

Hillside #2

On a hillside in Barcelona with actor Lily Sullivan... Galore hardcore.

Hillside #1

On a hillside in Ainslie, with this one, actor Ashleigh Cummings, who is about to go through the wringer with me on the Australian release of our flick Galore.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Time Unfolds Us: Palenque. Day.

"Have the figurines and books that I lost over the years dissolved into the air of Mexico City? Have they become the ash that blows through the city from north to south and from east to west? Perhaps. The dark night of the soul advances through the streets of Mexico City sweeping all before it. And now it is rare to hear singing, where once everything was a song. The dust cloud reduces everything to dust. First the poets, then love, then, when it seems to be sated and about to disperse, the cloud returns to hang high over your city or your mind, with a mysterious air that means it has no intention of moving.” 

Roberto Bolaño, Amulet

Time Unfolds Us: San Cristobal de la Casas