Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tom DiCillo

Check out this Village Voice interview with director Tom DiCillo.  I've liked this guy for a long time, but wait until you get to the last question.  Holy shit.

A Conversation with Doors' Documentary Director Tom DiCillo

Talking with the independent filmmaker on the eve ofWhen You're Strange

By Eric Hynes

published: April 06, 2010

With a résumé that stretches back 30 years, Tom DiCillo knows the highs and lows of independent filmmaking better than anyone. After serving as cinematographer on Jim Jarmusch's first two films, he made beat-inflected movies of his own, starting withJohnny Suede (1991), which showcased a young Brad Pitt, and the low-rent hit Living in Oblivion (1995), which satirized shoestring filmmaking right at the height of indie self-satisfaction. In the decade that followed, he went from promising auteur to direct-to-video afterthought—before returning with 2006's flawed but heartfelt modern fable,Delirious. His new film, the rock documentary When You're Strange (see review, right), would seem like a major departure, but DiCillo's veneration of Jim Morrison and the Doors speaks to the filmmaker's unflagging affection for idealists, bohemians, and iconoclasts. The 56-year-old free spirit talked to The Village Voice about the joy in creation, the business of selling out, and that blasted Oliver Stone movie.
Why revisit the Doors in 2010? The biggest thing that kept me awake at night was this terror of "Who am I to try to say something new, or different, about the Doors?" Ultimately, I had to treat it personally. Jim Morrison would have to exist like a lead character—that I had written. In other words, someone I would not judge, someone I would just accept and present in the most truthful way. There's a whole strata of people whose experience of the Doors is the Oliver Stone movie. I don't put it down—it's the movie that Stone wanted to make. But it's not about the Doors. It's about four guys that he kind of fantasized and fictionalized.

In the film, you describe Morrison's poetry as "symbolic and pure," and that latter word could also describe key characters in many of your films, like Michael Pitt's good-natured vagabond in Delirious, Sam Rockwell's anarchic jester in Box of Moonlight, and Steve Buscemi's filmmaker in Living in Oblivion. Why are you drawn to this notion of purity? 

Maybe that comes out of my respect for anything that is truly original. My experience is that, most of the time, original work is ignored, trampled upon, or passed over for stuff that is screaming for attention—stuff that, after a glance or two, falls apart. My heart goes out to it because I know how hard it is to try and remain pure in this business.

Is that why the idea of "selling out" still bothers you? You end the film with the words: "As of this date, none of their songs have been used in a car commercial." 

That fact remains, and it's not a judgment—it's a statement. I believe that's part of what people respond to about the Doors. Because, what the fuck, man—does everything have to be for sale? The argument from a number of people who have seen the film is that, well, Dylan's music has been used by Victoria's Secret. U2, everybody has done it. And all I can say is that's their choice. To me, I value stuff that is made because it's made. The creation of something to me is a miracle. No matter what it is. The fact that it has to be instantly for sale in order for it to be valid is something that has plagued me throughout my career.

The irony is that by not doing it for the money—by making what you want and being honest about it—you actually have to spend more time thinking about business. When younger filmmakers seek you out at festivals, what do you tell them?

Being in this business requires an ability to take a successive number of punches to the gut, a kick in the balls, a kick in the head. And just as your head clears, someone hits you in the back. So how do you tell someone, "Do you have what it takes to not only endure that, but to keep going without getting bitter or resentful?" To just accept the fact that where you are is where you are. The only thing that really matters is somehow making another movie. Because what's going to sustain you is a belief in the joy of creation. If you don't have that joy, you will crumple.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Rescue Me, The New York Times Review

When The New York Times mentions your name in print, it is therefore incumbent upon you to then put it on your blog.  Here is the quote:

Between fourth-wall-breaking jokes, the game cast, including the clever Off Off veteran Paco Tolson (“Goodbye Cruel World”), brings to life plot summaries and meta-analysis of Greek tragedy. The director, Loy Arcenas, fills the space quite nicely; attractive video clips of family trees explaining the House of Atreus and jokey TV show snippets complement the story of Iphigenia (Jennifer Ikeda), who is sacrificed to appease Artemis (David Greenspan, wearing pressed pants and a devilish smile).

I am very proud of our show and everyone in it, and all of our hard work really is doing something.
For more information on who's who working on the show or to buy tickets please visit the revamped Ma-Yi Theater website.

I also got a nice bit in's review.  You can read the whole thing here.  Below is the quote.

The ensemble is excellent. Jennifer Ikeda makes Iph a quivering bundle of opposites: vulnerable yet tough, wry yet sentimental, wise yet naive. Julian Barnett brings quiet despair to the role of Orestes. As choreographer, Barnett has created a range of poignant and joyful dances. David Greenspan is a dryly imperious Artemis/Athena. He plays these female roles without drag, wearing a shiny black suit, evoking an MC for a celestial cabaret set on Mount Olympus. Oni Monifa Renee Brown and Katherine Partington move eloquently as the dancing priestesses, while Leon Ingulsrud winkingly evokes Elvis in his role of King Thoas. Ryan King makes a sympathetic Pylades, Orestes's best friend. Paco Tolson nearly steals the show with his rapidfire switches between personas and accents as a lackey, CNN anchor, a host of witnesses being interviewed on TV, and a herdsman complete with a puppet sheep.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Rescue Me (a postmodern classic with snacks) by Michi Barall

(David Greenspan as Artemis and Jennifer Ikeda as Iphigenia, photo Brain Barenio)

Michi's show is a real triumph.

It's smartly written, it's been beautifully designed and directed, the actors and dancers are terrific.  I watch the work everyone has put in over these last arduous weeks translating into happy audiences night after night. I feel thankful to be in the company of such professional storytellers, exploring, learning with them.

There are funny moments, touching moments, dramatic exciting moments, heady philosphical moments, and they all add up to an evening of theatre that takes you somewhere.  Yes, it is post-modern.  It's in the title.  By dispensing with traditional narrative techniques, Michi actually gives a modern audience a chance to experience an ancient play without the usual stuffiness and attendant boredom.  The melange of styles and formats match the tones and themes of the individual scenes, again amounting, ultimately, to a richer experience.

Check out these two raves:

"Hungry for a Greek play that doesn't taste like ancient leftovers? Then try Michi Barall's Rescue Me (A Postmodern Classic with Snacks) at the Ohio Theatre. Barall deconstructs Euripides'sIphigenia in Tauris and reworks it into a contemporary story with popular hit music and modern dance. Under the auspices of the Ma-Yi Theater Company and directed by Loy Arcenas, it retains the flavor of fifth-century Athens but uses our present-day cultural idiom to enhance the classic."

"This winningly irreverent and loose adaptation ofIphigenia in Tauris is like seeing Euripides' tale through a funhouse mirror, a humorous, captivating novelty rather than a recognizable reflection of the original. Although its mix of anachronistic appropriation and meta-theater isn't groundbreaking -- in fact, it's arguably already a cliché of downtown theater -- the combination proves giddy and infectious. Better still, under Loy Arcenas' inventive direction, the production engages both those familiar with the source material as well as the uninitiated."