Thursday, September 9, 2010

Lonely Leela

Dear friend Rehana Mirza's multimedia play Lonely Leela is getting a showcase through New Georges next week and we had our first rehearsal today.  It's an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland/Alice Through the Looking Glass and it's mostly set within the fantastical world of the internet wherein the inhabitants are all puppets designed by Spica Webb.  Today was mostly getting to know what you can do with her puppets and how to best facilitate a wide range of expression.  There are finger puppets, hand puppets, sock puppets and rod puppets, each with different demands on the actor.  They mainly have gigantic eyes and hilarious tufts of hair.  The script is wild and deals with a ton of unexpected actions from the characters and I kid you not, every spare moment I had I was trying to get one of them to look like they were riding a segway as called for in the text.

I think challenge-based productions are a ton of fun and necessitate new ideas, bringing out the best creativity juices.  Very excited.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Some Summer Things

A few things that blew my mind this summer.

1.  Conor McPherson's film The Eclipse starring Ciaran Hinds, Aidan Quinn, Jim Norton and Iben Hjejle.  This has all the trappings of a supernatural story (McPherson's white whale and perpetual theme of his plays) and has three moments that scared me more than any movie I've seen in years, but it's really about the complicated relationship between three writers over the course of a literary festival in Ireland.  Ghost story, yes, but it's mostly an intimate, meditative film with a European pace.  The acting and writing are off the charts.  This is something I saw late at night while Kate was sleeping, and a few times I was sure I woke her up because I screamed out loud.  That's right, I said it.

2.  Justin Cronin's novel The Passage.  This is still in hardcover and can be found at bigger retailers where people sit in the aisles all day and it is at these places that I have been reading the shit out of it for free just like I did with Stephen King's mostly excellent Under the Dome.  I'm not even done (it's about 500 pages), but I don't care, it's that good.  It's going in.  I feel like I looked into this book based on the jacket reviews from other writers (including King) not knowing anything about it and was rewarded handsomely so I won't tell too much, but it's a showcase of what it means to be entertained as you read.  In the same way that Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves is a reading experience, Cronin has thought of everything and uses a wide array of narrative devices to keep things engaging.  Don't want it to end.  The only thing is that it is apparently a first novel in an upcoming trilogy and the groundwork-laying for the coming volumes is fairly obvious.  I got through 200 pages and was like, "You're sure taking your sweet time with this character introduction," you know what I mean?  Still amazing. Light years better than Guillermo del Toro's The Strain which is, at bottom, the same story.

3.  Antichrist by Lars von Trier starring Willem Defoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg.  I saw this late at night, too.  This is classic von Trier. Pompous, gorgeous, sublimated fear of women.  I am still really confused by it and by the things I saw take place, but it is highly polarizing by design.  Cannes audiences loved or hated it, with people walking out and exclaiming things.  People from every side are up in arms over some of the things that take place, and that of course is the point.  He's a provocateur.  It's pretty innovative cinematographically, writing and story aside, and it's almost worth it for that.  Not for the squeamish or those without a sense of humor as black as night.

Was very disappointed to not be able to see much theater this summer although Kate had two award-winning productions at the Looking Glass.

I also had the pleasure of working with her on some of the most enlightening short film work I've done.  We wrapped The Diary Thief with the help of so many friends after shooting in every far off corner of the city with basically no crew during the worst heat wave I've ever had in New York.  I am actually sitting here sweating my face off as I write this since it's still blazing outside.

Tzipora Kaplan, also of Kate's production company See Films, directed a music video I was in at her office and it was a ton of fun.  No pics yet.  It'll premiere with a slew of other original music videos on my birthday at Bar13 near NYU.

Just trying to get as much camera time in before LA.