Sunday, December 30, 2007

On Tim Burton and Post-Holiday Anxiety

The two things in the title of this post are unrelated, so I'll address them separately.

On Tim Burton: many of my friends will tell you that I'm an unabashed Tim Burton fan. I always have been. I love how brash and bold his work is. Even when it isn't wholly successful, it's dynamic and interesting and visually stunning (an overused phrase, but perfectly suitable to this particular artist). Edward Scissorhands is a beautiful film, perfect in its small scope. I could go on about many of his other films, but after seeing Sweeney Todd this weekend, I keep coming back to how impressive Tim Burton's films are as a body of work. Again, not perfect, and the past few years are littered with some high profile "misses" (i.e., Planet of the Apes). But, overall, that's a career I'd love to have. It's just so highly individualistic -- love him or hate him, you always know when you're watching a Tim Burton film (or a Terry Gilliam film, or a Martin Scorsese film). That's some thing to strive for. It makes me feel more secure in my desire to not waste time trying to make films that will somehow build some sort of credibility for me with decision-makers. I'd rather stay true to my purpose and make films that are somehow uniquely mine.

On Post-Holiday Anxiety: now that New Years Day is upon us, I am weeks away from starting to hear back from film festivals regarding Clean Freak. I'm not nearly as anxious about Clean Freak as I was about American Messiah, but if I get rejected by the first dozen film festivals, I may adjust the anxiety level a bit. My point is just that, now that the new year has rolled around, the thing I was able to put off thinking about is no longer in the back of my mind but has moved to the front.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Sweeney Todd, again

I'm not sure what it was about Sweeney Todd, but it really worked for me. Part of it, I admit, is that I went into it prepared to like it because I'm a big Tim Burton fan. But I wasn't sure would like the music -- I don't love Broadway musicals, and I had never heard the Sweeney Todd music before.

Well, the music was great -- dark and melodic, soaring in places, but always in keeping with the dark tone of the story. But the music is only one piece (and Johnny Depp's singing was, in my opinion, better than advertised).

The classic Tim Burton visuals, which are always so over-the-top (which never bothers me), are in perfect harmony with the story. Really, it's a classic case of director and material matching up perfectly. Burton is all about dark comedy, and this is comedy at its blackest -- the song "A Little Priest" exemplifies that so well (it's all about how Mrs. Lovett's meat pies would taste with various people inside them).

The bloodletting is completely ridiculous -- in a good way. But the gore isn't off-putting (to me, anyway). Blood spurts and squirts in massive amounts, and it becomes comical after a while (dark, but comical), until the end, when things take a massive dramatic turn, and the gore gets more pronounced.

I don't want to spoil things for anyone who might be planning to see it, but the images, especially the final one, are incredibly powerful. They are, ultimately, a superb envisioning of a man driven mad by revenge.

I'll have more thoughts on this soon, I think. I can't get parts of this film out of my mind, so I think I'll be coming back to it (and I downloaded the soundtrack from iTunes just now, too)...

Sweeney Todd

Saw Sweeney Todd today with my dad. Wow. Really. More later, but just this for now: I loved it.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and a Blessed Holiday to you and yours. And may it last throughout the year...

Friday, December 21, 2007

Building a Better Gingerbread House

Okay, so it's my first time. I have NEVER built a gingerbread house. Well, my wife bought a kit (heck, I'm not doing this from scratch), and me and the rugrats set out to construct ourselves a winter home.

You can see the results below. And, yes, I'm a bit proud. Honestly, when I started out with this, I was concerned that I wouldn't even get the walls to stand up. For the record, I was largely responsibly for the application of frosting, and the kids handled all candy decorations -- a nice division of labor, I think.

Picture 1 - Front View:

The big round candies are wreaths (we didn't have green ones).

Picture 2 - Back and Side:

The back windows are a little cluttered with candies, I admit, but that's the way the kids wanted it.

Picture 3 - Side View:

Check out the detail on that roofing!

Yeah, the frosting isn't too precisely applied, but the main thing was that we had a blast doing it. The kids loved every moment (not counting when they were fighting for access to the gingerbread house). And so did I.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Movie Disappointment

I really love movies. All kinds of movies. I'm partial lately to smaller indie fare, and I think part of the reason is that they often tend to live up to their hype a little better than studio films (which are sometimes nothing but hype). But because I love movies of all sorts, it always disappoints me when a good idea is executed poorly.

The latest potential example is I Am Legend. I was pretty jazzed about seeing it, as it seems like one of those tour de force performance films that has the potential to be pretty unique. You know -- it features one pretty good actor all by himself for long stretches, a la Tom Hanks in Cast Away.

But then a friend told me that it really doesn't live up to the hype, and that it is, in fact, a bit if a letdown. Well. That really bugs me. Because I want to really love it, but I know now that I probably won't.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Posting Frequency

I'm usually a BIT better about posting regularly, but as the fall semester just concluded, it's been a bit crazy. Lots of grading last week, and I always spend the last few days before break working on the next semester's syllabi. Designing a class (or updating one) is a creative activity, and perhaps the end of the semester isn't the best time for such a thing, but I really do like to get a jump on things.

In any case, it's Monday, and I'm more or less officially on break. Couldn't have come a moment too soon, because I woke up rather sick today. I think my body has a tendency to simply "hold off" any illness until I can rest a bit. Of course, I still have some Christmas shopping to do, so it's not like I'm ready to sit around and do nothing.

The other reason I haven't posted lately is that I haven't had a whole lot to say. CLEAN FREAK is out to a bunch of festivals, but I won't hear from any of those until mid-January at the earliest. ENDINGS preproduction is underway, but it won't really get going in earnest until the start of the spring semester. So Im trying to do something I always struggle with -- relax and enjoy some family time. I too often find myself anxious for "what's next" and not able to enjoy the here-and-now.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Official Clean Freak site (sort of)

Well, as people are starting to hear about CLEAN FREAK, I've been starting to feel like the film needs its own page. So I set one up over at my domain. The link is a little unwieldy right now (I need to buy the film its own domain name, but I'm going to wait until I'm ready to do something with it), and the site is a little generic, but I'll go ahead and link to it: The Official CLEAN FREAK site (for now).