But what I really want to do is Direct: Sure, you know I'm a painter, guitar player, singer/songwriter, photographer, print maker, ceramacist and blogger, but like everyone in LA my true love is the cinema. I started making movies at UCSB, and in graduate school I was the TA for video classes where I made several short films. Now, through the miracle of Digital Video technology, I am able to share some of my creations on the web. My first selection is a movie from 1994 called Critical Discourse. It's a surreal tale about a critic making a "studio visit" for an artist critique, as is common in any art school. Some have suggested that perhaps it reflects some of my frustration with the postmodern cannon and the elevation of high concept over practice and emotion in art: you be the judge. It stars the great John Davis, "gruesome" Rich Yusim, and myself, all by this time grizzled veterans of many Greg McIlvaine films. Screenplay, music, and editing were done by me too. Warning: It contains violence, but no blood or really bad words. Also, the dialogue is a bit muddy, so you might want to turn the volume up. So grab some mini popcorn and get ready, cause here it is in tiny Real Video: Critical Discourse
posted by Greg 12:55 PM
The Informer (1935) - Good Good Good Good Good - Dir. John Ford - This is one of Ford's greatest films, a tragic masterpiece whose deep shadows and silvery highlights reflect the influence of the German Expressionist film movement. It tells the story of Gippo Nolan, a down on his luck Irishman who, in desperation, betrays his IRA friend and suffers the consequences, both from the outside and even more from the guilt he feels. Ford's mastery of cinematic story telling is everywhere on display here: Though not a word of dialog is spoken in the first three minutes, he manages to introduce several characters and their relationships using only framing, camera movement, and music. This movie won the Academy Awards for best actor, best screenplay, best music, and best director, and was nominated for best picture. Ford is known as a director of Westerns, but he was a proud Irish immigrant and won 3 of his 5 best director Oscars for Irish themed films: The Informer, How Green Was my Valley, and The Quiet Man (The other two were for The Grapes of Wrath and Stagecoach.) This was probably the fourth time I've seen this film, and still it grabbed me from the first frame and kept me riveted.
Orange County (2001) - Bad - This bad film was brought up from three bad's to one by the late appearance of Kevin Kline and a sweet (as in nice, cute) ending. Jack Black is funny but he's not in it very much. Hey, it was a free rental, what can I say?
posted by Greg 12:36 PM
Molli snuck me into her pottery class last night. Pottery is not my bag, baby, but I had a lot of fun playing with the materials and the time flew by. One of her teachers is Frank Romero, a well-known LA artist who was part of a Chicano muralists group in the 70's called Los Four. He did this mural you may recognize from the 101 freeway called "Going to the Olympics" for the Olympics in 1984:
Him and the other teacher Sharon were nice and have some very cool work up at their studio/classroom. Molli is cranking out some excellent pottery, including the green cactus pot in the picture bellow:
Besides being a drummer, dj, mc, and a known funnyman, Jon Fojtik (pronounced foy-teck, or foy-tick or something) is a prolific writer of fiction and non-fiction. With this in mind I encouraged him to start his own blog in order to share his observations with an interested public. He's really taken to it, so check it out! PS: bonus points for finding the hidden Tony Pierce reference.
posted by Greg 1:00 PM
Art marches on: Above is an example of a new art form, whereby the artists use a series of GPS coordinates to trace their movements through space and create a line drawing. Check out the website for some other cool examples and directions on how to do it.
posted by Greg 12:51 PM
Saturday, June 22, 2002
In the CD player: Alice - Tom Waits - awesome Yankee Hotel Foxtrot - Wilco - good, but depressing Testament - The Complete Slash Recordings - The Blasters - Awe Inspiring Best of Django - Django Reinhardt - Django is the best Fear the Penguin - Psoma - Very cool! Love and Theft - Bob Dylan - A masterpiece The Humbler - Robert Gordon and Danny Gatton - Guitarists, prepare to be humbled Alone with his Guitar - Hank Williams - A voice that could melt the hardest heart First Album - Townes Van Zandt - Get's better every listen Various - John Prine - Makes you laugh and cry in one song
On the nightstand: Conspiricy by Daniel Pipes - Debunks many conspiracy theories and tries to explain the psychology and sociology behind their popularity and endurance.
posted by Greg 3:35 PM
Minority Report (2002) - Good Good Good - This is an exciting and interesting sci-fi movie based on a Phillip K. Dick story and directed by Steven Speilberg. Even at 144 minutes it holds your interest and provides enough plot twists so that you never quite know how it's going to turn out. We saw the first showing at the Vista yesterday. It's a strange movie in that the general atmosphere of sterility and tension is periodically pierced by wacky humour. In this way it retains the feel of Dick's writing. I like Phillip K. Dick's books a lot with a few reservations. He's very original and inventive and is good at showing a future in which technology has not meant the loss of humanity: his characters are flawed and ideosyncratic just like real people, and their motivations are familiar to all humans. One thing that bothers me about Dick is that there is an unhealthy paranoia running through his work. This is explained by the fact that he wrote most of his work while a methamphetamine addict. I also find that his books start out strong but have weak endings, like he lost his inspiration in the act of turning the idea into a novel. His short stories don't suffer from this problem for obvious reasons. Minority Report manages to end strongly and avoids giving the audience the moral clubbing that we recieved from A.I. Morality and motivation are important for the story, but in the tradition of Dick's writing they are left more ambiguous that one expects from a Speilberg film. This movie could have easily gotten four goods if Tom Cruise wasn't in it. And the product placement provoked unplanned snickers from the audience and pulled us back from the future world in an annoying way.
posted by Greg 1:30 PM
I've been enjoying this new Tom Waits album called "Alice" quite a bit. It's got everything you'd want from a Waits album: haunting sax, Mark Ribot guitar lines, brushed snare atmosphere, husky vocals and sublime poetry. This CD is based on an opera based on a play about writer Lewis Caroll's obsession with the young Alice, and the theme of living in a fantasy world with a sinister/innocent edge runs loosely through many of the songs. They range from the spooky (Poor Edward) to the ecstatic (Table Top Joe) and are all engaging. There's even a song with pretend German lyrics (Kommienezuspadt). Here's a sample lyric from Poor Edward: Did you hear the news about Edward? On the back of his head he had another face Was it a woman's face or a young girl? They said to remove it would kill him So poor Edward was doomed I've been listening to this one loud down in the garage and it's really great. I also got Wait's other new one, "Blood Money," which is good too, but Alice is the one that grabbed me. You can download the whole first song, "Alice," from this page. Try it, you'll like it.
The Bourne Identity (2002) - Eh - I have no idea how this movie got 83% on the tomato meter. It's another in the endless stream of movies where the action scenes are good but the rest of the movie falls flat. An promising premise gets tripped up in the forced sentimentality and unbeliveability of the rest of the film. I wanted to like it, and my expectations were not too high, but the dialouge had us snickering and some logical holes were just too big to ignore. The helicopter shots of various european cities were nice though.
posted by Greg 11:25 AM
My Dad's the best. He's always been supportive, loving and encouraging, and it's helped me tremendously. He's kind and funny and everyone loves him. Some new dads are nervous that they will be the kind of fathers that their father were, but for me it's the opposite: I'm nervous that I won't be as good a father as he is. If I do succeed, it'll be because I had a great teacher and role model. Happy father's day, dad. Love Greg
Not Another Teen Movie (2002) - Good Good Good Good - In the grand tradition of Airplane! this is a broad satire of several generations of teen movies. Set at John Hughes High School with many scenes taking place in Anthony Michael Hall, it has a lot of fun with the genre. My favorite part was when the kid whizzed by on his BMX bike yelling out, "Two Dollars!"
posted by Greg 3:32 PM
Wednesday, June 05, 2002
In looking over my logs I've noticed that since 9/11 people are very interested in Machiavelli. I've had this painting I did of him up for a long time, and letely it's been getting a lot of hits. Of course, I spelled his name wrong in the page title, so when you enter the improperly spelled "machievelli" into google I'm the third page that comes up. Still, it means people are interested in his political philosophy. I'd say that's a sign o' the times. (That's a Prince reference. Machiavelli wrote The Prince.) I wonder if my painting of Eric Hoffer will get as many hits? Maybe if I spell his name wrong.....
posted by Greg 10:56 AM
Spy Game (2001) - Good - In a quasi-realistic movie like this, when things happen which are implausable it really detracts from the impact. There are some good bits, but as a whole the movie falls apart.
posted by Greg 10:23 AM
Attack! (1956) - Rating: eh - OK, this movie has an exclamation point in the title and stars Jack Palance and Lee Marvin, I figured it had to be good. Alas, it was just eh. This is another case of a movie that was made from a play and just doesn't really work as a movie. In plays the action usually happens off stage, and here it happens off screen. Instead of showing us stuff, they just talk and talk about it. The story is interesting, about a timid commander and the GI's who suffer and die because of it before one of them decides to take revenge. There is one great scene in which Palance gets his arm caught under a German tank as the Germans are coming and has to decide if he should chop his arm off or get captured. But this film never got up enough steam to really engage me.
posted by Greg 2:07 PM
Monday, June 03, 2002
The above painting by Delacroix is up for auction June 20th in London.
posted by Greg 10:03 AM
The Whole Town's Talking (1935) dir. John Ford - Good Good Good Good. Edward G. Robinson delivers an acting tour de force, playing both a mild mannered clerk who looks exactly like a gangland murderer, and the gangster himself, often at the same time! Various split screen effects are used to have them both in the same scene, which seems remarkable for 1935. It's a funny situation which remains unpredictable until the end.
The Wings of Eagles (1957) dir. John Ford starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara - Good Good. This is pretty un-inspiring for John Ford, but still better than most hacks. It's a biopic in which Wayne plays Stig Weed, a Navy man credited with starting the Naval Flying program who turns to writing screenplays after being crippled falling down some stairs. The best part is Ward Bond's portrayal of a movie director based on John Ford himself.
Star Wars Episode II (2002) - Good Good - The two good's are for the special effects. The audience groaned at the love scenes, which is not a good sign, but the action scenes offered some redemption and got the crowd cheering. Why not hold on some of those amazing matte shots of the various planets and stuff? Plus there was not enough of the science that makes science fiction so much fun.
Spiderman (2002) - Good Good Good - I guess I didn't like it as much as some people. Perhaps this is because I was never that in to Spiderman and didn't already know who the supporting characters were. Sam Raimi's filmmaking style is great though and was the best part of this film.
Ali (2001) - Bad - I didn't like it. The story is interesting, but the stylization of the filmmaking was distracting. The director has seen too many Oliver Stone movies.
Ocean's Eleven (2001) - Good Good Good - I had very low expectations for this movie, but it turned out to be a lot of fun. With the ensemble cast, no one is in it enough to ruin it, even Julia Roberts. The pace is fast like in old movies.
Bandits (2001)- Good Good Good - This movie was a lot better than I thought it would be. Billy Bob is great and the story kept my interest.
Behind Enemy Lines (2001)- Bad Bad - Who can believe Owen Wilson as a serious Navy pilot action hero after his roles in Zoolander and The Royal Tenenbaums? Not me.
Austin Powers: The Spy who Shagged Me (1999) - Good Good Good Good Good - A perfect rating! Just watched this again for about the 7th time, and it did not disappoint. To me, this is a classic up there with Airplane!, Naked Gun, and Top Secret.
Heartbreakers (2001) - Bad Bad Bad - The only thing that kept this tiresome fiasco from being 5 bad was Gene Hackman's performance.
PS: Don't miss Mike Randall's European Tour Diary. He's over there playing guitar for the new incarnation of Arthur Lee's Love. He's a great writer and his diary is a lot of fun. I also like it because, like me, he's not afraid of using creative spelling.
PPS: I knew my hometown of Manhattan Beach was rich, but I never knew about the pirate booty!
posted by Greg 1:46 PM