I will soon update this website with recent progress made on the filmmaking front. Here's a summary:- It's Not You: synopsis, cast and stills for a comedy short film I recently directed, conceived on marrying a layered script with improvisation. It was nominated to the Kodak Scholarship Film Program 2012 (Filmmaker Branch) and screened at the BAFTAs during the University of Westminster's showcase slot. - The Deal Master: an advertisement for a book created in the form of a movie trailer. I directed it and co-wrote it with the novel's author. It was produced by Rare View Films and was shot in New York City in July. The crew was professional, and we shot with the Arri Alexa. I edited late July, and recently completed grading in Paris. The release is slated around Halloween 2012. It was a very enriching stylistic exercise, and my first foray into expressionistic, neo-noir territory. Check out the page administered by the novelist himself, Gerard Bianco, over at: https://www.facebook.com/thedealmastermovie- Shoot The Director: a mockumentary, comedy web project about... filmmakers! I always loved film about films, and had the idea to make a series of very short fake movie shows, in which each time an outlandish, fictional director is interviewed. Each of those directors is from a different nationality and we shot a test pilot centering on... a French auteur. It respectfully pokes fun at the traits commonly associated with the French New Wave. I partnered with a friend to mount the production, which I co-wrote and co-directed. Despite my poor acting skills, I took on the role of the French auteur, mainly because I really wanted to become a French New Wave director for a day :) The product is currently in post-production - and will be online soon. More will follow.- The Earth Effect: A new short film I wrote/directed, born of a desire to tell a one-location story, with a man and a woman, under five minutes. Completion underway, online soon.
And on the film-writing front:
- Double Exposure: I'm still writing for Columbia U's Double Exposure, and we've recently launched our brand-new, rebooted website: http://www.doubleexposurejournal.com
-- I've got new pieces coming out in Issue 3, including an in-depth conversation with screenwriter Bo Goldman (One Flew Over A Cuckoo's Nest, Scent of a Woman). As part of DE's development, founders and editors-in-chief David Beal and Max Nelson created the concept of a new column: The Movie Scholar Project. Concisely, it's an experience in film criticism that creates co-written pieces - in the form of exchanges - between a film historian or critic and a DE's contributor. I had the honor to exchange with Michael Henry Wilson (http://www.michaelhenrywilson.com) - a renowned and established film historian and filmmaker - on the topic of Jacques Tourneur's Night of The Demon. M.H. Wilson is the author of several books, including the conversation opus Scorsese on Scorsese, as well as Eastwood on Eastwood. He is the co-writer/co-director of A Personal Journey With Martin Scorsese Through American Movies and the writer/director of Reconciliation: Mandela's Miracle, In Search of Kundun with Martin Scorsese and the screenwriter of Alan Rudolph's Intimate Affairs (aka Investigating Sex).All that's coming soon! Sincerely Yours,TZ
In the last issue of Double Exposure, I decided to focus my writings on the work of writer/director CAMERON CROWE. An all-time favorite, Crowe and his films have always resonated with me deeply and gave me the kind of sustenance that can be found in very few works of cinema, or works of art.
All of his films, truly, are masterpieces. They regenerate me, "the sweetness and the sour", the music, the colors, the dialogue... He creates characters that live with you for the rest of your life... Crowe is a joy-maker, within his pictures, he encapsulates the profound JOY of being alive, and the courage it takes to do so. In that sense, Crowe is a rebel. When so many filmmakers focus on negativism, he gifts the world with works of art (yes, Crowe is one of the very few who also uses film as an art) that encapsulates Life.
Man, I hope you enjoy my study of his films from the viewpoint of telling the story of America.
First published in Columbia University's undergraduate film journal Double Exposure. How do you tell the story of America? The dream, the pursuit, of happiness? How do you describe the alienation, the loneliness, that can result from ruthless competition and brutal hypocrisy? There have been many great twentieth century storytellers drawn to the subject – Frank Capra, of course, and Billy Wilder, Bo Goldman and…Cameron Crowe.
In each of his films as a writer/director – among them Say Anything…(1989), Jerry Maguire (1996) and Almost Famous (2000) – Crowe has strived to capture the American spirit on film. Crowe’s finest love letter to all things and people America is his outrageously under-rated picture Elizabethtown (2005), the last 20 minutes of which feature a montage of Drew (Orlando Bloom) taking a solitary drive across the South. As Drew scatters his father’s ashes in a river leading to the Mississippi, the voice-over speaks three meaningful words: “This is America.”
But, what is America exactly? Or more precisely, what is Crowe’s America? And how does it translate to his cinematic creations, including his mystery-romance Vanilla Sky (2001) and his recent family drama We Bought A Zoo (2011)?
Cameron Crowe’s films are rooted in the American Dream; that dream whose icons Elvis & Marilyn are proudly showcased on every wall of every diner of every town west of the Hudson River. It is an America made of humanity and integrity, still anchored in a long-gone era when individuals defined their country and cared for one another, when the experience of a journey bore more worth than its destination.
In the first act of Elizabethtown, Drew comes to a revelation: “In that moment I knew success, not greatness, was the only God the entire world served.” Crowe wants to expose the greatness, the greatness in affirming who we truly are. Ultimately, this is the recurring endgame of Crowe’s pictures. He believes that too many of us live our lives pretending to be someone we are not, in order to fit in. How can we be true to ourselves when, overstuffed by the hypocrisy around us, we can only feign sympathy for others? For Crowe, to affirm our identities, to find our way back to childhood dreaming, to believe in an ideal, is to approach greatness.
America is a land where the pursuit of happiness is written in the constitution, and Crowe’s characters endlessly fight for even the possibility to reach that “unalienable right:” Lloyd Dobbler (John Cusack) holding a boom box playing In Your Eyes, Drew finding soulful joy in being alive, on the road again. Jerry Maguire presents a picture of America dramatically at odds with, say, that of Oliver Stone’s ferocious and ruthless banker Gordon Gekko. Gekko was a Wall Street exec who saw greed as the only way to save America. Jerry (Tom Cruise) is a top sports agent who refuses to be “another shark in a suit.” He cannot keep turning the American institution of sports into a game of cynicism and hypocrisy. And for being honest and idealistic, “he is deemed a failure.”
Crowe’s country is a crushing organism; it is tough and it is mean. You will only be assessed on result. You will be loved because you are successful. You will be left on the side of the highway to success if you fail. It will make you feel alone; it will make you feel weak, purposeless. But you must never give up. In true American fashion, you must, like Jerry, start a journey towards greatness – a journey that conjures up the pioneering American values of freedom, opportunity, boldness, and optimism. Elizabethtown suggests that success is not the defining American virtue. Indeed, Drew learns that success and failure express only materialistic values, and that the true greatness is to “make ‘em wonder why you’re still smiling.” Crowe could have derived his conception of greatness directly from the opening lines of the US Constitution. He can only tell the story of America by making myth reality.
For Crowe, family is the American cradle. In his latest picture, We Bought A Zoo, Benjamin Mee (Matt Damon) argues he “is trying to give [his] kids an authentic American experience.” It turns out this experience is the feeling of belonging to a group as crazy as you – like any of Crowe’s literal or metaphorical families. Although America is a land of individualistic opportunity, one cannot achieve greatness on one’s own. Then-senator Barack Obama articulated this principle in his address to the Democratic National Convention: “Alongside our famous individualism, there’s another ingredient in the American saga, a belief we’re all connected as one people.” The final minutes of We Bought A Zoo offer one of the most deeply uplifting endings of all time – shining with pure light and conveying to us the joy of a valuable happiness. And what triggers all of the sweeping feelings above? The communion of family, of course. The certainty, that no matter what, your pursuit of happiness will not be solely individual. It is no coincidence both the endings of Elizabethtown and We Bought A Zoo focus on individuals finding common happiness among a wonderful crowd of strangers.
Nevertheless, for Crowe, there is a duality to the concept of community, the corruption of being accepted by the norm as opposed to the beauty of being accepted by one’s alter egos. This is one of the (many) running themes of Vanilla Sky, which explores the dark side of the American Dream: the path from guilt to redemption, from narcissism to true love. David Aames (Tom Cruise) is a man who has “snowboarded” through his life, finding it too difficult to become the man he wants to be, and thus settling for the man others want him to be. The opening sequence serves as a perfect metaphor for the character’s inner life: the visceral image of an empty Times Square only illustrates the void of David’s existence and his own responsibility to live a life that awakens him to the values embodied by the film’s recurring father figure: To Kill A Mockingbird’s Atticus Finch, who watches over the proceedings from within a TV screen.
Cameron Crowe lived the American Dream, as told in his semi-autobiographical road-movieAlmost Famous. At the age of 16, he started writing for cult music magazine Rolling Stone, interviewing the likes of Bob Dylan or David Bowie. In the film, William Miller (Patrick Fugit) finds his spiritual family among rock stars and groupies, people who share his meaningful passion for rock. Indeed, no one uses soundtracks like Crowe and his longtime music supervisor Danny Bramson. Crowe once said that “great music is its own movie already.” For Crowe, songs do more than support the storytelling; they become part of the storytelling process itself. The “Tiny Dancer” scene in Almost Famous transcends its now-YouTube status of “musical interlude.” The young journalist, the band and the groupies are all sitting in a tour bus, dwelling on their conflicts in silence. But through the perfectly timed, slowly built sing-a-long of Elton John’s hit, Crowe brings his characters together as one common group, as a family. Vanilla Sky’s soundtrack is notably dark and ‘lucid’: Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, Sigur Ros. Jerry Maguire features an original song by Bruce Springsteen, “Secret Garden.” Who better than The Boss to convey the American spirit? The greatness, the sweet and the sour, the inherent feeling of romantic nostalgia washing over you. In Elizabethtown, even more than in any other Crowe films, the music conducts the narrative. In the film’s climax, Drew drives through the South, discovering his country’s soul through the evocative tunes of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, My Morning Jacket and Patty Griffin – visiting the legendary Sun Studios, where the spirit Crowe now shapes was born.
But as Claire puts it in Elizabethtown, “Some music needs air. Roll down your window.” In Crowe’s films, cars (and the act of driving) suggest freedom. In Jerry Maguire, following a successful contract, Jerry drives down an empty highway, smiling as he sings “Free Falling,” the car touching the horizon. The feeling is one of immediate exhilaration. The compositions, colors, characters and objects recall Norman Rockwell. Crowe’s compositions are as evocative, poetic and relevant. From his original perspective, Crowe is to cinema what Rockwell was to painting.
Dashing camerawork or complex Steadicam movements do not necessarily make a great director. A great director must be able to capture the tone of the picture on-screen, highlight the characters’ moral and emotional dilemmas and immerse the viewer within the story by creating iconic images.
The ending shot of Jerry Maguire dazzles with its purity: the united family in the foreground, hit by the sunlight; the old-fashioned quality to the baseball stadium in the background.
In that moment, Crowe’s pictures leave us with a feeling of regeneration and the ultimate expression of the possibility of the American dream.
In many ways, the American dream is - in its axioms - a story. From Say Anything to We Bought A Zoo, Crowe emphasizes the notion of living a story, taking part in an “adventure” as Benjamin Mee likes to call it. His style conveys it, with multiple compositions through windows. Indeed, there’s an inherent, magical feeling to watching an emotional scene through a window, as if we were just kids. What is a movie screen, if not a window to another world?
Cameron Crowe’s greatest achievement is his ability to relate the particular and the general: the intimate life stories of his characters and the extraordinary dream of his country. And ultimately, Crowe’s films are about the particular overwhelming the general: individual men and women who believe in the American myth constructing their realities according to it. Cameron Crowe is not only the storyteller of America; he is also the ultimate American artist.
I was lucky enough to interview Mr. JOHN CARPENTER for Double Exposure.
Carpenter has always been one of my favorite directors; a pioneering visionary for the horror genre. A practitioner never afraid to push the envelope. Although his films are tough, the violence is never gratuitous. There's always an underlying morality, an existential quest, an ironic twist to his pictures.
My first exposure to Carpenter was thanks to one of my heroes J.J. Abrams, who constantly brought Carpenter up as his... hero, next to Spielberg. I first watched The Thing which blew me away, not simply for its make-up effects but also for its mastery of tone. The frames are controlled, and every second, we feel ready to burst. It is only after watching this film, one can truly define the popular expression "on-the-edge-of-my-seat." I then watched all his films, horror or not, and developed a particular fondness for Elvis, the Escape franchise and In The Mouth of Madness... But honestly, I couldn't begin to rank his films. You can check out the interview after the jump.
First published in Columbia University's undergraduate film journal Double Exposure.
The career of director John Carpenter spans over 40 years. The movie that put him on Hollywood’s radar was Assault on Precinct 13 (1976), now remembered for a scene featuring the startling murder of a little girl. Carpenter shifted the horror genre and popularised the slasher film with the 1978 classic Halloween. With longtime actor Kurt Russell, he redefined the cool, silent anti-hero type: Snake Plissken in Escape From New York (1981). One of Carpenter’s greatest achievements is The Thing (1982). It is one of the most terrifying pictures of all time, as groundbreaking as William Friedkin’s classic The Exorcist (1973), but a commercial and critical failure at the time of its release. Since then, it has rocked America’s evenings and obsessed filmmakers such as J.J. Abrams, Guillermo del Toro and Sam Raimi. In the 80s and 90s, he delivered a compelling adaptation of Stephen King’s Christine (1983), as well as They Live (1987), which Martin Scorsese considers “lyrical and tough at the same time.” Carpenter also strayed into human drama with Elvis (1979), fantasy with Starman (1984), and action-comedy with Big Trouble In Little China (1986).
John Carpenter is not just the Master of Horror – he is also one of the great American directors. This is a man who both touched the zeitgeist and missed it before finding it again. He is the man behind the boogeyman…
TZ: You are responsible for scaring multiple generations over decades. The horror never fades: it seems the dark has a life of its own and you reveal it. Which life do you think it has? Why is horror so enduring?
JC: Horror exists since the very beginning of cinema. I think the audience enjoys scary films when they’re good. But more than that, it’s the one thing we all have in common, as humans. In other words, we are not all in love with the same woman or man, and we do not all believe in the same God. But we’re all afraid of the same things. It’s a very universal, powerful emotion; it’s the first thing we feel when we are born: fear.
TZ: You state that “we’re all afraid of the same things.” Which “things” torment us?
JC: Death, loss of identity, loss of a loved one. Everything that you’re afraid of, personally, I am too.
TZ: Your characters are often lonely beings. Throughout your narratives, they face psychological, emotional and sometimes physical imprisonments. TheApocalypse Trilogy is the finest illustration: The Thing, Prince of Darkness (1987) and In The Mouth of Madness (1994). What draws you to keep exploring that theme?
JC: That’s something I personally felt in my life. I am drawn to characters who have to fight, to strive, to survive this encasement. Because we’re all trapped in life, and yet here we are.
TZ: Did this feeling emerge in your childhood?
JC: Very much so. I grew up in a very strange place for me. It was a small Southern town, during the Jim Crow era. My family were Yankees, northern New Yorkers. It was a very alien place to us. I didn’t understand anything that was going on there. I felt very removed from the culture and the people. I was very much a loner. That’s the way I grew up.
TZ: You believe all of us are trapped, fighting for survival. Yet, your characters - such as Snake Plissken from Escape From New York or R.J. MacReady from The Thing – still follow a code of honor. Somewhere, deep down, they have integrity.
JC: Oh, absolutely! Ab-so-lu-te-ly. Well said, I couldn’t say it better.
TZ: There is a vital relationship between the story you are telling and the images you are showing: the content emerges from the style – not the other way around, as most filmmakers do. What’s your approach to putting the script onto the screen?
JC: Instinct, absolute instinct. It has nothing to do with intellectualisation. It’s just the way I see things and approach storytelling. Everybody has a little bit of a different vision. A lot of people I admire don’t have the kind of vision that I have. They have different visions and that’s mine. Simply, I know what’s right, storytelling-wise. And it might not be right for the audience, but it is for me.
TZ: That connection to storytelling — did it come from movies, or from literature and theatre?
JC: It came from a little of everything. But mainly, I fell in love with cinema when I was young. It informed the way I saw the world and what I wanted to do with my life. I think that my decision-making on a storytelling-level really has to do with all the education I got in film school and a lifetime of watching movies.
TZ: B-legend Jacques Tourneur said “The less you see, the more you believe…”
JC: Yeah, that’s possibly true. Maybe not always.
TZ: When I look at your pictures, you do suggest. There’s a clear drip of fear in The Fog or Halloween. Yet, in The Thing or They Live, all hell breaks loose early on. When do you decide which type of horror it will be? Is it story-based, an organic need depending on the threat?
JC: You hit it on the head. The point is what is the story? It’s going to dictate how much you show. It’s an old Hollywood cliché, which I think comes from this 1952 film called The Bad And The Beautiful. Kirk Douglas and Barry Sullivan are going to make a cat-person movie. There’s a scene where they look at these awful, awful cat costumes. Then they come up with an idea. It’s the dark that frightens people, so let’s not show anything. Let’s suggest it. That all comes from Val Lewton and that is effective. But it’s not the only answer.
I remember once, this very talented Italian actress lectured me: “You must never show the Devil!” Well, if we have a real photograph of the Devil, let’s show it. It’ll scare the hell out of people. Similarly, if you can create an incredibly great monster, then show it. Here’s a prime example. One of the great monsters of all time came from a Jacques Tourneur movie, Night of The Demon (1957). That was put in after he finished it; he didn’t want to see the monster. But the monster was fabulous! It was one of the great, big-old monsters. And it stayed with me as a kid. I remember what it looked like. So it totally depends on the story. In horror films, you can go one of two ways. If you have an ability to show the creature and you think it’s strong enough, show it. Let me see the picture of that Devil. Let me see your photograph of a UFO. Let me see if it’s real. I want to know.
TZ: You once said that there are two blueprints to horror stories: the evil from outside and the evil from within. It’s a compelling dynamic.
JC: It’s absolutely correct. There are only two stories. It’s all about the origins of evil. If you think about the development of mankind, it’s only fairly recently we’ve begun to understand that sometimes evil comes from within. Everything was supposedly done from outside. The Devil did it, the other tribe did it, the other country did it, the people who don’t look and speak like us did it. That’s very primitive. The heart of the story to tell is “I am evil.” All of us are capable of it. I believe there was this moment in the Nuremberg trials where a witness broke and realised, “We are all Eichmann.” We all have that capacity but we don’t act on it. That’s what elevates humanity. But we all could be Eichmann. It’s fascinating. It’s harder to tell that story and tell it to the audience. The audience doesn’t want to hear, “You could be evil so you areevil.” Nobody wants to hear that.
TZ: But do you see that self-realisation as an ending or as part of a process? Realising you could be evil pushing you to embrace light: is that a choice you believe one can even make?
JC: You can. Every person does, hundreds of times in his or her life. When you don’t demonize something, it’s because it’s different. Making that choice is what elevates us, or makes the best of being human. You see a crowd getting out of control — that’s very dangerous. That’s coming from within. We have laws and religions that protect us from ourselves, and sometimes protect us from each other. They point us towards the best of humanity, the best of ourselves.
TZ: On that matter, in our contemporary society, the system is being questioned. The Occupy Wall Street movement is a fierce example of people’s disenchantment and an impulse to see change. All this makes They Live even more relevant today than when it was released.
JC: They Live was a cry-out against Reaganism and Thatcherism. It hasn’t changed since then, nothing changed. What was going on then is still relevant today. I’m very sympathetic to Occupy Wall Street and their beliefs. Not so much the Tea Party, although I understand. But Occupy Wall Street seems to be about this idea. And in America, people are frightened of class. We don’t want it. So, there’s this myth we created about the American Dream. It means we are the land of opportunity, and it’s true to an extent. But it depends how far you’re coming to that. Can I become Warren Buffet? No, I can’t. It’s a lifetime of work. But I can go from this dumb kid in a small town in the South to a movie director. So I’ve lived the American Dream — it’s true. Unfortunately, if you choose my route made of fantasy and cinema, it’s a lot easier than if you go for the covert world of taxes or politics. It seems extremely corrupt these days.
TZ: Let’s go back to your movies now. The Thing is a truly terrifying picture. Not simply for its graphic content but also for the way it depicts human relationships. There is an absence of trust emphasized by the icy environment of the Pole. It originally garnered negative reviews and a low box-office (it opened two weeks after E.T.). Yet, since then, it has become one of the defining cult pictures of American cinema. Do you have any ideas that could explain this radical shift in perception?
JC: I have no idea. It’s a really interesting question to consider. When The Thing was released, it was hated by the fans most of all. They thought I had raped the Madonna. They thought I had desecrated it. It was really a terrible time (laughs). I don’t know why, other than the fact that it got seen a lot more on home video. That’s the only thing I know…the movie is still the same one. It’s very odd. I have no clue; I haven’t got an answer for you.
TZ: The Thing uses morose, dark humor in just the right way. Do you believe fear and laughter are two close emotions, the latter allowing the audience to release the pressure for a second?
JC: That’s always a good thing. It relieves the tension. And there are a couple of laughs in The Thing. The biggest one is, “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” spoken by Palmer. It lets you laugh and makes the scene a little less “grotesque” because what happens is very grotesque. It is very strong (laughs).
TZ: But still, you never release all the pressure. It never becomes camp or parodic. How do you find the right balance between horror and comedy so the audience doesn't feel jaded? .
JC: Instinct, once again. And sometimes it doesn’t work, sometimes it does.
TZ: I reckon you compose your own scores using your instinct as well?
JC: Yeah, even more so than in movies. My score are all improvised, essentially.
TZ: Do you compose them before to help you find the tone of the film? Or is it something you do once you already know what the movie is?
JC: After, always after.
TZ: It’s rare for a director to be his own composer. What does music mean to you?
JC: I have a background in music; I evolved in it and played it all my life. I did not just wake up in the morning and say, “Now, I’m going to be a musician.” That’s not possible; it requires a certain amount of talent and skills. If I woke up and said, “I want to be a leading man, a star right now,” it’s not gonna work. I knew what I was doing.
TZ: You are one of the last directors to have shot your pictures using CinemaScope (Panavision’s anamorphic lens creating an image with an aspect ratio of up to 2.66:1). How does this look enhance the horror experience?
JC: I think Panavision is the greatest lens system in the entire world. The movies look great. I’ve been in love with it ever since I first saw it. I don’t know about horror, I think it works for everything. And is that true that directors aren’t shooting in Panavision anymore? Is that really true?
TZ: Some of them are still shooting in Panavision. With the advent and lower prices of digital, a lot of TV is shot using Red or Alexa cameras.
JC: There’s less and less 35mm. Yeah, you’re right. That’s a sad thing, a very sad thing.
TZ: Directors in their 40s today – J.J. Abrams or Christopher Nolan, both clearly inspired by your work – will probably keep shooting in 35mm for as long as they can. But my generation will probably embrace digital.
JC: I think you’re right. And look at all the things that are disappearing: books, bookstores, newspapers. Kodak has filed for bankruptcy. What is happening to the world? And I’m gonna blame it on your generation. It’s all your generation; it’s your fault (laughs).
TZ: It’s funny you should say that though. At the end of Escape From L.A. (1996), Snake pushes a button and shuts down all electricity on Earth. It’s a cry-out against technology and an extreme version of what you’re telling me right now. Do you think the essence of mankind is fading away?
JC: Yes and no. There are some great advances in science and medicine, which lead to tremendous and unbelievable results. 50 years ago, those things would have been considered miracles. So it’s not bad. We haven’t lost our humanity. We are advancing. But there’s a big change in the world. And none of us are really sure where we fit in it. There have been other times like these in the past. And in Escape From L.A., I don’t know if I wanted to believe we should all run from technology. Because cinema is technology-based. Everything is told through machines. I’m not sure I could defend myself there. That was just an ending that allowed the actor to break the fourth wall and look at you.
TZ: And smoke a cigarette, which is very cool when it’s Kurt Russell doing it.
JC: That’s absolutely right.
TZ: Today, horror films seem to have no limit: torture-porn. Most films of that genre have little sense of story or character development. Do you think this new wave of the extreme is too much?
JC: It’s a broad subject. Not all modern horror films are bad. Some of them are good; some of them are fun. Some of them are extreme, you’re right. They are like hardcore wrestling.
TZ: Films from the Hostel or Saw saga seem like they do horror for the sake of doing it. To me, it’s as if there is no sense of ethics anymore.
JC: That’s interesting. It’s a parcel of an Internet mentality. You see it in the discourse that’s going online and some of the brutality featured on websites constantly. It’s unbelievable. So, it becomes part of horror. But frankly, I have to admit I enjoyed the very first Saw.
TZ: The first one had a story with cliffhangers. But the others are just scenes of violence after scenes of violence.
JC: They got obsessed with the torture apparatus. In other words, each one had to top the next. But the first Saw had a great twist ending when the guy on the floor stands up. It was fabulous. I have seen a lot of those modern horror movies recently. Hostel was a few years ago. I’m not sure they’re going to last. Again, I think it is part of the culture today. We enjoy being cruel to others.
TZ: You don’t think this is something we enjoyed in the past as well? You believe it has been amplified now?
JC: It’s hard to say. I still maintain that there are really good movies being made. But the culture, the technology, everything changes. In the 60s, my generation was listening to The Beatles. We weren’t listening to doo-wop anymore. It changed and there’s nothing wrong with that. We’ll see where it goes; I’m always hopeful.
TZ: You have made other types of films both for cinema and TV. One that stands out is Elvis, made for ABC. It’s an emotional picture about a man and his destiny. It’s interesting the way you present Elvis Presley as a man with an intimate, profound, spiritual sadness due to his twin brother’s early death.
JC: In terms of Elvis, I read the script but I couldn’t finish it. It was so big, so dense. And it was totally invented. It was a tribute. It was not to tear him down because he had a lot of problems. It was to provide a bit of depth I don’t really think he had. I give all credit to Kurt Russell for his performance. He made you believe in what was going on; he made you believe all of it. That movie was a baptism of fire for me, as a director. I’ve never worked as hard in my life as on that film. I’m glad I did it. I can’t really talk about it in terms of its thematic context because I was just trying to cover a movie. I was just trying to be a journeyman.
TZ: As a child, Kurt Russell made a film with Elvis: It Happened at the World’s Fair(1963). Did he have any memories that helped him shape the character of The King?
JC: No, he didn’t really base his performance on Elvis in the scene he did with him. Kurt Russell is one of the world’s great mimics. He can mimic voices, people, and mannerisms. He is truly gifted.
TZ: One of your most interesting collaborations with Russell is Big Trouble In Little China. It’s a standalone piece in your filmography. It’s a mix of action, adventure, and comedy. It’s weird. The audience rarely gets to enjoy films like that. How did it come about without becoming too much a one- or two-genre film?
JC: That one was offered to me. It had been a Western originally. A guy I went to school with, W.D. Richter, rewrote it to be a modern-day adventure. He’s a very iconoclastic writer; he writes really bizarre dialogue. There was something really quirky about it. What drew me to want to make this film is that I remembered seeing the early kung-fu films when they hit America. And I loved them; there was a sense of innocence about them. The balletic fighting style was fun. It was a chance to do things that I had never seen before in an American film. The leading man, Kurt Russell’s character, does not know he is a sidekick. He thinks he is the star, but he’s just along for the ride. So it was really fun to make. I’m glad I made that movie.
TZ: Very few directors have the ability to go from being directors-for-hire to being auteurs and conveying a voice. It seems you did both. As Scorsese puts it: “one [film] for them, one [film] for me.” It’s fairly evident which of your films fit in one category or the other. Did you have that level of self-consciousness when you were making them?
JC: You’re absolutely right. I don’t want to talk about which ones I did for them though. But I think it’s always good to do that, to give over. You learn from every experience, good or bad. Obviously there are ones I’m less fond of, but I don’t regret making any of them.
TZ: You have been a lot less productive in the first decade of the 21st century, with one cinematic effort Ghosts of Mars (2001) and two anthology episodes for Masters of Horror on Showtime. Is this because there are fewer stories you want to tell?
JC: I was burned out, tired, fed up. I had been working since 1970 non-stop and I had to stop. I just had to stop for a while. I’m glad I did. It was very, very, very helpful to stop, to get out of it for a bit. I had some family issues to take care of. That’s always important.
TZ: Your comeback picture, The Ward, came out in 2011 in the States. It’s a horror film once again. Do you feel recharged now, ready to tell a new batch of stories? Or are you still searching for energy?
JC: I’m much more energized now. Whether I’ll make other movies — all I can say is we’ll see. I am now much older; I am 64 years old and I feel 64 years old. My poor old body has been through a lot. So I do like resting. I don’t like getting up early in the morning. I don’t like working all day. I’m essentially a lazy person. So if everything is right and the stars align — a good story I’m in love with, a good amount of money in the budget – I’ll make another film. But I don’t feel like I have to.
It's been a while since the last BRAINTWISTER update, but here's one right now. BRAINTWISTER was reviewed by the iTunes Genre Podcast:DARK OF THE MATINEE (by Coffel/Robinson).
The film has been deemed "straight out of The Twilight Zone"and praised for having "a storyline and concept uniquely different while having a familiarity that science fictions fans will appreciate." Furthermore, journalist Christopher Coffel ends his review by the following words: "During the end credits I was almost shocked to see the film wasn't inspired or based on a short story by Richard Matheson because that's what it felt like. Any time a movie leaves you feeling as if you just witnessed something from the mind of Matheson, you know the director and writer did something right. In this case the director and writer are both Zenou. And Zenou should be very proud of that."You can read the full review by clicking here or listen to the show by clicking here.I was also interviewed by Coffel regarding the meaning and making of BRAINTWISTER. It also features a broader discussion of the filmmakers whose works I keep exploring. You can read the interview by clicking here.Thanks you very much for reading and stay tuned next week for another awesome BRAINTWISTER update,TZ
Every Monday I'll be posting photographs of cultural icon(s).
Those pictures do not only capture the spirit of their subjects but also immortalize a mood, an atmosphere, an era often long disappeared. All that's left are memories, art and pictures. So it's time to embrace that sentimental nostalgia--
Photographs: #2 The King
In many ways, Elvis is the "Chosen One". He is both the precursor and the icon of what's probably the most popular music ever: Rock 'n' Roll. But he was also a revolutionary behind a revolution of senses, class, youth, sex and ethnicity. That and much more... Very few people touched mankind's lives the way he did. As Bono puts it: "Changing the way people feel about the world. It's all there with Elvis (...). He was already doing what the civil rights movement was demanding: breaking barriers". Ultimately, Elvis was a complex man. Much more profound than people gave him credit for. He inspired The Boss, The Beatles or The Stones to pick their guitars and change the world as well... He is the first "star" in the modern sense of the term. He also had a Great spiritual thirst and a rooted faith - like a "Chosen One". But like all "Chosen Ones", he was destined to be Different. A mundane life watching sunday night baseball and working 8 to 5 was never in the running... And like a biblical figure (on a socio-cultural level, one could argue Elvis is such a thing for the USA) - his ending was very special and painful. But Elvis Presley will always live in our common unconscious...
"From the time I was a kid, I always knew SOMETHING was going to happen to me" - Elvis Presley
Every Monday I'll be posting photographs of cultural icon(s).
Those pictures do not only capture the spirit of their subjects but also immortalize a mood, an atmosphere, an era often long disappeared. All that's left are memories, art and pictures. So it's time to embrace that sentimental nostalgia--
Photographs: #1 The King of Cool & Miss Faye
Rarely have movie stars shined as brightly as those two. He is the embodiment of Americana at its rawest. She is the glamourest of 60s Hollywood's goddesses. He is aiming a gun, looking at the world through his 'Persols'. She is living the high life, old California-style, in the front of a convertible. Oh yeah, they're also Cinema's most sensual couple (ie. THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR)--
Every new year brings its share of untouched cinematic memories and fresh experiences. Wishing you the greatest 2012 one could possibly make up...I am now a contributor/journalist for Double Exposure. It is Columbia University's newly formed film journal - surprisingly the first of its kind in CU's history. Keep it on your radar: the writing staff is of a high-standard, the subject matters are compelling and the style is both entertaining and informative.My first interview was with D.J. CARUSO (DISTURBIA, EAGLE EYE). He was kind enough to comment on contemporary filmmaking and open up about what he has in store for the next few years (PREACHER!). You can read it after the jump or visit its initial source.
EXCLUSIVE Interview with director D.J. Caruso: Reflections on modern-day moviemaking and what the future holds.by Theo Zenou
In the last decade, D.J. Caruso has proven himself as one of Hollywood’s surest bets: he can make hits, direct big names (Al Pacino, Angelina Jolie, Matthew McConaughey) and launch new talent (Shia LaBeouf, Dianna Agron, Alex Pettyfer). But the most striking aspect of Caruso’s filmography is his ability to transcend his films’ pop culture brand. Two for the Money (2005) is an electrifying journey into the compulsive psyche of men who love losing almost as much as they love winning. Disturbia (2007) is an exploration of suburban boredom and voyeurism. I Am Number Four (2011) uses aliens as a metaphor for teenage angst and a search for identity. His next film, The Goats, is an independent project he directed in 18 days. Soon, he will be back in the pop culture realm with an anticipated adaptation of the cult graphic novel Preacher.
TZ: Martin Scorsese believes that “movies fulfill a spiritual need that people have: to share a common memory”. What was your first exposure to this “common memory”?
DJC: My first understanding of what the power of cinema could be is when I saw Mean Streets (1973) with my father. When you are a child, film is all about entertaining, escaping, and there’s something magical about that. But when I saw Mean Streets, I realized that a film could be about my father’s friends and my father’s family. Within the reality of what Scorsese was doing, each character represented something that was part of my life. It was an eye-opening experience. I understood a film doesn’t have to be a spectacle, it could be character-based. It’s a universal need we all have.
TZ: Your recent films offer a lot of spectacle and yet you still manage to convey the character’s intimate moments. How do you find that balance?
DJC: That’s the battle of modern moviemaking between the art and the commerce. I’m always striving – I’m not sure I always succeed – but I’m always striving to make sure it’s a character-based piece first. I thematically have to understand what the character needs. For example, on Eagle Eye, Shia [LaBeouf] and I were basically: “Yes, this is great spectacle. It’s about technology and the dangers of the information world and what all we share. But, at the end of the day, it was about a guy who really, really wanted to have his father understand him and love him.” And I Am Number Four was about a guy who didn’t want to accept his destiny and understand who he really was. No matter how big the spectacle gets – and it’s a wild ride in these modern-day movies – if you can hang on to your theme and ride it out through all the spectacle, then it’s a much more rewarding experience for the audience.
TZ: You have made six feature films and one could see them as two loose trilogies. The first one is made of The Salton Sea (2002), Taking Lives (2004), and Two for the Money—dark, gritty, urban, rooted in Michael Mann or Brian De Palma. The second is comprised of Disturbia, Eagle Eye (2008) and I Am Number Four, anchored in Steven Spielberg movies where extraordinary events shape ordinary people. Those subject matters and genres differ, but they share an emotional core. When looking for a picture, do you first and foremost consider the emotional experience?
DJC: When I read a script, it’s usually the emotional response. Then I go back and read it and I say: Why am I the right guy to tell this story? Thematically what I found is that the characters I seem to be attracted to are people who are in dark moments in the beginning. They have to fight through the darkness in order to find little glimmers of light and hope, whether they are revenge-driven or redemptive. That’s the journey I like to take my characters on.
TZ: How do you decide the pace of your films in the edit room?
DJC: Each experience is always a little bit different. But the main thing is always getting that assembly together and taking that all in. And then it’s like having a pencil that you just keep making sharper and sharper and sharper. It’s amazing the domino effect of a scene you have on Monday and it’s working really well. By Friday – even if you haven’t touched it – it isn’t working as well because all the stuff you are shaping around it has changed the rhythm of it. The more experience I get, the more a movie is almost like a song or a piece of music. It needs this harmonic chord that goes through it. You realize you have to tune scenes to get back in tune with the rest of the picture. So, I just get in there and get dirty. Editing rooms are the kind of places where you work really hard. You go in the morning when it’s sunny, you come out at night, you have no idea what time it is. You go home and you take a shower. You are sitting in the shower and you go: “Oh my God, I didn’t really think about this or that.” And you go back the next day. I really enjoy the editing process prior to anyone else having to see the movie. There’s that 8 to 9 weeks period where you just get to explore and get what you need. It’s just you and your partner, the editor.
TZ: You closely collaborate with your actors. How do you work with them?
DJC: The most important aspect is that there is a mutual trust. I tend to just help the actors in preparation. I want to make sure they are building a foundation for the character in a clean fashion. If I can help with the foundation, then it’s really their job to erect the house or the structure. It’s really important that you agree – from the core – on the theme, the character’s exploration, the obstacles…
TZ: Run us more specifically through your collaboration with an actor in a scene. There’s a scene in Eagle Eye where Shia LaBeouf’s character walks into a church and sees his brother’s body into a coffin. How did you work with LaBeouf to create this intimate moment?
DJC: It was an incredible, emotional scene. I wanted to keep it simple and beautiful. I still haven’t met anyone as prepared as Shia. And if you look closely, he sticks a little piece of paper in his brother’s hand. Shia literally wrote his brother a poem. I remember he flipped it to me and let me read it and I was like of course you can put this into his hand. He had this whole thing figured out. We already had all the foundation built in. Shia had known I had lost a brother when I was younger. I think he had a picture of my brother in his pocket; he’s so prepared! Honestly, I remember doing it in one or two takes: walking him over in the wide shot and getting in there in the close-up. And it cuts, I look over and the script supervisor is crying. Everyone is crying! Shia and I are just so connected in those moments.
With that mutual respect and agreement, the actor becomes your partner and you are his or her partner. That’s important to establish so you know you are always going to be there and fight for each other. Because there are outside sources – even though they all mean well – that might be countering the vision that you have.
TZ: You mention “outside sources”. Are you referring to studio executives, producers?
DJC: Outside sources can be anyone from a producer to a friend or a writer. There’s a group of people – like writers I really adore – that I love to show the movie to because I respect their storytelling skills the most. I know they are going to come from the heart.
I think what happens with the studio is the homogenization of what the expectations are, what they want the movie to be from a marketability standpoint….But, for example, Adam Goodman [President, Paramount Film Group, ex-President of Production for DreamWorks] was a guy who was just so trusting of the filmmaker. He’d have really good opinions but at the same time if it was about red or blue, he’d say: “Look, it’s really just a matter of choice and I want you to go with the choice you want to make.” Those are the kind of relationships you really want.
I remember reading an article – six or seven years ago – by Cameron Crowe in the New York Times about how you do value everyone’s opinion. But as a filmmaker, if you start to take all that in, the 1% you take from here and the 2% you take from here, all of a sudden the film derails. It gets off track and it’s not the film you set out to make anymore.
TZ: Your foray into interactive storytelling with Inside—where the audience could guide the plot through Facebook or Twitter—was very interesting. Do you believe this type of content will get made on a bigger scale in the future?
DJC: Inside was really clever because Toshiba and Intel were brave enough to advertise in a hands-on way. And the social film aspect of it would be something to really test with Facebook, social medias and networking. You’ve heard about it for 10 or 15 years now: how the Internet was going to change moviemaking. Yes, of course, we all watch movies on Netflix, all that stuff is great. But the entertainment that has been made never really felt integrated. With Inside, I thought, we scratched the surface of what could become incredibly interesting. If you even take that one step further – whether from an advertisement standpoint or a pure film standpoint – you could create a really interactive experience that’s still incredibly cinematic. That would be the goal. I would love to go deeper, and I am convinced other people will if they haven’t already. If it stays away from being a gimmick and becomes real and emotional, it definitely could work.
TZ: Your next film is a coming-of-age drama, The Goats. You wrote the script over 15 years ago; why is this a passion project?
DJC: When I was a Production Assistant starting out, I worked for directors John Badham and Rob Cohen. I was a reader for them and the novel The Goats was my weekend reading. I loved it. They ended up optioning the book out of their own pocket because Universal – where they had a deal – thought the movie was too small. Over the course of the years, the film kind of went away. And as I became more successful – and this is not even a comparison – I started looking at Lasse Hallström’s My Life as a Dog (1985) and Truffaut’s The 400 Blows (1959), and I thought “I really want to make a coming-of-age film.” And there’s no better coming-of-age story that I ever read than The Goats. We went back out and got the option. Obviously, I knew it wasn’t going to be a studio movie.
We raised three million dollars and shot the movie in 18 days. I’m editing it and putting it together. Unlike anything else I ever had where I know my movie is going to get a 2,000-screen release, now I am hoping just to get the financiers’ money back and sell the film. It was incredibly liberating to make, even though it was hard as hell. I just felt really great making this little movie that I wanted to make.
TZ: I would imagine that making big movies actually helped you make this little movie even better?
DJC: I think so. I’m now a firm believer in experience. For example, I operated the camera a lot onThe Goats. I had these kid actors who could be on set only for six hours. And I didn’t want to have long conversations about the compositions and how to achieve them. So, I would always be getting the camera exactly where I wanted to get it. The experience of the big movies – working with great camera operators and DPs – helped me know exactly what I can get by and exactly what I needed in such a short time.
TZ: What makes The Goats so personal to you?
DJC: It’s about these two kids who are victims of an incredibly traumatic camp prank because they are considered nerds or outsiders. You spend a three-day journey with them and realize how amazing and special these kids are. But because society tells them they are not the cool ones, no one really has a chance to see how incredibly beautiful they are on the inside.
My personal family life wasn’t as fragmented or damaged as the main character’s family life but I always felt like I was on the outside. And I didn’t mind it. The more I know artists, filmmakers, writers, poets - you are always that person on the outside observing. And that was something that helped me become a better storyteller. And it’s that kinship I felt with Howie, the lead character. I just knew him and I want people to get to know him too.
TZ: Can you give us any updates on your upcoming adaptation of the graphic novel Preacher?
DJC: John August wrote a really great screenplay, and Sony liked the screenplay a lot. Now I’m kind of fine-tuning it and restructuring it a little so we can get back in there after the holidays and hopefully get Sony to say they really want to make the movie. It’s a scary, scary picture for a studio.
TZ: Will it be R-rated?
DJC: Oh, it’s going to be R-rated for sure! There’s no question it’s going to be R-rated. The material is incredibly unique and unusual. I get e-mails from people everyday saying: “Don’t f*ck it up! Don’t put Shia in or I’m gonna kill you!” But right now, I’m focusing on getting the story right in a screenplay form. If you are familiar with the piece, it spans so many graphic novels. It’s about what to hone in on and how to tell the right story, how to kick out all this great stuff and make one great two-hour movie that hopefully could span other films, but also stands alone as an amazingly unique picture. Sony is incredibly brave; it’s scary, but there’s some sort of bizarre universality that I am trying to convince them exists. There’s something incredible about Jesse [the preacher]: what exactly is going on, who he is and what his relationship is with God. Also, what is the Saint of Killers’ relationship with the Devil? It’s all fairly simple in the themes, but the way it goes about it is so highly unusual and sacrilegious. It’s gonna offend some and it’s not gonna be a movie for everyone.
TZ: You’ve worked with this new acting generation: Shia LaBeouf, Alex Pettyfer, Dianna Agron, Teresa Palmer. Do you see a common blueprint or quality in this generation?
DJC: Someone like Shia and a few others, they have this “thing,” like Sean Penn — they are pure actors and they are amazing. What is happening is they are not allowed the opportunities that some of the other actors have been allowed in their generation. So, they start to gravitate toward projects like The Wettest County [John Hillcoat, 2012]. The Tom Hardy’s and Shia’s, they are trying to find those types of films so they can still meet the commercial needs on a studio level, but also fulfill their creative needs.
You know, we are all guilty if we keep doing what the studio wants us to do—if we don’t branch off or do a Goats as a director or a Wettest County as an actor. I admire Brad Pitt because he believes in his projects. He takes a studio picture like Moneyball (2011), and yet it’s still an incredibly, fiercely independent project that is very accessible.
TZ: Do you think there will be an even bigger gap between studio filmmaking and indie filmmaking than there already is today?
DJC: I’d like to think that somehow the gap could close but I also know that you might make a $20 million film and the studio doesn’t know how not to spend $30 million to market it. So, your $20 million picture becomes a $50 million investment. And how fake is a $20M film if it’s not a romantic comedy with Katherine Heigl? That favors certain movies. So, the dilemma would be: when you are under $10 million, how do you find someone that can strategically take a marketing campaign and not spend studio kind of money on it, but still make the movie accessible and easy to find.
Studios are making fewer movies in the middle because they’d rather spend a whole lot on the tentpole movies or acquire the little guy and spend a little bit on marketing, which Fox Searchlight is genius at. And the guy with movies in the middle, they are a lot tougher—the $40 million, $50 million films. The gap is widening but maybe, somehow, if there is a way they could figure out the marketing costs and control them, which I haven’t seen in my 20+ years in the business. They just keep escalating. The gap is gonna remain, unless we figure a way to close it.
In the conclusion of his "documentary treasure" A PERSONAL JOURNEY WITH MARTIN SCORSESE THROUGH AMERICAN MOVIES, the legendary filmmaker recollects the dilemma of his youth before making - what I consider to be - one of the most enlightened, passionate and emotional statements ever made about Cinema. "Actually, when I was a little younger, there was another journey I wanted to make. It was a religious one, I wanted to be a priest. However, I soon realized that my real vocation, my real calling was the movies. I don't really see a conflict between the curch and the movies, the sacred and the profane. Obviously, there are major differences but I could also see great similarities between a church and a movie house. Both are places for people to come together and share a common experience. And I believe there's a spirituality in films - even if it's not one which can supplant faith. I find that over the years, many films adress themselves to the spiritual side of Man's nature. From Griffith's film INTOLERANCE to John Ford's THE GRAPES OF WRATH to Hitchcock's VERTIGO to Kubrick's 2001 and so many more. It's as if movies answer an ancient quest for the common unconscious. They fulfill a spiritual need that people have: to share a common memory." Martin Scorsese, A PERSONAL JOURNEY WITH MARTIN SCORSESE THROUGH AMERICAN MOVIES, 1995TZ
You can say what you want about Brett Ratner but the guy has a pretty impressive resume.
Maker of over a 100 music videos; first feature at 27; billion-dollar director ten years later with the RUSH HOUR franchise and an X-MEN film; gutsy producer of PRISON BREAK; infamous playboy...
But it'd be utterly simplistic to reduce Ratner to his track record. He's one of the most compelling directors in Hollywood. Compelling? DAMN RIGHT.
Most people don't know that RED DRAGON - the masterful SILENCE OF THE LAMBS prequel - was helmed by Ratner. Nor do they know he is gonna make a film written by James Toback (FINGERS) and produced by Bob Evans (MARATHON MAN). And that his mentors include Warren Beaty (BUGSY), Roman Polanski (THE PIANIST) or Robert Towne (CHINATOWN).
A lot of acclaimed directors don't ever get to that point. SO, WHY DOES HE DO?
The answer is simple. RATNER DESERVES IT: the man loves storytelling and film more than anything else, he knows what the term "pop culture" truly means and above all he knows how to make quality movies that people love. And that is priceless...
Ratner just made TOWER HEIST, a skilled mix of genres resulting in a fun(ny), thrilling & pertinent film - his best yet, a real New York picture - produced by a true Hollywood mogul, Brian Grazer (A BEAUTIFUL MIND).
Do you remember what a Caper is? It's a sub-genre of the Heist film. It can be comical. Think THE HOT ROCK, $ or GOING IN STYLE. Those films are all about the characters. Dramatic situations trigger the plot. But the heists never go according to plan - and that's when the laughs comes in. Ultimately, they are very difficult pictures to pull off because they are very layered narrative whose "layers" often work simultaneously.
TOWER HEIST revolves around the workers of a luxurious Manhattan building. When they realize they are the victims of the penthouse's resident Ponzi scheme, they decide to rob him for everything he has.
Movies need an exposition (one way or another); yet so many films skimp on it to start with the action right away. And that has become a new standard for many Hollywood films.
In TOWER HEIST, you get a complete First Act; the film's world is set - the characters are introduced - their motivations and inner conflicts are developed. This makes you care about these people but before all, it grounds the story. It's a bold move to have in a film as big as this one.
So, when the concept of the heist arrives and the fun blasts in, you are in for one hell of a cinematic ride. The casting completely reflects that. Two comedic geniuses: Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy as polar opposites - surrounded by a cast of character actors: Casey Affleck, Michael Pena, Matthew Broderick, Alan Alda.
Ratner also uses his chops to stage pretty cool stunt pieces - heightening both the drama and the comedy. The style is intentionally simple; it's about telling the story in the most evocative and efficient way - letting the action evolve within the frame - the cut is never over-used - the audience is not spoon-fed the story but rather tastefully narrated.
As much as this is an escapist fare, it is also anchored in contemporary society. Ponzi scheme? The most infamous one was by Bernard Madoff - not so long ago. But ultimately, this movie captures the deep crisis of class-division in America: the haves and the have-nots. It captures the instant we live in. And that's why it feels real. As the tagline says: It's not just a Robbery. It's Payback. It is the very first picture to openly adress such events/issues in a commercial, crowd-pleasing, creative and smart way.
Because TOWER HEIST is for everyone; guys, girls, parents, children, bosses and employees. It's THAT good.
This is a 10-min documentary I directed earlier this year about Stephen Lane, the founder and CEO of the world's biggest Prop-Selling company PROP STORE. Stephen is a compelling, real-life passionate - who proves business can be the stuff childhood dreams are made of.
And if you love movies like I do, if you have a geeky obsession for all sort of things, this is for you! In the hope, you'll enjoy it and find it fun and informing... TZ