Thursday, March 31, 2005

Pre-Production/Pity

Last night Molly had a pre-production meeting regarding THE COURAGE JOURNAL. The best moment for me was reading the script out loud together. It reminded me of a story that James L. Brooks relates about his initial experience with BOTTLE ROCKET and its writers, Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson. The story, which Mr. Brooks retells in the foreward to the script of RUSHMORE, is an illuminating one for any screenwriter. One of the many morals I gleaned from the story was that it’s necessary to read the script out loud. That simple act is extremely informative. I saw things that I never saw before in the script. Just reading it out loud got me excited about making the film. When the process of making this film is over, I know I’m going to miss this film.

Tonight I will go to BAM without a ticket and beg someone for their ticket to see THE GRADUATE. I’m willing to pay well over face value. It’s important that I at least try to get in to meet one of my idols, Mike Nichols. I might fail but I’m going to give it my all and see if anyone takes pity on me.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Service

While I’m off in Cleveland this weekend I’ll have a couple of house guests in my Brooklyn apartment. D and his former lady Lisa are in town to see a Ray LaMontagne concert, which they had invited Molly and I to see, but we won’t be here on account of the wedding. So they’ll be in my house most likely having “relations” in an apartment that has seen no true action since I moved in. It’s nice to be of service.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Home For The Holidays (if by holidays you mean a wedding)

So I’m going to Cleveland this weekend. Haven’t been home since NjP’s wedding. Oddly enough, a wedding is bringing me back. Molly’s cousin is getting married and I’m going to be accompanying her. It’s a big moment for me. It’ll be the first time meeting the maternal side of Molly’s family. I’m nervous about the event but I’m sure I’ll survive. I've just got to pace my drinking.
What’s nice about being home, even if it is for a couple days, is that I get to eat out a couple times on my parents tab. We’ll be eating at my old restaurant FAT CATS Friday night and I’ll be spending all of Sunday with them. They’re pretty psyched about me coming home, although I’m fairly certain my mother will hate my new haircut.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Soaked

I talked to Margo today. In the middle of the day, no less. She sounded relaxed. I guess quitting your job will do that to you. The weight of the world no longer resides on her shoulders. Our conversation was pithy; we talk like we’re characters from a Noel Coward play--full of wit, humor and mirth. Talking to her makes me feel like I have to hold up my end. She’s my Elaine May to my Mike Nichols. The woman cracks me up.

It was raining when I left my apartment. I didn’t turn around and get an umbrella because I wanted to show solidarity to Margo. Well as it turns out the light drizzle turned into a torrential downpour in minutes and I was soaked by the time I arrived at the barbershop. Dripping wet.

About the haircut. Turns out the guy who has been my barber for over a year isn’t there anymore, which is annoying because now I have to get acquainted with someone else. (The new guy they got to replace him looks kinda like the original...if you squint your eyes.) And something was lost in the translation today. He cut it short. Real short. Much shorter than we discussed. And I have a wedding this weekend. Aargh.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Mike Nichols

BAM is starting a Mike Nichols retrospective this weekend. I'll be gone most of the weekend (in Cleveland for a wedding), but I will be available to see the opening film, which just happens to be my favorite of Mr. Nichols--THE GRADUATE. This is a flawless film. Celluloid perfection. And I've never seen it on the big screen. Hopefully that will change Thursday. To top it all off, Mr. Nichols will be there that evening for a Q&A afterward. I tried getting tickets just now online but my order wouldn't go through. Keep your fingers crossed that I'll be able to make it in.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Camille's Back

Camille Paglia has a new book coming out. I used to read her books constantly my freshman year of college. She blew my hair back. I remember not understanding a great deal of what she wrote about, but that I just loved her ability to captivate my attention. She inspired me to be more literate. I beseech all of you to pick up her latest book which will be released on Tuesday.

Friday, March 25, 2005

My My My My My Boogie Shoes

I dance at work. By myself. Just acting goofy and moving my body to the music in my head. It only happens at work. Can’t really explain it. I don’t even like dancing that much. But there I am standing in the middle of the kitchen gyrating like an idiot. My boss Roger, turns to me, laughs and declares, “You really are straight.”

Thursday, March 24, 2005

#2

I never, no matter how drunk, use the word "anyways". It's "anyway".

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Derek

Derek is 24 today. I had to spoil his birthday present because it won’t arrive until early April. I pre-ordered him the fourth season of THE WEST WING. We’re addicts, what can I say? Phone conversations between us feature long recycled dialogue from the show. It’s a distinction that I share with no one else and I’m proud of that. Happy birthday Derek. Spend it well.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

My Flaw

It’s a former friend’s birthday. Our friendship ended abruptly. For some reason, I have committed to memory that today is her birthday.

I’m going to let all of you in on a little secret. Something that I’ve never told a living soul. It’s not something I’m proud of, nor have any control over. I seek not understanding, nor judgment.

As a director there are some occupational hazards: fast food intake increases, power trips and delusions of grandeur, for starters. I suffer from another. And to date, it’s happened on every film I’ve worked on: I fall for my female lead.

Now having said that, I’ve never made a move on any of these women. I am still me after all. The relationship between an actor and a director is distinct and beautiful. Trust is involved. You tell each other things that are personal. Occasionally there is a transference of feelings.

This former friend, let’s call her “Lyndsey”. She was an actor I worked with on my comedic short. I cast her based on a recommendation and our obvious connection. And she was incredible to work with. There were no communication issues with her. Usually there’s a feeling out period where both sides try to create a language that both understand. With her there was none. We instantly understood each other.

NjP and I wrote RENAISSANCE for her. That’s how badly I wanted to work with her again. I wanted to showcase her considerable talent. But as we approached the start of shooting, she became flaky (not returning calls, missing meetings). I’m fairly certain it had to do with some personal stuff in her life, but I might be wrong. Anyway, we fired her. Or should I say, I fired her. And if you’ve ever had to fire someone over the phone into a voicemail box, I don’t recommend it. I must have rambled on for 15 minutes straight. We've haven't talked since.

To this day, I don’t know what happened. I’ve played it back in my head a million times and try to see what I could have done differently in the situation. I know that the decision I made was a sound one. But I’m also left with this pang of regret. I guess it’s easier to blame yourself than to admit you see flaws in people. I know it’s easier for me anyway.

Monday, March 21, 2005

My Day

Got dressed up today. Wore a tie. I wear a tie at work, but it’s not the same. I voluntarily wore a tie. Oh and I got to wear this scarf that I boosted/liberated from the coat room recently. My feeling is after a week, the original owner got a new one.
I was going to brunch at CAFÉ GRAY, which is located in the Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle. I was a little nervous. I hadn’t been to Columbus Circle in a while. I used to work one floor above CAFÉ GRAY, in a different restaurant that caused me much anxiety and mental anguish. But that’s the past. I’m in a different restaurant now, one that suits me perfectly.
The main reason for brunching at CAFÉ GRAY was that I wanted to see my friend Chris Monaco, who is a front server there. In a couple weeks he’s leaving to go to, oddly enough, the restaurant above CAFÉ GRAY--my old restaurant (to do my old job no less). As we were seated, we were told that Chris was called off for the shift and that set the tone for the rest of the meal. Brunch was underwhelming. Only one dish knocked us out and the portions were vastly disproportionate. And when the bill came, I had a little sticker shock. It cost more than when Demian, Jamie, Molly and I went to PRUNE.
After our meal we went to see MELINDA AND MELINDA, the new Woody Allen film that features Will Ferrell. J loved the film, I wasn’t thrilled with it. Maybe it’s because there is no way an out-of-work actor and a music teacher could afford their rather large and opulent apartment on their presumed budgets. Stuff like that always takes me out of a film. But a mediocre film by Mr. Allen is better than 90% of the dreck that passes itself off as cinema.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Reading For Amusement

I've found myself reading something on Margo's blog over and over just for amusement. Since it's Sunday I thought it would be apropos to show you just what specifically I've been reading.

I, like Bernard, love brunch. I think that every Sunday should include a very long wait at a diner so loud you can't hear the table next to you even though you're seated so close that you can feel their breath with waitresses who only smile when it is genuine. Since you have waited so long to eat you order too much and eat a plate of eggs and bread too quickly and feel a little ill at the end. You might even order badly: waffles with strawberries and whipped cream. There should be enough coffee served that your knees quiver when you stand up to go. It is best spent with a friend who is just as hungover as you are and you're both still drunk as you look through Realty One booklets reading "4 bedrooms, 2 barns, 40 acres, fenced for horses, needs tlc, Ashtabula, $98,000 - how bad can it be out there?"

I just think that's fantastic. I wish I could write like that.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Astonishment Can Come In Small Packages

As a director, I’m terrified by the idea of working with children. I read once that Ron Howard, a former child actor himself, advised young directors to avoid working with children. But nothing seems more stunning, dare I say truthful, than watching a child act well. It’s an astonishing feat. So here are my top six child performances (in no particular order):
Rory Culkin in YOU CAN COUNT ON ME
Valentina de Angelis in OFF THE MAP
David Dorfman in PANIC
Max Pomeranc in SEARCHING FOR BOBBY FISCHER
Sarah Bolger and Emma Bolger in IN AMERICA

Friday, March 18, 2005

Going To Bed

I’m sick. The kind of sickness that makes you hate your own body. Constant shivering, achiness and lack of the ability to swallow are the symptoms. All of which I can deal with. What I can't is my shower curtain falling on me while I’m in the tub. The rod just fell and hit me on the head. Aargh. I’m going to bed.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

This Is It

He read it. I had been keeping it from him for many reasons, not the least of which is he’s my writing partner. The second I show him what I’ve done, he’ll go into writer mode and instantly I’ve got a co-writer. I wanted to write this one by myself, to see if I could do it. He’s a better writer than I am. His instincts are sharper and he sees things that I would never have considered. I’m not a natural writer; I have to work at it. A co-writer helps. Mine happens to be my best friend. And we’re a great writing team. But this one was mine.
He liked it quite a bit. He had criticism, all of which was valid, but it didn’t faze me. The piece is frozen for now. The script is in the hands of the four actors who will bring it to life and based on rehearsals I might change it. But not now. And I’m okay with that. At some point you have to say, “This is the piece. For better or for worse, this is the piece.”
NjP read THE COURAGE JOURNAL. Big day.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Joan Allen double feature

J and I did a Joan Allen double feature today: THE UPSIDE OF ANGER and OFF THE MAP. The first film had some potential, but didn’t capitalize on its promising premise. Kevin Costner did the same role he’s been doing for ages (aging baseball player who falls in love), while the four young women cast as Ms. Allen’s daughters were given nothing to capitalize on their collective talent.
The second film was much better. The story is so much more compelling to watch, although you have no idea where you are being taken as an audience member. Ms. Allen is less showy in this film, as the earth mother who must deal with her husband’s depression, but plays the required subtlety beautifully. It was a striking counterpoint to the upper middle class drunk she plays in the first film. But the most astonishing thing that I saw today was a young woman named Valentina de Angelis (Ms. Allen’s daughter in OFF THE MAP). One of the best child performances I’ve ever seen in film.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Avoiding It

For about a week now, there’s been a parcel that’s been trying to enter my apartment. For one reason or another, it’s been unsuccessful. And I wasn’t expecting a parcel from anyone. So I’ve been leery about this package.
But I’m up early this morning, walk to my local post office and get the thing. The gentleman behind the Plexiglas gives me a package no larger than a shoebox. It’s from Molly’s parents. It’s making some sort of jingling noise as I am walking home. What could they have sent me? And then it hits me. They sent me flatware.
Molly has been on my case (as well as J) that I live like I’m still in college. Up until my birthday, I didn’t have pots and pans. Molly got that for me. I only recently bought plates and glasses. I hadn't bought any flatware.
I have knives from my parents that they got from a late night television promotion. I have two forks. One from a restaurant I used to work at in Columbus, the other is from a restaurant I worked at in Cleveland. I have one spoon, which came from a restaurant I worked at here in the city. At this rate I’ll need to work in at least fifteen different restaurants to have a complete set.
Anyway, I open up the box and discover a ton of mismatched flatware. I love every single piece. I immediately call up Joan (Molly’s mother) and thank her. She’s at work so we keep it short. (Joan and I get along fabulously.)
Do you think this gesture has deeper meaning? I didn't think so initially, but every time I told the story today, pretty much everyone gave me a funny look.

Monday, March 14, 2005

A New Bar Has Been Set

Margo has started a blog that is just beautiful. Her acerbic wit translates well to the written word. Reading her stuff is like what I imagine literary crack would be like if such a thing existed. Her style reminds me of a younger Maureen Dowd although I'd be hard pressed to explain why I think so. She has a voice. Go read her. Now.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Work Friends

Work friends are not real friends. I learned that a while ago. It comes from being 27 and working at a lot of different places. Of course there are exceptions, but for the most part they aren’t going to be in your life beyond your current job. I always use this gauge for friendship: If I were to get married right now, would this person be invited to the wedding? (If the answer is no, we’re not that close.)
After dinner tonight, Molly (who is wearing a very revealing low cut blouse) and I go to a bar on the lower east side to meet up with a work buddy of hers who is celebrating a birthday today. Instantly upon entering the bar, I regret the decision of going. I knew instantly that Molly’s invitation was a test. Could I handle a new situation with people I don’t know? The answer is, and any of you can ask J or Derek about this, a resounding no. I hate meeting new people. I’m awkward and uncomfortable. And here’s something my readership may not know about me: I hate drinking with people I don’t know. I have no relationship with them and thus no basis for conversation. It turns into small talk surrounded by chit chat. Nothing good comes from that situation. But there I am drinking my Guinness and talking to some faceless guy I couldn’t pick out of a lineup of one. I leave after my one beer, partly because I’m tired but mostly because I don’t want to watch a bunch of much bigger drunk guys hitting on the woman I’m in love with. It’s just not my bag. That’s just how I roll. So I bounce.
There'll be a day when Molly grows out of this phase of her life, where everyone's invited to everything and people drink to excess. And on that day I'll still be there.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Slutty McHo

I got a package from Mandy today. Mandy, for those of you out of the loop, is the ex-girlfriend of my oldest friend’s brother. We’ve been friends for a while now. We lived very close to each other in Columbus. She’s like my little sister. My occasionally bald little sister. (That's right bald.) And given her proclivity for sex and sex talk (even at my many objections) I affectionately dubbed her Slutty McHo. Anyway she sent me a little memento from our days in Columbus.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Riding The B

I take the 2 or 3 to work (from Franklin Avenue in Brooklyn to 14th Street in Manhattan). But sometimes, I jump off at Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn and take the B to the West Fourth exit in Manhattan. I do this because the B goes above ground across the Manhattan Bridge. I can’t really explain it, but I find myself kinda giddy whenever I get to that part of my sojourn. It's one of those simple things that makes me happy to be a New Yorker.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Next Five...Making That Ten

In the spirit of my recent film news I've decided that I should announce the next five films on my list of favorite films. The first five are BOTTLE ROCKET, MAGNOLIA, BIG NIGHT, THE GRADUATE and FARGO. The next five (in no particular order) are ALL THE REAL GIRLS, OUT OF SIGHT, CITY LIGHTS, ALMOST FAMOUS and SIDEWAYS.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Shooting

The dates are set. Plane tickets are booked. I’ll be shooting THE COURAGE JOURNAL the third week of April in Los Angeles. (It feels so good to write that.) This is either going to be a disaster or the greatest thing I'll ever do.

I wrote THE COURAGE JOURNAL with several obstacles (some were self-imposed, some not) in front of me.
1. I'll only be able to take a week to shoot. Work and bills only allow me to film for a week.
2. I would camera operate. I'm terrified of this aspect of filmmaking and I've never directed while holding a camera. I'd have to on this one.
3. Could I get to the end I had created for myself? I had a very specific image that haunted me throughout the writing process and it was the final frame of the film. I needed to write an organic story that ended with that image.
4. Finish the project by 01 May 2005 so that it's eligible for entry into Telluride Film Festival.
5. What's the thing? Every film on a extremely limited budget needs a thing. I decided early on that THE COURAGE JOURNAL's thing would be this: it would be shot in one uninterrupted Steadicam take and the action happens in one room.

The script is done. It goes out to the actors by the end of the week. Let's hope they love it half as much as I do.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Margo

I sent THE COURAGE JOURNAL to my friend Margo a couple of days ago. She’s a smart broad with literary taste and a wicked sense of humor. She was among the few that read the original draft and her notes were by far the most informative of those I showed it to. I trust her judgment and I was terrified to know what she thought about the latest version of my script. But today she sent me this e-mail: “Bernard - you've got it! This is it! It's so much better and just seeping with love. Congratulations- you did it. The conversation is natural, the characters are sympathetic, the story is believable. The ending is perfect. This is a terrific re-write. One day I want the movie about the kid that was supposed to be a girl...but that's for another script. love, Margaret”. I think when THE COURAGE JOURNAL experience is over, I'll write a new script about that kid who was supposed to be a girl. I even thought of a title: LOLLIPOP BOUQUET. Thoughts Margo?

Sunday, March 06, 2005

I Call Him JSlatts

At work tonight, I met John Slattery. (For those of you unaware, he was the actor that played Dennis Martino on the popular NBC television show ED. Or for those who watch SEX AND THE CITY, he was Bill Kelley.) What a nice guy. He was there enjoying a couple glasses of champagne and cheese plate with his wife, Talia Balsam (George Clooney’s ex-wife). I instantly recognized him and I decided to buy their first round. As they were about to pay their bill, I went up to him and told him what a big fan I was (my best friend had seen him in BETRAYAL on Broadway with Liev Schreiber and Juliette Binoche and said that Slattery was, “the best thing on stage”). He shook my hand and I explained to him that I took care of their drinks. They were stunned. On their way out, he came up to me in the middle of the dining room and shook my hand. This time he palmed me some cash. I plan on framing the money and showing it to him when he and I work together on some film project.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Hello Enygmaenterprise

My blog has been discovered by someone I don't know. He left a comment. (Derek take note. He sounds like one of us.) And if you are reading this Enygmaenterprise you chould check out Derek's website. He's a bigger WEST WING fan than I am. It should be noted that I gave up watching WEST WING at the end of the fourth season. I've lost interest because it's gone to hell in a handbasket without Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme. Oh and good luck at film school next year. I've never been a proponent of this, but I hope you do well and find a voice. Remember it's all in the writing.

PS--Let's have an e-mail young man.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

ORSON'S SHADOW

I'm totally psyched. Just found out that my favorite actor/playwright Tracy Letts will be appearing in a new play by Austin Pendleton called ORSON'S SHADOW. (You'd probably remember Austin Pendleton as the court appointed defense attorney in MY COUSIN VINNY, although I remember him as Holly Hunter's boss in HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS.) And the great news? It opens a week from Sunday and I have second row tickets! If you find yourself in NYC go see this show. And if you don't think Mr. Letts is the best actor you've never seen I'll personally refund your money.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Done

I think it's done. My new script--THE COURAGE JOURNAL--that is. Molly is going to read it tomorrow, but I'm at that place in the writing process where I have no idea what to add or subtract from what's in front of me. I can't see the forest from the trees. Hopefully Molly will provide some perspective. Keep your fingers crossed.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

JOE

I’ve been here in New York for over a year and I finally found a coffee place I like. I prefer to use one of the local variety. I respect businesses that are willing to take on large and faceless corporations. I find it menschy.
JOE. That’s the name. It’s in the West Village and I love it. It has the right feel. Not too big not too small; just right. I can see everyone coming in and out.
The food they have really cinched it for me. They sell doughnuts from THE DOUGHNUT PLANT which have the best doughnuts on the planet. Even acclaimed writer/goofball Amy Sedaris sells cupcakes she makes there.
Oh and I even have a little crush on a girl who works there. And if I weren’t worried about never being able to go to this place ever again if she said no, I'd ask her out.