Movie Review: Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom

I’m not going to talk too much about Salo, a 1975 film by Pier Paolo Pasolini that I saw the other night… other than to say it was the single most disturbing film I’ve ever seen in my life.  I’ve seen obscure gorefests in the sake of gross-out, but this was on another level.  Pasolini is one of the master craftsmen of cinema and to put him on such a project makes this film transcend how disturbing this is.  So well made and acted, it is like a piece of priceless art covered in shit (literally).

Even now, I’m unnerved by the film.  The acts committed and the basic story of the film is so outrageous yet ground in reality, it makes you question humanity in a way that I never have before (even more so than Schindler’s List).

I will leave you with the production description on Amazon:

A loose adaptation of the Marquis de Sade’s The 120 Days of Sodom, Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salò is perhaps the most disturbing and disgusting films ever made. It is also one of the most important, offering a blistering critique of fascism and idealism that suggests moral redemption may be nothing but a myth. Criterion presents Salò in its uncut, uncensored version.

Inspirational Artist: Pascal Campion

This was very random… I follow someone on twitter named Jason Thibault and he posted a short video from Drawn, a blog that is a ‘source of inspiration for illustration, animation, cartooning, and comic art.’ 

The video is of Pascal Campion, a truly amazing artist that I had the pleasure of meeting in San Diego at Comic-con.  His work touched a real nerve with me in only the way art can… and I probably looked like a crazed stalker, but started talking to him, gave him a copy of Harbor Moon and asked him if he’d be interested in doing the cover to Bulderlyns – and he said yes!  

To say I”m excited about this would be an understatement… and then to randomly come across this video was pretty cool.  Check it out:

[vimeo w=400&h=225]
Inspirational Artists: Pascal Campion from Onyx Cinema, Inc. on Vimeo.

A Lot Going On

And not much time to do it, let alone update all of my loyal followers.  Don’t fret, here I am.

We’re in the final stages of designing the 35 Movie Minutes website (blame Rob, he’s getting killed at work and it took a sit-down lunch to map out his bio).  Looks pretty rad.  Here’s a screen shot of the contact page:

It is being designed by Mancheva Designs, and coded by Karol Wisniewski.  Once that is done, we will be ready to go live.  Still haven’t done a dry run, but we’ve been on the mics a bunch doing conversational dry runs.

I’m also at the tail end of what will be the beginning of Filmworks Finishing Partners.  I’ve been putting this together with Ken Locsmandi of Filmworks/FX for over a year now and it is picking up some serious steam as of late.  The biggest reason is because we are not trying to raise money in the typical fashion, but are taking the company public.  Mark B. Newbauer from Mike the Pike Productions has been the driving force behind this new direction and he now makes up one-third of the company.  The PPM should get finished today and we should be out to investors Monday/Tuesday for the Pre-IPO.  Pretty exciting stuff… the possibilties of how the company can grow are somewhat limitless.  It all falls on our shoulders to choose films wisely and finish them well.

Also started getting layouts in for Bulderlyns.  We had been in character design for well over 4 months, so it was starting to get frustrating for myself, Karol and the artist.  But we’ve regrouped and even though they are only layouts, I can see this book shaping up to become something special.  It has made me question the script and if it will live up to the artwork.  I just worry about how the lead comes into possession of the Bulderlyn egg, and why.  It was at one point chance and happenstance.  And now it is more a destiny type thing.  I would really like to avoid the Eragon, your dragon chooses you type destiny.  And also the How to Train Your Dragon type.  I may start off one way, then have the knowledgeable person come in at the end and say – that’s all a load of crap.  It hatched because it was ready to hatch.  Or something of that nature.  Don’t want to give you all too much…

Late last night I got another round of character design in from Chase Osborne on Chasing Rabbits.  I was flat out speechless.  Speechless in that I had no notes on them.  They were amazing.  He took all of the descriptions, and the photographs to use as a base and came out with the perfect designs.  I didn’t have a single note – possibly the first time (Karol just yelled at me because I’m nitpicking the digital editions of Harbor Moon too much, although at times he’s way more detailed than I am.).  I love all of the books I’m doing, but I have always believed that Chasing Rabbitsis my best script.  And with the work Chase is doing, and we’re only in character design, this book could be a serious smash.  I believe that strongly in it to make that statement.

Movie Review: Never Let Me Go

This is a film I must say that I didn’t know much about until recently.  I knew who the cast was, and wasn’t that thrilled.  I knew who the director was, and thought it could be cool.  Then I read it was about an elite boarding school and thought it could be completely pretentious.  And then I heard that it was actually a science fiction film and thought maybe I missed something.  And then I realized it was based on a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro and went out and saw it.

It wasn’t until I heard the first part of a podcast from Screenwriter Magazine (if you are into film and don’t listen yet, go subscribe on iTunes) that I stopped the podcast and decided it was only worth listening to more if I saw the movie.

And I was definitely missing something.  This movie is about a boarding school, but it is absolutely not the type of film or story I was expecting.  To say it is about a boarding school is to say Titanic is about a boat.  This boarding school is very special, and therein lies the reason this film is so special.  Why it isn’t a Merchant Ivory film, although its pacing and cinematic elements might remind a viewer of such.

It has taken me a few days to write this review because it is still sitting with me.  I’m not sure I’ve even fully reflected on the film to be honest.  And once I got home I listened to not only that podcast, but an interview with Mark Romanek on NPR and reviews of the film from FilmSpotting and /Filmcast.

Never Let Me Go moves at such a languid pace, it almost comes to a crawl.  Yet, each and every scene is brimming with tension, suspense and a general excitement (on my part) as to what is going to happen next.  And after listening to Romanek, this is what he was going for.  Although the film takes place in England (an alternate history England), it has Japanese sensibilities and this was a very conscious decision from an exacting filmmaker.  For me, it works.  I got sucked in and by the end almost didn’t want to leave.

At its heart the film is a love story.  A love that goes unrequited and is conveyed with one of the most powerful performances I’ve seen in a long time.  I’ve been hearing about how great Carey Mulligan is for a while now (since last year’s An Education), but she always struck me as a boring looking actress who would lean towards pretentious films.  Sorry Carey… you really shine here.  Andrew Garfield does a fine job, and Keira Knightley is serviceable – but they are blown away by Mulligan.  And with Romanek doing so much with so little, in terms of camera moves, dialogue, score, etc… she is the perfect actress for this part.

Without saying a lot Never Let Me Go managed to hit me pretty hard.  I’m still grappling with the ideas it presents about mortality, the soul and what it means to be human.  I have always believed that any film that keeps you thinking, making you question things, etc… after you’ve left the theater is worth its weight in gold.  This will be at the top of my year end lists and I highly recommend it.  Just don’t go in expecting action, or even romance.

Change of Season Brings Tough Times

I don’t know if it is just me, but I get depressed when summer fades into fall.  I’m not one of those people who loves every change of season.  Summer into fall and fall into winter are two of the most depressing times of the year for me.  No matter what is happening.

But for some reason, it seems this year it is having some sort of cosmic effect.  I am going through a tough time emotionally, as I have been sidelined for over 3 weeks with severe tendonitis in my left elbow (I’m a lefty).  I’ve had it since February and it got better than worse over the last few months.  I had an MRI last week and I have no tears or bone chips in there, so hopefully this second cortisone shot does the trick.  I am almost positive he didn’t hit the right spot last time as the pain enveloped my whole arm and I couldn’t pinpoint where it was coming from.  The shot barely even stung, but this time was a whole new ballgame.  It was a lot of pressure, and it was painful – and I have a pretty high pain tolerance.  So I’m hoping it works…  Because training is my salvation.  I used to have lacrosse to keep my mind right, now I fight.  I know myself, and although I’m on meds for bi-polar – it doesn’t cure what I go through. Click site for more.

My girlfriend is also going through some rough times.  She’s at the tail end of a long divorce and custody battle… and some other legal nonsense that has just drained her.  And will continue to do so until it is totally resolved (if one can ever say something like that is ever fully resolved).  She has a daughter to not only support, but take care of and mold into a little human being.  And since she is perhaps my favorite person on earth, I’d say that her mom was doing a pretty awesome job.  On top of work and all that, she is going to graduate school at night.  I can see how drained she is… and wish I were well-off so I could ease the burden.  She will probably read this – so just know that I’ll beat anyone you want up.  And other than some hugs, I’m not worth much.

Also, I just found out today one of the artists I’m working with is going through a serious problem involving their young family.  I can only say that I am deeply saddened and hope and pray that he and his wife find peace and the power to move on.  It sounds trite, but God has a plan for each of us and he challenges us in our own special way.  Some more so than others.

I guess in all that sadness and struggle there are reasons to celebrate.  The last two weeks saw my cousin Joseph get married, the 35th wedding anniversary of my parents, the wedding anniversary of Karol Wisniewski – my left hand man and without whom I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing today and who I promise almost weekly that I’ll pay back in a big way – and the freeing of the miners down in Chile.

Someone much cooler than I once said that a day that goes by without a laugh is a day wasted.  I have been thinking a lot about this recently and have been reading a blog called ‘Overhead Everywhere’ (I actually started out reading ‘Overheard in NY’, but this one pulls the best from all places).  I can honestly say that it is rare that one of the daily posts on there doesn’t make me laugh.  Even if that isn’t for you, find your ‘Overheard Everywhere’ and make it a habit.