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friday favourites 25.03.11

is it just me or does the first quarter of the year go a lot faster than the others? in fact, i think that time actually slows down the further in the year you get, because november seems to go on forever every year, whereas this week, i thought that people were joking when they were talking about it being the first day of spring. (i particularly thought they were joking the next day when we got a snowstorm.) every time i turn around, it's friday again and i'm thinking about things that made the last week good.

in this case, unfortunately, that's a bit of a stretch. snowstorm aside, i got a cold, which is never fun. the truth is, my immune system is pretty awesome- I've gone whole years without so much as a sniffle- but it has a tendency to breakdown like something the day after it's warranty expires on those occasions when it does collapse. Sometimes, this lasts just a few days. Sometimes, it's been known to go on for months. I'm hoping that this is one of those "few days" scenarios.

so, the combination of the weather and feeling under the weather has kept me close to home most of the week. that's reflected in a lot of my choices for my friday favourites, which this week are the product of much laziness around the house, watching movies and surfing the internet (as opposed to most weeks, where there's usually at least one thing that involves me leaving the house).

buckley's pills:: straight up, if it weren't for these, "friday favourites" would probably be getting posted some time next tuesday. i'm already a fan of their eponymous "mixture" for coughs (in fact, in defiance of popular opinion, it's the only cough syrup that's flavour doesn't make me sick), so a few years back, when i was in the midst of rhinovirus hell, i was excited to see that they also made pills to cover all my symptoms. this is a classic example of loyalty at work. there are lots of cold medications, but i never had faith in them until i saw the buckley's name on them.

almost too good for what ails you
now, i'll never use anything else. yes, they work. they come in conveniently separated packages of day and night gel caps that you take at the prescribed times and, in a few days... tah-dah! no more cold. they are the bomb at drying up your runny nose while you're healing, so you can breathe, the nighttime ones go from a half hour of "i'm not sure if it's working) to knocking me out for eight solid hours with a force normally possessed by a prize fighter (and the morning grogginess isn't too bad) and they contain an excellent anti-tussive (that's med-speak for something that makes you stop coughing). that's where things get interesting.


you see, the anti-tussive (word of the day!) dextromethorphan does a few things besides cure that nasty, hacking cough. in high doses, it's a dissociative hallucinogen, along the same lines as ketamine and pcp. now, the good folks at buckley's aren't going to give you something that will make you see the goblins who live in your hair, but even at small dosages, it will make you feel... different. and by different, i don't mean that sort of dopey, sleepy feeling you get from most medications. the first time i took them, i sat at the office most of the day with a goofy smile on my face, happily telling people "i'm on pills". in fact, when i was back to my usual stressed self the next week, my boss suggested that maybe i should just keep taking them. instead of sitting around being miserable and sleeping, you'll likely be sitting (walking is still tricky because your feet are soooooooo farrrrrr awaaaaaaaayyyy that couldn't possibly control them...) and feeling kind of inexplicably happy. the fact that pseudoephedrine, the substance that turns off the tap in your nose, is also a pretty powerful stimulant means that your body won't want to sleep so much as stay awake while you stare at the walls and enjoy the ride.

it may sound like i'm advocating that everyone take the day off work to stay at home and be stoned, but if you're going to be sick, you might as well get what enjoyment you can. although i found it possible to go into the office and i was capable of doing a decent day's work, i wouldn't recommend it unless you have a very positive and understanding relationship with your coworkers. you will not be quite yourself and you will freak them out a little.

john cazale:: who's that, you say? you've seen him. although he only appeared in five films, chances are you've seen at least a couple of them: the godfather, the conversation, the godfather part ii, dog day afternoon and the deer hunter. how's that for a resume?

cazale died of cancer before the deer hunter was even completed and it was a loss that the movie business has never really recognised. thankfully, someone decided to tap the film-going public on the shoulder with a little documentary called "i knew it was you", a memorial to his life and talent and featuring interviews with the luminaries of 70s and 80s cinema (and, in some cases, carrying right on from there). it turns out that people in hollywood can't wait to tell you what an incredible actor cazale was.

whereas most actors would have opted for the role of cunning, calculating michael or hot-tempered sonny in the godfather, cazale played well-meaning, slow-witted fredo, in many ways the most difficult of the three. without his remarkably subtle performance, the character would be an annoying wimp who most people would want to smack. but cazale imbued him with pathos. despite his obvious flaws, you do feel sorry for him, particularly in godfather part ii when he finally, feebly vents his sense of indignation at his younger brother, clinging to the reclining chair that forms his backbone.

there isn't a weak note anywhere in his performances, which is hard to say even among actors whose careers were limited to a few pictures (e.g., james dean). even his relatively small part in the conversation has an amount of depth that comes purely from his acting.

no one ever speaks ill of the dead, but the interviews seem genuinely moving and shockingly consistent. pacino, de niro, streep (cazale's fiancee at the time of his death), coppola, lumet all praise his acting skills, remember his devilish sense of humour, the languid pace with which he enjoyed all of life's finer things. and, no matter how accomplished they are as actors, there is no disguising the genuine emotion they feel recalling him. i particularly recommend getting it on dvd because, in the extra features, you get to see the extended version of the pacino interview, which is, quite honestly, gripping.

raindance:: no, i'm not doing one. raindance is the name of an international film network that runs symposiums around the world, designed to help aspiring filmmakers learn the ins and outs of the craft. the hub of activity is the annual raindance film festival in london, but there are satellite raindances all over the world, conducting classes, having social events and doing screenings of indie projects all in the name of making it just that little bit easier to understand what needs to be done and to meet people in the industry who can help.

previously, raindance in canada was limited to toronto (too many things are), but now there are start-ups in vancouver and montreal. dom and i were interviewed for the rapidly expanding canadian newsletter, talking about conversion and the process of making a film with no independent or government financing.

it's likely that other raindances will start springing up across the country, now that there is more of a secure footing. what a great idea.

a movie based on the book:: boy, those are words that i'm almost never fond of hearing, but i have to admit, against historical evidence, there is one that i'm looking forward to seeing.

apparently paul thomas anderson, the director behind boogie nights, magnolia and there will be blood, who learned at the side of the late robert altman (it generally shows) has bought the rights to make inherent vice, the most recent novel by thomas pynchon, into a movie. i'm a huge pynchon fan, to the extent that i have a pynchon-related tattoo on the back of my neck, so i take any attempt to use his work kind of personally.

normally, if someone told me there was a director aiming to make anything by thomas pynchon into a movie, i'd assume that they were sick and had taken an abundance of buckley's pills. but inherent vice is his most accessible work to date and, despite the fact that the perspective is firmly locked in the head of the central character, it does lend itself to visual interpretation. (as an aside, all of pynchon's novels rely heavily on imagery and could be seen as cinematic, but the interweaving of the stories makes them nearly impossible to render into a film-able screenplay.)

and speaking of the central character, another rumour surrounding the project is that robert downey jr. is very interested, to the extent of rearranging his schedule, in playing the lead role. this is where my cup truly runneth over. i think downey is a talented actor anyway, but there are a lot of talented actors. what stands out here is that there is probably no one on earth who would be a better match for the role of doc, a former hippie turned seedy (and unsuccessful) private investigator at the end of the sixties in california. the character, much like downey, is likeable despite his obvious vices- primarily sloth and lust, as well as a penchant for indulgence in "substances". it's simply a match made in movie heaven as far as i'm concerned. 

after a nearly unbroken streak of forgettable (waterland), bumbling (the colour purple) and disastrous (the bonfire of the vanities) adaptations of skillfully written novels, finally, there is one that excites me. of course, they haven't started filming or even formally confirmed that the project is moving forward yet, but hey, so far, so good.

and that's the round-up for this week. personally, i'm looking forward to getting some rest and
getting rid of this nasty bug in the coming week. plus, of course, the raindance newsletter article should be out and it's always nice to see your name in print without the word "accused" attached to it, no? this should also be the week that we finally get the sound wrapped up for conversion, meaning that there are only a couple of short steps left to having a whole feature film that we can submit to festivals, send to distributors... all of those things that allow people around the world to see and pass judgment on what we did.

by way of apology for last week's parade of musical mediocrity, here's a little remix of "friday" to kick your weekend off right:

and of course, i have the cat pic of the week. this is one that i snapped on that single day when it looked like spring had arrived and there were birds chirping in the trees outside. arthur, as you can see by his absence, is not so interested in birds unless they're already dead and in the can, but the younger ones in the house are quite fascinated. left to right you have: seth, hecubus (who's just interested in being social, really), simon and julia

have a great week!


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i agree, smedley [or, smokers totally saved our planet in 1983]

so this conversation happened [via text, so i have evidence and possibly so does the canadian government and the nsa].

dom and i were trying to settle our mutual nerves about tomorrow night's conversion screening, remembering that we've made a fine little film that people should see. which is just about exactly what dom had said when i responded thusly:

me :: i agree smedley. [pauses for a moment] did you get that here?

dom :: no?

me :: the aliens who were looking at earth and then decided it wasn't worth bothering with because people smoked even though it was bad for them?
come to think of it, that might mean that smokers prevented an alien invasion in the seventies.

dom :: what ?!?!?

me :: i've had wine and very little food. [pause] but the alien thing was real. [pause.] well, real on tv.

dom :: please eat something.

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