Film Essent Archive for January, 2010

Best. Comic. Ever.

Someone posted this to Facebook, and it totally made my day. Maybe even my month.
Ethan Nicolle, a comic/graphic artist, had the idea to collaborate on a comic with his five-year-old brother Malachai after a holiday family visit culminated in the two of them playing a story/game Malachai came up with about Axe Cop and Flute Cop. Ethan was so entranced with Malachai’s storytelling that he worked with him to develop the first four episodes of Axe Cop and put them online, and they are freaking brilliant.
Go check out Axe Man for yourself. You won’t be sorry, I promise. Seriously, how often do I send you anywhere?
Quick, someone option this before Uwe Boll gets the idea to do something with it! Axe Man. Love it.
Update: I read Axe Man to Luka, my six-year-old, and he totally dug it. Luka makes his own comics, most of them about Luka-the-Box, and he sells them (mostly to me) for $2 a pop. He’s clever already, that one. Neve (almost 13), who is really into comic and manga, is now pondering a collaborative effort with her brother, thanks to Axe Man.
So Luka wanted to send an email to Axe Man to say how much he likes it. I helped him send the email, and Ethan responded immediately. Which proves that either (1) Ethan is a very cool guy, or (2) that Ethan, like me and so many of my friends, spends way too much time on the computer and his therefore checking his email constantly, or (3) both. Anyhow, it was very cool of him to respond to Luka so quickly and to be encouraging of Luka’s own ambitions as a comic writer/artist.
Luka also wants to be a pizza man and a mountain climber, dual ambitions that he decided to combine into being a pizza man who delivers pizzas to people who live on top of mountains. I guess he’ll have to squeeze “comic book artist” in there somewhere. He makes movies too (and for the record, many of his movies are better than some of the dreck I’ve sat through at Sundance).

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Update on Darius Goes West

If you’ve read me for very long, you are probably aware that I am a huge fan of the documentary Darius Goes West. If you’re not familiar with this film, it’s about a group of 20-something guys who take their friend Darius, who’s confined to a wheelchair by a devastating form of muscular dystrophy that has already taken his brother’s life and will, eventually, take his, on a cross-country journey. The film charts the friends’ journey as they take Darius on his first ever trip away from his hometown in a rented RV on a quest to make it to Los Angeles to try to persuade the folks at MTV to pimp Darius’s “ride” — a crappy wheelchair that’s falling apart.
Darius Goes West isn’t just a great movie because it’s about a kid with a disease, though; it’s a great movie because it tells a great story, and the story is about the friendship between Darius and these young men, and how that friendship lifts him up and makes something that would have been impossible for him, possible. There are many scenes in this film that are heartwarming, but my favorite by far is the first time Darius goes in the ocean. Suddenly, with his friends supporting him and keeping his head above water, Darius is free of the gravity that binds him. There is a joy on his face — and on the faces of all his friends — as he laughs out loud with a child’s delight.
Now Darius and the team behind DGW are on another journey, this time to raise money for research for Darius’s disease, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, in the Chase Community Giving Challenge. Out of 500,000 causes, the DGW team made it to the second and final round. Moreover, the Ginder family has agreed to match every vote cast for DGW in the Chase Community Giving Challenge with a $1 donation to muscular dystrophy research.
If you haven’t seen Darius Goes West, you can watch the entire film for free right here (and if you like it, buy the DVD, eh?) and while you’re there, you can cast your vote for this most worthy of causes. So go on, head on over there … what’re you waiting for? The DGW team needs YOUR vote to win.

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“I suddenly couldn’t say anything about some of the movies. They were just so terrible, and I’d already written about so many terrible movies. I love writing about movies when I can discover something in them – when I can get something out of them that I can share with people. The week I quit, I hadn’t planned on it. But I wrote up a couple of movies, and I read what I’d written, and it was just incredibly depressing. I thought, I’ve got nothing to share from this. One of them was of that movie with Woody Allen and Bette Midler, Scenes From a Mall. I couldn’t write another bad review of Bette Midler. I thought she was so brilliant, and when I saw her in that terrible production of ‘Gypsy’ on television, my heart sank. And I’d already panned her in Beaches. How can you go on panning people in picture after picture when you know they were great just a few years before? You have so much emotional investment in praising people that when you have to pan the same people a few years later, it tears your spirits apart.”
~ Pauline Kael On Quitting

“My father was a Jerome. My daughter’s middle name is Jerome. But my most vexing and vexed relationship with a Jerome was with Jerome Levitch, the subject of my first book under his stage and screen name, Jerry Lewis.

I have a lot of strong and complex feelings about the man, who passed away today in Las Vegas at age 91. Suffice to say he was a brilliant talent, an immense humanitarian, a difficult boss/interview, and a quixotic sort of genius, as often inspired as insipid, as often tender as caustic.

I wrote all about it in my 1996 book, “King of Comedy,” which is available on Kindle. With all due humility, it’s kinda definitive — the good and the bad — even though it’s two decades old. My favorite review, and one I begged St. Martin’s (unsuccessfully) to put on the paperback jacket, came from “Screw” magazine, which called it “A remarkably fair portrait of a great American asshole.”

Jerry and I met twice while I was working on the book and spoke/wrote to each other perhaps a dozen times. Like many of his relationships with the press and his partners/subordinates, it ended badly, with Jerry hollering profanities at me in the cabin of his yacht in San Diego. I wrote about it in the epilogue to my book, and over the years I’ve had the scene quoted back to me by Steve Martin, Harry Shearer, Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette. Tom Hanks once told me that he had a dinner with Paul Reiser and Martin Short at which Short spent the night imitating Jerry throwing me off the boat.

Jerry was a lot of things: father, husband, chum, businessman, philanthropist, artist, innovator, clown, tyrant. He was at various times in his life the highest-ever-paid performer on TV, in movies, and on Broadway. He raised BILLIONS for charity, invented filmmaking techniques, made perhaps a dozen classic comedies, turned in a terrific dramatic performance in Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy,” and left the world altered and even enhanced with his time and his work in it.

That’s an estimable achievement and one worth pausing to commemorate.

#RIP to Le Roi du Crazy

~ Biographer Shawn Levy on Jerry Lewis on Facebook