Leonard Cohen talks work at 80

“You kind of keep your tools sharp by working all the time. We are professionals. You can’t wait for inspiration. I try to do it every day. When something good comes, you have to be prepared to polish it, carve it and chisel it, that’s the work. But the actual intention, what you are really going to be writing about, that’s going to come up from a really authentic place that is deep and over which you exercise no conscious control.”
~ Leonard Cohen talks work at 80

Fools lament the decay of criticism. For its day is long past. Criticism is a matter of correct distancing. It was at home in a world where perspectives and prospects counted and where it was still possible to take a standpoint. Now things press too closely on human society. The “unclouded,” “innocent” eye has become a lie, perhaps the whole naive mode of expression sheer incompetence. Today the most real, the mercantile gaze into the heart of things is the advertisement. It abolishes the space where contemplation moved and all but hits us between the eyes with things as car, growing to gigantic proportions, careens at us out of a film screen. And just as the film does not present furniture and facades in completed forms for critical inspection, their insistent, jerky nearness alone being sensational, the genuine advertisement hurtles things at us with the tempo of a good film. Thereby “matter-of-factness” is finally dispatched, and in the face of the huge images across the walls of houses, where toothpaste and cosmetics lie handy for giants, sentimentality is restored to health and liberated in American style, just as people whom nothing moves or touches any longer are taught to cry again by films. The paid critic, manipulating paintings in the dealer’s exhibition room, knows more important if not better things about them than the art lover viewing them in the showroom window. The warmth of the subject is communicated to him, stirs sentient springs. What, in the end, makes advertisements so superior to criticism? Not what the moving red neon sign says—but the fiery pool reflecting it in the asphalt.

~ Walter Benjamin, “One-Way Street,” 1930s

David Simon on television at this moment

“At the moment, when you’re airing episode-by-episode, making those arguments is irrelevant. People are either digging the characters or they’re in it as an adventure or they’re watching it for what they’re getting—or they’re not. If you lose them, you lose them. We lost a lot of people on “Treme.” But to me, that story was as well-executed as anything I’ve ever done. I look at it, and I think: It’s on the shelf. We made it. We got to say a lot of what we intended to say, and we executed at a very high level. It’s there, thank God it’s there.  And it’s all you can do. I know I can’t write something that gets you an audience the moment I put it on, and especially if everyone is presumptive of what the reasons are for it from the very beginning. But what I can do is I can make a film. I can try to get from the beginning to the middle to the end. I can put it up on a shelf. I can hope that in the weird lending library that is modern television—that is HBOGo, that is Netflix—because it’s up on the shelf people will find it. If we’ve executed well, the story will eventually prevail and find a place.”
~ David Simon on television at this moment

Thom Andersen To Pedro Costa

“Film lived in a country or a land or a planet called reality and that is not the case today. There’s no reality anymore today. Everybody is reconciled with reality, that’s what happens today. I mean reality: tables, people walking, dogs, cars. You have to go back to the old days to see a door, a kitchen, a window, a small kid, some tears, things like that. I miss a world. I miss the kids, the dogs. I miss the street corners. I’m bored with realism today. You have to concentrate on the fight with reality. For me it’s a fight.” 
Pedro Costa And Thom Andersen In Conversation

Ronda Rousey On Attempts At Body-Shaming

“I have this one term for the kind of woman my mother raised me to not be, and I call it a do nothing bitch. A DNB. The kind of chick that just tries to be pretty and be taken care of by someone else. That’s why I think it’s hilarious if my body looks masculine or something like that. Listen, just because my body was developed for a purpose other than fucking millionaires doesn’t mean it’s masculine. I think it’s femininely badass as fuck because there’s not a single muscle on my body that isn’t for a purpose because I’m not a do nothing bitch. It’s not very eloquently said but it’s to the point and maybe that’s just what I am. I’m not that eloquent, but I’m to the point.”
~ Ronda Rousey On Attempts At Body-Shaming

Woody Allen To Sam Fragoso For NPR

Would you consider yourself a good person?
I would consider myself … decent as I got older. When I was younger I was less sensitive, in my 20s. But as I got older and began to see how difficult life was for everybody, I had more compassion for other people. I tried to act nicer, more decent, more honorable. I couldn’t always do it. When I was in my 20s, even in my early 30s, I didn’t care about other people that much. I was selfish and I was ambitious and insensitive to the women that I dated. Not cruel or nasty, but not sufficiently sensitive.
You viewed women as temporary fixtures?
Yes, temporary, but as I got older and they were humans suffering like I was … I changed. I learned empathy over the years.
~ Woody Allen To Sam Fragoso For NPR

“Watchmen”‘s Alan Moore At His Alan Moore-iest

“To my mind, this embracing of what were unambiguously children’s characters at their mid-20th century inception seems to indicate a retreat from the admittedly overwhelming complexities of modern existence. It looks to me very much like a significant section of the public, having given up on attempting to understand the reality they are actually living in, have instead reasoned that they might at least be able to comprehend the sprawling, meaningless, but at-least-still-finite ‘universes’ presented by DC or Marvel Comics. I would also observe that it is, potentially, culturally catastrophic to have the ephemera of a previous century squatting possessively on the cultural stage and refusing to allow this surely unprecedented era to develop a culture of its own, relevant and sufficient to its times.”
~ “Watchmen”‘s Alan Moore At His Alan Moore-iest

Producer Mynette Louie, on Facebook

“Between [DuVernay not directing ‘Black Panther’] & Michelle MacLaren leaving ‘Wonder Woman,’ maybe it’s time we stop using the superhero-movie-hiring as a measure of a director’s success, and instead, take this as a sign that Hollywood needs to greenlight better movies that women with higher creative standards actually want to direct (and see).”
~ Producer Mynette Louie, on Facebook

“Cloud Atlas” Novelist David Mitchell

“Rjukan is a town in Norway and it sits at the bottom of a deep valley. For six months a year no sunlight falls on it because of its location. About 120 years ago one of the town’s founders had this pipe dream of putting up mirrors on the mountainside in order to beam down light to Rjukan. The technology wasn’t there, but about two years ago an artist installed these very large solar-panelled mirrors into the side of the valley that follow the sun as it moves across the sky. Now a rectangle of light about the size of a tennis court shines on to the town. I want to stand in that rectangle of light.”
~ “Cloud Atlas” Novelist David Mitchell

Fredric Jameson On William Gibson, Cyberspace and “Neuromancer”

“Cyberspace is a literary invention and does not really exist, however much time we spend on the computer every day. There is no such space radically different from the empirical, material room we are sitting in, nor do we leave our bodies behind when we enter it, something one rather tends to associate with drugs or the rapture. But it is a literary construction we tend to believe in; and, like the concept of immaterial labor, there are certainly historical reasons for its appearance at the dawn of postmodernity which greatly transcend the technological fact of computer development or the invention of the Internet.”
~ Fredric Jameson On William Gibson, Cyberspace and “Neuromancer”

Manohla Dargis on Ted 2

“At one point in the comedy dead zone known as Seth MacFarlane’s Ted 2, the title character—a stuffed toy bear voiced by Mr. MacFarlane—and his dimwitted best friend, John (Mark Wahlberg), visit a comedy club to engage in a favorite pastime: throwing bleak improv ideas at the comics onstage. So, seated in the back of the auditorium while cloaked in darkness, the friends start shouting out suggestions like 9/11, Robin Williams and Charlie Hebdo to the unnerved comics. The topics don’t mean anything to Ted and John, who, like Mr. MacFarlane, take great pleasure in making others squirm. They could have just as easily yelled gang rape, the Holocaust and dead puppies.”
Manohla Dargis on Ted 2

Wesley Morris On Ted 2

“You never expect a movie to hurt you. Disappoint? Dismay? Depress? Fine. But when a movie has a field day asserting the humanity of a fake toy bear at the expense of your own, it hurts. I was led to believe, in part by the posters, that I was getting a movie about a character who’d be masturbating or urinating with his back to us. They should’ve turned Ted around since the emissions are aimed at the audience… MacFarlane doesn’t appear to believe in anything. He just likes to mess around with things that still have value without seeming to get whether that value is greater than his jokes. It’s as if he doesn’t really know what he’s laughing at or care what race and sexuality and gender are. It’s as if he doesn’t know women or black people — just white comedy writers who love to make fun of them.”
~ Wesley Morris On Ted 2

Jason Reich on the climactic episodes of “Sense8″

“I dunno, you guys, I am not often so deeply moved by a manipulative montage, but the Wachowskis are doing a pretty good job of pushing my buttons. If ‘Sense8′ is about what it’s like to have the feels all the time, this show has me convinced I’m a pretty advanced human being.”
~ Jason Reich on the climactic episodes of “Sense8″

Kevin Smith

“Social media–Twitter, especially–allows me to shine my best. It took me 20 years to learn how to move a camera around. I’m not a born film-maker; I’m a born storyteller. The idea of having to show people a story with pictures took me a long time to learn. It was like punching through water. If I can just get out of the water and tell you the story, we can get it done way more entertainingly. Filmmaking is the only art form where you say, ‘I wanna express myself. Give me $10 million and Ben Affleck.’ As the years went on I got better at telling stories visually. But all along what I could do was talk. If podcasts were movies, I’d be up there with Spielberg, dude.”
~ Kevin Smith

Nayman on Seinfeld

“Maybe it’s that grin, Jerry’s default setting as both character and actor, which explains why I hate ‘Seinfeld’ (and Seinfeld). It’s the thin rictus of a frontrunner whose indifference and ignorance is never feigned. Instead, it’s triumphal, overlaid by the faintest hint of self-deprecation. Jerry and George are such vain, self-centred assholes that they can’t hold on to the beautiful girlfriends who keep falling at their feet, or else they beg our sympathy as they scheme to extricate themselves from these women’s interchangeable embraces. It may also be that my antipathy to ‘Seinfeld’ comes out of the same sense of recognition that makes others love it: that I feel implicated by all the glib, shallow goings-on. But the reason I love ‘The Simpsons’ and ‘Louie’ is because they present a gallery of human types. Homer Simpson doesn’t change, but that doesn’t keep Lisa from trying to move that needle; Louis CK has taken the basic Seinfeld model of a successful stand-up ‘playing himself’ in New York City and torqued it into a strangely humane vision of human frailty which locates cruel comeuppance as just one of many points on its moral compass. And ‘Broad City,’ a spiritual sister to Louie, reclaims the lazy misogyny of Seinfeld in its vision of twin Elaine Beneses who wouldn’t be caught dead wasting time with the likes of George Costanza.”
~ Adam Nayman Gives Good Jerry-Hate

Paul Schrader, via Facebook

Speaking last night with Criterion’s Peter Becker about the democratization of artistic expression. We are not only all artists, we are socially compelled to communicate our artistry. Everyone publishes their writing (facebook, twitter), makes music (music maker apps), is a photographer (instagram), can dance (rave), sing (karaoke, rap), write criticism (ten best lists), make movies. It’s getting hard to hear each other above the noise we’re making. I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but is, as we now say, a thing.
~ Paul Schrader, via Facebook

Bilge Ebiri On The “Refinement” Of Mad Max: Fury Road

Fury Road is, yes, a fantastic piece of action filmmaking–breathless, beautiful, and bold–but it’s also something else. Through its sheer, spectacular drive, it puts me in the same kind of reverie that slow cinema does. One of the great pleasures of watching the static long-take aesthetic–in a film like, say, Tsai Ming-Liang’s What Time Is It There? or Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Distant–is the way it focuses our attention on small details that gain monumental importance: a pair of wet socks on a radiator, or an otherwise irrelevant small fish swimming around in an aquarium. I would argue that for all the sublime beauty of the nonstop action in Fury Road, it possesses a similar kind of refinement.In movies like these, the absence of conventional dramatic development makes us lock in on the smallest of gestures and incidents–not out of poverty, mind you, but because great filmmakers teach us to see all over again. Their work transforms us, changes our inner rhythms and points us in all sorts of directions we may never have noticed. And yes, a film by George Miller at his best does that same thing. Even if, instead of long takes of people staring off into space, he’s giving us fast cuts of trucks and motorcycles flying through the air.”
~ Bilge Ebiri On The “Refinement” Of Mad Max: Fury Road

Quote Unquotesee all »

Do you outline plays before you start to write them?

Not at all. I don’t know what kind of characters my plays will have until they…well, until they are. Until they indicate to me what they are. I don’t conceptualize in any way. Once I’ve got the clues I follow them—that’s my job, really, to follow the clues.

What do you mean by clues? Can you remember how one of your plays developed in your mind—or was it a line-by-line progression?

Of course I can’t remember exactly how a given play developed in my mind. I think what happens is that I write in a very high state of excitement and frustration. I follow what I see on the paper in front of me—one sentence after another. That doesn’t mean I don’t have a dim, possible overall idea—the image that starts off doesn’t just engender what happens immediately, it engenders the possibility of an overall happening, which carries me through. I’ve got an idea of what might happen—sometimes I’m absolutely right, but on many occasions I’ve been proved wrong by what does actually happen. Sometimes I’m going along and I find myself writing “C. comes in” when I didn’t know that he was going to come in; he had to come in at that point, that’s all.
~ Harold Pinter

“I love Los Angeles. Have I said that? I love it all. The earnestness. The artifice. The blowsy, sunny beauty. The bland, bland, pleasant weather.  The drama of traffic. I love that people don’t know how to make conversation and can’t recognize a joke at a hundred paces. I love that people care about silly things and embrace ridiculousness wholeheartedly. I had a serious conversation with a good friend about his fascination with channeling, for example. Channeling. “I don’t think you’re patient enough for it,” he said and all I could think about was Shirley MacLaine with ectoplasm coming out of her head. Of course I’m fucking patient I thought. I’m fucking spiritual. Shove that up your namaste. Ha ha ha. I love that I’ve become desperately un-English, in the immortal words of my friend Giles, and yet not quite American.”
~ Bumble Ward In The Present Los Angeles Moment