March 27, 2005 15:58Dying On Stage
I've been wanting to continue with my coverage of what's what with the Paddywacking project, but lately I've had a hard time tearing myself away from CNN's round-the-clock coverage of Terri Schiavo's demise and the punditry from both the pro-death and the pro-sticking-your-nose-up-other-people's-asses sides of the debate. Everyone on the network from Larry King to that mighty pillar of journalistic intellectualism, Carol Costello, has had their own daily (sometimes hourly) crack at the story. Good thing there's no other news happening in the world. Anywhere. At all. Unless Terri's feeding tube is reinserted soon, I fear there will be no choice for Western civilization but to turn its attention back to those tiresome headline hogs: war, the economy, and the environment. That or Carol Costello can start reading the funnies out of the morning papers live on the air. That should keep her busy for awhile, because, you know, Garfield uses all those big words and stuff.
In other non-news, the post-Oscar buzz has finally subsided. And now that the whole world has collectively forgotten who was nominated, not to mention who won, the Academy can get back to planning how they'll make next year's ceremony even more boring. I only mention this because it has particular significance to me. The awards for the 2004 film year were particularly trying for me thanks to the multiple nominations for Alexander Payne's movie, Sideways. Thankfully, with the passage of time, fewer and fewer people persist in telling me I look like Paul Giamatti. Though terribly flattering in a bearded, balding, pudgy sort of way, it gets old after awhile. Now that the dust has settled, I look forward to comparisons to Brad Pitt resuming as per usual.
But I don't have that much to complain about when it comes to the Oscars. Sure the awards themselves sucked, but they also managed to pull in an extra fifty bucks for me. Called in as a ringer for an Oscar party I didn't even attend, my brain was tapped for best guesses as to what would take home a gold statuette. My picks smoked the competition, not because I was good at choosing the most deserving nominees, but because I was good at selecting who would win the political race. One tip for all who might find themselves mixed up in an Oscar gambling pool: Best Editing always goes to the longest picture. Bet the farm on it. I think the logic goes that whoever has to suffer through the most footage earns the award.
Despite the fact that the winner shared her gambling-vice cash with me, there were still accusations of foul play. After all, I'm a film industry peon who spends all his spare time watching movies and actually gives a shit about petty rubbish like the Oscars. It hardly seems fair to go consulting someone who can make an educated guess about who might win in the short documentary film category. Even the winners didnít go to see their film. Yet there I was, with an inkling of a notion that proved correct again and again in all the nothing categories that never made it to a full-blown stage presentation. After getting a dozen right in a row, I was starting to scare even myself, because, after all, who gives a fuck? Apparently, I do. I've never been a ringer before, and entering a competition with a grossly unfair advantage is a new experience for me. At last I know what it feels like to be the Olympic men's basketball dream team. All of them, all at once. Minus the huge regular season paycheck and the homoerotic group showering.
March 11, 2005 03:28No, It's Not Actually Made Of Ice
I'm not a location scout. But last month I felt it was my duty to make an excursion out to a couple of obscure Montreal locales to snap photos for the benefit of the Irish half of the Paddy Whacking development team.
They'd come over recently to debate the merits of the material as it stood at that time and do some research, but our tour of the city's underbelly failed to include two key locations. Both figure prominently in the story, and I was compelled to share a virtual tour with them so we would all know what we were writing about.
The Black Rock is a monument to the Irish immigrants who died on the fever ships on their way to a new life in North America during the potato famine. Thousands perished after arriving in Quebec, as did many here who tried to care for them through this epidemic. The rock is placed in the middle of what used to be the cemetery where so many of the victims were buried. Currently the penultimate scene of the series is set there during an official gathering of the local Irish community. Depending on when the shoot happens however, I would never be surprised to see this same scene relocated to take advantage of Montreal's St. Patrick's Day parade, the largest in North America. We'll just have to see when the time comes, but until then, here are some photos of a corner of the city even most locals have probably never seen.
I felt it was particularly important for me to make it out to the ice bridge because we have pivotal scenes set there at the beginning and end of the series. All sorts of nefarious goings on happen, at least in our fictional world, out on that barren stretch of pavement that stretches over the St. Lawrence. If you're familiar with this, the most obscure bridge off the island of Montreal, it's probably because you've crossed it in its context as a foot and bike path. There's enough space for vehicles to get on, but only city vehicles are authorized to do so for maintenance purposes (specifically to change the bulbs in the lights, I imagine). Its actual function is to break up the ice flow coming down the river in winter, before it hits the bigger and much more expensive Champlain Bridge.
That's about all I know about the ice bridge. What I didn't know was that it's closed to foot and bicycle traffic in winter. Which is why I had to break in to get these shots. Although I'm happy to commit a misdemeanor in the name of fair and accurate screenwriting, I was hardly alone in doing so. There was already a convenient hole torn in the wire fence at the top of a muddy embankment, allowing awkward but reliable access to those who would not be deterred from crossing at any time of the year. Indeed, I passed several joggers and bike riders as a strolled from one side to the other and back again, firing off shot after shot of bland industrial architecture. I won't bore you with all of them, but these should give you a sense of what it's like out over the river in February.
The most interesting thing to occur on my tour happened when I heard a slow, steady crashing noise on one side of the bridge. I ran over in time to see a huge sheet of ice breaking apart on one of the supports. Only moments later, another sheet came bearing down on the same spot, so I whipped out my camera and grabbed these action shots showing exactly what an ice bridge does during a Canadian winter.
In other news (at least in news I find interesting), The Passion of the Christ is getting recut and reissued. The new edit of the movie is supposed to remove six minutes of violence so as to make it a more family-friendly snuff film. I doubt the tinkering will end there since, these days, no cut of a movie is the final cut. The director has had his cut. This, I suppose, is the marketer's cut. The producers will probably have another stab at it. And eventually we can all look forward to the caterer's cut with plenty of missing Last Supper footage reinserted.
I'm sure, as the years go by, more violence will be deleted with each subsequent release, and eventually the film will be:
Judas fingers Jesus. Jesus is busted.
Children hunt for Easter eggs.
This will be convenient to all those who like their pop culture salvation to come in three-minute doses. Sure, we want to be saved, but does it really have to kill and entire afternoon? Me, I think I'll stick to my own particular brand of religious cinema. If people can find the Lord in a piece of toast, I can go looking for him here.
And before I sign off, I'll point you all at the movie night minutes, which is up to date for the first time in months. Go make snide comments at my expense. That's what the forum is for.