Wednesday, August 29, 2012

TV Bites: Peking Opera Blues (刀馬旦 - Dao Ma Dan)

Yam Dumplings (芋頭角 - Wu Gok)

Okay, this is part two of the Chinese dim sum double bill. (Actually, it's a quasi-triple bill as the next movie, even though not a Chinese-themed film, is paired with another Chinese dish. So stay tuned!)

Back in 1988, Film Comment magazine published an article on Hong Kong Cinema. Up until then, the only thing I knew about movies from there were the chop-socky and Bruce Lee films my friends into martial arts dug. I knew a little about Jackie Chan, but of the other films I'd seen, I didn't care too much for. But this article got me excited. There was a lot about John Woo, Tsui Hark (pronounced Choy Hok), and Ringo Lam. I jotted down some of the titles of films they mentioned, like A Better Tomorrow, A Chinese Ghost Story, and Peking Opera Blues.

The problem was no "regular" video store had any of these films. So what's a fella to do? I headed down to LA's Chinatown and found a little hole-in-the-wall video store there. I bought a membership and just started from one end of their stack and worked my way through them all, renting five titles at a time. Some were certainly better than others, but I was getting an education in what was happening over there. I also started to go regularly to the movie theater in Chinatown once a week and watch whatever was there.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tickets Available NOW!!! - Young Frankenstein, Sat. October 20th!

Time: Saturday October 20, 2012 · 6:30pm - 9:30pm
Location: Central Market North, 4001 North Lamar, Austin, TX

For my 15th Chef du Cinema class we'll be celebrating Halloween with a 4-course Eastern European meal paired with the Mel Brooks' hilarious comedy Young Frankenstein. The Oscar-nominated parody of classic horror films stars Gene Wilder attempting to correct the mistakes of his great-grandfather, the infamous Dr. Frankenstein (pronounced =“Frahn-ken-steen!”) and successfully reanimating a corpse. The film costars Peter Boyle as the Monster, Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, and Terry Garr.


The Menu:
Peter Boyle's Hungarian Tofutti Cheese Spread with Herring on Bagel Chips
Supa de conopida (Romanian Cauliflower Soup)
Cotlete de porc cu bere (Romanian Pork Chops with Beer)
“Reanimated Vermicelli” Latkes (Romanian Pasta Latkes)
Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (Black Forest Cherry Cake)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Class: Chinatown

Shrimp & Watercress Steamed Wontons w/Orange-Soy Dipping Sauce
Chinese Seaweed & Pork Soup
Soy, Honey & Coriander Grilled Tuna w/Jasmine Rice
Orange-Ginger Chinese Broccoli
Chinese Toffee Apples w/Ice Cream

Well, I'm back from Montreal and having a great time with my 4-month old kitten, Miles. And this is part one of a Chinese dim sum double bill.

When I was living in Los Angeles - over 15 years ago now - almost any wannabe or successful screenwriter (and more significantly any screenwriting teacher) would say without hesitation that Chinatown was the perfect screenplay. In fact, the Writers Guild of America named it the third greatest screenplay ever in a survey in 2005 of its members. (And two of those top three - Chinatown and The Godfather were produced by Robert Evans And, just to keep it all connected, Chinatown scribe Robert Towne also did some polishing on the script of The Godfather.) Even today, almost 35 years since its release, Chinatown is still considered to be one of the great screenplays ever.

But what usually isn't mentioned in these praises is that the screenplay went through a very difficult birth process. Even though Towne gets full credit as the author of the script, director Roman Polanski's incredible input is rarely considered by writers and their teachers. Yes, it suits our writers' egos (which is the butt of many jokes - "How many screenwriters does it take to screw in a light bulb?" Answer: "Why does it 'have' to be changed?"), but I wish they'd teach this to writers on the first day of school. That's just the way it is, kids. Hopefully I'll not mangle this quote too much (because it was in one of several Charlie Rose interviews he did and I'm not going to listen to all of them to find it), but I once heard writer Richard Price describe what being a Hollywood screenwriter is like: "Screenwriting is like the Pony Express and the screenwriter is the horse. If the horse goes lame, you shoot it and get another one. Because the idea is to get the thing out to Los Angeles." Even Towne himself, who has script doctored many others' work, has said, "'Doctoring' is kind of misleading because all scripts are rewritten. Every script has to be rewritten;, it's just a question of whether or not it's going to be rewritten well."

Thursday, August 9, 2012

(shameless self-promotion time again).... Two New Interviews @ Documentary Magazine

Yes, I've been busy....

Here we have two new articles over at Documentary magazine.

First up, is my interview with Keanu Reeves & Chris Kenneally about Side by Side, a documentary about "the end of film," they made.

Next is my interview with Mads Brugger, the director/star of The Ambassador.