Saturday, June 26, 2010
Sorry for my prolonged absence. All I can say is that I was attacked by a massive case of blog-aversion.
A few days ago I took a very slick train ride on the groovy new Acela train from New York's ugliest station (Penn, natch) to Waterford Connecticut, home of the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. Here, over the next week, we're workshopping the musical that we're developing based on my movie "Two Family House". Retitled "Buddy's Tavern" (should have called the movie that as well and for a second I almost did--"Two Family House" is a pun title and clever though it is, it requires a viewing of the film to understand why it's called that...), the musical is frankly a hell of a piece of work if I do say so myself. The composer Kim Oler and lyricist Alison Hubbard have written a big fat score that is alternately funny and sad, moving and always insightful. We started on this process way back in 2002 and its taken us all this time to get to something that I think we all agree is close as can be to a finished theatrical musical. A grueling process but terribly rewarding when it's working well.
Anyway, the O'Neill is located on a lovely piece of land on the Long Island Sound, an old farm that the center's founder, George White, apparently saw from a boat one day and--lo!--immediately conceived of as a retreat for theater people to go to to work on their projects in peace and harmony. (This is legend of course, but I buy it. How else do places like this come into existence except by mad inspiration and fearless, heedless action?) I'm currently typing this in my room--a high-ceilinged upstairs bedroom in a delightful old 19th century manor house (inexplicably called the "White" house...inexplicable because it's painted yellow). I seriously wondered, on the way up, how I would last a full ten days at this place. Now, on day five I can't quite believe I've only five more days left...
Last night, a number of people in the cast of our show who had never seen "Two Family House" decided to watch it. They asked me to come but I declined. It's a strange experience watching your own movie with an audience--oftentimes an unsettling one as you tend, after time, to see it defensively. Then I decided--what the hell. I haven't watched TFH straight through in a long time (I admit to watching sections of it when it pops up on HBO). And I was gratified to see that everyone seemed to be very moved by it, and laughed in the right places as well.
But I had a strange reaction--one that I didn't expect. I literally became the person I was ten years ago when the movie was made. I could feel my thirty-five year old self, remember what kind of person I was then, felt the home that I then lived in with my then girlfriend (now wife), remembered the sights, the smells, the feelings of my life in 1999.
It made me think of the phrase "pieces of time"--Jimmy Stewart's description of what movies really are. For movies have a way of freezing time...of locking events into place forever. Not just the events you see on screen--but the meta-movie, the movie about the making of the movie. Really it was the closest thing to a time machine that I can imagine and the result was to make me incredibly sad in that beautiful way that sadness sometimes brings on...a feeling of the profound loveliness of life and time and the sense of how fleeting it is, how quickly today becomes the past. Orson Welles was once asked by Peter Bogdanovich to join him in watching "Magnificent Ambersons" on television one day. Welles watched a few minutes of it and then left the room. When PB asked him why he left--assuming that he simply didn't like seeing it on the little box instead of on a big screen--Welles roared: "no that's not it! It's that it already happened. It's so long ago and now all of that is gone!"
Though I always loved that story, I never fully felt it...until last night...
Posted by Raymond De Felitta at 4:27 AM
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Behold "City Island's" newest fan. It's none other than the world's foremost, bestselling author James Patterson, author
of at least seven thousand novels in every conceivable genre. Click here to read Mr. Patterson's movie "pick of the week" on his website/blog/whatever. I am truly complimented.
And click here to read a very interesting article on this authorial force of nature that appeared in the New York Times Magazine a few months ago. Patterson is one of those never-say-never/can't/won't/impossible/unheard of types--a man who sees no boundries as to what he can accomplish in life. Quite inspiring even if detective fiction isn't necessarily your kind of thing. Clearly he has good taste in movies. And from the below commercial, one senses the guy has a sense of humor about himself as well...
Posted by Raymond De Felitta at 9:18 AM
Thursday, June 10, 2010
According to this New York TImes article which appeared today, the Metropolitan Transit Authority has redrawn the subway
maps for the first time in ten years...
and put City Island (which had been missing from the map for years) back on the map!
I take complete credit for this. Wouldn't you?
Below is a MUST VIEW...a trip on the subway from 14th Street to 42nd street shot in 1905...
Posted by Raymond De Felitta at 1:08 PM
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Dig New York Metro's piece on how the movie "City Island" is impacting the real estate on..."City Island."
That calls for a bowl of raw Oyster stew, a City Island specialty...
Posted by Raymond De Felitta at 11:30 AM
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Finally, a little good news at the box office. The little indie-that-could City Island has now grossed $5 million after twelve weekends in theatrical release. The Andy Garcia-Julianna Margulies family drama seems to have struck a nerve with audiences around the country despite its limited run. At its widest release, the PG-13-rated film from Raymond De Felitta (The Thing About My Folks) was in 269 theaters. This weekend it will be in 175 U.S. locations.'
So there we are. Heading into our THIRTEENTH week--how many movies last that long? An eighty three percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes "tomatometer" viz:
Consensus: Raymond De Felitta combines warmth, humanity, and a natural sense of humor, and is abetted by Andy Garcia and an excellent ensemble cast.
More people digging the movie each weekend--our per screens actually go UP instead of the way that gravity designed
things--to go DOWN. Clearly word of mouth is working. So is Anchor Bay's marketing. Dig this: last year, four--FOUR!!!--
indie films were sold for theatrical release at festivals. We were one. None has lasted this long in theaters--thirteen weeks
and counting (we seem to have bookings for the film extending well into July). Meanwhile, I spend way too much time driving around LA having meetings--a sure sign that the film is considered a success. (You'd be surprised at how few meetings you have when your film smells like...well, like it smells...)
So why, then, do I occasionally get quearies and comments--all well meaning--that sound something like this?
You're film is wonderful. I wish they could get it out there more.
Or: Too bad they don't have enough faith to advertise it more...
Or: This really should have been a big hit. What happened?
All of these comments have been said to me, some by friends and some by perfect strangers. There is no correct response--
it's one of those "how long have you been beating your wife" questions which automatically make you guilty just in your
attempt to answer the unfounded charge.
I've thought a lot about this and came to realize that what we expect of movies has grown all out of proportion to what, as audiences, are prepareed to give movies. In a time when box office returns are posted like sporting results (this, courtesy of USA Today), people's hunger for a movie focuses mostly on which movie beat the other guy. This naturally skews things a certain way...so that movies that make the most are considered the best, etc.
But the real question remains: what is it we still want out of movies? For them to "win"? Or for them to make us feel like we
"won" by discovering an unforgettable dramatic/comedic experience? When I've heard the above comments, my first instinct is to dismiss them out of hand. But lately I've taken to simply correcting the false perception of what success is in this troubled field. It's important, I think, to always keep in mind two truths about the medium: one is that a good movie will rise, like cream, to the top. It may make its money and name in its intial release...or it may become famous later, as an afterthought. But good is good and eventually proves sturdier than the most cynically manufactured tripe.
The second thing to remember is: the audience is the ultimate judge. And if a movie has a big heart plus a big studio behind it, you get: Jerry McGuire, Ghost, Sleepless In Seattle. Of if a movie has a big heart and not much money but plenty of belief behind it, you get "Big Fat Greek Wedding". Or, for that matter, "City Island". Because the people who enjoy the movie tell others and bring others and sell others on it. And this, I"m convinced, is what accounts for our perfectly steady or rising
per screen averages every damn weekend we're open.
Now let's all get civilized and have a drink. Shall we?
Posted by Raymond De Felitta at 11:17 AM