Monday, July 26, 2010
Long ago, in my so-called "salad days" (I prefer to think of them as the "pre-dinner drink days") I was friends and collaborators with a group of young film-heads who were working on NYU short films. The work was strictly volunteer and the resulting films were--each and every one--catastrophes of the kind that only film students can produce. Which is to say ambitious, well meaning and totally incomprehensible.
A number of us working on the films were not NYU students, but simply enthusiasts looking for any way to be on a set and learn our craft a bit. I usually performed the function of First Assistant Director, occasionally Unit Production Manager. The experience was invaluable--I learned quickly (and efficiently) how to schedule a film and how a good set was run. One of my non-NYU cohorts was a gifted soundman/editor/all around film buff/enthusiast named Leopold Wurm. In addition to possessing one of the finest names I'd ever heard, we were blessed to share the same sense of humor (and horror) about what we were doing. Inevitably, I made my own short film and Leo truly co-made it with me; I remember several sleepless night in D.A. Pennebaker's editing suite on West 86th Street desperately preparing for a mix that we seemed perpetually unready for (Leo could and did perform every technical function on a film, most of which I could never quite master or even understand; virtually none of those functions still exist in today's digital world. Ah well. Progress).
Leo and I and another couple of collaborators celebrated the end of the successful sound mix the following evening at an Italian restaurant near my then home on MacDougall Street in Greenwich Village, drinking strong cocktails, smoking strong tobacco, eating heavy Veal, weaving about and generally making grandiose pronouncements about our futures. My short film--which helped get me into the American Film Institute graduate program (along, it must be said, with a written reccomendation from a major financial doner) was called "Norman Mailer's Children". Shot in black and white, on 16mm, it was a bastard child rip-off of Jim Jarmusch's very much "then" sensibility--this was the mid-eighties before the true explosion of indie cinema...or perhaps it's fairer to say, before Hollywood and the mainstream culture gave a shit about indie filmmakers. (The film, by the way, is lost...except for a threadbare VHS copy of it that I possess but am too afraid to put into a VHS machine...)
Many years passed. The glory of the internet has brought me and Leo back in touch. Now a producer living and working in England, Leo has been vigilant and generous about sending me materials and photos about my movies as they pass through the UK. Viz:
Ah--but does that prove that "City Island" is truly open in England? Well, if you have any doubt:
How I love London: the phonebooths (or "phoeboxes" as they Englishly call them), the Taxi's, the word "boot", the silly accents. When do I get to live there? And furthermore:
Don't they do this sort of thing rather well? (Aren't I sounding like them? I mean, what's with "rather well"? Awfully chatty, what mate?) Finally:
A million thanks, Leo. Next time we're both in New York I'll buy you dinner at that Italian joint on MacDougall that we closed on that long forgotten night in the mid 1980's. Maybe that nice girl at the next table who we got into a friendly kind of argument with extolling the merits of "Touch Of Evil" over "Kane" will be there again. The name of the restaurant was Monte's. The name of the girl eludes me. I wonder where she is...
Posted by Raymond De Felitta at 11:57 AM
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
"City Island" opens in the United Kingdom on July 26th--or on 26 July as they'd probably put it in "Jolly Olde". Our publicity has been unusually thorough and hopes are high that the film will crossover the Atlanti-- like the proverbial QE2 in the night--exciting English speaking audiences in Europe, albeit English speakers with that charming, funny accent.
Click here to read another "Guardian" piece on the movie--this one an interview with Andy Garcia. The English press is notoriously tough and there are moments in this piece that I'm not at all sure are fair to my friend and collaborator--he makes much of Andy's comment that being a producer on the movie means that he gets paid last. And so what? He's right. I can attest to that, being a producer on the movie and still waiting for half my salary. In general, with this piece, I feel the need of the interviewer to stir Andy up, to arouse some controversy which may or may not be present. Nonetheless, Andy handles himself with aplomb and one way or another I have to respect the position the author of the article is in; as a dramatist I know that it's impossible to write without conflict inherent in a situation. How can journalists churn out these actor-puff-pieces with stars who lead uncontroversial lives? Indeed, there are a few charmingly desperate moments in which the interviewer tries to insinuate that there is something controversial about Andy leading an uncontroversial life...
Below is a clip from Renny Harlin's as yet unreleased (unfinished?) film in which my friend and collaborator plays the President Of Georgia (Russia, that is).--and a very good job he makes of it (as they would say in "Merrie Olde...") God love you, AG. I hope the payday for the below made up for the shortfall of making "City Island". )
Posted by Raymond De Felitta at 4:04 PM
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Welcome to London, as we electronically cross the Atlantic for a peek at the venerable paper, The Guardian, which last week profiled Emily Mortimer, who said so many nice things about "City Island" that besides clicking on the above to read the article I'm going to print a bit, just so I can see the words in cold type. Viz:
"It is the things the Italian-American family at the heart of City Island do not tell each other that underpin this indie comedy, which has proved a surprise word-of-mouth hit in America. Mortimer says it is a "really sweet, old-fashioned" movie that has chimed with "unpretentious people who like going to watch a good film." Nobody doesn't like it, even if you're a bit snobby about what you watch."
Thanks babe. And now for something completely different, he says Pythonically. Guess what news came in the electronic mail today?
Congratulations to Andy Garcia (Best Actor/Feature Film) and Dominik Garcia-Lorido (Best Supporting Actress/Feature Film), for being nominated for the 25th Annual Imagen Awards. A luncheon event is scheduled for Sunday, August 15th at Century Plaza Hotel.
If you're like me and never heard of the Imagen Awards before today then the below from Wikipedia will be helpful. Viz:
The Imagen Awards were established in 1985 to encourage and recognize the positive portrayal of Latinos in all media and to increase Latino representation at all levels of the entertainment industry.
Being an awards whore, I'm delighted that we've been nominated even though I'd not previously heard of this particular awards show. Perhaps they have one for Italians?
Posted by Raymond De Felitta at 1:35 PM
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Selective vision is very useful. For instance, I can look at the Australian box office tally and be utterly delighted that my three favourite films of the year thus far occupy spots one, seven and ten, and ignore the remaining films which I either (a) didn't see, usually deliberately, or (b) loathed. Oh, speaking of great films, the word of mouth on CITY ISLAND has been amazing, and I finally caught up with it the other night. It's one of those situations where the word of mouth was dead-on. CITY ISLAND is absolutely brilliant, and one you'll kick yourself for missing at the cinema when you catch it on DVD. So see it now!
Ain't It Cool News
Posted by Raymond De Felitta at 9:42 AM
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Do some of these titles seem like Oscar longshots? They are. But awards voters last year recognized good work in "offbeat" pics as varied as "In the Loop" and "The Messenger," so hope springs eternal. It's definitely worth mentioning some smaller 2010 films that have garnered many fans, like Sony Classics' "Please Give" and "Mother and Child," Magnolia's "I Am Love" and Anchor Bay's "City Island..
Well I always new I loved and respected the folks at Variety and not just because of Ronnie Sheib's early positive notice
posted when City Island premiered at Tribeca last year.
But the above mention of our movie as a possible awards contender really knocked me out--click here to read the whole piece.
And if the lovely folks at Variety hadn't already earned my undying devotion and inestimable love and respect, click here to read a terrific piece from Weekly Variety which touts "City Island" as one of this years bona fide indie success stories.
And now, in honor of Louis Armstrong's birthday, which it is (sort of) this weekend...
Posted by Raymond De Felitta at 11:44 AM