October 10th, 2009


An epic Terry Gilliam interview

Terry Gilliam speaks of Heath Ledger, the scramble to save the film The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, how he grew up to become a giggling subversive, and the craziness of Hollywood. The following, about the consequences of Ledger's death, is just one small part, but it's a part that choked me up at times:
As well as dealing with their grief, the crew had to be immediately practical. Initially Gilliam thought he would have to shut the film down, as did the insurance company. It was [cinematographer Nicola] Pecorini who kept pushing. But then Gilliam had an idea: Johnny Depp, a long-term friend and collaborator, was also a good friend of Ledger’s. 'I just called him, as a friend, to say, “We’re f***ed.” Johnny said, “Whatever you want, I’ll be there.” Johnny has a huge heart.’ As it transpired, Depp’s commitment meant everything, because without it the money would have been withdrawn and the film closed down.

But Gilliam still didn’t know what he was going to do. 'Not a clue,’ he says. 'Zero. Zip. Nothing. Number one, there’s no way anybody could replace Heath. I also knew that an actor who was even close to having his skills would be tied up doing something else. So I said, OK, we’ll get three people because he goes through the mirror three times.’

So he started calling. 'And suddenly there’s Jude Law and there’s Colin Farrell. It was three good friends who came to the rescue, out of love and friendship and respect for Heath. How that was going to work, I still didn’t know.’ There was also a feeling that nobody wanted the Joker to be Heath Ledger’s last role.

But Johnny Depp’s huge heart could not get him out of the fact that he was owned by the Michael Mann film Public Enemies, which was about to start shooting. It was only because Public Enemies was delayed by a week that Gilliam managed to get him at all, and even then for only one day.

'Providence intervened,’ Gilliam says of the delay. 'I had to be incredibly pragmatic after Heath died. It wasn’t easy. But there was a sense of freedom: I would think, let’s try that because if we don’t do something we’re dead in the water, and if we try that it might work, it might not. Heath took a certain responsibility off my shoulders by not turning up for work.’

Gilliam says he was surrounded by a committee of people all trying to find a way through it. On top of everything else, they were in mourning. 'This was a deeply loved human being, and he’s not there any longer...'
Me 2 (B&W)

A day to recover

Today is a recovery day. Difficult, sometimes weird week: that's what I just had. But since getting home from work last night, I've:

* Happily, quickly visited with Mike Russell, who returned a couple of my CDs I'd let him borrow and then happily perused my eclectic film score collection;

* Happily, longly visited over the phone with elionwyr, who like me needed a pick-me-up;

* Happily slept;

* Happily listened to the Cort and Fatboy podcast, specifically their and Mike's long discussion about all sorts of film-, TV-, and Halloween-related thoughts*;

* Happily, unexpectedly got an e-mail I really didn't think I'd get (Cryptic Chris is cryptic);

* Happily realized I can TAKE IT EASY RIGHT NOW. Wanna nap? I nap. Wanna walk? I walk. Wanna nap more? I nap more.

Time for a good day.

* That's Part II of the Friday show. Want more? Here's Part I, including David "Bad Azz Mofo" Walker being bad-ass and funny.

Reading has been happening

On a strong reading kick: had to rebuild my reading muscles, I think, after quite a bit of time earlier this year when I was having trouble motivating myself through books. I baby-stepped for a bit of the last couple of months with easy-to-read stuff, and have since been trying to read somewhat more unexpected stuff. Also I'm reading books I've had, unread, for years, because I figure a lot of them I'd only want to read once and then sell or give away, so why not try them now? Though that led to me re-reading The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis and deciding I wanted to keep that. After all, "Some books are to be tasted, others swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested." Plus, hey, it's a small book. Doesn't take up too much space.

I'm very happy that my book digesting lately's included The Demolished Man, the first Alfred Bester I've read. It impressed me how modern this nearly 60-year-old novel is; except for a few details, it almost could've been written this decade. Bester was clever with re-spelled names (The name @kins gave me a strange joy), and was someone who could both think and convey large ideas and be amused by them: I was surprised that this book about a guy trying to get away with murder was light on its feet and almost fun. (The story is set in a future where we've achieved telepathy: the lead character Reich uses mind tricks to hide his murderous thoughts and get away with the crime, and the authorities use mind tricks to try and prove he did it. This ends...nnnnicely unexpectedly.)

As Mike Russell said when we talked about the book, The Demolished Man is great and Bester's The Stars My Destination is better -- "It's cyberpunk. You'd swear William Gibson wrote it." -- so read that I shall. Sometime. Though maybe I first should read TSMD's inspiration, The Count of Monte Cristo. I have that, too.

Now, I'm enjoying a Fritz Leiber short story collection. I'd read his satire The Silver Eggheads many years ago -- I also tried and failed to get into Conjure Wife, though I have that and I'll try it again -- and I'd forgotten how witty a writer he was. "The Night He Cried" made me grin evilly; I like that Leiber wrote it to criticize Mickey Spillane "for the self-satisfied violence and loveless sex and anti-feminism he was introducing into detective fiction." (Plus I know plenty of people who wouldn't mind breasts being able to turn into tentacles... ;-) ) "Space-Time for Springers" made me laugh out loud; rafaela, I'm sending you a copy of it. Leiber also pulled off something like a wistful Ray Bradbury story with "The Man Who Never Grew Young." I have no idea if he was trying to do that or not, but I got a Bradbury vibe.

The Read, It Goes Ever On. Though I think I'll stop for a bit and watch some more Farscape.
NCC-1701 Regula

Muse-in' football

Okay, not to Farscape yet, but to football and some fun playing by the Oregon Ducks. They just held off the UCLA Bruins at the goal line and then (with a nice spin move) got the ball down to midfield. I both cheered and laughed.

This is also the first time I’ve seen ABC’s addition to the special effects that get added to the screen for football, putting the play clock on the back of the superimposed down marker. In other words, on the back end of the graphic that says “2nd and 7” or whatever is the play clock, counting down. I’m not used to it and I don’t immediately like it: It adds a little too much movement to the image. I think it’s distracting, and the play clock is still on the upper right next to the scores. One bit of info too much. I want to see the players moving, not the clock!

Another TV thought: Okay, that’s righteous, using Muse’s “Uprising” in the commercial for the remake of V.
Whale fluke

Holy crap:

Holy Crap Part 1: The Oregon Ducks are killing this half. Three touchdowns in four minutes! \o/

Holy Crap Part 2: There's a TV edit of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Which, based on the few minutes I saw, CAN'T MAKE ANY SENSE. Now Seann William Scott gets thrown out for NO REASON (because the reason in the film is X-rated). George Carlin? Gone. What Jay does with the nun? Very gone. And that bad dubbing that plagued the actually-kind-of-genius Mallrats TV edit is, here, JUST BAD.

Most of Kevin Smith's work? AIN'T TV-FRIENDLY. If I watch more of this cut, I'm just going to cringe. (Jon Stewart's role is probably COMPLETELY gone.)

Added thought: And how did I forget about Mark Hamill as Cock Knocker? Probably also completely cut!
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