AFME: Talking with Wes Studi

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One of the highlights of the Albuquerque Film and Music Experience (besides the premiere of my own film, that is) was moderating a conversation with actor Wes Studi for an audience in one of the conference halls at the Hotel Embassy Suites. We all know his work, from Dances with Wolves to Last of the Mohicans to Avatar, and, of course, there’s been all kinds of other interesting stuff along the way: Geronimo: An American Legend (with Gene Hackman, Robert Duvall, Jason Patric, Matt Damon), Being Flynn, New World, Heat … the list goes on and on. It’s the kind of career I most admire: hard-working, long-lasting, memorable, excellent support-staff for the “stars,” filled with integrity: the career of a true character actor. Of course, being a Native American (Cherokee, to be exact) brings all kinds of other challenges, just in terms of getting good parts, and all of this together makes his journey unique. He’s a wonderful actor.

Wes Studi starred in Ronnie BoDean, a short film in the festival, directed by Steven Paul Judd. (I found a good article discussing the background of the film.) It’s the kind of short film where you watch it and think, “Well. This clearly needs to be a feature.” Some short films are one-joke wonders, or a gimmick, or clearly just a sketch-comedy routine. But others – the rare ones – are so evocative, so tantalizing, that you can SEE the potential in the material. Ronnie BoDean is like that. It’s perfect as it is, in its short format, but it’s also so tantalizing an idea that you want more, you want to see it developed. Not all shorts could “take” being lengthened. This one could. So keep your fingers crossed.

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I went to see Ronnie BoDean the day before my talk with Wes Studi, so I got to meet him beforehand (always helpful – it was like two weeks ago flying down to Champaign from O’Hare with Guillermo del Toro, whom I was going to be interviewing onstage that night. Not only did we “break the ice,” but we chattered at each other about movies for an hour and a half so that when we did get onstage together later that night, it felt like we were just continuing the conversation.) I sat with Wes Studi and his lovely wife, and we watched the shorts program, including Ronnie BoDean.

Ronnie BoDean tells the story of a hungover tough-guy Native American, who basically lives in his car, surrounded by empty beer bottles, who ends up babysitting two kids for a crazy 24-hour period. It’s hilarious. Steven Paul Judd filmed it gorgeously, with an excellent “ear” for the comedic potential in the material. And Wes Studi rules in it. You know, it’s hard to do something “new” in cinema. Even very good stories are often re-treads of things we’ve seen a million times before. But as Wes Studi said in our conversation the following day: Ronnie BoDean is a Native American ANTI-hero, and THAT is something we have never seen, at least in cinema. What a thrilling concept!

The following morning, we sat onstage in front of an audience of about 30 people, all clearly thrilled to be there (sitting on their hands, basically, waiting for the QA period), and had a great conversation. I had my questions ready. He is such a lovely man: forthcoming, funny, thoughtful.

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He spoke about his childhood, only speaking Cherokee until he was 5 years old, when his aunt organized for him to be put in a boarding school/orphanage-type place, so that he could get an education. His first year there, not speaking a word of English, was a whirlwind, but by the end of the year, he spoke English and had forgotten Cherokee. He said he came home at the end of the year, said something in English, and his grandmother scolded him in Cherokee: We don’t speak English here! So he had to re-learn Cherokee!

I asked him if there were any performances or movies he saw as a kid that lit the spark in him, that made him think, “Wow, that’s good. I’d like to do that.” (I was especially interested in this because he had a whole life before he got into acting, doing all kinds of different jobs: what makes someone like that go, “Okay. Now I’m gonna try THIS.”) He said that the best acting he ever saw was when he watched wrestling programs on television when he was a kid. There were the “bad” guys, who oozed evil, in their capes and costumes, and the different characters were totally clear as they fought out their epic battles in the ring. (I love this story. Good acting, inspirational acting, is everywhere, not just present during Oscar season.)

But what was it, I asked … what was it that made him decide, eventually, to take that risk, and devote himself to acting?

He said that it was the risk itself that drew him to it. Because, he said, the risk is not just that you won’t make a living. (Besides, as he pointed out, he had done a lot of itinerant labor work, and he said acting is very similar in nature to that kind of life.) The risk is also in telling your family and friends, “Yeah, I’m going to go out to Hollywood and be an actor.” Because what if you don’t make it? Who wants to “fail” in a public way? But the risk drew him to it.

I asked him about the challenges facing Native Americans in Hollywood, especially since American cinema basically STARTED with Westerns. It’s how directors cut their teeth, Westerns were the first hits, the mythology of the American West was created mostly through cinema. He said that any Native American becoming an actor knows that he will be asked to do what Wes Studi called “Leathers and feathers” parts. It’s part of the gig. It’s a “way in.” He shared a story, though, about one of his first roles in a TV movie. He had to creep along a roof, ready to shoot someone below, and the director said, “Okay, so when you come along that roof, I want you to be low and sneaky like an Indian.” Wow. Studi said, “So what did I do? I snuck along that roof like a low and sneaky Indian.” Actors have to do what they have to do.

We talked about Dances with Wolves and what a phenom it was. It changed his life. For my money, his death scene is one of the best scenes in the film. It’s heartbreaking. He described how he worked in a Native American “curios” shop across the street from a movie theatre when Dances with Wolves opened. The shop was called The Teepee. (This is also a good reminder to those who think once you do a movie, you’re all set. Nope. Day jobs are sometimes still necessary, even if you’re in Dances with Wolves!) So Wes Studi is working in this shop called The Teepee, and watching across the street, lines started stretching down the block to see a movie he was in. And when the audience came staggering out after the film, many of them crossed the street to The Teepee to buy some Native American knick-knacks. Wes Studi could see the emotion on their faces, how devastated they were: “And I think they wanted to do something, you know? To somehow atone for what they just saw. So they bought dream-catchers.” Some people recognized him from Dances with Wolves (which must have been totally bizarre), but mostly it was just one of those moments where he realized that a movie he had been in was taking on a life of its own, becoming an important cultural event.

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I got to ask him what it was like to work with Terrence Malick, known for being more interested in waving tree-tops than human beings. I re-told that hilarious story from Ben Affleck on To the Wonder: Ben is acting, and the camera is off to the side, pointing at his face. He’s playing the scene. Out of his peripheral vision, while he’s acting, he is aware that the camera has swooped away from him and is now pointing up at the sky, to film birds, or trees, or whatever. Ben was like, “Terry, what the hell, I’m acting over here.” (This is just one story of many. Affleck didn’t tell this story in an annoyed way, it was more humorous than that.)

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With that as the launch-pad, Wes Studi described how Malick would film scenes simultaneously with 10, 11 cameras. So you never knew which one was “on,” what angle you were being shot from, what was being focused on. (I saw an interview with Studi where he said that it was like doing “theatre in the round.”) And his character has this big monologue, which he delivered beautifully. “And then I saw the final film, and my monologue starts, and suddenly there’s shots of waving grass, and treetops …” People were already laughing. His monologue had become a voiceover for all this nature photography. Oh, Malick! Don’t ever change!

I was also thrilled to ask him what it was like to work with Michael Mann, which he has done twice, in Last of the Mohicans and Heat.

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Michael Mann is one of my favorite film-makers. His films LOOK so gorgeous that I sometimes need to watch them multiple times in order to get past the visuals and absorb the story. Wes Studi told a couple of good stories.

One came from the shoot for Last of the Mohicans, where Wes Studi makes a huge impression as the vengeful Magua. He almost takes over the whole film.

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They shot much of it in North Carolina, and the cast and crew were staying in an historic inn. In the main room downstairs, there was an old oil painting over the mantelpiece of a horse-drawn carriage going over a bridge, with a river below. Michael Mann was so struck by the painting and he ended up re-creating that painting, perfectly, in a huge shot in Last of the Mohicans. I love this story because it shows that while Michael Mann obviously is an obsessive planner, and chooses extremely carefully what he wants to shoot before he even gets to location, he is also open to inspiration in the moment. And when he wants something, he will get that something. That painting spoke to him, it was probably painted during the period when the story took place, and he was like: “That. I want THAT to be in the movie.” Awesome.

Wes Studi said that Michael Mann’s obsession for detail means that he can be very hard on his crew. (Not the actors, but the crew.) A lot of people don’t last long. He’s a task-master, and he knows the look he wants. Studi told a story about getting a friend of his who was a makeup artist (maybe a tattoo artist, too?) come on the set of Last of the Mohicans to create a lightning-bolt on one of the character’s faces. It was painted on the side of the forehead, going back onto the shaved portion of the head. And Michael Mann would stand right there, as the makeup artist painted it onto the actor. Mann would watch, and give comments, say “No, make it a little lower/higher”: like, every point and angle of that lightning-bolt had to pass muster with Michael Mann. And finally, the artist couldn’t take it anymore! This was fascinating to me, and honestly I’m not surprised. Michael Mann’s films are so exquisite-looking – like, every single frame – that of course he would run his crew ragged to get the look he wanted.

“There are some shots in Heat,” said Wes Studi, “that look like an Armani ad or something.”

So true. I mentioned one of my favorite shots: Al Pacino, Wes Studi, and two of the other cops, are on a stakeout, waiting for the criminals to steal stuff from inside that gigantic warehouse. The four men are shot in profile, staring down at the loading dock from a nearby building. There are four faces in the frame, and each one is staggered a little bit in front of the other, so you get four profiles in one, with noir-ish Venetian blind shadows across the whole thing. Each of them are in dark suits. It’s a magnificent image. It lasts less than 5 seconds. Imagine the time and the thought that it took to create just that one image!

I was not prepared at all for Wes Studi to turn the conversation around and start asking ME questions. “Enough about me, what do you think about me,” Wes Studi cracked. But he started asking me about being a film critic as WELL as a screenwriter, and how did that work? (I have no idea.) He said, “Because actors, you know, we look at film critics almost like the enemy.” So I talked a little bit about how I started being a film critic, which was almost by accident. I talked about the French New Wave guys, Godard, Truffaut, Chabrol, Resnais – who all started out as film critics, in love with B-movies from America. Then they started making their own movies, revolutionizing and energizing world cinema. I mean, everyone imitated Breathless! We don’t really have a similar situation in America, the two worlds – critic and film-maker – are much more separated. I said, “But once you know the amount of collaboration that goes into making even just a short film – it’s amazing not only that anything GOOD is made, but that anything is made at ALL.”

I only mention this comment of mine because a woman came up to me afterwards who has worked in props departments and production design for 30 years. On enormous Hollywood movies. And she was like, “THANK YOU for saying that!” She told this hilarious story about working on Pearl Harbor and how Michael Bay wanted some of the weaponry to be “lavender.” The sheer level of detail that goes into any single shot in any movie blows your mind … so when a 3-hour movie, say, WORKS? Frankly, it’s a miracle. Those who insist that the director is totally responsible for any given movie just don’t know how it works. Yes, he’s the Boss. But what about all of the departments who make his vision happen? Who make bombs the right shade of lavender?

It was a blast hearing him talk about Ronnie BoDean and wanting to create an “anti-hero” that hadn’t been seen before. In the conversations he and Judd had, when planning the project, they discussed how they wanted to “embrace” some of the stereotypes about Native Americans (they’re drunk, they’re criminals, whatever), and just show all of these things in a straightforward way that has never been done before. How many movies have we all seen where a criminal-type is then thrown into a situation (i.e. babysitting, as is the case with Ronnie BoDean) where you see another side of him? Or the Tough Guy thrown into a situation for which he is not prepared?

Ronnie BoDean is first seen rising up from the front seat of his car, hungover, cigarette in his mouth, with a dangling ash that looks longer than any cigarette. His hair is long and straight. (“Thank God I already had a long wig,” said Wes Studi.) He looks rough. Tough. He watches, in a drunken haze, as a woman is dragged out of her house by two cops, presumably for disturbing the peace. Her two little blonde-pipsqueak children are left behind. Ronnie BoDean realizes that their mama is probably drying out in jail for the day, so he rolls out of the car, scattering empty bottles, stalks forward in his motorcycle boots, determined to take care of the kids for the day. What then goes down is hilarious, “inappropriate,” endearing, but more than all of that: it’s COMPELLING and TANTALIZING: You want to see more, you want to know more about Ronnie BoDean’s background and character and life. Who is he? What’s his life been like?

Studi talked a lot about the struggles for Native American actors. He says he does not like to be called an “activist,” and that if you want to work in “the business” you have to accept Leathers and Feathers roles as part of the gig, a valid entry-way. But he’s at the point in his career now (Get ready for Penny Dreadful!) where people say “Let’s get Wes Studi” – or, “Let’s get a Wes Studi type.” Once you yourself are a “type,” you know you’re at another level. I asked him if he felt he needed to “combat” stereotypes and he said not necessarily, or at least that’s not the attitude he starts from. He wants to work as an actor. He works within the framework that exists. He came along at a time when a lot of stereotypes were being challenged, when film-makers were interested in looking at the myth of the American West in new and more nuanced ways. But why can’t a Native American actor just play a doctor, or a lawyer? He joked, “You know, you always get offered parts where your character says stuff like, ‘The eagle flies into the dawn and the rocks and the grass speak of our spirits …” ( laughter from the audience) and he mentioned The Mystery Men, where he played The Sphinx, a humorous “spin” or “spoof” on that kind of stereotypical “wise sage” role.

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The second I opened the whole thing up for questions, practically every hand went up in the air. The discussion following was in-depth, generous, thought-provoking.

Studi said, “Listen, we — ” (meaning Native Americans) “can’t sit around waiting for Hollywood to give us better roles. We have to create and tell our own stories.”

Ronnie BoDean is the future. Get ready for it.

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July and Half of August: Some Screengrabs

Last February there was the madness of making a movie, with serious discussions about pool balls, how to film neon signs, how to hide Green Bay Packers memorabilia, Annika/Monica confusion, plus what kind of ice cubes go in a glass of whiskey. Everything matters, especially if you want to tell a whole story in only 12 minutes.

Of course I could see how beautiful it all looked on the monitor but that was a very different thing from seeing it all put together as I did last Saturday in Albuquerque. Director Brandeaux Tourville took on this project with passion: He knew what he wanted it to look like. He didn’t want to “conceptualize” it, he wanted the characters to be the focus. He worked with the cinematographer, the talented Peter Mosiman, to get it right. They were both very excited about filming in black and white. I loved the idea because black and white is a little bit more universal than color (for some reason), but it’s also romantic, maybe a little bit sad too. The film is two people sitting at a bar talking but Brandeaux and Peter thought hard about how to make it cinematic without taking away from the story.

I know how movies are made. But this is my first script and my first time watching something I wrote get filmed, as a bunch of people lugged boom mikes and lights around that small bar, and the two gorgeous actors – Annika Marks and Robert Baker – kept their focus to make the scene happen.

Here are some glimpses of what the film looks like.

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“I Thank God 4 U.”

My friend Liz Bartucci has a Calligraphy business (and she’s also an incredible writer and playwright). I just wanted to share her most recent piece of art.

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Me neither.

So two more things:

Wesley Morris (frankly, I am just glad that he exists, for his Magic Mike XXL review alone: The man GETS sex) wrote an essay for The New York Times and it nails the Prince “thing,” the essential something that Prince was all about, that Laura Hillenbrand (post below this one) also clocked. And you KNOW that I love Morris’ opening. THANK you for making that connection.

At work, propped against a wall, near piles of stuff, stands an Elvis Presley cutout. It’s made of cardboard, pretty beat up, taller than I am and not the greatest photo. (He looks drunk. So does his lamé suit.) But I pass that cutout almost every day, and every day I have the same thought. Elvis was hot. He was a musician, but he didn’t have to be playing music for you to feel this way. Cardboard would do.

That’s charisma. And the only star who had more than Elvis was Prince. His hotness differed, of course; it came from somewhere else. Cardboard won’t cut it for him. If Elvis was sex, Prince was a sexual orientation. His own. And it was oriented toward you. And you. And you.

Please read the whole thing. (I also love the URL. I mean, that’s it, right?)

And finally, I posted this on Twitter – and outlets left and right have been picking it up (not from me, but from her) but just in case you all haven’t seen it. Suzanne Vega posted on her Facebook page a note she got from Prince following the release of her song “Luka”, which dominated the airwaves after it came out. There are a couple of things I love about the note:

1. His show-stopping emotional dramatic handwriting.
1a. We are at the point in our culture now where we will never have examples of people’s handwriting again. But here we can see Prince revealed. This is how he wrote.
2. The fact that he took the time to write the note at all. He was an egomaniacal rock star, because of course, the man was Prince, and you don’t get to be Prince by being humble. That fact aside, he was also known for his support of and generosity towards other artists.
3. The fact that even though he admits that doesn’t know how to put his feelings into words, he wrote the note ANYWAY.
4. The Dr. Seuss flower.

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Laura Hillenbrand on Prince’s “Kiss”

I have only found this on Laura Hillenbrand’s Facebook page, so I just cut and paste the text because I think it’s important and beautiful. Laura Hillenbrand, of course, is the author of Seabiscuit: An American Legend and Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. I had never thought about “Kiss,” really, at least not as specifically as she has, and now I feel silly for having missed the memo. I was a kid in the 80s, and now it seems to me extraordinary that the message in “Kiss” was being blasted out to young women by the biggest male rock star of our age. But I did sense, even though I couldn’t put words to it, that his music included me, celebrated me. (i.e. women/girls) Elvis, in his 1950s heyday, was sexually explosive but one of the things he brought to the table was a joyous inclusive feeling, he made sex look fun and friendly. (That may very well have been the REAL revolution, THE thing that was scary to the powers-that-be. Teenage girls admitting they wanted sex because it was FUN? The sky is falling.) Prince had the same thing going on. What he put out there in his songs, the vision of sex, was not scary at all. I was scared of some of the songs of, say, Aerosmith … also huge at the time … which definitely looked at women as pleasure-receptacles, interchangeable, and disposable. I loved the songs, don’t get me wrong, but at 15, 16, they intimidated me. I didn’t want to live in Aerosmith’s world. If grown-up sex looked like that, then why on earth would I ever want to sign up for it? But then comes happy pleasure-hound Prince. Creating pleasure WITH his ladies. Then a little bit later came “Cream” – which basically reads like an orgasm How-To – and I was a bit older and had some experience, and I thought, “Well. Of course. He gives a shit about what’s going on with whatever lady he is with. Like: that is the whole point of sex – making sure your partner has fun.” (It reminds me of that great macho Troggs song, “Come Now”, another hard-rocking song devoted to and encouraging woman’s pleasure. I mean, why else are you in bed with someone than to give them a good time? Right? Duh. But you don’t realize how rare it is until you try to think of other songs by men that have the same focus.)

But again, I had never quite analyzed the lyrics to “Kiss”, even though I loved the song. I think I got the message by osmosis. So I thank Hillenbrand for putting it into words.

My favorite Prince song is “Kiss.” He released it when I was eighteen and only beginning to learn myself and my place in the world. I had grown up listening to bands that denigrated women in the most revolting manner, bands like the coincidentally named KISS, which performed song after song celebrating the sexual using and cruelest disposal of women. “Love ’em, leave ’em, yeah!” trumpeted Gene Simmons into my nine-year-old ears. I had come to believe men were incapable of truly loving women; their interest began and ended with sex, physical beauty, and the sadistic pleasure of delivering rejection. Even if you succeeded in being beautiful enough to win a man’s interest, something I feared I never would, your fate would be to be used and tossed away like garbage.

Prince’s “Kiss” was a revelation. Here he beckons to a woman, and tells her explicitly she doesn’t have to be beautiful, rich, or cool to draw him. If she is insipidly childish, slavish to fashion, or seeking to win him only with her sexuality, he wants nothing to do with her. She doesn’t have to emulate anyone else. He wants her as she is, *who* she is. It’s her mind and maturity, he sings, that lights him up. “Women, not girls, rule my world, I say they rule my world. Act your age, mama, not your shoe size, maybe we could do the twirl.” He wants the woman he sings to to set herself free of everything she’s been told she has to be, and everything she thinks is expected of her. He desires nothing more than intelligent authenticity.

In my deeply self-doubting eighteen-year-old mind, that first phrase of “Kiss” resonated over and over, an antidote to the words and message of the band of the same name: “You don’t have to be beautiful…” What Prince wrote in that song thirty years ago he wrote into his career, surrounding himself with talented women and creating magnificent music with them. I am grateful to him for knowing that women, in all their complexity, intelligence, and individuality, made him better, and for the little thrill I still feel when I hear him sing that first line of that irresistibly rousing, joyful, sexy, affirming “Kiss.”

I don’t have to be beautiful, he tells me, and by the grace of his words, I feel beautiful.

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Two Beautiful Ones: Prince and Misty Copeland

This has been making the rounds but it’s so beautiful I wanted to share it, just in case people haven’t seen it.

Imagine what this means. Ballet is not a mainstream pursuit. People are gigantic stars in the ballet world and barely “cross over” into pop culture name-recognition. There are exceptions, and of course Misty Copeland is an exception.

But besides Misty Copeland’s high profile, this is on another level.

Here is Prince, one of the biggest stars in the world, saying: “Ladies and gentleman. Misty Copeland.” Here is Prince, SETTING HER UP so we can get a GOOD LOOK AT HER and revel in her. Of course the performance is also about him, because he’s Prince, but the POINT of the whole thing is HER.

And watch how he turns himself into a ballet barre for her. That’s his job. To keep still (Prince?? STILL?),and hold out his arms straight as a board so she can hold onto him and do her thing.

It’s an extraordinary pas de deux.

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“One Zip.”

Jimmy Fallons recounts his story of being challenged (repeatedly) to a game of ping pong by Prince. It’s long, but worth it. And Questlove tells the final (perfect) beat of the story.

Lots of Prince encounters going around (as they always were, as long as he was with us), but this is now one of my favorites. It is so RANDOM.

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Route 66

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On Thursday, Stevie drove me down Route 66. Now, once upon a time, a boyfriend and I drove from the beginning of end of Route 66, in our beat-up Westfalia. We visited the ghost towns, and walked around the abandoned motels, sometimes literally with tumbleweed blowing around them. Last Picture Show all the way. History everywhere. But ancient history (in American terms, that is.) Christopher Hitchens wrote a wonderful long-form essay for Vanity Fair about Route 66, its history, and he also drove across the whole damn thing. (Elvis drove it, too, from Memphis to Vegas, from Vegas to LA, from Vegas to Memphis. There are stories up and down Route 66 of the mythical weekend when Elvis and his pals pulled up.) While Route 66 has its desolate out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere moments, it does, of course, pass through towns, and Albuquerque has a big chunk of it. (I bought Route 66 in New Mexico (Images of America) in Old Town, when my mother and I went there to walk around, have lunch, visit the mission church.) Those famous old signs remain all up and down the strip. I’ve written before about my love of old signs (mainly because New York can’t get rid of them fast enough), and I’ve always wanted to visit the Neon Sign Graveyard in Vegas. Some douchebag I dated for a hot second lived in Vegas and sent me some PHENOMENAL photos of his visit to the graveyard. (I’m pretty sure you have to make an appointment to see it.) So it’s all these famous signs that you’ve seen in photos from the Rat Pack days, lying all up against each other. Route 66 in Albuquerque has that feel. I was taking pictures out the window of signs I liked, AS we drove by them, so there were quite a few blurry snafus.

I have to say, I’m pretty pleased with this one.

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July and Half of August Premiere: Albuquerque

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The last two weeks have been extraordinary, stressful, busy, exciting, challenging. I went from interviewing Guillermo del Toro in front of 1500 people in Champaign, to – a week later – interviewing Wes Studi for about 30 people in Albuquerque. I went from watching other people’s movies to watching my own. I don’t know how to talk about it yet or write about it. What sticks with me now is impressions and memories: of what it felt like to be in Albuquerque, with my mother, Annika Marks the lead actress, her parents: having breakfast in the hotel, Uber-ing around town, the comments made, the laughter, taking pictures outside the movie theatre, the full spectrum of the experience. It’s all still flooding my brain. It’ll take me some time to process all of it. I’ve been gone for 12 days. I’m home now. I left town wearing a down winter coat. And I returned into the spring. It was 80 degrees one day in Albuquerque. I SOAKED up that Vitamin D. I’ve been to Albuquerque before (a couple of times actually) but this was my longest visit. Stevie took me on a drive down Route 66, and – beautifully – the theatre where my film screened was on Route 66. Now that’s a good omen, y’all, I felt very good about that.

Sitting in a theatre watching my film was … I can’t even call it a proud moment. That was not my experience of it in the moment. It was more a feeling of gratitude, to every person who has helped me, believed in me … not just who made the film but in my life in general. My mother, there with me to support me, be there for me. The entire team who made the film, Mike and Brandeaux and Peter and Annika and Robert … Like: there’s no getting around it: The whole thing started because of what I wrote. And people responded to that script from the get-go and so here we are today. And hopefully it is still just the beginning.

Here is the adorable theatre where July and Half of August screened:

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We had a great QA following the screening, Annika and I answering questions (good questions too: a couple of people said flat-out, “So what happens next?” Mission accomplished!).

I am still processing all that has happened. There’s more to tell, and I definitely want to write about my talk with Wes Studi too, which was a real highlight of Albuquerque.

In the meantime:

A banner moment.

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Men & Chicken (2016)

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How to even describe this bizarre movie …

I gave it my best shot. It’s worth it to see Mads Mikkelsen in this role. He’s hilarious.

I reviewed Men & Chicken for Rogerebert.com.

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Tribeca 2016: Hunt for the Wilderpeople

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What a wonderful film from Taika Waititi, New Zealand’s most successful film-maker currently. It’s been at Sundance, now Tribeca: I’m sure it will open in a semi-wide release so please look for it.

I reviewed Hunt for the Wilderpeople at Rogerebert.com.

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