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Ray Carney's Mailbag -- This section of the site contains letters written to Prof. Carney by students and artists, announcements of news, events, and screenings, and miscellaneous observations about life and art by Ray Carney. Letters and notices submitted by readers are in black. Prof. Carney's responses, observations, and recommendations are in blue. Note that Prof. Carney receives many more letters and announcements than he can possibly include on the site. The material on these pages has been selected as being that which will be the most interesting, inspiring, useful, or informative to site readers. Click on the first page (via the links at the top or bottom of the page)
to read an explanation of this material, why it is being posted, and how this relatively small selection was made from among the tens of thousands of messages Prof. Carney has received.
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Dear Professor Carney,
I have read a few of the books
you have written, and appreciate the articles you publish. There are a
few people that I receive energy from today. You are one of them. Perhaps
one of the most difficult things for me to endure is when others watch
or read a film or script of mine and remark, "...but it doesn't look
like a film...it doesn't feel like a film...you don't treat it like a
film. It must not be a film." However it only takes me a moment to
recoup from such comments because I know what I am communicating is my
truth - how it is that I see the world. If we as writers and filmmakers
do not express our understanding of the world, there is no point in creating.
I believe in the nature of dialectics: truth is found through the collision
of opposites. And I am happy to be an opposing force, and minority, in
the crusade towards realizing and appreciating other truths. Please continue
with your work and be prolific for the minority.
Cordially yours, Matthew Marchisano
The MD Marchisano Cinema Ensemble,
Inc., a global cinema where the special effects are human emotions. www.mdmcinema.com
Dear Prof. Carney,
My name is Kazutada Komine.
I was in your American Independent Cinema class in Spring 2000. The class
had a profound impact on the way I look at film, although I didn't quite
realize it at the time and I now regret that I didn't participate enough
during class discussions (and thus you may not remember me). Anyway, for
the past few months, I've been reading your essays on your website, and
I've gotten a tremendous amount of inspiration from them. And, for further
inspiration, I'd like to order your book, Why Art Matters. I currently
live in Japan, so please let me know how much the shipping will be. I
can, of course, send a payment in US$ via PayPal.
My name is Rome Canaal. I'm
an independent/freelance film and video curator and reviewer for a new
internet zine, currently in construction, called BlackAuteur - which seeks
to focus in on the guerilla, independent African-American filmmakers in
the United States. Lord knows "independent" cinema is marginalized,
ghettoizing a great deal of wonderful art produced throughout the country,
but even more unheralded are the work by struggling black independents
or other artists of color. There is a beautiful contribution that we have
made as well to American Film, but seldom does anyone ever really talk
about it. Charles Burnett still gets no love, Julie Dash remains an enigma,
Larry Clark (not to be confused with the director of "Kids")
is a great unknown, Phil Harder has never gotten into one film festival
and what I would certainly consider a major artist in Chicago, and a filmmaker
I would like to mention by the name of Dennis Leroy Moore.
I have read and long admired
your work and criticism of American Film and from reading work on John
Cassavetes, I then watched all of his films! You really have inspired
a lot of younger artists and critics alike. I have sent you a collection
of writings about Dennis Leroy Moore's DV epic "As An Act of Protest."
I have no idea if you have seen it or heard of it. I have no idea if you
would even like it. However, I felt it my duty to alert you of a fascinating
new artist in NYC and a film that I felt was a real treat. I saw it five
times before I could even begin to write a sentence about it. Some have
called it too abstract, some feel it is politically irresponsible and
incorrect, and lots of people I know walked out it. But it challenges
the viewer and is highly unique and personal in its vision and style.
All the best,
Dear Professor Carney:
I was recently rejected by
the UCLA Film School after being one of the finalist for the screenwriting
program. I must say that after receiving a call from Hal Ackerman informing
me that I was among "the top 40 candidates being considered for the
program," I thought I was a shoo-in. I'm a 36-year old probation
agent for the State of Wisconsin who dabbles in film, but recently decided
that I want to jump in the game on a full-time basis.
I thought UCLA would have loved
the fact that I would bring a world of experience to the their program.
I also relished in the belief that the staff would have been extremely
interested in me revealing my life experiences through film.
Instead, I think they made
it clear that my age group isn't wanted in Hollywood by rejecting me in
favor of some kid who relates more to Dawson's Creek than I do. Upon receiving
my rejection notice, I was dejected; however, I reread a few of the articles
you authored in Moviemaker and Filmmaker Magazines and had the energy
fed back into me. I want to thank you for your advice and words regarding
the true meaning of filmmaking. Film is an art, not a gimmick. My experiences
and/or perception is my reality, and only I can bring it to life through
film, not UCLA.
I want to thank you for reminding
me that the most influential filmmakers didn't go to film school! I think
it's safe to say that I have built up enough experience to make films
my way, not the UCLA way! I have a degree in psychology, a Master's in
Political Science, and have had the opportunity to look into the minds
and hearts of a diverse group of human beings. I have thought deeply about
this, and have come to the conclusion that UCLA may have hurt my artistic
ability rather than enhance it.
In conclusion, I thank you
for your words, and hopefully I'll have the opportunity to read more of
your work in future articles.
Well, man, if it helps at all,
your writings have been very inspirational to me both as a film lover
and an aspiring artist. Sorry to hear about the book, but the truth is
that people have a very difficult time looking at something as stark and
visionary as Cassavettes. The most common criticism I've read of him is
that he's self-indulgent. But Ebert, Maltin, et. al. are weak and feeble
minds who prefer the instananeous gratification of a twinkie over the
long-term benefits of a well-balanced meal. New languages, such as what
the true artist provides take quite some time to digest and accept for
those not willing to embark on the adventure. Van Gogh died poor, and
it took several decades and a fair amount of capricious fate for people
at large to finally "see" his work. I imagine there were Ray
Carneys at that time kicking and screaming, "Look here for God's
sake!" Pity that it comes too litlle too late for the living artist,
but I'm grateful for those efforts as I am for yours. Keep the faith and
keep pushing it along. You are making a difference.
For your interest, I added
the link to Los Angeles's Film Forum below as they are showing some intriguing
works. There's also an art gallery near my house that is selling an exclusive
Bruce Connor DVD, whcih I picked up and I found mesmerizing. If you like,
I'll pick one up and send it your way. Add to that the fact that I have
seen the likes of Tokyo Story, L'Eclisse, Andre Rubolov, Umberto D. and
Faces all on the screen right here in Tinsletown. Funny how in Hollywood,
I have been provideed with venues for some of the best cinematic education
of my life. Again, you played a great part in my leaving behind the Kubricks
and Hitchcocks for this great wealth of enrichment. With any luck, I'll
turn some of that into a decent film of my own some day. By the way, your
site looks great and I turn loads of people on to it.
Dear Mr. Carney,
I am a great admirer of your
work. I have read your books and have been interested in all that you
have to say since I first became aware of you after reading "American
Dreaming" years back. You no doubt receive a score of email daily
so I'll keep this short, but I wanted to pass this on to you, in the spirit
of that absurd incident you recounted involving Terrance Malik and Ed
This from the current Film
Comment, under "Opening Shots":
The Hardest Working Man In
"George Clooney sure stays
busy...He'll star in the next Cohen Brothers film, Intolerable Cruelty
..After that he will star in Steven Soderberghs's remake of Tarkovsky's
Ok? that's bad enough, but
it get's better...
"...And then we've heard
that he'll follow that one with Joel Schumacher's remake of Flowers of
Something really must be done
about this. These people just have to be stopped. What can be done?
Dear Mr. Carney,
How are you? I was wondering
if you had seen Terry Zwigoff's "Ghost World" yet and what your
thoughts might be on it. I'm thinking you might like it if you gave it
a chance. I found it very refreshing, surprisingly so. Personally, I think
it would make a fine addition to your list of recommended films for young
people seeking alternatives to stock Hollywood understandings. Anyway,
just a thought. Take care! I just had the DVD sent via Amazon to your
Comm Ave address. Hopefully there by the weekend, if not then should arrive
by monday. It's not miracles or anything, but it's a solid little film.
Worth having in the library. It'd probably be about par in a world where
good work was the norm. As things are, it stands out.
Cassavetes on Cassavetes is
an excellent book. The detail and some of the anecdotes are priceless.
That Madonna quip ("I know I work with non-actors but I have to draw
the line somewhere") still cracks me up! I particularly loved the
early stuff about his father. It really provided an understanding of some
of the core values underpinning the work. As far as getting drubbed, if
nothing else, I'd have thought resisting the temptation to write a Barry
Paris-style hagiography would have earned you some kudos. Writing that
sort of book would have been very, very easy for you to do and it would
have done John a disservice. I bought three copies and gave two away --
including one to Liane Balaban, a Canadian actress who'll be in Almereyda's
next one ('Happy Here and Now'). The truth will out.
I wrote a brief letter to New
York magazine a few weeks ago (that they called for permission to publish
and I assume they did so) bashing Harvey Weinstein (they'd done a puff
piece) and referenced one of your quotes. We're not going to be welcome
at very many trendy parties right about now. Of course, since Talk shut
down neither is Harvey, eh? ;) Looking forward to Cinequest in San Jose
in a couple of weeks! Take care.
Steven W. Schuldt
I am a former student of yours
seeking your advice (and an opportunity to unload my mind). To start,
your class American Independent Film (taken in 1999) was not fair! How
could you force feed me Cassavetes' work and hope that I would appreciate
it, let alone understand it? I hated Shadows, Faces, and A Woman Under
The Influence! They frustrated the hell out of me! What was so interesting
about all that yelling? As a result I did not care about your assignments.
Who cares about Caveh Zahedi? How I kept looking with a microscopic lens
trying to catch the metaphor, the double meaning, and the hidden messages!
The following summer I took
American Masterworks with Roy Grundmann. He screened Faces and it did
not go over well with the class. To my surprise I found myself defending
it! I stood virtually alone: reputing accusations that the film was slow,
boring, plotless, and rambling tripe. I should say I tried to defend the
film as I still had a hard time explaining why I loved it, because up
to that point I did not realize that I loved the film! I soon found myself
tucked away in the basement of the University's library watching movies
like Faces, A Little Stiff, To Sleep With Anger, and A Woman Under the
Influence. I was enjoying these movies without knowing why. I secretly
dubbed the copies by hooking two videotape machines together (no one else
was around to see my covert operation) and took my copies home and watched
them again! They are little lessons in human exploration and challenge
me still. I found myself telling people about Cassavetes and trying to
share my new love. As you must understand, this is a difficult thing.
And to this day, I find that very few people want to talk about him (let
alone heard of him). I needed to share my appreciation with someone so
I read your books on Cassavetes. I was sharing with you without your even
Perhaps not so coincidentally,
I was turned on to jazz around the same time I was turned on to Cassavetes.
A friend lent me his copy of Miles Davis' Kind of Blue and told me to
listen. I had always hated jazz. It was just a bunch of noise. It didn't
make any sense to me. I was into rock and roll- period. And then I listened
to Miles. When I listened too closely it was just noise. But at that moment
I let the music move - without me trying to put it in order- it ended
up moving me! Somehow By opening myself up like that I realized that there
is nothing to "get!" Kind of Blue is a great album to start
with in Jazz because it is so seemingly accessible. It is not simple at
all, but quietly beautiful, leaving in all the right silences. It opened
a lot of doors for me musically. Now some of my heroes are Miles, Coltrane,
Mingus, Bird, Diz, the Duke and others. I wanted to share my love of jazz
too! (But, of course, that is not easy either) As before, I turned quickly
to the critics. Perhaps my favorite is Ralph J Gleason. His book, Celebrating
the Duke and Louis, Bessie, Billie, Carmen, Miles, Dizzy and Other Heroes
changed my life almost as much as the people he wrote about. I think his
title says it all- celebrating the art we love is what all criticism should
be about. Maybe we should change the word criticism to celebration, then
again maybe not.
My experience with jazz helped
me understand my experience with Cassavetes, Burnett, Zahedi and others.
It all started with Faces . At some precious moment I let the film be-
without me trying to put it in order and make sense of it- and it ended
up moving me. I think you were the one who said something like, "That's
why they call them the Movies." In the end, I did not choose to love
Miles or Cassavetes. They chose me- but they had a little help.
My mother made me eat broccoli,
but I hated it. Somewhere along the line I started to eat my broccoli.
Damn it, now I love broccoli! I don't know when or why it happened, but
it did. Sadly, my mom still thinks that I hate broccoli. It is not easy
trying to explain to her that I like it now. What's more, it never occurred
to me to thank her for giving making me eat it and it never occurred to
me to thank you for "force feeding" me Cassavetes. Entertainment
may be sweet, but art nourishes. Thanks.
I now live and work in Los
Angeles. I have been working at Dreamworks Animation. If you know anything
about being a Production Assistant you know it is a lot of work, very
little pay, and requires no brains. My mind is starving. Luckily, not
long ago I caught wind that there were to be several screenings of Cassavetes
films held at the Laemle Sunset 5. I figured it was a rare opportunity
so I watched as many as I could. I saw Minnie and Moskowitz and Gloria
for the first time and I was reminded of when I first saw Shadows, Faces,
and A Woman Under the Influence. I found myself resisting them again!
Maybe I've been in LA too long, but the refresher course did me good.
I have since bought all Cassavetes DVD's and videos I can get my hands
on and watched them again. Those screenings will not leave me alone.
A few days ago I looked up
BU's graduate program for Film Studies online with the notion of maybe
attending and realized that this is really what I want to do. I want study
more. The cut off date is Feb 15th . I don't think that leaves me time
for the GRE, but I thought I should write you and ask. Do I have time
to apply? Is the GRE absolutely necessary (esp. since I attended COM)?
If so, can I still take it? I can get everything else together in time.
Frankly, my studies will go on whether or not I am accepted, but I want
very much to free myself to concentrate on my passion in an academic setting.
My girlfriend tells me that I secretly want to be a teacher and critic.
I think she may be right. I want so badly to share. Fortunately, I have
learned what good criticism is: sharing your love of art. When no one
else will talk to you, the best critics are always there.
I think that my work in Film
Production classes, both before and after your class, unconsciously (and
perhaps consciously) strove for the kind of sincerity I saw in films like
Faces. I remain proud of that work and some of the work I did in television
classes. I do not intend to stop creating films of my own. I have recently
picked up my pencil again and begun work writing my first feature. However,
make no mistake, my desire is to return to study what I feel in my heart
is unfinished. I can make films outside of school. I guess I can study
film outside of school too, but I want that degree so I may teach as well.
As much as I love his work, Ralph Gleason is long dead, and I guess I
really need someone to talk to.
I am curious to know what your
thoughts are on Fight Club?
Is it art or commerce or does
it meet the criteria of both? Does it answer any really big questions?
Does it even ask them?
On the one hand it is a clever
gimmick, star vehicle, semi-action oriented thriller that is in everyway
designed to take our $7.50 (or $11.50 here in New Zealand) whilst also
raising some major questions about the self. It does not talk down to
us, and it does not allow us to be passive and feel good about who we
are? or does it? it doesn't answer any questions and the main character
IS the problem. It cleverly locates the plot outside the character whilst
he is infact the antagonist. Or is it just a big facade - a product of
the latest round of Hollywood marketing strategies?
It fits the Hollywood 'syd
field' paradigm, but it seems to be made of anti-matter. It has three
acts but it is NOT designed to be a puzzle. Your are not encouraged to
'figure it out' infact figuring it out will ruin the effect. Instead it
encourages you to watch it over and over to truly understand the nature
of the character relationships, especially narrators one with himself.
But then why do middle aged
business men and advertising agents love it so much? It attacks their
way of life does it not? Or is the fact that Tyler Durden takes the train
altogether too far Hollywoods form of damage control. it allows us to
point fingers and name culprits etc? Does 'Jack' the narrator's attempts
to take responsibility for the actions he has committed to weak, contrived
and plot intensive to be heard?
Even the flashy-gizmo Fight
Club website teases us to pay good money for a Tyler Durden jacket or
shirt while it knows that if we buy one we didn't get the movie. But if
we did get the movie, we may feel that fact justifies our expenditure
against our principle.
I don't have an answer obviously,
just a question and some thoughts. And I hoped they were clever enough
to justify my bothering you with them. I don't expect a reply, but I am
genuinely interested to hear a commentary of your own reactions to the
I propose it is the epitome
of the post modern movie - it questions Descartes 'cogito ergo sum' by
violating our understanding and our perception of whom we have identified
with as a our main character and chellenged the fact that we are watching
a film by being self reflexive. Our main character doesn't even have a
name. This sits with the post modern notion of multiple subjective realities
existing simultaneously. It tears open a raft of social constructions
and tramples them. And it does all this with David Fincher's usual Hollywood
gusto!!! A contradiction unto itself. These are all the hallmarks of postmodernism
I believe. I'm in Auckland, New Zealand (home of small independent art
films like LORD OF THE RINGS and XENA). My partner however is from NYC.
You should come down here some
time. I know some film schools here (I've been a student at two of them)
that may need their perceptions realigned. I imagine my email read like
that of a freshman on your courses - in the initial stages of waking from
the hollywood trance as you describe it. I was hoping to plum the depths
of my own analysis on the subject by gauging your reaction to it. It seemed
to have worked to some degree. Thank you for that.
Anyway I will not take anymore
of your time and wish you good luck. I have yet to buy your books but
I will certainly be getting round to it. I was introduced to your work
by a friend who gave me some excerpts of yours to read which led me to
your website etc. Also I have a copy of ...USED CAR PRICES.
Russell Kirkby Producer/Director
Dear Mr. Carney,
I am a student in England,
doing an A -Level in, amongst others, A-Level Film Studies. As part of
the course we have each been asked to select one director, and three of
their films, and to analyse, in specfic relation to the films, whether
or not they can be proven to be the 'auteurs' of their work.
And so, and without wanting
to sound like I'm asking you to 'do' my project for me, I was wondering,
given your level of knowledge on the subject, if you had any interesting
points to raise in connection to the subject at large.
I would be interested to know
whether you believe, given the, almost complete freedom he accorded his
actors, especially with regards to narrative, and the way they acted in
scenes, that he can be called an 'auteur' or whether you, personally,felt
the term irrelevant to such an anti-intellectual,performance specific,
body of work.
May I also take the opportunity
to say how much I agree with what you stated on what I presume to be your
website. I have also felt, for quite a while now, thought that the news
has had such a deect, to artists, and indeed, the world at large, that
it has now become the main source of inspiration, alienation, provaction
and indeed entertainment, in the world today.
It has drained many artists
of their creativity and their ability to differentiate between the personal
and the current. And I do believe that the more this state of affairs
continues the less and less work will be produced in accordance with the
true meaning of Cassavetes work: true, unbiased, honesty.
I would like to apologise for
both the length and tone of this email, I know at times it got a bit ranty,
and over angry, for which I apogolise, I was only speaking the truth that
I had felt for some time. However if you did read this I want to thank
you for taking the time to read it and I look forward to hearing from
Yours Sincerely David Gadsdon
I am honored that you replied.
POlease keep up the good work and always remember you, not the critics
stand at the edge.....those that are the most critical are the least productive
in life and hide atop the high moral ground by making others miserable.
A wiser man than I once stated....."In live there are two things
that are most abundant, Hydrogen and Stupidity"........'nuff said.....Stay
well and you always have a place to stay in South Florida.....will be
away for a year on a presidential calll up........
I cannot tell you how thrilled
my son was at your response. The books that he has read (written by you)
have been given and read by me also. Your work and analysis are truly
on the mark and I am honored that you wrote back to Peter. As I am at
Ft. Benning, GA, ready to deploy into harm's way, I can only tell you
that you should not be discouraged by what a critic writes as he can only
be critical of other's work because is not creative to do what you do
nor is he able to see what you see.
You have made an impression
on my son's life and for that I am eternally grateful.
Please carry on as there are
many who appreciate your work, myself included.
Michael V, Canale, MD
Professor Carney, My name is
Peter Canale and I'm a film student in Orlando Florida. I wrote you some
time back about possibly sending you a short film i made with one of my
friends. At that time I had read many of your essays online and had seen
two of John cassavetes movies. Since that time, I have viewed all of Cassavetes
films, with the exception of Too late blues. I have also since that time
read 3 of your books on Cassavetes, Cass on Cass, Prag. and Mod. and American
Dreaming. I am currently reading your book on Dreyer and have seen Capra
films since then. I would just like to thank you for, i guess being my
teacher for the last six months or so. Im in a film program, but since
at no time in the last two years i've heard the name Cassavetes or Dreyer
spoken by my professors, I've been trying to learn from others like you
and the filmmakers and painters you critique and recommend. Im currently
in pre-production to shoot a short film. It's been a great experience
for me trying to make this a personal movie, one that I can be proud of.
I read Cass on cass in five days. I could not put it down and I couldn't
agree with you more that John Cassavetes is one of the most important
american artists and his films are masterpieces. Thanks again. I believe
you are the reason, young people like myself have even heard of John Cassavetes.
Thank you for that.
Just a quick note to say thank
you. I ordered several books from you a few months ago, among them "Why
Art Matters," and your writing has truly re-inspired me. You say
things that I have always felt and believed, but that I have never been
able to articulate. As I mentioned in my original correspondence, I had
been buying copy after copy of "Cassavetes on Cassavetes" from
Amazon.com, giving them away as gifts to my cast and crew, as well as
friends and family - until I received your package, which included a bunch
of promotional items for the book. Since then I have been spreading the
word that way and directing folks directly to your website instead (lately,
so they can purchase "Why Art Matters," which I just finished).
So, hopefully, my efforts are translating to sales for you. That's it:
I just wanted to say thank you. If I could say it any better, I would.
Point blank: You've given me some much-needed strength to carry on, to
keep on making my "little" films.
Sincerely indebted to you,
dear mr carney-
my name is scott westphal-solary.
i am in the circle of luci westphal-solary (my wife) and matthew langdon
weiss (a dear old friend), both of which forwarded your 'art still matters'
article. i've been following your teachings and opinions for quite some
time now and you've always been an inspiration. thanks for fighting the
good fight. initially, i was writing you this e-mail to bring to your
attention a video tape i plan to send to you. in these times of suspicious
mail, i think e-mail alerts of incoming packages should be a courteous
requirement. but as i write this, i think i should first ask your permission
to send it to you. i'm sure you are inundated with videos and such all
the time. the piece is a short video (4 minutes) of footage i cut together
after venturing to manhattan on the 13th (i live in brooklyn) i sat on
the footage awhile contemplating the frivolity and self-indulgence of
making a cohesive piece from it. your article inspired me to do just that
so i feel obligated to share. not so much for your criticism (which, by
the way, i wouldn't mind) but my need to share with someone like yourself,
who is so sympatheteic to the filmmakers struggle and needs. thanks again
for all your wisdom and inspiration and i hope my art still matters.
I was at the Linklater talk
today, and didn't get a chance to thank you in person. What strikes me
most, and inspires me, about Linklater is that he seems to be creating
for all the right reasons--to express himself, and work with interesting
people, to learn, and explore his subjective world. As much as we all
want formulas for how to become a Filmmaker, he, and the Cassavetes book
I'm working through, are liberating me from such formulas. I really would
like to see "It's Impossible to Plow By Reading Books" if you
can get a hold of a copy, because the idea of putting two years into making
a film with yourself really sparks me. I really agree with him about defending
yourself through the cloud of judgement in development, and the advice
to "go easy on yourself" in your early twenties will hopefully
stick to my brain. That 25th b-day has been on my mind too. I know it's
a staple in your work, but I'm just discovering Emerson, "Self Reliance"
and some other writings. And it's clearly a process of finding MY genius.
And I can FEEL it sometimes, it's there, but it isn't just gonna come
out on its own. A million artists can tell you of the struggles, but there's
no way of going into it informed--Linklater seemed pretty up front about
that, he never seems to quite know what he's getting into. I love that.
The film blew me away as well. I wrote about it last night when I got
home from the screening--highlights:
I can't imagine anyone having
the same experience with Richard Linklater's Waking Life; and therein
lies the magic of it. The priveledge of experiencing a communal dream,
yet being able to talk with your dearest about the differences--in eyes,
ears, brains, and hearts. It's a common experience working to provoke
differences in perception--and what a beautiful thing to come out of a
film. Isn't this the type of communication that opens up the possiblities
of understanding, opening minds, learning, loving?
As the boy begins to encounter
the array of burning souls walking the edges of his unconsciousness, it's
the ideas that matter. Plot simply is presented in its real life form;
if you choose to be aware of it, it's there. The boy passes through the
worlds of wildly original minds at work. These minds all seem to share
a dissatisfaction with contemporary life (yet isn't dissatisfaction inherent
in any ambitious person?), yet they clearly possess a passion for figuring
out how to thrive within it. As these characters spout their inner-most
thoughts, their most prized revelations, the animated bodies stay constanly
in motion--pulsating, flailing, and spewing tangible images from heads
full of abstract thoughts. The animators aren't merely providing us with
the character's flesh, they're drawing the kinetic energy that drives
each of these souls mad with excitement. The ideas reverberate in our
minds. Each moment the film flicks, it ambitiously forges ahead--in search
of the sublime, and finding it more than not; realizing miracles; devouring
each second of the process; and finding a Holy Moment with Caveh to boot
(NOTE TO SELF: REMEMBER THIS HOLY MOMENT!) And the movie won't take no
for an answer. It convinces us through sheer passion and will alone, a
desire to express and be heard, that now is the most exciting time to
be alive.This sort of spirit bleeds onto the celluloid; the screen perspires
pure inspiration. It's human. Furthermore, seeing "Waking Life" with people
matters. The creators of this film transcend the dreadful frustration
of trying to tell our loved ones about that truly profound dream we all
have at one point, yet can never recapture in mere words. Linklater and
friends one-up the viscious gods who one day decided to make dreams such
a private experience. They use the latest tools of cinema, their love
and labour, and personal expression to log a dream for us all to experience
and remember--and most importantly, share. This breakthrough flirts with
some of the (capital "I") Ideals of personal filmmaking. It's dreaming
I hope this interests you,
I felt like sharing it. I just finished the Husbands chapter and am
into the beginning of Minnie and Moskowitz and am finding it somehow
more inspiring than the previous pages. I wish I had a question, but you
seem to cover it all. Though it partially still remains, My god! What
was this man like? The next best answer than him being alive, is in the
Thanks again, I know you must
be busy, but as I get inspired, I write.
thank you again for your wonderful
words and spirit. i appreciate you taking time to write me and to be so
honest and open. i'm getting the feeling that it is what you are about.
i am thankful to say that i
have finally returned to editing in the last two days... finally batteling
more with the old creative insecurities instead of the overwhelming burdens
of purpose. your words have helped me tremendously. fortunately editing
gives me a lot of technical guidelines/order. returning to rewriting my
script will be a very different challenge again.
i also checked out your website
and read the articles in the independent vision section. a lot of food
for thought and very inspiring. i had come across your response to the
request "how do we make a cassavettes movie" a while ago (my
friend, matt langdon weiss, usually keeps me up on the subjects/works
of mr. cassavettes and yourself) i applaud you for that response as well.
it will take me a bit to read
everything on your site but i am looking forward to finding out more about
your stance on film and art, and possibly challenging my views.
again, i did post part of your
e-mail on my site and i also provided a link to your site. if you like
to check it out, you can go to that page directly: http://www.geocities.com/summersquashxx/status
(that way you can skip the opening/title page).
i will definitely keep you
posted on any major developments with my film. hopefully you will appreciate
the end product one day and the fact that you have been a source of strength
during the process.
thank you again and please
keep going as well, we are listening!
Dear Mr. Carney,
a friend of mine forwarded
your article "Art Still Matters... Now More Than Ever" to me.
I would like to applaud your for that article. It has given me and many
of my friends, I subsequently shared it with, strength, focus and hope.
I don't want to bore you with
my personal account and testimony, but I would like to express what your
words have meant to me.
For years it has been my artistic
vision to make "truth-telling" films about human beings and
their interaction. My goal has been, as futile and naive as it seems sometime,
to maybe reach a few individuals who will open their minds and hearts
to understanding and showing a little bit more compassion to others that
might be different from or just a plain mystery to them.
For about two years I have
been working on a feature project called "Summersquash". We
were supposed to have a fundraiser party for it Sept. 19th in the East
Village in Manhattan. I postponed the party to a yet unknown date. And
it has been impossible to me to pick up the pieces since then and continue
editing the sequence we shot, rewrite the third act, work on the business
We hear a lot about artists
that are able to deal with the recent shock and despair through their
artwork. But I still find it very difficult to continue the work on a
project started before the tragedy, one that does not seem to directly
relate. When the project meant everything before. As it seemed to one
of my co-producers who escaped WTC 7 and the collapsing buildings and
held on to her "Summersquash" folder as if it was the most important
thing in her life.
Reading your article again
and again it gives me hope that I will be able to focus again. That I
will be able to continue to work, that it does matter.
I was so free to post your
article on the website for my project. (http://www.summersquash.net) I
hope that you don't mind. Please let me know if you do.
Of course, I don't expect you
to reply to my mail otherwise. I just wanted to let you know that you
made a difference for some people you don't know. Thank you.
Sincerely, Luci Westphal-Solary
Dear Mr. Carney,
My name is Conor Jensen and
I'm settling in after my first few weeks here at BU, having just transferred.
I'm a sophomore film major, and looking to make art. Art or nothing. Cassavetes'
films fortunately found their way into my life three years ago, and since,
I haven't found films that have inspired me or encouraged my pursuits
more than his. They've changed the way I experience movies, life, and
now, when I look for a film, I'm only looking for the movies that when
the last frame flashes on the screen, I can honestly say I'm not the same
person I was three hours ago. Because what John showed me, as well as
a a few other filmmakers, is that movies can BE that. Miracles. What a
beautiful thing, to create, learn, and if done properly, awaken people's
senses and emotions. I'm currently learning it's a grueling and neverending
process--finding your honest voice.. I think it's the most important search
in my life. I hope to use my time at BU to constantly search and learn.
My voice shouldn't only emerge in my movies, but in my life as well. Otherwise,
art means nothing, and I don't really see any more value in movies than
as a means to pass the time. John learned how to live through his movies.
He existed within his movies, fighting like hell to aggravate, inspire,
observe, and react to the moment--and keep it fresh on film. I always
tend to see a movie I want to make from behind a camera, urging me to
make a cut , or add some more plot to heighten the effect. But that's
false, John could sense what actually was going on in the scene. I want
to shift my focus from cinematic techniques to things like the acting,
scripting, and complexity of character emotions and behavior--the truly
ambitious things. I want to explore humans, not perform for them. Being
interested in Cassavetes, naturally I discovered your writing and your
place in the BU film program, and quite honestly, it's a large part of
the reason I'm here. My Cassavetes book is the most dog-eared of my collection,
and I'm liking what I've read of the Capra book. In my previous film classes,
I've been beaten over the head with the Kael quotes, the Lynch clips (aka
Lynch-ings), and the meditative meanings, to borrow your term. I think
back to the times when I first got interested in movies, watching tons
of them, and never reading reviews or intellectual treatments of them.
When I picked up my first movie books, my perceptions of film digressed
in most respects. I believed all the books said, preaching it to my friends
and myself. Finding your writing was a blessing. It hit me at an instinctual
level, taking me back to the natural things I felt about film before my
brain was inundated with the Welles, Hitchcock, and Coens "genius."
It tapped in to my desire to see things differently, and make films with
real emotions and sincerity. I still see the cleverness and wit of the
popular films, but I think you helped me articulate what I really wanted
to get at with film, and it's not that useless wit and self-appreciation.
Honestly, I really don't see those films or type of people as "perfect,"
but as poseurs of perfection. Everything and everybody is flawed, and
to create that gray ambigous world I see every day, and make films with
technical and narrative flaws, is to me more interesting and beautiful.
John did that. The Coens, Solondz, and Arnofsky are fooling themselves
and their fans (which seems to be everyone in the film world) and denying
what's really important. It's hard to be around that all the time. I am
very much looking forward to taking as many of your classes as I can here
at BU, because I think you're treating film with the seriousness and respect
it has always deserved. Currently I'm in Kociemba's intro class, and it
should be interesting to see how many kids will be open to the Rappaport,
Friedrich, and Renoir films, and make discoveries about what film can
really do at its most artistic. I lent _Faces_ and _The Killing of a Chinese
Bookie_ to my previous film professor who was a Scorsese freak. Afterwards,
having known Cassavetes influenced Scorsese, he asked me what I thought
Cassavetes would have done with the current $80 mil. budget that Scorsese
has. He thought Cassavetes would make something similar to _Gangs of New
York_. I contend he'd write a check to the suits for $79 million with
a nasty note attached telling 'em not to touch his picture. He just didn't
get why Cassavetes would never get or want that kind of money to make
a film. One more thing--I'd like to get a copy of _Cassavetes on Cassavetes_
and the book you wrote on _Shadows_. Should I go through the mail, or
drop money off at the COM building, and pick the books up there? Whatever
is easier. Thanks for listening to my thoughts, and for your writing;
hope to meet you in the near future.
Sincerely, Conor Jensen
I'm a cohert of Rob Nilsson's
and have psarticipated in his Nine at Night series. I have my own thing
going in LA where I do experimental narrative films and documentaries.
I also give a workshop in free creative personal expression. This intro
is only necessary to give substance to my response to your book"CASSAVETES
My background is New York and
the Actor's Studio and the influences of Kazan and Strasberg and Clurman
et al. Books by these legendary figures mare legendary nostalgia. An inspiration
in memory of a day long gone by and frankly no longer relevant in these
crass times of total commercialism. Cassavetes on Cassavetes by comparison
is a book so relevant to these times, so necessary for these times , so
needed by all who need to confront their fears and dreams and so needed
and necessary for all who fear to dream.This book is so intensley fraught
with the life stuff of failure and persistence and despair and faith.
It is for the brave hearted and the faint hearted who have the brave stuff
hidden under hopelessness. It is for the independent artist but also for
the artist not yet self discovered who needs independence.. It is for
all true creative actors and actors who need to be. It is for all independent
minded filmmakers and renegade spirits who should be.It is for everyone,
in or out of the arena of filmmaking. If it preaches to the choir the
choir waits to enlarge and propagate.
I cannot put the book down.
Everything John says in essence and spirit comes from my heart also. And
I sday this not as a blind fan or disciple of John's films for there is
much of his films I find forced and dehumanized and actorish. I am totally
into the human experience on film not forced but honestly and freely behavioralized.
In this regard I differ from Nilsson also. But John and his films are
a continual and emotional inspiration for me. I am grateful to him for
his life and determined journey and I am grateful to Ray Carnyfor his
dedication in keeping the spirit and purpose of John Cassavetes alive
for all of us.
Please never give up your work
and efforts in this regard. This book of yours is more than an inspiration,
it is a Bible to the hungry soul of the artist. I am insisting that everyone
associated with my workshop get the book and keep it for life. I also
am assaulting people on the streets and i9nsisting likewise. No I am not
as crazy as John but I understand him in the depths of my being.
Dear Professor Carney,
Thank you for dropping me
a notice about the impending publication of "Cassavetes on Cassavetes"
and "Shadows". I'm actually in the middle of a second reading
of "The Films of Mike Leigh" right now. I'll certainly be picking
up copies of your two new works. I don't know how my name found its way
to you, but I'm guessing someone must have pointed you at my 'Genafer'
essay. I actually considered sending you a letter when it was first published,
but felt that the essay was too weak, and the forum (a site devoted to
the work of a Hollywood actress) would have turned you off. I really loved
the process of researching 'Genafer', but later realized I made a mistake
by not beginning any writing until I had finished my exploration. By the
time I began to create the actual essay, I already had my answers. Classic
Your work has profoundly changed
and enriched my understanding of the power and potential of film. I can
be counted on to thrust a copy of your 'Path of the Artist' series into
the hands of any friend expressing more than the merest interest in film.
Your ideas are so simple in one way, yet they seem also to submlimate
so easily. They're a kind of water in the desert of the culture we find
ourselves in. I find myself needing to go to the well again and again.
That's okay though, because the well is an interesting place. Reading
your work has given in me a kind of filter that I use constantly to bypass
a lot of nonsense and better identify the rare, worthwhile experience.
I'm really looking forward
to "Cassavetes on Cassavetes". His ideas and work are deeply
humbling and have affected my views on personal, political and aesthetic
levels. I believe Jennifer's new film, 'The Anniversary Party', is opening
this weekend in Boston. While it is perhaps a touch more Woody Allen than
Cassavetes, there are moments. I think Jennifer's heart is in the right
place, she's been referencing Cassavetes and "A Woman Under the Influence"
in interviews. I'm really excited about her move into directing and am
hoping for great things in the future.
Anyway, I just want you to
know that your message, and John's message, have been heard and understood.
We're young and crazy and we'll fight for you both. Blast them one more
Dear Dr. Carney,
I hope your school year has
gotten off to a stimulating and joyous one for you so far.
At my last contact, I had stated
that I had opened up a very small talent agency here in Virginia, which
primarily seeks to engage in small independent films, industrials, and
I've consequently had some
very alarming and quite insightful experiences working with a few of the
Hollywood film studios in the past year.
The experience has led me to
a greater understanding that that which comes from the heart is directly
linked to that which appears on the screen. Sobering and truthful encounters
yes, but it further confirmed for me the convictions for the love of art,
and for the need for real truth to be brought forth at any cost. Not to
mention the damaging images that constantly impress upon the souls of
What I endeavor to do is to
seek out a few people whom I can trust, that are diligent screenwriters/producers,
in forming a collaborative in which we can join together for the constructive,
and intellectual engagement of developing stories from concept to finish.
The group does not have to be large...just committed with passion, and
truly find that there overall purpose is in the examination of the human
condition, as well as a thoughtful observation of the world, and its current
I might include at this time
my own concerns as well for the state of the "so-called" African-American
music and film industry. As an African-American man I am deeply concerned
with what is easily being relegated as "our culture", and the
images that supposedly reflect it. This reality is one which has, I believe,
given me a higher duty or responsibility than sheer entertainment, but
to truly find those who have been blessed with various talents, and to
not compromise for the mere sake of personal gain (I don't know...maybe
that's near impossible to find these days), and vain glory.
I've been greatly encouraged
this past summer by the readings of Rookmaaker's "Modern Art and
the Death of a Culture", as well as the section on Art from Abraham
Kuyper's "Stone Lectures". They have been tremendous sources
of light, and are the very means by which I've come to the conclusion
that art demands respect, truth, dignity, nobility. But even more so the
acceptances of lies to that which shows itself to the world as art, may
indeed not be. We do not need to bow the knee to Baal, and become involved
in their corruption.
I know you to be a man (from
your writings) that still yearns for the truth and true artistic expression
in film. That is why I hope to keep our communication open, and would
ask that if there may be those whom you know who hunger after truth, the
beauty, pain, and redemption which is the thread which lies within all
of our lives, no matter what race, creed, religion...then I would ask
that you may either refer them to me, or feel free to give them my email
address. Those whom are ready for an adventure, and a battle, and would
like to work on a team in scripting and developing screenplays. I would
hope that our formation at this time would include both writers, as well
as independent producers.
I appreciate your time in this
matter, and please feel free to contact me at your convenience, if there
is any additional information in which I can share with you. Thank you
again for your time, and have a blessed day.
Hello Prof. Carney,
A little under a year ago,
two days after Christmas, I was lying on my couch, half dead, staring
at the televsion but not really watching it. I had just been released
from the hospital. I had Mono, but was admitted because I was dehydrated.
My parents had gone out to get supper when I heard the doorbell ring.
It was my uncle, and he brought with him a "sick gift." It was
Rick Schimt's book. I think you know where this is going...
I read your essay and it set
off a tirade of emotions. "How dare he tell me this, and attack filmmakers
like Tarantino." But, thank you sir, you made me think. While I still
enjoy Tarantino's works, among other works you criticize (Citizen Kane,
especially, which i feel such a strong connection to, and plan on writing
a defensive essay on someday, showing Welles as an artist...), I have
to mostly agree with you. Hollywood makes me sick to my stomach. If one
more John Travolta movie is shoved down my throat, I'm going to scream.
But more importantly, I feel I have a supporter in my ideas of film. Let
me explain. I am a student here at BU. Unfortunatly, I was placed in CGS
and not into COM as I had applied. But, BU was the only school I was accepted
to. MassArt never recieved my application (though begged me to re-apply),
I was rather coldly strung along by Emerson (who claimed i was "deferred"
and asked me to send some samples of work. I sent them a video tape with
over an hour of things I had done with a video camera, not having access
to anything else , or a crew usually, for that matter. I also sent a manila
envelope stuffed to the brim with writing. They rejected me in the end.
My father said he made a call asking why I wasn't accepted, and claims
my work was too off the wall. I still think my father was just trying
to cheer me up.) and NYU gave me the cold shoulder. I was ready to not
go to school at all, but decided ultimately to come here. After this experience,
I've been feeling creativity doesn't matter. I feel as if I could direct
one of these "Hollywood" films with my hands! tied behind my
back and my pant s down. Why must everyone rant and rave about "the
new summer blockbuster" when it's trash (fun trash, yes, but still
trash). And, my personal pet peeve, family telling me they can't wait
to see me "at the Oscars", only for them to get a puzzled look
on their face when I tell them that is the last place I would like to
I've always felt that I've
had these ideas that needed to be expressed through film. I'm not sure
why, but film has been the medium I've wanted to work in. I want to make
these films to yes, in the true clichéd form of the phrase, prove a point,
but more over, I want to make these films to help myself. I keep telling
myself my work will justify what goes on in reality. I'm not concerned
what people think, and I do very much want for people to see my films,
but I won't compromise. Is that so wrong? I'm planning to start filmming
a short 8mm work in December over the Winter Break. The "plot"
is shoddy and weak, and so isn't the idea (America's Obsession with the
famous, and what it fuels), but I hopefully can work these things out,
though the idea is the important part. I've been thinking a lot lately
too, about what I'm doing in CGS. I'm not sure if it's worth my time to
wait to get into a film program. I was wondering if you could in fact
give me some advice on the subject. I found myself writing a book report
on "The Forest People", when for some reason, your writing popped
into my brain. I dropped writing it and read some of your webpage. My
point, being, while important to learn about Pygmies in Africa, and other
cultures in fact, would it be in fact better for me to commit my time
to film making? It was quite apparent to me that I'd rather be reading
about film and art other than reviewing spitting back out a plot framework
that isn't what is important about the wor! k into a report which is essenti
ally busy work. Are the two years worth the wait for this film program
offered at the University? I am an avid reader of just about anything,
and have always loved to study a variety of things, from Paleontology
to the Arts. So is this "University Education" worth persuing?
Also, I am amidst writing a
screenplay with a very good friend of mine. Or idea was to spit directly
into the face of the public, and everything they hold dear, but constricted
into the refines of a film they would watch. But it seems my friend is
constantly unsure if the story will work, or if people will watch it.
Any suggestions on how to fire back at him, to help him get his head back
into the writing?
Well, I must thank you for
your time, and apologize for the length. Also, I apologize for any grammatical
errors, as it is 3:30 in the morning, and also I am horrible with spelling
and grammar and often butcher the English language.
I just watched "A Consant
Forge" and as a huge Cassavetes fan I certainly drank all of it up
gluttenously. But, as it finished 3 1/2 hours later I came to this conclusion:
As much as I cherish any tidbit about his life, I couldn't help but feel
that JC would think the documentary was bullshit. Where was THEIR integrity
as they celebrated his. Where was THEIR honesty? There was absolutely
no mention of his drinking. No mention of his weaknesses. He would vomit
at this schmultzy love letter. Using his works as a measuring stick, the
documentary to me was a total failure in effort alone. It is the equivalent
of a crappy soap opera. I know they had the reference material, because
so much of "Cassavetes on Cassavetes" was recited.
That said, I was also surprised
to see the lack of footage from Minnie and Moskowitz, Gloria and (I believe)
Love Streams. Were their rights problems or was this the filmmakers choice.
Any comments on any of these
issues would be greatly appreciated.
Ray Carney replies:
to all of your questions are elsewhere on the site. The Kiselyak doc.was
a slip-shod "authorized" biography with all the shortcomings
of a work that sets out to please a movie star, Gena Rowlands in this
case. It's a sanitized, superficial, romanticized version of Cassavetes'
life and work.
As to why it
includes some clips and not others, well, that's because those are the
particular clips that Gena Rowlands let Kiselyak use for free. He would
have had to pay to use the others and when making a dollar is the goal,
that meant he simply dropped clips from those other films from the work.
About the narration:
It was stolen from my Cass on Cass book without payment or permission.
I found out it was used this way when I saw the film. I protested. Kiseyak
had a lawyer reply to my protest, in effect denying it all and telling
me I would have to prove my case in court. You see how things work? Money
a question for you: Why has no critic or reviewer in America mentioned
the above facts and events? Mentioned the awfulness of the documentary
that is obvious to you on a first viewing? Mentioned the discussions of
the things above that are readily available on my web site? Mentioned
the stealing of my material? Mentioned my firing from the Criterion project
and removal of my name after I already did hundreds of hours of work on
talks about "the institutional control of discourse." C. Wright
Mills talks about how the "power elite" write the narratives
that we call "news." Neil Postman talks about "entertaining
ourselves to death." Read any of them and you will have a good start
on understanding what's wrong with film criticism and film reviewing today.
Reviewers are suck-ups to celebrity. In awe of power, wealth, and fame.
Cowards, bureaucrats, time-servers more interested in careerism and maintaining
good relations with people in power than in truth-telling.
So that's the
real answer, the deep answer to your questions.
all of that and go out and do something creative! Negativity does nothing.
Railing and raging does nothing. Regretting does nothing. Creativity can
change the world. If they don't lock us up first!!!!
Just do it!
Hello, My name is Joe Jones.
I am a film student at Columbia College in Chicago. I have read many of
your writings concerning John Cassavetes and his films. Thank you for
introducing me to such a supreme artist. I have seen several of his works
but not his complete filmography. Recenty I learned of one of his last
films - Gloria. But I have not seen this film discussed by you in any
of your writings. I haven't seen the film yet, but I was just curious
as to why you rarely mention it. Thank you for taking the time to read
this message. Joe
I just did an interview with the New York Post about "Native American
cinema" and I said, after a long series of rote questions: "Why
don't you ask me something dangerous?" And she said, "What's
dangerous?" "Well, I said, I know all of the other Indian filmmakers
you're talking about, and I know that none of them have made a film that
is dangerous to them. I know their personal histories and I know they
never, never include even the smallest piece of autobiography in their
films. You might think they're making personal films, and that's the independent
world's mantra (my personal film! my personal film!), but they're Indians
making movies about Indians they don't even know. They're all making reservation
movies and none of them has ever lived on the reservation. Two of them
were adopted as newborns by white families and raised in small white towns.
Three of them have lived in Manhattan for 12 years. Why aren't they making
movies about the subway, about Union Square, about the Strand Bookstore?
One of them lives two blocks from the Strand fucking bookstore and goes
there every damn day of his life, it's his church!, and why isn't that
in his movies? I tried to make a dangerous film and failed. But I tried.
When I sit in a theatre and watch our movie, I am filled with doubts and
insecurities, fear and shame, but also with a large measure of arrogance
and happiness. I hate it mostly and I try to love it. And when the two
or three scenes play, the ones that I think are good and poweful, then
I think maybe I can do this. Maybe I can make a movie that's important
and dangerous and powerful. Maybe I can work for years, and after ten
or twelve or twenty incomplete messes, I can finally make a good film.
And I know I'm not supposed to tell you this, because this is publicity
and I'm supposed to tell you how great it was to make this, and how great
I think it is, and how much solidarity I feel for my fellow Native American
filmmakers, but that's all bullshit. Just like me, all those other Native
American filmmakers are all alone with their demons and angels, and when
we set out to make a movie, we're either going to face those demons and
angels head-on or we're going to run away and hide behind metaphors and
the redemption of a 3-act structure. As an artist, I'm a failure, a complete
and glorious failure, and I shout it from the rooftops because I want
to get better and better and better, and I'm crazy enough to want people
to pay attention to me as I stagger along on this goofy little journey."
Let's see if she prints any
of that. God, I'm full of shit and hope!
I was just enjoying the excerpts
of your interview with Shelley Friedman. I couldn't agree more about your
opinion on Mulholland Drive. I said almost the exact same thing myself
when my wife and I watched it recently. I bought the DVD used (cheap,
thankfully) because she wanted to see it, naturally because people at
her work were discussing it and trying to figure out what it all means.
I suspected the answer beforehand, but after seeing it I knew: it means
nothing. We (I, especially) found it a joyless, meaningless experience.
You don't care a whit about the characters: a beautiful nonentity and
a beautiful, annoyingly naive ingenue. Two-and-a-half hours of tricks
and nonsense. Why is it that the people who recommend Mullholland Drive
are the same people who say "you have to see Memento" or "you
have to see Donnie Darko", etc.? My opinion is that they're gluttons
for punishment. It's a strange dynamic, but they seem to like films that
make them feel smart by making them feel stupid. Any comprehension whatsoever
of these incredibly dense, incomprehensible picture-puzzles feels like
an accomplishment, so they therefore are made to feel smart. On to more
worthwhile works. I did agree with your assessment of Ghost World. I was
already a fan of Dan Clowes and his original Ghost World comic (I'm not
a comic book person, but I admire the work of Clowes and also Chris Ware;
they are two guys who are accomplishing art in the comics medium), so
I was of course anxious to see the film. I liked it on first viewing,
but I felt that the two characters were too negative and derisive of others
around them, and that Zwigoff offered no criticism of that. On subsequent
viewings, I realized that he was actually offering subtle criticism of
their condescension towards the rest of the human race. At first I thought
he was just reveling in it: "Aren't we smart? Isn't everyone else
stupid?". Later on I realized that he actually was reveling in it
to a certain extent, because you can tell that he finds that kind of cynicism
funny--but he also shows that it is a dead end, and that it's harmful
to others and to yourself. And he shows that without condemning anyone.
When I saw it from that point of view, the film opened up for me a lot.
A film I saw recently that I liked very much was L.I.E., directed by Michael
Cuesta. Have you seen that one? I admired how he take a character that
would typically be nothing more than a villain (an ex-Viet vet Marine
who is a pedophile) and shows that although he's a guy who is capable
of committing immoral acts, he's also a person who is capable of kindness
and friendship. Brian Cox did a great job making the character believable,
and likable, without letting you forget what he does and what he is capable
of, and without demonizing him or making the character too likable. Have
you seen Far >From Heaven? I plan on seeing it tonight. It's gotten
great reviews, which almost worries me, but it sounds as if it may be
a fine film. I'd be interested in hearing your opinion on it. Best,
Adam Mutterperl, here. Remember
How are you?
You've been prolific these
last few years! I've almost finished reading Cassavetes on Cassavetes,
and I absolutely can't wait to delve into the Leigh book next.
I probably never expressed
this to you, but you had a tremendous impact on me, my ideas about film,
and art in general. I want you to know that. Through your teaching and
your writings, you've provided me with the analytical tools to smell falsity
and manipulation from a mile away, and to seek out the truth. For this
I thank youóon one level. But on another level I curse the day
I set foot into your Understanding Film class. As if my struggle to make
a living in the "entertainment industry" isnít difficult
enough, I have to deal with Professor Carneyís voice in the back
of my head reminding me to be truthful! Unfortunately, being truthful
can be poisonous when youíre an unknown filmmaker desperate to
raise money for a project. So I often find myself writing frivolous things,
and having to deal with the cognitive dissonance.
Anyway, I made a 16mm feature
film in 1998 (the year after I graduated). It was ultra low budget: using
short ends, with no professional actors or crew. I donít think
it is by any means a masterpiece, but I was wondering if I could send
you a VHS copy and get your feedback. It would mean a lot to me. The reason
I didnít do this earlier is because I have been absolutely terrified
to send it to you. I feel I know what you'd say: that I copped out, that
I didn't challenge the audience enough, that the film is 'light', and
that I resorted to some conventional methods of filmmaking in order to
push the story forward, etc.
But itís been a couple
of years now (the film was finished in 2000), and Iím a little
bit less self-conscious about the whole thing. And I canít think
of anyone elseís opinion that I value more.
What do you say?
Thanks in advance, Adam Mutterperl
Hello. I'm a Comunication student
from Mexico. I write this to you for many reasons. I first know of your
work for my film teacher René Herrera, and I've benn reeeding ayour
essays (I'd particulary love The path of the artist 3). And want to say
that I love your idea of cinema as an art. In the begeining I tought that
they have only boil down things that I truly belive since a long time
ago, but now, that I'm writing the first script that I really like, I
see that it is in a huge part due to the help of your w! ritings. I've
always wanted to show trougt images, the interior texture of life, in
others word, see the inside mouvement of a single, simple, ephemeral,
and trascendental mouvement just when you catch it, and it canges you.
So, I'm trying and I'm not sure that I'll make it, but I keep remember
Thank's again, you have benn
very heplfull to me. I was very happy to see that you mention Tarkovsky's
work, (he is my favorite director) it is this kink of work that can be
called great art (not only good art) because it changes you the momento
you see it, and after tou see it you will never be the same again. Ho!
Your thoughts on art remembered me the "pièces noires"
of Anouilh... Thak you very much, It is amazing to find people who still
defend cinema es an art.
I hereby declare you a national
treasure! Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. I've long thought
you should find a way to get your philosophy to humanity for their salvation
from the dead conformity they're in. Truly! You are right, film study
alone is too limiting for your mind and the audience too small. I wish
everyone could benefit from your insights and be saved from the culture
Forgive me taking the liberty
of distilling a few thoughts from your writing and combining with some
thoughts of my own as a way of irreverent response - put into some spontaneous
bad free-form poetry... What the heck, why not, you won't judge me too
harshly, I'm sure of it. Besides, I am making my own rules! My way of
playing and having fun...
The Gospel According to Carney...
Good news! You who are searching
for meaning in your life You who feel empty... scared... manipulated...
bored Bombarded with millions of messages everyday Everywhere you turn
Robbed of your humanity Deprived of your divinity Cheated of your soul
Unaware of what you've lost. Brainwashed and brain-dead Unable to think,
to feel, to see.
Good news! According to the
Gospel of Carney Deprogram Unplug Take a risk Rewire your brain With new
capacities to respond. Reclaim your life Pay the cost. The secret is simply
Think your own thoughts Feel
your own feelings Live your own life.
Turn away from the crowd. Forget
all the rules. The answer is within you.
The way is not easy The road
is hard There is no one right answer There is only you.
An authentic life awaits you
More beautiful, more true, Explore the unexplored Begin and end with you.
Good news! According to the
Gospel of Carney Salvation of, by and through Follow the path of the artist.
The power is all within you.
P.S. I haven't read all of
the articles yet, so you are forewarned - there may be more responses!
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