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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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A note from Ray Carney: On the subject of teaching the young to sell their souls (read the top and bottom of the preceding Mailbag page 53 for more on that topic), read the following article from The Los Angeles Times about how screenwriting is taught at a major American university. Why do we do this to our students? Why would a screenwriting program hold "pitch-sessions" of this sort? Why would they invite a reporter from The Los Angeles Times to sit in on them in this way? What values are we communicating to our students when we do this? What does the article tell us about the reporter's (and his editor's) opinion of film and film study? I won't answer the questions; I'll let you read the article and come to your own conclusions. I think it speaks for itself. What does it tell you? (To read other related material on the site, click here and follow the links on the pages you are taken to. Or go to the middle of page 61 of the Mailbag and read my comments to a student mentioned in the L.A. Times article. Let me repeat and emphasize something I say there: My problem with this article is not with the students. My problem is with their teachers, and with how our culture treats movies, and how university film programs and the reporters that write about them treat this subject.)

For another consideration of teaching students how to conduct "pitch-sessions" to promote their work, and a more general discussion the commercialization of film education in American universities, see the "Note from Ray Carney" at the bottom of Mailbag page 62 (accessible by clicking on the blue page menu at the top or bottom of this page).

Copyright 2006 The Los Angeles Times. All rights reserved.

Making a play for Hollywood
Boston University sends its film students to the heart of the movie industry.

By Bob Pool, Times Staff Writer
December 16, 2006

The plot thickened the minute the Massachusetts film students told the Hollywood experts their movie ideas.

Seven fledgling screenwriters from Boston University had spent months, even years, meticulously crafting the stories they hoped would help launch successful entertainment industry careers. Now they were scattered around a recreation room at the Park La Brea apartment complex in the Fairfax district, nervously explaining story lines and character development to some of Hollywood's most successful film and TV writers. The veterans were there to critique the newbies' stories and their salesmanship. Later, a second group - producers with the clout to actually buy stories - would listen to the student pitches. "Pitch fests" are common in Hollywood, and they can be anxiety-inducing. Commercially organized story-selling conferences attract wannabe screenwriters of all ages willing to pay hundreds of dollars for a 10-minute opportunity to hawk a movie proposal or script to studio types. Local schools that have cinema and television classes, including USC, stage them for graduate students. But Boston is 2,600 miles from Hollywood. And Beantown's culture is far different from Tinseltown's. Boston University tries to bridge both gaps by having film students spend a semester in Hollywood. The program costs students $20,000 each, including accommodations at Park La Brea, and mixes course work with entertainment industry internships. The 3 1/2 -month visits are capped with a university-organized pitch fest. "They couldn't do this in Boston," said university writing instructor Brian Herskowitz, a longtime television writer (episodes of "Blossom" and "Tour of Duty") who recruited the event's panel of professionals. Justin K. Rivers, a 22-year-old senior film major from Amsterdam, N.Y., said movie-making seems different on his side of the country. "It's harder because being in Boston, we've been exposed to more of an East Coast mentality. Out here the films are a little more commercially oriented," he said. "When you get out here, you have to figure out how this town works."

Nearby, Nicole Adams, a Boston native and a graduate theater arts student, nodded in agreement. Like Rivers, she is on her first visit to Los Angeles. "You have to get used to the people and the mentality out here. I love it and then I hate it. I hate the fast talking, the I-need-to-be-better-than-you attitude," said Adams, also 22. Nonetheless, Hollywood is sprinkled with Boston University alumni, said Bill Linsman, a veteran commercial producer and director who oversees the school's West Coast program. They include Lauren Shuler Donner, producer of "X-Men" movies, "Mr. Mom" and "Free Willy"; Jason Alexander, a writer and director and an actor whose shows include "Seinfeld"; and Richard Gladstein, producer of "The Cider House Rules" and "Finding Neverland."

Soon it was story-pitching time. Rivers sat down in front of Allan Katz, a TV writer-producer whose work has included "Roseanne" and "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." Adams took her place at the next table, where producer-writer Carla Kettner was waiting. Kettner's shows have included episodes of "Vanished" and "Strong Medicine." Rivers, a science fiction fan, had three stories for Katz. One involved aliens and cowboys and one centered on a businessman using zombies to conquer a small upstate New York town. The third was what Rivers called a "fantasy adventure" revolving around a 13-year-old girl who unleashes a horde of creatures "locked in a parallel universe" from the attic of an old hotel in New York City. The pitch was quick. Katz's response was gentle. "Have you thought about what an audience is going to do if characters get eaten at the very beginning? What does that do to the tone of the film? I'm not making a judgment," Katz said diplomatically of the hotel story. "You've got innocents who get killedŠ. I think for a family type of film, most people want things to work out to be OK." Rivers nodded. "That's true. You want the happy ending."

At Kettner's table, Adams was outlining a complicated-sounding story focusing on an 11-year-old girl who is being raised in a subway and one day discovers "that she cannot sing."

Adams, herself a singer, had considered putting her pitch to music. But she decided that might be too radical, even in Hollywood.

She'd worked on the story for four years, Adams explained. Her lead character must sing in order to save her brother's life. The girl's effort to learn how to sing "opens painful memories" but ultimately helps lead her mother out of drug addiction, she said. Kettner said the story needed more focus. She suggested beefing up the tension between the girl and her mother. "She cannot talk. If there's something urgent she has to tell her mother, she has to find her voice to deliver that message. That's cool, exciting, kind of a psychological thriller," Kettner said. But "if it's just to say, 'I love you, mom' or 'I don't love you, mom,' then it's not enough of a story to get somebody to write a check for." After the practice pitch period ended, Rivers and Adams mulled over their options. He paced at the side of the recreation room. She sat slumped in a chair near the corner. Both wondered if their movie proposals could be tweaked before the story-buying producers showed up for the event's second half. "People start getting killed as soon as the demon creatures get unleashed. As soon as they hit the hotel lobby, they start eating guests and doing horrible things," Rivers said. "Do I want it to be a really dark kind of movie where I can kill off those characters and have those consequences, or do I want it to be more of a family-friendly movie?" Adams was in her own quandary. "I realize now that one of my main characters in the story I've been working on for years does not have a concrete obstacle and a concrete destination," she shrugged. By the time the producers arrived, Rivers had come up with an easy way out of his dilemma. He bumped up the age of the girl who is his lead character from 13 to 18 so she would appeal to an older audience. A second change was easier still. "I switched from calling it a 'fantasy adventure' to calling it a 'fantasy thriller,' " he said. It worked. Several of the professionals voiced an interest in Rivers' work, as they did with several other Boston students' stories. Adams did not get a nibble. "There's a little disappointment since I've been working on my story a long time," Adams said. "I love to write. But I'm a talented actor, a good singer. I can go a lot of different directions. This is a learning experience." That's character development.

Copyright 2006 The Los Angeles Times. All rights reserved.

A note from Ray Carney: I wish I could show this to everyone who writes me expressing the desire to "come to Boston University to study with" me. Maybe they'd see that I am not the program. Not close. Not nearly.

Subject: A Constant Forge, among other things

Hi Ray

I'm a film student from Ireland studying in Dun Laoghaire IADT and in the last year I have been reading the articles on your website after being introduced to it by a friend. You are probably sick of people saying this but your writing has really changed the way I watch and think about films as well as introducing me to a number of films and film makers.

One of the reasons I particularly wanted to write to you was to do with an article you wrote about the Cassavetes documentary A Constant Forge. I might misremember this but I think one of your main complaints against the documentary was that it idealized John Cassavetes and gave the impression that everybody on his set was a big happy family. I think you went on to make the point that this was irresponsible because younger film makers would look at it and say, "Why aren't my film sets like that?". I couldn't have agreed more. I had seen a good few of his films but didn't know much about how they were made. I saw the film last summer when I was preparing to make a short film. I was quite nervous about making the film and I felt a little bit discouraged after seeing A Constant Forge. I started to feel like I couldn't hope to be a good film maker since I'm not the same kind of expansive character that Cassavetes is portrayed as, and the relationships between me and my actors were nowhere near as close as the relationships Cassavetes had with his actors - he was married to one of them after all! That's why it meant a lot to read your article and hear someone say that this wasn't true, Cassavetes wasn't perfect. It would have been nice if someone who worked with John mentioned even though he was a nice guy, he was capable of being a manipulative asshole, like when he slapped Lynn Carlin in the face for instance.

I think it shows that it's irresponsible-either in fiction or documentary-to idealize or simplify the truth. It only alienates people.

On a totally different note, I noticed your list of recommenced viewing doesn't have any Irish films or film makers in it. That's fair enough really. There are a few good Irish films like Adam And Paul but most of our films are too close to Hollywood values. We haven't developed a national cinematic voice in the way that other European countries have. One or our politicians said that our economics were closer to Boston than Brussels. The same could be said of our films.

And finally, I went to the Galway Film Fleadh in June to see you talk at the showing of Woman Under The Influence but you never showed. What happened man?

Anyway, thanks for your website and your writing. Please keep it up. It's a constant source of inspiration.

All the best

Sean Plunkett

A note from Ray Carney:
I receive approximately ten emails a week that resemble the one that follows. (Click here to go to Mailbag page 53 and read a similar email and my reply to it.) Read the email to me and read my reply. I really have a problem with this sort of thing. Film students are desperate to get their work seen. That's a given. But should professors and film departments be subsidizing the advertising campaigns for The History Channel, The Discovery Channel, MTV, VH-1, and other commercial enterprises by encouraging students to work for them in this way for "slave wages"? Colleges do this with athletes already. College football, basketball, and hockey players provide shows for television executives to make money off of. Do we want the same thing to happen with student filmmakers? Do we want to pipeline them into working for corporate America, just because they are too young, too desperate for publicity, and too hungry for money and exposure to say no? Do I want to encourage my students to work creating advertising for TV?

These are not "academic" questions. My own film and television program devotes a lot of time and money, a lot of space and equipment, a lot of student time and effort to creating commercial programs for commercial television networks to make money off of. Students pay their tuition dollars to the university and end up working for free (or for minimal "slave" or "internship" wages) creating corporate material. The faculty are strongly in favor of it because (by using the student slaves or interns) they get to say that they "produced" or "directed" something that was broadcast on MTV or another cable network. But this seems to me all wrong. It is allowing business to dictate the educational agenda and distort the educational process. If some network or other corporate entity has a lot of money or prestige or other kind of clout, they can basically hijack the educational system and no one gives a damn since everyone is either making money off the whole thing or getting (what they regard as) "good PR" from it. Is this what education is supposed to be about--running the whole university the same way, with the same set of money-making values and public relations priorities, in terms of which Notre Dame runs its football program?

Please write in with your opinion. I would like to hear students' and filmmakers' views on this subject. How does your university let corporate values affect the educational agenda? -- R.C.

Subject: History Channel Contest for Emerson, BU, NYU, NYFA

From: Jennifer Vasquez <>

Happy Holidays! Just a quick reminder that The History Channel's DIGGING FOR THE TRUTH College Contest ends on January 17, 2007!

Lights! Camera! Action & Adventure! Get creative about action, adventure and history! Produce a 30-second promotional TV spot for DIGGING FOR THE TRUTH, the hit show on The History Channel, and enter for a chance to have it air nationwide on the History Channel and Zilo TV and win $1000.

The contest is only open to students from:

Emerson College
Boston University
NY Film Academy

So, what are you waiting for? How many college students can say that their work was featured on NATIONAL TELEVISION??

Visit for rules & details. Call 212.997.0505, ext 218 with any questions or email

RC replies:

Subject: feedback on history channel ad idea


Saw your follow-up email. The previous one must have gotten sorted out as spam. Forgive the delay in my reply.

Want to know my reaction? It's really sort of cheap on your part, isn't it? To pay someone for making a commercial one hundredth (or less than that!) what you would pay a professional to do the same thing. (Or to pay them a tiny tiny fraction of what you and others are being paid merely to publicize the offer.) A thousand dollars for a commercial to promote The History Channel. You spend more than that on a catered lunch. Students as slave labor, is that idea? Or is it just all PR for the History Channel and not really about the commercial that is being produced?

Please write me back and share your thoughts with me. I'd be curious what your take is on it. I'd love to have been a fly on the ceiling when this idea was batted about in one of the History Channel meetings. Or maybe it originated in an ad agency. Is that who you work for? It would all suddenly make sense if that's how it originated.  You are not even part of The History Channel. You're just using this as a pretext to promote it with students. Ah, yes, I see. In that case, the contemptuousness of your payment scheme would make sense.

Please do be in touch.


Ray Carney

A note from Ray Carney: Neither Jennifer Vasquez nor anyone else connected with The History Channel ever replied to the above request. If anyone at The History Channel or a similar network is reading this, I would love to debate an executive in a public forum about this practice of enlisting universities to encourage students to work as "slave labor" for their corporate marketing efforts. MTV-U, are you listening?

Subject: additions to the viewing list: oshima, hani, erice etc


Great list... lot of favorites, lot of things I've not seen, and most excitingly of all a lot of things I haven't heard about before ... In addition to those mentioned I'd also add: Oshima Nagisa

Shame that this master of Japanese cinema gets slept on ... His run from the mid-sixties to the seventies is one of the greatest in all of cinema. Very diverse style. His greatest are The Ceremony, Diary of A Shinjuku Thief, Night and Fog in Japan and Death By Hanging,

Hani Susuni's Nanami: Inferno of First Love Great, very sensitive japanese new wave film about a conflicted young man condemned of molesting a small child ... Criminally underlooked as is most JNW films

Victor Erice Very beautiful director reminiscent of both Tarkovsky and Kiarostami. The Spirit of the Beehive is truly one of the most gorgeous stretches of celluloid ever exposed, one of the truly few films to capture the magic of youth.. Sol de membrillo is also great yet a very different animal indeed, needs to be experienced

Stan Brakhage Really one of my big inspirations. Taught me how to see in new ways, and blew open many doors for me regarding cinema.. I love Commingled Containers, Dog Star Man and Mothlight in particular, but he's got so much stuff that's absolutely ESSENTIAL

Naruse Mikio Another japanese director... Seems to finally be getting his due on DVD now. I have really only seen one of his films - When A Woman Ascends the Stairs - but it was gorgeous, pretty ozu-esque in content but world's apart in style and featuring a very sensitive and finely felt lead performance by miss Takamine Hideko I don't think I've ever written to you before, so I'll grab the opportunity to commend you for the fabulous work you're doing. Seeing my first Cassavetes film for a little over a year ago at 15 (god, it feels like such a long time) was a mind-blowing experience, and your writing has made me search out the films of Bresson (my #1 fo a long long time now) Dreyer, Tarkovsky as well as slightly lesser known geniuses such as Burnett and Rosenblatt and Bujalski. I just learned that my local cinemateque will be screening some cassavetes early next year (partly from my request, and they've asked to use some of my writing as an intro ... a great honor for me obviously) and it'll be great to FINALLY get to experience them on the big screen ... now for the almost impossible question of what i'm going to watch.. i love them all!

Best regards from chilly Norway,

Emil Øversveen

RC replies:


Excellent additions! I shall post sometime after the holidays. Thanks for the good words about the site.

Persuade some local university or film festival to invite me. I'd love to see Norway. I've never been there. (Copenhagen is the closest I've come.) But would love to make the trip if someone can give me a plane ticket and a room.

Keep looking at the good stuff!


Ray, Looking for a copy (DVD VHS) of John Korty's Crazy Quilt. Note you use it in your classes, but I haven't been able to find it anywhere - (& you note it as "unavailable"). Is there anyway I can get a copy; or, who do I nudge to get it on the 'available' lists? Shame it still is in the vault. No, given our technology and the importance of the film, its a crime. Best to you, Red Slider


RC replies:


Agreed. Our culture is a disgrace. And the "art" situation reflects all the perversions of the almighty dollar, just as everything else does.

But: sorry I can't help. It was a personal gift from John Korty to me years ago. He gave me all his best work. The ultimate gift in my world. Better than money, fame, or power. (Don't have much of those things!) But I can't distribute bootleg copies. Illegal. Potential law suits. Hurt feelings. Bad blood. Gena R. has already cost me thousands of dollars in that vein, and I just can't afford more punishment. She's maxed out my "go to jail" Monopoly card.

FYI: It's an amazing movie. As are Funnyman and Riverrun. And I do feel your pain. But think of the pain of the indies themselves. And not just Korty. Many others. Many others.


From: "Grigsby, Tristan

To: "Ray Carney"

Hello Ray, Can you please inform me if there are two separate editions of Love Streams?

I rented one version and bought another version, one seemed badly edited and the other one made a little more sense with the story line with Sarah's character striving more to find out what love means (but in that difficult Cassavetes way, but just not completely incomprehensible like the other one). Thank you,


Where did you buy the copy? You don't mean a new video release, do you? Who issued it? On disk or tape? Let me know who released both of the copies you viewed and what format they were on. Recent prints have been mangled and old prints and videos were already mangled by Cannon, so the sky's the limit on mutilation. The mind reels at the possibilities.

But, but, but.... does anyone but you, me, or ten other people care? Where are the outraged comments in Film Comment and Sight and Sound and Film Quarterly? Where is Gena Rowlands?


Tristram Grigsby replies:


MGM released both copies I believe, or maybe both were canon (as you can see I am no scholar). One had an advertisement (trailer) for a movie on it and then went into the badly edited version. The other one I got as a gift that my mother bought off of at my urging and went straight into the film.

The first one must have been mangled and the one I have must seem good because I have the other one for a comparison, because now that I am writing this, the better of the two has problems as well.

Unfortunately they are both on tape because no one seems to want to release this man's masterpiece on dvd because there is no money to be made in releasing a Cassavetes movies. People don't want to work when they watch a movie they want it fed to them particularly now in these fat and pursy times.

You care, Ray (thank goodness that you love his stuff, because without your rare passion, there would be no book on him) and I care, and there are others but where they are now, I have no idea. The United States is a strange country and people seem to care mostly about shopping and for little else.

As for his wife, I do not know her nor do I understand her intentions, I have no idea what it is like to lose my spouse, writer, director, friend, etc. However to support that asshole (Charles Kiselyak) who made that criterion documentary film and used you, I do not understand that at all, nor do I understand her not releasing HIS version of Husbands, the one that you wrote that he preferred, makes no sense.

You are not alone in all of your days and ways, Ray Carney, I think about you and lonely John Cassavetes fighting the only fight loudly, and if they pay no attention, what of that?

Here is a little Yeats who must have felt similarly to you and JC sometimes, Ray (not really right for this specific occasion, but it will have to do on a rainy day in New York City):

I made my song a coat
covered with embroideries
Out of old mythologies
From heel to throat;
But the fools caught it, Wore it in the World's eyes
As though they'd wrought it.
Song, let them take it.
For there's more enterprise
In walking naked.

Keep fighting and don't give up on me, Ray, others care besides you and me, I promise.

(and wasn't it nice to know that his daughter sleeps with your book? I thought that was fantastic!)

RC responds:

Subject: Byzantium .... and here and now.....


Thanks for the cheering words and the Yeats poem. He's a favorite of mine. In fact, I just quoted the "turning and turning in widening gyre...," "the best lack all conviction...," and "what rough beast, its hour come round at last....." passage this afternoon to a friend worried about the destruction of the world. A subject dear to my heart, and everyone else's I would hope.

I'll never give up or give up on you. Ah, the things you, I, and others could do if WE ran the circus. The circus they call the world. But it's in other hands, alas. The video situation is, of course, trivial compared to the way the same business values are making foreign policy, energy policy, and climate policy; but they are symptomatic, and all these things are related. Money talks on this planet, and people like Bill Gates get rich via monopolistic practices producing buggy software, and no one squawks. In fact, he and those like him are adulated by the opinion makers when they give OUR money (the money they've stolen in exorbitant profits from you and me) to charity as a tax shelter. Oh, well, I better stop..... I'm clearly insane by the world's standards. Praise be.

Keep watching the good stuff, keep tending your soul, keep spreading the word to the right people. Love Streams is still pretty terrific, even if it was mangled by Cannon. It's like I always say: there's no such thing as a bad Chekhov production. The fact that it's Chekhov (or Cassavetes in this instance) makes it already 1000 times better than everything else.



Tristan replies:


I wish you knew how much all of your work on that single Cassavetes on Cassavetes book meant to me and what it did for me as a human being. You introduced me to him in a way that his movies cannot.

The book was and is a good friend because when I get disappointed in this life at myself or just angry at the world, it is a comfort to know that so did he and it is a bigger comfort to read and reread the book to give me some hope and optimism.

For instance, that screen play that he wrote about God and the son and the mother and where the son says 'we need more people like Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Frank we can look up' (I am guessing, because I have not memorized it) if you had not been interested and researched, worked and organized and even compromised to the poor idiot publishers who didn't know how good that book was and that people like me wanted more and you had to remove a chunk of your writing, I would never have discovered that passage and it is a favorite of mine.

It is as good to me as Yeats seems to be to you, or lines from Shakespeare or any Bukowski writings that have helped me many times. So the next time you sit down to write something and it is just you and a piece of paper or a computer screen, please remember that somebody is interested and being helped by your work in this life.

If you are ever in New York, let me know, and we will go to dinner and talk of Cassavetes, The Fiddler of Dooney, Les Enfant du Paradis, why Hamlet is a great play and should be a handbook for life, or about the food, good or bad that we are eating.


RC replies:

Thanks very much, Tristan, for the kind words. It's been a rugged couple years on my job because of some of the folks I work with, so I appreciate the kind words all the more. I have a lot of other work that you haven't had an opportunity to see. Some of it is unavailable because of Gena, some of it because I don't have time to whip it into shape, and some of it because there is a little of Emily Dickinson in me and I'm more interested in discovering than publishing. But maybe in the next few years I'll have a chance to show you and others some other wonderful things.

All best wishes and thanks again,


Filmmaker Jonathan Blitstein directed my attention to the following quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Self Reliance." I recommend it to my readers -- as I recommend the entire essay and many other essays by Emerson. (I give the titles of the most important ones at other places on the site. Use the search engine and Emerson's name to find those listings). This particular quote is about how our imaginations trap and hold us even more tightly than the world's penal systems and social systems (often hard to tell them apart!). Emerson is one of the greatest art critics who ever lived. D.H. Lawrence has many other deep thoughts on this same theme (and, in fact, may have borrowed Emerson's archway metaphor for his parasol comparison in his review of Harry Crosby's Chariot of the Sun -- see pages 11 and 38 in the Mailbag where I talk about the Lawrence passage and search on his name to find other mentions of his work.)

While I'm plugging Emerson as a great nineteenth-century critic, I might as well put in a plug for D.H. Lawrence as the greatest critic of the twentieth century. There are no deeper statements about the purposes and uses of art than Lawrence's "Art and Morality," "Why the Novel Matters," "Education of the People," "The Novel and the Feelings," "The Novel," "Apropos of Lady Chatterly's Lover," and a hundred other essays by him. His complete essays are collected in two volumes: Phoenix 1 and Phoenix 2. Everyone who cares about art should read both cover to cover. And every artist who cares about the functions of art should commit much of it to memory. Or have Lawrence's key concepts tattooed on his or her body.

That said, here's the Emerson quote Jonathan sent me:

"The limits of the system blend to their eye in the remote horizon with the limits of the universe; the luminaries of heaven seem to them hung on the arch their master built. They can't imagine how you aliens have any right to see-how you can see: 'It must be somehow that you stole the light from us.' They don't yet perceive that light, unsystematic, indomitable, will break into any cabin, even into theirs. Let them chirp awhile and call it their own. If they are honest and do well, soon their neat new box will be too small and confining, will crack, will bulge, will rot and vanish, and the immortal light, all young and joyful, million-orbed, million-colored, will beam over the universe as on the first morning."

South Korea

Dear Professor Ray Carney (about American Vision: The Films of Frank Capra)

In response to your request for the foreign buyer's email, I send it you. I want to buy and read your book American Vision: The Films of Frank Capra.

I live in South Korea-not in North Korea. Films of John Cassavetes, one of your books, was translated and published in our country. I have been deeply awakened to great meaning from the book. Especially in regard to films of Orson Welles, and Alfred Hitchcock's you have approached them in the nonfreezing way, and as to the film of John Cassavetes's in the flowing way-obscurely. it has led me to the great understanding of your film analysis

I deeply love and respect Frank Capra's works, for his films have something to do with your theory of John Cassavetes. I think that Frank Capra's movies focuses on capturing flowing action of actor as John Cassavetes's. So I hope to read your book, American Vision: The Films of Frank Capra. I will greatly read the book!

I do not work in the film industry. Nonetheless, I am greatly interest in film study. However, I do not like the film research that gets mixed up with semiotics. one of the founders of historicism, Benedetto Croce, said no a century ago. True language or "poetry," he said (meaning Art in general), has no signs. A sign is a sign because it stands for something other than itself; but poetry stands only for itself.

I am only 21 years old. I have not been abroad so for! Nonetheless, I fell in love with American classical movies. I especially like John Ford, Leo McCarey, Frank Capra, and Raoul Walsh. Of course I love and respect John Cassavetes's works, too. And I want to learn more sincerely the American movies. Because of I wish for more and more love the American movies! That is why I would like to get the chance to read your precious pioneering books.

Your prompt and kind reply would be cordially appreciated together with your comment on the purchase method of your books.

Many thanks.

Kim Taehyun

RC replies:


Thanks very much for the kind words about my Cassavetes book, Pragmatism, Modernism, and the Movies. The "freezing/flowing" idea is a very important one. I'm glad you understood it.You should also read the excerpts from my essay about pragmatist aesthetics on the site. (Click here to go there.) It expands on this idea.

It will make you smile when I tell you that you have now already moved beyond most professional film critics and film professors in your level of understanding. They still haven't assimilated this idea of moving truth (liquid or flowing truth) and are still enthralled to "frozen" forms of understanding: metaphors, symbols, ideas, systems, schemes of understanding. A filmmaker you absolutely must view and study in this regard is Tom Noonan. His What Happened Was is one of the great illustrations of the possibilities of ontological flow. Watch it and try to stay with it, beat by beat. Everything in it is on the move. That's the only way to live!

For another take on this subject from a different point of view, might I recommend Steve Hagen's How the World Can Be the Way It Is? He calls what I am doing "seeing," but, of course, means something very subtle and slippery with the concept. David Sudnow's The Ways of the Hand is another important text on this subject. And William James's Essays in Radical Empiricism and A Pluralistic Universe and John Dewey's Art as Experience are the founding canonical texts about meanings in motion, needless to say......... And Henry James's The Sacred Fount is the great artistic demonstration of this notion of truth.......

..... You sound like a very smart and open-minded person. Cultivate curiosity. Hold yourself empty and open, and stay responsive to everything. That is the secret of life. Ideas (even my ideas, ideas from my books I mean) are forms of closure and deadness. Resist thinking with ideas. Think from a place of openness and pure perception, before consciousness arises.

All best wishes and thanks,

Ray Carney

Subject: Robert Kramer

Hi Ray,

This initially flew under my radar, but I just happened to see that Route One/USA has finally been released on DVD (in France):

If you do an internet search some other sites will come up. I didn't find any mention of other DVD's of his films. The company that is releasing Route One is Editions Montparnasse.....

Rob Quirk

A Note from Ray Carney:

Novelty Department: I am posting two sound files that may be of interest to visitors to the site. The first is an extremely rare set of radio commercials that were used to publicize John Cassavetes' Faces during its initial 1968 release. Click here for the 60 second version, here for the 30 second version, and here for the 10 second version. (Requires Real Player to access, click here to download.)

The second sound file runs 12 minutes and represents an audio track of the section of Cassavetes' Husbands that was removed from the UCLA restoration of the film when Gena Rowlands expressed her dislike for the scenes involving the badgering of Leola Harlow and the vomiting and farting in the men's room that follows. It also includes John "Red" Kullers' inimitable rendition of "Brooklyn." These moments are missing from the recent video version of the film and all recently struck prints of the film. Click here to listen to the soundtrack of the cut section.



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© Text Copyright 2006 by Ray Carney. All rights reserved. May not be reprinted without written permission of the author.