Thursday, November 26, 2015

What I'm Thankful for this Year... 2015

My Two Favorite Magazines continue to publish great articles in a digital age. And the New Yorker's digital presence is awesome! I think they have it right -- continue the great journalism with the mothership, but develop an editorially separate digital online presence. I've enjoyed both throughout the year! 

There are Showrunners taking chances and even pushing the envelope as the Neo Golden Age of TV begins to shift to survival of the Fittest. Here are just two examples of why I'm thankful that we can still count on TV to be the shining light of creativity.

Amazing that the Second Year of Fargo didn't just try to replicate the first season, but went even more ambitious. Same tone, vibe of the original movie and first season, but completely different entry in the crime drama genre. If anyone wanted a definition of not resting on your laurels, then watch Fargo Season One and Season Two. 

The Leftovers is tackling in their second season much of the same issues they dealt with in their first season -- loss, religion, individual vs. family, society vs. cult, humanity vs. chaos. I'm surprised only that they doubled down rather than creatively mainstreaming the pursuit of these issues in a way that might have allowed them to recruit more people into the tent. But their effort this season has been fresh, mysterious, and more profound. I just make sure I've put away all the razor blades in the house before I watch an episode.

I'm excited that the next entry in Relict - The Vampire Book Series will soon be published. 

And every year I'm always thankful that I have been able to make a living as a professional screenwriter / filmmaker and writer because working creatively is always what I've wanted to do. 
But I never realized then what I know now --

Even when your Dreams Come True... 
There's still a lot of hard work.

On a personal note
Our two girls are doing well.
Also, we now have four dogs...
And hope this count holds for a long time. 

We’re thankful for every day we have with Maui because there's no way we're ready to say good-bye.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Attended the Secret Paintings Art Exhibit at the Sofitel Hotel

I liked the work of a new artist... Steve Vai

Apparently he also plays guitar as a hobby. 
When we talked later, I told him he should stick to being a painter... 


Monday, November 23, 2015



On November 19th, Variety published a piece by the former editor and chief, Peter Bart, in which he attempts to come up with some meaningful reasons to explain the recent poor box office performance of what he considers “good movies” and what the rest of the industry had generally considered to be potential Oscar nominees.  
The Online Variety piece is followed by comments from readers, which I highly recommend anyone interested in the subject should read to get a sample of all the different thoughts on this issue. 
Personally, I spoke with Peter Bart twice in my life. 
Both times at a party. 
I work in Hollywood, so no surprise there. 
Both times Mr. Bart was polite, genial, and the stories he told were very entertaining. And on both occasions, I also noticed he was a good listener. 
He was never too quick to interrupt whoever was speaking. And he asked questions rather than automatically taking the conversation back in his direction. 
He had what I would call a journalist’s ear -- someone who is conditioned to hear what other people have to say first rather than choosing to hear themselves speak. 
If I was wrong on the “journalist’s ear” thing, I could fall back on another theory about how Bart had the ear of a studio executive - someone who spent a lot of time listening to artistic people pitching him a story; and then the rest of his time listening as non-creative people give him the status of a production on one of the creative stories he was pitched. 
I believe Peter Bart deserves admiration because he is of the age when those who succeeded often times had to re-invent their careers twice. Never mind that nowadays those that are younger and want to succeed must re-invent their careers perhaps three times… or more. 
Bart was part of the first generation of studio executives where advancement in the entertainment industry wasn’t guaranteed, but the inevitability of losing your job was. He was a studio executive at Paramount during the worst of times (when such bloated productions like PAINT YOUR WAGON were being made); and the best of times in the film business (when the
first two Godfather movies were produced and released). 
In 1989, Bart segued from making movies to covering the Industry of making movies as editor-in-chief at Variety. It was a position he held for over twenty years.  
I believe one of the key reasons Bart initially got the job at Variety was because of his… insight. 
He knew the way the movie business was run from the inside. Not a lot of people ever have that perspective, plus his journalist background (before Bart became a movie executive, he was a reporter for the New York Times), made him a perfect man to usher in a new era for the daily industry newspaper. After Bart took over, Variety attempted (and at times succeeded) to cover the entertainment industry, not by rewriting publicists’ news releases, but by covering the business honestly, and with some... insight. 
Unfortunately, my personal take on Peter Bart’s Variety article is that he’s wrong. 
Not flat-out wrong, but still wrong in a way that his thoughts circle around, but never get to the heart of the problem plaguing the Theatrical Movie Business. 
Underlying Bart’s article is his core belief that what is happening is just part of a “cycle.” 
It’s the philosophy that movie executives in the past have sworn by to alleviate any bad run at the box office -- The holiday season we just had... The quarter we just experienced... Our last slate of films... All of it part of a Cycle. Play our cards right, and we'll be back on top again.  
What the theatrical business is going through is not part of a cycle. 
There are times when even the historians who believe in "cycles" end up concluding that an event can cause... 
A break in the cycle. 
And what was once there didn’t adapt to the new event, and now it’s gone.  
If it’s hard to accept this analogy as relative to the topic at hand, then I ask you to consider this question – When was the last time you went to a drive-in theatre to watch a movie projected onto an outdoor movie screen while sitting in a car? 

In the days ahead I will introduce a “Sidebar” of my blog where I will detail my point by point responses to Bart’s different theories explaining this problem, and why I believe none of them get to the heart of the real problem. 
And at some point, (I’m not promising when) I will elaborate on what all the parties involved should do to really fix this problem before it becomes an extinction type change. 
I believe there’s time to manage this major transition in the industry where no one loses... and everyone wins, including Professional Screenwriters/Filmmakers, talent, theatre owners, and the major studios. 
And especially audiences that I know want to continue to enjoy movies in a theatrical setting.  

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What can a Professional Screenwriter/Filmmaker learn from the Cancellation of "The Bastard Executioner"?

This morning Variety announced that the FX show The Bastard Executioner (created by the Series Showrunner, Kurt Sutter) was canceled. 
I watched the show from the beginning and found the quality of the production on the series to be exceptional, and the performances by all the actors excellent as well. 

However, from the start, and throughout the run of the series, I found the scripts were good (at times very provocative, specifically the arc/storyline of the character, Milus Corbett/portrayed by actor Stephen Moyer)... 
But not great. 

This assessment became easier when another TV show launched around the same time --The Last Kingdom (on the BBC network). TLK was essentially a series similar in genre as TBE - Neo-Realistic Medieval Action-Drama-Romance. 
TLK ended up telling a better story, not only overall, but every episode was emotionally and intellectually engaging. Setting aside the action scenes of both series (though TLK was better than TBE on that front as well), I’m specifically referring to the scenes of the characters moving the plot forward with their interaction and dialogue. TLK’s
Talk-Talk stuff was much more 
riveting, thought-provoking and emotionally engaging than similar scenes in TBEAnd I believe this ultimately was the main reason TBE did not connect with a bigger audience to justify a second season. 


In the Variety article, Kurt Sutter is quoted as saying, “The Bastard Executioner had a dense mythology. It was historically based. I do think they’re harder to plug into. It takes more time for people to find those shows and to have the energy to sit and watch them.” 

I think Mr. Sutter is a gifted storyteller, but I’m not sure there’s anything right about his verbal autopsy of his own series. 
First, I believe there's a lot of viewers (we can start with the number of viewers who tuned into the first episode of TBE – 4.2 million people) who would have had no problem plugging into a neo realistic period piece action/romance TV series. The trick is for the filmmakers to deliver a show which creatively connects to a sizeable amount of an audience with traditional and contemporary genre expectations.   
And, what I believe was the second biggest problem with TBE was that the mythology of the series wasn’t actually very deep at all. 
Only in the most recent episodes did viewers get a glimpse of some hidden writings that might have come from Jesus Christ himself. 
And the reveal that the main character was related biologically to another principal character in the series just occurred in the most-recent episode. 
Is there any doubt that both story/series reveals came way too late in the game if the filmmakers intended the content to be considered an essential part of the creative DNA of the series? 

Sutter’s only previous effort as the main show runner of a TV series was The Sons of Anarchy, a ground breaking series that ran for seven years on FX. Is it possible Sutter didn’t re-calibrate his artistic sensibilities when unfolding the overall story arc in the first year of a brand-new series? 
The thinking behind the storylines of a show in its sixth season is obviouslycreatively different than what is required for launching a new show in the hope that a sizeable amount of viewers (even if one is assuming that there will be loyal followers from the previous show who will trust you know what you'e doing and stick with you), will respond throughout the entire run of the series.  
I point all of this out for Professional Screenwriters/Filmmakers to take notice and digest.
I’m certainly simplifying the creative reasons for the cancellation of a well-produced TV series, but I think there are possible cautionary lessons that can still be learned from TBE’s cancellation. 

I liked The Bastard Executioner, and will be excited to see how the season/series final plays out. 
But the show wasn’t exceptional. 
And being exceptional is really important in the modern entertainment marketplace where viewers have so many quality choices every night.
Coming up as the second best medieval action drama on TV can end up with someone losing their head.   

Sunday, November 8, 2015

5 Ways the Stratford Scripter was a MODERN PROFESSIONAL SCREENWRITER... And 3 Ways he was Not

5 Ways William Shakespeare Wrote like a Modern Professional Screenwriter... 

And 3 Ways Will did Not


Shakespeare was a writer for hire, brought in to rework the material of other writers. 

Many people have the romantic image of William Shakespeare writing in a quiet space, by himself, isolated for weeks from the rest of society as he created his brilliant work. 
The truth is that Shakespeare “did jobbing work” according to Shakespeare expert. Jonathan Bate. “He contributed to plays, which had different scenes written by different dramatists. He revised other writers’ work. The modern version of “Jobbing work” is what happens when a professional screenwriter is hired by a producer/production company/studio to do a rewrite on a script headed toward production. His work either went uncredited or was credited without any clear sign of what work he actually did that became part of the final production. 
Sound familiar? 

Shakespeare faced writing restrictions in creating work for the commercial marketplace, very similar to what the modern screenwriter faces today.  

Any Professional Screenwriter knows the obstacles when they begin a new script. If it has a good chance of being produced the screenplay must be compelling, exciting, and engaging in a way that media saturated audiences (who’ve been exposed to the basic creative elements of storytelling a thousand times, even before they've left elementary school) will believe that what they’ve seen is somehow fresh and original. 
Hard to believe, but Shakespeare faced similar challenges while writing his scripts… only worse. 
The convention of storytelling in the Elizabethan theatre was strict and demanding. 
The creative expectations during those years consisted of musical numbers, broad (vaudeville-like) comedy bits, and other sidebar excursions such as Bear Baiting. 
It did not matter that all the above or more would have nothing to do with the main plot of the play.  If the playwright fell short of these expectations, the result would be catcalls, even a violent riot by the crowd. 

And of course the Bard faced a censor, similar to our Ratings Board, but even more restrictive. 
As professional screenwriters, we need to be concerned about how many times we include the word F**K in our script; and be thoughtful about any depiction of frontal nudity because if we cross the line, the result could be the final production being slapped with an NC-17 rating, otherwise known as Box Office Death. 
Shakespeare had similar concerns and more – he also needed to avoid using certain words like “insurrection,” “rebellion,” and any reference to the Catholic Religion. 
But if Will crossed the line, he wouldn’t be slapped with a restrictive rating on his work... his punishment could end up being a one-way trip to the London Tower (the fate of many playwrights during this period), otherwise referred to by the Bard as “the undiscovered country.”  

Shakespeare is considered a genius. And yet his most brilliant work, like the scripts of many popular screenwriters today, could be accused of not being “original.” 

Striving to be creatively original is a common problem for the modern screenwriter. 
Often writers today are accused of just reworking the movies they loved growing up, or whatever is the most popular with audiences. 
Shakespeare would have felt right at home if he were plying his trade today. 
Perhaps the fact that Will is now considered a genius, will allow us to revise the common definition of what we consider creatively “original.” 

The reality is that Shakespeare seldom came up with an original storyline for any of his plays. 
Instead, he often relied on what on what one Shakespeare scholar calls, “inherited” material. 
In other words, LITERARY GENIUS William Shakespeare lifted/sampled/borrowed from the works of other writers who proceeded him. 
Sometimes Will would base his plays on what he read in history books, like Plutarch’s ancient text, Parallel Lives as the source for the basic story and plot beats of his play, Julius Caesar
He would also take/grab from fictional work, such as a novel, and adapt it for the stage, which is what he did for his ground-breaking play, As you like it.
However, the most common source for Shakespeare’s work was actually… other plays. 
Author James Shapiro describes the defining feature in Shakespeare’s approach to writing as "his penchant for overhauling the plots of old plays rather than inventing his own.” 
This is one of the key elements in Shakespeare’s success. 
Will would rework a popular play, update the work for a new audience, while holding onto the overall story and basic plot of the original work. The Bard invested the bulk of his imaginative energy in the characters, tone, theme, dialogue, and a few key twists and turns of the plot. This is how William Shakespeare utilized his talents and skills on the work that eventually led to him being proclaimed a genius. 
The contemporary analogy for the context of Will's accomplishments would be what we now look down upon when it is attempted by a production company/ and/ or/ screenwriter — the remake

Like any modern professional screenwriter, some of the best work from the Bard came from constant rewrites. 

Shakespeare was a partner in the acting troupe known as The Chamberlain’s Men. When Queen Elizabeth died and was succeeded by James I, the company became known as The King’s Men. But whoever was in power, Will’s acting troupe worked a lot. It's actually mind-boggling to consider the amount of different plays Shakespeare’s troupe was expected to put on throughout the year, not only for Royalty, but for theatre audiences who craved a different play every night because they had very few entertainment choices. 
Shakespeare doing a REWRITE on his Work
The pressure to deliver something different meant there was a rapid turnover of plays performed by the different drama companies. The only way to satisfy this demand was with a combination of new plays... and a revival of older, popular efforts.  
Will used this system to his advantage in honing his craft.
He would revisit the plays he had previously written, sometimes just months before (or at other times, years ago) when they were due to be performed again. 
And as his writing talents matured and his craft improved, Will could see the mistakes he had made with his previous efforts. 
He also gained invaluable insight from seeing his writing performed in front of a paying audience, watching what worked on stage, and what didn't. 
There was also no one better at judging other writers’ work than Shakespeare. 
He deconstructed what he saw instantly, see what was right, and what was missed by the original writer. Will's creative mind was always thinking of how he could make what he experienced better if he were to perform a rewrite. 
This was the process that helped Shakespeare rework/rewrite/revise and polish his writing efforts to become what we read today. It was a complicated creative process that did not happen over night, nor did it come from a prodigy who wrote a perfect draft from conception to finished playbook for the acting company. 
No one should believe that Hamlet, King Lear, or As you Like it was conceived and written over a frenzied weekend when the Bard was in a “writing zone.” 

Like a modern professional screenwriter, Shakespeare’s writing career was dependent on box office revenue. 

Writing plays that had Huge Box office returns made all the difference in Shakespeare’s career. 
His early commercial success allowed him to segue from being a full time actor and part-time writer with his troupe to becoming a full time playwright / occasional performer (and what we’d now consider “the director” of the plays he had written). 

The really interesting thing that followed is what Will did with his success and popularity. He could have just kept doing the same thing — romantic comedies and historical dramas that he had become known for, but instead… he decided to stretch as an artist, hoping the audiences who loved his work would follow. In 1599, during the same year the Globe Theatre was being built, Shakespeare wrote two plays that were artistic level jumps from anything that he had attempted before — As You Like It and Hamlet. Both plays not only stretched his creative talents, but they asked a lot from the loyal following who trusted his talents.  
As You Like it was a box office disaster. The play would not be performed again for over a hundred years. 
However, when it was finally re-staged, the play’s daring focus of gender and sexual identities eventually led to what is now a conventional element in many modern romantic comedies. 

Hamlet was a Box-Office hit.
And the creative challenge to the audience paid off as well. He found that his audience was ready for an evolution in the way a dramatic story could be told. The success of the play laid the ground work for more daring creative choices by Will in the future. 
Shakespeare’s writing effort in Hamlet focused on the main character’s mind rather than just his actions, and the Bard's pre-occupation with character issues would end up being the gas driving the engine of the plot. 
Hamlet changed the construct of storytelling  for an audience, an achievement that became a major part of the foundation for Modern Drama. 


If he was writing today, William Shakespeare would obviously have the word genius all over his IMDB bio. 

But the label of “genius” is used so often now that it doesn’t take a genius to imagine Shakespeare’s early career success would be treated by the media as if he had come up with the cure for the plague. 

But Will being thought of as a genius during his actual writing career… Not so much. 
Actually, Shakespeare had a huge problem with everyone but the audiences who loved his plays. 
His fellow playwrights considered him an “upstart”… “a country clown”… and an uneducated idiot (because of his non-university background) whose only talent was for ripping off the more educated playwrights’ work. 


Shakespeare did not have an agent, or a publicist representing him. 

I bet that even if Will had hired one when his career was getting started, he would have dropped the agent after his career took off. Shakespeare was a pretty sharp guy in all areas of his life and would have probably felt confident in negotiating all of his future writing deals. 

But hundreds of years later, there are those who doubt Shakespeare is the true author of the plays he is credited with writing. 
I know this is revisionist history advice, but I can’t help myself – 
Will, if you had only hired a publicist, maybe today no one would question who was the true auteur behind your work.  


It doesn’t appear as if Will was represented by a lawyer throughout his writing career, despite being known as a pretty litigious guy throughout his life. 

One of the areas that I think a lawyer might have benefited Will’s writing career is incorporating as part of his writing deal a now standard part of any professional screenwriter’s contract. The clause is known as Force Majeure (“act of god”). 
Will’s writing career was often derailed when the Plague (truly an “act of god” if there ever was one) would sweep through London, causing the deaths of thousands of people, some of which I’m sure were season-ticket holders. 
An outbreak of Plague would cause the government to order the closure of all the theatres, a shutdown that would sometimes last for months. 
If only Will had not written, “let's kill all the lawyers" (from Henry VI, Part II), and allowed a barrister to negotiate his writing deals. Perhaps the Force Majeure clause in his first look writing deal with the Chamberlain’s Men would have been triggered during an outbreak, and Will could have enjoyed a negotiated buyout of his original step deal, allowing him enough money to go back to his hometown of Stratford to work on a spec script.   

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Twists and Turns of Mulholland Drive... and the Career of filmmaker David Lynch

There’s a special treat this month along with the usual review excerpted from The DVD-Laser Disc Newsletter, authored by Film Critic Doug Pratt. 
But you need to keep reading to find out how we're giving you more candy, not coal this month. 

Besides the lead article featured on this post, Mr. Pratt reviews more than three dozen movies/TV/media releases in his newsletter including Furious 7, the latest release in The Fast and Furious Franchise that long ago retired the theory that sequels can't race past the original model. Mr. Pratt even likes this latest release better than Mad Max: Fury Road. “As thrilling and inventive as a James Bond movie, but with heart.” His review also covers the impact the tragic death of Paul Walker had on the production.  

John Sturges is a filmmaker rarely considered a true film auteur. He directed two of my favorite films of all time -- THE GREAT ESCAPE and The Magnificent Seven. There’s no doubt that his work as a director influenced many successful filmmakers who followed including Steven Spielberg and Clint Eastwood. However, John Sturges was a filmmaker who specialized in producing and directing action movies, which Hollywood has kept getting better and better at making over the years. I believe this has led to many films directed (and produced) by Sturges that now come off as dated when viewed by modern audiences. 
Mr. Pratt reviews The Satan Bug, praising the undeniable strength of the movie -- “the story advances steadily under Sturges’ confident staging, and the film even has something of a cult following because of the way in which its narrative sustains its compelling momentum."   Sturges directed The Satan Bug after TGE and TM7 and is the type of film that I believe has hurt the chances of Sturges ever being considered a "great filmmaker."

Speaking of artistic auteurs, David Lynch, long ago became a member of that club. I’m such a huge fan of his accomplishments as a filmmaker that I will confess to loving a movie even many of his fans hate -- Dune. Regardless of how much we probably disagree on that film, I bring the movie up for another reason – Dune was considered a creative disaster when it was first released and was a major disappointment at the box office. What Lynch did in the wake of that disaster is what many successful artists do – they learn from their ambitious ventures (especially when they turn out to be a failure) using the past to inform their future work. After the movie was released, Lynch rededicated his career to focusing on making movies that would draw on his unique talents as a filmmaker, never again attempting to direct a huge, big budgeted production.  
Years later, Lynch agreed to shepherd a TV series, and shot a pilot. When the Network did not pick up the project for a TV series, Lynch was once more faced with “failure.” 
And once again, he turned failure… into success. 

I’ll let Doug Pratt take the story from there with his review of MULHOLLAND DR.. But be sure to keep reading beyond the review to find a special treat this month – 
CAPSULE EXCERPTS from Doug Pratt's past reviews of key projects in the strange and influential career of filmmaker/icon, David Lynch.  

Never saw a woman so alone

Every movie is observed with emotional responses from a viewer. All forms of art elicit an emotional response, but because film is a combination of so many different art forms, the intensity of the emotional response is raised exponentially.  Hence, every time you see the same film, you see it and feel it differently.  The subsequent times you see the same movie, those emotions are altered by your memories and feelings toward the previous viewings.  For most movies, those feelings don’t change all that much.  Heck, it may be that the film’s trailer has already taught you what to think or feel about the film, and the first time through or the seventh time through, the expectations and reactions are unchanged.  But then there are movies that change every time you watch them, because you are so overwhelmed with feelings about everything that is going on, you cannot process it all the first time through, especially when you have no idea, the first time through, where the movie is going to take you. 

Even when you realize, in the last act, that most of David Lynch’s 2001 masterpiece—one of several masterpieces he has created over the years—MULHOLLAND DR., is a dream, you do not know it before then (sure, a couple of characters say they are in a dream at a couple of different points, but how can you know those are the statements you are supposed to pay attention to?), and so the first time you experience the movie is very different from the next time you experience it.  And after that, the depth of detail is nearly impossible to absorb in its entirety for the full 146 minutes, and so you watch the movie again and again, seeing and feeling new things about it each time. 

A literal description of the film’s narrative would be that Naomi Watts portrays an aspiring actress who arrives at Los Angeles to stay in her aunt’s vacated apartment while she tries to get her career started.  She discovers another woman staying there, who was involved in an accident on Mulholland just as, apparently, some men were about to kill her.  The woman has amnesia, and the two become sleuths, trying to determine who the woman is and why she has an enormous amount of money in her purse.  Laura Harring co-stars.  There are a few digressions—the background experiences of other characters who then interact with the two heroines; there is also, at about the 12-minute mark, one of the most frightening moments ever created on film, if you want to give your friends a good scare—but the story proceeds delightfully.  Watts’ character nails an audition, and she and Harring have a very steamy interlude while they come closer and closer to solving the mystery.  And then,
poof!  Watts’ character is suddenly not living in such a nice apartment, and Harring’s character, although she is still having sex with her, is more dismissive and controlling.  The other peripheral characters are the same but different, and there was no accident on Mulholland Drive.  
The first time you see the film, you are naturally frustrated when the shift occurs.  You want the fun, ‘nice’ movie back.  But on subsequent viewings, even when it’s been so long that the scare, although you know it’s coming, still makes you jump, you’re ready for the transition, and you even prefer the grittier final act to the sappier aspects of the beginning.  But it is all a process to absorb, or, better yet, to align the film’s complex emotional construct with your own.  While having fun with Hollywood (the audition sequence is truly a gem), the film is a depiction of how people try to assuage disappointment and rejection.  It shows this process metaphorically and viscerally, taking you through the isolation of a disappointing experience while at the same time demonstrating how the mind copes with disappointment, all of which is itself a product of that very same process, in that Lynch initially created the material as a TV show, and only reworked it after the network backed out on him. 

It was Ann Miller’s last film, and she has a wonderful supporting part, as do Chad Everett and Lee Grant.  Justin Theroux is featured as a movie director with a host of problems of his own, along with Dan Hedaya, Mark Pellegrine, and Brent Briscoe.  Robert Forster and Billy Ray Cyrus are seen briefly, and Angelo Badalamenti, who wrote the film’s succulent musical score, gets to play a gangster, too.

Universal released a fine DVD version in 2002.  It had a gorgeous picture and even DTS sound.  The Criterion Collection has nevertheless released a long awaited Blu-ray (UPC#715515159319, $30), and both the picture and the sound are even better.  The image is sharper, with better defined hues and more detail.  The DTS sound is crisper, denser, and also seems to have more going on.  Like the DVD, and undoubtedly at Lynch’s request, there is no chapter encoding.  There are optional English subtitles, a bewitching trailer, a 2-minute deleted scene with Forster that was irrelevant to the film, and a terrific 25-minute collection of behind-the-scenes footage that specifically shows Lynch setting up shots and working with the actors.  Lynch even gets annoyed at the video guy for eavesdropping a couple of times as he powwows with Watts and others.

As entertaining and even riveting as anything you can watch on TV, Lynch and Watts sit for a 27-minute interview and conversation about the film, Watts’ career (this was the movie that made her a star, just like the fantasy version of her character), and moviemaking.  What they have to say is always stimulating and informative, but more importantly, the piece captures either their real relationship or two exquisite performances of a real relationship.  Either way, it is a delightful and even thrilling portrait of a genuine friendship that contradicts the notorious, yet functionally necessary, superficiality of Hollywood.
A 36-minute piece begins as a profile of casting director Johanna Ray and then shifts into interviews with various cast members, talking about their experiences landing their roles and working with Lynch.  Badalamenti speaks for 19 minutes, and also plays passages from the score, as he goes over the beginning of his career, how he started working with Lynch, how he approached the music in MULHOLLAND DR., and he also shares a marvelous anecdote about why Lynch cast him as the gangster. Cinematographer Peter Deming is intercut with production designer Jack Fisk for a 22-minute interview piece, in which both talk about Lynch’s design strategies and the work they had to do to accommodate him on the film, as well as how they started working with him and specific anecdotes about the shoot.  Fisk actually went to junior high school with Lynch and hung out with him then.  Deming is about the only person in any of the pieces to really talk about the differences between the film and the TV pilot (there is more detail about it in a jacket insert, however), speculating about what the series might have been like (stars like Forster and Cyrus would have had a lot more to do), and if the BD has any shortcoming, it is that the pilot itself wasn’t also included as a special feature.  After all, this is a movie that was begun by dreaming it was a TV series.

What a Strange and Weird Trip it's been Following the Filmmaking Career of David Lynch

Here are the essential creative landmarks of this legendary artist with Doug Pratt's original thoughts on each work taken from his newsletter --

The 1977 film began its theatrical life in midnight screenings and was therefore known only to a certain breed of moviegoer willing to expend an uncommon level of personal commitment to view it. Hence, when Eraserhead appeared on home video a few years later and became the subject of conversation with movie fans who would never think of leaving their homes after 11:00 at night, it represented a monumental shift in how movies are seen and digested, one that raised the level of aptitude and film literacy throughout the world.

If you are a true fan of Dune, you owe it to yourself to watch the film some day entirely in black and white. Not only are some of the special effects a great deal more impressive, but the dream sequences are much stronger, the focal point of a scene or a shot is made more clear (although the sets are elaborately colored, you suddenly realize that the central characters are strikingly illuminated in contrast to the backgrounds), and the entire atmosphere of the film becomes even more exotic than it already is.

  David Lynch’s magnificently textured mystery is a brilliant send off on juvenile crime stories such as The Hardy Boys, taking the innocence of that peculiar form of Americana and turning it on its head. Some reserved observers may question the need for experiencing the emotions the film kindles. The point is that the emotions are there anyway, hidden or in the open. BLUE VELVET has got to be one of the best movies about the final stages of growing up.

David Lynch's worst movie has a flat out, gorgeous picture transfer. All the grain, all the fuzz and all the bad looking fleshtones of the movie’s previous home video iterations (and even its theatrical presentations) are gone and forgotten, blown away like Willem Defoe’s head by the vivid, luxuriant and meticulous image transfer.

Created by Lynch and Mark Frost, the program has a poetic strength that carries it beyond a simple familiarity with its narrative and characters. It is a running parody of the soap opera form, but it is rendered with an eerie, abstract attention to detail and atmosphere. There seems to be some resentment and anger in Lynch over the series having to end, which adds greatly to the
(final) episode’s grandly satirical spirit. Almost all of the characters have terrible things happen to them, and McLaughlin’s character—well, there’s never really been anything else like that on television, to say the least.

Every morning we wake up and say a blessing because we live in
a country and an economic system where a movie such as TWIN PEAKS FIRE WALK WITH ME can be produced. Appealing only to a subset of a subset of Twin Peaks and David Lynch fans, the film is a narrative disaster, Artistically, the film is a coherent blend of emotions and images, evoking the dead ends in dreams and the terrors of nightmares. It is Lynch’s masterpiece.

This is the way movie history works. Every once in a while, a film will be made by an exceptionally talented director that is so eccentric, even for the director’s own work, it will be met with widespread critical derision or indifference, and will fail so completely at the boxoffice that it does not play at all in several major American cities. It will be in release on DVD for two weeks and yet the clerks at the local Blockbuster will have never heard of it, and certainly will not have it in stock. But four or five decades down the road, it will be one of only a half-dozen films from that year that people still watch on a regular basis and share with their friends, and it will, perhaps, be the only title from that year that will be studied and analyzed in academia. Such is to be the fate, guaranteed, of David Lynch’s 2006 feature