Thursday, February 13, 2014
Or it gets interrupted.
Last year I was some 60 pages into this script and I came up with a new twist for the story. It was just a random "what if" I thought of that not only brought everything to a crashing halt, it froze me up for a good six months.
What did I do in the time while I tortured myself over not being able to complete this one script, a story I've been dying to tell for nearly a decade? I wrote a spec TV script, I wrote countless reviews, I tried to start a new column for Popdose, recorded a weekly podcast, I wrote 3/4s of ANOTHER screenplay, and of course, I tried to be a good father and husband.
When we came home from our holiday trip back east, I was in the shower one morning and the fog cleared. I realized that I had everything I needed to finish writing the original script, and I set off the finish what I'd started.
Today, I printed the first draft of the script. There was no better feeling than holding the 108 pages of my new screenplay.
Finally, a first draft is complete. Finally, I can say I've told my story (or at least started to, depending on how many revisions it goes through). Finally, I can take a deep breath.
Sunday, February 2, 2014
At the heart of the film is Patrick Fugit's youthful face, playing William Miller, a character who is essentially Crowe. The writer/director drew from his own youth, when he was an underage journalist for Rolling Stone, to tell the story of a 15 year old music lover who finds himself on the road with an up and coming band called Stillwater.
Early in the film, William meets his idol Lester Bangs, one of the earliest and most influential rock critics. He's portrayed by Philip Seymour Hoffman, although embodies is a better way to describe Hoffman's performance. There is nothing false about Hoffman is this small but vital role. He has some of the most powerful dialogue in Almost Famous, words for William that would be intended for just about every kid whose ever fallen under the spell of rock 'n roll and wanted to become a writer.
In this scene, Bangs bestows his first dose of wisdom on William. At the end, he gives William an assigment to cover a Black Sabbath concert, a gig that will lead to him to meeting the band Stillwater, falling in with them, and covering them for Rolling Stone.
Later on, after William finally gets home and has to write the article for Rolling Stone, the editors at the magazine have turned on him and William doesn't know who to turn to for advice. He takes Bangs up on his offer to call anytime, leading to this pivotal scene that explains everything we've all felt at some point in our lives.
Crowe couldn't have chosen a better actor to play Bangs. Back in 1999, when I read about the casting of Hoffman in the film, I was so thrilled because here was one of my favorite actors teaming up with one of my favorite directors.
I'd been a fan of Hoffman since he played a dickhead rich boy in Scent of a Woman and followed his career as he continued to take on supporting roles throughout the 1990s. I suppose there was a dream that maybe I could work with this man someday. After all, he was only a couple years older than me and I was so sure I'd be making movies on a regular basis by the time I was 30.
In the late 90s, Hoffman broke through with roles in Boogie Nights, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Happiness, Flawless and Magnolia. He wasn't a "star" per se, but his presence in those films brought a certain weight to them; he somehow made them better, even if they were already great films to begin with.
The same can be said about Almost Famous. It's already one of the finest films about music and growing up that has ever been made (as I told Zack and Will that night), and Hoffman's performance takes a magnificant film and turns it into a classic. At least, that's how I see it.
After Almost Famous, Hoffman continued to appear in ensemble films, always bringing his own gravitas to good and bad movies. His supporting turn in Punch Love Drunk, directed by his longtime friend and collaborator, Paul Thomas Anderson (he appeared in five of Anderson's six features) nearly stole the movie from star Adam Sandler. In 2005 he starred in the independent drama, Capote, a role that won him the Academy Award for Best Acting. He would be nominated three other times, for Charlie Wilson's War (2007), Doubt (2008) and The Master (2012). In between films, he returned to the theater, where he continued to grow as an actor, becoming one of the best.
Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead this morning, news that shocked me when I read it soon after returning from church. The sad details of what happened have filtered out and it seems as if his addiction to drugs came back tenfold after over 20 years of sobriety.
Addiction is a beast. It sinks its claws into men and women and wipes them of their souls. Doesn't matter if you're rich or poor, the beast needs to feed and it slithers around, searching for someone at their weakest and pounces. For those people who manage to fight back the beast and defeat it, it's always in the shadows waiting to pounce again, just when that man or woman is feeling a slip in their confidence, just when they're feeling down enough, or invincible enough to taste the beast just this one time. The beast is waiting because the beast never likes to lose.
The beast won today, and we lost one of my generation's greatest thespians.
More important, the beast took the life of a father, a partner, a sibling, and a son.
Why does Hoffman's death seem to hit harder than any of the other deaths that have happened in recent months? I believe it's because he was a regular looking guy, what Hollywood likes to call a "character actor." He was "honest and unmerciful" in everything he did, whether it was epics like
Cold Mountain, piercing dramas like Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, or mainstream blockbusters like The Hunger Games:Catching Fire. Although he didn't have marquee good looks and didn't "open" movies, Philip Seymour Hoffman was one of the "uncool," who'd made it big and continued to give hope that we could make it one day.
With his death today, a little bit of that hope went away.
Fuck the beast.
Friday, January 31, 2014
I did it.
Now I'm back. I'll be posting again, giving you insightful little tidbits about life and all that other shit. Happy now?
In the meantime, Here's a link to the second to last Disturbed Podcast for this season of American Horror Story. Please check it out!
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Let's get back into this, shall we. Let's lay it on the line, put our hearts out there, and tell it like it is. 2014 has rolled over on us and here it is, the middle of the month, and I've been married for 20 years, I have a teenage daughter one year away from driving and my mom's birthday has come and gone. The long month of December- and it is a long month- is in the rearview mirror and now it feels like maybe, just maybe, we can begin to move forward with the new year.
Friday, January 3, 2014
3 AM alarm to wake us up. Check.
3:20 snow shoveling to make sure we can get out of the driveway. Check.
4 AM departure for airport. Check.
4:20 airport arrival. Check.
4:30 check-in and pass through security. Check.
4:55 bagel and waiting. Check.
The long day of travel has just begun.
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Christmas Day, 2013. Never thought I'd be writing posts from my cell phone, but this is the age of instant communication, when we don't need a laptop to write down our thoughts. What an amazing time. As much as some people bemoan the way our children are fixated with their mobile devices, I really marvel at the way we can all communicate so easily. We''re visiting Julie's family in Ohio and it has, so far, been a warm and lovely holiday. I'm so blessed to be a part of this family, and to have been loved by them for over 20 years.
I hope that anyone reading this is having wonderful day. I hope that anyone reading this is able to spend time with their own family. I hope that you all are creating new memories that have significance, just like the stories I wrote about in Basement Songs.
God bless and Merry Christmas!
Saturday, December 14, 2013
I did get some writing done, though. With the whole write a novel in month business behind me, I've decided to focus on completing the script I've been working on for the past four months. I haven't quit the book altogether. Indeed, I've just joined a writing group and I plan to use the group as a motivator to get the book finished. It's just that I want to wrap up this script- at least the first draft - before the end of the year. Keep your fingers crossed.
I've been writing more reviews, but trying to take a less clinical approach to them and find a way to personalize the movie experience. It's getting to be less of a challenge writing a film synopsis and throwing in a couple of comments about what I liked about a movie or TV show. I'd much rather talk about why I liked or didn't like something, as if you and I were sitting in my living room, talking over a couple of drinks. If I'm going to keep writing for Popdose, I want it to be my real voice. Again, fingers crossed, my friends.
Speaking of the Dose, my friends Jeff Giles and Jason Hare are midway through their annual Mellowmas countdown, a look at some of the worst Christmas songs of the year. It's a hoot, but not for the faint of heart.
Thanks for stopping by today!
Sunday, December 8, 2013
Here's the link to the latest Disturbed Podcast. Enjoy!