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May 27, 2008:

TRADITION

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, the long holiday weekend is a thing of the past and it’s already Tuesday and this week is already flying by, like a gazelle eating tongue sandwich. This is going to be an incredibly busy week and I do hope to avoid any pitfalls that may rear their head in an unseemly way. But before we get to this week, yesterday was the last day of the long holiday weekend. I slept fitfully, and got up around nine-thirty. I finished proofing my galley and despite having two really good and thorough proofers, I found an unbelievable series of screwups, where I used the wrong last name for a character on five different occasions – I couldn’t believe it. It was similar, but not correct. I opened the manuscript Word document and did a global search on the wrong name and luckily didn’t find any more than the five instances I’d found – they all happened fairly close together, but can you imagine three people reading carefully (and me multiple times) and not catching that? In any case, I’m through proofing and hopefully will get together with Mr. Geissman sooner than later to enter the stuff I found so we can lock it up. I then did a few other things and then it was time to toddle off to the DGA to see the new Indiana Jones motion picture. In the old days, if one got to the DGA twenty minutes before the film started, one entered an empty theater and got whatever seat one wanted – which is what I did for years. Then others began emulating me, which forced me to arrive thirty minutes before the film so I could get my usual seat. Then people emulated that. Every time I pushed my arrival time earlier, others did the same. I now arrive one hour before the movie and never have a problem getting my seat, which is in the last row on the center aisle. So, yesterday I get to the DGA one hour and five minutes early – and there’s a line! For the first time since I joined in 1981, there’s a LINE. I could not comprehend what I was seeing. They were showing the film twice, once at four and once at seven, but only allowing kids into the four o’clock show, which was part of the problem. Now, the line was single-file so it wasn’t really that many people, but it was really annoying. My last row seat was indeed taken, so I sat two rows in front of where I normally sit because the person in front of me was short and I felt safe there. By 3:45 the theater was completely full and they actually started the film fifteen minutes early.

Yesterday, I saw a motion picture entitled Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, directed by Mr. Stephen Spielberg, produced by Mr. George Lucas, and starring Mr. Harrison Ford. I enjoyed Raiders Of The Lost Ark when I saw it – no, it wasn’t the second coming for me, but I thought it was done well and I thought it worked just fine. I didn’t like the first sequel at all, and I liked the second sequel even less. I enjoyed the new film for what it was, but unfortunately what it was wasn’t all that much. I liked the opening sequence very much, but then we’re presented with one well-done action scene after another, each less plausible and sillier until you just want to throttle everyone involved. The film is basically empty at its center. The reason Raiders worked so well is that Indiana Jones was somehow a real person – he could get hurt and wouldn’t just suddenly be on his feet doing twelve more CGI-laden stunts. You cared about him. And while the first film was a lovely homage to serials, it played by its own rules. But in the age we live in, everything has to be bigger, louder, more spectacular, and it just ultimately numbs the mind. This film plays like a Warner Bros. cartoon way too frequently, with things that are only possible through CGI, so that one never really believes any of it. That doesn’t mean that a lot of it isn’t entertaining, because it is, thanks mainly to Mr. Ford and Karen Allen, but it never grabs you the way the first film did. In fact, the whole thing plays like Spielberg’s Greatest Hits, a compendium of every sort of sequence he’s done. So, the whole thing has an air of predictability about it, and none of it seems fresh and spontaneous. I think one reason for this is this new multi-million dollar business of pre-visualization, wherein the entire movie is laid out in the computer – in other words, they’ve basically visualized the movie and can watch it and hone it and so nothing feels organic, it all seems like it’s too perfect, too planned, too rehearsed. And I hate the CGI stunts – I know many here love Casino Royale and those types of action films, but when I see someone jump off a girder that’s over 100 feet in the air, and they land on another girder that’s 75 feet below it, without so much as a loss of breath, then I’m done – I have no reason to invest in such stupidity. The worst of this is the vine swinging scene with the teenage kid – just appallingly bad. The best are the scenes with Miss Allen, the whole opening, and anything that doesn’t reek of CGI. I will say that I think Mr. Spielberg has lost his ability to know what a good script is – which is, I suppose, the only explanation for why he’d hire David Koepp to write anything. Some of the writing in this film is mind-bogglingly bad, and the writer actually pulls off the rather astonishing trick of actually making Indiana Jones look like an idiot by constantly allowing himself to be double-crossed by one character. The score by John Williams is fun and works very well in the film (I hear the soundtrack album is a bit of a mess), but let me go on the record as saying that I wish Mr. Spielberg would dump his current cameraman, who is just terrible – one awful-looking movie after another for Mr. Spielberg. All that aside, if you’re looking for a pleasant if unexceptional way to spend a couple of hours, or if you just want to see Mr. Ford and Miss Allen having a grand time, you’ll probably have a good time.

After the screening, I stopped at Astroburger and had my beloved bacon cheeseburger and my beloved zucchini fries with special white sauce. I then came home and sat on my bed like so much fish, and watched the final episode of the first season of The Mod Squad. It wasn’t as much fun as some others, but the guest stars were, as always, interesting – Bo Hopkins, Julie Gregg, Angel Tompkins, John Beck, and, in a nice supporting role, my down-the-street neighbor and friend, Miss Ellen Moss, who I’ve known since she was sixteen.

Well, why don’t we all click on the Unseemly Button below because if we don’t it would be the first time we didn’t since this here site went up, and that’s as good a reason as any – as Tevye would say – TRADITION!

As mentioned, this week and next week are going to be really busy. I have to put the book to bed and get it off to Ye Olde Publisher, I have to fix some Nudie arrangements, finish some work on the finale of the musical I’m mentoring, teach the second act of the latter to some singers, teach all the Nudie group numbers to those same singers, do some more adjustments on the Nudie script, and most importantly, finish casting the reading. I then have to decide whether I’ll do that here or at a studio somewhere. In addition to all that, I have meetings to attend, another rehearsal with the gals who are performing at the benefit, and all sorts of errands and whatnot.

We’ll need lots of excellent vibes and xylophones over the next couple of weeks – things could get a little nutty in certain ways and I’m praying that things don’t because I don’t really need that sort of aggravation right now.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, teach music, do script fixes, work on music, and do errands and whatnot. Today’s topic of discussion: What are your all-time favorite epic action adventure films – not just from now, but from all decades. Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, because having loads of lovely postings is, as Tevye would say, TRADITION!

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