February 2010 Archives

around-1.jpgWriter/director David Spaltro’s debut feature ...Around concerns a film-school student who lives out of train stations in New York City, and the movie has such a distinctive, Pollyanna view of homelessness that it’s either completely divorced from reality or born of some charmed experience.

In an interview last month, Spaltro called ...Around “a very personal story to me. I never use the term ‘biography’ or ‘autobiography,’ because I think even if you’re being extremely honest, when you start writing or creating anything, it’s always fiction in some way, because you can only tell your perspective or your memories.”

That’s a roundabout way of saying that Spaltro lived out of a train station while going to film school. He put his tuition on credit cards, aiming to pay the minimum each month, but “then I realized I’d have no money for living.” He read an article about a student calling a public library home, and ... there you go.

Finished Battlestar Galactica. Can I sue Ronald D. Moore to get 3,234 minutes back? Loved the conception and arc; often hated the execution.

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biw-keenan.jpgMaynard James Keenan — the frontman for prog-metal gods Tool, the co-leader of A Perfect Circle, and the founder of Puscifer — isn’t the type of person you’d expect to see as the subject of a thorough documentary. He has a reputation for being reclusive, and for jealously guarding his privacy. As he says in the movie Blood Into Wine, “I’m not much of a people person.”

Yet Keenan, along with his wine-making partner Eric Glomski, is at the center of that documentary, a freewheeling but thoughtful mix of wine primer, underdog story, buddy picture, and sketch comedy. The movie is fun and gently didactic, and thankfully it engages in little idolatry. (Those hoping for a Tool movie will be disappointed; although Blood Into Wine doesn’t ignore Keenan’s music career, it’s at best a tangent.)

Keenan often looks uncomfortable in the movie, but that could be a function of once being filmed on the toilet, and of being hectored by a pair of wine-hating talk-show hosts. (More on those things later.) But he is apparently committed enough to his cause — fostering an Arizona wine country, and combating the idea that the state’s climate and terrain can’t produce good grapes and wine — that he’s willing to subject himself to all these indignities, and the public spotlight.

As Keenan told me in an interview last week: “This is an important thing we’re doing up here. If we’re successful with what we’re doing, it’s going to set up a future for more families than we can number. ... If you plant vines in this valley, they’re going to taste a certain way; they’re going to be very specific to where they’re from. It’s not a business that you can move to Mexico or China. It’s from here. This is the definition of sustainable and local.”

‘Hurt Locker’ overplays its coda but is an intense serial with authenticity and narrative momentum, and the script lets the actors carry it.

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