Filmmaking is an all-consuming venture, one that requires total commitment from everyone involved in order to succeed. It’s one of the things that makes independent film production additionally difficult, as trying to put that level of focus on something that’s essentially being performed as a hobby can be intimidating, to say the least. This hasn’t stopped Chris von Hoffmann from creating several great short films over the last few years. Von Hoffmann — whose short White Trash I reviewed at the beginning of this past summer — has been hard at work finishing his latest effort, Fuel Junkie, as well as raising funds for a planned feature film. I was lucky enough to get some time with him recently to get a look into the mind of a great new talent who’s been doing a lot with only a little.
True Detective was one of the major zeitgeist-capturing stories told so far this year, so even with the next season starting from scratch with an all-new yarn, it’s not surprising that there’s a lot of enthusiasm and scrutiny. Unfortunately it’s also not surprising that the recent news regarding the cast- Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughn- and crew- Fast & Furious director Justin Lin- has lead to more complaints and concerns than anything else. So here I am to tell everyone once again to chill the fuck out.
If you wanted to summarize The Guest, the best way is to just describe the title character, David (Dan Stevens). It presents itself in a certain way while still emanating a vague sense of unease and tension, and it jumps between threatening, funny, action-packed and ridiculous at will, while still always feeling like the same person. Another way to summarize The Guest is that it represents what indie genre cinema can and should be, and should cement the team of Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett as one of the best in making this type of movie.
The ‘70s continue to be recognized as one of the most fertile creative periods in film history. So many great filmmakers began or defined their careers in that time, many of whom are still creating terrific work to this day. And yet there are still filmmakers who have fallen through the cracks of history, whose work has either become forgotten or misremembered. In my recently-enlightened mind, one of the best filmmakers of that era had to be Bob Fosse, who only ever directed five feature films. This is disappointing for me, as after seeing both Cabaret and All That Jazz for the first time, I have discovered how amazing Fosse was, and I’m already depressed to think how little more of his art I can see.
At this point, I think the best metaphor for The Strain actually comes from Parks and Recreation. There’s a scene in the fifth season where the ever-put-upon Jerry Girgich tries to give Chris Traeger advice about fatherhood. He makes a really eloquent and thoughtful comment… and then dissolves into incoherent babbling when he’s allowed to talk too long. And that is what The Strain feels like at this point: capable of really great, well-structured entertainment, but completely incapable of sustaining that entertainment consistently for more than one or two episodes at a time.
Starred Up begins with matters of procedure, that of Eric Love’s (Jack O’Connell) processing into prison. We see him get strip-searched, brought through gates, and left in his room. We see him effortlessly and impressively make a shiv and hide it. We see him pass through the daily prison routines of meals and time in the yard. And through it all, we can see on Eric’s face the barely-contained rage, not just at being in prison, but at being controlled. That’s what Starred Up is about in the end: uncontrolled machismo in a place that is defined by control, and how control that is forced by others is never as strong (or worthwhile) as the control you earn for yourself.
One year ago today, I started Creation From Chaos. A lot of major changes have been made in my life since then: new apartment, new job, a cat. Beyond all of that, I am proud of myself for keeping this blog going and not letting up on it. And as far as my initial goal goes, I have begun to rediscover my creativity and enthusiasm for my own writing, and I’m beginning to consider all of the different mediums I can use to explore all of that more fully, and I feel my critical thinking has never been sharper. Overall, it feels like this blog has been a success, and I feel like there is a lot of potential in my future as a writer as a result. I’d like to thank all of you for reading and encouraging all of this, and I hope you’ve enjoyed my work so far.
I’m obviously going to continue with the blog, and hopefully contribute more to the discourse not just around film, but around storytelling in many mediums. Furthermore I’m planning to expand my means of communication and interaction with my (limited) readership: a Twitter feed and maybe a podcast could be in the near future. Besides my work on Creation From Chaos, I’m very optimistic that I will make progress as a storyteller in the near future; ideas for feature scripts, short scripts, comic books and novels are all competing for space in my head, and hopefully one of those will break free of the pack soon.
But with all of that being said, this anniversary is a bittersweet one. It just so happens that the start of this blog also corresponds with the most difficult period in my relationship with my girlfriend Shiran (probably the most difficult period of my life). It’s a time that we both hate to think about, and that we never wish to revisit. But as tough as it is to remember the fight itself, it is reassuring to realize that one year later, we’re still together, and more in love than ever. So for all of my pride in how far my blog has come, I’m even more proud of my relationship and my girlfriend. We weathered that storm a year ago because we decided that, despite the hurt and frustration, we loved each other, and our relationship was something worth fighting for and working on. Not only am I more grateful to still have Shiran in my life, but I am reminded of what it takes to have and hold the things that matter most to you. In that regard, being with Shiran has helped me pursue my aspirations more than any blog ever could, which is yet another thing I can never even begin to repay her for. In remembering the events of last fall though, one thing that is clear is that there is nothing and no one more important to me than Shiran, and no amount of creative success will trump that.
I love you Shiran, thank you for everything!