Saturday, July 31, 2010

Elie Wiesel and the "obscene" play

Racist right-wing zionist threatens grovelling playwright

Roger Corman used to cast movies by going through lists of Screen Actors Guild members, looking for names he recognized but who hadn't worked in a while. This how he happened give work to aging stars like Boris Karloff and others. Seems like a good idea. Larry Cohen was asked how he got Broderick Crawford to star in The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover, and he explained that there aren't that many leading roles for older actors. Write decent roles for older stars and you can get who you like.

There was a playwright in Hudson New York who tried something like this. Wrote a play for a couple of geezers. It might have worked if not for one thing...

The play was an imagined meeting between Elie Wiesel and Bernard Madoff, written by Deborah Margolin.

According to an article in The New York Times:

The Wiesel character in the earlier script was no passing contrivance. Ms. Margolin said she had seen the character as an ideal dramatic device, a name that would instantly connote moral authority. The central scene of the original play was an imagined conversation in which Wiesel pleaded with Madoff to invest his money. It also included a sexually tinged memory of Wiesel’s time in a concentration camp, as well as readings from the Talmud and meditations on repentance.

Wiesel spent much of the play cajoling and counseling Madoff, building up to a climactic moment in which the treacherous investor considered confessing his deceit to his wise and kindly companion.

Where did they get the idea that Wiesel was wise or kindly? He always seemed like a jerk to me.

Apparently Wiesel had been taking in contributions for something he modestly dubbed The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity. Donors probably thought the money would be used for the good of all mankind (except Palestinians), but Wiesel put it all in the stock market. He handed it all to Madoff until Madoff was thrown in prison.

Over the years, the wise, kindly Elie Wiesel refused to take part in a conference on genocide because it included mention of the Armenian genocide; he attacked Simon Wiesenthal because Wiesenthal called for the recognition of non-Jewish holocaust victims such as Gypsies and homosexuals; when asked to comment, he expressed no sympathy for the 2,000 or so Palestinians slaughtered in Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps, said that he felt "sad for Israel, not against it," and said that no one should comment on it or criticize Israel for carrying out the massacre.

In the late '40s, Wiesel was a member of the Irgun, a Jewish terrorist group that helped carry out the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. He wants to criminalize Holocaust denial, but he denies the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, denies the Armenian Genocide, and wants the world to ignore the Nazi genocide against Gypsies, homosexuals and others.

Wiesel called for the U.S. invasion of Iraq and is now calling for war on Iran. He continues to defend and support any mass murder of Palestinians.

But Wiesel is as angry as a Transylvanian can be about Bernard Madoff. Wiesel thinks Madoff should be forced to spend 24 hours a day looking at pictures of the millionaires he defrauded. He thinks Madoff would be tortured with guilt.

And now we have this idiot playwright who thinks that sticking Wiesel in a play gave it instant moral authority.

The woman has no right to be so stupid. She teaches at Yale, for God's sake.

She sent a copy of the play to Wiesel. The wise, kindly Wiesel wrote back that the play was "obscene" and threatened to sue her.

Margolin quickly rewrote it. Wrote out Wiesel and replaced him with a fictional geezer poet.

It didn't seem to change her opinion of Wiesel. She told the guy at the New York Times, “I didn’t set out to be on the wrong side of anybody, let alone someone I admire."

If she wants to admire him, okay. She can if she wants. But don't be an idiot about it.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Daniel Schorr

I heard a bit of an obituary for Daniel Shorr, dead at 93, on public radio. They talked about what a fine reporter he was because, on CBS TV, he interviewed the leader of East Germany. Shore kept interrupting and badgering the man until he walked out of the interview. The head of CBS complimented Shorr on how cool and calm he remained throughout the interview, but Shorr admitted to him that it was a fraud, that the reaction shots of Shorr were filmed after the fact. They re-edited the interview so that Shore looked calm and collected while the East German leader was so irrational that he stormed out.

The reporter on public radio thought this showed how honest Shorr was. Yes, the reaction shots were deceptive, he said, but Shorr admitted the deception immediately.

Well. No. Shorr admitted it to his boss; he never informed the public about his fraud. He used a rare interview with the leader of East Germany strictly as an exercise in propaganda. Imagine the reaction if a reporter from the USSR acted that way while interviewing a West German leader then used faked reaction shots and broadcast it in the Soviet Union.

They said that CBS banned the practice of filming interviewer reaction shots after the fact, but that ban didn't last long. That sort of fraud was Mike Wallace's whole career.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Zombie Girl: The Movie, Pathogen

I heard about Martin Scorcese on location on one of his movies. His mother had a small role. She played an elderly Italian woman. They were working late at night and he was having trouble getting what he needed on film. And his mother started complaining about the obscene language in the script. He finally had to tell her to pipe down and let him work. He said she wasn't happy about it, but she understood that he had to get it done.

Now I'm sitting here watching Zombie Girl: The Movie, a documentary about twelve-year-old Emily Hagins making her feature-length zombie movie, Pathogen. Her mother is helping her a lot, doing a lot of work and spending a huge amount of time on it, but at times the mother is directing the director even though the girl seems to have things under control. Well, if it were me, I'd have been trying to get them to speed it up, too.

The mother was sort of the opposite of Martin Scorcese's mother---or his "mama", as his people would say. Mama Scorcese was slowing things down. Emily Hagins' mother was trying to keep things moving.

Now they're filming in a grocery store.

When I've written scripts, I've tried to write them so all the scenes could be filmed places where no permission would be needed, even if it could be gotten easily. I wouldn't have filmed in a supermarket. The girl seems more ambitious and talented than I've ever been. She convinced them to close the store while they filmed.

I just hope the kids in the documentary aren't watching this particular broadcast. The channel keeps showing commercials for non-prescription aphrodisiacs.

Here's the site for the documentary:

And here is Emily Hagins' oddly named website where you can order her zombie movie, Pathogen:

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Toward a People's Cinema

People's Cinema has never worked out well. Soviet Experimental Cinema was never really popular. Neither was Italian Neo-Realism.

We should note, though, that nearly all of the Spaghetti Westerns were directed by Communists. You don't need to look very hard for Marxist symbolism, like the gold buried in a massive war cemetery in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly or Clint Eastwood counting dead bodies by their monetary value in For A Few Dollars More. There was one--was in Django?--where the rich American murders Mexican peasants and feeds their bodies to his pet eagle.

And Soviet cinema did quite well producing a lot of well-made big budget movies. George Lucas ripped off Soviet special effects in Star Wars. Spielberg freely ripped off Soviet war movies in Saving Private Ryan. They understood the importance of plagiarizing only obscure sources. Your massive fraud can go undetected for years, and if anyone does discover it, you call it a homage.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Free movies

See, now, I would never buy a DVD of a movie I'd never seen. Unless it was really cheap. I don't know if I'm typical.

But for independent filmmakers, there's the thing. Either sell your movies really cheap, which may not work either, or let your movie be seen----you won't get it into theatrical release, but in lieu of that, you could post it on You Tube or otherwise release it for free on the Internet. Then sell DVDs. I think it would work, assuming the movie was worth buying.

On another blog, I read about a filmmaker who made her movie available free of charge on the internet. She was able to thus make a profit from DVD sales as well as from donations.

Ken Kesey, ROG

Ken Kesey made a movie years ago of his bus trip in the 1960s. They had a lot of footage filmed at the time, but there was a technical problem. The cameras and tape recorders ran on the bus's electrical system, so they didn't run at a consistent speed. It was impossible to synchronize the sound and picture. It wasn't until the advent of digital editing that they were able to solve the problem.

Kesey began selling tapes of the movie online. And here's how he did it. You ordered the movie online. He mailed you the tape. Then you mailed him the money.

Just don't be stingy! How much is your movie really worth, anyway? Especially since anyone can turn on the TV and watch much better stuff for free. You're lucky anyone's watching it all.

Rick Schmidt

That guy's charging something like $30 for DVDs. He's made a lot of movies. I don't know how they're selling. I've never seen one in a video store (I have seen Jon Jost's movie and Wayne Wang's early efforts) but Schmidt's were never available anywhere. I can't see shelling out $30 for a movie sight unseen.

I suppose he's doing okay, though. He has the book out (Feature Film Making At Used Car Prices) which publicizes the DVDs. But if he made the movies available (if they're any good) they could maybe publicize the book, too.


"Self-publishing" is standard with music and movies. Bands produce their own CDs and low budget filmmakers sell their own DVDs. There doesn't seem to be any shame in it.

Doesn't seem to work with books. Self-publishing gets you no respect at all.