Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Future of Cinema Meets Article Round-Ups

2014 has already been one of the strongest and strangest years I have had, well, ever. Older projects are getting filled out and delved into further, while new ones are starting to take root. The best part is that I am only halfway getting started.

Before I segue into my "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World"-style post, one thing I have wanted to briefly write about is a discussion that has come up and more and more regarding film versus digital. Seeing quotes from directors who should know better proclaiming the digital wave as a sign that "cinema is dead," I have instant PTS of hearing a litany of old people griping about change. You know the drill. The younger generations are sending the world straight into dumbass hell, while their parents and grandparents grind their dentures on butterscotch candy and abandoned dreams. It's as old as time itself. Saying cinema is dead is tantamount to telling all the struggling filmmakers out there that they are screwed and might as well give up. But one thing they don't teach you in school is that the biggest element you need to survive in any of the creative arts is pure, undiluted tenacity. Someone tells you cinema is dead, then prove them wrong and make the best movie you can dream of. I grew up worshipping at the twin altars of silent film mavericks like Robert Weine as well as Indie Cult gurus like John Waters because these are artists that took what could be perceived as limits and instead, created new frontiers. Rip it up and start again.

I will always champion film preservation till my last breath. I love film stock with all of my cineaste heart, especially all the beautiful grain and texture it can possess. But there is a middle to be met here. You can love film, as well as embrace digital. After all, what makes real cinema is the right mix of vision, lighting, good editing, sound, heart and flat out testicular/ovular fortitude. These elements can cohabitate on any format. 

In other words, take care of the past, look to the future and never ever give up.


Now, speaking of the past, here are some of my favorite things that I wrote about in the past several months.

The Dance of Reality/La Danza de la Realidad

One would be hard pressed to think of a finer gift from the universe than a new film by Alejandro Jodorowsky and this year, we got such a present. Even better, is that it was well worth the nearly 25 year wait.

Getting to write about this brilliant and heart-burrowingly great film for Dangerous Minds was a pleasure, matched only by getting to talk with the man himself. With generous thanks to both my fantastic editor and Jodorowsky's lovely PR guy Matt, I got to speak on the phone with the director/personal artistic godhead for an interview about his latest film. Sadly, our connection was pretty spotty lending to a fragmented conversation that was heavenly when it did connect and frustrating when it did not. The fact that it did last almost 30 minutes is both a testament to the seeds of a good conversation and (more than likely) the man's saint-like patience. But even with the wonky connection, Mr. Jodorowsky was incredibly gentle, assertive and nothing short of wonderful. (Also, quick thanks to my friend David Arrate for his audio assistance.)

Back Issues: The Hustler Magazine Story

Hands down, one of the best documentaries I have seen in a long time, Michael Lee Nirenberg's film is smart, fun, kinetic and has its own thumbprint while exploring one of the most subversive American magazines ever. Keep on eye on this guy, because I have a feeling this is just the beginning for the young filmmaker.

Massacre at Central High

After writing about Rene Daalder's powerful and still controversial feature film, I found out directly from Cult Epics that they are indeed prepping to release it. This will be the first legal domestic release this overlooked gem has had in decades.

Sugar Cookies

Bless Vinegar Syndrome for not only releasing this underground-meets-overground film but also for giving it such a gorgeous release. Every frame in this feature could be put on a wall in an art gallery. Great, great stuff.

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg, which also includes book projects, recent podcast appearances (Thank you Mike White, Rob St. Mary and Frank Cotolo!) and an event that equals my Jodorowsky experience in a multitude of ways. But I'm here to sell the sizzle, folks, not the steak. So in the meantime, enjoy!

2014 © Heather Drain


  1. I would love to see the new Jodorowsky - I don't even know how I'd go about seeing it until the DVD comes out...

    I hate to see the older guys in an industry doing the "Hell in a hand basket" talk. Bob Dylan does that a lot, saying that there's no good new music. But somehow, creative young people with great ideas always seem able to push things in new directions. They just might not be doing it in the places the old guys are looking...

    1. Katy, as always, your insight and perception is right on the money. Thank you so much, ma ami!

  2. I think it's interesting that I live in a town with an Alamo Drafthouse that doesn't have a single film projector. It's all digital. It would cost 25000 to get one and they don't think they would recoup their losses. Besides, as one of the people there put it, people in Kalamazoo couldn't tell the difference from a print or digital. Well, besides me of course.

  3. I'm excited about the MASSACRE release. Several years ago, I saw the master of this film when I was involved with Subversive and Norm Hill. I figure this is probably the material Subversive were going to release before they folded.

    I, too, loved BACK ISSUES. Great access, and a tribute to a magazine, a philosophy, that distinguished it from all the others.

    Jodorowsky's new film blew me away, too. So beautiful.

    1. Thank you so much! It is always a good day when you get to hear from cultural kindred spirits.