Gordon-Levitt (Joe) wrangles with his older self in "Looper"
by Lorri Vodi Rupard
I can see why this dish opened the TIFF just a few weeks back. Joe, a hardboiled young hit man (cutie-pie Joseph Gordon-Levitt) on the hunt for his 30-year-older self, (Bruce Willis) at first fried my brain whole then made me scour my purse for Kleenex during a majestic final showdown.
Martindale with "Geeks and Goblins" cast.
by Lorri Vodi Rupard
D. Michael Martindale launched his film exploration program in 1968 after watching 2001 Space Odyssey. He admits with a boyish grin, "I wanted to be Stanley Kubrick."
While enrolled in a high school production class, Martindale filmed a short documentary about mentally challenged patients at a community institution; the film was aired on a local independent channel. "In other words," Michael says, "Nobody watched it."
But last year a live crowd watched his short romantic comedy "Geeks and Goblins, Elves and Elliot" starring Rachel Marie McCash and Colton Tran and the film won the audience appreciation award at the 2011 Salt Lake Community College Film Festival. It was later accepted to the Phoenix International Christian Film Festival.
D. Michael insists he is a storyteller first and that his love of story dominates over any technique or style. "I'm pretty conservative because I always want the story to be the star. This means I'll probably never shoot anything avant-garde." On a technical note, D. Michael prefers digital to film for obvious reasons like ease and least expense. "The camera I've used most is the Sony EX1 and I'll aspire to use the RED ONE digital for many of my future projects."
Martindale just wrapped up a feature length film with 22 co-producers that is now submitted to Sundance for winter 2013. "It was truly a defining point in my career. I started out being a guerrilla filmmaker, cutting corners to make a film with almost no budget. I've learned what it means to produce a film professionally and frankly, I don't want to go back to the guerrilla days."
By Lara Candland
Inspired by having the tops of their heads blown off by Utah Valley University’s artist-in-residence Alex Caldiero, then-rookies Travis Low and Torben Bernhard took up cameras for the first time in 2007 in order to try to uncover the mystery of this outrageously singular Orem artist. In The Sonosopher: a Life in Sound, the filmmakers travel with Caldiero to his homeland in Sicily, to the home of his youth, New York City, and to his suburban “cookie-cutter” home in Orem, Utah, to which Caldiero migrated in 1980 after converting to Mormonsim and deciding it would be a more plausible place to raise a family of seven than New York City.
People seem bewildered first by what it is, exactly, one should call what Caldiero does, and second, by why on earth an experimental whatever-he-is would choose the culturally hegemonic Orem as a home. By the end of the film, our questions have not been so much answered as deemed irrelevant. Caldiero is an artist who works on the page and on the stage, following threads of da-daism, avant-garde poetry, and experimentalism as fomented by the likes of John Cage and Robert Rauschenberg in ‘50s and ‘60’s New York. Cage and Rauschenberg were artists he at least crossed paths with in New York, and he had some correspondence with Cage, and one of his books is a series of koan-like question and answer with Cage. He reads, vocalizes, stutters, breathes, intones, and tuvan throat-sings on stage. He sometimes calls his poems and books “scores”. His vocalizations range from “reading” to virtuosic phonemic utterances carried on the breath that he says is at the heart of his work.
In footage shot at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York City, at an experimental poetry festival no less, the emcee titters nervously and tries to get the intractable Caldiero off the stage while saying, “I don’t believe you wrote that. You just made that up. I have to admit, I don’t get it.” Caldiero opens the book. She tries to usher him off. He points to one of the pages he read from. She looks at it. “I think you’re the weirdest one here.”
In a clip from Park City TV, a group of handsome and feckless young—who knows what they were—skiers? Frat boys?--interview Caldiero. “Will you read for us?” the host asks. “I’ll do more than read for you, I’ll sonosophize,” Caldiero says. He directs the camera, “Come slowly towards me.” The camera obeys, and the sonosopher launches into his thing, a riveting and fully present piece breaking down the phrase, “This is not it.” He finishes. The young man smiles the most inauthentic of grins, familiar as Donny Osmond’s soul-hiding smile, and, in that perfectly dismissive Utah back-slapping move says, “Well, what can I possibly add to that?” (fade on huge phony grin). And once again, Caldiero has done his job of fully destabilizing the cultural landscape of Park City TV.These brief clips perfectly spotlight, without comment by the filmmakers, the perfect dissonances between authenticity and inauthenticity that Caldiero makes apparent in the world—the discomfort of the middlemen, the explainers, the emcees, trying to mediate between Caldiero and his audience. But Caldiero is an artist whose work flouts mediation because of it’s almost too-raw immediacy and directness. Low and Bernhard show this best when they let show us Caldiero in the context of a live audience. And they brought some amazing illumination to the funny, uncomfortable, and fraught relationship Caldiero has with the world and his audiences.
The film, just released on dvd, slips between footage of Caldiero, who no one can deny is a rare presence on any stage, and concerned citizens, scholars, and friends ruminating about whether or not Caldiero is really a poet, about what category his work fits into, about how legit he actually is. One interviewee says: “About 50% of his work is life-altering. The other 50% is bullshit.”
After three years of gathering material, Low and Bernhard faced the Herculean task of editing 110 hours of raw footage. What they occasionally lack in finessed camera work, they make up for with smart editing. If some of their technical skills are a tad green, they compensate by making some creative choices in moving the narrative of the film in a slightly less straightforward track.We still might crave 10 or 15 more minutes of the nuts and bolts stuff, though if they had to choose between the sonosophy-esque film technique and straight narrative, they made the right choice.
Though we still might want to know: How does Caldiero support his family? What are his classes like at UVU?Can he really teach legit philosophy? Does his wife do all the laundry and the cooking? What drives him to this? What REALLY brought him to Orem?
I think the last two questions are pretty convincingly answered—what Caldiero does, he does so he can breathe. My favorite scene was near the end of the film, when he seems outraged by the question, “How do you find time to do all this?” (He is surrounded by what looks like thirty or forty of his big hand-written books.).
“Time? I don’t have time. I don’t find time.” He pinches his jugular, around his adam’s apple. He seems to choke, to dig in to his life force, blood force, and breath force. What he does, he claims, is what he has to do. What he does is what he is. His work is just an extension of his breath, the circulation of the blood of his body. And the audience will have to decide: bullshit? Authentic? Or are they one and the same?
Guest contributor Candland is an educator, author, poetess uber-woman with a penchant for killer heels. Go to her website.
Lorri Vodi Rupard
Lorri grew up in Toronto, is a BYU graduate and former PBS affiliate on-air operator, won first place in the UWIF short screenplay contest 2011 and was a quarterfinalist in Final Draft's Big Break Screenplay Contest 2012. She is a Montreal Review, Eligible Magazine, and The Gate contributor.
A Singular Sonosopher
The Evolution of a Guerrilla Filmmaker
Looper - A Fantasy Film Noir Cry-Fest
Trigonometry in Film - Emerald Bay
Sundance Announces New Frontier Lab
Citizen Kane - He's Not That Different
Win a Role on Arrested Development
A Master and His Unlovable Crew
Pitch Perfect has its Flaws But it's Fun
AC/GC Play Thelonious Monk in Provo
Truffaut's "The 400 Blows" at Cannes
Ava DuVernay's Potency
BYUtv: "Song that Changed My Life"
New York Doll a Win Win with PUMit
Director Whitney to Lecture at DSC
Danor Gerald - Talent..and Southern Charm
Fewer Strong Female Characters
Apply Hot Buttered Popcorn Directly to Your Wounded Ego
Nil Desperandum, There's STIFF
Sugar Man - Deconstructing a Mystery
Why Ladies Might Be Right to Dig "When Harry Met Sally"
Let's Do the Time Warp
Deadlines are Like Tornadoes
Fundraiser: Make a Doritos Ad
The Real Hogwarts
Legend for a Chiller
Best Line Ever
Exercises in Futility
Utah Film Network Site
On The Sundance Red Carpet with Jarecki, Gere and Marling
Jay Simmons: Tell Me What I Can't Do and I'll Do It.
Taunya Gren: Woman at the Wheel
Sean Cisterna: Filmmaking in a Down Market
Levinson Pares it Down and Eco-Horrors it Up
Adams, Limbaugh and Tolstoy
The Perks of Being a Stereotype
Sellable Scripts and How to Direct
Lana Wachowski: You Gotta Know the Rules to Break Them
Flip Men's Doug Clark: I'm a Risk Taker Who Got Lucky
Filmmaking: Walk the Tightrope of Conviction
Cooler Than School: American Ride
Don't Be Encumbered by Your Old Nonsense
Screenwriters: Dont' Believe the Non Hype
David Fincher's Homage to Orson Welles and is Your Screenwriting Like Jazz?
Torben Bernhard: Filmmakers are Interpreters
Girl Power on Sundance Shorts/Less Money Mo Blues
All Things Jackson and Hobbity
Worse Case Scenarios
Hollywood Formulas or Mere Exalted Ideas of Cinematic Potential
2 Utah Boys and Reality Realty
BYU Alumni Jerusha Hess at Sundance
Want to be a Filmmaker? Study Business
Christmas Soup for the Filmmaker's Soul
Not Cool, Ben!
Sundance Sampler Platter
The Hobbit: One Line Review
Be a Pro, Not a Rookie
The Dream of Moving to Big Budget
Jackman has a First Name it's O.S.C.A.R
Fey and Poehler Host Golden Globes
Slamdance: Originality over Big Budget
NYT Best-selling author Hickman in SLC
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