Friday, September 23, 2011

Monday, Monday....Can't Trust That Day - MGP

Interesting day Monday.  I had plans to see Machine Gun Preacher at the L.A. Film School.  I particularly wanted to see it at this venue because it featured a Q and A with screenwriter Jason Keller and I wanted to hear what he had to say about writing this script without fans asking about Gerry.  When the making of this movie was announced I questioned how and whether  they were going to make Sam a sympathetic character or whether they would portray him with all his warts and the dark side that was still very apparent after reading the book Another Man's War.

Anyway,  the ticket was for two people so I called my friend T, who had just returned from an exhausting trip to Shanghai, to see if she would like to go.   Knowing it wasn't her kind of movie, I promised her a nice dinner afterwards where she could fill me in on all her recent adventures.   Though she has never heard of Gerard Butler,  I told her that the actor in the movie was the type of guy I had had in mind when I wrote my first script, which new revision she had read the week before and that the real Sam looked a little like her recent ex boyfriend.  Don't know if these two asides whetted her curiosity, but I told her a little about the story and even though the title was ominous, she agreed to go.  I should have listened to my better judgment and gone alone, but what the turned out to be an interesting evening.

I left my house at 5:45 and picked her up an hour later.   We headed directly over to the film school to get in line and assure ourselves a seat.  There was already a line, but I figured they would start letting people in around eight.

My friend was kind of bored, so she decided to go buy a bottle of water  and a candy bar across the street.  On her way back she met an attorney she knew, who was in line for the movie,  and who was the ex of one of the people that owns a condo in her building.  She brought him back and introduced me as a "screenwriter." I learned, in short order,  that, in addition to his being an lawyer, he had the acting bug, was doing improv, was a closet conservative who had just come from Tea Party headquarters....and his wife had kicked him out after a second stab at saving their marriage.  At the Tea Party comment my friend poked me in the rib, while I tried to keep a straight face.

Like a lot of people in this town and in line for this movie, he had been networking with others and had spoken to the girl behind him who had told him about a few organizations, including Women in Film, who mentored screenwriters.  Hearing this, my friend, a shameless networker in her own field, promptly asks him if he would introduce me to the girl.  Reluctantly I headed to the front of the line to meet the girl in question and exchange information so she could forward me some material about said organizations.  T is a very dramatic, forward person.  I am not.

After returning to my place in line, T starts giggling, telling me she can't believe she actually knows a "tea partier" (her first) and then starts wondering aloud about the political persuasion of his ex.  A few moments  later she starts looking at her watch and wondering how long before they were going to let us in.  She discovered she could see the CNN clock and every few minutes would tick off the time.  Miss Patience she isn't.

Thankfully, the two girls who were standing in line behind us had been watching us.  I knew they were actresses from hearing them talk and realized they were giving me covert glances when one of them spoke up and asked if I was a dancer.  She then proceeded to tell me that I reminded her so much of her ballet teacher when she was a little girl, a lady she had loved dearly.  She said I was very pretty, just like her teacher.  I thanked her for the compliment and then she went on to tell me I had such a nice way about me and a warm face that attracted strangers.  Seeing me blush, her friend, a stuntwoman/driver,  tells me that I looked very familiar to her too.  I told her that it happens a lot and that I have a double walking around somewhere in Hollywood.  T suddenly pipes up with her "She looks like a younger Elizabeth Taylor, doesn't she?"...  to which I choked on my spit, gave her a dirty look and told the girls my friend was blindly fond of me.  I resemble Taylor in absolutely NO way.

We joked for a while with them and were joined by the people behind them but soon all turned to wondering when they were going to let us in, as it was already 8:30 and the doors were still closed.  After ticking off the time again, I told T to go use her charm and see if she can find out what was going on.    She promptly goes to get the attorney and between them they got to the bottom of the situation.   It seems the digital projector had broken down and they were borrowing a regular projector from somewhere else and were waiting for that and also had had to send a messenger to the Writer's Guild to pick up the only copy of the film available.  They anticipated a new start time of maybe 9:15.

T had started clock watching again and hinting that we should forget about the movie and go directly to dinner.  I didn't say a word (although I was starving) and just stuck in line.  After waiting this long, what was a few minutes more?

Well to make an already long story short, 20 minutes later they let us in and I think the film started close to 10:00 p.m., with the guy running the show announcing that Jason Keller had agreed to stay and do the Q & A, even though it was going to be late.

They threaded the projector and started the movie.  Five minutes after watching Gerry (Sam) walk out of prison, I look over to see my friend covering her face and her ears.  This continued throughout a big part of the movie and the guy on my other side of me kept looking over at her.  Whenever there was shooting or some kind of violence or gory scene she would not look.   I tried to ignore the whole situation and concentrate on the movie, but if you know the story, you'll know how hard that was.

Sam and Gerry
When the movie was finally over, after getting a nice ovation, a bunch of people left.  Jason Keller took a seat and the guy doing the interview did likewise.  Settling in, the Q & A was very interesting.  Keller turned out to be a very hip guy, not anything like the guy who had appeared with Sam and the Evangelical preacher in the Church service that Gerry was supposed to, but luckily did not attend.  He was asked some great questions by the interviewer and what I found very interesting was when he finally admitted that he "personally" did not like Sam, but greatly admired the end result of his conversion, which was the heroic and dogged fight to save the kids and found the Angeles of East Africa. Although it was a cause he himself was now involved with,  he said that he, Marc and Gerry had all agreed they would not whitewash him...and though Lynn Childers had told him he had got it right, Sam was having a hard time with it....seeing himself up there and accepting the bad with the good.

He also stated that the three of them had all agreed they were not going to make a political movie and after seeing Mr. Tea P. in the lobby afterwards and asking how he liked it, he told me he didn't like the movie because they skirted the issue of the Muslim north being the real ones responsible for all the violence.  Of course I couldn't help myself and asked him if he hadn't heard Keller say they were not trying to make a political statement with this movie, but were just trying to tell Sam's story and that was perhaps a story for another movie.  He thought it was a cop out and, of course,  I was rolling my eyes. by that time.

The Q & A didn't wind down until around 1 a.m. and we left there at l:15 a.m. and headed for The Standard (the only place I could think of that was still serving food) where I hungrily attacked a plate of crispy fish tacos, a green salad and a glass of Pinot Noir because, by that time, my stomach was sure my throat had been cut.

After dropping my friend off at 2:30 a.m., I drove home, having the road all to my self and made it in almost half an hour.  Although I didn't fall asleep until 5:00 a.m. after checking out my e-mails and showering and washing my hair, I went to bed thinking about the movie.

In all fairness I think my viewing of this movie was impaired by two things, the constant repulsion of the violence by my friend and the fact that I was too busy watching Gerry's performance that I missed seeing other things along the way.  This is something I will remedy with a "paying " ticket to the 5:30 show at the Arclight on Saturday, when I hope to see it with fresh eyes and give it a more honest critique.    I know everyone involved with this movie is promoting it like I've not seen a movie promoted in a long time.  The cause itself deserves it.  They want so to see it succeed and the critics, for the most part, are not helping it.  The message of the movie is a good one, but it is put together in such a way that it is not an easy movie to love...and not just because they show Sam with all his faults, but perhaps maybe because they couldn't quite connect with the man who would do such a heroic thing in saving these beautiful kids by what is portrayed on the screen. Is something missing in the telling of the story?

I have to say this is the best performance Gerry has given since The Jury. He was very good as was Michelle Monaghan.  I also think even though most people think Gerry is at his best doing action and being violent with his manly image....those that loved The Jury or Dear Frankie (and even in parts of 300) loved him for what he could say with his eyes, his silence, his tears...not just his brawn or his swagger.  I did love his performance in Machine Gun Preacher, but I wanted to love the movie itself a little more.  Perhaps it will seem a little less disjointed upon second viewing.

Oh, and what did my friend say about it?   "Boy that Gerry actor is one lovely hunk of manliness, isn't he?"

I just nodded and wanted to say...I think he's more than that.   But I didn't.

Songs out of tune, the words always a little wrong...Canzoni Stonate

Monday, September 19, 2011


This morning I opened my newspaper to the entertainment section and found a photograph of Warren Beatty under "Classic Hollywood" where he was being cited for having starred, produced, directed and co-written the script for the charming movie, Heaven Can Wait.

I love these little moments of serendipity.  

Songs out of tune, the words always a little wrong...Canzoni Stonate

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Don't know why...

...but when I glanced at this photo of Mr. B. and his manager and producing partner, Alan Siegel,  arriving at LAX, all I could think of was the mental snapshot I was getting from one of my dad's favorite movies,  Heaven Can Wait.

Joe Pendleton and Mr. Jordan?
While G prepares for his guest appearances on several talk shows in the area to promote Machine Gun Preacher, let's hope his odyssey leads him to an Oscar nomination and not to a walk in those particular kinds of clouds.

Songs out of tune, the words always a little wrong...Canzoni Stonate

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Guy in this Photograph...whoever he is...

is a handsome devil... and pretty much how I envisioned the protagonist (hair and all) in my very first stab at screenwriting too many years ago.   I am posting the photo without further comment because it needs none.

Coriolanus Press Conference - TIFF

Songs out of tune, the words always a little wrong...Canzoni Stonate

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Gerry's Night - TIFF Machine Gun Preacher Premier

He looks happy and excited and is displaying his usual enthusiasm and showmanship for the fans that have gathered there to see him.

I  hope the reviews for the film cap off the evening on a positive note and that word of mouth translates to a good audience for this movie.

Here are some of my favorite photos from this promotional blitz that started in Chicago:

No Caption Necessary
Chicago Screening

The following two I've dubbed "The Chameleon strikes Again"

Before the Magic Wand
Arriving Toronto with Alan Siegel
Gerry Transforms into the Swan
AFPJ fundraiser with Paul Haggis

King Leonidas Teeth Full Frontal
AFPJ Fundraiser Arrival

"See all the fans, Mum?  I think I've finally arrived!"
Gerry photographing crowd of fans from his car.

Unposed and Natural Human

The look that launched a thousand sighs?

"What does all of this mean now?"

Songs out of tune, the words always a little wrong...Canzoni Stonate

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Blue on Blue...

That is what came to mind seeing the photo and reading the L.A. Times interview with an emotional Gerry.  Yes, that is the name of a very old song as well but it seems to fit Gerry's emotions as he starts up with the promotional tour for Machine Gun Preacher.

I've had the feeling, watching him, that he would like to concentrate on perfecting his surfing for the upcoming Mavericks rather than revisiting the past and answering all kinds of questions from reporters regarding this emotionally charged movie that may have big consequences for his career. He's a trooper and he'll slog through it, but I really think he dreads it.

Finally catching a wave in Malibu!
From the sunny beaches of Malibu to the blitz of  "being on" in endless interviews is no picnic for a stoic person.  For an emotional person who tends to exhaust himself before he reaches that point of balance that allows him to function in these kinds of environments, it can take its toll. Being unable to control his tears could be the result.

Some people may call them crocodile tears, but there is a lot riding on his performance in this movie and how well it does, so it's natural that the internet buzz generated by these interviews is a big weight on his shoulders.   While his life may look endlessly glamorous to those on the outside,  it can be a stressful roller coaster ride waiting for the next phone call that signals the next role or source of income that will keep everyone on his payroll happy and in the manner he and they have grown accustomed to.  That is the beauty of endorsements for Swiss watches.  Fame can be fleeting and he knows that as well as anyone who plays the game.

And how the game goes all hinges on his talent...and his ability to maintain his equilibrium in the topsy turvy world he has chosen to live in.

Good luck G.  You can get through it.  You always do.  Put a smile on your face and screw the negative and the intrusive.   And, if the tears start to fall, just tell them you're a very emotional guy having a nervous breakdown.  Say it with a smile, even if a little part of it is true.   They'll think you're kidding. Your jokester reputation will see you through.

And remember to get some sleep between the curtain calls.  That one small investment pays such big dividends in the real world, dear muse.

Songs out of tune, the words always a little wrong...Canzoni Stonate

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Alan, Gerry and the Sword

Gerard Butler wearing his Roger Dubuis.
And the sword in this case is the one Gerry is brandishing in the photograph for the Excalibur  Skeleton Double Flying Tourbillon watch advertisement.  As the new face for this expensive timepiece by Roger Dubuis, he is expanding his endorsement deals that started with L'Oreal, into the rarified air of those with enough money to be able to afford the six figure kind of luxury this watch represents.

I have only one thing to say to this.  GOOD GOING ALAN SIEGEL!  Kudos to you for trying to show your boy in the kind of light that counterbalances the sometimes "still rough around the edges" kid from Glasgow image he often unwittingly presents to the public and furthering the "don't box me in" enigma that keeps people guessing about his footing in the worlds he inhabits.

You do your early counterparts in Hollywood justice and it's sad people behind the scenes usually only get the blame for what goes wrong and not the credit for what does.   It must sometimes feel almost as thankless as being a writer, except you get a percentage and the right to exercise power for your successes!  Not too shabby.

Well credit where credit is due.  And, if by chance this contact/contract was all Gerry's doing, then he's learned well at your elbow and good for him.  The right little bauble adorning a wrist  can say so many things about one.

Touring Roger Dubuis watchmakers in Switzerland.

As Executive Producers on Machine Gun Preacher, I wish you both luck.   I hope this is the vehicle that will make good on Gerry's early promise as an actor and help him attract the kinds of  roles in movies he wants to make, as well as put some of his disenchanted fans back in the theatre seats.

Songs out of tune, the words always a little wrong...Canzoni Stonate

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Outlandisher - Chap. 20 - Small World, Isn't It?

18th Century Inverness, Scotland

*Sassyhack McFraser
Clairevoyant "Sassyhack" McFraser sat over the bottle of ale, her chin resting in her hands.  Trying to find Gerremy McButler hadn't been as easy as she had anticipated when she had started out for the Red Bull Inn yesterday.    Like so many of the things that had happened to her since she had gone through the stones at Crai Na Comicon, she had again found herself thrust in the midst of a feud between the owner of The Red Bull and the owner of the land on which the building sat.

Apparently the owner's son had run off with the landowner's only daughter and as a consequence, the tenants were being evicted.  Since there was no one to claim his things... all of Jamie's belongings, including the godawful mirror, were sitting in the middle of the road.  After some bargaining with the innkeeper, she had paid the rent due on the room and, in exchange for the use of a wagon and the manpower to transport the mirror back to her cottage, she had removed a large, ugly wart from the landlord's wife's nose.  She was particularly interested in keeping the mirror since she vaguely remembered McButler mentioning such a one as the mode of his transport into the 18th century.  Whether it was this particular one, she aimed to find out.

Truth be told, she was missing Jamie and she wanted him to come home from wherever he was.  The only way she was going to find him was by finding Gerremy McButler and, if she could not get to either one of them, she would have to figure out a way to bring them to her.    She was pondering this dilemma when the wagon with Jamie's belongings arrived and she was enlisted in trying to figure out where she would put the blasted mirror.

New York City - Present Day

One week since their exploits at the Cock and Ball and several similar venues and Gerremy McButler and Jamie McFraser were no closer to locating their prey, one F. Neil McRandall, captain of his Majesty's 10th Dragoons.  The City had swallowed him up and they could find no trace of him anywhere.

In another week, Gerremy would have to report to Salt Lake City to start filming "Runway to Nowhere" and Jamie, much as he was enjoying the wonders of this century such as real toilet paper and the comfort of Calvin Klein briefs, was getting a hankering for Scotland and his wife,  the loopy Sassyhack also known as Clairvoyant Beachie McFraser.

Puppet on a string.
Jamie McFraser kept returning to ponder on the fact that no matter how much he traveled or where he went, even this little strange trip through time, he could not escape the feeling that he was a puppet on a string being controlled by some nonsensical spirit who would, under no circumstances, allow him to enjoy the physical charms of any but his wife, much as he might want to.   This made it very difficult, under the circumstances, what with Gerremy McButler trying to hook both of them up with varied female partners and taking him to places where they were sure to be surrounded by a cadre of good looking women he was having a hard time resisting.

Every time he would feel his manhood stir over some nice looking female fawning over him, this female puppet master who lived in his head and her constant voice over narrative served like a  bucket of ice water poured over his genitals and he was getting very sexually frustrated indeed.  He was also exasperated trying to explain the feeling to McButler who was starting to think he was a eunuch of some sort.  He did, however, tell Jamie that acting felt a little like someone else, but at least a visible someone, was running the show too. McButler had also added, as an aside, that his own cock had a mind of its own and often led him around by the nose regardless of his resolve not to stick it into certain places.  His nose he meant, of course.

Jamie had nodded in understanding, but looking at McButler's now sunburned nose, he suddenly had an image of those two disjointed body parts, outfitted with little tiny arms, holding hands and jumping into the metaphorical fire.  McButler's commiseration had done nothing to make him feel better, but that picture in his head had made him grin.

The truth was, that  no matter how much cotton Jamie put in his ears, the constant thrum of that voice driving him to live a kind of  "goody two shoes" existence,  was what had originally driven him out on his journey of discovery.  Now  it only sent him as far as the Latin bar down the street where the salsa dancers and the bongo drums were the only things that seemed to drown out the whiney voice.

McButler was convinced he had a crush on one of the girls who frequented the bar, but the fact was that he was developing a taste for the music and found that he was having trouble keeping his hips and his feet still all the time he was there.  He liked the way his kilt twirled around his legs, but besides that, it was the only place he seemed to be out of reach of the unseen hand driving his life and putting a curse on the natural response of his genitalia.  It was almost as if he only existed as a figment of some female's imagination and was not a living, breathing, lusty 1800 century male set loose in a 21st century world.  He loved his wife, but come on...this was perverse.

Well, he'd better get going, as he'd promised to meet Gerremy for lunch and sitting around thinking about his problem wasn't going to make it any less of one.

West Village, New York City

The formidable, but charming Giovanni.
Gerremy was approaching Bar Pitti Pois  in his cab.  His P/A had called Giovanni and asked him to hold a table and in typical Giovanni fashion, he had been warned he'd better be there in 30 minutes or he would not hold it.  He had picked up a few magazines on his way, as there were several articles where his name was featured and he wanted to check them out.

As his taxi pulled up to the restaurant to let him out, he saw Jamie peddling up the street.  The Highlander liked to walk but he had also learned to ride a bike and used that mode of transport whenever it was feasible, although yesterday he'd almost had a teardown, drag out fight with a cab driver who who  had almost mowed him down.  Riding alongside the cab and banging on the driver's window while holding onto the guy's door through rush hour traffic had not sat well with the cop who had come upon the scene.  A tough SOB,  McFraser was not one to back down easily when he was wronged.  The cop hadn't known what kind of a ticket to give him though, and he had gotten off with a warning after presenting what the policeman thought was a logical argument.  It hadn't hurt that the officer's name was MacDonald either.

The Pakistani cab driver had complained that McFraser was calling him indecent names, but since he was doing it in Gaelic, it was only his tone of voice that had given offense.   The fracas had been filmed by a tourist and hit the evening news.  Watching the two go at each other, each in a unintelligible tongue, with the poor cop in the middle rolling his eyes and trying to keep the peace, had made for an entertaining end to the newscast.

Greeting each other, Gerremy had gone in search of Giovanni to see about the table while Jamie locked up the bike.  After sitting down and ordering something cool to drink, they perused the menu and ordered.  Jamie excused himself to use the bathroom and Gerremy pulled out a copy of Vanity's Faire  and started turning the pages.   A minute later Jamie returned and sat down.

JMcF:  Crimson ballocks!  What the hell is this?

Jamie was pointing to the page Gerremy had folded back in an effort to read an article.   Startled by the outburst, Gerremy turned it over to see what was making McFraser's mouth hang open in astonishment, only to find a large black and white photograph of a man looking very much like their missing Captain, dressed to perfection in an expensive looking tuxedo and surrounded by two men and a woman.  The man with a hand on McRandall's shoulder suspiciously resembled designer Tomson Fordham.

Upon closer inspection, his eyes bugging out,  Gerremy gasped.

GMcB: Well fuck me blind!  It IS Fordham!

"Dare to live large!"
With that, he proceeded to read the caption under the photograph to an equally incredulous Jamie.

GMcB:  "Designer Tomson Fordham  introduces his new protege, Francois McRandell, at a celeb studded party, which included the likes of New York artist Enronymous Youngsmith and socialite Tissy Fairhair featured here talking to the pair."

Jamie was goggling at a second photograph, which featured a tanned McRandall in what Gerremy deduced was apparently part of an ad campaign shot by Thierry Ricardosan for the designer's new season over the caption "Dare to live large!"

After taking a few moments to explain to Jamie about the people involved and the significance of the photographs, they sat there, mouths open trying to understand what they were looking at.

Incredulous:  WTF?
When the Italian waiter approached with their food, he smiled and pointed to the photograph with his chin.

Waiter:  "Ahhh.  Quello che un uomo delizioso, eh?   I wait on heeem last week when he came in with Marty Scorsese!  They maybe make movie of McRandall's life, so he say."

GMcB: (incredulous)  Scorsese?  WTF?   I can't even get the time of day from the guy and this wacko manages to have lunch with him?  Talk about a fucked up world!

Jamie sat there and watched in amazement as Gerremy McButler almost wept.   It was not long before the frown was replaced  by a very Machiavellian look.

GMcB: (evil grin) I think I know how to locate and grab our friend and perhaps create an opportunity for me to talk to a certain snobbish director.

JMcF:  If the fella is sae famous now, wilna he be missed if he suddenly disappears?  I'm thinkin' ye'd better be taking that into consideration, no?

GMcB:  (frowning)  Yer right.  I didn't think o' that.  My publicist will have a cat and a cow if I'm arrested again.  Shit!

JMcF:  (confused)  A cat I can see, but where the devil is this publicist going tae find kine in these parts?

Disclaimer: This is a work of pure fiction that exists only in the twilight zone of the writer's mind. Any and all resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental. 

Songs out of tune, the words always a little wrong...Canzoni Stonate
*1940's screen star Anne Sheridan