Tag Archives: meryl streep

It’s NOT Complicated Enough …

Alas, this Tuesday, per the usual, I found myself miserably overwhelmed with the mounting To Do’s and exasperatedly conflicted about how to approach/attack/attack/approach … walk with grace and serenity onto the beautiful and mortifying yellow brick road of my unfolding life.  Fear of the unknown flogged and beat and raped me into a state of paralysis.  Instead of checking off my various To Do’s with vigorous glory as I’d fantasized doing while lying in bed on Monday night  — I spent most of Tuesday hiding under warm covers, venturing in and out of various states of consciousness.  Nightmares about serial killing con artists in the afterlife plagued my sleep; and Dreams about making my art (books & film) the world over and living comfortably off of their profits plagued my wake.

I’ll give you a quick download of the events taking place within the next 4 months: 1) Going to Grad School for my Masters in Film Theory.  Begin Fall 2011.  Woohoo!!!! 2) Must find summer job that pays more than present part-time job because I need to move out of my studio and closer to college. 3) Need to find new cheap studio or bedroom to move into — preferably with own side entrance. 4) Finishing Promotion rounds for my debut book The Voting Booth After Dark: Despicable, Embarrassing, Repulsive.  This entails contacting last round of potential reviewers, doing research on Universities & their Women’s, GLBTQ, Latino, & Mental Health studies Departments and pitching their professors my book as possible college course reading material.  As well as offering myself up as an expert speaker on the topics my book discusses: Latinos, Queers, & Addiction within both minority communities.

These are all AMAZINGLY splendid opportunities for personal betterment, I understand.  They’re also 150% mortifying since their manifestations seem to rely on one sole person: Muah.  Now I know that’s not true as I’m blessed to have a phenomenal support system of friends & family, therapy, prayer/meditation, etc … But knowing intellectually and feeling experientially the truth and untruth of something are two entirely different realities.  Suffice to say, I’d had ENOUGH of obsessing about how best to control the outcome of my life.  It was time to check into somebody else’s.

ENTER the Alec Baldwin/Meryl Streep Romantic Comedy It’s Complicated.  Because watching happy rich white people effortlessly enjoy fabulously opulent lifestyles is supposed to make me feel better?  So I thought.

According to It’s Complicated Hollywood continues its beige, more so egg-white, denial of  The Great Recession, which we — as a colorful multicultural country — are still experiencing.  And no, adding an affluent overly-tan Jewish family to an all white-cast does not diversify it.  Thanks for reminding us all of that, Meet the Little Fockers.  In case you haven’t noticed, Jews have ceased being a cinematic minority since 1960.

Her Family

Her Kitchen

Her Living Room

Her Friends

You may be asking yourself right now, “Byatch, why in the hell did you choose, out of ALL movies in the world, to check out on this one?”  I’ll tell you … I don’t own any DVDs except for The Kid Stays in the Picture, which I can’t NOT own because it’s my favorite documentary.  I don’t own any dvds because there are TOO many films that I love and if I own 2 of them, I have to own all of them and that would add a lot of clutter to my life.  Therefore, I had literally 1 movie to choose from.  Netflix streaming doesn’t work on my aunt’s Mac iBook G4, which I’m borrowing at the moment, due to the fact that it’s 1) Ancient and 2) Doesn’t have Intel Pentium blah blah.  I had -$29.35 in my bank account and didn’t get next paycheck until Wednesday so I couldn’t afford to rent a movie.  Thus, I only had my cousin’s collection of dvds to choose from.  Mind you, he’s a 28-year old guy with a girlfriend so it was either 300, The Godfather, or It’s Complicated.  300 is a racist piece of Western-loving Eastern-hating trash, which was not going to make me feel ANY lighter.  I’ve seen The Godfather about 30 times and as much as I love it, it was not going to take me from a dark place into a shinier one.  So I thought, maybe It’s Complicated will cheer me up a bit.  Also, Meryl Streep was in it and I could watch her act in anything.  She’s a bloody genius and a goddess.

As expected, Streep delivered.  She was endearing, lovable, and charming.  The rest of the film, however, was immensely depressing.  It wasn’t necessarily a bad movie. It appropriated all the classic cinematic conventions as it should have.  The movie was, you know, okay.  There was nothing imperfect about it.

In fact, it felt like watching a vacuum cleaner do its job right.  You’re like, “Yeah, my carpet’s clean.  That’s nice.”  Then you sit back down on your couch and realize you just watched a vacuum cleaner for 2 hours.  Depressing.

Let me elaborate:  The story was about a privileged anglo family who went through a mildly quirky set of circumstances (within cush surroundings), which ultimately brought them just a little closer together in the end.  Awwww, who cares.

It felt like I was watching holograms interact.  Where’s the humanity, the frailty, the vulnerability, the struggle, the triumph?  Where was its resemblance to reality?  It seems to me that the studio system has murdered every last introspective, reflective, existentialist romantic comedy writer in Hollywood.

Why couldn’t It’s Complicated have been Annie Hall?  Better yet, Annie Hall with some Cubans and Vietnamese 😉

Suffice to say, Tuesday was crap all the way through.  The Upside: Wednesday rocked.


At Mamushka’s — Contemplating Luck and Meryl Streep

I’m afraid.  Afraid that I don’t know how to “make it.”

Not that I’m not talented enough or intelligent enough or brazen enough or enough of a troubleshooter because, quite frankly, the passage of time has made me into these things … Humbled by life’s various expressions of the concept “No” — into these things. Rejection has broken me in half, dipped the sliced parts in acid, bulldozed the remains into slithers of thin rice paper, gathered the bits back together, and poured it all into a hot iron cast — where I slowly, but surely melded into one again.

I’ve been sculpted into a woman who works really really really hard for what she loves, trusting that serendipity will conspire at some point with that hard work to produce finished projects, which she is proud to call Her Art Work.

Poetry, Essays, Short Stories, Reviews, Books, Screenplays, Documentaries, Short Fiction Films …

and … quite possibly, one day soon, the reigning Goddess of them all:

— A Full Narrative Feature.

Even so, I am afraid — scared shitless really — that my talent, intelligence, skill, and tenacity aren’t enough to “make it.”

To make it — my feature film Dear Dios — in a manageable and enjoyable manner.

I’ve run the Guerilla-filmmaking track several times, and learned along the way that making a finished film is not the great hurdle — Distributing a finished film is.

One of the best films I’ve ever seen is The Last Summer of La Boyita. Have you ever heard of it?  Exactly.

Hollywood isn’t made famous so much for the quality/artistry of its films, but for the quality/artistry of its Distribution of films. Hollywood gets movies marketed and exhibited all over the world through numerous avenues — film festival circuits, theatrical runs, dvd rentals, pay per view, cable distribution, netflix instant streaming, etc.  Hollywood gives Movies — quality or not — a shot in the global psyche by seemlessly shoving them into the faces of countless millions.

It’s not the art of filmmaking that weighs down on my neck — that I fret about in the dark hours of sleepless weeks — but the art of distribution: 1) Marketing 2) Exhibition

I know a lot of filmmakers, specifically independent filmmakers, who get their films funded through grants and/or fiscal sponsorship of sorts.  Most of these films are documentaries or narratives about minority issues.

I also know a lot of independent filmmakers that get their films funded through corporate backing and advertising profits.

The creative quality of the projects vary from breathtakingly outstanding to abusively horrid.

The one commonality most of these films share, which staples them into my brain:  They can’t secure proper distribution.  This means the film doesn’t get what it really needs to be SEEN: 1) Killer Marketing 2) Audience Accessibility through numerous Exhibition channels.

I could go on and on about the many countless mainstream and guerilla ways a filmmaker employs to make/distribute their films. Additionally, I could go on and on about my first hand experience, the endless hours of the research I’ve conducted, the seminars I’ve attended, the books I’ve read, and the advice I’ve been given on those topics …

But I’m trying to get to the root of my anguish … What burdens me, fills my chest with tacks, and bludgeons my passionate fearlessness into a whimpering pup.

What I know to be “the horror stories of the moviemaking business” or “the slim chances of getting a feature film off the ground” or…blah blah blah — are not what scare me.  I’ve heard it all and seen a lot of it and I don’t care.

Dear Dios is getting made and shown …

I’m terrified by the fact that I just don’t know the best full-proof  way to go about it.

My main concerns being: 1) Maintaining creative control 2) Securing Proper Distribution, which includes hefty marketing and smart exhibition strategies/audience accessibility.

Like I said in the blog post before this one: Grants were Plan A.   The dream plan.   Academia’s stamp of support and approval.  I know many a blessed filmmaker who fund their projects and livelihoods this way.

3 years later — Plan A is Plan Over.  The 40-hour applications proved great writing practice: Sped up the quality and delivery of treatments, vision summaries, synopses, screenplay, and honed my essay writing skills like no formal writing course ever did.

Aside from that, however, nothing — only neon mailing confirmations and post office receipts scattered about my computer desk. Reminders that, not so long ago, I naively thought and hoped with every inch of me that “making a movie” could be a safe and predictable affair.

Years of Academia train you to believe in such false havens.  The Academic Way is characterized by a comforting lovely structure: When you do your best — you apply and get accepted, turn in test and get an A,  graduate from Grade X and move onto Grade Y.  It creates an unrealistic picture of Life — as being a controllable and comprehensible thing.

When in actuality, Life is Mother Nature — a transient and unpredictable force — The Wild West.

So yes, I’m scared.  Scared that I can’t, as I had once hoped when applying to grants, make my movie with a formulaic certainty.  Approach it — strategically and emotionally — the way I use to do school exams.   Scared of the open ended dance with Serendipity I now face …

Yes, I’m riddled with anxiety, fear, and worry.  Anxious that a small being must pull off such a grandiose task.  Afraid that neither timing or opportunity knows of  my existence.  Worried that preparation and hard work won’t make up for Serendipity’s unruly and inconsistent presence in my life.

Scared shitless that Luck picks favorites and is so taken with the charming Meryl Streep, it may have forgotten about me.


At “Ceviche Loco” — Contemplating Political Loyalty

I’m exhausted. Nocturnal by nature, the Sun tends to lull me to sleep…Ahh, the breezy warmth of a Los Angeles winter.  Like snuggling up in mamushka’s queen sized bed while she makes me cafe con leche.  I’m waiting for my fish ceviche tostada and taco de pescado empanizado.

I spend nights awake & alert: working on art projects, writing, reading, scheming, watching movies, saving the world one conversation at a time till’ 4 in da’ mornin’ with a besty, or trying desperately to sleep “like a healthy person” for hours upon end.  This is why I LOVE the weekends.  I don’t have to feel any guilt, fear, or negative physical repercussions over my internal clock’s odd nature.  Friday night, Saturday, & Sunday are idyllic: Sleep in until 2p or 3p, run around and do stuff in the light of the world until it wanes (errands, brunches, exhibits, plays), and then when the sky turns the blue black it won’t shake for hours: I work on my art projects, write, read, scheme, watch movies, and save the world one conversation at a time til 4′ in da’ mornin’ with a besty.

“Besty” and/or “Besties” refers to dear friends I profoundly enjoy.  I learned the term in junior high.  I use it often since then.  Although I must admit, I like saying the word more than seeing it written.

So on Sunday at 10p, the night solidified its stay and my eyes wouldn’t close for even a blink.  My eyeballs were dry, meyng.   My tooth cavity hurt too.  So, I logged into Baby Dewds’ netflix account and watched some celluloid.

First, I saw the Comedy Central Bob Saget roast, which was more of a “hug/I really love you, man aka john stamos/you’re such a GAY jew dewd, huh huh” Fest than a “haha” fest.  It was no Pam Anderson roast.  Also, watching Norm McDonald’s face puffed up by wet brain was not funny.  At all.  Only drunks at the brink of wet brain who get sloppy and have some sort of “rock n’ roll” background are funny.  Like Courtney love on the Pam Anderson roast.  No, wait.  Her slow death isn’t really that funny either.  Just Jeff Ross’ take on it.  Man, Comedy Central Roasts are so depressing to think back on.

After that, I watched what brings me to blogging yet again at “Ceviche Loco” — The documentary Theater of War. It dissects German playwright Bertolt Brecht’s renowned 1939 play Mother Courage & Her Childrenand follows its NYC adaptation with Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, and Tony Kusher during 2006. I clicked on it because 1) The play starred the dynamite dame Meryl Streep  & 2) I’d never before seen a documentation of a single play’s “behind-the-scenes” process (playwrights and their plays — yes, but not one specific play)… So I thought, “HEY! Let’s do it.”

I knew nothing of Brecht or Mother Courage & Her Children so I was excited to learn more about the whole bada-bing.

It was a fascinating documentary.  Not for the cinematic artistry as the cinematography, editing, and sound design were amateur, but more for its multi-angle approach to exploring the play material.

You could tell the doc had been pieced together by someone who loved this play.  Not someone wowed by the hollywood fame of Streep and Kline or the pretension of comprehending THE THEATAWR, but by a collection of someones who wanted the audience to UNDERSTAND the play’s significance — its pivotal meaning to society — especially today.  The doc inspires one to reflect on their ideological beliefs not just theoretically (e.g. conversations with besties till’ 4 in da’ mornin’), but in the flesh.

How deeply do you embody your political loyalties?  Would you die for them? Sacrifice your limb, your sight, your child?  Your business?  Are the virtues of youth exploited by war?

Without having read the play or seen it performed, I can only discuss the contemplations aroused by the documentary and its reflections on Brecht’s Mother Courage & Her Children.

Mother Courage & Her Children‘s Quick Overview courtesy of Amazon.com:

Anna Fierling, an itinerant trader during the seventeenth century, becomes known as “Mother Courage” after the constant warfare gradually claims all of her children.

Play by Bertolt Brecht, written in German as Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder: Eine Chronik aus dem Dreissigjahrigen Krieg, produced in 1941 and published in 1949. Composed of 12 scenes, the work is a chronicle play of the Thirty Years’ War and is based on the picaresque novel Simplicissimus (1669) by Hans Jakob Grimmelshausen. In 1949 Brecht staged Mother Courage, with music by Paul Dessau, in the Soviet sector of Berlin. The plot revolves around a woman who depends on war for her personal survival and who is nicknamed Mother Courage for her coolness in safeguarding her merchandise under enemy fire. One by one her three children die, yet she continues her profiteering. — The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature
Wars are fought by Mother Courage’s Children.  Each, as the film points out, killed by an Achilles’ heel — which proves not to be a character weakness but a character strength — a Virtue.
Kattrin: The mute daughter “who is killed as she attempts to warn a town about an imminent siege.” – Empathy killed her.
Eilif: “Mother Courage’s eldest and favorite son, he is something of a thug, though she thinks him “dashing” and “brave.” He is recruited by the Recruiting Officer in the first scene, and he seems after that to really enjoy the war. Much praised by the General in Scene 2 for slaughtering peasants and stealing their livestock, Eilif is executed for committing the same deed in Scene 6 in peacetime. Mother Courage never knows of his death.” – Fearlessness killed him.
Swiss Cheese: “Mother Courage’s younger son. Swiss Cheese is, according to his mother, too honest. He is painted by Brecht to be rather stupid. He takes a job as paymaster of the Second Finnish Regiment and attempts to hide its cashbox so that he can return it to his general after the Catholics have gained power. He is caught with it and shortly executed.” – Honesty killed him.
We — the young ones — are sacrificed for wars about ideologies — ideological wars devised by those that never had to die for their beliefs.  Yes, some war promoters/profiteers may have had to go to war and almost die or came back missing arms and legs. Many more came back physically whole, but mentally beyond repair.  And then there were those that never had to risk their skin at all…
Young soldiers die in the flesh for beliefs.  They kill other flesh & blood human beings for beliefs.  Beliefs:Ideas:Concepts.  Usually for the collective ideology of a community they were raised or embraced by.
The young soldiers of Fidel Castro’s revolution/overthrow of Batista’s government were this way, the young soldiers of Hitler’s 3rd Reich, American soldiers in Iraq & Afghanistan, the young Israeli soldiers in Palestine & Lebanon, the young Native-American warriors during European colonization, the young Zapatistas in Mexico, the young guerilla warriors in Colombia, the young child soldiers in the Congo, and the list goes on and on.
People my age and younger all over the world are dying for “what’s right,” dying for “the right” to live, dying for “our right to live a certain way” at the cost of other people’s “right to live a certain way” or “live. period.”  The Sacrificial Young are propelled into the arms of death by a passionate empathy, fearlessness, and honesty blinding in youth.
So I began to wonder — I know there are specific people I would die for — but are there ideologies I would die for too?  Are there any ideological wars taking place now that I would lay my life down for?  Cut my years on earth short for? Risk the quality of my life — risk my eyes which allow me to see the movies I love so much, risk hearing great jokes for a permanent deaf silence, risk dancing all night for a two-wheeler on the sidewalk, risk soundness of mind (the little I have left) for grotesque and painful memories that grow strong with age and beat me mercilessly in dreams…
Ideologies for which I’d sacrifice peace of mind and faith in humanity and remaining bits of childhood innocence and Eugene O’neill plays and Du Bois books and Flamenco music and train rides through German country sides and filming little Indian girls dancing at school performances in Jaipur and kissing a woman I’ve fallen madly for on the lips and lazy days on California beaches with besties and … and … and …
Do I have any staunch unmovable loyalties to any political entity or ideological organization?  And if so, would I’d die for  THEM?  Wow.  That’s a serious question, my friend.
I. don’t. know. yet.
All I do know is this: Every day I try my best to act — in all areas (personal, creative, & professional) — in accordance with the personal ideologies I hold dear.  I am my own political entity: The Party of Vanessa Libertad Garcia — who believes in affordable health care and higher education, quality public education, equality in the workforce, FREEDOM OF SPEECH, and the right to do and pursue anything you want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else — For All.
If one day my freedom to do that was seriously threatened, and I had to sacrifice my safety to keep it … I’d like to think I would.
How?
Well, preferred forms of resistance are a whole nother’ blog post!