“Nicholas Feitel has been a writer, an actor and a college student for some time now.”
“As a writer, his work has appeared in New York City in print and on the web.”
“As an actor, he has appeared in theater Off-Broadway, in commercials and on The Tonight Show With David Letterman.”
“As a college student, well, he’s almost graduated from NYU Film School.”
“Currently, he splits his time between writing as a Contributing Editor for the Film Society of Lincoln Center and his beautiful girlfriend, Eva.”
This was what I came up with, more or less, at the prompting of a field titled “Director’s Bio” on the website for the South by Southwest Film Festival.
Actually, it’s what I came up with about the fourth-or-fifth time after my work was erased, abandoned, rethought or, in one particularly savage case, X-ed out by some unsuspecting or malicious malefactor at my work.
“Drat.” I cursed mentally, secretly glad on some level that the situation had given me permission to use the word “drat”.
In fact, it was my work that had persuaded me to submit my thesis, LOSER to that particular festival, since I had met a young lady I knew from high school who happened to work for Jim Jarmusch’s production company, and as we took the awkward “I haven’t seen you in 4 years and wasn’t even sure if you were really cool then” walk, she mentioned that SXSW was good for “first-timers” as I indicated that in fact the arriving “E” was my train.
I had gotten done with 13 or so other applications, met with various degrees of ease through the past couple months and culminating in a recent bout of hysteria over the incompetence of the United States Postal Service.
Namely, I had shipped something Priority Mail, only to see it delivered 7 days later (as opposed to the “2-3” advertised) on a Saturday morning when, of course, the festival offices were closed.
When I used the tracking service I had paid so much more for, as an additional option on the automated machine, to figure this out, I found out I could not schedule a “redelivery” as advertised by the website. Instead in was in the festival’s hands to decide whether to send someone to go pick up the film from the one numb-nuts stupid enough to ship via U.S. Mail.
“It’s more expensive, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t get there.” I announced unceremoniously, headphones-in-ears at the late-night-services of a FedEx facility.
And I walked out proudly.
Only to discover that the receipt containing the tracking number that would give me so much joy in the minutiae of where my package was, had blown away down Hudson St, down the shutter-closed driveways of nearby UPS and down toward Tribeca.
“Shit.” I said to the wind, disappointed that it wasn’t “drat”.
One would think with all the pomp and circumstance of my self-appointed/created “Director’s Bio” that I might actually have it in me to see the films put on by the company for which I was supposedly a “Contributing Editor”, capital C, capital E.
But of course, I didn’t.
Or I mean, really I did.
I saw Kanikosen and Ghost Town for the actual job at Film Society, which I reviewed here and here, respectively. I saw Trash Humpers, the new Harmony Korine film for fun, which had a cool, if sophomoric effect when the filmmaker recognized me. I saw Hadewijch and Everyone Else in a case of Harbold-ian misunderstanding, wherein my friend Chadd blearily misinterpreted a mid-morning “what’s up” as a “Hey, will you buy me tickets for that Bruno Dumont film that you are seeing later this evening?”, which ended up well (even though the Dumont film was French-weirdocratic stuff) since Everyone Else was an ok “Germ-blecore” time (Trademark Pending) and we got to go out with Whit Stilman, by luck, after the film, who was nice enough to buy Chadd and I our drinks and discuss the modern cinema with us, even though we collectively bit our tongues when he dissed Johnny Guitar as “definitely a bad movie”.
I even got to see one of my favorite films of the year from perhaps the filmmaker I most aspire to, Todd Solondz, which I did write about for Film Society, though I’d have seen it for fun too.
But still, the feeling set in on me, on a Saturday morning, when I headed uptown perhaps ambivalently and missed my comped screening of Bong Joon-ho’s Mother, only to find out that there were no more screenings left of the film.
When I think of the New York Film Festival, I think not only of the movies I see there, but the experience as a whole and the past I’ve had there. I remember contentious or ludicrous Q+As, last minute viewings of 3-hours-films, the satisfaction of getting in to sold-out screenings for just 10 bucks waiting in what felt like the winner’s line outside the theater, or just the high caused by too-many free-espressos from the “gratis” Illy guys who seemed to serve you endlessly like bartenders who just don’t know when to stop.
It’s an experience each year, one best served with a liberal helping of filmie-type friends, with whom you can share conspiratorially, the nerdy glee of knowing that you’ve seen the new (insert douchebag-y filmmaker here) movie 2.5 weeks before the rest of art-house crowd of New York City will see it, that is, provided that most of the art-house crowd didn’t just attend that very same screening you just did and realizing that yes, they probably did.
So I mourn even though I’ve seen more movies than most at the festival, the lost opportunity in not seeing more.
And, simultaneously, I feel happy that I even feel sad about it.
If that makes any sense.
Finally, a word on something.
I have been much maligned (in my eyes of course) for my lack of anticipation for Where The Wild Things Are, mostly stemming from my (mostly one-sided) feud with superhero enthusiast and professional douchebag Dave Eggers.
However, at MoMA on Sunday, I had the opportunity, extremely begrudgingly, to see what was billed as a “making-of” documentary, but what turned out to be a portrait of Maurice Sendak, author of the book of Where The Wild Things Are, called Tell Them Anything You Want.
The movie was lovely, the best sort of short documentary, the one that attempts not to know it’s subject, but to understand him on his level, for a moment.
Sendak is a unique talent and Where The Wild Things Are is only one of his magical books that I was lucky enough to enjoy as a youngster and which have changed the lives of many a youngster before they did me.
He’s also a daringly funny person, extremely morbid, constantly discussing his own death. He’s filled with a uniquely Jewish blend of the ability to put himself down while simultaneously pointing out how great he is.
In the documentary, he discusses in the same breath, his loving relationship with his caretaker and his mother’s failed attempt to abort him. When the interviewer gawks, he shows incredulousness.
“What?” He asks, with his old crotchety Jew-tude. “It’s the truth. They told me flat out: We couldn’t afford you.”
Sendak is too great a character to describe in a blog post, but one thing the movie (which was recently itself shortlisted for this year’s Oscars) reminded me of is how much I like Spike Jonze.
Jonze, another Jewish kid, was sorely missed in such films as Synecdoche, New York and The Science of Sleep, that he could have tamed with his unique-but-limited sensibility as a director.
Being John Malkovich and Adaptation are both brilliant films and owe much to him, though they also are considered “Charlie Kaufman” movies.
What’s clear from Tell Them Anything You Want though, is that Jonze understands Sendak. He knows his story, his emotions and the feelings behind the book.
As such, with much humbling-and-bumbling, I recant some of my pessimism towards Where The Wild Things Are.
I like Jonze. I admire him.
And I feel like anyone who can make such a loving-compelling-understanding documentary about Maurice Sendak and his work, can bring an understanding to a film adaptation of his book.
Reviews have already come out for the film, ranging from Ed Gonzalez’s mostly positive Slant review to David Denby of the New Yorker’s review which is significantly more mixed.
As I said, nowadays, I hold out hope for the movie that it might be good or at least well-meaning.
But for now, at least, I can rest assured that if it’s bad, I’ll have a name to blame that’s not Jonze:
That *motherfucking* Dave Eggers.
What a douche.