You must go see “TOUCHY FEELY” this weekend! Directed by the always-brilliant Lynn Shelton, this film is a hurricane of deep and messy emotions and is so, so generous of spirit. Tears and joy. Wonderful cast. After watching the film you will want to buy a one-way ticket to Seattle. Lynn Shelton is a masterful director — the film-bard of the Pacific Northwest. I am in awe!
David Foster Wallace
Eleanor Friedberger’s newest album — “Personal Record” — is wonderful. She’s such an honest, insightful lyricist, and there’s a real urgency to her voice. I’ve always been a fan (going back to the earliest Fiery Furnaces albums), but I think in getting more stripped-down and straightforward with her music, Eleanor has created something profoundly timeless and affecting.
I found a lovely solo performance (windy afternoon, park bench) of “Stare at the Sun.” It’s perfect. There should be more picnic concerts on park benches, right?
Jill Soloway’s lovely, hilarious, moving film opens today in NYC and LA. You should go see it. Really. If you like good movies.
The Replacements just played their first show in 22 years! Footage has appeared online —and I couldn’t be more thrilled. The ‘Mats (yup, that’s what us nerdy super-fans call them) are one of my favorite bands, and…I will be now be planning the rest of my year based on where their other reunion shows are taking place. Consider me a groupie.
"Short Term 12" & "Drinking Buddies"
There are so many fantastic films coming out this month, and two of my absolute favorites open tomorrow:
"Short Term 12" (directed by Destin Cretton") and Joe Swanberg’s "Drinking Buddies."
Both films are generous and humane and populated with flawed, relatable characters whose hopes become our hopes — and whose small victories feel well-earned, human-sized, and worthy of our laughter, tears, and heartfelt applause.
I’ve seen both these films before; I’ll happily purchase tickets to see them again.
AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS
One of the best movies of the year — “AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS” — opens in theaters tomorrow. I’m so excited to watch it again. Writer/director David Lowery has crafted a gorgeous film that exists outside of time. Look for this movie. Take someone you love. Perhaps I’ll see you in the theater!
Some of my favorite coming-of-age films
I made a list of some of my favorite coming-of-age films. As soon as I made the list, I thought of another 25 films I wanted to include. There’s obviously no science to this. It’s utterly arbitrary. And I’m happy for people to disagree with me. That’s what “best of” lists are for, right?
Err in the direction of kindness
George Saunders’ beautiful convocation speech for the Syracuse University class of 2013:
"Down through the ages, a traditional form has evolved for this type of speech, which is: Some old fart, his best years behind him, who, over the course of his life, has made a series of dreadful mistakes (that would be me), gives heartfelt advice to a group of shining, energetic young people, with all of their best years ahead of them (that would be you).
And I intend to respect that tradition.
Now, one useful thing you can do with an old person, in addition to borrowing money from them, or asking them to do one of their old-time “dances,” so you can watch, while laughing, is ask: “Looking back, what do you regret?” And they’ll tell you. Sometimes, as you know, they’ll tell you even if you haven’t asked. Sometimes, even when you’ve specifically requested they not tell you, they’ll tell you.
So: What do I regret? Being poor from time to time? Not really. Working terrible jobs, like “knuckle-puller in a slaughterhouse?” (And don’t even ASK what that entails.) No. I don’t regret that. Skinny-dipping in a river in Sumatra, a little buzzed, and looking up and seeing like 300 monkeys sitting on a pipeline, pooping down into the river, the river in which I was swimming, with my mouth open, naked? And getting deathly ill afterwards, and staying sick for the next seven months? Not so much. Do I regret the occasional humiliation? Like once, playing hockey in front of a big crowd, including this girl I really liked, I somehow managed, while falling and emitting this weird whooping noise, to score on my own goalie, while also sending my stick flying into the crowd, nearly hitting that girl? No. I don’t even regret that.
But here’s something I do regret:
I’ve been watching this video non-stop all weekend. I find Jay-Z’s performance (and its backstory) really, really inspiring. And the message seems simple, pure, and empowering:
It doesn’t get much better than that.
Roger Ebert taught me how to appreciate movies. How to talk about them. How to argue about them. How to write about them.
Ebert loved movies. He was a passionate advocate for the movies he adored. And he wouldn’t hesitate to take down necessary targets.
Growing up in the 1980’s and 90’s, I watched Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel on TV with a near-religious fervor. Often, watching the two of them debate was more fun than watching the movies themselves.
Roger Ebert passed away earlier this year. He’d been sick for a while.
I never met Ebert, but I had the incredible good fortune to have Roger review two of my films in less than a year. Even more miraculously, he liked them both.
It’s hard to express how humbling it was to have a hero review my work — and how stunned I was that Ebert liked both “SMASHED” and “THE SPECTACULAR NOW.”
"THE SPECTACULAR NOW" was one of the final films Roger Ebert reviewed. And he gave it four stars. I don’t mean to sound boastful. Because truly, if I never make another film in my life, having Roger Ebert seriously engage with a film of mine will be one of the high-points of my creative life.
There will never be another Roger Ebert. He wrote from the heart, thought deeply, and the quality of his criticism was unparalleled. Ebert was a tough critic. But to have him as a champion? Every director’s wildest dream.
Soundtrack for “THE SPECTACULAR NOW” out TODAY!
The soundtrack for our film was released today and, in addition to Rob Simonsen’s BEAUTIFUL score, it features songs from a few of my favorite musicians, including Kurt Vile, Phosphorescent, and Ariel Pink. Check out the soundtrack on iTunes today!
We open in ONE WEEK!
August 2nd. NYC and LA. Please tell your friends. We expand in the following weeks. Info on theaters/tickets here:
This take didn’t wind up in the finished version of “THE SPECTACULAR NOW,” but I’ve always loved the image. It’s from one of my favorite scenes in the film.
It’s Monday morning…
…and it’s time for “Silly Love Songs.”
What’s wrong with that? Huh? I’d like to know.