Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Noir City 4: Litquake

On Saturday afternoon of the 21st, the Fourth Annual San Francisco Film Noir Festival tried a change of pace.

They collaborated with a group of local authors who had started a literary festival in 2002...

...called Litquake, where they could create something as a group rather than spending so much time in the solitary act of writing.

The program was set in the lounge area rather than inside the large theater, presumably because they were using DVDs for the film clips, and there was already an A/V setup in the lounge with a very harassed operator who performed heroically, although all the films were in the wrong aspect ratio.

The emcee Peter Maravelis is the events programmer for City Lights Books, and he was quite brainy, though he kept getting writer's names and titles wrong in his headlong rush to keep the afternoon moving along.

The roster of local writers reading excerpts from various crime novels was certainly a starry one, lead by Joe Gores who has published a huge pile of novels including "Hammett," along with a range of television and film work.

He read from "The Maltese Falcon" by Dashiell Hammett, and claimed that the reason the movie was so successful was because John Huston did something revolutionary. "He just filmed the book. Period."

The next writer was Joyce Maynard, a novelist and journalist living in Mill Valley. Her tight red skirt and leopard-print blouse was definitely the sartorial highlight of the afternoon. She read from Raymond Chandler's "Farewell, My Lovely" which reminded me of how fun Chandler is to read.

The dapper-looking novelist Barry Gifford also works in film, co-writing a movie with David Lynch ("Lost Highway") and Matt Dillon ("City of Ghosts").

He pulled out a copy of a letter Raymond Chandler had written to James M. Cain when the former was adapting the latter's novel of "Double Indemnity." It was a really interesting description of how they had tried filming a few scenes using Cain's direct dialogue for the book but how it hadn't worked. What was beautiful as a clump of dialogue on the page merely sounded stilted on a film set.

He read from Cain's "The Postman Always Rings Twice" and the following film clip nicely illustrated his point. The scene was almost exactly the same as the written page, but not really. The dialogue was succinctly covering more territory.

Next up was Joe Loya whose memoir the emcee called "The Man Who Outgrew his Self," but Mr. Loya started his reading with a correction. "My book is called 'The Man Who Outgrew his Prison Cell' and it's about my time in San Quentin when I was a bank robber where I got up to 690 pounds and literally outgrew my cell."

He read from "The Asphalt Jungle" by W.R. Burnett, who I'd never heard about before but who had quite a career, writing "Little Caesar" in the 1920s and continuing on with the screenplay for "The Great Escape" in the 1960s.

Daniel Handler, the enormously successful Lemony Snicket creator, looked very pleased with himself, and why not? He read from Patricia Highsmith's first novel, "Strangers on a Train" which was later turned into the Hitchcock movie with Farley Granger.

He told a funny story about having two friends who didn't know each other who both happened to spend some time with Patricia Highsmith. "They both used exactly the same words to describe her, though. She was one of the most unpleasant people they had ever met in their entire lives."

"Strangers on a Train" was an odd choice for the reading because the book and the movie are so radically different. The book is naturalistic and deeply melancholy. In fact, what makes Highsmith's tales so disturbing is that she tells extremely macabre tales in the flattest, most naturalistic style possible.

Hitchcock, on the other hand, enjoys adrenaline and cartoonish characters, such as Marion Lorne above as Bruno's Mom, who in the book is depicted as a slightly distracted socialite.

Winning the hunk-a-chunk award was the author Robert Mailer Anderson who has written an interesting sounding novel called "Boonville."

He read from a Cornell Woolrich short story that eventually became another Hitchcock film, "Rear Window."

Winner of the most beautiful voice of the afternoon was Los Angeles writer Gary Phillips with a rich bass-baritone reading the wildly violent and misogynistic prose of Mickey Spillane, who according to the program is still alive at 87.

The excerpt was from the final scene of "Kiss Me Deadly" where an evil woman bursts into flame and Deserves It!

According to Phillips, the 1955 Robert Aldrich version kept the title and the name Mike Hammer, and that was about it, though the movie clip was the finale of the film where the bad girl opens a box and it has Nuclear Material which makes her burst into flame. And she Deserves It!

Michelle Tea introduced an excerpt from Jim Thompson's "The Grifters" with the comment, "Let me get this over with quickly so we can get to the fabulousness of Angelica Huston," and she'll get no argument from me.

The final reader was Peter Plate, who in a tour-de-force performance recited a large chunk of Charles Willeford's "Miami Blues" from memory.

It was the scene where a handsome young psycopath (played in the 1990 movie by Alec Baldwin at his sexiest) gets off a plane in Miami, has a Hare Krishna put a candy pin into his new suit, which irritates him enough that he breaks the Hare Krishna's two fingers. It was quite a rousing way to end the afternoon.


Anonymous said...

I was looking at the emcee pic and thinking that guy could use some yoga. Then scrolled down to the next image, of Joe Gores. On one of my many trips to Greece, the isle of Lesbos, to be specific, to wallow in yoga and the aegean, Joe Gores and his wife (Dory?) were also in attendance. She, participating in the yoga workshop, he not. It was Cyra McFadden who informed me of Joe's identity. She was thrilled to find him in the same unlikely locale. How I knew Cyra is another tale. The wacky English body worker whose guest she was, another yet. And how we all ended up there, then (13 or 14 years ago), is a smile-inducing deep mystery. Life is so fucking interesting. And it all folds back to yoga. Or books. Or... Israel. Where I then traveled to meet my then-in-laws.

That book I was reading, Fortress of Solitude, is astonishing and remarkable. I will give it to you if you will read it and we can talk.

many x's and o's,

Anonymous said...

690 pounds??!! Is that possible?! What would THAT be like?! whoa

Anonymous said...

Many people know the importance of self confidence and try to boost their own by using many different personal development models. Self confidence to most people is the ability to feel at ease in most situations but low self confidence in many areas may be due to a lack of self esteem. Low self esteem takes a more subtle form that low self confidence. So if you are tired of feeling not good enough, afraid of moving towards your desires and goals, feel that no matter what you do it is just never good enough, then your self esteem could do with a boost.
Every day we make decisions based on our level of self-esteem. We also exhibit that level of self esteem to those around us through our behaviour. 90% of all communication is non-verbal - it is not what you say but ho you say it that matters! Your body language, tonality and facial gestures can all tell a completely different story to your words. It is our behaviour which influences others and people react to us by reading our non-verbal communications. Have you ever met someone you just didn't like although on the surface they seemed polite and courteous, or you met someone who seemed to speak confidently yet you knew they were really frightened underneath and just displaying bravado?
Parental and peer influences play a major part in moulding our level of self-esteem when we are children and in our early years of adolescence. The opinions of the people closest to us and how they reacted to us as individuals or part of the group was a dominant factor in the processes involved in forming our self esteem.
As adults we tend to perpetuate these beliefs about ourselves and in the vast majority of cases they are ridiculously erroneous. It is time to re-evaluate our opinion of ourselves and come to some new conclusions about these old belief patterns.
Ask yourself some serious question:
Is your long-held view about yourself accurate? Do we respect the sources from which we derived these beliefs? Most of the negative feedback we bought into as we were growing up actually came from people we have little or no respect for and as adults we would probably laugh their comments away! Yet the damage to your self esteem was done when you were very young and you still carry it with you to this day.
Is it possible that even those people you respected, who influenced your self-worth, were wrong? Perhaps they had low self esteem also.
As adults we have the opportunity to reshape our self-esteem. Try to judge accurately the feedback you receive from people you respect. This process will allow you to deepen your understanding of yourself and expand your self-image. It will also show you were you actually need to change things about yourself and were you don't. Many people are striving to better themselves in areas where they are just fine or actually excelling and it is only because they have an inaccurate picture of themselves in their minds due to low self esteem!
Setting small goals and achieving them will greatly boost your self-esteem. Identify your real weakness and strengths and begin a training program to better your inter-personal or professional skills. This will support you in your future big life goals and boost your self-esteem and self confidence to high levels you didn't existed!
Learn to recognise what makes you feel good about yourself and do more of it. Everyone has certain things that they do which makes them feel worthwhile but people with low self esteem tend to belittle these feelings or ignore them.
Take inventory of all the things that you have already accomplished in your life no matter how small they may seem. Recognise that you have made achievements in your life and remember all the positive things that you have done for yourself and others. Take a note of your failures and don't make excuses like "I'm just not good enough" or "I just knew that would happen to me", analyse the situation and prepare yourself better for the next time. If someone else created success, regardless of the obstacles, then you are capable of doing the same! Remember everyone has different strengths and weakness so do not judge your own performance against that of another just use them as inspiration and know that what one human being has achieved so can another!
Surround yourself with people who respect you and want what is best for you - people who are honest about your strengths and will help you work through your weakness. Give the same level of support to them!
Avoid people who continually undermine you or make you feel small. These people are just displaying very low self esteem. As your own self esteem grows you will find that you are no longer intimidated by another's self confidence or success and you can actually be joyful for them! Do things you love to do and that make you happy. A truly happy person never has low self esteem they are too busy enjoying life! By getting busy living your life with passion and joy you will not be able to be self-consciousness.
If you find yourself feeling self-conscious in any situation focus on the fact that others can tell and many of them will be feeling the same. Be honest. People respond to someone better if they openly say "To tell you the truth I'm a bit nervous" rather than displaying bravo or fake confidence that they can see right through. Their reactions to you, will show your mind at a deep level, that there was actually nothing to be frightened of and everything is great. If someone reacts to this negatively they are just displaying low self esteem and very quickly you will find others noticing this! Really listen to people when they talk to you instead of running through all the negative things that could happen in your head or focusing on your lack of confidence. People respond to someone who is truly with them in the moment..
Breath deeply and slow down. Don't rush to do things.
Stop the negative talk! 'I'm no good at that' or "I couldn't possibly do that" are affirmations that support your lack of self esteem. Instead say "I have never done that before but I am willing to try" or "how best can I do that?". Which leads us to the last point - the quality of the questions you ask yourself s very important.
When you ask a question it almost always has a preposition in it. For example, "How did I mess that up?" presumes that something was messed up, a better way of phrasing the question would be "what way can I fix this quickly?", as this presumes you can and will fix it. Or "How am I ever going to reach my goal?" could be rephrased as "what way will lead me to my goal quicker" presumes that you are going to reach your goal! Get the picture? Change the quality of your questions and your results will change!
Practise these techniques and watch your self esteem rise day by day. personal development

Anonymous said...

A typical dictionary definition of hypnosis states that it is: a state that resembles sleep but that is induced by suggestion. However, anyone who has tried hypnosis (and any self respecting hypnotist) will tell you that this is a very simplistic view of the subject!
A much better description comes from the Free Online Dictionary which states that hypnosis is: an artificially induced state of consciousness, characterised by heightened suggestibility and receptivity to direction. So what does this mean and how can it be used to your advantage?
Well, the subject of hypnosis has been discussed and pondered since the late 1700s. Many explanations and theories have come and gone though science, however, has yet to supply a valid and well-established definition of how it actually happens. It's fairly unlikely that the scientific community will arrive at a definitive explanation for hypnosis in the near future either, as the untapped resources of our 'mostly' uncharted mind still remain something of a mystery.
However, the general characteristics of hypnosis are well documented. It is a trance state characterized by extreme suggestibility, deep relaxation and heightened imaginative functioning. It's not really like sleep at all, because the subject is alert the whole time. It is most often compared to daydreaming, or the feeling you get when you watch a movie or read a captivating book. You are fully conscious, but you tune out most of the outside world. Your focus is concentrated intensely on the mental processes you are experiencing - if movies didn't provide such disassociation with everyday life and put a person in a very receptive state then they would not be as popular (nor would TV advertising be as effective!). Have you ever stated that a film wasn't great because you just couldn't 'get into it'???
This works very simply; while daydream or watching a movie, an imaginary world becomes almost real to you because it fully engages your emotional responses. Such mental pursuits will on most occasions cause real emotional responses such as fear, sadness or happiness (have you ever cried at a sad movie, felt excited by a future event not yet taken place or shivered at the thought of your worst fear?).
It is widely accepted that these states are all forms of self-hypnosis. If you take this view you can easily see that you go into and out of mild hypnotic states on a daily basis - when driving home from work, washing the dishes, or even listening to a boring conversation. Although these situations produce a mental state that is very receptive to suggestion the most powerful time for self-change occurs in the trance state brought on by intentional relaxation and focusing exercises. This deep hypnosis is often compared to the relaxed mental state between wakefulness and sleep.
In this mental state, people feel uninhibited and relaxed and they release all worries and doubts that normally occupy their mind. A similar experience occurs while you are daydreaming or watching the TV. You become so involved in the onscreen antics that worries and everyday cares fade away, until all you're focused on is the TV. In this state, you are also highly suggestible. That is why when a hypnotist tells you do something under trance; you'll probably embrace the idea completely. However, your sense of safety and morality remain entrenched throughout the experience and should either of these be threatened you immediately wake!
A hypnotist can not get you to do anything you don't want to do.
So while in such a state, when we are highly suggestible and open to new beliefs, a skillful hypnotist, whether in person or via a recording, can alter life-long behaviours and even give us new ones! self hypnosis

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