Match Frame

Thoughts from an American editor and filmmaker in New Zealand about film and video production and post-production. Plus whatever else I feel like talking about.

Location: Balmoral, Auckland, New Zealand

A work in progress.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

let's just throw on a movie ...

...a 7 HOUR MOVIE.

I've heard about Bela Tarr's SATANTANGO repeatedly. It is in Hungarian, black and white, mostly in long shots, and, as you might have guessed, 7 hours. It is reputedly genius.

I've never seen it, but after a website knocked 70% or so off the price, I decided to order it a couple weeks ago, and it arrived on Monday.

But now I have to find seven adjacent hours to watch a movie. I've thought about watching it episodically, but I'm not one of those people who breaks up a movie. (Although the movie is broken up itself into three discs, and I'm reasonably sure it's never screened anywhere without an intermission, apparently despite the director's wishes.) I also rarely feel like I have seven hours in a row I can commit. And I've got, like, 2 1/2 seasons of THE WIRE to go, and things are heating up. (I'm on season 3, just finished ep 7.) Plus 470 hours or so of other programming to watch. Add a job, projects, etc., and, yeah.

But: it taunts me every time I look at it. The reputation of SATANTANGO precedes it as one of the most important films of the 1990's, a legend undoubtedly buttressed by its epic length and general unavailability.

A quick rundown of positive descriptors of SATANTANGO from the package: epic, unique, visionary, transcends genre, masterpiece, immaculately composed, brilliantly photographed, tour-de-force, enthralling, magnum opus, mesmerizing, masterpiece. (Yes, it appears twice.) And that's not counting the praise for Bela Tarr.

By contrast, a list of positive descriptors from another recent purchase, FRANKENFISH*: gut-wrenching terror, suspense all the way, new**, will have fans of films like LAKE PLACID and DEEP BLUE SEA hooked.

Incidentally, while I haven't seen the on-screen credits, only one of the films lists a credit for "a film by" on the box. And it ain't the Hungarian dude's one.

So what to watch now? Trick question: it's bedtime! I will now spend roughly as much time in bed as it would take me to watch SATANTANGO. Or FRANKENFISH, like, five times.

*It was at a Blockbuster close-out, and a friend had been singing its praises the night before. This also calls to me, but the idea of watching it alone and/or without lots of alcohol doesn't have much lure.

**Not necessarily a positive descriptor, but I'm reaching here.

Monday, February 18, 2008


I'm in the very early stages of planning a possible trip around the world. There are good reasons for me to be in America in July and Asia in August, so rather than making two trips from NZ, it would make sense to just continue on, stop by London in the middle and say hi to some friends.

One thing I am trying to figure out is how long the trip should be. I have heard that it is incredibly cheap to get around Laos, Cambodia et al once you get over there, and so I have the idea of spending a good chunk of time there to really get to know it. But there is (always!) some guilt in how I choose to spend my time, and the very valid question of what the hell I would do besides sight-see. Is that enough? On my own? dunno if I could sustain that for three months.

So I had the idea of volunteering some place. Sounds great! Go be useful for a month or two to somebody. As somebody who has consistently under-delivered in his intentions towards charity in his adult life, it sounded like a very very good idea.

Until I started reading about it and realized that it is, in fact, a very indulgent and ineffective way to help. If there's one thing that developing countries are in full supply of, generally, it's healthy labor. And me working for a week in NZ or the US and sending that week's earnings to said country would (presuming it was via a reliable disburser of funds) make more of a difference than me going there to work for a month.

The few skills that I have - video editing, Lotus Notes - are not particularly areas of need for most third world countries.

So, hmmmm. There are places that will place volunteers for a fee, but I suspect in most of these cases it's preying upon people's desires to feel as if they are doing good. Teaching English is about the only thing I could come up with that strikes me as helpful, but considering my painfully overcomplicated usage of the language, I'm not sure I'm the best candidate for being an English teacher.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

experimenting with tumbling

I don't know if this will take, but check this out.

At very least, it's a few cool links. Maybe I'll just do link posts here? Maybe I'll start a new job on Monday and neglect things for a couple months? Money on the latter but you never know ...

Monday, February 11, 2008

who it's okay to hate in America

I was looking at the political blogs today, and I stumbled across this interesting poll.

I don't think the results reflect reality so much as they reflect who people are willing to admit they are biased against. And taken that way, the poll says no group is more okay to discriminate against than ...


I'm a little stunned by that result, but I suppose I shouldn't be. I guess I've always been more of a believer in "country founded for freedom of belief" than "country founded as religious state" despite the various references to theism that permeate our national culture. (Swearing in on bibles, the pledge, etc.)

Relatedly: I hadn't realized McCain was 72. If that poll is remotely accurate, his problems just got bigger. (Not that he doesn't have enough to worry about after the latest round of primaries.)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

so behind I might as well be ahead.

So last time I wrote here I was in LA just having watched THERE WILL BE BLOOD. It's a month later now, and since then I've been to Oakland, back to Auckland, down to Wellington, over to Golden Bay, back to Auckland, down to Waitomo Caves, back to Auckland, up to the Bay of Islands and the Hokianga, back to Auckland, and then back to work.

Which is part of the reason I spent most of this weekend sitting around doing as little as possible, though not all of it.

Below is a picture of my entry into the very exciting Waitomo Caves on the Lost World Epic, a 7-hour quest.

Waitomo abseil

Once in, me, my friend Erik, a 25-year old British yachtie named Paul, and two guides scampered, swam, climbed up, jumped down, and generally made our way through the cave. It was awesome, and I pushed myself farther than I thought I could, particularly when I jumped 10 meters into a cave pool - this being after learning that if I jumped too far I'd smack myself against the far edge of the cave.

Anyway, near the end, my foolhardy self decided to put myself through a tighter squeeze than I probably should have, and ended up cracking a rib in order to get out. (I spent a week not knowing for sure what the problem was, then finally went to the doctor after about the 43rd person who confidently diagnosed it as one of a bajillion things. Doctor says it's broken, nothing I can do but wait for it to heal.)

So that was kind of dumb, but it was still an amazing experience.

There's probably other stories to tell from the last month, like about my month-long alcohol fast, but I'm sleepy, for some reason. Off to finish a trailer tomorrow morning, go to three shows this week (Explosions in the Sky, Interpol, and Dead C.) and then next week start a longer gig. Plus THERE WILL BE BLOOD opens in NZ on Thursday, and I'm all excited to see it again.

(A weird footnote: this is the first year in memory where a) I've seen all five of the Oscar nominees for Best Picture before the ceremony and b) I really like them all. ATONEMENT is probably my least favorite, but it's still got a lot going for it.)