Janis-1-Sheet-final-with-bleed_1.jpg.500x715_q85_crop-smartYou sit and sing in darkened rooms
Your song fills the air with increasing gloom
It’s sad, so sad to be alone

–Janis Joplin, lyrics for “So Sad to be Alone”

Janis: Little Girl Blue is so much more than another telling of the tragic story of Janis Joplin. With her new documentary, director Amy Berg presents a sad fable about the loneliness of fame. Janis: Little Girl Blue examines the difficulty in reconciling one’s past life with a new one and the fractures in identity that can tear a person apart. Beyond the heroin addiction and skyrocketing to fame, Joplin had difficulty at home. She couldn’t get out of Port Arthur, Texas fast enough to settle into San Francisco with the Haight-Ashbury freaks who genuinely brought her comfort.

Everyone from former musicians, Joplin’s younger siblings and famous people who knew her — like Clive Davis, Dick Cavett and Kris Kristofferson — speak in new interviews reflecting on Joplin, 45 years after her death. But Berg hardly lingers on the talking heads. Instead, she mostly fills the film with Joplin’s voice using vintage imagery. Beyond concert footage and television interviews, Berg and a team of four editors compile sequences that include passing glances at Joplin’s scrapbook and personal photographs, often featuring early recordings by the singer on the soundtrack. On an even further intimate level, Joplin’s longing to impress her mother is made palpable via letters read by Cat Power’s Chan Marshall. There’s even use of Joplin’s diary where she admits casual and important relationships with people of both sexes but also the personal pain she felt being bullied in high school, something she never seemed to overcome.

But the film is much more than an exposé on the personal life of Joplin. Berg presents a multi-dimensional portrait of the singer and never shies away from inconsistencies. As a performer, Joplin genuinely appreciated the feeling of playing live. In a television interview, Joplin never shies away about talking about the importance of music in her life on an astral level, even as her band mates in Big Brother and the Holding Company crack inane jokes about their roles in the band. Joplin was a strong woman who enjoyed the company of men. In footage from The Festival Express, she boisterously holds her own surrounded by men, as Marshall’s voice reads Joplin’s words explaining her comfort among men.

Most of all, Berg emphasizes the music. The presence of Joplin’s music saturates the film, be it in the background of narrative storytelling or long pauses from the story for a bit of Joplin performing live. There are snatches of her lyrics, on the film’s soundtrack or even read and referenced aloud, that speak abstractly of her ambivalence with fame and relationships. Although there are many sides demonstrated in Janis: Little Girl Blue, none seem more genuine than the person who comes out in the lyrics. Berg’s emphasis on the music is not just required because her subject is a musician, it’s necessary because it is the truest representation of Joplin, a troubled figure in search of a genuine way to express herself and be heard.

Janis Joplin

Ironically, by focusing on the music as much as she does, Berg adds an extra poignancy to Joplin’s troubles and talent. The layers of story in sound and image is profound throughout this documentary. It makes up for the only misstep in Berg’s reach for imagery to illustrate Joplin’s life: a recurring sequence featuring vintage 16mm footage of train tracks that break up the film’s narrative. It might imply a journey or — hopefully not — a heavy-handed allusion to Joplin as a personal train wreck. Either way, the heavy-handed reach for metaphor feels superfluous, considering the density of the narrative in much of the well-researched footage and music that tells Joplin’s story.

The film rises to another level when Berg presents footage of Joplin being interviewed by a reporter at her 10th anniversary high school reunion, after she had become a star. Confronted by questions about her memories of high school, Joplin proves evasive. With all the context provided earlier in the film it makes for a startling statement on how useless success had become in healing Joplin’s wounds. She isn’t being evasive to be smart or egotistical — the rock star swagger of the unknowable pop idol. She’s refusing to answer the reporter’s questions to keep from bursting into tears. She’s keeping the pain of her past at bay. Even after becoming a pop star — something she thought would help heal her wounds — she is still mortally attached to the pain that fuels her creativity. What she thought would become a triumphant return home becomes something utterly devastating.

Janis: Little Girl Blue becomes something more than a documentary reflecting on a pop culture personality. It digs deep into the role of personal experiences and how tightly wound the tentacles of the past can wind around creativity. Despite a terrible drug problem, which John Lennon gets the last word on during the end credits, the documentary posits a complicated mix of issues that defined Joplin and led to her fate. Ultimately, Joplin’s art is vitally drawn as something that was bound with her persona. It can be a combustible mix that proves fame is not a solution for pain.

Hans Morgenstern

Janis: Little Girl Blue runs 103 minutes and is not rated (Janis lived that free-spirited life … and paid for it). It opens in our Miami area this Friday, Dec. 4, at the Coral Gables Art Cinema and AMC Sunset Place; further north, in Broward County, it opens at the Cinema Paradiso Fort Lauderdale. It continues its run theatrically in South Florida on Dec. 18 at O Cinema Miami Shores.  For dates in other cities and Europe, visit this link. The film had its Florida premiere last month at The Key West Film Festival, where it won the audience award. The black and white image above was taken April 5, 1969 and is courtesy of the Evening Standard/Getty Images. The Coral Gables Art Cinema provided a screener link for the purpose of this review.

(Copyright 2015 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

crispin-glover_kmaer_9028On the surface, the filmmaker Crispin Hellion Glover (a.k.a. Crispin Glover the actor of Back to the Future and Charlie’s Angels) might seem obsessed with freaks. But after receiving his 5,000-word-plus answer to a few questions I sent him via email, it is apparent that his seeming obsession is … a little more. Referring to his two films in his in-progress “It” trilogy, What Is It? (2005) and It is fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE (2007), Glover wrote, “I would say the films do not break rules, but it is true that many people are used to a certain amount of standards of cinematic syntax that are offered by most corporately-funded and distributed films. They are also used to a certain kind of fare offered by corporately-funded and distributed cinema that does not go beyond the realm of this, which can be considered good and evil or, in another word, taboo.”

He sounds like a fellow totally up the Independent Ethos’ alley.

It’s extremely rare that I’m not granted a preview of a film before talking to a filmmaker. Actually, this is a first. it seems Glover is very controlling over his films. First of all, his movies are only available on 35mm, and Glover is always present when they are presented, plus, I am told, he does not grant press comp tickets. So I had to really on a press kit to get some idea of what these films are about. For his second film in the trilogy, the film’s synopsis goes thusly…

It Is Fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE goes into uncharted cinematic territory with screenwriter Steven C. Stewart starring in this semi-autobiographical, psycho-sexual, tale about a man with severe cerebral palsy and a fetish for girls with long hair. Part horror film, part exploitation picture and part documentary of a man who cannot express his sexuality in the way he desires, (due to his physical condition), this fantastical and often humorous tale is told completely from Stewart’s actual point of view — that of someone who has lived for years watching people do things he will never be able to do. Here, Stewart’s character is something of a lady killer, seducing a troubled, recently divorced mother (Margit Carstensen), her teenage daughter and any number of other ladies he encounters along the way.

“Ever since I read the screenplay in 1987 I knew I had to produce the film,” said Glover about what attracted him to Stewart’s story.

Stewart also plays a role in Glover’s directorial feature debut, What Is It? That film’s synopsis is described as:

Known for creating many memorable, incredibly quirky characters onscreen as an actor, Glover’s first effort as a director will not disappoint fans of his offbeat sensibilities and eccentric taste. Featuring a cast largely comprised of actors with Down’s Syndrome, the film is not about Down’s Syndrome. Glover describes it as “Being the adventures of a young man whose principal interests are snails, salt, a pipe and how to get home as tormented by an hubristic racist inner psyche.”

Glover writes about these movies with passion. However, some think they are performance pieces that should be looked at as suspect (here’s one not entirely positive reaction to his first film). I agree that it should be taken with a grain of salt, but the effort isn’t entirely vacuous. I later learned his 5,000 word response to my email questions was not exactly exclusive, as he pulls from a document he has written over the years to answer common questions. However, that document is a mere 1600 words, according to this article from Flavorwire, so I think I got some quality answers from the filmmaker who swears he does not do this to undermine journalists but help them out with the arduous transcribing process (and ask any of us, transcribing sucks). This article from San Diego City Beat clarifies Glover’s intentions.

That said, I’ve decided to share the entirety of Glover’s responses, unedited in the rest of this post. He is in South Florida this Sunday and Monday at Fort Lauderdale’s Cinema Paradiso to screen the movie’s as well as host “Crispin  the Cinema. First off, for a short version of this article, check out the Miami Herald, which published my original article based on the interview (jump through the image below):


And here, the moment you have been waiting to pour through, Crispin Hellion Glover. Besides getting into detail about his two films and his “big slideshow,” he touches on David Lynch, the flicker of 35mm and his father, actor Bruce Glover, who will star in his as yet untitled next film:

Hi Hans, 
Thank you for the excellent questions! Below are the responses. If you can put a link in the article to CrispinGlover.com it is the best way for people to get more information about the shows and films and where I will be as I continue to tour. All high resolution images are available on the site including a photograph of myself from “What is it?”.
I look forward to reading the article. Please come up and say hello at the show!
Glad to see South Florida will finally see your show here and for two nights at that. Thank you for coming. 
I am looking forward to it.
Have you been to this area before? If so what are your impressions? If not, do you have any expectations?
I have toured with my shows and films in Orlando, Jacksonville, Gainesville before and had a terrific time. I look forward to coming back to Florida.
From what I’ve read, it sounds like your films break the rules of what many expect from cinema. What are the limits of a conventional narrative?
I would say the films do not break rules, but it is true that many people are used to a certain amount of standers cinematic syntax that are offered by most corporately funded and distributed films. They are also used to a certain kind of fare offered by corporately funded and distributed cinema that does not go beyond the realm of this which can be considered good and evil on in another word taboo. The taboo in the films can often be seen be the divisiveness of laughter in the audience.
Laughter is not necessarily an indication of what is standardly called comedy. Laughter can also be classified as a civilized growl. This civilized growl can in a civilized fashion with the use of laughter castigate the sick or the foolish ones or the foolish part of oneself is what laughter actually indicates. People think of laughter as something that brings people together. It does. It brings people together against something else.
This is why laughter is an excellent indicator of taboo in both “What is it?” and “It is fine. EVERYTHING IS FINE.” If someone is laughing at one end of the row of seats someone may look down that row of seats and at he person who is laughing and think to themselves “What is wrong with that person?” This is because many areas of both films exist in the in between plane of that which is considered funny one person and decidedly not funny by the next person. It is smallitisfineposterweba big reason why I continue to tour with the films in a group situation. Group situations can illustrate very clearly by means of laughter what is taboo. This sort of unsettled audience reaction happens quite a lot in both films. This is something that I was quite aware would happen when making both the films and the fact that is happens is a satisfying experience for me as a filmmaker. This is true even if I know some elements are bound to be misunderstood by some, I also know many we have a visceral educational illustration of a portion of how propaganda has direct affect on human moral conditioning. Taboo is the grey area that is not clearly defined by the moral codes within the culture and it makes for fascinating group discomfort when properly applied, which then can be interpreted in an educational fashion.
I have had some people believe “It is fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE.” would fit in to the genre of “psychological terror” but I would call it a drama with humor. Also even though this film is definitely not a documentary it does document this main actor/writer living out his fantasy that he wrote for himself to portray.
To me all good drama has humor in it and that is how I would classify What is it? is as a drama with humor. I would never call it a comedy though.
If What is it? is to be classified for various reasons then it is classified as a narrative film. The more broad classification of drama, and a drama that has humor sits well with me. The kind of narrative that it is uses a cinematic syntax that has been used before by various filmmakers and it is not a new syntax, but it is not the same syntax that is usually used by corporately funded and distributed filmmakers. Buñuel is definitely a filmmaker that had influence on What is it?  Formally he was a “Surrealist” with a capital “S”. The Surrealists being a “political” group as Buñuel described it in his beautiful autobiography ‘My Last Sigh”. Now “surrealism” with a small “s” has come to mean something to do with art, and to me the most valuable thing I know about the surrealism is using free association to get the subconscious levels for artistic expression. That element of surrealism is extremely valuable!
I am not genre biased in any way and if there is something that truly interests me I would not veer away from any genre. That being said I currently do not have a plan to write or direct a romantic musical comedy, but that does not mean I would not. To me all good drama has humor in it and that is how I would classify What is it? Is as a drama with humor. I would never call it a comedy though.
People should not view the film any differently from when they go see a film at a multiplex, although their experience might be different from going to the multiplex.  I do not classify “It is fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE.” as experimental or underground. I simply consider it a drama. Although it is a drama with humor as any good drama should be.
Also, I see it’s important for you to present in 35mm. I love that. I think the light has a more mystical effect on the viewer’s consciousness above digital. Why do you prefer that format? 
I am not against digital for certain applications.
For anyone that has grown up with the grain pattern of film  it would seem to have a favorable aesthetic above the pixel of digital particularly for anything that represents and older time period.
Also the slight flutter of light from the shutter of a film camera adds to the hypnotic effect of film as does the slight movement of the film running through the gate of the camera.
It also seems essential that you make personal appearances with your work. Why is it important?
The live aspects of the shows are not to be underestimated. This is a large part of how I bring audiences in to the theater and a majority of how I recoup is by what is charged for the live show and what I make from selling the books after the shows.
For “Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show” I perform a one hour dramatic narration of eight different books I have made over the years. The books are taken from old books from the 1800’s that have been changed in to different books from what they originally were. They are heavily illustrated with original drawings and reworked images and photographs.
I started making my books in 1983 for my own enjoyment without the concept of publishing them. I had always written and drawn and the books came as an accidental outgrowth of that. I was in an acting class in 1982 and down the block was an art gallery that had a book store upstairs. In the book store there was a book for sale that was an old binding taken from the 1800’s and someone had put their art work inside the binding. I thought this was a good idea and set out to do the same thing. I worked a lot with India ink at the time and was using the India ink on the original pages to make various art. I had always liked words in WhatIsItpostertwoart and left some of the words on one of the pages. I did this again a few pages later and then when I turned the pages I noticed that a story started to naturally form and so I continued with this. When I was finished with the book I was pleased with the results and kept making more of them. I made most of the books in the 80’s and very early 90’s. Some of the books utilize text from the binding it was taken from and some of them are basically completely original text. Sometimes I would find images that I was inspired to create stories for or sometimes it was the binding or sometimes it was portions of the texts that were interesting. Altogether, I made about twenty of them. When I was editing my first feature film “What is it?” There was a reminiscent quality to the way I worked with the books because as I was expanding the film in to a feature from what was originally going to be a short, I was taking film material that I had shot for a different purpose originally and re-purposed it for a different idea and I was writing and shooting and ultimately editing at the same time. Somehow I was comfortable with this because of similar experiences with making my books.
Every once in a while, but really very rarely, someone will come up to me during the book signing I think two times in the nine years I have been touring, and they have shown me a book they have done something similar with. They described to me that they came in to it on their own. It seems to be a specific art form that rarely people will just discover doing on their own.
When I first started publishing the books in 1988 people said I should have book readings. But the book are so heavily illustrated and they way the illustrations are used within the books they help to tell the story so the only way for the books to make sense was to have visually representations of the images. This is why I knew a slide show was necessary. It took a while but in 1992 I started performing what I now call Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Side Show Part 1. The content of that show has not changed since I first started performing it. But the performance of the show has become more dramatic as opposed to more of a reading. The books do not change but the performance of the show of course varies slightly from show to show based the audience’s energy and my energy.
People sometimes get confused as to what “Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show (Parts 1&2)” is so now I always let it be known that it is a one hour dramatic narration of eight different profusely illustrated books that I have made over the years. The illustrations from the books are projected behind me as I perform the show. There is a second slide show now that also has 8 books. Part 2 is performed if I have a show with Part 1 of the “IT” trilogy and then on the WriterDirector2twosubsequent night I will perform the second slide show and Part 2 of the “IT” trilogy. The second slide show has been developed over the last several years and the content has changed as it has been developed, but I am very happy with the content of the second slide show now.
The books and films are all narrative. Sometimes people see thematic correlations between the content of my books and the content of the films. 
The fact that I tour with the film helps the distribution element. I consider what I am doing to be following in the steps of vaudeville performers. Vaudeville was the main form of entertainment for most of the history of the US. It has only relatively recently stopped being the main source of entertainment, but that does not mean this live element mixed with other media is no longer viable. In fact it is apparent that it is sorely missed.
I definitely have been aware of the element of utilizing  the fact that I am known from work in the corporate media I have done in the last 25 years or so. This is something I rely on for when I go on tour with my films. It lets me go to various places and have the local media cover the fact that I will be performing a one hour live dramatic narration of eight different books which are profusely illustrated and projected as I go through them, then show the film either  What is it? Being 72 minutes or It is fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE being 74 minutes. Then having a Q and A and then a book signing. As I funded the films I knew that this is how I would recoup my investment even if it a slow process.
Volcanic Eruptions was a business I started in Los Angeles in 1988 as Crispin Hellion Glover doing business as Volcanic Eruptions. It was a name to use for my book publishing company.  About a year later I had a record/CD come out with a corporation called Restless Records. About when I had sold the same amount of books as CD/records had sold it was very clear to me that because I had published my own books that I had a far greater profit margin. It made me very suspicious of working with corporations as a business model. Financing/Producing my own films is based on the basic business model of my own publishing company. There are benefits and drawbacks about self distributing my own films.  In this economy it seems like a touring with the live show and showing the films with a book signing is a very good basic safety net for recouping the monies I have invested in the films.
There are other beneficial aspects of touring with the shows other than monetary elements. There are benefits that I am in control of the distribution and personally supervise the monetary intake of the films that I am touring with. I also control piracy in this way because digital copy of this film is stolen material and highly prosecutable. It is enjoyable to travel and visit places, meet people, perform the shows and have interaction with the audiences and discussions about the films afterwards. The forum after the show is also not to under-estimated as a very important part of the show for the audience. 
This also makes me much more personally grateful to the individuals who come to my shows as there is no corporate intermediary. The drawbacks are that a significant amount of time and energy to promote and travel and perform the shows. Also the amount of people seeing the films is much smaller than if I were to distribute the films in a more traditional sense. The way I distribute my films is certainly not traditional in the contemporary sense of film distribution but perhaps is very traditional when looking further back at vaudeville era film distribution. If there are any filmmakers that are able to utilize aspects of what I am doing then that is good. It has taken many years to organically develop what I am doing now as far as my distribution goes.
You must therefore be very familiar with your fans. How have any of them surprised you?
I am not generally surprised by anything people do at the shows.
What attracted you to Steven C. Stewart’s story?
What do you hope the audience takes away from it?
Steven C. Stewart wrote and is the main actor in part two of the trilogy titled It is fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE. I put Steve in to the cast of What is it? because he had written this screenplay which I read in 1987. When I turned What is it? from a short film in to a feature I realized there were certain thematic elements in the film that related to what Steven C. Stewart’s screenplay dealt with.  Steve had been locked in a nursing home for about ten years when his mother died. He had been born with a severe case of cerebral palsy and he was very difficult to understand. People that were caring for him in the nursing home would derisively call him an “M.R.” short for “Mental Retard”. This is not a nice thing to say to anyone, but Steve was of normal intelligence. When he did get out he wrote his screenplay. Although it is written in the genre of a murder detective thriller truths of his own existence come through much more clearly than if he hadfinal posterlarger written it as a standard autobiography. As I have stated, I put Steven C. Stewart in to What is it? When I turned What is it? in to a feature film. Originally What is it? Was going to be a short film to promote the concept to corporate film funding entities that working with a cast wherein most characters are played by actors with Down’s Syndrome. Steve had written his screenplay in in the late 1970’s. I read it in 1987 and as soon as I had read it I knew I had to produce the film. Steven C. Stewart died within a month after we finished shooting the film. Cerebral palsy is not generative but Steve was 62 when we shot the film. One of Steve’s lungs had collapsed because he had started choking on his own saliva and he got pneumonia. I specifically started funding my own films with the money I make from the films I act in when Steven C. Stewart’s lung collapsed in the year 2000 this was around the same time that the first Charlie’s Angels film was coming to me. I realized with the money I made from that film I could put straight in to the Steven C. Stewart film. That is exactly what happened. I finished acting in Charlie’s Angels and then went to Salt Lake City where Steven C. Stewart lived. I met with Steve and David Brothers with whom I co-directed the film. I went back to LA and acted in an lower budget film for about five weeks and David Brothers started building the sets. Then I went straight back to Salt Lake and we completed shooting the film within about six months in three separate smaller productions. Then Steve died within a month after we finished shooting. I am relieved to have gotten this film finally completed because ever since I read the screenplay in 1987 I knew I had to produce the film. Steven C. Stewart’s own true story was fascinating and then the beautiful story and the naïve including his fascination of women with long hair and the graphic violence and sexuality and the revealing truth of his psyche from the screenplay were all combined. There was a specific marriage proposal scene that was the scene I remember reading that made me say “I have to produce this film.”
I also knew I had to produce it correctly. I would not have felt right about myself if I had not gotten Steve’s film made, I would have felt that I had done something wrong and that I had actually done a bad thing if I had not gotten it made. So I am greatly relieved to have completed it especially since I am very pleased with how well the film has turned out. We shot It is fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE.  while I was still completing What it? And this is partly why What is it? took a long time to complete. I am very proud of the film as I am of What is it? I feel It is fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE. will probably be the best film I will have anything to do with in my entire career.  People who are interested in when I will be back should join up on the e mail list at CrispinGlover.com as they will be emailed with information as to where I will be where with whatever film I tour with. It is by far the best way to know how to see the films.

After Charlie’s Angels came out it did very well financially and was good for my acting career. I started getting better roles that also paid better and I could continue using that money to finance my films that I am so truly passionate about. I have been able to divorce myself from the content of the films that I act in and look at acting as a craft that I am helping other filmmakers to accomplish what it is that they want to do. Usually filmmakers have hired me because there is something they have felt would be interesting to accomplish with using me in their film and usually I can try to do something interesting as an actor. If for some reason the director is not truly interested in doing something that I personally find interesting with the character then I can console myself that with the money I am making to be in their production I can help to fund my own films that I am so truly passionate about. Usually though I feel as though I am able to get something across as an actor that I feel good about. It has worked out well.
style shop copy
Steve was a genuinely great guy! It is hard to define what my relationship with Steve is/was. During the approximate 15 years I knew Steve from 1986 to his death in 2001 I would communicate with him in spurts. He started writing me short e mails urging to make his film after we shot his portions of “What is it?” in 1996. He would write simple things like “When are we going to make the film before I kick the bucket?”
Steve was definitely gracious and had a genuinely rebellious sense of humor. If he had only had one of those qualities I probably would not have related to him as much, but the fact that he had both a sense of humor and a sense of rebellion made it so I could very much relate to him.
I personally financed the film and had taken out no insurance if Steve were to die. Steve was a strong person and I knew that he has an inner need to get this story out. He had already stayed alive by getting an operation to get this film made and I knew he would stay alive no matter what to get the film completed.
About a month after we finished shooting I got a telephone call one morning and it became apparent that Steve was in the hospital with a collapsed lung again and that he was basically asking permission to take himself off life support and he wanted to know if we had enough footage to finish the film. I know that if I had said “No Steve. We do not have enough footage. You need to get better and we have to finish the film” He would have gotten whatever operation needed to get better and been happy to come back to the set and shoot. As it was we did have enough footage and it was a sad day and heavy responsibility to let him know that we would be able to complete the film.
In retrospect Steven C. Stewart was a great communicator. Steve has had great positive influence on my life and as much as I did like and enjoy Steve when he was alive, I realize even more how much he was important to me. It may sound sappy, but if Steve were here today I would be very happy to tell him how much he ultimately positively has affected my life.
I see your father is in your latest film and your next film. What is it like to direct him?
I have now started shooting my next feature at my property in Czech. The crew and cast stayed at my chateau in Czech.
I will be preview from my next feature film which marks the first time I have acted with my father Bruce Glover who has been seen in such films as Diamonds are Forever, Chinatown and Ghost World. bruce This is my first film to have been shot with 35 mm negative.  My first two features were shot with standard 16mm film then blown up for a 35 mm negative from a digital intermediate.
There are great things about digital technology. I love the grain pattern of film and this is also why I enjoy 16mm as well as 35mm. So far my feature film projects have been shot on film.
This is my third feature film production. This will not be “IT IS MINE.” Nor will it have anything to do with the “IT” trilogy. It is not part 3 of the “IT” trilogy.
I have owned a chateau in the Czech Republic for many years now and it has been in a state of work to get both the chateau ready for housing the crew members and cast when I am shooting my own productions and the 17,000 square feet of former horse stables that are now the areas for the shooting stages where the sets have been built.
There has been an enormous amount of work here. When people hear I am coming to my chateau they always say “Have a great time!” as though I am going on vacation. But I actually have way more difficult work here than at my house in LA. In the last two years I have been at my property in Czech more than LA, but also on the road with my shows and films or acting in other people’s films, more than either of my homes.
I should not go in to too much detail for part 3 of the “It” trilogy yet as “IT IS MINE.” will not be the film I shoot next. There are other projects outside of the trilogy that I will shoot next. The Czech Republic is where I own a chateau built in the 1600‘s. I have converted its former horse stables in to film shooting stages. Czech is another culture and another language and I need to build up to complex productions like “What is it?” and the existing sequel “It is fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE.” “IT IS MINE.” is an even more complex project than the previous two films put together, so it will be a while yet for that production. I will step outside of the trilogy for a number of films that deal with different thematic elements from the “IT” trilogy.
The sets for my next film productions were in construction for over two years now. At the same time the sets were being built I was in the process of continuing to develop the screenplay for myself and my father to act in together on these sets. My father, Bruce Glover, is also an actor who has appeared in such films as “Chinatown” and “Diamonds Are Forever” and he and I have not yet acted together on film. The project with my father is the next film I am currently preparing to make as a director/producer. This will be the first role I have written for myself to act that will be written primarily as an acting role, as opposed to a role that was written for the character I play to merely serve the structure. But even still on some level I am writing the screenplay to be something that I can afford to make. There are two other projects I am currently developing to shoot on sets at my property in the Czech Republic. These films will be relatively affordable by utilizing the basic set structures that can be slightly re-worked for variations and yet each film will feel separate from one another in look and style yet still cinematically pleasing so they will be worth to project in various cinemas. 
Where does the Hellion part of your name come from?
My father Bruce Glover is an actor. In fact he is in Part two of the trilogy It is fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE! People may know him from such films as Diamonds are Forever, Chinatown and the original Walking Tall series.  His middle name is Herbert. He never liked his middle name Herbert. So as a young struggling actor in New York he would say to himself “I am Bruce H. Glover, Bruce Hellion Glover. I am a hellion a troublemaker.” And that would make him feel good. HeDicussion told my mother this was his real middle name. When they were married she saw him writing on the marriage certificate Bruce Herbert Glover and she thought “Who am I marrying?” They gave Hellion to me as my real middle name. I had always written and drawn as a child and I would always sign my drawing and writing with my whole name Crispin Hellion Glover. When I started acting professionally at 13 which was something I had decided on my own I could do as a profession at a relatively young age it became apparent that I had to choose a professional acting name for SAG. I thought my whole name was too long for acting and just used my first and last name. When I started publishing my books I simply continued using the name I had always used for writing and drawing. This is also why I use my whole name for my films.
I had a friend who played in a marvelous punk band in Argentina with a singer with Down’s Syndrome. Still, people have biases when they see performers with Down’s Syndrome. Why did you decide to cast your first film with actors who have Down’s?
I am very careful to make it quite clear that “What is it?” is not a film about Down’s Syndrome but my psychological reaction to the corporate restraints that have happened in the last 20 to 30 years in film making. Specifically anything that can possibly make an audience uncomfortable is necessarily excised or the film will not be corporately funded or distributed. This is damaging to the culture because it is the very moment when an audience member sits back in their chair looks up at the screen and thinks to their self “Is this right what I am watching? Is this wrong what I am watching? Should I be here? Should the filmmaker have made this? What is it?” -and that is the title of the film. What is it that is taboo in the culture? What does it mean that taboo has been ubiquitously excised in this culture’s media? What does it mean to the culture when it does not properly process taboo in it’s media? It is a bad thing because when questions are not being asked because these kinds of questions are when people are having a truly educational experience. For the culture to not be able to ask questions leads towards a non educational experience and that is what is happening in this culture. This stupefies this culture and that is of course a bad thing. So What is it? Is a direct reaction to the contents this culture’s media. I would like people to think for themselves.
I loved you in Wild At Heart. David Lynch said he told you something terrible was going to happen to you if you let that glove go. Do you remember what you thought of?
It was more of an abstraction then something specific. David Lynch is of course a great director.
In what way — if any — did Lynch’s style inspire your way of directing?
When I was 16 and learned to drive in 1980 I went to see the midnight screening of “Eraserhead” at the Nuart Theater many times. It was a very important film to me and it is still my favorite David Lynch film although I always enjoy and appreciate his work. I am also very glad to have worked with him as an actor and he had said he would Executive produce what will eventually be part 3 of the IT trilogy “IT IS MINE.” But that film will still be a while from now before it is made. The fact that he has been kind to me when he is someone I admired from a long time before I met him is a very good thing. It means a lot to me. 

*  *  *

Hans Morgenstern

Crsipin Glover will appear at the Cinema Paradiso in Fort Lauderdale over the course of two days with his two films, It is fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE (tickets) and What Is It?(tickets) on Sunday, June 28, and Monday, June 29. The films are preceded by Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show, Parts 1 and 2 and followed by a Q&A session with the actor/director. He will also be present to sign copies of his books. For more info, visit’ Glover’s website: www.CrispinGlover.com. All images comes from his site and used by permission.

(Copyright 2015 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

goodbye-to-language-3d-posterAnyone who loves cinema — and I’m talking about visuals, sound and editing, with acting and narrative falling into fourth and fifth place — needs to see Jean-Luc Godard’s first 3D film, Goodbye to Language (Adieu au langage). The pioneer French New Wave filmmaker has long moved into a more subversive yet pure exploration of cinema. There is something about his movies that celebrate cinema while trying to tear it down. Though that dichotomy is always fun to watch, with 3D Godard finds a fresh level of experimentation that adds a new thrilling perspective that also does not stray too far from his thinking of cinema.

There simply has been nothing like Goodbye to Language in the movies, and some will be uncomfortable with it while others will delight in it. Those familiar with late-period Godard, like his last movie, Film Socialisme (my review: Godard’s ‘Film Socialisme’ and the entrancing “music” of visuals) will recognize a certain style. The quality of his visuals vary. There are diverse images like the hyper-color-saturated shots of flowers in nature and grainy black and white archival film and cheap, low-def video but also crystal clear HD images of an obscure drama following two couples who are almost doppelgängers of each other (or it could be a sense of Jungian synchronicity that makes us perceive them as one and not).


Godard’s synopsis of the film in the press kit is quite funny. He opens with “the idea is simple,” and continues:

a married woman and a single man meet
they love, they argue, fists fly
a dog strays between town and country
the seasons pass
the man and woman meet again
the dog finds itself between them
the other is in one
the one is in the other
and they are three
the former husband shatters everything
a second film begins
the same as the first
and yet not
from the human race we pass to metaphor
this ends in barking
and a baby’s cries

That is the basic story or, better put a taste of the sequence of events in Goodbye to Language, but the effect of these events and the connections between these “narrative elements” are so creative and loaded with so muchd48a139f-e443-4096-ac49-f41c7628cc59 meaning, it defies plot. Dostoevsky, Solzhenitsyn, Darwin, Sartre, among others, make appearances in quotes and Shelley even appears in the flesh (Jessica Erickson). But great thinkers are actually playing second fiddle here.

Beyond narrative and philosophy, there are the moments of 3D trickery, whether it highlights the pubic hair of an actress (Héloise Godet) or the snout of the director’s dog Roxy Miéville, it also plays with depth of field focus in ways that can feel dizzying, like a pylon’s view of a ferry gliding over the sea or Godard’s interest in floors that highlight their disappearance in an unseen horizon or looking into the depth of a flat mirror. But what most will notice is how he overlaps left and right images to create a super-imposition like no other in cinema. It happens on three occasions. Each time Godard finds a new way to make it relevant to his exploration of the medium as well as the action in the scene.


But it’s not that these visuals try to move a narrative forward as much as capture the experience of time and space overlapping as an experience while celebrating creation in cinema. His “narrative” is loaded with meaning and history while also destroying any of its relevance in existence. He covers all sorts of heavy topics: gender roles, Hitler, marketing, nature, literature, socialism, but demands the viewer to inform the topics. It’s an invitation to bring competence to a work of abstraction.

Of course his film is also dense in commentary. For instance, a man, Gédéon (Kamel Abdeli) claims to take the position of Rodin’s Thinker while sitting nude on a toilet taking a noisy dump. It’s a profound gesture but also humanizing in uniting him with his female lover, Josette (Godet) who is also naked and watches him as he shit/speaks. He thinks it puts them on the same level as human beings. d1095a57-21c3-466d-9aae-c40d0dee4780But, as a man of a certain era, Godard cannot help but raise the woman to a higher state. The naked woman, her back to the camera, is all clean, curved lines. He’s a scruffy, unshaven troll sitting below her. He is still the man shitting, while she possess the great forest where life comes from (an unseen narrator, perhaps Godard himself, mentions a Native American tribe that refers to the world as “the forest” as he trains the dual camera lens on her hairy pubic area).

Staying true to the notion in the title of the film that language is a weak symbol for truth or expressing reality, the unseen narrator captures the unknowable character of woman in another great line repeated in the film regarding women: “A woman can do no harm. She can annoy you or kill you. That’s all.” Two extremes with the mystery of woman caught in between. The film, is about dualities on many levels, in another wonderful moment Gédéon says, “The two greatest inventions: infinity and zero.” She counters: “sex and death.” This review could be five times longer in exploring the play of dualities, it’s lush with them. Godard is a naturist in the way he celebrates nudity in a mundane sense, and it’s great fun in 3D, but then there is also the way he treats nature itself with his dog roaming through it. These moments provide wondrous respite from all his intense experiments in 3D, whether it’s the face of Roxy or a camera wandering up the trunk of a tree.


Ultimately, with Goodbye to Language, you will feel something unequivocal in cinema. With the 3D medium, the master has once again found a new way to bring visuals to the forefront of the cinematic experience. Long frustrated with any idea of “truth” in cinema, Godard has gone on to make movies that expose the faults in the medium as far as storytelling but also raising them to a higher level. With Goodbye to Language he comes closer than ever to making the medium the message. He seeks to create a cognitive dissonance for anyone seeking some straight narrative informed by human history or current social concerns in an exhilarating way. Goodbye to Language is so much more than film or even experience for that matter. It is a portal meant to wake the mind out of a stupor numbed by expectation and trained by plot and narrative. It is awareness incarnate in image.

Hans Morgenstern

Goodbye to Language 3D runs 70 minutes, is in French with English subtitles and is not rated (there is violence, language and nudity).

Update: Broward County will now have a chance to experience this extraordinary movie. It opens December 19 at Cinema Paradiso – Fort Lauderdale.

It opened exclusively in South Florida this Friday, November 28 at the Miami Beach Cinematheque, which invited me to a preview screening for the purpose of this review. 

(Copyright 2014 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

This weekend will see a unique celebration unfold in South Florida to none other than Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno, the inventor of ambient music, world-renowned record producer and glittery prog-pop glam pioneer otherwise known as Brian Eno. I have covered Eno’s work on this blog in some depth over the years. One of my most consistently popular posts is an examination of Eno’s music in Peter Jackson’s underrated film the Lovely Bones (Brian Eno and ‘the Lovely Bones’) from back in 2010. I also posted an extensive interview with one of Eno’s more recent collaborators, the British poet Rick Holland (Eno collaborator/poet Rick Holland corresponds on craft – An Indie Ethos exclusive [Part 1 of 2]).

Now, some area South Florida musicians and Kramer, the man who founded Shimmy Disc, will perform a variety of Eno’s music at Fort Lauderdale’s Cinema Paradiso this weekend. They will also screen the 14 Video Paintings DVD on the big screen.

I had a chance to talk to some of the musicians involved in this project for a pretty in-depth preview piece for the “Broward/Palm Beach New Times” music blog “The County Grind.” Check out the details of who will cover what and more after the jump through the blog’s logo below:

(Copyright 2012 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

A film telling a story from the perspective of a schizophrenic personality makes for an interesting subject via the cinematic art form. It allows for wide-ranging amounts of mystery. But it can also be a harrowing experience, as one can never tell what lies around the corner from one scene to the next. Some film goers who prefer to know what is really happening might feel frustrated. You could even boil down the “action” from one frame to the next, as even the edits can be hard to trust in such a movie. I personally love to get lost in these kind of films, as they thrive on inherently unpredictable qualities.

There have been only a few such movies, but this year’s Take Shelter rises up among the best in recent times. Curtis (Michael Shannon) is growing more aware that either his sense of reality is falling apart or he has developed some sort of unique clairvoyance giving him visions of an impending epic storm. In a way, it recalls the original cut of 1999’s Donnie Darko. In that film, however, the imperfect mess in the story involving worm holes, a specter in a bunny suit that only the titular character (Jake Gyllenhaal) can see and hear coupled with an airplane crash that has yet to happen actually supported the notion that the protagonist may indeed be schizophrenic.*

Take Shelter is much more focused and character-driven. Despite some key awe-inducing scenes of special effects, the effects never overshadow the drama at the heart of the film. It also offers a brilliant “out” at the film’s conclusion that most will never see coming.

Curtis is the main bread-winner in a family of three living in a small Ohio town. He oversees a team of workers at what seems to be a rock quarry. The decision to not bother with the details of the job adds a nice layer of mystery. Beyond some conversation with his boss in an office, the viewer only sees Curtis at work with a co-worker, Dewart (Shea Whigham), using giant industrial equipment to drill into the ground, a dangerous job for a man in Curtis’ state. His wife Samantha (Jessica Chastain), in the meantime, occupies herself by putting her stitching skills to work, scraping together a few bucks for a trip to the beach. The couple have a deaf 6-year-old daughter Hannah (Tova Stewart) who is about to have surgery for an implanted hearing aid, thanks to Curtis’ health insurance from work. It is clear this family needs Curtis.

You follow Curtis as he gradually becomes aware of his hallucinations, which include visions of swelling storm clouds that no one else sees in the waking world. Meanwhile, his subconscious begins to feel more real to him during dreams that leave him with phantom pain all day long. When his dog bites him in a dream, he feels compelled to move the animal out of the house and fence him in the yard. He later admits to Samantha that he could feel the bite on his arm long after the dream had occurred.

As Curtis seems to unravel, something indeed feels at stake throughout the movie. No wonder he wants to resist his visions, despite wetting the bed and the fact his mother had to go into assisted living due to her own mental illness, which overtook her at around the same age as Curtis.

As the days go by, Curtis grows more concerned, while the visions and dreams grow more violent. To say more would be to spoil the experience of seeing the movie. First-time director Jeff Nichols does a brilliant thing to make viewers feel as though they are seeing these things as Curtis. He never preempts a “dream” sequence with a set up of Curtis going to sleep. This, in turn, allows the viewer to sympathize with the visions in the waking world that no one else but Curtis seems to notice.

It does not hurt that the film features sensitive and sincere performances by all involved. Chastain won the Hollywood Breakthrough Award as “Actress of the Year” at the 2011 Hollywood Film Festival for her presence in several great films this year, which have also included the Tree of Life, the Help and the Debt (Here’s a nice image gallery from “Rolling Stone” highlighting her roles in 2011). As a result, Shannon does not have the same star power, but he has already established he can bring the crazy out of his characters. He breathed some insane, creepy warmth to the otherwise cold and dull Revolutionary Road for which he wound up earning a best supporting actor Oscar® nod in 2008.

In an inspired bit of programming, it is worth noting that capping the screening week of Take Shelter locally at the Miami Beach Cinematheque, that same theater will host a one-night only screening of Shannon’s star turn in 2006’s Bug. That film also happened to deal with the gray world of perceived mental illness. It was a labor of love film by director William Friedkin, who saw Shannon in the stage play that he would adapt for the screen with the same title. It confounded critics, audiences and the studio’s marketing department. Who were these down-in-the-dumps, messed up people portrayed by Shannon and Ashley Judd, who take a mutual mental roller coaster trip into the depths of private hell, fearing their bodies were nothing but producers of tiny bugs? Where are the monstrous creatures? Do they even exist? This is a movie by the director of the Exorcist, after all. Critics were divided and most audiences hated it.

What was even stranger about Bug is the question whether so-called “body bugs” actually exist or is indeed a mental illness. A local news station (full disclosure: I work there), did a series of investigative reports on the phenomena (read the scripts to the stories by 7News’ senior reporter Patrick Fraser in Part 1 and Part 2). All that baggage aside, this film indeed walks that disquieting line of mental breakdown as related to paranoid schizophrenia in that inspired, ambiguous way that might be upsetting to some viewers and thrilling for others.

At the heart is a tight story involving the dynamics of three stellar actors who also include a mean Harry Connick Jr. Then there is the choice of some expressive lighting by Friedkin, who does know a thing or two about thrillers, be they horror (1973’s the Exorcist) or action (1971’s The French Connection). As an odd side note on Friedkin, he is also the director once in talks with Peter Gabriel of adapting a film version of the 1974 Genesis album, the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, about a New York street punk on a mythical journey of self-actualization via encounters with sex and death. Friedkin knows a mad experience, and he puts it on full intimate display in Bug.

Call me biased to these kinds of cryptic movies that both exploit the medium of cinema, defined by editing and special effects, playing tricks on the mind of a viewer, and offering a puzzle of a story that, by definition of its genre, can never offer pat conclusions. It celebrates both the inherent quality of the art of a movie and story.

Some of these movies wait until the end for a great big reveal that rationalizes the puzzle presented before it. It’s the easiest abuse of the schizophrenic character at the heart of such films, and movie goers looking for a true mystery might feel cheated. It’s akin to ending a story with “and then he woke up.” Some great directors have fallen back on this trope, like Martin Scorsese with Shutter Island and even David Cronenberg with Spider.

Though Spider did have an amazing mysterious mood throughout, Cronenberg would more powerfully capture the mood of schizophrenia with eXistenZ, though the film was about role-players or “gamers,” to use a more modern term, involved in fantasy worlds akin to taking on a persona in real-time games like World of Warcraft. However, in eXistenZ players tapped directly into a fleshy “game pod” with a plug that connects to a “port” implanted in the player’s spinal column and participated in games that only dealt in plots surrounding the creation of role-playing games that tap directly into a player’s spinal column, and on and on, from one alternate layer of existence to another, until reality becomes blurred and imperceptible. It is one of my all-time favorite movies, having the elements of a similar film that came out the same year, the Matrix, which I did not like at all. eXistenZ never tried to rationalize what was real with boring exposition that some might feel more satisfied or at peace with, as it explained what was reality and what was not. In my opinion, eXistenZ blew the Matrix out of the water as far as creating a true feeling of living in an alternate reality by never short-changing the mystery at the heart of the film, creating that sublime sense of helpless schizophrenia that is existence.

This year, you can also add one other movie along with Take Shelter that captures this similar theme: Martha Marcy May Marlene. I caught that movie at a multiplex only a few weeks ago. The film, also by a first-time feature director showing great promise (Sean Durkin), has had to rise above a stellar performance by the triple identity character within the title: Martha, Marcy May and Marlene, played by Elizabeth Olsen (the younger sister of the Olsen twins). While most everyone in the audience that day may have been drawn to the movie for the rising star at the center and the baggage her name carries, she compliments the film with a delicate performance that reveals her presence as but a cog in a twisted tale, told through a twisted knot of edits that continuously flashback to Martha’s life in a cult as Marcy May. She somehow escapes the cult, returning to the open arms of her sister (Sarah Paulson) and reclaiming her birth name Martha. However, she cannot seem to shake her past, which may or may not be catching up to her in real life. The film’s ambiguous ending did tremendous respect to this mixed up character. However, I was surrounded by a cantankerous crowd of people who thought the movie “terrible.” But I thought the director did the story a great, if risky, move, staying true to the feeling of helplessness of a person who cannot tell “reality”— whatever that is— from fantasy, imagination, hallucination, dreams, what have you.

To reveal the ending of Martha Marcy May Marlene would be to do the film an injustice. It comes as a surprise, as you certainly want resolution for the character, but it feels right, considering the confused character at the center of it. But even more tidy, if there can be a tidy schizoid movie, is Take Shelter. I refuse to be specific for fear of spoiling the film for viewers, and some might think this concluding statement reveals too much, so read this last bit only if you do not care if some of the magic of this movie is spoiled before experiencing it for yourself:  Some might say there is a big reveal at the end of the film, yet you cannot really trust where the filmmaker decides to place the final frame, as this is a story from the perspective of Curtis. It’s a nice (possibly) ambiguous ending.

Take Shelter is rated R, runs 120 min., and opens in South Florida Friday, Dec. 9, at 6:50 p.m. at the Miami Beach Cinematheque. It also opens that same day further north, in Broward County, at 9 p.m. and Cinema Paradiso in Fort Lauderdale. The Miami Beach Cinematheque has also programmed Bug (Rated R, 102 min.) for a one-night only screening during the theater’s on-going Cinephile’s Choice series, on Thursday, Dec. 15, at 8 p.m. MBC members get free admission to this special screening. All others will pay $10 ($9 for students and seniors).

Hans Morgenstern


*The director of Donnie Darko, Richard Kelly, would later extend the film in a “director’s cut” with less ambiguity, which even saw re-release in theaters, as a cult following had grown around the DVD because of the film’s mysterious elements.

(Copyright 2011 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)