Archive for January, 2014

January 26th 2014

Sunday, January 26th, 2014
January 26th 2014
Filmwise: I continue to collate notes for penning the 7th draft of the little girl in Baghdad story.
“Aha!”
“I am picking a plane,” declares the young woman. She is a pilot working for an aircraft dealership in Texas.
We are outside the arrivals terminal at LAX.
“With all of them DVDs and Blue Rays, I don’t know what to do with my my VHS tapes. They no longer make the VCR machines to play them tapes,” complains the middle-aged driver of our people carrier.
“They have to go to the trash can,” butts in the woman seated in the row ahead of me.
“But I spent all that time taping and collecting!”
As we get on the three-lane road to town, a phone rings. It belongs to the passenger seated next to the woman conversing with the driver. To my surprise, the passenger speaks Arabic with an accent that places his origins in my country of birth.
I can’t help overhear his conversation.
“Yes, I am in a shuttle car. It is totally free for anyone with a hotel booking in Los Angeles.”
Like me, the person at the other end of the line is not sure about this city-wide arrangement. I keep quiet, as the passenger’s telephone friend is certain to know more about transportation here than me.
“We’re getting close; the roads stops at the mountain,” the driver points to the hills above with the Hollywood sign.
At my compatriot’s hotel entrance, I am relieved that he has the money for the fare.
I spend the remainder of the day strolling the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The next morning, I take a couple of buses to Santa Monica. “This is a separate city to Los Angeles’, explains the well-dressed middle-aged man standing outside a newly refurbished cinema. I am disappointed to learn that the old small cinema has been turned into retail premises and apartments.
Santa Monica is undoubtedly a rich wo/man’s town. Its wide palm tree lined boulevards are overlooked by well-heeled apartment blocks, and its shopping areas are stocked with all the fashion brands I know and more.
I walk up and down the famous Santa Monica Pier.
With the sun rapidly setting, I ask the bus driver, which I should see today, Venice Beach or Malibu. “Malibu; it has more class,” she says, matter-of-fact like.
But we both agree that Venice is better for people watching.
The area does not disappoint.
The next day, I take the Paramount Studio tour. We stop by Alfred Hitchcock’s former office in the backlot, and pass by the very sound stage where they filmed Rear Window. We also see the sound stages for Top Hat, Sunset Boulevard, the Graduate, the Godfather Trilogy, and Saturday Night Fever. We halt by the water tank in which Charleston Heston parted the sea in the Ten Commandments. “When we’re not filming, we use it as a car park,” explains our guide.
For lunch, I chance upon a simple small roadside restaurant on Melrose Avenue, a couple of miles from Hollywood Boulevard. It is the best Mexican meal I have ever had.
I spend the rest of the day at the Los Angeles County Museum of Arts (LACMA).
For my final day, I have time to drop by at the American Cinematheque in Hollywood. Alas, my flight is too soon to allow for a film screening.
Before boarding the Metro for the airport, I have a quick coffee at an open air shopping centre, a few hundred feet from the Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. At the heart of the shopping area is a large five-storey high white gate. It features Babylonian carvings and decorations. It is a replica from the set of DW Griffiths’ 1916 epic Intolerance, the plaque explains.
Peace and love,
Ja’far
Filmwise: I continue to collate notes for penning the 7th draft of the little girl in Baghdad story.
Tapes…
“I am picking a plane,” declares the young woman standing next to me. She is a pilot working for an aircraft dealership in Texas.
We are outside the arrivals terminal at LAX.
“With all of them DVDs and Blue Rays, I don’t know what to do with my my VHS tapes. They no longer make the VCR machines to play them tapes,” complains the middle-aged driver of our people carrier.
“They have to go to the trash can,” butts in the woman seated in the row ahead of me.
“But I spent all that time taping and collecting!”
As we get on the three-lane road to town, a phone rings. It belongs to the passenger seated next to the woman conversing with the driver. To my surprise, the passenger speaks Arabic with an accent that places his origins in my country of birth.
I can’t help overhear his conversation.
“Yes, I am in a shuttle car. It is totally free for anyone with a hotel booking in Los Angeles.”
Like me, the person at the other end of the line is not sure about this city-wide arrangement. I keep quiet, as the passenger’s telephone friend is certain to know more about transportation here than me.
“We’re getting close; the road stops at the mountain,” the driver points to the hills above with the Hollywood sign.
At my compatriot’s hotel entrance, I am relieved that he has the money for the fare.
I spend the remainder of the day strolling the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The next morning, I take a couple of buses to Santa Monica. “This is a separate city to Los Angeles’, explains the well-dressed middle-aged man standing outside a newly refurbished cinema. I am disappointed to learn that the old small cinema has been turned into retail premises and apartments.
Santa Monica is undoubtedly a rich wo/man’s town. Its wide palm tree lined boulevards are overlooked by well-heeled apartment blocks, and its shopping areas are stocked with all the fashion brands I know and more.
I walk up and down the famous Santa Monica Pier.
With the sun rapidly setting, I ask the bus driver, which I should see today, Venice Beach or Malibu. “Malibu; it has more class,” she says, matter-of-fact like.
But we both agree that Venice is better for people watching.
The area does not disappoint.
The next day, I take the Paramount Studio tour. We stop by Alfred Hitchcock’s former office in the backlot, and pass by the very sound stage where they filmed Rear Window. We also see the sound stages for Top Hat, Sunset Boulevard, the Graduate, the Godfather Trilogy, and Saturday Night Fever. We marvel at the  water tank in which Charleston Heston parted the sea in the Ten Commandments. “When we’re not filming, we use it as a car park,” explains our guide.
For lunch, I chance upon a simple roadside restaurant on Melrose Avenue, a couple of miles from Hollywood Boulevard. It is the best Mexican meal I have ever had.
I spend the rest of the day at the Los Angeles County Museum of Arts (LACMA).
For my final day, I have time to drop by at the American Cinematheque in Hollywood. Alas, my flight is too soon to allow for a film screening.
Before boarding the Metro for the airport, I have a quick coffee at an open air shopping centre, a few hundred feet from the Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. At the heart of the shopping area is a large five-storey high white gate. It features Babylonian carvings and decorations. It is a replica from the set of DW Griffiths’ 1916 epic Intolerance, the plaque explains.
Peace and love,
Ja’far

January 19th 2013

Sunday, January 19th, 2014
January 19th 2014
Filmwise: making notes for the seventh draft of the little girl in Baghdad story.
Facts and truths
At a panel discussion about documentary filmmaking, the moderator asked the panelist to talk about the truth and how they go about finding it in their films.
The different strategies, the research and the lengthy interviews seemed to be the tried and tested methods used by all.
However, a panelist posed a question that threw the whole concept of truth up in the air: he argued that even facts and truths are subject to the perspective of each of us. He gave the example of seeing someone in the street and thinking them to be walking, when they could be on roller skates, obscured by parked cars.
This helped open up the discussion, and other panelists began to use terms such as “my film’s truth” as opposed to “the interviewee’s truth”. There was a collective intake of breath, however, when a participant likened his method of repetitive questions in “interrogating” his documentary subjects to some of the methods in use at Guantanamo Bay.
Peace and love,
Ja’far
Filmwise: making notes for the seventh draft of the little girl in Baghdad story.
Facts and truths
At a panel discussion about documentary filmmaking, the moderator asked the panelist to talk about the truth and how they go about finding it in their films.
The different strategies, the research and the lengthy interviews seemed to be the tried and tested methods used by all.
However, a panelist posed a question that threw the whole concept of truth up in the air: he argued that even facts and truths are subject to the perspective of each of us. He gave the example of seeing someone in the street and thinking them to be walking, when they could be on roller skates, obscured by parked cars.
This helped open up the discussion, and other panelists began to use terms such as “my film’s truth” as opposed to “the interviewee’s truth”. There was a collective intake of breath, however, when a participant likened his method of repetitive questions in “interrogating” his documentary subjects to some of the methods in use at Guantanamo Bay.
Peace and love,
Ja’far

January 12th 2014

Sunday, January 12th, 2014
Filmwise: Giving the sixth draft of the little girl in Baghdad some valuable rest time. Will revisit next month.
A mountain…
Like any first full week back at work after the Christmas and New Year break, this started out with the obligatory “oh,well, best get on with it!”
And the week almost concluded with the sense of a minor triumph – “have climbed that mountain!”
Alas, near the end of the climb on Thursday, a wholly unexpected and sad news brought the expedition tumbling down.
I wish if there were anything I could do to reverse the turn of events.
Peace and love,
Ja’far

Filmwise: Giving the sixth draft of the little girl in Baghdad some valuable rest time. Will revisit next month.

A mountain…

Like any first full week back at work after the Christmas and New Year break, this started out with the obligatory “oh,well, best get on with it!”

And the week almost concluded with the sense of a minor triumph – “have climbed that mountain!”

Alas, near the end of the climb on Thursday, a wholly unexpected and sad news brought the expedition tumbling down.

I wish if there were anything I could do to reverse the turn of events.

Peace and love,

Ja’far

January 5th 2014

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

Filmwise: The sixth draft of the little girl in Baghdad script is almost complete. I need to have a final read through, before putting it to bed to rest and breathe.

We read about it…

One evening during this Christmas break, I found myself at a loose end – at my local cinema, there were only two films that I hadn’t seen, and they both were not appealing.

So, less than an hour later, I was at the main box office of the National Theatre, asking about the night’s shows.

“All the shows are sold out. But the Shed still has some places.”

The Shed is a new temporary structure raised in the forecourt of the National, a few feet from the river’s edge.

The play turned out to be Protest Song, starring Rhys Ifans.

The show was brilliant, featuring some wonderful instances of interaction with the crowd.

The one that stood out was when Mr Ifans, in character of a homeless person, asks members of the audience for some change.

I was surprised to see the first two people he asked to have the coins at the ready in their palms.

At his curtain call, he returned the money.

After the show, I happened to bump into the middle aged couple.

“I was wondering, had you arranged it with the theatre to have the coins ready?”

“No, we just read somewhere that he would be asking for change!”

Peace and love,

Ja‘far