Northern Lights Screening and a Letter from Denny Dey

NORTHERN LIGHTS is going to play in Los Angeles this coming Friday, Jan. 18, 8:00 PM at the Silent Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax near Melrose. This is late notice but I’ve been laid up with a cough for the last month and things have ground down a little. I plan to be there, health permitting and hope to see you there.

Secondly, I’d like to announce that Mickey Freeman, Director of Photography on many of my movies has just won the Award of Excellence from the Accolade Award Competition for his timeless cinematography on PRESQUE ISLE. Congratulations to Mickey, one of the great cinematographers of our time.

And lastly, below, I’m including this article written by Denny Dey about PRESQUE ISLE. I think it speaks for itself.

Presque Isle:

What did it tell me?
I know that Danny was struck blind by his girlfriend’s attraction to Thor. I know that the realization was, no doubt, the straw that broke the camel’s fragile back. As a result, Danny falls through the cracks of his own mental asphalt into a morass of memories and madness resulting from unresolved issues with his mother, father, aged relatives, and female alliances. I know that Frasier is key to Danny’s search for significance in his past and that Frasier’s story is the shadow of Danny’s story, both revealing opposite images of Danny’s mother. I know that David is passionate and introspective and even though he is swimming upstream himself, he feels the need to reach out to Danny regardless of the outcome. I know that the words spoken by Melody and imprinted on the brass plate before the courthouse are somehow the words which haunt Danny’s present with gut-wrenching realities from his past; his hopes, his desires, his unrealized expectations. I know that the island is without and within. I know that the lake is distance, defeat, distraction, denial, death, and deferment from reality; hence, a reality isolated and, at the same time, reminiscent. Is there more? Should there be?

What did I see?
I saw the single most beautiful black and white film I have ever witnessed; presenting, in its interlocking images, a steady rhythm of visual messages and meanings. Nature and light held tight to each other in every frame. It was impossible to pull my eye from the screen.

What did I hear?
I heard staggered tones of talk and open air sounds surrounded by throngs of sustained notes and gatherings of other notes sometimes mixed with isolated unforgiving voices, the voices of wraiths watching from dark places nearby.

What did I feel?
I felt what the voyeur feels when crouched in the depth of the broken branches and behind the piles of wind herded leaves. I felt like Danny’s eye focused on breasts and falling water, wind blown hair and arched naked backs. I was there in the place of it and yet safely hidden from the pain of recognition and subterfuge. I was ever eager for the next image.

What did I want?
I wanted nothing, except to watch. I didn’t worry or care or plot or placate my own desires for or about anything as it happened. I just watched. I simply wanted to know what is going to happen.

What did I walk away with?
The image of a trap in my mind, a maze with no exit, a path that bends back on itself: the Mobius strip of realities filled with “you can’t” and “it won’t”. Now I can imagine that people watching Presque Isle were prone to manipulation of the visual or story element but let’s figure on two realities apparent to the open mind. One: They, the watchers, have no need to push and shove the visual aspect of the film because it is masterful work. It is one of the best examples of the visual art form to be shot since the post-modern era opened its studio doors and abandoned Art altogether.

They have no right to alter or adjust to the story since they, like me, are only invited to watch unattended in the nearby woods. This is not a tale of identifiable and dependable events designed to appease the appetite of front row popcorn munching enthusiasts. This is an unzipped tent flap, a clean spot on an otherwise dingy window, a space between nearby branches from which only the most patient hunters seek to observe their prey: the moment of the event. So, what is it that Presque Isle brings to the viewer besides a sunrise of cherishable images and mental map of one man’s unraveling? It brings what it brings to each and every other eye, depending on those perceptions which create one viewer unlike any other. It brings familiarity on one hand and strange attractions on the other. It brings questions and answers without directives. It turns the pages of one story intertwined and juxtaposed with many others. It is a peeled back Band-Aid exposing an oozing unhealed wound: one that infects the moment with tainted blood. Presque Isle is naked and cold and wet beneath storm clouds echoing thunder from past and present anguish. It is relentless in its pursuit of a tightening grip on the untouchable elements of human nature created by human nature amid the unpardonable structure of nature itself. It is rain and tears and the vile taste of one’s own failure unchecked; unbridled and unwanted.

And the Wolf?
Why not? Where else if not here? The ancestor of all supposedly loyal obedient hounds is there, in the woods, before us, telling us, with its howls, that we are only momentarily separated from our own savage instincts, only partially free of our own unacceptable needs and urges. Our wild nature is our downfall and, at the same time, our only element of real dignity for as we stand naked on the edge of the shoreline burning our clothes, we also stand at the outer boundary of our hope. So, do I know what the story is about, what it is trying to tell me? Perhaps, but somehow, I didn’t feel that need for conclusions detailed in linguistic symbolism. I felt more comfortable crouched in the underbrush out of sight, watching, waiting, my eyes prowling in search of the next image, my ears fixed on any sound or resonance of the nature of this man, the nature of his past, the nature of his surroundings. And, somehow, it seemed appropriate that way. Presque Isle is the single most succinct example of the re-birth of “film” in the United States. It’s roots sink deep into Bergman, Von Trier, and Cassavetes. There is no film currently under production or playing anywhere in the country which, regardless of its intent or design, beats so loudly on the door of American film archives.

Denny Dey

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