Listen to the Lobsterman, for he has the true knowledge.

"Caring will break before the man if he can only wait it out." Navajo saying.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Gentle Movie for a Summer's Night

As I write this it's 3:31 a.m. and I'm hearing the first thunder of the spring--a great sound and I need some comforting thunder tonight. Speaking of comforting things, I love quiet slow movies that put great acting and script ahead of special effects and Hollywood endings. I stumbled upon such a movie on IFC (which I can no longer afford, so haven't seen it in a long time) called Spring Forward starring Nead Beatty and Liev Schreiber and liked it so much I bought it (used) on Amazon. It's not a tremendously exciting film and if you're tired you'll fall asleep watching it (a good thing if you have trouble sleeping--and much safer than drugs that you do not need), but it's about two parks employees in Connecticut: the older one played wonderfully by Ned Beatty and the younger played just as nicely by Schreiber. The movie is really nothing but one long conversation between the two, interspersed with interactions with a few other more minor characters (one of them you'll recognize from Fraiser), and at times the script limps along looking for it's other leg (arrrgh, something the Lobsterman knows LOTS about having lost one of his to a giant squid off the coast of Newfoundland--a story for another time), but Ned Beatty is such a comforting, wonderful actor that if you handed him an old Wheaties box he could create a profound scene by reading the list of ingredients.

Anyway, this is not a film for anyone that needs a plot or any feeling of action (trust me, there isn't any), but if you like acting, storytelling, the friendship that can grow between two unlikely candidates for friendship, then you will enjoy this film. And you can get it used on Amazon for under a buck, so really, what have you got to lose? Give it to the local book sale if you don't like it and you'll feel like you've helped your community--and then go buy a used copy of Deliverance (in which Beatty gives a performance so great that he should have been given every Oscar ever created) and you'll get enough action to shiver the timbers of any old Lobsterman.

Here's a review from a feller on Amazon that seems to have liked it and I hope he doesn't mind the old Lobersterfeller ripping off his review. So, next summer Saturday night when you're sitting home alone (argggggggggggh, ask the Lobsterman about THAT sometime, too), pull up a pot of chowder and some lobster crackers and watch this film. Next time I'll tell you about another offbeat film that I love and that has magic in every moment--and also lots of great acting.

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Hidden gem!!, October 16, 2004
By John Margaritis (Floral Park, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Spring Forward (Widescreen Edition) (DVD)
Can a movie with no plot or action to speak of be any good? Well, the answer is yes and no and it all depends on who's asking. Most of the people I know would have no patience to sit through Spring Forward probably because it's a slow moving character study and involves no action. No guns, car chases, or explosions, just wonderfully written dialogue and strong fleshed-out characters. These days those qualities seem to be in such short supply and that's one of the reasons I loved every minute of this film.

The movie follows two Parks Department workers around on their daily errands. Harold(Ned Beatty)is the veteran who is on the verge of retirement and Paul(Liev Schreiber)is the new guy who just got out of jail for armed robbery. I knew what to expect from Beatty but was greatly surprised by Schreiber's performance--he was brilliant throughout. I never even heard of him before this movie.

The movie moves at its own pace, which is rather slow, but once I got into it the time went by rather quickly. The only conflict in the movie stems from Paul and his inclination toward self-desctruction. Paul's hit on some bad times and things haven't been looking up, but he seems like a decent guy who's trying to improve himself. Harold sees that and trys to give him some guidance without being overbearing. In return, Paul helps Harold deal with some guilt he feels towards his seriously ill son. The relationship that develops between the two men is truly special and handled with any hint of sentimentality.

I saw Spring Forward on a recommendation from a friend at work and couldn't thank him enough after I had watched it. I watch a lot of movies but there always seem to be some great ones that I haven't seen and love the feeling of discovering them for the first time. This is definitely one of them.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Meaning of Life is...

Cats on a screened porch.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Speaking of Train Wrecks (or: Why I'm Leaving the Book Publishing World Behind)

Welcome to the new blog. For the past 18 months I have been dutifully writing a blog called "Photo Tip of the Day." (Oh yeah, I'm a writer and photographer and teacher, by trade.) I wrote that blog almost every day (until recently) hoping that eventually it would develop a huge audience (it didn't) and hoping I could publish a book from it (I did). There is going to be a book based on the blog and it's called Jeff Wignall's Digital Photography Crash Course. It could not have been more aptly titled because that's what my life in the publishing world has been: a train wreck. I got a crash course, OK, a crash course in what not to do for a living.

Anyway, the book is being published in September by Lark books. Big deal. I've had probably a dozen books published and guess what, I'm still a starving writer. And some of the books have been major bestsellers. The publishing business, in case you don't know this, is skewed against writers. While we provide the books that publishers publish (what would they publish if it wasn't for writers and artists and photographers filling up the pages?), we get the short end of the stick when it comes to income from those books. Granted, publishers take a fair financial risk when it comes to publishing books, but the writers are, to quote the lobsterman, "All getting scrod."

Lately I've been going through a rough financial patch, to put it mildly. If it wasn't for the kindness of friends, I'd be wearing an orange slicker and hawking lobsters on a dock. In fact, that's probably a whole lot better way to earn a living than writing. As my friend Cool Bob (aka The Captain) says, "Retail is the perfect business: You sell someone some crap, they hand you some money. Deal closed." Right on.

Anyway, I have no idea where this blog is going, if anywhere. But unlike the last blog, this one has no ambitions. I'm not trying to create a book from it (heaven forbid I should go down that lame road again) and I don't give a crap if anyone reads it.

I do have a life away from books and cameras and photography and the publishing world. I can name you at least a half dozen things that mean more to me: cats, gardening, music, reading, travel and my occasional conversations with the Lobsterman.

Anyway, the point is, you can't get too focused in life or you end up trapped in a single latitude. That's what this life is about--or should be--trying to stay well-rounded enough so that you know when it's time to change sails. And maybe that's what this blog is about--my attempt to hoist a spinnaker for the downwind run. I've been beating to starboard far too long, trying to live on the edge of the wind and letting it push me around. Sometimes it's just better to go with the wind.

And let's just see where this whole thing goes. Come to think of it, I've always wanted to be an actor. So maybe that's what I'll be: an actor.  If you write a good play, let me know. Hey, if you're unemployed, you can be unemployed at anything you want to be. So next time someone says, "What do you do for a living?" I'll say, "I breathe." But if they ask me what I do for a job, I'll say, "I'm an actor between roles." Or a sailor between sails.

And by the way, the type in this posting has a lot of flaws--what's up with that? To tell you the truth though, I think I like it. All these blogs and websites are just too perfect looking. I miss the days when a journal was created with a notebook and a Flair.

If you have something to say, post a comment. If you don't, just turn up the music.