March 22, 2010

It's been a while, I know. Not sure when things started getting so crazy but crazy they are.

Just had a shot of good news from the South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin. When You're Strange screened there over the weekend and just won a nice award.

“Mission” and “When You’re Strange”
Lead SXSW Audience Winners
by Peter Knegt

“Mission,” “When You’re Strange” Lead Additional SXSW Audience Winners

A scene from Tom DiCillo's "When You're Strange - a film about The Doors."

The South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Conference and Festival announced additional Audience Award-winners today. Among them were Mike Woolf’s “Richard Garriott - Man on a Mission” in the Spotlight program and Tom DiCillo’s “When You’re Strange - a film about The Doors” in the 24 Beats Per Second program.

This one actually means a lot to me, coming from a festival so intensely devoted to music. My congratulations to everyone who worked so hard on the film.

Also, here is an updated listing of dates and cities as of today:

New York:                Angelika
Los Angeles:             Sunset; Playhouse 7, Pasadena; Town Center, Encino
Chicago:                    Davis
Boston:                      Somerville Theater  (Somerville, MA)
Philadelphia:            Ritz 16/Puff Theatre/The Piazza at Schmidt’s
Atlanta:                     Cinefest Film Theatre
San Francisco:          Kabuki
Seattle:                      Grand Illusion
Dallas:                        Angelika       
Nashville:                  Belcourt Theatre
Madison, WI:            Sundance Theatre

Shreveport, LA:                 Robison Film Theater
Albuquerque, NM:             Guild, May
Athens, GA:                         Cine
Santa Monica, LA:              Laemmle’s Monica

The film is opening in France around June 1. I'm heading over there in a few weeks with John Densmore to do some pre-opening press, and then back again with John in late May to hit both France and England right before the opening.

Theaters interested in US distribution should contact Brittany Erlbaum: Brittany.Erlbaum@rhino.com.

All international sales inquiries should go to Harry White from ContentFilm: harry.white@contentfilm.com.

My sincere thanks to everyone, especially Elaine--the patron saint of When You're Strange--for all the support. And mostly, thanks to Ray, John, Jim and Robbie. Let it roll.

P.S., Thank you Wayne, for your “The Real Blonde” link!
Hello, Tom:
Thank you for responding to my post, and for reading the review. I appreciate your time, and knowing your thoughts.
I agree with you on the last sentence of the review — unfortunately, our editor requires a one-liner type “sum it up” (who’s the audience for this film?). But in truth, I don’t know that it *would* win over people who don’t like The Doors’ music. That has nothing to do with the movie, and everything to do with the group.
IMO it’s a rare feat to change or reshape peoples’ musical tastes as they pertain to one band through film. For instance, I believe you said you did not see “It Might Get Loud” (a 2009 doc I had *A LOT* of problems with from a cinematic standpoint, but still absolutely adore because of the subject matter [my two fave musicians on the planet, Jimmy Page and Jack White]). “It Might Get Loud” also includes The Edge as one of the three guitarists profiled, and while I actually learned positive things about his personality and process through the film and came to respect him, I’m still not running out to buy U2 albums.
As for “When You’re Strange” being mostly about Morrison… well, I think there are two things at work there: 1) Morrison was totally magnetic and you could have had 50 minutes about the Doors and 10 minutes about Morrison and for some of us viewers it would have *still* seemed like a movie all about Morrison, 2) He’s the one who made headlines and shaped the public perception of the band, so most of the major events covered would have to be about him. And, btw, I’m not complaining — I love all the coverage of Morrison, especially the HWY footage. You did a *BEAUTIFUL* job on that, and I think the story you created with it is really compelling (I wanted to keep as little of that in my review as possible, so viewers would be surprised by your artistic reinterpretation of the scenes).
I hesitate here, and I hope you realize I’m not posting these links below to tout my own stuff, but instead for you to read (if you want to) my reviews of “It Might Get Loud” and another recent music doc, “Under Great White Northern Lights” to see how they compare, in my mind and taste, to how I chose to write about “It Might Get Strange”. Documentaries are so very subjective, they’re almost impossible to review without the critic putting a lot of their own biases into the fray. (Luckily for me, the last three major music docs I’ve reviewed are all about bands I love!)
In answer to your question, I saw “When You’re Strange” at the Clarity Screening Room. They did a decent job on the sound, but it could have been a little clearer (oh, the irony “Clarity Screening Room”).
I am looking forward to seeing it on DVD — I have a large screen, surround, Blu-ray, etc., so results will be optimum — and I have a question for you: I heard you have an on-camera interview with Morrison’s dad… will that be included on the “extras”? At any rate, I’m definitely adding the DVD to my library.
Interesting observation about big screen vs small screen viewings… for example, I saw Gilliam’s “The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus” twice on the big screen and loved it except I thought Verne Troyer’s performance was stilted to the point of being noticeable. Last week, I got the DVD to review, watched it again, and Troyer’s performance was completely innocuous; not irritating at all.
In closing, I have to say, YES! — I did enjoy “Delirious” and agree with you wholeheartedly that Buscemi deserved awards-style recognition. This is another one that I had a slightly different reaction to on the small screen…
…the shifting visual styles were less-jarring (to me) on the DVD. Same with Van Sant’s “Milk”. (However, in a movie like Stone’s “Natural Born Killers” the reasons for changing color palettes, perspectives, film-to-video, etc., are not only clear, but necessary). Rereading my review makes me remember I really want to see “The Real Blonde” again — loved that movie!
Can’t wait to see what you do next.
Hey Staci,
It was a pleasure to meet you in LA. I’m glad you are a fan of Delirious. I put a lot into that film. Everyone did. And to think that Steve Buscemi didn’t even get a Spirit Award nomination…jeezus. What the hell…
I’m also glad you responded to When You’re Strange. Can I ask you, did you see it projected or on a DVD screener? I ask because I wonder if that may have affected your overall reaction. But, I included your review above, even though there were some things in the film you objected to. That’s entirely your right. But, seeing as this is my blog I sometimes feel I have the right to look at some of the press or comments that come my way.
I don’t completely agree with some of your objections. For example, I got into the rest of the band’s back history as much as I felt served the main story–the formation of the band. The born here, and married her and got a job there was not what the film was about. If you look at the film I don’t do that with Jim either. The only personal stuff I got into with him was the big stuff; specifically his relationship with his father.
And, I do wish you hadn’t written that last sentence. I felt after everthing you’d said about the film it unnecessarily placed a limitation on the film; on the kind of people who might enjoy it.
But, the rest was well-observed and informative. So, there you have it. You’re a good writer and I look forward to talking to you again.
To Janet, Salli and Mike,
Now this is all really, really fascinating to me. Hearing the descriptions of how Jim responded to the same things, differently, only makes me happy that I attempted to portray him this way in the film: as a human being. As someone with many conflicting currents–like us all.
I do agree that Jim clearly had a great respect and admiration for film. I know practically nothing about his taste in watching films but I do know from his own attempts to make them that he understood their power and was drawn to it.
His last film at UCLA earned him a D. I don’t think that could have been too encouraging for him. My sense was that Jim responded to criticism deeply; not that he was defensive, but that when people didn’t recognize what he was up to it temporarily made him doubt himself.
That’s why I have such admiration for him for undertaking HWY on his own. He spent his own money. He hired his own crew. He wrote the script. And most importantly, the film he made was the film he wanted to make.
Now, HWY is a very specific kind of film. It is not strictly narrative. It is much more like the poetry of Rimbaud; a series of images loosely woven together to give more of a tone and a feeling rather than a sense of narrative completion.
But, I also know he was very impressed by Easy Rider, though it is hard to tell how he actually felt about the film. In an interview I read he seemed more interested in how much money the film made–not in a commercial way but in the way that it found a life in real theaters.
I think perhaps if he’d been able to spend more time working in film he might have made a film with similar impact. It seemed to me his love of film was equal to his love of poetry. But, perhaps the inherent “publicness” of film, its communal energy and attention, might have helped him more easily slip away from the addictive grip of the enveloping icon he’d so brilliantly created of himself.
Hello, Tom — Thanks for the interviews! Best of luck with WHEN YOU’RE STRANGE — Staci Layne Wilson
—Movie Review for Buzzine & Official TV-Wire video interviews
— Casual report in my blog
= = =
After enjoying Delirious so much, I’m definitely looking forward to your next narrative film.
Bad Jim! Contrary Jim! LOL.
One night we went to see Luis Buñuel’s “Belle de Jour” at the Fine Arts. A Chinese fortune teller would have warned “avoid each other.” We didn’t.
I said how fresh and beautiful Catherine Deneuve looked; how much the camera loved her.
Jim shot back that she was absolutely plain. He scoffed about her cheek bones. I offered “Blind Jim” my glasses.
Later I was told that Jim actually thought Deneuve was gorgeous. He was just “in a mood” and baiting me.
This brings us to Jim and “The Searchers.” I wasn’t there, so my guess is he was trying to get a rise out of you…or maybe he meant what he said about *scoff, scoff* “The Searchers!” You know as well as I do Jim lived for lively “discussions.”
One night he extolled “The Searchers” as a perfect example of how the use of a camera could make or break a film. Ford made the frontier “vibrate” majestically and bounce off the screen. You felt surrounded by all this vastness. To Jim, on that night, Monument Valley in Utah represented “the west” on screen.
Short take: Jim said it was one of his favorite (plural) movies. Maybe he lied to me. Maybe it wasn’t. Will we ever find out for sure? “That’ll be the day.” 😉
Janet Erwin
Aaack! Aaack! NOOOO, dammit. The Searchers was MY favorite film–or at least my favorite Western.
Jim’s favorite Western was One-Eyed Jacks, which is (very) loosely based on the Billy the Kid legend so of course Jim liked it. I do too, now that I’ve fallen in love with Billy myself.
But when Jim asked me what my favorite film was and I said The Searchers, he hooted and howled. “The Searchers?? The SEARCHERS???”
His contempt was palpable–and btw Ray also takes potshots at The Searchers in LMF.
But I got my revenge. Can you possibly imagine how satisfying it was, as the 70s dragged on, to find that all the Young Turk directors of the day revered The Searchers at least as much as I did?
Scorsese, Spielberg, Lucas–even Jean Luc Godard. I saw Star Wars in the theatre in Century City with some Indian friends of mine, and when Lucas “quotes” that seminal scene from The Searchers–when Luke rushes back to the family farm only to discover his Aunt Beru and Uncle Ivan have been massacred–I blurted out “That’s The Searchers!!!” and my friend Robin Black Cloud cracked me in the ribs and told me to STFU.
(But we walked out of the theatre only to turn around and buy tickets for the next showing…)
OTOH, I think The Searchers desperately needs to be remade. The book is far darker and more realistic than Ford’s 50s silliness, no matter how splendid and iconic that film is. (Every frame is a painting, and John Wayne is chilling as the psychotic Ethan Edwards,)
Except of course in the book his character’s name is Amos, and a much more formidable and competent Marty winds up with Debbie, not Laurie…
Morning Tom ,
quick question this time … won’t take ya an hour !
“In your personal opinion after your research , Do you believe Morrison would of found his way back to Film making ? What type opf films would you guess he would have worked towards and do you think he could have any sort of an impact ?
understanding it it is truly just speculation … but what are your thoughts ?
– Mike McKeever”
Hi Mike. I know you asked this question of Tom and I’m not Tom, but Jim was a friend of mine. Although “The Searchers” with John Wayne was one of Jim’s favorite films, as a rule Jim preferred foreign films. He wanted to work with the French directors. He liked their sensibility.
One of the reasons Jim went to France was to work with people like Demy and Varda. He didn’t feel he had enough actual filmmaking experience under his belt so he thought to learn from people he admired. He had also started a script idea in L.A. and hoped to continue work on it in Paris. Jim was full of hopes.
Would Jim have made an impact? Given his past history as a singer, my guess is that he would. Would it have been a large contribution to the world of film? That is a question with no an answer.
Just got my email with the teaser clip. Loved it! Can’t wait to see the whole film.
And the countdown continues…one week from today – WYS hits selected theaters!!!!!
*giggles with glee*
Mike McKeever
Morning Tom ,
quick question this time … won’t take ya an hour !
In your personal opinion after your research , Do you believe Morrison would of found his way back to Film making ? What type opf films would you guess he would have worked towards and do you think he could have any sort of an impact ?
understanding it it is truly just speculation … but what are your thoughts ?
– Mike McKeever
Hey Tom,
I just learned that When You’re Strange will be getting two screenings at the Belfast Film Festival on Tuesday 20th and Monday 26th of April.
It looks like I will be attending and covering the Belfast Film Festival so I am extremely excited to able to see When You’re Strange again. 🙂
Hey Tom,
Congratulations on the win! You deserve it for all the incredible work you put into uncovering the life blood and soul of the Doors for everyone.
I wish the documentary would show in Maryland, but looks like I’ll be seeing it first on PBS. I’m looking forward to it. I know promo tours can be ugly, but I hope you have a wonderful time in France.
Take care, travel safe. Salli
I know you’re extremely busy with this film coming out. You have no idea how excited I am about it! I’ve done a lot of research on Jim living in FL(where I’m from) and have talked to many of his old college buddies from SPJC. I even took a job with the company that tore down his grandparents house where he lived while he went to SPJC and Florida State Univ.
I didn’t see any contact info and I’d love to talk to you about so many things! Im the lead singer and bass player of the all female band KORE. We’re going to NY in May to perform at a big festival on the Hudson and I’ve never been to NY! Can you recommend some places I need to see while Im there?
Thanks so much!
Would love to see the film come to Florida. Jim’s hometown! Can’t wait to see the film.
Thanks Tom!
Hey everyone,
For those that want to listen to the When You’re Strange Soundtrack, the tracks are online at the site below. This includes Depp reading Jim’s poetry. Saw the announcement on Jeff Jampol’s Twitter page.
Hi Tom
Looking forward to seeing it when it hits the UK, do let us know when you know of dates incase you stop by for a q&a.
Also, how are your other projects progressing?
Any screening in montreal?
Hey Brad,
Well, goddamit, you are right. I heard directly from The Belcourt in Nashville.
The film has been postponed there until sometime in May. He said the delay came from the distributor with no explanation.
I’m sorry about this. I don’t know why it happened.
jeff from Phoenix, AZ
I know the marketing for the movie has already been established by now but something came to mind really profound the other day which I think describes the Doors experience perfectly: “Lighning struck in the same place for almost six years.” I’m not sure if it’s original or not? But I just had to get it out to you. I hope you see this post.
That says it all for me. I was born in 1965 so I wasn’t raised on Doors music. I didn’t start to “get into” them until I was probably 30. The more I learn and experience about them the more I see that the six years they were together may be unlike any six year period of any band that created music. I can’t wait to see your movie.
Jeff Altenbach
Hey Brad,
I’m checking with the distributor now. Let’s see if we can get to the bottom of this. I have some good friends in Nashville who are psyched about seeing the film.
Hey Keith,
The outdoor gig in Philly does sound amazing. I’m checking now to see if anyone has invited me. It would be great to be there.
Belcourt is fully active, and called to confirm. Events scheduled at Belcourt before and after April 10.
Hey Tom,
The Doors posted this article on their Facebook fan page; gives a real great thumbs up for WYS–
Outdoor venue in Philly is going to be legendary. I’ve seen postcards throughout the city for this, and feel the buzz. Will you be attending any screenings?
Hey Brad, just learned the original theater in Nashville is under reconstruction or some such truck. They’re looking hard to relocate.
Keep your eyes open.
Just adding a Friday countdown…2 weeks from today 🙂
Hey Brad,
News to me. Not sure what to tell you. I’m not involved in the distribution decisions at all. I certainly hope it gets put off hold asap.
Nashville has been put on hold. Any explanation?
That reminds me Tom, I once wrote a piece about The Real Blonde on my blog, if yourself or anyone cares to have a read here is the link 🙂
I’m with a independent theatre here in Indianapolis and wanted information on hosting a screening of this film. Who would I talk to?
Thanks Joe
Hi Tom,
Awesome news, congrats my friend! The film deserves every award it gets; having suffered reviewing innumerable Hollywood bilge (and some non-Hollywood crap too!) I can safely say that When You’re Strange is still the best film of the year so far.
Did you hear any other feedback from the Dublin screening apart from my own two cents? The audience was told to vote at the end of the screening of what they thought of it, the highest rating was 4 and myself and many other people leaving the screening also voted 4 but I haven’t heard if it won any prizes at the festival.
Here’s to continued recognition and to a great run in the theatres!
I was gutted recently, I went looking all around Dublin for The Real Blonde on DVD and I was told it is unavailable and impossible to get. At least I still have my cherished and much viewed VHS copy 🙂
Anyway, delighted to hear the great news Tom, it put a smile on my face to see such a great film receive much deserved recognition.
Fantastic, Seattle in April!
The Grand Illusion is the coolest theater in the city, hands down. Also in the heart of the University district so should help with a big turnout of students.
Hey Tom,
Awww 🙂 I’ve never been patron saint of anything before! Appreciate your kind words, and you’re very welcome.
Congrats on the award! This is great news out of SXSW. I remember feeling bummed that WYS had to pull out of last year’s festival, but I honestly think being there now is much better for the film (not to mention better for the press, covering Robby being there before the 4/9 release, etc.)
Consider the SXSW award info spread – will tweet, facebook, blog it today.
And on an entirely different note…I grinned when I saw your post title – always good when a New Yorker says “y’all” like we do down South. I’ll corrupt you into liking grits eventually – ha ha 🙂
Congrats on what I’m sure is a soulful piece of art. It’s been a long journey that you’ve shared w/us on your blog, and we appreciate being able to take it with you through your descriptive posts. So happy that I’m finally going to get to see this in a little less than 3 weeks.
Well done though it all, Tom. Well done.

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