Two Zero Zero Six

*Oh, happy new year and have a nice 2006 and all. Don’t eat chicken today, or you’ll be ‘scratching’ for money all throughout the year! That’s what one of my older relatives told me at her house earlier. We also ate green jello and pork to ensure the gifts of money and... pork I guess for the coming year. Wait no - health. Pork means health. And then we all threw salt over our shoulders and went outside to collect horseshoes and pennies (face up only), after which we washed our hands for the rest of the afternoon.

So anyway, today’s a nice one to look forward to things. I have some fairly interesting projects on the horizon, some further along than others - one of them’s rapidly approaching fruition, and hopefully I’ll be able to announce it soon. But yeah, some interesting things lie ahead.

*Ahh, speaking of upcoming fun, I’m having a nice time catching up on the content of Viz’s upcoming Golgo 13 Vol. 1 - kind of old news, but I’d forgotten to check it out, and it’s looking good. The first story is a long one, set in 1995, with Duke hired by the US to infiltrate Iraq and destroy a supergun that’s fallen into the hands of Saddam Hussein; the core of the story is based on then-current fact (I recall a made-for-television movie on the same topic, 1994's Doomsday Gun), but I’m sure Viz couldn’t resist debuting the book with this story for the inevitable contemporary kick of the premise. There’ll also be a second, shorter story, a 1979 piece about the paranoia that grips a mobster upon learning that he’s been targeted by the titular assassin. It’s 184 pages in total. I particularly like how Viz’s marketing implicitly plays up the fact that the title character never seems to age, existing decades apart at peak efficiency.

*Herzog Dept: Also, since Grizzly Man was my favorite film of 2005, I’m absolutely looking forward to Werner Herzog’s upcoming works, like his stock-footage sci-fi extravaganza The Wild Blue Yonder (an idea that’s been rattling around in Herzog’s head since Fata Morgana in 1971), Rescue Dawn (his docudrama semi-remake of his own Little Dieter Needs to Fly from 1997), and the deluxe documentaries ‘n shorts box set that’s apparently being released by his website in January, region free and in NTSC format, though apparently they only accept Euros.

But the ever-prolific Herzog already has a second recent film, 2004's The White Diamond, currently out on dvd alongside Grizzly Man (which will be somewhat altered in presentation, as the David Letterman footage present in the theatrical cut apparently ran into rights issues), and a bit of controversy has been stirred by Herzog’s rather open attitude toward staging scenes in his documentaries, even sometimes employing make-up effects like glycerin to attain better shots. It’s not that huge a shock; Herzog did pen a manifesto touching on the topic back in 1999, and some of the sequences in Grizzly Man (the autopsy bit, Exhibit A) have quite obviously been rehearsed for maximum dramatic impact (Herzog is an old pro with coaxing effective performances out of non-professional actors, after all). Hell, one of the core themes of Grizzly Man is the capacity for hidden and misleading things inherent to the cinema.

Still, apparently talk keeps erupting whenever the subject comes up (I’m guessing it’s one of the bigger reasons why Grizzly Man was shut out of the Oscars), so Herzog released a neat little statement to Jeffrey Wells’ Hollywood Elsewhere site (scroll all the way down). Herzog likes to talk in rhetorical circles, but in my heart I agree with him, especially since I see very little ‘purity’ in documentary filmmaking, at least as far as the Platonic ideal of 'capturing life as it happens' goes - a story is almost always imposed; March of the Penguins originally had voice-over dialogue telling a fictional story, just by way of example, so I’m pretty sure the editing beats and the footage shot isn’t striving to capture the 'truth' of uninterrupted penguin action. I guess ‘pure’ documentary exists - Andy Warhol’s Empire (maybe, haven't seen it), some of the early actualities of the Edison Company and the Lumieres - but even some of the verité filmmakers Herzog so dislikes quite openly admit that they’re fishing recognizable narratives out of the raw footage of straightforward life (I’m thinking the brothers Maysles - Salesman is maybe my favorite film ever). Good food for thought though.