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The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Brad Dourif Day

 

‘Fans of the vampire apocalypse sub-genre will already be en route to the nachos, but no matter what your taste there is at least one reason to recommend the newly released Priest. That reason, buried as he usually is in the depths of the supporting cast, is Brad Dourif. Because I don’t think it would be rash to claim Dourif as king of the character actors – champion of that noble tradition of bit-part players and background colour, a self-confessed “whore” who never fails to elevate even the dopiest hokum, psychotic creeps a speciality but capable of much, much more.

‘Almost everyone reading will, I imagine, have relished a Dourif performance at some point in their lives, in part because the man is as tireless as he is gifted, in part because among his many jobs have been a number of near-inescapable cultural behemoths (leaving aside Star Trek: Voyager, he reportedly dispensed with his eyebrows to appear in two of Peter Jackson’s three Lord of the Rings films). But he’s due far more reward than a place for life signing headshots at comic conventions. For all his workhorse tendencies, it would be a mistake to laud them over his actual talent – the waxy delicacy of his features the canvas for a rare, skewed intensity, his unnerving presence never once played as smirky camp.

‘But his gifts were obvious from the start. Because, of course, when we rewind as far back as 1975, we find him as the very newest of Hollywood sensations, and rightly so – the breakthrough Miloš Forman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and his pivotal turn as frail, doomed Billy Bibbit, a role he fitted so perfectly it was if Ken Kesey had foreseen a vision of him writing the source novel 13 years earlier. For a boy of 25 it was a staggering performance, deft and touching and every bit as compelling as those of Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher. His Oscar nomination was inevitable; a stellar career was assured.

‘Except, as it turned out, it wasn’t. Instead of an ascension to the upper slopes of the industry, the decades since have provided a hectic route through strange landscapes and scenic backwaters. There were more great performances – shortly after Cuckoo’s Nest came some masterful jitters in the prime slice of New York kink that was The Eyes of Laura Mars, after that John Huston’s mordant Wise Blood, most recently a lovely moment as a melancholy alien (surely the role he was born to play) in Werner Herzog’s The Wild Blue Yonder. There were also roles in a number of grand cinematic missteps: the daddy of them all, Heaven’s Gate; David Lynch’s Dune, in which he gamely held forth about “the juice of sapho”; Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s rickety Alien Resurrection. But while Lynch would hire him again for Blue Velvet, and Herzog has used him as a one-man rep company, the best part of the last 20 years has been spent paying the bills in all manner of horror projects, from the iconic (in some circles he’ll be forever best known as the voice of Chucky in the Child’s Play series) to the altogether less celebrated – but always performed with respectful sincerity.

‘In interviews, Dourif himself talks about the shape of his career as simply a product of a working actor needing work, particularly as a father – in the same year Cuckoo’s Nest came out, his first daughter was born. But sometimes when I think about him I also find it hard not to picture that otherworldly bearing and remember the example of another thin young man too wispy and off-kilter to be anyone’s male lead: Anthony Perkins. But then, much as I love Anthony Perkins, Dourif is by a long way the better actor, both more intense and more versatile. He could always do repellent (as racist wifebeater Clinton Pell in 1988’s Mississippi Burning his presence is skin-crawling) – but his Doc Cochran in TV’s old west saga Deadwood was a masterclass in unexpected decency, while what made his work in Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant so fine was the way he acted as a steadying hand amid the crazed whirl of breakdancing souls and watchful iguanas.

‘And it’s important, I think, not to embrace him just because he’s a favourite of Herzog and Lynch, but because he’s been fantastic in their films as he has so many others – and because the risk with anyone so reliable is that they get taken for granted, particularly when the wonders they deliver are small in scale. I’m sure Dourif himself would see his career as anything but thwarted for all that he never did get that Oscar, and we should follow his example. Bills have to be paid, and it would be patronising to assume he would have been happier with his name above the titles of wood-stupid action flicks. In any sane hall of fame, his place is safe already.’ — Danny Leigh

 

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Further

Brad Dourif @ IMDb
Brad Dourif: How weird is Brad?
Brad Dourif on possessed dolls, David Lynch, and playing sociopaths
Brad Dourif @ Twitter
Brad Dourif Reveals the One Chucky Scene That Shocked Him
Genre Icon Brad Dourif on Finding the Horror and the Humor in CULT OF CHUCKY
Brad Dourif for Kids
Pophorror’s Countdown to Brad Dourif’s Top 8 Performances
The Best Brad Dourif Movies
In Appreciation of… Brad Dourif
Great Horror Performances: Brad Dourif in Halloween II
ZOLA JESUS ON… THE CHARACTER ACTING OF BRAD DOURIF

 

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Extras


vietnamologue


The Many Laughs of Brad Dourif


Brad Dourif Q&A


Brad Dourif does the Chucky voice

 

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Interview
from Den of Geeks

 

Were you familiar with the works of Herschell Lewis before Wizard Of Gore?

No, I wasn’t.

He had a very bold and over the top style of horror that the new version seems to be going for as well – is that a tone you enjoy playing?

Well, I came into Wizard Of Gore without really knowing what I was getting into, to tell you the truth. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just the way it happened. I was doing a series and it was kind of like ‘Could you come and do this for a couple of days?’. And I did, but I barely had time to read the script. I read it in a flash and then I had to spend time getting ready to shoot. That was basically a day learning lines, and then I went in and shot.

So it was really pressed upon me very quickly, and it’s not a way I like to work. But it’s kind of the way I did work. It happened so fast and it was over so fast. I went in for ADR on it, and I couldn’t figure out what the fuck The Wizard Of Gore was, couldn’t remember it. I was sitting there going ‘What the fuck is this…?’. I was really embarrassed, because the director was there, everybody was there, and I couldn’t remember doing it. It was in such a flash…it went into my consciousness and right back out.

You’ve mentioned before that the fun of a part is often in the rehearsal period, so how do you cope in a situation like that, when you’re ‘straight in’?

Well, you really you then just go by the seat of your pants, by your gut and with your instincts. A lot of times our instincts are much smarter than we are anyway. So I just went with it, talked to people and tried to figure out what I was doing…and just made it work!

You’ve said before that you love situations like that where you have to create under pressure, as well as rehearsal periods where you get to work the character out. Don’t those two ways of working contradict each other?

Yes, and also it depends upon the part. If you have time before a shoot to get ready and learn all your lines…I don’t think you should show up to a shoot unless the entire movie is memorised. Some say you should never memorise, but I don’t, because even in the memorisation of the lines you’re going to get some kind of feeling for the rhythm of the whole piece. So I always memorise everything at once.

The best thing to do is go in and get a lot of work done, and a lot of options, and still be open. Then shooting is like a rehearsal that you’re well-prepared for. You’re really inventing the scene as you go, but you’re very prepared.

Are gruesome scenes like those in Wizard the kind of thing that you’re immune to now as an actor on set, and as a viewer?

Yeah, I’ve had blood thrown on me ‘til the cows come home – I’ve done all those things. So yeah, though I’m getting a little old for doing a lot of stunts, but I’ve certainly done my share. Not particularly dangerous ones, but I’ve done a lot of falls on concrete, runs and other stuff that I really can’t do any more, because if I fall, I’ll break something. You don’t bounce like you used to at 58, you know? [laughs]

At some point you went from being a character actor in films to a cult actor in your own right, like Christopher Lee or Peter Cushing – how do you feel about that?

I’m not really aware that I am a ‘cult actor’ – I don’t think of myself that way. I’ve always thought of myself as just a little misunderstood [laughs]. I don’t think of myself in any particular way…I mean what does it mean to be a ‘cult actor’ anyway…?

I guess that you’ve got a following independent of the movies you do. I’m a fan, and some of your other fans have made notable websites about you…and that people are really keen on you and your work…?

To the extent that people know my work and really like it, I’m absolutely flattered by that, of course. But the mantle of being a cult actor…I did a TV series that was way outside cult, and I’m certainly capable of doing things way outside of that genre, and I do them.

As a family-man who’s worked hard all his life, I guess there’s a fund of life-experience you have to offer that horror films are never really going to tap…?

Exactly. And fortunately I have been able to tap them, and I work hard on finding things. A lot of villains don’t, at this point, have tremendous appeal for me, ‘Chucky’ being an obvious exception.

When you’re a father and you have children, really you’re kind of like a servant, you know? [laughs] You really are! You’re constantly making little meals for your kids…then they grow up – my daughter’s an actress; I get calls from her for brainstorming something or breaking a scene down or that kind of thing. That’s really where I consider myself to be who I am.

Those things are important to me. But I did the Deadwood TV series, where I played a doctor who is probably the most decent person in Deadwood, except for the priest in the first season. I did a film that’s coming out about a pot-grower. He’s very much of a family man – a physics teacher and professor and very much not a scary person.

Are you developing projects for yourself as well?

No, it really would be very difficult for me to produce a movie. I don’t write. My girlfriend is a poet, the lady I live with, and I really have a great deal of respect for good writing. Since I don’t write, it would be very hard for me to develop or produce or anything like that. You would really need to be a writer and come in bringing something to the table, and I just don’t bring enough to the table to do that.

So you don’t have any dream projects?

I had them when I was younger, and there were certainly some things that I really wanted to do, but, you know, they never got done. There’s tons of things that I still want to act in, but as far as me developing, I’ll say that I don’t think it’s going to happen, but then it could turn around and happen tomorrow.

Does your own capacity for self-criticism ever work against you?

I suppose, at times. But at this point, once I get on a set, nothing gets too much on my way, including myself. Once my glands salivate, I’m off to the races. So in that respect, I trust myself as an actor most of the time.

I don’t want to be full of myself. I really have fun when I’m working, and I don’t want to not have fun when I’m working, because I’m trying to convince myself that I’m ‘somebody’. I don’t like it, and I don’t enjoy other people who are like that. And that’s one of the reasons why doing smaller-budget stuff is really good. You don’t run into that so much…

Is there any common strand between the good directors out of the many that you’ve worked with?

I remember Milos Forman telling me that his problem was that ‘I can’t imagine’. And that’s what great directors do – you can’t imagine what they’re going to do. They come up with something that is unique, and very very different.

I did a film with John Huston called Wise Blood. It didn’t look like a Huston film; it looked like a young film-maker made this film, but it was a really good little film. I don’t know how great it was, but it was certainly very different from what he normally did, and it was a unique movie.

Have you ever been disappointed in a film you made and re-appraised it more favourably later?

I think the first time you see a film, it really doesn’t look good, because you experience [making the film] in a much richer way. I’ll give you an example: Lord Of The Rings. When we went and shot the day that we were outside in Rohan…when Gandalf first comes in and they chase me out of town. That whole part of the exterior stuff…

That place was probably the most beautiful place I was ever in in my life. It was such an extraordinary world. The view was unbelievable, when you’re looking out over all of this stuff, and it looked beautiful in the movie, but it didn’t look anywhere near as beautiful as it looked in real life. It was paled by comparison.

Part of that is just the physics of the human eye, because what we do is that your eye moves around and takes a million little pictures, and just keeps putting them together into this big picture, and you get the whole feeling of something in a way that you could otherwise never get. You could probably do it in a painting, a little bit. But you don’t ever see an exact replica of how beautiful something is.

As someone who has played an above-average number of dark and emotionally-disturbed roles, have you found it easier or harder to leave a role at the studio and not take it home?

I’ve gone through periods where I have gotten very, very depressed. The biggest time was when I was doing Mississippi Burning. Frances McDormand was sitting at a table and she had all her beat-up make-up on. We made jokes about it and so forth, but I really walked away feeling horrible. I really had this feeling that I’d done it. And that that’s really what my life was about, and that’s not who I am…it just hit me really hard in a way that I wasn’t prepared for.

It stayed with me for a very long time, and finally I saw…the first ‘angel’ movie, it had Peter Falk in it…?

Wings Of Desire?

Yeah! And Peter Falk does this speech about a cup of coffee, and that kind of woke me up a bit. I said ‘That’s what I want to do!’. [laughs

Are your family a big help – do you come home and find that maybe they see what you can’t see – that a role has followed you home.

My girlfriend is a real artist, she’s the real artist of the family as far as I’m concerned, and her opinion is one that I very much trust. Her bar is quite high, and she really tells me the truth

My feeling is that when you finish a movie, you’re starting all over again, and you’re looking for something that you can really really do a good job in. And a lot of things, you can’t – they happen so fast. I’ve worked with people who don’t understand what it is to direct. They don’t really even understand what the job is, and you can’t really make a good movie that way

I’ve wound up blocking scenes – figuring out what the director wants and then trying to block it so that it can be shot. Instead of the director getting up and saying ‘No, do this shot or this shot’ which…you know, is a fucking horror [laughs]. You just can’t work like that.

 

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22 of Brad Dourif’s 167 roles

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Milos Forman One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
‘Billy has a confidence problem. That’s highlighted by the way he stutters uncontrollably whenever he’s asked a difficult question. Billy might have mental illness, but he’s also a young man deep down, and maybe just hasn’t figured it all out yet. He’s interested in women, as we hear in his story at the group therapy session about how he “brought Celia some flowers and I said ‘Celia, will you marry me?'” But when it comes to his attraction to women, Billy also has a deep sense of shame about his own sexuality, which is connected to his relationship with his mother. Nurse Ratched recognizes this weakness and uses it to torture Billy on two occasions, saying, “What worries me is how your mother’s going to take this.” On the second occasion, Billy is so distressed that he commits suicide.’ — schmoop


Excerpt


Asking Brad Dourif about One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

 

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Irvin Kershner The Eyes of Laura Mars (1978)
‘With a screenplay by John Carpenter and featuring some decent actors – The Eyes Laura Mars has some good ingredients. 1970s NY has a certain disco-flair coupled with the still relevant satire on violence to sell products (Mars’ photo-gimmick). The soundtrack keeps things tense (save for the aforementioned ear-bleedingly bad title and credit Streisandfest), the good supporting cast of Brad Dourif, Raul Julia and Rene Auberjonois go a long way to make up for some of the other shortcomings. Unfortunately, Faye Dunaway is occasionally OTT in her manic grief, and there’s a cheesy/unrealistic romantic subplot to offset the creepy and suspicious vibe the movie tries to create. It’s solidly directed by Irvin Kershner (The Empire Strikes Back, Robocop 2), and of the leads at least Tommy Lee-Jones puts on a good show as the determined detective Neville.’ — Gerard A


Excerpt

 

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John Huston Wise Blood (1979)
‘John Huston’s hellfire burlesque is one of the great lost films of the 1970s and a movie to stand alongside his Maltese Falcon or The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. I first blundered across the thing as a teenager, stumbling blind around the late-night TV schedules. Last night I paid a return trip and was reassured (I hesitate to say relieved) to find it just as rich, dark and flat-out weird as it was before. Adapted (pretty faithfully) from the novel by Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood charts the efforts of a wild-eyed young preacher to establish a new religion. Rattling around a depressed southern town, antsy Hazel Motes (Brad Dourif) preaches the gospel of “the Church of Christ Without Christ – where the blind can’t see, the lame don’t walk and the dead stay that way”. When setting out the landmarks of 70s American cinema, we inevitably namecheck the usual suspects: Badlands, Nashville, Taxi Driver, The Last Picture Show, Chinatown, etc. And fair enough: they’re all great films. But the more light we shine on the anointed few, the more we risk blinding ourselves to the others, to films that are arguably just as interesting, ambitious and unusual but which have been left to languish in the shadows. Films like Wise Blood, say, or The Hired Hand, They Might Be Giants, Cockfighter, Smile or The King of Marvin Gardens.’ — The Guardian


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Excerpt

 

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Michael Cimino Heaven’s Gate (1980)
‘In 1978, Michael Cimino, director of The Deer Hunter and the toast of New Hollywood, was given $11.6 million by United Artists to make a film based on a historic pitched battle between ranchers and settlers on the sky-burnished plains of Wyoming. This was to be the western to end all westerns; lo and behold, it almost did. Two years later and $32 million over budget, Cimino delivered his film: five-and-a-half-hours long and all but unreleasable. It was trimmed to 219 minutes and then shredded to 149; on its initial release it recouped less than ten per cent of its budget. The losses sunk United Artists, along with the risk-taking Hollywood culture in which Cimino (and Martin Scorsese, and Francis Ford Coppola) had thrived.’ — Robbie Collin


Excerpt

 

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David Lynch Dune (1984)
‘First of all, when I read the part, I said I didn’t want to do it. I felt that Piter was a sociopath, and if I did one, then that’s all I would ever do. That may or may not have been true, but then eventually David [Lynch] called me up and said, “Please do it,” and I said, “Okay.” Then I read everything much more carefully and figured out a way to do it that would keep me interested. Really, instead of making it about what he does, I got more into what a Mentat is. I started to create a lot of little side stories for myself. I created a hand language so that Piter was always talking with his hands, either repeating what he was saying out loud or saying something different.’ — Brad Dourif


Excerpt

 

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David Lynch Blue Velvet (1986)
‘When you have a bunch of people there, and you haven’t really written the thing and somebody kills a copperhead, the copperhead will go into the thing if it’s right. So it was, “Play with the corpse of the copperhead,” which I wound up doing. Beyond that, David knows what he intends to do. Obviously, he’s smart and some things will change, but he knows what he’s up to. Blue Velvet was the script. There are no real differences between the script and the movie. The only thing was that the gas that Dennis [Hopper] was sucking on was supposed to be helium, and he was supposed to talk in a squeaky voice the whole time. [Lynch] couldn’t have him do it that way, so what he was going to do was use the vocal and then pitch it up way high, but he looked at it, and he said, “No, it’s a great idea, but it doesn’t work. Too silly.”’ — Brad Dourif


Excerpt

 

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Tom Holland Child’s Play (1988)
‘What happened is when they did the first Child’s Play, I was doing Mississippi Burning at the time, and they needed me to go to the studio, which, of course, I couldn’t go to because I was on set working, so they got somebody else,” Dourif told the site. “They just couldn’t wait around. They got this guy, and him and Tom Holland did the whole movie, and they stood up and they laughed their asses off, and apparently it was really funny, and they loved it, and they put it in front of an audience, and the audience hated it. They fucking hated it. At that point, I’d finished working on Mississippi Burning,” the actor continued. “I was going to go to Woodstock and spend some time there, and they said, ‘No, no, no. Please come and do this,’ so I went there and did it. I listened to what they did, and I just said, ‘It’s very clear why this doesn’t work. You can’t really play it comedically. He’s serious, and what’s funny is funny.’ The ‘fuck you’ on the elevator, that was just improv. I said, ‘Wait a minute, wait a minute. I know what to do here.’ It wasn’t like we were against something that’s funny. Everything is about the event, and Chucky’s always had to be a little camp. He’s never not been camp. It’s been a huge part of what’s made him successful. It eventually went into total self-referential, which was Bride and Seed, and now that everybody’s doing remakes, it’s gone back to being scarier.’ — Brad Dourif


Excerpt

 

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Alan Parker Mississippi Burning (1988)
‘Speaking of Brad Dourif, he gives a chilling performance as a Sheriff’s Deputy/KKK member who has absolutely no remorse for his actions because he doesn’t think they are wrong. He plays the role with the same kind of voracious conviction we’ve come to expect from him every time.’ — cinema-fanatic


Excerpt

 

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Ken Loach Hidden Agenda (1990)
‘A cracking conspiracy thriller informed by John Stalker’s exposé of the British Army’s shoot-to-kill policy in Northern Ireland, Hidden Agenda has a great cast headed by Frances McDormand and Brian Cox. They play characters investigating the murder of an American human rights lawyer (Brad Dourif) in Belfast. When Hidden Agenda premiered at Cannes, it caused a storm of outrage, denounced by some British critics as IRA propaganda. It stands now as a notable classic of its genre.’ — ifi


Trailer

 

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William Peter Blatty The Exorcist III (1990)
‘One of the most amazing things about Exorcist III and one of the absolutely crucial reasons it needs to be seen is Brad Dourif’s performance as the Gemini Killer. His acting in this is astoundingly good. The structure of his appearances and the amount of screen time he has are both reminiscent of Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, which would be released the next year. I’m not exaggerating when I say Dourif deserved an Oscar nod for his performance here. He makes the most of his limited screen time and his acting is almost lyrical, moving up and down between calm and casual—even a little funny—and a complete raving psychotic.’ — Wicked Horror


Excerpt

 

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Spike Lee Jungle Fever (1991)
‘The interracial love story that anchors Jungle Fever is the least interesting element of Spike Lee’s 1991 joint. It’s the dull circle from which more compelling plot tangents offshoot. While the director is game for a surface-level exploration of the trials and tribulations of forbidden love, his once-controversial subject matter is merely a selling point designed to get asses into theater seats. Once Lee hooks his audience with the promise of sin, he pivots his social commentary to a tragic secondary character, just as Douglas Sirk did in Imitation of Life. This is appropriate, because Jungle Fever is the equivalent of a 1950s message picture. Expertly wielding his influences, Lee throws a dash of Delbert Mann and a soupcon of Stanley Kramer into the proceedings. Though the outcome is at times woefully dated, it’s also the origin of several ideas Lee would return to in subsequent films.’ — Odie Henderson, Slant


Excerpt

 

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Hanif Kureshi London Kills Me (1991)
‘Twenty, unemployed and tired of being in debt, Notting Hill drugs dealer Clint (Chadwick) decides to go straight. Trouble is, friend and posse boss Muffdiver (Mackintosh) is reluctant to let him go. Worse, Clint not only rivals Muff for the affections of junkie Sylvie (McCourt), but he lacks the shoes he needs to become a waiter at a local diner. Ready to beg, steal or borrow from anyone, Clint embarks on a quest for footwear. Kureishi’s directing debut means well, but wayward plotting, charmless performances and flat direction ensure that tedium sets in early. Evidently intended as an authentic look at Notting Hill life, it rarely rings true; and Kureishi buries the flaws beneath sporadic bursts of running about to music (hoary clichés for showing the wild, irresponsible joys of youth). It’s hard, finally, to know exactly what it’s all about, or even whether it’s meant as a comedy.’ — Time Out (London)


Trailer

 

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Dario Argento Trauma (1993)
‘Italian horror maestro Dario Argento’s tale begins at a grim séance which ends in blind panic as a voice, possessed by evil, proclaims there is a murderer present. Terrified, a young girl (Asia Argento) watches as her parents flee from the scene. The next time she sees them they are dead – their headless corpses identifying them as the latest victims of a serial killer. Convinced she will be the next victim, the girl pleads with a friend to help her unmask the murderer.’ — Hive Store


Excerpt


Excerpt

 

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Jean-Pierre Jeunet Alien: Resurrection (1997)
Alien: Resurrection is so disappointing — both then and now. It shoots a flamethrower on the entire franchise, over what was once a wholly unified trilogy, and commits some of the greatest sins in Hollywood filmmaking. For starters, the premise itself pays gluttonous fan service by indulging in their superfluous grief over losing a beloved character, while also subjugating that story’s world to a lackadaisical deus ex machina (i.e. cloning) that subverts the franchise in all the wrong ways. Gone are the hefty stakes, the emotionalism, and the bewilderment, all in lieu of ironic action. That’s not to say it isn’t fun or of quality. To the studio’s credit, they tapped some extraordinary talent for their fourth go-around, hiring The City of Lost Children visionary Jean-Pierre Jeunet and then-rising screenwriter Joss Whedon, who both take some major creative liberties to make this their own thing. But that’s what, in turn, makes the film so complicated: Because for as ludicrous as it gets — and yes, this film turns batshit crazy super fast — there’s still enough to appreciate on its own. The underwater sequence, the xenomorph escape, Brad Dourif, the whole “kill me” sequence…’ — Consequence of Sound


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Ronny Yu Bride of Chucky (1998)
‘Clever is the word that comes to mind when I think of the mixture of horror and comedy that makes up a good deal of BRIDE OF CHUCKY, much of the humor due to some good one-liners by Chucky (courtesy of BRAD DOURIF’s voice). And JENNIFER TILLY does an exceptional job as a dim-witted, evil partner of the doll eventually turned into a doll herself who is just as manic as her boyfriend. NICK STABILE and KATHERINE HEIGL are the leads, the unsuspecting victims of much of the mayhem, who have to confront the evil they’re dealing with which leads toward a cemetery in Hackensack where the evil dolls hope to retrieve an amulet from a corpse that will restore their original bodies. It’s photographed expertly, well directed by Ronny Yu and there’s an unusual amount of range to the expressions on both dolls that make them seem eerily real. The final scene in the cemetery is guaranteed to give you a final startled moment.’ — Neil Doyle


Trailer


Bride of Chucky Q&A

 

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Peter Jackson The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
‘In Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films, Gríma was played by Brad Dourif. Here, he is depicted as dark-haired, emaciated and eyebrowless, wearing black robes with dark fur, as well as being extremely pale and gaunt (the only detail coming from the book). According to Dourif, Jackson encouraged him to shave off his eyebrows so that the audience would immediately have a subliminal reaction of unease to the character.’ — Fandom


Excerpt


LOTR, Brad Dourif behind-the-scenes

 

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Werner Herzog The Wild Blue Yonder (2005)
‘Within the canon of such awe-inspiring epics as Fitzcarraldo and Aguirre: Wrath of God, the wilfully whimsical Wild Blue Yonder may perhaps be seen as not a ‘significant’ Herzog movie. Made in 2005 (the same year as Grizzly Man) and billed as ‘a science fiction fantasy’, it is a deceptively slight affair which mischievously hijacks documentary footage of space travel and underwater exploration and reworks it into a fanciful tale of alien invasion. Wild-haired, crazy-eyed, snaggle-toothed cult star Brad Dourif is our extraterrestrial host, his lilting lunatic tones (eerily reminiscent of his demonic Patient X in The Exorcist III) reciting a narrative of failed colonisation and doomed exploration. ‘You see aliens as these technologically advanced superbeings who can destroy New York City in two minutes flat,’ he rants, standing in front of the derelict buildings and trailer parks which his fellow doomed Andromedans intended as the centre of their earthbound civilisation. ‘Well, I hate to tell you this, but we aliens all suck!” — The Guardian


Trailer


Excerpt

 

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Rob Zombie Halloween (2007)
‘As an actor, Dourif has that ’70s cache that Zombie loves, having been nominated for an Oscar for playing Billy Bibbit in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, as well as boasting a number of horror credits: in addition to voicing the murderous doll Chucky in all of the Child’s Play films, Dourif appeared in Tobe Hooper’s Spontaneous Combustion, the Stephen King adaptation Graveyard Shift, Body Parts, The Exorcist III, Grim Prairie Tales, Critters 4, Alien Resurrection, Urban Legend…the list goes on. He’s a guy with bona fides, and when Zombie cast him as the (largely ineffectual) Sheriff Brackett it seemed like just another example of the director filling every part with a familiar face. He’s fine in the movie, but is mostly on hand because Rob Zombie wanted Brad Dourif in his movie and not because the role is particularly demanding.’ — F This Movie


Trailer

 

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Rob Zombie Halloween II (2009)
‘Dourif’s Sheriff Brackett is Annie’s father, and their early scenes have such a warmth and lived-in familiarity that it’s impossible not to be drawn into their lives as real people, not just the standard slasher movie victim characters. Though he looks his usual crazy self — long hair, handlebar mustache, bugged out eyes — Dourif is soft and lovable. There’s a great scene during which he teases the girls about ordering a pizza where you get the sense that he has created a home for the girls that feels safe without being jittery. But where Dourif really shines — and what makes Zombie’s Halloween II a fascinating horror movie and so much better than its (terrible) reputation — is after Annie is killed and he comes home to find her body. Zombie makes an interesting choice (removed from the theatrical version of the movie, one of many reasons his director’s version is far superior) to intercut the moment with actual VHS footage of Danielle Harris as a little girl. It’s devastating, and Dourif’s reactions rip your heart out. The realization that his little girl is gone — and that no matter how how he tried, he was unable to protect her — is the thing that really resonates about Zombie’s movie, more than any savage beheading or ghostly white horse imagery. There is so much pain in the moment, in the performance, in all of Halloween II, as Zombie infuses a sense of humanity amidst his usual grimy, bloody aesthetic. It’s a slasher movie about real people. Dourif is the realest among them.’ — F This Movie


Halloween II Interview – Brad Dourif

 

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Werner Herzog Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009)
‘Werner Herzog’s “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call, New Orleans” creates a dire portrait of a rapist, murderer, drug addict, corrupt cop and degenerate paranoid who’s very apprehensive about iguanas. It places him in a devastated New Orleans not long after Hurricane Katrina. It makes no attempt to show that city of legends in a flattering light. And it gradually reveals itself as a sly comedy about a snaky but courageous man.’ — Roger Ebert


Trailer

 

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Werner Herzog My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done (2009)
My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done is Werner Herzog’s sardonic, nutso, reimagining of an actual true crime in California perpetrated by a disturbed young man who ran his mother through a sword and then (possibly) held hostages in his flamingo-decorated house in a police stand off. Michael Shannon perfectly inhabits the role of Brad, the large, shambling, mentally unstable crackpot holed up in his home while a detective (Willem Dafoe) outside interviews Brad’s fiancé (Chloe Sevigny), his theater director (Udo Kier), who rehearsed him in a production of Electra, and the neighbors (Loretta Devine, Irma Hall) who witnessed the killing of his mother (Grace Zabriskie). Everything here is surreal, deadpan, dark, more similar in tone to Herzog’s 1977 Stroszek, and there are many scenes of inspired weirdness. A visit to Brad’s uncle (Brad Dourif)’s ostrich farm is particularly unhinged.’ — Paper Magazine


Excerpt

 

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Justin Steele Death and Cremation (2010)
‘I have always been a huge fan of Brad Dourif, and once I found out that he was in “Death and Cremation” I was pretty excited about checking it out. He has owned every role he has ever been in and he doesn’t disappoint this time around either. He is absolutely awesome as Stan, and even though he is a ruthless killer you can’t help but like him. Hell, I was rooting for him the entire time because all of the people that he kills deserve it. Stan is a great character and “Death and Cremation” is great movie.’ — Todd Martin


Trailer

 

 

*

p.s. Hey. So, as I’ve previously mentioned in passing here and there, lucky me is being granted a two-day trip to my favorite amusement park (the Dutch wonderland called Efteling) as a late birthday present. As the two days start very early on Monday morning, that means there won’t be a p.s. on Monday or Tuesday because I will be busily riding rides that entire time. So I will be back, p.s.-wise, to catch up with everyone and everything on Wednesday. ** JM, Hi. Thanks. With any luck, I’ll have ‘WoNfY’ under my belt by the next time I see you. If you have ‘Dream Police’ then you have my ‘Selected Poems’, yes. The Lockhart-titled poem(s) is in it. Thank you for buying my Cycle books too. I appreciate it. Mm, as far as what of my stuff I’d most highly recommend … I’m hugely proud of ‘Permanent Green Light’ but you can’t see that yet, sadly. I’m very proud of my second literary gif novel ‘Zac’s Freight Elevator’. I definitely recommend it. And it’s free and can be yours with a click. My favorite, and I think the best of my novels is ‘The Marbled Swarm’. So there you go. Thank you very much for asking that. You know, I’ve hardly read Henry James. There was a point years back when I was vey curious about his stuff, and I think I started to read one — ‘The Golden Bowl’ — and it was obviously great, but it wasn’t the kind of thing I was hungry for at the time. I should read him, although it feels daunting. He’s one of those writers like Proust where when I say I’ve hardly read him, his fans get all shocked and turn into Bible salesmen types, which has probably contributed to my neglect of his work, ha ha. Anyway, long answer to a short question. Yeah, he seems like a writer where, once you get it, you want to gorge. I’ll be AWOL for a couple of days too. Good timing. Enjoy whatever else you’ll be doing. ** Chris Cochrane, Hi, Chris! How cool to not only get a comment from you but a comment from Vietnam, which has to be a blog first. I want to hear tons about your trip when I see you. I would say you picked a great time to be away from US, but really every time is a great time to be away from there these days if you ask me. Stuff’s good here, yeah. Sending big love back to you, buddy. Enjoy the waning time, and safe trip home. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Remixes of stuff by perfectionist artists like PSB so very rarely create improvements. I like that new beginning of your film. I love quiet, nothing obvious going on scenes (See: ‘PGL’). And, rhythmically, it sounds like an effective strategy too. Late Kinks is pretty spotty, yeah. Post-‘Schoolboys in Disgrace’ something happened. Maybe post-‘Misfits’. ‘Better Things’ is a pretty song. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Helluva songwriter, that Arlen. Belated happy b’day to his remains. Why is that my gay pet rock? Why is he naked and looking for battleship to bomb at the same time? What a strange hunk. ** Ferdinand, Hi, man. Good to see you! Oh, wow, cool. I actually have a fondness and possibly even mild addiction to youtube channels of ‘book reviewers’ — booktubers, nice term — so I’m happy. But, yeah, don’t eat away your writing time, obviously. Great, I’ll go watch your thing and subscribe the second I launch this thing. Everyone, Ferdinand, fine fellow and writer and d.l., has launched a booktube channel! And his first volley is an introduction to Downtown literature, which is inherently interesting. So I highly recommend you click these words and watch/listen/etc. to him cover that exciting ground excitingly. And subscribe to his channel while you’re at it. A no brainer, really. Do that, and thank you!. Yeah, awesome! That’s very cool. I greatly look forward to being your viewer. Take care. ** Jamie, Pitter-pat, Jamie! I’m pretty good, thank you. Oh, wow, what timing on the post and your script. How strange. Gosh, I have no idea what made me do that post. It must have been something really random. I can’t even remember. Maybe it was a psychic pick up from your script. Don’t worry about the script quality, just add mileage. Editing will sort out any chaff. The film script is going really well. The other is still starving on the vine or whatever. I am told that I should be able to de-secretize that project next week, but I have been told that at least a dozen times before. The interview was actually really good. The interviewer/ writer really understood and liked the film and is a smart guy. So Zac and I were pleasantly surprised. Subotnick is one of the last still-living early electronic music composer/pioneers, so getting to see him is pretty ace. My weekend is as much work as I can manage today and then taking off with pals in a rental car tomorrow night to Holland where I will frolick in an amusement park until Tuesday night when I will return to Paris by rental car. I would say it will be a fine weekend. Good luck with your long shift. And, ooh, front row seats at a building demolishing! There’s a collapsed building in ‘PGL’, and we were supposed to be able to film there part way through the demolishing of it so the building would look half-collapsed and teetering, but the demolishment company fucked up and forgot to alert us in time, so we had to go film right after the whole building had been demolished, and it just looks like a big pile of cement and stuff, and I guess collapsed buildings do look like that, but it really does just look like a big pile of mostly white crap. But enjoy yours for me. I haven’t seen those balloons, no. Maybe at the amusement park! That makes sense, right? May your weekend be a Droomvlucht . Tuhinga o mua love, Dennis. ** Wolf, Wolf Queen of Wickedness! Your response singlehanded,y saved Pyrokinesis Day from being just another post the cat dragged in. Well, yes, it’s true that writing a book is a thing. A taxing thing. But it’s true that some writers have this thing where they can just bang a book out, flurry flurry, and it’s fucking great. I don’t know. I just think a book by you would rock. Well, I’m not, like, in love with Ellroy’s prose, and I could been in a snooty mood and shrugged or something, it’s true. But, not being in a snooty mood, I think he’s good. I love Lydia Davis. She’s great, she’s fantastic. And she’s also an absolutely incredible translator of French lit. into English. Maybe the best there is these days. So, yes, big up on Lydia Davis. Fun weekend? In theory and/or in practice? ** Keo, Man, did spellcheck really, really want to change your name to Neo. I practically had to fight to the death to get it to give up changing your name. Interview was good, weirdly. Oh, okay, gotcha about Italy. That makes so much more sense. ** Dóra Grőber, Hi! Oh, thank goodness indeed that you didn’t get sick and especially not that flu. Keep that orange juice flowing. Like I told Jamie, the interview went really well. The guy really paid attention to the film and had very interesting questions and things to say about it. So hopefully the article will be good. Ah, you’re reading Peter Sotos. Yeah, he’s great, totally singular, great writer, and very brave. Awesome! The interview and a bit of work was most of my day, but it was good enough. I hope your weekend flies by but with lots of fantastic details. What happened? ** _Black_Acrylic, True. Well, there’s that guy who suggested you could pyrokinesis to warm up ‘bums’, ha ha. And, you know, there’s always the White House and the Congress. ** Misanthrope, Oh, is that right? Too bad you’re not Aquaman. No, I never search myself on Data Lounge. I don’t believe I’ve ever looked at Data Lounge. Hm. Maybe I’ll get really bored, but I’m kind of weird because I never get bored. It’s weird, but I just never do. Well, except when I was watching ‘Bladerunner 2049’. Work your novel like hell until further notice, man. That’s adamant. ** Jeff J, Hi, Jeff. Good to see you! I haven’t read ‘State of Siege’. Hm. I do like Kippenberger very much. I have had his work in posts here, but not a full day for him. His work is so voluminous and various it seems like it would be hard or a lot of work to represent him well. But I should try shouldn’t I? I will. All is good here. The secret project is vexing me right now, but I’ll find a way into it. I’m not worried. I’m just a bit too addicted to working on the new film script, I think. What are you up to, bud? ** Sypha, Hi. Oh, was S.T. Joshi in that post? I must have been poorly spacing out when building it. I’ll re-find his thing. ** H, Hi, pal. Very nice to see you! Busyness I well understand. I hope it’s all going well. And enjoy the snow! ** Bill, Hi, B. Oh, the magazine is AnOther Magazine. Fire simulation is a pain. We had an idea at one point to do that for a bit in ‘PGL’, but we were told it would look like shit and to drop it entirely if we could, which we did. I hope those fires get put the hell out. Out enough for you to have a sweet weekend. **  I decided it would nice thing to draw your attention to Brad Dourif this weekend. The blog will see you on Monday and Tuesday, as always, and I’ll see you as a living-breathing typer again on Wednesday. The very best to you all until then.

16 Comments

  1. Thanks for the positive response to the booktube thing. I remember a while ago on youtube stumbling on some guy reading from Try, his favourite book, half in bed smoking pot and coughing while reading from your book. While looking for it I instead found a few booktubers discussing your books. Just to give you a kind of idea of the aesthetic and general mellowness of some of these youtuber bookreviewers.

    A pretty good review of Frisk
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=pUYb26Pte1Q

    The sluts feautured in The most disturbing books Ive read (at 05:00) by Stitches
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?t=323s&v=H8Xalokg2XA

    The sluts feautured in a book wrapup of a relatively well watched booktube channel (at 09:06)
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=quo4ECk_4HU

    Have a good weekend.

  2. David Ehrenstein

    February 17, 2018 at 3:21 pm

    Great Brad Dourif Day! I was just thinking about him as he popped up on a :Law and Order SVU” episode that was rerun last night (They get the best actors. In one episode they had Isabelle Huppert AND Sharon Stone.) Brad’s masterpiece is “Wise Blood” in which he’s supported by the unspeakably gorgeous Dan Schor (a major obsession of mine)

    I thought that naked navy serviceman would be just the thing for you, Dennis.

    Tomorrow I turn 71.

  3. Dennis, yeah, Joshi’s name came up at the very start of the Day, when he complained how King’s creation of the term pyrokinesis made no sense, linguistically speaking.

    Hey, an actor I’ve not only heard of, but have seen in multiple movies! I liked his character in the LORD OF THE RINGS films.

  4. 167 roles, wow! Though I assume most of these are in low-budget B-movies that don’t pay very well.

    At Dutch amusement parks, do they sell pot at cafes inside? I’m guessing not, but it would make standing in line all day more interesting.

    I am just not sure how to write “{the character} wanders around his apartment, smoking a cigarette, for 30 seconds looking nervous and pensive, eventually settling in front of his desk” in a script in a way that I could effectively communicate to an actor. Obviously, I will talk about this part of the film to both the actor and cinematographer at length well before the shoot.

  5. Dennis, Dourif is one of those dudes, for me, who I’ve seen in so many things and didn’t know his name. On weekends, I stay up really late and usually end up watching old Star Treks on BBC America. They play a lot of the original, Next Generation, and Voyager episodes. He is good, no? I like that he just works works works.

    Like I said, I rarely go to Data Lounge at all. Every once in a great while, I’ll search something and thread will pop up from there and I’ll look at it. I’m thinking I’ve maybe looked there three times in the last 15 years, twice while searching for a title someone’s mentioned somewhere else…and your name came up on there. The other time was recently for Timothee Chalamet.

    I can’t search myself on Google at all. There’s a wine company, St. George Wines, that pops up for pages if I do. Besides, I’ve not really done anything worthy of getting a lot of search results. Yet. 😀

    (And not that I really care either. I really don’t. Just a curiosity, though.)

    You know, I don’t get bored either. And I don’t get lonely. I’ve just got so much stuff that interests me, you know. I do wonder, though, if that wouldn’t be a bit different if I lived by myself. I have friend who does, and she’s always lonely. But that’s her. I’m pretty sure I’d be finding all types of shit to do like I do now.

    Yes, this novel has priority in my life right now.

    One thing I never realized (probably because I’m really old) is that my phone has a nice little “Memo” thing on it. When something pops up in my head regarding this novel, I can just jot it down. Why it took me so long to realize that was on my little quaint phone, I don’t know.

  6. David Ehrenstein

    February 17, 2018 at 6:42 pm

    I haven’t gone to Datalounge in eons. the last time was during the Kevin Spacey “scandal” when he was caught fucking Bryan Singer’s boytoy on the set of “The Usual Suspects.”

    Regarding Henry James (talk about a change of subject!) the Big One is “the Wings of the Dove.” I’d advise trying his short stories like “The Turn of he Screw” (which has a surrounding story few ever talk about) and “The Jolly Corner” — another ghost story. I’d also recommend such shorter novels as “The Sacred Fount” (which is sort of James’ take on “Dorian Gray”) and “What Maisie Knew.”

  7. I was just thinking the same as Misanthrope; I’ve seen quite a few of these movies, but Dourif has never been on my radar. Ok, I have to see One Flew Over… soon, and not just for that scene, I swear.

    Yeah, I can’t imagine trying to get a fire simulation to look ok in a live action film. I was just trying to fake it in a more abstract setting.

    Hope the Dutch outing has gone well by the time you read this, Dennis…

    Bill

  8. Just in case you check in here before you leave – Have a lovely trip, Dennis! Hope it’s everything you want and more! I’ll post a proper hello later.
    Bon voyage!
    Jamie

  9. Hey Dennis,

    Hope you’re screaming your head off on all those rides, in the best possible way.
    Had no idea that Brad Dourif had all these different roles under his belt. What a career! Will def comb thru all these clips and such, esp those Herzog ones (still have never seen his narrative stuff; also those Chucky flicks).
    Super wish i could have seen PBS/Rapp live, his voice must have been so amazingly intimate in that setting.
    I have been good. Working on the book and doing class stuff. I just back from a camping trip w my brothers, my bf and some friends. Which was a lot of fun. Saved a lot of little details for story stuff. One of the best parts was the fire. It was so damn cold we spent 99% of the time around it, shootin the shit, getting high/drunk. One night they wanted spooky music to accentuate the hauntedness of the campsite so we put on NWW, Residents, Goblin etc. but it peaked w all of us sitting dead silent, staring into the fire, listening to the ghost story monologue from Carpenter’s The Fog. Very spooky. Lot of fun. Other than that not much going on.
    btw great escort post the other day.
    Im reading Try rn and i had a question for you: Calhoun’s dreams are a really fascinating device, how did you come up with that? Like why did you decide to use that as a part of the text’s fabric? It’s woven in really well. And maybe that’s just a smaller-question-part to a general, how did you come up w the plot/story of Try? It has an atmosphere that fits and feels singular in the Cycle.
    Anyways, sending you much fun vibes back thru time from when you’re reading this.
    sincerely,
    Cal

  10. I think I came up on David’s posts in Datalounge when I was googling rumors about Elijah Wood and Dominic Monaghan being lovers, which seemed to have their origins in slash fiction that fangirls desperately want to be real.

    Here are my thoughts on Michael Stuhlbarg’s CMBYM performance: http://murielcommunity.blogspot.com/2018/02/2017-muriel-awards-best-supporting.html?m=1. I swear that I am not taking every chance I can to bash this film but the Muriels assigned me to write about this performance and I thought it would be dishonest not to say that I think it stands out in a film I otherwise dislike.

  11. Haha! Like to keep you on your toes. Brad Dourif, Third/First favorite X-Files villain after Tooms and Pusher. “Born to fuck luscious Italian asshole.” Can’t wait.
    Have a great trip and happy belated birthday.

  12. Haha, great timing, my AWOL-ness was shorter than expected and I got back in time for the latest post! I was in a small town slightly removed from the main city I live in, in a very old very dusty house filled with all sorts of battered books and quaint belongings. I tried reading some of The Canterbury Tales while I was there and put it down pretty fast.

    Sorry to be a pain, but where do I actually find Zac’s Freight Elevator? I loved what I’ve seen of the gif short stories etc. posted on the blog. I’ll make sure The Marbled Swarm is next on my book-buying list! On the Henry James front, sure, it’s a daunting task. I can recommend a few of his short stories! THE JOLLY CORNER is maybe 30 or 40 pages long and one of the best short stories I’ve ever read. Yes, the Henry James fans seem almost as frustrating as the Henry James haters. Strange how literary groups can be so decisive and judgmental about such banal things as their own opinions.

    Have a great and relaxing AWOLperiod.
    J

  13. Hey, on Brad Dourif. He hated SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION by Tobe Hooper, but I’m fairly certain that Tobe Hooper is my absolute favorite artist – of all time – in any medium. That’s a beautiful film with a gloriously idiocentric performance from Dourif, so abstract and expressionist and bizarrely compromised…

  14. Hi Dennis,
    I’m just writing to you with an update regarding Pierre Buisson (Pierre Martinelli). I understand that Cadinot has passed, but there’s a gentleman named François Orenn who worked closely with Cadinot, and did the scoring for Aime Comme Minet under the name Myriam Zadeck. He has a Facebook page as well. I’m sure he knows a lot about Pierre Buisson and whatever became of him. I’d contact him, but he’d probably respond to you. Btw I like Buisson, but I’m more of a fan of Cadinot’s models, Alexandre Del Faro from Charmants Cousins and Christian LePage from Stop.

  15. Bill got me Blu-Rays of “Funny Face” and “The Grifters” for my B-Day!

    Dennis are you familiar with the publisher FVW (6 bis rue des Moins Paris 7017 331462788 12)? They put out photography books and may be an ideal birth for the book I’m assembling of my work.

  16. Oh wow I just watched Threads for the first time. That has to be the bleakest, most horrifying film anyone’s ever made, and I just want to silently sit in a darkened room for a while. But enjoy Efteling a whole lot and I’ll no doubt feel more talkative tomorrow.

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