The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Ellen Burstyn Day



‘When compiling a list of the greatest film actresses of all time, it is hard to deny the sterling work actress Ellen Burstyn has compiled over the last 30 years. While not reaching the same level of popular success as Meryl Streep or Jane Fonda, Burstyn never the less has created a name for herself as an actor’s actor, providing stunning performances in film, TV, and the theatre.

‘In 1957, Burstyn made her Broadway debut in Fair Game. The 1960’s would see her appear in a variety of television shows such as The Doctors, Perry Mason, Maverick, 77 Sunset Strip, and Gunsmoke. After studying at the Actors Studio, she got her big break in Peter Bogdanovich’s The Last Picture Show (1971), which garnered her Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for best supporting actress. This would be followed by another supporting role next to Jack Nicholson in The King of Marvin Gardens (1972), and a second Oscar nomination, this time as Best Lead Actress, in the ground breaking horror classic The Exorcist (1973).

‘Burstyn would go on to finally snag the Oscar for her role as a single mother in Martin Scorsese’s Alice Doesn’t Live Here Aymore (1974). That same year, she would also win a Tony Award for Same Time, Next Year, a role she would reprise for the big screen 1978, and would once again be nominated for an Oscar. Another nomination would follow for Resurrection (1980). Despite her success in the 1970’s, Burstyn would find it hard to find work in Hollywood during the 1980’s, and opted to for roles in TV productions instead, receiving Emmy nominations for The People VS Jean Harris (1981) and Pack of Lies (1987), and also starring in her own sitcom titled The Ellen Burstyn Show. It would only last one season.

‘The 1990’s and onwards would see Burstyn play supporting roles – usually as a maternal figure – in films such as How to Make an American Quilt, The Spitfire Grill, and The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. However, Burstyn would prove to have at least one more powerful performance left in her, with a startling portrayal of a speed addicted elderly widow in Darren Aronofsky’s potent anti-drug film Requiem for a Dream. Burstyn is remarkable as a lonely widower who – after given the news that she will appear in a future episode of her favourite TV show – decides to lose weight in order to fit into her favourite red dress. She would be robbed at the Oscars by Julia Roberts in her role as Erin Brokovich.’ —





Ellen Burstyn @ IMDb
Ellen Burstyn @ Wikipedia
Ellen Burstyn @ film reference
Ellen Burstyn: U.S. Acting ‘Needs Some Help’
‘The Big Interview: Ellen Burstyn’
‘Remain in Light: An Interview with Ellen Burstyn’ @ PopMatters
Ellen Burstyn Facebook page
Ellen Burstyn Knowledge Base
Book: Ellen Burstyn’s ‘Lessons in Becoming Myself’



Ellen Burstyn signing autographs

Julia Roberts vs. Ellen Burstyn

Ellen Burstyn interviews Hubert Selby Jr. (w/ Russian voiceover)

Conversations with Ellen Burstyn



from The Guardian


You went to the Actor’s Studio. Can you say a little bit about that experience, and what you think you drew from that.

Ellen Burstyn: I went to Los Angeles – not because I wanted to, but because my husband dragged me there, and I was working in television and I did some films, and my career was sort of advancing. And then I got a good part, a co-starring part, not a starring part, in a movie called Goodbye Charlie, with Debbie Reynolds and Walter Matthau and Tony Curtis.

I was sitting on the set one day and I had been sort of assembled. I was wearing an old wig of Shirley MacLaine’s and Debbie Reynolds’ brother Bill painted my face in a way that I almost recognised and I had this lovely dress, and I felt kind of put together to fit this character. And I was sitting on the set, Vincente Minnelli was the director, and I looked around, it was at 20th Century Fox, and I said to myself, ‘Alright. This is it. This is the big-time’, the next step would be to play the Debbie Reynolds part. And a voice in my head said, ‘I don’t want it.’

And I was absolutely startled. There was no thought process that led up to it at that time that said I didn’t like the path I was on. It was just at that moment. I knew I didn’t like the way my career was developing… not just my career, but my talent. So when the film was over, I packed up my things and left California and went back to New York and met Lee and started his private classes. I didn’t go straight into the Actor’s Studio, I studied with Lee for several years before I auditioned for the Actors’ Studio and got in – and working for him was one of the most important experiences of my life.

That period during the early 1970s we now tend to see as a very significant time for American cinema. A time when there was a sense of there being a new energy. Did it feel like that then?

EB: Well, you know, I remember a couple of years ago reading something in a newspaper about the ‘golden age’ of cinema in the 1970s and I thought, ‘Was it? I had no idea. Someone should have told us when we were doing it!’ But it was a very fertile and fervent time in America. It was the time of the Vietnam war and the protests and everybody was very fired up – with LSD too – and Watergate, and all of the things that were going on at the time in the country.

And we were all very active with this new energy. I think that somebody said once that only a small percentage of the population needs to do something like take LSD and everybody goes into an altered state. And I think that happened in America at that time. There was a sense that we were really contributing to culture and government and to what was happening. So I think that the cinema reflected that. I don’t think that it was only happening in the cinema, but what was happening in the cinema was in the context of the time.

Can you tell us about working with Alain Resnais on ‘Providence’?

EB: He’s so wonderful! I guess more than any man I’ve ever known he’s a gentleman. He’s so elegant. He has a very unique way of directing. He casts the film and then brings the actors together for two weeks, you rehearse every day and go over the script and you say if you want anything re-written. Then the script is finally finished – no more changes – and all the scenes have been played. Then he goes away for two days and edits the film in his head.

So he only shoots exactly what will be on screen. So there is nothing on his cutting room floor. So in a scene where I’m talking and he’s going to show Sandra nodding and shaking her head, he’ll only shoot that and I’m heard off camera. I’ve never worked with any other director who works like that. It’s completely unique to him.


19 of Ellen Burstyn’s 161 roles

Joseph Strick Tropic of Cancer (1970)
‘Three years after cinematizing James Joyce’s long-censored Ulysses, Joseph Strick mounted an adaptation of another racy literary work — Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer. The movie had difficulty synthesizing Miller’s sense of sacred and profane in harmony. The film tried to evoke its literary roots, now with a Rip Torn voice-over consisting of Miller’s actual prose, then with some poetic shots of the beauty of Paris, but it never really seemed to succeed. The late 60s and early 70s were a time when filmmakers were casting off their yokes and flexing their muscles in terms of explicit sexuality, and this film was one of the most daring American films of the era. It is also shocking to see Ellen Burstyn in such a flagrant display of nudity. I suppose you know that she has been nominated for six Oscars, winning one for Alice Doesn’t Live Here Any More. All of those more modest roles came after her total frontal nudity in this movie. Tropic of Cancer has value as a historical curio, some of the locales are accurately evocative.’ —



Peter Bogdanovich The Last Picture Show (1971)
‘When The Last Picture Show opened in 1971, it created a sensation. I saw it on its first engagement in New York, where audiences crowded in with the eagerness reserved, these days, for teenage action pictures. It felt new and old at the same time. Bogdanovich, a film critic and acolyte of Welles, shot in black and white, which gave the film a timelessness, then and now. He used a soundtrack entirely made up of pop songs, which was something new (Scorsese had tried it with his first film, in 1967). It was mostly Hank Williams who provided the soundtrack for these lives, and Bogdanovich used real sources in the scenes for the music — radios, jukeboxes — where “Cold, Cold Heart” and “Why Don’t You Love Me (Like You Used to Do)” commented directly on the action. The film has an unadorned honesty that came as a jolt after the pyrotechnics of the late 1960s. While the Easy Rider generation was celebrating a heedless freedom, Bogdanovich went back to the directness and simplicity of Ford, who he admired no less than Welles.’ — Roger Ebert


Selected scenes


Bob Rafelson The King of Marvin Gardens (1972)
‘For his electrifying follow-up to the smash success Five Easy Pieces, Bob Rafelson dug even deeper into the crushed dreams of wayward America. Jack Nicholson and Bruce Dern play estranged siblings David and Jason, the former a depressive late-night-radio talk show host, the latter an extroverted con man; when Jason drags his younger brother to a dreary Atlantic City and into a real-estate scam, events spiral toward tragedy. The King of Marvin Gardens, also starring a brilliant Ellen Burstyn as Jason’s bitter aging beauty-queen squeeze, is one of the most devastating character studies of the seventies.’ — The Criterion Collection




William Friedken The Exorcist (1973)
‘I think for the most part, The Exorcist is a drama (which it succeeds at) about a mother trying to figure out what is the matter mentally with her daughter. It’s really up to Ellen Burstyn to set a dramatic foundation for the film, while Linda Blair adds the horror foundation. Actually, Ellen Burstyn does alot in this film, besides fighting the demon inside her daughter. I was quite surprised when I originally watched The Exorcist, and saw that Ellen Burstyn really took her work seriously here. She adds little ticks and facets to Chris, making her caring, if a little high strong woman who doesn’t like being under pressure. She’s holds nothing back, even in her quietest moment, Burstyn grabs hold of Chris’s grief and utter confusion.’ — Sage Slowdive

Ellen Burstyn on why the film is still scary



Martin Scorcese Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974)
‘The film is an American comedy of the sort of vitality that dazzles European film critics and we take for granted. It’s full of attachments and associations to very particular times and places, even in the various regional accents of its characters. It’s beautifully written and acted, but it’s not especially neatly tailored. At the center of the movie and giving it a visible sensibility is Miss Burstyn, one of the few actresses at work today who is able to seem appealing, tough, intelligent, funny, and bereft, all at approximately the same moment. It’s Miss Burstyn’s movie and part of the enjoyment of the film is in the director’s apparent awareness of this fact.’ — Vincent Canby




Alain Resnais Providence (1977)
‘Over a drunken, tormented night, dying writer Clive Langham (John Gielgud) struggles with the plot of a novel. The characters are based on Langham’s own family, who are depicted as spiteful, treacherous and decadent. Langham makes these people interact in a variety of settings – courtrooms, mortuaries, werewolf-haunted forests. The film contains a unique variety of visual techniques which illustrate Langham’s internal editing of his material. We watch one scene evolve, and after several minutes, Langham decides that the dialogue is all wrong. The scene is performed again with different dialogue accompanying the basic actions of the scene. The most unusual example of internal editing is a scene between Dirk Bogarde and Ellen Burstyn. Burstyn enters the frame on the left side through a door. The camera then follows the characters in one continuous shot as they walk to the other side of the room, as their conversation progresses. In the end, Burstyn returns to the side of the room where the door was. Now the door is gone, and she must descend a flight of stairs for her exit from the scene.’ — Wiki


the entirety


Jules Dassin A Dream of Passion (1978)
‘At a time when most movies try so little, there’s something to be said for a movie that tries to do too much. Some of Dassin’s indiscriminately aimed darts manage to hit the bull’s eye. Mercouri is more restrained than usual, and she has riveting moments… However, the most effective moments belong to Ellen Burstyn as the simple, uneducated housewife who went berserk when she learned that her husband planned to leave her for a younger woman. Burstyn makes the monstrous comprehensible. In contemplating the tragedy of a woman who built her life around her husband, we feel both pity and terror. In its horrific, extreme way the film reflects all the recent questioning of the religion of domesticity.’ — Stephen Farber


Daniel Petrie Resurrection (1980)
‘Released at a time when psychic auras, near-death experiences, and Kirlian photography were all the rage among early New Age proponents, Resurrection achieves a spiritual depth rarely found in Hollywood movies. In one of her finest performances, Ellen Burstyn stars as Edna McCauley, a transplanted farm girl who develops healing powers following an accident that left her widowed and paralyzed. Returning to her Kansas homeland, she attracts awe and controversy, performing healings while deflecting any pretense of religion. Resurrection tenuously mixes spiritual significance with John Ford’s homespun tradition, but for the most part it works: Burstyn superbly conveys Edna’s heartfelt determination, and both she and stage veteran Eva LeGallienne (in a rare and final film performance, as Edna’s grandma) deservedly earned Oscar nominations.— Jeff Cannon

Near-death sequence



George Schaefer The People vs. Jean Harris (1981)
‘Jean Harris’s 1981 trial for murdering her famed cardiologist boyfriend captivated the nation and inspired several telefilms. Hollywood grabbed on to the national event; the telefilm The People vs. Jean Harris, a two-part, four hour film, premiered in 1981, and earned star Ellen Burstyn both Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for her turn in the title role.’ — Hollywood Reporter

the entirety


Lee David Zlotoff The Spitfire Grill (1996)
‘“The Spitfire Grill” won the audience award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, which says less for the audience than for the movie. It’s an unabashedly manipulative, melodramatic tearjerker with plot twists that Horatio Alger would have been embarrassed to use, and the fact that it’s so well acted only confuses the issue.’ — Roger Ebert




Darren Aronofsky Requiem for a Dream (2000)
‘Strapped into a fat suit, she is so bloated that her walk becomes a waddle. Her hair, expressed by a grotesque series of wigs, eventually turns into a crinkled bride-of-Frankenstein nimbus. As her character goes insane, her eyes dart and squint and finally wash out into a dead daze. ”Unflattering” is too wimpy a euphemism to describe Ellen Burstyn’s transformation into tormented diet-pill addict Sara Goldfarb in Requiem for a Dream. She disintegrates in front of your eyes. ”Here’s a woman in her 60s who allows the camera to be an inch from her face — without makeup, or with makeup making her look worse than she does,” marvels director Darren Aronofsky. ”You find me a 22-year-old actor who doesn’t have an issue with that.”’ — Entertainment Weekly


The monologue


Neil LaBute The Wicker Man (2006)
‘How fun to take a nearly throwaway comment by Julius Caesar with zero corroborating evidence and stir up an entire mythology about it leading to a brilliant twisty British film of 1973 that gets updated and remade into a USA mystery thriller in 2006. For the update, directed and written by Neil LaBute, we have California police motorcycle officer, Edward Malus (Nicholas Cage) who is depressed and forlorn because he was unable to rescue to victims of a horrendous car crash from their fiery death, being called to a tiny island in Puget Sound by his long, lost fiancée to find her missing daughter Rowan. Upon arrival at the secret refuge colony under the charge of Sister Summersisle (Ellen Burstyn), he finds this bee-deviled island ruled by women with men in strictly subservient positions and used mainly for procreation. Ellen Burstyn turns in a delightfully wicked portrayal as Sister Summersisle, the island’s matriarch and direct link to Mother Earth.’ —


Weird montage of EB’s scenes w/ techno overlay


Darren Aronofsky The Fountain (2006)
‘Critical reception for The Fountain has been nothing short of bloodthirsty, with Cannes audiences booing, but there are elements to enjoy here, even if the premise throws one for a loop. Ellen Burstyn (who earned an Oscar nomination for Requiem for a Dream) delivers a typically solid performance as Jackman’s boss in the present day sequence, and special effects (most done without the benefit of CGI) are also impressive given the film’s low budget (spurred by a mid-production shutdown after original stars Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett ankled the picture). And science-fiction fans whose tastes run towards the metaphysical (Asimov, Le Guin) will appreciate the attempt to present the genre in a serious light.’ — Paul Gaity



Oliver Stone W. (2008)
‘Oliver Stone’s latest effort is largely defensible, but – really – is George W. Bush? (That’s mostly a rhetorical question.) Besides, a defense of Bush isn’t what Stone’s after either. His film is “sympathetic” insofar as it concedes that Bush is, in fact, a human being – who likes sports and country music and has some family issues – and it’s “critical” insofar as it re-enacts, or alludes to, Bush’s greatest misses, from his notoriously less-than-impressive pre-political career to the on-going quagmire in Iraq.’ — Josh Timmerman


Ellen Burstyn on Being Barbra Bush in Oliver Stone’s W


Deborah Chow Flowers in the Attic (2014)
‘Last night, Lifetime aired its ridiculous adaptation of V.C. Andrews’ pulp tale of incest and other parenting no-nos, Flowers in the Attic. It wasn’t wrong. Over six million people watched Heather Graham’s crazy eyes and Ellen Burstyn’s scenery chewing.’ — Rich Juzwiak



Matthew Barney River of Fundament (2014)
‘When Norman Mailer released Ancient Evenings in 1983, critics were not kind. Words like “disaster” and “ludicrous” were tossed around; its tale of reincarnation in ancient Egypt was accused of providing “unintended hilarity.” In basing his new work, a three-part filmed “opera” called River of Fundament, loosely on this novel, Matthew Barney surely knows he’s inviting the same response: Overlong, willfully obscure and scatologically extreme, the film will elicit a variety of negative responses despite offering some individual elements that, on their own, would surely impress any of Barney’s admirers. Characters are played both by actual members of Mailer’s orbit — Dick Cavett and Fran Lebowitz are among the artists and writers at the wake — and by actors: Paul Giamatti is a pharaoh; Maggie Gyllenhaal and Ellen Burstyn play two versions of Hathfertiti, the human conduit for Mailer’s rebirths.’ — Hollywood Reporter



Christopher Nolan Interstellar (2014)
‘If you’ve taken up the search for juicy plotlines from Christopher Nolan’s much-anticipated film “Interstellar,” you’re probably going to be out of luck. Ellen Burstyn joked Friday on HuffPost Live that cast members had to “sign in blood” to seal their commitment to safeguard details. “We have all promised we would not say a word, so there’s not very much I can say, except to tell you that I have a pretty small part in a very big film,” she told host Ricky Camilleri. “Don’t expect to see a lot of me.” She did make a point of mentioning that she had “not been cut out,” which she learned after seeing Matthew McConaughey at this year’s Emmys. The actor also told Burstyn the film is “fantastic and wonderful.” Other than that, the 80-year-old “Exorcist” actress and “Bathing Flo” director couldn’t share much more about the film. “It has to do with space. That’s safe enough. [And] it’s big,” she said.’ — Huffpost




Todd Solondz Wiener-Dog (2016)
‘If the “will” is the “thing that makes you you,” then breaking that will is tyrannical. Maybe a broken will is necessary to the social contract, as well as a part of the human condition, but there’s hardly any comfort in that. Todd Solondz doesn’t care about the audience’s comfort and his films have a ruthless, unblinking stare, almost refreshing in their uncompromising attitude (especially in comparison with the industry’s pathological desire for happy endings). Solondz rarely provides escape hatches. He presents reality, or reality as he sees it. Reality can be hilarious, absurd, touching. It can also be an exercise in futility. With all its humor (and there is a ton), “Wiener-Dog,” following the journey of a dachshund as it is shuffled from owner to owner, is one of Solondz’s sharpest visions of futility. Ellen Burstyn is the final owner of the dog. An invalid, hidden behind dark sunglasses, she tolerates the visit of her twitchy anxious granddaughter Zoe (Zosia Mamet), artist boyfriend named Fantasy (Michael James Shaw) in tow. Zoe is eager to please, on the edge of tears, babbling about Fantasy’s art (“I’m interested in mortality,” announces Fantasy) and afraid of her formidable humorless grandmother (as well she should be). The scene, and the one that follows, is sweeping and surreal in its evocation of regret, loss, and roads not taken.’ — Roger Ebert




Mark Pellington Nostalgia (2018)
Nostalgia wins all the awards for good intentions, but the film rarely hits a note that isn’t false.’ — Daniel Barnes




p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Our art is our only shot. It’s a crapshoot, but … I don’t know of Joseph Epstein, but, yeah, he sounds like a real charmer. Everyone, Mr. E has memorialised the late photographer and bon vivant Peter Beard on his FaBlog here. ** Tosh Berman, Hi, Tosh. So great, and the way he works with photographs, incredible, yeah. I’ll certainly try the new Apple, but I think I’ll wait until after almost everyone keeps typing raves re: it into my FB feed every 10 seconds ‘cos I can feel the chip growing on my shoulder. Sounds curious in your report though, I’ll say that. The Shangri-Las are a magic word for sure. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi. Thanks a lot for listening to my blab with Chris, and of course for getting stuff out of it. Chris is so great and such a pleasure too speak with. Oh, wow, David Robbins … I haven’t thought about him in a while. That’s interesting. Bon day, bud. ** Corey Heiferman, There are more of us late blooming scribes than one would imagine. I’ll eat pretty much any style cold sesame noodle, or rather shovel it in, but I am picky if I have a choice. Zac’s are sublime. My ultra-favorite is Szechwan style. I could die just thinking about eating them, so I should stop thinking about them. I like tahini of course, and, under the current circumstances, I mean I would eat cold sesame noodle that’s just cold noodles with a jar of peanut butter mixed probably. Terrible that a screenplay is supposed to sell a film. That’s why 90% of films suck. If there is indeed a lot of Joni Mitchell in the Apple album I am almost certainly going to hate it. Tiny Mixtapes is hugely missed. I really hope they come to their senses and restart. There isn’t really another site with that kind of auterish, wacked out, irritating (occasionally in quotes) music crit that I’ve found. I’m relying on The Wire and a bunch of groups on social media dedicated to experimental new music and the tips of likeminded friends. But, yeah, TMT really should exist. ** Bill, He’s a biggie, that’s for pretty much sure. Ooh, I need to go experience more Peter Woods. I will. Oh, its an eBook. No sweat then. I mean, 80% of what I read over here are pdfs and eBooks. Cool. Will do. Thanks! ** Raymond, Hi, Raymond! Welcome back! Excellence to see you! Good move on the internet judiciousness. I’m so bored under lockdown that I don’t I could save myself in that fashion at the moment. How are you? What’s up? What have you been researching? ** JM, Hey, Josiah! Thanks for propping ‘Closer’ on you-know-where. That was heartening. Good, good about April 28th. The degree of reopening sounds sensible. We have yet to be told precisely what our May 11 reopening will allow. I think we’ll get the actual low-down in a week or two. I wouldn’t be surprised if ours is much like yours. You guys famously have the best Prime Minister in the world, or almost everyone outside of New Zealand seems to think so, and I’ve seen not a shred of evidence to counteract that rep. I think I’ll make it through these last three weeks. I’m a busy body, so I always find something. It’s been great for the blog. I’ve got posts set up well into June now, which is unprecedented. Find interest and memories in your last locked down days. For sure this is a thing that all of us will remember with heaviness and psychological richness galore. Love, me. ** Dominik, Hi, Dom!!! You have to find the right cold sesame noodle to be abducted into its religion. When you eventually make a trip over here to Paris, I know Zac would be happy to make you his version, which is very persuasive. No, we love our film producer. He’s great and wonderful. The problematic producer(s) are the TV project one(s). Yeah, technically he looked right for porn stardom, but he was so intensely self-conscious and uncomfortable, which is why his porns only work as documentary footage parts of his story. Your day sounds it rocked hard enough. I … walked, bought cigs and food. I Skyped with a gallerist who wants to show my GIF stuff. I ate cold sesame noodle, which was the best part. Zac and our producer and I finished the video thing and sent it off to the grant committee. We’ll see. Unless the committee is super conventional and wants to fund really normal films, which is possible, I think we sold our film in a strange but persuasive way. We’ll hear one way or another next week. I can’t remember what else happened. What day is it … Tuesday. Anything excite or get under your skin in the past 24 hours? Ha ha, nice love. Love that’s 14 years old and lives in LA and starts simultaneously crying and dancing like a maniac when this song/video suddenly starts playing, Dennis. ** schlix, Hi, Uli! Oh, wow, cool that the original posting of yesterday’s post stuck in your head. When I restored it, I thought, ‘Why did I call it the ‘ghostly novels … ‘, and I couldn’t figure it out, but I thought, ‘Okay, I have to trust that I knew what I meant when I made the post’, so I let it stand. You guys are getting released over there in Germany, right? That must be at least tentatively so relieving. Three weeks to go for us. Take care, buddy. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. I did not see ‘Deerskin’, no. I should, since Adele is in it, but I sort can’t abide Jean Dujardin, and I think that’s why I slipped it originally. Everyone, Mr. Erickson has reviewed the, by all accounts, very disappointing Spike Jonze Beastie Boys documentary BEASTIE BOYS STORY over at Slant aka here. ** Misanthrope, Sebald is someone to read and to have read. I, of course, have no idea what ‘Ozark’ is. There so many ‘really good studies’ out there that often contradict one another, and I have given up on all of the rampant speculation and hopes and fears roiling the online world, and I’m just doing what I have to do technically based on where I live and then gain the freedoms I’m allowed because that’s literally the only thing I can realistically, and everything else turning people’s heads into COVID news addiction centers just seems like stress triggering marginalia to me. But that’s just me. There’s no right way to deal with this. Yep, concentration is a precious and elusive thing right now, which is super inexplicable and weird. ** Right. I’m housing within the blog space the work and career of the fine actor Ellen Burstyn today who’s been in quite the variety of amazing films and/or films by interesting directors from Scorcese to Resnais to Solondz to Matthew Barney … , just to start the impressive list. Experience her thing today, won’t you? See you tomorrow.


  1. JM

    oh, ellen burstyn is wonderful, like a ghostly figurehead, i feel like she’s already dead though she’s still with us, ethereal, transient, passing in and out of artistic sensibility with ease, doing whatever she does, whether it’s important or not, really an exceptional woman.

    and, well, you know, ‘Closer’ is a book very close to my heart and I think about it regularly, maybe daily. i’ve been meaning – soon – to revisit all of your work with fresh eyes, a couple of years later, having seen much more of the work by those others who write around here and write as descendants of it – you are always very humble about it but your influence is probably written in perpetuity in literary history by now, though of course i’m sure you just experience your writing as your writing – do you feel the burden of a certain degree of interest in your work at all? including the burden of the future, anything like that? i suppose things like those qanon assholes maybe offer a different type of pressure? wow, sorry, got a bit off track there.

    i have to admit i got very emotional at our Prime Minister’s state of the nation address on announcing the rise of the lockdown. she is wonderful. within our nation, there’s a lot of faux pas criticism of her, typical right-wing mania, what about the economy, etc. — the serious criticism of her often asks if she’s doing enough or whether it’s just rhetoric — but those are in normal times, and these are exceptional times. she has proven herself as a true leader, after the shootings here last year and through this, and having a baby whilst in office as well. she leads with empathy and human interest and trust at its core — there was a recent poll of national trust in government and apparently 93% of new zealanders approve of the way she is handling the crisis. that is unbelievable, really unbelievable, to me. the sense here is certainly one of camaraderie and connectedness, even in our disconnection.

    i can see that it’s been great for the blog – in a funny way – even the comments are notably more engaged with the main body, and there are a lot more comments, too – more work for you, of course, but a great sign for the longevity and reach of it all, really.

    heaviness and psychological richness galore, yes – i am looking forward to seeing what writing comes of this in 2-3 years time – not writing about the pandemic, but writing from this time of unprecedented change and instability – in a narcissistic way i’m actually really interested in the work i’m doing myself at the moment, though it’s slow and my brain is foggy and now my days are getting tied up into academia.

    take care in what are hopefully your last weeks, too,

  2. _Black_Acrylic

    Wiener-Dog is my fave Solondz film and Burstyn is a definite high point.

  3. Steve Erickson

    FETCH THE BOLT CUTTERS doesn’t really sound like late Joni, although it might be inspired by her dabbling in jazz in the late ’70s. I hear Yoko Ono, Nina Simone, Patty Waters and Tom Waits in it, but it’s pretty sui generis. I can picture her spending months recording, throwing away and re-recording the layers of percussion. One thing I like is that it’s a “pop” album that’s really ambitious and demanding; it rejects being made into background music on a playlist. But I have also seen some ugly pile-ons towards anyone who dislikes it on social media. When the entire mainstream media calls it a classic the day of its release, it’s OK if some YouTube music critic gives it a 5/10. Music stan Twitter is a curse.

    My energy level is all over the map, and it takes me hours to fully wake up. But I watched Czech director Juraj Herz’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST adaptation today, and I was hugely impressed. It doesn’t depart from the original’s story, but it captures the atmosphere of 19th-century rural Czechoslovakia. It’s both lush and grim, with constant extreme lighting and music switches. Rarefilmm’s streaming it, along with Herz’s 1979 horror film THE NINTH BIRD.

  4. Dominik


    Okay, it’s a deal, I don’t think I’ll find a more inviting version of cold sesame noodle than Zac’s home-made one!
    I realized that my question was completely idiotic about your producer because, obviously, we aren’t talking about the TV series now – sorry. Looks like the word “producer” just got stuck to that experience in my head. Please let me know when you hear back from the committee! I’ll keep my whole body crossed ’til then, however that looks like!
    Yes and actually, as “documentaries”, his porn movies ARE interesting if quite concerning. I can’t piece his character together at all – it seems impossible to create an even somewhat coherent picture of him if I try to take everything I’ve seen and read about him into consideration. (This is getting unhealthy, haha.)
    Is the gallerist planning to put on an online show of your GIF works or are you making plans for after the lockdown? It’s really exciting either way!
    I’ve been listening to a lot of A Perfect Circle today, wrote some e-mails, cleaned the house, cooked – a pretty domestic but not overly exciting day for a change. How was it on your end?
    Oh god, Blink-182, teenage memories, haha. Love with a fashionable tooth gap, D.!

  5. Misanthrope

    Dennis, Burstyn is great. Duh.

    “Ozark” is a TV series here about a family on the run from a cartel after the father, who launders money from them, becomes responsible for a theft of millions he’s not responsible for. It’s pretty good, has some good stuff in it.

    Well, yeah, we’re all in the same boat re: trying to do the right things so we can get out of this as quickly as possible and not have it stretch out to the 18 months or so that some predict/want. But I do like to keep up. They tell us to listen to the science and the doctors and scientists, and that’s what I’m doing. Not obsessively so. I can’t help but do a little research when something pricks my ears that doesn’t sound quite right. I just find it funny which science is listened to and which isn’t.

    I think some of the lack of concentration is maybe the lack or regular distractions that we don’t normally have. Like, I don’t have a commute or a worry about fueling up or fixing my meals for the next day or going to the gym, and on and on. Maybe I feel like I have all the time in the world and…I really don’t. Next thing you know, BAM! Lost time.

    But yeah, so weird in so many ways.

  6. Kyler

    Hi Dennis, I’m an Ellen Burstyn fan from way back – so many jewels here. She was very Actors Studio, as her interview tells, and even though Stella Adler was very anti-Strasberg, I still loved her. Loved her honesty in acting. Providence, of course, but I remember loving Resurrection and how I wouldn’t have minded turning into that kind of weirdo someday. Well, I did, haha! Perhaps inspired by her. Unlike Steve above, I’m waking up with very little sleep these days – and I’ve got so much energy. Perhaps a protest to these trying times. Keeping my mood up…you too?

  7. Dom Lyne

    Hey Dennis,

    How are things for you in this coronavirus lockdown? I’m doing okay, my already bad sleep patterns got really disturbed a few weeks ago, I think in part due to how strangely quiet it is here at night. I was telling my mum that it sounds as quiet as her house, which for Camden high street is a massive difference to normal. So, yeah, my sleep went out the window and I just kept on autopilot as the days went by. I actually lost track of days, and of course the first thing that went out the window was my med taking regime, although I believed I was taking them, the truth was the opposite, so I ended up descending into a mild psychotic episode with the voices becoming more constant, and the shadow man making more appearances forcing me to carry on working, so it was a vicious cycle where I was working on a lot of projects at once but not finishing anything. Luckily, after one shouting at nothing episode, I realised what was happening, and my mum was beginning to notice as well, so we managed to get myself back into taking my medication daily, which has helped tremendously to allow me to focus a bit more and concentrate on finishing work rather than jumping from project to project. My sleep pattern is still out, but I’m working on it. But in general I would say I’m 95% back to my normal state.

    The other day I decided to finally have a stab at composing/constructing a .gif poem, and I’m actually pretty happy with how it turned out. It’s called “I Thought I Wanted Love, but it is Not Love that I Needed”. It would be awesome if you could take a look at it and let me know your thoughts, you can read it at:

    Other work wise, I’ve finished and released two audiobook exclusives, that I’ve made available at The first is written in the same style as my “Ink Spills and Five Notes of Suicide” novella; the second – “The Death of Tomorrow” – is an internal monologue of Daniel, the protagonist from my novel “The Heart of Darkness”, taking place after the events of the novel, where he contemplates the extent of the role the darkness plays in his life.

    This year is also the 20th anniversary of my music project The Red Devil Incident, so I’ve been working on a few special releases to celebrate, from YouTube videos featuring key unreleased tracks, to new music. Last week I released the first musical release, which was a remastered rerelease of the project’s first ever demo-EP “Krishna”. The original version was released in April 2002, so I thought it was fitting to release the remastered version in April 2020. It can be downloaded from

    Whilst it was interesting taking that trip back in time to the start of The Red Devil incident, and reminding myself from where the project came, I’m excited that now I can focus the musical side of my workload solely on finishing the new album I’ve been working on. Every song has been written and are in various stages of completion, but once I’ve finished writing the lyrics and recording the vocals, that’s when everything will all come together.

    I think that’s me all caught up. It’s such awesome news about the progress in your new novel’s life towards being unleashed onto the world. I can’t wait to read and digest it. How has corona effected your other work? I’m sure it’s been a pain in the ass with regards to filming projects.

    Lots of love, and big hugs,

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