Project ATX6 began on a whim. Six singer-songwriters and Chris Brecht, an Austin-based documentary filmmaker and Project ATX6 producer, set off from Austin to perform music and share their stories in Toronto at the North by Northeast Music Festival. This experience is the first episode in a series of six episodes that will document the artists’ travels to various festivals across the globe.
The six artists Brecht chose to feature in the documentaries are Dana Falconberry, Mrs. Glass, Aisha Burns, Leo Rondeau, Carson McHone and Jesse Moore. This group of artists, or the “Austin Six,” knew little of each other before the beginning of this project. Some of the artists are members of well-established local bands, such as Burns of Balmorhea and Moore of East Cameron Folkcore, but Brecht showcases each of the artists in solo performances.
“The solo performance is most revealing of their character,” Brecht said. “It has to be a very naked feeling. I know because I performed solo myself for a very long time.”
Project ATX6 is funded partially by the Austin Music Office, a music marketing company, and local music venues. So far, the group has performed in Toronto and Germany, at North by Northeast and Reeperbahn Festival, respectively. Brecht plans to bring them to Denmark, Iceland and other locations in the upcoming year.
Radio-television-film sophomore Lara Ksiazek assists in filming Project ATX6. Ksiazek said, as an aspiring documentary filmmaker, she has learned how to shoot artist footage from Brecht.
“His style is like a documentary style but even more raw than that,” Ksiazek said. “It’s a raw style with shaky and smooth shots.”
Falconberry has lived in Austin for 10 years and has established herself as a well-known local artist, playing at South by Southwest last year.
“It really brings to light the idea that there are many ways to tour and get your music out there.” Falconberry said. “It doesn’t have to be the traditional model, and, in fact, that doesn’t even really exist anymore.”
Falconberry said the behind-the-scenes work of the music scene often goes unrecognized.
“It’s always so different than it looks on the surface,” Falconberry said. “You can’t see the struggle and hardship behind the tour posters and event posts, and I think that shouldn’t be hidden because it is very real.”
Brecht hopes the series shows insight into the lives and struggles of these six artists.
The first episode is on the project’s website, projectatx6.com. The second episode’s release date has not been determined.
“[It offers] transparency into what it means to be an musician in Austin who puts it all on the line,” Brecht said. “I want to create something that benefits these independent artists on a level that is hard for them to reach on their own. As a group performing and traveling together, they bring in a widespread interest into the project.”
Fucked Up, one of the most intense and critically acclaimed punk bands of the last decade, are playing at Red 7 on Tuesday the 28th. It’s been almost three years since the Toronto band released their critically acclaimed album David Comes To Life, and the band is currently hard at work finishing up the follow up.
“Right now we’re in Michigan at Key Club Studio mixing it with the aim to finish by early February,” lead guitarist Mike Haliechuk said.
The new album won’t have an overarching story behind the songs the way David did, and Haliechuck described the tone of the new songs as a bit more open sounding than that record. According to him, the sound is more in line with their 2008 release Chemistry of Common Life, and while the lyrics might be a bit of a bummer at points, the tone of the music will be less tense.
For this Texas tour, the band wanted a short break from the studio as well as a trip to a warmer part of the country as opposed to Toronto, where it is -20 F.
“We hadn’t been to Texas in a while, and other than Austin, I don’t think we’ve done Dallas or Houston in four years or so,” Haliechuk said.
This will be the first time Fucked Up has played a show in Texas that isn’t a part of a larger music festival since 2009. Looking back, Haliechuck has many fond memories of playing at SXSW.
“We’ve done like four SXSWs and they’ve all had nutty shows," Haliechuck said. "The bridge show we did with No Age was mental, lying to NME on the phone about it at 4 a.m. afterwards. I took the train to Austin from Chicago a few years ago and had to stay the night at one of the Matador guy’s houses with his crazy dog that was trying to attack me all night. Playing on the roof of some restaurant at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday. The first Jay Reatard show. Texas is crazy.”
The band is playing some new songs at these shows, but what’s most exciting is the fact that they are happening at all. After touring behind David Comes To Life, there were many reports that the band might call it quits.
“I mean that comes up every record because it’s hard to think about following up your last thing," Haliechuck said. "Fucked Up is this bigger thing now and it’s starting to get a bit of its own momentum. By the time this record comes out, we’ll have been a band for like 14 years or something crazy, and at that point get over the bullshit of trying to 'make it' and you just settle in and get comfortable with where you are at."
Part of that has to do with the band members each having projects they work on besides Fucked Up. Many members have different bands, singer Damian Abraham hosts a Canadian television show called The Wedge, and many of the members collaborate on an artistic project in Toronto entitled Long Winter. For Haliechuk, he spends time running a record label called One Big Silence, who has upcoming plans to release music from bands like Absolutely Free, Elsa, and other Toronto bands.
For Fucked Up though, Haliechuk says the most rewarding aspect of this long-running band has to do with the sense of creating your own destiny and not having a boss or schedule.
“It’s hectic to never really know what’s coming next but it’s also really exciting," Haliechuck said. "You wake up and get an email about a show in Japan or South America or something, the little opportunities you get. It’s like winning the lottery. Knowing that what you do is resonating with people is really cool.”
Fucked Up are playing inside at Red 7 on Tuesday, January 28.
Lee Henry: Let’s start with Sandra Bullock. Where did this performance come from? She’s a lock for a nomination, and I’d say she’s a serious contender to win Best Actress. There’s a strong correlation between Best Actress victories and Best Picture nomination/contention which is very hard to overcome, so that gives her an edge over her only current competitor, Cate Blanchett.
Colin McLaughlin: I think we agree. We’re a long way off from February, but this year’s Best Actress race is already Bullock’s to lose. It’s hard to imagine any of the other prospective nominees coming close to what she does in “Gravity.”
CM: If nothing else, “Gravity” is a lock for best visuals and cinematography. Cuaron’s movie is full of uninterrupted takes that last more than 10 minutes. And I really do hate to call major categories so soon, but “Argo” came out by this time last year and that movie was called as the Best Picture winner at Toronto. Right now, the biggest potential opponent for “Gravity”’s chances is “12 Years A Slave,” which will be out this Friday.
LH: We can’t ignore “Gravity” director Alfonso Cuaron. He’s a lock for his first directing nomination in a critically acclaimed career, and he’s a charmer. He could sell this movie to the stodgiest Academy member without coming off as sycophantic. His people skills certainly give him an edge over his newest competitor, Paul Greengrass. Greengrass was nominated in 2006 for directing “United 93,” and “Captain Phillips” is a strong return for him. Greengrass is a little stodgier than Cuaron, but he’ll have Tom Hanks by his side every step of the way. They’ll be fighting it out in every single technical category that period pieces don’t automatically take.
CM: I was slightly let down by “Captain Phillips,” so I’m curious as to whether we’ll be discussing Greengrass at all two months from now. He is a fine director, but his skill has always been the technical aspects of his presentation, and I think that Cuaron has him outranked far and away in “Gravity.”
LH: This summer also had a good crop of potential dark horses/spoilers: “Fruitvale Station,” “Before Midnight” and “The Butler” have retained support, although previous talks of locks for best picture have been replaced by mere chance at a single or select few nominations. “The Butler,” of course, is different because of the strength and prestige of the cast. And of course, we have “12 Years A Slave” coming this week. Based on the reception at Toronto and Telluride, it’s a contender for … I guess everything?
CM: Everything but Lead Actress. I’ve actually stopped reading the reports because I don’t want to let the hype ruin my expectations, but by all accounts, that’s pretty much impossible.
LH: So next time we’ll discuss the reported powerhouse that is “12 Years a Slave,” the state of the Best Actor race, and whether or not “Wolf of Wall Street” will even make it into contention this year. In conclusion, I think that we can both agree...
CM: “Crash” won Best Picture. Anything is possible.
A tried-and-true practice, The 2011 NBA Draft Lottery (retro) Diary, with thoughts on the first 14 selections:
1. Cleveland (from L.A. Clippers), Kyrie Irving, g, Duke.
*This is the pick the Cavaliers got in the Baron Davis-Mo Williams trade, and it’s just the Clippers’ luck that it becomes the No. 1 pick in the lottery.
After a few days of speculation, no surprise here that the Cavaliers take Irving, who was great in his freshman season at Duke, albeit if he only played 11 games because of injury. He’s not as dynamic as recent No. 1 point guards like John Wall and Derrick Rose, but his playmaking abilities have led some to compare him to Chris Paul.
I’m not sure if Irving will ever be that good, but I don’t think there’s any way he doesn’t become one of the top-10 point guards in the league. This is a step in the right direction for Cleveland, a franchise that desperately needs some hope after last season’s LeBron James hangover.
Just a side note, this puts the Cavs in position to trade one of the other PGs on the roster — whether it be Baron Davis, Ramon Sessions or former Longhorn Boobie Gibson.
2. Minnesota, Derrick Williams, f, Arizona.
It’s really hard not to fall in love with Williams when you watch him play, because he’s so dynamic. If there’s one player in this draft who could become a true superstar, it might be him. Only thing to complain about here is that he’s sort of in a basketball dark hole in Minnesota now — by all accounts, the worst franchise in basketball. And he lands on a roster that already has a glut of talented forwards: Kevin Love, Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph. There’s also Wesley Johnson, the fourth pick last year. One of those guys will need to be traded to make room for Williams, who projects as a four but could also play the three.
Great pickup for the Jazz. Kanter was set to star at Kentucky before the NCAA ruled him ineligible for all of last season, but he showed some glimpses of his talent at the 2010 Nike Hoops Summit, when he scored 34 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.
Kanter’s skill set — polished low-post game, soft hands, mobile, good jumper — should complement Derrick Favors and Al Jefferson down low. This gives Utah one of the more formidable frontcourts in the league.
4. Cleveland, Tristan Thompson, f, Texas.
Wow. There were some rumblings of this happening in recent mock drafts, but it’s still pretty unbelievable to think about how much Thompson has improved his stock since he officially declared for the draft, when he was a fringe lotto prospect. He might never be a star, but his hustle on both ends of the floor will make him a reliable big man. At Texas, he became known for his defense and his rebounding, but never really got much of a chance to show what he could do offensively, other than put-back dunks and oops. In a NBA offense, and with a really good point guard in Irving, Thompson will have a chance to improve that end of his game in Cleveland.
5. Toronto, Jonas Valanciunas, c, Lietuvos Rytas (Lithuania).
Valanciunas could have gone to Cleveland at No. 4, but there were some worries that his expensive buyout could keep him overseas a bit longer. In any case, he’ll be a really good compliment to Andrea Bargnani whenever he comes to Toronto. Haven’t seen much of the guy (completely forgot to check him out on my most recent trip to Lithuania) but if he’s as solid in the post as the experts say he is, Toronto should have a versatile frontcourt attack.
6. Washington, Jan Vesely, f, Partizan Belgrade (Serbia).
This is going to be fun to watch. Vesely plays differently than any European player you have ever seen, with incredible athleticism and the ability to dunk just about anything. YouTube this guy. Then imagine John Wall lobbing oops to him. Vesely won’t be the second or third best guy on a playoff-contending team, but he could make up an exciting piece of the puzzle in D.C.
7. Sacramento (traded to Charlotte), Bismack Biyombo, f, Fuenlabrada (Spain).
Two really fun picks back-to-back. Biyombo really won’t be good for anything more than shot-blocking and interior defense, but he’s good enough at both of them to make up for offensive incompetence. He and DeMarcus Cousins would have been scary in Sacramento, but Biyombo was traded shortly afterwards to Charlotte.
8. Detroit, Brandon Knight, g, Kentucky.
Knight is an intriguing combo guard who fits well with Detroit, assuming Rodney Stuckey is on his way out. Ideally, he’s a point guard. This is a steal, Knight could have gone in the top five.
9. Charlotte, Kemba Walker, g, Connecticut.
I’m a fan of Kemba, but just not on this team. Charlotte got big contributions last year from former Longhorn D.J. Augustin, who scored 14 points and dished out six assists a game. Walker, like Augustin, is a smaller point guard, and a scorer who needs the ball in his hands to be most successful. Not sure what this means for Augustin’s tenure in Charlotte, because the fans (all 200 of them) might favor Walker, the national champion who has developed a cult-like following. Interesting to note that both he and Augustin were picked No. 9 in the draft.
10. Milwaukee (traded to Sacramento), Jimmer Fredette, g, BYU.
In the name of Joseph Smith, we couldn’t have gotten Jimmer in a bigger media market? I need to see this guy either in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Dallas, Miami, Denver or Chicago. The only consolation in this is that the Kings should become one of the more polarizing teams to watch, what with Cousins’ temper tantrums and Tyreke Evans’ style of play — equal parts exciting and selfish. Jimmer will most likely play off the ball in Sacramento, so, assuming Evans ever passes to anybody, he’ll do his damage around the three-point line.
11. Golden State, Klay Thompson, g, Washington State.
Thompson led the Pac-10 in scoring this past season, with 21.6 points a game, so it only makes no sense that he’s going to the Warriors, who already have Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry.
12. Utah, Alec Burks, g, Colorado.
Another good get for the Jazz. Burks was one of the premier scorers in the Big 12 this season, and he’ll bring some punch to a backcourt that features — yikes — Devin Harris, Gordon Hayward, C.J. Miles and Raja Bell. Burks should start from day one.
13. Phoenix, Markieff Morris, f, Kansas.
Big, mean, reasonably talented, tough, experienced, with a good motor.
14. Houston, Marcus Morris, f, Kansas.
Twins?! All the above, plus a jump shot.
Some Local Notes:
What a wild night for Jordan Hamilton, who was drafted by Dallas then traded to Portland then traded to Denver. The Nuggets got a steal here. He’s no Carmelo (though, with his shot selection, he might think he is) but he’ll pour in anywhere from 10 to 25 points any given night. If you’re wondering why Hamilton, who was projected to be a lottery pick, slipped all the way to No. 26, it’s because Texas basketball coach Rick Barnes apparently told inquiring NBA front offices that Hamilton was “uncoachable.”
Cory Joseph was not only drafted by the nearby Spurs, but he also served this whole city a whopping plate of crow. Blasted by many when he came out, including myself, Joseph must have put together some really strong workouts for a diligent-scouting team like the Spurs to want him. With George Hill being traded to Indiana tonight, Joseph should be Tony Parker’s backup this season. Good for Cory.
The Spurs also get SDSU’s Kawhi Leonard, who was picked No. 15 and then traded from Indiana in the Hill trade. Nicknamed "The Human Avatar” by his college teammates because of his huge hands, Leonard will give San Antonio the perimeter defense presence it hasn’t had since Bruce Bowen.
Who is your steal of the draft? Who might be the biggest bust?
HOUSTON— Will Bruin scored twice in the second half, and the Houston Dynamo came back from a two-goal deficit in the final 17 minutes to tie Toronto FC 3-3 Wednesday night.
Danny Koevermans scored twice for Toronto, which built a 3-1 lead at halftime only to get its first draw of the season and first point on the road.
Houston (5-4-5, 20 points) tied the game in the 90th minute on Bruin’s header from the left side of the goalkeeper’s box off a cross from Geoff Cameron.
Houston cut the lead to 3-2 in the 73rd minute as Bruin took a pass from Brad Davis at the top of the box and chipped it into the upper right portion of the net from 16 yards.
“We knew it was going to be difficult the second half, but I am so proud of the lads,” Paul Mariner said after his second game as coach. “We had a fantastic performance in the first half. I thought we were terrific. A point away from home against Houston is fantastic.”
Koevermans put Toronto (1-10-1, 4 points) ahead 2-1 in the 22nd minute, taking a cross from Eric Avila and shooting it in from just outside the 6-yard box on the left. Koevermans extended the lead to 3-1 in the 45th minute, heading Julian de Guzman’s pass inside the near post from 16 yards.
“Definitely, we come into every game to win,” defender Ashtone Morgan said. “We were up 3-1 at the half, and we thought we were going to be in cruise control. They threw the big boys up there and scored two goals.”
Jeremy Hall put Toronto up 1-0 in the 13th minute. Houston tried to clear the ball, but Avila sent it back in from the above the half circle. Hall gained possession near the penalty area, turned and shot with the ball ricocheting off the near post, bouncing on the end line and off the far post before going in.
Bobby Boswell tied it in the 20th minute with a header off Davis’ corner kick from 8 yards.
Three Toronto players arrested for public intoxication earlier in the week were sent home before the game: Miguel Aceval, Luis Silva and Nick Soolsma.
Tony Parker had 34 points and 14 assists, and the San Antonio Spurs extended their season-best winning streak to nine games with a 113-106 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night.
Danny Green scored 13 points and matched his career high with seven rebounds, Tiago Splitter also had 13 points and Manu Ginobili added 11 for the Spurs, who have not lost since a 101-100 overtime defeat at Dallas on Jan. 29.
Parker went 12 for 12 from the foul line for San Antonio, which last won nine straight during a 10-0 stretch from Dec. 3-22, 2010. The victory was the sixth straight away from home for the Spurs, their longest run since winning eight straight road games to begin the
San Antonio’s Tim Duncan failed to extend his run of five straight double-doubles, finishing with eight points and three rebounds.
DeMar DeRozan scored 29 points for the Raptors, who have lost three straight and eight of 10. Jose Calderon added 16 points and 11 assists.
Toronto guard Jerryd Bayless missed his fourth straight game with a sore left ankle, while forward Linas Kleiza was sidelined with a sore left knee. Leading scorer Andrea Bargnani sat for the 18th time in 20 games because of a strained left calf.
“We’re a little undermanned,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said before the game. “If anybody is looking for a 10-day [contract], we’re looking for bodies.”
Toronto trailed by five points to begin the fourth, but used a pair of baskets by Calderon and a driving layup by DeRozan to cut it to one at 97-96 with 4:14 left.
San Antonio answered with a baseline jump shot by Gary Neal and a pair of free throws by Parker, restoring their five point advantage with 3:25 left.
Parker made all eight of his free-throw attempts down the stretch as the Spurs improved to 23-9 all-time against Toronto.
Green got all seven of his rebounds and made three of San Antonio’s six 3-pointers in the opening half as the Spurs, who shot 6 for 10 from beyond the arc, led 55-45 at the break.
Toronto battled back by making its first 10 shots of the second half. DeRozan scored 13 points in less than six minutes, and the Raptors followed with a layup from James Johnson that tied it at 66.
(Photo courtesy of Focus Features)
Ever since its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival almost a year ago, things certainly haven’t been easy for “The Debt.” After all, it was a major awards player before its premiere — an intense Jewish revenge film starring Oscar mainstays Helen Mirren and Tom Wilkinson as well as rising stars Jessica Chastain and Sam Worthington. After the film met lukewarm reception in Toronto, it floundered around for a year or so and is now finally being released to theaters. Is it the disaster a few critics at Toronto lambasted it for being? No. Is it the major Oscar player it could have been? Probably not. But it is a relatively well-paced, fairly intense thriller that makes for a good distraction for a couple of hours.
The film opens just short of present day, staging a late ’90s book release detailing the process by which Mossad agents Rachel (Helen Mirren), Stephan (Tom Wilkinson) and David (Ciaran Hinds) killed the nefarious Dieter Vogel (Jesper Christensen), a surgeon who performed endless atrocities during the Holocaust. Quickly, the film dives into the past, as younger versions of the characters (played by Chastain, Marton Csokas and Worthington, respectively) go about their mission.
Director John Madden impresses throughout the film with his strong sense of pacing, smooth transitions between the past and the present, and a few brutal, ugly fight scenes that strip away any glamour the agents think their mission may hold. The film’s problems rest mostly in the script, co-written by the usually reliable Matthew Vaughn, who directed this summer’s “X-Men: First Class” and last year’s “Kick-Ass.” “The Debt” has all the makings of a great tragedy — a lie agreed upon by loose allies, lost loves and gallons of blood spilled thanks to the various characters’ fatal flaws, but its screenplay falls short.
The film’s lengthy middle section, which showcases the long period the three agents spend cooped up in a grungy apartment with Christensen’s surgeon as their hostage, plays out kind of like a play, allowing us to get to know the characters and all their nuances. Unfortunately, they aren’t nearly as interesting as the film thinks they are and the inevitable love triangle that forms is soapy, not compelling.
Chastain’s Rachel is easily the most relatable and interesting character in the film, thanks in no small part to Chastain, who is given more room to build a character here than in Terrence Malick’s flighty “The Tree of Life.” Though Rachel is saddled by slightly inconsistent characterization, Chastain brings a strength and intensity to her that you might not expect from her gentle disposition. Worthington (remember him?) struggles to breathe life into his disciplined, quiet David. Csokas’ Stephan is barely a character as much as he is a placeholder. The elderly versions of the characters are better acted across the board thanks to masters Mirren, Wilkinson and Hinds, but Wilkinson and Hinds are wasted as Mirren takes the center stage for most of the film’s third act.
Much of the disdain from the film’s Toronto premiere came from the film’s morally ambiguous conclusion, and the film spends a bit too much time building up to its big reveal and not enough time justifying it. Even so, when the film’s key moment comes around, it’s more of an obvious plot development than the mind-blowing twist it wants to be considered, and it’s certainly not anything disastrous enough to derail the film entirely.
“The Debt” is by no means the Oscar contender it was positioned as, but it’s still a film with its own small little charms, mostly thanks to the fantastic dual portrayals of Rachel Singer by Chastain and Mirren. While it plays as something of a smaller-scale version of Steven Spielberg’s “Munich,” “The Debt” is an often suspenseful, interesting thriller. It’s not a film that you’ll be thinking about for the rest of the year (or even after you leave the theater), but it’s still one worth seeking out.
Printed on September 1, 2011 as: Stellar cast shines in "The Debt," film struggles with screenplay
Dallas Mavericks assistant coach Dwane Casey yells to his team during an NBA basketball game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, in Oklahoma City last December. Casey is the new coach of the Toronto Raptors.
TORONTO — Dwane Casey hopes to bring a rugged, NHL-style of defense to his newest job in the NBA.
The Toronto Raptors hired Casey as their coach Tuesday, nine days after the Dallas assistant helped the Mavericks win the championship.
Casey succeeds Jay Triano, a Canadian who became a consultant after the Raptors finished 22-60. Casey was the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves from June 2005 to January 2007, compiling a 43-59 record.
Casey said his No. 1 goal is to give the Raptors a “defensive identity.” He partially credited the Mavericks’ performance against LeBron James and the Miami Heat in the NBA finals to the breaking down of hockey video.
“Because we felt we were playing too soft against Miami to start the series,” he said. “And it really set the tone.”
“I don’t know a lot about of hockey. I know I’ll learn about it. But we spliced in those guys checking players up into the window, into the boards and that type of thing and that’s the way we want to play,” he said. “We want to make sure people feel us when they cut through the lane. And that’s a mindset, and that’s having a disposition — a bad disposition — when people come through your paint.”
Poor on defense, Toronto missed the playoffs for the third straight season. The Raptors have made it past the first round only once in their 16-year existence, doing it in 2000-01.
The Raptors want to start their improvement Thursday with the fifth pick in the NBA draft.
Casey won’t have much input on who the Raptors pick.
“I’ve learned over the years to step back from the draft because you have to hire trusted people with your scouting department and trust their knowledge,” Casey said. “You can give them your input into what you need and what you want, but the bottom line has to come from the scouting department.”
The 54-year-old Casey, who also was an assistant for 11 seasons in Seattle, is the eighth coach in Raptors’ history.
Triano stood quietly at the back of the news conference announcing Casey’s hire. Casey said he intends to use Triano as a “resource” and build on what he sees as a core of young talent that includes guards DeMar DeRozan and Jerryd Bayless, center Andrea Bargnani and forward Amir Johnson.
“Defensively, I’m going to be a hands-on control freak, so to speak,” he said. “Offensively, I’m going to trust and give them freedom.”
Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo said he got a call from Dallas coach Rick Carlisle in the wee hours after the Mavericks won the championship.
“Rick Carlisle said, ‘Bryan, I want to know what it’s going to take to get Dwane that job in Toronto. It’s right for him, it’s right for you, it’s right for the situation. You need to strongly consider it,’” Colangelo said.
“He comes with exceptional support from people in very high places,” he said. “There’s a lot of people that are rooting for Dwane to do well here. They think it’s the right time,” he said.
DeRozan was at the news conference and said he and his teammates welcome the new commitment to defense.
“I think everybody’s definitely going to buy into it because we’ve got a young team and we could cause a lot of havoc on the defensive end,” DeRozan said. “I want to improve as a person and as a team player.”
Casey promised a free-flowing approach with the ball.
“The last time I checked, the reason why you win games is scoring, so we’re going to put a high premium on that too,” he said. “We want to keep the pace up-tempo with our young team because we have the athleticism.”
Autobiographical series twists cultural icons into neurotically original take
Ever since Toronto-based cartoonist Michael Deforge first burst onto the alt-comics scene in 2009 with “Cold Heat Special #7,” bloggers and critics have hailed him as the next big thing. With the first issue of his annual pamphlet “Lose,” he again proves himself worthy of the hype.
The cover of “Lose #1” is an auto-portrait of the cartoonist, his expression disgruntled and his face a scarred landscape of disintegrated and degenerated images of dripping oil and geometric fractals. This will set the stage for the content within, which is heavily autobiographical, both in theme and execution. The framing narrative of “#1” is the story of Nesbit Lemon, a “guardian elf” who refuses to do the “It’s a Wonderful Life” routine with a depressed cartoonist because of a bureaucratic name mix-up and thus fails to prevent the cartoonist’s eventual suicide. When Nesbit goes to God to complain about the confusion, he is hurled into Cartoon Hell as penitence for his insubordination.
Deforge recently won the 2010 Doug Wright Award for Best Emerging Talent for “Lose #1” at the Toronto Comic Art Festival, an award from a jury of distinguished Canadian artists and critics. Really, it’s no wonder as to why Deforge is a cartoonist’s cartoonist. Operating with an easy slickness that belies his immense talent and skill, Deforge draws from an eclectic mix of influences ranging from serialized newspaper craftsmen like Jim Davis of “Garfield” and Scott Adams of “Dilbert,” to the manga of Rumiko Takahashi and Osamu Tezuka. He even goes as far as name checking alt-comics masters Gary Panter and Matt Groening in an inspired sequence set at a bar in Hell, which features iconic characters like Astro Boy and Dick Tracy puking as they lose relevance and meaning in today’s throwaway culture.
Deforge’s mastery over their iconography allows him to twist and distort these pop-culture touchstones through his own personal neurosis. At one point, characters like Garfield and Cathy literally spill their guts like a ruptured Christmas Day Macy’s Parade balloon, the air — and entrails — gushing out of their hollow shells. A show-stopping Calvin and Hobbes nod will take your breath away, not only in its flawless execution but also in its grinning-doofus sincerity.
A stream-of-consciousness roller coaster ride through Deforge’s vibrant imagination, “Lose #1” is beautifully done. It says, with a deft and steady hand, to watch out and take notice. The second issue of “Lose” has since come out, a departure from the stream-of-consciousness style of the first issue to a more focused narrative about schoolyard loneliness and alien invasions.
All of Michael Deforge’s work can be found on his website at www.kingtrash.com. Lose, both the first and the new second issue, can be purchased through www.AdHouseBooks.com. More work from the publisher can be found at Koyama Press, www.koyamapress.com.
“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” follows the life of 22-year-old Toronto native Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera, “Superbad”) as he falls for American delivery girl Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, “Live Free or Die Hard”). However, before he can begin a relationship with her, he must defeat her seven ex-boyfriends, all of whom belong to the League of Evil Exes, who want to control Ramona’s love life.
On Aug. 13, the young and talented cast of “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” — including Brandon Routh, Jason Schwartzman, Anna Kendrick, Cera and Winstead — as well as director Edgar Wright made Austin their last stop in the United States before heading out to promote the film in Europe. Sitting at a round table at the Four Seasons Hotel, the cast members opened up about their on-set experiences and the appeal of their respective characters.
The Daily Texan: What attracted you to the script?
Brandon Routh: No one could read the script unless [they were] working with the director Edgar Wright, but I read the source material and knew that this was something I was interested in.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: I read the [comic] books, loved everything. I like the stylized, over-the-top performances.
DT: In the film, Scott must defeat Ramona’s exes by using their weaknesses against them. Do each of you have a weakness?
Jason Schwartzman: Getting buried alive and hair pulling.
Edgar Wright: Tickling. Definitely tickling.
Michael Cera: I hate when people grab you by the neck.
DT: If you could have a superpower, what would it be and what would be your superhero name?
JS: I would be Ultrasound Man.
EW: Wizard Sleeve. I would have Dumbledore in this sleeve, Merlin in the pocket and Gandalf in the other [sleeve].
MC: The Tailor, I could make anyone’s clothes fit perfectly with the touch of my finger.
DT: Anna, you have acted in a variety of different films, each in a different genre. Are you trying to find your niche?
Anna Kendrick: You get lucky. If I told you that I had any type of strategy, I would be lying. I wanted to do “Scott Pilgrim” because I was a fan of Edgar’s work and wanted a shot at working with him.