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Views On Film:
MAKING IT REEL - WITH CINDY FALTEICH





THE GULL COTTAGE TV NETWORK DEBUTS SPRING / SUMMER 2015 ...


      ... And over the next few months the hosts of our first slate of online shows will be introduced via regular written columns here at the GullCottage online magazine.


     
“In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.”


                                                                                  - Michelangelo

 

 

 

  Sage words from Michelangelo, Arau and Buffer as the universe conspires to rumble



     Okay, hold onto that notion.  


     Because ironically y'know, it’s not necessarily the commencement addresses given by famous speakers, or sermons or stirring political diatribes which you remember and which forever become engrained within your psyche, but it's rather often those indifferently tossed off “pithy-isms” and casual (if insightful) verbal asides
which can (if you allow them to) alter your destiny.  I remember about 15 years ago watching an interview with writer / actor / director Alfonso Arau (LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE) in which he said the (for me anyway) life-altering words, “When you set out to achieve your dreams, the universe conspires in your favor”.  Well, I can prove that’s true.  You see, I know Cindy Falteich.  And yes Cindy, I’m going to embarrass you a little, … but in the very best of ways.  And readers, I promise It’ll be quick.  But like ring announcer Michael Buffer’s famous “Let’s get ready to rumble” tag line, I’ve gotta give Cindy a proper welcome and introduction into that arena which is the GullCottage fam. 




     Those who’ve been following our progress are aware that about a year and a half ago we took the leap (wild head-long plunge?) into filmmaking with the feature length documentary STEVE VERTLIEB: THE MAN WHO “SAVED” THE MOVIES.  Suffice to say it’s been a rewarding if at times difficult endeavor. You’ve heard editors talk about “fighting with footage” to make it flow, and there’s of course that aforementioned Michelangelo line, both of which perfectly captures the creative concept of “pick and shovel” work inherent in the axiom that great art is “2% inspiration and 98% perspiration".

 

     

     Well, with three quarters of our film footage in the can, back in April docu subject Steve Vertlieb and myself did two back-to-back “work-in-progress” presentations, publicly displaying some of that footage for the first time.  Burning the candle at both ends in the weeks leading up to those shin digs I got little sleep, had to give up a few much needed shifts at the proverbial “day job”, and later even ended up getting ill. But the up side was a creative adrenaline rush like no other in the wake of numerous positive responses to those events; especially in the days following the second one - a luncheon which happened to be crashed by a novelist named Cindy Falteich, she herself in the midst of some life changing “pick and shovel” work of her own.

    

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             



      Having reached a crossroads, she’d given up a more traditional (some would say more stable) lifestyle to follow what she came to realize was her passion - writing via blogging (you've gotta check out her regular postings at ABabesTake, your soul will be grateful), novels, and in recent days screenwriting with her book, THE ALIQUOT SUM, having been picked up for adaptation into film.  Meeting and talking with folks after a presentation is always encouraging.  Many sincerely wish you well and promise to stay in touch, but this rarely happens; and understandably so as daily life is a schedule-eating mo-foe usually leaving little time for those more artistic things of which many wish they can take part.

 

     

     Somehow I think Cindy realized this as I don’t recall speaking with her afterwards.  Taking one of our promo packets however she did later e-mail me one of the most eloquent and heartfelt letters I’d ever received - all about the following of one’s dreams, and how she’d become even more encouraged after listening to what Steve and I were attempting to do.

 

        

      In the following weeks I’d meet the director of her film adaptation, and some of her family; and I'd also become familiar with her off center / quirky sense of humor (oh, yeah - did I mention she's a former stand up comic too?).   And via all of this she herself would quickly become a close part of my own personal creative family: one of those rare individuals who seem to be in touch with the “order of the universe”, and as such just kinda happen to know what's up and when to drop you an encouraging line when you need it most. Say like when you’re in the midst of a week-long writing marathon after you’ve submitted a new treatment to a studio; and just at that moment when you’re patting yourself on the back for a job well done, and you think you’re about to close a deal, … and you get more damned rewrite notes.  Arrrgghh!  Enough to vampire-suck the creative juices right out of you!  But thank goodness for people like Cindy who at times like these and more are beyond "politically correct", and are just plain and simply "spiritually correct" because it's their second nature.  Would there were more people like this.

 

 

With Steve Vertlieb on the studio set of MAN WHO "SAVED" THE MOVIES  



      Having come from a family filled with strong, spiritually attuned women possessed of a ferocious work ethic, Cindy immediately became “my kinda people” - an inspiration in that she DOES and doesn’t just talk.  With five-novels-and-counting, every time I turn around she’s part of a new writer’s panel, or being interviewed on the radio, and God knows what else.  It's hard to keep up;  she even taking time out of her super-busy schedule to join us one Saturday afternoon during our own film shoot.  Look up the word “dynamo” and you’ll see that picture of Cindy we have up there in the top right hand corner of this page.  But don’t just take my word on it.  Check out her official web site
- CindyFalteich.com, and you’ll be as blown away as I am.

 


      Needless to say, upon the decision to take the GullCottage to the “next level” in the form of an actual mini online TV network, I was honored that Cindy accepted our invitation to be a part of it.  As a lead up to her own series on said network - wherein she’ll delve into (a subject near and dear to her) book to film adaptations, over the coming months she’ll be posting here her latest views, musings, insights and more on the topic.  As a lifelong fan of the late and truly great novelist Elmore “Dutch” Leonard, who’s works - among them MR. MAJESTYK, JOE KIDD, 3:10 TO YUMA, STICK, 52 PICK UP, GET SHORTY, OUT OF SIGHT and more, have been adapted to film - good, bad and other, I was thrilled that Cindy chose as her first contribution to our library a look at TV’s JUSTIFIED - itself based on the Rylan Givens character from two Leonard novels and one bad-assed page turner of a novella.

 

 



    

Thanks Cindy.  You and Michelangelo (and the universe) keep conspiring to keep me going. 

And for that I am truly grateful.  Anyway, now ...

 


*play audio (M. Buffer)




                                                                                                               CEJ - 11/16/14

 

 



*Connect
with Cindy Falteich at  info@GullCottageOnline.com

* Learn more of (and from) Cindy Falteich at her official website:  http://www.cindyfalteich.com/


___________________________________________








I'M "JUSTIFIED"
by
Cindy Falteich

    
     When I first met Craig, I was honored to be invited to contribute to his new online network. Then I found out, when it came to television and film, he’s like Stewie reincarnated with the spirit of Roger Ebert—a film prodigy at birth. Instantly I was intimidated.


  
    JUSTIFIED's Leonard, Olymphant and series creator Graham Yost


     You see, when I was born my only quest was to get on the back of a horse. Forever. Plunked at birth into the teeny town of McGregor, Iowa, this was probably a good thing. We could have been featured on Hee Haw.  You remember, “Salute!” And if you don’t recall that (and thanks for aging me) compare it to Mayberry, RFD. We lived and breathed RFD. And if you’ve never heard of any of the aforementioned, then I’ve gone bust on making my point that it was a one-horse town (a horse I wished I owned) but more importantly, a one theater town – The Strand. That was until the owners closed down and someone started showing porn. The city council couldn’t touch them because of that free speech and “other things you like to show freely behind closed doors,” thing, but upon a lawyer’s advice, the city ignored the escapade and enough people did too that it soon closed.


     Eventually we were left with the only option to drive across the bridge into Wisconsin to the Metro Theater to watch one feature at a time on one big screen. If Star Wars came to town, we saw it. If it didn’t, oh well.


      
McGregor's main street - "Actually misleading because there are only two other actual streets in town" (CF)
  
  

     Television was even more limited. The only programming we had in the valley was sponged off a cable Cyril Lloyd installed on top of a cliff and fed to the minions below. And because I always broke the knob off our television set, we had only a few of three channels we could turn to with pliars, until the teeth wore flat and Dad was the only one strong enough to turn the post to a channel. I was that precious.

     My point is, Craig grew up with a love for media, which we’ve all had the privilege of sharing, and I grew up with little access to it.


            


     Fast fo
rward to me, a few months ago, picking my topic of “books to movies” for Craig’s network and starting specifically with the adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s character Raylan Givens from the novels Pronto (1993) and Riding the Rap (1995) and his short story Fire in the Hole (2001) for the FX series Justified. Could I have started with a more infinite topic? To be thorough, I wanted to read all of Mr. Leonard’s stories featuring Raylan. And not just because I was home alone. Yes, that’s an innuendo. I’ve filed a petition to have Timothy Olyphant considered one too.


Site Search Index:





"Devil At The Wheel" (B. Champlin / S. Porcarao) - JUSTIFIED Music from the Original Television Series




          Just FYI, Mr. Leonard wasn’t one of the authors considered worthy of being read in high school literature class. This disappoints me greatly since he wrote about the old west – cowboys and/or horses being my only criterion for anything entertaining. As such, I wasn’t introduced to him until I heard that a series with a guy in a cowboy hat was starting on FX, and even more enticing, the character was a US marshal.

    
     Flashbacks to Gunsmoke (1955 – 1975) ran through my head. I had a hot flash. Many of them. Most not due to menopause. Now I know how Miss Kitty felt.


   PRONTO (1993) - Givens' first appearance

     I believe the idea of Gunsmoke and its first cousins originated from The Lone Ranger and Hopalong Cassidy not to mention The Gene Autry and Roy Rogers Shows. But they lacked what I believe is now standard issue in westerns: grit. No other television western would match the staying power of Gunsmoke. As a result, I imagined another 20 years of a cowboy series so romantically portrayed that I’d access the last season on DVD from the grave; a series so fresh it’d engender numerous other western-themed shows whose longevity would fail in comparison but none-the-less spawn the will of producers to try (cue Longmire 2012 – 2014).

     So as you see my hopes for fresh cowboy eye candy were high. Then I found out the name of the series was Justified. Forget chicken soup, this was chocolate for the cowgirl’s soul.

     I’d already seen Timothy Olyphant in the HBO series Deadwood (2004 – 2006), a show that could be considered the deranged spawn of the westerns of the 50’s, and a series that died too young. It was written by David Milch who was also involved in two HBO series that were put down before their prime, Luck and John from Cincinnati. Honestly, it took me a while to feel the rhythm of Deadwood, especially with the foul language that sounded more gratuitous than necessary in the beginning. But as the script dug into the role played by Ian McShane (Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides, Kung Fu Panda), the character he played, Al Swearengen, exposed his weakness when he emerged as the main character (in my mind). It was then that the dialog felt more authentic than shocking and the show took form, in my opinion, just in time to leave us hanging after Season 3.



    

James LeGros as Givens in the 1997 TV movie vers. of PRONTO - with Peter Falk & Glenne Headly


      When I’d heard that Timothy Olyphant had been cast as the lead in Justified, initially I was indifferent since I thought the role he played as the sheriff in Deadwood was rather monochromatic. Plus, Deadwood’s choice to portray him as a headboard-banging lover did little to fuel my flame. On the other hand, the character with more depth was played by Ian McShane, who by the way looks exactly like the villain, Sam Cobra, in my Best of the West action figure set. Horribly clichéd yet fabulously played.

 
      

    
     Aside from the fact that each whore was indentured to go down on him when commanded, I grew to like the compassion of character. Since my affection for older men was already building, McShane’s tall, dark and callous character made a walk on the wild side bring on another hot flash. But it didn’t matter. In spite of critical acclaim and multiple awards, it was like mushrooms in my child’s dinner: “86.” I could only hope that Justified wouldn’t fall prey to the same lack of bedfellows and I would have a new nighttime affair.
  


  
      There. I apologize if I sound like I’m objectifying men. However, after reading Elmore Leonard’s writing, I felt like I had a lot of ground to make up. Even if you prefer his storytelling, there’s no disputing the attack on feminism. Matter of fact, my Uncle Darrel emailed one day with comments about Norman Mailer. Coincidentally, I’d been wading through the “Raylan” novels so I shared my newly minted view of Mr. Leonard’s characterizations:

     Uncle Darrell, 

     Recently I made a commitment to write as part of a team for an online network for a friend who, among his many talents, runs a web-based cinema site called Gull Cottage. I'm at a distinct disadvantage because these guys are complete genre freaks, storing zillion of bits of movie trivia in their brain vaults that can be called upon to connect within any conversation on film.

     Unfortunately, my experience with media is limited to what I want to spend my scarce free time watching. Not much! Anyway, over the last few years the one show I was dedicated to was based on a short story called "Fire in the Hole" by Elmore Leonard that was produced into a series called "Justified" on FX. I follow a very simple criteria for picking my entertainment: Is there a cowboy? Then yes, I'm in. I'm that simple.

     Hang in there -- I have a point. 

     So, in contemplating a theme for writing for Gull Cottage, I decided to go with "books to film/tv" since that's what I write toward, and to start with "Justified." Having never read an Elmore Leonard title, I have to say it was probably a premature move. I discovered I'm not a fan. That's for one reason: the objectification of women.

 



 

   RIDING THE RAP (1995) 

    Mailer has been accused of falling into that category. I can totally appreciate writing about and documenting the inner sickness of the human condition but when the female archetype is consistently reduced to the visual and sexual objectification by men who aren't nearly as attractive, neither physically nor personally, I have a hard time jumping on board. As far as Leonard's "Fire in the Hole" and the later "Raylan" title, he redeems himself on one occasion when he portrays one of the female characters as rather odd-ball (but then she's "improved" into a hot blond by the series producers, probably to seduce more viewers with a little eye candy).

      But even in her odd-ball description (wild hair, something about her hips) she redeems herself because she makes a great batch of fried chicken. If a woman can cook seems to be an important factor in deciding her worth. Which begs the question, if a woman was mediocre at sex, housekeeping and cooking and didn't have the looks to give her a redeeming quality, is there anything she could offer that would make her an ideal mate? Then venture further, asking what is it that makes a guy a good friend to a guy?







   
    On a final note, and this might sound hypocritical, I loved Marilyn Monroe -- the person. I believe she tried to take feminine power to a respectful level, something that might have been hindered by her sexuality. Also I believe her efforts may have been furthered by a Hollywood era mandated by the Hays Code. Prior to the code's inception in 1930, female actors were said to be playing roles that were "liberating" when all I saw was a lot of objectification -- "strong" women making ends meet by practicing prostitution, women sleeping their way to the top, etc. There were some completely racist items in the code and it was a violation of the first amendment, but I don't believe that the direction roles were headed for female actors could have remotely been called "liberating." That's like saying women were given freedom by allowing them to wear stilettos…”




                                                                
                                                          
                                                                        
 
 
    
     Cue salutation.

    
      UNCLE DARRELL:
“All writers in Mailer's era were sexist bastards as was Hemingway, Faulkner and maybe even the great German Goerte and even worst toward transgender but what hill do you die on?     

     Goerte is a giant!  I could not agree more with you but still seek good writers.   It is like History -- do I not study Hitler?”


    FADE TO BLACK:

     There are few things more annoying to me than reading a story and finding nothing redeeming about any of the characters.  That's where I was with Pronto.  Right down to the point where the unattractive, alcoholic bookie, Harry Arno had a love interest in the much younger Joyce Patton (of course a former stripper) which felt more like the Stepford dream of an old man than anything realistic.

     I don't doubt the decision of Graham Yost (Justified producer / writer / director) to omit that storyline from the series in the least.  In mob stories, in my opinion, it's hard to avoid stereotypes.  And with no appreciable characters, well, I moved on to another book.  Elmore wrote over 40.  


  Elmore Leonard (1925 - 2013)

     Matter of fact, according to Christopher Orr of The Atlantic, “more than two dozen of his novels and stories have been adapted for film or television—a few of them more than once.” These include westerns like the 1971 feature Valdez is Coming starring Oscar winner Burt Lancaster, Joe Kidd in 1972 with already established badass Clint Eastwood, Hombre with Paul Newman (who was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Cool Hand Luke completed that same year, 1967) and the most recent western remake 3:10 To Yuma, adapted twice, once in 1957 and again in 2007 with Oscar winner Russell Crowe.


     Impressive.





 




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