There are many characters in cinema one could relate to, but for some gosh darn reason it’s Robert Vaughn, the once Quickdraw Mcgraw gunslinger in The Magnificent Seven, who continues to haunt me. Apologies for rebooting my column with an obscure reference, but if you permit me . . .
Lee was a gunslinger who, though stylish to the nines (who could forget that black glove?), was a coward at heart. Afraid of being gunned down and essentially fearful of his own shadow, he was the sole coward of The Magnificent Seven (I’m giving Brad Dexter’s Harry Luck the benefit of the doubt!), and though his final act was an entirely brave one, it’s that predominantly yellow streak which stops me in my tracks.
His paralyzing fear of action is a quality that has plagued me my entire life, and although I have my share of accomplishments and goals set during my 46-year existence, there is much more road that I could have covered if I was brave enough to make a few more first steps.
Dream Factory was column I started in my final year at UCLA, and though my major in college was political science, my main education was the two plus years I spent at the Daily Bruin. Working as one of the film reviewers and eventual columnists, I turned my youthful love for cinema into a lifelong coverage of the medium. I’ve covered press junkets since 1991 and have had my share of memories along the way, and that is one of the many things I’ll be covering in what I hope to be a cornerstone of Find Your Seen.
Years ago, during a one on one with Peter Coyote as he promoted the Roman Polanski film Bitter Moon, I asked him about his love and joy of writing. My questions, having an overly wistful and romanticized tone (a weakness I still have), led him to offer this practical advice I still am learning to follow: instead of imagining the life of being a writer or an artist, I should simply write these experiences down and follow that path.
It’s the coward in me, that has led to these various stops and starts, and hopefully by reconfiguring this column I will, along with expressing my rather feeble thoughts, provide some value added content within this valued space.
But that the memory of Lee, cringing behind every challenge, is an image that continues to linger in my thoughts, and while I am self-deprecating to a fault, this is a serious flaw that I aim to eradicate before my expiration date.
Much of Dream Factory will deal with how I incorporate film into my own life, and my thoughts/experiences with CinemAddicts (a podcast I co-host with Anderson Cowan) will also be one of the many elements in the column. Along with Allyson Gronowitz’s monthly “Flipping The Script,” the music column “Rockin’ Review” is also going to be rebooted in April.
Along with providing pop culture content to Find Your Seen, a big part of my goal is to learn about other cultures and points of view beyond my community bubble. Once I have more than a few pennies in my bank account, I’d love to commission writers from all over the world to pen their experiences about their corner of the world.
But for now, please follow my journey on how a self-proclaimed lily livered coward attempts to be a hero in his own middling story. Most likely I’ll just find a few more “magnificent” people to guide me along the way, and thankfully there’s enough loved ones in my life to keep me motivated to do better (in all areas of my life).
I’m ending this rambling piece by giving you a heads up on the upcoming Shout! Factory release of Sweet Virginia. As a man of inaction, I gravitate to protagonists who are simply stuck in their existence, and Jon Bernthal is great as the motel owner who must finally move on from his past and save his small town from a dangerous drifter (Christopher Abbott from The Sinner and It Comes At Night).
Sweet Virginia is an absolutely great feature, especially if you dig tight fisted, film noir driven narratives, and I’m giving away a sealed, Blu-ray copy on my Deepest Dream site (contest runs through Sunday, April 1).
Last freaking aside – I visited Wi Spa this morning for a little R&R, and a fellow customer marveled at the huge heap of patbingsu that dominated the table.
“You’re my hero for ordering that sizable breakfast,” he said.
“Thanks, but you’ve got horrible taste in heroes.”
He laughed, but the joke’s on me.