Friday, June 29, 2007


Peet Gelderblom directs, edits and develops commercials, TV programs and broadcast design ... in Amsterdam! This means that when he first saw Pulp Fiction and listened to John Travolta wax on about Dutch French fries and mayonnaise, Peet probably nodded his head appreciatively since he most likely had just indulged in that culinary tradition! But there's much more to Peet than commercials and mayonnaise, he keeps up the wonderful pop culture comic/blog Lost in Negative Space. Peet's illustrative sense is put to wonderful use here -- could he have nailed Inland Empire any better? To prove that he is adept with words as well as pictures, Peet is a contributor to the what-else-can-you-really-say-about-it? blog/zine The House Next Door, and his most recent post is a pique-your-interest early review about the forthcoming Danny Boyle epic Sunshine. If you still want more Peet, go to 24 Lies a Second where he and other talented writers have a tidy but thought-provoking cache of film essays.

'I’m a sucker for lyrical tragedy. As far as that’s concerned, nothing beats the ending of Brian De Palma’s Blow Out. It’s a movie so ripe with drama and metaphor that it becomes part of your metabolism. When Jack kneels down to hold Sally’s lifeless body in his arms and the fireworks go off in the background, he’s really holding America’s lost innocence. A profound moment; tragic, beautiful and blackly humorous at the same time.'

SOMEWHERE IN TIME: 'I’d love to see two movies a day, but I can’t. When you have a family you love to spend time with and a pile of different interests as I do, time becomes a precious commodity. Fortunately, I can do with little sleep, and as I grow older I get better at cherry picking. Not that I claim to have impeccable taste, but at least I’ve got a pretty good handle on what I’m interested in. On average, I’ll see something like four or five movies a week. Not counting replays of favorite DVD-chapters, TV series, stuff I find on the Web and the tons of footage I see at work.'

The female mystique isn’t such an enigma to me as it once was, but it remains an endless source of inspiration. For my personal revival theater, I would program a themed week centered on Fantastique and the Feminine: Georges Franju’s Eyes Without a Face, Jack Clayton’s The Innocents, Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock, Paul Verhoeven’s De Vierde Man, Michael Tolkin’s The Rapture, Kathryn Bigelow’s The Weight of Water, David Lynch’s Mulholland Dr. and Julio Medem’s Lucia y el Sexo. The next week would be a Ward Kimball animation festival.'

It’s quite impossible to point out a single movie that depicts today’s Dutch culture. I’m afraid Holland is going through something of an identity crisis right now. We’ve got plenty of talent around, but there’s no such thing as a single movement or unique characteristic. What we miss is a front figure like Lars von Trier, who almost single-handedly put Danish cinema back on the map. Paul Verhoeven, whose Zwartboek I loved, spent too much time in Hollywood to be a positive influence here. Willem van de Sande Bakhuysen died of cancer. Alex van Warmerdam continues to make quirky black comedies with a stylish sense of the absurd, but he’s always been something of an anomaly. And our very own enfant terrible Theo van Gogh - who was never that successful to begin with – has been brutally murdered by a Moslim extremist.

'I was very impressed by Guernsey, a gorgeously composed minimalist drama in the vein of Bresson, directed by Nanouk Leopold. I can also recommend Off Screen, a psychological thriller by Pieter Kuijpers based on the real-life hostage inside the Rembrandt tower in Amsterdam--very close to where I used to work. I very much admired the episodic structure of Simon, an euthanasia drama composed of refreshingly short scenes that never become sentimental. To be honest, though, some of the best Dutch cinema appears on television. Series like Oud Geld (written by the massively talented Maria Goos) and Vuurzee come to mind, as well as some really classy commercials.'

It’s only natural to be attracted to people with similar interests, but I’ve always felt I loved films just a little bit more than those around me. Even when I started directing, there was this urge to dig deeper. I’m an autodidact on the subject of film - I studied Graphic Arts - so my background has always been practical. Then the World Wide Web came along and everything changed. The Internet sparked a major creative epiphany in me. Suddenly, there was this incredible wealth of information I had access to, with film-dedicated forums, databases and websites pointing me in all the right directions. I’ve been catching up ever since.

'The impetus to write came from not fully recognizing myself in what was already being written. At the time, I frequently became enfuriated by reviews and articles that I believed to be highly unfair, narrow-sighted or misjudged. That’s when I realized that I, in my own screwed-up kinda way, had developed ideas of my own that were worth expressing.

'24LiesASecond is far from prolific, but at least the quality of our essays is consistent. Jim Moran, my editor-in-chief, is one of the most brilliant film scholars on the planet and someone I hold in very high esteem. We started 24Lies in order to provide a platform for provocative film criticism on an academical level, but without the condescending tone. Little did I know what a flight the blogosphere would take in that direction. I’ve often been jealous of Matt Zoller Seitz’s achievements with his expert team of bloggers at The House Next Door. Recently I figured: if you can’t beat ‘em… join ‘m!

'There have been times that I wondered if it was a healthy thing for a creator to be so fascinated by theory and criticism, until I realized that it’s just another form of expression. Filmmaking and film interpretation are two sides of the same coin: Cinema only exists when it is seen.'

DIGITAL BITS: 'The movies that I buy don’t have to be perfect movies as a whole. What really excites me about the medium is the way it encapsulates unique experiences. I like to dip into strange worlds, relive a dramatic moment or relish in a splendidly articulated speech.'

PARADISE GLIMPSED: 'I once saw Famke Janssen’s sister in her underwear. She was changing clothes for a shoot and I accidentally caught a glimpse of what looked like Xenia Onatopp’s deadly thighs.'

“It’s not a lie. It’s a gift for fiction.” David Mamet’s State and Main. A priceless quote from a moderately entertaining film.'

BREAK IT DOWN: 'There’s a dinner table scene in Keith Gordon’s Waking the Dead that always gets to me, no matter how much times I see it. It’s a monologue shot in a long zoom on the character played by Billy Crudup, with only a couple of cutaways. Basically, a senator sits down to celebrate with his family and has a mental breakdown right then and there. I only need to read the dialogue to get goosebumps all over:

    There's something that I think I should tell you all. I'm not feeling very well. And I haven't been for a while. Something inside me has jumped the track. I'm confused. I'm not thinking right. I'm not sleeping right. And I - just don't think I am complaining about this or asking for your help. Because there's nothing anyone can do about it. It's just happened and that's all there is to it. But I don't know what I'm going to say from one minute to the next. I really don't. I don't know what I'm going to say and I don't know what I'm going to do. Do you understand that? And I know this is coming at a bad time for everyone but there's nothing I can do about that. I'm tired and I'm - I don't see things the way that I used to. Everything, everything, everything is fucking strange and it's all completely out of control and I'm frightened. And maybe if you all could give me some real help, you know? That would be - And not your pity or generosity but some help. Take a look at me. I know that I am ruining everything but I can't - If I don't say this now I may never say it. Everything is going very fast. It's going very, very fast. It's completely out of control. And if I don't say it today, tomorrow may be too late. I may be too crazy to even know how crazy I am. I don't know what to do. I don't know what to do. Something has happened to me and I'm very lost. And it doesn't stop. It's not getting better. I don't get better. I'm not getting better. It's just going on and it's going on. And there's nothing that I can do about it. It's not stopping. It's not stopping.

'I think we all have thoughts like that at certain points in our life, but most of us prefer to keep them to ourselves. For my money, Billy Crudup is one of the most underrated actors working in America today.'

'I’m not one to cherish memorable film years. Emphasizing that 1999 was a great year for movies won’t excuse Universal Soldier 2 from being a piece of shit. And what about movies that were produced in 1999 and released in 2000? They don’t count? In Europe we’re used to seeing Hollywood films half a year later anyway. I’m skeptical about year-best lists for the same reason. What’s the point when it might as well be a film from 1944 that turns out to be a life-changing experience? I’d rather focus on what films I like, regardless of what time they came out.

Having said that: 1984 was when I realized as a teenager how much I was hooked on the movies. I still have a soft spot for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Body Double, Schatjes!, Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Man of the Apes, Gremlins, The Neverending Story, Starman and Top Secret!'

Contact DVD Panache if you are interested in contributing to Friday Screen Test.


Anonymous said...

Are you kidding? I LOVE fries with mayonnaise! Although I don't actually like to fuckin' drown 'em in it, as Tarantino so eloquently put it.

I'll tell you something juicy about that Lynch cartoon... Lynch actually owns it! Bob Cumbow, who wrote "David Lynch Folds Space" for 24LiesASecond, handed the Man a printed copy during a signing session. According to Bob, Lynch stared at the cartoon looking a little befuddled. Ha! I guess he deserved a little taste of his own medicine. ;-)

Thanks for having me tested, Adam. It was a real pleasure!

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Peet, in the time I've known you I've enjoyed finding out all the little, important things about you, as well as the big, important things, and here we have a couple more (I leave it to the reader to determine which is big and which is little):

You managed to perplex David Lynch?! Beautiful. Not many can make such a claim, I'd guess!

And you had even a fleeting moment where you saw a pair of legs you reasonably thought belonged to Xenia Onatopp?

I am and continue to be amazed.

Thanks for such great responses, P.G., and thanks, Adam, for highlighting a very worthy, fascinating and entertaining subject!

Adam Ross said...

Good point Dennis, I think confusing David Lynch has to rank somewhere between out-drinking a fish and making Chuck Norris cry.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the kind words, Dennis. If anyone could make Chuck Norris cry, it's you. Love ya, man!

Now let's get back to that cartoon where I'm out-drinking a fish...