The view from Walkerville, Montana
Perched at 6000+ feet in Walkerville, overlooking Butte, Montana, the view is a bit schizoid. Perhaps it’s the altitude, messing with the brain. Or perhaps it’s reality. Walkerville and Butte are places which are archetypal American places, forerunners to contemporary Detroit. Butte was once – 1880-1920 – one of the wealthiest cities in America, sitting astride “The Richest Hill on Earth.” Today it probably ranks as one of the poorest places in the country, and the once bustling small city is now a nearly abandoned town, shrunk to 25,000 or so. Empty houses and office buildings, warehouses and churches slowly crumble into the ground. Walkerville, a thriving town in its heyday is now a place of derelict houses, and it seems, the kind of people looking for a cheap refuge from the world. I’m setting my newest film, Coming to Terms, in this town.
Out in the wider world the follies proceed. Mitt Romney, in his inimitable style, went abroad to burnish his presidential stature and typically stepped promptly into dog doo of his own making. That on his first day out, in a carefully plotted endeavor by his aids to avoid all problems. The Republicans, after the circus of the primaries and the orchestrated endless “debates” seem intent on spending a billion and more dollars in super-PAC funds to hornswoggle the American people into believing that this guy is, as the cliche goes, “presidential timber.” Sort of like the year 2000, when we elected a spoiled stupid rich frat boy to run the nation (into the ground.) Well, actually we didn’t elect him – he was appointed by a corrupt Supreme Court.
Mr Romney, who emerged from the zany collection of Presidential wanna-be’s coughed up by the delirious Tea Party influenced primaries, as the choice of the back-room pols of the party, is, unfortunately for them, laden with some very heavy baggage: he’s Mormon, which most allegedly Christians regard as a heretical cult, and the rest of humanity regard as a latter-day religious legend and hoax, echoing that of, oh, Christians, Muslims and about any other religion coming out of The People of the Book. Then he’s rich, and courtesy of the Occupy Wall Street folks, (who, incidentally have not evaporated as our mass media would seem to indicate) he’s identified as part of the 1%. These days that puts him in the company of bankers, Wall Street con men, and other currently frowned upon members of the “financial business” community. And like his cohorts in fiscal flim-flam Mr Romney stashes much of his wealth off-shore, in the Cayman Island, Switzerland, and other dirty havens for dubiously obtained money. And owing to this typical rich man’s practice, Mr Romney is loath to reveal his past taxes, likely because despite his reputed half-billion in wealth, he didn’t pay any. He surmises, correctly, that such a revelation would not sit well with any but his 1%. And he can’t win an election with only 1% of the vote. Even if he tacked on the 30% or so of dyed-in-the wool racists who simply cannot abide an “N” in the White House, and will vote for any “Anglo-Saxon” who coos the correct euphemisms which the times seem to have forced our racists to take cover behind. And then, alas, Mitt went forward to London (and then plans to go on to Poland and Israel), where in a mere 24 hours he managed to make an Olympian-scale foot-in-mouth act, which begot mockery from the Brits, and bled back to our shores as a grim electoral comedy. I can’t imagine what goofs he’ll manage in Poland and Jerusalem, but the fields are fertile for yet more faux pas from fabulous Mitt. Fox and the super-PACs have their work cut out for them trying to install their brilliant choice into the Oval Office.
Meantime here in Butte, the most famous somewhat recent citizen is being feated, post-humously, in the Evel Knievel Days, currently crowding our miniature downtown.
For the coming month or two, this blog will go into a little rest period as I am rather occupied with the new film, and myriad other things. For anyone wishing to follow the making of Coming to Terms, there’s a new blog which will follow as best I can the preparation, work, and I think I’ll keep it going as whatever happens with the film happens. A little inside look at the process. Just go here.
And as I start to dig in on this new film, just arriving in the email comes the tepid festival-speak notice from the Toronto Film Festival turning down Imagens de uma cidade perdida, Dissonance, and also The Narcissus Flowers of Katsura-shima. I’m fully aware that neither film has the kind of warm-butt’s-in-seats sort of commercially qualities which our festivals, especially biggies like Toronto, seem these days to favor. I suspect the new one, quite serious and I don’t plan on it being anywhere near sort of abiding by either film-world aesthetic or content conventions, will be any more welcome.