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Okay, full disclosure:  I’m not exactly a gamer.  In my house, you’ll find the likes of Skyrim, Call of Duty, and The Sims along with more than one brand of video console, but none of these are mine.  When I was eleven, you see, my mother sat me down in the doctor’s office as my right hand cramped into a seemingly permanent knot, convinced I was experiencing some kind of debilitating vitamin deficiency.  Nope.  It was Atari joystick carpal tunnel.  That was a thing.  And now you understand.  I’ve been on the wagon since 1987, but I’m willing to bail for Meriwether:  An American Epic, a role-playing game-in-development created by Sortasoft LLC designer Joshua DeBonis and writer (and, full disclosure, my friend) Carlos Hernandez.  The two met roughly five years ago via the Board Game Designers Forum in New York City where Hernandez learned of DeBonis’ fascination with the Lewis and Clark expedition and DeBonis learned of Hernandez’s gift for narrative.  Thus the Meriwether wheels were set in motion.  As Meriwether gathers funds from its Kickstarter campaign as well as interest from the likes of The Atlantic Monthly, I asked DeBonis and Hernandez to sit down for a conversation that covered everything from game design to the craft of writing to Borges to Roger Ebert to my eminent retreat from the real world sometime around November of 2013 when Meriwether officially drops.

Please explain what just happened.

Well, I just saw an ad in the NY Times for a ladies’ handbag.  It was selling for $9,200.  Sorry, but I just cannot explain that.

 

What is your earliest memory? 

I’m in a room with striped wallpaper and two twin beds.  My brother and I are jumping back and forth from one to the other when my mother comes in and says, “Settle down.  It’s nap time.”  She walks away.  We resume our jumping.

 

Please explain what just happened.

You tell me. I obviously missed something.

 

What is your earliest memory?

Stuck outside on my dark front porch, huddled in a scratchy patchwork blanket after stealing pennies and sneaking out to (closed) corner store in the middle of the night. My mom still doesn’t believe me on that one.

 

If you weren’t an actor, what other profession would you choose?

World traveling photo-journalist-writer-translator-spy.

With the November 20 release of Larry Clark’s Marfa Girl as a $5.99 pay-per-view feature-length film on his personal website, Clark (Kids, Bully) joins the ranks of indie directors (see Hal Hartley) who’ve been circumventing the system and, as he notes on his site, cutting out “the crooked Hollywood distributors.” Earlier this week Marfa Girl proved a hit at its Rome Film Festival premier, earning the Golden Marc’ Aurelio for Best Film. The synopsis from Clark’s site:

While the twenty-third Bond flick Skyfall enjoys its record-breaking box office debut, the auto and lifestyle online magazine Web2Carz is featuring an exclusive interview by Steve Karras with the man who’d shaped the look of the franchise in its earlier years – award-winning production designer Sir Ken Adam.  Adam has seven of the Bond films to his credits in addition to films like Agnes of God, The Madness of King George, and Dr. Strangelove. In the interview Adam discusses his family’s escape from Nazi Germany, his time in the RAF, 007, and his work with Stanley Kubrick.

Worried about how you’re going to get your zombie fix after the latest season of The Walking Dead is over? Well, fear no more. A double-dose of apocalyptic euphoria is on the way.

If you peruse the Arts and Culture archives of TNB’s 21 Questions, particularly the part that asks for a favorite actor, you’ll find Daniel Day-Lewis to be the most common answer.  He’s an actor’s actor, I suppose.  And also, he’s just that good.  I’m convinced, anyway, that if it weren’t for his casting as Abe in Spielberg’s Lincoln, fewer of us would be paying attention.  As TNB helmsman Brad Listi recently tweeted:

Please explain what just happened.

If you mean just now, I would have to say I just read this question.

 

What is your earliest memory?

You remember those small baby bike seats that your parents would put on the back of the bike? I remember riding in that with my dad and the way the bike swaying back and forth felt. Other than that, I feel like I was born yesterday.

It would seem Alfred Hitchcock is silhouetting himself into the public consciousness once again. He’s everywhere these days. For one thing, Vertigo recently (finally!) rose above Citizen Kane to top Sight and Sound Magazine’s best movies of all time. All time. The end. For another, there are Hitchcock biopics aplenty on the horizon. On October 20, HBO premieres The Girl, based on Tippi Hedren’s account of working with Hitch on The Birds, and the feature film Hitchcock — starring Scarlett Johansson, Helen Mirren, and Anthony Hopkins as the man himself — hits the big screen November 23. Behold, the trailer:

Watch this Funny or Die production starring Christopher Walken, Richard Belzer, and some “lovely assistants,” and you, too, will envision Walken spending his days taking close-up phone pics of his nose and sharpening knives with alarming gusto:

Ahead of a longer Killers concert documentary that legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog is directing, Rolling Stone premiered this exclusive Herzog mini-doc with the band on the magazine’s website today:

Please explain what just happened.

I woke up in the forest, then I was on a boat, now I’m in Virginia at a gas station in the township of Chilhowie. Like a boss…

 

What was your earliest memory?

When I was a little kid, my great grandma bundled my little brother and I up in our snowsuits, and the three of us trudged through a blizzard to go to a flea market. Imagine this little old white-haired grandma with two kids on some kind of vision quest through three-foot snow drifts to get nicknacks at a discount. That’s my childhood in a nutshell.

When the first glimpses of Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln surfaced, I thought, is there anything Day-Lewis can’t do?  Now that the first full trailer of Lincoln is here, I know the answer is nope.  Lincoln, directed by Stephen Spielberg and starring Tommy Lee Jones, Jared Harris, Sally Field, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, opens in select theaters on November 9 and nationwide on November 16.

Last Days Here, directed by Don Argott and Demian Fenton, opens with a frazzled, fifty-four-year-old Bobby Liebling on the sofa, living in his parent’s sub-basement, tugging on bandages that wrap open sores, and reflecting on the only things he knows how to do: rock-n-roll and drugs.  Liebling’s band, Pentagram, had been in the early seventies an even grittier, American answer to the likes of Black Sabbath, but botched auditions, ever-evolving line-ups, and Liebling’s drug-abuse had derailed Pentagram’s career.  Enter fan Sean “Pellet” Pelletier to nudge Liebling toward sobriety and back onto stage for a Pentagram revival.  There are moves, a girlfriend, prison, Fig Newtons, deals, paisley shirts, and marvels beyond the fact that Liebling has made it to fifty-four.  But mostly there’s the music.  I recently asked Pelletier about Last Days Here, Liebling, and life after the documentary’s release.

At some point in Hello I Must Be Going, Amy (Melanie Lynskey) trips on a beach and asks, splayed flat on the rocky shore, “where the motherfucking fuck is motherfucking bottom!”  In the aftermath of a surprise divorce, she’s moved back into her parent’s house, and in the way of their home renovations and retirement plans, when she begins a fling with a younger man (played by Girls’ Christopher Abbott).  And it’s Amy’s seemingly bottomless, endless sense of stasis that director Todd Louiso and screenwriter Sarah Koskoff navigate with such care … and a little humor.  I recently spoke with Louiso and Koskoff via phone about Hello I Must Be Going, the cast, the Marx Brothers, and defying the status quo (and the weather) to create a candid, female-centric film.