Monday, November 30, 2009

What the Rest of 2009 is Looking Like For Yours Truly

Well, folks. I hope you all had a lovely and plentiful Thanksgiving, as I did up in New Hampshire. I'm currently writing this on Sunday night while still in that great Granite State I was raised in and am planning on traveling back via train to my fair city on Monday. Since I'm jobless, I realize I can stay in New England longer, but I've got forms to fill out and serial plays to get ready for.

Plus, I miss my couch. Seriously, folks. That thing doesn't lie on itself, y'know.

Any ole fuckeroo, as you no doubt may have noticed, this blog (as well as its author) tends to get pretty directionless towards the tail end of the year, so I'm hoping the remaining posts for 2009, though haphazard and aimless, are still worth your while.

My current plan is to write up a few reviews and assessments on some plays and films I've seen recently, as well as to plug the fourth episode of Entrenched, which goes up at the Vampire Cowboys Battle Ranch as part of the penultimate Saturday Night Saloon for the third season.

In terms of showgoing, it's looking as though the pieces in Fight Fest will most likely be the remaining shows I see for the rest of the year (subject, of course, to change). UPDATE: I just got back and am in my apartment in Brooklyn, and realize I typed the previous sentence in haste. There are actually quite a number of shows outside of Fight Fest that I'm looking forward to seeing, such as the Production Company's show, Meg's New Friend, for example.

Which means that, once I'm done seeing the shows at Fight Fest, I'll tally and unveil my Top 10 list for the year.

Before we know it, it'll be 2010.

Which means it'll be Nosedive's 10th Season.


And that, of course, means a whole slew of new aggressive and shameless self-promotional plugs.

Insanely busy for a lazy guy with no job,

James "Lummox on the Loose" Comtois

Labels: ,

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, Everybody!

Well, not that it matters much, since I've already been MIA with this site, but I'm off to New Hampshire. I’m hoping to resume posting in earnest on Monday. Have a good holiday, everyone.

Eatin' a bird,

James "Thurman T. Turkey" Comtois


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Episode Three of Entrenched

Entrenched: Episode 3 from Pete Boisvert on Vimeo.

Written by James Comtois

Directed by Matt Gray

Rebecca Comtois - Bryan Enk - Peter Ross Parker
Ben VandenBoom - Merlyn Wolf - Christopher Yustin

Video by Pete Boisvert

Check out all three videos thus far for the series here.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Johnna Talks Angel Eaters: Episode One, Jeff Talks Saloon

So, okay. I've not been blogging much lately. And when I have been, it's just been postings of past and future Nosedive events. Well, I've been a little busy. With rehearsals for episode 3 of Entrenched, rewrites for episode 4, and being bogged down with day job work, I haven't had much time to write substantial posts.

And of course, today, I got laid off.

Guess I can cross that off my list for things in the way of blogging.

Although, I'll now have to spend much of my time looking for a new job. Go figure.

Anyway, while I try to sort stuff out over on my end (read: lay on the couch while collecting severance and unemployment), I invite you to check out Nosedive vet Zack Caloon's interview with Johnna Adams, who wrote three of my favorite plays last year, the Angel Eaters Trilogy. In it, she talks about the writing process, sources of inspiration and a forthcoming Angel Eaters prequel trilogy, which is super-freaking cool indeed.

I've also wanted to gush a little bit about the Saturday Night Saloon, but that will have to happen at a later date. In the meantime, I think Jeff Lewonczyk hit the nail on the head with this post on the monthly event. In particular, he writes:

"The Saloon is not a commercial enterprise for tourists, nor is it middlebrow not-for-profit fare, nor is it avant-garde onanism. It’s the embodiment of a nascent community, one that lives in the culture of our present moment and combines the DIY aesthetic of punk with the geek’s love of genre minutiae to create something both more ancient and more cutting-edge than either: a public forum where artists are invited to experiment out loud, in real time, with ways of having fun in a roomful of people thirsty for stories."

He really nails it. Read the whole thing here.

Anyway, read those pages, and I'll check in with you folks soon.

Goin' through some shit, man,

James "Eh, Not Really" Comtois

Labels: , ,

Monday, November 16, 2009

Photos From The New Guignol

Photos by Daniel Winters and Sarah Riffle for The Blood Brothers Present...The New Guignol are now up on the Nosedive Productions Web site.

Check them all out here.

Still giving you nightmares,

James "Counterproductive Night Light" Comtois

Labels: ,

Friday, November 13, 2009

This Saturday: Episode Three of Entrenched

Nosedive Productions

in association with

The Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company



A five-part WWI/Time Travel serial play by James Comtois

Two men fight in the trenches.

One died yesterday.

The other won’t be born for another 55 years.

Directed by Matt Gray

Rebecca Comtois - Bryan Enk - Peter Ross Parker
Ben VandenBoom - Merlyn Wolf - Christopher Yustin

As part of the Vampire Cowboys' Saturday Night Saloon.

Also featuring

by Dustin Chinn
(Member of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab)
directed by Qui Nguyen

by Mac Rogers
(Universal Robots; Viral; Hail Satan)
directed by Jordana Williams

by Crystal Skillman
(The Telling Trilogy; 4 Edges; Birthday)
directed by John Hurley

by Brent Cox
(The Dog & Pony Show)
directed by Padraic Lillis and Courtney Wetzel

written & directed by Jeff Lewonczyk
(Babylon, Babylon; Macbeth without Words)

Saturday, November 14
at 8 p.m. at the Battle Ranch
405 Johnson Avenue, Brooklyn


Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New Saloon On Its Way

We're now amidst rehearsals for the third episode of our World War I/time travel serial, Entrenched, for the impending Saturday Night Saloon. Penny Dreadful co-creator Matt Gray is helming this episode and, along with the cast, is bringing the awesome sauce and doing a damn fine job. I'm super excited to be showing this to folks.

Speaking of the Saloon, it looks as though I'll be in Piper McKenzie's serial, Lady Cryptozoologist, filling in for series regulars, Roger Nasser and Aaron Baker, respectively. So even more reason to check out this Saturday's Saloon.

(Like you didn't already have many, many reasons to check it out already.)

And I've mentioned before this night is free, right?

Oh, wait. it says so right on the flyer. Duh.

Scramblin' through time,

James "Time Waster Traveler" Comtois

Labels: ,

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The House of the Devil

The House of the Devil, the new horror film written, edited and directed by Ti West, is all about the slow build. Those seeking wall-to-wall violence will most likely be very disappointed. This is about ramping up the tension for as long as possible before unleashing the intensity.

Jocelin Donahue plays Samantha, a college sophomore who just landed a room in an off-campus house. Only problem is, she's dealing with some money problems and has to come up with $300 for rent by next week. While contemplating her money woes, Samantha sees flyer on a bulletin board on campus that says "Baby $itter Needed."

When she meets Mr. Ulman, the soft-spoken, well-dressed, yet ultra creepy man who posted the flyer (played by the always awesome Tom Noonan), he confesses that it's not a child she'll be attending to, but his mother. Although this throws Samantha for a loop, and her best friend, Megan (Greta Gerwig), tells her to walk away, Mr. Ulman offers her $400 to stay in the house until midnight. How can she refuse?

Aside from the fact that, you know, he and his wife (Mrs. Ulman, played by Mary Woronov) creep her the hell out, the house is in the middle of nowhere, and that Samantha doesn't have a car. She needs the money and is unaware that she's a character in a horror film, so we'll cut her some slack for accepting the gig.

The opening title cards about Satanic worship in America in the '80s (as well as, well, the title itself) lets you know this couple isn't who they say they are and aren't to be trusted, which adds to the tension and suspense all the more. We know right out of the gate they're up to no good and have sinister intentions with Samantha, so we're stuck waiting with bated breath for the proverbial shoe to drop as Samantha bides her time in the giant house with no sign of this mother she has to tend to.

And yes: the audience's patience is rewarded. The shoe definitely drops. Oh, boy, does it drop.

The House of the Devil takes place in 1982, but more than that: it looks like it was made in the early '80s, with the scratchy and faded film print, dated opening titles and corresponding freeze-framed shots. Plus, the characters look like they're living in 1982, as opposed to attending an '80s-themed costume party.

Another thing that's impressive about The House of the Devil is that West uses many tropes of early-80s horror films - babysitters in peril, a creepy and presumably empty mansion, Satanic worship - without relying on clichés or cheap "gotcha" moments. In fact, the two times I jumped in the first half of the movie were moments when things actually happened (rather than, say, someone being startled by a cat; speaking of which, there is no cat in this movie, I'm happy to say).

West and Donahue succeed in making Samantha a likable, sympathetic and believable heroine, not a bird-brained coed. She's a character, not an archetype. In fact, the acting across the board is top shelf and grounds the film in reality.

Is this movie groundbreaking? Of course not. Is it an exceptional technical exercise? Perhaps. (Although I'd say the above-mentioned acting and believability of Samantha makes this more than just a technical exercise.) But considering the current wave of new horror films being released are about ratcheting up the body count and gore with no consideration for suspense, it's admirable and refreshing to see a new horror film that's all about showing restraint for as long as possible before letting all hell break loose.

Not eating the pizza,

James "Lunar Eclipse Fanatic" Comtois

Labels: , ,

Friday, November 06, 2009

Already Friday? Hot Damn.

I know, I know, I owe you lust muffins another horror film entry. Well, it's coming. Just not this week. I was hoping/thinking (perhaps supremely naively) that this week would be low-key and mellow, but...oh, no. Oh, no.

Not that I'm complaining, mind you. I had a grand time sitting in and participating in the reading for Richard Lovejoy’s connected Twin Peaks-like plays, A Brief History of Murder (Part One being The Detectives, Part Two being The Victims), finishing the rewrites for the latest draft of The Little One, hunting around for props for the third episode of Entrenched and gearing up for the first rehearsal of said episode tonight. It's just that, with all that tomfoolery, Friday just snuck up on me before I had any chance to shit down and rewatch one of the two movies I had (have) in mind to write about. Ah, well.

Again, not that I'm complaining. It's Friday. There's no reason to complain about it being Friday. Ever.

Will I have time this weekend to rewatch the horror films I have in mind? We shall see. I certainly hope so. But we shall see.

In the meantime, have a good weekend, folks. I’ll catch you all on the proverbial flippity-flop.


James "Flibberty" Comtois


Wednesday, November 04, 2009 Reviews The Blood Brothers Present...The New Guignol

Even though we had a super-limited run, it is still nice to get the press attention we did. Byrne Harrison gave us a very nice review over at

He writes:

"The New Guignol rips its terror from the headlines and reminds us that the scariest thing that we can encounter is other people, not the supernatural horrors and bogeymen that are the creations of our own imaginations."

He also says some very nice things about the very lovely and talented ladies in the cast. Read the whole thing here.

Creeping people out,

James "Itchy" Comtois

Labels: ,

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Lauren Wissot, Sexual Violence, and The New Guignol

Patrick recently stumbled upon this. In addition to it being quite flattering towards us and our show, Ms. Wissot makes some very interesting and astute observations on sexual violence in film and theatre and the double-standard of depicting male violence toward women and vice versa (spoiler: refreshingly, she doesn't finger-wag or scold).

She writes:

"There just seems to be something in the American DNA that delivers a knee-jerk reactive cry of misogyny whenever women and sexual violence are combined in a cultural product that doesn't attempt to apologize for that depiction. (In music the controversy surrounding Eminem comes to mind.) The Grand Guignol and directors like von Trier and Cronenberg merely present this taboo subject for the audience to explore, acting as artistic messengers while ridding themselves of any simplistic moralizing."

I would tend to agree with her observations, particularly her assessment of one of our shorts for the evening, "Dominique."

In "Dominique," a young woman carves her name into her lover's flesh while he's passed out after a one-night stand. The piece was met with some gasps and quite a number of laughs (albeit some of them of the nervous variety). Ms. Wissot points out that if the roles were reversed - if we depicted our actor, Ryan Andes, carving up a half-naked and unconscious Marsha Martinez - we would most likely not get any sort of laughs, nervous or otherwise.

(I should also point out that Ryan is a pretty big guy while Marsha is rather petite. A little lady carving up a big guy? Kinda funny, if you have a similar sense of macabre humor to me and many of the folks over at Nosedive Central. A big guy carving up a little lady? Not so funny.)

Then again, my sister, who directed the piece, pointed out that if we staged it with the roles reversed, we may have been given a pass, since the piece was directed by a woman (the whole American Psycho syndrome: reviled as misogynist filth when written by a man [as a book] and championed as bold feminism when directed by a woman [as a film]).

And of course, this is all putting aside the fact that these pieces were all based on real news events, so our staging of "Dominique" with the woman inflicting the violence on the man wasn't based on us making any sort of political statement, but was rather based on, well, how the events unfolded in the newspaper article.

Anyway, there's some nice stuff said about us and some interesting thoughts on the subject of Guignol theatre in the piece. Read the whole thing here.

Rarely apologetic for what he stages,

James "Okay, Sometimes Apologetic" Comtois

Labels: , ,


As I had mentioned earlier, I wanted to write more on films and plays I've seen that I have strong feelings about. Even though it's been out of theatres for months and is now on DVD, I just saw this film and felt that this is indeed one of those movies that merits some mention.

There's a scene in Adventureland where James and Joel, two 20something carnival workers, sit in one of the games booths hearing Falco's "Rock Me Amadeus" playing on the overheads. But, wait a minute. Didn't we hear this song already in an earlier scene? Right when we make that realization in the audience, James goes, "Jesus Fucking Christ! They play this song like 20 times a day!"

This is one of the many small scenes and exchanges in Adventureland where writer-director Greg Mottola gets the little details right. It transported me back to the time when I worked at the local movie theatre in New Hampshire after graduating high school and had to listen to the same damn songs on repeat all day.

There are in fact many details, big and small, that Adventureland gets just right. The bonds made between co-workers at a demeaning customer service job. The way the staff undermines the petty rules and policies of the job. The makeout sessions in the back seats of car that result in disappointment and rejection the morning after. The socially awkward blurting out too much information to the pretty girl. And, of course, the sadistic cruelty of being forced to listen to the same damn song 20 times a day.

In Adventureland, Mottola expands the coming-of-age theme he used to good (if not broad) comic effect in his debut film Superbad to make a sincerely touching, funny and honest film about being young, falling in love, and the indignities and delights of getting your first incredibly shitty job.

It's the summer of 1987 and James, played by Jesse Eisenberg (from such films as The Squid and the Whale, Zombieland and the sadly overlooked 2002 film Roger Dodger) is a socially awkward college graduate getting ready to cash in on his promised graduation present: a trip to Europe before going to Columbia for grad school in the fall.

Unfortunately, since his father recently lost his job, his parents can't afford to send him on his trip. To make matters worse, instead of traveling around Europe, he'll have to get a job summer job. The only job he's remotely qualified for (as degrees in Comparative Literature don't quite prepare you for the workforce, trust me) is at the local Adventureland amusement park. He is, in fact, a carnie.

At the park, he develops bonds with his co-workers, including Joel (Martin Starr) and Em, a very intelligent and attractive young woman played with quiet confidence and believability by Kristen Stewart (of Twilight fame). A tentative and awkward romance develops between James and Em, even as the hottest girl on the carnie staff, the ever-unattainable Lisa P. (Margarita Levieva), starts making eyes at James.

There are some superb scenes throughout this movie that shows Mottola's gifts for subtlety and poignancy, in particular those dealing with the love triangle between James, Em, and the amusement park's maintenance man, Connell (Ryan Reynolds, in a surprisingly nuanced and sympathetic turn). Connell is an unhappily married man that is having an affair with Em, unbeknownst to anyone else. What complicates matters is that Connell and James are friends, and James frequently confides in Connell about his feelings towards Em. As jealous as Connell is about James and Em's budding relationship and periodically tries to push James away from Em and towards Lisa P., they are actually friends, and it's clear that Connell actually wishes the best for James and enjoys his company.

The way Mottola and the cast play these scenes among these four characters (Em, James, Connell and Lisa P.) reveal that this isn't a hackneyed coming-of-age melodrama. No one is a clear-cut hero or villain, manipulator or patsy. They're well developed, flawed and interesting characters. (Although Lisa P. isn't a particularly bright or interesting person, she's neither a manipulative bitch nor cardboard cutout. I certainly remember working with a few Lisa Ps. at my various customer service jobs in my 20s and Levieva played her pretty much on the mark.)

I also loved the soundtrack and the way it was used (the previously-mentioned "Rock Me Amadeus," for example). True, the music definitely pulls at the nostalgia strings, but it also successfully pulled me into the story and the setting (there's another great moment using Crowded House's "Don't Dream it's Over" and INXS's "Don't Change"). After I finished watching the movie I found many of the songs online and played them on repeat on my computer.

I'll admit the movie isn't without its flaws. The main character and his friends are just out of college, and often act as if they're just out of — or still in — high school (with James paranoid about his mother seeing him drink, his friend constantly punching him in the nuts and many of the characters making out the back seats of their cars). Some scenes in the final act tread dangerously close into Dawson's Creek territory. And I'm still not sure whether or not Bill Heder and Kristin Wiig's characters/scenes are in the right movie (even though they are very funny).

But these are all forgivable because, for the most part, the movie gets things very, very right. Adventureland is a truly wonderful film that didn't get the attention it deserved during its theatrical release.

Wanting to win a big-ass panda,

James "Cheater" Comtois

Labels: ,

Monday, November 02, 2009


After a short four-performance run, The Blood Brothers Present...The New Guignol has gone up into the Great Production in the Sky. I was (am) really proud of both this show and everyone who worked on it. The cast & crew really brought their A-games to this and stepped out of their comfort zones (and plus, were overall very fun to be around each night), and I eagerly await playing with everyone involved again in the near future.

This may have been one the most balls-out fun I've had working on and seeing a Nosedive show. I ended up getting downright schoolgirl giddy each night when we opened the house and had people filing in. I'm a little sad to see it go.

Many, many thanks and much love to everyone who worked on this and came to see the show. This was an absolute blast.

As sad as I am that we're closed, I am looking forward to using some newly-acquired free time to lay low, see a couple plays here and there, work on rewrites for The Little One, and simply enjoy some leisure time before starting rehearsals for the latest episode of Entrenched for the next Saturday Night Saloon.

I also just wanted to offer a note of congratulations to Brian Enk, Matt Gray, and everyone involved in the Sinister Six Must Be Destroyed film series, which I attended Sunday evening and thoroughly enjoyed.

All in all, it was a really satisfying Halloween weekend for me. This may be one of those highs I'll try to ride (and milk) for a couple of weeks.

Doing what he can to stave
off post-show depression,

James "Bloodstuffed" Comtois

Labels: ,

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.