by Sam Juliano
Bayou filmmaker and arts lover Jeffrey Goodman is one of those rare people whose very name describe their essence. In the blogging community he stands alone in his astonishing humility, tireless energy and a deep, almost profound reverence for his fellow writers. Despite the experience of a lifetime in Paris, where the New Orleans native attended screenings of some of the cinema’s most beloved classics, Goodman is always seeking out the perceptions and opinions of those he feels have earned their keep in the cinematic circles.
The founder of a red carpet site called The Last Lullaby, (named after his maiden foray into filmmaking) Goodman is a master statesman, an eternally effervescent blogger, who makes all who visit his home feel like a member of his own family. Indeed, in citing the various influences that convinced him to launch his own blogsite, Goodman acknowledges: “I felt like I was sharing energy with a few friends in different places, and with the blogosphere it was like I discovered a whole new set of friends and cinematic inspiration.” Debuting in January 0f 2009, the personable Goodman uses The Last Lullaby to report on his weekly film viewings, and to platform the latest developments in the planning of his sophomore film effort, Peril, a film that will feature Tom Sizemore, tentatively set to shoot in northern Louisina in early 2012. Goodman’s most impressive turn as a blogger was a three-month project in the middle of last year surveying the cinema from 1926 to 2008, a tenacious daily recall of the best film of each year and the runners-up that figured in the summary judgement. Many fello wbloggers responded to Goodman’s irresistible posterings, and gave their own views which often conformed with those of The Last Lullaby’s proctor. During the venture Goodman expessed a marked preference for the works of Renoir, Bresson, Godard, Truffaut, Pialat, Ozu, Kitano, Kiarostami, Wenders, Dreyer, Rossellini, Anthony and Michael Mann, Lynch, Jarmusch, Penn, Altman, Ashby, Peckinpah, Hawks, Cukor, Walsh, Gordon Green, Bujalski and the Dardennes, and a professed ‘obsession’ with the French New Wave, though he has quite a bit of personal passion left for Italian neo-realism and the American New Wave, confessing that he strives for a combination of realism and minimalism in his own work.
Married in October of 2009 to Julie, a teacher of Pre-Cal and AP Calculus at a local high school, (the Goodmans are quite fond of their ‘lab-shepherd mix named Lola, who is named after New Orleans, Louisiana) Jeffrey proudly regards the time he spent living in France as “incredibly inspiring’ and “still the source where I draw the most motivation.” Says Goodman: “The French are such intense cinephiles, and as I was over there at a time of my life when I could really take advantage of all the arthouses and film energy that exists there, I made the most of it. I’m fluent in French so I’ve fortunately been able to read some of their great film publications like Cahiers du Cinema, Positif and Les Inrockuptibles. I saw so many things in the theatre during those few years, including Metropolis, The Big Heat, The Mother and the Whore, Pickpocket, The Cameraman, Dead Man, Through the Olive Tress, Kes, Germany After Zero, L’enfance nue, The Magnificent Ambersons, and a special five-film event to commemorate the French premiere of Pulp Fiction. Starting at midnight we saw Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Barton Fink, Bad Lieutenant and True Romance. They had ramen for all of us to eat at like four in the morning. It was one of the craziest cinephile experiences I’ve ever had, and just for sheer uniqueness, one of the most memorable.
A “list maker” at heart, Goodman responds to the “very tough” question of identifying his favorite films in the cinema by instead focusing in on the films that inspired him to become a filmmaker: Pierrot Le Fou (which he acknowledges is still a major favorite), Kings of the Road, La Chienne, Shoot the Piano Player, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Holiday, Letter from an Unknown Woman, The Shop Around the Corner, Written on the Wind, Splendor in the Grass and Les Roseaux Sauvages. Goodman admits he was inspired by the annual countdown posted at the blogsite Good Fellas by law student Dave Hicks as the model he used to move forward with his own survey. On another recent post at his place, Goodman asks readers to add to his own lineup of the cinema’s best cinematographers, naming himself Robby Muller, Vittorio Storaro, Gregg Toland, John Alton, Jack Cardiff, Raoul Coutard, Henri Decae, Pierre Lhomme, Ghilain Cloquet, Owen Roizman, Gordon Willis, Vilos Zsigmond, Jean-Yves Escoffier, Farhad Saba, Tim Orr, Dante Spinotti, Richard Rutkowski and Alain Morcoen. While the Bayou filmmaker is understandably partial to film at his site, he is also an avid music buff, who admits ‘there was a time when I only listened to rap and jazz, and then even a post-punk phase.’ Says Goodman: “Still my biggest musical hero has to be Bob Dylan. Other people I really like are: The Smiths, John Coltrane, The Beastie Boys, The Wu-Tang Clan, Talk talk, Joy Division and Massive Attack. And I’ve really been getting into the Kinks lately.” The last claim can be readily seen in a recent post at The Last Lullaby, when the filmmaker/blogger identified a Kinks song, “Twentieth Century Man” as one that he had been thinking of in a reflective moment.
Over the past year or so Goodman has been fortunately able to sustain himself on a salary from his filmmaking, but he taught tennis during the year he was raising funds to make his film, and in 2008 taught two film courses each semester at the Louisiana State University in Shreveport. Goodman was living in that city during the deadly Hurricane Katrina that destroyed most of New Orleans, and the director sadly reflects: “Although we weren’t directly affected in Shreveport, my Dad’s from New Orleans, and we had many Katrina evacuees come and stay with us. The hurricanes were a horrible event, but I’m really proud of how my state has recovered. And New Orleans is as great a place as ever to visit, to party and to eat.” Goodman left Shrevepot from 1998 to 2005, a time where he resided in Los Angeles. Goodman had previously attended high school in Shreveport at Captain Shreve, and then majored in French at St. Louis at Washington University.
An avid tennis player and cook, Goodman sizes up that peculiar mix engagingly: “I love to be in the kitchen and though I’m a much better tennis player than I am a cook, I still love to throw myself into a recipe I’ve never done before, and see where I land. Julie and I are both kinds food geeks and love the Food Network, Top Chef, Iron Chef and cookbooks. I love food, and my wife and I also love to eat out.”
Awarded a Fulbright to teach in France, the versatile Goodman claims the real catalysts in his decision to launch the blogsite are Kevin Olson of Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies and Jeremy Richter, two active bloggers who wrote fill reviews of his first film. This says Goodman, “introduced me for the first time to the whole cinephile blogosphere This was a real revelation for me and although I was already a cinephile, I was only sharing that energy with a few friends in different places.”
Perhaps the most eloquent declaration of all from the promising young filmmaker and movie buff is his general philosophy and his ultimate goals with the blogsite. As to the former Goodman opines: “One of the greatest feelings in life is the conviction that you have lived the life you want to live–with the rough and the smooth, the good and the bad–but yours, shaped by your own choices, and not someone else’s” which is perfectly wed to his goals at The Last Lullaby: “I think my ultimate goal is to just give people further insight into my life, my different films and me. I don’t really see myself as a critic and have felt that strong when it comes to writing about a particular film. But I do pride myself on my tastes, and would like to use my blog as a filter for people trying to decide what to listen to and what to see.”
For the popular internet clebrity, it’s a modest goal for a man with such lofty professional promise.