Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Not Great, But Not Bad... Still Love the Coen's

*** 03.31.09 - Burn After Reading... 2008... Directors Joel and Ethan Coen

I'm usually a big fan of the Coen brothers and loved this cast with Frances McDormand, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, John Malkovich. I had hoped this one would blow me away, it was good but it wasn't great. Perhaps I had heard too much about it prior to the seeing it, but it didn't hook me as much as some of their other films. I still think "Blood Simple" or "Fargo," are better Coen films.

The DVD was interesting, there are some extra features, but they are definitely more Hollywood Machine made and at points the Coen Brother's themselves even look a little bored doing the interviews.

Hey listen, this is a good film... I guess I've just been spoiled with their work and the casts work before that I was just left a little flat this time.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Theory In Structure

*** 1/2 03.27.09 - Stranger Than Paradise... 1984... Director Jim Jarmusch

I first saw this film in college in a film class. My professor at the time had a print of it somehow and had us watch it to prove to us that a small film can be a good film and that you really don't need a huge budget to make a film.

Director Jim Jarmusch first made this film as a 30 minute short in 1982, then expanded it to a feature for it's release in 1984. Shot in beautiful black and white, the film has no inter cutting, no dissolves, no fades. The idea behind the film was to shoot each scene as one long take. The discipline behind that, makes this a very interesting film to study.

The score is delicious by the films star John Lurie. His co-star, Richard Edson has an instantly recognizable face, he's one of those character actors you know right away. Their performances are comedic and touching.

There is nothing on the DVD other than the film and that was disappointing, but the film is worth seeing and my suggestion... turn off all of the lights, get it nice and dark, turn on the film and enjoy the rich black and white and awkward, touching story.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Catching Up

** 1/2 03.25.09 - 9 1/2 Weeks... 1986... Director Adrian Lyne

When I was in college, this was the hot film of it's time. There was so much sex in it that it was almost an X rated film! No one ever wanted to admit that they had seen it, but a lot of people did or at least said they did. That was then, this is now...

Wow, the film looks and feels dated in so many ways. Yes it pushed the boundaries back then, but now it doesn't seem as dynamic as it was then. Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke lead the film and are OK in it, but over the years it's lost it's steam... it's heat... it's cache.

** 1/2 03.24.09 - YPF... 2007... Director Martin Geros

Saw this film on Netflix, it was described as, "The tales of four couples -- and one bold trio -- are explored in candid and hilarious detail in this fresh Canadian comedy." So I thought I would give it a shot.

It's an interesting film, hits you right in the face from the word go and for the most part is pleasant. The performances are interesting and the subject matter, sex and relationships was pretty typical. As soon as I figured out the basic structure of the film... within the first 10 minutes, I could have finished the film myself.

The DVD doesn't come with anything extra and that's a pity.

All in all, if you don't have to pay for it... or pay a lot for it and you want something light, occasionally funny and some times a little interesting then check it out, but I think you can probably find other choices.

** 03.24.09 - Center Stage... 2000... Director Nicholas Hytner

OK, not a film that will set you on fire or win any awards, but it was a fun little sweet film about dance. I used to teach high school and had several students who were into dance and loved this film, so when it was on cable the other day, I actually stopped and watched as I was spinning through the channels. I was only going to watch for a minute, but ended up watching the whole film. Call me silly, but I did it for my old students and smiled.

**** 1/2 03.23.09 - Cinema Paradiso... 1988... Director Giuseppe Tornatore

I remember seeing this film, many, many years ago and loved it in the theaters and still love it today. Giuseppe Tornatore does an amazing job telling the story of a young boy and his connection with film, specifically the relationship between the boy and the projectionist in a small town in Italy.
For someone who loves films and can remember saving up his allowance and going to the theater on Saturday morning, I relate to this story on so many levels.

The DVD comes with extras and the director's cut of the film, which is a little longer than the U.S. theatrical release. The DVD is great!

For me, this film makes me feel warm inside and reminds me of my youth and my passion for filmmaking.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

One Good... One Not So Good Treat

** 03.19.09 - Humboldt County... 2008... Directors Darren Grodsky and Danny Jacobs

I had hoped for so much from this film considering I went to grad school for a while in Arcata at Humboldt State and then lived and worked there for some time as well. I love the area and miss it a lot, so when I saw this film and how it was described I thought great! When I got the film and watched it, I was disappointed.

The cast is a very good one with Peter Bogdanovich and Frances Conroy. Grodsky and Jacobs are first time directors, who clearly had some big time money attached to the project, but still missed it.

The film deals with a culture and life that does exist in reality, but they missed the mark on so many things and left me missing the real Humboldt County even more.

The DVD has a lot of extras, including a behind the scenes piece and special marketing piece shot with the two directors that was not funny at all!

The film gets two stars from me first because of the location and the feelings it evokes for me and the second star because I respect anyone who gets a film made.

**** 03.16.09 - Napoleon Dynamite... 2004... Director Jared Hess

This film caught everybody by storm and when you look at it again, it's still a very good film. The characters are well drawn, quirky and very funny. Jon Heder is phenomenal leading the way playing "Dynamite."

There are moments when you know exactly what these young kids feel like, despite how awkward they act. It's just a fun film from start to finish.

The DVD has a couple of extras, nothing big, but it's a nice package. See the film and there will probably be at least one or two moments that will hit home.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Getting Cold and Getting Religion

*** 03.16.09 - Religulous... 2008... Director Larry Charles

This film deals with questioning religion and that is controversial for many folks. So I won't go into it too much, but will say both sides should probably see the film, talk and form their own opinions. I liked the film... Liked Bill Maher and can also see why it didn't get a larger release. I do hope now that it's out on DVD more people will find it.

Make sure when you do watch the film, you check out the DVD extras, there are some really good extras.

**** 03.12.09 - Fargo... 1996... Director The Coen Brothers

One of my favorite Coen Brothers movies, "Fargo" has rich characters, a very interesting story and is beautifully shot. Nominated for 5 Academy Awards, winning two for Best Actress and Best Original Screenplay.

Frances McDormand steals the show and William H. Macy was amazing as well. The DVD has a lot of extras and it's worth spending some time going through.

I feel in love with the Coen Brothers after seeing, "Blood Simple" the lovefest continues with this film as well!

Friday, March 13, 2009

1-900 (Trailer)

"1-900" is an exciting thriller about a female serial killer and two detectives hunting her down. Its a cross between, "Basic Instinct," and "9 ½ Weeks," with a little "Pulp Fiction" thrown in for good luck.

This was the first feature we not only made, but sold! It brings back good memories.

3 Days... 3 Hours... 3 Minutes... 3 Seconds... (Trailer)

They walk down the streets barely noticed... looked upon as merely junkies or prostitutes... they've brought it all on themselves.

This is how most react when they see a couple like Randy and Lex. A not-so-dynamic duo, trying to survive on the mean streets. Both have done anything to live, survive, to breath just one more day.

3 Days... 3 Hours... 3 Minutes... 3 Seconds, takes a look at piece of the world that no one wants to see. It’s hard, it’s gritty, it’s reality. Even though life beats them down on a regular basis, Randy and Lex have dreams of making their lives better, but can they do it?

Can two people who live from trick to trick, escape a predestined life, away from the drugs, the stealing, the sex, and the deception? Life is very precious and it’s clear once you see their story, that far too many are a paycheck away from living a similar life. In fact we all could be just,

3 Days… 3 Hours… 3 Minutes… 3 Seconds… away from this modern day hell!

Dog Me: Potluck (Trailer)

What happens when you take a hard working couple... six of their best friends and three acquaintances... a handful of quirky, unique individuals that makes Jim Carey seem normal?Then bring them all together, ask them to cook their favorite dish and invite them to a party?

You've got the perfect ingredients for a night to remember!Expect to smile, laugh, think and maybe even cry as day to day life is exposed and turned upside down in,"Dog Me: Potluck"Can you imagine what dessert is like?

It's Here... "Slow Down... You're Dating Too Fast!" The Trailer

When you get a second, make sure you check out the trailer for our film, "Slow Down... You're Dating Too Fast!" I think you'll really like it! This will give you just a taste of how funny this film is.

Also, much love and respect to all of those who worked on the film! Show them some love to and order your copy today!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Out and About...

So my old computer some how went kaput on me and I had to get a new one a few days ago, so this is my first run with it out in the public. I love being able to take my laptop and write anywhere and everywhere, because there is a vibe of just being around people that I really get off on, even though I have my headphones on and I'm just plugging away, almost in my own world.

The new computer is a Toshiba and I love it. When I first got a laptop many, many years ago, it was my Dad who bought me a Toshiba, so in some ways I feel like I'm coming home again. The only problem with a new computer is that it takes a several days to get it up and truly running the way you like it and need it to. I've had to move folders and files all over the place and not all of them are where they are supposed to be... case in point, today I thought I would do some writing here at one of my many offices away from home aka "Starbucks," but the file that has all of my scripts wasn't transferred over, so I now have to go home download that file on a flash drive and move it over. It's a little thing, but it's what makes your computer more productive so it's going to take a little time.

My main goal is to get things back up and moving 100% so I can work on three things:

First... continue to pitch my new screenplay. I've got to try and get the "right" person to read it. I do believe it's a numbers game to a certain extent, but I don't need to send it to a million people if they're not going to read it. I need to get it to that one person who has vision, a little money and wants to take a chance on someone who has some pretty good ideas.

Second... I want to continue to look at what I've written in the past and trying to re-write, tighten and make those scripts even better. That way in addition to the one script I'm pitching, I can pitch a couple of more.

Third... I need use this bad boy to help get me to my ultimate goal of creating my own little slice of filmmaking heaven. I have a great vision of what I want my company to be and I have to work smartly about it. It's not just working for the sake of working but working with a sense of intelligence and purpose.

So that's where I am, just thought I'd drop some knowledge of what's going on. Something besides a review, which I hope by the way you all are enjoying the journey with me.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

An Intersting Mix... Not As Great As I Had Hoped... And One Great One!

** 03.11.09 - Zack and Miri Make a Porno... 2008... Director Kevin Smith

This gets two stars for a couple of lines, some because of the premise of the the film, but mostly Kevin Smith's name, but for the most part this was not a good film. I had hoped I would like this film so much more, but I didn't. In places it felt forced and awkward and I get it... Kevin loves the kind of nerdy guy with the hot chick and feeling like the nerdy guy some times I appreciate that, but some times the nerdy guy just isn't the coolest guy in the movie.

The DVD has a lot of the deleted scenes or re-cut scenes, but nothing extra and I was disappointed in that as well because usually you get some really good insight from Kevin regarding his process.

Bottom line... this is not at all close to even one of Smith's best films... "Mallrats" is better!

***** 03.10.09 - Gladiator... 2000... Director Ridley Scott

I can watch this film over and over and over again! Russell Crowe is great in the title role and Joaquin Phoenix is amazing. Director Ridley Scott does a phenomenal job at drawing us right into the film right off the bat and delivers from the word go! Hans Zimmer's score adds such a dynamic layer to the film that helps set it apart.

As for the DVD... one of the best out there. So much on it plus a great piece with Zimmer talking about how he created the score which is as fascinating as the behind-the-scenes making of the film piece.

This is a must see for anyone who likes films... period!

** 03.07.09 - Starwoids... 2001... Director Dennis Przywara

Let me start off by saying I am a Star Wars geek! It's why I am a filmmaker, I love the orginal three films, very mixed on the last three, so I know of what I speak. This film gives you a look at some really obsessed fans standing in line getting ready for the release of "The Phantom Menace."

It's a little odd and creepy, but fun because it's made by an independent filmmaker and that I will always support, but unless you're really into Star Wars, you're probably not going to enjoy this ride.

The extras are pretty good, including a little something something from Kevin Smith so if you're a geek like me or love Star Wars put it on your Netflix queue and show some love for the Indie filmmaker community.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Two Turned Into Three And Today Add One To Make Four!

**** 03.05.09 - The Wrestler... 2008... Director Darren Aronofsky

Wow... what a way to continue my run of movies. "The Wrestler," is a very good film and Mickey Rourke deserves all the accolades and awards for his performance. It's a rough life being in the ring and Director Darren Aronofsky does a brilliant job of giving you the flavor of Rourke's character's life. Marisa Tomei is sexy and interesting and I wished there were more to her character, because when she's on the screen... clothed and unclothed she is dynamic.

It is a sad, moving picture, but well worth seeing.

**** 03.04.09 - Local Hero... 1983... Director Bill Forsyth

This film wrapped up a day of watching films and continued the mood left over from "Big Night." If you've kept up with this blog you know I really love director Bill Forsyth's work and this is no different.

Like, "Gregory's Girl," Forsyth does an amazing job at bringing you into the culture and let's you feel apart of the town. The characters are well drawn, interesting and very funny.

It's a bitter sweet story about a big Houston oil company trying to buy up a town in Scotland and how the exec. sent over to negotiate the deal rediscovers what's really important in life.

No extras on the DVD, but you may not want them because after watching you'll be thinking about your own life and whether or not you're really living it or letting it drive you.

**** 03.04.09 - Big Night... 1996... Directors Campbell Scott and Stanley Tucci

I am a sell admitted "Foodie" and from one Foodie to another, this is a fabulous film. Directors Campbell Scott and Stanley Tucci does a a great job telling the story of two brothers from Italy trying to keep their restaurant afloat, banking everything on one huge night and superior meal.

Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub are perfectly cast and Minnie Driver... looking amazing, gives a strong performance along with Isabella Rosselini.

Nothing extra on the DVD, but make yourself a big bowl of pasta, pour a great glass of wine and enjoy a "Big Night," in.

***1/2 03.04.09 - Kill Bill Volume 2... 2004... Director Quentin Tarantino

OK as I recall, Volume 2 ties up and explains so much of what happens in, "Kill Bill Volume 1." Watching the films consecutively gives you a interesting look into what Tarantino might have been trying to do with both films.

I'm not going to compare the two, but I will say both films are good and Tarantino does a wonderful job with both.

The DVD extras are nice and Robert Rodriguez, who does the soundtrack for Volume 2 plays with his band at the premier party and it's hot.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Sunday Double Feature

***1/2 03.01.09 - Kill Bill Volume 1... 2003... Director Quentin Tarantino

This is technically Tarantino's fourth film although it's broken up into two, Volume 1 and 2. The one thing clear to me is that Tarantino is a very unique and stylish director. "Kill Bill Volume 1" is lush in color, visuals and quirky characters. I remember liking it when I first saw it, but appreciating it more when I saw Volume 2... we'll see if that's the same this time around.

Uma Thurman is really good in the film and if you are not looking for reality, but a exploitative romp, then it's a good film. The DVD also comes with a lot of good extras including the behind-the-scenes doc which explains some, but not all things. It would be very interesting to sit down and have dinner or drinks with Mr. Tarantino and just talk shop... getting a glimpse into his mind and thought process in terms of filmmaking would be fascinating.

*** 03.01.09 - Loop Dreams... 2001... Director Harvey Hubbell V
Now my double feature started out with this little find, "Loop Dreams." It is a documentary on the making of the low budget film, "BlackMale."( Low budget meaning under $5,0000.00 in their book) And once again this is a film that shows the trials and tribulations of making a film which as a director I appreciate and respond to.

Yes it's a low budget by Hollywood standards, but it's still more money than I've ever had to work with and it proves once again that money doesn't always equal success. The film "BlackMale" ended up as a straight to DVD I believe and judging from what I could see in this film, "Loop Dreams" was probably the stronger of the two.

There are no extras on the DVD, so you're getting the movie basically and that's that, but Director Harvey Hubbell V gives us a fun look at life on the set, but keep in mind... this is still a lot of money to make a film. Not as good as, "American Movie," "Loop Dreams" is fun to watch.