Films

Tackling Notes...

Image Probably the lamest blog title in the history of blog posts but really I’m not sure it can be engaging or exciting because the reality is, I’m not sure how exciting this post is going to turn out. This is a post about approaching notes you receive when writing a screenplay (insert explosions and something else cool to hold attention).

A handful of posts that I write are formed from procrastination but really are formed from me needing to mentally work things out. I talk my friends ears off so I take to this blog to really help myself. Right now I currently have maybe one of the greatest problems of all time – I have too many notes.

First, I should mention that I’m in two different writers groups. I’ve been in one for years with a group of friends and the other I’m fairly new to. Both consist of opinions I trust, and both consist of screenwriters. The groups meet at different times and function differently than each other. The jist is that you submit your writing and then everyone discusses/dissects it. Pretty standard protocol for a writers group.

It’s rare that I’d submit a feature to both groups at the same time, but in this case, it happened. For the first time ever I have an overload of notes. I’ve been staring at them for about a week to try and make sense of things. Trying to figure out which people overlap in their critiques, which notes are good, which aren’t, which notes I’m not incorporating because I’m stubborn, etc…

I’m curious as to how people deal with a ton of notes. I suppose the basic way to deal with them is to just break them down and throw out which notes ultimately work for you, that seems to make the most sense, right? Looking at notes is like looking at a massive puzzle that’s only sort of put together, but I suppose that’s what writing is. Fuck, I suppose that’s what any creative process is.

Notes on something you create are very interesting; they’re basically saying do this, instead of that. They have the ability to get in your head. They’re also a constant reminder that you don’t actually know everything in the world… Well, for me at least.

Note to self: I don’t know everything.

Off to tackle these notes (may be back on here writing about not incorporating notes).

Back To The Future Appreciation

Last night I went to the Arclight Theater in Hollywood and watched Back To The Future. If you’ve never been to the Arclight you’re doing yourself a disservice. I love this theater - Assigned seating, good popcorn, ushers who announces the movie to you, people who respect movies, soundtracks playing when you walk in… Basically a great movie going experience. I should note that I had never seen Back To The Future on the big screen, only part 2 and 3, so this was somewhat of a great experience for me. I’m not just saying this to say it, but somehow the movie was better on a big screen, seriously.

While I was watching the movie for the 198th time I really appreciated how I thought this was a perfect movie. From an entertainment point of view it is near perfect and from a structure point of view it is basically perfect. Fuck! I love this movie.

In honor of me seeing the movie for the first time in a theater, below are some links to things that I consider relevant for Back To The Future. If nothing else this is an appreciation of sorts…

Tom Wilson’s (Biff) Back To The Future Song:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwY5o2fsG7Y&w=420&h=315]

Tom Wilson’s podcast on Nerdist talking about recasting Marty McFly: Podcast.

Video of Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly before being recast. BTW – How crazy is it that Michael J Fox wasn’t Marty McFly for any moment in time? I think there should be a documentary on this actor switch. I’d love to know where Eric Stoltz stands on this whole thing: I almost can’t take it.

A reunion video 25 years later: Reunion central

Back To The Future Pedia: This is a crazy website

Claudia Wells (Jennifer aka Marty’s girlfriend) interview on why she left Back To The Future. It’s weird because it always seems like Elizabeth Shue was in these movies: Claudia!

Crispin Glover (George McFly) talking about leaving Back To The Future. It’s also strange to think that original George McFly wasn’t in the sequels: George!

Eric Tan conceptual artwork: Tan

How to Reboot Back To The Future! Shameless plug. Don’t care, I love this trilogy: 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rE8QLR8KLwk&w=560&h=315]

Oscar Predictions: 2013

Argo Wow, I have been totally slacking on postings lately but there is nothing better than Oscar season to change that. I love me some movies and even though I forget who wins 20 minutes after the awards are over, I love me some Oscars. However, something weird is happening this award season – I basically don’t have any fucking clue who is nominated for anything and have barely seen all of the nominated films. Why is that? How did this happen? Is it the movie quality? Is it the Internet taking me away from movies? Are award shows just irrelevant now?

I can’t think too much about it. I need to just dive into my predications.

I give you: 2013 Oscar awards predictions (even though I haven’t seen all of the films but don’t really need too).

BEST PICTURE

Amour Argo Beasts of the Southern Wild Django Unchained Les Miserables Life of Pi Lincoln Silver Linings Playbook Zero Dark Thirty

Winner: Argo. Argo has too much momentum. Affleck is going to win a best actor award some day… then best director… then we’re all going to look back on Affleck’s career and he’s going to down in history as having the most unique IMDB page ever.

BEST ACTOR Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables Joaquin Phoenix, The Master Denzel Washington, Flight

Winner: Daniel Day-Lewis. Never bet against DDL.

Side note: I watched Flight the other day and Denzel killed it.

BEST ACTRESS Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook Emmanuelle Riva, Amour Naomi Watts, The Impossible Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Winner: Jessica Chastain – because… um… I haven’t seen 4 out of the 5 movies in here. This is a strange category, someone either very obvious or someone unexpected always wins. I wonder if there could be a crazy Jennifer Lawrence win.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR Alan Arkin, Argo Robert DeNiro, Silver Linings Playbook Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

Winner: Waltz!

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS Amy Adams, The Master Sally Field, Lincoln Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables Helen Hunt, The Sessions Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook

Winner: Anne Hathaway. Remember when she hosted the Oscars that one year?

BEST DIRECTOR Michael Haneke, Amour Ang Lee, Life of Pi David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook Steven Spielberg, Lincoln Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Winner: Steven “I’m such a badass” Spielberg. Come on. It’s SS.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola, Moonrise Kingdom Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty John Gatins, Flight Michael Haneke, Amour Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained

Winner: I think Tarantino is going to win this thing but if John Gatins wins for Flight I won’t be mad. Did I mention that Flight was insane.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild Tony Kushner, Lincoln David Magee, Life of Pi David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook Chris Terrio, Argo

Winner: Tony Kushner. Because it’s a Spielberg film!

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM Brave Frankenweenie ParaNorman The Pirates! Band of Misfits Wreck-It Ralph

Winner: Sad to say I haven’t seen any of these in their entirety. So this is how we’re going to do this? Any Pixar films on here? Yes? Oh, Brave. Okay, Brave wins.

Award Show Irrelevancy?

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Watching the Golden Globes and SAG awards I can’t help but wonder if award shows have become irrelevant. Do people care any more? I obviously care because I’m watching them, and writing about them, but do average moviegoers and people care about award shows?

Before I go any further I should mention that there is a part of me that acknowledges I may be bitter because I’m not actually attending these award shows. If I were nominated for something at any award show, I don’t care if it was in the armpit of the world aka Panama City Beach, I’d be there the night before just waiting to make sure I get in. With that nugget in mind…

I don’t feel as though award shows are as relevant anymore for one reason: The oversaturation of stars. A big appeal to these shows was and is getting celebrities together, seeing them in one place, and then seeing them interact. When people used to ask what Jane Doe is wearing other people actually cared. Due to social media and paparazzi the appeal and mystique has faded. But is this really anything new? No.

So what happens when the appeal of celebrity is totally gone? What happens when we’re so immersed in Jane Doe’s instagram and Twitter life that nothing is new? Where do award shows go from there? Well, the actual award will have to mean something and people will have to care about what the award means.

Back in the day when I’d ask my mom to see a movie I’d pitch it as “It’s from the director who won the academy award for…” Does that thought process really exist anymore? I don’t necessarily think it does… as much. I don’t think society boasts about awards like it once did, especially when we’re talking about movies.

Just to confuse things and essentially make an argument against myself I checked out this article: According to this article when your film is nominated you roughly get a 22% spike in sales and then actually winning gives another 15% - That’s pretty significant. This is called the “Oscar Bump” and up until that article I thought the Oscar Bump didn’t happened anymore.

We’ll see how this plays out over the next 10 years. It’ll be interesting to see what happens, especially with technology changing the game even more than it currently is. We’ll see if the old school mysterious celebrity morphs into a newer common day “my life is yours to watch” celebrity. If this happens then award shows may have to adjust and become somewhat of a reality show in itself.

For the record I want a striving entertainment industry. I want award shows to be relevant and I want more people to see things because of those awards.

Alright.

I’m off to DVR the Oscars and prepare my predictions of who will win what.

Real quick - Can you answer who won the academy award for best picture last year and the year before?

The Truman Show: Underrated!

Image It’s been brought to my attention that just about every 8-12 months I get into long drawn out conversations about The Truman Show. I feel that I’m currently tipping the 12-month range so I was fortunate to catch it this weekend because it sparked something. I wanted to take a moment and lather, rinse, repeat – The Truman Show is completely and totally underrated.

Even if the movie didn’t have Jim Carrey aka The most bankable movie star at the time, this would stand alone as something that was so completely inventive and ahead of it’s time. Speaking of Carrey, this was his first non “I’m morphing my face” film when he was a star and I think that speaks volumes about the project itself.

As I watched this movie over the weekend I got a tad bit reminiscent and I need you to stick with me for a second. I specifically remember going with my buddy and two girls, one of those girls I had a massive crush on, the other was the buffer chick for the girl I had a crush on to default to when we got weird because we were 13. I walked into the movie with a super crush that could define me at the time and I left the movie basically forgetting that I even went with her, and somehow had an even bigger man crush on Jim Carrey movies. To my knowledge this was one of few films that really did this for me.

The film was more than just some movie, it was something that made you actually think about the possibility of a life being recorded for 24 hours a day without knowing and the future of entertainment. After thinking about the possibility you realize that this will probably one day be a reality and then it takes the next step of diving into the layer of our society and why we’re so voyeuristic. Why are we so curious of others? What makes their lives so special? Why am I investing in a person that doesn’t know I exist?

…And that’s what the Truman Show did for me. It made me ask questions and think about where we’re going. It also allowed me to look at Jim Carrey in a totally different way. Since we’re on the subject - Jim Carrey got robbed at the 1998 Academy Awards, the guy wasn’t even nominated, yet he won the Golden Globe that same year. ANNND since we’re on this subject I should probably note he was snubbed a year later with “Man On The Moon.”

I digress.

From a film point of view I think the structure of this film is insanely unique. Without getting to deep into this, it’s not your typical structured film but at the same time it is (wrap your head around that). The film doesn’t show its hand for the first 30 minutes which means we’re basically living with Truman and watching what everyone else is watching… That’s the brilliance of it!

I don’t feel like this movie gets enough credit. Come to think about it, I don’t know who would be giving the credit or how this can even be measured but I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say that they were influenced from this film.

Does this make me crazy? Am I the only one? I can’t be. Can I?

If you haven’t seen The Truman Show do yourself a favor and watch it. I don’t imagine how you can be disappointed, and if you are, you need to let me know so I can set you straight - Cause you’re nuts.

Note to self: Future underrated movie rant - Vanilla Sky.

(Future) The Dark Knight Rises review.

 

I should note that I haven’t actually seen The Dark Knight Rises but at this moment my expectations are starting to take over. I wish this wasn’t the case, I swore off high expectations for films after I pre bought tickets for a midnight showing of Indiana Jones 4 with my buddy. Never again would I think something was going to be so insanely cool that I may have to have a drink afterwards, but it’s happening at this current moment in time.

The worst part about all of this is that my tickets aren’t until next Sunday afternoon (don’t ask) so I now have to hear all of my friends talk about the awesomeness that is Christopher Nolan and just grin and bear it because they saw it on Friday and Saturday. I hate when people see things before me, it’s like someone taking the almanac from Back To The Future 2 and touting it around.

I have to get over that aspect and realize that ultimately this doesn’t stop what I hope my future Dark Knight Rises review is going to be. Judging from the trailers, the pictures, and other various aspects of the current onslaught of marketing I imagine I’m going to be saying something like this: — One week from now— Coolest fucking movie ever. I don’t really know where to begin or how to digest The Dark Knight Rises. Somehow Nolan and his crew managed to conclude this trilogy with the best installment yet. Somehow they made Batman’s voice sound normal and not like he’s about to have a hernia. Somehow Anne Hathaway didn’t annoy me with her on again off again over acting. Somehow Joseph Gordon Levitt worked. Somehow the same reoccurring characters in all Nolan movies were seamlessly intertwined. Somehow the political undertones of the 99% revolting seemed to somehow make sense. Somehow Liam Neeson once again stole the movie and all that was missing was him calling someone telling them his skill set. Finally, somehow Tom Hardy has just bumped himself into the “best Batman villain” conversation.

That’s it.

I realize that my review may not be all that in depth, as a matter of fact I know it’s not, but that’s because I’m a fan first and once something I like starts to exceed expectations then I stop caring about over analyzing it.

I walk away from The Dark Knight Rises with a greater appreciation for Nolan and his pure vision. He managed to move forward with his series after setting the bar so high and somehow moving the bar even higher.

If it’s not already being done in film classes, people will one day analyze this trilogy and ultimately how it changed the game. How Nolan changed the complexity of what a “comic book” film was and what it can be. He sent a ripple through out Hollywood by being as ambitious as he was and it paid off. When it’s all said and done the only question that will linger is:

“How the shit was Katie Holmes in the first movie?”

Go see The Dark Knight Rises.

Rebooting Back To The Future.

 

I think I have finally figured it out! After years of tough and long mental thought I have figured out how to move forward and reboot the Back To The Future trilogy… and it came to me in a dream… No, seriously. I’ll hold off on the dream talk for now because we need to get a few things clear.

When I’m talking about Back To The Future I’m bundling all 3 films together because it’s that complete. I’m well aware that the 1st film is the best, the 2nd is arguably as good as the 1st, and the 3rd isn’t nearly as good as either but somehow gets better when you catch it on TV.

Here’s why it’s a brilliant trilogy:

Aside from the obvious things like amazing characters, fun storylines, great writing, great directing, and continuous new imaginative visuals it created a fail safe for itself. When Back To The Future literally went to the future in Part 2 it went to the year 2015, forever sealing its fate in that desired time and location. We currently cannot make a sequel to the film because our modern day (2012) doesn’t look like the conception when it was released in 1989, ie: hover boards, flying cars, and fashion. It’s brilliant, right?

Also, in Part 2 we learned that Marty had kids, was married to Jennifer, and Biffs grandson Griff went to jail (to name a few) - another fail safe. Initial thought is there is no way to make a sequel, say Back To The Future Part 4 because it would look hokey and out of touch. Of course this couldn’t have been the intent of the team behind Back To The Future when they created it but it happened, and it’s awesome.

Here’s what my thoughts have always been about trying to flip this trilogy:

- In order to keep this series going with the same title and characters someone would have to conceivably start from scratch and remake the film with a new Marty, Doc Brown, George McFly, Biff, etc… The problem with this idea is everyone knows it’s to soon to do this and that the original films are still better than almost everything in the world.

- The movie could take place in 1985 picking up from where Part 3 left off but the main issue is that a train murdered the DeLorean and Doc Brown is stuck in the old west. OH, and lets not forget the obvious… Michael J Fox and Doc Brown are older and cannot be in these films.

- Speaking of Doc Brown; maybe Part 4 could start in the Wild West and he could send some cowboys into the future for whatever reason. But, who really wants to start a film in the Wild West?

- At the end of Part 3 when Jennifer’s fax disappears stating “you’re fired” she asks Doc what the deal is and Doc says: “the future has not been written yet” – Oh shit! Does that one sentence negate everything above? Did Zemeckis know what he was doing when that line was spoken? What does that mean!?

Quick Side Note: I feel like this is a good random stopping point to point out that I don’t know why everything needs to be rebooted or remade. Honestly, I don’t know why I can’t leave this alone, well, yes I do. I loved this series and deep down I want to pay homage to it. I know that someone is going to redo this movie and trilogy and I want it to be me. Moving on…

Back to my dream and my Back To The Future solve. Remember in Part 1 when Doc Brown was shot by the Libyans at the Twin Pines mall and was talking about plutonium? Also, remember that Marty was recording him? In fact, Marty brought the videotape with him to 1955 to show doc he knew about the flux compacitor. Well, that footage is key to keeping everything moving forward.

In my dream a group of current day kids found the footage from Doc Brown and Marty (along with footage we’ve never seen in the films) and learned how to build a time machine, and not just from a DeLorean but from anything because they know what makes time travel possible… The Flux Compacitor.

The beauty of Doc filming himself in the first film opens up the idea completely and it’s totally logical he was in YouTube mode filming himself stating what he needs to do to time travel. Doc was essentially making a running diary of his work, thus throwing all of his knowledge to future time travelers.

The kids would then reference the footage, create a time machine, and proceed to go on their own adventure, and on this adventure they could maintain the integrity of the series and also reference things like Hill Dale, the clock tower, Marty and Jennifer, Biff, hover board… basically everything from the original that’s cool.

Major issue: The flying fucking cars in the future that we don’t have in current day. The solve: Doc Brown was the catalyst behind the flying and much of the technology that we saw in Part 2 but he just didn’t know it (this would also explain how he created a flying train in Part 3). But since Doc isn’t around because he went back to the Wild West the flying car hasn’t hit the scene… yet (but could be referenced in the video tapes).

Also, lets not forget Doc’s crazy ass “the future has not been written yet” line and plug that in when we need to. Is this line a cop out? Yes. But my entire plot hinges on that line and the videotape footage.

And BOOM, we have a reboot and a semi sequel to the films! But wait, just like Back To The Future there’s one more option -

My dream also consisted of a low budget version of Back To The Future – seriously. That low budget modern day version is a found footage approach, which still revolves around Doc’s videotapes but takes place in 1985. This version takes place during the time that Marty heads back to the past in Part 1 when the Libyans shot Doc.

The major flaw to this is that Marty took the video camera with him, but I’m sure there is some kind of work around to that. How cool is a found footage time travel movie?

What this all boils down to is that in order to reboot this franchise and not fuck things up we need Doc’s footage, it’s the spine to everything, its like the flux compacitor. In my dream it seemed perfect. With this footage we can move forward to open a new adventure for a new group of kids and integrate the old crew.

Does this sound crazy?

In my perfect world this franchise would go untouched, but that’s not reality. We’re in that zone where it’s easier to just retool and reboot everything under the sun due to the built in audience and financial return. Also, we’re getting to a point where the people that are taking over and can make these decisions were fan boys of the original series and if someone has the opportunity to redo this thing, it’s going to happen.

Truthfully, I want to make this movie and when I pitched the idea to someone they thought I was crazy and couldn’t be done. Screw crazy, Doc Brown was crazy and he made a time machine out of a DeLorean. If someone reads this and has the immediate power to get a reboot in motion don’t F things up.

Radio Flyer: Under Appreciated Movie Of The Day

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CBkyMJjHgw&w=480&h=360]- Elijah Wood.

- Kid From Jurassic Park.

- A really smart dog.

- The ongoing theme of starting fresh.

- Adventure Movie for kids.

- Kind of scary at times.

- A rare movie that resonates with adults and children.

Oh…

- And a small role from Tom Hanks.

Who doesn’t love this movie?

Sundance Recap: Movies, Zen, and Hand Washing

I arrived back to LA earlier today. The 6-day Sundance adventure has concluded. Good-bye coldness, shuttle busses, thinking you know someone everywhere you go, and really nice Utah people. Hello warmth, smog, thinking you know someone everywhere you go, and sort of nice LA people. First time at Sundance was a pretty interesting experience and in a way it’s restored my faith and love for movies – My faith has a tendency to waiver every once in a while. There are some genuinely very good movies out there that are made in a very creative way, creative meaning lack of money and figuring out a way to get it on the screen. There are also a slew of movies with big name actors like Bradley Cooper, Bruce Willis, William H Macy, Helen Hunt, and Chris Rock (to name a few). It’s refreshing to see some of these actors taking on roles like the ones at Sundance.

The Zen…

A Sundance veteran whom happens to be a colleague of mine said, “You gotta just go with the flow” and called it the “Zen” of Sundance. He was right. One of the main things I loved is the potential of the unexpected. Out of the blue someone could mention they have extra tickets somewhere or quickly invite you to a party… you just gotta go with the flow. Take it in and enjoy.

The Hand Washing…

Before I get into talking about movies I think there is something that should be brought into the open – It’s the fact that people aren’t washing their hands in Park City! Yes.. I’m serious. When I first went into the bathroom and saw a few people walk out with out washing their hands, I dismissed it, and I wrote them off as gross trying not to think about it. But then I saw it again, and again, and then my colleague mentioned that he witnessed it too!

As an open germaphobe I will state that 1 – I’m not exaggerating and 2 – this was fucking disgusting. I don’t know why but there was a major lack of hands being washed at Sundance. I was thinking maybe it’s because people were in a hurry, but wait, there is no excuse for this. What person over the age of 5 doesn’t wash their hands? No wonder everyone comes back from Sundance sick. By the way – I’m not sick.

The All Things Sundance Total Recap And Random Awards:

Out of 12 movies that I saw at Sundance my top 3 are:

The Raid – Action, Action, Action!

The First Time – Romantic Comedy.

Robot & Frank – I wonder if sub consciously I’m saying I like this so much because I didn’t hear great reviews about it. I’m trying to be defiant… but I did like it.

Honorable Mention:

The Pact – Scary

The Surrogate – Great movie - Unfortunately I had to leave due to my neck hurting from sitting in the first row.

Simon Killer – Didn’t feel one way or another about this film at first but it’s stuck to me like gum on shoe and I have thought about it too often… that’s saying something.

 

Slamdance: The Slamdance film festival is located in the heart of Sundance and I loved what this festival brought. It’s a great atmosphere with good movies.

 

Best Place To Watch Sports: Maxwells. It’s a sports bar that was conveniently located around our hotel. The pizza was huge and delicious, the drinks were inexpensive, the server was from Wisconsin, and the TV’s were everywhere. Truthfully if I could have gotten into the ESPN party this answer would have been different.

 

Worst Place To Watch Sports: Maxwells. Everything I said above insert right here, and I wanted in to the ESPN party.

 

Best Moment: The unexpectedness of The Raid.

 

Worst Moment: Being stuck on main street after having a bit too much to drink watching my phone battery drain and realizing I’m overly dependent on technology.

 

The Narrative Feature I Really Want To See But Didn’t: V/H/S. I heard this was very good and a great new take on found footage. This was just picked up by Magnolia for roughly $1 million. See it when you can.

 

The Documentary I Really Want To See But Didn’t: Searching For Sugar Man. Apparently this documentary is about a musician in the 70’s that didn’t do well in America but through a string of events a bootlegged album made it’s way to South Africa. He became a massive success in South Africa with his antiestablishment sound but he never knew. Meanwhile he was floundering in America, ultimately burning himself on stage one night committing suicide.

He never knew the massive effect he had in South Africa, he was as big as the Beatles to the states, and he never made it in America. It’s pretty tragic.

 

Nicest Person Award: Tie – Between random Southwest Airlines chick we met that gave us the free tickets or the entire crew in Park City. Seriously, every volunteer was very nice. I was actually surprised at how well they were handling everyone. If it were me, I would have lost my shit trying to deal with everyone. If you don’t know what I’m talking about – Sundance has volunteers helping everyone out telling them bus routes or directing people into movies. They keep things moving… somehow.

 

The One Line I Didn’t Hear But Thought I Would: “Oh, the next time I’ll come back is when I have a movie in the festival.”

 

Ultimately it was a great experience, and good to know how I’ll tackle it in future years. Next time around I want that ESPN party. It funny because while you’re attending Sundance it’s business mixed with pleasure, and it’s obvious. It’s absolutely an atmosphere that you have to be around to understand, and having said that I could see how someone would love it or hate it.

Either way, it was a great time with great movies. I’m curious to see what movies penetrate the mainstream. Last year’s Sundance gem Another Earth has so far made a domestic total of roughly $1.8 million, that’s not including DVD/Streaming sales. Either way, that’s terrible… But that’s not what it’s about, right? It’s about the film, not the ultimate return, right?

I wish that were true.

3 Films and 1 Explanation.

Sunday threw me in an official tailspin. I was planning to update on a daily basis but then football had to happen. Sunday morning at approximately 11:04am I walked into Maxwell’s sports bar here in Utah and told them I needed to reserve a seat. They opened at 11am, and for being the first customer I was given a jack and ginger ale. My bartender was from the south, whiskey was her drink of choice, and I’m never one to turn down a free drink. When I asked her if she’d think less of me for drinking at 11am, she replied with “No” as if I were crazy for even asking… sold. That began the potential turn of events. I proceeded to sit in one place from about 11am until 9:30pm. I consumed more pizza and beer than I’d like to admit, and then later headed to a party. This was a longwinded way to say, I missed days of talking about movies and Sundance. My entire system was thrown off… it was inevitable.

Which brings us full swing to Tuesday, and I’m out of my awesome football-watching day.

Up until Monday I had been spoiled by two people I work with. Spoiled in the sense that they know what they’re doing and where they’re going.  Part of me hasn’t been paying as much attention to things as I should; I’ve been taking things for granted with them as my guide. But Monday I explored. I finally was able to make out Park City.

Monday reminded me of a day in Los Angeles. As I was exploring I attempted to get into 2 different places and was rejected. First was the Bing.com building where I saw artwork, as I tried to walk in a big guy stopped me and basically told me to turn the fuck around. I asked what was going on, he said I couldn’t be there. I asked who the artist was; he said he couldn’t tell me…. Wow…

Alex, if you’re reading this it was a cool painting of a skull, I was going to snap a picture and send it your way, and you would have liked it. Anyone else reading this – don’t ask why Alex likes skulls.

The second place wasn’t so much a rejection but more of a dismissal. You know what, who cares? I’m sick of talking about rejection. On to the movies!

Nobody Walks: Starring Jon Krasinski, Jane Levy, Olivia Thrilby – Wait – As I was just checking to see if I have correct spelling of names I saw that Krasinski has a “Special Thanks” for the movie Super 8. What the shit?

This movie is the prototypical indie film. That’s not a bad or good thing; well I suppose it could be depending on who you are. If you like films that are attempting to show the internal workings of a family, their problems, issues, and how they deal with them, then you’d like this movie.

Honestly I wouldn’t have paid to see this movie in a theater, as much as I like Krasinski I just felt this pace to be a bit slow (but consistent). Films like these find themselves in an odd place. They’re well made but don’t appeal to the masses and have difficultly making it on a wide scale. If it pops up on your Netflix cue, watch it. But if you’re having marital issues and also happen to have a 23 year old artist staying in your house… don’t watch it.

Black Rock: I honestly just stared at my computer and contemplated how I would embrace talking about Black Rock. I then went to sleep and hoped that I would take a more positive approach on it when I woke up – nope.

This movie sold for close to 7 figures, and was one of the first films out of Sundance to be bought. It was written by Mark Duplass, directed by his wife Katie Aselton, whom also is a star in it along with Kate Bosworth and Lake Bell. Let me be very clear when I say I really like everyone associated with this movie. I’m a huge fan of The League on FX which, which stars Duplass and Aselton, don’t mind Bosworth, and think Bell is good in a supporting role as the goofy friend.

In this movie, it was as though I was watching a cluster of all things bad coming together in a film. To be kind I will state it like this, it had poor directing, annoying dialogue, and then to the delivery of the dialogue made me laugh. I couldn’t understand what I was watching or how such caliber of Hollywood managed to screw this up. It was as though I was watching a film that was shot with my friends when we had no money and were looking to do something in a weekend.

Oh right, the plot – 3 girlfriends take a trip back to a small island that was once special to them and they run into 3 former marines. One of the marines gets too frisky with Aselton, she gets a little too violent, and the film turns to a hunting/hunter film.

The premise doesn’t sound too bad, right? I had high hopes going into this film and thought that maybe my expectations had ruined things for me – no, it just wasn’t bad. When I see that LD entertainment purchased this film it makes me rethink so much about film. But the reality is the film will sell and the powers that be can stick 3 girls on the cover with the name value of Duplass with Bosworth and they’re fine.

The most telling thing about this film is how self-serving Aselton appeared. Her name showed 4 times pre movie, she gave herself top billing (even though Bosworth is the star), the final image of the film rested on her (as though her character had some big change… she didn’t), and then when the film ended we were reminded yet again that it was directed by her… And yes, written by her husband.

I would have walked out of the film if it weren’t for the fact that I was waiting to see Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie, which brings me too…

Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie: Full discretion – I’ve never seen their show on Adult Swim, but I don’t think I had too. I don’t need to get into the premise of this film because I think this is either a you’re seeing it already or you’re not seeing it kind of thing.

I didn’t think much of this film going in but it had some genuine moments where I was laughing my head off. Unfortunately those laughs subsided for too long and watching 1.5 hours of Tim and Eric was a little much, I found it to be a bit obnoxious and it left me with a mild headache. It was just a little much for me, even though I love that Will Ferrell, Jeff Goldblum, and John C Reilly are in it.

Like I said, I laughed my head off, but I want it in a shorter film, I’ll probably end up watching the show from time to time on Adult Swim… which is a good thing. It’s a fun movie, just 50 minutes too long.

Without spoiling too much yet trying to inflict interest, the best parts of the film were: The vignettes, the child story line, the black out scene, Will Ferrell, Jeff Goldblum, the wolf, the first 10 minutes, and did I mention the child story line?

My days are winding down here. My Holiday in Express is closing in on me, I have more movies watching to do, and I have to read about Oscar nominations (announced today).

Food Coma and Observations

“Look Again” hmmm not too sure if I’m crazy about the Sundance slogan – more on that later.

Full discretion: I’m sitting in my hotel in a partial food coma watching “The Label Maker” episode of Seinfeld… it’s so great.

The short time at the Sundance Film Festival has been good so far. From what I understand this weekend is when people start filing in for parties and screenings then it starts to slow down as the week progresses. The things I’ve seen – Lots and lots of transports from different places (obviously) it’s actually like Los Angeles just picked up and relocated to Park City.

Anyway, here are a few early on observations of Sundance:

Getting back to the 2012 slogan: “Look Again” – Seriously, I don’t get it. I sort of do but I just don’t like it. I Googled to find out what the hell it means - I got nothing.

It’s a bit more spread out than I realized. In my head I had this vision that everything was very close but that’s not necessarily the case. However you can take a shuttle and it gets you where you need to be pretty quickly.

I want to go skiing while I’m here but there is almost no snow.

There are a lot of people who work on films: This is obvious but it’s just a reminder. There are tons of people walking around with passes and it’s just a constant reminder of how big things are, especially the industry.

Slamdance is great. Yes, Slamdance. If you’re unaware there is another pretty great festival going on right now called Slamdance and its dead smack in the middle of Sundance. Apparently 4 guys whose films were rejected from Sundance in 1995 started it and it’s been thriving. They have great films, and one would argue they’re as good as Sundance films. A couple of the filmmakers that have been discovered via Slamdance: Chris Nolan (Dark Knight), Marc Foster (Monsters Ball) and films that have premiered at Slamdance: Paranormal Activity and King of Kong (To name a few).

Slamdance is basically part of Sundance now, whether they like it or not. But I think Sundance likes it.

I need to rest. Today was just an intro to the cold world. Tomorrow is going to be movies all day long. This might sound a bit nuts but the main movie I want to see here is called “The First Time” by John Kasdan (In the Land Of Women with Adam Brody). Why is this nuts? Well, it’s a Romantic Comedy, and truth be told I love the romantic comedy, also I read the script and it was great.

I love this episode of Seinfeld.

Transformers - I quit you.

I had a bit too much to drink on Friday night, and for me “a bit to much to drink” is holding hands with me having a late night. I had to get up fairly early on Saturday morning and by Saturday night I was committed to not repeating my Friday night - told myself I’m taking it easy. Taking it easy meant that I was going to order a movie via OnDemand from Time Warner. Without much direction on what to get I had to know what I didn’t want, I didn’t want something that would make me think, I needed mindless entertainment.

After navigating through the Time Warner guide that can use some updating I had narrowed down my choices. First choice was – Fast5, it took only about 6 seconds to realize I’d have to be in the mindset of Friday night to purchase this. Second choice was – Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon, the third installment to the series. The latter it was, and before I knew it Michael Bay and all his exploding glory was getting ready to play on my screen for the next… wait… how long… 144 minutes… um… almost 2.5 hours!?

5 minutes into the 144 I knew I might regret this purchase. Not sure if the regret came from the fact that they were intercutting actual footage from John F Kennedy’s 1969 space launch speech with a modern day actor, or the fact that Megan Fox had been replaced with someone who actually made me ask “Wait… what happened to Megan Fox?” It’s my own fault, I should have known this, I was warned twice…

Warning Shot #1:
Transformers (July 3rd, 2007)

I was traveling when this movie was released so I didn’t see it right away, but I remember being excited for it. The Transformers were my favorite toys as a kid and the trailers for this film made it looks like some justice may be served. This seemed like a perfect equation for a major reason… Michael Bay. Say what you want about Bay but he brings it when it’s time for action. The other things this had going for it –

Steven Spielberg: When I see Spielberg’s name on anything I still get excited to see it.

Shia LaBeouf: At this point he wasn’t the Shia he is today. This movie actually really helped bring him into the household name conversation. Before TF he had a surprise hit “Disturbia” which helped give him some weight and add to the “Oh we want to see him act discussion.

Megan Fox: I’m not about to give her acting credit but the fact is she added to this movie… yes, for aesthetic purposes. She was still relatively unknown, so we didn’t dog on her as much as we do now.

The Bad Ass Robots: It was cool to see Optimus Prime on the big screen trying to look real. The special effects seemed pretty cool too.

Seemed like a good equation? Yeah. A light-hearted family action movie that can be seen by various age groups and people. Kids, Adults, Comic lovers, Cartoon lovers – It’s a destined hit. And it was: $319 Million in the US and $719 Million worldwide. How can so many people be so wrong? This has to be good.

When I finally saw it about halfway into it’s theater run something happened that I didn’t expect – I didn’t really like it. It was just ehhh’ and from what I heard I thought I’d love it. It seemed as though everyone liked it. What happened?

I recall walking out and thinking it was corny, not terrible but ultimately corny. I specifically remember a scene when Shia’s Transformer is hiding around his house and Shia was trying to hide it from his parents. It was a goofy forced comedic moment that basically summed up the movie in a whole. But that’s to be expected in films that Spielberg has his name on. I just wasn’t ready for it.

The first TF – I give it a C+. Average film.

Warning Explosion #2:
Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen (June 24th, 2009)

Where do I being? How can I say this? This movie fucking sucked so bad. I’m honestly trying to wrap my head around this and figure out how to explain why and how this movie is bad. For starters I went and saw it with my girlfriend and good buddy who is a director and loves action/adventure films. That good buddy fell asleep during this movie and I contemplated walking out, in hindsight I don’t know how I didn’t. Seriously, my friend fell asleep in a movie that has insanely loud noises, Shia yelling a lot, robots, and action (to name a few).

That’s not a reason as to why this movie is so bad it’s just an example that the perfect storm of shit pushed us into a corner – a sleeping corner and a contemplative walking out corner.

Somehow this movie is the most profitable (in the US) out of the 3. It made $402 Million domestic and $836 Million worldwide, that is a lot of money. To confirm I’m not crazy – Rotten Tomatoes has it coming in at 20% - meaning 80% think this movie is as bad as I do.

I think it’s pointless to say what’s wrong with this film because it’s a list that’s so full it would look like that one scene in Charlie and the Chocolate factory when Willy Wonka asks the kids to read the rules before they enter his place. I think I can actually try and put some meat behind why this movie is so bad.

A) Megan Fox’s completely irrelevant ass posing while working at a car shop with her father, not only was it weird for her to be straddling a motorcycle the way she was, but she was dressed like Jessica Simpson in The Dukes of Hazzard.

B) Mid filming Shia was in a car accident, which required him to start wearing a cast on his hand. At minute who gives a shit, Shia inexplicably has this random cast he’s sporting. Seriously, it’s as if he was running in one scene and the next scene he’s got this cast on. Okay, that may sound like I’m loser nit picking but I think it says a lot. This movie gave up on the average from part 1 and decided to just make it all about the action. It’s kind of understandable… but is it?

I need to stop talking about this movie; it’s giving me a headache. The main thing I can do now is to ultimately tell you what I decided at the moment I saw that movie. I decided never to see another TF again. No way.

The second TF – I give it an F. Not just any F, one of those F’s that’s a low F, not scratching the surface for a D, F.

Enter Saturday and my detoxing body.

I didn’t hear much about TF3 but I did hear that it had more action than part 1 and 2, and it was also shot for 3-D. 3-D translates to higher ticket prices which translates to more $$$. In fact this movie made $352 Million in the US and $1 BILLION worldwide… 3-D makes cash. However, there was no Fing way I was going to go down that road so I stuck with old school 2-D.

Getting back to my regrets I mentioned above. How can any movie that doesn’t have Kevin Coster Dancing with Wolves be 2.5 hours? Bay has been treating these films as though they’re looking for an Academy Award for best picture. I guess, that’s actually kind of cool to a certain extent, but it takes up a lot of my time.

That time that was taken up with was filled with utter insanity. Insanity in the sense that I felt as though I was watching a real life video game unfold… seriously. I could see how kids would find this movie amazing – I talked to my buddy (buddy who fell asleep in part 2) and told him I could imagine this film as a ride at Universal Studios, and I don’t mean they make a ride for the film… The film IS the ride.

They tried so hard for there to be a plot – there is none. They tried so hard for comic relief – there isn’t. They tried so hard for a serious film – it isn’t. They tried so hard for the new chick to be a good actress – she’s not. This movie isn’t a lot of things, but it is a ride. That’s the main reason I didn’t stop watching it, If I stopped watching it I’d be one of those kids who leaves an amusement park because the rollercoaster’s are to scary. I wasn’t going to be that kid… It’s an experience and I wanted to show Michael Bay that I could handle this shit.

I did handle it, and truthfully I kind of hope this would be the last film in the series even though I don’t think it is. How could it be? Why stop when there is so much of a cash return? It just seems that we’ve watched all we need to watch with this, even Shia seemed like he was done with this blow em’ up shit.

To this movies credit I did walk away minus a headache. Granted I was reclined on my couch drinking Tea, but ultimately it did the trick and gave me mindless action that I was looking for. Which kind of makes me wonder if the whole point of this series is to dumb you down for 2.5 hours a piece while exposing you to more action than… well… a different Michael Bay film.

Shit, now that I think of it this movie served its purpose. My recommendation for watching any Transformer movie: Drink too much the night before so you’re forced to lie like a zombie. Like I said… it’s an experience.

A Chronological Embracement of Harry Potter.

2001: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is released. I think the previews look childish but someone entertaining. I don’t end up seeing it in the theaters and don’t think twice about it.

In college my roommate Chris vowed to me that the first Harry Potter was a good movie and was sure I’d like it. Even though I was a movie buff, at the time I was too busy consuming the 3 dollar liter of Vodka that I paid too much for, and the only thing I really cared to know about Harry Potter was that Haley Joel Osmet almost got the role.

One cold winter at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee (random shout out) while everyone was on winter break Chris and I were finishing some classes. Seeing it was only the two of us he knew it was as good a time as any to ask me… “Want to watch Harry Potter?” I really don’t know why I didn’t want to watch this movie, but I’ll take any excuse not to study, so I finally said – yes.

I guess I can now admit that I didn’t really want to like Harry Potter before watching the movie. I’m not sure if I was oddly stubborn that I didn’t come up with the idea or if I was turned off by the phenomenon and the eagerness to embrace this little lightning bolted kid. But to my credit I think I did go in with an open mind.

He started the movie… I watched about 30 minutes… And without surprise I passed out before the second act got kicking. Not sure if it was from the probable hangover or the lack of interest, but either way from that moment, I was done with Harry Potter.

Flash forward from that point on, or rewind from current day.

2002: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is released. I have some interest and am still wondering what happened to the first film and me. I contemplate either seeing the movies, or actually opening the book. I do neither and don’t miss it.

2004: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is released. Wait, Gary Oldman is in this movie? He’s a badass, should I be seeing these movies? I don’t see it but I hear they’re only getting better, which was a surprise because Chris Columbus kicked ass with the first 2 (apparently).

2005: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is released. At this point I’m sick of these movies, don’t know why, I just am. Are these really still being released? I have no interest what so ever in these movies but I will admit the trailers look cool. The other thing this movie has going for it is Mike Newell, the director of Donnie Brasco, what the hell?

The major note with this film – Potter goes to PG-13 territory. It takes the step from PG and enters odd territory – more on this soon.

2007: Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix is released. This is where I believe a monumental change happened in Harry Potter, and at this point I still have only seen 28 minutes of the first one.

1) Also PG-13 like it’s predecessor.

2) The poster is ominous. The movie looks dark.

3) The word of mouth happens, and if my name was Malcolm Gladwell I think this would be called “The Tipping Point” this is the movie that people started to say: “Harry Potter is Dark and isn’t for kids.” In my opinion this was always what people said in order to bring in an older crowd and I didn’t buy it. I thought it was all for marketing, in hindsight it’s kind of genius because as Potters audience got older, so did the movie content.

4) The trailer looks badass, again.

5) Random Robert Pattinson cameo aka Edward Cullen from Twilight. Not really a cameo but his picture used, it should be noted he died in the first Harry Potter. Not sure how this is relevant, just seems like it is.

2009: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is released. In my opinion at the time Harry Potter was the octomom of movies. When will this ever end? Also, why do I think these movies look so cool yet I’ve never seen them? Should I start watching now? Nah… it’s too late.

HARRY POTTER NEWS ALERT! There will only be two more Harry Potter movies ever but it’s going to be split into an epic story of Potterness. Fans go nuts - others don’t care.

2010: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part 1 is released. Watch the trailer. Let’s be clear about something, this trailer looks really cool. These kids look weathered like the banker who has to count all of the money these movies have made. But I’ve given up on seeing this movie. I think it’s just too late for me to get my head in the game, I focus on other great movie releases in 2010 like…um… ah… moving on.

2011: Present Day-ish.

I’m sitting in The Green Lantern (don’t ask) and the trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part 2 is shown. While the trailer is happening my girlfriend clinches my hand and whispers that she has the chills. Huh? I say to her “I’ve been with you for 3 years and you’ve never said a thing about Harry Potter.” She tells me she loves it.

Okay. Okay. Okay. Now I need to know. My girlfriend rents “The dark one” aka The Order of the Phoenix and I watch it.

The weirdest thing happened. While watching the movie I found myself to be somewhat bored, but oddly engaged. I let the movie play out and I stuck with it. I didn’t know if I liked it but as soon as it finished I had about 20 questions. And how do I get answers to these questions? I must watch the other movies of course.

I watched the next one – same thing, I found it slow but I was engaged the entire time. The again I watched Deathly Hollows. The movie felt like it was 480 minutes but I stuck with it.

Now I find myself here today open and willing to admit that I am a fan of Harry Potter. It snuck up on me and I have been wondering how it happened. I’ve realized that that’s been the problem the entire time, I’ve been wondering too much. I just didn’t accept the adventure of Harry Potter, I questioned it too much and I fought it simply because it felt right.

These movies are really straight up adventure of kids and it has sucked me in. I can say that these have been some of the most consistent movies I’ve seen from the characters staying the same to the growth of the film… this is a really great story. What kid doesn’t want to leave his house and embrace adventure?

One random note – This cast of characters have aged perfectly, in the history of movies I don’t know a group of kids who have stayed pretty good looking for this long a time. I should stop talking about this before it gets too weird.

I called my college roommate Chris today and told him my deal. Told him that I’ve turned and came around to Potter, I told him he was right the entire time like Jack in LOST. After my Potter ramble he said:

“Oh yeah, I haven’t seen the last 3 but I need to catch up and my girlfriend loves them.”

I don’t get it. I just know that I get that I like Harry Potter.

Ashton Kutcher Movie and Texting.

A few major turns took place in my life last night. First thing is I went to see an Ashton Kutcher movie on opening weekend. Yes, I saw “No Strings Attached” with my girlfriend, and truthfully I actually liked it. Not sure how they did it but I found it to be entertaining.

For those of you who don’t know it’s a film about being friends and having sex and blah blah blah they love each other. I’m definitely a sucker for romantic comedies but I didn’t have any expectations for this film. I was waiting for Kutcher to turn into Kelso and start yelling loudly. Also, I should mention I’m not always crazy about his co-star Natalie Portman but it all came together for date movie101. I should mention that Ivan Reitman directed it so at least I can use that as some sort of justification. I’m able to say “The guy who directed Ghostbusters did this film.” It just feels good.

So, I saw a Kutcher and Portman Rom Com, liked it, and admit to liking it. But that’s not the thing that surprised me most. The next big surprised happened while in the film. I was at the greatest theater in the World – The Arclight on Sunset. As I was dreaming about the fluffy popcorn during the trailers the very loud girl next to me began to text someone. Okay, the pre movie text, I get it. It’s probably just an “I’m turning off my phone too see an Ivan Reitman movie” text. Right? Wrong.

The film starts – text. 20 minutes in – text. 40 minutes in – text. But then the mother of them all – She took a phone call during the film, but to her credit she was really quiet. I was in shock, it wasn’t that she was disrupting me but it was what she was doing. I looked around at one point and noticed a few other phones on and people texting. What the hell is going on!? Is nothing sacred anymore? Isn’t the dark theater a place where you don’t text?

I took a mental break during the movie and really thought this out. The people seeing the film are a “type” of person. This movie is made for a 21st generation mentality. It’s made to stimulate for 2 hours and be done and to rarely think about again. I doubt text messages are happening in Black Swan or The Kings Speech.

Also, I fear that we’re in a transition right now. Since we can watch through our phones and ipads we’re going to think it’s acceptable to take breaks and make calls in a movie. We have streaming films now and the movie going experience isn’t completely what it used to be. The one time sacred dark room of movie is becoming a thing of the past.

I hope this isn’t true. I love movies, and a reason I love them so much is because I love going to them. I like getting lost in a major screen while watching 30 somethings play 20 somethings. The theater is off limits it has to be, if it isn’t then dammit… we’re screwed.

So please turn off your cell phones… And see No Strings Attached.

The "Don't Argue With Me" Movie list... First 10

I’m thinking about different movies and all of these Hollywood Reboots currently taking place. I stand by my idea that I think it’s ridiculous to remakes the majority of the so-called culture changing classics.

I’m sitting and staring at my DVD’s and I began to think about what may or may not be rebooted that led to me thinking about films I’m passionate about it, the films that I won’t let someone get away with a sly comment to cut it down… You know what I mean.

This is a list of movies that I don’t want to see rebooted and I will also argue why they are great till my face turn Blue. I’ve been down the argument road a few times. But in my opinion these are certifiably solid movies. I’d love to hear why anybody does not like these movies…

Back To The Future

 

The Empire Strikes Back

 

Unbreakable

 

The Wizard

 

Titanic

 

Minority Report

 

Vanilla Sky

 

The Goonies

 

The Truman Show

 

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind