Sunday, December 31, 2006
So, know that it took a lot out of me to make this list. But here goes:
Honorable Mention: Scoop.
It wasn't Woody Allen's best, but I thought it was certainly one of the funniest. It has the first runner-up award this year.
5) Monster House.
No two ways about it, this was some of the most enjoyable time I've ever spent in a theatre. I must have seen it five times, twice with my kids and three times by myself. It was everything kids movies used to be and still should be but aren't. And Rob Schrab and Dan Harmon wrote a helluva script. It's just dynamite.
4) An Inconvenient Truth.
This was an amazing documentary and I ended up seeing it twice in the theatres. I bought a copy of it and I've passed it around so much I haven't even had the chance to watch it on DVD for myself. I felt it was terribly important and the filmmaking was quite stunning for what it was. Basically, it made the list because I am forced to advise everyone to watch it.
3) The Fountain.Read my review here. I know Steve thinks I'm crazy, but I think he's crazy. Steve is actually the only person I've talked to personally that didn't like it. Mybrother loved it, Elias loved it, I loved it... Steve is the odd man out on this one.
2) The Prestige.
I can't sing enough praises about this picture. I've seen it five times and it works better and better each time. I read the book back in February and have been a fan of it ever since. The Nolan Brothers adaptation of the material was mind-blowing, I wish I could adapt material with such pizazz. I've been advising people to see the hell out of this movie, too.
1) The Departed.
I guess there's no surprises here. I saw this picture five times as well and I think that it was certainly one of Scorsese's best. And the balls it took to take a mainstream movie and kill pretty much everybody and still make $100 million+ at the Box Office makes me giddy.
Two days from now I'll be kicking myself for excluding something from this list, but I'll come back and make a top ten, using these as the top five....
If I forgot anything, be sure to let me know.
I watched the video of Saddam's execution and it's typical voyeur snuff film. It's kind of weird watching a person be alive in one second and totally and completely dead in the next. Can I say that I felt kind of sad? Yeah, I don't know. I'm sure if I visually saw all the atrocities that Saddam had committed in the 1980's, I'd be really super pissed and my weak emotions of vengence would justify my pleasure in watching his neck get broken from a rope drop. But, still, I've never been too stoked on the idea of capital punishment. No matter who it is. Not because I defend what the criminal has done, but because I believe it's a lazy and medieval way of solving problems. Killing. If anything good comes out of Saddam's execution, other than a gigantic erection from George Bush, you guys let me know, OK?
That said, I was wondering if this would be the beginning of a new trend? You know, those involved with war crimes are tried in a worldly tribunal and then executed? If so, then Donald Rumsfeld and George Bush should start working out and pumping some iron. Cuz I hear those Running Man gauntlets are a bitch. And wrestling hungry lions ain't no picnic.
So, here you go, here's three movies you should see and in no particular order, because I like them. (I didn't specifically choose movies in the theatre, because in my area, nothing is really out.)
And none of them are sports or sci-fi or superheroes or anything like that.
So, here goes:
Seven Samurai: My absolute favorite non-Star Wars movie. Kurosawa's seminal classic from the fifties. It has every kind of story you could want in it: Romance, Action, Drama, Coming of Age, Politics. Seriously, it has everything. (Also, just for fun, after you watch this, go watch Pixar's A Bug's Life. Seriously.)
Notorious: Alfred Hitchcock directing Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains in a Nazi spy thriller. It's really, really good. Aside from North by Northwest and Shadow of a Doubt, it's one of my favorite Hitchcock films.
Mother Night: This is probably the finest adaptation of any Kurt Vonnegut material to the silver screen ever. And the red band trailer on the DVD for this film is (aside from Star Wars trailers) probably the best cut trailer ever made. Nolte stars as Howard W. Campbell, Jr., an American spy who must pose as a very public Nazi propagandist. It's an amazing journey and one of my favorite films.
There you go, try those on for size. I hope these redeem my opinion of movies for all of you who felt I missed the mark on Rocky Balboa.
I got online earlier and said that I was going to spend tonight and tomorrow trying to finish the rough draft of my novel and as soon as I posted that last post I went straight to work.
In between now and then, everything crystalized in my head so perfectly, I cranked out the last twenty pages of the novel and the rough draft is done.
I thought that I would feel an immense sense of accomplishment, but now I just want to get to work on the revisions because it is in no shape for another human soul to look at.
In the meantime, while you wait for me to post the first chapter, you guys should read everything and anything else I have posted over at the Short Story blog.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Tomorrow, during the day, however, I'm going to try and finish the novel I've been writing. I'm in the home stretch and I really feel like I can get it done before the year is out. As soon as I get this first complete rough draft done, I'll start transferring it into the computer (i've written it all by hand, then into the typewriter) and maybe I'll throw up the first chapter on the Short Story blog to see if anyone likes it.
My guess is that you won't since I still haven't decided if I like it or not yet.
Anyhow, thought I'd lay that on all of you and wish everyone who reads this God forsaken blog (even you Duckie) a Happy New Year.
I hope that 2007 is better for everyone than 2006, I truly do.
From the bottom of my heart.
In all sincerity.
Friday, December 29, 2006
Well, they're hanging Saddam.
It seems as though they're rushing it so that they can avoid criticism for the lack of fairness or justice to the trial. But to be honest, this is probably going to cause some problems. People in Iraq are already pissed off about pretty much everything. So, you've got the Kurds right now saber-rattling because they haven't had a chance to hold Saddam accountable for any of the crimes he committed against them, you've got the former Bathists who think this is all bullshit and you've got the Shi'ites who are going to be celebrating in the streets.
It all sounds like a recipe for disaster if you ask me.
We'll see what happens.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
I want to talk about the decisions of the Daily Herald.
I opened up the paper this morning and figured that the passing of the 38th and (almost) only unelected President would rate a five column headline across the top of the page. If nothing else, I figured that it would be at the very least above the fold. Instead, above the fold is a local story of Human tragedy. Granted it is important, but more important than the death of one of the few remaining former presidents?
So, I turn the paper over, and 2/3rds of the paper below the fold is a photograph of a man ice climbing with no accompanying story.
Below that is the news that Gerald Ford died.
I don't know. I like the Herald and, in all honesty, they probably made this decision to sell more papers but it just feels like it was a bad choice.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
I read this article (thanks to Jesus' General for pointing it out to me) and I have to say, this is the kind of thing that endears me to Religious people. Particularly the Catholics, as I was raised Catholic. I spent many hours studying bizarre church history from the story of Saint George and the Dragon to people like Saint Augustine of Hippo (who is, according to my Confirmation, my patron Saint) and it was all very entertaining to me.
Catholic Mythology has always, always fascinated the hell out of me. (Just ask Elias, according to him I unconsciously insert Catholic imagery, symbolism or undertones to anything we write. Which is okay since Elias unconsciously inserts bodily functions into anything we write.)
Anyhow, when I read the article about the travails of Jesus' foreskin from the above linked article(and this Wikipedia article), I couldn't help but want to share it with everyone who reads this. Relics from the church always fascinate the hell out of me.
Just writing this took me like an hour and a half because Wikipedia has an exhaustive volume of articles on Saints and their reliquaries. Even stories about the foreskin we amazing, take this one for instance:
Apart from its physical importance as a relic, the Holy Foreskin is sometimes claimed to have appeared in a famous vision of Saint Catherine of Siena. In the vision, Jesus mystically marries her, and his amputated foreskin is given to her as a wedding ring.And this one is just as good.
Saint Bridget was said to have received the Holy Prepuce from an angel, and would experience "orgasm-like sensations" when she would place bits of it on her tongue.But some might argue that it's no longer on earth, like this Catholic scholar who beleived that the Holy Foreskin is now a ring of Saturn:
During the late 17th century, Catholic scholar and theologian Leo Allatius in De Praeputio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi Diatriba ("Discussion concerning the Prepuce of our Lord Jesus Christ") speculated that the Holy Foreskin may have ascended into Heaven at the same time as Jesus himself and might have become the rings of Saturn, then only recently observed by telescope.God, I love learning about religion. I really do.
Global Warming Claims Tropical Island.
This is really scary shit and could be prevented if we had people in office (of either party) with the balls to admit that we should be regulating greenhouse gasses.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
This Blog Post States The Obvious.
I've been following the recent developments of the new Iraq Study Group's report saying that basically the war in Iraq is a God-awful mess and that Bush has utterly and completely screwed up everything.
But the facts that have come out over the past few years have exposed George Bush as a stubborn-headed liar and hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost. Wow, that bears repeating. HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF LIVES have been lost. And for what? For what purpose did they die for?
I'll answer that question: They died because that's how the story goes.
Yes, the story that Bush has been writing since day one. It's about a lone crusader who battles the forces of evil with a merciless and endless amount of guns and ammo. A kind of Die Hard John McClane character who stands up to opposition and bombs the shit out the bad guys. There's a lot of blood involved. A LOT OF BLOOD.
And then there's more hard-cock talk like "Let's smoke 'em out" and "Bring 'em on." And there's at least a dozen times when someone says "Yippee Kayay, Mother Fucker" right before they blow someone's brains out. And then, once this fearless hero seems victorious and everything is about to end, the bad guys double and triple and quadruple their forces and start kicking some serious ass. Good guys start dropping like flys. And all of a sudden, you're reading this story and thinking, "Jesus Christ, I thought Bruce Willis' character was supposed to be the one who won."
And then it hits you.
This isn't a story. For God's sake, this isn't a story.
But we've been told this story over and over and over again by it's author, George W. Bush. A cleverly crafted story right out of a Hollywood action movie or a Tom Clancy novel.
But the only difference is that when someone dies in Bruce Willis, they don't really die. When someone gets all blown up in a Tom Clancy novel, they don't really die. Because they're just fictional characters. And that's the story Bush has wanted us to hear. A fictional one. One where people don't really die and where things don't really go THAT wrong. In the end, the "good guys" win.
Well, the story is ending. The Iraq Study Group's report sheds a strong light on the realities of the war and it's origin. It's a real bitch-slap of reality. As it stands:
2,957 US Troops have been fucking killed.
22,235 US Troops have been injured in combat.
100,000+ Iraqi Civilians have been fucking killed.
They get their fucking legs blown off.
One Study Group Panel Member said: "The situation in Iraq is very grave. We do not know if it can be turned around..."
George Bush's story telling is over, folks. If he wanted to, he should have written a actual novel about his war fantasies instead of trying to convince the world that the story was real. But he did anyways, and now more and more of the world is discovering that he a delusional liar with apocalyptic visions of action movie victory.
It's like Stephen Glass in the movie "SHATTERED GLASS". A true story, Glass writes these series of AMAZING stories for THE NEW REPUBLIC magazine and is heralded as brilliant and a superior journalist.
But, an independent team of journalists dig into his stories and found out that most, if not all, of his printed works were utterly and completely fabricated. His colleagues at THE NEW REPUBLIC are baffled and approach Glass on the allegations.
Glass tries and tries to create more lies to cover up his previous lies, but in the end, everything comes unraveled. Stephen Glass is exposed as a national fraud and his life falls apart. He becomes dreadfully suicidal, realizing that the fantasy world he's been living in is suddenly crumbling.
I hope and pray that the Iraq Study Group's report is the beginning of the end of this absurdity of a war. I hope more and more of Bush's lies will come out. And when they do, I hope we as a nation have enough patriotism to tear him down. Tear him down to that which he fears the most, reality.
Because this can not stand. This war. These lies. It can't stand. Not anymore. Even John McClane wouldn't let this happen. He'd be throwing grenades at the White House covered in camouflage paint.
And that's how the story goes...
So, I've been binging on Rocky movies for the last few weeks.
Before last month, I'd never seen a single Rocky picture and I kept seeing the trailer for Rocky Balboa and thinking to myself, "Jesus, that looks like it's going to be pretty bad, but something I can't define makes me want to go see it as soon as I can."
So, I rented the first Rocky picture and was pleasantly surprised. I thought it was really simple, but very good. Was it better than it's other Best Picture contenders? No. I mean, it beat out Network, All the Presidents Men and Taxi Driver. There's no way Rocky was a better movie than those. More popular perhaps, but not better. (Read my other rants about Network here and here.)
And watching the rest of the Rocky films back to back to back really places into perspective how much better the first picture is than all the others. I have to say though, I really, really, liked Rocky III. It was really fun to watch. Rocky IV was completely terrible, but I enjoyed the hell out of watching it, too. I mean, come on, what's with that God-damn robot? And I couldn't even stay awake for all of Rocky V.
But I went last night, opening day, to see the latest in the franchise, Rocky Balboa. As far as Rocky movies go, this film was a masterpiece. Yeah, yeah, it's all the same as the others. The formula for the movies has always been the same:
1) Rocky wants to fight but either can't or shouldn't. In this case, he's too old.
2) An opportunity is put in front of him by some promoters (basically the same thing Apollo Creed did in the first film) to fight even though he shouldn't have a shot
3) A training montage set to Bill Conti music
4) An edge-of-your seat fight, wondering always who's going to win.
It's a by-the-numbers Rocky, but it works. I was like a kid watching that movie.
Anyhow, my advice is to go see it, if nothing else because it's a nostaligic piece of film history. And you'll enjoy the hell out of it. And you've all seen Rocky IV and V and it's waaaay better than those two. Also, if this movie doesn't give you a new respect for Stallone, then go and read his Q & A sessions over at Ain't It Cool News. It's a fascinating read.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
It's certainly no surpise to anyone with half a brain that we're not winning, but hearing Bush say it, I can't help but think that it's some type of political manuever. Maybe he's finally realized that things aren't going well in Iraq or maybe he's just realizing how much of an ass beating his party took in the mid-terms.
I don't know.
Maybe I'm just some type of jaded partisan hack, but all I see Bush doing is playing politics, not governing.
It's frustrating to me. Especially when people are dying because of decisions he makes that any five-year old could tell you would be a bad idea.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
So, I picked up a copy of "The Good German" the other day and I couldn't put it down. I devoured inside of the first twenty-four hours of owning it.
It was a marvelous piece of fiction that reminded me of a slightly more long winded version of a Graham Greene.
It would have been both a joy and a torture to cut down into an adaptation and I would have loved doing so. I'm very curious to see how they do it.
But like I said, if the movie is half as good as the book is, we're all in for a treat.
The thing that sucks about it though is this: "The Good German" came out yesterday, but only in limited release. I might not get to see it here until well into next month and that both confuses and infuriates me. I want to see it now, I've been dying to see it for a while. I like Soderbergh (generally) and I love old post-war reconstruction films of the era which this is so clearly aping.
It makes me happy. Whether this is a success or not, they should take more cues from films that came out of that era. They're much more timeless than most of the crap that comes out nowadays.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
I just wanted to come over here and weigh in on the two movies I saw over the weekend.
Mel Gibson's masterpiece "Apocalypto."
This movie is really good. It also serves as an intense kick in the pants. A major sequence of the film takes place while invaders are killing and raping pretty much everything in the village of the main character (Jaguar Paw, played to perfection by Rudy Youngblood). I have to say, the sequence was so brutal and heart wrenching, if I weren't with my brother I might have cried. The make-up effects for the gore was superb.
The story was exceedingly simple and that's maybe something filmmakers forget they can do these days. It's about a guy who gets abducted into slavery and wants to get back to his wife. That's it. No Internal Affairs investigations, no rug-pull endings, no Keyser Soze, no nothing. A guy wants to get home to his family and it works.
The character work is astonishing, especially when you take into account that the vast majority of the cast have never done ANY acting work.
I know I say this a lot, but pieces of the cinematography were stand out. There's a shot that dollies maybe thirty feet, beyond Jaguar Paw and then cranes ten feet over the edge of a waterfall. It was outstanding.
As far as the language is concerned, I think Mel Gibson (say what you will about him personally, but professionally, screw yourself) is making other filmmakers look extremely lazy. I mean, nowadays, it seems as though audiences are capable of reading subtitles, so there's no reason to do a movie in any language but the right one. I think Passion of the Christ's Aramaic might be half the reason The Nativity Story flopped. People just didn't find it as authentic.
Anyway, long story short, go see Apocalypto, it's good.
Next up, Ed Zwick's "Blood Diamond."
There's not much to say about, it's fairly by the numbers. There wasn't anything overtly terrible about it, but I have three major beefs with it:
1) It's waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too fucking long. It needed thirty minutes trimmed out of it. At 2 hours and 18 minutes, there's no reason it couldn't be thirty minutes shorter.
2) Most of those minutes need to come out of the film where they are trying to make Leo look like an action star. He's really, really good in the movie but when it stops being an interesting character-driven political thriller, it turns into a really boring action film. Leonardo DiCaprio is not an action figure, please refrain from using him as such.
3) I knew about the politics about diamond trafficking going into the film, so it didn't hold any surprises for me, but I don't think that Zwick did enough to make the situation clear to someone who doesn't already have a prior knowledge about the process. Maybe he was trying to balance preachy and interesting, but I think he could have been more informative.
I feel like Zwick just pulls punches for no reason. In this, it wasn't a scathing enough explanation about the politics of diamonds. In Last Samurai, Tom Cruise should have committed Seppuku on the battlefield.... I don't know.
It wasn't horrible, it just wasn't great. It looks like Zwick is in the same league as Ron Howard and Tony Scott. They so badly want to be with the big boys, but just can't make a film any better than "pretty good" and more often than not, not even that good.
(On a side note, I picked up a copy of the book "The Good German" last night. I'm half way through it and if the movie is half as kick ass as the book is so far, we've got something to look forward to on Friday. I'll write more about it when I finish the book.)
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Maybe seeing the trailer in Quicktime will change your tune.
Here's a link to the TMNT trailer.
Come on, you guys have to admit that the live-action Ninja Turtles movie (the first one) holds up as a really kick ass comic book adaptation. In fact, I watched it a couple of nights ago and still found myself laughing my ass off and getting worked up in all the right places.
I also just want to point out to everyone that they should read the run of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that Image published in the late nineties. Erik Larson of Savage Dragon fame edited it and it was probably 23 of the coolest issues of anything I've ever read. (I also got a letter of mine published in issue 21:)
At the end of the day, the Turtles are part of the modern pop-culture and mythology and I would argue that they are an important part of modern pop-culture and mythology. I would bet that the Ninja Turtles have name recognition as high as Batman or Superman or The Beatles or Adolf Hitler.
And the comics that have published that aren't kid-centric are some of the best that have ever been published. So.... There....
Well, it seems as though most of you don't share the same passion and enthusiasm for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that I do, but, I suppose a love for the Turtles can be chalked up to varying tastes. I mean, you guys can't blame me for liking comic books. You guys knew I owned my own comic book store for a few years there, right?
Anyway, I finally got a chance to see "Take the Money and Run" last night which was both Woody Allen's directorial debut and Duckie's prime suggestion for a movie for me to watch.
It was hilarious.
I really liked it. I wouldn't call it my favorite Woody Allen movie, but it was certainly entertaining and worth owning.
To be honest, the Woody Allen movies I like the best are the ones that have some dramatic meat to them. Seriously, Hannah and her Sisters and Manhattan and maybe Husbands and Wives and Match Point are probably the ones I like the most.
Take the Money and Run is more in the straight comedy vein of Scoop and Curse of the Jade Scorpion (which I loved as well.)
So, thanks for the suggestion, Duckie.
Friday, December 08, 2006
This is the thing I am most excited for in 2007 so far. The only thing at this point I might be more excited about is that Star Wars cartoon...
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are rad. Beyond compare, even.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
It looks like Alex Caldiero and Jason Nichols made the cut on this DVD cover design of the film from Sweden. It's funny, this is basically the postcard we were handing out at festivals.
And here's one from Australia that's a little bit more recognizable. I think it's funny, it seems they actually paid to have it rated and we got an M for moderate coarse language.
Just thought everybody might be interested in seeing these. Supposedly, the Swedish distributor is actually going to send us some copies, but... who knows... I mean, they are Swedes.
I was thinking about what I wrote last week about Mitt Romney and I really got to thinking about how smart it was for this guy to do what he did. Now, bear in mind, I'm saying that this was smart on his part, not right, moral or ethical. This is part of the brilliant political shell game people like Karl Rove play. In fact, it would actually surprise me if this wasn't taken directly from Rove.
If Romney is serious about a 2008 bid, what better way to get close-minded conservative voters to the polls to vote for you in a blue state than to put such a close-minded conservative ballot initiative as a ban on gay marriage (or "anti-marriage laws" as I like to call them). And this isn't even going to help a bigot like Romney exclusively, either. This could be a boost for whomever the Republicans field in the '08 presidential election.
Maybe this isn't news to anyone and maybe other people have blogged about this ad nauseum, but cut me a break. I work a lot and haven't been able to keep up with what anyone else is saying in the land of the internets.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
We've been working on this documentary for quite a while now, and no Duckie, we still don't have a title. But when we started this project I was quite lukewarm about it. I didn't think Obesity would be the most dynamic subject for a documentary and I'd thought for sure that Morgan Spurlock had covered all the bases.
Boy was I wrong.
Morgan Spurlocks film barely scratched the surface of the problem. It's not just a problem, though. It's a crisis. A crisis of epidemic proportions.
And we've designed our public policy and infrastructure in this country to promote unhealthy lifestyles, eating habits and a culture that demands more and more food.
I just wanted to sort of give you guys an idea of the scope of the issue we were addressing in our documentary. I don't want to give much away, though, especially at this early stage. What I can say is this: we're going to ruffle some feathers and hopefully something will be done about it.
As the production goes forward, Elias and myself and hopefully Steve will be putting together some essays about the things we unearth doing research for this film and publish a couple of them here on the blog. I think the ones we publish here will take aim more at a few of the political angles, seeing as how this seems to be a political blog.
So, really, this is just a heads up for some really interesting things to come.
Monday, December 04, 2006
We had our first rough cut screening of "The Fleapit Three" tonight and I have to admit I was nervous.
The thing about the film is that it's a comedy and at the end of the day, comedy is subjective. What makes me laugh won't necesarilly make anyone else laugh. And if people hated this movie, they'd basically saying that I have a shitty sense of humour.
But it went really, really well.
Frustratingly well in fact.
No one said anything to me in the form of constructive criticism. It was all pats on the back and "Great job" and "I'm an actor, when are you guys starting your next project?" and "that was hilarious, man."
I wanted someone to say, "Hey man, you need to shave a little bit here and add more of this and it'll be great." I don't have to listen to those people, but it would force me to evaluate a situation or an idea that I hadn't previously considered, but there was none of that tonight.
At the end of the day, it would seem as though we have a funny movie on our hands.
Watching it with a big audience though, really showed me where it lags and where it needs to pick up, so I have my work cut out for me as we prepare for another cut. Perhaps in the next month or two we'll do another screening and make it even bigger.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Dear Feature Filmmaker,Somehow, I knew this was going to happen, but you have to go through the process anyway. I thought we had a shot at SlamDance, but apparently not. I'd be interested to hear why we didn't make it, but, then again, every filmmaker would be.
I regret to inform you that your feature film was not selected for the 2007 Slamdance Film Festival.
This year Slamdance received a record number of feature film submissions. The Slamdance narrative features committee were continually impressed by the high standard of filmmaking. Our programmers watched every submission multiple times, and were taken by the incredible achievements from the independent filmmaking community. We regret that Slamdance cannot screen more films. This was an incredibly difficult decision for our narrative features committee.
We greatly respect the tireless effort that went into creating your film. Please keep in mind that all film festival programming is entirely subjective, and not being selected by a festival should not be considered an indication of whether or not your film will succeed.
Thank you so much for sharing your film with us. I wish you all the best with your future festival applications, and ongoing filmmaking career.
We are definitely screening the rough cut of the film on Sunday, so I want everyone that reads this that can be there, be there.
Email me for more details if you need them, or at the very least to let me know that you're coming.
The good General JC Christian over at Jesus' General has seen fit once again to bestow praise upon our film as a gift that would stop Jesus from destroying your village.
Also, I wanted to share with everyone a quote, about Jesus, from one of my favorite Woody Allen films. Max Von Sydow's character, Frederick, said this:
You missed a very dull TV show on Auschwitz. More gruesome film clips, and more puzzled intellectuals declaring their mystification over the systematic murder of millions. The reason they can never answer the question "How could it possibly happen?" is that it's the wrong question. Given what people are, the question is "Why doesn't it happen more often?"I think about that image now and again, Jesus coming down and seeing what George Bush has done in the name of morality, and him just doubling over and ceaselessly throwing up...
You see the whole culture. Nazis, deodorant salesmen, wrestlers, beauty contests, a talk show. Can you imagine the level of a mind that watches wrestling? But the worst are the fundamentalist preachers. Third grade con men telling the poor suckers that watch them that they speak with Jesus, and to please send in money. Money, money, money! If Jesus came back and saw what's going on in his name, he'd never stop throwing up.
I have to say, it helps put things in perspective.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
It looks like we're going to do a rough cut screening of "The Fleapit Three" on Sunday. I'll have more details as they arise, but tentatively, clear off 7:00 pm on Sunday if you want to come.
We'll be doing it at the University Mall Cinemas, where we shot the majority of the film.
I just have to finish editing the footage we've been shooting over the last month and rough in some more sound and we should be good to go.
I have a bunch of festival deadlines to make for December 1st, so that's probably the cut we'll watch.
Check back later for some type of official announcement. Or check my Myspace profile. Or the Saturday Shorts one.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Any how, in describing Utah County for the Salt Lake based reader of the weekly, this is what they had to say about it:
“Utah County’s just kind of a strange place, especially if you’re not part of the predominant culture,” says Willis. That’s the obvious part: with residents like Stephen Covey, Kay Anderson and the Osmond family—not to mention a sea of Stepfordian housewives and cherubs, all just a little too happy in Happy Valley, well … it’s ripe for the pickin’ (on).So, there you have it.
Kay Anderson, in the news once again. And in good company, too.
Friday, November 24, 2006
The IMDb has posted up that film we have in production. You know, that documentary one.
So, click this link and check out the info for it.
We're also going to be launching a new website in the next week or so with a big press release. So, look for that in the coming days. Things are getting very busy and exciting with our current film projects, so check back more frequently for more updates.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
This year, I'm thankful for Darren Aronofsky's "The Fountain."
I had the opportunity to see it twice yesterday and I have to say I liked it alot. Steve and I watched it yesterday on our lunch break and it hit me really hard. On the other hand, Steve said that it was pretentious, but I told him that anyone who liked David Lynch films as much as he did wasn't allowed to call any film pretentious. Except maybe the Matrix. Fuck those movies.
Anyhow, the film was powerful on pretty much every level. There were small pieces of cinematography that actually thrilled me, knowing how hard they would be to pull off and how much harder they would be to pull off right. For instance, there's an amazing tracking shot up Rachel Weisz' arm early in the movie that plays with the focus and it's just really cool. A dozen other shots stood out in my mind, but I'd be hard pressed to describe them here.
The film really explores issues of Death and Love of Life and Loss and coming to terms with all of those issues.
Parts of the film hit me really hard emotionally, like some type of emotional kick to the groin. Sometimes, it hit so hard I found myself shedding tears involuntarily.
The imagery in the film is breathtaking. I was quite impressed and awe-struck. Others I saw it with seemed to think they'd seen it all before, but clearly, they are crazy. The acting in the film was also top notch across the board, there wasn't a moment I didn't believe anyone and Hugh Jackman is probably the greatest living male actor at crying, perhaps tied only with Ewan McGregor.
The music and sound design is once again of particular note. The Kronos Quartet returns to score another Aronofsky score and it is both haunting and wonderful. Also, his use of sound, both overuse in places and underuse in places adds to the atmosphere in ways that other filmmakers should pay more attention to.
And this film is also very much like 2001, where you must come to an understanding about the ending each time you view the film. Your perceptions of it will change depending on what sort of mood and state of mind you're in, I'm sure.
At the end of the day, I'm guessing most people won't like this film as much as I did and it'll be one of those movies that you either love or hate. I don't see many people able to sit the fence on this one. But I would highly recommend that everyone who reads this check it out.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
1925 - 2006
That's a true story.
Mitt Romney is a homophobe and everything that can be done to prevent him from seeking higher office should be done.
It seems as though Mitt Romney is so bent out of shape about homosexuals, despite the fact that it's none of his business, that he's threatening to throw it up on a ballot for the state of Massachusetts to vote on like it was a popularity contest.
"One of the tenets of the Constitution is that you do not put the rights of a minority up for a popularity contest," said Marc Solomon, campaign director for Mass Equality, which supports same-sex marriage. "It is one of the very principles this country was founded upon."Didn't Republicans used to stand for the idea that the government should be smaller and staying out of peoples lives? Wasn't Barry Goldwater Pro-Choice? Aren't a number of prominent Republican and Conservative leaders closet homosexuals?
The answer to all three is yes.
And yet, we have these spend-happy, big government Republicans in office in places all over the country.
I'm glad Mitt Romney is leaving a governership position. And I hope he runs for President and loses miserably. And not because he's Mormon, either. It's because issues like this prove that he's an intolerant bigot. And does anybody else remember the intense coverage of bribery issues dealing with his heading of the Salt Lake Olympic Committee?
Although his stance on Health care a while back was in the right direction, it was only because he was in an extremely liberal state that he supported it. I doubt he cares one whit about people without health care. I'm sure he'd feed them to the wolves as quickly as he is committed same-sex couples who want the simple legal status of marriage.
Monday, November 20, 2006
It makes me wonder if the Democrats have the balls to seize the day and balance what they want to do and what the people will be okay with.
Fine, they can't be popular and raise taxes. What they can do is close tax loopholes and end subsidies to industries that turn huge profits. Really, why do we have to give McDonalds and Exxon and Nike and Big Sugar and Big Beverage cash to do things when they have the money for themselves. Some might argue that we aren't giving them cash just because we give them loopholes you could drive a semi-truck through. We could support health care and education for everyone if we started closing these tax loopholes and making profit-earning business pay their share of taxes.
We reduce the tax burden on small business, increase it on giant business and do the same thing with income taxes. Reduce the burden on the middle class, enforce the burden on the filthy stinking rich and things are going to balance out in our government.
Let's just hope the Democrats are honest enough to tackle these big campaign donors and do what's best for the American people.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Wouldn't have that provided a boost to his campaign? It would have provided headlines and news stories and really boosted his visibility. Harry Reid is a prominent Democrat and a Mormon. Wouldn't his presence on this campaign field forced people around here to challenge their zealous, religous ideals and think about their candidates?
I mean, let's be honest, I think there were plenty of people who voted for Orrin Hatch even though they didn't like him because they were forced into beleiving that Republican = Mormon Values. Could one appearance from Harry Reid where he talked, however briefly, about the intersection of his faith and his politics swayed things just a little bit for the Ashdown camp?
Now, I'm not accusing the Pete Ashdown camp of not trying. I don't know if they tried to get him or not. I would like to beleive they did.
But if they did, why didn't Harry Reid make a trip to Utah?
Friday, November 17, 2006
It's three a.m. and I just walked in.
My car broke down in Salt Lake City and I had to take the Trax to the office.
But, on the plus side, I went and saw Casino Royale.
It was good. As far as James Bond pictures go, it's a cut above. I'll write more about it tomorrow when it's not three in the morning and I'm not so goddamn tired.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
We're culling archive footage and have another big shoot in Texas we're heading for tentatively on the 27th and we've also gotten to work on securing a couple of celebrities, so we're horribly busy.
"The Fleapit Three" is also coming along quite nicely, despite having to cancel last weeks shoot. We should be having a test screening hopefully before Christmas.
Monday, November 13, 2006
I didn't think so.
So what gives?
I went and saw "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints" tonight and I would recommend it to people interested in good movies.
The acting from Shia Labeouf and Chazz Palminteri is stand out. The story is interesting and engaging and the filmmaking technique was fascinating coming from a first time director.
On a scale of 1-10, I would rate it a 7 or an 8. That may not seem terribly impressive, but when you consider the fact that the highest score a typical Hollywood studio picture can attain is a 5, you see very quickly that it's generally a cut above the norm. It's better than most of the films on the top 10 at the Box Office this weekend and more films like this should be made. It's not great, but it's above average for Hollywood.
I really liked it. I thought it was really solid. There were moments in the film that completely had me. And some of the quirks of the filmmaking actually surprised me. (There was a great PT Anderson-esque moment where all the character face the camera and introduce themeselves and what defines them, what makes it more interesting is that you've already spent three reels watching them, so it's not new information. What makes it apt is because the way you see them and the way the describe themselves doesn't always match.)
It was really good.
People compare it a lot to Scorsese's "Mean Streets" and I suppose the comparisons are apt and fair, although "Mean Streets" is better, "A Guide to Recognizing Your Stands" is an amazing first time effort.
I want to see if Dito Montiel can direct anything beyond his life story, because he seemed to do at least that pretty well.
I also went to go see "The Prestige" for the third time and I can't sing its praises enough. It's just an amazing film and the brilliance of it becomes ever more apparent with each subsequent viewing. The first time you watch it, you don't realize how clever the cutting is, in fact, because you don't exactly know what happens the first time, you can't appreciate the choices in the editing until the second or third time around. Pay close attention to the choice of shots presented to you immediately following lines of voice-over from the diaries. Each cut speaks volumes to the subtext that, upon first viewing, you didn't even know was there.
I've also had the chance to see in the last week "The Departed" for a fourth time.
It's bloody amazing. Anybody who says otherwise should probably be boiled in their own pudding.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
I saw this movie last night and it was so funny that I literally crapped my pants.
OK, I didn't actually make brown in my loins, but that would have just added to the hilarity of the film in question. BORAT is a mind-boggling observation of the USA as the main character drives coast to coast experiencing some of the most jaw-dropping examples of Americana.
Highlights for me are when Borat is at the rodeo in Texas and one of the main cowboys (an older gent) talks about how Borat should shave his mustache because he looks like a terrorist and then how all gays in the country should be lined up and executed by hanging. This conversation ends in laughter and high-fives. I shit you not.
The now infamous scene with Borat being picked up by an RV full of college frat boys is a real zinger. Four southern, Republican, "good ole boys" wearing sports hats and polos talk about how all women should be fucked and then dumped and how much women are inferior to the power of the penis. Then they ragged on and on about how much minorities suck and so on. It was a harshly candid observation of the attitudes of conservative young closet cases. Much like Kay Anderson in THIS DIVIDED STATE, they expose themselves for what they really are, mysoginistic, testicle driven, racist, ass clowns.
And let's not forget about Borat bringing a baggy of his shit to the dinner table of a high-class southern family and asking the hostess, "what should I do with this?"
And there was plenty of fat, hairy male nudity to jiggle the funny bone for hours. Maybe that says something about my sexuality. Maybe it doesn't. A naked fat man's balls is funny, though. Isn't it?
I also pre-ordered a Wii today.
So, that should be awesome. But, in case you were wondering why we were light on the posts in the last few days, it's just been because we're really busy.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
I was glad to hear the Rumsfeld resigned today. In fact, Steve and I took a break from work to celebrate over a beer when we heard the news.
But am I the only one who seems to think that this is just a political cover?
This is how I see it: The Bush Administration realizes they got their asses handed to them on a platter on election day, but they don't want things to change. So, what they do is, they fabricate the appearance of change, even though nothing substantial is going to happen. I mean, there's nothing that suggests that Bob Gates is going to have any significant change on the status quo. This really does seem to be a cover to help Republicans out in the 2008 elections. They'll be able to point to today and say, "See?! We can adapt to shifting public opinion and not play partisan politics!"
But I'm just not buying it at this point.
I don't think political defeat is enough to get Bush to change course. I don't think he is changing course. If Bush were truly interested in changing course, he'd have called for Rummy's resignation a week ago when it could have actually changed the course of the election. The more I think about it, the more I think Bush should have been asking for it on November 6th. What better way to distance yourself and your handling of the war than to fire the man who, aside from yourself, was largely responsible for the gaffe?
I don't know...
What do you guys think?
I'm not disappointed because I'm a partisan shill or because I hate all Republicans. I'm disappointed because Utahns care more about people and this country than their voting tendencies would otherwise lead me to believe. If I were to look at this election today, I would imagine that 62% of Utahns thought torture was an acceptable tactic, despite their religious persuasion that dictates otherwise. I would imagine that 62% of Utahns don't want to help out their fellow Americans with things like Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and other vital social programs that are rooted deep in Christianity. I would imagine that 62% of Utahns believed that violence was an acceptable solution to problems. I would imagine that 62% of Utahns don't believe in fiscal responsibility or balanced budgets. I would guess that 62% of Utahns cared more about the best interests of corporations than in the souls of individuals. I would guess that 62% of Utahns felt that flag-burning was the most pervasive issue facing this country today.
But I don't think that's so.
My disappointment stems from the fact that I had more faith in Utahns to realize where their values really were. I'm disappointed that my fellow Utahns are so used to voting against their values that it has become an instinct. I'm so disappointed that my fellow Utahns would vote for a man like Orrin Hatch, a man who used scare tactics, doing his best to convince his defeat would mean a win for the terrorists.
It's not just disappointing. The more I think about it, I think it's disgusting.
But let's not forget that the country made major strides toward sanity and sensibility overall, despite Utah's lunacy.
The House is now deeply in control of the Democrats and that is a good thing. We'll finally have a legislative body that can stand up to the preposterous and damaging attitudes and policies of the Bush regime.
The Senate is still up in the air, right before I go to sleep. According to most credible news sources at the moment, two seats are left and the Democrats are leading in both races. I'm hoping and predicting that Democrats will take them. Not because I like Democrats, per se, but because Democrats are not the party of George Bush.
At the very least, they deserve a chance.
They couldn't do any worse than the Republicans.
(p.s. I sincerely regret not being able to make it to the Ashdown party tonight. I had to work and it made me genuinely sad when I realized I wasn't going to be done in time to make it. So, I suppose, I was there in spirit.)
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
I had a weird experience though and I had the election judge baffled. I'm not sure anything wrong happened, or that my ballot was cast repeatedly, although I have no way of being sure. I voted, printed my paper ballot and was chided to cast my ballot. I hit cast ballot and then it said my card was inserted upside down, so I had to revote.
I asked the election judge about it, he was as baffled as I was because we verified that the card was in right. He said my card shouldn't work again, that it needed to be re-encoded. That wasn't the case, the card allowed me to vote again.
The same thing happened once more.
Third time was a charm though and it finally accepted my ballot.
God, I wish these things were reliable.
Diebold, who makes the voting machines I used today, also makes ATM machines. What do you think would happen if they turned over ATM technology to a bank that couldn't be sure that they were tracking all the money? Banks wouldn't use their technology. Unless they can ensure 100% accuracy in voting, we shouldn't use their machines either.
I heard on NPR as well a complaint from someone saying that it's onl;y 1 or 2% that are having problems voting and that it's not that big of a deal but in a day and age where elections are decided with margins of less than 2% that seems to me to be a huge deal.
We need reliability and accountability in our election systems once again, otherwise, what's the point?
(P.S. Go vote for Pete Ashdown and Christian Burridge.)
Monday, November 06, 2006
Voter apathy is killing America. Even if you're completely fed up with the system, the candidates, the Republicans, the Russians or whomeever, just go and vote.
Particularly if you live in Utah.
If you live in Utah, take extra special care to vote for Pete Ashdown and in turn, you vote against Orrin Hatch.
Hatch is pro-torture, pro-war, pro-big business, pro-patriot act and for extending Bush's idiotic tax cuts. And that's just the short list.
If you're a Christian or a Budhist or a Mormon any other mainstream religion, it's up to you to vote out people that don't hold to your ideals.
I mean, really, who would Jesus vote for? A candidate that supports torture and war? Or a candidate that supports peaceful solutions to problems and helping the poor and the meek? Would Jesus support a candidate who stood more often with the money-changers than with the people?
Then why would you vote for a guy like Orrin Hatch, who lines himself up with the money-changers and the corporations more than you.
The same could be said of Chris Cannon. While you're voting, be sure to register your vote for Christian Burridge as well.
They need all the help they can get.
And if you don't live in Utah, vote for candidates that aren't Republicans. It's undeniable that the country is in the worst shape it's been for a while and they are the party in power. It's time to give Democrats, Greens, the Socialists and anyone other than the Republicans a chance to bring things back on track.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Tonight I thwarted a band of ne'er-do-wells.
It was fun and awesome.
So, I come to my mom's house with some groceries and a group of kids in big puffy jackets, bandanas and backwards hats and pants hanging down to their knees walks by me. They clearly aren't very smart and I can tell they're up to no good when they stop talking and stop in the middle of the road in front of my mom's house. You can tell they were up to something for sure.
So, I bring the groceries into the house, close the door behind me and look out the window.
Not five seconds later, one of them is racing toward my yard and punts my "Pete Ashdown for Senate" sign the length of the yard.
Instantly, I open the door and shout, "What the fuck do you kids think you're doing?!"
And they scatter.
And I pursue.
There were four of them, but I had the upperhand, I've been doing this type of thing in my mom's neighborhood far longer than they have, so I know all the short cuts and dead ends and which fences I would have jumped, etc. I called the cops en route and kept up the pursuit for a solid fifteen minutes. I lost two of them in the pursuit, they did the smart thing and split up, but I still had two of them in my sights. After hiding in various other yards, they finally come upon their own house, where thier father was waiting for them, cooly smoking a cigarette. I approached him, he asks what's up and I explained to him what happened.
The father told me, "I bet they were with that punk kid who knocked over my mailbox. They are in so much trouble, they know they aren't supposed to be hanging out with that punk. Tell the cops I'd be happy to talk to 'em. I made that kid mow my lawn six times, you can see, my mailbox still isn't straight. Damn punk... That stupid punk kid..."
One of the other kids whom I'd lost showed up at the house a few minutes after that. His dad had a few words for him and started demanding who the fourth kid was, "It was that punk Joey, wasn't it? I told you guys you shouldn't be hangin' around with that punk kid..."
Not two seconds after that, the cops showed up.
He pulled me aside for my side of the story, gave me his card and sent me on my way.
But to be sure, those kids will think twice before kicking over an election sign. Although, if it was me I'd caught I'd be back tonight with eggs, jars of feces and toilet paper...
True story. I know a while ago, the Ashdown campaign wanted pictures or video of people taking signs, but I think I've got something better: a case number.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Here's Pete's rebuttal.
Seniority does not serve America. Seniority serves the interests of senior politicians. While public education is crumbling, our ports and borders are no more secure than they were on 9/11, our veterans ignored, and millions suffer and die without regular health care, I am ashamed that pork takes priority over fundamental need. It is with pleasure that I pledge to destroy the seniority system to return a balance of government interest to the people and help level the playing field for fair elections.
Orrin Hatch claims you should vote for him because of seniority. He states the Democrats are weak on security, that he is fiscally conservative and committed to small government. That in spite of obstructionist Democrats, only he displays the leadership which can serve Utah.
Where is Senator Hatch’s concern for national security when he displayed more self-promotion than national protection by spilling the details of secret intelligence monitoring of Osama bin Laden within hours of the attacks on September 11th? I do not believe the Republican nor the Democratic party has a desire for weak security, but Senator Hatch has demonstrated he is a security risk all on his own.
Where is the fiscal responsibility when Senator Hatch does not show restraint in securing a lavish $100 million for an expansion to the Utah Federal Courthouse? This is a project which will literally move a building across a street, raze a popular nightspot “Port o’ Call”, and replace a characteristic portion of Salt Lake’s downtown with an enormous “Justice Cube” eyesore. Expensive, out of place, and useless, this will be an appropriate tribute to pork and the Senator who secured it.
Where is Senator Hatch’s leadership when he begs Utahns to petition the Bureau of Land Management to keep nuclear waste out of Utah? True leadership does not require thousands of citizen letters to communicate the obvious. Last I checked, Congress was in charge of the BLM and not the other way around.
I do not require 30 years to get traction in Washington. In Orrin Hatch’s first term, this country grappled with many of the same problems we confront today. Energy prices, Mid-East turmoil, terrorism, child predators, and education were all primary concerns in 1976 as they are today in 2006. Why has Hatch’s mantra of “18 years is long enough” been extended to a need for 36? Who, but those elected representatives who have legislated through the past five administrations, should take responsibility for today’s crushing debt, imbalanced budgets and global instability?
According to Senator Hatch, the Democrats are to shoulder all of the blame for his inability to resolve America’s problems. I reach out to all Utahns, regardless of their political beliefs, and it is in the spirit of bringing our country together, that I set about to solve this nation’s gravest problems. Blaming his ineffectiveness on Democratic obstructionism does nothing except highlight his continual demonization of anyone who does not hold the same philosophy as he.
For every failure, there is opportunity. I have a plan for a better America and I have been executing it throughout this campaign. I have demonstrated how I will hold myself and the government accountable to the people. I have displayed the ability and the commitment to secure consensus and advice. I am committed to fiscal conservatism, limited government, and constitutional respect.
I have a vision for the future of our nation. Senator Hatch questioned me on the need for rapid rail throughout rural America in a recent debate. According to his opinion, it is too hard and too expensive. Thank goodness this man wasn’t in charge when we built the intercontinental railway, dammed the Colorado river, split the atom, established highways, and went to the moon. America desperately needs new vision and the leadership to execute it.
Barack Obama has been heralded as a new star in the Senate and is already under consideration for the presidency. All this in his FIRST term. Utah has an opportunity with this race that no amount of seniority can justify passing up. I pray the electorate will give careful consideration to what I stand for, my character, and what I have already done for Utah.
Here's one more reason this man has to go. I would like to thank his political rival Pete Ashdown for bringing this to my attention.
Orrin Hatch is Pro-Torture.
That would make a helluva campaign slogan against him. And a pretty damning one at that. I can't beleive there are people out there who pretend to have American ideals and purport to be for torturing other human beings.
I posted about Cheney being for it and Bush against it earlier today. It seems as though things are just getting worse and it hasn't even been a full day later.
It scares me how much some of these Neo-Cons beleive that it's okay to torture and kill people. My sister-in-law, an ardent neo-conservative, told me today that we should just shoot Hugo Chavez because he's bad for the country and Anti-American. She said that he led a protest and said that he hates the American people. When I corrected her (because this was wrong) she stood by the fact that we should still kill him because he was "anti-American." Then I said that he was a democratically elected leader and a popular one at that and she said it didn't matter because he was bad for America.
Lordy. These are bad times.