Friday, November 30, 2007

Huffington Post

They ran the below editorial.

Click to read Feeding School Kids Sugar Coated Irony on Huffington Post.

It's featured on the "Living" page.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Feeding School Children Sugar Coated Irony

I wrote this for Huffington Post, but it was too good not to post here as well. As soon as they post it there, I'll post the link up.

I have a younger sister almost twenty years my junior that is currently enrolled in the public education system. She called me recently, asking for help on a persuasive essay she'd been assigned for homework.

"We have to talk about why or why not vending machines should be in schools," she explained. She knows that I've spent the last year working on a documentary about the American obesity epidemic ( Killer At Large) and so I was the first person she thought to ask. "I know you don't think there should be vending machines in schools, but why?"

I gave her the three points I believed most, "Well, first off, obesity. Kids are more overweight and obese now than they've ever been. Secondly, type 2 diabetes is running rampant among kids your age. The last big thing is that sugar and junk food makes kids hyper and makes it harder for them to concentrate."

"Hmmm," she replied.

"Don't take my word for it. Use those points as a jumping off point for research and then let me take a look at your paper."

"Okay," she said and the next time I spoke to her about it was a couple of days later when she had her rough draft. She showed me a fairly well-written five paragraph essay (for a sixth-grader) about why she felt vending machines should be removed from schools.

"Vending machines," her essay concluded, "help promote an unhealthy lifestyle causing more children to be obese. Without vending machines, obesity would not be as common as it has become. Vending machines contribute to higher diagnoses among children for type 2 diabetes because children can not regulate their junk food intake. Vending machines restrict learning because of hyperactivity. If you're too bouncy on sugar, you're not going to sit in class and learn anything."

After they talked about it in class, my sister told me that three-quarters of her classmates agreed with her when their teacher asked if they should take vending machines out of schools. Quite encouraging.

Then they turned in their papers for grading.

A few weeks went by and my sister wanted to show me her graded essay. She'd gotten 50 points out of a possible 50. "Great ideas," her teacher wrote, "I love how much research you did, these are great points."

"Great job," I told her.

It would seem as though the tide is turning in the battle against obesity in schools.

You'd hope, but it shocked me to find that the teacher had stapled to the front of this anti-junk food essay a coupon worth a free order of Cinna Stix at Domino's Pizza. On the front of the coupon was written, "In recognition of a professional, persuasive essay."

An order of Cinna Stix is almost 1,200 calories (plus an extra 250 for the dipping sauce). My sister is 11 years old and is recommended to eat about 1,600 calories each day total. Hardly an appropriate reward.

I suppose her essay wasn't persuasive enough.

(Bryan Young blogs daily at This Divided State)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bender's Big Score

I just wanted to remind everyone that Bender's Big Score came out today.

I also wanted to remind everyone that Futurama is better than any TV show that you watch. By a lot.

I just finished watching this and it was pretty much hilarious.

If you don't believe me, ask the Hypnotoad...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

I think Sidney Lumet is a fantastic director. Frequent readers of this space will recognize that. (Network is one of my favorite films and I've written about it ad nauseum. Here, here and here.)

I've been on a Lumet binge in the last year, I've picked up copies of Murder on the Orient Express, Power, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, Family Business, The Verdict, Find Me Guilty and a couple of others I'm probably forgetting. And this is in addition to my frequent viewings of Network. (I'm not sure why I haven't grabbed a copy of 12 Angry Men, yet. That movie still knocks my socks off.) Anyway, I've been watching a lot of Sidney Lumet films in the recent past and although I've enjoyed his works in the late 80's, the 90s and beyond, I've felt like they've sort of slipped in quality. Lumet had always been a bit hit or miss but there's no denying that in the 70s the man was on fire. I've learned a lot from him. I've read his books and his screenplays.

When I first heard about his latest film though, I was both excited and worried. Like I said, his films have been enjoyable since the 80s (minus The Wiz of course) but they haven't been masterpieces. Lumet is now 83 years old. Would he still be able to pull off a masterful crime drama of days gone by?

The answer is a resounding yes.

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead is a melodramatic crime drama that can stand side by side with Serpico or Dog Day Afternoon as a classic of the genre. Lumet tells a story about a crime that goes horribly, horribly wrong. With most robbery-gone-bad stories though, the film focuses on the execution of the crime and then watches it unravel. This film starts on the crime and then spends time moving backwards to reveal why the crime went so bad and then overlaps with each character and their fallout from the robbery. Normally, I wouldn't care about robbers and the fallout of a robbery gone wrong, but this is about a family. Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke are brothers with very real problems. Money problems.

They're convinced that this robbery will solve all of their problems and, since the place is insured, it will be a victimless crime.

Unfortunately guns go off and the problems with the law and other crooks start.

But they still need money and the problems they had before are only getting worse.

Overall, I was wrapped up and engaged in the film in a way I haven't felt watching movies about robberies in a very long time.

And the ending was pitch perfect.

I don't want to give too much away because I really do want all of you who read this to go see it. It truly is a tight, taut melodrama that will punch you in the gut. And I haven't even said word one about the performances. Phil Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney and Marisa Tomei all offer stunning performances in what would seem as the most accurate portrayal I could imagine of a family truly and finally coming apart at the seams. They each inject their familial relationships with an unspoken history that makes you truly believe that they are a family.

It's quite a thing to see.

So. I'm just going to stop now and chide you once more to just go see the movie. If you regret, you can make fun of me in this space like everyone does to Steve. Or something...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

No Country For Old Men

I've seen the Coen Brother's latest film No Country For Old Men twice now.

The more I think about it, the more I like it. The more I think about it, the more uneasy the suspense in the film makes me. The more I think about it, the more Javier Bardem seems like Darth Vader or Norman Bates or something.

This film is engrossing, sad, sweet and, above-all, filled with nerve-wracking suspense.

There's some type of drug deal gone wrong and some money that is at stake, but that's really not at all what the film is about. I mean, to a degree it is. Obviously, the money motivates Josh Brolin's character and on some level it motivates Javier Bardem, but it's ancillary to the tale being told. But the film is really about how people deal with each other when they don't understand each other.

I don't think Tommy Lee Jones' character can comprehend Javier Bardem's character at all. So in order to try to stop him, he has to try to figure out Josh Brolin's character whom he understands only slightly better than Javier Bardem. It's an amazing thing to watch a police officer flounder trying to end a string of crimes but since there's no rhyme or reason to deal with it's simply impossible. It seems incomprehensible to Tommy Lee Jones that a person like Javier Bardem could even exist.

I really, really, really loved this movie. This is a return to form for the Coens. Well.... I don't know if it's a return to form, exactly. They've been fairly consistent. Only one of their films has been at worst half-a-misfire (The Ladykillers) and one was a genuine attempt at a more mainstream audience (Intolerable Cruelty).

I can see that John Q. Filmgoer might leave this film unsatisfied by the climax and the ending, but the more I process what I'd seen, heard and felt watching it, it's a shame that more people won't see the film because of it.

I really don't feel comfortable talking about what the meaning of this film was. It's something you just need to see for yourself. That would be like me trying to tell you what 2001 means to me, or something. It just needs to be a personal sort of thing. I will say that the ideas of things getting worse as generations go by and the last generations trying to set a beacon of light for the next combined with the title really, really hit me hard.

This film is truly a cut above and you really just need to see it.

(Aside from the perfection of the story, acting and directing, kudos must be given to Roger Deakins was phenomonal. Half the film was shot in beatiful vistas and silhouettes and it was quite a sight to see.)

Good show, Brothers Coen. Good show.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Oscars lose even more credibility

So, King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters which his hands down one of the best films of the year (not just best documentary, but one of the best films of the year) was left OFF the Academy's short list of 15 documentary features they're considering for the top prize.

I wonder if they even watch documentaries anymore.

Lousy bastards.

Scott McClellan admits to lying for Bush

This story is just too much.

If George Bush didn't already have enough problems with his credibility, his former press secratary is publishing a book an in it he admits that he lied on behalf of the administration.


Here's an excerpt.

The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.

There was one problem. It was not true.

I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President's chief of staff, and the president himself.

What is it going to take to throw these clowns completely out of the political process? Not just Bush but those swine vying for his position.

We need a goddamned apolitical farmer from middle America that believes in strong unions, good wages and universal health care in office, not another politician.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

BYU Police Beat

There were quite a few laughs this week, but this one takes the cake:

Suspicious event

Nov. 10: A suspicious man approached a lady at the bookstore and started touching and kissing her baby's feet. She told him to leave them alone and reported the incident to her husband. Her husband said that he had a similar situation in the bookstore. They described the man as a 6' 2", 290 pound African American man in his mid-twenties.


I was fortunate enough this evening to catch a show of Beowulf in 3D and I must say the look of the film was remarkable. The CG work in the film was truly breathtaking and it was designed preposterously well around the fact that it was going to be a 3D film.

I really liked the film overall. I was really into it.

The story was interesting and well written. The voice talent was beyond comparison. The directing was fantastic.

But this motion-capture technology leaves... something to be desired.

There are some that say that this is the future of film, but I think that would be a sad day. I think that Robert Zemeckis could have made this film a blockbuster the size of which hasn't been seen since the release of Return of the King if he'd made it live-action but, as is, I don't think this will break away into the stratosphere. Maybe it will, perhaps I'm wrong. It just seems to me that the movie can stand on it's own (it is really good) but all they want to sell is the gimmick.

I know Zemeckis can handle complicated physical effects films. He directed one of the best and most complicated personally (That's the shining masterpiece Who Framed Roger Rabbit? for those of you slow on the uptake). Why didn't he take up that mantle once again for this film?

I just think this motion capture animation stuff is going to end up the same way the original 3D did in the first place. It was a short-lived gimmick. That's not to say that 3D films won't survive. The 3D system they have now is second-to-none in my opinion and I'd pay lots of money to finally see Star Wars movies in that process. Or other more traditionally animated films in 3D. It's just that this motion capture stuff is getting old.

Almost as old as the goddamn advertisements at the beginning of the movie. And I wish I could punch the guy who's idea it was for the 3 Doors Down National Guard video right in the balls.

(Despite my complaints about the motion capture animation, I just wanted to let everyone know that I really did like the movie quite a bit, more than I thought I was going to.)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Film Festivals

We've been busy submitting to film festivals and working hard finishing our commercial work, but I wanted to let you guys know that our recent push in the press has yielded invitations to a few festivals.

So, keep coming back and checking for announcements.

We're also going to be writing more editorials on the topic and doing more radio appearances.

So, keep checking back.

Also, we've been updating the ShineBox website quite regularly with pieces about the film.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Public Radio

They've posted the audio from today's interview.

The whole piece is interesting, but if you want to skip ahead I won't blame you. The section about Killer at Large starts at minute 27 or so.

It's in real player format, but don't let that scare you. We'll do our best to get a more convenient streaming format on the blog.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wisconsin Public Radio Tomorrow

I've been asked to appear on Wisconsin Public Radio's Conversations with Kathleen Dunn
tomorrow morning at 10:30am central time (9:30am MST).

I'll be on discussing the links between obesity and climate change and the film, Killer at Large.

Be sure to go to WPR and tune into the whole show starting at 10:00am central time to hear the whole discussion about obesity and climate change.

So, be sure to check it out.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Worried About Climate Change? Fix Obesity.

I wrote a new editorial for Huffington Post about the connections between climate change and obesity.

Click here to read it there. A highlight:
New York Times bestselling author of The Omnivores Dilemma, Michael Pollan, explained to us and our cameras, "We don't often think about climate change in relation to food, but indeed it's one of the easier ways to address the problem." He went on to explain to us that our food system consumes almost 20% of the fossil fuels consumed by our country (almost as much as personal transportation) when you account for all the chemical fertilizers, food processing, packaging and shipping the food across the country. "A strawberry is four calories. It takes ten calories of fossil fuel energy to get it to you."
Be sure to pass it along.

BYU Fiasco Mini Update: They Talk the Talk

Seems like Brigham Young University has had quite a few politically charged dealings in the past couple years (arresting pro-gay demonstrators who held a very silent protest on campus, firing multiple professors for, I don't know, breathing, inviting Dick Cheney to speak at graduation, canceling the Social Work major while still dumping money into football, denying students, who want to help out the poor, permission to protest, etc, etc.)

But, at the end of the day, they just talk the talk. Not many at BYU walk the walk. Even if that only means walking a few blocks to the voting booths.

BYU had the lowest voter turnout for Utah County elections.
That means, in a county with two HUGE cities and two HUGE colleges, the loudest, most ambitious entity simply phoned it in.

Bravo, BYUites, the Lord is truly your shepard. And you are truly his sheep.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut

I just wanted to offer another remembrance to Kurt Vonnegut on what should have been his 85th birthday.

He shared a birthday with the 4th anniversary of the Armistice ending World War I. I wish that the end of a war was something we still celebrated. Honoring veterans is good, but doesn't it seem as though we should honor the end of war more? To prevent making more veterans?

Here are my posts about him from the time of his death. (Huffington Post, This Divided State)

It still chokes me up a little bit.

So it goes.

10 Movies That Need DVD Releases

Not much on Earth annoys me more than finding out about a movie and not being able to get my hands on it. I wanted to put together a list of films that deserve a DVD release (a lot of them deserve Criterion releases, some of them not so much). This is, by no means, an exhaustive list. As soon as you see it, you'll say, "Jeez, how could he have forgotten X?!"

Let us know in the comments. So, without further ado and in no particular order:

1. Our Man in Havana is Carol Reed and Graham Greene's third and final collaboration. The first two, The Fallen Idol and The Third Man are widely regarded as classics and rightly so. I would assume that this film is no different, but I can't get my bloody hands on it. Alec Guinness heads up the cast which includes Burl Ives, Maureen O'Hara and Ernie Kovacs. It was also filmed in Havana during that narrow window prior to the complete closure of the country. Guinness plays Wormold, an expatriate vacuum salesman living in Havana with his young daughter. As his daughter gets older she's gotten more expensive, so when the offer comes from the British secret service comes in for him to become a spy he jumps at the chance. He begins to file fanciful and false reports but things get hairy for Wormold when his preposterous reports (vacuum blueprints) turn out to be true (military blueprints) and other foreign agents and local military descend on poor Wormold.

The book was fantastic and you'd be hard pressed to find a better cast for the film. The writer/director team produced to classics, I can't imagine how this film could be a misfire and I can't find any reason whatsoever why it isn't available on DVD. Criterion should get on top of this one ASAP.

2. Freud - John Huston directed this bio-pic that covers five years in the life of Sigmund Freud played wonderfully, I imagine, by Montgomery Clift. It was nominated for two Academy Awards in 1962 (score and screenplay) and has been largely unavailable on DVD or VHS. The film compresses most of Freuds major breakthroughs into one patient and is hailed as the best film about Freud. Turner Classic Movies plays it from time to time, but there doesn't seem to be any plans for a DVD release that I can find. I can't imagine a more compelling reason to release it than the pairing of Montgomery Clift and John Huston. (For brilliant examples of their other work, check out I Confess and The Man Who Would be King, respectively.)

3. Brighton Rock (AKA Young Scarface) is yet another Graham Greene adaptation that wallows without a release in the United States, but our friends in the UK have one. Again, the book is a nail-biter that you can't put down about a seventeen-year old kid named Pinkie who's taken over a gang in Brighton and murders a man and has to murder more and more people to cover it up. He even marries a young waitress who could blow his lid so that she can't give evidence against him. This film is notable because of the actor who plays the furious Pinkie: it's a twenty-something Sir Richard Attenborough. It's been called one of the great British thrillers but I'd never know because no one has put out a DVD in the US.

4. Drunken Angel. I'm a giant Kurosawa nerd. Not one of those pretentious film-school Kurosawa snobs, but a genuine nerd, in love with Kurosawa on every level. I was able to catch a 16mm print of Drunken Angel a few years back and I swear, aside from Seven Samurai, it's easily my favorite Kurosawa film. The story is about Takashi Shimura, a drunken doctor in a clinic in post-war Japan. He's a drunk but he's still a doctor interested in helping people. (In fact, now that I think about it, it sounds a lot like a Graham Greene novel minus a love affair.) The two patients that he deals with in the film are a small girl with tuberculosis and Toshiro Mifune, a youthful, drunken gangster with tuberculosis and a death wish. The film is equally bitter and sweet and is truly one of the greatest films ever made. Mifune, Shimura and Kurosawa are as essential and influential a team in film as Scorsese, Pesci and DeNiro or Leone and Eastwood or Ford and Wayne. I would even argue that Mifune and Shimura belong in the hallowed halls of all the acting greats like Brando and Newman.

But why isn't this film on DVD? Criterion has put out most of Kurosawa's other films (sometimes twice). I know because I've bought them all, but why not this one? Is it a rights issue or something? Wake up Criterion, get this done and in my hands. I haven't even been able to land my hands on a quality bootleg of this one.

UPDATE: (It turns out, Criterion has a release date of 11/27/2007 for this one, but Criterion has repeatedly pulled DVDs on the date of their release, most notably Kurosawa's Dodesukaden.)

5. Erik the Viking was written and directed by Monty Python alum Terry Jones. It stars Tim Robbins, among others and is a truly hilarious film. When I was a kid, I would rent this film at least twice a month and it would never cease to entertain me. It was also my gateway drug into other Monty Python films. Tim Robbins plays Erik, a Viking who has a conscious. He's just downright sick of all the raping and pillaging. In one of the funniest scenes of the film, he tries to rape a girl but can't bring himself to do it because no love is involved, then his Viking buddies come in and try to do likewise to the poor girl, but he ends up rescuing her and she becomes the love interest in the rest of the film. I don't know about any of you, but a Viking questioning the inherent moral value of rape is hilarious.

This film got an extra special sweet DVD release in the UK and there is no sign of a release in the US. Well, there was a release set. And a date. But it got pulled. Why? I've no idea. All I know is that I want a copy of this film to show my kids. Also, I want to buy it as presents for a couple of people...

UPDATE: It seems as though there's a new US release date of this for next month, but it's had three other US release dates at least, so I'll believe it when I see it.

6. Happy Birthday, Wanda June was written by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. and was filmed in 1971 starring Rod Steiger. I've had mostly bad experiences with Vonnegut adaptations (I recently wangled a copy of Slapstick on DVD and was pretty much ready to kill myself) but this seems fairly hard to screw up. The story is about a man who embodies everything about guys like Steinbeck and Hemingway that Vonnegut hated, the big-game hunting, macho, womanizing ass-hole side of them. This is Harold Ryan (played by Rod Steiger) and he's been lost in the woods for eight years and his wife and child have made an attempt to move on, his wife is dating other, more sensitive men. This is about when he comes back into their lives. The play, as written, is funny and poignant and if they filmed exactly what was on the page I can't imagine how they could deviate so far from Vonnegut to ruin it.

7. Dr. Fischer of Geneva was the first Graham Greene novel I ever read and it hit me right between the eyes. It's about greed and love and desperation and horrible families and it's all quite tragic, as Greene is apt to write. Alec Guinness tried for a few years to get the film done with himself in the title role, but it fell through for whatever reason. A short while later, it was made for television with James Mason in the Dr. Fischer role. This film is notable enough for a DVD release if for no better reason than this was James Mason's last film. Graham Greene's Dr. Fischer was the last part he ever played. Dr. Fischer is an old rich man whose hobby it is to expose human greed. He has a number of "friends" who he humiliates as far as they can take and then gives them money and gifts. Soon, his son-in-law gets involved and the prize is more money than anyone can imagine, but the final humiliation is death for one of the participants. The novel is tight and hard to put down, I can't imagine the film being any less so.

8. High School (1968). Frederick Wiseman's documentary film inside of life for teachers, administrators and students inside a Philadelphia high school is so important a film that it was selected in 1991 for inclusion in the National Film registry. So why can't I get a copy on DVD? This film looks to be the high school equivalent to the Maysles' stunning film Salesman. I'd pay money to see a verite film about life and interaction inside of a high school in 1968. This seems like a shoo in for a Criterion disc, so what's the hold up?

9. Beyond the Limit (AKA The Honorary Consul). I read Roger Ebert's review of this film and, to be honest, he said it wasn't that good. But he wrote his review when the film came out and there was a backlash of dislike for Richard Gere. I'm terribly interested to see the film now. This is another adaptation of a Graham Greene novel (big surprise, right?) that stars Michael Caine, Richard Gere and Bob Hoskins. The novel centers around a young, drunk doctor (see, Drunken Angel, but with a love affair) played by Richard Gere who is having an affair with the wife of the Honorary British Consul played by Michael Caine. She also happens to be a former prostitute. But the Consul is abducted by mistake and the only one who cares enough to try to deal with the well-meaning terrorists is the good Doctor.

The novel was intriguing and surprising and Michael Caine and Bob Hoskins could surely move enough units of this film with their names alone to warrant a release. So, if any one is paying attention, put out this film.

10. Remember the Night seems like the best Christmas-film that no one has ever heard of or seen. This film, written by Preston Sturges, pairs Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck (who melted the screen in the perfect Double Indemnity) during Christmas time. What sounds so great and interesting about that you ask? Well, Barbara Stanwyck plays a beautiful, young ne'er-do-well caught for shoplifting just before Christmas. Fred MacMurray plays the prosecutor assigned to her case and gets the trial postponed until after Christmas because it's impossible to get a good conviction during the holiday season. She'll have to spend her Christmas in jail so he feels sorry for her and arranges her bail. Well, he ends up taking her home for the holidays to meet his mother and slowly they fall in love. Now, all of a sudden that looming trial seems like a much larger problem now that he has to prosecute a loved one. This film sounds like it could be every bit as holiday classic as Capra's It's a Wonderful Life but I've only heard of it playing on TV once, last year for the first time in decades.

Granted, Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck have a much smaller amount of name recognition than Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, but that's no reason to leave this one in the vaults.

So, there you have it. Give me your complaints in the comments and I'll be sure to do a part II with all of your suggestions. And I hope that I've done you as much as a disservice as I've done myself insofar as I've made you want to watch all of these presumably wonderful films that you can't see as much as I want to see them.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Another BYU Fiasco

Brigham Young University students wanting to utilize their lives to better humanity just got fucked in the ass by the school administration. The Social Work bachelor's degree was canceled. Maybe helping out the poor and needy conflicts with BYU's honor code?

What makes it even worse, is that BYU canceled the major after students were already signed up and scheduled for it.

Anyways, students who actually have a bit of sanity decided to lodge a protest against BYU's mind-boggling act of douchery.

They wanted to try and reverse the decision because they wanted to continue their studies in social work and eventually help out less fortunate brothers and sisters worldwide.

Their "application" to protest was flatly denied.

David Magleby, dean of the College of Family, Home and Social Sciences, found a loop hole in the rules and was quickly able to shut down these raging, liberal students from speaking up about helping the poor and needy.

Having not gotten laid for over 20 years, David Magleby takes his aggression out on poor folks around the world.

For those of you saying, "Are you fucking serious?", please watch this video...
NOTE: For those of you dumb enough to ask, this video is from April 2007 when Dick Cheney was invited to BYU.

My suggestion to these students is to take this story to the press week after week with the statement, "We would like to help out humanity through social work and we would like BYU to allow us to do so."

"Please, BYU, will you let us help the poor and needy? Pleeeaaasssseeeeeee???"

American Gangster

Someone (Patrick) told me that American Gangster was Ridley Scott's best film since Blade Runner. "Really?" I asked.


"I don't know..."

"Seriously," I was told again.

And so I looked it up and IMDb and, lo and behold, it seems as though American Gangster probably is the best film that Ridley Scott has directed since Blade Runner. I mean really? Gladiator is pretty much the only one that might stack up and it was pretty good, but it wasn't a masterpiece. Was American Gangster a masterpiece? I don't know, but it was pretty damn good.

It felt very much to me like a very clever mix of Sidney Lumet's Serpico and The Godfather, had Martin Scorsese directed it. I think that's about the best I can sum up the style, tone and story of the film. Perhaps the fact that it shared a time period with all the great cop movies of the seventies helped me along with enjoying the film. I seem to have a stigma about films set in the immediate here and now, but that's my personal problem.

Anyhow, I think the film still has a couple of problems. And the problem with the problems is that they aren't easily fixed. The story is large. Very large. Incredibly ambitious, even. And to tell it right from both perspectives that Scott does, you simply have to fracture the narrative in order to accomodate the story but then the film seems really choppy. Now it seems as though a way to fix that problem would be to pick a character to tell the story from and tell it from their perspective solely. But the problem with that is that if you just do Russell Crowe, you just get a cheap Serpico knock off, you do Denzel Washington and you get the Godfather set in Harlem about thirty years later. It doesn't work without both stories.

The other major problem that I'm not sure how it could be fixed right off the bat is that none of the side characters had an real meaningful personality or screentime. That's the great thing about, say, a Scorsese movie, all of the side characters are as colorful (or more) than all of the main characters and so, even if your movie sucked, you were treated to a wonderful assortment of characters.

This film really had too much in it to delve into them, which makes me a little sad.

Overall, this is a terribly solid film. It's nothing I would buy on DVD or anything, but I would agree with the assessment that it's Ridley Scott's best film since Blade Runner. Don't beleive me? Seriously, check out his IMDb profile.

On a sidenote, I'd like to bitch about a couple of things that are really starting to piss me off at the movies:

1) Don't put fucking TV commercials or National Guard music videos on the beginning of movies. It just pisses people off. I paid money for my seat, I don't want to see commercials. If I wanted commercials I'd watch TV. I don't watch TV and I'll start passing on movie theatres that keep running Coke and Vault and Fandango commercials.

It's just obnoxious.

2) Turn off your fucking phone during films. Some jackass in front of me was text messaging half the movie. Seriously, the world can do without you for a couple of hours. (If you're the sort who text messages through a movie, the world can probably just do without you altogether, but that's neither here nor there.)

But yeah, that's obnoxious, too.

To sum up: American Gangster: Pretty Good, I really liked it.

Friday, November 09, 2007


We're looking for an intern for our office.

Email Patrick for details.

Patrick (at)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


I took the time before work to vote today and I want to encourage all of you out there who read this to do the same.

I live in Utah and the largest issue on the ballot is the school vouchers referendum which is being closely watched around the country.


Because a vote for school vouchers, in my opinion, will cripple the public school system further than things like No Child Left Behind already have.

We need to invest more in public schools instead of running out on them when the going gets rough.

During Killer at Large, we interviewed Douglas Rushkoff about a things relating to our documentary, but we strayed off topic a bit and we began to speak about the public school system and parents spending thousands and thousands of dollars a year (a month in some cases) to toss your kids into public schools. And he said something that I can say I wholeheartedly agree with: If we invested the amount of time into public schools as it would take to earn the money to pay for private school, not only would we enhance the learning experience of our own children, but it would enrich the entire public school system.

Vouchers, to me, seems like a step in the opposite direction.

And it's very telling to see who is on what side of the issue with all of the ads and yard signs out there. You'd think that vouchers was the most popular piece of legislation ever waved in front of the voters. But then you think about where the money comes from: those against it are underpaid teachers and parents who aren't affluent enough to afford a private or charter school in the first place. Those for it are the weasely corporations that think they can turn a buck with this with the very same charter and private schools and parents who can afford to send their kids to these schools already but seem to think they need to raid the public school funds to do it.

It's pretty loathsome when I think about it.

So, if you live in the US, vote. If you live in Utah, I would urge you to vote against school vouchers. (Which, in most cases here, is the only referendum on the ballot.)

(on a sidenote, I published like four short stories last night. Read them here.)

Monday, November 05, 2007

Too Fat for A 'Small World'

I've got a new piece up on Huffington Post.

It's called "Too Fat for A 'Small World'"

Check it out and let me know what you thought.

UPDATE: It go syndicated on Yahoo.

Project Deseret

Ashley Sanders, one of the BYU 25, sent me an email informing me of her new position with Sunstone Magazine to do podcasts and blogs for them.

Ashley is incredibly smart and her writing is always worth reading.

So, without further ado, I would recommend you check out her new blog: Project Deseret. I'll be adding the link to the sidebar, too.

And now that we've got most of the commercial we were working on done, you might see more of me blogging.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Daily Herald

Ran a piece about the film based on the press release.

Check it out here.