Friday, August 27, 2010

Favorite Films: It Happened One Night

It's amazing to see a splendid comedy from 1934. We watch the way that morals have changed in our country... what they've grown from and to. And you realize that this is one of those films that was forced to reflect on sexual innuendo without being allowed to say the words or show these two sleeping in the same bed. Essentially, this film had to find a way around the lie that our government decided it was necessary to implement (Hays Code). Yet somehow, Capra and his team make it work. At no point does this film seem to hold back... or rather, at no point does the film seem like it is being bound down. It says everything it means to say, and quite charmingly so.
It would be poor of me not to report to you on the thing that truly sells the movie however. I am an actor and a writer, but when I look to praise one individual for making the film work I usually will side with the writers. A good script can make a bad actor look good. But it does work both ways. And this movie is about the cast. I'm not saying that Robert Riskin wasn't a phenomenal writer... in fact he has written several of my all time favorite films (which I intend to report on in the near future). But the chemistry between Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert is just perfect, riské and wonderful. And when the "Walls of Jericho" finally fall...
(an epic statement for its time)
we feel we have in fact earned it.



The List So Far:
1927 - Metropolis - Fritz Lang
1928 - Steamboat Willie - Ub Iwerks
1931 - M - Fritz Lang
1932 - Tarzan, The Ape Man - W. S. Van Dyke
1933 - King Kong - Merian C. Cooper +
1934 - It Happened One Night - Frank Capra

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What Are We Waiting For?

I've been doing a lot lately... and while I wish I had more to show you on here, I can assure you interesting things are on the way. Right now I'm feeling my very first sting of writer's block and I'm not exactly hating the experience, because the less I find myself able to focus on putting out pages, the more I am able to focus on acting and music and collaborations and enjoying activities like playing basketball in the park
or getting up on stage at a standup club and just shooting the shit.

So why waste my time whining about a tiny case of writer's block? My life is really great right now. I'm finally just going along for the ride. The first time I can say that in a long time. My general state of being in the past has been one of catching up, always just three steps behind the caravan. So... Hoorah for comfort and joy! Hoorah for friends! Hoorah for the little things that help make each day a joy. And Hoorah for creative energy when it is available... and when it's not, it's not worth fretting over. That stuff'll come back as soon as life isn't so good. So enjoy the good while it lasts. Try things you haven't tried before and see what sticks. Just be happy. I mean, What Are We Waiting For?

1. Cat People - David Bowie
2. Every Man I Fall For - Cold War Kids
3. Jezebel - Iron & Wine
4. Fortress - Pinback
5. Forces Of The Unseen - Cloud Cult
6. Blessings (Invocation Pt. 2) - Cloud Cult
7. Giorni Dispari - Ludovico Einaudi
8. Heavy In Your Arms - Florence + The Machines
9. Spitting Venom - Modest Mouse
10. What Is The Light? - The Flaming Lips
11. The Observer - The Flaming Lips
12. The Pioneers (M83 Remix) - The Flaming Lips
13. A Punch Up At A Wedding - Radiohead
14. In The Deep Shade - The Frames
15. On And On And On - Wilco
16. Blood Of The Lamb - Billy Bragg & Wilco

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Reassessing This Summer

It's August. My birth month. 2010. And Hollywood has gone insane!

I've seen quite a few films this summer, a little perk of my latest job, working at a movie theatre. And now that I've seen what Hollywood has to offer for this the most popular of film seasons, I've gotta say my piece.

Studios, you need to get your shit together. In the year of such a wonderful film as Inception,
my fourth favorite film is MacGruber (?!?!?).
I kid you not. This summer has been an unabashedly travestical omen of the changing future of my chosen profession. And as an actor/writer I cannot help but wonder what the future holds for the Hollywood system as a whole. With studios so ignorant of creative thinking and executives/producers only looking for "known" material I am in actual fear that the film industry may collapse on its own weight... and then what?

I know, I know, what I'm saying is unlikely. And probably (hopefully) it won't ever happen, but producers/execs/artists of all walks need to seriously pick their heads up and open their eyes. If the current system is indeed failing us, we need to shift gears and adapt to the growing world. So there is a potential and very hopeful outlook from what this summer has been. Perhaps people will wake up... have to. And new, interesting ideas will be explored like never before. Perhaps this summer is the summer that will open the doors to art.

And yes, I do think MacGruber is art. Now you're gonna laugh and maybe stop reading this post, but please don't... hear me out. The film was funny. In a totally despicable kind of way, but it forced me to laugh (and believe me, I had to be forced). It was clever and over the top and incredibly disgusting in both physical and mental ways. And if you don't want to feel disgusted by a movie then this probably isn't for you, but I live by the idea that film as an expression should allow me to feel every emotion. And MacGruber gives me a taste of an emotion I am rare to feel, schadenfreude.  It is art like a Salvador Dali is art.
Okay. This article isn't just about MacGruber.

I just came back from seeing Salt... and when I say "came back" I mean like I was abducted by aliens and don't know what happened to me for that 2 hour block. In some ways I think I really liked it, but in others... in others I really truly and seriously do not know. This is a film that is promised a sequel simply because it exists... and am I happy about this? But Angelina is a true money maker and this movie did well enough and one of my favorite actors is in this (Chiwetel Ejiofor)...
but was he used well(?) and does it matter(?)... and this was a good move for him because he now has a franchise. He is a major player in a franchise and that's cool and good... but I still feel like he has been a more ideal choice for many other things. Like I would love to see him return in a Serenity sequel, but that will never happen. But I digress. In the end, I guess the writers knew that Salt was gonna get a sequel so they kind of just let it end like an episode of a tv show.... which I kind of really like... but I'm still confused and unsure of how I feel or why I feel that way and I need to give it time I guess before I really get whatever it is I'm getting.

Reset.

Inception was so wonderful to watch. And I will watch it again (many times) because Christopher Nolan doesn't know how to make a bad movie. And maybe, and hopefully studios will take a lesson from its originality rather than placing the blame of its success just on Nolan and his Batman franchise. That being said, it may be the only actually original "big" film of this summer.

The Kids Are All Right was good... but still a small flick and I will jump passed it along with Cyrus, Please Give, and Harry Brown. All smaller films that happened to make my viewing list because they passed through my movie house.

Hey what's this? More sequels? I didn't see Sex and the City 2 because I am a guy and I still have my pride... but (maybe worse) I did see Eclipse... I'm sorry, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, because teenage girls don't remember the names of their favorite books. But none-the-less, this was trash. If you read my blog you probably already knew that or know that or whatever and this doesn't deserve any more of my attention. I gave it two hours of my life and those are two hours I will never ever see again.

So what about the kids movies? Um... playing now is Cats and Dogs 2... this is a sequel to a film that came out at least ten years ago and the target audience was not even alive to see that one in theatres... so who decided this deserved to be serialized?

Despicable Me was fun, sure... but there wasn't a whole lot to it. Which is fine for a kids film sometimes. In this case it was a success (at least in my book). But if Despicable Me was a success, The Sorcerer's Apprentice was certainly a failure. Just as I begin to hope Disney (under new management) will stop making pointlessly horrible films that go nowhere, this movie doesn't surprise me. Now now, calm down.
Toy Story 3 was beautiful. Just the right tone, so all hope is not lost.

But M. Night Shyamalan may have finally shot off his last toe (lol) with The Last Airbender. That movie sucked, plain and simple. So I watched the source material and was pleasantly surprised. It was a very solid kids program and at times hinted at greater things. But still, this movie sucked.

And a week before? Jonah Hex was literally just as bad if not worse.

But back to kids movies... Shrek Forever After wasn't as bad as Shrek the Third... but that's not saying anything. This was a pointless waste of time.

The Karate Kid was alright... but this was also just a remake of a far superior and believable movie. That's alright, it gets away with being okay.
How To Train Your Dragon still wins. I wrote a funky review about this right after I screened the thing.

Changing gears, Iron Man 2, Predators, both okay sequels. The A-Team, an okay remake. Robin Hood, a piss poor attempt at changing something into something it definitely never should have been... and also unoriginal. But The Prince of Persia was still worse. As was Alice In Wonderland.

The Losers was... okay... I guess.

God even get Him To the Greek was based on characters from Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I mean, are you getting my point here, because I feel liking I'm hitting a dead horse over the head repeatedly with a soldering iron
...and that's how this summer at the movies has felt.

There were other movies this summer, like Knight and Day (okay) and Splice(never ever see this movie, but read my post on it) and Killers (the god awful copy cat Knight and Day)... but they just don't really matter.

Here's the thing that scares me... I'm excited for Tron Legacy and The Hobbit (if it ever happens) and At The Mountains of Madness... but there are already advertisements for The Smurfs (oh no oh no) which may have been the worst decision in filmmaking history
...it seems the community of the institution of greater Hollywood has not yet learned its lesson. And I know I'm generalizing here, but could we please just fix this because it's becoming a serious problem.