Monday, March 26, 2007

The Night of A Thousand Stars

Hey there, all. Yesterday was a pretty decent day and a fair representation of the way I'd like a great deal of my days to be.

Firstly, as you might guess, it was a day off from work -- which is always appreciated. The college pals Mark and Tom came down from Keene and we all headed off to Harvard Square in Cambridge to the historic Brattle Theater to attend the area premiere of Hot Fuzz, the new action-comedy from the team behind the UK's television and film wonders Spaced and Shawn of the Dead. Stars Simon Pegg & Nick Frost and director Edgar Wright were all to be in attendance, so missing the event was simply not an option. In order to gain attendance to said event, one had to catch a screening of a previous film in a series of presentations of classic action/cop movies such as The French Connection, Lethal Weapon, Hard Boiled and such. I'd made the trip out a while ago -- during a blizzard that shut down most of the city -- to catch Dirty Harry, in order to get my Fuzz ticket. It was freezing out there waiting for the amazingly undependable MBTA bus line ride home and I nearly jumpstarted my cold/flu again in doing so... but in hindsight, it was definitely worth it.

After grabbing a bite at Charlie's -- truly the "double cheeseburger king," just as the sign says -- we recaptured our spots in line thanks to another chance run-in with friend and fellow cinemaniac Wendee (see the "Lebowski" post on this blog). We all filed in and basked in the warming, comic glow of Hot Fuzz's warm, comic glow. No spoilers on the film, here. But anyone who loved Shawn of the Dead or can appreciate a great mix of character comedy and "shite blowing up" won't be disappointed. After the screening, a 30 minute Q&A commenced with Pegg, Frost & Wright. Many fine questions and many silly and informative answers were lobbed about. Pegg jokingly confirmed for me his hopes that a series of action figures featuring the Fuzz cast might be released -- especially ones in the classic Star Wars figure style where one could take his "Nicholas Angel" figure and place it in a series of playsets and vehicles. Autographs were signed, hands were shaken and a great time was had by all. But wait: there was more...

Immediately after the Fuzztival, another screening was to be held as part of the Boston Underground Film Festival. This screening was of a new horror/comedy/romance called Roman and to be presented in attendance by cinematographer Kevin Ford, star Lucky Mckee and director Angela Bettis. McKee (also well known director) and Bettis (also an acclaimed actress) previously collaborated on the great horror comedy May, and switched filmmaking positions on Roman, a DV-film regarding another lonely, dangerous soul trying to connect with his particular world with sweet and deadly results.

The film hits all the right marks and is exceedingly well shot by director of photography Ford. The post-screening Q&A was an intimate, down-to-earth session with McKee, Bettis and Ford lending advice and sharing filmmaking stories with warmth and humor. After a quick meet-and-greet, I asked Ford about the DVD release of the film and let him know that in the realm of DV features, I thought that Roman looked great and better, in fact, than David Lynch's Inland Empire. Very cool work was displayed by three very talented filmmakers, indeed.

After the thank you's were exchanged and the crowd split up, Mark, Tom and I headed out into the streets, parted company and I caught a nearby bus back to the pad to enjoy some of the David Lynch Signature Cup Organic House Roast Coffee (!) that I grabbed at the theater's concession stand. Quite good, actually. Mellow, not bitter. If you're ever out by the Brattle, the Lynch coffee's definitely worth the stop. Just be sure to keep the fish out of your percolator...

And if you get that reference, you're my kind of reader. ;)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"Prepare For Glory!"

A quick word about Frank Miller's 300.

I caught this thing with the pals in New Hampshire last week. It ended up a split decision. Some of us hated it, some appreciated the flick despite its lunkheadedness. I think Ridley Scott's Academy Award winner Gladiator does the "ancient epic" thing a bit better -- but there is a savage charge in some of 300's battle scenes and spiritual carnage. As we left the screening room and moved into the theater lobby, some of us began yelling at the tops of our lungs such battlecries as "Wheaaaah is the baaaah-throom?! Let no man stand in our way!! These toilets... are for Spartaaaaaaaa!!!"

My good friend Tim Hulsizer and I joked awhile about the film, realizing that all of these recent, huge, swaggering, muscle-bound warrior pictures like Gladiator, Troy, Alexander and such all seem comfy enough to solely deal with European historical conquests. We joked that some studio with a few hundred million to burn needs to man-up some July 4th weekend with a similarly noisy, overwrought, meatheaded, testosterone-historical (or "testostorical") production centered on good ol' American history.

We imagined an unproven, schizo music-video director at the helm, directing a 70% slow-motion CGI extravaganza about George Washington's crossing of the Delaware in 1776 -- only the Delaware would be 500 miles across, there would be a thousand ship armada, the entire film would take place at night in the rain, there would be pirates, Washington would be a bent, uber-buffed, stripped-naked, homicidal maniac with an impossibly hot Betsy Ross awaiting his return... and since Hollywood's historical epics are primarily cast with actors from the UK or Austrailia, all of our American characters would be played by Brits -- which would make things even more surreal.



Hundred million opening weekend. Guaranteed.

Check out Tim's blog for similar concept art and more. ;)
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http://ignatz.brinkster.net/daily.html

BLOG: THE RETURN

Well, here we are again...

As always, my apologies for the delays in between bloggerations. It's the usual reasons/excuses -- "work, sleep, the occasional day-off." Besides the winter season hitting the videostore like a suburban tsunami, I've been whiling away much of the spare time discovering the amazing world of online film soundtrack hunting (and rediscovering the greatness of Ennio Morricone), getting a roommate hooked on Fox-TV's 24, making a few new close friends, tearing up the crime-ridden streets of Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories, becoming one with all-things-Kryptonian with the Superman Ultimate Collector's Edition DVD set (all fourteen discs' worth)... and gearing up to do some "serious" writing again for the first time in years.

Project #1 is a sci-fi sort of thing. It's going to be very short and intended for a specific market (more details will follow, perhaps) and should also help me train for Project #2, an adventure drama inspired by a classic piece of literature and a film noir masterpiece. Though I've already completed two full-length screenplays (between 105 and 140 pages) and one short one (60 pages), it's been a daunting task getting to this stage. It's psychological, really. I'm never at a loss of material or inspiration. For me, the prepping is the hardest part. Between restlessness, the internet, movies, music and such, there are a thousand things out there that can distract one's attention from creativity. Like an athlete training for an Olympic event, one has to become very zen, very focused... and force the distractions away.

Step one was simplifying my environment visually. Too many posters and objects and such in my direct creative vicinity can throw me off, so I started packing some things up and storing them away. Now, the room is a bit more spartan in decor but could/should probably become more so. In addition, keeping the right things around can help to inspire. Off the walls came the Ghostbusters theatrical one-sheet and the rare Eric Clapton album cover. A painting by my mother (an unfulfilled artist, herself) and another that hung in the living room of the house I grew up in as a child stayed in their spots, though. This concept of mine has already had a sort of "cleansing" effect upon me in a way, I feel. I'm looking forward to seeing how this all plays out.

At any rate, it's time to catch some Zzzz's for the time being, so until next blog here's a few reviews to keep things rolling. More soon. :)

Theatrical

Dirty Harry (1971) ***1/2
300 ***
Volver **1/2

DVD/Home Video
The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989) ****
24: Season Five ***1/2
Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation (1989) ***
Mulholland Drive: TV Series Pilot Version ***
Night of the Comet (1984) ***
Casino Royale (2006) ***
Rocky Balboa ***
Confession Of Pain (Hong Kong) **1/2
Scary Movie 4 **1/2
The Last Man On Earth (1964) **
Attack Force * 1/2
Flight Of Fury * 1/2
The Suicide Manual (Japan) *
The Suicide Manual 2 (Japan) *