i am that guy

MAJOR/MINOR by THRICE

The album of the year. Everything I wanted and so much more.

Favorite Tracks: Blinded, Treading Paper, Promises, Words in the Water and well, pretty much the entire album. 

——-

Reading: Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

Listening: see above

Watching: The Debt, City Lights, Entourage, Skins (Season 2)

I have a desk!

After nearly 8 months without any kind of work space, I finally have a space I can call my own…in my parent’s house. When I moved back to LA from San Francisco, I had the pleasure of sharing a room with my brother (Hint: it sucked). He moved to Baltimore and now I have my own room. 

I’m pumped about this because I finally have a spot to write and day dream and create, and it doesn’t involve sitting with the laptop on my lap in an overcrowded room while the laptop scorches my crotch. 

In college I had a spot in the library I worked. I loved it. Most every paper, article or screenplay that was produced during college was written there. In a lot of ways it was like a cubicle and when I put my headphones on I was essentially closed off from the rest of the world. The introvert in me was in heaven.

Unfortunately, since that time I haven’t had a quality writing space and I think my writing has suffered because of it. My desk in Tunisia became a cluttered mess. My writing in San Francisco was relegated to the kitchen, which just made me hungry all the time. So, hopefully this new space works out.  

Now I just have to figure out how to decorate the walls around it.

——-

Reading: In the Blink of an Eye, Ex Machina (Volume 4)

Watching: the Giants lose…a lot

Listening: Bon Iver - Self-titled

What I’m looking forward to

Wow!  I haven’t blogged in…well, forever. Just got out of the habit, I suppose, and the past few months have been mostly consumed by training and helping open the new Microsoft Store in Century City (go check it out!). But my schedule there has normalized for the time being, though everything will be thrown into chaos next Thursday when I begin graduate school at the Best Film School in the World: AFI!!!  I’m pumped!

But since I haven’t really wrote anything for a while, I thought I’d stick to my usual topic and make a list of films I’m looking forward to the rest of the year.  There are quite a few, so get ready.

  • Apollo 18
  • Contagion
  • Moneyball
  • The Ides of March
  • Wanderlust
  • Martha Marcy May Maylene
  • Red State
  • Anonymous
  • Like Crazy
  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
  • Carnage
  • Hugo
  • The Muppets
  • J. Edgar
  • Piranha 3DD
  • The Descendants
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
  • The Adventures of Tin Tin
  • War Horse
  • We Bought a Zoo

Will I see all of them? Most likely but I’m sure there’ll be a few duds in there.  If I had to narrow it down to five films it would probably be Moneyball, The Ides of March, Like Crazy, The Descendants and J. Edgar. With saying that, I can’t wait for Contagion, The Muppets, M:I 4, and War Horse, too.

——-

Watching: The Guard, My Man Godfrey, Bringing up Baby, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, 

Reading: Ex Machina (Volume 3), The Tyranny of Story, In the Blink of an Eye

Listening: the radio and Thrice (Yellow Belly and Absolution Acoustic)

THE TREE OF LIFE

I finally saw the much hyped THE TREE OF LIFE today. I was excited to see it but having followed its debut at the Cannes Film Festival last month and it’s release a few weeks ago, I was prepared for what to expect.

So, here are a few thoughts I’ve had (I suppose there are spoilers, though there isn’t much more to the story than it’s synopsis):

  • Obviously, the cinematography is gorgeous. As is the “creation” visual effects. I’d be shocked if Emmanuel Lubezki doesn’t win the Oscar. His combination of camera movement and image quality is astounding. This is true visual poetry.
  • I think Jessica Chastain is brilliant in the film and will be a powerhouse actress over the next decade. It’s also easy to say that simply because I’ve also seen her work in the upcoming TAKE SHELTER.
  • The film definitely has some slow, nearly boring spots. I’d go even further and say it’s probably 10 or 15 minutes too long.
  • Thematically, to me it felt just right. From what I’ve read, different people are getting different things from it. A lot of people are trying to say it’s about the meaning of life, which I can see where they get that from. But to me, it’s an analogy of the Book of Job. From the voiceovers, Malick is clearly making a film where humanity is praying/pleading with God to let them know how He could be God but still allow “bad” things to happen. To Mr. O’Brien, he doesn’t understand why he doesn’t make lots of money even though he works hard. To Mrs. O’Brien, how could a child die. To Jack (young and old), how could his father be so strict as well as the reality of allowing his brother to die.
  • Keeping on from my previous point, the ending seems to wrap everything up for me. Malick, who from what I’ve read is a deeply spiritual person, seems to suggest in his vision of the afterlife (or adult Jack’s dream of it) that God is in control and all will be okay. This relates to the long intercut “creation” scenes that are extraordinary (as well as a bit hokey when the dinosaurs pop up). It seems Malick is saying, don’t worry God is bigger than humanity’s troubles, and has it all planned out. This idea that God is completely aware of our struggles, but still allows them relates to the Book of Job. The film quotes the book before anything starts.
  • The voice overs throughout are without a doubt prayers. I can’t see any other way to interpret them.
  • Are the “flame” like images maybe a soul? Spirit of God?

Anyways, it’s truly a film unlike anything else I’ve seen in a while. It’s not for everyone and can be really slow at times. And if you’re looking for some kind of narrative, don’t bother.

——-

Listening: the radio

Watching: THE KILLING, THE TREE OF LIFE

Reading: Dune

Downtown Los Angeles (Taken with instagram)

Downtown Los Angeles (Taken with instagram)

What to do with this thing

With grad school approaching, I’ve been thinking about what I should do with this tumblr/blog. I was considering turning it into a journal type blog about grad school and journey towards becoming a professional screenwriter. Or maybe just continue talking about movies all the time. Reviews? Hipster fashion? Giants Baseball? Pictures of frogs?

I really don’t know.

What do you think?

——-

Watching: E3 Conference videos and game trailers, The Hangover Part II

Reading: I was reading a ton of Hemingway but I lost my Kindle (grrrrr!) while flying to Miami.

Listening: Manchester Orchestra - Simple Math

officialthrice:

4th installment of ‘In Studio’ videos

So stoked for this new record. At the end you can hear a bit of a new song and see the title and release date!

Gus Van Sant interviewed to direct the final two Twilight movies?

The Hollywood Reporter ran a story today (read it here) detailing how Gus Van Sant “bombed” an interview/audition to direct the final two Twilight films. It was interesting to read this, especially because Van Sant is a great filmmaker with such films as GOOD WILL HUNTING and MILK on his resume. He’s not the kind of guy who typically has to “interview” for a job. He even admits he hadn’t done anything close to interview for a job since the late ’80s.

But my question is this: What was he doing interviewing to direct a Twilight film in the first place?

Is he a fan of the books? In need of a paycheck? Looking for some mainstream success? Did he not know what to make next or had an opening in his schedule?

It really interests me to know why he would be there in the first place. A quick glance at his filmography reveals that it just doesn’t quite fit in. Maybe that’s what he wanted, something really different. But directing the fourth and fifth film of a critically blasted pre-teen franchise?

From the perspective of the producers and studio, getting a filmmaker of the caliber that Van Sant is would be a home run. It would bring credibility to the project (not that it needs any to make another $300 million domestically) and maybe improve it. They clearly weren’t impressed though.

The end of the article also points out that Sofia Coppola also interviewed. After watching SOMEWHERE, I can understand her needing something successful but again it just doesn’t quite fit in.

Bill Condon got the job in the end. It’s weird as well but his filmmaking roots were steeped in horror so it makes sense.

——-

Reading: Crafting Short Screenplays that Connect, Dress Your Family in Corduroy

Listening: Manchester Orchestra - Simple Math, The Radio

Watching: Badlands, God of Carnage, The Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides, Everything Must Go

Woody Allen and MIDNIGHT IN PARIS

No matter what your thoughts are regarding Woody Allen’s private life, there’s no denying that he is an American treasure as a writer and filmmaker. As the quote goes, “I guess you can’t have all the gifts.”

I’ve been a fan of Woody Allen for quite a while, mostly because my father was a fan and we would periodically watch his movies. I remember seeing SMALL TIME CROOKS and TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN as a young teen and enjoying them, but I never really watched a lot of Allen’s films until college. That was when I finally made the effort to sit and watch some of his classics, such as ANNIE HALL, MANHATTAN and CRIMES & MISDEMEANORS.

Considering he releases a film every single year, it is sometimes tough to keep up with his films because the misses tend to disappear rather quickly and by the time it’s out to rent he has another one coming out.

I was lucky enough to see his latest film, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, last night at a Film Independent screening. His films are always smart and well-acted, but for whatever reason for the past 20 years they are hit or miss. MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, thankfully, is a hit.

The film follows Owen Wilson who plays Gil, a successful screenwriter (Woody Allen would’ve played this role 30 years ago), on vacation with his fiancee in Paris with her parents. He’s obsessed with 1920s Paris, walking in the rain and taking in the culture. When he and his fiancee run into one of her old friends he considers “pedantic,” he dodges out of hanging out with them by taking long walks at night. He soon finds himself in his own fantasy partying with the artistic icons of the ’20s. 

If you’re up on Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Matisse, you will love it. If you’re not, you’ll still enjoy it but wish you were a little more literate. I fall in the latter category, but what’s great about the film is it makes me want to become more educated and well-read. Clearly, certain areas of my education are missing.

The movie’s themes are a bit on the nose and hardly subtle, and beyond a nice trip through the main character’s living in 1920s Paris fantasy, we don’t really get much else. The main character has a slight change, but not the kind of arc that could have been possible with the setup. In some ways, I wish Allen had spent maybe an extra month or two developing the script and the one-dimensional side characters instead of rushing to get another film produced.

But I still recommend it.

——-

Reading: Writing Short Screenplays that Connect, Dress Your Family in Corduroy

Listening: Manchester Orchestra - Simple Math

Watching: Midnight in Paris, The Big Heat

"Simple Math" - The New Album from Manchester Orchestra

I had first heard of Manchester Orchestra sometime in 2007 when they were touring with Brand New. Unfortunately, due to traffic caused by a Josh Groban concert, my brother and I were late arriving to the show and missed them opening. We were disappointed to say the least. So, when the single “I’ve Got Friends” started to get a bunch of radio play in 2009, I picked up their last album. I liked it, but didn’t love it. In a lot of ways, they have a Nirvana vibe going but “Mean Everything to Nothing” just didn’t have the hooks to keep me listening. I did, however, see them live finally (again with Brand New) and thought they were pretty solid, though the venue was pretty crap so it was tough to get a good feel for them.

So, after hearing whispers that their new album, “Simple Math,” was amazing I got my hands on it. They weren’t lying.

It’s awesome.

After 4 listens through in the past two days while driving to job interviews, it’s engrained in my head. It’s just plain good.

What the last album was missing, at least for me is clearly present. There are some grooves and hooks that really stick with you. The songs don’t drag on as long and avoid sounding like just a wall of sound. In fact, the last half of the album is pretty much perfect. It ends and all you want to do is start the album right over again.

A good friend once told me that the best songs or albums leave you wishing certain parts or the song would go on longer. It’s so very true and “Simple Math” does exactly that. It knows when to rock and it knows when to be more moody or atmospheric. And it knows when it’s time for a song to end, which is with you the listener not wanting it to end.

I think the folk rock side project Bad Books for the lead singer has benefited the band. He chooses to sing more and let the melodies hook you in instead of a bit too much growling.

As for the lyrics, I haven’t had the chance to really check them out yet, but the last album had great lyrics so I’m guessing these will be as well.

One of the best albums to come out this year.

Buy it!

——-

Reading: The Physics of the Impossible, Dress Your Family in Corduroy

Listening: Manchester Orchestra - Simple Math

Watching: Bridesmaids, The Killing, Parks & Recreation, Game of Thrones, On the Waterfront