Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The lovely, Ms. Horne - Dora Winner!

Just wanted to give a big shout-out to the amazing and lovely Christine Horne for her Dora award for her performance in The Turn of the Screw, which I sadly did not see. (I suck. I know). If you want to check out more of Christine's theatrical work look no further than this summer's Can Stage's Romeo & Juliet, where she'll be playing Juliet. And, of course, you can see her in The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard, coming to a film festival near you this summer/fall/winter.
I'm using this photo without permission. That's just how I roll.

It's a Bird

This is another example of a book that I never would have picked up on my own, so many thanks to the generous Mr. McLaren, for again bringing uber-geek into my world. What Steven T. Seagle does here is nothing short of poetic. Sure, it's the cliche of a writer writing about writing, but iconically, it's about a writer having writer's block about trying to come up with a story idea for one of the most iconic characters of all time: Superman. And he's having a hard time because he can't relate to Superman, which, ironically, is something that I think a lot of people can relate to.
So what we get is a very personal story intertwined with a brainstorm on what makes Superman work for various people. The legion of theories that he throws out are really quick amazing and intelligent, and in the end, it's something simple. I'm not quite sure it works for me in relating to Superman, but that's just fine. I think that's part of the beauty of the book is it shows how different things mean something different to different people. That's what storytelling is all about. This is an absolute must read for any fan of Superman, comics, or the art of storytelling in general.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

1360 - The Promotion

This was a film that interested me back when Ryan and I were first starting to write Speak For Yourself, Asshole, as we have an inner-office rivalry in that film and so I was seeking out others of its ilk.
It's an interesting film. The tone is... well... I think... undecided. It has these moments that are awkward, but not in the fun way that people use awkward humour. The cast is fine, all are better performers than what they dish out here. It just feels a bit flat. Don't get me wrong - there's some really great moments, so nice insights into corporate culture, etc... but the whole thing just feels a tad muddled. I can't really give a strong recommendation either way - if it peaks your interest, go for it, if not, you're probably not missing a whole hell of a lot. Sorry Steve Conrad!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

1359 - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: A Very Sunny Christmas

I say this with love: there isn't a more inappropriate Christmas special out there, and if there is, wow...
I've been a fan of this show for quite some time. It's the kind that just tickles you in that place where you know something is funny on a primal level. Each character on this show is so wonderfully horrible and yet - you love them, or at least I do. You still identify with them in a really bizarre way. It's like playing choose-your-own-adventure and get to watch the bad choice play out.
The Christmas special takes what the show does so well and just goes absolutely insane with it. Just when you think it can't get more insane, it blows the previous thing it did out of the water. I refuse to ruin anything. I'll just say:
-Frank and the couch
-Charlie and the Mall Santa
God bless the people involved in this series. It makes me happy.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I Don't Care About Your Band

I read a book! Look at me! Seriously, this is a pathetic accomplishment, especially for someone who considers themselves a writer. To be fair to myself I do read a lot - but it's comic trades, or books on the craft of writing and story telling, or it's scripts. Reading a "book" book is something I haven't done in… I don't now know long. The last book I remember reading is Chuck Palahniuk's "Snuff", which I didn't enjoy as much as I would have hoped. I've actually picked up Palahniuk's newest book, which, if I don't dig it, may be the last I buy from him. But that's a whole other blog entry, (If by chance you ever see this Chuck, don't take it personally, we just may be growing in different directions).

I should point out that because I don't read a lot, that my thoughts on books should be taken with a grain of salt - I try to review all mediums - except for music - even I'm self aware enough to know that I'm not hip enough to be able to compare and contrast. Although… who knows - maybe I'll change my tune on that eventually too...

So, to the point, Julie Klausner's book. I should start off by admitting that, two chapters in, I found myself cyber-stalking her, found her e-mail address to inquire about the film rights to the book. She replied quickly, and she's quite lovely - still waiting to hear from her reps.

So then I kept reading. The first thing you should know is that Julie is extremely funny, and that she has an amazing memory for detail, and she really really knows how to tell her stories - which makes sense since her back-ground is a stand-up - I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of these aren't already part of her act, honed over the years. The first two chapters absolutely floored me and I felt like I was reading from a soul mate. Julie has this amazing theory on The Muppet Movie and how Kermit & Piggy's relationship has set back expectations and standards for a generation of men and women. The subsequent chapters were more or less enjoyable. I have to admit that I found the cycle getting a bit repetitive, she'd meet a guy, realize there was something wrong with them, sleep with them anyway, disaster would ensue along with hilarity, and she'd wrap the chapter up with a pop culture reference that she'd cleverly seeded earlier in the chapter. This sounds like a put down, it's just that I found her sections to have a pretty predictable formula, ESPECIALLY the end of the chapters. That's not so say what's within the chapters isn't enjoyable. I picked this book up on a whim based on the title and cover art. Seriously. So I have no reason to kiss this book's ass.

The book ends really quickly, and the resolution feels a bit too-little-too-late. It's good, as her stories continued I had kind of played therapist and figured out the answer to her obvious problem, and luckily, in the post-mortem at the end, she did as well - so that made me happy to know that she saw the same things I did in her situation.

So my over-all thoughts on this? It's fun. It's an easy read. There are lots of good stories, funny, some interesting observations about everything. But what comes across the most is her confidence and passion. Reading her book makes me want to hang out with her, which I think is a plus. If her reps ever get back to me I think that this could make a very interesting film once you get the spine figured out.

So for what this is, a dating memoir, I can't imagine someone else writing something as much fun. Well done, Ms. Klausner.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

1358 - Knocked Up

So it's been a little while since my last post. I've been doing a lot of writing and I've even decided to catch up on my sleep - what a weird concept - but according to my wife I was sleep deprived (don't tell her I said so, but I think she's right). I want to bed last night at 7:30pm. And it was awesome.
So, again, despite the fact that I've got a STACK of films I haven't seen before, again I felt the need to watch something in reference to a project I'm working through - I'm working on a script right now that bares a few similarities to this film and so I just wanted to make sure that I wasn't hitting the same notes too hard. It was lovely to revisit - it's chalk full of people that I really really adore. I read somewhere that, post-film, Heigl considered it a sexist film. It's a shame 'cause I think she's pretty fantastic in it. I would say that the film is probably targeted more to guys - but I mean, come on! What a feat is that considering the content is about a guy getting a girl pregnant. And Apatow made guys want to see that!
Really glad I revisited again - a really nice little flick.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

TUWOPS - First Nomination!

We just got notified that The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard has been nominated for "Best First Feature" in the Heart of England Film Festival. And we just found out our screening date, and oh the irony of ironies...
So I'm actually going to be in England for a wedding during the festival - and guess what day the wedding is? Yup. Same day as the film's screening. The festival is several hours away from where we'll be staying, so I suppose this makes my decision to attend or not a little easier, however since we've been nominated I'm going to see if I can't make it to the award's ceremony at the very least.
So if you're in England (and not going to the wedding), our film is screening on the 14th of August.

Monday, June 14, 2010

1357 - I Love You, Man

I saw this when it first came out, and I'm happy to say that it holds up on repeated viewings. God damn there is some really strong comedy writing in this film. Each character, right down to the small supporting ones, has a super strong voice and P.O.V. Segal and Rudd are lovely together. Rashida Jones holds her own and does wonderful things in what could be a rather thankless role. Really glad I picked this film up - looking forward to listening to the commentary at some point in the near future. Really great, fun film.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

1356 - Whip It

I wanted to see this film as soon as I was the trailer. The cast was right, solid subject matter, and great trailer with awesome energy. This film looked like a blast.
A friend of mine is a captain for one of the teams in the Toronto Roller Derby league, their team is Chicks Ahoy and we finally made it out to see a game last night (which rocked!), so it was only natural that my wife and I were extra pumped to finally watch this.
And it was... okay.
No one hates throwing out negative comments more than me but I just... I don't know. It's part sports movie, so within that you've got a bit of cliche that just has to happen to make the structure work. I'm fine with that. But I just found that the story was a bit of painting-by-numbers - stuff like everyone getting made at her just happened to all happen at the same time 'cause... well that's where it's supposed to happen in story structure. I guess what I'm saying is that I just felt like I 'felt' the beats of the story, rather than then disappearing into the film.
The cardinal sin of this film, for me, was that the film was unable to make the energy and excitement of the trailer. Not that it was trying to be a bait and switch, but it didn't get me excited the way that I'd hoped. The cast was all lovely, and there were some really nice bits to it. It's not a film I think I'll ever need to revisit. I'll tell you this - if you have a love-on for Barrymore or any of the fantastic people that are in this cast, it's probably worth checking out. But if you want my advice, use the above links and get your ass to a real roller derby. That shit is fun. The logo for my friend's team is below:

Friday, June 11, 2010

1355 - Hannah and Her Sisters

Yes. I've got a stack of films I haven't seen just sitting here, staring at me. Taunting me. But the heart wants what the heart wants. And being that I'm being that I'm gearing up to write a draft of an ensemble comedy, the heart wanted this. I can think of few better films in the ensemble category that work as well as this one does, that's full of so many great characters and great performances, and smart, wonderful one liners:
How the hell do I know why there were Nazi's? I can't even make the can opener work.

If Jesus came back and saw what was going on in his name, he would never stop throwing up.

"What if there is no God? What if you only go around once? Don't you want to be part of the experience?
The blend of comedy with heart, simplistic, yet stylistic shooting - Woody is in a league of his own. He's always, and continues to be, one of primary influences. I can't believe how long it's been since I've watched this film, but he's got so many great ones...

I absolutely adore this film and I'm so glad I revisited it at this juncture. If you haven't seen this and you're a fan of smart, funny, and warm films - get your ass to the video store. Better yet - buy it.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ben Folds - Still Fighting It

I normally don't post links to clips, etc... but screw it. I've been a Ben Folds fan for many a year, and the only thing that I love more than hearing him is watching him play. The guy is a ninja - he owns the piano and makes it his bitch.
And as much as he's a master of his instrument the guy knows how to plum the depths and he comes out with some pretty ass-kicking stuff.
This song is nearing a decade old, but I just discovered it - this is the link to the video. As a new Dad, I have to say that this pretty much sums up what it feels like. Thank you Ben for once again, emotionally kicking my ass.

The Sandman Vol 3: Dream Country

This was an interesting volume. It was four stand-alone stories all revolving around different periods of Sandman's life. William Shakespeare made a short appearance in a previous volume and we get the pay-off to that here in a wonderfully bizarre explanation that 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' was commissioned by Sandman to pay tribute to creatures he knows from another dimension. I don't want to ruin the fun of it, but there's some lovely meta-things going on. One of the other stories is, essentially, a long winded explanation of what happens while cat's dream. It's brilliant, and harsh, and sad, and wonderful. The first and last stories in this volume were just kind of 'meh'. The first, "Calliope", felt a little predictable.
Now, to be fair, they're well written - they look fantastic. But now the bar for Sandman has raised, and they just don't meet it as well as some of the other books do.
Gaiman is a fantastic writer because he's a great thinker. He's excited by ideas. They influence him. I imagine he'd be a great guy to have a few pints with. A good friend of mine has given me a novel of his (geez... how pathetically long has it been since I've read one of those?!), so I look forward to that, as well as the rest of this series. I imagine I'll probably pick up my own copy of it at some point.
In the back of this there is a Gaiman script, which I look forward to studying. The script format of comics baffles me. There doesn't seem to be a standard format. If anyone knows of one, please advise. I'm anal like that.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

1354 - The United States of Tara: season two

I know, I know. I've been lazy about watching stuff. The evenings are filled with mostly T.V. (which I only review season by season) and so them reviews are slower to come in. I need to go through another film watching burst - lord knows that my stack of stuff to watch isn't getting any shorter. I blame productivity. I've been writing a lot. I'm about to go to draft on a new feature, and when that's done and out for feedback I think I'll reward myself with a few days of movie watchin'!
Which brings me to this. I LOVE this series. In fact, part of what I'm working on these days is bumping up my writing portfolio, and so this would probably be a good series for me to do a spec of. Got some ideas floating around in my head already.
I know that it's not hip to like Diablo Cody. I don't care. And I'm not sure how much say she has in this series - I'm sure she's got a strong voice - but looking at the opening credits there are a LOT of cooks in this kitchen. But the meals they make... delicious!
This season saw us doubling the number of alters that Tara has - but in a really subtle way. I love that they don't feel locked into the ones we few met last season. It feels... real. They come and go as they're needed. New ones surface as they're needed. There were a few plot threads this year that either disappeared or got finished up a little too easily for my liking, but I'll let it slide for the most part.
The entire cast here is phenomenal. We expect Toni Collette to be amazing - the role is written for her to be so - she shines. No doubt. But the rest of the cast gets the same treatment. I love that the writers don't short change the rest of the cast, and there is some really wonderful stuff going on in their storylines. I could go on and on, but I'd just be naming pretty much everyone in the opening and closing credits. I will, however, single out Brie Larson. I know she's playing the most typical of the Diablo Cody type characters, but I don't care. I adore her. I want to work with her. She seems like she's got a brilliant energy about her. She chomps on good dialogue like it's bubble-gum.
So it's no surprise, based on the above, that I'm strongly STRONGLY recommending this series. If you've never seen it, remedy that, if you've never heard of it I feel bad for you. Now get on board. It's a wonderful little ride.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

The Sandman Vol 2: The Doll's House

I knew I'd be hooked after two. Well played, Mr. Gaiman, well played. What I really love about this series, now that I'm starting to realize how it works, is that it's just one big universe. And the central character of that universe is Sandman. This volume seemed to have a stronger story-arc than the last and it'll be interesting to see if the other volumes do the same. I love how this one is vaguely tied to the last one through Unity, the woman who was raped and had a child while in her dream-state. Stuff like that makes me feel like I'm in good hands.
Got one more in my stack and then I've got some others to get through before I return to this series.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

TUWOPS - More Festivals Added!

So two more festivals have been added to, what is becoming, our international tour. International Film Festival South Africa, and Heart of England International Film Festival. I'm actually going to be in England while this festival is on for a friend's wedding, so there's a pretty good chance I'll be able to hop over to it - which is exciting! We'll see what the fall brings in terms of traveling to South Africa!
We've submitted to A LOT of festivals - and for the most part we won't be hearing back from the majority of them until August. So we'll keep you up to date as best we can. A website for the film is under construction. More details to come...

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

TUWOPS - International Film Festival Ireland

Just a quick update to say - We've been accepted!!!

Here's their website for more information.

New Music Suggestions?

As some of you know I had a burglary in the winter, and with it I lost my computer, which housed probably over ten thousand songs that I'd collected over the years. Just before that I'd decided to give away a lot of our physical CDs to goodwill because they're just taking up space and we more or less just plug my iPhone into whatever stereo device we have and listen from that.
And I had the music backed up on a harddrive. Which was also stolen.
So since then I've pretty much just been listening to what was on my iPod already in fear of it getting all erased when I plugged it into my computer. With that fear subsiding I'm getting pretty damn tired of having had listened to the same music for the last... six months... geez... has it really been that long?!

I've got a bunch of iTunes gift cards burning a whole in my wallet - so any suggestions would be great - full albums, individual songs. I've been out of the music loop for awhile. So please, friends. Help me to be hip again.