12/27/11

Holiday Movie Wrap-Up & Why "Young Adult" Caused Controversy Amid Critics

WARNING! Spoiler-heavy blog entry!

Through the joy of gift certificates and discounts, I was able to see three of this year's holiday movie offerings. I finally took in The Muppets, Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows and Young Adult. Thanks to our holiday cinema surplus, we're also planning to see the latest Mission Impossible.

As for The Muppets, I ignored all press before seeing the movie. I felt happy just to see them onscreen again. But I can understand some of the reactions of the dissatisfied. While watching, I felt we weren't seeing the real Muppets. Rather, just another show they were putting on together. I imagined them calling cut and all the Muppets hanging out together at craft services between takes.

Because if this, I didn't have that same visceral "Kermit wouldn't live alone in a mansion!" kickback that many others did. I did tear up at most of the Jim Henson references. I was kind of expecting Steve Martin to pop up at some point and I did cry like an emotionally unstable little baby (Are there any other kind?) when they started singing, "It's time to start the music..."

12/2/11

The 25 Days of Christmas Movie Countdown

Unsung Christmas classic, "The Long Kiss Goodnight"
This is a challenge I don't even think I can live up to...and I'm pretty obsessive about movies. But should you be brave enough to try to find the time to watch roughly fifty hours of movies in the already-packed month of December, here's your guide to a holiday movie a day until Christmas.

Easing Into the Christmas Movies - You've got to pace yourself. I like to start with movies that only include Christmas as one element within a larger story. It's best to fight cinematic holiday fatigue by starting with these four...

Dec. 1stPlanes, Trains and Automobiles
Dec. 2ndFunny Farm
Dec. 3rdSleepless in Seattle
Dec. 4thSerendipity

11/27/11

Larry Longstreth and Mark Ordesky Talk Film, Creativity and the Magic of the Eighties - Part Two

Larry Longstreth
I've been saving the second half of my interview with filmmaker Larry Longstreth and producer Mark Ordesky. We first spoke on the phone all the way back in September when they were promoting the DVD release of their film The Long, Slow Death of a Twenty Something. (What's that? You're Christmas shopping you say? Well then...)

When we talked, I knew that Larry and Mark were already planning a series of other projects. The press has a nasty habit of only paying attention to what's happening right in that very millisecond. But the projects Larry is working on under his Eddy Spaghetti production banner are worthy of your attention, especially now when he's smack in the middle of working on them. (You can find the production company on facebook for updates.)

In the works and already happening are an animated series called Four Tanks and a Healer that already premiered on theonering.net, an animated feature called The Wanderer King, a documentary called Before the World Goes Boom, and an animated pilot called Captain Wilcox vs. The End of the World.

Did I mention that Larry and his team are essentially moving forward on all of these projects at once? In some way, each of these projects is in their own stage of development. Did I mention that Larry lives in the Midwest? Not Los Angeles or New York. The Midwest.

My hope is that this will inspire you. I directed a successful actress in a small project recently who shall remain nameless, but she tells this great anecdote about "making it". She says she was once sitting in a golf cart with Tom Wilkinson for hours waiting for the weather to clear on a shoot. They talked about life and he told her the one secret to making it. (I like to think he held his finger up like Jack Palance's "Curly"...) The secret is...never quit. Eventually, as the years go by, if you just keep going no matter what, others will quit but you'll still be there. Doing what you love.

That made me laugh, but in a way Longstreth represents that kind of anecdotal tenacity. So many of us talk about the need to recapture the magic of the eighties. While we talk about it over beers, Larry talks it about it on his film sets or in development meetings. If the eighties was the generation of Spielberg and Lucas and Howard and magic aplenty...then we're the generation after them that has to figure out how to deal with that. How can we aspire to match that spirit without directly ripping it off or not doing it justice?

Longstreth is doing something about that and there's something extra exciting about the fact that he's doing it from the Midwest.  Whether it's by choice or necessity, I don't know. But it adds just a touch of rebel sheen to the whole operation.

As I previously mentioned, this is the second half of our interview. Read the first half here and then check out the second part where we talk celebrity heroes, films of the eighties and yes...even a little Lord of the RingsIn the following interview - A: Audrey, M: Mark Ordesky, L: Larry Longstreth.

11/22/11

Pepper Spraying Cop Strikes Again...and Again...and Again

I know I love a lot of things. Typical fangirl I guess. But THIS is something I really really love. A brand new meme brought to you by the recent blatant injustices perpetuated on peaceful protesters by some overreacting police officers.

"Pepper Spraying Cop" has turned from an actual villainous moment in this unfortunate man's personhood into a hilarious wave of internet art in which said cop (Although, to be fair...there are so many more than just this one and I bet he's really confused about the right thing to do and also being prompted by his chief and other authority figures.) has been placed into comedic situations in which he is shown pepper-spraying other unworthy recipients.

Like The Daily Show, Monty Python's Flying Circus, every Charlie Chaplin movie ever and plenty of Looney Tunes episodes, comedy in general, (and satire in specific) can reverberate the sentiments of the masses...

11/17/11

10 Iconic Movie Towns You Can Actually Visit

Image via Vogue

Most movies use a combination of backlots, studios, and a few location shoots to constitute one idealized fictional town. It's good to keep both feet on the ground and remind yourself as you scroll...real life is never like the movies.

Except...sometimes it is. Some locations are real. They're charming, beautiful, and just waiting for you to plan your next vacay. I mean, how many times can you visit the same time share or crash your relatives' couch?

Here are ten iconic movie towns you can actually visit, straight from the silver screen and perfectly fit for your next escapist daydream.

Image courtesy of BritishColumbia.ca

1. Nelson, British Columbia from Roxanne (1987) 

This hilly Canadian paradise provided the backdrop for Steve Martin's criminally under-appreciated rendition of Cyrano de Bergerac. This movie is still good for what ails you, whether you need to laugh, relax, or recall the sweet, sweet cradle of an eighties childhood.

The setting lends to the fairy tale quality of the film. Sweeping mountainside views, a small town fire station, and gorgeous houses are also enough to inspire a real visit.


Marblehead, MA.

2. Marblehead, Massachusetts from Hocus Pocus (1993) 

Marblehead has also provided a moody atmosphere for The Witches of EastwickThe Good Son and more. No matter how time passes, I continue to meet new people who talk about how much this cult classic impacted their childhood. It's one of those movies that just keeps growing in the pop culture consciousness. The setting played a major part in making such a big impression. Wouldn't it make a lovely fall vacation?

(My runner up to this was Sleepy Hollow, which I also think would make an excellent sitcom. Imagine living in a town known for its association with one holiday. The comedic possibilities are endless.)


Image by laurikutilportraits.com

3. Woodstock, Illinois from Groundhog Day (1993) 

This town is proud of its movie past. Some of the towns on this list have websites that bury their filmic past or don't acknowledge them at all. It makes me wonder what kind of crazies show up in these places and how much trouble they generate.

But I digress, aside from holding all the Groundhog Day festivities you can imagine, Woodstock also shows Groundhog Day for free in their local movie theater during the week of the holiday. Happy bonus, a small portion of Planes, Trains and Automobiles was also filmed in Woodstock.


Image by OurSmallTownBigLife.com

4.  Berlin, Maryland from Runaway Bride (1999) 

In the summer of 2000, I used to sit and look at Berlin's website as a way to pass the time at my day job. In fact, it was the first movie location I ever internet stalked. Ah, memories...

Sometimes modernization makes it tough to recognize movie locations today. But if you're even vaguely familiar with the quirky Gary Marshall comedy, their homepage immediately displays a slide show or recognizable sights. And it looks like they intend to keep them that way.


Image via the Chicago Tribune

5.  Grafton, Vermont from Funny Farm - (1988)

The owners of the iconic Funny Farm house have requested that nobody share photos of the home as it is today or share the address and the house itself. Totally fair request. Because the internet is rife with crazies, as previously mentioned.

But you can still see plenty of Grafton that made it into the film. And Vermont appreciates tourists, especially after Hurricane Irene. So pack a picnic basket, save yourself the last apple, and get on out and enjoy the fresh air.

Image courtesy of VRBO.com

6. Grosse Pointe Blank/Monrovia, California from Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)  

Grosse Pointe Blank isn't really a small town. But it feels like one in this dark comedy starring John Cusack as an assassin who comes home to attend his high school reunion. Tree-lined streets shade independent radio stations. Local watering holes dot downtown. It feels idyllic-like maybe it smells of fresh cut grass.

Here's the thing, only some aerial shots are actually from Grosse Pointe. I wanted to use at least one film to illustrate how often small towns in California end up doubling for other locations. (Even Culver City was used as Bedford Falls in It's A Wonderful Life.) Oh, and Monrovia has Craftsman homes galore on top of all that small town charm.

Photo by Karen Peron

7.  Micanopy, Florida from Doc Hollywood (1991) 

This truly tiny town stood in for the firefly dotted, moss-covered Grady, South Carolina. Here Michael J. Fox's plastic surgeon character breaks down on his way to L.A. and learns that even though it's more challenging, it can also be more rewarding to live and work in a small community.

Writing Sidebar: This script is plum loaded with story-serving details, like a love interest who was once burned by a big city man and a character introduction that includes the surgeon's co-workers bidding him good riddance with a profanity-laced cake. This script is a study in concentrated "move the story forward" efforts. Not a minute is wasted.



8. Winnetka, Illinois from Home Alone (1990)

John Hughes used Winnetka and the surrounding area in almost all of his movies, like The Breakfast Club, Planes, Home Alone, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Uncle Buck and more. Winnetka stood in for what Hughes thought was a representative slice of average American life, a fictional town he called Shermer, Illinois.

I've actually visited Winnetka. It's a beautiful little village. The air is fresh. Even the grocery stories are posh and calming. And the thing is? I can't find a photo that does it justice. Only a nice spring walk can do that. Highly recommend.


Image courtesy of JoAnn Vitali

9.  Concord, Massachusetts from Housesitter (1992)
Frank Oz is a legend in the puppeteering world. He also has some pretty impressive acting credentials.  But he's also a prolific director with razor-sharp comedic timing. He's responsible for helming Housesitter, What About Bob, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Little Shop of Horrors and more.

And the man certainly knows how to characterize a place, as he did in Housesitter.


Image via Fort George Brewery


10. Astoria, Oregon from The Goonies (1985)

Quite possibly the world's most famous movie town, Astoria welcomes its admirers all the time. They even hold an annual festival for the film that put them on the map. I mean really, need I say more? Who wouldn't want to walk the streets where the Goonies quested to save their town? (Or where Brand stole that little girl's bike.)

So, where will you go first?

Oh, and one more thing...


I'd like to recommend Hooked on Houses. I stumbled upon it while researching Housesitter. It's thorough in its appreciation and subject matter, and that's something any geek can appreciate.



P.S. True story, I once almost moved to Naperville, Illinois just for the Hollywood Palms theater. Have you ever considered a move to a dream destination? Where? Why?

11/3/11

Happy Halloween from Heather

Contributor (and my partner in geeking, my sister) Heather went to a costume party on Halloween and she took her signature mad-crafting geek skills with her.

Her son was Link from The Legend of Zelda...


Keep going! The best photos are yet to come...

10/30/11

Make It So Number One!

I'm playing catch up right now! In the meantime, enjoy your Sunday. By the way...I stood five feet away from Patrick Stewart yesterday. I'll fill you in later...but I may or may not have embarrassed myself. Shocked? I didn't think so...


10/24/11

Magnum P.I.'s Daughter Makes for a Confusing Halloween Costume

So, I'm a huge Magnum P.I. fan. The blog here at Born For Geekdom with the most comments is THIS ONE.

Jake and I have long joked about making a phony trailer for Magnum's Daughter. It opens with a stunning young woman from behind wearing the trademark shorts and Hawaiian shirt. She mimicks several of Magnum's movies from the original show opening. She turns around and reveals that she also has his amazing mustache. Comedy ensues.

This idea crept closer to reality when I bought Jake an exact replica of Magnum's tropical shirt and his Detroit hat last Valentine's Day. (We purchased our replica through the Aloha Shirt Shop, in case you want one of your own.)

I'm still trying to find the time to make this little short with a proper actress. But I did get tired of waiting, so I went for it myself.

Here's Magnum's daughter along with my husband as "the dude" and the hilarious and talented Heather Leonardi as a grown-up emo Ginny Weasley. (The moustache also makes an appearance on the next episode of "Orlando Attractions Magazine: The Show" this Thursday. That's all I can say for now...)

Unfortunately, I didn't really look as much like everyone's favorite TV detective as I thought I would. Though the doorman at the party did recognize me!

I did, however, look like the following people...

1. The late, great Bruno Kirby



2. Mario



3. Ron Swanson



4. Any one of Bill Swerski's Super Fans


5. My Dad.


Ever worn a Halloween costume and had people confused as to who you were? Please do share in the comments section...

P.S. My husband and I are very bad at couples costumes. So the new tradition is being bad on purpose. Here's Julius Caesar and Magnum P.I.


10/18/11

Movie Bites - A Halloween Beverage Fit for the Headless Horseman!

It's time for another Movie Bite over at Smithbites.com. I LOVE contributing some writing over at this beautiful and classy food blog. READ MY SPECIAL HALLOWEEN ENTRY HERE.

Aside from the fact that it gives me a great excuse to delve even further into my movie obsessions, it's also been kind of a confidence builder for me. The truth is that anyone can cook or bake, it's just a matter of being able to follow instructions. Sure it sounds simple, but it was news to me.

So this was my idea for the perfect Halloween cocktail. The best part? You can totally set it on fire! I recommend serving it with a tiny little Stay Puft marshmallow man constructed on toothpicks...which you can also set on fire. If you're feeling really ambitious, you could even do some Beauty and the Beast style "pie and pudding en flambe" for a trio of fiery treats!

(But seriously, don't serve that...people will talk...)

10/16/11

Empire Strikes Again: Amazing "Goonies" Reunion Video

For Empire's 20th Anniversary, they were able to snag the cast of 80's classic "The Goonies" including Mr. Steven Spielberg and Richard Donner. You can watch the video over at Empire's site. Cast shenanigans, warm embraces and some talk of a sequel (finally?) does drift in an out of the conversation.  One amazing bonus to the 20th anniversary issue of the magazine? Steven Spielberg himself guest-edited. I rarely buy print magazines anymore, but I think I'll be snagging this one for sure.

WATCH IT HERE!

P.S. www.empireonline.com is a fabulous place to linger.

10/13/11

Not All Who Wander Are Lost - Enjoying "The Hobbit" in Pre-Production

That's my favorite line from "The Fellowship of the Ring" and it's been on loop in my head for a few days now.

But that's because I've been sick. Like super sick. Like feverish haze sick. For a few months, I've been pining after the special features on the extended versions of "The Lord of the Rings" box sets. They've been sitting on my book shelf calling to me. They are mine...my own...my precious. But I've been so busy there just hasn't been time to pull them down and watch them. So I admit, I was almost glad when I got sick. Because it meant I would finally have time to indulge. (Let me put it this way, I've been so busy, I just keep my makeup in the glove compartment of my car and I searched for gel that sets my natural waves because taking the time to blow dry my hair every day seems absurd.)

Back when the box sets were rolling out in the Christmas seasons after each movie's initial theatrical release in the early 2000's, I can remember greedily tearing into them after receiving them as Christmas gifts. I would stay up all night long to watch them. (And I mean multiple nights, multiple viewings.) I was even taking all the books with me to my waitressing job at The Olive Garden in Muncie, Indiana and stuffing them in the plastic plants anytime I got a table. Sneaking a paragraph here and there. And I can remember feeling so fulfilled in my "Lord of the Rings" obsession that I actually didn't mind when I was kicked out of school for not being able to pay my tuition. I stayed out of school for a calendar year, waiting tables and slinging coffee at a local bookstore and just enjoying the books and films...

10/12/11

In Which Heather Confesses to Life as a Halloween Snob


Wherein a mother allows some
costume inaccuracies for the sake
of her child.

I abso-freaking-lutely love Halloween! It's that one time of year you can completely geek out in public (outside of Comic-Con) and not receive negative attention. It's a day to look your obsessive fangirl best while laughing at the crappy costumes worn by those less impassioned. Granted, it's been a while since I watched Cinderella, but I'm reasonably certain she didn't wear a dress with her own picture appliqu├ęd to her bodice. Creepy much? 


It's reminiscent of the bad guy in the movie “Kuffs”, who wore a shirt displaying his own face. Incidentally, when he was shot and killed, the bullet went through the forehead of his visage. (Note: I do not condone violence to those who wear such things, but internal snickering is mandatory.)



10/8/11

Padfoot is up for adoption!

Berry, the amazing German Shepherd was being cared for by a stunt man who also worked in the Harry Potter films. But he travels so much for work since the series ended that the dog had to be put up for adoption.


If you are touched by Berry's story, I'd like to recommend a few things for those of us stuck in the states who can't really do anything about it. (Because if you're like me, you want to snuggle that dog and bring him home ASAP.)

1. Donate to the German Shepherd Dog Rescue that's caring for Berry. There's a donate button at the very bottom you can click on.

Berry out of "makeup". 
2. Donate to the ASPCA, the Humane Society or Humane Society International. Remember, donating to causes for animals also does a lot for humans. Keeps them safe from sickly strays, for one thing. But this is a whole other subject that I probably shouldn't get started on...

3. If like most of us, there's just no money to give, volunteer at a local animal shelter or consider becoming a foster home for a local rescue group. My sister-in-law runs Iron Underdawgs and I know for a fact that every little bit they get helps. Extra dog food, volunteers for adoption days at festivals and Pet Smart, five extra bucks, a spare computer monitor, everything helps!

Holiday Advent Calender + Halloween = Calloween



I was lucky enough to do some voice work for a great iPhone app called Calloween. It's for kids and it comes from RapDevPro, the same company that did the addictive Match Monsters app.

I love Halloween, but many of you know that I hate genuinely scary stuff and I've been that way since I was a kid. So I would've LOVED this back in the day. It's all atmosphere and innocent fun. It features classic monsters and gives you that same "counting down" giddiness that you usually feel at Christmas.

Of course, I also would've freaked out at the sight of an iPhone and thought it was a tricorder...but you get the idea.

10/7/11

This is Halloween, This is Halloween...in Orlando

I dressed as a flapper for the Trick or Meet Up and may or
may not have attacked this walking Turkey Leg.  
I have LOTS of fun Halloween blogs coming, it's just a matter of finding the time to post them. I have three Halloween blogs on SmithBites this month, a great guest post here from Heather about how it feels to be a Halloween snob, and plenty more. But this is what I've been up to so far...

In the past, I've posted:


I haven't been blogging much this fall because I've been busy working on Orlando Attractions Magazine: The Show which takes pretty much all day, every day. (Don't cry for me Argentina, it's like living one long Halloween blog post. It's amazing.) 

But I did give myself the afternoon last Sunday to put up my fall garlands and orange and purple LED's, my pumpkins, and cider-candles. Also, my work on The Show has already taken us to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, Universal's Halloween Horror Nights, Busch Garden's Howl-O-Scream, and tomorrow we're off to Sea World's Spooktacular. Later this month the Tampa Zoo Boo! It's been non-stop Halloween and I'm completely in love with it. 

Usually I blog about the Haunted Mansion a lot this time of year, but this year I've already been IN the Haunted Mansion. We covered something called the Walt Disney World Trick or Meet Up. (Or Trick or Treat Up, I've heard it called both.) It was an after-hours event where we were allowed into the Haunted Mansion for private rides. And once again, my husband and I found ourselves completely alone on The Haunted Mansion, nothing but empty doombuggies all around.

This also happened in 2008 at the Doombuggies.com "Swinging Wake". For someone like me who is so obsessed with the Haunted Mansion that it actually took up a large chunk of my graduate thesis... inhabiting the Mansion alone for any period of time is literally a dream come true. 

If it hadn't been for a phone call from my boss telling me about the event, I would've missed it completely. That's what my boss calls me about! Hello there, dream job. I'm usually too grumpy or tired to have a good perspective on things, but in Tina Fey's Bossypants, she also speaks of this exhaustion-based mood disorder that overtakes her when she works on 30 ROCK. Again, I am certainly no Tina Fey. Not even close. But it sure is neat to share an entertainment-based ailment with a hero. At least, that's what I'm choosing to call it. I guess I could learn to lighten up too...but it's more convenient if I pretend it's a communicable comedy-writing disease. 

In the mansion, after hours.
(And totally looking snooty about it!)
And anyway, it's pretty weird to be surrounded by people who are fans of the same things on a daily basis now. For so long, I was the super weird girl obsessed with the Haunted Mansion and theme parks and now I find myself frozen and shy around my new peers. I feel like a freshman in high school all over again. I know what they're all talking about, I just can't make myself jump in. I can talk Hatbox Ghost (Again, wrote a short story all about the Hatbox Ghost during grad school) and collector's items and fan-created characters and Cory Doctorow...but for the first time in my life, I'm just kind of at a loss for words on a regular basis.

It's great to find home, but then...how do you find your place at home? My identity was in being the lone weirdo...now I'm in a whole herd of weirdos. 

Too much ennui for a Halloween blog! Bah! 

Anyway, how are you wrecking the halls? And what will your costume be? I'm still trying to put my Han Solo costume together, I have the holster, the shirt, and the blood stripes, but I need the vest, the gun, the boots, and the pants. No  WAY am I going to have the money for those, so it looks like another Halloween costume dream unfulfilled for me. (It's why I had to be the ubiquitous flapper costume from Target at the Treat-Up.) 

Greetings from Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, I am the tiny red-shirted spec on the gound holding a camera.
(Photo courtesy Matt Roseboom...said awesome boss.)

9/20/11

Movie Bites - Mr. Ping's Noodle Soup







My latest movie food attempt was Mr. Ping's noodle soup from the Kung Fu Panda flicks. You can check it out aver at SmithBites.com or just click on the link HERE.

9/18/11

Live Blog - The Emmys 2011

Or as I like to call it, the 2011 blog typo marathon! I've live blogged before. But my Oscars live blog is usually more funny. Because WAY more stuff goes wrong at the Oscars.

8:10 - Starting a bit late tonight. All I know is that when I walked into our friends house in Orlando Leonard Nimoy was on TV. Sooooo...I'm good. And also, there's champagne here.

Just as I suspected, all the TV stars living in one building. If that's true, then that means the backlot from Pee Wee's Big Adventure is also real.

Kevin Nealon makes an appearance in the opening montage! IMMEDIATE WIN! (I'm probably a little behind the rest of you, we had to pause it because a lizard needed to be saved from the front door. I promptly saved it by scaring it into losing it's tail...I am the worst.)

9/16/11

Boo! and also Yay!



You know the drill by now.

Another "Evil Dead" movie, good. No Ash, bad.

(I'm as confused as Billy Crystal's face from THIS episode of The Critic. "Can't you tell by looking at my face?")

But here's the latest from Bruce himself over at Cinema Blend.



9/14/11

Slide Whistle + Darth Vader = Perfection

How I Commemorated 9/11

I usually don't like to talk about anything like this on my blog. This blog is my happy place. But I really wanted to share something that made me feel uplifted on a day that I had originally marked for slipping under and hiding out.

Jake and I watched "Man on Wire" on September 11 this year. It was Roger Ebert's Facebook suggestion that this is the only movie out of all those made about the World Trade Center to truly commemorate the towers in a beautiful way. And it was really quite the experience for me, because the movie has nothing to do with the terrorist attacks.

It's all about a man who had an impossible dream and stopped at nothing to make it happen. It's riveting, beautiful, exciting and ultimately a little bit sad. And it would make an incredible narrative film. But it's on Netflix and I can't recommend it highly enough. (She says years after a million other people have been talking about it.) It's really about the flip side to that dark coin of human creativity that either allows us to do something breathtakingly wonderful or unspeakably horrific with our lives and efforts and passions and motivations.

To top it all off, it's a really well paced film. Very well put together with unique interview shots that look like something Wes Anderson might've filmed. It takes what could've been a mundane storytelling experience and pulls you in. Watch the preview below.



"Smile...with your mouth!"

For the past week, I haven't been able to stop thinking about that scene in "30 ROCK" where Liz Lemon is supposed to be shooting the sassy opening title sequence of her new talk show "Dealbreakers". But she's so freaked out and nervous about being on camera that she forgets how to act like a normal human.

This happens to lots of people on camera. It explains why there are so many bad commercials for furniture stores and car dealerships floating around in the world.

I think from henceforth we shall call it, "Forgot how to be human" syndrome. It looks like this...



8/30/11

Movie Bites - Ratatouille's Ratatouille

Have you ever tried to recreate food from a film you love? Did you fail miserably or get it right the first time? My latest "Movie Bites" blog is up over at SmithBites. This time, I attempted Remy's titular ratatouille.

If you like that, I hope you'll also check out the rest of my Movie Bites series.

Semi-related anecdote: Coincidentally, I recently watched the wedding and baby episodes of "The Office". Ooh! Wouldn't it be great if you could isolate specific episodes/storylines of an entire series on Netflix?! (Do you like how I slipped in the word, "coincidentally," in an attempt to casually mask the fact that I am ALWAYS WATCHING THE OFFICE?)

Anyway, Kevin also makes ratatouille for Pam during their last Ultra Feast. And frankly, Kevin is the character I most relate to on The Office, food-wise. I once dropped a handmade German Chocolate cake on the carpet while carrying it to the birthday guy, candles a'burnin' and everything.

The Lost Art of the Movie Poster

I received an email this week from Cameron McCasland the director of an indie horror film titled "The Lashman". I've been thinking a lot about indies lately after having the privilege of chatting with director Larry Longstreth last week. I've always said my heart beats "genre" and "blockbuster". But lately, it seems to be making a little more space for smaller stories.

Coincidentally, I've also been talking a lot about movie posters with my sister Heather. (One of the contributing raving fangirls here at BFG.) She has recently discovered the art of Drew Struzan. Drew Struzan is THE movie poster guy. He's done just about every iconic film poster you can imagine from "Back to the Future" to "Raiders of the Lost Ark" to "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" and beyond.

Struzan has this way of capturing the magical feel of any film. As an artist, he has mastered the concept of finding the "feel" of a film and appealing to an audience through the gut reaction that "feel" might inspire. Heather and I talked on the phone about what a shame it was that someone on the marketing team of "Hellboy" didn't go with Struzan's posters for the film and as usual with nerds like us, the conversation spiraled into a nostalgic wish for the cool movie posters of the good old days.

8/23/11

Mark Ordesky and Larry Longstreth talk "The Long, Slow Death of a Twenty Something" - Part One

In Part One of my interview with filmmaker Larry Longstreth and producer Mark Ordesky, we talk about the making of "The Long, Slow Death of a Twenty Something." 

Larry Longstreth has made a film that does more than entertain for a couple of hours. It strikes a nerve. The trailer for “The Long, Slow Death of a Twenty Something” has light saber dueling, a Superman cape, a Braveheart reference and a Wilhelm scream. Which means that to a geek like me, it feels like home. But it has something else too. A gut-punching moment where a father tells his twenty-something son, “I'll always love you, but I don't have any respect for you.”

This indie film hits us where we live, the generation that grew up on a steady diet of movie magic and Steven Spielberg that now has to face obstacles like student loan debt and complicated parenting choices. But you can only coast so far on the “follow your dreams” nostalgia of childhood before you start to realize that you have to actually do something to make them happen. But doing something is difficult and scary and opens you up to the increasingly cruel criticism of your peers and that anonymous monster called “the internet”. THAT is the nerve this movie hits. To me, the influence of a film can be gauged by what you discuss after watching it. And if my gushing so far is any indication, this one might have you feeling uncomfortably introspective...in a good way.

8/22/11

Interview With A Monster - Doug Jones

My Monster

“Life’s like a movie, write your own ending.”
- The Muppets



Doug Jones.
(Photo via GeekTyrant)
In 2008, an independent film shoot came to Muncie, Indiana. I'd been freelance writing for a year, so I decided to stick my nose into the process. This confidence, I would learn, was unearned.

I volunteered to work for the marketing department as a blogger and general buzz-maker on relevant message boards. But it wasn’t exactly selfless. I had a long and beautiful history with the star of the film. 

He just didn't know it.


Orlando Attractions Magazine - The Show

Take a gander at my new day job...writing and co-directing this here internets show. We're still plugging away on technical developments, but the humor is starting to come through.

8/11/11

Do You Knit? Mind if I Do?

That title was just an Aladdin reference, I don't actually knit. Yes, I know it's weird to reference a nineties animated Disney film for no particular reason, but them's the breaks in my brain, okay? Okay.

Well, it so happens that this really amazing woman named Andrea does knit. It also just so happens that I discovered her via Facebook this week when I shared the fact that I had finally reached REM sleep after a long bout of sleeplessness and the way I knew it was that I was dreaming all night of searching for an authentic "The Dude" sweater for my husband. One can't dream, not even of Jeff Bridges movie memorabilia, without reaching REM sleep. So...hooray!

When I lamented that I had been searching for a Dude sweater for my husband for years, a friend posted a link to AndreaKnits.com showing that this crafty little minx had actually created a knitting pattern, from scratch, to the sweater from The Big Lebowski. I've seen a lot of Lebowski-esque sweaters, but never any perfect pattern replicas until now. Even in dreamland, this lack of authenticity really bothers me. (Sort of the way that they're always giving Batman laser guns and stuff...he doesn't use laser guns, so YOU shouldn't sell them toy people!)

You're probably really lost right now if you've never seen the movie, but just trust me when I tell you that this is the sweater of sweaters. It represents a higher plain of fulfillment reached by Jeff Bridge's character. It's just...perfect.

BEHOLD HER KNITTING PATTERN and marvel...MARVEL I SAY!

Of course, I can't knit. So it doesn't really help me. But it does impress me. I tried to knit once between the summer of sixth and seventh grade. I became fixated with this idea that by attaining a useful skill, I might win myself some form of social immunity. "Don't give me a swirly, I made you this scarf that's really really tiny on one end and super loose on the other!" My plan never worked. I learned too little too late that the barter system doesn't really help in junior high...but not until after I went through a major "I'll learn how to make hush puppies and donuts" month that July.

ANYWAY, I just love a good geek craft. Thought you might too.

8/8/11

Movie Bites - Who Wants Romulan Ale?


I do!

So I did a little experiment over at SmithBites.com to see if I could recreate the notorious stellar cocktail.

CLICK TO READ

7/29/11

Harrison Ford Settles a Feud

Harrison Ford has been fairly vocal over the years about being exhausted by the Star Wars franchise. By the press, the events, and the hordes of overzealous fans. He's also been equal parts humble, giving lots of great interviews for behind-the-scenes articles and DVDs. But he teases a lot about being really tired of the whole Star Wars scene.

As it turns out, there was a reason for his calculated distance, and it goes deeper than we ever knew...



Well, obviously that was a joke. But if I were Harrison Ford...I would be seriously over all of us wacky fans constantly in his face.

7/18/11

Geekducation: Bruce Campbell 101

Bruce Campbell broke the news via Twitter last week that at least one "Evil Dead" remake is in the works with his blessing and the direction of the man himself, Sam Raimi.

Personally, I'm bummed that we won't just get an "Evil Dead 4" starring the real Ash that picks up some years after where "Army of Darkness" left off, perhaps with the skeleton army invading the S Mart via a rip in the space time continuum?

How much do you want to see a seasoned Bruce Campbell play an older Ash? But I'm crossing my fingers that he's just toying with us and trying to keep his hopefully starring role a surprise. Above all else, I trust The Chin. So if he likes it, I guess that makes me okay with it by default.

Below, contributor Heather Cichos explores just one of the ways in which life as a geek sometimes intersects with her life as a mother. Bruce Campbell's announcement got her thinking...

7/15/11

"Like It's Quidditch"

This goes a long way toward cheering me up. The longest running fantasy film series may have seen it's last premiere...but somehow I get the feeling, the joy is FAR from over.

Movie Bites - Is It Really Time To Bid Harry Farewell?

Recognize the lovely lady in the yellow shirt?
It's Friday night and I still haven't seen the last Harry Potter movie. (Notice how I'm not even referring to it by name?) I'm holding out as long as I can. Normally I'm a midnight showing kind of gal for the big movies. But I just want to delay the inevitable, I need a few more hours, a few more days until Harry Potter is really over. But I'm coping. Today I got to go to Leaky Con 2011 as part of my new duties running "Orlando Attractions Magazine: The Show" and I recently tried to bake my blues away over at Smith Bites.

But I'm not ready...not yet. Have you seen the last movie yet? How will you cope?

7/13/11

HAPPEE BIRTHDAE HARRY

Not that Harry, the other one...Han. Indy. The man. Thanks for the memories fella! I love you. I mean...uh...greetings on your day of birth. Or something else totally not creepy and definitely professional. (Somewhere out there, I imagine Ford responding to me, "I know." Le Sigh.) What's your favorite Harrison Ford movie? Mine is "Temple of Doom". 


7/6/11

Meet Martin Freeman

Martin as the famous Dr. Watson.
Geeks like me who love the BBC have known about the actor Martin Freeman for some time now. But lots of people stateside don't really know Martin Freeman all that well. So I want to take you through some of his more memorable roles so you can get acquainted with him before you see him as Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson's much-anticipated Hobbit movies.

Freeman is one of those actors that feels like he's been around forever. That's partly because he's been working for a long time and partly because there's something classic about both his look and his performances. Freeman is not a leading man. By that I mean that he's a character actor who ended up with roles that suited him perfectly, through years of hard work I'm sure. And that's a compliment. Like many audience members I'm growing really really tired of leading men and women who look like plastic dolls with massive white teeth. I'd rather see someone onscreen that I can relate to, someone who looks real and not like they've been shipped in a sealed air-tight container from a reality TV episode or the streets of Hollywood. Not to issue a back-handed compliment as Freeman is plenty handsome.

All that aside, the best reason to love Martin Freeman is that he gives great performances. Though you may remember him from smaller roles in "Hot Fuzz", "Love Actually" and "Shaun of the Dead" his comedic timing paired with his natural dialogue delivery has landed him a spot representing some of the most iconic characters of all time. Such as...

1. Dr. Watson in "Sherlock Holmes" - For this BBC version of the classic mystery series, Sherlock and Dr. Watson were brought into modern-day London and given stories that resembled the classics in clues and title, sometimes even in their solutions. But these episodes added new bits and pieces rewarding Conan Doyle's faithful readers with what felt like brand new Sherlock material. Personally, I'm a massive Sherlock fan and as such I can tell you that Freeman's performance as Dr. Watson was all at once totally faithful to the books and still somehow felt original. I know, my gushing can be contradictory...

2. Arthur Dent in "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" - Here we have another classic piece of British literature where Freeman played our fish out of water lead. In this hilarious book series turned film, Freeman as Dent fumbles his way through outer space armed only with indignation and a confusing guidebook. This was a bit of casting that just felt right, as did the rest of the cast in this film. You know how sometimes you read a book, then you see the movie version and what's onscreen is totally different than what you imagined. Well, this movie was the opposite. Like all the Harry Potter films, Freeman as Arthur Dent felt pitch perfect.

3. Tim Canterbury in "The Office" - The BBC original version of "The Office" had Tim instead of Jim. Just as awkwardly charming, Martin Freeman originated the role in the British version of the series which was sometimes so believable in its realistic discomfort that it was hard not to watch through your hands. But Freeman's Tim was even more ruthless that Krasinski's Jim.

4. Bilbo Baggins in "The Hobbit" - And the role all the book nerds are waiting for...Bilbo Baggins himself. After the months and months of speculation about whether or not these films would even happen, pictures from the set are finally trickling in and to say that Freeman was the right choice would be an understatement. He has all that furrowed-brow worry-wartness you want Bilbo to have, with room for plenty of exuberant adventuring that the story calls the character to grow into. I don't know about you, but I'm already counting the days.

Did you know who Martin Freeman was before this? Or are you new to this British actor?