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

Muppets? 10/10. No complaints. 


Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows was fantastic. As a lover of the original Sherlock stories, I've enjoyed the recent Sherlock resurgence. Though Sherlock is so frequently portrayed, I guess it's unfair to call two movies and a BBC series a resurgence. The master detective is always around, isn't he?

Because it's classic fiction, it's open to reinterpretation. Fair game, I say. It's why I never have a problem with multiple comic book movies. Classic characters belong to all of us now. The more interpretations we see, the better. Film is a medium custom made for new visions. Storytelling itself has always been about sitting around the fire and listening to this person's version, if that makes sense.

Game of Shadows was all fun, all the time. A modern take on an amalgamation of classic stories done in Guy Ritchie's signature style. The sequel followed the golden rule of amping up the action, the pacing, the jokes and the stakes. The Roma culture was portrayed colorfully and real Roma music was used during their scenes. This is one I'll see again if I have the chance. More than a few of us giggled like nerds when first mention of "Reichenbach Falls" was made. We knew what was coming.

But my viewing marathon was taking place while a little drama of my own was unfolding in my private film world. (You don't have one of those? You should get one. Private film worlds are fun.)

I've talked about this before, but I belong to a women's critical association, the WFCC. At this time every year, the WFCC's award results are released and inevitably, every single year, major drama unfolds following the release. Comments sections blow up. Sentiments of "Oh, they just don't get it," resound across the internet.

Plenty of critics' associations release their rewards this time of year right before the official award season begins. To be fair, awards will always draw ire. Awards themselves innately mean there are losers and there's nothing more fun for movie geeks than to argue with each other about movies. It's what we do. It's who we are. So some drama is to be expected. That's fair.

Mavis is steeped in commercialism,
buying everything aimed at her
age-group and younger. We
see her frequently shopping and
watching commercials.
A good way to introduce you to the drama would be to give you a way in. This year, there's been a lot of disagreement over a couple of specific nominations. Over a week ago, I started to get the arguments in my inbox over "Young Adult".

There's a "Worst Female Images" award given out by the WFCC every year. This film was nominated and several members of the WFCC disagreed with that nomination. It did not win the award. In my opinion, that's a big relief.

Charlize Theron's character, Mavis, as written by Diablo Cody and directed by Jason Reitman, is essentially unredeemable. Or rather, she chooses not to seek redemption. She goes through, what for any other person, would be a life-changing mental breakdown. A long-time-coming moment where she could confront ghosts that have been haunting her for years.

She runs back to her hometown during a season of weakness in an attempt to win back her high school boyfriend, despite the fact that he's happily married with a new baby. (Not coincidental timing, as we find out at the climax of the film, that Mavis was once pregnant with his baby and miscarried. Something she has never rebounded from emotionally. It's what has stunted her growth as an adult.)

Mavis is also a raging alcoholic. She admits it out loud at one point. She drinks CONSTANTLY in the movie. As I processed the film after watching, what struck me was that this was a character deep in the throws of her alcoholism. She's quite ill. Is she superficial? Yes. Is she nasty? Very much so. She's a character in crisis, but she's also a character in denial. One of the major symptoms of the disease.

Oswalt's character "Matt" shares some of Mavis' immaturity
and stunted emotional growth, but for very
different reasons. 
I always ask myself after seeing a movie, what did that movie have to say? What was it really about? Immediately following the film, my knee jerk reaction was, "This movie has nothing to say." It's because I was mad at Mavis, angry at her treatment of Patton Oswalt's character. But I couldn't have been more wrong.

What I was feeling was the weight of effective storytelling. GOOD writing from a literary point of view where there wasn't a happy ending. But I can understand the feeling of frustration the story evokes and how it might lead a critic to nominate it for Worst Female Images in the heat of the moment.

But unlike many frustratingly sexist movies, Mavis is not the only woman in the film. There are four well-balanced, quirky, interesting young mothers who have their own band. They have complex, mature relationships with each other. They show pity to Mavis in the face of her repeated provocations.

There are two older mothers of adults who can see Mavis' breakdown coming a mile away. They try to help her. There's a best friend at the very beginning of the film who looks at Mavis through nervous eyes, even as she sees the storm clouds of crisis gathering. In addition to that, there are several side characters of both genders that are funny, real, and like most humans, complicated.

To me, Worst Female Images in movies should be reserved for one-dimensional or achingly stereotypical portrayals. There's nothing one-dimensional about any of the characters in Young Adult. In fact, the story is more slice-of-life and well-layered than most movies are even willing to try for. Don't we want to see women in all kinds of roles? Shouldn't we want to see heroes and villains and everything in between?

Some of the most insulting, simpering female characters I watch are in big shiny romantic comedies. Is Mavis a good, moral character? Absolutely not. But good, perfect, moral characters don't make for very entertaining movies, do they? Mavis is only one of two women in the film who seems unwilling to confront reality. That's what makes her so interesting to watch. She's a mess.

The other is Matt's sister, who has obviously harbored an obsession for Mavis. Upon seeing her for the first time in years, she gets giddy excited. She reminds Mavis that she once baked her Rice Krispies in high school, and then demands praise for such a simplistic action twenty years later. Clearly, she still wants to be one of the cool kids. Every other woman in the film has a firm grasp on her sanity. But we need a character like Matt's sister. We need to understand the kind of power and sway Mavis held in high school and this woman helps us gauge that.

"Young Adult" ends with an eerily perfect song. "When We Grow Up" by Diana Ross can be taken one of two ways. The repeated strains of "I don't have to change at all," are sort of left to the viewer's interpretation.

Did Mavis discover that she doesn't have to change for the people back home in a positive way or a negative way? From where I was sitting, it was more of a dark realization. Mavis is going to choose to walk away, unchanged, from what should've been her moment to confront everything. Her alcoholism, her neediness, her inability to have a meaningful relationship with a man and her unrelenting vanity. (By the way, there's one tender moment that makes you hope for Mavis redemption. All I'll say is this, I've never cried at a love scene until I saw this movie.)

What Young Adult wants to tell us is, not everybody makes the choice to grow. Not everyone chooses to better themselves or put others first in a relationship. In other words, this movie tells us an uncomfortable truth and holds a mirror up to the realities of vanity, self-centeredness and alcoholism. (Not to insinuate that alcoholism is like a personality disorder.) It serves a different purpose than a populist, escapist, feel-good romantic comedy. And to me, that's okay. Because not all movies have to serve the same purpose.

I'd like to see Young Adult embraced by audiences. The years will be good to this movie and critics will be embarrassed at their negative reactions. I hope. But for you audiences out there, it's okay watch a movie that challenges you. Ideal, actually. Watch a movie that makes people argue. Watch a movie that forces you to think after the credits roll.

Diablo Cody wrote a stunning screenplay, one that almost purposefully seems to, at first glance, plant some misdirected clues. (Mavis is recently divorced, Mavis pulls her own hair out of her scalp, Mavis watches nothing but "Keeping up with the Kardashians", Mavis impulsively drives back to her hometown because she wakes up feeling blue one morning.) 

At the end of the film, these small mentions and glimpses of things add up to one big "a-ha". The haze of alcohol. All the loose threads can be explained by Mavis' drinking problem. The mystery is so subtle, so literary, that it almost beats Sherlock Holmes.

The last conversation Mavis has in the film is with Matt's aforementioned sister, the only person in town who is still desperate to win her approval. What Mavis needs is someone to tell her the truth, that she has no right to look down on the people of her small town. That she is cocky and self-deluded. That she can change and have a more fulfilling life if she'll stop looking back, Uncle Rico style, to what she thinks were her glory days in high school.

Instead, Matt's sister enables Mavis, tells her she is awesome. That the people of Mercury are so inconsequential, they might as well die. She tells Mavis she lives in a cool place, she has a cool job and she has shaken the dust (and losers) of her hometown off of her metaphorical boots. Mavis thanks her and says, "I needed that." When Matt's sister asks Mavis to take her back to Minneapolis with her, Mavis turns to her and says, "No. You're good here." Essentially condemning her to death.

This reaction tells us Mavis will return unchanged. She's going to retreat to the idea that life is like high school and she came out on top. She'll never confront the realities of her depression or alcoholism.

This is the dramatic equivalent of the killer popping up at the end of the story and finishing off the last survivor. It's not a happy ending. But it says a lot more than a happy ending would have. And let's face it, we all know a Mavis or two. We encounter them at our high school reunions. We meet them anew in our everyday lives. There will always be people who never see themselves as the villain, even as they perpetuate everything from minor selfishness to horrific crimes. There's always someone who thinks they are vastly superior to everyone around them. Mavis sees herself as the heroine of one of the young adult fiction books she pens instead of the broken human being she has become.

Whether Mavis was a narcissist, an alcoholic or both is up to the viewer. Young Adult offered me the diversity of female characters for which I've always begged. More than that, it gave me something different. For that reason alone, it deserves an award.

What did you see over the holidays? Better yet, what's the last movie that made you angry and why?






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

When we talked, I knew 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.)

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...


10/16/11

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.

10/12/11

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. 

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.

9/16/11

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.



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". 

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.


The posters for "The Lashman" were designed by Dennis Vincent of Denver, Colorado. Someone who clearly loves film and gets the idea that a poster should made you feel something and really want to see the movie.

Case in point?

But these posters make me want to see "The Lashman". It makes the film look like it's going to feel like a comic book western that might evoke "The Evil Dead" and that's a movie I can get on board with.

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 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. 

One problem. Doing something is difficult. It's scary. It 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. The influence of a film can be gauged by what you discuss after watching it. So, the following conversation says a lot about the film.

8/22/11

Interview With A Monster - Doug Jones

Interview with a 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 soon learn, was entirely 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.


8/11/11

Do You Knit? Mind if I Do?



That title was just an Aladdin reference, I don't actually knit. But a woman named Andrea does knit and...

BEHOLD HER KNITTING PATTERN for THE sweater.


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?


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.


6/29/11

Movie Bites - In Which I Mess Up a Pie

For this week's installment of "Movie Bites" over at at the delectable food blog Smithbites.com, I tried to make one of the stunning pies from "Waitress". As usual, I failed. But I had fun doing it!

Not only can you learn from my mistakes, you can watch a gorgeous video of how to make chocolate ganache the right way at the end of the blog. Seriously, the video is mouth-watering.

If you're on a diet, you may want to skip it...it's too much temptation to bear. All that glossy melted dark chocolate. *Homer Simpson drooling noise*

6/24/11

The Week in Geek - June 24, 2011

It was one HECK of a week for a geek. Lots of amazing things happened. Let's recap, shall we?

J.K. Rowling made her official announcement about Pottermore. In a charming little short film, Rowling announced that we could literally write ourselves into the Harry Potter stories.

Yesterday was Joss Whedon's birthday. Happy Birthday to the man who brought us Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly. Thanks man.

Yesterday was also the birthday of The Enchanted Tiki Room which opened on June 23, 1963. Hooray for the pure joy of tropical magic.

I posted two interviews with Star Wars voice actress Ashley Eckstein. (Hear that? That's the sound of me tooting my own horn.)

Writer Cole Farrell wrote a sass-filled re-cap of So You Think You Can Dance that will have you giggling. (The phrases "Aquanet fund" and "backup pantsuits".)

Five Sprockets kept you up to date about what was happening in the world of screenplays and what movies are out this weekend.

Sadly, the last thing I have to report is that Peter Falk has passed away. Must've been tingling in the atmosphere because I watched "Murder By Death" on Netflix just this week. Most people knew him as Columbo. I knew him best...as Grandpa. Godspeed Mr. Falk. Thanks for all the great performances and for being so unique.


6/22/11

Origin Stories - Matt Bergin of "Comics Cure"

Part comic-book like origin story, part "Tales of Interest" from Futurama...enjoy the first in a series I'm calling "ORIGIN STORIES".

For several months I've been thinking about inviting other contributers to BFG. I've met and worked with so many amazing geeks over the years. Behind-the-scenes, the stories we share about our lives can sometimes be...well...inspirational.

After a recent conversation with Ashley Eckstein about the revolutionary idea of (gasp!) supporting our fellow geeks, I feel more compelled than ever to not just spew pop culture references, but to throw the spotlight on fellow writers and artists who are adding something good to the world.

To inaugurate the series, read how Matt Bergin uses his inner geek to spotlight others for a good (nay, great) cause...

6/21/11

Ashley Eckstein Interview - Part 2

In part 2 of Audrey's interview with Ashley Eckstein, the ladies talk creative empowerment, nerd stereotypes and purchasing power...





Please support Eckstein's company by visiting her website www.heruniverse.com to check out plenty of amazing merchandise and to chime in on the messageboards.

6/20/11

Interview with Ashley Eckstein: Why "Her Universe" is More Than Star Wars Shirts

Audrey,Ashley Eckstein and Asoka Tano.
UPDATE: I checked in with Ashley again, six years later. This time for Hello Giggles. And now, back to your regularly scheduled ancient blog post. I also wrote this follow-up treatise on why we care so much about celebrities.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled, ancient blog post:

On June 12th, 2011, I stood in a long autograph line like I have many times before. I had just moved to Orlando. It was the last day of Star Wars Weekends at Disney's Hollywood Studios and I came prepared to meet Ashley Eckstein  in the merchandise tent, Jabba's Hut.

If you don't know her, Ashley is the voice of Asoka Tano in the animated Star Wars show "The Clone Wars". I interviewed her a couple weeks prior about her new company "Her Universe". I thought meeting her in person might make a great ending to the story.

I wasn't prepared to stand in an autograph line and be surrounded by fellow female fans. Almost every other autograph line I've ever experienced has been...I'm sorry to say this...mostly comprised of men. That's not an innately negative thing. I was just used to the feeling of being the odd man out, so to speak.

But under the fluorescent lights of the merchandise tent, everywhere I looked I was surrounded by ladies. Moms wearing Star Wars shirts, pre-teens giggling with lightsabers in hand and tons of adorable littles.

I had never been to any geek-centric event where I was primarily surrounded by fans of my own gender.

6/13/11

This Happened on My Second Day of Living in Florida



THEY CLOSED THE ADVENTURER'S CLUB.

The very next night, I went grocery shopping, fearing that if I didn't stock up on essentials I would happily bankrupt myself on tourist food. (Cuban food! Irish food! A GHIRARDELLI'S CHOCOLATE SHOP!)

Standing in line at my nearest grocery store, I found myself behind an Imperial Guard and two helmet-less Stormtroopers who were also checking out at Publix. You win some, you lose some.


Oh yeah and P.S. I got my first call to do some video/hosting work for Orlando Attractions Magazine on Friday. To see a special sneak preview of Star Trek: The Exhibition at the Kennedy Space Center. A place I have dreamed about visiting ever since I saw Space Camp in fifth grade.


But enough of all this catching up nonsense. Let's talk about Star Wars Weekends. At the gates, crowds were greeted by stormtroopers scanning for Jedi and Star Wars music blasting over the loudspeakers. Again...a tear or two (of sheer joy, I assure you) were shed.


In case you missed it and you were wondering, "Why on Earth would she post a photo of herself making a face that gives her Sharpay forehead?" Look again, above my head and a little to the right. Stormtrooper!

There were dozens patrolling the parks all day. In fact, EVERYONE was in the parks. Vader, Luke and Leia, even the Mos Eisley Cantina Band was out and about.


See? More Jedi than you can shake a stick at. I wouldn't do that if I were you though.





But none of that is even the best part. The best part is the brand new Star Tours ride. Star Tours has been around for years and years. I first visited with my mom, aunt, and cousins around the time that the original ride opened.

There's been so much buzz about the new version of the ride that I tried to ignore completely because I wanted to be surprised...and boy was I surprised. And I want you to be surprised too! So I'm not sharing details. But I will give you some pictures from the ride line and some great shots of Star Wars merchandise from the event tent aptly named "Jabba's Hut".


That would be a Donalf Duck version of Han in Carbonite and if you look very very closely you will see my very favorite henchmen sitting near him on the top right. I heart Salacious Crumb.


No explanation neccesary for these right?


And now for the ride photos..well, line photos. But still. If you don't know, Star Tours follows the story that you're boarding a tourist shuttle in the Star Wars universe. Much like an airport, the line takes you through security and you can also see when flights are arriving and departing. You can even watch C3PO and R2 running pre-flight checks.

(I'll share videos below. Sorry for the jumpy quality, it was shot on my iPhone and I don't have a very steady hand with it yet. I'm used to shooting with a regular camera.)


The outdoor portion of the line is built to look like Endor. No Ewoks though. Bummer.




Here's the video of R2 and C3PO. 



The line has a million little details and flourishes that fans of all ages can appreciate. The level of theming at work here is stupendous. It feels like Star Wars fans get the most love back from their creators out of anyone. All this! This little slice of "Let's all play pretend that Star Wars is real life together for a few weekends." Just for us? Amazing. 

We should all be more thankful to Papa Lucas. (Did that just get weird? Too far?) Anyway, there are also lots of references to the original ride that I appreciated. Including a pilot droid you may recognize, with some occasional flourishes of Paul Reubens voice-over still in play.

Anyway, there was a fun little silhouette section of hallway in the line that I wanted you to see. Of course, when I pointed the camera at it, the fun ones stopped coming by. But still, I want you to get the idea. Here's some video. When you  visit, try to spot recognizable characters and Star Wars species as they pass. If you get motion sickness, you may want to skip this one.



Well, I gave myself an hour of my morning to write a quick blog before it was back to work for me. I'm sitting under a pile of work. All fun work, of course. But work that must be done nonetheless. Being the realist that I am, instead of giving myself the week off to move, I tried to continue working. Bad idea So now it's catch-up time.  Lots of editing and VO and writing.

So here is where I leave you, with the promise of another very cool post coming this week...from Geek Heaven, Wish You Were Here!!! Enjoy the view from my new office.