Thursday, July 21, 2011

Blog Experimentation

I've been posting on Blogger for a couple years now. And while I will continue my Do Them Justice Reviews video series I'm looking to try a few other things. Namely the competing free blogging sites.

I just created a tumblr blog with a more narrow focus. Namely it's about recording my experience with film production in acting, writing, directing, etc. The blog is called: The Production Student. Check it out.

I'm also going to give Wordpress a swing. You might remember waaaaayyyy back in the beginning of Do Them Justice that I covered a wordpress blog that re-wrote the story of Hitman: Blood Money, one of my all time fave game series. I'm thinking of trying something similar...with the Mass Effect games! I'm replaying the series from the start with a new female character (or femshep) and exploring my more devious side. Not exactly an evil Shepard, just a more nilly-willy. I'll post again when that site is up.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

New Short Films

Lately I've been acting in or at least assisting with a series of short films with members of the Media Entertainment Guild at my school. Over the summer I'll be posting them here, but of course you can see all of them on the channel, Walking Eye TV.

This one's about a store stalker. Get it?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Charlyne Yi Show (review)

Last weekend Ellen (my girlfriend) and I saw Charlyne Yi of Paper Heart fame at the Upright Citizen's Brigade theater. And what a show that was! This was my first time there and the first thing I noticed was how hipster the crowd was-which I know is a big turn off for some-but the audience was so receptive to the show I wouldn't have it any other way. The show itself was made up of several performances by various "artists" in addition to Yi who also hosted. Here's a break down of who was there and a rating out of five stars for each.

Charlyne Yi 4/5 stars
You either love her or hate her. I love her determinable awkwardness and good natured conversation. Which is why it was such a surprise that she greeted the audience with a tangent of swears and teasing. "What? Does my mic excite you, because I looks like a c***? Dumbass, it looks nothing like a c***." But I'm paraphrasing. She also did some musical skits with a repetitive rock version of Ava Maria, two cute guitar duets with friends (Casey Trela and Ann Maddox. Songs included "Angels Voices Sound Like: Ah ha haha"), and a goodbye song. All in all, about what I expected and a little more.

Nathan Fielder 3/5 stars
A comedian with a disposition similar to Michael Cera and Dimitri Martin's brand of humor. The jokes were innocent and silly, the kind you might use to pick a girl up only to land in the friend zone, if you know what I mean. Not bad, but his highlight was Yi commenting on the brevity of his performance and arguing behind the curtain with the mic still on. She eventually asked him to undress to make her feel better before stepping back onto the stage briefly revealing his naked rear backstage. Wow, didn't think they would go that far with the gag! Here's him investigating...Pizza?

Tina Lenert 5/5
This aging beauty gave us an out of nowhere tour de force magic show. All of the sudden there was this petite woman on stage pulling scarfs through her neck then making them fold themselves. What a performance! I love magicians myself. I don't want to know how they do what they do; their craft hearkens back to a time where anything seems possible and my inner child appreciates it.

Ron Lynch 2/5
Ellen had seen this guy before and assured me he was a riotous comedian. No, no he wasn't. His shtick for the entirety of his time on stage was asking us our favorite celebrities...with a mouthful of water. He did a couple impersonations too, which gave the whole thing kind of a charades feel, but it got old fast. Strangely the audience disagreed. Must of been my request for his best Bogart.

Casey Trela 2/5 stars
This guy looked like Jesus crossed with a hipster. He only performed one song (with acustic guitar) before Yi joined so this rating is based on him alone. He wasn't bad and it felt appropriate to have him come last as a wind down for the show. His song (which he also wrote, but I can't remember the name of) was familiar and not for all tastes. I would consider it comparable to Jason Mraz, sappy and forgettable. The least impressive of the night.

Overall. I pretty sweet show. Recommendable to the adventurous and playful.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Jeff Goldblum's jazz band

I saw Goldblum perform with his group called "THE MILDRED SNITZER ORCHESTRA" last night. The group was named after a family friend whom you can see in a brief interview.

The orchestra played at Cafe Was, which is your typical L.A. snob restaurant/bar with drinks ranging $10-$14, i.e. too much. The crowd was also what you'd expect in L.A.

What I didn't expect was Goldblum inviting various singers and sax players to join them in a song or two. One man (who looked like a Tim Burton drawing) sang to his wife and kinda hippie woman kicked ass on the sax. The orchestra was all around pretty into their music, laughing and shouting at each other. In between each song Goldblum played six degrees of Kevin Bacon except he never ended the game! He would ask for a name and connect it then just keep going and going. He is definitely a funny man and very laid back. He'd often play with one hand and shield his eyes from the stage lights to look into the crowd and wave. Aside from those eating everyone was pretty thrilled just to be there.

Oh, did I mention this was all free? :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

An evening with Werner Herzog

If you did not already know, the Hollywood Forever cemetery screens classic films from time to time...with a projector against a crypt wall! It's kinda insensitive but you tell yourself you're honoring the dead who surround you.

And Saturday night my girlfriend and I saw John Huston's "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" with Herzog hosting the event and taking questions afterwards. I've already seen the movie a few times before and I'll give you my thoughts on it later.

Herzog was the really star attraction here. I've only seen one of his movies, "Grizzly Man" which I found captivating. Herzog himself was quite pleasant. My girlfriend had taken his Rogue class with him a year ago which only accepts 50 students at a time out of thousands of applicants. After hearing him speak I think I may try to get in too.

Herzog praised Huston (who was buried near by) for his non-conformity and related a story of Huston traveling to Mexico (where the movie is set, just fyi) to his first time in the states. Herzog's visa was revoked for some vague reason which lead him to flee to Mexico, learn Spanish, and live there for a year or so. He also talked about how he and Huston preferred to get very little coverage when shooting and rarely use storyboards. As Herzog put it, "Storyboards are for people without strong imaginations" but I'm paraphrasing here. The bit about getting little coverage was Herzog's belief that a performance is hindered by repetition and that you are best off getting it right once and moving on (which also keeps you ahead of schedule).

Then the Q&A began and...oh boy. I am not a particularly brave person and never jump at the chance to say hi to a celebrity (especially given I live just north of L.A.) and this experience reinforced that fear. Not because Herzog was dismissive of the fans that flooded him with awkward questions, but because of HOW awkward they were AND the crowd's verbal reactions.

One woman wanted Herzog to come down and hug her nine-year-old son for good luck. Another asked if he'd seen Danny Boyle's "Shallow Grave" (which has a similar theme to Sierra Madre) and then proceeded to describe the film to him. Ugh. But the worst was the last...a schlub of a guy wanted to know if Herzog agreed with him on the "synchronicity" of the film...

Sorry, the what? The crowd's reaction was a loud groan with a few boo's for good measure. He went on to describe it as the film's quality "a-syncronation". Sweet god, it was difficult to watch. Someone from the crowd agreed and shouting "Get off the stage!" But the long and short of what the guy was asking was if Herzog thought the film was so perfect, it flawlessly communicated everything it was meant to. Well...yes. That's why we were there and celebrating it. More importantly, Herzog defended the schlub arguing with the irate audience that even though his name for his emotional connection with the film was different it was still just.

All in all it was a great night and has left me dying to see more of Herzog's films. He also had a story about working with Klaus Kinsky and how he shot another actor's finger off with a hunting rifle...yeah. For more on that it was recommended that I see the documentary "My Best Fiend" about the actor and director's relationship. I'm also dead set to watch Herzog's "Bad Lieutenant" which is available for streaming on netflix. BTW, Herzog said he loved working with Cage on it. I'll put the trailer for it below if you haven't already heard of it.

As for "Treasure of Sierra Madre" if you haven't seen it yet, you should! It's one of the best movies ever made (yes, up there with Casablanca). It's exciting, funny, and very tragic. If for no other reason see it for Walter Huston's (John's father whom he directed here in his Oscar winning role) performance as the original prospector.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Hayley Mills interview

As promised, here's the lone one interview from the 2nd TCM festival I recorded. Hayley Mills is best known for the original Parent Trap and a few other Disney flicks, but I was lucky to see her at a screening of the understated Whistle Down the Wind which I highly recommend.

NOTE: the video is in two parts and look for the crazy fan who burst out crying at during the Q&A at the end!

Fincher's Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (trailer)

You might remember I saw all of the original Millenium films (that's the name of the trilogy) in theaters:

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Daring, horrifying, and absorbing.

The Girl who Played with Fire: Uneven, but fun and a hell of a great finale.

The Girl who Kicked the Hornets Next: Convoluted, but engaging when you could follow it.

Being adaptations of the novels by Stieg Larson, you can't really wag your finger "shame, shame" at Fincher and Columbia Pictures for adapting it themselves. And we, as a nation, are the entertainment capital of the world. So this was all inevitable.

However, I am just not a very big fan of Fincher. I love Fight Club...and that's about it. Benjamin Button wasn't bad and the Social Network was pretty sweet. But I loved the original Dragon Tattoo and don't really see how it can be improved. I'm not a fan of recreating the effective for no greater purpose (like the impending remake of Straw Dogs).

What can Fincher truly give us? I honestly can't look forward to his return to the hard "R" rating after his last two films. I loathed Alien 3 and especially Se7en. I'll see the movie when it comes out this December and I would prefer to be surprised.