Movie Review: Catfish

I think Guy Rule #1 is ‘No Tramp Stamps’.  Right up there with ‘No Emoticons to other guys’ (I’m giving sending them to the other sex a pass although it is also frowned upon).

Although the lead character in this ‘documentary’ has a tramp stamp – which makes me question his orientation and thus throwing the entire film into even more doubt – this is definitely an interesting entry for first timers Rael  and Henry Joost.  I think it will be hurt in the marketplace because this has been the year of the ‘fake documentary’ – with ‘Exit Through the Gift Shop’ and ‘I’m Still Here’.  And that’s a shame, because it is worth seeing.  Tramp stamp and all.
I know a lot has been made of the ‘is this real or is it made up’… and I don’t think it necessarily matters.  For me, I don’t believe a single scene of it was reality.  Some viewers even think it is a mix of reality and fiction – that one side of it is reality (the family in Michigan) and the other realized early on in the correspondence that they had something and started to fashion a film around it.  If so – god bless em’ – they did an awesome job.  No matter what is true – Catfish is a very entertaining, engrossing and haunting movie.
I actually thought it was going to turn to a much darker place towards the end – maybe I just misjudged the trailer – but was still riveted to the proceedings and how they would play out.  If it is real – wow, some really creepy stuff… and my heart also goes out to anyone that is that damaged or lonely.  If it is fake – wow, some great acting by those involved.  ‘Angela’ is certainly a powerhouse and when you first meet her you are definitely on the edge of your seat.
Do you need to run out to the theaters to see this?  Probably not – the visuals and sounds aren’t enhanced by a theater.  But it is definitely worth seeing at some point.
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Movie Review: The Town

Some highs and a bunch of lows mark Ben Affleck’s second directorial effort, The Town.

The highs – Ben Affleck’s performance.  Blake Lively’s chest.  Jeremy Renner’s performance.  The setting.

The lows – non-sensical plot.  Jon Hamm’s performance.  Blake Lively’s acting ability.  The last 30 minutes.

What starts off as a strong thriller with a really authentic Boston feel quickly devolves into a very neat and tidy, completely predictable package.  I will say that the movie is worth the performances by Affleck, Renner and Rebecca Hall alone.  However, I hear a lot about Hall’s performance here – but it is Affleck who really shines.  He makes due with very little, as does Renner.  His character has a bit too much shit heaped on him.  Father a career criminal.  No mother.  Star hockey player drafted by the NHL, blown opportunity.  Drug abuse.  It would have been fine if he were a local star who could have gone to college to play… but they make it seem like he was the next Gretzky.  In reality, I realize the hockey draft is akin to the MLB draft where players rarely make the roster, but I doubt most viewers do as well.

Let me state here that I think Jon Hamm does a great job on Mad Men.  However, I’m quickly realizing that he is pretty much only suited to play that role.  He is a TV actor, not a film star.  And every role he has been in on the big screen has been less than impressive.  And this is no exception.  In fact, it is glaring – against Affleck, Renner and Hall.  His scenes almost became laughable.  In fact, by the end, I was laughing – as were a few people in my theater.  He doesn’t even do anything – he just shouts orders and other people do things.  It’s really lazy screenwriting and he inhabits his character with all the authority of an elementary school principal.

Affleck does a great job placing the camera, and he really draws us into Charlestown – the tiny Irish ‘ghetto’ of Boston.  He could have really used a screenwriter to revamp this script though.  I don’t want to give anything away – but the last 30/40 minutes will have you groaning audibly.  There’s no cat and mouse between Affleck’s crew and the feds – because of another lazy bit of writing that ties one of his members to the crime.  Then the fed’s are tipped off to the ‘last score’ by an even bigger headscratcher – because its just so stupid.  All compounded by Fergus the Florist – the elderly crime boss of Charlestown – who commands Affleck to pull this job or else.

Really?

I would really like to spend more time with these characters… just not in this movie.

Movie Review: The Runaways

Besides Dakota Fanning becoming a woman right before our eyes, The Runaways doesn’t have much going for it.

It’s actually hurting my brain to try and write about it, which is why I’ve put it off for a week.  Analyzing it seems like a fruitless endeavor.  Michael Shannon gives an okay performance and so does Kristen Stewart, but they pale in comparison to Fanning.  I went into this thinking it was more about Joan Jett, but this is much more a character study of Fanning’s Cherie Curry.  I don’t blame any of them… I don’t even blame the lackluster direction – it all starts with the script.  A script with zero insight into the first all-girl rock group.  A script with one dimensional characters (who we know are much more vivid than that in real life).  A script with no ambition.  A script with even less driving it.

Girls are practicing, they don’t sound great.  Kim Fowley (Shannon) has local kids throw bottles at them.  Very next scene – they are playing a party and get stuff thrown at them.  They are expertly dodging and blocking it all with their instruments.  Still sound like shit.

It’s bad.  And it’s a shame.

Harbor Moon – The Book Trailer

In doing all my press and follow-ups and interviews and sending the book out and updating Facebook/Twitter/Website and making deals for digital publication… I lost sight of something that should have been done before Comic-con – A trailer for the book.

Book trailers are becoming more and more popular, and as a result more and more common.  So it has now become one of the many things on my list of to do’s.  I can probably cut it myself, but would rather a new set of eyes on it.  Anyone with any leads on editors looking to cut something like this – let me know.  And stay tuned for the trailer.

Good TV

I have to start by saying I’m not a television person.  Or at least I don’t believe I am.  I watch PTI every day, but other than that the shows I catch regularly are few and far between.

Friday Night Lights.  The Ultimate Fighter.  Jersey Shore (only because of The Situation – every line out of his mouth is a classic).  DexterWeedsModern FamilyCommunityEastbound & Down.

Okay, so as you can see my list is long, and getting longer.  I recently got into the new FX show Terriers.  It’s defnitely setting itself up for future storylines and I love the chemistry between the leads.  I also appreciate how real they are.  They are two deadbeat PI’s – they don’t always take the high-road.  I also really liked the premiere of Boardwalk Empire and am excited to see where that goes.

I have also been told Justified is a great show, as well as Breaking Bad.  Most of the time I will wait for the show to hit dvd (at least a few seasons) and then just knock them out.  I hate being restricted by time slots and gaps between seasons.  I did this with The Wire, Dexter, Weeds, Veronica Mars, the first season of 24 and most recently Party Down – which was another show I was immediately hooked on.  I’ve got Breaking Bad in my Netflix cue…

I think the line between film and tv is blurring every year and I guess I’m finding it harder and harder to say I’m not a tv person.

Movie Review: 44-Inch Chest

I was watching this as I edited down the script for Chasing Rabbits.  Good thing I was busy, because otherwise I would have stopped this 30 minutes in. 

An amazing cast, who are all great – it is just that the script is so bad it was hard to sit through.  The writers are obviously in love with their own dialogue and nothing actually happens in this film.

Chasing Rabbits Cover by Pawel

Okay, so this is only a sketch, but I wanted to post it so everyone can see the first image of what will be the cover for the book.

It is being done by Pawel Sambor, the amazingly talented artist from Harbor Moon.  Don’t trust me, there are plenty of reviews out there that back that statement up.

And Chase has started Character Designs on the book just last night.  There are over 50 characters in this one.  Good thing he’s as excited as I am, which is an amazing feeling.

35 Movie Minutes Title Design

Anna Mancheva has once again come through and designed an awesome looking title for another project, my weekly podcast 35 Movie Minutes.  In fact, she did such a good job I couldn’t decide and we finished two versions.

Rob is working out some kinks on the tech side, but we should be doing a dry run within the next week or two.  Then it is full steam ahead.  Anna is also going to be designing the 35 Movie Minute website shortly, and I can’t wait for that to be up and running.  She’ll also be designing the Spoke Lane (my main company site) and R.E.M. sites at the same time.

For more on Anna and her designs visit her website Mancheva Designs.  She’s extremely talented and she somehow puts up with me.

Chasing Rabbits Finds an Artist

I’m beyond pumped to announce that Chase Osborne is coming onboard my graphic novel Chasing Rabbits.  Easily the biggest book I’ve tackled, I also think it represents the best script I’ve ever written.

Whereas Harbor Moon came in at 144 pages, Chasing Rabbits will be closer to 225 pages.  Right now the plan is to have Chase draw and ink the book with Pawel coloring. Chase’s coloring is pretty absurd too and things could change… stay tuned.

Chase is an awesome artist and the second I saw his stuff (back when I was looking for REM) I immediately thought he’d be a good fit for Chasing Rabbits.  The problem was that I didn’t have the financing for the book then.  So I had to go into sit and wait mode.

This book has a chance to really blow people away if it comes out half as good as I think it can.  This  kid is insanely talented.

Harbor Moon on Amazon

I was searching twitter for mentions of Harbor Moon and found some guy posting a link to the Harbor Moon Amazon.com page.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=citydoglax&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1897548958&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr
This was news to me.  I have no idea who actually posted the page, maybe Amazon?  The page had only me and Pawel listed as authors, with a release date of February 15, 2011.  With no synopsis, no pictures, etc…  I spent yesterday updating the page with all the relevant information.  Along with blurbs from our current reviews.

It is pretty awesome that we’re on Amazon though.  It actually allows me to do a bunch more stuff – like becoming an author, not just a reader, on GoodReads (thanks Dazey).

February is tough to swallow, as the book is already available – but it’s roll with the punches time.  And I was not built to break.