Sayonara New York… for a few days

I will be heading off to Las Vegas at the butt crack of dawn tomorrow and will be returning around midnight on Monday.  My good friends Rich and Tami are getting married and it should be a real humdinger.  It’s sort of a reunion between all of my Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New Jersey and New York friends.  With a few from all over – Vancouver, Philly, Florida – but Rev Theory is nationwide and growing… so it should be insane.

I’m not bringing my laptop as I don’t trust it in Las Vegas.  And besides the blanky I have slept with since I was born, it is my most valuable possession.  I guess you can say that my backup drive is up there too.  But I can’t really afford a new computer right now, so eat it.
Before I go – weights, cardio then jiu-jitsu.  See you on the dark side.
Advertisements

Netflix Dilemma

Let me begin by saying that I have been a loyal Netflix customer since 2002.  It has gotten me through some really terrible times.  My ruptured kidney, torn achilles… and a broken heart or two.  I have come to rely on these little red envelopes and the ability to catch more movies than I ever thought possible.  

And, it was really convenient.  It became even more so when they announced their streaming service.  I had thought streaming to a tv was something that was 3-5 years off at the time – but devices such as Roku helped lead the way to the tv set itself.  And, it was easy.  
With all of the PR bungles Netflix has made in the last 3 months, it is certainly taken the tarnish off a company I once loved.  It’s not the ignorance they showed with the price hike, or the lame apology sent by Reed Hastings that has put me off.  $16 bucks for unlimited streaming and mail order dvd’s is still the best deal on the market (trust me, I checked).  Hulu Plus has a small feature film library, and they don’t offer many tv shows that I’m interested in.  Blockbuster is $10/month, only available through the Dish Network – and they have 30% less titles than Netflix.  Amazon Prime is becoming a viable alternative, but you still have to pay for rentals and the like – and costs would be like the old days of Blockbuster.  No, it is not the price hike that has pissed me off.
It is two-fold.  The first is the spinning off of the mail order and streaming services.  Two separate bills, two separate credit card charges each month.  I have a queue that is cultivated over 9 years now.  Apparently that will be lost.  Vanished.  For a complete film loser like myself that is devastating.  And while the charges are currently the same, spinning them off into separate charges makes it easier for Netflix to slowly creep those up over time.  You wouldn’t be viewing them as an aggregate charge, but separate ones.  So it wouldn’t be so blatant.  I knew deep down this was coming, it was natural.  But none of it sits well.  And how they’re handling it sucks.
The second reason is the lack of independent titles they have been securing the rights to.  As I just said, Netflix still has the best selection.  But I don’t see that lasting for long.  They have slowly been acquiring studio and major network titles, and disregarding the independent titles.  Part of the reason is the way they view the value of a title.  For the mail order DVD’s, if you add a title to your queue it is part of the computation.  But for streaming, it isn’t.  And since Netflix is trying to push everyone to streaming, where do you think this is heading?  If they are only counting titles that are streamed, not that are added – then it will be a depot for successful or studio titles.  It will no longer be the place to go for undiscovered or festival gems.  
And this depresses me.  I just hope an alternative springs up in its place.  The door is wide open for such a company.  It may even be a smart move to start an ‘independent streaming service’ – where you focus on independent titles, and cultivating an independent community – and even acting as a purveyor of all things indie.  IFC has a great opportunity, but they focus on their own titles.  We need an aggregator.  If only I had a few million to start licensing titles…

Top 5 Steven Soderberg Scenes

His career may still be in full-swing, with a handful of movies coming out and/or in production (including Haywire with Gina Carano – awesome)… but it did not stop the FilmSpotting guys, or myself, from compiling this list.

  • Having a drink into sex scene between George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez in Out of Sight
  • Christiansen getting the back banged out of her for some black tar heroin when Michael Douglas shows up at the door in Traffic
  • Julia Roberts convincing the desk clerk to let her go through the files in Erin Brokovich
  • When Terrence Stamp goes back into the building after he’s been thrown out in The Limey
  • A bit of a cheat – the putting the team together sequence in Ocean’s Eleven

Top 5 Assassin Movies

The word assassin is defined as:

“one who kills for fanatical or monetary reasons.”

So, obviously, qualifying movies need to deal with someonewho kills for fanatical or monetary reasons. One of the leads must be an assassin, or the story needs to revolvearound an assassin or assassins (or the threat of one).  It can’t just be a group of criminals whohappen to kill people (Snatch). Andit can’t be someone hell bent on revenge (Conanthe Barbarian).
Top 5
Next 5
Unforgiven (hardto not put this in the top 5, as it could be #1 depending on the day of the week)
Pulp Fiction
Kill Bill Volume 1
Interview with an Assassin
Boondock Saints
Honorable Mentions
Assassination of JesseJames (only because we are waiting the whole movie for it)
Bourne Identity
Collateral
Confessions of aDangerous Mind
Crimes andMisdemeanors
Desperado
El Mariachi
Ghost Dog: Way of theSamurai
Ghost in the Shell
Grosse Point Blank
Hero
Hitman
Ichi the Killer
In the Line of Fire
Kill Bill Vol. 1
Manchurian Candidate(2004)
Marathon Man
Mr. and Mrs. Smith(2007)
Munich
No Country For Old Men
Road to Perdition
Shogun Assassin
Terminator
The Good, The Bad& The Weird
The Hit
The Killer
The Professional
Things to Do in DenverWhen You’re Dead
Underworld
Wanted

Accupuncture

I’ve still been dealing with my left elbow tendonitis, going on two years now. Two cortisone injections and a tremendous amount of downtime later – I’m pretty frustrated.

I went back to my general practitioner to get his opinion on the situation, because I’m ready to have surgery. He recommended I see a Physical Therapist who is also a doctor that specializes in this type of stuff. So I set an appointment for this Thursday.

A few weeks ago I found out there is a holistic healing college in my hometown (Syosset, NY). I live a few towns over now and train at the gym right down the street from this place. Apparently you can see students there for a pretty small dollar amount. One hour massages. And something I’ve been extremely interested in for a long time – accupuncture. It’s somewhat amazing that after all the crazy stuff I’ve done to try and better my health (physical and mental) that I haven’t done this yet. So I booked an appointment for last night.

I was excited when I walked through the door. And this was actually a hospital/school. You go back into what is basically a white ER, swarming with students in white coats and what I guess were professors – I just assume because they were the older ones. I was taken back to a curtained off bed, sitting across from a 40 year old Indian woman who proceeded to ask me a plethora of questions about my urine, sleep habits, what was going on, etc… She wrote some notes down and we talked a bit – and I was getting more excited because I love this shit. I told her about my low energy, my ruptured kidney and how some other healers thought I had energy blockage there (which may have led to the rupture), my torn achilles and my left elbow tendonitis. She made me feel very comfortable and was so nice in a way that actually seemed genuine. I put on a gown and got on the table with my chest up. She came back with another student and they started to prep me for the needles.

When they put the needles in, I was told they always start with the ears. Well, my ears are like hard rocks cause of the cauliflower ear. She kind of freaked out about it, which was funny. I told her to jam that shit in as hard as she could. I was good to go. She passed and started on my chest. It was definitely weird and the first one took my breath away – but mostly because I have no meat on my sternum right below my over-sized chest. Then they got me in along my legs, waistline, edge of my feet and then on top of my head – which she told me was the main one for energy. When they were done they turned the lights off and let me rest for a few minutes. Maybe 15-30 minutes. I don’t know, I was pretty damn relaxed.

Then they came back and took out the pins. They were looking at each other, excited with the area around each pin. Apparently if it gets red, that’s energy or something releasing. So, it worked.

I usually have a massive clump of tissue/muscle somewhat over my left kidney that feels like someone screwed it into my body. No matter how much I heat it, how much I massage it, how much I do to get rid of it – it never goes away. Last night, on the drive home – I was somewhat blown away that I didn’t feel it. And then I was freaking myself out cause I was trying to make it come back to feel it – cause I didn’t know if it was gone or if I was just crazy. But all last night it wasn’t there. I swear. It came back a bit today, but still diminished. And something I realized halfway through today – my elbow didn’t hurt. I didn’t have any pain in my left elbow. I repeat – I didn’t have any pain in my left elbow.

I don’t really know what to write after that. I am sold on this shit. I will be back next week.

MacArthur Fellowship – Nominate Me!

Yesterday, the 22 MacArthur Fellows were announced.

It has been my dream since I was an undergrad (ten years ago) to become a MacArthur Fellow (sometimes referred to as the ‘Genius Grant’).  For those that aren’t aware of the program, each year the MacArthur Foundation names a handful of Fellows (23 in 2010).  These so-called geniuses range from politics to science to math to poetry to education to entertainment.

The MacArthur Fellowship is designed to provide seed money for intellectual, social, and artistic endeavors. From their own literature: “We believe that highly motivated, self-directed, and talented people are in the best position to decide how to allocate their time and resources. By adopting a “no strings attached” policy, we provide the maximum freedom for the recipients to follow their creative vision, whether it is moving forward with their current activities, expanding the scope of their work, or embarking in entirely new directions. There are no restrictions on how the money can be spent, and we impose no reporting obligations.”

It is, in my opinion, one of the most prestigious awards one can win.  Forget the money ($500,000 over 5 years – no questions asked)… although the money would be amazing… What the program means and stands for is, to me, astounding.  Astounding in that it even exists.  People are recognized for their creative or intellectual endeavors and are allowed the financial freedom to pursue those endeavors, to advance society, to better people’s lives, or to create harbingers of death.  With no strings.  Think about that for a second.  It’s how it should be.

But there are always strings, aren’t there?  That’s what is so mind-blowing about being a MacArthur Fellow. Besides the fact that you are hand picked because others believe that your contribution to your field will be tremendous. Not necessarily ‘has been’ tremendous. They want people in the thick of it, who are going to grow.

So how does one go about even getting on their radar? It’s a secret. Sort of. They have nominators, who are constantly revolving or changing.  But it is completely unknown who these nominators are. And the hope is that the nominees don’t even know they are nominated.

I’m someone that operates somewhat on the fringes. I don’t like drawing attention to myself (okay, yes, I have a mohawk – but it really completes my face). I don’t have any connections to this world of academics (even after my time at Cambridge), my family isn’t super rich or well-connected. My father, for all intents and purposes, is the most successful Colucci ever.  It amounts to a hill of nothing in the film and publishing world.

I don’t think I’m going to change the industry (film or publishing).  But I know I am going to come crashing through the door of both.  I have a unique mix of financial know-how, work ethic and creativity.  I haven’t taken the easy road to my successes.  My first film wasn’t some small indie.  It was an eight-figure CG-animated feature done in 3D with an A-list voice cast.  Done independently.  My second feature is a visual effects heavy sci-fi thriller – done for a fraction of that – which no one is going to believe.  My first book wasn’t a short comic done in black and white.  It was a 150 page, painted graphic novel in full color and over-sized.  My first project set up a studio wasn’t a spec script I found.  It was a NY Times Best-Selling Fantasy series that is ranked fourth all-time in fantasy sales (behind only Tolkien, JK Rowlings and CS Lewis), with over 15 books. 

None of that came easy.  Each and every one was a hard fought battle (some still going on).

In the off chance that some nominator googled the grant and is reading this – nominate me. You won’t regret it. I won’t let you down.

Top 5 Most Anticipated Fall Movies of 2011

Although most teachers would have you believe summer endsLabor Day Weekend, for the rest of humanity Fall Equinox occurs on September23, 2011.  That date happens to fall on aFriday this year.  My selections will becomprised of films coming out that day up through December 22,2011 – Winter Solstice.

Top 5:
Oldman, Hardy, Firth, Hurt.  Enough said. But why not add in Toby Jones, Mark Strong and Ciaran Hinds for my most anticipated film of the fall.
DeNiro back as a bad ass.  This is where he shines.  Statham vs. Clive Owen – that could be sick.
I have a slight obsession withserial killer (or hunt for serial killer) stories.  I’m a fan of Worthington and Geoffrey DeanMorgan, so I’m excited to see this – even if it is getting a limited release –straight to VOD basically.
Script by Aaron Sorkin. StarringBrad Pitt and Jonah Hill.  We know how itturns out, but sometimes it is just about getting there that matters.
David Cronenberg directing MichaelFassbender?  This may be #1, but I havegone out of my way to learn nothing more about this movie. I’m also a fan of Keira Knightley,Vincent Cassel and Viggo Mortensen.  Andit was adapted by Oscar winner Christopher Hampton. 
Honorable Mentions:
I want to see these as well.
The Thing
J. Edgar
Like Crazy
The Ides of March
The Rum Diary
In Time
Immortals
The Sitter
DVD:
These all sound interesting and/or I will definitely watch when they come out on video.
Cook County
50/50
Blackthorn
Melancholia
Hugo
The Muppets
The Descendants
Three Muskateers
Bottom 10:
I rather stick needles dipped in acid into my eyeballs than sit through any of these.  There is actually 11 on this list, but they all deserve to be on it.
Wanderlust
Real Steel
Paranormal Activity 3
Johnny English Reborn
Abduction
Footloose
Tower Heist
A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas
Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn
New Year’s Eve
W.E.

Movie Review: Mesrine – Parts I and II

Since I was watching these on Netflix Watch Instantly, I rolled right into a double feature of Mesrine: Part 1: Killer Instinct and Mesrine: Part 2: Public Enemy #1.  The films are based on an actual person and for some reason I enjoyed them a lot more because of this.

If you couldn’t tell, Part I was interesting enough for me to take on Part 2. If you read this blog, you know that I have an affinity for crime stories. I usually find myself rooting for the bad guy. And Mesrine is definitely the bad guy. Having just returned to Paris from the war in Algiers he dives into a life of crime, starting small and growing into Public Enemy #1 in France. His travels even take him to Montreal, where his crime spree continues.  He escapes from jail an astounding four times.  How that is even possible I don’t know, but it is fun to watch.

Both films are somewhat episodic – as any person’s life could be. He leaves country after country and woman after woman – even abandoning his children, who at one point seem to turn him into a working man.  But they are barely brought up again.  But his life is chaotic and stretches continents, so it is easy to believe that the characters in his life were constantly changing (this is why it was easier for me to accept and like the films).  While they are both sometimes meandering, Cassel is always engaging.  He portrays this somewhat charismatic, but sociopathic criminal teetering on the verge of violence at any second with ease.  Sometimes you watch a movie and think – oh, that’s George Clooney playing so and so.  Cassel inhabits this character.  He becomes Jacques Mesrine.  It is almost haunting.

Director Jean-Francois Richet is a skillful filmmaker and the film itself is beautiful, with the cinematography dropping us right into the 60’s and 70’s.

If you’re a fan of crime movies, or larger than life personalities, check it out.  It got me even more interested in checking out Carlos, which has been sitting in my queue for a while now.

Movie Review: The Mist

I will start by saying, I am not a Frank Darabont fan. Do I like Shawshank Redemption?  Yes. It’s pretty good.  It doesn’t make my heart flutter.  Something about Tim Robbins maybe. Everything he has done since just does nothing for me.  I loved the pilot episode for The Walking Dead. It was great. But it was like a cheesy B-movie without an ending. On tv, a great promise for what is to come.  And what was to come was shit.  Lots of it.  (Why didn’t they stay closer to the books on that one?)

I listen to the slashFilm podcast every week and those guys are big fans of The Mist. Especially David Chen. I don’t necessarily put much weight into that, but I did want to at least give it a chance because of this.
The movie hits pretty much every trope of a ‘we’re all stuck together’ story.  The tough guy who really isn’t that tough when shit hits the fan, the level headed female empowerment chick, the nerdy guy who really is useful after all, the old person with an attitude, the guy who is just too smart to believe any of this is real, the religious freak… and the hero.  Who is usually mild-mannered, but rises to action when needed.  This movie has it all.  And these tropes seem to be magnified here, particularly the religious freak. It also has some really good moments.  But it also has some really awful dialogue. And mediocre acting.  I do like Thomas Jane and Toby Jones, but they are the lone bright spots in the cast.  What I did like about it was how it kept surprising me.  I knew when shit started happening what the cause was, but it definitely kept you in the dark exactly what was in the mist, and why.  The reason is sort of lame, but they more or less just needed a reason and explained it away quickly.  What really got me was the ending.  I was impressed that they were willing to pull no punches and go balls out.  I’m not going to ruin it, but everyone that has seen the film will know what I’m talking about.  It’s not a big action scene.  In fact, you don’t even see the moment – you just hear it.  But it is pretty powerful stuff.  And I guess it made up for all the bad dialogue and acting up to that point.

Top 5 Inner City Movies

Since this is a long list there are some qualifying factors.  The neighborhood has to be a character (ie memorable).  The city has to be urban (so, Billy Elliot, El Mariachi and Fish Tank are out).  There are films that I’m on the fence about,such as The Last Dragon, Seven, LA Confidential and TheDeparted, which definitely have aspects that should get them on this list,but for LA Confidential the innerworkings aren’t unique to LA and besides some accents, it’s hard to argue that The Departed is a unique depiction ofBoston sub-culture.  The city in Seven wassuch a character, but more to set a mood than the actual city itself.  It could be Chicago (with the elevatedtrain), or New York (screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker credits this city as hisbiggest influence), or even Boston (there is a radio broadcast on at one point –with a DJ from Boston – John McClellan). However, the city itself was neveractually mentioned.  Further to thatpoint, I’m ruling out any cities that don’t actually exist, such as Dark City and Gotham in Batman (1988) and Batman Begins (2007).

Honorable Mentions:
25th Hour
A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints
Above the Law
Amores Perros
Bad Lt.
Big Trouble Little China
Bloody Sunday
Boyz N’ the Hood
Chop Shop
Clockers
Dark Days (documentary)
Dirty Pretty Things
Elite Squad
Far and Away
Gangs of New York
Ghost Dog – Way of the Samurai
Gone Baby Gone
Hard to Kill
In America
Juice
Kids
Laws of Gravity
Lean on Me
Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
Menace II Society
Metropolis
New Jack City
Out for Justice
Outside the Law
Pope of Greenwich Village
Pusher (entire trilogy)
Raging Bull
Raising Victor Vargas
Saturday Night Fever
Scarface (Original)
Serpico
Sleepers
Slumdog Millionaire
Taxi Driver
The Basketball Diaries
The Corruptor
The Fighter
The Informer (1935)
Trainspotting
Wanderers
Warriors
White Men Can’t Jump