Top 5 Political Movies

Films dealing with politicians and government in one form oranother.  No films dealing with legalproceedings or cases that are inherently political (In the Name of the Father is out). No films dealing with espionage (sorry The Quiet American, Three Days of the Condor and Marathon Man).  No warmovies (even though they are inherently political).  Films such as Team America: World Police are out. I’m torn on films about political violence/uprisings.  Films such as The Wind That Shakes the Barley, Bloody Sunday, Battle of Algiers… so I’m going to include them.

The list is dominated by Robert Redford.
Top 5:
Next 5:
  • All the President’s Men
  • Bloody Sunday
  • Milk
  • The Candidate
  • Manchurian Candidate (Original) 
Honorable Mentions:
  • Good Night, and Good Luck
  • Hunger
  • Wag the Dog
  • Frost/Nixon
  • Outside the Law
  • JFK
  • Parallax View


Top 5 Losing Their Mind Films

To be eligible the lead had to be losing their mind, not aco-star (Full Metal Jacket is knockedout of the running).  That lead has tostart the movie somewhat sane and then unravel as the story progresses (The Machinist is out).  Also, if alcohol or drugs are involved thefilm is ineligible (Scarface).

Next 10:
  • Mulholland Drive
  • Aviator, The
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo Nest
  • The Shining
  • Requiem for a Dream
  •  8 1/2
  • Vertigo
  • Adaptation
  • Barton Fink
  • Player, The
Honorable Mentions:
  • Black Swan
  • Scarface
  • Schenectady, NY
  • Jacob’s Ladder
  • Solaris
  • Beach, The
  • Donnie Darko
  • Moon

Back to NY… Hopefully for a While

After heading to Vegas, Ann Arbor, NY Comic-con and then Pittsburgh I am finally back in NY.  Hopefully for an extended period of time.  The last month has been tough because I was also dealing with a cough/sore throat that wouldn’t go away.  It was hard to get much done, although I tried.  I have a lot of projects on my plate, which is a good thing… so losing my weekends is a real killer.  I’m looking forward to get back to business.  And to start training as hard as I can.  I bought a month’s worth of Bikram Yoga on Groupon for $25 and I plan on starting November 1.  It was my goal to be able to do a full split by the new year – but I’m not sure I’ll hit that mark.  I did lose 5-6 months of serious training/stretching because of 4.2.3. and then White Space.

Time to get serious.

Is Your Phone the New DSLR?

With a few big filmmakers experimenting with work on their phones… the thought of shooting a feature on a cellphone doesn’t sound that preposterous.  But more as an exercise in doing it than creating a work of art, right?

That may not be the case anymore.  I just saw a video shot on the new iphone 4S and was blown away.  It’s not up to the level of the Canon 5D just yet… and without the ability to add high quality lenses… but wow.  The video, shot by Benjamin Dowie, looks pretty damn good.  

A video shot on the iPhone 4S from Benjamin Dowie on Vimeo.

One could easily shoot a no-frills feature on the phone.  Go for natural lighting when possible, get a small sound package… man, this is exciting.

I wish the iPhone had the ability to flip open with a qwerty keypad.  I just can’t type on the thing.

Vdio – a viable competitor for Netflix?

I am usually pretty plugged in to things like this, but a new service just started to crop up – Vdio.  It is being hailed as a possible rival (threat) to Netflix.  

The team behind Vdio is pretty amazing: the founders of Skype, Napster, NBC, TV Guide, Skype’s design team, someone from Netflix’s content acquisition’s team… and probably the most interesting (and in the long run, besides content, most important part of the equation – a systems engineer who worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and is experienced in “data management and modeling, data analytics, and statistical analyses of large data sets, including data mining, visualization, and interpretation.”  Which means their algorithm for curating your viewing could potentially blow Netflix’ away.  

No other details are really known about it – when it will come out, what format it’ll take, etc… But consider my interest heavily piqued.

Movies That Are Better Than The Book

Publisher’s Weekly had an interesting article on Drive the other day, talking about how it was one of the few films that outshines its prose counterpart.  For the most part, the book is typically better than the movie.  There is just so much more ground that a book can cover.  So many more layers.  Plunge deeper into the depths of characters.

But for every Atlas Shrugged and Bonfire of the Vanities there is a Jaws.  Or The Godfather.  I have yet to read Drive, but from the article there’s a good chance I would agree with them.  In fact, his opinions on A History of Violence jive with my own.  A rather incomplete graphic novel that is far superior onscreen.  
Although a good book by a great author, I believe Fight Club the film triumphs (it’s also shares my favorite film of all time honors with Rad).
Better than the Book
  • Fight Club
  • Jaws
  • The Godfather
  • Conan the Barbarian
  • Blade Runner
  • There Will Be Blood (based on Oil! by Pulitzer Prize winner Upton Sinclair)
  • The Princess Bride
  • The Shining
  • The Warriors
  • The Prestige
  • Marathon Man
  • Lord of the Rings (full trilogy)
  • The Scarlet Letter
  • The Count of Monte Cristo
  • The Time Machine   (noting a trend of ‘classic’ period films)
  • Alice in Wonderland (2010)
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
  • Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  • Eragon
  • Captain America (1990)
  • Batman and Robin (1997)
  • Fantastic Four (1994 and 2002)
  • X-Men 3
  • I Am Legend (2007)
What do you guys think?

New York Comic-con – Aftermath

After Thursday’s dismal ghost town… the convention picked up on Friday, took off on Saturday and ended with a happy whimper on Sunday.

I try to be as honest as possible, so I will tell you exactly how it went down in terms of sales:

Thursday: nothing
Friday: 2 art prints, 13 books
Saturday: 2 art prints, 2 t-shirts, 32 books
Sunday: 1 art print, 1 t-shirt, 5 books

The booth in artist alley cost $300.  The extra exhibitor badge cost $55.  And other costs added up to about $150.  So I broke even and then just a little more.

But that doesn’t account for the costs of the books.  Which, because of the over-sized printing and quality of paper (along with full color)… cost just under $10/each.  So selling them for $10/each at the convention – I definitely lost.  However, 50 books out there means 50 people are reading it.  Those can be future fans, or messengers of the book.  And I made some contacts in the industry.  Would I go back next year?  Yes, definitely.  I will have at least one more book out by then.  Hopefully two – but probably only one.  And I have a much better grasp on what to bring in terms of art prints (and quality of those prints).

Thanks for everyone who stopped by.  It was a lot of fun no matter what the numbers were…

New York Comic-con

First day of NY Comic-con and I’m asking myself the same question I did in San Diego – why did I do this?

To be fair, Thursday is preview night – so it is exhibitors, professionals and press – and I guess some people who bought 4 day passes.  But my god, it better get a little more lively.

The cost of these conventions far outweighs possible profits.  Unless of course you have a name and a ton of books in the marketplace.  Or you’re doing manga/super hero stuff.  If you’re off the beaten path a bit – people look at you like street urchins.  And these are street urchins looking at you like this.

Buck up little camper – tomorrow is 9 hours instead of 3….

35 Movie Minute Podcast

Over the last year and a half I’ve been working with Rob Scarpelli on getting a podcast off the ground.  We ran into some technical difficulties last year around this time and things came to a halt. In all honesty, I think the idea for the podcast I laid out was a bit daunting.

35 Movie Minutes covers the last week of Hollywood news over the course of 35 minutes.  Do you see the clever play on 35 millimeter?  So sweet.
I wanted to format it more like PTI, where we have a running clock and cover items in minute or timed segments.  But with me doing the producing and Rob and I hosting, it just seemed insurmountable.  So, after producing White Space and getting back on track with my books, I wanted to dive back in.  We stripped it down and made it a lot more conversational.  Now, we discuss the last week of news, box office, upcoming films, etc… but in a freer format.  
I’m happy to say we are four weeks in and just wrapped our third podcast, as well as special podcasts on the Toronto Film Festival as well as our discussion of the films Drive and Killer Elite.
We are definitely still getting our sea legs, me especially since this is my first time behind the mic.  However, our improvement from week one to two was tremendous and we will just get better, make the show tighter and stop leaning on certain crutches (the ums, yeahs, okays).
The website is live, although still being coded right now (by Karol Wisniewski).  It looks sweet and will be ready to go shortly.  We are available on iTunes:

To subscribe go to the iTunes store, search ’35 Movie Minutes Podcast’ – click ‘Subscribe Free’.  It’s as easy as that.

You can follow us at:

We’ll post all of the podcasts, reviews and other updates there.  

Breaking Bad: Season 4

In what started off as their weakest season (for the large majority) may have ended with the best 3 episodes of the entire run of the show.  Walter finally stopped being a pussy and Jesse, the real star of the show now, was just brilliant.  I mean, Walter really hit a new low – which for me was a real high.

You questioned how it was going to sort out with Gus and company, knowing that Jesse and Walter would probably survive – and the way they pulled through was pretty awesome.  I would have been a bit more satisfied with Skylar catching a bullet… but am nonetheless excited to see where they take these characters now.
Thanks Vince Gilligan for delivering an amazing show.  Quite possibly the best on TV right now.