Hello my dear non-readers!
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Hello my dear non-readers!
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
So it's been over a month now from when I received my first studio permissions rejection letters. Some were outright "No" and others asked for thousands upon thousands of dollars for seconds of footage I wanted to use and then still didn't guarantee clearance since technically the actors in the clips would also need to be contacted for permission to use their image. A simple "No" would have sufficed. And besides, all it takes is one "No" and the effect I had planned with the imagery no longer holds up. I was already defeated from the very first letter.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Sunday, March 14, 2010
I came upon this film haphazardly online and after watching the trailer was rightfully intrigued, especially considering the striking similarity and resemblances it bares to my own feature film, which I've been writing since 2005. Both incorporate such themes as past life remembrances and the warrior's spiritual journey, themes that seem to keep encroaching into media consciousness as we continue to evolve as people in our current turbulent time of transition. Be that as it may, I went into the viewing of Spiritual Warriors excited and eager to see what other fellow filmmakers had come up with in presenting and capturing that often elusive spiritual experience that has taken hold for so many at this time, including myself. However, to my great disappointment I found myself completely unable to connect with it, on almost every level.
Sunday, February 28, 2010
An enjoyable film, but my initial sense is that since this is based on a series of children's novels, I imagine the books must be better? However I've not read them. But even judging by the movie alone I would say that this story does not quite span the depth and epic feel of say, the Harry Potter series. Where Harry Potter (at least as the books) quickly spans out from the children's arena into more mature territory, Percy Jackson tends to stay within a nice safe children appropriate zone, even adding a little touching sub-story on how children can often feel alienated from their parents (Gods that they are). But even these attempts at profundity barely skim the surface of any real emotional drama and remain out-scoped by the adventure action-packed spectacle of it all, which I must say is quite impressive with everything from charging minotaurs to spitting 6 headed Hydras blowing fire into water (what an effect!). Though I don't know what they were thinking by casting Uma Thurman as Medusa...I don't know what was harder to buy, this famous actress as an ancient monstrous Gorgon or those ridiculous CG snakes in her hair. However, it is often quite clever how they adapted the Greek Myth into Modern Day mythos and it does come with everything you would come to expect from a film of its kind, pulling out all the stops. Of course the coolest thing this film tried to do was insert the idea that the myths of old were as real and true today as they were back then. That Gods and Goddesses are real and their children are living among us. But the film makes no real attempt at credibility or realism to establish this, flying off into highly unrealistic scenarios from the get-go that are the things such spectacle based movies are made of. Feeling only surface value, flap-jack action packed scenes rush right over any potentially emotional profound moment or cool concepts of ancient historical interest. The characters become one-dimensional with no real depth, character, or personality, except for perhaps Grover (Brandon T. Jackson), Percy's personal sidekick who comes along with a cute personable quip here and again. For me, this deprives the action scenes of any real investment on our part when, as the audience, we haven't really established a care for these characters, so it's really of no consequence to us what happens to them. One thing I did appreciate tremendously though! How the story did include an aside concept that Percy Jackson's ADHD (attention deficit disorder) and dyslexia were not actually shortcomings of him as a human, but indications of his inherent prowess as a god; attributes of how his mind works in a divine and different way.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010
Wowza. What to say about District 9...Firstly, the entire beginning sequence is likely one of the most clever and brilliant story telling devices I've seen in a long time. The film only begins to take on the traditional narrative form about 30 minutes in but the way in which the world of this film is initially introduced to the audience is through documentary style interviews and mock up news coverage of this "District 9" as if it were a real media piece occurring in the world today and for the last two decades. So many little details of how that introductory sequence was constructed are just perfectly true to the actual nuances of legitimate documentary filmmaking so it plays like unedited news coverage of behind the scenes footage in a real government military evacuation. They did so much to "create a world" right down to the restricted area posters that read "For Humans Only" built into an intricate set design...Just brilliant! There was however an odd almost comical tone that was struck which threw me out of that masterfully constructed illusion. The character of Wikus (Sharlto Copley), the man appointed head of this MNU Evacuation operation, presents himself as so over the top and absurd in the smiling friendly naive manner in which he goes about leading the mission (think Steve Carell as Michael from The Office) to a point where it looses that sense of seriousness which the previous "media coverage" and interviews so strongly established.
My First thought: What a beautiful film. A portrait of life in the 1960's, where racial tensions and gender power strife were commonplace, focused within a 14-year old girl's journey to find healing and restore her connection to her Mother, whom she accidently shot as a 4 year old child. What is truly compelling about this film is the way in which the masculine and feminine energies must come to reconcile with one another in order to find healing, and peace. In running from the cold harsh reality of a life with an emotionally shutdown father figure whom she refers to as "T. Ray"(Paul Bettany), Lily (Dakota Fanning) finds herself in a house full of women, nourished and held by Motherly energies for the first time. And what's more? These African American honey bee harvesters, led by Miss August (Queen Latifah) have not only found a way to survive as black women in a "hate filled world" such was the social climate of the time, but found a way to thrive in it. Miss August teaches Lily how to harvest honey gently from the swarming bees, but in the process metaphorically demonstrates a kind of philosophical strength in how to get along and glide past the "sting" of the world. The strength of the poeticism of this piece comes from it's ability to relate and be real with the audience, in combination with these philosophical overtures. There is a spirituality and inherent religious aspect most obvious in the African Mother Mary figure, literally a life sized statuary that the women go to touch the heart of for strength. In this way, it would be all too easy for a film like this to become over earnest, yet these blatent religious overtones are firmly grounded by the very real-life emotional experiences that the characters must go through and overcome, lending them power. Even the "Queen Bee" Mother of the house, Miss August, in all her strength, must face the pangs and anguish of the world, but does so as a shining example, in full surrender. Really a remarkable demonstration of how to carry the strength of the masculine and yet be in the compassionate nurturing surrender of the feminine, all as one; a wonderful marriage. This theme is explored again through the sister, June (Alicia Keys),a hardened fierce "masculinized" woman, toting her NAACP wear, emboldened in her independence and refusing to marry. She too is not fully at peace in her exclusively masculinized front and must yield herself vulnerably in her feminine role in orderto finally find joy. In so many ways, they were all looking for their "Mother." And as Lily so pointed out, she could find that solace not rising up to the sky but by going deeper inside of herself.
Perhaps the most remarkable journey too, is through that character of Lily, much praises due to the really tangibly felt and authentic performance from Dakota Fanning who just seems to have immersed herself and really invested herself into this role whole heartedly. Her transformation as a character, learning from these women and standing in her power by the end of the film lent itself to a really strong moment of coming to an understanding of her father and really being present with him, waking him up to his own sobering reality. There are certain moments in films that are not to be forgotten, and this was surely one of them. An example of how the feminine can temper the masculine when it is brought into the full awareness and realization of Self. There is a really beautiful sense of the peace that emerges from this balance and of that coming to an understanding within oneself, which this film really leaves you with.
Having seen this film, and the authenticity in which it was created really brought about in me a profound appreciation for how far we've come as a culture and society since the 60s. It is a rare thing as well to find such a piece where you resonate and deeply care about not just one, but really all of the characters in the film, who each seem to have a life and breath of their own. The Secret Life of Bees is a true treasure, and is not to be missed.