One Tin Soldier Rode Away…

I am shocked and saddened to learn that Tom Laughlin has passed away.  Even though he was 82, his death was unexpected.  For those of you who do not know who he is, I consider him to be the grandfather of the Independent Film.  He is the one who took on Warner Bros. and then distributed his own films which are still among the highest selling films of all time.  I am referring to the “Billy Jack” Trilogy.  These films inspired an entire generation to look within themselves and to try to make a difference in the world.  The release of “Billy Jack” also signaled the birth of a whole new way of marketing film–and it changed the industry whether some recognize this or not.  The world of Independent Film owes this man much more than people realize.  So it is here I will pay my tribute. I cannot think of a more fitting tribute than to close with this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qswm7lHp7oY

My thoughts and prayers go out to his friends, his wife of 60 years, Delores, and his children and grandchildren.

Here is a copy of the obituary as well:Obituary – Tom Laughlin (1)

To Me No Tribute to the 9/11 Incident Equals This One…It is Short, Wordless, and Powerful.

See for yourself…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZIxFd5I280

 

No movie made, no documentary filmed can have as much impact as these horses kneeling and looking toward the empty space where so many lives were lots on September 11, 2001.  Budweiser only aired this one time in January of 2002.

I remember where I was that morning. I was teaching classes that had 30 students or more, who went into utter shock.  One of my special needs students thought his parents went down on the plane that left Dulles.  We finally got him calmed down and when he realized they were in Dallas he was fine.

For two weeks afterward, counselors spoke with kids who were heartbroken for those in NYC who lost family members, friends, teachers, etc….They drew pictures and made cards for them.  Our country was united from old to young…

This is exactly why we must never forget this attack any more than this nation must never forget Pearl Harbor, lest we stay divided.

 

This Will Be an Interesting July 4th Week! “Monumental”, I’m Sure!

Once in a while a film comes along that makes one think about life before it is even released.  One such film being made is ‘Monumental’ which stars Gary Cairns II, Luke Albright, Agnes Olech, and Bill Oberst Jr.   It is being directed by Scott Hansen.

In this story, which is written by Gary Cairns and Luke Albright, two men embark on a cross-country journey to spread the ashes of Clayne’s mother (played by Gary) at various historical monuments she had dreams of visiting, but never got a chance to go to. Along the way, they encounter dangerous situations that lead them down an unexpected path.  This trip will be ANYTHING but normal.

Coming face to face with the possibility of losing my mother someday, this is one film that I am waiting to see. I am going to put two links here so that readers can check this out.  The first is to the Facebook page for the movie.  The 2nd will be to the indiegogo.com page.  The fund-raising part is over, but you can still see the interview clips there.  This movie is going to be good. It is going to be an open road journey where each character has to come face-to-face whatever they are dealing with inside.

I feel that it also falls in line with the spirit of July 4th being that Clayne’s mother had a passion for those monuments to which the cast and crew are traveling during the filming of this adventure.

Aside from that it is turning into a real adventure for these guys. They make videos and take photos of almost every place they visit and pay thanks to those who’ve been a part of their journey along the way.  In the process of filming, not only are these guys filming a fictional adventure of great value, but they are discovering that the American Spirit is alive and well in every place they visit–and have videos on the Facebook page of those places along the way! Be on the lookout for these guys! They may come to your town next! I’m surprised the Today Show or Ellen DeGeneres hasn’t caught up with them yet! This is a story worth sharing! Here is a pic of these guys for you so you all can watch for them!

Gary and Luke

Left: Gary Cairns II         Right: Luke Albright

 

In the meantime here is link 1 and if on FB, please click like and share:

https://www.facebook.com/monumentalmoviepage?fref=ts

And for the interview clips, go here:

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/monumental

 

Nana Plays Oscar…What I got WRONG! Winners are in BOLD

Okay…For me this is almost like a game of sorts.  I am going to list my picks for the Oscars. I am not going to weigh in on why I am picking these films, actors, actresses, directors and such because I go with my gut, so like the rest of the movie going public, I could be wrong–and in the case of the Oscars I don’t care if I am right or wrong.  Me and a few friends used to do to just have a bit of fun so here goes…

BEST PICTURE:  Lincoln          *Argo*

BEST ACTOR:  Denzel Washington (and if not him, it will most likely be Daniel Day-Lewis).  Daniel Day-Lewis won it!

BEST ACTRESS:   Jessica Chastain (I know Jennifer Lawrence has a good shot though).   *Jennifer Lawrence*

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:  I say Tommy Lee Jones but DeNiro might do it…  *Christoph Waltz*

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:  I say it’s gonna be Sally Field.  *Ann Hathaway*

BEST DIRECTOR:  Stephen Spielberg (but Ang Lee might do it.  I think Michael Haneke deserves it though). I don’t care if “The Artist” won last year or not…  *Ang Lee*

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:  John Gatins (Flight) *Django Unchained*

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:   *Argo*

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM:  *Brave*

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:  *”Life of Pi”*

BEST COSTUME DESIGN:  Lincoln *Anna Karenina*

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:   *Life of Pi*

BEST ORIGINAL SONG:  Pi’s Lullaby *and it’s a hell of a lot better than the Skyfall theme–sorry to all you Adele fans. She’s great but this song is simply too beautiful*. *Adele-Skyfall* (damn)

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:  Life of Pi (and if not that one I’ll say Snow White and the Huntsman)…

Anything else you guys can come up with in these or other categories, feel free to comment!

Well the ones in bold with NOTHING BEFORE them are the ones I got right. I still say although Ang Lee won–and was great, Michael Hanake should have gotten that nod.  So am I the only one who got the botched the big ones here? LOL  At least I got a lot of the other ones right… 😉

Will 2013 Be The Year Hollywood Finally “Gets It”?

As the year comes to a close, I thank god I didn’t stay in the theater for the bad movies that were released this year–with the exception of “Dark Shadows” with Johnny Depp–but that was to be polite since I didn’t buy the ticket.  To me that was the worst one of the year. Sorry to the Depp fans but I’m being honest. I got my money back on two of them. To me, the character of Barnabas Collins did not get nearly the dignity and depth he deserved–and much of that was due to Tim Burton‘s direction (or possibly the lack of it) and a horribly written script by Seth Grahame Smith.  Even though Depp was a producer on this project, I cannot fault him on the acting when it is the director that calls the shots on how a character is to be portrayed.

And here’s an article to back that statement up:  http://entertainment.ca.msn.com/movies/galleries/worst-movies-of-2012

I didn’t even care for “John Carter”, “The Watch” or “That’s My Boy”…”A Thousand Words” was one I knew wasn’t going to do well from the previews too, but–WAIT!!! According to the die-hard “Deppers” on IMDB shouldn’t “judge a movie by the trailer”…

I could not resist that line.  I don’t support an actor or actress out of pure “fanship”…If I did, I’d spend too much money on flops like this. NOW for the best ones because I want to end on a good note.

I say “The Woman in Black” (which is a Hammer film that totally kicks ass!), “Men in Black III“, and the 3D version of “The Life of Pi“, “Argo” and “Flight” were the best of  the year.  If you’re wondering why I didn’t put “Skyfall” on here–it’s because I haven’t seen that one yet, but I’m not big on James Bond flicks either.

That being said, I expect Hammer Films to have a big year for 2013.  I also feel that the short film “Posey” (directed by Billy DaMota), which stars Sally Kirkland and Christopher Pennock,  is going to get a lot of attention in the Indie markets because of the fact that it deals with Alzheimer’s and pays tribute to real victims of the disease by raising money for research,  and another film, “A Common Man” will get director Chandran Rutman a lot of attention–not to mention Sir Ben Kingsley, who stars in this with fellow veteran actor,  Ben Cross. I feel that “A Common Man” will definitely help the Sri Lankan film industry.  I can’t wait to see these two movies as well as any Hammer film that will hopefully get released next year!

Hopefully, Hollywood will finally market to more than the niche markets they’ve pandered too also.  The baby boomers are the ones buying tickets–and they’re buying for the teens and ‘tweens also.  Until they put out better films that meet the expectations of that generation, I expect a lot more Indie films to get a lot more attention than the major releases.  One can only hope that Hollywood will finally “get it”…

 

2013…Another Year of “Reboots”? I Certainly Hope Not…

Alright…I should consider this part III of “The Changing Tide of Movie Viewing”, but this is going to be short.  America is tiring of these “reboots” of classics…To touch some films in a remake is as  horrid as stepping on a grave.  Seriously!  When writers do not stick with original thoughts of the writers who penned the works, they bastardize the entire work.  I can already see what’s coming with this:

http://tv.yahoo.com/news/carrie-underwood-star-nbcs-sound-music-163400631.html

To me this would be like casting Ted Nugent in a “Jesus Christ Superstar” remake…Sorry but this is not a seasoned actress. This is a country singer. This is not going to fare well, but neither did the NBC remake of “The Munsters” or the “Dark Shadows” reboot that came out in theaters this year.  For those who wish to debate the latter–it did NOT do well in the US.  In this country, star power doesn’t always = movie ticket sales.

Some things are better left UN-made and this is going to be one of those projects…Do these studios get write-offs for the trash they put out or what?!  The only way this trend will stop is to quit giving the kids money to go to the theaters and either boycott sponsors, or simply refuse to watch…Maybe eventually they will get the message.  The only halfway decent shows on TV now are Hawaii 5-0 and Law and order SVU.  And let’s not forget PBS!

And that’s the truth!  *Gives the Edith Ann Raspberry Here!*

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJMKupYF14I

 

The Writer’s Responsibility as ADULTS–And this one is HUGE!

It is the responsibility of every writer, be it a  news reporter or a critic to be honest in their endeavors. Readers can spot it when one tells the truth rather than what the writer thinks the truth SHOULD be and there is a big whopping difference.  The only time a writer can get away with almost any type of bullshit is in fiction because the playing field is level there. Almost anything goes and the purists are losing control over the genre–whether it be vampire fiction, romance, etc…

If a writer is telling a story that can shake one’s emotions to the core, then let him/her have her day–as long as it IS IN the fiction realm. That is much more entertaining than these purists who come in and say, “Vampires can’t do this!” or “That character would not be able to do that in my opinion–” because those opinions simply do not matter in this day and age when anything can happen in a dream or a fantasy.

In the “Changing Tide of Movie Viewing”, I discussed what I see going on with how people in general view the movie critic.  The critic is no longer the voice for the public because the public makes up its own mind what it wants to see–and the public is tired of all the Hollywood schlock.  The public wants real stories, believable plots and things the whole family can enjoy.  This is definitely a lesson Warner Bros. should have learned when it released “Dark Shadows” back in May.  It bombed HERE because everyone who grew up on the original or watched the Dark Shadows Revival Series KNEW how the original writer and producer, the late Dan Curtis, envisioned it.  They liked HIS vision and he knew what worked.  It did well overseas and made its money and some profit because most European fans do not know the original and if they do, they wanted it changed.

Another assumption Hollywood has made in error is that baby boomers don’t tend to go to theaters. Not true. They do go–they just don’t like the constant marketing to teens, ‘tweens and the and Twilight Fiends…Sorry but it’s true. They want to see more of actors like Bruce Willis, Robert Redford, Michael Caine, Ben Cross, Eric Roberts and the list goes on. As for actresses, Helen Mirren, Melissa Leo and Dame Judith Dench have my vote…Chick flicks do not do much for the potential market Hollywood COULD have because there are more baby boomers on the planet than Gen X’ers…Go figure. The Expendables 2 was a nice break for the older audience because they got to see a lot of their favorites in ONE FILM.  By the way, Dolph Lundgren is a talented actor and writer in his own right and is much under-rated. If you don’t believe me, watch “The Mechanik” (aka) “The Russian Specialist“. Ben Cross is also in this one and he makes it shine. The two together were awesome in that film.

Unfortunately the changes made to that movie script  for the Dark Shadows movie rendered it to be an entirely different story than “Dark Shadows”.  This vision that Tim Burton, Johnny Depp and Seth Grahame Smith had would have been better served for a remake of “The Fearless Vampire Killers“…Hopefully someone will do a decent remake of that one.

Now back to the premise of this post–writing…How one is going to write their stories or articles depends largely upon the audience which will read it, but if one is going to write a review–then watch the WHOLE movie, SERIES and/or listen to the WHOLE ALBUM before putting out the article.  In fact, do so twice. You probably missed something the first time around.  An audience member somehow, somewhere can spot it when you are trying to bullshit them simply because you don’t like the artists, actor, actress, writer, director, etc…and many readers will now begin to call a writer on the carpet for that crap.  The market for writers is a hard one to break into as it is, but if you’re going to con your readers because you don’t like a person for whatever reason, you won’t get far with it.

I tend to be very blunt, honest and to the point when I write. Some can handle it, others cannot. It doesn’t bother me either way but somebody has to speak up about the nonsense going on in the field.  I write from my perspective.  I point out what I feel are strengths and weaknesses, but my focus tends to lie on the script  writing and direction when it comes to films.  Those are the building blocks of every picture–the very foundation–and if those are screwed up, the film will, most likely bomb.  Star power does not always sell a picture, so when I see an actor’s or actress’s  name attached to a picture that I KNOW would never take a junky part–I will go see that film each time that performer is in it.  I watch for performances, sure–but most performances that go awry have more to do with the writing than anything else, I think.

Now if the movie is based on a novel, I try to read the novel first.  However I didn’t follow that pattern with “The Help”.  Either way, that film rocked and there is much more in the book, so if you go the book afterward, please read it!

I am in the process of writing a book now. It is called “From Cell to Cell” (at the moment).  My life has been a journey, but only at this phase in my life have I found peace with it all.  It is funny how one’s life can change in an instant and it can last for a lifetime–be it good or be it not so good. One lesson I did learn is that not all things that seem to make sense are the best things for us. We may think they are, but in the end, we may have ended up settling for second best out of fear. However we can make it good–but it takes two words “I WILL”–and when the door opens, we have to be willing to go through it at any age.  Did you watch the “Shawshank Redemption“?   I had a few moments standing in the rain enjoying the first taste of freedom in my life. For me that scene with Tim Robbins is very symbolic.  I also recommend “The Green Mile” (RIP Michael Clarke Duncan  1957-2012–You will be missed).

As a writer it is best to remember two things: First,  be honest. Second, don’t try to con the reader.  It will lead to your undoing as a writer–especially if you are writing reviews or anything to do with History.  When writing about History, it is best to stick to what is KNOWN to be fact and/or proven via a written record in the library stacks or film–not conjecture or opinions of other individuals.  If you can piece something together into a logical pattern, say so and why.  It is one thing to check a writer’s sources–but if the sources have been taken out of context to fit the writer’s opinion we have a duty to expose this. I’ve done it before. I’ll do it again. And I will save that topic for another post! Have a great weekend!

The world lost a very talented man when it lost this actor. Michael Clarke Duncan 1957-2012 (RIP)

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I Am Told Not to Judge a Movie by the Trailer…

The title is self-explanatory.  Yet a movie trailer is what is meant to lure the viewer in to see the film.   I was going to go see the new Dark Shadows movie that was made by that all familiar duo of Johnny Depp and Tim Burton, despite the fact that I didn’t care for a lot of the earlier films they did together.  Johnny Depp is a great actor. Do not get me wrong there, but I am not what is called in some fan circles as a “Die Hard Depper”.

After seeing the trailer for the new Dark Shadows movie, I got totally turned off of the idea despite the fact that I loved the original series and I loved the Revival series of the 1990’s too.  However, I cannot look at the trailer from the link below and see anything that I can remotely identify with from my childhood, or the Revival version–both of which were the vision of the late Dan Curtis.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isjg9O7ifwM

Many criticized the original in recent years for the bloopers and low-budget adjustments that had to be made by cast and crew–but to an entire generation of children, these characters seemed real. I would have kicked Lara Parker in the shins and ran for my life when I was a five-year old girl.   Barnabas, played by Jonathan Frid, was bullied by her in my young mind and I wanted to see him “get well”.  I viewed him as “ill and unable to help it”…I’m sure I am not the only little child who empathized with Frid’s rendition of the character in this way.

Then the show was gone.  My parents divorced.  Over the years my life changed and such…Then I went to work for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. It was in my room at the officer’s  quarters that I got very bored one night and began playing around on hulu.com.  It was there I watched episode after episode of the “Dark Shadows Revival” series.  I was hooked by the portrayal Ben Cross gave…It was here I discovered Ben Cross the actor as well and found his Facebook page.

I was still able to empathize with his Barnabas, even though at the time he beat Willie, I felt that Barnabas was WAY out of line.  Yet, Mr. Cross tempered that character enough to show a realistic point–it would be hell for someone in that character’s predicament to temper that battle within between the beast he could turn into and the man he once was.  He was a good man–and his flaw was messing around with the WRONG woman.

Oh well…Cest Le Vie…Now we have this new one coming out and from the trailer, I can already tell that I cannot empathize with Depp’s rendition.  He looks more alien than human–as if he’s a combination of Nosferatu and Beetlejuice.  Barnabas should NEVER look like this…I can also tell by Burton’s direction that this is going to be more of a farce that will make the Barnabas I grew up on and adored to look more like a buffoon.  The scene in the trailer between him and Angelique made me think more of “War of the Roses” than Dark Shadows. Sorry.

I also cannot picture a vampire, while trying to adapt to the time period he’s in, making boob remarks and telling a 15-year-old relative that is not married about how her “child-bearing hips” aren’t in use…Barnabas was a gentleman and in past movies and the two series I mentioned, Shakespearean actors were tapped to play him. I believe Dan Curtis had very good reason for casting his production in such a way and having those characters portrayed as they were.

One more thing I will point out is that I KNOW my history here. While a lot of upper class colonists did wait until later to marry, there were some who did marry younger.  That is the only reason why the writers will get away with that remark about those “child-bearing hips”.

I only have one more thing to add here…The voice…I heard and saw more of a cleaned up version of  “Jack Sparrow” than I did any Barnabas Collins that was ever portrayed. For what it is worth though, the schlock I saw in the trailer would have been perfect for a remaking of  “The Fearless Vampire Killers“.  Here’s a clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1q-sukI-ZpU

I apologize to the die-hard “DarkShadows” fans and to all the loyal Depp fans out there, but I cannot justify going to see this particular film. It is sad to me that an actor as great as Johnny Depp has chosen to portray the character a lot of us loved growing up in the fashion that this trailer makes him out to be.

One thing Hollywood critics need to get through their heads is that people are not going to pay attention to what they write for the most part–only the academy will.  The ones who will flock to see this are the ones who are die-hard Depp fans no matter what he does, and those who don’t know what all the fuss is about.  Unless one of my family members or friends buys the ticket, I’ll wait for the over-priced dvd.

Other than Frid’s performance,  this is how Barnabas should be portrayed:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOL5DogfA2w

I don’t care how many people criticize the make up, Mr. Cross’s mullet and such.  He raised the bar too high for anyone to follow suit, and the trailer from the new movie only makes this viewer appreciate his rendition of the character even more.

On the other hand I heartily recommend this movie because the whole family can watch it!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOqSi-_cXeE  It has a taste of “Remember the Titans”, “Bad News Bears”, “The Mighty Ducks”–and any other good sports movie that was meant for a young and old audience alike!  This one will be one of the best of 2012 and will be in theaters on May 18th~! At least this trailer has a good feel about it!  The name of the movie is “Crooked Arrows” and is about a Native American Lacrosse team! It will be worth spending the money for the ticket on. Check out the likes on its Facebook page already!