Sunday 31 January 2010

They Are To Blame For Everything That's Wrong With The Film Industry.

Apparently they did it. They won't see people who don't have an agent, they don't read unsolicited scripts, they prefer men to women, they won't fund this type of project and they are treating us badly. One thing is for sure, we are not to blame and it is definitely them - but who they are, I don't know.

Apparently they don't cast black actors. I cast black actors, so maybe I'm not them. But I've never cast a Mexican, so maybe I am the they that is keeping Mexicans out of the industry. I met a casting director who is usually only interested in actors with certain agents, but she's used a few people who don't have an agent at all. So is she one of them, I mean - the they, or is she not those? It's hard to tell. But either way, she's probably an exception to the rule, and they are all still against us.

See, that's the thing - THEY are stopping us succeeding in the industry. They are all huddled in a room - the privileged people of success room. I think it's upstairs on the 4th floor. They all huddle up there and conspire against independent films and original screenplays and new actors. They really hate us.

This theory is, of course, completely insane - but most people in the industry swear by it.

They don't fund projects without explosions.
They won't even look at me.
They don't understand my work.
They never pay people.
They probably won't like my acting.

Who are they? Why are they so against everybody?

Nobody ever identifies themselves as 'THEY.' It's always other people. It's always someone more successful who is oppressing us in some way. It's a bit similar to other industries.

They never let me go on break.
They don't even notice me.
I moved all those boxes but did they care? NO!.

I have met people on every level in the film industry -- and I've still never met one of they. Sure, there are some idiots in the industry; but even they are just trying to do their jobs.

Casting Directors are trying to find the right actors for their projects. Producers are looking to put good films together. Agents want great writers/actors/etc.

Next time you find yourself blaming them or they or those, just have a think about it -- because it's probably wasted energy, they don't exist. I call it Gatekeeper Syndrome. It's the imaginary gatekeepers that we feel stand between us and the big guys. They exist only in our minds.

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Nora Ephron - What Are You Doing To Me?

I am currently reading the Nora Ephron book 'Heartburn.' It's a book about a woman who is seven months pregnant who finds out her husband is cheating on her. And it's about cooking. And women stuff. And the cover looks like this --

Now, this is a problem because I am a guy.
And if I read a book like that on the train, people will give me weird looks.

'Why Are You Reading Nora Ephron books?' you might ask. And all I can say is that, Nora Ephron has been pulling this kind of shit on me all my life. Do I want to be watching Meg Ryan prancing around all the time? No. But do I? Yes. 'Sleepless In Seattle,' 'You've Got Mail', 'Hanging Up' - I loved them all.

You see - I secretly think Nora Ephron is one of the best writers alive. There are not many others who could make me relate to a story about a bunch of quarrelling sisters ('Hanging Up') - and whilst I do love a good ole' rom-com, I would rarely call them my favorite films - but I think 'You've Got Mail' is genius. If it was made in the 1950's and had Billy Wilder's name as Director, it probably would have won some oscars.

The book I am reading, 'Heartburn,' was turned into a movie, which I've not yet seen. But the book is great - hilarious, compelling, and true - in a way few books are. I actually really struggle with reading, I find it hard to find voices that resonate with me. I can name about four -- Woody Allen (short stories), Joseph Heller, Roald Dahl, John O'Farrell, some of Nick Hornby, and half of Jack Kerouac's 'On The Road' - that is a bit more than four but that number was only a guess prior to this sentence. Oh, and Anne Frank. There's more truth in her book than anything else I've ever read.

So I have to face the facts - I need to stand up proudly and say. I LOVE NORA EPHRON.

But right now I'm going to go and watch the 'Die Hard' trilogy and some war films....

PS: Today is the last day you can vote for me in the 2010 Weblog Awards, or the Bloggies, as they're also known. I am one of the five nominees in the 'Best Entertainment Blog' category. I would really appreciate it if you voted for me. You can do that here.

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Saturday 30 January 2010

Adolf Hitler - The Funniest Man In Comedy.

The first time you see 'Downfall' is a powerful, overwhelming experience. There's something uniquely fascinating about Germans exploring their own history on film. When English or Americans make films about Hitler or the Nazi's, there is always going to be an element of bias or opinion that seeps in -- but Germans making films about a topic which can still be very raw and present for them is... well, it's important. Important to the world, I think. 'Downfall' is a masterpiece. A powerful, riveting, and upsetting film that I think everyone should see.

The problem is-- I don't think I could ever watch it again. The Adolf Hitler presented in that film now represents something very different to me, and it's something very funny. Who would have thought this could happen? I don't know who the first person to do this was, but they were a genius. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about-- over the past couple of years, there has been a phenomenon on YouTube of re-editing scenes from 'Downfall.' To give you an idea, here is a recent one about the new Apple Ipad.

The beauty of them is that they are all completely ridiculous and nonsensical, but they are just so damned funny. Here are two twenty second clips that had me laughing.


Fuck it, here's a third one.

I find these hilarious. I can understand that some people may find it offensive, that we're laughing along with Hitler - but I think most people agree with me. So why are they so funny?

The image of Hitler and what he stood for is one of the most recognised images in our culture. Wherever you are in the world, even if you are uneducated and disinterested in World War 2 -- chances are you know all about Adolf Hitler. There is something unique about World War 2 in that it will always get a reaction from people, they are sensitive to it. You could make a terrible documentary about Auschwitz, but it would still resonate with people. The images are too depressing and upsetting to not affect you. Likewise, the image of Adolf Hitler will always create a reaction. More often than not - it is one of disgust, or bewilderment, or anger.

These YouTube videos get big reactions. Say what you want about them, but they wouldn't be funny with anyone else in them. If it was Tony Blair from 'The Queen' nobody would be laughing. Sometimes I despair at how young people aren't interested in World War 2, whereas for me - keeping alive the story of what my Grandparents and their generation did is a big part of my life. But maybe these YouTube videos are the way that younger people can relate to what happened. I mean, if Hitler was just some random old German guy, these videos wouldn't capture the imagination of young people as much as they do.

The reason we find them funny is because the image we all have of Hitler -- everything we learned about; his obsession with war, with conquering Europe, with mass killing. So, the idea of him going crazy over Oasis breaking up, or going insane because Michael Jackson died is completely hilarious.

Here is Adolf Hitler being informed that he gets killed in 'Inglorious Basterds'

The thing about these Hitler videos is that, for the most part - they are very cleverly written, I laugh at nearly all of them. Whoever came up with these is a genius. I keep thinking it'll be tough to keep them fresh and original, but at the moment - I'm still finding them all funny.

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Guest Blogger - Mike Lippert

When my last few blog posts get no comments and all of my family stop talking to me, I realize I've hit a bad spell and I desperately need to get in a decent writer to fill my shoes, or a least my blog, for a day. Mike Lippert's blog is like one of those independent movies shot by a nobody for $500. Right now, no-one really knows about it - but the quality is so good that before you know it he'll have a hundred followers and everyone will be talking about his "big ego problem." Below is an article Mike wrote about being a Kid In The Front Row. Enjoy!

A lot of my cinema experiences have been negative: Stupid people, stupid movies, stupid long lines, stupid uncomfortable seats, stupid junk on the stupid sticky floors, etc. Yet, I cherish the experience of the theatre, no matter how advanced home technology gets, more than anything. When you really think about it, the theatre holds a certain inexplicable aura. When you go to the movies you’re going for more than to just see a film on a big screen.

There are the people. I love the people! Let’s get something straight: I hate being in crowded places, especially theatres as was the case when I went to see the Sex and the City movie in a cheap theatre with bad seating that was packed to the point where I found myself sandwiched between my girlfriend and some overweight middle-aged husband who was apparently having the time of his life.

There is a special section of my brain delegated to the memories I’ve accumulated over the years surrounding the complete strangers who I will never forget about out of the simple arbitrariness that they happened to decide to see the same movie at the same time as me. Sure, at the time I despised them more than anyone I’ve ever had the displeasure of meeting and sat in the dark, coldly wishing every cruel and unimaginable torture to befall them sooner than later. But now, looking back, I realize that these are the people who have etched certain films into by brain that would have otherwise fallen completely by the wayside.

There were the teenaged boys who needed to whistle as Kate Beckinsale peeled herself out of that leather suit (That would be me, -Kid.) in the Underworld sequel; the wife who thought that her symbolically challenged husband needed a complete play-by-play breakdown of Brokeback Mountain; the silly old Jewish man who must think life is just about the funniest joke anyone has ever told because he certainly laughed his way through absolutely everything in A Serious Man; the rowdy university freshmen who, with horn in hand, honked approvingly when Amy Smart divulged information of her triple orgasm to Ashton Kutcher in The Butterfly Effect, and of course, the old woman who, when Adrien Brody decides to take justice against Joaquin Phoenix into his own hands in The Village, loudly gasped “Oh my God! HE KILLED HIM!”

Then there is my favourite audience memory. It was during the packed premiere of A History of Violence, a film that the woman behind me felt was appropriate to take her 13 year old son to, which didn’t seem quite right until Ed Harris ends up getting his guts splattered all over Viggo Mortenson to which the kid exclaimed, “Cool, Spleen!” Right, it made sense now. And then, to the right of me were two jolly middle-aged sisters who thought everything in the movie was hilarious (I guess you just hit a certain age?), and declared, during the absolute best scene, where Mortensen goes to visit his brother, played brilliantly by William Hurt, declared, chuckling, “Aren’t you glad we’re not like that?”

There are many more memories where those came from. I’ve pulled them out and shared them for the simple purpose of trying to show why the cinema is such an important aspect of film. Critics sometimes get so caught up in theory and psychological pondering that they forget that the cinema is also, at its very heart, an experience, which is only half defined by the content that passes before our eyes on the screen. The other half is the conditions under which we see films: the who, what, where, when and why. Although, as a critic myself, I love the first, most movies just aren’t movies in the absence the second.

You can check out Mike's blog at

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Friday 29 January 2010

'Die Hard Isle Five' - A Short Story.

Barry Fremp has worked at the supermarket for six years and forty seven days. He is perceived to be the forth most knowledgeable staff member on low-fat yogurt products but he struggles with sauces, especially spicy ones, a problem he inherited from his father. Barry has not enjoyed his job in recent years as most of his friends have moved on. Some to the frozen chicken section, and Barry 'Killer' Bones was relocated to hair & make-up.

To put it bluntly, his job sucked. To put it less bluntly, Barry didn't quite feel the joy any more and often felt his life was drifting away. There was only one thing that kept him going. Anna Kantino, the beautiful girl on the fish counter, was not the reason. She refused to acknowledge him. The only thing that kept him going was those rare moments when he got to step outside of the mundanity and do something extraordinary. He got to take the law into his own hands.

"Code Bacon!" came the yell over the speaker system. This was code for, "We have a shoplifter!" They used this innocent phrase so not to panic the customers, although people would often dive for cover if they happened to be browsing the bacon display when the call was made. Often, weeks would go by without a shoplifter. Until that fateful day that nobody would ever forget. It was a Wednesday, or maybe a Tuesday.

The announcement bellowed from above, "Code Eggs!". Barry gestured to the nearby customers to stay calm, as he had it under control. He sprinted to the entrance. A young, angry looking black man was making his way out with a widescreen TV. Barry dived on top of him and they went crashing to the floor.

Of course, he had the wrong guy. In fact, he had the wrong announcement. The meaning of "Code Eggs" is slightly different and actually means "please check that none of the fresh farm eggs are cracked." This wouldn't have been so bad if it wasn't the third person Barry had attacked after a Code Egg, meaning he now faced disciplinary charges which could mean a three week stint without a lunch break.

Barry often worried that he would miss a Code Bacon. This was unlikely though as he worked seven days a week except for major holidays, when he worked eight. Most people feared criminals coming to the store, but for Barry Fremp - it was the chance to be who he always knew he was, part security man, part private investigator, part spy, mostly the guy who refills the milk on the thing. The opportunity to be great was sure to be soon. Little did Barry know that opportunity would arise in the next paragraph.

"Code Bacon!" yelled the man at the front desk. Unfortunately the speaker system was broken and all that could be heard was the yell of "bacon!". This caused a stampede to the reduced isle where sixty four customers expected bacon slices at half price. As they fixed the system the yell again came for "Code Bacon!!!" - a moment Barry Fremp had waited a long time for. This was his chance to prove his place in the world - and to prove to Anna Kantino that he was a man with power. And if he couldn't convince her of that, it was at least possible that she would find out his name.

Harry Hibswald was known to locals as one of the most prolific and clever shoplifters of all time. He was still prolific, yes. But clever? It wasn't 1937 anymore, and Hibswald, now 91, knew it. His masterful plan was indeed one of the great plans of our time. The plan was to use a plastic bag to hide the alcohol he was taking. Sadly, he forgot to take the bag and he forgot to take the alcohol. In fact he would have been running from the building unknowingly innocent if it wasn't for the multi-coloured condoms he had accidentally stolen from isle five, when he casually put them in his pocket as a way of convincing another shopper, Mavis Pestrouse, that he 'still had it going on.'

PART 2 Coming Soon.

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