Wednesday 4 August 2010

LARRY CROWNE - Written By, Directed By and starring TOM HANKS - Coming Soon

Over a year ago I wrote an article about Tom Hanks in which I broke down his career into what I felt were three distinct sections. The early comedies (The Burbs, Big,) his masterpieces (Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan,) and the average period (The Da Vinci Code, The Terminal.) At the end, I said, "Whatever happens, I feel that we are now approaching chapter four. His next few decisions will determine the rest of his career. I just hope he takes some risks."

While seeing him in yet another Da Vinci snore could be seen as an extension of his average period, I am extremely excited about 'LARRY CROWNE' a low-fi drama comedy which he wrote, directed and is also the star, along with 'Charlie Wilson's War' co-star Julia Roberts.

Tom Hanks the writer/director. This really excites me. 'THAT THING YOU DO' was a perfect little film - it was pure joy. Hanks has expressed disappointment with it on numerous occasions which is perhaps why it has taken him another fourteen years to direct a film, although I think his helming of the masterful 'Crossroads' episode in 'BAND OF BROTHERS' will have gone a long way to reassuring himself that he has the skill to be a great director.

I think Tom Hanks is a perfect role model. I've always admired his incredible mix of humor, curiosity, and passion -- it seeps into his work in a natural and believable way that few other people in the history of film have managed. I hope 'LARRY CROWNE' is a success. I hope this is what chapter four is going to be; the beginning of a long career as a writer, director and actor. I think the world of film needs more of this kind of Tom Hanks. 'LARRY CROWNE' is currently in post-production.

Care to share?

Tuesday 3 August 2010

Discipline & Creativity - Am I Doing Everything I Can?

Am I getting up at a set time?

Do I have informative, fascinating and useful film podcasts on my iPod for while I'm travelling?

Do I Have Inspiring Music To Listen To?

Have I Set Goals For The Day?

Am I going to write today?

Am I going to keep full awareness of all the time I lose browsing on Facebook & refreshing Gmail?

Am I going to avoid negative people or at least cut down our conversations drastically?

Am I going to stand up for what I believe?

Am I going to be confident about my writing?

Am I certain of what I feel, before going into the meeting?

Am I eating well?

Am I hydrated?

Have I taken a moment to breath?

Am I wasting time watching bullshit on TV?

Am I going to ask if I need help?

Am I able to believe in myself?

Am I able to build awareness around my insecurities and the areas where I lack confidence?

Am I going to make that phone call I've been avoiding?

Am I going to reply to work-related emails immediately?

Am I just going to sit here or am I going to do the thing I said I'd do thirty minutes ago?

Am I going to go the extra mile when it comes to collaboration?

Am I going to support other people with their projects?

Am I going to be fearless?

Am I taking full responsibility for how good or bad my day is?

Am I wasting time moaning about someone, something, or someplace, when instead I could be taking action to improve the situation?

Am I Having A Good Day?

Care to share?

Monday 2 August 2010

"JURASSIC PARK" and "JAWS" on the big screen

Last night, at the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square, London, I watched JURASSIC PARK and JAWS back-to-back at a sellout screening. This is thirty five years after the release of 'Jaws,' and seventeen years after we first saw 'Jurassic Park' - and it left everyone in no doubt about the genius of Steven Spielberg. Not that there ever was any doubt.

For Jurassic Park, I was sitting in the front row, center. I was every bit of the 'Kid In The Front Row' I claim to be. It's funny because most of the time I claim my favourite films to be titles like 'Jerry Maguire' and 'The Apartment' -- but I think, when you come down to the essence of what it is to be a Kid In The Front Row, what you really mean is - someone who is down front and center during a Spielberg film, feeling every dull BOOM as the T-Rex gets nearer and nearer.

I have a theory; that films are always changing. I tried to explain this once before, and didn't really succeed. The thing that is amazing to me is how a film will never play the same way twice. 'Jaws' was different in '75 to how it is now. When we watch it today, we're aware that it is not modern day, and we're aware that the shark had problems during production, and we have 35 years more collective and individual life experience. What does this mean? I don't know. It just means-- the experience is different.

It's the same for every movie. Even when you watch them at home. 'Jurassic Park' will be different today to what it was two months ago. For one, you'll have the experience and knowledge that came from your last viewing. Also, the world will have changed a little. Maybe your cousin had a baby, and suddenly now, you find it a little more scary when the dinosaurs turn the kids upside down in the jeep, maybe two weeks ago you read an article in the New York Times about cloning animals, or about nearly extinct animals, and it changed your perspective slightly. Maybe you watched 'War Of The Worlds' and was disappointed, and that made you look closer at Spielberg's direction this time around. Maybe when you watched it two months ago you had a headache, and this time, instead, you have an annoying pain in your foot. The obvious thing to say is that we change. But also, the movies change. They grow older.

'Jaws' was always a funny film. But as it ages, it gets funnier. There are things that Quint says and does that wouldn't have raised laughs 35 years ago, but now his actions border on the hysterical for audiences. Scenes that were tense and dramatic when it originally screened still are, but in different ways. If you are in any doubt about the magic of Steven Spielberg - seeing these films in a packed out cinema with hundreds of adoring fans will soon put that to rest. The crowning moment, for me, was when a shocked Chief Brody delivered the immortal line "you're gonna need a bigger boat." The entire audience spontaneously cheered and applauded, and laughed. It was a wonderful, communal moment between strangers that, for those very few seconds, brought us much closer together. It was a moment of joy, a moment of magic and a moment that acknowledges the importance of what Spielberg, Schneider and co achieved with this film.

There is no guarantee that an audience will react in that way every time 'Jaws' is screened. It's the un-plannable magic of having the right people, in the right place, at the right time. Plus, you can't help but feel, 'Jaws' was having a good night, it was ready to perform. But then, 'Jaws' is always like that. Some films have good days and bad days, but not 'Jaws.'

All I'm really saying is: It was great to see these old friends again on the big screen. They really reminded me of what it is to be a true Kid In The Front Row.

Care to share?

The Kid In The Front Row Guide To Dating Actresses

Don't do it.

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Hiding Away With Old Friends

When you're on your own, too tired to concentrate, and you feel the urge to pull out an old favorite DVD - one that doesn't make you think but instead makes you feel completely comfortable, content and understood.. what film is it, and why?

Mine is 'Beautiful Girls.'

Tell me yours.

Care to share?