Thursday 3 May 2012

THE SON OF NO ONE - Film Review (DVD)

I love this movie.

I have yet to find anyone else who shares my opinion, but screw it. And yes, I'm probably a bit biased, because I've always been a bit of a Dito Montiel fanboy. 'A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints' is one of my all time favourite films.

'The Son Of No One' crashed at the box office, never made it to the cinema in Europe, and has received negative reviews everywhere.

But it resonates with me. And that's all I can really care about. I'm a fan of Montiel's movies because of how they impact me personally. The emotion in the film is, at least to me, extremely real. And it bugs me that people are slamming the performances of Pacino, Tatum and Katie Holmes, because I think they were fantastic! 

As for me being biased; it's because I love the style, I love the stories, I love the team he has around him. The music Jonathan Elias and David Wittman created, it seeps right into me. How to describe it? There's just something about their sound --- the subtlety of it, the rawness. It has truth in it. And you know what I think about Jake Pushinsky's editing. Also, the way the movie was shot by 
Benoît Delhomme, I felt like I was right there! I felt the same with '..Saints'. Dito has a way of placing you right in the heart of the movie. I didn't grow up in New York, I was never involved in crime; but these movies feel like they were about me. There are precious few filmmakers who can achieve this feeling; and that's why I crave it. 

The film seamlessly flows between the present and the past (a similar device was used in 'A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints') - and again, and sorry to overuse this word, but it
resonates. It's just the way I am, the way my brain works -- I'm in the present moment but always conscious and present in where I came from, who I was. The structure of this film, the way it's edited, it feels extremely natural to me.

A few issues bugged me at first. I don't know if they had problems with the sound mix, because there was a heap of dialogue I couldn't make sense of. Either it got better after a while, or it stopped being important to me, because I sank right into it and had no complaints. 

'The Son Of No One' is like a great crime novel; the character gets deeper and deeper into the shit, to the point where he has nowhere to turn, no-one who can make it okay. And gradually it unfolds that the whole police force is corrupt and working to protect him. The film ends with him having to make a decision -- to figure out where his loyalty lies, and it's riveting. 

But look, I'm wise enough to know that if a film gets trashed to the extreme this film has been trashed -- then it must be less than perfect. But I don't see the prejudice of my bias as a bad thing, I just see it for what it is -- I bring myself into the movies I watch. Who I am and how I process the world, and art, it's there in the room with me. And something about 'Son Of No-one', 'A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints' and (to a lesser extent) 'Fighting' really works for me. I respond to the emotion in them, I relate to the characters and the predicaments. Most importantly of all; the watching of these films completely grabs my attention and won't let me go. 

Care to share?

Wednesday 2 May 2012

What Do The Failures Add Up To?

I'm having one of those nights.

It was years ago and I had this idea, a concept that a producer loved. He said "let's make it!" So I signed some dumb contract, for no money, and he immediately got in another producer and they tried to completely rework my idea.

And they'd come back to me with ideas and suggestions. They'd send me away to write new drafts and treatments and all sorts of nonsense.

Looking back, it was all a pile of amateur nonsense. But that was a year of my life.

Then I was a producer on a movie. Not really, though, that was just the name they gave it, unofficially. It was never in writing. I cringe even writing that. Why are we dumb enough to do things that aren't in writing?

My 'producer' role entailed casting most of the actors, organizing schedules, and basically being the dude who people moaned at before, during and after the shoot. So I got all the bullshit, but I had no power! We'd fall behind schedule or someone would need some money so they'd come to me. But I was just the powerless guy. A glorified production assistant with a phantom 'producer' title, running the show yet not really running the show at all. The director was the one calling the shots. He was the real producer, too. But he'd use me for the paperwork and phone calls and bringing people together. But when I'd say "we need to move on!", it'd hold no weight.

Nothing happened with the film for years. And I got more and more phased out. I think they finished it and I'm pretty sure I don't even have a credit. That was two years of my life.

I tried putting a feature film together for me to direct. We got close, real close. But there were so many roadblocks. After numerous renewals of the option agreement - despite casting it, crewing it and rehearsing it, the producers had been unable to raise the money. I didn't renew the option, and walked. That was two years of my life.

The film industry is tough because so often, people are certain you're doing nothing. But you know better, so you dedicate yourself to something you believe in. But when it falls to pieces, you end up with no product. And you have no money in your pocket.

I blame no-one. Sometimes it was bad luck, sometimes I was foolish and naive. And you know what I hate? When actors say "you have it so easy, cause you can create your own work, but actors have to suffer". I've heard that so many times, and it's so hugely ignorant.

We're all failing one project at a time, and the truth is; the longer you spend on something, the harder it is to pick yourself up after it crashes. True accomplishment comes from delayed gratification, the longer projects. When you write a tweet, or a blog, the good feeling comes instantly, your work is done! When you plan a movie and work at it for two years -- and fail, the blow is so huge because the delayed gratification gets delayed indefinitely.

And with no positive outcome, you're left alone with it. And deep down you fear that anyone who ever thought you were talentless or over-reaching is absolutely right.

So you rush to produce something new. You plan to write a masterpiece immediately. You force yourself to do it right. But hold on: Rush? Immediate? Force? These things are unnatural, and you kill your creativity.

You have to remain fresh. You have to feel the joy. That's the only way you create anything that resonates. It's like when actors carry the resentful residue of a hundred rejections into their next audition, they turn people off. It's just like a guy desperate for sex after years without it, he emits something that repels. That's how it is with nearly every aspect of creativity. You have to get past the rejections and depressions and failures that have become internalized. Every new project has to be NEW! The let downs of the past are just the past, and you've learned so much from them!

Don't over-identify with your failures. We're all going through them, and they're not as personal as they seem. It's just what happens, and you're better equipped the next time.

So you take a deep breath. You open final draft. You begin writing a new screenplay.

Care to share?

FILM TRAILERS in the Front Row - May 2012

'Chernobyl Diaries'

I like the look of this, mostly because I've always been fascinated by Chernobyl. I've always said I'll go visit, too. It's one of those great mysteries, exciting and a little terrifying. What could be more fascinating than a ghost town?

Anyways; I've never been. By the time I do make the journey, I guess it will be old hat. Especially after this movie comes out, everyone will be wanting to visit. Radiation-wise, it's getting less and less risky. A few years back, it was dead. Now, people are trickling through.

This movie looks cool, and that's about all. But worth checking out, if only for the setting.

'Girl in Progress'

Reminds me of 'Spanglish'. I'm not the target audience, so it's perhaps wrong for me to share opinions. All I have to add is 'Mendes is hot lolzzz', which is not particularly insightful. It's great to see Patricia Arquette on screen - I haven't seen her in ages. I get the sense this movie might be better than the trailer suggests. Worth a risk?

'Last Call At The Oasis'

Environmental documentaries piss me off. They're always so self-righteous and condescending! But then again, they need to be, because I'm definitely the target audience. An English dude who never thinks about his water usage. But how to get the message through to my dumb head? Unfortunately, it's not documentaries like this. These kinds of films preach to the converted, but it's going to take more skill to get through to the ignorant.

'Your Sister's Sister'

 Lynn Shelton is one of those Mumblecore filmmakers. As Greg Mottola said a few months back, "As someone who loves movies and has very little free time, I can't figure out which fucking mumblecore movie to see." When Lynn Shelton is directing them; that doesn't neccessarily mean you should see it. Although she did make 'Humpday', which is fantastic. And it stars Mark Duplass, who is one of my favourite actors. So yeah, you should watch it. And also, these aren't massively successful filmmakers raking in millions of dollars. You and me going to see these movies and spreading the word, it makes a big difference.

'Apartment 143' 

Just another flick riding the 'Paranormal Activity' wave. 

'This Is 40'

I think this trailer sucks. But I think it will be a good movie. I trust in Judd Apatow; he knows what he's doing. 'Funny People' got mixed reviews, but I really connected to it. And I love how Leslie Mann's career has gone in recently years. This will be fun, right? 

'Take This Waltz'

The trailer has 'this-is-an-indie-film' music. And it has that warm this-is-an-indie-film cinematography. I guess that after the big hits, Rogen and Williams need to feel human again. Williams is so good. And although this runs the risk of being your typical white-people-hang-around-figuring-out-their-angst crap, there's enough talent for it to potentially be something great. And I love this line from Sarah Silverman: "Life has a gap in it, it just does. Don't go crazy trying to fill it."

'Hide Away'

I'm not sure this trailer makes any sense. Are they going for mysterious -- or is there just no story? These types of movies struggle to get an audience. If it's good, I hope it gets the support and release it needs. But I'm just not sure where it will find an audience. Based on the trailer, I'm not sold. 

'Tyler Perry's: Madea's Witness Protection'

Can I confess something? I don't know anything about Tyler Perry! Never seen one of his movies. From what I know, he's a hugely successful filmmaker, who everyone seems to hate. I guess my opinions have been swayed over the years and stopped me from watching his work. I want to watch his stuff; shall I wait for this, or is there an older film I should look at first? 


Okay, another film about white-people-sitting-around-figuring-their-shit-out. But it seems kind of aware of that fact, which makes it a bit more okay somehow. I think I'll probably enjoy this; I relate to the trailer. I don't connect, but I relate. There's hope. 


This is not my kind of movie. I know it should be. But it isn't. I can't change who I am. 

Everyone I know is excited about this. The hype is working, and it's probably justified. But I couldn't care less! I struggled to sit through 'Alien'. I'm just not a sci-fi guy. Have I ever written about a sci-fi movie on this blog? Probably not. I'd love to be part of it; I've always secretly had a little bit of a longing to be in with the mainstream, to be a part of these things; but it just doesn't click, I'm sorry!

'The Five Year Engagement'

Have any of you seen this movie yet? The trailer is kind of entertaining in that typical-rom-com-we've-seen-it-all-before way. Worth seeing?

'Goodbye First Love'

First love is such a fascinating thing. I mean, the stories are always so predictable -- but EVERYONE can relate! And this movie looks so well shot, in such intriguing locations. And we instantly assume all foreign films are masterpieces anyway, so possibly this will be very good, It looks it!

'The Magic of Belle Isle'

Morgan Freeman is at that age where we start to get really concerned about what he's being cast in -- because he doesn't have another fifty years to make a masterpiece. It has to happen now. 'The Magic of Belle Isle' isn't going to be a masterpiece, but it has the potential to be wonderful. Rob Reiner is a terrific director - and his films connect. This trailer is wonderfully watchable, and it has Fred Willard in it, which is always a good sign. 

'The Art Of Rap'

Rap is over. Pretty soon it'll be like rock 'n roll, desperate to still be relevant even though the world has moved on. But the impact of rap was undeniable - we see it all around us. This documentary looks like a must see. I'm in awe of the creativity within the rap community; I want to get closer to it. I want to understand it. Hopefully this film will take me there. 

'Now Is Good'

This trailer got through to me. A cancer movie for teenagers with a simplistic 'live life now' message; but it resonated. I was watching it in the cinema yesterday before watching 'Headhunters' --- and I was sitting there thinking "Shit! Life is really short! I need to be having adventures! I need to figure my crap out! I need to meet people!" -- That feeling comes along every now and then, but the important thing is what we do with it. 

I just watched the same trailer again now, and it didn't have the same impact. But I'll go see the movie. 

'Beasts of the Southern Wild'

Now this is intriguing. 

'Hope Springs' 

The trailer is OK. It's the cast that draws us in. Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones & Steve Carell have a knack for doing quality movies. This has potential, but the trailer is kind of average. I'm up for seeing it though. How about you?

Care to share?

Tuesday 1 May 2012

The Popcorn Situation

We need to do something before it gets out of hand. Today I bought a large popcorn, and most of it ended up on my t-shirt. Worst of all; I have no idea how it happened.

When I buy a chocolate bar, or perhaps when I am munching on a chicken drumstick, I can always get the food in my mouth, no question. The popcorn however, always ends up on my clothing. It also finds its way onto the floor. How is this happening, and who is responsible?

On my next cinema visit I am considering pouring the entire bag of popcorn all over my body. Not because I have a bizarre fetish, but to see if any of it miraculously ends up in my mouth.

I am also disappointed with the fact that they sell the popcorn before the movie, knowing full well that it will all be gone before the trailers have finished. I think that they should withhold the popcorn until halfway through the movie, at which point they should deliver it to your seat (or pour it on the floor near you).

There also needs to be a regulation put in place regarding exactly how much popcorn you are expected to share with the girlfriend. It should perhaps be recommended that they buy their own popcorn, or if they must steal, it should be limited to two small handfuls, or simply that they are allowed the crumbly bits that have fallen onto their boyfriend's jeans.

An alternative to all of this is a complete ban on popcorn. This would mean less food in the cinema, but will possibly enable you to afford a new car.

Care to share?

My AMERICAN PIE FRANCHISE Reviews, Opinions & Interviews

Below are links to all of my articles on the films from the 'American Pie' franchise. 

"Watching it again reminded me of how much I loved it. I know every line of dialogue. I've probably seen this film twenty five times. I realised how some of the dialogue and funny lines are things I say in real life; they've become embedded in me. I'd forgotten where they came from. Isn't it amazing how movies do that? They become part of your DNA."
Read my thoughts HERE

"This film is nowhere near as strong as the original. Having said that, some moments are HILARIOUS. I'd totally forgotten about Jim gluing himself to himself with one hand, and to the 'Pussy Palace' VHS in the other. That whole sequence is golden."
Read the full article HERE

"We love the characters. And there are moments in 'Wedding' where we go with them. But a lot of this film, it just doesn't work, it's not funny. I want to love every second of it, really; I do, but it's hard!"
Read my full review HERE

"I am uneasy being this negative about films, but these are genuinely atrocious. I wouldn't even make my ex-girlfriend sit through them. PLEASE AVOID THESE MOVIES AT ALL COSTS!!!!!"
Read the many reasons I dislike these movies HERE

"It was steeped in nostalgia and in-jokes, yet at the same time, it had a freshness and a joyfulness which lifted it above many other films in the series. The most important thing, for me, is that I had a smile on my face throughout the thing. What more could you want?"
 Read my review of the new movie HERE

JON HURWITZ: "It’s funny. A lot of reviews bring the reviewers own perspective before they walk into a movie. The best reviewers judge a movie for what it is. That doesn’t mean everyone has to love all of our movies. I mean, sometimes I read a review where they didn’t like the movie, and I’m like ‘Oh, I get why..’."
Read my interview with the writers and directors of AMERICAN PIE: REUNION, right HERE

Care to share?