Thursday, December 31, 2009

Lions and tigers and snow...

I don't know how clear I can make this - I HATE the cold.  And with the cold, comes the snow.  I like playing in the snow, but if it means that it is cold out when it is snowing then I can live the rest of my life without ever seeing snow again.

75-85 and sunny.  Blue skies.  Clean streets.  Freshly cut lacrosse fields.  That is happiness.

Notice the beach in the background.  Heaven.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Gay Marketing

AOL ran an article today discussing the 'Valentine's Day' trailer and how it eroneously omitted the relationship between Bradley Cooper and Eric Dane's characters.  Claiming that it was wrong to do so. 

I understand the argument... which can be two-fold.  First, it is somewhat false advertising.  False advertising may be a bit harsh, it is more like half-truth advertising.  Although the article would have you believe the former... because apparently we the audience should believe Cooper and Julia Roberts are linked because they are sitting next to each other on a plane.  Secondly, and the one I'm sure they're more pissed about, the gay storyline is the one that got omitted from the trailer.  What if he wound up with some other chick, would they be writing an article about how Cooper's storyline wasn't in the trailer and this was misleading to audiences?  Clearly they believe that society is at a point where gay men and women should be accepted, and not only accepted but embraced. 

This is ridiculous on a few levels.  The reality is that they are just not as accepted across America as they would like.  I don't agree with this, as a person's sexuality is exactly that - theirs.  Who cares who someone else is sleeping with or decides to fall in love with?  Unfortunately, a lot of people do.  Acceptance has come a long way, but we're just not there yet. 

Straight men just absoultely, 100% do not care about nor want to see homosexuality portrayed onscreen in a romantic comedy.  Being accepting of homosexuality and embracing it are not the same thing.  So, of course the studio is going to downplay this aspect of the film.  It may very well be the most intriguing and interesting relationship in the film. That is all well and good, but it will not sell tickets.  It will only hurt box office. 

We make movies to make money.  When you are lucky enough to make a film, you have an obligation to that film and whoever finances it to get as many eyeballs on the film as you possibly can - and that usually means putting forth the most effective marketing campaign (or trying to at least).  Anyone that is doing this strictly for art is either fabulously wealthy or obscenely poor.  And chances are they are making movies no one will ever see.  That is not a judgement on them or their films.  It is just an honest opinion.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Big Nana... Nana Gertie... I will miss you forever.

On December 22, my nana passed away.  I don't want to write anything about how great she was or who she was or what she did - because that will only cheaper what she meant to me.

I will just say that I loved her with all of my heart and will miss her more and more everyday.  The world already seems like an emptier place.

Love you Big Nana.

Movie Review: Blindside

Not much to say about this somewhat bland, but well-done feel good movie of the year.  I can't stand Sandra Bullock, because she is always playing the same character - but I found myself a big fan of her in this movie.  And that is ultimately what made me like it.

I couldn't stand the token precocious and outgoing little kid.  I wanted to punt him.  This little rat is making his highlight reel?

Some liberties were taken with the story in terms of logic to make for a better movie, and these bothered me.  Besides the little rat, there are stacks of mail and voicemails from coaches and the husband doesn't realize this is going on?  Seems far-fetched.

He's at practice, his first day - and they are going right into play calling?  No drilling for him?  No assistant coaches offering instruction?  This kid has never played a down of football before and the head coach is yelling at him from up on a scaffolding?  He's been in school for half a year and he hasn't done a single thing related to football?

Also, what the heck happened to his boy from the first scene?  The one he's playing basketball with?  And the guy that gets him into school?  WTF?

Movie Review: Freddy vs. Jason

I wasn't going to write about this complete piece of shlock, but felt that I needed to vent.  Wasn't there a studio executive, or multiple studio executives on this?  Did they read the script?

At no point, at any second was this scary or even close to scary.  It wasn't even that gory.  It was just lame. Complete with mediocre chicks, the Jay and Silent Bob stoner clone, the fat drunk/smoker who somehow thinks he's awesome but in real life would get beat up for being this big of a douchebag.

Some kid gets killed at a house with another group of kids and they all go to school the next day.  Not only that, but they go to a rave that night.  Exactly.  Makes no sense.

Did I mention that the kid who gets killed's best friend gets killed along with his dad before the rave?

And it just keeps getting worse from there.  Throw in Robert Englund hamming it up as Freddy and you have one of the worst films I've seen in years.

Oh... did I also mention there is a scene where Freddy plays pinball with Jason's body in a warehouse?  Sound effects and all.


Movie Review: He's Just Not That Into You

I spent a lot of time watching movies the last few days.  It's one of the best things, for me, about the holidays.  When football or lacrosse is not on, family will sit through movies.  It's better than playing charades.

So, I watched a movie I probably would never sit through in 'He's Just Not That Into You'.  And I can say it wasn't a waste of my time.  It started off well, but then became a chick flick.  And I mean that in the worst way.  Obviously written by a female and/or gay guys, it became an ugly/nerd girl's dating fantasy.  Particularly the Justin Long/Ginnifer Goodwin storyline.  Never happen.  Sorry nerds.

And I must say that Kevin Connelly was completely miscast.  How are we going to believe that he used to go out with Scarlet Johannson?  And after a date with Ginnifer Goodwin she falls for him?  He seems like a nice guy, but come on.  Seriously?  Besides that it was well-cast and well-acted.

I find myself wishing the guy who co-wrote it was more of a guy.  It would have been a much better movie, consistent with the Bradley Cooper storyline.  He was a guy who acted like a guy and had shit fall apart on him.  And kept on being a normal guy.

Special mention to film 'living'.  Connelly and Long live together in what would probably be a multi-million dollar apartment.  Straight out of American Psycho.

Movie Review: Law Abiding Citizen

I have to admit, in the trailer/commercials when they tell us that Gerard Butler has been taking people out while still inside the jail - I was intrigued.  But I have a real distaste for Jamie Foxx.  I love him in certain roles, like Any Given Sunday... but him playing Denzel Washington doesn't interest me.  And, although I'd say this was okay and kept my interest throughout, it was Foxx that ultimately lost it for me.

To be fair, he was pretty good in the movie.  It was his character that bothered me.  He's a lawyer.  A state prosecutor to be exact.  And he's chasing Gerard Butler's character.  However, Butler is only exacting revenge for the death of his family - a revenge he had to exact because of Foxx's lawyering/deal cutting.  So, I never once sided with Foxx.  And then, as all of this is going down - he almost becomes a cop/SWAT team member/homicide detective.  Why is he investigating these murders?  Why is he the first one on these murder scenes?  Why is he even at a crime scene?  He's a prosecutor.  It just didn't make sense.  And this really, really bothered me.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Harbor Moon Artwork Finished!!

We've finished the artwork (and website) for Harbor Moon.  The only thing left to do is prep the book for printing.  I am still unsure when Arcana wants to release the book, but will let everyone know through here, the website and the Harbor Moon facebook page.

It came out great.  Really want to thank Karol Wisniewski, who runs the studio in Poland where it got done, for holding it together the whole way and being an invaluable resource.  You are truly a saint among hookers and thieves.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Love, Death & Family

I just went through one of the more harrowing experiences of my life and thought I would share it now, while it was still fresh in my head and heart.

Last night I slept at my grandparent's house because they are at the point where they need someone there full-time.  It should really be a nurse or someone more qualified, but it's just not that simple.  My grandma was in bed when I got there and my grandpa was watching Fox News, and we blasted the Democrats for a good hour before he decided to turn in.  I was pretty wiped out from Saturday night so I fell asleep during the fourth quarter of the Giant's game.

At about 2:00am I heard some noise so I woke up.  I knew that my grandpa gets up a lot during the night to go to the bathroom, so I was ready for this.  So, he went to the bathroom and was fine. 

Just after 4:00am, I heard noises again.  It was my grandpa getting up to go to the bathroom again, so I laid back down.  Then about 10 minutes last I heard a weak female voice saying 'Help me.'  It was 4 am and no one is super sharp then, so it took me a second to get up.  As I was walking towards my grandma's room my grandpa was yelling from the bathroom.  He was coming, but he was going to the bathroom.  And I guess he was at the sink and got his pajama pants soaked (did I mention he's blind?) and was struggling in there.

I get to my grandma's door and in the darkness she's sitting on the edge of her bed... Her face pale in the moonlight and sunken in.  Her legs are so skinny they look like pipes.  Even at 83, she's managed to keep her hair through radiation, and it wasn't until this moment that I truly realized that my nana is very sick.  She's got a blank look on her face and she has no idea where she is.  She recognizes me immediately, which is good.  I ask her why she's trying to get out of bed and she has no idea.  But she weighs less than 80 lbs now and is very weak, so she can't get back in bed.  So I help swing her legs over.  And she's crying out, 'Ow' the whole time.  She has osteoporosis as well and it is mostly affecting her spine.  Her back pain has recently become unbearable for her.  It's terrifying and sad all at the same time.  She's clutching my hand and her grip is very tight for someone with zero meat on their bones.  I don't know what to do, other than gently rub her back and tell her it is going to be okay.  But I'm not sure myself that it is.

My grandpa walks in, or tries to, about then and I tell him it is okay.  My nana loosens her grip and I slowly slink out of the room and help my grandpa back to his bed. 

I make it back to the couch, but sleep doesn't come.  I am afraid to fall asleep in case I miss her calling out.  Every creak, every thump of the heater causes me to jerk up.  My grandpa gets up another 3 times throughout the night, but I'm in a trance until about 7:30 when I finally hear it again... My nana calling for 'help'.  I stagger to her room, but she's standing in the kitchen.  She looks lost and in shock to see me.  She's got her top on, but no pants and it is cold.  And her oxygen isn't on her. I lead her back to her bed and help her get pants on.  I make her tea and she tries to eat, but can't.  The pain in her back comes on strong.  She's almost in tears and she wants to know where my mom or my aunt are.  I feel completely helpless.  I talk her back into bed and rub her back gently until she's able to drift back to sleep until my grandpa wakes up around 9:00. 

And then she's up as if the last hour and a half never happened.  Ready for her morning tea and breakfast.

I appreciate and cherish every second I get to spend with her and my grandpa.  And in turn, have come to appreciate all the time I get to spend with my own parents.  I'm not the type of person who had a crappy childhood or ever rebelled against my parents. No one has supported me more or been there for me like they have. Everything I've ever accomplished on a sports field, in the classroom or in film/print - I owe to them.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hollywood Black List - Congrats Dikran

Universal film executive Franklin Leonard released his THE BLACK LIST today. Compiled every year from the suggestions of 311 film executives, each contributes the names of up to ten of their favorite scripts that were written in, or are somehow uniquely associated with, 2009 and will not be released in theaters during this calendar year. This year, scripts had to receive at least five mentions to be included.

Link to full list courtesy of Deadline Hollywood Daily

Special congratulations to Dikran Ornekian, a 2004 Peter Stark classmate of mine and co-writer of Harbor Moon with me.  His script, The Ghost and the Wolf, written with Rylend Grant, finished with 7 votes.  That was good enough to put it 53rd out of 97 scripts.  He's on his way to a huge career and this is only the beginning.

I have some reservations with this list - in that it is basically a marketing tool for your projects if you are an executive.  The idea is that you vote for the 10 best scripts you read.  But these execs are voting for and lobbying for projects they are associated with to catch the heat of being on the list.  Which makes it all the more incredible that a project that isn't set-up at a studio or with a producer - or even has an agent - makes it on (such as The Ghost and the Wolf).

Movie Review: Quarantine

I will keep this one short, as there isn't much to say about it.  I was up late last night working and happened to catch this on HBO.  Uninspiring to say the least.  It brings nothing new to the genre, isn't very exciting or terrifying and goes for the lame first person narrative through a camera technique. 

Jennifer Carpenter, who I have grown to like on Dexter, cries and wails and moans her way through this - making me question what dailies the director/producers were watching.  It just gets annoying after a while.  Minutes after the 'outbreak' in fact.  'What the fuck is going on here?' through sobs and wails a thousand times gets old.  This would have played better as a short... Then again, would anyone have cared either way?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

TV: Jersey Shore

Holy Shit!  This is a complete trainwreck. 

How on earth did they not get better looking girls for this show?  They may have cast the ugliest 4 chicks in the northeast.  It makes it extremely hard to get any enjoyment out of this.  Their frumpy bodies and beat faces make this show terribly unfunny.  I almost feel bad for them. 


It is just about exactly what it appears to be sold as.  With one caveat - only 2 of the 8 people are ACTUALLY from New Jersey.  As an Italian American, they are an ugly cancerous sore on a proud people - but if I was from New Jersey I would be angry.  Seething with venom and frothing at the mouth.  These people are the absolute lowest common denominator. 

While it amuses me that each chick thinks they are hot, it only lasts for a few minutes.  Then anger sets in.  The best part of the show are the highlights from this upcoming season - the best being when Snickers gets lit up by some guy at what looks like Surf Club. 

I mean - KNOCKED THE FUCK OUT.  I had to rewind it about 30 times to really appreciate the shot to the chops she got. 

Poor Snickers. 

And there are a few bombs dropped on the dude's faces as well.  Shit happens when you walk around like a tough guy and you have fake beach muscles.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Movie Review: Brothers

I went in thinking this was a Lifetime movie with a good cast and a theatrical release.  However, it is much better than that.  While I'm not nominating it for my best of list, it is much more than a sappy war drama.  Brothers is a sad tale about loss, and the power of love.  The trailers do a horrible job of portraying what is really going on here.  They make it seem like Jake Gyllenhal's character winds up falling in love with and sleeping with his brother Sam's (Tobey Maguire) wife Grace (Natalie Portman).

David Benioff does a good job with the script in making this darker than we expected, and thus more realistic.  And while it seems they fall for each other, it is brief and the love they feel for Sam keeps them apart.  When Sam returns from being a POW he is a bit off-kilter and slowly pulls himself inward, lashing out at his wife and brother - thinking they were sleeping together.

And where most films would move towards a ridiculous climax, Brothers hits us with a knockout punch of emotion without going completely overboard.

Even better, my buddy Paul Davis worked on the film.  He told me to go see it thinking it would be a film I'd love to hate.  Apparently I've calmed down a bit since USC.

Movie Review: Good Night, and Good Luck

A fine piece of cinema from George Clooney.  Obviously well-cast, and superbly acted.  A small slice of American journalism history, but not the most exciting or dramatic tales ever told.

Love that guy who killed Laura Palmer (Ray Wise).

My Oscar Hopes

My first feature as a producer, BATTLE FOR TERRA, is in the mix for an Oscar nomination for 'Best Animated Feature'.

The Hollywood Reporter just put out a piece on the front-runners, contenders, and long shots. 

Hollywood Reporter - "A look at the 20 animated films in contention this season"

Pretty awesome that they have us as a 'contender', and I happen to agree with their spot on commentary in regard to the film.  It is far from perfect, but I think very few people realize just  how little we made that film for.

Time and budget constraints dash even the highest hopes.  In the end, the aliens did look rather bland.  But if you look at Mala, she's well-developed.  We just didn't have the manpower for the rest of them.  So they all look the same.  And the humans are atrocious.  We would have been better going with a more cartoony look, rather than the wanna-be life-like way they were treated. 

At the end of the day, I think those animation details would have been forgiven if the script was any good.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Great Weekend

Armored tanked massively at the box office.  The Jets won Thursday night.  The Giants won yesterday.  Villanova crushed New Hampshire to move to the Semi-Finals of the I-AA Playoffs.  Anthony Brunetti became Holy Trinity's first ever Thorp Award winner as the best football player in Nassau County.  Harbor Moon has 3 pages left to color.  The website is a tweak or two away from being finished and operational.  One of the top indie producers in Hollywood is really interested in King of the Night.  A sharp up-and-coming producer with ties to money is interested in R.E.M.  My investment proposal for Spoke Lane Publishing went out to 20 new investors.  And my grandma is out of the hospital and in no pain.

All in all I'd say this is the best weekend I've had in a while.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Taylor Swift

Is there anything this girl can't do?  Granted, her skits on SNL that I saw were awful - but she's 19.  If I had a lamenated list, she'd be at the top.  By a landslide. 

Did I mention she was only 19?  Major bonus points.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights

This has been a much aligned season of the show... but after a slow start and some bad early fights I think it came on really strong at the end.  And I also think the best fighters wound up in the semi's and eventually the finale (on Saturday).

Kimbo got taken out early, but did anyone expect him to actually get very far?  And going against the most experienced and best all-around fighter on the show in Roy 'Big Country' Nelson he had no shot.  But he came off really well on the show and earned a lot of respect from MMA fans in the process.

For me, the person who looked like the biggest chump was James McSweeney.  The guy did nothing but run his mouth all show.  He gassed early in his first fight and got lucky when he caught Mittrione with a guillotine in their fight.  He was one shot away from being put to sleep.  Scott Junk, although he seemed like a good dude, claims that fighting was his life and he was the best hope for Team Rampage from the start - but lasted maybe 2 minutes in his first fight before completely gassing and getting owned by Matt Mittrione.

The two people who I think surprised the most were Marcus Davis and Brendan Schaub, both former NFL players.  Both were the two guys on the show that seemed that most down-to-earth and had their minds together.  Schaub seemed like a regular guy and I found myself rooting for him throughout.  It was only fitting that the semi-final bout was between these two.  And I think both impressed - but Davis is still learning (although he's much older than Schaub) - and Schaub put him out.

I know there are a lot of bad stoppages in MMA, but that fight was the exact opposite...  Davis looked out cold when he hit the mat and the ref didn't stop it so Schaub kept pounding.  Ouch.

Can't wait for the finale and there are some good fights on that card as well...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Movie Review: Ninja Assassin

This is what gets shit out when a 2nd Unit Action Director directs a movie.  And I don't want to blame McTeigue, because I thought 'V for Vendetta' was a really good first feature.  But that was based on a really strong book, and screenplay.

This, on the other hand, is a trainwreck from the script stage.  And thus, a trainwreck for us the viewers.  Complete with a completely underdeveloped love story, terrible acting (notably from Naomie Harris, who was horribly miscast), and plot holes and logic issues you could drive a truck through.  I don't even know where to begin...

Maybe with the whole premise of the movie.  Supposedly he gets betrayed by his clan.  But he is never betrayed.  In fact, he betrays them.  So, where's our sympathy for this guy?

It always bothers me in action movies when you build toward a climatic end battle, but there is the head honcho and the asshole righthand man.  And then you get two massive showdowns.  It doesn't make any sense.  If our hero has to fight both, the asshole righthand man needs to go down quickly or in an odd manner (think of Indiana Jones when he pulls out his gun and shoots the giant guy).

Speaking of asshole righthand man, they try to set up one here but it doesn't make much sense.  They have the other ninja with the eye scar.  Who the hell is this?  We never see him as he grows up.  And he kills the love interest, but only because he's told to.

Special shout out to the actor playing the Interpol Agent above Naomi.  Wow, talk about bad acting and a completely unnecessary character.  Him holding an Uzzi at the end is laughable, as is Naomi popping out of a Hummer with a gun.  In the previous scene, she goes on about how she is just a glorified librarian.  Great, so why the hell are you in this battle?

And the end battle - these ninjas who can hear a heartbeat didn't hear choppers and Hummers and all sorts of shit approaching this fort in the middle of nowhere?

And Reyso, our hero.  He struggles with his first kill, then moments later he's just so awesome that he's able to kill dozens of ninjas.  'Father' gives a speech about how he's the chosen one to take over for him - way too late, past the halfway point.  We should have had this speech early on.  And we should have seen Eye Scar Guy pissed about this.

I'm getting frustrated just writing this.

The action was sweet though.  And the ninjas moved awesome.

GoDaddy - 2 Thumbs Up

The site might be ugly and hard to navigate, but domain and web hosting service gets two thumbs up from me. 

They are inexpensive, which is always what everyone looks for first.  And I know some web developers dislike them, but I'm not a web developer.  I don't know much, or anything, about web development.  But anytime I've ever had a problem or question - their customer service has been amazing.  This applies to billing and technical issues.  More than once they have pointed out services that I did not need, or where they could have charged me to upgrade said - wait, another domain has this and you're not using it so why don't we just transfer it for you.  What other company would do that?  And when you do call customer service, there is very little wait time and the reps are knowledgeable and nice. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


So, there is a new blog in town... Scriptshadow.  Apparently, this mastermind reviews movies - before they're made.  Basically, he gets his hands on scripts and reviews them.

And people think this is a novel idea?

Anyone in Hollywood would know that this is called 'coverage'.  And people, mostly young writers or development interns, actually get paid to do this.

It sounds to me like this guy or girl (they go by a pseudonym) is an idiot.  Writing up coverage, in-depth coverage at that, for free.

I've never believed in coverage myself.  You're paying development executives to read a script or book to see if it has potential as a film.  That same development executive should be reading the script to see if the writer or writers have talent, for future projects, open writing assignments, etc...  And then they pass that script to someone who you probably have never met and paying them a small sum of money to critique this script when they themselves are most likely an aspiring writer or executive with no real credentials.  Why not just fire the development executive and hire the reader at a fraction of the cost?  Or why not do the job you were hired to do?

So if you're a development executive or anyone who reads scripts, and you actually visit Scriptshadow, then you should do yourself a favor and come up with your own opinion.