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Summer Movies 2014

This summer’s crop of movies seems a little lackluster to me.  Save for a couple big tent poles, there aren’t very many flicks over which I am convulsing with excitement.  But I am a creature of habit, and I need to pick the ten I most desire my eyeballs to latch onto, so without further ado…

10. HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2—I wasn’t interested in the first one at all when it was released in theaters four years ago.  Even the immense critical praise kept me at bay.  But then I caught it on TV, and I was floored over how much I enjoyed it.  Here’s hoping the sequel can retain much of the magic and all of the heart of the first one.

9. GET ON UP—I am a James Brown fan and have been since I was in diapers.  This thing could be made with poorly constructed clay figurines, and I would still be first in line, all because it’s about the Godfather of Soul.

8. THE FAULT IN OUR STARS—I loved the book.  Loved it.  But the trailer, as weepy and choked up as it made me, gave me pause.  The characters don’t speak like their age in the novel, but that’s forgivable.  To hear the words spoken out loud?  Ugh, groans, pretentious, over the top, shut up shut up shut up.  In other words, I’m scared this will end up being an overtly sentimental schlock fest full of preachy bullshit dialogue.  I pray I am wrong.

7. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2—another film I have reservations about.  I get the sense it’s going to be too crowded.  Crowded by villains, crowded by plot, by mythology, by the need to set up future sequels and spin-offs—just a bloated clustercuss of a superhero picture.  But it’s Spider-Man.  How can I not see a movie about Spider-Man?  In any case, I’m interested to see if they pull it all off.  I want to be pleasantly surprised.

6. A MILLON WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST—Seth MacFarlane makes me laugh.  I am not ashamed to admit this.  He’s an acquired taste, and an occasionally offensive one at that, but despite his hit-or-miss brand of humor, I’m amused more often than I am not.  Whether or not that bodes well for him as a leading man of flesh and bone as opposed to CGI stuffing and fur remains to be seen.  But I will be there to see it.

5. SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR—the original was a classic of novelty.  It was Robert Rodriguez at his wam-bam finest.  It was a movie that set out to be cool and nothing else, and somehow that was okay.  I expect nothing less from the sequel.

4. WISH I WAS HERE—Zach Braff may have lost some relevance as time after Scrubs has drawn on, but my love for Garden State, flaws and all, has never wavered.  This may look like an unofficial sequel, but so what?  Braff’s got a keen eye and ear and knows what he wants his stories to look and sound like on screen.  I want this to be something special.

3. GODZILLA—I know.  I’m surprised, too.  I am shocked, shocked, by how good this movie looks to me.  Action and terror with a purpose.  Potentially, anyway.  It could very well be yet another case of the trailer-makers putting their all into their work for an empty-headed feature, but dammit if that isn’t the whole point of going to movies in the first place.  It’s always going to be a coin flip.

2. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY—it’s going to be weird.  Silly.  Outlandish.  Ridiculous.  Ludicrous.  Jaw-droppingly stupid.  And I can’t wait.

1. X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST—this business with Bryan Singer is disheartening and disturbing, but the X-Men are my bread and butter.  I’ve wanted this story told for years (despite, ahem, never actually having read the, ahem, comic it is based on, ahem).  And, if for nothing else, I want to see if it fills in all those franchise continuity holes.  Hell, it looks like this alone has a few that need explaining.  Why is Charles Xavier walking?  Why does Hank McCoy look human and not Beastly?  I need to know!

What are some other summer movies that deserve a mention (even the ones that don’t)?

GOTTA GET MY PAWS ON THIS: 22 Jump Street, They Came Together, Boyhood

A LIGHT BRUSHING OF THE TIPS OF THE PAWS, PERHAPS: Neighbors, Chef, Jersey Boys

PROBABLY HAVE TO WASH MY PAWS SEVERAL TIMES BEFORE AND AFTER: Jupiter Ascending, Edge of Tomorrow, Maleficent

KEEP MY PAWS AWAY!  KEEP MY PAWS AWAY!: Blended, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Walk of Shame

It’ll be a hot one.  Let’s hope it’s not a dull one.

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Oooh, interesting…

(Source: popculturebrain)

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(Source: hollandes)

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down-the-up-staircase:

There are stories of coincidence and chance, of intersections and strange things told, and which is which and who only knows? And we generally say, “Well, if that was in a movie, I wouldn’t believe it.” Someone’s so-and-so met someone else’s so-and-so and so on. And it is in the humble opinion of this narrator that strange things happen all the time. And so it goes, and so it goes. And the book says, “We may be through with the past, but the past ain’t through with us.”

Magnolia (1999, Paul Thomas Anderson)

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thatwetshirt:

Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

Towards the end of Dallas Buyers Club, Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) returns to the Mexican hospital where he first received medications to effectively help him battle his HIV. Shortly after Ron and the doctor discuss a new possible treatment evolving from caterpillars Ron wanders into a back room full of monarch butterflies. Simultaneously back in Texas, his business partner, fellow HIV sufferer, and possibly the best friend Ron has ever had is succumbing to the aggressive disease. Rayon (played with perfection by Jared Leto) is a transgendered woman who never did get the sex change she wanted. Watching Ron among those possibly life-saving butterflies, as his best friend undergoes the ultimate cocoon transformation leaving her poor frail body behind, is the best kind of cinematic metaphor. (x)

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So is this going to be some Big Momma’s House 2-type situation?

(Source: popculturebrain)

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I’m in New York for the first time right now, and this was my first Broadway show.  And holy shit, did I choose well.  It is incredible.  I may need to give NPH a standing ovation any time I hear his name now.

I’m in New York for the first time right now, and this was my first Broadway show.  And holy shit, did I choose well.  It is incredible.  I may need to give NPH a standing ovation any time I hear his name now.

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Writing Update: That Sense of Entitlement

When I was around ten years old, I wanted to make a movie.  This was nothing new: my burgeoning creativity had welcomed many a convoluted story constructed from construction paper and those pages with the fat lines meant to make a child’s handwriting bulky, as though the teachers want surefire evidence that you can’t spell the word “cyclops” right there in big and bold print.  But I had an idea for a story that could only be told with moving images, specifically my collection of action figures puppeting around while my hands remained out of view.  I called it Destroy the Thing!  I know.  Great title.  I set out to writing the script, and I inserted many jokes into it, ones that could not be translated onto the screen.  Bold and italic lettering, parenthetical asides—it was something I took seriously, but I wasted no time in making myself laugh.  Suffice it to say, when my parents took a look at it, they both had the same qualms about its sloppiness, and when they expressed these views to me, I, in true young boy fashion, proceeded to give them the silent treatment for the rest of the day.  They were my parents.  How could they not support me?  Spoiled, spoiled little brat.

There’s a sense of entitlement when it comes to art, in this particular case, writing.  No matter how self aware you try to be with your stories, there’s always going to be someone out there who has something to say that is not necessarily “negative,” but most certainly isn’t “positive.”  And no matter how more experienced they are, no matter how good they know their shit and every bit of criticism they give you is only meant to be on the constructive side, it’s almost easier to get angry at them and cite “they didn’t get it” or “they weren’t paying attention” rather than face the truth yourself: there’s still work to be done.

I entered Consequences into the Slamdance screenwriting competition a few weeks ago.  I’d been on the lookout for a new contest to enter since I failed to place in the one put on by Zoetrope last fall, and Slamdance stuck out to me, mostly because they provided coverage, of which I am a fan.  Let me make that clear: I wanted coverage.  I wanted notes.  I wanted someone, some stranger, somebody who surrounds themselves with film from all corners, to take a look at my script, jot some stuff down and then share it with me.

Yesterday, that coverage arrived.  It has no bearing on how my screenplay will do in the contest, but what I read does not bode well for my chances.  It’s never a good omen when they list the genre as “drama,” when it’s a frickin’ comedy, albeit a black comedy, and I submitted as such, but whatever.  The notes: “Lack of real focus” and “no real active protagonist” were the notes that hit me in the face the hardest, probably because they’re the ones I disagree with the most.  Don’t get me wrong, there were definitely many items that were good points, but because the overall tone of the coverage was “it’s good, but not great,” my initial instinct is to vilify whichever jackass wrote this as they completely missed the point of the entire story and blah blah blah vanity vanity vanity.

I’m a perfectionist.  I know there is no such thing as “perfect,” but I need things to be perfect anyway, especially my writing.  I finally got Consequences to a place where I couldn’t see any smudges, anything that needed to be changed, rearranged, or exorcised completely.  But the fact of the matter is that there are things that could be fixed.  Granted, this is all coming from the opinion of one faceless person, and other faceless people are bound to have their own takes, possibly similar, possibly drastically different.  But besides my friends, with whom I can discuss my stories face to face(book?), I have yet to come across someone who really gets what Consequences is about, and instead of taking a step back and examining the flaws within myself, I blame them for the imperfection they’ve suddenly thrust into my arms, become bitter, and then predictably fall into a stupor of self-pity and questions over whether or not I’m actually a good writer.

I know I am.  But there’s always a fear of delusion, that American Idol­-esque misunderstanding where the bad singer has been told by everyone close to them that they are great, so to hear a lambasting from three professionals is more than jarring.  Because it just can’t be true.  It can’t!  Artists are constantly seeking approval.  They need to be validated time and time again that they are good.  But it’s just not true for everyone.  And no matter how much you tell yourself that you’re not one of those people who are just flat out wrong, there’s a good chance that you are.  There’s a good chance that I am.  At least, I’m not made out for the film industry.  And that just fills my stomach with bile and pine needles, a stew of dread.

So, where to go from here?  Keep writing, obviously; I’ll never stop.  But contests may not be the way to go.  I may need to start actually putting my material out there, more out there, not just within the offices of some film festival organization, but to you, the viewing public, who are starving for anything that will take your minds of the world for a few minutes.  I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a big group of talent during the improv classes I’ve been taking the last year, and there’s always been talk about creating some kind of internet video presence.  Maybe it’s about time we actually do something.  Chances are it will be the greatest thing ever created.

Right?

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wildlingprince:

"Joaquin Phoenix’s Commodus in Gladiator was certainly an inspiration for my characterization of Joffrey, that had a big impact, the smirk. It’s interesting sometimes  when an audience can empathize with a villain. But to get completely lost in it, it’s exciting just to be intrinsically evil and not to have a speck of good or humanity in their bones."- Jack Gleeson  (x)

I totally see it now.

(via theacademy)

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(Source: animation-magic)