Thursday, November 27, 2008

Before Moulin Rouge....

I'll admit I got nothing this interesting thoughts worth brilliant or even not so brilliant bits of wisdom at the top of the brain --- no posts leaping to mind at all.

It just is what it is. And the depressing industry news hitting us from all sides isn't helping either.

So instead I'm taking a moment to marvel at the genius that was Coppola...and trying to even grasp making The Godfather, The Conversation, The Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now, and One From The Heart in a nine year span during the mid/late '70's.

Waits + Gayle + Coppola. It was such a visual and musical feast, yet so overlooked and underrated...

The opening:

And the closing...

Not a perfect movie by any means, but And it's melancholy mood accurately reflects the prevailing winds round here these days.

For those feeling a little blue, or the pinch of a battered economy, or especially those in our business getting laid off of late...I'm sorry.

That one's from the heart.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Requiem For Lux Aeterna, Puh-leaze...

A stylistic tale of substance abuse and addiction, Requiem For A Dream is a wicked wicked film (I'll cop to borrowing at least a couple of director Darren Aronofsky designed shots for stuff I directed...can you say SnorriCam?). But the picture is probably most memorable for its score, composed by Clint Mansell, and most notably the piece Lux Aeterna aka Requiem For A Tower.

But let's give it a rest people! It's not only been reused in the trailers for The Two Towers, Spider, The Divinci Code, I Am Legend, Sunshine (the list goes on and on)...but in tv shows, video games, and commercials as well! Most recently here in Canada, it's been blasting from the speakers in every movie theatre in town during pre-previews in a Telus ad entitled, not surprisingly, 'Epic'.

Gak. Enough already.

I bought this soundtrack shortly after seeing Arnophsky's masterpiece, and loved listening to it...letting it wash over me... move me...inspire me. But now I can't put it on anymore. Whenever I do, all I see are hobbits and meerkats and Tom Hanks with long hair.

C'mon movie studio trailer producers and commercial advertising houses...compose something original, and let Lux Aeterna die a noble death.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Friday Fun with Ian McKellan on Extras hilariously instructing Ricky Gervais in the art of 'pretending'.

"How did I know what I was supposed to say? The words were written down for me in a script."

Because it makes me smile...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Making TV Thought Food

I love it when a post spawns comments that make me go 'Hmmm...", like the last one did.

"The promotion of "death" episodes as well as episodes where you're told somebody will break-up, get bad news, lose their job etc robs the viewer of the full experience of the moment."


"These days, with seasons of 13 episodes (or less), it's short term writing, more bang than substance, less quality, and ultimately, less satisfaction and viewer loyalty."


"If a surprise death happens on Canadian TV and no one is watching, does it even exist?"


"There comes a point in time you realize you are only writing for the crew..."

If you've been doing this for any length of time in Canada, you've been there for that last one...and it hurts.


I may have to go lie down.

EDIT: I feel the need to clarify after seeing 'Dolly's" comment about only writing for the crew getting discussed in comments today of a DMc post.

Of course you write for the crew. They're your first 'audience', so to speak...your biggest fans and harshest critics. And that in and of itself doesn't hurt or is sad. But when it's "only" for the crew....when you know that the network doesn't seem to care and show isn't being promoted or scheduled in a decent slot...therefore the viewers aren't tuning in and the few that are aren't really responding in the form of fan sites or forums because it isn't being presented as something worth watching, and thus you feel like you're 'only' writing for the crew... THAT's when it hurts.

Carrying on.

Thx to Jimmy, Morjana, Your Girl Jimmy, and "Dolly"

Monday, November 17, 2008

It Spun In...Then Faded Away

Shocking TV series character deaths.

I don't know why I've been thinking about this lately, but I have. Probably has something to do with the recent season premieres of CSI: Vegas or CSI: Miami, both promoting the hell out of themselves as to whether Horatio or Warrick or whoever will ad even clamouring: "This week, a cast member will die!"


In the world of serialized episodic dramatic television, I'm not sure if anything carries more weight than the 'out of left field, WTF??!!' death of a lead character. But in these days of stand-alone episodic storytelling, those 'impact moments' are few and far between.

I recollect a few that really stood out, starting of course with Mash. Colonel Blake received his discharge, flew off, and then Radar entered the OR at the end of the episode to announce the plane had gone down. It spun in. No survivors. I remember just staring at the television in disbelief.

Other memorable TV series character deaths include Ms. Calendar getting her neck snapped by evil Angel on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I sat right up out of bed when that happened, and then had to endure the remaining moments of the episode watching Giles find his slain love...ughh - total shocker.

Or the great reversal/shocker on ER of Carter getting stabbed by the psychotic patient...and we think he's going down for good when he collapses to the floor...and then from his prone position he sees his colleague and love interest Lucy already lying on the floor on the other side of the room...bleeding out. He survived...she didn't. Gak.

And Mark Harmon's character on The West Wing getting shot while trying to foil a robbery was another shocker...especially since it happened right after the show gave finally TJ a love interest in Harmon.

Good TV giveth, and then it taketh away.

Which brings me to my most memorable shocking TV character death...the one that caught me completely off guard...and taught me the power of TV drama that can only come from watching every week, falling in love with the characters, and completely buying into the world of the show.

thirtysomething. 1991. Season 4 I think. Nancy has been fighting cancer. Everyone is gathered at the hospital, anxiously waiting for her latest test results. The entire focus of the episode, in fact a lot of the season, had been on her fight, and thus it was all I the viewer was thinking about. And then the results come back...and she's clean, cancer-free. And there is rejoicing, and dancing, and tears of joy. And Michael is trying to call Gary to let him know the good news...and getting no answer...and, well... watch for yourself:

That moment slayed me. I felt like I'd been punched soooo hard in the gut (Good NY Times article HERE about decision to kill off Gary). And I'll admit I cried, like a little gurl, when Michael had to identify the body. It showed me all that can be great about serialized episodic television drama, even though it shook me to my very core.

And the kicker was they didn't end the episode with the death, but bombed you with it halfway you had to endure all the other characters reacting to the news. I still get shivers remembering it.

But I don't know if you can have moments like that in today's television universe. First of all, it was before Internet spoilers....back when a show was just allowed to unfold and evolve and play out. And when people watched week after week because it was good and entertaining, not because ads screamed at them all week to: "Watch this episode of 'thirtysomething' because SOMEONE DIES!! (although in this case they might have actually done that, because everyone watching was expecting or would've expected Nancy to die. But anyway...)

Now I'm not disputing some cable and premium pay series like The Sheild or Six Feet Under or The Sopranos have been able to achieve some of those WTF death moments, but we're talking more major network TV-land here...series that everyone was watching, and thus seemed to impact in a much larger, collective consciousness stun-gun kinda way.

But the reality of today's TV drama landscape is that the networks don't really seem to want you to get so emotionally engaged. You know, with the casts of all the Law & Order's able to live, die, come, and go more or less as they please. And the CSI's and Criminal Minds and Without A Trace's casts being soooooo interchangeable. And storylines designed to be more self-contained and not arcing over many episodes. And the tendancy to advertise a characters demise rather than let it surprise and shock and move the viewers or fans...let's face it, these memorable 'shocking' impact moments feel like pretty much a thing of the past.

But do viewers even miss them? Do they even care? Maybe not. Which is sad. So sad. Such a sad sad situation...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Um....Klum Rocks

Friday Fun...

Say no more.

Because she makes

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Good Role Models

Saw Role Models a couple nights ago with the teenage daughter, and even though I experienced slight discomfort when boobies were flashed on screen (is there ever a time when watching sex and nudity in movies with your children isn't awkward?), we both enjoyed it immensely. Paul Rudd is snide but sweet, Seann William Scott is simple but solid, and the supporting cast delivers big time. Lowbrow funny but with lots of heart, it's got a kind of 'School of Rock' meets 'Clerks II' feel. Even though this trailer makes it seem like a PG Disney flick, this R-rated trailer tells it like it is.

Speaking of telling it like it is, the two Bill's (Martell and Cunningham) are both crawling from the AFM wreckage with reports of their adventures.

I've only attended the American Film Market a couple times...and as icky as it can be (the fringe-dwellers all converge), I had a blast each time. So many time to tell. Martell seems like his plate was full and just in and out of the Loews (though he relates a great post here), but Cunningham was a busy boy and lists a bunch of responses and thus tips for the wannabe producers and filmmakers that attend such trade fair events. So many of these made me laugh out loud:

Producers: (title given with tongue firmly wedged in cheek) ...

- Deodorant is not an option.
- No, you don't look hip and cool in that t-shirt. Or that ice cream suit with lime shirt. Or that hat. Or that spandex that says"Camel Toes R Us."
- Honey, put your plastic boobs back in the bra. I ain't buying your movie.
- Get a haircut. After you first wash that greasy mop. And shave while you're at it.
- I don't care if they were on "One Tree Hill" (in the background) they are NOT a star.
- Relax. Just tell me what your movie is about -not its "themes, motifs or breath-taking locations." Your story is what hooks me. Nothing else.
- Yes, your key art is ugly.
- Everyone has a project. No one has a script, a budget, or a cast. No one has done their homework.
- No, I don't like your title (Somebody said their werewolf picture was called FOUR DAYS -- for the 4 days a month of a full moon. When I pointed out that there was only one true full moon per month and two 98% moons (one before and one after) he said nothing and walked away).
- Japan makes (and sells) a lot of movies that will never get any play here in the states. No judgments made with that statement just the facts.
- More and more people are shooting HD. It is not a selling point. I mean really - who cares? It's great for technically-minded folks, but not for sales people.
- No, I will not give you free advice on how to fix your poster after you've seen our portfolio, and know that we deliver.
- I said "no." You can leave now.

Funny cuz he's right, but all good advice. Thanks Bill(s). Nice role modeling.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Television. Adventure.

Where to begin.

Around this time last year I purchased my first HD television, a 26 inch Sony KDL 26M3000. And I gotta say....I lurve my HD tee-vee. I've actually watched more basic network tv programs over the past year because I find myself only flipping between channels 501 - 525 now...cuz dem's the HD channels. Four are movie channels...two are PBS...and the rest are just your basic U.S. nets NBC, CBS, FOX, ABC east and west...and Canadian nets CTV, GLOBAL, CITY, and CTV. There's been more than one occasion that I've found myself watching an ep of L&O: Criminal Intent, just because it looks so fine.

Anyway, a few months ago a black line appeared down the right half of the screen or picture panel. Out of the blue. And then the line widened. I looked into the problem...dead pixels. Looked like this:

And as I investigated some more, I learned this is fairly common in LCD televisions. Happens about 30% of the time apparently. Not common to any particular brand, it just happens. New technology I was told. Harrumph. Well that sucks. But no worries, it still should be covered under the manufacturer's one year warranty.

So last week, with the warranty nearly expired, I went to my neighbourhood Best know, where I purchased the telly in the first get some direction. Erm...bad idea. I asked the first sales assistant I could find where I should take my television to be fixed, and his response: "Why didn't you get the Best Buy extended service plan?" Um, I just didn't. Again I asked, where's the authorized Sony service dealer in town? He shrugged and said: "Don't think there is one. You're going to have to box it up and ship your television back to Sony. Probably will be gone months. Should've got our extended service plan, man."

Sorry...but you're not helping.

I asked another sales assistant...exact same response. Now I was getting snarky. C'mon...let's move past the fact I didn't get the Best Buy extended service plan, where do I go to get it fixed? Shrug. Still not discouraged, I asked a third sales assistant where the authorized Sony service dealer was in town. "Oh, that'd be Video Refit over on McKara." Thank you! I immediately led this helpful gentleman over to the two other fucktards and had him tell them what he'd told me. It didn't seem to matter, they just stared at him blankly... but I felt better.

So I went home and boxed up my Sony and whisked it over to Video Refit, along with my bill of sale and one year warranty card. They seemed very busy there, but were quite helpful...even though I was the annoying customer with lots of questions: were they going to repair or replace screen/panel? Or were they going to just replace it with a new television since apparently the cost of the panel is the majority of cost of the entire unit? And how were they determine what was going to be done...were they going to assess the dead pixel problem themselves? Or did they have to ship to Sony HQ for them to assess?

All my questions were answered...and panel replacement or television replacement were definitely options. They also said a third option might be a refund or voucher so I could go back to Best Buy and replace my TV that way. But they said give them 7-10 days to figure things out...I nodded but left reluctantly, already missing my HD TV.

A refund/voucher, huh? The wheels in my head started spinning...if I got back the purchase price of what I paid a year ago, I could upgrade to a 32 inch version of same television (since prices have dropped). And not only that, I could get the 1080p model, as opposed to the lowly 720p model I was currently saddled with. I raced back to Best Buy to explore this option. And happily, a former student of mine was working in the TV department that afternoon. So I was able to pick his brain without the annoying "Why didn't you get the service plan?" question.

And here's what I learned.

He guessimated it would be about three months before I saw my TV again....that was his experience with people trying to get items repaired or replaced under manufacturer's warranty. WTF? And as for the second part of my master plan, he said he'd never seen a refund or voucher in lieu of replacement or repair before. Bummer. But most importantly, he said that no North American networks broadcast in 1080p!

I. Did. Not. Know. That.

Read about it here and here and here, but bottom line is that it's a bandwidth issue (networks broadcast HD in 720p or 1080i), so having a 1080p television doesn't mean my HD network shows will look noticeably better. Which begged the question: why spend the extra $ for the 1080p if the best digital HD signal you can receive is 720p (or 1080i, same diff)? Oh sure...your Blu-Ray movies will look better, since they are actually delivering a 1080p signal, but that's pretty much it.

I was glad to discover all this, but a little miffed. I'd always been led to believe that HD tv means 1080p tv, if your television can accommodate it. As it turns out...not so much.

Anyhow, my new best Best Buy pal also informed me 'defect' is open to interpretation when it comes to manufacturer's warranty...and in the case of dead pixels, there's actually a number that have to appear before it's considered defective. It varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and model to model, but bottom line is that several (up to 10 I believe) random dead pixels on your LCD screen falls into normal use/wear and tear, and not a defect to be repaired or replaced. And he said to make sure the manufacturers warranty covered parts and labour...apparently some don't do both.

I was now muttering and twitching...expecting my TV to not only not get looked at for months, but that then I'd be informed my problem wasn't even 'covered' or I'd have to pay for work done anyway.

At any rate, this television adventure has a happy ending. One that sent me over the Marquee Moon, so to speak.

End of last week, a mere six days after dropping off my Sony, I received a call from the repair shop. Come pick it up, your television is ready. Really? I double-checked to make sure they had the right person....even reading out the number off my ticket stub. was mine.

I drove over later that afternoon and was greeted by the manager. Nice fellow. But he immediately launched into a "Oh we're so sorry about how long it took to repair your telly..." I'm confused. Say I'm not complaining. He sighs and explains how many units they get in that need repair and how short-staffed he is...pulls out my invoice and loudly sighs: "Oh c'mon...let's see when you brought your tv in. The 30th....see?", followed by more apologies. I am now really confused. It's okay I say...I'm really not complaining. Then he takes a closer look at my work he looks confused. "This was just last week," he says. I nod. He hustles over to the box containing my tv and checks the ticket stub number. "Wow," he says, "Did you really bring it in last week?" Again, I nod.

Now he's shaking his head and reviews the work order --- they'd looked at it the day after I'd dropped it off, determined enough pixels were dead to warrant repair, sent the evidence to Sony HQ (they have to take pictures and list specs apparently), the new panel arrived two days later, they took out the 'defective' one and replaced it with the new one, and then called me.

He told me I should buy a lottery ticket, because in all his days he'd never seen one go through the system that fast. Nevertheless, I still had him turn mine on, just to make sure it was working properly. It was. I thanked him, signed the completed work order, and humped my Sony out to the car and home again.

And the warranty covered everything.

Thus endeth my television adventure. In and out in six days..the way it should be. Nice.

As for the other Television Adventure, that's another post for another time...when the topic is brilliant but unsung new wave bands from the late '70's.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Ante Up Ernieeeeeeeee

Friday Fun gets all gangsta and in Sesame Street, brothers and sisters...

Because it makes me smile.

H/T to Shelley Eriksen

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

They Came To Dance

You ever hear a new cd and think: "I like this...I like it a lot, but boy does it ever sound like someone else that I used to listen to..."

I've always enjoyed the music of Ryan Adams...from his debut cd Heartbreaker, or his loving tribute to the Big Apple 'New York New York', but his new release Cardinology has really struck a chord. It hasn't left my CD player since last Tuesday. I'm really digging it.

Listen to him and his band The Cardinals perform new tunes Fix It and Cobwebs on Letterman last week. Sweet and yummy alt-country rock goodness.

But it reminds me, especially his delivery and inflection on certain songs, of some other musical artist buried deep in the recesses of my brain.

And then it suddenly hit me...! Yay!

Nils Lofgren.

Nils who?

Nils Lofgren is a rock singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist (read: wicked pianist and guitarist). He is also a long-time member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band.

I first discovered Lofgren in the late 70's after learning he'd played on Neil Young's After The Goldrush lp at just seventeen years old. After that he'd had a stint with the band Grin and then a blossoming solo career, plus the fact he played all kinds of instruments really well, and I wanted to hear this guy play. I wore out his double live album Night After Night on my turntable...yes, those were the days of albums and turntables.

Across The Tracks, Goin Back, Delivery Night, Valentine, Moon Tears, Keith Don't Go, No Mercy, and his classic (with a crappy clip) I Came To Dance...these songs were burned into my brain. And though his guitar work was always stellar, it was his singing style that stuck with me....a soft haunting warble that still managed to pierce...that's the essence of Lofgren. And to circle back around to where this post began, that's what finally connected him to Adams for me.

The both sing in a very similar way.

Sure, Lofgren is more rock and Adams more alt-country, but vocally, cut from the same cloth for sure. Not to diminish Adam's accomplishment with Cardinology, it's one of the best CD's of the year...but Adams arrives to us today via the trail blazed by Lofgren. And though both were cult figures in search of a mass audience, they still made it...while still remaining artists through and true.

Someone else arrived last night, also via trails blazed by others before him...but he did it. Yes, he did.

And for anyone to get there, you must believe a little bit in yourself.

(that's Lofgren with Neil Young)

Obama. Adams. Lofgren. They came to dance.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


There's horror movies...and then there's THIS + THIS.

I really don't want to see how this film ends...or even watch Dexter (or...gak...Star Wars?) tonight for that matter.

EDIT: Not to sound morbidly obsessive about a morbid story, but read the two articles linked above and tell me....aren't they the most detail-filled pieces you've read about a purported crime in like....ever? I mean, the story is just breaking and they both read like graphically embellished 'true crime' book tales written years after the case has been put to bed.

I think I find that almost as bizarre as the supposed crime that's being 'reported'.