Wednesday, March 1, 2017

MOONLIGHT - A Sort of Indie Movie Revolution

Oscar Winner, Best Picture 2017
This past week, as you already know because of all the commotion (possibly planned publicity) surrounding the Oscars Award Ceremony, an underdog Indie film, Moonlight, won the Oscar for best picture.

That, however, came about in a strange way because the powers that be, or the careless presenters who did not second guess the obvious error when they were handed the wrong envelope (Best Supporting Actress, Emma Stone) went ahead anyway and announced the wrong winner, thereby allowing three producers to give an acceptance speech for an award they had not won.

Who does that? Nice going Warren Beatty for not speaking up and allowing an obvious mistake to perpetuate. What were you thinking? Didn't you know you were given the wrong envelope? YES! He obviously did know and still announced the wrong winner. Why?

The short answer is he's an idiot. The longer answer is that he didn't want to expose either his or the Academy's shortcomings by trying to correct their mistake on live television. So he made the decision to make everything worse instead. Sorry, Warren Beatty but that was as lame as the movies you make.

But who really cares? It's just an award show. And that's according to Jimmy Kimmel.

Okay, enough of all that. We know that most of Hollywood is flaky. The proof is in most of the horrible movies they unabashedly make, year after year.

And that leads to my real story, the Indie Revolution.

A Chick-Flick with an awesome ending
I'm calling it The Indie Revolution because that's exactly what it wants to be and it has been on the verge of becoming a revolution for the last 20 years or so. Well, it's almost here and now. The Indie Movie Industry is officially the new kid on the block. Or they should be.

Not that any of this matters to Hollywood but it's about time they got their ass kicked playing their own game and they totally deserve it for being money-hungry charlatans with astronomical budgets that mostly produce lavish, uninspired movies as shallow as a puddle of muddy water.

I certainly hope this is a chance for independent writers to count in an industry mired by so many trivial stories and inept producers who don't know their ass from a hole in the ground.

But I really doubt it because the Hollywood elites and their machinations are well entrenched and stronger than ever and eager to spew out their few really good movies, such as 21 Grams or Thelma and Louise as notable bookends to a litany of studio losers in between.

But in all honesty, we must credit the writers and directors of such films. Thank you Alejandro Inarritu, Guillermo Arriaga, and Callie Khouri for your refreshing work.

"Blair Witch Project was the best example
of Hollywood's inept, greedy ways."

But forget the creatives, Moonlight's budget was 1.5 million and so far has grossed close to 28 million and counting. Not a bad ROI. (Go Arri Alexa! Forgive me. I'm a camera techie.)

In 1999 The Blair Witch Project debuted at The Sundance Film Festival with a small budget of only $60,000 and eventually went on to gross about $250 million worldwide making it one of the most successful independent films of all time.

That was almost twenty years ago and the number of independent films since then has grown exponentially and this year's Oscar-winning, Moonlight, will undoubtedly inspire the Indie Film Industry as we've never seen before.

What does that mean for Hollywood? Nothing, apparently. They haven't taken a clue since Blair Witch so what makes you think they will follow Moonlight's lead? BTW, kudos to Mahershala Ali for his Oscar-winning performance and props to director, Barry Jenkins for his vision bringing Moonlight to life in such a fascinating and unexpected way. We need more stories like this. Black stories. LGBT stories. Meaningful stories that are culturally important and relevant. Stories that lead with their hearts and minds and not their wallets. Well, sort of because it's always about the money first.

But you see, Hollywood makes money either way. To Hollywood, movies are all about DVD sales, cable distribution, global markets, etc. Hollywood could care less about blowing 100 million dollars on a lame movie because they know they'll eventually make their money back via one revenue stream or another either in the U.S. or more importantly, abroad.

"Art is secondary to Hollywood . . ."

Art is secondary to Hollywood because the big money is in high concept formulaic blockbuster films with the old tried and true themes and plots and gimmicks, otherwise known as, required scenes or set pieces that every movie must accommodate in order to be relevant and "successful."

Interesting Indie-like Film

And this is why Hollywood producers and apparently its writers are okay with their standard scripts because they are sure-fire money makers. Although that's debatable but the point is that Hollywood is always going to be Hollywood because they can be and they don't need little films like Blair Witch or Moonlight to influence them in any way because it's not about art but about the almighty dollar. We get it. Nothin new under the sun.

The LGBT Angle

Speaking of winners and losers and nothing new, let's mention the obvious. Hollywood still comes out on top because Moonlight is more than a culturally important film but also an LGBT offering featuring an all-black cast. And it's no secret that creatives, especially the executives and producers, and its influencers in Hollywood, for the most part are a big part of the LGBT landscape. Hmm, sounds like a win, win, win.

Nothing wrong with being a hungry Hollywood producer either. But it's us, the audience, the end user who ultimately pays the price for their capitalistic ways, whether we like it or not.

After all Xfinity's HBO programming is still peddling 20-year-old movies. Go figure. Plenty of poor schmucks are still buying them too. Whether they like it or not.

Not exactly breaking news, but it's all about advertising dollars, my friends.

And you thought this was an Indie Revolution?

Right.

Thanks for the Advertising Revolution, Hollywood!



Sunday, January 15, 2017

What Would You Do With a Death Sentence?

New Kindle and Paperback Cover
In 2009 I prematurely published my first novel after a harrowing brush with death while editing. Among worst things (divorce) and despite all the chaos surrounding my life at the time, I still consider my first novel A Death For Beauty, a small success.

I can't even begin to tell you what I went through between 2007 and 2009, except to say those were the best and worst years of my life for so many reasons.

I can't explain how all these strange events (open-heart surgery, hip replacement surgery, divorce, writing, editing and publishing my first novel) intersected my life at a time when I was drowning fast in a difficult marriage with three wonderful children.

I'll spare you the shit story. Life is full of them and I'm just one more victim of a horrible relationship (and so was she) who was down for the count and so far I've made it through 8 more years of turmoil because my life never seems to get easier. Cry me a river. Nobody gives a shit and that's ok. I'm not looking for sympathy. Just stating the facts that might inspire you if you're going through difficult times.

"I'll cite Ernest Hemingway
as my favorite author."


I'll cite Ernest Hemingway as my favorite author because he had the discipline to write in the midst of so much chaos and drama in his life and he was smart enough to use many events in his life as a basis or as inspiration for all his stories. It's an amazing body of work. The Snows of Kilimanjaro being one of my favorite short stories of all time.

Since I like to focus on the positive I've reinvented myself in other ways until my time is up on Earth. Sounds dramatic but life is full of drama, folks. After my heart surgeon game me six months to live, events like that tend to change your perspective in life if you can survive through such an ordeal.

My theory is that most people don't take their life seriously until it's too late. Newsflash folks, we're not immortal. Life is short and there's simply no time to waste. I remind my children of that and it's the most important thing I can teach them.

The strangest thing is that I set out to write a Western novel and turned out something, a cross between a Western and a mystery using many of the troubling events in my life as themes in the story. Go figure. The ending of ADFB is especially personal to me because I use all my children's names and I managed to deepen my characters with traits borrowed from my older children.

Tentative New Title and Hardcover
It's amazing how things work out. Overall I think this is a very successful story that works on so many levels. It's a shame I wasn't able to get the publicity at the time to launch this book properly but I was in a worse place at the time and limited in so many ways due to health issues. Bottom line, I should've waited until my health improved but at the time I wasn't sure I'd survive at all.

The good thing is that this story is set in the past, 1863 to be exact so in that sense it is timeless and readable for those interested in that time period, which in this case intersects with Abraham Lincoln as President during the Civil War. So the potential for another release of this novel is in its very near future.

The new book cover for the paperback is shown here. The main difference is the title is bolder and larger, set in a Subway Novella font, which gives it that worn and torn feel, befitting that turbulent era.

In hindsight this is the book cover I think works best. Although I like the previous covers, especially the hardcover depicting the farm.

Dear reader, please realize you must
always live your life as if you were dying.

I really fussed with that cover as I do with most of my work. Once I get an idea I try dozens of variations until I settle on the best one. The hardcover really shows the farm and the hard life Virginia lived comes through those images and really captures the essence of her amazing and improbable story.

The central theme is uncertainty and despair. Other relatable themes on a smaller scale are also weaved through the novel and in retrospect, I'm not sure how I pulled it off at the time but it all works.

If there is one objection to any of the story it is that I threw so much into it that for that reason alone it can seem unfocused. Sometimes less is more although I have no regrets with the novel's outcome. My main problem was the opening pages and I'm happy with the first pages now but you never know. I've thought of revamping the whole thing into a short story with a much simpler story line.

Anything is possible and just a matter of time. And when I say time I realize that I don't have forever and whatever changes or goals I have now, I can't hang on to much longer.

Dear reader, please realize you must always live your life as if you were dying.

Because you are.



**************************************

For my next post I'd like to talk more about Ernest Hemingway and his amazing legacy and what he has meant to me as a student of literature and how this great author has inspired me to keep writing.

Subscribe for more posts like this.

For those of you interested in the ADFB novel, I'll post the first pages of this story in Screenplay format, which is also in the works and I'll talk about the benefits for novelists about learning to write screenplays.

Don't miss it!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Font Design and Editing, A New Hobby

FontSturct.com
I've put this off long enough. I've observed, studied, dabbled with font designs for years but I've never gotten around to taking the plunge until now. Plunge you say? Well yeah, every graphic designer knows that font design is not for the feint of heart.

That designing a font can be intimidating not just because of the actual design complexities, but because of the commitment involved. I figure if I can devote 7 years to writing a novel and designing its book covers and about 12 different book trailers to go with it, that I'd probably be good at designing fonts.

I figure this is a good way to let my writing incubate until I get back to it. I have an exciting writing project I've been working on but I need to step back for some time and for me, designing fonts is a good alternative.

One thing I overlooked altogether was how much fun designing fonts really is. So far, all the technicalities and challenges of learning something new doesn't seem all that steep after all. For me it feels like figuring out a puzzle piece or I can compare it to just about any design problem you face when confronted with a number of particular requirements in a package design, for example.

I've got a few years of Photoshop design experience to help get me through it and getting good with the Beizer curve and path tool is important so I'm not going in totally handicapped.

The Easy Way To Design Fonts

If you've thought about designing your own fonts as a hobby, here's a website that caters to the "lazy person's way to font design". It sure takes out any apprehensions you might have about getting started designing your own fonts. And best of all, it's really fun.

FontStruct.com

Here you can build fonts with bricks. After a while it gets easier and you start to figure out a number of design problems that you can solve with a particular brick shape. There are some limitations to the selection of bricks, but it's a great way to get your feet wet. You can even download your fonts in a ZIP folder.

Here are several fun fonts I've designed with FontStruct (TM) as practice. You can see a lot more about these fonts on my new Blog here:

Typeface Design by A.R. Arias
AMERICANA FONT




Once you get good at this cheat-sheet method of designing fonts, take a look at FontLab's line of professional font editors.

Right now I'm trying TypeTool 3.1's Demo and having a great time so far. It's easy, fun to use, and although it's a basic entry level editor, it's a great way to get started.

Think you're ready to start designing your own fonts? Check out these great resources. It's more fun than you think.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

F. SCOTT FITZGERALD - The American Dream Re-imagined in Bolivia?

"There are no second acts in American lives."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald


Above: A scene from The Wire about the real meaning behind Fitzgerald's The Great Gatzby and the American Dream.

Hang on to your literary sensitivities folks. 

This is a brief essay of a novel and a movie, all rolled into one. Namely, The Last Tycoon and Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid.

Have I lost my mind? Well, yes, but that's another story entirely and we already have enough to deal with a mashup of two different mediums and two different stories. 


So what's the connection?

Fitzgerald's line in, The Last Tycoon, "There are no second acts in American lives," inspired William Goldman to prove him wrong with the true story of Robert Leroy Parker (Butch Cassidy) and his partner in crime, Harry Longabough, (Sundance Kid) who fled to Bolivia and dodged the law for eight years. That was their second act. 

Problem is, whether it was a second act or not, these outlaws were still on the run and in my book, that makes for a weak premise. Heroes don't run. They confront and adapt and overcome. They win. They don't go down and out in a blaze of "glory".

I think we can all agree on that.


SPOILER - Ending to the movie
Okay, let's jump into our time machine and flashback to 1969 when writer, William Goldman, along with his partner, director, George Roy hill, penned the screenplay for The Sundance Kid.  

Although, Goldman had the seed of the idea for the Sundance movie as far back as the 1950's when he began his so-called research about the original Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid. Goldman loosely based the duo's misadventures that played out throughout the 1890's, for his film.

The Fitzgerald "line" first appeared in 1931 in an essay, title, My Lost City, which was a testament to New York in its day that somewhere along the line was misconstrued with a negative connotation.



 "I once thought that there were no second acts in American lives, but there was certainly to be a second act to New York's boom days."

There you have it. Fitzgerald might have changed his mind later about the way he felt regarding the American Dream, in his unfinished novel, The Last Tycoon, but this line is probably truer to his original thoughts. 

People do change their minds and I have a feeling that's what happened with Fitzgerald. He got more cynical as time went on and most likely for good reason. After all, Hollywood has never been an easy place for writers and Fitzgerald had his own disappointments with the studios back in the early days.

Okay, that's my take on the famous line about Fitzgerald's American Dream. What about the movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid?

Good question. What a mess. That's my answer. I'd tried to watch this movie many times but was unable to root for two looser outlaws on the run.  


Original Movie Poster
According to Goldman, nobody was interested in the script and only one studio wanted to buy it, with one big change; that the two looser outlaws didn't flee to South America. "But that's the real story," Goldman protested. "I don't give a shit," was the studio's response. "All I know is John Wayne don't run away."

Makes sense to me. Why would anyone want to watch a pair of hapless outlaws tuck tale and run from a posse for two hours and wind up in South America where they get their asses kicked anyway? Where's the heroism in that? I guess someone thought that two handsome guys and a pretty girl on the run was sexy and exciting. 


Not to mention all the set pieces with the loud, intrusive music. B.J. Thomas's, Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head, over the bicycle scene with Paul Newman and Katherine Ross. Kind of cute, but annoying just the same. Although, it did wonders for the song, winning best original score.

"Well, maybe if you're a narcissist that might work, but for most of us, that's not the kind of story we like to follow."
Goldman has admitted he's not proud of his Sundance movie. I think the film is more famous for its faults than its great qualities, which are a few at the beginning of the movie, where the two outlaws establish their sharp shooting and clever escapes. 

Other than that, the story degrades into a mash-up of hide and seek from the law, mixed in with a dash of bravado here and there. All talk and no action, this film comes across as a beautiful disaster. You want to root for these guys and hope they win their way to freedom, but that only comes in the end when it's too late and they're cornered and lynched like the hapless rats they really are.

That ending didn't work for Bonnie and Clyde, and it sure didn't work for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. What's the big takeaway? Crime doesn't pay

Really? That's a heck of a way to say it.


A scene from the movie. Butch and Sundance on the run.
So how does this film succeed? How does this movie, after 40 years, continue to win over critics and audiences alike? The short answer to that is perception. People, movie-lovers want to love this film. After all, they like Paul Newman and Robert Redford, and guys love Katherine Ross. 

So what's the problem? Everyone is all-in with the stars of the film and consequently, on-board with the movie, warts and all. There's just no other way to put this. Here's a movie that's famous for being flawed in a beautiful way.

While watching this movie, I always had an uneasy feeling about every scene. Everything felt a little off and nothing felt quite right about the plot, the dialogue, or the main theme in particular.

If we can pinpoint one thing about this film, it's that its theme, crime doesn't pay, is off-putting to audiences. There's no way to mask this theme or turn it into something it is not. It is a theme with inherently non-heroic overtones. 


"There's something about it we cannot deny."

Many of the scenes include dialogue about regret and "going straight" mostly from Butch Cassidy, whose character was not as determined as his partner, Sundance Kid, and who repeatedly commented, "Who are these guys?" Meaning, who are the guys that don't fear us and are wiser and more determined than us. Guys who are willing to chase us and capture us and probably even kill us.


This movie flopped in 1976
This kind of dialogue further highlights the weakness of these two outlaws and questions why we should follow them. Where is the glory in following a couple of fearful, doubtful outlaws?

There's no glory in that and there's no glory in them martyring themselves in the end. When they run into a hail of bullets, it is an act of desperation, not heroism. And we cannot applaud that or find any redeeming qualities in their decision, and the ending, as well as the entire movie fails on many levels for that reason.

That being said, the reason we're still talking about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, is because it has become the subject of study and debate among writers and movie enthusiasts. 

This film does have its moments of heroism. Well, maybe just in the opening scenes, and so we tend to forgive its shortcomings. There's something about it we cannot deny. 

Or better yet, someone we cannot deny.



Monday, August 3, 2015

THE LEGEND OF COLTON H. BRYANT by Alexandra Fuller


If you're a sucker for book covers with cowboys and horses, like I am, here's one I missed. I came across this title on NPR several weeks ago. Actually it was another one of Ms. Fuller's books, Leaving Before The Rains Come, which led me to The Legend...so I'm posting it here for those of you who enjoy this type of story.

Actually, it was mostly Alexandra Fuller's beautiful writing that got me hooked. She approaches this story with great sensitivity and spirit.

In this very personal and introspective look into the life and times of Colton H. Bryant, Fuller manages to approach this sensitive subject with grace, humility, and love, in what could have been an awkward encounter with Colton's closest family members and friends.

I'm enjoying this book and hope to post my review here soon. I'm also working on another review for Islands in the Stream. Well, I'll have to finish the book first. While Hemingway is one of my favorite authors, I don't have time for long stories like this (over 500 pages) so I'll have to speed-read most of it.

As time goes by, Hemingway books get more interesting because they become in effect, historical documents of sorts, so that component adds another layer of depth to his stories, which are somewhat autobiographical.

I haven't been able to finish several other Hemingway favorites, True at First Light, Green Hills of Africa, and The Snows of Kilimanjaro. Hmm, I've got plenty of Hemingway reading to do and looking forward to every word, but good books just keep coming at me.

But that's a good thing. It's what I live for.


Sunday, May 3, 2015

BOYHOOD - The Movie - An Instant Classic

Ellar Coltrane
With well over a dozen film credits to his name, Richard Linklater is finally a blip on the proverbial Hollywood radar. Not that courting Hollywood was ever his goal, mind you.

And that's not to say that some of his previous movies like, Slacker, Dazed and Confused, and School of Rock, have not been a success, because they have been popular films by any one's standards.

But Boyhood hit a chord that has resonated and garnered Linklater many awards in the process, including 5 Golden Globe nominations and winning Best Picture, drama, and Best Director.

What is it about this movie that has everyone talking? Well, for one thing, Linklater has managed to show slices of American life in ways that ring true without all the Hollywood-esque bells and whistles. Linklater has also broken a cardinal rule in filmmaking, more than once. Not only has he filmed a family chronicle in real time, he's done it on a "measly" 4 million dollar budget.

Film students and screenwriters take note, Linklater probably had something to prove, and he finally has. Let's break it down. "A" list actors: check; Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette. Who more can you ask for? How about the boy in Boyhood, Mason, nicely played by Ellar Coltrane, and his sister, Samantha, played by Linklater's astute and ever-so-adorable daughter, Lorelei Linklater; all amazing performances.

How about a killer script? Well, the screenplay was written on the fly but manages to work miracles nonetheless. I mean, how many movies have scenes like this? Who is that hoola-hoop girl anyway?


Another scene that stands out in my mind is when Mason winds up at a concert rehearsal, when his father's band and its lead guitarist dedicates a song to Mason, the high school graduate.

But not before his father distills a bit of wisdom about Mason's recent break-up with his girlfriend, Sheena, and what might explain his own divorce to Mason's mother.

"Women are always looking to trade up. I think that's what happened to you."

What I really like about Boyhood was how Linklater managed to show us a glimpse of the recent past (2002) and a taste of the present (2013), and how the life and times of a boy like Mason, is affected by all  its ups and downs.

The story's through-line is really all about Masons future as an artistic photographer in the midst of divorce and the choices young boys must make when at a crossroads. This main theme comes to light in the film's last scene (Spoiler) when Mason and his new friend, potentially his girlfriend, both under the influence of pot brownies, chat about seizing the moment.

Boyhood is a smart and subtle study of the life and the hardships of a middle-class suburban Texas family break-up and how, despite its stigma, divorce is not the worse that can happen. Life can indeed go on, seems to be the takeaway. And a very poignant one at that.

I rate Boyhood 9 out of 10 stars.


Monday, March 9, 2015

APPLE WRISTWATCH: For the Cool Kids

Apple Watch - Don't you want it?
Shopping for a watch? Well ... Invicta Watches, move over. The Apple Watch is here(!) Today Apple, Inc. unveils is long-awaited Apple wristwatch to the world and in particular, to its millions of loyal, fanatical consumers. You know, all those folks who wait on forever lines outside Apple stores to get the latest and greatest version of the next iPhone, etc., etc.
Right. Those kind of folk.

It's nauseating. Repulsive. And yes, very American. The Apple culture, that is. Say what you will about Apple, Inc. and its fanatical consumer base, beginning with its loyal, cult-like workforce, this company knows how to market and sell stuff you don't really need, but really want.

How do they make you want it? For starters, every news media and blog on earth is talking about it (great publicity and social proof). So, just watch this slick presentation (advertisement) for the new Apple Wristwatch and see why you'll want it. This is no ordinary watch. It's a fashion statement, a status symbol, a jewel, a bracelet you just gotta have.

Did Invicta Watches create this market?
I hate wristwatches. But I love the Apple wristwatch and I want one, right now. For those who can afford another fashion accessory and tech gadget, all rolled into one. Go for it. Because if you ever wanted to be like the cool kids, this is your moment.

Now, can someone pass me a barf bag, please. Thank you. Thank you very much, indeed.

video 
Tim Cook is no Steve Jobs, but it's great to be American, and this is why.



Saturday, November 22, 2014

HATESHIP LOVESHIP - Who Gives a Ship?

There's nothing like a movie with a bittersweet ending. Ahh...the irony of it all. How it all comes together when we see everything revealed behind the curtain. Suddenly, now we know. Hmm, well this movie was not quite like that.
KRISTEN WIIG
Overall, I'll rate this movie a five out of 10 stars, just because I like Kristen Wiig. After all, who can resist that little pug nose of hers and those sad blue eyes? She's like a lost puppy in this movie. Adorable and endearing all at once, and as far as her dramatic acting, nicely done, but a bit too quiet for my taste.

Good effort by the screenwriter, Mark Poirier and director Liza Johnson's interpretation of Alice Munro's short story, Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, but no cigar.

If anything, this movie is proof that not all short stories are meant to be turned into meaningful films. Other short stories, such as Annie Proulx's, Brokeback Mountain translate into much deeper films just because of the subject matter. It's not even fair to compare these authors and their very different styles and stories, but there you have it. If you're trying to put your finger on the pulse of filmmaking vs. literature, this is it.

It all comes down to the premise of the story. Brokeback Mountain was truly so much more than a gay love affair between men. It was a study in human sexuality. Bisexuality to be exact, and a good exploration at that. That's deep stuff. By contrast, Munro's story about an adolescent prank gone "right", in Hateship Loveship, well not so much.

Having said that, I think the director's work was good but not good enough. Not deep enough.  The actors in Hateship, all played wonderfully, it just seemed this movie didn't have the tension it needed to make me really give a damn. Again, this is not a reflection on any of the players or even the screenwriter for that matter.  If a director is working with a bland story to begin with, I think it's his or her responsibility to infuse tension where the written story (Munro's short story) may not show it. Easy for me to say. I'm not the one taking apart Munro's story. But let's be clear. Literature and its subtleties is one thing and artistic license (creativity) in filmmaking is another.

Not all films are so true to the stories they interpret and for good reason. Filmmakers should never rely or trust novelists or writers of any sort. Literature is one art form and film is another. Case closed. One art form does not owe the other anything. Just ask Quentin Tarantino. Novelist, Elmore Leonard didn't bitch at him when the filmmaker changed the title of his book (Rum Punch) to Jackie Brown for his film. The author understood the marketing behind it.

This movie, Hateship, had an odd feeling about it. All the bells and whistles were firmly in place but I was never really moved by it. Maybe a few chuckles, here and there, like when Johanna french kisses the mirror, but I didn't feel anything for Johanna or any other character beyond that scene. The only palpable tension was between the teenage girls, but they're part of the sub-plot, so that doesn't count.

The main tension belongs between Johanna and Ken and the best time to show that was when Johanna showed up at Ken's door unannounced and uninvited, but nothing happened. Well, yes, a bit of discord for about a second and then Ken convinced Johanna to stay despite the misunderstanding. Where's the tension in that?

Note to storytellers: Tension is the lifeblood of any story. The only time tension is relieved is at the end of the story, not during. No tension, no conflict, no story. Conflict builds tension, and that's where your story lives and breathes. Write it down folks. This is nothing new but storytellers must remember to build tension in every scene until the end of the story.

Ken should've kicked Johanna out before Johanna realized he didn't email her those love letters. That's not only tension, that's raising the stakes. But instead, they make love.  Wrong move, and if that's how Munro's story reads, change it and make your movie better.Who cares? It's your movie and your reputation on the line, not Munro's.

The Box Office speaks for itself, folks. This movie lost money all the way and serves as nothing more than a calling card for newcomer Wiig and the other fine actors, Nolte notwithstanding. He got last billing. Lest we forget his moving role as football coach in Prince of Tides, or his defiant role as a prosecutor in Cape Fear. Here, Nolte is almost irrelevant but looks good in his role as an over-protective grandfather, and engaging nonetheless.

So here it is folks. The takeaway from the ending of Hateship Loveship, is not so dramatic, not very moving at all. That's a shame because I really wanted to love this movie, but in the end, all I could do was appreciate its production values and its players. The story...well, the jury still out on that, but the takeaway for filmmakers is clear.

Either faithfully adapt a story that already moves audiences, or tweak screenplays so they tug at our emotions at a deeper level. Audiences want to see movies that move and inspire them. Themes must resonate at the end of a film or the movie dies and no one will care.

Life is a Bitchship. A Hardship. Deal with it folks. Deal with it.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

IMUS IN THE MORNING - Same Tune, Different Melody


FBN FOX BUSINESS 211
Don't expect a glowing, brown-nosing review of the Imus in The Morning Program. There's plenty not to like about it, but compared to most morning shows, Imus and his crew of misfits are pretty funny.

And I suppose the best thing this show has going for it is that Imus is still Imus. You know, the shock jock from the 70's and 80's, but even better now with a bit more profound wit infusing his deadpan comments. Which, speaking of deadpan, the stiffest part of the show is Imus himself. (here it comes)

He sits at his mic, looking down with that intense stare, like a pissed-off eagle, and barely moves his mouth when he talks. C'mon, Imus, how much pain are you in? Loosen up, man. Life has been good to you, so why not show it once in a while. I mean, we don't expect you to act like a cartoon character, but for the love of God, I often watch and think someone needs to hold a mirror under his nose.

Not unlike the Crypt Keeper, or an embalmed animatronic version of the real Imus. It's weird, man. I'm tripping over that shit, bro. (Just taking things way back, folks.)

What's up with all that?

Okay, that being said, Imus does look quite dapper in his usual dark blue blazer, starched white shirt, and big, messy hair. Thank goodness he doesn't wear a tie. He'd most likely choke to death. He seems to come alive only when his lovely wife ( Deirdre) comes on the air.

Can't blame him there, she's awfully cute, and she admits to Imus that she farts, when he presses her for an answer, because he's never heard her fart before. (Howard Stern would be proud.) Imus does throw his right hand up, gesturing with a "let's go" twitch of his thumb when he goes to commercial. Other than that, Imus doesn't move around much. Although, he thankfully does light up when he covers a John Stewart segment, going from Totem Pole, to human being in the blink of an eye.

He reads some of the sponsor ads in a monotonous tone, repeating their phone number several times, sticking to his tried and true advertising formula. Not very watchable, or funny, but I'm sure his sponsors are happy with the results.

So, lets break it down on a good note.

Like all morning shows, it's live. Imus' program is especially raw but with stylized graphics featuring some of the I-Man's favorite music (Imagine Dragons, Temptations, etc.) during intermissions with views midtown New York City streets from the studio. Nice touch.

If you've never seen the show before, you might be thrown a bit as Imus sometimes hosts the show from his Ranch (Cancer Kids) in New Mexico. I think there's better interaction among the cast when Imus hosts from his New York City studio, for obvious reasons.


IMUS' CANCER KIDS RANCH
At any rate, the program includes a large crew of misfit reporters, comics, news hounds, and an assortment of funny bits mixed with top headlines, a variety of interesting guests, and an annoying stock ticker, catering to the show's affluent demographic, no doubt.

Some of the cast includes, Bernie McGuirk, his equally stiff producer, who's obviously been coached to appear more animated (It's not working). Tony Powell, the token black comic who never says much, Rob Bartlett, whose bit seems to be that he's embarrassingly unfunny, plus he's a dead ringer for Rush Limbaugh, odd stuff. The loud, Warner Wolf on sports, The lovely, sometimes pretentious, sometimes funny, Dagen McDowell as business reporter, to name a few.

In a recent program, Imus voiced his disdain for Santa Fe and Dagen commented that all Santa Fe had going for it was wannabe 'Okeefe artisans making sculptures in the shape of vaginas.' Touche.


DEIRDRE
Turns out, Imus in the Morning is the perfect blend of world news, politics, sports, and a good bit of laughter to lighten up all that hardcore stuff. Fun to watch, not exactly a laugh a minute, but close. Worth watching just to see Imus' irreverent take on just about everything.
He knows what's funny and how to deliver it without being obviously transparent about it. His pull-no-punches approach has served him well over the years, so why mess with it.

Great program, folks. If you're tired of all the canned, horribly scripted morning shows out there, check out Imus in the Morning, he's for real.

Overall ... good beats.