Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Oscars and performances

While I usually post on Mondays, I wasn't happy with my post-Oscar blog, mainly because I would be giving a pretentious film fan some ink, as they say. There is a big difference between those who talk and write about films and those who actually make films.

The day-after articles tended to be not great, even though the ratings were higher than last year's awards where the Academy hoped to draw in the young people with Anne Hathaway and James Franco who weren't very good.

Someone wrote that this year's award show was for white men in their 50's and older. Well, I guess that's me, and I did like the show. Billy Crystal was funny and I thought the show was okay.

But one of the problems for the Academy Awards is that there are so many award shows before the Oscars so by the time they come on people are tired of seeing the same actors grab other statuettes and/or awards.

When I was a kid, it was magic, but we didn't have 200 plus channels then. And dozens of awards shows for film and music and everything else.

A lot of people resented the fact that a French movie won most of the awards even if they filmed the entire movie in L.A. and it was handled by veteran Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. And Oscar-caliber movies are often not audience favorites, rather they are performer favorites.

And then there was the best actress award which surprised everyone and started dozens of whispers and tweets as to why Meryl got it instead of Viola, you know the kind.

So what do I think?

Well, if you consider that playing real characters seems to win more than playing made-up characters, then it's the norm. Meryl played Thatcher brilliantly, as she does with every role.  Here's a few others who won:

Colin Firth played King Edward, Helen Mirren played Queen Elizabeth, Reese Witherspoon played June Carter, Sandra Bullock played a real person in The Blind Side, Forrest Whitaker for Idi Amin, Julia Roberts won for Erin Brockovich.

And then there's Sean Penn for Harvey Milk, Jamie Fox for Ray Charles, Charlize Theron played that crazy woman killer. And there's a lot more.

What do you think?

And speaking of performances, a lot of people think that big long speeches in a movie where the star shouts and yells, is good acting. The model for this was Al Pacino in Scent of A Woman where he "ate the scenery" in his big speech at the end of the movie.

For those unfamiliar with that phrase, it simply means an actor takes over the stage and drowns everyone else around him/her to make his big speech.

But shouting is easy, it's harder playing softer. My best example was Ordinary People, directed by Robert Redford, where Mary Tyler Moore plays a controlling wife to Donald Sutherland and Timothy Hutton plays her messed-up son.

Moore and Hutton got nominations, Hutton won but the best part was played by Sutherland as a quiet, long-suffering husband. Much harder to play that convincingly, no shouting, no grand speeches, just looks and quiet thoughts.

But the award shows are finished for another year and I don't have to see big ads shouting vote for me in the LA Times every single day since January.

And I can remember 1976 when a little short film called Cooperage was a finalist in the Short Film category at the Academy Awards that year and lost out to five other films but for a moment, my partner in Rocky Mountain Films, Phil Borsos  and I came as close as anybody could.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Blog to come

I posted a blog today that, after consideration, I decided to delete it. It wasn't much, some Oscar talk (I liked the show) and some other stuff that ultimately wasn't really of any value. I try to make every blog move forward as well as having content that will be of interest to all of you.

I should have something more interesting by this afternoon.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Calendar Clearance Sale

Hey guys! We just realized that we still have some calendars left! They were $20 before the new year but are now discounted to only $8! There are still another 10 good months left in 2012 and if you don't have a calendar on your desk yet, this is your chance.

We have a limited amount left, so head over to the shop before they're gone. 

Don't forget, the top portion of each month can be cut off and sent as a postcard!

Jakarta Food & Friends | 2 of 2

We got to meet one of our sweet blog followers, Gladys, in Jakarta. She spent several days taking us around town, introduced us to her friends, made us try authentic Indonesian food (that we wouldn't have ordered otherwise), and even took us to church with her on Sunday! This girl has such a big heart and we felt really blessed to make a friend so far from home. 

Sorry for poor image quality of this post, but it had to be shared. All images taken with compact camera (while we waited for a new camera to come in). 

- Julia

Gladys and I when we first met.
Yuriy and Bobby. 

We told Gladys we just wanted dessert and this is what she ordered for us.... Weirdest dessert I've ever seen. Doesn't it look like green beans? 

At the meatball soup shop. 

Yuriy getting schooled by the local on how to eat soup.

Taking a bus to church on Sunday morning. 

We always love visiting local churches during our travels. Worship was sung in Indonesian and English so we were in luck! We had an earpiece for translation during the sermon. 

Gladys ordered all the dishes that she wanted us to try. Letting someone else do the ordering was tough, but I know we tried so much more than we would have without her.

A small gift for Gladys before we left... a shirt from our shop

Traveling would be so wonderful if we found such generous and friendly people everywhere we went! Thank you Gladys, Bobby, and Aprisal (not pictured)!

Ads and Oscars

You've probably noticed (or maybe not) three ads on the top left of the blog. I haven't really taken sponsors before but had an opportunity to advertise my book, Emperor of Mars, in exchange for one, the Jobs link. It was only for one month and will end next week. In exchange I had a banner for EOM on their website for 30 days.

The other one is similar, but at least valuable to readers as it offers comparisons of video editing software and digital cameras. This will last for a month at most.

And finally there's two new ones I added today, an indie film that needs some advertising and while they had nothing else to offer, I figured the least I could do is help them. Thus you'll see a link to their trailer and a link to the screenwriter's interview.

I end the week with 20 pages of my Christmas Train screenplay, I never write on week-ends, or at least almost never, as those are my days off and I don't do anything. Well, maybe a little editing on FCP for my Ghostkeeper trailer.

The big deal this week-end, of course, is the Academy Awards, lots of parties at all levels A to D, as they say. I also have a producer considering a screenplay I wrote some years ago so I'll see what happens with that next week.

Weather is warm, sky is blue, a lazy week-end ahead. 

One more thing; looks like my novel Emperor of Mars has passed into the 2nd tier of a novel contest on Amazon, winner gets $15,000 and a publishing deal. Wouldn't that be nice. But there's 999 others in the second tier.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Jakarta | 1 of 2

We arrived in Jakarta, having no clue what to expect. It is the 13th biggest city in the world, with a population of almost 10,000,000. We spent 5 days here and to tell you the truth we didn't see much. And what we did see was out of a taxi window. The traffic is RIDICULOUS in Jakarta (it's rated as having the second worst traffic in the world, just behind Sao Paulo, Brazil). Getting from our hotel to anywhere took at least an hour in a taxi. And walking around was tough because there is no sidewalk to walk on and no where to walk to. We spent some time in one of Jakarta's (many) fancy malls. Which was quite a weird experience. You spend an hour sitting in a taxi looking at all the poverty around you and then you pull up at a fancy mall with Louis Vuitton and D&G stores selling their luxury goods, and wondering who the heck can afford this stuff. I don't think there is a middle class in Jakarta. I don't want to judge a city after only being there for 5 days but the traffic alone is enough to keep me from coming back. 

So that's the bad. The good is that the people are very warm and nice. We met up with one of our blog followers, Gladys, and we quickly became friends. She generously spent several days showing us around Jakarta, making us try local food, introducing us to her friends, and even took us to her church on Sunday (we'll share some of those photos in the next post). Experiencing a new city is always more fun with locals. 

As you know, our camera broke in Thailand, so we bought a new camera online and were able to ship it to Gladys. Most of the photos below are from our last day in Jakarta when we finally got our new Nikon D700 (some of the first shots are from the compact camera). Most of the photos were taken out of taxi windows or from the back of a hired scooter. On our last day, instead of crawling through traffic in a taxi cab, I paid an older man on a scooter to give me a quicker ride. I held on with one arm (hoping the guy didn't mind me squeezing him) and snapped away with the other. I'm sure I got my share of pollution for the rest of my life in that 20 minute scooter ride.

We stayed in a little boutique hotel called the R Residence, which was great because we were the only guests there and had the whole place to ourselves. They served us hot breakfast every morning with a glass of amazing guava juice. The owners were very nice and went out of their way to take care of us and make sure we had a great stay.  

Side story -- We were running a little late to our flight out of Jakarta and the taxi driver didn't see the time right (or Gladys told him to give us a trip we wouldn't forget) but this was one of the scariest rides we've been on yet. Whenever we hit traffic (which was most of the time), he would fly onto the shoulder or into incoming traffic, took random U-turns, and sped so fast it was unbearable to watch. We did get to the airport on time.... and alive. 

- Yuriy