Thursday, January 25, 2007

San-tee Barb-ra HERE I COME!

So last year around this time I got an email from a very nice PR lady asking if I'd like to go to the Bermuda Film Festival. Whaaaaat!?!? I said. Yeah, she said they wanted to bring some press people to cover the event and my name came up. I didn't get into how/why/what and so on. Unfortunately, that festival was like, 4 days after I was to get back from South by Southwest and, as much as I would have loved to, missing that much work and my wife would simply not do. I referred my Film Threat buddy "Little" Mike Ferarro and he went...and had a blast. Bastard. However the nice lady said she'd keep me in mind for other fests and about a month ago, I got an email inviting me to the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

Sweet! I jumped at the chance and once again was happy I didn't go to Sundance. I was soon hooked up and dialed in for the fest and have spent the last week trying to figure out what films I want to see. SBIFF is kind of an odd fest. There's alot of amazing docs and they do a superb job showcasing local talent. But what makes the fest odd (in my eyes) is that they always PACK the thing with celebrities. I think last year they honored Peter Jackson and there's always star studded galas going on.

I think it's great that they program *real* films and still attract so many heavy hitters. However I also discovered that they showcase the years best films and I realized this when I got an email saying there were 32!! Oscar nominees and/or films at the fest! Holy crap!! Read this list and as you do, note that whatever filmmaker is there with his or her film, their movie is also playing and a Q&A with them follows.

· Sacha Baron Cohen, and co-writers Ant Hines and Peter Baynham, who will participate in a “Conversation With…”
· Jackie Earle Haley, Little Children, who will participate in a “Conversation With…”
· Djimon Honsou, Blood Diamond, who will participate in a “Conversation With…”
· Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls (presenting to Bill Condon, who was sorely overlooked!)
· Peter Morgan, Screenwriter, The Queen
· Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Director, Babel
· Todd Field, Director, Little Children
· Michael Arndt, Writer, Little Miss Sunshine
· Guillermo Arriaga, Writer, Babel
· Ron Yerxa, Producer, Little Children/Little Miss Sunshine
· Albert Berger, Producer, Little Children/Little Miss Sunshine
· Steve Golin, Producer, Babel
· Graham King, Producer, The Departed
· Adriana Barazza, actress, Babel
· Gustavo Santaolalla, Composer, Babel
· The Danish Poet (Short Film, animated)
· Recycled Life (short doc)
· Rehearsing A Dream (short doc)
· Blood of Yingzhou (short doc)
· An Inconvenient Truth (doc)
· The Lives of Others (foreign film)
· Days of Glory (foreign film)
· Little Miss Sunshine (followed by a Conversation with the directors)
· The Queen
· Cars
· Happy Feet
· Monster House

Plus their honoring Will Smith and Helen Miren!

So, needless to say, I'm incredibly flattered and honored and stoked to be asked to attend! Watch the blog for updates and OH!! PLEASE read my new blog at Petaluma 360. Yeah, I'm a total blog whore. But I want to use that blog to launch some cool local stuff so hit it up and add some comments!

Monday, January 22, 2007

30 mins!

I totally, totally love the NBC show "Heroes." It's been off the air for like, a month and tonight starts a big run of new episodes. I'll admit that I love to be a geek and jump on-board with really nerdy shows. I had a "Twin Peaks" phase, a "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" phase, "X-Files," "Lost" and now "Heroes" big time! The show just has so much potential. I mean, the viewer and the characters are still finding out the limitations of the super powers...and we haven't even got to their superhero outfits yet! All the characters are well defined and Sylar, the villain, is great too. Even Sylar is still in his embryonic character stage as is everyone on the show. It's a cool feeling of discovery (like when Nathan just up and flew in that one episode!) and it really feels like you're along for the ride. "Heroes" and "The Office" are my two favorite shows with "Lost" a semi-close third.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Happy Birthday, Dave!!

Today David Lynch is 60 years old! I celebreated early by attending a screening of his new film INLAND EMPIRE last night at the Rafael Theater in San Rafael. Dave was THERE!! The MC of the night introduced him and there he was...the genius...the kook...the artist. 20 yards ahead of me and accepting a five minute ovation with class and grace. He said some words and then introduced Special Agent Chet Desmond himself, Chris Isaak! Chris and his drummer Kenny did 2 songs, including Wicked Game and then off we went into dream land. Or, nightmare land.

I'm still letting the film sink in as I need to review it for Film Threat. Yet I will's weird. Duh. I loved it, but it's really long (3 hours) and incredibly fragmented. However Laura Dern turns in what I think might be one of the best pure acting jobs of all time. She has such range and such...bravery. It's pretty incredible. Another thing I'll say is that if anyone else had tried to pull off what INLAND EMPIRE does in terms of visual imagery, tone, "story" and all wouldn't fly. When you see a David Lynch film, you give yourself over to David Lynch and trust him to take you on a journey. It's pretty neat. After the film there was a terrific Q & A and Chris Isaak did two more songs. The highlight was David Lynch playing a tiny maraca.

If you want to have a truly great cinematic experience, go see INLAND EMPIRE when it hits a theater near you!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Simply gorgeous DVD art!

I don't know what it is about this DVD cover that grabbed my attention. It's so simple, yet brilliant. That's what it is! An underlying sense of brilliance to the whole thing. But still...what is it that makes it stick out to me. Hmm.....I can't put my finger on it. Well, I'll post it and maybe you can tell me...

You can also order this hillarious DVD HERE.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Poetry 'n art...

About a week or 2 ago, we took a field trip at work to see "Eragon." I get to drive the van. It only holds 10 kids and we were only going like, 15 miles but man were they chock-full of noise. Ever since that trip, I've had the song they were singing stuck in my head. So, I slapped a jazz beat and riff to it and I give you...

Joy 2 tha World
by ten screaming kids

to the world
Barney's dead.
We barbequed
his head.
What happened to his body?
We flushed it
Down the potty
and round and round it goes
and round and round it goes
and round and round it goes
and raound and round it goes
and round and round it goes
and roun.
..well, you get it

Ah, youth.

Friday, January 12, 2007

What a long, strange trip...

I'm applying to San Francisco State to get a Masters in Cinema Studies. But, I misread the site. I thought I had until January 26 to send my application in and in fact, I had until today (The MFA is the 26th). Or, yesterday...January 12. I discovered my blunder on Tuesday and set about totally, totally freaking out all week. See, SF State only lets you apply NOW for the fall semester. I blow it now, it's one more year of fart jokes and pee-pee pants at my job. I need to motivate and fast. While the application process isn't all that tough, I still had a hillarious time gathering my shit.

Long story short...I got all my stuff together. Scholarly paper (NIGHT OF THE HUNTER beeotches!), personal statement (to learn more, teach others) thesis (Mexican new's sooo on right now!), letters of recommendation ( thank you Frank and Sandy, resume (yeah, I been around) and...unofficial transcripts. That's where the plot thickens.

I need to send "Official Transcripts" from the 3 colleges I attended to the main office and UNofficial ones to the cinema department: Santa Rosa JC, College of Marin, and Cal State Northridge. SRJC is the original bitch school. I honestly believe they think they should be a university. They simply "cannot" give me official transcripts. Too busy. College of Marin, sure. Northridge..well. We'll get to that. But fuck SRJC. I'm sick of them. 10-15 days until they can "send" my transcripts.'re so, so busy. Anywho, I get all my stuff together...except for my Northridge stuff. I figured I could log into the system like the old days (like, when I was a student) and get my unofficial stuff which is all I needed to complete my packet. No go.

It seems after 2 years, they bump you out. I called and found this out and I also discovered the only way I could get my UNofficial transcripts was to
1. Show up there (it's 6+ hours away)
2. Give a friend a handwritten note that says they can get them.

I called my friend (I have "1" friend) there and he's out of town so...yeah. I have to drive to Northridge, get my unoffical transcripts, put together my packet (and like, make it look presentable) and mail that shit with a postmark that says I got it in the mail today. Here's how today went:

3:30 a.m. Earthquake. You guys feel that shit? It was funny, really. I heard it before I felt it (like...someone really big groaning) and then when it started. I rolled over to Erica and gave a phony "Ahhhh...earthquake." We were both awake and she said, "yeah, that was an earthquake." We went to sleep.

5:30 a.m. Alarm (I have the theme to THE EXORCIST as my alarm works) I get up. Erica and I had an arrangement that I would take Igby (the dog for you late comers) outside. But, he didn't wake up. So, I got in the shower.

5:40 a.m. The reason things are so expensive here is because the weather is nice. It's been 20 degrees in the morning all week and this morning was no different. By the time water fell out of my fro, it was icy. Ugh.

6 a.m. I head out to L.A....Northridge. I stop for coffee and gas...away I go.

12:45 I get to Northridge. I walk around. Man, I sorely, sorely miss living in L.A. It was the one time I felt free and like I was truly pursuing what *I* wanted. Yet, I digress. That school...meh. Great cinema department in terms of trying to be a contender. Overall....blah. I did buy a new CSUN hat, I get my transcripts and go settle in the lounge area to quadruple check the stuff I quadruple checked twice before. I have it all. Yet, I still check it over OCD style 4-5 times.

1:00 I go to this real sketchy printing place that I always went to as a student. It's like... the same. How dare life go on as usualy without me there! I get my packets together and again, check them page by page three times.

1:15 Post office. After some confusion, I look over them and count them page by page, checklist number by checklist number...three times...then I send them "certified mail." I put my hands on the applications, wish them the best and off they go.

1:30-2:30 I want to go eat at my favorite places in my old 'hood, but I know L.A. traffic. I need to be outta there by 3:00. I get hammered by traffic and finally drive by my old apartment (I miss it so much, it hurts. Like, my gums hurt like I was chewing on paper) when I went by but, things are good here too. I miss Igby. Oh, and Erica. I go home.

9:15 Six diet cokes and a diet rockstar later, I'm amped as I roll into Petaluma. I still have 20 mins to go to Santa Rosa, so I stop by Dempseys. I see some friends, have 2 beers...head home.

Ugh...long day and I'm still all wired out. I had so many great ideas for films and docs today and I really realized just how many times I've gone from Petaluma to L.A. So many weird, funny stories...really. Anyways...good NIGHT!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

a truly valuable lesson...

How to beat claw machine games! Sweeet...I'm totally going to do this...

Sunday, January 07, 2007

My favorite movies of 2006!

O.K…here’s the much awaited list of my favorite films of 2006. I think I saw some films that were “better” (BABEL comes to mind) but these are the ones I enjoyed the most. I’m going to count backwards so it looks right this time…

I saw this at Sundance last year and just loved it so much. Considering I only saw 3 movies I genuinely loved (out of 30 plus…ugh) my cynicism level was super high. But Ryan Gosline is a badass in “Half Nelson” as a crackheaded teacher in the inner-city won me over. This movie never goes where you think it will and it’s still edgy, funny, grimy and great. I’m betting Gosling gets a much deserved Oscar nod.

Spike Lee is one of my favorite directors, period. But even as a Spike fan, I’ve been rather confused with the purpose of his most recent, half-baked films “Bamboozled” and “She Hate Me.” While “Bamboozled” showed Spike at his angry best, it was still lacking a certain cohesiveness. But “Inside Man” is a frigging awesome movie! It’s not just a heist/caper film. There’s also some incredible visual imagery that gives the whole flick a certain political tinge. I’m not going to get into it now because I need to see the film again, but it’s on DVD so go rent it and enjoy a fun flick with a lot of intricacy. And, a lot of straight forward movie fun.

I’m not a “huge” M. Night fan, but I’m also mature enough to stay off the M. Night bashing bandwagon. I still dig the guys flicks. I mean, people get on Spielberg because every movie he does ends up in some familial group hug but…helllooo…that’s what he does. M. Night does twists. Deal with it. I also felt like “Lady in the Water” is a throwback to a time when we were all young and enjoyed going to the movies to enjoy going to the movies. There was no internet gossip and message boards to ruin the fun. We went, we saw, we liked. Or hated. I genuinely enjoyed “Lady in the Water” and I think there’s some great allegory going on in regards to creative people and being creative in general. I need to buy this one too so I can be more nerdy in blogs.

Ah, Michel Gondry…you joyous madman! I missed “Science of Sleep” at Sundance and had to wait and wait to see it. When I finally did, I’m glad I did because it was in theaters for about a week. What I saw was a funny, sad and incredibly creative film about a guy who’s cripplingly creative and also fairly socially retarded. I mean, it’s not that simple, but it kind of is. There’s also some amazing special effects here….but they are special because they aren’t done with a green screen. Nothing goes “boom.” Instead Gondry indulges the eye with paper cut outs and string sculpture and…like…gels. This movie was so good and so soon forgotten you won’t believe it when you see it on DVD.

I just saw this today…like, 2 hours ago. It totally blew me away. But, there’s so many killer camera moves and shots and such incredible long takes in the film, I kind of found myself gawking at the landscape and losing track of the story. In short, I need to see it again and really take it all in. But what I managed to take in was simply, amazing. Director Alfonso Cuaron creates a future that looks a whole heck of a lot like the present, only much more grim. The story is confusing, but in a good way. This is also my second Clive Owen film on the list (“Inside Man” has Clive as well) which is weird because I think he’s so-so. But here, he’s a perfect anti-hero and “Children of Men” needs to be seen by as many people as possible so more movies like this can get made.

And…we have another Spike Lee movie in my top ten. And that’s a good thing! I shall step further up on my soapbox to say...what has happened in New Orleans is the most disgusting thing to ever happen to Americans…ever. Worse than 9-11. There, I said it. While 9-11 was God awful, our Government not only set New Orleans up to fail, they let them fail, did nothing to help and have STILL not done anything to help. It’s totally and utterly disgusting and unforgivable.

Spike Lee gets that and of all people, he lays it out in the most fair way possible. He blames everyone a little bit for what happened but also discredits some theories about why this happened. In fact, he never really says what he thinks was the main cause and I think that’s the point. It was a number of things. I loved this movie because it’s motivational and educational. It’s incredibly sad yet still hopeful. It’s the best documentary I’ve ever seen. Go rent it now. I mean it…like go out your door and rent it now. Go.

This one was probably the most fun I had at the movies all year. It was just a balls out funny, violent, interesting fun movie. I’ve grown to really dislike Jack Nicholson and his phoning in of every role. But here, he actually acts and he’s great! Everyone is great in this film (Matt Damon, Leo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg..everyone!) and that’s what makes it so enjoyable. Plus…blood. And guts. I’m not a big gore guy, but Scorsese does it right. I hope Scorsese doesn’t win best director for this one because he’s directed better films. But “The Departed” is a blast. I was smiling from start to finish.

This was my favorite film of the year until I saw my top two…but “Clerks 2” is still pretty damned awesome! Those of you who know me know I love Kevin Smith. However, I felt like he was pussing out by going back to the “Clerks” well. I love “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” because I get all the inside jokes and they supplement the real jokes perfectly. But that was all I wanted to see of “that world.” Still, like a good Kevin Smith fan, I went to “Clerks 2” expecting the same ole same ole (which isn’t necessarily bad) but what I got was much funnier and much more poignant that I ever expected. I don’t want to give too much away because I can honestly recommend this to anyone who wants to laugh and isn’t too easily offended. But I will say, the humor is wicked and the story is very heartfelt and true.

This movie kicks so much ass, I can’t even really write about it. In short, it’s a horror-fantasy film that takes place in Spain during the Spanish Civil War. Yet the horror takes place in the “real” world while the fantasy tries to provide an escape for the young girl who plays Ofelia, a dreamer who might be the true Queen of the underworld. I hope anyone reading this who hasn’t seen this film goes because it deserves to be seen. It’s brilliant and creative…and in Spanish with subtitles. There’s no celebrities in it. It needs people to see it and trust me, you won’t be disappointed. I’m picking it to win best foreign film at the Oscars and wish every day that the brilliant Guillermo del Toro would get a much deserved best director nomination. Please please please please…

This movie blew me away. Totally and completely. It’s quietly in your face. It’s the darkest of dark comedies. It’s just about the most perfect movie I’ve seen. Yes, there is a fairly involved storyline involving a pedophile. But I assure you, that’s not just what “Little Children” is about. It’s about people who see a last chance to hold onto some childish dream. It’s about the cost of selfishness. It’s about the doldrums of parenthood…and the joys. I laughed, I cried…I cringed. I can’ t wait to see it again either. Read my review here, it might make more sense. Oh, and I’m also totally in love with Kate Winslet. I mean, I was before and I still am not seeing that Rom-Com she did with Cameron Diaz and Jack Black…but gosh I heart her.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Top Ten Music Pt. Two

Continuing on...

Someone had this modern pop band up on their myspace and I just fell in love with their songs. They sound like old Elvis Costello mixed with Nick Lowe…with synth. They’re also a lil “Phantom Planet-y.” I like this band so much, I keep waiting to go see them play live when they aren’t on a bill with shitterriffic bands like “30 Seconds to Mars” or ( “My Chemical Romance.” I don’t think it’s gonna happen though. “Head Automatica” just isn’t “that” big and they have a horrible band name. Still, if you like peppy pop ala Costello…get this album.

I really, really like “Rilo Kiley” and I especially really like Jenny Lewis…the singer for “Rilo Kiley.” This album is her at her vocal best doing slightly country/folky sounding songs with a pair of beauties who call themselves “The Watson Twins.” I wouldn’t call this a country album…it sounds like “The Travelling Wilburies” or something. There’s a cover of “Handle Me With Care” on the album. It’s hard to explain but it’s really great. Lots of great harmonies and good lyrics…great stuff!

3. Bruce Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions Band We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions

Wow. My hero Bruce Springsteen puts together a 12 person plus band to reinterpret folk songs by Pete Seeger. Of course I don’t think The Boss can do any wrong, but this album is just so honest and heartfelt and fun it’s just…contagious. I had the good fortune of seeing this band live and it was incredible! Over 3 hours of music and I just didn’t want it to end. There’s something that just fills your heart and soul with joy in this music and also in Bruce Springsteen’s music. Put the two together and it’s magic. Plus I get a heavy feeling that Bruce did this album as a sort of salve for the people of New Orleans.

2. Will Kimbrough Americanitis

Will Kimbrough is an Alien. Or just a plain ole badass. But he’s also incredibly insightful, kindhearted, sensible, intelligent and damn irritated about the war in Iraq and the bullying going on in America. Hell, and in the way we bully other countries. He has a right to be. Yet he never gets preachy on “Americanitis.” He just puts thoughts and honest feelings out there and lets them lie where they may. They usually end up plopping down in the common sense area of your brain. Plus, he totally, totally rocks! “Americanitis” blends protest songs with songs about peace love and understanding. What’s so funny about that anyway? Get this album. It’s little but mighty!

1. Todd Snider The Devil You Know
I’m an unabashed Todd Snider fan but that doesn’t mean I like everything he does. I’ve been a vocal critic of a few albums from a few years ago. They just didn’t do much for me. But with this latest album and the last (“East Nashville Skyline”) Todd is sooo back. There’s only one song on this album that I’m not that crazy about. One song. I don’t even know where to begin telling you what a terrific album this is. The song “A Tale of Two Frat Brothers” has the greatest songwriting twist since “The Kinks” song “Lola.” I’ve seen Todd perform it live 2-3 times and the collective looks on uninitiated peoples faces when they get what the song is about gives me goose bumps. That’s what brilliant songwriting is all about.

“Thin Wild Mercury” is probably my favorite on the album. It tells the apparently true story about Bob Dylan throwing Phil Ochs out of his limo. I also like the easy going “Carla” and the looking-for-a-hit type song “Lookin’ for a Job.” I can honestly say I love this album more than any album this year and not a week has gone by where it hasn’t found it’s way into my CD player. It’s country, it’s rock, it’s folk…it’s amazing.

Coming tomorrow…Top Ten Films of 2006…

Top Ten Music of 2006

I gotta say, I didn’t buy a lot of new music for the second year in a row. I have close to 1200 CD’s and this year, I really tried to enjoy what I have before going apeshit and buying new stuff. I also discovered the wonderful world of Bit-Torrent files and have been downloading oodles of concerts, bootlegs and new releases. I’m a bad person…but I attend a lot of concerts and buy CD’s from smaller artists so…neener. I support artists in other ways. That being said…away we go!

10. CALEXICO Garden Ruin
I really like Calexico, but they can be a wee bit droney…such is the case with "Garden Ruin." Yet every once in a while lead singer Joey Burns will come off with a nice vocalization or the band will put together a song that is so rich and diverse and cool it just sucks you right in. I think "Garden Ruin"is a nice way to get into the band but I still prefer the collaboration they did with “Iron and Wine” as well as last years (or 2004’s?) “Convict Pool.”

9. RACONTEURS Broken Boy Soldiers
Yeah, yeah…hipter alt douche bag music by White Striper Jack White. Only, the thing is, it’s not. This is a good ole rock album that has hints of the 70’s mixed perfectly with modern noise. I’m a marginal fan of “The White Stripes,” but am becoming a big fan of Jack White. If you like rock music, you’ll like this album.

8. JACKIE GREENE American Myth
I dig Jackie Greene. My wife and I saw him summer before last and he was like he sounded on his albums: a young Bob Dylan knockoff…with more pizzazz and less introspection. Yet this new album is Greene really spreading his wings and I think a lot of it has to do with producer Steve Berlin adding horns, organ, percussion and groove to Greene’s folky/roots based songwriting. “So Hard to Find My Way” is one of my favorite songs of the year and it’s going to be fun seeing Jackie Greene continue to grow as an artist.

7. Old Crow Medicine Show Big Iron World
Take some bluegrass, mix it with folk, rock, jazz. Add doses of realism, humor and heartbreak and you’d be getting close to what “Old Crow Medicine Show” sounds like. This might just be one of the best driving records ever made (as in, you put it in while you’re driving) and there’s a lot of fun sing-along moments to be had. I really want to see these guys badly and had I got the album earlier in the year, it would probably rank higher.

6. Drive by Truckers A Blessing and a Curse
Man, I feel bad putting these guys at 6…I thought they’d be higher. I guess I feel stronger than I thought about my top 5 because the DBT’s are badass. This album gets away from their whole Southern roots thang, sorta. Their other albums are like college courses in Southern culture and history…which is cool. To an extent. The thing is, I’m not much of a history buff and could really care very little about a place I’ve never been (sorry, but it’s true. Would the DBT’s want to hear my tales of Petaluma? Doubtful.) but this album is more open. And more cock-rock guitar heavy. It’s the kind of album that makes you play your steering wheel like a guitar. Yet, come to think of it, it really slows down after the ass-kicking song “Aftermath U.S.A.” Still worth a listen and a good intro to a great band.

Top 5 coming later today...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year, indeed!

2006 was a trip. Personally and creatively, I saw some HUGE growth and that felt really good. But we also had some deaths here towards the end that were just...sad. My wifes grandmother died last week after a long illness and then I found out my old roomate Marc died. That really made me sad. He was a terrific guy. Damn. But...

New Years Eve was really great! Having had a shitty last 2 years I felt like I could finally really "toast" to a year being over and "toast" the new one coming in. And toast I did. Alot. The band I manage FIVE A.M. hosted a PIRATE BALL at the best brewery in the world Russian River Brewing Company. It was well attended and very swarthy. I drank alot of beer and still felt O.K. yesterday. Oh! I also got to see the NY Jets beat the hapless Raiders to get into the plaoffs!! GO JETS!

However I got some REALLY great news today when I received an email informing John and I that STRINGERS had been accepted to the Cinequest Film Festival in San Jose!! It's a big festival and it's growing every year. It's going to be a total blast and I can't wait to go and have fun close to home. Yet what really makes me happy about being accepted there is, I don't know a soul at the fest. Although I'm extremely proud of STRINGERS and I think it's really, really good and stands on it's own...I did know a person or two at the Austin fest. I will say, there are alot of people who know people and still didn't get in. But in the back of my self-depricating mind, I always wondered...

But we did win the audience award and we did field a ton of questions at the Q&'s just me beating myself up again. It's my favorite hobby! But anyway, we got into a festival that we didn't know anybody at and that's a great way to start the year!

Check out Cinequest HERE!

Happy New Year everyone!! Top 10 lists coming this week!