Movie Review: The Boys are Back

For those of you who live on Long Island and have Optimum’s Triple Play, you know that Tuesday is free movie night.  But only at Clearview Cinemas.  The choices at Clearview, for the most part, are slim.

Last week I slugged it out while sitting through Surrogates.  Tonight was shaping up to be no different.  Then I saw a title I had never even heard of (I’m a nerd, so for this to happen it must really be under the radar).  The Boys are Back.  A movie about a father grieving his dead wife and dealing with his two sons, starring Clive Owen.  Clive Owen in a film I’ve never heard about?  What is up?

So, deciding between that and… well, a Coco Chanel movie or some romance named ‘Paris’ – it was a pretty easy decision.

And I must say, I was pleasantly surprised.  It was by no means earth shattering.  It was what I expected, story-wise.  Father must cope with his own loss, while helping his young son grieve.  In the middle of all that comes his teenage son from a first marriage who feels abandoned by his father.  Pretty melodramatic stuff on the surface.  But this film, directed by Scott Hicks, did an amazing job of painting a picture of a man at wits end.  It was sweet when it needed to be sweet.  Funny when you needed a moment of levity.  And sad, because life is sad sometimes.

Clive Owen, who also produced the film, was great.  It was easy to see him as the right choice for the part, someone who displays little emotion and that guard begins to wear on him.  A man who was present in his son’s lives, but now without a mother figure – is thrust into the spotlight and must play the role of both parents.  It’s not the bitter story of an estranged father reconnecting with his kids.  It is just the story of a man, trying to be the best father he can.

It genuinely touched me and I would definitely recommend seeing it.

Children’s Book Moving to Painting Phase

The children’s book, Warm Fuzz, that I am overseeing has just finished illustrations and we are moving on to the painting phase.  The artist, Liu, is from somewhere in the middle of China and the guy is pretty bad ass.

I’m hoping to have it done by the Christmas, but it will most likely be Jan/Feb.

Here is a piece of concept art.

Here is an illustration from the book:


Book Review: The Name of the Wind

Patrick Rothfuss – thank you.  You have renewed my faith in humanity.  You have proven that genius does in fact exist.

Flat out, The Name of the Wind was the best book I’ve read in a very, very long time.  Since I have spent the last year or so focusing on myself, I haven’t done a lot of reading.  But when things settled down and I completed my move to NY, I went book shopping for the first time.  I had never heard of it, despite it being a fantasy book on the NY Times Bestseller.  You’d think that wouldn’t escape my attention.  Now, I wish I could go back and start on page 1 and have no idea what was coming…

They label this a fantasy book, but it is much more than that.  There are no trolls.  Or orcs.  Or giant battles.  It is a love story.  It is the life story of a man, a very interesting man, who we come to know as a child and watch grow over the course of twenty or so years.

I never make book recommendations.  Films are easy – it is an hour and a half, two hours.  You hate it, you can stop it.  But books are a commitment.  And I think much more personal than films.  But I cannot implore you enough – go out and buy this book.  Read it immediately.  Fall in love with reading and storytelling again.

And, like myself and all the others who have read this, wait anxiously for the second book.

Did Universal make the right choice?

So Universal fires one marketing maven only to replace him with another as chief of the studio.  It didn’t work the first time, do they think this time it will.  I think Disney is facing a similar situation with Oren.  These guys are great at what they do, but when you don’t have production experience how can you expect them to successfully handle running production?

I find a similar problem with bringing top notch specialty label guys (and girls) in to run the studio.  They are doing specialty films, not films for the masses.  I hope they are getting paid a fortune, because I have to believe they are smart enough to realize their tastes will never run congruent to what the studio needs to survive – and that is big franchises and four quadrant type films.  Dreck like The Fantastic Four and The Mummy.  And bad directors like Stephen Sommers and Tim Story.

I think a notable exception could be Peter Rice.  The man is a genius.

Production on the R.E.M. Graphic Novel begins

Production on my second graphic novel, R.E.M., has officially begun.  Character design by artist Marco Magallanes is underway and looking great.

Here’s the story’s logline:

In New York City, behind a series of locks, lives Michael Letto, a brilliant but paranoid neuroscientist.  Since his first and only love died, he’s become consumed with unlocking the mystery of sleep.  Based on the principles of yoga, Michael is attempting to build a chair that enables one to attain a full nights sleep in a matter of minutes.  His theories bring him to the attention of the military and a religious order that wants to use his research to attain enlightenment. Neither group is benign, and they pursue Michael as he starts to unravel and visions of his lost love worsen.

It was written to be my first film as a director and I never intended it to be a book.  But I figured, why the hell not?  You can’t wait for success to find you, you have to go attack it.

Here is some artwork…

Movie Review: 21

I was actually somewhat surprised that it took me so long to see Rob Luketic’s 21.  It had a decent cast, flashy trailer and it was based on a cool book.

It only took me five minutes to realize why.  Within those five minutes I knew everything that followed.  There was nothing new or interesting or surprising about this pretty lame film.  And who isn’t tired of Kevin Spacey playing Kevin Spacey?  The only reason I’m posting about it is because the movie’s premise makes absolutely no sense.

Picture this – genius math student has a 4.0 from MIT, got into Harvard Med School but can’t afford to go.  You ever hear of a student loan?  You will make more in your first year or two to pay off all your loans and then some pal.  And get this – he’s working in a suit store with his fat friend making 8 bucks an hour.  Really?  This genius hasn’t been recruited to do something better with his time for a bit more money?  Ludicrous.  Then the crappy melodrama of his poor waitress mother and dead father.  Why did the studio decide the book needed this?  For a movie about really smart people it is fucking stupid.

Movie Review: Surrogates

I always go to the movies by myself.  And I always get there early and sit in the middle, about 3/4 of the way towards the back.  Watching Surrogates may change the way I do the movies.

Because I was stuck in the middle, unable to escape this turkey.  I would have given anything to be on an aisle.   And I never walk out of a movie.  Then again, I usually pay for them.  Now that I can use my Optimum Triple Play Rewards card for free movies on Tuesday nights, I may have to rethink everything.

Surrogates was, without a doubt, the worst film I’ve seen in theaters since X-Men: The Last Stand.  To be honest, I had read the graphic novel and didn’t see it translating well to the screen.  But I didn’t think it would be this bad.  It was completely devoid of any spark or life.  Completely.  I think it should once and for all prove that Breakdown was an anomaly from Jonathan Mostow.  This film even looked a bit like T3, which had a cartoony, you can’t take it serious quality to it.

It was horribly miscast all around (special shout out to Ving Rhames though), the script was wooden, the visual FX were crap, the love story was extremely forced and the score was so awful and over the top it took you out of the movie.  Which, sadly, was a good thing most of the time.