Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Due to the knowledge I have attained from further procrastination in the form of watching The West Wing, I would like to rescind my previous statement that I prefer Will Bailey to Sam Seaborn. How could I have been so blind?

Also, donate to my movie! Its going to be amazing!
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Don't Watch That...

In the spirit of diet advice from girly magazines worldwide -- "Don't eat chips; Rice cakes are a much healthier option. And low calorie!" (Thank you, Cosmo Geniuses) I am going to give you similar cinematic advice that, to many, may seem equally obvious.

Don't watch New Years Eve. 200 Cigarettes is a much better option. And won't cost you $11.50!

As you probably know, New Year's Eve is the most recent "Oh my God, everyone is in this movie" movie, it's predecessors being Love Actually and Valentine's Day and it's successor being Arbor Day starring Jessica Biel, Will Smith, Amanda Seyfried, 50 Cent, Daniel Radcliffe, Eva Mendes, Andrew Garfield, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Dakota Fanning, Justin Bieber, Tracy Morgan, and Al Pacino.

I know that my text is saturated with sarcasm, but I do actually like these mega-ensemble flicks. In fact, Love Actually is one of my favorites. Year after year, I hope that Christmas will bring me my true love, but all I am left with the only parallel being that, like Laura Linney's character, I too will probably never sleep with Rodrigo Santoro. Anyway, I fear that that cyclical, bandwagon- jumping Hollywood may be turning audiences off to the greatness that can be quirky ensembles. Because, actually, ensembles should be just that -- quirky, as they should mix together all the different personalities and personae of their cast members, rather that having fifteen famous people play basically the same person. This, I believe, is what New Years Eve does. So, I would like to divert your attention to the truly funny, romantic, quirky ensemble 200 Cigarettes.

"Same Night. Same Party. Love at Full Blast"

200 Cigarettes, like New Years Eve, is set in the New York City on the eve of the new year, and features a staggering amount of famous faces: Courtney Love, Paul Rudd, Martha Plimpton, Ben Affleck, Casey Affleck, Jay Mohr, Kate Hudson, Christina Ricci, Gaby Hoffman, Dave Chappelle, Janeane Garofalo, and Elvis Costello. It depicts the shenanigans that a host of New Yorkers and two mouthy teens from Ronkonkoma face as they try to ring in 1982. Rather than revolving around the Times Square-esque New Years, it focuses on Village-ish artsy grunge of the 1980s, and crafts characters that are unique from one another. Further, instead of molding convoluted ways to weave the stories together (A is friends with B, who is sleeping with C, who is married to D, who is E's sister, so obviously they're all in the same movie), 200 Cigarettes keeps the stories separate until the end when all the characters end up at the same party and further connections are made.

It is delightfully quirky and unique. And its not like trading chips for rice cakes, because 200 Cigarettes is neither fluffy nor bland. All you'd be sacrificing is movie theater popcorn. Eat home-popped instead -- heart healthier and low calorie!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tis the Season for Giving!

The Indie GoGo fundraising campaign for my film, Guests of a Nation, has finally been launched! If you can spare a few bucks, any contribution would be incredibly appreciated!
Thanks for your support!

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Interview with the Godfather: Vampires and Mobsters

Ok, yes, I am procrastinating...again. But, at least this time I am procrastinating in the library, which is inherently better than procrastinating in my bed. Wouldn't you agreed?

Anyway, anyone who knows me at all well knows that I love vampires and all vampire-related things and I find the Mafia and all Mafia-related things fascinating. In terms of explanations for these obsessions, I really don't have one expect that they are both dark and scary, but kind of sexy. Of course, the Mafia is not actually sexy. It is just depicted that way in American media. And I could definitely get into all that at a later time, but not even I can procrastinate that much. I can, however, procrastinate enough to tell you how the Mafia is similar to Twilight. Yes, yes, it can and will be done.


1. Vampires are dangerous. So is the Mafia.

2. Both the Cullens and the Mafia are a family. However, neither is a family that one is born into. The Cullens must be made into vampires and then adopted into the family. In the Mafia, people are made, or make their bones, before they can become a real part of the the family. Once they are in the family, vampires become blood-thirsty killers and, well, kill people. The same goes for new members of the Mafia. Of course, the Cullens are 'vegetarians' and eat only animals. I'm pretty sure 'vegetarian' mafiosi don't exist.

3. Like in Stephanie Myers' breathtaking saga (=/), there exist many different factions of vampires. There are the blonde ones in Alaska and the British ones in Italy and the [spoiler] hybrid mutant ones in the Amazon and oodles more that the Cullens are not closely acquainted with. Similarly, the Mafia has lots of different families -- the Gambinos and the Bonannos and the Lucchese and oodles more in cities all over the US and abroad.


4. The Mafia follows an honor code which includes Omerta, or the vow of silence. They are not supposed disclose the business of the family to anyone outside of the family. Likewise, the Cullens must move every decade or so to keep their identity secret from the human world around them.

5. Finally, the Cullens are to werewolves as the Mafia is to the modern American Witness Protection Program. Hear me out; I thought of this one when I was watching In Plain Sight. In Twilight, werewolves are not always werewolves. Many moons ago, the vampires came to the area in which Jacob's ancestors were living. Because the vampires came and posed a threat to the humans, the Native Americans magically became werewolves to answer the call and protect people. Many times, this means hunting down and killing the vampires. The protective werewolves came into existence because of the proximity of vampires. Similarly, in the 70s, the FBI wanted to hunt down and imprison all the mafiosi. To do so, they needed witnesses, and WITSEC had to come into existence. The purpose, obviously was to protect people willing to breach Omerta and roll on family members. That is, the protective WITSEC came into existence because of the indictment of the Mafia, because, for witnesses, any proximity with mafiosi is a bad thing.

So there you have it, and explanation of the Mafia through the lens of Twilight, so that 12-year- old girls everywhere may gain a better understand of a major international crime syndicate. I should probably do my work now and try not to daydream about a Vampire-Mafia movie.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Evidence of Things Not Seen

The West Wing, Season 7 (not 4, okay, but I like this picture)

This morning, while enjoying some finals-season procrastination, I re-watched my favorite episode of one of my favorite TV shows: The West Wing, Season 4 Episode 19, "Evidence of Things Not Seen." In case you are unfamiliar with this episode, allow me to illuminate you.

This episode takes place on the night of the Vernal Equinox. It opens with Josh and Leo preparing for an office poker game, while CJ is trying to convince Josh and anyone she else she comes across that, at the exact moment (and it must be the exact moment) of the equinox, you can stand an egg vertically. Of course, she is met with rampant skepticism by everyone, especially Toby. Nonetheless, the episode begins with the picture of a perfect White House night off.

A ginormous wrench is thrown in when an un-manned spy plane crashes off the coast of Kaliningrad. The spy plane was taking spy pictures, as spy planes are wont to do, and President Bartlett is forced to call Russia and ask for them back. This proves to be a fairly difficult task because, well, you know those Russians... Meanwhile, Josh is occupied interviewing a candidate for the associate counsel position left open by Ainsley Hayes. Midway through the episode, some guy shoots at the White House, causing the West Wing to go on lockdown.

Like all other West Wing episodes, this one entwines layered inter-personal relationships, fast-paced conversions (sprinkled with words I don't quite understand) and down-to-earth, personable characters I feel I can relate to. This episode is my favorite because it combines all of my favorite things about The West Wing. Allow me:

1. It is the Matthew Perry's first appearance as Joe Quincy, a candidate for the associate counsel position that Josh (Bradley Whitford) has to interview. Since I did not catch Perry's post-Friends, Lifetime-esque movie, this is the only time I have seen him in a non-comedic role. He is subtly humorous, smart, and adorable in his back-and-forth with Josh. This episode is the first of two featuring Joe Quincy. I wish there were more.

2. It takes place in the post-Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe) age of Will Bailey (Joshua Malina). It's not that I dislike Sam, because he is smart, funny, and fun to look at. But I prefer Will. He is geeky, yet confident with a healthy dose of sarcasm, something every member of Barlett's staff is equipped with. Will also begins in the Vice President's office, and because apparently in WW USA, VP and P are not BFFs, he often gets intelligently combative with the Barlett staff, which is very entertaining.

3. There is ample Josh/Donna (Janel Moloney) flirty banter. The sexual tension and unspoken love between Josh and his assistant Donna is one of my favorite things about this show, and this episode depicts it excellently, as Donna explains that Joe Quincy might be thought of as handsome by others, but not her, "because you're the only one I think is handsome." After the shots are fired, her joking manner quickly turns to concern for Josh, who had long suffered from PTSD. In a similar fashion, the relationship between Barlett and personal assisstant/son-figure Charlie (Dule Hill) is highlighted when Charlie bursts into the Oval Office, apparently after zealously overcoming several secret service agents, to make sure that the President is alright.

4. CJ (Allison Janney) is definitely one of my favorite characters on TV, ever. She witty, sharp, and adept at taking names in a man's world. She also has a certain element of whimsy and optimism, which sets her apart from the male counterparts. This episode displays that unique whimsy in the form of trying to get her co-workers to believe in the impossible -- getting an egg to stand on its head.

As I said, she faces no non-believer as rigid as Toby (Richard Schiff). This is one of the overwhelming themes throughout the show, which is also why this episode is, in my opinion, archetypal. Constantly, optimism must battle with cynicism, as the characters try to balance what must be done with what they wish could be done.

The writing and issues on the show keep the audience on a mental and moral high wire. If you haven't watched The West Wing, I highly recommend it, and when you get to Season 4, Episode 19, give me a call.