PAUL WILLIAMS, WRITER, COMPOSER, ACTOR, SINGER, PRODUCER, OCSAR WINNER!
The Southern California Writers Association invites you to its monthly meeting this Saturday, at 10:00 AM, to hear Academy Award Winner, musician, writer, singer, actor, producer, and so much more, who will share his writing methods and muses with us, in addition to perhaps singing a new song. Paul has written some of the biggest hits in music, as well as acted with Brando, worked with Streisand, and constantly has something new going on.
This month we will take a break from our usual fare of book writing and the business of writing to listen to one of America's great song writers.
JOIN US for a discussion with independent producer Rockwell Sheraton (Cindicate) on the state of the industry and how to rise above the noise in this highly competitive market.
Deborah True Neal
Imagine a person who travels so much and is so emotionally unavailable that he prefers the artificial environments of airports to home. In fact, in "Up In The Air" one of the first things we find out about Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) is that all the things that might irritate us about airports - the bad food, the security measures, etc, feel like "home" to him.
Interesting character with lots of potential.
The story is adapted from a novel by Walter Kirn. Bingham, the main character, is a professional corporate downsizer (job terminator.) Even more to the point, he works for a company that is hired by other companies to do their dirty work. They come in when companies need to dump a work force and handle it for them. Bingham has a specific and time-tested way to do this.
What an odd little film this is. Based on a memoir from British journalist Lynn Barber about her affair with a con artist when she was in school, the original essay was published in the literary magazine "Granta" and wasn't transformed into in a book until the film was well into production. Begin the oddness.
Nick Hornby, who wrote the screenplay, is a well-known British novelist (High Fidelity, About a Boy) and who has had several of his books and essays turned into films but hasn't done much in the way of screenwriting. Another oddness.
The story is straightforward. A young girl (16) is transfixed by the attentions of an older man who sees her walking home in the rain one day. Unknown to her initially, he is a con man who makes a living stealing art and also moving black families into housing units so when the old women who live there become afraid and want to move out, he can buy the units cheap.
Spoiler alert: Most of this review is actually a rant about Quentin Tarantino.
Tell me honestly: how in the world does a film like this make the best of anything list, let alone the Oscars? Was it really such a good idea to let crap like this into consideration with the expansion from five to ten nominees? This film and "District 9" (my review) were my two least favorite films of the group and I have no idea why they're in the list. The only reason I watched this film was because I committed to review all the Best Picture nominees. Next time, I'll just pass.
I'm well aware that some people have an appreciation for Mr. Tarantino's works. I am not one of them. I've tried. Not hard but I have tried.
"A Serious Man" is as disturbing a film as one can imagine making. More disturbing than "No Country For Old Men?" Yes - blatant violence is absent from this film except for one unexpected moment that turns out to be a dream but what makes this film so hard to watch is the same thing that makes a newspaper so difficult to read - the random nature of life and the seeming non-logical nature of our existence.
"Why me?" Behind this simple question in this black comedy is a demon of epic proportions lurking - one we try to push out of our lives and deny. But at the edges of a silent scream it waits doing nothing but sitting there with a smug smile and the power to completely destroy our lives.
I saw "Up" with honestly little anticipation. The trailers didn't intrigue me. Not like "Wall-E." Nothing about the movie seemed to appeal to me but really, am I the target demographic anyway?
I know Pixar is a wonderful company, with "The Incredibles" being one of my all-time favorite films, but I was never a huge fan of "Toy Story" or the other Pixar films - except as mentioned and "Monsters, Inc.".
My first thoughts were confirmed. "Up" didn't thrill me. It's a good film - just not wonderful.
I was predisposed to like "The Blindside." I like football and football movies; I like inspirational stories (most times) and I've always liked Sandra Bullock. All good and as expected.
Yeah, it's over the top on sweetness at times; yeah, Bullock has her moments of scene chewing; yeah, it's "movie" football with all the bad that endgenders. Even so this was a good, solid film about a remarkable story of how life can take us to unexpected places.
The story follows Michael Oher a supremely talented football player (he allowed no sacks in 2009) who is currently a starting offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens and how he came to that career through the strangest set of circumstances you can imagine.
"Precious" is a hard film to watch. The amount of misery and unrelenting pain that this film presents is almost beyond comprehension. Poverty, illiteracy, rape, incest, HIV, physical and verbal and emotional abuse...how could anyone cope with all that? How does the human spirit survive after being battered by all that? It's hard to fathom.
Like of lot of stories of this type before it, "Precious" explores familiar ground and expected consequences. What differentiates this one is the expert handling of the characters and plot narrative - it never becomes burdensome or overbearing.
Directed by Lee Daniels and written for the screen by Geoffrey Fletcher "Precious" is based on first-time novelist Sapphire's book "Push." Sapphire, according to background material, was a literacy teacher in Harlem and the Bronx for seven years. The character of Precious is a composite based on the women that Sapphire worked with for those years.
"The Hurt Locker" is a film about a bomb squad in Iraq during a time when IEDs (improvised explosive devices) were rampant. There isn't much to spoil in this film because there is no real story. The film basically follows a 3-member team toward the end of their rotation - they have about 30 days left and their leader gets himself "blowed up good." A new team leader, in the form of a "Wildman" (Jeremy Renner) comes in, proceeds to run rampant and no one cares except the team members be puts into jeopardy.
That's it. Really.
There's car bombs, suicide bombs, body bombs (OMFG!) and
"District 9" (or D9 as they call it in the movie,) is a film with moments of heart. That makes up a bit for the total lack of logic in the plot. And I do mean total. Again, I don't do spoiler alerts so read on if you don't care (yes, I know that in itself is a spoiler alert - clever me.)
Okay, so we've got interstellar aliens who manage to cross parsecs of space in a ship that's the size of a city and yet we humans have to rescue this seemingly simple-minded race from themselves. Aliens, "prawns" - they look more like roaches to me - can't seem to manage actually getting out of their ship once it sorta "lands" on Earth. No, of course they logically hover around for a few days or weeks until we have to cut into the ship and find them all milling around, malnourished, in the ballroom - or whatever they're all doing when we cut this ship open using...well, I guess it doesn't matter - that bit of logic is left out too. A ship that large that can also tolerate the enormous stresses of outer space and Earth gravity can't possibly stand up to our titanium-bladed Black and Deckers.