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Some actors are defined by a film; some define it. "Ong Bak" would be nothing without Tony Jaa. He definitely defines it - and in turn, it defined him in 20013 as the next BIG THING in martial arts actors.
If you haven't seen Tony Jaa before prepare to be mindblown. He is a marvel, at times appearing to be beyond human. This 2003 film was his breakout film - it made him a superstar.
He is probably the most incredible martial arts actors, perhaps ever. His idol, Jackie Chan, is of course the standard by which all the rest of these lithe, leaping, kicking and punching amazeoids are measured, but Jaa has more raw power and tight skills and that gives him a slight edge on my scorecard.
"Ong Bak" proves that Jaa is superhuman - especially since the entire film was done without wires or CGI - it's all sweat, muscle and training. The martial discipline, of course, is Muay Thai with a liberal dose of gymnastics, and although Jaa has other martial arts training (including Aikido) it's Muay Thai that his fighting most closely manifests. In "Ong Bak"...
"Ip Man" is a movie loosely based on the life of Grandmaster Ip Man, whose Wing Chung style of martial arts strongly formed Bruce Lee’s style. Ip Man was Lee’s teacher although this first film of the trilogy doesn’t deal with Lee at all.
Loosely based is the watch phrase here. The filmmakers take a lot of liberties with the storyline for dramatic impact. You really can’t go into this story thinking that you’re going to see a true events film.
There’s also a heavily-mandated anti-Japanese theme since a good portion of the film takes place during the 2nd Sino-Japanese War when the Japanese army occupied China from 1937 to 1945.
If neither of these hesitations bother you then the film is truly a joy to watch.
Although Man is fully into adulthood, with a wife and young son when this movie opens he is much like a child in his attitude and lifestyle. He’s independently wealth so he doesn’t actually work or need students to maintain his somewhat Laissez Faire existence. As a recognized...
Stunning. Final impression.
I'll get to the movie that closed the 14th Annual Newport Beach Film Festival on Thursday night but first let me tell you what really impressed me: it was that my guests were knocked out by the ending festivities at the Regency Lido Theater.
Scott McMenamin (VicePresident of Sales) and Alejandro Seri (IMDB) (Educational Marketing Director) from Final Draft (yes, that Final Draft) came down from L.A. to enjoy the festivities that started with a D.J. saying "Hit It!" as the sun went down and was still going strong when I left around 1:00am.
Festival CEO Gregg Schwenk (who also teaches locally) and his staff and volunteers are to be congratulated on this year's festival in general which, as I've mentioned in a previous article, was smooth and impressive. But Gregg and his people also know how to throw a party as was evidenced by the mouth-dropping, stunned look by my guests as they arrived at Lido Village.
Scott, in his role as VP of Sales for Final Draft, has been to the film...
Can a one-liner become an entire movie? The short answer is, no. The audience only laughs once. That’s the biggest flaw in Zack Birnbaum’s directorial debut, “And Now A Word From Our Sponsor,” which was screened for only the second time before a live audience yesterday at the Newport Beach film festival.
The film has dramatic, heartfelt moments which are salvaged mainly by good acting on the park of Parker Posey who plays Karen Hillridge, a hospital charity administrator whose relationship with her daughter Megan (Allie MacDonald) is strained by the loss of the family’s patriarch two years prior.
The story opens with heavy weight advertising icon Adan Kundle collapsing in front of a bank of televisions in an electronics store. He awakens in a hospital, alert and functional, but he speaks only in advertising slogans. When Adan opens the tray covering his hospital breakfast and sees a dry piece of toast and a single, hard boiled egg he remarks, “How do you handle a hungry man?”
The film demands that the viewer assume Adan understands the world around him, indeed sees it more...
Newport Beach Film Festival, 2013
Alive and thriving. I'm sure that's the message the Newport Beach Film Festival would love to hear shouted from the rooftops of The O.C. After a few dicey years with administration woes, venue problems, and less-than-wonderful film offerings, I found the festival this year to be robust and packed with films that mean something both critically and commercially.
Having expanded to The Triangle, the renovated Triangle Square in Costa Mesa, the buzz there where I picked up my press pass was incredible. The festival initially went there out of desperation last year because The Islands Theater in Newport Beach was undergoing a renovation and they needed a venue with a multiplex and some food options that was at least close to Newport Beach. This year, The Islands is back but The Triangle is also in its glory after several new shops and food places have transformed it into a truly great entertainment destination.
I was only able to attend my first event this year on Sunday and I chose to go to one of my favorite theaters, The Regency Lido, which is a single-venue theater with an actual...
When Vivian Brechner (Toni Alexander), a female version of Donald Bren, decides to develop a Casino in the tiny town of Fountain Springs, she must bulldoze their bowling alley which is the, "Only thing we’ve got" scream the fifty-two residents of this California desert backwater.
Brechner's dispatches her son, Alexander, (Tyler Strateman) to do her dirty work, and the town’s mayor, Dawson Dinwitty (Gary Austin) springs into action with the city council, which consists of one man, also the town’s bowling instructor, George Pandick, (Andrew Dickler).
Both men must vote in favor of the new Casino, so Brechner tries to buy Dinwitty’s vote by wining, dining, and cajoling him from her office in Fashion Island and the Big Canyon golf course.
Meanwhile, Alexander gets drunk with the “twin” sons of Fountain Bowl’s owner, Herman Pritzoff (Eric Halsz) and agrees to a bowling contest with a prize of $250,000, enough money for the Pritzoff’s to buy the land and save their bowling alley.
This plot engine runs out...
How do say Occam’s Razor in French?
If you don’t know what that means in English, I’ll give you the simplest of definitions: It’s the simplest of solutions.
Occam’s Razor is a principle of parsimony and economy. It compels problem solvers to employ the easiest, most rational, reasonable solution.
The “problem” or premise of “Fly Me to the Moon” is this:
Isabelle, a beautiful, young, Parisian bride-to-be, played deftly by Diane Kruger (Inglorious Basterds), must somehow beat a family curse wherein first marriages end in disaster and the second is destined for eternal bliss.
Isabelle’s eleventh-hour solution to this “problem” is to marry a shill in Denmark and divorce him the same day, thus beating the curse and living happily ever after with her young, dentist fiancé, Pierre (Robert Plagnol).
When the shill is a no show, Isabelle latches onto a hapless travel writer, Jean-Yves played with great comic rhythm by Danny Boon (Welcome To The Sticks). Jean-Yves is en-route from Paris to Kenya via Copenhagen. That...
“The essence of how Pixar started was in let’s figure it out and try something different.” – Jerome Ranft, Pixar Animation Studios
In the summer of 2012, I was invited to Pixar Animation Studios for a meeting regarding my employment possibilities in their story department. As I walked through the front doors, I was greeted by their glass case filled with their numerous Academy Awards. The entire day I spent at Pixar was a dream come true since I am a big fan of their work and believe in the magic they bring to the screen. What this paper seeks to do is to summarize how Ed Catmull, Steve Jobs, and John Lasseter revolutionized the entire animation industry with the creation of Pixar.
It is impossible to discuss the history of Pixar without talking about John Lasseter. Before Lasseter pioneered an entire art form, he was a teenager growing up in a middle class Los Angeles suburb called Whittier. While in high school, Lasseter discovered a book called The Art of Animation. It donned on him that people make cartoons for a living and that’s what he wanted to do. He applied to...
Blood. In amazing amounts and frequency.
That's one of the lasting impressions of this movie penned by Matthew Sand and J. Michael Straczynski, produced by Joel Silver, and the Wachowskis, and directed by James McTeigue.
Starring Korean pop star Rain, this story of a ninja turned against his adopted martial family (Ozunu clan) and actively working to stop his fellow ninjas from committing assassination for 100 pounds of gold (a holdover from ancient times) this movie starts in massive amounts of blood, decapitation and amputation, and ends in rivers of blood, decapitation and amputation with a lot of the same in-between.
Video game. That's your second thought and impression. With all the good and bad that engenders.
Ultra-violent and dark. In all ways including a lot of barely-seen fights that are too dark to appreciate properly, and hand-held cameras that jerk the action from one black shadow to another.
And then finally,...
No one would confuse "The Octagon" with say, "The Godfather." It is what it is. A "B-movie" from the 80's starring a martial-artist turned actor. It features decent action, some decent themes and a horrible voice over that supposedly conveys the main character's internal thoughts.
It's too easy to dismiss these films as being just expired, stinky cheese - relics of a film milieu that we have hopefully left behind us as we move into the brave new worlds of Uncanny Valley CGI and 3D over-the-top actioneers that look like giant, gorgeously executed video games.
Of course, there are those die-hard fans who see no disconnect in these films and rabidly declare them as revolutionary - which to some extent they were. At the time, there wasn't anything like "The Octagon" gracing American movie screens and big action was nascent at best in any form let alone martial arts.
I try not to go to either end of the spectrum. I do laugh inadvertently at the bad dialog, plot devices or action but I also realize that it was 30+ years ago and these movies are going to look creaky no matter what,...
I hadn't seen "Man On The Moon" (the biopic about performance comedian Andy Kaufman) and when it popped up on my Netflix streaming queue I wanted to give it a screening.
I had known about Andy Kaufman from his early days on "SNL" and "Taxi." To me, he had those two bright moments and the rest of his shtick left me varying degrees of uninvolved. I'm not alone. People tended to disagree about Kaufman's "genius" - some adored him, some were, uh...varying degrees of uninvolved.
And that can be a real problem in a film, especially when a good deal of the film is about his comedic stylings. Stylings that worked and didn't work. Yeah, we get to understand him a bit more through the story but honestly, there were sections that I really wanted to fast forward through. But I'm really glad I didn't.
Played by the rubber-faced comic (but also serious actor when given the right material) Jim Carrey interprets Kaufman with energy and sincerity. It's almost as if the real Kaufman had been given a second chance to say to the world: "This is what I was...
PARAMOUNT PICTURES ROCK CINEMACON!
LOOK OUT SUMMER – GREAT STORIES, GREAT PLOTS, GREAT MOVIES!
April 17, 2013 Las Vegas, NV. The annual movie industry smorgasbord of film, stars, studios, directors, producers, and popcorn makers, aka, CinemaCon, the most widely attended event of its kind in the world, is in high gear in Las Vegas at Caesar’s Palace, and movie studios have shared product reels, stars, and their films for the upcoming summer that have rocked the thousands of attendees, with universal acknowledgement that the bar has been raised and quality writing and directing was the order of the day.
Summer 2013 will be like no other before it.
Paramount Studios kicked off the event with stars Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson speaking to the audiences at the Caesar’s Palace Coliseum before screening their upcoming film, “Pain and Gain.” The film is directed by Michael Bey, of “Transformer” fame,...
If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” ~ Bruce Lee
In 1973, the year that "Enter The Dragon" was released, the war in Vietname was ending, gas was $0.40/gallon; Skylab, Watergate and the Twin Towers were all happening. Genetic engineering, the barcode and optical fiber were invented. Movie "The Exorcist," "Deliverance," "The Sting" and Pink Floyd's album "Dark Side of the Moon" were released. Notables Seth McFarlane, Oscar DeLa Hoya and David Chappelle were born...
...And Bruce Lee died six days before the release of his film that would change martial arts films forever,
It’s been 40 years since Bruce Lee almost single-handedly introduced martial arts movies to the United States. There was an awareness, of course, of both the genre and Lee since he played the character of Kato on the TV show “The...
“Not understanding money in the movie business is like an artist who doesn’t understand paint.” - Jack Nicholson1
I first became a fan of Roger Corman as a little boy watching monster movies on television. His low budget monster films captured my imagination and brought out a boyish wonder in me, inspiring me to one day become a genre filmmaker myself. As luck would have it, I was hired in May of 2011 to produce a Corman-like creature feature film titled The Prey. The experience in independent low budget genre filmmaking made me appreciate Roger Corman even more so. My appreciation of Corman as a low budget filmmaker and businessman inspired the writing of this paper, which hopes to summarize Corman’s illustrious career, his business strategy and his legacy on mainstream cinema.
Roger Corman studied engineering at Stanford University but quickly lost interest in engineering and developed a love for filmmaking. He only worked four days as an engineer after graduating before deciding to quit his job. He landed a job at 20th Century...
Sorry about the language but that is exactly the reaction I had recently while moderating a film at the Regency South Coast Village Theater. Let me tell you about it because it further reinforces what I tell my students about this business - you just never know so never say no to anything!
First, the movie: A terrific little independent feature called "The Mulberry Tree" written by actor and first time writer Louis Crugnali. The logline sounds like you're going to want to get a box of tissues instead of popcorn:
A drama centered on a young man working in Rhode Island's state corrections system and his relationship with a convicted murderer who is dying of AIDS and spending his remaining days on hospital detail.
Yikes. Pass the soft but strong...
"My zombie stuff...is my zombie stuff. I don't take it...quite that serious" George A. Romero
Not surprisingly, George A. Romero spends a lot of time dreaming up new ways to kill zombies.
Submitted by marse on Mon, 05/24/2010 - 8:44pm
On Thursday, May 27th, the UCI Film and Video Center will present:
"Screenwriter's Choice" series, in association with the UCI Screenwriting Festival:
THELMA AND LOUISE, directed by Ridley Scott
(U.S., 1991, 120 min., 35mm print)
with award-winning screenwriter Callie Khouri, introduced by Marie Cartier
Reception: 6:30 p.m. at the entrance to Humanities Instructional Building 100
Screening: 7 p.m. HIB 100
Admission: non-FMS Students: $3, Seniors $5, General $6
"Aussies kick ass!" "We've been doing it for years!"
I had the pleasure to chat with Peter and Micheal Spierif during a phone interview to promote the DVD/Blu-ray release of Daybreakers. Peter recalled how he and his twin brother sparked the film’s initial concept. “I think Michael might have come up with just a very brief one-liner of, ‘What if the world was dominated by vampires?’ and then I added, ‘What if they weren’t [in a] postapocalyptical kind of world?’ and we kind of bounced back and forth with ‘What if?’”
Submitted by marse on Sun, 05/23/2010 - 8:32pm
Saturday we gathered to hear one of the most prolific and versatile writers of our time.
J. Michael Straczynski, aka JMS, aka Joe, put aside his crushing deadlines and came to the Regency South Coast Village Theater to take the stage and make us think, make us laugh, and make us feel good about being filmmakers.
Submitted by site admin on Sat, 05/22/2010 - 4:44pm
Legendary Screenwriter, Producer, Comic Book Author, Novelist, Journalist...J. Michael Straczynski.
His credits include: Changeling, Babylon 5, Ninja Assassin, Jeremiah, Lensman, Silver Surfer, Twilight Zone, Thor," and many more! (credits)
When: Saturday, May 22, 2010
Where: The Regency South Coast Village Theater (map)
1561 W Sunflower Ave, Santa Ana, CA- (714) 557-5701
How much: Free.
Also,radio personality Manny Pacheco will be talking about his book "Forgotten Hollywood, Forgotten History" with renowned OC journalist and radio host Gary Lycan.
Join us for a Q&A and then a rousing discussion led by JMS as he details his career and tips about working in Hollywood.
JMS will be signing autographs after the event!
Submitted by marse on Wed, 05/12/2010 - 5:43pm
Stop saying - "I could have written a better movie" and do it!
Mark Sevi, 19+ produced movies and credits, teaches scriptwriting through Irvine Valley College.
Class Info: HERE
College Signup: HERE
Both classes feature a guided workshop and breakdowns of movies with discussions on technique and the reality of Hollywood.
Submitted by marse on Tue, 05/11/2010 - 10:00am
Frank Frazetta has died. An artist of immense talent, he came to prominence on the basis of illustrations done for the Robert E. Howard Conan the Barbarian novels and other scifi and fantasy work.
Frank Frazetta's artistry never failed to inspire me. He had a truly unique voice. His work spoke of worlds that existed on the edges of our universe. He perfectly captured the look and gritty feel of the stories contained in the books he illustrated and yet he said he never read those books. Rather he found his stunning style from somewhere within himself.
Submitted by site admin on Mon, 05/10/2010 - 3:53pm
OCSWA friend Kevin Sorbo's inspiring and funny new film coming soon.
What If...God gave you another chance?
Fifteen years ago, Ben Walker (Sorbo) made a decision to leave his college sweetheart Wendy (Kristy Swanson), and ultimately his faith, in order to pursue a lucrative business opportunity. Now on the verge of marriage to an equally materialistic fiance, he is visited by an angelic mechanic (John Ratzenberger) who tells him that he needs to see what his life would have been like had he followed God’s calling. Suddenly, Ben finds himself married to Wendy with two daughters, including a rebellious teen (Debby Ryan), getting ready for church on a Sunday morning, where he’s scheduled to give his first sermon as the new pastor.
Submitted by VPhan on Fri, 05/07/2010 - 7:09am
The Father of Zombie Films: George Romero
Ever since 1968 George A. Romero has shocked the world with his unique vision of horror fiction. Audiences of horror, as well as the genre of horror itself, were forever changed since the release of Night of the Living Dead. The film was Romero’s first feature film, and it would give rise to three more sequels, all written and directed by Romero. Romero has a distinct style that separates him from the other great directors in horror. Romero has permanently changed the way that horrors stories are told on film, as well as the way horror effects are done.
Submitted by Betty Belle on Wed, 05/05/2010 - 4:53pm
In “I Am Love” (Io Sono L’amore), Tilda Swinton plays Emma, the matriarch of a rich bourgeois Italian family. Wooed from her native Russia by Tancredi (Pippo Delbono), the heir of a Milanese textile fortune, she becomes his perfect wife and ideal mother to their children. She’s trim, stylish, controlled, yet warm; she keeps everyone around her on their mark, she plans family gatherings with precision, she councils wisely. Still, despite outward appearances there’s something unsettled in her.
Although she fully embraces the Italian culture (she speaks the language impeccably, she knows her place in male/female protocol), she remains an outsider and seems unfulfilled. This yearning enables her to understand and accept her daughter, Betta’s (Alba Rohrwacher) newly discovered gay sexuality. It also allows for her own lusty awakening as she falls for her son, Eduaordo’s (Flavio Parenti) best friend, Antonio (Edoardo Gabbriellini).
Submitted by rudyjgarcia on Tue, 05/04/2010 - 11:24pm
This is something I wrote for my blog journalistbynite, but as I progress in this crazy dream of mine...I figure I should start posting some stuff here. All comments are welcome.
Submitted by marse on Sat, 05/01/2010 - 11:57pm
Last night at the Regency South Coast Village Theater the Polish Film Fesitval played two stunning films, neither of which is easy to categorize. Sometimes that can be bad but in the case of "My Flesh, My Blood" and "Zero" that is most definitely good.
Imagine the anguish and pathos of "The Wrestler" and the dangerous, raw anger of "Raging Bull" but dialed up and amped times ten.
Submitted by marse on Sat, 05/01/2010 - 8:02pm
Submitted by marse on Sat, 05/01/2010 - 3:42pm
The Polish Film Festival - every time I mention it people chuckle. I'll admit, it does sound a little like a punch line to a bad joke.
But make no mistake - this is serious, professional, wonderfully conceived and executed filmmaking on a par with anything that Hollywood has ever churned out.
Take "Trick" the film I saw this afternoon at the Regency South Coast Village Theater. Simply excellent. Directed by Jan Hryniak from a screenplay by Michal J. Zablocki, nothing in the film ever made me think it wasn't produced at the highest levels of filmdom. Trust me on this - had this film been in English and you didn't know it was a Polish film you'd think it came out of the best film minds available from Hollywood.
Submitted by marse on Fri, 04/30/2010 - 12:56pm
So, after "Jesse's Story" I'm talking with director Marc Jacobs and getting ready to leave and my niece. Kayleigh, and her friend, Monika, come into the Island Theater. They are going to see "Ondine," an Irish film starring Colin Farrell. Now the reason I mention this is because nowhere on the movie schedule does it show the screening. And since I'm on the press email list and also signed up for the NBFF Facebook page I would have expected something to come my way regarding this film.
Submitted by marse on Fri, 04/30/2010 - 10:58am
After “Clearpix” I wasn’t sure what I wanted to see. Nothing was really grabbing me. While I was standing outside deciding, an old friend Cath Brandom (who I hadn't seen since last year's film fest) and her son Dusty approached. They were heading to “Jesse’s Story,” a film about talented surfer Jesse Billauer who broke his spine surfing on the eve of turning pro at the age of sixteen.
I'd had my fill of surf movies and didn't think I wanted another one but Cath and her son coming up like that changed my mind. You see Dusty is in a wheelchair. I had to see the film and get his reaction if he’d let me. A Q&A with Dusty follows this review.
Submitted by marse on Fri, 04/30/2010 - 9:47am
This is part one of three of the last day of the Newport Beach Film Festival so let’s get right to it.
“CleanFlix” is the story about the attempt by some in Utah’s Mormon community to “sanitize” Hollywood films which turned litigious and really ugly. This narrative has more twists and turns than a road to Bear Bear and more dirt than a convention of failed preachers.
It’s too complicated to go into all the permutations but here are the high points:
Submitted by marse on Thu, 04/29/2010 - 9:58am
Maybe I’m just tired and grumpy after long days of festival but today just wasn’t a peak day at the Newport Beach Film Festival.
I didn’t go at all yesterday because of professional obligations so I was looking forward to today.
The first film I saw started the day right although they held the press out until the very last because the showing was sold out. “Accidental Icon: The Real Gidget Story” is a short (60 minutes) documentary based on a book written by novelist Fredrick Kohner who was the father of the real girl called Gidget by the boy surfers in the late-50's. Gidget (Girl mIDGET) was/is Kathy Kohner (Zuckerman) who at about the time of her fourteenth birthday wanted to surf and hang out with the boys at Malibu.
Submitted by marse on Thu, 04/29/2010 - 9:30am
The 11th Annual Polish Film Festival at the Regency South Coast Village Theater.
Movie schedule and slate HERE
Official site HERE
Submitted by marse on Tue, 04/27/2010 - 12:19am
You know it's a long festival when you find yourself waiting in the lobby of the Island Cinemas for your camerman (Eric Hensman from Lennexe Productions), eating a cold Wahoo fish sandwich left over from the day before, drinking theater coffee, and downing supplements from a ziplock bag - while talking to a short-film director who desperately wants you to come to his film - which you can't because of a scheduling conflict. But he continues anyway and all you're hoping is that you won't be burping up either the sandwich or the coffee in the upcoming screening. Fun.
The first film I saw today was "My Run."
Submitted by marse on Sun, 04/25/2010 - 11:40pm
Okay, so student films aren't brilliant, ultra-clean, well-acted productions like professional films. That's a given. On budgets less than dinner for four, the productions often suffer from no production money, too little time, too little experience and perhaps a bit too much youthful hubris.
But the energy...oh, my - what a treat to watch the young filmmakers fairly vibrating with enthusiasm and adrenalin (but trying to look chill) as they participated in the after-screening Q&A.
Submitted by marse on Sat, 04/24/2010 - 11:31pm
World premiers - now just how many of those do we get to go to? Tonight, the Regency South Coast Village Theater was host to the Newport Beach Film Festival showing of surf documentary "The Westsiders" which was premiering for the first time anywhere.
I'm an Ohio native - basically landlocked except for Lake Erie. I played in plenty of lakes when I was a kid but surfing? Nada. Zero. No interest. I am a huge fan of biolgraphical documentaries however and this film does not disappoint.
Submitted by marse on Sat, 04/24/2010 - 5:31pm
Today started early(ish) at a screenwriting seminar that was well attended. I won't cover it here since another member is going to do a write up.
Afterwards, several of us had lunch and someone commented about the quality of the films, which to this point had been uneven to this point.
I think that's to be expected in a festival. Many of these productions don't have the huge machines behind them that even smaller films out of Hollywood enjoy - like some of the boutique imprints that most studios support.
Submitted by marse on Fri, 04/23/2010 - 11:05pm
I wasn't able to go last night to the opening gala so this was my first night at the fest. To see some quick video hits from the opening go here.
In a word the festival is - fabulous.
Submitted by site admin on Fri, 04/23/2010 - 12:56pm
The first videos of opening night of the Newport Beach Film Festival are up on our YouTube page. OCSWA members Tom Sullivan and Rudy Garcia do the reporting thing.