Putting my money where my mouth is… (v.2.0)

Once upon a time (1 year ago) I was cast as a principle performer in an independent horror film shooting in New Hampshire.

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For a variety of reasons, after 7 weeks on a supposed 2 week shoot, the entire thing fell apart…unfinished forever. I was devastated, having harbored a desire to act for decades, my tiny dream was crushed to a million pieces. The Director has since removed all evidence of this production from the internet- save one:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1632301302/feature-film-the-curse-of-cherry-valley

It was my first time acting, save a brief short film appearance in 2007 as a wiggling eyebrow (also unfinished). I look at it now, realize that it is edited badly, but I can see the weakness of the performance, but in my defense, I wanted to play that opening scene “scared”. The Director told me to be stand-offish and dismissive “What do YOU want (as if he was a piece of crap instead of the object of terror)”. As I said, I have problems with the scene. My other scenes, however, were pretty damn good. I discovered that, when given a little freedom with the less polished scenes, I could really bring a character to life and improv some awesome stuff- scene stealing stuff. Alas it all ended for me…

Until now!

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(Skitcom Productions: Fade to Reality Season 3 Promo Art by Adam Atherton)

The leading lady on Cherry Valley, Anna Rizzo sent me her latest script for a web series she is involved with called “Fade to Reality” for Skitcom productions. Having watched and enjoyed this series, I jumped at the chance to do something in their upcoming third season. I traveled a couple of hours north and shot the first of my 2 days on the set tonight. I met the creator/writer/star Dave Schweitzer, and was reunited with Anna. I won’t lie, it was a little awkward at first. We said our “hellos”, and a brief silence existed between us. The “Curse” of Cherry Valley permeates! We re-broke the ice and briefly talked about the lingering horror of those crisp autumn days in the North.

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After catching up on each others lives (very quickly- it turns out we aren’t all that interesting) and then set about completing the day’s shoot. I admit, I was nervous going in front of the camera again, but it wore off. I brought a character to life in what I hope will be an entertaining performance. The fellow actors seemed pleased with what I did. I will post the result here when it is published, but for now PLEASE catch up with this wonderful series and give them some social media love!

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Blue Jasmine

The 375th film I have seen in theaters…

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Ah, big number 375, and the last for a couple months- need to recharge bank account.

My favorite movies are the ones that don’t have happy endings…

The Plot

This is the story of Jasmine, a woman who has fallen on hard times. Her NYC Billionaire husband (Baldwin) went to prison for fraud. She now finds herself in San Francisco with her sister (Hawkins). The film uses flashbacks from her life of luxury to her present situation with her working class sister to weave it’s tale. We see a woman try to come to terms with the train wreck that her life as become as her identity unravels. Despite this heavy foundation, the film is quite funny, as could be said of most of Woody’s films.

The Cast

As with any Woody Allen film, besides the intelligent writing, the casting are what makes them special. He has a terrific habit of assembling the absolute best for his films, which makes one particular casting decision surprising- but it works.

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Cate Blanchette is simply, or not so simply, one of the top actresses of our time. I would be surprised if she does not get an Oscar nomination for this one. This is a woman losing her mind, and she sells it like no other.blue-jasmine-image01

Alec Baldwin, returning from Allen’s last terrific film “To Rome with Love” plays Hal, the Wall Street swindler. Perfect casting.

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Sally Hawkins, whom I was not familiar with before this film, plays Jasmine’s sister Ginger. She is living a happy life, planning to get re-married when Jasmine starts to convince her that her fiance is “a loser”. Apparently she hit ti big with a movie called “Happy-Go-Lucky” a few years back. I will check it out and report.

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Bobby Cannavale (BEST thing about season 3 of Boardwalk Empire) plays Chilli, ginger’s fiance. He’s a auto mechanic, a “regular guy” who dislikes the influence Jasmine has on his plans with Ginger.

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Sweet mother of God, am I really about to write this…

Andrew Dice Clay nearly stole the movie. Besides Blanchett, he is the best thing in it…

There! I got it out! In all seriousness, Clay was phenomenal. He plays Ginger’s first husband Augie, a contractor. He gave Hal (Bladwin) $200.000 to invest which was promptly lost due to the fact that Hal was a swindler. Perfect casting, but not as perfect as that Members Only Jacket.

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Louis C.K. is Al, a man Ginger meets at a party with Jasmine. She promptly falls for him, despite her relationship with Chilli. (writing Chilli over and over is making me hungry)

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Peter Sargaard, my favorite thing in “Green Lantern” besides Mark Strong, plays Dwight, the new man in Jasmine’s life. An aspiring politician, he represents a return to the sort of life she used to lead.

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Oh, Michael Stulhbarg…how I adore you so!

Many recognize him from his role on Boardwalk Empire as Arnold Rothstein. He is a phenomenal actor who I hope hits it big someday. He plays Dr. Flicker- Dentist. Jasmine takes a job as his receptionist. A great role!

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Although he is not onscreen, Woody Allen is present throughout the film. From the music, to the beautiful establishing shots showcasing his love of NYC and San Fran, this is Woody at his best.

The Skinny

What makes this a great film, for me, is that it does not have a happy ending. In fact, it’s pursuit of a happy ending for our protagonist would actually be a bad thing. What lessons has she learned? In the end, none. She has become a crazy person, zonked out on pills, stuck in the past, fantasizing about a non existent future. She’s the crazy pigeon lady. Its a great commentary of the Bernie Madoff type of “elite” who’s lives fell apart following decades of extravagance all based on theft. It’s a look at the life of blue collar people, compared to the debutantes. It says a lot. Damn good movie.

The World’s End

The 374th film I have seen in theaters…

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The Three Flavor Cornetto trilogy is now complete! Edgar Wright reunites with his “Spaced” stars for a third “thematic” follow up to Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.

Plot

This is the story of Gary King (Pegg), a man who will not let go of his past. He still behaves as if it were 1990 and he was a teenager. He drives the same car, wears the same clothes, listens to the same music, and drinks himself to oblivion. Having never conquered a famous mile long pub crawl “The Golden Mile”, he reunites “the gang” in an attempt to recreate that magical night of their last attempt and make it to “The World’s End” the last pub in the crawl. While Gary is still living in the early 90’s, the others have moved on, but are begrudgingly convinced to go along for nostalgia.

That is all the plot you are getting from me. Yes, there is an awesome twist in the film and it is terrific, but I don’t like spoiling people. Discover it for yourself.

Cast

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Simon Pegg is brilliant as “The King” a man who thinks that he is still famous for his partying prowess, a hometown legend. Sadly, he has been all but forgotten.

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Nick Frost is the best friend- Andy. He has left his partying days behind and is a recovering alcoholic. Being on a pub crawl is not the best idea.

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Paddy Considine is Steve. He has moved on, made a life, and is now dating a young fitness instructor.

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Sam, former paramour of Gary, Steve (above) has had a crush on her for decades.

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Sam’s brother Oliver, real estate agent. He really does not want to be there.

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Scene stealer Eddie Marsan plays Peter. He’s settled down, works at his father’s car dealership.

A perfectly cast film. All bring their unique touch to the proceedings.

The Skinny

This is probably the best of the 3 Cornetto films. All the characters are well developed, have their moments to shine, and bring something of substance to the film. It is cleverly written and directed by Edgar Wright, with Pegg as co-writer. The movie starts off as one thing, becomes something else, and ends as NO ONE in the theater would have predicted.

I await their further adventures in ice cream theme-ology.

Breaking Bad

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Just a quick reminder that Breaking Bad came back this week, and holy hell…what an episode it was!

Walt has left the Meth Business and has retired to a life as a Car Wash Owner. His Cancer has also returned- something he is keeping secret from the family.

Hank, who now knows that Walt is Heisenberg, begins to piece together the case that has haunted him for the past couple years.

Jesse, who is also haunted, starts giving away his 5 million dollar cut of the business. This troubles Saul, the lawyer, and Walt. Jesse now sees how dangerous Walt has become.

The episode ends with Walt finding a tracer on his car, and confronting Hank about it. The cards are on the table. Walt is aware that Hank knows who Heisenberg is.

#treadlightly

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Remember my name indeed.

The Wolverine

The 373rd film I have seen in theaters…

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After nearly a month hiatus, I return to regular postings after a trip around the country! I traveled from Massachusetts to Seattle, by way of  Michigan, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Idaho. I then went down to San Francisco and traveled to Dallas by way of Reno, SLC, and Denver. The trip ended back in Mass after stops in Graceland, Tupelo, Atlanta and DC. If I am so inclined, I will write up a story on it, but right now I need to see, and write up, some of the movies I missed!

This afternoon the wife and I ventured out of our home to see The Wolverine, Hollywood’s version of the “Wolverine in Japan” stories.

Plot

The film begins with Logan saving the life of a Japanese officer during the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. 60+ years later, Wolverine is in Canada, in seclusion after the events of X-Men 3. His dreams are plagued by Jean Grey, whom he was forced to kill. After a bar fight, Yukio, a Japanese woman is sent to bring him to Tokyo. The Japanese officer he saved in the 40’s is now dying and wants to use Logan’s healing powers to save himself. Logan refuses and the old man dies, but not before asking Logan to protect his granddaughter Mariko. Yakuza assassins try to kidnap Mariko and Logan is forced to take her across Japan to evade the villains. He discovers during the first big shoot out that his healing powers are gone. He is vulnerable. The rest of the film is fairly predictable.  Wolverine falls in love with Mariko, the baddies capture her, forcing Logan to travel to a remote science complex to save her. He is captured and forced to fight The Silver Samurai.

Cast

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After 6 film appearances, Hugh Jackman continues to be a terrific Wolverine. It would be nearly impossible to recast at this point. He gets to play up Logan’s vulnerabilities this time out, having lost his powers.

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Famke Janssen returns as the Nightmare version of Jean Grey. Used to demonstrate Logan’s desire for peace and forgiveness, she appears in far more of the film than I expected.

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Tao Okamoto portrays Mariko Yashida, who is pretty much Wolverine’s Lois Lane. This is her first major film role, and she does a great job.

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Filling out the female badass role is Rila Fukushima as Yukio. She is Wolverine’s Bodyguard. hehe. They leave the door open to further appearances in the franchise.

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One of our villains, The Viper is played by Svetlana Khodchenkova. Other than use her abilities to negate Logan’s healing factor, she brings very little to the proceedings. A wasted character. The entire film could have played out exactly as it did without her presence.

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Will Yun Lee plays Harada, the man who is supposed to be Silver Samurai…but is not in this film. He is a great actor who is also kind of wasted here.

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The Silver Samurai. This movie has a serious villain problem. At the very end, we see who has been after Wolverine and Mariko, and it works, to an extent. The whole movie was essentially Logan and Mariko on the run, and then beating the bad guys. This film just badly needed another rewrite. The ending could have been punched up, and the middle could have used less exposition. On the whole, an OK film. I would rank X-Men films thus:

1) X-Men 2

2: X-Men First Class

3: X-Men

4: The Wolverine

5: X-Men Origins: Wolverine

6: X-Men: Last Stand

The absolute BEST part of the film is the extra scene during the credits (a problem Hangover 3 suffered). I won’t spoil it completely but a couple of familiar faces might show up to tease the next big project…

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