Thursday, June 25, 2009

fly me to the 'moon'

when you venture to make a film where one actor is essentially on screen alone for the duration of the film, you’d better pick a pretty interesting actor. director duncan jones did: he picked sam rockwell. sam is just enough equal parts quirky, charming, and dark to be engaging for any length of time. which is apparently at least 97 minutes, in this case.

this is duncan jones’ first film. and it’s great. while it’s a little reminiscent of a few other sci-fi classics, like ‘outland’, ‘2001’, and ‘solaris’ — great films to be reminiscent of, by the way — it’s strong enough and unique enough to stand on its own. of course, a lot of that rides on sam rockwell’s performance. too many of the reviews on call it a ‘tour de force’, which sounds like a bicycle race to me. i agree that it’s a great performance, but there are no bikes in the movie. only a treadmill and a few moon rovers. i hope people laud my first feature acting performance as a ‘tour de farce’. that is my hope.

i didn’t know this going in, but duncan jones is david bowie’s son. awesome. so he’s no stranger to sci-fi space odysseys. actually i would’ve peed myself if david bowie floated by on a tin can. and it’s apparent that duncan studied philosophy in school; the movie is more a thinking film than a doing film. there’s painfully little action in it. which is okay, except at one point the story seems to be heading towards a bit of a showdown, but then doesn’t. it was starting to feel like the end of ‘outland’, when sean connery is preparing to fight the small crew of professionals sent to take him out. as in kill him, not date him. although who knows how it would’ve ended up. maybe sean jumped to conclusions. maybe there’s a deleted scene somewhere with a shot of a backpack full of pinot noir and truffles.

i am a patient film-watcher. as long as the film deserves my patience. this film does. and i think it deserves yours.


for more about duncan jones read this interview: boston globe interview with duncan jones

Friday, June 19, 2009

pig pile

hey kids.
i designed another silly tshirt for
i figure, eventually, they'll print one. finger and toes crossed.

if you have time, i'd love for you to vote for it:



Wednesday, June 17, 2009

a week in vegas

terry fator's sister debi called me a few weeks ago, to invite me to a birthday dinner she was throwing for terry. i hadn't seen him since i went to the soft-opening of his mirage show back in february. that was an interesting time for me, because i had just driven from kentucky to l.a. and i hadn't found an apartment yet. i remember staying on billy zabka's couch one night thinking 'this is a little surreal'.

i got into vegas around 6, and terry's show started at 7:30. i quickly checked in to my room and ran to drop my stuff off before meeting terry in his dressing room. i put the keycard in and it made its little R2D2 noise. i opened the door to reveal an entire family of people, sitting on the bed, watching tv. one woman was in a towel putting on her makeup in front of the mirror. i slowly closed the door and backed away, as if from a wild panther.

after i got that sorted out at the front desk i went to terry's dressing room. it was full of family members and friends. people kept pouring in the door to meet terry and wish him happy birthday. suddenly i see kirk thatcher, a guy i used to work with at henson. we hadn't seen each other in years. stunned we both asked 'what the heck are you doing here?'

on our way to the theatre we passed comedian brad garret. he and his family were there to see terry's show. also, brad was in town for a two-man show he's doing with ray romano. we shook his hand and moved on.

we all took our seats in the terry fator theatre. my seat was just behind kirk's, so i could throw small things at his head. but then the usher signaled me. then terry's manager, john, started calling and gesturing to me. i looked up to see brad garret approaching my seat. the ushers checked my ticket and found that i was in the wrong seat. i was in brad garret's seat. he is a big man. i am a small man. but he was nice, and didn't kill me.

the show was fantastic. they added a lot of new material, and the pacing was great. kirk, who was a comedy writer and director at henson, was quite impressed with the show.

after the show, we all met at a restaurant in the mirage for terry's birthday dinner. there were maybe fifty people seated at the long table. i sat next to terry's wife, across from kirk. about halfway through dinner, robin leach and his date showed up. they sat next to kirk, across from me. for some weird reason, robin decided that i was short, and proceeded to make short jokes about me all night. it was very bizarre. at one point he called me a short kenny loggins. awesome.

the next day terry asked me to stay the rest of the week. he wanted to work on writing a song with me. it was a lot of fun. we played a lot of tiger woods golf on the wii. it has a frisbee golf mode.

i've been to vegas millions of times. but i've never stayed for more than three days. that's about how much vegas i can take. but something weird happened this time. i stayed past that threshhold, and suddenly that magic of vegas sort of lifted. it became a normal place for me. with a starbucks and a target. each day, driving from my hotel to terry's condo felt normal. i always used to wonder how people could live in vegas. and now i know. they live there just like they would anywhere. it was sort of a fascinated feeling, but i don't know if i should be sad that vegas lost its spark for me.

Monday, June 01, 2009

8 reasons you need to see star trek

jj abrams had, what i imagine was, a daunting task in front of him. rebooting a franchise as classic and beloved as star trek would require a delicate balance. he had to respect the source material and satisfy a notoriously obsessive and critical fan-base. at the same time, he had to reinvigorate the material so it would appeal to an audience who had never watched the original series. with this film, he succeeds wildly in all respects. here’s why:

1 the cast - manages to capture the essence of original characters, without ever becoming caricatures of them. each character gets to say a signature line or phrase. in some cases, the actors speak with the same cadence.

2 chris pine as kirk - pine does a wonderful job of maintaining kirk’s reckless, head-strong manner. he brings such charisma and presence to the role, that there is a distinct glimmer of a young shatner.

3 zachary quinto as spock - likewise, quinto digs into the core of spock. but much in the way daniel craig played an early bond, spock comes off as more human, more jagged.

4 eric bana as nero! - bana brings a ferocity to the romulan baddie, but also plays him very casual, almost condescending.

5 seamless, believable fx. - the characters felt like they were really in the settings, as opposed to feeling composited into a videogame.

6 good pacing, high energy - the movie has a great balance of tension, high-octane action, and light-hearted playfulness.

7 great music - the score, by michael giacchino (who i actually met when i worked at the henson company. he did music for our first two video games!), is never distracting or overpowering. and there’s my favorite beastie boys song - sabotage! woohoo!

8 the heart of a budding buddy-cop tale - this is my favorite thing about the film. the core of the movie centers on the importance of spock and kirk’s friendship - one that will become the backbone of all that the enterprise will accomplish. this was essential to the original series, as well as the films. spock and kirk, as characters, really make the perfect buddy team. they are almost complete opposites at first glance. spock tries so hard to conceal his human nature, his emotion. kirk lives by his. but in truth, kirk understands logic, and spock understands passion. they compliment each other, and magnify each other’s strengths.

so do yourself a favor and see this film. i saw it three times, and loved it each time.
have you seen it already? what did you think?