Golden Globes!

16 01 2012

So, last night was the Golden Globes Awards presentation, likely the second most prestigious awards show and a usual pre-cursor and foreshadower of what usually occurs at the Oscars ceremony a couple months later.  I have to be completely honest here, I missed the show; however, I did have a good reason, as I spent the entire weekend moving into my new house.  This morning, I’m mentally and physically exhausted, compounded by lack of sleep due to an anxious dog and two anxious cats in a new place, but I still want to take a brief moment to recap the wins.  Being that I’ve been in the moving process for the past couple weeks, I’ve failed to see as many of the top contenders as would have hoped.  Now that I’m a little more settled, I’ll be catching up in time for the Oscars, so come back soon when I can have a more formulated opinion.  Anyway, here is the entire list of winners from last night’s ceremony:

Best Drama
The Descendants

Best Comedy/Musical
The Artist

Best Animated Film
The Adventures of TinTin

Best Actor in a Drama
George Clooney, The Descendants

Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical
Jean Dujardin, The Artist

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
Christopher Plummer, Beginners

Best Actress in a Drama
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady

Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy
Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Octavia Spencer, The Help

Best Director

Martin Scorsese, Hugo

Best Screenplay
Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen

Best Score – Motion Picture
The Artist – Ludovic Bource

Best Original Song – Motion Picture
“Masterpiece” – Madonna

Best Foreign Language Film
A Separation, Iran

Cecil B. Demille Award
Morgan Freeman

Television

Best TV Comedy or Musical
Modern Family

Best Television Series – Drama
Homeland

Best Mini-Series
Downton Abbey

Best Actor in a TV Drama
Kelsey Grammer, Boss

Best Actor in a TV Musical or Comedy
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes

Best Supporting Actor in TV Series, Mini-Series, or Made-for-TV Movie
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones

Best Actress in a TV Drama
Claire Danes, Homeland

Best Actress in a TV Musical or Comedy
Laura Dern, Enlightened

Best Supporting Actress in TV Series, Mini-Series, or Made-for-TV Movie

Jessica Lange, American Horror Story

Best Actor in a TV Movie
Idris Elba, Luther

Best Actress in a TV Movie
Kate Winslet, Mildred Pierce

I’ll take a moment to comment where I can.  The two biggest films of the year, I’ve yet to see; one because of the moving, the other because it still hasn’t been released in my city yet.  Those two movies are The Descendants and The Artist.  The Artist is actually my most anticipated film of 2011, so I am ecstatic that it will be opening at the local indie theater this coming week.  I will likely see it and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy as a double feature this coming weekend.  I can’t wait!

Though I haven’t seen the film yet, I was very excited about its (The Artist) wins – it’s shaping up to possibly be the first silent film since 1929 to win a Best Picture Oscar.  Being a silent film aficionado, that’s music to my ears.  Maybe more silents will be hitting the modern cineplexes because of its success.  The next on the list I can comment on was for Best Supporting Actress for Octavia Spencer; I think this was definitely a deserved award for her incredible performance.  In my review of the film from a couple weeks ago, I made special note of her and Viola Davis’s wonderful performances.  Scorsese winning Best Director, but no Best Picture Comedy/Musical is a bit of a surprise, but I loved Hugo and his direction of the film was expertly handled, so this was a pleasant surprise as well.  Now, for my most pleasant surprise…Woody Allen winning Best Writing!  I haven’t written a ton about Allen on the blog, partly because I’ve seen all his films and most of the films I review here are recent watches.  However, Allen is in my top five favorite filmmakers of all-time, and to see him win so much recognition after nearly a decade of lackluster films, is a good feeling.  The only other win I can wholeheartedly support is Downton Abbey.  I’m currently working through the second series with an iTunes season pass.  So far, it’s been as good as series one, and that’s saying a lot.

Well, those are my views on what I feel I can comment on.  Hopefully, within the coming week or two I’ll have a chance to catch up on my film going and have a little more informed opinion on this year’s best films.  Stay tuned!

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CLAW Award for “Banks of the Vltava”

1 11 2011

Copyright 2011 Walk in the Park Pictures, LLC

Banks of the Vltava is a short film project that I shot for frequent collaborator, Dan A. R. Kelly.  It’s a very near and dear project to my heart, as every member of both the cast and crew put 110% into this project to make it happen.  From the first read through of the script, we all knew that it was going to be an ambitious film to complete.  However, everyone involved was committed to the story and the determination and drive that exuded from writer/director Kelly spilled onto all those involved.  One of the most ambitious elements of the story is the fact that it takes place in Prague in 1943, but was of course to be shot in Greensboro, North Carolina in 2009-10.  This required numerous period costumes, props and other pieces to sell the time period.  On a large budget production, acquiring these items isn’t a problem, but on a smaller budget it’s much more difficult to secure.  Furthermore, the project required a large ensemble cast, an array of visual and makeup effects (as it is a horror film) and almost a complete schedule of night shoots.

Production spanned over, I believe, about a 15-16 day shoot over nearly a one and a half year period.  As stated earlier, nearly all of these days, outside of about two, were night shoots (6pm-6am).  During the time we shot this production, the commonality of DSLRs had not yet hit the market.  If you wanted a shallow depth of field and cinematic look on a lower budget camera package, a good old DOF adapter was really the way to go.  So, the film was shot on my HVX-200 with a Redrock m2 adapter and Nikon glass; this yielded a relative ISO of about 100.  For those of you not familiar with film sensitivity ratings, it takes A LOT of light to properly expose an image at 100 ISO when you are shooting at night.  We only had HMI availability on two nights, so the majority of the film was lit with an array of 1k and 2k fresnels, 1k PARs, a pair of Blondes, a Redhead, various smaller unit fresnels, a pair of Kino 2-4ft banks and a 750 ZIP light.  There are times where all units we had access to were being powered by a set of generators out in the woods.  In the end, I feel we did a good job of pulling it all off, and some of that was validated this weekend, which is really the true point of the post.

Over the weekend, the film screened at two festivals: the Terror Film Festival in Philadelphia, Penn. and the Buffalo Screams Film Festival in Buffalo, N.Y.  We were very happy to be nominated for awards at both festivals!  At the Terror Film Festival, nominations for their CLAW Awards were given to Best Horror Short Film, Best Specials Effects for the brilliant work by Shane D. Smith, Best Actor to our lead Rami Rothstein, and Best Director of Photography for myself.  At Buffalo Screams, the film was nominated for Best Makeup Effects by the talented Gretchen Adams.  Late on Saturday night, as I was watching an episode of Storage Wars on the couch with Maddie, I got a text from Dan, who had gone to Philadelphia to represent the film at the Terror Film Festival.  Turns out, we won the CLAW award for Best Director of Photography.  Needless to say, it was very exciting news and always a good feeling to be recognized for your contribution on a film.  It was also a very special film, personally, to be recognized for, because of the extra mile that was gone on all of our crew and casts’ behalf to get the film produced.  Also, as with anything, it’s a collaborative effort and I had a wonderful crew to support me in achieving the look I was implementing for Dan.

Check out more about this film and other WiTPP productions at: http://www.walkintheparkpictures.com





The Grifters (1990) Review

8 08 2011

Copyright 1990 Cineplex-Odeon Films

★ ★ ★

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I started watching this movie, as I knew very little about it.  However, from what I knew, I thought that it would involve some kind of exciting heist or interesting plot line full of surprises.  In the end, it concluded with neither and was a bit of a non-climatic, unmemorable film.

John Cusack plays small-time con man Roy Dillon who has a visit from his estranged con mother from Baltimore, Lilly (Anjelica Huston).  Complicating matters between himself and his mother is his girlfriend, a sexually-charged ex large-time con accomplice, Myra Langtry (Annette Bening).  The film meanders around with several circumstances confronting each of the main characters: Roy gets hit in the stomach and almost dies which gives him a new lease on life, Lilly is found to be stealing from her mob boss and is sent on the run, and Myra wants to get back into large-time conning with Roy.  These complications all affect Roy in some form and, eventually, unravel his life.  All the characters are seedy in this film and, though it plays alright and keeps some form of interest, there is really no big pay-off in the finale.

I’ve never been a huge fan of any of these actors; honestly, the only one I can somewhat stand is Annette Bening, and that is only in certain roles.  Cusack plays his same laconic self and Huston has just never appealed to me whatsoever for no good reason.  I haven’t seen a lot of Stephen Frears’s movies, and won’t say that this was directed bad, but it just didn’t pay off script-wise for me.  Maybe some people will like the nostalgic feel or think there is something clever in the plot line that eluded me, but on the whole, this film just fell really flat.

Surprisingly, the movie was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Huston, Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Bening, Best Director and Best Writing, for material based on another medium for Donald Westlake.  Though it won none of these awards, it must have been a pretty mundane year to even garner this many nominations.  But, then again, the Best Picture winner this year was Dances with Wolves, so that kind of sums it up for 1990.





Our Official Entry into the 48 Hour Film Project Greensboro: “Eat Me!”

4 08 2011

About six weeks ago, I put out a post based on my experiences with the 48 Hour Film Project.  Subsequently, a few weeks later, I posted on some administrative changes to the Greensboro 48 Hour Film Project that I felt were pertinent for continued success of this filmmaking collaboration in our region.  As of yesterday, our entry into the 2011 Greensboro 48 Hour Film Project has been posted online at vimeo.com.  I have provided a link below for all those interested in viewing the film in it’s entirety.  Do note that a few extra sound effects were added that were not in the original entry; however, other than those minor changes, all is the same.

I hope you enjoy and can’t thank my collaborators enough for a wonderful 48 experience on set!  If anyone has any questions related to production of this short or how the 48 works, just post them into the comments section and I will do my best to answer.

Our criteria was as follows:

Genre: Comedy

Line: “Where did you go?”

Prop: Crayons

Character: Plumber – Don or Donna Hastert

 








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