Exciting Things Ahead!

20 05 2012

Hi All!  Many apologies for the lack of content as of late and I appreciate all the consistent viewership from all you wonderful people.  To update you all on why I have been lazy on content, I want to share a bit of the exciting news that has been going on in my life and promise you that many new reviews and updates lie ahead here on the blog as things begin to settle down a bit.

Firstly, I’m happy to announce that I will be beginning a new job tomorrow morning as the Video/Web Specialist for Inmar in Winston-Salem, N.C.  A reverse logistics and online rebates technology company, this will be their first time integrating a video producer into their team, and I’m happy and humbled that I was selected to fill the position and get to be a part of this very exciting upstart within the company.  Friday marked my last day at Novant Health after nearly a year of service there and I wish to express my gratitude to the position they provided me, as well as express my appreciation in getting to meet and work with all the wonderful people I encountered during my time producing content for their organization.

Secondly, I’m happy to announce the many progressions with Down Fenix Media, LLC in the past few months.  DFM, LLC is a combination of many talented individuals and former colleagues that have come together under one roof so to speak and build a brand that will be a solid outlet in multimedia production.  Our new and vastly improved Web site is nearly complete and will be launched within the coming weeks, as well as our first big project as a company going into production.  Furthermore, our arsenal of gear grew this past weekend as I participated in the auction of the late Viewpoint Studios of Greensboro.  I heard about the auction via the Web by hap circumstance, and immediately took a paddle number and bid via proxibid.  The final tally of gear, all at a great auction price, includes: three 600w Tweenies with stands and barndoors, a 2k molette with stand, five Bogen Manfrotto light stands, a 22ov to 24 outlet 120v distribution box on cart, a tenaba air bag for stands and stingers, a full pallet of stingers, nearly 50 lamps of varying size, two medium bank chimeras with speedrings that I will modify for two Ianebeam 650w redheads I recently acquired for free, some snoots and a few other odds and ends.  Not a bad a haul and a nice way to bring my tungsten lighting package up to a nice solid 10 unit set.

Not necessarily a career related entry into my business schedule, but surely a very important and time consuming project for me has been working towards the completion of my first novel.  After many false starts over the years, this bucket list item will finally be checked off quite soon.  The novel, which carries what I would consider a “science fiction lite” element, began in July, 2011, and I have been consistently working on it and developing the story as time has allowed since.  I do have a title for the book, but want to keep all that under wraps until I have the chance to complete, revise and submit to several literary agents.  However, I will say that I am currently at 60,000 words and am working on the final stretch of the novel; my guess is final word count length will be somewhere in the 72,000-80,000 range.  It’s been a great experience and I hope I get the opportunity to share it with as many people as possible once it’s fully completed, perfected and marketing avenues lined up.

As for the Notesonafilm.com, I’m happy to report that my site was deemed worthy of being included in the new WordAds feature of WordPress which is currently in a Beta testing state.  So, the new ads you see here on the site are because of my recent inclusion in that program.  Hope you all will check out some of the sponsors as WordPress begins the launch of this wonderful and innovative way to allow their faithful WordPress.com members to get some paid hits.

Lastly, either this week or the next, I will be releasing my directorial debut on the Web for all to see and enjoy.  Based on the Philip K. Dick short story of the same name, Beyond the Door was filmed over Labor Day weekend 2010 and completed post production in April of last year.  After a festival run and several other screenings abroad, I’m happy to share it with everyone and look forward to comments and criticisms.  So, stay tuned for the release of this very dear film to me; you’ll see it here first!

Thanks for taking the time to read these updates and I look forward to returning to this site with some new and interesting content in full force very soon!

My Week with Marilyn (2011) Review

15 03 2012

Copyright 2011 The Weinstein Company

★ ★ ★ ★

Another new release to DVD – we are on a roll burning through 2011 movies!  This one is a nostalgic look at an iconic world figure based on the supposed true events during and around the time of filming the 1957 film The Prince and the Showgirl.

Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), the son of wealthy art historian Lord Clark, wants to leave his upper class aristocratic lifestyle and “join the circus” that is the movies.  In an attempt to get his foot in the door, he moves to London and relentlessly pursues employment at the offices of Laurence Olivier Productions.  Impressed with his insistence, Sir Laurence (Kenneth Branagh), the noted actor and director, offers him a position as third assistant director on his next picture which will star American screen icon, Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams).  Clark readily accepts, and is awe struck with his new found position.  Monroe, who has recently married playwright Arthur Miller, arrives in the United Kingdom for filming with her entourage, which includes acting coach Paula Strasburg (Zoe Wanamaker) and management David Orton (Robert Portal).  Once filming begins, the evidence of Marilyn’s many personal troubles are brought to light and her and Olivier clash regularly on set.  In an effort to calm the tension and keep an eye on the turbulent Monroe, Clark strikes a relationship that blossoms into a brief romance.  His time with the actress and experiences on set were documented in his memoir, of which the film was based.

Production-wise, the film is quite solid.  This is likely director Simon Curtis’s biggest achievement to date, being that much of his previous work was television or smaller films, and he handles the cast of experienced British and American stars quite well.  The cinematography by Ben Smithard, a new name to me, is gracefully shot and evokes the hues and tone of the era in which it recaptures during the late 1950s.  The use of hard back light and classic Hollywood lighting during the set sequences is very much true to form to the era, and it contrasts quite nicely to the mood enhanced lighting during the real life scenes of Monroe’s struggles.

For me, however, where this film truly shone was in the script by Adrian Hodges, that was intriguing and never dull, and the acting by the all-star cast.  Redmayne gave a good leading performance as Clark, but even still was over shadowed by the tremendous performances by Williams as Monroe and Branagh as Olivier.  I’ve always been a Branagh fan and he is a perfect choice to play Olivier, being that if you look at both their careers, his has very closely mirrored and taken cue from Olivier’s.  His brilliant Shakespearean work, various stints directing other genres and solid characterizations in other films like Woody Allen’s Celebrity make Branagh, in my opinion, one of the UK’s most well-rounded working actors.  For this performance, he was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, but lost out to fellow Brit Christopher Plummer for Beginners, a film I have not yet seen.

Now, for the real shining star of the film, Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe.  Whereas, Monroe was iconically beautiful, Williams is cute in a waifish sort of way.  Upon seeing the trailer for this film, I really didn’t buy Williams as looking that much like Monroe.  However, once seeing it, her ability to re-create the voice, mannerisms and minute details of the Monroe persona sold the part so well that it was brilliant.  Williams, likewise, was nominated for an Oscar for her performance, for Best Actress, but lost to Meryl Streep’s The Iron Lady.  Williams, however, at just 30 years old, I’m sure has a long and fruitful career ahead of her.

In short, this was a well made and very worthwhile film.  I would highly recommend it to audiences of any demographic.

Bridesmaids (2011) Review

11 10 2011

Copyright 2011 Universal Pictures

★ ★ 1/2

After many pleads from my girlfriend, I finally relented and watched this movie with her.  It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be from the title and premise, but it definitely wasn’t that entertaining of a film either.

Directed by Paul Feig, the movie focuses on the misadventures of, guess what, a group of bridesmaids at friend Lillian’s (Maya Rudolph) wedding.  Annie, who is portrayed by Kristin Wiig, has been Lillian’s friend since childhood and the two are nearly inseparable.  Having owned a now defunct bakery and her life pretty much in the gutter, it is a bit difficult for her to hear her best friend is going to get married, but she is wildly excited when it is announced that she will be the maid of honor.  However, as the plot begins to unfurl, it shows that Annie’s ability to coordinate all the duties of being the maid of honor are far inferior to Lillian’s new friend and wife of her fiancee’s boss, Helen (Rose Byrne).  The story continues through the feuding of Helen and Annie, as well as the continued downward spiral of Annie’s life, and a romance with a police officer (Chris O’Dowd) is even thrown into the mix as a subplot.

Where and when it has become acceptable to produce comedies over two hours long is beyond me.  It’s just too damn long; comedies are meant to amuse and travel at a pace that holds the comedic element.  When you drag gags and situations out too long, they quit being funny.  Furthermore, unless you have an extremely detailed plot beyond that of the mishaps of a group of bridesmaids, you just don’t have the  structure to entertain for that amount of time.  A large part of this trend, I believe, comes from the recent phenomena of comedies letting 90% of their film be improvisations.  Sure, letting actors improv in a comedy can produce some amusing elements in the film, but when you just roll cameras with an idea and let them carry on during every scene, you get some hits and a lot of misses.  When you look at the better comedies of all-time, you will notice certain elements that seemingly hold true: a tight, well conceived script that generally runs an hour and half or so, incredibly odd or amusing characters and a pacing that continuously moves forward.  This film didn’t have any of those elements.  It wasn’t terrible, it just wasn’t good.  But, again, better than I thought based on the title and synopsis.

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