Movie Mondays: INSURGENT Review

I would be remiss if I didn’t review INSURGENT, since I’ve posted before about reading the series by Veronica Roth and my admiration of some of her choices.  However, with time, the appeal of both the series and the movie franchise has lost some of its appeal. I’ll probably need to see INSURGENT again to have a clearer grasp on what I think, but my overall reaction was…eh.  For an action movie, this was pretty anti-climatic and undercut the major revelations that serve the books better.

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Movie Mondays: WILD

I went to see the movie before I started reading the book.  I know, I know, it’s sacrilege.  But seeing the movie WILD made me want more, in a good way, and I didn’t think having seen the movie would impact my experience of reading the book.  So far, it hasn’t.  Maybe the events that happen in the book don’t have as much surprise or weight because I remember them from the movie, but what I like about both the movie and the memoir is that it is about so much more than just the events.

I have a fair amount of back-country hiking and camping experience.  Most of it terrible.  Like really really terrible.  My dad grew up a Boy Scout and we lived near the Shenandoah Mountains portion of the Appalachian Trail.  I didn’t actually know there was such a thing as “car camping” until my late teens, and even then my family wasn’t allowed to camp in those campgrounds except a handful of times out of necessity.

Despite ridiculous ascensions, washed out trails, puking, lots and lots of rain, family dysfunction, emergency clinic visits, and more lightning/rain/hail/snow/wind, I truly loved and still love being in the woods.  The words that come to mind are “quiet” and “stillness” yet neither of these things exist, at all, in the woods.  Everything is moving.  Everything makes noise.  There is something in the isolation, though, that feels quiet and still.  And I need that in order to make sense of my world.

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It’s been a long time since I last saw WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT (Robert Zemeckis, 1988).  It’s an iconic film in my family’s history, and I had the pleasure of sharing it for the first time with my own children.  As a filmmaker, I was struck by how well the animation and live action were woven together, especially with 80’s technology.  It was fun and big, a bit over-acted, and even terrifying at the end when the villain, Judge Doom, turns into a crazy-eyed toon.  I remember being horrified as a kid, and it was no less horrifying this time around!  Snappy dialogue, funny innuendos, pushing the envelope just a bit…it really has everything going for it.

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movie_mondaysHarmony Korine’s SPRING BREAKERS movie is a contradiction: a visual orgasm of pornographic/pedophiliac imagery that can be interpreted as art, social commentary, or trash.  There is too much artistry in it to be dismissed but it falls short of any kind of social commentary because the story grounding the visual/auditory orgy is so convoluted and fantastical.

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It’s Movie Mondays and I managed to watch a bunch of movies this past week!  Here’s my review of THE WOLVERINE (2013), directed by James Mangold:


What works really well in the X-MEN Series is how the writers tie in world history/events to give greater meaning to the action.  In THE WOLVERINE, that event is the atomic bomb landing on Nagasaki.  In that opening sequence, US B-52s fly over a Japanese POW camp in Nagasaki and everyone realizes the end is near.  A Japanese soldier, Yashida, frees the prisoners, including Wolverine knowing how dangerous he is.  Wolverine in turn stops Yashida from committing hari-kiri and protects the soldier’s body with his own when the blast goes off.  It is a moment that humanizes the “enemy” and the war and also reminds the audience in stunning visual FX of that horrible time in our world history.  It made me wonder how we will remember these events as time passes and more and more of that generation dies.  There was a young child sitting in front of me who was awed by the A-bomb explosion and it made me cringe a little.  Nevertheless, I think the moment was handled well and while there was no explanation or reason as to why in the hell Wolverine was a prisoner in Nagasaki (I assume based on his history this was one of his many tours of duty in the US Army), it served well as an introduction to Wolverine and Yashida.

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Movie Mondays

I’m starting a new initiative to get this website rolling!

Welcome to MOVIE MONDAYS!  I will also be having WRITING WEDNESDAYS and PHOTO FRIDAYS.  Check in each week to see new posts regarding these topics.

So for my inaugural Movie Monday post, I want to focus on learning to make movies at film school versus on the job.

Today, August 5th, is the first day of a Teen Filmmaking Camp run by the organization I work for Southwest Alternate Media Project (SWAMP) which is a great resource for indie filmmakers and people who want to see independent films and support indie filmmaking.  It’s a 5 day intensive program for kids ages 13-17 where Day 1 the kids learn the basics of story and come up with their script, Day 2 they break down the script into what they need to shoot the project and who will do what,  Days 3 and 4 are production, and Day 5 is post.  They screen the films for family and friends at the end of Day 5.  Phew!

On top of all this, my alma mater, USC, was just ranked the #1 Film School in the country by The Hollywood Reporter, a Los Angeles “trade” publication.

This all got me thinking, what is the “best” way to learn how to make movies?  Ultimately, there is no best because what’s best for me might be the worst for you or impossible to do because of money or family or whatever.  But people still argue the point and I’m sure with this list of film schools, there is further argument as to why USC is “the best” and the others are somewhere else on the top 25 list, or not on it at all.

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Putting aside the bias of enjoying Teen Paranormal Romances, BEAUTIFUL CREATURES was a surprising addition to the movie genre.  It cast little-known leads who display more brains than beauty (meant as a compliment), it was written and directed with talent and skill, photographed beautifully, with good visual effects.  The estimated budget on IMDB is $60M and the US total gross so far is about $19.5M, which means that it was not a box office success.  The movie just came out on video, On Demand…etc so it should expect more revenue, but with the book being just the first of a long series, it does not seem like there are plans to make a sequel to the movie. Continue Reading


A movie I worked on as an Associate Producer is now available on DVD, On Demand, and in Redbox!  The movie follows the estranged daughter of a small town minister forced to return to the strict, religious home of her youth where she must confront the troubled relationships that caused her to leave four years before.  Starring Andrea Bowen (DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, SCANDAL) and Adam Mayfield (ALL MY CHILDREN) and directed by Houston filmmaker Michelle Mower!  More info on the film HERE

The movie has some really nice performances and truly touching moments that were really well written, directed, and edited.  And with a sale to Lifetime Television, where it’s been extremely popular, this is also an indie feature that’s made money and has given the director and Houston crew members more work!  That’s an awesome accomplishment.

The DVD cover being sold in Redbox is NOT the original poster, shown below!  Note the gun in the title and in her shorts.  Spoiler Alert: there’s NO GUN in the movie!  It’s pretty amazing what marketing people can and will do.