Wednesday, January 31, 2007

LOVECRAFT... now with Stuart Gordon

A quick update on how Wyrd's documentary Lovecraft: Fear Of The Unknown is shaping up...

Currently we are in the lengthy process of acquiring stills and artwork. These will make up the bulk of the doc's cut-away material and involves raiding many a library (public & private).

Interviews are also about to continue. One person we're happy to welcome to the film is director Stuart Gordon.

(Stuart Gordon (left) with actor William H. Macy - the two worked together on the film Edmond)

Stuart directed some of the more popular film adaptations of Lovecraft's work such as Re-Animator, Dagon and From Beyond.

He's also in post production on his latest piece titled Stuck. I had the privilege of seeing an early cut of this film and I must say it is wonderfully twisted. Out of deference to Stuart, I won't say anymore about the film. I will, however, keep you posted as to when it will be in theaters near you.

Innocence Lost (or was it ever really found)

There's a lot of uproar over Daniel Radcliffe's appearing in a West End production of Equus. It's not that the Harry Potter actor is stretching his acting skills so much. It's that the boy has finally become a man... with all the sexual maturity that comes with it.

Parents whose children look up to Radcliffe's portrayal of Harry are distressed that the actor appears nude in the play (and in these publicity shots). Of course this brings up the age old debate of who is supposed to parent the children.

Radcliffe is growing up. He's a serious actor and will take on many roles throughout his career. They won't all please his fans. For those worried about his role in Equus affecting their kids, I'd say it's time to either moderate what your children see OR talk to them about life and such.

The great thing about the Harry Potter books (and films) is that they grow with the characters. By Book 7 I wouldn't be surprised if themes are a great deal more adult. It's what happens when you get older. For parents, explaining these changes aren't easy, but they are part of being a parent.

So unless Daniel is somehow the father of your children, give the guy a break. After all, he's growing, too (as I'm sure your daughters may have mentioned).

In a related subject...

... just because someone deals in family entertainment doesn't mean they're all sugar, spice and everything nice. Consider these scans of the 1943 Disney's Employee manual. These pages deal with everything from sick days to personal phone calls.

They also clearly depict a guy leering at a girl's posterior!

AND a gender restrictive penthouse club!

Sometimes innocence can be a little naughty... and I think I'll leave that thought where it is.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Oscar Noms (Now With Comments!!)

Two big news events occurred today. Bush's State Of The Union and the Academy Award nominations. Since I'm in a good mood and don't want to spoil it by commenting on Dubya's tired ol' "stay the course" rhetoric, I'll talk about MOVIES!!!

NOTE: You will notice I don't comment on short films. Live action, documentary or animated. That's because I haven't seen them, didn't know they existed until today and, frankly, don't care. I defy anyone else out there (excepting the filmmakers - hey, good job! You got nominated!) to say they feel otherwise.


Babel” (Paramount and Paramount Vantage)
An Anonymous Content/Zeta Film/Central Films Production
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Jon Kilik and Steve Golin, Producers

** Babel is a good film. Very powerful. It's weakest parts feature its most famous faces. Weak does not mean bad, however. Brad and Cate do well. Rinko Kikuchi and Adriana Barraza are just plain devestating (see below).

The Departed” (Warner Bros.)
A Warner Bros. Pictures Production

** Hey, it's Martin Scorsese! This film was loads of fun. Not the director's best work, even if it was his most successful. This is a career nom and Scorsese is long overdue.

Letters from Iwo Jima” (Warner Bros.)
A DreamWorks Pictures/Warner Bros. Pictures Production
Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg and Robert Lorenz, Producers

** Haven't seen it. I hear it's good. Better than "Flags of Our Fathers" which could work to the film's advantage.

Little Miss Sunshine” (Fox Searchlight)
A Big Beach/Bona Fide Production

** This is the little film that could and did. Very sweet. Immediately endearing. It's why we go to the movies. By all means, rent this film and take a shine to it. As far as the prize, this film will have to look elsewhere.

The Queen” (Miramax, Pathé and Granada)
A Granada Production
Andy Harries, Christine Langan and Tracey Seaward, Producers

** Could one of the year's best performances be in one of the most humdrum films? Apparently so. Not much happens in this film which is saying a lot considering it revolves around Princess Diana's death. Without being British and raised on the monarchy, this film seemed much ado about nothing.


“Babel” (Paramount and Paramount Vantage) Alejandro González Iñárritu

“The Departed” (Warner Bros.) Martin Scorsese

“Letters from Iwo Jima” (Warner Bros.) Clint Eastwood

“The Queen” (Miramax, Pathé and Granada) Stephen Frears

“United 93” (Universal and StudioCanal) Paul Greengrass

** Each director did fine work (with the exception of Frears - you could have displayed what exactly was at stake better for the Queen). This is Marty's year, though... I hope.


Leonardo DiCaprio in “Blood Diamond”

** Leo for "Blood Diamond"?! Not "The Departed"?! I haven't seen "Blood Diamond", nor have I met anyone who liked it. Judging from the trailer, everyone's always shouting. It's like a Blake Edwards film with social commentary. I think this nom was just to confirm Leo would show. It's all about ratings, people.

Ryan Gosling in “Half Nelson”

Peter O’Toole in “Venus”

Will Smith in “The Pursuit of Happyness”

Forest Whitaker in “The Last King of Scotland”

** I haven't seen any of these films yet. Based on the buzz, it's Forest Whitaker's time.


Alan Arkin in “Little Miss Sunshine”

Jackie Earle Haley in “Little Children”

Djimon Hounsou in “Blood Diamond”

Eddie Murphy in “Dreamgirls”

Mark Wahlberg in “The Departed”

** Arkin was pitch perfect. Wahlberg gave... well, strong support. Eddie Murphy is the shoo in, though. He deserves it best of all these guys.


Penélope Cruz in “Volver”

Judi Dench in “Notes on a Scandal”

Helen Mirren in “The Queen"

Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada”

Kate Winslet in “Little Children”

** Wow! This is the exact line up the Entertainment Weekly predicted. Are they that good or was there yet again too few female roles to choose from? At least these were all strong. Seeing how it's time to honor Helen Mirren's career, though (and that each of the other contenders already have statues except Cruz who still has some good years in her), one doesn't need to be Kriswell to figure this race out.


Adriana Barraza in “Babel”

Cate Blanchett in “Notes on a Scandal”

Abigail Breslin in “Little Miss Sunshine”

Jennifer Hudson in “Dreamgirls”

Rinko Kikuchi in “Babel”

** We all know that Jennifer Hudson is the favorite and, considering this is her first role, it makes her Effie all the more impressive. That said, Hudson's reward should be the instant stardom she's received (and her revenge on Simon Callow). Rinko Kikuchi was the one ingenue who literally bared all, grabbing your heart and making you feel her every emotion. Barraza was equally moving. "Babel" may prove too heavy, though. Supporting Actress awards usually tend toward the lighter side.


“Borat Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” (20th Century Fox)
Screenplay by Sacha Baron Cohen & Anthony Hines & Peter Baynham & Dan Mazer
Story by Sacha Baron Cohen & Peter Baynham & Anthony Hines & Todd Phillips

“Children of Men” (Universal)
Screenplay by Alfonso Cuarón & Timothy J. Sexton and David Arata and Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby

“The Departed” (Warner Bros.)
Screenplay by William Monahan

“Little Children” (New Line)
Screenplay by Todd Field & Tom Perrotta

“Notes on a Scandal” (Fox Searchlight)
Screenplay by Patrick Marber

** In my humble opinion, "Children Of Men" was robbed this year. Let's give it the screenplay award at least.


“Babel” (Paramount and Paramount Vantage)
Written by Guillermo Arriaga

“Letters from Iwo Jima” (Warner Bros.)
Screenplay by Iris Yamashita
Story by Iris Yamashita & Paul Haggis

“Little Miss Sunshine” (Fox Searchlight)
Written by Michael Arndt

“Pan’s Labyrinth” (Picturehouse)
Written by Guillermo del Toro

“The Queen” (Miramax, Pathé and Granada)
Written by Peter Morgan

** This will be "Little Miss Sunshine's" consolation prize.


“The Black Dahlia” (Universal) Vilmos Zsigmond

“Children of Men” (Universal) Emmanuel Lubezki

“The Illusionist” (Yari Film Group) Dick Pope

“Pan’s Labyrinth” (Picturehouse) Guillermo Navarro

“The Prestige” (Buena Vista) Wally Pfister

** These are some fine looking films. But cinematography isn't all light and shadow (something "Pan's Labyrinth" regrettably had too much of). "Children Of Men" has one of the most electric sequences with expert camera choreography. Visceral without resorting to incoherent shaky cam. Give Lubezki a cigar!


“Dreamgirls” (DreamWorks and Paramount)
Art Direction: John Myhre
Set Decoration: Nancy Haigh

“The Good Shepherd” (Universal)
Art Direction: Jeannine Oppewall
Set Decoration: Gretchen Rau and Leslie E. Rollins

“Pan’s Labyrinth” (Picturehouse)
Art Direction: Eugenio Caballero
Set Decoration: Pilar Revuelta

“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” (Buena Vista)
Art Direction: Rick Heinrichs
Set Decoration: Cheryl A. Carasik

“The Prestige” (Buena Vista)
Art Direction: Nathan Crowley
Set Decoration: Julie Ochipinti

** Here again the nominees are all worthy. I have the feeling "Dreamgirls" will get the nod.


“Curse of the Golden Flower” (Sony Pictures Classics) Yee Chung Man

“The Devil Wears Prada” (20th Century Fox) Patricia Field

“Dreamgirls” (DreamWorks and Paramount) Sharen Davis

“Marie Antoinette” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Milena Canonero

“The Queen” (Miramax, Pathé and Granada) Consolata Boyle

** Hmmm, go figure that all the costume nominees revolve around flashy style (with the exception of "The Queen" which wins kudos for realism). I'm going to go with "Dreamgirls" Beyonce' looked mighty fine in her sparkling gowns.


“Babel” (Paramount and Paramount Vantage)
Stephen Mirrione and Douglas Crise

“Blood Diamond” (Warner Bros.)
Steven Rosenblum

“Children of Men” (Universal)
Alex Rodríguez and Alfonso Cuarón

“The Departed” (Warner Bros.)
Thelma Schoonmaker

“United 93” (Universal and StudioCanal)
Clare Douglas, Christopher Rouse and Richard Pearson

** Tough call. Well, we can drop "Blood Diamond" (I really don't know how this film slipped in in multiple categories). If "Babel" takes Best Picture, which I think it will, the editing award will follow suit.



“Happy Feet”

“Monster House”

** Oh, please! "Cars" all the way. Even Pixar's weakest is far better than anything else. "Monster House", using the same mo-cap gear as "Polar Express" is just too damn creepy looking. "Happy Feet" may serve an upset, though.


“Deliver Us from Evil” (Lionsgate)
A Disarming Films Production
Amy Berg and Frank Donner

“An Inconvenient Truth” (Paramount Classics and Participant Productions)
A Lawrence Bender/Laurie David Production
Davis Guggenheim

“Iraq in Fragments” (Typecast Releasing)
A Typecast Pictures/Daylight Factory Production
James Longley and John Sinno

“Jesus Camp” (Magnolia Pictures)
A Loki Films Production
Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady

“My Country, My Country” (Zeitgeist Films)
A Praxis Films Production
Laura Poitras and Jocelyn Glatzer

** Hey, this is the first year where I know most of the documentary nominees. Two attack the Christian side of life pretty hard ("Evil" and "Jesus Camp", but that's like shooting fish in a barrel these days. I'm going to go with "Inconvenient Truth". It's how Hollywood will make its liberal cry heard this year. Okay, we'll also have Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon.


“After the Wedding” A Zentropa Entertainments 16 Production

“Days of Glory (Indigènes)” A Tessalit Production

“The Lives of Others” A Wiedemann & Berg Production

“Pan’s Labyrinth” A Tequila Gang/Esperanto Filmoj/Estudios Picasso Production

“Water” A Hamilton-Mehta Production

** Remember how "Pan's Labyrinth" wowed them at Cannes? It didn't turn out as great as it should have. Del Toro has been better (and will be again). "Pan's" is Del Toro's "Color Purple". More adult fare, but not fully successful. Why am I ignoring the other noms? Because this is the one place people can honor Del Toro's flawed masterwork. Unless... (see below)


“Babel” (Paramount and Paramount Vantage) Gustavo Santaolalla

“The Good German” (Warner Bros.) Thomas Newman

“Notes on a Scandal” (Fox Searchlight) Philip Glass

“Pan’s Labyrinth” (Picturehouse) Javier Navarrete

“The Queen” (Miramax, Pathé and Granada) Alexandre Desplat

** Who cares? Throw a dart. None stick out in mind.


“I Need to Wake Up” from “An Inconvenient Truth”
(Paramount Classics and Participant Productions)
Music and Lyric by Melissa Etheridge

“Listen” from “Dreamgirls”
(DreamWorks and Paramount)
Music by Henry Krieger and Scott Cutler
Lyric by Anne Preven

“Love You I Do” from “Dreamgirls”
(DreamWorks and Paramount)
Music by Henry Krieger
Lyric by Siedah Garrett

“Our Town” from “Cars”
(Buena Vista)
Music and Lyric by Randy Newman

“Patience” from “Dreamgirls”
(DreamWorks and Paramount)
Music by Henry Krieger
Lyric by Willie Reale

** Don't care, don't care, don't care. Best songs lead to musical numbers on Oscar night. Musical numbers lead us into the third hour of tedium. Give it to "Dreamgirls" and let's move on.


“Apocalypto” (Buena Vista)
Sean McCormack and Kami Asgar

“Blood Diamond” (Warner Bros.)
Lon Bender

“Flags of Our Fathers” (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by Paramount)
Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman

“Letters from Iwo Jima” (Warner Bros.)
Alan Robert Murray

“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” (Buena Vista)
Christopher Boyes and George Watters II

** I still don't know the difference between Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. Give it to "Blood Diamond". Then there will be some justification for it being present.


“Apocalypto” (Buena Vista)
Kevin O’Connell, Greg P. Russell and Fernando Camara

“Blood Diamond” (Warner Bros.)
Andy Nelson, Anna Behlmer and Ivan Sharrock

“Dreamgirls” (DreamWorks and Paramount)
Michael Minkler, Bob Beemer and Willie Burton

“Flags of Our Fathers” (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by Paramount)
John Reitz, Dave Campbell, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin

“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” (Buena Vista)
Paul Massey, Christopher Boyes and Lee Orloff

** See above


“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” (Buena Vista)
John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and Allen Hall

“Poseidon” (Warner Bros.)
Boyd Shermis, Kim Libreri, Chaz Jarrett and John Frazier

“Superman Returns” (Warner Bros.)
Mark Stetson, Neil Corbould, Richard R. Hoover and Jon Thum

** A tough one. "Pirates" was very flash. "Superman" was old school, torn right from the pages. "Poseidon" was more than a case of deja vu. I'll go with "Pirates".


“Apocalypto” (Buena Vista) Aldo Signoretti and Vittorio Sodano

“Click” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Kazuhiro Tsuji and Bill Corso

“Pan’s Labyrinth” (Picturehouse) David Marti and Montse Ribe

** Here's the other place "Pan's Labyrinth" could score. Very cool creature stuff as well as realistic horrors of war and torture. "Apocalypto" was also quite an achievement. Those Maya tattoos were not easy. The less said about "Click", the better.

There are the nominations with comments. Feel free to challenge me wherever you wish.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Wonders Of Science & Technology

While the internet is justifiably buzzing about the marvel known as iPhone, one discovery passed my notice. This one proves that you can't keep a good medical advancement down.

Scientists have discovered stem cells in amniotic fluid!

Despite many roadblocks, stem cell research forges on. These amniotic stem cells can be used to grow several different tissue cell types, including brain, liver and bone.

While embryonic stem cells still hold the most possibility, this is a major step forward. You can read more by clicking the link above.

And I do advise looking in on the iPhone. It's damn cool!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Who Needs Tea Leaves When You've Got Bush

A foul and mysterious stench swept through New York causing nausea and distress...

A volcano in Montserrat shot ash 5 miles into the sky as a harbinger of catastrophe to come...

Police shut down 10 blocks in downtown Austin for several hours Monday after 63 birds were found dead in the street...

And President Bush is planning to announce his plans for Iraq on Wednesday night.


Already the world, natural and political, are reacting to small details of Bush's scheme. To deal with a war that was horribly planned, with no exit strategy, and a body count far outweighing the inciting incident, Bush plans to...

... do the same, but bigger.

Now, if I put as much stock in the Bible as our Holy Cheerleader In Chief does, I would recognize biblical portents when they sat in the pew next to me. Like the time Washington D.C. was carpeted by cicadas back in May 2004... about the halfway point of this Iraq war.

Did a plague of locusts ring any bells? Sadly, no. I guess the President is selective in the faith he places in the Good Book.

No doubt he'll ignore these harbingers as well.

20,000 more troops? More money for jobs and reconstruction programs? I guess we'll have to wait till Wednesday to "not" be surprised. Click here for a preview.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

And Now For Someone Inspiring... Claudia Castillo

As a counterpoint to my previous posts of ranting, I want to write briefly of a most inspiring woman I met over the holidays.

Her name is Claudia Castillo. She was one of Colombia's top gymnasts. Was on her way to the Olympics. During practice, Claudia suffered an accident that broke her neck and left her a quadriplegic. She was 13 at the time.

Despite what must have been a team of medical naysayers, Claudia and her mother Gloria refused to accept the situation. She pressed on. After 11 intense and invasive surgeries (courtesy of The Shriners Of Philadelphia no less), Claudia has regained use of her upper shoulders and arms.

Now 29 years old, Claudia is in the first of five years required to attain her Doctorate in Psychology. With Gloria and their poodle Lily by her side (trained by Gloria to fetch anything Claudia may need including medical supplies), Claudia is a perfect example of the human spirit that sometimes gets lost in today's helter skelter.

She is a miraculous person and I wanted to mention her name to all of you.

Saddam Is Dead (and other things to make 2007 wince)

NOTE: This blog entry is a tad... well, pessimistic. Rest assured, I am quite OPTIMISTIC about 2007 so far. Lots of projects to accomplish. Many fine resolutions to observe. There's also Spider Man 3 and the new Harry Potter film. That said, there are still a few dunderheads out there that I want to point at with fond derision. Enjoy!

Saddam Hussein has been executed. Do you feel safer now? I believe we were promised the world would be safer when everyone's favorite dictator met the long drop with the short stop.

Do you feel safe?

I guess I'd feel a whole lot safer if certain news items weren't rushed into ether-print just as the year was new.

Consider the debate over whether to broadcast Saddam's death or not to broadcast. Doesn't matter now. Someone posted it on the internet. We've gone from Britney's "vagflash" (their words, not mine) to Evil Doer snuff films. How I long for the halcyon days of Lonely Girl!

There's also a bit over at everyone's favorite whistle blower Boing Boing that makes my Zealot Senses tingle.

There's a book for sale at the Grand Canyon National Park claiming that the canyon was a result of Noah's Flood.

Click here if you want to smash your head into your laptop.

I feel artist Kate Kretz has tapped into these early January days with her oil painting entitled Blessed Art Thou.

2007 is 2 days old and I feel blessed.

Do you feel blessed?