Tag Archives: entertainment

you can do a lot in 48 hours

Suppose you had a camera, some friends, and 48 hours to make a film 4 to 7 minutes long. No, you don’t get to choose the movie’s genre — you have to select it out of a hat, and it may be anything from Fantasy to Horror to Comedy to Romance. Ideas bubbling in your head? Well, hold on a sec: you also have to include a specific character, line of dialogue, and prop. Ready, set, go!

These are the basics of the 48 Hour Film Project. Last year I went to a screening of a group of Louisville films made as part of this summer weekend of fun and madness; this year, my entire family was fortunate enough to be part of a movie-making team. In 48 hours, from 7:00 p.m. last Friday until 7:00 p.m. Sunday, we made a short film that fell into the Detective/Cop genre.

The team was headed up by my friend Tim, who has made an extremely funny KinoLouisville film with one of his sons. Once we started filming, that son ran the camera; his other son kept an eye on the sound. A friend of the sons spent much of Saturday with his arms overhead, hoisting a boom mike. (All of these guys are big, in the football-player sense. It was like making a movie in the company of friendly giants.) My son and I wrote much of the script, with contributions from the others; my daughter helped plan the various shots; I was the crew caterer and helped with continuity; and my husband did some driving and assorted other jobs. My daughter, my son, and my mother all appear in the film.

Tim got the genre and other required elements Friday evening. We gathered in an office that had approximately 50 linear feet of whiteboard, and began brainstorming. Over the course of about 4 hours, our plot progressed from a hamster named Global Warming (“But what about Global Warming?” “Don’t worry, he’s fine, right over there in his cage”), to a female runner who was a serial killer at night (weapon of choice: a shotput), to a dark story about a frustrated small-town cop, to our final plot, which revolved around a day in the life of an exceedingly zealous Neighborhood Watch patrolman.

The next morning, we all invaded Tim’s house, had breakfast, split into groups, and began writing a script, planning shots, gathering and purchasing props, and scouting locations. By mid afternoon the preamble work was finished and shooting began. About 7 hours later, filming was finished. Tim and his son became temporarily nocturnal and stayed up all night editing. (I forgot to mention their immensely talented friend who wrote an entire score for the film during the middle of Saturday night.) They finished adding music and making final changes Sunday afternoon, and turned in the finished film Sunday evening. Tim wrote a blog entry about the process on the 48 Hour Film Project site.

Our film and all the other Louisville films will be showing at assorted times on Wednesday and Thursday. If you’re in Louisville and would like to see them at Village 8, they make for a highly entertaining evening. We’re in Screening Group B (team name Fools & Film). The film project is also happening this summer in these U.S. cities.

The entire process was hugely, phenomenally entertaining and rewarding from start to finish, and I can’t wait to see the final result! At some point the films will be available online and I’ll include a link so you can share in the adventures of Billy, his bright yellow scooter, a crime scene involving a dead squirrel’s chalk outline, and the vital information to be found in an overstuffed garbage can.

The Dark Knight

It’s everything you’ve heard and read, and more.

I don’t remember the last time I was up until 3:30 a.m. We (me, my husband, my two kids, my mother, and my daughter’s boyfriend) arrived for the 12:05 a.m. showing at 10:00 p.m. By that time the center section of the large theater was nearly full, but seats were available in the back row — and that’s an excellent viewing location in a stadium setup.

Pre-show entertainment

Being in the back offered the benefit of protecting us from getting smacked in the back of the head by the beach balls that were flying around. Throughout the 2-hour wait, beachballs spontaneously appeared and disappeared like magic, passed up and down and around and bouncing off the ceiling until a theater attendant appeared (she confiscated 2 of them early on), vanishing for a while, and then making a sudden reappearance from under various seats.

A boy of about 8 spent much of the time fielding balls that made it all the way to the front of the theater, happily running back and forth through the neck-breaker rows and tossing the balls into the crowd. When it got close to midnight, a guy in the center stood up, quieted the crowd, and thanked the boy on behalf of everyone; the kid received a standing ovation and chants of “Kid in front! Kid in front!”

There were a couple of killjoys who popped the ball when it came to them or kept it and refused to play. We wondered what such un-fun people were doing at a midnight showing of a Batman film. The crowd reacted to them by chanting “You suck!” and then managing to come up with more beachballs, seemingly from nowhere.

At one point my mother went out to the restroom, and when she came back in, a beachball landed in her hands. The crowd of teens and 20-somethings was momentarily concerned; would this person of another generation stop the fun? But no: she whacked the ball back into action. Cheers erupted; her grandchildren were thrilled; and she was applauded all the way up the steps to her seat.

In addition to watching the beachballs fly, we enjoyed a panorama of Batman- and Joker-inspired clothing and makeup. Green hair and makeup abounded, as did cowls. One guy came dressed in a full-body Batman suit; another had a brightly colored utility belt of the kind featured in the original Batman TV show. Many people had Batman accessories; a guy in the back row stood up occasionally and held a batarang in front of the projector light so it accompanied the actions of the people in the pre-show commercials.

Yes, we were treated to 2 hours of an endless loop of repeating movie-theater ads. I believe we saw the loop 6 times. This led us all to wonder: here’s a packed, captive audience seeking movie entertainment. Why not compile every trailer for every possible upcoming movie, and show them during the wait? As it was, the time went fairly quickly; but I would have loved to watch an hour or two of previews.

The main event

The film is indescribably excellent. The cast are a stellar ensemble. Heath Ledger is phenomenal. For months I’ve watched every trailer and leaked scene, but they give no clue as to the actual power of his performance. He has several scenes in which he says and/or does things that are profoundly, mesmerizingly creepy.

Actors, plot, cinematography, effects, and soundtrack merged in a seamless flow that pulled me in and held me tight. I’m not going to detail the plot (because you should see it yourself) other than to say that yes, it’s a dark film, but not excessively so; and there were a couple of significant surprises. As the story twisted, turned, and neared its climax, I didn’t want it to end.

As we drove home, my husband had two questions for us: 1) Was it worth the wait? Absolutely. 2) Would I see it again? You’d better believe it. The next 3 days are booked, but I’ll be back as early as possible next week; and I’ll preorder the DVD from Amazon as soon as it’s available.

And why are you reading this? Why aren’t you in a movie theater? You should go. Now.

guilty pleasure

OK, I admit it: I love watching American Gladiators. A new season started last week, and I’m looking forward to my Monday night fixes.

This is just about the only TV show I watch on a regular basis. Mostly, the television is for me a vehicle for watching movies. But Gladiators is big, over-the-top, muscley fun — professional wrestling meets reality show meets hand-to-hand combat in a glitzy, highly produced format. Hulk Hogan! Ali’s daughter! Blood, sweat, and tears! Determined contestants giving their all in front of their cheering families!

I’ve figured out that one of the reasons I like the show is that the women compete in exactly the same events as the men. Even the Eliminator series of events at the end of each show is identical for both sexes, including extreme tests of both upper- and lower-body strength. Sure the female gladiators wear skimpy clothes, but hey, so do the guys.

No excuses: I love this show! 🙂

https://i0.wp.com/www.slybaldguys.com/serendipity/uploads/ag_about_gladiators.jpg

go see Iron Man RIGHT NOW

https://i2.wp.com/www.scifimoviepage.com/upcoming/photos/ironman1.jpgWhatever else you have planned this evening or this weekend, drop it and go see Iron Man. Now. Yeah, I know, if you live near me there’s that little thing called the Kentucky Derby going on tomorrow; but guess what? This movie is way better than watching a horse race, no matter how big a deal it is.

Robert Downey, Jr. is amazing. So is the entire cast. The humor; the suits; the special effects; you name it. I like it as much as Batman Begins, and that’s saying something.

Oh, yeah — stay through the credits.

Maybe I’ll ditch my Derby guests and go to another matinee tomorrow…

movie update: Spiderwick Chronicles

Last night we went to see The Spiderwick Chronicles. Afterward, I mentioned to my son that he was continuing to bat a thousand on movie recommendations and that I was giving him credit on my blog. He suggested that I say the following: that he is my pride and joy, and my reason for getting out of bed in the morning to face each new day. Did I mention that he’s 12? 🙂 And he really is wonderful.

I liked the movie very much (see below). However, I’m sick and tired of films in which kids don’t tell their parents things because they’re sure the parents won’t believe them. Parents and other authority figures are routinely portrayed as blind idiots who refuse to listen to a word their kids have to say, even as some major plot element is destroying the known world all around them. Then, when they’re somehow forced to pay attention and see what’s going on, there’s a touching “Oh, honey, I’m sorry I didn’t believe you” moment.

In Spiderwick, the mom has every reason not to listen to her son Jared: she’s in the middle of a divorce, a move, and a new job, and her son has incredible anger issues and has been acting out physically. So, at least she isn’t made to seem like an idiot — just a stressed, harried woman who needs a week at a spa. But still, she won’t believe him, and she won’t listen to him, even when her other two children confirm his apparently wild stories. I find this immensely frustrating. And at the end, when she knelt down next to him, my son whispered to me, “Now she’s going say ‘I’m so sorry I didn’t listen to you'” — and she did, in fact, say exactly that.

Plots like this are getting kinda old. I’ve assured my kids that if aliens land in the backyard or they find an elf living under their bed, I will listen to them, and even believe them, if they show me the proof, and I’d much prefer them to come to me rather than trying to save the world on their own. Not all parents are blithering idiots, and I wish Hollywood would give us a little credit.

Anyway, here’s what I say on my Movies page:

The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008). Yet another excellent recommendation from my son. He and I were the only ones home last evening, and when I asked if there was anything in particular he’d like to do, he suggested going to see this movie. I knew next to nothing about it, and had no real desire to go (I would have preferred to see Penelope), but I’m very glad we went. This is on its face a children’s fantasy-adventure movie about the magic world all around us that we can’t see, and a troubled family whose children get mixed up with goblins, fairies, and a very large, very unpleasant ogre. But many of the outstanding special effects would be far too intense and scary for small children; and the movie has plenty to keep adults engaged. It’s a visually beautiful film, and I loved the music. Plus the actors are all wonderful — for example, I haven’t seen the boy, Freddie Highmore, in his other movies (and he’s made plenty, including the remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), so I didn’t realize that the two boys in this film weren’t twins until the end; Highmore is entirely convincing as two different brothers.

movie update

I’ve updated my Movies page with the following:

Interesting side note. I was reading an article about the low ratings for the Oscars this year and learned that I’ve seen only 4 of the last 11 Best Picture winners. Now, I watch a lot of movies. A lot. But this year I had not the slightest interest in the Oscars, because I hadn’t seen any of the Best Picture nominees — heck, I hadn’t even seen the movies the Best Actor, Actress, etc. nominees were from. I think I had to go to the Best Song category to find a film I’d gone to.

I’m sure the nominated films this year were fine, if you like that sort of thing. But why wasn’t The Bourne Ultimatum nominated for Best Picture and Best Director? What about American Gangster for Best Picture and Best Actor? Where was Christina Ricci’s Best Actress nomination for Black Snake Moan? Why wasn’t Waitress up for Best Picture, Best Actress, and a slew of other awards?

The nominees seem to be deliberately chosen in such a way as to avoid films with any popular support. It’s weird, frustrating, and guaranteed to make a movie buff like me skip watching the Academy Awards.

“Sordid Lives” review

From the Louisville Courier-Journal (online today; it will be in the printed paper tomorrow), a very nice review of our play. My part is in bold. 🙂

Theater Review: ‘Sordid Lives’

By Charles Whaley
Special to The Courier-Journal

Gee, it’s great to have those garrulous, quirky Southern family members from “Sordid Lives,” the rowdy yet strangely affecting “black comedy about white trash” by Del Shores, back onstage here.

Louisville Repertory Company had a runaway success with this endearingly dysfunctional clan in 2004, bringing the show back two weeks after closing because of popular demand.

Three generations of Grandma Peggy’s outlandish family and assorted peculiar friends are brought together after she dies in a cheap motel room, having tripped over the detached wooden legs of her best friend’s husband, G.W. Nethercott (Ken Parsons), with whom she was shacked up.

Her two daughters — uptight Latrelle (well played by Amy S. Lewis) and gaudy LaVonda (a very funny Alice Ryan Chiles) — argue over whether Mama should be buried with her mink stole in such hot weather.

Sissy Hickey, Mama’s sister (solidly portrayed by Janice Walter), is having nicotine fits as she stings herself with rubber bands to try to stop smoking amid all the stress.

Ty Williamson, Latrelle’s gay actor son (Todd Zeigler) reluctantly returns to the Texas town where he never felt free to be who he is, as Zeigler tells us in touching monologues.

And then, introduced in Act Two, is Sissy and Peggy’s transvestite brother Earl “Brother Boy” Ingram (Darren McGee) who has been in the state lunatic asylum for 23 years. He was sent there after his best friend Wardell Owens (Jim Jeffries), who beat him up, found out that he was in love with him. Wardell rectifies this before play’s end.

McGee is sensational as the sweet-natured, heartbreakingly simple Brother Boy, who identifies with Tammy Wynette and other female country singers. He fails miserably in being “de-homosexualized” even after 68 treatments by Dr. Eve Bollinger (the excellent Michelle Chalmers).

Balladeer Bitsy Mae Harling (Tiffany Taylor) strums a guitar and sings beautifully as she strolls through scenes in the part played by Olivia Newton-John in the 2001 cult film. “Ain’t it a bitch, sorting out our sordid lives?” she croons.

McGee and Chiles are the only two repeating their roles from 2004, and they’re faultless. The show, directed by Bill Breuer, needs a first act that moves faster. But with Brother Boy’s appearance and his set-to with Dr. Eve the second act picks up speed that propels things to a fine finish.