This is an ever-evolving story of a girl writer and her two greatest loves, the movies and travel. As she hikes the trenches of Hollywood, you're brought along for the ride.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Thursday, December 8, 2011
We think we know our parents; they think they know us. But when it comes to the holiday season, it becomes apparent that most of us could really use a little more time getting to know one another instead of wandering the malls on Christmas Eve looking at cheap wallets and packaged perfume and manicure sets.
The holidays is also when some products re-emerge from hiding from last Christmas season. The soda-maker, for instance. I don't understand what the allure would be to making your own soft drinks. Turn water into seltzer or soda! It's like magic. How is that fun? Or even necessary?
My brother wanted to know if I'd like one of those Keurig K-cup Coffeemaker things. Sounds good, but then what? I'm stuck paying through the nose for K-cups coffee shooters because that's my only option? I'm afraid the Keurig Coffeemaker would eventually end up sharing rent space with the wafflemaker and the dusty bread machine. Thanks for the thought.
In the aforementioned newspaper gift guide (under quirky and unusual ) they highlighted the book: Crafting With Cat Hair: Cute Handicrafts To Make With Your Cat. Originally published in Japan, the book shows how you can make handicrafts from all that cat fur that your pet leaves behind-- cat fur that, God forbid, would otherwise be wasted.
I give it an A+ for odd uniqueness, but really? Really? The first thing in there is a cat hair finger puppet. Let's imagine this for a second: you harvest the cat hair, carve out time in your day to make this puppet thing and then what? What are you going to do with that? Oh wait, you can give it back to your cat as a stocking stuffer this Christmas. How special.
I love the holidays, but I get turned off by the commercialism just as much as other people do. I'm all about the gift-giving, but I don't freak out about spending lots of money. I try to make it both fun for myself and as personal as possible for the recipient. Gift-giving is hard and it takes time to do it the right way-- that's why wealthy people have personal shoppers.
This holiday season, get to know the people around you. Make something on your own that's personally meaningful. I once gave my mom a heart-filled tin filled with strips of paper. On each piece of paper, I'd typed a story or a positive childhood memory-- as many as I could remember. It was more meaningful to her than any store-bought gift. I've also done drawings and collages and personalized note cards and books for people.
If you're not the creative type, support a local or independent artist or craftsperson. Purchase an independent filmmaker's film. Donate to a charity or cause that means something to you or the person you're gifting.
**Here are a few independently spirited artists, gifts, and sites I'd recommend**
Tiffany Miller Mosaics -- Gorgeously handcrafted mosaic art.
Rachael Owens - Los Angeles-based Singer/Songwriter
American Actor -- An independent film
A Boy And His Camera -- A storybook written and illustrated by me. (A little self-promotion never hurts.)
Jenny Mayhem's Album: Keep The Fire
Jenny Mayhem - Toronto-based Singer/Songwriter -- Acoustic/Folk
Kickstarter.com -- Help fund and support independent film.
Artbreak -- Discover up-and-coming new artists. Purchase original art and prints.
Donations And Charities:
The Film Foundation -- $1.00 preserves and restores one frame of film.
Film Streams -- Support nonprofit cinema.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation
©2011 by KLiedle
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Michel Hazanavicius' film, "The Artist," explores how the introduction of sound film affects two artists' personal and professional lives. Although, it's a silent, black-and-white film-- a fact that may turn away even the most open-minded audiences-- I say, look beyond the facts. To truly appreciate the film, one has to submit to being transported into a different era entirely: An era when people went to the movies as often as they could for both escapism and entertainment. In the late '20s, individuals and families struggled to make ends meet as the stock market crashed and the Great Depression got underway. Hollywood was their escape, the place where dreams were made.
As the story unfolds, it's 1927 and George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is hamming it up as a famed silent film star. Audiences love him and it's rather obvious that he adores being adored. Simultaneously, a young starlet, Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo), starts strutting her stuff in the trenches of Hollywood. She's got a sparkle and a spunk that set her apart from the competition. She and Valentin cross paths and sooner than anyone thought possible, she rises from being an extra to a contract player to a full-fledged star. This puts her at the forefront of Hollywood as silent films are phased out. Talking pictures are the future.
By 1930, Hollywood stops making silent films entirely. Cinema orchestras, once an integral part of a silent film's presentation, are eliminated. Silent film stars are considered passe. George Valentin gets the dire news from the studio and soon finds himself unemployable. No one wants to hear a silent film star talk. They want fresh faces, new blood. He's shunned from the studio as a relic from the past.
Meanwhile, Peppy's rise to unfathomable stardom occurs just as Valentin begins a downward spiral. From their first chance encounter, Peppy and George keep tabs on each other, albeit secretly. George sees her rise to fame as a stark contrast to the momentous changes in his own life. Likewise, she feels guilty and somewhat responsible for his downfall as he forced to auction off his possessions.
One of my favorite sequences between Peppy and George was shot at the Bradbury building in Downtown L.A. Hazanavicius utilizes the grand series of staircases at that location as a metaphor for Peppy and George's relationship to each other and to Hollywood. Peppy is always ascending the stairs with her career on the up-and-up. George is always shown going down the stairs, further and further, until he disappears from view. It's a simple visual technique but showing the two characters in that way, speaks more than any words ever could.
I came to see "The Artist" with no expectations beyond curiosity and longing to see Old Hollywood lit up on the big screen once again. Hazanavicius' uses several techniques ( showing a film-within-a-film, angled shots of the stage and audience reaction shots) to make film audiences feel right at home, as though 1927, is just an arm's length away from where we are. A cinema orchestra accompanies the film presentation, as we're introduced to George Valentin. Music is primary for the remainder of the film, just as it was for all silent films. Within moments, I'd forgotten the black-and-white and the "silent" lack of dialogue. I was riveted to the antics on the screen.
It's surprising how funny "The Artist" is, without seemingly trying. All it takes is a gesture, a look, a stupid dog trick, a shimmy, and an occasional title card, and we know what's going on. But "The Artist" is also a tragedy, as experienced by George Valentin. It's ultimately his story. As such, we are limited to his silent world, even though there is "talking" all around us. When it finally hits him, that sound is the wave of the future, he's shocked to HEAR the CLANK of his own water glass on the table. Suddenly there is LAUGHING , WIND BLOWING, CLINKS and CLANKS, a world happening just beyond the reach of our senses. It's all too much for him. And then, the SOUND of SILENCE as George's world collapses around him.
Ultimately, however, "The Artist" is a love story about two artists. Entertaining is their passion; it's in their blood. Peppy and George recognize a bit of themselves in each other. Can only one of them be a star? Is there a way for the past and the future to co-exist, meet in the middle somehow? As a contemporary film, "The Artist" captures the Golden Age Of Hollywood with more success than any other movie I can recall. My grandmother lived during that era. She remembers Hollywoodland. She'd tell me stories about the old time movie stars. I'd flip through her vintage glamour and movie books and try to visualize what it must've been like... to experience Hollywood, be a part of Hollywood, during that era. "The Artist," in some small way, gave me that experience. It's pure entertainment, beautifully crafted.
"The Artist" was shot in 35 days in Los Angeles with an American crew for an estimated budget of $12 million [Imdb.com] Ever since its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, the film has been gaining awards buzz. As we head into Oscar season, it just may become the film to beat.
Starring Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller
Written and directed by Michel Hazanavicius
Copyright © 2011 by KLiedle
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
“I won’t cry,” I tell myself. I hear a male voice address the crowd, but I can’t focus on what he’s saying. He sounds so far away. I look over and see a tear flowing down a classmate’s face. She’s eleven years old-- so am I.
I look away, but it’s too late. My face wrinkles up. I can feel my skin flush. Emotions start flowing. I can’t stifle the tears; they’re unstoppable. I remember Kleenex, a woman’s hand reaching toward me. I remember silence and stuffed animals. I peer into the casket and see my friend’s face. She looks peaceful, her hands folded in prayer across her chest. Maybe I don't believe in God, after all. Her face looks familiar, but seeing her like this is so foreign. I say goodbye.
People may say they go to the movies to be entertained, to escape the mundane realities of their own lives. While that’s often true, I’d say there’s more to it. People go to the movies to feel alive, to live vicariously through the lives of others. We seek human experiences and connections that may be lacking in our own lives. We seek to understand ourselves and our relationships just a little bit better. Looking at life through the prism of a movie, we allow ourselves to express human emotions that we may be afraid to acknowledge in real life.
Gross-out comedies. Sequels. Franchises. Merchandising. There’s a lot of schlock in Hollywood. Where have all the dramas gone? The tearjerkers? They may be harder to find, but they haven’t entirely disappeared. A handful of darker movies have been released recently. [More on the way this awards season.]
These movies reflect the emotional pulse of what people are feeling right now, given world events and economic times. These films fill a void that so many of us have tried to fill in other, less satisfying, ways. Audiences are hungry for good stories. They want films that fulfill them in ways that so many other things can’t. They want to laugh; they want to cry. They want to cringe with embarrassment on behalf of a character; they want to ponder situations they may face in their own lives. They want to leave knowing just a little bit more about themselves and the world at large. Dramas don’t have to be dark and downtrodden. Many are hopeful and inspiring. Many are funny and witty. Many are bittersweet.
I finally got around to seeing Rabbit Hole (2010). That film, based on a play of the same name, explores a marriage, a family, and previously disconnected characters that become linked by tragedy. Each of the characters handles the grief in his or her own way. Grief doesn't give you a schedule. There are no steps to follow. There is no "getting over it." You come out on the other end, forever changed. In Rabbit Hole, each character learns that to continue living in any meaningful way, he or she must move forward. Embrace one another, support each other. Acknowledge the past, but look to the future.
50/50 is another satisfying, human film. It’s rather amazing that the so-called “cancer film” was able to make it to the starting blocks, let alone get a full theatrical release. Those who haven’t seen the film may call that depressing; I call it progress. So many people are affected by cancer—directly or indirectly. And those of us who haven’t been affected by cancer worry about whether or not we might be…sometime in the future, when we’re least prepared for such news. 50/50 manages to capture both the dramatic and tragic elements of cancer diagnosis and treatment, while acknowledging that comedy can (and does) exist in those experiences, too. I’ve known (and lost) several people to cancer. There are moments when you cry and think about the possibility of living life without them. Then, there are times when you’re together and you both laugh heartily, inappropriately at the absurdity of it all:
"Your hair's growing back red and curly? How bizarre. You look like Bozo the clown!"
"But I have CANCER!" [Ahem, but you can still do your own dishes.]
These are the true moments of life. And these days, I think don’t think people want escapism as much as they want to live their lives in a real and meaningful way.
UPCOMING CHARACTER-DRIVEN FILMS:
Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011) - Haunted by painful memories and increasing paranoia, a damaged woman struggles to re-assimilate with her family after fleeing an abusive cult. UPCOMING CHARACTER-DRIVEN FILMS
Like Crazy (2011) - A British college student falls for an American student, only to be separated from him when she's banned from the U.S. after overstaying her visa.
Another Happy Day (2011) - A wedding at her parents' Annapolis estate hurls high-strung Lynn into the center of touchy family dynamics.
The Descendants (2011) - A land baron tries to re-connect with his two daughters after his wife suffers a boating accident.
The Artist (2011) - Hollywood, 1927: As silent movie star George Valentin wonders if the arrival of talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion, he sparks with Peppy Miller, a young dancer set for a big break.
© 2011 by KLiedle
Above film loglines from imdb.com
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Tell a story in exactly 78 words read the contest rules.
As a writer, I loved the challenge. I spend the majority of time hacking through a forest of words—the aftermath of an overwritten first draft. Everything takes multiple drafts. My brain battles with itself, the characters, the story, the whole idea I wanted to convey. I'm constantly asking myself questions:
Is this necessary? Is there another way to show this? Does killing this line make the scene more powerful?
I have to be brutal. My writing is not as concise as say, Sofia Coppola, but I’m getting better. Sometimes having constraints [whether it’s word count, budget, locations, shooting days, etc] forces you to be more creative. I loved the variety of Paris Je T’aime (2006), with its ensemble cast and eclectic group of international directors. Each of the eighteen directors had the assignment to shoot a film in a particular neighborhood of Paris. The catch was: They only got five minutes of screen-time. None of the participating directors said it was easy either, but all of them embraced the challenge.
I didn't win the contest, but no matter. As far as 78-word stories? Here are two I wrote:
Dad’s weekend. She couldn’t keep this ruse for long.
“Why so silent?” he asked.
The girl rolled her eyes.
“Your mom says you’ve been sneaking out. Better not be.”
“I’m not sleaking out.”
“Why are you lisping?” he demanded to know.
She stuck out her tongue. They both opened their mouths. Yelling, loud and clear.
That piercing would go! She stormed off. The door slammed. Dad had won the fight, but lost the girl.
She smelled like Chanel. He tasted like salt. Intertwined under a comforter with daisies on it. Rays of morning light through the window. The rise and fall. One kiss had led them here. To happiness and daisies and morning light. Making love in a cheap motel.
“We can’t do this anymore,” she says.
“Sure we can. If we’re careful.”
She looks into his eyes and speaks two words:
Someone pounds on the door. Room #203. Caught.
© 2011 by KLiedle
Monday, October 3, 2011
When Jonah Hill mentioned his interest in directing, at least one person was completely baffled: Darren Aronovsky. As Hill says in this month's Esquire feature, Darren wondered why anyone would want to be a director; it's so hard.
And if you're female or minority, it's even harder. The Directors Guild Of America recently circulated their 2010-2011 TV Episodic Directors By Gender and Ethnicity.
The current statistics were less than stellar. As the report shows, 77% of TV episodes this past season were directed by Caucasian males. Caucasian females were given a chance 11% of the time, as were minority males. If you're a minority female that directed a TV episode this season? You were probably the only one-- only 1% of episodes were directed by a female of any ethnic minority. Some shows, notably Bored To Death and Curb Your Enthusiasm did not have any minority directors this season. Also at 0% hiring: Weeds and Hot In Cleveland. Ironic, since both shows have strong female leads and/or casts. On the flip side, Hung, about a basketball coach turned male gigolo, employed 60% of female or minority directors last season. I presume that having Colette Burson, a female, as co-creator of the series probably helped. Treme (45%), Mad Men (31%), and 30 Rock (30%) also fared well in their hiring practices for episodic directors.
Production companies who haven't hired minority directors have their reasons and excuses. Many are ambivalent about taking a chance on a new director. Like the rest of Hollywood, they're afraid of risk.
"But the truth is that the industry hires new directors all the time; it's just that most of them are white males," says Lesli Linka Glatter, Co-Chair of the Diversity Task Force of the DGA National Board.
Aspiring directors, filmmakers, and writers need role models to inspire them along the difficult path ahead. It's so easy to lose faith in the film and television industry, in particular, because the obstacles can seem insurmountable. Seeing a filmmaker of your own gender, ethnicity, or background get a foothold in the industry can help you stay focused on your own goals as a filmmaker.
It's also important to note that it's not just about fair hiring practices either. Filmmakers have a worldview that is influenced by their own background and circumstances, as well as their identity as individuals. Many audiences are often searching for themselves and seeking answers about life when they choose to see a particular film. They want to identify with the characters and the protagonist's plight. They want to see the world from a different viewpoint.
There seems to be a misconception that minority filmmakers can only be trusted with "minority" stories. For example, the consensus seems to be: Female filmmakers direct female stories and so-called chick flicks. Latino filmmakers direct Latino stories. This doesn't mean that a female director couldn't direct an action film or that a Latino or Latina filmmaker couldn't direct a big blockbuster. It means, they generally aren't being offered these jobs. That's a shame because, as much as we get tired of seeing the same A-list actors in every big movie, we get tired of seeing the cinematic world through the eyes of the same filmmakers in every big movie. Stories are as varied as the Earth's landscape. And so are filmmakers. It's important to remember that.
There has been recent progress, however. Movies featuring minority and strong female casts, such as Bridesmaids and The Help have surpassed expectations at the box office. The Kids Are All Right, directed by Lisa Cholodenko, made a domestic gross of $20.8 million. It was reportedly made for a paltry $4 million, and even at that level, financing nearly fell through. [ boxofficemojo ] Interestingly, Cholodenko turned around and directed an episode of Hung in 2010.
We Need To Talk About Kevin, directed by Lynne Ramsay, was getting early buzz at Toronto this month. (It premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May and is scheduled for limited release in the U.S. on December 2, 2011.)
Patty Jenkins, who wrote and directed the 2003 film Monster is currently in talks to direct Thor 2. According to Variety, Marvel has an "unconventional approach to offering its superhero tentpoles to filmmakers not necessarily top of mind when thinking of someone who might land an effects-laden summer actioner."In other words, they're not afraid to take risks. And in so doing, they are offering chances to other types of filmmakers who would otherwise never be offered such material.
Blog content © 2011 by KLiedle
Sunday, September 25, 2011
I've flown a lot in my lifetime. Not as often as a business traveler, but probably more often than the average person. I got to experience the very tail end of the glamour era of flying-- back when kids still "earned their wings" on United and flights included not only snacks, but actual meals. As a kid, I loved playing around with the flight simulators at American Airlines headquarters in Fort Worth, TX where a family member worked. I daydreamed about being a flight attendant. Then, I got older and seriously looked into it, but I can't swim (which is a requirement in case of a water landing) and I didn't want the airline to pick where my home base was going to be. Then 9/11 happened, which sunk my interest entirely. And changed things forever.
Though the airline industry is far different now, I recently flew Delta Airlines and it reminded me of how things used to be. After the flight, I was e-mailed a survey asking for feedback on my travels. Normally, I delete those things. I don't want to take the time. Then I thought of how many people complain incessantly about airlines these days (for good reason.) There's the body scanners, removing your shoes, carry-on limitations, gels and liquids, baggage fees, overcrowded cabins...There's a lot to complain about. Since I had a surprisingly positive experience however, I felt the airline should know. Here's what I wrote:
"Flying has gotten a bad rap in recent years. I used to love to fly, now I dread it. However, I was pleasantly surprised with Delta! All 4 flights I had on my recent travels were comfortable, carry-on baggage was accommodated, even other fliers seemed to be more polite than usual. I think much of it was a result of the flight crew creating a community during our time in the skies with them. For ex: On one flight, the flight crew announced that it was our pilot's last flight; he was retiring. They passed around a framed plaque for all of us to sign. Flight attendants were pleasant and even appeared to be enjoying their jobs-- something I haven't seen in a very long time. My fellow fliers seemed to be actually enjoying the flights, too--something I also haven't seen much lately. I've flown every major airline: American, US Airways, United, Continental and several international carriers. There are some I'd never fly again, but Delta is a carrier I'll seek out in the future. I'm sure you get many more negative comments than good ones, but I'd like to say: Thank you for making my travels comfortable and enjoyable. Keep it up!"
For these reasons, I've been enticed by the the ads and billboards for the new ABC TV series, Pan Am, which is a period drama staged in the trendy world of the most famous defunct airline. I'm a huge fan of AMC's Mad Men, which jump-started the '60s nostalgia trend. That said, I have high hopes for Pan Am. I'm interested in the concept and the time period. It also stars Christina Ricci, an actor whom I think has been underutilized in recent years. I hope it's well-written. I hope the stars align and all the right elements are ready for take-off, but as with every show, the chances are slim. Maybe they won't pull it off as well as I would've liked. Maybe they're capitalizing on the resurgence of interest in the '60s. New shows, even the best of them, have a habit of disappearing into thin air. For Pan Am, I'll look to the skies and smile-- hoping for the best.
Buckle Up, Adventure calls. And thank you for choosing Pan Am!
Pan Am premieres tonight [Sept 25] 10/9c on ABC
Pan Am History
© 2011 by KLiedle
Photo credit: UW Digital Collections, Pan Am TV series promo
UPDATE: It was announced today that Pan Am, along with many other shows, is cancelled.
Friday, September 16, 2011
I remember when we painstakingly cleaned the 8mm family movies my grandfather had shot. We sprayed a chemical on it and carefully brushed away the dust, dirt and fingerprints. We did this frame-by-frame, reel-by-reel. The process gave me a respect for film and respect for my family's past--long before I even existed. I learned that film was to be treasured and preserved--not cast aside and neglected. In actuality, there may be no way to screen these films in the future.
In past few years, theaters have been disposing their film projectors in favor of digital projectors. This is the future, as much as I hate to admit it. Digital projectors go for upwards of $150,000 or more while an industry film projector will set you back about $35,000-$50,000. That figure's probably less now that theaters are unloading their 35mm projectors to anyone who will take them. It makes me angry and sad. The lifespan of a film projector used to be 30-40 years, but rumor has it that some theaters have apparently even resorted to selling them for scrap. In contrast, digital projectors may last you ten years, but we all know that technology will advance and those digital projectors you buy today will be obsolete tomorrow.
I admit; I'm attached to film. I'm attached to its texture, its richness, its depth, its majesticness, and ultimately, its fragility. With film, every frame-- like every moment of our lives-- flickers only briefly. Moments matter. They make up our past and determine our future.
From beginning to end, film sputters and spools its way to the screen. It works hard to put on a show: running 24 frames per second, 16 frames per foot, and 90 feet per minute. Digital is robotic. Point and click. Hit start. It does what you tell it to do. No emotion. No connection. Functional, it is. Beautiful, it is not.
Traditional studio prints are about $1500. Digital? Not much more than the cost of a flash drive. Although, the upfront cost for digital (projectors) is higher for exhibitors, it's cheaper in the long-term for everyone. Cheaper to shoot. Cheaper to distribute. Cheaper to exhibit. I'm glad that digital filmmaking has brought costs down especially for the independent filmmaker. And the quality of digital is getting better and better. However, there's no question that something has been lost... Cinema Paradiso.
© 2011 by KLiedle
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
The bumper sticker says I ♥ My Library. It's stuck to a car that belongs to one of my neighbors. I don't know which neighbor. I've never seen the car's owner. I do know one thing though, we'd have something in common: I ♥ My Library too. In fact, I go to the library more often now (as an adult) then I ever did as a kid.
As a kid, my library card gave me entry to ONE branch library. In Bellevue, Nebraska. The two biggest downers were that it was small and you had to drive there. This was long before I could drive, but long after the days when I could read. I didn't go often. And I was annoyed that the only reason I couldn't check out books in Omaha branch libraries, was because I lived in a certain country that belonged to Bellevue, not Omaha-- which, being a much larger metropolitan area, had numerous branch libraries. Sometimes, I'd sneak by and check out books at an Omaha library but I had to lie and give my grandmother's address. This worked until they started requiring address verification with a drivers license or utility bill. Gosh darn it. I was boomerang-ed back to Bellevue.
Today things are different. In Los Angeles, I can walk to my local library. I go all the time. Probably more often than I need to (or should), but hell, I'm making up for lost time. And when I've exhausted the books in the English language section-- I can choose between a number of other branches nearby. The Los Angles Public Library System is quite extensive. I can check out books, CDs and DVDs at any of these branches I'd like, including Central Library in Downtown L.A.
As bookstores continue to disappear, a library remains a treasured, beautiful place. Sure, we can sit at home and surf the internet and read books on our Kindles and text people we may never get around to actually seeing. The library, however, is a place of community-- a meeting place where children and adults alike can learn about the world in which we live.
I always chat with the librarians there. They all recognize me. No matter how many times I go there, I always discover something new. I lucked out last time. Currently, I have several books by Alice Munro and the book, I Found This Funny, edited by Judd Apatow. If you haven't visited your local library lately, I suggest you do. Because a library is something you may not miss until it's gone, but a world with no libraries is a world I don't want to see.
The Los Angeles Public Library
©2011 by KLiedle
Thursday, August 11, 2011
I’ve always been fascinated by the stars. Curious about what’s out there. Amazed by the sheer vastness of the universe. Rhoda Williams (Brit Marling), a young woman recently accepted into the MIT’s astrophysics program, is similarly transfixed.
At first glance, “Another Earth,” is about the scientific discovery of another planet just like our own. This planetary discovery is the headline story—announced on the radio and broadcast on TV. It’s all anyone seems to be talking about. This, however, only provides the backdrop to the drama that will soon unfold for Rhoda and the people affected by her partying and recklessness.
For Rhoda, the new planet is a curiosity that distracts her far more than it should. As a result, two human worlds collide. “Another Earth” is not so much about an astronomical discovery as it is about the shattered lives left behind by one person’s ill judgment.
Rhoda, gifted in the sciences, is not unlike John Burroughs (William Mapother), a composer, gifted in the arts. They are both highly intelligent people in their primes and at the cusp of something new. For Rhoda, it’s MIT. For John, it’s a second child. The ensuing accident irrevocably changes their connections to the world, themselves, and their disciplines.
In the aftermath, John becomes a near-recluse in his slovenly-kept home where he drinks too much. He is no longer a successful musician, a composer and a Yale professor. He no longer has a beautiful family with a baby on-the-way. That was his life before. This is his life after.
Meanwhile, Rhoda is released from prison and takes a low-level maintenance job in which she has little contact with people. At work, she’s paid to clean up after others, but all she feels compelled to do is clean up after herself. On the 4th anniversary of the new planet's discovery and thus, the anniversary of the accident, she reaches out to John in an attempt to pay for her sins in some human way. In the end, another Earth, a duplicate existence looming in the night sky, offers the possibility of a new beginning for them both.
How does one apologize for causing such a catastrophic event in someone’s life?
If you were to meet yourself, what would you ask yourself?
“Another Earth” explores more than it explains. It asks big questions, many of which it can’t answer. It contains some over-dramatized moments, but you come away appreciating what it's trying to say. It's about the healing power of music and the scars that life brings us. It's about apologies, resurrections, redemptions, rebirths, and getting to know yourself and your place in the world. In the end, I dare say, “Another Earth,” like a glimpse of heaven, is a very moving and spiritual experience.
Video/ Embedded from Youtube
Written content/ © 2011 by Kliedle
Sunday, July 10, 2011
For most actors, this would be highly annoying. It would not only scream overexposure but elicit responses of "Ugh...vomit", "Go away already", and "Gimme a break..."
But when it's Emma Stone we're talking about, it's hard to feel that way because she's so darn likeable. If you threw Julia Roberts and Cameron Diaz in a Tilt-A-Whirl and added a touch of Scarlett Johansson's raspy voice, you'd get glimmers of Emma Stone-- laughing heartily, a little too loud and a little too long.
She's got a presence that's hard to ignore and the beauty, talent, and charisma that makes it hard to look away. In the beginning, people were calling her the next Lindsey Lohan, but she's proved far too overqualified for that. If Superbad put her on the map and Zombieland made us ask, "Where have I seen her before?," then it was Easy A that put her on the Star Map.
Her performance in Easy A showcased a surprisingly well-written script (penned by former casting director, Bert V. Royal) and orange-kissed direction by Will Gluck. Seriously, oranges. Count them.... At any rate, I can't imagine anyone else nailing that role in quite the same way she did. She owned Olive all the way. Drama Queen.
Plus, you gotta love a girl who was so passionate about performing that she put together a power-point presentation cued to Madonna's Hollywood to convince her parents to let her go to Hollywood. How could they say no?
Flashback to more than a year ago...
I'd been camped out at El Torito for hours, freezing my butt off. Shooting nights in winter (even in L.A.) sucks. In a futile attempt to stay warm, I'd been drinking tea, copious amounts of tea. Green tea, herbal tea, herbal tea, green tea. Alternating. Trying to avoid the coffee.
The redhead sitting across from me was also sipping tea (green tea), taking a break between shots. She'd been shooting a pivotal scene for her character with lots of dialogue and, on every take, she had to slug a big, sloppy gulp of water. As Hannah, she plays a law student in the soon-to-be-released Crazy, Stupid, Love (then merely called the Untitled Dan Fogelman Project.) Waiting patiently, taking it all in, she couldn't have been more polite or professional. That is, until the hiccups erupted. Eyes wide, a twinge of panic crossed her face.
"I have the hicc--" she started to say. [Hiccup] Another one.
No doubt, she'd swallowed a lot of air with those gulps of water. Most everyone was focused on the next shot. They were ready to go: Camera set, Let's roll. [Hiccup, Hiccup...] She stood up, got to her mark. Then, 1...2...3... [Action!] she held her breath and did the work, as if to say, "I'm in control. Hiccups be damned."
Unlike those hiccups, Emma Stone's here to stay. But let's face it-- that's not a bad thing.
Now, she's all brightly colored and black-and-white with all the costume changes in the July issue of ELLE magazine and Vanity Fair's August issue. Snagged the covers for both. Damn straight. [It's a rare person I can both envy and root for in equal measure.]
As for that Stella Mccartney dotted tulle blouse and the sunshine yellow Versace ostrich feather dress she got to wear in ELLE?* That I can hate her for. But it won't last. That is, unless she goes all truffle fries on us.*
* Attn: Stella Mccartney and Donatella Versace: Will accept donations of cast-off wardrobe from above-referenced photo shoot. Or if you have ready-to-wear in dire need of someone to wear it, I'm your gal.
** Truffle Fries: If I have to explain it then obviously, you need to check out ELLE's July 2011 cover story on Emma Stone.
© 2011 by KLiedle
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
The gang is forced to go to Anger Management-- Thanks again, Pete.
Keep the violence at a minimum and watch the damn episode, ya hear?
To vote for your favorite episodes and
for more It's Always Smoggy In L.A.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Alissa Cohen: What are some of the things you focus on during pre-production?
Scott Vogel: I try to get familiar with the script all over again because usually by the time we move into production, it's been 3 or 4 months since the the script was finished and you get caught up in other things, like casting, wardrobe, shot lists and so on... Sometimes you forget to just sit down and really read the story again to remember where the important beats are, how to hit the dynamics and so on...
Beyond that, pre-production's about trying to find the right actors for those particular parts and, if possible, get in a good half-day rehearsal before the shoot.
AC: DIY filmmaking is never easy. At a minimum, what crew positions must you have on-set? What can you get away without? What would you like to have, but don't?
SV: Smoggy shoots are generally at the bare-bones minimum. We get by with just a camera man, sound mixer and assistant director. Sometimes there's a script supervisor or production assistant. Other times, not. What would I like to have? I've worked and , and to me, those shows have the perfect-sized productions: about 15-20 people covering the basics. Most shows have anywhere from 40 to 60 people or more. For what we do, that would be silly, but a crew of 10 would be bliss.
AC: What excites you most about It's Always Smoggy In L.A.?
SV: The most exciting thing about It's Always Smoggy In L.A. to me, is the formula. There are basically no rules beyond keeping the general themes of the show consistent. Other than that, the sky's the limit and we're starting to really explore.
© 2011 by TSV Productions, It's Always Smoggy In L.A.
Published with permission from Smoggy Blogspot
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
I wandered down to LACMA yesterday via rail and bus-- which takes some planning here in L.A. [For L.A. residents: Metro Rapid 780 drops you off directly across from the museum. It couldn't be more convenient.] I spent the next couple hours enjoying Free LACMA day [ free general admission to the museum's collection on the 2nd Tuesday of every month] And I never set foot in the Tim Burton exhibit. Sure, I may have enjoyed it, but...
LACMA has an extensive collection of art that kept my eyes and mind entertained throughout the afternoon. I started off carrying a map of the collections, but in my opinion, it's better to just walk around and discover what the museum has to offer. Some of my favorite collections were those of European art, Egyptian art, relics, and artifacts, and Japanese art. The museum has a whole room full of Picasso-- including drawings, bronze statues, and a sculpture or two. None of which escaped what I call, the "phallic Picasso touch." One of his bronze sculptures, which at first glance looks like a multi-tentacled alien, is titled The Cock. [Nice, Picasso. I'm sure you thought long and hard about that title.]
The Egyptian Art and relics from Iran boggled my mind. Several pieces date back to 1500 BC and are in pristine condition. A mummy casket, decorated with strings of Egyptian art is on display. [ So much for that mummy resting in peace... ] The cat figurines the Egyptians sculpted were beautifully crafted and highly detailed. One Egyptian figure was flashing the devil's horns with his hand as if to say, "Think you're so advanced? It started with us."
Japanese Art is housed in a separate building, full of light. It's a picturesque setting for woodblock prints and statues of Asian descent, but not so good for taking photographs-- too much glare. Some of my favorites there included classic artwork from Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, one of the masters of Ukiyo-e, a type of woodblock printing. I also had fun posing with a samurai warrior in full costume and capturing light with a Buddhist statue.
All in all, LACMA is perfect for a day trip. Whoever thinks museums are boring, should give it another try. And if you're going for the Tim Burton exhibit, leave yourself enough time to contemplate the other collections that this outstanding museum has to offer.
LACMA is located at 5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90036
© 2011 by KLiedle
Thursday, May 26, 2011
[If you did judge the film by its trailer, you might think that Hesher is a comedy about a bare-chested, pyromaniac, bad boy, a mop-topped kid, and the RDA-recommended supplement of Natalie Portman. If that's the case, you might be disappointed.]
People have various generalizations about what a "hesher" is. Several users of the urban dictionary, have defined a hesher as "a mulleted person in acid-washed jeans and a Judas Priest T-shirt... who still lives in his parent's basement" or more simply put: "someone who smokes and drinks and loves metal."
With this Hesher what you see is not what you get. It's so much more. A multi-layered film, Hesher deals with the larger issues of tragedy, loss, love, and family relationships. While the title might suggest otherwise, the film centers not on Hesher (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt,) but on 13-year-old T.J. (Devin Brochu) who carries most of the film on his young shoulders. Of course, Hesher and his impact on T.J.'s life, can't be ignored. He is the catalyst for everything that follows.
At the start, T.J. and his small family are unraveling from the tragedy of losing one of their own. T.J. tries to hold onto the pieces of what's left of his life, knowing it can never be the same. His father, like many adults in similar situations, becomes immobilized by grief. Neither of them can let go or move on--they've stagnated in the limbo that grief leaves to the living.
Hesher, all tattoos and cigarette smoke, shrouded in mystery and Metallica, bullies his way into their household. He's like the big brother T.J. never really wanted, the devil on his shoulder, and a manifestation of everything T.J. and his family are feeling, but are unable to express. They play by the societal norms of grief: Everything happens for a reason. You pray. You grieve. With time, you move on.
You're not supposed to act out or get angry or seek revenge. And you especially aren't supposed to trespass, trash shit, and set things on fire. Hesher takes the rules and slams them like thunderbolts into the ground. Everything is to the extreme. And you know what? As much havoc as Hesher brings, T.J. and his family somehow need this shake-up. They need to remember how to pick themselves up, how to fight against whatever life throws at them. They need Hesher to remind themselves that they are, in fact, alive.
I was not at all surprised to hear that the film's director faced his own family tragedy at 13 years old-- an older brother was killed by a drunk driver. Influenced by real life, no doubt, makes Hesher an especially personal film for a director and for an audience.
Everyone's lost someone, at some point, but traces of that person, those memories, those scars never leave you. They run through your veins and express themselves in unexpected ways throughout the rest of your life.
Tragedy and loss that strike during childhood can be especially poignant. When I was 11 years old, I lost a good friend to cancer. She was also a kid, like me. We were both one month away from our 12th birthdays. After I'd heard that she died, I remember climbing my favorite tree, high above our house, to isolate myself. There, I felt like I'd found the in-between of Earth and sky-- a place where I could stay for awhile-- in grief-stricken limbo. I cried my eyes out. Alone. It was a moment of innocence lost. A realization that life wasn't all frosted cupcakes and field trips. After the tears dried up, I sat there for a good, long time peering down upon Earth, unsure what to make of it. A car coasted down the hill below me, and in that moment, inexplicably, I threw a rock at it.
Slam(!!) went the rock onto the hood of the car and Slam (!!) went the guy's brakes. I had no idea what had come over me. I didn't act out, wasn't one to get in trouble. That was my inner Hesher-- making it known that yes, life can be shitty a lot of the time, but yes, you can pick yourself up and get through it to live again and live more fully.
Hesher has its comedic moments, but the reality is that life isn't always kind. It's the drama, the small gestures, the expressions and emotions portrayed on the actors' faces that really set the film apart. It's a sad, sad story and a heartfelt film-- full of beautiful performances by everyone involved. My guess is that it was also a labor of love for the entire cast & crew. Even grown men will have tears rolling down their cheeks and, I might add, they won't feel ashamed by it.
© 2011 Review by KLiedle
(in limited release)
Director: Spencer Susser
Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Devin Brochu, Rainn Wilson, Piper Laurie, Natalie Portman
Monday, May 23, 2011
"If you can't do both jobs-- If you can't act, you can't script supervise, maybe you shouldn't be doing both..." --Scott V.
Monday, May 2, 2011
The egg timer, ticking like a metronome, didn't lie. My mother always set it for 30 minutes when I was supposed to be practicing the piano. I can still hear her voice emanating from the kitchen: "I don't hear you practicing!" Then, I'd play a little and try to cheat, make time go in fast-forward. Time doesn't go in fast-forward when you want it to. Fingers plunking piano keys... 30 minutes.
Decorating birthday cupcakes with M&Ms and homemade chocolate frosting. Mom with the video camera. Licking the bowl. Getting flour absolutely everywhere. No one stopping me.
My mother, standing there aghast, missing her front tooth. The porcelain veneer cap had popped off and slid down the sink. She was getting ready to go out. I was standing over her, laughing. It was wrong, I know. I couldn't control myself.
She, in turn, would chide me about not cleaning the sink in my dorm room. Toothpaste scum, make-up remnants. A week later, I'd receive an envelope containing a ziploc bag filled with Comet cleanser. A subtle hint. Mint-green powder sprinkled all the way through the U.S. Postal Service.
As another Mother's Day approaches, I was thinking about movies that have featured mother-daughter relationships in one way or another. Naturally, films about mothers and daughters highlight the explosive nature of this most important relationship. Conflict is drama. And mothers and daughters are very good at being dramatic. We have love and respect for each other, even during the times we hate each other. We're not best friends, nor should we be, but we're in this life together.
Movies That Contain Elements of Mother-Daughter Relationships
* Anywhere But Here (1999, Susan Sarandon/Natalie Portman)
Based on the novel by Mona Simpson.
*The Virgin Suicides (1999, Kathleen Turner/Kirsten Dunst)
Based on the novel by Jeffrey Eugenides.
*Terms Of Endearment (1983, Shirley Maclaine, Debra Winger)
Based on the novel by Larry McMurty.
*Welcome To The Rileys (2010, James Gandolfini, Melissa Leo, Kristen Stewart)
Technically, Allison isn't a biological daughter to the Riley's, but their discovery of her [and the subsequent relationship they have with her] mirrors many parental relationships which is why I'm including it here. Plus, it's an underrated film that deserves more attention.
*Steel Magnolias (1989, Shirley Maclaine, Olympia Dukakis, Sally Field, Julia Roberts)
*Mildred Pierce (1945, Joan Crawford, Ann Blyth)
*Mommie Dearest (1981, Faye Dunaway, Diana Scarwid)
*Mother And Child (2009, Naomi Watts, Annette Bening, Kerry Washington)
*One True Thing (1998, Meryl Streep, Renee Zellweger)
*Smooth Talk (1985, Laura Dern, Mary Kay Place)
Also known as "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been", based on the short story by Joyce Carol Oates.
*Thirteen (2003, Evan Rachel Wood, Holly Hunter)
*The Kids Are All Right (2010, Annette Bening, Julianne Moore)
HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!
My mother is older now. We both are. Time doesn't go in fast-forward when you want it to. Time goes in fast-forward when you're not looking...
©2011 by KLiedle
Selected photos from AllMoviePhotos.com
Monday, April 25, 2011
Ever since I went to Yosemite National Park in September, I've been motivated to seek out more of the 'wild' of Los Angeles. Even in the most urban of areas, there are plenty of local hikes where I can play make-believe adventure. I just have to be willing to seek them out.
Temescal Canyon Gateway Park is one of those places. It's been on my list for awhile. Nestled in Pacific Palisades, Temescal Canyon is a popular hiking area. From the map, I could see that the park was right off Sunset Boulevard, just west of the fringes of Will Rogers State Park. Parking inside the park is $7.00. As suggested from other online hiking sites, however, I easily [and surprisingly] found street parking just outside the park. [I'm a person that hates to spend money on the idiocy of parking my car.]
The main Temescal Ridge Trail rises steadily above Sunset. Suddenly you'll find yourself high above the Pacific Ocean. It's a dramatic view, especially on a clear sunny day. I didn't find the hike to be tremendously strenuous, but it does require more effort than a leisurely stride so you should be in decently good shape before attempting it.
There is an elevation gain of about 1,000 feet. ( In comparison, my hike to Upper Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park had an elevation gain of nearly 3,000 feet... enough to make me both nauseous, dehydrated, and crabby. Yet, I was never so proud as when I completed that hike in its entirety!)
In addition to the view, which gets better with every step you take, there are also plenty of wildflowers and little critters to see along the way-- including grey squirrels, birds, and lizards.
On my descent, just past the waterfall, I happened to see a rattlesnake stretched along the path. I find reptiles fascinating and all, but I don't mess around with rattlesnakes. I stopped and gave him space. Within moments, I saw a female jogger bounding down the trail, full speed ahead. I raised my hand high and yelled a warning to alert her. She was extremely grateful. We both paused and stared at the rattler in awe. Eventually, he slithered away-- evidently bored with our company.
I'd highly recommend a daytrip to Temescal Canyon. If you take the main trail and stick with it, eventually it'll loop around, resulting in a pretty awesome roundtrip hike. After the hike, you can get back in your car and zip down to the beach, if you're so inclined or take a cruise down Pacific Coast Highway. It's also not to far from Brentwood and Westwood.
Here are some other tips:
- Bring sufficient water and snacks, especially on warm days.
-Apply sunscreen and wear a hat, whenever possible.
-Be aware of your surroundings. Rattlesnakes do live in this area (According to forest rangers in the area, rattlesnake numbers could be high this season, so be on the lookout!)
For more information about local hikes in your area, check out: Local Hikes
©2011 by KLiedle
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Dog Day Afternoon, Network, Before The Devil Knows You're Dead
Thank you for sharing your film legacy!
Monday, April 4, 2011
Much has been written of Audrey Hepburn and the iconic film, Breakfast At Tiffany's. In most, we're stylishly whisked away into the world of Holly Golightly. Living alone in a brownstone in Manhattan. Cha-cha-cha, isn't she just marvelous? Oh, Darling, don't you wish you could be her? Romance. Cat. Oh, poor Cat! We do belong to each other...
We're hooked and we've sunk in one smooth move. In love with Holly and all she represents, we're doomed. But Holly is a riddle. She is, by definition, impossible to define. And that is, above all, her greatest charm. Truman Capote made it so.
Sam Wasson's newest book, Fifth Avenue 5 A.M. [Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast At Tiffany's and The Dawn Of The Modern Woman] digs deeper than any other book on the subject I've read. And I've read many. Most books focus on the film and its iconic status, but Wasson takes us through more: the beginnings, the struggles, the fears, the conflicts, the contradictions and the ultimate success of the Breakfast At Tiffany's we've come to know.
As with any creative endeavor, Breakfast At Tiffany's didn't just come together. It was gestating for a long time before it was words on a page [and images on a screen in the Hollywood adaptation.] And at any given point, it could've easily fallen apart.
Would audiences coming right out of the '50s embrace a main character who, in the very simplest terms, is a high-society call girl? Played by Audrey Hepburn? Paramount Pictures was uneasy. According to Wasson's book, film producers Marty Jurow and Richard Shepherd, optioned Capote's novella, without "the faintest idea how the hell they were going to take a novel with no second act, a nameless gay protagonist, a motiveless drama, and an unhappy ending, and turn it into a Hollywood movie."
They don't end up together in the end, you know. The boy and the girl. Holly and Cat. It's not the romantic chiffon of an ending that you might have been expecting. Not in Capote's world. Holly goes on being Holly. In the novel, Cat is last seen, "flanked by potted plants and framed by clean lace curtains...seated in the window of a warm-looking room." His new owner's room. A place where, finally, he "may have arrived somewhere he belonged." And gotten himself a name. Holly leaves the brownstone behind and jets to Brazil, giving no forwarding address. She may still be there. Or in Africa. No one knows, least of all, Holly.
In the early 60s, Holly Golightly changed the game and no one even knew it was happening. She made it not only glamorous, but acceptable for a woman to be independently-minded, stylish, and God forbid-- unmarried. Holly did what she wanted. Fifth Avenue chronicles how she pulled it off and how numerous Hollywood personalities allowed her to exist well beyond the pages of Capote's novella.
Through countless interviews and research, Fifth Avenue touches on the personal details, the conflicts, and the controversies [Yunioshi anyone?] that otherwise would be nearly forgotten in the light of Breakfast At Tiffany's success since. It's that rare book where even the sources and notes in the back are fascinating subject material (and motivation for further reading.)
Loving It. Wanting More.
More Mancini Music From Breakfast At Tiffany's
Post ©2011 by KLiedle
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
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Tuesday, March 22, 2011
In 7th grade, I had a Japanese pen pal from Shizuoka, Japan. That experience led me to doodle Japanese characters all over folders. I learned to fold a tight origami crane. I even taught myself traces of Japanese. Some of it stuck, like gum to the bottom of a forgotten pair of shoes.
By college, the fascination had bubbled up again. I applied to the JET program [ Japanese Exchange and Teaching Programme], completed all the requirements, got my recommendations, and promptly chickened out completely. I wasn't ready to travel overseas to such a foreign culture for such a long time.
In recent years, I've reinvigorated this desire for Japan-- learning more of the language and trying to commit to learning some hiragana and katakana (phonetic Japanese characters.) After New Zealand won out as my last travel destination, Japan was next in line... rising like the sun as my near future destination. Now, I discovered, I am a bit older, more knowing of myself, more confident in delving into such a foreign culture from my Western upbringing. Now, I am ready.
Unfortunately, Japan is not.
It is with great sadness that I watched with the rest of the world [what seemed to be never-ending] footage of destruction in Japan the weekend of March 11. The nuclear radiation fears, the torturous tsunami-- all of it set forth by a massive 9.0 magnitude earthquake that alone, would've crippled any other land, including my own.
This past Sunday, I braved heavy rain to attend the Los Angeles Times Travel & Adventure Show at the Los Angeles Convention Center. I'd been looking forward to gathering information about an upcoming trip to Japan. With hundreds of exhibitors from around the world within my reach, I found no travel exhibitors from Japan. There were no tour operators pushing trips to Mount Fuji. No, Japan was eerily silent. They had a presence, but it was one of peace and hope and unity. At a booth near the front, volunteers sat quietly folding origami cranes from colorful paper. Others stood, hands outstretched, collecting Japan relief money into tin canisters. I dropped some money in, as I walked by.
"Arigato," said a Japanese woman, her head bowed to the ground.
"Douitashimashite," I said, smiling back and giving a little bow myself.
It's a hope, a daydream, a dare, and a promise...
Help Japan 日本
©2011 by KLiedle