September 19, 2014
An Interview with Evelyn Lee

I recently got the chance to interview up and comer Evelyn Lee, writer/director for the film “Losing Game.” The film revolves around the story of the rocky relationship of a young couple facing problematic situations prior to Valentine’s Day. In this interview, we talk about film, the modern age, and long walks with Kevin Spacey.

Me: Hello Ms. Lee, how are you doing today?

Evelyn Lee: I’m well, thank you! Hope you are, too. And please, just call me Evelyn.

Me: Well, EVELYN, what was your primary source of inspiration for “Losing Game?”

Evelyn: In this day and age, it’s becoming more and more common for many interactions to take place via social media. Many of my friends, myself included, have been in situations where relationships, or friendships, have ended through social media or text messages. Whether it was a breakup text or email, or they were blocked on Facebook, it was all done in a very non-personal way, making it so much more hurtful. I wanted to make “Losing Game” as a way to explore the impact that technology has on relationships and communication, or lack of, in our contemporary society.

Me: What was the filming process like? I know a scene was done outside in the snow, so that must have been rough!

Evelyn: The filming process was a rather smooth one. I was very fortunate enough to be surrounded by a great cast and crew to help make this all possible. We were even able to get an expensive restaurant location for free. There were, of course, technical obstacles, but we were able to come up with solutions. We even managed to wrap well ahead of schedule.

Filming in the snow was tough. We had a brutal winter season in NYC. The ground was frozen with ice and the wind was around 20mph that day. The wind made it colder than it already was and made it harder for us to get clean sound. But with the cooperation of my cast and crew, we shot the scene in less time than anticipated. We actually got lucky because shortly after we wrapped the scene, it started to snow again.

Me: What did you shoot on?

Evelyn: The film was shot on a Canon 5D Mark II with 50mm prime lenses. This allowed us to shoot with natural lighting and a more shallow depth of field.

Me: Ok, Kevin Spacey calls you. He wants to go on a run with you. Tell us about that experience.

Evelyn: Kevin Spacey calls to go on a run with me. I agree. We meet up two hours later and discuss his illustrious career as we run. He shares some of his Spacey wisdom with me. On our last stretch of the run, I start to slow down; I eventually stop to catch my breath. Spacey keeps going (he’s in great shape for 55). At the end of the block, he thrusts his arms up in the air victoriously - Rocky style. When I finally catch up, Spacey agrees to a coffee to discuss my next film, which he’s agreed to star in.

Me: Ok, and finally, where and when can we watch “Losing Game?”

Evelyn: “Losing Game” will be available on YouTube on Friday, October 3, 2014!

Me: Thanks so much!

Evelyn: Thank you!!

September 14, 2014
There Will Be Blood (2007)

IMDB Summary: A story of family, religion, hatred, oil and madness, focusing on a turn-of-the-century prospector in the early days of the business.

Paul Thomas Anderson directs this dark narrative of oil business entrepreneur Daniel Plainview during his career. Plainview, played by Daniel Day Lewis, delves into the business during the turn of the century, when the practice is still a gamble, while still attempting to the single father for his newborn son. When he finds oil but is left injured, his career starts rolling. Fast forward ahead a few years, and Plainview is already on the top of his game attempting to set up various oil towns. When approached by Paul Sunday, played by Paul Dano, that there is oil on his land, he sets forth on this new venture. Although the land is abundant with oil, problems arise.

Most likely my favorite performance from Daniel Day Lewis as well as Paul Dano, There Will Be Blood did not disappoint. Yes, it’s Paul Thomas Anderson so it’s like 2.5 hours long and there are several periods where nothing much is happening. However, the acting and the dialogue and the rising actions of this film contribute so much that it’s definitely worth sitting through and watching it. Lewis won the Oscar for best leading role for this in 2007, but Dano wasn’t nominated for best supporting. The Academy made a mistake to say the very least, but I won’t go into film politics with you guys on this blog. (I don’t really want to bore everyone all the time.) Keep watching until the very end, you don’t want to miss DDL’s infamous “milkeshake” speech.

This film is a marvel when it comes to visual aesthetic as well as sound. I’m not a huge fan of the repetitive scoring because that gets rather annoying, but sound editing-especially after a certain scene when sound becomes very key in a character’s life- is so amazing! Comparable to the quality of The Hurt Locker for me. The cinematography, like any PTA film, is also astounding.

Right now it’s on Netflix, so even though I’m not too crazy about the story itself, I definitely think you all should give it a chance!

Rate:9/10

September 7, 2014
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

IMDB Summary: Light years from Earth, 26 years after being abducted, Peter Quill finds himself the prime target of a manhunt after discovering an orb wanted by Ronan the Accuser.

Never thought I would be so into a Marvel film, and I most certainly never thought I would cry because of a Vin Diesel character. On top of all of this, I definitely never thought I would identify with a trigger happy raccoon. Yet, with all of these expectations, I was pleasantly surprised with Guardians.

Chris Pratt (Andy Dwyer from Parks and Rec) plays Peter Quill, space thief extraordinaire. When he becomes tangled with a devious plot involving some weapon to destroy the universe (cheesey, I know, let me get through this plot line) he befriends an unlikely group of alien misfits.

I’m not that into the films Marvel has been putting out as of late (sorry I’m not sorry) but I must say, this was a very good movie. I found it entertaining, and I thought it had much more of a short term plot as well as a continuing storyline for inevitable Guardians sequels. I knew Chris Pratt had it in him to carry a lead role ever since his minor yet serious spot in Zero Dark Thirty. Zoe Saldana didn’t necessarily surprise me, in fact she was incredibly reminiscent of her Star Trek roles in this film. This film involved lots of witty dialogue and hilarious 80s references. For some reason, maybe it was the outlandish costumes and characters, but Guardians had a Fifth Element flare to it that I thoroughly appreciated.

Guardians was a surprisingly good film, I do recommend this!! It’s hilarious, it’s pretty well thought out for a superhero movie, and despite plenty of corny moments it has great scenes. 

Rate:7.5/10

August 30, 2014
Frances Ha (2012)

IMDB Summary: A story that follows a New York woman (who doesn’t really have an apartment), apprentices for a dance company (though she’s not really a dancer), and throws herself headlong into her dreams, even as their possibility dwindles.

Imagine a skinny white girl, parading around a park in New York. Doesn’t this sound like the premise of a stupid romantic comedy? I know, that’s what I thought. But I was pleasantly surprised by Greta Gerwig in this black and white film about a life that isn’t so black and white.

Gerwig plays Frances, a disheveled modern dancer trying to make it in New York. Initially, she’s living in an apartment with her best friend Sophie, but as their relationship takes some weird twists and turns, the film focuses on Frances just trying to do her thing. The film is so multi-faceted and it delves into the mysterious world of what “being a grown-up” really means. Do we take that seriously? Or do we just laugh it off? Either way, the movie takes you along on the crazy life of Frances Haliday and how she manages to just get by.

I can’t say that I’ve seen anything else Noah Baumbach has done, but I definitely will look into his other films based on how impressed I am with Frances Ha. I think it was a wonderfully executed film and it made me laugh, it made me on the verge of tears, and watching this movie was a really great experience. I recommend this to people who can relate to feeling a little lost at times. Keep in mind, this is a modern film done completely done in black and white! 

Rate:9/10

August 30, 2014
Zodiac (2007)

IMDB Summary: A San Francisco cartoonist becomes an amateur detective obsessed with tracking down the Zodiac killer.

Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, and Robert Downey Jr. star in David Fincher’s thriller about the San Francisco killings in the 1970’s. Gyllenhaal plays Robert Graysmith, the somewhat OCD cartoonist for the San Francisco Chronicle who begins to casually help reporter Paul Avery (RDJ) with the Zodiac killer case. San Fran homicide detective David Toschi is played by Mark Ruffalo, who also investigates the brutal killings in the area by the mysterious Zodiac figure.

This film is the ultimate Fincher film. It not only has the air of ambiguity and that yellow-ish cinematography that we all know Fincher so well for, it elicits from the audience the hunger that the Graysmith, Avery, and Toschi feel. It struggles to make sense of insanity, it questions reality within the everyday reality we all think we know. Although the movie is a three-hour long epic, you really have to see all of it.

Now, I’m not going to lie, the first time I saw this film (about a year ago) I was extremely disappointed in it. I could barely pay attention, and to be honest, it just wasn’t Fight Club. However, now I realize that this is the beauty of Fincher, his progression as a filmmaker within a mere decade is not only amazing, but truly inspirational. Granted, you can tell he as a “type” of script he likes to work with. The kind of plot that blurs distinctions between what is known for sure and what is not, and you definitely do not know what is going on in Zodiac for sure. However, this film has so many awesome techniques and shots used to film it (ie. The brilliance of the insert shot) that it’s hard not to appreciate it from a technical standpoint. On top of that, the story itself is really interesting.

Even if you’re not a person who appreciates a good serial killer film (I know I’m not) I recommend this to anyone who appreciates a good thrill.

Rate:7/10

August 18, 2014
Wish I Was Here (2014)

IMDB Summary: Aidan Bloom is a 35-year-old man who finds himself at major crossroads, which forces him to examine his life, his career, and his family.

The Kickstarter project Zach Braff wrote, directed, and stared in was definitely not Garden State. Granted, it’s been a decade since the generation x coming of age film, so I shouldn’t have EXPECTED the audience to be aimed at the same age group. But, as a young person who related to Garden State so hard I cried 3 separate times, I was a little disappointed with Wish I Was Here.

It’s sad, it’s funny, Kate Hudson is way too pretty to be a mother. The premise is that Zach Braff (Aidan) is a struggling actor with very Jewish children and a dying father. Yeah, sad, I know. However, the humor is subtle but worth it. It includes performances by Josh Gad, Donald Faison (as a huge Scrubs nerd, yes I screamed.) and the daughter is a really talented up-and-comer Joey King. Definitely keep an eye out for her, because her performance in this was really spectacular. I won’t criticize the acting aspect of this too much since I think everyone was really into it. However, I just wasn’t a huge fan of the dialogue and I think it wasn’t written as well as it could have been. Some parts were endearing, but the tackiness of a few awkward lines just ruined a majority of the film for me.

I did really like the religious aspect of this film. The Blooms all deal with religion and God in different manners when the grandfather begins to pass away. It’s interesting how Braff’s existential dilemmas were examined from each perspective.

Cinematography-wise, it was a very LA film. There was tons of natural lighting. So much. You may even confuse it with a teenage romantic comedy.
Overall, I wasn’t a huge fan of this film. I’m a huge fan of Zach Braff, but I think the idea was just ok and the writing was just ok.

Rate: 5.5/10

August 5, 2014

Anonymous said: Can you do a movie review for the movie Candy and the movie 10 Things I Hate About You - both with Heath Ledger?

I haven’t seen Candy but I will do that ASAP! In the meantime, here’s 10 Things I Hate About You

August 4, 2014
Moulin Rouge! (2001)

IMDB Summary: A poet falls for a beautiful courtesan whom a jealous duke covets in this stylish musical, with music drawn from familiar 20th century sources.

Baz Lurhmann is one of the most bold filmmakers of this time, and that is literally so exciting to me that I want to sing at the top of my lungs. Not really, but have you heard Ewan Mcgregor and Nicole Kidman sing? I’m going to let you know right now- it’s adorable.

Ewan McGregor plays Christian, a young playwright trying to make his production on to French stages. Nicole Kidman is Satine, a young actress trying to become famous. Basically-forbidden love with crazy musical numbers thrown in. Plotwise- there isn’t anything incredibly surprising about the story. However, you have to admit it’s an incredibly unique idea with a very special cast and for some weird reason everything just works.

This movie combines the sexual appeal and energy of the French bohemian era with the sexual energy of modern pop music. Think fat dudes singing “Like A Virgin” by Madonna. Lurhmann uses this crazy editing technique that’s appropriate for the high-energy pace of this film (it’s an hour and half, but it feels like 20 minutes) It’s basically a love story/musical- which doesn’t appeal to most people, but I really enjoyed it. (PS If you didn’t like The Great Gatsby, probably not a good idea to watch this movie.)

Rate: 7/10

July 8, 2014
They Came Together (2014)

IMDB Summary: When Joel and Molly meet, it’s hate at first sight: his big Corporate Candy Company threatens to shut down her quirky indie shop. Plus, Joel is hung up on his sexy ex. But amazingly, they fall in love, until they break up about two thirds of the way through.

“You didn’t tell me your parents were white supremacists!” that’s it. That’s literally the comedy of this film, and it’s wonderful. It’s basically early 2000s SNL reenacting every Nora Ephron film ever made. (Ok except Julie & Julia) However, I loved the humor. It’s typical Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd humor, sort of slap-stick, sort of witty, really weird stuff.

The overall point of the film is to ridicule the absurdity of romantic comedies. The whole “goofy girl” and “idealistic young man” thing is outdated and completely unrealistic, similar to this film. I also believe this originally showcased at the film festival part of Bonaroo. I simply watched it on demand with my mom a few nights ago.

I really think it was hilarious. Not my favorite film by far, but I definitely find that it was entertaining, and let’s be honest, anything that Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler are in usually is worth watching once.

Rate: 5.5/10

July 3, 2014
Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

IMDB Summary: An officer finds himself caught in a time loop in a war with an alien race. His skills increase as he faces the same brutal combat scenarios, and his union with a Special Forces warrior gets him closer and closer to defeating the enemy.

Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt star in this mash-up film of Pacific Rim/Source Code/Groundhog Day/Oblivion in which Tom Cruise has to relive the same day in order to try and win a war. It’s pretty crazy.

This super futuristic film has a pretty intriguing plot. Like I said, it’s a mash-up of literally any random film that pertained to a surreal future. Cruise’s acting hasn’t really changed; he’s actually one of the more consistent actors in Hollywood today. He picks roles he knows he can do, nothing too crazy, and that’s cool! He’s found his niche and stuck with it. Blunt, on the other hand, has seen better roles. I’m not really sure why she was in this film, not because she wasn’t good, but because she seemed really misplaced the entire film.

The music was awful. However, being a summer blockbuster that’s to be expected.

The special effects were pretty good, I only saw it 2D but I was pretty impressed. The alien design was really similar to Pacific Rim (which had awesome visual effects).

This film had all the components of a typical summer blockbuster: awful music, ok plot and crazy special effects. I can’t say it was my favorite, but it was like two hours of overpriced entertainment!

Rate: 5/10