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!!

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

March 26, 2014
Rachel Getting Married (2008)

IMDB Summary: A young woman who has been in and out from rehab for the past 10 years returns home for the weekend for her sister’s wedding.

I may be the odd one out on this, but I legitimately think this is a perfect film. Anne Hathaway came onscreen as Kym former model now addict out of rehab. Kym goes back home in time for her older sister’s wedding-Rachel. Of course, drama ensues as Kym is struggling with her own issues with her addiction and her troubled past, and ultimately the family struggles to forgive her. It’s really complicated, but wonderful. The writing for this film was literally so well thought out and perfect. The plot was really good.

The cinematography is wonderful too, it’s intimate and documentary-like, but what I love most about the filming done for this is that it mirrors life in such a real way. I adore that.

However, what astonishes me most about this film is the acting. Like, woah. Anne Hathaway-is I didn’t know her from Princess Diaries, I would never even know it was her. She made me believe she had these complex addiction issues and to see her fighting to for her family’s love and trying to just live with herself was so heartbreaking.  The family gave stunning performances as well, the over-protective father played by Bill Irwin was an amazing performance, Rachel, played by Rosemarie Dewitt was also very realistic and awesome. Seriously, the film is perfect because of the performances, I cry like a baby every time I watch this film.

I highly recommend this movie to anyone really. It is dark and sad, so you have to brace yourself for that. But, it’s also on Netflix right now!

Rate 10/10

February 8, 2014
Fargo (1996)

IMDB Summary: Jerry Lundegaard’s inept crime falls apart due to his and his henchmen’s bungling and the persistent police work of the quite pregnant Marge Gunderson.

Once again, the Coen bros kick butt. I loved Fargo so much. The comedic timing was awesome (it was about a kidnapping gone wrong- so all dark humor.) The cinematography was awesome; it involved a lot of snow and Minnesota type things. And the Minnesota accents throughout the film were hysterical. Literally, there’s nothing wrong with Fargo.

William H. Macy plays Jerry Lundegard, who needs money so he hires two henchmen, Steve Buschemi and Carl Showater, to “kidnap” his wife so that he can get money from his father-in-law. However, everything goes wrong and a very persistent and kick-butt and VERY PREGNANT police chief, Frances McDormand, gets to the bottom of things.

This movie is not only wonderful and evil, but it’s on Netflix. So if it’s snowing cats and dogs (wrong expression, I don’t care) go watch this while you curl up with your cat or dog that’s recently fallen from the sky! Animals!

Also, Steve Buschemi is hilarious, this probably my favorite William H. Macy performance (besides Magnolia), and just everyone in this film was perfect. Good job Co Bros, good job.

I recommend to anyone who likes dark humor films. So anyone. 

Rate:10/10

November 10, 2013

Not Anymore: A Story of Revoltion

I’ve been working at the local film fest, and this was a submission into one the short films/documentaries category. I must say, this was the most influential 14 minutes of my life.

It’s the story of this wonderful, brave young women photographing the horrors in Syria. I highly recommend this. Please take the time our of your day to watch. It equals watching 3 videos of cats on youtube, so I think you’ll live.

It’s so brilliant, and terrifying, but honestly this movie made me feel as though we have the power to reach out and help. It’s a little graphic, as it has very high quality footage of the horrors occurring in Syria. I’m inspired to be as courageous as the young men and women fighting for their freedoms.

I definitely rate this 10/10, please take the time to watch this!!!

August 6, 2013
Ruby Sparks (2012)

IMDB Synopsis: A novelist struggling with writer’s block finds romance in a most unusual way: by creating a female character he thinks will love him, then willing her into existence.

Zoe Kazan wrote and costarred in this film alongside Paul Dano. Essentially, the movie is about Dano playing a writer who has apparently gone into a huge case of writer’s block. He’s also super neurotic and a lot of other weird backstory that you need to watch the film to understand. Basically, he writes himself the description of this “perfect” girl, Ruby Sparks (played by Zoe Kazan) and the entire film is about the fact that he controls this real-life person, and is completely and utterly in love with her.

Rad, love story. Anyway, the kicker is, overtime he realizes that his ideal woman, this manic pixie dream girl, if you will, doesn’t actually exist in real-life, and you can’t actually control people, because that’s selfish and rude. A major plot twist in what at first I believed to be a predictable film. Instead of being the misconstrued version of 500 Days of Summer, the film ended up being a kick in the butt to any sort of setback to feminism in modern society. (As the raging angry feminist I am, this pleased me.) 

The cinematography includes a lot of natural light, appropriate given the So-Cal setting. It’s nothing too fancy.

The acting is wonderful, I adore Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan. However, I feel like Dano regularly plays the nervous, white guy, Michael Cera-act, which is fine, but I’d love to see him do something else. Zoe Kazan also wrote this film, and writer/actors are my favorite sort. 

Overall, I really liked this movie and I would recommend it.

Rate: 8/10

July 1, 2013
Cloud Atlas (2012)

IMDB Synopsis: An exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.

Far from a passive film, Atlas takes the audiences into the lives and stories of 5 main concepts. Constantly bouncing back and forth, the movie watches how these character’s lives unfold, with the general concept being that everyone is connected. The religious undertones imply some sort of reincarnation of sorts, being born again in a different life but doing the same thing. The film requires the audience to keep up with the plot and always make sure to organize everything yourself. Considering it’s a 3 hour film, that takes a ridiculous amount of brain power for plot points that could be either important or meaningless. Every 30 an hour or so, a lovely narrator comes along and summarizes the filmmaker’s theme, like “Choices make all the difference” or some lovely little saying about heroes. The acting on all ends were quite impressive, however I do find it odd that they chose Halle Berry to opposite Tom Hanks. They worked as a couple, but I just would not have guessed that it would work. The special effects were horrible. If you hate green screen, it’s a relatively apparent in this film. To be quite honest with you all, there’s a scene in the film where Ben Whisaw is escaping his boyfriend’s apartment, and you see his bum. That’s probably my favorite part of the film. If you like complicated films with tons of morals thrown in, go ahead and rent Cloud Atlas from Redbox. 

Rate: 6/10

June 12, 2013
Promised Land (2012)

IMDB Synopsis: A salesman for a natural gas company experiences life-changing events after arriving in a small town, where his corporation wants to tap into the available resources.

Ok, Promised Land. Let’s start with what you should know. Matt Damon plays this guy who is trying to buy land from people in the Midwest in for a gas company so they can drill there. Obviously, this causes problems because drilling for natural gas can be dangerous, yada yada. Then John Krasinski comes along as an advocate for an environmental agency, protesting Matt Damon’s business. So that causes a whole issue in the town. Gus Van Sant directs this  movie with a great amount of care. It’s political, and supposedly dramatic, but I interpreted the whole thing more as cheesy. And yes, I adore Matt Damon, John Krasinski, and Van Sant, and props to them for writing/directing/producing the whole thing. The acting was great. The cinematography was pretty. But in actuality, this movie was really boring. There’s a wee bit of a plot twist that stimulates the whole film quite a bit, but I just did not love it. I would recommend it if you have redbox money and ABSOLUTELY nothing to do, but the plot just didn’t tickle my fancy. 

Rate: 4/10

June 1, 2013
Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

IMDB Synopsis: After the crew of the Enterprise find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction.

Ok, if you’re going to read this blog, you must understand that I am a wee bit of a Trekkie. “Oh God! No!” you may scream as you stare at the naughty words “Live long and prosper” on this very movie review blog. Well, yes. I am, and I am so very sorry. On top of that, I adore Benedict Cumberbatch, so when they announced his role as the villain Jim Harrison/Khan, I was exorbitantly happy to say the very least. Anyway, so I went into the theater with high hopes, and I’m glad to say that those expectations were met! I think the CGI was amazing, if you’re not a special effects or cinematography nerd and typically don’t care about that sort of stuff; Into Darkness will open your eyes. (That sounds ironic, whoops.) The storyline is a wee tacky, and pretty predictable, but once you get over that it’s pretty good. I mean, it’s a science fiction. There’s a good chance that if a film belongs in that category, it WILL get outlandish and ridiculous, but that’s the beauty of a great imagination and the magic of Hollywood, my friends. JJ Abrams once again captures the audience in such a manner that you can’t help but hold on for the ride.

I don’t really know what else to say about this movie besides the fact that I adored it. I love this concept, I love where it went, I just loved it. I’m sure this wouldn’t necessarily tickle everyone’s fancy, but I would recommend watching it if you have a taste for adventure and exploring the infinite abyss, the final frontier, something that has captured my curiosity for ages.

Rate: 10/10 

April 29, 2013
Friends with Kids (2011)

IMDB Synopsis: Two best friends decide to have a child together while keeping their relationship platonic, so they can avoid the toll kids can take on romantic relationships.

Jennifer Westfeldt (Jules) wrote, directed, and starred in this romantic comedy in which herself and Adam Scott (Jason) are two bff’s and want to have a kid, but not miss out of having sex. So this film basically takes you through this 3 year experiment filled with sexual exploits, judgmental friends, etc. Yes, it is a romantic comedy. Don’t let the cover fool you. It’s funny, and it’s raunchy, but it’s cheesey and gooey and romantic at times too. This includes (spoiler) a big over the top romantic ending as well. However, the parallelism between this film and When Harry Met Sally can be obvious; it’s then overwhelmed with this modern twist. This big, enormous modern twist: the last few lines. These lines being “Let me f**k the sh** out of you.” (Jason is trying to prove to Jules he is attracted to her as well as emotionally devoted.) Yes. Crude and naughty, proving that long gone are the days of cheese rom-coms, filled with Meg Ryan antics and saying “freaking” when we all know you meant to drop the f bomb. And although I’m typically a traditionalist when it comes to films, I adore this progress in romantic comedies. At one point, it was shameful to say you adore rom-coms. They’re known for their classic cheeseyness. But this movement in crude dialogue gives the entire genre a general feeling of relatability. It’s so much more real in a sense. It makes more sense for a boy to profess their love in a profane way as opposed to a Shakespearean sonnet. Romantic love in the traditional sense has completely become obsolete in today’s society, but in all honesty, I don’t even mind. Granted, it was cute and funny to act in the PG way, but let’s face it, we live don’t live in a rated world and that’s makes life so much more interesting. 

Ok, back to the film itself. The cast was brilliant; the dialogue was real and wonderful. The pacing and the cinematography were mediocre.  It was a solid film though. I would recommend this to anyone who likes crude humor but has a romantic side as well. Plus it’s on instant on Netflix.

Rate 7/10