Monday, March 31, 2008

Home Theatre (Live Theatre, too!)

I rented a nice little crop of films last week, including "Southland Tales" and "Vacancy." Southland was much anticipated, much delayed, and only somewhat liked. It's a film that requires multiple viewings, but I'm not sure I can wade through the litany of B-List celebrities again. Vacancy was mildly surprising. Aside from the traditional Hollywood ending (how does Luke Wilson survive, seriously?), there were several tense moments and a rather creepy performance from Frank Whaley. Good to see Whaley still out there and acting. Over the weekend I also watched "Harsh Times" and "The Hoax." "Harsh Times" is a film about the ramifications of war and the return home. Christian Bale plays the lead and turns in another fine performance. It's strange to me the amount of Iraq war based films that have been coming out. Most of the films don't fare that well and that's mostly because we are currently living in that situation. We live out the war every day and watching a film about it isn't always our first choice for movie-going. "The Hoax" was better than I expected, but I'd recommend "F is for Fake," which partially covers the Clifford Irving story. 'F' is a documentary by Orson Welles about the art of deception through film, art, music, and any other medium you can lay hands on. A great film and a great soundtrack.

On Friday, Kara and I went to see "Assassins" performed by New Line Theatre in the beautiful Ivory Theatre. The Ivory is an old church that has been renovated and transformed into a great space for live theatre. Kara and I were both pretty excited for the performance, but I found myself pretty bored during parts of the performance. The acoustics were great and some of the characters were really engaging, but the musical numbers didn't really wow me and Kara didn't laugh as much as she wanted to. Regardless, there are a few shows on the slate for the Ivory that pose to be really interesting, namely the rock musical version of High Fidelity.

I went to see "Meet Bill" on Monday. This movie was horrible. Don't see it.

I met with Sharlene Kindt on Monday evening to discuss the upcoming screenings of the Idaho Avenue Film Festival. There will be a best of screening at the Feasting Fox in South City. This screening is done in conjunction with FrontYard Features. It will be held on May 31 at 8pm. Then in September, there will be another screening at my house, the original IAFF site.

I have a few exciting film and film related projects coming up in the next couple of months. I recently went out to Lindenwood to judge a few pieces for the upcoming Lindy awards. I will be speaking at Rohan Woods on Thursday, the make up date from the snowed out event a few months ago. This is for their Fine Arts Day and I have the honor of talking about filmmaking and my duties at work. Later this month I will venture over to Webster University to speak to a couple of Thomas Crone's classes about short film scriptwriting/production. This summer I will be helping with a film camp for kids from Reed Elementary from Ladue. They will attempt to recreate the Pirates of the Caribbean into a 5 to 7 minute short film. That should be interesting.

I want to give a special thanks to Dave Callahan and his most generous gift. It is truly a thing of beauty. I look forward to using it and creating new, exciting, and wonderful projects with it. This is a huge step for Meatloaf Productions on our journey to production greatness and soaring to new heights.

I also want to send a hello to Jason Braun. Jason is covering St. Louis with his delicious sounds through his experimental hip-hop under the guise of Jason and the Beast. He will be performing at the Bluebird on April 25th. Check him out if you can.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Feeling Romantic

This is the love of my life.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I'm writing an email to a kid interested in interning at Cinema St. Louis. It really zaps me back to the times when I would interview for different positions. That really creates a feeling of loneliness or the world against you mentality. There you are, in the hot seat, bombarded with questions about things you normally don't think about or at least don't express out loud. For some reason, emailing this kid reminded me of the time I went to Philadelphia to spend a few days with my good pal, Gerald. I flew in alone and waited for a train to take me out to where he was staying with his sister. For whatever reason, those moments alone on the train platform were like drowning in a state of in between. No one to talk to, no where to go, nothing to do but wait. I had a phone in my pocket and a bag on my back and I just sat there. Wanderlust or something similar. I had a great time in Philly once I hooked up with Gerald, but for the few minutes on that platform, I didn't really exist to anyone but myself.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Let's All Go to the Lobby!

Some sweet, sweet activity has been taking place since I last blogged.  I went to see "21" on Friday.  It was okay, standard fare for a poker/gambling flick.  I think there are a few movies coming out soon that center around Las Vegas, but it seems the Vegas buzz is starting to wear off.  "21" features Kevin Spacey.  This guy is weird.  He was huge after "Seven" and "American Beauty," but started cranking out duds like this film, "Superman Returns," and "Fred Claus."  Just about always fun to watch, though, and his good far out weighs the bad.

On Thursday, Kara and I went to cinĂ©16 at the Missouri History Museum.  This was our first experience with cinĂ©16 since the Mad Art days, nearly three years ago.  It's nice to see it back on the map, and hopefully it keeps going strong.  Kara and I were near regulars at Mad Art, but the program changed hands, changed locations, and lost most of its loyal following.  The nights theme was films from around the world.

Before grocery shopping tonight, Kara and I stopped by The Record Exchange for a little indulgence in guilty pleasures.  I've been wanting to purchase audio cassette tapes for my car.  It is a 1989 Buick Park Avenue.  It doesn't have a CD player, I don't listen much to commercial radio, and NPR is getting really depressing as our world continues its downward spiral.  The tapes I picked up were Ella Fitzgerald, Al Hirt, the Beatles, and Miles Davis.  I also picked a Talking Heads tape off of eBay last week.  There are a few other jazz tapes I'm interested in picking up, as well as maybe "Thriller" by Michael Jackson, but that will be the extent of this nostalgic trip, as cassettes are somewhat costly for their dated appeal.

Things have been really picking up at work as submissions continue to pour in to the office.  It's a lot of fun opening the envelopes up and looking at the packaging people send their films in.  Sometimes it can be really eye catching, other times it's the equivalent of a student's work in his junior year video class.  I'll be bringing some shorts home to start in insurmountable, Mark Bielikesque (~Herculean) task of putting together the short subjects program for the St. Louis International Film Festival.  Wish me luck!

Psst...He's the king!

Monday, March 17, 2008


I've been really lazy about posting lately and I'm sorry for that. The post from Friday was actually just finished up a few minutes ago. I really haven't had much motivation for posting recently, but today I came across something that made me really excited. More on that in a minute.

Earlier today I went to a screening of "Paranoid Park." The film was sleepy and the main character was pensive and confused. A good flick, especially for a rainy day like today. Not my favorite Gus Van Sant film, but still a better movie than most of what's out in the megaplex.

I worked the comic book show yesterday and it was a moderate success. I got rid of a few things, cut some decent deals, and enjoyed my time spent with Jeff Elden and Matt Kindt. Big props to Jeff for helping out during the entire day, hopefully he has spread the love with his new mini, "Vicious Robot Tuesday."

I just read on Newsarama that Tim Sale has signed an exclusive contract with Marvel Comics. Exclusive contracts for writers and artists are not a new thing, but it's exciting because Sale will once again collaborate with Jeph Loeb on a Marvel hero: Captain America. I've always enjoyed the work the two have done, both separate and together (especially together). After conquering Spider-Man, Daredevil, and the Hulk, the two team up to take on the guy who is arguably Marvel's biggest icon. I'm really looking forward to it.

Friday, March 14, 2008


It's been a very busy week. March is already halfway finished and that's just hard to believe. As I mentioned yesterday, there are a lot of things that I wanted to blog about in further detail. First off, I received a haircut yesterday from that venerable utopia of fashion, Great Clips. I really like getting haircuts. I like the feel of hands through the hair, but more so the feel of the buzzer trimming hairs on my neck and around the ears. Man, that sounds creepy when I write it down. I'm sure many other folks are in the same position, though. The thing I like more than a haircut is a cheap haircut. I've stockpiled coupons from the grand opening of my neighborhood Great Clips. I'm beginning to wonder if that's a wise practice. A cheap haircut is great, anytime I spend under $10, I'm elated. After yesterday, I may change the practice. My haircut just looks dumb and there's not much I can do with it. Say what you will about using product, but I like it. Possibly the most discouraging aspect of the haircut, however, is the hairdresser. There are times when I'm not very good at sparking dialogue with someone. Those times are usually when I'm seated in the old haircut chair. It's not that I'm not interested in talking with hairdressers, or really anybody in general, but what are we going to talk about? You won't understand what I do and I'm pretty sure I have the full grasp of what you do, end of story. What's horrible is when the hairdresser's hands and arms are covered in cigarette smoke and shoved up in your face. Hands down, worst haircut ever. Ugh, enough venting. Movie time!

So I've got a whole slew of movies to talk about, but I don't really feel like talking about any of them. Well most of them. Kara and I watched "Protagonist" over the weekend and it was really, really good. This documentary is by Jessica Yu, who also made "In the Realms of the Unreal." The doc tells the stories of four men: a German terrorist, a bank robber, a martial arts student, and an "ex-gay" evangelist. Using Euripides' dramatic structure, Yu shows the parallels and similarities that all of the men experienced even though their stories are quite disparate. She also uses marionettes to convey the thematic elements of Euripides plays.

Of the other films I have watched recently, none have been overwhelming or awesome. I watched "Gone Baby Gone," "Bug," and "Factory Girl." Kara and I watched "Into the Wild," "Meet the Robinsons," and "The Fountain." That was the second time I had watched "The Fountain" but it was great to see it again, especially with Kara. I remember seeing it when it first opened with six other people in the theatre. Granted it was the a screening at noon on the day before Thanksgiving, but I figured it would have a bigger audience than that. Ulitmately, it didn't do very well at the box office. It's a great film, nonetheless, both beautiful in story and to look at. Highly recommended, especially with your puzzle piece for life.

I took in a screening of "Snow Angels" by David Gordon Green. This was a decent flick about small town folks and the web of connections between them. Kate Beckinsale was hot, but maybe too hot to just be working at a Chinese food restaurant. I should defintiely check out Green's back catalog, though.

After the screening of "Snow Angels" last Tuesday, I got together with David to fetch some 16mm films he acquired through Craigslist. David was nervous about going alone and I don't blame him. Things seemed to be okay once we arrived at the house of guy giving the films away. His name was Dennis and he was getting ready to move so (presumably) his wife was making him give up a bunch of junk instead of hauling it with them. It was the standard make up of a mid-fifties couple living in Affton. The basement was one part living space one part Dennis' work bench. He's been collecting film junk for years and it shows. He had some mildly interesting things (super 8mm cartridges, a few projectors, a few cameras) but he owned a 16mm copy of Slap Shot and Red Balloon. That was pretty neat. Afterwards, David and I went to the Yorkshire Deli and had lunch. It was delish and definitely recommended.

a still from "Protagonist"

Thursday, March 13, 2008


I hate that I haven't posted in a while. I hate it because there are a few things that I want to post about, but I've been so busy with those things that I don't have time to post. I'm preparing a larger post for tomorrow, hopefully, but here's a quick recap of things that have been going on, things I've been watching, and other junk happening.

Kara and I did a re-fi on our house. We got a lower rate (6%!) and lower monthly payments all while taking out some extra money to make some much needed home improvements. The first order of business will be installing central air. That's pretty exciting considering the sweat box the house becomes in the summer. The winter isn't too bad, because the house holds heat fairly well. Our house was built in 1910, so central air will be a nice centennial gift for our abode.

I've watched quite a few movies in the past week or so. I've been taking advantage of a program offered by Family Video. If you pay an upfront charge of $10, your rentals are half price for 30 days. If you rent frequently, as I have been doing, it's definitely worth it. A great way to catch up on new releases and slightly older than new releases as well. My next post will reviews or quips about the movies I've seen most recently.

Over the next few days, I'll slowly be working on putting everything in order for the big comic book show on Sunday. I should have a long box of comics, a box of movie posters, and a couple boxes of action figures. On a somewhat related note, I recently looked at pictures of costumes for the "Watchmen" movie. Some were neat and spot on, others were flat out disappointing (Ozymandias). I mean Joel Schumacher disappointing. The outfit for Silk Spectre is pretty funny, but at the same time hot. I won't lie on how I feel about that. The actress playing the second Silk Spectre, Malin Akerman, is quite attractive, so that helps. I'll still go see the film, regardless of how goofy some of the costumes look.

I'm just hoping that the comic book film genre isn't thoroughly played out by that point. 2008 will be a big year for comic book movies (Hulk, Iron Man, The Dark Knight). If all of those films deliver the market for superhero movies will stay strong. With the direction those films are taking, there's no reason for me to think the market won't be there. It could go the way of slasher flicks: over saturation causes stagnation and people stop caring. Of course, horror and slasher movies will continue to be produced and their popularity is cyclical and the same will happen to superhero movies at some point. As I was gathering links for the big three comic book films, I discovered that Robert Downey, Jr. will be playing Tony Stark in the "Incredible Hulk." That's huge news not because of character crossover, which is also significant, but because it's the same actor portraying the character. That makes me even more excited for both movies. Get here now, summer!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Quick Hits

I was incorrect about the screening for "Paranoid Park." It's actually next Monday. "Youth Without Youth" is out now and I'm kinda interested in seeing it. Hopefully it's less visceral than the last Tim Roth film I saw.

I think I'm going to start titling some posts "Home Theatre" if I watch a film at home, instead of under the heading "Let's All Go to the Lobby." This may confuse some folks to go to my foyer. I wouldn't want that.

Also, special thanks to Jeff Elden for gifting me a copy of his wedding day mix CD. Kara and I have spun it once, and it's delicious in its ska, indie rock, and quirky juxtaposition. He also gave me a copy of "Vicious Robot Tuesday." Jeff will have copies available at the next comic show, where we will be set up together.

I'm kinda bored at work. And hungry. Time for a hot pocket. Speaking of work, I hope the work day is going well for Dan Nichols. He recently visited my office and expressed his disdain for his employment and possibly some resentment for my own. I want him to know he is in my thoughts and I hope he gets out of that dungeon soon.

Old Gregg. Youtube it. NOW!

Let's All Go to the Lobby!

After an action packed, filmmaking weekend, Kara and I went to the beautiful Winnie Moore for the Webster Film Series' screening of "Billy the Kid." This film is an intimate look at a fifteen year old kid growing up in Maine. Billy first appears as an outsider in his small town, the weird kid who is into heavy metal and karate. As the film goes along, you learn that Billy is just like any other teenage kid: dealing with gawky, awkward body changes, proud of the things you like, steadfast, headstrong, and stubborn in your beliefs, and prone to the ache of crushes and first loves. The film centers on how Billy deals with his school life, home life, and a rough upbringing. It really reminded me alot of Potosi, not of my own upbringing, but of the sentiment and mindset that most people there have. People everywhere should at least follow Billy's creed: "I'm not black, I'm not white, not foreign, just different in the mind. Different brains, that's all."

Like I mentioned in the opening, Meatloaf Productions wrapped shooting on the short film "Tonight, She takes her revenge and takes back her baby!" This, of course, is a working title. After two long weekends, its nice to have the film shot and ready for editing. Dave and I have several tricks up our sleeves for the editing process, lots of post-production effects work will be done. Hopefully it turns out well, and if it does it should be really interesting. We still have a few smaller pieces to shoot (intros, inserts, b-roll and news footage material) so the editing process will take a nice, long time.

Meatloaf Production's application for Coming Up Shorts is "under review." More than likely our app will be accepted, as over the past two years 45 projects are selected on average. Usually 10-15 are turned in on time in the end. I don't want to give anything away, but it will be magical. Check below for our entry last year. We didn't place, but we did lose out to a tit. Yes, a tit. An actual tittie.

Next Sunday I will be setting up at the St. Louis Comic Book Show. This will be my first time, so while I am anxious and nervous, I will be aided by Jeff Elden, a veteran of this comic book show. Stop by, say hi, hang out, and shop around. It will be a lot of fun.

One final note. I am a bit of a geek, some of you may know this. This geekdom, however, extends to the realm of fantasy sports. Yes, I am a gent who gushes over stats, but only in hockey, though I also participate in baseball leagues. I just wanted to share with you some of the names I have used for teams this season, because I think they are funny: James K. Polk, Wretched Bastiches, Captain Marvelous, The Skid Marks, The Old Dutch Rub, Sloppy Seconds, & the Granny Panties. One of the leagues, Murphy Hockey League III, features an actual trophy that the grand champion takes home. I missed the playoffs this year by one point, but have the top seed in the consolation round.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Let's All Go to the Lobby!

Yesterday I went to a screening of "Funny Games" by Michael Haneke, of "The Piano Teacher" and "Cache" fame. The film is actually a shot-by-shot remake Haneke's 1997 version of the same film. The film is brutal, intense, and kind of scary, to tell the truth. It conveys the same sort of tension I felt while watching "No Country for Old Men" and displays the same violent explosions of "A Clockwork Orange." You definitely need to be cognizant of who you watch this film with because it is not for the faint of heart or easily jilted. You have been warned.

Last night I rented five films and watched two: "We Own The Night" and "Eastern Promises." Night was conventional: set in the 80's it's a story of drugs, cops, and brothers. It was really pretty tame for some other drug films I've seen (I love you "To Live and Die in L.A."). Eva Mendes was kinda hot, but the film overall just felt stilted. Promises, on the other hand, was really good, much better than David Cronenberg's last film, "A History of Violence." I had heard a lot about the film, particularly the shower scene. The violence was gory, the acting was adequate, and the story was actually pretty good.

Monday should prove to be really exciting as I will attend a screening of "Paranoid Park." Gus Van Sant is at it again! Van Sant has had the strangest career. His films have always been different, against the grain, and flat out good. Paranoid Park has been called one of the best films of 2007, by the precious lucky few who have been able to see it. Now that it's getting released, hopefully the masses feel the same. The film savvy masses, anyway.

As I was posting the picture below, I suddenly remembered the time Kara and I were driving down Kingshighway and I saw a (presumably) homeless guy run up to the side of a building and started relieving himself. In the middle of the day. Right off one of St. Louis' busiest streets.

This guy just looks awesome.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Let's All Go to the Lobby!

Just watched the documentary "Taxi to the Dark Side." There is a good reason this doc won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. It's stirring, compelling, and gets down to the truth of illegal wartime prisons and the activities that go on within them. I remember a couple years ago hearing about Eastern European gulags being used by the US as terrorist holding cells. Then all the news hit about torture and tactics used that are immoral and illegal. That crafty old Bush even had the foresight to create provisions in interrogation legislation that would excuse him and any of his higher up cronies from being charged with any wrongdoing. The flakes on the frontline, however, had to bear the brunt of the backlash. Hopefully this film gets a lot more attention, especially now that it's an Academy Award winner. Maybe it'll get the right folks to step up and go after the real terrorist.

In other news, lots of production work is going down. Meatloaf Productions capped the first weekend of a two weekend shoot by capitalizing on the beautiful weather we had on Sunday. Adam, our Russian bookie, had to wear sunscreen the sun was beating down so hard! One more weekend to go then lots of fun post-production work awaits! Jacob Massa, current Lindenwood student and Cinema St. Louis intern, is adapting a Woody Allen play, the Whore of Mensa, as a short film. I've been asked to play two roles, as well as help out on crew if I am available. After shooting in the morning with Meatloaf Productions, I zipped out to St. Charles to play Word Babcock. Hopefully we can regroup after the crazy weather and finish it up. Time, and this blog, will tell.

Lastly, I listened to Jazz Unlimited for a couple hours on Sunday night and again for the short time that I was at work this morning. I'm digging pretty hard on Gerald Wilson. His piece "Lomelin" is great inspiration for a film noir detective story. It brings to mind stories like "Where the Sidewalk Ends," "The Third Man," "The Naked City," and "Touch of Evil." I've been kicking around a noirish story for a while in the old noggin. Maybe it's time I finally start putting some stuff down, and "Lomelin" is a great way to get myself in the mood.

Monday, March 3, 2008

This Winter is Great!

Alright, so I'm slacking off again. It's cold, icy, and snowy outside, maybe once more I'll be famous. This is the first winter in a long time that I remember it being so wet. I like it. I love watching it snow. It reminds me of being in the seventh or eighth grade and going to Clayton Martin's house. I was only going to stay one night but it turned into two or three because there was so much snow. At one point we stood outside and turned our faces upward as it snowed. It was heavy and thick, almost like flying through space.

There has been a lot to happen in the five or so days since I posted last. First off, congrats to Jeff and Kristen and their Leap Day Marriage. That will be an exciting and confusing time, I'm sure. A special thanks to my dearest friend, David. He took me out for lunch to Blueberry Hill for my birthday. It was a grand old time: we shared cheesecake and a chocolate bundt cake. He's dreamy. This is old news, but always exciting: Ralph Nader has entered the presidential race. Though I have not done so in the past, I think this year I may vote for him, if only because I have read "Unsafe At Any Speed" since the last election. But that opens up the debate of throwing votes away. We'll see what happens. Kara and I went to "The Bank Job" last Thursday. Based on a true story, it's a pretty conventional heist tale but with the twist of the British government being involved. It's a pretty standard Jason Statham vehicle. I'd say pass. I also finished Justice League: The New Frontier. Not exactly Darwyn Cooke's original vision, but still pretty good compared to some of the other straight to video comic book movies. It's worth the watch.
Finally, congrats to Mike & Matt on winning the Gimme Truth contest this past weekend in Columbia, MO. Matt didn't do a good job of fooling the judges apparently, but they still took home the top prize. Watch it below...