Monday, December 28, 2009

Review: Avatar (2009) [Reviewed By Clifford Kiyabu]

Directed by: James Cameron
Written by: James Cameron (written by)
Genre: Action / Adventure / Sci-Fi
MPAA: Rated PG-13 for intense epic battle sequences and warfare, sensuality, language and some smoking.
Released: 18 December 2009
Starring: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, Giovanni Ribisi, Joel Moore.

Plot: A paraplegic marine dispatched to the moon Pandora on a unique mission becomes torn between following his orders and protecting the world he feels is his home.

Review: 10/10

The Story is about: AVATAR takes us to a spectacular world beyond imagination, where a reluctant hero embarks on an epic adventure, ultimately fighting to save the alien world he has learned to call home. James Cameron, the Oscar-winning director of "Titanic," first conceived the film 15 years ago, when the means to realize his vision did not exist yet. Now, after four years of production, AVATAR, a live action film with a new generation of special effects, delivers a fully immersive cinematic experience of a new kind, where the revolutionary technology invented to make the film disappears into the emotion of the characters and the sweep of the story.

My Thoughts: In all my years I’ve always had a hunger for wanting to observe and learn the many different cultures and historical events the world has to offer, from life’s most horrific atrocities like wars without end to life’s greatest creation both natural and man made, what I‘ve learned though is that in all corners of the globe history has shown one quintessential truth: man fears what he simply does not understand, and he will destroy what he doesn’t understand! How much beauty has this world once had, and still has that is being destroyed by man all over the world? And that doesn’t include man’s thirst for taking what’s not his.

For a long, long time I have stood in disbelief over the production of James Cameron’s latest flick Avatar Mainly because I’ve always thought of him as an overrated director whom people over exaggerate from time to time, I mean sure he’s made some really good films in the past but I never really saw him as anything masterpiece like worthy, especially after he made Titanic (Don‘t get me started, I was forced to watch that movie in theaters so many times that I can recite the film’s dialogue scene for scene in my head.) so after he decided to leave directing to journey around the world by sea for all these years I figured with 12 years absent from the directing spot light he was pretty much done, and there was no way we’d get back the man we all knew from the 80’s and 90’s, I mean you’d have to take into account that 12 years is a long time, and the times have changed and he may not be able to live up to the monumental prestige he built over the course of 28 years, so I basically pre-judged this film from the get-go with a somewhat negative outlook on it, heck I didn‘t even think it would become anything note worthy when I first heard about it years ago when it was still in it‘s conceptual stage. Well that was before I sat down to watch it, and let me tell you; with all the fibers of my being telling me this film did not have the slightest chance of succeeding, I fell in love with the magnificently stunning world that is the Pandora!

Pandora is a lush earth-like moon that rotates around the gas giant Polyphemus, in the Alpha Centauri system and is inhabited by the na’vi, a species of humanoid-like natives that are blue skin and stand at rightly 10 feet or so tall. These wonderful beings are only the tip of the ice berg in the film Avatar. James Cameron has grafted a plot that is with layers of sub-messages that many film critics who’ve criticized the film failed to notice that the plot in itself is enriched with an echoing past tale presented in a futuristic setting, it’s like a modern telling of Pocahontas, I won’t go much future into saying anything else so as to not ruin the film for anyone. But I will say that Director James Cameron has outdone himself with creating one of the most visually unique enriching worlds with the film Avatar, what he’s done is bring more than just a film, but an experience of the decade! The stunning visual effects are second to none, and the storyline is a gripping hang on to the edge of your seat experience that is fully satisfying to say the least. I cannot stress how truly beautiful a film this is overall other than it’s nothing short of EPIC! The only slight problem the film had which I honestly don’t see it hurting the film in the slightest way is the dialogue some of the characters use in the film, it often at times seemed a little cheesy, but after a second viewing (Yes, this film needs to be viewed more than once to truly appreciate the wonders Cameron has created) I found it somewhat acceptable.

As for the acting: I’m not sure what the heck actor Sam Worthington did to make such an impression as to Star in two major films this year (the other being Terminator Salvation (2009)) but I’m glad he did it because he was fantastic in the leading male role, though I wasn’t to keen on his performance in Terminator Salvation, the latter was stunning to say the least, I greatly look forward to see what he’s got going for him next. Zoe Saldana was out-of-this-world in the leading female role, which is a huge step up I must say, because in my opinion she has usually played mediocre roles over the last decade, but in this year alone has changed my entire opinion on her after watching her preformed in this and in the summer hit Star Trek (2009). Sigourney Weaver has always been an on and off enjoyment for me, meanly because while I liked just about everything she’s done throughout the 80’s and 90’s, I’ve never fully enjoyed her work as an actress in the 00’s era as much as I’ve done in the past, but once again she has saved herself from falling from grace with her performance in Avatar as Dr. Grace Augustine, and brings out the part of herself that is reminiscent of the Weaver we’ve all come to love. Stephen Lang give a stellar performance that commanded authority on screen, and though he has some of the most cheesiest dialogue in the whole film, it’s clear the he was born for this part as he suit it perfectly.

It’s not unheard of that I’m a big Michelle Rodriguez fan, I’ve enjoyed her acting since my first viewing of Girlfight (2000), though I haven’t enjoyed much of her work in the more recent films (Fast & Furious (2009)) and I often wish she would think wisely about her choice in films she’d act in (Uwe Boll's BloodRayne (2005) the biggest disappointment for me) but we get a glimmer of that tough-girl performance that won over audiences years ago with her newest film Avatar! Though it’s not her best, it’s at least on par with her more better work which I’m more than satisfied with. Giovanni Ribisi give a pretty reasonable performance that I found very entertaining, and it’s especially nice to see him in a major film such as this again (everyone remember when he was a new up and coming actor? What the heck happened, man?). Joel Moore did impressively well, which is saying a lot from me, because I’ve always thought of him as one of those actors people consider a guilty pleasure, you can’t stand him in the roles he play, yet you can’t stop watching for the sake of curiosity.

Final Say: Avatar was an experience for the decade no doubt, it‘s one of those rare films that come along that you don‘t watch, you live it!, and after fully examining the film over in my mind I’ve come to the conclusion that such a film as grand as this would not be possible ten years ago, and had it been made earlier the film would have been an utter disaster! I’m glad James Cameron waited all these years for the technology to catch up in the film industry before making it, it certainly was well worth the wait and money, and hopefully we won’t have to wait another 12 years to see a sequel. I highly recommend it!

Copyright 2009 TCWreviews.com
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Rain Man Passed Away At 58.

As most of you know I’m not one to always report news regarding a celebrity’s death unless it’s someone monumentally big in show business, or simply because I have a fondness for them. Well it saddens me to report this next bit but: Kim Peek has died at the age of 58 According to The Guardian, the 58-year-old suffered a heart attack in his hometown of Salt Lake City, Ut. Peek was often labeled a 'megasavant' for his incredible recall and memorization abilities, being able to remember things the majority of people can even begin to fathom.

In case you don’t know who Peek was, he was the inspiration behind Dustin Hoffman's character 'Raymond Babbitt' from the oscar winning film Rain Man (1988). And after working on the set of the film he had gone onto making appearances all over the United Stats and elsewhere outside of the country appearing before more than 2 million people in his travels beside his father Fran and making new and personal connections with everyone he met. He was deemed by multiple groups as one of the ‘brightest individuals’ to come around in the last 100 years, and had a brain that many medical groups as well as scientist were fascinated by. In his journeys he’s managed impressively wow likes of Oxford University. Peek possessed expertise in about 15 different subjects which included history, geography, sports and literature, but unfortunately due to his permanent brain damage from birth he lacked motor skills to the point where he couldn’t perform basic tasks like dressing himself. Kim Peek is survived by his father Fran Peek, whom cared for him everyday of his life. Mr. Peek, it was a pleasure having to share yourself with the world, we certainly will not forget you.

R.I.P
11 November 1951 – 19 December 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Review: Don’t Shoot The Pharmacist! (2009) [Reviewed By Clifford Kiyabu]

Directed by: David Broitman
Written by: David Broitman (Written By)
Genre: Comedy
MPAA: Not Rated
Released: 2009
Starring: Ben Bailey, Edwin Matos.Jr, Godfrey, Steve Byrne, Jayson Simba, Roger Anthony, Erik Davies, Shaun Taylor-Corbett, Myles MacVane, Ardie Fuqua, Emily Sproch.

Plot: A Pharmacist, braves a memorably zany night as he muses about life as a Vegas roulette dealer while encountering a range of odd customers

Review: 7/10

The Story is about: 2008 Emmy Winner Ben Bailey plays Zack Wright, a Pharmacist stuck on a zany graveyard shift in Brooklyn who must do everything in his power to simply survive the night.

My Thoughts: I’ve always wondered, what is the definition of a dream job? For some it’s one with a high pay, while for others it’s one that holds a sense of prestige and entitlement behind it, and for the few, a dream job is simply one that does not require money nor power but requires something that neither money or entitlement can buy. While those enjoy making a lot of money, it’s greatly depressing to force one’s self to get out of bed every morning to do something that gives little enjoyment to the soul, and to do this reputedly over and over each and every day can be greatly tiresome to a point where it can be compared to a slow and painful death. For the few, a dream job is something that makes you want to get out of that forsaken bed every morning, it put’s a voluntary smile on your face everytime you walk through the doors of your work place and fills you up with glee inside. Unfortunately not everyone get’s to feel what that feels like.

Recently I had the pleasure of reviewing the film; Don’t shoot the pharmacist! A comedy about Zack Wright (Played by Ben Bailey), a pharmacist who dreams of being a Los Vegas roulette dealer but works miserably day in day out in a small 24Hr New Jersey Pharmacy. The film starts up on Zack’s day off, or what should have been his day off to be exact. After getting a phone call from his work notifying him that his co-worker who’s supposed to cover the nightshift called in sick, Zack is forced to cover for the guy wither he likes it or not. The film take place over the course of one very humorous and eventful evening with Zack encountering a slew of weird characters who hangs out around a pharmacy that’s open 24 hours. From the over priced prostitute who everyone wants a piece of, to the a guy suffering from OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) to the crazy old guy who seems to be just wondering in and out of the place constantly. You know, the regulars! Anyways, the film is a delightful indie comedy that doesn’t hold back on being raunchy and crude and sometimes a little unusual. Like a comedy straight out of the 90’s, Don’t shoot the pharmacist! Carries a certain sense of comedic film Noir that has been mostly absent in most of these modern comedies.

The film plays closely to the theme of a similar film that some should remember from the early 90‘s. Does Kevin Smith’s cult classic comedy “Clerks” ring any belles? Well it certainly should if you are any bit of a fanboy or fangirl because it revolutionized the modern comedy genre in ways we’re still trying to grasp, and the film; Don’t shoot the pharmacist! pays homage to that sense of comedy in more ways than one, rather it was the filmmakers intention to do just that or not is yet to be seen, either way the film hits all it’s comedic punch line on target which is what makes it work so perfectly. But let me get one thing clear: though I’ve said the film plays out very closely in the same sense that clerks does (Which is basically the main characters and the situations their put in) I must stress that it is not a carbine copy and or a rip-off in any way, but rather brings it’s own brand of uniqueness to the table. Does this make it a good film? Yes, is it perfect? No, not by a long shot! The film does have it’s problem don’t get me wrong, but none of which however hurts the film in any real bad way. But to add to that I must point out one problem I had with the film that I feel needs addressing which is in regards to the plot. While the plot’s main focus is supposed to be on Zack’s dream of one day becoming a Los Vegas roulette dealer. We see very little of that presented in the film, to which point you’ll often at times completely forget what was is the main character’s life goal was to begin with, I really wished they’d had included a much deeper in-depth look into the reasons behind his wanting to become a roulette dealer, never the less the film was still an entertaining peace of cinema to experience no less.

As for the acting: what can I say, the acting was quite enjoyable here, it’s certainly nothing Oscar worthy but still something that keeps the viewer entertained. Ben Bailey whom anyone who watches the Discovery Chanel will know right off the bat from the show “Cash Cab” was fantastic in the lead as Zack Wright, he gave the character this unsettling tone of humor that projected quite nicely. Edwin Matos Jr. was very entertaining, he matched Bailey’s unsettling comedic tone with a wise guy sense of humor that made them a perfect onscreen duo. I can’t say I’m much a fan of Godfrey mainly because I’ve seen some of his past performances in other films and just like this one I wasn’t pleased, not to mention his form of comedy tends to be a bit over the top for my liking, however despite my not caring much for his performance in this film I will say it was the most tolerable if that helps in anyway. Jayson Simba and Shaun Taylor-Corbett fairly decent but could have been a little better, Myles MacVane gave probably the most wired yet peculiar performance in the film, because it‘s authentically believable to a point where you‘d believe that this man is actually somewhat disturbed. Ardie Fuqua and Emily Sproch give wonderful performances that complements the film’s tone and works incredibly well with the situations.

Final Say: Don’t shoot the pharmacist! Was an interesting film to see because it doesn’t try to be anything more than it was which is a heck of a comedic trip full of wired. Is the film full of holes? Yes, is it original? Not by a long shot, but what it was is a wonderful piece of cinematic entertainment that is worth checking out. I recommend it!

Copyright 2009 TCWreviews.com
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Brittany Murphy Dead at 32

Shocking news TMZ has just reported that Actress Brittany Murphy has just died on Sunday morning December 20 at 10:04 AM at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. TMZ has claims that according to multiple sources, Murphy went into cardiac arrest and could not be revived. TMZ is also reporting that the Los Angeles City Fire Department confirmed a 911 call was made at 8 a.m. Sunday morning from the home of Simon Monjack, her husband.

And according to the site the LAPD has launched a death investigation. Murphy who came into stardom after co-starring in the 1995 sleeper hit Clueless (1995) and went on to star in other known films such as Don't Say a Word (2001) 8 Mile (2002) Just Married (2003) Sin City (2005) and Happy Feet (2006). Murphy has drifted from the major spotlight recently but was due for a hug comeback before this great tragedy struck. Brittany Murphy Dead at 32.

R.I.P.

November 10, 1977 – December 20, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Boondock Saints 10th Anniversary is Coming!

Wendy Shepherd over at studiomatrix.com has just notified me that the Boondock Saints 10th anniversary celebration is coming up and it’s definitely not going unnoticed especially with the recent publicity from it‘s sequel which was released almost ten years to the day of it‘s original! Read below on what was posted on eventful.com…

Help bring the ORIGINAL FIRST Boondock Saints to the big screen...

Do you want to play a role in bringing the 10th Anniversary
Celebration of the original Boondock Saints to the big screen in movie
theatres nationwide for an exclusive one-night event around St.
Patrick’s Day 2010? If so, demand that it come to the big screen in
your hometown! We’re planning to pull out all of the stops for this
event with special behind-the-scenes footage, an interview with
writer/director Troy Duffy and other special guests and surprises.
It’s up to you to make this event happen! Demand it NOW, post the
widget to your personal pages and encourage your friends to do the
same! The sooner you tell us you want it, the sooner we can start
making it happen.

The Original didn’t get the wide release it deserved nor was it well received by most of the mainstream critics. But over the years is has received a massive cult following that has spawn a sequel and cause some critics to change their opinion on the film from basing to praising! For those of you who don’t know, Boondock Saints followed Fraternal twins Connor and Murphy McManus (Played By Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus) who set out to rid Boston of the evil men operating there while being tracked down by an upbeat FBI agent (Played by Willem Dafoe).

Head on over to eventful.com to demand it in your city if you want to take part in the celebration!

MTV to Make TEEN WOLF Remake!?

Not sure if this is news most people will want to hear, but apparently MTV is planning to remake the 1980’s classic TEEN WOLF! Which I already know many people (Me included) are sick and tired of having to stomach news of remake after remake thrown at them by Hollywood, and that not including the so-called “Re-Imagining” that so many producers like to claim aren’t a remake. Though word about it being remade have circulated the net for years, many (Also including me) thought it wasn’t going to happen due to a mixture of rumors and creative conflict on how’d modernized version would be handled.

But apparently it appears that MTV is finally moving forward with productions with some very interesting news, now hold on just a minute before jumping to any conclusions about the remake coming to a theater near you, reports show that MTV has decided to go a different rout with the remake and instead will be turning the classic teen comedy that once starred Michael J. Fox as the loveable basketball dribbling werewolf into a series! YEP, you read it right, it’s going to be a series, the show is set to star Tyler Posey, Tyler Hoechlin, Crystal Reed and Dylan O'Brien and the story will follow closely to the original movie with one exception being there will be villainous werewolves in the town who our heroic Wolf will do battle with throughout the show. However as it stands right now the project is only set as a pilot and MTV hasn't given it full commitment just yet, and with hopes of the bed publicity they’ve been getting lately with their bad choices in programming we can only hope this show will never see past it’s pilot.

On a side Note: is it just me or wasn't MTV a fantastic past time when the M stood for Music and not Moron?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON IN 2011?

There are so many different types of sub-genres within the horror genre that makes staying up late for a little midnight madness (Oh how I can relate) but the one that truly stands out for me is none other than the classic monster mash genre (Dracula, The Mummy, The Wolf-Man, ect.) most of which have either been remade or re-Imagined as how the many studio execs like to put it.

But it seems yet another famous monster is about to join the ranks of remakes and get his own makeover, Yep you’ve guessed it, it’s none other than the Gill Man from the famous 1954 horror classic Creature from the Black Lagoon! Universal is in talks with Carl Erik Rinsch to re-launch the Gill Man films onto the big screen as soon as 2011 (release date is still a rumer and not finalized), though nothing is set in stone just yet Rinsch has indicated that things are moving forward as planed and we should see things happening very soon. With the new WOLFMAN movie on it’s way to the big screen next year could this be a sign that Universal is serious about re-launching the classic Universal Monsters? As you know The "Universal Monsters Legacy" played a huge part in forming the Universal Pictures we’ve all come to love, though I won't say you should be jumping up and down with glee over the news just yet as there is no reall offical word on productions starting at the moment, it will be interesting to see how this unfolds over time.

Where the original Creature from the Black Lagoon was released in 3D it’s highly likely that the remake will follow suit. More news on this will be reported as we hear it.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

G LOVE Wins Award at Accolade Film Awards!

I know news articles pertaining to everything in the entertainment field haven’t exactly been on par with movie reviews over the year, but I’m hoping to turn that around with the new year on it’s way, and what better why than by starting with this article right? Recently I got word through the grape vine that a certain up and coming director has just been recognized by "The Accolade Film Awards" and was awarded an "Award of Merit" for his new film G Love, which from what I‘ve heard has left quite an impression among certain followings and even received a few nods by the awards committee. If you still haven’t s clue as to who the heck I’m talking about than let it be known that it’s only a matter of time before Director P.B. Floyd and Actor/Producer Seth Donavan make their mark. Read on below for more details.

LOS ANGELES Oct. 29, 2009 --- Youth in their teens and early twenties
get the insider's view of the actions some people will take for love
in Director P.B. Floyd's film, G Love which has won a prestigious Award of Merit from The Accolade Film Awards Competition.

Floyd took time from working on his new teen dance family film, "I
Wanna Dance," to work on "G Love." The short romantic comedy, starring
Seth Donavan as Steven Dork, presents the idea that there is love for everybody, if they can just be themselves.

Since winning the award, Floyd is making plans to produce "G Love"
into a feature-length film to share more of the humor and imagination
Donavan's Dork character brings to a wide-theatrical release.

"With the comedic talent of Jim Carrey, and the looks of a young Tom
Hanks, Seth Donavan is making his mark to ensure his spot at the top
of the motion picture industry,"
Floyd said.

"Seth really stood out as Steven Dork," Floyd said. "His quirky
reactions and cool responses made this movie more intense. He did a
great job of feeding off the other actors' energy to help deliver the
story with a lot of finesse."


"The entire production team, including editor Devon V. Collins and
sound designer Mike Snugg, created an exceptional product,"
said
Donavan, who also produced the film. "This extraordinary team was able
to put together a final product that surprised even us with its polish
and sparkle. By the ending of the script's deliverance, I recognized
that this could be something special."


The Accolade Competition recognizes film, television and videography
professionals who demonstrate exceptional achievement in craft and
creativity, and those who produce standout entertainment or contribute
to profound social change. Entries are judged by professionals in the
film and television industry. Information about The Accolade and a
list of recent winners can be found at TheAccolade.net

"The goal of The Accolade is to help winners achieve the recognition
they so deserve, but it is not an easy award to win,"
said Thomas
Baker, Ph.D., who chairs The Accolade Competition. "Entries are
received from around the world, so this award helps set the standard
for craft and creativity. The judges were pleased with the
exceptionally high quality of entries for this particular
competition."


In winning an Accolade, "G Love" joins the ranks of other high-profile
winners of this internationally respected award.

For more information about the film "G Love" or it’s cast head on over to studiomatrix.com and contact Wendy Shepherd and/or visit the official "G Love" Website at glovemovie.com

Review: Carter (2009) [Reviewed By Clifford Kiyabu]

Directed by: Ryan Andrew Balas
Written by: Ryan Andrew Balas (writer) & Richard Buonagurio (co-writer) & Deirdre Herlihy (co-writer) & Julia Porter Howe (co-writer) & Mark Robert Ryan (co-writer)
Genre: Drama
MPAA: Not Rated
Released: 24 November 2009 (USA)
Starring: Julia Porter Howe, Mark Robert Ryan, Deirdre Herlihy, Ryan Andrew Balas, Joe Berardi, Richard Buonagurio.

Plot: After vowing he’d kill himself at the age of 25 if he was not married by 23. Jebadiah Sminch is in love with Carter the only woman who completes him; however he is only three days away from his 25th birthday and still unmarried. Will Jebadiah stick to vow or not?

Review: 6/10

The Story is about: When Jebadiah was 17 he vowed to kill himself when he turned 25 if he wasn't married by the time he was 23. This film takes place three days before his 25th birthday. Jeb is in love with Carter, but unmarried. Now he must make the hardest decision of his life; be with the woman he loves or carry forward with his pact.

My Thoughts: While young at heart, most people are so egger to grow up that they allow their childhood to past them by. How sad it is to see people, who spent so much time trying to grow up that they never enjoyed their childhood to the fullest. Such regrets live on with most individuals for years to come.

Have you ever made a pact? Sure you have, we’ve all made a pact of some sort in our lives, may it be a pact to lost some of that belly fat we gained over the holidays, or one at the beginning of the new year to change something about your lifestyle. Pacts are more common than most would think. But what if someone were to make a pact with themselves that would ultimately result in their own demise? That’s where the film Carter comes into play. The film is widely scaled with the overall premise of wanting to re-live that spark of the past, and feeling the awful regret of losing the dream. The film Carter centralizes itself around Jebadiah Sminch (Played by Mark Robert Ryan) a man who made a pact with himself as a teenager that if he didn’t get married by the age of 23 he was going to kill himself on his 25 birthday, the only problem is he has found someone who makes him happy. So now he’s torn between either following through with the pact or stick with the good thing he’s got going with the woman he loves. Now I know what you’re thinking; if the main character the film is surrounded around is called “Jebadiah” than where the heck did the title name “Carter” come from? Well that’s a simple question to answer, because Carter (Played by Julia Porter Howe) is the name of Jebadiah’s girlfriend who loves him so much that it’s killing her deep down inside knowing that though he loves her, he’s too honor bound to his own pact that he’s willing to throw away the love they have just so he can remain true to himself. The question is though, what will he decide in the end, will it be a happen ending or a bitter sweet one?

What can I say? For a lack of better words, the film is a bit of a mixed bag for me. Though I liked some of the aspects the film presented, there were a lot of problems there as well. As a pro, the film presented this fantastic opening which introduced the female lead in a silent, yet forth telling scene where though she had no verbal lines, her overall body language communicated her intentions very well. The relationship between the two main characters on screen works well at times but also hurts the storyline too; their unconditional love on screen definitely does not go unnoticed. However, while their unconditional love proves to be atmospheric at times and gives the viewers a sense of realism, it lacks intimacy on a grand scale. I waited and waited for something intimate to happen between the two of them to convince me that they were believably in love, but upon waiting for this to happen throughout the film’s course I was left unsold on the idea and instead keep getting the overwhelming “just friends” vibe from them. Even as I watched them kiss each other on screen it felt, in my opinion, forced. The other problem I had often at times was the dialogue. Nothing personal against the dialogue in the film, but the way it’s projected on screen comes off rather weak at times. I really wanted to enjoy this film as much as I did the last two installments in the One Way or Another Productions “Naked Series”, and to some extent I did enjoy a part of it. But in my opinion the film just didn’t quite live up to the hype I felt from the previous films.

As for the acting: Julia Porter Howe was great, I loved her take on the opening very much. The opening scene with her was fantastic because she managed to express so much in her emotions and body language without so much as saying a single word, which is a great talent to have believe it or not. However, there were moments throughout the film where her performance in general was how should I say, rocky? It’s not that her performance was bad after the beginning of the, it‘s just that there were times where I felt that her potential was being held back for some reason. Mark Robert Ryan was not that impressive to me, in fact I had the hardest time following his performance in the film due to the mustache. Yep you read right, that mustache of his was just one big distraction for me. So much that I had to re-watch a few scenes over just to focus better [Laughs] but it’s because of this that I honestly could not find the compassion in me to feel for his character in his most darkest hour. Deirdre Herlihy was pretty okay, her performance was slightly better in this than when I last caught a glimpse of her acting style in the film “Uptown” earlier this year. Perhaps this means she’s making great improvements? Either way she stands to be adequate in this. Aside from directing this film Ryan Andrew Balas does a pretty decent job in his performance, though I will admit that I have yet to see any of his other works to really place a true judgment.

Final Say: Carter was a very interesting concept of a film. Something you don’t see too often in movies now days. However the concept of the film may have intrigued me, I still had a hard time following this film close to heart. I really wanted to like this film, I really did because the overall concept is very alluring and yet, the film is not. If only it had a few changes done to it perhaps this film could have lived up to the promise it presented.

Copyright 2009 TCWreviews.com
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Review: Ex Occultus: Badge of Langavat (one-shot)

Written by: Robert James Russell & Jesse Young
Art Work: Sandra Lanz
Colors: Tim McDonley
Publisher: Saint James Comics
Released: Jul 21, 2009

Plot: 1864, Scotland - Francis Wakefield and fellow occult hunter Fergus Duff find themselves investigating the disappearance of children from nearby villages. Their hunt leads them to a forgotten castle belonging to a family of undead, cursed werewolves who have nefarious plans for the taken.

Review: B+

My Thoughts: It’s a well known fact that I’m a hug fan of the graphic arts (Sophisticated Slang for Comic Book Nerd!) and have been one for as long as I could remember . Like most readers I indulged into the many timeless classic adventures of the many popular superhero titles like: SPIDER-MAN, BATMAN, CAPTAIN AMERICA, THORE, and the beloved Uncanny X-MEN and so forth on a weekly bases. Many of which have become the typical starter guide for any reader willing to dive into the comic realm, and in some cases these simple titles are considered by some as the holy bible of comics. But over the last few years I have come to love the not so well known, a genre of comics that’s set for a more mature reading audience like: THE BOYS, FABLES, and THE WALKING DEAD, titles like these are not for young readers and should never ever be recommended for such.

This turn in taste of genre has also given me the aired taste for the indie side of comics, which evidently lead me to Ex Occultus: The Badge of Langavat, which is written by Robert James Russell & Jesse Young of Saint James Comics and art work by Sandra Lanz. This comic is on it’s own level of dark storytelling that proves to be breathtaking and very entertaining in it‘s own unique way to say the least. The plot is based on a real legend from Scotland and follows two Victorian era investigators, Fergus Duff and Francis Wakefield traveling to the Island of Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides to find out if the legendary werewolves are responsible for the kidnapping of children in the local area. As the story goes on the pair finds the werewolves’ hideout, hoping to have the upper hand over them by catching them off their guard Fergus and Wakefield is quickly mistaken and falls into a trap which immediately thrown into the fight head on against an entire clan of blood thirsty werewolves looking to both Fergus and Wakefield as their next meal. armed to the teeth with pistils filed with silver bullets, a pair of silver chainmail and the usage of a couple of fairy-like creatures. Have the werewolves finally met their match, or could this easily become the last adventure that both Fergus and Wakefield will have?

I at first didn’t hold much stock in the comic, mainly because the story is told as a one shot issue, and usually one shots mostly work only after the readers have learned a little bit about the characters in question (I mean you wouldn’t dive into a Fantastic Four one shot issue without having some basic knowledge of Victor Von Doom’s hatred for Reed Richards right?) most tales like this are usually set in a mini series event with the story unfolding over the course of multiple issues so that the individual characters are given room for development so that there‘s a more three dimensional sense to them, with that said I was a little worried at first that the story would be cut short due to it’s length, however this was not the case as the story was fairly decent which clearly shows that Robert James Russell & Jesse Young did their home work which I commend them for, for bringing their own original uniqueness, and for deciding to write about one of the less popular folklores.

Upon doing my own little research on such before writing this review I barely could find any literature at my disposal online except for a few mentions here and there, meaning some heavy research was done on their part while trading nether action over story and viscera. Though I will say that the story doesn’t go without problems, the biggest problem I had laid with the development of the main character’s Fergus and Wakefield, because the story is 100% devoted to the comic’s plot there simply isn’t much background for the readers to appreciate the main characters, which I blame on the length of the comic, but to an extent this is in fact forgivable on the motion that it‘s better to have one problem with any story than to have two or three problems, am I right or what? The art work which is done by Sandra Lanz was pretty decent from where I‘m standing. The lovely blend of gray-tones in black and white which gives it this noir setting that works beautifully. Though there are some rough edges to some of her art work, but all that can easily be forgiven and forgotten when you stand back for a moment and see that her art work really does paint this story into a visual reality that is satisfactory.

Final Say: Ex Occultus: The Badge of Langavat is defiantly something worth checking out even if you’re not all that into comics, and though it has it‘s rough edges here and there, there’s a lot of promise here and room for improvement in the near future that shows this is a comic that’s here to stay.

Copyright 2009 TCWreviews.com
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Review: 2012 (2009) [Reviewed By Clifford Kiyabu]

Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Written by: Roland Emmerich (written by) & Harald Kloser (written by)
Genre: Action / Drama / Sci-Fi
MPAA: Rated PG-13 for intense disaster sequences and some language.
Released: 13 November 2009 (USA)
Starring: John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Amanda Peet, Oliver Platt, Thandie Newton, Danny Glover and Woody Harrelson

Plot: An epic adventure about a global cataclysm that brings an end to the world and tells of the heroic struggle of the survivors.

Review: 5/10

The Story is about: Centuries ago, the Mayans left us their calendar, with a clear end date and all that it implies. By 2012, we'll know -- we were warned. Never before has a date in history been so significant to so many cultures, so many religions, scientists, and governments. A global cataclysm brings an end to the world and tells of the heroic struggle of the survivors.

My Thoughts: Why are people so infatuated with the idea of the end of the world? Better yet, why are people always contemplating if the end may or may not be in their lifetime? Perhaps it’s because people want the answers to what cannot be so easily answered, or perhaps the majority in this world (even if they won‘t admit it) is as wickedly cynical as I (yes folks I too wonder when the end will be!) It does however baffles me sometimes when I hear people bring up the conversation of whether or not they’d be alive to see the world come to an end. I have no problem with talking about such, as it does in fact amuse me quite a bit and arouses my imagination with the infinite possibilities of how the dramatic end will be like, and if man will go out loudly with a bang or silently drift off into the quiet slumber of history, but what interests me is that the majority of people in the world would prefer not knowing when exactly they’d meet their maker (provided they have a spiritual based faith) compared to the small minority of people out there who would most certainly want to know when their own time was approaching, yet this same majority of people who prefer to live life impaired from the knowledge of how many years they have left is in usually the most curious of the bunch as to wanting to know when all life as we know it was coming to it’s end. *cough, cough!* Hypocrisy! *cough, cough!*

Seriously though, I don’t know how or when the end will happen, I just know that history has shown everything has both a beginning and an end, and though the discussion over our beginning has been debated upon for as long as man was able to count the number of fingers and toes on his hands and feet, it’s only a matter of time before our species bears witnesses to it’s inevitable end, and I, however, believe that when humanity’s chapter comes to a close life will go on without us and the world will continue to spin around the sun without us on it’s back.

Director Roland Emmerich, the man behind such notable big-budget popcorn flicks such as: 10,000 BC (2008), The Day After Tomorrow (2004), Godzilla (1998) and Independence Day (1996), brings us his latest film, 2012 (2009). A disaster flick to end all disaster flicks, and at the same time, becomes it’s own disaster! The film’s plot is loosely structured around the premise of the end of the 13th baktun cycle of the ancient Mesoamerican (Mayan) long count calendar, the film explores the idea of “What if” the Mayans and other past civilizations really did foresee this day coming thousands of years ahead of their time. The film is without a doubt an orgasmic spectacle for these viewing eyes, with gorgeous cinematography and pulse pounding adrenaline fueled scenes being thrown at you almost nonstop leaving you almost breathless, one would normally argue that this modern-day Noah’s ark tale would no doubt be the blockbuster popcorn film of the year. However I cannot stress enough how much this fails on a grand scale. For one thing it’s logic should not be taken to heart, because the illogical conclusions this film runs on not only undermines the original Mayan prophecy, but also blast’s viewers with false incoherent and somewhat laughable scare tactics of how the world will come to an end on 2012! and how there is little next to nothing we can do to prevent it, if you ask me it reminds me a heck of a lot like the Y2K incident (Speak up folks, who here overstocked their homes with useless survival supplies for that humiliating event?) when you take into account all the mindless action and needless awkward comedic moments thrown around in 2012, you can’t help but feel that Michael Bay’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) was a masterpiece plot-wise compared to this, and believe me that’s saying a lot coming from me.

But to be fair, 2012 does have it’s fair share of redeeming moment, I’ll give it that much, the film manages to capture it’s audiences at quite a few tear-jerking points that will no doubt have you overwhelmed with emotions. One of these emotional wrecking scenes in particular revolved around the characters Harry Helmsley (Mankuma) and Tony Delgatto (Segal), these two men are your typical odd couple-like characters who are enjoying their twilight years lounging aboard a cruise liner as jazz performers, keep in mind that their storyline plays no significant role to the film’s overall plot, but rather a side story that is only a fraction of what’s going on in the film, however their screen time manages to manipulate the audiences into feeling a great deal of empathy for them from the get-go, meanly because it shows that their chance of survival in the film is next to zero, leaving them S.O.L. and J.W.F. (S*** Out of Luck and Jolly-Well F*****). To make matters worst, their only connection in the film is that Harry is the father of American geologist Adrian Helmsmen (Ejiofor). Other than that I felt no sympathy for the majority of the characters that bite the big one, meanly because it’s hard to feel anything for them when they are so poorly developed as two dimensional characters. To be honest, what I found most disappointing with 2012 is the fact I (FYI, not socking one bit, but I was not the only one in the theater reacting to the film like this) ended up finding myself rolling my eyes with despair at every sad attempt at humor and chuckling my butt off at the more serous of moments in the film.

As for the acting: Well what can I say, despite the slew of A-Listers, acting isn’t this film’s strong point, in fact it often plays out as it’s weakest. John Cusack has always been a favorite of mine, and often at times I’ve been a bit bias towards his films, and yet his presence couldn’t even win me over in this than alone save the film. However he does mange to pull off a somewhat okay performance, however don’t hold your breath because it’s defiantly not him at his best. Generally I like Amanda Peet because she’s a fairly talented actress that can make you easily laugh or cry and no matter what role she’s in she always has that gentle sweetheart look on her face that easily wins people over, and it saddens me to see that the chemistry between her and Cusack was greatly absent in this film, which is even more so disappointing because Peet and Cusack have don very well together in the chemistry department in past films like: Identity (2003) and Martian Child (2007) just to name a few, but it seems that this was not the case with 2012. Chiwetel Ejiofor was fantastic in his performance despite my displease with the acting in general, though I will say I felt the romantic courting that was being set up between Ejiofor and Thandie Newton characters in the film was not only rushed, but did not at all feel the slightest bit believable.

Oliver Platt was not so bad, though at times I did feel a bit disappointed in his performance because here‘s an actor that normally co-stars in films that are somewhat decent, and even though he at times star in films that are just down right embarrassing to watch (can somebody please explain to me why the film “Year One”? (2009)) than alone acting in it, he still manages to pull his charm into what ever role he‘s in, however this was not the case with 2012 as I found his classy charm was gravely absent. Woody Harrelson is well known for playing controversial roles in past which for better or worse I’ve always found very amusing to see, his role in 2012 is yet another one of those head turning roles yet, which doesn’t cease to amaze me, because it seems the man love to be “that” guy in every film I see him in, is his performance good? Well that debatable, if you were to ask me it seemed like he was just being himself in the film [Insert pun here]. Last but certainly not least, actor Danny Glover, the man who graced the big-screen with his signature phrase “I'm too old for this shit!” was the biggest of all disappointment, why? Because he gave such a dull performance in the role of President Thomas Wilson that he left me unsold, and believe me, being a hug fan of his work over the years I was very disappointed. George Segal and Blu Mankuma were among the few in this film who I enjoyed performance-wise. I could go on and on about the rest of the cast but I won’t dare bore everyone who reads this to death.

Final Say: Despite my feelings toward this film not having much a chance of being a major critical success among film critics like myself long before it’s realest, I took the high road and withheld my Judgement and went into the film with hope and optimism, I hate to play devil's advocate here, but sadly I told you so, the film was just as much as it was expected of itself, a mindless disaster film that’s only purpose is to serve one’s fears and nothing else and believe me it more often than it should it fails at that too! If one is still curious to see this disaster of a film than I recommend you do the courteous thing and check your brain at the door first. Watch at your own risk!

Copyright 2009 TCWreviews.com
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Review: Law Abiding Citizen (2009) [Reviewed By Clifford Kiyabu]

Directed by: F. Gary Gray
Written by: Kurt Wimmer (written by)
Genre: Crime / Drama / Thriller
MPAA: Rated R for strong bloody brutal violence and torture, a scene of rape, and pervasive language.
Released: 16 October 2009
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Gerard Butler, Colm Meaney, Bruce McGill, Leslie Bibb, Michael Irby, Gregory Itzin, Regina Hall, Emerald-Angel Young, Christian Stolte, Annie Corley, Richard Portnow, Viola Davis, Michael Kelly, Josh Stewart, Brooke Stacy Mills, Ksenia Hulayev.

Plot: A frustrated man decides to take justice into his own hands after a plea bargain sets one of his family's killers free. He targets not only the killer but also the district attorney and others involved in the deal.

Review: 8/10

The Story is about: Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler) a brilliant inventor orchestrates a series of high-profile murders that grip the city of Philadelphia - all from inside his jail cell. The prosecutor assigned to his case Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx) realizes he is the only one who can end the reign of terror.

My Thoughts: There’s a saying in show business; “it's not what you know, it's who you know!” which sadly is at times the inconvenient truth that is the business. Is it fair? No, but what are you going to do about it, business is business right? Well how about a different saying that is used in the legal system but with the same meaning behind it that is a frightening one to hear “It’s not what you know, it what you can prove in court.” This is a very sobering thing to hear, because the thought that an innocent person may take the rap for something they were not really at fault while the guilty party walks free is something no one in this great country wants to hear. But just like the industry, business is business and what are you going to do about it?

As depressing as that may sound to some I sat down to watch a film in which someone actually does something about this easily corruptible legal system. From director F. Gary Gray (director of The Italian Job (2003) and The Negotiator (1998)) and Writer/Producer Kurt Wimmer (Writer of Street Kings (2008) and Equilibrium (2002)) comes Law Abiding Citizen, a film that dives deep into more than your average revenge flick, but proves to be a rollercoaster ride into the mind of psychological mastermind that packs more punches than a bare brawl! Clyde Shelton (Played by Gerard Butler) was a mild mannered husband and loving father who had it all, but on one unfortunate night everything he ever loved was taken from him in a moment of despicable violence. After surviving a horrific home invasion which brought him close to death and witnessing his wife and daughter raped and murdered in front of him, all he desired was to see these men tried for the crimes they committed, and even though they may be a chance they could walk free due to a lack of evidence he would still be happy knowing they got put through the system accordingly. However when you’ve got a power-hungry attorney who is more out for his own personal gain by trying to maintain a high conviction rate. The odds of getting what you want are most likely not going to be in the cards. After one of the men who killed his family walks free from the death penalty, Shelton feels he’s been wronged by the system that was built to bring justice to those who seek it, and now seeks to avenge his family by killing the one who got away, as well as all those in the legal system who allowed it to happen. What I most liked about the film is the fact it blurs the lines between good and evil and straight-out anarchy. It’s unforgiving and never lets up for a single moment.

Though Gerard Butler’s character, Clyde Shelton, is seen as the film’s antagonist while Jamie Foxx’s character, Nick Rice, is considerably seen as the protagonist of the story, anyone with a single bit of a conscience can see that its complete nonsense to chose a side in this film, nor can you truly categorize either of them as such. Though Nick Rice is considered the “good guy,” his actions in the beginning of the film as well as throughout can be deemed as questionable due to the fact he’d rather take a small win and let one of the criminals walk free than nothing at all, which serves his hunger for power and personal gain within the system. But as the film goes you begin to feel remorse for him as he witnesses his friends and colleagues start dying one by one. Shelton, a man who is considered the villain of the story can’t really be seen as a full fledged “Bad guy” because you feel a great deal for him after he loses his family, and thus you sympathize for him. Overall the film’s two main characters can be seen more as couple of unfortunate people who was thrown into a predicament that neither really deserved. Does the film have problems? Sure it does. One of the main problems I had dealt mostly with the editing with the film. The scene in which Shelton is escorted outside the prison to have a privet conversation with Rice was great scene, but a poorly edited one at that, in the beginning of the scene we see Shelton getting roughed up by Rice, and he’s got blood coming out of his mouth and on his face. However in the very next moment he doesn’t have a single drop of blood on him at all. This was very frustrating for me, and I wished they’d have never edited it that why. Aside from that I didn’t have any real problems with the film.

As for the acting: Gerard Butler was fantastic, he’s manage to prove his worth as an actor time and time again with films like “RocknRolla,” Nim's Island,” “P.S. I Love You” and “300”. His performance is nothing sort of brilliance! And he continues to show this in Law Abiding Citizen. Jamie Foxx is an actor that has gained great respect from me over the years. It wasn’t long ago I used to see him as a C-List comedian and a hack in the acting department. However that has seriously change for me over the years, after watching him give stellar performances one after another in films like “Collateral,” “Ray,” “Jarhead,” “Dreamgirls,” “The Kingdom” and “The Soloist”. It’s intriguing to think it wasn’t long ago he was such a terrible actor, and now today it’s very much the opposite. I was never a Regina Hall fan, mainly because I didn’t care for her lackluster performance in the “Scary Movie” films, as well as her inability to be humorous in them. However I got my chance to see her act in a serious role for a change. And believe me when I say: not only was it great, but it was the first time I saw her put hard effort into her performance. Emerald-Angel Young did a pretty decent and adequate job in her performance. Acting alongside Foxx and Hall as their daughter in the film worked fantastically. Christian Stolte and Josh Stewart did a fine job in their brief roles as the film’s real villains. From the get-go the viewers are put in a situation of wanting to just hate these two in the most unforgiving manner, that when their grizzly demise comes to pass you’ll be cheering it on. Stolte and Stewart were outstanding. Other notable mentions in the film go to Colm Meaney, Bruce McGill and Leslie Bibb who are magnificent in this.

Final Say: Law Abiding Citizen was a fantastic film from start to finish. Though the film has its faults, and mild plot holes, you can’t help but appreciate this film’s fine quality for being blunt and unforgiving. I highly recommend!

Copyright 2009 TCWreviews.com
All Rights Reserved

Review: Zorg and Andy (2009) [Reviewed By Clifford Kiyabu]

Directed by: Guy Davis
Written by: V.Z. Montengo (Screenplay)
Genre: Comedy / Horror
MPAA: Not Rated
Released: 2009 (USA)
Starring: Scott Ganyo, Kate Rudd , Jennifer Wilkens, Sally Weatherston, Trevor Fanning, Ben Ayres, Nick Kraynak.

Plot: Andy (Ganyo) an undergraduate who’ll must recover an idol that was stolen from him after it was placed with him to be cleaned, he’ll go up against a mysterious woman killing anyone and everyone who knows about the idol, a cult that wants it for themselves, and if that wasn't enough already, trying to win the girl. Can Andy pull it all off?

Review: 5/10

The Story is about: Perpetual undergraduate Andy has one last chance to keep his financial aid: a work-study job at the mysterious Kungsbaden Museum. After a beautiful stranger steals an ancient fertility idol in his care, Andy sets out into the night to recover it. In the process, he discovers that his idyllic campus is home to a network of bloodthirsty pagan cults, all of whom are fighting over the idol.

My thoughts: Today’s modern moviegoer will spend their time looking for the next best thing in film. The ever so Oscar worthy film or the next big popcorn flick to see, because anything less is just icing on the cake. This of course is where I stand at odds with my own generation, because they don’t know how to appreciate the fine quality of a classy B-Movie. Then again most of the modern movie going community didn’t spend their nights staying up into the wee early morning hour watching marathons of cheesy B-films like I did growing up. Which of course is why you could say that it’s because of this that I’ve learned to see pass the simple qualities of visual filmmaking that is only skin deep.

Zorg and Andy is a film that purposely sets itself up as a B-style movie. Because it’s not trying to be the next big hit, but rather a cheap check your brain at the door thrill! This is a form of moviemaking that is at times forgotten and unappreciated. The film follows Andy, a perpetual undergraduate who screws up time and time again and never seems to get a break. And when he’s down to just one last chance to keep his financial aid he gets a job working for the Kungsbaden Museum where his first assignment is to clean and prepare a small idol that just arrived, however little is known of the idol, other than the fact a mysterious woman is killing anyone and everyone who comes in contact with it, and to make matters worst an on campus cult has stolen it. Now it’s up to Andy to recover the idol and uncover the secrets behind it. As cheesy as it may sound, it’s actually kind of entertaining for those looking to checkout a film that doesn’t require much out of you but a set of eyes and an hour of your time.

Where I appreciated the film for its cheesiness, it does however have a lot of problems that I had with it. The big problem I had with the film was that, though the film’s premise is to be as much a B-movie as it can be, it overdoes itself at times with over the top jokes that instead of being delivered in a humorous manner instead hits the viewing audience as being rushed and amateurish which serves more as a weakness to the film rather than keeping with the theme of the genre. But the biggest weak point stands to be the film’s runtime, which is only 62 minutes from start to finish. Though I have fairly enjoyed short films in recent history, Zorg and Andy’s Achilles’ heel seems to be the fact it lacks character development. Because the film does not allow the character’s to be more three dimensional we are left unable to have any compassion or will for these characters. Though I will admit that despite me being displeased with the film in general I will say that the film does have its moments of enjoyment. Sadly though, these moments of enjoyment never expand into becoming anything more than just moments. And because of this, no matter how much I tried, it simply was not my cup of tea.

As for the acting: Well what can I say, the acting was very problematic for me. First there is Scott Ganyo, who I could not get into liking his character, nor could I find an ounce of myself to enjoy his performance. Kate Rudd was probably one of the only performances I fairly enjoyed, though there are times in the film where I felt she could have done much better. Jennifer Wilkens was okay, except for the part where her character annoyed the heck out of me. If it was meant to be like that than she did a good job, otherwise I was not enjoying her on-screen time. I was not at all thrilled with Sally Weatherston performance, mainly because she didn’t sale me on the character’s attitude all that much. Last but certainly not least there’s Nick Kraynak, who plays “The Pig” was probably the most interesting thing about the film, because the actors spend the whole course of the film with a pig’s mask on. Sadly though as much as I thought it was fascinating I found it rather weak on the fact there is no explanation as to why this person where’s the mask or a punch line to it assuming it was meant to be a joke that is.

Final Say: Zorg and Andy was an interesting film with a lot of promise to become a cult hit but ends up missing it’s target half the time due to it’s failed attempts at trying to be funny. Nothing personal against the film or filmmaker, but a comedy not being humorous is in my opinion, a deal breaker.

Copyright 2009 TCWreviews.com
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

American Sunset (2009) AKA The return of Cory Haim!!!


Whenever I hear the name Cory Haim mentioned the first thing I have is a blast from the past of memories filed with vampires, Werewolves, and dare I say it... Rollerboys!. sure I may not have been old enough to remember much of the 1980’s era (Except for Prayer of the Roller boys (1990)) but I certainly grow up indulging in a nice daily regiment of it’s era’s finest Cult classics. Most notable of the Cult Classics include film’s such as “Silver Bullet” and “The Lost Boys” and let’s not forget his long term partnership with buddy Cory Feldman whom have worked together in a slew of film dubbing them the title known by their loyal fans as “The Two Coreys.” over the years both Feldman and Haim have seen the unfortunate decline in their status among the Hollywood A-list community, but between the two Haim seems to have gotten the worst of it over the course of this new millennium both professionally and personally. However to show the way of success, fallen from grace actors like Mickey Rourke has exemplified themselves as living proof that you can’t keep a good man down, and sooner or later they will make a comeback!

That’s where the independent film American Sunset (2009) come into play. Cory Haim plays Tom Marlow, a man who gets a phone call from mysterious voice saying that his wife has been kidnapped and if he ever wants to see her again alive he must play a deadly game of cat and mouse while trying to race against time as he only has 24 hours before his wives is never heard from again.

While some may think that the outline of the plot has already been said and done time and time again, the film’s advertisement shows much promise and may still hold a few surprises for moviegoers. Cory Haim is said to have given it his all in his yet most current starring role in American Sunset. And the film could quite possibly be Haim’s long awaited comeback film. Only time will tell however. As of right now if you’re in California tonight (November 9th) be sure to drop by Laemmle theater, 2nd street, Santa Monica around 6:30 pm for the Red Carpet event premiere. Corey Haim will be there in person greeting fans, First 100 get in. Meet Corey and receive a ticket to the after party. More info on the film and it’s premier can be found on it’s official website americansunsetthemovie.com

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Exclusive Interview with Director Ryan Andrew Balas

TCWreviews’s Administrator and Editor in chief Clifford Kiyabu sits down with Cater director Ryan Andrew Balas for an exclusive interview. Ryan Andrew Balas is a Director, a Writer, and an Actor. He did this interview with me recently to talk about his new film ‘CARTER’ which will make it’s d├ębut later this month, as well as a little about himself and what is the driving force behind his style of filmmaking. But what makes him such a worthy person to have a sit down with yours truly is the fact he is a person with a impressively strong will who will not stop until his daydreams become a reality for all to see. Such ideals are that of a genus in the making.

CK: First off let me thank you for making time to do this interview, you must be very busy with the premier of CARTER just around the corner.

RB: No problem at all, totally my pleasure. Thanks for taking the time to ask these questions, it's very appreciated. I'm busy promoting the screening for sure, and putting the final touches on my directors cut of the film. I also stay fairly preoccupied day dreaming about the other projects I’m working on. I'm a hyperactive guy.

CK: So before we get into talking about the film I think it would be great if my readers got to know a little bit about the man behind the camera first.

RB: The man behind the goofy glasses!

CK: So sell us a little about yourself

RB: I'm a Midwestern transplant. Born in Indiana and spent my teenage years in Michigan. I moved to NYC in 2004, to study acting, I did the first year with the Upper West side as my campus. In 2005, I hopped over to the west coast and completed my conservatory training in Los Angeles in 2006 and shortly thereafter, moved back to NYC. I've been happily living in Queens, with my girlfriend, two dwarf rabbits and two cats, ever since. I tend to get the most work done when I stay up all night, so I get very little sleep. I'm a huge day dreamer and try to go for a good brain storm walk, every day.

CK: So you’re a fellow nighthawk I take it? [Laughs]

RB: Yes. It's the best time to work! My poor girlfriend falls asleep to typing noises and a computer light, every night.

CK: Care to give a shout out to your lady friend?

RB: Of course. I love Deirdre Herlihy. She's a talented, beautiful young lady from New Hampshire. We met in school in NYC, moved to LA together, and back to NYC together. I think she deserves a development and producer credit on everything I work on, because she has to constantly hear all the idea's through fruition. Needless to say, she's a great listener and I love her honest feedback. I don't think I trust anyone as much as I trust her.

CK: So is your girlfriend in acting or filmmaking too?

RB: Yes, She's an actress. We met working together in class. She's been very busy this year, working on multiple films by various directors, Brian Ackley and Richard Buonagurio, to name a few. She has a natural ability to be in the moment and act accordingly---I have a longer way to go. I think she's going to do great out there, because she has a kind heart and no ego---and that kind of personality goes a long way. To date, she's acted in all my films and I'm very lucky to have that. Eventually, I'd love to see her behind the camera on something; she has a really keen eye for photography. I'm not sure if that's something she will ever really want to go after but we shall see.

CK: What inspired you into wanting to become a filmmaker?

RB: Home movies. There is footage taken on an old VHS home movie camera, of my dad filming a family party and I’m just following him around asking to use it. For as long as I can remember, I've been in love with filming human interaction.

CK: So basically what you’re saying is that you were born with a strong will for filmmaking?

RB: Yes, I was born with the curse of neurosis and desire to be broke! [Laughs] There is something inherent to me about wanting to tell a story and movies feel most natural.

CK: This may sound a bit unorthodox to the interview, but when you talk about an old medium such as the “VHS” doesn’t that make you feel a bit old? [Laughs]

RB: VHS is making a comeback. Mark my words! It's a beautiful format, with subtle nostalgic elements associated with its picture and sound and despite how it might "age" me, I can't deny that feeling. [Laughs]

CK: Were there any particular films or T.V. Shows you watched growing up?

RB: I'm terrified of dark water---but JAWS is one of my favorite films and easily my earliest memory of a movie. I think the film that motivated me the most creatively was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Such Humanity! ha. I spent hour’s day dreaming of being a crime fighting ninja---I’m actually very surprised that there isn't more TMNT influence in my work. My earliest home movies were ninja films. My brother's and I would dress up in my mom’s dark spandex and swing around from tree's. As for T.V., Zach Morris was (and continues to be) my hero...I love Saved by the Bell.

CK: Was getting into “the business” always in your cards or did it come along later on in life?

RB: Ya know, honestly, "the business" aspect of this whole thing is just a stone on the path. For me, making films is as equal and important to hunting, gathering and building a shelter. It's just what I do in this life; I really just don't see another way. The business part of it, is just as much about getting bread on the table as it is about enjoying the meal. Does that make any sense at all? Here I go again, creating strange new ways to phrase my feelings. ha.

CK: Actually that makes a lot of sense. As for creating new phrase to extend your personal feelings, I’ll let you in on a little secrete; I do it too! But shh! Don’t tell any of my readers okay? [Laughs]

RB: You have my word. Not a soul.

CK: So where do you see yourself in the future of filmmaking, do you plane on sticking to Indies or would you like to move up to a more mainstream level?

RB: I want to continue making personal films that say something about my experiences. However, there are many roads up the mountain, but I think ultimately we are all headed to the same place. Wow, there I go again. sorry folks.

CK: You’re both an aspiring actor and filmmaker, and I’m pretty sure over time you’ll make your mark in the industry. But if you had to choose between the two careers’ which of the two do you prefer most?

RB: Filmmaking. Hands down. Acting to me, is simply a part of that process.

CK: So as a filmmaker and an actor do you have any set boundaries genre wise or are you willing to explore all the film genres?

RB: I only do Sci-Fi skin flicks!...ha. Just kidding. Sort of. My new movie is kind of sexy and kind of Sci-Fi. So maybe I’m headed in that direction. I don't really see my work as being "genre" based. I just want to make personal movies. Not necessarily films that are solely from my own experience but a personal view of someone else's experience as I encounter it. Sometimes those stories will fit into the context of "genre" and so I strive to serve the needs of that experience.

CK: So you’re willing to try anything at least once than genre-wise?

RB: I'm open to any form of storytelling that feels honest and that I can connect with on a personal level---if that's commercial comedy like my web series "The Really Cool Show" (www.thereallycoolshow.com) or a meditation art film like "Carter", then that's the path I will take.

CK: I understand that aside from directing and acting in the film CARTER, you also wrote it?

RB: To an extent, yes. I conceived the overall concept, and I wrote the one act stage play that the film is inspired by. But the film had no official script. We shot based on a minimal outline, breaking down possible thematic elements of scenes that would take place in specific locations. We shot one scene using the dialogue and scenario from the one act play---but it was the first thing to hit the cutting room floor.

CK: Interesting, so basically parts of the story were developed as filming was going on than?

RB: Absolutely. I always try to be open to that. I make very low budget films, independent of a structure that can provide little more than encouragement, man power and most importantly, creative collaboration. If my films are going to work, I have to give them the freedom to be "discovered". Many time's that will happen in the editing room. I see the position of "director" as being someone who knows to work with people smarter than himself and to have the ability to serve the best idea in the room, even if it's not his own. A filmmaker friend once told me "the audience doesn't know your intention, they only know what they see" and that's been huge advice, that I take to heart.

CK: So what inspired you to write CARTER?

RB: I was sitting in a car, with a good friend, and he made the same vow that Jebadiah Sminch makes in the film. Which is: If he isn't married by the time he turns 23, he will kill himself when he's 25. I really liked the idea of exploring the absurdity of that vow and how far someone might go to commit to a "joke".

CK: Did your friend ever follow through with the vow?

RB: He's not 25 yet. So we shall see.

CK: Correct me if I’m wrong, but I heard that some of your co-stars also had a part in co-writing the film as well?

RB: Oh Yes! The actors improvised all their dialogue, based on direction I would give them. Julia Howe who plays Carter, once joked that she was nervous because she felt like she needed to say something clever, but I'm really looking for the opposite of that.

CK: That’s very impressive of you to give the actors such a nice stretch of freedom to work with on the dialogue. Did they have time to practice with each other on the dialogue before filming started or was it all improved on the spot?

RB: Everyone discussed characters and the situation prior to shooting, but all of the dialogue was improvised as we were shooting. It's always about discovery! I love being surprised in a scene and finding new things to work towards. It keeps everyone on their feet. Some things, you just can't write. Even in my new film, which has a complete screenplay. we are using a lot more of the improvised moments, because they just feel more honest and personal.

CK: If so, can you explain what hand they had in co-writing it?

RB: The way I like to work is fairly loose, allowing the actors to personalize it and bring in their own experience or reactions to a given scenario. I start by shooting long take's allowing us to "find" the scene then dig in for the good stuff. I sometimes like to give each character a secret mission within the scene and I play with each character, adjusting those missions, until we have either complete chaos, or a precise interaction. We tend to find the story in editing.

CK: So tell us a little about the film.

RB: As a teenager, Jeb Sminch jokingly made a vow that if he wasn't married by the time he turned 23; he will kill himself when he turned 25. The story takes place, three days before Jeb's 25th birthday, he is unmarried but in a committed relationship with a beautiful young lady named Carter. He fully intends to commit to his vow despite as he fully acknowledges that he's never been happier. This film is an exploration of a character who wants to "get the last laugh" at the absurdity of life. I hope it feels more like a human experience than a plot driven narrative.

CK: How long did it take to film?

RB: Five days. Three of which, the majority was shot. The other two were pickups and additional scenes.

CK: Did you manage to get everything from your script film?

RB: The story wrote itself, and because we were open to that experience, I felt I said the things I needed to say. Yes.

CK: So I’ve heard that you and Director Princeton Holt and Brian Ackley aren’t just calques but also close friends?

RB: By close friends, you mean all night phone debates about whether or not Improvising a scene is "serving" the story or not, than yes! [Laughs]. We all worked together on each other's films in one way or another (no pun intended) and we certainly have sat down to have a beer from time to time. Everyone is so busy with new projects these days; it's hard to get anyone on the phone! It's starting to feel like a break up. [Laughs]. BRIAN and PRINCETON, if you are reading this, I never stopped loving you. AND I want my plaid tee shirt back! [Laughs harder]. I'm kidding, kind of.

CK: [Laughs]

CK: Care to elaborate more on how this three musketeers like friendship started?

RB: I met Brian and Princeton in a basement apartment somewhere deep in Brooklyn. I was looking for support for my new film "Life in Rewind"...which later became "Carter" and they were looking for support for Brian's debut film "Uptown". I hopped on board as second camera operator and eventually producer and they came over to help produce my film. In between shots at the apartment, and Brian shooting a scene, solo, on a bus, Princeton and I began a dialogue (that continues to this day) about Indie film distribution and the new role that filmmakers play in that. We all enjoy a good debate on the topic and our different approaches to the work, I think, is our greatest strength. Our different approaches? Well, that's a whole other conversation!

CK: This next question I’m about to ask you has become somewhat of a tradition for interviews here at TCWreviews.com, so don’t worry, you’re definitely not the first one I’ve asked this question to, and you won’t be the last. [Laughs]

RB: Uh Oh.

CK: As a filmmaker how far are you willing to go for the sake or art?

RB: I haven't crossed that line yet, and until I do, I'm not really sure. I know there is a certain liability to making very personal films and having the actors personalize their work but I think as long as it comes from an honest, safe place, we will be able to continue pushing forward. I'm excited to see where the work goes. In short, until I'm doing science fiction porno’s for late night cable programming, I'm not satisfied. I'm joking. Right?

CK: Same question as an actor?

RB: Well, I've played a bear getting a fake b*** *** by a man playing a prince. So I guess as long as the story is good (or funny) and the director wants to work from an honest place, I'm willing to explore a lot of places. I don't ever want to do something that risks the integrity of my personal character or that of my loved ones but I come from an extremely supportive family and that allows me to feel safe enough to go the places that best serve the story. Very little has stopped me so far, and I'm up for the challenge.

CK: Last question: what projects can we expect to see you next in and or working on?

RB: Well, my web show The Really Cool Show (dot com) just released a "best of" DVD. We are super excited about that, and are currently discussing a season four. I'm in post production on a new film called "Mother/Sister" about two sisters, one black, one white, who spend a week together at their famous father's summer home. We shot the film in mid September in Michigan. I'm really excited about the project---it was self produced on a budget raised through social networks and family and friends who wanted to support my work. It feature's wonderful performances by Jace Nicole (Cookies N Cream), Joe Swanberg (Nights and Weekends), Deirdre Herlihy (Carter) and myself in a leading role. Look for it hitting the festival circuit, hopefully spring 2010. Last, but not least, I produced, photographed and have a supporting role in a film by Richard Buonagurio called "Harry's Judy" that is just wrapping Post Production and will be coming out very soon. Like I said before, I'm super hyperactive and like to stay busy. I'm always looking forward to the new projects.

CK: Well it was a pleasure talking with you. I look forward doing this again someday. I’ll let you have the last word.

RB: Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. It's been really great and I look forward to a future conversation. If any of the readers are in the NYC area on November 24th, please come see the official directors cut of my film "Carter" screen at the Anthology Film Archives as part of the NewFilmmakers Fall Series. And if you are interested in seeing the naked series "festival" cut of the film, you can order a DVD at http://www.carterthemovie.com. And last but not least, if you are interested in any of my other work, you can find me at http://www.ryanbalas.com or on twitter @ryanbalas. Let’s be friends!

And that concludes my interview with Actor/Director Ryan Andrew Balas. We continued conversing off the record for quite a bit after the interview was over. We talked about my personal thoughts about his film after I sat down to watch a privet screening of it. Which you’ll get to read later this month. We also talked about doing another interview together sometime in the near future, preferably sometime soon after my review hits the web so that we may have a deeper conversation going between us about the film. However way it may go I look forward to doing it, as do I look forward to his next project. If you’re in the New York area on or around November 24th you can check out his film CARTER at the Anthology Film Archives for the NewFilmmakers Fall Series. Which believe me is going to be the place to be for all the Indie lovers out there on the east coast. However if you’re unable to make out that way to see the film at the festival you can purchase the DVD which is available now on the Official website for only $20.