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Wednesday
Feb152012

Parties, Playlists and Moving Pictures from A to Z #atozchallenge #amblogging #2012

Parties, Playlists and Moving Pictures, From Flickr, posted by Editor B aka Bart Everson: http://www.flickr.com/photos/editor/3775630400/
Photo by Bart Everson, whose mom made this Rated-R birthday cake for his 17th Birthday!

On Friday, April 15, 2011, I showed you all what my movie collection pretty much looks like while sharing a list of my top 10 independent films. That post marked the 18th day of Arlee Bird’s 2011 Blogging from A to Z Challenge, an online event where participants blog daily for 26 days straight during the month of April, excluding Sundays. The catch is that each blog post has to coincide with a letter of the alphabet, so April 1st would be “A,” April 2nd would be “B” and so forth.

Today, if I showed any of you what my workspace looks like, complete with all notebook paper and index cards filled with unfinished screenplay outlines, character breakdowns and movie ideas, it would make my collection of DVDs and VHS tapes look like they were organized by June Cleaver (which it's clearly not) – that’s how messy I have allowed some of my most treasured blueprints for future works to become.

I have maybe two finished feature length screenplays, one partially completed first-draft of a short film script that is currently a work-in-progress and LOTS of movie treatments sitting around my apartment that have one thing in common, if any – they were all inspired in one way or another by songs that I have listened to on mixtapes, albums of my favorite artists or online radio stations such as Pandora and the now defunct Yahoo Launchcast.

Parties, Playlists and Moving Pictures

A combination of one old Mariah Carey tune with a popular R. Kelly song aided in my first draft of a short film about a delivery person who takes his attempts to provide customer service way too far – that one is laying somewhere in the notebook paper pile. As I gear up to participate in the 2012 Blogging from A to Z Challenge this year, winging it is not going to be part of the plan, at least for as much as I can help it.

This April, daily blogs at the Madlab Post are each based on a different song that has either been playing in my CD player, on the iPod touch that I no longer have or on my computer at one time or another.

Once upon a time, many of these songs may have also become part of one or several online playlists that I listen to when I’m writing, blogging or working on a new script or video of some sort. In each blog post, these songs will accompany a party planning spin on movies that the tunes remind me of and what they both could represent in the grand scheme of things during this journey that we call life.

Think of it as "Quotes from Music Tribute Movies" meets "5 Harry Potter Cocktail Recipes for Ron Weasley Fans". As if all of this won’t keep my busy enough, I am tinkering with plans to create a video component to my A to Z schedule. The verdict is still out on that but I will post an update about it if anything changes between now and then.

In the meantime, those of you who might want to take on the task of posting something every day can sign up for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge between now and April 1st. The only difference this year is that the challenge will include one Sunday since the beginning of April falls on that day. The A to Z website is well worth checking out, even if you plan to sit this one out and just visit the blogs of A to Z participants….such as The Madlab Post, of course!

Just last month, I attended a masquerade party for my cousin's 30th birthday and that whole theme now reminds me of the costumes people wore in "Man in the Iron Mask" starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Have you ever been to or hosted any movie themed parties before?

If so, how did they turn out?

What would it take for you to want to RSVP for one today?

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Monday
Feb132012

Films that go "Ouch!" #monday #meme #netflix #blockbuster

UpdatedMondayMovieMemeGraphic

As my worst month of the year so far continues, thanks to a sad weekend and the new discovery of not one but two pieces of malfunctioning electronics equipment, I’ve decided to keep in line with the spirit of last week’s “Stick Me” theme that Dale at Smurfin the Web served up. So, this week’s topic is “When It Hurts Too Much.”

Share on your blog or in the comments section, movies that cause pain in one way or another to the main characters and/or movies that are painful to watch. Also, make sure to visit the blogs of fellow Monday Movie Meme participants. Here are my selections for the “When It Hurts Too Much” theme.
*Disclaimer: this post may contain spoiler alerts where noted.

Films that Go Ouch6

The Bone Collector
Many unsuspecting characters had an up close and personal meeting with physical pain in this movie, which stars Denzel Washington, Angelina Jolie and Queen Latifah. In “The Bone Collector,” a cop teams up with a forensics expert to solve crimes committed by a serial killer who goes around New York city kidnapping people, only to slice and dice them up later.

Films that Go Ouch5

The Dutchess*
Lots of emotional pain is at the center of Georgiana Spencer’s scandalous home life, where her husband, the Duke of Devonshire is sleeping with her best friend. That isn’t even the tip of the iceberg in this movie, where the Duke refuses to acknowledge their daughters and is livid with Georgiana who has not given birth to a son, for whom he can make his heir.

Georgiana finds solace in the arms of a politician named Charles but their affair is forbidden (gotta love the hypocrisy!) but the Duke. From living in an unwanted threesome at home to being forced to give up the child she had by the man who she truly loved, while still being expected to keep up appearances, Georgiana didn’t have it easy.

Films that Go Ouch7

The Tombs
The mental anguish that the main character of this short film experiences just builds scene by scene. “The Tombs” is about a man who spends three days in New York’s central booking system for a crime that he may not have even committed.

Films that Go Ouch4

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans*
A combination of physical and emotional pain plague the main characters of this action/fantasy movie. Their pain is the result of forbidden love between two different species, which causes an elder to go on a personal rampage. Lucien gets beaten and whipped while Sonja is forced to watch, before she is burned alive -- literally and figuratively by the very person who is supposed to protect her. As if that’s not enougg, Lucien is also forced to witness it all, bearing an unbearable burden of losing his family.

Now for the viewers point of view: here are films that while great, have been difficult for me to watch without being angry, depressed or sad....not necessarily in that order.

Films that Go Ouch3

The Battle of Algiers
Since there is nothing pretty about war, I am aware that the violence and torture in “The Battle of Algiers” is to be expected but watching it still makes me uncomfortable. I read about this movie while doing some research on a filming technique that I want to try, and then rented it from Netflix. The film is another one of those real-life tales, which makes it all the more sad. In this movie, an Algerian revolution is in play as the people of this country fight to gain independence from the French.

Films that Go Ouch2

Sometimes in April
Idris Elba stars in this movie about two brothers who unfortunately find themselves on opposites sides of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. I’m glad that I didn’t dismiss “Sometimes in April” when a friend recommended that I watch it but find it to be among the most violently gruesome of films based on real life. Much like the violent acts in “The Battle of Algiers,” people do some disgusting things in “Sometimes in April.” It’s a real shame and insult to our humanity.

While it’s one of those made-for-television movies, many people who are familiar with this HBO flick believe that it provides a much better account of the tragedies that ensued during that time, than “Hotel Rwanda” starring Don Cheadle did. Having watched both films (...and I wasn’t interested in watching “Hotel Rwanda” either but my grandmother insisted that I check it out), I’m partial to the overall consensus of Elba’s film doing a better job than Cheadle’s movie, but are still just as moving and just as painful to watch. They definitely aren’t something that makes you want to pop a bowl of popcorn and get down with on a weekend night.

Films that Go Ouch

I Am Sam
My cousin told me that this movie, starring Sean Penn and Dakota Fanning, is so good that it will make me cry. After all, she was a grown 30-something mother who cried AND her eldest son broke down in tears during the film. Still, I didn’t believe her and had little interest in watching “I Am Sam” but low and behold -- there I was at her house one day, where she played this movie on DVD. Needless to say, yes, I did get teary but was not balling my eyes out as much as she predicted.

What are the most painful movies that YOU remember?

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Sunday
Feb122012

Denzel Washington on Making Movies, Being Black and Simplifying Life #acting #quotes

Denzel Washington on Making Movies Being Black

Have you ever noticed the peculiar tendency of so many talented people working in the film industry, or entertainment business in general for that matter, who did not have any initial interest in being in this field? If they never changed the direction of their life or career plans, the world would be missing out on a lot of great performances and maybe even greater insights on one’s human existence.

Actor Denzel Washington, who went from being a pre-med student to a pre-law student and later graduating from Fordham University with a degree in journalism, is clearly one of these people. As the son of a Pentecostal minister, Denzel Washington was not allowed to go to the movies during his childhood but caught the acting bug after receiving encouragement from a fellow camp counselor, following his performance in their YMCA talent show.

After winning two Oscars and starring in over 50 movies and TV shows combined, Washington is often referenced under many different titles including “movie star” in lieu of “man” or “black actor” rather than “actor.” Just glance at some of Denzel Washington’s most notable quotes, however, and you may find that he has less interest in being famous, more concern about preserving the feeling of surprise and adventure that audiences should experience when watching films and having brown skin does not solely define him or what he is about.

Denzel Washington on Making Movies Being Black4, This pic from The Guardian:http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2012/feb/12/denzel-washington-smooth-operator-actor

On Making Movies...
“There's fun creating that magic. Bringing something to life, whatever. Putting together a character. The twists and the turns that people don't expect. So to sit around and talk about it before someone sees it is boring. I think there should be some mystery in it. Who wants to know everything about it? I think it ruins movies when you know everything about how the movie was made and put together. If you explain, it's like showing you the trick before I show you the magic. Let me explain to you how it works. All right, now come see the show. It's supposed to be magic. And being an actor is about creating that magic.”

On Being Black...
In the 90s, theater and film critics praised Denzel Washington as some sort of great black villain for his performances in the play “Richard III” and the movie “A Soldier’s Story.” Washington was less than thrilled for any label that isolates him from the work as a whole, in this manner.

"What does that mean, a black villain?" -- "How do you think I feel sitting here having people say, black this and black that, as if that's all I am? First of all, I'm a man. Let's talk about about that. Or as an actor, ask me how I feel about things. But the questions are always 'as a black . . .,' 'as a black . . .,' 'as a black. . . .'

I'm very proud to be black but black is not all I am. That's my cultural historical background, my genetic makeup, but it's not all of who I am nor is the basis from which I answer every question. I get very upset when I hear 'black villain,' as opposed to a 'white villain' or an 'Italian villain.' I don't think I should be talked to only as a black actor . . . I think its very racist."

Working on “Mo Better Blues” directed by Spike Lee was a new experience for Denzel Washington, who was used to being isolated on set and struggled to get accustomed to the atmosphere of a movie where Lee wanted to exploit Denzel’s popularity among wide female audiences and encourage white audiences to be comfortable with black sexuality.

"I don't have as much of an agenda as Spike does. I'm not trying to move people in any area, it's just the movie business, you know. -- I am attracted to certain parts and I've learned a lot from them, about history, culture, myself, how the world views black people and how black people view the world."

Denzel Washington on Making Movies Being Black2

Denzel Washington is just as quick to refrain from labeling films as he his from categorizing himself as an actor, and this goes for everyone including film critics, audiences and colleagues.

"I think all films can speak to people across color lines. I don't think that's a new concept. Do you think that only Italians go see (Martin) Scorsese's films, that only Britons go see (Richard) Attenborough's films, that only Canadians go see Norman Jewison's films? You have to question that. I think people go to good movies."

"The only way to look at this is continuing the variety I've tried for, the new and different challenges. People say, 'You're the guy that's gonna' carry the torch for history,' -- But I'm not that guy. I just want to do the things I want to do -- I'm not anti-black or shunning my own blackness. But if we are making any progress, if Hollywood is getting any better, it has to start with each one of us."

Denzel Washington on Making Movies Being Black3

On Simplifying Life...
Denzel Washington spent his 40th birthday reflecting on what he did with the first 40 years of his life and also how he plans to spend the next 40 years of his life. During this time, Washington also took the analogy that a motivational speaker named Les Brown made, to heart, when trying to figure out ways to simplify life.

“He was saying when you die, imagine you had these ghosts around your bed that represent your unfulfilled potential. Things that should have been done, should have been experienced. How many ghosts are going to be around your bed when your time comes? People can say about me or anyone, 'Oh, you're great at this,' but you have to look at yourself and say, 'How do I feel about what I've done?' That's all that matters.”

So, Denzel Washington did not become a doctor, lawyer or journalist -- he did, however, end up playing them on screen (as Tom Hank’s lawyer in “Philadelphia,” as Dr. Philip Chandler on the NBC show “St. Elsewhere and as an investigative reporter ducking bullets alongside Julia Roberts in “The Pelican Brief”), instead.

Looking at a man who gave us films such as “Glory,” “Crimson Tide,” “Malcolm X” and “Remember the Titans,” I’d say the world is lucky that he went in a different direction after college. Do YOU agree or disagree?