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Paul’s Dragon Con Schedule

Paul’s Dragon Con Schedule

So I’m going to be at Dragon Con this year. Here is my schedule for anyone who might be interested in panels on filmmaking.

Title: Wanna Work In The Movies? How Do You Get Started?
Description: Working industry professionals discuss how they got their start and how to get a job and, more importantly, grow your career in the film industry.
Panelists: Aron Siegel, Samantha Avila, Andy Brown, Marco Bossow, Jim Farmer(M), Paul Barrett, George Watson
Time: Fri 10:00 am
Location: Piedmont Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)

Title: Making A Living As An Indie Filmmaker
Description: Making films for a living is a dream for many, but can anyone really live like that? This panel will discuss the opportunities and possibilities of working as a professional full time independent Filmmaker.
Panelists: Melissa Simpson, Marco Bossow, Andy Brown, Aron Siegel(M), Dustin Fletcher, Paul Barrett, George Watson
Time: Sat 02:30 pm
Location: Piedmont Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)

Title: AI – What’s everyone so worried about?
Description: AI has become a part of life, especially in the film world. We’ll be discussing AI, the controversy surrounding it, and what has the WGA, SAG, DGA, and everyone else so concerned.
Panelists: Hunter Cressall, Roberts, Patrick(M), Jeff Ello, Bobby Blackwolf, Matt Green, Paul Barrett
Time: Sun 07:00 pm
Location: Piedmont Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)

Title: Your Movie–or, How to Get Your Script Produced
Description: Face it. Wouldn’t you love having your story translated from page to big screen? Yep. You can do it. Here in “Hollywood East” you have more chances than ever. Studies need scripts. It’s how they make money. Start sharing in those billions of dollars of income that the Georgia studios are raking in.
Panelists: Matt Green, Nancy Knight(M), John Hudgens, Paul Barrett, Christopher G Moore, Melissa Simpson
Time: Sun 10:00 pm
Location: Embassy EF Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)

Title: The Pitfalls of the Overly Ambitious Filmmaker
Description: Are you all fired up to make your first film? Does it have explosions, giant robots, shots from space, actual Zombie Abe Lincoln? Maybe take it down a notch for the first time. We’ll be talking first-time filmmaker mistakes and what you need to consider.
Panelists: Roberts, Patrick(M), Smith, Matt, Matt Green, O’Neill, Allie, Paul Barrett, George Watson
Time: Mon 01:00 pm
Location: Piedmont Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)

John Wick Chapter 4: A New Myth

John Wick Chapter 4: A New Myth

John Wick Chapter 4 is an amazing continuation of the franchise and easily the most audacious and ambitious of the quintet of films. Picking up shortly after the events of the last film, the opening scene has John making a choice with severe repercussions. His actions attract the attention of The Marquis (Bill Skarsgard) who takes it upon himself to capture or kill John. Of course, if he had bothered to watch any of the previous three movies, he would know things aren’t going to go well.

From a technical standpoint, this is easily the best of the four, The cinematography is gorgeous, with every shot doused in colored and almost a painting. The stunts and choreography are jaw-dropping, with a number of heart-pounding set pieces, and including one of the most amazing staircase stunts I’ve ever seen. The story is deeper than one might expect, with some surprisingly touching moments. Of course, the death of Lance Riddick gave parts of the movie some resonance that might otherwise not have been there, but it still had some nice heart-tugging moments. The 169-minute run time flew by, and I never felt bored or that anything needed to be cut, with maybe the possible exception of the first big fight. My only minor quibble is a technical one. I realize with the number of headshots in the movie, using squibs for the hits really isn’t practical, but the film did rely a lot more on digital blood than I would prefer. Digital blood just isn’t quite there yet, and it would have been nice to see more practical bullet hits. But when the action is this good, I can let that slide.

Rating: 4.5/5

Now I’m going to offer a little analysis of my thoughts on something that occurred to me as I was watching the film. This section CONTAINS SPOILERS, so if you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want anything ruined, stop reading.

Still here. Okay, here goes. As tends to happen with these kinds of movies (the Die Hard movies being an egregious example), there is a “toughness creep” where the heroes become more and more superhuman, to the point where they seem unstoppable and immune to death. In John Wick, this happens several times, when he is hit by cars, slammed into other cars, and bounced off any number of hard surfaces. But the worst is in the third act, when John falls from a high point, slams on his back against a piece of machinery, and then flips and hits the ground. The kind of thing that would kill anybody. But after a moment of being stunned, John stands and Iimps off to continue fighting. It would kind of be an “oh, come on,” moment, except for how the writers set things up. (Note, I have no idea if what I’m about to say was their intention or not, but it’s what I got out of it)

The third act sees John having to get to a church by sunrise to participate in a duel with The Marquis to free him from his obligations to the High Table. The Marquis has no intention of letting John make it to the duel, so he tells his men to take care of it. What follows is a beautiful homage to The Warriors, complete with a close pair of lips speaking into a radio microphone and giving a play-by-play recap of John’s exploits as he mows through the various sub-cultures of the city to reach his goal. It’s a wonderful set piece recalling a seminal movie of the late 70’s. But it’s more than that. The Warriors was a modern-day retelling of the Odyssey, where a group of people far from home have to fight through many obstacles to return. By using this framing for John Wick, the writers are transcending John Wick from reality to the standing of mythology. It was hinted at with John being called Baba Yaga, which is itself a mythological creature. This movie just takes it directly into the realm of true folklore. This is the story bad guys tell each other. Don’t double-cross anyone or John Wick will get you. He can’t be stopped and won’t give up until he gets his full revenge. The ending cements this concept by putting an end to John. Once he is dead, his legend can only grow. So what we are seeing in John Wick Chapter 4 isn’t reality, but a story told from criminal to criminal in the dead of night. John Wick, the one who comes for all the bad guys.

Anyway, that’s my take on it. Because in the real world, John would have died halfway through act two. Or at least a shitload of cops would have shown up to put a stop to things.

My Thoughts on The Oscars

My Thoughts on The Oscars

So the Oscars happened this Sunday, and it’s the first time I’ve watched in a few years. Hadn’t really been interested. But this year, I found many of the nominees enjoyable so thought I’d give it a go. Overall it was quite an enjoyable show. Jimmy Kimmel did a great job as the host. Most of the jokes landed pretty well, even the expected jokes about “the slap” from last year. Of course, now we’ve done that, so let’s move on.

It was a great night for “Everything, Everywhere, All at Once” which works for me. It was one of my favorites from last year. Having worked with James Hong and still in contact with him even now, it’s very cool to see him in something so popular. And the speeches from the actor, especially Ke Huy Quan, had me almost in tears. Several of the winners gave great speeches, keeping things light or highly emotional, depending. The obvious appreciation for the recognition by almost everyone was a wonderful thing to see. And although I understand people being upset about Jamie Lee Curtis winning over Angela Bassett, it was wonderful to see her give a shout out to all the people who helped her get there.

The pace was brisk, and the producers kept things moving, although the band playing off people after one person spoke before others could got a bit annoying. I was fairly happy with the winners, although I scored pretty poorly on my predictions, getting only 5 of 23 correct. The presenters all did a good job and, again, most of the jokes landed fairly well.

There were a couple of downsides. The songs, with the exception of Naatu Naatu, were pretty lackluster. I could have also done without the thinly veiled advertisements for other Disney/ABC projects. And the In Memoriam section had several head-scratching omissions. But all in all, I’m glad I took the time to watch it. Here’s hoping they get the same producers next year to do the show.

Rating: 7/10

A Triple Feature Review

A Triple Feature Review

So I saw these movies and varying times but all within two weeks of each other, and I know I’m a little behind, but hey, better late than never. Here are my thoughts on three recent movies.

Doctor Sleep – This is based on the Stephen King novel, a sequel to The Shining, and stars Ewan McGregor. The premise it that Danny Torrence, the young boy from The Shining, is now all grown up and a bit of a wreck from his experiences at the haunted hotel. His life gains some purpose when he discovers that a young girl who also has the shine is being hunted by a group of what can best be described as psychic vampires. And the key to saving the young girl’s future may lie in Danny’s past.

The movie was directed by Mike Flanigan, a director whose work I really enjoy. He has done a fine adaptation of the book and there are some great performances, especially by Rebecca Ferguson, who plays Rose the Hat, the leader of the bad guys. This was a well done film and, while occasionally tense, was never really scary. Maybe because I listened to the audiobook and knew what was going to happen, I never felt any real peril for the characters. However, the recreation of the Overlook and some of the scenes from the original Shining were spot on. This one is definitely worth a watch, especially if you are a fan of the original movie and book. GRADE: B

Once Upon A Time in Hollywood – This film from Quentin Tarantino tells the story of Rick Dalton, an almost washed-up TV actor, his stuntman Cliff Booth, and the Manson clan, who was responsible for the murder of Sharon Tate and her houseguests in 1969. If that seems like an odd combination of elements, it kind of is. But it all makes sense in the end, and also plays into Tarantino’s recent penchant for rewriting history.

This is an odd film. It is basically Tarantino’s love letter to the old style of Hollywood, and I suspect Rick’s had-been status is Quentin’s way of mourning for a Hollywood that doesn’t exist anymore. He brings celebrities from that time in an out of the movie and plays fast and loose with the facts. While having several fun moments, there really isn’t much else to this movie. And while I was never exactly bored, there wasn’t a whole lot recommend it either. It’s not action-packed (except for a fairly brutal scene near the end) and even the dialogue really isn’t up to Tarantino’s usual snuff. While offering homage to a lost time, he also forgot to really include a story to wrap around it. The running time flew by, but except for a scene involving Bruce Lee and another with a young actress whose character is going to have trouble in the future, there won’t be much to remember about this movie. GRADE: C

Grade compared to other Tarantino movies: D

KNIVES OUT – This is the latest film from Rion Johnson. It tells the story of the Trombley family, the heirs to a fortune built up by the head of the household, a famous and wealthy mystery writer. When the story begins, he’s dead in an appartent suicide. But there is someone who tinks it might be murder, and so hires Daniel Craig’s famous southern sleuth, Benoit Blanc, to determine what happend.

To say any more would be to spoil what is a clever and witty script, a throwback to the old Agatha Christie movies with a modern sensibility. The acting is uniformly perfect and the dialogue crisp. If anything, I wish it could have been longer so we could have spent more time with the family and the great actors who inhabited the characters (although this is probably not a family you would want to spend a lot of time with in real life.) If you’re one of those people who bemoan the fact that intelligent script don’t exist anymore, do yourself a favor and check this one out. It’s a great deal of fun. GRADE: A

That wrap it up for this time. Check in again and I’ll some more reviewsup soon.

Good Morning from 10000 feet

Good Morning from 10000 feet

My Black Diamond “burrito” that I carry when solo or light packing. Everybody thinks that the bears would like the soft chewy filling – hence the burrito reference. This was in Colorado – heading up to 14,409′.