Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Shank - ON VOD

Today, I watched my very first movie on VOD. It was a little indie feature film titled Shank. Out of England, Shank was directed by Simon Pearce and has won many awards on the global film festival circuit. I read about Shank some time ago and ran across it yesterday in my reading.

Shank is a film that is very hard to say whether it is good or bad because the writers, production team and the director seemed to definitively know this material and all of the social ills which create all of the circumstances and behavior of the characters in Shank. It completely captures this time and place - I guess.

There are two actors that stand out Wayne Virgo and Tom Bott. Virgo is so believable as the Cal, the gangster leading a very sorted risque sexual charged dual life and Bott as his best friend Jonno. Jonno and Cal have a magnetism that most best friends have whether sexually charged or not. In this case Cal knows the potential but pulls back from his best friend while Jonno seems willing but not able to get there. Tension.

Although there is enough psychological dramatics along with two gay bashings to make several additional movies, Shank takes the audience into the dark realm and grim world of the average 20 year old global urbanite: drugs, teenage pregnancy, alcohol while driving, internet sex, sex tapes, rape, friendly violence, gay bashings, self-afflicted homophobia and homophobia. In all of its convolution, Shank, manages to present this story.

With all of its deconstruction of Hollywood filmmaking in favor of the neo modern indie international flick, the final scene reminds the audience to discipline and spank not shank your kids and may be they will grow up not only to be good people but to have original ideas even if they really want a fairy tale ending such as in Shank.

In the end I felt shanked --- hmm a little.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Happy Together

Over the past weekend, I watched one of my all time favorite films HAPPY TOGETHER by director Wong Kar Wai. As a filmmaker, I am often asked who is my favorite director and not to be politically correct, but I always answer I like films rather than a specific director. However I must say director Wong Kar Wai is at the very top of my list of influential film directors.

When I was in film school, I first fell in love with Wong's unconventional storytelling, casting, camera movement and cinematography. It is exactly these points which makes it hard for me to zone in on a director when I know these crew members of the film brought together the final film which I love so much. Happy Together is stunning, bold and an innovation piece of filmmaking.

My very first Wong Kar Wai film was Chungking Express. It was quirkly, modern, cool and very entertaining. Chungking starred Tony Leung who would become one of my favorite actors. A few years later Wong would release Happy Together starring Leung and Hong Kong superstar Leslie Cheung as Yiu-Fai and Po-Wing. The couple travel to Argentina from Hong Kong and decide to take a road trip to the southernmost tip of Argentina to see the magnificent Iguazu waterfalls all the while having a lamp in their possession of the waterfall. A lamp the mirrors the waterfalls and projects images of the beautiful waterfall.

Yiu-Fai and Po-Wing's relationship has stopped and started many times over the duration their time together. However just as the waterfall in the lamp presents an illusion of the real waterfall and occasionally needs to be fixed and resembled -- it is the perfect and cunning metaphor for their relationship. It also turns out that Argentina is on the exact opposite side of the planet as Hong Kong.

As the pair goes adrift, a disillusioned Yiu-Fai starts working in a tango bar to save up for his trip home when a battered Po-Wing reappears. Po-Wing wants to start over again, however Yiu-Fai is empathetic but is unable to enter a more intimate relationship. Eventually Yiu-Fai finds works in a Chinese restaurant and meets the youthful Chang from Taiwan.

The film is shot with such an gorgeous preoccupation with sun, night and water. There scene where the couple is on the rooftop above a gritty undeveloped section of Buenos Aires is so rich with color and the simple scene of the guys playing soccer in the alley near the Chinese restaurant is transformed with the lush flicker and constant sun beams into a beautifully blinding situation.

It is so hard to watch a relationship unravel right before your eyes. You want them to be happy together even though you know it will never work nor last. Why do opposites attract?


Saturday, April 3, 2010

PARIS - a very new short film

Since January, I have been living in Paris, FRANCE. A few weeks ago my niece asked me to bring her something back from Paris. Upon that, I started thinking about what I wanted to bring back from Paris for myself.

Almost immediately upon my arrival I absorbed myself into my new Parisian life as an Anglophone. I enrolled into French language classes, writing the "The Day Eazy E Died" screenplay, volunteering at the European Independent Film Festival (ECU), launching FLICKERIA.COM, and prepping the DVD release of my first feature film BLUEPRINT.

THEN, I asked myself what is it that I want to take back from Paris -- A FILM! I thought a film. I am a true filmmaker. I wanted to captured Paris like no one else - totally from my POV. Thereafter, on the way to French class I would write scenes. On weekends I would video tape locations. It all started to come together.

AND for three (3) days this week, I filmed my 1st international film (DONE) with an amazing and talented crew. See everything and stay updated here:

The film is about lives intersecting in an oversized apartment in the rapidly gentrifying 18eme in Paris. The lives belong to Marvin, an American traveling to Paris to visit his boyfriend, Julian. Julian, a Parisian and journalist who shares his apartment with an Algerian student, Khalid. Julian gets called away for work and asks Khalid to make Marvin comfortable until he returns from Nigeria covering a story. With Marvin, Khalid finally finds comfort in providing comfort to someone else as far away from home with no one familiar and loving as he remembers his family to be.

The original title of the script is DONE, now that I am DONE principle photography I have a new working title - ALL I WANT - or may be A WORLD IN A WORLD. I don't know - BUT I do know you have never experienced Paris nor France like this.