What movie was that...?

26 February 2014

Hannibal: season 1

created by Bryan Fuller

Before season 2 premieres this Friday, I feel I must give Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal a fair amount of credit. In an age of well-conceived, well made cable drama crafted to suit a variety of tastes (from the bleak survivalist humanity of The Walking Dead, to the astonishing quality of True Detective, to the muted drama of Downton Abby, to name a few), the poor networks have earned the reputation (with specific regard to drama) as purveyors of bland, lifeless fiction and gag-inducing reality television (cable is guilty of these sins as well, but I’m not here to debate the point). In a world of acronyms that stand for rock n roll law enforcement departments (SVU, CSI, NCIS, yawn) populated by blasé characters and fill-in-the-blank story-telling, I was certain Hannibal would be just another whiff on the part of the networks to validate themselves as dramatic forces. But there was something I couldn’t quite place about the season 1 trailers, a certain edge better suited for cable, that piqued my interest. It didn’t hurt that I love Mads Mikkelsen in almost everything he does, or that Larry Fishburne would be hanging around bellowing lines like a put out opera singer. So I tuned in, and like the hay days of Lost, Hannibal had me from jump street and never let go. Each episode was revelatory in all the darkness and savagery, delighting in all the twisty, turny, maniacal morbidity that abounds. Hugh Dancy was really swinging for the fences in the first few episodes (which I found off-putting), his portrayal of Will Graham not much more than a collection of twitches, shaky breathing and huffy snark, but luckily for us that has tapered off to reveal a talented actor who has started to hit his stride. Mr F is dependably excellent, as is Caroline Dhavernas, and the revolving door of excellent guest characters is always a treat (I’m looking at you, Mr Eddie Izzard and Ms Gillian Anderson). But let’s not forget that the primary reason, the make or break type of reason, that Hannibal has been successful rests squarely on the shoulders of Mads Mikkelsen, an actor who can so effortlessly relax and strike fear simply by the soothing rasp of his voice. Mikkelsen’s depiction of such an iconic character (nailed by Anthony Hopkins) is an exercise in restraint, which is a feat in itself considering both the over the top nature of the show and television audiences’ expectation for such programming (read: overly dynamic and easily judged), so after such a successful debut I am very excited to see what else is in store for the good doctor. From a technical standpoint, the show is well written and well shot, with each episode working as a chapter in a unified story, which was a little surprising and very refreshing. It’s like sitting down in a diner and getting a delicious confit dinner (ahem, pardon the cutesy food analogy. I only realized its cuteness after typing it). NBC has hopefully decided to take a page from cable’s book, and if more networks choose to chuck out the acronyms and follow suit, we may not have to look solely to cable for our quality programming needs.

Season 2 begins this Friday. Set your DVRs, people.

18 February 2014

BC Needs Your Help!

I originally began OMFBC as an extension of two things I love: writing and watching movies. It began as a way to convey my experience with film as an entertainment, as an art, as a thought provoking medium, as a challenging dialogue between maker and audience, as pure enjoyment. For me, film is much more than simply watching a collection of images and sound, more than watching a plot unfurl, it is a precious thing, a dear thing that culls light from the ether, an amazing thing that draws me to it as though by fantastical magnetism. With OMFBC, I wanted to tell people how film makes me feel, and so it began as a free flowing list of films I love and feel are worth watching. Some are sad, some are silly, some are painful, some are informative, but all of them move me in some significant way.

As the years have gone by, the format hasn’t changed much. Occasionally I review a new film, and occasionally I give a less than glowing review, and I have even managed a few interviews (high points of my film loving life, to be sure!), but the original intent of OMFBC is and always will be to showcase the magic of film and what wonders it can work when created with love and skill.

OMFBC also serves the valuable purpose of affording me the opportunity to write on a regular basis, and with a subject so rich and ever changing as film, I will surely never run out of inspiration. I have always enjoyed writing fiction and nonfiction, conjuring up people and lives from the cauldron of my imagination and loosing them upon the page. I attempt to write books about people who whom I can relate. I make up stories overflowing with silly sounds and faces for our little one. I write poems about moments and feelings and desires and fears. I write roundabout pieces that began as one thing and end up as a question…

And with that I will quit boring you and come to the point of it.

I recently completed a screenplay that I feel compelled to try and make into a film of my own. My brother DC (who has a degree in film) has the technical know how and the skill to realize this dream of mine from behind the camera, but what I lack is the knowledge of where to begin with this endeavor (fundraising, networking and making necessary contacts, etc). Does anyone have any tips for me, advice cultivated from experience, or does anyone have the name of someone who may be interested in hearing me out? Is anyone in a position to hear my movie idea and help me take the next important steps? I have done some research with DC, and I definitely feel the film can be (and should be) made on a small budget. Tonally, it’s an intense film that will most likely speak to my fellow Gen Xers of the world (particularly the younger of that generation). Essentially, I have a completed script that I feel is very strong, and all I need is the opportunity to sit down with an experienced producer who knows the ropes. So, as I try to educate myself back home, I thought I would toss a fish on the cosmic fryer and see if I can get it to sizzle.

If any of you, my movie loving friends of the blogosphere, are able to assist me in my quest, I would be most excellently indebted to you. It has always been a dream of mine, to craft a something from scratch, to begin with an idea, a feeling, and build from it a thing that provokes, that inspires, that enrages, that ignites conversation.

PS for anyone on the fence, I can assure you the screenplay isn’t nearly as boring and tiresome as reading this roundabout request (I should hope so, BC!).

01 February 2014

Dallas Buyers Club

directed by Jean-Marc Vallée

I have written before about the spectacular McRenaissance of one Mr Matthew McConaughey, emerging from the romcom ruins with a breathtaking string of performances that will forever cement his place among the ranks of Hollywood greats (I always knew this was the case, Mr McC, but I’m still thrilled). It all started with The Lincoln Lawyer, then Bernie, then Killer Joe, then The Paperboy, Mud- you can scroll his IMDb page for the rest of his contemporary wonders, and rest assured he is bringing nothing short of his finest work to the biopic Dallas Buyers Club. McConaughey plays Ron Woodroof, a hard living electrician who learns he has contracted the HIV virus. In his 1985 Texas world of bull riders and macho scumbags, Woodroof’s diagnosis is both a death sentence and a scarlet letter alienating him from his social circles, dooming him to embittered loneliness. But Woodroof is a fighter, a hustler who won’t even let the long odds of a 30 day life expectancy prevent him from making his own luck. An encounter with another face of the HIV epidemic, Rayon (played by a brilliant and breezy Jared Leto), combined with his own wherewithal gives Woodroof both the direction and the motivation to fight back. Sure, Woodroof is mostly out to make money and stave off his own death for as long as possible, flipping the FDA and Big Medicine the bird along the way, but what unfurls is a matter of fact and poignantly gripping story. No one can do the quietly fierce, delicate yet strong high wire act like Jennifer Garner, who is amazing as Eve, one of Woodroof’s few friends outside of his “activist” circle. Dallas Buyers Club is a glimpse into an epochal moment in our country through the keyhole of one man’s refusal to lie down, and Jean-Marc Vallée’s superb film is a sure fire classic.