To Live and Write in LA

Anthem Film Festival: Slavery Is Alive and Well and May Be Living Down Your Street

Slavery has become more subtle and is not just something that happens far away in third world countries. This was the message of The Return, a film by director Matthew Szewczyk and producer Chelsea Fenton, which won the “Best Libertarian Ideals, Short Narrative” award at the Anthem Film Festival.

Arnold Schwarzenegger – Zombie’s Father in ‘Maggie’

(Originally published on Blogcritics.org) My brain’s cynicism synapse snapped when I heard that a new Arnold Schwarzenegger zombie movie was opening at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival. Somebody’s been bribed, I thought. Not the case. Maggie is not your father’s Arnold movie or zombie movie for that matter. It is a touching examination of the relationship […]

‘Premature’ – Dan Beers’ Directing Debut

There is a fine line between comedy and tragedy

Anthem Film Fest – Telling the Truth Could Get You Killed

(First published on blogcritics.org) Filmmaker Reaves Washburn quoted Oscar Wilde: “Wilde said, ‘If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise, they’ll kill you.’  For us,” he continued, “that means give them good themes, peak their interest, ease people in and make it fun in every way.” Washburn, whose film Knocked Down won the short […]

LA Film Fest: ‘Crystal Fairy’

(First published on blogcritics.org) I don’t like hippies or recreational drug use and that’s what Sebastián Silva’s Crystal Fairy is all about. Strangely, I enjoyed the film and recommend it. Part of the Los Angeles Film Festival Summer Showcase series, Crystal Fairy chronicles the road-trip and psychedelic-trip adventures of Jamie, played by Michael Cera, (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Arrested […]

Joss Whedon’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’

(First published on blogcritics.org) What did you do on your vacation? Joss Whedon adapted Shakespeare. At South by Southwest 2012 (SXSW) Joss Whedon explained that he found a new way to unwind from the total immersion of making a movie like The Avengers – make another movie. In 2011, after principal photography on The Avengers was completed, Whedon was contractually obligated to […]

Collaboration Filmmakers Challenge: The Fifteen Dollar Film School

(First published on blogcritics.org) The Collaboration Filmmakers Challenge, now in its second year, brings a new twist to film contests. You not only have to make a film in two weeks, you also must collaborate on another filmmaker’s project. Both of you have to succeed, or neither one qualifies for the prize competition. For actors and technical crew, it […]

Stand Up Guys

(First published on blogcritics.org) When you have a great screenplay, the talent shows up. Screenwriter Noah Haidle has crafted a story that is sure to become a classic. Stand Up Guys stars Academy Award winners Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin in an action-comedy about senior citizen gangsters reunited after one of them spent 28 years in prison. Val (Al Pacino) is […]

The Independent Spirit Awards: Real Reel People

(First published on blogcritics.org) A lot goes into creating the “willing suspension of disbelief” needed for an audience to become immersed in a film and experience it — laughter, tears, fear — as “real.” The most important factor? The characters must be believable. In reviewing films to vote for in Film Independent’s Independent Spirit Awards, I watched […]

The Making of ‘Effigy’

(First published on blogcritics.org) Opening e-mail is usually pretty uneventful, but that day in August was different. I saw an ad for the “The 2nd Annual Debra Hill Fellowship presents Producers Guild Weekend Shorts Contest”. Heck of a long name for a shorts contest. I’d heard of competitions like this before and they intrigued me. The goal […]

DocU: The Intersection of Documentary and Journalism

(First published on blogcritics.org) Are you a filmmaker or a journalist? If the script you’re working on is titled Zombie Princesses vs. Sharkzilla, this is probably not an issue. But if you are using your filmmaking skills to document the reality of social issues such as unjust imprisonment or the AIDS epidemic, you’d better put on your […]

How to Succeed in Hollywood by Really Trying

(First published on blogcritics.org) How would you like to rub shoulders with producers and directors, find out insider secrets from produced screenwriters, recruit actors and production talent, and learn how to jump start your Hollywood career? You could havedone all of this and more at the September meeting of the Alameda Writers Group in Glendale, California. The […]

Robot and Frank

(First published on blogcritics.org)   Robot & Frank shows us that a small film can be great, as can a small robot. Director Jake Schreier’s feature debut is anything but small when it comes to acting, story, and directing. The film, which takes place in the near future, is a tour de force for Frank Langella, winner […]

Dances With Films: Can a Bat Monster be Cinderella?

(First published on blogcritics.org) Attack of the Bat Monsters by writer/director Graham Kelly Greene is an independent filmmaker fairy tale. It premiered in 2000 at the Dances with Films festival and, even though the soundtrack wasn’t finished, it won the Best of DWF Award and got good reviews. Then, like so many other quality indie films it disappeared […]

Dances With Films: Friday was a Dead Night

(First published on blogcritics.org) Friday was a dead night at the Dances with Films film festival (now in its nineteenth year of bringing the best of the independent film world to the heart of Hollywood), but in a good way. The two “dead” films that screened that night were Dead Dad and Detention of the Dead. Dead Dad, the West Coast […]

Dances With Films: Opening Night Full of Dreams and Zombies

(First published on blogcritics.org) “Dare, Dream, Do” is the mantra of the Dances with Films independent film festival, May 31 through June 7 at the Chinese 6 Theaters in Hollywood. On opening night they lived up to their slogan for the year, “Dream Big or Go Home,” with the biggest red carpet parade I’ve ever seen. My […]

‘You Got This’: Hollywood Filmmaking in the Suburbs

(Originally published on Blogcritics.org) Cancer, a marathon, thievery and a touching story are a lot to pack into a thirty minute film. That, however, is what producer/screenwriter, and American Film Institute (AFI) grad student, Sara Hills is doing in her film, You Got This. This film is the thesis for Sara’s Masters in Fine Arts from the AFI Conservatory. […]

Circus Vargas and Indie Film

(Originally published on blogcritics.org) Circus Vargas came through town a while back. It had been years since we’d been to the circus so my wife and I decided to go. This is not a big “sports arena” circus like Ringling Brothers. Circus Vargas sets up old fashioned big top tents in a mall parking lot, sometimes has […]

Warming Up to ‘Cold Weather’

(Originally published on blogcritics.org) Cold Weather, which opens at LA’s Laemmle Sunset 5 Theater Friday, February 11, is not your typical American movie, despite the fact that it takes place in Portland, Oregon, with an all-American cast and a purportedly Raymond-Chandler-like plot line. It left me dazed and confused, but, in a good way. This was not a […]

Over the Top: A Conversation with John Lithgow at the LA Film Festival

(Originally published on blogcritics.org) “I’m always glad to publicly discuss a great subject – me!” was John Lithgow’s tongue-in-cheek opener at the Los Angeles Film Festival for an evening of humorous and insightful stories about movies and acting. “Over the Top: A Conversation with John Lithgow” was moderated by David Anson, Artistic Director for the […]

An exploration of film and filmmaking