Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Living Outloud in London

Hi all, C.S. Schneider here with the lastest news from my life in London.

I'm moved into a very nice and decent size apartment. There's room for my bro and I and we have a private Bathroom, a luxury in downtown London I'm told.

I've seen 2 films while here. Firstly The Departed. It was good but not as good as I had hoped, considering that both asian versions were very good, this is just decent. I felt Jack was a bit over the top, but the film works fine, it just didn't rivet me to my seat. Grade B

Second I saw Children of Men, an excellent film. Curon continues to solidify himself as a modern master conquering every genre he's given. An effective and emotional film, Children of Men was really chilling, and even in a few scenes that are a bit over the top, the film makes some really stirring commitments. Grade A-

Something I discovered today, after I sat through more than 15 commercials (or adverts as they say here) is that on the times sheet and ticket theygive you the show start time, followed by the estimated start time of the trailers, followed by the actual starting time of the film itself. Good to know for the future, since I could feasibly get there and skip roughly 20 adverts. Especially annoying when you're already paying 9.50 pounds which is roughly $19 US Dollars for a ticket. SHEESH!

Also an interesting thing is that you are given an assigned seat. You can pick it at the boxoffice, then the row letter and seat number are printed on your ticket. Some people movedaround when the show didn't fill up, but they never strayed too far from their given seat.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Packing Blues

Time is nearly expired on my stay in North Carolina. If all goes well, meaning I get my Visa on time, I leave Friday evening and arrive in the early hours of Saturday in a nation I have loved from afar and vicariously through centuries of media.

My brother and I make the move, and my parents are going with us to help with the settling in process. My mom was given a rather thoughtful gift by a friend from work that coincides nicely with this trip. Its a deck of large flash cards that are all walking tours of London. Easy and short trips that take you past historic landmarks, eateries, and other assorted fun little ways to indulge an afternoon in London. It'll be fun to see some of the things on the cards, and they'll be a great source of ideas when I'm alone for the next three months, as my brother begins school on Oct. 6th and I'll be without his company over 10 hours a day, 6 days a week. Kinda nice, isn't it.

I have plans to seek out Sherlock Holmes' fabled abode, a Post Office I'm told, in order to send a photo to my grandfather. I'm excited about doing early Christmas shopping on Charring Crossroads in and among the old book shops.

Living in one of the world's most prominant cities will prove a challenge and a character building change of life. I hope to enjoy myself and make no waves as I don't see the British or their country as a nvelty, rather I respect and long to be apart of such an important culture.

Cheers, as they say, and see you soon.

Packing Blues

Time is nearly expired on my stay in North Carolina. If all goes well, meaning I get my Visa on time, I leave Friday evening and arrive in the early hours of Saturday in a nation I have loved from afar and vicariously through centuries of media.

My brother and I make the move, and my parents are going with us to help with the settling in process. My mom was given a rather thoughtful gift by a friend from work that coincides nicely with this trip. Its a deck of large flash cards that are all walking tours of London. Easy and short trips that take you past historic landmarks, eateries, and other assorted fun little ways to indulge an afternoon in London. It'll be fun to see some of the things on the cards, and they'll be a great source of ideas when I'm alone for the next three months, as my brother begins school on Oct. 6th and I'll be without his company over 10 hours a day, 6 days a week. Kinda nice, isn't it.

I have plans to seek out Sherlock Holmes' fabled abode, a Post Office I'm told, in order to send a photo to my grandfather. I'm excited about doing early Christmas shopping on Charring Crossroads in and among the old book shops.

Living in one of the world's most prominant cities will prove a challenge and a character building change of life. I hope to enjoy myself and make no waves as I don't see the British or their country as a nvelty, rather I respect and long to be apart of such an important culture.

Cheers, as they say, and see you soon.

Packing Blues

Time is nearly expired on my stay in North Carolina. If all goes well, meaning I get my Visa on time, I leave Friday evening and arrive in the early hours of Saturday in a nation I have loved from afar and vicariously through centuries of media.

My brother and I make the move, and my parents are going with us to help with the settling in process. My mom was given a rather thoughtful gift by a friend from work that coincides nicely with this trip. Its a deck of large flash cards that are all walking tours of London. Easy and short trips that take you past historic landmarks, eateries, and other assorted fun little ways to indulge an afternoon in London. It'll be fun to see some of the things on the cards, and they'll be a great source of ideas when I'm alone for the next three months, as my brother begins school on Oct. 6th and I'll be without his company over 10 hours a day, 6 days a week. Kinda nice, isn't it.

I have plans to seek out Sherlock Holmes' fabled abode, a Post Office I'm told, in order to send a photo to my grandfather. I'm excited about doing early Christmas shopping on Charring Crossroads in and among the old book shops.

Living in one of the world's most prominant cities will prove a challenge and a character building change of life. I hope to enjoy myself and make no waves as I don't see the British or their country as a nvelty, rather I respect and long to be apart of such an important culture.

Cheers, as they say, and see you soon.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Savage Steve Holland

Today marks a momentus occasion. I completed the Savage Steve Holland Collection of Feature Films. While maybe not an amazing feet to some, I found Holland's last feature How I Got Into College for $4.99. WHAT A DEAL! Its apparently a bit rare but worthless. Most people know Steve Holland as an animator, and my own generation would recognize his style as that which brought EEK! THE CAT to life every Saturday morning.

Savage Steve Holland holds a higher place in my mind than just EEK and the Thunder Lizards spin off. I attribute my sense of humor, love for random out of context jokes, gags and incites to his film ONE CRAZY SUMMER. Its one of the funniest films ever made.

Previous to this film, Holland wrote a directed one of the 1980s most favored cult films, BETTER OFF DEAD. Both this and ONE CRAZY SUMMER feature John Cusak as the leads in world filled with weirdos and psychos. I want my two dollars back indeed.

Savage Steve also directed the highly influencial kids TV series Encyclopedia Brown Boy Detective, based on the popular children's mystery novels. He brought his signature charm to this project and I think him.

I tip my hat to you Savage Steve, and heres hoping one of these days you make me roll with laugher again by making another film.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Male Romantic Comedy

There are so few of these, movies that are by definition Romantic Comedies or Romantic Dramas but feature men as the leads and deal largely with the male point of view. These are some that I've really enjoyed. As you'll notice The Last Kiss will be on the list, that's because it spawned this list.

1. The Graduate
2. Beautiful Girls
3. Annie Hall
4. Garden State
5. The Last Kiss


Anyone have recommendations?

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Last Kiss



The Last Kiss

Directed by:Tony Goldwyn
Written By: Paul Haggis
Starring:
Zach Braff
Jacinda Barrett
Casey Affleck
Rachel Bilson

Awake at a bright and early hour, 7 AM to be exact. I was anxious to see The Last Kiss. I was able for the first time in a while to avoid reading a ton of reviews and material and decided that I was going not because someone else told me it was good or not, but because of my faith in Zach Braff. After watching 3 seasons of Scrubs on DVD and loving Garden State Braff entered the realm of artist in my mind, one I trust to go above an beyond the idea of entertaining me. Garden State showed a maturity for a young filmmaker who makes his living performing pratfalls and the trailer for The Last Kiss showed a continued march into elevated subject matter.

The film is a bit of a quandary to me. I can’t remember a time when I was so conflicted about a film. To be clear The Last Kiss is a terrific film. My inner conflict comes in several parts I’m going to try and sift through and figure out here. I’ll start with the easy parts.

I like the film, immensely; I want to see it again, soon if not immediately to see if it holds up. My level of enjoyment is part of the problem. This is a hard film to sit through, not to ruin anything but the film is about infidelity and responsibility. I think here in lays my first problem.

I was excited to see this film. The trailer showed a fun romantic comedy, one with Zach Braff playing a lovable and goofy guy conflicted with settling down. He meets a younger girl and finds a youthfulness that has been lacking. This is what gets me. I don’t know why I thought a film with this subject matter was going to be cute or funny. It has moments like that, but truthfully the film is devastating, heartbreaking, and frustrating. The approach is blunt rather than casual. Cheating on a loved one only hurts everyone around you and yourself. It is wasted effort.

As a movie The Last Kiss has some problems. Several of the subplots are wasted. Why this doesn’t hurt the overall film looking back I really just wanted more resolution for those characters. At this point many of them just seem to have made choices to convenience a movie plot. Braff’s storyline is only part of a whole. The film is at its center about taking responsibility, being a proverbial man. But it is not about taking one on the chin rather doing what is right for you and everyone else, which is why I wish the other characters were given a bit more.

The stand out for me was Casey Affleck. He really pulls off an incredibly sympathetic character. Generally speaking I hate the guys who run out on their wives because “its too hard”. But here, this character seems to be better developed and motivated than Braff’s. Affleck has something here and I can’t wait to see him in something else. In fact, I might run out and get Lonesome Jim this evening.

Rachel Bilson is really cute. I've only ever seen one episode of the O.C., but here she does a good job of acting like the girls I met in college its scary. She really does become kind of frightening in that sexy young entrapment way.

Zach Braff does shine, and bright. This is a bold step. He has chosen a script and played a character that is despicable. While he does manage to win you back a little by the end, he is hardly triumphant and we can still question his future. I was happy that the movie didn't end fully resolved, that instead of telling you the secret to renewing a stricken relationship it leaves you to find your own way and answers. Honestly I believe that all things will get reconciled for the main characters, but nothing will be the same again. And how could it.

I really loved this film. I just wish Paul Haggis should get out of his own way when writing. Some of the dialogue sounds written, by Haggis no less. Its too cute and too preplanned. People don’t talk like that, not even in movies. But at least those signature Haggis lines are few.

I could keep going deconstructing this film, but the bottom line is I loved it and want to see it again.

Grade: A-

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Richard Kelly invaded my love for film in a very specific, frightening, and mind-blowing way. My sophmore year of film school while watching random movies with my friend Sean our evening came to a close. Sean wanted to watch Donnie Darko but was too tired, so he lent me his copy. I was hooked immediately. Incredible song choices, fluid and mature camera moves, intelligent screenwriting were just the tip of the iceburg as the movie was only moments in. But when I heard Frank's "Wake Up Donnie." i nearly jumped through the roof. At that moment I realized that this film was going to be a trip and a half and I would need all my wits to survive it.

Since that vewing I have maintained that Donnie Darko is one of the most important films of the last Decade. Why? Because I've now seen it over ten times, with multiple groups of people and each viewing stimulates intense discussion about physics, time and time travel, phylosophy, religion, and responibility. Not to mention film aestetics and theory. I feel that a film that can stimulate such deep and thoughtful discourse deserves to be called important.

I have since my Darko days been waiting for Kelly's next project. I read every hint of info I could, navigated through the puzzle that was the Donnie Darko website, all in hopes of decoding Kelly's next move. I even sat through the film Domino hoping to see a trace of an artist's thumb print since Kelly penned the screenplay. When Southland Tales was announced I followed it through Canne's abismal screening, and now its indefinate postponement. But, I still had the Graphic Novels to look forward to.

Today I bought the first installment of the Southland Tales Graphics. I just finished reading it and let me tell you, I found it pretty amazing. Little is divulged in this volume, but the tone and the stage are set for one twisted Scifi/phylosophy film. Kelly is a strong voice for a new age of layered and textured science fiction. Its bold and original, something that is hard to find these days.

I know I've rambled a bit here, but after hearing the awful news from Canne I wish I could just see the film because if this Graphic does anything it makes me think that Kelly is on the same wave length I like to travel on and I want to see more of it. Let the nay-sayers say nay, I'll be happy to revel in high brow scifi. At least Richard Kelly is attempting to challenge his audience. I'd rather watch a failed attempt at something interesting and challenging than sit through another dismally shallow Pirates film.

Check out the Southland Tales graphic novels, especially if you liked Donnie Darko. It seems Kelly is looking to expand on the Phylosophy of Time Travel ideas. A worthy effort no doubt.

Originally posted in the Filmspotting forums 13 of August 2006.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Scott, Pilgrim

You don't really know how much you missed someone until they are back in your life. This has been happening a lot to me. I've reaquainted myself with several people from my past, childhood and adolescence.

Firstly, my great friend Scott returned to town on Wednesday. Immediately we fell back into trading music, driving around Winston, and visiting old haunts. By old, I mean the places we went to before he left for summer.

Scott also was nice enough to lend me volumes 1 and 2 of the indi comic Scott Pilgrim. I cannot say enough about these books, and at the $11.95 cover price you won't find a more entertaining deal in town (that is of course if you can land a used copy or something). The comic follows this average slacker, Scott Pilgrim. He is 23 and dating a 17 year old high school girl much to the chagrin of his friends. Then a new flame enters his life, Ramona. She's cool, cute, and Scott's age. But before he can win her heart he has to fight and defeat her seven eveil ex-boyfriends. Yeah, then that happens. Pop culture references abound and only make this gem that much more fun to read. Do yourself a favor and support this book. Not enough indi comics actually are successful in their light hearted endeavors at social commentary and entertainment. Here is one of the few exceptions.

Also a fantastic readdition to my life is my high school Literature teacher, Mrs. Cella. It might be weird to consider a teacher a friend, but its also strange to have a teacher who genuinly liked having discussions with me. She also suffered my love for cinema, and poor spelling ability. So that's cool.

Oh, and to my valiant readers, Alex was right, check out the Postal Service remix of Mushaboom. Its sweet.