Archive for Lord of the Rings


Posted in American Values, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 9, 2010 by thenexman

JV and I scribbled down a little list of our favorite Teamwork movies. What is teamwork? “the combined action of a group of people, esp. when effective and efficient.” But beyond that, it’s emotion, love, power, passion, scribbled plans, montages, shotguns, winks and high fives. It’s everything you want in a movie… and by you I mean Jon Velazco and myself. This is our list. I’m not saying it’s the right list, but it is the best one. These are also in no particular order, because teamwork is about the group.

Swiss Family Robinson (1960)-
Family teamwork.  Treehouse.  Hot older mom, hotter seafaring grandaughter.  War against pirates, likable Disney family of characters, and a soundtrack that leaves you gasping for breath.  Biggest selling point- Duke and Turk, the two orphaned great danes left to take care of the family after the ship’s captain, their owner, dies in a storm.  Nay, biggest selling point-monkey butlers. – JV

Dawn of the Dead (2004).
Home Alone
-type mall shenanigans, impending outside threat that makes you want to wear under armour, Ving Rhames with an effing shotgun. No one who goes off alone comes back and everyone moves in packs. They build not one but TWO mobile urban zombie assault vehicles out of school buses and use 5 gallon propane tanks as malahoff cocktails. Unfortunately for Mekei Peiffer, he doesn’t abide by the rules of teamwork and what does he get? A zombie demon baby and a dead wife. That’s what happens. The heat factor’s not too shabby either resting at a solid 7 with that redhead, promiscuous blonde chick and then the lead blonde chick. Plus one of them is a nurse and you know what that means. – MC

Harry Potter 5-The Order of the Phoenix
This one is tough as I have 6, almost 7, movies to choose from but bare with me- Dumbledore’s Army, the DA.  It’s the kind of club I always wanted to start but never could due to my Mugglenessnicity.
The scene on the bridge before they fly to London on the nargles is the best.  Neville calls Harry out and puts him in his place.  ”Just because your parents are dead and you got a cool scar doesn’t mean you can get away with doing all the adventurous shit.”
Despite the reappearance of Cho Chang and her asian persuasions this is the movie that displays the greatest amount of teamwork.  Duels, bands of aurors and bad guys.  Scary stuff which gives me a bloody nose and a boner! – JV

The Sandlot (1993)

I mean let’s get serious. Summer, 1962. America. Karen Allen as your mom. Not only do you have spend your days battling an epic beast in a war of attrition, you also also have time to go to a pool and watch your friend make out the smokeshow lifeguard. The teamwork in this movie is all-encompassing: Erector sets, vaccuum devices, bungie jumps, PF Flyers, complete 9 on 9 baseball, TREEHOUSE, and lots and lots of looking at in the camera and going “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!”
Subpoint – they all chewed the RedMan which means they’re going to be grizzled at shit one day*
* This prior to the 1964 Surgeon General’s report of smoking and tobacco which made it bad for you.
And, to reiterate, WENDY PEFFERCORN. – MC

And I’m not talking about the Lysse family TNT late night edition of this movie.  I’m talking 1990 VHS edition, watching with my parents after we just got done watching Patriot missiles shoot down Saddam’s Scud missiles on the CNN.  Dude that was an awesome time, I wish I wasn’t 7 back then.
This is the greatest movie ever made about under the ground monsters.  The Kevin Bacon and The Fred Ward as Valentine and Earl.  Battling monsters that feel the vibrations when you walk.  Holy crap I’ve soiled myself.  Throw in the Queen of Country and the dad from Family Ties as survivalists (something I can relate to, like I don’t own 180 days worth of boxed meals in a fallout shelter in my house.)
Their last, desperate, attempt to head for the rocks in an earth mover is emotional.
I’ve always thought about having a winner take all battle royale of early 90s monsters.  Basically Tremors’ worms vs Jurassic Park’s raptors.  It’s an interesting thought and probably a SyFy made for TV show in the making. – JV
Firefly + Serenity (2002/2005)
While not strictly a movie, I’d like to cast my vote for this because nothing is more hardass than a war vet. Now, take that war vet, make him angry, give him some money to buy a cargo ship and add in a ragtag group of miscreants and we’ve got the perfect formula for teamwork. I know it’s in the “future,” but the character of Mal is American as shit. I’ll take Zoe at my back with a space shotgun any day. Let’s see, our teamwork factor is pretty much firing on all cylinders:
We’ve got a grizzled leader, hardass second in command, a doctor, a hardass preacher, comedic relief pilot, even more hardass “volatile” heavy weapons guy, Smokeshow high class hooker, smokeshow hottie mechanic, and an emo chick with super powers. They not only fight an oppressive socialist government, but they also fight space-hill people called Reavers by using dead bodyparts and blood to disguise their ship. Included in this series is a duel with swords, a hover craft chase, a train heist, Mal fixing his own ship like a champ with hardly any oxygen, a drug raid on a government hospital, sceezy bar fights, and saving a house of hookers in the wild west. (Did I mention the heat factor in this show is like a Space 10, which is higher than a ten because there’s no gravity). – MC

Sound of Music
Act like I didn’t watch this last Saturday night.  Act like I didn’t sing along. This isn’t your normal teamwork, this is a family affair.  Christopher Plummer, nuns, on the run, careless mischief, learning how to play music and make clothes from curtains.  I tear up just thinking about Liesl and Rolph, that Nazi asshole.
This movie defines teamwork, from the nuns at the abbie to the Von Trapp children.  How else could you perform a seven character puppet show about a Lonely Goatherd?
Then there’s the juxtaposition of Maria versus the Baroness.  Which one would you do?  I’d go with the Baroness because she smokes. I’d watch this movie more, but by halfway through and I’m outside singing Austrian folk songs on my street for quarters and half drank beers. – JV

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001, 2002, 2003)
“But Mike, it’s three movies.” False. It’s one epic work divided in to three digestible thirds in order for your Lemba-starved non-Elvin brain to properly absorb the epicness of the awesomeness. Never in a 12 hour span (because yes, I’ve watched the three extended additions in one sitting) have I encountered so much sword wielding, wizard staffing, leather wrapping, goblet toasting, shield surfing, orc mischiefing, decapitating, non-shaving, animal riding, ass-kickery in any other movie.
Though the original Fellowship breaks at the end of film 1, the teamwork continues through varied relationships and situations, large and small.
The teamwork scenarios are nearly countless, but the topics include –
-Hardass ancient alliances
-Old man wisdom
-Inter-species fellowship
-Inter-species consummation
-Pulling dangling characters up a ledge.
-Staunch negotiations
-Coming out of retirement
-Personal sacrifices
-Drinking games
The entire movie is based on Elvin prophecy fulfillment, which I’m totally ok with. Scratch that, which I live by. I don’t care what the “history” books told you, this is actually how modern day Europe was formed.
The heat factor, while not abundant, maintains a strong 7 rating with its three female reps: Two smokeshow Elves (Galadriel and Arwyn) and a saucy Middle Earth wench by the name of Eowyn.
Don’t even try to debate me how much the Mt. Doom scene between Frodo and Sam rivals Sean Astin’s performance in Rudy. On top of that, every sword in this movie is like 54 inches long. So, barring the existence of a sword machine gun, these are pretty much the coolest weapons on the planet.
If I have one complaint, it’s the lack of metal on the soundtrack. Don’t get me wrong, I shower/workout/shave/make out/ and poop to the current soundtrack, but there are parts, particularly with the Nazgul, that I need the thunderous crunch of an open E-flat and quoting scripture. Eomer (Karl Urban), the head warrior of Rohan, might as well have an Ibanez strapped to his back with that metal hair of his. I like to imagine he plays in a melodic metal band in the off-season called the Rohirrim. I pre-ordered it on iTunes 7 years ago, just in case. – MC

Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Tom Sizemore, Tom Hanks, and Captain Malcolm Reynolds from the before mentioned Firefly awesomeness.
This movie is epic and the basis of a video game franchise that is ALSO based in teamwork and awesomeness.
The first 30 minutes make me want to throw up because I wish I was as badass as any if those true Americans.
No Private Reiben it doesn’t make sense to send eight men to save one man. But it is your duty so you JUST. EFFING. DO. IT.
Vin Diesel’s untimely death to save French people is questionable (as is Frances current retirement age) but I won’t let that stop me from screaming cuss words at the television every viewing.
I like to eat my Sizemore/Hanks/America The Beautiful salad sprinkled with a lot of BARRY PEPPER. – JV

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I & II (1990/1991)
The ultimate expression in reptilian camaraderie. Every single problem is dominated by a four-shelled attack, complete with an arsenal of 20th century quips and quotes. Skateboards? Check. Diversified weapons? Check. Rodent father figure who shakes his head at the buffoonery of youth? CHECK. Not to mention pizza. God help me, the pizza. The early 90’s were all about pizza. And lots of it. (we’ll do a more thorough introspection into this slice of American culture in another article).
Each brought a talent and a personality. Leonardo leads, Donatello does machines. Raphael is cool but crude (give me a break). Michaelangelo is a party dude.This IS the definition of teamwork. Too many foot soldiers? Spin Michaelangelo on the ground like a helicopter. Got a circle of foot soldiers? Use Donnie’s staff as a pivot and proceed to kick outward. Need a plot device? Stir up Raph’s abandonment issues and let him get caught by shredder.
Speaking of shredder, how badass is the fight on the roof at the end of the first one? Or the reincarnation of SUPER SHREDDER after he takes a TGRI-bomb (“shooters!”) and Samson-esquely PULLS DOWN AN ENTIRE WAREHOUSE. But not before the turtles fight inside a night club backed by the musical stylings of Vanilla Ice. It’s cinema magic.
Master Splinter serves as the wise old sage who “practice in his cage for four owa,” and subsequently went on to adopt four 15 year olds and teach them martial arts. Much like that deadbeat uncle you had to spend a weekend with, Splinter makes them clean, only feeds them pizza, doesn’t shower, laments of his past while sitting on the roof and tries to band-aid it all together with a life lesson, but it worked.  Defax audits aside, we have a group of hormone-laced teens who live in a sewer, wear trench coats and fedoras and slip $20 bills through the street grate to get food. Not only could this serve as the plot to the Precious sequel, but it also set the stage for the highest concentration of Halloween costumes this side of the technodrome. Deny that you saw at least one turtle this past Halloween.
While initially resistant, the turtles learned to include others as well. In the first movie, we had resident hockey enthusiast Casey Jones, who was probably just some vagabond with anger issues over getting runner-up for the first season of The Real World. In the second movie, Keno offers his services as pizza boy turned animé ass-kicker and eventually gets the turtles out of bind.
And how about the heat factor in Secret of the Ooze with Paige Turco as April #2? The 8 year old me nearly jumped out of my Ocean Pacific shorts.
Let’s sum up the teamwork factors:
-Synchronized dance fighting
-Cohesive uniforms with a reliance on primary colors for “subtext.”
-Martial Arts skill building with household chores
-A news hottie ally.
-A hot-headed ex-semi-pro athlete who drives a van
-An endless supply of marginally coordinated enemies
-An arch nemesis who dresses like a background dancer on the Rhythm Nation Tour
-The non-lethal use of extremely lethal weapons.
-Gang fights in hideouts made of oil drums
-And the necessary freeze frame fade to credits.
Not only do I still own them on VHS, but I can also still sing the Pizza Hut “I Play Right Field” commercial that plays at the beginning of the tape. But we’ll have to wait for a few minutes, I forgot to rewind it… Hang on… – MC

3 Ninjas (1992)
Rock-y loves E-mi-ly!  Rock-y loves E-mi-ly!”?
That’s right kids, 3 Ninjas, the best of the kid ninja early 90’s supersonic genre.  Better than ninjas kicking back, better than surf ninjas, better than Leslie Nielsen, and definitely better than future telling Gameboy.
Teamwork and its themes run deep in this movie.  From the opening scene of the three heroes battling Grandpa for practice to the climactic battle on the ship.  These three pint sized ninjas have to clean up the mess the FBI can’t handle.  The mess is of course the stoners driving around in the rape van and their crime lord boss.
I love it when bad guys are so inept at being bad that they make you laugh.  The three stoners from 3 Ninjas are probably the retarded offspring of Home Alone’s Marv and Harry.
I will pay anybody a solid gold egg if you can tell me you watched this movie and didn’t immediately go practice ninja stuff in the back yard.
Awesome things about this movie-
clothes-90’s fashion icons
bad guys-greasy haired boss and hysterical minions
story-robust and beautiful
nicknames-creative, but not too creative
grandpa-asian as shit
And finally, there are certain things you will always remember throughout your life.  Things you just know and accept as fact that guide you throughout your life’s journey.  Of course I’m talking about how it is impossible to have a sword/kitanna battle in a ship’s hallway.  YOU CAN’T GET THE SWORD OUT OF THE HILT!

Just simply simple

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2008 by thenexman

Man, the “weariness” is starting to catch up with everyone.  It seems that our assignments have kept us up later than we had hoped.  Yesterday, we had our second acting class, which should have been the third one, but last Monday was Labor Day.  It was fun.  We had worked out lilttle scenes in groups to perform using different action verbs to create the scene.  When you look at acting this way, it dawns on you how much of an art this is.  Some people are just naturally really good at it.  They engage you simply by acting human, and I think that is quite a concept.

I didn’t get to go because we ran out of time.  Next week, I’ll get my shot.  I have a lot of confidence on the little scene Matt and I have to perform.  I want to say the dialogue is taken right out of Sex in the City, which I think our teacher enjoys. Some people in our class did REALLY well with their executions.  Even though we might not all technically be actors, I think everyone inherently has a dramtic nerve they can hit if the right approach is given to them.  Jonthan and Smitha did an awesome job.  It wa s areally heavy scene, all simply by tweaking what verb you decided to use where.  Such as, “Hey how come you didn’t tell me about the club?”  can come across a million different ways just by assigning any number of verbs to it– “Plead, “Accuse,” “Mock,” “Patronize,” “Charm,” “Stalk,” or “Explode.”  Say that line to yourself with a different one of those in mind.  Kinda cool, right?  The exercise wasn’t so much about what you were saying but what your tone and demeanor was saying.  It’s incredibly fun when you hear it.

Beth and Chris did an awesome job too.  I was on the other side of the room, so Beth was facing me and I was able to read her eyes.  It was great.  It dealt with a couple having some sort of trouble and their handling of the conversation was awesome.

Speaking of acting, the FSU film school holds an open casting call in the fall for anyone around town who wants to come audition and get put into our database for the year.  We take your picture and get your contact info, then you go pick from a number of scripts based on your age and gender.  I was in charge of taking pictures.  Dude, this brought some RAISIN CAKES out of the woodwork, for real.  I mean, in dealing with “actors,” you’re always going to have some pinwheels, but good LORD.  Think Tobias x10, for all you Arrested Development fans.

Perhaps a student film I shall seek

Perhaps a student film I shall seek

Some thought they were brilliant, others were so self-concious that they ruined it from the get-go, and some I was surprised even knew how to tie their shoes.  Lots of stage moms bringing kids as young as three.  Lots of older people with probably a lot of free time, which is good, because casting people NOT IN THEIR 20’S is helpful in separated your film from a “student film.”  We had a pretty basic little form they had to fill out on the computers while they were getting their pictures taken by me.  Aside from the fact that they were Macs, people were taking like 20 minutes on something that should have taken five.  I had one guy walk in and say, “I’ve never been online before, what do I do.”  Well, sir, you don’t have to go online to do this.  What he meant was that he had never ever used a computer.  I know what you’re thinking, because I was thinking it, “He’s used it somewhere.”  No, TURST ME…NO WHERE.  This guy spent 30 minutes filling out this form.  When I looked over and realized he wasn’t making much progress, I walked over to help.  He had a pop-up window on the screen because he had clicked out of a field somewhere.  So, this prompt was saying he needed to continue on the previous form and it had a glowing blue “OK” button to close it and keep going.  I told him to click “OK,”…. he pressed the screen with his finger…. no lie.  “Yeah, but Mike, how old was this guy? 50? 60?”  Late 30’s MAYBE.  I was really befuddled.  How does even know how to use an ATM?  I know this sounds mean, but WOW.

I did get a chance to sit in on 2 auditions.  Both of them were older people, a man in his 70’s and a woman in her late 50’s/early 60’s.  They were good.  The dude had prepared monolgues and stuff.  He was kind of kooky, for sure.  I wished I could have been up there whole time!  That was a blast because one person got to read the other part of the script with them.  I love that process.



Sunday night came fast.  I went upstairs to finish my weekend project and edit together the still frames I had shot and, of course, someone from another class was using my “assigned” computer.  This is something that really makes me mad.  The lab has 15 G5’s, all loaded with the exact same version of Final Cut Pro and they’re all linked to the same server.  BUT, we’re not allowed to use any other computer but the one to which we’ve been assigned.  I can’t even save my project on a flash drive and move it somewhere else even though there ARE TWELVE COMPUTERS NOT BEING USED.  This is a really stupid rule, because, as roll of the dice would have it, I have people on my computer that want to use a lot of time outside of school.  Instead, I spent half of the lecture on Monday editing my project.  The editing part isn’t hard.  I’ve been using Final Cut for 5 years.  What’s hard is following the protocol they require everyone to use when they do a project.  Each project has to be labeled the exact same way, saved in very specfic places, and then the projects are turned in a graded.  These tiny little details add up to be extremely frustrating in an already rushed environment.  I was done editing in no time, but following the printouts to correctly organize things, even though I didn’t use 90% of the folders labeled is arduous.  I’ll stop ranting now.

My project turned out well.  I think I did what Reb wanted in terms of having shots that told a story when cut together in a particular way.  We’ll see how it goes when we watch it tomorrow.

Speaking of Reb, we had the strangest email encounter with him on Sunday night.  We all send out questions and comments through the MFA email list, and we were all wondering where this week’s schedule was, we had never received one.  We all made jokes about classes being canceled all week and going to Islands of Adventure, and then Reb emails us the schedule.  It was like when the teacher walks in and you’re like WAY off task.  I sent out an email, to Reb too, about how that was “sufficiently embarrassing,” and then Reb starts sending out existential emails, bating us to engage him in some sort of wordplay.  Keep in mind this is the super-intimidating assistant dean of the film school I had my interview with.  He’s obviously warmed up quite a bit.  We had started by complimenting out classmate, Chris, on taking the intitiative to alphabatize a list of verbs we had.  Then Track 1 started trying to make trade offers to take Chris away from us.  This quickly escalated into Lord of the Rings quotes about “words being poison” and “You SHALL NOT PASS!”  Anyway, NERDFEST 2008, I know, but then Reb emails us and starts trying to get involved.  His emails consisted of things like:

In the midst of darkness
All things seems worth expressing
In the presence of light we second guess
Which is real
Which is truth
Neither light nor shadow
Can define
Only a leap of faith
Lands us on firm ground”

Uhhhhhhh, what?!  What leap of faith?  So a lot of us jumped in and started making up poems, which ended up sounding a lot like LOTR again.  This went on until about 1:00AM.  The next morning, everyone started yelling at Chris, Matt, and me about hwo they woke up with THIRTY FIVE EMAILS.  They were scared they missed something… and oh how they did.

We watched another interview with a screenwriter like the Paul Haggis one last week.  This time, it was David S Goyer (Blade I-III, Batman Begins) and it was awesome.

Goyer-- caught in the act

Goyer-- caught in the act

He seems like a totally cool Dude.  These little interviews are very informative and give you a strong sense of what day to day life is like in the industry.  I decided to just stay at school and finish up all my writing assignments before I went home.  This would save me from burning 45 minutes going home and screwing around before I got back to it. I felt like such a movie character, up late in the film school, lights out, TOILING AWAY on my laptop.  How lame.

Today it seemed like everyone was dragging. Lots of people are sick (I’m totally better, btw).  Producing this morning was lots o fun.  We learned how to break down a script and input it into a scheduling program used in the industry called EP Scheduling. Pretty simple program, but really really helpful.  It breaks everything down by scene, actors, props, fx, locations, etc.  Quite a resource, especially for someone like me who is not detailed oriented… like me.

Dave and I made a ruckus because we kept laughing about stupid stuff, mainly the fact that he named his Production company “Falcon Talon.”  That is the funniest crap ever.  I found a link and started playing it as loud as a could.  Check it out.

So funny.

Then we laughed about that stupid SNL sketch where Will Farrell and Chris Kattan do a storytellers as “Air Supply” and they make up lyrics to that stupid “I’m All Out of Love” song.  Heck, here’s the link:

OH! So we actually lit and SHOT something today in cinematography class.  It was awesome.  We had a dolly set up and everything.  I think I’m starting to get this lighting thing down.  Beth stayed behind and re-spooled the exposed film, she must have been a rock star at it because she was done in no time.  Game Ball, Beth.  Game Ball.

So, lastly, I’ll talk about our “Genres” class for a second.  Obviously, this is the class where all the drama happens.  Each week, a hand full of people are scheduled to start a topic on the class blog for everyone to discuss, MFA’s and BFA’s alike.  I was one of the people this week.  I wrote a blog on how it’s a bit difficult for me to break things down into political motivations, left wing or right wing.  How, sometimes, movies are just as assembling of things meant for entertainment and a profit.  Yes, ideas are funneled through the medium.  Sure, but I was having trouble seeing the political motivations of some of the films we watched.  Apparently a lot of people either agreed or disagreed with me and I had quite a thread of responses.  Out teacher is a younger guy.  Super nice.  He just got his doctorate from USC in a film study of some kind.  He types up a little slip of paper with a grade and a response to our blogs.  WELL, mine was like 3/4 of a page, like 4x times longer than anyone elses.  He handed it to me and said

“I went on a little bit of a rant, nothing personal, but just some thoughts.”  I think I must have pissed him off.  His grade slip said the following–

That my “depoliticizing stance on entertainment is more of a refusal than a reasoned argument.  When you said ‘I don’t think motivations in the film are political at all, they are simply reflecting a mindset,’ I have to ask: is reflecting a mindset not political?…such statements seem to be rooted in dismissing the idea of probing of cultural/politcal dimension of these films; they are statements that seem designed to shut down debate by asserting that these films are just simply simple.”

Kiss Me Deadly-- overtly political, I'll agree

Kiss Me Deadly-- overtly political

WOW, I KNOW, RIGHT?  That was pretty much politely calling me an asshole.  I really didn’t want to undermine his class or the cirriculum he decides to teach.  I was simply stating that, based on the discussions in class, I didn’t see how every movie was somehow a political stance on a particular issue.  Yes, we are influenced by everything around us, so of course films encompass an attitude or tone.  But, I also feel that film is a scavenger’s art, one that assembles thoughts, moods, ideals, puns, characters, jokes, and whatever else trickles in to the making of a movie.  It’s the most collaborative of art forms and the whole reason they exist is for…PROFIT.  It’s a business.  Yes, movies have messages, but in something like Film Noir and the movies from the 40’s and 50’s, our generation is so far removed from them, that I almost felt as though we were assigning meaning to things more than what the filmmakers even realized.  That was all.  I hope I didn’t offend him.  But I’m certainly hanging up this piece of paper on my bulleton board.  He gave me a B-, btw.

If you’re interested in reading some more of the post, then you can see it here on our class blog:

I’m sure I lost about 90% of you somewhere up top, but here’s to you all who finished.  This is just as much a part of my film school journey as anything else.  I feel things starting to ramp up and I’m becoming attracted to the things I have a knack for, ie, Writing, directing, and editing.  We’ll see if this narrows.  Hope all is well in your land.  I guess I’ll try and catch up on some sleep since we got out of Genres really early tonight.

Ya’ll behave.