Our Oscar Theme Summer (Part 2)

dmbBefore I get to the films my wife and I watched as we continued our Oscar summer (which I first talked about here), I want to go off on a tangent… about Dave Matthews Band. This has no real point and doesn’t relate at all, it is just a tangent.

Here we go… A few weeks ago my wife and I saw DMB in concert, it was her first time seeing them in concert, it was my fourth. It feels like every time I go to see Dave, it is to remind myself why I don’t like seeing him in concert. Oh, I am not talking about him or his band (they are great and I will always be a fan; I own every CD), but I just really dislike the audience that follow him.

See, my wife and I came to see Dave and his band perform, but I couldn’t say that was true for a majority of the people around me.

For them it was a party with drinking, drugs, loud talking and laughter. The fact that a band was on stage giving their all didn’t even register with them. Seriously, it all felt so disrespectful for the band that they supposedly love. And let me clarify, this wasn’t just in our section of the audience, this was everywhere. Heck, the “party” atmosphere started before the band even entered the stage.

I get the whole tribal thrill of following a band like many of these people do, feeling part of a community, but I came to hear a show, see an artist I love, I didn’t come to bump into old friends or play the bongos (yes, someone had the bongos near us).

I’m sure in a few years, I’ll attempt to see Dave again and I will be reminded of this all over again. It’s what I do, but I am disappointed. And I’ve spent my days since seeing the concert listening to my CDs (including some of my live CDs) wondering about what could have been… All of the shows can’t be that bad, right? Argh, I’m doing it again.

Like I said, this was a tangent and has nothing to do with the point of this post.  It was just frustrating, and I had to get it off my chest.

Where was I?

Oh yeah, Oscar movies, round two! Enjoy! Continue reading

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Are the Oscars Really Necessary? (2013)

I always wondered why the sword...I wrote this post last year about the Oscars called Are the Oscars Really Necessary? This is how the post begins:

The Oscars always make me feel a little queasy. Award shows in general around the arts make me feel that way.

Oh, I’ve won some writing awards (it’s the reason why my books MY PROBLEM WITH DOORS and MEGAN were published- they were both honored in a writing competition), and was very grateful, but it still feels odd to me. I have no problem telling someone that a story they have is great, for example, or another writer that their story needs work, but to say one is better than the other… there is that queasy feeling again.

You can read the rest of the editorial here.

As I stated in the editorial, awards around the arts always make me feel a little uncomfortable… but… in saying that… I hope Argo wins.

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Crazy and Magical Grandfather

I remember the thought I had when I spied my first glimpse of a picture of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Grandfather?

There he was, the professor, a chubby old man, white balding hair and a pipe in what looked like an old and battered brown suit. Yes, he looked like a grandfather to be honest, but… there was this spark in his eye. I couldn’t put my finger on why I thought this, but there was power in that spark.

It’s hard sometimes when you consider the sheer mass of creativity to link the image of the man to the creation. The creator of Treebeard, Gandalf, and Bilbo looks like he could be at your local grocery store, waiting in line by you at the Pharmacy, complaining about the rising prices of bananas, just an average senior citizen. Yes, I am doing him in an injustice by talking about his image in this fashion, but you would expect that someone with that incredible amount of imagination would have something that would, well, make him stand out in a crowd.

Shouldn’t someone like that sparkle? Continue reading

Rewatching Sunset Boulevard: A Struggling Writer’s Nightmare

I have always been a fan of classic movies. While it may sound almost cliché to say this but Casablanca is my favorite film of all time. Period.

And while I love the film and watch it yearly, it was another black-and-white film that has influenced me more with the decisions I have made around my writing career.

That film is Sunset Boulevard. I have seen the film three times. The first time was before I moved to Los Angeles to try my hand as a screenplay writer, the second as a student at the University of Southern California, and the third a few days ago.

Sunset Boulevard (not the musical) is the 1950 classic written and directed by the genius Billy Wilder. It stars Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond a rich forgotten silent movie actress and William Holden as Joe Gillis, an out-of-luck writer who happens by chance into her life.

Now when most people think of Sunset they latch onto the character of Norma. It’s not surprising really, it is an amazing performance and—just like in A Streetcar Named Desire with Blanche—we watch this interesting character be driven more and more into madness by her own delusions. Her performance was nominated for an Oscar (as was the director, the picture, and most of the rest of the main cast; it won for best screenplay), and rightfully so. It’s hard to look away when she is on the screen.

But for me, when I think of Sunset Boulevard I always focus more on Joe Gillis, our unlucky writer. Continue reading

Are the Oscars Really Necessary?

The Oscars always make me feel a little queasy. Award shows in general around the arts make me feel that way.

Oh, I’ve won some writing awards (it’s the reason why my books MY PROBLEM WITH DOORS and MEGAN were published- they were both honored in a writing competition), and was very grateful, but it still feels odd to me. I have no problem telling someone that a story they have is great, for example, or another writer that their story needs work, but to say one is better than the other… there is that queasy feeling again. Continue reading

Does Art Need Truth? My Concerns With The Social Network

A new editorial on film is up at www.greenspotblue.com.  Here is an excerpt from the beginning:

In 2006, when Oprah attacked James Frey about his book, A Million Little Pieces, many of us in the arts stood behind her in the attack.  It was deserved. He was changing his life, not only to increase the drama, but to make something more of himself than was actually true. Oprah said she felt “really duped” and went on to talk about how he betrayed millions of readers.

That episode in literary history haunts me and begs the question when the subject of a story is still living, who owns that story? Who owns that life? And who is to say what changes can be made for the sake of a book or a movie?

In 2002, the Academy awarded A Beautiful Mind with an Oscar for Best Picture. A film based on the life of John Nash; and, like A Million Little Pieces, changes were made in the life of Nash for the sake of drama. At the time, I remember reading the book that the film was based on and being floored by the differences in the main character and his life. Yet, instead of questioning his writing integrity in an Oprah-attack fashion, the Academy decided to award Akiva Goldsman for these changes with a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar.

Now it is 2011, and we are still unclear about what is acceptable to do around a living person’s biography. This year, one of the frontrunners for the Best Picture Oscar is The Social Network, and again moments in living people’s lives were changed for the sake of drama.

You can read the rest of the editorial here.