January 24, 2013

Lightsaber-rattling with J.J. Abrams

Nice fake-out, J.J
Now, a few thoughts:

  • more so that Star Trek, Star Wars is a space opera.  In my humble opinion, "grandeur" is the key aesthetic sensibility.  Widescreen.  Very large depth of field.  Very steady camera work so you can actually drink in the spaces.  NO lens flares.
  • The world of Star Wars is actually very old.  In many ways, it's a historical epic.  Since the world has largely been in disrepair in the original trilogy, I'm guessing the new trilogy should show a renaissance.  I think of Europe in the 60's, twenty years removed from the great war.  Lots of rebuilding and construction.
  • Inevitably, someone in this new Jedi order is interested in more power.  I'd like to see the origins of a new Sith.
We'll see if I'm right.

January 22, 2013

Opposite Ends of the Mall

From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. asked America a question.

And, as he spoke the response echoed against the vast canyon walls of human history.


God loves poetry.

January 16, 2013

Thinking About Walt

I've made my creative bones over the years largely writing about very dark, scary, gruesome things.  One of the things I've always felt about the horror genre is that it's that rare story that can encapsulate the full range of every emotion - fear, love, hate, surprise, suspense, disgust, triumph.   But, as I've recently spent more time looking at the work of Walt Disney, I have to make a concession:

Even the full range of great, dark stories still have a cloud that hangs over them, by design.  And, while they have their place and serve an important purpose, Darkness, in the end, has only one shade.  Light contains the full spectrum.

Just a thought, but maybe those of us who mine the dark corners should peek a bit more often into the more brightly lit spaces.  In some ways, it requires more courage than lurking in the shadows.

January 09, 2013

Review: Lawrence of Arabia

There are some movies that you just take for granted that they're supposed to be great, but that most people have probably never seen, let alone seen in a theater.

Lawrence of Arabia is one of those films.  I consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity to actually catch it on the big screen for the very first time over 10 years ago at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood as part of the American Cinematheque's 70mm Festival.

What was really amazing to me is just how utterly, overwhelmingly beautiful this film is as a purely visual, cinematic experience.  The size of the canvas, the sheer scale of the storytelling, yet the exquisite, meticulous attention to detail in every frame is just breathtaking.

So breathtaking that, honestly, I really had no idea what was actually happening in the movie.  I had no idea and, frankly, I didn't even care because I was enjoying the experience of the cinematic journey so much.

But, at the end of the day, I'm a storyteller, and it always nagged at me that I didn't actually get the story of such a great film.  So when the opportunity came up again to watch it on cable (albeit with my beautiful but not quite as grandiose HDTV), I lept at the chance.

Now, if you only watch the first half of the movie up through the intermission, it's this incredibly uplifting tale about how one man was able to challenge convention to achieve amazing results and possibly remake a world for the better.

 Very typical, Oscar-worthy fare.  Very inspirational.

But if you stick around long enough to watch the end of the film, I gradually began to realize that it's actually a much more sophisticated story about the hubris and self-delusion inherent in the colonial system, and how even the most well-intentioned colonialist is still a supremacist.  To see T.E. Lawrence brought so high as to be nearly deified, only to be literally thrown face-first into the bloody, mud-filled pit he'd dug at the bottom of his own soul is really surprisingly deep and moving today for a story so large.  The journey is very deep and personal, while at the same time magnificantly broad and grand.

A great, complex movie.  Oh, for the days.

David Lean clearly knew what he was doing and saying about his own home country, and I applaud him, Peter O'Toole, and their whole team.  We should all be so bold in our storytelling.

Video of the Moment - 01-09-13

January 04, 2013

Daily Nerdgasm - 01-04-13

January 03, 2013

Picture of the Moment - 01-03-13

"Lincoln" reads Lincoln in The Lincoln

The Future? It's yours.

As 2013 is getting underway I'm drawn to consider all of the different ways people talk about how they're going to change their lives, bring in new things, turn over new leaves, etc.

My word of advice? If you want to have something you've never had before, you have to DO something you've never done before.

It would seem simple and obvious, but I suppose I shouldn't be shocked by how many people act like Jerry Seinfeld in "The Bee Movie".

And the operative word in my first piece of advice is "DO".  It's so easy to fall under the spell of things like the so-called "Law of Attraction".  After all, what could be more seductive than a philosophy that tells you that you just need to pretend that you have something to get it, and if you didn't get it, you just weren't pretending hard enough.  I can tell you from personal experience that I wasted years of my life vibrating but not actually going anywhere.  Yes, we're spiritual beings having a physical experience, but my life didn't start to become more prosperous until I got off my duff (with a nice assist/kick in the arse from my wife - thanks, sugar).  If you want physical things, you have to perform physical deeds.

My next word of advice? Never take advice from someone who's made their primary fortune giving people advice.  It means that the best thing they know how to do is give advice.  So, unless you're planning on getting into the professional advice-giving business (which is apparently ridiculously lucrative - just look at the Rich Dad guy, or the people who wrote The Secret), they clearly don't really know much about doing anything else lucrative or useful.  If they did, they'd be doing that.

In my humble opinion, you're better off listening to the words of the people who've succeeded on a path similar to the one you'd like to tread.  As a producer, I think a lot about George Lucas.  As a writer turned director, I look at Francis Coppola.  As an author, I think a lot about Clive Barker.  As an engineer, I study Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey.

My final word of advice?  There are no short cuts.  Period.

If you want to be rich, start a business.  If you want to be fit, join a gym.  If you want to be smarter, crack a book.  Whatever it is you've resolved to do this year, you need to make a blood oath to yourself to do it every day because that's what it takes.

I once heard a story about a high school basketball coach who had a bunch of players who thought they were NBA material.  He took them to Philadelphia to watch a practice by Temple University's varsity basketball team.  The Temple players asked the high schoolers how many practice free throw shots they take in a day.  The kids guessed dozens, many a hundred.  The truth was that they took close to a thousand.  Every day.

And Temple hasn't been to the Final Four since 1958.  Imagine what they do at Duke.

In closing, here's a little pep talk for the mission before us all this year that, given the day today and the speaker, couldn't be more appropriate:

2013 is yours.  Go take it.

January 02, 2013

About The Year That Past

Some truly amazing things happened in 2012 (Obama, Felix Baumgartner, SpaceX, Curiosity, The Dark Knight Rises, Game of Thrones) and some truly horrible things also happened in 2012. But, for me, personally, they all pale in comparison to one singular event.

I got married.

And it was frakkin' awesome.

But not nearly as awesome as her.

If you can feel me smiling a bit more than usual in 2013, that's why.

Happy New Year, folks.  Let's get to it!