29 December 2008

All Things Are Possible

Hanukkah and Christmas may be over for this year, but one can still maintain a commitment to hope. Right now many people are doing this by making new years’ resolutions. By setting goals we strengthen our hope because that shows we have faith in it. This is the way to extend the season of miracles throughout the year.

22 December 2008

The Season of Miracles

This is the season of miracles. The Jewish tradition of Hanukkah (the Holiday of Lights) commemorates the time when a small amount of oil lasted eight days and kept the light in the temple from going out. Christmas celebrates the coming of the “Light of the World,” God in human form: Jesus.

I have been watching my share of Christmas movies on Hallmark Channel and Lifetime Television. Each of the stories entails the theme of miracles. A family that usually does not celebrate Christmas has a stranger come into its life who introduces everyone to the glory of Christmas; a single woman who has had a negative experience with dating swears she is content without a steady companion suddenly meets and falls in love with a man who is just right for her; or a tragedy occurs in the life of someone who does not want to observe Christmas eventually experiences something, like an epiphany, and chooses to embrace the holiday, managing to inspire others.

I hope these stories do not seem too sentimental to you. I like them. I think we need them. Just as Emily Dickinson has written:

“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all.”

That is just the first stanza of her poem, “Hope is the Thing with Feathers.” She personifies hope, giving it a life of its own, which makes me think that hope is something we should welcome. Hope is what can keep us alive, especially during this difficult time when so many have lost their homes and jobs. In the midst of those unfortunate circumstances, one can still hold on to hope, and believe this is the season of miracles.

17 December 2008

Internet Social Networking

It seems Internet social networking sites are becoming more popular. I am even connected, and have been able to keep up with my busy friends through these sites. If you are on LinkedIn (professional networking), Plaxo, or Facebook you may connect with me so we can keep up with each other as well. Right now I am talking with people about my book, GROWING PAINS – 10 short stories about growing up. Please visit my Web site at http://www.tdaentertainment.com to read descriptions of the stories and see places where you can buy the book. We are also selling THE TWO SISTERS on DVD and via streaming VOD, as well as collectible items. If you are not on any of the above mentioned networking sites, the TDA Entertainment Web site has a Guestbook you may use to post comments.

10 December 2008

Slumdog Millionaire

I saw the movie SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE last night. I thought it was a fun story. Everyone who worked on this movie did a great job.

SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE is a very unique film, and is particularly refreshing because it has a mostly Indian cast and was made in India. The story is about two brothers, “Jamal” and “Salim,” who live in the slums of Mumbai. One day a group of men raid their community, killing many people, including “Jamal” and “Salim’s” mother. The two boys run away, and a young girl named “Latika” follows them. “Jamal” immediately makes a connection with “Latika.” As the result of some unfortunate events, “Latika” is separated from “Jamal” and “Salim.”

I am not going to tell you what happens next. Some of what I have already stated may explain the “slumdog” part of the title. As for the word “millionaire” being in the title, several years later “Jamal” goes onto the television game show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire? (Hindi version). He does not desire to be rich, but goes onto the show hoping “Latika” is watching and they can be together again. “Jamal,” played by Dev Patel, is charming in the game show scenes.

The movie is adapted from the novel, Q&A by Vikas Swarup. The cast is fantastic and I loved the music. I wish more movies like this were made.

There are predictions that Dev Patel may be nominated for a 2009 Academy Award for his performance, Danny Boyle may be nominated for directing, and SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE may receive a nomination for Best Picture (along with the exceptional THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON). I sure hope it happens, as the recognition is deserved.

The Visitor

THE VISITOR is a movie I saw during the summer that I thought was awesome. I have recently learned that 2009 Academy Award nomination predictions are being made for actors Richard Jenkins and Hiam Abbass. This is good news because both performances were fascinating.

THE VISITOR is about a widowed college professor (Richard Jenkins) in Connecticut who is told to attend and speak at a conference in New York City. When he arrives at his apartment in New York, a man named “Tarek,” played by Haaz Sleiman, and his wife “Zainab,” played by Danai Jekesai Gurira, are living in it. They are more startled than he is. He realizes they will be homeless if he makes them leave, so he invites them to stay in the apartment with him.

In an even more unprecedented twist, the three of them gain respect for one another and become friends. “Professor Walter” learns that “Tarek” and “Zainab” may be deported because they are not U.S. citizens; when Tarek is arrested “Professor Walter” visits him and develops a special friendship with his mother (Hiam Abbass) who comes to New York City after not hearing from her son in a while.

As usual, I will not tell you how this ends. I think THE VISITOR is a special movie that is well-paced. The characters are real people and the direction by Thomas McCarthy (who also wrote the screenplay) is fine (as in sharp, polished, and refined). THE VISITOR is an independent movie that I watched at an independently-owned movie theatre. Please support independent film.

04 December 2008

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Last night I attended a VIP screening of THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON, starring the very talented Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, along with remarkable performances by Julia Ormond and Taraji P. Henson. I really liked this movie and recommend it, so I will not give too much away. The diversity and realism of the well written, multi-dimensional characters certainly captivated me.

THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON has more class than I have seen in films for a long time. By class I mean the story is complex, advanced, and respects the viewer’s intelligence. The movie is based on a short story written by F. Scott Fitzgerald and opens in theatres on Christmas Day. I hope you check it out.

22 November 2008

The Two Sisters

Some friends and people who meet me are surprised I wrote THE TWO SISTERS because they think it is dark. Just today I told someone that my book, GROWING PAINS – 10 short stories about growing up, is totally different from THE TWO SISTERS, so I guess I am just versatile. Storytelling of any kind has always fascinated me; I was the kid in school who loved when the teacher read to the class. I guess that is why I read to my students now.

During the writing process for THE TWO SISTERS, I learned a lot about bipolar disorder, including how it affects people who have it and the people around them from the film's consultant, psychologist Charlotte Houston, Ph.D. Not all bipolar people are violent, but being the reasonable person that I am it made sense to provide a reason for having the two sisters be angry and subconsciously seeking vengeance for how their mother died. Celeste Yarnall, who plays “Nurse Louise,” suggested that I include an illness and she was correct. It made the story more realistic and I received two award nominations for the script. Celeste (http://www.celesteyarnall.com/) used to manage screenwriters, so I kind of thought it would be a good idea to follow her advice.

Thank you for the feedback. I love creativity and embrace the gift I was given. I plan to write many more stories that will intrigue.

21 November 2008

Friday the 13th: The Series

This week it was announced that CBS DVD and Paramount Home Entertainment will release Friday the 13th: The Series – The Second Season on February 10, 2009 (the First Season was released on September 23rd). The series originally aired in first-run syndication in the U.S. for three seasons from September 1987 through May 1990.

For some of you this may not be important news, but I absolutely love Friday the 13th: The Series. I think the program is misunderstood by people who may not have ever watched it because of the title. I am sure many folks assume it is the same as the FRIDAY THE 13th films, when in fact, the two are very different.

Friday the 13th: The Series is about two cousins, Micki and Ryan, who inherit an antique store full of cursed objects from their Uncle Lewis, whom they have never even met. At first they are not aware that the antiques are cursed and sell many of them. Then they meet Jack, who originally collected many of the antiques for Uncle Lewis before they were cursed, and he informs them about a pact Uncle Lewis made in exchange for wealth. In each episode Micki, Ryan, and Jack hunt for the cursed antiques that Micki and Ryan sold. Initially, Micki just wants to hurry and find everything so that she can go on with her life, but over time something special happens: Micki, Ryan, and Jack become very close friends.

While watching the series, it is enjoyable seeing the relationship develop between Micki, Ryan, and Jack. The stories are well written and the actors are wonderful: Louise Robey as “Micki,” John D. LeMay as “Ryan,” and Chris Wiggins as “Jack.” I even think the music is great, and they always had excellent performances from actors making guest appearances on the show.

Since this series often featured stories regarding the occult, it turned off some people who felt that it was too dark. However, I am walking in the light and liked watching this show because the ultimate goal was for good to overthrow evil. Micki, Ryan, and Jack had love for mankind and felt responsible enough to put their lives on the line to help others by collecting the cursed objects and placing them in a sealed vault.

If you like suspense, mystery, and horror you will probably enjoy watching Friday the 13th: The Series. Maybe you will decide to purchase the DVDs of the series or watch it on the cable channel Chiller. Let me know if you are aware of other ways to watch the show (e.g. if you live outside the U.S.).

10 November 2008

What Just Happened

Yesterday I saw the movie, WHAT JUST HAPPENED, starring Robert De Niro, and liked it. It showed a few days in the life of a Hollywood producer (De Niro). Robert De Niro’s performance was superb, and probably the reason why I enjoyed this movie, which is based on a book, about the film industry.

De Niro’s character produced a movie starring Sean Penn, and the studio disliked the ending. Immediately following a test screening of the film, he was told by a studio executive that he had to change the ending or the studio would take the movie out of the Cannes Film Festival. As a result, the producer had the arduous task of imploring the writer/director to change the film’s ending. Meanwhile, he was dealing with the emotions of a teenage daughter from his first marriage, struggling with the notion of getting back together with his second ex-wife (Robin Wright Penn), and getting celebrity Bruce Willis to shave his “Grizzly Adams beard” and lose weight so that he looks like a movie star, for the next film he is producing.

WHAT JUST HAPPENED may intrigue some even more about heading to Hollywood to start a career in the film industry, but on the other hand, it will probably just confirm to others why they are not working in Hollywood. Independent filmmaking has become extremely popular because an independent filmmaker does not deal with studio notes or test screenings, is not told to change the ending of his or her masterpiece, and may not be dealing with movie star egos because the budgets cannot afford them. However, it is mentioned in the movie that De Niros’ character’s movie is an official selection at Cannes Film Festival, even though the judges only watched 10 minutes, because it has big stars in it.

It is important to note that WHAT JUST HAPPENED, directed by Barry Levinson, is an independent movie I watched at an independently-owned movie theatre. WHAT JUST HAPPENED had a very high budget ($25 million), and that places it on the upper-end of the independent filmmaking world. The majority of independent filmmakers do not have budgets over two million dollars. But, at any rate, please support independent movies.

06 November 2008

Book Lovers Book Signing

The November 1st book signing for my novel, GROWING PAINS – 10 short stories about growing up, was extraordinary! Family, friends, and fans attended the book signing at Book Lovers Bookstore in Sacramento on a rainy day. I really appreciated the support everyone provided. Thank you all for visiting with me at the event and buying my book.

05 November 2008

03 November 2008

Ron Millkie Dedication

My friend, Ron Millkie (http://www.officerdorf.com/), has suggested I start a Blog. As a result, I dedicate this first entry to him. Many of you know Ron is an actor ("Officer Dorf" in FRIDAY THE 13th) and acting instructor.

Ron made an appearance in my first feature film, THE TWO SISTERS. I thought his performance was great, and working with him was a wonderful experience. Ron was extremely professional, and also very humorous. On our day off we even hung out together.

Ron: Thank you for the idea to create this Blog. I will do my best to make it interesting. I hope you and others enjoy reading. Everyone: Please feel free to send comments and/or ask questions.

I hope you are able to check out our movie: THE TWO SISTERS. The DVD is available at IndieFlix (http://www.indieflix.com/FilmDetail.aspx?tid=14652&name=TheTwoSisters) and you can stream it on your computer at Eye Soda (http://www.eyesoda.com/film/8). We definitely need your support, as my production company, TDA Entertainment, is independent. We want to make more great films for you, so please support independent film.

Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse

Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites are located in Victoria, B.C. in the Colwood community. They are two miles (th...