Tuesday, March 27, 2007

San Francisco Values

No blog this week.

I just got back from a five day vacation in San Francisco, California, which is likely to be the last I'll have in quite a while. Fear not. Good times were had, and I'm refreshed and renewed. We'll return to your regularly scheduleed blog next week.

Carry on as you were.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"Let's All Go to the Lobby"

There's so many different things going on this week, I don't even know what to write a blog about, so I'm going to write about two awesome movies I've seen.

Things are moving well with Women's Studies. Some may say the good vibes are due to the official greenlight and the big casting announcement we made last week. Me? I think it's because I've gotten back to the movie theatre. I've seen two movies in the theatre in as many weeks.

There was time in my life when I hit the movie theatre every weekend. It didn't matter what was playing, I went to see something. Double features were more the norm than not. A Saturday triple feature while it didn't happen often, happened quite a lot. Then a couple years ago, something changed. I stopped going to the cinema. You could chalk it up to getting married or turning thirty. I think part of it was that I started making movies myself which is a pretty time consuming process.

Another part of it was the movies. Where I live, the multiplex is all I really got. If I want to get to the art theatres showing the groovy independent and foreign stuff, I have to drive thirty miles. So, if I want the theatre experience, I have to take what the studios give me, and for a couple of years there, the studio offerings got to be pretty bad. Last fall, they started to get better and I found myself wishing I had a little more time to get to the theatre. (I'm trying to catch up with stuff on DVD. Hollywoodland, The Prestige, and The Departed are all currently on my short list.)

Anyway, the last two movies I've seen in the theater have been absolutely fantastic, and it's making want to pick back up my old movie theatre habit. Those films were 300 and Behind the Mask, The Rise of Leslie Vernon.

300, in case you've been off the planet, is the tale of three hundred Spartans who hold off what seems to be millions of of Persian soldiers. It's supposedly based off a real event, but forget about historical accuracy. This film is pure fantasy, and to me, it's the best part of it. It's a ride form beginning to end, visually stunning, action packed, and totally viscerally engaging. I think some critics were put off by the fact that the filmmakers made it look a lot like the Frank Miler graphic novel it's based on, but I think that was the point. All I know is that I had an absolute blast. I walked away from that movie wanting to learn to swordfight and do three trillion crunches.

The other movie I saw was Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, and maybe I only loved it because in my youth, I was obsessed with 80s slasher films. Long story short, a documentary filmmaker follows a killer in the mold of Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers as he prepares for his slaughter. It's hilarious as the killer talks about his exercise program, his methodology, and basically deconstructs the elements of the slasher film. Then in the film's final third as the killer's rampage begins, the filmmakers become characters in the film. At that point, the film switches visual formats and becomes a true slasher film. I might add it's a damned scary one at that. Somebody called the Behind the Mask "a gift to horror fans" and it is. Boy is it.

Okay, that's all. Back to work.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Senatorial Debate

First, the big news:

Judith O’Dea, who played the iconic role of “Barbara” in George A. Romero’s 1968 horror classic, Night of the Living Dead, has signed on to play Senator Gayle Hamlin in Women’s Studies.

Allow me to take a moment and totally geek out.

. . .

There. Much better.

Judith O'DeaO'Dea's character, Gayle Hamlin, is A U.S. senator whose party affiliation has conveniently been made ambiguous. (Who wrote this movie?) She's strong willed, a fighter who's passionate and believes that the world can be made a better place.

"Kind of like Hillary, right?"

Well, not exactly, though that's the comparison everybody wants to make. I don't want to get too political here. I like Hillary a lot. I think she exhibited class, dignity, and poise during Bill's embarrassing "interlude." I also think she has the ideas, drive, and thick skin it takes to lead this crazy, beautiful nation I call home. Plus, I'm of the mind that some positive feminine energy in our leadership is exactly what the world needs. However, there's something mildly androgynous and a little fake about Hillary that rubs me the wrong the way. Like she's a Stepford Wife programmed in 1994, except instead of being the perfect housewife, she's the perfect mouthpiece for her (male) political and (male) corporate overlords. Maybe I'm wrong. I hope I am. Only time will tell though, right?

I liken the character of Hamlin more to someone like Ralph Nader, who's been down in the trenches trying to clean the system up. Politically, Hamlin is championing causes that a lot of her fellow politicians simply could care less about. In Hamlin's case, they are issues of women's rights. Also, Hamlin has been diagnosed with breast cancer and a lot of her colleagues think she's washed up politically.

Additionally, Hamlin is also mentor to the heroine of Women’s Studies, Mary (Cindy Marie Martin). Mary has been interning under Hamlin while getting her Masters degree and is prepped to join her staff full time. However, though Mary believes in Hamlin's ideals, she has some fear that her alignment with Hamlin may jeopardize her own burgeoning political career.

You'll remember from previous blogs that at the beginning of the film, Mary is caught between wanting to continue her political work for Hamlin and acquiescing to the desire of her boyfriend, Zack, to settle down and start a family. Hamlin is one of Mary's possible futures, and the first one the audience is exposed to in the film. She's everything Mary wants to be and is afraid of being.

It's a vital role in that Hamlin's presence is felt even when she's not on screen. So it seemed appropriate that we cast someone with a commanding presence. Judith O'Dea fits the role perfectly.

I could rattle on about Night of the Living Dead, Barbara, and the influence that character has on not just the women of Women's Studies but ALL horror movie heroines, but I think it's simply an understood part of the equation at this point. That we still talk about it today is all the proof you need that O'Dea's performance in that film was of the highest caliber.

O'Dea is still an amazing actress. If you don't believe me, pick up a copy of Jason Paul Collum's October Moon in which O'Dea plays the conservative matriarch of a married man who suddenly realizes he's gay. She only has a few scenes but they're gripping, with all the intensity, vigor and passion she had in her twenties, perhaps even more so because those traits are tempered with experience and wisdom.

"They're coming to get you, Barbara?" I think these days Barbara is ready.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


No real blog this week because so much is happening all at once right now.

Women's Studies has the official greenlight to begin principal photography in July of 2007. We at Ningen Manga Productions are extremely excited to be able to make this announcement. Productions details as well as casting and location news will be eeking out over the next few weeks and months, some here in the blog, some over at our webiste, www.WomensStudiesMovie.com. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with a picture of me and "Jason" himself, Kane Hodder, that was taken this past weekend at the Horrorfind Covention in Baltimore, Maryland. Some of you may find the fact that the Friday the 13th movies are such a huge influence on me kind of scary and sad, but I wear my love of those films as a badge of honor. Still, meeting the guy who scared the hell out of me when I was a kid was a wild experience. I almost wet myself. In fact, I think I did a little.

Jason Killed Me!