So this is Christmas…

December 25, 2010

This Christmas has been extremely rewarding, not just because I got to see my friends and family but also because FUCK YEA, GIFTS!

I’m in such a good mood. Here’s why:

1) Guster’s new album Easy Wonderful! I love Guster; they’re my favorite band and they haven’t put out an album in four years so I was anticipating this for a long time. I’m listening to it right now and it’s making me so happy. Well worth the wait.

2) LOST Seasons 1 & 2! I started watching Lost with my friends at the start of the sixth season and fell in love with it. It instantly became my favorite TV show and I’ve always wanted to go back and watch Seasons 1-5. Now it begins… lucky I’ve got another three weeks of vacation to kill.

3) Inception DVD! Chris Nolan is my favorite director, and always was even before he made The Dark Knight. Inception was an incredible experience for me not only because of how amazingly stylish the movie was, but because of how many jokes came of it afterwards (BWAAAA to name one). I’m glad to have added this epic fragment of my future Nolan collection to the pile.

 

4) Avatar [DVD]! Even though my mom accidentally bought a Blu-Ray disc and didn’t realize that my Xbox 360 can’t play Blu-Ray movies (DUHHH MOM! CAN’T BELIEVE YOU DIDN’T KNOW THAT OMGGG) I was still happy to get this one. Some might knock Avatar saying it’s just eye candy, but I honestly loved everything about it. It was breathtaking; I remember my jaw dropping at every scene change. And now I have it fo’ eva. Except not in 3D. But that’s fine because my life is in 3D anyways and that shit gets old.

 

5) The Hangover DVD! One of the best comedies in recent history. Love it. “SHE’S A NICE LADY!”

6) Gift card to Tenchi Sushi! In an odd turn of events, a sushi restaurant opened up in Bellingham next to Walmart which I’ve been dying to try out. My only experience with sushi is from UMass dining, so I’m curious to try the real deal.

7) Other assorted gift cards for clothes, movie tickets, and fast food. Nothing says Merry Christmas like a gift card to Subway. NOTHING. No legit though, I’m looking forward to those free late-night munchies.

I suppose I should’ve said something about how my greatest gift was life and freedom and love, but FUCK THAT I GOT AWESOME GIFTS. FUCK YEA, CHRISTMAS.

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Review: The Social Network

October 4, 2010

I have to admit, my first thought upon seeing the trailer for this movie was:

“No way. No way are they making a fucking movie about Facebook. That is SO… GAY.”

Perhaps not the most open-minded instant judgement, but I’m sure you understand where I was coming from. Facebook is something I use every day, true, but it’s not something I ever considered to have a history or any great story behind it. I just saw it as some cool fad that was popular now but would eventually fade away, as all things do.

Turns out I was right and wrong.

The Social Network tells the story of Mark Zuckerberg. It starts off mere days before he invents facebook,  chronicling his inspiration for the website and his day-to-day decisions that led to its inception (BWAAA). However the movie itself is told in a non-linear timeline. “Real-time” in the film is based in two separate lawsuit trials in which Zuckerberg is being sued by different people for ownership rights over facebook. As Zuckerberg and the others are going over the case, they recall certain moments concerning facebook’s origins, and those memories become the main timeline of the film.

This non-linear style caught me off guard, and to tell the truth I didn’t know what was happening for the first ten minutes or so. But that wasn’t a failure of the movie, I just I expected to be treated like a child intellectually when I walked into the theater. I incorrectly assumed that since the film’s target audience was people who use Facebook a lot (pre-teens to post-grads) it was going to be dumbed down; stocked with farmville jokes and poke-humor. I was wrong. The Social Network was fantastic.

The acting was superb, even by Jesse Eisenberg who played Zuck. He maintained a stone-face for the majority of the film, smiling maybe three times throughout, but even stone-faced he brought so much emotion out of his character. Interviewers of the real Zuckerberg have noted that he isn’t a very sociable person (how ironic) and Eisenberg’s portrayal of him was spot-on from what I’ve read. Everyone else did equally well; every single character was believable and so very alive; even extras in the background had me convinced.

The dialogue is what got me. Very quick, very clever lines spurted out by Zuckerberg in the very first scene threw me off instantly, and I immediately had to change my level of attention to take in every little quip. The script never faltered, and as I listened I hung on every line, nervous that if I missed one sentence I’d miss something very important.

The story was constantly fascinating and at some points got very emotional, which was impressive since it revolved around such a stolid character. As Zuck and his friends entered situations that grew increasingly stressful the bonds between them all were slowly ripped apart. Their silent rage was portrayed gradually until it manifested itself into the lawsuits that made up the “real” timeline.

All in all, The Social Network is a very smart film that doesn’t bullshit. It tells an emotional story of growth and loss and betrayal and progress with very believable characters (well, they are real) in a fascinating format that keeps you interested the whole time.

I saw the movie for $5, but I would have paid $10.

My Cinematics

September 17, 2010

I think it’d be a good idea to start off this post with a few lines from my Day #1 freshman orientation.

Mike: “Hi, my name is Mike, and my favorite hobby is making films.”

Girl: “What kind of films?”

Mike: “Haha why don’t you come up to my room and find out. I mean… oh shit.”

Legit.

I’ve been around amateur filmmakers all my life, and when I say amateur I mean very amateur. Since I was eight years old I participated in the Video program at FCDC, in which the Video counselors would write short scripts, film campers acting the scenes out, edit the footage, then show the finished video to the entire camp. I was rarely in the videos for multiple reasons, one of them being that every group of campers had fifteen kids in it and it’s difficult to make fifteen roles for every single script, another being that I was an obnoxious child and the counselors at the time probably thought I was an annoying little shit. Which I totally understand now.

The videos weren’t Spielberg’s work, just funny little skits about monsters attacking the camp, or about how the counselors ate too much Taco Bell (a recurring theme throughout the years.) The important part wasn’t the story, it was the thrill of seeing yourself on a big screen in front of the whole camp, and knowing for just a brief moment that you’re a star.

My dad was the program director of my camp, so at the end of the summer he’d get a master copy of each year’s complete camp video. Since I had them all in my house, I’d watch them endlessly throughout my childhood. They were my fascination, these simple little skits. They were a nostalgic reminder of the innocence I felt at that camp. I won’t go into detail, because I know it would do no good trying to explain it, but for a lot of young kids FCDC is like a heaven on Earth; free of judgement, stress, and expectation. I always craved more.

When I was old enough to be a CIT (counselor in training, basically an intern) I was stationed in Video for a week, and witnessed for the first time what it was like to be on the other side of the camera. The job wasn’t as glamorous as I’d built it up to be in my head, but I loved every second of it. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to buy a video camera and try to make my own movies, just like my childhood heroes. Aw.

The first product of my film-making career was a video of myself solving a Rubik’s cube, a task that seems to get less and less incredible as time goes on. It didn’t require much editing since all I did was add a song in the background, so it was a good first video. But I wasn’t happy with just that, I wanted something with a script, something funny and crazy.

And so in my sophomore year of high school, The Sam Conner Movie was born. A crazy three-minute movie-trailer spoof of classic bad-ass cop movies. Again, it wasn’t Spielberg, but it was fun. The movie gained a lot of attention throughout my school, and people wanted more. So when I found the time and resources, I gave them more, with Imaginary (More Than) Friend, the story of a young man who encounters delusional people and finds himself engaged in wacky confrontations. More videos would follow over the next few years, including a highly anticipated sequel to The Sam Conner Movie, which can also be found on my YouTube channel.

No one in Bellingham that I’d ever met had been interested in film before, and despite my amateur status I started to become known for it. Everyone kept telling me how someday I’d be a famous director. There were times when I believed them, but usually I’d just shrug it off as a hobby. That’s all it really was anyways. I reveled in the thrill of bringing my friends together, turning them into people they weren’t, and then editing the footage into a work of art (because no matter the quality, art is art.) It made me feel alive; it was like nothing I’d ever experienced before.

That’s why it seemed so perfect when in the summer before I went off to college, a special opportunity opened up. There was a spot open for a Video counselor at FCDC, and I was finally at the age where I could take a head counselor position. I took the job in an instant, and me and my co-head Kyle spent that whole summer making the skits I’d adored all my life that had inspired me to pick up film in the first place.

If that isn’t the perfect example of a story coming full circle, I don’t know what is.