There is an ocean of really poor web series out there. But I ain’t here to bore you with what you already know. I’m here to give you the goods. The straight-up premium smack.
Rather than lament on why I think women comedic actors are the funniest – and they are – I’m just gonna highlight three women and their web-series who you should know. Letting their work speak for itself.
Specifically three web-series’ who’s female lead is a complete tool, a fragile novice and finally a 1st class bitch. And all three female actors are terrific ambassadors of web-series comedy.
In order of greatness.
Amy Matysio created and stars in InSAYSHAble this terrific web-series shot in Canada. Saysha Grabinski is a pushing-30 (maybe hit it) train wreck who constantly makes everyone she encounters wonder… what color the sky is her world? Saysha was born without shame which, when you don’t have any real talent to speak of, is a shame. She exudes the definition of insatiable. Someone who is never satisfied. It’s not that she has mounds of success, money and fame and is just striving for more and more. She simply lives in a dreamland as if she does. In one episode, she uses the laundry facilities of an apartment complex she doesn’t even live in and then gets into a fight with a small-fry tenant when she keeps removing his clothes from the machines. Her self-entitlement makes you wish she get’s what’s coming to her. The sad part is, she often does. Matysio delivers a performance filled with not only hilarious righteous indignation but subtle moments of humility. It’s a performance that has garnered the actress multiple awards at various web-series festivals across the continent. ( Most recently in Hollywood where she won best actress and the show was named Best Comedy as well.) Director Jeff Beesley makes perfect use of camera, cast and location. Matysio is surrounded by a great supporting cast of characters. Most notably the lovable and deliciously over-the-top bff, Fran (played perfectly by Christina Sicolli). If this series was ever picked up for broadcast tv, cable or even Netflix – we could be looking at the next Laverne & Shirley. Making all our dreams come true.
Check out the first episode. [1 Season 7 Episodes] (Production Value – 10/10)
Cathryn Mudon just hangs out with Connor Ratliff in I’m Too Fragile For This. And that’s it. The more you watch them, the funnier it gets. Cathryn has a subtle wit and it plays beautifully along with Connor. I can’t really give a proper review because even more than Seinfeld, it’s a show about nothing. Since these episodes are all mostly improvised, Cathryn gets to deliver one of my favorite things about sketch comedy – actors trying not to laugh. I dig it when one actor sort of drops out of it to realize and appreciate the humor another co-star and they are creating. It’s relatable and for a show like this, the charm os it works.
Check out this episode (Production Value – 8/10)
Watching this brings back some horrid memories and a glimpse of what might have been. These relationships are out there everywhere… lurking. We see them sometimes at Starbucks or in line at Chipotle. Very often in the mall or as we sit in traffic and look over at the next car. The psycho girlfriend and her pathetically trapped man-child-friend ready to do battle. Lindsey Reckis as the girlfriend in question is spot on and dangerous. She carries the series and may even haunt your nightmares if you watch long enough. Tommy Savas plays the boyfriend and is good enough to believe someone as good looking as he is would tolerate the life he sentenced himself too. Psycho Girlfriend works so well because it’s not about the ex-girlfriend that usually permeates the web-series world. This take on this personality was ripe for parody, the sad part is that it’s not parody and we all know it to be true.
Check out this season 4 episode here. (Production Value 8/10)
Well, here it is. The first original series from Netflix, that one-time DVD-by-mail service. Unlike their other series, Lilyhammer – which was aquirred after it’s initial run in Norway and the relaunch of Arrested Development – House of Cards is the first series produced directly and solely for Netflix and it’s subscribers. When I think back to the days when I was a subscriber to their DVD-by-mail service, I never imagined they would become a rival to HBO and Showtime. With House of Cards, that is exactly what they are – only better. For my $7.99 a month I now have instant access to a top-notch drama (as well as thousands of other titles) at my leisure and those without Netflix will now be envious of those who have it.
I dumped my cable subscription about 4 years ago. I found I was paying for more rough than diamonds. Now my money, my time and my entertainment is more streamlined and I have since become more productive. If I have to explain to you how that works, I ask that you put down the remote control and step away from the 698 channels on your television all vying for your attention.
We’ve gone from a “water-cooler” world to a “spoiler-alert” world. Meaning, we used to look forward to gathering around the water cooler at work to talk about what we all watched last night on TV because we all watched the same thing. That is simply not possible anymore (expect for sports or other 100% live events). Bring up the latest episode of what you watched last night and you are immediately hit with “SShhhhh, don’t tell me. I haven’t watched it yet.” or “Hello? Spoiler alert! Sheesh.” Ok, back to work then.
In the event you have access to Netflix and quite honestly, if you haven’t then what are you waiting for, get yourself ready for your television’s event of the night or day, or whenever you want. Settle in for a marathon or dole it out in doses like I have been doing. I am going to try and do 2 episodes every sunday night. Only because I know it will end soon and then I won’t be able to relish looking forward to watching another episode. The fact that I know it’s there just waiting for me, is so much more gratifying than waiting for AMC to air the next episode of Breaking Bad. It’s a matter of principle. A matter of controling my own destiny. If I happen to want to leave this computer right now and go watch the next episode of House of Cards, I can. It’s my decision. I know that at some point the season will “end” and I’ll have to wait for Netflix to produce more, but until then… no one else it watching it. I don’t have to worry about not having cable and people asking me if I’ve watched Sons of Anarchy last night. “No, I don’t have cable. I’ll wait till it streams. But I did watch the Lakers last night. Man do they suck this season.”
As for the program this review is supposed to be reviewing… it’s one of the best I’ve seen and I’ve only watched the first 6 episodes so far. It’s so enjoyable, I do not want to devour it in one or two nights, But rather, slowly absorb this terrific Shakespearean like tale.
The actors in House of Cards remind me of the cast of All the President’s Men. Everyone is busy doing something even when they are doing nothing. Kevin Spacey chews up every scene and gives much respect to the material. He’s clearly not doing this just for the paycheck. He has too much invested in this role. This is the type of roll and overall show that the Emmys are going to have to create a new category for or just include in the existing ones. Netflix is doing for shows on the internet what HBO did for cable. House of Cards is the new Sopranos.
Kate Mara was a little too much of the ambitious go getter reporter at first, but once we caught a glimpse of her long-game strategy – she quickly becomes the barometer for where the action will take us. Plus she’s got a smoking-hot way about her even if she’s not really that smoking-hot. I’m guessing David Fincher has a thing for the Mara sisters. He cast Kate’s sister, Rooney, in the US remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I wonder, is he a Giants fan or a Steelers fan? Hmmm.
Robin Wright plays Kevin Spacey’s philanthropist wife running a non-profit organization. They are the power couple. And boy, do they prove each other’s love and commitment for each other and each other’s cause in ways that would normally destroy a marriage. While the relationship may seem a poor tired cliché from the get-go, you quickly learn that it is anything but that. She is a steel-eyed shark who, after just 6 episodes in, is a wild-card.
The whole premise of the show is to highlight how much the the average citizen, the “little people” if you will, are up against a machine that we have no control over. From the politicians in congress, to the reporters in the news media, to the unions that muscle for benefits at the public trough. The entire system is stacked against us. But I imagine, as the story progresses, we will see the entire system collapse in on itself like a giant house of cards.
Please, if you don’t already have Netfilx, get it. If you don’t have a Roku, PS3, XBOX or any other device to stream Netflix to your TV, go get one. Don’t watch it on your computer or iPad. And for frak’s sake, quit spending $100 a month on cable and cut the cord already. You will thank me.
I’ve got 7 episodes left, won’t you join me?
I have strong feelings about the current helmets of certain NFL teams. Unfortunately I’m not talking about protecting the NFL player from serious head trauma building up over years of playing football. I’m talking about being forced to wear a helmet with terrible logos, mascots and colors. There is one in particular that really gets to me. It’s the Miami Dolphins helmet. It’s absolutely hideous. Before I continue, take a look at it…
Now why is this helmet design so bad? Several things leap out, namely the leaping dolphin. Not only is it cartoonish, it’s also an angry leaping dolphin. It’s also backed by what appears to be a ring of fire that Sea World type dolphins have most likely been trained to leap through. Only, this dolphin here is not leaping through it, he’s leaping in front of it… angrily with his furrowed brow.
The single most disappointing thing about this entire design for such a legendary NFL franchise – the only team to go undefeated the entire season AND win the Super Bowl (sorry Patriots) – is that the best alternative to this sad excuse for a helmet is sitting right there on top of this angry dolphin’s noggin. You see it? The helmet on the dolphin. It sports the same center strip design and colors but with an “M” boldly stated on it’s side, instead of Mr. Chip On The Shoulder Leaping Dolphin. It’s a classic helmet design. Just look at Missouri’s. It’s bold and makes a statement. The current Miami helmet just makes me think I’m watching Saturday morning cartoons with a bowl of Fruit Loops waiting for Ace Ventura to talk out of his ass. Even the teams shorter nickname among it’s fans, The Fins, would surely inspire something that would lift it up from the deep abyss it rests.
Now, as for the next 31 helmets that best Miami’s – here is my criteria in ranking them:
1) When it comes to animals: after-school cartoon look- bad. Sleek, clean and classic – good.
2) Designs wrapping the entire helmet are generally too busy and distracting unless it’s used to give the appearance of the wearer sprouting something like horns.
3) Keep it simple stupid. Keep colors traditional and limited. Pastels and fluorescents are bad news.
That’s it really. So with out further ado, go ahead and click through the slideshow till you get to #1. You may want to adjust the slideshow settings to see my comments and ranking. And if you disagree and want to give your input just comment below. I’ll also be compiling a list of best All-Time and Throwback helmet designs, so start lobbying for your favorites now too.
The good news is I’ve been hard at work at my day job. Which if you really are interested, is producing in American reality TV. In fact if you care even more, you can watch Flip Men on SpikeTV Having spent the first part of the year on the road traveling across this vast country, I’ve not been able to devout as much time as needed to contribute and moderate this site. But rest assured, we will be back soon – in the meantime remember to follow us on Twitter, @a3wordreview – and remember, if the car doesn’t start and the fists don’t squeeze, you’ll get nothing but rotten tomatoes.
I was surprised, much like a few of my friends, when I found the new 21 Jump Street movie to be way better than expected. Seriously, the film was too damn entertaining. The kind of entertaining that when I talk about it to a friend, I get tempted to go see it again.
Basically, the film is a reboot of the popular television show by the same name….obviously. You know, the Stephen J Cannell show that made Johnny Depp a teen heart throb? The one about young looking cops going undercover at different high schools? The one that, if memory serves me, I watched religiously every week, every Season….well until the Richard Greico years. Yeah, that one.
Well after seeing the film (which you should really go see if you haven’t yet), I decided to revisit the original 21 Jump Street television show. And thankfully, all episodes are available on Hulu so I didn’t have to do much digging. Upon revisiting the first episode, the theme song immediately rushed back with a flood of memories of my childhood love of this show. Not to mention, the damn song (which is sung by Holly Robinson) has been stuck in my head now for days.
So since I am now making it a mission to re-watch every episode (yes even the Richard Greico ones), I found it only fair to share my thoughts in an episode by episode recap on here. How exciting for you!
Let’s begin, shall we….
It’s April 12th, 1987 and the two part pilot episode of 21 Jump Street directed by Kim Manners (X Files, The Shield, Supernatural) premiered on broadcast television. Part 1 opens on a typical suburban family arguing about something stupid. Almost immediately, I’m reminded how goofy television programming used to be. Compared to what we have to choose from nowadays, it’s as if this gem was found locked up in a time capsule of sorts. Then again, it WAS the 80’s!
So yeah, here we have slutty sister arguing with mom about something completely unimportant. What is amusing is the mother interrupts telling her to eat real food by calling her “Anorexia”. See? The 80s were amazing!
Soon we’re at the dinner table and this family is talking about nothing important what-so-ever. Soon the younger of the siblings Kenny joins the table. He’s taking clarinet lessons. It’s the same clarinet his father used to play when he was Kenny’s age! And he seems to give a shit as much about this detail as I do.
Just when things couldn’t get more boring, Michael Jackson and Dr Dre bust in right through the sliding glass doors. They just walk right through it like the fucking Kool Aid Man because glass is a pussy when you got shot guns and are wearing a Thriller jacket!
Suddenly, things get interesting. Apparently, little clarinet nerd Kenny owes the scary black men money. This kid’s acting is a bit too over the top and honestly, I wanted 80s Eddie Murphy to clock him one. Instead, he shoots the microwave. Or maybe it was the TV? They both looked similar back then. But whatever, you get the gist. Drug money, Kenny owes them a bunch. For collateral, they take the father’s brand new Jaguar instead. And here my friends, is the high school story setup for the episode!
Cut to, some diner. A fat old cop and young rookie are talking rather loudly while leaving the bathroom. Lo and behold, it’s fucking Marty Seinfeld and Captain Jack Sparrow!
But seriously, that’s Officer Tom Hanson and his training officer Charlie. Charlie is basically running him through the motions of what seasoned cops do since Hanson is an eager straight out of the Academy type. After a few minutes of banter back and forth, they receive a call and head over to Kenny’s family’s house.
While they talk with the family about the stolen car (because that’s all they reported), Kenny is nowhere to be found. Oh, wait, no…he’s just kicking it on the stairs. All reclining n shit.
And here comes Officer Hanson to charm him with his good looks and boyish charm?
Sadly, Officer Hanson’s charm doesn’t work on little Kenny. All leaned back like a boss, he replies to him defiantly by saying, “I won’t tell you spit!” Spit? Really? Ok, dude. Whatever.
And here we are, at the 10 minute mark of the episode. From here, Hanson and Charlie drive around a bit. A robbery happens at a local liquor store and they drive by the car full of criminals. Charlie instinctively stops and asks them how they’re doing and then points out they are stopped at a green light. This turns into a car chase with Hanson behind the wheel which damn near causes the old man to die of a heart attack. Once they finally have the culprits handcuffed on the side of the road Charlie leaves young Hanson (who seems like he’s never held a gun before) to guard the group alone while he goes to call for backup. Yeah…
From this incident, the Captain decides it’d be best to move Hanson to a new program that he’d be perfect for. The kind of assignment he’d be too old for in ten years time. See, there’s an undercover unit that works out of an old abandoned chapel on Jump Street and 6th. They take the young officers and train them to be high school students. Undercover work. In high schools. (You all knew this when you started reading so don’t look at me like that!)
Well Officer Hanson isn’t having it. He walks out as the Captain recalls what a great offer young Hanson’s dad was. This leads us to a nice little pensive interlude with Officer Tom Hanson and his precious saxophone.
This is followed by a voice over memory of a conversation between Hanson and his father. And bing bang boom, he’s soon driving up to the church on Jump Street. Seriously, we’re almost halfway through this episode. When do we get more scary black thugs!? Yes, this is the point of the episode where Aaron starts getting impatient.
But that’s okay, because we are finally introduced to the Jump Street gang!
The first we see is Doug Penhall. He’s kind of the loud mouth meat head of the group. I guess it’s only fitting since Peter DeLuise is the son of the late Dom Deluise. Am I right or am I right? Well I kind of AM right because it’s true.
Here, Penhall is discussing with Hanson whether or not this abandoned chapel they are in is truly a church as he thinks it may be a synagogue. His mom is Jewish which means, in his words, “I get to celebrate both guilt and Hell.” I like this guy.
And he is hanging with Officer Harry Truman Ioki so that’s the next person we meet. So there he is. All suave. Just leaning back in his chair like a boss n shit.
Hanson explains he’s there to report to Captain Richard Jenko. Here’s a fun little piece of trivia: Jenko is the name of Channing Tatum’s character in the 21 Jump Street movie. How exciting to know and then share this fun fact with you. Because it’s a fact, and fun!
Soon enters Captain Richard Jenko, who’s been a Deadhead since Woodstock. How peachy.
Whatever….anyway….Jenko walks Hanson through the place and runs him through his new assignment. Basically, he is to be trained to be a high school student again. Multiple comments about Hanson’s “Richie Cunningham” hairdo and style later, Jenko calls in Judy Hoffs to help transform the young officer.
Woohoo! Hot chick!
After what seems like a very long time waiting, Hanson exits looking like they just wet his hair and sprayed it with Aqua Net or something.
Soon, Hoffs and Hanson are out at the arcade playing video games while Hoffs suggestively eats a hot dog. Or maybe not suggestively. But I’m a guy. So that’s how we see things.
Oh and now they’re record shopping!? Come on! There’s bad black men with shotguns and sunglasses out there that need to be captured!
Finally, we get to some action. And I guess the action is taking place outside of some New Wave Goth Club or something. Yeah, I know from experience but those places look way scarier than they are. But still, remember when studded leather jackets made you seem hard?
Don’t look now, but here comes the creepy neighborhood sex offender in his rapist van!
Penhall knows what’s up! He angrily throws his beer right at the creepy pedophile.
Oh but nevermind, it’s angry hippy Jenko behind the wheel! Hoffs, Hanson and Ioki are stone cold kicking it in the back of the van too. What really just went down was Penhall exposing the “mark” for Hanson to bust. Some other dude with an annoying haircut who is apparently a drug dealer. Psssh….white people.
Anyway, as I said, this altercation is basically to show Hanson who to take down. This is his first test to make sure he can blend in. And yep, he fails. Goes to arrest the guy after he sells him the weed. He even insists on smelling it before buying and after he cuffs the guy, it turns out to be a pair of socks in the baggie. A pair of socks!? Jenko ain’t pleased.
Oh hey! Remember young Kenny? Yeah me neither, it’s been so long. You know, the kid that ain’t gonna tell us piss? The clarinet nerd? The whiny kid that owes those scary black boys a bunch of drug money? Yeah, now I remember too! Well look at that, with 10 minutes left in the episode, we find him driving through a residential neighborhood very early in the morning on his moped delivering newspapers. What an upstanding young man!
Oh wait, nevermind. He’s robbing a jewelry store. My bad.
Next thing we know, the Jump Street cops are catching up with Jenko about their recent assignments and Hanson gets his first real one. He is to enter Amherst High School as a disciplinary transfer. And as soon as he arrives on campus, he finds himself parking in the wrong parking spot. Who’s parking spot is he in? Waxer! Who’s Waxer? My favorite shotgun wielding, Thriller jacket having, stunner shade wearing black guy!
Him and his cohort end up having a stand off with Hanson who refuses to move his car and this turns into a scuffle pretty fast. A crowd of kids form to watch the new guy fight the only two black kids in school. At least it seems like they’re the only two black kids. And they look like they’re 25. But whatever.
So the fight gets broken up, they end up in the principal’s office. Yadda yadda. And then, just as the episode is about to end, guess who decides to join the party? That’s right. Kenny. Cuz he goes to Amherst High School too!
And on a threat from Waxer to Hanson, Part 1 of The Pilot Episode Ends.
To Be Continued…
[Writer’s Note: I’d like to sincerely
apologize for the following review. I’m slowly delving into a state of delusional madness. I can neither confirm nor deny whether I was under the influence of The Dark Lord Jebidiah’s mind control device at the time this was written or if it was just a bad case of mustard gas (so much dijon…so much). As always, thank you for your patronage and please send help. – Aaron]
It’s been 14 days since I went under the knife to have my right foot cut open and a piece of myself removed to ultimately help me walk without my character enhancing limp that I had developed over the past few years. I have 7 more days until this annoying pin is removed from my foot (the one currently sticking out of the top of my foot while holding my big toe bone in place). And since this gruesome act was performed on my right foot, I have been stuck in my own form of Vicodin laced purgatory. Unable to drive, barely able to walk, I’ve been left mostly to my own devices.
To prepare for this three weeks of disability, I downloaded e-books, I bought video games and made a list of movies I needed to watch. I planned to write every day and stay productive in a furtive attempt to keep myself from going completely nuts from cabin fever. What I didn’t take into consideration was the lackadaisical state said medication would put my mind in. Nor did I realize how difficult it’d be to make myself a pot of fucking coffee every day!
But alas, I’ve been managing. I’ve played my fair share of video games and have watched way too much TV but nothing was really striking my mental cords driving me to write damn near anything. That was until last night when I finally sat down (like I can stand much, really…geesh) to watch Drive Angry. I’m not quite sure what finally got me to give the movie a chance. I had missed the panel at SDCC, avoided it in theaters (because Nicolas Cage movies = batshit crazy time = money well spent somewhere else?), and then kinda made friends with Todd Farmer who wrote the damn thing. At that point, I felt like I shouldn’t watch it at all because…well…what if the damn thing sucked?
And trust me, I’ve read my fair share of hate on this movie! I didn’t want to watch it because then I’d have to tell Mr. Farmer how much I hated it. Then again, after hanging out with him the few times I have, he’d probably get off on such verbal abuse. But anyway…
I sat down and watched this movie while somewhat drunk and possibly on a Vicodin high (I can neither confirm nor deny this). Well fuck a monkey and call it Christmas time, I enjoyed the shit outta this film!
Here’s the basic rundown of this fantastic piece of cellulose…
Milton (Nicolas Cage) escapes from Hell driving a classic muscle car. I couldn’t tell you what kind, because I don’t really care. His mission, to avenge his daughter’s death and to rescue his kidnapped granddaughter. Along the way, he acquires a sidekick named Piper (Amber Heard) who really for the most part doesn’t much question the crazy bonkers violent shit happening around her. Instead, she just jumps right into the fun. Oh, and of course she also drives a classic muscle car…and is hot. Because, I mean, why the fuck not, right? So Milton and Piper are hunting down this crazy ass cult leader Jonah King (Billy Burke) who is responsible for some very bad things and this nicely dressed Accountant (William Fichtner) is hunting down Milton. Why? Because he’s an Accountant from Hell! Make sense? Good.
There’s more to it than that like boobs, blood, explosions, car chases, gun fights, more explosions and some random demonic shenanigans. It sounds ridiculous because it is and that’s why it works. Many people have watched this film and have left upset and let down because they wanted a serious action film. Obviously, this movie was not made for them. Who it was made for, though, are those who appreciate some worth while Grindhouse style entertainment.
What I wanted in a movie was something that didn’t require much of any thinking. Something that would take me on a ride, feed my eyes the candy it was yearning for, while ultimately delivering something trashy and fun at the same time.
When I told Todd Farmer (who also appears in the movie…naked for a time) I was watching his film, he told me it was a dirty movie and I was a dirty girl for watching it. But that can’t be true, because if I was such a dirty girl, how do you explain the shame boner Drive Angry gave me?
You can’t, can you?
Drive Angry was written by Todd Farmer and directed by Patrick Lussier. It is currently available on DVD, Blu Ray and On Demand.
We have exactly three weeks to go before the much-anticipated Hunger Games takes over cinemas everywhere. This means only one thing- you have exactly 3 WEEKS to read The Hunger Games (the first book in Suzanne Collins’ best-selling 3-part series). And if you are on the fence about it, I’m here to make the decision easy…
To those of you that are thinking “reading the book will just spoil the movie – and the movie looks so cool,” or, even worse, “The Hunger Games is for children and I won’t be bothered with it,” those are unfortunate thoughts and this is for you. So read on and see the light…
To those of you that did read it and loved it as much as I did, and to those of you who are also counting down the days until it’s theatrical release – this is for you too. So read on, my friends, and get that Hungry fire back in your life.
But before we truly begin, I have one final note for all you skeptics: I was one too.
I consider myself a fairly rational person- and by person I mean girl and by rational I mean not crazy. Hopeless romantic? Check. Girly-girl? Check. Tomboy? Absolutely. But a sucker for teeny-bopper dramas and fads? Count me out. I put Twilight down after barely making it through ten pages, and Harry Potter never struck much of a chord. The Traveling Pants, anyone? Puh-Leeze. So rest assured, all of this Hunger Games lovin’ comes from a well-tested and highly reputable source. And now we get on with it…
The general premise of The Hunger Games is this: In a post-apocalyptic America, Katniss Everdeen, and her family live in a world just a hop, skip, and jump away from our country as we know it today. However, her world is a place where survival is the name of the game- a game of work and no play, a game of rules and rations, and a bloody game of ultimate sacrifice. In this world, the 48 continental states have been replaced by a land of 12 districts. 12 districts that are ruled and watched by the most judgmental and ruthless of eyes; 12 districts that are each known for a particular trade- which all members are expected to use towards the greater good of the community’s survival and prosperity; 12 districts which must rely on the downfall of others in order to gain power, money, and honor.
In order for this type of structure to work, the citizens must live in fear and concern that at any moment, that which they love most dearly, person or thing, may be plucked from their hands and they will be left without the means or desire to survive. This daily struggle is brought to a head once a year during the time of The Hunger Games – a time in which the ultimate sport of bloodshed, tears, and, yes, survival is “played” by two randomly selected children from each district. And once selected, these children are forced to fight to the death- with the sole victor earning honor, respect, and financial stability for his or her community. Now, the ins and outs of the competition is slightly more complex, and you really must read to believe – but I can tell you this:
If you were suddenly taken from your home at the tender yet formidable age of sixteen, and dropped in a domed, forested arena, with no way out until you win or die, to what lengths would you go in order to walk out on your own two feet? What if your life and your future depended on a lottery each year between the ages of 12 and 18? And what if all you had to rely on was your district trade, your cunning, and your (hopefully reliable) survivalist instinct? How far would you make it?
These are the things on the minds of every young person of every district in Katniss’s world. And if that’s not compelling enough – throw in a strong willed girl whose intentions are true and whose emotions run hot, along with a couple handsome love interests and intense competition, and you are left with a story that is beyond any teeny-bopper’s greatest fantasy. This is a story that tugs at your bad-ass survivalist-chic heartstrings; it gives life to that part of you that longs to be mean and gritty yet sweet and vulnerable. And in our star, Katniss Everdeen, we see the picture perfect combination of a young woman that any girl would dream to be and any guy would dream to know.
So use your time wisely during the next 3 weeks- read Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. You’ll never see a bow and arrow the same way again.
A few months back, my friend Kevin Hamedani (Zombies Of Mass Destruction) invited me to a private screening of his recently finished movie Junk. All I had known about the film was that he directed it and our mutual friend Brett Davern (Awkward, Beautiful Ohio) was one of the actors in the film. Truthfully, I’ve become jaded with movies friends make and had low expectations with the film. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed it so much, I repetitively requested Brett and Kevin set aside time to talk about the film with me.
Synopsis: Kaveh and Raul are two b-movie co-writers who have suffered a bitter falling out. Kaveh’s lost his girlfriend, and spends his days getting high in his apartment, while Raul is off studying at Columbia University. But when one of their films (“Islama-rama 2”) is accepted by a film festival, the two ex-friends are forced to tentatively re-connect in order to pitch their script to the mysterious producer, Yukio Tai (James Hong). Along the way, they will have to brave brutish bodyguards, cutthroat colleagues, inept agents, romantic entanglements, prima donna actors, and the trials of their own bitter friendship.
Finally, one cold night in December, Brett and Kevin took me up on my offer and met me at a local bar where we sat down and talked about Junk, Samurai movies and Gremlins 3 (It’s real, people!).
So who do we have here?
BD – “Brett. Davern. With a D.”
KH – “Kevin. Hamedani.”
And we’re here to talk about Junk. So, Kevin, tell me about the movie.
KH – “Well, I co-wrote it with Ramon Isao.”
Whom also is your co-star in the film.
KH – “Yes.”
Was there anything else he partnered with you on to get this film made?
KH – “No, I directed it. We co-wrote it. And that was his acting debut as well.”
And how did Brett get involved?
KH – “Well we -”
BD – “I basically told Kevin I was not going to audition.”
KH – “Hah, yeah that’s right.”
BD – “And I was joking. Just joking around but then he called me and he was like NO! You can have this part! And I was like, OK let’s do it!”
Did you write the part of Billy with Brett in mind?
KH – “Yes. Well, Ramon came up with the idea of a liaison. I came up with the idea of him being a Christian. And then when we really started talking about it, I saw Brett in my head wearing one of his sweaters.”
(Brett just nods and smiles.)
KH – “We did this play back in high school…”
Wait wait wait, hold on. You both went to high school together?
BD – “Yes.”
KH – “And middle school.”
BD – “Kevin and I have known each other a long time. We grew up together in Edmonds, Washington.”
KH – “Theater, Drama, Basketball.”
BD – ” We played on the same basketball teams growing up. We did theater together.”
KH – “Brett was in my first play. The first thing I ever wrote and directed.”
BD – “That’s right, it was a one act for Edmonds Woodway High School’s One Act Festival. Yeah it was great! It was a detective’s drama. A mystery.”
KH – “Damn, you remember!”
BD – “Yeah, it was awesome.”
And somehow, your paths have crossed again. Both moving to Los Angeles, and Brett is still acting in work you’ve written and directed.
KH – “We have collaborated in one way or the other. Even in high school when I shot this little film, Brett was there. He even shot some scenes.”
BD – “I even held the camera a little bit.”
KH – “We both loved films growing up and were fortunate enough to have the same classes. We were both the better actors of our grade, which isn’t saying much. It was like ten actors total in our high school. But still, we were two of the few who actually believed we could do this for the rest of our lives.”
BD – “Yeah, I think you find those people. You gravitate towards them. We would sit in the back of Science class and read the AFI Top 100 book and debate, you know, whether Godfather was better than Godfather 2.”
KH – “2 was way better.”
BD – “Right!?”
Godfather 2 is totally better.
BD – “I believe we’ve come to a consensus. So we gravitated towards each other because of our similar interests but then went our different paths after high school. I took a year off and then went to a little conservatory in New York. Kevin went to University Of Washington and went the four year route.”
KH – “Brett leaving was always kind of inspiring to me. I guess you have to relocate sometimes to really focus and make your dream a reality. I was in comfy Seattle maybe a year too long.”
BD – “Yeah but where-as I would come back and visit you in your dorms, I was jealous of what you were doing.”
The grass is always greener.
KH – “The grass is always greener.”
BD – “We were always staying in touch and stuff. I then moved to L.A. and at some point I was up in Seattle visiting and Kevin was shooting his movie Zombies Of Mass Destruction.”
KH – “And I wanted Brett to play a role in it. I thought he was going to.”
BD – “Oh yeah! I came in and read for you.”
KH – “There wasn’t even a question. He was perfect. Brett had just done his first feature Beautiful Ohio. It was a really Hollywood film so Brett was in The Union. And we were like a no budget indie. So I was like…he has a manager? I don’t even know where to begin! And we didn’t end up going SAG, so…”
BD – “Yeah that’s the thing. It was a Non Union film so I couldn’t be a part of it.”
So Kevin, speaking of, talk a little about Zombies Of Mass Destruction.
KH – “Woah, okay. I haven’t done this in some time…Zombies is a low budget horror/comedy/satire kind of in the vein of Shaun Of The Dead and Dr. Strangelove about contemporary politics put in a genre film. It’s about Middle Eastern people and terrorism and post 9/11 hysteria…uh….with zombies.”
And you did this with Ramon?
KH – “That’s where Ramon and I first started working together. We grew up together and met him way before I knew Brett. I was a little kid and my neighbor was Ramon and his family. Ramon was five years older so he and my brother were friends. I used to tag along. And then, of course, I lost touch with Ramon. So I wrote Zombies and got the producer attached and I kept insisting it was really not ready. I went through a couple of writers that didn’t work out. Ramon had just come back from Japan and was pursuing a writing degree at Columbia. So I asked him if he’d want to write a scene to see if he clicks. He wrote the gas station scene and that was it. I was like, oh okay! That’s easy! And that was it.”
So from the experience of being on the festival circuit for ZMD, came the idea which inspired your new film Junk.
KH – “That is correct. ZMD did a lot of festivals, fortunately. Ramon and I went to the first festival together. ”
Were these mainly horror film festivals?
KH – “No. Actually more ‘arty farty’ festivals. It was considered like a midnight genre festival film. You know what I mean? Because it had a political tint to it. So anyway, Ramon and I met. First festival we went to was in D.C. and it was a weird experience. He went back to New York and I spent the rest of the year doing film festivals. He decided to come to one last film festival almost a year later and we met up in Austin. I started telling him all these festival story ideas. And then from there, we started to discuss about if it was a film. Then I met two filmmakers who are now my friends. They shared the same special effects artist that we had for ZMD. We started talking at the film festival and it turned out they had a similar script that Ramon and I had. We both had a Western script that we both were trying to pitch to Michael Keaton. Anyway…yeah that’s where the idea came from. And while we were in the writing process, we started hanging out with Brett because he lives ten minutes away. And then it just came together. It’s like the universe was telling us what the film was going to be.”
Was it planned then for both you and Ramon to not only co-write Junk but also co-star in it as well?
KH – “First it was nope, I’m not going to act in it. Then, I don’t think I’m going to act in it. Then I did a little acting for Lynn Shelton, this director in Seattle. I did okay, there was a lot of improv. She does this improvisational Mumblecore style that I was not very familiar with. So I was on her set and we were improvising. She had two cameras and it was really fun. So then I decided maybe it’s not that hard.”
BD – “Bit by the bug again!”
KH – “That’s right. I hadn’t acted in a long time but as any actor will tell you, you do it after a long break and it’s still fun.”
BD – “And Kevin was the best actor at our school. He was much better than me.”
KH – “No!”
BD – “He’d win contests.”
KH – “Okay maybe in high school but not anymore.”
BD – “Contests and scholarships, all kinds of things. He was very very good.”
So were you planning on casting for the roles of Raul and Kaveh?
KH – “We weren’t even that far. We were outlining and were already thinking Brett and we were thinking my roommate Cooper. We were saying, ‘Who else can we get?’ I knew my friend Nick could be in it. And Cooper played Conner in the film. So anyway, long story short, by the middle of rehearsal, I kept seeing Ramon as Raul. Whenever he would pitch me a joke in the writer’s room, he’d act it out. Ever since ZMD, and he’d always make me laugh. So I was like, duh! If he can do that in front of me and he can do that in front of a camera, we’re fine. So we went out for a smoke and I was like, ‘Let’s get this dialog going. Why don’t you play Raul?’. I didn’t tell him but I was kind of auditioning him. Five minutes in and I was like, ‘Oh yeah! That was great improv. You’re in the movie!’ And he was like, ‘Are you sure? Are you sure?”
He had no problem with it?
KH – “He was worried.”
BD – “He was nervous.”
This is his first experience acting?
KH – “Yeah.”
BD – “He’d never even done plays or anything. And he kills it. He’s so good in it.”
KH – “Some people are just actors, you know? I don’t know what kind of range he has.”
BD – “That’s the thing. He’s very captivating to watch.”
KH – “As a person, he’s very engaging.”
BD – “He nailed that role.”
KH – “Then we got Brett. Billy was the least developed role. Raul and Ramon are kind of similar. Kaveh and myself are kinda drawn from the same place. The liaison was based on fiction more than any other character. So we gave the working actor the hardest part. We told him it was half written and to have fun with it. And then Brett went off and created something…we had no idea….I mean…it was one of the most educational experiences for me as a director to watch Brett create Billy. I am not kidding.”
BD – “Wow. Thank you.”
KH – “He would come on set and he’d throw out suggestions. I’d be like, ‘That’s ridiculous, that’s too over the top’ but I’d give him one take and maybe he’ll surprise me. Nine out of ten times, it was like OH! THAT WORKS! And so, I learned a lot.”
BD – “Thanks man!”
KH – “And even Ramon, we’d go back to his parents house and he’d be asking, ‘Where did Billy come from?’ and all.”
Hmm, where DID Billy come from, Brett?
BD – “You know what? I don’t know. I gotta say, working on Junk has been my favorite experience. In all seriousness, and not just because Kevin is sitting here. It really was. The freedom that we had was incredible.”
When you say freedom, are you referring to creatively? Improvisation?
BD – “He had the scenes written. There’s lines on the page, for sure. I mean more the freedom to say the lines how you wanted to say them or to come up with your own suggestions. You know, sometimes you go into a job and you don’t know the director. You may be afraid to approach them maybe. But with Kevin, it’s like…and obviously we’ve been friends for years so I’m not afraid to come to him with an idea because the worst he’s going to say is no. This is probably the way it is all the time, but you may also have that social anxiety added. We’ve worked together so many times that I know I can just say to Kevin, ‘Hey what do you think about this?’ and if he’s like, ‘No’ or I could read his mood and know not to approach him at that time….I guess what I’m trying to say is he keeps up a good rapport on set. And it was a lot of fun. I can even begin to imagine the hours of footage not in the movie containing the fun little avenues we went down.”
KH – “What we’re probably going to do for the DVD is have like a Billy section. The first cut I put together, before the editor came in and took over, it was three hours long and there was an entire story line with another character and Billy. Unfortunately, in the end some people got cut entirely and Billy got trimmed down.”
BD – “I think I said to Kevin early on, I was making a suggestion or something, and I said, ‘Look, if I’m annoying you just tell me’ and he said he would if I ever overstepped my bounds. From then on, I’d just come to him with stuff.”
The one thing that stood out for me when I watched the film, was the relationship between Kaveh and Raul. It seemed like a darker version of Swingers in a way. I just kept seeing the dynamic of Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau from that movie through the relationship your characters have on screen. Was that movie an influence here in any way or am I just talk out my ass?
KH – “That movie meant a lot to me when I went through a break up.”
Yeah, at one point in my life, I ended up being that guy who called the girl seven times in a night and left a bunch of messages.
KH – “Well I wasn’t that retarded. No, I’m kidding. I’ve done worse stuff, my friend. But yeah, Swingers is fucking great. It’s one of the most honest modern male break up MTV generation films ever made. I mean…I still say ‘Baby’ sometimes. It’s probably because of that film. Okay maybe I don’t really say ‘Baby’ -”
You said it twice now.
KH – “- but I want to say ‘Baby’.”
KH – “There you go. But the movie’s awesome. But darker? Is it because we’re literally darker?”
It was darker, to me, because of the context of the story and how the characters interact between each other and those around them. It was more crass, dealing with horror genre references, and focused more on the depression felt by Kaveh from the breakup. It just felt darker.
KH – “The blood.”
Well yeah, you guys play people writing and directing a horror film. I know enough people who do that to know, things are just a bit darker and weirder in the world through their eyes. And speaking of darker and weirder, who’s idea was it to add in these bizarre movie within the movie interludes in the film? They definitely helped break up the pace of the film, especially when it may have gotten a bit heavy at times. For instance, where did the Gremlins 3 thing come from?
KH – “Gremlins Part 3 is a real thing that Ramon and I have discussed for years before Junk was even an idea. We had Gremlins 3 and then, well I think it started with the idea that we had to show the film Islama-Rama 2 that they’re there for.”
Great title, by the way.
KH – “That was all Ramon. And then along the lines, what if we see TD Largo’s film? And then what if this and what if that? Okay? That’s the kind of film this became. We were going to go back and forth. So, yeah I’m rambling, but Gremlins 3 is a real thing. Islama-Rama 2 is satire. Both films existing within the movie.”
I mean, you completely sold me with the samurai sequence. That, and Gremlins, and Child’s Play, Sam Raimi…I mean you have so many great references in this film that any genre fan would love.
KH – “Yeah, we love Kurosawa, Sam Raimi…”
And it’s like you combined them both here.
KH – “Oh, huh, I didn’t think of it that way. That’s pretty dope. Well you know, we had a Japanese Garden in Seattle where we were shooting, which is what you saw. And it’s just sitting there so, you know, part of writing this movie is thinking about what you have to work with. What actors do we have? What locations do we have?”
BD – “I think you guys doing this movie, you really captured a child like…ok, if you were in high school and you were writing a movie and you could do whatever you wanted, what movie would you write? Oh! We’d do a Gremlins thing, we’d do a Child’s Play thing, we’d do a Samurai thing, we’d cut people’s heads off. Junk literally encompasses, I think, everything you would want to do if you were making a movie.”
It’s great as a writer to have that ability to tap into your inner child because a lot of people tend to lose site of imagination.
KH – “But we also wanted to create a human story. I think that’s where the vignettes came from. We were a bit afraid of coming off too serious. Now that we’re talking about it, I think that was a way of protecting ourselves of being too depressing and too serious. I mean, come on! All these festival films seem to be about coming of age hipsters…wah my girlfriend! But this was reality and I told Ramon I wanted to talk about my break up. And he was like, ‘Aw man, you’re such a douchebag!’ And I was like, that’s the film! I’m a douchebag and you don’t want to talk about my break up and that’s sort of how it got started.”
BD – “Well, Billy was…”
KH – “Everything in the movie that Billy does was 50% an idea. Like, Billy does something bad. But we didn’t know what that something was. But the transformation of the character itself was more Brett than us. Like the mirror scene in the bathroom? That was Brett’s idea. That wasn’t even in the script.”
BD – “I gotta be honest, thinking back, I don’t even remember how Billy kind of evolved. It just sort of happened organically. We had a week of rehearsals. And again, because we’re such good friends, it just came about while sitting around shooting the shit. Like, oh wouldn’t it be funny if this happened? Or wouldn’t this be crazy?”
KH – “I don’t know where he got Billy but it was fun to watch him get there.”
BD – “I don’t necessarily know if I can take credit completely for it. I think it just sort of evolved through spitballing ideas.”
KH – “I think when people see Junk, they’ll watch Brett’s physicality. Sometimes when I was watching him on set, I’d think Brett is just acting. But when you see it on playback, it’s like seeing a puzzle coming together. He became that character. And we shot the scenes out of order. Ramon and I just watched him feeling like we were observing this greater force than ourselves.”
BD – “Hah! It was fun. I think I had a thing to while we were filming where I tried to make Ramon laugh a lot. So I would try to make him laugh and he would go to Kevin and be like this is funny, let’s do this.”
KH – “Yeah that’s true.”
BD – “I kind of used Ramon as a Go-Between a little bit. I mean, because that’s a lot of responsibility. Kevin had to think about starring in, directing, writing, and all the things that come along with shooting a low budget movie. So Kevin was pretty stressed. So a lot of times, I wouldn’t go directly to Kevin. Instead I’d take my ideas to Ramon. I’d say don’t you think this would be funny and he’d agree and say he’d go tell Kevin.”
Was this your first ever on screen sex scene you had to do?
BD – “Err…nnnnyyyyyeeeeaah. In the act sex scene? Yeah. I’ve previously done the leading up to, and then the post, but never the during.”
I’d imagine that could be kind of a weird experience.
BD – “It was alright. We had fun.”
That had to have taken a while to shoot.
KH – “A couple of hours. I mean, we couldn’t have a naked girl there all night because then we’d have to be like….alright we’re sorry. We’re not paying you enough to have you nude for six hours.”
BD – “Yeah that was fun. That scene was definitely scripted.”
KH – “That was the one Billy transformation scene that we had on paper. The smoking, the hair, the glasses, that was all Brett.”
BD – “But I think that also lends itself to the rehearsal process. That’s so important, you know?”
KH – “I think so.”
So, where to now that the movie is complete? What are the plans going forward with Junk?
KH – “Well, we just got a consultant attached. We’re looking for a sales agent and waiting on film festivals.”
Do you have any ideal festivals you’d like the movie to be accepted to?
KH – “South By, Tribeca, Berlin…all those. There’s too many to really name right now but I’ve been seeing emails here and there. Right now, I’m just waiting to hear.”
BD – “It’s funny because it’s going to start being like the movie. It’s a vicious cycle.”
Well once this craziness dies down, what’s next on the horizon for you guys?
KH – “Me and Ramon are developing four projects. People are reading a couple of them. I can’t really say much more about that right now.”
BD – “We’re starting up Season 2 of Awkward soon. Lots of big stuff. I’ve been in the writer’s room. There’s some crazy stuff that’s gonna happen. Some things people are not going to see coming.”
KH – “They gonna rape her or something?”
BD – “Hey! Hey! This is not one of your movies!”
And with that, our night came to an end. Kevin and Brett are currently busy with a number of projects. No new news yet has surfaced about Junk’s status in the film festival circuit but I have a good feeling we’ll be seeing this movie in theaters by year’s end. And besides the new Season of Awkward, you can check Brett Davern out later this year in the Indie Horror film The Culling.
I had first heard about ABC’s new television show The River last summer at The San Diego Comic Con. Upon viewing the trailer, I got excited. It looked rather scary and besides some of the programming on the Premium channels, it’s been a while since there’s been a full on horror themed TV show on Network. And oooh it’s from Oren Peli! Oh, wait, that’s right. I hated the Paranormal Activity movies. But still, the trailer for the show looked very promising.
Well this was the week that The River finally premiered and sadly, I missed its original airing since my DVR already had the assignment of recording Justified and Southland (two of my must-see shows). However, ABC has both of the premiere episodes online so I took the time out of my day and sat through both.
First and foremost, I had high hopes for the show. Hell, FEARnet recently posted a review for the show and they liked it. I have been hearing about this being the scariest show ever to be on TV. But then again, they also referred to Paranormal Activity as the scariest thing since Poltergeist….so there’s that. Still, I put my reservations about being misled again by an advertising campaign aside, and gave the show a chance.
The River is about Dr. Emmet Cole’s disappearance and thusly the hunt lead by his wife Tess (Leslie Hope who played Teri Bauer on 24…and I hated her there too) deep into the Amazon to find him.That’s the simplest way I can put it. However, there’s also the fact that Dr. Emmet Cole (Bruce Greenwood) is the host of The Undiscovered Country a very popular nature show (similar to The Crocodile Hunter) and he went missing in the middle of a seemingly haunted rivery jungle place. Included in this rag-tag crew is Lincoln (Joe Anderson), Dr. Cole’s jaded son who just wants to finish up Medical School, that girl Lena Landry (Eloise Mumford) who Lincoln will probably end up banging by Episode 6 and some shifty characters that make up the crew (I’m looking at you, Captain Kurt Brynildson). Wrap a ‘found footage’ colored bow around this supernatural mid-season replacement gift ABC has handed us and you’ve got The River.
There are definitely ingredients in here that make the show a promising endeavor, but something felt off. I’m sure I’m in the minority here, as I’ve been reading nothing but praise of the program everywhere. I finished Episode 1 and reluctantly went into Episode 2 thinking it was going to pick up. I was looking for ‘The Scariest TV Show Ever” and maybe that is the problem. Some of the jump scares worked, the found footage aspects of the show didn’t bother me, and I was even on board with the reveal of what the imitation smoke monster really was. I did find it a bit convenient that one of the characters on the crew happened to know exactly what the big bad was just 18 minutes into the first episode, but whatever. My main gripe is the same issue I had with the PA movies and that is the marketing campaign.
Two episodes in, and The River is already looking like ABC’s next attempt at filling the hole that Lost left by recasting The Smoke Monster into a role where he (is it a he?) can be bigger and badder. But if I’m right, can’t Networks just move forward and find the next idea out there that does not echo remnants of the brilliance Lost brought to TV? And if you think ABC isn’t trying to rekindle that Lost fire, compare the two photos in this article
And as I said, the ingredients were there but it felt like they were mixed into the recipe wrong. Creepy imagery (a doll tree, crazy monkey in a mask, creepy boat interior of The Magus) can only go so far, in my opinion. Much like my recent conclusion with Fox’s new show Alcatraz (again looking for the next Lost), it feels like The River is going through the motions without really having the writing at its core that’s smart and based in some sort of deep (non corny) justifiable truth that the characters can fully attach themselves to. But it’s horror, and most horror can end up being corny at some point, right?
We’re only up to Episode 2, so I’m fully aware it may be too early to place this judgement on the show. But I’m quite the impatient motherfucker.
With all this complaining, I suppose I should say that The River isn’t a bad show. Compared to most of the crap that is on Network TV, it still kept me entertained. However, to mark it as THE SCARIEST SHOW THAT SCARES TO EVER TO BE SCARY ON TV EVER IN A SCARY WAY…uh…ahem…. they should at least back it up with a bit more than the run of the mill elements that have made a lot of horror films tiring and predictable (can Oren Peli do something BESIDES found footage?). Maybe the people behind it (did I mention Stephen Spielberg is one of those people?) think that since it’s on TV, it’s okay to do this. And sure, I love the fact that more horror themed programming are gracing the face of television more-so these days, but can we please not treat the audience like morons?
Scariest Show On TV Ever?! Yeah, I’m sure I can name more than enough horror themed shows that may not just go for the scares like The River, but I won’t. What do I know anyway? I’ll probably watch the next episode and then the next one in hopes that The River will take some interesting turns. I doubt it, though.
Prove me wrong, ABC. Prove me wrong.