Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Favorite (And Not So Favorite) Films of 2008

And the drum roll please ...

(And I don’t care what you say. Oscar worthy, schmoscar worthy.)

Son of Rambow
(Make Believe. Not War)
I loved it. I own it. I make all of my friends watch it. It would be my number one. It makes me want to say "Lee Carter" in a British accent all day long.

Shotgun Stories
Jeff Nichols stirs an unsettling, southern tale straight out of a Faulkner novel.

Tell No One
It leaves you guessing right up until the very end. And it’s such a fun non-stop ride to get there.

Drillbit Taylor
I’m a sucker for high school films. And I’m a sucker for the underdog. And hell, I’m a sucker for Owen Wilson too. So yeah, I totally dug it.

Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist

One of the best teen comedies I’ve seen in a long time.

Step Up 2 The Streets
Just for the opening subway scene alone. Can we say, "Thank you Jesus for bringing back the dance movies!" Although I'm not sure I'm ready for the remake of Footloose starring Zac Efron. I might be singing a different tune.

Stephen Chow, you’re my hero. I love you so much and I wish we could be friends. I think you're really really cool.

You Don’t Mess with the Zohan
I haven’t laughed this hard and non-stop since my college days of getting high and convincing Ama that Calista Flockhart played the female Gelfling in The Dark Crystal.

Swing Vote
Give me more Kevin Costner. The funny, charismatic kind. It’s a shame this film didn’t get an audience. It left me more excited to vote than any political rally, sappy campaign ad or heartfelt speech. And that ain't no lie.

The House Bunny
Dear Adam Sandler and Happy Madison Productions, Thank you for believing in Anna Faris. She’s truly one of the great living comedians we have. I hope you'll give her more money to make more movies. Because she's really funny and has a super big heart. Sincerely, Kat Candler.

The Fall
If you know me, I've probably pushed this film on you at some point. It's solid. Visually breathtaking. The best performance of the year from a 5-year old little girl. Take that Oscar committee!

Glory at Sea
I haven't seen such an unusual and wonderful voice in cinema since well, a really long time. I can't wait to see his first feature. Yes, my friends, this is a short. And it's available. And you should watch it.

(Overall, I think if you look closely there's a running theme through my list of faves ... most of them involve kids and most of them are all about the funny. )



The Happening

Let’s see how badly we can direct actors before they realize it's a joke. Ok, now let's see how long the studio will shell out money before they realize it's a joke. Oh wait ... it's not a joke? Oh shit.

I had high hopes. They were trampled on, smashed, dashed and shoved down the garbage disposal. Please let Chris Weitz mend them back together again.

Hamlet 2
Mean, mean, mean, mean. Not funny, not funny, not funny. Except for the Jesus song. That was kind of funny. But not the rest of the film.

Diane Lane, go back to the light.

The Lost Boys The Tribe
I know, I know. Why'd you even shell out the $3.50, Kat? I thought it would be so bad it was good. Silly me.

Again, so bad it was good? Nope. Not this one either. Dagnabit.

Prom Night
How is it humanly possible to make a teen slasher flick so mindlessly boring? At least Jonathan Schaech got a paycheck.



The Happening
Too bad the movie was a big pile of poo.



Mister Foe

Happy Go Lucky
The Visitor
Paranoid Park
Iron Man
The Wackness

Word on the Street

Zooey Deschanel and Ben Gibbard = Engaged.

Say what? When did they ... how did they ... for real? So yeah, it's pretty cute but totally unexpected. Wow.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Alligator - Shoot Day

The Arts and Labor crew spent the day shooting Jeff Marrow's short film The Alligator. It's a new collaborative we started. We hope to shoot a short film each month. So far two down, many more to go. Eric and I created the sound department. I've never been a part of the sound department. I got to work with the lav mics, boomed some shots (until my arms got tired and I handed it back to Eric) and kept up with my logs. Jeff was fortunate to have a pretty kick ass crew and a huge grip truck. Lucky duck. All in all it went really well. I think he'll have a super cute film on his hands. They have a lengthy post production because it's heavily animated. It was a fun day. Making movies with your friends rules.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Favorite Music of 2008

My Favorite Music of 2008
(in no particular order)

Records Stuck in My CD Player
  • M83
  • Girl Talk
  • Santogold
  • Sigur Ros
  • The Teenagers
  • She and Him
  • Weezer
  • The Killers
  • The Gaslight Anthem

Songs Stuck in My Head (in a good way)
  • Beyonce Knowles, Single Ladies
  • TI, Whatever You Like
  • Kings of Leon, Sex on Fire
  • The Gaslight Anthem, The 59' Sound
  • Santogold, LES Artistes
  • Kanye West, Love Lockdown
  • Usher, Love in this Club
  • Rhianna and TI, Live Your Life
  • Weezer, Greatest Man That Ever Lived

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Ten Things I Love About This Christmas

  1. Putting out oats and hay out in the front yard for the reindeers to snack on while Santa's leaving presents in the house.
  2. Deanna's buffet of cookies: Sugar, Tom Thumbs, Carmelitas, Mini Pecan Pies ....
  3. Spending lots of time with my BFF Bella
  4. Watching A Christmas Story and laughing non-stop through the whole thing even though I've seen it a million times. It holds up every year.
  5. Play Doh, toy trains, EZ Bake Ovens and Barbie.
  6. Waiting for Christmas dinner and all the delicious smells that go along with it.
  7. Watching Mark open his new DePalma Rock N Roll T-Shirt that I was so proud to get him.
  8. Discovering that I like the Wii. And I don't entirely suck at video games.
  9. Family. Even if they're three or four states away.
  10. Hanging out in my PJs all day long.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Eyes Wide Shut - The Script

On our way to Houston, I read the script for Eyes Wide Shut. It's actually a pretty quick read. Not terribly well written in terms of spelling, grammar and description. And tame. So tame compared to what I remember the film to be. I saw the film when it hit theaters years ago and felt "eh" about it. Some great performances, haunting score, beautifully shot, but felt lifeless to me. The script is interesting in comparison to the film. What would happen if you acted on your secret fantasies and desires? Literally flirting with death. The mess that you would leave behind. I don't know. Again, it just sort of left me feeling empty. If what we dream about stays in our head, we're safe. But when you disclose those fantasies, they're like giving your partner an itch they have to scratch. They infest your partners thoughts and trust, even.

I'd like to revisit the film, just to see how it all translated.

Dawson's Creek Revisited

I was never a follower of Dawson's Creek. Kevin Williamson's TV hit show post Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer. I caught it once or twice but never got hooked. Mark was sweet enough to get me a box set for my birthday this year, thinking probably that I (being a self proclaimed lover of teen films) must have been a big fan. Well, here are a few of the reasons I was not.
  • I never liked a guy like Dawson in high school. Bad hair, cheesy socks and pants. No really, he wears really bad socks in the show. I was a Jordan Catalano kind of girl. Skaters, punk kids with attitudes ... those are the boys that set my heart on fire.
  • The adults in Dawson's Creek are painfully awful. Mark and I were wondering if the kid actors were aware of how much they out acted the adults. Both their storylines and their performances are pretty cringe worthy.
  • It's extremely dated.
  • It doesn't even hold a candle to My So Called Life. That's a show that holds up ten years, fifteen years later. Just one little season outshines however many seasons of any other teen television show. Why? It has heart. And lots of it. And it's real. Through and through.
But here's the thing. I did love a few things about Dawson's Creek. That show gave us Katie Holmes, Michelle Williams, Michael Pitt and Joshua Jackson. Whoever did the casting for that show, nailed these kids. And thank god.

What's been fun is cozying up to my boy watching back to back episodes and giggling like mad at the cheesy dialogue and funny socks.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Brian de Palma - Essential AFS Cinema Series

Oh boy. What a treat for January and February. If you're not an Austin Film Society member yet, now is a good time to sign up!

Jan 13 – MURDER A LA MOD (1968, 80 min., B&W) at the AFS Screening Room

Jan 17 – GREETINGS (1968, 88 min., color) at the AFS Screening Room

Jan 20 – HI, MOM! (1970, 87 min., color and B&W) at the Alamo South Lamar

Jan 24 – DIONYSUS IN 69 (1970, 85 min., B&W) at the AFS Screening Room

Jan 27 – SISTERS (1973, 93 min., color and B&W) at the Alamo South Lamar

Feb 3 -- PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE (1974, 92 min., color) at the Alamo South Lamar

Feb 10 -- CARRIE (1976, 98 min., color) at the Alamo South Lamar

Signature Holiday Dish - Spinach Dip in a Bread Bowl

I didn't make it to as many holiday parties as I'd intended. Let's just say cramps kept me curled over in pain most of the weekend. But I realized that I have a signature party dish. It was one that I used a lot in my early 20s and now I'm revisiting in my mid-30s. Spinach dip in a bread bowl. It's cute, contained and it's good stuff. But unlike my early 20s when I used to make it fresh, now I get it from the local Central Market grocery store. I have every intention of making it from scratch but end up flaking out and buying it premade last minute. It's a pretty great signature holiday dish. One of the first to go at the food spread table. Go spinach dip!!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Slacker on YouTube

Now you can watch Richard Linklater's beloved debut feature, Slacker on YouTube.

Brought to us by the folks at Cinetic.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Script to Screen Class = Full

I just filled up my spring Script to Screen Class yesterday. It's officially jam packed. If you're still interested in the class, I can put you on the wait list. Just send me a note.

Love Me - The Read Through

I'm holding a read through of my teen thriller Love Me tonight. I'm inches away from taking it out. It's (hopefully) a fun, popcorn flick with a few twists and turns and some loveable teen characters. It's probably one of the most enjoyable experiences I've had writing a script. Maybe because it's a new genre for me. Anyhow, I hope to get final bits of feedback to give it a good polish before I make it out to Los Angeles again. I'm planning a trip in February. Tickets are dirt cheap! Dirt cheap. So yeah, that's the plan. I'd be cool with just selling the little thriller.

I'm almost finished with the first draft of a new one. I should have that draft wrapped up by the end of the year. It needs a ton of work, but the skeleton is there. It needs some soul infused into it. I want to keep it in the drama genre but it keep whispering in my ear to scoot it over to a thriller.

Next semester I'm doing an independent study class with some of my UT students from this semester. We'll each (it's a class for me too) be writing a feature script over the semester. I have a big, budget comedy for that one. I'm actually pretty impressed with my idea (good job, Kat!) It'll just take some time and concentration to pull it off. For some reason, right now I'm fixated on the idea of fathers and sons. Don't ask me why. I'm neither a father nor a son. And I'm also fixated on boy scouts. Again, I was never a boy scout, but my dad was a boy scout leader for years and years and my older brother was an Eagle scout. So I went on many a camping trip and suffered through Boy Scout Jamborees, box car races, spaghetti dinners ...

Arts and Labor - Group Hug

A little over a year ago I moved into an office at Arts and Labor Productions. Jason Wehling (August Evening) lured us into a collective of filmmakers who would office with and work with Arts and Labor (run by Alan Berg) on various projects (Dell, On Networks, industrials, documentaries). It started out as a super cool idea. A collective of film makers and film lovers with different skill sets (videography, writing, directing, graphics, sound design, editing ...) We would office next to each other in order to share ideas, contacts, pep talks. Over the course of a year it turned into an amazing circle of friends and a strong group of collaborators. Last night was our holiday party. Looking around at the faces ... some I see every day, some once a week and some every few months, but all of whom are the sweetest, kindest, hardest working, most talented group of folks you'll meet. I think I got super duper lucky falling into this little community. I heart Arts and Labor.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

End of Semester - UT RTF

We had our end of semester UT RTF screening at the Alamo South today. Oh man, I couldn't have been more pleased. These kids worked their little butts off and their hearts were all over that screen. A very big, beautifully projected screen. I was proud. So very proud.

What I've learned this semester at UT:

1) Don't underestimate what they don't know. Is that right? Because they think they know a lot, and that makes you think they know a lot, but really they don't know as much as they think they know. In fact far from it sometimes.
2) Be honest with them. Honest feedback helps. Sugar coated feedback doesn't.
3) Encourage them. Give them a chance. And if they fall, it's ok. Make sure they get back up, brush off their pants and keep going.
4) Make them reshoot. Sometimes it's not an option.
5) Stick to deadlines. Don't let their excuses sway you.
6) Know when to give them room and when to rein them in.
7) You can't hold their hands. They have to take responsibility.
8) They will surprise and delight you.
9) The quiet ones are sometimes the forces to be reckoned with.
10) The humble kids are usually the rock stars.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Unfaithful and Damage

I started writing a screenplay a month ago about adultery. It's a subject that I find compelling and one that I have very, very strong opinions about.

I've recently been watching films for inspiration. First Unfaithful. I remember really liking Unfaithful the first time I saw it in the theater. The film takes a hard look at the motivations or lack of motivations that propel a housewife into an affair with a sexy book seller. Stealing away from her suburban life of washing dishes, picking up after her son, lunching with girlfriends, she finds herself sneaking off to the city for a steamy affair with a sexy French man. But when her husband finally puts two and two together, it ends in complete and utter disaster. What I like about the film is Diane Lane's character, Connie. There's such confusion of emotions. The scene on the train of her remembering and crumbling, it's pretty riveting to watch. And what's interesting about this film is that the affair brings the husband and wife closer in the end. In a believable way. I guess what I like about this film is that I believe that it could happen and that it does. Even with a faithful husband and small child. It's heartbreaking, but I believe it.

Here's the thing ... I can almost (heavily emphasized) understand a one night fling if you're in a situation at home that leaves you hollow and depressed. But to go back again and again after that one time ... I don't get it. These are only guesses, (because I've never been in this situation) but I would assume that the pain and sickness that you'd feel about yourself would be unbearable. Especially if you have children. That to me is just downright inhuman. And again, I have pretty strong opinions. I'm not very forgiving when it comes to this kind of thing. Unfaithful still held up for me though. Especially the third act of the film which for some reason I'd forgotten. I have a lot of sympathy and respect for Richard Gere's character. He's a good man who loves his wife and would do anything for her, regardless.

Next up, Damage. I never saw the film when it first came out. I think I was too young maybe? It's pretty racy. Maybe it doesn't hold up with time, I don't know, but I didn't like it. Or rather, I didn't buy it. The whole introduction to Jeremy Irons and Juliette Binoche's affair isn't believable. They stare into each other's eyes at a party (without a single word) and then next thing you know they're ripping at each other's clothes. Maybe in our fantasies, but not in real life. And I didn't care about the characters because they didn't seem to care about each other. I never saw love in anyone's eyes. Besides those betrayed and left behind. And the idea that a father would continue an affair with his son's girlfriend and continue to want her long after his son's death (which was a result of the affair). Really? The film otherwise is stunning ... performances, cinematography, pacing, tone ... but I just couldn't believe it.

So I'm exploring what leads people (smart people) to affairs? People in committed relationships who truly love each other. Why would you risk all of that? I think it's probably different for women than for men. Or at least that's the sense I get in conversations with friends. But I find it really interesting.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Headphones = Cool

I think I look cooler with headphones. I'm wondering if I should buy a pair and wear them around town.

Music Obsessions - Santogold

I love this song so much. I've been listening to the album incessantly. I can't get enough.

I also can't seem to take Elliot Smith's Either/Or out of my car's CD player. I miss that guy.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Film Score Focus, Saturday, 12/13, 10AM

Brian Satterwhite a dear friend and talented composer hosts the show Film Score Focus show on Austin radio station 89.5 KMFA on Saturday mornings at 10am. This Saturday Brian will play selections from all of the films he's scored this year including Quarter to Noon. The score in Quarter to Noon is pretty wonderful. Everyone who sees the film always comments on the music.

Even if you don't live in Austin you can tune in here.

Slamdance - Zombie Girl (2008)

Sundance announced their entire line up. Features, midnight screenings, shorts. I don't know a soul who got in. Usually there's at least someone, but this year, no one. The folks I would've expected to ... nope. The only friends I know who got into Sundance or Slamdance this year are the team behind Zombie Girl: The Movie. I couldn't be more pleased for these boys. They deserve it up and down. It's a great film with a huge heart. But I wouldn't have expected anything less from them. So congratulations Aaron, Erik and Justin!

Footage Happy

I can't put the footage down. I'm super giddy for it. Mr. Marshall Rimmer ... give the boy a camera, some creative freedom and watch him do some kick ass work. Marshall, you did good, friend. You did real good.

Monday, December 08, 2008

New Moon Minus Hardwicke

So word hit the streets today that Ms. Hardwicke is no longer attached to direct New Moon, the second installment in the Twilight series. They blame schedules, but I suspect it's for other reasons. I'll be really curious who they pick for the next round of Twilight madness.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Ninja James - Wrapped

Yesterday marked our last day of production. We got rained out a few weeks ago and had to postpone until after the holidays. I'm glad we did. We got some great stuff yesterday. Luckily no one got arrested. I'm not kidding about that. We were driving a 3-4 mile circle around downtown Austin with two prop cars, three actors, two cameras and a pick up truck. Between the two cameras and camera guys strapped in with bungee cords and two of my over enthusiastic actors who really played the part of bullying gang boys, I'm surprised the cops didn't stop us and make any arrests. My heart was pounding and some times I had to turn my head in fear. I will say that plenty of innocent bystanders either got super nervous or were thoroughly entertained by our theatrics. All in good fun.

So now we start the post production process. A heavy post production process. It'll take a good little while to piece it all together, add in the visual effects and get it looking as strange, kinetic and stylized as it is in my head. This has been a major experiment for me. I'm crossing my fingers that it plays out on screen.

I'm happy it's Sunday. It's been weeks since I've had a whole free day to myself. I went to bed at 8:30pm last night and didn't get up until 8am this morning. I plan to spend the rest of the day in all out laziness.

Glory at Sea (2008)

I missed Glory at Sea at SXSW this past year. When I finally watched it this morning online, it stole my heart. I'm a big fan of their other film Death to the Tinman so it was no surprise that this film surpassed all expectations from what I'd heard from friends and around the festival circuit. While you're sitting on your lunch break or up late surfing the web, take the time to watch this film. The vision, imagination and heart that this team brings to the screen is something I haven't seen in a long time.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Alone in the Dark (1982)

A film so cheesy and wonderful. Full of a few honest to goodness frights. A great synth soundtrack. Laugh out loud performances and dialogue. Pink hair, leggings, hockey masks ... and characters named Bunky. And Murdoch from the A-Team as the lead. It can't get more 80s that that. Loved it!

Butt-Numb-A-Thon Poster

Gordon made a pretty sweet poster for this year's Butt-Numb-A-Thon.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Ciao Opens NYC

Yen Tan's quiet, beautiful film CIAO opens in NY this weekend at the Landmark Sunshine Theater. Please go support this stunning film in its opening weekend. I promise you won't be disappointed. It slips under your skin and sticks with you long after you leave the theater.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

It's a small, quiet film about a boy who takes care of his younger sister after their home is destroyed during WWII Japan and their parents become a casualty of war. It's a story about the lengths you'll go for someone you love. Gorgeous to watch and heartbreaking to experience.

Ninja James - Last Shooting Day

We're prepping for the very last day of shooting (I hope). Rimas and Chadwick have been putting together a loose first cut to see what we might be missing. Sunday Chadwick and I will meet, put our heads together and get crackin' on some major editing.