Feel Good Films: BABY DRIVER and THE BIG SICK

Fun movies are back! Really fun! Movies that make you grin for 2 hours, then text your friends, then spread the word on social media.

For a while it seemed like movies were getting darker and more depressing — with overly-flawed characters fucking up, and endings leaving you wondering whaaaaa?

But now that the world is getting darker, films are lightening up and providing a much-needed escape from News that just gets more bizarre with every alert.

Meant to post about these two fab films right after seeing them opening weekend, but got busy-busy and kept putting it off.  Still they stayed with me.  So, here goes…

My two favorite films of 2017 so far are —

BABY DRIVER  –

Edgar Wright’s passion project is totally in sync… the story, the music, the choreography, the cast to die for (Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Jon Hamm, Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx.) BABY DRIVER’S got everything going for it from A to Z: Action, Bank robberies, Car chases, Danger, Electricity… you get the picture . For me to love-love-love a movie, it’s gotta have Romance, and it’s gotta have Heart. BABY DRIVER has both! Plus it has chills and thrills!  I can’t say enough good things about this summer surprise. It’s a little bit unexplainable —you’ve gotta experience it yourself.

 

THE BIG SICK —

Speaking of ROMANCE, this is the awkwardest, charming-est, funniest true-life-love story of Silicon Valley star Kumail Nanjiani’s and writer Emily V Gordon’s up-and-down, culturally doomed, physically challenged love-connection. Hilariously written by the couple and produced by Judd Apatow, THE BIG SICK is fresh, funny and frustrating. By the end you’ll feel like Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter and Ray Romano are all part of your own family you feel like hugging one moment, murdering the next.

BABY DRIVER and THE BIG SICK are the kind of films I’d love to audition for, be cast in, see again for the first time… you get the picture… sigh…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FORMING FUTURES: Actors with GUTS

I love living in L.A. I love seeing Independent Films on opening weekend with Q&As by Directors or Writers or Actors. These usually happen at The Landmark, Arclight or Sundance Cinemas on Sunset. And they’re easy to get into if you buy your tickets online in advance.

Just saw two good films, DEAN and BAND AID, each with Q&A’s led by a lead Actor who’s also the Director and the Writer of his/her film.

Demetri Martin (DEAN) and Zoe Lister-Jones (BAND AID) are the Triple Threats possessing talent that crosses over into just about everywhere. These Hollywood Hybrids have stick-to-itiveness, charisma and the courage to turn their dreams into financed films, Festival Darlings and films that open with Q&As in major cities.

Like me and most Actors (except for maybe Actors like Jennifer Lawrence and Dwayne Johnson) Martin and Lister-Jones became frustrated with a system in which Actors are at the mercy of someone else’s vision and conflicting priorities. Unlike me, they’ve got the balls to go all the way.

Demetri Martin is the heart and soul of DEAN

Martin is more than a Triple Threat, he’s a Quadruple! Yes, besides being the Director, Writer + Talent, he’s also the Illustrator of charming sketches that share the screen with live action and offer insight into the mind and mood of the main character, “Dean.” Martin’s very personal film is about loss, love and coming-of-age. He’s surrounded himself with a talented cast, including Gillian Jacobs, Reid Scott, Kevin Klein and Mary Steenburgen and has allowed them the freedom to do what they do best. The film’s got cool music and cool images. Martin tells his heartfelt story in a very funny and relatable way.

Speaking of relatable, that’s how I’d describe Demetri Martin. He’s hilarious, but never in that typically Stand-up Comic “ON” sorta way. His talent and humor sneak up on you. I loved hearing his stories about his trip to the East Coast to pitch Kevin Kline and how that meal changed everything — or how Martin struggled to stay in character on set when the next day’s location had just fallen through completely.

Zoe Lister-Jones’s BAND AID is about love, pain and rock ‘n roll therapy

BAND AID’S premise spoke to me immediately when I saw the trailer: “Young Couple (Zoe Lister-Jones and fabulous Adam Pally from The Mindy Project) starts a band and turn raw-and-real fights into songs to save a marriage.”

Lister-Jones is the Director, Writer, Female Lead and the actual, songwriter,  so she too is a Quadruple Threat. Kudos to Lister-Jones for hiring an all-female crew and for surrounding herself with smart Actors who are known for comedy, but can expose dramatic truths. Lister-Jones is one of the best parts of LIFE IN PIECES, but you can really see her incredible range and willingness to show vulnerability in BAND AID. Adam Pally’s really impressive in the way he does double-duty with his voice saying one thing, while delivering an even more powerful message with his eyes — particularly in the last Act. Keep Reading»

A COUNTRY WITHOUT A CONSCIENCE

“trust me…”

Hollywood may’ve gotten a bad rap this past election year, but when it comes to negotiations, they’ve set a great example for “how its done.” After twisty-turny, last-minute negotiations, Hollywood is getting its happy ending!

Sadly, it’s not the same for Healthcare in America.  After yesterday’s vote, when many of the Congressmen didn’t even take the time to read the bill they rushed to vote on —

They Took The Healthcare Crisis off LIFE SUPPORT!

The CHARACTER of our COUNTRY has sunk to a new low as House Republicans (mostly white men) gloated in the White House Rose Garden after passing a bill that takes away Healthcare for Americans, but gives Tax Breaks to wealthy donors and big corporations.

Disturbing on so many levels, if you have something wrong with you, it’ll cost you a lot more per year to deal with it. For instance it’ll cost over 140K annually for patients with metastasized cancer (as if their problems aren’t already overwhelming enough.) And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Keep Reading»

Writer’s Strike 2017: Will They or Won’t They?

… when the contract EXPIRES!

Will Writers Strike?

I hope they won’t. Not after the long-term effects of the last strike. But I totally get why the WGA must fight for important deal points, just as SAG/AFTRA does to protect Actors. As the industry shifts from lengthy network series to condensed shows on premium channels (like HBO, Showtime) and streaming services (like Netflix, Hulu) traditional season orders get replaced with smaller episodes.  An insanely competitive field gets even more insane as the rules and opportunities change. Pay cuts result. Health plans become unhealthy (aka nearly bankrupt.) Writers and their families get SCARED.

Fears Rise from PRIMETIME TO DAYTIME

They’re down to the wire. It’s hard to know which way things’ll go. The effect of any strike always casts a wide net: Producers, Directors, Actors and everyone on set from the DP to the grip loses work. Everyone who supplies that set loses business.  Opportunities shrink. Bank accounts dwindle. Still bills must be paid. Businesses must go on.

As an Actor I hope-hope-hope there won’t be a work shutdown, along with its inevitable domino effect. The last time there was a writer’s strike, reality shows started multiplying obnoxiously. The work that was around wasn’t polished and it showed. Even with the best of intentions, side-effects of a strike can be painful to many. Keep Reading»

I’m OBSESSED — Gotta get outta town

but, Jon — that was then, what about now?

I don’t even recognize myself. My brain has been invaded by CNN and I’m feeling a little insane. Gotta get out of L.A. and away from the NEWS. It’s on in the background at all times — day and night. It’s like I live at an old person’s place! But it’s my place. OMG!

The news is EVERYWHERE —

It’s on at the hospital… and it’s on at my dentist’s office… and where I take my care to be serviced… and in my car.  Oh. Okay, yeah, I can’t help myself. I feel like I’ll miss something — like the world coming to an end or the impeachment announcement. I really do need to experience the impeachment announcement IRT.  And I’m not the only one I know who’s suddenly obsessed with politics. EVERYONE I know is obsessed. OBSESSED! When it’s between Scandal and a real-life scandal, we now watch Rachel Maddow. It’s riveting TV. RI.VET.ING.

CDs can’t read your mind, or can they?

Meanwhile back to my So-Called Life —

I’ve been going through the motions with auditions where they’re uninterested in me and I’m uninterested in them. With Casting Directors you can easily tell. It’s all in their body language.  Like it’s probably in mine. I know, I know. But…  I’d be psyched for challenging projects…exciting projects… projects that would make me feel proud to be an Actor. But those are few and far between. At least for me… these days.

Nothing WOWs me lately. Dr. Crush called me twice and texted me three times last week, and I didn’t feel nervous at all. No butterflies. I feel like I’m living in a fog… Keep Reading»

And Justice For All: Good News

growing stronger!

Phew! There actually are checks-and-balances protecting U.S. citizens (and Actors!) I’m heartened by a few examples this week.

A glimmer of light, at least for now —

First and most famous is the public way our “No Rules” President learned that uhmmm… there actually are rules…  And that it might be wise to stop insulting judges like the courageous Judge Robart and start respecting the separation of powers because in some cases other powers like the 9th Circuit Appeals Court are getting the last word. At least for now.  Now until Trump drafts a new ban to announce next week, and we all get back on the roller coaster.

What I’m most pleased about this week is that true Americans on both sides of the aisle continue to investigate charges of collusion between Team Trump and Russia… during the election and after the election. It’s looking more and more like this was a carefully choreographed plan to elect Trump,  partner with Russia and implement whatever the hell Putin and Trump want.

This week Trump’s beyond-controversial Security Advisor Michael Flynn changed his story about discussing sanctions with the Russian Ambassador… coincidentally on the same day President Obama announced them, followed by Russia changing its response to Obama’s sanctions from “We will reciprocate.” to “Uh, maybe not at this time.” Now all of the “fake news” organizations are reporting this: CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post. It’s been an eventful week. Oh yes, Mr. President. Keep Reading»

Proud of my Hospital / Embarrassed by my Country

It’s Amateur Hour in the White House as our new President blusters through his first week, one-impulse-at-a-time. The news causes so much stress and embarrassment, I find myself spending more time at the hospital volunteering in the ER to try to make up for the arrogant behavior coming from our highest office. When I can’t listen to the news a moment longer, I go to the the one place where I can treat people from all over the world fairly and kindly and at the very least show that we’re not all like Donald Trump. Keep Reading»

I’M A SLAVE IN E.R.!
Sentenced to volunteer at Greater L.A. Medical (GLAM!) Hospital... I'm on-call in my worst nightmare -- ?!
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