Act One in Chicago

This event is well worth attending.

Fun news! Act One is coming to Chicago for a one-day seminar Saturday, September 17 at Park Community Church ( 1001 N. Crosby St. Chicago , IL 60610 ). If you’re a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, cultural investor, or just generally interested in film, television, and new media, come join us as we discuss GETTING MOVIES MADE: FROM SHORTS TO INDIES TO BLOCKBUSTERS.

Academy Award-winning producer Ed Saxon (THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, ADAPTATION, PHILADELPHIA ) will present on HOW HOLLYWOOD REALLY WORKS. Act One’s Terence Berry and Justin Bell will discuss LAUNCHING YOUR INDEPENDENT FILM PROJECT, and Sundance Film Festival winner Michelle Steffes will guide us through WRITING, DIRECTING, AND PRODUCING A GREAT SHORT FILM. It’s going to be an awesome day!!

Cost is $25. RSVP to terence@actoneprogram.com. Pay is at the door.

See the attached flyers for all the vital details, including the full schedule and speaker bios.

Hoping you can join us!!

Truly,

Act One Staff

Persuasion, BBC 2007

I’m not that sure I’ve read Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion. I recall Bridget read it, but if I did, it was long ago.

I saw this BBC adaptation on Netflix and thought, “Why not?” and I’m glad I did. Persuasion is simpler than Austen’s other works like Pride and Prejudice or Mansfield Park. There are some minor storylines, but we don’t get invested in them as we do in Austen’s other books.

In Persuasion, Anne Elliot is surprised when her former fiancé Mr. Wentworth re-enters her life eight years after she turned him down. Her father’s squandered his fortune and must lease his grand home. His tenants turn out to be Mr. Wentworth’s sister and brother-in-law.

She has not gotten over him and he still feels the sting of rejection. Anne rejected Wentworth due to the persuasion of her relatives who believed he was too poor for her. Now he’s returned after acquiring a fortune for his success in the navy.

This book lacks a confidante for the heroine and doesn’t have as much wit as one finds in say Sense and Sensibility or Emma or P&P. Yet I was drawn into the story wondering how the couple would get together. Austen wrote while suffering with the illness that eventually killed her. (Experts can’t agree on what it was.) Thus this book wasn’t revised as carefully as her other books.

While I did like the story it was hard to understand why Wentworth was so smitten with Anne, why he couldn’t forget her. She wasn’t especially beautiful and because she isn’t shown amongst friends we don’t see her wit or spark. She’s a good, dutiful young woman with a churlish family. It’s a short film at just about 90 minutes so you don’t have much time to wish for more characters or dialog. The film moves along at a clip.

 

One Tree Hill, Season 4 Finale

The original intertitle (Seasons 1-4) focuses ...

Image via Wikipedia

Well, when I was in New Mexico, I thought I watched the last disk of One Tree Hill‘s season 4, but I found the 6th disk when I got home. So what I reviewed before was not the finale. So, yes, the series did tie up plenty of the loose ends as the characters finished high school.

  • Dan actually turned himself in for the murder of his brother Keith and attempted suicide.
  • Karen had a girl, and Haley had a boy. Karen’s delivery was touch and go, but after a
  • Brooke confessed to cheating in calculus and got off scott-free. That whole line was odd as calculus isn’t a required class and it was never clear why a so so student like Brooke would take it. That’s one of the problems with One Tree Hill sometimes the plot is so far fetched.
  • Rachel returned and threw a party allowing her guests to spray paint throughout her livingroom because we assume her parents have sold the house. Right like that would happen. Is she so indifferent to her home? Even with the idea that her parents are uncaring and checked out, you’d expect she’d care about the house a little or that someone would question it. Nope.
  • Nathan lost his scholarship and tried to get some college to let him play basketball. No luck. Then the retiring coach, Whitey took a job coaching a hopeless team at a so so college. He took it and brought Nathan on to the team and so he’ll go to college. Also, Lucas will work as assistant coach for Whitey.
The last two episodes just seemed a bit bland and overly nostalgic. I felt nothing new and exciting happened and the revelations for the future were ho hum, unlike the usual end for One Tree Hill. Still there’s something infectious about this program. Despite the flaws, there’s enough that I like so I’ll soon begin watching season 5.

the help

A fine film about a horrible time when the middle and upper classes of Mississippi were blind to the hideousness of the racism that kept their households running. (If they weren’t blind, they’d taken denial to new heights.) Based on the best selling novel, the film follows an aspiring journalist who after getting a job as a columnist writing about house cleaning decides to expose the inequity inherent in a society where African American women raise white people’s children, cook all their meals, and keep their homes immaculate, yet can’t use the same restrooms not just in town, but  in the homes where they work. It’s a look at a society that is starched and genteel, where asking a few questions about the injustice all around them is sure to get you in trouble, big trouble.

Skeeter, the journalist, doesn’t really belong in pink and poofy Jackson, Mississippi as the civil rights movement begins. She’s smart and hasn’t rushed into marriage as all her friends have. She wants a job and respect. This frustrates her Southern Belle mother to no end. Her goal is to write about “The Help.”  The hard part is convincing the housekeepers to participate. Most know that in this society where vengeance is swift and severe.

The film is touching and often humorous, though there were a couple parts I didn’t quite by. I do think anyone would detect the smell or consistency or something about the special ingredient the housekeeper she fired added. Yet that was a small matter. I liked the film, though I hated Mississippi. I just kept thinking “How can anyone stand living here?” Even in the days of Jim Crowe, Mississippi was considered the most racist state.

What’s interesting about the plot of the book is that while the action develops, there isn’t much change in the characters. Skeeter becomes moderately successful, but she never was a racist. Her beliefs were just confirmed. The housekeepers, Aibileen and Minny, become a bit braver, but it’s not like they’ve gone under a major change. They were always strong, smart women. None of the racists change. So much for scriptwriting rules — and that’s okay by me. This was more plausible. I’ve grown tired of the same old narrative structure and its rules.

Raise Your Glass: The Glee Project

Here’s the final video for the 2011 The Glee Project. It was exuberant and excellent. Hats off to the director, choreographer and all the cast. I said it before, but it was great to see all the 12 contenders reunite for a final number.

The last show was gripping. After the video, all four finalists had to sing a song of their own choosing. I’d say Lindsay’s “Gimme Gimme” was the most memorable, though everyone sang well. It was tense waiting to hear who’d be chosen. Executive Producer Ryan Murphy drew the process out quite dramatically. First the Glee cast members and TGP voice coach, Nikki, were polled for feedback and each person asked gave both the pros and cons of the final four: Lindsay, Alex, Damien and Samuel. Ryan and the other writers had to decide in the end and admitted that they spent the week arguing over whom to choose.

First Murphy told Alex he wouldn’t be on the show. Then Lindsay was told the same. Damien and Samuel remained. I was rooting for Damien, though I’ve liked Samuel and think he does bring something different to the cast.

Murphy announced that Samuel had won a seven episode spot on Glee and I felt an odd disappointment. Guess I wanted Damien (or Lindsay) more than I realized.

Murphy asked Damien how he felt about not winning and the answer was sincere and gracious. To mix things up in this reality show genre, Murphy then announced that Damien would also get a seven episode spot. Then he announced that Alex and Lindsay would be on two episodes each. Win win win win.

Now some purists may feel Murphy et al cheated, but that’s silly. They need more performers for this coming season. Why would you let go of talented people? I’d also like to see Hannah and Cameron appear this season or next. I hardly think that’s cheating. That’s doing your job well.

Related articles

Finale: The Glee Project

For now I’ll just say The Glee Project went out with a bang. Such a wise final choice.

There were some nerve racking moments. The last video Raise Your Glass was exuberant.

It’s been a four star series.

More later.

The Glee Project

This week was quite dramatic, but then the final decision was quite satisfying.

The theme was “Generosity” and the music video featured each of the final four singing with a child from an L.A. music program. Of all the episodes’ videos this one just didn’t wow me.

As a game changer rather than saving one of the four, all had to sing and rather than Zach and Robert deciding with Ryan whom to eliminate, Ryan called in his co-creator to decide.

I would be okay with Alex leaving as his personality seems so flat. If Sam were to go this week, though I could see him as an interesting choice, I wouldn’t shed any tears.

 

SPOILER ALERT

In the end all four contenders, Lindsay, Alex, Sam and Damien were allowed to return. No one was eliminated, which seems like a wise decision. It doesn’t serve the show to get rind of someone when they can let them come back and show more range, depth and talent.

Americanizing Shelley

I am reading Shaw’s Pygmalion for my online book club and thought I’d be adventurous and get a film adaptation other than My Fair Lady. So I chose Americanizing Shelley. It’s loosely based on Pygmalion and shows the story of a young Indian woman who was betrothed at an early age to a boy. Now she plans to marry him since she finished Home Ec College. He’s been in the U.S. for years and has his sights on another.

I started the DVD and after a couple minutes the stilted dialog and low production values got the best of me. There’s just too much that’s good on TV that this “Let’s make a film!” just doesn’t cut it. Yes, I believe a filmmaker can make a good film on a tight budget, but a good script is essential. Here it’s missing. Unless you’re connected to someone in the production, choose something else.

One Tree Hill, Season 4, 5

I finished watching the finale of season 4 of One Tree Hill. It’s been a high-octane season and I felt it was wise to have the characters’ senior year run across two seasons. That decision allows the writers to create more stories and postpone the problems of a post-high school year on a show that is set in high school. I did think the three prom related shows got tiresome and the actual prom had too much violence for my taste. I really did not need to witness Peyton get attacked again by her stalker.

As usual for One Tree Hill, the finale ends with a bang, a cliffhanger with plenty of adrenaline so I wanted to see how season 5 began. Well, I turned to Netflix to stream the season 5 premiere and was disappointed to discover that it’s unavailable. I put the DVD in my queue, but I’m miffed that it’s not available for streaming.

Thoughts on Season 4:

  • Deb has become too much of a caricature and joke. She’s also disappeared. It seems they don’t know what to do with her.
  • I’m glad Peyton and Lucas are together.
  • It took too long for Dan to be revealed to at least one main character as Keith’s murderer.
  • The Clean Teen storyline was interesting, but could have been better. They didn’t need dorky T-shirts. Too bad Glee preceded this show as I think these writers could learn from Ryan Murphy, especially if he does get a Christian character in this season, on how to handle such characters with complexity and respect, which is so much more interesting.
  • Why hasn’t Brooke taken responsibility yet for the cheating. That she’s let Rachel get expelled is deplorable, but she doesn’t completely see that yet.
  • I see from Netflix that the show will jump from senior year to post-college. While I understand how that allows the writers to keep all the characters in the same city, which wouldn’t happen in a small North Carolina town with no college, I do feel cheated. My friend Sally who gave me four seasons of DVDs with the idea of hooking me, has found the post high school seasons lacking. I’ve caught just one or two episodes of season 8 this summer and boy, is Haley and Nathan’s son poorly written. What an obnoxious brat. Clearly, a child who gets too much attention.
  • i do like that the show is edgier than most young adult programming, but I also am so aware that these actors are 25 not 18.
  • I continue to find the absence of adults just weird. Were we really supposed to buy that Mouth would get away with not calling his parents when he was imprisioned in Texas? Now that episode was an example of how the audience is often asked to buy a very far fetched set up, to enjoy the humorous pay off of the whole gang crashing a small town Texas prom in funky 70s dress. I do think One Tree Hill asks a lot of its audience and wonder if it isn’t too much and sort of an affront since they know their viewers are teens.

Thank You for Smoking

I learned in 1982, when I saw and read The World According to Garp, that, as a rule, if I saw the movie before I read the book, I liked them both but if I reversed the order, I was invariably disappointed by the movie.

So far the only exception that comes to mind isBrokeback Mountain but that was a short story. The key seems to be that whichever version has more detail should be experienced after that which has less detail.

The rule certainly held true with Thank You for Smoking. After reading the book, the movie was quite disappointing in its omissions. Rather than enjoying the movie for itself, I was left puzzling over the process of deciding what to include and what to omit.

That being said, in an effort to focus solely on the movie, let me point out that it was nominated for 15 awards, including two Golden Globes, and that it won six of those 15 (altho neither of the GG’s). For those who place stock in such awards, this is an indication that while the movie suffers in comparison to the novel, when considered on its own, it merits a viewing.

The plot outline from IMDB:

Tobacco industry lobbyist Nick Naylor has a seemingly impossible task: promoting cigarette smoking in a time when the health hazards of the activity have become too plain to ignore. Nick, however, revels in his job, using argument and twisted logic to place, as often as not, his clients in the positions of either altruistic do-gooders or victims. Nick’s son Joey needs to understand and respect his dad’s philosophy, and Nick works hard to respond to that need without compromising his lack of values. When a beautiful news reporter betrays Nick’s sexually-achieved trust, his world seems in danger of collapsing. But there’s always one more coffin nail in Nick’s pack. Written byJim Beaver {jumblejim@prodigy.net}

By Bridget