Friday, July 28, 2006

July 28, 1996...A Decade Later.

It's hard to believe it's now been 10 years, a whole decade, since the night my life changed forever.

For a time back then I thought I was finished. That I'd go back to Albany, N.Y. and be done...with everything. Since then I've achieved so much. A lot more than I could have ever imagined coming away from life in Baltimore. I live in LA, I work in the film industry, and have achieved the level of success I set my sights on since first picking up that Newsweek magazine and reading an article about Avid and digital editing.....and there's more to come.

In that time I've cut:

- 4 feature films starring the likes of Sean Astin, Bruce Campbell, and Morgan Fairchild

- promos and trailers for both Showtime and HBO in New York City

- trailers for a number of independent features

- numorous film and television promos, a music video, and DVD supplemental material for 5 major films, all studio projects in Los Angeles

- plus cutting a series of film montages for 2 of the Hollywood Bowl's "Big Picture" performances

Tonight, Crystal and I will be heading out for an anniversary dinner where I'll not only reflect on what happened 10 years ago, but also celebrate what I've accomplished in my career to this point. Certainly not a downer evening, just marking an important and major milestone.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Comic-Con Wrap Up...Yes, It's Coming.

After a pretty intense weekend at Comic-Con together with my dentist appointment on Monday, I'm really beat at the moment. Need a few days off from work just to recuperate. Unfortunately that's not happening. Getting my thoughts together to put the finishing touches on The Big Wrap-Up...with plenty of photos. Stay Tuned, it'll be up by this weekend I promise.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Comic-Con Day 2

Wow! So much programming today!

First up was Bryan Singer who answered post release questions about "Superman Returns", then brought out a very special surprise guest...Richard Donner!!! And the crowd went wild! They spoke of their relationship fused from Bryan taking up the Superman mantle. Great presentation with 5 minutes of bloopers from "Returns" as well as "Superman, The Movie". Amazing!!! Topping it all off was Marlon Brando (the floating Jor-El head shot) giving the camera the finger. Priceless.

The "Superman II" :The Richard Donner Cut presentation was awesome!!! Plus Richard Donner made a surprise appearance there as well. They ran the opening 12 minutes of the new cut. Man I had to wipe my eyes at one point. It was just very emotional finally seeing what was originally intended by Donner. The fact that now you see the missle Superman diverts in the first film, freeing the villians from Krypton. And they ran a scene where Lois tries to trick Clark into revealing his Superman by jumping out of a Daily Planet window. Incredible stuff no one has ever witnessed before!

Plus "Snakes On A Motherfucking Plane"!! Samuel L. Jackson was just too funny. Everything was motherfucking this and motherfucking that. Even from fans when they asked questions. Don't really want to see the movie, I just get a kick out of the whole pop culture thing surrounding the internet buzz that has grown beyond anything ever before. A title card came up during the preview that said, 'the most talked about movie of the year....and it isn't even in theaters yet!'.

Well it's Saturday morning and I'm trying to get out the door for what will certainly be an insane day as far as attendance is concerned. Because when I got up at 8am the sidewalk and streets were already full of people. This place is great! Can I live here?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Comic-Con Day 1

Oops! Once I arrived here Wednesday night I realized I forgot the cable to transfer photos from my camera to the laptop. So unfotunately there won't be any pics posted until I get back.

On the up side, Thursday was great. I managed to make my way through almost half of the exhibit hall as opposed to only 1/4 last year. Too much stuff! Saw a couple of great Wonder Women and a lot of Anime costumes running around. Plus, while I was eating some lunch, I spotted this guy wearing a Greatest American Hero T-shirt (red shirt with the logo on the chest). I half choked on my tuna sandwich as I tried to flag him down. I asked where he got it, thinking he'd probably bought it on E-bay and there was only one. Turns out he was selling them and had a large bag at his side full of just that! I bought two since I never expected to see such a thing again. Nice!

God bless my room at The Marriott. Les than a hundred steps and I'm in the convention center! Plus I can see everyone heading for the main doors from my window. Just too sweet! It's Friday morning now and I'm up so I can get down there early and get in line. Bryan Singer's talk is scheduled for 11am. Must be near the front if possible. It's also Star Wars Day and I'll be wanting to check out Steve Sansweet's talk later on. And let's not forget the "Superman II" preview! Gotta run....!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Comic-Con Updates

Starting tomorrow I'll be posting a mini report each day on Comic-Con that will hopefully include a photo or two. Even though the program says Friday is Star Wars Day, it'll really be Superman Day for me. What with Bryan Singer's Q&A plus the Big Blue tribute event that includes a preview of the Richard Donner "Superman II" cut. Stay Tuned!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Bombs Away!

What should we and the rest of the world do about the Israel/Labanon conflict now raging. Absolutely nothing!

Let them blow each other to Hell...right off the map. Maybe they can wipe out Iran and the whole Middle East in the process. Then, what few survivors are left (they should nuke each other of course), will realize that fighting is wrong, start a federation, build starships, and explore the galaxy...just like what happened in "Star Trek". Of course they'd end up pissing the Klingons off in the long run...but UNTIL then..., really.

Did I Mention I Hated This Project?

I am now in the home stretch, one more day, before heading down to San Diego for Comic-Con. God Bless It!

After fudging around about getting us what we needed for the Astaire/Rogers project, Warner Bros. has asked for a resonably finished first cut by this Friday. Yeah, right! Unfortunately we don't have time to do that so they're getting what I've completed so far. This coming from the head of Sparkhill who is very fed up with their treatment of us regarding the project. Too many elements, not enough time.

No matter...all of this will be out of sight for the next four days as I immerse myself in the world of comics, movies, and sci-fi. AND a much needed break and mini vacation. Tonight I'll be packing to leave straight from work tomorrow evening. When I get back I'll pretty much be pushing through the Astaire/Rogers project to get to the "Face-Off" Special Edition DVD.

Monday, July 17, 2006

This Week, Comic-Con!

Yes true believers, it's time once again for Comic-Con!

I am practically counting down the hours until Wednesday night when I leave work, and the unwielding Astaire/Rogers project at Sparkhill behind, to enjoy 4 uninterupted days (Thursday thru Sunday) of movies, sc-fi, and comics. Top on my list is a special preview of "Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut" DVD. . The blurb in Friday's schedule reads, "Q&A with Marc McClure, Jack O'Halloran, Tom Mankiewicz (creative consultant), Michael Thau (editor in charge of the SII reconstruction), and more. Also in attendance super-secret special guests from the Adventures of Superman, Lois and Clark, Smallville, Superman The Animated Series, and Superman Returns!". Also on Friday, Bryan Singer will be answering "Superman Returns" follow up questions and talk about what some of the possibilities are for the second film, already given the 'go' by the studio. That's a 'must attend' as well. Kevin Smith will also be giving the fans an hour and a half to yack about "Clerks II" and his movies in general.

The Arclight in Hollywood is having a Q&A with Kevin following a special screening of Clerks II". The only problem is the screening is July 21st, opening day for the movie. Arrrggghhhhh! I really want to go but can't because I'll be down in San Diego! Then they added two more shows that same night because of the overwhelming response. All three quickly sold out. I started wishing they would schedule another after Comic-Con for the fans that couldn't make those. Kevin of course goes to Comic-Con every year and would certainly be in tune with the crossed schedules and plight of the people who couldn't make the trip. Finally a second night of Q&A screenings was added for Sunday night, July 23rd. The good news, Comic-Con will be over by then. The bad news, I have a periodontist appointment just a half hour north of San Diego I specifically scheduled for the Monday after the event.

But the all around goods news is this; during this time I was finally able to confirm that Kevin was indeed attending Comic-Con despite his promotional obligations for "Clerks II". Halle-fucking-lujah! Even better; when they have a Q&A screening at The Arclight, audience menbers are given questionaire forms to fill out after which a production person decides the best of them to ask the celebrity guest. At Comic-Con, you get to walk right up to a microphone and ask the guest your question directly. Then when I get back to LA after the event I'll head to The Arclight to catch the film. Unless of course there's a bunch of fans heading to a local theater across the street during the event. That would probably be even more satisfying. Either way I win. I like winning!

Friday, July 14, 2006

I Hate This Project...Oh But Wait.

Well, the thing that I hoped would happen has not. I am now trapped until the end of the month working on the Fred Astaire/Giner Rogers project. No "World Trade Center" DVD for me. Uuugghhh!

This, an hour long featurette for the upcoming boxed set of all their movies, is such a long, prodding, and unwielding thing that's really hard to sort through sometimes. Stills, archival clips, interviews, props, behind the scenes studio footage from the 30's, blah, blah, blah, blah, fucking blah! Miles and miles and miles and miles and miles of it. The worst thing is my head is just not in this material. Yes I have a passing curiousity with these films, yet there is a lot that I am unfamiliar with and have to keep referring to this Warner Bros. musicals specialist and the producer for directions on what is correct and accurate to include and where in the piece to place it. Plus there's this whole legal thing with Fred Astaire's money grubbing widow about what stills and footage we can and cannot use. It's a real quagmire. Frankly I was sick of this project by the end of Day 1. Now it won't be ending until the last week in July.

The path towards doing "World Trade Center" slowly became longer and longer until it was literally out of sight. Three other editors are working on it now across the hall. The Astaire/Rogers project ended up starting later and later that there was no time for me to get a cut out then switch gears into Oliver Stone land. So due to the schedule I will have no part in "WTC". Have to say I'm pretty depressed about it. It's been really hard for me to focus on what's on my plate right now. I don't want to finish my meat, I just want the pudding!

Basically they decided to let me have a crack at it over this other editor who is a musical theatre fan because they wanted to have a fresh perspective. This could just be the usual dog and pony retrospective except they want it to have a unique visual style. Frankly, because of my limited knowledge and passion for this material, it probably will turn out very much like your basic retrospective. I feel strongly that the other editor could be putting a lot more warmth into this thing because of her interest as well as talent. They know she wanted to work on it and that I wanted "WTC". But again, the fresh editor concept. I tell you I'm not feeling very fresh and the moment. More like bread that's gone bad by about a week.


A week and half ago they wheeled in a cart that carried several boxes containing tapes for a new project. As the cart passed by one of the other editors she asked, 'what's that?'. The producer (who is working on the project) replied, 'oh it's "Face-Off"...for the special edition DVD'.

"FACE-OFF"??!!, I thought, half choking on that piece of chicken I had just put in my mouth at lunch. I love that movie! It's not one of my all time favorites, but definitely up there on my list of cool action flicks. I even have the soundtrack by Hans Zimmer that I love as well.

So immediately I went over the the producer and put a bug in his ear that I really liked the film and would love to work on the project. He was glad to hear that and said he'd see what he could do to get me on the schedule for it. A few days later, as I was passing by the big dry erase board, there it was...

"Face-Off"...scheduled for right after I finish with the Astaire/Rogers project. A really bright light at the end of the tunnel. God bless it!

It's funny because for the last few years I'd keep passing the DVD (which I own) in stores saying to myself, 'hey how about a special edition of that?'. Now, not only will my wishes come true, but that I'll be fulfilling them myself! Hey, this is becoming a hands on industry for me.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

"Superman Returns" Review

Waiting in line at Mann's Chinese Theater was great! I met quite a few people from whom I mingled in with right away after arriving. A little before 2pm on Tuesday, June 27th I found myself near the front of a line of 15 people. Thank God, because I was sweating a bit all morning about that. Didn't really have any notion of what to expect. Luckily I was able to break from the line a short time after to get some lunch at Hamburger Hamlet right across the street. I brought a few things to do and watch, including my video iPod with all 17 Max Fleischer Superman cartoons. Plus I was smart enough to pick up one of those over-your-shoulder folding chairs. As the day passed into night the line proceeded to wrap down to the corner and halfway to the next block.

Here's a pic of The Line right near the Chinese Theater court yard (in back of me). That guy with the camera looking up is taking a picture of this, high up on the TV Guide building facing us. Plus we had a celebrity visitor! Suddenly out of the blue, Stephan Bender, who plays young Clark Kent in the film, showed up to sign autographs and have his picture taken. So here we are! Just too cool.

I now have two viewings of "Superman Returns" under my belt. Aside from the 10pm show on July 27th I went again last Sunday night. So much was going on in the film the first time around I felt a need to see it a 2nd time to take everything in properly.

Wow! What a great movie! Not perfect but great. If you haven't seen the film yet, be aware that there are spoilers ahead! Here are the pluses:

Brandon Routh IS Superman. Just had to say that first and foremost. Not only does he encompass much of what Christopher Reeve was in the Richard Donner films, but he also brings his own heft and presence to an iconic role that could have easily been miscast. I love Nicholas Cage...but NO! Kate Bosworth makes a great Max Fleischer era Lois, especially in a scene where she argues with Perry White about doing an interview with Superman. I will also say Kevin Spacey IS Lex Luthor. Taking Gene Hackman's version into a darker realm that can be harsh and vicious. And he's not just an off-shoot of Hackman's Luthor but a great Luthor in general.

Right up at the top of my list in the WOW factor department is the plane rescue sequence. Holy shit, Batman! Amazingly orchestrated with top notch VFX, this is truly the buzz clip of the film. The flying in general is strong, visually stunning, and even poetic at times. And hey, his hair moves! Who knew. Saving Metropolis during the earthquake is also another amazing series of feats. The Planet globe falling being the most incredible. And Perry White looking up and saying, 'Great Ceasar's Ghost'...Yes!!! I didn't hear that the first time because everyone at the 10pm show was cheering when Superman caught the globe.

The set and costume design was top notch as well, nicely embracing a 1940's style (art deco, longer women's skirts) while staying firmly in the present. Again, very Max Fleischer.

The use of John Williams music was very appropriate and right on cue, never overstating. Once again, God Bless Bryan Singer for wanting nothing else! As the opening replay of Jor-El's voice and the explosion of Krypton (horrifyingly re-imagined) concluded and those familiar and incredibly recreated main titles starting flying out at us, I actually started to cry. Not only was it my reconnecting with the Christopher Reeve films once again in this new film, but it was almost like being transported back to my teen years seeing and hearing that original opening for the first time. Then when Superman took Lois for a flight around Metropolis and their love theme began I had to reach for the kleenex once more. This especially during my second viewing. That really touched me.

I very much wanted to see the sequence where Kal-El discovers some of the remnants of his long dead home world (as seen briefly in the first teaser trailer). Bryan Singer said after cutting the movie together the scene didn't seem to fit along with everything else. I'm sure it will show up on the DVD but still would have liked to see it included in the cut now.

It was nice to see cameos by Noel Neil and Jack Larson, plus I loved the connectors made to the Reeve films. Especially when Kitty says to Lex at the Fortress Of Solitude, "you act like you've been here before", and he says nothing! He didn't need to say anything because you just knew. Anything else would have begged for what could have been some half assed explaination. Nice. The sign on the broken Kryptonite glass container in the museum makes reference to 'Addis Ababa, 1978'. Of course the place where Lex stole the first rock in "Superman, The Movie", as well as the first film's release year. Good stuff. And let's not forget the Action Comics #1 cover pose recreated when Superman saves Kitty's car. Loved it!

Now for the things I had some issues with.

Big number one on my list is Lois' knowledge of the child's real father. This all leads back to the magic mind wipe kiss that Clark gave to Lois near the end of "Superman II". Of course, as Bryan Singer has stated in the past, "Superman, The Movie" and "Superman II" are a vague history of which this film follows. By using the term 'vague' you open yourself up to interpretation. In other words you can play around with stuff a bit. However when it comes to Superman getting Lois pregnant, you have to follow, almost to the letter, what role that 'Super kiss' played in what she does or does not know. Also, where was or is Lois' reaction of, 'hey if this kid has superpowers, and I am unaware that anything physical happened between you and I, Superman...then WHAT THE FUCK!!". Shouldn't she be pissed that somehow she didn't know how this happened. This whole situation could use a better explanation. Some people have asked the question, 'shouldn't Martha Kent be dead by now?'. This is something I'm willing to take in the 'vague history' department. No problem. Quick aside; loved when Clark through the baseball on the Kent farm and the dog just looked back at him like, 'what, are you fucking kidding me?!'.

Lex Luthor's plan to bring about a new continent is a little ill conceived. Perhaps he could have done something a bit different from his scheme in the first movie. I have to say from the time Superman lifted the crystaline continent to the hospital sequence things seemed a bit overwhelming and somewhat confusing. Did he die? It seemed very much like he did in the ER. Yet shortly thereafter when Lois visits him he is in a coma. How could he survive the fall from space if his powers had been drained to the point of unconsciousness?

These couple of things I was reasonably willing to forgive when I saw it the second time. And even though they still urk a little, I really, really enjoyed the film overall. In fact I'm going again this Thursday before it leaves Mann's Chinese Theater where it's playing in DLP. We're off to an amazing start and I can't wait to see what Bryan Singer brings us next in what has become the saga reborn. Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, and Kevin Spacey are all signed for two more movies.

I'm sure I'll have a few follow up observations later after my next viewing.