Hey folks, Harry here. CINEVEGAS was such a great fun time for the movie fans that went, but so much of what I saw were repeats or not the preferred choice at the given moment. That said, it was great to run into Zboneman aka Adam again. He brings up a fabulous film called THE FLYBOYS, which if any of you get a chance to see, seek it out. It is outstanding. The best HARDY BOYS movie ever. True BOY ADVENTURE filmmaking at its best. Anyway, here's Adam with his picks of Cinevegas!
Harry, Quint, Mr. Beaks, Merrick, and fearless Aint-It-Cool Crew, I hope all is well. I write for an entertainment site called Zboneman.com and every now and again, I like to send something your way. Especially if its in regard to a film or an event that will take away a little thunder from that piece of shit that is Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. I wouldn't call myself an all out Michael Bay hater, but when he subjects audiences to garbage like Revenge of the Fallen, I can't help but get pissed. But then he's a gazillionaire and I'm not so what the fuck do I know. Moving on, I had the honor of attending CineVegas a couple of weeks ago. Saw a lot of great stuff and even had the opportunity to chat with you, Harry. Informative conversation. I’m the one that talked to you about The Flyboys. Not the Dean Devlin produced film. This is the upcoming Rocco DeVilliers adventure movie with Stephen Baldwin and Tom Sizemore (both deliver career reviving performances). Further proof that an action movie doesn’t have to cost $200 million to be effective. You hear that Michael Bay? Anyway Harry, the first time I met you and Quint was at CineVegas back in 2002. The year Bubba Ho-Tep played. That was a shit load of fun. As for CineVegas 2009? It was the best yet. Sundance without all the stress. Just an amazing time. Trevor Groth and crew outdid themselves this year. Talked to several outstanding up and coming talents including Marc Webb (director of 500 Days of Summer), Brian Geraghty (star of Easier With Practice), Michael Godere (star of Daylight–no, not the Sylvester Stallone film), and Jeremy Renner (2002's Dahmer). Renner is going to be fucking huge after audiences see him in Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker. HUGE! He turns in an unforgettable performance in that movie. So, I saw tons of movies at CineVegas this year. In the neighborhood of eighteen. Some great (Duncan Jones' haunting Moon, Armando lannucci laugh out loud political satire In the Loop), some not so great (the over-hyped, undercooked thriller Godspeed, and the tedious depression era drama Redland). I saw The Revenant which Harry really dug. There was a lot in that movie that I liked (great old school make-up effects), but ultimately, I found it overly long. Sort of an Americanized Shaun of the Dead, but not as clever. It’s a movie that would greatly benefit from a tighter edit. At an after party, I had a really great conversation with Revenant DP Peter Hawkins. I'm sure he'll be getting offers after this flick comes out. Very well shot, particularly for a cheapie. With all the films I saw at CineVegas 2009, I thought I'd bring up a few that really stuck with me. 500 DAYS OF SUMMER I’m currently working on an independent film. I’m serving as co-producer on a project called 13 Miles East Nowhere, and it’s my first foray into actual feature movie making. I’ve dabbled in short films and have a few un-produced screenplays to my credit, but I’d never attempted to take that next big step. Until now. For years, I’ve been writing about movies. Not because I fancy myself a critic, but because I love film with every fiber of my body. Being on the other side has been an exhilarating experience to be sure. As anyone will tell you, writing about film and working on a film are two entirely different beasts. I only bring this fact up because the wonderful new film 500 Days of Summer is inspiring no matter which side of the professional spectrum you’re on. As a fan of movies, it’s the kind of flick you always hope to see. As a film maker, it’s the kind of movie you hope to make. I first saw 500 Days of Summer at The Sundance Film Festival and what can I say? I LOVED EVERY SECOND OF IT! This is simply one of those charming, irresistible films that sticks with you. Trust me when I tell you; this cinematic gem will be 2009's “little indie that could”. Little Miss Sunshine, Juno, Slumdog Millionaire, etc. Add 500 Days of Summer to that impressive list. Needless to say, I was extremely excited when I saw this title on the CineVegas itinerary. So excited in fact, that I brought a sizable group of friends along to share in the experience. The verdict was unanimous. Everyone in my group (fifteen in all) loved it. If you think I’m overselling 500 Days of Summer, wait until you see it. At the heart of this wonderful film are two outstanding performances by Joseph Gordon-Leavitt and Zooey Deschanel. While many folks will remember Gordon- Levitt from his early days as a regular on 3rd Rock From the Sun, it’s the work he’s been doing lately that’s leaving a long lasting impression. With independent gems like Brick and The Lookout firmly tucked under his belt, Gordon-Levitt has emerged as a major talent. With the bittersweet but immensely entertaining 500 Days of Summer, this talented individual shows us a new side to his versatile repertoire. Likewise, the eccentric Zooey Deschanel is positively dazzling in this picture. Her offbeat nature serves the film well, and those who may only know her from dreck like The Happening will see what’s she’s truly capable of here. Individually, Deschanel and Gordon Levitt are terrific, but together, they are the personification of picture perfect chemistry. In 500 Days of Summer Gordon-Levitt plays Tom, a romantic who thinks he may have met the girl of his dreams. The problem is, the girl in question-- quirky but delightful Summer (played by Deschanel)--might not be “the one” after all. Talented first time director Marc Webb and observant screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber have fashioned a wonderfully nuanced take on relationships that manages to be light, complex, truthful, funny, and bittersweet all at the same time. Neustadter and Weber’s nonlinear approach perfectly compliments the subject matter because, as well all know, relationships can be extremely messy and erratic. Even though the film does jump around, delving into different stages of Tom and Summer’s relationship out of chronological order, the film never feels gimmicky or confusing. In fact, the fashion in which this movie unfolds, only makes the proceedings more poignant. The writing here is a surefire awards contender. At the surface, 500 Days of Summer appears as if it might play as a typical rom-con, but at its heart, its so much more. If anything, this is a romantic comedy for folks who don’t like romantic comedies. Neustadter and Weber break down the conventions that generally plague this particular genre making for something much more heartfelt and honest. In this regard, 500 Days of Summer sort of plays like a Cameron Crowe film (think Say Anything or Jerry Maguire). Marc Webb’s keen direction is also to be commended. 500 Days of Summer sparkles with energy and never misses a beat. The film even includes a dreamlike musical number which, in any other film, might have felt out of place. Here however, it feels right at home. And watch for a positively heartbreaking split screen sequence in which we see Tom’s "expectations" and "reality", play out simotaneously. This is stellar work. Webb is certainly a film maker to watch for in the future. I really can’t say enough nice things about 500 Days of Summer. I could gush for hours about the terrific supporting performances (Clark Gregg, Matthew Gray Gubler, and Geoffrey Arend in particular, bring a lot of humor to the picture). I could have endless conversations about the film’s amazing use of music. I could go on and on about why Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel are the cinematic couple of the year. I could continue to rave about Webb, Neustadter, and Weber for their wonderfully insightful work. At the risk of continuing to oversell this unforgettable film however, I think I’ll just shut up now. 500 Days of Summer speaks for itself, and when you see it, I’m quite certain you’ll agree. EASIER WITH PRACTICE Within the first ten minutes of writer/director Kyle Patrick Alvarez’s Easier With Practice, we are witness to unpublished novelist Davy Mitchell (played by Brian Geraghty) having phone sex with a complete stranger while in a hotel room on a book tour. After finishing the deed, he gently cleans himself off with a sock. While Alvarez wisely chooses to shoot this scene from the chest up, its still downright uncomfortable to watch. I bring up the explicit opening of Easier With Practice because, in the grand scheme of things, it’s a fairly deceiving opening. Deceiving in that this particular scene might lead one to believe their about to watch an entry in the American Pie series. Actually, Easier With Practice turns out be something so much more. It is a film about sex, but its also a poignant look into the life of a socially awkward man who is so confused and uncomfortable with those around him, that intimacy and love completely elude him. Through a strange but oddly meaningful relationship with someone he’s never actually met, Davy’s life opens up in ways he never thought possible. Matters are complicated however, when this odd and lonely writer reaches out in an attempt to meet his potential soul mate. Brian Geraghty is positively outstanding in this movie. As the complicated Davy, this terrific actor (who also excels in the recently released The Hurt Locker) brings an awkward vulnerability to the role, and at times, he reminded me a bit of a restrained version of Crispin Glover (if there is such a thing). Kyle Patrick Alvarez brings an incredibly insightful edge to the proceedings. His screenplay, based on Davy Rothbart’s autobiographical article for GQ, is sharp, heartfelt, and honest. He’s created a funny, provocative little film, and his use of close-ups bring to mind the works of Jonathan Demme, particularly during the outstanding final act when an unexpected encounter at a diner finds an emotional Davy handling a most uncomfortable situation with maturity and class. Easier With Practice won the Jury Prize at CineVegas 2009 and it was more than worthy of the honor. THE SQUARE The Square is a film I went to see based on Harry's recommendation. Truth be told, I really didn't know anything about the movie, but he told me it was worth a look so I took a chance. I'm really glad I did. This outstanding Australian import stars David Roberts as Ray, a hard working family man with a secret that could destroy his marriage. It seems that Ray is having an affair with next door neighbor Carla (Claire van der Boom). When Carla discovers a bag of loot left in the attic by her shady, thug of a husband, she hopes to use the money to entice Ray into starting a brand new life. Of course, money is the root of all evil, and an elaborate plan gone horribly wrong sets off a chain reaction of unexpected events that turns Ray’s seemingly normal life completely upside down. The Square was directed with nail biting intensity by stunt man Nash Edgerton. This film has a terrific build and by the final act, I wasn’t entirely sure what the hell was going to happen. As for the title of the flick? Lets just say when you discover what The Square is and how it fits into the plot, you’ll quickly realize that to name this movie anything else would have been completely foolish. There are many memorable moments in this picture, but there are two that really stuck with me. One involves a dog. This particular moment is a bit mean spirited, but the audience I saw the movie with completely got off on it. The other centers around a car chase with a gut wrenching conclusion. While the mid section of the film does sag a bit, The Square rebounds in a twisty, turvy, final act that I wont soon forget. The Square was written by Matthew Dabner and Nash’s brother Joel (who also co-stars in the film) and while it works tremendously well as a thriller, its also a wicked cautionary tale about the pitfalls that come with infidelity. A solid movie. Good call Harry! DAYLIGHT If you read the synopsis for Daylight, you might think it’s a horror film; “Married couple Irene and Daniel (played by Alexandra Meierhans and Aidan Redmond) get more than they bargained for after picking up psychotic hitchhiker Renny (Michael Godere) on the way to the countryside.” Clearly, the set up suggests that this will turn into your garden variety torture porn movie. The thing is, co-writer/director David Barker and screenwriters Michael Godere and Alexandra Meierhans (who also star in the film) steer clear of the nihilistic extremism that films like The Strangers seem to thrive on. Instead, Daylight is a dramatic re-invention of the contemporary horror film, and it slyly trades in the standard slice and dice slasher type for a couple of guys who are so seemingly human and calm in their horrific actions, that they come across as far more scary than the crazies in The Strangers. The killers here are portrayed effectively by Ivan Martin and Michael Godere. Oddly, there’s a Steinbeck-ian vibe to the way these committed actors play these terrifying men. In deed, Martin is the George to Godere’s Lenny. As off kilter and menacing as Martin is, its Godere’s almost childlike sense of innocence that terrifies the most. There’s a scene early in this film in which Renny quietly reveals that he’s going to slit Daniel’s throat. What makes the sequence so chilling is Godere’s warm, almost nonchalant delivery. It seriously made the hairs on my neck stand on end. Redmond is subtle as the helpless Daniel while Meierhans shines as pregnant Irene. Its clear that this couple has unresolved issues in their marriage, but these particular issues are put on the back-burner as Daniel and Irene fight for their lives. As Irene struggles to survive in a most desperate situation, she slowly develops an unusual bond with the film’s villainous antagonists. Irene is almost angel like in the eyes of these misguided souls, and the bond they eventually share is almost spiritual in nature. There’s a surprising amount of subtlety in this movie. It certainly offers up a fair share of tension and carnage, but its really the haunting, spiritual bond that develops between Irene and these killers that take the film into a realm we don’t often see in pictures like this. If I have any complaint about Daylight, it would have to be the seventy five minute running time. I was compelled by the relationships in this movie and I wanted a little bit more. As it stands though, Daylight is definitely worth checking out. While this is a genre film, it has a lot more on its mind than merely subjecting us to the brutal murdering of good people. Hardcore horror fans may be turned off by Daylight's quieter moments, but the horror fan in me admired the chances this effective little indie took. So there you have it. Now, I’m going to go online and search for tidbits on Comic-Con. I’m so excited for the con this year. I wish they’d announce the damn line up already! July 22nd can’t come soon enough. Hope to see you guys there. If you use this piece, call me...oh hell, just use my real name. Adam