Friday, January 6, 2012

Awards Season Movie Marathon: My Week With Marilyn

The Golden Globes are around the corner. Before the annual fete, I like to see most if not all the films and performances in contention to see if I agree or (more likely) disagree with the Hollywood Foreign Press. I don't take awards shows too seriously. Obviously, art is subjective and most of the voters vote for their friends or for whichever film has the loudest buzz i.e. the most marketing dollars. However seeing all the films is a fun challenge and I learn something from every film I see good or bad. Henceforth, my movie marathon continues. Holla! Interesting, quirky, thought-provoking films make me happy.  Just today I saw, My Week With Marilyn. This film is nominated for three Golden Globes including Best Picture, Comedy or Musical. Michelle Williams is nominated for Best Actress Comedy or Musical for her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe and Kenneth Branagh is nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture for his role as Sir Laurence Oliver.

The film centers on Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), a young man working on set of Marilyn's film with Sir Laurence Oliver,  the Prince and the Showgirl.  Michelle Williams is practically perfect as the erratically charming Marilyn Monroe. Things are not going well for the bombshell. Marilyn and Oliver are at odds, she lacks confidence in her acting, her marriage is falling apart and she's hopped up on booze and pills to cope.  In the midst of the madness, Marilyn takes a shine to young Colin and proceeds to lean on him for support. Theirs is a short, strange, but complex relationship that allows us to glimpse the weight and the joy that comes with being a international sex symbol. I've always been a fan of Marilyn Monroe's films especially Gentleman Prefer Blondes and Some Like It Hot. It was fun to see that in this true story, she was as wild, vulnerable and beautifully flawed as I always imagined she'd be. The narrative was simple, emotional and moved well, pausing for small meaningful moments along the way. It was beautifully directed by Simon Curtis and scripted by Adrian Hodges (book by Colin Clark). Kenneth Branagh was brilliant as the high-minded Oliver and Eddie Redmayne also performed well as the sweet, naive Colin. Highly recommended. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Awards Season Movie Marathon: Young Adult

I do love December; not just for the time off, holiday merriment, friends and family etc. This is the time of year when all the studios roll out their award season contenders. All the specialty fare that was acquired at Sundance and the other big fests finally gets a wide (or at least wider) release. For a film nerd like me, it's like double Christmas. December films are often the best or at least most interesting of the year.  I'm home in MI for the holidays, so in between family time, gorging myself on midwestern staples (Shout out to Olga's Kitchen and Bakers' Square), and catching up with high school friends, I'm getting a jump on seeing the awards season offerings. 

This year my list includes: The Descendants, Hugo, Pariah, War Horse, J Edgar, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Artist, My Week With Marilyn, Shame, Albert Nobbs,  and Young Adult.

I saw Young Adult last night. I...liked it. If you like your protagonists boozy and unsympathetic you'll like it too. Charlize Theron plays Mavis, an alcoholic YA writer  (of a failing series) who lives a mundane, lonely life. Don't go feeling too bad for Ms. Mavis; she's a virulent  narcissist. After getting a birth announcement from her married high school ex-boyfriend, she decides she wants him back, wife and child be damned. She drives back to her home town, checks herself into a motel and puts her plan in motion. Now, I'm not going to spoil it for you, but let's just say there's no Hollywood ending in this one. I love that she has no redeeming qualities, is unapologetically selfish and yet we go on the ride with her anyway. The story seems to drag in some places, but it may be intentional to show the mundanity of everyday life? I may be making excuses because I'm a fan of both the director Jason Reitman and the writer Diablo Cody. Anyway, this film is definitely unexpected and at times cringe-worthy. With outstanding performances by Charlize Theron and Patton Oswalt, it's worth an hour and half of your life.

Next up The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

My Favorite Recent Madame Noire Posts

You might ask why I posted this random picture of me as a baby. Well, this is how I feel when I write. I look happy here right?! Now, look at my eyes; don't they look a little dead? My tiny hands? Physical manifestatons of my anxious energy.

As most of you know I write for an online ladymag called Madame Noire. Here are some recent posts that I wrote that were my favs. Check them out.

Leave it Alone!: Movies That Should Never Have Sequels (or Prequels)

The Disappearing Meaty Roles For Black Actress

More Than Dinner and a Movie: 7 Creative and Fun Date Ideas

Need a Break? Try these Relaxing Fall Vacation Ideas

He Better Call Tyrone: 7 Guys Who Should Lose Your Number


Friday, October 7, 2011

Grace Grades New Fall Shows: Comedy Edition

My overall thoughts on this season's fall comedy line up?  There are shows that are off to a great start and in which I see great story potential. Others...not so much. The ladies are doing it this season. There are several female-centered and female-executive-produced comedies on the air that are putting up good numbers. This cause for excitement because the world of comedy writing has always been dominated by men. Female-centered shows= more jobs for female writers. On the other hand, since I am also a person of color my excitement can only be half-hearted. Most of these shows feature very few people of color on screen.  However, I'll get on my diversity soapbox in another post.

There are several comedies that are coming up that I'm interested in. Shows like Last Man Standing, Man Up!, and I Hate My Teenage daughter have not yet premiered. Stay tuned for my reviews on those:)

Here are my thoughts on the first of this season's new fall comedies.
The New Girl (Fox)                                               
Grace's Grade: C+
This was the first comedy to get picked up for the entire season. Yay for that cast and crew! However, I am not really feeling this show. Zooey Deschanel plays Jess, an awkward schoolteacher who walks in on her boyfriend sleeping with another girl and ends up moving in with three kind of douchey guys. Jess is a quirky, cutesy hipster that sort of bops around making weird noises and faces like she has mild form of Tourettes. It all seems kind of forced. Some people will find her doe-eyed, weirdness endearing. I find it annoying. There are some funny moments, but not enough to keep me watching. The secondary characters are unremarkable. Her guy roommates are interchangeable and her model best friend has no discernible personality. It could get better, I suppose. They've got a whole season.  

Up All Night (NBC)
Grace's Grade: B

This show has a great cast and thus lots of potential. Christina Applegate plays Reagan, a former party girl and current working mom. Will Arnett plays Chris, her stay-at-home-dad hubby. Maya Rudolph is Ava, Reagan's diva boss who hosts an Oprah-style talk show. The show centers around Reagan and Chris's struggles with new parenthood while trying to please demanding and intrusive Ava. The writing is good, but has not risen to the awesomeness of the cast yet. Comedy genius Will Arnett should be given so much more! However, I am rooting for the show and hope it hits its stride. I'm also appreciative this show has a diverse(ish) cast and doesn't rely on minority stereotypes for laughs. The challenge is to keep it accessible to us childless viewers out there.

2 Broke Girls (CBS)
Grace's Grade: B-

This is...cute. Beth Behrs plays Caroline, who lost everything when her dad was convicted of a Bernie Madoff-style crime. Broke and disgraced, Caroline gets a job at a grimy diner where she meets Max played by Kat Dennings. Max is a smart-ass, working-class waitress who takes Caroline in and teaches her the art of being broke. This is a classic odd couple set up and it works for the most part. Secondary characters like Peach, Max's socialite boss, and the creepy line cook Oleg (Jonathan Kite) are both specific and funny. The downside? The Asian boss is at the diner is a pretty blatant Asian stereotype. He speaks broken English and is named Bryce Lee. It feels like we are laughing at him not with him.  Another tragedy is that the brilliant actor Garrett Morris is underused and is regulated to occasional one-liners. Hopefully this will change.

Suburgatory (ABC)
Grace's Grade: B-

Jane Levy plays Tessa, whose single dad (Jeremy Sisto) moves her from New York City to the suburbs because he finds condoms in her room. Because, I guess, suburban girls don't have sex? The show is very stylized and feels similar to Desperate Housewives with saturated colors, suburban stereotypes, and over-the-top characters. However, Desperate Housewives is more a drama/comedy hybrid. Thus, its campiness is balanced with darker moments that deal with difficult relationships, murder, and dirty secrets. Since Subugatory is a straight-up comedy, there is no darkness to tamp down the campiness. Thus, it remains to be seen if the show will be too cutesy in the long run. Also, how long can they milk the New Yorker-in-the-burbs jokes? Another tension will have to emerge for this show to have staying power.  And I guess, according to Hollywood, people of color don't live in the suburbs.The only person of color in the pilot was the "diversity student." New flash: Middle-class minorities do live in the burbs.

Did you see any of these shows? What did you think?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

TV Pilot Season

Now that I have been birthed from film school's loins and have taken my first baby steps into the industry with my first job on a show, I've been reading the trades with more frequency like a grown up.  I've been paying particular attention to pilot season this year. For all y'all aspiring TV folks, John August had an awesome post on TV staffing season written by a guy named Daniel Thompson who has written for Melrose Place and The Sarah Connor Chronicles. As a aspiring scribe I found it fascinating.

Also, on a separate note, below is a trailer for an NBC pilot that looks promising.

Grimm by NBC


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Old School Black Hollywood

I've gotten a J.O.B. folks that's why I've been gone for a minute. More on that later. I'll be back this weekend though. Until then, here's a link to an article I wrote for Madame Noire on Old School Black Hollywood. Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Madame Noire Links of the Week

"Pariah" Written and Directed by Dees Rees

As some of you know I write for Madame Noire, an online lady mag. Here are links to some artsy articles, I wrote and a link to one by Demetria Irwin on curvy ballerina, Misty Copeland, that I really enjoyed.

On Black Indie Films

On Cutie Kiddie Videos

On Selling Your Screenplay

On Curvy Ballerinas

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Creating Creativity

Ever feel the cold icy grip of writers' block? Or perhaps at work, you NEED a idea for a campaign or concept? It's right at the tip of your tongue, but your creative juices flatly refuse to flow. It's like your inspiration is chillin' on the beach in St. Tropez sipping a mojito laughing at your struggle. Well, you're not powerless against this imaginative drought.  In this article, Martha Beck gives us some tested techniques to kickstart some action in that right cranium.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

How To Win An Academy Award

I'm gonna win me an Oscar with this formula! Hilarious! "Murmur of agreement?"

Friday, March 11, 2011

New Friday Feature: What If Our Favorite Celebs Were...Hipsters?

Got this pic from 1Thought 2 Many

So anyone who knows me, know that I enjoy talking ish about hipsters. In case you don't live in a place like NYC that is rife with hipster poserish-ness (yes, I made up that word), here is a website that offers lots 'o pics of these folks. So what's my beef with hipsters? No beef. I just think they're funny and kind of pompously predictable with their skinny jeans, ironic T-shirts, lunch boxes and wallet chains. So, I was thinking: What if some of our fav celebs had been hipsters? What would they be like?

For My Screenwriting People Out There In Cyberland

On John August's blog, there was an awesome post about a beginning LADY writer. Here's the link. She has some interesting insights.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Creative Mind

On HuffPo, there was an interesting article by Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman on "The Creative Mind." I learned that I'm officially highly sensitive i.e. a lot of stuff freaks me the hell out. I also alternately want to lock myself in a dark room weeping and dance on tables. Are you highly-sensitive? Supposedly 15-20% of the population is. You can take a quiz here.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Charlie Sheen Quotes...In Haiku

Turns out Charlie Sheen is an actual poet. Well, in lieu of this discovery I saw a poetic quality emerge in some of his recent bat-shit insane statements. So without further ado...

Crazy Charlie Sheen's
craziest quotes arranged in 
haiku. I was bored

Thursday, March 3, 2011

New Thursday Feature: Film Forward

I'm movie junkie so I'm always trolling the Internets to find trailers for films that will provide me with my next narrative fix.  So every other Thursday, I'll bring you what I think are the most promising films being released in the next month or so. Also, because I'm snark-filled, I will also bring you a trailer for a film that I think will be hilariously bad. I'll then see the movies and let you know whether I was right or wrong. Let the unfair pre-judgement begin after the jump!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Hater Alert! Artists Attacked

Some guy, wrote an article for the Huffington Post titled "9 Reasons Why Dating Actors Is A Bad Idea". Now, I'm mainly a writer these days, but I know many actors who are kind, stable, sensitive folks who are great partners and don't deserve these broad generalizations about their datability. I found this article offensive and, worse than that, unoriginal. Thus, I will proceed to debunk all of this hater's 9 reasons that actors don't deserve love.

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Oscars Debriefed: The Show Sucked

Wow, I have to say the Academy Awards ceremony this year was THE most boring, humorless, nap-worthy ceremony in recent memory. So, Black folks we may have not been nominated this year, but the bright spot is not having to sit through that mess. Who wrote those shockingly-bad, predictable jokes? Who produced it? There were so many awkward silences and so much nervous laughter. Now I love Anne Hathaway. She's the dream lead in one of my rom-coms, and she did the best she could with what she was given. BTW, didn't know Miss Thing could sing. I was impressed. Not as fond of James Franco, but I was expecting his usual brand of low-key, hipster humor. The commercials for the awards were pretty funny. BUT Mr. Franco and Ms. Hathaway bombed. It's not completely their fault. They didn't write it, but they did look mad uncomfortable up there. Epic fail to appeal to the much-desired younger demographic. 

As far as the actual awards went there were no surprises. Everyone's been loving on the King's Speech for the past few months and it won the night. I, frankly, found the film repetitive and dull. There were some good moments to be sure, but best film of the year? I always wonder with these British monarch biopics, if when Americans profess their love, they are just trying to seem smart and cultured. Whatevs. I'm obviously out of step with the Academy. I only got two of the major awards right: Toy Story 3 for best animated film and The Social Network for best adapted screenplay. 

What did you think of this year's Oscars?


Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Oscar Picks and Snarky Tweeting

I'll be watching the red carpet and the Oscars tonight. To make it more amusing for myself, I'm gonna tweet my sweet and snarky comments about everything from fashion to my feelings about the winners. If you'd like to follow along, I'm @gracyact on Twitter.

So in preparation, check out the nominees and my picks for who I think should get Oscar gold this year after the jump.


The Black Oscar: Inspirational Artist, Oscar Micheaux

As you all well know, tonight is Oscar night! Meh. Well, since this Academy Awards will not be recognizing any African American actors or filmmakers, I decided to feature one of the great Black Oscars in history: Oscar Micheaux. 

Known as the 1st African American to produce a feature-length film, Mr. Micheaux was the prolific writer, director and producer of more than 44 films between 1919 and 1948! You KNOW that had to be a struggle. I mean, we weren't even allowed to sit at the front of the bus yet, and this brotha was cranking out amazing, revolutionary films. His films dealt with the African American struggle for equality in a hostile world. Read more about him after the jump.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

How To Be a Struggling Artist

Hey everyone. As promised, here is a link to my article about being a struggling artist on Madame Noire. I hope that regardless of where you are in your career, you are finding joy and fulfillment in what you do. Remember, even if we are not rolling in dough right now (I know some of y'all are:), we are lucky to be blessed with passion, talent and the guts to go after our dreams. Love y'all. Anyway, check out the article and comment if you like it!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Quotation Motivation: Be Not Afraid

I haven't posted in a while because I've been hustling. No, not street pharmacy or the kind that requires clear heels:) I've writing my own work and trying to get it out there. I've also been writing for a few web sites including my favorite, Madame Noire. Right now, I'm writing an article for Madame Noire about living life as a starving artist. I'll post a link to it when it's up on the site. Anyway, I was looking for some artsy quotes for the article and I found two really great ones from singer/songwriter Jason Mraz. I hope they inspire you as they did me.
"Another year is fast approaching. Go be that starving artist you’re afraid to be. Open up that journal and get poetic finally. Volunteer. Suck it up and travel. You were not born here to work and pay taxes. You were put here to be part of a vast organism to explore and create. Stop putting it off. The world has much more to offer than what’s on 15 televisions at TGI Fridays. Take pictures. Scare people. Shake up the scene. Be the change you want to see in the world." - Jason Mraz
"Frustration and Love can’t exist in the same place at the same time, so get real and start doing what you would rather be doing in life. Love your life. All of it. Even the heavy shit that happened to you when you were 8. All of it was and IS perfect." -Jason Mraz

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Oscar Nods

This morning the Oscar Nominations were announced by Monique, who deservingly won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for Precious last year. There were no surprises or people of color in the major Academy Award nominations. I would have liked to see Kimberly Elise nominated for her amazing performance in For Colored Girls even though the movie was horrible. However, I sincerely say congratulations to all the nominees. I 've seen most of the films already (the ones I've underlined). My favs so far are Black Swan and The Kids Are AlrightI'll see all of the nominated films, performances and screenplays so that when I half-heartedly watch the show, I'll have an educated opinion:)  What do you think of this year's nominations? Check them out after the jump.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Inspirational Artist: Katherine Hepburn

Style icon. Stellar actress. Author. Oscar winner. All around ballsy woman.
“If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun” ”- Katherine Hepburn
More Katherine Hepburn fabulousness after the jump!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Artistic Inspiration... for Ballers on a Budget

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre
Inspiration is a precious commodity for an artist of any discipline. And while those knifed-up broads on the Real Housewives of...Whatever and those crazy Kardashians can make you feel better about your own life, inspirational... they are not. So it's important that we step away from the telly for a spell and seek out art that can inspire us to be better and "fill the creative well" as  Ms. Julia Cameron likes to say. I get so inspired to write when I see a great film or a well-written play. I get ideas for characters while at a Kara Walker exhibit or seeing a great ballet. You don't have to be ballin' to live a cultured life. There are many ways that you can experience great art on a budget, babies. 


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Quotation Motivation: It's All About The Audience

Writing is communication, not self-expression. Nobody in this world wants to read your diary except your mother. 
-Richard Peck

As artists, it's easy to get wrapped up in ourselves. We ARE our work. That book or script came out of our head, dammit! From our lives. From our experiences. However, feeling emotion is not the same as communicating emotion. We must remember that if we are concerned with the experience of our audiences, we must choose words and images that communicate that emotion. We've all seen those indie movies where the director makes us look at a drop of rain for two minutes, totally out of context. When I see this kind of thing, I always think: this dude/chick either really likes this shot and wants us to see how great it is for as long as possible. Or this means something to her/him and he/she doesn't care that it means nothing to me. And at that point they've lost me and probably most people watching.

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