We are currently in the midst of the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. As we observe the 66th year of the event, we are reminded exactly why it is so spectacular. Some of the best talent from around the globe will premier their work first in France and hope they are catapulted to superstar status in the world of entertainment, and in particular film.
This International Film Festival is at the forefront of many minds, but I am already looking ahead thanks to the announcement that Cannes will see a debut in 2014 from Ali F. Mostafa, who is set to start shooting the film ‘A to B’ in October.
The story is one that we will all be able to relate to. It tells the journey of 3 western educated men who set out on a 1500 mile road trip to honor a lost friend. With the talented producers backing the film and the success each one of them brings, it is a movie that critics and fans will be anticipating for the next 12 months.
Who are these producers? Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed Al Turki who may be best known for his influence in “Arbitrage,” From Egypt, Mohamed Hefzi who recently worked on “My Brother the Devil” and Lebanon’s Paul Baboudjian who played a huge part in the success of “Here Comes the Rain.” The trio of men with a fresh perspective will bring to life Mostafa’s story in a way that it reaches a universal audience.
The Arabic movies that enhanced the careers of these talented young men may not have all started at Cannes but have received praise in the years leading up to the announcement of the film that will play a huge role in next year’s festivities.
“Here Comes the Rain” was debut at Abu Dhabi Film Festival in 2010 and came home with the Black Pearl Award. Its center is the politics of the Arabic Country and the 10,000 people still missing nearly two decades after the war ended. It is thought that these men and women are dead or hidden in secret jails. This film was an extremely controversial one, but the story needed to be told. Baboudijan received rave reviews and has become one to watch in the way of film and politics in the future. Read the rest of this entry »
Everything is White this morning! What a great time to make a movie! Winter does present some interesting problems for videos. First thing is, its cold! That means keeping not just yourself, but your equipment warm as well. Theres some controversy surrounding whether batteries lose their charge quicker in low temperatures, maybe the guys at Mythbusters can answer that one; personally, I say they certainly do. I also can say with some certainty that cold weather affects equipment as well; I have a digital camera that takes great pictures above 32 degrees Fahrenheit, but below that it starts out as if filled with molasses and eventually just stops working. It may be the lubricant, or close tolerances in the parts, but it cant take the cold. So before you make a big project out of your winter flicks, lets run a few tests. Make sure its below freezing outside first.
Find a place outside thats a safe place to leave your equipment, a back porch, backyard, etc., thats got some light available, if its after dark. Set up your camera with a freshly charged battery pack, select a setting, and start filming. Place a spare battery outside on a dry surface. Go back inside and make some hot cocoa! No sense you freezing, leave that task to the equipment. Wait 10 or 15 minutes and check to see if anything is still working. If the cameras stopped, try the spare battery to see if it works. Keep checking at 10-minute intervals until the media fills up or the camera stops working. Now you have some idea of how long you will have to make your video.
Now for the second test: on a sunny, cold day, take some shots that include total sunshine, partial shade, and deep shadows. Shoot the same footage on several different settings: if your camera has a snow/beach setting, try that, also the full automatic, and any other settings that you think might work. You may find that the snow/sand setting is inadequate for deep shadow shots while in bright sun. Review your test a shot, make a few notes and its on to the last test.
The final test is you: what do you have for personal warmth equipment? Remember the little gut in A Christmas Story that looked like an overstuffed Teddy bear? You dont want that look. You want flexible, warm layers; you want gloves or mittens that have removable finger covers, and warm, comfortable footwear. Leave the sunglasses off when you film so that you can better gage the lighting. You also want to have some sort of equipment cases, to hedge a little against the bitter cold you may encounter. I keep my batteries inside my outer clothing, to add a little time to their life.
When youre ready to go, make a mental note of what kind of video you want, think about where you want the camera, and whether youll be able to re-take any shots or just rely on one take for everything. If youre off to the slopes to shoot some awesome snowboarding moves or some exciting mogul moves, remember to try to protect your camera from spraying snow. Keep the equipment off until youre ready to shoot, and turn it off when youre through, and put it away, even back the still-warm car. If its ice-skating or cross-country skiing, or just having fun in the snow, shoot until you run out of battery power; then head back to the editing studio.
The last step is the editing, including any sound editing you want to do. I like to use Audio4fun.coms Voice Changing Software Diamond 5.0 for audio editing, as it has some dynamic features that allow for real-time editing, and many filters and effects for adding depth and quality to your productions, and the ability to morph your own voice into almost anyone elses voice. This would be great if you want to create a funny video clip with this Voice Changer. Once youve got your final product, burn a couple of CDs or DVDs, invite the relatives over, and dont forget the popcorn and hot cocoa!
As movies go this one lacks in several areas, especially dialog and acting, which is sometimes amateurish. But you can’t find fault with the family story, revolving around a young teen girl who is different, including her first name “Moondance.” Kay Panabaker is Moondance. Her dad died not long ago but she still had her artist mom Gelsey, played well by 40-something Lori Loughlin. By her own admission, Moondance has few, if any, friends because fellow students make fun of her name and the way she dresses. The movie starts on the last day of school as summer break begins.
She has a small job, using her bicycle to make small package deliveries in the rural area surrounding her home (filmed in the Canadian Rockies and surrounding areas). One day, riding along a dirt road, a Pinto horse appears in front of her, evidently jumping the fence. We later find out this is a habit of the Pinto, whom she names “Checkers”, and this later comes in handy in a jumping competition.
As it turns out the horse is not lost, but is owned by Don Johnson as Dante, a man of gruff demeanor and few words. We later find out he had been a horse trainer but something happened and he had quit. Moondance doesn’t want to be separated from Checkers, so she bargains to work free, starting at 6:30AM each day, cleaning stalls, etc and in return she gets to ride Checkers.
It is hard to figure why skater Sasha Cohen has a role, except it seems she has acting aspirations. Here she is Fiona Hughes, a nasty and self-centered girl who won the Junior jumping championship last year, and who takes every opportunity to try and put Moondance down. There is no subtlety to her acting.
Overall a good family film, with a good message, and no bad language, no sex, no violence. We need more movies with those characteristics.
1. Fruit In Your Looms
Someone once said something along the lines that, Monty Python is to ‘funny’ what chartered accountants are to ‘boring’. Who are we to disagree?
2. Python’s Give Live Birth
The legend of Monty Python emerged nobly from the dusty corridors of Oxford and Cambridge universities. All of the British Python members had their comedic starts in revue shows put on by these universities. They soon rose to the ranks of responsibility within these societies, “In bewilderment we saw a notice board informing us that we are now officers!” recalls John Cleese.
Their well-received show, A Clump of Plinths, transferred to London’s West End and later visited New
Zealand and New York under the new title Cambridge Circus.
Cleese stayed on in New York and during a photo shoot for a comic strip he met American illustrator Terry Gilliam. Terry was soon folded into the every growing omelet.
The BBC, on the advice of producer Barry Took, signed the group – which now included Eric Idle and Terry Gilliam for a 13-show series. Ah, but what to name the show?
3. The Toad Elevating Moment
Owl Stretching Time. A Horse, A Spoon and A Bucket. The Toad Elevating Moment were all names in the running. But as planning for the series became more chaotic, the BBC management began to refer to the team as a ‘flying circus’, inspired by the Red Baron’s World War One fighter squadron. The troupe liked the sound of it and randomly added the term Monty Python from their growing list of alternates. Funny that.
4. Mystery Of The Lost Python Sketches
No one knows what happened to them.
Oh wait, 3 new sketches of never before seen Python material were recently discovered and performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The famed sketches were written by late Python star Graham Chapman and were unearthed by a literary executor in Los Angeles. Each sketch lasts four minutes and features a cast of characters including a gay parrot and an overworked Messiah.
5. Brian’s The Life Of The Party
Monty Python’s Life of Brian snagged the funniest film of all time in a poll arranged by Total Film magazine.
The film satires the rise of organized religion and caused more controversy than a Kevin Smith baptismal when it was released back in 1979. It was banned in many parts of the UK and church leaders accused it of blasphemy. Nothing like bad publicity to push the ratings.
Their King Arthur era spoof, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, trailed by only a few spots, landing it at number five.
Top 10 Comedy Films
1. Life of Brian
3. Withnail & I
4. There’s Something About Mary
5. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
6. American Pie
7. Groundhog Day
8. Some Like it Hot
9. Blazing Saddles
10. Planes, Trains and Automobiles
6. Kim Bread Aka John Cleese
John Cleese rode a roller coaster of fame during the 1970′s playing the role of stressed hotelkeeper Basil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers. He continued his fame with films like Privates On Parade and Clockwise, then hit worldwide stardom with a A Fish Called Wanda in 1988. The follow-up film, Fierce Creatures faulted to gain attention with audiences. These days audiences know him best as the new Q in the James Bond films and Nearly Headless Ned in the Harry Potter films. He will next be seen playing father to Lucy Liu in Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle and as the voice Fiona’s Father in Shrek 2, Fiona is voiced by Charlie’s Angel’s co-star Cameron Diaz.
7. Around The World In 80 Days
Michael Palin has also rocketed to fame due to his turn with the troupe and in 1977 he teamed with Terry Jones to make their own comedy series, Ripping Yarns. Michael also appeared aside John Cleese in A Fish Called Wanda, then went on to do a reality show for BBC TV, called Around the World in 80 Days, where he attempted to literally follow in the footsteps of the Jules Verne literary character, Phileas Fogg, by trying to travel around the world in the allotted time, but without flying – By the way, it’s Jules Verne’s 175th birthday this week. During the Pole to Pole trip, he met up with Python fans in Greece and ate snake in China while struggling to meet his deadline.
8. Get Yourself To Mars
Eric Idle continued his stint in the limelight by teaming with Neil Innes to create Rutland Weekend Television, a parody of regional broadcasting. He later appeared in Graham Chapman’s Yellowbeard, Disney’s Honey, I Shrunk the Audience and Splitting Heirs. His recent novel titled, “The Road to Mars” is about two comedians in the 22nd century. Fans most likely know him today as the voice of Mr. Vosknocker in the animated film, South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut.
9. Keep It Real
Terry Jones maintained a diversity beyond mere comedy, by writing about history, presenting documentaries, penning children’s books and going onto direct the 1996 version of Wind in the Willows, starring his old pals – Michael Palin, John Cleese and Eric Idle.
10. The 12 Fisher Monkey Kings
Terry Gilliam lent his talents to the troupe as a director and by creating the very distinct animations that became Monty Python’s visual trademark. We soon followed it with his feature film debut, Jabberwocky, starring Michael Palin. After helming the much loved, Time Bandits, his fame skyrocketed in Hollywood. But his style led to many conflictions in the biz including a big throw down with Universal Studios over his film Brazil and then problems with backers on the very expensive, Adventures of Baron Munchausen, which starred Eric Idle and featured Robin Williams.
His real success followed by taking on unconventional studio films including the critically acclaimed, The Fisher King starring Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges and the stylistic sci-fi thriller, 12 Monkeys starring Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt and the Hunter S Thompson extravaganza, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas starring Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro. These six actors all gave some of the best performances of their career in Gilliam’s films.
11. Parting Shots
“We weren’t being satirical because it wasn’t the thing that interested us,” Terry Jones says. “Ours was a slightly more abstract humor – just being silly really. What satire there is, is more generalized satire.”
Referring to The Life of Brian – “Comedy is about reminding us of the truth of being human: we all have a body and we all must die, and it is okay,” reckons Eric Idle.
“Monty Python is a great combination of intellect and silly”, concludes Robin Williams.