15 Movies

As a student in film watching movies is like homework but I hadn’t been doing a very good job at keeping up. I have access to movies on DVD, at the theater, on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and on Xfinity OnDemand…my watchlist goes on and on.

On September 7, 2015, I started keeping track of the movies I was watching. My goal was to watch at least 15 movies that I hadn’t seen before by November 7, 2015…here’s the list!

  1. A Serious Man (2009)
    • Directed by Ethan and Joel Coen
    • Starring Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard King, Sari Lennick
    • Trivia: The Coen Brothers stated that the opening scene was nothing more than a little short that they made up to get the audience in the proper mood, and that there is no meaning behind it.
    • Watched at home on DVD
    • Thoughts: Strange but it kept my interest
  2. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)
    • Directed by Guy Ritchie
    • Starring Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander
    • Trivia: The only principal cast members to use their natural accents in the film were ‘Sylvester Groth’ and ‘Hugh Grant’.
    • Watched in theater
    • Thoughts: Definitely entertaining and Armie Hammer is a beautiful man
  3. Behind the Candelabra (2013)
  4. L!fe Happens (2011)
  5. Vertigo (1958)
    • Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
    • Starring James Stewart, Kim Novak
    •  Trivia: There is a 25 year age difference between James Stewart and Kim Novak, who were 49 and 24 respectively when the film was shot in 1957.
    • Watched in my Scoring class at DePaul
    • Thoughts: Brilliant, I’ll always appreciate the work of Hitchcock and the score is simple but yet again, brilliant. But the ending makes me so angry.
  6. The Intern (2015)
  7. THX 1138 (1971)
    • Directed by George Lucas 
    • Starring Robert Duvall 
    • Trivia: The sounds of the police motorcycles are the sped-up sounds of women screaming together in a tiled bathroom.
    • Watched in my Sound Effects class at DePaul
    • Thoughts: Totally weird, and I still don’t quite get it but the sounds effects are awesome.
  8. Black Mass (2015)
  9. Chef (2014)
    • Directed by Jon Favreau
    • Starring Jon Favreau
    • Trivia: Jon Favreau did his own cooking by training with food truck chef Roy Choi.
    • Watched at home on Netflix
    • Thoughts: An endearing film that put a special light on a father-son relationship
  10. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
  11. Crimson Peak (2015)
    • Directed by Guillermo del Toro 
    • Starring  Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston 
    • Trivia: Everything in the house was made for the house. Nothing was reused from salvaged parts.
    • Watched in the theater for my Scoring class
    • Thoughts: Most certainly a Gothic Romance, not a Horror film. Beautifully dressed and shot. Jessica Chastain was amazing.
  12. Risky Business (1983)
    • Directed by Paul Brickman
    • Starring Tom Cruise, Rebecca De Mornay 
    • Trivia: The dance scene where Joel dances to “Old Time Rock N’ Roll” was completely improvised. In the script Tom Cruise was simply instructed to “dance to rock music”.
    • Watched at home on Netflix
    • Thoughts: A classic, glad I finally watched it!
  13. The Best of Me (2014)
  14. Boogie Nights (1997)
    • Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
    • Starring Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, Burt Reynolds
    • Watched at home on Netflix
    • Thoughts: That was an experience…but just another confirmation that I will watch any movie that stars Mark Wahlberg or Julianne Moore.
  15. The Room (2003)
    • Directed by Tommy Wiseau
    • Starring Tommy Wiseau
    • Trivia:
      • There are eight instances of the phrase “Don’t worry about it”, plus one “Don’t worry about that”, one “Don’t worry about me”, two “Don’t worry about Johnny”s, one “Don’t worry about those f*ckers”, and two plain old “Don’t worry”s.
      • There are thirty-four spoon shots.
      • A lot of the film’s dialogue was dubbed in, which is why there are many out-of-sync scenes, particularly those involving Johnny. Tommy Wiseau was said to be unable to memorize lines, necessitating the use of cue cards, and the sound crew was reportedly plagued with difficulties.
    • Watched at a friend’s house on DVD at about 12am
    • Thoughts: Terrible, seeing this once is more than enough. The dubbing makes me want to cry as a sound person.

So many movies, so little time.

Have you seen any good movies lately? I’m always taking recommendations!

The City and The Strange

Since starting Cinema Production at DePaul I have worked on many short films. Being on location brings me to places I would have never gone and shows me things I would have never seen. I feel like I have seen so much more of Chicago, and I love it. It’s given me the opportunity to take some cool photos of the city and of some really strange things…Here are a few photos I’ve taken on the way.

Best Homework Ever

Films have always been a big part of my life and since I have started school at DePaul it has become an even bigger part. I hope to make a living in the film industry, so my life’s homework is to watch movies, and then watch more movies. I watch, I listen, I analyze. My skills for film analyzing and interpreting are still developing but I definitely don’t watch movies the way I used to. I have an appreciation for camera movement, well achieved visual effects and sound effects, film scores, story structure, the list goes on! I have even started going back to movies I have already seen and wonder what it was I liked or didn’t like about the film. For some films my opinions have completely changed, which has been cool and sad at the same time. I’ve realized many of the movies I watched and loved as a kid or teenager…well, they kinda suck. Perhaps that comes with age, but also just the understanding of how the film was made and what they were (or were not) trying to achieve has become much more apparent to me now.

In the past seven days I have watched several films and short films for the first time:

  • Her by Spike Jonze
  • Inside Man by Spike Lee
  • Snatch by Guy Ritchie
  • Tarnation by Jonathan Caouette
  • The Chicken by Una Gunjak
  • Look For Me by Laura Heit
  • Burn by Reynold Reynolds and Patrick Jolley
  • American History X by Tony Kaye

I feel emotionally affected and totally inspired in weird and amazing ways. A few of these hit me harder than others, particularly Tarnation and American History X. They are completely different types of movies, but boy, do they make you feel lucky to have the life you do, with the family, health, opportunities and tiny problems that you do compared to what you see on screen.

My Future Grand Slam

The World Series starts today…even though the Tigers didn’t make it this year, it’s still a good day!

I cannot imagine what it would be like to play in a such a series of games with so many fans and viewers counting on your every hit, pitch and play but to hit a walk-off home run…a grand slam no less…that is a feeling I hope to find some parallel to one day. A moment in time where you realize you won, you have achieved the ultimate achievement. At the “crack of your bat” you know, something great just happened. There is no word to describe your happiness, your pride or the weight that has just been lifted off of your shoulders. As you “round each base,” the audience (your family, friends, co-workers, etc.) continue(s) to cheer for you and they show how proud they are of you. Finally you reach home base…your team (whoever that may be to you) hugs you, high-fives you, lifts you up, celebrates with you and there is no better feeling.

The moment I picture this happening for me is the day that I become a true professional in the film industry, the day I watch a successful feature film on the big screen all the way through the credits, just to see my name scroll by. The butterflies flutter all through my body just thinking about this day.

…Of course winning an Oscar or major award would be unbelievable, but we’ll stick with my name in the credits as my first grand slam…you can get more than one in a baseball career so you can definitely have more than one in life.

Grand Slam

20 Truths About Film School

There’s obviously plenty to learn in film school…here’s 20 random things I’ve learned thus far!

1. When you’re with other students, be aware that anything you say could be used as a line in a script one day.

2. When going to see a movie, it’s more than just a casual outing.

3. Do not make enemies, you never know who you might work with on a project in the future.

4. Knowing the skills of others is just as important as knowing your own.

5. You need to watch more foreign films.

6. Your list of movies to watch will never stop growing.

7. When hanging out with film students, 95% of the time you are going to talk about movies.

8. There are not an abundance of women in this field.

9. The saying, “If you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” is very applicable to film projects.

10. You cannot be shy. If you want experience you have to go out and get it.

11. After making your own movie, you will never watch a movie in the same way again.

12. DP in the Cinema world doesn’t stand for Dr. Pepper, like it does in my world.

13. There is a possibility one of your classmates will one day direct adult films.

14. If you are a good sound person, you won’t have a problem staying busy.

15. Class critiques…you never know what you’re going to get.

16. Whoever said, “It’s all about who you know…” They’re right, so go meet everyone you can.

17. Taking risks can be good, proceed with care.

18. Reserving your equipment can be a challenge, so plan way ahead.

19. You now attend classes with people you have a lot in common with.

20. Film school is stressful, busy and fast-paced…but it’s fun.