Glass House Distribution – Generating Buzz at the American Film Market

November 2, 2016

GLASS HOUSE DISTRIBUTION, a new sales company has been generating buzz at the 2016 AMERICAN FILM MARKET for one important reason. They deliver to both filmmakers and buyers exactly what they advertise. A straight-forward approach, transparency, fairness, and hard work on the films they are selling.

The companyIMG_3374 was created as a partnership between well known indie film producer/actor/writer (and author of the book BANKROLL, the gold standard book on film financing), TOM MALLOY, and BRYAN GLASS, a wall street broker-dealer with a keen eye and a strong interest in films.

“When I was approached by Bryan to start this company, I stated my goal was to not do what distribution companies had been doing to me as a filmmaker for years,” says Malloy. “Glass House has producer-friendly contracts, numbers we have to hit, or rights revert back to the filmmaker, pic5and transparent spending. The name Glass House was taken from Bryan’s surname, but it ended up serving another purpose. You can look inside and see everything that’s going on.”

The company was launched at last year’s AFM, Malloy’s eleventh consecutive market, but the first time he was an exhibitor. He brought in MICHELLE ALEXANDRIA, formerly in acquisitions for several companies, and the pair hit the ground running.

“Our approach positions Glass House to become to be the number one trusted and transparent “go-to” distribution company of choice for the independent film community,” states Bryan Glass. “If last year is any indication, 2016 will be ever strongerIMG_3388 for us.

“Glass House has recently added film producer, ROBERT DEEGE, to the company’s roster. With credits that include Soul Surfer and the Emily Dickinson biopic, A Quiet Passion, Deege’s expertise is an important asset for Glass House.

“What attracted me to Glass House is the immediate focus on well-crafted movies,” says Deege. “I’m excited to help develop the company’s reputation for quality.”

Glass House brings several high profile indies to this year’s AFM. Stand is an intense thriller that stars LUKE ALBRIGHT. Turnabout, another thriller that isIMG_3372 racking up festivals and acclaim with PETER GREENE, and the award-winning, Warren, starring ALEX BEH, JEAN SMART and JOHN HEARD, a dramedy that RogerEbert.com says “recalls the Graduate.”

With so much in play, Glass House Distribution is sure to climb the ranks of the top sales and distribution companies who are offering their films to the world market.

 

Black In Hollywood

By Alan von Kalckreuth

I asked actress, Marion Ramsey, (best know for playing “Hooks” in the Police Academy movie franchise), and Zaron Burnett III a screenwriter and essayist, both black industry professionals here in Hollywood, what it is like to be black in America today.

“Do people react to you in a prejudiced way because you’re black?”

“Oh hell to the yeah!” She roared with her multi octave voice.

The other customers in Maria Callender’s on Wilshire Boulevard turned, but they were used to me provoking loudness from the people I have

Marion Ramsey

Marion Ramsey

dinner with; I had interviewed Zaron Burnett III there a few days earlier and had to asked Zaron to dial it down a few notches as he revealed his sense of hurt and the lost dignity he suffers as a black man in America in the Twenty-first century.

Marion told me about an incident that happened to her in an upscale New York department store.  She was leaving the store when a security guy stopped her and asked to look in her handbag. “Horrible, I felt horrible, “ she told me.  “And he was black!” she added.  “You’d better make sure there’s something in this bag, because if there isn’t I’m go’na own this store and go’na own you bitch, and everything you’re go’na make and your kids are go’na to make…” She was reliving the moment in full Technicolor!  “He let me go!” she added calmly as if the venting had been a necessary contrast to her triumphant conclusion.

I was reminded of Obama’s remark about

Cast of Police Academy

Cast of Police Academy

being followed around in stores by store detectives.  But Marion wasn’t only victimized for the color of her skin when she went shopping, she told me about not being able to rent an apartment in New York.  “The apartment was available on the phone,” she recalled.  “When I got there, and they saw I was black, it was not available, even if I paid 6 months up front.”

Where does this knee-jerk reaction to someone because of a physiological characteristic come from?  In the late eighteen hundreds a British scientist, Francis Galton, introduced the term eugenics.  Galton was Darwin’s cousin and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree –which is exactly why both of those guys believed that fitness, including culturally and socially desirable traits, were evolving in the living organisms that populate Earth, humans included.

A few weeks ago Cleveland police released a surveillance camera video that shows the moment that officers shot a 12-year-old boy, Tamir Rice, who had been playing with a BB gun in a park.  As the police drive up he can be seen standing up and fumbling. Two officers get out with their guns drawn and the boy falls, disappearing behind the car.  Tamir died of his wounds the following day.  As I watched the video I was stunned to see these two police officers minds work –true, I couldn’t actually see inside their heads, but as a whistle-blower from the NSA said about watching people writing e-mails on their computers “you can almost see them think!”  What I saw was two law enforcement officers engage a dangerous and threatening “person”, and erring on the side of caution, kill him.

So does that mean that General Patton should have been gunned down for playing cowboys and Indians as a kid, or Winston Churchill or John Wayne?  Why was this twelve year old not seen as a child playing, but instead seen as a dangerous treat to those around him?

I knew Zaron Burnett Jr. could shed some light on this, he’s an intelligent, thoughtful screen writer and essayist and whenever we meet up for a chat and a glass of beer.

Zaron Burnett Jr.

Zaron Burnett Jr.

I am always delighted to know that even though I haven’t been cloned (that I know of) I have meet another mind that could well be my mind.

“Every time I scare a person it hurts my feelings – I’m reminded they see me as a monster!” Zaron told me.  “I was in the elevator at the corporate offices of Playboy the other day,” –Zaron is a staff writer for Playboy.  “I did not talk to the woman in the elevator, it’s about who you think you are verses how people think you are.”

Just a few weeks earlier Officer Sean Williams fatally shoot John Crawford III while responding to a 911 call in a suburb of Dayton.  John’s mother Tressa Sherrod accused Williams and the Beavercreek police department of “trying to cover their butts” when they declared they had acted justifiable in shooting John dead.  John was holding an air gun he had picked up from a display shelf in the store and was absentmindedly playing with it as he chatted on his cell phone. “After repeated commands to drop the weapon,” explained  officer Williams, “the male turned to us in an aggressive manner with the rifle in hand. At that time the black male was in a position where he could shoot me or sergeant Darkow.”

“I always thought I’m something –everyone is my equal”.  Zaron tells me.  But his experience growing up in a small town in Northern California told him otherwise.  “Cops assumed because I was black I was on my way to buy drugs.”  They would stop him and ask for ID and search him.  Zaron was a Kunta Kinte sort of kid and would be sassy with the cops; “So you think you’re something – I’ll show you who you are” he told me was the message he most frequently got from the intolerant law enforcers as they manhandled him and slammed him into the wall or onto the hood of their car.

Michael Brown was shot dead after an altercation with a police officer.  The police officer justified his actions to a grand jury as necessary for his own safety after Brown assaulted him through his SUV window.  It is apparent to anyone who has read details of the altercation that both Brown and officer Wilson were furious with each other.  That fury is the root cause of Brown’s death.  But where does this fury come from, what feeds this fury?

“Imagine a biker jacket you could never take off,” Zaron said.

I had mentioned to Zaron that two cops bumped me into when I was at the Auto Show a few years back.  When it happened I was stunned, it was apparent they had squared their shoulders as they passed me on either side and intentionally bumped me.  I looked after them expecting they would turn and apologies –my first interpretation of the incident was it had been an accident.  They didn’t even turn back.  My mind whirled for an explanation… I was a graduate student studying clinical psychology at the time… THEN it struck me like Archimedes’ insight at bath time –I WAS WEARING A LEATHER MOTOR BIKE JACKET!

“Imagine a biker jacket you could never take off,” Zaron’s words revealed the tragic truth of racism.

“It’s about black bodies, girls as well,” he continued.  “Common denominator equals white cop looks at black kid as beneath him.”

“Shot him twelve time! Two shot were into his own door as he rushed to get out!”  Zaron’s voice was booming, but the customers were not complaining, perhaps they understood that he could not discuss this subject with out his blood temperature creeping up.   “He said (Michael Brown) “You’re to much of a pussy to shoot me!”” then after he’s shot, “Why’d you shoot me?”” explained Zaron.  I’m not sure if these were Brown’s actual words, but they flowed from Zaron’s lips and from his soul as if that’s what he would have said.

“The cop reads a load of shit into the engagement that is not in your resume!” Zaron declares after a pause.  James Watson, the man who unraveled DNA, told the Sunday Times in 2007 that while people may like to think that all races are born with equal intelligence, those “who have to deal with black employees find this not true.”  Galton, Darwin, Watson and Wilson… what do they know that I don’t?

Eugenics was the scientific approach to growing the perfect “person”, and was conceived by Galton.  Henrich Himmler was a chicken farmer before he took the position of

Heinrich Himmler

Heinrich Himmler

Reich’s Fuhrer SS.  That point is important because he had a lot of experience in breeding chickens with desirable qualities.  A world populated by flocks of Chiken-Littles could be more than civilization could take!  “Perhaps we shall also have to hold in check other colored peoples who will soon be in their certain prime, and thus preserve the world which is the world of our blood, of our children and our grandchildren.”  He told Germany.  Once in the job he applied the science of eugenics to perfecting what the Nazis’ believed was the pyramidion of humanity –the Arian Race.

“Race does not exist, ethnicity is real.”  It took me several minutes to digest Zaron’s definitive proposal to end prejudice in America. A world without race, what does that mean?  “Miley Cyrus can put on black culture and wear it like street wear… and take it off again,” Zaron trumpeted.  “A black guy can’t do that.”  I looked sufficiently confused for him to elaborate, “Twerking is a black culture thing, goes way back to the seventies.”  I nodded –hadn’t known that.

“First baby born in New World was Irish/Black in 1608.”  Zaron declared.  I checked it out -1606-01-03 a little person was born, the first birth of a child of African decent in the continental United States, or the New World as it was popularly know at the time.

Zaron wasn’t trying to impress me with his dates and statistics, check out his article on Death by Numbers here  http://www.playboy.com/articles/death-by-numbers – he was trying to educate me on the origins of popular racism in America.  Africans and indentured whites labored side by side in the colonies, and, according to Zaron, “Bacon’s Rebellion changed Black’s place in America.”  The ruling class suppressed the rebellion, but went to great lengths to ensure blacks and indentured whites never joined forces again.  What would these changes mean for blacks over the next four hundred years?

As the customers in Maria Callender’s finished their burgers and pies, and politely disregarded the animated Zaron, I listened to the history of black America.  “We changed the shark patterns in the Atlantic Ocean! – Four hundred years of tossing bodies into the sea,” roared Zaron.  The horrible ribbon of blood that streaked across the mid Atlantic, known as the Middle Passage, has always haunted me.  I have always feared going into darkness in the cold of night, knowing that my energy and strength would wane and expire long before the horrible journey ends –and for me this was journeys like a night train across Europe, or a drive in the winter across the Rockies… I can only imagine the despair and terror of those who traveled the ribbon of blood to the New World, destined for generations of slavery abuse and deprivation.

“Africans do not consider themselves blacks,” explained Zaron.  He was suggesting that black is a label applied as if by government sanction to advise users of the possible dangers of the contents. “Bigot verses racist – I would separate from blackness,” he added.

“Imagine a biker jacket you could never take off.” Zaron’s words echo across a never ending, boundless hell where being black often means you’re treated as less than a person, not entitled to the presumption of being a twelve year old kid playing, or a shopper distracted by a phone call, or a guy doing a good deed.  When her son, John Crawford III, died, his mother Sherrod was at home with John’s two children.  He was talking to them on the phone!  Sherrod said they listened to his final moments.  “It was horrible… It was horrible. I don’t think anyone wants to hear on the phone their child dying, taking their last breath.”

“I can’t breath!  I can’t breath…” Eric Garner said this eleven times and died.  He was being held in a chokehold by a police officer who had snared him from behind and slammed him to the ground. Eric was confronted by a police officer when he was trying to break up a quarrel between two other pedestrians.  “I’m minding my business and the people what were fighting you go’na let walk away, are you serious!” he told the police officer.

This was the beginning of a very one-sided conversation –a comparatively polite conversation that ended in Eric’s death. “I did nothing, let me go.  I did nothing, been here the whole time minding my business.”  This was not the first time Eric had been stopped and harassed by the police.  “Who did I sell a cigarette to?  To who?” he demanded the office tell him.  The tattooed, young officer shrugged towards someone standing in the gathering crowd.  “Every time you see me you wan’a arrest me.  I’m tired of this – it’s go’na stop today, stop today!”  It would stop today.  This was Eric’s last day, his last day alive.

The bystander recording all this said, “The guy right here is forcibly trying to lock somebody up for breaking up a fight!”  “I’m just standing here, ain’t doing nothing,” protests Eric, “I did not sell nothing.  Because every time you see me you want to harass me!  I’m minding my business, officer.  I’m minding my business.  Why don’t you just leave me alone?  I told you the last time, please leave me alone.

Several other officers arrive.  One officer approaches Eric from behind.  Eric moves away, “Please – don’t touch me.  Don’t touch me.  Please don’t touch me!”  The officer behind him grabs Eric in a chokehold as three other officers wrestle Eric to the ground.  One officer kneels on his head.
“I can’t breath… I can’t breath… I can’t breath… I can’t breath… I can’t breath… I can’t breath… I can’t breath… I can’t breath… I can’t breath… I can’t breath… I can’t breath…”

“All he did was break up a fight and this is what happened to him for breaking up a fight,” remarks the guy recording on his smartphone.  “Crazy”.
“Back up everyone, back up this way,” instructs a police officer.  “It’s now go’na become a crime scene.”  What he didn’t tell them was it was a crime scene where no one would face felony charges.  A crime scene where a grand jury would decide no one committed a crime.  It was just a scene at the end of a black man’s life, a forty-three year old father.  A scene that rounded off his experience of living and dying as a black man in America in the twenty-first century.
“Every time I scare a person it hurts my feelings – I’m reminded they see me as a monster!”  Zaron had said.  Darren Wilson told the grand jury, “The only way I can describe it, it looked like a demon, that’s how angry he looked.”

“You have turned him into a archetypical dark, evil being.  The only word worse is devil!” protested Zaron.

“Security starts following you around –I use my best English and they look at me as if I can’t afford it…” Marion told me.  “…It’s expensive she said (shop assistant) when I asked to see a particular necklace.  I was in a show, Andre Heller’s Body and Soul, in Frankfurt in 1988, before the wall came down.”  Marion is a fun person and hearing her recount these episodes are fun and amusing, but that’s only because she’s an entertainer.  There is nothing fun about being profiled.

“People had no voice back in the day, they do now, all people must do this, use their voice,” she adds earnestly.

“Cop followed me to La Brea and Beverly,” Zaron recalls.  “I pulled into the gas station.  They jumped out with guns drawn, finger curled around the trigger, not on the guard!”   Not only does Zaron have to deal with this harassment, he also has to deal with the knowledge that on-lookers are seeing a person who is considered by the law to justify their scrutiny –a person less than themselves.

Here in Hollywood we do more to influence culture than any other institution outside of the educational system.  Portraying blacks as leading politicians, successful businessmen, teachers, and professionals will go some way towards breaking down racial stereotypes.  Both Marion and Zaron do all they can to help breakdown barriers and bust myths.  A concerted industry effort might shift the balance and return dignity to all people.

Our Picks For The Top Ten Films of 2014

Here are our picks for the Top Ten Movies of 2014.

1. Boyhood:  The story of a young boy growing up before our very eyes, Richard Linkletter’s groundbreaking cinematic masterpiece was shot for a couple of weeks a year in a schedule that spanned twelve year.  We first meet Mason (in a breakthrough performance by Ellar Coltrane) when he is seven and follow him through the trials and tribulations of childhood, parental divorce, teenage angst and finally college life.  Strong performances all around but particularly from Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as Mason’s parents make this film an exceptional, experimental stand out.

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2. Nightcrawler:  Jake Gylenhall has never been better in this thriller from first time director, Dan Gilroy.  Gylenhall plays a creepy sociopath determined to make a name for himself in the gritty world of Los Angeles street journalism with deadly results.  This is a must-see.

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3. Ida: It’s 1962 and a young apprentice nun (first time actress, Agata Trzebuchowska) is about to take her vows at convent in Poland when she discovers that she is Jewish and a holocaust survivor.  The naive, innocent girl and her hardened aunt who is her only living relative, set out to find the graves of the girl’s parents.  By the end of the journey, she has a major decision to make.  Shot in glorious black and white and brilliantly directed by Pawel Pawlikowski, this a compelling film where every frame is like a photograph you would be happy to hang on your wall.

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4. Whiplash: Writer/Director’s Damien Chazelle’s real life experiences at the music conservatory inspired this well crafted face off between a determined and talented drum student and the college professor who is determined to bust his balls. Both Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons are excellent in their roles and this film takes you on a fun ride that ends in face off that is both loud and satisfying.

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5. The Imitation Game: The story of Alan Turing who in the early 1940s led a motley group of scholars, linguists, chess champions and intelligence officers in cracking the so-called unbreakable codes of Germany’s World War II Enigma machine. The film follows this genius, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, who under nail-biting pressure helped shorten the war and, in turn, save thousands of lives, only to be jailed a few years later for the criminal offense of homosexuality, at that time a crime in the UK.

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6. Birdman:  A cinematic roller coaster about a Hollywood superhero (Michael Keaton) trying to get respect on Broadway. Keaton gives the performance of his career in this whirling comedy in which the laughs promise to hurt.

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7. Selma: A compelling and well told film about  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s 1965 campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. The epic march from Selma to Montgomery organized by Dr. King culminated in President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most significant victories for the civil rights movement.

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8. The Theory of Everything: Eddie Redmayne shows true star power in his portrayal of Stephen Hawking, one of the world’s greatest living minds, who falls in love with fellow Cambridge student Jane Wilde. Once a healthy, active young man, Hawking receives an earth-shattering diagnosis at age 21 years  yet manges to embarks on his most ambitious scientific work, studying the very thing he now has precious little of – time. Directed by Academy Award winner James Marsh, the film is poignant and thought provoking.

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9.  A Most Violent Year: Oscar Isaac totally dominates the screen in this drama that follows the lives of an immigrant (Isaac) and his wife, Jessica Chastain as they attempt to capitalize on the American Dream, while the violence, decay, and corruption of the day threatens to destroy all they have accomplished.  The film’s slow reveal works beautifullyA Most Violent Year will go on to be a classic.

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10. The Grand Budapest Hotel: Wes Anderson’s film recounts the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune — all against the back-drop of a suddenly and dramatically changing Continent.

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Hollywood Revealed: The Top Ten Movies of 2012

December 31, 2012

While it is hard to pick ten “best” films, here is a list of ten that we feel deserve to be commended–as well as five “honorable mentions.”  They are listed in alphabetical order.

ARGO

Ben Affleck’s third film as director, Argo is an entertaining, accessible thrill ride that balances classic tension and humor in equal doses resulting in a satisfying motion picture that has firmly establishing Mr. Affleck as a director with a strong future.  “Argo” moves like a bullet as it’s unfolds.  It well deserves the accolades it is currently receiving.

DJANGO UNCHAINED

A rowdy, bawdy, violent movie with a 1970s feel, “Django Unchained” is Quinten Tarantino at his best.  The film is filled with tongue-in-cheek humor and boasts great performances from Jamie Foxx, Christopher Waltz and Samuel Jackson.

FLIGHT

After opening with one of the most terrifying flying scenes in cinema, in which an airplane is saved by being flown upside-down, Robert Zemeckis’ “Flight” segues into a brave and tortured performance by Denzel Washington as a pilot who has been hiding his drug and alcohol addiction for years.  The film is a well-rounded, compelling look at a tortured soul who refuses to face his demons.

LIFE OF PI

Ang Lee’s masterful “Life of Pi” is soulful, spiritual and entertaining.  It’s special effects and CGI is a breakthrough in that arena and the film’s life affirming message is something that may stay with you for a years to come.  See it in 3D.

NOT FADE AWAY

David Chase’s first effort as writer/director is a moving, insightful coming of-age film about dreams that may never be fulfilled and a young musician’s love affair that could potentially influence all his future relationships.  Set in the early 1960s, the film is well acted by it’s cast of young, mostly unknown actors.  John Magaro is particularly strong as the protagonist, holding his own against James Gandolfini who plays his stern, uptight father.  Well worth a look before it disappears from the big screen.

SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN

A brilliant detective story, this documentary about a real life musician who has no idea he is a gigantic star in South Africa fills you with emotion.  Directed by Malik Bandjellou the film is a feel-good documentary with a tremendous soundtrack.  It proves that real talent does not go unrewarded.  We can only hope the Academy takes notice.

THE IMPOSSIBLE

A film that packs an amazing emotional punch, “The Impossible,” starring Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts boasts sensational performances from three young child actors, Tom Holland, Samuel Joslin and Oaklee Prendergast.    Based on the true story of a Spanish family caught up in the 2004 Tsunami in Thailand, “The Impossible” it is a stunningly well made, life affirming film that leaves you fighting tears as you take the journey with these shattered souls.   Watts has never been better as the mother fighting for her life.

THIS IS 40

A raunchy but realistic look at a couple’s mid-life meltdown as they approach their 40th birthday is both funny and heartfelt.  While seeing an upwardly mobile couple’s angst may not be everyone’s cup of tea, director, Judd Apatow has created a film that is real slice of life.  Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann are excellent as the couple with tasty appearances by John Lithgow, Melissa McCarthy and Chris O’Dowd.

THE MASTER

Original, daring and captivating, from the glorious 65mm cinematography by Mihai Malaimare Jr. to the disturbing soundtrack by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix give performances that are alive with subtext and detail.  Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master” may leave you pondering it’s underlying meaning but it’s depth and attention to detail take you on a journey that is hard to forget.

ZERO DARK THIRTY

Katherine Bigelow reteams with writer Mark Boal to bring the capture of Osama Bin Laden to the big screen.  The film is a taunt, exciting thrill ride.  The reenactments of how it all went down feels real and credible.   Zero Dark Thirty might be the one to beat come Academy Award time.

HONORABLE MENTION:

Arbitrage: A tense thriller and a penetrating character study starring Richard Gere as a shifty hedge-fund manager who’s foxed his way to the top of New York’s moneyed classes.

Beast of the Southern Wild: A 6 year of girl living in a desolate, poverty stricken community struggles to survive.

The Imposter: The story of a 21 year old Frenchman who convinces a grieving Texas family that he is their 16-year-old son who has been missing for 3 years.

The Sessions: A 38 year old man living in an iron lung sets out to lose his virginity.

21 Jump Street: Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as two young cops turned undercover high school students in this hilarious big screen reboot of the old TV show.



 

Gun Control… Hollywood Control

By Alan von Kalckreuth

“I just think, you know, there’s violence in the world, tragedies happen, blame the playmakers.  It’s a western.  Give me a break.” That’s Tarantino’s view about his new film, “Django Unchained” and the role violence on the screen, and in his films, has on society.

A friend said recently, Tarantino looks like Tarantino because he is Tarantino, and as the proverb says: until forty God is responsible for you face, after forty you are.

The Weinstein Company, the producers and long-term collaborators with Tarantino, canceled the red-carpet premiere of “Django Unchained” because of Friday’s shootings in Newtown, Conn.  Paramount reacted similarly and postponed a premiere for “Jack Reacher,” sensitive to the national horror the school shooting has invoked.  “Reacher” revolves around an apparent senseless and random gunning down of innocent pedestrians.

Fox network cancelled scheduled episodes of “Family Guy” and “American Dad”.  Back in July, Warner Bros. canceled the Paris, Mexico City and Tokyo premieres of its film “Dark Knight Rises” after twelve people were gunned down and fifty-eight injured in Aurora, Colorado.

What Tarantino seems blind to is culture –though he is a cross-beam and rebar pillar of the ‘‘culture of violence’’ the entertainment industry’s embrace in movies, television shows and video games.

‘‘The violence in the entertainment culture — particularly with the extraordinary realism to video games, movies now, et cetera — does cause vulnerable young men to be more violent,’’ Senator Joe Lieberman, Independent of Connecticut, said.

‘‘There might well be some direct connection between people who have some mental instability and when they go over the edge, they transport themselves, they become part of one of those video games,’’ said Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado, where 12 people were killed in a movie theater shooting in July.

White House adviser David Axelrod tweeted, ‘‘But shouldn’t we also quit marketing murder as a game?’’

American Idiot’s National Tour Delivers

Review by Peter Foldy

From the moment the curtain opens, “American Idiot,” wrapping up a successful run at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go. It’s a jaw dropping moment as the cast explode onto the dazzling set fueled with high octane and youthful exuberance singing, “don’t want to be an American idiot,” with an energy that is sustained throughout the entire production.

Based on a successful concept album by punk rock band, Green Day, the story deals with three disaffected young men, Johnny (Van Hughes), Tunny (Scott J. Campbell) and Will (Jake Epstein) who try to bail from the restraints of suburbia and head for the city to search for direction and perhaps a chance to express themselves. Maybe to make their voices heard.

The action takes place in a turbulent post 9/11 America and as we all remember, they were confusing and uncertain times.

Our characters certainly think so.  Tunny quickly grows disenchanted with the city and gravitates toward the military. Will stay home to work on his relationship with his soon to be pregnant girlfriend while Johnny dives into his new life with wild abandon, first falling in lust and later almost drowning as an addiction to heroin threatens to ruin his life.

As their individual stories unfold we are treated to episodes of passion, rage, humor more rage and sensual flying dreams, all loosely bound together by a series of short dispatches Johnny conveys to his mother back in the suburbs.

The music in this show is exceptional, the performers highly gifted. Every last person in the cast of twenty get their moment to shine, even the excellent band members who are on stage the entire time. But it is Van Hughes as “Johnny” who revs the engine and firmly grabs the wheels of this fast moving vehicle. His quirky, sweet, offbeat personality, even when he is high on heroin, is never short of compelling.  Sometimes you want to smack him, but mostly you want to give him a hug and say, hang in there buddy.  It’s gonna be okay.

Gabrielle McClinton as Johnny’s girl friend, “Whatsername” tries to do just that.  She is a grounding, soothing character that balances the manic Johnny’s lust for life, taming him briefly with her body and joining him in his experimentation with drugs.

Yet one of the most moving arcs is that of Tunny who returns from war a wounded soldier, both emotionally and physically. He is a boy who has grown to be a man and is finally able to find love, ending up the only character that does.

Scott J. Campbell wears his heart on his sleeve, even when he tries to be brave. Campbell’s performance is both touching and heartbreaking.

The choreography in the show is kinetic and jerky but so perfect and so much fun to watch.  I found myself saying how do they do that?  Steven Hoggett has done an excellent job here.

And then there is the aforementioned set. It is a maze of windows and doors, graffiti and flat screen televisions, playing cryptic images and messages that are woven into the fabric of the show.  It is impressive.  So are the flying sequences between Campbell and his nurse and later his love interest, a talented Nicci Claspell.

“American Idiot” truly rocks.  Not since “Hair” in the late sixties has a musical been this innovative, this fresh while still managing to touch your heart.

Directed by Michael Mayer, “American Idiot” has a few more days left in L.A. so there is still some time, though probably only a few tickets.

They do hold a lottery for a number of front row seats at a cost of only $30.00.  Get there at least an hour and a half before the show to register.   This is one “Idiot” that is well worth the effort.

Lindsay Lohan on SNL

Los Angeles: March 4, 2012

Lindsay Lohan’s comeback as host of last night’s Saturday Night Live proved to be something of a disappointment.  A number of fans and critics alike have panned her performance.  On the show Lohan seemed nervous and unprepared, reading most of her dialogue from cue card which she fumbled on several occasion.  The Los Angeles Times story re her hosting skills summed up consensus with the headline: Fans Rip Hosting Job.

Still we have some sympathy for Ms. Lohan.  It is not an easy task to perform live on television in front of millions of people especially with the less than stellar comedic material which was handed to her.  Lohan clearly felt the pressure and it was obvious that at times the task was slightly overwhelming for her.  Perhaps we should take her at her word when she says she is trying to get her life back on track and cut her some slack.  Not jump all over her as navigates the road back to respectability.   She is a talented actress and like everyone, she deserves a second chance.

MARK ELIAS ON “16-LOVE”

Los Angeles: January 23, 2012

In the recently released motion picture “16-Love,” actor Mark Elias manages to do a lot with little. The film’s plot-line deals with “Ally Mash” played by Lindsay Black, a young, female tennis pro, who after an ankle injury, meets up with and begins to motivate “Farrell Gambles” (Chandler Massey), a handsome up-and-coming tennis player who wants badly to be a contender. In the process, the couple manage to fall in love and wouldn’t you know it, by the end of the last reel, Ally is fully healed and manages to win her big match against Russian arch-rival “Katrina Apranova,” well played both on the tennis court and on screen by Susie Abromeit.

While the picture, (rated PG) doesn’t claim to break any new ground or reveal much about teen angst we haven’t already seen in, oh, probably a hundred other movies, “16-Love” is an enjoyable, lighthearted film that is perfect for family viewing.

While the leads handle their roles with charm and professionalism, it is journeyman actor, Elias that manages to grab your attention in his supporting role. His natural unaffected performance got a number of the bigger laughs at the recent L.A. screening at USC. We managed to talk to Elias afterwards and questioned him about his life and career.

HR: You had a strong screen presence in “16-Love.” Funny and natural. Any of your good scenes end up on the cutting room floor?

ME: Actually, yeah I was pretty bummed to see one scene in particular didn’t make the final cut. Chandler (Massey), Steven (Christopher Parker) and I are playing Wii Tennis together and just having a great time. We shot it on the first day of filming and it really helped show our friendship, our bonding. But hey that’s filmmaking. Maybe it’ll make the DVD extras.

HR: Talking of cutting room, you starred in a film of the same name shortly after arriving in Los Angeles. Tell us about how that happened?

ME: I was hired by the director after he saw a short film I did with a mutual friend. He thought I was right for the part and that was pretty much it.

HR: Were you shocked to be offered the lead? Did his investors want a name in the role, like most money people do?

ME: Luckily he and the investors decided to go with me and I think it showed, although there were definite names being thrown around for the role. When I got the call it was a Friday night and I was elated all weekend and then some.

HR: What did you learn on that film, and how did it help your career?

ME: I learned that you can never predict how a scene or a shoot is going to go, so you have to be as prepared as possible and just roll with it. And have fun with it. And play a lot of video games. Lots of video games. Like… Lots.

HR: How did you land the role of “Nate” in “16-Love?”

ME: The audition was a lot of improv and British accents for the tennis announcing scene. It was a fun audition and we given the ability to have fun and create. I was happy it worked out.

HR: How many call backs?

ME: I think I booked it straight from the first audition.

HR: How much of your stuff in the film is ad-libbed, if any, or did you guys stick to the script?

ME: We tried sticking to the script but a lot of the stuff that ended up working was when we improved and got up off the page. Leigh Dunlap, the writer gave us really cool characters to play with so I just took that and ran with it. Developed some aspects of Nate’s personality, like his geek pop culture love.

HR: Where are you from and how long have you been an actor?

ME: I was born in Houston and raised in Philadelphia. So I’m basically a Philly boy. Which generally means trouble! And I’ve been an actor since the first time I tried to get out of trouble.

HR: When did you realize you would have to make the move to L.A?

ME: I quickly realized that being in LA was the right place to be to take an acting career seriously. I can’t put a finger on the exact date but it was very much a feeling of “I’m going to do this.” And began to take it seriously.

HR: What’s the first thing you did when you got here?

ME: The first thing that propelled my career in L.A. was signing up for classes at the Beverly Hills Playhouse. That was the “I’m doing this one hundred percent” moment.

HW: What did your family think when you told them that acting was going to be your chosen career path?

ME: Next question? Ha. I remember it wasn’t an overwhelming feeling of agreement but I knew if I was going to do it, I needed to do it right and do it then, and rely on my family’s “hard work breeds success” attitude.

HR: What are the bigger challenges you face as you try to further your career in Hollywood?

ME: I think a huge step is making it to the next level but in a more specific terms I want to get films made that I’m creating, not just acting in.

HR: So are you planning to write and direct?

ME: It’s something that I’d like to do when the time is right, directing. Writing is quickly becoming an enjoyment that I’m trying to keep as a fun outlet and not “work.” I don’t want to end up caught in chasing the next hot idea and get lost in that tunnel.

HR: You directed a short film called “The Juggler” that had some famous faces in it. Can you tell us about it?

ME: It really started out as a fun exercise and all of a sudden friends of mine were getting excited about it and a lot of them were in between gigs and it just worked out really well. Josh Sussman, Penn Badgeley, Shawn Pyfrom, Aviva, they were all willing and excited to be a part of it. The story itself was sort of a nod to the Chaplin era films, a lead character with no dialogue, an every day guy, based around his girlfriend’s high school party.

HR: Who’s been your biggest influences?

ME: I think as a kid, the actor that amazed me the most was Dustin Hoffman. I saw “Rain Man,” “The Graduate,” “Little Big Man,” and “Midnight Cowboy” in the span of about two days. Also Robert Downey Jr,’s screen presence and unpredictability are great qualities I always try to be aware of. He’s just got his own style of doing things. I’m also a huge fan of Charlie Chaplin.

HR: What are some of the other films audiences might have seen you in?

ME: I was in a little horror film called “Animals” directed by Doug Aarniokoski, and I also have a few other feature projects in post right now. One is called “From the Head” and another called “Favor.”

HR: And on television?

ME: I had a great little part on Justified which is a show with a lot of buzz. I also was recently on The Event and Criminal Minds.

HR: What’s been your favorite role to date and why? On stage or on film.

ME: Most recently, I really enjoyed playing Nate in “16-Love” because it was a great, great feeling to be funny and make the background actors laugh by just doing improv. It was immediate feedback of what worked and what didn’t!

HR: What recent film do you wish you had been a part of?

ME: “The Artist.” I am in love with silent films.

HR: What’s the worst thing about being an actor in Hollywood?

ME: The eyes that roll when you say you’re an actor. Gotta love the cynics.

HR: And the best?

ME: Just being creative and expressive.

HR: What’s your main focus in the coming months?

ME: My feature “Beachwood Drive” that I actually wrote and hope to have shot by this summer.

HR: Describe your perfect L.A. weekend.

ME: VEGAS!

HR: Thanks for talking to us, Mark.

Can a Film Get into Sundance Without Industry Pull?

Hollywood: January 23, 2012

With the 2012 Sundance Film Festival underway in Utah from January 19th through January 29th, we cannot help but ask this question.

Does a filmmaker without a famous last name, without representation by a major agency or a “festival rep” or without having a recognizable name in his or her film have even a remote chance of being accepted by Sundance or by any of the top tier festivals?

In looking at the Sundance lineup this year, it would seem highly unlikely. Sundance is a private club reserved for the famous and the connected.

Sundance should release a list. They should be accountable and tell us how many films playing in their festival were submitted by “civilians.” People without industry connection or access to star power. Prove us wrong, Sundance.

With thousands of film schools around the country promising young filmmakers a career, perhaps they should also be teaching “ass-kissing” as a subject.

We’re just saying.

Hangover Part II–What a Disappointment

Lazy filmmaker, Todd Phillips has lifted beat for beat the plot of his original hit movie, “The Hangover.” This blatant attempt to cash in on the success of the first film finds the “Wolfpack,” Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) in Bangkok, Thailand. Rather than re-hash the storyline for you, just know that it is exactly like the first one, except not funny. The actors barely seem to be going through their paces and the whole thing feels like a raunchy episode of of some cheezy 70’s sitcom complete with a pudgy guest star, Paul Giomatti as “Kingsley.”.

What was shocking and hilarious in the first film is jammed down our throats in “Hangover Part II.” Case in point is the storyline with “Mr. Chow,” an obnoxious, loudmouthed gangster from the previous film whose shrill persona was far more effective in small doses. Out of place and looking lost is Mason Lee playing a 16-year-old pre-med student, “Teddy,” whose disappearance is the plot point that was meant to drive this soulless, disappointing caper. Perhaps this film needed more than it’s eleven producers to insist that the filmmakers come up with something original. Or maybe just making a lot of money and providing more mindless entertainment this coming weekend was all that really mattered.

Our Rating: ** (out of 5 stars)