Saturday, February 27, 2010

My Other Pets

You all know about Art, my cat (here he is trying to make a perfect circle as he sleeps), but I also have a few other pets; namely a family of snails.  Okay, so they aren't really my pets, but I do enjoy saying hello when I see them.  They live in the shrubbery next to the brick wall near my driveway and come out at night or when it's raining.
Apparently they have a deal with a squirrel in the neighborhood who likes to roll oranges that fall from the tree over to the brick wall, where he peels and eats them.  Here you can see Mom, Dad and Junior eating Mr. Squirrel's leftovers.  Who knew LA had so much wildlife?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Oscar Watch: Actress

Best Actress Noms:
Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Helen Mirren, The Last Station
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

It seems like it is a two-horse race in this one between veteran leading ladies, Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock, and I'm guessing that's partially because a lot of people have seen their respective films.  That's too bad, because I think the women in the smaller films were amazing.  My favorite was Carey Mulligan as the innocent teenager who is forced to grow up quickly in An Education, while Gabourey Sidibe was outstanding in her very first acting role, Precious.

Best Supporting Actress Noms:
Penélope Cruz, Nine
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Mo'Nique, Precious

Bacon Bit

Thanks to my friend, I now know that I am just two degrees from Kevin Bacon!  Here is a site where you can see for yourself.  Just enter my name, "Jeffrey Boehm," and click on 'find link' and you'll see the evidence.  Funny stuff -- thanks Thiel!

The Oracle of Bacon

Monday, February 22, 2010

400th Post - Thank You For Reading!

400 posts in, I just wanted to say thank you to those of you who have kept reading.  I know I don't always have the most interesting or insightful things to say, and life isn't always fascinating out here -- despite the reputed glitz and glamor of Hollywood.  But, I have tried to update this thing with the various steps in my journey (a few large, many small), and I hope that in the future I will have bigger and better things to write about.

So, thanks again for reading, and for all the support you guys give me.  Please feel free to comment or question, it reminds me there are at least a few eyeballs on the other side of these ramblings :)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Few Movies...

In case you're looking for anything to see (or avoid), here are some brief write-ups of films I've seen in the last week...

 Shutter Island - 2010
Love the tone of this movie! The locations are great, some beautiful camera work, some outstanding performances (strong cameos!), and a solid thriller storyline. Sure there are a few holes and suspension of disbelief moments, but those were actually pretty easy for me to look past in the moment, and enjoy the film experience as a whole. Not quite The Shining, but along that path... I could easily compare the plot (and plot devices...) to other movies, but I think that would give away too many spoiler-ific details. Definitely worth checking out! 

Frozen - 2010
Essentially Open Water on a mountain.  Three kids gets stuck on a ski lift overnight -- hi jinx ensue. Audience has time to ponder: what would you do??  Fun stuff (though not for the faint of heart!) -- see it in a theater with a crowd if you can for maximum enjoyment. 

The Wolfman - 2010
Hopkins, Blunt and Weaving are fine, but del Toro is much more convincing as Fenster in The Usual Suspects than he is here with his vaguely American accent and wooden lack of charm. The setting and tone set at the start are cool, but the story doesn't hold together and violent gore is used as a substitute for any sense of foreboding or suspense. Too bad.  

The New World - 2005 
Terrence Malick's The New World is a very deliberately-paced, thoughtful meditation on life, love, sacrifice -- and the human place within the natural world. Of course, that summation pretty aptly describes all of Malick's films, and that is too simplistic. Indeed, during the course of the movie's 135-minute run time, so much is explored that at its close you feel both exhausted and sated. The film is rife with lingering shots of nature's beauty (including the very first and the very last) -- water, trees, birds, rain -- and these images and their corresponding sounds are a respite, a chance for us to consider what comes has come before and what is to come.

The usually hyper-kinetic Colin Farrell is reined in here and plays Captain John Smith with great care, and Q'Orianka Kilcher is wonderful. The end feels a bit abrupt, with some seemingly vital story points revealed in voice over and montage. But, after some thought, I realized that such a maneuver is perfectly in keeping with the rest of the movie. Through the use of his camera, his particular (though unhurried) edits, and his characters' internal monologues, Mr. Malick expertly guides us to contemplate what is important to the story he is telling and to let our preconceived notions go...

I, for one, cannot wait for The Tree of Life (his next movie with Brad Pitt and Sean Penn) this winter. 

Good Will Hunting - 1997
Matt Damon is pitch-perfect as Will Hunting, a brilliant though damaged young man from Southie.  Robin Williams is outstanding as Will's therapist.  The two men form an unlikely friendship and realize that each has something to learn from the other...  Instantly, one of my all-time favorites when I first saw it in '97, and it remains so today.  If you haven't see it (or haven't seen it in awhile), do yourself a favor and rent it right now!

Friday, February 19, 2010

From the "It's Always Something..." File

Just in case I got to thinking, "gee, all this non-money I've got is burning a hole in my pocket," fate decided to throw me a tiny stone.  Unfortunately said stone hit my windshield, right below the wiper, and before I even knew what happened, it had grown into a long crack.  So, today, a fine gentleman from SafeLite Autoglass found himself here replacing the broken glass.  Thankfully, the expected rain held off long enough for the install, and my ride is as good as new!

Freshly Squeezed

One of my new favorite things: the orange tree in my building's front yard.  In the last couple weeks, I've gotten a couple dozen of the best, juiciest oranges I've ever eaten.  I think it's mainly because nothing is done to this tree - no pesticides, no growth hormones, no fertilizer, etc.  If I am ever lucky enough to have my own place out here in California, fruit trees are a must.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Disney Writing Program in Variety

Yesterday's Variety mentioned the new ABC/Disney fellows:

Disney-ABC Television Group has set the 2010 participants in its annual writers development program, run in partnership with the WGA West...

Disney-ABC/WGAW's Writing Program is marking its 20th year offering a yearlong paid program to writers who are given the chance to work on shows, partner with exec mentors from Disney and ABC and attend seminars and workshops to hone their craft. This year's participants are Zach Ayers, Denise Hahn, Aaron Ho, Zahir McGhee, Gina Monreal, Sierra Ornelas, Gloria Shen and Phononzell Williams.

Congratulations, Gina -- You go, girl!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Oscar Watch: Actor

Best Actor Noms:
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
George Clooney, Up in the Air
Colin Firth, A Single Man
Morgan Freeman, Invictus
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

Jeremy Renner was outstanding, and I wouldn't mind seeing him win.  I also loved Clooney in Up in the Air -- as did many critics; he swept most of the critics' awards in December. But I think Jeff Bridges turn as wearied country music singer, Bad Blake, will bring home the golden statue.  And I'm just fine with that choice, too.  He was brilliant and seems to be gaining more and more momentum as the awards season goes along...

Best Supporting Actor Noms:
Matt Damon, Invictus
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

I think this is the biggest runaway of the bunch.  There were some really great supporting perfs (I was especially blown away by Woody Harrelson in The Messenger, though not enough people saw that for him to get too much buzz), but I reckon that a sadistic, charming, multilingual Nazi will 'Waltz' away with the trophy.  Christoph Waltz was spectacular in Inglorious Basterds; he's won virtually every supporting actor award this year, and I don't expect Oscar voters to stem that tide.

What say you?  Any thoughts on the Actor races?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Doubling Down at the Cineplex

All this Avatar hype got me thinking about how mega-blockbusters (i.e. recent movies that reach near the $1 billion mark) are able to make so darn much money at the Box Office.  Seems that they (Titanic, The Dark Knight, and now Avatar) are able to generate such huge returns by getting repeat customers, people coming back again and again.  So, I tried to think of the movies I have paid to see more than once in the theater, and the list is pretty short. (This year, I actually saw a couple films more than once: Star Trek and Angels & Demons, though it was mainly to spot myself in them -- and out of the couple times that I saw each, I only paid for one admission, Star Trek opening night.)

Sometimes when I really enjoy a movie -- recently, Benjamin Button, Up in the Air, An Education -- I think I will go see it again, but often don't.  In fact, the last movie I paid to see twice in the theater was the brilliant little music movie, Once, a couple years back.

Prior to that I saw the Star Wars films (Eps I-III) multiple times (even though I was tremendously disappointed for the most part...) and the 90's re-releases of Eps. IV-VI -- the first time I can actually remember seeing those classics on the big screen. 

I also ventured down to the cinema to see Jurassic Park a few times -- I even paid to see Spielberg's dinos again at a midnight show last year.  And the first movie I remember going to see more than once was another James Cameron movie, 1989's The Abyss.  I went three times -- my young, male brain LOVED the underwater stuff and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio.

And that's it.  That's pretty much my whole list, though there might be one or two others I'm forgetting.

What about it?  Will you pay to see a movie in the theater more than once?  If so, which ones?  Avatar?

Friday, February 12, 2010

SOREly Mistaken

Spent the last few (looong) days working as an extra on that film I mentioned last week.  I am grateful for the work, but I gotta tell you, I am SORE -- more than I ever thought I could be working background!  I can't say much about the wardrobe I wore, but I feel like I did about 2,000 lat pulldowns and 500 squats barefoot on gravel yesterday.  And though my costume doesn't look like the above artist's rendering, let me say that after a couple 14-hour days in a row, my body knows exactly how the poor guy at the bottom feels.

The good news: I heard that we looked great, and after all in the movies looking good is what matters, right?  As for me, back to the Advil...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Crazy Heart = Crazy Good Acting

The Academy has seen fit to bestow Oscar noms on two actors (see above) from Crazy Heart -- and rightly so!  It is always inspiring to see actors at the top of their game - definitely check out Mr. Bridges and Ms. Gyllenhaal.   

My good friend, Mike Ford, asked me to post a guest review of Crazy Heart on his new movie blog.  I've pasted my review below (in the style of Mr. Ford), and to see other timely reviews and fresh takes on current movie topics, check out

CRAZY HEART - (Review by Jeff Boehm)
"The Redemption Tale" is one of the oldest stories around -- there is the attractive but old, tortured former artist/actor/musician/athlete who falls from glory, loses family and self-respect, gets some sort of addiction, is inspired by a woman (usually a sexy, hard-working single mom) to face up to his mistakes, atone for them, kick said addiction and return to past glory.  There are no real surprises in the story of redemption told in Crazy Heart.  Still, thanks to some outstanding performances -- including impressive supporting turns by Colin Farrell and Robert Duvall (the very king of Redemption stories!), spot-on original music, and interesting photography, there is enough there to keep us pulling for our hero to come back from the brink.   

Jeff Bridges is arguably at his best when he plays a character a little (or a lot) left of center, "The Dude," for instance.  Here, he is pitch-perfect as down-on-his-luck country singer, Bad Blake.  The sure-handed Bridges plays Blake with the appropriate mix of charm and smarm.  His scruffy voice, and even scruffier hygiene, makes Bad seem older than his 57 years.  An actor this in tune with his craft is the writer/director's best friend; when Bad runs off the 'stage' of a bowling alley, vomits in a garbage can out back, reaches down to pick up his now vomit-covered sunglasses, puts them on and ambles back to the stage, where he sits and mumbles the last line of his hit song before leaving the stage for good, Bridges authentically does more to show the viewer what this man has become than any number of long expository speeches could.

Despite his dirty and tired facade, at moments throughout the film, Bridges reveals glimpses of Blake's long-dormant talent and heart
Insert Woman to bring out the former Blake!  Maggie Gyllenhal is in her wheelhouse here (as opposed to being -- unbelievably -- the woman all men lust after in The Dark Knight) as a small-town, single mom reporter who falls for the aging musician.  Again, no surprises here as she tries to penetrate the alcohol-powered force field constructed around Bad's soul, but the stick-to-the-formula-ness of the movie didn't really bother me; despite a couple minor contrivances in the script, the rest of the production kept me along for the ride.  The cinematography is a brilliant contrast of the dank, dirty and cramped life of Bad Blake with the open and natural beauty of the West.  It makes you want to both take a shower and pack up the car for a ride down Route 66.  And the songs are really top notch; the music itself becomes a character central to the plot and indeed central to our understanding of the other characters -- it's no surprise to me that Bridges turned down the project until they came back to him with the original music and songs that would be used in the film.

In a nutshell: If The Wrestler and
Tender Mercies had a baby, and the baby can craft a tune like T Bone Burnett, it would be this movie.

See it: If you can find it at the local Indie cinema, otherwise get your hands on the DVD when it comes out.

4.5/ 5 stars

Monday, February 8, 2010

Stupor Bowl, Adwise

The Super Bowl offered a pretty good game yesterday -- congrats to the Saints.  But, how about the commercials?!  With companies ponying up north of $2.8 million for 30 seconds of air time, you think you'd get the best of the best in terms of creativity and originality.  Bud Light hasn't been funny since the the 'wasssup' guys and the Bud Clydesdale stories are getting old, and yet that company led all overspenders by putting on about $20 million worth of boring, lame commercials yesterday.

Almost by default, my favorite commercial was the Betty White Snickers commercial, where she's playing football with the guys.  (According to USA Today's real-time "Ad Meter", that one was also the highest scoring ad.)

As far as movies go, there weren't too studios shelling out the big cash  -- a couple that look like real duds: The Last Airbender?  Prince of Persia?  I did enjoy the Russell Crowe Robin Hood spot -- Gladiator goes medieval.  And then there were previews for the long-awaited/oft postponed duo of Shutter Island and The Wolfman -- but we've been seeing trailers for those two for the better part of a year.  The only other one I can remember is Alice in Wonderland which seemed okay.  No TRON, no Clash of the Titans...

Any favorite commercials/movie previews?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Lovers of Books and/or Free Things Take Note

My friend, Greg, book-blogger extraordinaire, is having a giveaway on his blog - Novelist Zadie Smith's collection of essays: Changing My Mind.  If you are a Zadie Smith fan, or just a fan of getting something free, check out The New Dork Review of Books.

By the way, if you have never read any of Ms. Smith's work, I recommend checking out White Teeth - an epic novel about intertwining immigrant families in London.  The thing I appreciate most about WT (besides the fact that she wrote this brilliant novel when she was 24ish!) is the way she juxtaposes tradition and technology.  She weaves some amazingly real and grounded individual characters with the more universal themes of holding on to one's culture and one's past while facing the inevitable conflict of living in a new country and a modern world -- a world which appreciates sameness and convenience...

"The past is prologue..."

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Key to Roles?

One of the unfortunate casualties of my 2010 resolution to be more frugal (i.e. spend less of the money that I don't have...) has been casting director workshops.  I took quite a few last year, and they are indeed a great way to meet casting folks, but at $40 or so a pop, they can be a little expensive.  I know, I know, you need to invest in your career out here in order to further it, and I do look forward to getting back into workshops on a more regular basis, BUT at least for now, I need to save a little bit of money.

That said, I did go to a workshop at The Actor's Key last night.  I had a credit for one I missed back in December and decided to use it last night for Ani Avetyan from Bruce Newberg's ("The Closer") office.  It was my first time at The Key in Burbank, and I really liked the set-up; unlike many CD workshops where you cold read a scene that the casting person gives you on the spot, at The Actor's Key you get to prep a scene of your choosing from their website and bring it in.  You are given a reader and go into a room to read one on one, and then the CD jots down a few notes for you -- so you leave with some written feedback.

I think Ani may be an exception since I have heard such good things about her workshops and the time she takes with actors, but still the model in use here seems to be better suited for a CD actually getting to the actor than the other workshop method.  Will contacts you make here be any more successful?  Hard to say.  But, I do plan to take more workshops at this place in the future -- once the future provides me with more cash, that is!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Money for Nothing

Today is the best day of background I've ever had.  My work status = "canceled with pay."  I was booked for today and didn't find out until late last night that I wasn't needed, so for the first (and only) time in my 2+ years, I am getting paid NOT to go to work.  More, please!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Oscar Noms 2010 (2009 Films)

The Oscar nominations were announced this morning -- per new Academy policy, there are 10 nominees for Best Picture this year -- see poll to the right, and let me know how many of these ten you've seen so far.  I was disappointed to see that a few of my favorite films got left out: Star Trek, The Messenger, Crazy Heart and 500 Days of Summer were a few I was hoping would make the list (The Blind Side?!).  Any others that should have gotten nods? 

The odds-on favorites are The Hurt Locker and Avatar, though I hope the latter doesn't win...

There weren't too many surprises in many of the other major categories -- I'll take a closer look at those categories as the March 7th telecast date approaches.