Monday
    Dec272010

    Top 10 for 2010 - Movies

    It is the end of the year, so you know what that means... top ten lists!
    We covered our Top 5 favorite films of the year in this episode of the Totally Rad Show, but I thought I'd expand on that to discuss my top 10 of 2010.  So, without further ado...
    1. True Grit

    Another Coen Bros masterpiece of language and storytelling.  Fantastic performances anchor an unpredictable, riveting tale of revenge and coming of age.  In typical Coen Bros style even the smallest characters are interesting and memorable.  I didn't have a more enjoyable time at the movies all year, and it instantly made my all-time list of favorite Westerns.
    2. Social Network

    Forget the geek inside-baseball backlash about how little verisimilitude the film brings to Mark Zuckerberg's real life story (what biopic doesn't play fast and loose with the truth?).  In the hands of Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher, the Social Network is a snowball careening down a mountain, a torrent of god-I-wish-people-really-spoke-like-that dialog and impossible intelligence, that dives in and out of different times and events, building to what feels like a breakneck pace.  It makes legal depositions and computer programming feel like high drama, and is a relevant, fascinating film, regardless of how accurate it is to the real story.
    3. 127 Hours

    The most inspiring film of the year.  A tale of true heroism and a lesson in using willpower and determination to survive.  It is also an incredible piece of filmmaking.  That Danny Boyle is able to maintain tension and interest inside a crevasse when we know the outcome of the story is remarkable.  This film is far, far better than the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire.  
    4. Inception

    An audacious, grand, hard science-fiction tale that also managed to be mass market entertainment.  I am still in awe of the imagination at work in Inception, and will be thinking about it for years to come.  No movie was talked about more, dissected, or provoked more thought.  
    5. The King's Speech

    Clearly, I am enamored with movies that value language, and The King's Speech absolutely revels in it.  Colin Firth's performance is spectacular, and only in part because of the remarkable affectation he adopts.  The nuance of bluster and insecurity, of familial power struggle and personal denial he conveys is even more impressive.  I was moved by the message of the film that even a small personal victory can be a monumental achievement. 
    6. Toy Story 3

    It is possible this movie deserves to be even higher on this list.  It is a wonderful, satisfying, finely-crafted piece of entertainment - the one film on this list that could literally be recommended to anyone, young or old, without hesitation.  How Pixar manages to create something so universally appealing without being trite or unintelligent is astonishing.  That it is also so beautifully eloquent on the subject of growing up makes it an instant classic.
    7. Catfish

    I debated whether or not I'd include this movie, because the experience of seeing it for me was probably very different from most others.  I knew nothing about the movie going in, and was able to see a private screening at the studio before any of the hype had started (I dare say I contributed to the hype).  But in that context, this was one of the most powerful movies I saw all year.  Since its release there has been all sorts of information that may or may not strip the experience of some of its impact, but forgetting all of that, I found the ideas expressed, the pure emotional drama and edge-of-my-seat excitement/fear/desire to know what was going to happen next to be amazing.  It felt like a true movie of our time, dealing with technology, morality, and interpersonal relationships in a way that was impossible only 5 or 10 years ago.
    8. How to Train Your Dragon

    Had there been no Toy Story 3 this year, I suspect many more people would have been singing this film's praises.  A wonderfully heartfelt wish-fulfillment story the touches on the feeling of everyone who has ever owned a pet, and anyone who has ever dreamed of flying.  Funny, touching, sweet, and exciting, it is a fantastic film. 
    9. Kickass

    My list, my rules.  Kickass felt like a reward for being a geek.  The pot of gold at the end of a comic-book reading, video game playing, socially awkward rainbow of childhood.  Exhilarating and fun, funny and poignant, it gave me goosebumps by how personal it felt for me.
    10. Scott Pilgrim vs the World

    Along with Kickass, I think SPvtW is way ahead of its time.  A kinetic mashup of pop and video game cultures into a visually thrilling riff on the geek mindset.  It felt like something truly new and will undoubtedly become a cult hit.  I had a blast watching it, and only wish it hit me on a more emotional level.  Still, one of the most memorable movies of the year.
    There you have it.  My top 10 for 2010 in movies.  Let me know what you think and then stop by tomorrow for my list of my favorite video games of the year.

     

    Monday
    Dec272010

    Tues, December 28th: Toronto Tweetup!

    I'm doing my first ever Tweetup this week!

    If you're in or near Toronto and would like to come out and say hi, I'd love to meet you.  I'll be at the Friar & Firkin pub for a few hours, starting at 4:30pm.  Hoping to get a couple of my Canadian gaming journo pals to show up as well.  It'll be very casual, just come out for a drink and maybe meet some folks with similar interests.

    Here are the details:

    Friar & Firkin

    160 John St
    TorontoON M5V 2E5
    Neighbourhood: Queen Street West

    Tuesday, December 28th

    Starting at 4:30pm

    I'll be the freshly bearded American geek in the back trying to stay warm and look Canadian ;)

    Hope to see you there!

    Monday
    Dec202010

    A Very Special Message for the Holiday Season...

    Here is Christmas comedy sketch I did a while back with my web comedy group, Very Angry Neighbors.

    If you've never seen it before, I hope you enjoy it!  If you have, I hope it gives you a laugh all over again.

    Enjoy, and Happy Holidays!

     

    Monday
    Dec132010

    Achievement Unlocked

    Anyone who has ever worked on a play at any level knows Samuel French.  They publish plays in small, usable editions, which are nearly always the version of play you receive when hired to play a role on stage.  These tend to be the definitive working editions of shows and usually contain a bit of information on the first professional staging of the play, including original venue, cast, and crew.

    When you read enough of these editions, and you see names you recognize in roles you never knew they played, you begin to dream of seeing your own name listed for some future actor to see.

    When I originated the role of Adam Webster in The Psychic last year at The Falcon Theater in Burbank, I secretly hoped it might be published by Samuel French and my dream might come true.

    Then, yesterday this arrived, sent along by the play's fantastic writer, Sam Bobrick, and his lovely wife Julie:

     

     

    It is a beautiful, glossy edition of the play (much nicer than the usual plain blue Samuel French editions) and sure enough there I am listed in the preface.  Pretty darn cool.

     

    Another goal down... many more to go :)

    Wednesday
    Dec012010

    Forever is a Very Long Time

    In the age of the internet, nothing is forgotten.

    Working as a non-union actor in Los Angeles the first few years after college, I naturally sought out any opportunity I could to get paid for my craft (and, honestly, not much has changed.  Anyone want to hire me?).  That included taking some modeling gigs through my first commercial agent.  Most people think of modeling as Victoria's Secret and Calvin Klein - all glamor and fashion - but there is quite a bit of work out there that might not occur to you.  Every photo of hands holding a taco, or smiling kid, fresh from the dentist... well, that's a model, too.  And yes, I took a few gigs where only my hands were shown... or my back, or me so far away from camera you can't even really tell it is me at all.

    But now that I've garnered a bit of a following, my earlier work is noticed by people who recognize me.  Every ridiculous photo, or stupid commercial I did is out there on the web.  Which is fine... and often funny.  I'll admit many a TRS fan has asked me how my Roomba family is doing because of this little video:

    But sometimes I'm totally thrown by something I did long ago that surfaces in the most unexpected way.  Today, @tomtranmer on twitter sent me this link to a book on Amazon.  Yep, that's me on the cover.  I don't endorse this book or even know what is in it.  I was paid a couple hundred dollars years ago to take that picture for a completely different product, in a completely different context.  But there I am on the cover of a book.  Freakin' weird.  

    And because it was non-union, I get no extra compensation for this photo's reuse.

    So let this be a lesson to young actors and "models"... hell, even those of us who throw pictures online without regard for EULAs and ownership rights:

    Nothing goes away.