Review: How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town

The Canadian comedy How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town is a romp as funny as the title suggests. The film stars several favorite actors of mine. It’s funny and poignant at the same time. Continue reading “Review: How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town”

Review: If I Stay

If I Stay tells the story of Mia Hall (Chloë Grace Moretz), who is in a coma after a car wreck. The story unfolds in a non-linear way, with Mia wandering untethered from her body in the hospital while we watch the story of her life retold. Continue reading “Review: If I Stay”

Watch This: Trailer for How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town

I’ve been waiting months for How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town to reach the US. It’s finally here. It’s in some theaters, available on video on demand, from Amazon Video and iTunes. Written and directed by Jeremy LaLonde, the buzz on How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town has been nothing but good from day one. Continue reading “Watch This: Trailer for How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town”

Review: Ascension

Ascension, a three night event on SyFy was emphatically uneven. It was utterly boring at times, and edge-of-the-seat exciting at others. It was predictable while being unpredictable. It was disgustingly sexist but a paean to women by the end.

Major spoilers ahead!

Tricia Helfer as Viondra Denniger, the captain's wife
Tricia Helfer as Viondra Denniger, the captain’s wife

The situation was a set-up. The previews showed a space ship launched from Earth in the 1960s, with some tracking still going on back on earth.

The people on the space ship were actually lab rats in a lengthy and elaborate high tech experiment right here on earth. They thought they were in space to save the human race but they were not. Their every fight, sexual act, library check out and weight gain were monitored from mere feet outside their metal cocoon.

This Petri dish with 600 lives on board was headed by Captain Denninger (Brian Van Holt) who ran the ship, and his wife Viondra (Tricia Helfer) who ran the social life of the ship with the help of a crew of prostitutes. Everyone was striving to improve their lot in the world on board the ship, from the workers on the lower decks to the elites at the top.

Al Sapienza as Counsilman Rose
Al Sapienza as Counsilman Rose

The Captain’s opposition came from Councilman Rose (Al Sapienza) who was the smarmiest lech from the 1960s you’ve ever seen. Lord, did he need a dose of women’s liberation enlightenment.

Tricia Helfer and Jessica Sipos as Jackie
Tricia Helfer and Jessica Sipos as Jackie

Speaking of women’s liberation, the women spent most of their time nearly naked or completely naked, as you see in this photo of a massage from a semi-dressed woman. The men weren’t the only ones in sexist parts.

Okay, enough complaining about the state of women’s lib in the 1960s. There were some good parts to Ascension.

The action scenes were exciting, the special effects looked great, the ship itself was fabulous. Great sets. There was attention grabbing excitement at moments.

The characters and parts that Gil Bellows and Lauren Lee Smith played were my favorites. However, if this show makes it to series, which seems to have been the aim of this 3 part opening, these two may not even be there. Sigh.

Cliffhangers Everywhere You Look

Might as well talk about the possibility of going to series. There were many so cliffhangers at the end of the 6 hours, that SyFy must be thinking of keeping on with the show as a series. Teenager Crista (Ellie O’Brien) has some sort of powers that can transport people to other places with mental effort only. The man in charge of the experiment on Earth, Harris Enzmann (Gil Bellows), keeps saying Crista is the purpose of the whole social experiment. There is one small issue – her mental powers put everyone in danger because her brain blows up just about everything on the ship.

Samantha (the Lauren Lee Smith character) gets one of the men from the ship, Stokes (Brad Carter) off the ship and out into the wilds of 21st Century America with its seedy motels, quick stop liquor stores, and a full moon. We don’t know how he’s going to fare.

By the end of various disasters on the ship, Viondra is in charge, not her husband. If the show does become an ongoing series, I could certainly applaud the idea of a female captain.

Brandon P Bell as Aaron Gault
Brandon P Bell as Aaron Gault

A security officer who is smarter than your average cop, Aaron Gault (Brandon P Bell), is somewhere undisclosed – sent there by Crista and her superbrain.

We don’t know if Harris will still be in charge, if Crista will fly them all to Alpha Centauri on brain waves, or if Stokes will spill the story of this elaborate experiment to the world.

In short, the six hours we saw in 3 nights on SyFy were basically season 1.

Although I was a bit put off by some of the early parts of Ascension, I liked it better and better as it went along. If it does become a series, I’ll watch. Bring on season 2.

Watch This: Ascension Trailers and Features

Ascension is a 3 night special playing on SyFy starting December 15. There are previews and promos available for this interesting new science fiction tale. I thought I’d let you look at several of them.

I remember the 60s and the early space program, so the series is especially interesting to me. Talking about how to send people into space for extended periods of time and for extended travel out of the solar system was a topic of national discussion back then. Everyone was very excited by the space program, glued to the TV for the launch of every rocket. The moon landing was something the whole country watched together.

It makes total sense to me that they begin this story in the 1960s with a secret mission to send people into space.

It’s a very big cast. A few names I recognize include Andrea Roth, Gil Bellows, Lauren Lee Smith, Tricia Helfer, Brad Carter, and Tiffany Lonsdale.

The embed code from SyFy to bring you these videos is a bit of a problem. They are not a good size to view in context. I urge you to expand each one to full screen to watch it.

This one is some background on what the story is about and the themes involved.

The official trailer was available on YouTube, so should be a better viewing size for you.

If you are interested in this series and watch it, I’d love to hear your reactions to it.

Watch This: Trailer for Cinemanovels

Cinemanovels is a Canadian film starring Lauren Lee Smith. Also in the film are Jennifer Beals, Ben Cotton, Kett Turton, and Katharine Isabelle.

The film was written and directed by Terry Miles, who also wrote and directed A Night for Dying Tigers and the short They Wore Pink, which you can watch here. Lauren Lee Smith worked on both these projects, so this is the 3rd time together for Miles and Smith. Jennifer Beals was in A Night for Dying Tigers. Beals and Smith also worked together in The L Word.

I contributed to the Kickstarter campaign for the film. A perk was getting the chance to actually watch the film. I hope you can find a way to see it as well.

This film belongs completely to Lauren Lee Smith as Grace. It’s the inner journey and inner work of a daughter coming to grips with her relationship with her dead father. After his death, she agrees to help with a memorial film retrospective of his life and work as a filmmaker.

There are people around Grace – husband, friends, the man who helps her edit and create the retrospective, her father’s former lover. Her interactions with these people help her process and understand what she’s learning about her father from looking at the films she avoided for most of her life.

It’s very much the style of Terry Miles to show, not tell. In this film, he shows you Grace doing things, thinking about things, reacting to what she learns, struggling with what she learns. There’s never any telling, explaining, or interpretation. Grace is living this chapter in her life in her own way and we see it unfold. We are left to decipher the reasons, the motivations, and the understanding of Grace in our own terms.

The film is slowly making its way into American Theaters. I’m hoping it will be released to streaming services like Amazon Prime and Netflix. Soon. You can preorder a copy of Cinemanovels right now on Amazon.

Some Terry Miles films are available for purchase at cinemanovel.com.

Watch This Film: They Wore Pink

Here’s a Friday treat to start your weekend off right. Watch an entire short film.

The short film They Wore Pink is from Canadian writer and director Terry Miles. He’s the writer/director responsible for A Night for Dying Tigers and Cinemanovels.

The two stars of this short film were also in Miles’ other films: Lauren Lee Smith and Tygh Runyan.

I love the slow way Terry Miles tells a story. Even in a nine minute movie, he manages to hold on to things and unpeel them in unique ways.

If you want to see how masterful Miles is at writing, directing and even editing be sure to watch A Night for Dying Tigers. It’s beautifully told – complicated, intricate, and detailed – and the editing choices in it are something I’ve never seen anywhere else.

This short film is a microcosm of his talents.

Here is the complete film.

On Twitter, Terry Miles is @tkmiles, Lauren Lee Smith is @L_L_S and Tygh Runyan is @RunyanTygh.

Vimeo Tries Out a New Video On Demand Idea

Vimeo is moving into a new area of video on demand that may change the way films are released. If you are a member of Vimeo PRO ($199 a year) you can see certain films released there long before they are in wide release.

In VOD for Everyone? Vimeo’s Blake Whitman Tells Us About Opening Up Self-Distribution With Vimeo On Demand, Blake Whitman, Vimeo’s VP of Creative Development, is quoted as saying,

I think it’s a natural progression — we’ve been a platform for video creators to share and distribute their work. Distribution has different meanings for different people — and for filmmakers that means actually selling and seeing revenue for work that they’re making. Vimeo on Demand, that’s the next step of self-distribution. We make tools for individual creators — how can we help them make money for what they do? We think we’re in a great place now with the platform we’ve created and the audience that we built to really take a step into that arena and hopefully help filmmakers all over the world.

That was where Vimeo started with the VOD idea back in March. This is still true with Vimeo. Anyone can distribute a film there.

Cinemanovels poster

Vimeo has taken its business model to a new level by actively seeking films to add to its video on demand library.

An independent film I supported on Kickstarter and am interested in seeing is Cinemanovels, directed by Terry Miles and starring Lauren Lee Smith and Jennifer Beals. Recently it was announced that Cinemanovels and 9 other films from The Toronto International Film Festival will premier on Vimeo VOD.

According to Vimeo Offers TIFF World Premieres $10,000 Advance for Digital Rights, this is a boost to the indie filmmaker as well as an opportunity for the eager viewer to get in on a film before it makes it to a general release. Buying first rights to films is a new step since the announcement in March that filmmakers could put their work on Vimeo VOD.

At $199 a year, Vimeo PRO isn’t going to compete with YouTube, but it certainly can be competition for Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime. This new business model from Vimeo really opens things up for independent filmmakers by giving them a distribution channel that didn’t exist before.

The L Word vs. The Fosters: In the Hospital

2006. Seven years ago. That’s when season 3 of The L Word was filmed. Season 3 is when Dana (Erin Daniels) dies of breast cancer.

I cannot find a video with the particular scenes I want from The L Word in it, so I’ll try to paint the scene with words.

When Dana was admitted to the hospital, the only people the hospital officials would talk to were her parents (Susan Hogan and Michael Hogan). As for Dana’s current partner Lara (Lauren Lee Smith) and her ex-partner and friend Alice (Leisha Hailey) – they weren’t given any news and weren’t allowed to visit Dana. All this is spite of the fact that her friends brought Dana to the hospital and had to call her parents themselves to notify them that Dana was sick. When Dana’s parents arrived, they told both Lara and Alice to go home.

The unfairness being denied access to loved ones in the hospital was painted loud and clear in The L Word. I think the issue was one of the reasons the series creators decided to do a breast cancer story. Access to loved ones who are same sex partners during health crises has been a rallying cry in the last few years in the struggle to legalize same-sex marriage. It’s been heard.

Flash forward to 2013 and the show The Fosters. Stef (Terri Polo) gets shot. Her partner Lena (Sherri Saum) and their 5 kids are all at the hospital. So is Stef’s ex-husband (Danny Nucci).

Look what happens at about the 3:36 mark after Lena tells the ER doctor (Samantha Sloyan) that she’s Stef’s domestic partner.

Seven years between these two scenes.

We live in a different world today, do we not? Visibility on television plays a part in changing attitudes. Pop culture does matter.

Images: ABC Family

The L Word Opening Credits (Season One)

Everyone fast forwarded through the credits of The L Word because they didn’t like the theme song.

Big mistake.

You can learn everything you need to know about all 6 seasons, all 70 episodes, just by watching the opening credits. I’ve had it in my head for years that it would be fun to do recaps of The L Word using only what you see in the credits. Let the fun begin. Continue reading “The L Word Opening Credits (Season One)”