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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Randomness of Permanence


There are very few things in this world that are permanent. We certainly are not, words can be remembered but are oft forgotten. Even those we've remembered or reinterpreted over thousands of years. 

Our lives are short, our feats are few and those that are great remain for a short while. However, our attention spans are fleeting as are our convictions. 

While all of this sounds fatalist, conclusive to a point of "what is, what will be and who cares?" These statements are more of a warning about who we are and what goes on around us. (tl;dr***)

This past week has been a very strange one indeed. Both great and awful. I and my variably connected circle of friends, throughout the East coast, lost people who were close to us. I lost a very good friend in Daniel Taraschke, "Danny T" to most, or "Big Danny T" among those in the convention circuit. To me he was just "Dan" or the "Big guy." Many of those same friends also lost another person. Someone I did not know well whose name escapes me. My good friend Diane Spyridon lost her wonderful father. My good friend and colleague Albert Basulto lost a friend, similarly to how Dan passed, heart failure. Robert Aldrich said it best in the wake of these losses.
"I say with no sarcasm, Death has been busy this weekend. Tragedy abounds."
I just finished my weekly meeting with Robert about our projects, our books, and the next steps for our publishing company; which is working hard to make a better name for itself. After speaking with him, I have to consider the good things that have also occurred this week. Robert's father who was, earlier this year, (unjustly) incarcerated for a long period of time is home as of this week. Bringing cause to celebrate. I won a literary award for my book. I took home another service award for guest speaking at an SFWA meeting. Sabrina appeared on Deco Drive on WSVN 7 (again!) and she killed it! She was awesome! My kids came home with straight A's and my daughter is among the highest in readership in the country. She just passed her 200th book since last January and is reading 2+ years ahead of her grade. Forget the curriculum she's reading normal novels now. If she isn't doing homework or playing with her sister or little friends at a park, she's reading a new book. She even got an autographed copy of Towering from Alex Flinn this past weekend at my SFWA meeting. I was offered producing and editing positions at other studios for in-house production work, and one of the pilot television series I'm working on just went live into its crowd funding campaign. There is a lot to celebrate, but it's hard to do when you've lost people or when tragic events take hold of your time.

We can dwell on loss or we can celebrate life and do with it what we can. All of us at one point or another have events. Events we can perceive as earth shattering, failures, struggles, losses; important enough to allocate (waste) much of our precious time towards. Ridiculously so. 

My brother got into a car accident today. He irresponsibly took an improper left turn and ended up getting struck by an oncoming vehicle. Destroying most of his car (his first, a pretty convertible) that he's had for roughly a month and could have been far more devastated, had the event transpired differently. Thankfully, he walked away unscathed. Not even a scratch from what I am led to understand from my father-in-law.

I have another good friend getting chemotherapy this very moment in the hospital. Going through Cancer for the second time. But after visiting him (after writing this piece), he's in excellent spirits and looking healthier. 

I can go on, it can almost feel like a horror show but in the end - not the finality of the end, but the figure of speech - we can understand that living in the now and taking heed of who we are is tantamount to what we have and what we want. 

A wonderful Philosophy Professor once tried to prove a point about life by asking his students if a large jar, full of golf balls was full...The students all agreed it was. As all the balls reached the top of the jar. 

The Professor then poured into the jar small beads, pebble-like stones, which quickly filled up the small spaces between the golf balls as he slowly shook and tapped the jar while pouring them in. 

He again asked his students if the jar was then full, much to their immediate agreement that it was. He then filled the jar with sand. Which filled up the far smaller spaces between the beads and the golf balls. Again repeating his question, and again gaining the same unanimous agreement. 

Finally, the professor filled the jar with a pint of beer, that filled up the rest of the spaces. The students realizing now that this was indeed a full jar started to understand what the professor was trying to say and how this jar was like their lives. 

The Golf Balls were representative of their family, their children, their health, friends and the things they loved in life most (their passions)...

If someone lost everything in their jar, except the golf balls, that life would still be full of wonderful things and they would be alright.

The beads were other important things of note in life. Ones home, job, major investments like a car(s).

The sand represented most everything else. But if you were to have filled this real jar with your proverbial "everything else" first, before the golf balls or the beads, you would be bereft of the most important things in life because there would be no room for anything else. If you sweat the small stuff you'll never have room or time for the bigger more necessary things in your life.

The Beer, the professor explained, no matter how full your life is, you'll always have time for a beer with a friend. 

I was very fortunate to have that beer with my friend Dan on my birthday. We also had a freshly hand rolled cigar to boot. I don't know what many of you are going through. I can't possibly know or understand as those feelings and emotions are usually personal and unshared. Possibly one of the reasons they burst out much harder for some. Because they're hidden deep inside. 

For me the solution to despair is a simple one if not an odd analogy. I'm a shark...I move forward or I die. I think many of us are more like sharks than we realize. When something stunts our forward progress we get stuck. Some of us may even die or suffer like we're dying, because we don't know what to do. I eat or kill what's stunting my progress and keep moving forward, in rare occassions if I see the problem coming I swim around it, avoiding it...I know, sounds harsh, but if you know me, even in small doses, you'd understand. For me this means nothing ever holds me back and regardless of failure or great loss, I pull myself together and keep going forward.


Take inventory of your life and of the wonderful things around us. Ignore all of those things, if not people, who belch aggressively toward you negative situations, emanating foulness into your life. 

The grandest of all fatalistic concepts is that we don't matter, we're specks of dust on a speck of dust surrounded by specks of dust swirling amid trillions of specks. This swirl (itself) a speck amid trillions more just like it. 

Yet I like to say just because this is the harsh reality of what we are doesn't mean we don't matter to each other or can share happiness with one another. 

I don't know why I felt compelled to write this blog post tonight. But I think there are many people out there who I call friend, family, or perhaps even acquaintance, that needed some words of honest encouragement from multiple points of view. Perhaps it was more therapeutic for myself than it was for anyone else and that's fine by me. Because the randomness of permanence needed to be talked about tonight, even if it was only a conversation with myself. 

 ***tl;dr, The 'too long; didn't read' version | Hug your friends! Call those you don't get to see often and tell them what they mean to you. Hug your family. Enjoy your time with those around you. Take pleasure in the little things you do in life that make you smile. Fill your jar with amazing pebbles and sand to complete the spaces between your golf balls...Drown it in Beer! Keep all of the other junk out of your jar.


~RIP Dan

EFC

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Z Nation, SYFY's New Zombie Series with Longtime Production Partner The Asylum


I'm not really sure what to make of SYFY channels jump into the Zombie TV series business with their usually garbage production companion The Asylum and their new series Z Nation -- Virtually every cell in my body is in revolt as I watch this for the first time, a pilot titled "Puppies and Kittens" preceding tomorrows episode which steals a little of its naming convention from Battlestar Galactica's mock expletives "Fracking Zombies".

There are some interesting casting choices for various roles that caused me (at first) to be extremely interested, specifically Harold Perrineau, whose known for his very distinct style on screen, mainly his most popular role in Oz as Augustus Hill. Perrineau isn't new to this genre, if you like arguing that 28 Weeks Later was a Zombie film (which I tend not to do) but in terms of similarity this isn't entirely new to him. 

After viewing the first episode I have extremely mixed feelings. I admit I may have a large bias against The Asylum as a production house that delivers consistently horrific films that are usually copies of popular media. Most of the time what is produced is named extremely close to the same media they are copying for the purposes of being placed on the shelf next to said films. So while I have a natural tendency to want to hate the bulk of what they produce (along with their dirty tactics), I do give them credit and respect for the ridiculous level of output they have as a company. But that's usually where my respect ends.



All that said, I am a huge fan of Zombie films and of course of The Walking Dead. While I doubt this will ever reach the same quality or attention to detail. So far it isn't the usual Asylum production. While I can't say it is 'Good' I'm having a hard time 'completely' disliking this series. 

Z Nation is like many a Zombie story. A virus outbreak started an apocalypse, called an extinction event in the pilot. a couple of years later there are very few pockets of people remaining. There's a small military outpost that has some experimental serum and in the course of the opening sequences there are doctors testing it on prisoners. As they get overrun, one prisoner remains who gets a dose and is seemingly lost to the horde that attacks and starts biting chunks out of him. Somehow, of course, after the opening credits, he is revealed surviving multiple bites and may be humanities last hope for a cure. 

The biggest problems here are the general awkwardly placed lines attempting at epic heroism or badassdom, I'll let people decide if either of those hold true. I'm also not completely impressed with the needless escalation of shock and awe style tactics in the horror and gore. It almost feels trendy instead of appropriate or connected with the continuity. 

The first episode also seemingly removes the best actor on the project, Harold Perrineau late in the pilot by killing him off in the most idiotic and unceremonious manner possible. 

Another actor I was having trouble watching on the screen was DJ Qualls, named Citizen Z in the show. He's a communications soldier left behind in another military base as soldiers were evacuating. A turn of events that seemed to be in his favor as he watched his evac flight leave him behind and subsequently crash and burn. He now remains at the coms communicating over the radio waves like a DJ to the Apocalypse at what seems to be a fully contained military bunker of sorts. Which makes me wonder why they were abandoning the location in the first place. 

While there is some overall entertainment quality to this show I think this will be for audiences that understand it can't really be taken seriously. The drama is underlined with completely underwhelming characters played by actors who somehow are trying really hard to summon some gravitas and I'm not sure if i'm supposed to laugh at how badly they're doing it...it is Asylum...or if I'm supposed to be moved by the poorly executed script. 

Perhaps because I love the Zombie genre I gave it a watch, expecting not to gain much. But this is truly a series for people who don't care or put too much stock in the quality of what they watch. In that respect I guess it can find an audience. 



SYFY is putting out a documentary style series called "Town of the Living Dead" and I am looking forward to watching that instead. I'll still be objective and give a few more episodes of Z Nation a try before completely deciding if it's worth the time. Especially with all of the high quality media available today. 

Whatever your thoughts on this series, comment, share, tweet, pin and hit me up on social media. 


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Sleepy Hollow, First Impressions



I was finally able to get a chance to watch Sleepy Hollow. I'll admit at first I thought it was stupid, weakly putting together awkward story components. Not to mention killing off Clancy Brown, whom I was happy to see on the screen. Then I was again slightly intrigued with the added twist of the biblical connections the series was trying to make and thought it might have something to offer me (after all). Then the headless horsemen stood up in a room armed to the teeth with automatic weapons, a shotgun, and assorted handguns, as opposed to dawning his usual Ax...at which point I thought, this is garbage. I'm done.

I finished watching the first episode and caught a bit more of the meta story aspect with the biblical scenario the series will be building up toward. I laughed out loud hearing Ichabod's using a reference from revelation about how supposedly he and the other main character in the series will be waging war against evil for seven years. Which I thought was wishful thinking. No way this series would last seven seasons on the air.

The cops are written as absolutely idiotic, trigger happy and are completely inconsistent in terms of how they behave. Orlando Jones who I love as an actor slightly feels like the cliche loud and pissed off black captain archetype we've seen before; something spoofed beautifully in Last Action Hero if you don't understand what I mean. But Jones still delivers his character well, despite all of the above. However, there seems to be a slight amount of foreshadowing early on in his character which didn't seem deliberate by the production but could have been intended in the actors performance. It's only curious and noteworthy because I'm not sure if the series wants me to hate his character or be lukewarm towards him.

I'll keep watching to see if the show actually develops into something of note. The evil lurking in the shadows and the revelation aspect of the show is what is intriguing to me. For the most part I'm not sure I will truly enjoy this series as it's a complete departure of what these characters are supposed to be and in some invariant way my mind continues to tell me I'm watching a poorly revived version of the Warlock film in a televised format utilizing a much more popular story concept like Sleepy Hollow, which was a commercially successful film. It's all too formulaic in a way that is trying to do something unique and isn't really feeling unique at all. It feels oddly clumped together. I also have to wonder if it's a similar theft of concept from Elementary, in a weird I'm-possibly-reaching-sort-of-way. 

All in all, I'm not impressed. I'm curious.

Let's see how it turns out.


Monday, June 30, 2014

Witches of East End



Normally I don't watch shows like Witches of East End but for some strange reason this series, that is generally designed with specific formulaic angst for woman over the age of 18, seems to be holding my interest. Perhaps it's because intellectually I think that this show is not really that good and I'm curious none-the-less to see how it holds an audience. Regardless of its intended influence, it is supernatural fantasy, which I dig. In terms of the angst in the series, it's far better than anything we saw in Twilight

Considering that the statement I made above sounds like an indictment on the audience that may love this show, it is not. It's more an accusation of my own intellectual breakdowns of a series. Either way, it has me among its audience members now and I'm extremely curious to dissect how a show like this works for the larger female community involved. 

Aside from the various other ridiculously bad attempts at Supernatural fantasy in circulation today, I'd say this one is much closer to getting it right, than say Teen Wolf, which causes my insides to boil when I watch any portion of that show, it's just terrible and continues to insult the great film it originally was trying to re-imagine or not, as the case may be. 

While I wouldn't put it soundly in the running with a series that has more serious tones and a higher degree of horror like Salem or American Horror Story: Coven; I would say that it has a larger focus on its material than Hemlock Grove which was confused as to what it wanted to do. Something that Penny Dreadful seemingly aspired to and executed with some hesitation in its own season (which ended last night). I perhaps maintain that this shows female audience is its general focus based on the historical audience that Lifetime tends to maintain.

I will admit as a guy seeing these beautiful woman on a screen is not something unwelcome, some of the more tedious issues they deal with are. Perhaps because of the cast in general it's keeping me coming back, especially for some of the more quirkier moments. I just hope that the show grows into its scenario more and ultimately does not become an aborted clone of Charmed. Charmed was a commercially viable and critically celebrated series. I imagine to some degree some of the formula that made that series work is going to be employed here, as is evident in its earliest episodes. But I would like to see this series maintain its own identity and keep itself unique. 

I'd suggest giving it a look if you like Supernatural Fantasy.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

From Dusk Till Dawn, The Series



From Dusk Till Dawn The Series | Intrigued me early on, hooked me to a few characters, like Zane Holts' version of Ritchie Gecko and of course Don Johnson's Earl Mcgraw. However, a good portion of the story has become so ridiculous I wonder if Rodriguez truly wrote this recently and not when he was five years old. The dialogue is so atrocious I am starting to wonder if El Rey Network is using subliminal messaging to keep me coming back. Don't get me wrong, the concept and idea for this series is there and is extremely interesting; however has come together in a fashion that is absolutely childish and immature. 



I too wanted a more elaborate explanation of the Aztec Ziggurat, which kept irking Rodriguez to create this series. It was one of the coolest surprises at the end of the 1996 film. However, horrific performances by Jake Busey (among others); D.J. Cotrona unable to add a fresh approach to his role (instead) poorly attempting to channel a George Clooney impersonation has nearly started to upset my stomach. At this point, if the show is still maintaining an audience, Rodriguez should start merchandising D.J. Cotrona bobble-heads from the oft misinterpreted, overacted and poorly copied Clooney mannerisms.

The series does have sparks of imaginative and creative freshness but is peppered with stupid moments that burn away any good creativity; like reprising the stupid penis gun (Cock Cannon) that seems to appear in all of Rodriguez' films (which is idiotic and no one really cares). Seeing Jake Busey in a character that was interesting (originally) to watch Tom Savini play, now watching Busey thrusting that stupid gun, is just painful.



The vampire concept...The weird (yet awesome) and interesting version created in the film has pretty much been ignored and thrown away here in the series. These can walk in the sunlight and are not really vampires anymore, they're Were-Cobras...The term vampire shouldn't apply anymore...Some of the episode prologues are great and attempt to give interesting background on these "vampires" but what comes after is a mish-mash of failing upward story telling that is a 'greatness-steak' wrapped in 'putrefying bacon' - You may think its great at first...but then you start taking bites.

I had high hopes for this series. I normally love Rodriguez' work and I love the original film. I'm at a total loss for what is being delivered to the small screen. I can easily guess because El Rey is his network, he can do whatever he wants and continue to make these episodes until the inevitable, realizing the series needs to go, an overhaul or simply runs out of money. I like old school flicks and El Rey has a ton of them to boot, for this general reason I like the network. It's an interesting collection of old school, cult classics, Kung Fu movies and guilty pleasure films for guys (Did I just describe Netflix?) This series is Rodriguez' flag ship and perhaps he needs to understand that he is too close to the series. If he can make it out of this season without to much flack I'd suggest (quite possibly many of you the same) bringing on new writers that can carry the show into new territory and better flesh out and expand existing characters. Rodriguez may need to step out of the writers chair and remain comfortably in the Directors seat while wearing a producers hat, writing notes on a network executives notepad.



I'm still quite curious about other characters, the awkward direction this whole series is taking, making the ranger some sort of anti-were-cobra savior (i'm not calling them vampires anymore...) While I may still watch the series to its first seasons completion, i'm not expecting any real vindicating episodes or scenes to cause me to rethink my position. I'm simply a purist that prefers a complete view. If this past episode is any indication of what is to come, I weep for Rodriguez' bygone creative ability and wonder where the hell it went. A sword fighting scene against a fireman's axe...really? Is this what it boils down to? I imagine El Rey Network has marketing people that do research and demographics. Somewhere in those offices someone said in cliche fashion, in some random conference room with awkward hopeful smiles, praying whoever is sitting in the bosses chair likes their idea - "We'll use swords! We haven't used them at all for this entire season...but we will now! We'll introduce Carlos as a Conquistador and showcase his sword in that shot." BAM! The sword is in the episode, add an old school stand off with really bad stage combat training and there you have it...

Am I close? Someone (if not many) agreed that this scene was going to be a great one, or would set the stage...Just as much as someone agreed that the cock cannon + Jake Busey thrusts was cool...

Perhaps there are people (I imagine there would) that love this series as it is and to each his own. I'm genuinely hoping there might be some semblance of hope for the show. Because I do like Rodriguez and I want him to succeed, so he can get back to making really good movies.




Monday, April 14, 2014

The Raid 2: Berandal - Film Review


The Raid 2: Berandal

General Information

Released: March 28th (Limited Releases), April 11th (Wide Release US)
Box Office
MetaCritic: 71 Critics 8.9 Audience
Rotten Tomatoes: 79% Critics 94% Audience
IMDB
Official Website

Trailer



Editorial Bias

I absolutely loved The Raid: Redemption. It was a breath of fresh air with happy sprays of blood spatter with every inhalation. It was a marvelous display of what a martial arts film can be when intermixed with some solid crime drama within a bullet riddled canvas.

I was hoping for a sequel film release and its arrival couldn't have come soon enough. I loved TRR so much I would constantly show it to friends and have discussions among my contemporaries comparing it to the recent Judge Dredd entry. Because, in the end, both films were essentially the same, a 'raiding' of a large building to oust the existing drug-lord entrenched at its top floor. The difference is that TRR triumphantly did what the other tried desperately to do with a much larger budget. So with this in mind I had enormous expectations of what a second film could be and wondered how and if it could outdo its predecessor.

Even knowing that originally this film was intended to be released prior to The Raid, which originally was named Inside. I am extremely curious how this film was going to be adapted as a sequel and how it would incorporate Rama's character.

The Good 

Iko Uwais is again a charming and completely relatable young man within a world of horrendously disturbed criminal elements. A one-man-army that slowly begins to regret and realize that he is far deeper than he could have ever imagined; the only way to 'come up for air' is to go deeper and hope that he will make it out to the other side alive. This is similar to the feeling you get when watching this film. You almost forget to breathe. Because there is so much going on, from various characters that are actually being well fleshed out to a few familiar faces that return from the original film. All colliding in a wondrous ballet of appendages that bring you back to the original films remark about one of the characters "a fury of foot and fist."

The Bad

This is a nitpick, but necessary to state; one of the showcased characters in the film is Koso (Prakoso) which is played by Iko Uwais and Garreth Evans fellow friend in film and martial arts, Yayan Ruhian. A nitpick (indeed) because he was eviscerated in the first film as its resident ultimate henchman that appeared then to be unstoppable and appears now just as slightly unstoppable. Is this a complacency on the director that these Asians may relatively look alike and expected no one to notice? I'm not going to shake a race card but its a bit insulting. Otherwise its simply tossing in a great actor that in retrospect should not have been killed and was used to fill another role? High speculation at best.

Here Koso is an interesting character in a near cameo-like role but is utilized with a few distinct plot purposes that seemed a bit awkwardly forced. Of course his action choreography is highlighted in a few scenes with wonderful Silat flair, however the flow of the character was slightly irritating. You want to like Koso because of the tidbits of who he is that are demonstrated. However, you don't get enough time with him to really understand his plight and allow the film to flow or excuse his actions. This digression ended up sacrificing the trajectory of the film and caused the experience to shift in its plight from the protagonist, Rama/Yuda to this completely new character Koso - to only then throw him away for a plot twist. A midst the suspension of disbelief breaking as you ask yourself "didn't he die in the first movie?" Even if you do realize right away its a completely different character, it's an odd thing to have cast him in this sequel. Even if we love his scenes with his extremely vicious and immediate uses of force. 

The Ugly

There are a few scenes where you have to wonder how it is possible for some of the fighting to continue based on a few moments that funnel you into reality unwittingly. I'm not sure if those moments were intended to do this, but they did so exceptionally well. In doing so it throws the air of imagination out of the window and forces you to deal with the reality of what is happening. Like getting hit with a baseball bat in the head...

Silat is a very brutal and direct martial art used gorgeously in all of the Merantau films and while we obviously know our hero is going to be victorious (as we generally hope) sometimes you have to wonder how much can a man really take? Especially if you compare some of the scenes. One example where Rama first encounters Uco and Bejo's men and fights their prime henchman. He loses relatively quick after being struck a few times and is seemingly knocked unconscious. However, later in the film after dealing with many extremely tiring skirmishes, back-to-back, his fight against the same character seemingly runs for a great period of time on top of extreme wounds and fatigue being suffered. I love watching a character have to dig deep...I love it! But there are limits to what I will accept on the screen as being honest and realistic. 

The Great

The murderous intent is palpable and the beautiful carnage of the choreography is effortlessly lyrical. While there are instances of steady-cam use in a manner that is almost distracting. It is obvious the bulk of every principle in the film did most (if not all) of their own stunts, allowing for a seamless set of camera angles to display the sweet bone-destroying opera that is Silat to unfold on the screen naturally and without the need for movie magic to trick you into thinking you just saw some martial arts action. 

The singularly disturbing melee that was the prison riot scene was a joyous feast for the eyes for anyone who enjoys watching martial art films. Not because of wire-fu, or extremely graceful moments of acrobatic prowess. But for the sheer level of horrifying acts of inhumanity. A riot in the true sense of the word. It is nearly chaos personified in a few moments that slowly became difficult to determine who is who in terms of friend or foe; which left me with the distinct feeling in my mind that there is no such concept and may be a subtext in the story. 

...And Amazing?

This film doesn't simply start breaking bones in assembly line fashion or cast aside any dwindled hope for a story. Thankfully not. It has an interesting story of intrigue and heart at its core. A very solid cast of characters with great points of dialogue. The film even brings on an amazing character actor, Epy Kusnandar, who can create an atmosphere of dread simply with his eyes and also played an extremely chilling role simply titled 'Father' in  the 'Safe Haven' chapter of VHS 2; which is quite possibly the best chapter of the film and mostly because of his presence. 

When you look at films that have the undercover concept, you get characters bogged down in multiple complacency's of right and wrong that force scenarios in the plot. This film displays with extreme ferocity a man apart from the system he is working to protect. The lines between right and wrong are not very existent. If they are I didn't notice them. It makes our hero, Rama, a very different kind of character. 

Overall Verdict

As a general action film and as a martial arts film it is a must see movie that will satisfy the most jaded of martial art film enthusiasts. This one can almost gain a subcategory in torture-porn for the ridiculous level of horrifying things that are done to the enemy mid-fight. As a martial arts film it gorgeously displays various techniques in Silat that have similarities in Wing Chun and Muay Thai. Two styles many westerners are somewhat used to seeing on the big screen and can appreciate. Whether they know its Silat or not, the vicious and brutal fighting techniques will amaze. This movie is not for the faint of heart or for people that do not like violence on a level so grandiose that it hails back to the bullet-hell films Chow Yun-Fat starred in during the 80's and 90's; like Hard Boiled and  A Better Tomorrow. There is only one other star in Asian cinema currently that in my opinion matches the level of intensity of Iko Uwais and that's Tony Jaa. So if you love martial art movies, this is the only real film available to watch for the time being. 

4.5 out 5 Martial Art Movie Geeks

4_5_geeks
Have you seen The Raid 2: Berandal? Did this review help you? Share, comment, tweet, pin, form some words...I know you can. Follow and join the conversation or spark one up @EmanuelFCamacho

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Meanwhile...

Changes that have occurred in my life since the last time I wrote into this blog are numerous and varied in scale.

Most recently I was inducted into the South Florida Writers Association and voted into their Board of Directors. Something I am exceptionally honored to be a part of, including taking on the Director of Publications position and editing the organizations Author's Voice. I'll be @ PhilanthroFest 2014 with Jonathan Rose, SFWA's Director of Community Affairs representing the organization and hope I can see a lot of Miamians there.

I recently became a part of the Florida Writers Association and the Miami Film Society. To say that I am keeping myself busy in my chosen professions would almost be an understatement. Although I won't be official with MFS until later this month as a listed Producer on their site. I started doing Indie outreach with UofM's Italian Film Festival with my old high school pal, Manny Rossi, who is a tenured professor at UofM and runs the festival events #UMIFF. Because of all this extra involvement in the community I got a chance to meet Billy Corben from Rakontur, the man behind the company behind the amazing documentary Cocaine Cowboys, which just got reloaded and released here in Miami.


So far I've been back in Miami and working as an Associate Producer for the last few months and oddly enough while here I'm experiencing a bit of a language barrier with the level and intricacy of my Spanish speaking and writing. Despite this awkward difficulty with one of my first languages I am doing well, even being groomed for a higher production position that I will be taking-on later in the year. 


On set @ El Gordo Y La Flaca
My first book, I Think? No, I'm Sure...God Hates Me is out on the market and I couldn't be happier and more proud. Yet I continue to write and work on other books. My publishing company also put out two other novels, Rhest for the Wicked, by Robert V. Aldrich and The Pack, by Dan Coglan. 

Everything has not always been sunny as bumps on the road over the last year sometimes felt like minor drops off a cliff. However, enduring failures and adapting to change has always been one of my strongest suits. I seem to amaze people that constantly ask something to affect of "How do you brush yourself off and carry on?" believing that failures can't be corrected. My simplest answer, "I don't like the floor." Whether I fall flat on my face, ass-backwards or just drop to a knee I always get up and move on. What else would I do? I'm not 'Floor-Spec' (Only World of Wacraft players will understand that last reference).

I meet a lot of folks and constantly wonder why there is so much fatalism, pessimism and general lack of motivation among them, my peers, elders and the incoming generations behind me. It irritates me that working hard, making mistakes, learning and moving on seems to be too much for most people to do; let alone comprehend. People expect a degree is their hall pass into life and things are either handed to them from there on or not. I don't get it...

I digress...

Of the last few films I've seen I wrote an In-Depth piece, as usual, on the Comic Book Movie entry for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which is currently featured on the CBM website. If you've yet to see this amazing film you are missing out on a treat. Check out the review if you need some convincing. For UMIFF I was able to marvel at the beautifully written Io Sono Li by Andrea Segre, which was about two separate immigrants living in Italy. One of which was Chinese the other from the country formerly known as Yugoslavia and the various circumstances that surrounded their simple lives. From the turmoils of prejudice and ignorance to simple sacrifices and love affairs that never were. "ships passing in the night" is the phrase that comes to mind which alter each others courses ever so slightly and ever so profoundly.

Rakontur's Cocaine Cowboy's Reloaded was as amazing as the original, and contained over an hour of additional never-before-seen material. I was able to have a simple conversation with one of the main subjects from their documentary, Mickey Munday, who at one time smuggled well over 56 tons of cocaine into Miami within a year. The stories and ramifications of Miami growing into the metropolis it is from the billions of dollars that flooded the city from this drug money was amazingly staggering to witness come to life in the context of the documentary.

Going back to my review of Winter Soldier, I had noticed that while we (CBM) had a very large and healthy chunk of comic book reviews alongside the websites eponymous pieces; it (the website) lacked Indie Comic reviews. So I sought out to correct that void. Luckily and recently I got to meet quite a few Indie artists and writers at a small but amazing courtyard-side comic-con piggy-backing the release of the Winter Soldier film at a theater location in Miami. There I was granted an enormous trove of amazing and obscure comics by their creators that blew me away. The first of those reviews was Creature Entertainments Ravenous by Juan Navarro and John Ulloa. I also put up another review this week for Cosmic Times' release of Decisions #1 and recently was given access to Decisions #2 and #3 for further review. I'm currently reading through Creature Entertainments Zombie Years and a separate book titled The Thirty-Six, a graphic novel by Kristopher White. I also picked up a campy title named Old Cuban Samurai which tickled my curiosity.


Other news that isn't so new but because I lazily ignored this blog for a small tick of time I will mention it. One of the films I was able to work on as an Executive Producer, The Fellows Hip: Rise of the Gamers was picked up by a great distributor, Phase 4, and released on iTunes, Netflix, Best Buy and Wal-Mart. Basically anywhere you can get DVD's and Blu-Rays. The film was released under a new name, Rise of the Fellowship. I still love seeing peoples faces light up at this wonderful family film. So I hope you get a chance to see it if you haven't seen it pop up on your Netflix or iTunes advertised films. Support #IndieFilms

My kids are growing up fast, my wife digs her toes into my legs as I type this and I continue to make the cheesy joke "I am not a writer, I 'write' on a computer, therefore I am a 'typist'!" and still get a few laughs among my peers. Until next blog post, I'll keep my adventure going and for now I leave you with the view I usually have every morning being back in Sunny #Miami




EFC