Tuesday, March 31, 2009

This Week In Movies

I saw Adventureland last weekend at an early screening. It didn't thrill me. The trailer was fantastic, and the movie failed to live up to it, probably because they squeezed into it every scene with Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig there was. It also set the story up to be something that it wasn't. "It was the worst job they ever imagined... and the best time of their lives," goes the tagline. Actually, their summer was quite depressing.

In the movie, there's a character named Frigo who punches people in the nuts. I spent the whole movie and the subsequent days trying to figure out where I had seen him. I'll go ahead and solve the mystery for you. It's the kid from the AT&T rollover commercials.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Westwood Medical - A Year in Posters

The Westwood Medical building sits on the corner of Wilshire and Gayley at the end or the beginning of a long stretch of high-rise office and apartment buildings that run along Wilshire until they give way to the two-storey hedges that guard the Los Angeles Country Club. The face of this building is prime real estate and apparently owned by Disney.

When I first came to L.A. 10 months ago I found on its fa├žade a giant poster for the movie Underdog. Underdog was released on August 3, 2007. For that caliber of movie, I’d say the advertisement was posted between four and six weeks before it was released, meaning that the poster hung on the side of Westwood Medical for nearly a year (circa mid-June until the end of May).

As if to quell my indignation at such a waste of good space, a Wall-E poster swooped in to replace Underdog before my first weekend here had passed. They couldn’t have done better. Wall-E is not even my favorite Pixar movie, but it’s up there, and it had been a great source of motivation and cure for writer’s block throughout my last semester at Oklahoma. Though the dream has faded and transformed over the last year, a large block of my life was spent dreaming of one day working for Pixar. That first Wall-E trailer began with Andrew Stanton narrating the events of a meeting between founding fathers, wherein they discussed the future of the studio and brainstormed the ideas that would become a string of the best movies of the last decade and a half. This, as much as the beautiful and intriguing Wall-E footage itself, inspired me again and again and again to beat my head against the wall when it felt completely devoid of any good idea.

That screenplay (conceived for animation) was 75-pages long when I moved to L.A. The plan was to work on it everyday, have it done in three months, and turned in to my producer with a month left on my internship. (This producer, incidentally, happens to be very well connected at Disney. A framed memo from Jeffrey Katzenberg, written as a fond farewell, hangs in his bathroom. In it, Katzenberg jokes about the monumental failure Newsies, advises him to seek out George Lucas and ILM for help with “being in two places at once,” and ends by telling him to “always keep [his] pager on.”) Those early months were hard fought, and each page I wrote seemed to push completion further away.

Having exhausted the Wall-E trailer, I turned to that giant poster for inspiration. I thought to myself that one day it would be my film’s poster on the side of that building. The internship was in Malibu, and it was a long drive home, but there is a hill on Wilshire Blvd. between San Vicente and the 405. It was at the crest of that hill that I was first able to catch a glimpse of the poster, and each night I felt that it was calling me home, the gate to Westwood village and the inspiration for that night’s writing.

I hoped that Wall-E would enjoy as long a berth as Underdog, but weeks after the release of the movie, it was replace by Swing Vote. As seen here from the Getty.

After that, it became High School Musical 3, then Bedtime Stories, Confessions of a Shopaholic, and Race to Witch Mountain. Basically, turd after turd after turd. Then, a great thing happened this weekend:

I’m not half as excited for Up as I was for Wall-E, but I’m definitely glad to see it up there. I will have officially been out here a year and six days by the time Up releases. Way to be on the cyclical structure, life.

Monday, March 23, 2009

This Week in Movies

A little trivia for you. Which recently Oscar-nominated director was responsible for this gem?

On a side note, anyone who thinks fedoras are cool should pay close attention to Isaac and Zac.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Advertising is Evil - Enterprise Rent-A-Car

Some commercials make you want to stab yourself in the head with a power drill. This is one of those commercials. And as the stand-up comedian/game show contestants in the SNL sketch I'm thinking of (but can't find on YouTube because NBC is also evil) would say: Who are the ad wizards who came up with this one?

I can just imagine the actor reading his line in the audition, and all the casting directors looking to each other as if to say, "Get this guy the hell out of here," while the one Enterprise Rent-A-Car executive laughs hysterically in the corner. "Oh man, say that again, that's great! Hey, do you think we can add a few more 'moms' into the script? This guy's gold."

At first viewing you may be thinking, "Eh, it's not that bad," but watch this about five times, as I've been forced to during the run of March madness, and I guarantee you'll be reaching for that drill.

As a bonus to this post, go to the video's page on YouTube (posted by the company itself), and check out some of the great comments left by what I can only imagine are Enterprise employees.