Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Strictly, Revolutionary

There was a chance I would love Strictly Ballroom, but in expecting too grand of things from Baz Luhrmann, I was pretty disappointed. More that anything, I wanted an excuse to see the one film in his director's bin that was left unseen. His best (read: Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge!) would follow it. At it's best, Ballroom read like a cliche "I just gotta dance!" movie. Oy.

On another note, I saw Revolutionary Road yesterday, another great step for Sam Mendes. While I suspect he despises American suburbia, there is no denying that Mendes can wind suspense around a thimble (and writer Just Haythe, and novelist Richard Yates). It's the best reward for an audience to see a film so reliant on acting; this one is atop the best ensembles of the year, with Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Rachel Getting Married, Doubt and Milk following. I especially loved the central theme to the film, of which I've blogged maybe 8,000 times.

But I love the idea of the Great American Compromise, and how life's little gifts slowly chip away at the base of our dreams. Bit by bit, through job security or family attachments or general cowardice, we build a ceiling to block out the clouds that once welcomed our curiosity. And at 22, with no major life attachments, it rang pretty loud. I think the current KU study abroad crew was in Venice this weekend. Some were in Barcelona. I never made it to Barcelona, if you recall. (So, when?)

But one thing the Wheelers (played by Kate and Leo) neglected was living in the moment. Here doesn't have to be so bad; the haste in making such a decision often chokes the happiness one can make for his or herself. People are miserable with themselves in Paris, too. And who's miserable? Not me! Not with such frackin' awesome movies showing at the cineplex. Oscar season is truly the best of all 5. It makes me... wanna dance!

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Since I am still new to the area (Emeryville, that is) and it's Oscar season, I am attending Frost/Nixon by my lonesome tonight. I'm not ashamed. I blogged about the notion once, having attended only one film by myself previously. But this is independence, isn't it? Just because the other interns are sick or with other friends or not interested in it, I want to see it, so I am responsible for the followthrough. It got 5 Oscar noms, for Pete's sake, including 4 in the major categories. And it's written by Peter Morgan, who authored my favorite flick of 2006.

Movies movies movies. Life life life! See the ones you hope to love. Love the one you're given.

Update: Sold out. The 9:45 showing! Wow. I guess Berkeley has more interest in intellectual films than previous homes of mine. At least I made it to the theatre to buy a ticket. Instead, I came home and watched 2001: A Space Odyssey. It's one of those films I had to watch just so it exists in my repertoire. My brain is on the fritz.

Friday, January 23, 2009


You know how sometimes your day just floats along and you ruminate unhealthily? It isn't necessarily negative, but moreso neutral, and counterproductive. Thoughts enter your head, welcome or not.

Anyway, today was one of those days. I was ruminating, a lot. About the now, about the future. "Fretting" is an appropriate term. I fret about my life pretty consistently. Hey, hi, my name's Adam. Nice to meet you.

Well, ruminating is unhealthy because you start to doubt yourself and your talents and your personality. But fortunately for me today, not one but six people went out of their way to encourage me, for no reason. My demeanor was happy, and yet they still said something regarding writing or learning or working... and it made all the difference. Today was great! Most days are great, but today was initially threatened by my faulty thought process.

I did OK in high school. I tell myself a place like this is half the size of my high school, and the faces stay the same, which only helps. And here, it's normal for girls to get pregnant and people are encouraged to share a celebratory beer after the day ends. And jocks? Who needs 'em! Nerds rule the school.

Hey, if I switched from private to public schools at 14 and survived, I think a place like this at 22 should yield positive results.


Also, the park I run in each morning turns out to be a popular "random adult meetup locale" (read: strangers tapping on each other's car windows before work, walking to the bushes, and not playing patty cakes) for weird, creepy, possibly married people. I knew something was fishy when people started staring at me as I ran by, as if I was crashing some party uninvited (although the invitation seems pretty open by my impressions).

So... I'm exercising indoors, at the apartment complex, until further notice. Gag.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Original Screenplay shock

* “Frozen River” (Sony Pictures Classics), Written by Courtney Hunt
* “Happy-Go-Lucky” (Miramax), Written by Mike Leigh
* “In Bruges” (Focus Features), Written by Martin McDonagh
* “Milk” (Focus Features), Written by Dustin Lance Black
* “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Screenplay by Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, Original story by Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter

No Rachel Getting Married? What about Jenny Lumet carrying the legacy?
No The Wrestler? What about being the best-reviewed film of the year?
No Vicky Cristina Barcelona? What about Woody Allen love, and its pure awesomeness + Best Musical or Comedy win at the Golden Globes (granted it was 100% about the dramatic films this year)?

It's probably Milk's to win, although I'm rooting for the robot.

I'm generally OK with everything else. Got a few more screenings to decide if I'm happy or sad about The Reader's rise or Gran Torino's absence.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Anyone can cook.

I feel like Linguini, having walked into the restaurant for the first time. Except I'm not hiding anything in a toque.

Second week, and I feel infinitely more capable. The jitters have subsided, the goosebumps retracted, and now I can mop the floor and let it shine so that these artists can walk on the cleanest, sparkliest floor that complements their world-class talent.

Anyone can cook. But first, everyone must mop the floor.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Blog direction

Since I soon hope to write consistently (for the first time in fo-eva) I need to better utilize this blog space. Obviously my blog is titled "The Inciting Incident" for a reason, and tonight I had my first meet-up with some other Picksar employees interested in screenwriting. Wow, people like me exist! There they are, working in their various departments, and possessing the same passion as a kid plucked outta South Dakota. I might actually be writing sooner than later with the wonderful, necessary pressure.

OK, so for the blog... the musings are all, from my perspective, cinematic. Things that arc my life, themes and threads I find strung through the daily ebb and flow. I know most personal blogs are venting tools or public diaries, but know that I'm trying to keep mine... like a beat sheet (for non-writers, that's "personal revelations that alter my mood or thought process or lessons learned, or significant people met"). That's how I justify this space.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tough Beginnings, Anywhere

A new beginning always means one certainty: testing the waters takes time. Like studying abroad, having new roommates, starting a new class or a job, it is necessary to gauge people's personalities and existing dynamics before allowing one's own character to shine.

I remember when my Europe group assembled a month before departure (from US, to Euro), everyone looked around the room, quiet and staring blankly. I wanted to push everything aside, do backflips and somersaults all over the room and jump up shouting "We're going to be the best of friends in 4 months and are sharing the best time of our life... together. Why can't we be chummy now?"

The same goes for now, with a twist. This group that I have joined, just like with the previous two internships, is close-knit. They have adopted me and granted me access to their unity. But for some reason, I cannot inherently relax and joke until the "few week buffer" mysteriously dissolves and we're suddenly clicking. It's not circumstantial, it's a life rule. One day they'll realize, "holy crud, this kid has a sense of humor... like us?"

It just needs to foster and happen naturally, I suppose. That's part of relationships. And most people are impatient.

Patience, patience, patience. I'm burning it into my head. Patience. Be yourself. Patience.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


I'm in the business of surprises.

For obvious reasons, few work-related updates to follow. But I'll be here, updating on other life-nesses. Regarding Picks-ar, gage my optimism, and you'll figure the rest.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

2009's Promise

A year ago I was exploring the tiny, winding roads of Florence, embarking on a new adventure that would infect my body and mind with wanderlust. Having graduated and gotten out of Kansas' wintry wonderland, I look forward to 2009 with the same curiosity and anticipation, but with wiser eyes and a stronger sense of self.

2009 will introduce reality. Loans, work, bills, all of it. But most importantly, complete independence and creative freedom, as well as a new lease on creative collaboration. No more Psychology tests or Campaigns group projects. I get to apply my liberal arts degree, work with people in an industry relevant to my passion, and hopefully... hopefully... write consistently and better than before.

Work starts tomorrow. Well, the internship. It's going to be a day of orientation and the whole week will probably be flight training before landing on my feet with the Toy Story 3 team. I struggle to even refer to this as "work". It feels as though I have struck gold, and within me lies a desire to learn and study and grow more than I ever did in school.

Having met a few other interns, the eagerness is a shared sentiment. I live with three technical interns. These dudes are brilliant and already so successful in their creative endeavors; I am fortunate to play ball with them. Another production intern is actually friends with one of my good buddies from Kansas. She phoned me yesterday with the whole "what a small world" speech, and I agreed. That girl, who is working in the art department on 2011's "The Bear and the Bow", came grocery shopping with us this morning as we stocked up on our apartment essentials. Already the other interns love that I drove my car out here. Cha-ching!

Speaking of driving my car out here... wow. Our country is serene and breathtaking. She is all positive adjectives. One of my writing resolutions is to avoid words like "cool", "good", "neat", "sweet", and "awesome". How trite! The US of A, my friends... is stunning and varied. I crave road trips like I craved country-hopping in Europe. I would love to drive the west and east coasts of this nation, absorbing all the landscapes like those witnessed from South Dakota, south to Kansas, southwest to New Mexico and west through Arizona, up into Nevada, and then northwest to San Francisco's bay.

I started driving on January 1. A new year, a new life ahead. I said farewell to friends and family, my past close enough to touch, but shrinking with each passing mile.

Adieu, adieu to the Kansas plains. I picked up my co-pilot Mitch in Wichita and the wind carried us away to sunny, dry New Mexico.

We nearly got killed by a fiery red pickup truck that ran a red light in Clayton, NM, but the near miss allowed us to continue to Santa Fe for a night with our colorful, vibrant fellow Jayhawk, Nina. Santa Fe is so authentic-feeling and the food was rich. I could see myself living there quite happily someday.

Then, through the similarly-landscaped Arizona deserts, we navigated to the Grand Canyon. And where else on the entire trip should it snow but Arizona? I do believe we saw the Canyon at its most unique moment. The color contrast was alive, putting on a show.

While Nevada surely has its gifts, it was not my favorite state. It was relatively vast, and Las Vegas kept my attention for the one night we settled there. I do not think I could have lasted much longer. It was so shallow, so money-centric, so redundant, so transient... says the boy with Hollywood aspirations. The Hoover Dam, though, is spectacular enough to phone your mother.

At long last, on January 5's eve, we arrived in San Francisco.

She is just as I left her, heartwarming and kind. Amy and Michael were gracious hosts for the five days spent in the city, and the kids were an eager force waiting to entertain Mitch and me. Reconnecting with old friends was of highest priority. I was able to see Film Society people and JPG people. The FIlm Society trucks toward another inevitably grand festival, many of them off to Sundance this week to scout prospects. JPG is a sadder story. Just after the new year, JPG's parent, 8020 Media, announced its demise. My friends and loved ones are now without work, their main investor having pulled the plug. The good news for JPG is that it is likely to be adopted by a new investor. Bids have been made and entertained. But the saddest part is that the jobs won't likely return for any of those great, creative folks. Some are enjoying the days off, catching up on projects. Others are searching vigorously for new employment, as far away as New York. What a sign of the times. They were all in good spirits, though. Troopers. I love them.

I have been catching myself up on films, too. My most recents are Milk, The Wrestler, Doubt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Slumdog Millionaire. I do believe I've seen the cream of the crop, but my final list won't arrive until Gran Torino, Frost/Nixon, The Reader, and Revolutionary Road are in my repetoire. I have my work cut out. Oscar season is upon us! So far, though, my support is with Mickey Rourke of The Wrestler, Anne Hathaway of Rachel Getting Married, Heath Ledger of The Dark Knight, and Penelope Cruz of Vicky Cristina Barcelona. 2008 was sharp for actors.

It was sharp for animation, too. But we all know who was top dog. A little robot, and an army of 1000 behind his tale. Tomorrow, I join that army. How fortunate!

Here's to a bright future, a beaming 2009, and a lifetime pursuit of thrill. Everything is over the horizon. Go to it.