Archive for March, 2013

Top 10 Baseball Movies for Opening Day 2013

Saturday, March 30th, 2013

Forget March Madness and good luck finding 10 Easter movies anyway. Spring is here, though it sure doesn’t feel the case and its been way too long since we did an old fashioned top ten post. So, in time for opening day tomorrow, here are a top 10 of Baseball Movies. We also realized that some baseball movies are pretty bad. Other than these.

1) The Natural (1984) – It’s quite a slow paced movie, which makes me wonder how I was more suited to watch it and enjoy it 20 years ago, but it was “that” good. I tried not to commit an order to this list, but its hard to find a baseball movie better than this one. And, from a voting perspective, this was an easy winner.

2) Moneyball (2011) – Solid movie, and though Pitt and Jonah Hill get all the credit, I think Philip Seymour Hoffman was pretty good in this movie too, even if the person he played in the movie (Art Howe) was furious about it and hasn’t had a job since (hopefully happily retired at least).

3) Major League (1989) – Comedy, baseball, late 80’s, uh-oh, likely a movie that I’ll like. Plenty of useless banter too for an Indians franchise that hasn’t won much in recent years in reality either.

4) Field of Dreams (1989) – If you build it, they will come. Everyone knows this line. It’s also Kevin Costner’s best movie, take what you want from that statement. Ray Liotta and James Earl Jones also were good in this movie too. Haven’t seen it in a while though, and perhaps some stories are best left as is.

5) Road to the big Leagues (2008) – Hats off to the 2013 WBC Champions. Great documentary about baseball in the Dominican Republic, and not like that other baseball documentary in 1994, which was 18 hours long.

6)The Bad News Bears (1976, certainly not the 2005 remake!) – Classic movie that I enjoyed as a kid, but for them to try a 2005 remake was pointless. Things are too politically correct now. Which is a shame, because the 1976 one had some gems in it.

7) Brewster’s Millions (1985) – More of an off-field movie perhaps, but I have to admit, nostalgia plays some role here, as I found this movie hilarious when I was a kid. Plus it had Richard Pryor and John Candy. What says mid-80’s better than that? The downside is that you realize years later some athletes actually spend just as irrationally.

8) Unknown / Kokoyakyu (2008?) – I saw a random Japanese baseball documentary while on a plane from Japan. It made no sense verbally, yet I still was captivated by it and watched it (perhaps because all the other channels were in Japanese too, except some CNN nonsense). And it is not Kokoyakyu, though that seems to have a similar perspective and that one is worth a mention here too. Only difference is the one I saw on the plane had big league teams like the Seibu Lions in it. Hoping someone tells me the name of it!

9) The Sandlot (1993) – Two movies that are similar in some ways, but totally at other ends of the spectrum in some ways too. The Sandlot take you back in the era when movies for nostalgia circa generations past were quite upbeat (was released in 1993, but could have passed for a movie done earlier).

10) The Rookie (2002) – Yes its cheesy, but its a true story, disney-fied to some extent perhaps. Perhaps I’m giving credit to the actual story behind the movie rather than the movie though? However, what could have easily been “made for TV” style, was actually a decent showing.

11) Baseketball (1998) – Damn, this was 15 years ago? I put this at number 11, as I know plenty of people won’t count this as a baseball movie. But I don’t plan on making a base-ketball list!

Honorable mentions, movies I haven’t seen and other people’s suggestions: Bull Durham (which I know a lot of people would put on their own top 10), The Babe, A League of Their Own, Bang The Drum Slowly, Eight Men Out.

Missed anything? Probably, but there are 3 strikes allowed. Either way, enjoy opening day. If movies had any say, those Hollywood teams would win one this year.

Hamlet – A Modernized Rendition

Monday, March 18th, 2013

In between working on various screenplays and short films, there’s somehow time for acting on-stage as well. In particular, The Marowitz Hamlet, which is a free adaptation and an alternate take of Shakespeare’s Hamlet from a different standpoint. This version unfolds in a stream of consciousness, like the glimpses of rapid memory flashes in Hamlet’s final moments.

Marowitz has drastically shortened Hamlet for this version, from a traditionally five-act, four-hour story down to about 90 minutes, inter-cutting characters, scenes, and events with one another, while leaving the plot intact and providing the viewer with a modern remix that brings familiarity along with new insights and emphasis on the sub-plot.

Featured in this adaptation of Hamlet is our own Justin Mejia (playing the part of Fortinbras). The production will run March 27-30, 2013 at Common Ground Theatre – 4815b Hillsborough Rd. Durham, NC 27705
Performances are Wednesday through Saturday at 8:00 pm and Saturday at 2 pm.

For map and ticket information as well as more details on the rest of the case – http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/283144

Tickets are $15 general admission, $12 for seniors, students, and children. For more information about the production, please call 919-339-1558.

The Right Way To Write A Screenplay

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Over the years I’ve had many an idea for a screenplay (often while intoxicated though). And I start it eager to plow through what I think is an awesome scene here and there, profound or hilarious or sometimes a combo of the two dialogue wise, a cool character mix and a story that has that right level of everything. I’ll burn through the first 10 or so pages that night and think, damn, this will be the shit. And then it fades out. Suddenly the script of many dreams has reached a dead end, or it goes off on a tangent that makes no sense. You try to keep going with it, catching occassional inspiration and rewrite motivations – to the point where the story was nothing like your initial idea. Not too long later, the story becomes another half script casualty. You’ve lost the plot, the scene transition is non-existent, its missing the hook and you have no idea how it was supposed to end anyway.

Yeah, I’ll admit, I’ve written a fair few screenplays where I either had no idea what the ending would be, or completely lost my way there. I just had a great idea and ran with it, and then one day wondered where the hell I was running to. And I know other people that have done this too over the years. In fact, not too long ago I thought thats how they all did it.

Now I know that this is also why people have unfinished screenplays. So here’s my advice, what I’ve learned (told you this blog would take you through the learnings too after all….). If you plan on writing a screenplay based on an idea one day and start writing dialogue, scenes, etc…. you are in trouble. It will usually fade out. Not always, as I’ve definately finished a few this way…. but the odds are against you.

Nowadays I have much less free time on my hands, and so sitting down and writing up loads of scenes is something that I rarely am able to do. However, I still manage to get some ideas every now and then, and scribble them down like old times. Instead of writing out a script, it made sense to just outline the scenes for now. Make this easier to convert into a full length, figure out what the plot is in the first place, figure out how it will end, get an idea of the structure overall before digging deep into character specifics like dialogue quirks. Then, when I have some time, yet not feeling too creative, I can churn through scenes quite fast and develop the properly structured screenplay. An outline takes much less time and allows you to get the most from your creative flow as well – those moments where you just have inspiration and ideas a plenty.

because we still print them out?

Either way, this is what I’m experimenting on a current screenplay, and it is working well. Very efficient time-wise too. Hopefully it will be converted relatively fast, and due to the outline (which was done very quickly), easy to keep track of what and where regarding plot and characters. It’s interesting to be able to write this way and I feel more confident with building the story idea while the creative juices are flowing – then finalizing and tweaking as I lay it out as a full length. It all makes sense. It’s also odd that they don’t really tell you to do this when you learn about screenwriting. But they should.

And perhaps to some slight disappointment (as its not some first time discovery that will revolutionize screenwriting, just something I feel like I was late to learn on), its also referred to by various other people. Such as this one at http://www.writersstore.com/outlining-your-script-or-story/ – quote: “writing a long, complex piece, such as a novel or screenplay from an outline will make the entire process easier, less angst-ridden, and — except for those of you with masochistic tendencies — far more pleasurable and satisfying. And, as with the Great Ones, your finished story will be better.”

And there are various tools to help you manage your outline a bit better when you have that idea.

So yes, I’m sold on outlines, not just its convinced me that the next one I write will require less “rewrite time”. However I still have ideas that will make this faster and even more efficient when translating thoughts and ideas to screenplays. I’ll save that for a later post though. Time to write up the current outline for now….. after all, its not going to write itself up, yet.