Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Hum Dinger of an update...or not.

Hi Gang,

Boy it has been a while. huh? Having just got back my laptop from Applecare (the fucker blew out its backlight), I didn't have a lot of access...and well, things have just been absolutely fucking crazy since we last spoke. Hope that thing on your ass cleared up.

In fear of this becoming another novel, I might just have to breeze through the last 45 days just so i dont lose ya. Much to talk about, and no time for love, Dr. Jones.

HAWAII; Even though the trip itself was one of the worst imaginable (I swear Clark Griswald must have stock in Hawaiian Airlines....NEVER USE THEM!!!), Bri and I had a smashing time, thanks. Good to actually not be able to use your phone or internet and just....disconnect. It was really refreshing. Try it sometime. Plus, writing became so much easier without the distractions, and I found myself with pages at my feet as I sat in the sand or on the deck of the place we stayed at, which will now be my creative getaway...hopefully someday. I forgot what it was like to relax, but thanks to this trip and Bri's help, I think I recaptured the concept.

My Dad: So my father, who has always been one of the strongest people in my life, is going through a tough patch with Esophageal Cancer right now. Its hard being in a state of familial disconnect, being so far away and praying that every time you get a phone call with an east coast area code it doesn't have some shitty baggage attached to the other line. Last week Dad went in for a very risky and dangerous 5 hour operation, one they couldn't perform on Humprey Bogart when he suffered from the same symptoms (god bless Modern Medicine), and he came out groggy but well, now riding the road to recovery as we speak. It was good to hear the relief in his voice, and believe me, Im sure there's a lot of relief in all of our voices knowing he pulled through. Then again, my old man will be the last person to admit his ailments, so I have to send out my spies to do a realistic prognosis, but everyone so far has assured me he's doing well. Just another knock on the door from the real world, keeping us all in mortality check, reminding us not to waste time or opportunity. My dad (so far) has lived his life to the fullest, and here's to more years kicking ass and taking names. Hang in there Pop, get well for that bike trip soon.

Dan Epstein: Its been a year since my good friend Dan died unexpectedly. I miss him so much. His emails, our phone calls, seeing him when I go to NYC or he comes to LA...Dan was just such a part of my life and Im so pissed and sad he missed the last year that unfolded, knowing he would have been so proud of me and what we did. On the anniversary of his death (June 13th) I took a long drive and just thought about all of our conversations, the last time I saw him (we saw 300 together out here, which was a blast) and then purposefully avoided seeing THE HAPPENING. Dan would have approved. But what's creepy is, on July 4th I got a notice form Friendster that informed me that Dan's birthday was that day. It just shook me. I mean, think about all the electronic paper trails you leave on the web, all the accounts you have, the myspaces and facebooks and all that...and how many times those things carry on after your death, almost as if you are still alive as almost a virtual ghost on the internet. It was just strange to get this friendster reminder of a fallen comrade a year after his passing. It just made me embrace the day more. I miss you Dan.

DUMA KEY: FINALLY finished the new King novel. I'll read anything that comes from his writer's room; hell, Im sure his "To Do" list is more compelling than most works of modern fiction. This was less horror and more melodrama with some supernatural spice, until the end when it got all IT & DREAMCATCHER on us, and that to me isn't a good thing really. Then again, its King, and 2/3'rds of it were like a great, satisfying meal. Onto Chuck Paulinick's SNUFF...light reading, y'know?

IRON MAN: Fucking unbelievable. Everything a summer movie should be, and then some. Faverau and Downey Jr. should be given the keys to the kingdom for this feat. I could go on and on, but like you all probably know, this movie is already a classic and doesn't need my rambling to reinforce it's greatness. If you're one of the few douches who hasn't seen it, get off this blog now. You'd be doing yourself a favor, and getting out a bit. Ah, fresh air. Now....bring on "Demon in a bottle"!!!! Oh wait....sigh. Fucking HANCOCK.

INDY 4: Sigh number 2. Ive had a month or so to let it digest, let the "retro cool" wear off, and frankly, I'm a little pissed and a lot more dismayed. Almost 20 years, and this is all we got? Sure, I was thrilled to see Dr. Jones and Co. swinging and double-punching their way through another ancient relic and some baddies, but it just felt so empty to me. I honestly dug the opening (yes, even the "Nuke the Fridge" moment) but after that, the film died in a way I can't quite come to grips with. 45 minutes in I was still pinching myself at first..."Holy shit, it's like the BIBLE is being written in real time before my eyes!" RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK was a pivotal moment in my childhood cinematic upbringing, so Indy has been engrained in my cinematic DNA for too long to remember. With INDY 4, it was great to have him visit, but I think the guy has overstayed his welcome. I did enjoy the Boof though, that kid has chops (and EAGLE EYE looks tits).

WEBBY AWARDS: Back in March we found out that one of our franchise shows on, FREESTYLE 101, won a Webby Award (the Oscars for the Internets) which was a shock and a delight. Wait, you mean people are truly watching us? Well, our crack legal team at Comcast saw that too, and now Im up to my eyeballs in legal forms and release waivers. Fuck popularity.

But the Webby was really a validation that we can make great content for the web, so Frank and I trekked to NYC for 3 days to go to the Awards shows...yes....SHOWS. Our award was highlighted in the "Film and Video" section of the awards, which to the grand scheme of things is like that part of the Academy Awards broadcast when Heather Graham comes out to introduce a pre-taped package from a previous evening where they hand out the technical achievement awards, which usually looks like Boredom on a Stick, right? Well, if this was any comparison, our awards show on the first night FELT like a real awards show. New buddy Judah Friedlander (met through mutual friends with Rob G and Henry) was the host with the hilarity who kept things moving along at a steady clip and had some really funny segments. We had good seats, bellies full of booze and hors D'ourves (I love writing that word). Now, the rule for winning was this: Amongst other mandates, the person going up to receive the award was only allowed to use 5 WORDS total in their acceptance speech. That's it. Not like there was a gong, or secret service or even a hook to pull off the people who didn't comply, but the air around the room was "Don't be a dick, do the 5 words". So, in true rock star fashion (Did I mention that Mr. Meyer truly is a rock star? Truth be told...) Frank strolls up when the show's name is called, gives Judah a bilg 'ole hug (the first of the night and oft-repeated since) and says....well you can see it from my video here:

Pretty neat huh? The afterparty was in the Bowery in an old converted church (I think I shot a Bile concert there a few years back) where we dined on decent food presented in chineses food take out boxes (oh, how "cool") and I got to go up to Webby Honoree Michel Gondry and say how much of an inspiration he was to my music videos. He just stared at me like I was a leper. Later, Judah and I caught up....I never thought someone like him would come up to me and say :"You're Joe Lynch!" I replied: "How did you know?"
"Dude, who else would wear a Rambo shirt to an awards show?" Guess he has a point. He told me how much he dug WT2, which floored me. Super super nice guy and I hope to work with him someday. He's hella talented and truly the World's Champ.

So, the second night was the ACTUAL awards event, hotsed by SNL's Seth Meyers (who looked like he had NO desire to be there) where they called winners up in groups like cattle to the slaughter and where there were categories like "Best Font" being awarded. Yes. Im serious. Thankfully we had a great table (including Jen Shiman, the genius behind the 30 Second Bunnies Theater, which if you haven't seen, check them out HERE), the booze flowed freely and we got the F outta Dodge the second it was over. Kinda anti-climactic compared to the previous night's fete, but hey, it was nice just to be out of the office.

You can also check out the other pics and coverage we got from ther event HERE

It was great to go back to NYC for a few days....ate at my favorite restaurant, BUBBY'S in TriBeCa 3 days in a row, bought a new jacket for the event (which looked great with Sly Stallone peeking out) , got to finally hang out with Judah for a bit, and see my family too, even if it was for 3 hours tops. Overall, it was a good trip back home; I need these more often.

Stan Winston & George Carlin: This was a devastating one-two gut punch for me. Both of these men were instrumental to my influences that shaped my life, even today.

Mr. Winston was always "Stan The Man" and you dont need to read here for me to convince you otherwise. He was one of the greatest creature creators of our time, from TERMINATOR to JURASSIC PARK to PUMPKINHEAD to EDWARD SISSORHANDS to IRON MAN and on and on....the man was, and still is, an Icon. He also involuntarily got me my first gig; had WRONG TURN not been a success, the sequel would have never been green lit and I would have never had an opportunity of a lifetime like WT2.

Before i got the gig, literally the DAY BEFORE, I was shooting field packages for G4 when they asked me if I wanted to go shoot Stan's studio in the Valley for a segment. Walking in, I either felt like this was an omen...or a cruel joke if i didn't get the job. But I couldn't say anything (I wasn't sure if Stan Winston Studios, who produced the first film, were involved at all) so I had to just revel in being surrounded by all of Stan's creatures in his "war room" and just hope for the best, take it as a sign...which it was.

Flash Forward a year and a half later and I'm about to unveil the first 10 minutes of WT2 to an eager crowd at Fangoria's Weekend of Horrors in New Jersey. My moderator, Rob G. (yup, as mentioned above) was nervously excited, as was I; my family came to see this as well as East Coast friends, and I didn't want to disappoint the home team! When we walk backstage, who's there but Stan himself, just finishing a panel for SKINWALKERS. I never met him before (he wasn't at the shop that day) but I had to at least thank him for the opportunity he (kinda) gave me, even if it was just using this as an legit excuse to approach him. So I went up to him, introduced myself and he just stared at me like I had shit on my nose. I even checked! After an awkward moment of silence I asked him, still (fan)boyishly excited: "Well, it would mean the world to me if you could just stick around and watch the first few minutes, I think you'll really be proud!" Again, he looked straight through me (I think he was checking if the SKINWALKERS poster hanging up was straight) and then said "Um, nah I dont have time, but good luck" and left. Was I devastated? Fuck yes I was. But I had to hide that and go out in front of the crowd to talk about my movie, but I wont say it didn't sting. I'm not knocking Stan; since his death there has been much celebration and a few comments on his personality, but unfortunately that was my first and last encounter with one of my heroes, and I can't say I wasn't saddened knowing he probably never screened his own mutant spawn. I do know in my heart, if they have Netflix in heaven, that someday he'll check it out and be proud.

Mr. Carlin taught me all the dirty words I needed to know at a very early age, and while I never met him (a major regret), his profound and profane observances knocked me out when I was a kid and whenever he visited my HBO every year or two, it was like that welcome Uncle who visited every so often, told some amazing stories and left a lasting impression. I know he has for well as the millions of fans and other comics he's touched. His insights were always so profound...and so right, like the one I'll never forget:

Flight Attendant: "Please get on the plane."
Carlin: 'Fuck you I'm getting IN the plane"

Carlin was just one of those comedians that could unite an entire crowd, even when he was spouting off like a dirty old man, and a true artist of the modern age. I could go on for hours on Carlin's career, but for your sake and mine, I'll leave it with a quote and a clip:

"Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things. "
-George Carlin

Rest in Peace guys....and thank you for impacting my life in so many wonderful ways...especially your beards.

FrightFest UK: We're coming back!!!! Yes. the OTHER "Adam & Joe" show are crossing the pond for another year in hot, sweaty England (or was that just me?) to celebrate this year's FrightFestUK.
What was arguably the highlight of my WT2 promotional tour last year, FrightFestUK is truly a fan's film festival. From the people who run it to those sickos who bought weekend passes, the festival was so fucking amazing that Green and I vowed we'd return...and by god we're making good on that claim. By August I'll need a vacation with all the shit going on now, so it will be a great getaway to hang out with my UK family out there, down some pints and watch some promising new horror movies. Its nice not having the pressure of having a film in the festival, even though little will top the high I was on watching the flick with a packed crowd that Saturday evening, being with the fans and our friends like a nice little community of the depraved. Im really looking forward to MARTYRS, BAD BIOLOGY, TIMECRIMES (which i missed in Austin last year), TOKYO GORE POLICE, JACK BROOKS & LET THE RIGHT ONE IN.This year we are sill bringing some goodies, but this is more just for fun; mostly, we just want to hang out and take in the UK air. For those who are going this year, please say hi! With the lineup just announced HERE, its gonna be a great weekend.

SPEED RACER: Ok, get ready....I REALLY liked SPEED RACER. Yeah yeah, i know I know. But compared to INDY 4, we walked out of SPEED with huge smiles on our faces and kept talking about how much fun it was well into the night, wheras with Indy, Bri and I just kept looking at each other and shaking our "why?" Sure, it was about 45 minutes too long for any kid to sit through it and yeah, the tone was all over, but there was a sheer giddy thrill in watching the hyper-colored visuals, and after adjusting to the ADHD style they introduce in the first race, I was totally wrapped up in this world. Give it a shot when it comes out on Blu-Ray and the negative spin has died down. We saw it in Digital IMAX, and man was it purdy.

THE STRANGERS: No offense to anyone involved reading this but...
S'nuff said.
Wanna get me riled up? Ask me about it in person. Then, stand back about 5 feet.

WALL E: Wall E was just proof positive that, CARS non-withstanding, PIXAR is the greatest movie studio of the modern age. Sure, the animation in the film is ultra-realistic (even, for the first time, using real actors instead of getting all BEOWULF on the likes of Fred Willard, which would have been truly frightening) and amazing to behold, especially in a digital presentation, but its the storytelling which is just top notch. They just know how to tell a story that has all the necessary elements to keep the viewer fully entertained and engaged, even when you have a dinky "Number 5 from SHORT CIRCUIT" clone who only speaks in blips and bloops. He and Eva, his ipod-like new friend, are two of the most fully developed characters of the summer, and WALL-E is the film to beat this year.

WANTED: I'm a big fan of Timur's (I wont even try to type his last name...even spell check goes "you're on your own buddy") from NIGHT & DAYWATCH, but more for the visuals than the storytelling. He's got a wonderful sense of scope and style, and I was thrilled to see what he could do with the Millar comic, which i dug (thanks Blair). Went to see it with my buddies Brian, Gerry, Ted & Scott, all hardcore geeks, and upon initial reaction, it was one hell of a night at the movies. Big, loud, brash, vile, violent and visceral....Jolie's ass was nice too. But aside from being almost a name-only adaptation of the original comic, the story just went from being FIGHT CLUB to THE MATRIX without really telling any story. Saw the twist coming a mile away (thanks to the trailer) and did we need an ENTIRE second act where we watch James McAvoy train...and train...and train...and sit in a recovery bath....and train...and train some more? was all told with muscular visual flair, but the story just floundered. Plus, Timur has now found his "Michael Bay shot" and needs to move on. "Michael Bay shot"? Thats the low angle circular dolly when one or two of the main character stand in loving slo-mo as the camera spins around them. Look for it in EVERY Bay movie. Here, Timur has taken a lift from the dazzling "car driving along the side of a skyscraper" from DAYWATCH and recycled it about 3 times in WANTED. Im all for fuzzy physics in movies, but I dont think I ever need to see a cool import car flip over and land on its wheels safely ever again after this.
Am I being over critical? Sure, I guess I had a lot of expectations for this, and im sure in a year when its out on DVD Ill retract my criticisms.

THE INCREDIBLE HULK: ...What a blast. IRON MAN was probably the second best film of the year for me thus far (next to WALL E) and I was really not expecting much from this flick after it seemed MArvel blew it's load on Tony Stark's side of the fence, and the trailers for HULK weren't too hot. Sometimes when you hear heated arguments and behind the scenes squabbles, it usually doesn't bode well for the final product. Then again, remember all the fracas over TITANIC? Im not saying this new and improved HULK is of that cinematic caliber, but I think Luc Besson protégé Louis Leterrier and actor/writer Ed Norton (who would have thought?) really found the right balance of angst and action that Ang Lee didn't...and they tipped many a hat to the original show, which is a plus in my nostalgia book. Plus, the CG ended up wowing more than boring, an the climactic fight was actually really enthralling, more than I can say for the Polar Bear fight in THE GOLDEN COMPASS.
I'm actually ready for a sequel, please.

HANCOCK: ...What a mess. I love me some Peter Berg, and who can hate Will Smith? But this movie was a fucking hodge podge, as grandma used to say. The first 40 minutes was fun, but then that twist...oh that fucking twist....and then I just wondered how many popcorn kernels I had in the bottom of my bucket. I just turned off....and it ended up being the longest 90 minutes I spent in the theater in recent memory. A damn shame, but I think everyone involved will be juuuuust fine, especially with that opening weekend Box Office.

THE WACKNESS: As much as Im pissed that they got to make what could be the first 90's Nostalgia flick (one script of mine was also set in 94), I really enjoyed this slice of NYC life, a time before 9/11 and just as Giuliani came in and Disneyfied Manhattan. After seeing ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE, I knew Jonathan Levine had chops, but this movie shows he can also tell wonderfully complex and emotional stories and be able to cross genres easily. Ben Kingsley WILL get an oscar nomination for this, his best role since SEXY BEAST. He better....or else....
GREAT soundtrack, yo.

THE COTTAGE: I got to see a preview of this flick at FrightFestUk last year, so it was always on my radar. But finally got to see it on DVD, and boy was I pleasantly surprised! What begins as a UK RESERVOIR DOGS/RUTHLESS PEOPLE hybrid subtly mutates into a, dare i say it, WRONG TURN type monster flick, and it's done with a great sense of humor but even better, a secure sense of craft so that the funny parts are funny...and the serious moments can be downright terrifying and shocking.

WRONG TURN 3: Yep, its being made!
Nope, Im not doing it.
Long story short, it just didn't work out due to a lot of factors, but after emailing back and forth with Declan O'Brien, the director behind the new outing to the West Virginia backwoods, Im really excited, as a fan of the series, to see where he takes the mythology from the last moments of 2 (oooh I hope Baby Splooge is back).
Kick some ass man...and don't forget your bucket of blood on set every day. You WILL need it!

Well, I think we're caught up to speed finally. This weekend brings HELLBOY 2, which I have a major boner for right now....but Im a die-hard Del Toro fan so he could remake FRIED GREEN TOMATOES and I know I'd be riveted...I just hope the rest of the country responds to it as well. Universal's been pushing the shit out of it lately (seeing Ole Red in commercials for CHUCK & AMERICAN GLADIATORS was a nice diversion, sure) so hopefully it hits and Guillermo gets to continue doing whatever the fuck he wants...well, after THE HOBBIT.

E3 is also this week coming up. Im already exhausted from preparing for the huge annual Games convention, having to produce and manage 4 separate crews as they cover the event, and hoping all goes well. Crossing fingers I make it to the end in one piece! The nice thing is that the pot of gold at end of the rainbow is my already purchased tickets for THE DARK KNIGHT IMAX next Saturday morning....I can't wait.

As for movie stuff coming up, there's a couple of projects Im really excited about that are close to their engines revving, but I dont want to jinx anything. Let's just say...if all goes well, I'll be like a kid in a candy store. A candy store with cool cars, undead with um, "particular" tastes, Katana blades, glock 19s, final exams, blood, guts, Goobers, and the most gonzo camerawork this side of Sam Raimi, age 21. Cryptic much?

Hope you all have a great weekend! I PROMISE to keep this more updated, especially in the next few weeks. Its gonna be a busy time, but always an adventure.

Staying Scary,