The Tailors Apprentice

On Saturday Oct. 5th I was lucky enough to attend the cast/crew screening for the new independent film ‘The Tailors Apprentice’ (2013). Rowan Bousaid, a friend & colleague, had invited me to the screening and I attended in support of his acting efforts in the film. I went in blind because I knew nothing of the films story, plot, other actors, where it was made etc. etc……zilch, nada. And I will say that I was thoroughly impressed.

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Without giving away spoilers, there are a few elements in the film that really stand out as being exceptional. First I’d have to say is the original score, created by Matt Bukaty. For a majority of the film you don’t even notice it because when music is THAT good it just draws you into the story. When you do take a breather and notice the music you say to yourself, ‘damn this soundtrack is good’. Major kudos on the soundtrack. Second is the films directing, which isn’t always obvious to the audience unless it’s really bad…..or really good. The director Jeff Lehmen did an amazing job and I’m not saying that for any other reason than…….he’s a talented dude and I hope he gets the opportunity to keep making films. His direction stood out to me so much because of the pacing, the freedom that the actors seemed to have to develop their characters and more importantly……a religiously oriented film with a small cast isn’t always my kind of movie, but there was a depth and meaning throughout this film that captured my attention and pulled me in to the story.

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Lastly, the cinematography was very good. I also want to write about how good the acting was (which it was) but that wouldn’t be entirely fair because I’m friends with one of the main actors…so you’ll have to judge that yourself when you see the film. There were some flaws in the film (as I relayed to the creators on their FB page after the viewing) but really….what movie doesn’t have flaws? The most important thing is that those flaws are easily overlooked because the story is so engrossing that you don’t mind the minor imperfections.

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After the screening the cast/crew answered some questions about the film and the audience got to hear thoughts from the main actor Stefan Laurantz. It really enriched my experience to hear how devoted and dedicated the actors and director were to not only making this film, but making the best film they could possibly create. I got a clear sense of the heartfelt camaraderie between the films team, which as a fellow filmmaker is refreshing to see. Of course my main man Rowan Bousaid might’ve had a few too many drinks before his speech…..but there’s nothin’ wrong with that.

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As it was a graduate thesis project for UCF, the filmmakers are raising additional post-production funds through social networking. I highly recommend taking a look at the trailer, seeing the film when it’s available and even contributing to the films cause if you’ve got some cash to spare. And to be honest (sometimes I’m way too honest for my own good)…I wouldn’t be interested in seeing the film after viewing the trailer. But….you HAVE TO SEE THIS FILM. The trailer doesn’t do it justice….I don’t think any short preview can. You just gotta see it. If you liked ‘The Way’ (2010) or ‘The Razors Edge’ (1984) you’re almost guaranteed to like this movie. You never know what you’re getting into with an independent film…..and this is one I think you’ll enjoy.

Be sure to check out The Tailors Apprentice on facebook or on the official website for the film. As always….be good to yourself, be good to those that you encounter and be good to animals…even if they’re annoying little dogs who poop and pee on your carpet.

 

Asheville is not Shangri-la

Have you heard the stories about Asheville, North Carolina? That it’s heaven on earth. That it’s the greatest city in America. That it’s one of the greatest cities in the world. Is that what you’ve heard? Well……it’s what I was told for years. Every person I talked to would rave about Asheville. Friends, colleagues, random acquaintances, people in health food stores, people in bars etc. etc.. It was as if this was the best kept secret in the world. And the question was….when will you go to Asheville?

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After years of hearing these amazing reviews……I decided that it was time to go. A friend and I had the opportunity…..so we went. We were SOOOOO EXCITED!!! All the stories. Great bars. Great people. Great air. Great scenery. Farm houses in the middle of the city with chickens running around. People growing their own vegetables. A super sustainable city of the future. So on we went. We parked the car and started walking.

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We saw the city hall, a fountain, some churches, some side streets with shops. Ok. Cool. We didn’t find the magic everyone was talking about…..but ok. So we decided to grab a couple of beers at a bar downtown. There we sat….trying to get our bearings and figure out if we were missing anything. After being accosted by about a half dozen homeless people pan handling for money, we began talking to a local at the bar. He said to us, ‘You’re pretty much doing the best thing in Asheville. Sit around, drink….and look at cars drive by’. Interesting……THAT’S THE BEST THING TO DO IN ASHEVILLE!!!!???!!!! Wow. The people telling me about this place must have been drinking some good kool-aid if that is true.

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This local went on to tell us that it’s legal to walk around topless in Asheville. So…ladies can walk around with their boobs hanging out. COOL. But he then said that it’s not that cool…..because old fat homeless women are usually the only ones taking advantage of this law. Eeesh. Nothing against old fat homeless women….but I understand how that could be unappealing.

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Alright….so we picked up and walked around some more. We had some food. Then wandered over to the River Arts District. Everyone said it was amazing so we had to go. Naturally, we were curious. Maybe this is where the magic of Asheville was. And again…..no magic. It was a tiny group of buildings with a few sculptures lying around.

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There was a little brewery/bar in back that was decent…..if you like drinking beer in a dirt yard while looking at train tracks. Having grown up in the hick-town of Washingtonville, New York…..naturally I thought that it was pretty cool….because that’s what I did when I was a teenager. And then we saw a pitiful, saggy, tattooed drunken woman who was babysitting an infant…. AN INFANT….at this bar. When asked the baby’s name she replied, ‘Oh man….I don’t know’. Either she was too drunk to remember, she legitimately didn’t know….or she kidnapped the child. WTF!!!

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A couple more hours of walking. A few more bars. Some side streets that looked like downtown Newark, New Jersey….and then I was officially jaded (not that I wasn’t jaded before….I was still looking for the MAGIC OF ASHEVILLE). So here’s the deal (for people who believe the stories). Asheville is no where special. It’s just a place on a map. The parks are small….and dirty. The shops are ok…not too different from any funky little hippie town shops. The bars are decent…some are cool. It’s not especially cheap. The drink of choice is PBR and the style of choice is HIPSTER. There are no jobs to be had unless you work in a hospital (from what I gathered talking to locals). There is an over-saturation of bums who pan handle by day and go live in the mountains at night (I was accosted more than a normal day in New York City). The cops hassle people too much (according to locals). There are a bunch of empty lots with graffiti. There are some mountains nearby to hike on….but they’re really not that impressive. And that’s that. Did you know that gay whales take it in the ass?

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Later, after my dream-like vision was shattered, I realized that Asheville is pretty cool….IN CONTEXT. It’s a progressive city….FOR NORTH CAROLINA. It’s not Shangri-la. Not even close. If I went there with the mindset of, ‘hey I’m going somewhere new’…it would have been a much more enjoyable time than with the mindset of, ‘this is going to be heaven on earth’. I plan on visiting again and giving Asheville another chance. After all…..who doesn’t enjoy empty lots that say UP DA PUNX!?!

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To me….Asheville seemed like the perfect place for people to go if they were on the verge of being homeless. It’s where you go to live when you’ve given up all hope and just want to give it one last shot. Will visiting again with a new mindset change that opinion? I sure hope so. And I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings Asheville….but you’re really not heaven on earth. Either that…..or I’m missing something and didn’t find the MAGIIIIIICCCCC OF ASSSHHHEEVVIIILLLLLEEEE. It was a weekday when I visited and I really do need to see it on a weekend. But as the seasoned local told me…..the best thing to do in Asheville is sit around, drink and watch cars pass by.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this M.A.V.B.L.O.G. and as always, be good to yourself, be good to others that you encounter & be respectful.

Beyond-Two Souls

Today I’m going to do a quick review of the new video game Beyond: Two Souls. Why quick? Because the game is way too frustrating to do a lengthy review. It’s got a great story, impressive graphics & great acting by the main characters but the con’s far outweigh the pro’s. The game goes in a linear path with virtually no freedom, the controls are atrocious and very frustrating at times (it’s basically like playing a long tutorial. They tell you what button to push and at what times), it’s near impossible to figure out and get a handle on the camera movement & the disjointed style works in movies but not so much with this game.

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When I say frustrating, it’s the kind of frustrating where you’re really into the plot line and the story, you’re really into the characters…..but the gameplay is so damn stupid that it makes you want to give up on the whole experience. I can kind of see what the designers were going for…something like the old game Dragon’s Lair, in terms of gameplay, but it just doesn’t work. Kudos though to Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe who turn in great performances. I’d also love to see the director David Cage make a movie instead of another video game.

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Not that there aren’t great moments in the game, there are. I loved the story. When you’re at the sweet 16 party and you get asked to dance…..and kiss a boy for the first time. You feel it…..however queer that is for guys playing the game. Also, the giving birth part is completely outlandish but perfect in the storyline & character development. Ellen page is so good and you get drawn in to her character as you see her grow from a little girl into a woman. And it really sucks…..because she’s in horrible circumstances her whole life.

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M.A.V.B.L.O.G. SCORE- 3 out of 10. Frustrating controls, frustrating camera movement and a boring freedom less linear game path make this game unplayable. It would have made a great stand alone movie, which at times you wish was the case. I loved the actors, the writing, the story, the dialogue options and the visuals but as I said before the con’s far outweigh the pro’s. Is it worth a purchase? NOOOOOOOOO!!! Is it worth a play though? yeah maybe…..if you have nothing better to do. I paid 2 bucks at Redbox for it, which I’m ok with….although, I’d recommend reading the story and watching the cut scenes on youtube instead.

Here are a couple of other blog posts about the game if you’d like to do some more research.

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I hope this M.A.V.B.L.O.G. assisted in some way. As always…have a great day. Take good care of yourself……and treat others with respect. Even animals.