Funny People

fp I finally saw Funny People. I was so looking forward to seeing it in the theater and then I didn’t make it happen and then it was too late. I discovered that regrets are a big theme in Funny People. Even Adam Sandler’s insanely famous and successful character, George, has more than his share. I heard that Funny People was a spot-on picture of the life of a comedian. It certainly shows that, but it’s really a bigger story about relationships and choices that resonated with me. I think Judd Apatow has established himself nicely with Funny People, 40 Year Old Virgin & Knocked Up. I hope he keeps it up because these comedies have a heart that is missing in a lot of the funny movies around lately.

The cast was strong in this one. Adam Sandler, Leslie Mann, Seth Rogan, Jonah Hill, Jason Schwartzman and Eric Bana were all great.

This movie made me want to try stand up but the fear is still pretty strong. Not a fear of standing in front of people, but a fear of doing all the work to write a set.



What do you get when you mix up South Africa, Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon and Clint Eastwood? I don’t know. It depends on the mixing method, I suppose. BUT, if you have Clint Eastwood directing a film set in South Africa starring Freeman and Damon, the chances are good that you will end up with a sweet film!

For authenticity’s sake, I went to see Invictus with no less than three for-reals South Africans! One of my top-five best friends, Greg Lawler and his dad along with current Costa Rica resident Martyn Hoffman. Greg even wore his SA Rugby jersey! To make sure these guys didn’t get too cocky, we had our US team present. At forward, a two Chris front (Schoolland, Mundell). At Defense, a two Tad front (Clark, Wagner). And finally, a Nate (Rogers). The wild-card. Unfortunately, none of us Yanks knew the damned rules so…

With Invictus, you know what you’re in for. You know the political story, you know there is sports involved and you know the cast and crew are all top notch. With all that in mind going in you’d think I’d be sitting back going, “OK here’s the part about the racism and the elections. OK, here’s the Mandela being gracious, OK here’s the rugby that means more than just rugby” without being effected emotionally. But I was effected. I was on the edge of crying at several points. Now you might say, “Well, Chris, aren’t you ALWAYS on the edge of tears? Like when you think of your kids or God or, like, when you watch Biggest Loser?” OK, yes, that’s true, but this film is moving, man! South Africa’s Apartheid situation is recent history. I know these guys that grew up in it. It feels real and immediate. So all Clint had to do was tee it up and yell “Four!” Here is where I would insert a Tiger Woods joke. But, I have matured to the point that I no longer feel like I need to prove myself in that way. OK, fine. They say Tiger was stingy & uncharitable, but a bowl of tiger penis soup cost US $ 320 in Taiwan and he was giving it away free y’all!! WHAT!?! He’s like the Bob Geldof of Tiger Penis!

I leave you with this moving poem, the namesake of the film. Morgan Freeman did the voice-over. Too bad they couldn’t get someone with chops…


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
– William Ernest Henley

Where The Wild Things Are

where the wild things areGetting sent to bed without dinner doesn’t sound too harsh a punishment to me these days. I could actually use the drop in my daily cyclone of calories. But the 9-year-old me would have been bummed out!

In Maurice Sendak’s Where The Wild Things Are, 9-year-old Max earns himself the no din-din due to some misbehavin’. I don’t recall the severity of his trespass in the book, but in the film adaptation, it’s pretty severe.

That’s a suitable word for Spike Jonze’s film version. It’s more severe than the book. And it’s incredible. Spike has made a wonderful film here. He takes the beloved, if short, source material and really creates something unique and something more. It’s like the book is the shallow end of the pool and the film is the deeper (scarier) end of the same pool. And Jonze jumps us off the high dive of emotion inside a boy living with his post-divorce family. What a great choice for the film!

Thankfully, I saw this movie with my friend, Scott Shiffman. We both earned our Broken Home Badge in scouts. I could identify with Max and his frustration and powerlessness. With a sister drifting away and a mom who was, at once, not there for me and all I had in the whole wide world. It’s enough to make a kid want to sail away to an island and live with wild things.

The Wild Things are just spectacular! I can’t say enough good stuff about them. The voice actors, the costumes, the measured use of CGI, it all added up to a seamless performance. I knew when I saw Peter Jackson’s Gollum and King Kong that movie tech had turned a corner and we would get some believable acting from CGI faces.

Max was played so well by actor Max Records. He was believable in both the painful and touching moments.

I gotta say that Catherine Keener is one of my favorites! She plays the mom and I just watched her in another Wild film, Sean Penn’s Into The Wild. malia-wtwtaShe has got something very familiar about her. Maybe she reminds me of my mom. Not sure.

My 6-year-old daughter, Malia’s Kindergarten class read the book this year and she REALLY wanted to see the movie. I’ve decided that it’s too intense and a bit scary at times for her to view in a theater. Maybe next year on our TV where I can monitor and fast forward some. Malia made this painting. I do NOT hate it and I DID NOT HATE WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE!

Maurice Send

It Might Get Loud


I had a sweet gig on Sunday night. Before I tell you about it, let me introduce the other players in my group.

On lead: Matt Knoles

On rhythm/lead (electric): Tom Hilzer

On rhythm (acoustic): Scott Anderson

On Bass: Brad McCarter

Band Manager: Tad Clark

Producer: Scott Shiffman


We saw Davis Guggenheim‘s IT MIGHT GET LOUD!! I’m not sure about the convenience of this truth, but the truth is, this film is cool! I was gonna write that this film rocked, but that was way too obvious. So instead I chose to go with the-so-much-more-creative “cool”. Oooo! Did you see what I did there? Guggenheim directed An Inconvenient Truth so I said the thing about the convenience and then I said “cool” and that movie was about Global Warming!! Booya!

I’m not a strong writer. I’m also not a strong guitar player and tonight proves it. Oh man! What a line up! We got to witness Jack White, The Edge and freaking Jimmy Page!! Each player bringing their own unique style and sound, each story inspiring . I found myself wanting to practice guitar WAY more. Tom said he was ready to get rid of all his guitars. See? Inspiring! Unlike this write up… I’m done! I DID NOT HATE IT!!

PS – The Ticket Stubs have decided to disband due to artistic differences. And Brad’s drug habit. And Matt is a show-off. And Tom and Scott Anderson fight constantly. And Scott Shiffman is working with the Jonas Bros. And Tad stole our money.

Inglourious Basterds

ibWhat’s the old saying? Never yell “Mein Fuhrer!” in a crowded theater? But what if the theater is full of Nazis? The bad kind. That’s one question faced by Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds.

Scott Shiffman and I went to see Quentin’s answer to this query. I was going to write that we couple of bastards went to see Inglourious Basterds, but I can only confirm that I barely know my dad. I’m not sure about Scott. Although, he may have been called that a time or two.

Being an astute filmmaker type guy, Scott noticed right away that Tarantino was crossing the lines in the opening scenes. To which I replied, “Totally. I was gonna totally say that, but just then, not because you did say that what I was gonna say the same thing.” I think Tarantino was employing that boo boo to make the movie feel like it was made in a bygone era, possibly by a filmmaker from another country, etc. He did that fairly successfully when coupled with some odd font choices in the  credits. He’s really good at that.

Brad Pitt is sehr gut as Lt. Aldo “The Apache” Raine, leader of an elite death brigade of angry Jews called the Inglourious Basterds. They call Aldo “The Apache” because his group engages the Nazis in what he describes as an Apache tactic of brutal killing that strikes fear into all who hear tales of it. I wouldn’t know about that because my dad named me Hopi after the peaceful Native American tribe. Hopi being the shortened version of Hopituh Shi-nu-mu, “The Peaceful People”. The Hopi didn’t do a lot of scalping, but these Nazi killing Jews sure did! A LOT. And I don’t mean selling sweet seats to Motorhead at a healthy markup over face value. I mean filleting a fair amount of a Nazi heads over their faces. Like with knives and whatnot. Yuck! Ich bin ein kranker, dude!

This is classic Tarantino in that the dialogue is great and full of tension and the violence flows like the wine of a place that is known for it’s wine flowing. Another great trait of Mr. Tarantino is casting. He has a terrific cast in place here and they are all strong. The incessant blood letting got to me after awhile, but it weren’t no surprise. That’s exactly what’s advertised: a hyper-violent revisionist revenge tale with a pile of dead Nazis on top.

I did NOT hate it, but I’m not sure I can sit through it again. War is Hell.

District 9

d9I need to apologize to the Metropolitan Theater Corporation for the large puddle of wiz I just left on my seat at the Metro 4. I couldn’t help it, you see, as I was watching District 9!

District 9 is a film set in modern day Johannesburg, South Africa. However, it’s an alternate modern day where, 20 years prior, a ginormous alien ship parked it right over Johannesburg* City. The alien race on the ship became malnourished and needed to be brought to the surface for help.

To make my movie going experience more authentic, I brought my very own South African, Greg Lawler! And to avoid our own malnourishment, Greg brought along the South African snack, Biltong! It was delicious and it was delightful to experience some of Greg’s homeland culture. I didn’t have the heart to tell him it was just expensive beef jerky. So, if you see him, tell him I told you I feel like his world neighbor or some crap.

OK, back to the aliens. The film takes place after the aliens have been segregated, mistreated and made to live in squalor for two decades. I won’t say how, but there ends up being some, Grade A, blowing-stuff-up with some of the most convincing CGI I’ve ever seen! Alien weapon tech and lots of it!

Now, before you get all “sci-fi nerd hater” on me, let me just say that

A. I don’t even speak Klingon

and B. This movie has heart and a message.

Watching District 9 was like playing the video game HALO while watching OPRAH. It was HALOPRAH!

Speaking of HALO, the writer/director, Neill Blomkamp, was in pre-production on a movie based on the HALO video game until the finances fell apart. That’s when the coolest Executive Producer EVER, Peter Jackson, listened to (his wife) Fran’s idea… Let’s make Neill’s short film into a feature film! 30 million dollars later, I’m sitting there geeking out and peeing myself at the same time!

I do know a few words of Elvish, but none that describe this incredible film.  I DID NOT HATE IT!

*Greg tells me I should refer to Johannesburg as “Joburg” if I want to sound cool. But this is the same guy who thinks Biltong is something more than beef jerky so I’ll take my chances. Also, he likes rugby.