01 April 2009

Now on Twitter

Being that I've worked hard to retain my anonymity ever since I first got online in 1988 (via the very first social networking site the WELL (Stewart Brand's creation on which we had to communicate writing code in picospan), I never in a gazillion years thought I would be into twittering. After all, I really don't care about what you had for breakfast or how stupid you look when drunk, so why would twitter ever appeal to me?


But I tried it anyway and now I'm hooked. My weekly column at gather (for whom I've been a blogger on a paid retainer for a few years now) quadrupled it's pageviews after just 1 wee twitter about my most recent column: HollywoodPOV: "Digital 3D and Monsters vs. Aliens". So, that's reason enough for me.

You can see the full listing of all my column's for gather here.
You can find me on Twitter here. Follow me and if you're interesting I'll follow you.

12 February 2009

Finally Trying Out Scribe Fire

Let's see if I can type right in a Firefox subwin and pub directly to blogger via scribe fire. Here goes.
Wow, adding the scribe fire link was almost automatic.
ScribeFire - Blog Editor

13 May 2008

OVGuide.com - crazy & chaotic, but amazingly useful

When I first heard about OVGuide.com I couldn't wait to check it out. What a great idea to have all the video content available online in one convenient place to search from. I quickly signed on, got my own account, and started exploring.

Upon first glance OVGuide.com looks like it's a dream, but after really exploring OVG it seemed more like a nightmare. The site looks too chaotic; the homepage is overwhelmingly crowded with paid ads promoting all sorts of sites that have videos, live streaming TV sites from around the world, regular US broadcast TV, news, sports, etc.

OVG is simply a guide to other sites, a portal of portals is really what it is... and a way for the sites owners to make money selling expanded text ads. But it can also be very helpful to those of us who watch TV, films, and videos online.

At the top of their homepage they have a search engine, which you will immediately try to use to find a specific TV show, film, or video. I searched for a Showtime series WEEDS and was given 10 results of which only 3 actually carried complete episodes from the first 3 seasons of the show. Next I searched for an old favorite of mine HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES and got 20 results with only 3 sites that carried the show, but only had season 1 available to watch online. All the other results were for other HIGHLANDER films and trailers.

Next I searched for another Showtime series I watch THE L WORD. I immediately got 4 sites from their search engine and I was able to watch episodes I had missed the first time. I really appreciated this as I had been searching all over the net for the epi's I missed and could not find them anywhere. One quick search at OVG and I had a choice of sites to choose to watch my preferred show from.

Though the chaotic nature of OVG was off-putting at first, once I delved into it to try to find specific shows I was very impressed. After this experience I bookmarked OVGuide.com and plan on visiting it regularly. All they need now is for a zip code TV guide so I can also use their site as my own tv guide... my own online video guide.

I found OVGuide.com because I'm a bzzagent and it was suggested at their site. Read my frogpond review at bzz (if you want, but I've posted a much more complete review right here).

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20 April 2008

HOLLYWOOD POV: "Young At Heart"

© 2008 by Digital Dogs
March 27, 2008, 04:55 PM EDT

Forget those demographics that chase the false golden chalice of the male audience age 18-34. It's too bad all those demographic pundits are telling their clients to focus on a younger audience. Those clients are wasting their money and enriching the very people who don't know what they're doing by chasing a losing demo. The big bucks in this country are in the bank accounts and pockets of the quickly-aging Baby Boomers.

The best film of the year so far crosses all demographics and features a cast with an average age of 80. YOUNG AT HEART is an amazing feel-good documentary that won the doc competition at the 2007 Los Angeles Film Festival, and stars people who range in age from 72 through 95 who sing rock 'n roll classics with amazing ferver. They rock, they roll, they do it with humor and talent and a positive outlook on life that you will be inspired by.

YOUNG AT HEART is moving, touching, wonderful, and
inspiring and it's the perfect film to see with your entire family. And you heard it here first, YOUNG AT HEART is the first nomination-worthy documentary of 2008.

In 1982 a young boomer, Bob Cilman, living in Northampton, MA, was kicking around trying to create his life. He happily found a job with health insurance at an old age home and began applying himself. Soon a piano player came to Cilman and asked him if he could find something for him to do. Out of that trail of happenstance grew an amazing story that will remain with you as long as you live. That story is about the cover band, the Young @ Heart Chorus. The film YOUNG AT HEART brings us a story more memorable and more heart-achingly brave than any you will likely ever see on the big screen.

A few years ago the producing partner and wife (Sally George) of Brit director, Stephen Walker, dragged him to a London Young @ Heart performance (who wants to see old people singing rock songs anyway? he thought) and within minutes he was enthralled. He walked out with his head spinning and he and his wife began bouncing ideas off their heads. Off to Channel 4 they went with visions of a documentary singing in their heads.

In Spring 2007 their small documentary aired on Channel 4 in the UK. A few months later the producers entered it in competition at just one film festival in thte US, the Los Angeles Film Festival. The audience was packed and the small documentary went on to win its category. Someone in the audience had the ear of Fox Searchlight and an offer was made that lifted this small TV documentary out of obscurity and into a full length feature film with global distribution.

Fox Searchlight's money was put to good use by the filmmakers, they re-mastered their original video into 35mm, redid the sound entirely into surround sound and paid for clearing the expensive music rights for most of the songs they perform. The money was used wisely and the film is being released now in the US.

The filmmakers also made a few music video set pieces with their Fox Searchlight funds; one standout is The Ramones I Wanna Be Sedated which the chorus performed in a hospital and just has got to be seen to be believed, it's that good; another great set piece is David Bowie's Road To Nowhere. You can meet the Young @ Heart Chorus here in a Fox Searchlight video at youtube.

Some of the iconic rock songs covered by the Young @ Heart Chorus are simply amazing. Coldplay's Fix You is one of those mesmerizing moments, as is the chorus singing Bob Dylan's heartbreaking Forever Young to a prison audience right after they found out a long term member of the chorus had just passed away. The prisoners sat enthralled as the chorus gave new meaning to Dylan's words. Click on the links to watch the videos on youtube.

If you're like me, you'll feel the urge to write the titles down because you won't want to forget them, they're that good... I've listed them below so you don't have to, but I'm sure I've left a few out. Having older people at the twilight of their lives singing these songs gives a whole new meaning to the words of songs that already have so much meaning for so many of us; it's an entire new spin on the words that end up meaning even more and much more deeply. And boy can these oldsters rock on!

Here's a small sampling of the songs covered in the film along with the names of the groups/people whose songs they are (links are provided to watch the performance videos on youtube, don't miss them):
  • Fix You by Coldplay
  • Schizophrenia by Sonic Youth
  • I Wanna Be Sedated by The Ramones
  • Staying Alive by The BeeGees
  • Forever Young by Bob Dylan
  • Walk On the Wild Side by Lou Reed
  • I Will Survive by Glorai Gaynor
  • One Fine Day by David Byrne (Byrne sings with the chorus in this video)
  • Life During Wartime by David Byrne
  • I Feel Good by James Brown
  • Every Breathe You Take by Sting & the Police
  • In the Midnight Hour - now a standard sung by just about everyone
  • Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix
  • Oh Yes You Can, Can
  • Golden Years by David Bowie
  • Dancing in the Dark by Bruce Springsteen
  • Nothing Compares 2 U by Sinead O'Connor
  • Somebody To Love by Grace Slick of the Jefferson Airplane
  • Road To Nowhere by David Byrne
  • She's Not There by the Zombies

Don't let anyone tell you that our tax dollars should not go to help support the Arts, without funding from The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the city of Northampton the Young @ Heart chorus would likely not still be around.

If there's one life lesson to be learned by YOUNG AT HEART, it's that It's never too late to fulfill your dreams. Allow yourself to be inspired. If ever there was a film that deserved your movie-going bucks YOUNG AT HEART is it.

Digital Dogs rating: A

MPAA rating: Rated PG for some mild language and thematic elements.

Running Times: 107 minutes

Producers Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Sally George, Stephen Walker, Director Stephen Walker, DP Edward Amrritz, Actors Bob Cilman, Young @ Heart Chorus
© 2008 by Digital Dogs

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HOLLYWOOD POV: BAFTA/LA British Comedy Festival: You're Invited to Free Screenings of RUN FAT BOY RUN, HOT FUZZ, and MAGICIANS

April 18, 2008 06:31 PM EDT
© 2008 by Digital Dogs

Living in Los Angeles just can't be beat. We've got perfect weather, access to great art museums, fantastic restaurants, tons of movie theaters showing the latest films that haven't even opened up in most other cities, a blossoming theater scene, amazing shopping and we're even developing our own Fashion Week (look out Manhattan, here comes LA!). We have the ability to surf the waves at the beach and then drive up the mountain to ski... all in just one day. We've even got multiple Farmer's Markets held in every city and neighborhood every day of the week. How can any other city beat that?

Industry screenings are another plus for those of us lucky enough to work in the filmbiz; one of many perks Hollywood insider's can take advantage of. And now you have an opportunity to take advantage of the same great perk too. As part of the 2008 BritWeek celebrations, BAFTA/LA is hosting the inaugural BAFTA/LA British Comedy Festival Presented by British Airways. Comedy has long been one of the UK's most acclaimed entertainment exports, and this festival will honor the best of Britain's film and television comedies from 2007. The Fest takes place from Monday, April 28 through Wednesday April 30, 2008... and you're invited!

BAFTA/LA are inviting the general public to join in their celebration of British comedy and these three screenings are free for you plus one guest. You can't cast a vote (only BAFTA/LA members can), but you can enjoy three free British comedy features which will be screened along with a few short Brit TV comedy episodes from a variety of nominated shows. No RSVP is required to attend, and seating is on a first-come first-served basis so be sure to get there early to secure yourself a seat.

Over the past few weeks, a select panel of top UK-based comedy talent chaired by Michael Hurll has short-listed 10 television programs, 5 films, and a list of comedy performers. This short-list is currently being judged by a panel of U.S. based comedy talent and executives.

The film panel includes Judd Apatow, Jake Kasdan, Adam Shankman, Nicholas Stoller, Steve Gaydos and Elizabeth Guider. The television panel includes Greg Daniels, Bill Hilary, Jeff Ingold, Al Jean, David Kissinger, Mike Schur, Mike Scully, Wendy Trilling, Dana Walden and Jane Wiseman.

Once the finalists are decided, the Voting Members of BAFTA/LA will receive screeners of the short-listed titles and be asked to vote for the winning Film and TV program. The finalists will be screened in late April, and the winners will be honored at an Awards ceremony on May 1st.

Members are now submitting their votes for the inaugural BAFTA/LA British Comedy Festival, and of course, the BAFTA/LA members already have special DVD screeners of these films. The nominated titles will be screened at three special Festival screenings that are open to the general public:

Monday, April 28 7:30pm
Screening of RUN FATBOY RUN and an episode of EXTRAS
Writers Guild of America Theater
135 S. Doheny Drive, Beverly Hills

Tuesday, April 29 7:30pm
Screening of HOT FUZZ and an episode of THE IT CROWD
Writers Guild of America Theater
135 S. Doheny Drive, Beverly Hills

Wednesday, April 30 7:30pm
Screening of MAGICIANS and episodes of GAVIN & STACEY and LITTLE BRITAIN.
Directors Guild of America Theater
7920 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles

Just remember, you won't be able to buy popcorn, and the WGA and DGA Theaters do not allow food of any kind in the theater (and that's a good thing! It means you won't have sticky shoes when you leave.)

It's a real pleasure for me to be able to invite you all to enjoy these free screenings! ENJOY!



Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is the finest cop London has to offer, with an arrest record 400% higher than any other officer on the force. He's so good, he makes everyone else look bad. As a result, Angel's superiors send him to a place where his talents won't be quite so embarrassing - the sleepy and seemingly crime-free village of Sandford.

Once there, he is partnered with the well-meaning but overeager police officer Danny Butterman (Nick Frost). The son of amiable Police Chief Frank Butterman (Jim Broadbent), Danny is a huge action movie fan and believes his new big-city partner might just be a real-life "bad boy," and his chance to experience the life of gunfights and car chases he so longs for. Angel is quick to dismiss this as childish fantasy and Danny's puppy-like enthusiasm only adds to Angel's growing frustration. However, as a series of grisly accidents rocks the village, Angel is convinced that Sandford is not what it seems and as the intrigue deepens, Danny's dreams of explosive, high-octane, car-chasing, gunfighting, all-out action seem more and more like a reality. It's time for these small-town cops to break out some big-city justice.

Written by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright
Directed by Edgar Wright
Starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Paddy Considine, Steve Coogan, Timothy Dalton, Paul Freeman, Bill Nighy, Lucy Punch, Anne Reid, Billie Whitelaw, Stuart Wilson and Edward Woodward

Rated R, Running time 121 min


Five years ago Dennis (Pegg) was at the altar about to marry Libby (Newton), his pregnant fiancée. He got cold feet and ran for the hills and he's been going in circles ever since. When Dennis discovers Libby's hooked up with high-flying-go-getter Whit (Azaria), he realizes it's now or never. He enters a marathon to show he's more than a quitter but then finds out just how much sweat, strain and tears it takes to run for 26 miles. Nobody gives him a chance but Dennis knows this is his only hope to more than a running joke.

Directed by David Schwimmer
Written by Michael Ian Black
Starring Simon Pegg, Hank Azaria, Ameet Chana, Dylan Moran, Thandie Newton, Harish Patel

Rated PG-13, Running time 97 min


Lifelong friends Harry and Karl (David Mitchell and Robert Webb) are the greatest magic double act in the country. But after a guillotine illusion goes horribly wrong, their friendship and careers are finished. Now, out of luck and totally broke, Harry sets his sights on the prize money of the prestigious 'International Magic Shield' tournament. But to win he will have to compete against the world's weirdest magicians - including his deadly rival Karl, performing as the psychic "Mindmonger". Can new tricks and a new assistant (Jessica Stevenson) help Harry triumph?

Directed by Andrew O'Connor
Written by Jesse Armstrong & Sam Bain
Starring David Mitchell, Robert Webb, Jessica Stevenson, Darren Boyd, Steve Edge, Andrea Riseborough and Peter Capaldi.

Rated 15 (UK), 97 Min
© 2008 by Digital Dogs

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27 March 2008

2007 YEAR END MOVIE REVIEW: Digital Dogs Grades the Films of 2007

Everyone has an opinion, and everyone who sees a film has an opinion.

Here’s Digital Dogs’ call on the films of 2007.

E-Ticket Rides

28 Weeks Later
Die Hard 4.0: Live Free or Die Hard

I Am Legend
Transformers: The Movie


OF 2007:

The A List

3:10 To Yuma
Amazing Grace
American Gangster
A Mighty Heart
Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, The
Brave One, The
Bourne Ultimatum, The
Bucket List, The

Charlie Wilson’s War
Die Hard 4.0: Live Free or Die Hard
Diving Bell and the Butterfly, The


Hot Fuzz
Hoax, The
I Am Legend
Into the Wild

La Vie en Rose
Lust, Caution
Rescue Dawn
Transformers: The Movie


OF 2007:

The B List

28 Weeks Later
Away From Her
Blades of Glory
Darjeeling Limited, The
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Eastern Promises
Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Golden Compass, The
Gone, Baby, Gone
Great Debaters, The
I’m Not There
In the Shadow of the Moon
In the Valley of Elah
Kingdom, The
Kite Runner, The
Miss Potter
Music Within, The
National Treasure: Book
of Secrets
Namesake, The
No Country For Old Men
Oceans 13
Reign Over Me

There Will Be Blood
Savages, The
Simpsons Movie, The
Spiderman 3
Smokin’ Aces
Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
Water Horse: Legend of the Deep



OF 2007:

The C List

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
December Boys
Grace Is Gone
Invasion, The

Knocked Up
Lions For Lambs
Lucky You
Michael Clayton
Mist, The
Number 23, The
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
Reservation Road

Things We Lost in the Fire


THE BOTTOM TEN FILMS OF 2007: The D List, an incomplete grade

Don’t even waste your money on renting these losers...

Grindhouse – Yet another violent, unwatchable and incomplete film by the most over-rated director of all time, Quentin Tarantino. Folks, there’s a reason he has a hard time writing one complete film… he can’t! Stringing multiple stories together without reason does not make a feature length film, no matter which starlets you walk down the red carpet and no matter what kind of advance press you manage to get. The Robert Rodriguez section works much better.

Margot at the Wedding – Starring Director Noah Baumbach’s real-life wife Jennifer Jason Leigh and a botoxed-botched Nicole Kidman, this film was painful to watch because of detestable characters, ridiculous plot, and uneven direction.

Reaping, The - A painful waste of Hilary Swank’s talent.

Wind That Shakes the Barley, The – An important film about the beginnings of the IRA that was ruined by incomprehensible dialog. This film would have been more interesting were there subtitles. Please tell us director Ken Loach….exactly how many people in the world do you think are fluent in Irish? Don’t you think an important film deserves to be understood by your audience?

Youth Without Youth – A complete embarrassment for director Francis Ford Coppola and actor Tim Roth. This is a clear case of an auteur director indulging his fantasies in a confusing plot while forgetting that an audience has to be able to make sense of what’s going on. The look is beautiful, but the film is painful to see.


© 2008 by Digital Dogs


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It's Hard to Keep Up

It's getting real hard to keep up this blog. For the past year I've been a paid blogger on retainer with a weekly column called HOLLYWOOD POV at gather.com. It's lovely to be recognized as having something worthwhile to say, and it's even more lovely being paid to blog. But finding the time to see the number of films I see each year is hard on it's own, then add in the time it takes to do the research, getting the photos, doing the interviews, listening to the Q&A's, and of course, it takes even more time publishing to a few different blog sites (blogcritics, rotten tomatoes, gather, here). And of course, then there's life that always seems to get in the way.

So if you want to keep up with what my column, please go n read it at gather: DigitalDogs.gather.com and please forgive me for not having the time to keep up blogging here regularly.

18 January 2007

MOVIE REVIEW: "Letters From Iwo Jima" and "Flags of Our Fathers"

Letters From Iwo Jima and Flags of Our Fathers are two full-length feature films that deserve to be screened together. They both tell the story of the battle for a small volcanic island, Mount Suribachi, in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Letters From Iwo Jima takes us to the island and shows us the gritty and challenging problems of living on and defending a volcanic island from the Japanese POV; Flags of our Fathers gives us the opening two days of the battle and then brings the story back to the States to tell the American soldiers personal stories on an Iwo Jima Tour in the USA.

Director Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby, Unforgiven, Mystic River, Bird), rather than resting on his laurels as an American treasure, captures the heart of the story with his focus on the real story of both sides. Flags of Our Fathers is based on a New York Times best-selling book by James Bradley and Ron Powers published in May 2000 by Bantam Books. It’s about five United States Marines and one United States Navy Corpsman (a medic) who were made famous by award-winning news photographer Joe Rosenthal in his memorable photograph of the flag raising at Iwo Jima. John Bradley was the son of the navy corpsman, and it through his voice-over that Eastwood tells the story of one moment caught in time in an iconic photograph of six men who raised an American flag over Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima on February 23, 1945. While most everyone has seen the photo at some point in their lives, few know the real story behind the one captured moment in the photograph. Eastwood sets out to enlighten us.

Letters From Iwo Jima (formerly titled Red Sun, Black Sand) was based on two Japanese books; Picture Letters from Commander in Chief by Lieutenant General Tadamichi Kuribayashi, and Sadness in Dying Gracefully by Kumiko Kakehashi. The story follows General Kuribayashi (played by the always wonderful Ken Watanabe) as he tries in vain to organize the defenses of his isolated and unsupported troops, and that of his good friend and former comrade in the cavalry, the aristocratic Lieutenant Colonel Takeichi Nishi (Tsuyoshi Ihar), a 1932 Olypmic athlete and Gold Medal winner for Show Jumping. The audience will most identify with a lucky young draftee, Private Saigo (Kazumari Ninomiy), who yearns to return to his wife and newborn child back on the Japanese mainland, and who buried the letters we are reading. The men write these letters home telling their stories to their families, never knowing if any of the letters will ever reach their destination.

Letters shows us the horrid and claustrophobic conditions the Japanese were forced to survive in; they had to dig out the remains of the volcano’s lava tubes to create tunnels they could both live in and fight from to defend their land from what they considered to be the American invaders. The Japanese had little water, less food, and absolutely no support from their mainland; as they bicker among themselves we see flashbacks establishing the characters’ pasts and their repressive and restrictive society. They were suspicious and anxious and the stress forced them to turn on each other and override commanding orders. They faced an overwhelming American fleet and armed force that they could not match. In a horrific scene towards the end Eastwood shows us what they felt they had to resort to, and it is in this scene where both films collide in explanation.

Both Letters and Flags were shot concurrently at the same location in Iceland and it certainly does look like hell on this Iwo Jima. Iceland was only other place on earth with a similar terrain and appropriate sulfurous smoke trailing up to the sky from any crack in the ground. Eastwood chose to shoot Letters in a very desaturated manner, effecting a color-less black and white view of the island while Flags was shot with a more colorful look.

In Flags, for the US soldiers caught in the famous Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph by Joe Rosenthal the war for Iwo Jima was only just beginning; the first of two flags that were raised was only after the first few days of a fight for the island that actually went on much longer. Only three of the six men survived the assault and the two surviving Marines and the one surviving Corpsman were pulled out of action and sent back to the U.S. to bolster sales for the government’s seventh war bond tour. Through their efforts they were able to raise $24 billion for the war effort though their war at home and within themselves continued on after they returned.

But these men couldn’t leave behind their friends they fought with and they felt guilty every step of the way once they left Iwo. They were selected to be heroes, but they never felt they had done anything heroic. Their compromises with the truth leave them troubled and in emotional pain. Hayes can’t stop drinking and all three men can’t stop thinking about the men they left behind on Iwo Jima. Confusion about exactly which soldiers were actually in the photo – and the fact that there were actually two different flags raised - only added to their personal problems.

The men were ill prepared for the war bond tour or the greeting they received and felt guilty that they had been forced to leave their units behind. Their guilt is best typified by the complex and enigmatic Marine, Ira Hayes, a Native American played with great fluidity by the excellent Adam Beach (Windtalkers, Smoke Signals), which just might garner a Supporting Actor nomination for his work here. On the other hand, Ryan Phillippe (Crash, Cruel Intentions, Gosford Park, I Know what You Did Last Summer) plays Corpsman John “Doc” Bradley in a performance could have easily been phoned in, and it is his character’s son that narrates this film. Phillippe just does not have the gravitas necessary to play grownup men, nor does he have the acting chops to create a believable war hero. It’s a shame casting went so awry and he ended up in the lead role. He plays the role with the same expression for the full 132 minutes of this film.

Director Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby, Mystic River, Unforgiven, Bridges of Madison County, Bird) does his usual spare job in Flags, preferring to leave the actors to relate to bring out the spirit of the characters they play. Where Eastwood really excels is in the huge establishing shots of the American fleet steaming their way towards their destiny on the tiny island of Iwo Jima. What is most interesting is his meditation on the chaos and horrors of war, heroism, and inside look at instant media darlings created for ratings. The close-in fighting scenes are graphic and shocking, and we see the men who died in this battle were little more than boys themselves. Eastwood’s score is haunting and his music appropriate and memorable for this meditation on the chaos of war.

Eastwood makes the war personal in Flags as the film opens with a shot of a sailor falling off a carrier. The first thing we learn about war is that these ships can’t stop to pick up anyone who falls. The men on the ship toss a life preserver at him as they watch him struggle in the wake of the big boats that won’t stop to save his life. The battle scenes are close and dirty and pure chaos, the beach landings dangerous, the caves of Iwo swarming with dug-in Japanese soldiers, and the scenes of the U.S. fleet in the bay are huge.


Eastwood truly excels when he turns to the Japanese story in Letters. A brilliant nuanced performance by the charismatic Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai, Memoirs of a Geisha, Tampopo) shows the deft touch of a director and actor working in synergy; the rest of the Japanese cast is equally as compelling. If there were an award for Best Actor in a Foriegn-Language Film, Watanabe would be a shoo-in.

Letters From Iwo Jima is the more moving and emotionally honest of the two films and it’s somewhat ironic that Eastwood does his best work in a Japanese-language film with a non-English speaking cast. His touch is deft and sure, intimate and broad, and one can only look forward with anticipation to his next outing. It's a particular joy to see such a creative genius still being relevent, interesting, not to mention physically tough enough at 76 to still challenge his own artistic expression in making two films in two different languages back to back. Both Flags and Letters deserve a screening and together serve as a complete a picture as could be possible of one historic moment in time from both perspectives.

Another triumph for Eastwood puts Letters From Iwo Jima in the front-runner position for Oscars Best Foreign Language Film of the Year

Letters From Iwo Jima:

Digital Dogs rating: A

MPAA rating: Rated R for graphic war violence.

Running Time: 142 minutes

Producers Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Steven Speilberg, Director Clint Eastwood, Screenplay & Story Iris Yamashita, Story Paul Haggis from the book Picture Letters from Commander in Chief by Tadamichi Kuribayashi, Editor Joel Cox, Gary Roach, DP Tom Stern, Original Music Kyle Eastwood, Michael Stevens, Actors Ken Watanabe, Saigo, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Ryo Kase, Shido Nakamure, Hiro Watanabe, Takumi Bando

Flags of Our Fathers:

Digital Dogs rating: A-

MPAA rating: Rated R for sequences of graphic war violence and carnage, and for language.

Running Time: 132 minutes

Producers Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Tim Moore, Steven Speilberg, Director Clint Eastwood, Screenplay William Broyles Jr, Paul Haggis, Editor Joel Cox, DP Tom Stern, Original Music Clint Eastwood, Actors Ryan Phillippe, Jesse Bradford, Adam Beach, Barry Pepper, Jamie Bell, Robert Patrick, Judith Ivey, Harve Presnell, George Hearn, Len Cariou, Gordon Clapp, David Clennon, David Rasche


© 2006 by Digital Dogs


16 January 2007

MUSIC & ENTERTAINMENT REVIEW: NAMM - The Largest Music Products Trade Show in the World

fileId:3096224744005575;size:inter;The Winter Session NAMM show, January 18 – 21, 2007, is the largest music products trade show in the world. Held every year in January at the Anaheim Convention Center in California, the show brings everyone in the music products industry together for a big blow-out trade show featuring new products, live performances, drum circles, impromptu performances at the many booths, industry meetings, round table discussions, and professional development courses called NAMM University classes.

NAMM has a smaller show they call their Summer Session which is a full one third the size of the Winter Show, and it focuses more only on industry meetings and professional development courses. NAMM is not open to the general public; it is open for people in the music trade only, so if you’re interested in going speak to your local music merchandisers to ask for a day pass.

NAMM originally abbreviated the name of the organization, the National Association of Music Merchants, but has evolved from a national entity focused on music products, to a huge international bacchanal of all things music, from new products, to new performers, including commercial and retail affiliates.

NAMM takes over the entire huge Anaheim Convention Center and if you haven’t already booked your hotel room you will find getting a room a problem at this point. Performances take place all day long at various locations throughout the Convention Center, nearby hotels, and at the hundreds of booths where performers appear at the companies they rep product for. Here’s a sampling of just a few performances that will take place at NAMM...

Thursday 18 January

  • 5:30pm – 6pm - Anaheim Convention Center Lobby - Rhodes Tribute: Jeff Lorber, George Duke, Patrice Rushen perform jazz, R&B, funk, fusion, and pop music in a special NAMM tribute in honor of the late Harold Rhodes.
  • 6pm – 12m - JT Schmidt’s Restaurant & brewery, 2610 East Katella, Anaheim - The 2007 Bass Bash: High energy, world class bass performance featuring Alex Al, Jake Kot Ensemble, David Dyson & Friends, Todd Johnson, and more.
Friday 19 January
  • 9am – 10am – Anaheim Convention Center Lobby – The Wicked Tinkers.
  • 11am – Peavey Electronics Booth #5740 – Jerry Donahue clinic.
  • 11am – 4pm – Back of Hall E, Booth #1897 – NAMM World’s Fastest Drummer Competition - takes place everyday throughout the Convention.
  • 12n – 1pm - Anaheim Convention Center Outdoor Stage, Between Halls B&C – US Army Band.
  • 1pm – 4pm– Seymour Duncan Booth #4358 – artists scheduled to appear include Slash, Warren DiMartini, George Lynch, Dave Mustaine, Scott Ian.
  • 2pm – Peavey Electronics – Joe Satriani will sign autographs.
  • 5pm – 6pm - Anaheim Convention Center Lobby – NAMM Jam ’07 – a big Jam with musicians who have played in such world-class bands as Yes, The Ventures, Spencer Davis Group, Mungo Jerry, Alabama, The Doobie Bros, Steely Dan, Steppenwolf, Toto, Alice Cooper, Billy Idol, Kiss.
  • 5:45pm – 7pm – Hilton Hotel, Outdoor Plaza - All-Industry Drum Circle sponsored by Remo drums and facilitated by Remo Signature Artist and the Father of the Modern Drum Circle Movement, Arthur Hull. This is a FREE event open to the public; you don’t need a NAMM pass to attend. If you live nearby you should definitely drop by. Drums and percussion provided free courtesy of Drum Circle sponsor Remo.

Saturday 20 January

  • 11am Glen Dover from Megadeath will appear at Kahler International Booth #5727.
  • 12n Kerry King from Slayer will appear at Kahler International Booth #5727.
  • 1pm Jerry Cantrell from Alice in Chains will appear at Kahler International Booth #5727.
  • 1pm – 3pm - Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue will appear at the Basson Sound Booth #5000.
  • 3pm – 5pm – Artist signings (including Louie Bellson, Luis Conte, Gregg Bissonette, Kenny Aronoff, Mick Fleetwood, Max Weinberg, Aaron Spears, Alex Acuna) will take place at the Avedis Zildjian Company Booth # 2940.
  • 7:30pm – 10pm – Hilton Anaheim, California Ballroom D - Muriel Anderson’s All Star Guitar Night – with a Silent Auction that benefits the Music For Life Alliance – Get FREE tix at the sponsors booths: GHS Strings, Sony Pro Audio, Sony Media, Audio Technica, Auralex, TrueFire, Reverend Guitars.

fileId:3096224744005582;size:inter;If you’re into Santana check out the LP Booth as their percussionists use the booth as their home field while at NAMM. You could easily find yourself deep in conversation with greats like Giovanni Hidalgo, who is also an LP artist. Check on the nearby Remo booth for other drummers like Arthur Hull, Paulo Mattioli, Adrian Young, Carter Beauford, Rick Allen, Alessandra Belloni, John Bergamo, Jason Bonham, and Stewart Copeland.

This is just a small sampling of the NAMM haps, if you’re lucky enough to snag a pass (ask your local music store or music merchandiser if they can loan you one for a day) be sure to check the program for a list of updated appearances. There are tons of cool products you can purchase to take home, and much swag along the lines of stickers, magnet-thingys, Tshirts, and other stuff you can win at the many booths. If you’re into music and live in SoCali you should definitely not miss NAMM.

(Registration is in Hall E and the NAMM Idea Center open at 9:30 a.m. each day of the show)

Anaheim Convention Center
800 West Katella Avenue
Anaheim, CA 92802


Thursday, January 18 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Friday, January 19 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Saturday, January 20 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Sunday, January 21 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Jan. 17 - 20, 2008
Jan. 15 - 18, 2009
Jan. 14 - 17, 2010


© 2006 by Digital Dogs