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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