Saturday, January 14, 2012

Important Message

I was reading an article on Amanda Hocking, a woman who published her novels online and made two million dollars. That’s a rather cool story, but for the rest of us, we all struggle to get our stuff out there. So, let’s help each other out. No, I can’t get you to a publisher or big time movie studio but I can give you a little bit of press on my blog. It’s not the New York Times, but I feel that it’s worth showcasing stuff. Need an un-biased opinion on your latest film or book? I will be able to provide that. Only books and films I feel deserve a positive review will be posted on my site. This is because I don’t want you to go through the trouble of sending me a film or book and then having a bad review published online. If I don’t give your work a good review, I will send you the review privately if you request it. That being said, I do not bite. I will try to give you good criticism, instead of malice. I would love to see your films and writing. I also would be able to give advice to people seeking to start their own writing blogs. Not all films or books will be able to be reviewed, and will not be able to be returned.

Send your videos, DVD’s and books to
Typewriter Riot,
P.O. Box 47
Elizaville, New York 12523.

Thank you, and happy trails

Saturday, January 7, 2012

'We Bought A Zoo' is Harmless

Two and a half stars

When it comes to family movies, I try to tone it down a bit unless it really deserves a bad review. “We Bought A Zoo” doesn’t really deserve a bad review. Film critics tend to take themselves a tad too seriously when it comes to certain films, and I’m trying to avoid that in some cases. I don’t like critics who come off as snobs when it comes to pictures that don’t deserve that kind of malice.

One of the displeasures of film critcism is criticizing a film that’s really harmless. The name of the film is “We Bought A Zoo”, and it’s directed by Cameron Crowe. Cameron Cowe has made some wonderful films like “Almost Famous” and “Jerry MaGuire”. “We Bought A Zoo”is a pure family picture. It’s harmless, and not bad, yet it’s also predicatable and a tad bit uninteresting.

The story is about a journalist named Benjamin Mae (Matt Damon).He has a 14 year old son named Dylan (Colin Ford), who gets expelled from school after trying to steal money. He has a cute seven year old daughter named Rosie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones), who is still trying to understand the death of their mother. He decides they need a new start and goes searching for a new house. After searching, he decides on a house. The real estate agent tells him that it’s a bit complicated. What’s so complicated about this place he asks. It’s a zoo, the real estate agent says . Being an adventurer, and an journalist, he decides that it’s worth the chance. In fact, when Kelly (Scarlette Johansson), the young zoo keeper who runs the place, asks him why he would take a chance doing something he knows nothing about, he smiles and answers “Why not?”

I guess there’s something to be said for the guy’s sense of adventure. He wants a new adventure for his family and says that throughout the movie. So he arrives at the zoo and meets the crew. The crew has a guy with a long beard and one character who has a monkey on his shoulder. That’s about how interesting the crew is. When there, his son meets Lily (Elle Fanning), who’s thirteen. Dylan and Lily automatically click, and we know the plot requires they will kiss. Also, we know the plot requires that Benjamin and Kelly will get together. For the zoo aspect, the
film has some nice animals in it. Although, the real plot of the film is Benjamin and his family trying to get over the death of his wife. The film is pretty predictable.

So, as they are trying to get over their mother, the zoo is faced with the problem of the upcoming inspection. The inspector (John Michael Higgins) is a bit of a jerk and the zoo tries to pull together to get approved. I understand this is really a kid’s movie, and I suspect the kids will like it. There’s some scenes in the movie of Dylan and his dad fighting. Yes, his son is a pain, but I guess you have to understand they are going through a tough time. There’s really not that much interesting plot. I mean, I can see people finding this film charming but it’s really nothing I haven’t seen before in another film. So, basically, take your 12 year old. It’s fine. Grab yourself a big bag of pop corn. If you and your family want a film that’s not going to offend, and basically be fine, than this should be O.K. I mean, afterall, this film is titled “We Bought A Zoo”.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year’s Resolutions I Will Keep (Well, Maybe)

Well, today is New Years Day. The day we all tell ourselves that this year is going to be our year (which is exactly what we said last year and the year before), but this year is going to be different. This year we are going to achieve more, read more, write more, exercise more, get a better job, find true love and achieve our goals. Well, at least, that’s what I tell myself every year. 2012 is going to be the year I become the person I always wanted to be. By 2013, you will no longer see the guy you hold before you. I will be the greatest by 2013. By 2013, I am a fit, good looking, wonderful and a fulfilled man. Well, at least I hope so. So, once again, let’s do the New Years Eve dance. The dance of self-fulfillment, Oprah style!

1. I’m going to write a book- I just read an article in the New York Times Magazine about the house of Christopher Paloini. By the time he was in his mid-20s, he had some 30 million copies sold of his fantasy series, The Inheritance Cycle. Heck, J.K. Rowling is only 46. I always wanted to write a book, and I promise myself every year that’s what I’m going to do. I love film, but my core love is the written word. I always wanted to write something cool, as well. Not some big depressing book that wins the Pulitzer. Although, some of my favorite books are just that. Nope. I want to write something in the spirit of a fantasy series or a science fiction novel or a book that’s just plain quirky. I’ve given it in a try in the past and gotten mixed reception. Maybe I shouldn’t pass around my work when it’s not finished. One of my favorite authors, William Gibson, once said that you have to tell the voice in your head that your work isn’t stupid in order to write fiction. If I could create some memorable characters that would be cool.

2. I’m going to get a job- This one just happens to be a plug for myself. I like to pretend on this blog I’m a professional, but in actuality I’m a recent college graduate. I’m also a freelance writer, and I write pieces. I've been writing for a long time. So, if so, I’m available for freelance and staff writing positions. Everyone can check out this blog, and see samplings of my work. Despite the fact that this blog is mostly about film, which I love, don’t pigeonhole me in that position. I’ll be more than happy to write feature pieces, profiles of local and national figures, interviews and articles on important topics. You can e-mail me at

3. I’m Going to Read More- I think every New Years Eve, we think this is the year of fulfillment. I’m not quite sure if that’s totally realistic as I sat on the couch, watching a marathon of The Big Bang Theory on TBS. Only to watch a marathon of The Honeymooners on PIX-11 the next day. For those of you in the New York area, you know the odd tradition we have. We watch a marathon of the Honeymooners on channel 11 starting at 12 on New Years Eve. Talk about outdated and politically incorrect, although it’s really funny. But that is just a New Year’s Day family tradition. Now that I’m out of college I’m going to read more of what I want to read and become more well rounded. I’m going to read all the bestsellers and books people have been raving over, as well as authors that are more obscure. I do truly love books. I spend most of my free time reading. I have so many books on my shelf waiting to be discovered. Reading is one of the few activities that is never a waste of time, and is enlightening as opposed to just merely entertaining.

4. I’m going to Exercise More- starting tomorrow, after I’ve written my book, gotten
a job and read more books; I’m going to exercise more. I’m going to be sweating to the music. Put on my I-Pod, and run. As my brother would put it, hit the gym hard. He says it helps him relax. I say sitting in my chair helps me relax. Well, no more. I’m going to get this body moving, and by next, year, I’m going to be in really good shape. Once I’m in shape, though, I’ll probably have to change my personality. I’ll have to care about how I dress. Yes, I’m ready to care about how I dress.

5. I’m going to Find a Hobby- I have a guitar along with a box of books in the “I’m Going To Change My Life” pile. I choose to ignore that pile most days but not anymore. Ok. I’m going to find another hobby besides whatever I’m doing now.

6. I’m Going to Be Fulfilled- Yes, we say this to each other every year. This is the year of fulfillment. The truth is that a resolution no one seems to make, is that maybe our resolutions should be being happier with who we are and what we have achieved already. I’m not saying you should settle, but gosh, people put so much stress on themselves to do better. I’m going to keep the resolutions I’ve made above, but I doubt this will be the year of Alec. Last year wasn’t the year of Alec, but it wasn’t a bad year. Not by a mile. I’m going to try to work out more, write a book, find a hobby, get a job, and read more. However, I’m going to not get crazy if I’m not totally fulfilled by 2014. I mean, is anyone really fulfilled totally (ok, don’t answer that). If you spend your life trying to fulfill yourself totally, you’ll go crazy. Life doesn’t really work that way. I hate to sound like a self help book, but hey, we are human, right?