Forget the Oscars this weekend - today I proudly offer the work of some incredibly talented filmmakers and performers from right here in East Tennesse who have made their first entry into YouTube's vast arena.
It has been my honor and pleasure for many years to work with a dozen or so talented writers/directors/performers who created a hilarious series of short films, parodies and much more, which we broadcast for several years via the public access channel in Knox County, under two titles, either "Full Frontal Comedy" or "Thwack!". The show earned a national cable access award for Best Original Programming, but more important it gave all of us much joy to create and share our combined efforts, as each of us took turns as directors/writers and performers for the many segments of each episode. Everything made for the series was shot here in East Tennessee.
Yesterday, one of these efforts got uploaded to YouTube. I am not in this one, did not help with the shoot, but as I said, many people worked to provide probably 40 hours worth of half-hour episodes, and I am happy to present this one. More are on the way. (Of the many videos created, I was most proud of two I shot and wrote called "Green Eggs and Hamlet," and also "A Clockwork Big Orange" and not to brag, but my performance as ExLax Luthor in an episode of "Pooperman" was just damned Oscar-worthy, and hopefully one of them may make a YouTube debut in the near future.)
I am deeply proud of all the work made for the entire catalog.
And since these were made some years ago, let me just set this up for you -- think of the movie "Free Willy" --
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News was made this week as plans were announced for a remake of "The Day The Earth Stood Still." I admit there are many possibilities for a remake to touch on the current paranoia and xenophobias of America 2008 (the release date) ... but it will take much genius and talent to improve one minute of the original.
Back to the topic of movies made here in Tennessee, I finally got to see the shot-in-Memphis award winning movie "Hustle & Flow." I was rather skeptical going in to this movie, but it is a fantastic tale of urban life and the dream of rising away from it into something more. Terence Howard delivers a riveting and powerful performance as a low-rent pimp who sees a chance to turn his despair-filled life into a life with meaning. Also, filmmaker Craig Brewer has a subtle but powerful eye for capturing the look and feel of Memphis streets.
I found it much better than a rap-to-riches movie like "8 Mile", since the audience is frequently reminded that this pimp's dreams seem more fueled by ignorance than reality. The ending too, underscores the idea that fame and success is often obtained by life and death struggles. A viewer might think the movie will take them to some fantasy happy ending, but the ending is steeped in irony and the entire film is simply far more than the sum of it's parts.
Brewer has a new film set to open in a few weeks, "Black Snake Moan," starring Samuel Jackson and Christina Ricci. Set in Tennessee, the story centers on some real hard luck characters in a dismal world and again music, in this case, blues music, is a path to personal redemption. Early reviews say Brewer has made yet another diamond in the rough.
If you are one of those folks who have sooooo many DVDs that keeping track of them all in an easy-to-find location is a daunting task, then check out the latest from Atomic Tumor. AT has been experimenting with the best ways to make the discs easy to store and to find -- with warnings aplenty for achieving success.
As for the Oscars - is it time we rename them the Annual Eastwood vs Scorsese Contest? No matter how much or how little the Oscars matter to some, I will watch them, as I do every year.