Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Celebs Raid Adams Morgan, We Forget About The Real World DC For A Minute

Making a Movie

Courtesy Washington City Paper

Is DC jumping the Hollywood shark?

All of a sudden we’ve become the new Toronto or Vancouver in terms non-LA filming locations. Forget about the slew of reality shows including Real World DC which should of started filming at their house on the corner of S & 20th. Forget about SilverDocs, the film festival that’s eaten most of my time this week. We got a new Hollywood distraction in town this weekend!

If you have been living under a rock (or maybe the Bethesda Metro Station), filming on Untitled James L. Brooks Project (however it’s speculated that the title is How Do You Know?) has been under way in Adams Morgan for the past few days and will wrap up at the end of next week.

The cast is packed with names like Jack Nicholson, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon and Paul Rudd. Which has caused everyone in DC to momentarily stop planning ways on how to get into the MTV hot tub and into Paul Rudd’s pants. My friends have already had their own personal encounters with the cast: The Pumpernickel made eye contact with Rudd and my friend Sarah got to go on a bike ride with Owen Wilson.

According to DCist, “other scenes will be filmed inside the lobby and outside of the office building at 875 15th Street NW, aka The Bowen Building, for big chunks of the weekend — a security notice sent to workers in the McPherson Square-adjacent building says they’ll be there pretty much all day Saturday and Sunday, and then again overnight at the end of next week.” The film is expected out this December.

Here are some clips of the filming, note Paul Rudd was filming a scene for the movie and probably wasn’t really hit by a car- but when you are trying to walk DC it’s totally possible.




SilverDocs 2009: Sweethearts Of The Prision Rodeo Screens Today

It almost sounds like the plot of a bad action film.

Take a bunch of prisoners and throw them in a rodeo where they face off against angry bulls, ready to tear them apart. Sounds like a modern day gladiator bout but it’s reality at the Oklahoma Prison Rodeo which is billed as the world’s only “behind the walls” rodeo.

Sweethearts of the Prision Rodeo profiles the female inmates of the Dr. Eddie Warrior Correctional Center, as they train and compete while struggling to live a life behind bars. Director Bradley Beesley has spent his career documenting, “oddball Americana, strange sub-cultures, and homegrown rock stars.” He has no doubt found a very interesting story and subject with the ladies of the Oklahoma Prison Rodeo.

Even though Beesley is from Oklahoma, he was inspired while on the West Coast reading The Washington Post, “I was living in San Francisco and I read an article in the Washington Post, which announced that for the first time in Oklahoma State Prison Rodeo history female inmates would be competing against the male inmates.  Because I had already thought this would make a good short film and now that females were added, I was compelled.”

The film, selected for this year’s SXSW festival, screens this afternoon and on Sunday at SilverDocs, and the film has already been sold to HBO.


Sweethearts Of The Prision Rodeo
Showing at AFI SilverDocs
Friday June 19th, 4:30 PM

AFI Silver Theater
Sunday Jun 21st, 2:30 PM
Round House Theatre

SilverDocs 2009: Cooking History

Slovak director Peter Kerekes‘ film Cooking History starts out small, with a field kitchen starting a journey to…somewhere, by helicopter.

Then we meet our first group of soldiers, Russians who are learning how to cook in the field. If you are at all squeamish about where your food comes from, cover your eyes; these boys have to learn how to deal with what they find – from the field to the table.  And that’s the first clue that we’re in for a clever, unique, and darkly humorous ride.

Field Kitchen

Field Kitchen

The film presents groups of combatants from European wars from WWII to the Balkans, each telling a story from its own point of view. Our culinary veterans include German bakers and cooks, a Jewish provocateur, Russian soldiers and civilians, a Croatian military cook and Serbian civilians, Hungarian military cooks, Marshal Tito’s personal chef, and 2 Frenchmen: one a paratrooper and the other a conscientious objector. Each storyteller gives his or her unique perspective on the experience of war: sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes angry. Is war inevitable? They don’t know about that, but they do know that an army marches on its stomach!

The German baker sings an old Wehrmacht song, but then he smiles and tells Kerekes that “the heart of an old baker sings with joy when he can lay his loaves in the oven.” The French objector prepares coq au vin while the his paratrooper countryman walks around a grocery store finding items reminiscent of his ration packs. (Do French MREs contain baguettes? Rôti? Mmm…but I digress.) He talks about the terrible things the FLN rebels had done while acknowledging that the French soldiers were no saints either (but that’s another blog post) – and as he speaks, such acts are systematically enacted upon the chicken. Just when we are comfortable watching some friendly old folks tell their stories, here’s a closeup of a sausage grinder, or here’s the slaughter of an animal, ruthlessly reminding the audience that these friendly old folks are, after all, talking about war.

Throughout the film, each cook’s story is punctuated with a check on the field kitchen’s progress, and a recipe which corresponds to the story at hand: “Kommisbrot for 11 million German soldiers,” “Paprikash for 74,000 Serbian soldiers,” “Arsenic bread for 300 SS men,” or “Pork Cutlets for 19 drowned friends.”  In the end, the field kitchen goes nowhere and everywhere.

Cooking History is a unique and touching work, and if you get the chance, definitely worth watching.    It’s been making the rounds of festivals this season and I would be glad to see it in more general release soon.

Daily DC Item: Free Advance Screening Of "Whatever Works" Tonight!

While I’m busy hanging out at AFI SilverDocs, some of you maybe more interested in movies of fiction.

Tonight there will be a free advance screening of Whatever Works, the latest flick by Woody Allen and stars Larry David.

The screening will take place 7:30 PM tonight at the Regal Gallery Place Cinema. While it is free you have to RSVP for information and the pass.

I’m assuming deals like this are limited so act now!


SilverDocs 2009: Interview With Facing Ali Director Pete McCormack


Joe Frazier, one of the many that faced Ali

This morning I had the pleasure of talking with Pete McCormack, director of Facing Ali, a special feature last night at SilverDocs.

The bio piece on Muhammad Ali was done in a very unique way that I haven’t seen before. The entire piece tells the story of the famed boxer not through his words- but the words and stories of the people he fought. McCormack interviewed ten boxers that fought Ali throughout his career, each person bringing insight into the boxer dubbed, “The Greatest.” Each boxer tells not only his story and his encounter with Ali, but how their lives have changed because of it.

In a phone interview with McCormack, he tells me about his approach on adapting the book that the film is based on. McCormack included additional boxers that weren’t profiled originally (like Leon Spinks)  in order to create a complete time line that encompasses Ali’s entire boxing career.

“I used them as a conversation in the piece,” McCormack describes. ” On dealing with Ali’s current battle with Parkinson’s disease McCormack didn’t have any trouble bringing the subject up with his opponents because of the respect Ali has earned with his fighters. “They felt compassion for him… and he’s also changed their lives…” McCormack also reveals that he’s not only a film maker but he also dabbles in music and writing as well.

Facing Ali
Showing at AFI SilverDocs
Monday June 22nd, 8:00 PM
AFI Silver Theater

SilverDocs 2009: "More Than A Game" Profiles LeBron James And His High School "Fab Five"


Photo courtesy of Lionsgate

This year’s opening night selection for AFI SilverDocs started out as a college assignment for director Kristopher Belman.

A television production major at Loyola Marymount University, he decided to focus a project for his Documentary Production class on his hometown of Akron, OH and a group of basketball players that were quickly gaining attention on the National stage.

“Got me a B+, that was pretty cool,” Belman remarked after the last night’s opening screening.

The group of ballers he decided to film were The Fighting Irish of St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, who’s line-up included the  “Fab Five”: Dru Joyce, the small yet spunky son of the team’s coach; Romeo Travis, the loner and newcomer to the longtime clique; Sian Cotton, large and in charge- an athlete in both basketball and football; Willie McGee, a troubled teen who moved from Chicago to find a better life, and of course LeBron James, dubbed “The Chosen One” by Sports Illustrated, his rising profile would make him the superstar of an already talented team.

“More Than A Game” is not just a movie about LeBron James, but it’s about a group of five highly talented high schoolers and their friendship throughout their years as one of the Nation’s best high school teams. Something Belman fought to maintain, “people just wanted to write me a check and buy the all LeBron footage off me- they weren’t interested in having me direct anything or anything other than a highlight reel,” Belman told me in a phone interview this morning. Eventually Belman found backing through music producer Harvey Mason, Jr.


Photo courtesy of Yahoo! Sports

Belman spent seven and a half years working on the project, since first meeting the group in 2002. After Belman graduated college he took on day work and edited the film in his bedroom on a low-end Mac laptop. During all that time he followed the Fab Five’s path from becoming an unrecognizable D-III high school team, to State champions, to the National Championship Game.

What makes “More Than A Game” such a great piece is the well crafted story that Belman carefully put together. The real-life story of the Fab Five sounds like something you would see from a Hollywood script but is told through first-person interviews, news clips, and family photographs and video.


The Fab Five at last night's screening

While there is a challenge to tell a story where the ending is known, Belman manages to keep the audience on it on the edge of their chairs. As one cast member remarked after the screening, “when I was watching it just now, I didn’t even know if we’d win the championship game!” Whether they do or not is something you’ll just have to see for themselves.

Belman’s film making takes us into the behind the scenes of a basketball team that allows us to see raw, unfiltered moments of

emotion. Kristopher told me he managed to build a relationship and comfort level with the group that turned him into an unofficial member of the team, “I think it was the fact I was just college junior… he’s a kid just trying to get a good grade… they always called me cameraman for the first few years- I don’t even think they knew my name.”

The drama and emotion Belman captures builds to a powerful ending that didn’t leave a single eye dry in the theatre- not even mine. “More Than A Game” is truly a film worthy of it’s title. A masterpiece that captures the game of basketball and five boys as they come of age and realize that basketball is more than just a game- it’s the vehicle for a lifelong brotherhood.

More Than A Game
Showing at AFI SilverDocs
Sunday June 21st, 8:30 PM
AFI Silver Theater

DC Video: LeBron James And Cast Of "More Than A Game" Arrive At AFI SilverDocs

Last night I attended the opening night of AFI SilverDocs which kicked things off with a screening of “More Than A Game.” Director Kristopher Belman and the complete cast (including King James) walked the Red Carpet for the press and fans that tried to enter the Press pen to snap photos and scream questions. Sorry guys but I don’t think LeBron is here to talk about Kobe or the Orlando Magic. Also folks, leave the questions to the actual press.

Here’s the some video I shot while I was on the Red Carpet (trust me it sounds cool but I’ve done press lines like this one before, it’s always a fight.)


As of the film I’ll be posting a complete review of that later today, I just got off the phone with director Kristopher Belman and I’m currently trying to finish the piece up before I have to go back to Silver Spring- but I will say this: never has a basketball movie ever made me cry. Ever. Not even Air Bud.

This is an amazing film that’s really more than LeBron, and yes, more than a game. The film will be screening again this weekend, check the SilverDocs website for the complete schedule and ticket information.


SilverDocs 2009 Kicks Off Tonight With A King

2-marquisBefore everyone goes Real World DC crazy this week, SilverDocs is in town again to show you real reality drama.

The Festival will run from Monday, June 15 through Monday June 22 presenting 122 films from 58 countries. Some notable films include tonight’s opening screening of More Than A Game– Kristopher Belman follows five talented young basketball players from Akron, Ohio.  Led by future NBA superstar LeBron James and coached by a charismatic yet initially inexperienced player’s father, Dru Joyce III. King James is expected to grace the Red Carpet for tonight’s screening.

The festival will close with a piece that should be of local interest, The Nine Lives of Marion Barry. As any local should know, the former mayor has had his share of successes, failures, and returns. Directors Dana Flor and Toby Oppenheimer explore this enigma we call Marion Barry. The two directors and Councilman Barry himself should be in attendance this weekend.

You can view the complete schedules of films here. You can purchase tickets at the SilverDocs website, most screenings appear to be in the $10 range but if you are a real docu-junkie you can also get passes to the event, and related conferences and galas.

Amy and I will be in attendance all week so expect lots of recaps, reports, reviews, and if we’re lucky, maybe I’ll get to meet some basketball royalty.

Screen On The Green Is Back!

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Lonelycelltheory

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Lonelycelltheory

You read that headline right!

When news spread that the sponsors of the annual summer tradition backed out there was a large outcry over the thought of a summer without a weekly visit to The Mall to watch a movie. I was one of them- I never got the chance to experience what thousands of Washingtonians have, and I was afraid I never would.

Up until now.

“Trust for the National Mall Partners to Bring Back Screen on the Green” read the e-mail subject that caused me to drop what I was doing and write this post. My friends over at the Trust for The National Mall gave me heads up that they are teaming with Comcast to help HBO bring the series back for a 10th year.

The city was screaming for an outdoor movie series and HBO was listening. In the Washington Post article that also just published Quentin Schaffer, HBO’s executive vice president for corporate communications said, “there was an outpouring of people concerned that this wasn’t happening…” The release I received reads, “fervent fans of Screen on the Green expressed strong support and enthusiasm for continuing the event . On Facebook, local blogs and Twitter, the Washington, DC community resoundingly asked for the popular series to continue this year.”

The power of the people… and The Internet… and blogs…coming together for the greater good.

Ok so here’s what you need to know about the series:

  • Screen on the Green will be back on Monday evenings at sunset from July 20th – August 10th.
  • Classic films will once again be shown on a giant 20′ x 40′ outdoor screen on The National Mall between 4th and 7th Streets.
  • The screenings will remain free and open to the public.
  • The first film will be Close Encounters of the Third Kind, with the remaining movies to be named at a later date (UPDATE: WP speculates that HBO may take from the lineup of Bryant Park’s Screen on the Green and include films Dog Day Afternoon or Rebel without a Cause.)

Daily DC Item: Celebs Return To DC For Night At The Museum

If you are already down from the celebrity high that was caused with the past weekend’s White House Correspondent’s Dinner, then you can get another celeb fix tonight.

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, will be premiering at (where else) the Air and Space museum tonight and if you take a look at the cast, you know there will be an A-list on the red carpet.

The Going Out Gurus suggest waiting on the Jefferson Drive side of the museum if you want to gawk, scream, and beg for autographs. Guru Jen Chaney says don’t expect arrivals til 6:30 but you’ll want to get there by at least 5 if you want the chance to say hi to Amy Adams, or maybe you’ll get lucky and Ricky Gervais will accidentally sneeze on you.


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