Archive for the “Movies” Category


Nope, not the awkwardly creepy Devo music video, but the directorial debut of Drew Barrymore hits theaters this October 9th.  It stars two of my favorite actresses, Ellen Page of Hard Candy and Juno fame, and the very funny Kristen Wiig.  Yep, I can hardly wait…

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If you love the Harry Potter books and movies, then you may be interested to learn more about the universities throughout the United Kingdom that inspired the story. Want to learn more about the setting for the newest film? Ever wonder who designed Hogwarts, or which British professor was the source for Albus Dumbledore?

Well, you can find the answers to these questions and more on the British Council’s website which features behind the scenes trivia for the latest installment, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, as well as the rest of the series.  And if you’re interested in studying filmmaking, animation, or set design, you can find out which UK universities contributed to the creation of the films.

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Earlier this year, I posted a link to the Save Me A Spot in College Scholarship Contest, and now I have to share a video from one of the grand prize winners.  I think it is truly awesome!

You Gotta Get in Line - Orange County - Middle School - Grand Prize Nominee from Campaign for College Opportunity on Vimeo.

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I’m a huge advocate of using film to raise awareness about important issues, so I was super excited to hear about Scenarios USA, a non-profit organization that holds an annual story, play, and scriptwriting contest for youth (ages 12-22) called “What’s the REAL DEAL?”  Teens have the opportunity to share their perspectives on the issues that today’s youth face, and the winning entries are then directed and produced by some of Hollywood’s finest talent and are ultimately distributed at film festivals, high schools, and other outlets across the country.  Some of last year’s films were directed by Joshua Marston (Maria Full of Grace), Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity), Rawson Marshall Thurber (Dodgeball), and Gina Prince-Blythewood (The Secret Life of Bees).

These short films address topics like communication, relationships, and decision-making and open up conversations about issues like STDs, teen pregnancy, body image and a host of other experiences written from a teen’s perspective. You can check out the inspiring short films on the Scenarios USA website, and I’ll be sure to keep you posted on the next contest deadline.

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I love discovering new documentaries–it helps inspire me in my own project First Generation, and I think that stories of real people surmounting obstacles can be a great force in social change.  This documentary from Bruce Willis and Queen Latifah looks to be one of those films. The Hip Hop Project follows the story of a former homeless teenager who inspires New York City teens to find an artistic way to share their struggles and triumphs with others.  100% of the net profits from the film are being donated to organizations that help youth. Check out the film’s website for information about screenings, soundtrack, and their DVD release, and let me know what you think.

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Today is the official start of The Sundance Film Festival, but in another part of the world (Seattle, to be exact) one film festival is still accepting submissions through January 30th.  The only catch is that the films have to be made by individuals 22 and under!  NFFTY or the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (pronounced “nifty”) is one of few youth-generation film festivals in the country and lately it has received a lot of support from industry heavyweights like The CW Network, HBO, and Participant Media.  From their website–

NFFTY was founded by 17-year-old Jesse Harris who wrote and directed Living Life, financing the film with his college savings.  The experience led him to team up with other young Seattle artists Jocelyn R.C. and Kyle Seago and the youth-oriented festival was born.  Now in it’s 3rd year, NFFTY will feature 75+ films in its April 24-26th festival.  If you can’t meet this year’s January 30th deadline, start planning ahead for NFFTY 2010.  It sounds like a pretty awesome experience for youth filmmakers.

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Just wanted to give a shout-out today to all the seniors who are anxiously awaiting those early admission decisions which are starting to trickle in this week. If you’re looking for ways to a) distract you from the impending news, b) celebrate getting in, c) console yourself over a defer or rejection, or d) just avoid working on those regular decision apps, check out some of my picks for weekend diversions.

1. Get a head-start on your Oscar pool research.  You could spend an entire weekend in the theater checking out these movies currently creating Oscar buzz: Rachel Getting Married, Slumdog Millionaire, Frost/Nixon, and Milk.

2. Cross some items off your holiday shopping list without even leaving your house.  Check out these great online gift guides with ideas sure to please everyone.

For the Dudes: Esquire’s Top Gifts for Him

For the Moms & Grandmas & Aunts: Marie Claire’s Best Gifts For Her

For A Good Deal: 200 Gifts for $20 or Less

For You! Seventeen’s Top 150+ Gifts for Teens

3. Work out your anxieties or frustrations on a holiday run!  Find local 5K and 10K races on Active.com.  Or if you’re in the Los Angeles area, come run the 31st Annual Santa Monica-Venice Christmas Run with me tomorrow!

Have a great weekend!

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Illustration by John Tenniel from the book "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll. All rights reserved.

Illustration by John Tenniel from the book "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll. All rights reserved.

How excited am I that Tim Burton is in the midst of filming his version of the 1865 classic Alice in Wonderland with Johnny Depp playing the part of the Mad Hatter and Aussie newcomer Mia Wasikowska in the role of Alice!? I can’t imagine a more fitting filmmaker to bring these classic characters to life, and there’s a great interview in The Los Angeles Times with Tim Burton on the set of his latest project talking more about his vision for the film.  Check it out and let me know what you think…

Have a great weekend!

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(Left to right.) Richard Jenkins and Haaz Sleiman star in Overture Films' The Visitor © 2008 Visitor Holdings LLC. All Rights Reserved. Photo Credit: JoJo Whildon

(Left to right.) Richard Jenkins and Haaz Sleiman star in Overture Films' The Visitor © 2008 Visitor Holdings LLC. All Rights Reserved. Photo Credit: JoJo Whildon

One of my favorite movies of last spring was The Visitor starring Richard Jenkins and Haaz Sleiman. It’s the story of a lonely professor who finds some unlikely friends in New York City, and it also features awesome drumming and incredible performances by the lead characters (I’m rooting for Richard Jenkins to get an Oscar nomination for Best Actor). The film also has a provocative social action message addressing the treatment of immigrants in a post-9/11 world, and you can get involved, get the facts, and connect with others on Participant’s Social Action Network: TakePart.com.

The Visitor comes out on DVD today.  So rent it, watch it, and let me know what you think!

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If you’re looking for a way to escape the heat this weekend, check out Nanette Burstein’s (The Kid Stays In The Picture) latest flick, American Teen. Set in the idyllic Midwest, this film festival darling is being touted as the documentary version of “The Breakfast Club.” It’s shot in a very similar style to Laguna Beach, but the arc of the film has more substance than your typical reality fare. It even follows a couple storylines about students applying to college, which, of course, made me happy.

If you end up seeing the film, I’d love to hear what you think. Have a great weekend!

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