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August 28, 2006

Great Date Night

What fun! Keith finished up at his casting internship early today so we went for a walk to Houston's (where our waiter was very good at the gluten-free caretaking and the sushi was DELISH), browsed around the bookstore (and bought two books on podcasting), and then hit a movie we've been wanting to see.

And, I swear to you, if you like AMAZINGLY well-written and beautifully-acted indie films with nary a continuity error, goof*, or glitch (not that that's WHY anyone should love a movie, but DAMN does it make a good movie suddenly GREAT), Little Miss Sunshine is the one for you.

Fantastic work by the entire cast and crew! Really phenomenal stuff from the writer and directors, for sure! Michael Arndt is a scribe to watch (How the HECK is this his first feature film credit?!?) and Dayton and Faris... if you ever need me, holy crap give me a call. Kudos** to Kim Davis and Justine Baddeley for a fine job casting a quirky, heartwarming ensemble film.

BEST actor of the bunch (although this was a really tough call for me) has to be Paul Dano, whose character has taken a vow of silence. What a challenge for an actor to convey so much emotion and character depth nonverbally! Remind me to use his brilliant example when trying to explain the value in doing a non-speaking principal role to a reluctant actor. Simply beautiful work going on here!

And I think that's what is so fantastic about this film (a film sooooo much longer*** than the typical film I'll sit through... ever). It is simple. The characters and their circumstances are so very well-written that the talented actors couldn't help but bring them to life in such a way that we care very much what happens to each of them in every scene. But for me to credit the script (and then the acting) with this film's worth is to discount the fact that these directors clearly knew what they were looking for, in choosing this project and these actors. The stars aligned on this film... and that it only screened at Sundance (and wasn't even put in any award-yielding screenings there) is shocking.

At $8M, I figure the largest expense of this project was cast salaries. Even if everyone worked for scale (which I doubt), that's a pretty large chunk of an $8M budget at the full SAG basic codified agreement rates. I have not cast a film at this level (yet) and hope that, when I do, it'll be something that looks this good on the big screen (and that endures, upon reflection days later, which is the true test of a fantastic movie sometimes).

Got news today that one of the films I cast last year has officially hit the crapper. The director and writer (who were co-producers) have parted ways and dissolved their corporation, thus ending all hopes of getting this fully-cast and formerly-funded feature film back in gear before year-end. This is the third feature film of my casting career to get pulled off life support. And while that's not a majority by any stretch (especially when many of the films I've cast that DO shoot end up screening at festivals and winning awards), it's still one of those reminders that I am at the beginning of my casting career, still misjudging some projects from time to time.****

Anyway, a nice walk home after the film, a stop by the 7-11 for some Yellow Tail pinot grigio, and a little kissy-pooh from my honey and my date is just lovely.

Okay, so go see Little Miss Sunshine (or at least view the trailer and/or teaser here and go see the film tomorrow) and root for the best little pageant kid ever.

* Despite the fact that people behind us***** in the theater mocked the "10 East" sign in one of the shots, that particular item does not a goof make! Anyone who paid actual attention would've seen the ARROW beneath the sign, proving that the family's VW bus was on a road that had entrance ramps back to the 10 (presumably in both directions) after having experienced car trouble (and a meal) at some random exit on the way to the coast. Since no one TURNED in the direction of the arrow, the appearance of a sign marked "10 East" isn't a goof!******

** How, in three hours of Emmy awards*********, was not ONE single casting director thanked? Keith and I discussed this on our walk to dinner and he said, "Well, at the level these actors have reached by the time they're winning Emmy Awards, they're not really interacting with casting directors anymore." I said, "Fine! Thank the FIRST casting director who gave you a shot! Thank the CD who got you your SAG-eligibility! Thank a CD who cast you in a role that led to where you are today!"

*** I'm all about 82 minutes including credits. But on this film, I knew it was long. It felt long. But every time I thought, "Hmm. This film is long," I countered that with, "Okay, what would you have cut so far?" And the answer to that question was always, "Not a damn thing!" Usually, I can come up with many things that could've been cut, by the time I'm having that conversation with myself while watching a movie. Thing is, I couldn't even get that far into the "self-conversation" place because this film was just that good (and so well-balanced too... never got heavy-handed or too sad or too wacky, although it walked the line on all of that).

**** Hell, at least I got paid for casting the film that just crapped out. A producer on a feature film I cast nearly THREE YEARS AGO still owes me $300. I guess I should be glad I got *mostly* paid, but DAMN, producer! Write me a frickin' check, wouldja?!?

***** When Mary Lynn Rajskub showed up in her second or third scene (of four or five small ones), the lady behind us started squealing, "OMIGOD! It's Chloe from 24! OMIGOD!!!" And she couldn't stop saying it. Every time the actor came on screen for the next four minutes, this woman said, "See! See that! It's Chloe! OMIGOD!!!" and then some. I wanted to turn around to her and say, "Yes! And did you see that? Steve Carell is on The Office! And Bryan Cranston? He was on Malcolm in the Middle (and before that, on Seinfeld. Do you remember the "anti-dentite" episodes?!?)! And that Toni Collette, did you know that she's not really American, even though she sounds it?!? OMIGOD!! These are ACTORS and they're doing their JOB! Would you SHUT UP now?!?" But I did not.**********

****** Yes, at this point, I'm really OVER the people who were behind us at the theater.*******

******* And the people who were across the restaurant from us last night when we dined at Pacific Dining Car after Steve's Emmy party.************ Holy crap, there are some people in this world who believe that everyone else exists to please them, serve them, and thank them for the privilege of having been demanded to do so. I am so over seeing these people in my life lately. ********

******** Yes, I know that what we see is what we live (and it's all about what we choose to see), but I'm just venting about this stuff because truly 90% of what I see in my life is freakin' brilliant, amazing, wonderful bliss that makes me happy to be alive and living my dreams.

********* I have a review of that to come too... just not today.

********** Seriously. I need a drink. I'm really not in a bad mood even a little bit. I promise.

*********** Which was lovely. More on that later too.

Posted by bonnie at August 28, 2006 11:47 PM

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CD Phyllis Huffman was shown in the memorial section of the Emmy's. Too bad she had to die before being honored with recognition for her work in the industry. :/

Posted by: Aleta at August 29, 2006 1:20 AM

I don't speak asterisk.

Posted by: Babes at August 29, 2006 3:44 AM

We went to see Little Miss Sunshine on Sat. night, and I really liked it too. You are completely right about Paul Dano. I think what also helped make it an even better movie experience is that there were quite a few people in the theater at Beechwood (how I absolutely love whoever chooses the movies there), and it just felt like everybody was having a good time. Seeing a bunch of people make time to see a little independent movie & enjoy it thoroughly just gives me some kind of...hope, I guess is the best way I can describe it.

Posted by: Hannah at August 29, 2006 5:55 AM

1. Houston's (Houstons'? Houstons?) is my favorite restaurant, period. They are SO nice about substitutions and telling you exactly what's in everything and they have the best burgers (do they put crack in them?) and I live--LIVE, I TELL YOU--for the acorn squash and brussels sprouts. Fall cannot come fast enough.

2. Head...still...hurts...from...asterisks...fest...

Posted by: communicatrix at August 29, 2006 8:54 AM

What? They were just little snowflakes;)

Posted by: Ed R at August 29, 2006 8:19 PM

this is like my fifth time viewing your page today, and you've said nothing new, so subtract four from your total hits.

i totally did this with the intention of saying, "here's to helping you break 100!" but that's not how it played out.

and p.s. the word "keith" DOES make me think of "queef". with makes me think of "quease". which makes me think of "sneeze". which makes me think of "breeze". which makes me think of portland (not hard, huh?)

Posted by: Babes at August 29, 2006 10:46 PM

this is my first time viewing your page today, and there's still nothing new, so subtract one.

Posted by: Babes at August 30, 2006 1:58 AM

I SO wanna see Little Miss Sunshine! The DirecTV Tivo had a little "featurette" on it, and I was cracking UP at some of the scenes. The trailer is great too. It has that "vibe" of movies like Rushmore and Royal Tennenbaums, which I LOVE. LOVE character-driven comedies like that!

Posted by: NiNi at August 31, 2006 10:24 AM

...and Bryan Cranston was in said anti-dentite Seinfeld episode with Robert Wagner who just wrapped "Netherbeast Incorporated" with Bill Lippincott who contributed to "Self Management for Actors II" by Bonnie Gillespie.

The Circle is complete.

Posted by: Lipp at September 2, 2006 12:22 AM

Great review of Little Miss Sunshine, Bon. Too funny (too annoying?!) about the woman who kept exclaiming about Chloe from 24. Aaagh, gotta love (hate) those talkative theater-goers. (Although my biggest pet peeve is people who sit behind me & kick my seat -- I almost always seem to encounter that)

Posted by: Ellenlisa at September 21, 2006 12:30 PM

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