Friday, November 12, 2010


Michael Midas: Champion of the World. An upcoming graphic novel from the mind of Jordan B. Gorfinkel (Batman, Birds of Prey, Everything's Relative).

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Nonsense Box: Not Just for Silly Adults Now Available on iTunes!

The Nonsense Box: Not Just for Silly Adults is now available on iTunes. The album features the talent of Admiral Plumbtree, Schwartzy and Pagana, Max (our sound designer), and a whole slew of the Cosmic Toast Studios family.
Nonsense Box Front Cover
Nonsense Box Back Cover Art
All 26 tracks are available for preview and purchase on iTunes!
The Nonsense Box: Not Just for Silly Adults - Various Artists

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hidden Gem: The Blue Tooth Virgin

| by Allan Stackhouse |

The Blue Tooth Virgin is a wonderful gem of an indie film released to DVD earlier this year. Director and writer Russell Brown with two handfuls of a production crew created a great character-driven story about what can happen when you criticize a friend's work. Anyone who is in a creative field will enjoy or at least be able to appreciate the screenwriting storyline. Stars Austin Peck and Bryce Johnson truly shine in this charming film.

Russell teamed with the amazing, oft teamed with Gus Van Sant, editor Curtiss Clayton (To Die For, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and Drugstore Cowboy). At first, I couldn't figure out what made this film so good. Luckily, there is a featurette included on the DVD that explained some of Curtiss Clayton's editing process. To make these dialogue-heavy, non-moving scenes more interesting, Curtiss would limit the focus on each character, not to the point where it would be just a bunch of back and forth boring cutting. The edits were made with regard to the emotion and tone the director was going for.

The characters in this film are so strong and defined in The Blue Tooth Virgin. Sam, played by former Days of Our Lives and As the World Turns actor Austin Peck, is a struggling writer who once saw success and is thirsty for success again. His friend David, played by familiar TV face Bryce Johnson, has always had it easy and lives a cushy life as a writer for a magazine. The conflict that develops between these two characters begins with Sam's request for David to read his recently finished screenplay titled The Blue Tooth Virgin. David HATES Sam's script and, just from the dialogue in the film surrounding it, it sounds horrible. David experiences a desire to be completely honest with Sam and then changes his mind, which of course Sam takes offense to and gets particularly nasty about it. The script proves to be an interesting test of their friendship.

The poor quality of Sam's script leads to even more hilarious characters. There are two confidants, one for David and one for Sam. Sam turns to expensive script doctor Zena, played wonderfully and eccentrically by Karen Black. Their dialogue is actually kind of off-putting at first but through the course of this initial uncomfortableness, it turns out to be all part of the process, a great reveal for both Sam and the audience. David's confidant is Dr. Christopher, played by Roma Mafia, who's just as no nonsense as David if not more. She is inclined to believe what David is telling her and sympathizes with what he is going through. Both of these characters added humor to the film but also an opportunity for David and Sam to develop outside of their conversations with each other.

I'm absolutely thrilled that E1 decided to distribute this, despite its release from 2008, because the film serves as an example of the fruit of independent filmmaking. A small cast of professionals, actors, and locations made a funny, engaging, and emotionally honest film that I am very happy to have come across.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

New on Blu: A Prophet

| by Allan Stackhouse |

Someone raved about this movie some time ago so I admit that my perspective wasn’t completely fresh when I watched French writer/director Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet. The experience for me was a mildly entertained one but that could very well be because I completely lost interest in the film after the first act.

The great thing about A Prophet's script is that its conflict is set up so quickly. Malik El Djebena is sentenced to six years in prison and is almost immediately propositioned to kill someone or be killed. His appearance doesn’t entirely fit the dominating white presence in the prison nor the growing Arab one, allowing him to navigate both worlds. He does not have a choice about it because of the Corsican gang practically running the place, receiving instruction on specifically how to perfrom the kill as well. His attempts to get out of it are met with failure. These consistent and well-crafted raises in stakes were well-directed and enthralling.

This act's end unfortunately proved to be the peak of drama for the entire film. It is just after this incredibly exciting string of scenes that the plot becomes very watery and altogether unimportant. The film seemed to shoot its wad and then expected these slower paced scenes to be able to carry the rest of the film which, for me, was entirely unsuccessful. The end of the film attempts to regain the first act’s momentum with Malik’s sudden decision to improvise upon learning that his final targets are not going to exit their vehicle. This scene is actually quite brilliant stylistically with its choice of angles, slow motion footage, and sound design but even these traits cannot make up for the lack of interest I had when watching the scenes that lead up it.

The suspense built by the scene where Malik kills Reyeb is thick, that is not in question. The scene in which he kills him of course doesn't go to plan, further building the suspense. He earns the protection of Cesar Luciani. Malik’s climb up the gang ladder by turning into a porter for the Corsicans and then running favors for Cesar, his boss, and Jordi, his business associate in drug sales, did not prove to be anywhere near the stakes of his first foray into the prison world.

As the title states, we are made to believe during the film that Malik is a prophet of some sort but even that isn’t completely fleshed out. It as actually only addressed in the scene where he predicts the car accident. The drug dealer is in awe of his "gift" but there’s no other scenes to support the idea built by this one. Why have it at all? Why not have it earlier? Why not more consistently reference it?

As much as I wanted to enjoy this film, I simply could not. If you’re up for a well-crafted gangster movie, you will likely enjoy A Prophet more than I did. The recurring subject of race doesn’t completely translate for me but perhaps there are some nuances in gang-related subject matter that are ultimately foreign to me.