Short Term 12 = Long Term Awesome

The first thing I did when I got my driver’s license was drive to the Castleton Arts movie theatre to see “Kissing Jessica Stein,” and I’ve supported independent film ever since. Movies don’t need budgets big enough to bail out small countries and a year long production schedule to be above and beyond good, and Destin Cretton’s new film “Short Term 12” is proof of that.

Set in a group home for troubled youth, “Short Term 12” tells the stories of Grace (Brie Larson) and Mason (John Gallagher Jr.), a young couple who keep the home running, and care for its young residents. Business is going as usual as it can when working with kids who come from beyond broken homes and occasionally break into frenzied fits while wearing a cape, until Grace finds out she’s unexpectedly pregnant, and a newcomer to the home named Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever) makes the news an even harder pill to swallow. Pun recognized, but not intended.

Jayden brings up unresolved issues in Grace, and the drama evolves from there. I don’t want to give anything away, but it all culminates with a scene involving breaking and entering and a baseball bat that had enough suspense to make me want a whiskey ASAP.  “Short Term 12” gives a realistic view of mental health problems and an environment that is usually overly-dramatized and wrought with inaccuracies. In a post-screening Q&A, John Gallagher Jr. revealed the realism was due to heavy research and shadowing actual group home professionals.

While we’re on the subject of JGJ, his performance as Mason was beyond impressive, and I’m not just saying that as a big fan of his work. (Remember when I wrote about it here and here?) After watching “Short Term 12,” followed by a marathon of “The Newsroom,”  John… Mister Gallagher Jr… or whatever is appropriate for me to call him, got me thinking about acting in a way I never have before. Comparing Mason with Jim Harper isn’t quite like comparing apples and oranges. Both are well-intentioned, self-effacing characters who mask their insecurities with humor, however the subtle differences that JGJ (that’s what I’ll call him) brings to each makes me think that his nuanced approach is possibly way more complex than someone who plays a series of starkly different roles.

But enough of the writer trying to talk about acting… “Short Term 12” is a good investment of time, money, and a solid example of quality independent film. You should probably see it as quickly as possible. And a bonus for those of you still reading… I asked JGJ in the Q&A what he was listening to in a scene where Mason was wearing headphones, and while microphones made it impossible to listen to anything, he was pretending to jam out to The Clash.

 

 

 

 

The best movies that almost came out in 2012

You may remember how not too long ago I used my crazy amount of blog-related industry access to share the best albums of 2012 that never made it past the cutting room floor. And if you don’t remember, I’m hurt cause I thought we had something really strong between us. Since that post, my baller ante has totes gone up. I saw Zoe Saldana on the street, got to read the whole Justin Carney/Bieber battle on Twitter, and was invited by HBO to watch the Beyonce doc in the privacy of my own home. All I had to do was pay my $120 Time Warner bill first.

That said, the Oscars are coming up, which means it’s time again for me to share the Little Conqueror wealth. Here now for you are the films that with a little more industry support could have been up for best picture, if they had only made like Frank Ocean and came out.

 

BIG BIRD AND THE MICRO UNIT

"Can you tell me how to get to a new apartment?"

“Can you tell me how to get to a new apartment?”

TRACY MORGAN’S DOWNTON ABBEY: THE MOVIE

Screen shot 2013-02-18 at 5.38.26 PM

WHITE PEOPLE MAKING OUT

Screen shot 2013-02-18 at 5.42.13 PM

AVATAR II

A heroic journey to the distant planet Brooklyn

A heroic journey to the distant planet Brooklyn

SOUND MOTHEREffING CITY

It happened. I saw Sound City last night. My life is different now. Initial reactions are:

-Rick Springfield… What a badass! How come nobody told me about him?

-The theatre’s speakers were banging. I need a better sound system in my apartment.

-Love the “butched wig” label on Butch’s chair in Dave’s studio.

-Rick Rubin could be my Ghandi.

-MUST HAVE PAT SMEAR’S PURPLE TRINI NOW PLEASE!

sound city

But obvi I walked away thinking about way more than that. Sound City is clearly a celebration of music and the power of what happens when people and instruments join together, however I feel the larger message is to get off your ass.

You want to start a recording studio? Get off your ass and do it.

You want to make a movie? Get off your ass and do it.

You want to write, play, and record songs? Get off your ass and do it.

There couldn’t be a better person to deliver this message than Sound City maker, Dave Grohl. He is a person who never runs away from an idea. Dave wanted to play drums, so he made a kit out of pillows and taught himself how. Dave was restless post-Nirvana, so he made the first Foo Fighters album. And finally, Dave wanted to share the story of a legendary recording studio, so he made Sound City. The interviews leading up to SC’s release are straight-up Tony Robbins-style odes to following through with your creative urges and not letting the fear of failure get in your way.

“Go to the fucking yard sale, buy a fucking guitar, start a band with your fucking friends, get in the garage and fucking suck and work on it until you fucking make great music, and become the biggest band in the world.”

-Dave Grohl (WTF podcast w/Marc Maron)

According to the film, Sound City was constantly on the verge of failing. Bankruptcy was always looming in the background and the question “what are we doing here” seemed to come up a lot. But based on the passion and ferver with which everyone at the studio worked, you’d never know it. They were there cause they wanted to make music, and a hallway that always flooded, “outdated” technology, and lack of funds weren’t going to stop them from getting off their ass and doing it. It’s like learning to play guitar with crazy-high action. You can either quit cause your fingers hurt, or you can just suck it up and press the strings fucking harder. And because Sound City never quit, we have Fleetwood Mac, Nevermind, Rage Against the Machine, Rick “my new favorite person” Springfield,” and so many more.

Even if you have no interest in music whatsoever (if that’s possible) Sound City is worth your while. It’s an inspirational film and I urge you all to get of your ass and go see it.