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Karie's Blog

January 2008

Karie (site owner) Written by Karie (site owner)
Jan. 31, 2008 | 12:36 AM
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Old movies are good medicine for sick children

I noticed the below article in today’s LA Times.  What a great idea!!!!!!!

Old movies are good medicine for sick children
Sisters collect DVDs and donate them to pediatric hospital wards.
By Victoria Kim, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
January 31, 2008

What started as a Los Angeles family’s creative way to dispose of a box of old movies has grown into a project that helps sick children cope with their illnesses.

Sisters Marni and Berni Barta, 15 and 17, run Kid Flicks, a nonprofit organization that collects old movies and ships them to children’s hospitals across the country and even as far as South Africa. So far the family has collected 28,700 movies and donated them to 287 hospitals.

Old DVDs gathering dust after children have outgrown them can help distract children from pain and make long hours at the hospital a little more bearable, the girls say.

“People have all these movies they don’t watch, and they can do something meaningful with them,” Marni said.

The sophomore and junior at Harvard-Westlake School in North Hollywood received presidential recognition Wednesday when President Bush met with them during his visit to the Southland.

Marni and Berni, along with two older sisters, founded the group six years ago when they were in elementary school.

The idea occurred to them after the family had to move out of their home for 14 months because of flooding and most of their belongings had to be locked up in storage.

When they returned home after repairs were completed, they realized they could live without many of their possessions, the Bartas said.

One of those possessions was a large collection of about 100 children’s movies, including Disney animations and Wee Sing musicals, that the girls had loved when they were young.

The movies reminded Marni of how her friend Alex, once hospital-bound with leukemia, would watch movies to pass time. The family stuffed the movies into shopping bags and took them to the pediatric oncology department at Cedars-Sinai.

Officials there told the Bartas how much sick children rely on movies during their stay.

“Once you turn on a movie or show that they like, it really helps soothe them,” said Joanne Ordono, a child life specialist at Cedars-Sinai’s pediatric oncology department. “It brings normalcy to their environment.”

Enthralled that their simple idea seemed to make a difference, the sisters started asking other families for their old stashes.

Donations quickly started pouring in. Initially, it was a minimal operation of picking up videocassettes and DVDs from neighbors and dropping them off at children’s hospitals around Los Angeles.

Then it was Orange County. Soon, weekend drives as far as Santa Barbara became routine.

By the time Marni and Berni entered high school, they had run out of nearby hospitals in need of donations. The girls, who took over when their sisters left for college, hit the Internet to find hospitals around the country and organized bake sales to raise money for shipping. They sent e-mails and letters to studios and production companies asking for donations of new movies.

Movies started piling up in the family home’s small office, then overflowed to the living room. MGM sent 3,000 DVDs.

“You can imagine that took up my living room,” said Denise Barta, mother of the girls.

Now the Bartas’ pool house has been transformed into a warehouse where more than 1,000 movies are stored. The sisters tend to every shipment of donated movies with professional dedication, their mother said. In 2005, Kid Flicks ( www.kidflicks.org) became a registered 501(c)3 tax-deductible nonprofit, which means the sisters are also responsible for immaculate bookkeeping.

“You can just start something small and it can become something you never imagined it would be,” Berni said.

victoria.kim@latimes.com


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Karie (site owner) Written by Karie (site owner)
Jan. 29, 2008 | 9:28 PM
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4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS

4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS is a blistering and brutal film set in late 1980s Romania about a young woman helping her friend obtain an illegal abortion.  Brilliantly directed by Cristian Mungiu, this film is a study in using minimalist techniques to create maximum effect.  4 MONTHS was awarded the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival last year, but strangely was left out of the Academy Award nominations. 

The stage is set for the film in a bleak cold college dorm room where two girls are packing to go away.  The dialogue is mundane and very ordinary and the coming events are never set up for the audience, which actually serves to force the audience to pay closer attention to not only what is said….not what is left unsaid.  A majority of the film appears to have been shot with a hand held camera and mostly natural lighting.  There is also the absence of music or any sort of a score.  The film is primarily shot in several long takes with little editing.  This technique serves the narrative perfectly, as it gives the viewer a feeling of unease and as if they are a voyeur or “fly on the wall” into all of the unfolding events.  There is one scene in which Otilia (a fantastic Anamaria Marinca) leaves her friend Gabita (Laura Vasiliu) at a crucial moment in order to attend her boyfriend’s family obligation.  As she is at the dinner table with his family, they are chattering and laughing and she clearly feels trapped and desperately wanting to return to help her friend.  The scene is done in one long take and you never see any cutting between the guests at the dinner party.  The camera lingers on Otilia and holds her at the center of the frame for a long time.  Watching the scene, it creates a sense of tension and discomfort matched only by that of the character. 

The harrowing journey in this film is filled with bleak hotels, a maze of pitch black back alleys and unspeakable behavior.  Throughout the story, Otilia is forced to confront her lover Adi (Alex Potocean) and a horrific back-alley abortionist known as “Mr. .Bebe” (a chilling Vlad Ivanov).  The friendship of the two women is tested to the limit, but is also met without close ups, length speeches or judgment.  The film isn’t preachy and doesn’t take a side on the issue either way.  It simply presents a story, and an unforgettable one at that.


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Karie (site owner) Written by Karie (site owner)
Jan. 25, 2008 | 12:30 AM
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Help send Vampira to the great beyond!

.Dana Gould just posted this update on vampirasattic.com:

Thank you so very much for your condolences and interest in Maila Nurmi. A memorial service will be held in Los Angeles and is currently being planned for mid-February. Specific details are forthcoming.

Arrangements for Maila’s funeral are proceeding with the blessing of her surviving niece Sandra Niemi. Contributions are currently being accepted so that she may be interred at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Donations should either be sent to:
The Maila Nurmi Memorial Fund
C/o Frattai & Salem
9229 Sunset Blvd.
#414
Los Angeles, CA 90069

*Please make checks out to The Maila Nurmi Memorial Fund.*

OR via PayPal to Vampira@Brazenmanagement.com.
This account has been set up to handle ONLY the memorial fund via PayPal.

Any e-mails regarding Maila’s Memorial Fund should be sent to Ghooled@sbcglobal.net.

Thank you so very much for your kind words, devotion and assistance in this effort.

Read more at Fangoria.


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Karie (site owner) Written by Karie (site owner)
Jan. 23, 2008 | 10:18 PM
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Heath Ledger R.I.P

I heard the news while I was surfing the news pages at CNN.com.  I couldn’t believe it.  At first I thought “Heath Ledger is dead” was the name of some new hip indie film project much like “Being John Malkovich” or “Color Me Kubrick” or something.  I sat at my desk stunned when I realized the story was for real.  He never seemed like someone destined for such a death.  Frankly no one would be surprised if something like this happend to Lindsay Lohan or Brittney Spears, but the fact it was Heath Ledger was really an unexpected shock.  I didn’t see 10 Things I Hate About Your or A Knight’s Tale, as they seemed to be like more teen type movies that really didn’t appeal to me.  Then I saw him in Monster’s Ball.  Even though his part was relatively small, he really stood out in that film and made an impact.  Then I saw Brokeback Mountain.  I was blown away by how wonderful he was in that film.  He and Jake Gyllenhaal really made that passion and love seem very powerful and achingly real.  The film stayed with me and I thought about it for days afterward.  I suspect that Brokeback Mountain will stand the test of time and be remembered 25 or even 50 years from now.  Ledger’s performance is a big reason why.  With that role, he created an iconic character that will live on and that is something that many actors spend their whole careers striving for and often never achieve.  I just assumed that Ledger would continue to turn in great performances and that he would eventually turn to writing and directing much the same way Sean Penn has.  He was clearly headed towards being one of the more artistically daring and gifted actors of his generation.  Before his death, I became obsessed with the new Batman trailer for The Dark Knight.  I watched it like 7 times on the internet.  Ledger was so brilliant as the joker in the trailer and took the depth and menace of that character to a level that Jack Nicholson or Ceasar Romero never even dreamed of. 

I feel terribly sad for the Ledger family, for his friends, his co-workers, for Michelle Williams and for his daughter that will never get to know him.

I greatly admired his work and as a film fan I too feel a sense of sadness and loss. 



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Karie (site owner) Written by Karie (site owner)
Jan. 22, 2008 | 10:41 PM
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Reaction to the 2007 Academy Award Nominations

Ever since I was a kid I have been in love with movies, and by default have been fascinated by the Academy Awards.  Here is my $0.2 cents on the nominations that were announced today…..

All of the Best Picture nominees were great BUT I was very unhappy to see that The Diving Bell and the Butterfly didn’t make the top 5.  I considered it to be the best film I saw hands down in 2007.  While I’ve read other blogs that bemoaned his inclusion, I was actually glad to see Jason Reitman get a Best Director nomination for Juno.  I was a huge fan of Thank You For Smoking and loved Juno as well.  I really look forward to what he is going to do next.  For Best Actor, I was delighted to see that Viggo Mortensen was nominated.  He was incredible in Eastern Promises and I’m so glad he got the recognition.  I was pretty surprised that Tommy Lee Jones got nominated for In The Valley of Elah.  For weeks now I’ve been reading the numerous Oscar prognostication blogs and keeping up with the critics awards and never saw much mention of him at all for Best Actor.  This came as a real surprise.  I also didn’t think that many people saw In the Valley of Elah, but obviously enough people did.  In the Best Actress catagory I was thrilled to see Laura Linney get a nomination, as she is one of the most consistent actresses working today.  She is excellent in just about everything she’s in.  I was surprised to see that Cate Blanchett get nominated for Elizabeth: The Golden Age since the film was such a disappointment.  In the Best Supporting Actor race I was somewhat surprised to see Phillip Seymor Hoffman get the nomination for Charlie Wilson’s War, as his work in Before the Devil Knows Your Dead was much better and certainly had more depth.  The Best Supporting Actress nominees were pretty much what everyone expected.  As for the screenwriting categories, I’m THRILLED that 4 female screenwriters are nominated this year, including Sarah Polley who doesn’t seem to seek out publicity and usually flies below the radar!!!!  I hope that all of these ladies continue to write great, challenging and complex roles for women! 

I’ll post my Oscar predictions later on when the awards are much closer. 


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Karie (site owner) Written by Karie (site owner)
Jan. 14, 2008 | 3:46 PM
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Let’s Get Lost

Bruce Weber’s haunting documentary Let’s Get Lost chronicles the life of famed jazz musicial Chet Baker.  The film was first released in 1989 but has been mainly out of circulation ever since.  It is now playing until January 17th at the Nuart in a beautiful new 35mm print.  The film is a beautiful dream like idyll that depicts Chet Baker in his prime and shows his shocking erosion in the late 80s. 


What struck me most about the film was the avoidance of clich?s.  While Chet Baker was a troubled man and addict, the film avoided falling into the trap of being a conventional story like say a VH1 “Behind the Music” worse yet an “E! True Hollywood Story.”  Baker’s story is told through a series of interwoven film clips, photos and interviews with family members, ex-wives, girlfriends, children and artistic collaborators.  Chet Baker as a character is impossible to resist.  In his prime, he had James Dean type looks and radiated West Coast cool.  His vocal sound is smooth and almost hypnotic.  To see Chat Baker’s face at the time the film was shot is devastating.  Only 58 years old, he looks shockingly hard, worn and haggard due to years of cocaine and heroin abuse.  Seeing the youthful Chet Baker and the declining Chet Baker throughout the film, it is almost as if they are two entirely different worlds, both beautiful and tragic in different ways. 



The film was shot in beautiful black and white and watching it feels like you are floating along in the middle of a dream.  Let’s Get Lost  is the most visually beautiful and fully realized portrait of an artist that I’ve ever seen. 


Don’t miss your chance to see this on the big screen where it belongs. 

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Karie (site owner) Written by Karie (site owner)
Jan. 13, 2008 | 3:11 PM
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Vampira-Rest In Peace

Another great (yet somewhat under the radar) Hollywood legend has left us.  Maila Nurmi, better known to film fans as “Vampira” passed away on January 10th 2008 at the age of 86.  The character of “Vampira” appeared in numerous flms including the Ed Wood classic PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE.  She also appeared on television and inspired countless other horror hosts including “Elvira”.  You can read more about her at the following links:  LAist, Brian Albright’s article at Pussycat Magazine and the MySpace page for Coffin Case.  What I really admire about “Vampira” and Johnny Grant is that they both carved out their own path.  Their lives and careers didn’t follow a conventional arc.  They were larger than life.  They were both true originals and will be missed.



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Karie (site owner) Written by Karie (site owner)
Jan. 12, 2008 | 6:39 PM
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A farewell to Hollywood’s Mayor

I was an intern at the California Film Commission in the summer of 1996.  It was through this job that my path crossed with Johnny Grant.  He was always close by our building and was very involved in all of the aspects of Hollywood life.  In 1996 the famed Hollywood Blvd. was nowhere near what you see today.  It was much more like the Hollywood Blvd. depicted in Pretty Woman...the area Julia Roberts’s character was hoping to eventually escape.  In spite of the decline it was clearly going through at the time, Johnny Grant remained loyal to the town and the industry he loved.  He was one of “old guard” who was a bridge to a new era.  He had great public relations skills and was generally liked and admired.  I feel sad to hear about his passing for many reasons.  He was a unique individual.  He was a local legend and as far as legends go, there don’t seem to be many people like that around anymore.  I asked someone at Hollywood Forever Cemetery if Johnny was going to be buried there.  The person I spoke to said, “I wish he was.  Instead I hear they are going to cremate him and scatter his ashes right in front of the Hollywood sign.”  I said, “That seems very fitting and I’m sure that’s what he would have wanted.”  Johnny Grant will now preside for eternity in the city he loved.

Read all about Johnny Grant’s life in these articles L.A Times:

Shining farewell to Tinseltown’s mayor-January 11th

Johnny Grant, 84; Hollywood’s biggest promoter-January 10th

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Karie (site owner) Written by Karie (site owner)
Jan. 1, 2008 | 10:28 AM
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Coming soon in 2008

There are tons of new things happening at FilmRadar in 2008.  First off at the end of February (maybe sooner) we will be launching a newly re-designed version of the website!!!!  Our team at HopStudios is working very hard to help us make this happen.  The site will be 100% re-designed, but will still retain the great logo of me in the space suit. courtesy of the great A.V. Phibes in New York.  Next FilmRadar will turn 6 years old in February, so we will be having a 6th Anniversary cocktail party to celebrate that and the re-design as well.  We will have swag and tons of goodies to hand out at the party.  The location, date and time will be announced soon.  We are also determined to have an average of 2 field trips a month in the new year.  These will range in location and film selection and the first one of 2008 is also in the works.  If all that weren’t enough…..stay tuned for more free screenings and events coming soon in the new year.


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