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Episode 81: Zero Dark Thirty

26 Mar

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In this episode, Tyler and Josh are joined by Jason Eaken to discuss Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty and Sean Penn’s The Pledge.

EPISODE BREAKDOWN
00:00:45- Intro, minisodes
00:01:30- Wondercon
00:02:15- The SHIELD Act
00:04:40- Tyler’s hiatus
00:06:00- Jason Eaken
00:10:00- Zero Dark Thirty
01:13:45- The Pledge
01:42:35- Sermon Recommendation- “Hell”
02:23:45- Episode wrap-up

DOWNLOADABLE MP3

Episode 42: The Prestige

14 Jul

In this episode, Tyler is joined by Jason Eaken to discuss Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige.

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On Set, by Jason Eaken

21 May

The simplest thing to say is there’s nothing like being on a movie set. There’s nothing simple about being on-set itself either. It’s chaos: all busy and technical and clustered and there’s a lot of waiting involved sometimes. But it’s the most exciting kind of chaos: creative. Nine people gathered in a Sherman Oaks townhouse: the DP and a grip talking about camera equipment and setting lights; the other grip setting up our food in the kitchen, just off camera. To the other side of the camera, down in the living room, a large pile of empty bookshelves that had cluttered the dining room with something akin to 500 DVDs and books, which now occupy a hoard of boxes upstairs in the bedroom of the producer. The 3 actors are bopping between upstairs getting into costume and make-up and downstairs eating Red Vines, Almond M&M’s and some new type of Pop-Tart that is kindof like S’mores, but different, too. I’m in the kitchen, too, playing with the concoction of foods and arranging them onto the plates for the actors. It’s about consistency, it needs to look gross and to achieve the effect we had to venture outside what is commonly referred to as “people food.” But I only do one of them, then stash it in the fridge and run over to check on lights, “We’ll be ready in fifteen,” he says, good to know, because upstairs, one of the actors is having hair problems. He can’t get it into a workable ponytail, so we’re scrounging for hair product and clips to hold it in place. I go ahead and explain the shot list to them to try to give a sense of the flow of the night, even though we went over it at our final rehearsal, but with so much going on it gives both them and me a bit of a foothold on everything to list out our agenda. Then back downstairs to make more nasty-fied food, and we haven’t set the table yet. “Which side of the plate does the fork go on, anybody know?” Left is our consensus, but then it’s switched and then a short discussion about napkin placement ensues, because film is in the detail and because this is a thing I don’t know and feel that I should at this point.

[…]

MTOL Guest: Jason Eaken

19 May

JASON EAKEN is a writer and director. He graduated with a BFA in Acting from the University of Central Missouri, where he learned that, if you’re not acting hard, you’re hardly acting. he’s performed in nearly 30 plays and musicals, co-hosted the podcast Experts and Intermediates. Next up, Jason is working on a helpful literature series about his craft, which includes the following titles: “There’s Only One ‘I’ in ‘Acting,’ and it’s Me,” “Stand Back… ACTING!” and “Hand Me My Props, I’m About to Go Off!”

Episode 27- A Serious Man

19 May

In this episode, Tyler is joined by filmmaker Jason Eaken to discuss what we can learn from the Coen Brothers’ A Serious Man.

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Culture-Of-Goal, by Jason Eaken

24 Feb

I am a Christian not usually moved by Church. What I mean is this: I go to church, I can appreciate the ideas and truth content of a sermon, but rarely does the experience – the packaging, if you will – itself move me. Oftentimes, I leave slightly fussy and have to get over myself on the car ride back home. This is not a film. This is not a novel. This is not art. This is proclamation on a 7-day cycle. Pastors don’t have teams of writers like sitcoms and anytime I think, “Well, hell, maybe they should” I am immediately struck by the stupidity and un-enlightened-ness of the concept. It is just possible that the sermon was not crafted with me in mind – and that it shouldn’t have to be for me to be willing to see what it’s saying. This is a lesson continually learned. For myself and people like me, small group meetings are more fulfilling: discussing verses, digging into them more than usually happens in a sermon. This is where His words come alive for me. […]

Termination Facilitation at 10,000 Feet, by Jason Eaken

18 Dec

UP IN THE AIR (2009)
Directed by: Jason Reitman
Written by: Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner
Starring: George Clooney, Anna Kendrick, Vera Farmiga

Jason Reitman is the real thing. Though comparisons to the family patriarch may never go away, he has managed to effortlessly establish himself as his own entity. At 32 years old, he is one of the best filmmakers working today. More impressive than his age, he’s done it in just three films, all comedies. His latest, Up in the Air, is also his best. […]

Nature Is Satan’s Church, by Jason Eaken

28 Nov

ANTICHRIST (2009)
Written and Directed by: Lars Von Trier
Starring: Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg

It is a firmly held belief of mine that I would rather see a well-made movie I disagree with than a poorly made film that plays it safe. In some cosmic or telepathic way, Lars von Trier has become aware of this and has made a film that challenges anyone and everyone who holds a similar belief. It is Antichrist, and was made in the full spirit of its title.

[…]

Everything That Was Written, by Jason Eaken

20 Nov

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
-Romans 15:4

Quotations are important to me. In my apartment, there are three large stacks of blank notecards and a black permanent marker, so that whenever a new one comes into my life, I can write it down. There are about 50 next to this keyboard right now – quotations from movies, books, songs, interviews, and many from The Bible.

[…]

"Wild Thing, I Think I Love You," by Jason Eaken

18 Oct

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE (2009)
Directed by: Spike Jonze
Written by: Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers
Starring: Max Records, Catherine Keener

Where the Wild Things Are is like a sneak attack on the idea of a Hollywood blockbuster. From behind enemy lines. It is unconventional, unique, messy and decidedly itself. Its director’s two previous film were strange, independent comedies and he hasn’t made a movie since 2002. It is based on a short children’s book by Maurice Sendak that is devoid of any thick mythology or epic battle sequences between good and evil. It’s about a 9-yr old beginning to figure himself out. That filmmaker Spike Jonze got the money to make the movie – and make it his way – is like a beacon of hope in the night for the ship of cinema, which many see as a bloated vessel lost in a sea of special effects.

This movie has special effects too, and it uses them really well. Better than most movies. But it isn’t about them. I don’t know why I mentioned them. Forget it. The movie follows Max, the 9-yr old. After a frustrating couple winter days, he gets angry, bites his mother and runs away into the night. Finding a ship, he commandeers it and winds up on an island where he discovers a group of large, talking creatures deep in the forest. He becomes their king so they won’t eat him. Like you do. They talk, they build a fort, they jump around and have wars. Of course Max will have to go home at some point, that’s inevitable.

This is not a safe movie. Why would it be? Fun is rarely safe, and this is an exceedingly fun movie. When Max arrives at the island, his ship is thrown about in waves, water angles up and slashes down on him. He has to fight not to crash into rocks. He has to scale a cliff to get off the beach. He looks down. You should never look down. Trees slam into the ground all around him, snowballs and dirt clods fly at him and hit him. He is thrown through the air. He falls down a lot. These moments are seen with perilous clarity; close-ups and head-to-toe shots that recognize Max as in the middle of the chaos, not safe from it.

Some have questioned if this movie – the situations it finds Max in, the monsters, the sadness – is too much for kids to handle. It’s true. The monsters have issues. They talk about loneliness. They experience loss. Their relationships are complex, particularly between Carol and KW (voiced beautifully by James Gandolfini and Lauren Ambrose, respectively). Carol destroys things. He gets mad. The monsters feel hurt. Parents rightly want to protect their children. I think, though, they’re more fearful about their children’s reactions to the movie than the kids will be to the movie’s difficult moments. Spike Jonze has made a melancholy movie that deals with these feelings in a powerful way, yes; but it is a way that kids can identify with. It does not overwhelm the film, but it is a part of the film.

The movie is not a downer, though. It isn’t depressing. Spike Jonze and cinematographer Lance Accord have cultivated one of the most invigorating visual sensibilities in movies today. Rarely static or smooth, the camera is active and explorative. So many movies cut too quick to see anything, here we get to see all the fun stuff. Monsters jump and throw things, they leap through the air and dog-pile and you see it. The imagination is right there on screen.

Let’s talk about Max, played by Max Records. From the opening frame of the movie, I completely connected with his character. His spirit is infectious. The joy he takes playing in the snow, getting hit in the face with snowballs. I love his recklessness, his imagination. When he is hurt, when he is defiant, when he is happy, when he has discovered something about himself, when he cheers up his mother, when he has seen something new and amazing and his eyes light up. This is a great performance. He is a force.

All the creatures are attributes of Max’s life, but they are not simple representations. Max can see a version of his family life in the dynamics of this new family, and because he is the king, he is confronted with things he might usually run away from. The film’s success depends on Max’s relationship with these Wild Things, particularly Carol. Jonze and co-writer Dave Eggers created this relationship just right. Carol and Max are kindred spirits, they spend much time together. It is this relationship that provides Max insights about himself, and their final moment is crushingly beautiful.

I am a runner. There is a freedom to it, it is energizing. In the movies, people never run right. They move too slow. Max does all kinds of running in “Where the Wild Things Are.” He runs with his whole heart, throwing himself into the motion. He runs and runs and runs and I dare the camera to just try to keeps up, like a parent scrambling after their toddler. You see these parents sometimes. They’re frustrated, embarrassed. But the kid has seen something interesting and must get closer. Getting to that new thing is their new life goal. And if it is dangerous, all the better. This movie is alive.