Sunday, May 30, 2010

Glad SATC 2 is kicking butt at the box office but wish the movie was better.

Prince of Persia, which costs a ton of money to make, is not doing well. Not sure who thought Jake was an action star. It came in at number #3 this weekend. It was expected to rule the box office.

*** edited 6/1 now box office estimates have Shrek at number #1. The studios are going to be arguing about the number 2 spot for a while.****

I went to see SATC 2 (in English) with some girlfriends Friday night.

I'm happy a female driven flim is making a mint so maybe more will be greenlit.

However, for the love of God, please bring back the female writers. The wit, charm and depth from the series is completely missing in SATC 2.

It's like the writer/director took all the criticism from the first one and said, "I'll show you shallow, ignorant, tone deaf, materialistic and unaware of their privilege women in their 40s and 50s who act like children."

The reviews of this movie were beyond scathing. I thought, well it's sexism and ageism.

While some of the reviews are just that, the Middle Eastern setting of the film is problematic.

It's sad to see such great characters reduced to caricatures.

I think Women & Hollywood brings up some great points.

The movie brought to mind some issues I have been thinking about lately. Why is it that gay men have become the purveyors of women’s stories? Is there something more comfortable about a gay man telling women’s stories than women doing it ourselves? Is it easier for Hollywood executives to write the check to a man for an obscene amount of money that they would never do for a woman? It made me think about Mamma Mia, a movie written and directed by women. That movie has made over a half a billion worldwide. We know there are tons of Abba songs out there, yet no noise about a sequel. Just makes me wonder.

When watching Sex and the City 2 I thought that a woman would never have made this movie. She could never get away with it. It’s not only a female fantasy, but it’s a gay male fantasy of women — that we all wear couture and three inch heels to take out the garbage. Because it is a movie it has lost some of the bite of the series and I also think that the series benefited from having women’s voices as part of the writing. They kept it grounded in some semblance of reality.

But this movie is not a hard look at reality. It’s a summer escape movie just like all the movies that blow shit up. You don’t think that guys who go see Iron Man have any expectation of becoming like Iron Man (except in their fantasies), just like I don’t expect to ever be able to fit in or wear a versace skirt. Women know this is not real, in fact 76% of the people (mostly women) who took a survey on look at the film as a “great escape.”

Friday, May 28, 2010

Flashback Friday - Nocera - "Summertime, Summertime" Mantronik Mix

It's Memorial Day weekend the States...the unofficial beginning of summer.

This jam from 1986 reminds me of summer in NYC. Listening to Hot 97, going to the Limelight. This song was played at EVERY party.

I went out with a DJ who made me a mix tape with this song, Joyce Sims and other classics from that era. I still have it. Back in the day, almost everyone and their mother had two turntables and mic.

I finally downloaded this song from iTunes as I haven't used my old Walkman in years.

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Nuns, Jesus and mammograms

Only in Italy.

I went to get my yearly mammogram. I had to start getting them early as my mom is a cancer survivor.

My doctor here is French and speaking Italian and English fluently. She has quite a few expat patients. She gave me the name of the place to get my mammogram and I made the appointment. I thought the office would be very similar to hers. A typical doctor's office.

Instead I show up at this very pretty villa on the Aventine Hill. I pay for my screening and sit in a reception area. There's a MASSIVE picture of Jesus staring at me. Okaaaaay.

A nun (full habit) comes out to take my forms. She's very nice and speaks not a word of English. We managed to have a conversation. There are several other nuns working in the office as well.

Soon I go into the room for my x-rays. The technician is very efficient and speaks Italian slowly.

The doctor comes in for the sonogram. In rapid fire Italian he asks me a bunch of questions. Non capito. He repeats. I answer.

As I lie on the table I look to my left and there's another picture of Jesus.

I look at the picture and say (not out loud of course), "You're everywhere in this city. I don't think I ever saw you in L.A." Then I had to restraint myself from laughing because that's a beyond stupido thing to say.

Everything was okay with my x-rays. Phew. They put also put my photos on a DVD. That's a first.

On the way home, I cut through the huge blooming rose garden. There must be a ballet school or class near there. I saw a bunch of little girls in leotards and tights by the gate and in the garden.

A piece of music from the Nutcracker started playing. I walk through the garden listening to the music. Circo Massimo is in front of me with the Palatine Hill in the background. It was a surreal moment. It felt like a movie, not real life.

Monday, May 24, 2010

All this negativity is making me more motivated.

Rant level: High

I can't go into details, but the last few weeks regarding work have been beyond terrible. The words, "no", "impossible" and "too difficult" keep coming up time and time again.

I had several long conference calls with my lawyer and a few good friends who work in the "industry".

To all this negativity I have one thing to say, FUCK YOU!

Really. I've busted my ass (at no money) for twelve years in this business. I'm well aware of the statistics regarding successful screenwriters, especially for black women. I'm not stupid. That I went ahead to pursue this career in the face of such discouraging stats either means I'm crazy or passionate. Or both.

I got up at 4:00 a.m. back in L.A. to write before I went to my intense job. Obviously I'm passionate about writing. I take it seriously. I love writing. I love movies. This is what I want to do. There's no plan B.

My industry friends don't understand why there's all this negativity AFTER I've sold a script. It's fucking bullshit. Throughout my film career I've had to deal with people constantly (mostly men) underestimating me.

Why does this happen? Is it because I'm short? Too nice?

All of this caused a minor set back. A complete lack of confidence. I was having a hard time writing and was staying up all night stressed out about my finances/future.

Yesterday was gorgeous out. I went on a three hour walk to Via Appia Antica. My mind was racing (as usual) and was I thinking about the past few weeks. I started to get angry. Why was I internalizing everything? I have a choice, I can accept the negativity, pack my bags and give up or I can keep writing, pitching ideas and working hard.

I chose the latter. My parents used to say I was "hard headed". When people tell me I can't do something that's an attainable goal, I love to prove them wrong. Another American expat told me it would be impossible for me to get my Italian license (she failed three times). Her comments pushed me to study harder. I passed the exams and got my license.

I'm reading "Tales From The Script". Fifty top screenwriters share their stories about the craft, breaking in, sustaining a career and the overall insanity of the business. It's inspiring. All these writers have written scripts that never sold, been fired off projects, been re-written etc. None of the stories of their success are the same. However, they do have a few things in common; discipline, love of the craft, love of movies, thick skin, sense of humor, an ability to see the big picture, etc.

Something clicked this weekend. I woke up today at 5:30 a.m. motivated like a mofo. I started working on my latest script immediately and had a very productive morning.

I need to listen to my gut more and negative nonsense less.

Soon my money will run out. Until that point I'm not going to think or worry about it. I'm putting on my blinders and focusing on the work. Stressing out about money is not going to make it suddenly appear in my life.

TRAITOR, the movie I was a producer on, has been playing on SKY Cinema lately. Working on the movie in Toronto was an incredible experience. I was surrounded by very talented people who clearly love what they do and do it well. It was on that movie I decided to leave L.A., move to Rome and pursue screenwriting full-time.

I'm going to make some changes that I'm excited about. Sometimes a negative can turn into a positive. I'm so focused now, it's a little scary.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Flashback Friday - Duran Duran - Rio

I'm feeling very summery with the warm weather. This weekend is supposed to be a stunner.

Do I wish I could go "chillax" in Portofino, Puglia, Sicilia, Positano, Sperlonga, etc.? Yes. Instead I will be working.

Oh well, some day I will be able to rent a place with ocean views for the summer like other writers.

Until then I'm going to listen to some upbeat MUSIC and keep writing.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

It's mojito and Aperol Spritz weather...finally!

It's been a strange spring. I'm not going to complain given that this time last year I was complaining about the heat.

After weeks of rain the sun is out. And the forecast calls for more sun.

So bye-bye bold red wines and hello Mojitos, Aperol or Campari spritzes, white wine, prosecco, Bellini, etc. etc.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

You've Got Mail! Girl Scouts Samoas Cookies

Imagine my surprise when I opened my mail today. Girl Scout cookies!! Thanks Dawn.

I asked my sister about them a few weeks back and was sadly informed that I had missed the season. Tears.

However, my friend Dawn, a mom of two in Montclair, New Jersey, clearly had the inside track.

The timing couldn't be more perfect as I'm dealing with some depressing work related stuff right now. This made my day.

That no one at Poste Italiane ate my cookies is shocking to me. Maybe they haven't heard of the yummy goodness that are Samoas and left my package alone. heh

I already put GS cookies season on my iCal for next year. I was a Brownie and then a Girl Scout. Cookie season was the best.

Two cookies have 150 calories. Do I care? No. I putting them in the freezer and will try to not to eat the entire box in one weekend.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sigh...Inter wins the Serie A Italian League, again

Of course my friend G, a hard core Inter fan, is in a very good mood.

It's still a miracle that Roma was only two points behind given how terrible Roma's season stared.

This is the fourth year in a row Inter has won the Scudetto. If they beat Bayern Munich in next weeks Champions league, they will have won the tremble: The Coppia Italia, the Scudetto and Serie A. Barcelona won the tremble last year.

We'll see what happens next season. Roma played with a lot of heart.

Yesterday, after Roma won their last game of the season, I heard the song below over and over again. Some of the lyrics are in Roman dialect, right?

It's the end of the season but the biggest sporting event on the planet starts next month...The World Cup!!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Flashback Friday - Queen Latifah - "Come Into My House" Live

All hail the Queen!

Her new movie "Just Wright" opens in the States today.

A mix of house music and hip-hop, this song was the jam back in the day.

The clip is from a 1991 concert.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Gelateria del Teatro... some of the best gelato in Rome

There are many places in Rome that sell gelato. You have the chains and then there are little places like Gelateria del Teatro.

I read about this place on Moscerina's blog back when I was still living in L.A.

She loves this place and so do I.

It's tiny. Service can be slow. However, they use fresh ingredients. The gelato is made on-site and their prices are similar to the generic chains (2 euros for a small).

The blood orange made from Sicilian oranges is in season for a few weeks. It will take every bit of will power I have for me not to walk over there every day for a cup.

It's a little hard to find, located on a side street off Via dei Coronari a few blocks east of Sant' Angelo Bridge.

Gelateria del Teatro
Via di San Simone 70
06 454 74880

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Namastey: For tea lovers in Rome

I am a loose tea convert thanks to Diana. I stayed at her fantastic B&B last August for my birthday.

With her outrageously delicious breakfasts, she served a tea she bought at a store in Rome.

I finally tracked down Namastey at its new location but they were out of the Rooibos tea I wanted.

Instead I bought green tea (a Spicy Chai) and a Rooibos Zenzero which has a touch of cinnamon and chocolate.

The store has a very wide variety of teas and the staff is very helpful. Namastey is located right behind the Pantheon.

Via della Palombella, 26

Monday, May 10, 2010

Lena Horne died yesterday.

Ms. Horne died in New York City at age 92. The world legend is used so often, it has lost some of it's meaning.

She was a legend.

The New York Times ran a piece about her life and her work.

A couple of lines jumped out at me:

Ms. Horne might have become a major movie star, but she was born 50 years too early, and languished at MGM in the 1940s because of the color of her skin, although she was so light-skinned that, when she was a child, other black children had taunted her, accusing her of having a “white daddy.”

Ms. Horne was stuffed into one “all-star” musical after another — “Thousands Cheer” (1943), “Broadway Rhythm” (1944), “Two Girls and a Sailor” (1944), “Ziegfeld Follies” (1946), “Words and Music” (1948) — to sing a song or two that could easily be snipped from the movie when it played in the South, where the idea of an African-American performer in anything but a subservient role in a movie with an otherwise all-white cast was unthinkable.

She had been singing at the Manhattan nightclub CafĂ© Society when the impresario Felix Young chose her to star at the Trocadero, a nightclub he was planning to open in Hollywood in the fall of 1941. In 1990, Ms. Horne reminisced: “My only friends were the group of New Yorkers who sort of stuck with their own group — like Vincente, Gene Kelly, Yip Harburg and Harold Arlen, and Richard Whorf — the sort of hip New Yorkers who allowed Paul Robeson and me in their houses.”

Since blacks were not allowed to live in Hollywood, “Felix Young, a white man, signed for the house as if he was going to rent it,” Ms. Horne said. “When the neighbors found out, Humphrey Bogart, who lived right across the street from me, raised hell with them for passing around a petition to get rid of me.” Bogart, she said, “sent word over to the house that if anybody bothered me, please let him know.”

Friday, May 07, 2010

Flashback Friday - Whitney Houston - "Hold On, Help Is On The Way"

Love this uplifting gospel song from the movie "The Preacher's Wife." I needed to hear this song today. It's been a challenging week.

I miss this Whitney.

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Moscerina's very funny (and informative) post on our trip to Bologna

It's clear Erica writes about travel. Her POST actually has addresses, photos, links, etc.

I agree with her that Mister Gal is not a great name for a boutique.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Day Trip to Bologna: Part 2.. .Chocolate, Kettle Chips, Balenciaga and Porticos

Last week I wrote about the lunch we had in Bologna.

The first thing I noticed when we arrived in Bologna, was the lack of tourists. Like Naples, Bologna is not packed with international tourists compared to cities like Venice, Rome and Florence. I would highly recommend taking a trip to Bologna if you have time. For such a small city there is a lot to see and do.

You can tell this city doesn't cater to tourists because most places shut down at lunch time. Even the MAC make up store was closed from 1 - 3:30 p.m.

There are several stunning piazzas in Bologna. Basilica di San Peitronia near Piazza del Nettuno is a must see. The facade is incomplete. The locals wanted to make it bigger than St. Peters but the Church put the kaboosh on that idea. No pictures are allowed inside. I didn't know this until I heard, "Scusa, no foto."

Being a broke ragazza is no fun. We went to EATALY, a book/food store. This Torino based store has a branch in Milano, Bologna, Tokyo and New York City but not in Rome? This is an outrage!

E and I walked in and saw KETTLE CHIPS. Americans, you know of what I speak. I haven't seen those chips since I moved overseas two years ago. I bought the Sea Salt & Balsamic Vinegar. Delicious. I also found the Limone Gazzosa soda I've been looking for all over Rome. They sell four-packs of them. There were rows of pasta from all over Italy and other food items. I had to get out of there.

We also stepped into a very funky clothing store. I looked to my right and there was a wall display with several Balenciaga bags. TEARS.

The Professor did not understand why E and I were going on and on about this store. The clothes were very fashion forward but I also saw some nice classic styles. Too bad everything was out of my price range. My range these days is 7 euros...enough for some chips and soda. The 1,400 euros Balenciaga bags will have to wait.

In the afternoon, we went to the Roccati chocolate store when it re-opened. Founded in 1909, it's a little pricey but good handmade chocolate always is.

This store was on Via Clavature, the same street as the MAC store and the hip clothing boutique.

Neptune standing over his piazza.

What the heck is she doing?

Some of the porticos are very elaborate. This one is more minimalist.


More chocolate.