Sunday, January 14, 2018

Timothée Chalamet at Los Angeles Film Critics' Association Gala

LAFCA Best Actor Timothée & Best Director Luca Guadagnino
Just ten days after my Palm Springs Film Festival gala red carpet fan interaction quickie with Call Me By Your Name actor, Timothée Chalamet, I finally got his autograph and a selfie with him as he was attending the LAFCA gala to receive his Best Actor award at the Intercontinental Hotel in Century City. I have been aware of this event for over a month since this prestigious critic's group announced their winners in early December. But only until this past Thursday did I get the epiphany to just go to the hotel and see if I could capture his red carpet moment. After all, LAFCA awarded CMBYN with Best Actor, Best Picture, and Best Director (tied with Del Toro), so this was a big CMBYN event. I prepared myself to leave empty handed or not being able to see anything, but the Type A planner than I am, I arrived at the hotel around 11:30 am to scope it out and see if I could gather some information about the event that will be held at the hotel.

The hotel kiosk directory had the day's schedule listed and it showed that the LAFCA event was going to start at 6pm with cocktails and the gala at 7pm. Perfect! This gave me more than enough time to do some shopping at Century City Westfield mall, catch the 12:30 pm showing of The Post at AMC (which was brilliant by the way), and eat lunch before heading back to the hotel around 4pm. As I arrived back at the hotel, the red carpet was just being set up, so I enjoyed free hotel wi-fi and sat in the cozy lounge area of this fancy hotel for the next two hours.

At this time, I was starting to feel positive about having a good view of the red carpet. I just sat in the lobby using the wi-fi and reading my current issue of Variety. There were no other obvious fans around, just the people setting up the event. However, as time got closer to the start of the cocktail time, the first red carpet arrivals arrived promptly. The first was Michael Stuhlbarg, and then I noticed producer Peter Spears. Shortly afterwards, I saw director Luca Guadagnino. They all spent a good amount of time on the red carpet talking to the press. I noticed the fan crowd was starting to swell a bit, but it was mostly hotel guests being looky loos and curious about what was going on. Michael went into the hotel lobby pretty quickly after he finished speaking with the press, but Luca and Peter were on the hunt for Timmy because he wasn't there yet. I over heard them saying, 'Where's Timmy it's getting late?' And so Luca went back to the front of the hotel driveway looking out for Timmy's sedan. Meanwhile, Peter was talking to a PR type person, and I gently tapped him on the arm and excused myself for interrupting, and I just told him how much I enjoyed Call Me By Your Name, and that I've seen it 3 times and that I wanted to wish him good luck with the Oscars. He said, Thank You, with a smile and did a hapchang (Buddhist like standing bow).

Soon after that, I kept my eye on the area that Luca was standing at and suddenly, there was Timothée coming out of a sedan, all full of smiles. Luca gave him a great big hug, and that's when Peter and Michael went over to them so they can take some red carpet photos. But first, the publicist wanted pictures of Timmy by himself, and the photographers went hog wild. He went up the red carpet twice to have the photographers get their pics of him. Then there was the group photos, and then Timmy briefly spoke with each reporter there. As he got closer to where I was standing, there were now at least 20 young girls. I don't know if a fairy just dropped them off, but, there they were, like on cue. Security told me that the guests weren't going to sign autographs, so that bummed me out, so I had to try to get a selfie. I've never taken a selfie with a celebrity and it's not something I want to do again, but it feels like the biggest high five when you get it. Just as the last word came out of Timmy's mouth with the last reporter at the end of the red carpet, me and another girl at the same time asked for a selfie and he said sure. So that's how I got mine. It's not the best quality but Timmy looked fine in my photo. Thankfully, later this evening on Twitter, one of the journalist covering the LAFCA event posted a picture of me and Timmy taking my selfie (see below). Apparently he was that last reporter at the end of the red carpet (@marcmalkin).

Security and the PR people tried to steer Timmy into the hotel, but that's when the cute swarm of tweens came to him asking for pictures. They were very nice kids and Timmy being Timmy was more than happy to take pictures with them. He was recorded giving a shout out to a prolific NY stan dude that was posted on twitter, and he met a couple girls he has seen before. Just as he signed one girl's CMBYN book, I pulled out my Gay Times November 2017 magazine that had that 15 page cover article on the film. I asked Timmy to sign the magazine and he did. That's what I wanted from him. A tangible piece of memorabilia from an actor that I really adore in just these amazingly short 7 weeks. I'm totally going to frame this bad boy!!

I am so happy that I followed through on this crazy spontaneous plan to just drive to the hotel and plot my logistics on how to hang out along the red carpet of this special event to celebrate Timothée Chalamet as the Best Actor of 2017 from the Los Angeles Film Critics' Association. This is a tough group of critics and for any actor to be named the best actor by them, truly is the best actor of that year. I am completely satisfied with this experience and I don't need to get another selfie with him or get another autograph. If I'm lucky to be at an event he's at, I'll happily take pictures of him again, but I don't need to wash, rinse, repeat with him. I'm good. I'm so lucky to be living in Los Angeles now, none of this would have happened in Michigan. It's so much fun being able to celebrate a worthy actor's phenomenal success with him and with my readers.

Timmy and half my head taken by @marcmalkin

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Palm Springs Film Festival Gala with Timothée Chalamet

I had the pleasure to attend my second Palm Springs Int'l Film Festival Awards Gala last night, January 2nd. And the primary reason for my attending was to witness Timothée Chalamet receiving his Rising Star - Male award, an honor he definitely deserved due to his critically acclaimed performance in Call Me By Your Name. I have seen Timmy in a few performances in the past, namely in Interstellar, but he was just another cute young actor in supporting roles. However, all that changed on Monday, November 27th, when I attended a special LA Times screening of Call Me By Your Name in Sherman Oaks. CA. I not only had my mind blown by this beautiful film, but there was a Q&A with Luca, Armie, Michael and Timothée. I was so impressed with Timmy that I started to pay close attention to his social media and his established fans on the internet. Needless to say, I've learned a lot about him and the film in a short amount of time. And now just five weeks later, I'm mesmerized by this actor and I'm rooting for him all the way to win the Oscar. And speaking of that, since many of you are just now becoming familiar with my blog, I have been following the Oscars very closely since the early 90s, and this coming awards season, I will be writing specifically covering the Best Actor race. But more on this tenuous situation later.

A few days after my first viewing of CMBYN, I received an email from the PS Film Festival with an update about the honorees for this year's gala. When I saw that Timmy was going to be honored, I bought one of the last remaining tickets to attend. So fast forward to last night, I attended the gala and had a seat at a table near the back, but it was a prime spot in the back because nearly everyone passed by my table to go to the bar or restrooms/lobby. So I saw loads of celebrities and important industry people pass by me. And saw Armie Hammer and his wife Elizabeth pass by a few times. And only during their second trip past me, as Elizabeth was going back to her table, that's when I noticed where she was sitting, just 7 tables away from me. And there was Timothée sitting there, laughing and talking to others at the table. It would have been inappropriate to go to the table to bother him at that time, so I figured once the event ended, I would try to go over and get a picture. But alas, not 10 minutes later, their table got up and left to go to the Parker Hotel after party. But since I knew where he was sitting, I figured I could go there and see if I could take a picture of his name plate. However, as I got there, his table did not have name cards, but I knew the seat he sat at, and he left his program on the floor next to his chair, and the bottom edge of the program is dented a little due to him shifting his chair against the program while it was on the floor. Timmy also left his crystal Buddha that all guests got. So, I nabbed those two things and figured they would make a great giveaway contest gift to a rabid Chalamet Cheerleader. Here is what the program and Buddha figurine look like.

In good condition, Timmy's chair crinkled it.

The page featuring Timothée.

The Swarovski blue Buddha figurine Timmy left behind.

To enter this contest giveaway, respond to this tweet with a number between 1300 to 2000 (hint, it's the table number I sat at) through Sunday, Jan 7th at 9pm EST . It's like a digital raffle, it's the best way to find the winner who gets closest to the table number. The winner will be announced on Monday, Jan 8th. Contest is limited to US shipping address.

Lastly, here is a video of me on the red carpet. You won't see me, but you'll hear me. I hesitated to share this because I sound like an idiot. Everyone is positioning themselves to get Timmy's pic and I'm trying ask one of those ladies to get a picture of me giving Timmy that little bag of candy peaches. Mission accomplished (see first image at top of article).

In closing, keep an eye on this blog as I'll be analyzing the Best Actor Oscar race this season in support of Timothée. He's up against a so-called 'lock' and, it's my belief that although it's a tight race, and a lot of people want to be lazy and give the Oscar to the more seasoned Actor, I think with Timothée's beautiful work, and the great PR he's getting from winning prestigious critics awards, he can turn the long established tide of age discrimination and bias against actors under the age of 30.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

What a Year: 2017 Review

As 2017 comes to a close, I want to acknowledge some of the highlights and low lights of this year that have happened to me. You know the saying, what doesn't kill you, just makes you stronger, and I end this year a stronger person!

I hated my former jobs.
I started this year off just being in Los Angeles for a couple of months. I had a starter job that I took just to be working in my new home state. It soon became a job I desperately wanted to leave, and thankfully, I was able to not only find a new job in late March, but at a place very close to home. You are extremely lucky to live in the Los Angeles area and have a short commute to work. It's a blessing really. But yet again, as I realized my first year in LA would be a year of transition, the second job wasn't much better, but at least it was more manageable than my first job. Knowing the job search in So Cal is like having a full time job because it takes so much time to look for suitable jobs to apply to, and make yourself available for job interviews, often at a distance to travel. The chess game of  thinking of persuasive excuses to come in later to work or leave early, or take a longer lunch, really tests one's level of creativity, and acting abilities. After wasting a LOT of time with interviewers/companies who played unprofessional games, and dead end/black hole interview processes, I was able to land a nice contract assignment at an employer I have been wanting to get into since I moved to LA. This company works exclusively with select agencies, and after a CIA level background check, once you are accepted for an assignment, you have your foot in the door to be hired permanently when the opportunity arrives. I have literally found the company that I want to retire from. Short of having a company that is part of the entertainment industry ring me up and offer me a job, I don't need to apply for another job at another company again. I'm set. So, thank you to the universe for throwing this opportunity my way.

Working on the periphery of the entertainment industry is fine with me.
Although my goal of getting a paid job in the entertainment industry did not pan out - far too many games and it being very competitive, I will be fine with continuing volunteer opportunities and participating in film festivals as side hobbies. In a blog post I'll write later this week, I have the Palm Springs film festival and gala that I'll be attending this week. Meanwhile, I'm waiting to hear back from the Film Independent people to see if I have been approved to be a volunteer with them this year, which will allow me to work at the Spirit Awards in March in Santa Monica. I worked with the group of people who will decide my fate at the LA Film Festival. I can be a part of the entertainment industry in a creative capacity that will allow me access to events that I could have only dreamed of when I lived in Michigan.

Another great thing that happened in 2017, in my new home of LA, are the concerts and events I was able to attend. I saw some great shows at the Hollywood Bowl and at the Rose Bowl. I saw U2 and Depeche Mode for the first time in 16 years! I last saw these two bands back in 2001 when I lived in New York City, way on the other side of the country! I also saw Coldplay give the best concert I have seen in years, and sadly, but fortunately, I was able to see Tom Petty for  the first and only time on September 23. He would die just a week later from cardiac arrest. This year also saw me achieve credit worthiness at a level which allowed me to open up much needed lines of credit so that I can have more flexible spending to meet personal and professional needs. A new credit card allowed me to buy a $650 Hamilton ticket for my birthday in September. Membership is indeed priceless.

Call Me By Your Name
I saw a lot of movies this year, and a few of them were at special screenings where Q&As occurred. My favorite film this year was Call Me By Your Name (CMBYN) - be warned, I will be writing a lot about this film this coming awards season. I have seen it three times so far, and in the new year, sometime in January, I'll see it for the 4th time. The last time I saw a movie at the theater three times was The Silence of the Lambs. CMBYN resonated with me and affected me personally in so many ways that it's hard to describe or share. All I'll say is that it's a beautiful love story that came at a time where I have been exhausted by all the evil that is going on in the world, everyday political news, and my own personal struggles with my mentally and physically exhaustive job search. Love does cheer a heart up and I'm so in love with CMBYN. 

1. Call Me By Your Name 2. Blade Runner 2049 3. Three Billboards in Ebbings, Missouri 4. The Shape of Water 5. Mudbound 6. Wonder Woman 7. The Big Sick 8. Logan 9. Lady Bird 10. Get Out

I will be very active here at Theatre of Zen in the coming months as I prepare to write about my volunteer experience at the Spirit Awards, my voting abilities for the Spirit Awards, and the upcoming Golden Globes and Oscars, and the awards between those two. It's pretty clear to me that I moved to a city that will allow me to fulfill my professional career and ambitions, as well as allow me to pursue my creative interests in support of the entertainment industry, and I'm excited to share my experiences with my readers!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Golden Globes 2018 Nominees

I was so excited this morning to learn that my two favorite films this year have been nominated for multiple Golden Globe awards. Call Me By Your Name (CMBYN) received three nominations in Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Picture. It's too bad that the Best Director ignored Luca Guadagnino, but I think the Oscars will recognize him, he really deserves that honor, even though he won't win. And why not? Because Guillermo Del Toro for The Shape of Water is the director I think should win this year, and his film received seven Golden Globe nominations.

I plan to see Call Me and Shape of Water at least once more in the theater in the coming weeks. If I see CMBYN once more, it will be for the fourth time and that will be the most I have seen a film during its theatrical run. Another film I wanted to see that received several GG nominations today is I, Tonya. I had a ticket to see the movie on Saturday along with the cast Q&A, but Toyota in Pasadena found something broken on my car and thankfully the warranty covered it, but, it added on 3 hours to my already long visit at the shop. So I had to cancel the Q&A.

I'm so happy to have found some interesting films and performances to support this Oscar season. I am no longer focusing as much attention on another actor who seems to have put acting on hold, and this just allows me to enjoy the work of artists who deserve the praise for their brilliant hard work.

The Screen Actor's Guild (SAG) award nominations are this Wednesday, and if CMBYN does well there in the acting categories, it's safe to say that both Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer will receive well deserved Oscar nominations in January.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

My Twitter Brand Change

I created my Twitter account way back in May of 2009. And since I'm a creature of habit, I have been using the same name handle (@FassFass) and an image of an actor all this time. As of today, I changed my Twitter to @Theatreof Zen and I uploaded my own personal picture. Now that I'm in LA and really exploring the world of film with a first hand perspective, I need my Twitter account to reflect a bit more professionalism, and correlate it to my actual hobby of being the editor of this blog. It's been a long time coming and it's a relief to finally make this change to focus on my branding. I will continue to focus on current events, politics, and the entertainment industry.

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Reasons I'm Living in LA!

As the month of November is coming to a close, I find myself stopping and thinking to myself that one of the primary reasons why I moved to Los Angeles is to be a part of the machinations of the film industry. I have accepted the fact that I will not find a career job within the industry, but I could still enjoy it very much by being on the periphery and enjoying film screenings, celebrity Q&As, and attending film festivals. Just in the past week, I have made big decisions that will permit me to be a part of a fascinating world that is part of the entertainment industry.

Firstly, I went ahead and joined Film Independent at the Film Lover level so that I can vote in the upcoming Film Independent Spirit Awards. This is a big step in the direction I need to take to become even more active in the industry, meet people, and be exposed to more films via free screenings so that I can write more about the films I love. Additionally, at the Film Lover level, I will receive screeners of the films that have been nominated for Spirit Awards. This is a huge deal, and a lot of responsibility comes with this voting ability. So I'm super excited about this next venture in my hobby life. I have been so disappointed and stressed out with my job search and with my other blog in which the muse of my blog has taken a different turn in his life at the moment. But all that be as it is, I'm grateful for my love of cinema which has allowed me to escape the crap of life and enjoy beautiful films.

Timothée Chalamet

In recent weeks, I have seen the Justice League (B+), and The Shape of Water (A), and Call Me By Your Name ( Review: A) - a film that I will see for a third time this Saturday, which will be another Q&A with cute Timothée Chalamet and director Luca Guadagnino. I love this film so much, and with Timmy winning the highly coveted and influential NY Film Critic's Circle Best Actor on Thursday, he now seems to have a clear road to receiving an Oscar nomination, and with enough good will and luck for him, he could actually win. But that's a different blog post at the right time.

And another big event I'm looking forward to is driving to my beloved Palm Springs to attend the Palm Springs Int'l Film Festival Gala on January 2nd. As I write this article, the general seats are still available at $350 a pop. Trust me, this is a good bargain because when I attended the Gala in January 2016, I had to pay $1000 to attend, and I was squeezed in as a favor. But I got my ticket weeks earlier and I will be attending with my Canadian snowbird friends again. Timothee will be an honoree for the Rising Star Award - Actor, and Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) will receive the Rising Star Award - Actress. More celebrities will be announced, but you can see the tentative list here. I consider myself to be so lucky to be able to attend an event like this. And then I will drive back to Palm Springs to watch a few movies Jan 5-7.

Being in LA is allowing me to live out my interests of participating in events that support the film industry. If I can't be in a paid creative part of the industry, I can be a spectator up close.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Film Review: Call Me By Your Name (A)

With the world in so much turmoil as of late, it takes a simple love story to give us a little hope about the world and humanity. Luca Guadagnino's adaptation of Andre Aciman's 2007 novel, Call Me By Your Name is that movie that we all need right now. Set in the early 80s in Northern Italy, a precocious gorgeous 17 year old American-Italian boy, Elio, played by Timothee Chalamet, is living with his family in a large villa when they welcome a guest archaeologist scholar into their home for six weeks. The scholar, named Oliver, played by Armie Hammer, is a very handsome, laid back American whom immediately stirs something deeply within Elio. Oliver takes note of this and begins to leave hints to young Elio of his interest, or is it an annoyance? The bohemian upper class lifestyle of Elio's family permits him to have a free spirit attitude towards life. And his interactions with his parents reveals that they respect his individuality, and encourage his creativity and self-expression, as well as exploring his sexuality. When Oliver invites Elio for a bike ride into town, it is a test for both of them to explore exactly what is happening between them, and they become honest with each other because their attraction to one another is palpable. The brewing sexual desire between Elio and Oliver is beautifully consummated one evening and they opened a door that will eventually have to be closed.

Call Me By Your Name is a beautiful love story that you will never want to end. There are moments that make you so nervous about which direction Elio and Oliver's journey will take you. But when Elio's father, played by Michael Stuhlburg, explains to Elio about how lucky he was to have the experience to love Oliver, and be with someone who makes you love yourself and life, and how much his father supports what he experienced, it is a heart warming moment that makes you wish all parents of gay children were as compassionate and loving of their child.

Being in Los Angeles has afforded me the opportunity to attend special screenings of films, and as a subscriber to the LA Times, I was lucky to attend the screening of this film, and the Q&A afterwards with the director and actors. Below are three short videos I recorded from the Q&A which reveal insights into the filming process, Armie's dance sequence, and Timothee talks about the fruit moment. I can't wait to see this movie again, and after it has received six Spirit Award nominations, I believe it will make it all the way to the Oscars with hopeful nominations for Armie and Timothee. Call Me By Your Name will seduce you into viewing it at least twice in the theater as I already purchased by ticket to see it again on Saturday afternoon at Arclight Hollywood.

Grade: A

Armie Hammer (Oliver) and Timothee Chalamet (Elio)

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Film Review: Blade Runner 2049 - A+

It is extremely rare that I watch a film and want to see it again immediately. This is the case of Blade Runner 2049, the follow up sequel to the incredible Blade Runner (1982). I was completely mesmerized within minutes by the cinematography, music score, sound design... all the technical awards should just automatically start inscribing BR2049 on the name plates. Set 30 years after Blade Runner Rick Decker (Harrison Ford) disappears, an LAPD Blade Runner, Officer K (Ryan Gosling) is placed on a mission to find Decker because he's the literal key to an important missing link that was recently discovered, which could destroy the so called system of order, or rather, the wall, between humans and replicants.

The replicants are synthetic humans created strictly for slave labor, and there are older model replicants that need to be destroyed. They have been replaced by newer models that are more obedient to the demands of humans. After Officer K kills one of those Nexus model replicants, he uncovers a well hidden grave site that opens a pandora's box of world changing truths. However, the organization that creates replicants learn the truth discovered from those buried bones and are desperate to find Decker. Blade Runner 2049 explores the question, 'Do AIs have a soul'? We certainly see in BR2049 that they are more human that humans in this world, and yearn for the truth to come out so that they can use that information and take control of their own destinies.

Director Denis Villenueve's beautiful, almost meditative journey through an otherwise dusty and dreary landscape makes this 2 hours and 44 minute film go by so quickly because you lose yourself in its beauty, and the anxious moments watching the twists and turns to the climax of this fantastic exploration of human greed, abuse, and oppression over the artificially designed.

Grade: A+