Search for Wisdom

I came to Hollywood seeking significance, but I lacked wisdom.

Over the past 12 months, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet many people. Some were writers, actors, directors, cinematographers. Others were pastors, mothers, doctors, lawyers, baristas, yoga instructors. Not one could teach me the meaning of wisdom.

Yet I sought desperately the way to be happy. I sought the knowledge–artistic and spiritual–necessary to become a great artist. And more than that, a great man.

I learned to be an intern. I asked the executive what it meant to actualize your inner truth. And she sent me to the manager.

I learned how to get a manager. And I met managers. And they told me to go to the indie filmmaker.

I befriended the indie filmmaker. I asked him, “What must I know to succeed?” And he told me to go to the networking lunch administrator.

I went to the networking lunch administrator, who meets in the back of the Chinese restaurant on Wilshire Boulevard. And she sent me to the virtual reality expo.

I witnessed the virtual reality expo in 3D Atmos Surround. Along the way I met Anne Hathaway, who could not teach me the meaning of wisdom—only the difference between Versace and Valentino.

I studied the greats: Fellini, Coppola, Scorcese. Lasseter. I resolved to write every single day until my fingers bled and my heart exploded in authenticity. This authenticity I believed to be the secret to enlightenment. If I died in the street one night they would find a 350 page unsigned manuscript strapped to my hand I swore in the name of art.

I visited the Dreamworks Lot, the Writer’s Guild Library, and the CAA Building. I don’t know if you know this, but the Creative Artists Agency represents over 3,400 of the most influential filmmakers in Hollywood. Forbes Magazine estimates that it is worth over 5.39 billion dollars. If you’ve never been to the CAA building, it’s this big white complex full of agents scurrying about, split down the middle with this sweet garden. It’s a cold mix of Monticello and that 2000 crime drama “Boiler Room” starring Ben Affleck and Giovanni Ribisi. It is not a popular place for tourists, but I’m not just any tourist.

Today I visited the CAA Building, and between those long, wide halls, past the elevators and security guards, by the garden there was an open door. And no one was looking (everyone’s attention was on an event they were setting up for later), so me, not knowing really where I was going, just sort of slipped in.

And I went down a staircase, and it got sort of dark, and when I reached the bottom there at the other side of the room was Steven Spielberg.

WOAH. I was in the same room as the director of JAWS. And let me tell you. When you reach that point, you stop caring about propriety. I had to shake his hand, at any cost.

I’m not going to pretend he was paying any attention to me. He was talking to someone—probably a writer friend. But I got a grip and I was dressed pretty nice, so I skirted past all the tables in the room before he could leave and I said something like, “Mr. Spielberg I’m a huge fan. I so respect your work and what you’ve overcome in the industry. It’s an honor to meet you.” And he smiled. He was pretty creeped out. He wasn’t keen to like, shake my hand or anything.

But SURPRISINGLY, he engaged me. “Who are you?” He said.

“I’m a writer. I want to write for science fiction and fantasy television or the CW,” I said. “Can you give me any advice?”

Steven Freaking Spielberg said, “I’m about to meet my agent. But you’ve got guts. I’ll give you one tip on the walk over.”

So we went out the back of the room, into this dank hallway, and there were all these pictures of Hollywood greats lining the walls. I didn’t know what to say. Should I go for the practical or the personal? What would you say? We reached a wooden door studded with gold around the frame, and behind that was another door, which was purple, and he pulled out some keys and opened that one to reveal an office with a silver table and a bowl full of fruit I had never seen before.

I said, “Mr. Spielberg, can you tell me just one thing, out of everything in your long career in entertainment. What is the secret to wisdom?

There was a twinkle in his eye as he leaned close and whispered,

“Rey is a Skywalker and Leia’s her mommy.”

Power Rangers, 2017 – ★★★★

Having not grown up watching Power Rangers as a kid, I have to believe this was everything you could have ever wanted from a Power Rangers movie. It doesn’t seem lazy or safe, like other, somehow-acclaimed superhero films of its type.

It ticks all the boxes for me-Diversity, Real Teen Issues, Edginess, Humor that works, Camp, and Giant Robots in a way that feels fresh. It’s not a perfect film, but really, really fun. More should be made like it.

Vía Letterboxd – Garrett Sisson

Interstellar Review

November 14, 2014, Originally Published in Covenant College’s Newspaper- “The Bagpipe”

Here’s the bottom line about Interstellar: It is grand science fiction, conceptually brilliant and entertaining. However, because of its flaws, especially in the ending, it lacks the cohesiveness necessary to make it a classic for a wider audience outside its genre.

The first trailer for Interstellar came out a year ago, and built huge expectations for a smart, meaningful space drama with epic spaceship launches and a voiceover about the expansion and scientific triumphs of mankind. A slew of physics research inspired the film, which promised an old fashioned “family” adventure across wormholes, black holes, and time itself.

The good news is that this movie delivers on all of those promises. Every moment of the liftoff, dimensional travel sequences, and exploration of the vast unknown of space is a joy to watch. Never before have planets been rendered so beautiful, and the intricacies of the cosmos have never felt so tangible as in the hands of Christopher Nolan. Everything feels big. The drama is rife with intensity. It was even shot on 70mm film.

This is a high concept piece. The science is rigidly documented, theoretical and fun, while uncertainty abounds. Nolan draws on the model of classic science fiction movies such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind and 2001: A Space Odyssey to take the audience on an adventure, without ever letting them know where they are going. It is the thrill of discovery that fuels Interstellar, rather than the destination itself. This kind of sci-fi movie has been sorely lacking in recent years.

Interstellar also proves that it can tackle big, thematic ideas maturely. Amidst the desperate race to colonize space before Earth dies are motifs of destiny, humanity, and willpower, as well as more narrow topics, such as family loyalty, the fears of abandonment or wasting your life, and, of course, love.

These themes are carried well largely due to the movie’s praiseworthy acting. Matthew McConaughey is a convincing and exciting lead in every scene throughout the movie–even the hokie bits, and Jessica Chastain, though not billed highest, has a presence that practically steals the second half of the show. Those two keep the movie emotionally relevant. Also notable is a brief but impressive appearance from Matt Damon, which keeps things lively.

On a conceptual level, the movie works. However, there is also a list of things that weren’t great about it.

Unfortunately, Nolan likes words, even when too many of them make for clunky writing. The movie’s beginning, though imaginative, is terribly slow and heavy on exposition. Thematic material tends to be delivered in sequences of memorable lines, rather than character action, and a consequence of this is that some of the movie’s great themes do not converge in a satisfying way. Interstellar can also be too smart for its own good, bordering on pretentious and leaving the audience behind in a wake of scientific technobabble. Perhaps most problematic is the movie’s ending, which is rather misguided all around.  Finally, I should mention that the entire movie is overlaid with an obnoxious Inception-esque blaring sound.

Ultimately though, none of these issues are insufferable. They are confined problems in a script with many awesome, wonderful merits.

As stated earlier, sci-fi is often about the journey, not the destination.

So to conclude, though it’s not his best film, if you like Christopher Nolan, you should see Interstellar. If you like sci-fi, you should definitely see Interstellar, because the movie is excellent. Though maybe not for everyone, Interstellar is a rare treasure of a movie, and a refreshing reminder of why we enjoy classical science fiction. Three and a half out of four stars.