• Film Photos: Hello 2016!

    I've been wanting to post some film photos for like 9 months. These are from an old film roll, from late 2016. Trips to the L.A. Natural History Museum, days in Los Feliz, my annual Friendsgiving Dinner, a day-visit to Universal Studios with Omar. It's not nostalgia - I just want to post more, for my own sake and memory. 

    And now that I'm here - I have more film rolls that need to be developed, but where are they? This is what happens with film rolls isn't it? Film rolls are tiny and easy to lose, and then one day, you find them, hidden inside an old shoe box, go develop it and find a nice surprise. I guess I'll just wait for my nice surprise 4.5 years from now. Hey, I'll be in my 30s! 


  • Best Films of 2016

    My love for movies is deep and everlasting. They are my friends when I feel lonely and my backup when I feel uncertain. The movie theater is like my second home - a magical place where I laugh and face my fears, and also a place where I constantly challenge my worldviews and beliefs.

    I always like to list my favorite films of the year by Oscar night, so here are my favorites of 2016:

    1. Arrival by Dennis Villeneuve
    2. Moonlight by Barry Jenkins
    3. La La Land by Damien Chazelle
    4. Hell of High Water by David Mackenzie
    5. Midnight Special by Jeff Nichols
    6. 12th by Ava Duvernay 
    7. 10 Cloverfield Lane by  Dan Trachtenberg
    8. One More Time With Feeling by Andrew Dominik
    9. Everybody Wants Some by Richard Linklater
    10. Café Society by Woody Allen 


  • A Woman Thing: Feeling Like A Ball Inside A Pinball Machine

    Photo by Tyler Spangler

    Disclaimer: I haven't done my research, and while I love doing research, right now, I just want to write about the feelings accumulating up inside of me. Here goes:

    I'm starting to think that the idea of telling personal stories through film isn't the way to go (or very smart, maybe that’s a given). They seldom get financial backing and no one seems to want to watch them, especially if they come from a woman. It's like, they know. Also, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg didn't get their start by telling "personal stories" did they? I know the answer to this, but I'm feeling so insecure about myself, about being a woman working in the film industry, that I just can't say for sure. I'm sure they started by telling these cool high-concept stories. That's because men are less attached, less emotional. I'm not speaking specifically: I know many emotional, needy men, but I mean, as a whole. 


    I often wonder if things were always like this, but I just wasn’t tuned into the noise. Now, I'm so tuned in. I follow everything like a dog tracing a smell. It's distracting, but also inspiring, when I get lucky. 

    I work for two independent male filmmakers, and they have it hard. I guess getting financial backing to make a film is hard for everyone. But when I look at the broader picture, I know that women just have it harder. I read the blogs on the regular, and whenever there’s some rumor about a woman getting a big Hollywood directing-gig, it’s like a huge deal. So big you read it in the headline: “Marvel Considering Female Director For ‘Black Panther’ Movie”. You’ll never find a headline that says, “Disney’s Next Film Finds Male Director”. That just doesn’t happen.

    Here’s where I insert a clip of James Brown’s “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World.”

    I get so frustrated with myself about things like this, and then with the industry, which is more like an institution. I have great ideas all the time, but I shoot them down before I even begin the project because I know that all of the odds are against me. I know it sounds like a terrible defeatist attitude, but this is the reality. These attitudes and feelings have been embedded into my female DNA. No, I wasn’t alive during the 19th and most of the 20th century, when women couldn’t vote or go to certain schools or things like that. But it's like the chromosomes that make up my gender just know that these things happened to those that came before them: You’re a women, therefore you are less than. You can keep trying, but it’ll be a long time before you get what you want.

    And this feeling of oppression and defeat often makes me feel like I have all of the anxieties of an artist, but no real talent. I feel like a ball inside a pinball machine, where the flippers are the blocks that continuously keep me from creating something. It’s a joke because I just get bounced from one to the other and then back again. Once in a while, I make it out, without hitting these walls. I get an idea and I start a project and I put it out there, but then I'm back inside the playfield, feeling insecure all over again. 

    I wish there was a place, a community where I could connect with other women like me, who want to be filmmakers, but feel the way I do about the whole thing. I guess, if you're out there, let me know.

  • Before I Forget

    I don't usually write about my encounters with "famous" people. And the one I'm about to tell you about doesn’t revolve around a particularly famous person. But he is special, and I read about him today so that's why...

    It was 2009 and I was on my way to view Pedro Almodovar's Broken Embraces, the latest starring Penelope Cruz. It was one of my very firsts (if not my first) assignments as a film critic. Not that I was a film critic. I was actually just an intern for a film site. I knew I wanted to be an entertainment journalist, but at the time, I didn't really know what that meant. So I went to this screening, not knowing what to expect.

    I drove into the Sony lot, and gave a burly guard my ID. And then the gates opened, and I fell in love. Not with the Sony studio, but with the feeling of being in a studio lot. (Thankfully, I've managed to hold on to this feeling of curiosity and excitement. It's somewhat magical, but also intrusive. Still, I can't help but smile whenever I get invited to one of these screenings. Movie theaters are great, but movie theaters inside studios are exclusive.

    As I rushed to the screening room, I noticed two men waiting for an elevator. They must've noticed I was lost because one asked me where I was going. I told him, and he said, "This way," pointing to the elevator.

    After getting on the elevator, I immediately recognized one of the men. He was a frequent guest on one of my favorite TV shows, The Rotten Tomatoes Show, which I would later intern for. I liked him, not just because he was a critic, but also because he was highly opinioned. Plus, anyone who knew that much about movies was very smart in my book.

    Before the elevator doors opened, he turned to me and asked, "So, you're a critic?" He caught me off-guard. He wasn’t being rude or sarcastic. I’m good at reading people. But he asked in a way that also said, you're very young to be a critic. I was a teenager after all.

    "Trying to be," I said.

    "Aren't we all?" He said.

    "In the same way that the original 1979 “Mad Max” was the “Citizen Kane” of gut-bucket Australian exploitation cinema, “Mad Max: Fury Road” may well be the “Götterdämmerung” of drive-in movies."

    -Alfonso Duralde