Saturday, February 28, 2009


We have just gotten through "The Empire Strikes Back." BOY! OH BOY! The best of the bunch? I still think so.

Jeff, Patrick's brother has gone. Brian, Ritchie, Patrick and I are still sticking through. Angel has yet to watch a movie. He's such a nerf herder.

episode IV, beyond loved.

Well, those prequels are pretty much useless now. We found "Revenge of the Sith" to be surprisingly enjoyable, but as soon as we were about 5 minutes into "A New Hope," we realized just how fucking useless and crappy the prequels are. Plus, they just don't fit at all with the original trilogy. There is absolutely no connection.

We're about to start "Empire Strikes Back," which is my favorite. Here we go!

episode III, enjoyed!

We've just finished "Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith," which was complimented by a Little Caeser's dinner.

Patrick's brother Jeff has joined us, and we're about to embark on marathon viewing of the ORIGINAL TRILOGY!

Hot Dog!

But while I'm here, here's the surprise.

It's the first episode of "I Live With My Parents," a webseries we shot over the summer. The 2nd episode was also supposed to be online, but we're having some YouTube trouble with it. We'll work on it. In the meantime, enjoy!

episode II, devoured.

We've gotten all the way through "Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones." And the arguments are already starting.

Ritchie and I preferred it to "Episode I." Sure, you could drive a landspeeder through the plot holes, but at least we don't have to sit through as many jedi meetings and galactic hearings.

Brian and Patrick prefer "Episode I." Brian's reasoning is at least "Episode I" makes sense. Patrick's reasoning is that "Episode I" stands up because of Darth Maul. You know, his five minutes of screen time.

Here's a video of the arguing...

episode II defeats us from Ragtag Productions on Vimeo.

And, don't forget, we have a special surprise for later today. It's A BIG SURPRISE!

episode I, watched.

We're all the way through "Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace." The reviews are mixed. Patrick and Brian swear it was an enjoyable watch. Ritchie and I found it unwatchable. And Angel is still in bed - he's been pulling doubles all week.

Patrick has just made spinach dip and we are getting ready to watch "Attack of the Clones."

the phantom menace ends... from Ragtag Productions on Vimeo.

episode I

The viewers are in place... kind of.

Brian and I are sitting here with our friend Ritchie, ready as ever to watch "The Phantom Menace," BUT Patrick Cohen wanted to go for an early morning jog, so now we're waiting for him to take his extra long shower. The movies alone are 13 hours worth of content, so if you add in breaks and ordering food and etc. stuff, we're going to be here until 2 or 3 in the morning. Ah well.

We have a semi-surprise built into this event, so stay tuned for the details.

I'll be blogging again after "Episode I" is over.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

a long time ago in a galaxy just outside of hollywood...

This Saturday, in our apartment, in front of the 73 inch HD television set that Patrick bought one day on a crazy, wild-eyed whim, we four are going to do something we've been talking about since our friendship began...

We are going to watch all six "Star Wars" movies in an epic marathon of Bantha sized proportions.

It's an endurance test, to be sure. Like most, we really hated the prequels and since those three will encompass the first SEVEN hours of the marathon, we will be like Rocky and Apollo at the end of "Rocky II" before we even get to the opening crawl of "A New Hope."

Which was also a place of debate...

You see, there was some discussion about which versions of the original trilogy we should watch. Should we watch the ORIGINAL theatrical cuts, with their brisk running times and Muppet puppet budget dance numbers? Or, should we watch the crappy, crappy special editions with the CG Puddle of Jabba, Han Shooting Kind of First, the Audrey II Sarlacc Pit, and, most infamous of all, THE HAYDEN CHRISTENSEN GHOST...

Now, of course, we all prefer the original cuts to the Special Edition. But Patrick and I made an argument for the Special Editions. If we were going to do this marathon correctly, we were going to have to do it the way "George Lucas intended." (For those of you who are too young to remember the trailers for the Special Editions from '96 and '97, the narrator kept saying, "The way George Lucas intended") Even if the way George Lucas intended was crappy and Jar Jar Binks-y, we wanted to see just how well the CG added to the original trilogy fit in to the prequels.

So, we're watching the Prequels and the Special Editions.

Now, there's another issue.

Recently, Brian and Patrick suggested we add "The Clone Wars" to the line-up. I am incredibly against this. A) I don't consider them part of the storyline. B) I DON'T WANT TO SEE STINKY THE HUTT IN ACTION.

Then I said, "If we watch that, we might as well watch The Star Wars Holiday Special!"

So, now that debate is out there.

The marathon starts Saturday. I plan to blog and vlog between the movies to let you know our progress. Please comment below on whether or not you think we should watch "The Clone Wars."


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Angel's Top 10.

I like movies. I love buying DVDs (now, Blu-Ray). I enjoy movie award shows. I just don’t care for making yearly Top 10 movie lists. I see the movies, I like it or don’t. May see it again in theaters. Buy the DVD (now, Blu-Ray). Watch it again, watch the special features. Done. Move on. I rather play Tetris on Facebook, read Hollywood Reporter, look for jobs on Craigslist, work on my Las Vegas puzzle, catch up on my DVR, eat lunch, and other things that wouldn’t be appropriate to mention here.

Nobody cares what my Top 10 movies are right? I’m gonna strain my brain thinking of all the movies I saw last year, just to think of 10 favorite movies. It would be easier to just to look at my DVD collection and see what I’ve purchased in 2008. Or just ask me.

YOU: Hey Angel, did you see “You Don’t Mess With The Zohan?

ME: Yeah.

YOU: Did you like it?

ME: Yes, I liked it.

YOU: Cool.


So in order to appease my roommates, because apparently I have to make a list, I will write down a list of my favorite, well-liked, movies I didn’t mind this year. But I will do it differently. I will make my Top 10 list of movies by their tagline.

Angel’s Unpretentious 10 Well-Liked Movies of 2008 (in no particular order):

1. A comedy about getting dumped, and taking it like a man.
2. Fully Charged.
3. Go!
4. Because you were home.
5. An Adventure Beyond the Ordinar-E.
6. Welcome to a world without rules.
7. Put this in your pipe and smoke it.
8. Quantum of Solace*
9. Trust no one. Deceive everyone.
10. What does it take to find a lost love?

*Apparently has no tagline.

Top Ten Movies of the Year - The PATRICK Edition

ed. note... This is Steven Tsapelas here. Prepare for handsome actor Patrick Cohen's Top List...

All right. So this is my first blog for Ragtag Productions, and I feel like I should start out by saying something. Something important. Brian is a crazy person. “A weak year for films?” Are you kidding me? This was an amazing year for films... with movies like “Hamlet 2” and Uwe Boll’s now-classic “In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale”… wait.

Well, it was an amazing summer at least. To see the master M. Night Shyamalan at work in his masterpiece “The Happening,” and to finally see the return of my childhood idol Indiana Jones… damn.

Well at least it was an amazing year for superhero films. I mean this year we got movies like “The Spirit” and “Punisher: War Zone”... hold on…

Maybe Brian was right…


Okay, here we go.

First, the unquestionable

Worst Movie of the year:

I’m sure most of you haven’t seen this movie. That’s a blessing. One day in December, my brother and I were bored and decided to see a movie. Why not? Movies are fun when you’re bored, right? Yea… do yourself a favor. When this is on TV check it out. No more than 10 minutes or so at a time, mind you, but give it a watch. And ask yourself: What the hell is Sam Jackson doing in this movie?” This isn’t like “Jumper” where it’s so bad it’s funny. This is like when a handicapped kid falls and starts crying. It’s just too embarrassing and painful to laugh at. This was easily the most painful cinematic experience of my life. And I’ve seen two Uwe Boll movies and “Ultraviolet” on opening night.

Now, the

Movie I hated the most this year:

Okay, so this movie is 100 times better than “The Spirit,” but there’s a big difference. I didn’t grow up watching the Spirit and thinking he was the coolest hero ever. I didn’t run around my backyard dressed like the Spirit. But Indy? Come on, I had the hat, the whip, a toy gun, and I’d run around fighting imaginary Nazis. I must have been Indy for Halloween at least 8 times (most recently in ’07). So to watch this movie was heartbreaking.
Now I’m not one of those people who’ll tell you that aliens don’t belong in an Indiana Jones movie. I get it. It’s the 50s now. The occult and WW2 has been replaced by UFO sightings and the cold war. I get it. That’s fine. I also don’t mind Harrison Ford in this. Is he amazing? No. Is he too old? Yes. But he works for me. I felt like he was Indy. The problem with this movie is not Shia LeBouf, Karen Allen or Ray Winstone. The problem with this movie is Lucas. The Beard. This was Episode 1. Stupid freaking CGI monkeys, ridiculously fake looking fire ants, surviving an atomic bomb in a refrigerator. A refrigerator people. And don’t even get me started on the gophers. My God the gophers. I know it was you George. You broke my heart. Again.

Okay, now here’s my top ten. Bear in mind, these are my favorite movies of the year, not necessarily what I think the “best” 10 movies of the year were. Also, it should be noted that I’ve had a busy few months getting set up in a new town, pursuing a career, etc, and haven’t seen quite a few movies. My blatant omissions are “Slumdog Millionare,” “Milk,” and “The Reader.” I have every reason to believe that I’d love two of those movies (guess which two), and who knows where they’d fit in my list. But here’s the best I can do with what I’ve seen.

10.) Rambo-
I know, I know. This one’s controversial. Brian will probably think I’m an idiot. But you know what? This movie totally works for me. I got exactly what I paid for. I wanted to see Rambo get really pissed off, and blow up a whole shitload of people, preferably in or around Vietnam. That’s what I wanted the second I read that they were making this movie, that’s what I wanted when I bought my ticket, and that’s what I got. I love it.

9.) Forgetting Sarah Marshall-
If it hadn’t been the year of Pineapple and Tropic, this would have been my favorite comedy of the year. I loved Segel in this. He killed me, especially when he starts singing the Dracula music that first time. When you don’t expect that accent, it’s freaking hilarious. And let’s just call it like it is: Mila Kunis is both ridiculously hot, and ridiculously good in this movie. Throw in a little cameo by Bateman and it’s no wonder my broke ass bought this on Blue Ray.

8.) The Visitor-
After years of being a nameless “that guy,” it’s good to see Richard Jenkins working so much. He’s hilarious in “Step Brothers,” and one of the better parts of the disappointing (sorry, Steve) “Burn After Reading,” but it’s in “The Visitor,” that Jenkins really shows what he can do. He is so good in this movie. I believe him every second that he’s on that screen.

7.) Pineapple Express-
Hilarious. This movie totally redeems Franco. Because, let’s face it, he’s pretty friggin bad in the Spiderman films. But in this? Amazing. Even with the useless and decidedly unfunny opening scene, this movie rocks. And Danny McBride in that final diner scene made me laugh harder than almost any other moment in film this year.

6.) Tropic Thunder*-
Okay, so a second ago? When I said Danny McBride’s diner scene made me laugh harder than almost any other film? Yea, that exception would be this film. Every moment worked for me. Loved the trailers in the beginning (particularly the “MTV best kiss award winner Tobey Maguire” moment), the “full retard” speech and virtually every moment of this film.
So why the asterisk you ask? Well, unfortunately, we live in a world where it’s apparently acceptable for a director to release a dvd of a film as an “extended” or “director’s” cut, without including the original theatrical release. This always drives me crazy. With the exceptions of the Lord of the Rings, Bladerunner, and possibly “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” (which wisely included the theatrical cut on the Blue Ray), the theatrical cut is always better. This lengthened, slowed down, and overall less entertaining version of the film is just not great. I really hate that I can’t own the movie I saw in theaters.

5.) Iron Man-
Not much to say about this that you don’t already know. A great, fun, and action-packed ride. Downey Jr. is so watchable in this role that I wish they could’ve made it 10 years ago so we could have more sequels. The Rocketeer meets Robocop with a little taste of Batman. Awesomeness.

4.) The Wrestler-
I am angry at the academy. This movie deserves a best picture nomination (and in my humble opinion, probably a win). It is beyond good. Rourke is so good here that it seems like it is practically a documentary. A perfect film. I wouldn’t change a frame, and that final moment is amazing. How Springsteen can win the Golden Globe and not even get a nomination for what is clearly the best song in any movie this year is mind-boggling. In my opinion the best film of the year.

3.) The Curious Case of Benjamin Button-
God I loved this movie. I understand why not everyone did. It is very long, has some serious pacing problems (do we really need to spend so much time in the hospital room? We get it, we get it, get back to the story…), and can feel a little heavy-handed at times. But it really worked for me. Aside from what is obviously a stunning breakthrough in makeup and visual effects, this is just a beautiful movie. I loved every actor in this film, I loved Brad’s voice-over, and I loved what has become one of my favorite lines ever. “We have to lose people. How else would we know how much they meant to us?” I’ll be honest. I teared up a bit at the end. A beautiful and touching film. Absolutely loved it.

2.) Wall-E-
My God this movie is awesome. I love sci-fi, I love animation, and I love Fred Willard. All in one? Brilliant. This movie is astonishing. The entire first act is basically a silent film. No dialogue (except for a bit of “Hello, Dolly”), and yet the story couldn’t be clearer. We easily follow and understand Wall-E’s needs, desires, and emotions. And of course, I love what happens to humanity in the future, and the captain’s epiphany as he realizes that it’s our job to take care of Earth. Brilliant film. My new favorite pixar movie (although I’m eagerly awaiting UP, so we’ll see how long that title lasts!)

1.) The Dark Knight-
Obviously. Come on, I’m a huge superhero and comic book fan. How could this not have been my favorite movie of the year? I am ridiculously pissed at the academy for this one. Should have been up for best picture. Should have been up for best director, best score, and best adapted screenplay too. This was not the second biggest movie of all time for no reason. There’s so much here to love.
Ledger’s performance is perfect. I love Bale in this role even more now than in the first one (the Batman voice totally works for me), and I love that this has become an ensemble piece. It’s not just Batman’s journey now, we follow, and care about Gordon and Dent, because of the wonderful script and performances. And that truck flip? Hopefully this film can convince filmmakers that sometimes CGI won’t cut it. Sometimes you have to go back to basics, and get some practical effects. Hire some stuntmen. It looks so much better.
Now I’m not Steve, I’m not scouring the internet for Batman 3 rumors, and I don’t think this was a perfect film (I hated the sonar eyes for instance), but it is easily one of my favorite movies of all time. Take your time Nolan, if you can’t give us another masterpiece, don’t make a third. One Spiderman 3 was enough.

There’s my list, Steve. Let the arguments begin!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Top Ten Movies of the Year - The BRIAN Edition

I felt this was a weak year for films. There was certainly a lot that I liked, but I’m not sure if they will stand the test of time (with the exception of my top 5). I see a lot, but always want to see more. There are a few films that I haven’t seen this past year that I feel may sneak on to the list, but them’s the breaks. So here we go…

Worst movie of the year:
SPEED RACER – Its difficult to pick a worst movie of the year, because there have been a lot of terrible films this year (and I’ve seen many). My worst movie is usually one that I just hate. Speed Racer was terrible, but more than that, I just hated it. It was so over indulgent, over done, and over blown. What a waste of money and time, it was almost two and half hours (!) of nonsense.

Best worst movie of the year:
JUMPER – This is probably one of the worst movies ever made. I’ve seen the majority of it on HBO. I expected it to be one of the worst movies ever made. It met my expectations, but to my surprise, it’s so bad that I loved every moment of it. Samuel L. Jackson’s final moment is a classic moment of trash cinema.

10) CLOVERFIELD – This was just a cool movie. It’s a concept (the monster movie) that has been done a million times over, but they totally revamped it. Terrifically shot with great looking effects, a badass monster. It was a really fun ride, and actually had a good story; I was genuinely interested every time the camera cut back to the day at Coney Island.

9) TROPIC THUNDER – Great cast, I even loved Jack Black (normally I don’t). Makes fun of actors, directors, writers and producers, and is very smart about it, how could I not love that. Tom Cruise dancing. That’s all I need to say.

8) THE DARK KNIGHT – Steve thinks this is a flawless film, so I always get him worked up poking holes in it. But ultimately, it winds up on my list. There is just no denying that it is a great film. Probably the best comic book movie ever. I love Michael Caine and Gary Oldman in these films so much. Ledger’s performance will win an Oscar and deserves to be remembered.

7) PINEAPPLE EXPRESS – I always like to get as many comedies on my list as possible, but it’s hard, because it’s so hard to do comedy well. There was some pretty good comedy this year. Pineapple was hilarious. Take out the opening scene and it’s just about a perfect movie. I love Rogen, but Franco really steals the show and owns this movie, and then Danny McBride shows up and just owns everybody. “Thug life.”

6) BIGGER, STRONGER, FASTER – It might be the year of the comic book movie for Steve, for me I guess it’s the year of the documentary. This is the first of two to make my list (note: Taxi to the Darkside was also brilliant, I saw it this year, but it was the Oscar for last year, so I’m not gonna let it qualify for this list). Bigger, Stronger, Faster is about steroids. Find it on DVD, rent it, buy it, and watch it. It raises great talking points and shows so many perspectives on the issue. But it’s told from a first person point of view, which makes it emotional and powerful.

5) SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE – It’s the likely best picture winner this year, and it’s an excellent film. It’s a real crowd pleaser and I definitely got swept up in it. It’s a fun watch and interesting to see actors, locations, and visuals we don’t see every day. I’ve always been a big Danny Boyle fan, so I’m glad he’s getting all this acclaim.

4) MAN ON WIRE – Another amazing documentary. This one, however, plays like a narrative film. The story is almost too good to be true. You won’t believe that a man could tightrope between the Twin Towers until you see it. Philippe Petit is such a compelling character, and the last image is somehow so powerful that I feel like it will be ingrained in my brain forever.

3) RACHEL GETTING MARRIED – I did expect to like this film. My girlfriend wanted
to see it, I like Demme, so I went in with an open mind. I LOVED this film. I loved everything about it. I’ve never really seemed anything like it. It just seemed so real, so honest. It was the best I’ve ever seen Anne Hathaway. The supporting cast is outstanding; Bill Irwin is hilarious and heartbreaking. And in my opinion, Rosemary Dewitt outshines Anne Hathaway and gives a great performance.

2) WALL-E – My favorite Pixar film ever, probably my favorite animated film ever. The first 40 or so minutes of the film when WALL-E and EVE are alone on earth is so beautiful and breathtaking, I could watch it every day. The sound was great, Ben Burtt is a genius. WALL-E was such a great character, I fell in love with him and I believed everything he did, they gave that little robot so much personality.

1) THE WRESTLER – A pitch perfect performance from Rourke, but this movie so much more than just a performance piece. Darren Aronofsky is not getting enough credit, this is masterfully directed. Every moment works so well, the pace is perfect. There is so much subtly to the film, especially from a director that is typically flashy, you can just tell that he was in total control of this picture. Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood give equally great performances. I loved every moment; it just sucked the life out of me. And I listen to Springsteen’s title song nonstop.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Top Ten Movies of the Year - The Steven Edition

The Oscars are next week. I've been watching the show every year since "Unforgiven" won Best Picture, but this is the first time I'll be watching it live from the West Coast - a full three hours earlier! Exciting, right? Anyway, I think so.

Anyway, in anticipation of the Oscars, I am encouraging my friends and roommates (Brian, Angel and Patrick) to list their Top Ten Favorite Movies of 2008 here on this blog. I'm not saying the Top Ten Best Movies of 2008 --- we all know that "Four Christmases" was, empirically, the Best Movie of the Year --- I'm saying YOUR favorite movies of 2008. And I encourage you, the reader, to list some of your favorites as well.

And here we go...

First, let me list my two Least Favorite Movies of 2008...

2) FOUR CHRISTMASES --- It started as a joke. When Brian and I saw the trailer for "Four Christmases" we jokingly said to each other, "Oh we need to see that." Cut to, Thanksgiving Eve. Brian and I go to the Arc Light to see "Milk." "Milk" is very sold out. So, we decide, "Let's see 'Slumdog Millionaire.'" Also very sold out. So we both jokingly say, "How about 'Four Christmases'?" And we laugh and we laugh. Then, for some reason, we continue the joke and buy the tickets. And we laugh and we laugh. Then, we look down at the tickets. Fifteen bucks. We just spent fifteen bucks. To see "Four Christmases." The theater was packed. The movie started. The audience ate it up! The guy sitting next to me was literally sitting on the edge of his seat waiting to see what would happen next. Brian said the guy sitting next to him was literally slapping his knees, he was laughing so hard. But it didn't hit us. Nope. It bored us. To tears. It was painfully, painfully, painfully contrived and unfunny. And stupid! Just stupid!

1) INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL --- Do I really need to say anything more about what a piece of crap this movie was? Lucas, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me FOUR FUCKING TIMES. SHAME ON ME! At least we learned an important lesson from the film... If a movie opens with a CGI gopher coming out of a hole... it's going to be bad.

Now, on to the good.


10. NICK AND NORAH'S INFINITE PLAYLIST - Now, let me explain. I hated the crap out of this director's previous film, "Raising Victor Vargas." My reasoning was simple--- The lead character spends all of his time either shirtless or in a wife beater. He eats at the dinner table with no shirt on. Maybe it's just me. Maybe it's because I always wear four or five layers and am uncomfortable with nudity. But still, I hated "Victor Vargas." So, I went into this movie a little hesitant. And, I ended up falling in love with it. Now, to be fair, there might have been some external factors which contributed to my love for "Nick and Norah." Namely, I was moving out of New York that week and a love story set against the backdrop of the Lower East Side made me realize just how much I was going to miss New York. I bought the DVD recently and didn't have that same magic feeling. But I'll put it on here for the way it made me feel the first time. Though, part of me is thinking I should exchange it for "Pineapple Express." Can we call it a tie?

9. BURN AFTER READING - I've stuck with the Coen Brothers. Sine "O Brother," they'd been in a real slump. I still saw them all --- even the god awful "Intolerable Cruelty." I knew there were brighter days ahead. Then came "No Country For Old Men," which I loved. Real, dramatic, twisted, vintage Coen Brothers. But I was really, really hoping for them to do another dark comedy. Then came "Burn After Reading"! I loved the style. I loved the tone. I loved the actors. I was laughing out loud all over the theater --- and I saw it alone.

8. SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE - I really dug this movie. I dug the style. I dug the storytelling techniques. I think it's a fine, solid choice for Best Picture.

7. INCREDIBLE HULK - I love the Incredible Hulk TV show. My biggest problem with Ang Lee's 2003 "Hulk" movie (besides the comic book panels, the running time, the tone, the acting, the story and the leap frogging Hulk) was that it wasn't the TV show. So, when this movie came along and basically WAS the TV show (complete with Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno cameos), I was as happy as a Hulk Dog in Hulk shit. I saw this a second time with my Mom, also a big fan of the TV show, and we had the following conversation...

Mom: (Queens accent) It was nice that they referenced the TV show! That was my problem with the new "Batman" movie. They didn't even acknowledge the fans of the old TV show.

Steven: By "new Batman movie," do you mean the one that came out in 1989?

Mom: Yeah.

6. IRON MAN - What a great year for Marvel films! After coming off the colossally bad 2007 ("Spider-Man 3" and "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" - UCK!), they really shined this year with "Incredible Hulk" and this. I thought this flick was really smart. They took "Iron Man," a second tier hero, hard to adapt because he's basically a guy in a robot suit, and gave him one of the most charismatic leads ever in a superhero picture --- ROBERT DOWNEY FUCKING JR! And, to top it off, he has to fight The Dude. Kudos to Favs for directing the hell out of this movie. Kudos indeed.

5. SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK - I recommend this movie only for die-hard Charlie Kaufman fans. Otherwise, you'll be completely lost in this dense, complicated, confusing flick. I loved every second of it!

4. THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON - I didn't see this flick until yesterday, after hearing many, many, many mixed reviews. And, I can't believe it, but it really got to me. It almost played out like a really good book. That's why the running time didn't bother me so much. It's my choice for Best Picture, though I think "Slumdog" will win.

3. WALL-E - How did they make me care so much about a robot? How!? Was it Ben Burtt? Was it Pixar? Was it Andrew Stanton? Or was it just some sort of serendipitous merging of all the magical elements of the universe that made possibly the greatest animated film of all time? All I can say is, "MO!"

2. THE WRESTLER - Now, I love wrestling. I've read many autobiographies. Watched many documentaries. And have always known that the life of a wrestler isn't exactly easy. Then this movie comes along, and simply, beautifully, and naturally absorbs years and years worth of these stories and puts them all on the shoulders of Mickey Rourke. I really love this movie. And I'm so glad Marisa Tomei is also getting recognition. But, come on, Academy --- How did this movie (and "Wall-E" and "Dark Knight") not get a Best Picture nomination? It's certainly much, much better than the middle of the road "Frost/Nixon." It's a real shame. BUT GO MICKEY ROURKE!

1. THE DARK KNIGHT - This one's kind of a no-brainer, isn't it? I accurately predicted in my "My Favorite Movies of 2007" blog that "Dark Knight" would top my list next year, and here we are. The movie did not disappoint. It raised the bar for not only comic book movies, but traditional summer blockbusters. It was the "Batman" movie I've always wanted. So rich. So dense. So full of characters and ideas. And boy oh boy did I "Love that Joker." But even more than that, I loved that Harvey Dent. I'm waiting with baited breath to see where Nolan takes this series next. I only have two words. "RIDDLER. ROBIN."

So, that's the Stevie List. Bring it on, roommates!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

dorm lifed.

Recently, at a gathering for internet media producers, we met the creators of the webseries "Dorm Life." "Dorm Life," as some of you may know, is a webseries that chronicles the misadventures of the 5 South dorm in a college. We had become aware of it over the summer, when they beat "We Need Girlfriends" in a poll for the best webseries. And after we started watching it, it quickly became our new favorite webseries. Check out one of our favorite episodes... here....

On Wednesday night, we were invited by one of the "Dorm Life" creators and actors Brian C. Singleton to the premiere of "Dorm Life - Semester 2" at UCLA. So, Brian, Brigitte and I went to the college campus and after having a helluva time finding visitor parking, we settled into our chairs and watched the first six episodes of Semester 2.

And they are HILARIOUS.

Each episode now runs around ten minutes, as opposed to the five minute episodes from Semester 1 and the new running time totally works. The writers of this show are incredibly talented. Expect great things from them.

Semester 2 premieres next month. Look out for it!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

friday fever!

This Friday (the 13th) a new "Friday the 13th" film is hitting theaters.


Angel is, without a doubt, the biggest "Friday" fan in the apartment. He owns the Paramount "Friday the 13th" box set, as well as "Freddy vs. Jason."

This week, Brian, Angel and I were in Target, when Angel came upon the documentary "His Name Was Jason." He immediately bought it. He came home and we watched it. (A shout out to our friend Rob G of Icons of Fright, who is interviewed in the doc)

Since then, we've been popping in "Friday" movies on and off. We're all getting pumped.

Now, here comes the kicker.

This "Friday the 13th" happens to coincide with another holiday...

Valentine's Day.

Angel is going out of town. Brian is going out of town. Patrick's girlfriend is in town. Me, I'm cool. But the question quickly arose, "When are we going to see the movie?"

Angel said, "Wait for me and we'll see it on Tuesday when I come home." I said, "Are you crazy? We have to see 'Friday the 13th' on Friday the 13th!" Angel said, "Shit, you're right," and managed to talk his girlfriend into seeing it with him.

But if Angel and Brian were out of town, would that mean I'd have to see it alone?


Trista came to the rescue!

Patrick's girlfriend, it turns out, is a "Friday the 13th" fan and she wants to see it THIS FRIDAY THE 13TH!

So, I'm set. Angel's set. Patrick's set. Trista is set. And Brian...

Well, to be honest, Brian doesn't care either way.

But this Friday, we are getting our Jason.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Slaves to the Tin: Part 1

We always had a problem. See, with over a thousand DVDs, fifty blu-rays, a 73 inch HD television and four people with an incredibly diverse taste in movies, we could never settle on what we should watch on those lazy nights when we're all home and have no desire to leave. It always turned into an argument.

"You want to watch 'The Rocketeer'? I don't want to watch 'The Rocketeer.'"

"Well, what do you want to watch?"

"How about 'Crank'?"

"No, 'Crank' sucks."

"Have you ever seen 'Crank'?"


"Then how do you know it sucks?"

"I've seen enough to know it sucks."

"Where did you see some of it? On HBO?"

"I don't know. I guess on HBO."

"HA! It was never on HBO! It was a trick question! You've never seen any of 'Crank'!"

And so on and so forth.

So, about a month and a half ago, Angel came up with a solution.

We would each write the names of ten moves on a slip of paper. We would put these slips of paper into a Christmas cookie tin, which would be securely placed on top of a DVD shelf, next to a framed photo of Skeletor...

Whenever the four of us were together, we would pull out a slip of paper. This would be the movie that we all had to sit down and watch together. We couldn't get up. We couldn't leave. We couldn't make an argument for another movie. We were SLAVES TO THE TIN.

Just before we sealed the tin, Brian and Patrick suggested a radical idea. We should each write down a movie that we've never seen, but have also never, ever wanted to see. Four incredibly bad movies. As I scanned through our DVD collection, I saw nearly a dozen awful movies I have never wanted to see. 'Red Sonja.' 'Kingdom of Heaven.' 'Domino.' Finally, I wrote down my choice... 'Varsity Blues.'

Now, it was time for the first tin pull. We decided to go in age order, from oldest to youngest, so Patrick pulled first. He shook the tin up, reached his hand inside and pulled out...

Patrick had actually written "From Russia With Love" down, so he was happy to pull it.

Next, I, Steven Tsapelas, stuck my hand in the tin. I mixed the pieces of paper around, clamped my fingers around one and pulled it out...

"Blackhawk Down."

I screamed.

Now, for years, Angel and I had been arguing about "Blackhawk Down." You see, when it came out in the Winter of 2001, I saw it in theaters and didn't like it. Angel also saw it in theaters, but looooooved it. One Friday night in college, Angel wanted to see the movie for a second time. However, he didn't have a car. So, he came into my room and asked if he could borrow my car to drive to the theater and see "Blackhawk Down" by himself. I told him, "No." This turned into an hour of back and forth whining where he said, "Come ooooooonnnnnnn Steeeeeeeevvvvvvveeeee." And I said, "No. Maybe if it was a good movie, I'd let you borrow the car," to which Angel replied, "You saw the 'Royal Tenenbaums' 10 times!" I said, "Exactly, that's a good movie," and Angel continued to bitch and complain that 'Blackhawk Down' was also good. I eventually gave him the car, but have disliked "Blackhawk Down" ever since.

So, that night, I was incredibly frustrated with myself for picking 'Blackhawk Down' And I was vocal about it. So Brian and Patrick came up with something called "lifelines."

Basically, if you don't like the movie you pulled, you have two lifelines.

One is called "THE TEAR," wherein you tear the sheet of paper, and it is never allowed to be viewed again.

The other is called "THE YANKEE SWAP," where you put the piece of paper back into the tin and get a second shot at pulling another movie.

Now, the interesting thing about the lifelines, is that we each only get to use them once in the entire run of the tin. So, if I "Yankee Swapped" 'Blackhawk Down,' I would never have another chance to use the Yankee Swap again.

Guess what? I used the Yankee Swap on 'Blackhawk Down.'

It wasn't just that I didn't want to watch 'Blackhawk Down.' It was that I couldn't believe I pulled it.

I reached my hand back into the tin and pulled out another movie...


Boom! I had actually written that down on a sheet of paper. I was as happy as a pig in shit.

Our first double bill went off pretty well. Sure, "From Russia With Love" bored everyone but Patrick, but the "Dick Tracy" follow up treated us all well.

Through the subsequent weeks, more movies were pulled.

Our second round led to a double bill of 'Good Night and Good Luck' and 'They Live.'

Our third round led to a double bill of 'Varsity Blues' and 'The Warriors.'

Our fourth round led to us watching 'Equilibrium.' Patrick wrote that one down. He loves 'Equilbrium.' Have you ever seen 'Equilibrium'? It sucks. It sucks really hard. Why didn't Christian Bale flip out on the set of that one?

Last week, however, the shit hit the fan.

See, somewhere along the line of the tin, we came up with a new lifeline.

It's called "THE COCK BLOCK."

Basically, if a movie is about to be put in that you didn't pull, but that you have no interest in watching, you can COCK BLOCK it from being put in. However, you only have up until the movie is in the DVD player.

So, around 5PM on Saturday, Patrick reached into the tin and pulled out "The Quiet Man." We had never seen "The Quiet Man," but it's one of Patrick's favorites. It's a John Ford movie which stars John Wayne. Multiple Oscar winner. A real classic. We were kind of excited to be watching it.

That is, until 8PM. When Angel, lying on the floor, half asleep, took action. Just as Patrick was kneeling down to put "The Quiet Man" into the DVD player Angel yelled, "COCK BLOCK."

On "The Quiet Man."

He COCK BLOCKED "The Quiet Man."

It was the first cock block ever used, so it was a big moment for us.

Patrick had to reach back into the tin and pull out a new movie. He pulled out "Better Off Dead." Patrick had also written this one down. He's apparently a big fan of "Better Off Dead." I'd seen it before. I think it's just, "Okay." Brian and Angel watched it that night. They also thought it was just "Okay."

It was around 10PM at this point and we decided we had enough time to pull another tin movie. It was my turn, so Brian shot this little video of the tin process...

The Goddamned Tin from Ragtag Productions on Vimeo.

The moral of this story is that while waiting for CBS to greenlight your pilot, you end up with a lot of free time on your hands.

Hollywood Web Television Meet Up

Last night, Brian and I went to the monthly Hollywood Web Television Meet-Up with our friend Patrick Flynn, who is behind the very funny webseries "Keith Powell Directs A Play." You should check it out! In fact, I'll embed it here...

The event was a blast. It was incredibly crowded and full of web content creators. We saw such internet celebrities as Tay Zonday, the singer of "Chocolate Rain," and Jessica Rose, best known as "LonelyGirl15."

We also got a chance to meet a lot of cool people, including our old friend Joshua Cohen from, plus the creators of the full length internet pilot "Graduates," starring WNG's own Steve LaChioma. Check it out here...

We also met the really cool Fine Brothers, who have a lot of great ideas on how to unite internet content creators and produce stuff that can rival networks. All very eye opening stuff. You should check out the Fine Brothers at

It's starting to feel like there's a real community developing for internet creators. We're digging it.