Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Diablo Cody - Young Adult

“I wanted to keep this movie grounded in reality.”
- Diablo Cody

Screenwriter Diablo Cody’s greatest achievement with her latest project, Young Adult, is to bring her audience to a point where they sympathize and empathize with the film’s in many ways distinctly unlikable central character. Mavis Gary (played by Charlize Theron) is the seemingly successful author of a series of young adult novels, who on the page has everything going for her. Yet, despite being blessed in both the looks and career department, happiness eludes her.

When an invitation arrives in her inbox to the christening of the daughter of her high school sweetheart, Buddy (Patrick Wilson), Mavis decides to return to her hometown to reclaim her former glory – and her former boyfriend. Blinded by her own narcissism, Mavis chooses to ignore the fact that Buddy is now happily married as she obsessively engages in the shameless pursuit of her unavailable ex.

A chance meeting with a former classmate she barely remembers, Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt), provides Mavis with a drinking buddy, and a voice of reason. However, despite forming an unlikely bond with Matt, who in the wake of a high school beating is left as physically challenged as she is mentally, Mavis is unwilling and unable to retreat from the comfort of her self-delusions to see her world as it really is.

As with Cody’s Academy Award-winning screenplay for Juno, Young Adult combines subtle storytelling with unconventional choices. An exercise in nuance and tone, which sees Cody reunited with her Juno cohort, director Jason Reitman (Up In The Air), the film features award-worthy performances from both Theron and Oswalt that – as with the script – are remarkable for their realness.

I sat down with Cody in New York to talk about the film.

Read my exclusive interview with Diablo Cody on SuicideGirls.com.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Why We're Re-Occupying Our Homes Today: A Story Of Foreclosure From OccupyLA

Let me introduce you to a lovely lady I met on October 7th at #OccupyLA. She was there simply to tell her story. Like many people in this economy, she had been finding it difficult to make ends meet, so when Obama's Loan Modification program began it seemed like a godsend. Little did she know, it would be the start rather than the end of her problems.

She duly completed all the paperwork her bank, Wells Fargo, asked her to, and was told what her reduced payments would be. She continued to pay her mortgage, but at the adjusted rate, as she'd been instructed to by Wells Fargo. She never missed a payment, and was not in arrears.

However, months later, out of the blue, she found out her application, for whatever reason, had been rejected. At this point, Wells Fargo treated her like she had been in arrears, because she'd been paying reduced payments on a mortgage that had failed to be modified. To add insult to injury, Wells Fargo then slapped her with a slew of interest charges and fees, because they in effect retroactively considered her account to be in default because of the Loan Modification decision.

Her bank then suggested she reapply, which she did - twice. Two more times, exactly the same thing happened. Following the third failed application, Wells Fargo began proceedings to repossess her home, even though she had made all her mortgage payments in exactly the way the bank had prescribed.

Turns out, the Loan Modification process is notoriously flawed and has been accused numerous times of causing foreclosures, as was the case here. Richard Gaudreau, an attorney, explains in an essay for Huffington Post exactly why the Loan Modification process fails to help troubled homeowners while lining the pockets of banks (surprise, surprise!):

The government pays mortgage servicers $1,000 for each "loan mod" application. Studies have shown though that mortgage servicers stand to make far more in fees from a foreclosure than they ever will from a loan modification request.

Obviously this kind of behavior is unconscionable. It's hard to comprehend that a "trusted name" like Wells Fargo would want to force a loyal customer and her family out onto the street in order to make a quick buck on a few fees. But this is happening to untold numbers of people all across our nation at the hands of nearly all the major banks.

My #OccupyLA friend had done everything required of her to meet her obligations, but somehow that wasn't enough -- is that remotely fair? But these days we don't seem to require fairness, never mind empathy and understanding, from the financial institutions in which we entrust our wealth, our security, and our futures. Clearly this was not an institution worthy of the trust this lady had been placed in it. Is it worthy of yours?

Take the power away from the big banks and move your money to a community institution or credit union. To find a credit union in your area visit: moveyourmoneyproject.org

Related Posts
Freedom Of The Press Is The Biggest Casualty Of Last Night’s #OccupyLA Raid
#OccupyLA – Images Of The Morning After The Raid
#OccupyLA -- A Remarkably Civilized Society
#Occupy You Must
The Start of OccupyLA
Why Aren't We Seeing More Prominent People Coming Out In Support of #OCUPPYWALLSTREET?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Freedom Of The Press Is The Biggest Casualty Of Last Night's #OccupyLA Raid

[Above: The heroes of last night's raid - citizen journalists and Livestreamers Oakfosho and OccupyFreedomLA]

Though thankfully there's no reports of anyone being seriously hurt during last night's police action, perhaps the biggest casualty was the First Amendment and freedom of the press. The LAPD pre-selected a group of a dozen handpicked mainstream media representatives, and denied access to the City Hall grounds to all other journalists while the eviction was taking place. (During the actual raid, any media already present were warned that they may face arrest or serious injury if they ignored the dispersal order and remained on the South Lawn.) Predictably, no independent or alternative outlets - and no bloggers or Livestreamers - were among the LAPD's chosen few.

At one point in the evening, citizen-journalist-turned-Livestream-celebrity OakFoSho was threatened by an officer who pointed the business end of a weapon at him - with his finger on the trigger. This incident was witnessed by the surrounding crowd who chanted "guns down" repeatedly in response and the approximately 15,000 viewers who were watching OakFoSho's stream. The officer's name was duly noted and shared by numerous tweeters (including friend of SG Wil Wheaton).

Just as troubling was the fact that the pool of approved media had serious restrictions placed upon them. They were not allowed to tweet or call-in stories live from inside the park until after the eviction, and had to funnel all pool reports via a city news wire service. Additionally, KCAL9 revealed they had "made an agreement with the LAPD to not give away their tactics," and, according to BoingBoing's Xeni Jardin, "CBS LA blacked out shots so as to 'not interfere with integrity of police action.'" Many other bloggers and tweeters also noted their disappointment at the easy compliance of so-called journalists and traditional media outlets, whom they felt should have put up more resistance to the obvious attempt to restrict and suppress information.

The underlying serious First Amendment issue at play here is the principle that the police shouldn't be the ones to decide who is and who isn't deemed press - since the function of a free press in a democracy is to provide a check and balance for those in authority. Furthermore, even those members of the media granted pre-designated access can't cover any action freely if they're worried about having the credentials they need for such coverage rescinded (as was the case in New York during the Zuccotti Park eviction). Given the gravity of this issue, we expect this story to develop over the next few days and weeks, and understand the ACLU is already in the process of taking action.