Shaun of the Dead
It probably violates one of the high ethical standards of blogging, and for that this tick-tocking time waster apologizes, both for our ignorance and our uncouthiticity, but we'd like at this time to communicate with one individual, if you'd pardon our intrusion: Hey, there, Newport Beach actor Shaun Kurtz. Yes, we did receive the DVD screener for Marcus Stokes' short film The Catalyst. Yes, we did get the phone messages on our voice mail. Yes, we did hear our poor receptionist page us that you (or your peeps) were on the line. Yes, we do understand now that you're not as interested in seeing us write about the film, which HBO picked up after recognizing it and others in July 2005 at the 9th annual American Black Film Festival, but that you're just looking for our honest feedback. So here it goes: The Catalyst is a taut little sci-fi thriller, reminding us in some ways of the better Twilight Zone episodes, and we mean the original Twilight Zone, not that crapola that's been foisted on viewers over the years since Rod Serling went to that great Lung Cancer Ward in the Sky. Indeed, the best thing this little gem had going for it were the same things the original TZ did: excellent writing and directing. As for the acting (which is what we're guessing you're really interested in us opining on), well, we will say the main kid's anguish over his fiancee's tragic death was believable. He does seem to have a future in shobiz. After wading through your press packet, we think his name is Nelson Frederick, but we're looking at a tiny copy of a copy of a movie poster, and as far as we know Nelson Frederick may have been the key grip. As for everyone else in the cast, including you, Mr. Kurtz, as "The Catalyst": Would you consider "clunky" a slam of the acting? Sorry if you do, but the actors around the main character seemed like they were bought at the USA Network Up All Night Store. Okay, that was harsh. Maybe not that bad. Surely more rehearsals and opportunities to re-shoot scenes would have brought the ensemble up to that heady UPN sitcom level of competence. Of course, with a bigger budget, Mr. Stokes coulda bought real stars. Just rest assured that, as is, you were all much, much better actors than the ones you'll find in the softcore-porn flicks that HBO will be running right after your late-night time slots. The power of positive thinking, Sparky! Now I suggest you put a blank tape in your VCR so you can record The Catalyst, which began running in December, when it's repeated on HBO Signature - West at 8:40 a.m. Jan. 22 or 7:30 p.m. Jan. 26, or on HBO Zone West at 1:30 a.m. Feb. 11 (the softcore-porn block: awwww yeah!). And you take that tape, mister, and march it right over to the Orange County Register, where they'll surely appreciate your monster talent and even put you on the front page or something. Chow, baby!