Category Archives: movies

IFC Midnight Acquires Retro Thriller ‘Rent-A-Pal’

I am so excited to share this with all of you.

About a year ago (or ten years ago, what even is time amirite) I worked on a FANTASTIC movie called Rent-A-Pal. It’s a retro thriller, and I am intensely proud of the project as a whole, and my work in it.

The thing about movies is, making the thing is just a small part of the whole process. The real barrier is distribution, so people can actually see the thing you worked so hard to make. It’s not uncommon for a film to be made and finished, yet never get a chance to find its audience, because it can’t find a distributor.

So it’s extra exciting for me to learn that Rent-A-Pal has been picked up by IFC Midnight! You can see this fantastic little movie I’m in, from the safety and convenience of your own home!

Here’s a little bit from the press release:

“Inspired by the real-life VHS tape, Rent-A-Friend: The Original Companion, Rent-A-Pal is set in 1990 and follows a lonely bachelor named David (Brian Landis Folkins). In a pre-Tinder media era, David is looking to find an escape from the day-to-day drudgery of caring for his aging mother (Kathleen Brady). While seeking a partner through a video dating service, he discovers a strange VHS tape called ​Rent-A-Pal bosted by a charismatic gentleman named Andy (Wil Wheaton). The tape offers him much-needed company, compassion, and friendship but Andy’s friendship comes at a cost — and David is desperate to pay that price. Amy Rutledge also stars.”

You can read the whole release at Deadline.

destroy all monsters

My friend does this thing where he smokes some cannabis, takes a few puffs of his delta 8 vape, and watches movies that I guess are enhanced by his altered state of mind.

I know, I know, you’re like, “So what? We all have that friend, and it is me!” I hear you. The thing is, my friend writes reviews of these movies, and they are fantastic. Witness:


Lance’s Movie Joint Perhaps you think Marvel pulled off the world’s greatest film crossover event by designing a 10-year, multi-film, multi-character movie arc that would lead everyone to the same place at the same time, but I must respectfully disagree because I have seen the world greatest film crossover event and it happened in 1968. Consider that in one 90-minute film (not two 3-hour bladder contests) you get Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, Gorosaurus, Manda, King Ghidorah, Anguirus, Kumonga. and Godzilla Jr. (aka Godzooky) all in one film battling each other for world monster supremacy. And that film is Destroy All Monsters. I need to pause here and express a warning if you’re planning on smoking a doob or two and settling back with a party size bag of Doritos and a 6-pack of Coke Zero and watch this film and that warning is do not try to make sense of this film in the context of any other Toho kaiju movie because this one stands alone. Whereas in some other cinematic universes there exists a thread – however tenuous – that ties them all together through references and backstories, no such thread exists here other than “hey there are gigantic monsters on the Earth and sometimes they get pissed off.” I actually tried to piece together some kind of puzzle of all the other films leading up to this one to see how all the monsters ended up on the same island and why only Mothra needs two tiny women singing to him (her?) whereas the others act independently and do the monsters like humans or nah and why always Tokyo (though in this case they also destroy Moscow, Paris, and New York for good measure) but then I got higher and thought to myself, fuck it, nothing matters anyway. While the (SPOILERS!) costumed actors portraying this variety of monsters do their humble best to stomp all over the carefully and lovingly crafted sets of tiny buildings and real working vehicles, the real stars here are the set designer and the dubbing actors who manage somehow to be even more unbelievable (and awesome) than the monsters. Several times I had to rewind the film to re-experience a line or a look or, like, Godzilla performing some expert karate moves, and what higher praise can I give than that this film managed to overcome my brain’s fuzziness several times to provide things that were crazy awesome amazeballs? You’ll be tempted to talk over the dialog as the monsters engage in one of many, many, many scenes of Thunderbirds-like destruction, but don’t do it! The very next line uttered could be the best one yet – followed by an even better one. It struck me how much these films rely on an uneducated audience, and how much we all know about physics and space travel and gravity that we didn’t (care about) in 1968. Nothing makes much sense, but it’s all pretty and camp and awesome. [5/5 Weeds] (Currently streaming on The Criterion Channel, and you must watch the dubbed version for the full THC effect.)

So I have never been a huge fan of Kaiju movies, but I think it’s because I never saw the right ones. I saw the Matthew Broderick Godzilla, which is damn close to unwatchable, and I vaguely recall being a teenager and seeing some Kaiju movie that was all about annoying little kids singing songs at a Kaiju monster while someone talked into a wristwatch. (It is distinctly possible that my brain has invented a single movie from random bits of TV I saw on weekend afternoons when I was growing up).

But after reading Lance’s review of Destroy All Monsters, I decided that I would give this movie a chance to be my proper introduction to Kaiju … and holy shit I loved it. It was so weird and so over the top and so badly dubbed and such a goddamn delight to watch! If this is a fair and representative sample of what Kaiju movies are like, I’ve TOTALLY been missing out for, like, my entire life.


If you, like me, are new to this genre, or are curious about it, I can’t recommend Destroy All Monsters enough. It’s got a TON of exposition so you don’t have any FOMO about complext character backstories or whatever (if any) thread connects the larger Kaiju film world together. There are no children singing songs, at all, and the Kaiju do a goddamn delightful job destroying all the carefully-constructed cities they stomp around in. There are no silly breakdancing moves, and everything in it is grounded in some version of reality, so I never felt like it was insulting my intelligence by pandering to any section of the audience with dumb fan service like, oh to pick a random example out of thin air, the final season of Game of Thrones.

The big brains at SyFy wire have you covered, too, if you are like “I want to watch one of these movies, but I don’t want to risk a three dollar investment because I am a savvy consumer.” Check out this Really Big List of Ways To Watch Kaiju Movies Online, and if you partake of the wacky tobacky, get ready to enjoy a sublimely weird and totally satisfying, supremely fun 90 minutes.

“Memory’s fog is rising.”

I wrote this last night.

30 years ago today, John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness was released.

That means that 30 years ago tonight, I was at the AMC 10 in Burbank.

Today, that part of Burbank is filled with businesses and chain restaurants and street performers. 30 years ago, there was the theater, a parking garage, a Fuddrucker’s (that’s still there and still terrible), and not much else. It was quiet when you went outside, especially after a movie that started late.

We went to a show that started around 10 or 1030pm. The air was cool, and it was so foggy, we couldn’t see the streetlights, just their glow. I went with three of my friends, who were all older than me and could drive. We listened to Van Halen in the car.

I remember that the movie wasn’t what I wanted it to be, and I was disappointed. It wasn’t scary, and the effects seemed cheesy. I wanted it to scare me the way The Thing scared me, and it didn’t do that. But it was foggy as hell that night, which is something that doesn’t happen in Burbank very often, and that made the post-showing silence especially eerie, and worth the drive. The walk to the car was more satisfying to me than the movie was.

On the way home, we went on streets instead of the freeway, because it would take us longer to get home that way, and that’s what being out at night with your friends is about when you’re fifteen. We listened to Some Great Reward on the way home. I lamented that the girl I had a huge crush on would never know I existed, and my friend, Ryan, told me (as he always did) to go talk to her or shut up about it forever. We drove through Glendale and Montrose, and on the way up the hill to my house, we drove out of the fog. I remember looking out toward Los Angeles when we got out of the car, and seeing that blanket of fog, broken by the Verdugo mountains, glowing orange from the streetlights beneath it. I remember wishing the movie had lived up to the atmosphere. I remember wishing that I’d asked Hailey to go with me to the movie.

Tonight, it’s hot and dry outside, and I am in the home I own, that I bought with my wife. I drove my Mini today and listened to Depeche Mode. My wife is asleep in our bed. Our son is asleep in our guest room. I feel like that teenager I was thirty years ago isn’t even a real person, just a foggy memory that’s painful to visit more often than it is not.

A lot of my teens blurs together, because I worked all the time and I was so unhappy, I spent my twenties trying to forget them. But this is one of the things that I can remember pretty clearly, because of the fog.

The fog. In literary symbolism, we use fog to represent mystery, the inability to see clearly, and uncertainty. It’s interesting to me that the fog is the only reason I can remember anything about that night, thirty years ago, and that tonight I can recall so much of it so clearly.

Time is weird. Memory is weird. Life is strange.

One year ago, I rebooted my life. Has it worked?

Sometimes, I feel like I don't look terrible in a photo.
Sometimes, I feel like I don’t look terrible in a photo.

Just about one year ago, I took an honest look at myself and I didn’t like what I saw. I needed to reset a lot of habits, make some significant changes to the way I approached just about everything in my life, and keep working at it, even when it was hard.

I can’t even believe that it’s already been a year, and that it’s only been a year, because time feels like that when you’re 44, I guess.

Here are the things I decided to address:

  • Drink less beer.
  • Read more (and Reddit does not count as reading).
  • Write more.
  • Watch more movies.
  • Get better sleep.
  • Eat better food.
  • Exercise more.

Some of these things have been easier than others, and from month to month (and even day to day) what happens to be easy and what happens to be hard are constantly changing. I know that’s an obvious thing, but I say it because we can forget that, and consequently be unfairly rough on ourselves when we don’t live up to our expectations.

But most of the time, I look like this.
But most of the time, I look like this.

I know a lot of you who are reading this have been doing reboots of your own, and I want you to know that, no matter where you are in your personal journey, I am super proud of you. I’m not the boss of you or anything, but I give you permission to be proud of yourself. Go you!!

So let’s dive in here and see how things are going:

Continue reading… →

I’m the boss of me. (Or, how’s that reboot working out for ya?)

It’s been about seven months since I decided to hit the reboot button on my life, and it’s time to check in and see how I’m doing.

The real challenge this month, and the 54,000 dollar question is: is it worth it?

The fact that I’ve waited until the last day .. even the last half of the last day … of the month should give some indication as to where I’m at, emotionally, right now.

I mostly feel good. I’m mostly sleeping well (other than a couple of intensely terrible nightmare nights), I don’t feel like I’m missing out on any food I want, and I haven’t really missed beer that much. But I feel like the reboot curve has flattened out, and now I’m through the part where I see and experience dramatic results all the time, and I’m in the long dark teatime of the soul.

That’s, uh, that’s not where I really am. My fingers just typed that because it was amusing to me. I’m in the long and boring maintenance part of this, while I adjust to a new normal. I feel really good in my body, the exercise is actually fun, cooking healthy food is fun and delicious, and I can have ice cream almost every night, because I’m taking good care of myself in every other aspect of my life and if I want to have ice cream then goddammit I am going to.

But when someone tells me that I look really good (“ten years younger” is the most common thing, which is nice) and they want to know how I did it in such a short period of time, I tell them that I just took everything I liked and replaced it with water and exercise (which isn’t my phrase, I heard it somewhere else). It’s one of those funny-but-not-ha-ha-funny jokes that isn’t a joke. It’s true … but is it worth it?

I honestly don’t know. I know that I feel good. I know that I look better than I have in years. I know that I’m in really good health, so I don’t feel trapped in a body that’s aging and trying to prevent me from doing the things I want to do.

Strangely, that all feels external and not as important as it was four or five months ago. I don’t have creative and artistic satisfaction, and I know that that is entirely my fault, because I’m not nearly doing as much as I want to do creatively. I still feel like I’m doing other people’s work, even though a lot of that work is intensely satisfying and rewarding in every way. Maybe this only makes sense inside my brain, but I feel like writing for Tabletop and Titansgrave, and doing voice work for the projects I can’t talk about is work and I am expected to do work. Writing stories and making podcasts and putting together films and junk draws from essentially the same creative well, but … I don’t know, it tastes different. It’s more satisfying, I guess. It quenches a different type of thirst.

I’m doing that kind of work a very little bit at a time, but it really does feel like my phone and my email and my texts are constantly pulling me away from it, and the year is nearly half over, and I haven’t published a single short story.

Anyway, that’s a lot of first world problem complaining that I am reluctant to even share in public, but honestly assessing how this is all going is kind of important, so there it is. Let’s check in and see how my grades are for May.

Continue reading… →