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Movie Review: “Kokoda Crescent”

Oh, my, God, for those of you who read my movie reviews because you’re fans of Hawaii Five-0 and want to see what I’ve got to say (and all those screencaps I do) about Scott Caan and/or Alex O’Loughlin in other stuff, prepare to have the you-know-what shocked out of you…because I’m doing a review on a movie that doesn’t have either one of those guys in it!

I know, I know. Could you be any more shocked?

:-D

Silliness aside, this is one I managed to get my hands on after much searching (being the only copy of the thing I could find anywhere on the ‘net at the time I was shopping for it) and contains an extremely young Patrick Thompson. Who’s that? He’s part of what I’ve dubbed the Aussie Rat Pack, consisting of him, Alex O’Loughlin, Matthew Le Nevez and Patrick’s father, Jack Thompson. Just search my site here for “Rat Pack” and you’ll find the posts where I explain or allude to what exactly I’m talking about with that. :-)

So here we go, my first non-O’Loughlin, non-Caan movie review…complete with video grabs I made from the VHS copy (stone ages!) of a really young Patrick Thompson in what I believe was his first feature-length movie role: Kokoda Crescent.

Summary: Three old war veteran buddies take the law into their own hands when the grandson of one of them dies from a heroin overdose. If the police won’t do something, these three senior citizens (and their wives) will.


This movie is an absolute joy. Not only does it deal with something extremely painful, that of a family having to deal with the tragic death of a young man who is son, brother and grandson, but also showcasing the fact that just because people grow old doesn’t mean they grow feeble-minded or are incapable of being action heroes!

The wives of two of the older men in the movie are hilarious, one in particular, and the movie is full of so many laugh-out-loud moments that I seriously think can only come from the Aussie sense of humor. Yet at the same time you feel the anguish of the grandfather, his friends and the wives when young Brett, portrayed by Patrick Thompson (Feed, Man-Thing, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition), dies.

From one minute to the next I never knew whether I’d be teary-eyed or laughing. I had no idea what to expect when I popped the videotape into my player, and even my roommates were wondering what had me at times howling and at other times going, “Oh, no!”

I think what I loved the most about this movie was not only were these seemingly ordinary older men and women turned into action heroes, but the dialog and story were simply brilliant. I’ve really come to enjoy many an Aussie flick that I never would’ve seen had it not been for my work on Hawaii Five-0 Online which led me into doing reviews for Alex O’Loughlin movies, which led me to finding Patrick Thompson and a bunch of other films I never would’ve even known existed.

Although this film is from way back (God, that makes me feel old) in 1989, it was fun for this Yank to see a slice of Aussie life through the camera’s and characters’ lives. How it’s the same, and how it’s different than anywhere I’ve lived in the U.S. (and that’s been lots of places) or Canada.

I also have to admit getting a huge kick out of seeing the guy I watched as a kick-ass cop in Feed chasing after Alex O’Loughlin’s Michael as a skinny blond kid with a higher-pitched voice in this movie! ;-)

Young Patrick Thompson in "Kokoda Crescent"; inset: Patrick Thompson in "Feed"

But the talent’s there, evident already at such an early age. Pat Thompson hasn’t done a whole lot in front of the cameras the way of movies and television from what I’ve been able to glean off sites such as IMDb, so when I find something like this – and when I finally get the technology to be able to share it with others – I get a little excited. Which is why, as you’ll see below, I’m bringing to you scenes from Kokoda Crescent (on videotape!) of the scenes in which Pat appears.

You can watch the first one below, or click here to be taken to the Kokoda Crescent You Tube playlist where you can watch all seven of Patrick’s scenes.

Enjoy! And if you can possibly get your hands on this movie (I’m not giving mine away, however!), I’d highly recommend it. It’s a romp, it’s an adventure, it’s drama and it’s one helluva ride.

To check and see if you can find this on Amazon.com, click here.


The Actors Aren’t to Blame

My publisher, who used to be a publicist with NBC a few years back, warned me this was coming. She saw the writing on the wall when I shared certain tweets and posts with her.

Sadly, she was right.

Back in my post entitled “So Much Lip Service – Part 2,”I mentioned that there have been cases where soap opera actors who portrayed villains have literally had fans of the show come up and spit in their faces because of something their character did to another, beloved, ‘good-guy’ character.

Well, I’m seeing this happen (virtually, not physically) right now to someone. She’s being ‘hated on’ for no other reason than because she’s trying to do the job she was hired to do, and it hurts to watch it happen. It hurts because I’ve known actors…lots of ‘em in days gone by…and it’s unfair of fans to rail against them for something they have zero control over.

Actors are people just like the rest of us. They have emotions. They have morals, scruples, quirks, kinks, faults and things they’re really good at. So to see someone get bashed, to the point where they feel like they have to apologize to fans? It’s just not right.

Maybe some of the fans don’t understand how things work. Maybe some of them do, but they’re just taking out their frustrations on the most obvious target – the actor who’s bringing something to the screen that those fan just don’t want to see.

For the benefit of those who don’t know, I’d like to point out that there are an awful lot of things that happen before what you see on the screen in a movie or on an episode of your favorite TV show. Things that the actor has absolutely nothing to do with (unless they happen to have written the script or directed the episode themselves).

Control is an illusion!

Those in control of the show – everyone from people at whatever network or cable channel it’s on all the way to the Executive Producers and Producers – are at the top of the food chain. Sometimes even EPs can’t do 100% of what they want if the network/cable channel says “No.” Sometimes the network/cable channel even makes them do things they don’t want to do, in a (sometimes misguided) attempt to steer the show in the direction they think it should go in.

Then you have the screenwriters. The people who write the scripts. In television, unless that screenwriter is also the Executive Producer who runs the show, the scripts are written to order. Like the EPs, the writers don’t get to do 100% of what they want to do.  And even while scenes are being filmed, scripts can change. Often dramatically. I’ve seen entire scenes completely thrown out in the middle of being filmed because the director said, “No, doesn’t work at all.” Which, of course, sends the writers scrambling to figure out what to do.

So an actor gets a script. And then revisions. And then more revisions. And then even more, sometimes on-the-spot.

Then there are the directors. The actor may try to do what they think is right for their character, whether it’s applying certain facial expressions or body language…figuring out the best way to deliver a line…interacting with those around them within the context of the scene…playing off the previous line or setting up for the next one. There’s a lot an actor can and does do to make a character their own, but there aren’t very many cases where they’re actually allowed to make it all up on their own without being told what to say by the writers, and how to execute it by the directors. Ad-libbing? Maybe, if the director’s generous. But not writing entire story arcs, entire seasons or – unless they happened to write one – whole episodes.

After all the scenes are shot, it goes to editing. Is it too long? What scenes aren’t crucial to the story the producers, directors and/or writers want told? Did the scene with these two characters not work very well? Does a scene not advance the story at all in the precious few minutes lurking inside of an hour that they have to tell it? There are so many decisions an editor has to make to splice together a bunch of scenes shot out-of-sequence into an episode of a television series.

And then music’s added, and anything else they think is needed. Sound effects, getting actors to come into the studio to re-record dialogue because maybe it got muffled or in the end they couldn’t find a recorded way a line was delivered that satisfied the director, producer and editor.

Eventually, an episode gets put together and shipped off to the studio to be aired.

It’s a complex process made up of a plethora of people behind-the-scenes. All fans really get to see – unless the show’s people are willing to expose behind-the-scenes action – is the finished product.

And unless an actor actually wrote and directed and produced and everything else’d on their own without anyone else’s input, you cannot rip them a new one simply because you don’t like a character, or a story arc, or the way something on a show is being handled.

It’s not the actor’s fault.

Let me repeat that.

It is not the actor’s fault.

This is another thing I have referenced in previous posts that I’ve really started to see becoming hurtful: people’s ability in recent years to immediately post everything they’re thinking and feeling on the internet without any sort of filter or time lag.

Back in the 80s – which was my favorite time period  for television shows until recently, when the new Hawaii Five-0 reboot appeared – if there was something I didn’t like on a television show and I had felt compelled to complain about it, I would have had to hunt down the network’s mailing address, spend time handwriting (or typing) a letter, find a postage stamp and an envelope, and mail it off.

(No, I never did that, by the way. I was between the ages of 8 and 18 inthe 80s, and while I loved to watch the TV shows of that decade, I never felt the urge to brain anyone over anything they did on them.)

Nowadays, you can tell the entire world in the space of a few seconds how much you don’t like something or someone, without any sort of brain-to-fingers filter required.

Actors take it personally, just like writers.

This one is important. Even if you’re careful to say you hate the character, the actor portraying that character tends to take that personally. Just like writers take it personally when you say you hate the stories or the books they write, even though writers themselves obviously aren’t their creative works.  If you think about it, pretty much any worker would take it personally when someone tells them they suck, especially if that worker’s just doing what their boss told them to.

The job an actor is hired to do, is bring a character to life. A character created by someone else. The actor can’t help it that the people who are in charge are having that character do or say things that the fans don’t care for.

Should I say it again? Yeah, I should.

It is not the actor’s fault.

Hate is a very harsh word.

It’s also sad that so many fans will actually come out and say they “hate” a character or “hate” an actor. Hate is such a strong word, and you’ll only ever see me use it loosely when referring to phrases like I did in a previous post. (I will always always hate the phrase ‘team player’ – too many years spent in cubicle farms! But that phrase can’t get its feelings hurt like a human being can.)

The bottom line is this: If you do not like something that’s happening on a TV show, send a well thought-out email to the network, for starters. Explain what it is you don’t like rationally and intelligently. Spitting out things like “We hate X!” or “Y is horrible!” or “Go home, X!” really doesn’t help anyone. Those types of comments are too vague and personal in nature to explain what your problem with the whole thing is.

Second, if you have a way to contact the production company – either by snail mail or email – do the same thing. Write the letter rationally and intelligently, and explain your grievances like a grown-up. Not like a six year-old who’s throwing a tantrum because they’re not getting their way.

Third, if you have access to the show’s producers, especially the Executive Producers, do the same thing again. Explain yourself. Tell them what you don’t like about the story, or the character(s) you have problems with. Above all, tell them why. And for crying out loud, don’t threaten them! (I can’t believe I actually have to say that, but it’s already happened in this case. WTF?)

You also have to remember that there’s an unfortunate side effect of publicly establishing yourself, via tweets or other methods, as favoring one of the actors, or a particular real or potential pairing in a show.  Those in charge will then dismiss your quickly tweeted “hate hate hate” messages not just because they sound infantile, but because they figure, “Oh, he or she is just not happy because I’m not giving their favorite character or actor more screen time/doing it the way they want me to.” That’s why it’s really important to state your case logically, rationally and intelligently.

I know I keep repeating those words. But I kind of have to, because a lot of people seem to have lost their common sense. But that’s a rant for another day.

Give them a chance to fix it, already!

Just as you are able to instantaneously tell the people in charge of a show that you don’t like something, you have to remember that dozens, maybe even hundreds of other unhappy viewers may be doing exactly the same thing. Therefore, the show runners may very well be thinking, “Oh, oops, my bad. Shouldn’t have done that, shit!”

But here’s the problem. The actual filming of a show is usually four, five or six episodes ahead of the one that you’re sitting there watching. So even if the producers or the networks want to “fix” whatever they’ve done that the fans are screaming about, the fact is that you won’t actually see those “fixes” until maybe four, five or six (or more!) weeks down the road. There’s nothing anyone can do about that.

Breathe. Give it time. Express yourself kindly by making your points without attacking. Then sit back and wait to see if you were listened to.

And please try to remember, in the spirit of the television show that actually got me interested in television shows again, that ohana means family. No matter what, we shouldn’t be hurting each other like this.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A ‘FAN’ AND BEING A ‘FANATIC’

For years, I have cringed whenever someone called me a “fan” of anything. I. Am. Not. A. Fan.

Of anything.

Now, before you twist your head in puzzlement and wonder, how can she not be a fan of anything, perhaps I should take a step (or ten) back and explain what the word ‘fan’ means to me.

‘Fan,’ as I’m sure you already know, is simply short for the word ‘fanatic.’

Need I say more?

Really?

Historically, words that end in –tic do not have good connotations. How about lunatic? Heretic? Spastic? I could go on, but that would be to digress.

No, no, it’s not just how the word ‘fanatic’ is spelled. It’s the connotation of it. Let’s look first at the dictionary definition. Dictionary.com tells us that a fanatic is “a person with an extreme and uncritical enthusiasm or zeal, as in religion or politics,” while the same website says a fan is “an enthusiastic devotee, follower, or admirer of a sport, pastime, celebrity, etc.”

Now, wait a minute. Neither of those definitions sound bad at all. A fanatic specifically being “uncritical?” A fan defined as “enthusiastic?” What in the world is so horrible about either?

It’s not the dictionary definitions that have made me shy away from either…or both. It’s the way that professionals in the television and movie industry – to whom I was exposed directly for just over four years – react when you say you’re a fan of whatever or whoever it is they’re working on or with.

For example, I’d go walking the movie lot every day at lunch for the particular studio I was with. I can’t tell you how many actors and actresses, directors, producers, screenplay/script writers and the like that I met. I attended lots of sitcom tapings, got to know some of these people quite well, and the one thing I was never ever allowed to tell any of them, was that I was a fan.

Because telling them that made me UNSAFE to be in their sphere.

As long as I was just another employee, working for the same place they were working for, the biggest names in the business asked no questions, because the implication was that I wasn’t going to maul, molest or otherwise harass them. That I wasn’t going to ask for favors. That I wasn’t going to try to get something out of them or ask for an autograph (I never ask for those…I’m not sure why owning someone’s scrawled John Hancock is such a thrill, but I’m weird like that).

So I guess I learned from my association with people both in front of and behind the camera over those four years. I learned a lot about actors and actresses. About the guys (and gals) who sit around writing, rewriting and doing last-last-last minute rewrites of scripts (oh, the multi-colored pages). About the directors and producers who alternately shouted, frowned or just plain threw their hands up in the air at times. Yes, I saw one do that, poor guy. But his actors were just as frustrated!

To me, none of these people are anything more than…well…people. If I met them while hanging out on a Saturday night down on Beale Street here in Memphis, would I be drawn to them if they weren’t a “big name” shooting into millions of household living rooms every week via TV screens? I honestly don’t know. In some cases, I’d like to think so. But when you boil right down to the bare facts, they’re doing their jobs just as much as the stock market broker in Manhattan, the waitress in Los Angeles and the farmer in Somewhere, Iowa.

So combining my own experiences with my personal beliefs about folks who are “high up” in the television or movie industries (I’m one who says “Hey, they put their pants on same way we do”), I bristle when I get called a fan of anything, because it’s been ingrained in me that that’s bad. That you cannot let them know you are this horrid, horrid beast called ‘fan.’ (I half expect horns, fangs and an arrow-tipped tail to sprout from me if someone actually calls me that and makes it stick.)

Hmmmm, that description sounds like it might make a decent character in my next book…

I’m just going to mention here that even Facebook stopped using the word ‘fan.’ For those who don’t remember, it used to be that instead of clicking “Like” if you appreciated and wanted to recommend a Facebook page about something/someone, you clicked a button that said “Become a Fan.” And then Facebook found out that a lot of people did not really like that word. People resoundingly said that just because they “liked” something doesn’t mean they wanted to be called a “fan” of it.

Interesting, huh?

I guess I should admit that while I might quietly sometimes admit to myself that I am a fan of something or someone, I try to pretend the origins of that word aren’t from ‘fanatic’ when I do so. I shall make one final distinction between ‘fan’ and ‘fanatic,’ though, as I see it.

I don’t think a fan is a bad thing to be, but I think a fanatic is. Let me explain.

To me, saying I am a fan of…let’s use an actor. Actor Joe Anyone, we’ll call him. To say I am a fan of his implies that I enjoy watching him. Or perhaps that I enjoy what he does in his “non-work” time, such as charities he supports, perhaps…or hobbies or how he spends time with his family or whatever the case may be. That maybe I like the majority of Joe Anywhere’s body of work.

The same could be said of me if I declared myself to be a fanatic of Joe Anywhere the actor.

HOWEVER…

Here’s what I think the difference is.

I believe that a fanatic will love Joe Anywhere to their dying day and GOD HELP THE POOR SOUL who dares to say one little thing against Joe. As an example, suppose I go to see Joe’s latest film and I think he didn’t quite capture the spirit of the character, or thought he seemed disengaged, or really thought he’d been miscast and wonder why he took the role to begin with. If I said that to Joe’s fanatics, they’d sever my head, serve it up on a silver platter and probably disembowel me in the bargain, asking how the heck I could call myself a fan of Joe’s if I don’t support him 100%.

Oy vey.

Of course I support Joe 100%. But that doesn’t mean I have to love everything he does without reservation…it just means I should  support his right to try it. It does not mean I have to view every project he does with hearts in my eyes and blindly follow him no matter how painfully bad his current project might be.

If I think a film was excellent except for what I thought was ten minutes of poor scriptwriting, that doesn’t mean I’m not a fan of the movie. It means I cared enough about the damn movie to lament that I thought something wasn’t perfect about it!

Am I starting to make sense?

If I think my favorite pretend actor Joe Anywhere is an asshole for how he acts during an interview, and voice my opinion that the guy needs to lighten up and stop acting like said asshole to the reporter, that does not mean I’m not his fan. I am Joe’s fan. It simply means that either I was embarrassed for him, or concerned about how his behavior might affect his reputation or the project he’s currently working on…it could be any number of things.

In short (too late, I know), I think I need to come to terms with the fact that I am indeed a (closet) fan of some things and even of some people. However, those things and those people won’t ever really know that from my lips, because it was drilled into me not to show it.

Yes, I write fan fiction, as I have already made public. Just because that’s what they call it, though, doesn’t mean it’s not good, solid, decent writing. Any more than calling me a fan of someone or something, means that I’m not a good, solid, decent human being. And like a lot of fan fiction writers I know who work hard on their craft, I get a little tired of the portrayal of it in the media as if it is all badly written, self-indulgent crap. After all, I’ve seen plenty of professional writing that fits those two categories to a ‘T!’

Are there some scary-ass fans out there who do things like stalk celebrities to their favorite hangouts or to their homes? Who have fantasies all worked up in their heads that Celebrity A is their boyfriend/husband and Celebrity B is their long-lost past-life love? Oh, yeah. THOSE are really and truly what I’d call ‘fanatics.’

But please, folks, don’t sit there and tell other people they aren’t true fans of something or someone just because they have the unmitigated gall, in your eyes, to critique something the person you think walks on water has done.

That person is human just like the rest of us. They are not perfect no matter how much your rose-colored glasses tell you they are. And I have the right to say “Dude, you are seriously screwing it up,” if I care about whatever it is he’s screwing up. Sorry, but I’m not going to openly support someone just because I’m supposed to be their ‘fan,’ if I think they’re making bad artistic or personal decisions. Because I care about them, I am going to say, “Oh, man, why did you do that?”

Yes, this is all my not-so-humble opinion. But it’s something that grates on me, and has since my studio days. So there you have it.

And dammit…I am not a fan! :-)

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    The book series "Takers," the screenplays contained on the "Screenplays" page and the screenplays discussed and contained on this website are copyright Chris Davis. Novels are published by Plotfish Press, and screenplays are registered with the Writers Guild of America (WGA) West.
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