Animation Block Valentine’s Day Showcase Heads To The Troubadour

Animation BlockValentine’s Day is usually an animated time for lovers who really need to express themselves. Although restaurant reservations are probably part of the experience, a bit of creativity may also do the trick.

The Animation Block Valentine’s Day Showcase, which will be held at the Troubadour in West Hollywood on February 13, will feature “love” themed cartoon shorts mtv(other), Six Point Harness, Loopedeloop, and Nickelodeon.

A cartoon bumper from famed artist and Oscar nominee Bill Plympton will kick off the proceedings (the doors open at 8 pm). Live music from Blackbird Blackbird and Colleen Green will also be part of the event.

As the beautiful standard goes, I “don’t get much around anymore,” but that doesn’t mean an evening of animation, music, and a little bit of love shouldn’t be shared by the more extroverted set.

For tickets to the show, which will be hosted by Animation Block Casey Safron, click here.

As for Blackbird Blackbird, check out the clip for “It’s A War.”

New App ‘Flirt Planet Meet’ Aims To Revolutionize Digital Dating

Flirt Planet (Truly Social)I’m an app addict due to my freelance gig as a reviewer for Arcade Sushi, but as far as apps adding any extra social dimension to my life, that experience remains at ground zero. TrulySocial founder and creative director Sebastian Coman is attempting to turn our universal app love into a socially interactive experience.

Flirt Planet Meet went live this month and is a free download at the App Store, and even if you don’t find “the one” from this free to play experience, hopefully you’ll develop a few flirting skills in the process.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I talked to Sebastian Coman about what Flirt Planet Meet has to offer the more inquisitive and adventurous soul.

How do you see apps aiding in the digital dating process?

Well, you carry your apps on your mobile phones and your tablets, which have now become your main devices with connecting to people and to the web. We have to have a presence on these platforms. Imagine you found someone on an online dating site and you didn’t exchange phone numbers and you arranged to meet somewhere and someone’s running late and you’re not able to connect to one another to do the logistics properly on the day or on the minute.We need mobile phones and tablets when we want to engage in proper, true digital dating.

The other point is everybody now has a smart phone, everybody in quotation marks (that is). People use tablets specifically during the evenings, at home, on their sofa or in bed. And they browse. They kill time. They want to get tremendous value from free apps. So when it comes to digital dating, when you’re at home you browse through files, or talk to people on your phone or on your tablet. That’s what you need to be doing instead of sitting down at your desk, opening up your browser and having a mediocre experience.

Flirt Planet (Truly Social)Can you talk about Flirt Juice in relation to Flirt Planet Meet?

In Flirt Planet Meet, you get 100 free Flirt Juice per day. Every 24 hours that balance is fully replenished and you use that flirt juice to send connection requests. So instead of, as it has been the case with traditional dating apps, when you just message someone freely (it) causes a lot of spam and unsolicited suitors filling up your inbox with sometimes rude messages.

Flirt Juice allows you to send friend requests in a Facebook style. But you can only send (a certain amount) per day. If you like to connect to a high quality user, we charge you more flirt juice. We’re creating a marketplace that makes it fair for the user.

What occurs when some of the Flirt Planet Meet participants use the app to irritate fellow users?

So if somebody tends to be quite forward or rude to people or hasn’t bothered filling out his profile properly, or has a profile of his cat as his profile photo, that would be a low quality profile user. We as the intermediary, we’re not going to charge as much for you to connect to that user. If somebody has been on there for months and engages with users nicely and all her peers have reviewed her in a Yelp style review system, which is one to five stars, and you review their interactions, then that user should be more costly to connect to that user. And I, as the intermediary, want to protect that user.  If somebody’s just out to connect with tons of users and sending rude messages, well you can’t really do that since each connection request costs you lots more flirt juice.

One big avenue that Flirt Planet Meet is going down is the full gamification of digital dating. I very much disagree with the subscription model as a whole, as a revenue model, no matter industry. There are still so many existing online dating sites that are stuck with the subscription model. We’re giving the users a fully free experience, but if you’re a power user, then you can choose from various preview features that you can buy.

To check out the promo video for Flirt Planet Meet, click on the video below:

Some of the features coming soon for the app will be the ability to hide your Flirt Planet Meet activities from your Facebook friends as well as the ability to know when your various messages have been sent to your fellow flirt mates. “What Flirt Planet Meet is about is proving that bringing video game design into a different industry works. LinkedIn did it, Facebook did it, Twitter did it, and no one in digital dating has attempted to do this properly yet.”

‘Under The Skin’ Trailer Features A Transformative Scarlett Johansson

UNDER THE SKIN (A24)Scarlett Johansson has starred in such visually arresting films as The Man Who Wasn’t There, The Black Dahliaand Girl With A Pearl Earring, but it’ll be tough to beat the images that spring forth from Under The Skin. Opening April 4 in New York and Los Angeles, the picture is described, at least as the boilerplate summary suggests, as a “masterpiece of existential science fiction that journeys to the heart of what it means to be human, extraterrestrial – or something in between.”

I personally prefer Indiewire’s more direct approach in describing Johansson’s character as a “man eating alien.”

Since it’s directed by Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast), a revered filmmaker who hasn’t released a film feature since 2004’s highly underrated Birth (one of Nicole Kidman’s finest hours on film), Under The Skin comes with high expectations. Check out the trailer below and tell us if it utterly blows you away or, pardon the pun, gets under your skin.

DVD Review: ‘Plus One’ Weaves Spellbinding Tale of Identity

Plus One (IFC Films)Plus One, directed by Last House on the Left filmmaker Dennis Iliadis, succeeds as a hybrid of different genres. If you’re looking for a teenage party romp, Plus One has enough party rowdiness and fresh faced leads (Rhys Wakefield, Logan Miller, Ashley Hinshaw, Natalie Hall) to keep you entertained.

But Plus One isn’t about a set of nubile youths waiting to have their night of hedonistic bliss, as an asteroid crashes on a neighborhood which leads to a supernatural occurrence. Although the narrative initially centers David’s (Wakefield) attempts to win back his girlfriend (Hinshaw) at the party, finding his true love takes a distant second to self-preservation. With the presence of the asteroid’s energy, the revelers discover an exact double of themselves has been created, leading to an all out battle for survival.

Plus One has plenty of wonderful touches, including a beautiful repartee between an eager to get laid Teddy (Logan Miller) and a beautiful woman (Natalie Hall) who might actually be an alien. Ilidias and cinematographer Mihai Malaimare Jr. craft a visually mesmerizing tale that’s punctuated with expert lighting and framing. The picture’s final moments, wherein one major character makes a fateful decision, is also a pleasant and unexpected storyline surprise. The use of twin actresses (Colleen Dengel and Suzanne Dengel) to play the role of the angsty college student Allison and her asteroid creating double was also an inspired creative choice by Ilidias.

For fans, looking for a bit more trimmings to their film, the DVD special features are top notch:

  • Audio commentary from director Dennis Ilidias and cinematographer Mihai Malaimare Jr.
  • An interview with Iliadis and the cast at SXSW.
  • Cast auditions which has the actors talking about their dreams. Miller’s dream of encountering a deformed woman hidden in the bed of a trunk is particularly creepy.
  • Visual effects behind the scenes segments are also featured, one sequences shows how actors had their faces digitally replaced. The other scene, titled “Sushi Girl Revenge,” shows the preparation it took for for a naked actress to karate kick a partygoer into a cabinet.
  • There’s also a storyboard to scene sequence which shows how the director and storyboard artist composed the terrifying pool fight sequence featured in the film’s final act.
  • My favorite special feature is the three minute outtake, titled “Teddy’s Pick-Up School.” This three minute segment features Logan Miller and Nathalie Hall improvising their way through a scene, and their chemistry is just as palpable than the two leads. It’s a scene that isn’t completely pivotal to the overall film’s structure, but it’s quite fantastic.

Plus One (IFC Midnight, R, 94 Minutes) is now out on DVD.

Skylar Astin On Acting Career: “I Don’t Want To Be A Flash In The Pan”

Well Go USA EntertainmentNow out on VOD & playing in select theaters, Cavemen centers on a struggling Los Angeles writer named Dean (Skylar Astin) who, even though he’s still quite the bachelor, wants to find his true love. Dean’s best buddy is Tess, an understanding and loyal confidante who is played by Camilla Belle. Since Astin and Belle have a natural chemistry, one pretty much assumes Dean will get the proverbial happy, Hollywood ending.

The movie, shot in Downtown Los Angeles, is a low budget affair but thankfully director Herschel Faber finds a solid visual tone for the picture. Shooting Angelenos cavorting and socializing at night is a tricky thing, and even though technology has profoundly improved since the Swingers day, shooting in near dark is still a challenge.

During the Cavemen interviews, Skylar Astin, who is best known for his roles in Pitch Perfect and 21 & Over, talked about his career goals as an actor. In a celebrity driven age, coupled with the overwhelming deluge known as social media, simply just doing the work really won’t cut it. It’s a Faustian bargain Astin understands, as he alludes to in the following quote:

“I want to work, I don’t want to be famous,” said the actor, who’s also the lead in the TV series Ground Floor. “It’s cool if that comes along with it. If people know who I am for my work, then hopefully I’ll be able to continue to work.”We live in real celebrity and status obsessed culture, and Twitter and Instagram haven’t helped that. I have accounts. I’m not saying I’m perfect. I feed into it only slightly. I don’t take anything too seriously.”

Acting is Astin’s main focus and priority. “I want to do this until I’m old,” he added. “I don’t want to be a flash in the pan and I don’t want to be the most famous person in the planet, because I don’t want people to get sick of me. I really want longevity, and I really want to do a multitude of different characters throughout my career.”

To hear Mr. Astin talk about the difference between social interaction in New York and Los Angeles, especially when it comes to finding a prospective date, listen to the clip below:

Rosario Dawson Finds Personal Connection With ‘Gimme Shelter’

ROSARIO DAWSON " JUNE" :  ROSARIO DAWSON  (Roadside Attractions)If you’re in search for a drama filled with heartrending (and inspired) work from its actors, it’ll be hard to beat Gimme Shelter. Vanessa Hudgens is Apple, a pregnant teen who struggles to find a home after leaving her crack addicted mother June (Rosario Dawson). Both actresses give standout performances in the feature, which also stars Brendan Fraser as Apple’s Wall Street exec dad.

“I felt a lot of compassion for her,” said Dawson. “There’s going to be a lot of people who will be walking by Junes on their way into this movie, and I really hope when they walk out they see Apple and have a different experience, and maybe see people who they didn’t see before.”

The film’s theme of finding one’s family, whether it stems from one’s DNA or a group of former strangers, is sure to pull on our heart strings, but thankfully director Ron Krauss avoids painting the story with heavy handed or maudlin brushstrokes.

For Dawson, accepting the role of June Bailey came from a very personal place. Click on the clip below to hear her talk about how she connected with Gimme Shelter.

The actress, who is set to travel to Haiti for 100K World Water Day, also. “I hope I get to push myself and grow and be a better actor,” added Dawson. “I have one of the best jobs in the world. As long as I stay lucid, and I can remember a few lines here and there, I can act until the day I die. And that’s an awesome thing.”

Gimme Shelter is now playing in select theaters.

‘Vampire Academy’ Star Lucy Fry’s Acting Dreams Starts With Physical Theater

VAMPIRE ACADEMY (Weinstein Films)Vampire Academy, based on the series of successful young adult novels penned by Richelle Mead, opens nationwide today. The film, which already has a built in fan base, may signal a significant career boost for lead actresses Zooey Deutch and Lucy Fry. During our interviews with Fry, she reflected on the origins of her acting ambitions.

“When I was a kid, it would change every day,” said Fry, who cites farming, architecture, and writing as several of her early loves. “And then I eventually realized that the only way I could be all of those things is if you’re an actor. From there I went to do speech and drama classes because I was shy and my parents (said) ‘You need to learn how to speak.’ (laughs)”

It was her physical theater training in Brisbane (at Zen Zen Zo) which turned things around for Fry and gave her the confidence to push forth.

Click on the media bar below and listen to the actress taking her experiences with theater and acting to an “extreme level” starting at the tender age of 14.

Where dreaming is believing…

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