David Wendelman in Reel Time!

David Wendelman in Reel Time!

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86th Academy Awards – David Wendelman’s Oscar Picks

2013 was a golden year for cinematic storytelling.  From writing, to picture and sound, to directing, to editing, these Oscar nominated films raised the bar and set new standards for the art of filmmaking:

  • “American Hustle”
  • “Gravity”
  • “Captain Phillips”
  • “12 Years A Slave”
  • “Nebraska”

2013 also brought us memorable, Oscar worthy performances from:

  • Cate Blanchett (“Blue Jasmine”)
  • Sally Hawkins (“Blue Jasmine”)
  • Amy Adams (“American Hustle”)
  • Jennifer Lawrence (“American Hustle”)
  • Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years A Slave”)
  • Sandra Bullock (“Gravity”)
  • Matthew McConaughey (“Dallas Buyers Club”)
  • Jared Leto (“Dallas Buyers Club”)
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years A Slave”)
  • Christian Bale (“American Hustle”)
  • Bradley Cooper (“American Hustle”)
  • Tom Hanks (“Captain Phillips”)
  • Bruce Dern (“Nebraska”)

But the film that encompassed everything that I love about cinema was “La Grande Bellezza”, directed by Paolo Sorrentino, music composed by Zbigniew Preisner and Lele Marchitelli.

Movie Poster for "La Grande Bellezza"

Toni Servillo gives a hypnotic performance as aging journalist Jep Gambardella who while inviting us into his eccentric, rarefied life among the Roman elite, becomes the perfect tour guide of an ancient city whose tragic beauty has been forever frozen in time.


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“Broken” Returns to New York City!

I’m in New York City where my short boxing film “Broken” has been invited to showcase at the Shadow Box Film Festival 2013 at the School of Visual Arts Theatre, December 6 & 7.

“Broken” screens both days of the film festival as part of the Shorts Program —

  • Friday, December 6 (Silas Theatre) at 2 pm.
  • Saturday, December 7 (Beatrice Theatre) at 4 pm.

This is not the first time my short film “Broken” has been invited to a New York film festival.  It had its world premiere at the Urbanworld VIBE Film Festival.  Then “Broken” went on to screen at three more New York film festivals, notably the NY International Latino Film Festival and the Harlem International Film Festival.

“Broken”, starring former WBO Heavyweight Champion and actor Michael Bentt, Jose Yenque, Ruben Bansie-Snellman and Gene Borkan, made a big splash in 2006 when it was officially selected and screened at over a dozen film festivals in the U.S. and internationally, including Italy, Mexico and Peru.  And in 2007, “Broken” continued its film festival tour in New Mexico, San Diego and Havana, Cuba.

I wrote, produced and directed “Broken” (15:30, USA, 35 mm) and shot it entirely in East Los Angeles, casting all local actors.  Here were some of my fellow collaborators:  Michael Bentt (Creative Producer/Fight Coordinator), Francisco Bulgarelli (Director of Photography), Alex Ward (Editor), Jeffery Alan Jones & Daniel Pagan (Sound Designers), composer Bobby Tahouri, and Laura Paddock (Production Designer).

To learn more about “Broken” go to:  http://davidwendelman.com/broken

To learn more about the Shadow Box Film festival go to:  http://boxingfilmfest.com


Nebraska – Comedy from the Heartland

Born in Omaha, Nebraska, filmmaker Alexander Payne has a knack for finding poetry and wit in the everyday mundane lives of ordinary Americans.  So, he’s the perfect director for Bob Nelson’s story from the Heartland titled “Nebraska”, filmed entirely in black and white.

Screen legend Bruce Dern plays Woody, a man in his senior years who like so many ordinary Americans today, finds himself at the end of a long road of missed opportunities, dashed dreams and futile choices.

Bruce Dern (Woody) and Will Forte (Dave) in Alexander Payne's "Nebraska".

Bruce Dern (Woody) and Will Forte (Dave) in Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska”.

A road trip, “Nebraska” follows Woody and his son Dave (played by Will Forte) as they drive across the open bluffs and pastures of the Midwest to collect money from a mail-sweepstakes prize that really doesn’t exist.  A journey that challenges a father and son’s dysfunctional relationship and forces each of them to examine their own personal struggles to “be somebody” in life.

I attended the 2013 AFI FEST Gala screening of “Nebraska”.  And having grown up in the Midwest myself, it’s refreshing to see a film that so accurately portrays its people and culture, and with such grace and humor.

Bruce and Will are supported by an equally talented cast of actors, which include Bob Odenkirk, Stacy Keach and June Squibb.

Out of the Furnace – Has True Grit

Saturday night, I attended the 2013 AFI FEST’s Gala Premiere of director and screenwriter Scott Cooper’s “Out of the Furnace”.


“Out of the Furnace” Director Scott Cooper with cast members Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Forest Whitaker, Zoe Saldana and Tom Bower at the 2013 AFI FEST Gala Premiere.

Cooper’s blue-collar film paints a stark reality that is relevant to our modern times.  This gritty, powerful story set in a languishing mill town in Pennsylvania follows the Baze brothers — steel worker Russell (Christian Bale) and Rodney (Casey Affleck) an Iraq War veteran — who struggle to survive a world that seems pitted against them.  Woody Harrelson plays the kingpin of a crime ring whose merciless act of violence sends Christian Bale’s Russell Baze on a suicidal mission of personal redemption and justice.

The cast includes strong performances by Forest Whitaker, Zoe Saldana, Willem Dafoe and Sam Shepard.  Among the film’s notable producers are Leonardo DiCaprio and Ridley Scott.

August: Osage County – A Tour de Force

For playwright Tracy Letts, “August: Osage County” has been a labor of love.  Now Letts has adapted his Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning play into a screenplay, and with Director John Wells at the helm, Letts’ beloved masterpiece about the dysfunctional Weston family has been made into an equally funny and deeply moving film.

I just attended the AFI FEST’s Gala screening of “August: Osage County” at the TCL Chinese Theater in downtown Hollywood, where Director John Wells introduced the film’s Academy Award winning Producers George Clooney and Grant Heslov, and some of the cast.

"August: Osage County" Director John Wells with cast members Juliette Lewis, Dermot Mulroney and Julianne Nicholson.

“August: Osage County” Director John Wells with cast members Juliette Lewis, Dermot Mulroney and Julianne Nicholson and Producers George Clooney and Grant Heslov.

The ensemble cast of the film “August: Osage County”, which includes Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper and Benedict Cumberbatch, is a tour de force.  As I experienced the film, I couldn’t get over how perfectly and meticulously the actors had been matched with their characters.  You couldn’t hope for a better adaptation of an already perfect play.