Summer Nights in La La Land

THE BEST OUTDOOR MOVIE SCREENING, EVER

As a huge film nerd, I'm a sucker for outdoor movie screenings. From San Francisco's Dolores Park to Brooklyn parking lots and Manhattan rooftops, I've done it all. Now as a recent Angeleno transplant, I had to seek out what the City of Angels has to offer in terms of al fresco film entertainment. And, dare I say, I have fallen in love. In love with Cinespia's Hollywood Cemetery Screenings, that is. 

Not much of a secret but established screening event, Cinepsia puts on a great show. From the magical landmark location (yes, it is a REAL cemetery!) to the pre-show DJ and BYOB policy, everything is set up to ensure an incredible experience. Every Saturday evening during the summer season, you can catch classic and cult movies with a massive crowd of cinephiles and picknick enthusiast. The shows sell out super fast, so be be prepared to buy a ticket for a screening several weeks in advance! 

 

OUTDOOR SCREENING TIPS

You're intrigued? You bought a ticket? Smart one! Here a few tips to set yourself up for outdoor screening success:

1. Become a Picknick Master

Half of the fun of the evening is gazing at all the elaborate spreads people schlepp to the lawn (some bring actual picknick tables and electric tea lights!) Set yourself up for success by bringing tons of snacks, a cooler and some liquid entertainment (if thats your thing.) 

2. Climate Control

Pillows. Blankets. Tarps. You're going to sit on the grass for up to 4 hours and it does get cold later in the evening (even when it was scorching hot in the daytime.) 

3. The Early Bird Catches The Worm

I definitely recommend showing up early. The gates open at 7:30pm but parking can be a bit of a nightmare so calculate some extra time. Or take an uber to avoid the traffic nightmare.

4. Skip the Chairs

This one is divisive but bare with me. Walking up we say tons of people carrying low camping chairs and cursed ourselves for not thinking ahead. But when we got to the lawn, we saw that the chair-people have to sit in separated sections to the side of the screen! I'd skip the mini-chair any day to get a better view. 

5. Bring Friends, the right amount

Obviously the screening lends itself to a sweet date night but the vibe here is definitely geared towards groups. We decided that 4-6 people is the magic number, as the loud music before the screening makes it difficult to hear people from further away. 

Are you ready? You can check out upcoming showtimes here: http://cinespia.org/

 

The Usual Suspects, June 6th, Hollywood Cemetery

THE FUTURE IS FEMALE

Last night, I walked into an arts supply store in Los Angeles. The place was packed and people were picking over the nearly empty poster board section. When I asked an employee what could be a suitable alternative to a wooden stick, he smiled at me apologetically: "People have literally cleared out our storage. Some bought wooden rulers but now we're out of them too." I settles for a piece of a picture frame (to use as a handle), four acrylic markers and a poster board.

What was going on there, you may ask. I, as well as half of the city, were making signs... for today's WOMEN'S MARCH in downtown Los Angeles. 

This post isn't about the incredible experience of marching with hundreds of thousands of women and men. It isn't even about policies or party affiliations. But it is about women. While scouring the web for slogans for my little sign, I discovered countless profound feminist quotes. Some made me laugh, some brought me to tears and others enraged me. So I thought, in the spirit of the Women's March and our fight for equal rights, I'll share some of those findings with you, dear reader. 

Master of the Obvious: 

“Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings.”  - Cheris Kramarae

Helpful Tips: 

“No woman gets an orgasm from shining the kitchen floor. " - Betty Friedan

In Spirit of the Women's March (and mean girls in high school) : 

“There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women."      - Madeleine K. Albright

Poetic War Cry:

"You think I’ll be the dark sky so you can be the star? I’ll swallow you whole." - Warsan Shire  

A Shift of Perspective: 

"The question, isn't who's going to let me; it's who's going to stop me." - Ayn Rand

BEST OF 2016: TONI ERDMANN

2016 is wrapped and Award-season is in full swing. So I thought I’d share my own pick for "Best Movie of the Year". I know, the world is waiting with baited breath. I can't help it though, because I saw a film that made me want to spread the gospel: the gospel of the German movie "Toni Erdmann" that is. 

The nearly 3-hour-long dramedy about a father-daughter relationship is a glorious emotional marathon. Writer/Director Adi Maran and her brilliant actors Peter Simonischek and Sandra Hüller, take us on an absurd but oh so human rollercoaster ride. The relationship between the prankster father and his uptight, workaholic daughter is tragically funny and painfully recognizable. 

Of course I’m not the only one who has taken notice: Adi Maran’s emotional tour-de-farce premiered in Cannes earlier this year, just won the European Film Prize and is short-listed for an Academy Award (Best Foreign Film). 

I could go on and on about the film’s sensitive pacing, Simonischek nuanced and hilarious performance, Hüller's piercing honesty and Maran’s grand accomplishment. But all I’m going to say is: run, don’t walk to see Toni Erdmann; a movie that reminds us of why we go to theatre in the first place- to celebrate the absurdity of life. You’re welcome. 

How to survive traffic: the "PODCAST-IC" edition

Los Angeles: the city of dreams, surf-boards, juice bars and stunning sunsets. But also, less romantically so, traffic. So what to do in your car (aka mobile home if you're an actor) when you're stuck between destinations? Podcasts. Phone Calls. Podcasts. Car dancing. Podcasts. 

Podcasts aren't just for car rides though. What about a detective novel for cleaning, an inspiring interview to stir your creative juices, or a comedy special for a brutal hangover (to rest your eyes)? Cure all. 

So without further ado:

JANA's TOP FIVE PODCASTS OF 2016

1. Serial

Serial is the podcast version of crack, or more PG, french fries. I was hooked right from the start and couldn't stop until I devoured them all. Journalist Sarah Koenig (This American Life alumni) re-investigates true (crime) cases and the lives of their obvious and less-obvious victims. Truly fascinating and engulfing. serialpodcast.org

2. Dan Carlin's Hardcore History

Shout-out to all my history nerds: I found the holy grail. Dan Carlin's podcast is probably the most detailed, most engaging re-telling and re-interpreting of historical events, well EVER! His WW1 series "Blueprint for Armageddon" saved me on my recent cross-country road trip and equipped me with ammunition for endless "smart" talk. dancarlin.com

3. WTF with Marc Maron

Comedian Marc Maron is already hilarious by himself but he doesn’t stop there. Every episode he chats and jokes with fellow comics, entertainers or some unknown guests like PRESIDENT BARRACK OBAMA (yes, I had to google him too.) One of my favorites: Episode 716 with Chelsea Handler. wtfpod.com

4. Fresh Air 

Oh Terry, how do I love thee. Master interviewer extraordinaire, NPR’s Terry Gross has spoken to everyone. Yes, there isn’t enough ink in my computer to even attempt a list. Insightful, hard-hitting, inspiring; she gets her subjects to reveal their humanity and creates once in a lifetime conversations. For a true tearjerker check out her emotional last interview with Maurice Sendak, animated by Christoph Niemann. npr.org/programs/fresh-air

5. Wait Wait,…Don’t Tell Me!

Another NPR program (do we see a trend?), Peter Sagal’s weekly quiz show is my favorite start into the weekend. Fellow journalists and comedians answer questions pertaining to the week’s news. A fun, entertaining and heartwarming way to test your own knowledge, digest the dark times we live in and find hope in humor. npr.org/programs/wait-wait-dont-tell-me

 

End of Summer Inspiration: 3 Ways To Get Creative

In this unpredictable industry, during the last breaths of summer, in the face of endless to do lists we (or should I say I?) are often in need of a creative 'pick-me-up' so to speak. Here a few inspiring but also action-inducing resources, tested by yours truly.

"The Artist's Way" - Julia Cameron

Let me set a quick scene: Thursday night, having a glass of wine with a friend, talking about life. My friend: "I just don't know how I got here (job/relationship/creative endeavor... fill in the blank), I really wish I could change (job/relationship/creative endeavor) but it's just too (hard/late/silly/wrong) to do." Me: "What's your address?" Friend: "What?" Me: "I'm sending you a little book you have to read..." 

True story that happens several times a year (Amazon must think I suffer from dementia.) 

So what 's this book all about, you might ask? I make it quick: Julia Cameron is the ball-busting mother of every (blocked) artist. I can't fully put in words how her book has influenced me but let's say it felt like an awaking. It gave me the tools to trust and take care of my inner artist (morning pages, anyone?) Sounds a little woo-woo to you? Well it is; in the most incredible, life-changing way!

"Letters to a Young Poet" - Rainer Marie Rilke

This one is an oldie but goodie;  the book is a collection of letters that Rilke (one of my favorite poets) wrote to a young soldier who asked him what it takes to become a writer. I leave you with a little taste from this mind-boggling treasure: 

“In the deepest hour of the night, confess to yourself that you would die if you were forbidden to write. And look deep into your heart where it spreads its roots, the answer, and ask yourself, must I write?” -Rilke
 
“Keep growing quietly and seriously throughout your whole development; you cannot disturb it more rudely than by looking outward and expecting from outside replies to questions that only your inmost feeling in your most hushed hour can perhaps answer.” -Rilke

 

TED TALK: How to Live a Creative Life - Tracey Letts

I could've just told you to "daydream" and "let your imagination reign free" but why not let Tony-award winning writer and actor Tracey Letts tell us with a voice of authority? What I love about his talk and ultimately his advice, is how it counters so many "creating only happens when you work yourself into the ground" approaches. He emphasizes "not doing anything" as one of the most productive ways to start creating! Say what? Let him explain in his own words: