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Happy Birthday Gromit

July 24th, 2019

You were a fine example of unconditional love.

R.I.P. little buddy ~ April 20, 2019

I will always miss you, particularly on All Hallow’s Eve when I would hide you from a sometimes cruel world. <3

 

 

Be kind to each other,

JF

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2019 Film Insider Series

May 21st, 2019

I love attending this monthly series at Arclight Cinemas. Hosted by San Diego Film Foundation, exclusive screenings of not yet released films can be previewed.

This month featured a drama written by playwright, JC Lee and co-written by Julius Onah (director).

The prescreening cocktail buzz is already rife with questions like, “Where is Eritrea?” and “I thought Tim Roth was American”. Over by the delicious fare from Eureka! The Melting Pot, Craft Pizza Co., and sliders from Liberty Call Distilling Co. was still more buzz: “I loved Octavia Spencer in “The Help and of course, the response, “Me too!” The cinephiles are talking about a Sundance Film Festival (SFF) indie: “Luce” (pronounced like loose) which is about an adopted former child soldier from Eritrea by a highly educated Caucasian couple and the challenges their son encounters in high school when his star student status is threatened.

“Luce” is starring Oscar nominee and a Boston Society of Film Critics Award nominee, Naomi Watts. Watts is also a Boston Online Film Critics Association winner for “Birdman” in 2014. With two homes on both LA and NYC, two passports (British and Australian), two children–it’s not hard to imagine Watts cast as a global thinker, who lovingly adopts a former child soldier with her husband.

Her screen husband is British subject and character chameleon, Tim Roth. They shared cinematic parental roles once before in the terrifying “Funny Games”. At the heart of “Luce”, former child soldier is played by New Orleans born, Kelvin Harrison. Harrison is no stranger to indie films as his last pic “Monster” won Grand Jury Prize in 2018.

On the FIS red carpet is wunderkind playwright, JC Lee. At 27, a Juilliard graduate with already a string of successful runs in equity theatres on both coasts, it’s easy to believe when he quotes Shakespeare as his muse, “He’s the ultimate bad-ass.”

San Diego’s own well respected, Old Globe, commissioned Lee’s world premiere, “What You Are” scheduled to begin on May 30, 2019. Jersey Shore-raised Lee and his Shakespearean devotion lends an exotic flavor to many meaningful subjects, which tonight will be fleshed out by an international cast and crew on the silver screen.

“Luce” is Lee’s first screenplay, which he co-wrote with Nigerian born, director, Julius Onah. Onah never saw “Luce” as a play but was encouraged to read Lee’s screenplay in 2014 by Imagine Entertainment and Brian Grazer. The rest as they say—is history. Both literally and figuratively.

Onah’s background is simpatico to Lee’s—Onah received his Bachelor’s in Theatre from Wesleyan University in Connecticut and his Masters in Fine Arts from Tisch, NYC where Onah continues to reside. Onah’s input for developing Harrison’s character was to suggest reading Frantz Fanon, a postcolonial thinker and psychiatrist. As a former high school debater, Onah put Harrison on the podium to help with Harrison’s dialect and posture. Harrison wrote the paper himself which he holds in the movie—Oscar winner, Octavia Spencer who plays his high school teacher, also read and graded it in actuality. Gives real meaning to method acting doesn’t it?

Afterward, SDIFF CEO and Executive Artistic Director, the gracious Madame Tonya Mantooth facilitated the Q&A with Lee who exuded a youthful candor about his inspiration for “Luce”.

“I relate to Luce in the sense I grew up as a mixed-race kid in New York,” Lee said. “I was in a weird gifted program and so I always felt that I was performing various roles for different people. I believe those characters knew what that pressure felt like.” In describing how his play became a film, Lee explains, “Julius harassed me for two years and basically I told him that films are never as good as the plays but in this case, I actually feel the film is better as a story.”

 By the way, for those wondering: Eritrea is in North East Africa which borders Sudan, Ethiopia, The Red Sea and the tip of Djibouti. All of these areas are politically hostile climates where only a handful of brave war correspondents dare to wander. No need for spoiler alerts—make sure this film makes it on the “family movie night” watch list for a lively debate. Take note: mature high school freshman and up only.

As always, the evening ended with a lively post champagne reception, more red carpet photo opps, Cookies by Cravory, and a fond good-night to all. See you next month! www.sdfilmfest.com

Tim Roth, Kelvin Harrison Jr and Naomi Watts appear Luce by Julius Onah, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Larkin Seiple
All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’ Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

 

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Nature inspired and nature inspires—

April 9th, 2019

Who hasn’t been visited this year by a Monarch? Or the migration of a Painted Lady? Or seen the glorious abundance of posies everywhere in the aftermath of the winter rains?

My second favorite flower is the California state flower: golden poppies.

Golden Poppy (Eschscholtzia californica) is also sometimes known as the Flame Flower, la amapola, and Copa de Oro (cup of gold). The Golden Poppy, belonging to the Papaveraceae family, grows wild throughout California, and became the state flower in 1903.

A short season but oh so colorful and inspiring. Traffic on I-15 has been like flowergeddon—everyone wants photos and a “looksee” of the fields of gold. I remember growing up and having to take a car ride to Lancaster where fields and fields of golden poppies undulated gently on mounds. The Cowardly Lion never had a chance in the Wizard of Oz I always thought.

I have also noticed everyone is inspired by color: a friend painted her patio furniture Caribbean colors, another started a new way of painting on repurposed wood, my daughter dresses in an explosion of colors and I? I am inspired to line my eyes with a smoky deep purple.

How about you?

Happy Spring again,

😉 j

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Hello 2019!

February 19th, 2019

Once again, the year is whooshing by…record polar freezes worldwide (is hell freezing over?!), the wall continues to be built, the Oscars are sans a host/ess, tax season is upon us with less breaks, gas prices are holding steady at $3.25, pretty boy governor Newsom is–well, we will see what we will see.

Personally, I haven’t erased my folks yet from my I-Phone “favorites”. It’s hard to move on and make it official and permanent. I keep hoping it’s a bad dream. I look at old photos remembering each moment so clearly. Sigh. Death is hard. Living is harder.

“Is that all there is my friend? Then let’s keep dancing, let’s break out the booze and have a ball.” Jerry Lieber/Mike Stoller

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just another crappy sunset in Paradise.

Be kind, use your blinkers please. The people following you are not psychic!!!

j

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Rest in peace…

September 24th, 2018

ROBERT JOSEPH (DAD)

March 5, 1936 ~ July 24, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LORNA BUENAFLOR (MOM)

July 12, 1941 ~ September 14, 2018

 

We will miss you deeply at all the family gatherings, Hand & Foot card games, the Sunday phone-in, holidays, and the milestones that occur in life…

Bless you both and I love you up to God,

<3 j

Just sayin’…

March 6th, 2018


I was correct almost 60%! I second guessed myself on Best Picture. I LOVED Shape of Water.

j

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And the Oscar goes to…

March 1st, 2018

My humble opinion for the 90th Academy Awards 😉

Congrats to all! j

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The Wind Garden

February 8th, 2018

My new favorite peaceful place is in the middle of traffic yet, I pay no mind because the Wind Garden by naturalist composer and Pulitzer Prize winner, John Luther Adams is quietly musical.

Across the street from the entrance to Scripps Birch Aquarium on the UCSD campus in La Jolla, the Stuart Collection has installed another innovative and captivating artistic creation.

There are no pre-recorded elements, data stream, or sounding elements taken from other locations. All the sounds that occur are only wind driven and the light conditions on site, real time. I love it because it sounds a little like Tibetan bowls or chimes. Look closely at the square boxes high above in the tree branches…these are the wind/sound makers.

This is a lovely respite from so much concrete. Parking is near by and it only takes a stroll.

Peace, j

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TABLE food + drink

February 8th, 2018

Cesar’s in Rancho Santa Fe unveiled their new menu and name change in January 2018. Some menu faves but no longer touting Spanish tapas or dishes. All American eatery now.

Well attended (about 150) by invite only patrons, press (Bob Stefanko, editor Ranch & Coast), and restaurant contemporaries (Claire from Claire’s on Cedros) with hosted pass tray and signature cocktails, Spanish and California wine.A pork slider topped off with carrot and cabbage slaw (and a hint of wasabi)

Singer and songwriter, Lucas Nelson (Willie Nelson’s son), Hiroko, Yutaka Honzawa (Exec. VP, CFO, Sony)

Bob Stefanko with Rancho Santa Fe loyal patrons

Stop by and enjoy Taste mixologist’s concoctions at the bar while watching old classics on the screen as you hum along to old classic tunes. Maybe, even sit down for a delicious partaking of their dishes!

Richard & Terumi, Uber cool proprietors of TABLE, food + drink

Be kind to each other, j

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San Diego Int’l Film Festival is bigger and better

December 30th, 2017

San Diego International Film Festival Opening Night film was the very well-received “Marshall” about the first black Supreme Court Justice screened at the beautifully restored Balboa Theatre.


The Opening Night party was at the elegant rooftop Westgate Hotel. Hollywood Casino hosted the party which was replete with casino tables and fabulous showgirls.

One of only six Moet Chandon champagne vending machines in the U.S. is at the super cool Pendry Hotel (base hub and partner with the SDiFF). The photo of the purple jewelry bag below is a sipping flute which fits into the top of a split. A special coin is purchased from a server and deposited into the machine ($16)! Flute tended to drip so design needs to be perfected unless you like wearing the aroma of bubbly. Anyway, I prefer sipping from a glass flute. Much more civilized. Seemed gauche slugging back from the bottle.

Photo below:  Variety Night of the Stars Tribute honored Sir Patrick Stewart with the Gregory Peck Award in the Grand Ballroom @ The Pendry Hotel.

I really missed our usual Tribute interviewer and host, Jeffrey Lyons, NBC Film Critic of more than 15,000 films! — he always has a personal movie star anecdote to share with the honoree and audience that is often so funny and captivating. I wished he interviewed Sir Patrick (My two cents.)

Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick) was honored with the Auteur Award and stole the night with his hilarious perpetual off-the-cuff quipping of the word, “auteur”in his acceptance speech.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SDiFF Industry Panels in the absolutely hip Oxford Social Club in the Pendry Hotel

Tonya Mantooth (Exec. Director of SDiFF) serving as Panels Moderator is on the far left.

Actor and Hereditary Chief of Sac & Fox Nations,  Saginaw Grant with yours truly.

Buy your SDiFF festival passes today and support the independent filmmakers of the world <www.sdfilmfest.com>.

Happy Christmas and bless those before us, after us and those with us now.

xo, j

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