It's something I'm shooting with a local film group. I'm looking forward to it. Nervous, but looking forward to it.
Comments on watching and making films.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
Been really busy with helping put together a film for a group I'm a part of, and that's why I haven't really been updating or, for that matter, watching films in the theater. Got a little time to do that kind of stuff the last two days, so that's why you're getting reviews of Hamlet 2 and Baghead, and I'll be back, probably tomorrow, with a review of Burn After Reading.
Also, I've been watching all of the Wong Kar Wai stuff I can get ahold of. I realized, after watching My Blueberry Nights, that I still hadn't seen a lot of his early work. So, there will probably be a lot of Wong Kar Wai DVD reviews (including Blueberry Nights).
I took a trip back home, to Nashville, a few weeks ago, and shot a lot of super 8 for my multi-frame project, and some super 8 for something else, and I shot some 16mm the other day for a new project tentatively called "I Am In The Clouds".
So, things are happening, I've just been a little busy and a little lazy about updating this blog. I'd like to say I'll try harder, but, you know how that goes...
Baghead is the second feature film by sibling director team Jay and Mark Duplass. Their first film, The Puffy Chair, was met with critical praise and did fairly well for an extremely low budget indie film (I think I read somewhere that the budget was around 70 grand, an extremely low amount for most professional films). Their follow up, another low budget indie, shows that the Duplass brothers are a serious force in the independent film making scene.
Baghead stars Ross Partridge, Steve Zissis, Greta Gerwig, and Elise Muller as a group of actors who, after seeing a mutual friends idiotic film receive praise at a film festival, decide to escape to a cabin in Big Bear, California, and write a script that they will all have parts in. As their time passes at the cabin, though, the sexual tension between the four causes some serious problems. The problems, though, take a back seat when a visitor, wearing a bag over his face (which just happens to be exactly like the villain in the script their writing), shows up and starts messing with the group.
I really liked the fact that Baghead was almost an anti-horror movie. You were never quite sure whether or not the threat was real, it always kept me guessing up to the reveal. The acting was great as well, and the Duplass brothers did a great job picking out their actors (Greta Gerwig is always a reliable stand by, which is, of course, why I tried to get her for The Definers). The only problem that I had with the film, and it was a pretty BIG problem for me, was the cinematography. The film was shot very sloppily, with a lot of quick zooms, out of focus shots, and poor lighting. It was a surprise to see the difference between Baghead and The Puffy Chair. Puffy... had a lot more of a professional look to it, as though they had hired someone who seemed to know what they were doing. Baghead looked like it was shot by a sixth grader who had just put down a couple of Monster's. If it wasn't for that, I think Baghead would have been a really great indie, but it ends up coming off as a great story, that's executed in a technically poor fashion.
Steve Coogan has really been picking his roles well in the last few years. Not that he wasn't before, but it seems like he's really broken out here in the States, just in the last few years. For Hamlet 2, Coogan has partnered up with writer/producer Pam Brady (who has written the South Park film, several of the episodes, as well as Team America, and the short lived Kid Notorious), to make a film that is hilarious and endearing, and not quite as shocking as I was expecting.
In Hamlet 2, Coogan plays Dana Marschz, a washed up, never was actor living in Tucson, and teaching an acting class that only has two students. He puts on a play every semester that is based on a Hollywood film (Erin Brockovich, for instance), but his life gets turned upside down when, after an accident at another school, a huge group of kids get reassigned to his school and his program, right as the school board is making the decision to cancel drama all together. In order to save his class, Marschz has to write an original play, something so amazing, that he is destined to convince the town's people that the program he teaches is worth saving.
I didn't think Hamlet 2 was as irreverent as they were making it out to be. I mean, when you use "From the writer of South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut" , as one of the tags during the trailer, you present a certain amount of expectation. I though the South Park film and Team America were considerably funnier and more irreverent. That being said, Hamlet 2 still has a ton of laugh out loud moments to it, especially in the Elisabeth Shue subplot. I loved the fact that she was playing herself, and I loved the fact that she was getting more laughs out of the play than anyone else was. The personal life aspect of it, though, fell a little flat for me, at times, though I did understand the necessity of it. Both Catherine Keener and David Arquette have the ability to be so much funnier than they were, and maybe that was the point, but I still would have like to see a little bit of the humor thrown their way. Coogan plays the moronic Dana Marschz incredibly well, and his comic timing is what really makes this film thrive. The only performance I was kind of let down by was Amy Poehler's, and I think its more of a writing issue than anything. Her part just wasn't very funny, and, honestly, I have come to expect a lot more out of her in the last couple of years. She's a really funny woman, and her part seemed sort of tame.