Comments on watching and making films.

Monday, August 31, 2009

On ALMOST meeting one of your biggest hero's

So, I ALMOST met Steven Soderbergh. I was standing outside of the Los Feliz 3 today, waiting for my friend Jeremy, because we were going to see Taking Woodstock, and I realized that I hadn't put away my GPS in my car. So, I'm walking up Vermont, towards my car, and I recognize one of two guys walking towards me. I'm not sure, but I think it's... and then he speaks, and the voice is unmistakable - It's Steven Soderbergh, and I am totally petrified. This is the guy who has consistently given me inspiration throughout every aspect of my career, and has regularly blown my mind with his work.

And I just stood there. Like a douche. I just stood there, and watched him walk by. And it wasn't until he was about twenty feet down the street, that I realized he was gone. I had missed my chance (unless I wanted to look like a freak fan boy, and maybe I should have). Oh well... Maybe one day lightning will strike twice?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Jakob Lodwick's "Skip"

Skip from on Vimeo.

I feel like this is a really cool testament to experimentation with light, motion, and speed.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Francis Ford Coppola is one of those people who I both look forward to their new film, and dread their new film... It had been a long time since Coppola's last film, until Youth Without Youth, which came out two years ago. Youth Without Youth was interesting, but... It was the kind of movie that I've seen, and I don't think I'd ever watch it again. His newest, Tetro, is similiar, in that its interesting, but its one of those movies that you almost crave to see it again.

The film centers around newcomer Alden Ehrenreich, who plays Bennie. Bennie shows up on leave in Buenos Aries, searching for his brother Tetro, played by Vincent Gallo. Tetro disappeared some years ago, and promised Bennie that he would be back, but never came. Bennie finds out Tetro has written parts and pieces of a novel, and Bennie decides to steal the pieces and make them into a play, for which he wins top honors. Tetro is hiding a deep, dark secret, though, one which could be a huge threat to Bennie.

Coppola's Tetro is his first original screenplay since The Conversation, and thirty years is a long time. Tetro sometimes feels long winded, and way to thought out, but Coppola manages to always keep the film interesting. Gallo does a great job as the title character, as well as Meribel Verdu, as Tetro's wife, Miranda. Unlike Mann's Public Enemies, Coppola uses HD to a fair amount of success in the film, shooting most of it in black and white, with flashback moments in color. The whole film feels like a (very expensive) experiment in visual style and storytelling, but one that, I can honestly say, I'm glad exists. Tetro is worth a watch, even if its just to say you've seen it.

Public Enemies

Michael Mann... Oh, Michael Mann... What happened? Were you high? Did someone smack you over the head, causing brain damage in the area that made you a good director in the first place? Or has getting older just made you lose your marbles?

Public Enemies was supposed to be a movie about John Dillinger, one of the most prolific bank robbers in American history, and an icon in its history. He was a celebrity in his time. Instead, what we got was an incoherent mess that was kind of about Dillinger, but was also about half a dozen other people. The film had no real narrative structure to speak of, and, instead, seemed like a simple retelling of (mostly) uninteresting events. Where were the bank robberies? Where were the fast cars? the women? All the stuff that Depp speaks so highly of in character as Dillinger? Where was the character development? I didn't care about anybody in this film, and especially didn't care when they got killed. Okay, Pretty Boy Floyd gets shot. So what? Baby Face Nelson kills some people, then gets shot. So? I didn't even care about Dillinger. I didn't even care about his girlfriend.

And then there's the technical aspects of it... Ugh... The HD? Looked like crap. HD already looks kind of half ass when blown up to 35mm, but this looked REALLY bad. Miami Vice looked better, and Miami Vice didn't look that good...

Oh Michael Mann... What happened?

Funny People

Everybody's looking for the end of Judd Apatow. Ever since The 40 Year Old Virgin came out (and people rediscovered the genius of Freaks and Geeks), Apatow has been somewhat of a golden boy in Hollywood. The only problem is the law of diminishing returns in Tinseltown, meaning, the more stuff you slap your name on, the higher the possibility is that the stuff your slapping your name is going to be crap. In a way, that's one of the things that Funny People is about, but its also an attempt, by Apatow, to marry his brand of humor with more mature storytelling.

Adam Sandler plays George Simmons, a famous comedic actor who is dying from an unnamed "blood disease". He's taken a lot of things for granted in his life, and he decides that in his final days, he wants to take as much advantage of life as he can. When he makes a surprise visit to a comedy club to do some stand up, he meets Ira Wright, played by Seth Rogen, a struggling comedian who gets some laughs for making fun of George's rusty attempts at stand up. George hires Ira to write jokes for him, and the two bond with each other as Ira helps George prepare for his last days. Everything begins to fall apart, though, when George finds out that the experimental drug treatment he has been taking is actually working.

Sandler is a decent actor, pretty much always (its his choice of roles that tends to keep him down), and I really liked Rogen in this film because it felt like he was finally not playing the same old douche bag that he does in every Apatow movie that he's been in (which is most of them). The direction is pretty good, but if I had one complaint about this movie, its just that the story is just not up to par. The first half of the film is pretty good, but then, when George learns he's going to live, every part of the film becomes this uber-predictable jumble of who cares? I feel that if Apatow would have taken a bigger chance and either killed of George, or took him to a place that wasn't so obvious, maybe he would have had his perfect "mature" movie, but, unfortunately, he didn't. Funny People's biggest fault, for me, at least, is the fact that it is funny but it is also terribly predictable.