Comments on watching and making films.
Friday, December 31, 2010
Monday, December 27, 2010
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
The American follows a spy/assassin, Jack (played by Clooney) who is on the run from the mysterious "Swede's". He has a talent for pretty much everything, but his main game seems to be guns. A man who is, assumedly, his boss, tucks him away in a small Italian town to hide him from the Swede's, but gives him the task of building a very particular snipers rifle for a fellow assassin. While spending time in this nowhere village, Jack comes into contact with some of its inhabitants, and begins to break his rule of not getting close to anyone.
Corbijn directs a solid piece of work, extremely quiet and meditational. This is NOT Jason Bourne. If Terrence Malick ever made a spy film, The American would be it. Corbijn follows the emotions which pour over Jack's face during various points of interest in the film, and much of the action (or inaction, as it may be) is fairly subtle, as opposed to being given the modern treatment (quick cuts, lots of close ups, etc.). Clooney brings to life a carefully calculated man who is slowly unravelling in his old age.
While the film is adequate, one would most likely go into it expecting something more dynamic, and that, I think, is its shortcoming. It defies expectation, but not in a particularly good way. The marketing just didn't hit the mark. I enjoyed it, as much as I could, I suppose, but its hard when you go in expecting apple's and you get pecan's. It's not Corbijn's fault, by any means, it the studio's for mis-marketing, so I can't really blame him, or Clooney, who, like I said, did a fantastic job with the character he has to play. Overall, I would suggest the film, with the caveat of making sure people understand what it is BEFORE they watch it.
It has been an interesting year for me, as far as film goes. I have seen a lot of great films, shot my first feature (PHX), and have been working on several ideas. I'm currently preparing one short, Little Fox, which I am very much looking forward too, when the time comes to shoot it (definitely next year). I am hoping to both shoot and edit on 16mm. Though I shot Indefinable Orbits on 16mm, I am considering getting it transferred to HD and editing it, with a possible edit and finish on film later.
More info to come at the end of the year when I write my wrap up.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Let Me In is the story of a young boy, Owen, who is tortured in school and comes home to a loving mother who is, often times, rendered impotent as a parental figure due to the toll her divorce is taking on her. One evening, while playing in the courtyard of the apartment complex where they live, Owen spies an older man with a young girl moving into the apartment next to his. Eventually, they meet up in the very same courtyard. Her name is Abby. She's about his age, stand offish, and doesn't seem to be bothered that her feet are bear in the sub-freezing winter temperatures of Los Alamos, New Mexico. As time goes on, Owen and Abby begin to become friends, but a string of murders in the area are about to change both of their lives.
Let Me In is an admirable re-make. It gets some of the tone right, but it still doesn't reflect the quiet desperation that is evident in the Swedish town that the original is set in, nor does Kodi Smit-McPhee quite reach the malevolence of Kare Hedebrant in the same role. In a "no surprise there" move, Let Me In never covers the question of gender that the source material does, but if it did, Lena Leandersson definitely makes a better young child of slightly questionable gender than Chloe Moretz does. That being said, Smit-McPhee, Moretz, and Richard Jenkins as Abby's care taker, all deliver great performances in the film. The stylization tactics that Reeves uses (streak filters, very shallow depth of field, CG or overcranking for Abby's attacks and retreats, Abby's makeup effects), come off as being overkill, as the original brought the same world to life without all of those extras.
Another big problem I had was with renaming the film. Changing it to Let Me In takes all of the steam and meaning out of its original title. Let Me In could be the name of any horror or drama. Let The Right One In is so perfect because of its ties to Vampire lore. A vampire can not enter the domain of a human being without that human saying they may come in. If they do, bad things will happen to the vampire (read: death). So, "Let The Right One In" is not only important on the level of a human being having power over whether or not he/she will allow the vampire to enter the home, but it has another meaning as well with these two little children - Let the right one in, guard yourself around those who may try to do harm to you.
I'm not trying to bash Reeves. He did a great job, and, like I said, Let Me In is a very admirable remake of Let The Right One In, but ultimately, this is another case of Hollywood remaking a foreign film that doesn't need to be remade. If you haven't seen the original, I would highly recommend it. I would, actually, recommend seeing both, but if you only have time for one, definitely make it the Swedish version.
Monday, October 4, 2010
Jesse Eisenberg, in another great role, plays Zuckerberg a nerdish malcontent who, because of a bad break up, invents a quick game called face smash, which pits the girls of Harvard against each other in a contest of who is the hottest. While this gets him in deeply hot water, it also births the idea for a new type of social networking site aimed specifically at colleges, and, originally, meant to be localized only for the school you were in. It begins a massive growth, though, and becomes a monster, and makes monsters of all involved, especially Zuckerberg.
Fincher is in perfect Fincher form, using every tool at his disposal to tell the best story possible, and, truth be told, I can not think of a single thing that didn't jive with me. Jesse Eisenberg brings a certain naivety to Zuckerberg, on one hand, and a certain amount of evil genius on the other. Andrew Garfield plays the amazingly excited, but soon ousted co-founder Eduardo Saverin who ends up fighting against Napster founder/late in the game Facebook contributor Sean Parker (played by Justin Timberlake), resulting in him being left out in the cold, and suing Zuckerberg for a multitude of things. The film, at its core, is about how these apparatus's (specifically Facebook) come into existence, and how a simple idea can make people millions, and also drive a chasm between them that is so incredibly deep and wide, it will never be able to be closed. It made me feel bad, somewhat, for Zuckerberg's character, because he's obviously a douchebag, but he's a douchebag because he can't connect to people in a meaningful way. Odd for a guy who designed a site that is all about connection.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Casey Affleck Nearly Broke After 'I'm Still Here' Disaster
Article By Will Leitch
The fiasco that is "I'm Still Here," the mock-documentary aboutJoaquin Phoenix's apparently fake meltdown over the last two years, has been all-encompassing. The film was a box-office flop: It has earned only $259,000 to date after months of pre-release hype. It's been eviscerated by critics and has been generally received as a smug movie-star kiss-off to a gossip-obsessed public.
Phoenix has taken his fair share of hits -- and he'll surely take more when he returns to David Letterman's show tonight -- but the film's true casualty might be its director, fellow actor Casey Affleck.
Affleck, also Phoenix's brother-in-law, tells The Daily Telegraphthat the two-year odyssey of making the film nearly bankrupted him and left his own career in ruins.
"Having something at stake is a great motivator and once this thing became public for me that was very helpful because there was no question: I had to see it through, no matter how long it took. I went broke. I hadn't worked for more than a year, and I was pouring money into the movie. I had to stop for a month to do The Killer Inside Me. If I hadn't, I wouldn't have been able to finish the film - I was out of money. There was a lot at stake financially and, if we had left [the hoax] there, it would have been very damaging to Joaquin's career."
If Phoenix can survive Letterman's interrogation tonight, Hollywood seems eager to welcome him back. He has already been attached to several upcoming plum roles, including a potential Oscar-bait turn as J. Edgar Hoover's lover Clyde Tolson in Clint Eastwood's biopic "Hoover." (Leonardo DiCapriois expected to play Hoover.)
Affleck has been less fortunate. Despite receiving excellent notices for his roles in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" (starring opposite Brad Pitt) and "Gone Baby Gone"(directed by his brother Ben), Affleck doesn't have quite the cache that Phoenix has. He's acted in only one film since 2007 and is currently in production on Ridley Scott's "The Kind One," about an amnesiac mob soldier. But if you saw his appearance on Jay Leno last night, it's obvious Casey is deep into damage control.
At least matters are going well for one member of Casey's family: Brother Ben is bathing in the good notices and big opening grosses for his movie "The Town," and some are even whispering that the film could be an Oscar contender. If Casey needs a career boost in the next year or two, he doesn't have to look far for help.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
LOS ANGELES — A joke making the rounds online involves a pair of red and green glasses and some blurry letters that say, “If you can’t make it good, make it 3-D.”
The fans of flat film have a motto. But do they have a movement?
While Hollywood rushes dozens of 3-D movies to the screen — nearly 60 are planned in the next two years, including “Saw VII” and “Mars Needs Moms!” — a rebellion among some filmmakers and viewers has been complicating the industry’s jump into the third dimension.
It’s hard to measure the audience resistance — online complaints don’t mean much when crowds are paying the premium 3-D prices. But filmmakers are another matter, and their attitudes may tell whether Hollywood’s 3-D leap is about to hit a wall.
Several influential directors took surprisingly public potshots at the 3-D boom during the recent Comic-Con International pop culture convention in San Diego.
“When you put the glasses on, everything gets dim,” said J. J. Abrams, whose two-dimensional “Star Trek” earned $385 million at the worldwide box office for Paramount Pictures last year.
Joss Whedon, who was onstage with Mr. Abrams, said that as a viewer, “I’m totally into it. I love it.” But Mr. Whedon then said he flatly opposed a plan by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to convert “The Cabin in the Woods,” a horror film he produced but that has not yet been released, into 3-D. “What we’re hoping to do,” Mr. Whedon said, “is to be the only horror movie coming out that is not in 3-D.”
A spokesman for MGM declined to discuss “The Cabin in the Woods.” But one person who was briefed on the situation — and spoke on the condition of anonymity because the studio was in the middle of a difficult financial restructuring — said conversion remained an option.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Marvel Entertainment said that studio had not decided on two or three dimensions for “Avengers,” a superhero film Mr. Whedon is directing.
With the enormous 3-D success of “Avatar,” directed by James Cameron, followed in short order by “Alice in Wonderland,” by Tim Burton, film marketing and distribution executives have been clamoring for more digitally equipped theaters to keep 3-D movies from crowding one another off the screen.
By year’s end, there will be more than 5,000 digital screens in the United States, or 12.5 percent of the roughly 40,000 total, easing a traffic jam that has caused 3-D hits like “Clash of the Titans,” from Warner Brothers, to bump into “How to Train Your Dragon,” from DreamWorks Animation, to the disadvantage of both.
Tickets for 3-D films carry a $3 to $5 premium, and industry executives roughly estimate that 3-D pictures average an extra 20 percent at the box office. Home sales for 3-D hits like “Avatar” and “Monsters vs. Aliens” have been strong, showing they can more than hold their own when not in 3-D.
A 3-D movie can be somewhat more costly than a 2-D equivalent because it may require more elaborate cameras and shooting techniques or an additional process in the already lengthy postproduction period for effects-heavy films. But the added costs are a blip when weighed against higher ticket sales.
Behind the scenes, however, filmmakers have begun to resist production executives eager for 3-D sales. For reasons both aesthetic and practical, some directors often do not want to convert a film to 3-D or go to the trouble and expense of shooting with 3-D cameras, which are still relatively untested on big movies with complex stunts and locations.
Filmmakers like Mr. Whedon and Mr. Abrams argue that 3-D technology does little to enhance a cinematic story, while adding a lot of bother. “It hasn’t changed anything, except it’s going to make it harder to shoot,” Mr. Whedon said at Comic-Con.
On the other hand, Michael Bay, who is shooting “Transformers 3,” appears to have agreed that his film will be at least partly in 3-D after insisting for months that the technology was not quite ready for his brand of action.
“We’ve always said it’s all about balance,” said Greg Foster, the president and chairman of Imax Filmed Entertainment, which has long counseled that some films are better in 2-D, even on giant Imax screens. “The world is catching up to that approach.”
A willingness to shoot in 3-D could persuade studio committees to approve an expensive film. But the disdain of some filmmakers for 3-D — at least in connection with their current projects — was on full display in San Diego.
Jon Favreau, speaking at Comic-Con about his coming “Cowboys & Aliens” for DreamWorks and Universal, said the idea of doing the movie in 3-D had come up, but he was not interested. Contemporary 3-D requires a digital camera, and “Westerns should only be shot on film,” Mr. Favreau said. He added: “Use the money you save to see it twice.”
Stacey Snider, the DreamWorks chief executive, said Mr. Favreau and the studios involved had mutually agreed that 3-D was not right for the film. But, she added, a discussion about 3-D was inevitable.
“It’s naïve to think we wouldn’t be having it on any movie that has effects, action or scale,” Ms. Snider said.
Earlier at Comic-Con, Edgar Wright, the director of “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” an action-filled comic-book extravaganza from Universal, similarly said that his film would arrive in two dimensions, at regular prices.
(People briefed on Universal’s approach to the film said 3-D had been considered very briefly. It was rejected, however, partly to avoid straining what promises to be a young audience with high ticket prices, partly because the already busy look of the movie might have become overwhelming in 3-D.)
The crowds cheered, as they had in an earlier Comic-Con briefing by Chris Pirrotta and other staff members of the fan site TheOneRing.net, who assured 300 listeners that a pair of planned “Hobbit” films will not be in 3-D, based on the site’s extensive reporting.
“Out of 450 people surveyed, 450 don’t want 3D for ‘The Hobbit,’ ” a later post on the Web site said.
But in Hollywood, an executive briefed on the matter — who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicate negotiations surrounding a plan to have Peter Jackson direct the “Hobbit” films — said the dimensional status of the movie remained unresolved.
Asked by phone recently whether die-hard fans would tolerate a 3-D Middle Earth, Mr. Pirrotta said, “I do believe so, as long as there was the standard version as well.”
In his own family, he said, the funny glasses can be a deal-breaker.
“My wife can’t stand 3-D.”
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Monday, June 14, 2010
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
1.) a 100 dollar fee for the permit. This is not outrageous, and seems about on par with similar shooting permits.
2.) A Ranger must be paid to be in attendance during the shoot. They are paid 30 dollars an hour, for a minimum of 3 hours. While I think this is reasonable, for the most part, I can't help but wonder if a Ranger makes even close to 30 dollars an hour when he or she is just on the job.
But here's the kicker -
3.) A One MILLION dollar certificate of insurance must be submitted in order to get the permit. Now, hold up, don't freak out. The insurance policy doesn't COST a million dollars, it's just for a million dollars. However, this doesn't come cheap. To break it down, a scene, which we can probably shoot in less than two hours, will mostly likely require a full day of insurance. A full day of a million dollar policy could cost up to a thousand dollars. I can tell you right now, a thousand dollars for two hours of time is RIDICULOUS. Now, it will probably be less, but even a few hundred dollars for a few hours is ridiculous. What is a state park in Phoenix but some (beautiful) mountains, a lot of dirt, and some scrub? Don't get me wrong, the parks are gorgeous, but how could ANYONE do a million dollars worth of damage? What is the value of dirt and scrub bushes?
On top of that, I'm left to wonder, after all of the wild fire's in California, do the State Park's have insurance? I mean, let's be honest with each other, hundreds of people, maybe even thousands of people a month come through those parks. Do they ever check all of those people to make sure they have insurance? What if their point and shoot camera explodes and a spark from it scorches half of the park? That person, more than likely, does not have personal liability insurance that covers burning down a State or National Park. I don't know of anyone that does. What if someone is injured because of something that happens in the park? Is it not the park's liability to take care of that? And yet, I don't see an insurance certificate posted on the gate's when you drive in. You can camp there for a minor fee, have a fire for a minor fee, but you can't shoot a single scene, with three crew members, two actors, no lights or other extraneous equipment, without having a million dollars worth of insurance?
EPIC FAIL Phoenix Film Commission!
Friday, May 21, 2010
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
The story goes something like this - Back in the 70's, during the cold winters of Canada, two friends, Robb and Steve, decided they would create a rock band, and vowed to rock forever. Anvil was born, and the band toured relentlessly, becoming known by thousands along with other bands like Metallica, Megadeath, Judas Priest, and other denizens of Heavy Metal. Fast forward thirty some-odd years, and the members of Anvil are working day jobs in Canada, and playing the occasional gig, while their other contemporaries are millionaire rock stars. Steve and Robb, after realizing that people DO remember them from back in the day (with the help of a lot of name dropping by people like Slash and Lars Ulrich), decide they want to take the band back out on the road, and record a new record.
Anvil:The Story of Anvil shows the good, the bad, and the ugly of being friends, being in a band, and being older men with responsibilities. All of these things combine to add an unbearable weight on both the band, and everyone associated with them. But, I think what is amazing about this story is the resilience these guys show about their dream. As an artist, the one thing you crave the most is the recognition of others, and, although they get it from some of their peers, they are so incredibly unknown by the general public, it's almost laughable, but they keep pushing forward. They really do live up to that promise of rocking forever, no matter what. Anvil is inspirational in its tale of people not willing to give up, but its also a very real tale of the consequences of such dedication.
Monday, May 3, 2010
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
Maria Bello, in what may be one of her best roles (although it's neck and neck with her role in A History of Violence), plays the title role of Nancy, a woman who was heavily abused as a child, and because of that abuse, has been twisted in such a way that abuse is the only way she knows how to feel love. Her husband, Albert (played by Rufus Sewell), can not understand her needs, and refuses to give into her constant bating. He almost has to steel himself against her, so as not to give into the physical abuse she craves so much. By the time the audience joins the story, Nancy has met someone online, a man named Louis (played to stunning perfection by Jason Patric), whom she has contracted to meet her in a far away town, abuse her, and, eventually, kill her. The film follows Nancy, her run-ins with her husband and her counselor, her self-destruction, her death, and Louis's confrontations with Albert.
Renck gives the film an ominous cleanliness, and a blue tone, that makes you feel as though you are in a sterile, hospital like environment the whole time. His production design is painfully middle American, and you can almost sympathize with Nancy for putting up with such a drab existence for such a long time. Maria Bello brings this character to life in such a way that, I, as an audience member, felt so much empathy for her, that even though I would never want anyone to kill themselves, I felt like I just wanted her to have what she wanted so badly - A way out. Rufus Sewell is both reserved and explosive in his role, balancing the two in a high wire act that makes me believe this is a guy who has more talent than he, often times, lets on, and Jason Patric is devastating as a man who grows to love Nancy so much that he will make the ultimate sacrifice to give her what she wants.
I really liked this film. It seemed to be heavily panned when it was doing the festival circuit, and barely saw any kind of release, but this is just one of those films. It's not for everyone. You have to be okay with being taken places that you may not want to go too, or shown things you may not want to see or agree with if your going to get anything out of it.
WEINER: It's the aesthetics. I've now come to realize, and I think that they proved this technologically, that a sampling of the world that goes on in film at 24 frames per second has been perfected to produce a lifelike experience, the way that you would see it with your eyes. There's nothing that competes with it. I can tell the difference, and until I can't tell the difference (between film and video), I will stay with film. Also, I don't think the great cinematographers are comfortable working with video. They don't get the looks and blacks they want. There is rigidness to working in video, maybe because it doesn't have the chemical elements. It's just not the same thing. When I shot my $10,000 movie, I shot it on (KODAK) Plus-X and Tri-X 16 mm film. Working with film made a huge difference.
The film focuses on the relationship between two actors, Alex (played by Jess Weixler) and Jamie (played by Barlow Jacobs). The two are working on a play together, and Alex allows Jamie to crash on her couch while her husband, Eliott, is on tour with his band. She enjoys the company, and insists on setting Jamie up with her sister, Hellen. When things get serious between Hellen and Jamie, though, Alex realizes she has feelings for Jamie, which is a triple threat because 1) She's married, 2) She's in love with her sister's boyfriend (after she set them up), and 3) They're starring in a play together that is very sexually charged, and they are, therefore, very close to each other, in rehearsals, at all times.
Alexander The Last is a good film, but, ultimately, I didn't enjoy it as much as I did Hannah Takes The Stairs or Nights and Weekends. Maybe its the chemistry that he built with the star of both of those films, Greta Gerwig (who was also a collaborator in the writing and directing process), or maybe it was the over simplicity of the story. It feels like everything in this film is laid out from the very start, and you instantaneously know, from the beginning, where he is going with all of this.
Justin Rice stands out in his role, having made steps to better himself as an actor since his debut in Andrew Bujalski's Mutual Appreciation (which he did a pretty good job in. If he ever decides to not be a musician, he could have an acting career ahead of him). Jess Weixler and Amy Seimetz are also great as the two sisters her always on an edge of love and hate with each other. Jacobs, as Jamie, seemed to closed off for a film that is so intimate and so about the internal goings on of its characters. It's not that he did a bad job, but I'm not sure he was completely right for the part, or, maybe the part wasn't right for him.