Comments on watching and making films.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cam Archer Interview

Cam Archer discusses aspects of his new film Shit Year.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Trailer for Kurt Markus's Documentary on John Mellencamp

I'm highlighting this because it was all shot on Super 8. Love the look and feel of it. There's nothing quite like Super 8.

John Mellencamp Trailer from Rounder Records on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


The Duplass Brothers have been working steadily in independent film since they started shooting short films in the early 2000's. Their debut feature, The Puffy Chair, followed by their psuedo horror film Baghead were both highlights of the last couple of years. Their hard work has finally paid off and, with Cyrus, the Brothers move into the low budget studio territory, but still manage to keep the spirit that got them here in the first place.

John C. Reilly plays John, a guy who is looking for love as his ex-wife is about to get remarried. He meets Molly (Marisa Tomei) at a party that his ex-wife and fiance are throwing, and the two hit it off. Molly is very secretive, though, when it comes to talking about her life. When John follows Molly home, he finds out what she's been hiding - Her grown son, Cyrus (played by Jonah Hill), still leaves with her, in a sort of time capsule single mother/son relationship. They do everything together. They're best friends, and when John starts horning in on his mother's time, Cyrus becomes jealous, and when Cyrus becomes jealous, things get weird.

Cyrus is a humorous indy, and, maybe, the Duplass Brothers best film to date. Everyone brings in a great performance, including Jonah Hill (who I've never been a huge fan of). It's not the kind of film that has you rolling around on the ground laughing, but it definitely has its great moments, especially when things escalate between John and Cyrus. The Duplass Brothers have made something super solid and funny, and have shown what studio heads seemed to forget regularly - that a funny film, or any film, really, can be made for a reasonable amount of money.

Wall Street 2 - Money Never Sleeps

Sequels that are made just for money often times end up being slap dash and horrible. Fortunately, at least in my opinion, Wall Street 2 - Money Never Sleeps, was not made for money, but rather to continue the same themes but put into the context of the current financial climate. The first film was about pure greed and the way that it was affecting normal people. This film is about the same kinds of greed, except, instead of affecting the employees of a small airline company, this Wall Street disaster effects the entire economy of the United States, as well as the lives of its protagonist's, soon to be married Jake and Winnie (played by Shia LeBouf and Carrie Mulligan).

Gordon Gecko (Michael Douglas reprising his role from the first film) has just gotten out of prison and is looking to rebuild his empire. When Jake Moore, a hungry, but successful Wall Street wiz kid's firm begins to meltdown during the housing crisis of 2008, he looks to Gecko to be a mentor and tries to reunite Winnie, who just so happens to be Gecko's daughter, with Gordon, in exchange for the chance to be Gecko's right hand. Gecko, however, always has a few tricks up his sleeve, and, while he loves Winnie, he knows that gaining her forgiveness and trust back is almost impossible. Money, however, even in times of panic and insolvency, can always be made. You just have to know who's backs to step on.

I'm not an Oliver Stone fan. I don't care for most of his work, but I did love the original Wall Street. I had high hopes for this one, and, while it didn't quite hit the same mark as the original, it was still a great film. Douglas is as slimy as ever, and LeBouf finally found a great fit in the fast talking, fast thinking Jake. Carrie Mulligan feels criminally underused in this film. I would really liked to have seen more with her, but, you get what you get. Josh Brolin, as a take no prisoners banking executive, brought on the pain, and played the type of role he's best at - the relentless bully. The film will leave you thinking about the current financial climate (at least, as of 2010), and will hopefully, in coming years, leave audiences to think about, and question, the way that they do business with banks and investment firms, and making sure that they are really paying attention to what they are doing with their money and with their signatures.

It's Kind Of A Funny Story

As you get older, it often times gets harder to take movies about kids who blow out of proportion their problems as teens or young adults. Maybe it's that you're older and don't care, maybe it's that you understand that the world doesn't end tomorrow, or, maybe, it's just a case of the old "Been there, done that, people have bigger problems than you, get over it" syndrome.

Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden (the directing team responsible for the fantastic films Half Nelson and Sugar) bring to life the story of Craig (Keir Gilchrist), a teen on the cusp of graduating from a fairly prominent New York City school, and having a breakdown because of the pressure being put on him by parents who want him to succeed, schools that want massive amounts of his time and energy for their rigorous admissions process, and trying to keep his secret crush on his best friends girlfriend a secret, among other things. Craig decides to check himself into a mental hospital, assuming he will be there for a few hours and they will give him some medications. Instead, he's admitted for a one week mandatory stay. In the hospital, he meets various characters, most importantly Bobby (played by Zach Galifianakis) who becomes somewhat of a mentor to Craig. During his time at the hospital, Craig learns from the traps that the other patients are snared in, to be himself and have confidence and courage, and to not be afraid of failure.

This film was funny, and, at times, endearing, although some things seemed a little contrived. A lot of things seemed to work out for a lot of people by the end, and I get that this is supposed to be a comedy and a fun time, and I support that, but at the same time, I feel like reality, which has always been such a high priority for Boden and Fleck, seems to be brushed to the side in favor of an "Everything is going to work out" message. Boden and Fleck do a great job of making you feel better about yourself by the time the film is over, but I also left feeling a little off because it felt like the kind of thing that Hollywood had managed to get their paws into and sink something that, probably, could have been a lot better. I don't know, though, it may have been all Fleck and Boden. Gilchrist does a fantastic job at hitting the notes of a kid with 0% confidence or courage, and Galifianakis is always fantastic. The supporting cast was pretty amazing, especially Adrian Martinez, who's straight delivery of some of the films funniest lines was spot on.

This Is It Collective's "Bad Things That Could Happen"

Bad Things That Could Happen from This Is It on Vimeo.