Comments on watching and making films.

Friday, December 31, 2010


2010. I can't say I wish it would have lasted longer. It had its ups and downs. Not as difficult as 2009, but there have been better years. I look back at my post from last year and, well, I won some, I lost some. Indefinable Orbits is shot, developed and telecined (decided not to edit on film for this one). It still needs to be edited together, so I got close to that one, but fell short just a little bit. I have written more on scripts, but haven't seen any completion on them. I ended up making PHX, though we shot about eight months before I had thought we would because of some time constraints that came about. The film is being handed over to an editor to be finished, and I hope that 2011 will see the completion of it. Canon did release the 24p firmware update for the 5D, but I haven't found myself motivated to use it for a lot of projects. I just love using film too much.

What will 2011 bring? I don't know, honestly, and the thought of sitting down and making a to do list is not one I can entertain. I don't feel like this is going to be a year to make goals, as there may be some serious shifting in my life. So, I'm just going to make a goal to do what I can, and finish what I can. Hopefully, I can achieve that.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Kevin Willson's "Birthday Wish" and "Chainsaw"

I don't normally post commercial's on here (actually, I never post commercials on here), but I worked on these two and am really proud of how both of them turned out. They were directed by Kevin Willson, who I really enjoyed working for.


Chainsaw - Doritos from Kevin T. Willson on Vimeo.


Red was a movie I almost didn't see in the theaters. The trailer looked cool, but everytime the chance came up to see it, I shrugged it off and went and saw something else. I did manage to make it, though, before it went out of theaters completely, and, man, am I glad I did.

Red stars Bruce Willis as Frank Moses, a retired black ops agent who has fallen in love with a case worker he regularly deals with, Sarah Ross (played by Mary-Louis Parker). When the CIA flags Frank, and tries to assassinate him in his suburban home, he kills the assassins one by one, and then takes off to try and retrieve Sarah, believing that she might be a target. The CIA, realizing their failure, and the potential mess that could ensue, puts Agent William Cooper (played by Karl Urban) on the job. Cooper is highly trained in assassination, and may be the only one who can take him down. Moses, with Sarah in hand (and freaked out), teams up with some of his old cronies - Marvin, Victoria, and Joe (played by John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, and Morgan Freeman, respectively), to find out why the CIA wants him dead.

First of all, this movie is not only a top notch action film, but is also hilarious. I found myself laughing constantly. Everyone does a fantastic job at hitting all the right marks. Parker is fantastic at being the unwitting love of Willis's life, Malkovich is fantastic as a crazed weapons expert, and Mirren is just awesome. Freeman isn't in much the film, but is solid, and Urban plays a fantastic "straight man", if that is even what you can call him. Director Robert Schwentke manages to mix humor and action in a way that is completely enjoyable, never cheesy, and always natural. This film really hit it out of the park, and I can't recommend it more.

True Grit

One of the Coen Brother's biggest success tales was with veteran actor Jeff Bridges, when they teamed up to make the now classic The Big Lebowski. The team is back for another go around in a remake of the classic John Wayne western True Grit.

The film stars newcomer Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross, a teenager looking to hire a bounty hunter to track down her fathers killer, a man named Tom Chaney, played by Josh Brolin. She asks around town, and the one answer she seems to get is that US Marshall Rooster Cogburn is her man, but Cogburn (played with every ounce of crotchitiness Bridges can muster) isn't interested in this little girl's problems, until she throws some money into the mix, that is. Offering him a hundred dollars (a considerable wage for the 1800's), he agrees to take on the task of tracking down Chaney. Along the way, though, a Texas Ranger named LaBeouf (played by Matt Damon), who is also hunting Chaney joins in on the search. The problem with finding Chaney, though, is that he has gotten in with a gang of dangerous men, and finding him also means having to deal with them.

The performances in this film are rock solid. Bridges doesn't even have to try to master a roll anymore. Damon plays LaBeouf with every bit of swagger, self righteousness, and self importance you would expect a law man from Texas to have, and Steinfeld gives Mattie Ross a sense of determination that one can't question. Barry Pepper is also a welcomes site as Lucky Ned, the leader of the gang Chaney has fallen into.

So, with all of these great performances, great cinematography by frequent collaborator Roger Deakins, and a solid story based on a best selling book is this movie not everything I had hoped it would be? Don't get me wrong, it was enjoyable, and I liked it, but I was expecting to love it. The Coen's previous "Neo-Western" No Country For Old Men was a revelation, a personal best for almost everyone involved. So how is it that True Grit turned out to be a minor let down? I don't know... I'm glad I saw it, don't get me wrong, I just didn't have that sense of excitement and amazement that I usually get out of having seen something truly incredible, which is something I know the Coen's are capable of.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Black Swan

Darren Aronofsky has had an extremely interesting, if somewhat limited, career. He started out with the ultra-low budget PI, which got the attention of the indie film world. He followed that up with the devastating Requiem For A Dream, which garnered him critical acclaim and made the world take notice. He took years to come back with his personal pet project, The Fountain, which, while an interesting idea, couldn't stand up to his previous efforts. He came back with The Wrestler, which proved to also be a come back for its star, Mickey Rourke, and now brings us his fifth feature in 12 years, Black Swan.

Black Swan stars Natalie Portman as perfectionist ballerina, Nina. When the senior dancer of the company, played by Winona Ryder, is forced into retirement, the leader of the company, Thomas Leroy (played by Vincent Cassel) chooses Nina to be the lead in his production of The Black Swan. As Leroy challenges Nina during the rehearsal process, he brings on Lily (played by Mila Kunis), as an alternate who shakes up Nina's life. As the rehearsal process for the ballet continues, Nina's world begins to fall apart and she has a more difficult time separating reality from fiction.

Black Swan is hard to nail down. I liked the last twenty to thirty minutes of it, but the first two thirds of the film felt like a hard mess. Pretty much all of the main characters are extremely one dimensional, to a point where you get bored with them, and the only thing that keeps all of it going is the fantasies that Nina keeps having. Aranofsky borrows a lot of technique that he established in The Wrestler, but he used it to better result in that movie. The handheld cinematography doesn't work as well for this film. The neutral color pallet, though, was something that I did like. Aranofsky sticks, basically, to three colors throughout the film - white, black, and grey. There are other colors that show up every once in a while, but those three are the primary ingredients.

Ultimately, Black Swan feels like a film that can't decide what it wants to be. Is it trying to be a horror film or an intense psychological thriller? I think it spends way too much time trying to be both. What is real and what isn't? Normally, that question would be what makes for an interesting time, but in this film, it just makes things confusing and difficult to watch.

I wish I could speak better of the film, considering that I think that Aranofsky is one of our greatest directors, but I feel like Black Swan is trying to do to many different things, and not doing a great job at any of them.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

New screen grabs from "Indefinable Orbits"

I finally got the last footage from Indefinable Orbits transferred, and will begin editing soon. This little film (probably not more than 2 minutes) has taken me about two years to shoot because of certain shots I needed that I couldn't get right away. Anyways, still need to record the voice over, but will be working on the picture edit till then.