Comments on watching and making films.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Little Fox - The Kitsune Masks

Kitsune is the legendary Japanese Fox spirit that inhabits a young woman, causing mischief. This is the legend that Little Fox is partially based on. There are a few masks that I've purchased for the film that will represent the Kitsune in the film -

Above is the mask of the actual Kitsune spirit that inhabits the main character, Little Fox.

Little Fox's mask.

The mask of the second Kitsune (character #4), who has a relationship with Little Fox.

Primer on Film and Digital Capture

In this video, Rob Hummel (previously of Sony and Dalsa), explains the technical differences between capturing images on film and capturing images on digital. It's pretty amazing to watch, and there's some information that may make some one who is thinking digital think twice. Of course, some people have attached themselves onto digital like a barnacal on the side of a ship, never letting go, as have people with film, but the science shows evidence that film is still the best capture medium available today.

Monday, June 13, 2011

X-Men: First Class

X-Men is a tough sell. Singer did an amazing job with the first two, but X3 and X-Men Origin's: Wolverine were awful. We've seen how comic book movies can be destroyed in the wrong hands, and while an impressive cast was lined up for X-Men: First Class, the trailer didn't give me to much hope. It seemed like a potential repeat of X3, an attempt at bringing way too much action and way too little story back to the X-Men universe. Thankfully, I was wrong.

The film begins with an almost shot for shot remake of Bryan Singer's Magneto origin sequence from the first film. We see his separation from his parents, and how the Nazi's worked to develop his powers in an attempt to make him a weapon. We see Professor X as a young boy, and Mystique. As the film progresses, we meet more and more mutants, and see them come together to face an enemy, Sebastian Shaw (played by Kevin Bacon), who not only is playing both the United States and Russia into going into nuclear war, but has also created a power of his own that threatens the entire world. I know that's a weird synopsis, but I'm trying to dance around some things so as to not give too much away.

This film surprised me. I really enjoyed it, but then again, director Matthew Vaughn did Kick-Ass, which did, indeed, live up to its title. The acting was great, with James McAvoy as Professor X and Michael Fassbender as Magneto. The real surprise here was Kevin Bacon, not that he can't act, but just that he fit into his role as Sebastian Shaw like a glove. The action was great, the writing top notch, and the setting of the 1960's, which I thought was going to be a handicap for the film, was actually done really well, with period clothing, cars, sets, etc. The weakest link to the film was January Jones, as White Queen, who, while looks wise is a fantastic match for that character, can't act to save her life. She's one of Mad Men's only low points, and she's the only real low point for this film.

This film knocks the franchise back into being a player, and my only hope is that, with another Wolverine movie kicking around in development, that the exec's will take a page from this film, and make Wolverine right instead of ridiculous.

DVD - Halloween 2 (Director's Cut)

When Rob Zombie's remake of the original Halloween was released, I was super excited for it. I think Zombie has an amazing visual sense as a filmmaker, even if some of his stories seem very homage oriented, to the point where they almost feel like remakes. So, when he did an actual remake, it felt like that was going to be something awesome. No BS, just an honest, updated, hardcore version of Halloween. But, unfortunately, I was left disappointed. While the visuals were awesome, my problems with the film were simple - I hated the main characters and telling Michael's backstory took all of the steam out of the mystery. Unfortunately, not much has changed in the follow up.

Halloween 2 picks up two years (1 year in the theatrical release) after the events of the first movie. Halloween is nearing, and Laurie Strode is falling apart. Michael has healed himself, and is making his way back to Haddonfield to finish the job, and a psychic connection between him and Laurie, along with her being a basket case from the events of the first movie, is driving her to the brink. Michael eventually reaches Haddonfield, and terror ensues.

The great thing about the original Halloween 2 was that it picked up right where the first one left off, that very night. While Zombie leads us to believe this is the case with his version, as well, we find out that it's a dream, and Michael really has disappeared for some period of time. During this period, Laurie becomes a raging bitch, and Annie, who somehow survived the first attack, becomes a surrogate mom figure. I don't think this relationship works on screen, especially since you would think that an event as horrific as what happened in the first film would have brought them closer together, not driven them further apart. Laurie has made new friends, in the form of a couple of boozing punk rock girls, who's characters are so small and unlikable that you don't really care when they die. Loomis is a complete dick, which doesn't help. Not to mention Michael.

In this new film, Michael has visions of his mother, which is cool, to an extent. At some point, though, it dives into over kill when she starts "leading" him into doing what he does. Part of the success of the original film is the fact that Michael's motivations are very vague, and his past is never discussed except for that opening sequence where he kills his older sister. Zombie gives away everything he can about Michael, which takes away all of his frightening aspects - That he is a shadow with no motive and one mission - Kill. I also hated the fact that Zombie has him take off his mask. Michael should never take off his mask. His mask is what makes him who he is. He only exists inside of it. Take it off, and one would assume he should simply vanish into thin air.

While the film was not awful to watch (it wasn't like treading water), it still left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I still like Zombie, and look forward to seeing future, "original", films by him, but I kind of hope he stays away from remakes in the future.

Jeremy Adams' "Let's Go" video for Madi Diaz

As I've said before, I normally don't post music video's on here, but I was present on the set of this one, and really loved how it turned out. The unfortunate part of this story is that the artist signed to a label shortly after the video was shot, and told Jeremy and Andrew, the team that shot it, that they wouldn't allow them to use the music in it, as they had purchased the rights to it and didn't like the video. SO, all of that being said, this music video, unfortunately, has no music to it. It does look awesome, and deserves to be seen, so that is why I'm posting it.

Gary Nadeau's "Pizza Verdi"

Blake Whitman's "Far From Now"

Little Fox

Over the last two weeks, or so, I've started to get more serious about a project I mentioned last year called Little Fox. I have finished the initial outline of it, and will type it up and start fleshing it out more in the coming weeks. I have started collecting bits and pieces for it already, props and wardrobe, and will continue to do so over the next couple of months, as well as purchase film for it. I'm going to shoot on Ektachrome 100D Super 8. I was, originally, going to shoot on 16mm, but have decided to go with Super 8 for this project, since it will be a longer piece (15-20 minutes), and since there are so many extras for it that I will be investing money into (props, wardrobe, etc.). I'm really excited to be moving forward with this, as it is the first thing I've done since PHX.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


There have been a variety of Wes Anderson-esque films that have come along since Anderson's breakthrough film Rushmore. Jared Hess seems to be one of the most successful to use that kind of style, but there are many more who have not been so lucky. Richard Ayoade, however, has managed to bring an equally neurotic, slightly less detail oriented take on the Anderson style to the screen in the form of his directorial debut, Submarine.

The film follows Oliver Tate, played by Craig Roberts, a schoolboy who has a highly inflated sense of himself, while still seeming to understand that he is actually fairly mediocre, bordering on unpopular. He falls in love with a fellow outcast named Jordana (Yasmin Paige), who plays on his affections and gets him to do whatever she wants without really having to give anything of herself. Oliver is trying to juggle this relationship while also trying to keep his parents relationship going when his mom's old boyfriend, a new age mystic/psychic (played hilariously by Paddy Considine) moves in across the street. Eventually, though, both Oliver and his dad are on the brink of losing the women they love, and have to step up to the challenge of winning them back.

Submarine is a hilarious film. Oliver's awkwardness, Jordana's power complex, his parents quiet desperation all get played out fantastically. Ayoade, who is best known for playing Maurice Moss on The IT Crowd, has comic timing in his blood, and I think his directing only pushes Submarine into the next level of hilarity. Paddy Considine is one of my favorite British actors, and I know will always be a solid addition to anything, and Roberts and Paige, as Oliver and Jordana are perfectly awkward teenagers looking for love and trying to find their place in the world. The film is fantastic, and well worth a viewing.

Tree of Life

You're average movie-goer probably doesn't have a clue who Terrence Malick is, but, to cineaste's, he is the closest thing to god many of them have (and as elusive). He barreled onto the scene in 1973 with his masterpiece debut, Badlands, followed only five years later by another masterpiece of 70's American cinema, Days of Heaven. It would be 20 years before we saw another film, 1998's The Thin Red Line, which would be followed by The New World, and now Tree of Life. While everyone can agree that it's fantastic to no longer have to wait twenty years to get a new film by Malick, Tree of Life has been gestating as a project since the Badlands/Days of Heaven era, a few more years and some quality input may have kept this one in line with Malicks previous works.

Tree of Life gives us a first hand view of a period of time in the lives of one Texas family. Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain play the father and mother. They have three young boys, the oldest, and the one that the film focuses on, is Jack, played by Hunter McCracken. We see Pitt be the traditional 1950's era father, trying to teach his boys how to be tough, while Chastain plays the traditional mother, gentle, loving and caring. Interspersed throughout their story is the very evolution of the universe and Earth itself, from the beginning of time back to the 1950's, and occasionally to the present, where we meet grown Jack, played by Sean Penn.

Tree of Life is a lot of what you would expect from a Malick film. The cinematography is epic and gorgeous, and the film is meditatively paced, and allows itself to unfold in front of you. The problem with Tree, though, is it is bloated. There are multiple scenes that don't really go anywhere, and edits within the scenes that feel contradictory, or are unnecessary. It's hard, though, because these things (and the sheer length of it), butts up against how beautiful and transcendent the film can be. While it doesn't seem to have a solid plot, Tree is more like a scrapbook of this family's life than anything else, and those little moments being strung together can really bring out an empathy in the audience, if they allow it too. Both Pitt and Chastain deliver fantastic performances, and the young boys playing their sons are pretty much perfect.

I feel incredibly mixed about this film. I like it and I don't. I think if you are already a Malick fan, you definitely should see it and make up your own mind. If you don't really know who the guy is, but you've heard good things, go rent Badlands or Days of Heaven instead.

One Year Later

Today marks the one year anniversary of the beginning of filming on my first, and hopefully not last, feature PHX. The production cycle had its ups and downs, but definitely changed me forever. I will not forget the multitude of lessons learned on that set. I am greatly appreciative to everyone involved, for giving their time and resources to something that was such a long shot.

The film is currently being edited, and while there is no definitive date as to when that will be done, we hope it will be before the end of the calender year. Andrew, the editor, is working on putting together a small look at some of the footage, which I hope to be able to post soon, just to let people know that this thing really does exist and really is being worked on.