Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Empire Boardwalk

It's the Christmas holidays and I thought I should catch up with some feedback on some of the things I have been watching over the past few months.

Although it was not a surprise to find another excellent HBO series, I really want to draw everyones' attention to this very well done historical piece that chronicles the rise of Atlantic City. This may sound like a boring documentary, but keep in mind that the great Martin Scorsese was fully behind this project and directed the first episode.

Now the first episode was a bit slow as it was busy setting up characters and putting into place the foundation of the storyline, but don't let that dissuade you from talking this series in. Like everything good, the joy is in the journey. And to be a witness to the birth and maturation of an american institution of greed and corruption is a dramatic and revealing (and dare I say educational) ride.
Although in their early days some of the players in Atlantic City's growth include Arnold 'the brain' Rothstein (Jewish Mafia kingpin), Al Capone, Lucky Luciano (New York mafia lord), Johnny Torrio (Chicago crime outfit) and Meyer Lansky (the mob's accountant). Need I say more? A story about these thugs may be story enough, however they act as mere backdrop to the lesser historically known Enoch Lewis "Nucky" Johnson, fictionalized as Enoch 'Nucky' Thompson. Nucky's role is just as signigicant (if not more) than the previously mentioned fellas, however he did his work in the politcal arena. For 30 years he was the undisputed boss of the polical machine known as the republican party. We all know that this party has enjoyed their stranglehold on America and still do even when not in power. So as is necessary, those who propell a machine that controls every facet of our lives needs to remain out of the spotlight to be effective. And that is the reason why few of us has ever heard of Enoch Lewis "Nucky" Johnson. Nucky is brought to life by the epically cool role actor Steve Buscemi. I am so stoked that this guy is finally getting the opportunity to headline his own show. Like Enoch he has remained under the radar by being truly fantastic in everything that he graces. But until now he has been relegated to playing smaller supporting roles with a large punch or bigger roles in smaller independent films. With Empire Boardwalk he gets the luxury of enough screen time to fully develop a character. And Nucky allows for much room to experiment within. As Nucky he is the architect behind Atlantic City's prominence as an guilty pleasure tourist stop for gambling, prostitution and prohibition era spirits. The series slowly reveals to us the source of Nucky's strength, driving force and the damaging childhood that likely contributed to the personality. Truly high end character development. Another character with equally dim stardom in the history of Atlantic City is Jimmy Darmody (based on real life Jimmy Boyd). Although Jimmy Boyd's involvement is not well documented and his contributions are in question, the series version as Jimmy Darmody is rich in complexity and coolness. Again, this role is casted with another actor that has impressed me many times but has until now failed to find true stardom. Michael Pitt (no relations to Brad) is an excellent dramatic craftsman who has given stunning performances in Bernardo Bertolucci's The Dreamers and creepy psycho work in Funny Games U.S.

So enough said, watch this in first season re-runs or rent or buy the DVD's when it is finally released.

In closing, upon his death real life Nucky Johnson was eulogized by the Atlantic City Press as "born to rule: He had flair, flamboyance, was politically amoral and ruthless, and had an eidetic memory for faces and names, and a natural gift of command ... [Johnson] had the reputation of being a gargantuan trencherman, a hard drinker, a Herculean lover, an epicure, a sybaritic fancier of luxuries and all good things in life." Come on, you gotta catch some of that business.





Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Remember


I always get a little sad on this date each year. This year it is the 30th time that this sadness has hit me. Like always in tribute I will be listening to The Beatles and John's solo stuff all day. Please do the same to pay homage to the greatest songwriter of our generation.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Outlander

Oh where have you been Jim Caviezel.
Dating back to 1998 Jim was sitting on top of the cinematic world with his solid work in The Thin Red Line, Frequency, The Count of Monte Cristo and The Passion of the Christ.
In the last two he played the lead in probably one of the greatest stories ever told and then the greatest character in the most important story ever told. Quite the start to his film resume.
Since then he has been in a series of unimportant movies that have done nothing to bolster his reputation.
Being in his prime he as a chance rekindle his career. Outlander will not be that springboard. I was however mildly entertained in that sci-fi/viking action flick. Jim was strong as an action star and was surrounded by some interesting supporting staff.
Most notable are the raven beauty love interest Sophia Myles and grizzly cool Jack Huston who reminds me of Gary Oldman in the good old days when he played damaged characters like 1990's 1990 State of Grace one of my all time favourites.
This isn't an endorsement but rather a suggestion if you are looking for an action movie that does not require you to think too much.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

An Election must be called immediately - The Conservatives have lost the confidence of the house

A friend of mine sent Mr. Ignatieff the following email in response to the Conservatives kill of the climate bill.

Please give your comments.

Dear Mr Ignatieff,
I implore you to introduce a non-confidence motion at the earliest possible opportunity in response to the Prime Minister's complete contempt of parliament, democracy and the Canadian public with his inexcusable use of the Senate to kill the climate bill passed by the House of Commons as reported in the Globe and Mail newspaper today. In a manner that would befit a George Orwell plot, the Prime Minister who once hectored the electorate about the need for an "equal, effective, and elected" senate proceeds to use the unequal, unelected, but quite effective senate to thwart the will of parliament, and the majority of Canadians and kill the climate bill which in itself was unacceptable compromise jeopardizing the future of my children. The Prime Minister has succeeded in manipulating democracy to proclaim that "the earth is flat" to further his agenda. Mr. Harper needs to be introduced to the concept of an equal effective and elected House of Commons and as the Leader of Her Majesty's loyal opposition it is your responsibility to hold the government to account. I cannot think of a greater failure than to refuse to accept this responsibility and defeat the government. The future will judge your leadership on this issue either as the newly elected Prime Minister or the previous leader of the Liberal party.
Thank you for your time

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Trouble with the Hobbits

If anyone has been following the union issues that has taken over the New Zealand set of The Hobbit I am sure you are concerned that the resulting boycott (whether currently in place or not) may jeopardize the opening date schedule if not the whole project.
When it comes down to picking sides on this battle I am confident that the fans just want both parties to get along and start filming.
I however will pick a side and will shre my opinion. The union for New Zealand actors (ironically from Australia) is painting a picture of Peter Jackson as a difficult opportunistic overlord whose goal is to take the primary filming out of New Zealand. This folks can be referred to as the union's carrot. They will be using this contrived threat to motivate its membership into holding out for higher wages (and the standard working conditions clause to minimize greed intent), and thus more union dues. The fact is, that the mere threat of holding back production is what if anything will directly contribute to the production company being forced to move. I frankly believe Peter Jackson when he says that his goal is to come to an agreement quickly to win back the confidence of the producers to allow this film to continue. Lets remember that it was Peter Jackson who brought the Lord of The Rings trilogy to New Zealand in the first place. It should not be lost that Jackson has the credibility of making three epic off-shore blockbusters which obviously faced a long list of issues that he had to overcome in getting those films done. Peter had to work through all of these. In order to pull off filming a feature film directors need to be collaborators and Peter Jackson is one of the world's best at keeping every side (stake holder) content, as it is his paramount goal to get the picture shot and completed. So when a union asks me to believe that Peter is the source of the issues, I just can't buy it. Peter is the same person who lobbied to have New Zealanders used as extras and set assistants in the first place. New Zealanders on average are making better money than British actors, who without doubt have more out of pocket expenses working off shore. Does this sound like someone who is solely driven by profit? This production has faced many problems from the start and Peter was brought in specifically to work through these issues and get the picture on the road. No one person can receive more credit for contributiing to New Zealand's success in the film industry. So what I see here is an opportunistic Australian union who have nothing to lose by villanizing and corrupting New Zealand's excellent reputation as a host. A reputation that their so called villan Peter Jackson contributed in building for them.

What are your thoughts?

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Human Centipede


Thanks Dave.

This could be the most disturbing film I have ever seen. I am far from a prude when it comes to horror and the type of things that most believe should not be glorified on screen, but I have to admit that I thought about this one for a while. This film is well done however, getting top grades on suspense and creepiness. I predict that most viewers will give up on it before it is done. The ultra curious, like myself will stick with it, for a mild to good payoff. I do not want to recommend this film to everyone, but I am sure that my comments above will entice enough daring people to see it, because it is certainly a conversation piece with the potential to have cult status. I will not describe this movie as it has to be seen and experienced before debate. Too many details will ruin it for you. See it and please comment, I want to know if I am nuts or not.

Over.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Let Me In

Well here I am again. Surprised twice in the same week.

As I sat with my friend in an empty theatre and watched this film evolve before my eyes, it came to me that this kind of film is rarely given a chance in a small one cinema city like the one I frequent and call home. Rather this is the type of film that would be lucky to see the light of day even the second time around (and not without winning an Oscar or two). But here it was in its early days of release and boy was I happy.

This film of contrasting worlds is fantastic. Being of the hottest topic in current film I have to say it leaves its blood thirsty competitors in their caskets. What sets this film apart is the well developed characters that you can actually care about. Not to mention, scenes of suspense, creepy desperate acts of survival and a story you could actually buy into. The love story was atypical but more convincing then most. Even more impressive is that the love was without sex and between two unlikely twelve years olds. One gawky kid that is picked on at school and a sure and confident undead with a heart. The rally friendly relationship between the two lead characters was easier to accept as it was born through lonliness and a need for acceptance and understanding. Not the typical relationship dreamt up by producers to fit two poster teens in love tortured angst used to sell tickets to the masses. This unique view permits us an insight into the characters' every intention, while we root for their happiness.

'Fresh', best describes how every aspect of this genre is treated. For example, it was nice to see that an ageless, invulnerable can actually suffer from isolation and longing for human contact and normalcy.

I also want to mention that this is a remake of a Swedish film and that it was directed by sophomore Matt Reeves whose debut Cloverfield got lots of buzz for its originality and marketing strategies. The cast is highlighted by a perfectly vulnerable portrayal of the lead character Owen, played by Kodi Smit-McPhee (the boy in The Road) and the haunting co-lead Abby played by Chloe Moretz (who previously hit the mark with the home-made super-hero kid in Kick-Ass).

Let me share with everyone that even if you typically stay clear of the horror and suspense genre, this film should be the exception because of its good story, writing, acting and general good taste. If you are lucky enough to see this at a theatre, jump at it, otherwise make sure to pick it up in DVD. Then pass the word.

Social Network

I have to tell you I am a bit surprised that this movie is doing so well at the box office. Typically movies with this concentration on dialogue and lack of good looking people, violence, sexuality and random car chases gets overlooked by the general public. Instead they get attention from critics and if lucky a nod at Oscar time and resulting wider distribution. Thanks however to the movie's hook, the Facebook phenomenon, we have a common denominator for everyone to enjoy.

As everyone with and without a Facebook account will see this file I will resist going into details of its plot. What I will say however is that it delivers on many levels. Most notably is the rapier dialogue. Almost everyone should see this movie twice just to catch all the wit and highly intelligent condescension that you may have missed the first time. The fact is that most of the film's real life characters are upper echelon intellects from the US's most prestigious schools. So it is not surprising that the characters' comments are stimulating and sometimes hard to get especially given the speed that they are fired out there. I can gather that Mark Zuckerberg is from middle class origins. So his story is not necessarily a rags to riches one, but it is the next best thing, the kid that gets sand kicked in his face gets even. So we root for the character regardless of how dishonourably he may get there. Given the same opportunity I think most of us would admit we would probably do the same things and genuinely justify it along the way.

I want to credit director David Fincher (Fight Club and Seven) and writer Aaron Sorkin (West Wing) for driving this good idea to its deserving success. I have always been a huge fan of Sorkin. I will watch anything that he is involved with and often suffer through the process of trying to keep up with the high-brow dialogue. However like reading a classic there is a sense of lasting accomplishment when you get through it.

The castings was perfectly done also. Jesse Eisenberg was particularly effective and believable as the Zuckerberg as was Justin Timberlake as the enterprising Napster founder. I'd like to also point out that Andrew Garfield was effective as Zuckerberg's less fortunate but loyal co-founder Eduardo Saverin. Garfield is a sure future star cast as Peter Parker in Mark Webb's reboot of the Spider Man franchise due in 2012.

I have one quibble though with the camera work. Although its probably a personal thing I did not like was the inattention to depth of field in many of the shots. I am guessing Fincher believed that it zeroed the viewer into dialogue at hand by removing any possible distractions (much like staring at a computer screen) but all same I could have done without it and was distracted anyways.

See this film though as it is deserving of the hype and at worst it will give you something to comment about while you are on Facebook.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Neil Young - Le Noise


Neil is back. Not that he ever really went anywhere, but I have been waiting to hear something like this from him for a long time. The folky melancholy is still present in some of the tunes, however here they carry an extra edge. Also on this CD we hear something that has been missing for a decade or so, heavy, angry grunge guitar. Neil touches on his familiar love songs, political commentaries and cries for social justice. But what is new or revisted here is that I feel that I am listening to retro Neil post CNSY and his legendary solo stuff that preceeded that.
I wonder who we have to thank for this bit of time travel? It would have to be Daniel Lanois. As a producer he has had flashes of genius and usually brings with him a distinctive sound and overall atmosphere to the finished project. He has had a reputation for avant guard studio methods and fondness for vintage instrument sound. In Le Noise I sense something is different with Neil yet I don't hear Lanois exactly either. What I did hear though, I like. If its been a while since you bought a Neil CD, this is the one you will need to pick-up to renew your faith that the old man can still rock.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Louis CK and His new Show 'Louis'


When it comes to stand-up comedy this guy is currently the best out there. Although well respected for his television late night writing he has always flown low on the radar. He has written for David Letterman, Conan O'Brien, Dana Carvey and Chris Rock. He even wrote a very popular but critically forsaken movie for Chris Rock, Pootie Tang. His acting career looked promising but he has only ever managed small roles and his HBO series 'Lucky Louie' was cancelled after only one season. I am really hoping that his new series 'Louis' on FX will be seen and heard. Its a spooky mix of dry uncomfortable comedy and occasional serious drama. I've liked it from the start and hope that it can branch beyond FX, as I fear that it is unfortunately doomed as not enough people can see it in this forum.
My purpose in commenting here is a call out to all readers to please try and see this show. If you cannot subscribe to FX then rent or buy the first season on DVD when it comes out. This series is a combination of (mostly original) stand-up and some events that have apparently happened to Louis CK in his life. I am amazed how he writes these seemingly mundane events into entertaining 20-30 minute stories.
My other reason for highlighting this series to to point out that not only is Louis CK a comic genius, I am beginning to be convinced that he has the potential to be a seriously good dramatic actor. If you don't believe me, watch the ninth episode 'Bully'. There is some serious acting and writing showcases in this episode. I might even go as far to say that it might be the most dramatic half-hour that I have seen on the tube in years.
Check it out.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Expendables



Certain things in life are expendable. This movie.

Certain things are not expendable. Your time.

This movie was utter garbage and a waste of time. Stay clear.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard



The camera does not lie. It is objective, and cares not about the slanted views of man and our efforts to protect our self image. At its core ‘The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard’ is about one man’s effort to try and solve the mystery of male/female compatibility. To do this the lead character puts his own relationships at the mercy of the camera and sets out to draw some conclusions through making a film that documents three of his closest past relationships.

While watching ‘Paul Shepard’, I compiled three pages of notes. This might suggest that its story presented much thought provoking material to digest. I am suspicious that its was Jeremy Lalonde’s (the real film’s creator) intention to leave us a little on edge along with the protagonist played nicely here by Kris Holden-Ried.

Paul Shepard takes us along on his personal journey and in the process of documenting allows us to experience with him the folly of his choices and force us to re-evaluate our own relationships. In the process of filming Paul faces his classic man against himself conflict by struggling emotionally with being objective about the film’s story and direction. As all good documentaries bring out a fundamental truth about a subject it could here be argued that the film’s true protagonist is the camera. As without its focused and unbiased view of Paul’s experiences the documentary style and the character’s unfolding journey could not work. As a result the movie works as viewers of this interesting style of filmmaking can identify with its main character and its subject.

Of the three women there is clearly only one real person. The other two are female archetypes of Paul’s own questionable personality traits. The viewers and Paul need to determine what is best for their ongoing happiness. Is it the thrill of consorting with women who accentuate our weaker qualities or walk down the more crooked path with the woman that could bring out some of your better ones?

I almost always enjoy writer/director films as the director understands best what he wants out of the actors’ performances. In this case for most of the scenes we are seeing this penned drama come to its full fruition before us. There is however a few moments when the dialogue could have been less dramatic and forced, as I believe the director may have been trying too hard to have the actor deliver his work truthfully as written.

The production team bring us an experienced crew of actors and a nice look to the movie. I was worried at first that the hand-held feel of the opening scenes would continue throughout the movie. As the story explains however the camera work was at the hands of Paul’s novice teenage nephew Phil. His progressive craftiness over the course of the film was believable and well handled by Zach Melnick the film’s real camera man.

I could have done without a few moments and elements in the film. Paul’s mother was a bit over the top and unbelievable and therefore unnecessary, as was the book signing’s close-up interviews that in my eyes failed to move or contribute to the story. In addition some of the clever dialogue between Paul and his exes was at times overly philosophical and unnatural. I understand that Sadie is an intellectual however some of her nattering failed to be direct or deliberate enough to advance the story or her character’s development. These a minor quibbles.

Ricky Gervais with BBC’s ‘The Office’ made popular this documentary style of story telling. It was clever and innovative for Jeremy Lalonde to borrow from this and allow his main character to turn the camera on himself as an instrument or the catalyst to invoke hindsight and force him to navigate the mistakes and lost opportunities of his past. There is just a nice mixture of new storytelling, acting and fresh funny dialogue to recommend this film. Now if you want to find out what Paul does with all this self revelation then you will have to watch the movie.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Lovely Bones


This movie leaves you numb.

I was spellbound waiting in anticipation of what I knew was to come.
It's rare to know how something is going to turn out and yet still be caught up in the drama as it unfolds for us. For this slight of hand I have to take my hat off to Peter Jackson. Just when you thought he was perhaps a slave to the special effect he reminds you that he is foremost an excellent filmmaker with a unique and special gift for telling a story.

'Lovely' is the way this film draws you into the story with kid gloves. Even the most squimish can share in the difficult and painful subject of loss. 'Lovely' is the performance of the newcomer Saoirse Ronan. Her narration is haunting, natural and drenched in innocence. Her on screen performance is just as good. Although dead for a large portion of the story Alice is alive in her own perfect surreal world where the dead speak to us in the tiny nuances of shared memories. Some of those who read the book may take objection to how Peter Jackson conceptualized this world onto the screen. My answer to them is 'come on' cut the guy a break, it looked fine to me and who out there really knows what it should look like anyways.

The film is a lesson on looking back at loss. It shows us how the families left behind are stuck looking back on what might have been. The story gives us a behind closed doors look at how a premature death destroys a family. We see two obesessions in this film. One family member is driven to hold onto hope while another expeiences a unrelenting need to let go. This opposition can often tear at the seams of a family. As a grief counsellor will tell you, everyone has to experience the grief in their own way and this movie shows us how opposing coping skills can affect a family.

The camera is uncharacteristically neutral when it peers into the killer's life played hauntingly by Stanly Tucci. It chronicals how he progreses from emptiness, to feeling safe, to obsessed, to confidence and finally to the emptiness that he started with when he has finally accomplished his destruction.

Mark Walburg is developping into a very good dramatic and comedic actor. He was great here as the obsessed father.

In the end (without giving anything away here) I think the story teller is trying to suggest that the living can not let the dead go until the dead can let them go. And the dead cannot let them go until they are finished with what they have left undone in the real world. Kind of a nice way to explain the possible existance of ghosts.

Love, its good and its bad has not been so profoundly displayed on film for a long time. I suggest you see this movie.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Clash of the Titans (2010)

One doesn't exactly get you what you pay for here, rather you get what you expect. I wasn't expecting to be blown away or inspired to be a better person when I shelled out my $10.50. What I wanted was for an effective adaptation or upgrade on a childhood classic. Now I'm not suggesting that the original is a classic just that it holds a special place in my movie viewing history.
The acting was acceptable and the action scenes where impressive at times. Avatar's Sam Worthington once again plays the reluctant hero, or in this case demi-god. Anyone could have pulled off this role as the script didn't demand much. It was fun too see some of my favourites like Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes. Fiennes was more of a standout, as the villain's role often proves.
So if you have some tolerance for goofiness and can enjoy well crafted action on its own, you should find some pleasure with this remake.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid


Not much to say here. This is a passable bit of family entertainment. Everyone can probably associate with some part of this movie and one of the dilemmas that the main character or his friend finds themselves in. As a result both kids 8+ and adults should enjoy this. There is a valuable lesson in here as well. I'll let you figure it out on your own. If you need to get out with the kids see this or How to Train Your Dragon, otherwise you can wait for this on DVD as its not necessarily a must for the big screen.


How To Train Your Dragon


It wasn't that long ago (pre Pixar) when the animated genre couldn't catch a break. No matter how entertaining the movie the animated picture historically drew lackluster critical acclaim. Now it seems that the genre enjoys critical acclaim even when the movie fails to live up to our wishes or the expectations set by critics themselves. DreamWorks does earn its metacritic score of 74. A movie like Up sports an 88. Now for entertainment value these two are on par. What sets them apart is that Up and many of the other Pixar pictures like Wall-E embody something more. That special something is a message or lesson to be learned from its characters. Wall-E spoke of the drone affect of dependence on technology, while Up showed us that we are never too old to have dreams. This is what great movies are made of.


There is a bit of a message about the value of being different and that through your own dreams you can often fulfill your dreams or gain the admiration of others. These are admirable but not exactly something that will stick with you. The main character Hiccup is likable and faces the challenge of acceptance and finding a place in his tribe. These are familiar and identifiable barriers facing every generations adolescents.

This is one to see on the big screen especially the great airborne sequences where the 3D technology really breathes.
Many kids movies can be skipped in favour of the DVD release. This one needs to be seen at the cinemas.

Bronson

Reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange this bit of true life is both eerie and amusing at the same time. Bronson is the story of Michael Peterson a UK teen who originally was sentenced to 7 years for armed robbery and has since spent 34 years in prison (30 of which in solitary confinement). His infamous need to be bad ass, celebrity and own the label as the county's most dangerous inmate is what is keeping him behind bars. Warning, you may not like this movie. There are many seemingly senseless beatings, and strange theatre dream sequences you will have to endure to absorb the film maker's full desired affect. In the journey however is one overpowering redeeming quality to this movie and that is the brilliance of Tom Hardy's performance. To pull this role off he could only do one thing. Become Michael Peterson and his alter ego Bronson. There are two central themes here, violence and rock star celebrity. The later being the only possible motivating factor for Michael Peterson's behaviour. Perhaps the film maker or Peterson himself want to draw attention to how the media can incite stardom to those that are not deserving, bringing to light the criticism that by continually printing the details of tragedy the media fuels the ego of the criminal. The only part of that theory that does not make sense is that for Peterson to bask in light of fame he would need to spend more time out of solitary confinement. Perhaps fame can live alone in one's thoughts, even for 30 years.
If you can stand it, watch this movie.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Management

Here we have a romantic comedy with a story that plods along just fast enough to keep us rooting for its real and likeable characters. Steve Zahn is brilliant. He has has had a healthy career as a supporting actor, but teh limelight has seemed to elude his efforts. I first saw him in 1994 in the teen angst flick Reality Bites. I remember him stealing many scenes. The always memorable Zahn may have finally gotten the lead role that he deserves. This recognition seems to have paid off on a few more lead roles still in pre-production; Salesmen (2010) and Johnny Kidd(2011). He also seems to have landed a reoccuring character in the new highly anticipated HBO series "Treme". Now Jennifer Aniston doesn't lack any star power, however this and other film roles seem to provided her with the credibility of being a fine actor and not just a TV comedy icon. I have liked her in the following, Derailed, The Good Girl, and Office Space. Aniston and Zahn play off of each other well here and emit the chemistry that first time director Stephen Belber needed. Look out for him, this is an impressive first crack at the camera.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Save Spider Man


Marc Webb was recently announced as the director for the next Spider Man movie. He has one great movie in his repetoire, but the rest of his catalogue is sketchy:
(500) Days of Summer (2009)
Jesse McCartney: Up Close (2005) (V)
Seascape (2003)
3 Doors Down: Away from the Sun (2002) (V) (video "Duck & Run")
Green Day: International Supervideos! (2001) (V) (video "Waiting")


What do you think?

Better yet, who is your choice to replace Tobey Maguire?

Avatar


A spectacle with a social conscience. We do not have a perfect film here, but the majesty of Cameron’s efforts will make this an enduring classic. This movie for its faults will still be recognized in the history of film. Much like Star Wars was the standard of innovation and pure wonder in my youth, Avatar will be remembered by today’s youth for the same reasons. Star Wars was far from perfect as well, but its overall combination of visuals, originality and the sheer possibilities that it created for films that followed it, set it apart from the stigma of B-movie Sci-Fi’s of its time. Avatar’s weaknesses are similar. The dialogue is sometimes laboured and there were a few campy moments that will ring loud with the reluctant viewers that were dragged to the theatre by eager friends and looking for a reason to criticize. Avatar however is more accessible. We all know people that just can’t accept what they see as the impossible setting and subject matter the science fiction or fantasy genres. Well you won’t see the Avatar setting anywhere in a National Geographic magazine either but the challenges that the human race face in this movie are current and everywhere in the alternative media. Even the non believers have heard about Al Gore’s warnings and on some level can accept some of the environmental claims. So the timeliness of picture is perfect.
What makes the scenic visuals so stimulating is their beauty and the innocence that we can attribute to untouched nature. The Na’vi are those type of pure creatures that we can all like and hope to succeed. Their existence like Earth’s protected species have the same innocence that attracts our social consciousness and activates our protective natures. The 3D features are mesmerizing and not over the top, with the tired plethora of sharp projectiles. Instead the 3D effects compliment the movie and the story. Go figure. No part of the technical brilliance seemed unnecessary or blatant show-boating. So as a result the film affords the viewer with the necessary elements to feel good about our support and recommendations.
Not that the acting or dialogue is unimportant but both are more than adequate, and bringing up the little flaws would seem like nit-picking for a film of this historical significance. So for the same reason I will not highlight any of the individual performances as they all suited the film while none stood out in a memorable way. The one thing worth saying however is that both the Human and Na’vi acted portions of this film could both be characterized as live action acting. In other words there was no drop in entertainment or believability with the transitions between the two featured species. This is truly a phenomenal accomplishment. I cannot recall one movie that pulls off reality to surreal so effectively. This is technology continuity in its highest form. And for the first time I was convinced that any humanoid graphical actor is now a real possibility that will ensure audiences are not cheated of the warmth of real fleshy actors.
So please, make an effort to get to a theatre, the bigger the better and take in this experience the way its meant to be seen which I will assure you will not happen in all of this glory again for quite some time.


Fantastic Mr. Fox




This great little throw back stop-motion animation picture has got me thinking well after seeing it. The more I think about this good-for-all-ages movie the more I like it. The characters surprise you by seeming more lifelike and genuine than any Pixar picture. The small puppet-like creatures have a texture and quirky way that gives off a warmth that can't be replicated with cartoon or CGI animation.
An endearing quality of this film is that we can relate to the characters. We have a man who is going through mid-life crisis and questioning the legacy of his accomlishments. The fox battles father/son tension, career/instinct identity crisis, and the kind of thrill seeking that comes with age and overwhelming need to prove to oneself that you are still alive, daring and a force. The son feels different and inadequate while struggling for his father's attention and comparing himself to his more capable and athletic cousin.
This is just a few examples of the slice of life problems that the characters face through which its safe to say that Wes Anderson the director may have been cleverly providing us with life lesson.
Let me also add that this film is funny and will keep the attention of your children for an hour and a half. George Clooney is a natural and so is the supporting staff.
So I say see this film with the family if you are looking for something different that I can predict will make you feel good and wholoesome.