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.


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.