Thursday, September 8, 2011
Friday, September 2, 2011
In this post I'd like to share an opinion that I have and many of my friends also have. If you are anything like me, you are annoyed at the product that Hollywood is selling. Before you jump all over me, let me explain my position.
This post is written from two perspectives: as a student of film and as a consumer. In college, I spent four years studying film theory, film production and screenwriting and mention this not to proclaim the superiority of my opinion but to explain that I have been exposed to a variety of different genres of film from experimental to early hollywood films. These films are some of the wildest and most interesting films I've ever seen. Because of this exposure I continue to search for the innovation and originality in every movie experience. Here's an example:
The summer movie season of 2011 is one of the worst I can remember if originality is one of the judging criteria. There were at least five comic book movies, nine sequels and three reboots, not to mention the couple cross-pollinating comic book movie-sequels. That is the nature of Hollywood. If I'm spending 100 million dollars on a movie I'm going to make sure that it's going to reach as broad an audience as I can. Banking on recognizable names is the way to reach that broad audience: the highest grossing films of 2010 were Toy Story 3, Alice in Wonderland, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. Sequel, Reboot, Sequel.
I'm not here to bitch about how Hollywood isn't original, rather I'm here to offer an alternative. If you are going to go to the movies, try to find an independent theater around you. I went to the movies four times the entire summer, and saw four movies: Super 8, Midnight in Paris, Tree of Life and a second run of Win Win. I went to the large mall multiplex once to see Super 8, but for the others I went to the Spectrum. It runs the best selection of films including small indies, local filmmakers, one night only live theater events, and foreign films.
Another and more viable option is to search out movies that you want to see. With the advent of Twitter and the internet film has been democratized and everything including film has become more interactive. Follow and like independent filmmakers and keep track of what they are doing. Chances are they might be self-distributing their films and they are easily found after a quick google search.
There are also several sites that allow you to pay per movie including Amazon Rentals, Netflix original movies and sites that specialize in distributing independent film sites. In the era of HDTV's your home can become your personal screening room. The point of this post is to encourage you, the viewer, to take charge of their entertainment. Don't settle for something that you don't want to see. Hollywood will eventually follow the money to where you, the consumer, is spending it.
Instead of dragging your girlfriend into see Spiderman 119, find new and interesting alternatives, whether that's a movie you downloaded and paid for on your computer, a live film screening, or a trip to the local independent theater. Besides the indie theater has the best popcorn.
Friday, August 26, 2011
I know a lot of people who love comic book movies. Curiously, of those people I know, very few actually read comics. This may or may not lead to some comic book movies being unfortunately passed by or panned.
I'm not here to make any claims as to why or why not a person doesn't read comics. What I will say is that Hulk (2003) is a super hero movie that emulates a comic book very well.
Part of Hulk's legacy is that the movie holds the record for second biggest box office drop for a movie that premiered at number one. This is not a movie that the critics or audiences were fond of.
Since its release, Hulk has limped along as a footnote in Marvel's cinema library. It was the first Marvel franchise to be rebooted. (Yes, there was a Punisher movie made in 1989 and then one made in 2004. The Incredible Hulk was the first Marvel movie referenced as a reboot.) Not to mention the above "record."
So what makes Hulk worth of a second chance?
The visual palette and aesthetics are astonishingly good. This is especially true for the editing. In Hulk, every scene, every moment, every sequence looks as if it were lifted directly off a comic book page. Some sequences ever feature an editing style that uses "panels."
It seems to me that audiences in 2003 weren't ready for such an extreme visual style. But as movies like Sin City and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World show, borrowing comics' visual vocabulary can be immensely beneficial to a comic book movie's success. Hulk was one of the first movies to bridge the gap between printed comic and film.
The most prevalent complaint about Hulk is that the movie is too slow. What most call slowness, I call emotional depth. Yes, the Hulk is a giant green monster who smashes things. That should be part of a Hulk movie. And it was apart of this Hulk movie. On the other hand, Dr. Bruce Banner is a character so afraid of his emotions that he is in a constant state of internal turmoil. That is what Hulk as a movie is about. Even the two most important side characters in the movie -- Betty Ross and General Ross -- reflect the two sides of Banner: emotional openness and repression.
Again, it was a timing issue that worked against Hulk. From movies like The Dark Knight to A History of Violence, we've seen that it is possible to have an emotionally complex comic book movie.
I often wonder if Hulk would have been better received if the filmmakers had known that Marvel was going to have a grand unification movie universe. Perhaps the film could have had a different plot that worked in concert with the other Marvel movies but still be a movie with a strong emotional core.
Hulk is not the best superhero movie. Not by a long shot. The film tends to rush past important plot points. The acting is a little wooden too. However, Hulk is a movie that got an unfair shake the first time around and deserves a second chance.
Friday, August 19, 2011
The first film I recommend you watch "Quick! Before it Expires" is 1969. It is the directorial debut of Ernest Thompson, who wrote the play and the Academy Award winning adaptation of On Golden Pond. And while 1969 lacks the critical success of On Golden Pond, it still an interesting film that is written by a talented author and contains some good performances by a talented cast, including Kiefer Sutherland, Bruce Dern, Robert Downey Jr., and Winona Ryder.
1969 revolves around two young "hippies" (Sutherland and Downey Jr.) who are living their Beatnik dream: traveling around the United States in the summer while attending college to prevent their draft during the rest of the year. The plan backfires when Ralph (Downey Jr.) flunks out.
The movie has really good moments including the scene where Ralph overdoses on LCD and announces that he's flunked out of college at Beth's high school graduation. The film has some faults such as a cheesy ending, an underdeveloped romance between Downey Jr's Ralph and Winona Ryder's Beth, and it's a bit frantic and whimsical, much like the year it is set in. However the bad is greatly overshadowed by a sense of nostalgia that comes close to never reaches sentimentality. Many who remember the year 1969 will enjoy the flashback, while those too young or too stoned will enjoy the early performances of some great young actors.
You have 9 days from now (8/19/11) before it leaves the Instant Queue
Friday, August 12, 2011
- Two characters have a conversation about vigilantism. Not a conversation about whether it's good or bad, but a conversation about the best weapons to use.
- One character is tortured.
- One character almost dies and we see an extended sequence of the attack on him.
- A woman gets the shit slapped out of her.
- One supporting character robs a main character's wallet.
- Donatello: Ha. You're claustrophobic.
Casey Jones: What? I've never even looked at another guy.
- Sam Rockwell is in it.
- The villain is crushed by a garbage truck.
- One character comes dangerously close to sexually assaulting another.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Friday, July 8, 2011
Zodiac is the best movie to revolve around a true crime story. Hands down. The acting, directing, and photography is all secondary to the way in which Zodiac tells the real life story of the Zodiac Killer. (That's not to dismiss the acting or directing or photography. Everything in this movie is top notch. This film lands in the top five for everyone involved. One of Robert Downey Jr's top five; One of Jake Gyllenhaal's top five; One of David Fincher's top five, etc.)