Tuesday, December 29, 2009

1300 - Adventureland

My wife and I are on this fantastic role of actually watching films instead of just TV series. I wonder if I'm jinxing myself by even mentioning it. I read the script for this film back when it was on the blacklist a year or so ago, and I remember enjoying it quite a bit. Motolla gets that age group and has a penchant for coming-of-age films. I'm not sure if this one is powerful or funny enough to obtain the cult status of his previous effort but it's a solid film nontheless. It feels real. That's what he's good at, creating characters and performances of people that we all know, or at least I knew growing up. This is a movie worth checking out for sure, but it's not the put-it-on-the-top-of-your-list type film. It's more of a make-sure-you-check-it-out-at-some-point film.

Monday, December 28, 2009

TUWOPS: Update!

It's been awhile since I updated about the film so I figured I'd better get on that since people have been asking. I'm going to start with the absolutely worst news and go from there. I wasn't going to write about this, but I think I might as well. As some of you know, my house was broken into on Christmas Day. Which sucked. A lot. We were out of town and our next-window-neighbors (we don't have a door in that part of the house) called us. So instantly we knew something bad had happened. They said our kitchen window was smashed in and it looked like we'd been robbed.

So we rushed home. Sure enough: robbed. And as soon as we got the call my mind thought "What's the absolute worst thing they could take of stuff we have that's worth anything?" My iMac? Well that would suck, but I'm good about backing up most stuff. The worst thing would be the hard-drive I've been editing TUWOPS on since the film is still in the offline stage. Sure enough. Stolen. I can't lie. I cried. Loud. Luckly I had an (old) back-up of the edit project file on a data-stick, and I had uploaded the film to an FTP so music can be composed - so I have an OLD version of the film to work off of and a reference for the locked cut. I'll have to re-digitize all of the footage - which sucks - but it could be worse. It could be gone completely. But because I'm booked full time on Carlawood: season 2, AND starting in January I'm going to be teaching film one morning a week at Niagara College, my free time is nill. I imagine it'll take me a month to get the cut back up to speed. Which is okay because....

We didn't get into Sundance :( We got a nice rejection letter from them, but it was rejection all the same. We continue to submit to festivals, and the earliest the film will screen in one will be late winter, so time is on our side to finish the film. I'm really looking forward to showing it to the cast and crew (but first I have to edit it all over again). Sigh.

In good news for the film, we've got some great musicians now attached to the soundtrack. We're still waiting to get confirmation on some others, but here are the ones that I can officially announce:
  • Amy Millan
  • Timber Timbre
  • The Most Serene Republic
  • Los Campesinos!
So once the rest of the soundtrack is in place I'll announce that as well.

So I'm in a good place. In fact my computer stuff wasn't the worst that was stolen. My wife, Emily, lost some family jewlery that is irreplacable. So my film, which is not gone, just set-back, seems small in comparison. And they stole some other random stuff including Ephraim's umbrella stroller (seriously, who steals a kid's stroller?!)...

So that's it for now. I'll keep you up to speed. Plan is to start re-diging the footage this week and get to work. Going to sit down with the rest of the post team in the new year and figure out a schedule to finish this bad boy and get it out into the world. I'll keep you up to date with how it all unfolds!

1299 - Paper Heart

Another film I wanted to check out when it was in theatres. Hell I wanted to check this film out the absolute second I heard about it because I had an immense amount of fear that it was identical to the feature I directed this summer. So, a sigh of relief, it's all fine. There's some similarities, sure - but they're different films through and through. This really is a lovely film. There's some real honest documentary sections with some fantastic home-made recreations. The B-Story relationship stuff feels a little bit fabricated, 'cause it is, but the moments feel real enough, and the moments they choose to make are pretty interesting and inspired. I feel like it's real even if I know that the moment is not. Does that make any sense whatsoever?
I'll be interested to see what Jasenovec does after this as he seems to have some chops going on here. The guy playing Nick was fantastic, and that was some of the best parts of the film, watching someone struggle between getting the good stuff and letting their friend be.
Strongly recommend checking it out if you're at all interested. It's not your typical romantic comedy by any means, but it's a nice little piece and I think it'll put a smile on your face.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

1298 - (500) Days of Summer

I really wanted to love this film. I really enjoyed the script when I'd read it a long time ago, but fleshed out… I don't know… it worked in very small moments here and there. And the worst part is that I'm a fan of the actors involved. But here… they just didn't work. They were cast properly I'm sure. I just don't know what it was. It's almost as if the production team was more focused on getting the quirky bits right and completely missed the point of the emotion. I wanted to FEEL what Tom was feeling. The excitement, the anger, the roller coaster of emotions that comes along with falling for the wrong person. But instead I was just brought along to watch. It was okay. I didn't hate it like I know some people did, but I didn't love it. And I'm not sure I can recommend it. If you had planned to see it anyway, go for it, but if you're looking for an indie-gem - I'm not sure that this is it for you. Really wish I'd felt differently.

1297 - Scrooged

Every year I like to watch a Christmas film or two to get into the spirit. More often than not it's Muppet's Christmas Carole, but I only have it on VHS and since we always come up to the farm for the holidays, unless I watch it before hand it never works out. For those who don't know, my mother died just before Christmas when I was a teenager, and for many years the Muppet film was the only thing that got me into the holiday spirit. I've gotten past that now, but I still look forward to showing that film to Ephraim when he's old enough. The same goes with this film.

Every year I intend to watch this film and then get annoyed when I realize that I don't actually own it. So I made a special point today of picking up a copy. It's the same old story we all know, but it's just so damn entertaining. It's definitely a product of the eighties, it SCREAMS eighties at certain points, but that being said it's still very watchable and without-a-doubt a Christmas classic. Bill Murray is stellar here. His career around this time was quite the thing. You've got your Ghostbusters, in another half-decade Groundhog Day. His people knew how to find solid projects for him.

So if you've never see this film chances are by the time you read this (I'm writing on Christmas Eve, but probably won't post till several days after) it'll be past Christmas Day, and I can't imagine you'll watch this until next holiday season - however, it's definitely one of those films you have to see. It might not be as funny now as it was back then, but it's still a fun little ride..

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

1296 - Funny People

So I suppose today was my double-feature of director's third outings. I missed this in the theatre. Haven't been keeping as current with the little guy around now. Thank goodness films come to DVD so quickly. It's interesting to see Apatow's directing career and how it differs from his career as a producer and writer.
There's some great stuff in here, so great jokes, and some wonderful insightful little bits about the human spirit. Based loosely on Gatsby this film has much warmth to it. It's long but I didn't feel it as badly as I probably should have. The pace was there. The performances entertaining. I have to admit I have a bit of a crush on Leslie Mann. Rogen and Sandler both at the top of their game.

1295 - Up in the Air

Jason Reitman could just be my biggest inspiration/influence in terms of newer filmmakers. He's a force. With each film he gets more refined. To the point where we have this, which is, for all intent and purposes, pretty much flawless from where I stand. From a technical standpoint it's just beautiful. The cinematography is elegant and homemade when it needs to be. Teaming up with the production design it creates a world that looks very familiar to us, eerily so. In my opinion this film is an absolute triumph for all involved and you should see it as soon as humanly possible. In a time where I often wait for films to be on the cheap used rack at Blockbuster, I'll pay full price for this one the day that it's released.
It's a film full of honesty and heart. Subtle humor and great pathos. See it. Please. Please. Please. Please.

Friday, December 18, 2009

1294 - Californication: season three

Here's a show that has moments of absolute perfection, however they're few and often padded beside episodes that are more or lesser filler. I wish it weren't true. The fact that the premise of the show is pretty thin, so it's spreading itself almost as thin. Which is a shame. I think they could go deeper and bolder, which if my thoughts are correct, that's where they're heading going into the fourth season. With a devastating and pitch perfect season finale I can't wait to see where they take the fourth season. This season came back fighting after a pretty lackluster season two. Keep it up Hank!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

1293 - Dexter: season four

Holy fucking hell. I have to force myself not to give away any spoilers - but good goddamn. What a season. What an ending! Hot damn. This season did an amazing job of edging towards Dexter becoming more human and with that he became messier to boot. It was beautiful to watch. And Jennifer Carpenter was stellar this season - shame she wasn't nominated. Lithgow and Hall have already been nominated for Golden Globes. It would be amazing to not see at least one of them take home the prize.

Having now re-watched the episode it's just… devastating to watch. It's effected me deeply in a way I can't recall from storytelling in a LONG time. Emily was a wreck after watching it. Dexter is hands down her favourite show, but she's not sure she wants to watch the next season (which is something considering when she realized this was the season's final episode she was very disappointed). I know that come next fall she'll be all about it.

What they did was a game-changer. It was like pressing reset on the series in a very interesting and challenging way. They could literally do almost anything now. And with their show runner Clyde Phillips exiting, it's a whole new day for Dexter and his Dark Passenger. Can't wait to see where it goes.

Monday, December 14, 2009

1292 - Leatherheads

This film had a wonderful charm about it. Clooney clearly loves screwball comedies, and as a director he owns it. Zellweger absolutely owns every moment of her fast-talking-reporter. John Krasinski shows that he's more than just the guy from The Office here. There's a few features he's been in recently that I need to catch up on.
With a charming score from Randy Newman this film is a delight from beginning to end. A great little story that holds everything together. I highly recommend this.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

1291 - Eagle Eye

D.J. Caruso makes better films than the advertising or premises would lead you to believe. While this and his previous Disturbia, I suppose, could be billed as popcorn flicks, he's much more than just a popcorn flick director. Here's a guy who knows how to grab you and take you for a ride. I'm in the moment during this entire film, I'm with them. I'm feeling it. He doesn't over plan the sentiment and he doesn't underplay the emotion. He's masterful. The film is far better than it needs to be, which is not meant to be an insult, it just means that with the premise it could have been more over the top, but the film was actually, in a weird way, somewhat relevant and believable. If nothing else, a realistic cautionary tale letting us know that information is sacred and shouldn't be taken advantage of.

It's more than a popcorn flick, I believe, however if that's all you're looking for to watch then it works for that as well. Another great performance from the on-the-rise leading man Shia, as well as a lovely outing for the gorgeous Michelle Monaghan. Check it out if you're at all interested in seeing it.

1290 - Vantage Point

This film was more or less underwhelming. It has a very interesting premise that ends up feeling a bit episodic and over played by about halfway in. Although that's also around the same point that it started to get a lot more interesting.

My main issue with this film is that you never get a clear sense of the 'why' - it seems to be more about clever story telling techniques rather than good story telling in general. If there's a message to be had here I missed it completely. Overall it's just simply 'meh'. Don't bother unless you were super intrigued by the premise. But don't expect the kind of mystery/thriller where you can figure it out along the way. This film is carefully designed so the only way it can come together is if they spoon-feed you the answers at the end - and that they do… all expect why it all happened - apparently that's not as important as the style of the film.