Thursday, January 28, 2010

1311 - Trust

I've only seen a handful of Hal's films, and all of them older, none of his recent ones. He's an interesting filmmaker in that he seems to be continually playing with variations on the same character. These ones were based a little more in grounded terms. I enjoyed it, but it didn't take my breathe away by any means. It was cool seeing a young Edie Falco. If you're a fan of Hal's work it's probably worth checking out, but it's a very slow, character driven piece. Not for all.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

1310 - World's Greatest Dad

I've wanted to see this film for sometime now. I think that Bobcat is a very interesting storyteller. I haven't seen his very first film, but I enjoyed "Sleeping Dogs Lie" and looked forward to seeing what he would do next. He's really into the darker side of people, and how people deal with that side of themselves. He's not scared of dark subject matter and injects it with the proper amount of heart and indifference. On many levels this film is a wonderful slap in the face in terms of how we glorify the dead mostly just because they're dead. And how it affects us, what we do with it. It's a funny, sad, outrageous, honest film. This isn't laugh-riot Robin Williams, but it also isn't creepy One Hour Photo, Robin Williams. It's just good. Please see this film. And please pay to see it. I want Bobcat to make more films.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

1309 - Sex Drive

Okay. Honestly. I wasn't prepared for this movie being as good as it is. Seriously. There's more funny per sequence here than need be and than expected. And it's a good thing. The cast is really quite delightful, especially Clark and Amanda. Sean Anders has quite the slate coming up as a screenwriter and he seems to be the go-to guy for this kind of film right now. More power to him. I look forward to his further projects. And seriously, this film is a million times better than you ever expected. If you want to see the kind of film John Hughes would make today if he was a generation later, this is it. It really is a funny, sometimes sweet film, that's a lot of fun.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Irredeemable #2

Whizzed through this one. And. Now. I. Have. To. Wait. Blast! This is the problem with discovering a series in it's infancy. You don't get the advantage of being able to blast through a bunch of back-books. You just have to admire the brilliance and wait. Alas. Luckily I have a rather large pile of movies, books, and comics that are just screaming at me to be digested. So I'll wait... patiently. But not too patiently. In case you can't tell - I really dig this book.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

1308 - Rififi

I'm a member of and so I have a big list of films on that site for them to mail to me. Hundreds actually. So often when I get a film in the mail from them I don't remember why I asked for it. This one, being a Criterion narrows it down. But I still don't know why. I'm always interested in crime films - especially older ones as they're usually a good story to draw from for inspiration. I found this one to be a little... dry. Nothing against it but I found myself disengaging and getting a little bored with it. Some nice moments but altogether underwhelming.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Irredeemable #1

So to cleanse my palette between editions of LXG (that's right, I'm using the crappy movie's acronym for 'League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and now I've written it out fully, rendering the acronym pointless... alas...) I've decided to dig into this, relatively new, comic series.

So above is a small sample of what it's about, in a way. Here's the pitch for the series: "One day Superman wakes up and says "Fuck you" to the world and goes from being the world's greatest hero to the world's greatest villain. The writer's thesis statement is that it's essentially insane to assume that everyone who is give super-powers is emotionally stable enough to be able to handle them. There are only two books in the series so far, so I'll probably read the other right away (it's a quick read and goddamn addictive).

So yeah, I've been on a major comic bend lately, and will probably continue to be for the near future as I have a seemingly unlimited resource coming in through a story editor I'm working with on a television series. So I'm taking advantage of the resource while the project lasts. Once I've completed the re-edit of my film I'll get back into watching movies on a more regular basis - which could be sooner rather than later.

So the short of it is that this is a great book with promise for a great series. I'm interested to see how they'll sustain this idea in the long run.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

1307 - Wolverine

For some reason I remember this film getting quite the flack when it first came out. I'm not sure why. I mean, it's nothing amazing or brilliant, but it's nowhere near the shitfest that was the last X-Men film. There's some logistics that I'm not sure add up, but I'm not going to be super-picky when it comes to popcorn flicks. The biggest problem with films like this that are prequels is that it loses any real sense of danger in that you know some characters are going to make it out just fine. Other than that it's a completely watchable film. Not sure it warrents a sequel - but I'm fairly curious about the Deadpool film that's currently in development - having known nothing of that character prior to watching this.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Volume 1

I was late to come to this book, and I've never seen the (apparently awful) film version. So outside of already knowing (kind-of) whom the team was made up of, I was a bit of a virgin on this one. I have to say, it took me a little while to get into it because I was wired for Bendis' Powers books, but once I got into the rhythm of it it was quite a bit of fun. Outside of doing the mash-up of characters from other stories (something I almost always enjoy) it was just a clever little story and a nice introduction to this world and these characters. The story and action is a bit popcorn-lite in a sense, but it's background, characters, and ideas are quite sophisticated. I look forwarding to digging into the other volumes.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Powers: #12 - The 25 Coolest Dead Superheroes of All Time

So that's that. I'm up to date. Trade wise that is. I believe that they're three issues into their newest run. But... I'm kinda good to take a break. Especially since this last book wrapped things up quite well. In fact, if someone told me that this was the last Powers book, I think I'd be cool with it. It brought a major story to conclusion, and gave a lot of their cast of characters something to do in it. If I were to do Powers as a trilogy of films (no way you could cram it all into one and do it justice) this would be a perfect place to end the third one.

I'm very curious to see where they could go from here. Not to say that there isn't room to go places, there's definitely enough stuff going on - but the way this one ends... let's just say it will be interesting. Now I can breathe and read other books and get back to trying to watch movies from time to time. Although I've finally got all the outstanding pieces of my film back together so I can hit that full force as well.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Powers: #11 - Secret Identity

Eleven down, one more to go. I'm chewing through these things like they're going out of style. I can't help it. Obsession rules. It means that I'm probably missing a lot of wonderful subtle detail, but I fully intend on picking up my own copy of this series at some point and going back through to enjoy the details more. The series has gone in a wonderfully dark tone. I have it on good authority that the next book will end a big story arc, so I'm excited to see how it wraps up things. Like I said about the last book, I should be raving more but I'm just so used to it being good, and I'm chewing through them quickly. This series really delves into a lot of interesting areas that the major comic-chains just can't touch, and it does it so well. Chock full of fantastic characters and intriguing ideas - it's a must read.

Powers: #10 - Cosmic

After this one there's only two books left before I'm completely caught up on this series. And I'm kinda sad about it. And the irony is that the book has gotten SO good that an installment like this, which is full of amazing stuff, doesn't blow my mind - because I now EXPECT this book to be this good. So it's an odd thing to say, I suppose - that it's amazing, but it doesn't knock my socks off. I think in a way it does, but also I've been trying to figure out where I would go with this story and the book is doing some similar things. Not to say it's predictable. I'm just a tad obsessed. There is a really lovely creative narrative device that they use in this book that fits it well.

In a series where almost every new book is a game-changer of sorts I look forward to the next two before I have to wait an eternity to continue the story... it's okay... there's enough on my pile otherwise that I've been neglecting.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Powers: #9 - Psychotic

So while I didn't leave this installment with the "holy shit" factor, there's still some wonderful things going on inside of these pages. This almost feels like the beginning of a new chapter in the powers story, one that will grow over the next couple of issues. There's an interesting story going on inside of here, and the usual themes are in full force. In the supplemental material in the back of the book there's an in depth interview with Bendis & Oeming where they reveal that a lot of the plotlines for the superheroes are lifted from the life stories of rock stars and bands. Interesting and very revealing. Glad to know that I'm not the only one who does this sort of thing. I'm not sure yet, but every now and then I think that Powers is slowly becoming my favorite series. It's not quite there yet. But it's definitly up there.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

1306 - Suzanne's Career

Eric Rohmer is dead. Not that he was a young man snuffed out in his prime, but still. Years ago I bought the "Six Moral Tales" Criterion box-set, and so in honor of the man I've vowed to finally finish watching the rest of the films in it, as well as the supplemental material which includes several of Rohmer's short films. I'm flirting with the idea of trying to do a short this spring/summer, just to keep myself sharp and experiment with a few more directing muscles.

For those of you who don't know Rohmer, he's worth looking into. I could go into great detail myself, but I'll show you a quote from Harry Knowles at ain't-it-cool that pretty much sums it up:

No filmmaker has done more to betray the male gender than Eric Rohmer. Consider this an indirect admission that, yes, we really are as silly, obsessed, weak-willed and, if granted enough independence, self-destructive as the protagonists in all of the director’s pictures, but, specifically, the fools and cads in his first cinematic cycle, Six Moral Tales. Nothing is good enough, the women we most desire are never the ones we’re with, and our timing is generally awful. The only thing that separates the dimmest from the brightest among us is our degree of honesty – with our lovers and ourselves – and the quality of our inner monologue; so, while Rohmer has scandalously exposed his fellow man as a hopeless, helpless hypocrite, at least he’s had the common courtesy to make us all sound sparklingly literate!

That Rohmer stages these minor tragedies of desire with seemingly intelligent men only elevates the squirm factor; the transgressions and general foolishness grow more despicable the more they’re rationalized. This is what we do every day, and it’s only societal mores and religious beliefs that keep us from acting on instinct at any given moment. Rohmer’s triumph is that he has his men deal with the ubiquitous nearness of sin without allowing them to commit the deed, because, contrary to what Hollywood might tell you, that’s how it plays out most of the time.

Women, if you’re looking for comfort, that’s going to have to suffice. Welcome to our mind, and, please, watch your step.

This film, Suzanne's Career, isn't the best of Rohmer's work that I've seen, but it's still quite interesting to watch. The performances are bland, but the ideas are grand and so it helps to elevate them. But to that end the people, and moments, feel real and honest. Unfortunately for us, we know these characters. Hell, we are some of them.

I look forward to more of Rohmer, and I want to try and dig into some of the more recent stuff he did to see what he got up to in his later years.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Powers: #8 - Legends

Back from their epic-length tangent, the Powers explore a world where things have changed, drastically, and are about to change even more. I never would have believed I'd be as hooked on this series as I am given how I felt about it in the early books. It really is a fantastically entertaining series. I want to say so much more but I don't want to give away any of the glorious details found within here. If you're a fan of graphic novels this is a must-have series. I've been borrowing it from a friend, but I can't imagine not buying the entire series at some point. It's just that good.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Powers: #7 - Forever

And the obsession continues... So this book is a beautiful tangent away from the main Powers storyline, and it comes at a good point in time - with the main story about to shift in a whole new direction it was nice to look back and fill in some blanks and answer some questions that have been sitting around. I can't IMAGINE having been a fan and having to contend with this storyline while wanting the main storyline to continue - I mean with the collections I can sift through this quickly and then get right back into it, but the ongoing issues took weeks inbetween. Big props to the patience of those who were cool with that, because this is a really rewarding and interesting book. Brave of the authors as well. I dig it. I might take a break from Powers for a little bit and catch up on Jack of Fables in anticipation of Fables #13 coming out next month - it's a cross-over issue so I think that I need to be caught up to get the fullness of what's going on in that world. That and I've got a stack of movies to watch, and I've promised myself that I'm going to try and be better about reading actual books this year. Crazy though, huh?

Friday, January 08, 2010

Powers: #6 - The Sell-Outs

I'm probably starting to sound like a broken record as I review this series, but it does keep getting better and better. Deeper. More interesting and entertaining. By having created this alternate super-hero universe Bendis has a very large sandbox to play in and boy does he play! And he's able to go to places that the big-two can't. And he's goddamn ruthless in a delicious way. He'll take this world in whatever damn direction he pleases and I love him for it. The end of this book came with a very large game-changer for this series. Really excited to see where he takes it from here.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Powers: #5 - Anarchy

Okay. So clearly I'm on board with this comic series now. And to think I almost gave up on it. This issue was a really really quick read, and really pushed the story and characters into a new direction. There's some great discussions in this volume about the idea of superheroes to begin with, and what happens to our society when we look to others to protect us. Lots us stuff to chew on and make you think. I like it. As a side note, the graphic novel collections are packed with really great extras, Bendie and Oeming are never shy about discussing their craft, which is nice. Worth checking out for sure. I'll be honest, it takes until the fourth book for this series to really start cooking, but it's worth getting through. You could probably skip the third book altogether and not miss a whole hell of a lot.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

1305 - The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

I saw the original almost a year ago when this was being advertised. I have to be honest in that I'd never really heard of it before the remake. Sorry, but it's true! Over all I enjoyed it. It's a popcorn flick so you go in with those expectations and it's a fun enough ride. I think that some of the changes they made are really quite smart. I thought that Travolta, as a villain was less intelligent than his Robert Shaw counter-part, and I was hoping for just a little bit more from that regard. I liked that he was no nonsense and did exactly what he said he'd do though.

So it's exactly the film you expect it to be, and the frenetic coke-addled energy of Tony Scott isn't overbearing here, in fact it adds a nice layer to it.

Check it out if you're even remotely interested.

Powers: #4 - Supergroup

Don't mind me as I take my foot firmly out of my mouth. So after having read the third in this series I said that I this series was merely okay, and that I don't have time for merely okay comics. Well. Powers is no longer merely okay. I said I'd give it one more volume, and as if by fate, this thing did cartwheels in a new direction. Really really great. To the point where the last volume almost seems like a bonus feature. Now, it still is a far way away from being my favorite series, but considering that I was about to give up on it after the last one, and now I can't wait to dig into the next volume, that's a big step forward.
I'd like to see this made into a T.V. series. I think that could be really great (or terrible) depending how it's handled. Some great writing in these pages. It's really starting to come into it's own.

Monday, January 04, 2010

TUWOPS - The Re-Edit Begins

It's no surprise that, having picture-locked the film, I was a bit disheartened at the idea of having to re-edit it. Not from scratch mind you, but close enough. I backed up the project in several locations for fear of drive-failure, however I never took into account theft. It's my own fault I suppose and it won't happen again in the future. Having been trained as an editor I should no better. Alas. So for now I work from an old project file in addition to the picture lock quicktimes that I'd made for the composers of the film.

We're back up at the farm for New Years and I'm digitizing the footage in the background of our relaxing festivities and I have to admit that it's nice to see all the footage coming in again. Makes me miss being on set. The process. The people. I don't think that there's a single actor in this film that I wouldn't jump at the chance to work with again.

Part of me wants to take this opportunity to re-examine the footage, and part of me doesn't want to give our burglars that satisfaction that they were able to have a positive effect on the film. With the outstanding music there was always going to be a little minor tweaking anyway. We'll see. I'll keep this blog updated as I re-cut the film.

Also as a way to motivate me getting into better shape and out of bad holiday-eating habits I've decided that after my birthday next week I'm going to put myself on a strict regiment until the film is completely finished and we have the cast & crew screening, which I'm hoping, given out setbacks, will be sometime in late February or early March as I'm not really sure how long it's going to take me to re-cut the film given everything else that's currently going on. That and given the low-budget nature of the project we're not at the top of the priority list for the companies that are going to be working on our post-production finishing. We've got the film submitted to several festivals at this point, but none have confirmed screening dates so time is on our side so far as that is concerned.

1304 - Star Trek

I'm not a Trekie. In fact I think, maybe that I watched a few episodes of Next Generation when I was a kid and that was ONLY because the guy from Reading Rainbow was on it. I'm familiar with the characters enough and somewhat of the storyline just from pop culture, and so I'm not locked down to stuff like fanboys are. So I loved what they did with the time travel storyline. The way they were able to honor the original timeline in a way while keeping themselves completely free to do whatever they want. Like a get-out-of-jail card. Really clever.
So not a whole lot to say except it was a fun little ride. It's not going to make me want to go out and start from the beginning and watch all the Star Trek that's out there (I can't even imagine how long that would take) but it is an entertaining film and I'll check out the inevitable sequel for sure.

1303 - Away We Go

It's been two days since I saw this film, and it's going to be a different review than if I'd written about it right away. Right away I thought this was a pretty sweet little film. John and Maya are really really enjoyable, and they're believable as a couple and I dig them. Upon reflection what this film really is is an examination of different finds of families and how they work, using these two as a way to get to them. It's contrived, and that's okay. That's how these kind of films have to be to show a diverse group of people with varying opinions. I guess the problem I have in further reflection on this film is that the groups of people are a little too stereotypical for me. I feel like I want these two to remain unbiased, but there's a definite bias with the filmmakers. Some characters are left to feel real and others being characatures and I don't think it's fair to the mindset of the people that they're meant to represent. As a person who has pretty specific views and opinions on how I want my family to be, and a strong view of how I see other people's families, I thought the film was a bit... judgmental. That being said, I recommend it. I want to revisit it and check out the extras on the DVD. It's a film I need to watch more to see if some of my reservations are intentional, and what those intentions might just be.

1302 - Run Fatboy Run

This was a pretty by-the-numbers film. It does just about what you expect. What disappointed me the most in this film is the love-triangle. They were setting up the Hank Azaria character as a pretty decent dude, and then they go the asshole route which is SO EASY. Of course she's not going to pick him in the end. He's an asshole! So our hero has to work that much less to win her over. It's a poor weak choice that I expected from lesser filmmakers. Alas.
So this is an okay film. It's not horrible, there's some funny bits to it, but it's nothing spectacular. See it if you already had prior interest.

1301 - Quantum of Solace

I LOVED Casino Royale. I thought it had an energy and rawness that we'd never seen from James Bond. Although that's the trend now, isn't it? For reboots to add raw and gritty. And that makes them original and fresh. Ironic that it's getting stale.
So going into this I was excited. And then quickly I wasn't. I was lost for at least the first half of the film. I had NO idea what was going on. So all of the action sequences had zero context for me, and so were kinda meaningless. I didn't know why they needed to catch so-and-so and so I didn't care. And then half-way through I caught up. Kinda. What I really wanted more of was Gemma Arterton's Strawberry Fields. I thought there was a nice classic dynamic to her and I wanted to see it expanded. Although what happened to her was in true Bond fashion.
So, for me, this was a step back from the last installment. Too busy and chaotic. Too much action for the sake of it. Give me a story that I can latch onto damnit!

Powers: #3 - Little Deaths

I got turned onto this comic series recently and in addition to my writing about television and films I'm going to keep a little dialogue about the graphic novel series I'm reading as well.
I'm not entirely sure how I get about 'Powers' to be completely honest. There's some really great back-and-forth-banter-dialogue going on in here, but that alone isn't enough. More often than now I find myself wanting to get to the point. The series itself takes place in a world where people with powers are normal. And there's a cop, Walker, who is a former Power, that is the go-to-guy for dealing with crimes involved with Powers. So that's interesting and intriguing. But the stories they tell are just kind of 'meh'. I mean besides slowly teasing us about Walker's past there isn't a whole hell of a lot of intrigue or a sense of some bigger over-all story going on here. I mean, there's definitely some commentary here about the idea of super heroes realistically surviving in society, but it feels a little like Watchmen-lite to me. I've got two more of these books outstanding to read, and I will read them, but if it doesn't pick up I'm gonna set it down. There are too many great comic series out there to spend time on ones that are 'just okay'.

My Reading Material

I'm a bad reader. There I've said it. In fact, I'm a horrible reader. I think about some of my influences as writers/filmmakers and some of their profound influences and it just overwhelms me a little bit. We live in an age where there is just so much content. And with the internet more is being created every day. To call it over saturation would be an under-exaggeration. I find that the books I do read are either on the craft of writing or filmmaking, or for enjoyment more and more I lean towards graphic novels - which is also in part of studying the craft as I'm constantly flirting with the idea of writing a comic. I was never a big comic geek when I was a kid. I had a bunch, mostly because my cousin was a comic geek and passed a lot of his collection on to me. But in truth it just seemed like this vast universe that was impossible to catch up on. Even now I can't be bothered with the storylines that follow the major DC & Marvel characters such as Spiderman, Batman, Superman, or the various X-Men. Sure, I've read some of the big series stuff they've done with those characters, but personally I gravitate towards more singular series comics: Fables, or Y: The Last Man. I just dropped a wad of cash on a bunch of books that I'll comment on more here when I get around to reading them. Hopefully sooner rather than later. I've recently switched my subway-commute time from podcast listening to reading and so I find I am catching up more than I have been in recent years.
I know I should read more novels, and I want to. I've got a stack of them. But it just seems like such an effort. And I hate that I feel that way about it. It could be that between work, family, and side-projects my leisure time is more or less non-existent and so when I do get a chance to absorb content I want to be able to do it in a short period of time and so movies, tv-series, or comics just fit into that a bit better. With a book I want to know I can read it within a few days to keep track of the storyline, and because that's rarely an option, I don't pick them up. It's just intellectual-guilt, I suppose. But I just feel like life is too short to read or watch something that you're interested in only because you know you should be - regardless of its quality or value in society. So I just need to come to terms with knowing that I'll probably never be a well read individual. And that's okay. For me.