Wednesday, March 28, 2012

1712 - Chasing Amy

Its been a long time since I've seen this film (fun fact - it was the first DVD I ever bought!) and I didn't think I'd be revisiting it while gearing up for Sex After Kids, but here we are.  Kevin Smith was never considered a particularly strong visual filmmaker - and especially not in this time period of his career.  More often than not he just lets the camera run and the actors do their thing.  And while this film is not visually appealing it doesn't take away from the impact either.  It's funny watching this now, the script itself is a bit weak in terms of how 'speecy' it is.  There's kind of a lack of flow while characters are far more verbose than they ever actually need be.  I love a lot of it, but someone really needed to go through this script and be a bit brutal about the speeches.  A lot more could be said with a little.
That being said I still enjoy this and likely always will.  It was a shame that it didn't do more for Adams, as I think she's pretty wonderful here.  If you've never see it it's absolutely classic Kevin Smith, and it's also probably his artiest, more engaging film in that regard.  Well worth checking out, I do believe!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

1711 - The Break-Up

Not the best visual reference film for me for Sex After Kids.  Mostly just because this is a studio film that has money to throw at it.  That being said, I still enjoyed revisiting it.  Vaughn is such an amazing asshole the entire film, but you still feel for him when he turns it around at the end.  And just when you're starting to hate Aniston for putting up with his shit, you gain this new respect for her at the end. 
I don't think Jennifer gets enough credit for this film.  Especially the last scene.  She does so much with just a look and a feeling.  You know exactly where her head is at and where this is going to end up.  It's a pretty impressive scene in that regard.
Visually it's pretty standard stuff, no one is re-inventing the wheel here, and I imagine that Vince likes to shoot with two cameras to allow for improv. 
If you've never seen this it really is a great contemporary relationship film that goes for honesty above all else, and doesn't pander.

1710 - Hannah & Her Sisters

I'm sure that I've commented on this film several times at this point, it's one of the many Woody Allen films that I revisit on a regular basis.  It's one of the best ensemble comedy films out there, and it's not surprise that it won an Oscar for screenplay that year.  Annie Hall is always my go-to favourite Woody film, but this one might just be the close second the more that I think about it. 
I'm revisiting it at this point as I start to plan the visuals for my next film Sex After Kids.  I'm going to be re-watching a lot of relationship films in the next little bit, particularly ones that are heavier on the dialogue front just to compare styles and get some more inspiration.  What's interesting about Woody is that he likes to shoot mostly in just big master shots.  He hardly, if ever shoots coverage and very sparingly shoots close-ups.  I like how a lot of his shots go from wide shots to medium shots to close-ups just by following the actor's natural rhythms.  I honestly think that there's something to be said for not getting in the actors way when it comes to a visual style and sometimes that simply means letting a scene play out and not destroy it with too many shots and interruptions. 
If you've never seen this, you really should, in a catalogue of great films, it's one of Woody's best.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

1709 - Reservoir Dogs

I was a film kid-nerd in the nineties, so Tarantino was one of my big influences in my teens.  Of course his films were cool, but also it was the resurgence of Independent cinema, so there was also that as way of influence.  I'm sure that at some point I thought of "cool" crime films that I could write, but in the end that was never my voice and I'm absolutely okay with that.  And if I ever do do a crime film it'll be my voice and not an imitation, which is what Tarantino inspired a lot of in the ears following this and Pulp Fiction.
I'm rewatching this as a visual kind of thing.  Not really for the overly stylized pieces, actually all the stuff in between surprisingly.  I'm not going to say anything about this film that hasn't already been said.  I decided to watch this with the commentary on and had to turn it off.  I respect Tarantino as a filmmaker but I can't listen to the man talk.  I just can't.  He's a little too pleased with himself, and the stories that he tells about how he works with people just makes me feel like I don't think he'd be the most pleasant person to spend time around. 
Say what you will about the film, as a first time filmmaker, it's a tour-de-foce, I've seen it I don't even know how many times, and it was fun to revisit after I don't even know how long. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

1708 - The Muppets

You don't have to know me all that well to know that I'm kind of a Muppet nerd.  Kermit was my favorite doll when I was a kid, and because of him my favorite color was green.  I have a Muppets Take Manhattan poster in my office, as well as an original Muppets lunchbox, and my own customized Muppet from FAO Swartz.  So there it is. 
I'm also a fan of Jason Segal and Amy Adams and so when I saw this in theatres I had high hopes.  I remember feeling weird while watching it.  Almost like I wanted to like it more than I was.  It's full of some great moments, but a lot that are just... well.. good.
I love half of the songs (Everything that I Need, Pictures in my Head, Man or Muppet) and the rest just feel like filler, and not great filler.  Actually there are some songs in this that I downright dislike.  Chris Cooper doesn't fit.  I don't know why, but he didn't add anything to the mix for me, and I HATE the "maniacal laugh" bit.  Did people actually find that funny?
So as a re-introduction film, it was pretty decent.  But I'd like to think that there's still a great Muppet film coming down the pipeline.  This one was just merely good for me.  I'm still glad I sprang for the Wokka Wokka edition bluray! :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

1707 - When Harry Met Sally

Okay, if you don't know about this film you live under a rock.  Here's the summary - it's the ultimate "Can women and men be friends?" film.  I'm in the midst of re-watching a bunch of my favorite romantic comedies as I prepare to make my second feature Sex After Kids (which I realized just now that I haven't talked about AT ALL on my blog.  Probably because I spend such a large amount of time writing about it everywhere else). 
So I started off watching this with an attempt to just study their shooting style, and of course the movie sucked me right in to the point where I forgot and just enjoyed it.  Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal are absolutely perfect here.  Ephron's script is clever and witty and harsh and lovely.  Reiner brings a lot to the table as a comedy director.  Perhaps it was in the script, but a scene I really enjoyed on this viewing was at a sporting even where Crystal is telling Bruno Kirby about his divorce and all the while they're doing the wave.  It's kind of amazing.  Not to mention that this film has one of the most amazing split-screen sequences in film.  I can only imagine how they co-ordinated it. 
This is one of the truly great romantic comedies, and at it's heart it isn't about 'can men and women being friends without sex getting in the way' so much as it's about the difference between men and women and how we deal with that.  If you're a rom-com fan and you haven't seen this film then shame you.  Rectify it immediately.  You won't regret it, and if you do... we probably can't be friends.  Sorry.  Shit happens when you don't like amazing films :)

Monday, March 19, 2012

1706 - The Walking Dead: season two (part II)

Here's a show that gets endlessly loved and yet ripped upon at the same time.  If you don't know what this series is about you're probably living under a zombie, but feel free to click the tags below.  Otherwise I'll assume those reading know the score.
The first half of this season had issues, I think.  It was just slow and it spent too much time stalling.  That same first half ended with what I honestly believe to be one of the best executed sequences in television history.  And I think that's what's frustrating about this show, when it's bad it's mediocre, but when it's good it's absolutely phenomenal!  And for the fans of the comic series, you know just how much material these people have to draw upon and how much story is left to come up.


I was pretty damn surprised that they did some of the things that they did in this second half of the season - sometimes in a good way.  I knew Shane had to go, but was shocked that Dale did as well.  I FUCKING LOVED the reveal of Michoinne (don't know how to spell her name) at the end of this season, as well as the nod to the prison. In the comic series they spend more time at the prison than anywhere so far, so it'll be interesting to see how that plays out.  If they do it properly they can easily get two seasons out of it given how much happens in and around it. 
I think this show could benefit from some more characterization that isn't merely speecifying.  I think that Rick's declaration in the final scene was a great one and a strong choice for moving forward. 
As flawed as it was I kept coming back, and I think the back-half of this season was a vast improvement upon what had come before.  I think they've finally hit their grove.  It's a long wait till fall...

Friday, March 16, 2012

1705 - Toy Story 3

For our third movie night in a row with my son we went with the latest installment of Toy Story.  And honestly, I was pretty excited to revisit the film myself.  Having re-watched the other two very recently this just might be my favorite of them.  I think that the story is a lot more fun, a lot more poignant, and it's just based on how Pixar is a story-powerhouse, so one would hope that it's the best of the series.  The stakes are higher, more personal.  These friends might all split up - hell - they might not even make it out of the film alive.  There's a lot more excitement and energy to the film as well.  They do smart and clever callbacks as well to the rest of the series that I quite enjoyed.
Pixar is a pretty phenomenal place and I truly hope that they keep turning out gems like this.  I think this film wraps up the series quite well, and I hope they don't try going back to the well.  They ended on a really strong note and I can't imagine how they'd follow it up.  If you haven't seen the newest one yet, you're insane - get on it now!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

1704 - Toy Story 2

For Epraim's second movie night he wanted to follow-up Toy Story with it's sequel. 
I think I really only saw this once, and the thing I always thought back to on this is the Sarah McLaughlin song part way through that gives us Jesse' heartbreaking back-story.  That moment still stings to watch, but never quite as much as the first time. 
Ephraim continued to be amazed by it all and followed along like a champ, asking solid questions along the way.  I'll say it again - it's amazing rediscovering films through kids.
As for me?  Well this isn't meant to be an insult, but I think that this one is the weakest of the three Toy Story films.  It's a really fun ride with our friends, and there's a lovely little message to it, but the it falls short of the other two (which are fucking great).  This sequel was rushed through, and the lameness of some jokes play into that, I'm sure.  *Did we really need a nod to Star Wars?*
This one takes from the first one and really opens up the world in terms of story and scope.  We learn more about Woody an Buzz's backstories, and since they can't reuse the gag of Buzz not knowing he's a toy, instead we get to see Buzz deal with a "new" Buzz who is unaware of the situation... that one's a bit easy guys.
So a really fun and solid Pixar film.  It's far from it's best or worst - but the thing about Pixar is that even when it's not amazing it's still pretty damn great (I write this having not seen Cars 2, which has been much bitched about).
I imagine anyone who wants to see this film has already.  I recommend it regardless!

Friday, March 09, 2012


I bought this for my wife awhile back when I saw that EVERY WOMAN in the subway was reading it (and good for them!).  I love Tina Fey.  I love her sense of humor, her awkwardness.  This is going to sound terrible, but when I watch 30 Rock with my wife, I realize just how much Tina is like my wife - in a good way (and for the record my wife sees it too).
This book is interesting in that it's almost a self-help book in some ways.  It's also part biography, and a little behind-the-scenes.  Some more criticize it for not having a clear direction as to what it's about - that there's no clear direction and each chapter is fairly random - but the thing is that Tina has such a strong and amazing voice that it really doesn't matter.  You keep reading because it's just full of honesty and hilarity.  Two things that were interesting to discover was that - first - Tina Fey has a prominent scar.  Perhaps the magic of TV and film make-up is really great, but I never noticed it.  Now I can see it when I look at her, but I hadn't before (one of the first things she talks about in the book).  And secondly I just loved her outlook on life in general.  Everyone could benefit from reading her chapter on how using the rules of improvisation can improve your life.  I don't think she's wrong.
I imagine this book will appeal stronger to females, but I loved the hell out of it.  There's some great behind the scenes stuff for both 30 Rock, and Saturday Night Live for those who want a behind-the-curtain glance.  If you're already a fan of Tina Fey's comic stylings, reading this is a no-brainer.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

1703 - Teenage Paparazzo

This film was on the festival circuit around the same time as TUWOPS was, but I never got a chance to see it when I was touring with my own film, so I was glad to see it on netflix now. 
Celebrity culture is an interesting thing, and so when Adrien Grener discovers a fourteen year old kid amongst the paparazzi it makes him wonder if it's gotten to an extra stage of 'yuck'. 
I'm friends with some people who you could classify as celebrities and so it's interesting to witness this now from their point of view.  I work behind the camera, and I'm a pretty lame family type guy, so I'm never going to have to worry about this kind of thing but it's an interesting and sad thing how some people end up having to exchange their privacy for fame and fortune.  And for this kid who starts to become popular, he's faced with the very problem head on.  He has no issues being in celebrities faces all the time, but when it turns around that people want to watch him 24/7 he starts to realize just the kind of world he's gotten into.
This is a fair documentary that looks at various angles of a interesting topic.  It doesn't try to cast the blame on any one person in particular.  If anything Adrien is just trying to make sense of the madness (as if there is sense to be made).
It's interesting and entertaining for those who are interested in celebrity lifestyle and how the paparazzi work and think, so if that's your thing it's totally worth a view.  If not... you'll find something else that's lovely and watch that.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

1702 - Toy Story

Now that my son is about to turn three we're starting "movie night" in our house.  A day I've been looking forward to with him since… well… I even knew I was having a kid.  The only true way to re-experience a film for the first time is watching it with someone who hasn't seen it - and that goes double when watching it with a kid.  He really really got into this.  He laughed in some really interesting places.  Got emotional and invested in the characters, and when it was done he instantly wanted to watch it again.  It'll be interesting to see what he thinks of it tomorrow, but it was top marks from him tonight.
Now - how did I feel about the film again?  Well, first I forgot that Joss Whedon worked on the script.  So that was fun.  I also noticed some little easter egg things that I never noticed before.  I'm going to say a lot of lovely things in a moment, but I couldn't help but notice a big flaw in the film this time around.  Buzz Lightyear spends the majority of the film believing that he is not a toy, but a real space ranger.  HOWEVER, when Andy comes into his room, he plays dead just like all the other toys.  Why would he do that?  Why would he play along with this boy instead of confronting him like he does all the other "creatures" in the room?  This actually bothered me quite a bit and I might search around to see if Pixar's ever been called on that hole and what their response is…
But other than that it's a really great film.  From a story perspective it's a really great example of escalating conflict.  Things get worse and worse in this film and the planting and paying off is done with a shitload of skill.  If you've missed this film for some reason, it really is a must see.  I can even let the Buzz thing go 'cause the rest of the film is so damn great.  So… it'll be interesting to see how soon he forces us to watch this again!

Friday, March 02, 2012

1701 - Conception

I rented this film through iTunes based on a recommend from Ed Burns, which I think was solely based on his friendship with cast member Julie Bowen.  This is the kind of film that I am programmed to love.  An ensemble rom-com about couples getting pregnant.  In fact going into it I was a bit worried that it would be a bit too close to my current project.  But sadly, love it I did not.  And now I'm trying to figure out if I liked it…
The cast is pretty damn solid with highlights from Julie Bowen, Alan Tudyk, Jonathon Silverman and Jennifer Finnigan.  But a lot of the cast just aren't given very much to do - people like Pamela Adlon and Sarah Hyland just don't have any room to flex their chops.
The film ultimately centres around… geez.. I can't even remember how many couples… I want to say six… on the day/night that they conceive a child.  Some are trying, some are not.  But the problem is that I couldn't even remember how many couples - mostly because they just kind of blend together in a lot of ways.  They are all in unique situations and environments, but they just don't stand out.  Some do - there's a story of a teenager trying to convince her boyfriend to give up eating meat by giving up her virginity - that stands out.  Another story wherein the issue in the relationship seems to be that they don't like each other when they're sweaty, do not.  I think this film would have been far stronger if they had just picked the most unique of the stories and fleshed them out a lot more.  There are some really wonderful little nuggets about people and relationships inside of here, but they almost seem to be by accident as opposed to by choice or design. 
Maybe I'm just crazy, but I think that they you do an ensemble story centring around a common theme that you should be attempting to say something about that theme.  Using the ensemble design to explore the issue from different angles.  This just felt like someone wanted to make a film and had access to good actors.  The actors do the best with what they're given. 
So I can't really recommend this one unless you want to see the actors in a different role from how you normally see them.  Otherwise this film is just a bit of a mess for me.  The tone was all over the place, and even the audio was noticeably bad in a few scenes (which is nit-picky, but if I noticed it enough to comment on it - that's a problem 'cause it took me out of the film).  Oh, and I don't know why people think that David Arquette is funny… am I crazy and missing something about that guy?