Saturday, February 08, 2014
It was once again time for a family outing, and since our boys have been keen on seeing "The Lego Movie" since it was announced last year, so it was off to the movies. After breaking several piggy banks for the admission fare, and the goodies that go with movie watching we caught an early show. I had heard things about this film being pretty smart, and funny, and I can say I wasn't disappointed. The filmmakers do a great job pandering to their audience, which face it is anyone under 12. But that's the charm of the movie. There are so many in-jokes, and jokes that kids won't get that makes the film pretty funny at whatever age you are.
Sitting here writing this review I still can't remember all the jokes in the film, and maybe that's what the filmmakers wanted. After all maybe after seeing it with the kids maybe the grown-ups will see it again, and you know they'll have to take the kids again, so double score for the studio in the money department.
The animation is top notch, and the puns, innuendos, and plain silliness of the flick is a win. The movie works on so many levels, and I honestly am not the biggest Lego fan at all. After all Lego has come a long way since I was a kid. The movie pokes fun at our pop culture without it being too highbrow. The children that were watching it with us really liked it, and that is it's primary audience. There is even a nice moral in the film that says something about the creative mind, and that being different is okay.
There's not much I can say negative about this film. Even the stars who voice the characters are having fun here. I was very surprised to see actually Will Ferrell make an appearance. Ferrell does the voice of President Business, and all I'll say is that he makes an appearance and it totally works.
The makers of this film should pat themselves on the back. It's a funny, sweet, and thought provoking film without talking down to its core audience. It also winks at us adults and makes us think as well, so kudos for that.
I have to say if you have a little Lego builder in your family they'll love it, and surprisingly you will too. I know you'll be laughing just as hard as the children do, and that's what makes this movie a special event. I know award time is in March, but someone should not forget this film for next years awards. Seeing it in
3-D I've heard is nice, but children do hate those glasses, so if you want to save a few bucks & spare the kids some headaches take them to the regular 2-D viewing. I promise you they won't miss anything, and you'll be happier or at least you're wallet will be. The film is a classic, and it will be one film that today's generation will go back to and share with their families.
Highly recommended for family. Sit back and enjoy.
And with that I have to leave you with the "Everything is Awesome lyric video". Because it's AWESOME!!!
Tuesday, January 07, 2014
I’m writing this letter to you about the future. I’m looking at it through the lens of my world. Through the lens of cinema, which has been at the center of that world.
For the last few years, I’ve realized that the idea of cinema that I grew up with, that’s there in the movies I’ve been showing you since you were a child, and that was thriving when I started making pictures, is coming to a close. I’m not referring to the films that have already been made. I’m referring to the ones that are to come.
I don’t mean to be despairing. I’m not writing these words in a spirit of defeat. On the contrary, I think the future is bright.
We always knew that the movies were a business, and that the art of cinema was made possible because it aligned with business conditions. None of us who started in the 60s and 70s had any illusions on that front. We knew that we would have to work hard to protect what we loved. We also knew that we might have to go through some rough periods. And I suppose we realized, on some level, that we might face a time when every inconvenient or unpredictable element in the moviemaking process would be minimized, maybe even eliminated. The most unpredictable element of all? Cinema. And the people who make it.
I don’t want to repeat what has been said and written by so many others before me, about all the changes in the business, and I’m heartened by the exceptions to the overall trend in moviemaking – Wes Anderson, Richard Linklater, David Fincher, Alexander Payne, the Coen Brothers, James Gray and Paul Thomas Anderson are all managing to get pictures made, and Paul not only got The Master made in 70mm, he even got it shown that way in a few cities. Anyone who cares about cinema should be thankful.
And I’m also moved by the artists who are continuing to get their pictures made all over the world, in France, in South Korea, in England, in Japan, in Africa. It’s getting harder all the time, but they’re getting the films done.
But I don’t think I’m being pessimistic when I say that the art of cinema and the movie business are now at a crossroads. Audio-visual entertainment and what we know as cinema – moving pictures conceived by individuals – appear to be headed in different directions. In the future, you’ll probably see less and less of what we recognize as cinema on multiplex screens and more and more of it in smaller theaters, online, and, I suppose, in spaces and circumstances that I can’t predict.
So why is the future so bright? Because for the very first time in the history of the art form, movies really can be made for very little money. This was unheard of when I was growing up, and extremely low budget movies have always been the exception rather than the rule. Now, it’s the reverse. You can get beautiful images with affordable cameras. You can record sound. You can edit and mix and color-correct at home. This has all come to pass.
But with all the attention paid to the machinery of making movies and to the advances in technology that have led to this revolution in moviemaking, there is one important thing to remember: the tools don’t make the movie, you make the movie. It’s freeing to pick up a camera and start shooting and then put it together with Final Cut Pro. Making a movie – the one you need to make - is something else. There are no shortcuts.
If John Cassavetes, my friend and mentor, were alive today, he would certainly be using all the equipment that’s available. But he would be saying the same things he always said – you have to be absolutely dedicated to the work, you have to give everything of yourself, and you have to protect the spark of connection that drove you to make the picture in the first place. You have to protect it with your life. In the past, because making movies was so expensive, we had to protect against exhaustion and compromise. In the future, you’ll have to steel yourself against something else: the temptation to go with the flow, and allow the movie to drift and float away.
This isn’t just a matter of cinema. There are no shortcuts to anything. I’m not saying that everything has to be difficult. I’m saying that the voice that sparks you is your voice – that’s the inner light, as the Quakers put it.
That’s you. That’s the truth.
All my love,
*A letter published at the Espresso web site by Martin Scorsese.
Sunday, January 05, 2014
Can I get excited now? Just heard about this, and it is still in the development stages, but it's exciting to hear about this innovation. Before I ventured into 16mm there was my handy dandy Super 8 camera. The epics that were shot with that camera were fun and filled with enthusiasm. Even my dad filmed with his own 8mm camera the family events while I was growing up. It seems like ages ago, and some how when I view the footage taken back then a feeling of nostalgia comes over me. The color, and even the sound comes popping off the screen and I'm transported back to that time. The magic of home movies everywhere, but with Super 8 it was different then what we have today. There were no shaky camera movement, because it was film, and we only had about three minutes worth to capture the people and places we loved. There was a lot involved in getting that image, and you wanted it right, and perfect, and somehow that translates into the footage. Maybe I'm a hopeless romantic, but I do marvel at the film footage back then, and feel there is a different aesthetic then what people are shooting today.
Well now this company is developing a cartridge that can be used with your old Super-8 cameras and shot right to SD cards. it will be interesting to see if the footage shot through this digital process looks like anything that was shot back in the day. How does it work? Here's what they say on their website:
"At the heart of the Nolab Digital Super 8 Cartridge is a tiny but powerful 5 megapixel image sensor similar to the one in your smartphone. Combined with a custom glass objective lens, the sensor focuses on a ground glass image plane pressed against the camera’s film gate. By using a 5 megapixel sensor we can capture 720p HD footage at the native Super 8 aspect ratio of 4:3.
Processors integrated into the image sensor are able to process and encode the footage in real time to a removable SD card. Optionally the same processors can apply one of two predefined Film Look color correction filters to the footage.
That sounds simple enough, To allow the Nolab cartridge’s image sensor to synchronize with the camera’s shutter, a unique sensor had to be developed. It’s this design that allows the cartridge to work properly in any camera at any frame rate up to 60 fps."
How cool is that. I really like this and I have several cameras I'd like to try this out on. Yes I did keep them and kept them in good working order. I'm a man attached to his tools, and even when they become antiquated I sometimes think they'll make a resurgence. After all everything old is new again, and this certainly is proof of that.
To see for yourself check this link. I think you'll find it interesting. Will be interesting to see it work. Hurry up guys. I know I'm interested.
Sunday, December 29, 2013
My younger son wanted to see this, and he was counting the days to see this film, so we went and saw the film. I wasn't expecting anything great, but I did want to see my youngest happy so off we went. The thing is that I had read all the reviews saying that the film was weak and predictable. I have two boys one older and one younger who also attended, and both enjoyed the film , but not as much as my youngest. I like to see things through my boys eyes. It gives me a different perspective, and I enjoyed the movie a bit more seeing it as my boys see it.
Now that being said is this a good film? It depends on who is the audience. I feel the film is better suited to younger audience's then older ones, and that's not it's problem. Some of the visuals in this film are really stunning. The story is predictable, but the film has a moral, and for its younger audience its okay. The moral is that we win by sticking together. It also educates its audience with the names of the dinosaurs. I've heard the criticism that it's a juvenile film, and all I have to say is that's is it's target audience. The animals don't talk or mouth their dialogue. It is heard as narration, and I didn't have a problem with it. This where I have to say that without the skills of the narrators this film would be a lot less entertaining. John Leguizamo narrates most of the film and provides a lot of the humor in it. The kids got the humor, and it was pretty funny for the adults too. That is in big part of Leguizamo's skill as a story teller. I have been a big fan of his for a long.time. He really makes the film entertaining. My boys laughed, and so did my wife and I.
It's a special film. A film you and your family can sit down and laugh with while at the same time maybe learning a few things about prehistoric days. The animation is stellar, and what the film does is combine live action with animation. The film does this seamlessly, and as I said the visuals are stunning.
I enjoyed the film. I'm sure it will have a long life on DVD, because their are always younger children interested in big dinosaurs, and it's audience will always grow, but I do say that I'd wait for the home release of the film and watch it there. But if you have a little one who really wants to see this and really loves dinosaurs I'd think you would enjoy seeing it with them. There is some hard scenes where a parent is lost, but like I said the film is not gratuitous, so no parent should have a problem with any offensive scenes because their are none.
I enjoyed going to the movies and seeing and hearing my children laughing, and being captivated by a story. I do have to mention John Leguizamo again for his performance. I do believe he contributed a lot to the film, and it is his mastery of telling a story that made us laugh and cry.
What I didn't like was how much it was to get into the theater. That is what is wrong with movies today. Back in the day ten bucks got you in, and you had money for a drink and some popcorn. Now I need a loan to just walk into the theater, and that's not sustainable in today's world. A word to the studio heads. Make affordable films affordable to the public, or risk loosing that revenue to other venues. Just my two cents.
Otherwise the film is a good ids film. If you can wait for the home release then I suggest you do so, but if you have an insistent little one who wants to see dinosaurs go see it. I think you'll enjoy seeing it with them.
Thursday, December 26, 2013
I am always interested in movies about making movies. Maybe it's because I want to see how others suffer for their art, or maybe it's just plain curiosity. But after watching ten minutes of "Journey to Planet X" I got hooked. The film is about Eric Swain and Troy Bernier who are scientists by day and amateur filmmakers by night. In the film we see their work from the past and it is very amateur like, but the work has heart. It's Swain's and Bernier's can do attitude which is refreshing and inspiring. In the film they are making a more ambitious short entitled "Planet X"and the documentary is all about how they do it. All the good and the bad of filmmaking is seen in this making of film, and middle way through the film you find yourself rooting for these guys.
The documentary goes through the whole process of our two hero's making their film from preproduction to post, and we get to see how the actual film develops. Both Eric and Troy are interesting characters too. One very particular, and the other is whatever works is okay with him. How the two come to terms with their different personalities is funny and inspiring. Amateur means doing something for pleasure, and their passion for doing the film shows through. It's this that makes the film so genuine. It's an interesting film to watch and see how these two individuals make their dreams come alive. The documentary is 76 minutes long and it is a fairly short film that has good pacing. The filmmakers Josh Koury and Myles Kane do a good job at capturing their subjects passion. Watching Eric and Troy tackle technical problems, scheduling issues, and location limitations is interesting and can be revealing to the average public. After all no one really knows what it takes to get a film finished, and seeing how they handle each problem is quite inspiring. In the end it inspired me to create something myself after watching this movie. After all creative types know the highs and lows of producing. This film shows that it is possible and in the end we do what we love, and this film captures that spirit and as I said can do attitude. If Hollywood studios would stop letting the bean counters make the films and put it back in the hands of the artists we would have some better films being made today, but that's another argument for another day. If you get a chance to see this film, and you love filmmaking I highly recommend seeing it. Get inspired and just keep doing it until you get so good that studios will be calling you. Then the FUN really begins.
Sunday, December 22, 2013
Rick Springfield is a unique musician. In this documentary we are shown Rick Springfield and his fans. The problem with the documentary is that I enjoyed seeing Rick Springfield perform, and even listening to his devoted fans, but the film doesn't know what it wants to be. A fandom film explaining why his fans love him, and go out of there way and see him, or that of the artist himself.
I really took away the hard work Springfield puts into his concerts and his performances. He really is a working mans musician. He seems like a really ordinary person who had fame thrust upon him, and then disappeared for awhile. Springfield still produces new material, and tours heavily, but it's the fans that the filmmakers seem to be interested in and yet they do a poor job at getting into the heart of that. The filmmakers focus on only a handful of fans, and don't really get to the heart of why Springfield is so popular with them. We do see how hard Springfield works, but I'm sure that any musician worth his or her salt does the same. After all it's because of the fans and their love for them that the performer is even on stage.
I wanted to know more about the man especially when they talk about the details of his life. The suicide attempt, the infidelities, and the problems with drugs are all glossed over. They do mention that Springfield wrote a book "Late, late at Night" and the film feels like a commercial for the book. Maybe it's all covered in the book, but one wonders if the film is all about the promotion of the book or an actual account of an artist and his fans.
So I really don't know what to say about the film. Yes I really do have some respect for Springfield, but he glosses over things and doesn't really answer the question of why. It's a good hour and half to hear and see Springfield's commitment to his fans,and to see how hard he works, but if you want to know who he is, and why he does the things he does then you'll be disappointed. Their is no true depth to this documentary.
I like the artist, but the documentary is just gloss and fluff. The film doesn't know what it wants to be. I feel that the filmmakers were too close to their subject and not objective enough. It also feels that maybe they too were blinded by his charisma and lost their objectivity. The scenes with the fans also seem a bit staged, and sometimes they come across as too obsessive.
Your better off putting on one of Springfield's albums for a better experience with the man, and skip the documentary altogether because according to Springfield it's all in his music. All the pain, hurt and joy is there and all you just need to do is listen.
Saturday, December 21, 2013
Okay it's the holidays and you want a feel good flick, or you just want to laugh out loud with others. Then sit back and watch "What to Expect when Expecting". Going into this film I totally thought "chick flick", but hold on there buddy there is some stuff in here that isn't all that bad. First off I have to say Chris Rock steals the movie for me. What part is scripted and what parts are all Rock is to be debated, but honestly he made me laugh, and he was quite good in it. Could it be Rock is softening with age? He still retains his humor in this film, but he lets some zingers out that make you laugh out loud.
The ensemble cast is pretty good, and Jenifer Lopez who gives a beautiful performance in the film. I swear she had me welling up tears at the end, but I won't swear to it. I also have to say that Ms Lopez looks so beautiful, and she seems to really put her heart and soul into her performance. The cast does a good job at showing the different stages of pregnancy, and what women go through. Elizabeth Banks as Wendy certainly gives a good performance on what it's like to be pregnant, and the problems women sometimes have. You will certainly laugh at her antics, and what she goes through within the film. It's really funny, and I think a lot of women out there get that, and maybe that's why it hits the mark for them. It is honest that pregnancy isn't all afterglow, and cravings.
But for us guys it's a funny film with some funny moments. I was surprised to see Dennis Quaid in the film as an old time race car driver who is a father again in his late 50's. The rivalry between Quaids character and his son played by Ben Falcone is pretty hysterical. The racing golf carts is too funny.
Some of the movie seems to go on and on, but just when you think you'll loose interest in the film the film seems to drag you back in, and you are touched or you are laughing. Since the movie is based on a book that has no characters, or story it isn't that bad of an ensemble piece. The filmmakers seems to have put things in the movie that appeals to every demographic. Young, middle, old it's all in there, and maybe that's where it's a bit weak. By catering to everyone you loose a bit of the films moments. Everything isn't like a Hallmark story, and there are pretty heady issues that are only glanced over. A better film maybe would be less characters, and less slapstick, and more meaningful plot. But that would be a different film all together, and some how that's what this film isn't.
But again the film is light, and it does have its moments. Renting this movie for an over night viewing may be the best way to see it. Also see it with someone you care about, or with your significant other. I think it will get you talking about stuff, and you'll laugh again at the antics of our hapless characters, and maybe recognize a bit of yourself in the characters.
On a scale to 1 to 10 I give it a 7 or maybe a 7.5. The movie entertains, and it has it's moments, but it could have been much better then just a comedy drama. When a movie makes you laugh, and you weren't expecting a whole heck of a lot from the film to begin with you have to give it its props. The film is entertaining, and it has some poignant moments in the film, and for that I certainly give it its due or should I say its due date. Okay I couldn't resist. See it and laugh a bit, you'll thank yourself later.