Saturday, April 30, 2011

Battlefield: Los Angeles (2011)

I had wanted to see this film for sometime now, and heard good things about the film.  To say that I wasn't disappointed is an understatement.  Battlefield: Los Angeles is a film that brings chills to one soul.  It is a film that is quite relevant in today's world were we Americans find ourselves engaged in several different wars.  Maybe because of the current events this film hits home.    The plot is simple:

"A Marine Staff Sergeant (Aaron Eckhart) ,who has just had his retirement approved goes back into the line of duty to assist a 2nd Lieutenant and his platoon as they fight to reclaim the city of Los Angeles from alien invaders".

The movie starts with the invasion, and then flashes back to introduce us to our platoon.  We have the marine who is married and expecting, the one who is going to get married, the big strong marine who feels protective of his buddy who is marrying, and the marine of the dead brother who died under the leadership of staff Sargent (Aaron Eckhart).  There are others too, and they show up in the movie later.  But we are given a sort of intro to the characters who we will care for, so when and if their deaths happen we the audience feel something.  Jonathan Liebesman is the director of the film and he does a competent job in setting this all up.  The cinematography is rough on purpose.  The footage looks like combat photography from every war  we've waged in the 20th and 21st century.  I could have done with a little less shake and bounce as I call it, but it is effective, and makes you feel that your in the action.

Aaron Eckhart gives a great performance here, and it should be noted it's hard to show character without dialogue.  His face is very expressive, and we see his pain and feel it.  We also feel his anger at the alien invaders, and we see how combat can be so adrenaline driven.  In one scene he takes out a drone alien ship, and when he comes back we see his hand twitching in a jolt of nerves, and adrenaline.  We really get it, and his suttle performance really adds depth to the film.  There's Michelle Rodriguez who gives a tough and commanding performance as Tech Sargent Elana Santos.  Even Michael Peña gives a good solid performance here.  These performances are what makes the movie solid.  The special effects are eye startling, and the enemy look and sound frightening, but it is our platoon that moves the movie forward.

I know a lot of people will say it's like a video game, and it's a shooter type game.  I do see parables in that argument, but the film is entertaining.  I would not take away that excitement, and cinematic tension that the movie produces by just saying it's a video game.  There's more to this movie then just that.  The characters are what brings the story home for us the audience. 

I said that this movie has relevance in today's current events because there are wars happening now, and TV news shows us daily those who are involved in it.  Seeing and setting the film on American soil brings the combat home to us.  It's not in the desert or jungle somewhere else happening to other people.  In this movie it's Los Angeles and it's our own people being shot and killed, and our own city being destroyed.  For the duration of the film it humanizes war, and shows victims.  Both men, women, and children.  Of course we all know war is terrible, but do we actually feel this if we haven't lived it.  Think of generations of children cowering in fear from bullets, and bomb blasts.  Think what we take for granted and then show how a war destroys all of that.  In a way this film does just that.  It does so by not preaching, but by showing, and making the film as visceral as war can be.  In this post 911 era it hits home all too well.

Maybe I'm reading way too much into it, and what it really is is a film that is a very, very entertaining.  But given the times that we live in I think the film has more meaning.  I defiantly recommend the film, and wouldn't hesitate to see it again.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Finally completed the script.  Wanted to do something creative in a year where everything gets turned upside down.  I have to say that I thought at times why am I doing this, but it was a great creative endeavor, and it's fun to flex that creative muscle once in a while.  In a world where things are upside down it's good that I can concentrate on something creative and force myself to completion.

Is the script any good?  It's got potential I think.  It needs some re-writes, but every GOOD script or movie is done with re-writes.  I enjoy creative criticism, and there aren't many people who do that.  It's usually "it sucks" or "its great".  No in-between.  Constructive criticism is what its all about, and if you have people who can do that you should defiantly take advantage of it.  If it's anything I've learned in my years on this earth it's that criticism can be helpful, and hurtful sometimes.  You yourself have to determine which will get through and which you will use.

Okay enough preaching.  See you on the next entry.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sidney Lumet in his own words

"Finally, movies are art....the amount of attention paid to movies is directly related to pictures of job is to care about and be responsible for every frame of every movie I make.  I know that all over the world there are young people borrowing from relatives and saving their allowances to buy their first cameras and put together their first student movies, some of them dreaming of becoming famous and making a fortune.  But few are dreaming of finding out what matters to them, of saying to themselves and to anyone who will listen. "I care".  A few of them want to make good movies."

- Sidney Lumet
   Making Movies

Monday, April 18, 2011

Close-Up (2011)

It seems that CLOSE-UP has been announced as an Official Selection of the SoHo International Film Festival 2011, which will run April 15th - 21st, 2011

I just came across this fellow Philadelphian, and I took a look at the trailer, and it really looks and sounds good. It has peaked my interest, and I'm very impressed to hear that it was shot on the Canon EOS 7D. How cool is that.  Charlie Anderson is the director of Photography, and it is produced in conjunction with Lucky Basturds Productions. A lot of who is in the film are local talent from here in Philadelphia. The budget for the film according to the director was $7,364, and it looks like a lot of blood sweat and tears went into the making of the film.

I always want to praise a fellow filmmaker who gets his or her story out there, and so that's why it's here. The film has its premiere at the SoHo International film festival in NYC on April 19th at 1:00pm. It's to be held at the Quad Cinemas in NYC on 13th Street.

Take a look at the trailer below, and if you’re in NYC go see the film, and meet the filmmakers, cast and crew. Congratulations guys and I hope to see this real soon. It looks very interesting. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

If These Knishes Could Talk trailer

Documentarian Heather Quinlan is looking for finishing funds to complete her film about New York accents.  Check out the trailer down below, and if you know people, or if you have services like an editing bay, or a mixing facility I'm sure she would be greatful.

The trailer is a good piece of work.  It would be awesome if someone could help her out.  For the record I don't know Ms Quinlan, but the trailer screams finish me, and being a "Nu Yorker" I'd love to see this film get a release somewhere.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Red, White, and Blue (2010)

After being in the SXSW festival last year this film got some notice, and some really good reviews.  After hearing about it I was interested and I finally got a chance to see it this week-end, and I have to say that the first third of the movie I really enjoyed, but after that for me the film falls apart.  The film is about Erica a young woman living in Austin who is promiscuous, she picks up men and dumps them immediately after having sex, never allowing herself to get too close to anyone. This changes when she gets better acquainted with her neighbor who has just moved in.  His name is Nate and he is a quiet man, slightly creepy, but he persists in being kind to her, and he wins her affection in a non-sexual way.  Now this happens all within the first twenty to thirty minutes of the movie, and then we are introduced to other characters who become the movies motivational piece for the violent ending.

Like I said before the first third of this film is really good.  There is not much dialogue, but we get what the filmmaker is trying to say.  Erica is damaged goods.  Without her saying or explaining it we know somethings wrong with Erica.  we also know that Nate is damaged goods also, but in a far more sinister way.  I think the filmmaker was trying to cause attention to Nate and Erica, and maybe inferring that he may be a serial killer scoping out  his next prey, but I didn't get that.  What I got was an odd relationship forming that seemed to be interesting, and right when you have me hooked you introduce other characters and don't go back to Nate and Erica for a very, very long time.  I know those characters have a link to Erica because we see them having sex with her, but when they appear again I really wanted to go back to Nate and Erica.

Erica is played by Amanda Fuller and Nate is played by Noah Taylor.  Their performances are strong, and very well done.  Taylor has a look that works, and it is in this look that makes his performance really work.  Fuller's performance is that of  women who is damaged goods who you want to save.  There is quite a bit of nudity in the film, and in the end the film becomes violent.  Yet I felt that everything was forced.  Plot points in the film don't make sense.  The character that the filmmaker introduces as Franki seems wrong for the part.  I didn't buy him as the character, and maybe that's why it falls apart for me, or maybe I was so hung up on Nate and Erica that I found Franki's introduction a nuisance.

Simon Rumley is the director of the film, and he does a competent job, but some of the shots seemed underexposed, and dark.  I've heard of ambient lighting, but a little more light would have helped.  Some shots seem to be soft due to the fact that the cinematographer was riding the lens wide open thereby loosing a  lot of depth of field.  Maybe I'm technically nit-picking here, but it did cause me to notice it, and it took me out of the film.  I understand low light cinematography, but I really think the production team should have watched the film "Blood Simple" by Joel & Ethan Coen to get some good pointers on atmosphere, and lighting.   That's one film where the creators actually made a great piece of cinema.

I also didn't like the pacing of the film, and that's maybe because of the earlier problem of the director cutting to new characters, and never getting back to the original characters.  But the film seemed to drag, and even at the end the violence seems to go on and on.  There is no crescendo, and no finale.  The film is populated with music from what I assume are local bands down in Austin.  It does nothing for me, and even when the director uses his own music it's annoying more so then it is useful.  If you want a good example of how to create a chaotic feel to the violence watch the original "Texas Chainsaw Massacre".  Tobe Hooper does a magnificent job creating terror and the insanity of violence within the film.  The film is in the MOMA for a reason, so more filmmakers should look at it, and study it.

If you want to see a still disturbing film in the same genre go watch "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" directed by John McNaughton.  The film is still very disturbing, yet it is put together far more superior then "Red, White, & Blue.

In the end there are films that are way better then this one, so I can't recommend this film.  People have said that this is a horror film, but I can't really classify it as that.  Maybe its a step above films that are labeled "torture porn", but I really don't think so. I myself hate the genre (torture porn), and wish it a speedy demise and even though the violence happens at the end of the film all that proceeds the violence doesn't redeem the film.  You can do a lot better.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hobo with a Shotgun (2011)

Where do I start.  If your into comic book violence, bad character development, and just plain blood and gore this is your film.  For me it is not, and I can't recommend this film at all.  The film is suppose to be a send up on the 80's exploitation films, but it NEVER does it for me, and in truth I walked out on the film.  There are few films I walk out of and this was one of them.  No I did not get squeamish because of the blood, and violence.  I left because because it was not worth my time, and a total waste .

Now I would like to just end this review here now, but I can't.  I like to write about why did or didn't I like a film, so in as brief possiable as I can be I will try and do so.

Hobo with a shotgun stars Rutger Hauer as the Hobo, and I really can't see why they used him.  I love Hauer in "LadyHawk", The Hitcher, and even "Blade Runner", so for the life of me I don't know why they use him the way they use him in this film.  I don't think the filmmakers knew how to use Hauer effectively, Hauer is an actor of high caliber, and he could have been used to such a good effect that it stuns me to see such a good actor under utilized. 

A little history is due here for clarification of how this film came about.  The filmmaker entered a contest to supply the film "Grindhouse" with a trailer of an up coming film that doesn't exist.  The trailer was included in the movie.  The trailer stared all unknowns, and was very good for what it was.  It felt like a throwback to those yester-year exploitation films.  Fast forward to the future, and it seems someone gave the creator money to come up with the film they made as a trailer first.  Only thing is that they should have stuck to the trailer.  Casting Hauer was interesting.  After all Hauer is a good actor, and I really think he could have done great with the film, but the movie that was actually made contains nothing for Hauer to do.  It does not use Hauer to his full potential because there is no decent plot for him to work with.

Of course the story is ridiculous, and revolting at times.  People have compared it to the 1980's exploitation films, but I disagree whole heatedly.  Those movies used reality to their advantage, and did not go over the top like this film does.  I'm a fan of those movies, and this film falls far short of those films it tries to emulate. 

In my opinion the films creator has watched too many Troma films, and is trying to re-create them.  The violence is gross, and does not serve the film at all.  The actors performances are all over the top, and the dialogue they sprout is terrible.  I am convinced that the filmmakers did not know what they were doing or how to make a good film of that genre.  If you take a look at the earlier trailer for the film you would think that the filmmaker knew his genre, but apparently not, and it shows big time.

Don't waste your time on this trash.  Everything about it is a waste.  If you want to see the film they should have been made see the original trailer.  Run away from this film.  The faster you do the better off you'll be.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Script Frenzy

It's that time of year, and I'm kicking myself in the ass and writing once more.  With all that is going on I really don't know how, but somehow I'll manage.  If anything it will be an excuse to finish the screenplay I stopped working on last year.  need to keep the creative juices flowing, and it's self satisfaction for me.

It's a real B-type film.  If you feel stagnant in the creative department give Script Frenzy a try.  You may just get out of it a screenplay.  It doesn't cost a thing.

Also using the new and improved Celtx screenwritting program.  It's very good, and easy to learn.