Monday, November 26, 2012

Film is Dead, Long live the new digital

I know what you're saying. I've heard this all before, and I would of agreed with you in the past, but a few things have happened in the past month or so that has changed my mind. One is that I went to the Content and acquisition expo in New York a few weeks ago, and the other was while watching the latest Bond film "Skyfall". Canon was holding seminars on digital cinema at the expo, and the one person who was giving the seminar was a cinematographer/director whose name is Felix Alcala.   Felix has a number of years under his belt as a cinematographer/gaffer/grip, and now he's been directing episodic TV. So the guy has a lot of experience in the world of production. I loved his "can do" mentality. He was quite inspirational in his seminar about shooting digital, and how filmmaking is getting smaller. No longer the BIG crews, but smaller crews and lighter cameras. Cameras that can do MORE then the film cameras could. Resolution, and quality has come up in the digital arena, and projects done in digital have a quality that is surpassing film. I'll agree that film is a GREAT archive format.  It can really help save a lot of films past and present from deteriorating and from never being seen again. Shooting on film isn't necessary anymore. The sensitivity and the latitude of digital cameras sensors are becoming better and better. While seeing the latest James Bond film called "Skyfall" I was amazed at the clarity and the beauty of the shots in the film. In the end of the film their is a shot of a burning building illuminating the country sky, and I swear I haven't seen such beautiful shots since Terrance Malick's film "Days of Heaven".  But don't take my word for it over at Kat Clay's blog she makes a great case for Skyfall to become a masters class in cinematography. The images were breathtaking. The film was shot on a ARRI ALEXAs, and is the first Bond film to be captured completely digitally. Roger Deakins was the cinematographer on the film, and you've seen his work on many different types of movies. There's a great article located here on how and why Deakins shot the film the way he did.

All I will say is see Skyfall, and tell me I'm wrong. I really felt that this film blew the lid off digital acquisition.  So back to the statement is film dead?  I have to say yes.  But does this mean the death of film.  I think not, but if your a producer you're probably already going digital, and still photography has really embraced digital, so much so that Kodak stopped making film.

I'm a real enthusiast of film, and it will always be a part of my pallet, but I am already doing more in digital then I did in film.  That should mean something.  Seeing the quality surpass film is very heartening, and exciting.    Felix Alcala was also very enthusiastic about digital cinema, and he showed us a short that he and his partner did, and that was done on a Canon camera, and it looked great.  The camera is the new EOS 300.

His film is located here:

For people to say that film is better I cannot agree with that statement.  The argument between digital vs. film cannot be made any more.  Digital has arrived and it looks great.  As artists we should embrace it, and move forward.  No longer is film making steeped in the mysterious.  It can be done by many, and all you need is a camera and laptop.    That's what Mr. Alcala was so enthused about, and I have to say I agree with him.  Digital knocks down walls, and it's been a long time coming.  Francis Ford Coppola  once said that someday we'll all be blown away by a film made by some "fat little girl living in Ohio".  Maybe I can be that fat girl or maybe you can.  It opens up cinema, and by new innovations happening better cinema is to come.  New technology breeds innovation.  It happened in film several times.  Once when film went from silent to sound, and then from black and white to color, and from there smaller portable cameras were developed that sporned the New Wave.

I have to agree with Felix that filmmaking is getting better, and the best is yet to come.  

More to come from my notes at Content & Acquisition Expo....

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Saga will continue....

It's been said that the material that Star Wars has generated that it could go on for a very long, long time. Time will tell if it is the right decision to hand off the Star Wars franchise to Disney, but I think it's a great idea, and one that will only grow the franchise. I'm a BIG fan of Mr. Lucas, and I am very greatful to him and his vision. Go Disney! If you want more info on the deal check out the NY Times article on the sale of LucasFilm to Disney here.

Monday, October 29, 2012

So Pretty

Here's a short film that is very well made, and since it's Halloween soon I figured why not.  Well done guys.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Taken 2 (2012)

To say that Taken 2 is a logical movie is a bit of a stretch.  It's a story of our protagonist (Liam Neeson) getting involved in another plot where he needs to rescue his family from bad people.  The original was an interesting and powerful piece of action, adventure, and suspense.  Taken 2 does have its moments of thrills and suspense, but doesn't come close to the originals originality.  Having said that "Taken 2" is a great popcorn movie, and for an audience who has grown to like Liam Neeson's character it's got some really good sequences that will have you gripping your seat.

The daughter played by Maggie Grace has a bit more to do here and she really has some good scenes.  Famke Janssen plays the mother and does a fine job at playing the damsel in distress, but it is Liam Neeson who we all have come to see.  He does a great job here playing Bryan Mills the super spy or security expert.  I really don't know what he does and for whom, but the movie eludes that he was ex-CIA, and now he seems to be a freelancer of some sort.  The important thing is that it isn't important to know.  It's just cool watching him in action, and seeing how super smart he is.  There is one scene where he and his daughter try and find where he is being held captive, and for some reason I buy it.  I won't tell you how, but it is an interesting scene, and is played well by both Ms Grace and Mr Neeson.

The photography is quite nice too.  There are many shots of Istanbul which seem like a travelogue.  I'm sure Turkey's film commission specifically made sure that they get some beauty shots of their capital.  I believe Taken and Taken 2 are financed through European money hence the locations.  The first in the series did extremely well, and caught everyone by surprise, but it is a good film, and well put together.   Having it become a franchise is I guess what ever studio wants.  But a successful franchise happens only if the audience buys the characters.  The audience is the one who determines that, and they do so with their pocketbook.  I guess the powers to be decided that it would be great to do it again only mix it up a bit for the sequel.  That is okay for a time, but after awhile the character or characters needs new adventures.  I believe Liam Neeson's character Bryan Mills has a whole lot more stories to be written about.  Their is some depth to the character, and that makes it interesting.  But if the studio continues to re-hash the same plot over and over again it will loose its audience.  So just a warning guys.  If you continue the franchise come up with some better stories.  The abduction thing is getting a bit played out.

Having said all this.  I really did enjoy the film.  It's not great cinema, but its entertaining and that's what I'm paying for.  I do have a complaint about what happens in the end.  The ending felt false, and it lost steam for me.  Their was no FINALE, just a final, and in a story about revenge you need a big finale, and the film doesn't deliver that.

You root for the good guy and boo at the villain.  When the villain gets his you want it to be in some dramatic way.  The ending that is given is lackluster, and has no big reward for the audience.  It seemed rushed, and for that it didn't work for me.  Yes the studio does leave it open for a third film to be made, but again better plot, and a bit more originality and I think the studio will have a successful franchise.  If they choose more of the same it will be a running joke, and not worth doing, or seeing.  Keeping that in mind I hope they continue to do so.  I like Liam Neeson's character.  It's like the Jack Ryan in Tom Clancy's novels.  There is more to be mined from the character.  Let's just hope the studio doesn't drop the ball.

So if you like a good popcorn flick, and some action I recommend the film.  It's a good night out, and it will leave you wanting a bit more, which is what a good film should do.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Hotel Transylvania (2012)

This week it was up and out to see "Hotel Transylvania" with the family.  It's October, and Halloween is right around the corner so why not.  It looked funny, and seemed appropriate for this time of year, and the kids wanted to see it and it's been awhile since we had a family outing at the movies.  So off we went.

The film seems to be written by committee.  There are no more then 5 writers listed in the credits.  Sometimes this can be a problem, but here it isn't.  Adam Sandler also seems to have been a bit more involved in creating the movie since he is listed as executive producer.  The film is released through Sony. 

To say I didn't have fun seeing the film would be an out right lie.  I did have fun.  There were some jokes that were funny, and the humor was very much geared towards the children, and yet I still had fun listening to my boys laughing, so the movie did what it needed to do, and that was to provide some family entertainment.

The movie is a fun little romp where monsters are not scary.  It's the humans that are scary, and poor Drac is trying to prevent his 118 year old daughter from finding out about how bad humans really are.  The cast is funny and the well cast.  From Fran Drescher to Steve Buscemi it's all good to hear them and see how the characters interact with each other.

But the movie is a one note wonder, and like I said it is geared to the little ones.  I'm sure the 3-D effect makes the movies somewhat interesting, but it's only a gimmick here, and provides nothing but some really cool interesting scenes to look at for the kids.

The film is great for a night or afternoon out with the family.  That the film was released at the beginning of October was a marketing stroke of genies since Halloween is right around the corner.  After all Halloween is becoming if it isn't already one of the most expensive holidays for families.  It's right up there with Christmas.  Every parent wants their child to have a good experience going to Halloween parties, and trick-or-treating, and we spend that all on candy, costumes, and accessories.

And why not?  It's a colorful time of year, and a movie that reminds us of monsters can't be all that bad.  Especially when it's a comedy.  I mean how many people still remember "Abbot and Costello meeting Frankenstein, or Dracula etc. 

I recommend the film for the family, but if you're expecting a really good Halloween film I'd suggest renting "A Nightmare Before Christmas".  Although you can do worse.   "Hotel Transylvania" is a fun film to see with the kids.  If you like 3-D go see it that way, but seeing without it did not hurt the viewing experience, and you get to save a little money in the process.  So you decide on that.

Judging from the crowd I saw it with I'm sure the film will do well, and why not.  It's the spooky season, and this film gets you in the right mood and while seeing it you may just get a chuckle out of it, and that's not a bad thing is it?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Mercenary (1968)

I'm a big fan of those spaghetti westerns that were shot in Spain and Italy in the late 1960's.  The Mercenary is one of those films that is pretty fun to watch.  Franco Nero stars as Sergei ‘The Polish’ Kowalski  who gets involved in the Mexican revolution.  The film is written and directed by Sergio Corbucci who gave us films such as Django (1966) , Companeros (1970), and The Great Silence (1968)

The movie is one big flash back as our Franco Nero's character explains to us how he and his revolutionary friend meet played by Tony Musante.  Musante gives a hilarious performance in the film, and he and Franco make an interesting pair.    Sergio Corbucci
does a good job keeping the audience entertained.  It is not one of Corbucci's best films, but he has fun here, and the film shows it.    Eduardo Fajardo and the ever nasty Jack Palance play the two villains in the piece, and Palance seems to have a ball doing so. 

For a spaghetti western the film shows restraint on the violence.  Corbucci deliberately averts the camera from the horror and by doing so he heightens the violence in an impersonal and more chilling fashion.

Finally, it is impossible to discuss the merits of this film without mentioning the outstanding musical score delivered by Ennio Morricone.  Everyone know his music from "the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly", but Morricone does here an excellent job in marrying both the image and sound together.  

The Mercenary is a film that is fun and well produced.  It stands the test of time, and should be enjoyed by many who see it.

It's currently on Xfinity, and is listed in the free movie section.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Mob Doctor (TV series) 2012

To continue with a TV theme here.  Saw the other day Mob doctor.  Why you ask?  Well I heard William Forsythe was in it, and I'm a fan of his.  He is one of the most under-rated actors, and is usually cast as the heavy.  With no surprise he is here too, but the story of the characters seems interesting.

The only thing is that the series has it wrong.  Forsythe's character is the one that is interesting and the relationship between him, the lead (Jordano Spiro) is the key.

I really do think that the medical part of this is interesting.  Like in the first scene of the series where a guy has a screw driver removed from his head, but I really am tired on how TV depicts the medical community.  ER in it's early days was the pinnacle of a medical series.  So was St Elsewhere, but ER took it a step further and it really grabbed it's audience.  Now we're relegated to soap operas.  Like whose sleeping with whom, and who is in love and out of love.  One word..... BORING!!!!!

Mob Doctor has a somewhat interesting idea and it gets it wrong.  But it's early and we'll have to see where the producers and writers take us.  Having a actor of William Forsythe's caliber can only enhance the series, but I hope they just don't play him as a straight heavy.  After all why was the series Soprano's so popular?  Because we LIKED Tony Soprano, and that's a credit to James Gandolfini as an actor and performer.  Here they have William Forsythe who has had his share of playing heavies, but can do so much more.  Watch Waterdance as one of his outstanding performances.  I can only hope and pray they use him and have him in more of the storyline.

One nit pick.  To the shows director of photography.  Stop with the sloppy shots.  I know TV series production is hectic and quick, but some of the shots where some of the actors eyes looked sunken into their heads were just bad.  Sure the female lead looked marvelous, but the actor looked like some demonic character from a horror movie.  Try some fill light please.  That's just sloppy, and as a production snob I have to call it out.  Also the MTV editing seemed out of place.  I know it was trying to get atmosphere into the series, but to me it was just filler, and if you have filler you don't have enough character development which means the writers aren't doing their job.

Oh and please use more of Zeljko Ivanek.  He too is an underused actor with great potential.  He is a great character actor who can be used more effectively.

So there is potential here, but whether the producers tap into that is any ones guess.  My opinion is to watch William Forsthe, and see how the storyline develops.  More of him would be better.  Jordano Spiro does a good job here too, and with such talent surrounding her she could really make this more interesting.

Just remember guy's it's about character development.  Make them interesting and the series will take off.  Stick to the stereo-typical character outlines and Mob Doctor won't last long.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Revolution (TV series) 2012

It's been said that the real innovative and interesting shows are on cable and or TV.  Revolution debuted this week and from what I can make of it it has an interesting premise.  My only pet peeve is why do the networks have to rely on the cliffhanger model of storytelling?  I know that it is to engage an audience and make sure that they come bask each week, but this model of storytelling is a bit frustrating.  Since the early 80's the networks have begun to rely on this type of storytelling more and more.  But the cliff-hanger isn't that all interesting either so the writers need to punch it up a bit and stop being formulaic.

The cliff hanger synopsis is not a new type of way of telling a story.  The serials of the 40's and 50's were just the same.  The studios back then wanted their audience to return week after week to see how the hero escapes or prevails.  So you see it's not new.  It's just gotten a bit more sophisticated.  The multiple story-lines in a series seems to be keep it's audience glued to the screen., but it does seem that it is more prevalent now then at any time in TV.

TV has gotten more competitive because it has many competitors and a shrinking audience, and where success is measured in the size of ones audience anything goes.  But has this hurt story telling?  Has TV become so dependent that stories just unveil quicker and faster then any stories in the past.

I guess some psychologists would say that with the advent of computers and multi-tasking the human brain can retain more and is trained now to keep track of many different  scenarios.  I don't know about that.  I'll leave that to the experts to quarrel about.  All I do know is that sometimes it makes for interesting drama, and character development. 

Revolution is such a series.  It has many different plot-lines, and the pilot which aired Monday seemed to have a layered construction.  I'm sure the filmmakers have it all layed out for them for the season, and it's this careful construction of a story arc that fascinates me.  How long can they carry the arc, and how long till the writers change it up, and try to get "fresher" without loosing their audience.

TV network is littered with shows that have had story arcs that have been less successful.  The series "Lost" comes to mind.  But I digress.

Is Revolution any good?  It's interesting, and presents a frightening post-apocalyptic world where there is no electricity, and man is thrust back to an earlier time, yet man's desire for conquest of each other still remains.

I have to say I'm intrigued by the series so far.  In an hour the filmmakers presented an interesting scenario, and maybe all will be explained in later episodes.  I don't know if they can keep the story arc going without giving the audience what it needs and that's a pay-off for viewing.

I hope they can.  But by showing us that some people have the power to turn on the electricity I don't know if the series creators have doomed themselves to a series that has an end or if they can keep being innovative and keep us interested.  I enjoyed each of the actors performances and really thought that I could watch these characters week after week and not get tired of who they are.  Maybe try and see it through the villians eyes, and make them more three dimensional.  That's the hope at least.  The characters are there, but they need to be more real, and maybe in time this will happen. but we'll see how that all pans out.

Here's hoping that Revolution is an evolution of a new type of series. Of course TV is not known for being innovative.  If TV executives can rely on the same old formula week after week they'll do that.  I'm just hoping NBC does something different.  Only time will tell.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Another Earth

Another Earth is one of those films that you start off watching and before you know it you're absorbed into the plot and need to see how it all works out.  At least that's what happened to me.  I had heard of the film and it's debut at Sundance and was a bit intrigued.  I was also interested in how the filmmaker made the film, and that in itself is noteworthy of another blog entry.  Needless to say the film is an interesting character piece.   Brit Marling plays Rhonda Williams whose life changes by a tragic accident she causes.  How she goes about redeeming herself is a fascinating journey.  William Mapother character is just as fascinating and compelling to watch as Ms Marling's.  As a debut film by Mike Cahill "Another Earth" is a film with some interesting concepts. 

The concept of two Earth's and different alternative realities is something that the film presents.  There is no tech speak on how, or why the event is happening, and that makes the film all the most interesting.  The science in the film isn't correct either, but one does not dwell on it, and it doesn't take away from the films story.

I'm trying to be vague here because the film is better seen when you don't know much about the film.  To me it was a long "Twilight zone" type episode.  The movie is slow paced, but the pacing of the film works.  It's the characters and their particular situation that interests us.

If you're not into these types of films I don't know if you would enjoy it, and a film that leaves you wanting more always peeks my interest.  If such a film isn't to you're tastes then you'll have a problem with it.

The ending has more questions and I like it that way.  For each viewer it may be different. 

I'd like to write more about the making of the film and how the filmmaker accomplished his goals on a shoestring budget.  Brit Marling, and Mike Cahill are both the writers of the film as well, and you can sense the time and effort they put into the film to make it what it is.  Marling's performance is quite compelling, and Cahill's direction is simple and very direct.   It gives "Another Earth" a quality I like.

I recommend seeing the film highly.  It's the dramatic punches and solid performances from the leads that keep the film so entertaining and interesting.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Introducing the Sony NEX-EA50 | POV Blog | PBS

Introducing the Sony NEX-EA50 | POV Blog | PBS

The following article is pretty interesting, and I do believe that it was only a matter of time before manufacturers put the bigger chips on the their cameras.

I thought the Canono 5D and Nikon cameras are nice, but to trick them out with all the after market gear to make them film worthy made the enterprise of shooting with them a bit pricey and a little complicated for the novice.

More info about the camera here:

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Savages (2012)

So I finally saw the Oliver Stone's film "Savages", and though I wasn't too sure how I'd like it I came away not hating it.  A film about narcotics trafficking can be one that leaves you kind of numb (no pun intented).  When we see the violence and the horror that drugs do it's hard to look at.  Look at all the other films dealing with drugs or the criminal behavior of dealing drugs.  Most if not all have a sense of doom, and we know that there are no happy endings here.  Oliver Stone on the other hand makes me believe and in some way care about the characters I am about to watch.   Stone does this by showing us sides of his characters that we can identify with.  Our three main protagonists are Ben played by Aaron Johnson, and Chon played by Taylor Kitsch.  Two buddies who are like brothers and have gone into the marijuana growing and selling business.  Both are two sides of a coin.  Ben is the more sensitive and enlightened one of the three.  Chon is the enforcer and has seen his fill of bad things in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I liked the characters and was more interested in their relationship then how they got here, but I digress.

Then there is O, which is short for Ophelia.  Played by Blake Lively she is the love interest for both Chon and Ben.  This alternative lifestyle seems bliss for our characters, and when  a Mexican cartel wants in on their business they do what anyone else would do, and try to run.  What stops them is that the Mexicans kidnap O, and hold her for our boys to do their bidding.

How our protagonists get out of this mess is what's interesting.  O is our narrator for the movie, and it is her voice we hear throughout the film.  This is it's only weak point in the narrative.  I understand why Stone does this, but I do feel that it would be a better film without it.   That's not to say that I didn't like it, but I was a bit distracted by the narration, and it lost me at some points.

Stone is a consummate filmmaker.  He always has been.  He is one of the most visual filmmakers since director Terrence Malick.  Both directors are quite different, and Stone has his visual feel filtered through pop culture.  Malick's isn't as forced and is more natural.

Other things that I didn't buy was how it all was too easy.  Easy to kidnap someone, easy to set-up a illegal business, and how ideal Chon and Ben's business was.  In a neat world that may happen, but not here in the real world.  Their are always others wanting more, and if it was so easy why wouldn't everyone be doing this.  The film glamorizes the southern California drug business and that's what I don't buy.  In a world where everyone is scheming for the almighty dollar their are always scams to be seen.  How everyone comes together and help Chon and Ben seems a little far fetched, and took away the reality of the film, but hey this isn't reality.  It's Hollywood!

The actors are all good here.  Salma Hayek, Benicio Del Toro, and John Travolta all do a good job at chewing up the scenery here.  I feel that in lesser hands this film would not have been as good as it is.  Stone does a good job here, and I enjoyed the switch that he does at the end.  I may not buy it, but then again this is Hollywood and sometimes happy endings are better then the real thing.  After all it's only entertainment.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Battleship (2012)

So Took the family to see Battleship.  By the trailers and the coming attractions it looked like fun.  I know, I know you're thinking why go to a movie that is based on a game of all things.  Well one it was hot, and two I thought the boys would get a big kick out of it.  Plus the director was Peter Berg, and I'm sort of a fan of his.  He's come a long way since being an actor on the TV series Chicago Hope.  I did like the movie The Kingdom, and I thought he was a pretty good action/adventure director.  In Battleship Berg pushes the genre and comes up with a solid action piece.

Is the movie fun?  Yes when it gets going.  It does take a bit for the movie to get going.  In that time we are introduced to the characters.  A lot of them are one dimensional, but we all have seen these character types before so we're all familiar with them.  There are the two brothers.  One a screw up and the other the serious one.  Alex Hopper is played by Taylor Kitsch, and he does a pretty good job at fleshing out his character.  His brother is commander Stone Hopper is played by the handsome and talented actor Alexander Skarsgård.  I would have liked to see Alexander Skarsgård more in this movie, but he becomes the sacrificial lamb in this movie.  What happens to him propel ls our hero Alex to reach deep down and become that hero we need.

Brooklyn Decker plays Alex's love interest and to make matters more interesting she is the daughter of Admiral Shane played by that talented and accomplished thespian Liam Neeson.  Neeson has some good scenes in the movie, and it would have been fun to see him in more, but when he is in a scene he commands the screen.  There are other supporting characters which I liked too.  Rihanna plays petty officer Cora "Weps" Raikes, and she's the gun totting navy grunt we really come to love and root for.  A lot of the actors are actual Navy personnel so Berg draws from this and makes the film feel authentic.

Like "Top Gun" this movie seems to be a recruiting poster for the Navy.  Seeing all the ships and the personnel made you feel that this is a sort of documentary of Navy procedures, and Berg makes good use of the Navy's help.

The story is simple.  Somehow we find this planet orbiting deep space and see that it may contain life, so we begin to broadcasting signals to it via our radio telescopes or dishes based in Hawaii.  Somehow the message is received and the aliens show up, and they seem to be pissed.  They create a force field where most of our ships can't get in, but three do, and on these ships are our characters.  I don't want to give the whole plot away because that's just not cool.  Needless to say we humans put up a good fight, but against a vastly superior foe we take our losses.

Now why the game "Battleship".  Well why not?  In the midst of the movie the aliens and the humans play a sort of real life Battleship.  Coordinates are called out, and to Berg's credit he makes the scene work.  You so want the humans not to get it and it's a turning point in the movie where we draw alien blood.  I'm not a BIG fan of tie ins, but it works here and my boys seemed to get into it.  They were rooting and cheering on the good guys.  In fact so was my wife and I, so you can say we got caught up in the action of the film.

Now comes the particular part of the movie that got me.  The good guys seemed doomed, and all seems lost, but the writers and filmmakers have a surprise for us, and all I'll say is that just because somethings old doesn't mean it can't work.  Berg again uses actual veterans of the old Battleship to fight the aliens, and it's exciting.  Put a lump in my throat as I saw our older veterans manning the guns and fighting the bad old nasty aliens.

So did I like the film?  YES!!!  We all had fun, and were very excited at seeing the action unfold before our eyes.  Is this a perfect movie?  NO!!  There are a lot of holes in the film.  One is why don't the aliens just blast the ships and go for their objective.  There would be no story of course and the humans would be annihilated, so no movie.  Also there seems to be something missing.  Taylor Kitsch character makes contact with one of the aliens and it seems to share his memories or thoughts.  In those thoughts it looked as though the planet where the aliens are coming from is being destroyed.  Taylor Kitsch characters says that he doesn't have a good feeling about the aliens "thinking that it's a planet extinction event".  Well first off the aliens behavior seems to be hostile from the get go, so I think his epiphany of the alien's intent is a bit silly.  Also the aliens don't fire when they are not targeted. and we see their point of view as they do not target ships moving away or not targeting them, so the filmmakers hammer this away at us through the alien POV.  The question I have is why?  If they want humans to die why not just blast them and be damned.  They did in one scene, why not in the other scenes, so you can see the inconsistencies. I think that through editing a piece of the story is lost, and that maybe WE humans are responsible for destroying some of their home world. Maybe its to make the aliens more benevolent and not so cut throat.  Hence the non targeting of ships not targeting the aliens.  Then again I could be wrong, but there seems to be a hole here in the story, and I just thought there was a piece missing to the story

That all aside.  Battleship is a GREAT popcorn movie.  You boo the villain and champion the hero's, and in a movie like Battleship that's all you care about.

Seeing it on the screen is fun, and the explosions and mayhem is cranked up loud as a summer movie should be.  I recommend it and I look forward to Berg's next feature.  He certainly knows how to play the genre well.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Dark Shadows (2012)

I had to mull this one over.  I'm a Tim Burton fan.  I like his movies.  Burton's movies are sort of subversive to me, and I like his humor.  While watching the movie I was struck at what type of movie it wants to be.  In the beginning it did feel like a straight horror/suspense type movie, and then it goes astray.  But I had to say I liked it.  Near the end I did feel Burton was going over the top, but it fits the film.  I love Johnny Depp, and he is one of America's true jewel.  In this film he does reach for the balcony in his acting, but then again this film is based upon a soap opera from the late 60's early 70's.  I understand what he was going for, and he really made me laugh with his performance of Barnabas Collins.

I know some critics seem to think Burton is re-hashing the same old thing he's done before, but I disagree.  I think Burton's style keeps evolving, and I think what Burton did here is what Burton does best.  I could not see anyone else do the material better then him.  All the performances were fine, and if you really listen to the dialogue there are so many nuances that I couldn't stop laughing that subversive laugh Burton is known for.  It's Burton's little wink to us, the audience, that we're all in on the joke.

Did I feel that toward the end it was dragging.  A bit, but the movie as a whole is fun, and Depp does a great job here.  In my opinion he always does.  There is not one movie I fault Depp's performance.  Even in films that I did not like that had him in it Depp still outshine all.

I recommend it as a good date night film.  Michelle Pfeiffer is great in the film also, and she looks great, as  Elizabeth Collins Stoddard the matriarch of the Collins clan.  The cinematography and set design is superb and I would not expect any less for a Burton film.  I enjoyed myself, and liked the parody Burton works into the film. 

But if your not into parody then I feel you won't enjoy the film, but because of the performances and the fine cast I do believe it has some worth.   I think it deserves a look see, and it's a fun nostalgic look to an era (the 70's) that some of us remember and I dare you to not leave the theater with a smirk or two.  I know I did.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

The Avengers (2012)

So it's been a movie waiting to be seen ever since it was announced.  My boys were eager to see it, and so a family outing to the movies was planned for Saturday.  From all the hype and all the publicity was the Avengers worth seeing?  The answer is a resounding yes.  Clocking in at 2 hours and 22 minutes the Avengers is a movie with a lot of action packed into it.  After all it's not just one superhero we're dealing with but 6, and there's a lot of story to tell.  The story is simple.  The Earth is in peril by the demi-god Loki (Thor's brother), and an alien race who has decided to help Loki take over the Earth.  With that the Avengers starts and doesn't stop until the final minutes of the movie.  The battle scenes are extrodinary, and the banter between the superheros is funny at times.  Joss Whedon the movies director does a nice balancing act of humor and action. 

My boys were mesmerized by the action and enjoyed the film.  I did find that there were pauses in the action that were to explain the set-up of what was coming, and this seemed to distract from some of the action, but in no way do I think that this interferes with the movie.  When the finale happens no on will be disappointed.

Movies like these are block busters and are meant to be more like amusement rides.  The thrill of seeing our heros come to life is amazing enough, but to see them interact with each other is such fun.

Marvel has been leading to this for a long time, and they have their audience already built in.  The box office amount in it's first week-end is proof enough that the Marvel brand is worth it's weight in gold.  The movie has something for every demographic, and if you think only this type of movies appeals to us boys think again.  Scarlett Johansson does some pretty amazing stuff here, and she is no delicate flower here.  Robert Downey Jr. , Chris Evans , Chris Hemsworth ,and Jeremy Renner  do all an exceptional piece of actting.  I was really glad to see Mark Ruffalo as David Banner.  This is the third actor to play David Banner and I think Ruffalo does a pretty good job here.  Even our villian Loki played by Tom Hiddleston does a great job chewing the scenery.

Is the Avengers worth the wait?  Sure is.  Will people see this again?  I'm sure of it and the studio is probably banking on it.  This type of movie brings out the kid in all of us and watching it with your family is only a treat one has once in a lifetime, so The Avengers will become one of those movies that audiences will talk about for years to come, or until the next Avengers movie comes out, and I'm sure the studio is working on that one as we speak.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Harry & Tonto Re-visited (1974)

Turner Movie classics re-broadcasted the movie "Harry & Tonto" last night, and after viewing the first few minutes I was hopelessly captivated again by the story.  The movie is a favorite of mine, and as I am growing older it seems to speak to me even more.  I've reviewed the film already so I won't re-hash why its a classic or why the movie works.

Instead I''ll just speak to it's authenticity and it's refreshing view of older people.  Paul Mazursky's direction is so well done that you feel that you may be actually looking at a documentary instead of a feature film.  Art Carney's performance is flawless, and ever so real.  The film speaks about today even though it was made back in 1974.  The characters that inhabit the film are all funny and seem to be cut from a bit of reality that even speaks to us today.

When one character talks about a coming "depression" you only have to think about the Wall Street banking crises of late.  As Carney's character travels through the United States he comes across some interesting people which make the picture what it is.  Art Carney carries the whole picture, and he does so with some incredible authenticity.  Carney's performance is outstanding and it's great to have seen that the Academy awarded him best actor for that year.

The thing about "Harry & Tonto" is that the message is still intacted.  It is still speaking to a generation, and it rings true. The film is a road movie of sorts, and through the characters we see a part of Americana.  Not many films do that, and not many films stay releavant, but Harry & Tonto stays very relevant, and seems to be a timeless classic.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Corman's World (2012)

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Roger Corman. Mr. Corman has produced and directed over 300 films and he's never lost a dime from his movies. Books have been written about him, and even two documentaries have profiled his life and work. Corman's World is the latest documentary that interviews many different people about Corman and his productions. The documentary is a great piece of an era that has long gone by. If you know nothing about Corman then after watching this film you'll know a lot about him. For us fans there isn't much new here, but there are scenes of him receiving his academy award for lifetime achievement which is pretty neat. The film is fun, and it's great to hear Roger get his due. He says some things that make pretty damn good sense, and he is not what you might expect from your typical movie producer. I would have loved to know a little more personal things about Corman. I mean he and Julie (his wife) raised three children while he made a lot of his films. How did he manage that? and sometimes you'd like more details on his films, but that's just me maybe. Since a lot here is stuff we already knew I did not find this too engaging. It's a love feast for Corman, and rightfully so, but I still don't think the definitive film or book about Roger Corman has been made or ever will. I'm sure there are a lot of crazy stories about producing and directing those movies, and they probably are very interesting and would give a glimpse more into the low budget mavericks life and work. If you're a fan you'll enjoy it, and if you're a bit interested in how Hollywood did business back in the day this film does give a little glimpse of that era. But for us BIG fans there's nothing new here. But that's alright Roger. We still adore and love you. Viva Corman!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy Earth Day!

This sounds fantastic and looking forward to seeing it. Cinema at it's best.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 – Whats New?

Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 – Whats New?

I'm a big fan and user of Adobe Premiere.  I love the program and I have done some really cool stuff on it.  I know Final Cut seems the rage, but I first used Premiere way back when and felt really comfortable with it.  The new upgrade is even better.  The above link will take you to Dave Basulto walking you through some of the new improvements of the software.  He's an awesome filmmaker.

Tak a listen!

Friday, April 06, 2012

The Samaritan (2012)

Not a bad piece of filmmaking! If you're into film noir or just plain crime drama's you might like to take a look at it. Available on VOD.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Collapsed (2011)

Read an article about this film and from the trailer it looks interesting.   The filmmaker (Justin McConnell ) is pretty honest about the production of the film.  He tells that for less then 40K they made the film so they could get the film into shape to create a screener, which in turn would be available for sales at the AFM market.  He says a lot of interesting points about indie filmmaking. 

These days it's pretty rock bottem budgets out there and even tougher to sell your film to distributors.  It's nothing I haven't heard before, but for a filmmaker to honestly say what it's like out there in the film market seems pretty refreshing, so you have to respect him for saying it.  I always believed if your producing a product your overhead has got to be low, and all the money you spend better get onto the screen.  It's a crowded market out there and you have to stand out, so you better have a hook for the movie or distributors will just move on.  The more money you pump into the screen the better it looks and the better it stands out from the rest of what is out there.

I would be very interested in what the distributor kicked in to finish the film, and get it's deliverables.  The devil is in the details, and I'm sure it was a hard climb just to finish the film.  Personally I know some of those details from experience and I always feel that the filmmaker looses something.  Again it comes down to budget and production value, and having that unique hook.

Check the latest Fangoria magazine if you're interested.  I'm very interested in seeing the film and hearing the filmmakers comments on the commentaries it will contain. 

Check out the trailer below.  I believe the film will be released sometime early this year.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Edward Burns on Low Budget filmmaking

Here Ed Burns says it simply.  Not bad advice.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Hugo - 2011

I went to the movies Sunday to see Martin Scorsese's movie Hugo.  To say that I liked the film would be an understatement.  In Hugo Scorsese uses his love for cinema to tell a tale of a young boy and old man who have lost something and how they re-discover it again together.

George Melies is a favorite filmmaker of mine.  I remember seeing some of his films as a small child, and they always struck me as fantastic.  The craft that Melies uses in his films is extraordinary, and I was always frustrated that documentaries of early cinema didn't contain more of George Melies.  Here Scorsese does this in a fictional film, while at the same time giving us the history of George Melies, and his films.

I just hope that when the DVD comes out that maybe it would be accompanied with a documentary of George Melies and his work.  Maye even some of his films could be included.  It would be so worth it.

The following video was from Sunday Morning on CBS, and it compelled me to rush down to the theater and see Hugo before it was gone.

All I can say is thanks Marty for the film, and thanks for all the films you've done.  You're a BIG inspiration.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

New Canon EOS C300 Digital Cinema Camera

Here's something I found interesting.  I like Canon's support, and have never had a problem with any of their products.   

Canon EOS C300 Digital Cinema Camera from B&H Photo Video on Vimeo.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Das Fraulein (2006)

Das Fraulein is a Swiss production about Slavic émigrés living in Zurich.  It is a simple and yet touching potrait of  immigrants living in a culture not their own.

The film concentrates on three women.  Mirjana Karanovic is Ruza, a Slavic émigré in her fifties, who years ago transplanted herself from her native Serbia to Zurich Switzerland over 30 years ago.  She runs a canteen in the city and she trusts no one.  She lives a life of loneliness, and isolation.   She and her Croatian associate, Mila (Ljubica Jovic) are confronted with the arrival of Ana (Marija Skaricic), a much younger Bosnian drifter, who enchants Ruza with her fresh spontaneity and zest for life.  It is between these three women that the movie focuses on.  The film is about barriers breaking down, and how through the interaction of others we change.

Writer/director Andrea Staka's Das Fräulein paints an exceptionally sensitive, multi layered, and richly textured portrait of a blossoming friendship between three women.    Staka uses the film to explore their relationships to each other and themselves. She (Staka) conveys the women's inner emotions of the characters very intelligently using close-ups, and stark imagery.  The feel of the film is very important and it conveys the loneliness, and the mundane of life.  The film looks as though it were shot with florescent lighting, yet I 'm sure the filmmaker wanted the look she got.  It works here and enhances the films emotional response.

The film is lensed with special attention to characterization and tone.  This makes the film very viewable, and interesting.    From Ruza's overly efficient life to Ana's carefree existence Staka does a neat balancing act in showing how the characters affect each other.  When Ana thows Ruza a surprise birthday party we can see the walls slowly crumbling in Ruza whose emotions are distant and cold.  I enjoyed the films use of characters.  I was interested in all three women.  All from the same area that once was Yugoslavia yet all of different age and mind set.

Mirjana Karanovic as Ruza does an excellent job showing how much hurt she feels behind that cold exterior.  It is only when Ana begins to tell Ruza of her own plight that we see that change happening.  Marija Skaricic as Ana really nails it as the care free women who hides the inner scars of war.  In her performance we see a slow realization that life is too short and one should enjoy what life offers and let other people in instead of keeping them away. 

The film is a quiet one.  It is a character piece where the performances are very good.  The director doesn't hit you over the head with lots of dialogue, or phony film making tricks to illicit emotion.  Instead she lets the actors do their thing, and through the films tone we feel what we feel.  Staka's trusting collaboration with director of photography. Igor Martinovic results in a handsome, carefully constructed visual style which adds depth to the film.

The film is worth seeing and is a pretty good character film.  The film is sub-titled, and the characters speak Serbian, and German.  The film is worth seeing if you want to see strong performances and good quality film making.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011)

I was interested in seeing the latest Mission Impossiable because I had heard that they filmed certain sequences in IMAX, and I wanted to see the results.  I've seen several films in IMAX and have always come away from the experience at just how clear the images are.  The filmmaker Brad Bird makes good use of the process, and the film really looks great.

I've been a big critic with studios making or re-making films in 3D.  It feels very gimmicky, and there still are those stupid glasses.  My little one hates them, and doesn't like watching a 3d film with them.  Avatar was amazing, but in the hands of a filmmaker like Jim Cameron there is no doubt that he uses the technology to his advantage, and to the films advantage.

The IMAX experience is similar but I have always come away from an IMAX experience that seemed breath taking.  The imagery, and the sound is fantastic.  

The story is simple.  This is not just another mission. The IMF is shut down when it's implicated in a global terrorist bombing plot. Ghost Protocol is initiated and Ethan Hunt and his rogue new team must go undercover to clear their organization's name.  The film goes to several countries and it looks almost like a travelogue.  The beautiful scenery will amaze you and transform you into the film.  The most and best use of the IMAX experience is when Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is hanging from one of the biggest an tallest buildings in the world, and that we see it is him, and not a stuntman.

The photography is breathtaking as you look down at the height of the building.  Then there are the performances of the cast.  The one who shines here is Simon Pegg.  His character provides the laugh track to the film, and it isn't forced.  There were some scenes that looked a bit forced, but I was easily brought back by the action of the film.

I cannot see this film make a good transition when it hits TV/cable, but there is enough action in the film to keep ones attention, but if you must see this film see it in IMAX.  It's pretty awesome, and the film really lends to the format.

Paula Patton is sexy and tough as the agent Carter.  Jeremy Renner is pretty cool as an agent who has some dark deep secrets that become relevant to the film, but it's Simon Pegg's performance that sticks out.  The film wraps up with more Mission Impossible films to come, which seem appropriate.

The one thing though that I felt which was weak in the film was the villain.  Michael Nyqvist
plays the villain and I felt that we didn't get enough of him to be a formative villain for the IMF.  It's a weak argument for the film.  But I felt that the villain needed to stand out more and he didn't.  So hence my mentioning it here.  If you're going to have a villain bent on global annihilation you should have one a bit  more better drawn then he was in the film.  Just look at all the Bond films and there villains.  Those villains are and were memorable.
But if you like action flicks you won't be disappointed, and I have to say I was impressed with Cruise's performance.  Cruise seems to be growing into the part of Ethan Hunt, and he seems to be enjoying it and it looks that way on screen.  If you see the film you won't hate it.  It's a good pop corn movie.