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.