Sunday, January 31, 2010

What Happens After the Explosion? Lost-Season 6 Sneak Peek!

Television's LOST is easily one of the greatest TV Shows of all-time. Since the start of the 4th Season, it has been known that the show would end with Season Six, with the producers giving a definitive end date to the show. Ever since then the show has been propelling towards its conclusion, and come this Tuesday at 8/7 central, the questions will finally start to be answered.

One of the big questions many LOST fans have harbored since the Season Five finale in May of last year, is what happens after Juliet explodes the nuke at the bottom of the shaft? A bright light and nearly 8 months later, we will now know, but why wait till Tuesday to know what happens immediately following the blast? Check out this clip of the first four minutes of Tuesday night's premiere, released by ABC themselves. Be forewarned, if you're wanting to avoid spoilers, turn away now. I've gotta say, after seeing this I'm extremely intrigued to see what happens next, of course I can't say that I didn't predict this, because what's happened after the blast is pretty much what I thought would happen. Anyways, here it is:

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Budget DVDs: M:I:III


Sometimes there are films in which the public have never even heard of, and at other times there are films in which they have heard of it, but no one really went to go see it for the most part, thus it winds up quickly in a five dollar bin somewhere. That about sums up J.J. Abrams' Mission Impossible sequel, M:I:III.

In the film, Tom Cruise reprises his role as secret agent Ethan Hunt who goes on a mission to save his wife who has been kidnapped by an evil black market arms dealer, but be prepared, cause countless corkscrews lie ahead in his path.

J.J. Abrams directs a very tense and exciting action/thriller that one needs no prior knowledge of the Mission Impossible franchise to enjoy. I'll be honest, the only Mission Impossible I had seen before seeing this one was the second one, and I already would put this third installment way above the second in a heartbeat. Speaking of heartbeats, yours will be skipping every other pulsation as your pulse races to the finish line alongside Ethan Hunt. There are so many marvelously crafted action sequences, though the true standout is a helicopter chase that takes place at a wind farm in Germany where two helicopters fly low-to-the-ground, ducking and dodging the wind turbines. It's fascinating, popcorn action!

In classic blockbuster fashion there are countless twists-and-turns, tons of explosions, and lots of stealthy spy stuff, but what makes this film so intriguing is that it is actually a well-made film. The film has emotional resonance, and while I usually can't stand Tom Cruise, he does the action well, and Philip Seymour Hoffman is marvelous as the villain. Not to mention, you actually care about these characters in some way, shape, or form.

The only real misstep I felt was that all of the great action sequences are in the first half of the film and the latter half, while it does have its share of action, felt less inspired, but the conclusion is satisfying enough to sit through the end. J.J. Abrams milks it for all its worth, and it pays off.

P.S. You've gotta love composer Michael Giacchino's rendition of the classic Mission Impossible theme. It's astounding!

The Classics: 8 1/2


Federico Fellini's masterpiece, 8 1/2, was recently thrust back into the spotlight thanks to the movie musical, Nine (though, I don't know if you really would say thanks if you've seen the masterful 8 1/2, remakes are always awful). Hopefully this new interest in the original film could bring in an audience that has never even seen, nor even heard of what I believe to be, the most philosophical, and most thought-provoking film I've ever seen.

The film is in all actuality an autobiography detailing the mind and life of its director. It's a movie about a director without inspiration making a movie about a director without inspiration who's making a movie about a director without inspiration, and so on and so forth. It's part a movie about one man's mid-life crisis, part movie about the concepts of truth, life, and romance, and part experimental David Lynch and Terry Gilliam-flare.

The director in the film (which is essentially Fellini, but in the film he is known as Guido) is stuck on his latest film. He has no story, constantly making new things up and telling his crew to go to work on it even though Guido has no idea how it's going to fit into the film. The producer is breathing down his neck and Guido is pressured with developing a story, so he starts trying to draw bits from his childhood and his life experiences, such as the impact of all the mistresses and loving women in his life.

The film is so psychological and philosophical, your mind is always in constant overdrive during the film. It is a mentally exhausting film to watch, not only does it have subtitles, but the film is so rife with symbolism and little intricate details that it is hard to drink it all in with one viewing. I think it goes without saying, this is a very dense film, probably the most dense I think I have ever seen.

It is a surreal film told through Guido's stream of consciousness. At times we're in Guido's dreams when we think we're in reality, other times were in Guido's childhood when we think we're in his dreams, and at other times it's a grand hybrid of Guido's reality, childhood, and dreams. Though, it is because of all of this that this film has such an all empowering emotional and philosophical impact. Every single image, every single line of dialogue in the film has a symbolic meaning of some kind, and Fellini never spells it out for the audience, we must figure it out ourselves.

The opening sequence of the film really sums it up without any dialogue and just visuals. Guido dreams that he is locked within his car, the air unit is shooting out icicles. Guido manages to escape and soar off into the sky and to freedom. The film is a must see for any aspiring filmmaker. It is a film about the freedoms and confines of art, but most importantly of all, 8 1/2, is just simply an entertaining film. It is actually at times quite funny, and others beautiful. 8 1/2 is simply put, a masterpiece.

I give 8 1/2 an A+!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Old School Fridays: Back to the Future (Theatrical Trailer)

Last Friday was an extremely busy day for me, but no matter, whilst there was a hiatus, it does not stop us this week, time to dive into a new edition of Old School Fridays! This week we're taking a look at the extremely cheesy theatrical trailer for Back to the Future, the original, not one of the undesirable sequels (though, the second one does have its moments).

This trailer is so over-the-top, it makes the movie look like a laughing stock. While the movie is a comedy, this makes it just looks like Family Ties with some time travel involved. Regardless, it's always fun to look back and just see how much trailers have changed. If a trailer like this came out nowadays, there's no way I'd plop down ten bucks to see this movie, even though it's a fantastic film. Take a look at the trailer:



That does it for this Friday, tune in next week for another exciting edition of Old School Fridays! I promise.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Gimmicky Truth of 3-D


I feel somewhat victorious as a Star Wars fan right now. Have you ever wondered why people always judge a movies' success by how much money it has grossed and not by, say, a better method, such as how many tickets were actually sold? If you're gonna make the statement that a film is the biggest of all-time, you'd better have the stats to back it up, but in the case of James Cameron's Avatar, that's not entirely true.

I'm pretty sure all have heard by now that Avatar is officially the highest grossing film of all-time worldwide. Now, I enjoyed Avatar and I am happy to see it topping the charts the way in which it has, and no matter how you spin it, it still is a behemoth at the box office being the biggest film to hit theaters since Star Wars: Episode I-The Phantom Menace did in 1999. I'm mainly here talking about an alternative to reading film's grosses and looking more in terms of actual attendance, or in a better phrase, ticket sales.

The Hollywood Reporter and Boxofficemojo did just that, looking at overall attendance to come up with the real, definitive list of the greatest films of all-time. Here's the top 26 for anyone wanting to know how it turned out:

1 "Gone With the Wind" (1939) 202,044,600
2 "Star Wars" (1977) 178,119,600
3 "The Sound of Music" (1965) 142,415,400
4 "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" (1982) 141,854,300
5 "The Ten Commandments" (1956) 131,000,000
6 "Titanic" (1997) 128,345,900
7 "Jaws" (1975) 128,078,800
8 "Doctor Zhivago" (1965) 124,135,500
9 "The Exorcist" (1973) 110,568,700
10 "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937) 109,000,000
11 "101 Dalmatians" (1961) 99,917,300
12 "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980) 98,180,600
13 "Ben-Hur" (1959) 98,000,000
14 "Return of the Jedi" (1983) 94,059,400
15 "The Sting" (1973) 89,142,900
16 "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981) 88,141,900
17 "Jurassic Park" (1993) 86,205,800
18 "The Graduate" (1967) 85,571,400
19 "Star Wars: Episode I" (1999) 84,825,800
20 "Fantasia" (1941) 83,043,500
21 "The Godfather" (1972) 78,922,600
22 "Forrest Gump" (1994) 78,545,600
23 "Mary Poppins" (1964) 78,181,800
24 "The Lion King" (1994) 77,231,800
25 "Grease" (1978) 76,921,800
26 "Avatar" (2009) 74,823,00

So Avatar is only 26, where as 4 out of my 5 favorite films of all-time are magnificently in the top 14, including all of the original Star Wars trilogy, but I digress. Though I find these stats intriguing when, if going by money, Avatar is the biggest film of all-time. It all has to do with the price of a ticket.

3-D movie tickets cost, in some circumstances as much as $14-16, where as 2-D movie tickets cost on average about $9-11. Would Avatar be as big as it has been if it weren't a 3-D movie? I think it would have been big, I mean obviously it has sold a fair few tickets, but it would have not passed Titanic in terms of box office if the film only played in 2-D. I just wonder what makes 3-D so darn expensive to charge an average of $5 more per ticket?

In all honesty, I think it's a scam, and this is why the studios are trying so hard to push 3-D down audiences throats, and right now they're succeeding. They've hypnotized audiences into thinking that 3-D is the only "legitimate" way to see a movie and they have crafted this smokescreen to inflate their box office numbers and ultimately make billions more than they used to. It's good business, but it's bad for art. I would actually venture to say that majority of the 25 films above Avatar on the most attended films of all-time list are for the most part fascinating works of cinematic art.

Unfortunately, I think this 3-D revolution is here to stay. As long as people are fooled by the studios and shell out the extra five bucks to see a film in 3-D, the studios are gonna continue to pump 'em on out, which means, expect to see more and more movies, like Avatar, breaking box office records when at the end of the day the only reason it is really breaking those records is because of the gimmick of 3-D.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Anyone Remember Howard the Duck?


I will always admire George Lucas as a filmmaker , but I'm just wondering, what's going on George? The word is that Lucasfilm is producing a top secret film, but it's not just any film, it's gonna be a CG-animated musical.

I'll start it off by saying, we must remember that this is the same George Lucas that brought us the original Star Wars trilogy and the first three Indiana Jones films. The same George Lucas that put his stamp on science fiction with THX 1138 and made a magnificent memoir to teenage life with American Graffiti. Yes, this George Lucas.

The word is that the film is being directed by Kevin Munroe (TMNT) and that it is a story involving fairies written by Elf-scribe David Berenbaum. The project is very top-secret from what I understand, but from the little that is known about it, it just sounds as if it might end up being another Howard the Duck (Lucas's only misfire in my opinion, hey I enjoyed the prequels).

Now Elf was a hilarious film, and I really enjoyed Munroe's take on the Ninja Turtles, I just really hope that they're targeting this towards children and not trying to get that adult swim crowd or something. I can see this film actually working in like a Disney or Shrek fashion, which might actually make it a formidable adversary for rival animated films.

For all I know, George might actually have something here, after all, the little we have to go off of is not enough to pass judgment just yet, I just hope that the film is well-done. Don't make a stupid, cheesy animated film George. Make one with integrity, and please, oh, please let the animation be better than that in The Clone Wars CG-animated series. Though, if George pulls this off, which with the talent he has involved I think he can, it could be an entirely unique experience that might have that good ol' Lucas charm. That's all I have to say on the matter.

The Truth About "Classic" Films


What makes or breaks a "classic" film? Have you ever sat around pondering that question? This is something I've been mulling over for some time, and I think I have finally come up with a solution.

To start, "classic" films are very often nothing more than a cop out answer to cover up one's own infidelities when it comes to naming your favorite films of all-time. I fall victim to this practice a great many times. In order to impress fellow cinephiles, I am more apt to put more "classic" films in my slate of the best of all-time. But is there really such a thing as a "classic" film? Seriously, to deem a film a "classic", that is implying that the film in question is universally loved by pretty much all moviegoers, but unfortunately that isn't the case. For all of the people out there who love Citizen Kane, there are those like myself who think it overrated. Of course, there are "classics" still by a certain daft definition, a definition that neither I nor anyone else can deny.

Very often I feel certain films are considered "classics" purely because for their time they were considered groundbreaking and influential, but when you go back and watch them now, you realize that there were far better films released over the past year than that film that is oft considered by so many as the greatest of all-time. Citizen Kane, The Third Man, Breathless, all films that pretentious cinephiles consider "classics" that I think are overrated. These films are not the best that the film industry has to offer, and obviously since I am not their biggest fan, then they aren't universal in their adoration. Though would I consider these films "classics"? Yes.

The true definition of a "classic" in my opinion, unfortunately has little to do with the actual quality of the film itself and the story it tells. Majority of "classic" films are only considered as such because someone like Scorsese or Spielberg named it the films that inspired them to become directors (and this can be applied as well to anyone in the film industry). Most "classic" films are considered "classics" because they were influential and made some sort of lasting impact on cinema. Citizen Kane was a groundbreaking film, so was The Third Man, Breathless, even my favorite film of all-time, Star Wars, was a groundbreaking film, thus it is a "classic". Do I like this practice? No. If it were up to me everyone on Earth would love Star Wars and have seen it hundreds of times, but alas I know some who do not like the film, I even know a few who have never even seen it! So what's the point I'm trying to make here?

At the end of the day, are there "classics"? Yes, but that doesn't necessarily mean every classic you run across is a good film, that is why I do this series on the Review called, "The Classics," reviewing classic films as if they were released today. Sometimes I give a bad review, sometimes I say the film being reviewed is the model of a perfect piece of cinema. It can vary, cause when it gets right down to it, a "classic" based upon quality alone is impossible, therefore I try to have a little bit of fun and share my thoughts as to which "classics" are actually up to the challenge of being worthy of such a title.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Oscar Watch: Predicting the Nominees


It's about that time. By this point next week, the nominations for the 82nd annual Academy Awards will have been announced. Regardless as to what happens February 2nd, I am positive that this will be a slate of Oscar caliber films to remember for years to come. The real story for me is, will The Hurt Locker bring home the gold, or will Avatar continue its rampage to give James Cameron another Oscar for both directing and producing.

The PGA weighed in the other night, shockingly going with The Hurt Locker over far bigger scaled pictures, which bodes extremely well for the film's Best Picture chances. Of course, today's post is not about who will most likely win March 7th, in actuality it is nothing other than my final predictions as to who the nominees will be come next Tuesday.

Based upon where I live, the Foreign Language and Doc categories are an accumulation of word I've heard and read from other critics across the net, so I'm placing my bets on their same horses for the most part, though I did make some amendments of my own in these categories, not many but a few. Now I will clarify, this isn't who I think should be nominated as a whole, but who I think will be nominated (if you want the ones I think should be in there, look back at my Best of '09 retrospectives). So as it is said in show business, on with the show:

Best Foreign Language Film
The White Ribbon (Germany)
A Prophet (France)
Ajami (Israel)
The Milk of Sorrow (Peru)
The Secret in Their Eyes (Argentina)

Best Documentary Feature
The Cove
Food, Inc.
The Beaches of Agnes
Mugabe and the White African
Under Our Skin


Best Animated Feature Film
Up
Coraline
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Princess and the Frog
Ponyo


Best Visual Effects
Avatar
District 9
Star Trek


Best Make-up
Star Trek
District 9
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus


Best Sound Mixing
Avatar
The Hurt Locker
District 9
Star Trek
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Best Sound Editing
Avatar
The Hurt Locker
District 9
Star Trek
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen


Best Original Song
"I See You (Theme from Avatar)," from Avatar
"The Weary Kind," from Crazy Heart
"Cinema Italiano," from Nine
"Down in New Orleans," from The Princess and the Frog
"All is Love," from Where the Wild Things Are

Best Original Score
Hans Zimmer, Sherlock Holmes
James Horner, Avatar
Michael Giacchino, Up
Alexander Desplat, Fantastic Mr. Fox
Marvin Hamlisch, The Informant!

Best Film Editing
The Hurt Locker
Star Trek
Avatar
Nine
District 9


Best Art Direction
Nine
Avatar
Inglorious Bas**rds
The Lovely Bones
Sherlock Holmes


Best Costume Design

The Young Victoria
Sherlock Holmes
Nine
Bright Star
Inglorious Bas**rds

Best Cinematography
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Hurt Locker
Avatar
Nine
Inglorious Bas**rds


Best Adapted Screenplay
Wes Anderson & Noah Baumbach, Fantastic Mr. Fox
Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air
Neil Blomkamp & Teri Tatchell, District 9
Damien Paul, Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" By Sapphire
Nick Hornby, An Education

Best Original Screenplay
Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker
Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber, (500) Days of Summer
Joel & Ethan Coen, A Serious Man
James Cameron, Avatar
Bob Peterson & Pete Docter, Up

Best Supporting Actress
Penelope Cruz, Nine
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Mo'Nique, Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" By Sapphire
Julianne Moore, A Single Man

Best Supporting Actor
Christoph Waltz, Inglorious Bas**rds
Alfred Molina, An Education
Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones

Best Actress
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Saoirse Ronan, The Lovely Bones
Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Gabourey Sidibe,
Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" By Sapphire

Best Actor
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
George Clooney, Up in the Air
Colin Firth, A Single Man
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker
Morgan Freeman, Invictus

Best Director
James Cameron, Avatar
Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air
Quentin Tarrantino, Inglorious Bas**rds
Neil Blomkamp, District 9

Best Picture
Avatar
The Hurt Locker
An Education
Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" By Sapphire
District 9
Up in the Air
Star Trek
Up
Inglorious Bas**rds
Invictus


So I've rolled the dice a bit on a few of these, but none of the films I've rolled the dice on aren't out of the realm of possibilities. While some find it impossible for three sci-fi films to get the Best Picture nod, all I can say is it happened with the PGA, so it's not only possible, but it might just happen. We'll see come next Tuesday which of these I got right, and which of them I got horribly wrong. Till then.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Scorsese and Cabret, Desplat and Potter, and Avatar the King of the World?


First thing's first. I sit here, firmly of the belief that Avatar will become the highest grossing film of all-time by the end of this week. In a way, it's kind of eerie. Just at this point last year, I was talking to a friend and telling him that Avatar was going to become the highest grossing film of all-time if it managed to deliver. Well, the film did deliver (obviously), and has delivered to the tune of $552 million domestically and an estimated $1.8 billion worldwide! Crunching the numbers, Avatar is in second place domestically and worldwide, just behind James Cameron's other behemoth, Titanic.

To be honest, I never really thought there would be another film to reach the heights of Titanic again, seeing as how just over the past ten years the release patterns of the film industry had changed so drastically, with big budget film released after big budget film. What helped Avatar was purely the rival studios were afraid of it because it was so hyped, so no other big films were scheduled to go up against Avatar for weeks on end, and by the film actually being a good film as well, it has allowed it to reach the point it has reached. It's as if the rival studios just waved the white flag and let Avatar become the juggernaut it is.

Moving on, the composer for the next Harry Potter installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, has been announced. This is a hot topic of contention, purely because it has long been rumored, and even been believed due to comments from the guy himself, that legendary composer John Williams who scored the first three Potter films would return to score Deathly Hallows, but alas it isn't so. Instead Potter fans will get to listen to the musical stylings of composer Alexander Desplat, who composed the scores for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Fantastic Mr. Fox, alongside a great many others.

In all honesty, Desplat isn't a bad choice. He is, in my opinion, the best composer out of all of the non-Williams Potter composers just from his previous works, and if his scores on stuff like Benjamin Button are any indication, we're in for a treat. This still doesn't change the fact that I am bummed about Williams not returning. John Williams is my favorite film composer of all-time and I so wished he'd return to score the final installments and round out his tenure with Harry Potter, but I guess not. Here's wishing Desplat the best of luck, I believe the dude could bring Potter home.

Finally, something I'm real intrigued to see pan out, is the news from Variety that legendary director Martin Scorsese will next direct an adaptation of the children's book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret written by Brian Selznick. The book tells the mystery/adventure story of a young orphaned boy who lives in a Paris train station and looks after the clocks. When he tries to rebuild a mechanical man, his adventure kicks into high gear.

I find this an intriguing possibility, seeing as how Scorsese has never tackled anything quite like this before. To be honest, with this source material, I might have almost thought Spielberg would have been a more likely choice, but then again, such off-the-wall choice in director could make the difference between a classic or just your average run-of-the-mill kid's adventure. As well, the book is heralded for its highly cinematic visuals, so for this reason alone, it does make sense to get probably the most cinematic director currently working in cinema.

I just can't get over it, Scorsese doing a kid's movie, the guy who directed Taxi Driver, doing a movie that is targeted towards 9-12 year old's. I find this an astonishing opportunity, not to mention Scorsese has never really done a rollicking adventure film before. I just love the fact that he's in his 60s, the point where most artists start wearing down, and he continues to try and push the limits of what people expect and what he expects of himself. Whether Scorsese can successfully pull off a children's movie has yet to be seen, but I can't wait to see it! Imagine, a Scorsese film that wont have any f-bombs or grotesque violence and a PG rating! Oh, the possibilities. There is no release date yet, but it starts filming June 1st in London, so look for this one in the coming future.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Writing on the Go


Imagine, you're on a plane. You just got this one in a million idea that will make your latest screenplay really pop, and you didn't bring your laptop cause your bag didn't have enough room. But alas, you just happen to have your iphone with you. You simply pull it out, boot up the new Screenplay app, and start writing.

No longer do us screenwriters have to lug around our laptops to write a screenplay, you can now write one anywhere at anytime from the comforts of your iphone or ipod touch. Black Mana Studios has a Screenplay app available on the Apple App Store, available for download for a measly price of $8.

I learned about this revolution in the most recent issue of Creative Screenwriting, where it shed a light onto this awesome little app. While the goal of this app is not to replace your $200 Final Draft software on your computer, it is compatible with every major screenwriting software currently in use, including Celtx and Final Draft. What this means is if you happen to get an idea for a scene whilst out and about and are nowhere near your computer, you can just whip out your iphone, and just like writing out a text message, can write up an entire scene right then and there. As a matter fact, it is entirely possible, if you really liked your iphone a lot, to write an entire script on your iphone, and when you're done import it to your computer, and you have a professionally formatted screenplay that you could print out and shoot.

The biggest drawback is the fact that you are far away from the comfort of your large computer keyboard compared to the mini-touch screen that the iphone employs, and even though this is quite a steal for only $8, if you intended to write an entire script on this software you would be so doing without all of the bells-and-whistles that you pay 200 bucks for with Final Draft, or even get for free by downloading Celtx on your laptop. Regardless, I do believe this app could be the revolution in screenwriting.

As a screenwriter, nothing is more frustrating than having an amazing idea or a marvelous exchange of dialogue and then forgetting it before you can get to your computer that night and write it. With this app, it is now possible to simply write down your sudden impulses whilst stuck in traffic, picking up groceries, or waiting for class. This really changes the game for screenwriters, allowing us more freedom, and ultimately more creativity, being able to pretty much streamline our ideas on the fly without having them diluted or erased entirely by that horrid possessor of evil, time. I've already downloaded the app onto my iphone and played around with it, and in all actuality, it works exceedingly well, and for $8, if you're a screenwriter and have an iphone or ipod touch, I think it's pretty stupid not to invest.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Update: Predicting the SAG Awards

Update: So I did a little bit better tonight, accurately guessing 11/15 of the awards, which is far and beyond what I am usually able to do. Sad to say, I think this pretty much solidifies how the acting categories at the Oscars are gonna pan out, so take a good look at Jeff Bridges, Sandra Bullock, Christoph Waltz, and Mo'Nique, cause you're gonna see them all give their speeches come March 7th.

While I hoped for a few surprises, like Bryan Cranston or Tony Shalhoub, as a whole it was a very droll slate of winners for SAG. All of the expected won, and no surprises.

After tonight, some might wanna read into Inglorious Bas**rds win for Best Ensemble in a Motion Picture seeing it as solidifying its stake in the Oscar race alongside The Hurt Locker, but one must not forget that Avatar is riding really high at the moment, and Up in the Air is still hanging in there, and a strong showing from the WGA and maybe the DGA could keep its Best Picture hopes alive. At least Best Picture is exciting at the moment.

Original Post: Tonight is the 16th annual Screen Actor's Guild Awards (SAG), the only one of the Guild Award's shows that comes on TV, but I digress. In all honesty, the SAG Awards had snuck up on me, I had been so wrapped up in school work the past week I haven't really had much time to be spending on the Award's trail like I typically do. Regardless I am here to deliver my best guesses as to who will win the Screen Actor's Guild Awards tonight. Let's get a move on:

Best Stunt Ensemble in a TV Series
24

Best Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture
Star Trek

Best Actress in a TV Movie or Mini-Series
Drew Barrymore, Grey Gardens

Best Actor in a TV Movie or Mini-Series
Kevin Bacon, Taking Chance

Best Actress in a Comedy Series
Toni Collette, The United States of Tara

Best Actor in a Comedy Series
Tony Shalhoub, Monk

Best Actress in a Drama Series
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife

Best Actor in a Drama Series
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad

Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series
Glee

Best Ensemble in a Drama Series
Mad Men

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Mo'Nique, Precious

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
Christoph Waltz, Inglorious Bas**rds

Best Actress in a Motion Picture
Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side

Best Actor in a Motion Picture
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart

Best Ensemble in a Motion Picture
The Hurt Locker


Well, that does it for my predictions. Tune in to either TBS or TNT tonight and watch the SAG Awards at 8/7 central.

Production Diaries: The Rough Cut is the Deepest


Rough cuts are the demise of all creativity. This is my belief as I sit here, trying to assemble the very first cut of my latest film, Lost & Found. Horrid lighting issues abound, all over the place pacing, and just a genuine lack of involvement or emotion. To get an even better sense of my woes, the script was only 5 pages long, i.e. the film should only be 5 minutes long as well, and I'm only halfway through the film and this cut is already clocking in at 8 minutes.

At the moment, nothing is panning out the way I wanted it to. I go back and I look back over the footage and realize places where I had forgotten to do a particular shot that I was intending to get, and ultimately I am now paying for it, trying to assemble something I can be proud of and want to call my own. In some regards I am being too tough on myself. The lighting issues aren't bad enough to where they can't be fixed with color correction, and the pacing and involvement of emotion will start to develop in later cuts, I just feel as if this film isn't showcasing what I believe I'm capable of as both a writer and a director. Perhaps, I might feel differently in subsequent cuts of the film, but currently it is very frustrating.

I must look at this as a learning experience. My dissatisfaction has arisen because I didn't use my storyboards at all on set and tried to use my on set intuition. As much as I'd like to do a film without storyboards, the way the film was storyboarded was way more intriguing visually than how it was shot. After all, this is only my fourth film I've ever directed and I am still developing my own style. I've realized, to shoot a film without a shooting schedule, or looking at the storyboards that I spent forever drawing out, will ultimately come back and bite you in the butt, so it's best just to take the time and do 'em. I know that now.

The Classics: Breathless


Whenever talking to pretentious people, there are certain films always on their favorite films of all-time list. Mostly foreign films, along the lines of something like Amelie, or something from the ilk of Pedro Almodovar or Wong Kar Wai, and one of the more common films often given the top honor on such pretentious lists is the French New Wave classic, Jean Luc Godard's Breathless.

This film is often given a great deal of credit for its "innovative" use of the jump cut, inspiring the likes of Martin Scorsese in the next generation of filmmakers. Whether the film is "innovative" or not, it's sad to say that the story is nothing special.

The film is a gangster movie, clearly drawing inspiration from Hollywood's own film noirs. A gangster is being pursued by the police for murdering a cop and he must get out of Paris, but before he leaves he tries to convince an American newspaper saleswoman to join him as he flees to Italy. Ultimately, the story falls flat, never having any emotional connection and is a lot of the times being edgy simply to be, not because the edginess was needed to make the film more intriguing.

As can be gathered, I'm not the biggest fan of this film. The story never really intrigued me all that much, and at many times there were these long scenes of dialogue that ultimately built character, but had absolutely nothing to do with the plot and I was just sitting there looking at the time on my phone wondering when the film would move on to something more intriguing.

As for all of the "innovative" aspects of the film, such as the bazillion jump cuts and whatnot within, yes, the film did manage to inspire countless other filmmakers with its way of telling story in such a jumpy way, but in a great many ways, I believe that those weren't originally intended. While it ended up working in Godard's favor, you look, this was his first film he'd ever directed, whether it be feature length or a short. I mean, honestly there must have been mistakes (I had five million in the first film I ever made, and that is why it still has never seen the light of day), so perhaps what most consider to be the most brilliant aspect of Breathless in actuality was perhaps just a happy mistake, but then again the only person who knows the truth is Godard, and he's not telling.

At the end of the day, Breathless is not the best presentation of the French New Wave, you want that watch The 400 Blows. While Breathless is often cited as a classic, I believe it is merely a classic because it inspired countless filmmakers and that the film itself is not a really fantastic film. But then again, perhaps I'm just not pretentious enough to enjoy it? I don't know.

I give Breathless a D-!


Thursday, January 21, 2010

You Can Critique a Script, But Not a Story


The other night I had to sit in my filmmaking class at school and watch the rest of my class start a fifty-minute tirade critiquing and tearing apart my latest film idea. I'm not going to lie, I was frustrated beyond belief, trying so hard to articulate why I was feeling that way to the teacher and my fellow classmates, and finally it dawned on me, you can't critique a story.

In the film world, I do believe it is possible to critique a script. After all, screenwriting is an exact science. It is possible for someone, other than yourself to come in and critique a line of dialogue, tell you whether or not a scene is working, and make some suggestions as to how to open your script up a bit more cinematically. What I think is impossible, not just in film, but in storytelling in general, is to critique another author's story.

Every writer draws from their own life experiences, whether they realize it or not. That writer's personality dictates what type of stories they write, and I strongly believe that this is why you can't critique a story. A story is a reflection of the writer's heart-and-soul, and their own personality, their own beliefs in which they harbor toward life. To try and critique a story is like critiquing the individual writer.

In my opinion, any good writer worth their ilk does this. I can assure you Shakespeare wrote this way, even in more modern terms, folks like Stephen King or J.K. Rowling write this way, all good writers do it. Do you think someone like Stephen King would change his story just to appease some reader who doesn't like an aspect of it? No, because it's his story, not theirs.

There is no such thing as a universal story. Every single person on Earth is different, but that is what makes us all so interesting. No two people are alike, just how no two people are alike, no two people are going to agree precisely on the same things. Stories are meant to be told, but if they were meant to appeal to everybody, then there would be no more good stories left because the only way something could appeal to everyone is if it was diluted to the point to where it was devoid of any soul.

The point is, the reason we love to read a Stephen King novel, or a J.K. Rowling adventure, is we like to see that particular writer's take on the world and how it works. Will there be haters of what they write? Yeah, but for every person that hates it, there is going to be someone out there that loves it. In this situation, all you can simply do is write the story from your heart and don't care what anyone else thinks. Which is tough to do, on all accounts, but no one likes to read, hear, or watch a soulless story. The reason stories are so fascinating to begin with is because of the soul that the individual writer infused within.

Coming back to the world of film and my film class. At the end of the day, the people critiquing my film in class are not me, they have not had the same life experiences as I, they do not share my same personality, nor my same values or beliefs, thus it is impossible for them to critique my story for those very reasons. If I come across as stubborn or bullheaded, I'm sorry. I just want everyone to save your critiquing for when I've come up with what the story is, and rather tell me how you'd take the vague concept of the film and make it your own, let me make it my own, write the script, and then I'll listen to critiquing, cause as I said, screenwriting is a science, but storytelling is an artform.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Spider-man Has Cast a New Webb, MLK To The Big Screen, and Maleficent With Her Own Story?


It's official, (500) Days of Summer director, Marc Webb, is to direct Sony and Columbia Pictures re-imagining of Spider-man. I personally feel a lot more optimistic about this reboot at this time, this is a fantastic choice for a director. Just watching (500) Days of Summer was in some respects like watching Peter Parker's tangled web of romance unfold in the Spider-man comic books, so I have no doubt Webb is the guy who can pull off a truthful version of the character.

Not to mention, more on this reboot was revealed today. The film is gonna focus less on the badguys and more on the emotions of being a teenager with super powers, which is what initially attracted me to the TV Show Smallville. The word is the film will be filled with a bunch of unknowns and shot for a budget of about $80 million, so they're clearly trying to cover themselves if this reboot doesn't succeed. It is being said though that the film is being tailored after the New Millenium comics, Ultimate Spider-man and not the original Amazing Spider-man from the '60s which was what the first three Raimi films were tailored after. Ultimate Spider-man is the fantastic retelling of a high school aged Peter Parker and it has inspired countless TV Shows and video games, in particular the amazing cartoon The Spectacular Spider-man on Disney XD. To be honest, now that more has come to light about this reboot, I'm a little bit more optimistic, but I'm still a touch skeptical, especially since this Spidey film has such big boots to fill (seriously, the first two Raimi films were no slouches).

Moving on, it's been reported that director Tim Burton is mulling about possibly making a film detailing the villainous soreceress Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty. Maleficent was the vile sorceress who ensnared Princess Aurora in her comatose state in the animated Disney classic. I find this interesting. While it is by no means official yet, I see it in many ways as a big gamble, but that is assuming it will be live-action. Tim Burton has such a history in animation, this could be an animated film, possibly stop motion. It also makes me wonder whether the film will be a retelling of Sleeping Beauty from Maleficent's side of things, because if that was the case, and it just turned out to be live action, I would prefer them just to take the classic Sleeping Beauty cartoon (which is one of my favorite Disney classics by the way), and simply do that in live action. Just my two cents, but that could, in my opinion, be an Oscar caliber film, bringing back a good ol' musical with some Lord of the Rings action and not this junk like High School Musical.

Finally, it has been announced that Dreamworks has found a writer to pen their biopic of Martin Luther King, Jr., in screenwriter Ronald Harwood who wrote The Pianist and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. It was announced back in May of last year that Steven Spielberg had acquired the rights to direct a film about the life of Martin Luther King, but seriously, am I the only one sick and tired of straight forward biopics? I think Clint Eastwood's Invictus really cracked open the safe on how to tell a good, convincing biopic without making it a greatest hits compilation of that person's life. What Invictus did was it let you know who Nelson Mandella was, get a feel for his character, but it only took one event in his long and illustrious life and focused on that, and that is what made that film so entertaining to watch, I believe if a similar approach were applied to MLK's film, it could be a masterpiece, especially with Spielberg at the helm.

Seriously, the Beard is, in my opinion, too good to be doing your by the number biopic. I say, they should take King's essay, "Letter from Birmingham Jail," and adapt that whole scenario of King being arrested in Birmingham, AL, into a film. We could get a feel for who King was, see him get thrown into jail, and then watch how his experiences in the jail and trace experiences in his plea for equality in the days leading up to his being tossed into jail (revealed through clever flashbacks) inspired everything within that essay he wrote. This is just my idea. If ya want it Steven, hire me, fly me out to LA, and I'll write it for ya.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Oscar Watch: Foreign Language and Docs, and Will Avatar Win Best Picture?


Another week closer to the Oscars, it's time for another edition of Oscar Watch. As we draw steadily closer to the 82nd annual Academy Awards, certain trends are becoming ever clearer. Avatar is shaping up to be the film with the most nominations come February 2nd, and unless the DGA, PGA, or SAG can come up with an out-of-left-field winner, it's pretty much a two-horse race at this point. But let's get this thing started off talking about the final two categories I've yet to name my predictions for, Best Foreign Language Film and Best Documentary Feature.

In terms of Best Foreign Language Film it's really down between A Prophet from France and The White Ribbon from Germany (which brought home the Golden Globe). While some would like to put stock in Mexico's Backyard or Peru's The Milk of Sorrow, I doubt they will show up other than as a nomination, same goes for China's Forever Enthralled. Seeing as how such critical favorites like Broken Embraces, Red Cliff, and Sin Nombre missed the shortlist, I think it's safe to assume that this is pretty close as to how it will pan out.

As for Best Documentary Feature, really the only one I think with a genuine shot is The Cove, about mistreatment of dolphins off the coast of Japan. Some would like to put their clout behind Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story, but I don't see it happening for him, not this year. Filling things out will most likely be Food, Inc.; The Beaches of Agnes; Mugabe and the White African; and Under Our Skin.

If you wanna know what this looks like, here it is:

Best Foreign Language Film
Forever Enthralled
A Prophet
The White Ribbon
The Milk of Sorrow
Backyard


Best Documentary Feature
The Cove
The Beaches of Agnes
Under Our Skin
The Mugabe and the White African
Food, Inc.

As it is, the most exciting category of the year is shaping up to be Best Picture! This is exciting, purely because it has been a few years since this category has been so strong and could pretty much go any which way. The acting categories are pretty much locked into place after this past weekend with Christoph Waltz, Mo'Nique, Jeff Bridges, and Sandra Bullock most likely bringing home the Oscar; the only potential spoiler could be SAG this upcoming weekend (I'm still pulling for Carey Mulligan in Best Actress), but if there are no surprises, which I predict there wont be, then you can expect to see a pretty lackluster year for the acting categories. Still, with the likes of Best Picture and Best Director so heated up, I can overlook this miniature setback to this award's season; better than previous seasons when by this point we already knew who'd be taking home the gold in Best Picture and Best Director as well.

I think the talk of Avatar winning Best Picture is entirely reasonable, especially after Sunday night where it won Best Motion Picture-Drama at the Golden Globes. While some critics say too much stock shouldn't be put into the Golden Globes and their lean more towards commercialism in their own awarding process, it is still a major award all the same, putting it alongside The Hurt Locker, which brought home Best Picture at the Critic's Choice and their lean more towards arthouse fare Friday night.

At the end of the day, the Oscars is kind of where commercialism and art blend into one, so at the moment it is hard to really tell which film has the better shot, but that could make it all the more possible for a film like Inglorious Bas**rds, Up in the Air, or Precious to swoop in there and take the award away. Of course, the only one I think that has that shot is Up in the Air, and The Hurt Locker and Avatar are riding too high at the moment. While Inglorious Bas**rds has a lot of love and will most likely win Best Ensemble at SAG, that does not necessarily make it a better Oscar hopeful than Up in the Air, just because Inglorious had an ensemble cast. As for Precious, I think it peaked too early in the Oscar race and has to play some major catch up if it wants to hear its name called come time for the Oscarcast.

So at the moment it's a footrace between Avatar and The Hurt Locker (same for the directing category, though Quentin Tarrantino is lingering in the wings waiting to strike). Really, neither one has started to pull away yet, making it all the more exciting, and while I haven't seen The Hurt Locker yet, I'd really love to see a movie that I enjoyed a great deal win the Oscar, so at the moment I'm pulling full on for Avatar.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Farewell Conando


I've been trying to wait for something official before I decided to write about Conan's departure from The Tonight Show, but alas, it's pretty much over for Coney. According to Variety an announcement is expected from NBC today announcing Conan's departure and Jay Leno's return to The Tonight Show.

I really despise this whole situation. Conan has always been, and always will be my favorite of the late night talk show hosts, and for him to be treated in such a manner really ticks me off. Jay Leno just can't accept the fact that his contract had expired, and rather than move on he tried to get his old show back, which was never fair to O'Brien. I mean, seriously, NBC didn't even given Conan a full year at the reins of The Tonight Show before their failed experiment with Jay Leno failed at 9 p.m.; really, no matter how NBC tries to spin the numbers, The Jay Leno Show was a failure out the gate. Of course, according to Variety NBC is paying Conan anywhere from $30-$40 million to break his contract, so I don't think Conan will be hurting, but he still was mistreated in all respects by the NBC brass, I've even read from many celebrities that are siding with Conan, which will hurt Leno when he tries to find guests in the future. The main question everyone has, is what's next for Conan?

I doubt Conan will stay with NBC in any regards. The rumors are that Fox is interested in attaching Conan to a late night program, but as of the moment there is nothing official on the table according to Variety other than Fox's vested interested in going into business with Conan. We should know what Conan will do soon, but I actually love the idea of Conan getting his own show on Fox. He can pull a Letterman and finally go toe-to-toe with his biggest enemy at the moment, Jay Leno, then we can see who really deserved The Tonight Show seat. To solidify my comment about celebrity feelings toward this situation, just watch Ricky Gervais's opening speech from the Golden Globes last night:

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Update: Predicting the Golden Globes

Update: So I guess I should just stop trying to predict the realms of television, cause on that front I was 2-9, but in terms of film I was at the least 7-7. Seeing as how the Globes tend to like to go out on a limb, I based my predictions on that factor; some of 'em, like my predicting Robert Downey, Jr., panned out, my others like predicting Penelope Cruz, not so much. I did say that the Globes have tended to lean more towards commercialism in recent years, as is evident by the big haul from Avatar winning both Best Director and Best Picture-Drama. Really, as a whole the Globes kind of played it safe this year, mimicking the rest of the award's circuit in giving Best Actress-Drama to Sandra Bullock, over my personal favorite Carey Mulligan, but what can you do. I do have to say I wasn't too terribly surprised to see The Hurt Locker kind of being overlooked entirely, seeing as how it is an American made film about the most unpopular American war in my known knowledge.

Overall, the show was a blast to watch. In all actuality, they made all this big deal about having a host for this year's show, and apart from a short little speech to kick the night off, Ricky Gervais did nothing of any particular interest, I'd actually say Kristen Chenoweth had more to do at the Critic's Choice the other night. The true highlight of the night was seeing Marty Scorsese receive the honorary, Cecil B. Demil Award, not to mention Arnold Schwarzenager introducing Avatar. Really, I was satisfied to see Avatar be the big winner, but with Up in the Air only showing up for Screenplay both tonight and at the Critic's Choice Friday, I think it's safe to say the Oscar race is pretty much down between Critic's Choice champion The Hurt Locker and Golden Globes king of the world, Avatar. Time will tell, but it's exciting. Not to mention, Best Director is split down the middle at the moment between these two films, perhaps the DGA can mend it in the coming weeks.

Original Post: When in regards to award's season, the Golden Globes tend to be a completely different machine than the Oscars. The Golden Globes is voted on by the Hollywood Foreign Press, which basically means a bunch of respecting overseas film & television critics. The Hollywood Foreign Press rarely matches up with the Academy, part of this is due to them splitting up the major categories between Best Drama and Best Comedy/Musical (save for Directing and Writing, which I find odd), for this reason alone it is impossible to see it an exact precursor to the Oscars. Not to mention, in recent years the Hollywood Foreign Press has started to lean more towards commercial filmmaking rather than the arthouse and indie circuits that the Oscars and stuff like the Critic's Choice tend to favor.

For what it's worth, I'm extremely excited for this year's show. For the first time since the early '90s, there will be a host, comedian Ricky Gervais. That alone is worth the price of admission, not to mention this is the only award show out of all of them this year that if there is to be an out-of-left-field surprise, this is where it will be. So I've decided to sit down and try my best to decipher the Golden Globes and predict who I think the winners of each respective category will be. Let's get going:

Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series, or a Motion Picture Made for Television
Michael Emerson, Lost

Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series, or a Motion Picture Made for Television
Jane Lynch, Glee

Best Actor in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television
Brendan Gleeson, Into the Storm

Best Actress in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television
Jessica Lange, Grey Gardens

Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Grey Gardens

Best Actor in a Television Series-Comedy or Musical
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock

Best Actress in a Television Series-Comedy or Musical
Tina Fey, 30 Rock

Best Television Seris-Comedy or Musical
30 Rock

Best Actor in a Television Series-Drama
John Hamm, Mad Men

Best Actress in a Television Series-Drama
Glenn Close, Damages

Best Television Series-Drama
Mad Men

Best Original Song-Motion Picture
"I Want to Come Home," Everybody's Fine

Best Original Score-Motion Picture
Michael Giacchino, Up

Best Screenplay-Motion Picture
Quentin Tarrantino, Inglorious Ba****ds

Best Directing-Motion Picture
Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker

Best Foreign Language Film
Broken Embraces (Spain)

Best Animated Feature Film
Up

Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Christoph Waltz, Inglorious Ba***ds

Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Penelope Cruz, Nine

Best Actor in a Motion Picture-Comedy or Musical
Robert Downey, Jr., Sherlock Holmes

Best Actress in a Motion Picture-Comedy or Musical
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

Best Motion Picture-Comedy or Musical
Julie & Julia

Best Actor in a Motion Picture-Drama
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart

Best Actres in a Motion Picture-Drama
Carey Mulligan, An Education

Best Motion Picture-Drama
Avatar

Alright, that does it for my predictions. What do ya'll think? Sound off in the comments below if you have any thoughts, and if not, join in with me tonight in watching the Golden Globes on NBC to see who won.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Making Oscar History?


After last nights Broadcast Film Critic's Choice Awards (which the show as a whole felt a touch lifeless to me, as if everyone just saw this as a speed bump to the more exciting award's shows, but getting back on track), is it possible for this years Academy Awards to make some Oscar history?

Last night, the usual worthless awards were handed out first. Avatar brought home Best Action Movie and The Hangover Best Comedy Movie. As a matter of fact, Avatar cleaned up in the Critic's Choice Awards first ever Tech Categories, winning pretty much everything save for Costume Design, Original Score (which rightfully went to Michael Giacchino), and Original Song. I just wondered, why Avatar won Best Cinematography? 90% of the cinematography was animated, not real, so how can it win, or for that matter, even be nominated for an award such as this? But then again, there is some skepticism, even amongst critics themselves as to how much critics know about the technical aspects of filmmaking and how they can rightfully decide such a list.

Rounding out the night, the three-horse race between Up in the Air, Avatar, and The Hurt Locker got a lot more interesting. Up in the Air only managed to bring home one award for Best Adapted Screenplay, while Inglorious Bas***ds brought home three trophies for Best Ensemble, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor; could it be more of a threat in the Best Picture Oscar race than Jason Reitman's film? Though I wasn't surprised when The Hurt Locker managed to win Best Picture last night, purely because so many critics have placed it at the top of their Best Films of '09 list, not to mention it's won the most Critic's Awards this award's season of any other movie; then again, the critics don't always line up with the Oscars, so I think we'll have to wait and see how the Golden Globes pan out before a real justification on The Hurt Locker's chances at the Best Picture Oscar can be made. Though, the real surprise came in The Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow's win for Best Director. This is where things get interesting in terms of Oscar.

In the 82 year history of the Academy Awards, never has a woman ever brought home the statue for Best Director. Over the years, some have been nominated, but still a woman has never won. Kathryn Bigelow has presented an extremely strong case here as to why she deserves the Oscar, not to mention, after last night she is the frontrunner in this category for the Oscars. Seeing as how a woman has never won the Critic's Choice Award for Directing either, it is entirely possible also for the Academy to get political, much how they did for Dustin Lance Black last year and Milk, and finally give it to a woman. I think what might benefit Bigelow in terms of the Academy is that she has already received so many accolades for her film that it is almost impossible at this moment in time not seeing her making Oscar history come time for March, but I still wouldn't say it's a lock till the Golden Globes and Director's Guild Awards weigh in, but if they go with Bigelow, I think it's safe to say that this year's Oscarcast is one not to miss.

The rest of last night was pretty dull, going as anticipated. Mo'Nique brought home Best Supporting Actress for Precious, and Jeff Bridges deservedly won for Best Actor, but the critics need to break their love affair with Meryl Streep, because that makes two years in a row that she has split the vote for Best Actress and the award resulted in a tie between her and Sandra Bullock. Seriously, while I haven't seen Julie & Julia, the only reason Streep continues to win these awards is because the critics are on autopilot and don't want to have to step out of their comfort zone to award the actress truly deserving of this award (cough!--Carey Mulligan--cough!). As for Bullock, it's similar to when John Wayne won the Oscar for True Grit, they were awarding him for all the performances that he'd never won for or been nominated for and not the performance that he actually won it for, which is the case with Bullock here. As Perry White says, "Pulitzers are like Academy Awards. No one remembers what you won it for, just that you got one."

I will say, I am now really pumped for the Golden Globes which air tomorrow night on NBC with host Ricky Gervais!

Friday, January 15, 2010

How To Do Batman & Robin Justice

It seems a constant argument amongst fanboys about what to do with Robin when it comes to the Batman film franchise. Many fans have this deep-felt hatred for the character, and I can't help but wonder why? Sure, when handled wrong he can be annoying and just flat-out ridiculous, but then again, why fault him for something like the 1960's Batman TV Show or Batman & Robin, for problems that were all over the place and had nothing to do with the Boy Wonder. When Robin is handled well and dealt with utmost respect, his character surprisingly works and can add a fascinating dynamic to the Caped Crusader and his adventures.

I initially became a Batman fan because of Robin. He was my favorite character for all of my childhood, so from a pure nostalgia standpoint, I hate it when I see other Batman fans treat him as if he was garbage that has no point in even being associated with the Batman mythos. There is a deep-seated prejudice against the character of Robin, especially whenever talked about in regards to film. Let's face it, all of the films that have ever featured Robin were pretty bad, with the small exception of Batman Forever, but then again, as I mentioned earlier, George Clooney nor Adam West made a good Batman. My point is, if you're gonna condemn Robin purely because he was in a few bad movies, then why don't you condemn Batman as well? Batman finally got his shot for redemption, and until someone decides to stop blaming the mistakes of the past on Robin, he can never be given his shot for redemption. So this is where I'm taking my stand and presenting my case as to how I think Robin can be done in live-action, and be done the proper justice the character deserves onscreen.

It all starts with the comics. Like Batman, Robin has had his ups-and-downs in regards to the comic book realm. Most Batman fans still have the bad taste of the campy-Dick Grayson-Robin from the '50s and '60s, and many are still celebrating the end of the second-Robin, Jason Todd, at the hands of the Joker, not to mention the current Robin, Bruce Wayne's son, Damien, who is just so lifeless and annoying. But look at Batman, does anyone still let DC live down the Azrael monstrosity of Knightfall, and what about the '50s and '60s Batman as well.

Regardless, Robin has had his shining moments in the comic books. Tim Drake, who resided over the identity of Robin in the comics from the late '80s to 2009 was the most worthy successor to Dick Grayson of all the Robins, I'd actually even venture to say he was better than Dick, and who doesn't love the original Dick Grayson-Robin from the early '40s and the edgier, older portrayal of Robin in the '70s (which is where the Batman: Animated Series got its inspiration for their awesome version of Robin from).

The common complaint from fans, is that Robin can't be done in a dark and satisfying way on film without it being stupid and cheesy. Part of me does agree, the concept of a ten-year-old child going out at night and fighting crime is a horrendous possibility that will have mothers all around the world in outcry. That is why Robin shouldn't be introduced as a ten-year-old child, but rather as a fourteen-year-old Dick Grayson.

Think about it, the reason as to why Robin has never been done justice in film before is because no one has ever really tried to take the time and figure out how to properly do it because no one has ever seen a good live-action interpretation of the character. Here's my thought, introduce the character of Dick Grayson, aged 14, in one film, have his parents be murdered and him be taken in by Bruce, and then in the sequel, have an eighteen-year-old Dick assume the mantle of Robin. It could work.

In the first film, after Dick's parents are murdered and he is taken in by Bruce, he's just at that ripe age where it would be believable, that if he was athletic enough, he could hold his own in a fight against an adult male; plus, he's still a teenager so he needs a legal guardian, thus he must accept Bruce's offer to live at Wayne Manor. Then, in the 2nd Act of the film have Dick discover Bruce's secret identity of Batman as Dick is trying to exact revenge on his parent's killer, and Bruce manages to calm Dick down and takes him under his wing, beginning to train him up as his sidekick, under the provision that once he comes of age, 18, he can start fighting alongside Bruce as Robin, which happens in the sequel.

As for his personality, maybe tone him down a bit. He can still be spry, optimistic, and energetic, but make him less of comedic relief and more of a guy bent on revenge, but understands the line and will not cross it. As for costume, mute the red and green colors, plate it similar to Batman's costume from The Dark Knight, and voilĂ , you just got the perfect screen Robin.

Ta'da! That's it! See how simple it is, and see how marvelous it could work out and weave into the dark tapestry of a grittier version of Batman? I should get paid for this idea. Maybe I will someday.

Old School Fridays: Casablanca

It's that time again, time for another new edition of Old School Fridays! This Friday we're checking out the original theatrical trailer for the 1942 classic, Casablanca.



This trailer essentially tells you the whole movie in a nutshell, detailing some of the finer scenes of the movie, but in so doing they kind of give away crucial moments that could create some tension or genuine emotion upon first viewing. But I did love how cheesy this trailer was. Trailers from this period often utilized these awful, over-the-top voice-overs, along with adjective-filled-text, and really it just makes the film look like a cornballer fest, but then again nostalgic at the same time.

That does it for this Friday! Tune in next week for another exciting edition of Old School Fridays!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Production Diaries: Time To Start Editing


It's a real exciting time for me, it's time to start seeing whether or not any of the footage I've shot for my latest film, Lost & Found, will actually even work. I finally bought an external hardrive the other day, and I was quite surprised, because I did not expect it to arrive that quickly, it said it would take 2-3 days to get here and it arrived in a little over 1. Regardless, now that my first external hardrive has arrived, it's time to get down to business and begin editing the film.

Even though we dealt with bitterly cold weather, and our set continued to get blown over by the vile wind, the second day of shooting for the film last week went extremely well, I felt as if everyone involved had kind of finally hit their stride and delivered better work than on the first day of filming. Of course, I wont know if it's much better until I'm trying to piece everything together in editing, but of course at the moment I'm satisfied, primarily with my actors; Mr.'s Nick Recio and Aaron Alford, both delivered fine performances for actors with no previous acting experience, and I'd just like to thank them once more for their effort in helping make this film a reality, especially since they didn't get paid for this. Not to mention my Director of Photography, Paul Sholly, who helped this color deficient director a great deal.

Overall, I can't wait to sit down at the computer and start editing. Wish me luck that everything will turn out well.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Spider-man, Caught In His Own Web


I don't know what to think about the future of the Spider-man film franchise. It all started 2 1/2 years ago when Spider-man 3 hit theaters and was quite possibly the greatest disappointment I've ever had upon viewing a film, and I wasn't alone in this thought, many fans were outraged at how horribly handled the characters and the situations were.

The first two Spider-man films were fantastic, I even thought the 2nd one in particular was one of the best movies of this past decade, but alas certain things happen, such as unwanted studio interference and the desire to always try going bigger, even if that doesn't mean better. What us fans were stuck with was a film that we wished they would remove the wallcrawler's name from the title so that the shutterbug could avoid humiliation. Regardless, the cast and crew moved on and decided they'd like to give it another shot to rectify all the things they did wrong with the third outing.

Stars Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst, alongside director of the first three films, Sam Raimi, all signed on to do a Spider-man 4. I was skeptical, but I remembered that these were the same guys that delivered the first two, so I shouldn't condemn them for their lackluster "three-quel" as it was so annoyingly called. Though, word got out recently that Spider-man 4 was in trouble, many concerns were being flagged about the script and it was like a revolving door of writers coming in to do rewrite after rewrite, but then again, I thought, how is that any different than any other big budget movie made in Hollywood?

But, perhaps the troubles were deeper than I thought, because this past Monday afternoon, it was officially announced by Variety that Spider-man 4 was no longer happening, but rather Columbia Pictures and Sony were going to reboot the franchise with an entirely new cast and crew. They plan to release this new Spider-man film in the summer of 2012. The studios claim to be basing this new direction off of a spec script they received from Pulitzer-winning playwright, James Vanderbilt, who actually did a draft of the now dead Spider-man 4 script.

So now you're caught up, and can understand where I am with my skepticism for the future of this franchise, and this is all assuming that this Spider-man reboot can come together and get made at all. The goal this time around, according to the studios, is to make Spider-man more hip, or in other words, in keeping with the times. Their plan is to return the character back to high school and have him "battle today's issues" as a teenager. Their claim is to make it more gritty and contemporary.

Am I the only one that finds this all a bunch of crock!?! Weren't the first three Spider-man films all modern day films? And for that matter, why do we need to see Peter Parker have to battle with drugs or alcohol?

Personally, I don't. That isn't the reason as to why I adore this character, or for that matter, the reason as to why I go to see these films. I go to see these kind of films to see my childhood dreams realized on the big screen. To see the likes of Spider-man fighting Doc Ock or the Green Goblin, that is what I want, an emotionally resonant story about the challenges Spidey faces in saving the day, I'm not paying ten bucks to go see Peter Parker become an irresponsible teenager. Plus, if I want to see a gritty superhero film, I'll watch Batman, grittiness doesn't have a place in the pop art world of Spider-man. Not to mention, are they planning on retelling the origin, when it was already told to near perfection in the original Raimi outing?

Even still, I'm trying to remain level headed on this whole shindig. Currently, the rumor mill is trying to come up with a director, and the word has been everywhere from longtime Spider-man fan, Gary Ross (who directed Seabiscuit), to Michael Bay (Transformers). I'll go ahead and say it now, if Michael Bay directs a Spider-man film, I will boycott and try to rally as many nerds behind me to do the same, I will not sit and watch the travesty that was Spider-man 3 all over again.

Though, there is one suggestion I was actually kind of satisfied with. The word is the studio has been looking at director Marc Webb, who directed the fantastic film, (500) Days of Summer. The more I think about it, the more I realize that Webb's sensibilities are perfect for the character, granted that the only film he has ever made is (500) Days, but if that is any indication of what he could bring to Spider-man, I'd actually calm down a bit and get excited like my inner fanboy wants me to about this.

I'll just wrap this impassioned rant up here and just bring it back to how I started, I'm very skeptical as to where Spider-man on film is going at the moment, so Spidey, you'd better prove me wrong.