Sunday, May 30, 2010

"They'll Make It... They'll Make It..."

I hate that Dennis Hopper's dead. I hate that I'll never get to see his face in a new movie again. I hate that I'll never get to put him in a flick I make. But his life deserves a celebration... from chaos to redemption. I'm not planning to repeat his life story here, just check it out on any other news site, blog, or turn on the television. You'll see it come up somewhere. I just thought I'd post a little blip on how much I'll miss the guy.
He appears in some of my favorite movies and always gives a memorable performance. I'm using present tense because he'll always live on in his films.  And that's a beautiful thought. Art extends life. As long as Dennis Hopper's films survive, he still lives on.

He Shot Cyrus: My Best Post Blog-A-Thon

Over at He Shot Cyrus they've been having a pretty cool month. Their Blog-A-Thon pulls favorites from many different bloggers' pages and posts them up for discussion.  And I'm on Day 1!

Check it out. And while you're there check out everything else. Their site is pretty damn fun.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I Love You... Farewell.

I was there the day Oceanic 815 hit a pocket of electromagnetic energy and crash landed on an island... I was there when Locke found he could walk and Rose's cancer miraculously went away... I was there when Tom stepped out of the closet. So before you wonder how big a fan I am... just remember... I was there.
Like Desmond stumbling headlong into a race around the world he obviously wasn't ready for, tomorrow night I will watch the final two and a half hours of LOST ever. It's over. This is "The End". And I don't know how to feel anymore. Even if I never know the island's most intimate secrets I still love this show. I can't see it disappointing like BSG (Battlestar Galactica... note the BS). It only has one way to take us, and that's to an absolute finale. I know it will at least feel over when it's done. And that's important to me. I need a sense of closure from all of these characters. I need a Six Feet Under reprisal...
it should be that epic. And perhaps we'll get that. Perhaps the writers will give us a chance to say goodbye to all of our friends one by one... That would be so nice. And maybe, if it's good enough, it will be a tear worthy ending (there are so few of those).

The day of "The Pilot" I remember looking over to my good friend. We both had that look in our eyes. We both knew this was something that would take up many hours of our lives. So it's strange to think that after tomorrow night there will be need of something new. I'm a sci-fi geek, so this show hit the spot. And it's so hard because so few others understand the formula... the format... or anything that could bring another sci-fi series to this level of glory (though they do try). So what's the plan from here on out? Just wait and see? That is such a troublesome thought. I just have to wait and hope that another show will come along and capture some of this magic?

I love Dexter and Breaking Bad... but these are different kinds of television. They are based in "reality" and there is very little of the Escapist elements that make LOST so wonderful. So that being said, I challenge every television network (even those I hate... you know who you are) to find that perfect Escapist show and give it a real shot. I'll watch. I'll watch for anyone that can make it happen.

That's how desperate I feel right now... I would even watch CBS. If they could do it I would sit down every night and sit through the bull that is their advertising sect just to watch a show of quality, creativity, and mind. That's how big a hole LOST will leave in my life.
I love you... I'll miss you... See you in another life, brotha... Farewell.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Different Type Of Magic Carpet Ride

Sometimes movies are just magical...
I finally got to see How To Train Your Dragon. Knowing what I do about Dreamworks Animation and their slew of so-so flicks drowned in dated topical humor, I was incredibly surprised. My problems with the studio in the past can be listed thusly: 


1. originality

2. creativity

3. and vision.

When I say vision I mean foresight. It used to seem the studio couldn't look ahead and recognize how long there films would take to make. I never found the movies funny because they always came out too late for the jokes within.

This is what Pixar has succeeded at so well (among other things). An animated film must be written with a recognition of the future. What will still be funny in three years? What can we teach effectively (sometimes unnecessary, but since most animated films are made with children in mind it is in good practice to include this)? What has not been done?

Sorry Dreamworks, but talking animals who's lives have been thrown apart by some random event forcing them to learn to develop meaningful relationships doesn't count as original
or visionary.
(See any similarities?)

Unless of course there is an epic injection of quality...
but obviously this is very hard to do. Anyway, How To Train Your Dragon has broken the cycle. In an increasingly animated world Dreamworks has found what they need to actually battle Pixar in the quality war. Interesting, original stories that can survive and likely stand the test of time. I'm glad of this. It's been more than a decade since The Prince Of Egypt.
Back when Dreamworks thought they could still tell a story. Then came Shrek...
a movie that spawned a generation of pointless, mostly forgettable trash. 

Too harsh? Let's list 'em: Shark Tale, Madagascar (which I actually like), Over The Hedge, Shrek The Third, Bee Movie, Kung Fu Panda, and lastly Monsters Vs. Aliens (I've only listed the originals with special inclusion of Shrek The Third for how frickin' bad it is).

Monsters Vs. Aliens is actually a big piece of why I wrote this article. It broke the formula (slightly) but did not manage to achieve vision. Listen to the jokes. Will they be funny in Ten years? Five? Are they actually still funny now?

So... I say go see How To Train Your Dragon. They got it... at last. A movie that will still be a movie in another decade. It doesn't try so heavy handedly to make you laugh. Rather, it charms you. And gosh darn if I can remember the last time I saw a Viking flick... oh yeah, The 13th Warrior, back in 1999. Wow. Bravo Dreamworks Animation. Keep searching the pool until you find more like this... fun, interesting, and original ideas.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Everything Returns To The Sun

I just finished my first round of online classes and it feels pretty good. Knowing that I need to want it, and I'm proving that I do... I feel accomplished. Since getting a job at the ArcLight, life's been a rampage of good feelings and hope for the future. I've been back to writing a new story and I'm working on getting my first one into a magazine (though, the way magazines are heading it'd just be to say I'm a published author etc. etc.). It would be exciting for me. Finally being able to have at least one dream realized. But I have to wait, wait for each magazine to respond one at a time, and they always take months. So it's a painful process. But life is good. Recently someone I was speaking to said "Life just sucks" and it made me feel very sad. I think life is just what we make of it... and if we let it suck, guess what... so, my logical statement is we're born and we die...

Eventually our bodies disappear into the Earth and eventually the Earth will return to the sun, and despite all of my talk about space exploration, it still ends the same, no matter where we are... Earth or some distant planet. We will always return to the center. It is inevitable. And with one of my favorite shows ending in a week, I'm just so thankful to be around to see its finale. Sometimes people never make it to the endpoint. Sometimes endpoints aren't worth it... But I have faith. LOST is gonna give us a real, solid ending and that's all anyone can ask for after six years. A solid ending, a point from which to draw a line and say this is what it led to.
Anyway, my favorite thing right now is having NEW movies back... being able to go see flicks in a theater whenever I want. It makes me feel like a whole person again

and the knowledge that Everything Returns To The Sun:
1. Daylight And The Sun - Antony & The Johnsons
2. The Moon Asked The Crow - CocoRosie
3. It Never Rains - Dire Straits
4. Baby Blue - Dave Matthews Band
5. Moses Don't Get Lost - The Duhks
6. Thieves - She & Him
7. All The Beautiful Things - Eels
8. Demetrius - Sufjan Stevens
9. Epitaph - King Crimson
10. Walk With Me - Moby
11. Flash's Theme - Louis XIV
12. Lucid Dreams - Franz Ferdinand
13. Man Of A Thousand Faces - Regina Spektor
14. Midnight - Red Hot Chili Peppers
15. Lemonade - CocoRosie
16. Cloud Of Unknowing - Gorillaz
17. What Was It You Wanted - Bob Dylan

Monday, May 10, 2010

Music Meme... Memo??

Was tagged here by Silver Screener to participate in this "meme about music". Thanks bud.

1. Open up your iTunes, music player, spin the CD, whatever, hit shuffle and tell us what is the first song to play?

"Either Way" by Wilco... my iTunes knows what I like.

2. Name your top five favorite bands/musicians of all time.
Currently, David Bowie (duh), The Flaming Lips, Radiohead, Sufjan Stevens, CocoRosie.

3. What was your first CD to own? (8 track, record, CD, MP3 for the newbies)
Running With Scissors by Weird Al... Yeah...
4. Of all the bands/artists in your cd/record collection, which one do you own the most albums by?
Actual CDs?

David Bowie... if I remember correctly. But I've got lots by The Flaming Lips, Radiohead, and Eels.

5. What was the last song you listened to?
"Another World" by Antony & The Johnsons.

6. What song would you say sums you up?ummmm... "Sleepin' Is All I Wanna Do (Stars On A Sunny Day)" by The Duhks. 'Cause sometimes that's really the truth.

7. What's your favourite local band or band that originated from your hometown?
This is a no go. I actually don't like any of the bands I've known to originate from Springs (Wooo harsh).

8. What's the greatest concert you've ever been to?
I got in to the last show of Coldplay before they went back over seas... for free. I think that's the best experience I've had at a concert. The whole place was just so full of love.

9. What musician would you like to hang out with for a day?
Regina Spektor... cause I'm in love.

10. What was the greatest decade for music?
My opinion is constantly changing. I'll go ahead and say... right now. Any time it is right now is the best time for music. Like I'm waiting on two albums right now I expect to knock my socks off and two months ago, when it was right now I was blown away... and last year when it was right now I was so happy with new music.

11. What is your favorite movie soundtrack?

The "I'm Not There" soundtrack is pretty damn amazing.
12. What's the most awful CD/record/etc. you've ever bought?I once bought a Pixies best of album and quickly discovered I only even remotely liked two of the tracks. Talk about a bad investment.

13. What's your favorite band t-shirt or poster?I don't have many band posters... so let's just say, the Bloc Party poster of the couple making out from that special NY concert a few years back.

14. Rolling Stones or The Beatles?
The Beatles... The Stones don't even come close for me.

15. What is the one song you would most like played at your funeral? Your birthday? While on a romantic date?Right now I'd have to say "Maundering" by Bonnie "Prince" Billy. Just a great track.

And yeah, I'll tag
Oh,Cinema... That's all I got.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Stanley Kubrick

This is serious. I am about to talk about the greatest director of all time. Big words? No. Stanley Kubrick deserves the title. This week I watched the last (accessible) film I hadn't seen by the master. So now I feel I can discuss what it is that makes his films so gosh darn good.
If you've never seen Killer's Kiss you'll probably be okay. It's a good flick, just short of greatness. You can tell what the man is aiming towards and you can probably see the restrictions he was held to. It's awesomely shot. That's the key here. You can see his voice in the angles. But still, not his best feature... nowhere near.

If you've never seen The Killing you should give it a chance. Man is that a fun flick. Again, the man was just warming up. But great things are just creeping in at every corner.

If you've never seen Paths Of Glory... what the hell are you waiting for?? One of the greatest war films of all time. My problem with War as a genre usually lies in the lack of plot and character development. Well watch this movie and you'll never once get a sense of lacking.

You've probably seen Spartacus. You probably already know how good it is. But it's still not his best. It's an epic. And epics have their place. But rarely do they fit into the "most entertaining" clique.

Lolita. Oh Lolita. A push towards something amazing and unseen on the big screen to this point. If only he had the same freedom, during the making of this, he did later in life.
You love Dr. Strangelove? Well what a coincidence, so do I. Why don't we go have a drink and talk about how great it is?

2001: a space odyssey is mesmerizing. The fact that this is a film about 30 years in the future taking place 10 years ago and we still haven't reached the technological level at play. What's taking so long? If you like crazy weird lights shooting at you... it's totally your movie. If not, you'll probably still like it.
A Clockwork Orange. Controversial? Classic? And such an incredibly well directed film. Perfect cast. Crazy and fancy free. I don't think anyone can dislike the creativity on display.

I think Barry Lyndon is beautiful. Slow? Sure, but just the right pace for the story being told. Just to understand the lighting is to take a class in the genius of filmmaking.
I love love love The Shining. I think it's best with a group and no lights and all of that. The flick's got a reputation for a reason.

I don't much care for Full Metal Jacket. It doesn't feel like a full movie... in fact it has all of the faults I praise Paths Of Glory for not having. That's about all I have to say about that.

I do like Eyes Wide Shut. Maybe I'm just a sucker for strange happenings etc etc... but I really think it's a good flick. I don't know what makes so many people so negative towards it. Perhaps just the fact that it's the last thing Kubrick ever finished. And yes that is sad, but I'm glad he made it. I think he had to.

I haven't listed the mini documentaries here... and his first film which is locked up in some vault somewhere. But I'd like to take a moment and talk about what makes these movies so good.

They have a clear sense of setting, emotion, and meaning. When you watch one of these films, though none of them feel the same, they all feel honest. They stem from something pure, a feeling. And when you hear about Kubricks process it makes it all that more mythical. He would do as many takes necessary to get the shot he wanted. And it seems he was always right. Sadly most directors will say, "good enough," and move on to the next shot. I recognize that there is a schedule, and I have been on sets that have taken FOREVER, but sometimes the ends really do justify the means.

Anyway, I just wanted to follow up on my last entry with this little article... love letter. Recognizing the quality that I would like to someday attain is important. And that is the talent of Kubrick to me.