Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Teasing The Dragon

I was a big fan of the initial teaser for David Fincher's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

It was concise and seemed to give us just a brief idea of what his vision of the story felt like. Yes, I've seen the original Millennium Trilogy. I've never read the books, but I'm assuming the two were pretty similar. So it's not without meaning that Fincher would release this new trailer,

a blunt spectacle that nearly gives away every facet of the story. It's impeccable that Fincher would be wise enough to let the many many existing fans of the original trilogy know just how true he would be staying to the story.
True, it may alienate anyone who hasn't seen the originals. But it seems like a risk worth taking when you know you'll garner the respect of those first fans (of whom there are quite a few). I personally think it's a smart business decision. I think it gives the project some much needed integrity. I guess what I'm trying to say is: I like the trailer, all three minutes and fourty-two seconds of it.

What do y'all think?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Favorite Films: The Lion King

In 1994 something wonderful happened. Walt Disney Pictures released a film unlike anything they had ever done before. The scope of The Lion King is surprisingly large, it encompasses many years and manages to tug on more than a few heart strings. The characters are incredibly well thought out and add to an already entertaining story of intrigue, familial bond, and greater purpose. True, it is Hamlet... sort of. And yes it's made with a family mentality, but it still manages to get dark and violent at times: Scar is just a sick character and Jeremy Irons plays him to perfection.
I grew up on this movie. It was probably the most watched thing at my house during my Elementary years. Timon and Pumbaa, Zazu, Rafiki these are all the fun characters I used to wish were my friends. Mufasa is such a great father figure to the Simba we cannot help but identify with. Nala is amazing with a personality to match. And the Hyenas are just such fun, evil guys/girls.
But I can't just focus on the characters. Elton John, Tim Rice, and Hans Zimmer did an impressive job of soundscaping the feature. Somehow every musical number just feels perfect. I rewatched the 3D edition in theatres last week and couldn't stop singing along (So glad The Morning Report wasn't in this cut).

In that most recent viewing I discovered that Rowan Atkinson voiced Zazu... something I had never realized before. I had always been aware of the rest of the cast (it is star studded): Matthew Broderick, James Earl Jones, Nathan Lane, Jeremy Irons, Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin, and Jonathan Taylor Thomas. But somehow I had missed Rowan Atkinson. Oh and Robert Guillaume... but I think he's more of a personal celebrity... like I love him from Sports Night, but here he just kills as Rafiki.

There's not much I can say that hasn't already been said. The Lion King is one of those perfect films. I could watch it today and get just as much out of it as I did as a child. If you get a chance to see it in theatres right now, I'm telling you it's worth a revisit. You've only got a week. Then the Blu-Ray comes out and believe me, I am excited for that.

The List So Far:
1927 - Metropolis - Fritz Lang
1928 - Steamboat Willie - Ub Iwerks
1931 - M - Fritz Lang
1932 - Tarzan, The Ape Man - W. S. Van Dyke
1933 - King Kong - Merian C. Cooper +
1934 - It Happened One Night - Frank Capra
1936 - Modern Times - Charles Chaplin
1957 - Funny Face - Stanley Donen
1966 - Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? - Mike Nichols
1982 - The Thing - John Carpenter
1984 - Brazil - Terry Gilliam
1986 - Labyrinth - Jim Henson
1994 - The Lion King - Roger Allers/Rob Minkoff

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Vampire In Atlanta

UPDATE: Vampire Vampire Vampire Vampire - 2011 Best Comedy Short (Atlanta Horror Film Festival)!!

We spent this last weekend in Atlanta promoting our short film Vampire Vampire Vampire Vampire at the Atlanta Horror Film Festival. It was a great experience and I'm thankful everything worked out and we were able to show our faces. If I say the event was a success I'd probably be underselling it. Our film which was originally scheduled to screen once on the evening of the 17th actually showed a total of three times to rather sizable audiences and always to much positivity. This is new to me, the Film Fest circuit. Four of us went with the movie and of those four only one had ever actually been to something like this before. Granted we played LA Shorts pretty recently, but that was local and we only made it out for the one day. In Atlanta we watched a pretty sizable amount of the festival spending three days in attendance and I can attest to being surprised and excited by the quality of some of the work that was shown. I'd like to sight one very cool film that I think more people should see: Der Sandmann which played to a much smaller house (about 8 people). I think this'll win Best Foreign Feature once the awards come out and I am hopeful for our film's success in its own categories.

More impressive than the festival (which was pretty impressive) was the venue its self.
If you ever come to Atlanta for a long weekend and you've got some extra time, check out The Goat Farm. It's sort of a haven for artists of all walks. Truly, creatively stimulating in its own right, the old buildings lend housing to at least 70 artists at any given time (usually more). Our producer/co-writer made a point of saying "I'd definitely go back to live and write for a month, away from the pressures LA." And I agree. It's just a cool place filled with cool people doing what they love most. And doing it well.
I'd also like to comment on our hotel. We stayed at the Inn At The Peachtrees. It's a small Best Western that's recently gone through some very cool renovations. The rooms were very nice and once again the employees were just incredibly helpful and friendly. If I ever return to Atlanta, I'll definitely try to book a room with them. I've never felt so welcome in a strange place as I did on this trip. It makes me excited about my own journey, what I'm working on right now, and all the things that come next. But for now I guess I'm headed back to real life. Somehow even that seems brighter.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


I just saw Warrior for the first time. I say "for the first time" because I sincerely intend to go see it again. Yes, it's that good. I was surprised by the affect such a simple story could have over me. Warrior is one of those rare films that manages to reflect something of a viewer back at them (By that I mean it is surprising in its ability to evoke empathy). This is a movie with heart. What was that tag line again? "Family is worth fighting for." I like it.

In the theatre, I found myself feeling genuine emotions; truly hoping for the two brothers to find their way. I later had a conversation with a co-worker who had an incredibly similar experience. You should go see this movie. Everyone should. Give it a shot. It's not The Fighter. I don't know why people even began comparing the two (Yeah, they're both about professional fighters... and there are two brothers in each of them, but the resemblances end there). I like The Fighter a lot, but this is something else entirely.

The acting is excellent. Joel Edgerton just killed it. And I couldn't even recognize Tom Hardy
Tom Hardy
in Tommy.

Hell even Nick Nolte turned out a great performance, something I have found to be rather rare in the past. Jennifer Morrison was delightful. There's a moment in the third act when all she has to do is smile and I just fall to pieces.

The direction is interesting and consistently eye catching. And there was a very strange quality to the writing, something I like but can't quite place my finger on. Perhaps I'll have more to report after seeing it again.

I love filmmaking like this. You hear that, Gavin O'Connor? I want more!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Miracle Gardens

Sometimes I think about the way the world changes, the glass bulb that flinches like society. Is it really true that we don't know where we stand in the grand scheme of the universe? Or what is the universe, for that matter? When I come around from the daze of contemplation I often recognize that I myself have gone through a quick change of my own. Every day I see the world, and every day I find something new in that something. If you can bare to be in your mind and thinking; if you don't mind hearing your own voice in your head jumping from one concept to another, allowing you to understand how those two things make sense together, or why that was made in the same universe as this. You should try to. I bleed to find those answers. Every day I search and search, and I am only unhappy when I come in contact with something that I haven't solved yet. Because each person, each moment is a puzzle with something hidden just under the surface that can unlock a door.

I often wonder about the rest of the world; what I know of it which is very little (I've never been off the continent), and how we work with it: exist with it. Why are we fighting? I don't mean we shouldn't protect ourselves, that'd be stupid. I just mean, there's no reason to if we can find peace in a world that is only sometimes spiteful. Eventually countries change their minds and see peace as a better option. Be the bigger man. Let the words fall on the table and see who picks them up. It may be that we've been disagreeing without explaining our aspirations for the future to one another... if we're keeping open and continuous contact with others and we can find ways to bond everything seems more plentiful. We create miracle gardens.
1. High Speed - Coldplay
2. 1979 - Smashing Pumpkins
3. Fear Of Sleep - The Strokes
4. Soft Shock - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
5. Be Good To Them Always - The Books
6. Hurricane Drink - Florence + The Machine
7. Go It Alone - Beck
8. Rods And Cones - Blue Man Group
9. Cupid De Locke - Smashing Pumpkins
10. Let You Down - Dave Matthews Band
11. Rental Car - Beck
12. Long Division - Deathcab for Cutie
13. Circle Of Life - Mark Rapp
14. '81 - Joanna Newsom
15. Give Up The Ghost - Radiohead
16. The Midnight Special - Creedence Clearwater Revival

Sunday, September 4, 2011

3D: On Epic Blunders

In the last five years we've seen a major resurgence of Films shot in 3D. One of my friends had this to say, "3D should be restricted solely to 'event films'." After this claim he went on to recognize that the greatest Event Films were the ones that came out of left field. So this leads to a dilemma in conscience. Can Hollywood plan an actual legit Event Film? And if so, how will they know to make that particular piece with 3D technology? I sigh.

I am amongst the vast majority of moviegoers who find 3D to be a total crapshoot money-grab. Now it's not that 3D can't work... it's more like, it doesn't in most situations. Here's what's odd about it all, I've only seen three movies that have taken advantage of the technology of 3D and given me a reason to care...

1. Avatar
A film I find rather pointless aside from the scope of new technology used.

2. Jackass 3D
When you have a stunt based series, why not try to shoot the stunts in a way so the audience sees the full stunt in action. Depth plays such an important role in understanding just how stupid what these guys are doing really is.

3. Cave Of Forgotten Dreams
Here's a rare example, and it may never happen again. Herzog found a real thing that most people will never be able to see in their lifetimes. And the art being shown here is honestly in need of a third dimension. The action of the animals, etc. I really like this film.

Look, even Cameron (who is very much responsible for the trend) says the technology is not being used to its potential. That being said, the main complaint I hear about 3D technology to date is the glasses. Those clunky, dark, awful glasses. For me, it's the sore spot they always tend to leave on my nose. And most films shot in 3D are pretty dark, which is a continuous problem no matter how high we turn the projector bulbs up.

The technology does exist without glasses,
just you'd have to sit in a muuuch smaller room in very specific seats to get the effect.

So I guess we have to wait. But Hollywood doesn't want to. And it doesn't help that every piece of crap with some form of action in it gets a greenlight for 3D these days. Here's a recent list of the films that attempted to release in 3D that probably should have stuck to the realms of regular filmdom:

Conan The Barbarian
The Smurfs
Transformers: Dark Of The Moon
Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Hoodwinked Too! Hood Vs. Evil
Mars Needs Moms
Drive Angry
Gnomeo & Juliet
Gulliver's Travels
Yogi Bear

I have to stop. Man, that is not a list I'd want to be a part of. I cannot think of a single movie in there that I actually give a damn about.

Maybe it's a question of good versus bad production teams. Maybe the good teams see when 3D is called for and the bad teams just don't care. But the audience is showing more and more that they don't care either. If a movie bombs it's usually a testament to the quality of that movie. In the case of Mars Needs Moms and Conan The Barbarian, I look to 3D as being a direct cause, though Conan may be the worst movie I've seen all year (and that's saying a lot).

Quick History Lesson: the first film to use 3D is a giant piece of crap. Don't believe me? It's called Bwana Devil. Watch it at your own risk.

So what are audiences supposed to do while Hollywood masturbates? Watch Netflix? Maybe.

We could always try this.