Category Archives: Film

Commercial Break

No, not more shameless plug of my Amazon link, or my online store

While poking around on AppleTV- I realized it comes preloaded with Crackle.

UnknownI remember Crackle from way back in 3G times (read about it… in story books!) when they had free streaming movies, before Netflix came to Android.  Well, I have since moved on to iPhone, and had forgotten about Crackle until it showed up on AppleTV.

I love Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, and they even had some awesome options Netflix and Hulu didn’t have (Ghostbusters!).

Then, the other shoe proverbially dropped.

I was watching Ultraviolet.  I’m not proud of it, but.. hey, its a fun.. its got some interesting… I’m an adult, I don’t have to make any excuses! Its a silly anime feely shitty film, Ok?!  Literally- every 7 to 10 minutes in this dog shit film, a Discover card commercial would come on.  I get it, we need advertising cause I’m not paying for Crackle.  But… it would be 2 or 3 commercials, then back to the film.  TWO OF THE COMMERCIALS WERE ALWAYS DUPLICATES! Really guys?  there’s not a department that handles that?  Here’s the worst part- ostensibly, Crackle is playing to an audience of people watching TV on smart phones, or computers… know what else my computer does?  Torrents.

Know how long it takes to download a full film?  Less than the time between commercials.

The gatekeepers have left their gates.  The old ways are over, and we are not a nation of construction, or development anymore- we are a nation of consumers, and entertainment, and creativity-How many more years before entertainment finally realizes, the old business model is dead.  Please, embrace a way to be more creative with your approach to monetization.

For instance- I would gladly pay an extra 10-15% for the same produce I receive now without commercials.  OR give me an option of the commercials I see.  Believe me, History Channel, I don’t need to know about Humira, Vagisil, or Viagra.  But I am interested in electronics, entertainment, and travel…

Bottom line, the moment we decided it was Ok to pay for a product that gets the opportunity to advertise was the moment we lost all hope.  We allow too much.  The old ways are done- Arrrr…

 

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Blue is the Warmest Color

blue-is-the-warmest-color-posterI begin by saying three things.  I am not homosexual, and other than a few friends have no personal relationship with the homosexual experience.  Second, I am not adverse to pornography, rather- I embrace it.  Well.. I suppose I embrace me to it, but I’m certainly not a curmudgeon to nudity, or sexuality in a film.  Lastly, there will be no spoilers, beyond what one could surmise from the trailer to this film, or IMDB “About” section.

A few things first- this film is breakthrough.  Not in its storytelling (reportedly with 800 hours of footage shot!), not in its acting (although very well done), and not in its cinematography (which falls on the silly side at times (more on this later).  This film is a breakthrough in that it is a film that centers around homosexuality, and relationships, but at no point falls into the tropes of “life is so hard” or “no one understands us” that so many films have used as a motivator before.

Also, this film is three full hours.  It doesn’t feel like it,  its really sweet, and ends satisfyingly- but three hours is brave of any film thats not an epic in todays marketplace.  But that’s the interesting bit, this film doesn’t feel like it was necessarily made for a marketplace.  Even in French-language cinema, which has been the most daring in the last 15 years, this feels more like a love letter to someone the viewer never gets to meet.  Viscerally real, and almost amateurish; but not in the mind of low quality or poor content, amateurish in it feels voyeuristic on the experience of the lead character, Adèle.

The way in which the film is shot is also noteworthy.  Hidden hues and colors play like a relationship mood-ring, subtle hints of blues and reds surrounded by earth tones.  The colors play out almost like atmosphere around the actors in a dance- its almost tempting to watch the film without subtitles or sound, and I think the film would be no less beautiful without.

Now, quickly, the negatives.  This is where the pornography bit from before comes out- and I’ll repeat: I’ve no issue with nudity, or sexuality in any format.  What I do have an issue with is a product that is overshadowed by its use of nudity or sexuality.  Here’s how:  a six minute graphic sex scene.  It takes something as subtle and in-place as Kate Winslet’s nude scene from Titanic, and turns it into the marionettes sex scene from Team America: World Police.  It’s not erotic, (I don’t think it was meant to be), and it certainly wasn’t meant to be funny- so it just felt five minutes and forty five seconds of exploitative.  This is one of several overly long sex scenes in this film that are just completely unnecessary.  Those sections alone felt like they robbed the film of a great validity- as if they were kept in solely for the pleasure of the director, exposing himself to the audience and forcing us through it.

Let me make a converse analogy: Irreversible.  Another stunning film, and probably in my top 10 of all time.  The rape in this film is roughly six minutes as well (as I recall), and it never feels exploitive.  Its savage, it drives the film in ways never experienced on camera.  Its visceral, and heart wrenching.  It works solely because of this, the viewer is forced to look away in revulsion, or stare in disbelief.  The scenes in Blue are not emotional, they’re tedious, and while both the actresses are attractive, it’s overdone and removes the audience.

187d604db7709eef919526c77cd0d6dbWith that said, I appreciate what the film is doing.  I appreciate that it doesn’t pander to the audience, or parade the gay and lesbian themes to the audience like some sideshow.  Rather, the times that are not spent assumedly attempting to titillate, seem natural (as they should be, and are) rather than tiptoeing through their environments ashamed of what they are, or worse: loudly proclaiming their differences to their surroundings who really shouldn’t care.

Honestly… does the homosexual community get offended when straight sex happens?  When they see straight couples?   Too many films shout “We’re here!” when the message should be closer to “Its none of your business!”

I digress.

A strong film, definitely worth a watch, fast forward through the sex- if you’re looking for a pornographic experience, download pornography.  Rest assured, once you see anyone even approaching a sexual scenario, they’ll probably fuck- you’re safe to move on, and since the movie plays out like such a stream of consciousness experience, you’re safe to watch in sections.  Warning: Subtitles required for non French speakers.

A love letter to Kathy Bates

01308a Misery, right?  Most people see Kathy Bates and think – “oh, the crazy broad from Misery“.  Well, yes- Kathy Bates was that crazy lady in Misery (Im gonna call her Kathy for the rest of this.   She and I are on first name basis… she doesn’t know that, but should we ever meet, she can certainly address me by first name, and since I’ve seen Misery and own Dolores Claiborne on VHS; I feel I’ve earned it).

Misery may have been the first time I recognized her, but I remember her from St Elsewhere, and even Dick Tracy (the Warren Beaty one)- and any kid from the 90’s saw the Fried Green Tomatoes commercial over and over and over… or maybe I watched a lot of TV then, maybe my sisters just loved that movie.  Something about Steel Magnolias...  But I digress, what I most remember Kathy Bates for was her titular role in Dolores Claiborne.  A simply stunning film about a New England caregiver accused of murdering her patient.  My mother was a home health aide and has been a caregiver all her life- and this likely lead to my particular affection towards Kathy Bates.  As the movie progresses, we learn that good ole’ Dolores did not, in fact, kill her ward (but she was ready and willing to), rather she did murder her husband decades before.

Oh.  Spoilers.

But even as she delivers her admission statement to her snotty little daughter, I just wanted to hug her.  Cold and tried by the world, she just looked lovable and good natured.

(look, the film came out in ’95, if you haven’t seen it yet, you won’t… but you should.. but you won’t..)

Cut to Misery.  Less amiable, but still amazing.  Although, at closer inspection, if that writer had just played along, and not ignored his biggest fan, and maybe just tried to be a better house guest, none of that business with the penguin, pig statue, or hobbling “spat” would have been necessary!

Spoilers?

I skipped About Schmidt, I heard about the hot tub scene.  I love Kathy Bates, I don’t want to make love to her.

Anyway- this entire diatribe that started more interesting in my head then its ending on computer was started because Kathy Bates is in this season of American Horror Story.   I won’t spoil anything (because I’m not far enough in to spoil anyway), but her character is not particularly nice.  Not exactly a good person one could say.  But even as she pouts across screen, spewing racial epithets, and threatening hell and damnation upon anyone she comes in contact with, some deep part of me wants to hug her.  Maybe get her lunch.  But certainly a hug.

I want to gush more about her pained, nuanced performance.  Constantly aching over her character and developing constantly through expression… but I don’t want to ruin it for the viewer.

So, good on you FX for putting Kathy Bates on my teevee box, and thank you Kathy Bates for being awesome.  I hope you get to kill Precious by the end of Season 3.

Oh.. that was probably a spoiler.  The girl from Precious is in it.

Man of Steel

2013_man_of_steel_movie-wide

Just so I understand, and maybe I’m theorizing more than necessary- the Codex on Krypton is an ancestral skull of early Kryptonians that they pull original DNA from so they can genetically reproduce kryptonians.  Jor-El takes this and reforms it into the key that he sends back to Earth with Kal-El?  Is that what were saying?

Oh… SPOILERS!

I honestly want clarity on that.. I’m fine with it, I just want to make sure I didn’t make that up in my head.

Secondly- doesn’t it take like 30 minutes to even get off Krypton?  20 for Zod and his crew to get round up into the Space dildos AT LEAST!

(Spoilers..)

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the film, and I don’t think it could have been made better… but you have what?  70-80 years worth of source material to pull from, and yet we still feel the need to “reimagine” canon?  Or.. better than that- the origin might not need to be told again to begin with…

Also:

I assume the teacher just let the burning doorknob thing go, because she was open with letting a class mock a child having an emotional breakdown in the janitors closet?

“My son was there, he was in the bus, he saw what Clark did!”

[Well..he was there, but Fatty McGinger was actually under water… Clark had to go bobbing-for-fatties]

(I resolve to post more…)

Les Misérables

Les Misérables

lesmisFour Golden Globe nominations, eleven Critics Choice awards, four Screen Actor’s guild nominations, and the NationalBoard of Review winner for best ensemble cast (to name a few).  An accolade list with this much praise would imply a movie that may have completed its theatrical run, and be headed to DVD.  However, in this case, as of this writing, the film is not yet released.  This film is Les Misé

In our time, movies are created and destroyed in the minds of critics.  Their reviews, before the movie has even hit the public eye, create a prepackaged buzz that can guarantee a film’s success weeks or even months before its first ticket is sold.  In this particular case, winning awards before the general public has even viewed the introduction, the Victor Hugo novel turned musical turned Christmas event of 2012 seemingly has its position secured.

For those uninitiated; the story told a thousand times over: spanning from 1813 to the French June Rebellion of 1832, on its surface tells the story of Jean Valjean, a French convict released from the prison system after 19 years for a string of infractions rebuilds his life; and in doing so, we see a myriad of subplots surrounding the heart of Les Misérables.  The film focuses solely on Valjean, and his pursuit by police inspector Javert, played by Russell Crowe.  True to the original, the surrounding stories of commoner Fantine [Anne Hathaway], Cosette [Amanda Seyfried], Marius [Eddie Redmayne], and Éponine [Samantha Barks] are not left out.  Repopulating Hugo’s original masterpiece.

Possibly the most interesting bit of this film, is a brave new approach to the on-screen musical.  Past stage musicals turned film, such as Moulin Rouge or more recently Sweeny Todd, were created by bringing a cast into a studio.  Their vocals were recorded, machined and produced to create a pitch perfect, tempo regulated experience of the original works.  However, with Les Mis; the vocal tracks are recorded with the film.  Each actor can control their own tempo, and speed.  The sounds of their actions remain true with the vocalizations during the movie; giving a more realistic, to-the-moment response and reaction more often experienced in a stage performance.  Only after the final performance is recorded, is the finished film produced with a full orchestral composition. The actors are given the freedom to act- change their emotional response based upon their situation, and not have to assume or judge months before they’re in costume, or sometimes before having even met, with their costars.

As so much is homogenized and sterilized in the creative works of our society, it is refreshing to be able to experience media without having a team of experts take out every bit of the human element that made it in the first place.  While there is certainly a time and a place for the computer perfected aural performance, the decrepitude and absolution of revolutionary era France, surrounded by the squalor of poverty and hunger; a perfectly packaged scene seems almost disingenuous.  As carefully crafted characters pour their hearts upon the stage, without the emotion- the audience could easily be lost of the distraction of perfection.   Ultimately reminiscent of period films of the early 1990’s, trying desperately to convince the audience of a filthy vagrant, with perfectly white teeth, plump with craft services; or warriors, fresh from battle, in machine hemmed blues and gold.  The performance is accepted, but ultimately safe, and not imbued with the gravity it deserves.

Les Misérables was screened on November 23rd, 2012; and closed with standing ovations.  Originally slated for a December 14th public release, postponed to Christmas Day due to the conflicting release of blockbuster film, The Hobbit.

Budgeted at $61 million, with a total running time of 2:40.  Les Misérables hit US theaters Christmas Day, 2012.

Cloud Atlas

CA1“Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others, past and present; and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.”  This is the tag line seen on ambiguous commercials and adverts for Cloud Atlas.  It doesn’t seem to tell you much about the general feel or message of the film.  After the first viewing it becomes clear, there is no more succinct way to describe what this film is trying to say.

At its core, Cloud Atlas is six separate story lines, concurrently interwoven to convey the same message.  While it may sound convoluted or difficult to follow, in execution it stays clear throughout.  This is achieved by the stark contrast of the visual styles utilized by the Wachowskis (The Matrix series, Speed Racer) and Tom Tyker (Run Lola Run, The International) directing each piece independently.  Each section is so visually different, the audience is immediately aware of the shift.  From a voyage in the Pacific in 1849, to a post-apocalyptic Hawaiian island, each shift is like watching a separate film entirely.  Muted browns, and creams in 1973 San Francisco jump to vibrant blue’s and sun-swept reds of the South Pacific seas in the 1800’s, that may then open the door to deep technical blacks and greys of Korea, 2144.

That is not to say this film is all art and story.  At just under three hours, total running time, the filmmakers certainly are asking for an investment from the viewer; but that amount of time is completely necessary to not only weave such a movie together, but also let you watch how it is built.  Like a magician doing a card trick for you, slowly; showing you every move of the cards without knowing the prestige at the finale.

An ensemble cast compliments the intricate story telling.  Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Hugo Weaving, and Hugh Grant are among the credits; each playing several different roles throughout, breaking through race and gender roles.
CA2The same cast is utilized in each story, but they are not the same lineage in each time line.  Villain, hero, love interest, antihero, misanthrope- while intentions may seem apparent at the onset, most often they don’t play out as expected.  This is not a story of reincarnation.  This isn’t a story of fixing the wrongs a person may have committed in their lifetime.  This is not karma, justice, man versus man, or man verses environment, but it is a flowing stream of consciousness of how each person may experience the effects of every time before; and ultimately, something bigger than themselves.

It would be overly simplistic to say the movie begins as many tales: with a very old man, scarred and tattooed, resting by firelight; introducing a tale in the darkness.  Immediately we are introduced to our timelines, each one visited only long enough to get comfortable; then seamlessly transitioned into the next storyline.
CA3Chatham Islands, South Pacific seas, 1849; an American is conducting business, when he is confronted by the violent whipping of a Moriori slave.  Cambridge, England, 1936; a young musician is on a quest to compose his masterpiece (the eponymous Cloud Atlas Sextet).  San Francisco, CA, 1973; a reporter gets a unique lead on global conspiracy.  United Kingdom, 2012; a publisher falls under an extreme set of circumstances brought on by a client.  Neo Seoul, Korea, 2144; a clone is giving a final interview after the tumultuous conditions that lead her to trial.  Lastly, a post-apocalyptic Hawaiian Islands (revealed in the credits as 2321), the remnants of human civilization learn the conditions that lie at the core of their beliefs.

None of the stories told seem to have any relevance to one another; and therein rests the wonder of the original storyteller’s vision.

Cloud Atlas has currently finished its theatrical run, is available from the right sources now, but will ultimately be released on Blu-Ray, Ultraviolet digital download, and DVD on February 5th,.