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Monday, January 31, 2011

Rockstar Games Presents "L.A. Noire"


Boy, I'll tell ya...Rockstar Games seems to be like Pixar-- they seemingly NEVER MISS! From the Grand Theft Auto series, to The Warriors, to Red Dead Redemption-- these guys know how to make cinematic quality video games WELL. Wait until you see the trailer for their latest game, due out in May of 2011:



Can you freaking believe that?! I mean this is SPOT ON 1950s Film Noir in video game form! Did you notice the voice acting and facial expressions? It turns out that this more than just your run-of-the-mill video game. This game took about 5 years of research into a new type of motion capture technology to enable the developers to replicate the facial performances of the actors. This is important, not just for the look of the game, but for the game play itself. Since you are playing a detective in the game, you have to be able to tell whether or not people are lying to you; every move you make in the game depends on decisions you make as to whether people are being honest or not.




I am rarely this impressed by games these days-- mostly because the GTA model  has felt kind of stale over the last few years (Red Dead Redemption played to me like GTA on a horse-- nothing very special). This added dimension of game play, coupled with the signature cinematic style of Rockstar Games has me REALLY excited to try this thing out!

I've been playing video games for many years. The last time I knew of a game like this was way WAY back in the days of the Commodore Amiga with a game called "King of Chicago", made by Cinemaware (the Rockstar of the 80s):



Ah, good times. "King of Chicago" also had multiple solutions with many different results. But as you can see...it doesn't hold a candle to what's being done these days.

I. Can't. Wait.

Invest in The New Documentary "Things and Stuff"


Hey guys! Well, in only about four more days from now, I will be entering the last 2 weeks of my funding drive for my latest film. It's called "Things and Stuff". It's a documentary film about the antiquing community in the "living antique" town of Nyack, NY.

Basically, this is a story about history. We have the antique dealers themselves that sell items from our history, in a town that is immersed in history-- and not just local history, mind you... Looking at the history of Nyack, NY is like looking at the history of America itself. It's a town that saw the Dutch settling among the Native Americans. It's a town that harbored escaped African slaves for the Underground Railroad. It's town that over the decades has constantly had to reinvent itself. From an old shipping town, to a tourist town that to this day serves as a hub for antiquing and retail boutiques.

This is a beautiful town full of culture, diversity, and history-- teaming with great stories. These are stories that I want to share with the world in the form of a documentary film. And with your help, this film can be made this year!





Now, I'm sure you're probably saying to yourself "so freaking what?" "This is a dumb idea!" "Why should I care?" Well, if you love history, documentaries, storytelling, antiques, beautiful photography and filmmaking....this is the project for you! In this new year of 2011, you could actually do something that you may not have ever thought was possible-- invest in an independent film! Here's how:

Just stop on over to my Kickstarter page, watch the promo video and check out the list of rewards you could get for investing. I'm giving away DVDs of the film, t-shirts, posters, the original soundtrack on CD or vinyl (yes, vinyl!), actual items from the antique shops in the film, and your name appearing in the credits of the film itself! You can invest as little as $1, or as much as you want (EVERY LITTLE BIT COUNTS)! For example, if you invest $30, you will get the film on DVD, a T-shirt and poster featuring the artwork of New York City artist Matt Jennings, and a "Special Thanks" credit at the end of the film! The more you invest, the more stuff you get-- like if you invest $500-$1000, you could get an Associate Producer or Executive Producer credit at the beginning of the film!

Talk about a conversation piece-- to be able to tell your friends that you invested in documentary that could be seen by people all over the world (as it will be submitted to national and international film festivals upon completion).

Not to mention the fact that upon completion of "Things and Stuff", I can begin work on the next film...a low budget (and WELL PRODUCED) sci-fi film called "Eye-Witness Account" (that's the working title). So you see? Even if you hate antiques, but you LOVE science fiction...you STILL WIN!

So, check out the Kickstarter page, or visit the "Things and Stuff" Tumblr for more details.


Thanks for your attention! And thank you for your support!

"Shut Up Little Man!" Documentary


I guess I must have first heard "Shut Up Little Man" back in the early-to-mid 90s. This series was introduced to me by a friend of mine who was into so-called subversive entertainment like this. As it was originally introduced to me, it's basically a series of recordings these two guys made of their neighbors-- an old gay couple. Not very interesting upon hearing it, unless you're imagining that you'd be hearing these two guys bangin' each other. The thing that makes this interesting, and entertaining, AND sad is that these two guys are constantly in the throws of loud, nasty, violent confrontation. There is yelling, cursing, fighting-- the cops are called. And there's talk of some guy named Tony. This is Peter and Raymond.

Now, after all these years, someone has committed the story of these tapes to film, which has premiered at Sundance this year:


SHUT UP LITTLE MAN! AN AUDIO MISADVENTURE A montage of Little Men... from Closer Productions on Vimeo.

The trailer doesn't show much other than people quoting lines from  the tapes (like the infamous "crucifixion of dinner"). I have to say, I'm very very interested in seeing this. It's great to be able to finally have some real context into the real lives of these people. I've always been fascinated by the stories behind sensations like this. It kinda reminds me of the documentary that was made about the Winnebago salesman Jack Renby:



But I digress...

For those of you that have no idea what "Shut Up Little Man!" is...here ya go.

I guess this means that it's only a matter of time before we see a filmed version of The Gorch ("How's about it!").

Friday, January 28, 2011

Movie Review: Tron Legacy


Sigh. It really does break my heart to write this review-- this review more than many others. It hurts because I am a BIG fan of the original Tron. It came out when I was 10 years old. Back then I was a pretty hefty computer nerd-- now this is back when not many people even had a computer in their homes  (I think at this point I may have had the Commodore 64, and the TRS-80 before that). TRON appealed to me on so many levels-- it was smart and great to look at. It still is! And who could not love the soundtrack by Wendy Carlos-- iconic! It was a great film that continues to stand on it's own, and I had never even really considered a sequel to be all that necessary. True, there was a video game called Tron 2.0 that came out several years back that acted as an interesting sequel (it even featured the voices of Bruce Boxleitner and Cindy Morgan).

Flash to 2009, San Diego Comic-Con....Walt Disney pictures is presenting their slate of new films. And as the presentation ends, the speaker comes back up on stage and says "Oh, wait! There's one more thing!" The lights go out, and then they show this:



Well, everyone collectively shat their pants. Back then, it was called T2ron. They later changed it to Tron: Legacy. I was EXCITED!!!!! I hadn't thought about a Tron sequel, and then it just kinda pops up out of nowhere! That teaser trailer was a preview to gauge audience interest. Needless to say, the audience WAS ELATED! They then went into production on the film, and we waited.

Well, I saw it. I saw it in IMAX and in 3D. And I have to tell you...I haven't been this disappointed in a film in a LONG time.

TRON: Legacy was boring, hollow, and poorly written, with one of the worst CG makeup jobs I've ever seen (for superior CG makeup, see Surrogates with Bruce Willis).

Here's the story-- back in the 1980s, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) was a promising computer programmer that had his work stolen by his colleague Ed Dillinger, who presents the work to their bosses at Encom, is promoted, then fires Flynn. Beaten, Flynn opens an arcade where he becomes the master of the top games of the day (he can play video games better than anybody). Long story short, his friends (Alan and Lara) help him break into Encom to try to get proof of Dillinger's theivery, when Flynn is sucked into a computer world and must fight to get out (I'm leaving out a lot of details to save time). TRON: Legacy picks up a few years after the first film. At t his point, Flynn has a son, and he tells him bedtime stories of his adventures in the computer world. Suddenly, Flynn disappears. 20 years later, his son is tipped off by Flynn's old friend Alan (Boxleitner) that he got a text message from Flynn (he still has that pager from the 80s? And it still works?!) for Alan to meet him at his old arcade. Long story short, Flynn's son Sam goes to the arcade, and is sucked into the computer world, then heads off to try to find his dad.

This is the kind of film where you REALLY have to suspend your disbelief-- even though that's implied by the very premise...you STILL have to forget that most of the crap that happens in this film is ridiculous. Well, maybe that's the wrong word. I was waiting for this film to DO SOMETHING INTERESTING with the "legacy" that the original Tron has left. This is such a rich story, with so many possiblities...and they blew it, as far as I'm concerned. They had stuff with Dillingers' son in the film...did nothing with it. All of the tech speak and tech puns are gone, except for a few recycled lines from the original film that were clumbsily tacked on ("Greetings Program!" and "End of line." to name two). There were two incredibly boring sequences to provide back story for things that happened in between the two films. And the title character, Tron...he's in the film for about 10 minutes! And they don't even talk much about him! LAME!!!!!!!!!

The worst-- the absolute WORST thing of all..........the Jeff Bridges CG makeup! They did this CG thing to make Bridges look the way he did back in the 80s. MONUMENTAL fail. It looked bad. It looked like Bridges had way too much botox injected in his face, because there was absolutely no emotion to be read in his "virtual" performance. This is NOTHING like what they did in Avatar, for example-- where the actors performances actually came through the effects. Here, it was a flat-line. Dull, lifeless, fake. MAJOR disappointment. I mean, Tron broke a lot of ground at the time of it's release back in 1982. It was revolutionary. Not so much here.



Don't get me wrong-- the Light Cycle stuff is GREAT, as were the other action scenes. Let's not forget  Daft Punk's soundtrack-- FANTASTIC, and getting a new album from those guys is probably the best thing about the movie. But I'm afraid that that stuff does nothing really to improve the overall quality.

There is a disclaimer at the beginning of the film stating that not every scene in the film is in 3D; there are both 2D and 3D scenes. Honestly, they should have stuck with 2D. The 3D seemed flat and stale to me. For instance, before the film started there was a trailer for some kind of nature documentary that had the most beautiful 3D photography I've seen since Avatar, and even Jackass 3D(!). Comparing that to Tron: Legacy....Tron lost out.

Like I said before, it really breaks my heart to trash this movie. I so wanted to like it! I know there are a lot of people that did like this movie, and I can understand why-- there's nothing else really like it out there. As far as I'm concerned, this is one of the most disappointing movie going experiences I've ever had.



RATING: D-



Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Movie Review: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World



For years now, filmmakers have been trying to achieve the "live-action animation" look. Basically, they want to be able to match the style, movement, tone, and composition of animation-- particularly Japanese animation (anime, of course). There have been some pretty decent attempts: Robert Zemekis' "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" (specifically the Toon Town sequence), the Warchowski's with "The Matrix" films and "Speed Racer" (a movie that would have been a HUGE HIT in 3D), and Stephen Norrington with the original (and best) "Blade".  As good and great as these films are...NONE OF THEM holds a candle to Edgar Wright's "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World". I was a Wright fan before this film, but at this point I am now an advocate: SEE THIS MOVIE NOW!!!!!!!!

It's a cute idea-- boy meets girl, boy falls for girl...boy must battle "7 Evil Ex's" in order to stay with girl. It takes place in the mystical world of...Canada, and the life of Scott Pilgrim, a young guy who plays bass in a band and plays video games with his high school-age "girlfriend". Pilgrim's world comes to a halt when he meets a girl at a party that he's literally only once before in a dream. Her name is Ramona (they play the opening instrumental from the Frank Black's song when she shows up-- good stuff). After a bit of apprehension, Ramona decides to date Scott. Unfortunately for Scott, she initially fails to tell him that in order to date her, he must fight and defeat her seven of her ex's. And when I say "fight", I mean FIGHT! As in these actor had to train to learn how to fight.

This is the kind of film that would have made me spooge my pants as a kid-- comic books, anime, video games, cute chicks, kung-fu...are you kidding me?! It's truly a visual treat. The comic book accents are clever, and the anime-inspired fight sequences are SLICK!!! No joke-- this is the real deal. I mean, these guys NAILED the look of anime in the live action form. The low-angle shots, the split screen, the colored streaks of speed-- EVERYTHING works!

From the 8-bit Universal Pictures logo with Commodore 64-sounding synthesized theme music, I knew this movie was going to be special. After the title sequence, I was pretty much sold on the fact that I was going to enjoy this film. It has a great spirit, it's FUNNY, it's smart, it's geeky/nerdy, and I am SHOCKED that it wasn't a hit! Seriously, what a goddamn shame. Like many films, I think the marketing was weak. People who advertise films somehow manage to make incredible work look dull and weak.

I haven't bought many movies lately, but I will BUY this one, and I will share it with my kids when they are old enough to appreciate it. As far as I'm concerned, this film is a classic.


Rating: A++


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Introducing "Enthiran", Bollywood's Most Expensive Film


I remember when the first Mission:Impossible film was released, I had doubts about whether or not I would see it, until I saw the shot of Tom Cruise jumping from an exploding helicopter and onto a speeding train, all while inside of a tunnel. That's what sold me. I figure-- shit, anyone with the balls to do something that ridiculous is worthy of my movie-going dollars. I also remember many people thinking that the stunt/effect was stupid. To me, that's what those kinds of films should be all about-- nutty action and insanity.

Then I find clip from a Bollywood film called "Enthiran", which I believe means "Robot". Believe it or not, it's a remake of Frankenstein! From what I've seen here, it looks to be an Indian version of The Terminator, mixed with The Matrix, with some visual ideas from anime as well.  Then, it starts to get crazy....!



Well, that was just outrageous! It's not even over-the-top-- there IS no top!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ricky Gervais v. Gay Scientolotists


I'm truly surprised that Hollywood and the Foreign Press was surprised by Ricky Gervais' performance as host of the Golden Globes. I can't imagine what they were expecting from this guy-- I mean, it's not as if he didn't piss people off last year. But you know the Hollywood types-- most can't really take a joke, or laugh at themselves. It's not as if no one has ever uttered the things that Gervais said, not only at this year's Golden Globes, but last years as well. Hell, I've heard people say a lot worse-- we all have! But I guess if you live in a bubble, it's not always nice when someone else farts inside of it.



Gervais was by far the most interesting thing about that show; he, and the reactions that he provoked from the crowd-- OH, they were not happy! What's shocking is that he hit them with that gay Scientology joke right out of the gate, which elicited many, MANY boos-- I'm sure to many of the people in there,  his joke was akin to Michael Richards yelling "nigger" at that comedy club. I loved his little aside after the joke: "Oh come on! They're not here..." And they were not. But, one of their (alleged) boyfriends was.


Okay, so this was a obviously a Tom Cruise and John Travolta reference. Not that they are gay with each other, but that they are in fact gay. These are stories that people have been hearing for many, many, many years. Nothing new to some people, but still new to a few. And the fact that they are Scientologists makes things even more "interesting". Word is that The Church of Scientology is vehemently anti-gay. Well, maybe that's not fair to say-- seeing that they allegedly have a lot of gay followers. It's not that they hate homosexuality...it's probably more of a case of "love the sinner, hate the sin." Scientology is said to be able to help alleviate you of "the gay". They will work to not only help rid you of the urges, but they will go out of their way to protect your interests and privacy.

Is any of this true? I dunno. I mean, I guess it could be. I know that Hollywood folk don't like airing laundry like this; you're not supposed to talk smack about your fellow actors. And of course Scientologists will feel as if they are being attacked-- but I don't expect them to respond to Gervais' bit. I think they would much rather just actively snub him and his projects.

I suppose this means that any chance or hopes of one of these people "coming out" any time soon is slim to none.

Who knows-- it's none of our business. Right?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tetsuo: The Bullet Man


This is a blast from the past for me! Summer of 1991. Just finished my first year of school, made my first 16mm short film, made new friends-- all that good stuff. One of those friends called me during the summer break and told me that I needed to come up to school and meet him at the Media Arts building; he had seen a film that had changed his life, and I HAD TO SEE IT. Well, being the film geek that I am...surely I would not pass up an opportunity to see a life-changing film...! That film was called Tetsuo: The Iron Man:



If you haven't seen this film, you MUST NOW. It's a little over an hour long, and it's got a SHIT TON of energy. The  sheer audacity of what this guy does is stunning. You could literally freeze any frame in the film, blow up the image, and hang it on your wall-- it's a gorgeous movie.

We had seen the film about 2 years after it was initially released. The year after we saw this film, it's sequel was released-- Tetsuo 2: Body Hammer:



This one I never saw. I heard it was horrible, so I didn't really bother looking for it. In fact, this trailer is the first time I've every seen anything from it(!). It'd give it a shot-- it doesn't really look that bad to me. I haven't pursued it since because I haven't really thought about these films for a long time. Until I saw the posting at /Film about the release of a THIRD Tetsuo film!



Looks like they're going after the Iron Man thing. Fair enough. Looks like their giving up on the stop-motion stuff, and using some 2d animation and some CG. And the director of the first two is back-- and this his is first English-language film.

It'll be available on-demand on the 01/19/11, and in theaters on 01/21/11. I don't know if I'll make it to the theaters to see it, but I will DEFINITELY watch it on-demand. I think that's the way to go.



PS....

This is a clip from one of his first films:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Orson Welles on Moonlighting


I was just reading a post at /Film about films that famous dead directors never got to make. Good stuff, featuring Fernando Reza movie poster designs. They also show a clip from an interview show that reveals footage from Orson Welles' unfinished adaptation of Don Quixote. One of the things that I always think of when I hear Orson Welles' name is the intro he did for the B&W episode of Moonlighting. I haven't seen that episode since it aired, which was 1986 I think. So, I turned to my dear friend "the internet", and...guess what I found?



He died shortly after he shot that intro. You gotta love a show with the Welles' endorsement. But that was a HOT show back then-- they had tons of fun cameos and special guests. And it was clever and fun-- I remember the first time I saw Ally McBeal...the influence of Moonlight is ALL OVER that show!

Now I'm gonna have to buy the box set. I'm not gonna bother with Netflix on this one-- I may need to own it. I think I'm ready to revisit.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Gabriella Giffords' Political Shooting v. Sarah Palin Hit List


There it is, fourth down in the left-hand column. Right there, in the crosshairs. Signed and sanctioned by the asshole Sarah Palin. This political hit-list was a controversial issue when it was revealed on Palin' Facebook page back in March of 2010. People talked about how irresponsible it was for right-wing shitheads to invoke gun violence and "Second Amendment remedies" to achieve their goals. And, predictably, asshole Palin denounced these claims. The same way Bill O'Reilly did after the death of George Tiller. The same way that the dickless Glenn Beck did when he staged the poisoning of Nancy Pelosi.

What these political morons-- these Republican fools-- ALWAYS fail to realize is that the uneducated, ignorant, mindless masses that they lie and expound to during every political cycle are easily swayed and manipulate-- and even the SLIGHTEST suggestion of taking up arms to defend their so-called lost freedoms WILL RESULT in something bad happening. Case in point, aside from Tiller, is the shooting of Gabriella Giffords, among others including a federal judge and a 9 year-old girl who were killed.

Six people killed, 14 others wounded because Obama passed health care reform. Domestic terrorism imposed by the followers of right-wing ideology, political pandering, and straight-out lies. Level-headed people have been warning the American people about this reckless behavior. The pigs in the Republican party did not care. They want to win elections, and they want to destroy Barack Obama. And they will do so by any means necessary-- including passive-aggressive threats of violence.



It is clear to me that Giffords was targeted-- literally! As to whether or not this 22 year old kid acted alone, I doubt it. But it's still way too early to speculate on the shooting itself. What's more than clear at this time is that this IS a political shooting, and WAS inspired by the right-wing.

Now...what the FUCK are we going to do about this?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

"Paul"


I really, truly want to like this movie. I really do! This is the latest film starring Simon Peg and Nick Frost (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead, and Spaced!). It's about two UFO nuts who run into a real life alien while on a trip to Roswell, New Mexico.

I had started following this film through the series of behind-the-scenes videos these guys were putting out from the set:



I like the idea, and these two guys are pretty funny...but I'm scared. For some reason, I am having flashbacks of Howard the Duck.



For some reason, this is what "Paul" is reminding me of. I hope I'm way off. Well, enough about my issues-- here's the trailer:



I think it looks fun. And it's got some great and funny people in it-- Jason Bateman, Kristin Wigg, Sigourney Weaver-- that's pretty awesome...!

Maybe I'm way off with my Howard the Duck thing.




Wednesday, January 5, 2011

"Smell Yo Dick"


I heard this song 3 years ago, and for some strange-ass reason it popped into my head today. This song was not the big hit that I thought it would be. Go fig...


Django Reinhardt


I was listening to some Django Reinhart songs and was struck with the thought that I had never seen any filmed footage of him playing. Then, I went to the internet. Beautiful internet...!


The Homeless Man with the Golden Radio Voice


Here's a great story. Someone discovered a homeless fellow named Ted who, for some change, will enchant you with his "God-given" radio voice. The video comes courtesy of the Columbus Dispatch:



Kinda sad story, huh? But here's the good news, as per the YouTube page:

UPDATE-FINAL: Well everyone. You can give yourselves and Ted a high-five. He's being given offers hand-over-fist over the air. He'll be set for life.

My request to all. Whenever you run across a story such as this, don't assume it'll take a life of its own, on its own. It won't. It can't. There are too many other stories that drown out the one before it.

You need to spend time to get that story and its word out to many. If you care, you'll do it.

Keep the faith, pay forward and always lend a hand; even if you're the one who needs it.

God bless Mr. Williams. I'm sure we'll be seeing more of him for sometime to come.

Isn't that nice?

UPDATE: Good times...!

Harvest City: Haiti's Floating Island Proposal



I'm a sucker for a great idea. I also get all weak-in-the-knees for 1950's style concept art. So you could imagine my orgasmic reaction to the artwork created by E. Kevin Schopfer and Tangram 3DS to show their vision of a floating city that could produce food and promote industry. The concept is a collection of island based on the principle of Arcology that could house 30,000 people.

I really love this stuff. I particularly love the Arcology concept. The idea of bringing modern architecture more ecologically and environmentally sound seems like a no-brainer. It's a thing of science fiction that could be actualized, only if there were some wealthy bastards out there willing to invest in it. I mean, if anything, the structures themselves could be absolutely amazing:





Imagine seeing this stuff in real life! I'm telling you-- ANY city that decides to be the first to build something like this will have more tourism $$$ than they'll know what to do with.