Sunday, December 26, 2010

Auto Tune vs. The Loss of Magic

Hello Internet,

When is enough enough? Are we at the point where we celebrate and idolize people that cannot do their job without the help of a computer? Did Frank Sinatra have auto tune or did he just sing well? and by well I mean awesome.  Did Steve McQueen hire twelve stuntmen to ride a motorcycle for him. Did Charlie Chaplin employ 32 computer engineers to change his facial expressions because they weren't spot on or did he just do another take? Did Picasso use photoshop? Did Mozart use garageband?

Tom Cruise insists that he does as many of his own stunts as possible. Julie Taymor has hired at least 15 stuntmen to play Spiderman on Broadway and collect workman's comp. James Cameron created technology to help change actor's faces incase they didn't get it right on the first try. Heaven forbid that you should have to do another take in front of a green screen. Remember when directors would wait a month for the sun to set in between mountains for a good shot? Remember when a whole album would get released rather than a 99 cent single?

Remember when singers would sing a song correctly rather than Milli Vanilli the whole thing? Ever hear that Britney Spears track of her live without the computer assistance? What does Riahanna's voice sound like? Didn't rap used to be cool and not a bullshit pop phenomenon? Why do we hold people in such high regard when they can't do what they are paid millions of dollars to do. Keanu Reeves actually learned Kung Fu for The Matrix. Its like he cares about acting more than being a star. The cast of That Thing You Do learned their instruments. Mark Wahlberg wasn't actually singing in Rockstar. Zemeckis, one of the greatest directors of all time has given up on actors and works on motion capture rather than dealing with makeup and creative solutions. Peter Jackson created real things in LOTR. Actual lines of sight and classic camera tricks alongside the CGI.

George Lucas used to use models for his spaceships, now they look like they belong in The Simpsons. Spielberg ruined Indy with too much CGI. I liked the gopher gag but it was ruined because I didn't believe it. Will Friedkin built a freezer so that breath could be seen in The Exorcist. Now we just digitally add it because heaven forbid someone should be cold.

Auto Tune is the scapegoat I have decided to use for the masses creating false celebrities who have no real tangible talent. Reality TV is another good example of that kind of bullshit, but we all know that they are attention whores anyway. The "professionals" that can't do what they should be able to do and have become lazy are really who are to blame. Theatre used to be an escape, everything you saw was real and actual. Now Taymor ha started the new movement of creating an illusion and ruining the magic.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Movies

My favorite Christmas Movies:

1. Die Hard
Takes place at Christmas, ends happy, and shit explodes.

2. White Christmas
I watched it when I was a kid, it is classy, there is a bunch of Christmas cheer and hilarity. Also the leads are really good.

3. The Ref
Everyone is spot on with their characters and its a really creative script. The dark side of the Holidays.

4. Bad Santa
I pissed myself watching this. Also there is an asprin and candy corn in an advent calender.

5. Home Alone
Anyone who does not think this movie is awesome is dumb. It exemplifies the true meaning of Christmas believe it or not.

6. A Charlie Brown Christmas
The soundtrack has become iconic and is actually about Christmas rather than just taking place at Christmas.

7. A Christmas Carol
George C Scott's and the Muppets tie.

8. The Santa Clause
This movie is really good. I love Tim Allen so I might be biased but it adds some comedic science to the physics related problems of St. Nick.

9. Joyeux Noel
The WWI Christmas truce for some reason makes me have faith in mankind and that is what this is about.

10. Lethal Weapon
See Die Hard.

11. Christmas Vacation
Much better than when they go to Europe and Randy Quaid kills it.

12. Love Actually
Rowan Atkinson wraps a present. Thats good enough for me.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Ladies and Gentlemen of the internet Netflix is the greatest thing you could pay 10 dollars for. I feel like an idiot for not buying stock sooner.

I get a huge collection of movies, obscure ones that I can't get at the store, I don't have to worry about it, its not an issue to get a replacement when something is scratched, it is a more personal experience than going to a store and talking to a person. Weird I know.

I am going to assume that everyone is already a member and not tray and sell anyone on it.

Here are my problems with Netflix:

1. When I say I am not interested in a movie it doesn't go away, it stays there and is continually suggested to me. When I say I am not interested then I don't want to see it again. But it would be nice if there was a tab for those movies I am no longer interested in to go through and see if perhaps I changed my mind.

1 1/2: I would like a tab that will list all movies I have already rated in sections from 5-1 stars just in case I want to see something again. Because a movie I already rated shouldn't be suggested to me. Instant has this to a degree but it should be universal.

2: Bring the Netlfix Friends back. It was cool.

3. Instant needs more titles, they know this and are working on it.

4: Writers and Producers should be searchable. I happen to want to see everything that Mamet wrote but don't want to have to go to IMDB and then back to Netflix to see what that might be.

5. I would like to know what everyone else rated a movie, not just what Netflix might think I would rate it. Both is what I am looking for.

6. Basic vs. Advanced or Generic vs. More Information in regards to summary and cast. I want to be able to have the information, at least to a certain degree that IMDB has about the movies I rate on Netflix.

7. Why are some movies no longer available?

8. More movies per search page.

9. I could also go with a type of movie option or keyword search, i.e. Christmas Movies, movies that involve apes, good soundtracks, movies about writers etc.

We are getting a little particular about shit now but seriously, these would be some good adjustments.
Also I am willing to work as a consultant for your company Netflix.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Is Thanksgiving my favorite holiday? No. But I hate what it has become. A gateway drug for Christmas. Do I hate Christmas? No. But it is possible to overload on it. It is the only thing anyone can think about for months. I walked into a Duane Reade on Halloween day, 2:00 pm, They were stocking the shelves with Christmas everything. I simply want a holiday to finish. Thanksgiving is about being thankful for everything you have, and it just so happens that most of those things are food, football, and booze. Three of my favorite things. But that, combined with Black Friday seems to be all that is about.

Have a happy Turkey Day. No, It's not turkey day, what about vegetarians? Happy Gobble Gobble Day. Holy Crap. And now I heard simply, Happy Gobble Gobble.

Rather than give into our gluttony, lets be thankful that small pox has been eradicated.

Be patient Christmas will last a whole month. And it can live in your heart all year long.

Also, to a certain degree Coca-Cola invented Santa Claus to sell more product. The Holiday season seems to be about consumerism. Which is fine, but I wish it was more subtle.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Alien Vs.

    Science Fiction, Sci Fi, Skiffy, SyFy, SF. What a strange genre to define. As far as I am concerned anything with a technical explanation of anything, which is based in what we know so far about science, and is not a true story, is SciFi. Jurassic Park, Inception, Star Wars, Star Trek, Contact, Modern Times, CSI, all SciFi because they have science in them and are fiction. Easy right? Well if thats the case this list could go on and on. Lets just agree that for our purposes we will be talking about stuff in or from space and try to avoid nitpicky overlaps as much as possible. I only want to examine movies that are actually scary and fall under Horror. Just because there are scary moments in ID4 and Empire doesn't mean that they are horror films.
    I have compiled a list of movies that will compete with the movie Alien. If I remember correctly it is considered to be one of the scariest movies of all time, whether in space or not. I agree, and it will be the touchstone against all the other ones. That being said, it seems to me that the best ones happen in space, on a spaceship and not with aliens landing on earth. So here is a list of movies that didn't make the full cut for me to talk about but fall into the genre.

Critters - Stupid.

Cube - Fun when on tv late night, and truly creepy, sometimes, but the sequels are crap and it doesn't have anything to do with space.

Bad Taste - Just not that good.

Xfiles - come on, way too much happens in that show for it to be lumped into another group.

War of the Worlds (either or) - just not really a horror film so much as a survival disaster type thing.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers - The pods didn't have to be from space, they could have just been from the amazon or something.

Predator - Action Movie with a monster. Not a horror movie.

CloverField - we are going to file this under Monster Movie and talk about it later.

Pitch Black - Action Horror but still awesome.

Ok so here we go Lets see what stacks up against Ridley Scott's Alien.


    Alien, Aliens, Alien3, Alien Resurrection.  In that order are the best to the least. Alien Resurrection is not a bad movie. Its simply the worst of the for and also the worst of Jeunut's as well, But still better than most other movies out there. But its more of an action horror, and I think action trumps horror.
    Ironically this knocks out Aliens as well. But it is without a doubt the single scariest action movie of all time. Two reasons it upped the ante of the first movie and played off of the mythos in a great way. But more importantly, motion detectors. The radar that is used to sense movement acts as a soundtrack for the movie, replacing the need for scary violins. We as the audience can become immersed in the fear with the marines and for whatever reason James Cameron chose the exact right sound and volume for it. The face huggers are more prevalent and they are fucking creepy. I am doubting my decision to cut it out of the running but, I am going to stick with it. Aliens is superb just not so much a pure horror film.
    Which leaves use with Alien3. I like Alien3. Lots of people hate on it. What I think is important to remember is that there were a lot of issues with the studio and delays with script that put a lot of wrenches in a lot of gears. It went back to the idea of a single Xenomorph stalking its prey. Some crazy prison monks who haven't seen a woman in years, no weapons, no power and a few idiots plus lots of vents equal some scary scenes. Its really good and I wish that Fincher was allowed to make the movie he wanted. The technology for the effects wasn't up to snuff and over time it has suffered because of it. It is also more chest pounding anxiety of what is coming than fear. So Alien wins.
    So lets talk about Alien for a little while. Gothic horror film in space. Thats what it is. What is particularly interesting in many horror films but more so it seems in space is the idea of isolation and fear of the unknown. Lets all go to a deserted cabin, or into the desert, or in a small town. Well in all of those situations you have to just walk a little ways and you can reach civilization. In space you can't just leave the ship. You have to wait for it to travel a few light years before you can disembark. Isolation, blackness, and the unknown could be the three scariest things in the world. Imagine waking up after sleeping for a few decades and then seeing nothing but darkness around you while discovering you are not where you are supposed to be. People get scared in their own homes when its dark all the time. Kurt Vonnegut wrote a great short story about being in space for the first time called "Thanasphere." It scared the crap out of me when I was 14.
    Now add a giant fucking monster. H.R. Gieger did a great job of creating the thing, and the producers did an even better job of realizing that they should get him to make it in the first place. The lack of eyes and streamlined head and body is what does it. Anything that can see you without eyes is creepy.
    Now through in some small confined air vents that it can move around in so it can be anywhere and if you go in there, you can't move or see. There is even less of a place to go.
    Ridley hired some of the best actors around to be in his movie and it shows. It is a wonderful piece of acting and has some great dialogue. Everyone seems as though they have been on the road for years and are tired of one another. Relationships are informed and executed. Everyone seems to like Hurt as well which makes it even worse when his chest explodes. Also, and this is going to be rough, imagine never having seen Spaceballs, or simply not knowing that eventually someone was going to have an alien come out of them. Thats always hard with classic movies, you hear about them and things are ruined. It makes me want to show it to my kids at an early age so they can experience it for the first time like they should but then my kids would be scarred and start to look like the boy from The Ring and they would be all fucked up. SO I will just have to hope that they don't hear about it before they get to see it.
     Dan O'Bannon said that his inspiration for the face huggers was that he wanted to scare the men in the audience. With that in mind he decided that the scariest thing for a man was Oral Rape. His words. The face hugger looks a little bit like a vagina on the bottom side as well and the body looks like a set of hands that are choking and suffocating you. And they scamper. Scampering is always scary. Why I don't know, but I think because only small things scamper and small things are are to catch. They are also generally more likely to pierce our skin than simply bludgeon us. No one likes it when their skin has a needle in it, well almost no one.
     No one had ever seen anything like the xenomorph and there isn't anything else like it. Even if you kill it chances are it will bleed on you and your face will melt off. All of these are things that are things we don't like, but during this movie we are experiencing them indirectly, through a filter. We don't see someone choking a victim, but we do see hands around a neck.
      After all of that imagine that your doctor tries to shove a magazine down your throat and then bleeds milk and marbles.

     Not that great of a movie. It seems almost that the only reason its scary is because it is supposed to be. Too much of the fear is on the surface in special effects and set design and gore. All of it is shock value, which is cheap. I'm not really afraid of hell. I don't want to go there but, it is such a sensory overload that my mind shuts down and tells me it isn't real. Sensory overload is a good way to describe it. Hostel is the same way but there is always a spotlight on what we should focus on, a real tangible horrific act. I don't have anything in my life to relate to Event Horizon's version of Bosch's Hell. ALien keeps thigns in the shadows, doesn't show its hand until we have built up to it.  It is a slow churning in the gut rather than a blinding light burning the eyes. Also the acting isn't very good, because there aren't really any well written scenes. Its hard to act well when there is a bad script. Something special has to happen in order for it to be overcome.
    And Joely Richardson is the worst. (quick side note just in case you don't believe it, watch her eat something on screen, in Nip/Tuck she eats a piece of steak and a piece of banana bread, she tries way too hard)

    These are interesting because they aren't really horror films, but are still scary. Moon less so. It is a brilliant movie with a huge fear of the unknown and sense of isolation. I also believe it, in terms of it being possible. There is always an impending fear of what is coming, what is going to happen next. And that sense is hard to get so it deserves some mention.
    Sunshine is proof that Danny Boyle can direct anything. Space, Zombies, Druggies, Coming of age Journey, A childrens film, Love story. Its nuts. Sunshine turns into a horror film after having been a survival drama. There are tense moments of basic ship repairs and standard space snafus but walking into  an abandoned ship covered in dust because, dust is mainly human skin. Reading that in the script is crazy to think about, but Boyle saw it as an opportunity to raise tension and apprehension of what comes next. A man driven crazy by the sun. Literally. After having spliced in some headshots of the ex-crew, ala Friedkin, we finally see what became of them, and a manhunt begins. All while trying to save the world. His tempo and use of angles in his shots as well as light and shadow is eerie. I just wish he had used the focus a little more sometimes towards the end. Also I don't understand why a scalpel would need to vibrate.
     2001:A Space Odyssey. See The Shining. Now Imagine that Jack Nicholson was a computer. A computer who is in charge of everything and can control everything around you. Every movie in space owes a lot to Kubrick. Slow steady build in a cold sterile environment. It is a big investment to sit down and watch and might be better without the vague beginning and end. Once you know what is going on it makes sense but the story telling of something based in science should be a tad clearer.
    All three of these are great films and have some major horror elements to them but they just don't have enough to beat monsters.


    The trailer and the poster for this film were good and lead to me to approach it in a certain way. The first 20 to 30 minutes of it held up to that agreement. You will put me on a spaceship and weird creepy shti will happen and it will be scary. Ben Foster wakes up from hyper sleep, for his four year shift of running the ship. His body as shrunk and skin has died, he literally no longer fits in his skin and has to shed. Tubes and cables are going in and out of him, he finds another survivor they have no memory and have to figure it out. Then there are some weird noises. It is creepy. Tight spaces, at one point it looks like he will be stuck in a duct forever when he finally gets out it looks like the ship is giving birth to him. At this point The pacing was perfect the suspense was right where it should have been, I knew a reveal was coming up and was all ready to sit back and enjoy the modern day Alien.
    That is when everything got stupid. Post apocalyptic tribal mutant cannibals start attacking. Some French Samoan is awesome at Jedi Gymnastics and some Milla Jovovich wannabe is there to. Some convoluted flashbacks and a silly twist happen after they find the reason for the mutation and then something cool happens. Sincerely, its cool. Remember that these guys were floating adrift unsure of where they were, yada yada, generic space plot? They were underwater the whole time. In looking out the window it looked dark because it was deep. They had already reached their destination and were just sitting in the water thinking that Will Robinson is in danger.It was an interesting way to guarantee a happy ending and add to the notion that it is scary not to know where you are even if it is where you are supposed to be.


Not in space, but is Isolated and has an Alien. Normally I would say this is a monster movie but the isolation and the simple fact that you don't ever know who might kill you trumps it. Kurt Russell is the shit, always. Its a simple plot, but something about it, i think its unpredictability again, is scary. This monster never looks the same so you never know what part of it might have a mouth to eat you. There is no escape in the antarctic, and rather than black everywhere its white. I don't have much else to say about that.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Attacking Horror

It dawned on me I'm not writing a thesis. A full article on all of the Horror movies would be crazy long, AND I don't want to write it that way. Everything I do is in one sitting with a stream of consciousness type thing. I've decided to string this along over a few postings and break up the Genre into sub-genres that help me, not necessarily all of them but the ones I want to do because well, fuck it I can do whatever I want. As of right now, We will only list a few and then when I think of some more I'll add them to the list or....whatever.

1. SciFi / Space
2. Slasher
3. Zombie
4. Monster
5. Psychological
6. Supernatural
7. Nature
8. Realistic.
9. Splatter
10. B Movie / Guilty Pleasures

All of these are capable of being movies that are not scary. Except maybe number 9 but, we will only be looking at ones that are frightening. Also bear in mind that I am not always nostalgic, so classics and remakes will get the same treatment and will have to fight with the simple task of standing up today, this means that generally Hammer Films and Vincent Price probably won't be on any of these discussions.

Sci / Space is up first.

Why I hate Frank Darabont

Six years ago I woke up from having an amazing zombie dream. I decided I wanted to make it into a movie, but then realized that zombies can't actually ride motorcycles nor do they wear post apocolyptic armor. It is possible that a Mel Gibson trilogy might have influenced the ending a little bit. Anyway the idea ruminated and matured over the years and I came up with a solid idea that I wanted to drag out over hours and hours of film.

Within the past year a good friend of mine handed me this book called The Walking Dead. It was superb. Then not one week had passed until the internet told me that the Genius behind Shawshank and The Green Mile, was producing it into a TV show. Well my plans went to hell in a handbasket. But then I started thingkng about how it couldn't be any good because it wasn't going to be on HBO or Showtime it wouldn't be violent enough and there might be hope left for me to pioneer or at least create the first good one. And Frank focuses on intense emotional prison dramas. Zombies are scary he can't do that, Thats when I checked out The Mist. It was not bad. Crap

I am really excited to be able to speak about something new that is happening right now. I don't really have the cash to go see a bunch of movies and don't want to only talk about old favorites. I was going to keep up with The Event, watched two episodes and quit. I am pretty sure it isn't very good.

After two episodes of The Walking Dead I am super excited for Frank and his cast, and Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore. So far this is a superbly faithful recreation of the comic, Clearly Frank decided that he didn't want to worry about storyboards or even really writing a script and just faxed the book to everyone. It is almost as spot on as it can be.

There are some tight scenes, that look great are acted well and don't skirt around the gore and violence. I don't love seeing violence but I feel like it is necessary for a zombie story, it helps with the literal horror of what is happening. I'll talk about zombies another time, i don't want to get bogged down by other references and ideas. But I will say I hate the Zombie vs. Infected / Fast vs. Slow debate. Neither is better than the other and both have their place. Romero and Boyle are both equally important in the mythology. Anyway, the point is that these "walkers" are a different breed, a sort of hybrid, Land of the dead smarts and memory with the ability for basic motor skills and simple tools while still moving slow, but also and a 28 Days pep in their step and aggressive nature. I am not going to lie, I had really wanted to do this in my story and probably still will but I am no longer the first. This kind of attitude and energy from the zombies adds some unpredictability which is already there with zombies and Frank has upped the Ante.

Lennie James was awesome. i just remembered his scenes. He was really good.
Also Michael Rooker is cool always.

I still can't believe that this is allowed to be on a non premium channel. Because whoever is their makeup designer has figured out the perfect mixture to make realistic blood. Perfect. It is disgusting and terrible and doesn't make me feel like I am watching corn syrup. It's clear that even with all of the gore and guts, the blood and body parts it is not what Frank has decided to focus on. The human journey and condition, is what made this Book great and I assume it is what caught is interest when he decided to option it. This is evident in the first scene of the first episode.

I am talking about the cop car scene not the looking for gas scene before the credits. Which brings me to the two things I don't like so far. I don't think that the cold open should have been there. It sort of ruins what we are in store for. A pair of guys sitting around eating burgers and trying to figure out women is better. It is one of the most human things we can do. Casual and thoughtless. And then all of the sudden ZOMBIES! There was a car chase 5 minutes later, that should be enough action to start with. The car scene sets the tone better I feel.
The second thing is the song during the aerial shot at the end of the first episode. It ruined the tone and the journey and the fear. It was dumb. The song at the end of episode two however was perfect. That was a great ending.

Other than those two, I guess nitpicky things, I think the show is off to a great start and I love that Frank Darabont is the one who is behind it rather than someone who would sacrifice things and fight to make the show more "mainstream." As an audience member I would like you to make something as good as possible and not dumbed down. I appreciated the Book and am enjoying the show.

In closing, I hate that I am not a part of this show. Jealousy pure and simple.

A quick post script: Kudos to AMC for taking on some daring projects that wouldn't happen otherwise. Mad Man wouldn't survive on one of the big 4. Don Draper and Meth seems to have helped give the network some balls.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Love Stories

I watched a lot of Horror Films before Halloween as per usual and wanted to write about the Genre as a whole. It was a lot to wrap my head around. So much was going on and there are so many sub-genre's and I need to figure out an outline to do it correctly. I would like to put something up and have decided to do the opposing genre, or some might say the same. wakka wakka
(that reminds me I should write about Jim Henson)

Ah, L'amour.

I recently watched Manhattan for the first time and thought it was bogus. It looked really pretty and I liked the pacing and loved the Gershwin, but all of Woody Allen's movies are so similar in that he can't deal with his life or the lead is neurotic and a self serving intellect or there is some lady half his age he is in love with. I just didn't buy a lot of what happened. As is the case with a lot of love stories. There were some great scenes but the movie as a whole didn't do it for me. Rather than talking about some movie I didn't like I think it will be easier for you to understand where I am coming from here by reading this list of my top Romance/Love movies.

1 Say Anything
2 The Notebook
3 Princess Bride
4 Dirty Dancing
5 Beauty and The Beast

Honorable Mention
Love Actually
Shakespeare in Love
Peter Pan
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
Before Sunrise

I just compiled this list and have realized this might be a super long post. I am going to have to talk about all of them. I think explaining each of these will be a better way for me to explain how I feel about this type of film.

In reverse order:

Before Sunrise
Love at first sight. Awesome. Its something that we all want to believe in. Also it has happened to all of us, and we have spent an entire night with that person. Lost in their eyes and opinions trying new things that we never would have before. Before Sunrise also takes place in an exotic locale which for whatever reason that adds to the romance. Two strangers meet and fall in love but have to leave at dawn the next day. They decided to spend the night exploring the city with one another and fall in love. It ends tragically when they get on their trains after agreeing to meet back at that spot a year later to finally be together. Yes there is hope in the ending and a sequel explains what happens, but I would rather see them trade their tickets in for new ones to them same destination. Happily ever after always leaves you with a good feeling. And thats what I want to see out of a love story. Tragedy doesn't give me much hope for my own life.

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
A tale of unrequited love as well as love that is requited. Lovers crossing the continent to fight for one another. There are Victorian overtones in terms of what is and isn't proper and who can marry who etc. The reason it isn't higher is because the awesome fight scenes easily overshadow the love stories and there is a little bit of tragedy at the end.

Peter Pan
The most recent 2003 live action version. We all know the story but this telling of it ups the ante of the wonder and mystery in the story which allows all of the fantasy to occasionally take a back burner to the love between Peter and Wendy. The subtle looks and eyes and fights and triumphs and smiles that each of these characters are given brilliantly by the actors portraying them and an honest and innocent love story is revealed. The characters are young and don't know what love is or that they are in it. This is what gets me, they don't know how do deal with love just like all of us but the process is simplified because of their age. The interpretation of the characters is written like Wes Anderson's creations. This isn't higher simply because they are younger and the love story is so subtle and not the focus.

Shakespeare in Love
Hysterical and amazing. Some more unrequited love, a parallel to "the greatest love story ever told" but alas, its harder for me to get behind because they don't get to be together in the end. Other than that it's perfect.

Love Actually
I just don't love this movie. So it isn't in the top five. However, I appreciate the interweaving tales from all walks of life and the different portrayals of how love can or cannot pan out. The little stupid things we do when we are in love. I mean STUPID things. What we do to try and get that love returned. The lengths that we will go to and what we will put up with, the sense vulnerability and the embarrassing situations we find ourselves in. All perfectly exemplified, just not one of my favorites.


5. Beauty and The Beast
A truly beautiful story. There are several kinds of love going on here. Belle loves her Father and sacrifices her freedom for him. The enchanted servants love their master, and desire to help him, they will also help themselves in the process but you know. Gaston has love for himself which is exemplified in a false love of Belle. And most important Beauty learns to love the Beast. Every time I have been on a date while sporting a full beard this movie pops into my head. What makes the story pure is that it is about pure love. There is nothing on the surface that influences the love. Two characters hate and resent one another then find out what is going on inside and make each other better give each other experiences that they never would have had otherwise. I mean thats all we really want anyway isn't it. New and exciting things and someone to inspire and make us better.
My favorite parts are as follows: Gift of the Library, "It would give me great pleasure if you would join me for dinner!...please.". Fighting of the wolves, the anger and ferocity in the beasts eyes when he threatens Belle, (only true love can make someone that angry). Also, the songs are good.

4. Dirty Dancing
This movie is fucking sexy. Thats why it trumps Beauty and the Beast. It makes me want to bone. The songs are better, the character growth isn't limited to the feelings for one another but in their individual growth. Swayze and Grey make new decisions and become adults. They fight for themselves and one another. It is one of those classic prince falls in love with the pauper type tales. I always like those. Romeo and Juliet has two character from the same status fall in love and when ever a Princess falls in love with a Street Rat, as it were, it always adds an extra level to the story.

3.  The Princess Bride
Classic Fantasy Love Story. Everything that should be in any other movie as well. Villians, monsters, sword fights, chases, jokes, stages of a journey that must be passed, pirates, more jokes, magic, learning how to bluff. What is interesting about this is that they are automatically in love from the get go the fight and discovery is getting back there. Two lovers become separated and must get back to one another. Thats what I like The fight to be together. Things don't get bogged down by status, or social mores, or having to check a box yes or no, or making the right impression, just true love. I don't want to speak out of place but I think every lady wants to be whisked away by a mysterious man and go on wonderful adventures and end it all in a kiss, I know that I would really like to have a sword fight fighting for the one I love and then defeating the villain trying to take her away from me so that she can run to me and then we can sail away or something. I mean think about it, that would be awesome. I don't think there is a bigger aphrodisiac than a sword fight or a rescue.

2. The Notebook
Yes I know it ends tragically but not before a full life of living together. Thats the key. Very rarely do we get to see that the happily ever after actually. This time we know that it happens. James Garner brilliantly plays self sacrifice and willingness, if not joy, to take his time to read to the woman he loves. Leaving her side is not an option. That is true love, that kind of self sacrifice. Now, I prefer the younger story which is the bulk of the film. Remember what I said earlier about doing stupid things for love? Well climbing  ferris wheel is dumb. What is really attractive is the playfulness, McAdams and Gosling were brilliantly cast and spend the whole movie playing with one another. They have wonderful passionate fights that don't matter and laugh all the time. Its another Princess and Pauper story. They deal with the obstacles that stem because of that and rise above them. The two lovers share joy and life not common interests. That is what I think I like. No matter what, distance and time, they simply like being in one another's company. That is what is important. I enjoy stories that take place in a different time, just like a foreign country it adds to the romance.  It is also interesting to note, that the characters don't really grow or change. It's because they don't have to in each other's eyes they are already perfect. Also, I have changed my mind, building a house trumps a sword fight as an aphrodisiac.

1. Say Anything
Oh man. I love this fucking movie. Everything about it is perfect. Falling in love with Ione Skye or John Cusack is simple and easy. Both of them are so awkward and graceful at the same time. Every experience that we all had in high school with love is told in this one story, lots of these experiences happen over four years with several people but this happens in a single summer with one person. Its everything that we want out of our love lives. The pacing and editing and story telling and music, and acting and script and tone of shots are all perfect. Lloyd gets so awkward Diane is so understanding, Diane gets so scared and Lloyd gets so protective. The last shot of this film exemplifies in every possible way what it means to love someone with all of your heart. No kiss can describe the situation better. To be in love is to be terrified and to take risks and put everything on the line, to leave everyone else who loves you and whom you love behind for something greater, it dare to be great, to jump blindly into a void screaming geronimo all the way down because the love that you have will give you wings, To get so angry and heart broken to become completely open and naked and be comfortable with it. In Your Eyes while in the back of a car under a blanket shivering and being held. Moving glass out of the way. Giving pens as gifts. Giving freedom with a watchful eye. Again staying out until the son comes up with no particular agenda in mind. Becoming involved in and proud of the things that someone that love loves. No fantasy, no magic, time period, no common interest, no trick aphrodisiacs, nothing except love. Simple and new and scary.

That geronimo line is from Conspiracy Theory but it is a good one for this situation.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Dark Knight Rises

We did two of the DC three so lets round it out before I preach to Darren Arronofsky (probably) about How he can salvage a marvel franchise, and perhaps the rest of the MARVEL KNIGHTS.


Tim Burton helped bring him back into the mainstream, and then got all Tim Burtony on it and started the focus on the origin stories of whatever villain was featured in that movie. Joel and Val brought a new attitude and then Joel and George ruined it. I mean ruined it. And I will say it right now, between Keaton Kilmer and Clooney, Kilmer was the best at balancing Bruce and the Bats. Batman Forever also had a sweet soundtrack.

Much like James Bond, Batman has been reborn for the modern era and is awesome now. Going on about how Nolan is great seems pointless because we already know. Here is what I want to see in The Dark Knight Rises:

We already know its not going to be The Riddler. I support this decision wholeheartedly. The Joker is similar enough that back to back it wouldn't be interesting. Grabbing the modern comic Riddler would be nice but that isn't how people perceive him and it would be too difficult and really he isn't the best option out there.

I am going to take a sentence and say that out of all the superheroes out there, Batman has the best collection of villains.

Except Killer Moth.

Nolan also said no Penguin. Good he is silly if he is an actually bird-man type thing.

Bring Ras back? No.

Bring Scarecrow back? YES. He is awesome and Murphy is great. He's been in two already, keep him there. Have some fear gas get in Bruce's face and then have it be ineffective. Bruce goes into a downward spiral going crazy and not knowing why. Turns out its a new batch that is time delayed or some thing. BATMAN IS LOSING CONTROL OF HIMSELF AND DOESN'T KNOW WHY! awesome.

Recast Joker? No. During his upside down monologue in DK I got really sad when I realized it was the last time I would see anything like that from Heath. I mean Really sad. Don't recast him. Lock him in Arkham and leave him there.

Solution? Batman Beyond.

In Batman Beyond there is a gang of called the Jokerz. They try to emulate the prankster himself and cause havoc. We just had the Bats being imitated. Now that he is on the run from the whole city it seems only right that some kids start stirring things up and painting their faces. Citywide panic! Similar to the mutants in Dark Knight Returns. Eventually the people will see that Batman is good and everyone will live happily.

Heres the thing though. This movie is going to be the last in the trilogy, so it better be at least two and a half hours long if not three or else I will be pissed. A three hour movie with just a stupid clown gang? Nope.

I really want Hush in the flick. It would be a perfect fit. I don't want to ruin Hush for you guys if you haven't read about him because it is crazy and he is not a common character. The problem is aspects of his character needed to be introduced in the last film if not the first for a crazy build up. Google him and check out the images. He looks awesome. There is debate about his identity. Debate regarding recent characters in the past movies. He is dark and could help torment Bats during his exile. Oh man it would be so cool. Go out and get the two Hush trades, read them and get back to me. If you haven't read that stuff Skip the blog until you see an ampersand. That is this &.

Ok so you read the books you know who Hush really is. You see what I mean ? Bringing him in and introducing his personal relationships would be a whole movie unto itself, which would be a sad way to end the series because there are some more loose ends that need to be tied up. We can't have flashbacks all the time with Tommy and Bruce, ala Rachel and Bruce in Begins throughout the whole film. The structure would be weird. Although i would love to have the film start exactly the way Begins started almost shot for shot only with Tommy instead of Rachel. Is Hush the Joker, is he Two Face? is he Deadshot (an easy character to introduce: master assassin, sent to kill Batman by the Mob just so long as his costume isn't verbatim out of the comics, he only needs to take up a little bit of screen time)

Batman is going nuts because of the fear gas and thinks he sees Harvey around totally believes he isn't dead flashes of the joker without makeup haunt him, as do Jokerz that look like the real deal Bruce becomes more aggressive and takes solace in his newly returned childhood friend (especially because Rachel is dead) Alfred is feeling alienated, Gordon needs help, Batman almost kills some kid on Halloween and The Scarecrow is laughing at him. Who wouldn't want to see that. The humanity and vulnerability he will have to deal with and accept will be NUTS. I mean he almost killed a kid on Halloween. Fuck man that is rough.

Anyway, Batman cures himself puts on a gas mask like in the underwater themed action figures and punches Cillian in the face. The whole city turns around and loves him again after he turns the Jokerz around and Hush is no longer creating chaos. Deadshot goes to jail and the Mob is without a leader. Cue The Long Halloween. End Credits.

& that would be awesome. That is a shitload for one film and might not work out.

Next Option: Catwoman.
Current Comic Costume Catwoman.

Rachel is dead. Bats is on the run. He hates being Bruce. Throws himself completely into his work fighting the Mob, The Jokerz, Maybe Deadshot, Definitely Scarecrow, A toned down Firefly...
Anyway, He is becoming more Batman and Less Bruce Wayne. He goes to a party and mets Selina Kyle and is totally disinterested. He is patrolling the rooftops and runs into Catwoman stealing from the Roman or something. Totally Twitterpated.

Now he has to grapple with being in love with a criminal and restoring his good name at the same time. Alfred has some words of wisdom, they learn to live and let live. We focus on the Dark Knight's downfall before he can rise again and become accepted 100% by the city.

I guess the point is, Heath Ledger's death was a tragedy and he shouldn't be replaced. Many of Batman's enemies won't work in mainstream film. Solomon Grundy, Killer Croc, Mad Hatter etc. The transition would be hard.

Now we talk about Robin.
I love Robin and he would be cool.
Not until the fourth film.

The relationship the two of them have. Samurai and Apprentice deserves its own journey. Batman needs a focus and also something to lighten him up. He needs some joy in his life. A kid he can share with,
and teach. A child who takes joy in Batman and celebrates how he is doing the right thing with no questions asked. Yes, he has to be a child. A twenty or thirty year old orphan who does Tai Kwon Laundry sucks.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Hobbit

I don't have much to say because Lord of the Rings was exactly how it should have been. Now that these bullshit labor disputes are over (I say bullshit because the big guys should have given in a long time ago) things can get rolling. The production team is awesome and now Martin Freeman (one of the most talented small names) is playing Bilbo and that is awesome.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wonder Woman

I can't sleep. All I can think about, for whatever reason, is Wonder Woman. I don't even like her. I think thats the problem. I want to. But I don't really know anything about her. And now I'm hearing all this stuff about her being revamped in the comics, and a movie falling through so it might turn into a tv series. I just don't care. She is the third part of the Justice League triumvirate. Superman, we spoke about, Batman, we will, and Wonder Woman.

I am not a comic expert by any means and I have some friends who are so I can't speak too much about any of that because they have done it better. I want to speak about my limited experience and what I would like to see in order to get me excited. Something that I could invest in and want to stick with.

First this new costume that she has... Terrible. Google it. She looks like Wonder this is what is hip and trendy Teenage Girl. The old costume that is iconic is not that great either. Granny panties with stars is all I can think. There isn't enough and too much at the same time. Is she Amazonian or American? I was told that what happened is she flew from her island, in her invisible jet, and was adopted by America during the golden age and helped fight Nazi's.

That is too much for me. She needs to die. I know I just said that about Superman. This is different. In order to change the feeling of the Superman movies he should die, doesn't need to in the comics, he is good to go there. Wonder Woman does need a new identity but it needs to be her own and should stem from her roots. But before all that we need to help recreate her world.

Name a Superman Villain. Batman. Spiderman. X-men. Now name Wonder Woman's nemesis.

I had to wikipedia it and I barely recognized 3 names.

She lives on an island entrenched in greek mythology and culture, all of these ancient gods and legends should still be around and still fighting and fucking shit up. I read a book once, by I don't know who, called The God of Impertinence. Essentiall, Hephestes took over Zeus' kingdom with science and math and used that rather than magic to rule. Hermes had been trapped in a volcano and broke out, he fixed things. It was cool. Lets do that, bring that shit back. Kratos, from the God of War video games kicked some serious god ass. Ares was a villain listed on wikipedia, lets get the whole zodiac involved. ToddMcfarlane already has some cool zodiac toys. Steal them.

THIS is what needs to happen. Wonder Woman dies in an epic battle through time. Because she was back in time when she wasn't supposed to, the fates get pissed that their plan is altered, they wait until present day and then bring her back from the dead. When she is brought back, all of the ancient gods and evildoers sneak out with her. BOOM new villains, her and Shazam can team up, get Black Adam to see the gravity of the situation and help out.

She has lost all memories and powers. She is a child. She grows quickly and learns fast so it only takes two issues and a little bit of real time before she is out on her own. She has to start in regular island clothes and travel the world to get pieces of armor and gifts from the gods in order to get her powers back and protect her home and defeat the evil that she helped awaken. She stops in Gotham first. A belt which gives her speed and agility is on display at a museum, Maxie Zeus is trying to steal them. She doesn't understand he is an idiot, and because he is a crappy villain she wins easily with a little help from Batman who has been watching her since she got there. He knows what is going on the whole time but promised her mother not to tell her everything because it was something she needed to do on her own.

Heroes have to pretend to not know her and give her some training. She gets a breastplate that giver her strength and invulnerability last. Because she can't rely on the strength and has to hone her other skills for when she is evenly matched. Superman helps with this. The Flash, speed. Green Lantern, Flight from Herme's sandals etc. Now her costume consists of pieces of armor and it looks like she is a warrior. Alex ross has a good drawing of this I believe. Every time she takes her armor off she is mortal. Now there is some danger. Later on one of Zeus' lightning bolts hits her and fuses her mowers to her anatomy or some bullshit. Now she doesn't need the armor. Maybe America helps save her Island or something and she adopts them as well.

Also, She needs a skirt, that layered armor skirt. It can be blue, it can have stars, but she can't have granny panties. She can't have a thong. A skirt is the way to go.

Now all of this can happen and be merged into the tv show that will not star Megan Fox, because she is a terrible actress who has overrated looks. Also, I don't ever want the invisible jet to come back for nostalgia or some kind of cameo easter egg crap.

Also, I always feel like she is the Thor of DC. Grunting and making ridiculous ancient references. That is mainly the cartoons. Add some femininity and some maternal instincts. Get some other amazons to ask her to cut off her breast and she refuses to because she shouldn't have to mutilate herself in order to do what a man can do. Deal and work on it and then kick some guy's ass. That is what I want to see.

Also, these zodiac guys shouldn't be all bad. Some ancient cult or something with a senate and some of them are good. I mean thats, 12 new characters with design jumping off points, easily recognizable and have potential for their own book.

Listen to me DC. Stay tuned and I will tell you what I want to see in the next Batman movie. Fair warning: I want it to be about 6 hours long.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Why Everyone Should Watch Sports

Name a Disney movie based off of a real life sports drama that isn't awesome.

Sports fans don't necessarily have to read this one because you are already doing a good job. But
I'll probably ask you to not be an asshole later so, maybe stick around.

If you don't understand your friends obsession with a particular game and they won't shut up about it. If you are in a bar and everyone cheers while you roll your eyes, what's your problem? If you live in a big city pick a team that isn't from around there and count how many jerseys you see on game day. Chances are you'll see more than one. Sports are real life soap opera format action serials. Every week and sometimes everyday a new chapter is opened up. There are guest stars and special events. New supporting characters and leads that leave the show. There are Villains and there are Heroes. All of these characters are engaged in an epic battle for an hour at a time. True human struggles.

When you are a fan you can create instant friends and conversation, for at least a few hours in a bar, if not more. Conversation can be struck up anywhere anytime. You can cheer with a group. Feel true elation with a large group of people, pure joy. Or you can become sympathetic and share your pain. High five all over the place, and yes even weep.

The last Superbowl was the most watched event in television history. You probably went to a party and went crazy about the commercials. That Doritos kid was awesome, but wouldn't it be nice to understand all that filler in between the consumerism? Wouldn't it be nice to understand what was going on and why people were cheering.

Pick a sport and then pick a team. make that team your team. Buy a shirt that has their colors in it and wear it every once in a while. Learn the game and get to know the players, read the news reading up to the games and get to know the other team. Ask questions about what is going on, during the commercials. See how it suits you. Chances are your friends will embrace you and be more than happy to share their limited knowledge of the game, and now all of the sudden you have a new hobby and activity.

It is hard to explain the thrill of a brilliant and surprising play. The rush that comes over you when your friends on the field of battle succeed. Yes they will become your friends and you will refer to them as if you know them personally. You will yell at them through the screen. These stories are real. They happen live in front of your eyes and are more unscripted than anything else you will see other than the news. They will always be there for you and, if you are a true fan never let you down. You will see them work hard and get hurt and then start the fight again.

Yes, a true fan. Fake fans badmouth their team and have no hope. They just want scapegoats for their problems and cannot find any good in their team. Faker fans, they are the ones that only get involved in the playoffs when a team is doing well. They are called frontrunners and they are assholes. They act as though they were their the whole time. They tune in for the season finale and are a little lost with what is going on. They don't know the exposition. They haven't seen the character development.  They don't know anything about acts one through four.

I suggest one of the four major sports played with a ball and by a team. Football, Baseball, Basketball, and Hockey. Well thats a puck but whatever. These are the most popular sports in this country. Futbol can also work but it is hard to get the games and it is hard to find fans of teams unless you speak their language. I prefer football. There is less time commitment but there are more rules and players. Think of it like chess with real people. Baseball is a little less action packed and has a huge time commitment. I don't much care for basketball but it might be easier to pick up. 5 players at a time, it moves pretty quick and has simple rules. Hockey, moves very quick has a decent amount of players and there is usually a fight. But it is pretty low scoring. And the other Hockey fans are probably going to fight with a riot squad at some point in time. All of these have subtleties that are hard to pick up by the untrained eye.

Try a fantasy league. You will get to know players all over the league, have personal stakes in more than one game. You have a group of friends to chat with. But just don't start thinking everything because you read some fantasy reports and can badmouth other teams and players because you are going head to head against them that week. When I draft my fantasy team I make sure that I don't draft anyone in my real teams divisions and Make Certain that on game day anyone who I am playing against that week is not in my lineup.

If you like the olympics, thats great I go apeshit when America whens a race and I hate watching swimming. I love curling too. But they happen once every two or four years, depending on what you watch. Tennis and golf seem to go all year round and have big followings. They are good enough. But they are individual sports. You can't feel apart of one persons triumphs, unless you have money on them.  (sidenote: Gambling is also a good way to get involved in sports but be careful and learn about the sport first) A team is something you can get behind, Something you can become a part off.

To sum up.
Great characters and plots. Nail biting, gut wrenching, hair pulling stories. Excitement controlled by the ebbs and flows of game day. You can read a whole other section of the newspaper. Friends and family can join together anywhere and anytime. A great excuse to drink and eat too much. Coordinating your wardrobe is easy now. A couples activity. Ladies, men love it when you get involved with their teams and you have never looked hotter when you wear their colors.
Face paint is expensive and you might get punched.

Safety in Stories

Stories follow a structure. To some degree we always know what is going to happen. The hero saves the day. The heroine finds her prince. The underdog rises above all odds. The villain is defeated. Very rarely are we truly shocked and taken out of our comfort zone. This is why Psycho and The Sixth Sense were so successful. Why Fight Club was made into a movie and the reason Jazz was created. The thrill of unpredictability is unique and terrifying. This is why stories exist.

An Actor on stage is secure in knowing that every night they will say a certain line and their scene partner will give them the same response they have always given with only a slight variation. The audience watches the same movie and reads the same book over and over because they know they will be satisfied with the way things go. In general when we are having a tough time with our lives we want to see light hearted comedies. Stories to bring us up, stories where the guy gets the girl and the girl gets the guy. They give us hope and joy. When life is good, we are more likely to respond to a story where heroes fail and kings die tragically. We can then appreciate what we have.

Think of the security you feel when you are alone and open a book, a good book. Its as if there are blinders on and you are being sucked into the pages, ignoring all outside stimuli. Sitting in a dark cavernous room and the sound and lights go up and in front of you a window opens. Through that window we can see tales of fiction and fantasy through which we can send our self conscious through. Sitting in a movie theatre on a date, you might be taken out of the story when a sex scene comes on the screen. I propose this is simply because at the end of the date you want your story to unfold like what you see on screen and because it is too close to home. What if your date is uncomfortable? What if they are too comfortable? What if they are the villain and you have to wait for the right person to come and save you.

This is when reality sets in. More terrifying than any horror movie is the house settling when you are alone. When you realize that your life isn't scripted and you are capable of and will definitely say the wrong thing and ruin the date. Then you have to wait until act two, or worse the sequel to get it right. How will you react when you get mugged. Will you act nobly? Will you piss your pants? If you are dumb enough to resist will you walk away or will you get stabbed?

Stories are secure because there are no lasting consequences. In two hours, or until next week, at the end of the page everything will be over and you can always start over. Or simply start something anew if you were displeased. In life here is no editing room, no red pencil, no rewind. No TiVo. No pause.... In life you have to keep going and can't rearrange the characters or debate about what would have been a better choice. You have to live with the choice and focus on the next one.

Have you ever seen something on screen that was so awkward you had too look away? So uncomfortable that it was unbearable? So terrifying that you hid behind someone or something and waited for it to go away? That doesn't work in reality. You can't get lost and then suddenly find yourself, you have to grab a compass and figure out where you are. Then you have to walk back to where you need to go. Television shows are popular because you can become invested in something for years on end, and if the show jumps the shark you can simply stop watching. Or buy a dvd and go back to the good old days of season two when everything started melding. We can't just stop our lives because we are sick of them.

We want to be taken there and we also want to know that it isn't real. We want to be able to take ourselves away. We want to relive greatness over and over again. We want to see other people's failure so we feel better about our own. Brecht talks about this at some length when speaking about the alienation of the audience. Cutting us off from realizing what we are experiencing isn't real. Only then can we learn from what we have seen. If we believed to be real we could simply write it off as, "Oh well, thats life. Shit happens." If we know that the tale was fabricated, we will ask ourselves, "Why?" Why was that the way it went down? Anything could have happened and that was what we were given to experience, so why that?

It is easy to get lost in the fantasy today. We have so much content and it is so easily accessible that we are being cut of from true emotions and actions. Marrying a pillow is easier than talking to a real girl and making friends with orcs and blood elves is simpler than striking up a conversation at a bar. The lines are being blurred and we no longer have to work at interactions. It is at our fingertips. The movie is over and we turn on our phones, hopefully they were shut off, and we text and Facebook and Tweet what just happened so that the whole world can share the experience with the whole world. But the whole world isn't paying attention to our Tweets and our Blogs. No one cares. They care about their own status updates, because they don't really know who we are. They have never shared a beer with us. They have never punched us in the face when we were being idiots. They have never caressed our faces. They saw the photos we put up but since there weren't any tits in them they moved on.

Reality TV is fabricated and nature documentaries are actually pretty tame. We can't take anything away from that, we can't learn to be better people by seeing the worst off us worry about not fronting. I don't know the quote but it goes something like, simply by observing something you change it. You can't change a book by reading it nor a movie by watching it they are eternal and constant. Theatre can be changed by simply being there and coughing or laughing, by applauding or snoring. That however is a different beast entirely because it is happening in front of you and you are experiencing it with the person next to you and the actress onstage who is nervous about her lines or her hair or if the joke will be as funny tonight as it was last night.

The funniest jokes are inside ones. Ones that have existed for years between friends and are secrets from the rest of the world. Sometimes the best experiences are ones that you had to be there for. Those stories make us remember a time when we were alive. Those stories are the best, Those stories are the ones that don't have spoiler alerts and we burst at the seams to tell. And we feel safe sharing them with those that we love. We can even get so overzealous that we share too much, so excited for that human reaction and the potential of a perfect real life tale. Something that happened to you, something real that is as flawless as the stories we pay 10 to 200 dollars to see. That is what we yearn for and when our imperfections force us to fail we want to escape into a fabrication where it is safe.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Superman is lame. Guess what is going to happen in the next movie. Kryptonite is going to disable him and then he will save the day and everyone will live happily ever after. Thats great, we are in a recession and so we need to be cheered up a little bit. But honestly unless Doomsday comes into the picture and kills Superman I will be disappointed. I never feel any danger with him. Name something he can't do. Braniac holding Krypton hostage could be good. Superman turning evil would be great, I mean Superman III had Superman fighting himself! What a crappy movie, but that was awesome. Lets have some real danger. I trust Nolan but if he is going to revive the franchise, some shit is going to have to go down. Movie 1: We learn about all of the other alien races, Doomsday kills CK and then the credits role during his funeral. Movie 2: Steel, Cyborg, Superboy, and The Eradicator show up. Earth goes to hell. Superman comes back. Movie 3: He cleans up the mess and doesn't turn the world around to change time. (Donner was the man but not anymore) Only after all of this can everyone live happily ever after. There is a script for this already. It's called Source Material.

Between Movie 2 and 3 lets have the Justice League form. There is a void, and the whole world is no longer being watched over and needs a collection of heroes to save it.

Also where is the movie where He buts on a black suit and goes to find Krypton Destroyed. Maybe he runs into the zookeeper and has to fight his way out. What a great way to set up the Starros.

I liked Superman Returns. One of the main complaints about it is that there wasn't enough action. Well there was a lot. The problem is that there was no fighting (well other than when Kumar kicked him when he was down).  My biggest complaint is that Superman had a fruit rollup for a cape.

Routh did a good job, Spacey was awesome. It was a terrific homage to the first movies, a great continuation. What we needed was a new movie. I already know about his origin, we don't need to see that again. Lets bring the aliens into it because there is nothing else to do that we haven't seen already. George Reeves saved cats and helped find stolen pies. Now he is picking up continents and throwing them into space. We need a villain that is on par with him. Luthor in an exoskeleton doesn't count.

This issue was dealt with when Superman split into red and blue lighting things. He was mortal for a while and that was compelling. But otherwise it was weird. Lets have more of the relatable humanity. By the way, floating outside a lake house looking longingly at a family you want but are too nice a guy to screw over Cyclops, doesn't count.*

Batman rises above his mortality to do what has to be done. Superman is born with he ability to save the world because his adopted parents were good decent people. Batman is always in danger and Superman is only in danger when green rocks are close by. We want to see something that inspires hope. Someone who has put work in to make things better and to achieve what they have. Bruce was handed a fortune that sure as hell helped but he could have just hired an army to do it for him.

Superman was an icon and an American Hero during WWII when we all hated Hitler and had victory gardens. Now he is something that we realize that we can't aspire to be him. We want a tangible hero that represents truth justice and The American Way. But our definition of those things has changed. How we go about achieving them has changed. Captain America is perfect for that. He lives buy the same code that Superman does but sometimes he doesn't pull punches, and he died fighting for what he believed in. He was only slightly more super than us. He represented something we might actually be able to achieve.

I am not saying Superman is outdated or obsolete. We still need him but he needs to change for us. We need to see him die again (and when I say we I mean everyone who is unaware that he died to begin with, the masses). Because once he is gone, we will have to band together to make the world better on our own. When that happens he can come back to help us with earthquakes and other unavoidables.

*Marvel DC actor crossovers and repeats will be broached another day. Screw Ryan Reynolds.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Well, I feel like I'm in college writing about this. But I feel like it is necessary. Aristotle wrote The Poetics, in an effort to explain what makes a story, performance etc. worthy and full of quality. Then Shakespeare and his buddies said screw it and did what they wanted. Devices that both of them created are still used today. I am not going to be giving a book report, hopefully, but try and look at how it is applicable today. 

Aristotle suggested that a tragedy consists of six component parts, which are listed here in order from most important to least important: plot, character, thought, diction, melody, and spectacle. He also wrote about comedy as being a different beast. Right now Apatow has helped blur the line again between drama and comedy, things aren't as strict and no one really cares about adhering to proper rules and formats. Picasso, Dali, and Monet also helped along with Vonnegut, Heller, and Dick, Jazz, Rock and Roll, and Hip Hop. No one cares anymore, nor should they about what is right and wrong. Its more about what is good or bad. Or, sad to say what will or will not make money. Thats a whole other thing.

Anyway, Aristotle gave us these things to judge poetry (theatre) by. Lets translate them to film.

Plot - I feel like this is obvious. But that means, a unified beginning middle and end, that is easily understandable and cohesive. Memento does this in reverse and Tarantino does this by separating everything and bringing it together, Richie as well but Kaballah seems to have ruined him. Anyway the point is its, interesting and people can understand it.

Character - He talks about how we should see heros that are better than us, go through some serious shit in order to make us feel pity. They have to be better than us in order for us to care. Then we have anti heroes get popular and everyday peons become main characters. What is important to remember is that they should be relatable, no matter how good or how evil something about them should be appealing to us. We have to care otherwise we wont watch it. Everyone in the world has something relatable about them, a three dimensional character should as well.

Thought - Themes, motifs, what do we walk away from with. He speaks about it being mimetic, which to me translates to suspension of disbelief. Believing that something is true or actually happening. Its hard to learn something from a story we don't believe, a story without consequence.

Diction - Do you understand it?

Melody - This is tricky. He was talking about the rhythm and rhyme scheme of actually poetry. Lets turn it into dialogue and add musical score and editing. Mamet, McDonough, and Sorkin will take care of dialogue. We already spoke about Zimmer, Elfman and Williams to a small degree. Lets add Shore and Howard to the list. But I do want to bring up this new style of score that happened in The Dark Knight, Inception, cop shows, lost, that ambient music which Jason Segal Parodied in Sarah Marshall. Music video editing and Kubrick are on two ends of the spectrum and both awesome. But should be used sparingly. This shaky handheld stuff that ruined the last Bourne movie but made Battlestar awesome is also important. Sound editing is harder to detect because it is subtler and less in your face but those Foley guys deserve a lot of credit.

Spectacle - SFX. Easy. Do we believe them, do they add to and serve the piece as a whole, are they good, etc.? Also composition of the shots. If you hit pause would it be interesting?

I hate rating movies on Netflix. Five stars is too limiting. Can I rate a half star please. Can I have the option to rate 0. I understand why they do it the way they do, but to refine it a little bit I propose a full 100% rating system. I like specifics. Sometimes I watch a movie that is almost perfect 95% rather than 4 or 5 stars. or a crappy movie that I liked a certain performance or only the soundtrack and I want a 10% rating. I mean a 20% difference. Subtle gradations are better sometimes. 

Plot %
Story 10
Screenplay 10
Acting 15
The characters themselves 5
Did it make me think about my life? 5
Did it help me escape and bring me into another world? 5
Did I understand it? Did I buy it?  5 ( but i feel like if you get a 0 here it trumps everything else )
Dialogue 5
Score 5
Sound 5
Editing 5
Practical effects 5
Cinematography 5
Direction as a whole 10

Now I say lets add an extra ten percent. The special jenesequa that separates a great movie from an instant classic. Love.

Did I like the movie? + 10%

Guess what, I didn't much care for Citizen Kane. Its the best movie of all time right? But I don't like it. Am I glad I saw it, yes. Will I see it again? Probably in 10 years. I watch Jurassic Park like twice a year. Ghostbusters has a huge following. Do you remember all those people that saw Titanic? Who sits down and and thinks to themselves, "Golly you know what I am in the mood to watch? Titanic!" The cool people pop in The Princess Bride.  How many people actually saw The Hurt Locker? Avatar was a cultural event. People watch Two and a Half Men, and Arrested Development got cancelled. 

There are plenty of bad movies that people like and plenty of good movies that no one likes. Part of that I guess is marketing.

Southland Tales

We just spoke about my favorite movie of all time. Now lets talk about my least.
Southland Tales. 
This will not be as long as Jurassic Park because I only saw it once. Which might not be fair, maybe I should give it a chance. However, I tried once and I couldn't
I was having problems thinking of a film that i think is worse than and have less respect for, but I couldn't think of one so, here we are. 
I was on a date to see The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (which is brilliant) and a trailer for this came on. Here is what went through my mind: The Rock, Timberlake, Epic Apocalyptic tale, that looks funny. Awesome.
Little did I know that Richard Kelly was the director. Donnie Darko was miserable. But at least it was short. The amount of concepts and ideas that went into Darko and didn't pan out pale in comparison to Southland Tales
With a huge cast of A-D list stars one would think that they would be able to take a nonsensical script out of the fire and into something resembling coherence. But alas, seeing as how Kelly was unsure of how to direct* it seems that no one was really ever sure of what movie they were in.  I felt as though it took me a week to watch this and I still am waiting for a conclusion. What a waste. 

The big theme of the movie is from a TS Eliot Poem, in reverse. TS wrote "the world ends not with a bang but with a whimper." Kelly writes "that the world ends not with a whimper but with a bang." See what he did there. It's funny because I am still waiting for his bang. This seems to happen a lot, Many of the lines feel like things I have heard before or make an allusion to something else but I can't place it, and there are hundreds of them. The characters are hard to follow. And by that I don't understand who or what they are, in terms of there status position, clothing, names, mannerisms, idiosyncrasies. I remember one scene with Wood Harris. I feel like there was a chicken suit, and a cake, guns, and prosthetics, two to three other actors in the scene, lots of yelling and then someone got shot accidently...? I liked that scene.

As I am rereading this, I feel like all I am doing is complaining and not giving an adequate review or idea of what is going on in my brain. Here is what I would like to see in a movie.

A good story/plot - storytelling from a directing standpoint I feel goes hand in hand with that
Good Acting - In the context of the movie as a whole helps

Honestly thats really it. I mean there are some things that i enjoy more than others but in general I feel like I should simply be able to know what is going on, be interested in it, and believe that it is happening. 

Lets make those the three most important things to any kind of story telling.

Me caring about everything that is happening helps.

What happens when you take one of those away? Two? Three?
What if they were never there to begin with?
What if someone gets so bogged down with personal details and little pretentious messages and completely disregards the audience as a whole?

I want to say masturbation but there has to be a better way to describe it because sometimes people like  watching that. But even then there is some idea of a cohesive story and performance involved.

I don't want anyone to fail, so I am a little hopeful that The Box is going to be better, because it was written by someone else and seems to have only one plot line. But until someone gives it a favorable review I won't see it.

*I realize that IMDB is not always reliable but I buy it.

Jurassic Park

The first and biggest issue I have and have had for the past 17 years is that Jurassic Park is not considered the greatest movie of all time on any list but mine own.

First we will briefly speak about the novel by Michael Crichton, and the screenplay adaptation. Move onto the film's technical achievements and then the film's creative and aesthetic aspects. I think I'll finish by talking about why I love it.

Michael Crichton has written some groundbreaking stuff in his day. May he rest in piece. I consider his work to be the pinnacle of science fiction. The emphasis on the science makes the fiction all the more believable. Arthur C. Clark and Isaac Asimov defined the genre however, when I read their work I think of fantasy. Stories in the future that are unattainable to us here in the present. Crichton's work makes me believe, still to this day, that dinosaurs might make a comeback and space bacteria might kill us all, or not.

Jurassic Park is broken down into sections that are defined by Ian Malcom speaking about chaos theory and the sense of foreboding that goes along with it. This is a distraction and hard to grasp for a 9 year old wanting to read about dinosaurs, however even when I first held the book in my hands it all became clear, halfway through the novel. When I reread it I have the exact same experience. A series of small vignettes explaining history of everyone involved, small to minor characters, as well as all of the science and politics involved in creating the story that takes place in three days on an Island. These are extremely complex ideas - cloning, chaos theory, the politics of running a company and the corporate intrigue that goes along with it, evolution, migratory patterns, animal behavior, computer processing, and dinosaurs - and he helps me understand and comprehend every single aspect of it.* Also, the novel begins with rumors of El Chupacabra. 

In adapting the novel to a screenplay someone decided that throwing 75% of all of that work out would be a good idea. Then they decided to compress all of that into a few scenes, one of which includes a talking cartoon strand of DNA during something thats kind of like a ride.

What a great plan. After using those same vignettes for a few select expository scenes, which are extremely quotable, and not only give you an idea of exactly what is going on but provide a huge sense of the danger, adventure and excitement which will soon be coming, we begin the real story and get on with it. We see our first dinosaurs and experience the joy the characters are feeling at actually seeing these beasts in real life. Who as a child did not love dinosaurs? And not since Harryhausen was anyone capable of suspending disbelief that long. This will be a great segue so in closing, Crichton and David Koepp, butchered the novel and created a perfect adaptation that is a perfect ADAPTATION for a film, that leaves in everything important and wonderful and is not lacking of the original novel's brilliance. The book is not better than the film simply different.

Back to the segue. Astonishment and wonder. Sam Neil and Laura Dern's reactions help sell the special effects and we buy into the device one hundred percent from then on. However, the performances would be over the top, if the special effects weren't spot on. THe blending of CGI and Puppetry creates a perfect mix of beauty and awe. The fear comes later. It makes me wonder why in work that is being produced today, by much of the same people i.e. the prequels and Crystal Skull we have effects that take us out of the action. Is it acting, story, directing, or simply the use of puppets that make me feel like these creatures actually exist? Maybe I just love dinosaurs.

Back to the opening scenes. I think these best describe how I feel about Spielberg and how he sets up his shots. The composition, the use of light and movement, the angles and pacing of these scenes are beautiful interesting and help me ease into a world that does not exist to the point that I believe everything.

The most negative thing I am going to say is that all of John Williams themes sound the same. Superman, Indy, Star Wars etc. can perfectly meld into one another and are a little bland. Out of context. In context, they are perfect, they overshadow the action for about 7 seconds in each movie and only then it heightens the emotion beyond all recognition. Also, Elfman and Zimmer are in the same boat. Jurassic Park's score stands alone in terms of it's beauty and emotion and fear. he is a genius and this is my favorite overall score of his. Not my favorite theme but throughout the entire movie I think it is consistently the best. No note seems out of place and I never feel like there is background music happening.

I feel like Spielberg not only spends a great deal of post production story boarding and planning, but also casting. If I was going to direct a crazy visually driven action movie about dinosaurs eating everyone and want to be taking seriously, I would need some great actors wouldn't I. Every actor fits smoothly into their role and is believable as who they are, no big name, and no persona bigger than who they are, overshadows the acting. Sublimation is the best word I can think of to describe the entire cast. Name one week link. I mean really, Samuel L. Jackson, one of the biggest personalities in Hollywood, plays a small computer technician and his first line is heard over a loudspeaker, and he allows the other names to steal the show. Attenborough, one of the best and worst directors of all time, is charming endearing and powerful as John Hammond. Every time, i meet someone named John I have to quote, "Hello John, Hello John, Oh Hello John." Goldblum = awesome. And Sam Neil and Laura Dern created such a casual comfortable relationship with one another where you know in a second everything that they hold dear and you truly believe that they are capable of surviving. It's as if Alan Grant is a grand nephew of Indy. Bob Peck as Muldoon, to me feels like R. Lee Ermey. Someone playing who they actually are. Finally words cannot describe Wayne Knight. Everyone found humor and high stakes in every page of the script

All of these are reasons that this movie is perfect. But why do I love it? I love Jurassic Park because I feel like a kid again whenever I watch it. I love Dinosaurs and for 129 minutes they are real. I am transported to a world of wonder and imagination, horror mixed with joy. And also because everything in the Park's gift shop was available for purchase at Target. Yes, everything.

*See Christopher Nolan's INCEPTION for a more recent example of complex ideas and stories being told by an expert.