January 28, 2008
Rambo vs. the Roller GirlsWhat happens when you go to see the new Rambo movie followed by watching the Charlotte Roller Girls duke it out on the track against the Columbia Quad-squad in the same day?? You have the most Manly day ever! Thats what my day was like yesterday; it was pretty Sweet!
Even though its been twenty years since the last Rambo film, this Rambo (IMDb) (trailer on apple) somehow kicks more a$$ than ever before. Staring (of course!) and directed by John Rambo himself (Stallone) (and co-written as well); its a 90-minute perfectly executed punch to your face. When Rambo is not disemboweling bad-guys with his hand-forged huge combat knife, or using a mounted machine gun to rip apart entire platoons of bad-guys, he's well ... minding his boat, or wrangling snakes, because what else is there for Rambo to do? If you go to see this film, you'll get just exactly what you should have expected to pay for: A film not encumbered by any sense of a complicated plot, with no reason for the enemy soldiers to behave the way they do. It's as simple as you could expect. And very shortly into the film you're immersed into the fray -- It gets bloody and stays bloody to the violent conclusion. When Rambo grabs the leader of the missionary group by the neck (who has cast a cold shoulder to Rambo presumably out of fear or resentment of Rambo's rugged exterior) to get his point across, its almost like he's grabbing a caricature of politically correct modern cinema by the neck and saying: Leave me (and my old-school action film style) alone. And he's right: Rambo is simple, and its fine that way. Its a short, to the point, excellent homage to the classic action films of the 70s/80s.
A word of caution: This is by far the most violent of the series, with more blood in this film than in all previous First Bloods combined. Human-beings are more like balloons filled with blood, splattering in all directions on screen. If thats not enough, theres other forms of cruelty and savage violence and rape aplenty in Rambo; so it might not be the best rite-of-passage to take your twelve-year old son (or daughter) to; although I saw lots of dads with their kids (mostly sons) going to see this R-rated film. My guess is that on the way home many of these father/son pairs had conversations about what not to tell their mothers about when they got home.
So, after that brutality on screen, I went to see Roller Derby girls battling each other at the Charlotte Roller Girls' first home game. If you think you might enjoy seeing ladies racing on roller skates wearing retro style clothes while duking it out and competing according to a point-system that is nearly impossible to make sense of, then you'll probably really enjoy going to a Roller-Derby event. This was the Charlotte Roller Girls first home game, and even though they lost, it was a pretty close game, and they played really well; at least it seemed so, I really couldn't make any sense of how points were awarded. But that didn't matter so much as just cheering when ever someone caused the other team to tumble or if they passed the other team to become the "lead jammer". The only negative aspect to the whole thing was the terrible Elvis impersonator between periods in the game. But there was a certain special magic to the whole spectacle. I was pretty impressed by the skater “Rosey Cheeks” as although she was smaller than the other girls and took some pretty hard falls she kept jumping right back into the action. “Ducky Long Stockings” was also pretty good. It was really impressive and odd in a strangely appealing way.
January 24, 2008
2008 films ... a list
It looks like it will be an interesting year for movies...This weekend alone I had the opportunity to see There Will Be Blood (IMDb) (trailer), a Mexican horror film called El Orfanato (The Orphanage) (IMDb) - which was far creepier than I expected, Charley Wilson's War (IMDb), and finally after months of anticipation, the massive monster movie Cloverfield (IMDb). I, for the most part, was pleased with each of them. But I'll have more to say about these particular films later...
So here's a first look at some of the movies coming out in 2008 (and thereafter), not exactly in chronological order (for a chronological list see the movie calendar below)
First of all, there are two movies coming out in 2008 that I'm most excited about; they are: The Dark Knight, and Speed Racer.
The first film I'm revved up about in '08 is Speed Racer (MAY.2.2008) (IMDb) (trailer), directed by the Wachowski Brothers, who have considerable experience creating visual masterpieces. The original Matrix is one of my favorite films; unfortunately I was a little underwhelmed by the sequels. But that might not be fair; it would be hard for anyone to match the ambition of the original, and they certainly stood out in contrast to a lot of other Sci-fi films. But V for Vendetta restored my faith in the brother's ability to combine an inspiring story with fantastic visuals and (as usual) stunning martial arts. So we'll wait and see, but it looks like Speed will impress.
The Dark Knight (JUL.18.2008) (IMDb) (trailer) is the sequel to 2005's Batman Begins (IMDb). Like 'Begins', 'Knight' is directed by Christopher Nolan, this time with screenplay-writing assistance from his younger brother Jonathan Nolan, who has also co-written with Chirstopher for their breakout film Momento (IMDb), and 2006's excellent The Prestige (IMDb). A lot of acting talent came together for 'Begins. Christian Bale is a perfect choice to play the man in black. And Begins had a fantastic supporting cast: Gary Oldman as Officer (someday to become Commissioner) Gordon, Michail Cain as Alfred, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox (the batmobile's mechanic/CEO of Wayne enterprises); they all reprise their roles in Knight. Maggie Gyllenhaal is taking over for Katie Holmes (probably because Batman doesn't believe in Scientology) but that's fine with me because I thought Holmes' role was weak in Begins. (Note: My main disappointment with the casting in Begins was using Ken Watanabe, who has amazing acting ability (The Last Samari, Letter From Iwo Jima), as a mere pawn.) The Nolan brothers have reignited the Batman franchise; I have high hopes for The Dark Knight. The trailer looks great! Its very sad to hear of the passing of Heath Ledger who played The Joker in this film. If he is to be replaced for any future sequels, that will be a difficult task.
Side note: Turns out that Jonathan Nolan also has writing credits for a Sci-fi film called Intersteller (IMDb), to be directed by Stephen Spielberg, due out sometime time in 2009. This is just a speculation/hunch but I think the story of this film might be related to The Dig - a concept created by Spielberg and George Lucas in the 90s that they intended to make into a movie, but ended up becoming a video game created by Lucas Arts, and later adapted into a novel. The basic plot of that game involved astronauts investigating a mysterious asteroid close to earth and finding a wormhole that transports them to another place in the universe.
As of late, comic-character-themed movies seem to be a popular in Hollywood. Some of them I have thought were really decent (V for Vendetta, Batman Begins (and The Dark Knight I hope), X-Men 1 and 2, Spider-Man 1 and 2, and so on ... but there have been several that left something to be desired. My suspiscion is that Iron Man (MAY.2.2008) (IMDb) will fall into the latter of the two categories. It just seems odd to me that Jon Favreau, the director of Swingers and Made, has shifted his attention to a comic-themed film. But who knows? Robert Downey Jr. suited for the role of Tony Stark; and if its true that Favreau's a big fan of Kevin Smith, then it seems reasonable that he has a valid interest in the genre/
This coming Friday – 2 days away - (1-25-2008) the forth installment in the Rambo (IMDb) series comes to the big screen. I remember seeing some leaked footage in early '07, and I had to look a couple times at the footage to be sure it wasn't from a previous Rambo film. Stallone looks ridiculously jacked; so its no surprise he got busted by Australia and had to pay a significant fine for possession of human growth hormone. The trailer makes it look as if this Rambo will live up to previous franchise installments when it comes to gratuitous violence and explosions.
It seems odd that twenty years after the most recent sequel (twenty-sex years after the original) Rambo gets an official follow-up, but also a bizzare parody of the original called Son of Rambow (MAY.2.2008) (IMDb), about two british kids obsessed with the original and who've decided to recreate it in their backyard. Its getting pretty good reviews.
Michel Gondry's Be Kind Rewind comes out February the 22nd (IMDb) (trailer). The story goes: Jack Black plays a guy who inadvertently erases all the tapes at a local video store and he and his friend, played by Mos Def, together recreate the films themselves (such as The Lion King, and Robocop). That concept with Gondry's amazing talent for creating naturally unuual visual with elaborate props costumes and camera trickery means I can't see how this can go wrong.
After almost twenty years there is a forth Indiana Jones film on the way (MAY.22.2008) (IMDb). Not only is there no indication that John Rhys-Davis will reprise his role as Sallah, it doesn't appear that Sean Connery has a role in this film, so I can't understand the logic of making it. Connery with Ford added a very interesting dynamic to the third Jones film that gave it a ; kind of like what Samuel Jackson did for the third Die Hard film. Its interesting; in Live Free Of Die Hard, Willis' character John McClain has a new younger reluctant partner played by Justin Long, which similarly seems to be what is happening in the next Indiana Jones film with Shia LeBeouf's character replacing Connery as Indiana's reluctant dad. My prediction is that this forth installment in the Jones franchise will fail in following its predecessor in a similar way as did Live Free of Die Hard.
The Happening (JUN.6.2008) (IMDb), the latest film by M. Night Shayamalan, stars Mark Walberg and Zooey Deschanel (who was great in Elf (IMDb), and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (IMDb)). I've read a few message boards that seem to indicate that its about a family trying to escape a massive natural disaster caused by a reaction of plants to the pollution created by humans. Hopefully M. Night still has the magic he had when he crafted The Sixth Sense, and Umbreakable (and even Signs to an extent), but recent films by him have felt rushed, incomplete - lacking the same thrill as their predecessors.
There is also an as of yet untitled X-Files sequel in pre-production (JUL.25.2008) (IMDb). I was a little surprised to stumble across this title online. The last X-Files movie was in 1998, and the show concluded in 2002. But I guess five years isn't too long for a sequel; especially considering Rambo is coming back after two decades alone in the jungle, as is Indiana Jones who's looking much older these days. I was never a huge X-files fan, but I think I'll have to take a look at this.
Coming sometime in 2008...
Diary of the Dead (IMDb) - The forth official sequel to Night of the Living Dead (IMDb), this time from the perspective of some films students encountering actual zombies while filming a horror film. Its not clear if its even getting a wide-release. Limited release (FEB.22.2008)
Enders Game (IMDb) – uncertain still in pre-production. Actors are uncertain, but this will be directed by Wolfgang Peterson (who has also directed: The Never-Ending Story (IMDb), Troy (IMDb), and Enemy Mine (IMDb), to name a few). About a year ago someone recommended I read Ender's Game, a book I had missed when I was younger, and I took their advice and read what I now consider one of my favorite science-fiction novels. This, if done well, will be amazing!
One of the most exciting things to look forward to in '09 will be Zach Schneider's Watchmen (MAR.6.2009) (IMDb). Based on a graphic novel written in the 80s that is about an alternative America where super-heroes exist, but have had to go underground because of government regulation. Schneider's previous work include the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead (IMDb), as well as last year's bloody and visually remarkable 300 (IMDb).
It seems like Taranteno enjoys leaving his mark in all his favorite film genres: He's done Film Noir/Crime Caper (Pulp Fiction (IMDb), Reservoir Dogs (IMDb)), and Kung-fu/Grindhouse (Kill Bill (IMDb)). Now it seems he has his lens focused on the war genre with Inglorious Bastards (sometime in 2009) (IMDb) making a dirty-dozen like WWII film about convicted soldiers who have chosen to undertake a dangerous mission instead of facing a firing-squad.
I'm making a calendar (using Google's calendar application) to keep track of upcoming films, check it out ...
January 21, 2008
a band named MuseNot too long ago I discovered Muse, a pretty awesome rock band. This song is bad-a$$. (The video isn't too bad either...)
Also, here's a live performance of Muse playing "Butterflies and Hurricanes". This video a friend showed me is how I discovered just how awesome they are. The piano interlude is ridiculous!
January 16, 2008
1-18-08 ... roundup
I've been making a list of upcoming movies for 2008 that look the most interesting; first in line is Cloverfield, so I thought as its now down to the wire (2 days to go), I'd write a final posting for the 1-18-08 movie phenomena, I've posted on this mysterious film three times before (click here for 1st, 2nd, 3rd).
Its just a couple days away now; So here's What We DO Know...
Title: Come to find out, the title is indeed Cloverfield, which had previously thought to be only a code-name for the film.
Plot: It is definitely about a monster attacking New York as told threw shots from at least one hand held digital camera (or more) (with 35-mm film segments slipped in). In a recent article in the New York Times about Paramount's chairman Brad Grey, it describes Abram's as figuring “[...]he could make the modern-day equivalent of “Godzilla” for $25 million or less, if he hired a bunch of no-name actors, shot much of the movie with a single $1,500 hand-held camera and threw the rest of his cash into special effects.”
Setting: Location is New York City. The events of the movie are set to occur as the movie premiers, 1-18-08; which is indicated by the time shown on the photos available at 1-18-08.com.
As for What We THINK We Know: The creature itself likely comes from the ocean. Evidence to support this includes: the official poster shows a trail under the water between the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan, the actual roar of the creature (see the BLOOP Theory), and actual clues found in several of the viral marketing sites that were created for promoting the film.
The BLOOP theory: the nature of the 'roar' heard in the preview actually matches closely that of an actual moan from an underwater creature that was recorded by US Navy researchers in 1997. According to those researchers, the source of that moan would have to have been something living and much bigger than any known creature due to strength of the roar at that depth.
As for the viral marketing evidence, read below in the list of websites relating to the film, specifically the mentions of Slusho.jp and Tagruato.jp. Also, fairly recently a video was released mimicking an actual news report of a ocean oil rig owned by the fictional Tagruato Corp. being mysteriously destroyed. It seems to be being pulled down from below.
here's a list of websites relating to the film:
This site coinsided with the release of the first surprise teaser at the wide-release of Transformers back in July (at this time, the movie production was only about a week old; the trailer was filmed before the rest of the film). It offers little, except some floating photos taken the night of the party during which the Cloverfield movie takes place (the same time as it's wide release). As time as gone by, more photos have been added, including some very recently that appear to be of military ships and planes engaged in serious combat.
Also immediately coinciding with the release of the first surprise teaser was the fictitious Japanese beverage company's website: Slusho.jp. The Slusho logo is shown in the trailer in the main character's shirt. But how is it related to the film? The Slusho site (unlike the 1-18-08 site) is extremely elaborate; full of quirky flash animations.
In fact, if you look around the Slusho site you'll find a bunch of clues about the nature of the “monster” that is attacking the city--like these I found while looking around the Happy Talk section. One statement reads: “Am I a Whale?” Might I presume that this statement implies the creature comes from the ocean? Another statement reads: “Can I have a Slusho T-shirt size XXXL?” Can I presume this statement is implying that the creature is massive? Well, I think so for both counts.
If you look closely enough on the Slusho.jp site (specifically, the Distribution Opportunities page) you'll see that Slusho is a fictitious subsidiary of it's fictitious parent company Tagruto (Website: Tagruto.jp). Tagruto's stated principle business is deep sea drilling, which gives credit to the idea that the monster in Cloverfield is from the ocean, and is
Still another website was discovered even more recently; a fake activist organization against Tagruato by the name of TIDO Wave. So its possible that the actions of either of these fake organizations lead to rousing the mysterious creature in the movie.
Of course, all of this viral marketing, from the Slusho shirt in the trailer to the fake TIDO Wave organization website could be an extremely elaborate ruse to distract fans from the actual creature that attacks in the movie.
There are also various Myspace pages for the principle characters of the film, which have been updated to add to the anticipation of film's release.
The most significant finding related to the Myspace pages was a personal site for two of the film's characters Jamie and Teddy, a seemingly personal site where videos are created by Jamie for Teddy who is away on business. You have to find the password to access the videos. And while everything seemed to be going well for these two, and some speculated that this site actually had nothing to do with Cloverfield's viral marketing at all, but a recent video seemed to say otherwise...in the latest video (the ninth), the cryptic responce from Jamie (who does not believe Teddy's claim that he's in trouble) states that she's seeing things much clearer now thanks to the 'stuff' sent from Teddy. Could this stuff be related to Slusho??
This official promotional website isn't really part of the viral marketing campaign, but once the hype for the movie had extended to a more mainstream audience, and just in time for the 2007 holidays, two new trailers were shown, extending what we already knew about the movie, several new TV-spots and at least one radio spot was released, apparently some huge posters have been seen on buildings in NYC promoting the film, and now there's an official promotional website for the film: cloverfieldmovie.com. Things seemed to be quickly revving up in a more traditional marketing approach.
Official sites NOT directly related to the film:
The second site I ever visited relating to the 1-18-08 movie phenomenon when I was searching for clues was Bad Robot's official site (badrobot.com); after all, aside from the date, and JJ Abrams name, the Bad Robot logo was all I remembered accompanying the very intriguing trailer. So far, the site has had nothing more than the static Bad Robot logo.
The Third Floor
The Third Floor is a company that did the previsualizations for cloverfield. Its mentioned in the company notes section in vague terms such as “After being tapped by JJ Abrams’ production company [bad robot] to work on the super-secret “Cloverfield” trailer, (as seen in front of Transformers); The Third Floor delivered previs for the entire feature – coming soon (01-18-08?) to a theatre near you! ” and “The Third Floor is thrilled to announce that our artists have been requested for JJ Abrams’ newest directorial project.” The Third Floor has also worked on Lord of the Rings, The Star Wars Prequels, resident evil 5, to name a few, so we can likely expect some amazing visuals for this film!
Unofficial sites relating to the film:
They certainly know who they're dealing with. Our first glimps of the Cloverfield phenomena was a surprise trailer that caught everybody off guard, shown before Transformers, where a bunch of unsuspecting (and lets be honest) nerds (myself included) were eager to see Transformers. Thats a smart way to target their audience, but I wonder if they had any idea just how effective their viral marketing strategy would be???
The most remarkable thing about this movie (I think) is the cult following that has sprang up following it. One of my favorite sites is 1-18-08news.com. The Forums there have been my preferred way to stay up on information relating to the film. Users there were able to confirm a detailed description of the new teaser trailers weeks before they were released.
There is also 1-18-08truth.com (which has a really nice flash-into parody of 1-18-08.com)
Well, Cloverfield has created an enormous cult following of fans for a movie even before its released and despite that they know next to nothing about the film beforehand. This is a completely opposite approach from the traditional Hollywood trend and so far its proven quite successful. This is what I find most interesting of all. Might this be a sign of things to come?
it really is genius, targeting nerds by setting the film to take place simultaneously as its released (which is unprecedented)and teasing them with shreds of carefully hidden information, causing them to become obsessed with a film. Who wouldn't be there at opening night??? I think very likely this will be a huge box-office success for Paramount, but I'll be surprised if the actual film lives up to the massive hype that has preceded it.
January 15, 2008
100 Blog Posts
Hmmm, this is my 100th Blog Post!
It's already half way through January. This year is already starting to fly by. Yesterday I helped a friend of mine cut a tree down.
I've been looking at some of the upcomming movies on IMDb's Coming Soon section; it looks like its going to be an interesting year for films. So pretty soon I'll going to post a list of the most interesting movies coming out.
In the meantime, here are a couple interesting YouTube videos worth checking out...
This I heard about on a recent episode of net@night
This I heard about on Public Radio's Weekend America
January 1, 2008
Best Movies of 2007
Wow, it's 2008 already. Thats hard to believe. I guess I'll commemorate the new year with a look back at last years movies. Heres my TOP TEN (plus a few) favorite films from 2007:
#1) No Country For Old Men
#2) Lars, and the Real Girl
#3) The Lives of Others*
#4) Rescue Dawn
#5) Letters From Iwo Jima*
#6) Micheal Clayton
#7) Pan's Labyrinth*
#8) Half Nelsen*
#9) The Bourne Ultimatum
#11) 3:10 to Yuma
#12) Children of Men
*some of these films came out in 2006, but I didn't have a chance to see them until '07, so I'm counting them with this years, and why not??
Without a doubt, my favorite film of last year was No Country For Old Men (IMDb). It had freaking awesome cinematography, with such a gripping story – a morality tale of sorts, told as a modern day western, depicted with vast dusty sunny southwestern vistas. With a dark unbeatable un-understandable villain, up against an introspective hero. Perhaps one of the best movies in cinematic history (now I have to read the book!).
My second favorite film from last year was Lars And The Real Girl (IMDb). It was such a quirky concept for a film, and it succeeded in showing and making you feel compassion for mental illness (like a beautiful mind, but with offbeat comedy instead of suspenseful drama). The Lives of Others/Das Leben der Anderen (IMDb)(actually a film from 2006 but it didn't come to theaters here until this year) captures what life in East Germany was life in a very emotionally charged historical fiction. Rescue Dawn (IMDb) was a realistic look at the true story of Lt. Deiter Deingler who was shot down during a covert mission prior to the U.S.'s involvement in the Vietnam War. The realisim is probably aided by the fact that Rescue Dawn is written and directed by Werner Herzog, based on the documentary Herzog had made about Deiter's experiences. Letters From Iwo Jima (IMDb), also about war, is the companion film to Clint Eastwood's earlier WWII film Flags of Our Fathers (IMDb) (also a great film). Where Flags takes the perspective of the three survirors of that famous photo taken of the soldiers raising the flag at Iwo Jima, Letters follows the point of view of several of the soldiers fighting on the Japanese side of the battle of Iwo Jima. The film shows the brutality of war in such an honest way, and the honor and the cruelty on both sides of the battle.
In a summer of disapointing third installments for film trilogys (Spiderman 3, Shrek 3, Pirates of the Carabean 3, etc.) The Bourne Supremacy (IMDb) did the opposite– it was easily the best of the series. Screenwriter Tony Gilroy had huge success with the Bourne Trilogy of movies, the third of which came out this summer (and in my opinion possibly the greatest action film of all time). However, it was perhaps due to the success of the Bourne films that Gilroy earned his credit to debut as a director of Micheal Clayton (IMDb), wich he's worked on while developing credibility with the Bourne series. Micheal Clayton has all of the intensity of the Bourne films without needing the action sequences.
Pan's labrinth (IMDb) (from 2006) is a grizy mature fantasy in a a vein similar to Legend (IMDb), or Labyrinth (IMDb), except being a foreign production, it didn't have to sway to Hollywood tradition; instead its a much darker and violent final product.
Half Nelsen (IMDb) (Another film from 2006, that I saw in '07, so I count it amoung '07s best; and starring Ryan Gosling of Lars And The Real Girl) was also brutal in the honest way it depicts addiction to drugs, denial, and the way poverty often affects urban communities. Shareeka Epps is amazing as the student who rescues her teacher, and helps him cope with his illness. The film is really in a way a metaphor for the concept Mr. Dunne is teaching his class about tipping points in history. In this case, in Dunne's personal life, the film is leading up to the point where he must confront his addiction.
3 more films really caught my attetion this year: Wristcutters (IMDb) as a quirky dark comedy. 3:10 To Yuma (IMDb) as a surprisingly good western with respect to the classics of its genre. And Children of Men (2006) (IMDb) as a beautifully shot tale of what happens if humans become unfertile, and societies crumble.
Read Last years: