31 March 2008

Planet B-Boy (2007)

There's really not much to say about this movie. If you like watching humans do incredible things, then watch it. If, for some reason, movies that are inspiring and full of jaw droppingly crazy dance moves don't appeal to you, then watch this anyway and get hooked. That's really all I have to say here.

It really makes you want to break dance after you watch this movie. Like, really. I believe the film is only in limited release so check the dates for when it's around your area. Check out the trailer here. Can't wait for the DVD to check out all the unedited dances and battles.

23 March 2008

Soul Food

It's hard finding new music to listen to right? I'm still on Pandora's jock but it's nice to look elsewhere right? Apple commercials only come out every few months, after all. Enter Aurgasm, or rather, it's been around since 2004 but I just found out about it.
"Aurgasm specializes in everything not under the American rock umbrella -- music such as: downtempo, folk, nu jazz, chanson, scandinavian, jazz, cuban, brazilian, electro, soul, jump blues, bluegrass, film score, and electronica."
The site's founder, Paul Irish, is out to share "the best music you've never heard." Paul debuted a new embedded mp3 player on the site recently and it's pretty awesome. The playlist functionality makes it really easy to hop around to different songs. I also don't know how Paul makes the page load more posts when you scroll to the bottom, but I sure like it.

In just a few minutes of browsing, I already love Justine Electra, Club des Belugas, Kat Flint, Daphne, Asa, Kira Neris, and a whole bunch more. Ridiculous. I feel like Willy Wonka just invited me in for a tour.

20 March 2008

And the award goes to...

The new Bloggie Awards are up. I usually go straight out and check the "Best Writing, Best New Weblog, Best Kept Secret Weblog, and Best Designed Weblog" categories. I have to say, I'm getting kind of sick of seeing the same blogs nominated (and winning) year after year. I mean, I don't need to know that Engadget is popular. Or that Blogger is the best web application for blogs. Duh. Can we stop awarding sites after they've won once? Wouldn't that be more useful?

Can you imagine if The Godfather kept winning the Best Picture Oscar year after year? Boring. Show me something new please. If anything, lists like the World's Most Powerful 50 Blogs are infinitely more interesting because they give me a chance to find some blogs I've never heard of. Let's revamp the Bloggies and really make cool it cool again instead of just prestigious and entrenched.

15 March 2008

The Bank Job (2008)

Man, isn't Saffron Burrows the coolest name? Of course, I thought "Saffron Burrows" was a male before I saw this movie but I think I had the name confused with authors Jonathan Saffron Foer (Everything Is Illuminated) and Augusten Burroughs (Running With Scissors). More confusingly, we couldn't place her previous film work until we finally looked her up and realized she played Andromache -- Hector's wife -- in Troy. Her distinctive cheeks and facial features rang a bell but we couldn't place her for the life of us.

This is pretty much a run of the mill heist movie supposedly based on a true story. British accents make everything twice as watchable though, so in all, it's not a bad way to use two hours of your life.

Jason Statham is clearly the English version of Bruce Willis and he does his usual charismatic tough guy thing. Is it time to anoint him as a A-List movie star? I mean, at this point he's carried more hit movies than most A-Listers even if all of his roles are exactly the same.

12 March 2008

Stuff I've Been Reading 4

  • none
  • I haven't read a single book in the past month. Which would be alarming except it's been by design. I kind of started "Eat, Pray, Love" but came nowhere close to finishing it. Book club had Zadie Smith's "On Beauty" up on deck, which is something I really want to read, but I skipped it. Mainly I've been consumed with writing, thinking, writing, thinking. I'm in the middle of revising another draft of the book and there's a lot of work to be done.

    Rome wasn't built in a day and writing a book isn't either. I wonder if anyone is capable of whipping out a near perfect first draft. Did you know Good Will Hunting was originally supposed to be much more action orientated? Car chases, government intrigue, the works. Instead, after a few re-conceptions and rewrites, we got the touchy feely version with no action whatsoever. Obviously, the latter proved to be much more effective and endearing.

    The thing I keep trying to remember as I look at all the great and amazing things around me is that it takes multiple tries to perfect something. It gives hope to the common man doesn't it?

    10 March 2008

    Lulu Dark Can See Through Walls (2005)

    "Guys. They were the problem, not me. They're so weird and fickle. It's like, they're all desperate to get with you, but as soon as you act like you might actually be interested, they treat you like some insane, pathetic Ophelia type who's going to send them pig's hearts as Valentine's Day presents."
    -Bennett Madison-

    05 March 2008

    Insight Men

    I've been gorging myself on movie commentaries recently. It's the perfect insomnia aid because you can close your eyes, still visualize the movie, but also get some stimulation while you pass out. Okay, fine, it actually keeps me awake half the night but I'm working on it alright? Some of the time, the commentary is better than the movie -- Spider-Man 3 and The Graduate for example.

    It sure helps to hear what the creators think in any endeavor doesn't it? They should have a commentary track for works of (visual) art. It should be semi-mandatory, like how we have with movies nowadays. So much of art is contextual that it's silly to just look at something without much explanation.

    Anyway, if you want to see an incredibly in-depth and revealing look into what it takes to make a movie, check out the DVD for The Sea Inside. The included behind-the-scenes documentary shows Alejandro Amenabar (The Others) walking us through many of his processes. Amenabar is a youngish fellow and he not only co-wrote the screenplay, directed, edited, and composed much of the film. Yeah, we hate him just on principle.

    But really, the documentary gives you a chance to peer into what a director thinks as he chooses between all the technical and artistic details; especially for a movie as important and tricky as this one. I didn't even like the movie that much -- the slow pacing knocked me out for the middle bit -- but the documentary was amazing.

    Bryan Singer, famed for being the director of the Usual Suspects, and also the man challenged with adapting the X-Men to the big screen, also reveals quite a bit during his commentaries. There's no doubting that Singer was a visionary and a genius the way he handled the transition from comic to movie.

    I, of course, have heaps of extras from the two Singer X-Men movies so I've watched everything at least twice. It takes faith in your abilities to make something that you know will be scrutinized every step of the way. The easy way would have been to concede certain points to fanboys or to execs nervous about playing it safe. Instead, Singer mapped out a direction and stuck with it and created the modern comic book movie.

    For the second installment, Singer also hired two really younger writers to help him pen the script. Seeing as X-Men 2 is the best of the series, it's no small compliment to say that Dan Harris and Michael Dougherty were probably a big part of its success. The two lucky bastards got to be on set all day and think X-things for months on end.

    I've also been watching all movies with sub-titles on because it helps to not miss one bit of dialogue. In addition, I'll get to the end of a movie and then watch the first twenty minutes or so again, to see what I might have missed at the beginning (try this with 21 Grams). You'll be shocked how much you can pick up by doing these two things. I think it's only respectful to the film to give it its full attention when you know every moment is there for a specific reason.

    02 March 2008

    Be Kind Rewind (2008)

    By the time this movie finally came out (I've been waiting months for it), I had shared the trailer with people as many times as I could and convinced them that it would be hilarious and brilliant. With a trailer so good, the movie sold itself. Since it took so long to finally release, there was just a hint of whiplash coming around too. Would the movie be as great as the trailer?

    Let's talk about Michel Gondry first. Certain people love Michel Gondry's work (Human Nature, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep) almost irrespective of what he actually puts on film. He's got a cult following, he can solve a Rubik's Cube with his feet (sort of), and he rose from being a visionary music video director to a director with amazing visuals.

    The main criticism of his movies is that the stories are fantastic and intriguing but often lacks the cohesion and plot to tie everything together. Well, the mere fact that Gondry did one of the most romantic movies I've ever seen, as well as the best concert film I've ever experienced, would endear him to me forever. I'd watch anything he does.

    Especially when he does stuff like "swede" his own Be Kind Rewind trailer. The guy is smart, artistic, funny, and versatile. Who cares where his ideas come from? It's just great that Gondry has the panache and clout to do whatever he wants.

    With that said, Be Kind Rewind was a huge disappointment. I mean, it was set up to be a little bit of a disappointment just by all the hype but it's kind of true when people say "everything's in the trailer." I guess, with a one trick pony, it's hard to extend it past a few minutes into a feature length movie. This is one movie I wish I knew nothing about before viewing but that was impossible. I'd already seen everything prior to going to the theatre.

    It bugged me that I was bored at some parts of the movie. It surprised me that things I expected to laugh at got no reaction from me. Sure, there were lots of little details that made the experience worthwhile (hand piano keys, pizza, fan), but in the end, this is easily "the best worst movie" I've seen in awhile -- and not in the so bad it's good genre.

    Entire sub-plots were wholly useless and unexplained. The whole Fats Waller thing seemed extraneous for example, as did the subsequent father-son dynamic. There was hardly any rhyme or reason to devote any screen time to motivations and storylines, yet Gondry shoehorned in some "how's" and "why's." I guess all that I wanted to see were more fake movies and the "how they did it" type footage.

    It also bothered me that I had to search for a higher meaning in Be Kind Rewind to enjoy most of it. Near the end, I had convinced myself that this was an allegory for the current state of the movie business and a nostalgic clarion call for independent movies. Which it could be I guess, but then again, I haven't read anything alluding to that higher purpose.
    An aside about Mos Def. As an actor, he's starting to annoy the heck out of me. He's been promisingly decent in most of his smaller parts but as soon as he gets a title role, he starts talking incredibly weird. Like ultra-nasally and whiny.

    I've heard Mos talk before and while his voice is a little nasal to begin with, I feel like he's affecting this high pitched whine thing on purpose. I wanted him to get shot in 16 Blocks just so he would shut up. Oh well, Mos is one of the greatest MCs of all time and (white) people like him so I'll let it go.
    In the end, it hurts me to say this but I really can't recommend Be Kind Rewind to friends because you end up walking out disappointed. Maybe, just like Mike and Jerry's versions, the movie would have been better at twenty minutes.

    Oh well, what's next Michel?

    Vantage Point (2008)

    When you movie hop, sometimes you just wander into anything that sounds remotely interesting. Vantage Point had a decent premise and promised to be entertaining right? Well, if you're watching for free, it's hard to complain right? As James quipped to me halfway through, this movie should have been called "29 Minutes."

    While the differing viewpoints are Roshomon-like, it adds nothing to the exposition and in fact, there were so many "let's rewind to the beginning" sequences that the audience was audibly groaning and hooting by the fifth or sixth one. There was really no reason for multiple perspectives except to provide a catchy hook on which to hang a typical action thriller.

    Well, based on that standard, the action is unbelievable and over the top, Forest Whitaker is hilariously overacting, plot twists are easily telegraphed, and the Americans win. What else do you need to know?