Thursday, December 24, 2009
Public Enemies - I'd seen this in the theatres. It's typical Michael Mann. The musical score sounds like he pulled it straight out of Last of the Mohicans. There's some intense gunfights. And for the most part it looks pretty. It was shot in several different formats, all Sony cameras, ranging from the F35 all the way down to the EX3. And while using the little EX3's allows him to do things with the camera he couldn't otherwise do, and it lends a sense of immediacy to some scenes, and it allows him to shoot in some really low light situations, the shift can be jarring. Its not so bad on Blu-ray. It was alot worse in theatres when the image was blown up. Now only a few shots look grainy as shit. All in all a pretty good film, even if it gets really cliche in parts. Not Mann's best, but not his worst.
Star Trek vs Star Trek - In the past two weeks I've finally seen both Star Trek films. I watched JJ Abrams crowd pleasing romp first, and then a few days ago watched the original motion picture, something I'd only seen in short bursts up until now. My thoughts? The only Star Trek I really got into was Next Generation. I was never a big Trekkie. Jonathan Frakes made terrible films. But the one thins I liked was that Star Trek was more straight up sci-fi as opposed to Star Wars, which was all about high adventure and massive battles. Star Trek was more concerned with deeper philosophical arguements, and by the time Next Generation hit, authenticity about how things in the Star Trek universe would work. The original film, with all its carbon units, was pretty damn great. Sure the special effects don't stand up, but everything else was everything I expected and more. It had deeper philosophical meaning behind it, and allowed itself to take its time. It didn't try to wow you with its visuals, although some of the more psychadelic 2001-esque visuals are still breathtaking. Abrams on the other hand wanted to get bums in seats, and make a films that was somewhere between the original motion picture and Star Wars. It is entertaining, but nothing more. It doesn't make you think. I don't think I'll ever watch it again. But then again, I ain't an Abrams fan. So if they are to do battle in deep space, I will but my money on Shatner.
Terminator Salvation - The Terminator series should have ended after T2. T3 sucked balls. And this new incarnation, while action packed, is a vapid mess. I love me some giant robots. And that was almost enough to cover up the massive plot holes, but once the film was over, I found myself asking numerous questions. Why is the resistance comprised of 3 men that live in a submarine? How did Marcus survive a massive blast at the beginning of the film unscathed? (Yes, he could have survived, but he would have been sans skin.) If it was so easy for the chopper to enter Skynet to get John Connor out, why did they never mount an assault, because there was absolutely no defenses. If John Connor exists, wouldn't he know that he is successful in sending back Kyle Reese (Adam at work pointed that out before I saw the film). Is it possible to do a heart transplant in the middle of the desert with very little technological resources? They do very little to sort out all the time travel convolution. In fact, they do very little to move the story along, save some big explosions. It is a colossal mess. Which is sad, because I put my money on this over Abrams Star Trek, and I lost. At least he had the brains to use timetravel wisely.
Watch this. Funniest KO ever!
Monday, December 21, 2009
Vengeance - I'd heard mixed films about the film, but it's Johnnie To, and when does he make a bad gangster film? Well, apparently never. I absolutely loved it. His attempt to seek both the usual Johnnie To fans and a broader international audience may not have the end result they were seeking, but his take on vengeance is pretty stunning. Its almost a companion piece to Exiled, using Macao as a backdrop, playing out almost like a western, and having some of the same Johnnie To stock of actors playing almost the exact same roles. The shootouts are breathtaking. The script is surprisingly refreshing. Honour amoung hitmen, an aging gangster who's losing his memory due to a bullet lodged in his skull. Its almost like a heroic bloodshed film, without the melodrama. And no one creates gun splatter like Johnnie To.
Le Tueur - It's almost like a planned this, but I didn't. Going from an almost classic re-imagning on the hired gun film with Vengeance to the genre-bending anti-hired gun film Le Tueur was pure syncronicity. Cedric Angers feature length debut is the opposite of everything a film like this should be. Its quiet, its intimate and its in no hurry to get where its going. Kopas arrives in Paris with one thing on his mind. To kill a man named Leo. Then the games begin. A cat and mouse game that isn't really a cat and mouse game. A car chase that isn't really a car chase. Leo knows someone is after him, and his paranoia grows, until he does the unthinkable. He confronts his killer, and not only does he talk to him, but he embraces him. And its this embrace that helps break down the walls of the cold, distant killer Kopas, bringing life to his otherwise miserable existance. This is a film about a hitman like no other, because its really not a film about a hitman at all.In the Line of Duty 4 - After the disappointing Cung Le fight Saturday night via Strikeforce, I needed to prepare myself for his upcoming appearance in Bodyguards and Assassins. To do this, a searched through the Donnie Yen archives and pulled out one of my favourites, In the Line of Duty 4. More of a Cynthia Khan vehicle than a Donnie Yen film, it still manages to showcase both actors stellar martial arts talents. Plus, it has Donnie Yen's buddy John Salvitti who helped him with the MMA action in Flashpoint, as well as another Yen regular Michael Woods. Plus, its directed by Yuen Woo-ping, so its most definetly filled with some amazing stunt work and fight choreography. It's obvious that during this time Yen was coming into his own, and assembling his crack team of fighters that he would use to great effect in his more recent efforts. All I have to say is, whatever happened to Cynthia Khan, because man that girl could kick some ass!
Monday, December 14, 2009
David Bordwell makes me smile.
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
I wish I could just sleep. I try. But they won't let me. They yell. They scream. They grab me and shake me and scream "Wake up you lazy fuck, this is no time to sleep. This is the time to act. Now get in there trooper and show us what you're made of." But I don't. I can't. I'm so tired. My body won't function. It needs sleep to function. Without sleep, I become useless. A useless robot. I can't function. But they won't let me sleep. They want me to act, they want me to show them what I'm made of.
But what if I'm made of shit, of garbage, or refuse. My brain is mush. My body is inanimate. It remains motionless. Its shutting down. First my feet, then my legs, then my chest and my arms and finally my head.
Not my head! As long as my head still functions, I can see, I can breathe, I can smell and hear and taste. And above all I can think. But without my head, I am nothing. A useless pile of matter. A waste of mitochondria, of cytoplasm, of nuclei. If I can shutdown separate parts of my body at different times, maybe then I can get a variation of sleep. Semi-sleep. Half-sleep. Instead of this anti-sleep. Why won't they let me sleep. My cells are shutting down, performing seppuku. They can't take it, so why should I? At least then they could be used for something worthy, like a cow or a pig.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
'Take it', I tell you. 'Wipe off your face, you look ridiculous', but instead of taking it and thanking me, you spit on me, spit on my face. I slam my hands down on the table. My fingers wrap around its ends and shake it violently. You scream, but I scream louder, wilder, madder. I throw the table across the room, jumping to my feet.
'Fuck you bitch! You will respect me. You will love me. I'll make you love me.' You scream, but no one can hear you. Your incessant screaming starts to give me a headache, so I tape your mouth shut.
'How do you like that?' I ask. I drag you across the room by your hair, still leaving you tied to the chair. You moan, your cries muffled. I throw you in your box and close the lid. Maybe a few hours alone, in the dark, in the silence of your own existence will make you love me. And if not, maybe a little persuasion will be needed. But rest assure, by the end of the week, you will love me.
Monday, November 02, 2009
Paranormal Activity: Lots and lots of hype. My feeling is that if the previews didn't tell you this was the scariest movie ever made, then no one would have been scared. Yes, there were a few tense moments towards the end, but what tension it did create was ruined by a poor script and bad acting. Films need character development. Not a couple having the exact same arguement every 10 minutes, being intercut with them in bed. How many times did Katie tell Micah the camera was a bad idea, and how many times did he reply, "I'll take care of it" and march down the hall taunting the demon? Far, far too many times. Plus, they two biggest chills in the film were shown in the trailers. If Spielbergs cronies hadn't orgasmed all over this film, no one would have ever seen it. They tried desperately to make a cult phenomemon, to make the next Blair Witch, but I imagine in 10 years, no one will remember this film. The other thing that really pisses me off with this film is they try to convince everyone it was made for $15,000. Yes, originally it was. Until Dreamworks got a hold of it and then re-shot the ending and a few other small moments, re-mixed the audio and re-edited the film before finally releasing it.
The Haunting of Conneticut: Watching this film reminded me of watching Paranormal Activity. Some great chills and scary moments, and some good building of tension, again ruined by a terrible script. This time, an overly melodramatic and cliched script. I laughted during the 'searching for hope' montage in which Virgina Madsen lays in bed, clutching to her pillow, praying, and her husband is getting drunk, rocking out on his guitar, until he smashes the speaker and then his shelves. Where the hell did this rock guitar come from? And lest not forget the part when the dad listens to an audio tape made by the haunted cancer son Matthew. What teenage boy records an audio tape for his dad in which he tells him he loves him and what he's been up to. Were the creators of this film really that stupid? I guess so. And what the hell was up with the detective cousin, that really does nothing for most of the film, until she turns into Nancy Drew, accessing the cities archivies to unlock the mystery of the house! If a horror film is to be good, the film as a whole has to be good. It can't be a few good scares surrounded by crap, especially when it takes itself so damn seriously.
The Midnight Meat Train: Ryuhei Kitamura strikes again in his first Hollywood film. Adapted from Clive Barkers short story of the same name, it turns out to be quite an effective piece of bloody mayhem for Kitamura. He does wonders with the meager budget. Its visually inventive, like most of his films, and damn claustrophobic. It also features some wonderfully creative death sequences, something most horror films seem to be missing these days. Is the film perfect? No. Some of Leon's descent into obsession isn't really motivated, and sometimes the snazzy camera work that Kitamura is known for does border on self-gratification, but as a gory piece of meat, it works quite well. Kitamura shows he definetly has the chops to continue his work in North America.
The Devils Chair: This is the first Adam Mason film I've watched. After the first half hour, I was almost ready to turn it off. The voice over wasn't working for me. Most of it looked like crap. The motivation for Dr. Willard to take Nick West back to the place of his girlfriends death was weak at best. And some of the acting, my god...it was funny the first time Dr. Willard was referred to as Gandalf, but he didn't have to act like him at all times. The last hour of the film though did pick things up a fair bit. What starts out as predictable becomes a mindbending journey into the truth about the chair that sits in the old asylum. The creature SFX are pretty stunning, and the demonic creature that lurks within the chair is really well done, very Lovecraftian. So the film turned out not to be all bad. The voice over still never worked, no matter how unpredicatable the film was. It does get bloody, really, really bloody, but after it ended, I couldn't help but feeling like something was missing. It just didn't hit the mark. But I'll give Adam Mason and Simon Boyes props for attempting to make something very different and unique with incredibly limited means. I will watch Blood River and Broken now that they've got my attention.
Monday, October 26, 2009
I follow Takashi Shimizu with blind devotion. Lucky for me, I also have a Wii, so it seemed a perfect fit that Ju-On: The Grudge Haunted House Simulator was released on my favourite gaming system a scant few weeks ago. With Shimizu overseeing game development, it seemed to be made more in the mold of the Ju-on films, using short chapters, each following a different character, to develop the story. Except it turns out, there is no story. Just death.
The first time I played the game was under harsh circumstances. It was the middle of the day. Several friends were over, none of them really paying attention. They chattered and clucked like little roosters, creating much noise and distraction. The first thing that I immediately noticed is that the game is REALLY slow. You walk at a snails pace, regardless of how much freaky shit goes on, which is kind of funny in a sadistic kind of way. But it quickly became apparent the game isn't to be played when people are mocking it. Like watching any good horror film, you need the zeitgeist. A scary movie doesn't work when people talk and chatter and laugh, constantly breaking the tension and pulling you out of the experience. I knew then, to play Ju-On: The Grudge Haunted House Simulator, you need to play it late at night, with all the lights turned off, with one other person, two tops. Maybe on some mind altering substances. Completely focused in the experience the game creates.
Saturday night, stumbling home from the bar after the some what disappointing Machida vs Shogun fight, in which no one really won, including me the spectator, my French compatriot Nick and I decided to embark upon our first quest into Ju-On: The Grudge Haunted House Simulator .
The first time you play the game, it definitely does get scary at times, maybe even a little freaky. It does a great job of creating tension. It seems that each character you play dies at the end of each level, so its just a matter of time until Kayako pops her pale white head out from behind a corner and swallows your soul.
The bad part of the game comes when you have to play a level a second time, either because you died before you beat it, or just for kicks. All the scares come at the same moments, so nothing is surprising. All tension is lost. That wouldn't be all bad, except you move so frickin' slow, there is absolutely no enjoyment gained from playing a level over again. So basically, its great the first time, but then, a few hours later, it makes a great coaster, or an addition to your ever growing Ju-on collection. But nothing more. Or maybe background art at a party.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Deadgirl: Good premise, ruined by terrible dialogue and trite character motivation, or really no motivation at all. Also didn't really push the envelope at all. I mean, if you're making a film about a zombie sex slave, you should really be trying to do something unconventional, not skirting around the sex and the gore. It would have been better had it been a short film, without that dog that really made no sense and served no purpose, that lived in an abandoned hospital that still for some reason still had electricity. But that's what you get from a guy who writes Troma films.
Gomorrah: Realistic yes, but really dragged 0n, and this docudrama style of filmmaking is really getting to me. Why can't people let the actors do the work, instead of the schizo ADD camera work that people seem to think makes a film appear more 'real'. Still, the film didn't really develop any kind of empathy for any of the characters. I didn't care who lived, who died and who quit there jobs by the end. I was just sort of glad it was over. Still, it was an interesting look at the world of the Naples mafia that I'm really not familiar with, so it was good on a sort of educational level. But as a film, not that great.
Monday, September 07, 2009
Ringu: Call me a j horror fanboy, but Ringu is still one of my favourites. It only took me 9 years to get Rebecca to watch it. Each time I watch it I get more and more out of it. Its a beautiful film, that unfortunately takes a lot of flack for helping to start the now redundant j horror boom.
The Company: A three part mini-series on the history of the CIA during the cold war. Its really a trilogy of three films more or less. I got interested in this film because one, Jason picked up as a blind buy and said it was good, and two, it was playing on the D-21 promo reel at work and looked pretty good. And it is. Chris O'Donnell for once isn't half bad. Micheal Keaton rocks. Its a nice blend of history surrounding a fictitious character, and really well done, besides a few not so well done SFX shots.
Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion: Let's face it, Meiko Kaji is frickin' hot. I have yet to see a film with her in it I didn't like, and Female Prisoner #701 is no different. Omar wanted to watch a movie with nudity in it, so I put this on. Its amazing how the film should be nothing more than an exploitation film, but a combination of Kaji's smoldering looks and ice cold glares and Shunya Ito's often bold and psychedelic cinematic fury helps the film becomes something much more. Its a great piece of cinema.
The Kid with the Golden Arm: I've wanted to see this film for quite sometime. I love Chang Cheh. Its one of the first 'venoms' films, featuring what would become Cheh's group of filmmaking consorts after the iron triangle of David Chiang, Ti Lung and Chang Cheh. It's got all your favourites. Sun Chien, Lo Meng, Philip Kwok, Lu Feng, Chiang Sheng, Wei Pai and Yu Tai Ping. Its not the best Chang Cheh film, and doesn't match the outrageous audacity of Five Deadly Venoms, Crippled Avengers or Five Element Ninjas, but that final battle is pretty amazing. Its more a tale of intrigue, albeit not a very original or clever one, leading to a spectacular showdown between the Kid with the Golden Arm, Iron Feet and Hero Hai To!
Koyaanisqatsi: I very influential film for me. I can put it on anytime of the day and be mesmerized by its beauty. I watched it for inspiration, and it gave me much. Upon watching it this time, I couldn't help but think that the music from the Watchmen was directly inspired by Philip Glass and his music in this film and Mishima, another one of my most favourite films.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
The time is upon me to pour myself into Bluebird. I must be focused. I must clear the ides from my bones. I must be resilient. I must be a ninja.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
A list, compiled by my friend Rob, of all the suitable candidates for me to take to formal during my last year of high school. The list has a legend, listing various pro's and con's for each girl.
All of my movie tickets from high school and university. It was ALOT of tickets. And included everything, from Buckaroo Bonzai at The Specialist, which I saw twice in theatres. Sad I know.
A series of workbooks from grade 4, along with several art projects. One was a pretty kickass picture of a Sabre-tooth Wasp. A very dangerous insect.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Sunday, February 08, 2009
As Bluebird begins to consume my life, I need to find focus. Training will hopefully help guide me along the correct path. My mind wavers, but I must remain steadfast in my resolve.
Callbacks will be soon. The choices ahead are varied. We had a great number of talented women audition for the roles of Kate and Laurie, and very few talented men audition for Chris, Martin and Roger. It's going to be tough filling all those roles. I think we can do it, but if not, we will have to MacGyver up an actor. Always give yourself a choice.
Inspiration this week. Judith Weston, MPD Psycho, Butoh, Krav Maga.
Friday, January 30, 2009
The quest to create a film out of my script for Bluebird begins tomorrow when we start auditions. Very exciting.The film below, Hiroshi Teshigahara's The Face of Another is one inspiration, but Teshigahara is always an inspiration, so its no surprise. He did make my favourite documentary ever after all.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Well, my BMI is up to 25.12. Not very good. But I have slacked off a little, trying to sort things out before I give er'. At least that's what I keep telling myself.
This man has been part of the reason I'm not all over the exercise this week.
My Bloody Valentine had some really great 3-D effects, and some entertaining gore gags, but beyond that, the movie sucked. I'm not sure that they were trying to make a satire of 80's slasher films, but at times it felt like that. I imagine the film will not be anywhere near as entertaining on 2 dimensional DVD. Or Blu-ray.
I love my Blu-ray.
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Like everyone else, I have made some resolutions this year. One is to become more focused on my training. More chi! Train harder! That is the kung fu motto! As part of this, I am trying to use my Wii Fit to become more in shape. So far, I have a BMI of 25, and way about 174 lbs. Not bad, considering I weighed 177 lbs when I graduated from high school, although I'm more flab now than man, twisted and evil. I think I will post my Wii Fit up dates, but probably only when I lose weight.
Another resolution is to watch every Zatoichi movie ever made. Granted, I am still trying to finish last years resolution of reading the Lone Wolf and Cub manga series (I still can't find #21!), but I will finish both. I've watched the first two, and many of them will have reviews posted over at J-Film Pow Wow, but for now, watch the fantastic scene below.
Thursday, January 01, 2009
Kristin Thompson and David Bordwell's blog always makes me laugh, so read it. They feature several things I like. Film history, and Asian cinema. They champion the notion that "movies from Japan and Hong Kong constituted as important a contribution to film aesthetics as did the Soviet Montage movement." Now that is something I can agree with.