31 May 2010

Second Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Trailer


Don't judge too much from the tagline toward the end of the trailer. At this point Scott Pilgrim vs. the World seems like Spaced on steroids (I only wish Simon Pegg could have been involved).

My Favorite Scenes: Se7en (1995)


It is only when John Doe explains his work that we see how truly slick the slide into madness can be. And to director David Fincher's credit he never feels the need to make it all better for us in the end.

28 May 2010

New Screencap from Inception


This will be the last screencap/news story/etc. that will be posted for Inception. I do not want to risk ruining the film for others and myself.

10 Years of 'Fight Club'

It's been eleven years since David Fincher's Fight Club hit theatres. The initial critical reaction was tepid to say in the least, no one wanted to stand up and commend what Roger Ebert called, "macho-porn." It was deemed too stupid to be an effective satire and today it is one of the most celebrated cult films ever. However, in the past eleven years, it has also been adopted as the fratboy film of choice for getting drunk, reminiscing about high-school, getting drunk some more and so on. It's time to take the film back.

The beauty of Fight Club was that it wasn't just about men turning one another to bloody pulp, but that it was a social satire of the mass consumerism that was the 1990's.

For a duration of the 90's many people were defined only by their purchases. How is anyone to know who you are unless they can easily identify you by your Nike shoes, IKEA furniture, Rolex watch and Porsche Boxster, etc. Society has become so mundane and machine-like that the only rush that can be obtained is through buying that one last item that will make your life whole.




Arguably Edward Norton's most famous and finest performance, The Narrator is instantly recognizable. He's the guy who sleepwalks through company briefings, falls asleep at the desk, and forwards dirty lemrick e-mails for no other reason than to piss off the manager. He is the man Beck wrote of in his hit song "Loser", "I'm a Loser baby so why don't you kill me?" Nothing really matters except for the meetings he attends to feel anything at all. Whether it be testicular cancer survivers, terminal illness, tuberculosis, any of these groups will do for The Narrator's need to just feel something. It is not until The Narrator meets Tyler Durden that the doldrums start to clear. It is not until we accept pain, death and leave the excess materials behind that a truly human existence can be had.

Fight Club was born.

The odd thing about Fight Club backlash was that the film's implied support for anarchism was met with such anger and shock by moviegoers that the film did poorly at the box-office. Today, elected officials call daily for the dismantling of government and populist rule. What a difference time makes.

What's interesting about the casting of Fight Club is that Brad Pitt and Edward Norton were not the producer's first choices. In the alternate universe where producers are the primary decision makers you would have Fight Club starring Sean Penn and Russel Crowe.

Not nearly as interesting is it? Sean Penn, while a great actor, would've felt the need to turn The Narrator into a dark character study where he was really just a lazy office drone who killed time destroying Jared Leto's face. While Russell Crowe is definitely an intimidating presence to be sure, he is not Tyler Durden. The whole purpose of Tyler Durden's character was that he represented the slippery slope of manipulation. His enigmatic leadership was the sole reason why so many disaffected, drifting males were able to come together under this new club.

Brad Pitt could easily play that part because he is that guy. The good looking, intelligent, smoothster that we all like to imagine others think of us as. That is what makes the transformation Tyler undergoes at the end of the film so devastating. That is what underscores the extremism that Fincher is warning us all of. Project Mayhem was not something that was meant to be idolized, it was dangerous and a sign of the misfortune of being seduced by ideology. Unfortunately, the message was lost in the street fighting clubs started after the film took off on college campuses.

The film concludes perfectly with a destruction sequence shot by cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth scored to The Pixies "Where is My Mind". The Narrator's crisis finally collapses in on itself, but he is better off for it as his true nature is revealed.

Se7en may very well be the better film of David Fincher's filmography, but Fight Club is the biting dark comedy that showed we still need our asses kicked every once in a while to remind us of who we are.

24 May 2010

Freedom.

None of these men are hiding behind governments, an army brigade, they are not protecting freedom. They simply want the otherside dead. Bill the Butcher (another excellent portrayal by Daniel Day-Lewis) would rather see his life ended than a world where Irishmen, African-Americans and "Natives" share a country.

21 May 2010

Like the Music from the Inception Trailer?

<a href="http://music.zackhemsey.com/track/mind-heist">Mind Heist by Zack Hemsey</a>

The song Mind Heist is featured extensively in the third Inception trailer. Bet you thought it was from Hans Zimmer didn't you? Turns out it's not. It's from musician Zach Hemsey.


Review: Holy Rollers

Sam Gold (Jesse Eisenberg) is a young Hasidic Jew eagerly awaiting his set marriage. Unfortunately her family does not consent to the proposal and Sam deems it's because of the money. The Gold family works in fabrics and Sam is employed along with his father dealing with hagglers day in and day out. Their apartment gets more cramped by the day and luxuries are hard to come by, but they have each other.

That family bond is soon pushed by Sam. Family, friends, religion, all of these "little" things get in the way of Sam's ability to bring in money. Sam realizes that his father's business is modest, but money makes life easier and he wants a good life. Set marriages are fine, but he has his eye on the finer things and more attractive women.

No matter what people think of you, they respect the money. I see a lot of parallels to Michael in The Godfather actually, the initial naivete, the instinctive grab for power once the foot is in the threshold, down to the manipulation of other innocents for private gain.

With the help of his next door neighbor Yosef (Doug Bartha), Sam gets into importing medicine for an associate of Yosef's. Soon it is discovered that he is actually bringing ecstasy into the country. The stakes are huge if things go awry, the reward however are quite lucrative.

2010 is proving to be Jesse Eisenberg break out year. Good things are coming later with The Social Network due in October, but this is another fine performance to put on his resume.

Doug Bartha is given something different to work with in Holy Rollers. We know right off the bat that there is something shady about Yosef, but it isn't until later we find out what. Thankfully, this is appreciably uncharacteristic of Bartha's frequent buttoned-down, good guy roles in National Treasure series and The Hangover.

The film falters in its tempo however. It lags when immediately following a scene that raises the stakes and the continuance of slow scenes is frustrating. We know what inevitably follows, it is based on a true story, but the film's pacing shouldn't have to suffer for it.

Despite the unusual players in a story about the appeal of the drug lifestyle, the aftermath, feuds and paranoia are all the same. Holy Rollers doesn't venture far away enough from the standard tropes of the genre.

**/****

18 May 2010

Review: The Trotsky (***1/2)


It's been a great year for Jay Baruchel. He set out starring in the entertaining comedy She's Out of My League. He then took the reins in the CGI action-thriller How To Train Your Dragon.

And now, he stars as a teenager who believes himself to be the reincarnation of Leon Trotsky in The Trotsky. Baruchel has repeatedly taken on and excelled in interesting comedic roles over the past few years, and he continues to show this talent in his latest outing.

As Leon Trotsky (the second, perhaps) Baruchel is a charming ideologue; he is always as eager to delve into philosophical arguments as he is to lead a picket line. Leon is a firm believer in democratic socialism, and opposes the communism of the totalitarian Stalin regime.

The film is an intriguing examination of its central theme, whether youth are apathetic about politics, or just bored about life in general. Screen veteran Colm Feore plays against the young Trotsky as a prototypical "The Man," who is confident in his knowledge that the youth don't care about the machinations of power which affect their daily lives.

The film is simultaneously rousing and hilarious, and is very apropos after the youth uprising that helped propel Barack Obama to the presidency.

13 May 2010

The Vault: Serenity (2005)

"Now think real hard. You been bird-doggin' this township awhile now. They wouldn't mind a corpse of you. Now, you can luxuriate in a nice jail cell, but if your hand touches metal, I swear by my pretty floral bonnet, I will end you."

And with that line my infatuation with Firefly began. The Joss Whedon series ran for only fourteen episodes, of which only eleven aired - thanks again FOX - but the devotion of Firefly fandom brought the series back to the big screen.

The spaceship Serenity, headed by Captain Malcolm Reynolds, is still on the run from the Alliance (imagine the world's largest corporate merger between China and the United States, with big guns), but this time Inara (Morena Baccarin) and Shepherd Book (Ron Glass) are gone. It's not necessary to watch Firefly to enjoy Serenity although the overall experience is much richer if you have. Malcolm Reynolds, played by Nathan Fillion, is perhaps the most entertaining, yet perplexing, character I've seen in a long while.

Equal parts charming and cunning, Mal can crack wise with you and then gun you down in the flash of an eye. After losing the battle of Serenity Valley Mal decided to cut ties with Earth and take his life into his own hands, regardless of what the Alliance deems fitting. A former sergeant in the Independents army with a relaxed sense of moral code now Mal just strove to get by. It is not until The Operative (Chiwitel Ejiofor) comes after his own Mal rediscovers his self-destructive nature in trying to keep things just. 

Serenity is a sci-fi western hybrid that takes a closer look at the psyche of a losing side of war. With the Alliance running the entire world individuality has nowhere to go. Down, but not out, Mal, his next in command Zoe (Gina Torres), her husband  and ace funnyman-pilot Wash (Alan Tudyk), hot head gun for hire Jayne (Adam Baldwin), and mechanic Kaylee (Jewel Staite) race around the 'verse pulling off jobs no other crew could imagine. The only unfamiliar face in the cast belongs to Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays an assassin with a moral code similar to Anton Chiguhr. He does not care who River is, why the Alliance wants her, or why Mal & Co. are protecting her. But he will kill whoever gets in his way.

Serenity doesn't waste time jolting off immediately with a Michael Mann-esque heist sequence. This is no ordinary robbery as there is no cash or merchandise to be had, only breaking out River (Summer Glau). River, a recent addition to Serenity, after having her mind tampered with by the Alliance seeks only to get back to her old life with her brother Simon (Sean Maher). Writer/director Joss Whedon does not conform to the traditional t.v. to movie standards, expect the unexpected. Beloved characters might not make it through this adventure.

Now I know what you're thinking: if this a continuation of a t.v. show-to-film the special effects are going to resemble something from a direct-to-dvd movie. Well you're wrong. That problem is non-existent in Serenity. Fire fights, battle sequences, and set pieces look straight from Industrial Lights and Magic. I love films that create their own universes; sci-fi actioners with ingenuity are a rarity and Serenity has it in spades.

10 May 2010

Final Inception Trailer

08 May 2010

Review: Iron Man 2

There’s always something worth watching in a character, whom in his means of turning to good only succeeds in making things far worse than ever imagined. Like The Dark Knight and Spider-man 2 the plight of Iron Man 2 is escalation. In the six months following the aftermath of Tony Stark's (Robert Downey Jr.) revelation that he is Iron Man, there is an unprecedented peace across the planet. With a nuclear deterrent ready to go at a minute's notice the Stark legacy may finally be remembered for peace and, with the resurrection of Stark Expo, a better planet.

Legacy is an important part of any man's life in Tony's case - as a former arms dealer - it is especially important. Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) provides an unique take on a villain that is essentially a mirror of Tony. Both men had fathers who were pioneers of science, unfortunately, only Tony used his gift for good. Sons have always been burdened with the task of becoming more than their fathers, when you're father is extraordinary, or a criminal, this task becomes more arduous.

Ivan Vanko and Justin Hammer represent everything Tony could have resorted to, thankfully, even in the time of personal distress, he dons the suit in pursuit of making this world a better place than he found it. But when confronted by Whiplash during the Monaco race sequence Tony is momentarily caught off guard and, "if you can make God bleed, people will cease to believe in Him," the world is coming for Tony and he cannot be the Shane of global peace.

As for the toys in the new film two words: suitcase armor. It has been featured  extensively in the trailers, but it plays out best in the theatre. Like the first film the suit's aesthetic stays practical instead of going for Spider-man 3 level CGI mess. I wish the rest of the Monaco race scene could have done the same.

Robert Downey Jr. is finally receiving the All-Star status his talent so richly deserved. Downey could have simply coasted playing off his natural charisma, yet envelopes the character in a moral complexity not found often in comic book films.

What ultimately brings down Iron Man 2 is that the story hits its peak at the Monaco racetrack. A goodie vs. baddie fight at the end doesn't make up the lack of drama in between.

Mickey Rourke is actually very good in his role of Ivan Vanko. After the trailer I was expecting campy Russian eccentricity, but his performance was instead a level, functional mirror for Tony. Unlike Iron Man a solid opponent is available for the climactic battle at the end. However, Sam Rockwell's portrayal of Justin Hammer came from Kevin Spacey's Lex Luthor school of villainy. Don Cheadle is kind of an interloper during Iron Man 2. He and Gwyneth Paltrow are involved in the story but both just seem to react to Tony than make the story move along.

The first real summer blockbuster of the season is here. Remember, stay after the credits.

**1/2 out of ****

06 May 2010

Plot Mapper



Check out this cool Plot Mapping Device. Above you'll notice a demonstration of its abilities based on the off-the-wall 1981 comedy So Fine.

The tool provides an interesting means of plot visualization. By graphing the character's relations by means of their proximity, the exegete can glean added insight into the machinations of the film. Most intriguing!

05 May 2010

'The American' Trailer


An arthouse thriller with George Clooney? Wonder how this will do with the general public?

04 May 2010

Bridges as Cogburn in True Grit


With Bridges seemingly not in possession of an eyepatch, or a duster I imagine this adaptation will look very different. If this doesn't have you convinced there's the notion of Carter Burwell scoring the film with Protestant hymns:
 “We both had the same idea at the same time: Protestant hymns.” The composer went on to explain that the lead character, Mattie Ross (to be played by Hailee Steinfeld) was so convinced of her own righteousness that they all thought Protestant hymns would be a fine way to play with her misplaced rectitude."
(via: /Film)

03 May 2010

Lightcar?


Yahoo released another Tron Legacy billboard today and it looks like Lightcars will be making an appearance in the film.The marketing for Tron has gone really well considering I don't think many people cared about this film past two months ago.

'Buried' Trailer