Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Things I should start caring about.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/27/movies/creating-a-sensitive-zombie-in-warm-bodies.html?ref=movies&_r=0

Not the movie so much, although I am interested in seeing it, but makeup. 

I have never truly sat down and appreciated the effect makeup can have on a film.  I frequently find myself writing it off as merely an adaptation of what has been done before.  For instance, I just assumed that once people created the stereotypical look of a zombie (rotting, slack jawed, dead eyed faces) that every other makeup artist just did what they could to recreate that look with a few minor touches.  It never really seemed that complicated.  I appreciated that it was a difficult task, but this was their job, and people who are good at their jobs can often do difficult things easily. 

Nowadays I'm starting to think more on the idea that a movie with bad makeup is a bad movie.  If something doesn't look natural in the setting of the film it will constantly keep viewers from truly immersing themselves in the world, regardless if it's a realistic world or a world with a Great Pit of Carkoon in it. 

While the previews for Warm Bodies didn't stick out to me, it was clear that one important focus of the film was the gradual increase in humanity, and this seemed to be greatly reflected by the makeup.  Therefore, if the makeup is bad one of the major plot points of the film will be difficult to believe or get emotionally involved in.  Now I'm interested in seeing the film purely based on how the makeup looks as the movie progresses.  I have never experienced that before, but I'm excited about it.  Expanding my focus as an audience member.  Cool beans.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

"The Queen of Versailles" Review


The Beauty of Being Uncomfortable
A review of “The Queen of Versailles”
Aidan Brawn


            “The Queen of Versailles” follows the family of Jackie and David Siegel, the founder of Westgate resorts and their “riches to rags” experience during the recent economic depression.  Directed by Lauren Greenfield, the film masterfully captures an incredible fall from grace and will be on viewers’ minds long after the credits roll. 
            At the beginning of the film the Siegels are constructing the largest family home in the United States, a monstrous house that has been modeled after and named for the Palace of Versailles, in France.  Throughout the film the family is faced with major cutbacks to their extravagant lifestyle as the company suffers due to the economic decline, beginning with the Wall Street collapse in September of 2008. 
            Witnessing the Siegels’ misfortunes is an incredibly uncomfortable experience.  The film perfectly captures the feelings of watching a car wreck, combining pity and disgust with a morbid curiosity that forces viewers to observe wide-eyed through the entire debacle. 
            It is impossible to ever truly pity the family, as their wealth is so incomparable and their lives so strange that an average individual cannot relate to the Siegels even once they’ve lost their money and can only afford two nannies instead of twenty housekeepers. 
            However, this strange dehumanization of the family by their wealth is a remarkable phenomenon to witness and one of the most compelling aspects of the film.  The blend of emotions felt, though uncomfortable and confusing, is a unique experience that everyone should go through. 
            Rarely does a film transfer smoothly from amazing to physically repulsive and back but “The Queen of Versailles” certainly does.  The frequent shots of dog feces lying around the house showcasing the family’s inability to maintain their own lives are contrasted by the beautiful Versailles house, Rolls Royce and incredible dinner party spreads.  
            If there is a flaw in the film, it comes in the form of the subject matter.  At times the actions and statements of the people onscreen are too shocking to forgive and nothing can be unseen or unheard.  Their situation doesn’t deserve sympathy and yet we are almost tricked into giving it.  The only redeeming personal qualities of the film are in the nannies, who demonstrate true compassion and selflessness in their work.  “The Queen of Versailles” inspires, disgusts, shocks and entrances brilliantly, as much of a masterpiece as the house it is named for. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Oh snap!

J.J. Abrams for Star Wars?

Still trying to figure out how I feel about it, loved Star Trek and Super 8.  I guess I think it's going to be a good thing.  There's honestly nowhere to go but up in my eyes since the new trilogy came out and stunk the place up.  But as Kanye put it, "No one man should have all that power." 

Star Wars and Star Trek?  What if they end up being painfully similar? What if they just aren't very good and it makes me hate his other movies retroactively because I'm bitter about him ruining Star Wars?  Also, do my strong feelings on the subject make me a sci-fi nerd?  Oh who am I kidding I was already. 

I guess I should look at the bright side.  Director uses the incredible range of special effects at his disposal very well, and that's something that's important in the Star Wars universe.  The major flaws in the new Star Wars trilogy mostly came down to acting and script, at least in my eyes, so hopefully this Disneyfied continuance will not have those flaws.  Guess the best thing is just to keep my fingers crossed and not let it affect my excitement for "Into Darkness."  Sherlock's in everything now and I love it.  

Do other people have opinions on this? 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Great new "This Is SportsCenter" commercial.  Welcome back, Hockey.

Link

Edited Review


Getting Out of the Shadow:
A Review of “The Hobbit”
by Aidan Brawn


            In “The Hobbit”, a homebody Hobbit named Bilbo is chosen to be the final companion in a troupe of dwarves and a wizard in a quest to reclaim the home of the dwarves from the clutches of a fierce and wicked dragon.  But the most difficult aspect of the quest may come before the movie even begins. 

            Director Peter Jackson’s return to Middle Earth is having difficulty escaping the legacy of his incredibly successful trilogy, “The Lord of the Rings” (LOTR), whose final film won Best Picture and cemented itself as possibly one of the most important fantasy films of all time.  “The Hobbit” has been faced with a difficult question: Where do you go from the top? 

            When following such great success, anything less than an equal or greater performance is often considered a failure, and there are several ways that Jackson’s latest is a weaker film than any of the trilogy. 

            The story is plainly less compelling.  Once the companions depart from the Shire, the point of origin for “The Hobbit,” action sequences flow into one another with roughly the grace of Niagara Falls.  Trolls lead to goblins that lead to massive stone giants that lead back to more goblins.  It’s exhausting.

            While LOTR created memorable characters out of every single member of the fellowship, “The Hobbit” cannot boast such lasting performances. 

            Outside of Martin Freeman’s Bilbo, Andy Serkis’ digitally astonishing Gollum, and Sir Ian McKellen’s Gandalf, viewers will be hard-pressed to even identify which characters were on screen at any given point. 

            However, while in some areas “The Hobbit” clearly falls short of its predecessors, it succeeds in many others.  The film is downright fun, and that is all it tried and needed to be.  Freeman’s dialogue is perfect, and while unending, the action is exciting and creative, with less hack and slash than the earlier films. 
           
            Once again the visuals are incredible, with spectacular scenery and special effects combining to sweep the viewers to Middle Earth with ease, both in the iconic Shire and the scarier places of the world. 
           
            Most importantly, the film isn’t trying to be the fourth film in the series.  It has succeeded in being its own story, with a memorable lead in Freeman, a lighter tone and enough action to make viewers forget endless scenes of Frodo trudging through Mordor with a horrifically constipated look on his face. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Movie Review: The Hobbit


           Director Peter Jackson’s latest film has had difficulty escaping the legacy of his incredibly successful trilogy, “The Lord of the Rings.”  “The Return of the King” won Best Picture and cemented itself as possibly one of the most important fantasy films of all time.  So “The Hobbit” has been faced with a difficult question: Where do you go from the top?  One of the most difficult aspects of the position “The Hobbit” was in is that often when following success, anything less than an equal or greater performance is considered a failure.  There are a few ways that Jackson’s latest was truly a weaker film than any of the trilogy.  The story is plainly less compelling.  Once the film and the companions depart from the Shire, the point of origin for both “The Hobbit” and the first of the trilogy, “The Fellowship of the Ring,” action sequences flow into one another with roughly the grace of Niagara Falls, and while the trilogy clearly created memorable characters out of every single member of the fellowship, “The Hobbit” cannot boast such lasting performances.  Outside of Martin Freeman’s Bilbo, Andy Serkis’ digitally astonishing Gollum, and Lord of the Rings veteran Sir Ian McKellen’s Gandalf, viewers will be hard-pressed to even identify which characters were on screen at any given point.  

             However, while in some areas “The Hobbit” clearly falls short of its predecessors, it succeeds in many others.  Jackson and his compatriots are tasked with the incredibly difficult job of turning a fairly short novel into yet another trilogy, and yet they managed to incorporate story that is not present in the novel itself fairly well.  In fact, they used the inclusion of a particularly peculiar wizard to comedic effect, suiting the lighter tone of the novel compared to that of the trilogy.  Once again the visuals of the film are incredible, with spectacular scenery and special effects combining to sweep the viewers to Middle Earth with relative ease.  Most importantly, the film isn’t trying to be the fourth film in the series.  It has succeeded in being its own film, with a memorable lead in Freeman, a lighter tone and enough action to make viewers forget endless scenes of Frodo’s bare feet trudging through Mordor with a horrifically constipated look on his face.  The film is downright fun, and that is all it tried and needed to be. 
Ben and I's NYT Defense

Article


            Brooks Barnes has been a media reviewer for 5 years with the New York Times, mostly focusing on financial and legal issues within the film industry, as well as focusing on the Walt Disney Company. Recently, he wrote a piece centered on Oscar winning director Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”) and her controversial new film, “Zero Dark Thirty.” The movie “Zero Dark Thirty” takes place primarily in Pakistan and is about the United States' hunt for Osama Bin-Laden. The film focuses on an incredibly controversial topic and has gained mixed attention due to its depiction of torture as an interrogation technique.  However, after a brief overview of the film and its primary female role, Mr. Barnes quickly changes directions.  This change occurs near the midway point of the article, and never truly looks back on the content of the film.  It is clear that Barnes was trying to give readers a glimpse into the mind of the director as an individual, somewhat independent of the film. 

            A large portion of the review is derived from an interview with Ms. Bigelow and her screenwriter, Mark Boal.  Using both his experiences during the interview and quotes from Ms. Bigelow’s friends, coworkers and acquaintances, Barnes paints the picture of a humble, driven and likeable woman, citing her generous nature as well as her adamancy that the success of the film is due to the brilliance of her coworkers.  He makes a point of contrasting Ms. Bigelow with the other “masters of the universe” saying that directors are typically “me, me, me.”  Ms. Bigelow’s personality seems like an interesting and refreshing focus, considering all the other attention “Zero Dark Thirty” has received. In fact, the review acknowledges the controversial torture scene with little to no opinion, and drops the topic almost immediately.   

            It is clear that the greatest evidence for Barnes’ assessment of Ms. Bigelow’s character comes from his own personal interactions with her.  His honest impressions of her come through in his writing, and they are entirely positive.  Not only does this article give a refreshing take on the film and the industry itself, it also allows the reader to make a more informed assessment about the film and its controversial nature, with the knowledge of the director’s relentlessly hard working and modest nature, and that is why it is important during the most critical time of year in terms of film.