March 27, 2007

Oh My Goodness, How Did I Forget?

Last Friday, Erik dragged me to the movies to see the film 300. Wow! I thought it was really, really good. The choreography of the fight sequences was so artistic - brilliantly done. I know it's getting torn for having mediocre writing, but the effect of the film, overall, far outshines any problems with the dialogue.

Everyone brought their A-game to this film, and I highly suggest seeing it in theatres.

posted at 02:43 PM

March 08, 2007

Reduced Waiting Time

How on earth is the DVD for Children of Men being released in March?!? It was just released in theatres at the end of December! That's three months from theatre to home video - usually a quick turnaround that's bestowed on only the poorest of box office performers, and this master work deserves far better treatment. I guess I could just walk down the hall and ask the manager who handles the home video department here and ask her what's up, but I have this condition which prevents me from doing so - a condition commonly referred to as "the laziness".

Of course I want the Children of Men DVD as soon as I can get my hands on it - the film blew me away. But part of me is hoping that it will get some sort of additional special treatment - maybe a 2-disc special edition? And a Criterion Collection edition would be wonderful. They haven't been releasing enough modern-day films for my taste anyways. Ah well. Maybe this will convince me to invest in a flat-panel HDTV sooner than I thought I would... nope. Gonna have to wait. I'll just watch it on Erik's Apple 23" HD Cinema Display. :P

posted at 03:24 PM

January 04, 2007

Spending Money Makes Me Feel Good About Myself

After spending a dreadful hour and a half in traffic slogging back to Simi from Universal City, I stopped at the local Borders Bookstore (heh, "books") to return a duplicate DVD gift and purchase a replacement with the return credit. I had little idea what I really wanted (because nearly everything I wanted I received at xmas), so I meandered back towards the DVD section.

I cruised the Comedy section briefly, and then really got down to hunting once I hit Drama. By Mystery and Science Fiction/Fantasy I had amassed a handful of DVDs that, at this point, I was only thinking of purchasing. Then I saw that ever-powerful marketing tool - the sale sign. "Buy 3 DVDs or CDs and get the 4th for Free!" Fancy that! I already had 3 DVDs picked out, now I get another one... for free!

I ended up scoring four DVDs for under $50, which I thought was a pretty good deal, and those I got were ones I've had my eyes on for awhile, but was never particularly motivated to buy:

Gods and Monsters
Starring Ian McKellen as a reclusive, gay 50's horror-movie director who is enchanted with his gardener, Brendan Fraser. Good performances all around.
Central Station
I bought this on VHS many years back. I was so moved by the story of a lonely middle-aged Brazilian woman who reluctantly takes in an orphan boy. This movie makes me weep and weep.
Match Point
I didn't think I'd think much of this Woody Allen film, but it totally sucked me in. It was unexpected and extremely fun to watch.
The Motorcycle Diaries
I purchased this to share the experience of this film with Erik. The sweeping landscape photography highlighted in this film chronicling a vast road trip taken by a youthful Che Guevara will look breathtaking once I get a big HDTV!

Upon making my purchases, I scurried back to my MINI and immediately phoned Erik, so giddy about my new DVDs. He was conspicuously unimpressed, and I was as chatty as an embarrassingly-precocious five-year-old bragging about her first day of kindergarten. A fantastic match for conversation!

So now, instead of watching these DVDs that I've been ruminating slobbering over, I'm posting a silly blog entry, fuddling around with tables and image sizes and links, and, you know what? It's just not so exciting anymore.... No, just kidding, it is - but I don't think I'll be watching any of them now. I can't believe it - I've been composing and editing this post for over an hour, what's wrong with me?!?

posted at 09:21 PM

November 10, 2006

Stranger Than Delusion

I'd imagine that most of you by now have seen the trailers for the new film Stranger Than Fiction. It's a comedy about an IRS employee, Harold Crick (Will Ferrell), who one day begins to be plagued by the voice of a female narrator of his life as-it-happens, who comically, only he can hear. Turns out the voice is that of a novelist (Emma Thompson) who is writing a novel with the Will Ferrell character as her protagonist, and it's her plan to kill him off at the end of the book. So the movie appears to be spent with the unlucky IRS auditor trying to contact and convince the novelist NOT to kill him. Follow me?

Last night, while watching Dustin Hoffman (who's cast as a lit professor) plug the film on The Daily Show, a fun idea for a DVD bonus feature popped into my head. I haven't seen the film myself, but I can already imagine how it might play out - including the instrumental soundtrack. I'm imagining it has several comedically-paced tracks, especially while Harold is "receiving" the narration. I'm sure you can all imagine what I'm talking about.

Anyways, I think it would be an interesting exercise to see the film "re-imagined" as a tragic tale of a deeply-troubled man. We've seen this recently with re-imagined movie trailers, most-notably the trailer for The Shining, that turns it from a frightful horror of a secluded lodge that turns a husband into a pyschopathic killer, to a heartwarming father-son bonding movie. For Stranger Than Fiction, this could easily be done with a few simple measures: 1) Removal of the novelist narration, 2) a Cut-down to only the scenes involving Will Ferrell, 3) Replacement of the upbeat comic soundtrack with melancholic string music, and impactful silence for certain scenes.

I think the result would be a really revealing, perhaps even torturous-at-times film exposing the troubles of someone suffering with delusional schizophrenia. I think Will Ferrell's performance would translate well. And, most importantly, I think, in thematic contrast to the original feature, it would be quite funny. So for any DVD execs over at Sony, consider this a recommendation for the DVD release.

posted at 08:56 AM

March 09, 2005

cannot. remember. movie!

Okay everyone, I need some help here. I'm trying to figure out the name of a movie I saw when I was just a wee lass. It could have been anytime between 1981 and 1985. The movie plot was based around a team of scientists(?) or some folks who journeyed into a rainforest of some kind and found a baby prehistoric animal (may have been a dinosaur) living in a lake. This was a live-action piece, and I remember that the dinosaur looked so lifelike to me, and also really, really cute.

I thought the film was titled Baby... until I checked IMDB. No dice. So now this is really bothering me! A movie with such a life-like pre-Jurassic Park dinosaur doesn't just vanish into thin air! Please help, I'm begging you!

B000065V3T.01.MZZZZZZZ.jpgFound it! Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend, from 1985. "Paleontologist and her husband discover a mother and baby brontosaurus in Africa, try to protect them from hunters who want to capture them."

Hee hee - it's even available on DVD! I am totally Netflixing this! (Now, if only they'd hurry up and get The Golden Seal on DVD already!!

posted at 11:41 AM

October 24, 2004

"the office" christmas special

The writer of this article clearly has it all wrong about the series-ending finale special for "The Office". The ending was not unnecessary, as the author of the article would have you believe. Any real fan of the original two seasons wanted this finale, needed this finale.

Please do not continue reading if you have not yet seen the finale and are interested in seeing it with fresh eyes (SPOILER ALERT, read on at your own risk)....

There then. On we go. I just finished watching the two-hour special, and was moved to tears. It ties up so many loose ends or dissatisfying feelings brought on at the end of the second season.

David Brent was clearly the gut (as in, source of a gutteral laugh) of the series, and, for me at least, the saga of Tim and Dawn gave the show heart - perhaps a broken heart, but a heart nonetheless. The finale allowed us to really step away from the absurd hilarity of David Brent's lack of charsima, and showed him for what he was: a man in a rut.

Fortunately, the heft of the sadness we feel for him as he drinks himself to sleep at a roadside motel, is banned from his lifeline - his former office, or sits, desperately alone, in a cafe, is relieved by matching him with a willing love interest at the very end. And to perfect the sentiment, we get to hear David tell the asshat Neil to fuck off when he disparages David's very new woman.

And now to Tim and Dawn (sigh) - here's when the tears began flowing: Dawn, leaving the Slough office's Christmas party to return to Florida with her ridiculous fiancé, Lee in a minicab, opens her Secret Santa gift to reveal an oil paint set and a very *special* note from Tim to "never give up" her dreams of becoming a professional illustrator... I just bawled.

The tension between these two has been there since the start of the series, and I found myself repeartedly let down by their inability to just get together already!! What a perfect moment it was, then, when we spot Dawn sneaking back into the party, walking directly to Tim, and planting one on him!! It was beyond sweet. Oh, the tears! My heart swelled for them.


I'm still feeling everything from the show, and probably not articulating my thoughts completely or even coherently, but anyone who has the audacity to write "We needed a sequel to “The Office” as much as we need a sequel to 'Pride and Prejudice'" clearly never was a fan in the first place, and therefore, her opinion means nothing.

posted at 09:59 PM

October 23, 2004

starving artist

There's something to be said about an actor who loses and/or gains weight for a part. Exactly what is to be said is the tricky part. Sure, Tom Hanks was impressive in his metamorphosis from middle-aged average-Joe to scruffy, lean castaway. So what?

I am so over entertainment show hosts lauding Renee Zellwegger on her "heroic" weight gain for the Bridget Jones series ("Renee, isn't it terribly difficult to pack on so much pudge?"). And people still go ga-ga over Robert DeNiro's transformation in Raging Bull as if it were the Second Coming. And Adrian Brody in The Pianist... give that man an Oscar!

I will give these artists the benefit of the doubt - it takes discipline to adhere to a protocol designed to lose the excess weight, or to (gasp!) eat enough Krispey Kremes to appear a slovenly thirty pounds overweight. But come on, if I was being paid well-over six-digits to have my tailor-made meals delivered and my pesky personal trainer urging me onto the treadmill at 6am every morning, before spending the rest of the day shopping for smaller-sized additions to my wardrobe, I don't think it would be so grueling. Do you?

But here's where things get tricky. Christian Bale, my goodness, what have you gone and done to yourself?

click images for larger version

Above are some images of a skeletal Christian Bale, while filming his new movie The Machinist. The film is some sort of psychological thriller, in the vein of Memento, where a man has a year-long bout with insomnia and he's nearing the breaking point, both physically and psychologically. I haven't seen the film yet, so I'm not privy to some of the finer plot points, but something feels morally wrong about Bale's appearance in the film.

To be honest, I haven't quite grasped my real feelings about this. My writing this is in response to a gut reaction to the images available in the film's trailer and behind-the-scenes featurette. The first thought is, of course, "Wow! That's amazing that he got himself to look that emaciated!" But then, after further contemplation, I'm thinking, "What the fuck did he do that for?" Art? He looks like a Holocaust victim. And to what end? The appearance of reality? Bale's appearance would seem to detract from the film. I can't imagine a viewer being able to watch the film without being taken out of it by the recognition of Bale, the actor, looking so skeletal.

I was looking for interviews with the elusive Bale, trying to dig up a real reason for his extremism, and frankly there wasn't much to be found. I did find a quote from one of his co-stars, Jennifer Jason-Leigh, that resonated. She remarked (I'll paraphrase here) that she had to constantly remind herself that Christian had made a conscious decision to dwindle down to this weight - because he looked so sick that she was worried for his life.

The director of the film, Brad Anderson, mentioned that, while in the script Bale's character, Trevor, was described as a "walking skeleton", he and Bale never actually discussed the weight loss. Anderson presumed Christian would be losing maybe twenty or thirty pounds for the role, and that they would dress him up in baggy clothing and basically fake it. But when Bale arrived in Barcelona to begin filming, the director was shocked by his appearance. Christian Bale had dropped 63 pounds, taking him down to around 120 lbs.

I don't know. There are real people dying from starvation right now, and an actor taking himself down to such a disturbing level of emaciation seems, well, rude. It seems like a narcissistic stunt, to me - "Look how disciplined I am, look how dedicated I am to my craft!" But I'm certainly no one to judge, and I would probably view the film if given the opportunity. I'm just sort of ridding myself of the conflicting feelings I have about the whole thing.

Anyone have a different perspective on it? Because I'm not entirely satisfied with my own...

posted at 02:00 PM

March 22, 2004

i'm right... no, I'M right...

A couple who got into a dispute over a theological point after watching "The Passion of the Christ" were arrested after the argument turned violent.

A little microcosm of our world, dontcha think? Silly, silly.

posted at 05:21 PM

March 04, 2004

the 14-yr old boy in me coming out

duuuude, this movie is gonna be so AWESOME!!!

What's sad is that I'm not kidding. I watched this trailer on my itty-bitty iBook and got chills. I cannot wait!!

warning: you should have some form of broadband to click the above or be prepared to wait.

posted at 10:40 PM

December 11, 2003

the best news i've heard all year!

can i pre-order it yet on amazon???

all my friends (okay, just the one) think I'm crazy for adoring the first film, but it's rock-solid, man! it happens to be on my amazon wishlist, in case anybody wants to buy it for me...

posted at 05:05 PM

September 17, 2003

i am SO peeing my pants right now

"Palm Pictures presents the first three installations in an ongoing series highlighting the work of filmmakers who have helped re-define music videos and filmmaking over the last decade. Each volume features music videos, shorts and commercials hand-picked by the directors, exclusive audio and video commentaries from featured artists and collaborators, unreleased shorts and documentaries and much more. A 52-page companion book including photographs, storyboards, treatments, drawings and interviews comes with each specially packaged DVD."
All I can say is that I hope and pray that the IKEA Lamp commercial (it won the Grand Prix award in the "Film" category for the world's best TV and cinema ads in Cannes this year -- and, you can watch it online here!) is on the Spike DVD. Other than that, I'm speechless.

Click here to go to the Directors Label site. Trailers are available for each of these three titles. Here is a link to the Palm Pictures website with more comprehensive information. I also highly suggest checking out the Stick Figure Ninja presentation of "Weapon of Choice".

posted at 01:07 PM | comments (4)

April 30, 2003

a not-so-mighty evening


Last night I dumped my routine of staying at work until the late hours of the evening or going directly home to veg out, and battled 6pm traffic on the 134 to go see the newish Christopher Guest film, A Mighty Wind. I arrived to an empty theater. I selected my usual seat, directly in the middle and a bit towards the back, and started to eat my dinner: Reese's Pieces and a Pepsi... easy ice. Time was ticking down towards the start of the showing, when a group of four people entered the theater. An empty theater, mind you, save for me. And where do they sit? Of course they chose to sit directly in front of me. I didn't make a huff, because I am generally in fear of strangers, and decided to be my normal passive-aggressive self. I moved about in my seat a little more than I normally would. I thought about pelting them with Reese's Pieces throughout the movie, but I find the little peanut-butter goodies too valuable to just waste like that.

So the lights withdrew and the trailers began. What a pile of doo-doo, those trailers! The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, some new Kate Hudson/Luke Wilson movie, and the film surely to have the fundies up in arms, Bruce Almighty... they all look like serious duds to me.

Trailers over, movie begins. I liked it. There's my review. No, for me, when it comes to the oeuvre of Christopher Guest, it's hard to gauge what I really feel about the films in their first viewing. With Best In Show, the first time I saw it I found it only mildy amusing, and it wasn't until it came out on video that I was able to truly get into it. Same here, I presume. Sure, I cackled with everyone else, it's hard not to when you're watching someone like Eugene Levy onscreen, but ultimately I left the film feeling a bit empty. I may be tiring of Guest's schtick... or it could've been those damned Reese's Pieces which made me so, so sick during the movie. Ugh!

posted at 12:29 PM | comments (1)