Monday, July 28, 2008
The next matter of business is choosing the 7 films I am going to study. These films have to represent all that is Hitch. I have put quite a list of films in the poll and also added other, if you choose other just let me know in these comments what your choice is.
I plan on getting into Hitchcock in a week or so, and hopefully will have it finished by the end of August. If anyone has any essays, reviews or anything they have written regarding Hitckcock and would like me to post a link to it when I publish my study that would be great, I would love to have a whole slew of different viewpoints on Hitchie.
By the way, you can vote more than once, I would suggest choosing the 7 films you think I should study.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Have you ever touched Tuesday?
Touch Of Evil
Did you hear what happened to Friday?
For anyone who has seen this flick it is easy to tell why it was chosen for this day. What was heard or what is thought to be heard is what this film is all about.
This was really a given for me because I love to hear this film. It has one of my all time favorite movie soundtracks.
"Here's to you Mrs. Robinson, Jesus loves you more than you will know."
Sense and Sensibility
Yeah, I didn't think this was my type of film. It was really great though. I think it work's because it captures all of the senses. Ok well it doesn't have a taste or smell and it didn't touch me in the literal sense. It has a uniquely wonderful story though and the word sense is in the friggin title.
The Sixth Sense
Yeah, duh. You get it, I know.
So there's my list of films I would play in a movie theatre had I had the chance. Actually I probably would play very few of these films if I were to have such a chance, but with the restriction of a theme (which I know wasn't mandatory, but it was fun) this is what I came up with.
As for tagging, I think anyone I would tagged has already been tagged.
Monday, July 21, 2008
BE WARNED: THERE BE SPOILERS IN THESE HERE WATERS!
Before watching a film one begins speculating on the films possibilities. It may have a lot of action, or possibly some laughs thrown in. These possibilities grow into expectations and we measure our expectations up with the final product and see how the film measures up.
Stanley Kubrick, the genius behind this masterpiece and many others is often discussed as making films in a generally nihilistic mindset. They are often bleak and generally become about having a belief in nothing. Nihilism is “a philosophical position which argues that being, especially past and current human existence, is without objective meaning, purpose, comprehensible truth, or essential value.” Does this common attribute really add up to Kubrick’s magnum opus also following suit with what his supposed ideology is?
Arthur C. Clarke stated in his short essay “The Myth of 2001” that they had “made the first 10 million dollar religious film.” Now religion normally “relates to the existence, nature and worship of a deity or deities and divine involvement in the universe and human life”. Why would Kubrick take such a huge leap with this film to suggest there is a meaning to be found in existence when he takes so much time and effort on other films saying the opposite? The truth is Kubrick explores the lack of meaning and gives a meaning to it.
The film begins and a card appears with the words “The Dawn of Man” strewn across it. We are brought into a group of apes, but as the title card suggests these apes are about to usher in the next step of the evolutionary process. They scavenge around fighting off pigs for their food, seeming to barely make it. All of the sudden a tall, black monolith appears out of nowhere. The apes make contact with the monolith, but other than that nothing happens with it. The viewer is left bewildered and wondering what the point was. As the deliberately paced sequence goes on we see an ape begin to learn to kill. Thus ends the ape’s need to scavenge and begins the ape’s time to hunt. As this comes after the monolith appears, it isn’t totally clear but it can be assumed that such knowledge grew from the ape’s contact with the monolith. At this point we can safely begin to wonder; what is it that the monolith represents here? If it is obviously overseeing what is going on, as the film goes on we see that it is omnipresent, or at least able to travel far distances and survive as long as man has. It can be said that the monolith represents God, or a type of god. Is this Kubrick’s vision of religion?
The monolith brought good for the apes. It gave them everything they needed, but all it does to the rest of existence is hurt it. It seems the monolith might have given the apes the idea that to survive you have to be on top, attack any person who has the chance at overtaking you when they are least expecting it. Religion then is the cause of war. Most likely we see, especially in today’s world that most wars are brought on because of religious beliefs. Whether it be George Bush saying God told him to invade Iraq, or Bin Laden claiming Allah told him to attack the United States. On a smaller but no less disgusting scale it is the KKK’s excuse for their hatred of other races.
As the film goes on, we are still under the title card “The Dawn of Man” when we reach Dr. Floyd. Dr. Floyd is headed to an excavation on the moon where a monolith has been discovered. Why does this, the year 2000 A.D., still have the title card “The Dawn of Man”? It seems that although man has evolved technologically they are still “spiritual and emotional infants” as so profoundly stated in the film Angry Red Plane (1960, Melchior). We first see them as apes evolving technologically with the invention of war (in a sense) and now they lack the ability to understand that such a magnificent thing as the monolith is that they should have respect for it. Instead they opt for a photo and a smile, which the monolith appears to be unhappy about as it lets out a loud piercing noise. From this point we head into our next title card.
“Jupiter Mission, 18 Months Later” appears on the screen and we are introduced to Dave Bowman, Frank Poole and the infamous HAL 9000. Neither we nor those on board know the purpose of their mission at this point. This is where the technological advances of man have reached a maximum. We see throughout this piece of the film that HAL is not only capable of conversation and human understanding, but perfectly capable of emotion and feelings. This can be seen as another evolution of man because man has created a being in his likeness, at least mentally. Man has, in a sense, become a god. It is at this point that man can no longer evolve as man anymore, but to reach the next point man must destroy what it is that he has made of himself. When Dave “kills” HAL we feel the devolution of HAL, we can see a clear, determined Dave seemingly changing before our eyes.
When we reach “Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite” we have reached the last step in man’s evolutionary process. Dave goes through some sort of portal which leads him to a room where he is able to see himself at different stages in his life just before he becomes it. Once reaching elderly, Dave also sees the monolith and reaches towards it (just as the apes did and Floyd) and begins his rebirth.
This film is filled with birthdays. There are 5 in total; the birth of man, Dr. Floyd’s daughter, Frank, HAL, and the Star child. This only enforces the idea that the main ideology behind this film is rebirth, or redemption.
Dave has reached a state of redemption at the end of the film. He has messed up as a man by putting so much trust in technology while becoming a robot himself. By this point he is overlooking earth and seems to be given a purpose. It is so easy to categorize this film into any religion or belief/idea but the film boils down to redemption and rebirth. He has reached a state of absolution, by overcoming what man is. He only reached this point when no longer allowing technology to hold him back from reaching his destination. He was determined to do things on his own, to make something of the mission no matter the cost. In this instance the film is very religious, not specific to any religion, but in an overall sense it is saying to believe in something, even if that something is yourself.
Through Clarke’s novelization we see that he is of the belief that the Star child is a God-like figure even proclaiming he was “master of the world” but “doesn’t know what to do next”. This brings up an interesting thought that the next logical step, especially since man has already created in his own likeness (HAL), would be God. At the same time, this is only the next logical step because at this point we lack understanding of what could happen next. In context of the film I think it is an interesting idea to explore but completely stating it would simply disfigure the mysticism of what 2001: A Space Odyssey is.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
The film in question is the hilarious Spaceballs(1987). I can remember being a young boy and watching it with my dad on TV and trying to laugh when he laughed, while not exactly sure what was going on. I also have the fondest memory of staying up late with a friend and building a tent in our room with chairs and blankets. This tent was elaborate with secret rooms and the best part is, the only way to fit in it was to be as small as a kid. We were around 10 or 11 at the time. Anyways, we would drape one of the blankets over the TV and play Nintendo or Sega, but for this time we decided to watch TV. What did we see? We saw a huge helmeted Rick Moranis making a fool of himself at every turn. We were in stitches!
At some point during this cinematic experience I realized, "This is Spaceballs!" I told my friend. He only replied with the logical response, a giggle at the fact that I said balls and then a perplexed look. I responded to his look of confusion with, " I watched this movie with my dad before, he loves it!" We fell asleep watching Spaceballs that night, but it's impact would forever mark my future sense of humor and everyday conversations.
Years passed and my friends and I would constantly gather together and watch/re watch comedies. I for one fell in love with comedy. I was 13 and I didn't care about John McClane or The Terminator, I wanted to watch The Jerk(1979) or Ghostbusters(1984). My other friends also loved comedy, but were still attracted to action films like most normal teenage boys are. Regardless we would always watch comedies together. At this point we didn't have a critical gauge, so most things we saw we found to be hilarious and would watch over and over again.
It was September of 2001, two friends and I were headed to the movies with one of my friends sister and her boyfriend. They were older, maybe 20, while we were 13-14 years old. We had no idea what we were going to see on the way, we were just happy to go to the movies. When we arrived the adults decided they were in a comedic mood and the only comedy on the menu was a little film called Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. As soon as the name was mentioned all three of us lit up. Was it because we were familiar with Kevin Smith and his View Askewniverse? Not at all, we had seen these hilarious TV Spots and were always game for some comedy.
Needless to say, we had no idea what was going on. The film is chocked full of elements of Smith's past films, but we still found it to be hilarious. So hilarious in fact that it inspired a friend and I to try and write a script/comic. The script/comic was titled That Man and it was more in the vein of Mel Brooks than Kevin Smith, but it was directly after seeing JASBSB that we decided we wanted to do this. That Man was a play on words with Batman, except literally no one knew him, and when he would solve crimes or save the day, people would simply say, "who is that man?" Ridiculous? Yes. Dumb? Yes. But we didn't care.
Right afterwards I went and rented Mallrats(1995), Clerks(1994), Chasing Amy(1997) and Dogma(1999). We loved them all, but didn't entirely understand some of the complexities and underlying themes that we may now understand. I think somehow, seeing such mature films at such a young age changed me in some ways. At that age, and sometimes now, I tend to try and one up people with saying the dirtiest thing(in a nice way, tehe) but now I have learned restraint. At the same time, it led me to love independent films. I would watch interviews with Kevin Smith and saw who he looked up to and would dive into other films that had an independent quality to them, that I still love today.
Fight Club(1999). What can I say about Fight Club. Although it came out before Jay and Silent Bob, I saw it afterwards. This was my first real favorite film that wasn't a comedy. I am 15 now and a friend has heard that Fight Club is a must see film. We go to the local video store and search it out in the action section, to no avail. We are confused, so we ask the employees and they point us to the drama section. I wasn't really sure how a film called Fight Club could be a drama, so I was worried to say the least.
We get back to my place and head to my room and put the DVD into my Playstation 2. I had bunk beds and they took up a lot of space in my tiny room, so we pushed the beds out ate pizza and sat behind the beds, using the mattress as a table.
I was totally and completely riveted by this film. Somehow, for once, I was able to feel some kind of an emotion towards these talking pictures that didn't involve happy feelings. I didn't really understand all that was going on, but I knew it was deeper than a group of guys beating each other up. I took the words to heart and really began trying to think for myself. Not that I hadn't tried before, I have always been a little weird. I listened to punk rock and loved dirty comedies while attending a Baptist school. I wasn't aware of the characters deep spiritual longing, at least not knowingly aware of it, but I think deep down I felt the same way. I needed something to feel anything. I was in a state of mediocrity. This film made me want to become a creator. A creator of anything, stories, songs, reviews of other stories or songs. Through this yearning, I realized how much I loved to write. So I wrote songs, stories, etc.
I didn't pick the first 3 movies that affected me. I didn't know I would love Fight Club or a movie about stoners or a film about mogs and druidians. They seemed to have sought me out. It seems the movies I am most excited for and search my hardest for, while generally I am not disappointed, they are rarely ever life changing. Through these young years of film watching I wasn't very critical, but still to this day, even with a critical eye I can enjoy these films. Maybe because of their nostalgic value, or maybe just because they are good. Either they have helped shape who I am, which is more than I can say for most things in my life.
What are some rare, or odd things that may have helped shape who you are?
It is easy to sit back and either fall for the hype or totally reject it. It would be easy as a critic for me to sit back and say, "But there are flaw's so this film IS bad." And the thought did cross my mind, but the film isn't bad, in fact it is nothing short of outstanding!
Would the plot details make a difference? Anyone and everyone knows it has The Joker(the late Heath Ledger), Batman(Christian Bale), and Two-Face/Harvey Dent(Aaron Eckhart). Anymore description would simply be mind numbing as there is so much plot here. It is impossible to really know where to start or where to end.
Here in lies one of the major problems with the film; too much plot. Nolan did a wonderful job directing but this is a problem that he could have easily fixed. I am not going to lie, I was completely compelled the entire time, but sometimes it felt like parts were repeating themselves. Although I love Ledger in this and his performance is remarkable, we didn't need every Joker scene. It's hard to realize this while watching the film because Ledger is so watchable, the audience does not want to take their eyes off of him. I simply think Nolan knew what he had with Ledger and did not know which part's to cut because individually they are all amazing scenes.
Speaking of Ledger, with all the buzz surrounding his part in The Dark Knight another actor who was surprising and excellent, Aaron Eckhart, seemed to be overlooked. This isn't to say that Ledger's hype is not earned. It is totally earned and with all the Internet hype surrounding his performance and certain awards, while I don't think it'll happen I wouldn't be upset if it did. He has an interesting Anton Chigurh or Hannibal Lector quality in his performance that is impossible to ignore. To get back to Eckhart though, he is magnificent as Harvey Dent. It was easy to imagine him as the charismatic, justice loving DA because he is a charismatic guy and all he had to do was play himself, but when things start changing he changes his performance so perfectly that I simply am appalled at how underrated he is in this film. You really can get a grasp on his character and all that surrounds him because he is the center of the film. As his character changes the other's do. His character arc seems to be the basis of all the rest of the characters and it really ties everything together.
Christopher Nolan didn't cease to really pack the film with a punch. There are some truly devastating scenes here. This is one of the most heartbreaking blockbusters I have ever seen and that is to the films advantage. The story lends itself to that kind of feeling, but most directors would have opted out and glossed over many of the details.
The Dark Knight is transcendent in many ways. If you took out the bat suit and batman mythos and made him a regular vigilante then this could easily be a gritty hard hitting crime drama in the vein of Heat(1995). Every character that is established seems to serve some purpose that isn't explicitly shown but ultimately realized. Batman films work best when he isn't the main character, because the villains in Gotham City are always more fully realized and imaginative than our hero. The same goes for this one, but I would have to say that Nolan really made Batman more empathetic than ever before and his vulnerability really brings a new dimension to the character that hasn't really been developed on screen before.
The films other flaws are few and far between. Harvey Dent's transformation is a bit rushed, and probably would have worked better to cut out 20-30 minutes throughout and set his character up for the next film. Although some really fun things Nolan did was as the film went on and Two-Face's time grew closer and closer, Eckhart's face is shown half in shadow and half in light, kind of showing or predicting the future for us.
Social commentary isn't a stranger to comic book films. It seems to show up a lot in The Dark Knight as well. It is often asked how they should deal with the Joker because he is a terrorist with nothing to lose. Much like the situation faced with our country today. Batman is outcast because while trying to do good for the city good people die on his watch. The parallels can be easily seen there as well, but it isn't sure if Nolan wanted that in there to be a comment on our current times or if he thought it fit the story. I find that it is to Nolan's credit that it isn't apparent that he is making any type of commentary, but it simply comes out of the characters and they don't focus on it.
The Dark Knight delivers on so many levels that it really is hard to focus on any flaws it does have. Setting the hype aside though and viewing it unbiased I feel that the film stands on its own and surpass' the usual summer fare. There will be those who over-hype and there will be those who want to be different, ignore both sides and just enjoy the film for being superb.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
If the story sounds a little convoluted to you that's because it kind of is. But this isn't exactly a problem. Del Toro balances the love stories, the fantastical elements and the action perfectly to really make this a wonderful and entertaining film.
Another thing that became a slight detraction was how after spending a perfect amount of time setting up certain things, the characters were given a pass and some magic creature could fix everything easily without letting a little set back really create tension and suspense. If there is anything that hurts Hellboy II it is it's lack of suspense. The suspense is there, but only in small portions.
Hancock (Will Smith) follows John Hancock (don't worry there is actually a reason for the name), a down on his luck superhero with a devil-may-care attitude. He is constantly helping the city, but all the while destroying it at the same time. We see Hancock fly through highway exit signs, throw beached whales, and total many cars throughout all 92 minutes. Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman) is a PR exec who is one day saved by Hancock and decides to return the favor by getting the city to love him since he does rescue them on a regular basis.
What follows this interesting and entertaining premise is a film that doesn't know what it wants to be. We get hints of a comedy, but they never come to fruition. It seems that they wanted to make a dramatic action film but threw in some comedy at the last minute to put in the previews to get the families in the seats for The Fresh Prince.
The films first fifteen minutes hit the regular beats that a comedy would attempt to hit, but after the entry of Bateman's character and a convoluted subplot involving Charlize Theron, who plays Bateman's wife, we get thrown into a character drama with bits of comic like action.
Peter Berg's direction wouldn't even be considered competent. This film is so sophomoric in it's pacing and timing that it honestly feels like it was thrown together at the last minute. This is not a slight against Peter Berg, in general I think he is a competent if not good director who has potential to be something special. With Hancock, we get the look of a gritty, R-rated action film, along with terrible special effects and terrible acting from everyone but the three leads.
With that being said, the film isn't all terrible. It has it's moments and in the moments we see a film that could have been. If they would have chosen a direction to go in and used that style as a reference to what kind of film they are making, then maybe Hancock would have come out at least coherent.
The shining bits of this film mainly lie in Jason Bateman's performance. He does the best with what he's given and can be pretty on the ball when he needs to be.
There is one scene in this film that I thought was particularly effective in every aspect. The direction, the music, cinematography, the pacing, it all worked together near the end when we reach a climax of sorts. This climax was good, but definitely did not belong in this film. Not because it was good, but because it just didn't fit with the world that Berg creates throughout the rest of the film.
With Will Smith as a selling point, most people will see this no matter what the story is, but if there is an ounce of doubt in your body about this film, I assure you that it needs to be there and it needs to be much larger. This is probably the worst blockbuster to be released this summer, and on a lesser summer it might have actually gotten a better rating, but when films are being released weekly at the caliber that they have been this summer the weaker films weakness' show more often. This is the film that proves it.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Once we get to the midpoint of the film though, it really picks up. The tapes are all erased and Mike and Jerry have decided they are going to make their own movies out of the blank tapes. They start with Ghostbusters(1984). Once we see them in action the film's magic really seems to shine. This movie really is for lovers of cinema. When you know the references they are making with certain shots and costumes and such then it is all the more hilarious.
To be honest, the second half of this film is one of the most wonderful pieces of cinema I have seen all year. It is truly a shame that Gondry couldn't let the whimsy be carried a little further into the beginning, but this isn't to say that the film shouldn't be seen.
Stuff I Write.
- Film Theory
- Alfred Hitchcock
- documentary study
- DJ Caruso
- Gus Van Sant
- James Whales
- The Coen Bros
- Alfonso Cuaron
- Alphabet Meme
- Andrew Stanton
- Barbara Kopple
- Ben Stiller
- Best Of
- Bill Maher
- Bob Dylan
- Catherine Hardwicke
- Charlie Kaufman
- Chris Bell
- Chris Smith
- Christopher Nolan
- Chuck Palahniuk
- Clark Gregg
- D.A. Pennebaker
- Danny Boyle
- Darren Aronofsky
- Dave Eggers
- David Fincher
- David Gordon Green
- David Wain
- Forrest Gump
- George Bush
- Guest Author
- Guillermo Del Toro
- Joss Whedon
- K. Ryan Jones
- Kevin Smith
- Larry Charles
- Man Crush Meme
- Maurice Sendak
- Michael Moore
- Michael Stuhlbarg
- Michel Gondry
- Mike Nichols
- Oliver Stone
- Peter Berg
- Peter Sollett
- Robert Wise
- Screen Savour
- Stanley Kubrick
- Steve James
- Terry Gilliam
- The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
- The Maysles brothers
- Wes Anderson
- childrens film
- francis ford coppola
- freaky dream
- spike jonze
- where the wild things are