Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What I Think of: Catfish (2010)

(this shot is one of my favorite scenes in the film)

This is a documentary by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman and it follows Ariel's brother, a young (did I mention very attractive) photographer, Nev. I don't want to get too into the plot as I don't want to give away anything. This documentary in a way is like a mystery--you uncover things as you go along but the basis is that Nev was befriended by a child prodigy that saw one of his photos and painted it for him. They become 'friends' online and becomes friends with her extended family. As the relationships blossom, Nev has developed an interest in learning more the friends he has made and this is when the story starts to unfold.

A discussion that I had with Joshua after the film was that he did not like that the camera man, Nev's brother Ariel, and their friend, Henry interacted with Nev. In summary, Joshua's thoughts around documentary is that it should only focus on the subject and the director/cameramen should not be involved with the story. He's coming in from a technical point of view and from someone who actually really likes documentaries. I, on the other hand, do not prefer documentaries but I've definitely have seen some great ones in my time. But I won't claim to be a documentary expert but I will say I did enjoy the interaction between the subject and the film maker. Why? Because there's a relationship there, the brother and friend are part of the journey. They are his only friends and confidants as he goes down this path.

As for the story itself, it's quite an interesting one. The marketing has been clever in not revealing too much and promoting it in a very ominous way. Is this a documentary? Is it a horror film? Is this the real life Crying Game? Will this become a snuff film? Ok the last two were things I were thinking but perhaps others too. I think if you end up going to see Catfish, go in blind but also don't go in expending some mind blowing experience, just enjoy the ride.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Episode 66: Machete and Resident Evil Afterlife 3D

Hello there and welcome to the 66th episode of the Cinema Cafe Podcast, the bi-weekly, twice monthly film podcast by the fans, for the fans. Join us each week as we review new movies releases, look at some dvd's, talk some film news and share our general love for all things cinema. The main goal is to have some fun and hopefully provide the listener with some helpful insight. We are back and the podcasting world is alight once again.

This week we have a treat: it's our 66th episode, which means we've been bringing you "bi-weekly" content for more than a year now. This week we take a look at 2 movies that have been recently released or are on dvd. With that said here's a look at what we discuss on this weeks podcast:

* Machete
* Resident Evil Afterlife 3D
* Look at most anticipated movies coming out in October
* Upcoming movie releases for the weekend of 9.17.10 and 9.24.10

Also, film news and more, only on the Cinema Cafe Podcast. We hope you enjoy and happy movie watching.

Thanks as always to all our loyal listeners for sharing the ride with us as we've reached this milestone for the show. It's all due to your support that we have kept things going and we hope you continue to share the ride with us in the coming months.

We're also on Itunes so head over there and subscribe to the Cinema Cafe Podcast and don't forget to post a review! Thanks!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Leftovers - A Capella Inception Trailer

Here's an A Capella version of the Inception trailer. What does that even mean? It means all kinds of funny. Click on the video and check it out. I just want to go around the rest of the day chanting: BRAAAAHMMMM. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Leftovers - The Real Life True Story of What's Going On With M. Night Shyamalan

Ever wonder why you still pay to see an M. Nigh Shyamalan film in the theaters? Plunking down your hard earned money, spending 2 plus hours of your life wondering, "is this the twist? Is the twist that I just wasted 12 bucks and time I'll never get back?" Or better yet, what if all of his films are just an extension of his life, and we're watching the progression of a director gone made. Well think no further, the masterminds behind College Humor have answered all our questions with a wonderful spoof they like to call, No One Likes M. Night Shyamalan. Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Episode 65: Movie Review Rundown Extravaganza!!!

Hello there and welcome to the 65th episode of the Cinema Cafe Podcast, the bi-weekly, twice monthly film podcast by the fans, for the fans. Join us each week as we review new movies releases, look at some dvd's, talk some film news and share our general love for all things cinema. The main goal is to have some fun and hopefully provide the listener with some helpful insight. We are back and the podcasting world is alight once again.

It's been a while but we are back for your podcast movie loving enjoyment!!! I know we were gone for a while but I promise that we are back to our usual schedule of bringing you movie reviews twice monthly. I know I missed doing the show and I hope everyone missed listening to it. This week we have a movie rundown extravaganza as we try to recap all the movies we haven't had the chance to review yet. That means 11 new movie reviews for your listening pleasure. We hope you enjoy and thanks for listening.

With that said here's a look at what we discuss on this weeks podcast:

* June movie reviews - Toy Story 3, The Karate Kid
* July movie reviews - Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Predators, Salt, Sorcerer's Apprentice, Inception
* August movie reviews - The Other Guys, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Expendables and...
* Upcoming movie releases for the weekend of 9.03.10 and 9.1o.10

Also, film news and more, only on the Cinema Cafe Podcast. We hope you enjoy and happy movie watching.

Thanks as always to all our loyal listeners for sharing the ride with us as we've reached this milestone for the show. It's all due to your support that we have kept things going and we hope you continue to share the ride with us in the coming months.

We're also on Itunes so head over there and subscribe to the Cinema Cafe Podcast and don't forget to post a review! Thanks!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fantastic Short Film Friday (NSFW) - The Pro (animated)

And we are back with another weekly installment in our Fantastic Short Film Friday series, as we look to showcase films released in the "lesser" known form of cinema- the short film.

This week we have for something a bit... a bit... different I guess you can say, and very NSFW. Here is an 8-minute animated short called The Pro which is adapted from the original 2002 graphic novel of the same name by Garth Ennis and Amanda Conner. This short is just crass, wrong and very adult in nature - so adults only here people!! - but I can't lie, I enjoyed the hell out of the original short graphic novel when I first read it back in 2002, and I enjoyed the hell out of this animated short adaptation, although it leaves out some of the better... um... situations found in the graphic novel. Seriously this is NSFW.

Basically this is the story of a prostitute who gets superpowers and joins the League of Honor to fight crime because it pays better. There's foul language and some sexual situations so people easily offended should look away. But if you're into comics like I am and would enjoy seeing a satire where Superman, Batman, Robin and Wonder Woman all play second fiddle to a prostitute with superpowers, check this out.

What more can I say? Just... yeah check it out and hopefully you enjoy it as much as I do.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Book Review: The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson

Publication Date: 1952 in US
Format: Paperback


Lou Ford is the deputy sheriff of a small town in Texas. The worst thing most people can say against him is that he's a little slow and a little boring. But, then, most people don't know about the sickness--the sickness that almost got Lou put away when he was younger. The sickness that is about to surface again.

Joshua's Take: 4.0/5☆

Why I picked up the book: because I love me a good, hard crime novel and the recent movie adaptation got me all kinds of giddy to read this original cult classic. Oh, and it has a blurb from Stanley Kubrick, I mean come on, what more do you need?

The serial killer genre has always been a popular one especially in books, where the average citizen for a few hours and days can look inside the mind of a killer, live inside, and yet peacefully go back to their ordinary daily lives with a flick of the wrist, the closing of the front cover, f it ever got to be to much. Anthony Hopkins brought the world to a standstill in 1991 with his terrifying portrayal of everyone's favorite cannibal Hannibal Lecter. And in that same year, Brett Easton Ellis brought everyone's mind's to a frenzy with American Psycho, and then with 2001's movie adaptation which made Christan Bale into one of the most charismatic, outrageous and apologetically tragic "hero's" in recent memory. Then came HBO's Dexter, and now it seems like rooting for the serial killer has become chic, become popular culture. But if one were to ask me, what is one of the greatest example of a serial killer novel, a work written from the POV of the character, I would have to say it would be Jim Thompson's 1952 cult classic, The Killer Inside Me.

I'm not going to talk about the story since I don't want to give anything away. Just go into this with an open mind, blind to all the twists and turns, and you'll be begging for more. This is an amazing read, one that is so realistic, so relentless, so unflinchingly cruel and paranoid, a work with words that literally crawl inside your ears, pounding away at your ear drums in a rhythmic staccato of mayhem, that you have to wonder, was Jim Thompson this brilliant or this demented? Thompson's prose is almost staccato, brilliant bursts of short, clipped sentences that make the story and the lead, Lou Ford, all the more terrifying, like each word is brooded upon before said.

The greatest thing a writer can do is make the reader feel like they're inside the mind of the characters, and Jim Thompson does that so convincingly that you wish he wasn't as great of a wordsmith. Director Stanley Kubrick once said of the novel that The Killer Inside Me was, "probably the most chilling and believable first-person story of a criminally warped mind I have ever encountered" and I couldn't agree more. What's so frightening is that Lou Ford appears like the everyman, the country hick that's in every small town down throughout the state-lines. He's somebody you would feel comfortable asking for directions, even feel pity for his lot in life. From a distance, Lou's crimes would be horrific but tempered, however inside the mind of Lou, the only narrator of a sick play, that's when you move on from horrific to mind-altering. Even better is that with Lou being the only narrator, with every crime and murder being told only by him, you have to question how truthful the whole story is, how far can you take his words at face value and even if you want to. I can only imagine outcry there must have been when this book hit stands back in 1952.

Here is a brilliant work of fiction that perfectly fits what the term "noir" is, a term that feels watered down as every publisher and movie studio looks to coin their works "noir." It's a short read, one that I read as I traveled back and forth to and from Houston, 8 hours total, a short work that will stay in your mind for years to come.

I'm really looking forward to watching the movie adaptation which got a very limited release back in June and stars Casey Affleck, Kate Hudson and Jessica Alba. Just thinking of those actors in the lead roles sends my mind to endless fancies.

Here is a story where every character is tragic and one where sadly everyone gets theirs, a powerful and painful look into the mind of a killer, who realizes what he's doing is wrong, even wants to stop, but can't, because of the "sickness", a sickness that could very well be breeding deep down inside all of us if we ever choose to look. A must-read.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fantastic Short Film Friday - Heartless: The Story of the Tin Man

And we are back with another weekly installment in our Fantastic Short Film Friday series, as we look to showcase films released in the "lesser" known form of cinema- the short film.

This week we have for you an amazing 23-minute short about everyone's favorite Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz called, Heartless: The Story of the Tin Man. From Whitestone Motion Pictures, the short is written and directed by Brandon McCormick and co-written by Charlie Wetzel. It's wonderful, tragic and well, it made me want to re-read the original classic series. What more can I say?!!

Here's the official synopsis from the film's website:

Based on the backstory of one of the most beloved childrenʼs novels of all time comes the extraordinary love story between a simple woodsman and a beautiful maiden. Not having many possessions but wanting to marry his maiden, the woodsman sets his heart to build a large and beautiful cabin.

L. Frank Baum wrote the back story to the Tin Woodsman in his book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Heartless: The Story of the Tin Man is Whitestone Motion Pictures retelling this little known story of the tragic arc of a beloved character who was once human, made of flesh and blood that turned into tin.

Sounds great, right? Frankly I'm stunned by the production quality and cinematography of the short film. It's muted, dark, and perfectly befitting the story told. Heartless brings a wonderful steampunk quality to L. Frank Baums classic and if there's one thing I like more than zombies, it's steampunk. The story is moving, it has a fantastic voice-over and narrative, the costumes look great (which is rare in short films) and honestly, this is what that awful 2007 Tin Man mini-series by the SyFy channel should have been. It's sad when a 23-minute short is better then a 4-part big budgeted miniseries on TV. You really are terrible SyFy channel!!

To find out more information about the short including the soundtrack go: here.

So there you have it- a fresh, new, minty film for lovers of the Wizard of Oz, Tin Men and of course, shorts. Enjoy!!

Heartless: The Story of the Tin Man from Brandon McCormick on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Movie Review: Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Playlist

This 2010 action comedy is adapted from the 6-issue graphic novel of the same name created by Bryan Lee O'Malley and is written and directed by Edgar Wright (of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz fame). It's easy to summarize this movie, but truly difficult to convey the absolute brilliant geek righteousness of it all. Basically Michael "Emo" Cera stars as Scott Pilgrim, a listless 20-something who is the bassist for the not very good indie rock band, Sex Bomb-omb. One day he meets the woman of his dreams in Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), an aloof 20-something package delivery girl. Just as things start to blossom, Scott finds out that in order to continue dating Ramona, he must battle and defeat her 7-evil ex's. Battle after battle, can Scott survive and win the true affections of Ramona, or in the end is all love doomed with the eternal question, "continue?"

As the days have gone on since I intially first watched, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, there's been a huge and continued backlash towards the star of the film, Michael Cera. No other actor in recent memory calls forth such vitriol from movie goers everywhere as the eternal man-child, the emo-epicness that is Michael Cera. His detractors cry out that he's the same in every movie, just always slightly moving his face, pouting and generally being an overall wimp. Frankly I'm stunned by this. Not only because I can't understand why so many hate the guy, I mean truly from-the-bottom-of-their-heart hate the guy, but also because I've always liked his style. So with all the hate in the forefront of my mind, I decided to rewatch his Scott Pilgrim-ish turn as Nick in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. While my initial observations still hold true, it's more a soundtrack than movie (and the soundtrack isn't very good), a more documentary of NY music culture that indie-love story, and yeah I'm still way to old for the movie (where no adult appears to exist in the Logan's Run style that is NY of the movie), I have to say that I enjoyed it on my third watch. Perhaps after 2 repeat viewings I've just grown accustomed to it's mediocre character and plot development, but the movie and it's culture, it's panache washed over me on my third viewing and damn if I didn't enjoy it. I even went on ebay looking to buy a Yugo, but then again, I don't have a death wish.

Going back to Scott Pilgrim, this role is the ultimate Michael Cera-type role. I mean he's still the same nebbish, emo loser in a band, who's still reeling from a heartbreaking break-up (I mean this is the exact same character from Nick and Norah), but here he's more assured of himself, an almost oddly defined "playa" who can fight and will physically fight for the woman of his dreams. Here is Cera writ large, defined as the modern geek culture hero, a skinny guy with no muscle definition that can kick the butts of Superman and the Human Torch. Preach on Cera, preach on. But that's just Michael Cera's performance, what about the rest of the movie?

If you're a fan of the original graphic novels you won't be disappointed. It changes a lot of the story, the relationships, the battles, but all for the better for an adaption to the silver screen. The movie never let's up once, as the story moves from battle to battle, a hyper-imaginary world where video game fighting in "real" life is all part of the norm, and extra lives exist, where a geek who's pick-up line starts with, "do you know that "Pac-Man was originally called Puck-Man", can get the hottest girl in the room- very true to life- as music video-like cuts edit by at breakneck speed, and rhythm consistently pounds the screen with notes a la "Rock Band", a world where Superman got his superpowers from being a Vegan. Brilliant.

Sure there are some flaws to the movie- since it movies from battle to battle there is very little character development, and sure there's just a little too much going on the screen from time to time, an adrenaline pump for the ADD generation, and yes I get that people hate Michael Cera and this whole movie is Cera being Cera x10- but the jokes come a mile a minute, the comedy never feels forced or flat, playing for both the high-intellectual to the slapstick, and while there is very little character development, the characters are endearing, and unlike in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist here the soundtrack is absolutely fantastic.

The casting and acting are also pitch-perfect. Michael Cera embodies the spirit of Scott Pilgrim to the T and Mary Elizabeth Winstead really feels as if she was just born from the page to the screen. But the two actors that stole the movie for me were Kieran Culkin as Scott's gay-roommate Wallace Wells and newcomer Ellen Wong as Scott's jail-bait former girlfriend Knives Chau. Kieran Culkin is just brilliant and hilarious and the best of the comedy in the movie comes from his character. Ellen Wong is just the most honest, endearing and heartbreaking character in the movie, and while you may think Scott is an ass and Ramona is at times a mean spirited woman, you only ever want the best for Ellen's Knives Chau. Out of all the characters in the movie, Knives is the most honest and true character in the movie, a girl we all know or knew at one point in our lives, a reminder on what it means to be young.

I must admit that while watching the movie, I never thought it was too "geeky", too niche, as my friends cried out with joy as the music from Final Fantasy, Zelda, Seinfeld and Mario Brothers played in the background of the movie. As the credits rolled and I smiled to myself thinking, "damn that was one amazing movie" and one that while not based on a video game, was the best video-game movie I have ever seen, I turned to my "Ramona" and asked what did she think. She went on to lament that she didn't get a lot of the jokes, and pressed asking "why did the words, 'bam, ring, vroom and zip' keep appearing on the screen", words that I never thought twice about always thinking they belonged. As she continued to reiterate her hatred for Michael Cera, I began to wonder if this movie was too "geeky", too niche for the general mainstream public. And then when the boxoffice results came out and the movie came in 5th, with a measly 10 mil take, I began to come to grips that my love for this movie may not really translate for everyone.

Still with that said, I enjoyed the hell out of Scott Pilgrim vs. the
and give it a "bring your lunch from home because you do not want to miss this one." I cannot wait until this hits dvd and blu-ray so I can watch it over and over again and marvel at what the tagline of the movie succinctly puts, "it's epic epicness."

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Leftovers: LOST Epilogue (Leak?)

Looks like there's a 12 minute epilogue for LOST that will be on the blu-ray/DVD release. There is a minute and a half clip that can be found here but it seems that /film leaked the full 12 minute clip but if you go to the original posting the video doesn't work and if you dig further, it's been pulled! WHY was I not up at 2:30am when Joshua found the clip??? Anyway, if anyone finds it, please email cinemacafepodcast@gmail.com or shopgirlpenny@gmail.com. In the meantime, I've included the one and a half minute clip with Greek? Russian? subs. Sorry, it's the best I can do.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Leftovers: Up / Inception Mash Up Trailer

As you all know by now, I'm a huge fan of Inception, and I still plan to watch it again some time soon in the theater. I came across this trailer mash up on my Facebook feed and actually really enjoyed it. It mashes the scenes from Up and the voiceover trailer for Inception. I must say, this was done really well and I swear, if I was slightly more sensitive, I may have had a tear in my eye. Loved Up, loved Inception--can't go wrong right? See for yourself:

I also saw the Toy Story 3 / Inception mash up and it was cute but not as good.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Trailer Talkback: Sucker Punch (2011)

The trailer for Sucker Punch just came out. This is Zach Snyder's new film, following Watchmen. I'm not sure what this is about but there's young scantly clad women from a cabaret show carrying huge guns, enormous samurai robots, burning zeppelins and a drago. All taking place in a post-apocalyptic fantasy world. Looks interesting enough but I'm sure young boys everywhere are salivating. Enjoy the trailer:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What I Think of: The Blind Side (2009)

This 2009 Oscar nominated film is based on the true story of Michael Oher, an under-privileged teen living in Memphis, TN and the family who took him in. Directed by John Lee Hancock, who also directed the feel good movie The Rookie, this story really sucks you in from the beginning. Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron) is a quiet teen who seems to struggle academically, when through a family friend was enrolled in Wingate Christian School. The students at this school come from an upper-middle class background, which sets Michael apart from everyone else. One cold rainy night, the Tuohy family was driving home together when they spotted Michael with a T-shirt and shorts. Leigh Anne (Sandra Bullock) stops the car and asks Michael if he has a place to stay for the night. He did not and Leigh Anne invites him to their home. This is the beginning of Michael's integration into a stable family home, and having people look after his well-being. Michael is not only becoming part of the family, he also joins the football team where he learns to be a great offensive lineman.

This is a really touching story that hits on one good deed and setting an example for others. This is something inspiring and teaches people about giving and selflessness. Sandra Bullock was a great sassy mom, and I barely recognized Tim McGraw as the sensitive family man. SJ (Jae Head) and Collins (Lily Collins) were Michael's siblings and you felt the chemistry amongst the three kids / actors. Kathy Bates as Miss Sue, Michael's tutor, was a refreshing. It is a good movie to watch with the family and I loved that it was based on a true story of a teen, who was later drafted to the Baltimore Ravens in the 2009 NFL draft.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Movie Review: Inception (2010)

First things first, I started my review of "Blind Side" the other day and meant to finish it today. But unfortunately, my mind cannot focus on any film except Inception. I went to see the film last night and it still blows my mind. *WARNING* This may be an incoherent rant / review but please stay with me.

Let's try to start from the top. I've been waiting for this film to come out ALL year. When I saw the trailer in IMAX a couple months ago, I was giddy with joy and started my wait patiently. So yesterday, we went to the movies and caught an early showing as I got out of work early. The only problem, in hindsight, was that we didn't go see it in IMAX.

Christopher Nolan is the writer, the producer, the director, and the genius behind Inception. It's really hard to explain the premise but it's a story of a world similar to ours with the only exception is that there is a machine/technique that can put individuals in someone's dream, when people are most vulnerable and extract information from that someone. The story focuses on going one step further and instead of extracting information, they want to create an idea in a form of a dream, inception. This is when the fun begins, in order to accomplish inception, you have to go inside a dream within a dream, within a dream. OK I know it sounds like I'm giving away a lot but trust me, in order to truly understand this, you need to watch the film and what I'm telling you is superficial.

Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) assembles a team, his right hand man, Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the dream architect, Ariadne (Ellen Page), the thief/muscle/transformer, Eames (Tom Hardy), the potion mixer, Yusuf (Dileep Rao), and lastly the backer/boss, Saito (Ken Watanabe). Their target for inception is Robert Fischer, Jr.(Cillian Murphy). The levels of dreams and the depths of the subconscious is so intricate that it's the type of film that not only stimulates you visually but intellectually. I know it may sound Matrix-y but it's much better and still very different. It truly is mind blowing. It's a smart film that I found a smirk on my face when it was all said and done. I go to the movies a lot and I rarely will watch a film more than once (especially in the theater) and this is a movie that I want to see again, in the theater, in IMAX, full price.

Prior to Inception, I would have said that Christopher Nolan is a good director, who I've only see a few films, Memento, which was also another intellectually stimulating film, and the two Batman movies, which I really enjoyed. But with Inception, he has cemented himself into god-like status for me.

The all-star cast did a phenomenal job. As much as I'm not a huge DiCaprio fan, I do love his movies and I find him to be such a great actor. If (500) Days of Summer didn't win me over, Inception made me crave for more JGL. He, with DiCaprio, is another child actor, who has really rose into stardom and not with tabloids and partying but with their talent. Now who is this Tom Hardy? I have not heard of him before but he is easy on the eyes and definitely stole the scene on a couple of occasions. Cillian Murphy is great, as always, and Ellen Page delivered. Marion Cotillard, who plays Cobb's wife, also makes an appearance in this dream sequence. And lastly, Ken Watanabe was superb but my only complaint is that there were a few words that I didn't catch with his accent. Obviously that is not his fault as I am the worst in understanding English with thick accents but this did not occur often.

With the great writing, directing, and acting in this film, it truly had it all. It's not another blockbuster film with a weak storyline. This is something not to be missed and I think it would be thoroughly enjoyed because it is different and utterly amazing.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

What I Think of: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the 2009 film adaptation by the book of the same name and directed by Niels Arden Oplev. Similar to the book, it follows Millennium journalist, Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), in his investigation on the disappearance of Harriet Vanger, the beloved niece of Vanger Corporation CEO, Henrik. During his investigation, Blomkvist requested a researcher to help him go through old archives and follow up leads. Here, he meets Lisbeth Salander(Noomi Rapace), an anti-social introvert who has a thing for black attire and multiple piercings. She is one of Milton Security's best researcher, and unbeknownst to Blomkvist, one of the world's renown computer hackers. They start working closely with each other unraveling the truth about Harriet.

I have read the book and now watched the film and though I was not sure if Rapace looked the part of Salander, she definitely nailed her attitude. Nyqvist was perfect in look and character. I think the screenwriter and director did a great job at capturing the story that felt true to the book with modifications that felt right for a film. It did not bog down in the details, where in a book it's great to paint the picture but in film, can be unnecessary and confusing. Some characters were omitted / played a smaller part, which was fine as it was not integral to the overall story. I enjoyed the film as it was fairly true to the book and though I don't speak Swedish, the acting was great and met my expectations for the characters, and the drama unfolded in a timely fashion (not drawn out, nor abrupt). Definitely worth the watch.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What I Think Of: Predators (2010)

Here's an early review of a recent film release. Since we've been a bit tardy with the latest podcast (sorry guys but a new show will be released at the end of this week. No really it will!), I've decided to give my quick thoughts on this reboot/sequel to the original 1987 film, Predator (let's all try to forget the 1990 Predator 2 where a predator is defeated by out of shape Danny Glover ever happened). So here we have Predators, where elite human killers are dropped on an alien world to be hunted. Directed by Nimrod Antal (of Kontroll, Vacancy and Armored fame), the film stars Adrian Brody as an elite special opts soldier who must team up with a ragtag group of survivors to fight and fend off their captors. Upping the stakes is that while Arnold barely defeated one in the original film, washboard abs Brody must defeat 3, because the best things in life come in three's (and yes I'm including the 3-set of breasts in Total Recall).

Since we'll be reviewing the movie later this week for the podcast, I'm going to make this short and sweet, so here are some of my initial thoughts concerning this film.

  • I've been waiting most my life for a true sequel to one of my favorite sci-fi horror franchises, and Predators does not disappoint. While I thought it might be decent if not cheesy, Predators is surprisingly well written, action packed and stays true to the original film.
  • On that note, initially I thought that there was no way "serious" actor Adrian Brody could pull off an action lead, especially one that Arnie made famous, but he's damn good here. He's gruff, he's mean, he has a six-pack, I mean Brody just went up miles in the "man" factor in my eyes. Everyone I talk to about this movie keeps asking, "you say it's good, but I mean come on, Adrian Brody is in it. How good can he be?" He's f-n fantastic here people. The biggest surprise of the year.
  • If there's one thing director Nimrod Antal knows it's how to shoot and pace action scenes. This movie is just filled with some great set pieces, great beats of humanity and characterization between action scenes- it's a film that keeps you on the edge of your seat. The film doesn't try to be anything more than it is, a B-movie action flick with an A-movie budget, and Antal just works wonders here.
  • I just love actor Danny Trejo and he makes a cameo here. Why? I'm sure it's because the film is produced by Robert Rodriguez and Trejo is starring in Rodriguez's upcoming movie, Machete. But yeah Trejo is just awesome and playes my favorite character in the movie. And I think I'm in love with Alice Braga. Ever since I saw here in the disappointing Repo Men movie, yeah I can't get enough of her and she's fantastic here as well, being the only woman in the movie and yet not only being able to keep up with the guys, but also showing them how its done.
  • Just like I always say, practical creature/monster effects are always better than cheap cgi effects. The predator costumes are just great, with a nice throwback to the original but still feeling fresh and updated.
  • Lastly, if you liked the original film, you'll love this one. There's just so many homages, so many references that any fan of the original will have a blast during the film picking out everything. Thank you dvds and repeat viewings!!

So yeah, there you have it. Predators is a great reboot/sequel to the classic 1987 film, and is a true throwback to all the great genre films of the 80's and 90's that modern cinema is sorely lacking. Listen to our upcoming podcast to hear my full review, but this one is a definite must watch.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

What I Think of: Un Prophète (2009)

Un Prophète is a 2009 French film directed by Jacques Audiard that won the Cannes Grand Prix award. The film focuses on a young delinquent, Malik El Djebena (Tahar Rahim) who lands himself into a six year jail sentence. He is fresh bait and soon catches the attention of a Corsican mob boss. He slowly gains access the the crime boss and does his bidding inside and outside of jail.

This is quite an interesting story about a young Arab man in France and his relationship with his fellow Arabs and with the Corsican mafia. Malik goes into prison scared and unknowing, and as he navigates through life within prison, you see him struggle with his identity and then grow into manhood. I liked the story but my issue with the film lies with the length. It was a very long film and you felt it. I can understand the character development part of it but I think there were parts that were not needed or could have been skimmed. It was still a good film nonetheless.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Issue Project Room: Steve Buscemi

About a month ago, Joshua and I were invited to an event held by the Issue Project Room, an organization that provides an open and versatile environment in which established and emerging artists conduct, exhibit and perform new and site-specific work without barriers. The event was Actor as Auteur, a brunch time conversation with Steve Buscemi with John Hockenberry as the interviewer and it was held at Bussaco restaurant in Brooklyn.

It was a great event with good food, good company, and a fascinating look at Steve Buscemi's work. I've always have been a fan of Buscemi's but I realized that I haven't seen a lot of his work and I'll have to change that. John Hockenberry was a great co-host and interviewer, as anyone would expect. He was funny and engaging while keeping the flow of the interview.

It was great to see these two successful individuals at this event remembering their roots and supporting the arts for an organization like the Issue Project Room. If you want to donate, please visit here.

Special thanks to Treva and Steve.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Fantastic Short Film Friday: The Bowler

And we are back with another weekly installment in our Fantastic Short Film Friday series, as we look to showcase films released in the "lesser" known form of cinema- the short film.

This week we have for you a 15-minute short documentary called The Bowler. Last week I showcased director Sean Dunne's first film, The Archive, and this week I'm bringing you his latest docu-short. It's the story of hustling and bowling, of the people in the background of society looking to make a buck slinging a ball, selling their soul pin by pin. Here's the synopsis:

Meet Rocky Salemmo. He’s a ramblin’ gamblin’ man. For the majority of his adult life Rocky has hustled bowling for a living. Here is his story. A short documentary about booze, broads and bowling.

Watching this film, I can't help but marvel at director's Sean Dunne's assuredness behind the camera, as he captures his huckster subject, a live version Bugs Bunny, and makes him endearing. I also can't help but wonder if Rocky Salemmo isn't a type of flea-market back-alley god, one that I pity yet admire, because damn if he isn't living his life the way he wants to.

To find out more information about Sean Dunne and his films, check my last post of, The Archive.

So sit back, relax, and try not to cry out as Rocky knocks down the pins to your heart, frame by frame.

The Bowler from Sean Dunne on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Movie Review: Killers (2010)

This 2010 action romantic comedy is directed by Robert Luketic (of Legally Blond, Monster-in-Law, 21, and The Ugly Truth fame)- so yeah all winners- and is the story of Jen Kornfeldt (Katherine Heigl) recently left by her boyfriend for being overly cautious. On a trip to Nice, France with her parents she meets an enigmatic and sexy (god I can't believe I'm writing this) young man named Spencer (Ashton Kutcher), a CIA agent with a license to kill. The pair begin a whirlwind romance which quickly leads to marriage. However when old enemies begin looking for Spencer, Jen has two choices, leave Spencer, or save his life.

I'm a sucker for these kinds of movies- action comedies with a sexy cast and hints of romance. The only problem is, these types of moves tend to be pretty awful. Okay I'm lying. They tend to be godawful. I may be one of only a handful of people who thought the trailers looked fantastic and wanted to see it. Judging by the movies poor box office performance, maybe there were less than a handful of us. To my brothers and sisters in arms I say this, "Guess what? Everyone else was right and we were way off." This film doesn't even deserve my traditional format for movie reviews.

Nothing works in this film and I'm stunned that director Robert Luketic keeps getting work. His movies have been progressively getting worse and I never thought he could reach the lows of J-lo's Monster-in-Law, but this film makes that one look like Casablanca. He must have some dirt on some film execs because there is no good reason why he should ever be allowed to direct another movie.

To be fair some of the shots in this film were quite beautiful. But the action scenes, the scenes the whole movie is based around were bland and at times incomprehensible. However, I thought the cast was quite good. Heigl is just beautiful even if she can't act particularly well, and Kutcher is actually a pretty good actor. I can see him playing like a younger James Bond type, a kind who gets all the girls, travels the world killing, and yet also appears vulnerable. Film producers, get to making that script happen.

So yeah, sure the cast is hot, the locales beautiful, but there really isn't anything here besides a mind-numbingly ridiculous plot, some shaky directing, a worse script and some truly terrible dialogue. I give this film a definite, "sneak out/I want my money back rating." Like how in basketball, when players getting blow-out score, it's called "garbage time." Killers is the equivalent of that. This is just "garbage time", something to fill the time just because it needs to be done and sadly, someone has to do it?

Leftovers - Conan The Barbarian: The Musical

I'm not going to lie- I think the original 1982 Conan the Barbarian movie starring the governator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is not only one of the greatest movies ever filmed, but also one of the greatest things ever created. Sure it's god-awfully cheesy and Arnold can't act his way out of his accent, but everything about it just clicks for me. I've watched it countless times and never imagined there could be anything better, anything more breathtaking. I was wrong. Like most things in life, the best and fastest way to make something better is make it into a musical. Jon and Al Kaplan have been turning films into musicals for sometime now, but I think they've reached their creative plateau with this one. The word epic should only be used to describe the greatest of concepts, the greatest of executions... and yes, this musical is truly epic. Check it out below and marvel at it's greatest because in the end all anyone ever wants is to crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Book Review: The Windup Girl by Paolo Baciqalupi

Publication Date: 2009 in US


Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen's Calorie Man in Thailand. Under cover as a factory manager, Anderson combs Bangkok's street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct, hoping to reap the bounty of history's lost calories. There, he encounters Emiko...

Emiko is the Windup Girl, a strange and beautiful creature. One of the New People, Emiko is not human; instead, she is an engineered being, creche-grown and programmed to satisfy the decadent whims of a Kyoto businessman, but now abandoned to the streets of Bangkok. Regarded as soulless beings by some, devils by others, New People are slaves, soldiers, and toys of the rich in a chilling near future in which calorie companies rule the world, the oil age has passed, and the side effects of bio-engineered plagues run rampant across the globe.

What Happens when calories become currency? What happens when bio-terrorism becomes a tool for corporate profits, when said bio-terrorism's genetic drift forces mankind to the cusp of post-human evolution? Award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi delivers one of the most highly acclaimed science fiction novels of the twenty-first century.

Joshua's Take: 4.5/5☆

Why I picked up the book: because it's winning every speculative fiction award, and I have enjoyed some of the author's previous work. Seriously check out his short story collection, Pump Six. It'll blow your mind.

There are some books that after reading the first 25-30 pages, a reader can sit back and go, "yeah this a damn entertaining read." You just know it, you feel it in your bones as the words fly by, you sitting alone with a Cheshire grin on your face. However, there also some times, far more rarely, some books that after just reading the first 5 pages a reader can sit back and go, "wow, this is amazingly well written. I'm about to embark on a really special journey here." Paolo Baciqalupi's The Windup Girl is such a book.

Winner of numerous awards including most recently the prestigious Hugo award, when I first sat down to read The Windup Girl I thought I was prepared- prepared for a dark dystopian story of a poor robotic windup girl and the world she lives in. What a joke. I wasn't prepared for anything that came. The Windup Girl is an amazingly well crafted read. It's dark, brutal, poetic, imaginative, both terrifyingly tragic and yet somehow hopeful and unlike most anything you've ever read. It's words just get under your skin, it's characters stand just outside your sight-line. You can smell the streets of dystopian Thailand featured in this book, you can see the stagnant and grimy air as people walk around doing anything to survive, because in the world of The Windup Girl, survival is the best anyone can hope for. It's entirely science fiction, a world of Steampunk and what many are now calling Biopunk (environmental and biotechnology science fiction). It's easy to see why this book has been nominated and has won so many awards, deservedly so, and yet as I closed the book, as I took out my bookmark and looked at the cover for a final time, lovingly caressing it, the one thought that kept popping up in my head was, "this is easily one of the best books I've read all year and I doubt I can recommend this book to most people. Who can I recommend this too?" Why did such thoughts swim around in my head? Because this is one damn uncomfortable read.

The story here is split into four main narratives: one of the calorie man spy in Anderson Lake, a white foreigner or farang, looking for a new strain of fruit so his company can further use it to subjugate humanity. Another in a fallen man from Malaya called Hock Seng, a yellow card, one refugees of the lowest of the low in Thailand who once had it all, but had it all taken away when his family, his tribe were wiped out in a religious cleansing. Another, a Thai hero and "whitshirt" named Jaidee who just wants his country to reach the heights he believes it deserves. He is like a blind avatar living in a kaleidoscope world. And lastly, the heroine, our one and only true hero in Emiko, the windup girl, a Japanese robot companion abandoned on the tepid and humid streets of Bangkok, with no owner, a toy, a being no one considers human, who is forced into prostitution by her new owner, a freak show in a freakier world. Who finds hope in the solace that there is a place for her kind, a world with no owners. All four narratives intertwine, as each character's world constantly collides with one another, changing each others futures and fortunes forever.

The one thing I can say about this book is that it isn't a nice read. If this were a film I think I would have turned and looked away numerous times. It's just has some truly unpleasant scenes, horrifyingly so, and yet it's prose is so captivating, it's tragedy so tragic that you can't look away and continue to read on. In the end you have to wonder if anyone really got what they deserved, because it's a world where all the characters are evil, although it's a more evil world that begets evil, and the only truly good, honest and hopeful character is the poor windup girl, and in the end, does she really get everything she deserves? There's just so much here, so many questions about humanity, about greed, about what it means to be a thoughtful and caring soul, about being human, so many things that will keep readers glued, keep them coming back to sentences, re-reading, just a damn amazing read, and one so brutal and honest that I'm sure many will be turned off, disliking it. That's fair. It's clearly not for everyone's tastes. But if you have an open-mind and a high tolerance for pain (I literally found myself sweating as I read sentences from time to time, the prose is just that invasive), then I think you will be greatly rewarded by one of the truly amazing works in recent speculative fiction. But all that brings me back to the original question I had after I had just finished with the book, "who can I recommend this too?"

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fantastic Short Film Friday: The Archive

And we are back with another weekly installment in our Fantastic Short Film Friday series, as we look to showcase films released in the "lesser" known form of cinema- the short film.

I'm going to make this post short and sweet. This week we have for you a 7-minute short documentary called The Archive. It's the story of a lifelong passion for music and collecting and is directed by Sean Dunne. Here's the synopsis:

Paul Mawhinney was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. Over the years he has amassed what has become the world's largest record collection. Due to health issues and a struggling record industry Paul is being forced to sell his collection.

This is the story of a man and his records.

Dunne has worked wonders and crafted a truly remarkable and moving tale of a man and his passions and the sadness sometimes of having to face reality. As a collector myself, well, this short really hit home.

I highly recommend people checking out Dunne's other shorts. To find out more information of the filmmaker and his other films go: here.

So as always sit back, relax, and let a lifelong love of music wash over you. Enjoy!!

The Archive from Sean Dunne on Vimeo.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Fantastic Short Film Friday: Oedipe (animation)

And we are back with another weekly installment in our Fantastic Short Film Friday series, as we look to showcase films released in the "lesser" known form of cinema- the short film.

This week we have for you a French animated short called Oedipe, a slight retelling of the classic Greek myth now told by Thierry Bleton, Frederic Caro, Renaud Madeline and Jonathan Perez. It has English subtitles so don't worry. Here's the official synopsis:

After consulting the oracle, Oedipus announces to his girlfriend that his destiny is to kill his father and marry his mother. How will Oedipus choose between destiny and freedom?

Since this is a French short, I couldn't find out much information about it or rather I could, but couldn't read the main website. Still, the short is a lot fun. It's nicely animated (looks a lot like the Disney Hercules style of animation- blocky characters right out of ancient Greek art), is a Greek myth so it's a tragedy (although slapstick and light-hearted) and it even has a musical number in the middle!! What more can you ask for?

If you can read French and want to find out more information about the short go: here.

So there you have, a school lesson told through animation and song. As always, sit back, relax and get ready to find some joy in whimsical tragedy.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Book Review: Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch

Publication Date: 2010 in US
Format: Mass Market Paperback


How can a sexy marketing manager join forces with an Alpha Centauri male in Armani to save the planet-using hairspray, a Mont Blanc pen, and rock n' roll? Easy...

She's Touched by an Alien

Marketing manager Katherine "Kitty" Katt steps into the middle of what appears to be a domestic dispute turned ugly. And it only gets uglier when the man turns into a winged monster, straight out of a grade-Z horror movie, and goes on a killing spree. Though Kitty should probably run away, she springs into action to take the monster down.

In the middle of the chaos a handsome hunk named Jeff Martini appears, sent by the "agency" to perform crowd control. He's Kitty's kind of guy, no matter what planet he's from. And from now on, for Kitty, things are going to be sexy, dangerous, wild, and out of this world.

Joshua's Take: 2.0/5☆

Why I picked up the book: because I love sci-fi and urban fantasy mash-ups and frankly the cover looks fantastic. I've wanted to read this book for a long time purely for the cover so to DAW, yeah, touche, good marketing.

They say a sucker is born every minute. Well I was born many minutes ago and it appears that I'm still an overall general sucker. I mean really, I should have known from the title, but then again, I'm a sucker.

Touched by an Alien is a mix of Twilight meets MIB. I'm a big fan of the MIB movies and well, I'm a guy so I don't really get the whole Twilight craze. However if anything this book has brought me closer to an understanding. This is the Twilight series for adults. Since this is for older readers, there are somewhat explicit sexual situations, lots of action and a heroine who is actually quite interesting instead of a shell like how Bella is written. There are also numerous references to how good-looking the alien guys are, I mean really good-looking and I mean a lot of references. I get it, this book isn't for me, it's not for anyone with a Y chromosome. I get it. But that's no excuse for repetitive and overall poorly structured pacing.

I have no problem when a novel wears its influences on it's sleeves, as in this case with classic B-movies and sci-fi cold war hysteria, but that's no excuse to literally repeat lines nearly every page. There must have been over 300 references to how good looking the guys are, 250 references to how the heroine Kitty is fighting the temptation to jump their bones, 200 references to swooning and 150 references to how Kitty is a modern independent and strong woman who is embarrassed by how cute she thinks everyone is. Again, I get it. This book is really not for me. It should have been shelved in the romance section of the bookstore and frankly that's also my fault since I shouldn't have just picked it up based on how nice I thought the cover looked.

What's frustrating about Touched by an Alien is that there's a really interesting plot here. Virtuous aliens battling parastic beings who can take over and be anyone, who's sole purpose is to eat people and to turn Earth into a literal hell- demonic aliens from who we get our "evil from the pits of hell" myths from. A fascinating heroine who is smart, courageous and brave enough to stand up for her fellow man instead of turning and running, who because of her courage gets initiated into this alien MIB-type organization. Teleportation, sonic guns, epic demonic battles- there's just so much to like here, such an intriguing plot. And its just all wasted on a really cheesy and sub-par romantic sub-plot that derails any type of momentum the story has or tries to have. Just a shame.

Again, this has all brought me a little closer to understanding the whole Twilight craze, how woman around the world can enjoy something that's not particularly well written but hits all the right romantic wish-fulfillment buttons for them. Hell, I like crap too. I mean I love me some sword and sorcery, swords and sandals, big guys fighting bigger monsters, saving the day and getting the girls, so who am I to judge right? Still, there was an interesting plot here, one that I truly believed would have been better suited and far more interesting if the romance sub-plot took a back seat, but then that would be a wholly different novel and one that perhaps wouldn't have been as financially successful. So yeah, it's getting great reviews from the women who read it so if you too are a woman and like your books with more romance than substance then by all means, Touched by an Alien is the perfect one for you. Man, what a terrible title for a book.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What I Think Of: Franklyn (2009)

This 2008 British film is written and directed by first time feature length film directer Gerald McMorrow, that while seemingly a dark sci-fi fantasy film, is really much more. Set between contemporary London and the dystopic Meanwhile City, Franklyn is split between 4 narratives. Ryan Phillippe plays Jonathan Preest, a masked vigilante searching for his nemesis on the streets of Meanwhile City, a monolithic fantasy metropolis ruthlessly governed by faith and religious fervor. Bernard Hill plays Peter Esser, a broken man of faith, searching for his wayward son amongst the rough streets of London's homeless. Sam Riley stars as Milo, a heartbroken thirty-something desperately trying to find a way back to the purity of first love. And lastly Eva Green stars as Emilia, a beautiful art student whose suicidal art projects are becoming increasingly more complex and deadly. As the narrative shifts between the real and imaginary worlds, McMorrow explores the complex relationships between fantasy, faith, and love.

I've been wanting to watch Franklyn for some time. I first saw stills of the beautiful Meanwhile City a year ago and thought the film was going to be a full-on masked vigilante fighting corruption in a religious run world, with visuals over-riding any plot, and cgi reigning supreme. Wow, how wrong I was. Still, while the film wasn't what I was expecting, it nevertheless was a very enjoyable watch. There are just so many themes explored during the film, so many visual cues, that it felt like it belonged to the french new wave sect of cinematic history. Here are some of my thoughts concerning Franklyn:

  • writer/director Gerald McMorrow should give half his pay-check to comicbook writer Allan Moore because Franklyn is so heavily inspired by Moore's V For Vendetta and Watchmen comics- the look, the feel, the costumes, the way the characters talk in the fantasy world of Meanwhile City. Moore's worlds have always appealed to me so the look of this film perfectly suits my tastes, but yeah, wow, when the film ended I had to look at the back of the dvd cover to see if it was based on a Moore property I had never heard of. I wonder if the producers got the same art director from the V for Vendetta movie.
  • Still, while the narrative in the world of Meanwhile City is the most visually stunning, the most arresting part of the movie- it is just 1 story out of 4, and the rest of the stories are entirely original and wholly ambitious. From the story of suicide as art, to the story of imaginary friendship and lost loves, I love how McMorrow balances all four narratives until they ultimately meet. Granted, while the story may be a bit to ambitious for it's own good, and the overall narrative does get a bit confusing, Franklyn is a wonderful mix of realism and fantasy, of truth and half-truths, and of delusion and obsession.
  • Ryan Phillipe's Rorschach-like performance as Jonathan Preest was pretty good, but the one who stole the movie for me was the beautiful and painfully flawed Emilia, played by the lovely Eva Green. Green always chooses such odd and unique roles that I always find myself captured by her performances. There are just so many nuances to her character Emilia, so much hurt that is sparingly and subtly explained, that for me Emilia is the one that holds the whole film together. It's her arc that transcends this movie from being too arty and unbearable, to thought-provoking and interesting.
  • This film is incredibly slow, I mean languidly so. I can see many turning the film off an hour in because it's narrative is so fragmented, it's storyline a bit too confusing, and there's little to no action as the plot appears to just be turning in circles. However, if you do stick it out until the end, I do believe the viewer will be rewarded with a film that will make them think.
  • Though I also believe that this film would have been better served as a novella or even a short story, rather than a 95 minute film. I don't know if there is enough story here to warrant a feature length film and that adds to a lot of the pacing issues I had with the film. Like I said it's slow, and you do feel a lot of time passing as you watch this one. So yeah, while I do feel the payoff is worth it, I just wish it didn't take so long to get there.
  • Lastly, while the concept is strange and the film does walk a thin line of perhaps being to arty sometimes, Frankly has a lot to say about art and religion, about fervor and understanding. And my god, the costumes are just beautiful in a haute couture kind of way that a lot of times I felt as if I was watching a decayed city hosting a fashion show. Just great.

While I'm not sure how I feel McMorrow is as a writer/director yet, I can say that he made a visually handsome film with a limited budget. He does have a nice eye for drama, but some of his editing choices and storyline pacing left me scratching my head. Still, I really did enjoy the film and would recommend it to anyone who has a bit of patience, who doesn't mind feeling confused for 60 odd minutes, and loves watching beautiful characters in run down worlds. Watching the trailer, Franklyn really isn't what you'd expect it to be, and the film is all the better for it.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

What I Think Of: Brick (2005)

Come one, come all as the music plays, it's time for an homage, this time in the form of classic detective novels and movies of a by-gone-era, this week I bring you the movie Brick. This 2005 neo-noir film is both written and the directorial debut of American filmmaker, Rian Johnson. Set right out of the pages of a hard-boiled detective novel, but with the setting in modern suburbia, Brick stars Joseph Gordon Levitt as Brenden Frye, a high school student who one days finds his ex-girlfriend Emily (Lost's Emilie De Ravin), lying dead in a storm drain. He takes it upon himself to solver her murder which brings him down down the drain to the dark highschool underbelly of drug kingpins, femme fatales and classic double and triple crossing. Can Brenden solve Emily's murder and will he be happy with the truths he finds along the way?

As anyone who listens to our podcast knows, I love me some Brick, I mean really love. It has everything a fan of 40's and 50's cinema and film-noir could ever want, it's influences just bleed off the celluloid film stock. Here are some of my thoughts concerning the film:

  • The plot, the characters, the dialogue all draw heavy inspiration from the greatest of detective novels and movies, especially those written by Dashiell Hammett. The characters in Brick feel like they’ve stepped right off the set of The Maltese Falcon, or The Thin Man series, or the pages of Red Harvest. And they’re high school students. Just brilliant. It's all wonderfully complex, a maze of dialogue and transparencies, a film that just gets better with each repeat viewing.
  • This is the first film where I stood up and took notice of Joseph Gordon Levitt and his acting prowess. He plays the beaten down detective role so well, the guy who lives in gray, who only sees the finish line and doesn't care how he gets there. He embodies the classic single determination of Sam Spade, the detective with a mouth that cashes more checks than it can afford!! Seriously beautiful stuff and JGL has never looked back, getting better with each film he's in.
  • The way the film is shot, the way the film looks is just sublime goodness. The way the colors look washed out, as if black and white are trying to push back the rainbow. It's dark hues, it's wonderful use of undefined blue, Brick is the perfect example on how to use color in a film-noir, a lot like in 1994's The Last Seduction which was also punishingly beautiful to watch.
  • I will say that the dialogue can be a bit off putting for those unfamiliar with crime films and how the characters speak- the slang almost appearing as if in a foreign language. However, the script does try to explain the most important of the slang words, while the others the viewer can fill in for themselves. However, if you're watching this on dvd, I recommend turning on the subtitles if you have a hard time following what the character's say. You'll thank me for that when it's over.
  • I love the fact that while everyone is tough and murder is the game, all the characters are still high school students who live at home. And while on the street everything breathes noir, at home all the characters lead a normal high school student/family life. It all just brings a wonderful added layering to the film.
  • As I mentioned before, this is director Rian Johnson's first film and what a film it is. His second film, The Brothers Bloom is just as good while many even find it better. Johnson just has an amazing ear for characters and since he writes all the scripts he directs he has full control, his vision is at the forefront of all his films and the world should be thankful for that. He gets what films are about and his films make every viewer understand that while Johnson is a director, he is also a lover of films. He has seen as much as you have, maybe even more, and he'd like to show you his spin, his take on film genre's, here with film noir's and with Bloom, silent films.
The females here are all fatales, the muscle all stupid, the drugs all cooked, and the innocents are long gone. This is a world where no character is right, no character is pure, a world of lost souls, fast talkers, and cuts and bruises. A classic world, my favorite world, it's all crime and noir here, so just sit back, enjoy your stay and try to jump when the shadows move.