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.