Sunday, September 30, 2012

I'm With Uproxx on Arnie's Commentary Tracks

Last November, Uproxx wasn't sure if they were posting bona fide clips of the Total Recall DVD with a new commentary track by everyone's favorite action hero, Arnold Schwarzenegger. I remembered this news when it came out (I think other sites ran their article), and I stumbled on it again yesterday.

I have a full week's posts coming up, but I wanted to put this vid up, regardless. It's hilarious; I may seriously try to rent the DVD so I can confirm all this.

The brilliant thing about this is that Arnold apparently spends most of his time narrating the action on-screen. There's not a whole lot of "this day we woke up at 4 AM and worked 'til 10 PM," or "I was told my role was a construction worker, so I talked to a few." It's more like "here I'm walking up the stairs and you can see me look backwards because I hear a sound; I wonder what it is."

I don't have a super-high opinion of Total Recall. Since Uproxx's clip is embed-disabled and mature-rated (requiring sign in to Youtube), I'll just show you the clip for his Terminator 3 commentary. It does feature some genuine, appropriate commentary, but his approach to the whole thing is still... unexpected.

Read on to see the rest:

Saturday, September 29, 2012

End of September Thoughts and Thought-Like Things

So the month is just about done. As predicted, I broke my monthly hit count record by about 3,000 site hits. In short, I'm proud and flattered. I pushed past 350 total posts, but I chose not to celebrate it like before. I just have my sights set on #400. Maybe I'll take time out for that...

I'll have some news for this blog soon - change is a-comin'. You may have a chance to get me in different formats and such. I could end up posting 30 times in October, for all I know; and 13 of those might wind up as reviewing with others entries. I've been busy, but not just on this site....

Trust me, October's gonna be very exciting and different for Net-flixation.

Still, I think I'll stick with once a week Fan-made Gems, Questions, and (most of all) Reviews. I will try harder to cover more films here, not just the Indie reviews at Man, I Love Films. That's gonna be easier as some pictures have come out that I really want to share with you:

Friday, September 28, 2012

Question for the Week of Sept 24-30: Nic Hilarious Cage

Why, Stolen, why?

Yeah, that's the Question for this week. Have there been many unneccesary movies made in the past? Yes. It's to be expected by now. But the image above is so... funny, ridiculous, mockable - I simply have to highlight it, even before looking into the deeper confusion it represents. Seriously, look at that up there; it's insane.

And here's the trailer:

It's not that a movie like this has to not exist, it's just that audiences already got a picture called Taken, starring Liam Neeson. It came out in 2008, and has a sequel, (the brilliantly-titled Taken 2) coming out this year. Here's the basic plot:
A retired CIA agent travels across Europe and relies on his old skills to save his estranged daughter, who was kidnapped on a trip to Paris to be sold into prostitution.
And here's the trailer for Neeson's original film:

According to the reviews I read or heard, it's a decent action/thriller, if you're looking for a revenge story where that just-perfectly-right-and-yet-gritty-right guy destroys a group of unambigously-evil people doing awful things. What I gleaned from all that is that I wasn't going to see a real story about a character; I'd be watching (basically) justice-porn.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Reviewing with Others, Pt. 21: Searching for Sonny

I watched Searching for Sonny, an indie comedy/thriller. It was a great, fantastic, funny-as-hell ride. My thorough review goes up here at 9AM EST, at Man, I Love Films. Go there to learn more, and enjoy!

Half a Film Student

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hulu's "Death Memo"

Yes, I've broken the 350 post mark, the highlight of any blogging career, surely. But I don't want to spin my wheels for a while - I just wanna get to it. You can read the big news if you just follow this link. Because you might be lazy, I'll paraphrase it for you also:
This is what may happen to Hulu.
Basically, some of the owners of Hulu are in conflict with each other. Disney on one side, Fox on the other, with ABC (and other parties) adding some more tension and goals to the proceedings. Among the changes being considered:
  • taking Hulu to the "tv everywhere" model, where you'd have to have a valid cable subscription in order to watch regular old tv shows on Hulu;
  • Fox and ABC reducing the amount of content that Hulu can host, even if that material is available on their own websites;
  • increasing the number of commercials in the typical Hulu broadcast, by up to 4 extra ads.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Romney Romantic Comedy Posters

I really looked forward to today's Fan-made Gem - until I found one that was even better. But the last thing I want is to have a big political argument here. There's no point in getting into some sort of social debate on a film site - it's not just divisive, it's off-topic.

Today, I'm just highlighting another site that loves movies, and was inspired to create something, something artistic because of them. In this case, we have the fantastically-named site, Rom Com.  It's a tumblr that photoshops Mitt Romney onto the covers of many romantic comedies. It's a simple idea, but it's used incredibly well.

A straight-talking billionaire says exactly what a group of lined-pocket supporters want to hear, but what he doesn’t know is that the other 47% of the country is listening.
Now, if you want political messages or criticism, the posters all have a phony plot description, like the one above. Occasionally, they read like they're just attacks; some are actually solid criticism.

All of them are at least a little funny. The one below, for example:

An orator billionaire declares his love for country and promises to restore America’s promise without committing to any details.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Reviewing with Others, Pt. 20: The Sacred Science

When I say "life is good," I'm wrong: it's much, much better than that. I not only broke 5k hits for a month, I'm heading straight toward 7k. I'm also about to hit my 350th post, and I've nearly got 200 combined reviews on the site. Everything's coming up perfect! But enough bragging - on to the post...

I watched The Sacred Science, an indie documentary about 8 people on a journey to the Amazon. They're all chronically-ill, and they want to try the natural, holistic medicine carried out by shaman who live in the jungle. tSS was well-shot, hopeful, and compelling. No joke: 5 people get cured, 2 don't, and 1 dies.

I liked The Sacred Science quite a bit; it's a smart doc with a really interesting subject. Read my review over at Man, I Love Films, if you want to learn more (which you totally should). It goes up at 9:00 AM EST. Enjoy, everyone!

That's all for this week, nameless/faceless web surfers. I'll come back at ya next week with another 4 posts; they will all kick ass.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Why I Dislike Modern Movie Marketing Images

Let me put my point up-front for once: many modern movie posters - and especially their DVD covers - are disappointing. Big simple pictures of the lead characters have become pretty common. I get the feeling that it's marketing as psychology instead of advertising that's still an artistic expression.

Does that make sense? Posters and box covers are generally paintings, drawings, photos, or something like pop art (see left). They are supposed to build interest for a film, telling you its title and/or the people involved in making it; for cinema distribution, it's gotta have a release date. Simple, right?

But filmmakers don't go to the trouble of producing a picture to settle for bad or unsuccessful promotion; often, the director isn't even involved in promotional decisions. Every executive producer wants something that'll work, that'll sell. So they hire graphic designers or ad/marketing teams; those are the people are supposed to create something unique and effective.

A movie itself should be an artistic effort - and the same goes for the image outside a movie house, or on the DVD case. So why do so many rely on posters that feel like unambitious, cheap shilling?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Question for the Week of Sept 17-23: Best Dumb Moment Ever

What's a completely stupid moment from a movie you really liked?
The very end of The Untouchables. Over the years, I've still been able to appreciate early De Palma, but that's been tempered by noticing huge problems in his movies.

I must've been watching the screen way too closely. Funny enough, my eyes were peeled because I was so pulled in by great cinematography, performances, dialogue, and story. I certainly loved it, and I may still (it's been ages since I saw it last) - but I was flat-out confused and disappointed by things I noticed.

There are many - Untouchables is first surprisingly, then astoundingly sloppy - but the worst, of course, happens during Al Capone's trial, the scene that caps the film. Having discovered jury tampering, Kevin Costner (at his coolest) coerces a judge to "do the right thing," and keep the trial going. As the score swells, we finally see DeNiro's Capone lose his cool, lashing out at everyone around him. Wow.

So what's the problem?

Earlier, Al told Agent Ness that he's "nothing but a lot of talk and a badge." That was a super-fun scene, which I still like very much; it's well put together. And, honestly, I do sometimes say to people "you got nuh-thing! You don't got-ah-thiiiing!" Try it now, you'll like it.

Skip to where the new jury's about to come in - which is a big problem, btw, since the new folks missed all the earlier evidence and testimony and thus can't decide jack. Capone's lawyer decides to switch his client's plea from "Not Guilty" to "Guilty" - which is a massive f--king problem, because you've actually got to discuss that with your client first.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Bacon Number Search

Every now and then, you have to tackle something, not because you're very interested in it, but because it's popular. And so we come to Google's "bacon number" search.

Last Thursday, the website of a certain Washington newspaper was at the front of a minor flood of articles and public attention to some tech/cinema news.  Some google devs added a new shortcut to Google's search function: just type the words "bacon number" and the name of a celebrity, and you'll basically get the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon answer for that celebrity.

Do you not know what Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon is? Wow, unless you're foreign, I'm shocked. Well, let's do this quickly: this starts almost 20 years ago (no joke), when K-Bake did an interview. In it, he said that he'd either (a) worked with everyone in Hollywood or (b) worked with so many people, that he had worked with everyone in Hollywood by proxy. Mr. Bacon was proven right.

Within months, an online newsthread debuted a game inspired by the comment. When played by two people: I name an actor, and then you tell me which actors and movies connect Bacon to the actor I named. So, an answer sounds like, "Alan Arkin starred with X in Y, who starred with Z in A, who starred with Kevin Bacon in B."

Easy-peasy. Even in the 90's, you'd seldom need 5 actors to connect any actor with Mr. Bacon; I kid you not, he's that prolific. And honestly, he's a fine actor - I've never had reason to be disappointed that he was starring in a film.

This was, of course, the 5th name I tried.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Honest Trailers: Hunger Games

This month has been great. On a personal level, I've made some nice advances in the jobs - yes plural - that I hold. I've also had a lot of fun. And after a small drop below 4k hits for August, I've almost beat last month's hit count - less than half-way through September! Rock the f on...

In the actual post part of this post, we come to: The Honest Trailers folks, and their latest work. They made this video in August, actually, but I just haven't had a chance to add this clip until now; I've been super-busy.

First, I should note that I haven't read The Hunger Games books, nor seen the movie. And I don't intend to, as my review of Battle Royale makes clear that this story has already been done before - and beautifully, perfectly.

Still, I did get a good laugh from this clip. I was shocked, since the story elements that were removed for the movie sound like a big deal, and I would've been disappointed by the loss; some is the sort of stuff that really adds to character, and other things removed go to the basics of the movie's world. Also, what the hell is up with their outfits?

I hope you enjoy it and get a good laugh, too. Thoughts? They really should've explained all the factions, shouldn't they? And these folks should actually look hungry, right?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Reviewing with Others, Pt. 19: Id-iology

I can't tell you how happy I was to watch Id-iology. The director got in touch with me and sent me a screener, along with a hand-written note saying that he wanted me to keep and enjoy the disc.

Although this was a tremendously classy move, it didn't influence my opinion. And it didn't need to, since Id-iology was a challenging and smart piece that really made great use of its characters, theses, and premise. It wasn't the easiest film I've ever watched - it's more Cronenberg than Chris Columbus, if you follow, but it was engaging and rewarding.

You can read my full review at Man, I Love Films. It'll go live at 9:30 A.M., EST. Id-iology won't be available on DVD until later this year, but I will post again when it is up, and I suggest you check it out. It's fine food for thought, and a solid actor's showcase.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Question for the Week of Sept 10-16: Indy's Last Crusade Plan

What was Walter Donovan's plan in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade?
There's a charactor actor named Julian Glover. I know him from Crusade. And as the most competent admiral in The Empire Strikes Back. He's at the 2:25 mark of a great, great scene:

Know the guy now, right? I guess Lucas saw him as a villain - first, the shields on the rebel base, then the holy grail. Don't worry, I'm sure Mr. Glover is a nice guy...

I had problems with Last Crusade. It was my second-favorite of the series, until I rewatched all three a decade ago; my opinions changed. Honestly, the third installment is full of mistakes - continuity, editing, bad choices... Yet, if I let myself think about the plot issues, though, this fun popcorn flick gets really iffy.

I could do a full review, but let's just ask: in Last Crusade, what is the villain's plan for our hero? If you just spell it out, it gets pretty incompetent less than halfway through; after that it just spirals into complete stupidity.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Recommended: Super-Hero Film Reviews

I haven't done a Recommendation post in ages, and now feels like a good time to mix things up a bit... Surprises let you know I care, right?

I promote other reviewers a bit here and there, sure, but not often. Now, I'm boosting two for a second time. For expert opinions on super-hero movies, see the pair I backed for their work on the Batman franchise. They recapped the story of each movie, reviewing scenes, characters, and themes as they went. It was actually worth surfing a comic book-focused website to read their thoughts.

After they covered TDK, Dave Uzumeri and Chris Sims went on to Blade, then the Superman series. They're still going at it now, tho Dave had to sit out the current franchise - the X-Men series. I'm sure Dave will be back after his substitute and Sims finish X: O: Wolverine and X: First Class.

Part of the pleasure is their style: they alternate paragraphs, going back and forth in their points and with each other. Every review ends with three extra sections - High Points, Low Points, and Final Thoughts. It's a conversation between two friends, full of great jokes, digs at each other and (best of all) valid, smart, informed film criticism.
David: Again, just like with the Donner movies, so many individual parts [of Superman Returns] are so great. It's like a $500 Lego set put together by a one-year-old. All the individual pieces rule, and there are plans and instructions that could get you to a good movie, but instead they're all thrown together in the wrong configuration.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Tron Legacy Review - boring & dumb, sweet music

Tron: Legacy, aka Tron 2.0, came out around X-Mas 2010. It was a much-hyped, long-awaited blockbuster, a seemingly sure-fire hit sequel - even though it came 28 years after its predecessor. Sadly, it was a massive let-down, despite a ton of quality special effects, art design, and a soundtrack I loved instantly.

Let me get a few things out of the way:

  • Rotten Tomatoes rates this a 50%, while Metacritic gives it 49% (but on fewer reviews), so it's not just me. I listened to my favorite critics at the time this pic came out, and it seemed lousy. I only caught it because I was sick one day and it was on Netflix Instant.
  • I like Jeff Bridges and Olivia Wilde a lot, and I hoped this'd be an excellent movie.
  • I don't place Tron on a pedestal. It is at times dull, has problems with pacing, flow, and logic. Yet 1982's Tron was incredibly unique and creative, had clearly-defined bad guys, and the fx were great for the time. It was respectable - more for what it tried to do than the result.
Tron: Legacy's problems are common to modern pictures, a 1-2 punch of awful, and they're strong here. First, the internal logic is pathetic/insane. Second, the characters are either (1) poorly-defined, (2) painfully hammy, (3) around for 4 seconds or (4) completely uninteresting.

The result is an emotionless, uninteresting Tron 2 - a dud with dialogue that's just pointless. Well, wait, the dialogue does advance the story, but it does so in a forced way that makes no sense and is boring. So I suppose there is a point, but it's a bad one.

The story, briefly: Kevin Flynn, Bridges' protagonist from the first movie, is long-missing, but sends a message to his kid. Stupidity runs in the family, so he's also magically transported to the electronic universe programs live in. The Child of Flynn (I love typing that) searches for his father, ends up fighting a tyrannical dictator and many CGI action sequences.

This basic story description gives a superficial set of plots that carry no weight or reality. Much like Batman Begins, Flynn's company EnCom is "owned" by his kid, Sam - even though the 20-something (played by Garrett Hedlund) shows no business aptitude, much less concern for the Co. He's just a fun-loving, base-jumping, prank-playing rebel who's also a trust fund baby.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Unscripted Scenes Supercut, Batman's Fears

Well, the title says it all. There's really no need for me to write much more. All I can say is that I suspected maybe half of these movie moments as being ad-libbed. Others, however, I would not have guessed. Some people got the gift of improv and some don't. Click below to see some of the most impressive examples of actors tossing the script out the window with great results.

So is it too soon to do yet another post about Batman? I've had so many over the last few months. I might even need a tag for the guy, but you can always just type "Batman" in the search box on the right. Anyway, the College Humor crew put out a new funny Batman vid. I really liked it, and I think you will, too. Enjoy:

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Reviewing with Others, Pt. 18: Ecstasy of Order

My latest Indie Spotlight review is Ecstasy of Order. It's a documentary about the search for the best Tetris player on the planet. I like the Russian creation a lot - even though I suck at the video game, I'm great at it in the real world (e.g., packing, closets).

I had a fun time watching this movie, and I invite you to read my review, which will go live at 9:30AM EST at Man, I Love Films.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Question for the Week of Sept 3-9: Modern Movie Trends

What would I change most about modern movie trends?
Wow. Well, some Question entries are long, backed-up with a lot of thought and argument to support my opinion. I'm inclined to support my thoughts so you know where I'm coming from and why. But 2012 is a whole new year, even if it's sort of old by now - and I don't need to write as if my every idea is judged by the Gods of Good Taste.

This time out, it's clean and simple:
  1. Movies wouldn't always be about male leads; men and women would truly share the lead spot, and women would get more leading roles that are fully-developed and not as "women who are defined by men."
  2. There would be more racial/ethnic/whatever diversity in films. There would be fewer Tyler Perry-style movies "for minorities," because minorities would appear more often in everything.
  3. Remakes would be less common, carefully chosen to ensure the new director/writer has a real vision for a way to "make it their own."
  4. Remakes would not suddenly change the locale from some foreign country to the good ol' USA, nor make the lead an American for no reason other than appealing to US audiences.
  5. Remakes of foreign films would be managed by the foreign directors that made them in the first place, and those directors would have a lot of control of the project. OR, in the (preferable) alternative, audiences would become more accustomed to reading subtitles, so we would actually watch the original picture...