Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Quick Note

Because life is full of unintentional comedy, my year-end post went up earlier today - went up incomplete. I still needed to finish two sections, so I pulled it. But that's not the embarrassing part.

No, the embarrassing part is that I actually did schedule a different post for today, but didn't change the date on the year-end entry. It would've involved two mouse-clicks to convert it to a draft, five to push it back to January.

In any case, I have some good news: the holiday review will go live in the next week or so, and I think you'll love my choice. Also, DJ is posting his own Year-End entry, which will most likely go up right after mine.

Sorry for the snafu! Happy New Year to all of you! I'll see you tomorrow with the first post of 2014!

And don't drink and drive! Take a taxi, or find a closet to sleep/have sex in!

Imposters #25 bonus edition - Grudge Match

What's really surprising is that they made two versions of this poster and released them together - as in, 20 feet away in the same subwsy statio nyou can see two wildly different images.

Okay sure, it kinda looks like a still image from the Fight Night series of boxing games, but that's okay. I like the gold lettering, even though I don't like a lot of the text.

For my part, I hate the second poster, as it robs what is presumably a movie about boxing of its vitality or competitive tension.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Great Moments in... Wilford Brimley's Life

Ah,... Hard Target! This 1993 action film is notable for many reasons. First, it comes from the time that Jean-Claude Van Damme would nearly replace Schwarzenegger and Stallone as the biggest action star. More importantly, it was John Woo's first Hollywood production. LA realized what a big international draw Woo was, and hoped to absorb some of the style of Hong Kong Cinema's finest auteur.

Of course, I also like to think of it as one of two contemporary films to use the premise of "The Most Dangerous Game." And while Surviving the Game would feature Ice T, Charles S. Dutton, and Rutger Hauer, HT had Lance Henriksen teaming with Arnold Vosloo to kill Yancy Butler's distressed damsel, and her protector/PI, who is called Chance. (yes, JCVD played a PI named "Chance")

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Reviewing with Others Pt. 65: Joshua Tree 1951: A Portrait of James Dean

My latest off-site review is up! This week, it's Joshua Tree 1951: A Portrait of James Dean, a visually-stunning movie that mixes real life and fictitious elements to depict the early LA days of the ill-fated actor, James Dean. You can read my whole review here.

The film provoked a lot of responses in me, most notably the out-of-nowhere gay sex scene that almost had me spitting out my coffee before I raced to Wiki to confirm that, yes, James Dean was bisexual. But the copious amounts of bare man-ass did not dissuade me, they served a story-appropriate role in this tightly-focused picture.

So much man-ass...

Friday, December 27, 2013

QftWo 12/23-12/29: Imposters #24 - American Hustle

How is it that we end up with a David O. Russell picture about the 1970's-'80's ABSCAM operation, but I look at its promo image and all I can think about is Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights:

Is it just me? I recognize that my response is solely down to a vibe I'm getting from the graphic. As you can see below, the BN poster was completely different:

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Imposters #23, bonus edition - The Wolf of Wall Street

Martin Scorcese films are kind of a big deal. For a very long time, the man has not worked in a genre outside of Drama, but he is widely considered one of the best and most consistent American directors of the last 50 years or so. It's a big deal every time he makes a new movie, and for good reason: whether you "like" one of his movies or not, they are always well-made, with many elements to commend them.

And so I've been seeing a lot of posters for The Wolf of Wall Street lately. The one I saw three weeks ago filled me with conflicted feelings.

I kind of hate it. For one thing, it doesn't actually look like Leo up there. That could be anybody. Also, other than "huge-ass party, people be havin' fun," it doesn't say all that much. You have to sort of look closely to figure out that it's set in the 80's (I'm wrong, it's the 90's), and I suspect that will be lost on the younger people who see this promo.

And yet at the same time, this graphic is terribly different, and it does - if you know anything about the criminal it's based on - fit the story, and its themes. I just think it's not about the dude that's singing. Maybe it's about the party? Or it's 30 years in the life of a California estate's pool?

I guess you can say that I like it as a picture, but not as a promotion. Although I can imagine it being a smart choice for this huge image that's so busy, I am still amazed by the lack of info - title, lead, director, novel writer and screenplay adapter, as well as release date. With Marty named twice!

Calm down, Mr. Scorcese, you already won.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Hunger Games/Running Man Musical

During this holiday season, which can be so stressful for so many - some people are alone or cannot be with their loved ones, others have serious problems that keep them enjoying the season, and everyone gets on edge as they struggle with the dreaded torments of holiday season shopping and travel.

So what better time to curl up with the imitated voice of an action star who looks at a modern franchise that feels eerily-familiar?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Reviewing with Others Pt. 64: No Look Pass

My latest indie screener experience is No Look Pass. It's about Emily Tay, a first-generation American who plays for Harvard University's Women's Basketball team. The documentary offers an intimate and revealing look into Tay's life, focusing on her fear that her family will learn of her lifestyle, as well as her hope to play in the pro leagues.

My review of NLP went live today and you can read it here at Man, I Love Films.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Imposters #22, bonus edition - Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Idris Elba is just the best, so I can't not throw a little love his way. Also, I like the poster design a lot.

Isn't that nice? It's got a great, strong retro style. And I love the way color is used, divided into sections, highlighting the negative space and the text, in addition to its subject. Red, yellow, and black with a fringe of green and careful use of white in the corner are easy on the eyes.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Dec-March Schedule Update

Dear readers, be ye friends or strangers, here's the skinny:

It looks like I will have to cancel my holiday movie due to time constraints. It was set to go up on the 24th, and things might change, but I wouldn't bet it on it, at the moment. Sometime in January, is looking more likely... However, I have three bits of good news that easily balance it out.

1) You may know that I took a break from doing "proper" Question entries a bit ago (e.g., why did Luke drop his lightsaber when he beats Vader?). Those will return by or before Spring, 2014. In their place, I've had movie poster critiques - oh-so-cheaply "asking" what's wrong or right with these graphic ads. And, as of tomorrow, you'll get two poster entries per week.

So, if you like those posts... good on both of us, I guess.

2) Between the extra material and my Sunday off-site reviews, this means there will be something here almost every day for the rest of 2013. Saturdays and (probably) the 24th, aside, that is. They're all ready to go already, and I tried to save a lot of entertainment for this very stressful time of year.

3) I decided that I will not take my "blogcation" in January. I will truck along, at least 4x/wk, until mid-March, at the very least. At that pace, this site's 5th year anniversary in April will really be extra-special.

Thank you for reading, and I hope the ride is fun for us all...

Thaddeus/Half A Film Student

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Youtube Free Movies Update

It's been a couple of years since I published a pair of write-ups on Youtube's selection of free movies. A lot of people - even 'Net-savvy ones - simply didn't know that the video giant offered full-length features for free. And I do so enjoy finding legal ways to check out new things...

So, the other day, I decided to review those old links and see how things had progressed. I was not thrilled by what I found. So not thrilled that I won't provide direct links to every film I've pointed out below.

Bluntly, a lot of the movies that had been available are now gone. I am not sure whether it was from a change in rights, or if Youtube always intended to rotate its offerings, but I was saddened to see that you can't follow the link I posted for Hayao Miyazaki's infectiously-energetic The Castle of Cagliostro. It and Buena Vista Social Club are listed as "Private." And Ghostbusters isn't available in my country, apparently - I sure hope The Maldives enjoy it, though!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

QftWo 12/16-12/22: Imposters #21 - Anchorrman 2

The interesting thing about the posters I've seen for Anchorman 2 is that they trade really heavily on the popularity of the original Will Ferrell picture. Now, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy did make over $90M on a $26 million budget.

I guess what strikes me just as oddly is that this is a sequel to a film that came out 9 years ago - although the answer is right there in its box office take. Seriously, the first installment came out in 2004, and I have no idea why they'd wait so long to release the second. Oddly enough, though I never saw the original movie, I knew exactly what the annoyingly-obtuse poster below was for:

Monday, December 16, 2013

Great Moments in... Jackie Chan

Over a decade ago, I was sitting down with a girlfriend trying to explain to her why I loved Jackie Chan films so much. The woman I was dating had no love of punch-'em-up films, no familiarity with US-made brawlers like The Warriors and Bloodsport...

So how was I going to explain the appeal of Mr. Chan's work? What would I use to display his monkey-like climbing skills (it wasn't called Parkour at the time)? The way he'd engage 4 attackers at once? Or the way that he would inventively use anything in the environment - a chair, a desk, or hanging laundry - to give his fights so much ingenuity, humor, and grace?

Luckily enough, the day my love of Chan came up was also a day that one of his films was on cable at that exact time, so instead of telling her what it's like, I got to show it all in one great scene. Specifically, this scene:

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Reviewing with Others Pt. 63: The 99%: Occupy Everywhere

First, let me warn you all that I have a lot of entries analyzing posters and I will exceed my 4-per-week schedule to include some good material and clean out old business before starting the new year.

Second, my latest indie screener experience is The 99%: Occupy Everywhere and you can read it here at Man, I Love Films. Check it out, and I hope you enjoy what I've written.

Friday, December 13, 2013

QftWo 12/9-12/15: Imposters #20 - Thor: The Dark World

I wish I had more positive things to say about this stand-up for the Thor sequel. To its credit, this actually is a nice image, with the god-appropriate weather effects...

But it's still so bland, believing it needs to do no more than show us a nice picture of Mr. Hemsworth without telling us anything about his latest adventure. The visual is great, but why is he bringing the lightning? Who is he fighting in the midst of a storm?

Sigh, I can't really find the energy to say anything more about it, especially since the people responsible couldn't...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Bill Shatner Remixed Hilarious Gem

Honestly, I was a little conflicted at the end of last month. I found some nice Bill Murray and Great Moments In clips, but I also wanted a Fan-made Gem that would be guaranteed to leave people in stitches. I wasn't certain that I would have a real crowd-pleaser - until a few days ago, when I was directed by Chris Sims (he's been mentioned here before) to a sweet, sweet video of William Shatner.

From the context, it was behind-the-scenes footage that Mr. Shatner shot while filming Star Trek V: The Undiscovered Country The Final Frontier (thanks, DJ!). As even casual Trek fans may know, Bill is given to waxing philosophically, often with purple prose. But rather than simply mock Bill's words, the creators of this fine youtube video took the best and most insane statements and mixed it into a great, danceable song. It's got a retro-disco vibe that would make Daft Punk smile.

Let's take a look, keeping in mind that your laughter will likely be considered disruptive of the workplace:

Monday, December 9, 2013

Id-iology Director's Next to Preview in London, 12/19

First in July, then in September, I have promoted Will' Terran's forthcoming film, The Twisted Death of a Lonely Madman. And with good reason - I really enjoyed Mr. Terran's first film, Id-iology, even though it was a very difficult movie. While some critics would be inclined to dismiss the work - because it dealt with some ugly topics and was smarter than they were, is my guess - I embraced it.

So I am very happy today to say that Terran's next film is complete and there will be a preview of it in London next week. If I were going to be anywhere in Europe this month, I would be all over this, so please go in my stead.

And how can I not be intrigued when I go to the movie's official site and read this synopsis:
Adam hasn’t left his flat in six months for fear of being attacked. Creating conversational videos of his favourite movie star Starlet Maddinson has kept him just about the right side of sane over that time. Just about. One day a straightforward encounter causes Adam’s worst fears to come true when a malevolent psycho begins a campaign of intimidation and intrusion into Adam’s home. As the world shrinks around him and the company of Starlet Maddinson’s image turns on him, reality blurs with nightmare to tear Adam’s world apart.
The London Preview for tTDoaLM is taking place Thursday, the 19th of December, 8pm at the Roxy Bar and Screen. The movie is 82 minutes long. The director (Mr. Terran) and lead actor (Stewart O'Reilly) will be joined by other members of the production for a post-screening Q&A. Check out the Facebook event page for the preview:

Please go, gentle readers, and let me know what you think...

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Reviewing with Others Pt. 62: How Do You Write a Joe Schermann Song

My latest indie screener experience is How Do You Write a Joe Schermann Song. It's about a composer/pianist who finds his life turned upside down when he gets the big off-Broadway break he's been waiting for at the same time that he meets his one true muse at an audition. The problem - because there's always a problem - is that his live-in girlfriend is also an actress, singer, and dancer.

I liked many things about HDYWaJSS? My review will be published today at noon, EST, and you can read it here at Man, I Love Films.

[Sorry, it took me until 1:15 Eastern to get the right link up. It has been fixed now!]

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Bill Murray on Stern Astoundingness

This is a reasonably-lengthy interview that Howard Stern conducted with Mr. Murray some time ago. Bill is his usual charming self, mixing playfulness and candor - as seems to be his wont.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

QftWo 12/2-12/8: Imposters #19 - Nebraska

In this week's analysis of promotional material, we come to the poster for Alexander Payne's latest film. It is both nice and sucky at the same time. While I like the color scheme and layout in theory, it doesn't tell us anything about the film. It might have to do with the state of Nebraska, and is just a white on black profile pic of a man with thinning hair and glasses. The guy might be wearing a tie or some form of dress shirt.

Picture me rapt!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Reviewing with Others Pt. 61: Magic Valley

This was supposed to go up yesterday, but something kinda big came up. It took me a little more time, but I'm happy with my viewing experience, as well as the review itself.

And why not? I got very lucky in choosing to watch Magic Valley, a surprisingly-strong debut picture by Jaffe Zinn. If you want to learn what I liked about it, you can read my review here at Man, I Love Films.

Trolling Tom Cruise Just for Cheap News

So a few weeks ago, I stop in a grocery store on my way to a party, and I look at the newsstand. Sadly, this was the cover that I saw first:

For a long time, I've bent over backwards to not disparage Tom Cruise. I will reserve the better part of my logic for another day, but some of my attitude is based on the idea that I'm a good comedian and Tom represents a soft target in all the worst ways. Tom is good-looking, wealthy, and successful, all of which attract jealousy and a desire to see the guy fail. His public persona may grate on many, but it is largely positive, and I know that's deathly annoying for many people in this messed-up, ever-more cynical time...

More importantly, Mr. Cruise is the high profile face of a religion that's very unpopular. For my part, everything I've heard on the topic, and I really, really don't like what I've heard. At the same time, though, all religions sound kinda crazy and it's wrong to treat people differently for their (non-violent, non-discriminatory, non-abusive) religious beliefs.

Fortunately, none of that has anything to do with today's news. In case you didn't click on the image and read the text in the lower-right corner: Tom Cruise has a defamation case in court right now. That's when one person sues another for making public claims that could damage someone's reputation, livelihood, etc. The suit is against publishers who speculated that the actor has been a bad parent to his daughter, Siri. The suit is for $50 million.