Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Harry Potter vs. Skywalker

I was lucky enough to have someone send me this link yesterday, and it is so much fun! About halfway through the vid, I realized that the person who sent me this deserves like a month of ice cream on me, or maybe just a whole lot of crepes and wine. This Fan-made Gem was posted two days ago, yet the RackaRacka crew have already gained over 2 million hits for their video entitled "Harry Potter VS Star Wars."

In terms of production values, editing, and smart directorial choices, this clip is a treasure. It neatly showcases what some clever and inventive fans can do with a few great ideas, a camera, some fx software, and a whole lot of inspiration. In both concept and execution, RackaRacka has exceeded all expectations. In short, they earned my respect, and they deserve yours. I hope you all enjoy what you're about to see:

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Question for the Week of Apr 28-May 4: Awful Villain Motives

What's the crummiest villain motive you can think of?
There are lots of different ways to answer this question. And I can think of so many shoddy antagonists, from both B-films and big-budget pix... But I have a place in my heart for a certain Bond film - a place of despise and contempt.

GoldenEye was supposed to be a huge game changer. The Bond franchise sort of petered out with Timothy Dalton. So it was a big deal that the filmmakers finally got their hands on the person who had been the fan-favorite to take over after Roger Moore - Pierce Brosnan. Y'know the guy who would've taken the job if only CBS hadn't held him to his contract for Remington Steele.

I liked a few things about GoldenEye, but it was like getting a shoddy version of a hoped-for birthday present. I had big problems with several parts of it, and I felt no joy when the end credits rolled. The puns were back, which I wasn't thrilled about. So was Bond's knack for screwing everyone he works with and lying about being a decent guy.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Great Moments In... Classic Noir Flirtation

I love The Big Sleep so much! It's been a favorite of mine for longer than I care to admit. Obviously, I should have read the book by now, but many of my friends know what a sucker I am for Bogart and Bacall films - I consider a crime that only four were ever made...

This scene doesn't involve any of their legendary chemistry, but it was one of my favorite moments from a movie that is full of favorite moments for me.

The only thing I find objectionable here: girls with glasses are f--king great! She looks fine with specs or without. Hell, I even like her outfit...

Or maybe you'd prefer this scene, which is overflowing with double entendre:

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Imposters #47: Oculus

Oculus has a solid portrait-style poster - the image is hard to see, which makes it inherently creepy, and since The Ring we've all known pale girls are terrifying, so...

No seriously, we have a young teen seeming very scared, while an even younger boy hides behind her back. Both of them are looking at something that scares them.

The widescreen poster looks worse, of course. It uses negative space well, but the image of the mirror is cut off, which definitely limits the information imparted to the viewer. The kids remain compelling, but the pic loses all confidence.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Our 5th Year Anniversary!


Today is basically like half of this scene.

Confession time: I wrote most every April post two months ago (& 50/50 on March, really). I've looked forward to today. And, if you read my prior anniversary entries, you know I expected this blog to go for three years, tops... But labors of love can make us aspire to try to do better, to give more, and to accomplish as much as we can with our limited time. And isn't love - of writing, of film, of people - what this is all about? Isn't most everything about that, in the end?

So this is a special day for me, and I hope it's special for whoever reads this.

This anniversary finds me in similar, yet very different, circumstances than at the start of Year 4. I recently moved (just like last year), which made it impossible to keep a very rough draft of my Serenity/Iron Sky review from going up two weeks ago. I passed out from exhaustion before hitting the "save as draft" button.

Yet I'm busier, with more social events straining my time. And I've worked crazy-long hours - which I was doing last year, but I had a harder time getting days off from work than I did in Spring '13. But here I am and, being short on time aside, I am happier, healthier, and more productive than before. This anniversary has a certain contented buzz last year's didn't quite have.

And, hell, this post is sponsored by Hannibal: The Ride: The Dog, so today is absolutely a red-letter occasion:

Since Hannibal: The Dog is such an ardent film fan - with such unusual culinary tastes - I do want to make the most of my 5 minutes. Before I get into my favorite posts of the past year, tho, I'll shine a spotlight on my earliest reviews, in case you haven't read them before. All but two vids here are from those pictures.

After the inaugural, my first review covered Three O'clock High, a superb and fairly-unknown 80's film. From the start, I wanted to promote lesser-known movies that would delight people. I admit the posting schedule has distracted me from that, but: tough s--t, I wanted to try this, & I did leave the suggestion box open.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Question for the week of Apr 21-27: Worst Song Recital

I could go on and on with set up: an old friend found this track and played it for me; it's insanely bad; I have no idea why anyone wanted, much less recorded, this... I could get into all that and really make a story of it.

But why bother? In this case, we do not come to praise Caesar, but to bury him. And, here, with no honors. Let the carrion eaters and the dogs feast upon this musical abomination!

Long story short, someone got Sean Connery to recite, plain-spoken-style, the lyrics to the Beatles' "In My Life." Aside from the overall sucktitude of the thing, there is the fact that the odd pauses here and there make me want to chime in with snarky lines. Also, the casual rape/murder of a lovely, lovely song. I kinda want to give this post the Sexual Violence tag, because it's earned it.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Honest Trailers: The Dark Knight Rises

ScreenJunkies' film evisceration of tDKR has been out since December '12, but I never got around to putting it up here. Which was silly of me, because I already posted the CinemaSins and How It Should've Ended entries for both, in addition to my own review, a mini-review as part of a writing group, and even a double-dip post on Nolan's final Batman film.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Serenity and Iron Sky, Reviewed

In my last MRQ, I said that two intended entries would go instead to one multiple review post. Both films were fine enough to merit their own space and spotlight. The 60+ hour weeks I've been working slowed me down, but here we are with reviews of Joss Whedon's first feature film, 2005's Serenity, as well as the 2012 Finnish-German cult film, Iron Sky.


When I was in grad school, an old college friend asked to crash at my Boston apartment. She was a huge Joss Whedon fan, and the East Coast had several advanced screenings for Serenity, the movie based on his short-lived sci-fi TV series, Firefly. I'm always happy to help a friend, so I told her I'd gladly host her for the night. And then she told me she had a second ticket.

My pal knew I'd never seen the series, but I didn't tell her why I hesitated when she invited me along. Basically, I tried to watch Firefly when it first aired, but I didn't especially like the pilot. Then, I saw the next episode and tuned in early enough to catch the theme song - which I thought was so awful that it had me laughing hysterically.

Music is pretty important to me, and Whedon's new series lost me from the get-go. Even more, between the setting and the song, I suddenly got very predictive about the show, (accurately) guessing that there would be a space cotillion, a space saloon fight, a space train robbery, and a space whorehouse. What I couldn't predict was that I would realize I was horribly wrong in my judgment. Firefly was terribly well-written and -acted.

I couldn't find the opening credits video, but it's lots of pictures of the cast, and the final shot is a ship flying over a herd of running horses.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Imposters #46: Bad Words Redux

A few weeks ago, I covered the Bad Words poster, which I could possibly concisely describe as an ugly surprise. I don't know who altered this subway ad for the BW promo - or what they used to do it, - but I am so grateful that I happened to notice this Fan-made gem!

The general concept evoked here - spewing, vomiting, what have you - is a perfect match for the premise of Bad Words. It also nicely matches the supremely ugly expression on the character's face.

Better still, the vivid color actually works beautifully with the muted tones of the poster... This really reflects a genius piece of defacement and commentary. I really have to wonder how many times that subway rider saw the graphic before they decided to do this.

Whoever you are, I owe you a drink!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Question for the Week of April 14-20: Hulk, what Hulk?

Will there be another Hulk standalone film?
So, by now, we are well into the next phase of Marvel's film plans. The sequels to Thor and Captain America have come out, both to solid reviews and box office earnings. Similarly, Avengers 2 is scheduled to come out in Summer 2015 and earn another billion dollars.

And, in addition to all that, the plans are diversifying. The Marvel Universe is expanding cinematically to include this Summer's Guardians of the Galaxy film. An Ant-Man film directed by Edgar Wright is under way. And Marvel exec Feige is talking about plans that extend well into the next decade. It's a busy era... But, among all these ideas, there hasn't been much word about the Hulk.

The 2003 film by Ang Lee kicked off the current state of affairs, despite its decidedly mixed success. Not only was that Marvel's first effort in the millennium, but the picture is considered canon for the purposes of all the films that followed. While Mark Ruffalo was the second replacement (and best player) for the role, the events of Lee's film still count.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Patrick Stewart's 2 Min. Acting Class

[6:30PM UPDATE: So my personal nightmare has ended! In the last week, I completed a rough apartment move singlehandedly, all while working 60+ hour weeks for the last 6 weeks (including Sundays). I have some downtime finally, so I don't have to get home every night and pack/unpack.

This means I have time to prep the Iron Sky/Serenity reviews that went up last Thursday in draft form. I will also post a non-music-related Question this week - it's one DJ and I were discussing, concerning the Marvel films. This week seems like the right time for both, and I actually don't have to rely on all the posts that I prepared in March for this month.]

The single take, the double take, the triple take, and the quadruple.

Seriously, I love this guy.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Imposters #45: Divergent

[1:25AM UPDATE: I worked til 3 the other morning, and literally moved to a new apt that day. Today, the outline for my Serenity/Iron Sky review went up after this post. Sorry, but I scheduled most of this month in January and read the page on why I don't feel too badly about the snafu. This site is a free service, after all.]

The generic future city is undersold. There are so many ways of evoking the future - a radically altered US map, for example - without having to use what Elysium and other films have used. Except Matt Damon is a big draw, so I understand his face being featured.

You can tell I am fed up with this fad because I actually think then picture has many nice elements. The city, as shown, is actually very well drawn, and i like how it has some depth if you stare at it. The sky is beautiful, if impossible, unless that's what smog looks like. And I do like the colors in this poster.

The poses of the two figures are lame, tho. It suggests that they're scavengers, that they're looking for something. Since I assume that's part of the story (they're in their society's militia, if I recall), I can give the graphic designers behind this ad some credit. It gives us movie's leads and setting, while strongly implying their place in that setting. Nice!

I can't be as the gentle about the title and... Well, there's no tagline but the words that are supposed to get you to see this are "based on the worldwide bestseller." The words at the top are fine, I suppose. I like books, and it's good that they're appealing to that. It's also a neatly subtle way of saying "psst - YA novel! Just like Hunger Games!"

I don't like the font - of the title, not the rest. It's... ungainly, and not in a way that feels appropriate to what I assume one would want to evoke here. And the lens flare effect in the title is no good. This is JJ Abram's week off, okay?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Jaws Filmumentary Makes the Movie Brand-New!

The work of Jamie Benning was mentioned here twice before, and I'm happy to follow up on that now. Go here if you want to check out his amazing filmumentary treatment of Steven Spielberg's classic blockbuster, Jaws. I will try to embed it below, but I don't know how well that will work and I did. Nailed it!

Please enjoy this unique, carefully-crafted love song to a classic Summer blockbuster.

On to site business - I'll post a movie review on Monday. If I choose to put it up tomorrow instead, I'll double up on Imposters entries next week. And my off-site Reviewing with Others posts should return next month, so more indie movie goodness for us all. Finally, I've been asked to interview an indie director for a podcast (off-site), so that should be fun.

I'll see you all tomorrow,
Half a Film Student

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Question for the Week of Apr 7-13: Worst Eponymous Film Song

So you're watching Lethal Weapon (it's a good review, but I should add more videos or pictures), and it's a funny and exciting movie. You just had a fine time seeing Danny Glover and pre-(public)insanity Mel Gibson nail every gritty action film beat. And then the credits start to roll, and you get this incredible mess:

I can't disrespect the artist, Honeymoon Suite, very much. I've never been paid to do anything for a motion picture, much less one of the biggest hits of the year... Of any year.

But the music is pretty uninspired, and the lyrics are just horrible. I hope the band was just asked to sing this, and didn't create the track from scratch... I'd feel like I'm being a little harsh - but just look at what I've transcribed, below:

When you lose your love
And it makes your life turn cold
When it tears you apart
Your heart and soul just can't go on
When love's alive, it sets you free
When it's gone, it's plain to see
How even love can become a lethal weapon

Monday, April 7, 2014

Bill Murray Poetry Loveliness

Ah, it's time again for the monthly posy in which I show why I revere Bill Murray. This took place in the famed Poet's House, a library in NYC, as it was being rebuilt in a new location. Mr. Murray stopped by to read poetry to the construction workers building it. He did it because... he is a glorious and incredibly random, unpredictable person, I guess. It's part of why we love him so much.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

In the lead up to writing this review, I asked Thaddeus what he thought of the original 2011 Captain America (needlessly subtitled "The First Avenger"). He admitted that while he'd seen it, he didn't really remember it that well. While I liked that film a bit more than he did, I couldn't fault his recall. By design, Marvel Studios' productions have been a bit of a meringue: sweet but insubstantial. They've generally fallen under the heading of light adventure/comedy, prioritizing giving the audience a fun popcorn-munching experience over being memorable.

It was quite to my surprise, then, that my first reaction after watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Cap 2, for short) was, "They've finally made a real movie." Cap 2 is a straight-up action movie, something closer to the James Bond or Mission: Impossible series than to the movie's Marvel peers.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Imposters #44: Cesar Chavez

Oh, dear friends and strangers, Now is a tumultuous time. I'm in the middle of a move, working 60-70 hour weeks for 4 weeks straight, and a few other problems to be endured or resolved. Truly, with 21 days until this site's 5th anniversary, it is a dark time for the Rebellion.

But screw all that. A positive mental attitude and the help of family and friends... Well, you don't need the greatest fortitude to survive when you have all that...

April will have music-themed questions, I think. DJ's Winter Soldier (maybe Friday) and my two-part Serenity and Iron Sky review are coming. I'm also going to review I Know What You Did Last Summer.

This week's poster review is below, and one more entry will go up this week. There's so many reasons to be happy at the start of this lovely new month.

The poster for Cesar Chavez contains understandable mistakes. The biggest one is that it's too busy. There is no negative or unused space at all, and so it's sort of a strain on the eyes. This is not a fatal flaw, but it sure doesn't help the goal of promoting the motion picture.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Question for the week of Mar 31 - Apr 6: Most Painful Romcom Line

Today's question is so easy to answer. Notting Hill:
I'm also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.
- Anna Scott, fictitious actress/destroyer of words

On one hand, I can totally appreciate the need to bring things back to basics and to just have a simple expression of feelings. It's struck me - since I was like 16, no less - that adults get caught up in emotional complications, instead of thinking about their situation in ways that focus on underlying facts (e.g., X and I love each other, why get worried about incompatible families/ethnicities/etc). And it's good to go back to basics: this person treats you right is the most basic yes/no, and it's pretty much the most vital one.

However, Julia Roberts was 32 years old when NH came out; her role is not a girl, she's a woman. Her character, Anna Scott may be doing herself - and the object of her affection - a disservice by acting like she's just some simple, ignorant kid.