Archive for the 'movies' Category

Manic Pixie Prostitute

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

If you’re familiar with the concept of the “Manic Pixie Dream Girl,” this will be funny. If not, it’s probably just going to seem weird. More from Aisha Harris at Slate: Is the Manic Pixie Dream Girl Dead?

Lana Wachowski’s HRC Speech

Friday, October 26th, 2012

If you missed it, you really must watch the speech Lana Wachowski gave in accepting the Human Rights Campaign’s Visibility Award:

I realize this was linked to by Xeni at Boing Boing already, which would normally be a disqualifying factor for me posting here these days, but:

1. I posted it before she did, at least at my tumblr, and

2. It’s too awesome not to post.

The ‘Cloud Atlas’ Trailer and Directors’ Commentary

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

I think this is a first: An almost-six-minute movie trailer that comes with its own director’s commentary. And the commentary really is helpful, I think, to get a sense of what’s going on with the trailer. See the Apple Trailers site for the commentary: Cloud Atlas.

Here’s the trailer itself:

I think that movie could be a complete mess. Or it could be completely awesome. Or both. Anyway, I think I’m about ready for the Wachowskis to blow my mind again, and I’m looking forward to them (and Tom Tykwer) giving it their best shot.

Update: Here’s the commentary:

‘We Bought a Zoo’ Trailer vs. Trailer

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

Below are the first two trailers (domestic and international) for director Cameron Crowe’s upcoming movie, “We Bought a Zoo.” Based (loosely) on the memoir by Benjamin Mee, the film casts Matt Damon as a recent widower who quits his job and takes his two children to live in a run-down country house with an attached run-down zoo. Heart-warming life lessons ensue.

So far so good. Cameron Crowe has made some very good movies that I really like, so I was tentatively on-board for this one. When I found out that Crowe played music from Jónsi’s recent album Go on the set to help set the mood, and then successfully recruited Jónsi to score the movie (with help from Go collaborator Nico Mulhy), I was all the way on board. It’s in theaters December 23, and I’m looking forward to it.

Which brings me to the trailers. The domestic (U.S.) trailer came out a couple of months ago. It features Sigur Rós’ “Hoppípolla” in the second half, which is pretty much automatic tear-induction for me. Here it is:

All well and good. Note that the movie also stars Scarlett Johansson as Kelly, zookeeper and would-be love interest for Damon. Or maybe not; the trailer is somewhat coy on that point. We get some dewy-eyed looks at Damon by Johansson, and a somewhat ambiguous final sequence in which Damon seems to be inviting Johansson to join him (“You coming?”) with her responding with the kind of smile that is her unquestioned on-screen superpower, any doubts about her acting range notwithstanding. But in the one sequence in the trailer that deals with Damon’s and Johansson’s relationship directly, we get a fairly straightforward dousing of hopes for a romance:

Damon: I think you’re… incredibly pretty. Please don’t take offense if I don’t hit on you.

Johansson: I’d be offended if you did.

Damon: Thank you… I think.

To the extent there’s romance, it looks from the trailer as if we’re more likely to get it from Damon’s son, played by Colin Ford, and their new neighbor, played by Elle Fanning. All of which is fine.

Which brings me to the newly released international trailer. Check it out:

It starts off virtually identical. But in the second half things are different. First, “Hoppípolla” is gone, replaced by what I’m hopefully assuming is some of the new Jónsi music from the soundtrack (yay!). More significantly, there’s more Johansson, including a significant new emphasis on her as an object of romantic interest. Thomas Hayden Church (as Damon’s character’s brother) tells Damon to “Dump the animals. Keep Kelly. That’s true joy.” A building inspector leers at Johansson as he suggestively extends his tape measure (to Damon: “You’re eight inches short”).

Especially, there’s a brief sequence of Damon and Johansson gazing soulfully at each other (Johansson: “It’s a lot to take on, all of us.” Damon: “You read me pretty well”), followed by one of those slow-zoom-as-the-actors-lean-closer preludes to an obviously telegraphed if not actually consummated (yet) screen kiss.

Linda (my own romantic interest) tells me that Johansson is a really big celebrity in Europe, more so than in the U.S., so I guess it makes sense that they would play up her role in selling the movie to a European audience. And maybe it’s the case that the less-puritanically-uptight Europeans are going to be more forgiving of an implied romance between actors who are 41 and 26, respectively, than would be the case for at least some American consumers of a wholesome family drama.

I realize that trailers are mini-movies in their own right, and have a job to do in terms of selling the movie to an audience in a limited time and with limited context. I recognize that the relationship between the trailer and the actual film it is advertising can be quite tenuous (witness the trailer for another movie that caught my interest recently, The Big Year, the trailer for which manages to present two minutes from the movie while almost entirely concealing what it is the movie is actually about). But I find myself feeling that one of the two “We Bought a Zoo” trailers (at least) must be lying.

Either this is a movie that delivers an onscreen romance between Damon’s and Johansson’s characters, or it isn’t. Judging from the first (U.S.) trailer, it isn’t. Judging from the second (international) trailer, with its gun-in-the-first-act boy-we-really-want-to-kiss-each-other shot, it is. And realistically, the movie can’t be both.

There’s a hint as to which it actually is in the article that appeared in today’s L.A. Times, Cameron Crowe wrangles emotions and ostriches:

Most movies would follow Benjamin’s romantic reawakening — let his late wife (Stephanie Szostak) fade from memory and let him try to tame Kelly. But Crowe said he wasn’t interested in following that path, a choice dramatized in the film’s unusual final scene.

“People make this big case, ‘You gotta move on, you gotta move on.’ And I say, ‘Really? Who says you have to move on?'” Crowe said. “Benjamin is a guy who is still in love with his wife, and he is not going to get shaken from that. That’s the greater challenge: to pay tribute to the person who’s not around anymore.”

The international trailer notwithstanding, it sounds like that’s the movie we actually get, with Damon playing a responsible boss to Johansson’s character, and not necessarily anything more. Which is fine with me. As long as I get my Jónsi music.

Alamo Drafthouse’s Angry Texter Rant Ad

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

I really, really loved this:

(New) Trailers for (Old) Tron

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Continuing my program of making completely superfluous for anyone who also reads Boing Boing, here are some fun faux trailers for the original Tron:

First up, Hexagonall’s Saul-Bass style trailer (now I know who Brad Bird was riffing on in The Incredibles’ title sequence):

Tron vs. Saul Bass from Hexagonall on Vimeo.

That one was fun as a warm-up, but this one by DrewboiX really is fairly awesome. Can you imagine if they’d use this for the original trailer? It would have blown our tiny little early-80’s minds:

For comparison purposes, here’s the real original trailer. We sure had longer attention spans back then, didn’t we?

Finally, to round things out, here’s the Tron Legacy teaser trailer:

Tomlinson on Alice

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Barbara Tomlinson at Spasms of Accommodation had exactly the same experience I had: Alice in Wonderland IMAX 3D.

The reviews online gave it a C, so I had low expectations.

But it was good! Never did I squirm because of some logical or continuity problem like I did in Avatar. I suppose since it was SUPPOSED to be make-believe it’s easier for me to suspend disbelief.

It really is good. But it’s good in a somewhat subtle way that I guess is easy for jaded, movie-saturated reviewers to take for granted, or overlook completely.

I’ll just say this: If you don’t like Tim Burton movies, then you won’t like Alice. Also, you’re tragically broken, and I feel sorry for you.

Kenneth Turan got it especially wrong in his LA Times review, where he described an early scene in the movie like this:

Then it’s 13 years later and Alice is a pouty young woman (Australian actress Mia Wasikowska) headed for a posh garden party with her mother. Alice is a bit of a rebel (she doesn’t wear a corset!) and though she doesn’t know it, she’s on the way to what her family hopes will be her engagement party.

But once we meet Alice’s intended, a complete twit named Hamish, we know that marriage is not going to happen, and a good thing too, for this part of the film is so tedious we are all but begging for the escape the rabbit hole provides, especially because it serves as a portal to Burton’s inventive mind.

I don’t know what Turan was thinking. That party sequence was wonderful. It was poignant, funny, and sad. We see it through Alice’s eyes, making it at once deeply unsettling and quirkily beautiful. It was totally Tim Burton. Yes, the wacky factor ratchets up once we go down the rabbit hole. But the emotion and thoughtfulness, the gentle, questioning mind behind the lens, was there from the first frame.

I think a certain kind of person just isn’t comfortable going to TimBurtonLand. But I’m blown away on every visit. His aren’t the only kind of movies I like, or even the kind I like most. But they’re amazing, and I’m grateful for the chance to see them.

Don’t miss this one.

Alex Roman Has Mad Skillz

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

You know that point when you realize you’re living in the future, when nothing you see in video form should be believed, despite all the evidence of your highly evolved monkey senses? I don’t think we reached that point with Avatar, despite actually liking the movie (yes, really! I liked it), but I’m pretty sure we have reached that point with Alex Roman’s The Third & The Seventh:

The Third & The Seventh from Alex Roman on Vimeo.

You owe it to yourself to HD+maximize it.

Understand, this was one person, with off-the-shelf hardware and software. And (I’m guessing) an obsessive interest. And time.

None of that stuff exists. Except it really does, sort of. (And since he modeled it on real buildings, it really really does, in another sense. But you know what I mean.) Pretty cool what one person can accomplish when he (she) sets his (her) mind to it.

More details in this interview. And this other interview. And this still yet other interview. I especially like this part (as translated by Google):

How long has you finish it?.

In total, about one and a half, with several stoppages during development. I thought it never would end. He was becoming a nightmare, but seeing people’s reaction to the first “teasers” which was published on the Internet, gave me encouragement to continue.

I totally want to live in the Fuji House.

Larry Craig’s Exit Strategy

Friday, August 31st, 2007

I’ve been thinking through tomorrow’s announced press conference, at which it is widely reported that Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) will announce his resignation from the Senate.

I hope that’s all he does. As I think through the various scenarios, though, I have this paranoid sense that, faced with the loss of everything he’s defined himself by, faced with the prospect of public recognition, of his own personal recognition, that he is not only a liar, but far worse, an abomination of the sort he was taught to despise from an early age, he might decide that his only way out is to kill himself.

Which is an inherently ludicrous idea on the face of it. Like the heckler who called out disdainfully at the end of his September 28 press conference, “what if you are gay? Come out of the closet.” It’s just not that big a deal, once one accepts the simple fact that his being attracted to other men is neither a disease nor a moral failing. It’s just how he is, like being left-handed.

I wouldn’t even be thinking about the possibility of a televised suicide, probably, if it weren’t for the example of Bud Dwyer. But there’s something about the zeal with which Craig has been asserting his non-gay-ness that makes me wonder how he will handle the announcement tomorrow. There’s something tense and fractured and brittle about him; he’s lived his whole life in this cage of his own construction, refusing to face the truth. How will he deal with reality? Will he be able to?

If I had to put money on it, I guess I think he’ll just continue the way he has. He’ll assert that he’s not gay, and did nothing wrong, other than the lapse of judgment that led him to plead guilty to the bathroom-incident misdemeanor. More in sorrow than in anger, for the good of the party and the people of Idaho, Nixon-like, he’ll step down. And then he’ll just continue in the closet.

But there’s that self-loathing, that mental illness, that underlies the choice to stay in the closet, and it just makes me nervous. And then there’s the Idaho factor, and his military service.

Sigh. Maybe this sense of dread I’m feeling is Stanley Kubrick’s (and Matthew Modine’s, and Vincent D’Onofrio’s) fault.

Update: So, I’m not the only one who’s anxious about this: blacktygrrrr, commenter Harold on this Rolling Stone item, and this copy-and-pasted version of the same comment in the Boise Weekly.

Later update: Whew. Resignation announced, still alive, still in the closet.

Pictures Lie, and Potter Fans Take it Seriously

Friday, May 11th, 2007

I’m a sucker for stories about doctored photos, but this one actually has a happy ending.

The folks over at “The Leaky Cauldron” (AHPNATT … All Harry Potter News, All The Time) posted an irate (but very well done) editorial recently on an Ad the IMAX website had been running for Harry potter that was very clearly a Photoshop modified version of a stock poster for the 5th Harry Potter movie. Now this shouldn’t really be a surprise — I’m sure even the poster was Photoshoped to add “mood” to the original source photos; but what was changed for the IMAX ad was to make the boobs of a 15 year female character bigger. This got the attention of some mainstream press, and Warner Brothers forced IMAX to pull the Ad, since it was not approved by them.

Which goes to show, just because photos lie, doesn’t mean you can’t call bullshit and make them stop.

Being Mma Ramotswe

Sunday, April 22nd, 2007

The new #1 Ladies Detective Agency book is here! The new #1 Ladies Detective Agency Book is here!


Yeah, it’s true. The new #1 Ladies Detective Agency book (The Good Husband of Zebra Drive) is here. If you haven’t read the whole series, you need to go out right now and get the first one in paperback, or at the library, and read them all the way through. They’re all the same, it’s true, but they’re also all different, and the cycling through the sameness and differences builds in power over the course of the series.

It sounds goofy to me to talk about how profoundly beautiful and wonderful these books are. I want you who haven’t experienced them to seek them out, so I want to talk about how amazing they are. But I don’t want to build up expectations that will only be realized slowly, gradually, as the stories unfold.

Hm. It’s something of a dilemma. I’ll have to think about that while looking at the big, beautiful sky above Carpinteria. And while I’m doing that, you can go to this page at, and see if they’ll send you the first book for free: Alexander McCall Smith exclusive. “While supplies last”, it says, and that was posted a few weeks ago, so you may need some luck there. But it also has an mp3 of Alexander McCall Smith reading a new short story based on Mma Ramotswe, which I haven’t listened to yet, so we’ve both got that to look forward to regardless.

In the meantime, I thought this was cute: Apparently a Hollywood adaptation is being done, which is worrisome, but the director is Anthony Minghella, who really is the perfect choice, and the screenplay was co-written by Richard Curtis, so that’ll probably be okay. And then there was this interesting passage in an article on the website of the (South African) Cape Film Commission, quoting from the Sunday Times of London (isn’t the Web wonderful?) Tlou mum over Mma Ramotswe role.

Botswana Minister of Health, Prof Sheila Tlou remains mum over media reports that she is the number one contender for the role of Mma Ramotswe in the multi million pula Hollywood production. Reports from the UK link the minister to the coveted role in the US$40 million film based on serialised novel No. 1 Ladies Detective by Alexander McCall Smith.

UK- based newspaper Sunday Times has quoted the author of the serialised novel, rooting for the health minister: There is one person who is really keen to play Mma Ramotswe and who has played her twice on the amateur stage in Gaborone and that’s the minister of health, Sheila Tlou.

In my view she is Mma Ramotswe and in her view she is Mma Ramotswe, the paper quoted the author.

I can not comment on what international newspapers have reported. It is just speculation right now and we will cross that bridge when the time comes, Prof Tlou said.

See, the reason that’s cute is this passage from the latest book. Mma Ramotswe and her adopted daughter, Motholeli, are up early, and Motholeli asks Mma Ramotswe if she ever thinks about whether she’d like to be someone else. This causes Mma Ramotswe to reflect on the people in her life, and the whole passage is great, including a beautiful payoff at the end, but as much as I’d like to I’m not going to quote the whole thing, so you’ll just have to get the book and read it, and again, read the whole series leading up to it so you get the full impact.

But I have to quote this part:

Motholeli, the cause of this train of thought, now interrupted it; there was to be no enumeration of the consolations of being forty-ish. “Well, Mma,” she said. “Who would you be? The Minister of Health?”

The Minister, the wife of that great man, Professor Thomas Tlou, had recently visited Motholeli’s school to present prizes and had delivered a stirring address to the pupils. Motholeli had been particularly impressed and had talked about it at home.

“She is a very fine person,” said Mma Ramotswe. “And she wears very beautiful headdresses. I would not mind being Sheila Tlou… if I had to be somebody else. But I am quite happy, really, being Mma Ramotswe, you know. There is nothing wrong with that, is there?”

Nope. Nothing at all.

RIAA, MPAA: We Want Legal Right to Lie

Saturday, April 7th, 2007

A bill aimed at cracking down on businesses that engage in “pretexting” (or, to be less precious about it, lying) in pursuit of personal information has become the target of a lobbying effort by the music and movie industries, which say they need to be able to lie in order to fight piracy: Recording, movie industries lobby for permission to deceive.

I’ve Seen the Future… And It Consists of Very Long, Unbroken Camera Shots

Monday, January 15th, 2007

So, I went with Linda to see Children of Men yesterday. If I could go back in time and tell myself what I was about to experience, I’m not sure I’d want to, since I think my lack of foreknowledge probably added to the movie’s impact. But I’ll say this: The movie is absolutely riveting. That’s a cliché, I know, but in this case it’s apt. There was an almost physical sense of being bolted into my seat for what was (and yeah, I know it’s another cliché) a ride. And not a fun, squeals-of-joy thrill park ride, but an intense, forward-rushing journey into and through and out the other side of a dark, violent, intense place that you simply have to experience to understand.

I don’t want to get hung up on technique, because that doesn’t really do the movie justice. It’s more than the sum of its parts. But having been through the transformation I feel compelled to talk about it, and what do you talk about? You talk about the nuts and bolts, the trappings and artifice, because you hope it will connect with the person you’re talking to and get them to go on the ride themselves, and then they’ll know why you’re so excitetd.

I’ve always been a sucker for the long, unbroken shot. I get giddy watching the several-minutes-long set pieces in the recent Pride and Prejudice, for example. But in Children of Men there are so many long, unbroken shots that I lost track. Indeed, I was so caught up in the story unfolding that I don’t think I even noticed most of them. It’s only now, as I watch the clips from the movie and read interviews with Clive Owen and Director Alfonso Cuarón that I realize that many of the movie’s most-intense moments, images that are seared into my brain (again with the apt clichés), were actually delivered in unbroken, hand-held sequences that last as long as 12 minutes. Twelve minutes.

I don’t want to go all film-school geeky about this. Again, it’s not so much the technique. Children of Men isn’t merely realistic; it’s real. And it’s what Cuarón has chosen to do with that reality that has left me so stunned.

I don’t think I’m really conveying what I want to convey about the movie. I keep thinking of different things I could say about it. I could say that it has replaced Blade Runner atop my personal list of amazing, immersive visions of the near-future, and not just replaced it, but obliterated it, but that comparison (while an obvious one to make, which is why many people are making it) isn’t really fair to either movie. Children of Men isn’t competing with Blade Runner, and shouldn’t have to. But for what it’s worth, if you’re making me choose, I have to choose Children of Men.

And none of this, again, really gets at the heart of what this movie does. I’m forced to turn to someone else’s words. From Miss(ed) Manners’ What I did over Christmas vacation:

You’re terrified, but you feel for the characters, even though they are only sugar.

That’s my reaction to Children of Men. I can’t wait to see this movie again, to immerse myself in the world it creates, not because the world it creates is a particularly nice place to visit (very much the opposite), but to experience again the black magic that lets a person go somewhere like that without actually going anywhere.

See this movie.

Happy Feet Good. Casino Royale, Eh, Okay

Sunday, November 26th, 2006

Capsule review of my holiday cinema-going:

Happy Feet: Unexpectedly awesome, and proof that you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy a CGI animal movie. Casino Royale: Expectedly just a Bond movie, and confirmation that yes, I really did outgrow that genre sometime in late adolescence.

David Davis: My Borat Back Story

Tuesday, November 14th, 2006

I still haven’t seen Borat. Yes, I know it’s supposed to be terribly funny. I mostly didn’t laugh at Ali G., though, and I suspect that Borat is going to be a lot more of the same for me. I think I used up my Borat humor supply the first three or four times I saw him doing an in-character interview promoting the movie. Whatever.

In the meantime, though, I found this piece interesting: Borat. It’s by investing expert Andrew Tobias, who reposts a lengthy email from one of his readers, a guy named David Davis who apparently is one of the victims portrayed in the movie. Davis writes:

Oh, I’m famous all right. People stare at me on the DART light rail and wonder where they’ve seen me. (I’ve been in movie trailers all summer long.) Friends all over the country – and abroad! – have e-mailed and called me. Of course, the reaction is: OH MY GOSH, I KNOW THAT GUY! THAT’S DAVID DAVIS FROM THE ADOLPHUS! WHAT IN THE WORLD IS HE DOING IN THIS FILM? Friends in Hollywood have said, “When did you start acting?” I was recently introduced to Michael Sheen (he plays Tony Blair in THE QUEEN) as a fellow thespian. His face lit up as though I were truly a legitimate actor. I could’ve have crawled under the carpet and died.

On a certain level I understand the appeal of making fun of Red America. But getting people to sign releases by lying to them, then ambushing them with over-the-top obnoxiousness in order to film their reactions, seems kind of, I don’t know. What’s the word I’m looking for?

Oh, right: Lame.

Still. I should probably see the movie before passing judgement. Maybe it’s really just The Funniest Thing Evar, and I (and David Davis) need to lighten up.

Schwarz on Disney’s On-Again, Off-Again Attitude Toward Political Controversy

Saturday, September 9th, 2006

I thought this was kind of an interesting take on the Walt Disney company’s approach to airing controversial political films. From Jonathon Schwarz at A Tiny Revolution: Two Disney Movies, Two Titles Containing “9/11,” Two Strangely Different Outcomes.

So, right wing movie: Disney happily loses $30 million by running directly into a “highly charged partisan political battle.”

Left-wing movie: Disney refuses to make gigantic amounts of money because they’re so very scared they’ll “alienate many.” Podcast 15

Friday, April 21st, 2006

I was so jazzed about getting the last podcast successfully completed that I turned right around and recorded one the next day. So here you go: podcast 15.

This one covers:

  • Listening to Disney obsessives, especially Jesse O. of the MousePod.
  • Again with the new Pride and Prejudice adaptation. In this installment, I realize that my resistance to crediting Keira Knightly with the stunning performance she actually delivered was simply a recapitulation of the story’s main theme: It was my own pride and prejudice that prevented me from doing so. But I’ve come to appreciate the error of my ways.
  • Arguing with Andy and John of the Hollywood Saloon that they really ought to give chick-flicks a try.
  • More Austen adapations: Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, Emma. Must-see chick flicks all.
  • Kick-ass podcast special effects: I’m interrupted by the sight of an actual whale.

So. There it is. Podcast 9

Saturday, January 7th, 2006

Here you go: Podcast 9. Featuring:

  • Bush’s illegal eavesdropping.
  • Moments of clarity.
  • High-end podcast special effects: An actual train. Heh.
  • Movie reviews (Chronicles of Narnia, King Kong, and a little Love, Actually).
  • Almost (but not quite) watching my daughter die. (Update: Please understand that I’m talking about her hospitalization several years ago, not anything that happened recently. Apologies for freaking out my non-podcast-enabled sister M’Liz.)

I actually recorded it a week or so ago, but didn’t have time to delete the “uhms” and stuff until now.

Sarah Silverman and the Aristocrats Joke That Went Too Far

Thursday, November 17th, 2005

Sam Anderson has written an interesting profile of comedienne Sarah Silverman. It’s in the latest Slate: Irony Maiden – How Sarah Silverman is raping American comedy.

I especially liked this part:

This summer, she got into trouble in a venue that was supposed to be trouble-proof: The Aristocrats, a documentary that challenged 100 comedians to offend its audience as ingeniously as possible. While most of the comics went straight for the “piss-shit-suck-fuck” paradigm, which very quickly became about as offensive as a newborn koala, Silverman turned the old-school joke against an iconic old-schooler. She implied, via an emotionally supercharged soliloquy full of loaded pauses, that she had been sexually abused by the 79-year-old show-business institution Joe Franklin. At the end, she looked straight into the camera and said, dead seriously, “Joe Franklin raped me”—an anti-punch line that completely paralyzed the theater I was at. Instead of laughing, we were all stuck trying to decide whether this was some new species of joke or just plain old slander. When Franklin threatened to sue soon after the movie was released (“I didn’t like the nature of that wisecrack”), it made the joke strangely better. Silverman was the only comic in the film who met the challenge of the joke: She pushed it too far.

George Clooney Is in a Tight Spot

Monday, October 24th, 2005

I’m a fan of George Clooney, so I found this article interesting, if worrisome: Clooney: film injury made me suicidal.