Saturday, May 28, 2011

In Honor of Memorial Day

I thought I'd put out some War Movies, by war.

American Revolution - The Patriot (2000)
American Civil War - Glory (1989)
WW I - Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
WW II - Windtalkers (2002)
Korea - M*A*S*H (1970)
Vietnam - Apocalypse Now (1979)
Invasion of Granada - Heartbreak Ridge (1986)
Gulf War I - Courage Under Fire (1996)
Current Mess - The Hurt Locker (2009)

And thank you to those serving ... even if I do think we should be (generally) out of the current occupation zones.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Review A-Team

I watched this last year (June 15, 2010)... Can't figure out why I don't have a post on it.

Overall, a fun movie ... had  some really fun bits, somewhat over the top in places, but it's a blockbuster ... so to be expected. Things that I remember that stick out. The german woman at the lake, the grenade bit, etc. But where the movie really failed was the finale ... TOO OVER THE TOP. Still, was a fun run and worth catching. Biggest note is that I was obviously tired ... it was several days after watching I figured out how Faceman got the key.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Outside History

Doing a historical fiction is fine, just let you're audience know that you're ignoring it. Many pictures are close, but altered for the audience, which is controversial, but overall okay. Many are severely altered but are presented as true, which tends to tank.

So a couple good examples of letting your audience know that you're not going by the book.

Shakespeare in love:

Well, Romeo and Ethel the Pirate's Daughter is a good clue, then there's the coffee mug at 4 minutes and 45 seconds that assists, etc. Point is, we've established that it's not another Historical Drama, but something different.

Another example is:
A Knight's Tale:

It opens at 3 minutes and 9 seconds to "We Will Rock You" including the crowd singing it, we know that it isn't going to be entirely accurate, so we can forgive the couple hundred years of armor changes.

A minor Change would be

Primas Nocte is a Victorian Invention, and the princess involved wasn't in England (not to mention being 7), and they're missing the river and bridge at the Battle, and that they invented pikes, They're wearing kilts centuries early, etc. Even though it pushed the limits of alterations, it had a strong enough story to carry it beyond the problem.Though the standard set of Hollywood armors is a bit annoying, they're near to the realm of feasibility.

And then there's

Where they decided digital effects were better than story *Sigh* Luckily I didn't spend money watching it.

Beowulf & Grendel:

A much better variation of the tale (on a smaller budget and with less digitization).

There's also plenty of errors in judgment in production. Bad costuming, peasants all in grey or brown. Armor from the wrong period or worse, from the usual Hollywood suppliers who use some really bad stuff because everyone else did.

Then there's things that i'll live with. Metal rimmed wheels before they were used. Incorrect carriage design,

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Review - Lost in Translation

Roger Ebert's review of this movie is:

Bill Murray's acting in Sofia Coppola's "Lost in Translation" is surely one of the most exquisitely controlled performances in recent movies. Without it, the film could be unwatchable.

I agree with the almost unwatchable aspect. While I understand where the movie tried to go, it still wasn't enough for me to want to watch this more than once. On the other hand, I was at least able to watch it once, so I guess I'll have to give it at least one star.

Filmmaking and Effects (THE SCI-FI BOYS DVD)

Effects and Story-telling from the Sci-Fi Boys Additional Scenes

Dennis Muren: The Challenge of "The Empire Strikes Back" And the Revolution of Motion Control and CGI 

...And we started to alot of moving camera stuff way back on the Star Wars film. That whole end battle is all moving aerial stuff. Which comes from George just wanting to tell a story, not being hampered by effects. Y'know we had to come up with effects that would tell his story, not the other way around. Not simple effects to tell the story, but just what he had in mind. So the history of that evolving at ILM is pretty rooted in the company; being able to follow a director's vision, and not have it being hampered by an effects limitation. So ... we very much have pursued moving camera shots from the beginning here, so it was not a big leap to say "Let's do it in computer graphics."

So we got into the ... T2 has got alot of hand-held stuff in it, um ... and, Jurassic certainly does. Just realizing: hey, we need to do it. Then we write the program to do it, we train the people to do it, and we can get the work in the shows.

And now see it everywhere. Y'know, now it has really freed the ... the director up, it's freed the camera-man up, it's freed the production team up. 'Cause they don't have to be as careful when they shoot the work as they used to be. So it saves time, and the by-product of that is, if you do it right, it can be alot cheaper shooting it also, and look better on the screen. Because it has a rougher look to it, than the ... than the precious effects shots.

Dennis Muren: The Founding and Growth of Industrial Light & Magic and Pixar

Because there are really two sides to these shows, there's the technical side and how do you get the thing done and just organized to bring the director's vision to the screen.


What happens is usually a script will come in to ILM; and half the time it's already been decided to use computer graphics, 'cause they want, 'cause they just want to do it. They think... The Director's insisting  on it, this is the way to go to do the show. Other times, they  say "Well, well..." They have an idea that  "we'll use computer graphics here, and we'll use robotics here, and we'll use make-up here" or whatever it is.
And then we read the script and sort-of see if we agree with all that. And .. and if it fits in ... fits into our schedule and all, and if the money's there for it, to be able to do it, and how much work it's going to be and ... and d'ya ... can we crew up to be able to get it done. Is it going to fit in all the show's that we're doing. We have ... we can have 1200 working here, working on ... Y'know... anywhere from six to twelve shows going on. So they have to kind of slot in when they can.

And uh ... It's ... the next step in is where we read the script or the budget on it and begin, if we get the job, do design work on it, or someone else will do design work on it. And we'll begin making the computer graphic model at the same time, probably, as someone else is making them a kit, or robotics are being made. Uh whatever ... and we all kind of begin the process of seeing the same thing.

Steve Johnson on Inspirations, techniques and Synchronisity

But I think at this point, audiences ... I think the ... the only blur they really had, in my experience, that they think everything is digital. As opposed to knowing when something is a blend between digital and ... and practical.


I created a film ... I just did a short film. um ... and ... I did it basically out of a vengeance. Just to see ... because, Y'know, as I was saying earlier, the whole creative process of creating something, has been kind of robbed by digital technology ... because now, people will typically call up and say, "Can you make an insert hand?" or "Can you make a scan model?", which is ... fine. But it's not what it used to be. So I decided to satisfy my creative muse, last summer, to make a short film. And it's pretty ... pretty amazing. I should actually let you use this so I can show it to you.

Um ... and I'll tell ya, alot of people wondered why it was not done digitally ... and it wasn't, at all. It's amazing. It was all old school techniques, small scale puppets, full scale puppets ... um ... uh ... Created all of the skies with cloud take effects, plastic is made of ... heat shrunk plastic. I'm sorry, the ground is made of heat shrunk plastic. And then we used digital technology to ... resize, to ... composite, to do alot of interesting things with color-timing and that kind of thing. Ummm ... but it was pretty interesting, actually, just getting down and dirty and making something ... and saying "We're not going to be doing it digitally" and I produced the whole thing myself. We're going to try until we can't get it any more, to do it practically. And... it was a  pretty interesting process, but it also taught me why alot of times it is better. when the characters deteriorate at the end. We made deteriorating models of these puppets, and it just worked out to be a nightmare. And we ended up deteriorating them digitally.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Hollywood and Filmmaking. (INDIGO DVD)

Best bit From INDIGO extras:

From: Conversations with the Filmaker's

Stephen Simon:
Being able to see this films in various different buildings around the world ... that's an extraordinary experience. Because ... we are saying something new about ourselves, to ourselves. That we can make movies for this audience. That we don't have to dumb them down. That we don't have to quote "HOLLYWOOD-IZE" them. We can actually make films from our hearts and our souls. And we don't have somebody sitting over our shoulder "You know what. Maybe you should make that a little bit broader so that everybody could like it."; and what happens is: everyone walks out the theater saying "y'know what ... that was ... okay.".
James Twyman:
I'm really glad you said that, because that so often does happen in Hollywood. And when we set to make 'Indigo', and these other films, it was with the intent of making this with integrity. And ... and what I think is going to happen, is going to expand the natural audience. There are those people who read our books, and people who are in this sort-of field. But there are millions of people who are not, Y'know, being "preached to like the choir". And ... uh ... and I think that movies like 'Indigo' are going to reach out past that natural audience, and touch millions of people that would not normally be touched by these things. And they're going to begin to let them ask those same questions ... and, so I think this is very exciting, this 'spiritual film' genre is going to expand in ways that we haven't even thought of.

Point of the above is that while it's okay to make it a bit outside a small intended audience, it shouldn't try to make everyone happy. When you make it to try to include everyone, it tends to be mediocre.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Review - Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2. I heard the reviews, and while most said it was good, they had a problem with the middle of the movie. Well, I suppose that it's true that the middle was slower than the beginning and end, but it all played well for story. The Tony Stark / Pepper Potts love story was a bit all over the place, but that's more realistic. 

On the negative side, Sam Rockwell's character (Justin Hammer) felt like a 70's throwback, more sleazy car salesman than weapons-monger. And while Don Cheadle did a decent job with James Rhodes, he lacked the same quality that Terrence Howard brought to the character.

Some nifty new toys added to the Iron Man arsenal. 

There's some references in the movie, most notably to the upcoming Avengers movie, and Captain America's shield showed up.

Finally, the teaser trailer at the end really didn't do justice for sitting through the credits for most of the crowd. Was that the handle of Thor's Hammer at the end? Although it was funny to see the expressions of the few who did leave whose confusion was evident when most of the crowd was still sitting while the credits rolled.

It was worth the money, go ahead and see it.

I went on Tuesday because it's $6 for all showings on Tuesday. I expect to get back to the movies regularly now. I figure that the maximum price for a regular ticket should have been tied to the minimum wage hour. Being 1.5X that, higher fuel prices, as well as higher costs of living while employment and earnings stagnate seems to be the largest detractor gor crowds in the theater. So why DO people go to movies? So they have something other than network TV to talk about with their friends and coworkers. As the number of available channels for entertainment rises, the less we seem to have to chat with others on. This is what has really kept the broadcast networks going. Everyone wants to talk and give their opinion on common ground.

Next film I'm going to see at the theater will be Prince of Persia. Wonder if I still have the DOS game around.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

In Case Of Zombies…

I need one of these for my wall.
: D

Screenwriting from Iowa

Another great blog, though not all posts are amazing, there are a great number that have golden tidbits in them. Go read it now.

Here's one tidbit from James Cameron via the blog:
“The film industry is about saying ‘no’ to people, and inherently you cannot take ‘no’ for an answer…You never really ‘get’ an opportunity. You take an opportunity. You know, in the film making business no one ever gives you anything…If you wait until the right time to have a child you’ll die childless, and I think film making is very much the same thing. You just have to take the plunge and just start shooting something even if it’s bad…Pick up a camera. Shoot something. No matter how small, no matter how cheesy, no matter whether your friends and your sister star in it. Put your name on it as director. Now you’re a director. Everything after that you’re just negotiating your budget and your fee…I think it’s, the old adage: ‘The harder I work, the luckier I get.’ I think chance is not a big factor in the long run…There are many talented people who haven’t fulfilled their dreams because they over thought it, or they were too cautious, and were unwilling to make the leap of faith.”
James Cameron