Sunday, May 31, 2009

FotM: Vive le cinéma!

Assuming that the only movies worth watching are those made in America is like thinking that grass is only green in Yosemite, the sky is only blue in Manhattan, and the sun only shines on Death Valley. Unfortunately, a lot of Uncle Sam’s nieces and nephews seem to think that that’s how things are. Take it from me. They’re not just wrong. They’re living in a dream world.

Every year, thousands of films are made all over the globe, and, while not all of these films are worth watching, (trust me, as a former screener for a major film festival, I know) far too few of them make it into American movie theaters. Most of those that do were made either on American soil or were funded by American money. Often, even the relatively few foreign films that do make it in stateside theaters don’t receive a lot of press. Sure, a lot of critics might laud a film, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into box office receipts.

I still remember the first time I went to the theater to see a foreign film. It was early 2001 and a film funded by companies from China, Hong Kong, the U.S., and Taiwan had landed in American movie theaters with a bang. At that point, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was one of the first wuxia films to be advertised heavily here in the U.S. and it became quite a sensation. While it’s commonplace nowadays for action scenes to feature complex fight choreography at lightspeed, back then, films like The Matrix and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon were introducing a whole new world to 16 year old kids just like me. As for my first time watching Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, I distinctly remember not wanting to walk after leaving the theater. I wanted to fly!

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon has since become one of my favorite films, and for a lot more than just the terrific action sequences. The story’s complex, the acting first-rate, the music beautiful, the photography beautiful, the direction wonderfully assured, and the emotional impact unforgettable.

I refuse to watch the film in any language but Mandarin, although the film’s case assures me that I can also watch it in English and French. Why would I want to experience a film in any other language than the one the actors spoke on set? I can’t think of a good reason. Sadly, a lot of people refuse to watch foreign films because they don’t like subtitles. Is this because of they can’t keep up or because they think that it’s too much work? If it’s the first reason, I’d actually argue that watching a subtitled film could help increase a person’s ability to read at a quicker pace. If it’s the second reason, I’d have to disagree. Watching a subtitled film may be different, to be sure, but once you get used to it, it’s a lot like watching any regular old Hollywood flick.

That’s another big reason to watch foreign films. They’re so different from films made under the Hollywood system, and believe me, there is one. I find it refreshing to watch a movie that I just can’t predict. For example, in Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Three Colors trilogy, which I hope to write about in a future entry, I was struck as I was watching White that I had no idea what might happen in the next scene. That’s huge. Far too often with mainstream American films, it becomes a matter of time before an observant audience member can narrow down the outcome to one of a handful of scenarios, which is why watching Kieslowski’s films was so refreshing. Because I didn’t understand everything right away, I was able to actively participate in the experience. I had to actually think about what I was watching and, after it was done, what it meant.

Lately, I’ve been watching more and more foreign films, and I have to say that I wish more American filmmakers would take the kind of risks that international filmmakers seem to take with relative ease. For starters, how great would it be if they stopped trying to hold the audience’s hand all the time by showing us everything and telling us exactly what to think about what we’re seeing? I think that’d be pretty swell. My “research” (and, man, has it been great) has led to films from all over the geographic and stylistic map. Films like the Three Colors trilogy, 4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days, A Very Long Engagement, The Lives of Others, L’Enfant, La Vie En Rose, Volver, 2046, Good Bye Lenin!, Pan’s Labyrinth, I’ve Loved You So Long, and Happy-Go-Lucky have made for almost always interesting, sometimes perplexing, and even thrilling cinema.

But how does someone keep track of what films are worth watching? I’d start with taking keeping tabs on the films that are selected as part of the official competition at the Cannes Film Festival, particularly those that win the Palme d’Or. Once you find a film you like, watch more films in that director’s catalog. Also, if there’s a particular genre of film you like, don’t forget that genre films are made all over the world. Personally, there’s this little mobster movie from Italy called Gomorrah that I have my eye on . . .

In the end, what cinephile wouldn't want to see great films no matter where they come from? As you know by now, the movies are a huge part of my life, and I'm thrilled to see great films regardless of where they're made and what language they're in. They remind me that the grass is green, the sky is blue, and, no matter what, the sun still shines. . . and not just in America.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Why I Hate Pixar!

Dear Pixar,

You suck! Seriously stop it and stop it right now! Who do you think you are? Enough is enough and I’m not going to take it anymore!

First how dare you make me almost cry at your stupid movies! I’m a grown…ish man and that crap’s for kids and hormonal women. FINDING NEMO, THE INCREDIBLES, WALL-E and now stupid UP have all almost (Or in some cases actually have) brought me to tears. I won’t stand for that crap. What if I had a date with me and I was trying to look cool or something? I can’t have her thinking I’m all sensitive and that I have feelings.

Second, don’t you understand what “family entertainment” means? It means you make a flashy, noisy spectacle that distracts the young ones, not enlightens, educates and entertains them all at the same time. I mean come on if I were a parent you think I want to bring my kid to a movie that’s going to make them ask questions and engage me in deep, meaningful conversations? I’m taking them to the movies to shut them up, not provoke discussion. That kind of crap is for their teachers! I’d want to take my tikes home and put them right to bed so I could make-out with their mom, something I could actually do in the theatre with stuff like ICE AGE, but that I’d find near impossible with your films. Stop making your movies so damn accessible and entertaining to all ages! Not yet, but some day I’m sure it will mess with my game.

You see your movies are just too darn much trouble. Every time a new one comes out I have to weigh it against your past masterpieces and it’s getting old. I mean do you have any idea how frustrating it is to debate if UP is better than WALL-E?

On top of all this you’re just making everyone else look bad. Have you no feelings? I mean would it kill you to throw a ringer in there every so often? At this point you’re just embarrassing pretty much everyone else because to the best of my recollection I can’t think of a studio in the history of Hollywood that has your kind of track record. Seriously, you’re just being mean and spiteful at this point. I mean I figured you might finally hit a speed bump when you made a movie about an old man and a flying house, but nooo… you’re just too darn perfect aren’t you? You just had to go and make one of the most touching pieces of cinema I’ve ever seen didn’t you?

Please, I’m begging you, just stop. Just for a little while. You’re making everyone else look bad, you’re making everyone that watches your movies better for it and you’re making money hand over fist. The rest of America… heck the world is suffering, is it really so much to ask that you lower your standards just a little bit?

It’s frustrating because at the end of the day I know this is going to fall on deaf ears. I know next year I’ll go into TOY STORY 3 and you’ll do it to me all over again. Of course I know it won’t stop there. How could it? You guys put too much value on story and character. You put more heart, soul, emotion, imagination and brains into each frame of film than most studios do in their entire line-up. No matter how hard I try I know you’re gonna make me laugh, cry and cheer. You’re going to entertain everyone in the theatre and put almost every other movie to shame. For now though I’ll have to put up with UP. I’ll have to see it multiple times, cry like a girly man and wait for whatever you’re gonna inflict on me next. Stupid Pixar.

Where's the Mclovin?

I REALLY REALLY like TERMINATOR SALVATION. Of course I know several people and more than a few critics that didn’t. Going into the theatre I was a little worried because the film got beat up pretty good by the online press. In fact watching the movie for the first time (I’ve since seen it again) was one of tenser movie-going experiences of my life. The entire time I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, I kept waiting for it to all come off the rails devolve into the train wreck I had read it was. But that moment never came. Instead of walking out of the theatre pissed and disappointed I was scratching my head trying to figure out where the love is?

Geeks are a fickle crowd. We know what we like and we know what we want and often times if you don’t deliver EXACTLY that things can get ugly. I’m not sure what everyone was expecting out of TERMINATOR SALVATION but the movie delivered exactly what McG said it was going to be, a futuristic war movie.

TERMINATOR SALVATION is unlike any Terminator film ever made, but that’s not a bad thing. The movie is tackling a different kind of story. It’s not about female empowerment and Sarah Conner, heck it’s not even about Terminators! Instead it’s a movie about John Conner stumbling into the path of his destiny and the redemption of a brand new character to the Terminator mythos. The movie sets up everything so that we can watch the resistance grow, struggle and persevere to the point that leads to the desperate actions of Skynet and the resistance seen in the original TERMINATOR.

People have been complaining that John Conner isn’t very likeable in this movie. They’re right, but he’s not meant to be. John Conner has NEVER been that likeable. We’ve always rooted for Sarah Conner, Kyle Reese or Arnold. This movie doesn’t change that template, instead it begins to illustrate HOW John became someone that people would follow unquestionably. John literally has a change of heart at the end of the movie and I think that was done just as much for Marcus Wright’s character arc as it was for John’s.

Likewise since our first glimpses of the future war in 1984 I think many people have had their “vision” of what that war will look like. Because this movie doesn’t exactly followed their preconceived ideas (It can’t because Judgment Day didn’t happen like it was supposed to, not just changing the timeline but pretty much everything else) they feel like they’ve been robbed. How you can feel robbed of something that never really existed (Save in the mind of James Cameron) I don’t know, but that seems to be what some people feel.

Ultimately TERMINATOR SALVATION is a kick-ass futuristic war film. That’s what it was meant to be from the beginning. It’s huge, with great action, direction and special effects. Best of all it’s obvious that it’s made by a full blown TERMINATOR geek. There’s so much TERMINATOR fetishism on display it’s not even funny. If you’ve put off seeing this movie please don’t. Go in understanding that this is not a normal TERMINATOR film in the conventional sense and you should have a pretty darn entertaining time.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

FotM: The Ultimate

I have no cool reason like Megan to excuse my tardiness with this feature as I haven’t been embroiled in post-production on my first feature film, so I will have to hope that you are feeling merciful as you read this.

When a decision is made to make a sequel to a feature film, there are two main motivating reasons. First, either the filmmaker or the studio responsible for the first film decides that there’s potential for longevity with the set of established characters and a sequel is warranted or even needed to finish the story. Second, (and this is the primary reason, in my opinion) the decision to make a sequel is made in the hopes of milking the success of the original film for all it’s worth, and, as such, is heavily based in little dollar signs floating around in the starry eyes of studio bigs. That said, the sequel is a tricky thing to navigate. While there have been some successful sequels made, there have been far too many awful attempts at filmmaking to mention. What’s even more rare is the film that does more than merely continue a story established earlier and moves into that strange, awestruck place where it’s on par with the original film.

When you’re talking about sequels, there’s one film that is the elephant in the room. It’s one of the finest examples of cinematic craftsmanship I can think of, and the fact that it’s as good as it is a bit of miracle. I’m talking about what I believe is the greatest sequel ever made. I’m talking about The Godfather: Part II.

Now, The Godfather is, in many ways, the ultimate marriage of art and popular entertainment that the cinema has ever seen. It elevated a pretty terrific pulp novel by Mario Puzo into the stratosphere of film’s all-time greats. It succeeds on almost every level. It’s a fantastically made film from almost every standpoint and, at the same time, is wonderfully entertaining. What’s more, The Godfather has something special that simply can’t be duplicated. It has a very specific feel to it. You know from the very beginning that you’re watching The Godfather. You’re not going to mistake it for anything else.

That’s what makes the existence of The Godfather: Part II such a miracle. From almost the very beginning, it feels completely right. In my mind, it’s the rarest of all sequels in that it actually rivals its predecessor as an achievement. After watching the two films once, I actually liked it more than the first film. Now, after watching them again, I tend lean more the other way. However, think for a moment about what I’m saying. I’m stacking up another film against The Godfather. That’s no small feat.

So what makes The Godfather: Part II work so well? I think the two main things that really elevate it is the collaboration of Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo on the script and the wall-to-wall excellent performances. As I mentioned earlier, Puzo wrote the original novel that the first film was based on, which ends after the events portrayed in the first film, although the flashback sequences in The Godfather: Part II are also in the book. Having Puzo there to help flesh out what the characters would do next was, I think, a tremendous gift that empowered Coppola, as skilled of a writer as he is, to take the story forward to incredible heights. In addition, the performances, particularly in the case of Al Pacino, are just outstanding. Pacino plays Michael Corleone like a coiled snake. That snake might look peaceful a lot of the time, but you just never know when it’ll strike with deadly accuracy. Additionally, John Cazale is wonderful as Fredo Corleone. In many ways, he becomes the soul of The Godfather: Part II, and what happens to his character is moving and unforgettable. He has a scene with Pacino that is as good as just about any scene from any film that I can think of. What’s more, The Godfather: Part II signified the arrival of one Robert De Niro on the cinematic scene. As a young Vito Corleone, he’s truly awesome. Although Diane Keaton won an Oscar for Annie Hall, I think that her performance here is even better. She has a scene with Pacino that is so good, it’s actually jaw-dropping.

At its heart, The Godfather: Part II is a film that concerns itself with how a person can begin doing something disreputable for noble reasons and end up losing sight of who they are. One thing that makes it particularly effective is its dual structure. Coppola cross-cuts between the rise of Vito Corleone between 1917-1925 and the growth of Michael Corleone’s empire in 1958. I think the reason that the disparity between the two of them is so apparent is because, with Vito, one always gets the sense that, regardless of the legality of what he’s doing, he’s doing it for honorable, understandable reasons. On the other hand, with Michael, he comes across as much colder and more calculating, and, as such, he doesn’t get the audience’s support in the same way. We admire Vito, but we pity Michael.

Unfortunately, the third time would NOT prove to be a charm for Coppola, as he tried to stretch the magic out with a third film. However, the fact that he was able to make an incredible film not once, but twice is astounding. In 2007, I had the honor of showing The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II to a group of “Godfather virgins.” It was a truly awesome experience. Just when they thought they’d figured out what was going to happen, they were blown away. One of my friends, who isn’t the biggest film fan, now considers those two films to be among her all-time favorites. That’s something that I’m very proud of, and, in a way, that’s the point of this blog. Megan, FilmNinja, Chris W. and I all love the movies and try to expose you to films that have moved us in the hopes that they might move you too. For cinephiles like us, there’s no greater joy than seeing a great film, but encouraging other people to see it too comes close.

It amazes me that a lot of people I talk to haven’t seen The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II. There are a bunch of films that I’d say that someone who loves the movies ought to see, but these are two films that I’d say that any movie buff, fan, or aficionado on any level owes it himself/herself to see.

Maybe you’re one of these people who hasn’t seen them yet. If you are, don’t wait another minute. Don’t walk, run to wherever you have to go to rent/buy them. I envy the experience you’re about to have.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Just a little effort is all I'm asking.

I got involved in a very long but quite entertaining conversation tonight. It centered around an individual’s taste in movies and entertainment in general. This person that I had the debate with is someone who for the most part I find to have pretty good taste or at least a taste that runs along the same wave length as mine. Recently however we have found ourselves more and more at odds with some of the things we vehemently like and dislike. In the course of this heated discussion I think I was finally able to encapsulate that which really effects my like or dislike of a particular movie.

I hate WOLVERINE and TWILIGHT because they don’t try. They are the perfect examples of studio movies that realized they could make money based on the name brand alone and as such they never put in an ounce of effort to make something memorable or classic. They made Teflon because they knew they could do so quick and easy and still line their wallets.

I love IRON MAN, STAR TREK and THE DARK KNIGHT because they try. The studios and film makers involved realized that while they could just phone it in, if they actually sat down and came up with interesting characters and stories, if they put just as much time into the special effects as they did the script they could make movies that had legs, movies that people would fall in love with and watch over and over again. They were smart enough to realize that these movies would make money hand over fist because they would stick with people and they would be revisited by ravenous fans. This would in turn make their movies HUGE successes but also set up franchises that would last for years instead of the sugary, forgettable, Saturday morning cartoon mentality that’s embraced by so many other blockbusters.

Sure that extra effort is hard. Sure it causes some headaches and may mean you can’t quite meet whatever release date you’ve had carved out for the last half decade, but at the end of the day it’s worth it. What no studio wants to admit, yet every movie-goer proves over and over again with their hard earned money is that we notice this.

Sure we may throw cash at your piece of crap the first week but once everyone figures out it sucks it’s not gonna do so well. As such your piece of crap movie really has only ONE weekend to make as much money as it can. If you make a good movie however it’s a totally different story. There’s a pretty good chance it’ll open to decent numbers and then STAY THERE as everyone that falls in love with it tells their friends and then they tell their friends and so on. If you don’t believe me look at how much STAR TREK dropped off in it’s second weekend compared to WOLVERINE.

I’ll admit that as a film maker whose put a lot of blood, sweat, tears and EFFORT into making a movie over the past year this is a very sensitive issue for me at the moment. I’ve seen what it’s taken to make my movie, I see the unfathomable amount of imagination, heart and effort creative artists put into their work and then I see something that’s crap with a painted on gold varnish and I’ll be quite honest it pisses me off. I don’t think I’m getting snobby, I don’t think I’m being too harsh I’m just finally at the point where I realize my time, money and the creative efforts of true artists are far too valuable to be wasted on people and product that simply don’t give a damn.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Brother's Bloom

If you haven't heard of The Brother's Bloom you are probably not alone. However, I can safely say that I am more than excited that it will be coming to a theatre near me very soon.

Why you ask?

I am excited because in 2005 I went to the theatre on a whim, bought my ticket to a movie with a strange one word title, was handed a glossary so that I would understand the words the films characters were going to be using and two hours later I had discovered Brick.

I have waited with baited breath since then for Rian Johnson to make a follow-up film and I hope it is going to be every bit as phenominal.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Calm Down Wolverine

I knew wolverine was going to suck! But I saw it anyway. If watching a grown man yell and run around slashing things was all it took to excite me, then I probably would have praised spiderman 3. But when they come out with spiderman 4, I will be there. When they do the new robocop, I will be one of the first in line. When George Lucas dies, and someone talented gets the rights to do some amazing star wars movies, future me will take my kid out of school so that he can recover from a good midnight show. I go because I love the characters. Good writing or bad, I love the characters, and the possibility of crap is worth it because not having more is so much worse. And maybe, just maybe, I will be among the first to experience a fresh vision that will renew my love for the character, and bring new members into the club. Dark knight, the new hulk, Jason vorhees, and now, star trek.

I could go on and on about old characters that are getting makeovers so that new generations will realize that all the cool stuff happened long before they were born. Finally Hollywood has learned that their new ideas suck. Get the old ones back out and make them the way you couldn't years ago. I love the fresh look of transformers and terminator, but I find myself excited about other classics that I wasn't previously a fan. I don't know squat about G I Joe, but it looks badass. I thought speed racer was the worst cartoon ever, but the movie was awesome And that is what brings me to star trek. I have always enjoyed the show and movies, but was never a die hard fan. But I was curious to find out if a new vision would change that. This will be the first star trek movie I will own and I can't wait for a sequel.

Remakes are hard. It is impossible to please everyone, especially with years of material and different story lines to choose from. But I think they did it brilliantly. By saying the rift in time created a new reality, they say that everything Trekkies know and love is true, but now this is also true. The actors can respect the characters, but make them their own. I think it is clever and respectful of the source material. But more importantly it is a great movie, with lovable characters, and a well written story.

So while wolverine is at the bar, shamefully drinking so that he can remember why he made such a bad movie, I will be looking forward to hanging out with classic characters, and some new favs. May they all go where they haven't gone before.

Monday, May 11, 2009

When “Holy Freakin’ Trek!!!!” isn’t quite strong enough

A few months ago, I gave you my thoughts on the summer’s upcoming movies. As you might recall, I expressed hope that a few of them might break the streak of summer movie disappointments and actually end up being enjoyable. There was one film, however, that earned particularly scathing remarks from me regarding its very existence. In the time since posting my thoughts, I began to undergo a change in my feelings regarding that film. For one, I couldn’t deny that it just looked cool. Then the reviews started coming in, and they weren’t good. They were great. So, I decided that, despite my initial reluctance to see the film, I would rather take the chance and see the film than miss out on seeing something that might be potentially great. I want you to know that, going in, I was completely ready to come here and eat crow if I was proved wrong.

Well, tonight, I did it. I saw Star Trek.

There are not enough polite words in the English, French, or Klingon languages to convey my disappointment at the excrement that I just sat through.

Almost each and every one of my fears regarding the film’s approach was proved right. I am appalled at the utter and complete disregard to the source material shown by J.J. Abrams. However, Abrams has one glaring strike against him. He’s not a fan. He has absolutely NO idea how to deal with this material. None whatsoever.

Spoilers follow and end after this paragraph: First of all, Abrams, by destroying the planet Vulcan, (which was a completely stupid idea) you have done more than remove a fictional planet from a fictional universe. You’ve altered the very fabric of everything that I hold dear about the Star Trek Universe. EVERYTHING. What’s more is that I’m expected to applaud this. I’m supposed to be happy that you’ve given my beloved franchise a proverbial shot in the arm. I’m expected to be happy that Spock and Uhura are lovers???? LOVERS??? Give me a break. That’s a truly insipidly stupid, unintelligent, thick-headed, dumber than a numbskull idea. What do you think I am, five? Oh, I get it. You thought that’d be cool, just like you thought that whoever wrote some of Leonard Nimoy’s dialogue wasn’t a total moron. And what in the name of Surak made you think that the way you shot this was going to work? Well, I guess I should be fair. It works. Just not nearly as well as you thought. I will give you credit on three instances of casting. Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, and particularly Anton Yelchin were all terrific choices. That’s all you get. Back to the important stuff . . . why on earth would you have Spock maroon Kirk? That’s retarded, and completely illogical. Additionally, Orci and Kurtzman, you’re not supposed to go to warp inside of a solar system. It’s extremely dangerous. Guess that kind of blows your brilliant idea of having the Enterprise pop out of warp behind Titan. Uh-huh. In case you don’t follow my reasoning, that’s because Titan is a moon of the planet Saturn, which I guess you know, since you had the characters say as much. What you might not know is that Saturn is actually a part of a group of planets that revolve around the same star, which would make that group of planets a solar system. Sorry if that was too much for you.

Oh, and one more thing.When you want the captain to address the entire crew at once, here’s what you’re supposed to him say: “All decks, all stations, this is the captain.” Want to know how I know that?

It’s because I’m a Trekkie. Don’t worry. You can’t possibly understand.

Friday, May 8, 2009


They need to make more movies like STAR TREK. A lot more! You’re going to have to excuse me because right up front I’m going to warn you, I’m not sure how much sense this will make. I’m still on an adrenaline high. I’m still in geek nirvana. I’m the happiest I’ve been after seeing a movie in AGES. I am sitting here at 12:30 at night too amped to go to sleep because tonight I was reminded why I love movies and why after all these years I still love STAR TREK so darn much.

They got it right. ALL OF IT! J.J. Abrams and his gang nailed it. They hit a grand slam. They made THE movie of not only the summer, but perhaps the year. For anyone who had their doubts, for anyone who thought that the Bad Robot bunch was about to bastardize one of the greatest legacies in history of sci-fi there’s 126 minutes worth of film waiting in a theatre, right at this very moment to prove you wrong.

STAR TREK is a film that will make die-hard Trekkies and Trekkers wet themselves with glee. It will make them whoop and holler and stand up and cheer throughout it’s entire running time. In the same brilliant, master stroke the film will have pretty much the exact same effect on people who don’t know a Vulcan from a Klingon. STAR TREK is one of those VERY rare movies that I quite literally can’t see anyone not liking. It’s that well done, that smart, that mind blowingly dazzling and most importantly that much freaking fun.

Every actor in the film immediately becomes their character, characters that have existed for some 40 odd years, characters that no one (Myself included) ever thought could be played by anyone else. The instant these actors show up on screen they not only make the characters their own, but more importantly they pay homage to and do nothing to destroy those that have inhabited the roles before them. In the midst of all this each and every single one of these actors becomes an instant movie star. Mark my words Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho and Anton Yelchin have all enjoyed varying levels of success up until this point but this movie, these roles will put them front and center in the minds of every film lover in the world. They will explode, they will become larger than life and they will become the bastions of awesome, sci-fi cool to a whole new generation of emerging geeks.

I’ve stated before that I think THE DARK KNIGHT is the best film I’ve seen in perhaps the past 5 years. Well, if THE DARK KNIGHT is the best film I’ve seen in the past half decade, I think STAR TREK might be just the most pure, flat-out fun. Honestly I have to think all the way back to THE INCREDIBLES (Which if you know me is no faint praise indeed) to think of the last time I had this much fun at the theatre.

This may sound like hyperbole but at the moment I can’t help but think of STAR TREK as the RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK of sci-fi films. From the moment it starts till the moment it ends IT DOES NOT STOP! There is something for EVERYONE in this movie. You thrill and transform into a 10 year old kid again and when it’s all over you leave the theatre with a gigantic smile plastered on your face, trying to figure out when you’ll be able to see it again.

For all intents and purposes Paramount has a license to print money with this movie. This thing will be beyond huge! This film will be seen multiple times in the theatre. Geeks like me will see it then we’ll take our friends and family back for double, triple, quadruple doses. I mean I know I’m already seeing it again Sunday and yet I still want to try to sneak in one more showing between now and then.

STAR TREK is everything that a summer blockbuster or, pretty much ANY movie should be. It’s smart, engaging and yet it will still wow you and knock your socks off like so few movies can. This movie cleanses the abysmal aftertaste of X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE from my mind. It makes me remember why I love STAR TREK so darn much and it helps further solidify my idea that J.J. Abrams can literally do pretty much anything. This is the one we’ve ALL been waiting for. It’s everything people say it is and so much more. Run, don’t walk to the theatre. Ditch school, call in sick, blow off appointments, do whatever it takes to get yourself into a theatre to see this cinematic gold nugget! THANK YOU SO MUCH TO EVERYONE THAT MADE THIS MOVIE! You made my year.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Where No Man Has Gone Before

To Boldly Go...
Originally uploaded by Decepticreep
I for one am uber excited about Star Trek tomorrow, with the Imax ticket burning a hole in my pocket and waiting for 7 pm to roll around – but there are things being said about this movie that astound me. Reviews I didn’t think possible for a Star Trek movie. I thought I would share some of my favorites. I can only hope the movie lives up to the hype.

I personally am excited because Star Trek has always been so inaccessible and “geeky” to anyone not familiar with the franchise and I hope this movie breaks that away.

“It doesn’t matter if you’ve never seen ‘Star Trek’ because it’s self-contained and so rousing you may hardly be able to contain yourself.”
Gene Shalit TODAY

“This year’s ‘Iron Man’.”
Geoff Boucher LA TIMES

“Familiarity with the franchise is irrelevant. ‘Star Trek’ is exciting on its own terms.”
Todd McCarthy VARIETY

“No ‘Star Trek’ has ever been this thrilling.”

“’Star Trek’ feels like a frontier worth exploring again.”

“Even if you don't know the difference between a Vulcan and a Romulan, you'll love it!”
Steve Oldfield, WFOX

“This generation's ‘Star Wars.’”
Kirk Montgomery, KNBC

“Not only does this Star Trek proffer smart thrills and slick kicks, but it builds upon the original's history–from its very first pilot episode to Robert Wise's 1979 "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" and beyond–while creating an entirely new future.”
Robert Wilonsky, VILLAGE VOICE

“Odd-number curse be gone. The most exhilarating Trek to date marks a new future for Kirk and co. If this can boldly go on to seek out ideas to match its speed and style, a franchise is reborn.”
Colin Kennedy, EMPIRE

For full reviews go to Those of you that were disappointed in Wolverine, I don’t think Star Trek is going to disappoint.

Monday, May 4, 2009

FotM: Rebel Filmmaking

Originally uploaded by chuckmo
I may be a little late with the April feature of the month, but that’s because I’m in the final throes of pushing my movie out of post production. Tough stuff this indy filmmaking. Perhaps that’s why I decided to write about a Robert Rodriguez film.

Those in the know of indy film know that in the 90’s Rodriguez was one of the bold new voices that revolutionized the world of film – and he did it with a movie he made all by himself in Mexico during summer vacation called El Mariachi. While I admit that El Mariachi is quite the impossible feat I did not discover Rodriguez through his low budget gun-slinging mariachi film, I discovered him because of the follow-up to that film - Desperado.

When I first watched Desperado I loved it. I was a high school student and the action, dialogue and general coolness exuded from the film and drew me in. As I got into filmmaking and learned more about Rodriguez the film became even more special- Desperado is not only a superior film to El Mariachi but the film is the embodiment of what every young filmmaker hopes for, it’s the golden ticket, the blank check, the first real green light in the big leagues.

You see El Mariachi was a tiny movie initially put together by Rodriguez for $7,000 on the hopes that he could sell it to the Spanish video market or at least learn from his mistakes. But it got interest. He got an agent. The film was bought & released. Soon afterward the studio approached Rodriguez to make Desperado and Rodriguez was no longer working with friends on break from school, or random people who were interested in his film; now the Mariachi was played by Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek was the damsel and Steve Buscemi, Cheech Marin & Quentin Tarantino also starred. Rodriguez was given the opportunity to make a real, large studio film and he excelled.

In Desperado Rodriguez didn’t try to play it safe, he pushed to make a great film and the success of Desperado is completely based on the level of quality he pushed out. To this day Steve Buscemi’s opening dialogue in the Mexican bar is still one of my favorite film gags in any action movie, I still think that Hayek’s Carolina is an excellent sharp-tongued damsel and no one can sling a guitar case like Banderas.

If you haven’t seen Rodriguez’s Mexico Trilogy I encourage you to at least take the time to see the first two films. You’ll enjoy El Mariachi but in the end I think you will agree with me that Desperado is the better of the two.