Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cool Sh*t!!- Water for Elephants Trailer

Apple recently released the trailer to the upcoming period piece film Water For Elephants. The film is based off the incredible novel by the same name and stars Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, and Christoph Waltz. The story is set in the Great Depression era and is about a vet student named Jacob who runs away right before finals at school when he finds out that his parents were killed in a car crash. He soon finds himself traveling with a mediocre circus as their vet. There he meets a circus performer named Marlena and sparks fly. Unfortunately, she's already married and to the psychotic animal trainer whatnot. I really loved the novel and have been looking forward to the film for awhile. I definitely did not picture Robert Pattinson or Reese Witherspoon to be Jacob and Marlena but I can see why they were chosen. Right now Pattinson seems like he'll be stuck in the Romance genre forever cause his name sells well in that category, and who doesn't love Reese Witherspoon. I do however LOVE the idea of Christoph Waltz as Marlena's crazy husband August. Having Robert Pattinson in the cast, it looks like the movie is being marketed as another Twilight. Just watch the trailer. It just looks like a love triangle film than anything. I can guarantee that the novel is much more than a simple love triangle story. Author Sara Gruen did impeccable research on the Great Depression and what it must have been like working for a circus during that time. The novel's about Jacob's experiences while at the circus and his relationship with Marlena and her husband, other members of the staff, and the animals, especially one Elephant named Rosie. I just hope the film doesn't screw it up.

Cool Sh*t!!- 2010 Filmography Mashup Video


One video editor named Gen I created a huge video mash-up of several of the films released this year. By several, I mean 270 movies! This person went and snagged all the movie content they could get their hands on in order to make this video. And I really mean all of it- the good, the bad, and the ugly. However, whats neat about this video is it makes even the shittiest movies of the year look cool seeing it in this context. I did notice that it was missing some films, buts it's okay cause the video is still good without it. I can't imagine how long this must have taken. See the video below and the music credits below that.



Music:
1. Ratatat - Nostrand - http://tinyurl.com/2ahhhj9
2. Kanye West - Power - http://tinyurl.com/27mpo83
3. Rooney - Not In My House - http://tinyurl.com/23vpakx
4. Apartment - Fall Into Place - http://tinyurl.com/2fnsnkc
5. Civil Twilight - Letters from the Sky - http://tinyurl.com/2fwrlys
6. SUNBEARS! - Little Baby Pines - http://tinyurl.com/26d9brn

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bitchin' Ads- Google Zeitgeist Commercial

At the end of each year, Google comes out with their Zeitgeist list which is a compilation of the biggest stories and the most searched terms of the entire year. Google got creative this year by putting it in video form with their newest commercial. Check out the video below. It's a great summary of the year and really puts a lot of stuff into perspective. Not surprisingly, Justin Bieber made it one the list. Get the full list here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Music Review- Tron Legacy by Daft Punk

I've been uber excited to listen to the Tron Legacy soundtrack ever since I heard that Daft Punk would be doing the score and I've been even more excited after hearing how well Trent Reznor's electronic rock score complimented The Social Network film. This sort of European electronic rock music isn't something I typically listen to, but upon first hearing Daft Punk would be collaborating with the Tron Legacy film, it seemed like the perfect match. I'm one of the few geeks my age who actually saw the first Tron, and I think Daft Punk's electric sound goes very well with Tron's 80s, futuristic vibe. After months of waiting and bits of teaser tracks released, I finally got my hands on the sound track last week when it was released.

So what was my impression? Well first thing I noticed was there was a lot more orchestral stuff going on than I was expecting. Based off of the teaser tracks that were previously released beforehand (Derezzed, The Game Has Changed), it sounded like it would be an all out electric sounding score. Not that I'm complaining. I thought the orchestral movements sounded a lot like Hans Zimmern's score in Inception, and upon closer inspection, apparently Hans Zimmern did contribute some of his talent to the Tron Legacy score. Think of that sort of epic, substantial sound the Inception score had and mix it with Daft Punk's signature electric, fist pumping sound- that's what the Tron Legacy score sounds like. It's a perfect blend for a movie of this caliber.

Just listening to the soundtrack gets me pumped up, so I can imagine what sort of jump-out-of-your-seat action sequences we're going to get when we see the music put together film. If you're a fan of Daft Punk, I'd definitely recommend this soundtrack. It's certainly something different from them but they still have their signature touch on it. Oh, and don't worry about the track listings spoiling movie plot points for you (cause that tends to happen quite often with movie soundtracks) cause the track names are pretty ambiguous sounding. Now I can't wait to see the film!

Final Score- 9/10

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Movie Review- Black Swan

Last Friday Black Swan was released in only 18 theaters nationwide, yet it managed to muster up $1.4 million, making it a record in terms of average dollar made per theater prompting Fox to announce more release dates over the next couple weeks! See the release date list here. I luckily had a few of my local theaters playing so I got the fortunate chance of seeing it that weekend. It became very clear why this movie was the most sought after film to watch at the Toronto Film Festival and I've been giddy for a chance to watch it ever since. Black Swan was a phenomenal masterpiece by Darren Aronofsky and this following up with The Wrestler will surely make him one of the most sought after directors.

Though I've never seen The Wrestler, I know the basic premise to understand why people call it and The Black Swan brother and sister pieces. We've got two very different art forms on the completely opposite ends of spectrum, yet it engulfs an artist mentally and physically by having them put their bodies through incredible physical abuse for the purpose of public entertainment. In The Black Swan, the story follows Nina Sayers, who's played by Natalie Portman, a ballerina at some New York City dance company. The company is run their slimy creative director Thomas Leroy who decides their next project is to be his new rendition of Swan Lake. He is kicking out the company's current prima ballerina Beth Macintyre (played by Winona Ryder) in order to bring in a new, young one. Nina, being an incredibly dedicated dancer, is determined to get the part of the Swan Queen, but in order to do so, she must be able to embody the sweet and innocent white swan as well as the sensual and seductive black swan. Nina easily gets the part of the white swan down, but the director wonders if she can handle the part of the black swan; however, he is soon convinced she does have a darker side hidden deep underneath and takes a chance by casting her in the part. Soon, she beings to feel threatened by a new arrival at the company named Lily (played by Mila Kunis) who plays the part of the seductive black swan perfectly. Nina sees Lily to be very much the hidden darker side of herself and soon, from the competition she alludes along with the incredible demands of perfection from Thomas and her psychotic mother, Nina begins to explore her darker side pushing her into a dangerous and twisted world in her own mind.

At the beginning of the film, we see Nina as an adult forced into staying a little girl. She talks with a tiny voice, she's pressured to stay so thin that shes absolutely boob-less, she's babied by her mother, and is clearly sexually deprived. As she changes from being a shy, innocent girl to a dark and dangerous one, we get many contrasts of good and evil, light and dark. Nina is usually seen wearing white and pink throughout the film, while Lily and Nina's evil hallucinations of herself are seen wearing black. As Nina descends deeper and deeper in darkness, she gradually transforms more and more into a black swan and by the final act, we see her complete transformation. I heard in one interview, Darren Aronofsky describe it as a werewolf-ballerina movie.

Nina's journey into becoming the black swan is a trippy and dark one. It did remind me quite a bit like Requiem for a Dream. The movie moves at a steady pace, and suddenly descends on a intense and spiraling trip as it reaches the end. There are plenty of horror elements in the film. Not really pop out and jump scares, but mind fucking scares. It seeps into the sort of irrational fears we have such as thinking we're going to see a face staring back out at us when we look through a window. As we approach the final act, you're left wondering what things are really taking place and what Nina is just imagining. It's all a big thrill ride and I found myself clutching the theater seat the entire last half hour of the movie.

The entire film is one big allegory to the Swan Lake story. If you look at the cast, their named by two roles they play. For example we have Nina/The Swan Queen, Lily/The Black Swan, Thomas/The Gentleman, Beth/The Dying Swan etc. If you know what happens at the end of Swan Lake, you can probably guess what happens at the end of this movie. I loved Natalie Portman as Nina in the film. This further proves the fact that Natalie Portman is just too perfect at everything she does and must not be human. I heard that she and Mila Kunis had to practice ballet technique five hours a day, seven days a week for six months. I'm curious to know how much of the film was actually her dancing- I heard she did have a dance double for certain shots. Mila Kunis did well as Lily and it was nice to see her break away from comedy for a bit. Vincent Cassel was a great choice for Thomas with his kind of strange yet good looks. I'm really hoping Natalie will win the Oscar for this one.

When I went to go see 127 Hours, a trailer for The Black Swan came on and when it ended, some pretentious asshat behind me coughed "really gay" loudly in the theater. I hope no guys out there are dissuaded to see this film because its about ballerinas. It's a marvelous thrill ride that can demand the attention of a diverse audience. It's creative, scary, sexy and exciting. The cinematography is gorgeous, the score is beautiful, Nina's transformation sequences look great, the acting is tremendous, and of course the directing is top notch. Aronofsky has managed to create a beautifully crafted nightmarish masterpiece.

Final Score- 10/10

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Movie Review- 127 Hours

This year's winter film lineup is definitely redeeming the shitty summer movie season we got a earlier this year, thank god. I'm really looking forward to seeing and reviewing some of the films coming out this month such as Black Swan, True Grit, Tron Legacy and Biutiful. I finally got to see 127 Hours yesterday after weeks and weeks of postponing plans to go and watch it. I was really looking forward to seeing after hearing so much buzz about it during film festival season. It made me sad that I had to make my way out to one of the junky theaters in my area to watch it cause none of the nice ones were playing it. Their loss cause this is one amazing film.

The plot of this movie is really basic- I'm sure most of you have probably heard about this story before this film. Extreme mountaineer Aron Ralston goes out for a hike one weekend in a tiny canyon in Utah. A nice, easy hike soon takes a turn for the worst when a loose boulder falls and crushes his arm, trapping him in a narrow, deep canyon. Aron then spends the next five and a half days there in canyon reflecting back on moments in his life, his family, a past lover, the last two people he met, and a son he envisions to have in the future. The majority of the film is just focused on this one spot in the canyon and the entire movie is really a one man show. You don't see too many movies that focus on just one actor the entire time because it's hard to keep audiences interested. You really need to find the right type of actor to be able to pull it off and I think James Franco did a wonderful job holding the screen for an hour and a half.

An hour and a half of a movie that is focused on one spot sounds kind of boring, but Danny Boyle was wonderfully creative in making a varietal mix of different scenes. I believe he used two cinematographers with extremely different styles to shoot the film who did not consult with one another. He then cut and pasted a blend of the two styles. A lot of the film is also seen through a video camcorder that Aron had with him which he used to document his imprisonment. One of my favorite scenes is when James Franco puts on a fake talk show with his camcorder and takes on two different personalities. There were also many hallucination/dream sequences that felt very real. If you're caught in that limbo between being awake and asleep, these scenes are very much like that. Overall, the style of the film reminded me very much of Danny Boyle's previous film Slumdog Millionaire. It jumps back and fourth, its loud and exciting, colorful, and has a great score that goes with it. Boyle teamed up with A.R Rahman once again for this film and worked perfectly with it.

After seeing the film, I randomly turned on the TV that night and Jay Leno was playing. By mere happenstance, the guest he brought on was the real life hero Aron Ralston himself. During his interview with Jay Leno, he spoke about his time in the canyon and a lot of it matched exactly how the film portrayed it. In the movie, he had with him a a cheap pocket knife which he initially tried to use to chip away at the rock but eventually attempted to cut away at his arm with it; unfortunately the blade was just too dull to get through his bone, especially after chipping away at the rock for so long. Mr. Ralston described the situation to be very much the same. He also did have a camcorder which he used to film himself in the canyon and a small clip of it was played on the show. In the clip, what was said was pretty much verbatim to what was recorded in the film. Even the look of the film looked very much like the actual pictures Aron took of himself in the canyon.

The film also had some delicious piss slurping scenes and Mr. Ralston confirmed that he was indeed drinking his own urine during his five day lockdown. The movie managed to make water look like the most delicious, god given substance on Earth and I no longer wanted the Cherry Coke I was sipping. Towards the end of the movie, we saw a vision Aron had of a young boy which would be his future son and that was the moment when he pulled together all his strength to finally detach his arm. On the Jay Leno show, Aron confirmed that he did have this vision which hit him with a great will to live so he could one day meet this boy. Aron's vision recently came true when he met his wife Jessica who had a baby boy this past February :) The farewell to arms scene is pretty gruesome so, just a warning to anyone with a weak stomach. The worst is when he starts tugging on a nerve that he's having trouble severing.

What I loved about this movie was how beautiful and inspiring it all is. You come walking out of the theater reflecting back on all your loved ones who you've probably taken for granted all your life. For anyone who's ever felt that their life sucks and isn't worth living should watch this movie. It really shows us why life is dear and worth holding on to. A friend of mine refused to come and see it with me because I guess she didn't see what would be so great watching an hour and a half of the same guy stuck in this one spot. Don't let this fact dissuade you from seeing it. It's really an uplifting and triumph of a film gives you a new outlook on life. It makes me wish that there were more people in real life who have the same positive and charismatic personality like Aron Ralston, even when their stuck in shitty situation.

Final Score- 9/10

Friday, November 26, 2010

Cool Sh*t!!- Disney's 50 Animiated Pictures

Walt Disney Animation Studios has hit a milestone this past week with its 50th animated feature- a rework of the classic fairy tale Rapunzel which they've renamed to Tangled. To celebrate, Disney released a two minute clip counting up to its 50th feature beginning with the one that started it all, Snow White (I'm also celebrating- notice my new background image?). Watching this video gave me a warm fuzzy feeling when it ran across its early 90s films such as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Lion King; it makes you remember how good Disney movies were at one point. The decade afterwards is a clear a picture how the studio lost sight of things with their jumble of random films that seem to have come from an array of different studios. Well now it looks like we'll never get those unique Disney magic films again because the studio has announced Tangled to be their last fairy tale feature in an attempt to go more mainstream (which probably means they're going to try to recreate Pixar-esq films). I guess I'll never get to see an animated Disney version of The Snow Queen now. Sucks.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cool Sh*t!!- The Suburbs Music Video

It's been a great year for the Canadian-indie rock band Arcade Fire so far! The band has been turning out some pretty cool stuff since the release of their new album titled The Suburbs, putting them on the road to become much more than just a normal rock band. Immediately after the release of their new CD this past summer, the band preformed a live show at Madison Square Garden which was streamed live on Youtube and directed by Terry Gilliam. The band also announced they were working on a secret sci-fi short film project with director Spike Jones whom they've previously collaborated with on Where The Wild Things Are. A few months back, the band released a kind of interactive music video/short film directed by Chris Milk for their song We Use To Wait For It which ended up making an explosive scene on the viral space. Now, the latest goodie we've received from the band is a music video for their song The Suburbs directed by Spike Jonez which looks to be an excerpt from the sci-fi short film the band had previously mentioned. This is what Spike Jonez had said about the project earlier this year:

It’s not a video. It’s a short film; we’re still working on it. It’s like a science-fiction B-movie companion piece for the record. Basically, we played Spike some music from the album and the first images that came to his mind had the same feeling as this idea for a science fiction film I had when I was younger. My brother and I and Spike wrote it together, which was really fun– it was like total amateur hour. We shot it in Austin and a lot of kids are in the film, and it was great just hanging out with these 15-year-olds for a week and writing down all the funny things they said. It was cool to revert to being a 15-year-old for a little while.

Check out the video here!









Sunday, November 21, 2010

Movie Review- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Just saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 Friday night! Waited in line for an hour and 20 minutes! How many hours did you wait to see the film? I've been giddy about this movie since the summer and now I can't wait to see the second part! Eight more months...geeez. At least they're not making us wait another year and a half- the usual wait times between Potter movies. I did a quick re-read through the seventh Harry Potter book before I went to see the movie so the details would be fresh in my head. I don't think it needs to be said that the final Harry Potter book is freaking amazing- my favorite installment out of the entire series. So how did the movie match up? Keep reading to find out what I thought of the film.

For those of you unfamiliar to what Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is about, I'll give you a brief synopsis. First thing you need to know is, you MUST go and read these books!! You're depriving yourself on something really, truly incredible. There is not a single person I know who didn't end up falling in love with the book after they finally giving in to reading them. For those of you have read the series and is suffering from post-Potter depression, I'll probably put together a blog post on the best series to help ease your depression so stay on the look out for that (don't worry, Twilight will not be on the list).

So Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 focuses on Harry, Ron and Hermione's journey to find the remaining Horcruxes and destroy them. This is the first movie where our trio doesn't themselves in the comfort and safety of their beloved school Hogwarts. As an audience, we can feel the peril and constant fear the Wizarding World is living in. Not long before Harry, Ron and Hermione set off on their journey, they are informed that the Ministry of Magic has been taken by over by Voldemort using an Imperiused Minster of Magic. The new Ministry of Magic falls under the belief that Muggles are the scum of the Earth and begun some sort of persecution of all witches and wizards with non-magical histories in their family tree. Many witches and wizards are on the run because of this, including several Hogwart students. Hogwarts is now under a new Headmaster, Snape who's employed several Death Eater professors. "Snatchers," who are groups working for the Ministry to catch witches and wizards on the run, are one of the many threats Harry and co. need to watch out for on their journey. Harry, Ron and Hermione begin their journey knowing they need to find the real locket of Salazar Slytherin, which they know to be one of the Horcruxes, and the sword of Godric Gryffindor, one of the few objects they can use to destroy Horcruxes. The other Horcruxes they believe could be two objects that belonged the other two Hogwarts founders, Rowena Ravenclaw and Helga Hufflepuff and Voldemort's snake, Nagini.

During their journey to find and destroy the remaining Horcruxes, they continue to come across a strange looking symbol and the trio decides to consult with a man named Xenophilius Lovegood (Luna's father) to find out what the meaning behind it is. The symbol represents the three objects that make up the Deathly Hallows:
the Resurrection Stone, a stone with the power to recall the dead to the world of the living; the Elder Wand, an unbeatable wand; and an infallible Invisibility Cloak. Whoever holds all three of them together conquers death. Harry soon realizes that Voldemort is after the Elder Wand but the trio decides its more important to find the Horcruxes than finding the Hallows for themselves.

If you're familiar with the book, the film ends after the escape from the Malfoy Manor, which is about three-fourths through the book. I thought it was a pretty good stopping point for the movie, though I did wish I could have seen the rest of it. Because it was cut, the movie didn't have a very satisfying ending. I really felt like something was missing from this HP installment. I'm pretty sure it was the fact that we never saw Hogwarts at any time throughout the movie. The fairy tale magic that the other movies had just wasn't there anymore. This film felt more raw and real. Times were bad for the Wizarding World and that fact really came through. The director decided to dwell on this fact by adding a slightly awkward scene with a incredibly down Harry and Hermione dancing in their tent in a attempt to keep their spirits up. Majority of the scenes in this film is the trio moving around to reclusive areas and setting up camp, trying to decide on wahat their next move. The pacing and mood is much slower and melancholy than the other Potter films, which is not necessarily a bad thing, though I did feel like it was going down hill when they reached Xenophilius Lovegood's house. The movie was definitely the darkest of the Potter films which I thought was done right since the seventh book was the darkest of the series. I'm glad they didn't shy away from the gritty details from the book in an attempt to keep it family friendly.

My problem with the movie, again, was the pacing around the time they arrived at Xenophilius Lovegood's house. I did love the animated bit when we were told the story of The Three Brothers but I thought they could made a few changes with the pacing. I thought it was strange how the trio went from apparating out of Xenophilius' house to land not far outside of it fully on guard with their wands at hand, only to get ambushed by Snatchers and not be able to escape from them. They're could have been a break between Xenophilius and getting snatched by the Snatcher (lol) in order to begin building momentum to a big, intense climax at the Malfoy Manor. Everything was just happening too quickly, one after another, at a very one note pace. Something needed to be thrown into the mix. I also didn't find the Malfoy Manor scene to be nearly as intense as the book. When reading the book, my nails were digging into the pages during this chapter, but this scene in the film felt very quiet and rushed.

One a more positive note, there were several things I did enjoy about the movie. I thought it was kind of neat seeing the trio together outside of school. A lot of the camping scenes, especially the one in the snow, was beautiful. The cinematography, just like Yates' previous two Potter films, was beautiful. I also thought the acting has definitely improved especially on Harry's part (too bad he's not taller). I didn't really like this new score composed by Alexandre Desplat which makes me sad because a movie's score is one of the most important features to me. One last problem with the film (though it wasn't really a problem for me) was it does little to explain the significance of Grindelwald and Dumbledore's back story. Most of Potter's did the same thing where they didn't go into explaining many of the details, making it incomprehensible for anyone who hasn't read the books. I'm sure if the films attempted to do so, most people would fall asleep, but I wonder how well someone who hasn't read the books understands the movies. Please, share your thoughts on this in the comments!

Final Score- 8/10

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bitchin' Ads- Assassins Creed Brotherhood Commercial

I'm not much of a gamer but I will play the occasional video game when a real big one comes around. I remember back when Grand Theft Auto 3: Liberty City came out two summers ago, I was playing it every downtime second I had. Pretty soon, I found myself thinking about Nico Bellic when I wasn't playing the game at all. If I were driving on the road and some asshat behind me if flashing his obnoxious high beams at me, I wish I could go all bad ass on him like Nico Bellic and pull him out of his car and punch him in the face. This wasn't really a fact I ever wanted to mention to my friends, but one day while driving in ridiculous traffic with my room mate, she told me, "sometimes, I think I'm still playing Grand Theft Auto and have a huge desire to plow through all cars." So apparently I'm not the only one who thinks like that and I'm sure a lot dudes fantasize like this to the next level. Well the folks over at Ubisoft knew this and made it obviously clear in this Assassins Creed Brotherhood commercial. Check it out.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Movie Review- Winter's Bone

We're getting around that time when initial buzz begins floating around on which films could be the Oscar nominees for this year and I think its safe to say that Winter's Bone will show up in a few categories. The DVD was released a few weeks back and I got it in my mailbox from Netflix pretty quickly. I guess not too many folks had it saved on their queue list, not that I'm surprised by this. This film is going to be one of those independent films that relies on award show buzz to get viewers. I knew of this film cause I'm a geek for dark, gritty movies with strong female leads so that's why I had it saved pretty early on. We'll here is my review.

The movie is about a 17-year old girl named Ree Dolly who lives with her sick, depressed mother, her 6-year old sister, and 12-year old brother in the poor, rural Ozark mountains in Missouri. Ree takes on the huge responsibility of caring for her entire family. Her father, who is a known drug dealer and Meth cooker, has been missing for awhile. One day, the sheriff comes to her place and explains that her father needs to show up for court prompting Ree to starts asking around town regarding the whereabouts of her father. She goes to her uncle, Teardrop, and the rest of her father's druggie gang which is headed by a man named Thump Milton. When Ree starts poking around, she is told off with harsh threats and is warned to stay away and out of their business. Ree's uncle, Teardrop, explains to her that he is most likely dead, probably killed. After Ree's father fails to show up for court, the sheriff tells Ree that her and the rest of her family will be thrown out of their property soon because Ree's father offered their entire property as collateral for his bail. Desperate to keep her family from being thrown out into the mountains, Ree continues searching for her father at the risk of her own life. The audience soon gets a better look at the grim, dark reality of this poor, rural society.

Sometimes when I take road trips with my friends and we're driving through mountains, I like to laugh about the "mountain people" who live up there. We'll after seeing this movie, I don't find anything about living in the mountains funny at all. In this sort of small, poverty stricken, American society, everybody seems to be related to everyone and they are governed by very strict societal rules. The women are second class next to their men; they are completely dedicated to their husbands and are always there to stand beside them in what they do. A lot of the women in the movie looked just downright scary and the men were just violent and/or drunk. The town has an enforce a hush hush rule regarding the Meth business that goes on so you can imagine the stir that was caused when Ree began poking her nose around. The teenage girl began meddling in a business composed of older, violent men who aren't sympathetic to her feat.

I thought Jennifer Lawrence, the actress who played the film's heroine Ree, did an outstanding job. She turned her character Ree into someone who was believable. Her character was a strong, determined young woman who was forced to grow up fast and is willing to stop at nothing to save her family. Tough character to pull off but Miss Lawrence managed to do it. I pretty positive we can expect to see her nominated for Best Actress for the Oscars this year. Also kudos to director Debra Granik! I'm hoping she'll be this years Katheryn Bigalow and help studios turn more attention towards female directors. The cinematography was very blue and dim- it made you feel the chilly bite of the mountainous region. The film's pace is tense, yet very subtle, which I like. Some people may find it to be slow and boring, but for all the film geeks out there, this one is definitely worth checking out.

Final Score- 9/10

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cool Sh*t!!- Last Leaf Music Video



Those who inhabit the world of the web is always on the lookout for OKGO's next viral music video. Whenever the band releases a video, you can be sure that it will pop up in your Twitter feed or Facebook wall sooner or later. OKGO is known for their low cost, uber creative music videos and somehow they manage to continuously top the previous one int terms of originality. Their latest video is titled Last Leaf and it diverges from what we're use to seeing from their music videos. They typically show the four of them pulling off some ridiculously cool looking, well thought out and calculated stunt. This time around, we don't see anything but pieces of laser etched toast used to create a very fluid animation. Supposedly there was 2.430 pieces of toast used for this video but I'd say it was well worth it in the end. Have a looksie!


P.S., do you like the new background? Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows in one week people! Got your tickets yet? I got mine!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Movie Review- Toy Story 3

Toy Story 3 came out on DVD last week and it is the first non-original Pixar movie to come out since Toy Story 2 which was released back in 1999. I've been spoiled with so many brilliant, original Pixar stories for the past 10 years that I was kind of sad when I heard their line up for the next few years is going to be mostly sequels. Regardless, I was still very excited for Toy Story 3. I saw the first Toy Story movie back when I was just a kid (I think I was around 8) when Andy (the owner of the toys) was just a kid as well. In Toy Story 3, Andy is off to college and I had just graduate from college a year ago. The Disney/Pixar marketing team knew this movie was going to appeal my age demographic and did such a wonderful job marketing towards it. Typically, animated movies focus on capturing the family demographic but this film was also directing itself at college aged kids. For example, flyers looking to hire Pizza Planet drivers were posted all around college campuses and several campuses pre-screened the first 50 minutes of the film for its students.

Pixar knew folks my age would embrace this film- why? Rhere are several Disney sequels of films those my age saw as a children; for example
The Little Mermaid 3, yet no one gets hyped up about it. What made this movie different from the typical bad Disney movie sequel was it did what they would never dare to do. This film was about change and embracing it. This film is about Andy growing up and leaving the toys for once and for all. If this movie was helmed by DisneyToons Studios (the studio that makes the bad direct to DVD Disney movies), they would have had Andy stay 10 forever. It hits a soft spot for us 20-some year olds in a sense that it takes us back and reminds us of the time when we were younger and full of imagination. It's also an emotional movie for our parents too cause it reminds them of how their children have grown or how they will grow up.

Alright, enough of my mushy blabbering. So the film itself is again about Andy leaving for college and the toys are worrying what is to become of them. In an accidental mix up, the toys end up getting shipped off to a day care called Sunnyside. When they first arrive, the place seems like the retirement home of their dreams. A teddy bear named Lots-O-Huggin Bear (Lotso) acts like a warden of the day care and assures the toys that they will never suffer the heartache of losing their owners again and there will always be kids to play with them. It's not long until our toys realize that this daycare really is too good to be true. The toys are placed into a classroom with very young children that don't understand how to properly play with the toys and are basically putting the toys through living hell. When asked if they could leave to a different classroom with older kids, Lotso imprisons the toys and it becomes clear that the daycare is more like a heavily guarded prison where no toy is allowed to leave.

This film is very much a prison break film. I love both prison films and Pixar films so the two of them melded together was better than anything I could ask for. It was a lot of fun watching the toys escape from this "prison" with an intricately laid out plan that Woody managed to whip together in less than a day. An old Fischer-Price phone tips off Woody on how security is run at the daycare during lights-off hours. The phone had this type of old film-noir voice to it which I loved; it was one of those small touches that Pixar loves to throw into the mix of their movies. One small complaint about the movie I've heard from some dudes out there was a particular scene where a Ken doll models off a bunch of outfits. Pixar is such a classy studio, why would they put something like that in the movie? I personally didn't see what the big deal was over that scene, because as a girl, the only thing I did with my Barbie dolls as a kid was have them put on fashion shows with the millions of outfits I collected. I gotta tell you, the folks over at Pixar really did their research with several of these toys, especially Barbie and Ken.

A lot of new toy characters were also introduced in this film. We get the toys at the daycare who work under the manipulative Lotso and help enforce his many "prison" rules. A particularly freaky one that stands out is the character Big Baby. Big Baby is basically Lotso's henchman and is pretty fucking scary. Think back to the first toy story when we were introduced to that baby head with claws- I remember how scared I was of that thing when I was a kid so I can imagine how kids nowadays must have felt towards Big Baby. Other new toy characters are Bonnie's toys. Bonnie is a young girl at the daycare who is a lot like the young Andy from the first two movies. Bonnie's toys include a porcupine, a doll, a unicorn, a dinosaur much like Rex, and Totoro!! The Totoro cameo was one of my favorite things about this movie cause I only own about 100 Totoro dolls myself. I love all the new characters and I'm super excited to see them showing up in toy stores as Christmas approaches. I'll be sure to buy myself a Buttercup plush!

The film ends with such a perfect ending to such a perfect trilogy. The ending shot basically emulates the first shot in the first movie. The end is really a bittersweet one but I wouldn't change it any differently. Going back to my original point, it's all about change and coming to terms with it and embracing it. Watching this film made me go back and remember all my old toys and reminded me how much I use to love them. I actually felt guilty about abandoning my old toys after seeing this movie, but I didn't feel too, too bad knowing that I donated them and didn't throw them away to get shipped off to a junk yard somewhere. This brings up another point. This movie is a lot darker than the first two. The first two, we have the toys worrying about being replaced or sold in a yard sale; this movie we actually have the toys believing that they could die! (Watch this clip, it will make you cry). The Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich was once asked about the fact that Pixar movies seem to get darker and darker with each movie, and he answered that it's not something the studio is purposefully doing; as the filmmakers at the studio get older, they experience many new things in life so their view towards world is always changing and that is reflected in their movies.

My final verdict: Toy Story 3 marks the Toy Story franchise to be the best trilogy ever made! I recommend going back and watching the first two if you haven't seen them in awhile, before picking up the third one. Though the first two are older, they're still two of the best animated films out there. Have a tissue box ready when you do get around to watching the third one. You will be shocked over how emotional you'll get over some non-existent toys. That's right. Pixar is just that good they can make grownups cry over dolls and action figures. Oh I love you Pixar.

Final Score- 10/10

Monday, November 8, 2010

Music Review- Flamingo

Hello my lovlies! Its been quite awhile since I last update my blog and I apologize for that. Things have been a little nutty for me lately. I just lost my job this past Thursday and I've been scrambling to get my life back in order. It was very unfortunate timing for me too because I was planning on living in my new apartment this past weekend, and now it looks like I gotta move out before I even got a chance to sleep in it :( Anyways, funny thing is, I started this blog back when I was unemployed and needed a way to wind down so it looks like it's back to blogging therapy for me! I've also am trying to become more involved with writing for a movie blog called COLLIDER.com if you guys have heard of it. You can check out my first article here! Its regarding Studio Ghibli's announcement of their next movie!

I'm trying to pick up the pieces with everything I left sprawled out on this semi-neglected blog. There were several reviews I wanted to write but never had a chance to. My previous job was taking away 12 hours a day from my life but now I have a lot more time to spare in between filling out job applications. This is a review I tried to get out awhile back and sorry for its tardiness. I've been a big fan of The Killers ever since their
Hot Fuss album debuted back when I was in high school in 2004. The band was a great new addition to the genre of modern alternative rock and you can definitely hear the inspiration in their music coming from brilliant 80's alternative bands such as Depeche Mode and The Psychedelic Furs. Lead singer Brandon Flowers gave the band a unique and captivating voice which can't fail to be recognized; however, when I heard he was coming out with a solo album, I shuttered. At first, I was nervous that the band broke up but no worries, they are still together and coming out with a new album sometime around the end of next year I believe.

Even though I'm not a fan of lead singers "going solo," I decided to give his album, titled
Flamingo, a go merely because of my undying love for The Killers. I'm very glad to say that I ended up loving it from start to finish! The album is proof that the spirit of The Killers really comes from Brandon Flowers because you got all the goods in his solo album. I'm not saying that the man can go on with his career without the rest of his band; I turned on Hot Fuss after listening to Flamingo and realized that the instrumental artillery is so much more powerful when the entire band is together. The album begins with a great opening track Welcome to Las Vegas which sets the mood and tone very well for the rest of the album. I was even more impressed when the second track came around, Only The Young, which ended up being one of my favorite songs on the album. It's a light song all around but still has just enough pang to it- a really beautiful ballad. The album only had 10 songs but they're all great so you don't have to jump around when listening to it. It ends with the brilliant track Swallow It which has made it to my "Top 25 Most Played" tracks on my ipod already. Definitely an album worth buying so go buy it now!!

Final Score 9/10

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Misc. Review- The Walking Dead

My blog has been lacking reviews lately and I'm sorry. Life's been quite busy for me but it should be settling down soon. In the meantime, I'll drop a quick review for your reading pleasure. I am not a zombie person. Never have been. I love reading about supernatural monsters, but zombies were never one to catch my eye. This may be due to the fact that every zombie encounter I've had was some dumb horror movie filled with nothing but blood and guts. After I saw Zombieland however, it was the start of a big refresher for this genre for me. Zombieland was great because it was a fresh new take on the zombie genre; it was funny, clever, and it didn't use your typically zombie fighting characters. A few months back, I also picked up the book Handling of the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist, not because I wanted to read a novel about zombies, but because it was by the same author as Let the Right One In. I ended up really loving this novel despite its mediocre reviews because, again, it was a different take on the zombie genre. The zombies in the novel were not no aggressive, but merely wanted to return to their lives before they died and go back to the ones they loved. A lot of questions are brought up dealing with how far someone's love goes for a person even after they've died and what does it mean to be alive and have a soul.

So by the time I heard The Walking Dead was coming out on AMC, I was pretty excited. The main draw I had towards it was the fact that it was directed by Frank Darabont, the director of several Stephen King novel adaptions such as The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and The Mist. The series itself is based off of a comic book series by Robert Kirkman and illustrated by Tony Moore. I wasn't familiar with the source material at all so I really had no idea what to expect from the premiere this past Sunday. The show started off a bit slow; our hero, a police offer named Rick Grimes, wakes up in a abandoned hospital in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. I was kind of surprised by that because I feel like I've seen that scenario many times before. Regardless, the scenario is creepy and it gets you on the edge of your seat, especially when Rick walks by these locked double doors spray painted with the words "Don't Open. Dead Inside." I was glad our hero soon ran into a much alive father-and-son duo after he left the hospital. I didn't want to watch a one man show like I Am Legend. The father character explains to Rick that most people in the city all went to Atlanta because that’s where the Centers for Disease Control is headquartered. The reason why the two of them haven't headed down there themselves seems to be because a certain zombie wife/mother still haunts them in their home town.

Once Rick begins his journey to Atlanta, the ball really starts rolling. The moment he finds himself in the city, I can imagine some squeamish viewers changing their television channels. Lets just say that the zombies in this show prefer animals just as much as humans and there's a certain horse that doesn't make it. The episode also hints that Rick will be meeting up with some old familiar faces soon so we can definitely expect some group drama later in the series. The premier set up the series to be grim, survival story which I like. It doesn't seem so focused on the horror aspect and there's a realistic feel to it. I'm really excited to see what happens next and where several of these character relationships go. I'll be sure to set my DVR for next Sunday!! This could very possibly mean I've become a converted zombie hater.

Update:
The series has been greenlite for a 13 episode long second season and has become the biggest series in cable history among adults 18-43! Could this new zombie-mania mean I'll get to see a film version of Handling The Undead? I hope so!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Cool Sh*t!!- Derezzed Music Video/Tron Trailer

So the brand new Tron Legacy trailer is actually a Daft Punk music video for their new original song Derezzed. There's a awesome Michael Sheen cameo in it with him looking like he's straight out of a 80's music video and of course the electronic-rock duo themselves are there as well. Can't wait to get this soundtrack! I believe it comes out December 1. You can expect me geeking out to Tron Legacy the closer we get to December, but before I can do that, I need to geek out to Harry Potter. November 19 people!! While we're on the topics of movie soundtracks, check out this video with Alexandre Desplat talking about the making of the music for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows after the Derezzed video!


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bitchin' Ads- Chevy Cruzes Play Pac-Man

Why is it that foreign ads are so much better than ads here in the states? Because of all the ridiculous advertising restrictions we have or because Americans respond better the dumber the ad is? Recently, Chevrolet released a slew of new campaign spots under their new terrible slogan "Chevy Runs Deep." Honestly the commercials aren't that bad but they can't scream America more enough. You can watch them over at Chevy's official Youtube channel here. Right as these ads came out, I discovered a Chinese Chevrolet Cruze ad in which several engineers created a full size Pac-Man grid and had several Chevy Cruzes play Pac-Man. A white Cruze plays the part of Pac-Man while black Cruzes play the ghosts. The commerical is played to the song "Fuck Rock n' Roll" by The League. Seriously, what's better than this?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bitchin' Ads- Walking Dead Zombie Invasion

Ah! Could the zombie apocalypse be among us!? Well no... but several major cities around the world today such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, London, Munich, Madrid, Rome, Athens, Johannesburg, Sao Paolo, Buenos Aires and my own neighborhood D.C., was invaded by gangs of zombies "attacking" folks who were just trying to get to work this morning. So this isn't really an ad but its a fucking cool promotional stunt so had to write about it.

This Halloween will be the premiere of AMC's new original series The Walking Dead directed by Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption). To get some promotion buzz for the TV Show, AMC pulled off this wacko zombie invasion stunt. Groups of actors dressed as zombies reined down on several major cities and terrified folks trying to do their morning commute. The Washington Post warned us local DC-ers the day before to expect zombies the next morning but I wondered if this could actually be pulled off. After I sat down at my desk at 7:30 this morning, first thing I noticed was people tweeting pictures and videos of the zombies they ran into when walking off the metro. They were supposedly going to come to the same neighborhood I work in, so during my lunch break, I went on a scouting mission and cry when I can't find them. Luckily we always have Youtube to capture the moments I missed. Check out this guys channel, he's got videos uploaded from all the cities that were invaded.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Cool Sh*t!!- Full Length Alma Movie

Does anybody else think of Coraline when you look at the picture above? The photo is actually for the short animated film Alma, and Coraline comparisons may not be all that inappropriate. The short film is by Spanish, Pixar animator Rodrigo Blaas and features a young girl named Alma that gets enticed into what seems to be a jolly-ole' place for children only to realize later on in the short it's actually a deadly trap for young-ins. There's plenty of freaky ass dolls and dark fantasy themes all throughout the short- does Coraline come to mind now? If you haven't read my older post on Coraline, you can check it out here. Alma is quite an incredible feat; the animation splendid, sound mixing is wonderful and the end will leave you with shivers all down your arm. Check it out here!


The short has been turning quite a few heads with critics and now it's set to get a full length, big screen adaption! Woot! But wait! What's this? Blaas isn't doing it for Pixar, he's doing it for........DREAMWORKS!? Ohhhhh backstabber! Interesting move on Dreamworks' part though. Dreamworks' actions lately has been turning some of my attention to the animation studio. I've been hating on Dreamworks for awhile, so when Chris Sanders went there after John Lasseter killed his American Dog project, I was unhappy and disappointed to say the least. Well, my woes went away when I saw the first trailer to Dreamworks' How To Train Your Dragon. I could right off the bat that it was going to be something special and different from the usual work Dreamwork puts out there. After the success of How To Train Your Dragon, perhaps Dreamworks realized that quality work is the better direction to head in instead of relying on celebrity voice acting and pop culture jokes.

Back when the hype of How To Train Your Dragon was making its way around, Guillermo del Toro sadly announced that his Double Dare You project with Disney died. Boo!!! Double Dare You was a suppose to be a new segment in Disney's animation line which focused on scarier animated films for kids; first film was to be titled Troll Hunters. Not sure what happened but turns out del Toro was picked up by Dreamworks afterwards to become their creative director/consultant for their many films in production. Sounds like he's there to whip the animation studio into shape- kind of like when Disney brought on John Lasseter to be their hopeful savior. Well now Dreamworks is allowing del Toro to make his Trollhunters film (yippe! and maybe they'll let Sanders make American Dog? *fingers crossed*) as well as a full length feature film of Alma. Del Toro will sit on as the producer with Blaas in the director chair. Del Toro is currently working on the screen play for Trollhunters and Blaas is in talks to co-direct it with him. Here is what del Toro has to say about the project:

“I wanted very much to develop a story that could be written for kids but dealt with a genre that was scary. It essentially combines fairy tales with modern times and is about how difficult it is to be kid. Normally, kids are idealized in animated films. But the growing pains, married with the notion that there is a world right next to us that is completely plagued by creatures of ancient lore, it’s thematically fitting with the rest of my stuff.”

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cool Sh*t!!- Cars 2 Concept Art


Pixar has released a slew of Cars 2 goodies this past week including a teaser trailer, concept art, and plot details. Pixar is one of those things that I totally love to geek out to, so you can count on me covering any news about this beloved animation studio. Check out the trailer embedded below along with the four pieces of concept art. Each art piece clearly distinguishes a different part of the globe and the plot details go in hand with that part of the story.


" Star racecar Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) heads overseas next summer to compete in the first-ever World Grand Prix to determine the fastest car on the planet. McQueen and his best friend Mater (voice of Larry the Cable Guy) make a pit stop in London, but there’s no time for tea when an international spy plot entangles Mater, and McQueen must race before royalty. “Cars 2” speeds past the world’s most iconic landmarks—including London’s Big Bentley"

"There’s no place in the world like Radiator Springs, but Paris comes close! Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) and Mater (voice of Larry the Cable Guy) venture abroad for the first-ever World Grand Prix. While McQueen focuses on the races, his best friend Mater hits a few detours. International espionage, anyone? On his top-secret mission, Mater takes the scenic route and manages to see the Parisian sights—including the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and the famous car-goyles of Notre Dame. "
"It’s an international feast of epic proportions when star racecar Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) and lovable tow truck Mater (voice of Larry the Cable Guy) travel to Porto Corsa, Italy, for the first-ever World Grand Prix. The pair will have to bypass the Italian Riviera’s specialties—boating, beaches and pasta al pesto—as Mater is detoured on a top-secret spy mission and McQueen must race to win against the world’s best!"
"Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) and Mater (voice of Larry the Cable Guy) take their friendship to exciting new destinations when McQueen is tapped for the first-ever World Grand Prix to determine the world’s fastest car. First stop, Tokyo, Japan—where ancient tradition meets modern technology. But like a modern-day Samurai, Mater must play the part of a top-secret spy when he’s unknowingly embroiled in a case of international espionage."



To be completely honest, Cars was by far my least favorite Pixar film. Not to say I didn't enjoy it; only I thought it wasn't nearly up to par with their other films. I think most people would agree with me on this and are probably wondering why they chose to do a sequel. Despite capitalizing on millions of dollars on merchandise sales, I think Pixar is taking this opportunity to take their world of Cars and better it into the realms of their other beloved fantasy worlds such as Toy Story or Monster Inc. cause lets face it, the cars in Cars just weren't as loved as Woody and Buzz.

Speaking of Pixar, if you read my previous post regarding Newt, you know I'm slightly frustrated over the fact we won't be getting any original stories from them for quite some time. The next original story will be Brave and is their first film where the lead will be female. Pixar prided themselves over the fact that this film would also be featuring their first woman director, Brenda Chapman (Prince of Egypt). Well turns out she been removed from that position and replaced with Mark Andrews, director of the Pixar short One Man Band (probably my least favorite short). Makes me sad to hear. Feels nostalgic from back when Chris Sanders' film American Dog got its plug pulled by Mr. Lasseter for "creative differences." I'm sure Pixar had good reason to replace Ms. Chapman with Mr. Andrews. All their films have gone through hell at one point and require major reworking. I trust Pixar made the choice for the right reasons. Here is the official synopsis for Brave.

"A rugged and mythic Scotland is the setting for Pixar’s action-adventure Brave. The impetuous, tangle-haired Merida, though a daughter of royalty, would prefer to make her mark as a great archer. A clash of wills with her mother compels Merida to make a reckless choice, which unleashes unintended peril on her father’s kingdom and her mother’s life. Merida struggles with the unpredictable forces of nature, magic and a dark, ancient curse to set things right. The storytelling wizards of Pixar conjure humor, fantasy and excitement in this rich Highland tale."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bitchin' Ads-Skittles Dazzle The Rainbow

Want to watch a man drown in a tank of Skittles or a chubby pale guy prance around in his underwear for 25 days all live in the comfort in front of your computer? Watching these live feeds or random people online may just be the newest thing for marketers to use in order to grab the attention of audiences. Yesterday, Skittle's UK Facebook page invited fans to drown a man in a tank using those delicious pieces of candy! A sort of Old Spice/David Blain type character named David Phoenix challenged Skittles fans to try and submerge him in two million Skittles! Every person who becomes a fan of the Facebook page contributes Skittles to the tank. You could watch the video live from Facebook of this guy in a tank slowing disappearing among these colorful candy bits. On top of that, there were two hilarious Irish commentators to keep the mood going during the hours of this event. I checked in on the live feed yesterday when the candies had covered everything but the top of his head so only a little island piece of hair could be seem. Oh how I love Skittles and their brilliant dark-comedic advertising.

If you missed out on Mr. Phoenix drowning in candy yesterday, you could also head over to guyathome.com and watch a one-testicled Canadian walk around his home in his underwear all day. This publicity stunt is a 25 day campaign by the Canadian Cancer Society to raise awareness for testicular cancer. This pale Canadian man will wear stay in his home and wear just his underwear all day and it will all be streamed live for the public to watch. Head over to guyathome.com to see this Truman Show-esq show and become a fan on their Facebook page. Every person that becomes a fan will be $1 donated to the CCS.

Bitchin' Ads- Stella Artois and Smirnoff Commercial

I've always loved Stella Artois advertising spot but this one tops the cake. Seems like this Belgium lager company is the latest to jump on the celebrity director bandwagon for their advertising. Their latest spot titled "Apartomatic" is directed by Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola and features a totally bitchin 60's retro apartment and all its futuristic glory. Check it out!



On the note of alcoholic beverage commercials, Smirnoff has released a new ad spot titled "Stampede." The commercial looks like spot for a epic fantasy film with a hot girl...hmmmm. I've always found Smirnoff ads to be more on the less creative side of booze advertising (not to say they haven't had any good ones before) but looking at this commercial, I think maybe they're trying to change up the tone of the their brand. It kind of reminds me of their 2007 spot "Purified." I don't know if I buy into it. What do you think?


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Kano and Gorillaz: "Clint Eastwood" Live In Washington, DC

So I just want to take this moment to abuse my blog and brag. During the Gorillaz concert on Monday, Kano came running on stage during their Clint Eastwood number and brought his camcorder with him. I didn't think much about it at the time, but it was posted to his offical Youtube Channel yesterday and I'm right there in the front row! I'm sure you don't know which one is me but I'm there!! :DDDDDD