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.

1. Ratatat - Nostrand -
2. Kanye West - Power -
3. Rooney - Not In My House -
4. Apartment - Fall Into Place -
5. Civil Twilight - Letters from the Sky -
6. SUNBEARS! - Little Baby Pines -

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