Thursday, March 31, 2011

Blade Runner

Blade Runner
Dir. Ridley Scott

So, not having had a Star Wars fix in a while, it was awesome to see Harrison Ford in a SciFi/fantasy movie.  To be honest, going into this movie, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  For some reason, I thought it was going to be like an earlier matrix or something, but instead it was like Star Wars meets Rocky Horror Picture Show.  Not that there's anything wrong with that!  I love all of those movies.

But anyway, since I wasn't sure what to make of it exactly by the end, I'd like to open this up to discussion.  Invite others to join as well.

Topic: Was Harrison Ford's character, Rick Deckard, actually a replicant that was not self-aware?

Not going to lie, I felt like it was strongly hinted at, but never said.  So, I'm curious as to what others think about the issue.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Dir. Shane Black

I really liked this movie.  and yes, I ended up with two very different Val Kilmer movies back-to-back.  That actually was an accident.

This movie was a very clever idea.  A good mix of action, guy-finds-girl-that-got-away, detective, and funny accidents storylines all in a little over an hour and a half.  So, the pacing was fantastic.  Never a dull moment, and a little something for everyone.

This was also a movie was headlined with an amazing cast that really just made the whole thing work.  Robert Downy Jr. does such an awesome slightly confused, but smoothly rolling with it kinda guy.  Val Kilmer makes an amazing snappy gay(?) guy.

So, put together a good script, an amazing cast, and shoot it decently in a semi-noir style, and you've got  yourself a very entertaining movie.  There are few movies that I'll watch over and over, but this one will definitely be revisited soon.

Run Time 103 + 4004 = 4107


Dir. Ron Howard

Willow, yet another movie that people seem to either love or hate.  I really enjoyed this movie.  It reminded me of a lot of other movies that I really liked, yet was a little creeped out by as a child (ie. Neverending Story).  The story was cute, and almost seemed to tackle issues midgets have in the real world in a very cute and fantastical way (although, they were made to look even smaller than midgets to project the point).  It was a really uplifting story, though.  I kind of wish this type of movie was still being made.  By that, I mean movies with these fantasy creatures that almost seem to just spill out of a child's imagination or a story book or even a combination of both.  I think the closest to this that we've come was Were The Wild Things are (which I loved), and even that was nearly under a chopping block in post.  What a shame.
Run Time 126 min + 3878 = 4004

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lovely Bones

Lovely Bones
Dir. Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson flexing his versatility always impresses me.  I went into this movie knowing that it was going to be well written (since it was based on a best selling book), and that it would have some dreamy special effects (just because you can't have a Jackson movie without effects, and the trailer kinda gave the look away).

There's something very special about the way Peter Jackson films the imagination of children (mostly girls).  For example, in Heavenly Creatures, when the girls are frolicking in the yard of their third world, it looks amazingly beautiful, but you just get this feeling that something is off.  He brings that into Susie's limbo world.  It could be a wonderful place, but instead there's this purple fog that seems to cloud it in most shots.    His music choices follow suit (granted, they're probably not his personal choice, but a music guy in post).  There is just an eerie sense that he is great at creating on screen, that was perfect for this movie.

Typically, I'd say this wouldn't be my first choice of books for Peter Jackson to adapt, but he did it really well.  Only thing I'd change would probably be recasting Wahlberg's part.

136 min + 3742 = 3878

The Blind Side

The Blind Side
Dir. John Lee Hancock

Yes, I know.  I can't believe I hadn't seen it either, after all the hype and press about Bullock's performance.  Plus, my mom was in love with this movie.  She rarely buys movies on DVD, but she went out and bought this one.  Basically though, I went into this movie expecting a Lifetime, made for the big screen kinda movie.  Everyone seemed to either dog on the film or love it.  There were very few tweeners.  But, I think I fell into the grey area.

I'm not a football fan, and I typically do not like football movies.  I also, typically avoid them just about as much as I avoid war movies.  But, again, it was on TV, and the remote was too far away.  So, there I sat.  The thing was, there were a couple reasons I continued watching.  First, yes, Sandra Bullock was a very good southerner.  I bought into it, and I think she deserved that oscar.  If not just for that performance, another one.  I think she's pretty under appreciated (granted, not so much now that she has the oscar, but before this movie).

The other reason was the little boy.  The screenwriter did some really good writing setting him as comedic relief for the movie.  Otherwise, yes, I'd say it should have gone straight into the Lifetime lineup.  But, he broke up the seriousness of the movie, and actually had me entertained with the movie.  A very cute little kid actor.

129 minutes + 3613 = 3742

Couple's Retreat

Couple's Retreat
Dir. Peter Billingsley

Boo to being done with South by Southwest posts, but I guess there's always next year.
Onward to 3 random movies I caught on HBO one afternoon. :)

Couple's Retreat was somehow a movie I never actually went out to see nor ever sat through in it's entirety on any one occasion.  But, now I've seen it, and I'm not quite sure what I got from the viewing on a filmmaking level.  The acting wasn't amazing, but it wasn't terrible.  It seemed to just be a lot of character acting, and Vince Vaughn being his normal Vince Vaughn character.  And it began making me think Kristen Bell managed to get herself to a point in her career that she picks and chooses her projects by what beachy location they'll be on (since just the year before, she did Forgetting Sarah Marshall).

Being a filmmaker on a very tight budget most times, you can find yourself being less and less impressed by movies with an approximate $60 million budget.  But, fortunately, I'm not quite to pretentious to enjoy a little escapist cinema now and again.

The movie was pretty funny.  Not on the same level as many of Vaughn's other films (ie Dodgeball, Anchorman, and the Wedding Crashers).

Run Time 113 min + 3500 = 3613 minutes

SXSW 2011 -- Bellflower

Dir. Evan Glodell

Sorry again about the tardiness of these posts.  Currently, I'm at day 61 of this little project, I've watched 46 new movies, and have somehow ended up 12 posts behind my actual viewing.  So, in the following week, I'm forcing myself to get caught back up.  We'll see how it goes.

Synopsis: A love story with apocalyptic stakes.

My favorite movie of SXSW was probably Bellflower.  Funny enough, it was also the last movie I was able to hit up at the festival, and therefore a nice end to the thread of SX posts.  The movie was really well put together with everything from good cast chemistry to a strong plot.  But probably one of the biggest reasons for it's success, not only at all of it's packed showings at SXSW, but also it's acclaim at Sundance, has to do with what Kyle kept referring to as a gimmick.

When I say this, I don't mean it in a typically bad sense.  The gimmick is actually more like a cherry on top of an already good movie idea.  The movie follows a guy and his best friend, whom since childhood have been preparing to create a bad ass gang when the apocalypse occurs.  As one of them notes later, they are pretty influenced by Mad Max.  Over the course of the film, the boys create flame throwers and even a car that shoots flames.  This is the gimmick.  The movie is ridden with explosions, fire, and quite literally, even the linear plot explodes.  Again, no disrespect to the filmmakers, I'm actually more thinking kudos to him for coming up with such an amazing idea, but this whole idea of fire and explosions on screen make it nearly impossible to rip yourself from the screen.  It's a spectacle, almost like a firework show.  And it seems like, if you were to point a camera at something of that proportion, it's be difficult not to have a house-filling movie.

Along with this, for all of the cinemafiles and movie geeks out there, the writer/director threw in another gimmick for anyone that follows the behind the scenes stuff.  The boys built their own cameras (called the coatwolf), and not only that, they did it with full tilt-shift functionality (for any of you who don't know what that is, think back to the rowing scene in the Social Network...  remember how strange and dreamy that scene was?  well, imagine most of a movie like that).  So, not only is the movie an amazing piece of work, it's shot really well.  If you're interested in seeing their craftmanship, here's a link to their site:

Anyway,  they brought the car with them to Austin, so enjoy the video from the Alamo Drafthouse parking lot!

Run Time: 105 min +3395 = 3500 minutes

Thursday, March 24, 2011

SXSW 2011 -- 96 Minutes

96 Minutes
Dir. Aimee Lagos

Synopsis: Four kids. One night. One shocking event.  In 96 minutes, their lives will be changed forever.  (This film held it's world premier at SXSW, but I attended a later showing)

This movie was pretty powerful.  The writer/director mentioned in the Q and A that it was based around events that had actually occurred, although it was a mesh of stories.  It still seemed like the story itself was very close to her heart.  She worked with underprivileged youth in Atlanta, where the film was also shot. So, she seemed to be working with things she knew well, and brought a lot of herself into the project.  Which completely shown through to the end result.

The whole idea somewhat rotated around the idea that in some college cities, especially Ivy League, there becomes two worlds.  There's the college kids that are surrounded by sometimes the most slummy parts of a town with gangs and violence just a walking distance away.  So, when these worlds could collide so easily, and do on a seemingly average Friday night, (to steal from the synopsis) lives change forever.

The whole idea was extremely original, and not like anything I had seen before.  At first, it seemed like it was just going to be some kind of remake of Crash, where they just show how everyone is interconnected, but instead, they take a huge turn and go in a different suspense thriller/horror direction.  So, I found that really refreshing.

In the same note, the person they had score the film, they said, had never worked on a movie before.  But you wouldn't know it.  The score was very powerful and moving.

And finally, the acting was very strong.  Brittany Snow was the only bigger name that I recognized, but they all seemed to be very tight and knew what they were doing.  Ugh, and the messed up kid just made me want to punch him in the Eminem-wanna-be face.  Good casting there.  So, kudos to having an amazing cast and crew pull together such a powerful and moving piece.

Run Time (funny enough) 93 minutes + 3302 = 3395

SXSW 2011 -- Jez Jerzy

Jez Jerzy (George the Hedgehog)
Dir. Wojciech Wawszczyk, Jakub Tarkowski, and Tomek Lasniak

Synopsis: Jez Jerzy is a skateboarding hedgehog who likes to drink beer and fondle breasts.  He finds it hard to pursue his passions, however, while being tormented by neo-nazi skinheads, mad scientists and a drooling, flatulent clone of himself.  (This was the International Premier, but I was not at the premier showing).

The animation style of this was similar to Ahh! Real Monsters and similar in humor to Squidbillies.  Neither of which I really like.  I don't fall into their target demographic, and can't seem to stand demented/gross cartoon characters.  I believe this was the only film at SXSW that I saw that didn't get any applause at the end either.  So, I'd say I wasn't alone.  I actually noticed several audience members sleeping in their seats.  I'd say the first 15 minutes or so were fairly humerous, and most people reacted well to that, but maybe the subtitles with a cartoon didn't help it too much.

I'd say what I learned from this experience was that a) not everything at a film festival is going to knock you off your feet, and b) making a cartoon in it's short form and not a feature sometimes doesn't just mean that the creators couldn't come up with the cash an animation team would need for such a project, or a matter of time to invest in such a big project, but that maybe it's a conscious decision that having a quirky cartoon character on screen can really only be funny for so long before you loose your audience.  Keep it short and sweet.

Run Time 89 minutes + 3213 = 3302

SXSW 2011 -- Viva Riva!

Riva Viva!
Dir. Djo Tunda Wa Munga

Synopsis: The first major film out of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Viva Riva! follows fast-living hustler Riva.  While being persued by Kinshasa's dangerous underworld, Riva finds himself inextricable drawn to a gangster's seductive, kept woman. (This festival was it's US Premier, although, I wasn't at the actual premier showing).

Viva Riva! was an interesting movie to wander into.  For being the first movie out of this country, it was an amazing first film effort.  I found it amazing that he was actually able to get it funded due to its very graphic nature.  But apparently, according to him, he opted to not let investors (esp the gov't) in on the entire contents of the film.  Which is a ballsy move, but you have to have juevos to make it in the film industry.  So, more power to him.  I just hope he didn't burn every funding bridge along the way, and will never make a movie there again.

At any rate, this movie, as I've noted before, was a very graphic movie.  You'll witness everything from a woman peeing outside a party to the lead characters indulging in some prostitutes.  So, this movie is definitely not for the conservatives.  Since the synopsis doesn't really tell too much, I'll fill in some of the holes.  The movie follows a guy who has stolen a truck full of barrels of gasoline and taken it to his home town for someone else to sell.  For the time being, he lives richly and indulges in nearly every sin his money can get.  While he's at it, he is joined by a married friend, and he keeps making eyes with the gangster's girl.  So, he's stirred up trouble with the gang in town and the oil guys who send some hit men to bring the oil back.

So, what did I learn about filmmaking from this movie?  Well, first off, the ideas of beauty in the Congo and here are not too different.  Our guys both like curvy women with big lips that look a lot like Beyonce.  A common idea this movie explores, that seems like a theme that cannot be over-done, is the whole idea that wealth brings corruption.  You never see someone in a movie get rich, and then live to be a good person and help others.  I mean, that would be boring.  So, there's a reason for it, but still.  Money always is a person's downfall.  Other than that, I liked the color choices for costuming.

Run Time 96 min + 3117 = 3213

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

SXSW 2011 -- Attack the Block

Attack the Block
Dir. Joe Cornish

Synopsis: A funny, frightening action adventure movie that pits a teen gang against an invasion of alien monsters.  It turns a tower block into a sci-fi playground.  It's inner city versus outer space.

That last sentence was what hooked us.  Inner City vs. Outer Space.  What a tagline.  And it's like nothing you have ever seen before.  Joe Cornish was one of the creators of the Adam and Joe show back in the mid 90s, a very puppet driven tv show.  Joe also wrote this movie, and has had it in the works for some time now.  And after hearing him talk about how it came to be, one could easily conclude that the film isn't all fiction.  Joe kind of took the "what if" approach.  What if when I was mugged, an alien invasion occurred in our neighborhood?

This take has always been a good way that I've found to explore options when I'm trying to come up with a screenplay idea. It's a very good practice to get those imaginative juices flowing, and get something, even if it's completely ridiculous, on paper.

Now, I'm not saying this movie is ridiculous.  Strange, yes.

The film also brings an interesting group of sub genres and styles into the mix.  For instance, the film begins with a youth gang of boys that want to own "the block".  The block has a hierarchy of thug looking black drug dealers.  So, when the film seems to be going for that look, upon finding that their block is being invaded, the gang becomes more of a small army that's new mission (rather than harass and steal from their neighbors) is to protect them.  These two typically violent, yet typically very separated in cinema, worlds collide.  And unlike any other SciFi movie I've seen, the sound track is predominantly hip hop music.

The mash-up is very entertaining, and doesn't seem like too much of a stretch.  The kids in the movie are all pretty much picked up off the street, but definitely have a talent for acting.  I'd also like to add, it has an amazing slow motion shot at the end that will put you on the edge of your seat.  Made me happy to see slow motion used like it should be.

Anyway, enough babble, just go see the movie when it's released.  Here's a blurry pic of the Q and A.
(and yeah, that's the executive producer, Edgar Wright 2nd from the right. Kyle, Nate, and I's jaws had to be picked up off the floor when he walked in.)

Run Time: 86 minutes + 3031 = 3117

SXSW and World Premier -- Conan O'Brien Can't Stop

Conan O'Brien Can't Stop
Dir. Rodman Flender

Synopsis: Did Conan O'Brien go on tour to connect with his fans of fill a void within himself? Rodman Flender's documentary captures an artist trained in improvisations at the most improvisational time of his career.

So, I'm currently 12 blog posts behind what I've viewed, and I'm really quite sorry to anyone who has been following this trying to be patient and wait on the rest of the SXSW posts, but here goes!

Conan O'Brien Can't Stop is a film that picks up just days after Conan has been pushed out of the late night lineup.  On the surface, he seems to be in good spirits, joking around with a bus of tourists.  But one can tell, the man doesn't know what to do with himself.  So, when left to his own devices, extra time (that he's not used to having, and great emotional fury, he sets off on tour.

I know, I just gave you another synopsis.  Sorry.

This movie works in a lot of ways.  It brings the laughs from his tour footage, people that come to support him, and just Conan being Conan.  I'm not sure that this movie could have not been funny, no matter who was behind the camera.  What's interestingly captured throughout though, is emotion that an entertainer suppresses.  It's this emotion that Conan uses to recreate himself and create a new act.  In the history of television, people have been laid off and fired, but never in this kind of spotlight.  So, to watch someone at that level of the business go through the feelings of not knowing what's next, nor how to get there, is very interesting and almost inspiring.  A very engaging story is being told in this film about a man that doesn't just let himself be let go, he doesn't just fall, he fights back and rallies his troupes.

Anyway, this movie was picked up within 24 hours of it's first screening by Abramorama, Magnolia Home Entertainment, and AT&T’s U-verse for screening, video on demand and dvd distribution, and online viewing.  So, I guess the moral of the story on this one seems to be if you can find the right person at the wrong time to point a camera at, you can make a very good documentary. 

Being a huge Conan fan myself, I loved the movie, and of course, I enjoyed the Q and A where he was present.  I hope you will too!

Run Time: 89 minutes + 2942 = 3031

Thursday, March 17, 2011

SXSW and World Premier -- The Innkeepers

The Innkeepers
Dir. Ti West

Synopsis: Hotel clerks by day, amateur ghost hunters by night, the last two employees of the historic Yankee Pedler Inn set out to prove that their place of business is as haunted as it's reputation.

I've been really excited about getting to talk about this movie ever since I entered the Paramount theater and passed Ti West coming down from the balcony as I, with my measly little film pass in hand, was running up to try to find a seat.  The House of the Devil's director wasn't the first brush with celebrity (or at least a name I had heard of before) that day, having run into Danny Devito and Carla Gugino on their way to a tv interview as I was handing out t-shirts to passing strangers with the promotion I was working.

But this was different.  I guess the air about the viewing was special or something, but it really just seemed to humanize the filmmaker and the movie itself.  It's an amazing feeling to know that you're on a level playing field with someone a packed theater has come to see.  Knowing that you have everything that filmmaker has to make a movie (except the $...  but that's another story), you breathe the same air and watch the same movies.  There's nothing keeping you from being on his end of the process.  Made me want to make movies.

I'm also very excited about this post because I have some video from the Q&A for my four follower's viewing pleasure.  So, enjoy a little Ti West action. :)  Sorry, the quality is pretty bad on my old digital camera, I didn't pack the T2i along, unfortunately.

This film brought something to the table that I haven't seen.  Now, I may have, and this could leave some room for discussion, but the writing and directoral style of Ti West is very interesting.  In the House of the Devil, Ti begins playing with the idea of light humor in a very seriously scary movie, but in the Innkeepers he plays it through.  So, in one moment, you are laughing and relaxed in your seat, but then after a short suspenseful moment or two, you are back to the edge of your seat, peaking through your fingers at the screen.

I feel like this works for a couple reasons.  In movies where you are tense the entire time, there's no rest.  I feel like sometimes, you almost just get tired of being so stressed out and you begin to separate yourself from the screen and the experience as a whole.  And if you go into a movie that is going to rely mostly on it's blood, guts, and gore to make it scary, then you've got a weak script to begin with and not something anyone is going to invest much thought into.  But, when you make the characters likable through their light bickering and banter, your audience is going to fall for them by laughing with them.  Then, in turn, they're going to go on this journey with your characters through the stuff you have up your sleeve.  Ti decides to sprinkle the giggles in even toward the end, again, allowing you and the characters to relax, but you're going to jump.

I do think that it's worth stating that I typically hate scary movies.  You typically have to really do some sweet talking to get me into one, but I made the exception over a year ago when I was intrigued by Kyle's VHS copy of House of the Devil.  The movie wasn't extremely intense, but at the same time, it wasn't Brain Dead either.  It was like you could take the movie as seriously as you wanted to, unlike something like the Ring, where I begin to feel more and more trapped.  So, for obvious reasons I skipped out on seeing Insideous, but I probably will catch another Ti West film if I get the chance.

Run Time 100 min + 2842 = 2942 minutes invested in this "little" project

SXSW2011 Self Made

Self Made
Dir. Gillian Wearing

Synopsis: A diverse group of British people respond to an ad from artist Gillian Wearing.  Taking part in an experiment with Method acting, they find themselves for the first time confronting their innermost personal truths.

So, in case you hadn't picked up on it yet, my SXSW posts are going to try to remain pretty spoiler-less(?), and the format of these posts are a little different with the synopsis up top.  I'm doing this mainly so that you can see what is posted in the SXSW film guide a) so that you can see what very little I know about these movies and what to expect upon walking into the approximate hour and a half in darkness I spend with these movies, and b) because some of these are actually a little difficult to find information online about.  I noticed there was something (I think the Storm Thurgson documentary) that doesn't even have a cast and crew thing up on imdb yet.  So, I'm taking you on a journey with me this week into the good and the bad, but mostly good, that I'm encountering.

Back to Self Made.

This movie could have gone about a zillion ways from the synopsis, but it actually took a very interesting route.  The art of method acting and finding a performance from within ones self rather than finding it around you has always been a very interesting thing to most.  The whole idea of trying to recall emotions from experiences and not just becoming the character and taking yourself there, but instead bringing the character out of you ranges between exhilarating to insanity very easily it seems.  But you can always seem to notice where the performance is coming from due to the charge behind it.  Amazing things can come from such a strangely practiced craft.

Well, this movie comes from the documentary perspective with inner-cuts of interviews with the main participants, their warm up activities, rehearsals, virtually therapy, and their  final performances.  As the synopsis says, people were chosen after they contacted the director who simply put a classified ad out for  people that want to be in a movie.  The people chosen were a wide array of people, but none were really actors.  Just your run of the mill bunch.  But, Sam Rumbelow, their method acting coach begins preparing them in what seems like a very strange way.  He talks with them about their lives and they share their hardships, and he teaches them to use them on film.  And as a man behind me in line for another movie said to a friend, "Things get real."

I really feel like this movie is worth your time if you are interested in ever becoming an actor or a director just in the amazing transformation these people make.  I'm not sure if I've seen much more powerful acting on screen.  These people were only with the coach for two weeks, and from the UK, where method acting doesn't seem to be hailed as much in comparison with the classical style.  Otherwise, this movie is extremely dramatic in nature, and very deep.  Not something to pop in on the weekend with friends.  But still, an amazingly moving and honest film.

Run Time - 88 minutes + 2754 = 2842 (nearly 48 hours of straight movie watching)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

South By South West (and World) Premier - Taken By Storm (Thorgerson)

Taken By Storm (Thorgerson): The Art of Storm Thorgerson and Hipgnosis
Dir. Roddy Bogawa

Synopsis: Real? Surreal? Iconic? Impossible? The album art of Storm Throgerson is so deeply embedded into our psyche, it's hard to believe it all came from one mind.

Welcome, dear readers, to South by Southwest week!  The city is alive with the sound of music and movies are projected on nearly any flat surface people can find downtown.  Quite a spectacle to see.  This is also a very exciting time for my blog because I can turn the tables on you, and for one week, I can recommend movies to you before they hit theaters (or dvd...  or netflix) near you!  I've got a film pass and I'm not afraid to stand in line for 2 hours to barely squeeze into a theater after badge holders.  So, this should be a fun week.

For my first SX film viewing, Nate, Kyle, and I slid into the Ritz to catch the world premier of Taken By Storm.  This of course, is the documentary on the artist that did the famous iconic album artwork for Pink Floyd, and some artwork for Anthrax, Yes, and Audioslave.  The film choronicals his life through his many hardships and breakups, artistic and marital.  But of course, his art carries on.

I felt like the movie was a very interesting piece in that it seemed to educate the audience on who this man who nearly everyone owns artwork from, but also dig deeper into the issues artists face and things they give up when they make their art their priority.  I really didn't know who the guy was when we hurriedly jumped in line, but by the end of the film, a really great appreciation came over me for this guy.  I feel like that's what the filmmaker was going for.  So, I'd say his message was quite successfully driven home.

Storm Thorgerson was in the audience during this viewing, and it was the first time that he had viewed the film in it's entirety as well.  So, this in itself was an interesting experience to get the chance to have a Q and A session (which is common practice, at least at SXSW during premier events).  He got quite a few questions about working with the different music artists that he had worked with, but he seemed very candid when he was asked about his view of the film.  You could tell that even him seeing an outside perspective of himself was almost more than he could take.  Not in a bad way, but I guess to have himself immortalized on film in that way and to have his raw emotions and struggles out for the world to see, it's like he just wasn't sure how to react.  It's very different from looking into a mirror, for sure.

Anyway,  this film was an awesome experience.  If you are interested in pop art, iconic art, or music in the record era, you should check out this movie.  Very amazing artist with a good eye, luck, and little to no digital effects.

Run Time 95 min + 2650 = 2745 minutes

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What would you do if YOU could access 100% of Bradley Cooper's brain?

Dir. Neil Burger

Spoiler Free

This post is more of a "I can't believe you've seen this already".  Which is pretty exciting, I must say.  So, this is my second pre-screening of a movie before it's released.  The first was Take Me Home Tonight.  Anway, if you live in any larger city, you really should jump on the band wagon with these free screenings in your area.  Cause the only thing cooler than seeing a movie before it comes out to brag to your friends about it is doing it for FREE!

I'm happy to report that this movie brought a lot more to the table than what I thought it would.  Bradley Cooper was fantastic.  I know it was a pretty boy typecast, but I really feel like he was good for the part.   Plus, if you have a crush on him, which I'm sure you all do (his eyes are a little too close together for my liking), then you will be a Limitless fan for live.  As always, Robert DeNiro packed a small. but effective punch.

The effects that they used in this movie were fun as well.  They did a very interesting digital zoom through (I believe) multiple cameras that I'll be excited to see dissected on youtube within a week or two.  There were quite a few times when a character would multiply, which again was interesting.  Not necessary, but fun camera trick.  And there was a very cool jagged camera dolly or something going on in a bedroom scene.  Anyway, my movie magic geeking out and over analyzing definitely was uncontrollable trying to figure out exactly how things were happening during some portions of the movie.

In the long run though, I feel like this was a well put together script (based on a book), and was a pretty strong movie.  I would say I was pleasantly surprised, and wouldn't have minded paying admission.  I'd recommend going to the movies to check this one out.

Run time 105 min + 2545 = 2650 minutes so far (that's almost 2 days of straight movie watching in the past month)

Giorni e Nuvole

Days and Clouds
Dir. Silvio Soldini

I felt like this was more of a "I can't believe I still haven't seen this" movie.  I've met Silvio Soldini at the Auckland International Film Festival when I was living in New Zealand, and I've always really liked Bread and Tulips.  But somehow, I didn't see his film that was actually in the festival until nearly two years later.   Such is life, I suppose.

Anyway, this movie was a very interesting discourse on work and identity.  When a man looses his job, he seems to fall into this interesting phase of his life where he doesn't know who he is anymore, or how to move forward.  I've always been a little scared of becoming my job, and have always had issues with a job defining oneself.  Maybe this is because I've never really had "that kinda job" yet, but I don't know.  I'm an artist, but I'll never get paid to do so.

Back to topic.  The movie chronicles a family down on their luck after having not saved much and lived a life they enjoyed while they had the money, until the breadwinner looses his job and has no luck finding new work.  Of course, the wife tries to make a living for them, but also to no avail. With their lack of income, dislike for their new surroundings, and loss of self, their marriage begins to get shaky as well. I feel like this movie could really strike a cord, not only with those who were affected by the 2008/09 recession, but with new college grads trying to figure out what's next.

Maybe I'm just drawing a line between the last few films and this one, but either way, you really don't get the restful feeling at the end knowing everything will be alright like you did in the previous.  This movie kind of made me want to get up off the couch, and try to find a better paying job before my life falls apart, and I'm not even in any financial trouble (knock on wood).  So, I guess, if you need some motivation, check this out on Netflix watch instantly.  And if you don't you should watch this one and follow it up with Bread and Tulips.  I love that movie.

Run time 118 min + 2472 = 2545 minutes

I don't want to let you go til you see the light...

Take Me Home Tonight
Dir. Michael Dowse

This was one of the first pre-screenings of a movie that I've been to since moving to Austin.  I was pretty excited.  Basically the idea is that reviewers need to see the movie before it comes out so that they can have their posts up in advance, and that they should a) have a full house to watch it with and b) not waste the extra seats, and just give the extra tickets away.  At any rate, you have to get to the theater over an hour early to get in, but you get in free.  So, Mr. Bayless and I hopped in line to see his twin (Topher Grace).

The movie itself was pretty decent.  The trailers seemed to not portray it as funny as it actually ended up being.  I'll try not to give away any spoilers.  The movie is a story about a guy and his twin sister and best friend (again, a little like the movie previous) that are in that awkward stage between college and a career that don't quite know what to do with themselves.  The misguidedness turns into humor as you watch them try, fail, and try again to make something of themselves with the jury of their family, peers, and each other.
It was an interesting take on the stage of life when you're asked again, what do you want to do when you grow up, now that you're grown up?

Anyway, the movie also takes on the 80s as a backdrop, but isn't overwhelmed by it.  You hear the music of the time, and see the costumes, but it's not so overdone that it takes away from the story.  It's not laughable by any means.  It's just the 80s.  I liked that he worked at Suncoast though, just helped build him up as a loveable yet dorky character.  Nice touch.

Here's a little music video from the cast that I found funny.  At least wait for the Back to the Future bit. (don't let the pic fool you, it's not risque)

Worth a watch.

Run Time  97 min + 2330 = 2427 total

Move to Austin, Where You Don't Need a Job to Survive!

Dir. Richard Linklater

Having just moved to Austin, I felt I needed to add this movie to the list.  Sadly enough, it's almost funny how spot-on it is about this place.  Seems like I have overheard more heated political debates about "the establishment", and some days it amazes me how long I can go only seeing people in their 20s around.  For being a city of it's size, it does seem to be full of a lot of laid back, semi-estranged people with their own conspiracy theories and/or activism to share with anyone that they meet.  Don't get me wrong, I love this town, and I don't mean this in any bad light whatsoever.  But to live here, you need an open mind and a pretty good sense of humor.  I feel like Linklater definitely captured just that in his string of dialogue driven vignettes.

With a very little plot to follow throughout the film, you focus more on the characters that Linklater's almost A.D.D. camera will point at, then leave when something better comes along.  There are common themes throughout the film.  Most of the characters don't seem to have jobs, and if they do, they are not very serious with them.  One guy is a part time barista and another either works at a book store, or maybe just inhabits the place to read his JFK novels.  Again, though, they all seem to be in that transitional phase of their lives between college (if they went) and a career, but they all are fairly content in the awkward stage.  The only person that isn't really in that state is the older man that talks about blowing up the capital building with the guy he talked out of robbing him.

Something that I really did like about the movie were the visuals.  The girl trying to sell Madonna's pap smear, the guy in the room full of TVs with one strapped to his back, the boys holding the typewriter over the river performing some sort of ritual, and the hit-and-run guy staring out his window are moments that won't soon be forgotten.  I was a little surprised though, that I didn't recognize many locations while watching, but you can just tell, you're in Austin.

"This story was based on fact. Any similiarity with fictional events
or characters is entirely coincidental."

Run time 100 min + 2230 previously viewed = 2330 thus far

It's Playtime!

Dir. Jacques Tati

So, this film was pretty much an accurate telling of a small town man lost in a high-tech, tourist-ridden concrete (and glass) jungle.  It kind of reminded me a little of some people I've seen wandering around in Apple stores.  It was a little on the long winded side, but it seemed to have been Mr. Magoo (the cartoon was out 3 years before this movie, and the main character seemed pretty inspired by it) goes to France, so, it stayed fairly entertaining and light hearted.

The film is pretty one of a kind though, and it does bring some new things to the table along the way, if you'll give it the time for a fully invested view.  It did seem to be an experimental piece in composure and choreography at times.  And at these times, I started to worry about whether we'd ever stray back to the main characters and their storylines, but in the long run it was an over-all decent watch.   Anyway, it's another Criterion Collection movie on Hulu Plus, if you're interested.  Just have a couple hours free.

Run time 124 + 2106 = 2230 minutes invested.

Le Ballon Rouge

The Red Balloon
Dir. Albert Lamorisse

This was a cute little movie about a boy who's seemingly drab grey days become alive when he finds a balloon that has a mind of it's own.  The film is pretty simple in story-line, but extremely watchable.  It makes you wonder what the little boy's life would have been like without the balloon.  He doesn't seem to have many friends, but quite a few bullies that want to take away the little bit of fun this kid has.  It gives you a good look into the vantage point of a child, much like Where the Wild Things Are.  So, there will be a suspense of reality, but it never seems like too much of a stretch.  And I loved the finale.

Again, for those of you not extremely into the whole foreign flick thing, there is barely any dialogue in this movie, and little to no politics.  If you've been a child, which I hope you have (I like to think my readers are not robots), I feel like you'll be touched by this little story.  Plus, it's very short, a mere 34 minutes.  I think it would be a nice gateway movie for some into more French movies.  It's on Hulu Plus currently, so check it out!

Run Time 34 min + 2072 previewed = 2106