What movie was that...?

31 July 2011

Another World (a Chemical Brothers music video)

directed by Adam Smith & Marcus Lyall

This fantastic album came out to little fanfare on this side of the pond, but it doesn't make it any less outstanding. This a wonderful example of the next phase of evolution for the dinosaur that the music video has become. These gems are becoming increasingly scarce, but videos like this and Radiohead's House of Cards video are making use of new technology and worrying less about what the MTV crowd will think of it. My guess is, the MTV crowd would think, "music video? What the hell is that? This better be over before Teen Mom starts." For shame, younger generation.

Another World

This album actually has video accompaniments for each track, which makes it a must hear/see as well.

28 July 2011

What's a Girl To Do (a Bat for Lashes music video)

directed by Dougal Wilson

It’s been a little while since I reviewed a commercial or a music video, so here’s a little double feature with a common thread: they both rock, and the cinematography for both pieces is the work of the very skilled Mattias Montero.

Dougal Wilson knocks it out of the park with this gem from several years ago, a video for What’s a Girl To Do by the wonderful Bat for Lashes. The video has a kind of wild Karma Police vibe colored with a Spike Jonze sense of mischief. Natasha Khan rocks it out on a bike, with a posse of creatures in tow, whispering and lilting like an angel as she cruises a night darkened back road. It would be frightening if it wasn’t much damn fun. Once again, Mattias Montero’s cinematography is phenomenal, as is all of his cinematography work (check his website for more wonderful examples).

Light (a Vattenfall commercial)

directed by Adam Berg

It’s been a little while since I reviewed a commercial or a music video, so here’s a little double feature with a common thread: they both rock, and the cinematography for both pieces is the work of the very skilled Mattias Montero.

The commercial for this Nordic electric company is quiet, haunting, mysterious and mesmerizing, the mystifying path of electricity and modern technology that most of us scarcely even pause to contemplate. Okay, maybe it’s not as mystifying as all that, but Berg finds the sense of wonder, of a world frozen for an instant, and Montero’s cinematography is superb. You just may find yourself holding your breath along with the universe in this tale of a nocturnal journey. Commercials like these area rare breed, a glimpse of an artist’s eye, a short story if you will.

Berg also directed this stellar short film a fews years ago for Phillips as a rollout for their new LCD television. Awesome.

26 July 2011

Repo Man

directed by Alex Cox

In all honesty, I would watch (and probably love) Harry Dean Stanton in anything, and I mean anything. Even the worst piece of filmic refuse would be a welcomed addition to my collective cinematic memory bank if it involved HD Stanton. Luckily, Alex Cox’s cult classic Repo Man is not only anti-refuse, it’s a shit ton of madcap, wild fun. Alex Cox’s sense of humor is not for everyone, but if you are on the same page as this iconic filmmaker, then Repo Man is your cup of whatever the hell it is you drink. Emilio Estevez is fantastic as shiftless, loserish suburban punker Otto, who is taken under the wing of repo man Bud (Stanton). Bud lives by the repo code and snorts speed to be ever prepared to rip a car at any hour of the night or day, but when a marked Chevy Malibu worth 20 Gs gets the attention of every ripper in town, Bud and Otto find themselves in a mess that goes from batshit to even more batshit. The film is ludicrous in the way that Rubber was ludicrous, which is to say it’s a knowing lampooning of genre films, society and the pretension of “art” (I just choked a bit as I typed that ugly word), and a competently made lampooning at that. Stellar character actors like Tracey Walter (Batman) and Miquel Sandoval (Walker, Jurassic Park) help round out the absurdity. Hell, Cox even finds a way to get Jimmy Buffett (one of the blond agents) to not annoy me, and the Iggy Pop title track is righteous. Btw, anyone who was all “Dude, those end credits are insane!” when they watched David Fincher’s thriller Seven need to do a little cinematic homework…

A note: I had the good fortune of getting to see Alex Cox’s not sequel, Repo Chick, on the big screen at the now boarded up art house dive in Detroit. Same brand of humor. Same brand of crazy. Totally worth it.  Hopefully, The Burton Theatre will resurrect like a Phoenix from the ashes and start blessing the Detroit area with quality indie cinema again soon, but for now let’s all pour out a little liquor on the curb in their memory. 

25 July 2011

Friday Night Lights, the television series

developed for television by Peter Berg

First of all, I want to apologize for being so flaky lately. I was returning some videotapes (aka lost in the black hole of Friday Night Lights, the series)…

Peter Berg’s film bearing the same name is an underrated and electric sport classic in every single way, and whether they want to admit it or not, West Texas has high school football running through the veins of every man, woman and child. I have family in Odessa, and Berg uses the actual Ratliff Stadium (Permian's home field and a monument to football) to wonderful effect. It's a sight to behold: watching the desert fill with crazed excitement on a Friday night. It can be contagious... 

I was very, very skeptical of this, but my little brother (thanks for the reco, DC) finally convinced me to watch Berg’s television fiction inspired by the spirit of the film. What turned out as an hour begrudgingly set aside to choke down the first episode (what I assumed the experience would be like) immediately spiraled into a crazed obsession to feed on every episode, every nuance, every wonderful moment. In order to really appreciate this show in a review would take pages and pages and probably bore you all to tears, but fans of the film and fans of good storytelling will do well to experience this show. Season 1 is, in itself, a powerful piece of storytelling and television, a brave piece of film that only rarely falls apart on itself. While the later seasons (s2 in particular) really lacked, the first season is shockingly well written and (for the most part) well acted. Sure, there are a lot of weak performances by standard "tv" types (Gaius Charles, D.W. Moffett), but the fabulous (actually, what’s better than fabulous?) Connie Britton (Gaines' wife in the film) and Brad Leland (John Aubrey from the film) find a way to bridge the gap between the film dramatization and the fiction that is the series. Kyle Chandler shines as Coach Taylor, and the series also makes great use of the essence of the film's amazing score. Zach Gilford is hands down one of the most eye opening talents of the series as Matt Saracen, playing a Lucas Black style character that he truly makes his own. If you look at Season 1 as a miniseries, it is truly amazing.

Sadly, FNL fell victim to the effects of the dread writer’s strike, and lack of viewership caused it suffer the fate of half seasons and plot twists that will make you want to punch the tv (the shark jumping madness of Landry in season 2 is exhibit A!), but season 3 regains much of what was lost, and by the end of season 5, I was weepy and smitten, hanging on every word. Even Taylor Kitsch won me over, and he is officially my new Keanu Reeves, with a voice like Timothy Olyphant and the strut of Patrick Swayze. Even at the worst of times, when the plot really spins out of control, the show still manages to be spectacular on a moment to moment basis, due largely to the doc style directing and the extemporaneous dialogue sequences. The actors rarely rehearsed and never blocked scenes (camera operators were trained to follow the actors like in documentaries), which creates incredibly natural and genuine scenes that get to very vital cores of characters and moments in a wonderful way. It also allows the actors to really make their own choices with regard to their characters, which makes for fascinating results. The actors who come in later in the series are even stronger, especially Michael B Jordan and Matt Lauria, and Stacey Oristano rocks and rolls as Mindy Collette. Friday Night Lights the series is, to use Barry’s analogy from High Fidelity, like the Echo and the Bunnymen to the film’s The Jesus and Mary Chain. If you don’t know what I am talking about, just add High Fidelity to the top of your queue and thank me later.

One last assertion: I’m just gonna put it out there…
After consuming the entire FNL series, I think that Peter Berg’s film would have been even better if Kyle Chandler had played Coach Gaines. There, I said it.

15 July 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

directed by David Yates

You knew it was coming, readers of OMFBC. Even if you never read my glowing review of Alfonso Cuaron’s finest HP film, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, you have more than likely pieced it together over the years. Yes, I am an ever faithful, ever affectionate champion of Rowling’s fabulous story. And yes, I lined up just like every other nerd in nerdom to feast my dewy eyes on the final chapter of a decade long tale. Was it everything it could have been? Was it everything it should have been? Yes, yes it was. I have been to see every HP film with my soon to be sister in law: laughing, welling up, inching to the edge of my seat for nearly a decade, and neither one of us were disappointed. Director David Yates solidly took us down the final stretch of a filmic franchise unrivaled in terms of quality over time (HP never seemed to go all Lucas on us, thankfully). Even the youngish and square first films turned a corner in HP3, and the change helped to shape all that was to come. Let’s all just agree right now that the final (Tear. Sniffle) film was well shot, well edited, all that jazz: and let’s all just agree that the acting on the adult front was superb to say the least (Alan Rickman, you are one of the finest actors to ever grace the silver screen. Hooray for your comeuppance!). On the kid front (though they are all adults themselves, at this point), the strength of Emma Watson and Tom Felton have risen to great heights in developing a true blue characters that breathe real life. Everyone worth his or her salt has applauded the film for its merits, and I am not one to rock the boat in this case. The final HP film was a great end to a great series that finds itself lacking in very few areas. I can’t think of anything to add that others haven’t already said: I was choked up from the first frame, and I left with a sense of closure that is rare in the filmic world, especially when one invests this much time in a wonderful set of characters.

12 July 2011

Hey Netflix. Sit on it and spin.

I hate you, Netflix. I hate you!

Like millions of film lovers out there, I got my little gem of an email from Netflix today stating that my $10 per month plan that included 1 DVD at a time and streaming would now be turned into a $16 per month plan! If I want, I could pay only $7.99 for one of these features, but not both. Where’s Teri Garr when you need her! I am referring, of course, to the film Mr. Mom, in which Garr’s character, Caroline, convinces the tuna fish company for which she works to lower its prices to help people out during the tough economic times, but moreover, I am referring to the fantastically lazy way that Netflix tried to disguise a case of simple greed. Why not just send me an email that says “Hey BC. A termite walks into a bar and says ‘Is the bar tender here?’ Hoped you liked the joke, now bend over…” I may dislike it just as much as I do right now, but I would have at least respected them more. Now, I don’t even want to wait around for the final season of Friday Night Lights to come in the mail before I quit (I have been hanging around the mailbox like a junkie waiting for his dealer to hit the block). Share in the rage, ladies and gentlemen! Let’s put a brick through Netflix’s windshield. 

02 July 2011

The Tillman Story

directed by Amir Bar-Lev

Pat Tillman was paid: an NFL asset making millions of dollars, happily married, a beloved athlete. But after the events of September 11th, Pat decided to enlist with his brother, and when Pat was killed in Afghanistan, the truth seemed to be something in short supply and hard to obtain. Amir Bar-Lev’s excellent doc works to piece together the puzzle of just what in the hell happened to our military and our government in the wake of a not so cut and dry tragedy, and the candor with which everyone involved participates in this doc seems befitting of such a man as Pat. Josh Brolin narrates the film to wonderful effect, and it was because of his extra efforts that Neil Young actually allowed one of his songs to be used in the film (awesome). The doc is stellar on all fronts, well shot, well conceived and well told, and the feeling it leaves you with is one of disappointment, of anger at a system that could be so callous in its lust for a martyr, a hero, and a system so ruthless in its attempt to cover its own ass.