What movie was that...?

28 February 2012

Star Wars Uncut: Director's Cut

directed by Casey Pugh

I’m using the word “directed” loosely here, because what Casey Pugh really did was provide a fascinating glimpse into the soul of the collective Star Wars culture, and the result is unlike anything I have ever seen. In 2009, Pugh asked fans from everywhere to submit their own filmic covers of scenes from the iconic (hate it or not, you know it’s true) George Lucas film Star Wars: A New Hope. What he received in response, and later compiled into the magnificent film embedded below, was a true blue love letter to a filmic series that has influenced nearly every aspect of storytelling and filmmaking that followed. The beauty of Star Wars Uncut is the myriad perspectives the compilation affords through the assumption that you know A New Hope by heart (and we all do, film lovers. Admit it), and with that assumption comes the freedom to explore the innuendos, interpretations, humor, mistakes and larger cultural reverberations of such an influential film. Hats way off to Aaron Valdez for nailing the monumental feat of editing the vastly different filmic pieces into a cohesive and wildly, endearingly mesmerizing whole that never lost me. The common thread of the soundtrack helped as well, but ultimately it’s the people who clearly love the film that make this whole thing work, and whether it’s a fairly well financed bit of remake, or a man dressed as Han Solo with a Millennium Falcon model on his head (genius, btw), or a guy watching the film (clutching an action figure) and reciting the lines in anxious anticipation, the result is pure emotion. And that’s a very rare thing these days. I have my problems with George Lucas and his soul sucking series (though the impact of the original trilogy cannot be minimized), but I’ll be damned if I didn’t love this version of A New Hope even more than original! I have watched Pugh’s film at least a dozen times since the Director’s Cut debuted on You Tube, and it only gets better with each viewing.

Personal favorites:
29 minutes 23 seconds: The animation and aural interpretation of this sequence blew my mind.
36 minutes 50 seconds: Love the Michel Gondryesque prop work here.
37 minutes 20 seconds: Genius!
47 minutes 4 seconds: Just love the vocoder. Never knew parsecs could be so sexy…
54 minutes and 53 seconds: Well, I mentioned it above, but I just loved how the guy dressed as Han Solo even though he was filming a long shot of the Falcon taking off. Of course he should dress as Han!
1 hour 3 minutes 58 seconds: Just fantastic!

Anyway, enjoy. It really is a marvel.

26 February 2012

2012 OMFBC Awards

They're Heeeeere...

OMFBC Awards- Tipping the cap and flipping the bird to you, Hollywood. Like a withholding dealer, I hate you at times, but I always need you…

Let’s just do with sans the pomp and awfulness of other award ceremonies. Some of these awards will follow the standard categorical trappings, but I have added a few categories that may or may not change from year to year.

Just in case you don't see it: Winners are in Bold (and I awarded them a Gold Star)

Most Kick Ass Actress, Supporting or Otherwise
Gold Star: Michelle Williams- Meek’s Cutoff
Melissa McCarthy- Bridesmaids
Mia Wasikowska- Jane Eyre
Charlotte Gainsbourg- Melancholia
Kirsten Dunst- Melancholia
Charlize Theron- Young Adult
Saoirse Ronan- Hanna

Most Kick Ass Actor, Supporting or Otherwise
Ryan Gosling- Drive
Michael Shannon- Take Shelter
Gold Star: Dominic Cooper- The Devil’s Double
John Hawkes- Martha Marcy May Marlene
Gary Oldman- Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Gutpuncher Award, aka Most Visceral Film Award
Gold Star: Bellflower

Bandwagon Award, aka The movie I saw only because everyone else did, and I actually liked it Award
Gold Star: Super 8

Best Editing, aka I’m a geek. Desoleé Award
Gold Star: Aaron Valdez- Star Wars Uncut: A serious feat, this. I really should have reviewed this stunner (maybe I will...) Maybe I did!
Team Coatwolf (Evan Glodell, Vincent Grashaw, Joel Hodge, Jonathan Keevil)- Bellflower
Thelma Schoonmaker- Hugo

Best Doc
Gold Star: Senna
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front
Unbeatable Platinum Star: RIZE

Reason I Go to the Movies Award
Gold Star: Bellflower

Best Disaster of a Film Award
Gold Star: Drive Angry
Crazy, Stupid Love
I Am Number Four

Worst Thing Ever Award, aka Ugh Award
Adustment Bureau
Opposite of Gold Star: Sucker Punch
Something Borrowed
Priest
Moneyball

The How the Hell is No One talking about this Gem? Award
Gold Star: Bellflower

Wouldn’t have heard about this movie unless… aka Great Film Blog Award
Note: I have only listed the winner, though I love all of you whose blogs I enjoy.
Snowtown- Thank you to Colin at Pick 'n' Mix Flix for a consistently wonderful blog filled with rare treats and arid humor. 

There we have it. So far, 2012 isn't shaping up so well, but let's see what unfolds. I remain hopeful in you, Hollywood. Let's get to watching, film lovers across the world!

25 February 2012

A Town Called Panic

directed by Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar

For those of you who haven’t heard of the Belgian animated series A Town Called Panic, I would say get ready, for you are in for a madcap treat. What began as a wonderful series of animated shorts came to full, batshit blossom in the form of the infectiously enthralling and ludicrously magnificent feature film bearing the same title. A Town Called Panic is the kind of children’s film that appeals not just to children, but to the crazed, non-linear, eff you logic for which we adults often long. Animated in the best kind of old school stop motion style, the film tells the story of Cowboy and Indian’s botched attempt at a surprise birthday present for their friend Horse. It’s all down the rabbit hole from there, but the film will leave you breathless in more ways than one. The best one sentence summation of this film came from my mother in law (who recommended the film to me when it came out, btw) who said, “It’s like the movie equivalent of a pack of little boys tearing through the house playing ‘guns’ and making up new rules as they go along simply to keep the game going.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. 
And just in case you need a taste...

12 February 2012

Hell and Back Again

directed by Danfung Dennis

War makes monsters of men. It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it. Add your own trite wartime quote, but the reality is that for most Americans, the War on Terror has long outstayed its welcome. A lot has changed in the past 10 years, but the current war in which we find ourselves is still one in which young men weened on Doom, gangster rap and redneck patriotism are the global mouthpieces for our culture, which is both depressing and frightening (just watch Restrepo for some flinch-worthy evidence of this fact). Danfung Dennis found the centerpiece of his doc in the strangely charismatic and likeable Nathan Harris, who got his ass shot off during another tour in Afghanistan and is now coping with the aftermath of his life choices. Many have sang the praises of Hell and Back Again, and those praises are in many ways much deserved (hell, Dennis got hisself a dang old Academy Award nomination for his picture) though as I watched this film I couldn't help but wonder how actually different Harris would have been had he never experienced war first hand. Harris joined the military to kill, to get a true blue taste of that thrill with which he had been inoculated (and, in a way, promised) since adolescence, and as far as I could tell, he wasn't really affected by all that horror. In war, Harris was calm, collected, at peace, even. It’s the real world that seems to cause him debilitating stress (the parking lot scene is both telling and heart breaking), and not because it stands in stark contrast to the world of war. Truly, the only thing that seems to affect Harris is the drugs he takes to ease the pain of his wounds. Perhaps I know too many Nathans over here, and perhaps I am reading too much into this, but I felt Danfung Dennis tried to stitch together a tapestry that never actually existed simply because he didn't want to make another Restrepo (a far superior film), and in doing so he missed the mark.
Colin from Pick ‘n’ Mix Flix presents more of an outsider’s take on the doc, and perhaps that is the magic ingredient I was missing from this stew. Check it out.

11 February 2012

Detroit:Ville Sauvage- An Update

A little over a year ago we Detroiters had the pleasure of a smallish surge of interest in our fair city, what with a promotional mini doc for Palladium Boots, a wintry visit from Crispin Glover, and a wonderfully mesmerizing doc by a quiet young Frenchman named Florent Tillon. His documentary, entitled Detroit: Ville Sauvage, was originally intended to be a doc about wildlife coming back to a city abandoned by its once thriving population of human denizens. Tillon found in the city a different sort of inspiration, and the result is a poetic and understated tome that explores what it means to be from Detroit. I compared this film to the Andrew Douglas doc Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus when it premiered in my beloved (and much lamented) Burton Theatre in 2010. I just received a post from Florent on my original Ville Sauvage review concerning an upcoming documentary Tillon is working on about the sinister future of Las Vegas, aptly titled Las Vegas Meditation. He is still working out the caption translations, but this next doc looks just as promising as Ville Sauvage. Just give it a look, and if you are intrigued, show him some support. You'll get your name in the credits of what will most likely be a pretty interesting little documentary, which as we all know is major street cred to the public radio crowd.

05 February 2012

Oscars 2012: Lame Hard with a Vengeance

The third installment of my crotchety take on the so called Academy Awards tackles music and directing. Still pissed that such films as Tyrannosaur don't show up anywhere on the Academy lists, but I am happy that Bullhead is nominated for Best Foreign Language film. A must see, that film is.

The form is as follows:
Deserves it- Of the nominees, the nominee that actually deserves that award (or just deserves it the most).
Doesn't deserve it- The nominee who, upon reading the name, causes me to spit out my beverage and curse, and not in a good way.
Screwed- A worthy performance/film/filmic component that was scandalously overlooked.
Special Notes- May be italicized as well.

Best Score:
Deserves it- Howard Shore, Hugo: I loved Shore’s moving score for the fantastic film, Hugo.
Doesn’t deserve it-  I can hate on all these wonderful scores (which I won't), but there was one score that was outrageously snuffed this year (see Screwed).
Screwed- The Chemical Brothers, Hanna: Screwed avec a capital S. In a film brimming with high points, The Chemical Brothers score was a breath of fresh air and a subversive delight. Alas, they suffer the same fate as Daft Punk’s tragically overlooked Tron Legacy score. Get some turntables, Academy!

Best Original Song:
Deserves it- Bland by Jonanthan Keevil, the Bellflower soundtrack: Keevil is hands down- Wait, what? Keevil wasn’t nominated for Bland? What about for his other perfect song, Babyfin? Not nominated at all? Well then who the hell was? (reads nominees) Are you effing kiddng me?!!!!
Doesn’t deserve it- Everyone else!
Screwed- Keevil, Keevil, Keevil! Even sans the filmic context, Keevil’s tracks carry a tragic and heartbreaking weight like few other things this year. It’s bullshit, Academy.

Best Directing:
Deserves it- Frankly, I’m really raw that Nicolas Winding Refn and Evan Glodell are criminally vacant from this list, so you know what? Give it to Scorsese for Hugo. His blend of deep, profound whimsy and razorish darkness was a wonder.
Doesn’t deserve it- Terence Malick, Tree of Life: Even as I type this my fingers are twitching, as if on a primal, instinctual level, they realize it’s wrong. I only wish Malick could have edited himself a bit more.
Screwed- You can spell screwed 2 ways this year. Ether R-E-F-N or G-L-O-D-E-L-L. I may just start saying I got Glodelled the next time I have to go into work on my day off.

There you are, folks. Stay classy. I shall return with my take on Best Film closer to the awards, but I will begin my OMFBC Awards shortly. Any votes/nominations/2 cents will (as always) be appreciated.

02 February 2012

Oscars 2012: Lame Harder

Here is another installment of my gripey take on the Academy Award nominations this year. Feel free to chime in fellow movie lovers, film fanatics, hipster arthouse snobs and mainstream meat and potatoes cinephiles.

The form is as follows:
Deserves it- Of the nominees, the nominee that actually deserves that award (or just deserves it the most).
Doesn't deserve it- The nominee who, upon reading the name, causes me to spit out my beverage and curse, and not in a good way.
Screwed- A worthy performance/film/filmic component that was scandalously overlooked.
Special Notes- May be italicized as well.

Best Cinematography:
Deserves it- Emmanuel Lubezki, Tree of Life: I may have had some major problems with Terence Malick’s letdown of a magnum opus, but the dreamlike, haunting cinematography of Emmanuel Lubezki was not one of them. Gorgeous.
Doesn’t deserve it- Actually, this is a tough one. All nominated are titans of their craft and their efforts this year were amazing.
Screwed- Joel Hodge, Bellflower: The cinematography, in conjunction with Evan Glodell’s magic eye and Jonathan Keevil’s bare bones soundtrack, was like nothing I experienced this year.
AARRGGHHHH!- Seriously, Academy, how in the shit could you not nominate Keevil at all? You only nominated 2 songs this year. It’s like you kicked art in the crotch!


Best Doc:
Deserves it- Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory: This one earns it on the merit of its predecessors, its stalwart dedication to verity and the Thin Blue Line esque impact these films have had.
Doesn’t deserve it- Danfung Dennis and Mike Lerner, Hell and Back Again: I had me some issues with Hell and Back Again.
Screwed- Let me see… RIZE! RIZE, dammit! I will carry that torch for all time, Mr David LaChappelle. Also, what about the pure passion of Senna, or even the fascinating glimpse into the complex inner workings of one Conan O’Brien in the form of Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop? For shame!

Best Editing:
Deserves it- Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist. Top notch, you two. Silent (ish) films have a magic all their own, and editing plays a huge part in that.
Doesn’t deserve it- Christopher Tellefsen, Moneyball: What the hell have I missed? The editing was something I disliked the most about this film, even more that Brad Pitt’s blank stare slash pseudo mad face face.
Screwed- Team Coatwolf, Bellflower: Team Coatwolf edited Bellflower into the wild nightmare that it was, and it is Team Coatwolf who should be hijacking many categories for which they received no recognition. You better hope the apocalypse doesn’t happen soon Academy, because Evan Glodell, Joel Hodge, Tyler Dawson, Jonathan Keevil and the rest of Team Coatwolf will be showing up at your houses with a flame spitting wasteland cruiser. And they will be eating you first.


More to come...