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    Thursday, January 31, 2008

    Into The WIld

    Watching the movie Sean Penn honed out of Jon Krakauer’s book Into The Wild, I couldn’t help but think that they both affected me in the same way. They methodically made me care about a person nothing about then let me watch them die. Ultimately I think Penn’s ending is more specific in setting it up as an accidental poisoning than Jon Krakauer’s supposition of the same. Penn takes a more specific approach to telling McCandless’s story, allowing it unfold between his time in the “Magic” bus and his adventures that brought him there. The voice over of the sister is a nice touch that bridges both McCandless’s pre journey days with his troubled family and acts as an almost Angelic presence as he winds his way through the world seemingly looked down upon by some mad sort of grace that keeps him safe from everything but himself. Emil Hirsh does a great job delicately portraying Christopher McCandless as an ultimately wide-eyed kid intent on trying to find his place in the world. There’s no malice here, or anger, just a redirection of energy and abandon that I’d say we all one time wish we were capable of pursuing. All of the supporting cast do a fine job, but there’s something about watching Hal Holbrook that was a bit mesmerizing. I’m not sure how many people ever thought of making Jon Krakauer’s book into a movie, but I find it hard to believe anyone could have pulled it off better and more compassionately than Penn. The one thing the movie did that the book never could for me, it made the self portrait found undeveloped in McCandless’s camera a powerful portrait. Penn knows this and uses the image to great effect as a kind of punctuation to the story.

    Tuesday, January 29, 2008

    Watched some movies

    It was basically raining all weekend here in LA so I rented 5 movies and stayed in. I have to say that to some degree I enjoyed them all, which was no coincidence seeing as how I picked them all to watch in the first place. I recommend them and they're all out on DVD. As soon as I remember what the fifth one was, yes I know that does not bode well for it, I'll tack it on. Someone loaned me a screener of INTO THE WILD, so I'll probably watch that tonight.

    3:10 to Yuma - Remake - Don't remember the original that well, but this is a fine update with a nice ensemble cast.

    Fido - There is something joyous in the style of this film and I have to say I'd completely forgotten that Billy Connolly played Fido until I watched the credits. His Zombie moans are the best.

    Paprika - Pretty, and oddly engaging for Manga.

    Once - I will add to this one and say that the only issue I had with this film was the overuse of two of the songs. It's a musical for crying out loud. Write a new song. Watched on a Sunday morning with COffe, which is the optimal way to watch it.

    Friday, January 25, 2008

    Wednesday, January 23, 2008

    Reality TV Manifesto

    There is little doubt that the long fought writer's strike will inevitably lead to a glut of reality television in 2008-2009. But there is no reason that that type of television has to be either exploitative or inane. To this idea I have derived, possibly selfishly, a Reality TV Manifesto to help guide the future makers of reality TV.

    1. With each show I shall make a difference.

    2. With each show I shall Inspire.

    3. With each show I will teach.

    4. With each show I will change lives.

    5. With each show I shall change myself.

    6. With each show I shall prove myself to be worthy of people's time.

    7. I will not exploit an individual or group for the gain of the show.

    8. I shall not edit for unnecessary or dishonest drama.

    9. No Dogma shall be propagated by the show.

    See, that wasn't too painful. Too bad it won't work. Oh well, back to the House Wives of Orange County.

    Monday, January 21, 2008


    CLOVERFIELD is, at least up until now, the most ambitious "found Artifact" as film to date. Like its predecessors THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, THE LAST BROADCAST, et al, it is told from a single point of view via a single found tape, now ostensibly in the hands of the Department of Defense. This is a tricky way to tell a story, but even with all of its faults CLOVERFIELD succeeds to a certain degree. One of the reasons it does so is that it is the first time this device has been used to tell this type of story. Haven't you always wondered what a Godzilla attack looked like from the victim's point-of-view? I know I have.

    Now of course the monster is not Godzilla, and from the looks of its anatomy not of this world either. However, it does a fine job of tearing the city apart and is lent the gentle assistance of the US Government trying to kill it and ultimately helping it in the absolute destruction of the city. The film succeeds quite nicely with this. The special effects are really quite a sight as well as the design of the creature and its parasitic minions. It works mostly as a chase film combined with a heroic gesture film. You don't always think the protagonists are thinking straight, but at least their mistakes aren't too unbelievable.

    Unfortunately, it being a found tape, you only get to see the interactions they have from the cameraman's point of view and this is where much of the emotion is kept at bay. You never really get to know the characters and really don't feel much empathy with them, but then again it is a monster movie so why should you. Well, you should because part of watching a movie of this design is to feel a part of what's happening on screen. You want to care when one of your traveling companions dies. I didn't. Was I creeped out by the subway tunnel scene? You betcha. I wouldn't want to be within 1000 feet of those nasty little bastards, but I didn't feel awful when one of them got bit, which, isn't a good idea let me tell you.

    Part of this distance isn't just generated with the camera, but how they chose to portray the character of Hud, who is the predominant camera operator throughout the bulk of the film. He's so awkward that he'd rather hide behind the eye piece than help the girl he has a crush on clean her wound. He actually makes uncomfortable jokes about her bite. I do have to say that I can't imagine why or how he was even hiding behind the eye piece of the camera anyway since most either don't even have them any more or have a fold out screen as well. I wished he had used the screen. It would have kept the image from shaking so much.

    Now it might sound like I'm being overly harsh, but I'm not. Making this kind of film is difficult and like I said before I think they succeeded quite well, but there are a few things I wish they had thought out a bit better. The camera has a way of having just the right thing at the right time. There is night vision when you needed it, to show the little parasite bastards at just the right moment, but only the audience and the camera operator can see them of course, but not when you should be using it and there is a light on the camera, also when you need it.

    Of course all of the protagonists are well off enough to be friends with a guy who lives high up in a nice big apartment, who just happens to be dating a girl in midtown, also in a nice apartment overlooking central park. Now, I know why this had to be done. You need those nice high shots, but why is it that these movies follow the trials and tribulations of the beautiful. Don't get me wrong I'm generally glad they do, because the only way I'm getting killed is if someone needs the short dumpy witty guy to join their team. At least we usually survive because we're smart enough to grab a flashlight.

    Where is this review going, I haven't the slightest idea other than to say that CLOVERFIELD works on many levels and doesn't work on many levels and until you get in the tunnels of the subway has, at least for me, almost no forward movement. That being said, it's a monster movie and it does what monster movies do best.

    Tuesday, January 15, 2008

    Monday, January 14, 2008

    Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

    Just a quick note to say that I watched the first part of the two part premiere of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles last night and will totally be tuning in tonight for the second part. I really enjoyed it. I hope they can keep this up, because I love the Terminator idea and really think the show kept a realistic hold on the world created by the movies. It could have something to do with me being enamored by Summer Glau, but I think that's secondary.

    Friday, January 11, 2008

    Wednesday, January 09, 2008

    Manage the Hate in '08

    So, I've decided that the theme for 2008 will be "Manage The Hate". It's something I scribbled on my calender in November while drunk and didn't remember writing it until I saw it there the next morning. It seems, at least on its surface, to be a worthy and possibly achievable goal. I mean I'm not getting any younger, and the more stress I can reduce from my life by not hating as many things as often I do has got to be good for at least a few more years on the end, right? So if you don't have a theme of your own for this year, try mine. If we can all manage to "Manage The Hate" in '08, things might just turn out to be "Fine in '09".

    Wednesday, January 02, 2008

    Back in LA

    Well I made it back safe to LA. If I hadn't left all my stuff here I probably would have stayed in Tennessee. California is wearing me out. But, it's a new year so we'll see where it takes me. Thanks to everyone who was able to make it out. I enjoyed seeing you. If you were out on Sunday, sorry for that. If you click on the picture below it'll take you to the flickr pool of the photos taken with people while I was wearing my Strike finery. I'm not yet a member of the WGA, but hope to be (sooner rather than later would be nice). I did my best to explain things as I understood them. Hope everyone has a happy and prosperous 2008.

    p.s. Now you know why I prefer to wear black t-shirts.