Monday, April 30, 2007

iffb 8 : FIDO w/"Rabbit"

site | trailer | IFFBThe zombie renaissance continues! Imagine PLEASANTVILLE meets NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD! The result, a ton of really stylin' satirical zombie fun! =)

It's 1950s American suburbia, only the most recent great war was not fought against any other nation or ideology, but on the legions of the undead, reanimated by a mysterious form of radiation. Living humanity successfully defends the best of their civilization, resulting in a life very like the LIFE magazine covers we're already familiar with... Mom greets dad at the door with a martini, dad puffs on his pipe while dispensing fatherly wisdom, and little Timmy loves his baseball and apple pie! There's a car in every driveway, a TV in every living room, and... a zombie in every yard. That's right, a domestic zombie. In the battle against the living-challenged, humanity learned to tame the zombies' hunger for living flesh, thanks to Zomcon's revolutionary electronic containment collar, turning the previously useless undead into productive members of society.

In an effort to keep up with their new neighbors, the Robinson family finally breaks down and splurges on a zombie of their own. It takes a little time for the family get comfortable with him, but once his undead companion saves him from some bullies, little Timmy warms up to him, naming him Fido, and basically treating him like a Fido. Other members of the family come to relate to him on different levels, working out issues of their own in their interactions.

It may sound kooky, but it's a little bit LASSIE, a little bit DOWN AND OUT IN BEVERLY HILLS, and a lot of understated comedy delivered in simple groans and undead eye rolls and expressions from Billy Connolly as Fido. I'll spare you any deeper plot bits, because really, all you have to do to understand the comic potential here is imagine the social commentary power of the zombie film dropped into the sham American idyll of the 1950s, shaken and stirred.

Okay, still need more of an overt prod? Hrmm... How about I put it like this? Ward Cleaver, or, ummm... a flesh-eating zombie. Who's the more life-like? Who's more the zombie?


As an IFFB bonus, the animated brilliance of "Rabbit" opened the screening. The imagination, style, writing, animation, and music of this amazing short is just off the charts for me. Pure frickin genius! =)

Keep on keepin on~

iffb 7 : SUPER AMIGOS w/"The Fighting Cholitas"

site | trailer | iffbAlas, not as much physical luchador action as I'd hoped. And no real team-up/crossover action, either. The individual stories are certainly remarkable—five men don the traditional masks of Lucha Libre heroes and take their progressive fights for progressive causes to the streets of Mexico City—but the storytelling doesn't do them justice. The filmmakers seem to follow some rather loose rules and guidelines for documenting their subjects. The superhero tack they take is a great idea for a unifying motif, and totally fitting with the mythos that each super-wrestler draws upon for inspiration, but I wanted more detail and history, out of it. The film seems to assume that I already know something about these heroes, and goes light on giving us a proper profile or background on most of them. Fray Tormenta, the only one who had a legit career in the ring, came off as the most developed in the course of the film. Perhaps they others needed or wanted to preserve whatever level of anonymity they had...? But that declaration itself would have been appreciated, had it been included on screen.

I really would have loved some words from a Mexico City "Commissioner Gordon" type, y'know? Someone with authority and cred, on either side of the Amigos' fights, to comment on their methods and progress. More testimonials from the their supporters, too. A better defined timeline for the stories of each luchadores social would have helped with the film's intercut storytelling. Comic book "meanwhile"s fit the theme, but does Ecologista Universal (the defender of the environment) truly make his 100-plus mile hike from the Mexican wilderness into Mexico City, in costume, in the time that Super Barrio (defender of the poor tenants of the city) takes to organize a tenant march to thwart unfair evictions.

The choice of subjects is excellent. The superhero/comic-inspired framing of the film is grand, and the animations included to describe secret origins and provide some background exposition are very fun, but the overall storytelling feels incomplete, choppy and convoluted.

The short film that preceded AMIGOS, "The Fighting Cholitas," was better put together. It introduces us to the wrestling Cholitas, both "Tecnicas" and "Rudas," aka good and bad, in the upstart Cholita wrestling circuit in Bolivia. It reminded me a bit of the A&E series ROLLERGIRLS from last year sometime. We see them in the ring, training and battling, and then outside the arena, with their children and family, busy with their day jobs in the workshop or marketplace, and explaining their pride in their Bolivian Indian identity, representing in the ring, and releasing other sides of themselves when in character. And they do it all in traditional multi-layered skirts!

Keep on keepin on~

iffb 6 : KING CORN

site | trailer | iffbA great documentary that focuses on the U.S. corn crop as a gateway to exploring issues of family farming, economics, and health in America today.

Curt and Ian, two best friends just out of college, are struck by a surprising statistic—theirs is the first generation expected to live lives shorter than those of their parents. That was actually news to me. The pair do a little research and consultation and discover that diet may be the greatest contributor to the fulfillment of this prophecy. When they are told that, as 20somethings born and raised in the U.S., most of the food they've consumed over the course of their lives is actually made from corn (processed and used in other foods and used to fatten cornfed livestock), they decide to follow the corn. They start at the beginning, picking up and moving to Iowa to plant themselves one acre of corn, then learn how it ends up in almost every food available at the local supermarket and each sandwich, french fry, and cola of every fast food value meal. As they move forward over the next year, meeting with farmers, academics, researchers, and corporate reps, they learn about the history of corn and U.S. agriculature, corn and food processing, government subsidization and surplus/over-production of corn, and the ubiquitous presence of corn in the American diet.

It's kinda crazy.

At the same time, both 1-acre farmers learn that they have farming roots themselves, some three generations back, and they discover the parts that they're great-grands played in Iowa agriculture and industry.

The film doesn't explicitly tackle the Big Agro names you may already be familiar with, such as Monsanto and Cargill. Instead, they keep the film focused at a smaller scale, at the scope of a individuals and communities, those closely involved with the planting, harvesting, and ultimate uses of modern corn in the U.S. today. It's not a joyful journey, and not very rewarding for either the farmer or the consumer.

If you see the film listed at your local artsy/indie theater, check it out, particularly if most of your life experience has been spent in urban environments, away from farmland and agriculture. It's a very interesting look into that world, just a few state lines away. If you're up for it, I urge you to put this in your Netflix queue right next to FUTURE OF FOOD. They would make for a helluvan eye-opener documentary double feature about the social, economic, and biological dangers inherent in the intersection of agriculture, technology, and big business in the world today.

In the Q&A w filmmakers 1-acre farmer Curt Ellis and director Aaron Woolf following the screening, the question came up of where the blame/responsibility lies for America's dependence on this one crop for affordable, yet unhealthy, food for the growing population. Some audience members pointed to the corporations who manipulate the genetics, politics, and economics surrounding the crop, but Curt waved his hand across the audience and said that we all, as consumers and voters, carry some of that responsibility as well. This year, the so-called "Farm Bill" is up for renewal. It pertains to the government subsidization and regulation of farming in the U.S., important mechanisms in manipulating production and market price of foods in America. I think I vaguely recall seeing it in the news (or even on a ballot of some kind?) some years ago, but not paying it much attention. The director quoted someone and said that it should really be renamed the "Food Bill," because that's really what it's about, and urban and suburbanites would be less likely to dismiss the matter as something relevant only to the midwest farmers. I know I'll pay some more attention.

Some *SPOILER* info that comes to light in the documentary. Data, really. Nothing, honestly, that will ruin the sharing of the experience of these novice farmers, or the film as a whole....

The corn that is most profitable for farmer to grow today has been bred and engineered for very specific purposes and high yield. The government pays the famer to plant, which allows market prices to be kept artificially low. And when the boys taste-test their portion of a record-breaking quantity crop, they find it inedible. What they are growing is a raw material, industrially comparable, really, to something extracted from a mine. As a result, farmers today do not raise any food for themselves. Farms used to be best run by balancing animal husbandry and agricultural practices, but with modern sciences applied to maximizing harvest yields, artificial nutrients and treatments prove far more efficient to nature's materials. Most farms in Iowa today only grow corn, and exclude the raising of livestock altogether.

Keep on keepin on~

Sunday, April 29, 2007

rainy day movie options (IFFBoston)

The last full day of Independent Film Festival of Boston programming is on!
A sample of today's offerings in the documentary category...

THE THIRD MONDAY IN OCTOBER, about the politics of student council elections in American high schools across America...

SUPER AMIGOS, focused on five Mexican wrestlers who take their masked identities to the streets to combat criminals, slumlords, and bigotry...

MONSTER CAMP, following live-action roll players—participants dress up in character (and race, a la troll, fairy, wizard, what-have-you) to play a game like Warcraft, or Dungeons & Dragons, only in "real life"—in their in- and out-of-game lives...
And in the narrative/fiction column...

YEAR OF THE FISH, a modern retelling of the Chinese "Cinderella" story, told in a painterly rotoscoped/animated style similar to that of SCANNER DARKLY...

THE TEN, ten blasphemous and hilarious shorts based on/illustrating the ten commandments. From the creator of WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER (great quirky comic 80s movie spoof fun)...

FIDO, it's 1950s American suburbia, and every home has a color TV in the living room, a car in the driveway, and a zombie in the yard! What could be finer?
Check out the entire remaining catalog of films and screenings here...

Note that there's still a Monday night of screenings available as well, along with the closing night flick at the Coolidge on Tuesday.

Keep on keepin on~

p.s. If you're looking for a movie option without the obvious stigma of "independent-ness" attached to it, check out HOT FUZZ and GRINDHOUSE, which have been marketed and labelled as indies, but play like plain ol' kickass big screen fun! Provided you like to laugh, and can stand just a bit (okay, with GRINDHOUSE, a *lot*) of violence and action, you will have yourself a helluva good time watching either of these. =)

GRINDHOUSE trailer...

HOT FUZZ trailer...

From SPACED (by the creators of HOT FUZZ)...

p.p.s. CASABLANCA plays at the Brattle on Monday and Tuesday nights this week!

iffb 2007 so far...

Two nights of vball and workywork knocked out almost all of the Thursday and Friday IFFB offerings. I let the details of the festival slide until the beginning of this week anyhow. All of the "After Dark" offerings were easy stand-outs, tho, so I made sure I'd hit those, then set about building the rest of my moviegoing itinerary around the timeslots that remained. And also whenever I could successfully motivate myself out of the homestead. Which has been kind of tough of late...

* April 30. A little note to aggravate myself later when I come back to look at what I saw at the IFFB this year. Celebrity/filmmaker appearances I missed (not that I could've done anything but be a starstruck fanboy)... Will Arnett (ARRESTED's G.O.B.!), Eliza Dushku (Faith!), James Urbaniak (Dr. frickin Venture!)!


So, what I've managed to screen so far, and what I plan to hit tomorrow (Sunday)...

BLACK SHEEP (w "Death Trike"). Friday, midnight. Brattle.
A must-see for horror fans. Those frickin New Zealanders have got some innate talent for creative gore with great characters driven by so much more than an excuse of a story. An almost throw-away joke of a horror concept—genetically engineered bloodthirsty sheep—but executed gorgeously and played to the hilt. Throw in some classic and strong sibling rivalry and horror/hero motifs and you've got a baaadass hilarious action/horror flick!

COMRADES IN DREAMS. Saturday, 12.30pm. Somerville Davis.
A touching portrait of very personal cinema venues in four corners of the world. I love it. It's a tear jerker and a dreams stoker.

AUDIENCE OF ONE. Saturday, 3.30pm. Somerville Davis.
A great documentary, something of a slow-motion train wreck, focused on an incredible subject—a Pentecostal minister receives a vision from God instructing him to direct a science-fiction film as an entertainment vehicle to better spread His word! It's JESUS CAMP meets STATE AND MAIN... or AND GOD SPOKE, but fer real.

KING OF KONG. Saturday, 7.15pm. Brattle.
Awesomely McAwesome. If you get the chance, do not miss it!

THE BEACH PARTY AT THE THRESHOLD OF HELL (w "Songbird"). Saturday, 11.30pm. Brattle.
Witness the birth of the nation of New America in the post-apocolyptic wasteland of 2097! If you dig a quirky approach to post-apocolyptic settings (more with the oddball characters and social and political commentary than the turbo-charged chase scenes and action sequences) you might check this out, but I wouldn't make it a priority. Has some very fun ideas and some decent moments of style, but I personally wish it was more tightly edited, more polished. As a fried near-midnight offering with a good crowd of people, it didn't completely suck. The ending implied follow-up chapters/sequels, but I'm not holding my breath.

KING CORN. Sunday, 12pm. Brattle.

SUPER AMIGOS. Sunday, 5pm. Brattle.

FIDO. Sunday, 9pm. Somerville Davis.

Throw in a sweet random run-in with an old friend between shows at the Somerville theater and that's not a bad couple days at the movies. =)

Eh. It's sort of a life. Sort of?
Keep on keepin on~


site | Picturehouse | IFFB | trailerYou've GOT to see this! Man, this is an awesome film! A kickass craft + competition documentary with some amazing personalities and a surprisingly gripping story. Look for it at your local arthouse theater, put it on your Netflix queue, but do *not* go googling for the personalities or details of the events covered by the film. You will want to watch them unfold without knowing the twists and turns in store. Trust me.

I saw the 7.15 show tonight at the Brattle and the packed room was totally into the ups and downs of the film, punctuating all the key moments with the appropriate groans, hisses, laughs, applause, and even fist-pumping cheers. I gotta say, this is a perfect example of the theater environment enhancing the movie experience. After the film, I caught Ned outside with some Brattle/indie regulars, and one of them mentioned that she caught the woman seated next to her crying at one point.

This, at a movie ostensibly focused on getting high scores on an arcade game from the 80s! Wonderful stuff! =)

The AIR GUITAR NATION of classic video gaming!

Right, I haven't actually explained that part yet, did I? I'm a little overly tired right now, pardon me. So, the movie introduces us to this brotherhood of sorts. A collection of personalities who made their mark in the 80s by setting national, if not world, records with high scores on the most popular arcade games of the times, including Donkey Kong. They were teenagers then, but 20 years later, we find that gaming is still a cornerstone of their day-to-day. Some have parlayed their unusual notoriety into business opporunities while others continue to pursue higher and higher scores to this day. One arcade game wunderkind, Billy Mitchell, set a high score record for Kong that stood unchallenged for 20 years. It was considered unbeatable. Enter downsized hobby gamer with an obsessive nature, Steve Wiebe. On an arcade version of Kong in his garage, he breaks the supposedly unbeatable record! When he sends in a videotape record of his feat (including some unplanned offscreen... umm... antics, you might say, by his son Derek =), the classic video gaming authority, Twin Galaxies, has its doubts. When their "referees" start looking into the details, of Wiebe's hardware, and then his known associates, an almost unbelievable web of suspicion and collusion among the record-holding gamers and their referee authorities is revealed. Who can be trusted to provide legitimate proof of a record breaking high score? More importantly, who can be trusted to rule on it? When the Guinness Book wants an authoritative declaration, it can only be settled in a public forum, a video game showdown to learn who has truly earned the title, King of Kong.

Steve Wiebe is such a great outsider good guy, someone who deserves to be recognized purely on merit. However, the world of classic gaming is much dirtier and clique-ier than anyone could have imagined, and Billy Mitchell, insider leader and gamer hero/poster boy can't just sit back and let an upstart nobody knocking his initials down the leaderboard. I don't know what kind of release this film will be getting, but I hope it at least makes the artsy/indie rounds. You do not have to have dropped thousands of quarters into Donkey Kong to get this film. It's remarkable drama, and so much more than just two guys playing arcade games.

Some *SPOILERy* highlights...

Wiebe packs up his family for a trip to Florida, where he will attempt to set an official Guinness World record high score for Donkey Kong. In the car, his daughter tells him she didn't realize that the Guinness Book was such a big deal. He tells her that it is, enough so that people all over the world try some crazy things to get into the book. His daughter than observes, "I think some people even ruin their lives to get in it."

Out of the mouths of babes.

Man, the mulletted Mitchell stepped out of an 80s high school outsider-makes-good film. The jerkass tough guy-slash-cool kid. He surrounds himself—at least within the classic gamer community—with acolytes and minions. When Wiebe begins to make a splash, it's these friends of his who create static about the legitimacy of his claims. And when Steve steps up to perform live, at an arcade and established official gamers' forum, they all but actually heckle him while he plays. This one guy, Kuh, talks to the camera while Wiebe is on a record-breaking run, explaining how well he's doing, but at the same time, always hedging with a remark here and there about all the things that can go wrong. It's just amazing how obvious of a tool he is.

Y'know, in my head, the comparisons of this documentary to actual 80s movies just keep on comin, particularly the ones that center around a competition or sport. They even chose the appropriate songs from ROCKY films for several sequences of the documentary. Good crack!

It really is a real-life KARATE KID for Donkey Kong. No real Mr. Miyagi that I could single out, but plotwise, well, in the end, even the Cobra Kai sinsei's star pupils hafta give Danny his due and their respect. At the end of KONG, Wiebe's straight shooting and earnest attitude and good nature win over more than a few of the gamer insiders.

Something like that.

Man, I really want to play some old-school Donkey Kong now and impress some sweet DDG babes. =)

Click here for some random DK fun collected by Jeff.

Keep on keepin on~

p.s. There's a sweet cameo by Q-bert. =)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

long night...

A boring recap of my last two evenings, which have really felt like one long one...

Had coed reverse 4s on Thursday night with "What Has Eight Legs And Wins?" Our last night of ball together before Lady Hilary gets all matrimonialized. It was a fun night. We got off to a bit of a rough start, but got into a pretty decent groove for the second half of the night. We had the ideal schedule—4 matches in a row, and no working, whee! So, we actually got done and out at a sort of reasonable hour of 10pm.

Alas, what did I get to do with that bonus time? Work. Yeah, we had something of a rush job sent our way earlier in the day, with assets delivered to us midafternoon. The client wanted a first pass/prototype of the work in the morning for review, and then a near-final version, based on their feedback, complete by the end of day.

Good times, no?

Except for two hours of early morning unconsciousnes, I spent all of overnight Thursday working. I ended up working from home all day Friday to execute client requests as they came in. Partner Joe stepped up most graciously to take over the later day modifications while I napped for an hour before leaving for an evening volleyball tournament.

Coming off of so little sleep, I was worried about playing tonight. Earlier this week, I'd thought that I wasn't going to be playing in this one at all. When Bruno asked about availability for these Friday night tournaments, I said I wasn't sure about this date, because I knew the IFFB would be happening, and I was hoping to have the evening free for hitting some indie goodness and supporting this kickass festival.

Then, on Tuesday, I think, I see an email from Bruno asking Jill, Keri, and myself if we can confirm that we're in for Friday night. I was dawdling a bit on the response when I saw an email from Jill not so much asking as telling me I should be playing because who's sets is she going to hit if I'm not, right? So... I let that tip the scales. Part of me might have been relieved to have an event that could be an obstacle to going too nuts with the festival going this year. I was a bit of a nut about it last year... but got to see some excellent frickin films. =)

Anyhow, come Wednesday, it turns out Jill has to bail on playing Friday night. I gave her some roundabout $hit for it, but whatev. It's volleyball. I love me some volleyball. Besides, I'd already gone and bought a ticket for the midnight BLACK SHEEP at the Brattle, and no tickets for other Friday night shows. Friday night vball and a midnight IFFB "After Dark" flick. What could be better?

Not a lot, really.

So, tonight, aka Friday. Bruno put together a roster with Keri, Crystal, Sheela, Bruno, Zak, and myself. I'd never played w Sheela before. She was great in the back row on defense/passing.

Man, Crystal really plays vball for fun. She's so fast, and so up for anything. That, I love. I want to say that she reminds me of me when I was younger, but that's probably giving me way too much credit. If volleyball was a tribe with certain traditional ways and modern changes, in society or in the environment, was threatening the volleyball way of life, Crystal would be the new blood that the tribe would look to as its last great hope of restoring it to its once great glory.

Or something.

It turned out to be a pretty fun night, but I have to say the highlight for me was when Keri, Crystal, Glen, and I took an empty court to play some CR doubles for 15 minutes or so. Ahh... doubles. *sigh*

Unfortunately the night ended rather unpleasantly. In the second game of our finals match, a ball came over to our side really short. This was on the women's net. Crystal and Zak both went for it. Crystal was closer, or maybe just faster, and she dove, hit the floor, and got the ball up. Zak was already in motion, tho, and inertia carried him directly to Crystal's position. Zak ended up sprawling to fall over her, but in the process, knocked her down, striking the back of her head and causing her to hit the floor with her forehead. An ugly conk of a sound. When it happened, I felt the lateness of the hour and the looseness and tiredness of all the players in the gym. It was just the sort of thing I was afraid of when I thought about playing after so little sleep earlier in the evening.


Crystal was hurt, but put on the brave face and forced herself back onto her feet sooner than I might've. Someone on the opposing team suggested calling it a night and a draw. A gracious suggestion that we took them up on. Crystal started to ask everyone if we wanted to keep playing, but we all agreed that we didn't really have it in us. Someone had mentioned that she might have a concussion. I wonder if there was someone around to drive her home, or if she went to the e/r to check things out.

Most of the damage I incur on the volleyball court is my own fault. Two weeks ago I did some foolish thing that resulted in me hitting the floor hard enough that I thought I felt my teeth had shifted, messing with my bite. Crazy. The worst collision-y incident I can recall happened in college. I would play pick-up with the women's team coach and some of his friends, all of them older, like real adults, y'know? I think that was the first setting that I received vball advice along the lines of "choose your battles, be discriminating about which longshot balls you go for, your body will thank you for it later."

I have yet to put that advice into practice. My body hates me.

Anyhow, someone on my team shanked a pass and I dove and slid across the floor to get the ball up as a decent set. Unfortunately, the set was nearly perfectly vertical, and I, and my head, were on the floor in just the spot that a hitter would want to take off to hit it. You can guess what happened. This guy, Ray, approached and jumped to hit the ball, and in his take off, basically kicked me in the jaw.

Good times... good times...

In the wake of Crystal's injury, I have to admit I was guiltily pleased when I checked the clock and figured out that I'd have just enough time to take a whore's bath in the men's room, change out of my vball togs, and motor over to the Brattle to catch BLACK SHEEP. That's just how it worked out, too. Ray and his cousin Noel had beat me to the theater and kindly saved me a seat upstairs in the balcony.

The crowd was rowdy at the start, expected from a midnight horror flick crowd mixed in with IFFB regulars. But once the feature, BLACK SHEEP, got going, all the noises from the audience were appropriate and germane to the "violence of the lambs" on screen. Damn good crack. It reminded me at different times of TREMORS, THE SWARM, and SEVERANCE in its creativity. Hilarious and well-executed horror from an incredibly unlikely, almost throw-away, idea—maneating sheep. =)

Allright. It's about time I forced myself to have a lie-down and hopefully soon after, sleep. I hope I don't sleep the whole morning away, tho. I really do want to pick out a couple more IFFB options... Front runners include SUPER AMIGOS (5 Mexican wrestlers take to the streets and fight crime), THE TEN (quirky stories illustrating the Ten Commandments), COMRADES IN DREAMS (indie movie theaters and moviegoers from around the world), YEAR OF THE FISH (Cinderella in Chinatown), KING OF KONG (a documentary about Donkey Kong high score busting), KING CORN, and AUDIENCE OF ONE. I've already got a ticket for the midnight BEACH PARTY ON THE THRESHOLD OF HELL.

Keep on keepin on~

Thursday, April 26, 2007

vote for a STAR WARS stamp!

In cahootz with the 30th anniversary of the release of STAR WARS (aka A NEW HOPE), the U.S. Postal Service is commissioning a STAR WARS stamp. Check them out and vote for your favorite here.

I also hear tell of an upcoming 3-episode arc of ROBOT CHICKEN goodness starring the voices of George Lucas and Mark Hammil. Keep your eyes and DVRs on the Cartoon Network for the STAR WARS kookiness. More signs of Luke S.'s—whoops, that's Lucas's—mellowing out?
Thanks to Keri for the headzup on the nerf-herding postal goodness. =)

May the Force be with your parcels.

Keep on keepin on~

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Is this funny...?

I think so. =)

* The next day. Maybe it'll help if I 'splain that I only think it's funny in light of 300's portrayal of Spartan society. That is, you'll only "get" it if you've seen the movie or read the graphic novel. I took the photo on the 18th but until I walked by the marquee again tonight, I'd neglected to download the pic from my camera.

And, speaking of ANCHORMAN....

A little something to make up for anyone who was drawn in by the question in the title of this post but ended up answering, "Ummm... not so much..."
Thanks to Scott for the point to this sweet mash-up. =)

Keep on keepin on~

IFFB "After Dark"

The "After Dark" selections playing this year at the Independent Film Festival of Boston. These look frickin brilliant! =)

Click the IFFB links for summaries and online ticket sales. Note that a pool of rush tickets will be held back for sale at the box office on the day of every screening, so a "sold out" notice at the site does *not* necessarily mean that there are no tickets available. Visit or call the box office at each venue.

site | trailer | IFFB
site | trailer | IFFB
Plays with animated short "Rabbit," stylish genius last seen as part of THE ANIMATION SHOW 3 =)
site | trailer | IFFB
Keep on creepin on~

AIR GUITAR NATION: joyful guitar heroics!

site | trailer
Just got back from seeing AIR GUITAR NATION at the Brattle with my sister, Row, and Dan. Damn! That's one helluva fun movie to watch! It was the late show on a Tuesday night, a very thin crowd, but you could hear the laughs and the gasps and even cheers and applause from every quarter. Maybe my quarter a few more times than any other, but still. =)

Have you seen the trailer? Maybe you snorted or guffawed. Perhaps you laughed out loud. You might have asked yourself, "Why the heck would I want to see a movie about people who take air guitaring seriously?" The answer: Because it's damn entertaining and full of joy.

At times, you will find yourself laughing at the performers, and at others, with them. From either perspective, it's a lot of laughs. =)

Throughout, you may feel that the film hops back and forth over the line between making fun and having fun. Where that line is, exactly, is different for everyone, both in the audience, and in the film. All the while, tho, the film's subjects, these air guitar heroes, are driven by joy, dedication, and more than a little (perhaps otherwise useless) talent.

The film starts with the founding of the U.S. Air Guitar Championship competition ("The guitars are fake... The chops are real!"). The creators of the competition learn that there is an international championship held in Finland every year, but since its inception, the U.S. has never been represented. They take it upon themselves to correct this grievous error. In contests held on the east and west coast, one in a part-time strip club in NYC, another in the Roxy in L.A., they call out the best air guitarists the states have to offer. In the course of the U.S. contests, we meet several gifted air musicians, among them, a samurai-costumed performer and struggling actor who goes by the nom de air of "C-Diddy," and his self-proclaimed nemesis, "Bjorn Turoque" (feckin brilliant, no?), who is *certain* that his destiny lies in Finland at the world championships.

And as the filmmakers take the guitar hero's journey to Oulo, Finland, we learn that C-Diddy and Bjorn are indeed fated to meet again, two among dozens of international air apparents. Who will triumph?

In the course of the film, we meet both U.S. representatives and get a glimpse at how their families perceive their air-brained ambitions. We are introduced to former world air champions, who now teach as masters at the championship air guitar boot camp in Finland. And, we get to hear from many air guitarists their personal philosophies and approaches to their art. Much of it is damn funny, but that doesn't make it any less real, true, and sincere.

At times, there's a martial arts, ENTER THE DRAGON, feel to the scene, with moments of challenge, bravado, trash-talking, confession, recognition, and comraderie among these warriors, who each follow their own schools of airness and perform in unique styles and techniques.

Please, do yourself a great kindness and check this $hit out. It's playing two more nights at the Brattle. Grab a friend or three, musically inclined or not, sharing this experience will definitely enhance it. If you can't make it to the theater, DEFinitely put it on your Netflix list, and watch it with friends. =)
It's kinda nuts. There were two crazy instances of convergence and conjunctions of goodness in this film. First of all, In, Rowan, and I had *just* seen C-Diddy on Monday night. He showed up as Isaac's favorite bicycle courier in HEROES. We all recognized him from SOMEwhere, but In was the one who pegged it. We'd all seen the AIR GUITAR NATION trailer a couple times at the Brattle and C-Diddy's got some memorable moments in it. It's funny. Andrew (I think? Frack, I'm so bad w names) at the Brattle concession stand mentioned it, too. He hadn't been able to see NATION yet, but he thought that if C-Diddy was an actor, maybe the documentary's not so documentary after all. I hadn't thought about it like that, but hellzyeah, that would certainly suck.

Once the film got rolling, and we got to know C-Diddy, it became clear to me that, yes, he's an actor, but he's also an air guitarist, and while his thespian experience no doubt gives him a wider spectrum of flair to bring to the arena, it certainly does not make him a "plant" of any kind.

It's kinda funny, cuz once he makes it onto the international air guitar scene, he *does* actually encounter a "plant." British air guitarist "Red Plectrum" is one of those kooky experiential journalists, y'know? Someone who throws himself into a job or situation or competition to learn what it's about first hand and then report on it, typically in a very entertaining fashion, and sometimes involving quite a bit of pain.

Okay, so there was that random HEROES crossover...

The other bit of convergence involved a song chosen by Bjorn for one of his performances. It turned out to be a great tune by a local Boston band, The Bags. I'd first learned of and enjoyed their hard-rockin and smartly written music in college, thanks to my roommate Ross. His brother's band knew The Bags, and I went to see them a couple times at the Middle East. Damn funny and talented guys. One of them was (and continues to be) responsible for the ingenious bits of comedy and wisdom in THE NOISE, the Boston rock review rag—the comic strip ROCK SCHOOL. I ended up working with the esteemed C. Wood in the dot-com heydey. He was putting his talents toward animation and some interactive programming and I was lucky enough to work on several projects with him at the same company.

So, I gotta say, there were a lot of odd personal layers to sitting in one of my favorite movie theater seats, watching this crazy fun film, and listening to this song connected to multiple odd bits of my life.

Pretty nifty.

Make air, not war!

Keep on keepin on~

Saturday, April 21, 2007

HOT FUZZ: Simon & Nick on Kimmell

I don't watch JK LIVE, but just happened to click into it late Wednesday night, after watching this week's LOST, and serendipitously, was treated to Simon Pegg and Nick Frost's telling of the wondrously romantic moment they shared when they knew they were meant to be together...

I recognized it as soon as he made the sound! The squealing little service droid (I can't remember a STAR WARS geeky proper name for it) that Chewbacca scares away! Isn't that the most romantic thing you ever heard?

These guys are incredible human sfx machines. That's s—F!—x, you pervs.

Not that I'd kick them out of bed, of course...

I tried to come up with a good question for the guys before the Brattle preview, but the only thing I could think of was to ask them to perform some improv "male telepathy," just so I could hear Simon make that high-pitched reverberating dagger-to-the-greyskull sound! I ended up not asking anything, of course. I get starstruck.

* Later that day. Check out this write-up on the influence of STAR WARS on Simon Pegg's life. If you've seen his work/character on SPACED, this will come as no surprise. At the Q&A at the Brattle, he cited securing music permissions as the big issue that was holding back the US release of the two SPACED series on DVD. I'd come across a different explanation/theory from the comic book guy world. If you've seen the show, you know that the troupe explores, honors, and even directly discusses, the Holy Trilogy on many occasions (the ending of SPACED series 1 episode 6 is bloody frickin GENIUS =). Something that Lucas, or at least Lucas's legal team, is notoriously uptight about. But I hear that given the respect that Simon & co give to the movies, Lucas gave them some kind of, formal or informal (not sic'ing lawyers), license to do what they do. However, in the years between SPACED series 1 and SPACED series 2, EPISODE 1 was released...

One word.

Well, one word two times, that is...


Yeah, so, you'll find that the references to STAR WARS in series 2 are not nearly so complimentary and reverant. Jar-jar bashing figures prominently. The comic book guy conspiracy theory states that Lucasfilm has been behind the delay in a US release because of the unfavorable light in which Simon Pegg (and his SPACED comic shop assistant manager character) paints the prequel. I personally find that possibility quite reasonable, altho, given GL's appearances and implicit collusion with the likes of THE OC and THE COLBERT REPORT, perhaps he's mellowing out a bit.

The SPACED troupe *does* have an uncanny knack for choosing the coolest tunes (SHAUN and FUZZ have kickass scores), and no doubt, using them in different markets is likely to cause all kinds of difficulties, right? Well, let's just see which and how many episodes BBC America will end up playing for us here in the colonies, eh?

Keep on beepin on~


site | trailerCaught this at the Boston Fantastic Film Festival and it is some creative spam-in-a-cabin horror greatness! Check out my non-spoilery posting from the BFFF screening for more. =)

Keep on keepin on~

HOT FUZZ: movies in the movie

I very happily caught HOT FUZZ tonight with movie bud recruits Jeannie, Kim, Jeff, and Larry. It was my second screening (the first was the preview at the Brattle), and I'm pretty certain I've got at least one more in me, hopefully with another crew of HOT FUZZ virgins. I hope I wasn't too annoying to sit beside, what with me all rocking like a Quaker in anticipation of all the buddy-cop action goodness! =)

*SPOILERS!* Do not read this until you've seen and loved HOT FUZZ! What I'm gonna do here is start a list of direct references/homages/re-creations that I can recall. Please comment with any corrections or identifications you make from your own viewings.

HARD BOILED (But probably could be a dozen other movies, too—involving a character taking a bullet or blade in the chest, but surviving because a gift or talisman in the victim's pocket deflects the blow). After Nick takes down Michael ("Yarp") with his peace lily, Danny arrives on the scene. Nick tells him to stay with Michael's body and somethin-or-other while he goes off to confront the true evildoers. Just as Nick is about to rush off, Danny stops him, picks up Nick's notebook, tells him something like, "You're gonna need this," and stuffs it in his breast pocket. Later, once the diabolical "Village of the Year" conspiracy is revealed and Nick is on the run from the NWA, Danny is the one to take him down, stepping out of the shadows to deliver a dagger into his chest. Of course, it only sinks into the notebook, into which Danny had slipped a ketchup packet or two. Frickin brilliant.

In HARD BOILED, Tony Leung, as the undercover triad killer, is sic'd on Little Ko, an informant, but doesn't want to kill him. Instead he wants to use him to deliver a message to Tequila (Chow Yun Fat), so when he's beating on him at a boardwalk area by the harbor, he slides his lighter, a birthday present from his captain, into Ko's breast pocket. When boss Johnny Wong and his men arrive on the scene, Tony pulls out his gun and delivers the coup de grace, a shot to the chest that sends Ko over the rail and into the water below. The lighter in Ko's pocket saves him from a mortal wound.

John Woo's HARD BOILED and THE KILLER are likely the biggest influence for any scenes with two-gun action, and frankly, are probably the inspiration for scenes in the other cop action flick HOT FUZZ sources, a la BAD BOYS 2. Groundbreaking archetypal stuff.

CHINATOWN. Danny lets Angel out of the trunk of the car, tells Angel to get out of Sandford, and Angel says that they can go back, together, and make things right. Danny tells him no... "It's Sandford." Last line from CHINATOWN.

LETHAL WEAPON. The fisticuffs between Nicholas Angel and Skinner in the model village felt like a daylight version of the final fight in WEAPON between Mel Gibson and Gary Busey's Mr. Joshua. Even down to rain from the busted fire hydrant showering them during the fight. I don't remember the exact choreography of the WEAPON action, but the consecutive punch-catching feels like it was taken directly from *something.* DIE HARD? Can anyone verify or point me in the right direction?

HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER. I will get my Clint Eastwood "Man With No Name" westerns mixed up sometimes, but I'm pretty sure it's DRIFTER that has him as the mysterious gunfighter who trots into a frightened town, terrorized by murderous outlaws, but also a town full of people hiding a conspiracy. In the end you find out that Eastwood's drifter is there to deliver justice, as (as Danny would say) "Judge Judy and executioner."

When Nicholas Angel returns to Sandford, armed for battle, and on a white stallion, we see the townspeople stop what they're doing and take notice. Many of them are peering from within their homes or businesses, through windows. Honestly, it might fit several Eastwood westerns, but DRIFTER is what immediately came to mind. With the cuts from Angel on horseback to the conspiring NWA members recognizing him, particularly the shots thru windows, it *felt* like what I remember of DRIFTER.

The white stallion also works as a great "white knight" prop for the buddy cop man love in Danny's eyes when he sees him return to town.

BAD BOYS II seems to be everywhere once the action gets rolling. Direct quotes like "This shit just got real" are peppered throughout, and probably any shot with Danny and Nicholas side by side, sunglassed, with the camera circling them, is from a shot in BB2. I don't endorse the source, but I appreciate Wright's homages. Of course, the slo-mo shot of the two of them with the helicopter overhead is BB2 gold.

It's just plain beautiful how POINT BREAK is worked into the film. If you're *really* paying attention in a meta way, and pretty well tuned-in to what Simon, Nick, and Edgar are doing with this movie, you *know* that Danny bringing up the Keanu-firing-the-gun-in-the-air-and-yelling-Auuugh! is anything but superfluous. I think I was too caught up with the joy of the film to explicitly predict it myself (these guys are That Good, goddammit! =), when the scene plays out, it is freakin brilliant! Y'know, I'd say that if you *did* guess that they'd do it, you would've guessed it would be a scene with Nick and Danny, right? But no! It's Danny and his dad, which is just freakin PERfect!

God, I love these guys.

I want to take them behind the junior high and get them pregnant!

Y'know... metaphorically.

Cuz there's no junior high round here.

Our babies would be so nerdy.

*dreamy sigh*

Damn, I'd love for the DVD to have an option to switch views/choose another angle during direct homages in the film, so you can flip to the relevant clip from the original inspiration, or even better, a split-screen view. Or at least have a subtitle track that identifies the sources and inspirations for scenes in writing on screen.

Frack. My nonsomnia is so freakin annoying. Time for me to go have a lie-down.

Keep on keepin on~

Friday, April 20, 2007

my HOT FUZZy roundup

Padding my blog with an excerpt from the email I sent out this week to round up a HOT FUZZ posse, written to cajole as well as educate those unfamiliar with the talents of Simon Pegg & co. Feel free to lift and re-use for your own round-up purposes. =)
Anyone free tomorrow night for some HOT FUZZ at the Boston Common at 7.45? I've seen it once already, but with these guys—the SPACED and SHAUN OF THE DEAD crew—it's all good over and over again. And don't let their zombie-rich c.v. frighten you off. These guys know what they love and love what they know. They chose zombies for SHAUN, true, but this time around, HOT FUZZ is all about the buddy cop action movie, the best and the cheeziest, all represented in a really quite charming, smartly written, wonderfully acted, gorgeously choreographed, tongue-in-cheek homage to cops-n-robbers films. With heart =)

The HOT FUZZ trailer...

From SPACED...

Keep on keepin on~

* Later on. A friend replied to me on the fence about being able to make it to see this "semi-silly movie," and I replied...
Semi-silly. Half-silly? Well, that's fair, I guess, so long as the other five halves are kickass action, brilliant comedy, buddy-cop drama, fish-out-of-water cop drama, and supercop drama. And okay, maybe one more half Agatha Christie.

I mean, this movie loves cop-action flicks from THE FRENCH CONNECTION to DIRTY HARRY to BAD BOYS 2.

Good stuff, I tell you what. =)

"The Landlord"

Will Ferrell vs. 2-year old. All the viral rage, dude. Check it out! =)
Thanks to Zorknapp for the potty-mouthed goodness and Wired for the backstory.

* Later that day. People quotes Pearl's real-life father and "Landlord" collaborator...
"Fortunately she is in this great stage now where she repeats anything you say to her and then forgets it right away, which is key," says McKay, who has two daughters by his wife of 11 years, actress Shira Piven (Jeremy's sister).

Adds McKay, "She has not said the B-word since we shot the thing."

Heh. The article closes with an "interview" with rising star Pearl herself. =)

Keep on keepin on~

Thursday, April 19, 2007

SPACED on BBC America!

Check it out! Set your DVRs accordingly!
If you're not sure why... Don't be an idiot!

Keep on keepin on~

LOST: not quite final destination

*SPOILERy* commentary recorded roughly live as I watched tonight's episode on DVR.

A new Desmond-Charlie FINAL DESTINATION episode! Whee!

Ha! Fun (if-tired) Superman vs. Flash in a footrace debate between Hurley and Charlie. In the most recent Flash continuity, either Barry Allen or Wally West could beat Superman. And I wonder if he'd actually need to keep his feet on the ground to do it. He could just tap into the Speed Force and propel himself, couldn't he?

Hey, views of Desmond's flashback. Did you see that blinking light in the sky? Plane? Helicopter? Has it been a week yet since Juliette left Smurf Village?

Hey, whaddyaknow? Desmond's a monk? As in "Brother Desmond." Did he ever say "brother" before this? Heh, pretty fun origin of his "brother" habit.
Desmond: Taped my share of ankles...

Jack: Right.

Isn't this the first time Jack's acknowledged their previous encounter, running stadiums in Los Angeles?

Hey, check out the credits! Co-written by Brian K. Vaughn! No wonder we got some Flash v. Superman action in the dialogue! He's the kickass brilliant writer of EX MACHINA, Y THE LAST MAN, and PRIDE OF BAGHDAD. He makes stuff work. Hrmmm... What to expect when he gets to write a Desmond story?

So, we see flashes of what's to come. Charlie gets arrowed, but Desmond sees another copy of the photo of himself with Penny. So, he wants to be reunited with Penny more than he wants to save Charlie, "more than anything." Copies of that photo bug me. Did they each walk away with a print from that street vendor with the pull-down scenic backdrops?

Meanwhile, Sawyer turns on the charm...
Sawyer: How about some afternoon delight? You need me to make you a mix tape?

Aww... Kate's not having it. Damn. Why can't they just belong together? Sheesh.

Jin is a pece of Desmond's puzzle...
Desmond: I have no bloody idea how I'm going to convince him to come with us.

Hurley: Watch the master.

Heh. Hugo's got the touch. He just asks, in that way he asks.

Whistling while they walk down the beach... DIRTY DOZEN! Is that right? Such a great Guy scene.

* The next day. Nope, not DIRTY DOZEN. It's from BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI! My oops.

Moriah Vineyards wines at the monastery. Desmond points out that the vineyard is named after the mountain where Abraham was asked to kill his son Isaac. Not the happiest place on Earth. Then his Brother puts the situation in a different perspective, calling it a test, and a challenge, a sacrifice. Theme of the show, anyone?

Kate is not happy about Jack taking her spoon over to Juliet... ummm... literally, and hey, whaddyaknow? She finds herself at Sawyer's tent...
Sawyer: What? My doorbell busted again?

Kate: Shut up and don't talk.

Sawyer: You crying?

Kate: I said, shut up.

Sawyer: You got it.

Meanwhile, Jin tells a campfire story about a guy with no hand! In Korean, with great storytelling gusto. Awesome and frickin fun! =)

Desmond left Ruth at the altar... well, practically. So, he was a relationship coward at least once before. Days before his wedding, Desmond asks God about his marriage, and how does God respond? Bestows upon Des a blackout—ostensibly alcohol-fueled, but Des doesn't explicitly say so—has him regain consciousness on the street somewhere, and the first person he sees is a monk, in a robe belted with a rope, asking him if he needs any help. Hello? Anyone catch that? A blackout, followed by a momentous life change/decision... Another time slip. Anyone?

Back in "real time..." Man! Another brilliant line from Sawyer!
Sawyer: You two arguing over who's your favorite Other?

Which leads into... ping-pong! Between Brandon and Dylan! And more excellent Sawyer snaps...
Sawyer: If we dont' play for 108 minutes, this island's gonna explode!

Sad. Sawyer's people-sharp enough to understand what happened last night that led Kate to his tent...

In the pack belonging to the helicopter pilot or passenger. A copy of ARDIL-22 aka CATCH-22. How likely is it that Penny's gonna be reading a non-English version of this book? And the book as a reference? Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Sounds like the whole frickin island and series, don't it? In particular, tho, this episode, it's about Desmond knowing the future and right now, saving Charlie, no?

Poor Sawyer...
Sawyer: You ain't gotta use me, Freckles. All you gotta do is ask.

It's really sad, this back and forth with him. Playing the stoic modern it's-just-sex guy, then the (clunky... really clunky) romantic, then back to the stoic booty call. What the heck *would* Kate have said on the boat back from Hydra Island? Y'know, before Sawyer cut her off with his "I know it was a deathrow/pity booty call, no big whup, let's go back to snippin at each other" speech.

Ha! That's the first time I've thought or spelled out the name like that—Hydra Island. That's so bad guys' headquarteres from NICK FURY: AGENT OF S.H.I.E.L.D. =)

Monk wine—bottled 108 cases this year.
Desmond: What am I supposed to do now?

Brother: Whatever comes next.

Brother knows the Oracle! The photo on his desk shows them side-by-side, probably in a church or the monastery. Is there a third person on the Monk's other side, cropped by the shot? Maybe she told the brother to look for the unconscious Desmond after he bails on Ruth, eh? That blackout is definitely more than a blackout.

He gets booted from the monastery. This is when he meets Penny! Fate. "Whatever comes next." Pops Widmore doesn't like him, but some Dharma-related force seems to be maneuvering them into meeting, falling for, splitting from, and then losing and finding each other... A background or failsafe program...? Or just a fateful loop in time that has to be played out and closed.

I couldn't believe that it would be Penny w the parachute, but I was *hoping* it would be someone we'd seen before, maybe not a woman at all, but that Indian physicist friend of his with whom he discusses time travel, y'know? It's an all-new someone. Someone that Desmond doesn't know, but who knows Desmond, no doubt from Penny's detailed dossier. As Desmond reminds us...
Desmond: With enough money and determination, you can find anyone, she said...

Well, looks like outside forces can still bust *in* to the island's dimension. This is good. Now... how to bust out?

Keep on keepin on~

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

ARMY OF SHADOWS: a French resistance how-to

site | trailer | Brattle
I hit the Brattle for the Saturday afternoon show of ARMY OF SHADOWS. A hell of a study in contrast as opening act for GRINDHOUSE later that night.

It's directed by Jean-Pierre Melville, who I realize I'm a three-time fan of now, having seen and enjoyed BOB LE FLAMBEUR and LE SAMOURI on previous Brattle visits. All three films are grand experiences of stylish, precise, suspenseful, and somehow, almost documentary cinematic excellence. "Documentary..." I'm sure there's a better cinephile "-ism" term for what I'm trying to describe. Please excuse my hack-titude.

SHADOWS follows the life of French resistance leader Phillipe Gerbier, during the time of the German occupation in World War II. He leads by example, giving his life and work over to the cause, conducting his life according to rules that have kept him, his friends, and his network alive under the oppression of the Nazi regime.

I can't do it justice. See it if you get a chance during its run at the Brattle. Here's the copy from the Brattle blurb, with links to reviews...
Army Of Shadows at 2:00, 7:00
(1969) dir Jean-Pierre Meville w/Lino Ventura, Paul Meurisse, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Simone Signoret [145 min]

As something of a sequel to our "Perspectives on WWII" series, we present a return engagement of one of the most widely lauded foreign films of 2006 - the only surprise being that it was made almost 40 years ago! Jean-Pierre Melville was France's undisputed master of neo-noir, with such classics as Le Samourai, Bob Le Flambeur and Les Dolous under his belt. In ARMY OF SHADOWS, he applies his formidable talent for thrills - and personal experience - to a neo-realist account of French Resistance fighters during WWII.

On over 25 critics' "Top Ten Films of 2006" lists, ARMY OF SHADOWS follows the exploits of a resistance cell in Marseilles during the Nazi occupation of France. The cell is led by stoic Phillipe (Ventura) and consists of a motley assortment of patriots who carry out their small but essential missions under the noses of the occupying force. Eschewing the action pyrotechnics of Hollywood's 60s films on the war (see THE DIRTY DOZEN), ARMY OF SHADOWS is a quiet, realistic account of men and women thrust into dramatic roles by extraordinary circumstances.

"4 Stars!" Ty Burr, The Boston Globe

"A cause for celebration!", James Verniere, Boston Herald
"4 Stars!" Ty Burr, The Boston Globe
"A rare work of art that thrills the senses and the mind… Worthy of that overused superlative MASTERPIECE!", Manohla Dargis, New York Times

Reviews / Articles
Boston Globe Review (6/16/06)
Boston Herald Review (6/16/06)
New York Times Review (4/28/06)

Keep on keepin on~

Sunday, April 15, 2007

GRINDHOUSE: you've gotta see it!

site | trailer
*I caught GH tonight with Jacky, Yuko, In, and her friend Jen and it was a hilarious, thrilling, and damn satisfying three hours and change. However, this post is *not* about the GRINDHOUSE experience... I'll get something more review and rave-like up in a while.

Do you like 120 mile-an-hour action? Do you like edge-of-your-seat thrills? Do you like home videos entitled "football to the groin?" Do you like go-go dancers? Do you like a good zombie movie? Do you like a good chick flick? Do you like Bruce Willis, Kurt Russell, and Michael Biehn doing that thing they do? Did you enjoy DESPERADO, FROM DUSK TIL DAWN, RESERVOIR DOGS, or the KILL BILLs?

Good God, people—do you love America?!!

If the answer to any of the above is "yes," you MUST NOT MISS GRINDHOUSE on the big screen! And see it soon, as I've been hearing things... reading things...

Apparently, Dimension films is very disappointed with the opening weekend numbers for GRINDHOUSE. Poor/confusing marketing and a long running time (3 hours 12 minutes) are being blamed. I gotta wonder if Easter weekend/holy week might have been a factor in more than one market. Maybe if they'd thrown in an ass-kicking Easter bunny (or even a non-denominational Peter Rabbit), numbers might have benefited from a tie-in bump.

The front-running Weinstein solution to the box office problem seems to be... Cut it into two movies and redistribute. I've seen snippets that talk about doing this just in Europe, or waiting a while and doing it in the states, and then some that say it will only happen on DVD in the U.S. Given the idea behind the films and the collaboration in the first place, re-creating the so-called "Grindhouse" experience for 21st century moviegoers, it's just plain wrong.

I have *not* seen or heard anything in the way of reaction from the directors.

I know that it would probably meet with some kind of resistance from theater owners/managers, but couldn't they split up the movies (and the fake trailers) but still *play* them as a double bill? That is, ship the films together to theaters and have them play them separately, but always one after the other, and ideally, if someone buys a ticket for either one, they can sit thru both shows, or leave after one. But, y'know, your ticket is only good for one or two movies at the time you puchase it.

I'm sure that would cause problems with ticket/headcounts for each show and available seating on weekend nights, so maybe the policy is different then. A single-feature ticket could be regular admission and a double-feature ticket could be 1.5x, and would be recorded as such. I guess you'd hafta have tickets checked between features, just to keep the cheats from holding seats that could be sold for the next show.

Yeah, it could be tricky. Y'know, assuming that the marketing was well-done and the movie drew the sell-out crowds that it should!

Hey, keep your eyes on the Brattle schedule—they're gonna be running a Grindhouse series on weekends in May!

Keep on keepin on~

Friday, April 13, 2007

"The world got a little less interesting..."

That's how Jon Stewart put it this week at the end of THE DAILY SHOW, and followed with a "Moment of Zen" clip from an interview with Mr. Vonnegut on the show during "Evolution, Schmevolution." One of the best, sharpest, and most eccentric guests I can recall...
A cleaner video is available at Comedy Central and the interview in quicktime, along with Mr. Vonnegut's list of "Liberal Crap I Never Want To Hear Again," are available at, too.

Keep on keepin on~

TRON: alive and well

Caught this commercial for the Honda Civic recently, which simultaneously annoyed me and knocked my socks off. Just watch it and you'll get why...

Sock-knocking because it's pretty damn faithful to the look and feel of the original film, with some fair upgrades. Just a little annoying because there was no conflict, y'know? No tank programs. No recognizers. No Sark. No MCP. No red drivers. No bad guys smashed into light walls. Still, it's pretty damn fun. The shot of the two engineering programs in the booth is framed just perfectly.

Question: Will this move cars? I guess the marketing wizards must have done their homework, and if that's the case, you *know* who they're targetting. Frickin nerds. =)

In my search for the commercial on youTube, I came across some crazy Kingdom Hearts (the Disney-SquareSoft crossover game epic) video capture-and-edits featuring the game's TRON crossover episode, in which the player and characters apparently have to save the in-game internet from the MCP by surviving the games and teaming up with Tron. They even get digitized from the real world the way Flynn does in the original. Here's a pretty decent tribute-edit.

And then, of course, there's the very impressive and hilarious FAMILY GUY TRON riff...

Can anyone decipher the messages etched into the game walls? The first shot has "THIS IS YOUR TV" in upside-down in Tron-ese. See it? It looks like it repeats in following shots, but with more words in between as well. I've not taken the time to parse out other messages. Let me know if you can.

Keep on keepin on~

Thursday, April 12, 2007

robot sends me email

Got this hunk o' spam in my mailbox today and it reminded me of an exchange from the FUTURAMA pilot, when Fry tells Bender that he'd like to be friends...
Bender: You really want a robot for a friend?

Fry: Yeah, ever since I was six!

Bender: Well, all right. But I don't want anyone to think we're robosexual or anything, so if anyone asks, you're my debugger.
Alas, my robotic pen pal, while apparently concerned about me, is not really all that friendly, or possessed of much in the way of personality...

Although, giving me the password "gyp67" might be a sign of a decent sense of humor, eh?

Keep on beepin on~

T: war on Err-or

A homeland security/MBTA booster ad, updated, post-131. Snapped on the red line on March 21...Zoomed in a bit...

Keep on keepin on, as hard as you can~

p.s. The Colon Movie For Theaters opens this week! =)

LOST: the secret life of Juliet

Finally! Someone (Sahid) asks some real questions!

D'oh! Then gets sidetracked with "Who are you?" Frack. At least it leads into a Juliet flashback episode, with more appearances by Calamity Jane as sister Rachel! Oh, I wish they'd let her get drunk and cuss up a storm!

Some fun portentious dialogue...
Rachel: promise me you'll bring her back in one piece.

Dr. Albert: we'll do our best.
How often does "Downtown" get played on this show? Is it all the same time/broadcast when we catch it in flashbacks? Am I falsely imagining it playing in non-Juliet flashbacks? Stupid brain.
Juliet: If I told you who I was, told you everything that I know, you'd kill me...
Have we heard that spoken by other Others? Or other characters in flashback? It's a pretty good dodge.
Jack: She's under my protection.
That's a little corny, but also realistic. I'll buy it. Demonstrates how easily one's lingo can slip right into over-the-top/movie cliches when thrown into wacked situations. "Under my protection." When ever in Jack's life has he had reason to utter such a phrase until now, hrm? Don't tell me that doesn't come from watching TV and movies.

Sweet! A commercial for KY Intrigue, the longest lasting personal lubricant... On the island, it's called Dharma Jelly.

More cheeky Other dialogue...
Dr. Albert (is his first name Richard?): You're gonna be amazed at how time flies when you're there...
Name of the private airline—Herarat Aviation? I first thought of Ararat, as in Mount Ararat, the supposed beaching site of Noah's Ark. Maybe it's an alternate, otherlingual form of the proper name. However, a quick google of the name and all I can pick up is that it may be Armenian for "hairy?" Perhaps also a proper name, tho, eh? I mean, ummm... Hairy Aviation?

Ah, the return of Dr. Jack. Poor mayor Sawyer... He was doing such a bang-up job. Maybe even starting to enjoy it! Nuts. I can't remember, did Sawyer's ex get to tell or otherwise pass along to Kate name of the man who done her wrong? Kate is calling Sawyer "James" now. Or maybe it's only when she's irritated with him?

Sawyer, always cutting to the chase...
Sawyer: What the hell is she doing here?
Hurley as the welcome wagon (Sawyer counts him twice)...
Hurley: so, you're like one of them, huh?... ... Last one of you guys that came over here, Ethan, he kidnapped claire, and charlie got upset. We buried him over there.
Not only can they not have children, but the mothers die? What does this mean for Claire?

A-ha! The book club selection *is* CARRIE!
Ben: I dont know why you picked it, but boy, is it depressing!
Juliet and Goodwin are knockin boots? Well, at least it's not Ethan. Given this hook-up, it's too bad we never got to see Juliet in a scene with Ana Lucia, eh? I thought the news in the envelope was gonna reveal that she was now pregnant (and so, might in "present day" LOST still be pregnant), but alas, apparently not. How does Juliet get to have x-ray film of Ben's back developed in the first place...?
Juliet: If you can cure cancer, Ben, then why do you have it?

Ben: I don't know.
Ben still won't let her go home. Is it because he CAN'T right then? No, his people can still come and go, as we later see him communicating with Richard in Miami and telling him to return to the island soon, as they have guests.

I dig how Juliet dresses Sawyer and Sahid down when they confront her with the case of meds...
Juliet: you know what's interesting? that you two are now this camp's moral police... ... and the last thing that either of you need right now is more blood on your hands.
Pretty ballzy for a mild-mannered research scientist, eh? When the heck did she develop her superspy/psyops skills? Other Village Secret Police Academy?

The visit with Mikhail at the communications station is kind of interesting. They definitely have, and are in touch with, agents "on the outside" in a regular way. Those agents (and investors and such) must be a bit alarmed about the loss of contact with the island, especially with it coinciding with a crazy EM spike. What do you suppose they're up to?

"Richard in Acadia Park." The front page of a Miami newspaper dated September 22, 2004. The day of the crash.

Rachel's baby's name is Julian. So, this Jacob *can* cure cancer. Could it be Jack's dad? Could "Jacob" be an acronym or nickname for Ben's magic box?
Ben: Then we'll find more mothers. Who knows? Maybe there's even one on that plane...
Maybe the plane was like a delivery from Amazon, when you choose to group all items in as few shipments as possible, and each of the survivors of 815 are on Ben's and the Others' wishlists, for whatever reasons, whether they know it or not, y'know? Ben got at least three items from his wishlist: Dr. Jack, a spinal surgeon to keep him alive, Claire, his half-sister, a pregnant woman, vital to Juliet's research, and John, who may be the key to unlocking a secret of the island.

Man. Locke's dad. That is wack.

And here's that conversation between the class president and the nerdy outsider girl he chose over the homecoming queen...
Juliet: You keep talking about them. Why don't i ever have to explain myself to you?

Jack: You were there. You were standing right next to me when that submarine exploded. I saw it in your eyes. You wanted to get off this island more than anything else in the world. That makes you one of us.
So, Juliet's running one of Ben's games on the survivors... There's an implant in Claire. Does that mean she would never have gotten sick? Or is the implant what's kept her healthy so far, and it's just lucky for the Others that it can be modified remotely to allow the symptoms to manifest on cue? Pretty good con. Can Kate or Sawyer sense it?
Ben: See you in a week.
So, how long has she been playing a part? Wanting to let Ben die on the table? Was her trial a sham? Being marked/branded as punishment? I don't want that to be the case, but if she was truly ready to kill Ben, found guilty by her peers, then freed by Ben, permitted to leave the island on the sub, and Rachel and Julian are safe and healthy, what does Ben have on her to keep her under his power?

Could she be a double agent of some kind? Wouldn't an organization like Dharma be considered a threat by first world countries in the know? Or perhaps by a rival, or splinter, organization? If one knew that Dharma's island population could not successfully procreate, wouldn't a rival org keep an eye on fertility specialists and researchers, anticipating that they'd be approached and recruited by Dharma? And wouldn't it be a smart move to enlist and if possible, clandestinely train, one of these researchers as a covert undercover operative?

Eh, knot tying not a great ending shot, especially after that odd look of recognition on her face as she looks off into the distance...

Keep on keepin on~

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Music to power up by: Koji Kondo

Click here: Nintendo composer Koji Kondo on the piano plays theme music from Mario Bros. =)

Click here: An orchestra performance of Koji Kondo's music from Mario Bros and Legend of Zelda, finishing with Kondo's performance of music from New Super Mario Bros.

An article at Wired sent me looking for this stuff. Gave me some flashbacks to other Mario goodness on screen, and off as well. =)

Keep on keepin on~

heard of "lock bumping?"

Frickin frackin sazzafrazzin...

Was our junkie visitor a bumper?

Thanks to Rowan for frickin frackin link.

* April 19, 2007. Found a link to a more technical visual aid explaining the mechanics of it. Frickin frackin sazzafrazzin....

Keep on keepin on~

300: 3x

Ayep. Three times. Once opening day with Joe, Dan, and Rowan. Then once with Glen, after a tournament. And then again with Dan and Ray. Three times I screened it, and yet I never got around to singing the praises of this fantastic adrenaline pumped cinematic experience. But then, this movie doesn't really need a booster club, eh? Especially since it's got enough buzz and acclaim and press and controversy on its own. What's to tell, right? Well, let me dig in and come up with a *SPOILERy* thing or three...

It's gorgeous. In working so faithfully and diligently to be true to the mood and vision of the graphic novel, the filmmakers create some amazing big-screen imagery. Although there are some really harsh moments of violence, including acts of decapitation and dismemberment... Ummm... Maybe I didn't need the word "Although" at the beginning of that sentence, cuz frankly, it's freakin awesome! =)

Heh. It *is* bloody, but in a very cool and stylized way. It's not as abstract as the KILL BILL artery pumping, but made less real with the addition of chunkiness and weight to it. As if the blood is... dirty, somehow. You've just got to see it. I wonder what the spray-explosion from a bullet wound would look like in 300's visual world.

The film works the fourth dimension in a really masterful way as well. Totally love the dialing up and down of speed in the action sequences, whether focused on battling soldiers, rampaging beasts, or writhing oracle. It's super stylin' and allows certain kinetic moments that would otherwise read as a blur to sustain as a sculpture or painting. I don't know that it works page-for-page, but if you compare the film to the original graphic novel, I'll bet more than a dozen slow-motion scenes coincide with the iconic splash page artwork of Frank Miller.

It's not just about capturing or stretching a moment, tho. The variation in speed is applied to the action the way tempo is to a score, or instrument, adding a rhythm to the motion on screen. A unique crunchy sound effect is attached to the quick speed changes. I wonder if it comes from a real world recording of a steenbeck or some other mechanical editing/recording/playback device. It's a sound that really does feel perfect for what you see on screen during the moments of acceleration.

The stylized speed control is also pretty damn remarkable in the places where it's *not* used. There's only one scene, really, that I picked it out, and you can be sure it's no mistake. It's when Leonidas's loyal friend (and better captain) cracks up after seeing his son decapitated by one of the enemy. Enraged, desperate with sadness and anger, he breaks free of the soldiers holding him back, and further, breaks formation, to leap into the fray and hack, slash, and batter his way through the oncoming enemy to reach the body of his fallen son. His berserker rage unfolds on screen in real time, without any enhancement.

I appreciate that.

Is it political? It's like the Dark Side tree on Dagobah. You'll only encounter what you take in with you, y'know? I think it's a great canvas on which people can paint their perspectives, with its portrayal of good versus evil, few against many, true believers against fools, it's wide open for all kinds of interpretation and projection. Of course, who is good and not-so-good is in the eye of the beholder.

And watch that eye, lest it be poked out by an errant engorged teat! If there's one thing you'll learn and remember forever from this film, it's this: a Spartan nipple is an erect nipple.

Also, some guys in the audience can't help but giggle at the sight of a man's buttocks in the moonlight. I swear, each and every show I caught, there were some supposedly adult males who were reduced to dopey boys at the sight. A natural reaction? It sounds/seems somehow nervous to me.

Story and character-wise, Rowan thought it was a weakness to have the Spartans be so... *ultimately* Spartan. He's not wrong, and frankly I agree that if there could've been even one sort of "time-out" moment with one or a few of the Spartans when they admit to fighting for the simple joys and treasures that make up a life, instead of declaring their devotion to glory above all, it would have added nobility, conscience, and depth to the Spartan way as portrayed in the film... I don't think it hurt the film, as if something was missing, it's just that the addition of such an exchange could have improved it. A frank discussion or aside between one of the premier Spartans and the Acadians would have done it. They could find some common ground in talking about family, or crops, or the seasons, or whatever, y'know?

I sometimes leave a movie wanting to believe something that's sort of a longshot. With 300, I want to believe that the queen *knew* jerkass diplomat was a traitor, on the Persian payroll. I would've loved to have been given a clue, a knowing remark in her address, some little sign, that her attack with the sword was meant specifically to pierce his change purse. Umm... literally, y'know? That she luckily slashes his moneybags while apparently skewering him, prompted in a moment of passion to assassinate a Spartan senator (or whatever he was), seems weaker than her being in control of the situation the whole time, letting him play his seditious cards in the senate, to perhaps confirm his treasonous nature, and then unmask him before the assembly.

Did it not sound like the senators were exclaiming, "Treasure!" as they picked up the Persian coinage? Heh.

Another film Want of mine. I would have loved to have seen fallout from/reaction to Leonidas's spear strike at Xerxes. He makes good on his word when he reveals to everyone that even a so-called god can bleed, and that should have had a profound effect on his followers, no? And perhaps even Xerxes, his believing-his-own-hype self.

Was a bit annoyed with the treatment of Xerxes's voice. With that voice with his shiny and bejeweled appearance, Xerxes came off as STARGATE's evil Ga'ould alien, Ra, pumped up on steroids.

Totally love how the film tweaks things so that we get to see the Spartans face off against primitive grenade-chucking adversaries, and ultimately, shielding themselves against a starry nova-like detonation of their stockpile. Frickin beautiful. =)

Dan picked up on this as well, but wanted *more.* In the voiceover of a montage of enemies sent as fodder against the 300, the Spartan storyteller lists the nature of the various forces set against them by the Persians, and "mystics" are counted among them. This seems to refer to the grenade chuckers, but introducing more mystical mystics could've added to the crazy coolness.

Enjoyed the amusement of seeing Faramir shocked to see his old enemies, the Orcs, hiding behind the masks of the Persians' ruthless Immortals. Heh.

Do *not* wait for this on DVD. This is a movie that should be appreciated in a larger-than-life format. You do not want to miss these—as Jon Stewart put it—"300 Spartans... and 1800 abs..." =)

Keep on keepin on~

p.s. For reference, and as a measure of need-to-get-a-life-ness, perhaps, in recent months, I've seen THE HOST and 300 three times each, and LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA and HARD BOILED twice each.


I gotta tell you, I am just LOVing the 21st century zombie renaissance! =)

Keep on creepin on~