Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Frickin Holidaze =)

Merry merry! Why you buggin'?

Is it because you can't wait to open up your hand-crafted one-of-a-kind original holiday whatzits from yours truly? Well, bug no more, for here it be, fresh out of the oven, even!

It's been a rough year for Santa. His trusted lieutenant, Frosty, went bad and used an elfin labor dispute to launch a coup in management. The Board voted Santa out and installed Frosty in his place. The Snowman then turned around and sold his new majority shares in the Workshop to the Syndicate for a song, and... Well, let's just say it's bad.

And weird.

I mean, the guy's a frickin SNOWman!

No belly button!


On the Syndicate's orders, Frosty has retooled the workshop into a sweatshop, designed to produce the cheapest holiday gift product possible, and chucking the naughty/nice quality control protocol. They're looking to make a huge one-time windfall at Xmas, liquidate the operation, and move on. Santa's Workshop quality, brand, and rep be damned.

Santa has been putting together a crew to get his Workshop back! He's just managed to get Frosty out of the way (a story for another time) but still has to do something about the Snowman's soldiers, the Frosteroids. These are mindless servants of Frosty's, snowman body parts that once served as Frosty's own, now animated by remnants of his magic and echoes of his will. They're almost as formidable as Frosty himself and also imbued with the power to freeze their enemies with a touch. Ideal enforcers, they keep the elves working day and night.

It's these icy blue balls that Santa and Rudolph must crush, and they need your help to do it!

So, CLICK TO PLAY and blast the Frosteroids!

Some notes on interaction and game play...

1. There are musicks and sound effects, so be ready to adjust your speakers/headphones as needed.

2. Click the screen to advance from the intro to the help screen and then into the game.

3. When Santa and Rudolph spawn and respawn, they are "ghosts" for a few seconds. This will give you time to quickly fix/dodge deadly predicaments.

4. When a Frosteroid hits Santa and Rudolph, they are turned to ice and can no longer respond to your directions. All you can do is wait for them to be crushed out of their misery. Don't despair, tho. Thanks to Boss Claus's abilities, they will respawn in a few seconds.

Good luck and enjoy! =)

Keep on keepin on~

Friday, November 11, 2011

BTIEH: Eno, Stipe, Colbert "Lean On Me"

Keep on leanin on~

Thursday, November 03, 2011

On Superman flying around the Earth in the 1978 film...

He does not spin the Earth in reverse by somehow dragging it in his wake. He is flying faster than light (at least, that's how I interpreted it - okay, more "reality/physics" problems for some people, but not for me), and thusly, traveling backward in time.

He does it in orbit so that cinematically, we can see that the earth begins retracing its motion, demonstrating the reversal of time, while he's accelerating (and yeah, we can still see him). Practically, I'd say he's in orbit so that he has room to accelerate without damaging anything/anyone on the surface while building up speed.

I can't remember if I read that Donner originally wanted this, or if my comic booky brain (anyone remember the first appearance of Nimrod in the X-MEN? =) wanted to believe this, but in my head, ripples of energy from his mucking w time should have/were meant to end up releasing Zod and co from the Phantom Zone instead of that Eiffel Tower bomb. The consequences that the Jor-El engrams or program or whatever warns him of.

Kinda crazy that he goes back far enough to save Lois from drowning in the aftermath of the missile detonation, but NOT far enough to prevent the detonation itself...

Keep on keepin on~

BTIES: TRON (Sweded)

Tron by freres-hueon
Keep on beepin on~

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

AVENGERS ASSEMBLE! ... in May 2012 *sigh*

CHECK IT OUT! (at Apple trailers, or the following YouTube upload, for as long as it lasts =)

We've got Loki lording it up over the humans in voice over - "You were *made* to be ruled." Is seems to continue on with - "In the end it will be every man for himself?..." But that doesn't sound very Loki to me, unless he's seeking to coerce someone to join forces, persuading him that his friends/teammates will turn on him. I'll hafta give it another listen. Maybe it's Doc Skarsgard?

Man, they should've just used his actual name for his character. =)

We've got some decent metropolitan destruction: a major downtown avenue devastated by subterranean fireballs (gas mains?) and some death from above in the form of blue-violet energy bolts. The way it's cut, Loki's the one doing the zapping, but I'm not sure. Blasts could be some kind of science-ness, could be mystical.

We've got clashing Avengers personalities - happily looking forward to Whedon writing everyone's faces off. =)

We've got clashing Avengers - Thor takes his hammer to Cap's shield in some forest or perhaps the incinerated remnants of a town, fortress, or factory (?).

Gotta say, I'm not in love w Stark's apparent coining/explanation of the team name. It gives us good perspective and scale as far as the menace being Earth-shattering (true to the original creation of the Avengers), but the team was already named by SHIELD in the first Iron Man movie: The Avengers Initiative. Maybe Stark's just getting around to owning the name in an oath, tho. Still kinda weak, but I can live with that.

The movies so far have been planting some very specific seeds, I think, and did a great ret-con job of intertwining Cap's (his)story with Thor's via turning the Cosmic Cube into a repository of some kind of primordial Asgardian mojo, no? I'm not remembering the mojo being considered reality-altering/controlling, but maybe that's an untapped aspect? Anyhow, like I said before, I'm seeing a Loki + Red Skull team-up. Loki's walking around in Doc Skarsgard's bod, now with access to the Cube, courtesy of SHIELD itself. And hey, remember, the Skull was the last one to hold the thing, right? I still like the Cube as an unplanned (or maybe planned - it is the Red Skull, after all) escape pod for the Skull's psyche. It's a stretch, but maybe there are or will be two Big Bads riding shotgun in Skarsgard's noggin, eh (and Skarsgard didn't actually survive the events of Thor's film?)? Would be an interesting way for Loki to encounter and negotiate w the Skull - sorta-astrally.

Not sure if there's room for Zola to return, but a disembodied brainiac with access to the internet? It wouldn't be hard to work him in. Also, he could bring a near-instant potentially-cube-powered army. I wonder if he might rise as a rival to Stark Industries (or is it International? or something else in the filmes?) ?

And once his body is recovered/reconstituted from the limbo between Asgard and Midgard, Loki could jump back into his body, leaving Skarsgard to become the 21st century Skull!

And man, even tho it would be kinda hard (but then again, kinda not) to shoehorn it in given the events of Cap's film, I would love it if that Thor vs. Cap thing was something from the 40s where Thor was called down by Skull's nordic magick tinkering... Or maybe he brashly rainbows into Europe mistakenly believing he was protecting his nordic worshippers from an invader (Invaders! =). Of course, Cap would be ready to talk after trading/taking a few hits, letting his guard down and surprising Thor, at which point Skull or Zemo or some other Nazi stooge would take an unsporting shot at the Captain, riling Thor's sense of honorable combat and cluing him in as who the Good Guys truly are...

Thor's movie had something about how the Norse gods decided to leave the Earth to humankind way back when, tho, so he *shouldn't* have been messing around in WW2...

But then, he *is* Thor...

And hey! How F-in A is this little snapshot?

Keep on geekin on~

Monday, September 05, 2011

BTIES: Tarantino vs. Coen Brothers

Thanks to Roger Ebert for passing this on, and L. Copperfield for the choice creative editing.

Totally has me itching to re-watch all these films. =)

Keep on keepin on~

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


trailer | website

A sweet, somewhat predictable story about beautiful delusions, relationships, superheroics, and superscience. So, of course I enjoyed it! =)

The predictable factor (at least that's how it was for a nerdy type like myself) is countered by the performances of Ryan "Jason Stackhouse" Kwanten as the mild-mannered Griff and superpowered vigilante, and the lovely Maeve Dermody as the potential romantic sidekick, Melody.

Okay, maybe I crushed on her and her character instantly, and hard, as soon as she banged her head for the first time. =)

It's great seeing Kwanten do something other than Jason. I've always thought that he deserved some serious recognition for his role on TRUE BLOOD. I mean, he is just SO good at making the improbable Jason real and naively consistent. Not that Griff is a particularly challenging part, but it's a nice change.

Especially the change of accent. Crizazy. Made me snicker when another character in GRIFF talks to him about how an accent can change a person's identity.

Synopsis. Griff leads two lives. One life, as Griff the customer service rep, working the phone in a cubicle. The other life, as Griff The Invisible, a defender of justice and powerful protector of the innocent, dispatching villainous thugs with a costumed fist to the face and boot to the bum. Or does he? His brother Tim moved back to town to help him out once his "episodes" got out of hand. Griff, you see, BELIEVES he's The Invisible, but what everyone else knows is that he is running around in a superhero costume prompting complaints to the police of a weird stalker in the neighborhood. The question is: is that so wrong? When Melody, Tim's new girlfriend and self-styled Experimentalist researcher meets him, her answer turns out to be: nope.

*** SPOILERS *** follow... Reflections on moments that I dig and such...

I love the Oscar Wilde quote that begins the film...
Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.

It was not familiar to me, and I couldn't remember ever reading or hearing it in the context of comic book superheroes, but surely it must have been, right? It's just so perfect.

I love how Melody almost instantly knowingly buys into Griff's superheroics, plugging her experimentalist science into his superpowered reality. She immediately recognizes that he's trying to create an invisibility suit and then applies her own science to improve upon it.

There's some sadness in the idea that Melody's differentness is somehow "above" Griff's, that she can see and understand his reality from her reality, AND know how to tweak her behavior to fit into his reality, playing along, in other words, when from Griff's point of view, he is not playing, but living.

Griff challenges her motivation once he's snapped out of it (when he overhears Melody's conversation w his brother Tim about how she could never invite him to dinner with her parents because he's just as much of a freak as she is) - something like "Was I just a monkey to you?" That IS how it looks from the outside. But Melody's delivery of her situation as living in a bubble that only he could get thru FELT enough like an answer that Griff ultimately has to forgive her. Or is it return to her?

Actually, he rejects her after that explanation, but only after he witnesses Melody's own unbelievable gift do they both realize that they belong together.

In the end, I'm not sure what they're existence is really like except that they are together and they are happy. It's sweet to see Tim being a willing enabler/helper, but I think that lends weight to the notion that Melody and Griff are sharing a life in the "normal" real world, and visiting Griff The Invisible's alternate reality strictly for fun, in an almost cosplay sort of scenario. Which is the proper happy ending, I guess.

The other path leads to the end of MAZES AND MONSTERS. A totally valid option, but tonight, I'm glad that it went happy.

It's a simple, and absolutely required bit of dis/continuity in telling a story like this, but I appreciate the proper flipping of props, costumes, and sets between Griff's reality and the everyday. The effects for the super-reality were pretty damn good, too. Not POW! BIFF! BLAM!, but just cool enough and cool.

A lot of the supporting cast have some great moments...

When Griff's boss Gary speaks to him about how he could make life easier for himself if he learned to be invisible, it's a very thoughtful take on living day-to-day life, surviving it. And it seems like, for a minute, it might sink in with Griff. Of course, he goes another way entirely. =)

Melody's parents each get a sweet moment. Almost John Hughesian. When dad walks in on Melody busy at work, which yields some pointilist art inspired by the space in between atomic particles, he nods at her explanations and theories, and she smiles, knowing that he's nodding, and he tells her that he and her mother just want her to be happy. It's sweet.

When mom walks in to call her down to dinner and ultimately meet the new, de-powered, Griff, Melody hits her with a big Question: something like... Do you think that life exists by chance, or by design...? Oh, and leave religion out of it. Mom comes back with, "I think it's like gymnastics... You look up at the stars and you see infinity. You look down in a microscope and you see infinity again. And here, in the middle, this is life. And it's like being on the balance beam, perfectly balanced, in the middle... This is life." Something like that, at least. And it was quite lovely.

Yeah, I'm a sucker. Wanna fight about it?

The music was fun, and in particular this one theme that starts out with this, like, I dunno, Casio keyboard, one-key-at-a-time melody, and then builds up in layers. I'd like to learn to make some music like that some day. It seems simple, but builds up to something really fun.

The first time it sort of speaks up, the first time I pay attention to it, is when Melody first appears. I didn't quite recognize it as such, but maybe it's her theme? It's the music that leads up to her first *bonk* of the film, and, comic book nerd that I am, I instantly wish-know why it is she knocks herself into the wall. She is testing herself for a superpower - phasing.

There's a cut to her scribbling in her notebook right after that, apparently recording the result of her test, maybe suggesting a modification for her next test, but alas, I couldn't make out enough of the handwriting to know for sure.

Still, in my fanboy heart, I knew. I guess the movie probably won me right there.

I wish I could've seen this for the first time with a date who would get what was going on.

Eh, who am I kidding? I wish I could've seen this for the first time with Melody. =)

Keep on keepin on~

Monday, August 29, 2011

BTIES: Shallow Gravy's "Jacket!" =)

See the Venture Family as you've never seen them before: in an 11 minute documentary-style animated uncensored special. Follow the meteoric rise, the equally meteoric fall, and the decidedly un-meteor-like second coming of the most important band Hank Venture, Dermott Fictel and H.E.L.P.eR. robot have ever been in--Shallow Gravy. If you're hungry for rock, then open wide--because here comes a ladle of heavy metal fire and metaphoric meat drippings!

Download the music video via iTunes now! =)

Keep on beepin on~

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

BTIES: "You literally bust a nut..."

Love it when Colbert lets his genuine schoolboy/fanboy self show. Especially, of course, when I'm right there with him. =)

STS-135 crew: Chris Ferguson, Doug Hurley, Rex Walheim & Sandy Magnus

Keep on keepin on~

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Dateline: Tuesday afternoon, post-earthquake Somerville.

Felt it at the office. It was like the bridge of the Excelsior at the start of STAR TREK 6: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY. Joe noticed it first. I thought it was a heavy truck rolling by on the street, but then I saw how the iced coffee in my DnD cup was swaying, and the water in Joe's glass and my water bottle. Once I stood up, I could really feel it, too. Pretty cool. Kinda nuts.

Where could we look for confirmation or explanation? Where else? The tweets, which out-informed official news sources for several minutes by my click-reckoning. Is this AMAZING? Ask me again when someone's name trends and it's because everytwit thinks he's dead, and he's not. Just another day in the future.

Still, despite the lopsided ratio of coverage to actual event, it's kinda nifty to see happen.

It being an east coast earthquake, a lot of the twits and fakebook updates do sorely tempt the "that's what she said" reflex.

"Did you feel that?"

"I felt it."

"The room shook!"

"We felt it in the ball room..."

... and such. =)

How many observers do we need at the macro scale to actually change the outcome of an event? Is that possible? Y'know, besides on FUTURAMA, "reality" shows, and documentaries?

Did you know that Colorado got quaked last night? And today, Virginia! Is it Lex Luthor making another attempt at creating new oceanfront real estate?

Or maybe it's a new supervillain making his or her debut? Or could it be a result of fracking? Or maybe those are both actually the same question, eh? Hrmmmm...

Or wait, if you factor in the hurricane action, well, if we receive reports of hot hail from anywhere, I'd hafta say Ming the Merciliess is back. There *is* a question mark at the end of that movie, y'know.

Keep on keepin on~

Saturday, August 20, 2011

BTIES: "best wedding pictures ever..."

Click and scroll down.... =)

Thanks to JK for pointing me to the best wedding pictures ever. =)

Keep on creepin on~

Friday, August 12, 2011

The End (of the Watch-A-Thon) Is Nigh!


Yeah, the details are a bit sketchy, but regardless of your personal beliefs, you know it's coming. You've seen the signs. Climate change. Increasing civil and political unrest across the globe. Environmental crises and natural disasters. Wars and rumors of wars. TRANSFORMERS 3.

Are *you* ready for Doomsday? Sure, you can try to survive it, save your mortal coil, if you can afford it. Invest in an apocalypse bunker so that you start off at the top of the hellscape food chain. But even an economy class bunker will set you back something like ten grand. Who can afford that in this recession, right?

You might be better off avoiding the hellscape altogether by seeing to your soul rather than your body. And how does one go about doing that? Well, you want to start by having lived all of your life in a wholesome, righteous fashion. Meaning, y'know, you've had love in your heart for all creatures great and small, been a responsible steward of the environment, turned the other cheek, recycled faithfully, flagellated yourself vigorously for those impure thoughts you've had when walking by American Apparel, and flossed regularly.

If you've done that, you should be all set and square with just about any maker, deity/s, or higher power who will be judging whether to honor you with a place in Valhalla or instead sentence you to a rendezvous with Sawyer, Jack, and Kate for a disappointing finale.

So, you've done all that righteous living, right?

Not so much, you say? Hrmm...

Well, then what you're gonna want to do is invest in some Good Works: charitable-type acts on your part in support of the needs of others. You know, that stuff that when you hear someone else does it, you say something like, "Yeah, right, he's just doing that so that no one can say he's a complete toolbox. You KNOW he cares more about the tax deduction than finding homes for those no-good slacker hobo clowns."

Now, here's where I can help you, cuz I've got a charitable-type act that totally supports the needs of others, namely, me, my Watch-A-Thon, and the awesome little moviehouse known as the Brattle Theatre.

So, do yourself a favor and save your eternal soul. Donate, and sponsor my 2011 Brattle Theatre Movie Watch-A-Thon! You can contribute to your salvation via my FirstGiving page.

Otherwise, well, I'll see you in Hell...

... Y'know, thru my binoculars, looking down from Valhalla.

Have a nice day. =)

Keep on keepin on,
brian out

P.S. Save a friend! Forward the good word on to those who don't want to be left behind with the mutants, reavers, and smokers.

P.P.S. Only three days to the finish line! Please donate, and let me know if you'd like to catch the original 3:10 TO YUMA or SKATETOWN USA at the Brattle, or FINAL DESTINATION 5 at Davis Square, with me this weekend. =)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

2011 Watch-A-Thon: Day 8

[Rambling on movies I've hit as part of this year's Brattle Theatre Movie Watch-A-Thon. For the running count of 'thon films with titles, sans commentary, look here]

    trailer | website
    NOT the feel-good-hit-of-the-summer, but I hafta say, THE REDEMPTION OF GENERAL BUTT NAKED is a helluva film. A really well-crafted documentary with some amazing access to the subject over the span of five years, and edited so that its viewpoint remains as objective as possible.

    On the personal scale, it's an almost unbelievable situation (a known killer reinvents himself as a holy man), but on top of that, stepping back to a national / societal level, it demonstrates an impossible issue that many nations born or reborn in strife have to deal with. An issue most likely in the future of more than a couple of countries across the globe. Heck, we even deal with it to a degree in the U.S. Basically, what is a society to do with the likes of a General Butt Naked (a violent revolutionary and warlord) once the fighting is over and a government is in place, rebuilding, and ideally, meting out justice? Some of the General's warlord counterparts have ended up in the new parliament in Liberia, but apparently none will own up to the crimes they committed during the years of war. Joshua (the General's real name), having found God, claims he is ready to face punishment for his crimes, and has begun a perhaps lifelong journey to find every victim or survivor of his crimes and ask their forgiveness, as well as help as many of his previous child soldiers get on their feet as productive, God fearing citizens of Liberia. So, you've got ex-warlord politicians protecting their status by denying their crimes, and one ex-warlord evangelist seeking to make up for the tragedies he caused by turning lives around. Who do you put on trial?

    There's also the matter of the actual making/shooting of this film having an effect on Joshua's encounters with survivors and victims. You know, the "reality show" and quantum physics thing about how a result can be changed by the act of observing it? I wonder how the scenes we see in the film would have unfolded without documentary film cameras present. Butt Naked the General and Joshua the evangelist are both charismatic performers.

    Anyhow, I highly recommend it at the end of a REALLY Good day, when you feel like you can handle a fantastic true story that's built on a lot of tragedy. Y'know, like BRING IT ON, but with Kirsten Dunst as an apparently reformed merciless killer.

    Or something. =)

    Probably best seen with company so you can discuss afterward.
    [Brattle blurb]
    Directed by Eric Strauss and Danielle Anastasion

    Joshua Milton Blahyi (aka General Butt Naked) was a ruthless and feared warlord during Liberia’s 14-year civil war. Today, he has renounced his violent past and reinvented himself as a Christian evangelist on a journey of self-proclaimed transformation. Blahyi travels the nation of Liberia as a preacher, seeking out those he once victimized in search of an uncertain forgiveness. But in the end, are some crimes beyond the pale of forgiveness?

    Dubbed “General Butt Naked” for fighting with nothing more than an AK-47 and a pair of leather shoes, Blahyi believed he possessed supernatural powers that made him impervious to bullets. The General and his army of child soldiers are said to have killed thousands during Liberia’s horrific civil war.

    Following a dramatic conversion to Christianity, the General abruptly laid down his weapons in 1996, leaving behind his soldiers, his country and a war that would rage for another seven years.

    Today, Blahyi is on a quest for redemption: facing those he once terrorized, preaching where he once murdered, and trying to rebuild the shattered lives of those he commanded during the war. For five years, filmmakers Eric Strauss and Daniele Anastasion tracked his often troubling path up-close, finding both the genuine and disconcerting in Blahyi’s efforts. The film forces us to question the very nature of what true, meaningful reconciliation looks like in a country where justice has not been available.

    Keep on keepin on~

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

2011 Watch-A-Thon: Day 6

[Rambling on movies I've hit as part of this year's Brattle Theatre Movie Watch-A-Thon. For the running count of 'thon films with titles, sans commentary, look here]

    trailer | website
    A supercool, irreverant, and kind of joyous buddy cop/fish-out-of-water/Irish Western with a rocking cast including Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Mark Strong, LOST's (as far as I'm concerned =) Fionnula Flanagan, and a half dozen others whom I don't know by name but who nevertheless shine, as bungling and malevolent cops, merciless but philosophical criminals, white hats, black hats, and simple townsfolk (aka kindly prostitutes and kid CIs).

    Right from the start, I *know* it's going to be good...

    *** SPOILER ***

    A quick-ish recollection of the opening scene of the film...

    We see a car full of kids racing recklessly down a two-lane seaside/country road, music blasting, drink and drugs passed around, car weaving across the center line (and in Ireland, so reversed from the U.S. =). We zip ahead to a Garda police car on the side of the road and then see the car zing by. The police car doesn't move. Doesn't even flinch. Off screen: the kids' car comes to an abrupt, crunchy, stop. The police officer, with title "Garda" sewn into his jacket, walks to the wreckage, makes his way from body to body, checking for a pulse and then items in their pockets, relieving them of anything that might compromise their good reputations, including a little baggie of pills and smiley-faced tabs. The officer, Sargeant Boyle, played by Brendan Gleeson, drops one of the tabs on his tongue and stands up to face the rising sun over the ocean. "Gonna be a beautiful day." THE GUARD.

    Right? Totally know it's gonna be good, right?

    And it only gets better. A new recruit from Dublin, joins Boyle's force later that day, just in time to check out the murder of a John Doe, stylized to appear like an occult, ritual killing. When Boyle is directed to report to central command, he learns from FBI agent Wendell Everett, played by Don Cheadle---

    "Behavioral sciences unit?"

    ---that his John Doe is connected to a drug trafficking ring suspected of moving five hundred million - "That's half a billion..." - in drugs into Ireland in the next few days. And so, agent Wendell "straight-laced" Everett joins unconventional sergeant Gerry "feckin wichya" Boyle in his small Irish town hoping to bust this ring wide open. Wacky fun ensues, leading to a pretty wonderful and badass HIGH NOON scenario.

    Snappy dialogue, quirky characters, kickass soundtrack. I will be first in line for writer-director John Michael McDonagh's next films. He's the brother of IN BRUGES writer-director Mark McDonagh, and y'know, frankly, this film reminded me of that one in tone and attitude. Helluva gene pool there.

    Actually, the only weak bit, looking back, is the one that told me how good it would be - the opening scene. Maybe I missed it in some line that dripped overly heavily in an Irish brogue, but I would've liked for the situation with the reckless kids to have been connected somehow to the drug traffickers. Maybe the kids were blowing money or drugs that they were paid to help the ring in a very low-level way... Or something. But no, it was "just" a really great intro establishing Gleeson's Boyle's nature and the character of the film. =)

    trailer | website | Harvard Film Archive
    Okay, let's see if I can explain this. There's a scandalous mystery involving a lovely May ingenue and a September politician. There's a report of the mystery that gets adapted into a screenplay. There's a director who falls in love w the story and casts a young unknown as the ingenue and an anchorman veteran actor as the politico. This movie tells the story of the actual mystery as well as the story of the shooting of the film based on the mystery and isn't careful about cluing you in as to which bit of storytelling you're watching in any given scene.

    So, it's kind of a puzzlebox, and pretty clever in concept, but less than perfect in execution, at least, for my taste. It seems a little more "experimental" than it needs to be, but, having caught the first 15 minutes of post-screening Q&A w the director, it seems that that's most of what he wanted out of this film and filmmaking experience. O well.

    I kind of LOVE the basic idea, and the plot of the scandal, but I do wish it had been edited a bit better, and the meta-plot resolved more... deliberately. You'll hafta watch it to see what I mean.

    Oh, given that the plot was rather Hitchcockian, I thought it was cute that the anchorman actor's name was Cary Stewart. Of course, it helped that I'd just seen NXNW and VERTIGO, heh. =)
    [HFA blurb]
    With Shannyn Sossamon, Tygh Runyan, Cliff De Young
    USA 2010, digital video, color, 101 min

    Hellman's bold new film is a moody neo-noir that revolves simultaneously around an unsolved murder mystery and a daring film-within-a-film mirror game. An elliptical and seductive meditation on cinematic illusionism and story telling, Road to Nowhere reveals Hellman's ardent love of the cinema through its thoughtful allusions to Sam Fuller, Victor Erice and Alfred Hitchcock, among others. The gorgeous Shannyn Sossamon casts a bewitching spell on the film as a changeling starlet weaving enigmatically through the intertwined stories, sparking obsessive desires along the way. The first American feature shot using a handheld digital still camera, Road to Nowhere makes clear Hellman's remarkable gift for visual narrative through the haunting imagery that gives the film the floating quality of a waking dream.

    trailer | Brattle
    [Brattle blurb]
    (1982) dir Amy Heckerling w/Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Phoebe Cates, Ray Walston [90 min]

    This classic coming-of-age film is not only a hilarious comedy and touchingly human-scale story, but also a remarkable time-capsule of California in the early ‘80s. A clear template for Judd Apatow’s comedy blockbusters of today.

Keep on keepin on~

Monday, August 08, 2011

2011 Watch-A-Thon: Day 5

[Rambling on movies I've hit as part of this year's Brattle Theatre Movie Watch-A-Thon. For the running count of 'thon films with titles, sans commentary, look here]

  • THESE AMAZING SHADOWS @the Brattle, 8/5/2011.
    trailer | website | National Film Registry
    A love letter to the movies. I didn't realize that this weekend's programming at the Brattle is actually framed by this film and its topic, the National Film Registry, created in the late 80s to collect and preserve American film. All the other films screening this weekend have been selected for the Registry and figure prominently in the clips and discussions in the documentary. Whether you're a film buff or not, if you get a chance to see SHADOWS, please do. It's fun to see how so many different movies, from 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY to THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, can be artistic and historic reflections of America, its filmmakers, and its people.
    [Brattle blurb]
    (2011) dir Paul Mariano, Kurt Norton [88 min]

    THESE AMAZING SHADOWS is a remarkable documentary for anyone who loves movies – from the casual filmgoer to the ultimate cinemaniac. Ostensibly the story of the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress, THESE AMAZING SHADOWS is that and so much more – it is also a tale of discovery and exploration, a primer on the history of film, and an examination of how and why all cinema (from the sacred to the profane) must be preserved and protected. Through interviews with Registry board members, archivists, and notable directors, the filmmakers demonstrate how document artistic, historic, and societal milestones as well as being great entertainment. Guided by a true cinephile’s love of the medium and a treasure trove of archival footage, THESE AMAZING SHADOWS molds a cultural history from pieces of film, offering a microcosm of the work of the National Film Registry and making a powerful case for film preservation.

  • BLAZING SADDLES @the Brattle, 8/5/2011.
    trailer | added to the National Film Registry in 2006
    What is there to say, really? As juvenile and musical and clever as ever. Oh, I never realized that Richard Pryor was a co-writer of this film until this screening. Maybe more than any other Brooks film, this one is chock full of Bugs Bunny-type setups and gags. For some reason, I never really identified them as such before.
    [Brattle blurb]
    (1974) dir Mel Brooks w/Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Slim Pickens, Harvey Korman, Madeline Kahn, Mel Brooks [93 min]

    Mel Brooks’ maddeningly hilarious spoof of classic Westerns features some of the 1970’s best gags and most absurdly tasteless dialogue. Not to be missed on the big screen with a crowd!

  • RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES @AMC Harvard Square, 8/5/2011.
    trailer | website
    RISE is pretty frickin awesome. You don't need to be a fan of the original film/s, but if you are, it's EXtra awesome. A totally satisfying action sci-fi flick, featuring CG apes as emotional and empathetic as their live-action human costars, if not moreso, and a clever updated reboot to the PLANET OF THE APES mythos.

    When Caesar, the first scientifically-enhanced chimpanzee, runs afoul of the law, Dr. Franco has to turn him over to an ape sanctuary until he gets a date for an appeal to have him returned to his custody. This part of the movie plays like a prison flick, a little SHAWSHANK, a little PRISON BREAK, and a really well done one at that.

    I don't think that the subtext of the original films follows all that strongly in this one. Of course you can read into bits of dialogue, conflicts, relationships, and circumstances, but I don't know that any are sustained as seriously developed themes throughout. I almost don't want to look that hard, y'know?

    *** SPOILERS follow ***

    Turn back now if you haven't seen the film already.

    There are a dozen or so callbacks to the original, visuals, dialogue, and some fun upside-down/reversed scenarios.

    1. "Get your stinking paw off me you damn dirty ape!"
    2. "It's a MAD HOUSE!"
    3. Caesar enjoys crafting it up in his attic home. One of the items we get to see him working on is a balsa wood-type replica of the Statue Of Liberty!
    4. Caesar's mother is nicknamed Bright Eyes by the chimpanzee handler and Dr. Franco.
    5. If you're paying attention, you'll see that there is a manned mission to Mars under way elsewhere in the world, and by the end of the movie's events, there is news that the mission craft has apparently disappeared. Cue up the original PLANET OF THE APES film for the fate of their crew! =)
    6. I don't remember a very satisfying explanation or conjecture from the original series about the cause of Man's devolution, but this film's story does something very clever by connecting the origin of the apes' increased intelligence to the downfall of Man and Man's civilization. When a human is exposed to the compound (113, not 112), it creates a killer contagion, whose patient zero conveniently infects an airline pilot. The end credits roll over a simulation of the spread of this virus across the globe. This does not definitely/obviously lead to a radioactive post-apocalypse, but the dots can certainly be connected with a little imagination.
    7. Not a callback, just a little annoying something. There's a line I remember from a commercial or trailer that didn't make the final cut. Dr. Franco to Caesar: Never let them catch you. It would have been a powerful directive.

Keep on keepin on~

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

2011 Watch-A-Thon: Day 2

[Rambling on movies I've hit as part of this year's Brattle Theatre Movie Watch-A-Thon. For the running count of 'thon films with titles, sans commentary, look here]

  • TABLOID @Kendall Square 8/2/11.
    trailer | website
    Together with VERTIGO, this turned out to be an unplanned double feature about obsession. TABLOID is a wonderful Errol Morris documentary about Joyce McKinney, a young beauty queen (Miss Wyoming) who made headlines in 1977 when she tracked down and rescued (or was it abducted?) her lost true love, who had disappeared to London without a word. According to her, she was a naive innocent believer in true love, determined to save her fiancee from the brainwashing of his cult. In the words of UK tabloid reporters of the time, she was a manipulative stalker with a hidden past as an escort and adult model with a taste for bondage. It is an amazing story and the film does an excellent job of telling it like it is (and like it isn't). Only, you're never quite sure which is which. There's also a somewhat zany second tail to her story, unrelated to the true love and bondage, involving her faithful canine companion Booger and an appointment with a doctor specializing in cloning.

    That's right. You read it right: cloning.

  • VERTIGO @the Brattle, 8/2/11.
    A Hitchcock classic. I thought that I'd never seen it before, but as it unfolded, I remembered a couple of scenes and story elements and realized that I must have seen it at the Brattle in the last couple of years. This cinemnesia happens to me way more than I'd like. Sad.

    Jimmy Stewart is a favorite of mine and is as charming and instantly likable as ever. He plays retired police detective Jon Ferguson, who's hired by an old friend to keep watch on his wife. The old friend fears that she may need protection. As Stewart shadows Madelaine (Kim Novak, who reminded me here for the first time of Jennifer Connelly), he begins to fall for her. Of course, nothing is quite what it seems, and ultimately, once his protection services are no longer needed, Ferguson can't leave Madelaine alone. Wacky fun ensues. After this viewing, I hafta say, this is not my favorite Hitchcock film, and the plot/ending is not very satisfying to me, but it's still a fun bit of storytelling and manipulation.

    I thought that the director had a cameo in all of his films, but I didn't spot him tonight. Maybe I blinked and missed him somewhere? Foo.

    One of the elements of the film that sparked my faded memory of the film was a sting of music that happens early on. On screen I think Stewart is tailing Novak and we see the exterior of a building at twilight but I'm not clear now on which/where it is - the church w the graveyard? Anyhow, I remember remembering that this piece of music sounded like a theme from LOST's soundtrack and wondering that maybe it was the source inspiration. This film after all, along with NXNW, is playing at the Brattle as part of a centennial tribute to film score composer Bernard Herrmann, and the music is palpable and wonderful in both.

Keep on keepin on~

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

2011 Watch-A-Thon: Day 1

[Rambling on movies I've hit as part of this year's Brattle Theatre Movie Watch-A-Thon. For the running count of 'thon films with titles, sans commentary, look here]

  • NORTH BY NORTHWEST @the Brattle, 8/1/11.
    I've seen this maybe a half dozen times at the Brattle and it's always a pleasure. Cary Grant is so frickin dashing it's ridiculous. After watching summer blockbusters every week for the past couple months, the pacing is kind of remarkable. It takes its time, y'know? When Grant's Thornhill is dropped off in the middle of nowhere to meet the mysterious George Kaplan, it is MINUTES of waiting, wondering if this or that passing car is Kaplan and who that guy is waiting for the bus, before that iconic biplane cropduster begins its strafing runs. Does anyone DO that anymore? Let things happen on screen?

    I was kind of surprised that no one laughed when Hitchcock did his cameo.

    Early on in the film, Thornhill is very much in his element, an advertising man on Madison Ave. A Mad Man. I totally had flashes to a Don Draper / Jon Hamm playing this role. A different kind of dashing, but still, the role of the boozing charmer of a Casanova set off an odd televisional/cinematic deja vu resonance in my TV/movie brain. Gotta say, the Saul Bass opening titles also whispered "MAD MEN" to me. Simple, beautiful, ingenious motion graphics.

    Partway thru the film, I had words with a texter sitting in front of me in the balcony. I waited til I saw the annoying rectangle of light show up for the third time and then asked if he could please put that away. He ignored me and kept tapping out his (third) very important message. I was a little stunned, no pause, no recognition, not even a lame "almost done, sorry," so I raised my voice a bit, enough that everyone in the balcony heard me. And the guy got put out. I mean, he turned around to start talking back to me in a "You got a problem with me?" way. When I repeated myself, he said something like, "I was checking a message!" as if that was acceptable. I explained that he could've done that in the stairwell (he was in the row right next to the left one, altho he would have had to step across his two friends, who were silent). He stood up and turned to face me completely to say, "Do you want to take this outside? You messed with the wrong guy..."

    Really? Well, I did not want to step outside as I was there to watch this movie. I stayed in my seat, he continued with a couple more road ragey challenges, and I kept my replies to remarks about how ridiculous this is and the guy deflated in a couple of minutes and returned to his seat.

    An... interesting start to the Watch-A-Thon...

  • MACHETE @the Brattle, 8/1/11.
    trailer | website
    AWESOME. A brilliant 21st century execution of (what I take to be) the grindhouse genre, specifically, Mexploitation, complete with social commentary subtext! Three years ago, a Mexican Federale, codename: Machete, is set up by leathery drug kingpin Torrez, his family killed and he himself left to die. Today, on the Texas side of the border, Machete surfaces as an anonymous illegal day laborer. When he is unwittingly tapped by a scheming businessman to play fall guy in the assassination of a senator who's built his platform on targeting illegals and walling up the border, Machete becomes a people's hero to an underground network of illegal immigrants being exploited for labor, profit, and votes by The Man on both sides of the border. He finds allies in the network's dedicated leader Luz (Michelle Rodriguez), the preacher from his past, Padre Cortez (Cheech Marin), and even feisty wide-eyed ICE agent Sartana (Jessica Alba), who's torn between her duty and the plight of her brothers and sisters. "There's the law, and then there's what's right." Wacky bloody fun ensues. =)

    This was my second big screen screening of the film and it remains thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable, loaded with over-the-top action, violence, and a frankly unbeatable cast, including Robert De Niro, Steven Seagal, Danny Trejo as the titular blade-slinging hero, and introducing a promising young upstart, Mr. Don Johnson. Heh. I hafta say that this film had already earned bonus points when I first saw the trailer cuz it reunited some of my LOST family: Michelle Rodriguez, Cheech Marin, and Jeff Fahey. Also, Lindsay Lohan!

Keep on keepin on~

Sunday, July 31, 2011

running Watch-A-Thon count...

Please support the Unofficial Film School of Boston, the Brattle Theater—Sponsor my 2011 Watch-A-Thon! Thanks!

Note that altho this post is dated 7/31, the day before the starting line of the 'thon, I'll be updating it as I go along.
  1. NORTH BY NORTHWEST @the Brattle, 8/1/11.
  2. MACHETE @the Brattle, 8/1/11.
  3. TABLOID @Kendall Square 8/2/11.
  4. VERTIGO @the Brattle, 8/2/11.
  5. LE QUATTRO VOLTE @the Brattle, 8/3/11.
  6. RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES @AMC Harvard Square, 8/5/11.
  7. THESE AMAZING SHADOWS @the Brattle, 8/5/11.
  8. BLAZING SADDLES @the Brattle, 8/5/11.
  9. THE GUARD @Kendall Square, 8/6/11.
  10. ROAD TO NOWHERE @the Harvard film Archive, 8/6/11.
  11. FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH @the Brattle, 8/6/11.
  12. IT'S A GIFT @the Brattle, 8/7/11.
  13. THE REDEMPTION OF GENERAL BUTT NAKED @the Brattle, 8/8/11.
  14. CAPE FEAR @the Brattle, 8/9/11.
  15. ON DANGEROUS GROUND @the Brattle, 8/9/11.
  16. DEATH ON THE NILE @the Brattle, 8/11/11.
  17. 3:10 TO YUMA @the Brattle, 8/13/11.
  18. FINAL DESTINATION 5 @the Somerville, 8/14/11.
  19. SKATETOWN USA @the Brattle, 8/14/11.

For those of you playing along at home, that's 14 Brattle films and 5 non-Brattle flicks, for a final total of 16.5 Watch-A-Thon movie-points. Ayep.

Anyone wanna go to the movies?

Keep on keepin on~

2011 Watch-A-Thon!

Greetings, Programs!

This August 1 thru August 14, I will be participating in the Brattle Theater's Movie Watch-A-Thon fundraiser, and I hope you'll support me in my run!

"What is a Watch-A-Thon?" you may ask (if you've only just met me). Well it's just like other fundraising 'thons you're probably familiar with, except that instead of all that leisurely, scenic walking, or luxurious, relaxing running, participants engage in exhausting, intensive on-your-bum-sitting for two weeks in front of excruciatingly entertaining films. But let's not forget the most important and enjoyable part of the process: YOU graciously and attractively sponsoring my laborious labor!

You can support my Watch-A-Thon run with a contribution per movie-I-see, or by one-time (or two, or three, I won't stop you) donation. I hope you'll help me in this effort to preserve the legacy of repertory film programming at Boston's Unofficial Film School, the non-profit Brattle Theater.

(You can donate online via my FirstGiving page.)

If you're not familiar with the Brattle (or even if you are), the theater is a unique, modest cinema located in Harvard Square, my favorite venue for catching classic, indie, documentary, foreign, cult, and just plain awesome films in the Boston area. No teeth-shattering THX, no stadium seats, but behind the counter there's freshly popped popcorn, real melted butter, and *hey!* beer and wine! And up on the screen are the coolest, smartest, classiest, campiest, funniest, and scariest rectangles of light in Boston. On stage you'll meet directors, authors, actors, and musicians, including the likes of George Romero, Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Wes Anderson, Bruce Campbell, Lars Nilsen, Frank Langella, Junot Diaz, James Ellroy, Elliott Gould, Willem Dafoe, MC Frontalot, Kid Koala, and Juliana Hatfield. And in the seats, you'll find people loving and digging them all.

Maybe even YOU! If you haven't already, check it out with me sometime. They've got some excellent programming lined up for the two weeks of the 'thon! =)

It's where my mind was blown when I watched Chow Yun Fat step-and-slide his way down that tea-house stairway railing, two guns a-blazin', partnered with Tony Leung in John Woo's HARD-BOILED! The darkened theater where I first experienced movies like CITIZEN KANE, DONNIE DARKO, and FALLEN ANGELS... Where I can go to see "What's Opera, Doc?" on the big screen, and properly observe my high holy days with screenings of EVIL DEAD 2 for Halloween, CASABLANCA for Thanksgiving, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE for Saturnalia, and BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN for Valentine's Day... and where I consistently go to see the best of film's past (BICYCLE THIEVES, LE SAMOURI, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA), present (SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD, 13 ASSASSINS), and future (STAKE LAND, UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES).

Thank you for any little something you can give to keep the Brattle's screen lit up, either as a donation or a pledge for my Watch-A-Thon. Help the Brattle...

keep on keepin on~

Friday, June 17, 2011

BTIES: Is Tropical by The Greeks


Thanks to JP and Gizmodo for the ultraviolent candy! =)

Keep on keepin on~

Friday, June 10, 2011

A public service announcement...


Thank you.
The Management.

Thanks to JU and JK for sharing the love. =)

Keep on keepin on~

DOCTOR WHO: "The only water in the forest..."

6.05 "The Doctor's Wife"

* I'm several episodes behind in my series 6 DOCTOR watching, so if you're up-to-date, this'll be old news. Thanks to the DVR, it's still new to me! Please don't spoil anything in any comments/replies. =)

If you haven't seen this episode stop reading now. I just need to get some remarks Out of me about it and they're gonna be spoilery.

I LOVE this episode. Neil Gaiman does WEIRD SCIENCE with DOCTOR WHO!

"Did you wish REALLY hard?" =)

But it's Neil Gaiman, so of course it's really a whole lot more. It's so very Gaiman. Getting the TARDIS's perspective on their wacky misadventures is such sweet happy candy, so matter-of-fact. Yes, it's all very fanboy fantasy-tastic, but it's not just, like, HEAVY METAL, it's HEAVY METAL with heart, and soul, even.

A very Gaiman WHO. However, I'm guessing that there were two story elements that he was required to incorporate, to contribute to the ongoing arc of the season: The title, and Idris/TARDIS's last words. These are probably Captain Obvious to a lot of fans, but like I said, I've just gotta get this Out.

The title: "The Doctor's Wife." If you've only ever seen this episode of DW, you'd have been led to believe that it's a fanciful description of the TARDIS herself, and a good description of their longtime relationship and especially their shorttime relating. However, if you've been paying attention for the past few seasons, you know the title refers to someone specific, right? No one else but River Song.

TARDIS's final words: "The only water in the forest is the river." Might not be the exact words but that's the how I recall it. These words don't seem to connect to anything else in this episode, but of course, the TARDIS being the TARDIS, they may refer to a scenario yet to arise (or one in the past). Gaiman did a fine and fun job of educating viewers within this story on the TARDIS's wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey capabilities, some of them apparently unknown to the good Doctor himself (archiving things that haven't been built yet =). And, if you've been paying attention, you know that "the forest" is what the library planet was called, the planet that the Doctor helped evacuate before leaving it to the Vashta Nerada. Also, the planet that is home to the computer that hosts the virtual world into which the Doctor downloaded River Song's fading consciousness. Also also, a planet that this Doctor, Amy, and Rory have never visited. Anyone else foresee a return to the Library?

"The only water in the forest is the river."

But y'know, this all seems a bit too easy from a fanboy's point of view, donchathink? I'm really hoping that there's a twist or a trap at the end of this.

Oh, something I really appreciated being brought up in this episode again: Rory's subjective age. Hasn't he lived longer than the Doctor now? He apparently somehow compartmentalizes that time in his mind, but how did he spend it all? If we set some facial recognition software loose on a historical archive and fed it Rory's appearance, would he show up in the background (or center) of m/any major historical events? Would he be around to help/have helped the Doctor in other eras on Earth? Maybe his memory is compartmentalized by design, and with help from a previous/future encounter with a/the Doctor, eh?

A human (when/how did he return to fully human from living plastic Roman?) who's lived a couple of millennia is gonna have learned a few things and developed some skills, no?

Perhaps I just have to advance to the next episode on the DVR to find the answer.

Keep on keepin on~

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Summer 2011 Mixx

Every summer I put together a mixx CD for my beach commute. Yeah, an actual 79-minute CD, for my CD player. I took it for its first spin this weekend and I rather like it.

DOCTOR WHO - "Doctor Who Opening Credits" (series 4)

Queen / SHAUN OF THE DEAD - "You're My Best Friend"

Mama Cass / LOST - "Make Your Own Kind Of Music"

The Go-Go's - "Our Lips Are Sealed"

Metric / SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD - "Black Sheep"

Don Henley - "The Boys Of Summer"

Daft Punk / TRON: LEGACY - "Derezzed"

Animotion - "Obsession"

Journey / TRON: LEGACY - "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)"

The Outfield - "Your Love"

Penguinvilla / UNCLE BOONMEE - "Acrophobia"

Immortal Technique / "Bob And The Trees" - "Point Of No Return"

Natasha Bedingfield - "Pocketful Of Sunshine"

Sara Bareilles - "Love Song"

Electric Light Orchestra / XANADU - "All Over The World"

The XX - "Intro"

A-ha - "Take On Me"

Motley Crue / HOT TUB TIME MACHINE - "Home Sweet Home"

Childish Gambino - "Freaks And Geeks"

PARTY DOWN - "Party Down Closing Credits"

Victoria Vox - "Oh I Wonder"

Wolf Parade - "Yulia"

The Cure - "In Between Days"

Keep on keepin on~

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

BTIES: The Shores Of New Jersey...

Or... The Importance Of Being The Situation...

Thanks to the rooftop minigolf putt from FVM! =)

Keep on keepin on~

IFFBoston 2011: more of what I've seen...

[I'm gonna list the movies I've seen since my last post and try to fill in with rambles/reviews over the next couple days. I'll lead with a rating (all the films I saw after ELMO were up for prizes, so all audience members were given ballots with which to rate films on a scale of 1 to 5). The first piece will be spoiler-free, but after the *SPOILERS* marker, I'm likely to drop plot bombs or descriptions of cool bits or plot twists, partly to explain something I liked or didn't, but probably just as much so that I can remember, too, so beware.]

day 4.
3/ 5. A great midnight movie. Unfortunately, I caught it at 10pm. =) Two best friends who are just a little bit obsessed with the post-apocalyptic vision of MAD MAX spend their days modding muscle cars and assembling flamethrowers in anticipation of ruling the wasteland and their nights drinking and attempting to hook up. When one of them falls head-over-wheels for Milly, a girl who smiles sadly as she warns/promises that she'll only hurt him, the apocalypse arrives in a way neither expected. Wacky fun ensues.

I gotta say, the two leads create a great rapport between Woodrow (also the director) and Aidan, and the cast overall is pretty strong for a B-movie. The courtship of Milly is sweet and mumble-ish, with quiet guy Woodrow charming the wild child with his bouquet of roadside wildflowers and his ROAD WARRIOR dreams, y'know? The rest is almost determined by dice-rolls: the trouble in paradise, the crack-ups, the violence, the cops?

Don't look too hard for logic. That was my mistake. Just go with the smartmouth, dirty, sexy, sweet, dark, and combustible flow. When things get chaotic, think fever dream, and it'll all work.


I know I advised just above to let go of the idea of the story as something real-ish in favor of a more dreamlike/nightmare experience. Here, tho, I'm gonna pick at it as if it should have been more straightforward, cuz that's how the film begins and how I felt it should have followed through.

The film is divided into chapters, which sort of work, but don't seem to know or care anything for the passage of time. The chapter divisons could've gone a decent way toward reining the storytelling into a more coherent A-to-C-back-to-B-to-D narrative. It's difficult to get a feel for just how much time passes between key events. If you track the construction of the boys' flamethrowing machinery, it's days, but how long does it take for Milly to start cohabitating with Woodrow? How long is Woodrow in the hospital? To make it work in my head, I have to write off a lot of events as fantasy. I think the filmmakers, maybe in part due to the limitations of the footage they shot, play fast and loose with reality in order to use the best of what they have on their hard drives (the writer-actor-director Evan Glodell talked about building the cameras they used, to be featured in a POPULAR MECHANICS write-up soon... nerds. =).

There's one explicit moment that we can read as a reset/restart point, when Woodrow is sitting across from the box of "Milly's Shit." We see it first before he decides to go and confront Milly, and her live-in whatever, and then after a whole lot of violent, deadly, stuff goes down, we snap back to it and move forward again. However, it's not clear that we're seeing anything different, just moments that we weren't shown before that fit under a new chapter title. Confusing? Yeah, I guess I'm writing this more for me to remember how I tried to stitch this thing into a cause-and-effect flowing narrative when really, after a certain point, it's a bitter, hate-and-diesel fueled romant-apocalypt-ic fever dream.

With a muscle car with afterburners named Medusa. =)

5 / 5. Still awesome. (Caught this for the first time at TIFF =)


The reaction from the crowd to the vamp-bombs was thoroughly satisfying. I'd forgotten one thing (THE one thing?) that bugged me action-wise about the film: the final confrontation with the cult's big bad. Non-optimal lighting and camerawork make the final blow (and the assist) almost impossible to actually see. I only sussed out the physical blows after the fact based on the reaction and result. Both times I saw it. Looking back at my quick write-up from TIFF, I'm pretty certain that was the "nit" I mentioned.

day 5.
3 / 5. When three boys from an isolated Alaskan town head out on the ice for a seal hunt, a disagreement turns violent, leading to a tragic accident. Accident or not, each of the surviving best friends, Qalli and Aivaaq, has his reasons to cover up the details, so the two conspire to sell a lie about what happened. Each lie leads to another, and the guilt each feels grows and grows. With their futures on the line, can the boys live with their secret. And can they trust the other to?

Within the first couple of minutes, I felt a WINTER'S BONE vibe, the potential for a dark noirish journey set in a niche subculture and environment of America. Unfortunately, about halfway thru, that vibe fades. Don't get me wrong, the film is good, beautiful in its isolated setting, but there was the possibility of exellence in it that alas, isn't realized.

The leads are solid and likeable. Aivaaq is a charming screw-up doing a poor job of hiding a bad habit. Qalli is something of a kind lug, the dependable college-bound good son. Qalli's father is somehow instantly wise and correct. The boys' secret and the father's job as the leader of the local search and rescue team sets them on a collision course, but that course turns out to be disappointingly predictable and drawn out.


There's a beautiful shot in the opening credits of a snow-coated cemetary. We see the white cross headstones receding from foreground to back, and just beyond, satellite dishes. An easy, but striking juxtaposition. Dishes and crosses are given equal importance.

The film opens with the two boys performing a traditional dance at their high school and then follows them to an after-party where together they perform some original hip-hop, with Qalli on the beats and Aivaaq on the mic. These seemingly polar pursuits and passions of the boys hint at something special unfolding. As the story unfolds, the introduction of a drug element in the shadows of this small community promises some extra menace, too. Unfortunately, these all drop away into the background pretty quickly and the boys' guilt and paranoia-driven descent offers only one surprise and plays out a bit tiresomely, as demonstrated by Qalli's repeated interrogation-and-lie confrontations with his father. The one surprise, that in the end Aivaaq steps up for himself, and incidentally, for Qalli. His logic is moment-of-clarity crisp.

IFFB | site
5 / 5. Sweet and beautiful and so unlikely but so perfectly real. The other side of the foreign exchange program with LOST IN TRANSLATION.

5 / 5. A w e s o m e . I have not seen everything of his, but I've tried to get to everything that's played in theaters here. Based on that pool, definitely Miike's best since AUDITION and a beautiful and kickass addition to the Japanese samurai film genre.

day 6.
3 / 5.

"All Day Yeah"
4 / 5. A kid skates and wanders away an apparently just-like-every-other day.


If you're paying attention, you see that the one piece of mail he saves from his raid on the mailbox is a postcard coupon for free admission to an amusement park (frack, I've totally spaced on the name of it - Joey's World?), sent to him for his birthday. So, this day that he's been slackerly strangling is his birthday. It's a little bleak, but I really like it. And the final shot of the film, camera pointed at the boy as he ponders, then decides, and hops in the four-by-four to drive away, is pretty ingenious. The camera is mounted in or on the car itself, so you see him start to jog around to the driver's side, hear him get in, find the keys, start the car, and once the engine is going and he puts it into drive, the camera begins moving, tracking the ocean view as the boy makes his getaway. In Q&A the director says he wanted to put the audience somewhere WITH the boy, but not in a position of condoning his choice, so we end up as an unwitting stowaway/passenger, along for the ride. Pretty sweet.

Also love that the title shows up as the tag line on the postcard coupon. =)

"Bob And The Trees"
IFFB | vimeo
5 / 5. There are moments of pure joy in this. Bob teeing off from that hilltop, beer in his back pocket, his post-swing follow-thru and pose... Just perfect. The righteous fury in his pumping and singing along to "Point Of Now Return" almost had me jump to give a standing o. =)

I'm really excited to learn that the director, Diego Ongaro, is developing a feature film based on Bob-ness. =)

"Jupiter Elicius"
4 / 5. Some clever and well-crafted cutout animation set to what sounds like poetry about the life and passion for the storm of a born meteorologist.

"Ice Hockey"
3 / 5. A high school hockey player is having problems w his mojo. This certainly would've resonated more for me if I was a proper hockey fan.


I *really* love the flash of life in the moment before the boy takes his mid-ice slapshots.

I think the film might've been able to expand its appeal by educating us about this Jersey Devils legend of a player, perhaps by letting the boy tell someone about his hockey idol, or maybe show him watching highlights online. Maybe I missed posters in his bedroom or locker...?

2 / 5. The film has a cute premise, and creates a wonderfully intimate atmosphere/scenario - a fanciful bedtime tale to lull a nightmare-startled child back to sleep - but I feel like that tale could've or should've been or done more.

"Deeper Than Yesterday"
2 / 5.

"The Strange Ones"
5 / 5.

3 / 5. A simple, naturalistic, short about a father and son who happen upon a rite of passage for the boy. Visually, reminded me of a Wyeth painting in moments. Dad takes his son with him when he goes to do some contracting work. The boy is left on his own to play, fighting imaginary battles, target practice with his air rifle, and exploring the nearby fields and woods. At lunchtime, father and son bond and relate as men typically do: tersely. On the ride home, they come across a pair of wolves, menaces to put down. The father arms the boy with his rifle and charges him with the duty. Good times. I really like the father-son-ness of the pair, established with nothing more than riding in the same truck and reinforced by the very few words they exchange.


After dealing with the animal, we see the boy walking back down the hill to his waiting father and then... BOY. I like that close.

3 / 5. An alternately disturbing and charming stalkerly courtship ritual, with a not-so-hidden layer of vicious consequences, and perhaps vicious intent. When a young woman attempts to thwart a thief's pocketbook-picking attempt, the thief relentlessly stalks her for the rest of the evening. The woman tries to resist the undeniable electricity between them, but in the end has to give in. Or is it she who has captured him? More than the twist in the plot, I think the film's strength is in making the attraction between these two palpable, if more often creepy than romantic.


I kind of wish that the reveal of the woman's behavior wasn't so ambiguous. Does she manipulate the evening so that she can hurt the thief, first for being a thief, and then for having the gall to pursue and harass her after she outs his thievery? I want to believe that that's so, and that she surprises herself by actually not wanting to hurt this man because he's so gentle (she tells him not to look at her "like that," and to be rougher with her, but he doesn't listen to her). It's really smart that the two of them share a look before he's revealed as a miscreant. Establishes the attraction before the crime.

4 / 5. A beautiful portrait of a crack-up. A loving family man seems to have it all. However, one afternoon after swimming in the backyard pool, he wakes from a disturbing dream of dying and begins to see things differently. As the day continues, he becomes increasingly impatient with his wife's completely reasonable suggestions and his daughter's playful, if annoying, behavior. He struggles to keep from taking violent measures to keep his family in line. Will his afternoon nightmare come true? The short's portrayal of the father's descent is creepily crisp and shiny, like a sharpened knife.


I really liked the father's final act of self-immolation was done really well. Seamless effects/post-production work. The way that the daughter's tapping and patting and smacking grates on him is conveyed extremely well by the film. I can't put my finger on specific elements, but their net effect is totally successful. I hafta say, as I was watching, I thought that this might be an Owl Creek scenario and that pops was gonna be poolside, unconscious, lungs full of water, receiving futile CPR, y'know?

Keep on keepin on~

Monday, May 02, 2011

BTIES: The Monster Engine

"The process is simple. I project a child’s drawing with an opaque projector, faithfully tracing each line. Applying a combination of logic and instinct, I then paint the image as realistically as I can. My medium is mixed—primarily acrylic, airbrush, and colored pencil."

--Dave DeVries

Check it out at Thanks to KG for the point-out. =)

Keep on keepin on~

Sunday, May 01, 2011

IFFBoston 2011: THE FUTURE: spoilery take on WTF is going on

This is a consciousness-streamy post about connections my dopey synapses made while watching Miranda July's THE FUTURE. It started as what was supposed to be a couple of sentences in a short-ramble post about IFFB flicks I've seen so far. If you haven't seen THE FUTURE and don't want to be spoiled for it, stop reading now...

Thanks. =)

The first radical changes that Sophie and Jason make are quitting their jobs. She is a children's dance teacher and he is a tech support jockey. She vows to push her creativity, and create and perform 30 dances in 30 days. He vows to become more alert and aware of the cosmos and any messages or clues it might have for him. She hits a wall, and lets herself get distracted with yelling out the window at an older man who wears a gold chain (a man whose phone number is written on the back of a drawing of his daughter that Jason bought from the animal shelter, stating that the drawing was in fact his "cup of tea." =). From their window, the couple can see an old woman across the way, brushing her hair out every morning and night. Sophie comments that that woman has got it all figured out, while Jason remarks, but she's a spinster! He feels compelled to join Tree To Tree, and go door to door soliciting people to buy trees to plant to help fight climate change (only $10 a tree!). Oh! Before the couple agree to changing their lives, they come up with a signal, something to snap them back to themselves, should either one of them get "lost" somehow. A song. There is an opportunity to save themselves by playing this song—Sophie asks Jason to play the signal—early on—perhaps it's after Sophie yells out the window?—but the power cord for the ipod is in Jason's car. It seems like he's going to get it, but we never hear the song played. Sad. But wonderful that Sophie thinks of it. =) Anyhow, Jason goes door to door, speaks to a woman who has no intention of buying a tree, but does quietly get him to hand her the day's mail, and then asks him to throw away the junk mail she doesn't want, giving it to him. In that junk mail is a PennySaver, which includes an ad for a refurbished hair dryer for three dollars. He visits the man, Joe, who is selling it and buys the dryer for Sophie. Jason continues to visit Joe, a man in his 90s, who reads to him the naughty limericks he wrote for his wife over their 60 years of marriage and shares his relationship wisdom, advising Jason that he is still just in the "middle of the beginning," and that you have to be strong, because one of you will do something terrible, but to have the happy life that Joe and his wife had, Jason will have to bear it, somehow. At the end of one visit, Jason sees the same Escher print on Joe's wall that's on his wall. He also sees three ceramic hippo figurines in a shadowbox frame at Joe's, the same ones that they keep on a table in their home. After a few visits, Jason has told Joe about the cat, and Joe offers him a cat playtoy as a gift, which Jason takes home. Puzzle box. In Joe, Jason has met his future self, one who has led a long happy life with a woman he loved. In the woman across the way, Sophie has seen her future self, alone, but apparently fine with it.

I kind of wanted more from the cat. Meaning, I'm not sure he had to be in there, as himself. Having the cat be a sort of nexus point is great, a hinge upon which the future of the relationship turns, especially cuz it introduces the "cup of tea" drawing and the 30-day deadline. The cat as a character could've been a voice that's more Watcher-like, y'know? Or like a Gaiman cat. Imparting cosmic truths and understandings of her new owners-to-be that somehow only a cat could know. Or maybe the cat did just that and I didn't catch it...?

Keep on keepin on~

IFFBoston 2011: what I've seen so far...

Some rambling reviews of the first few films I've seen at IFFB 2011.

day 1.
SEE IT! As the opening night film, a total joy to watch. I was originally a little skeptical of the ability of its subject to draw me in, but the film proved my doubts foolish. It's not the story of a red furry monster, but the story of Kevin Clash, a boy who discovered a passion for the craft of puppetry and the happiness it could bring to children. The story is told pretty much from beginning to end with some remarkable footage, images, interviews, and artifacts from all parts of Kevin's journey. It's also partly a "craft" documentary, one that introduces you to an art that most aren't so familiar with, gives you a survey of its landscape, and teaches you or visits with its masters, and perhaps its old man on the mountain (Jim Henson).

day 2.

day 3.
IFFB | vimeo | site
It's a great, intimate little picture, and it deserves some love. It's a beautiful little film about some very un-beautiful behavior. Young couple Sebastian and Genevieve leave Brooklyn for a sublet with farmland in West Virginia when he decides to undertake a writing assignment on the firsthand experience of sustainable living. Soon after they arrive, local sprite with a gift for chat, Robyn, visits, and soon becomes the couple's regular and mostly welcome third wheel. When the couple's relationship hits a bump or three, Genny begins to wonder about just why Robyn's spending so much time with them. Atmosphere and vibe-wise, the film's projection of Genny's growing unease and suspicions, set against the alternately bright-and-lush and dark-and-unknowable green of nature, reminded me uncannily of ANTI-CHRIST. Which really goes to show just how well done GREEN is.

IFFB | youTube
SEE IT! Such a great execution of a wonderful idea: trolls are real, and—of course–they live in Norway! It's framed in a BLAIR WITCH way, with a trio of college filmmakers choosing to track down an elusive subject, in this case, an alleged bear poacher. They follow news reports of dead bears, unclaimed as licensed hunters' kills, and associated with all manner of violence against tourists and livestock. When they finally catch up to the accused poacher, they discover that the man lets himself be branded as one because the lie is preferable to the truth: he's hunting trolls. TROLLS!!! It's a lot of handheld running thru the wild, but not nearly as tiresome as BLAIR's, and the payoff in actual recorded troll encounters is SO worth it. Q&A w the director revealed that the man who plays the hunter is actually one of Norway's premier comedians with a gift for social commentary and sarcasm. The man reins that side of him in quite remarkably in creating the stoic keeper of troll secrets. The film DOES have a distributor in the U.S. and will be on screens in early June, probably at the Kendall on June 17. SEE IT!

day 4.
I was running late getting to this, so I missed about 20-25 minutes of it. Foo.

"We're Leaving" (The first film, I missed this completely.)

"After You Left" (I only caught the second half of this.)

"Little Horses"

"Chainsaw Found Jesus"

A music video of paper cutout animated re-creations of scenes from the STAR WARS trilogy to a sweet original(?) song entitled "Tatooine." I can't not love it =)

LOVE IT. A neo-La Jetee.

"Ich Bin's Helmut"
LOVE IT. Helmut's wife has prepared a huge non-celebration in honor of his 60th birthday. However, she's miscounted. It's actually his 57th. Helmut looks back on his friends, family, and the passions and accomplishments of his life, and they appear before him. A lovely bit of this-is-your-life whimsy involving an amazing single continuous shot and clever stage and set craft.

IFFB | trailerAddict
Mostly dig it, but can't recommend it to everyone. If you're in the mood for a slow story that's more about an existentialist character portrait of a good-natured natural salesman, give it a view. I really like the wonderful lead, playing a gifted car salesman whose greatest joys, next to the pursuit of the sale, are his daughter and grandson. His daughter would like him to retire to spend more time living rather then selling, but he gently refuses, time after time, even now, as the prolonged "temporary" shutdown of the local paper mill threatens to destroy the community's economy, and effectively eliminating his potential customers. And what will he do when things go from bad to worst? It's a downer of a tale, but very well told. I was hoping for something a bit more... IKIRU, I guess, but, alas, not here. There is some really crisp imagery (the relentless snow of the area sets up some simple, beautiful shots thru showroom windows) that makes the slow pace worth it at times.

LOVE IT. You know, I like a good puzzle box of a film, and this is one of those. It's like Miranda July doing DONNIE DARKO, so, a puzzle box with much whimsy, wonkiness, and askew glances. =) Given the director's post-show Q&A, a puzzle box may not have been her plan, but it's how I read it. A young couple choose to adopt an injured cat. They have a month before they can actually pick him up from the shelter where he's recuperating. When they mark that day on a calendar, they talk themselves into a realization that Everything Will Change once they bring that cat home. They'll share a new kind of responsibility, and of course, the flip side of that, a new lack of freedom. This inspires them to make some radical changes, as if the day the cat arrives is the day they'll both die. These radical changes lead them down paths they never would have considered taking before, but ones that may reveal truths that even they didn't know about themselves. Can this one seemingly random event, the adoption of a cat, alter the course of the future and completely change their lives? Wacky fun ensues.

Allright, before I forget this stuff, I've gotta get down some *SPOILERY* thoughts. Skip to the next movie if you'd rather not know. *Okay, I ended up writing a lot more than I thought, and may write still more, so I'm just gonna put it all in a next post.

I've also seen BELLFLOWER, STAKELAND, and ON THE ICE, but hafta cut this post short here to head out for LITTLEROCK soon, and later, 13 ASSASSINS.

Keep on keepin on~