Archives For Film

In the grand scheme of things it’s good to remember that Brave is just a movie. That’s not to dismiss it, rather it’s a statement of fact. The film’s purpose is, like almost any film, to stimulate its audience. In this case it aims mostly to entertain, as well as illicit and emotional reaction. It’s possible to judge the film on this level alone. Does it achieve these basic goals? How well does it achieve them? This is the level most people will settle on in terms of their appreciation for the film.

There’s another set of criteria that gets attached to certain films, though. The first is a placement within a group, in the case of Brave this would amount to a measurement against other Pixar films. For other films it might be a comparative evaluation within a director’s body of work. Or a writer. Or an actor. Or anything. This sort of judgement is both fair and not. Judging Brave as “not up to par for Pixar” means very little for the film itself despite what it may say about the film within the given grouping and from the critic’s perspective. I have issues with judging a film this way, though I do acknowledge the usefulness of this sort of comparison. More problematic is burdening a film with a weight of necessary importance. The way I see it, Brave has struggled greatly with this kind of unfair weight. Click to read more.

I don’t get it. Every image I see. Every trailer released. Every piece of information I get. I look at this new Spider-Man movie and think, “I should be so excited for this movie,” but I’m just not. It doesn’t make any sense. All signs point to it being a cool movie, and likely the best Spider-Man movie so far, and still I’m not excited. What’s happening?

I was never a fan of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films. I liked the first film, thought the second one was boring, and the third film is a hot mess. When Sam Raimi left development on what was then Spider-Man 4 I couldn’t have been more pleases. A script by Zodiac‘s James Vanderbilt, directed by (500) Days of Summer‘s Marc Webb, starring Never Let Me Go‘s Andrew Garfield and my Superbad crush, Emma Stone? The Amazing Spider-Man was sure to be a step in the right direction. The weird part is, judging by the trailers, I think the movie is going to deliver.

So why am I not excited? Click to read more.

I just listened to a discussion about the death of film on the latest /Filmcast episode. I think the discussion was well-reasoned, and I liked that the guys didn’t take the luddite approach that I feel Scott Tobias mostly advocates. There is a place for nostalgia, but it’s not like we make movies with hand-cranked cameras for that beautiful variable frame rate and flicker anymore. Technology improves and changes and artists change and adapt to keep up.

There is one area that I think they did sort of gloss over, and which I think wasn’t perfectly expressed in the otherwise great LA Weekly article that set off the discussion, and that’s that this whole conversion to digital is being forced by studios for reasons of cost savings, but also sheer laziness. Digital filming and projection is the kind of change that needs to happen, but it can’t be pushed so forcefully before it’s 100% ready. While this conversion is the biggest the industry has seen since the advent of colour, colour film didn’t need brand new projectors and screens and server systems to run. But why would the studios care? The end cost generally falls on exhibitors. The studios give up very little. Click to read more.

I watch a lot of movies, and you probably do, as well. When it comes to the actual watching part I do have preferences. In an ideal world I would see every movie in a huge, glamorous theatre, with a well-dressed, well-behaved audience and not a single food item or cell phone. The audience would stay totally quiet, expect for laughing/gasping/screaming/whooping at the appropriate times. If the theatre features classic style inclined seating then I wouldn’t allow any tall people in unless they agreed to sit behind me. The image would be perfectly projected on 35mm or digital (for digitally shot films only) and would be constant-height so that scope films are truly the widest viewable on the screen. The sound would be THX certified and scalable to 7.1 surround. There wouldn’t be any ambient lighting whatsoever. Nobody would be allowed to enter or exit the auditorium during showtime.

THAT would be my preferred way to see a film in an ideal world. Of course, this isn’t an ideal world, and that has to be taken into account. Click to read more.

Another two weeks have gone by. Yes, I forgot once again. When I did remember to put a list of links together I also realized I hadn’t collected enough good links. Well, in the extra time I’ve found some quality links. I’ve got stuff from all over the interwebs and I hope you’ll enjoy it.

Links time! Click to read more.

This week I got to see a big screen presentation of the animated shorts nominated at the Oscars. Along with the five nominated films were four “highly commended” shorts, a welcome addition considering the five nominated shorts don’t even fill an hour of viewing. What I generally love about animated shorts is that they’re effectively silent films. Where live-action shorts generally try to be like small versions of the kinds of movies you might see at the art house, animated shorts tend to be conceived as a way of showing off skill in animation. That makes sense, of course, but the result is usually a total lack of dialogue, focusing on expression through character animation.

Onward, to the reviews! Click to read more.

Such a disappointment. I’d heard this book pimped by so many cinephiles, including the guys on Filmspotting. How could it possibly not live up? Easy Riders, Raging Bulls is Peter Biskind‘s book about the New Hollywood of the late-60s and 70s. It promised to run through everything. All the little details. A journalistic look at how the era came about and eventually faltered. Unfortunately I wasn’t told that the journalism was less New Yorker, more People Magazine. Click to read more.

Movies are amazing. Clearly. Objectively. Also amazing is learning about movies. I love it. The history of cinema is almost as fascinating as the movies themselves. Maybe even more interesting. Take for example, Apocalypse Now. I consider it the greatest film I’ve ever seen, and likely ever made. Yet the story behind the making of Apocalypse Now is perhaps crazier, more engaging and more entertaining than even the film itself. I’m a sucker for making-of docs and informative commentaries, but I also love documentaries with a wider focus.

I just had the pleasure of watching the documentary series, A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies. It’s a long title for a long series. Three parts, roughly four hours in total. There is so much information and insight in those four hours it’s almost difficult to keep up. Scorsese includes countless clips from classics and forgotten classics of studio-era Hollywood. There is only one major problem with the film: it isn’t long enough. That four hours could have been twenty-four hours and it probably wouldn’t have satisfied me. Click to read more.

The “Whoa…” Moment

February 7, 2012 — 37 Comments

One of the greatest pleasures of moviegoing is the “Whoa…” moment. It’s that point in a movie where something so amazing happens your jaw drops to the floor and your brain momentarily ceases all rational function. Sometimes it comes about because of some incredible plot twist, though that’s quite rare. Usually it’s the product of an incredible image, often aided by special effects, that stretches the definition of awe and cool. But how do these moments come about, and has the proliferation of CGI killed off the “Whoa…” moment? Click to read more.

I was never a big fan of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films. The first film was a decent comic book movie. The second took a cheesy style and tried to make it serious. I wasn’t buying it. And, of course, the less said about the third film the better. What always bothered me with the Raimi films was their lack of interest in the world of Spider-Man. They are visually bland films whose tone fluctuated wildly between comic book silliness and operatic melodrama.

When I heard Marc Webb was helming a reboot of the franchise I perked up. (500) Days of Summer is one of my favourite films of the last few years, and I saw in Webb a guy who would be able to find tonal consistency in an inherently silly property. By the looks of this new trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man, Webb has succeeded. It looks genuinely funny and playful, but also realistically moody and dramatic. I like the looks of Andrew Garfield. I love Emma Stone for reasons. Even Lizard looks pretty cool. All in all, colour me excited. Watch the trailer below: