23 December 2008

blogus interuptus part quatro: a preamble of things to come

time flies. due to extreme exhaustion, i've, yet again, been neglecting my happy home here.

there is a light at the end of the tunnel (not an on-coming train, i hope): i'm on vacation starting friday afternoon. i already have a few essays planned. i've been immersing myself in the works of francis ford coppola. specifically, i've been watching "apocalypse now redux" and "the conversation" a LOT lately. and, i have things to say about them. related to this, i've been re-reading my walter murch books.

all of this is in preparation for how i plan to spend at least part of my two week vacation: editing footage.

you see, my hope is to use my vacation to recharge my batteries and refill my artistic reservoir. both of these are on EMPTY. much of this is my fault: too many video games, not enough sleep, too much time being angry about the world (economy, specifically).

so, i've been gearing up for this over the past few weeks. i've tapered my video game playing down...not completely, but definitely less than the past few months. i've also been watching films that are challenging. i started with david lynch (specifically, blue velvet and inland empire). then, without really thinking about it or questioning it, i moved on to "apocalypse now redux" and "the conversation". all of these films (with the exception of "the conversation", which is a new acquisition) have been in my personal collection for a while now. the one thing that these films have in common (besides being amazing) is that they DEMAND my attention. i cannot be a passive viewer.

with luck and a little hard work, i'll be able to start my "redux" essay tomorrow night (after budget balancing and christmas gift wrapping).

04 November 2008

WE ARE MIGHTY!

i am so VERY proud to be an american.

i never thought that i would hear myself say those words, but there they are.

i've been watching cnn for the past few hours. i thought that this election night would drag on. at at 10:59pm, wolf blitzer announced that more results would be coming in. never in my wildest dreams did i expect to see the words "barack obama elected president" at 11:00pm.

we are the nation that has been ruled by FEAR for the past eight years.

we knew that this was going to be an historic election. for the first time in our nations history, we found ourselves at a very abrupt and literal fork in the road.

and tonight, all at once, we have joined together and have chosen HOPE.

i quote captain malcolm reynolds of the firefly class transport serenity:

we have done the impossible and that makes us MIGHTY.

remember that this is only the beginning. we've got a long hard road ahead...we've got an economy to fix and fences to mend all over the world.

tonight, though, i think that we've gotten a hell of a good start.

let's get to work.

03 November 2008

general update

*chris and i got together over a week ago and shot about 10 minutes of footage around downtown ann arbor in a few cool back alleys. i am now in the midst of learning the ropes of i-movie (when i'm not distracted by WoW, that is).

*the new fripp/eno remasters are FANFUCKINGTASTIC. i hope to write more about them in the near future. suffice it to say that they're well worth tracking down (i got mine at wazoo records here in ann arbor, but i also found them at borders, fyi).

*i've just discovered a band called "of montreal". you really need to check them out.

*i'd like to take this opportunity to give a hearty welcome to burns, web mistress of the blog "the rumpus room". she's a dear friend and an excellent writer. make with the clicky and add her blog to your bookmarks.

*no breakthroughs with my ear problems yet. i'm still getting bi-weekly acupuncture treatments which are helping a lot. for the first time since the injury, i listened to my album last week. i'm happy to report that, as long as i keep the volume at a moderate level, i can safely listen to it. it's strange, but i feel like those songs were recorded by someone else a long long time ago. i'm still in love with the album. i'm getting to a place where i want to release it into the wild. (sarah, keep those liner notes handy...i'll be needing them soon.)

*when i'm finished editing and i show the results to chris, i will share it with you.

*last but not least: tomorrow is a VERY VERY important day. not to sound like a PSA, but get out there and vote. for maybe the first time in our country's history, we're at a definitive crossroads. get out there and take a stand. i'll probably have more on this tomorrow or the day after that.

more later.

27 October 2008

The 12 Movies Meme (Week 2 of 2)

Welcome back, gentle readers. Now that I have completely frightened you and frazzled your wits, I want to expand your mind. For week 2 of our festival, we are traversing into the mighty mystical realms of

SCIENCE FICTION!

Fasten your seat belts, folks, because the rocket ship is about to take off.

MONDAY - "The Man with the Power"




This evening's films deal with the power of the mind. David Cronenberg appears yet again with his second film in the festival, "Scanners". This film represents another blend of science fiction and horror. A medical experiment gone awry produces a group of very powerful telepaths. These telepaths are so powerful that they can cause peoples heads to explode. This is Cronenberg at his finest. "Scanners" makes me wish that the powers that be would allow him to make an X-Men film.

Our second film of the evening is "Pi", the debut effort of Darren Aronofsky. Max Cohen is a gifted mathematician. Through his insight into numbers, he can see patterns in nature. Throughout the film, Max is chased by Hasidic cabalists who are trying to unlock the numerical mysteries of the Torah and by Wall Street extremists who believe that he can predict the stock market. "Pi" is a stellar example of science fiction as metaphor. Aronofsky made this film for $60,000...an unheard of budget for science fiction. He proved that you don't need gee-whiz special effects...you only need ideas and a tight script. This is a fantastic film and well worth your time.

TUESDAY - "The Future is Cancelled"




Tuesday's films deal with a very very bleak future. They are also two of the most notorious and controversial films of the entire festival. My goal for this evening is to traumatize the audience.

Kinji Fukasaku's "Battle Royale" kicks our evening off. Tokyo is suffering from a debilitating economic crisis. Crime is rampant and overrunning the streets, particularly amongst youth. To quell this crime, Japan enacts the Millennium Educational Reform Act, also called the Battle Royale Act. Each year, students from one class are selected. They are ushered onto a bus and told by their teacher that they are going on a field trip. Once the bus is underway, the students are knocked out by gas. They wake up on an abandoned island with strange collars around their necks, a survival pack and one random weapon. The rules are simple. They are to fight until there is only one left standing. If any student fails to participate, their collar will explode. Upon its release, the film ignited a storm of controversy and was condemned by Japanese parliament. To this day, "Battle Royale" has never officially been released in theaters or on home video in the United States.

This evening's second film is Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange". Based on the novel by Anthony Burgess, it tells the story of Alex DeLarge, leader of a gang known as the Droogs. The Droogs fancy the ultra-violence, spending their time assaulting, raping and pillaging everything and everyone in their path. When Alex is arrested, he volunteers to undergo the Ludovico technique, an experimental procedure that uses an extreme form of aversion therapy to ween violent impulses. It is impossible to overstate the controversy that this film generated. The Catholic Church condemned it as immoral...Kubrick and his family received death threats (Kubrick convinced Warner Brothers to withdraw the film from British theaters)...the MPAA gave the film an "X" rating. It is important to recognize that Kubrick and Burgess were making a commentary on violence and society. At no point in either the film or the book do they glorify or condone the violence. They are simply holding up a mirror and asking society to take a look.

WEDNESDAY - "The Final Frontier"




This evening features one of my absolute favourite forms of science fiction: space opera.

"Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" is the best film of the long-running series. It is one of the few films based on a TV series that makes a successful leap from episodic to cinematic. I'll spare you a general description of "Star Trek" because it has completely permeated and embedded itself into our zeitgeist. "Wrath of Khan" deals with the operatic battle between Admiral James T. Kirk and his archnemesis Khan. Expertly directed by Nicholas Meyer, this film features great performances by William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and Ricardo Montalban. It also has a killer score composed by James Horner. This is one of my favourite films. (Personal Sidenote: The ceti-eel sequence still gives me the creeps.)

"Serenity" is another film that makes a successful leap from episodic to cinematic. Based on the short-lived TV series "Firefly", "Serenity" is the feature film debut of Joss Whedon, one of the world's best storytellers. The series and film tell the story of a ragtag group of space travelers. The story is a little too vast to summarize here (which is typical of Whedon's stories). Suffice it to say that this film and TV series are well worth your time.

THURSDAY - "Tears In Rain"





Tonight, we explore the emotional side of science fiction with two films that are criminally underrated. We will kick off this evening's festivities with a special screening of Chris Marker's half-hour short film "La Jetee". In the aftermath of World War III, a group of Parisian survivors experiment with time travel in an attempt to save humanity. If this sounds familiar to you, it's because Marker's short was the inspiration for Terry Gilliam's film "Twelve Monkeys". Marker crafted a haunting, emotional and powerful film.

Our first full length feature, "Solaris", is based on the book by Stanislaw Lem and the 1972 Russian film by Andrei Tarkovsky. Directed by Steven Soderbergh, the film takes place on a space station orbiting Solaris, an oceanic planet. A mishap occurs on the station. Psychologist Chris Kelvin (brilliantly portrayed by George Clooney) is sent to there to assess the mental status of the crew. Kelvin wants to escape from the grief of his wife's suicide. Upon arriving at the station, he discovers that most of the crew is dead. The surviving members won't explain the cause. Later, Kelvin encounters his wife, in the flesh. "Solaris" is an amazing film. Soderberg and company use science fiction as a metaphor for grieving and loss. This also features one of Clooney's best performances.

We close the evening with Darren Aronofsky's "The Fountain". The film takes place in three separate time periods: the 16th Century past, the present and an undetermined distant future. The less that you know about this film in advance, the better. Suffice it to say that it, too, uses science fiction as a metaphor for grieving and loss. "The Fountain" also features what is, in my opinion, Hugh Jackman's finest performance. One piece of advice: don't try to figure this film out while you're watching it. Just let it wash over you and talk about it afterwards.

FRIDAY - "Gilliam's World"




We dedicate tonight to the vision of Terry Gilliam. The films, "Brazil (Director's Cut)" and "Twelve Monkeys" are portray two different dystopic futures. In "Brazil", the dystopia is caused by government and bureaucracy. As previously discussed, "Twelve Monkeys" is based on Chris Marker's "La Jetee". The films of Terry Gilliam are better experienced than described. I'll let the films speak for themselves.

SATURDAY - "More Human Than Human"



We close our festival with my favourite film of all time. Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner" is the culmination of everything that I love in film. Everything from art direction to music to cinematography to acting to special effects is pitch perfect. The stories behind the making and release of this film are infamous. Principal photography ran over budget. Ridley Scott was briefly fired. Upon release, the film tanked at the box office. However, the advent of cable television and home video gave "Blade Runner" a second chance and a cult following developed.

There are five separate versions of "Blade Runner". The version that we will be viewing this evening is Ridley Scott's "Final Cut". Released as part of a deluxe boxed set last year, "Final Cut" is Scott's definitive version of the film. It is digitally restored. Some of the more obvious continuity flaws have been fixed. (Not to worry...these fixes do not sacrifice the quality of the film or the story in any way.) As a special treat, "Final Cut" will be projected in its new full digital cinema 4K glory.

With that, this festival ends. There are many films that I left out due to time constraints...I might relay them to you in a postscript at some point later on. I invite you to discuss, agree or disagree with my choices in the comments section below.

FIN

26 October 2008

blogus interruptus part tres: the sequel to a sequel

well, it appears that i've, once again, been lax in my blogging duties. we'll chalk this up to general life stuff, being busy, WoW-ing and working.

i am in the midst of capping part two of my "12 Movies Meme" series. if all goes well, i should be able to post it tomorrow.

in other news, chris and i went out to ann arbor last night and started filming.

that's right...filming. chris purchased his camera a few months back. we shot around ten minutes of footage. the plan is to edit the footage into a music video for one of the tracks off of my album. this will be a good way to get used to non-linear editing software.

so, in addition to being more attentive here, i'll be editing film for the first time ever.

i will soon be able to add the word "cineast" to my resume amongst "engineer" and "musician".

suffice it to say, i've been waiting a long fucking time for this moment.

more later.

04 September 2008

blogus interuptus part deux

we've reached yet another bump in our blogging. i am currently in the midst of moving to a new apartment. i'm exhausted and we've got two more days to go before we have to close out the old apartment and have everything out. i am expecting tomorrow to be a very long day indeed.

however, i want to bridge the gap between "12 movies meme" installments by giving you a bit of entertainment.

while i was checking my hotmail account, i noticed that i had something in the "draft" folder. i couldn't remember what i put there.

to put this in perspective, here's a little history: ten years ago, i used to send out mass emails to my friends. the emails would be film reviews and top ten best films and albums of the year. this was before the days of blogging.

this is what i found in my "draft" folder (from EIGHT years ago):

dear friends,

i have just seen what is, quite possibly, the worst film ever made. what is that you ask? worse than waterworld? yes. worst than batman and robin? most definately. what is the name of my pain, you ask? the name of my pain is....

MISSION TO MARS.

do all of you remember how the film jurassic park never really had an ending? well, mission to mars never really starts. it just sits there. like a wet noodle. i am not exagerating when i say that i've seen kevin costner films that are better. allow me to give you the plot (insert copious amounts of soap opera, boo-hooing, and pretentiousness throughout).

it starts out the night before the mission. they go on the mission. the mission goes fubar. they send a rescue team. that mission almost goes fubar. they (miraculously) have enough to fix the escape craft. they discover the secret to life, the universe, and everything (which, in this case, is NOT 42). they escape.

there. i have just saved you between $5.50 and $10.00 (depending on where you live). what's that? who is "they"? that's the sad part about it, folks. it just doesn't matter. all of the cast members in this film are beyond wasted.

i will close with a quote from my best friend jerry:

"this film went from boring to pretentious."

thank you for your time and patience. and remember, you have been warned.

--joey


i have no idea why i never sent this out. having recently seen "mission to mars" on cable, i still agree with everything that i said in the email. and now that i have this blog, i can relay this vital information to you, my gentle and humble readers.

even though it's eight years late, the information is still important.

26 August 2008

The 12 Movies Meme (Week 1 of 2)

Chick Young from Trash Aesthetics has tagged me.

Here is the scenario that was posed to him by Ross from Anchorwoman in Peril!:

"Tag! You’re it... Or rather I’m it – at least for the rest of this post – because AiP has been tagged to take part in The 12 Movies Meme by Piper at Lazy Eye Theatre. Inspired by Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody’s recently announced programme for the New Beverly Cinema, Piper is asking other bloggers to imagine their own ideal twelve-night movie stint, preferably with some sort of thread uniting the whole thing."

The meme curse demands that I tag five other people when my list is done. The problem is that I don't know five other people who regularly maintain blogs. In lieu of tagging, I am altering the rules. In my opinion, not being able to tag other people demands that I make the imaginary film festival grander. So, what I am going to do is program the ULTIMATE science fiction/horror film festival. What do I mean by "ULTIMATE"? I mean 13 consecutive nights of quality cinema. Each night will present a different theme that science fiction and horror stories typically explore. Furthermore, the lines between science fiction and horror are often blurred. A theme that is presented on one night will very likely crop up on a different night when we are exploring another theme. Also, the night will typically be organized into classic film and modern film (although we'll depart from this from time to time). Finally, why science fiction and horror? As the old saying goes "write what you know". Avid readers of this blog know that science fiction and horror are my bag. Always have been.

And now, commence au festival!

MONDAY - "The Terror from Beyond Space!"



To kickoff the festival, we're going to explore a classic paradigm in science fiction / horror: the alien menace. Our first film, "Planet of the Vampires", was released by American International Pictures in 1965. Mario Bava, the Italian grandmaster of horror cinema, co-wrote and directed. The film tells the story of an interplanetary expedition that receives a distress signal from a distant planet. When they reach the desolate planet, each member of the expedition becomes possessed. I chose this film to open the festival because I believe that it is one of the nexus points of science fiction and horror cinema. Not only did it heavily inspire our second film of the evening (more on that in a moment), but I see parallels with "Planet of the Vampires" and George A. Romero's "Night of the Living Dead", which ushered in an entirely separate genre in horror (more on this later in the festival).

Our second film, "Alien", was released by 20th Century Fox in 1979. Written by Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett and directed by Ridley Scott, this is quite simply one of my all time favourite films. The basic plot is the same: a group of interplanetary miners are on their way home with a large shipment of ore when they receive an eerie distress signal of unknown origin. What follows is one of the scariest films ever made. Ridley Scott raised the B-movie origins of this film to high art. He and co-writer O'Bannon were very astute and hired conceptual artist H.R. Giger to design the alien stowaway. This is also the first time in our festival in which we see the lines blur between science fiction and horror. While the film shares some of the same furniture as science fiction (space exploration), it is primarily a horror film. It contains one of the landmark scenes in the genre, commonly referred to as the "chest-burster" scene. "Alien" is a truly stunning achievement in science fiction/horror cinema. (Personal Note: I was after both of my parents to let me see "Alien". They thought I was too young. This went on for quite a few years. Then, one fateful summer afternoon when I was 11, my mom went out. She came home with VHS rentals of both "Alien" and "Aliens". Mom said "Have fun" to both my dad and I and left us alone to watch...a very memorable and impressionable afternoon.)

TUESDAY - "Who Goes There?"



The second night of the festival will examine another classic science fiction / horror paradigm: things that go bump in the night. Tonight is special, because we're going to open with a classic Twilight Zone episode called "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street". Written by Rod Serling, this segment shows what happens when the power goes out in a sleepy suburb. It is a very clever and thought provoking examination of prejudice and paranoia through the lens of science fiction and horror. I grew up watching reruns of The Twilight Zone on Detroit WXON Channel 20 every weekday afternoon after school. This episode is a personal favourite. It also dovetails quite nicely into this evening's features.

The first feature is "John Carpenter's The Thing", inspired by the novella "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell and the 1951 film "The Thing from Another World". Kurt Russell is a member of a scientific expedition in the Arctic. The expedition discovers a UFO that was buried in the ice millions of years ago. Its inhabitant has he ability to perfectly copy lifeforms right down to the DNA. This is a dynamite nailbiter of a film, examining fear and paranoia. The spider head sequence ranks up there with the chestburster sequence from "Alien" ("Oh you've gotta be fucking kidding!"). It is also another classic "I wasn't allowed to watch this as a child" film.

Tuesday's second feature is Neil Marshall's "The Descent", one of the four modern horror films in the festival that I think stands toe-to-toe with the classics. A group of women go on a spelunking trip in the Appalachian mountains. Something (or things?) pick off the ladies one-by-one. While it may sound derivative, "The Descent" will make your heart leap out of your chest. And, not only is it scary, the film has brilliant character development. You get to know each character. The tension in the film comes from the relationships between the characters in addition to the things that go bump in the night.

WEDNESDAY - "Danse Macabre"




The third night of our festival showcases films based on the works of Stephen King. adaptations of Mr. King's work has been...spotty at best. However, there are a few gems out there. One of those gems was last year's "The Mist" adapted and directed by Frank Darabont. A small town in Maine is suddenly enveloped by a dense mist that rolls in off of the lake. The mist traps residents of the town in a local supermarket. When night falls, creatures great and small emerge from the mist. Folks, this one is an absolute nail-biter and is the second of four modern horror films in the festival. This is Darabont's third film adaptation of King's work (the others being "The Shawshank Redemption" and "The Green Mile").

Our second film is "The Shining" from the legendary Stanley Kubrick. Jack Torrence, a struggling writer, brings his wife and son to the overlook hotel for a winter caretaker job. Torrence thinks that he'll be able to complete his novel amidst the isolation. However, the isolation slowly drives Jack insane...his son is psychic...the hotel is haunted. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. This film is controversial amongst the King fans because it's not a very faithful adaptation of the book. However, it is an AMAZING kubrick film. Whatever kind of film Kubrick tried to make (science fiction, film noir, swords/sandals epic, etc.), he always strived to make the defining film of the genre. "The Shining" is no exception. It is one of the finest haunted house films ever made.

THURSDAY - "Possession"




Tonight, we will start out with another excellent episode of "The Twilight Zone" called "The Howling Man". This episode, written by Charles Beaumont, is about a man who is lost in Eastern Europe and discovers a castle. Since this is the Twilight Zone, the castle is a prison for Satan himself. This episode is another personal favourite and features the legendary John Carradine in the role of the Devil's jailer.

The episode also sets up the theme for this evening's films. Tonight, we bear witness to demons. Our first film, Ingmar Bergman's "Persona", is not strictly a horror film, per se. However, the characters of the film (a nurse and her psychiatric patient) seem haunted throughout the entire film. The film also starts out with a devastating montage in which it seems that the very fabric of the film is possessed.

This brings us to our second feature of the evening: THE EXORCIST. Why the capital letters? Because this is one of the scariest films ever made. The plot is simple: young Regan MacNeil is possessed by the demon Pazuzu. The film, written by William Peter Blatty (based on his novel) and directed by William Friedkin, is a textbook example of how to scare people. Once again, the very fabric of the film seems to be possessed.

My choice to pair these two films is based on an essay written by film historian Tim Lucas, which can be found here: http://videowatchdog.blogspot.com/search?q=captain+howdy . This extremely enlightening essay outlines the visual and thematic similarities between the two films.

FRIDAY - "Hell Awaits"



This evening's selections have one very simple theme in common: visceral gore. Lots of it. We open with "Suspiria", co-written and directed by the Italian grandmaster of horror Dario Argento. Ballet student Suzy Banyon travels to Europe to attend an exclusive ballet school. Little does she know that it is run by witches. We spend the duration of the film following Suzy as she witnesses each of her classmates die in varying grisly ways. Argento is not known for his narratives (in other words, he is horrible at plotting). However, the supernatural theme allows Argento to rely on dream logic. This is fantastic stuff and is my favourite of Argento's work.

Friday's second feature is also our first sequel of the festival: "Hellbound: Hellraiser II". Fret not dear readers. You don't need to see the first "Hellraiser" in order to understand the second. "Hellbound" does a very good job of recapping the events of the first film. Based on a story by Clive Barker, "Hellbound" continues the story of Kirsty. The film opens with Kirsty in an insane asylum. She has been committed after her experiences in the first film. The asylum is run by Doctor Channard. As is usual in horror films, the good doctor is not what he seems. He is trying to unlock a puzzle box known as the Lament Configuration, which opens the gates to Hell. Unfortunately, Hell is inhabited by the Cenobites. These are particularly vicious creatures led by the infamous Pinhead. This film has been a favourite of mine since grade school (your humble narrator is very sick). It is my pleasure to unleash its horrors upon you, my gentle readers.

SATURDAY - "They Came From Within"




Saturday's films deal with critters that burrow their way into human bodies and control their every move. YUM! The first film, "Shivers", is an early classic written and directed by David Cronenberg (the first of two of his films in this festival). A Montreal doctor discovers a parasite infestation in his apartment community. The parasites cause a drastic increase in the sexual appetite in their hosts. Cronenberg uses "Shivers" to explore one of his classic themes: body horror. (He went on to explore this theme further in later films such as "Rabid", "The Brood", "Videodrome" and "Dead Ringers" amongst others.) Rather than go for the simple gross-out horror, Cronenberg explores sexual mores and politics through the lens of the horror film.

Inspired by "Shivers", writer/director James Gunn made "Slither", the third of four modern horror films in our festival. However, where "Shivers" was serious, "Slither" is hilarious. A meteorite lands in a sleepy town, bringing with it an evil alien parasite. Gunn pays homage to quite a few classic horror films (many of them are in this festival). This film is a blast...equal parts funny and scary. It also features a knock-out performance by Nathan Fillion.

SUNDAY - "The Dead Shall Walk The Earth"




We close the first week of our festival with the mother of all horror themes: ZOMBIES! We're going to do something a little different tonight. This evening features an original film and its remake. George A. Romero's zombie films are legendary. The second film in the series, "Dawn of the Dead", has an interesting history: Dario Argento contacted Romero and asked him to make a sequel to "Night of the Living Dead". Romero accepted. Controversy followed the film due to its graphic content. The MPAA gave it an X rating, the kiss of death for box office success. Undaunted, Romero released the film unrated and made a boat-load of cash. The story of the film doesn't stop here. Part of the deal between Romero and Argento gave Argento final cut of the film in international markets. The story remains the same for all cuts: survivors of the zombie holocaust find refuge in a local shopping mall. While Romero uses the zombie film as biting social satire, Argento focuses on the visceral horror. Argento also chose to use more music from the band Goblin, who scored the majority of Argento's films back in the day. It is Argento's cut that we will be viewing this evening. This is simply the author's preference and should take nothing away from Romero's original cut, which is great in its own right.

The second feature is the 2004 remake, the fourth and final modern horror film in our festival. Written by James Gunn (with uncredited re-writes by Michael Tolkin and Scott Frank) and directed by Zach Snyder, the basic plot again features survivors of the zombie holocaust finding refuge in a shopping mall. That is where the similarities end. This is the quintessential existentialist horror film. The lengthy pre-opening credit sequence establishes our main character: nurse Ana Clark is just leaving her shift at the hospital. Numerous patients are brought in for mysterious bite-wounds. We follow Ana home. She is happily greeted by one of the neighborhood children. Her husband is waiting for her so they can enjoy a date night. Early the next morning, they are awoken by the child...only she has been turned into a zombie. She bites Ana's husband, who is turned into a zombie within moments. What follows is a hair-raising escape sequence that leads into one of the great opening credits sequences (all to the score of Johnny Cash's "The Man Comes Around"). I love this film. I love this film even more than the original (and I love the original a LOT). It plays to my sensibilities of horror cinema: it must be BLEAK. It is the perfect capper to the first week of our two week festival.

When next we meet, WEEK TWO!!!!

19 August 2008

personal note to chick young

nicko - work on the 12 movies meme has commenced. it's slow-going, but i like what i'm seeing. i have to rewatch 5 of the films on the list...mostly because it's been awhile since i've seen them and i need to make sure that my memory isn't playing tricks on me. so, not only do i get to exercise my writing skills, but i also get to rewatch a lot of old favourites. i hope that the results are worth the wait.

ever onward.

18 August 2008

Terry Pratchett

i just stumbled on this article over at bbc:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/7560713.stm

writer terry pratchett describes his life with altzheimer's disease. even though i don't suffer from altzheimer's, i can relate to some of what mr. pratchett talks about in regard to living life with a chronic ailment.

i find his outlook inspiring. and i also really like his key philosophies: make room for it, surround yourself with toys and make life interesting.

09 August 2008

blogus interruptus

there will be a pause in the updates for the time being. my sister and i are in the midst of getting ready to move to a different apartment. packing, painting, moving, working and additional life stuff prevent me from updating at this time.

fret not, though, fearless readers...always returning will indeed return. in what little spare time that i do have, i've been working on a new essay. this essay has been started at the behest of my good friend, resident exploitation film expert and all around madman chick young over at trash aesthetics.

(personal note to chick - in addition to the lack of time, the reason that this is taking so long is that i'm altering the meme rules. what i'm working up is a bit...vast. be patient...all will make sense...hopefully sooner rather than later.)

the next post is going to be a lot of fun. for a bit of insight into what i'm working on, treat yourself by surfing on over to trash aesthetics.

23 July 2008

more comic book films, etc.

during a break at work earlier today, i checked the website for the compuware arena drive-in. turns out that, starting friday, they will be showing hellboy II: the golden army. this is the third film that i have wanted to see this summer. the best part? they're showing it as a double feature with the dark knight.

the dark knight will be shown first. make no mistake about it, this will make for a very LONG evening. TDK clocks in at 2hr 30min. i'll probably try to go on saturday evening, weather permitting. that way, i can rest during the day.

in other news, i am in the middle of reading a LOT of harlan ellison essays. i finished the collections called "an edge in my voice" and "watching". you should consider both of these books required reading. currently, i am reading "the glass teat", which is a collection of his essays on television criticism. (i was able to track down used first print copies of this and the companion collection "the other glass teat".) i might start reading samuel r. delany's novel "dhalgren". his novel "nova" was a direct inspiration of william gibson's "neuromancer" and is also required reading. i'm also trying to find novels by thomas m. disch, who is considered to be one of the giants of science fiction literature. unfortnately, he committed suicide earlier this month. i don't know much about him and i think it's high time i rectify that.

finally, i have been feeling...stagnant lately, from an artistic standpoint. it's my own fault. i have a lot of distractions in my life. writing, when i can concentrate, sooths some of the stagnation, but overall it ain't doing it. i'm thinking about taking a photography class. the object would be to train my eye so that i'm in a better position to write a script.

then again, this could be another distraction. any advice that you may have is welcome. also, if you'd like to light a fire under my arse, be my guest.

and now, slumbertime.

19 July 2008

The Dark Knight

it is not a secret that my hearing issues prevent me from going into movie theaters. with the surround sound, the loud volume and the subwoofers it just isn't safe for me anymore.

however, i am happy to report that the compuware arena in plymouth (just a scant 15-20 minutes away) runs a drive-in during the summer. and, they get first run films. earlier this summer, i was able to see "iron man" (a fantastic film that everyone in the studio audience should go to see).

last night, i was able to see "the dark knight".

a little bit of history for you, my gentle audience:

batman is probably my favourite comic book character. with the senseless murder of his parents in the back alleys of gotham city, bruce wayne stared into the face of horror, fear and adversity. most people would crumble, but wayne used his anger and guilt to turn himself into a legend...something that criminals would fear. he doesn't have superpowers...he is an olympic class athlete, possesses a keen intellect and is a world class detective.

as a kid who was bullied and teased and picked-on, batman was a true breath of fresh air. comic books such as alan moore's "the killing joke", grant morrison's "arkham asylum", frank miller's "the dark knight returns" and "year one" and jeph loeb's "the dark halloween", "dark victory" and "hush" are essential tales of the batman. "batman the animated series" (featuring the talents of bruce timm, paul dini and alan burnett) was an amazing series that captured the spirit of the books.



and then we have the tim burton/joel schumacher films. i make no apologies about the fact that i am not a fan of tim burton. when i first saw his version of "batman" on the big screen, i loved it. however, time has not been kind to his two batman films. to say that they are dated is being kind.

the less said about joel schumacher, the better.

in early 2004, there was word in the fan community that warner brothers was planning on relaunching the batman franchise. i held my breath...would they finally capture the spirit of batman on film? at first, it was rumoured that director wolfgang peterson would be directing "batman vs. superman", with jude law as superman (i forget who they were getting to play batman). thankfully, this never came to pass. then, it was rumoured that ashton kutcher would be assuming the mantle of the dark knight. again, this never happened. writer/director darren aronofsky ("PI", "requiem for a dream" and "the fountain") worked on a treatment for bringing frank miller's "year one" to the big screen. this fell apart in the development stage.



and then, things actually got interesting. warner brothers hired christopher nolan to relaunch the franchise. as a fan of "memento", this naturally got my attention. nolan, in turn, hired david s. goyer to collaborate on the story and script with him. this also got my attention...goyer is a very good comic book writer and screenwriter in his own right.

the big question that lingered over this project, at least for me, is who are they going to hire to play batman? my hope was that they would get christian bale. he has the gravitas, the intelligence and physical stature to play the part. also, he is an intense, amazing actor. just watch him in "the machinist" or "equilibrium" or "american psycho".

thankfully, nolan, goyer and warner brothers thought the same thing. in addition, they decided to surround bale with other equally amazing performers. with michael caine as alfred, morgan freeman as lucius fox, gary oldman as jim gordon and liam neeson as ducard, my anticipation for this new batman film (to be called "batman begins") reached a fever pitch.

upon it's release in the summer of 2005, i wasn't disappointed. "batman begins" soon entered my list of top ten favourite films of all time. simply put, they got it. everyone who was involved in that production understood what batman is. they infused the film with the spirit of all of the best batman stories.

as you can no doubt tell, my anticipation for "the dark knight" reached...is there actually something higher than a fever pitch? because if there is, then that's what i had. this time, our intrepid dark knight would face off against his archnemesis the joker. i was slightly concerned...i didn't want the production to go for stunt casting. (this, in my opinion, is one of the many reasons why tim burton's batman fails...jack nicholson did not play the joker, he simply played himself...but i digress.) i was elated when they announced that heath ledger would be playing the joker. ledger was a world class actor. i had no qualms that he would disappear into the role.

but enough with the history lesson.



how was the film?

i find it difficult to review it without going into hyperbole and overselling it, but i don't care:

"the dark knight" is a breathtaking experience. once again, the filmmakers have nailed it. they understand batman and have captured the spirit of his stories hook, line and sinker. this film is nothing less than the best of comic book cinema infused with the sensibilities of crime films such as "heat", "the godfather" and "goodfellas".

i will only give you a very general plot synopsis, because i don't want to spoil the experience for you. "the dark knight" takes place right after "batman begins". organized crime is in the midst of a power vacuum due to batman's efforts in the first film. enter the joker. all of this oscar talk is not an exaggeration. heath ledger completely disappears into this role. ledger's joker would make darth vader, hannibal lector and leatherface piss in their collective pants. the joker is a force of nature. he wreaks havoc for the pleasure and for the chaos, not for the base human desires of wealth or fame. ledger's performance is on the same level as javier bardem's portrayal of anton chigurh in "no country for old men". what makes the joker even scarier is the fact that the filmmakers do NOT give him an origin story. he storms into gotham city whole cloth. we don't need to know where the joker comes from. the only thing that matters is that he exists.

this film presents us with the best depiction of the relationship between batman and the joker. there are many memorable moments in this film, but my favourite piece of dialogue is spoken by the joker to batman:

"This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object."

i didn't think that it was possible to distill the batman/joker dynamic into a single sentence, but there it is.

in addition, the filmmakers once again wisely chose to surround bale and ledger with a world class acting troupe featuring gary oldman, aaron eckhart, maggie gyllenhaal, michael caine and morgan freeman. because of these craftspeople, you believe that gotham city is real. you believe that a millionaire playboy dresses up as a bat and fights crime. you believe that the joker really exists.



talk of a third film started even before the release of "the dark knight". let's not distract ourselves with this. let us, you and i, bask in the glory of this amazing film.

simply put, if you only see one film this summer, make it "the dark knight". and see it in IMAX, because i've heard that it's even more jawdropping.

now, if you'll excuse me, i think i might watch "batman begins" again.

28 June 2008

The Short Tale of the Blog Entry That Never Was

last week, i spoke of a post that i was planning on writing about the recent behind the scenes upheaval at dc comics.

a funny thing happened on the way to the forum:

i simply lost interest. it turned out to be, as shakespeare put it, a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury, yet signifying nothing. if you look at the websites that i linked to, you'll see that a LOT of people are chattering about this topic. and, to tell you the truth, there really isn't a whole lot to talk about after all.

so, i'm moving on. i have a few other ideas brewing.

more later.

23 June 2008

George Carlin RIP



as my friend dave said when he heard the news this morning:

suddenly, the world's a little less interesting.

george carlin died last night of heart failure at the age of 71. it is very difficult for me to speak about him in the past tense. so, if you'll indulge me, i'm going to speak about him in the present tense.

about twenty years ago, jerry (one of my best friends) introduced me to the work of george carlin. george is one of my heroes. one of my absolute heroes...he's up there with harlan ellison. they share something in common in that they're both pissed off. i aspire to be as pissed off as they are. why? because of the way in which they express their anger.

george carlin is elequent. he is every bit the musician that miles davis, john coltrane and charlie parker. his chosen instrument: the english language. the way in which he puts sentences together...the construction is intricate, beautiful and fearless. he also makes robin williams' most vulgar routines sound like disney by comparison.

case in point - arguably his most famous routine, the seven words you can't say on TV. this routine became a lightning rod for the FCC:



another favourite topic of his is religion. his opinion - religion is bullshit. as a survivor of twelve years of Catholic school education, this routine resonates with me (apropos of nothing, for those of you out there in the studio audience who are curious - i am not an atheist...any further details on this subject are not really appropriate for this entry...sorry for the interruption, we now return you to your regularly scheduled eulogy):



this is what he had to say about the ten commandments:



he often spoke about environmentalists. he has a very strong opinion about saving the planet. this is another routine that resonates with me. i went to school at michigan technological university, one of the top engineering colleges in the country. my major was in civil-structural engineering. some of my classmates majored in civil-environmental engineering. i got along with them just fine. their professors, however, were assholes. they are the people that george is talking about:



my absolute favourite routine of george's, though, has to be the airline announcements. any of you out there who have flown know EXACTLY what he is talking about. this is probably the only routine of his that i can recite by heart (almost...my mind is getting a bit fuzzy lately):



i implore all of you who are reading this to join me in raising a glass and toasting george.

goodbye, old friend. you will be deeply missed.

20 June 2008

Comic Book Geekdom

this will be a very short one before i go out with friends.

for my next post, i plan on writing an essay/editorial/review on what has been going on at DC comics. i have only recently dipped my toes back into the DC comics waters after a rather lengthy absence. i'll get into this with more depth when i post the essay. however, there is a LOT of info to digest. in addition to specific directly related titles that i have read, here are a few articles that i plan on using as background:

(A NOTE FROM THE MANAGER: apologies for the lack of HTML acumen...blogger doesn't want to cooperate with me today...kindly copy paste the addresses into your browser.)

http://io9.com/5016959/dc-comics-heading-for-major-shake+up

http://www.newsarama.com/comics/080612-DixonNoDC.html

http://www.newsarama.com/comics/080609-MorrisonFC01.html

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2008/06/13/fridays-editorial-conference/

if you like, skim them. it's really interesting stuff if you're a fan of comic books at all.

the plan is to write the post tomorrow after acupuncture while i'm convalescing.

ttfn.

18 June 2008

In The Name Of All Things Sacred, PAY The Man!

i will say it right out:

i love this man. who am i professing my love for? his name is harlan ellison. he is, without a single solitary doubt, one of the great writers of all time. he is the quintessential angry young man.

however, you will want to get two things straight about him. just two:

1/ NEVER EVER EVER call him a science fiction writer.

2/ ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS pay the man for his services.



i plan on writing more about mister ellison in a future post. for now, please enjoy the video shown above.

16 June 2008

RIP Stan Winston

at the behest of chick young, kind proprietor of "trash aesthetic", i was going to start a series of informative blogs, beginning with a list of my favourite filmmakers and what they mean to me on a personal level (this is still forthcoming). however, it is my sad duty to announce the passing of special effects legend stan winston.



stan winston is responsible for some of the greatest achievements in feature film special effects. he was a true pioneer and stands shoulder to shoulder with ray harryhausen. my first exposure to his work was in the films of james cameron's "the terminator".



he also helped rob bottin and john carpenter with the effects on "john carpenter's the thing" (one of my absolute favourite films of all time). rob bottin was overwhelmed with the effects work and needed a hand. so, stan winston created the mutated dog sequence, one of the scariest scenes in the film.



his work on aliens was just staggering. stan extended and improved upon h.r. giger's design from the original film with the alien queen puppet.



finally, he revolutionized CGI and animatronic puppetry in "jurassic park". despite the fact that i was not a huge fan of the film, i completely lost myself in winston's effects work. i truly believed that dinosaurs again walked the earth.



winston revolutionized the world of film effects. his work is the stuff of nightmares and fantasy. please, treat yourself and watch the above noted films.

rest in piece, stan. you will be missed.

14 June 2008

neuromancer and convalescence

just finished reading neuromancer for the fifth time. i am shocked and amazed (pleasantly so) at how vital this book still is for me. i tried rereading it a few years ago and it didn't take. i assumed that i had moved on. thankfully, i was wrong. now wondering what i'm going to read next. i think i'm going to start count zero, which is the second book in william gibson's "sprawl" saga. i have only read it once, and that was way back when i first read neuromancer in 1995. it should be interesting. i don't remember anything about it.

no movement on writing. i've been bitten by the world of warcraft bug. will try to write after i post this entry. i am trying to kick my t.v. repairman story loose again. we'll see what happens.

i have also spent the past few saturdays convalescing at home. my acupuncture schedule was recently switched from tuesday evenings to saturday mornings. one of the caveats of this new style of acupuncture that i'm trying is that i have to stay off of my feet and relax for the remainder of the day. i'm hoping to get my schedule switched back to tuesday evenings, because, while i do enjoy relaxing, i also like to get out on the weekends.

i would also like to take this opportunity to again turn your attention to my good friend nick's blog trash aesthetics, which can be found here. he is doing work that, in my humble opinion, is simply staggering. he takes the simple idea of the top ten list and turns it into an artform. his "gone to bed" series is also excellent. well done, mate.

and now, it's time for me to shake some writing loose.

ever onward.

01 June 2008

for chick young



this is a photo of the lovely barbara steele. for those not in the know, she graced the screen of films by mario bava and david cronenberg.

fyi: sorry i've been away from the blogsphere for so long...life has been very busy. not to fret, though. i'm working on a new writing project. this is something separate from the haunted house script. the haunted house thing is still happening, i'm just not finding my muse for it right now.

more later.

22 April 2008

Imagination and the Art of Casting

as far back as i can remember, i have always seen my mother with a book in her hands. she generally stays within the mass market area, from romance to pop mystery to john grisham. to this day, she is always reading something. she happily passed this trait along to me. because i was also raised a star wars baby, i naturally gravitated towards science fiction. when i first started grade school, i cut my teeth on the works of arthur c. clarke, ray bradbury and c.j. cherryh. when i got to the seventh grade, i read more mature works such as frank herbert's dune (science fiction as epic saga) and george orwell's 1984 (science fiction as distopia).

in addition to reading, my obsession with film was growing. i dreamt of making my own movies. it became apparent to me that my primary interests, literature and film, weren't mutually exclusive. around the fifth or sixth grade, i read a book called hestia by c.j. cherryh. as i was reading, i imagined a film playing inside my head. this film had an unlimited budget. furthermore, i started casting actors in the roles of the different characters. for instance, i cast dennis quaid (whom i had just seen in the film "dreamscape") in the lead role.

the art of casting the novel continued to grow over the years. sometimes, a novel that i read was already adapted into a film. in this case, the art of casting became an exercise: could i hear the actors that were already cast speaking the dialogue? in a few cases (such as the mid-eighties version of orwell's "1984" starring john hurt and richard burton), i felt that the cast was spot on. in the case of "dune", i was fine with the david lynch cast when i first read it in the seventh grade. however, when i revisited it in 2000 (in preparation for the lacklustre sci-fi channel adaptation), i found that i couldn't hear the voices of the actors that were cast. so, i roamed around in my head for actors who i felt could do the job. at the time, sci-fi channel was showing reruns of j. michael straczynski's "babylon 5". i had a healthy obsession with this show. i thought, how great would it be if straczynski adapted all of the dune novels into an ongoing t.v. series? while i was rereading, i cast all of the actors from "babylon 5" in key roles of the book. and, wouldn't you know it, the casting worked.

this was a watershed moment. not only was i imagining a cast, but i also started to ask myself "what kind of media best serves the story?". this opened up entirely new avenues. the idea of being a filmmaker didn't seem so far away. in many of the documentaries on filmmaking that i've seen, professional filmmakers say that proper casting is at least 50% of making a good film. so, i was already halfway there, right?

casting the novel reached a plateau when i stumbled onto william gibson's neuromancer. gibson challenged my imagination on a level that i didn't think was possible. he is single-handedly responsible for coalescing all of my artistic interests (film, music, literature) into a cohesive whole. neuromancer tells the story of case, an ex-cyberspace hacker who hates the real world and can only feel when he is jacked into the web. he meets molly and his entire world perspective shifts. the novel starts with the following:

"the sky above the port was the colour of television tuned to a dead channel".

this was the proverbial "holy shit" moment for me. how do i visualize this? what does this mean? gibson's philosophy is that science fiction isn't a series of special effects, bells or whistles. it is a metaphor for modern life. when i first read the book, i was heavily influenced by the film "trainspotting". i cast all of the actors from "trainspotting" as the main characters. with crystal clarity, i heard ewan macgregor saying case's dialogue as though he were sitting right across from me.

around this time, i had also seen steven spielberg's "saving private ryan". other than his depiction of the normandy invasion (which is some of the best work that he has ever done), i felt that the film was overrated. however, the one thing that i was very impressed with was the cinematography. spielberg filmed it using desaturated colour. everything looked very dull and gray. i thought to myself, "this is how case sees the real world". i reread the novel with this in mind and my film version clicked into place. all of the scenes that took place in the "real" world would be gray and all of the cyberspace scenes would be in mario bava 70mm candy technicolour. furthermore, the dull and gray of the real world scenes would make the colour of the cyberspace scenes pop even more.

something else that occurred at this time was the expansion of my music horizons. i had discovered brian eno, david bowie, philip glass and aphex twin. i had also rediscovered motown, specifically marvin gaye's "what's going on". i heard music in the scenes of the "neuromancer" film going on inside my head.

to illustrate the coalescence of film, literature and music, let's look at the ending of the novel. gibson ends the book with the following line:

"and case never saw molly again."

by this point, case's emotional headspace has changed. he allowed himself to get close to molly, only to be rejected by her in the end (she leaves him a note explaining "it's not the way i'm wired"). despite this, case doesn't see the world as gray as he used to. i see case reading this note and nodding, understanding molly's decision. he then walks down the street, literally disappearing into the city. marvin gaye's "inner city blues (makes me wanna holler)" is playing as we fade out and go to the end credits. do the lyrics give literal insight into the scene? no. but, somehow, the song gives me an emotional resonance that perfectly captures the feeling of the scene.

over the years, i have probably read "neuromancer" at least four or five times. each time, i change the cast and perfect the film. (the latest cast include cillian murphy as case.) producers have tried many times to bring an adaptation of "neuromancer" to the big screen. thus far, each attempt has been unsuccessful. the latest news is that joseph kahn (director of "torque" and some of the gaudiest music videos known to mankind) is doing to direct "neuromancer" with hayden christensen starring as case. this is not the way to go. i can feel this deep in my bones.

why?

because i have seen this film play out many times. i only need to figure out a way to get it from my imagination onto film.

it's the next logical step.

new acquisitions

i love the fact that, with the macbook pro, i can relax in a coffee shop and update to my heart's content.

this is just a quick update to let you in on my new acquisitions this week. i woke up bright and early at 8:30 this morning because:

1/ it's beautiful out.
2/ i want to take advantage of my time off as much as possible.
3/ it is new release day.

since my injury, i have not been able to go to the movies. this makes new release tuesday special, because i get the chance to catch up on all of the films that i've missed at the movies. today, i picked up "cloverfield" and "there will be blood" (thank you borders for your plethora of 40% off coupons).

after a lovely brunch downtown, i walked to wazoo and picked up the new 10th anniversary special 3-disc edition of air's "moon safari". this is one of my favourite albums and introduced me to french pop music. you might have heard air from the films of sofia coppola. they wrote/recorded the entire soundtrack for "the virgin suicides" and contributed to "lost in translation". please treat yourself and check them out.

after wazoo, i walked across the street to shaman drum books. i was just in the mood to browse and wasn't looking for anything in particular. all of a sudden, something caught my eye: bowie in berlin - a new career in a new town by thomas jerome seabrook. this book chronicles bowie's move to berlin and the recording of "low", "heroes" and "lodger". i have a very personal connection to these albums, as they significantly expanded my horizons on a deep artistic level. they also sparked my obsession with all things brian eno.

later today, i plan to update the blog with another essay, detailing what goes through my head when i read novels.

20 April 2008

MUPPETS!

please allow me to share my undying love of the muppets with you:



comments are welcome and encouraged, so make with the clicky!

12 April 2008

the prequels essay #1: why jedi are the biggest idiots in the universe

this is the first in what will hopefully be a series of essays regarding that bastion of cinematic greatness known as:

the prequels

[cue dramatic orchestral swell]

why the prequels?

[more dramatic orchestral swells]

quite simply, the prequels are rife for analysis and discussion. the prequels introduce us to a wondrous, mystical and magical universe. there is much that we can learn from them, wisdom to be gleaned. this is, after all, the reason that sir george lucas esquire created the prequels, right? hmm?

[crickets]

ok, then, moving right along.

to start this discussion, i will share the first piece of wisdom that we learn in the prequels:

jedis are the biggest idiots in the universe.

to illustrate this, we need only investigate the middle chapter of the prequels, "attack of the clones". at the start of the film, we discover that there is an intricate plot to assassinate senator amidala, former queen of the planet naboo. jedi master obi wan kenobi and his padewan anakin skywalker are sent in to provide security for our troubled senator. channelling the wisdom of the force, master kenobi and padewan skywalker decide that the best way to provide security is to leave senator amidala alone in her bedroom so that she can be attacked again.

after a rousing and pointless chase through the crowded cityscape of coruscant (which looks strikingly similar to 2019 los angeles from "blade runner"), our stalwart jedi knights discover that a bounty hunter is involved with the assassination plot.

at this point in the film, master kenobi, thru the widom and majesty of the force, morphs into sam spade, private eye. during the start of his investigation, master kenobi discovers that someone has tampered with the archives. stumped, master kenobi turns to the wise master yoda for guidance. master yoda is also stumped and needs to seek advice...from the jedi younglings.

yes, you heard right. yoda, arguably the wisest of all jedi, seeks the advice of young children (many of whom have probably never left the cozy confines of coruscant and almost certainly don't know how to speak bachi).

this is our first clue that something amidst the jedi is amiss.

detective kenobi, frustrated and stumped at not getting answers from the wisest of jedi, goes to the next logical source for information:

dexter jettster, a short order cook at the local coruscant 1950s diner.

that deep rumbling that we're feeling at the pit of our stomachs right now? yes, that is our second clue that something amidst the jedi is amiss.

after obtaining valuable information from chef dexter, detective kenobi goes to the cloning planet of kamino. despite acting completely conspicuous, awkward and completely out of place, the cloners conveniently mistake our intrepid detective for their contact and give him all of the information that he is looking for. the most pertinent piece of information that they give him is that the jedi hired the cloners to create a clone army based on the dna of a bounty hunter named jango fett.

(you're probably feeling another bit of rumbling in the pit of your stomach right now.
that's because that last sentence will lead us to the main reason why jedi are the biggest idiots in the universe...but let's not get ahead of ourselves.)

naturally, this leads to a confrontation between detective kenobi and hunter fett. does kenobi immediately take fett into custody? of course not. he wastes time chatting with him, again acting completely conspicuous. when he leaves, kenobi contacts the wise jedi council, asking questions that he already knows the answers to. the council tells him to take fett into custody for questioning.

wise decision. however, hunter fett has decided to leave kamino. why? please see previous paragraph regarding detective kenobi acting conspicuous, awkward and completely out of place.

this leads us to another completely pointless chase sequence. however, this time the scenery has changed to an asteroid field.

wait a tic...wasn't there also an asteroid chase sequence in "the empire strikes back"?

how odd.

anyway, detective kenobi lands on a rocky planet and has enough time to send off a warning message to the jedi council detailing hunter fett's treachery before he is thwarted by the forces of count dracula - i mean dookie - i mean dooku.

i won't bore you with details of poorly written young borderline illegal love (ala anakin and padme), political shenanigans with dark side overtones (ala pope palpatine) or jar jar. let's cut right to the senate scene. the one where pope palpatine creates his grand army. after this, we cut to a scene between wise yoda and his fellow jedi master windu on the senate steps discussing the clones.

are they going to investigate the clones because of their connection to hunter fett, whom they know to be a villain because of detective kenobi's warning?

no.

are they going to apprehend and detain the clones because of their connection to hunter fett, whom they know to be a villain because of detective kenobi's warning?

no.

they are going to use the clones to build the army of the republic.

pause.

let's break this down:

1/ the clones are based on the dna of jango fett, whom we know to be a villain.
2/ at this point in the film, the jedi council (and we the humble audience) know that jango fett was hired by count dooku.
3/ at this point in the film, the jedi council (and we the humble audience) know that count dooku has turned to the dark side of the force.

is it really THAT much of a stretch to surmise that the clones might have been created to spring a trap on the republic?

for the jedi, the answer to that question is a resounding YES! it is that much of a stretch. while it is true that the clones help the wise jedi out of a tight jam at the end of episode II. however, let's cut to the tail end of episode III. pope palpatine shows his true nature as a sith lord (which we, the humble audience, have known all along) , declares himself emperor and reconstructs the republic into the galactic empire.

what's that? where are the jedi, you ask?

oh, they were ambushed by the clone troopers after pope palpatine gives them the order, which was embedded into their dna. the clone troopers almost completely decimate the jedi order.

and the best part? wise yoda and detective kenobi are actually surprised by this turn of events.

and this, ladies and gentleman, is why jedi are the biggest idiots in the universe.

06 April 2008

asgard is up and running

i finally have my wireless network up and running.

since i have this obsession with giving all of my mac related items norse/swedish/icelandic names (my desktop is named alphonse bjorn josephsson, my ipod is named thor bjorn josephsson, my airport external harddrive is named mjolnir bjorn josephsson and my laptop is named odin bjorn josephsson), i thought it appropriate to dub my wireless network asgard.

fitting, eh?

in other news, i have completed the first draft of the film outline. it is now in chris' hands. i am waiting for comments, additions, deletions, etc. from him. the goal is to start the script the week of april 20th (birthday week). i'm taking vacation time for that week it seems appropriate to start then.

other than that, i spent a lovely afternoon with my friends paul and meghann. i hope that we have (knock-on-wood) seen the last of winter for awhile. we need the sun.

the fourth and final season of battlestar galactica has finally started. shame on you if you aren't watching this show.

and, in honour of all of the network crap that i've been dealing with the past week, i give you the wisdom of the IT crowd:

03 April 2008

and now...a moment of zen...

because most of you have probably never heard this one.

29 March 2008

frakking wireless network and other observations

my new wi-fi router/500GB external hard drive arrived via fed-ex this week. i tried getting it to work today.

the emphasis is on "tried".

i plan on calling my dad tomorrow to talk me through it because, after shouting "fuck" for an hour, the word has lost its meaning.

in other news:

*i finished the murch book "behind the seen" this afternoon. what a great book. it is also humbling in many respects. i'm actually afraid to use final cut pro now. i think i need to cut my editorial teeth on something much simpler such as i-movie before i dive into the ocean of final cut pro. and i think i have an idea of something that i can do myself. while i was cleaning my bathroom, i thought of an absolutely silly idea for a short film that i can do myself. (if you're going to come up with silly ideas, you might as well do so while doing something as banal as tidying a bathroom.) the working title of this short film is "the multiple personalities of joey (or, how i got into an argument with myself...and lost)". it should be fun. no script per se, but i'll be able to cut my teeth on basic editing techniques.

*the two disc special edition of "the mist" came out on tuesday. i implore everyone who reads this to seek it out and watch it at your earliest convenience. specifically, you need to see the black and white version on disc two. this is what frank darabont (the writer/director who also made the shawshank redemption and the green mile) calls his preferred director's cut. i'm going to go out on a limb and say that this film will, years from now, be heralded as one of the great horror films of our generation. watching this film is like going nine rounds with ali or foreman. and the ending is the knockdown left hook followed by the right uppercut. without spoiling it, this is one of the ballsiest ways to end a film. after finishing the film, i paced around my apartment for twenty minutes, not knowing what to do with myself. if you appreciate great horror cinema, please treat yourself to this film. you won't be sorry.

and now, i need to watch some twilight zone before bedtime.

22 March 2008

writing and the return of a long absent friend

i have started work on the official script outline. upon completion, i will email it to chris for him to look over, revise, give notes, etc.

there is one thing that i had forgotten prior to the start of this project:

writing is hard.

and it doesn't matter what kind of writing it is. it could be songs, essays, blogging, you name it. writing is hard.

and to this i say: bring it on. i've been thru panic attacks, hypersensitive ears that ache at everyday sound, mind-numbing group therapy sessions -

{third person omniscient narrator: joey continues to ramble on and on about all of the stuff that he's "been through". he does tend to go on. no one can quite figure what he is always on about. that is why i felt the need to chime in. allow me to introduce myself. i go by many names...some call me the central scrutinizer...but, mostly, i'm just your humble narrator. i chime in every now and again whenever joey, our host, decides to go off on one of his tangents. speaking of which, let's pop back and see if he's finished...}

- plate tectonic shifts, ice ages, floods, volcanic eruptions -

{third person omniscient narrator: nope. he's still going. wow, he's really working up a lather. folks, he might be awhile. so we'll just let him go and cut this entry short.}

(in this entry, the role of third person omniscient narrator was played by alec baldwin.)

and so it begins...again...

the next phase has begun.

my new macbook pro arrived on thursday. it is absolutely beautiful. and, in the grand tradition of giving all of my computers nordic names, i have dubbed it:

odin bjorn josephsson

still waiting for the wi-fi router/external hard drive to arrive. it should get here this week.

i have also finally finished redecorating my room. i am now surrounded by giger paintings and amazing film posters. the rearranging and redecorating have now made my room conducive to creativity.

photos are forthcoming.

18 March 2008

the one two punch

two immensely talented artists died today.

arthur c. clarke, author of the classics "childhood's end" & "2001 a space odyssey" (amongst countless others), passed away at the age of 90.

anthony mingella also passed away today at the age of 54. he directed the english patient, the talented mr. ripley and cold mountain. he was also a talented screenwriter.

both of these gentlemen have influenced my artistic endeavours and leanings.

i have been reading arthur c. clarke books since i was in grade school. i read 2001 when i was in the eighth grade...i first saw the film version much much earlier than that.

i haven't seen very many of minghella's films, but i will say that the talented mr. ripley is one of the most effective thrillers in recent years. he also had the good taste to hire walter murch (the subject of many of my blog entries) as a collaborator. it is strange timing...i just started reading "beyond the seen" over the weekend. i've also been thinking about watching the english patient.

so, please raise a glass for both of these artists. they will be missed.

to close this post out, i leave you with clarke's three laws:

1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.

2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.

3.Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

finally, when asked about UFO's, clarke had this to say:

"They [UFO's] tell us absolutely nothing about intelligence elsewhere in the universe, but they do prove how rare it is on Earth."

very quick film notes

here are some quick film notes before i get back to work:

1/ on the way to work this morning, i listened to a fascinating segment about digital colouring in film. here is the link:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=88444570

this opens up a few ideas that chris has in relation to the colour palatte of our film (ala mario bavo or dario argento).

2/ the digital colouring segment also sparked an idea to perhaps digitally grade our film as well. i, of course, have no idea how to do that...yet. (see documentary features on the fellowship of the ring extended edition for what i'm talking about.)

3/ read a comic book adaptation of alan moore's the courtyard. this is one of his lovecraft stories. just trying to get an idea of how to properly do a story in the lovecraft mythos. not looking to crib anything from moore's story at all...just trying to get an overall feel for things.

now, back to my day job.

16 March 2008

moving forward

we have seen some movement on the film project.

yesterday, i visited chris at the partridge creek apple store in clinton township. he was able to get me a discount on a new macbook pro and a 500GB time capsule (this is a combination external hard drive, wi-fi base station and router). chris is also going to be getting me additional memory for a substantial discount and final cut studio / logic studio for gratis.

in addition, he has informed me that he is holding off on purchasing the camera. however, this is because he has a friend who already owns a camera...and this friend wants to help us with the film. so, we now officially have a director of photography. i also met one of chris' work friends by the name of chelsea. both chelsea and her boyfriend are artists. they will be doing the storyboard work for the film. finally, i met another work friend of chris named crystal. she is a trained theater actress and will be playing one of the main five characters in the film.

so, i go to get a computer and it turns out that we have started accumulating cast and crew without breaking a sweat.

i was going to purchase the final draft screenwriting program. however, i was able to find a freeware program that does the exact same thing:

http://www.celtx.com/overview.html

i have also started reading "behind the seen" by charles koppelman. this book is an account of how walter murch edited anthony mingella's film "cold mountain" using final cut pro. it is also about how final cut pro has changed the film industry.

based on advice from chris, i am going to read lovecraft's "dream quest of unknown kadath" and "beyond the wall of sleep". lovecraft's dream cycle will help me add a surrealistic feel to the film.

ever onward.