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Archive for the ‘Cinema’ Category

Going underground for your Christmas-themed flicks

In Cinema, Culture, Curious Notions on December 15, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Instead of the generic slew of Christmas-based films that are replayed every Yuletide, why not something a little less standard?

In place of such “classics” as The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Chevy Chases Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story, A Christmas Carol (any of them), Love Actually and Home Alone 1 & 2 why not something more…creative?

Creative? Well, ask yourself: what is Christmas? Christmas is about accentuating the emotions we feel on a day-to-day basis. Any given day throughout the holiday season (from Thanksgiving through till New Years Day) will give one joy, stress, passion, apathy, good feelings and bad, to say nothing of love and hate.

Positive emotions are created: giving and receiving gifts, seeing friends and family, setting up and looking at holiday decorations. In addition, most individuals are entitled to numerous days off during this season. Surely a plus for anyone’s emotional well-being.

Negative emotions, too, run rampant: what sort of gift to buy? How much is it? Will it arrive on time? Will they like it? What happens if they don’t? Do I really want to see my family? What sort of stress will that cause? What will I have to talk about? What will they ask me? Sure I have time off, but by doing so I receive less in my paycheck? What will I do about a lack of money? Do I get a holiday job? Will that make me more tired and stressed? Indeed, it can seem as though the negatives of the season can far outweigh the positive.

So, to ignore the mainstream cinema one is often fed during December go with one of these films for a guaranteed good time.

  • Ladyhawke: Romantic. Man is a wolf by night, Woman is a hawk by day and never the two shall meet. Solid and fun acting with a happy, and romantic, ending.

 

  • Sunshine: Life-Affirming. A team of scientists must restart the sun in order to save the world from the slowly enveloping global winter. The film is set entirely in space and has a bittersweet, if visually stunning, ending.

 

  • Naked: Nihilistic. If you are in the mood for something more dark and angsty, go with Mike Leigh’s epic about a nihilist ruffian who cares only for himself. In the movie, nobody wins…except maybe the ruffian (played by David Thewlis).

 

  • The Cat Returns: Inspiring. An animated film from Studio Ghibli (think “Hayao Miyazaki) about living and being alive. In the end, everyone one learns something and lives happily ever after. How rare is that in a film nowadays?
  • Fanny and Alexander: Thoughtful. This film actually uses two different Christmases as cinematic bookends and is as close to “Christmas-themed” as you’ll see me get. This film, about an upper middle class Swedish family, was directed by the legendary filmmaker Ingmar Bergman and is one of my most favorite films of all time.

If you have any recommendations (or concerns over my choices) feel free to post in the comments section below!

A cinematic prophylactic: “Antichrist”

In Cinema on November 20, 2010 at 12:43 am

There is a film by Lars von Trier called “Antichrist.”

If you watch it you will not have sex for days afterward. Even masturbating will be difficult. Sleeping will be impossible. Every waking moment in bed will be spent thinking about it. If you do manage to fall asleep you will dream about it. Those dreams will not be pleasant.

The film will leave you mentally scarred, emotionally distraught and physically drained.

Consider this a dare. I dare you to watch it. Hell, you can even borrow my copy if you want.

Good luck. If you survive the film, feel free to steal this badge I made just for it’s survivors.

 

Why I didn’t see Harry Potter on opening night

In Alaskana, Cinema on November 18, 2010 at 11:33 pm

I didn’t see Harry Potter on opening night for two reasons:

  1. I know how it ends.
  2. I don’t really care about it anymore.

But, I should qualify that last one.

I used to love it with a fiery passion of a million burning suns. I helped man Gulliver’s Books opening night party for Book 6 and attended a book opening party in Vancouver, B.C. for Book 7. I’ve seen 4, 5 and 6 on opening night in costume. I’ve gone to Potter-themed events dressed as Remus Lupin, Rodolphus Lestrange and Regulus Black. I also went to see one of the films as Dorian Grey-ala-The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen but that’s beside the point.

In my opinion, it’s tired. Nothing new in the Potterverse has come out since Book 7 (no, the Tales of Beedle the Bard don’t count). The films are not “new”. Nothing new occurs; the books are simply rehashed via film according to David Heyman’s vision. Which is okay.

I guess really it comes down to boredom. I’ve read the books, written fanfiction, laughed at the parodies, listened to the music (both OST and fan-made), obsessed over finding display pictures for my MSN Messenger, played the video games (PlayStation 1, Gamecube and Wii) and seen the films. Potter is no longer my bottle of butterbeer, I suppose. I guess for me Potter has simply jumped the Quidditch Pitch. Oh well, it was a fantastic Portkey-of-a-ride it was while it happened.

We’ll always have Hogwarts, Harry.

Those Sweet Old Blogging Blues

In Alaskana, Art, Cinema, Culture, Drink, Health, Music Reviews, Political, UAF on October 4, 2010 at 3:22 am

I plan on writing an actual update sometime early this week. However, before then, I wanted to throw out a few topics I plan on writing about which include health, journalism, music, and politics.

Why? Because I want to do something with the blog tonight/this morning but have no energy for anything investigative (i.e. that isn’t already in my head and doesn’t involve anything more then spellchecker and Google). You know the mood…where you want to feel productive, so you get away with “thinking” about being productive?

Yeah, it’s kind of like that.

Topics for future posts:

Health: Asthma; the Life Insurance process
Journalism: How to Write a Decent News Article; the Ethics of Journalism
Local Music Review: For both Feeding Frenzy and Good Dazes’ (Germ of Creation) new albums; Blurb about a buyers experience at the recent Record Expo.
Non-Local Music Review: Serj Tankian’s new album Imperfect Harmonies and Maroon5’s Hands All Over.
UAF: ASUAF Summer Senate Score Card; Photo slide-show of two university professors research.
State Politics: Scott McAdams and Lisa Murkowski position overviews (to match the one I did for Joe Miller).
History: What Norwegian Vikings Can Tell Us About Masculinity; something with Teddy Roosevelt since it’s his birthday this month.
Film: Maybe something on the Scandinavian Cinema Society I have recently formed with a fellow film enthusiast.
Drink: Brew Reviews-ala-the Northern Light

There are many other things I can and will write about. Some of them I haven’t even thought of yet!  I understand this post could be considered “lame”, but I try to view it as a “teaser” of future posts to come. Feedback is always appreciated.

The Cost of 3D

In Alaskana, Cinema on August 26, 2010 at 10:54 pm

While director-chic has always been in style, the double-spectacles look never will be. Photo by Jamie Hazlett.

I have a problem with 3D films.

Why?

While I want to say “because if I wanted things to be in 3D I wouldn’t be in a movie theater,” that is not an acceptable answer. However, here are three responses that I believe are acceptable.

1) It raises the cost of the cinema going experience. The current price of an adult (non-matinee) ticket at the Regal Goldstream Stadium 16 & IMAX in Fairbanks, AK is $10.75. The price of a 3D ticket is an additional $4.00. The total ticket price to see a 3D film after 6PM is therefore $14.75.

For contextual purposes, according to the user updated Alaska Gas Prices website, the current cost for a gallon of gas at the Airport Way Fred Meyers is $3.52. With the help of a little basic math, that means that…One 3D movie ticket is worth to a ticket-buyer 4.19 gallons of gasoline.

Is seeing (not even renting or buying) one film worth over four gallons of gasoline to you? Many of you probably think that it depends on the film. If so, fair enough.

2) You can only watch it with specialty glasses. This is a problem primarily for those who already wear glasses, don’t like them, or are afraid of them. Regretfully, however, the blogger was not able to find a satisfactory name for “fear of glasses.”

Wearing a pair of 3D glasses is a problem for one reason: if you already wear corrective lenses this means you’ll have to wear glasses over another pair of glasses. For anyone who suffers from eye problems this will only mean one word: obnoxious. For those who do not have eye issues, try putting on two pairs of sunglasses and leaving them on for 2-3 hours. That level of obnoxious.

[Blogger’s note: While you can watch a 3D film without 3D glasses, you can only do so at the expense of your own pleasure. To the uncovered eye, 3-dimensional elements will appear blurry and far-away and in a film that depends heavily on 3D for it’s box office sales (see Avatar) blurry and fair away is not what you want. Unless you didn’t like Avatar, then, yes, blurry and far away is what you want.]

3) Adding 3D after a film has been shot is tacky and ineffective. With a rise in the idea that a film can be made “better” when 3D is added to it (think The Last Airbender), the result has been a lessening of the cinema-going experience. Especially when the technique is done poorly.

What do I mean? Steve Persall, a film critic for the St. Petersburg Times, had this to say:

Genuine 3D movies (sometimes called “native 3D”) like Avatar are shot with stereo cameras, with two lenses slightly offset, creating a ghost image that 3D glasses bring into focus. 2D movies use traditional single-lens cameras, and conversion to 3D is accomplished with computers “drawing” a reasonable facsimile of a ghost image. It’s a digital lithograph, so to speak, rather than an original painting.

In my opinion, 3D is fine as a novel effect. If used in the right film, it can even add a certain je ne sais quoi. However, when it ceases to be unique and starts becoming commonplace it will cease to be interesting or entertaining. One candy bar is fine, an entire box all at once is gluttony. Film goers want to see 300 in 3D, not Chocolat.

For Further Reading:

http://www.fandango.com/regalgoldstreamstadium1626imax_aanzs/theaterpage

http://www.alaskagasprices.com/GasPriceSearch.aspx

http://www.tampabay.com/features/movies/fake-3d-movies-try-to-capitalize-on-avatar-success/1117762

Film Review: “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” is video game surrealism

In Cinema on August 15, 2010 at 10:56 am

Super Special Weekend Update!

I hope on making these “Super Special Weekend” updates a common fixture on the blog. Saturdays or Sundays is when I will discuss the latest in film, music, art and literature.

———-

For the first time since “Toy Story 3” (also known as “Lee Unkrich goes to memory lane…and destroys it”) I went to our local Regal Cinemas and saw a film. The film I saw was Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. And it was AWESOME.

Did I like/not like it?

Well, the day after I saw it my wife and I bought the soundtrack. If that doesn’t tell you all you need to know then I don’t know what will. Oh, and the fact that I said in the previous paragraph that “it was awesome.”

What did I like/dislike?

This is a toughy. Not because I disliked it (quiet the contrary) but because I liked so much of it. There’s the likable protagonist, the strong supporting cast, the amazing music and the fact that the film was smart and meaningful without hitting you over the head with it. In the end though, it was the films surrealism that won out.

How was Scott Pilgrim vs. the World an act of video game surrealism, though?

It was surreal in the way that people who have grown up on video games experience the surreal: We expect to be the underdog. We expect to save the princess. We expect to battle through dungeons to fight bosses. We expect swords to burst out of our chests when needed. We expect to receive XP after doing something totally awesome. We expect enemies to drop useful items after being defeated. We expect of ourselves that, no matter what, we will triumph – even if it takes us a long-ass time.  This is natural. This is how many of us were raised. Plus, we always can always use our 1 UP bonus if we fail the first time, right? (A 1 UP bonus is the equivilient to gaining an extra life that one can use in the event of a characters death).

For those who have not yet seen Scott Pilgrim, all of the “things” we expect (that were previously mentioned) do, in fact, occur in the film.

I say “video game surrealism” because video games are what many of us grew up on (and continue to play). Veteran gamers will also interpret many of the events in Scott Pilgrim as on-screen homages to various games. For instance, many of the fight scenes echo Mortal Kombat. Scott’s (Michael Cera) “quest” throughout the film echos Final Fantasy. The band battles themselves are something out of Rock Band or Guitar Hero. The band that Scott Pilgrim is a member of (“Sex Bob-omb”) is itself a reference to the bob-ombs of Super Mario Bros. 2. The final boss battle (in which Pilgrim fights the devilishly arrogant Gideon Graves) feels like the viewer is watching a modern interpretation of the Legend of Zelda. Instead of the “Master Hand” however, the protagonist has to fight a sword wielding Jason Schwartzman.

In fact, at least two fight sequencs feature live-action characters wielding 8-bit armaments. What could be more video game surreal then that?

Scott Pilgrim's band "Sex Bob-omb" battles the Katayanagi Twins during a rock-off. Note the visible sound waves. They're super cool and super effective. Photo c/o Universal Studios.