Thursday, October 28, 2010
When the first Paranormal Activity came out last year, there was a sense that we were watching a movie of some importance. After all, it is the most profitable film of all time. Made for only $15,000, and grossing over $100 domestically, the now classic horror movie showed audiences that you don't need big splashy effects to make something scary. Due to its enormous success, it wasn't long before a sequel was greenlit. Here it is, Paranormal Activity 2, a prequel, but a sequel, and soon to be a threequel semi-scary exercise in fear. I found it scary and disturbing, only to be let down by a rushed and lazy ending.
The sequel does make some interesting choices that allows the viewer a more widescreen look at the action. The story is about Katie Featherson's (the character from the first flick) sister and her family. The story begins with them having a break-in. Or what they think is a break in, because they soon realize that nothing is stolen. So the family sets up security camera, which lets scenes unfold more organically, instead of just a video camera point-of-view.
Then again, that is what made the first one rather scary. Then again, the security cameras gives the director the whole room to play with. I still can't decide, but I will say that the original still stands tall. The sequel is on a bigger scale, but the first kept a lasting impression. This is more of a rekindling of old magic rather than creating something new. In this day and age, I guess that's all you can ask for.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
I know I sound like a broken record, but I can’t get over how awful this summer was for movies. Besides the exceptions of Inception and Toy Story 3, the pain the film critic inside had to endure this year was almost too much for me to take. When The Last Airbender came out in July, not only was it a disappointment, the critical back-lashing behind it made me second guess a passion I’ve had since I was 12 years old. So I apologize if I needed a three-month break. Luckily though, my old habits are starting to resurface.
Just because I stopped writing reviews for a while certainly did not mean I stopped going to the movies. I just felt a little uninspired after trying to figure out what in the hell happened this summer. So instead of focusing on the past, I am starting to look to the future.
I think this year made me realize just how much of a fan I am of event movies. Sure, most of them aren’t the best movies of the year, but a few always are. This year was Inception, last year was Avatar, and the year before that was The Dark Knight. I think with the future of what is to come for the blockbuster genre is a sure sign that the movie lover in me is ready to come out again.
In the next five years or so, we will have a third Batman movie, a new Superman movie, The Avengers, Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit (in two parts), the conclusion to the Harry Potter franchise, an Avatar sequel, and two new Spielberg movies. Here's hoping that blockbuster cinema will finally get back on track.The reason why I have chosen to highlight these movies is because of the talent behind them.
Christopher Nolan is concluding his Batman trilogy with great promise, along with supervising the new Superman movie directed by Zack Snyder (Watchmen, 300).
The Avengers will mark the first time several comic book characters will be in one movie with all the leads coming together (Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man in particular).
Peter Jackson is finally confirmed as the director for The Hobbit. No offense to Guillermo Del Toro, while it was disappointing that he moved on, I found it very fitting that Peter Jackson is retaking the thrown.
Harry Potter, one of the most profitable franchises of all time, is nearing its end, and it looks to be at the top of its game.
James Cameron is heading back to Pandora with a sequel to the biggest movie ever, Avatar, where it's rumored that the second chapter will feature the oceans of Pandora.
And finally, Steven Spielberg, the king of blockbuster cinema himself, is on the fast track to direct his first feature since the disappointing Indiana Jones revival in 2008. In fact, he may be competing against himself. In December 2011, he will be releasing his animated featuring with co-producer Peter Jackson, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, and only five days later will his WWI film War Horse be released. It is a story about a young man who tries to get his horse back after it is sold to the Calvary, even though the man is to young to enlist.
I’m not saying all of these films will be successful. I’m simply stating that because of the talent behind them, we may be looking at a comeback for the genre. Or to word it more truthfully, we hope for a comeback. Let’s not forget about that Michael Bay movie that is being released on July 1st, 2011, that not only looks to damper my spirits, but to completely rip my movie-loving heart out. I am talking about its title: Transformers: The Dark of the Moon.
My only emotional response to that title? Pink Floyd should sue.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
I arrived to Ryan's apartment in Brooklyn around 8pm. Without wasting anytime, Ryan had already written a rough draft of the script. We worked all night on re-writes, and around 3am, we finally created what we thought was the final draft. Along with that, Ryan played Producer and dealt with casting all day. We had a whole day of auditions lined up for the next day, looking for the talent that could bring our film to life.
We watched (as I re-watched) Joaquin Phoenix's epically outrageous documentary I'm Still Here. When I first saw it, I was still unsure if it was real or a hoax. Seeing it a second time knowing the latter, I couldn't help but appreciate it even more. Was Joaquin Phoenix that sick and tired of playing the Joaquin Phoenix character? Or was the Joaquin Phoenix character sick and tired of Joaquin Phoenix? Anyway, next day was the shoot. Here came the all-nighter. Little did we know we were going to receive a curve-ball on the first pitch.
Fish Restaurant (in the village) is not the biggest restaurant in the world, but it captured what we were looking for. With only one boom microphone, a couple of cameras, a bicycle for a dolly, and lights made up of what we could find lying around in Ryan's apartment, we were ready to do work. Take after take, hour after hour, we finally wrapped around 3am. We headed back to the apartment, knowing that we still had an epic day ahead of us.
At 3pm, I took the bus home. I should have arrived home around 8pm. Due to Friday night traffic, I strolled in far past 10pm. I am writing this now at 2pm on Saturday, having just caught up on some necessary sleep. So, what's next? It all starts again next week when I go back down on Monday night for another shoot. The black dog is waiting for LaMarcable productions to swerve. That will never happen, because like I said earlier... BRING. IT. ON.
Co-founder and head of productions for LaMarcable Productions
Saturday, October 02, 2010
As Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) navigates through the complex web of the Harvard University campus during the opening credits of David Fincher’s mesmerizing film, The Social Network, it struck me deeply that there seemed to me a dark and crude awakening just waiting to lurk up upon this brilliant, but deeply tormented soul. I also knew that I was in for one hell of a cinematic treat.
Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin dives head first into the social and legal world of the founders of Facebook and how this story seems to be the defining one for the Internet generation. The result is a complex and unforgettable look at the brilliant but cold, eccentric yet egotistical, and passionate but maniacal Zuckerberg and his posse of ex-friends turned enemies.
The story begins with Zuckerberg going head-to-head with the thing he fears the most: a real life connection with someone. This time it’s a girl, at a bar, which leads to her telling him off. The clear irony here is that the man who has more “friends” in the world can’t find a single person who’d want to be his “friend”. The only one that ever came close was Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) the CFO and co-founder of Facebook. But we all know that story. Mark does everything in his power to make sure that Facebook is his and no one else’s, which is why the last scene in this movie is so rivetingly powerful.
Once Mark and Eduardo have enough to launch the site, the return is almost instant, having 22,000 hits in one night.
Which leads to what’s now a 500,000,000 member network.
Having read the script, I can assure you that it’s great. The movie however, is even better, which proves just how incredible of a director Fincher is. It’s hard to argue that this is not his best film. It’s poetic, flawlessly paced, and layered with razor-sharp performances from its leads. Justin Timberlake is perfectly cast as Sean Parker, the creator of Napster who jumps on Facebook with Mark to grab as much of the pie as he can. His flawed character, along with Mark, leaves him with only that: Facebook, plenty of friends, but it’s hard to find anything real about it.
Can’t say the same for the movie.