Bob and Justin's Mad Movie Blog

My name is Bob. My friend Justin and I are aspiring filmmakers and we have pretty similar tastes in movies. This will include our take on what's going on in film and television today as well as updating you on the status of our own work.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Live Free or Die Hard

The original "Die Hard" was released in 1988. It is not only my favorite action movie of all-time, it's also my favorite Christmas movie. Yes I'm serious. Just edges out "It's a Wonderful Life." "Die Hard" worked tremendously well and holds up today because it had characters and a story we actually cared about and despite the fact that it was an action movie it felt grounded in some kind of reality. It was sort of plausible...ish. Then two years later "Die Hard 2" came along and...well the less said about that one the better. "Die Hard with a Vengeance" was fun and casting Jeremy Irons as Alan Rickman's brother out for revenge was a brilliant piece of casting.
Twelve years have passed since we last saw New York cop John McClane. He's still wisecracking, still old-fashioned, still a killing machine. And that's exactly who we want John McClane to be. "Live Free" opens with computer whiz Matt Farrell ("Dodgeball's" Justin Long) inadvertantly helping a computer terrorist organization begin their new operation.
Meanwhile McClane is, as usual, not in his jurisdiction. He finds his daughter Lucy ("Grindhouse's" Mary Elizabeth Winstead) in a car with a guy he doesn't know up in New Jersey. More angry than embarrassed Lucy turns her back on her father and insists that her last name is Gennero (well that sounds familiar). Just then McClane gets informed by his captain that the FBI needs him to go pick up a suspect who just happens to be nearby. McClane's job is to pick up Farrell and take him down to Washington for questioning. McClane arrives at Farrell's apartment and it doesn't take long for "Live Free or Die Hard" to become the all-out action extravaganza that we were all hoping it would be. Forget about the realism of the original film, this movie has no interest in plausibililty and it displays that proudly. This would be Danny Butterman's new favorite movie. "'Point Break,' 'Bad Boys II,' or 'Live Free or Die Hard'?" McClane after all, is the hot fuzz.
The many action sequences as directed by "Underworld's" Len Wiseman are out of control to the twelfth power. It's like "Crank" or the first "XXX," "Die Hard" style. McClane may be over fifty but he can still throw down, with his gun, his fists, or even by blowing up a helicopter with a police car. There's also a scene involving a car and an elevator shaft that will cause the kind of gleeful appreciative laughter that we go to over the top action movies for. Crazy fun for all.
The weakest link of the film is its villain, the not terribly menacing Timothy Olyphant ("Scream 2"). He may be a digital genius but McClane has outwit the Gruber brothers. This guy is not exactly formidable.
It's no classic, but "Live Free or Die Hard" is a fun ride with a character we've been away from for far too long. 7.5/10

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Eagle vs. Shark

Lily (Loren Horsley) is a shy twentysomething working the counter at Meaty Boy. She dreams of a customer walking in one day and sweeping her off her feet. So far however, no such luck. Jarrod (Jemaine Clement of the band Flight of the Conchords) is around the same age and is such a nerd he makes Napoleon Dynamite look like the Fonz. One afternoon he walks into Meaty Boy to invite of one Lily's co-workers to his animal party. Since the girl he intends it for isn't there, he gives it to Lily to give to her. Classy, ain't he?
It seems odd that a party where you dress as your favorite animal would be attended by anyone over the age of 8, but Jarrod actually has a pretty good turnout. Lily shows up dressed as a shark. Jarrod informs her that he almost dressed as one too but then he "realized that an eagle is slightly better." Lily impresses Jarrod by her performance in his Fightman videogame tournament. The self-serious videogame names that the characters give themselves strike very true. An unsure Lily comes up with the intimidating monicker of Dangerous Person and as the night goes on, Jarrod and Lily find themselves drawn to one another and soon they are off to meet Jarrod's family.
Jarrod really doesn't devote himself to Lily. In fact, he really doesn't treat her well at all. He's completely consumed by his "revenge mission" against high school tormentor Eric, who he leaves a series of threatening phone messages for, which are among the movie's funniest moments.
"Eagle vs. Shark" just doesn't work as well as I had hoped. It has its moments but honestly it feels like ground that has already been well-tread by Wes Anderson as well as "Napoleon Dynamite," "The Science of Sleep," and the little seen (but great) "Jump Tomorrow." Had it come out four years ago it might have blown my mind. Now it just seems like another unlikely awkward love story that's trying to play to a hip crowd in the hopes that we'll be charmed by the New Zealand accents. The biggest problem is the character of Jarrod. Clement does just fine in the performance, but I find it absolutely baffling as to why Lily (who's extremely likable as played by Horsley) would see anything in Jarrod. It's not that he is a nerd, it's that he really isn't a very good guy. I'm not sure why writer-director Taika Waititi thought that making Jarrod a dead beat dad would be a good idea. It would be interesting if it weren't for the fact that Waititi really seems to want us to like Jarrod.
In the end, "Eagle vs. Shark" is a worthwhile film, if only for the performance of Horsley and the music of the Phoenix Foundation. I'll say wait for DVD but if you absolutely feel the need to see it now it's currently playing in Seattle at the Harvard Exit. 6/10

Monday, June 25, 2007

More "Star Wars: Robot Chicken"!

This was my favorite sketch from the episode. I'll never look at the scene from the original movie the same way again:

Sunday, June 24, 2007


All hail "Robot Chicken"! "Your tongues can't repel flavor of that magnitude!"

Saturday, June 23, 2007

First Picture from the new "Indiana Jones"!

I've been skeptical about the idea of a new "Indiana Jones," given that it's been 18 years since the last film was released. But seeing this... Well it makes me happy.

  • WORD!
  • Thursday, June 21, 2007

    The AFI Top 100: Part II- The Anti-Climax

    So the American Film Institute decided that it was going to make a new list of the top 100 American movies of all-time. They made their first list in 1998 and after making a bunch of other lists for comedies, stars, songs, and whatnot, they apparently felt there was nothing left to do but start from scratch. I was intrigued for two reasons: 1) I'm a movie crackhead (as you all know), and 2) I was curious to see which films would be new to the list.
    As it turned out, only four films since 1997 ('97 was not made eligible on the '98 list) made the list. "Titanic," "Saving Private Ryan," "The Sixth Sense," and "The Fellowship of the Ring" (the only film of the oughts to make it). Are those seriously the four best American films of the last ten years? I certainly don't think so. The rest of the list consisted of some minor changes and a few major ones. "Raging Bull" went up to number 4 this time. I still say Scorsese's best is "The King of Comedy" but I might be the only one. The silent era seemed to get greater representation this time, which seemed to be the most interesting aspect of this new list. Ultimately though it all feels like a big cheat. Another three hour sit though clips and interviews and in the end "Citizen Kane" is still number 1. Personally I think "Casablanca" is the better film, but what can you do? I think the way to make this list REALLY interesting would be to include foreign films and see how the rankings come out. But the American Film Institute won't go for that so we end up with an incomplete list yet again. And can someone please explain to me why "E.T." is rated above "Dr. Strangelove," "Network," and "Unforgiven"! As Gob Bluth would say, "Come on!"

    2007 AFI LIST OF TOP 100 MOVIE

    1. "Citizen Kane," 1941.

    2. "The Godfather," 1972.

    3. "Casablanca," 1942.

    4. "Raging Bull," 1980.

    5. "Singin' in the Rain," 1952.

    6. "Gone With the Wind," 1939.

    7. "Lawrence of Arabia," 1962.

    8. "Schindler's List," 1993.

    9. "Vertigo," 1958.

    10. "The Wizard of Oz," 1939.

    11. "City Lights," 1931.

    12. "The Searchers," 1956.

    13. "Star Wars," 1977.

    14. "Psycho," 1960.

    15. "2001: A Space Odyssey," 1968.

    16. "Sunset Blvd.", 1950.

    17. "The Graduate," 1967.

    18. "The General," 1927.

    19. "On the Waterfront," 1954.

    20. "It's a Wonderful Life," 1946.

    21. "Chinatown," 1974.

    22. "Some Like It Hot," 1959.

    23. "The Grapes of Wrath," 1940.

    24. "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial," 1982.

    25. "To Kill a Mockingbird," 1962.

    26. "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," 1939.

    27. "High Noon," 1952.

    28. "All About Eve," 1950.

    29. "Double Indemnity," 1944.

    30. "Apocalypse Now," 1979.

    31. "The Maltese Falcon," 1941.

    32. "The Godfather Part II," 1974.

    33. "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," 1975.

    34. "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," 1937.

    35. "Annie Hall," 1977.

    36. "The Bridge on the River Kwai," 1957.

    37. "The Best Years of Our Lives," 1946.

    38. "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre," 1948.

    39. "Dr. Strangelove," 1964.

    40. "The Sound of Music," 1965.

    41. "King Kong," 1933.

    42. "Bonnie and Clyde," 1967.

    43. "Midnight Cowboy," 1969.

    44. "The Philadelphia Story," 1940.

    45. "Shane," 1953.

    46. "It Happened One Night," 1934.

    47. "A Streetcar Named Desire," 1951.

    48. "Rear Window," 1954.

    49. "Intolerance," 1916.

    50. "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring," 2001.

    51. "West Side Story," 1961.

    52. "Taxi Driver," 1976.

    53. "The Deer Hunter," 1978.

    54. "M-A-S-H," 1970.

    55. "North by Northwest," 1959.

    56. "Jaws," 1975.

    57. "Rocky," 1976.

    58. "The Gold Rush," 1925.

    59. "Nashville," 1975.

    60. "Duck Soup," 1933.

    61. "Sullivan's Travels," 1941.

    62. "American Graffiti," 1973.

    63. "Cabaret," 1972.

    64. "Network," 1976.

    65. "The African Queen," 1951.

    66. "Raiders of the Lost Ark," 1981.

    67. "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?", 1966.

    68. "Unforgiven," 1992.

    69. "Tootsie," 1982.

    70. "A Clockwork Orange," 1971.

    71. "Saving Private Ryan," 1998.

    72. "The Shawshank Redemption," 1994.

    73. "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," 1969.

    74. "The Silence of the Lambs," 1991.

    75. "In the Heat of the Night," 1967.

    76. "Forrest Gump," 1994.

    77. "All the President's Men," 1976.

    78. "Modern Times," 1936.

    79. "The Wild Bunch," 1969.

    80. "The Apartment, 1960.

    81. "Spartacus," 1960.

    82. "Sunrise," 1927.

    83. "Titanic," 1997.

    84. "Easy Rider," 1969.

    85. "A Night at the Opera," 1935.

    86. "Platoon," 1986.

    87. "12 Angry Men," 1957.

    88. "Bringing Up Baby," 1938.

    89. "The Sixth Sense," 1999.

    90. "Swing Time," 1936.

    91. "Sophie's Choice," 1982.

    92. "Goodfellas," 1990.

    93. "The French Connection," 1971.

    94. "Pulp Fiction," 1994.

    95. "The Last Picture Show," 1971.

    96. "Do the Right Thing," 1989.

    97. "Blade Runner," 1982.

    98. "Yankee Doodle Dandy," 1942.

    99. "Toy Story," 1995.

    100. "Ben-Hur," 1959.

    1. "Citizen Kane," 1941.

    2. "Casablanca," 1942.

    3. "The Godfather," 1972.

    4. "Gone With the Wind," 1939.

    5. "Lawrence of Arabia," 1962.

    6. "The Wizard of Oz," 1939.

    7. "The Graduate," 1967.

    8. "On the Waterfront," 1954.

    9. "Schindler's List," 1993.

    10. "Singin' in the Rain," 1952.

    11. "It's a Wonderful Life," 1946.

    12. "Sunset Boulevard," 1950.

    13. "The Bridge on the River Kwai," 1957.

    14. "Some Like It Hot," 1959.

    15. "Star Wars," 1977.

    16. "All About Eve," 1950.

    17. "The African Queen," 1951.

    18. "Psycho," 1960.

    19. "Chinatown," 1974.

    20. "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," 1975.

    21. "The Grapes of Wrath," 1940.

    22. "2001: A Space Odyssey," 1968.

    23. "The Maltese Falcon," 1941.

    24. "Raging Bull," 1980.

    25. "E.T. - the Extra-Terrestrial," 1982.

    26. "Dr. Strangelove," 1964.

    27. "Bonnie and Clyde," 1967.

    28. "Apocalypse Now," 1979.

    29. "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," 1939.

    30. "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre," 1948.

    31. "Annie Hall," 1977.

    32. "The Godfather Part II," 1974.

    33. "High Noon," 1952.

    34. "To Kill a Mockingbird," 1962.

    35. "It Happened One Night," 1934.

    36. "Midnight Cowboy," 1969.

    37. "The Best Years of Our Lives," 1946.

    38. "Double Indemnity," 1944.

    39. "Doctor Zhivago," 1965.

    40. "North by Northwest," 1959.

    41. "West Side Story," 1961.

    42. "Rear Window," 1954.

    43. "King Kong," 1933.

    44. "The Birth of a Nation," 1915.

    45. "A Streetcar Named Desire," 1951.

    46. "A Clockwork Orange," 1971.

    47. "Taxi Driver," 1976.

    48. "Jaws," 1975.

    49. "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," 1937.

    50. "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," 1969.

    51. "The Philadelphia Story," 1940.

    52. "From Here to Eternity," 1953.

    53. "Amadeus," 1984.

    54. "All Quiet on the Western Front," 1930.

    55. "The Sound of Music," 1965.

    56. "M.A.S.H," 1970.

    57. "The Third Man," 1949.

    58. "Fantasia," 1940.

    59. "Rebel Without a Cause," 1955.

    60. "Raiders of the Lost Ark," 1981.

    61. "Vertigo," 1958.

    62. "Tootsie," 1982.

    63. "Stagecoach," 1939.

    64. "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," 1977.

    65. "The Silence of the Lambs," 1991.

    66. "Network," 1976.

    67. "The Manchurian Candidate," 1962.

    68. "An American in Paris," 1951.

    69. "Shane," 1953.

    70. "The French Connection," 1971.

    71. "Forrest Gump," 1994.

    72. "Ben-Hur," 1959.

    73. "Wuthering Heights," 1939.

    74. "The Gold Rush," 1925.

    75. "Dances With Wolves," 1990.

    76. "City Lights," 1931.

    77. "American Graffiti," 1973.

    78. "Rocky," 1976.

    79. "The Deer Hunter," 1978.

    80. "The Wild Bunch," 1969.

    81. "Modern Times," 1936.

    82. "Giant," 1956.

    83. "Platoon," 1986.

    84. "Fargo," 1996.

    85. "Duck Soup," 1933.

    86. "Mutiny on the Bounty," 1935.

    87. "Frankenstein," 1931.

    88. "Easy Rider," 1969.

    89. "Patton," 1970.

    90. "The Jazz Singer," 1927.

    91. "My Fair Lady," 1964.

    92. "A Place in the Sun," 1951.

    93. "The Apartment," 1960.

    94. "Goodfellas," 1990.

    95. "Pulp Fiction," 1994.

    96. "The Searchers," 1956.

    97. "Bringing Up Baby," 1938.

    98. "Unforgiven," 1992.

    99. "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," 1967.

    100. "Yankee Doodle Dandy," 1942.

    Wednesday, June 20, 2007

    "Alien Autopsy" Review From SIFF

    The gigantic three and a half week long beast that is the Seattle International Film Festival came to an end on Sunday night. I got to three movies this year, which is about as many as I realistically expected. "Fido," "Waiter," and finally "Alien Autopsy."
    I'm sure that most of you remember the infamous FOX special in 1995, "Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction?" Of course, it was fiction. But I remember watching it at age 13 and while I was certainly skeptical...I didn't dismiss it outright. There. I was honest. I got taken in just a little bit. This film tells the story (or a version of the story) of the two men who created it.
    Jonny Campbell's film opens ten years after the worldwide firestorm that the special touched off. Documentary filmmaker Morgan Banner (Bill Pullman) is in London to meet with Ray Santilli (Declan Donnelly) and Gary Shoefield (Ant McPartlin). They want to their story to be heard but are wary of skepticism and also the fact that they don't even know how many international laws they've broken. Ray and Gary tell Morgan their story which we see in flashback.
    In the spring of 1995 Ray made money selling pirated videos on the black market while Gary worked a thankless job in a gloomy office. An obsessive fan of Elvis, Ray hatches a plan to go to Cleveland, home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to find rare footage of the King, purchase it, and then bring it back home to London and sell copies of it for an outrageous profit. Ray and Gary buy a reel of film from a man named Harvey ("Alien's" Harry Dean Stanton) who tells Ray that he has something else to show him. What he shows Ray will change the world forever. Harvey was in the Air Force in 1947 and was in Roswell, New Mexico on that legendary night in July. Only eight prints were made of the autopsy that Harvey filmed that night. All were destroyed, except for the one that he had managed to hold on to for the last fifty years. Harvey sells it to Ray on the condition that he never breathe a word about who or where he got it from. Ray in turn sells it for a massive profit to mob boss Voros (Gotz Otto). But when Ray runs the film for his family and friends he discovers that it's eaten itself. Taking it out of storage destoyed it a film lab technician informs them. Now with death at the hands of a criminal being the only alternative, Ray must enlist Gary and everyone they know in the creation of a fake.
    "Alien Autopsy" is a very entertaining story, told with flair by director Campbell and writer William Davies. British TV hosts, the very funny Ant and Dec, are terrific as Gary and Ray respectively. You can see the genuine dynamic of two long-time friends on screen. Whether or not Ray and Gary's story is true, as Fox Mulder's poster would say, "I want to believe."
    Released in Britain over a year ago there is still no release date over here. It was apparently not very well received there, which just seems odd because it's such a likeable little movie. I only wish that the presentation at the Neptune had been better. I could get past the fact that it was shown on digital. Not wild about that but I could let it go. The real problem was that the sound and picture were out of synch for the entire movie. A guy from the Neptune talked to Craig afterwards and told him that they'd tried to fix it but nothing would work. Oh well. I still enjoyed the movie and it made me want to know more about the story of Ray and Gary. I would say "the truth is out there" but that would just be too obvious. But it would wrap up this review in a neat little bow. Hmm. Oh, alright. The truth is out there. So there you go. I said it. Now leave me alone. 7.5/10

    The "Alien Autopsy" trailer:

    Tuesday, June 19, 2007

    The Return of Paul Thomas Anderson and the Coen Brothers!

    Two of my favorite directors (well three actually) are returning very soon. First up, the man who gave us "Hard Eight, "Boogie Nights," "Magnolia," and "Punch-Drunk Love" is back with his first film in five years. Here's the trailer for Paul Thomas Anderson's "There Will Be Blood," based on Upton Sinclair's novel "Oil! Oil!" Ohhhhhh, I can't wait!

    Now here's a look at the Coen Brothers first feature since their highly disappointing remake of "The Ladykillers." "No Country For Old Men" looks to be a return to form. It looks like the old school Coen Brothers who made "Blood Simple," and that makes me happy!

    Saturday, June 16, 2007

    The Good German (DVD review)

    Last December "The Good German" was one of my most anticipated new releases. I eagerly awaited to see Steven Soderbergh's WWII film shot solely with equipment used during the 1940s. Unfortunately however, it played on one screen in Seattle for only three weeks. Usually that doesn't stop me, but in this particular case it just wasn't in the cards. But now with the DVD release all I needed to do was head over to Blockbuster.
    "The Good German" is a throwback not only through its use of WWII equipment and black and white film, but also in tone and style. Soderbergh and screenwriter Paul Attanasio (TV's "Homicide") create a noir with a style of dialogue (except for the constant f-bombs) that would fit right into 1945, the year the film takes place. It tells the story of U.S. Army Captain Jacob Geismer as he comes to Berlin just after the war in Europe has come to an end. His driver while he is in Berlin, clean cut all-American boy Patrick Tully (Tobey Maguire), is not who he seems. And it doesn't take long for Jacob to realize that Patrick is currently with his old girlfriend, Lena Brandt (Cate Blanchett). To say much more would be to spoil a surprising twist that comes pretty early on in the movie, but suffice it to say that less than a half hour in Jacob has a murder to solve.
    Ultimately I was pretty disappointed by "The Good German." The story isn't terribly involving and neither is the way its told. Less than a week after I declared that "Ocean's Thirteen" was a return to form for Soderbergh I see just how right I was. "German," (his most recent film prior to "Thirteen") is hardly a worthy addition to his filmography. This isn't to say that it's a bad film, but it certainly isn't very good. Stylistically it isn't as satisfying as I had hoped. The '40s feel of the movie never quite comes off as it should. It probably doesn't help that it still has a modern day sensibility. (That may not make a lot of sense and I'm not quite sure how to explain it but if you watch the movie I think you'll see what I'm talking about.) Acting wise it's hit and miss. Clooney and Blanchett are just fine. Blanchett especially seems like she really could have been an actress in the 1940s. Proof once again of how terrific she really is. Maguire however just doesn't fit at all. I like him just fine in "Seabiscuit" and the first two "Spider-Man" movies, but he doesn't belong here.
    Overall, worth watching if you're curious about it, but don't feel like you really need to. If anything it shows us that "Casablanca" is one of the greatest films ever made for reasons beyond being shot in black and white. 6/10

    Sunday, June 10, 2007

    Ocean's Thirteen

    Just to re-cap, 2001's "Ocean's Eleven," a blast. The sort of movie that's fun whether you're a casual moviegoer or a serious film buff. "Ocean's Twelve," while not nearly as awful as it's often made out to be (at least in my opinion), it's pretty forgettable, annoyingly self-satisfied, and so in-jokey that the audience is left out and scratching its head on a regular basis. George Clooney realized this and I'm guessing director Steven Soderbergh did too. And for those of you let down by "Twelve" (which is pretty much anyone who saw it), "Ocean's Thirteen" more than makes up for it.
    Right from the start, "Thirteen" is fun and light on its feet, the qualities that made the first film so enjoyable. It opens showing the gang getting together to avenge their fallen comrade Reuben (Elliott Gould). Reuben's in pretty bad shape and lying in a hospital bed after having a heart attack. The cause: casino mogul Willie Bank (a refreshingly subdued Al Pacino), Reuben's back-stabbing business partner who leaves Reuben in ruins and for dead on the roof of his hotel. The other ten want to take Willie down. And Danny Ocean (Clooney), Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt), and Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon) have just the plan to do it.
    The guys set out to destroy Bank's reputation and the opening night of his new casino. As Rusty says, it doesn't matter if they win as long as the casino loses. Pulling this off proves far more difficult than they imagined which leads them to the last place they ever thought they'd go. They need financing from their first victim, Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia). Terry will help them, on one condition. They must steal Bank's prize possession: his diamonds. Danny, Rusty, and Linus tell Terry that they've tried that plan but that it's impossible. Now however, it's their only way in and thus, their only way to avenge Reuben.
    The real fun of this film though is not really the plan or even the execution of the plan. Just like "Eleven" the fun of "Thirteen" is watching these guys be cooler than you or I could ever hope to be. And they're not just cool when they're being cool. They're cool getting emotional over an episode of "Oprah." I mean these guys are The dialogue is so snappy and delivered so well it's hard to tell how much was written by screenwriters Brian Koppelman and David Levien and how much of it was improvised on the set. Written dialogue that sounds spontaneous is the best kind of dialogue and a credit to both the screenplay and the actors. Everyone's great in this and gets some great moments to shine. Casey Affleck and Scott Caan get plenty to do, and Affleck's mustache is practically a character itself.
    Soderbergh keeps things moving and bouncy all the while. In my mind this not only tops the first "Ocean's," it's a return to form for the lauded director. It's a reminder that this is the guy who made movies like "Out of Sight" and "The Limey." And the in-jokes work far better than they did in "Twelve." I don't want to spoil them for you, but my favorite involves Matt Damon riffing on a certain other character he has made famous.
    "Ocean's Thirteen" is what a summer movie should be. A fun and entertaining film that you'll want to quote from now until Labor Day. A good time will be had by all. 9/10

    Saturday, June 09, 2007

    "The Dark Knight" in IMAX.

    I love, LOVE, "Batman Begins." Christopher Nolan's 2005 film is one of the most entertaining and satisfying movies of the oughts. But his next entry in the franchise, "The Dark Knight (due July 18, 2008), is going to be even more ambitious. Unlike most directors of big budget sequels however, Nolan seems to know how to do it right. He's shooting part of this one in the gigantic IMAX format. This from USA Today:

    First look: Enter the Joker — in the IMAX format
    By Scott Bowles, USA TODAY
    LOS ANGELES — All directors promise that their sequels will be bigger and flashier than the predecessors'. But Christopher Nolan doesn't mess around.

    The director's sequel to Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, will become the first feature film to be partly shot in the IMAX format, an expensive and cumbersome process that typically is the province of documentaries and short films.

    Nolan will shoot four action sequences — including the introduction of the Joker, played by Heath Ledger — on IMAX.

    The move is one of Hollywood's most pronounced steps yet in its embrace of IMAX theaters, which are increasingly showing commercial fare on their giant screens.

    "There's simply nothing like seeing a movie that way," Nolan says. "It's more immersive for the audience. I wish I could shoot the entire thing this way."

    Typically, the feature films that play in IMAX theaters are simply stretched out to fill the enormous screens. That can dilute the picture quality and give the movie a wide, squat look.

    Shooting on IMAX, Nolan says, will have a twofold effect. The four scenes will fill the IMAX screens, some of which are eight stories high. And in traditional theaters, the scenes will appear more vivid (think high-definition television over standard).

    Don't expect many movies to follow suit. Only 280 IMAX theaters are in operation worldwide, and fewer than 100 show feature films.

    And shooting in the format is difficult. IMAX film, which is 10 times the size of standard film stock, is costly and must be shot using bulky cameras.

    And "they're loud," Nolan says. "We had to figure a way to eliminate the sound so we could shoot dialogue."

    In a rarity for Hollywood, the payoff isn't primarily financial, so far. "It doesn't have a huge effect yet on the money you bring in," says Chris Aronson, a distribution chief with 20th Century Fox, which carried Night at the Museum on IMAX. "But it does help make your movie more of an event."

    For Nolan, IMAX makes the moviegoing experience unique again.

    "You can't do this on any home theater," Nolan says. "Batman has some of the most extraordinary characters in pop culture. We wanted the Joker to have the grandest entrance possible.

    "I figured if you could take an IMAX camera to Mount Everest or outer space, you could use it in a feature movie."

    Wednesday, June 06, 2007

    Dinner For Five

    Actually, it's for six, but "Dinner For Five" sounds better. So Justin, Drew, and I were talking the other day about who our five people living or dead would be that we would want to have dinner with. Who would make for great conversation? Who would have interesting stories but would also actually listen when someone else spoke? So I gave it some thought, and I came up with my five. So go ahead, take some time to think about it and then post yours onto your own blog on add it as a comment on mine. It's a totally personal list. Put whoever you want. Don't feel like you have to impress anybody with it. I just think it's interesting. So here we go!

    Winston Churchill
    Andrew Jackson
    Clint Eastwood
    Peter O'Toole
    Bruce Robinson (writer-director of "Withnail and I")

    Tuesday, June 05, 2007

    "Waiter" Review From SIFF!

    I don't know how but I'm certainly not going to complain. In my trips to SIFF (Seattle International Film Festival) I have never not struck gold. And recently it hasn't just been SIFF. "Waiter" is the third movie in a row that I've been to and been completely blown away by.
    Alex van Warmerdam's new Dutch film tells the story of Edgar (played by van Warmerdam), a waiter at a less than stellar and less than busy restaurant. He's in his fifties and been a waiter for half of his life. The opening sequence perfectly illustrates life in the service industry. Edgar is reviled, treated like a peasant, and verbally abused by customers, and all the while they expect him to have a smile on his face. He and his co-workers have little reason to smile however and it shows. After another thankless night and an unhappy affair with Victoria (Ariane Schluter), Edgar heads home to his sick wife and is forced to deal with music so loud from next door that it rattles the house like an earthquake. With things going from bad to worse, Edgar just can't take it anymore. He's fed up. And with that he bursts into the apartment of the screenwriter, Herman (Mark Rietman).
    Herman is not happy about this. "Get out!" he yells at Edgar. "You're fictitious." Herman isn't crazy. His girlfried Suzie (Thekla Reuten) sees Edgar too. All Edgar wants is a little happiness. Just a little. "Why must I suffer?" he asks Herman. A perfectly reasonable question. After a bit of deliberation, Herman decides to write Edgar's wife out of the screenplay so that Edgar won't have to deal with the bed-ridden woman. He also writes in a younger girlfriend, Stella (Line Van Wambeke), to give Edgar just a moment of happiness. But between his job, his complicated relationships, and his mobster neighbors, Edgar's joy is fleeting.
    Like "Stranger Than Fiction" we see a character who is fully aware that he is a character. But while "Fiction's" Harold Crick was a man who strongly fought for his reality, Edgar seems resigned to the fact that he's fictional and there's nothing he can do. His only hope after he is physically abused by a smarmy businessman is to beg Herman for a few good lines. "Can't you let me stand up for myself?" he asks. Again, a perfectly reasonable question. Herman is in control of Edgar's world however, and he wants Edgar to suffer. The pain (physical and otherwise) that Edgar suffers all comes from the mind of Herman and we can't help but feel that, ya know what, Herman's a jerk! Edgar is allowed a moment of happiness here and there when Suzie sneaks over to the computer and writes a new scene. Herman quickly erases these moments from Edgar's life however.
    In spite of the depressing subject matter, "Waiter" is actually very very funny. It's a wonderful dark comedy and van Warmerdam's screenplay, direction, and performance are all top notch. Sadly, I think this will end up being much like last year's "OSS 117." An outstanding film that gets a couple of SIFF screenings and never gets a regular U.S. release. It would be a shame. This is a genuinely great film. Hopefully it won't be too difficult to get it on DVD from somewhere. It's movies like this that make me glad I have a region 0 player. 10/10

    Saturday, June 02, 2007

    Knocked Up

    All of you know how I feel about "Freaks and Geeks." Simply the smartest, funniest, and most realistic television series I've ever seen. So naturally when I heard that "Knocked Up" starred Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, and Martin Starr (all "F&G" alum) and was written and directed by former show runner Judd Apatow, I was pretty excited. It was one of the best trailers I'd seen in a long time and all of the early buzz was that this movie was something special. Pretty soon buzz gave way to hype and that's when I started to worry. I also reminded myself that Apatow had directed "The 40-Year Old Virgin," which, while good, felt like a marathon. It wasn't the length itself (right around 2 hours), it was the pacing that dragged that movie down. When I heard "Knocked Up" was even longer I really started to worry. But then, I finally got to see it, and you know something, it more than lives up to the hype and the pacing is perfect. It truly is an excellent movie, and one that will be remembered as a classic twenty years down the road. Of course you ask, "How can you know that?" Watch it and then think of the comedies that came out twenty years ago that people still remember. "Knocked Up" is better than most of those.
    It opens showing us Ben Stone (Rogen) and Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl), living not just separate lives, but in separate worlds. Two people with absolutely nothing in common. Ben is a Canadian slacker living illegally in the United States with no money and no prospects. He shares a house with four friends (Segel, Starr, "Undeclared's" Jay Baruchel, and Jonah Hill). Their "job" is creating a website that tells you the exact amount of time into movies that actresses are naked. Alison on the other hand is working her way up at the E! Channel and she just got a promotion to work on air. She excitedly goes out with her sister Debbie (Leslie Mann) to celebrate. They happen to go to the same club that Ben and his buddies go to that evening. Ben and Alison cross paths and the next thing they know they're drunk beyond belief and all over each other. The fact that the movie is called "Knocked Up" should tell you what happens next.
    When Alison realizes she's pregnant she is shocked and horrified, not only that she's going to have a baby, but that only Ben could be the father. Ben just sees it as a complete catastrophe. His "vision" for his life is now gone. But the pair decide that they need to get to know each other and see if there's any chance that they can raise the baby as a couple. Debbie thinks that the two ought to get married, even though she's not a fan of Ben's. Her husband Pete (Paul Rudd) however, warns Ben that marriage is misery. Ben and Alison go through a series of ups and downs (as do Pete and Debbie), which would seem predictable, but nothing is this movie comes across as contrived. It all works. We see these characters at their best and worst, and Apatow gives us a movie that dares to say that people are irrational, selfish jerks. Not men, not women. People. But in spite of their irrationality or selfishness we're still people. We're all in this mess together and we have to find a way to make things work. Apatow's script gives us dialogue and characters which are hilariously funny, but are totally realistic, just as he and Paul Feig (who makes a cameo) did with "Freaks and Geeks."
    What makes "Knocked Up" different from that show however, is how incredibly raunchy much of it is. In spite of that however, it never feels crass. It's often tasteless, but never crass. And it blows "The 40-Year Old Virgin" out of the water. In what is shaping up to be a year of outstanding comedies, "Knocked Up" is a close second to "Hot Fuzz." Go see this movie and tell the film industry that smart movies for adults can make money too! 10/10