Saturday, August 23, 2008

Clone Wars

The new Star Wars: Clone Wars is the newest CG cartoon. It's got a very distinct style of animation that's block-y and plastic-like. But that is how they wanted it; I assume because they didn't want it too real so that people would relate it to the CG effects in the live-action Star Wars.
It starts out like the other SWs, "In a galaxy far, far away..." but it's just about that long of the SW written introduction. Then it goes into camera shots and such that are reminiscent of Starship Troopers. Hmmm...
I don't know if it's because it's animated or because the younger generations have been desensitised, but when a clone got it's head blown off the children in the theatre started laughing. It wasn't a funny moment. Because the kids laughed, I immediately thought "this movie is not age appropriate then." This moment in the theater bothered me a lot, because they kept laughing at serious stuff like that.
The voices were well done by limited actors. It should have been named something other than Clone Wars, because the CW was only a setup for (time) locations. It should have been named Star Wars: The Hutts or something similar, because it mainly revolves around the Jedi trying to get Jabba to allow the Trade Federation to go through his territories. Save the CWs title for when the movie concentrates on the wars/battles only with very little sidelines. Overall, an Okay movie... but I still perfer the original animated series.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Wes Anderson

Let me just say this: I don't really enjoy Wes Anderson's style of films. I mean I watch them, and I find humor in them and I do like them, most of the time. But they are not movies I am going to buy to watch 100's of times over. I'd buy them to have them on my shelf to impress people and occasionally pull out to get a quote from. I mean, I do want to own them, but for other than those reasons... I'd get no real enjoyment from them. I state this now because I just finished reading the article below. You can say what you want, but I'm not going to be a poser and say "Oh, I love Wes' films." I get them, I understand what he's saying with them... I just don't want to watch them when I'm in the mood for a movie.

10 Films that couldn't have happened without Wes Anderson

By Steven Hyden, Noel Murray, Keith Phipps, Nathan Rabin, Scott Tobias
October 9th, 2007

1. Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

In spite of his status as one of the few directors who's often a bigger draw than the actors in his films, Wes Anderson has never really made a major commercial hit. The closest he's come is Napoleon Dynamite, a pale imitation of Anderson's most obvious mannerisms, co-written and directed by Jared Hess. While Anderson is generally sympathetic to the oddball characters inhabiting his films, Napoleon Dynamite suggests that audiences prefer filmmakers to hold eccentrics at arm's length; it's easier to mock them and feel the warm, uplifting surge of superiority that way. Also, wouldn't it just be hilarious if the hopelessly nerdy main character did a really wacky dance at the end? Let's see Anderson top that with a wistful Faces song!

2. The Squid And The Whale (2005)

Squid And The Whale

A friendship with Anderson helped convince Noah Baumbach to return to the director's chair for this corrosive comedy about the confluence of divorce and adolescence in a family of academics. And while Baumbach clearly shares a set of influences with Anderson—including Louis Malle, Whit Stillman, and Martin Scorsese—he takes them in a more realistic direction, eschewing theatrical distance in favor of raw-nerve immediacy. The two directors most resemble each other in their use of music: Baumbach's jumble of Loudon Wainwright, Pink Floyd, Bert Jansch, and Lou Reed on the Squid And The Whale soundtrack is as counterintuitive as anything in an Anderson film, yet it works just as swimmingly.

3. Garden State (2004)

Garden State

In his 2004 directorial debut, Garden State, Zach Braff perfectly cast himself as a stock Anderson character: a self-absorbed man-child who returns home for his mother's funeral after an extended estrangement. Natalie Portman's odiously self-conscious quirky girl "saves" him from being so darn sad all the time; she also seems like a character thankfully axed from an early draft of a Wes Anderson screenplay. As a director, Braff took another cue from Anderson by populating his soundtrack with fashionable indie and classic rock songs—his expert use of Simon & Garfunkel's "The Only Living Boy In New York" as a backdrop for his first kiss with Portman might have even made Anderson jealous.

4. Tadpole (2002)


Wes Anderson's influence officially reached a nadir with 2002's Tadpole, a hideously ugly low-budget digital-video festival favorite that scored big at Sundance, only to bomb during its theatrical run. Essentially a labored sitcom version of Rushmore further hobbled by cable-access production values, Gary Winick's exhaustingly self-infatuated festival of twee centers on a precocious self-styled 15-year-old-intellectual (Aaron Stanford) whose laughable pretensions (he reads Voltaire! And finds women his own age hopelessly immature!) inexplicably render him irresistible to beautiful women old enough to be his grandmother. Tadpole is everything Anderson's detractors accuse him of being: smug, self-infatuated, utterly divorced from reality, and hopelessly in love with the sound of its own voice.

5. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Little Miss Sunshine

At the heart of many of Anderson's movies lies a fascination with family values of a much different sort than those espoused by conservative politicians. Like The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, and The Darjeeling Limited, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris' wry comedy-drama Little Miss Sunshine is essentially about a broken family made whole through shared experiences and/or a lengthy trip on a claustrophobic vessel. (In Aquatic's case, a sub; here, a van.) While Sunshine's climax is ultimately broader than anything in Anderson's filmography, that just illustrates how diverse Anderson's influence has been: As with so many influential filmmakers, acolytes pick and choose what they like from his instantly recognizable aesthetic and disregard everything else.

6. Igby Goes Down (2002)

Igby Goes Down

Like Tadpole, another self-conscious quirkfest about an unlikeable young man inexplicably irresistible to older women, Burr Steer's Igby Goes Down initially seems to borrow all the wrong things from Anderson's oeuvre. But as Kieran Culkin's prep-school brat gets humanized by a gauntlet of abuse, the film's smug airlessness gives way to more humane emotions. Like so much of Anderson's work, Igby is haunted by the spectral presence of J.D. Salinger, literature's premier poet of highbrow teen angst, and it captures, albeit intermittently, the heightened, easily bruised emotions that characterize adolescence for so many.

7. Rocket Science (2007)

Rocket Science

Sometimes, indie films rip off Anderson's work wholesale; at other times, they have the familiar texture of his movies while heading off in different directions. Though Jeffrey Blitz's semi-autobiographical debut feature—a follow-up to his hit documentary Spellbound—has its own particularities and a greater commitment to realism than Anderson's work, it applies his stylistic template. The use of music, especially, connects Blitz to Anderson, from the repeated refrains of Violent Femmes' "Blister In The Sun" (including a version for cello and piano) to the mopey Eef Barzelay tunes that underscore the entire movie like the David Bowie songs in The Life Aquatic. Unsurprisingly, Blitz's stabs at Anderson-like whimsy are the film's weakest element; when he gets real and deals directly with a stutterer's coming of age, the film stakes out more original territory.

8. Charlie Bartlett (2007)

Charlie Bartlett

Let's see: Creative kid given to formalwear gets kicked out of private school, initially looks like a misfit in public school, and eventually wins over the student body without modifying his eccentricities one iota. Sound a little familiar? Yet the Charlie Bartlett, one of several Son-Of-Wes films on the way (in this case, after a none-too-promising delay in its initial release date), is a lesson in the many ways Rushmore could have gone wrong. Rushmore protagonist Max Fischer hides a genuine vulnerability behind his grand, infectious creative vision, though it's exposed when his misplaced puppy-love for a teacher goes awry. In contrast, the blueblood troublemaker in Charlie Bartlett seems thoughtless and mechanical in his rebellion, though he has a father in jail for tax evasion and a mother wound tight as piano wire. He's a shifty little weirdo with a mirthless grin plastered on his face; never once does he suggest the charisma that would lead his classmates to conform to him, rather than the other way around.

9. Juno (2007)


The snappy, sardonic dialogue in this upcoming high-school indie-quirkfest has more in common with Ghost World and Heathers than Rushmore, but director Jason Reitman leans heavy on Anderson's character-definition-through-costuming method—particularly when it comes to Michael Cera, the accidental father who spends most of Juno in a track uniform, complete with headband. Throw in Cera's habit of pounding down orange Tic-Tacs, and he adds up to a character who's nearly all fidget: a cartoon in the shape of a person.

10. Son Of Rambow (2007)

Son Of Rambow

A hit at Sundance, Garth Jennings' follow-up to his Hitchhiker's Guide To The GalaxyAmélie) to several heaping cups of Anderson's Rushmore. Nothing much is done to obscure the similarities between the two movies: Both follow precocious kids as they attempt to reproduce a cinema classic (or what they believe to be a cinema classic, anyway). In Rushmore, it's Serpico and Heaven & Earth (and for the MTV Movie Awards, Armageddon, Out Of Sight, and The Truman Show); in Son Of Rambow, it's the Sylvester Stallone vehicle Rambo: First Blood Part II. In Rambow, the making of a movie forges an unlikely partnership between the school bully and a wimpy outcast from a dogmatic Christian family. This sort of preciousness treads a fine line, which here crosses into the full-on, gag-test whimsy that Anderson so studiously avoids. adaptation adds a dash of Jean-Pierre Jeunet (

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sweeney Todd

Who knew Johnny Depp had such a wonderful singing voice! Honestly, now? I thought he was going to be gravely. But he really shocked me when he made such smooth transitions into the concertos. Wonderful visualizations brought to us straight from Tim Burton's German Expressionism roots and Edward Gory start-up. Got to love the Kid, too. I did miss a few of the cut songs that I was looking forward to, but it was a long movie that kept it's pace well without them. And the imaging was beautiful. Not awfully gory for using so much blood and bone crunching. So beautifully dirty, like looking at a charcoal sketch. Helana Cater's part was so passionate and willing, so methodical. She wasn't mad at all, just needed to survive... beautiful in her care for Toby, and vice versa.
I wish I could remember more, but it's been a few weeks since I've seen it. I just remember loving it and thinking, "wow, he can sing!"

Thursday, January 10, 2008

An Open Letter to Sci-Fi Channel

Dearest Sci-Fi,

Why are you not way more awesome?

Don't get me wrong, when you're good—like with Battlestar Galactica or Eureka (and I'll even give you credit for Doctor who, despite that being a BBC show you just imported)—you're a phenomenal destination network. But let's be honest here, there's not a lot of "good" on your schedule. The Stargate franchise is stale, Flash Gordon (left) is a derisible, stillborn remake, and ECW Wrestling is…wrestling! (And I swore an oath never to speak of Who Wants to Be a Superhero again.)

The thing that infuriates me is that you have so much potential. We're living in the Age of the Geek, where pop culture has finally come around to our way of thinking. Where the most-watched shows on TV are geek-nip like Heroes, Lost, and Bionic Woman; where we buzz about movies like Pan's Labyrinth, Spider-Man, I Am Legend, and Iron Man. The audience could not be more primed for this material, so why are you offering them Ghost Hunters International and crappy "original movies" like Mansquito?

Again, why aren't you more awesome? After the jump, some friendly advice.

Why aren't you adapting more classic sci-fi texts—like you did with Dune—into miniseries events? (Ones that, hopefully, will fare better than Tin Man.) Where's the Foundation saga, or Ender's Game, or Footfall, or The Man in the High Castle, or The Forever War?

Why aren't you engaging today's premiere purveyors of genre material and giving them ten episodes to do whatever the hell they want? I'd watch contained, BBC-style series from folks like Neil Gaiman, William Gibson, John Scalzi, Cory Doctorow, Warren Ellis, Charlie Huston, Neal Stephenson, or China Mieville. The names alone would attract viewers by the truckload. And even if what they produced were failures, they'd be interesting failures—marked by reaching too far, instead of not far enough.

Why don't you try a daily sci-fi soap opera? Airing late at night, so people could actually be home to watch it—or DVR it. Why can't the same kind of serial storytelling that's worked for 50 years on shows like General Hospital be marshaled to create compelling science fiction? (Actually, I've got to give Evan Narcisse a tip of the hat for this one. Because I'm just that kind of bloke.)

Mark Harris was right when he said that science fiction needed to ditch the nostalgia if it's going to reclaim its integrity. Lucky for those of us who love sci-fi that there's a whole network devoted to it. I just want them to fulfill their mandate.

Imagine that. (No, seriously. Get to work imagining.)

Monday, October 8, 2007


I can easily see why Dexter was the highest watched Showtime series... ever! It's wonderfully visual and beautifully twisted. It's a definite series for all modern people to watch. Brilliant, I say. Brilliant.
No wonder I've been addicted to it from the start, but this new season will be so mind blowing. I can't wait!

Iced Coffee

McD's iced coffee is my newest addiction. Forget chocolate, get out of the way ice cream, iced coffee here I be!! Not the Starbucks Frabachino stuff. It's just so creamy. Mmmm... Good job, people.

Saturday, August 4, 2007


I know, I know... I'm trying to finish it. This is what I get for buying one copy and having to share it with my lifemate. He got to finish it while I went to work, and since I got off work after he did, he was already reading it when I came home. It's been a sweet little process for me though. I'm a little further than halfway with it (they just got captured by the Searchers) and I read a little of it each night before going to bed (between taking the pills and the point that they kick in). It's a good one so far. More adult that each in the past.