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Several months ago, I received an email from one of the producers of the low budget short film Waltz for One. I guess they had scanned the web for blogs that posted short films from time to time and somehow came across mine. One form letter (which sadly went unread for a few months) later, and I’m clicking through to Vimeo to watch an impressive work that was completed on a reported budget of $700.
It’s actually quite well done and manages to both capture the idea of loneliness while also making you smile. It was released online, appropriately, on the 49th anniversary of Valery Bykovsky’s record solo space flight. Click through to give it a view. Read more…
Gangster Squad fails as a “film”, but it can succeed as a movie if you have the right attitude going in… sadly, you’ll mostly get negativity here.
I’m going to keep this rather simple and short, as a negative review need not layer on too much emphasis on the awfulness that is Ruben Fleischer’s Gangster Squad. We’ll start with the fact that I’m not entirely certain that this was directed by just one person, because at times the movie seems to jump from genre to genre, if not from style to style. It is a film that falls short on so many very levels, not the least of which is an utter failure of the production team and the director to present a coherent vision.
Which is not to say that there isn’t one redeeming characteristic of Gangster Squad, because there is: it is, in general, a pretty fun watch. What, say you? Yep, if you’re in the right mindset and can overcome the shortcomings of the whole, you’ll generally enjoy the movie. You’re not going to ever be on the edge of your seat (as you would with Argo, my runaway favorite movie of 2012) and you won’t ever connect with any of the characters (as with In the Bedroom, the 2001 drama which perfected that element), but if you go in to it with the expectation of the violence and historical accuracy of 300 and the seriousness of Leslie Nielson’s Police Squad / The Naked Gun series series, you stand a pretty good chance of enjoying it.
Earlier this year, Encyclopedia Britannica announced that it was shedding the fear of paper cuts and turning itself over solely to anxiety over internet access cuts. The now online-only encyclopedia of record further noted recently that they were looking to adapt a communal, almost wiki form of a community for it’s publication.
For those who grew up with one of their multi-volume sets, it marks an extraordinary end of an era. Despite the wonderment of Encarta95 and wikipedia, itself, the Encyclopedia Britannica was, at worst, one heck of a beauty on your bookshelf. My family still has our circa 1985 set at my parents home.
Nostalgia also struck one of my favorite TED speakers, the poet Rives. Below is his reaction to EB 2.0.
What would you get if you mixed American Psycho with Donnie Darko? I’m not sure it would be a blockbuster, but director Daniel Wolfe gave it a shot with the music video for The Shoes’ “Time to Dance.” Filmed in France, it is cinematic in scope, if cut more as a trailer. Altogether pretty awesome.
To the extent that I ever get some time to do so, I do intend to write up reviews of a variety of recent things I’ve read and watched. Chief among them are the Game of Thrones books and the HBO series adaptation, which I find to be the best new thing on television in at least a couple of years. HBO just released their new trailer for the second season.
Not really sure how best to describe this elegant, at times almost fractal animation. The story seems a bit rushed at times, but you can pretty easily make it out. With limited emoting from the protagonists, this is an impressive feat of storytelling. The video is clearly an exhibition of both the scoring and the animation (it is actually a music video of sorts), but the storytelling is rather pithy and well done.
Unfortunately, Captain America was not as bad-ass as this Private Ryan meets Steve Rogers poster portended.
So I broke my normal rule and went and saw a highly anticipated movie on its opening weekend (or at least I think it opened this past weekend). After a full day of playing basketball and sweltering at a Yankees game, I headed out trying to get hydrated and air conditioned at a jam packed theater for Captain America.
I had pretty high hopes for Captain America. It is one of the follow-ons to one of the better superhero adaptations, in Iron Man. Indeed, in some ways this serves as a prequel to Iron Man, with Tony Stark’s father playing a prominent role and edging further toward the awaited Avengers series of films.
Captain America also featured some pretty solid casting. If you thought of one actor who could best serve as an action star and embodiment of what Hollywood would imagine as the truly American look, you’d probably end up with Chris Evans. Toss in Tommy Lee Jones as his grumpy commanding officer and Hugo Weaving (of Matrix Agent Smith fame) as your bad guy and you’ve got a start for some good scenes. Brits Dominic Cooper (as Howard Stark) and Haylee Atwell (as Agent Peggy Carter) rounded out the principal roster.
There’s nothing really distinctive about this short film, but it excels at entertaining and being moderately funny. Besides the unrealistic nature of finding a $900 per month, two bedroom triplex within walking distance of the Grove, there were plenty of moments in the film that rang true.
Directed by Chris Akers, the film stars John Forest, Wesley Stiller and Katharine Brandt as Alex. Forest, in particular, is excellent as the beleaguered everyman with the occasional Zach Morris ability to speak to the camera. Enjoy if you’ve got 20 minutes to spare.
Sometimes a short film is so gripping and well made that you get caught up in the action, character and vibe so much that your heart races as it would in a dramatic full length film. This is one such work.
Director Brandon McCormick, a veteran of the short film genre, wrote and directed this film for Whitestone Motion Pictures. It features two somewhat familiar faces in Justin Welborn and Sean Bridges in the primary roles.
It’s well acted, interestingly conceived (if not murky) and scored with a vengeance. Yes, the last three minutes are hardly traditional in their mix of acting and scoring, but it works and works quite well.