When I first heard about THE SWEENEY the only thing I knew was that it starred Ray Winstone and he’d be a tough as nails, grizzled, rough & tumble cop. That sold me on wanting to see it. I knew nothing about the fact that it was an extremely popular television series in the 1970s. Nor that it was based upon an actual elite police squad that was taken down for truly working on the gray side of the law, using corruption and illegal tactics to take down bigger bad guys, but in the end being thrown in jail themselves.
In 2012′s THE SWEENEY, the elite police squad is just as gray. They’re the law, but they work outside the law and this isn’t sitting pretty with IID or Internal Affairs as we know them here. In many ways because of the fact that the story itself in over 30 years old and is just adapted for modern audiences with current technology, film style and such it can at times come off as cliché. I personally have NO issues with this, the best crime stories are not about the plot points, but the way they are delivered. THE SWEENEY delivers with bombastic, exhilarating action and intense, very natural acting.
The film as a whole had only one flaw. For the American audience or at least my own ears, I had to actually put the subtitles on. These are some of the thickest, most roughest United Kingdom accents I have ever heard in my life. Ray being the harshest of all, pulling in all his cockney to be a right bastard. That’s isn’t a detriment though, since I’m reviewing a Blu-Ray so subtitles? Just put them up there. Sure for someone who’s blind or can’t read this will be a problem, but do blind people watch action films? And do people without enough education to know how to read bother with films that have complicated plots with twists and turns and tons of character development? Maybe they do… but they can still enjoy this film, because well, if they can do that, then this film will have something for them.
The gun fights are crazy, the car chases are awesome, the cinematography is brilliant. Hell, just for the robbery, shooting and foot chase through Trafalgar Square which is covered extensively on the extras makes this film a must see.
Yet that isn’t the only greatness. There are two co-stars that bring a lot of notable excitement to the film on top of Winstone’s insanity. Hayley Battle, whom American audiences learned to love in Captain America is almost more dangerous and obviously way sexier than Ray (unless you’re thing is old, grizzled, beat up men) and turned in amazing performance. Between Falcon and this she’s quickly becoming a favorite of mine. This was also the first true star turn for musician Plan B also known as Ben Drew. His George Carter is just as important if not more important than Winstone’s Regan and he delivers a fantastic performance that really carries the film for at least 1/3rd.
THE SWEENEY is available on DVD ($20) and Blu-Ray/DVD Combo ($25) and dropped on April 2nd, 2013 (so you can go buy it now!)
Recently I had the pleasure to view Turk Pipkin’s latest documentary “Building Hope” at a special screening at Tribeca Theater. I had responded to the invitation as it had come at a very opportune and double sided time. I had recently met the ladies behind a wonderful non-profit called BeSomeoneNYC whose sole purpose is fundrasing and knowledge awareness of assisting a community in Tanzania. Additionally I’d been studying card tricks and magic which meant lots of Harry Anderson whom for years Turk worked alongside with. Combine those two fascinations and I couldn’t turn this opportunity down and I am very glad I did not.
The film as it stands strong without any of the background of Turk’s celebrity or the enormous success his non-profit The Nobelity Project. Although it is that celebrity that of course brings a major element of excitement to the film. Many will enjoy the snippets of a charity dinner & performance that feature Lyle Lovett and Kenny Rogers, it’s amazing footage that would work wonderfully out of context. Although that is not what I enjoyed the most. The actual story of the community featured in the film, the trials and tribulations of these young people’s every day lives, the saga and drama of constructing a building in a small African town from scratch, all of this combined. I was glued to the screen as this very true story unfolded in front of me over months and years of planning, development, failure and eventually success.
After the screening, Turk was joined by representatives of organizations heavily involved in developing education in these communities of Africa. It was a frank and very educational Q & A with more Answers than questions as each question asked would open up to MANY answers. I have uploaded what I was able to capture of that onto youtube for all to hear and watch:
The mini afterparty was a nice affair in which I got to speak to Turk further getting a bit of insight more into Nobelity and such. Unfortunately he told he’d forgot more about card tricks then he ever actually knew. That didn’t damage the event or the amazing documentary at all, but it was heartbreaking. I admire Turk for his amazing efforts in buidling schools and sustainable water in Africa, it’s really amazing.
The week after was BeSomeoneNYC’s amazing Mardi Gras event which featured amazing music and just a lot of fun and I felt priviliged that I was doing my small part with an organization dedicated to helping out those way less fortunate than I.
America during the time of pre-Civil War and Civil War itself was tumultuous, violent, full of bravery, regime, and the building of a nation that has evolved technologically and lawfully if not spiritually or mentally. The prejudices of the time are still rampant. The attitudes and personalities of the time a constant. The only thing that has changed is how society as a whole looks at these attitudes. From who are president is, to the type of entertainment audiences divulge and live off of.
It is quite fascinating to me that in 2012 two of the most lauded film makers of my generation and what I predict generations to come would approach a time period around the same time although very different, and yet extremely similar.
Over the winter I had the opportunity to see Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner’s LINCOLN and Quentin Tarantino’s DJANGO UNLEASHED. Clocking in at a combined 5 hours and 30 minutes they are both truly epic films filled with violence, stellar casts, amazing dialogues and what seem like lost opportunities in which even such expansive running times were not enough to deliver all the story and awesome that exists, especially in Tarantino’s DJANGO. There’s so much awesomeness in DJANGO that a comic book adapted from the original script being published by DC Comics.
I saw LINCOLN at the prestigious ZIGFIELD theater with a friend. It was a joint early Academy and SAG screening and Mr. Spielberg presented the film beforehand. A playbill/book was handed out which basically gave out some historical background that didn’t actually make it into the final film. In my opinion Tommy Lee Jones truly steals the film. His performance while still very “him” has a panache and delivery of conviction. His character a true hero of the times, at least as depicted here. History is very unclear and a bit possibly misguided in their presentation of Thaddeus Stevens and film has never been kind to him, probably because of the fact that he was actually a man who truly believed in equality, a rarity in those times and sadly even up till the 70′s. The cast was used in spectacular fashion here, everyone truly got a moment to shine, even the very short appearance by the rarely seen but always enjoyable Lukas Haas. It was an all together wonderful experience as well as an educational one and at least for me showed that Spielberg might still have it, either that or we’ll be able to say “Well at least did a couple good movies” in the future.
I saw Django Unchained at the IFC Center and got lucky enough to meet someone cool on line. The IFC room they used had really weird seats that went way too far back, making it a bit uncomfortable for a three hour film, but I think any theater has that problem, there’s no real answer. This is what I said about the film on Facebook directly after viewing it.
Django is a 3 hour spaghetti Western with some awesome Tarantino dialogue, amazing cinematography and severe waste of some of the talent used. It is not as good as Inglourious Basterds, but it is a very strong movie and for a guy who always says that a movie would be better if it had more nudity, the film delivered there for all genders.
Retrospectively it may have actually been better than Basterds, although with Basterds I never felt like any character was shortchanged, but I still really feel that Zoe Bell was completely unused. I felt her role and her inclusion in the film could’ve led to something quite amazing. We never get the one thing Spaghetti Westerns or any Western really offer. Even the Western comics that Quentin loved. He never get a real one on one battle between the hero and that one tough enemy who we don’t know if he can beat. Not a single villain is a bad ass. They’re all pushovers. Mentally strong and that is shown, but I would’ve loved just one battle where Django had to really fight one on one, mano y mano with a ne’er do well that was more than him and Django had to use HIS wits to defeat. Saying that, the film really paints an intriguing picture of pre-Civil War South, the South that Lincoln would soon have to contend with, the degenerate,m backwards thinking, bigoted racist South. I have to think Django got drafted during emancipation and died in the war or went into hiding and died an old man with not much to speak for but his freedom, yet sometimes… Freedom is all anyone asks for.
Both these films state that, freedom, equality be it by the land of the law or the societal measures, freedom is a thing one should be grateful for, always.
One of the most exciting and coolest companies I discovered in my pre-NYCC research and then further at the show was Redbubble. Since the show I’ve been tracking the site when I can finding designs that truly struck my fancy and I thought would make cool T-shirts or stickers to own or in the very least wallpapers for my computer.
Redbubble is an absolutely awesome art community site,much like Flickr, Deviantart, and even Threadless, but has its own special vibe & design style that truly makes it stand out. Founded in 2006 by three artists & writers to help create a new marketplace for creative visual artists of all realms, the company has grown to feature over 200 thousand plus artists and help assist in over one million orders in nine million products ranging from shirts, stickers, iPhone cases, prints, calendars and full expanding branding for artists to stamp their visions on and see profit for their creations.
Working with various different companies to get the items printed everything is of high quality which I experienced first hand through a totebag, various stickers and a logoed shirt which have all come in very handy and have stood up to regular use.
The easiest and most exciting thing on Redbubble is its very intelligent alogorithm search engines and suggestions of new best work to find art you really love. I’ll be sharing some of that at the end, basically in my own preference, but I want to publicly thank Peter Tomassi and the entire staff at Redbubble. At NYCC they proved they don’t just run an excellent site, but can run an awesome convention booth experience. This was the first year they had brought product to the show for sale and their success blew me away. They really tried to cater to the current pop-culture fan with shirts ranging from TV, to movies, to comics, video games and basic nerd language. The booth itself was really set up greatly and the workers were totally sweet.
My favorite type of images to find on Redbubble have been the ones that mashup a popular concept with something you wouldn’t expect or that just looks at the character, person, pop culture phenom in a new way that really catches the eye. It could be a movie, cartoon, professional wrestling, TV show, actor, it doesn’t really matter, I just really like images that switch things up. There are few artists I’ve found on the site who I really like such as Lapuss and Leigh Wortley. Here’s three images I really liked on Redbubble, the first is New Mutant’s Warlock and Cyber in Calvin & Hobbes style by Leigh, the second is Fozzie Bear as Clockwork Orange’s Alex by Chris Wahl and the last is Showtime’s Dexter if it was a 1940′s WB Cartoon by Lapuss.
All three of these are available as shirts or stickers. I haven’t personally decided what to get or to get all three or to get everything on the site. It’s that awesome.
This took me a long time to write as I tried to consolidate my thoughts on various films coming out and what information, trailers, websites had provided in a way to actually at minimum really interest me. There are a lot of films not listed that still excite me coming soon such as TOTAL RECALL, PARANORMAN, THE MASTER, ARGO, WRECK IT RALPH, RISE OF THE GUARDIANS, GREAT GATSBY, JACK REACHER, and LES MISERABLES among others. So here’s others and why I might want to see them.
The Expendables 2: The first Expendables was lacking a bit in the end. It was fun and action packed, but a lot of it was too little, too late. I get a bit of a feeling that the character development here will also be lackluster, but we are guaranteed a few things. Tons of awesome action from Chuck Norris, a Stallone vs. Van Damme fight and Arnold Schwarzenegger quipping with Bruce Willis. The trailer showed very little of Crews or Couture so I’m going out on a limb and guessing that Helmsworth and Yu replace them early in the film. That’s just a guess though. There’s lots of explosions, fights and whatever, so hey, it has that.
Robot and Frank: This is the first full length feature for director Paul Schreier and screenwriter Christopher Ford, but not their first work. Previously Ford worked on the puppet cop comedy Fuzz and Paul has made some great commercials. For this near future story in which a retired crook teams with a robot meant to just get him out a slump they’ve been able to garner quite some major talent. Frank Langella is the Frank in the title and his possible girlfriend is Susan Sarandon. It’s hard to believe Sarandon is old enough to play a potential mate to Frank Langella, because she still looks fabulous. Liv Tyler and James Marsden are Frank’s children and Jeremy Sisto is the cop who suspects Frank is back to his old tricks. It all looks really fun and sweet.
Killer Joe: This will be the second time playwright Tracy Letts will have teamed with director William Friedkin to bring one one of his emotionally charged, extremely powerful productions to the “silver” screen and with it everything is amped up. As his last film was an adaptation of a confined room thriller, this is a large scope epic twist after twist crime drama. On top of having a disturbed Matthew McCouhney who has truly come into his own as a talent, the film also stars the amazingly sexy and talented Juno Temple, whom I have the hugest celebrity crush on.
The Campaign: Two completely unlikeable characters played by guys who know how to really nail that “fuck I hate that guy” in Will Ferrell and Zach Galifaniakis. The trailer is full of vitriol and bad humor, but I’m hoping that since it’s a Jay Roach film and a Chris Henchy script there’s way more than meets the eye. I just finally saw “The Big Year” which on paper sounded excellent, then trailers made it look so horrendous I avoided it like the plague and then I finally saw it and discovered that the it was one of the worst editing jobs on a film in forever. So yeah, this actually might have promise. Zach is playing a super flamboyant guy who might not know he’s gay and Will is doing his best Mitt Romney.
KILLING THEM SOFTLY: Andrew Dominik tackled another very difficult book to translate to screen, teaming up once again with Brad Pitt to bring Cogan’s Trade byGeorge V. Higgins to life. The last film based on a Higgin’s film is the modern classic Friends of Eddie Coyle, so with the track record of that and Dominik’s track record of CHOPPER and the very slow, but mesmerizing Assassination of Jesses James By The Coward Robert Ford. Pitt is joined by crime veterans Ray Liotta, James Galdofini, and Sam Shepard. I’m not too keen on the title change and like Gangster Squad and even Lawless these movies that grandioize crime and guns might get these films pushed back or who knows.
LAWLESS: This could be the secret best film of 2012, directed by John Hillcoat, who has proved his ability of making amazing modern westerns with The Proposition and The Road worked from an adaptation by muisician/poet/novelist Nick Cave of the “based on a true story” novel by Matt Bondurant, the ancestor of the characters in this film. It has a questionable lead in Shia Lebeouf, but with Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman and Guy Pearce as costars it should be a strong period piece about moonshine, guns and gang warfare.
GANGSTER SQUAD: With L.A. Confidential, the video game L.A. Noire, the upcoming TV show L.A. Noir, the more recent Public Enemies and plenty more, films about the Mafia in L.A. Might seem old hat. What makes Gangster Squad different then? Well, for one Director Ruben Fleischer. After Zombieland and 30 Minutes or Less it’ll very interesting what he does with a script from a TV writer based off a seven part L.A. Times series of articles built in truth and fiction. The other major thing will be the first actor in over 20 years to tackle a major figure like Mickey Cohen will be an actor practically born for the role in Sean Penn.
Soldiers of Fortune: While the director is a complete unknown and it seemed to take three unproven screenwriters to develop this, the cast and plot sell it strong. The trailer shows it to have plenty of action, a good assortment of interesting characters who might be one dimensional, but rounded enough to know who they are when they’re shooting and being shot at. I don’t expect much from it, but one doesn’t ever expect much from self appointed action films. They’re action films, they know what they are and shouldn’t be criticized unless they have no good characters. That is the most important thing. Good characters and no plot holes (such as they mention no one has a gun and five scenes later they all have guns but there’s no scene where they finally find guns).
Anna Karenina: In what will be in my accounting, only the fourth and in by some merits only the third full scale adaptation of the Leo Tolstoy classic, in terms of current standards to the past, the most talented pairing and cast (well, no one can beat Garbo, but still), director Joe Wright uses a brand new adaptation by one of the best playwrights and screenwriters of the last 45+ years Tom Stoppard. With Jude Law and Aaron Thompson in the meaty roles there’s strength, so that even if Keira Knightly falters, her beauty and the talent around her will keep her up. I haven’t had issue with Keira personally, but I know people do, so I played Devil’s Advocate here.
LOOPER: I’m not completely sold on Joseph Gordon-Leavitt being Bruce Willis or Bruce Willis being Joseph Gordon Leavitt but espite that, the third original feature from Rian Johnson looks amazingly cool. After BRICK and THE BLOOM BROTHERS he is definitely becoming one of those type of directors who makes films you just feel like you need to see. He’s also not keeping it simple in terms of choices as a director. While all three films are centered around crime, they’re so different it’s even more interesting what he might do after LOOPER. LOOPER also might have the best chance of having an interesting novelization done for it by someone like Tim Lebbon, Terry Bison or Alan Dean Foster. Especially since this is the rare original scripted film here.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower: After 10 years since it was published and its author experiencing the trials and tribulations of creating a TV show, having it canceled, saved and canceled again and even get a third season in comics, the highly touted and best selling book has been adapted from a screenplay by the author who also directed. This film has the major factor of being Emma Watson’s first major starring post Potter role and if the trailer is indication, she will be a force for years to come.
PITCH PERFECT: This might seem like a stupid comedy with singing, but I have a feeling it will actually be much more intelligent. Much like MEAN GIRLS seemed like it’d be lame then you realized that Tina Fey wrote it and boom it was awesome, this film is written by Tina’s best friend and a top writer on 30 Rock, Kay Cannon. She did base it on a real story, merging elements from college acapella competitions detailed in a book with the same name. On top of the writer though the director is Broadway’s Jason Moore, who has directed Avenue Q, Shrek and even Les Miserables. Then you have the cast who are actually talented actresses and singers Brittany Snow and Anna Kendrick are the main leads, but filling out on singing is worldwide pop music phenom Ester Dean and the Australia’s funny fat girl Rebel Wilson handles the stupid comedy.
(An interesting aside, Mean Girls was also based off a non-fiction book and merged concepts and elements from it to create the comedy)
(all images here are fixed remake versions based on the official marketing by the studios)
To travel around the world without leaving home there are only three ways. The first is to jump around the internet which really doesn’t count, the next is to visit Epcot Center in Orlando, Florida which has a pavilion of buildings representing many countries except unless you live in Orlando that would count as leave home, so the real way is through the power of film and exotic restaurants. The added addition of films is you get to time travel as well.
On the last week/first week of February/March 2012 I got to visit New Zealand, India, The United Kingdom and Monaco and each adventure was quite amazing.
It started out with getting to see Taika Waititi’s latest feature BOY at a special screening at Knitting Factory Brooklyn. Taika is an Oscar nominated film maker who is best known for his very popular Eagle vs. Shark and his work with Flight of the Conchords. BOY takes place in the early 80s and tells a truly funny, smart and compelling film about a young man in rural New Zealand. He lives in a very small town full of lush landscapes and beauty in a very poor but sustainable lifestyle. The bulk of the film is about his father’s return to town after a stay in prison and the changes that come to Boy’s life in that time. The film has some awesome fantasy sequences including animation, music video recreations and uproarious photo montages. The film has so much heart, but its also full of kinetic energy. The landscape scenes of New Zealand’s lush green are an amazing stark contrast to the poverty of the houses and town, creating a vibe in the film of hope full with hopeless that so much of life contains. When so much changes, it also always feels the same, as people come in and out of your life, relationships change, emotions evolve, personalities develop further and BOY finds a way to express all that through a simple story with complex situations.
After the film I had the pleasure to meet Taika himself and he was very down to Earth and open. That feels like it’s changed a bit in his very humorist updates on his Kickstarter, but I’m pretty sure it’s still humble despite the films instant smash success in America. I had asked him some simple questions about the film, in both its making and its message and he expressed himself with an honest and passionate discussion. If you have the chance to see BOY while its on its US tour, do so… but hopefully this will all lead to a North American DVD/Bluray available at a reasonable price and not imported from New Zealand for multi-zone players.
Before seeing BOY I had dinner at Bay Leaf, an excellent Indian place off of Bedford. It’s actually from what I can tell the only Indian cusine in that area of Williamsburg. Traditionally I have Thai when out there, but since I was alone for the evening I got to try out this place and it was excellent. Actually some of the best tasting Indian I’ve ever had. I ended up having Indian again on Thursday at one of the places on 1 and 6th and they paled in comparison at least flavor style, in my opinion. Both meals were amazing and filling, but Bay Leaf was a tantamount experience followed by an amazing movie I had really desired and meeting its star.
I had gone to Sunshine Cinema on Thursday evening to see a Village Voice screening of SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN starring Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt with Amr Waked and Kristin Scott Thomas. It was directed by Lasse Hallström from a screenplay by Simon Beaufoy, two masters of adapting complicated novels into exceptional films. The novel in question here is by the same name and was written by Paul Torday, while never having not read the book, I ascertain from what I can find online that it was very comedic in nature, a great satire filled with a poignant story. The film strips a a bit of that comedy down to just the barest essentials I feel, but still delivers a poignant story with a completely non-allegorical political message alongside an a subtly allegorical life message. Amr Waked is the best thing in this entire film outside of the travelouge. His performance is so strong it is unfortunate when this film has debuted in America, as if it wasn’t directly after The Oscars he would be a shoo-in for a Best Supporting Actor nomination if not a win and as there’s no Acting Nods for foreign films, well… He is just that good though. As said, next comes the visuals. The film travels throughout the UK and Monaco and truly shows them off with a flair. A much higher flair than New Zealand is shown in BOY, but here LOCATION was a character where in BOY it was just a setting. Every space becomes as important to the events and the story as the people themselves. Traditionally one would credit the Director of Photography for this, but Terry Stacey’s previous work was never at a scale like this, so I’ve gotta think that Beaufoy’s script and Lasse’s directing propels this magnificence. Look at Simon’s 127 Hours or Slumdog Millionaire or Hallström’s many films to see their hands in the work no matter who the cinematographer is. SALMON is parable in many ways, just as the concept of salmon fishing in the yemen is a metaphor for life itself.
Through these two films and two wonderful meals I got to see and feel life, love and imagination and for just a moment feel like I’d left New York City and traveled the world.
(It must be stated that unfortunately BOY is currently only scheduled for the following cities: New York, Throughout California (LA, SF, etc.), Boston, Seattle, Washington DC, Atlanta, GA and Santa Fe in Texas with various different opening dates at specific theaters which you can see here.
and SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN opened March 9th in Limited Theaters in New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington DC and Philadelphia. Info can be found here.
As stated above on BOY, hopefully both films will recieve North American DVD/Blu-Ray releases, they are both worthy.)
In February 2012 I took an afternoon walk to the zoo near my house, Queens Zoo in the Flushing Meadows Corona Park and decided to spontaneously record it with my iPhone. It would be my last video I would film having long hair. I’ve gotten some personal praise from friends on it and felt it was time to share beyond Facebook and my Youtube page.
My concentration on the Oscars each year is focused in one section primarily, the animated shorts. While I tend to only concern myself with the five nominated features I have in the past also made an effort to check out the short listed films as well, sometimes the best film isn’t exactly the ones that got nominated. That is not the case this year, but all of the short listed films that did receive a nomination this year deserve notice and recognition.
This category has been a part of the Academy since the fifth incarnation of the awards ceremony, but for many of those years the field was dominated by Walt Disney, Warner Bros. and MGM. In the 60′s a change began as foreign works began to be nominated as well smaller productions. In 1974 when the award officially became Short Films (Animated Films), known before as Short Subjects (Cartoons) it also took a special change as that year Will Vinton won with the very psychedelicClosed Mondaysthat he animated with Bob Gardiner. It was not the first time an unusual or abstract toon had won the award, in 1965, a very simplisticThe Dot and The Line took home the award and two years prior the similar in animation style The Critic and even going back to 1959′s Moonbird, an abstraction of style based on a radio recording. The win of Will Vinton though would usher in a whole new field to award, which would embrace all kinds of animation. Pixar’s second film Luxo Jr. was also its first nominated and its fourth Tin Toy was its first win in 1988, its 5th and 6th shorts would also win in 1997 and 2000. Amazingly they have not won the award since, but have had a short up for nomination in every year they produced one theatrically since, except for 2009 when Partly Cloudy got nodded out. That push outprobably came from the nomination of the most recent at the time Wallace & Gromit short b y Nick Park, 3 time winner of this award with 2 other nominations.
Throughout 2000-2010 there has been everything in the nominations from CGI to traditional animation. Claymation, conceptual, new technology, it has run the gamut and from every conceivable country. Before breaking into this year’s nominees for the 84th Ceremony I’ll be quickly listing some of my personal favorites, with some information and links to a trailer, official website or the ability to see the cartoon yourself (in some cases all). These have been either winners or nominees and nothing unlisted is meant as a snub. These are just my personal aesthetics.
OKTAPODI: A production out of Gobelins L’Ecole de L’Image, this a simple love story about two octopus or possibly squids done in CGI that was one of the most heartwarming things I’ve ever seen and to know it was was developed by people who at the time were still “students” amazes me.
Strange Invaders: Cordell Barker is easily one of the funniest animators to ever create. A two time academy award winner, first in 1988 with The Cat Came Back and again with this, there is something quite infectious about his work. It is a very gruff art style indeed, but undeniable in its quality.
Granny Ogrimm’s Sleeping Beauty: Based on the comedy of Irish stand-up Kathleen O’Rourke who voiced the titular character, this maniacally hilarious short is simple and sweet… well not sweet exactly and comb. It combined CGI with a storybook like flat animation for an amazing look.
Logorama: One of the most intriguing pieces to not only be nominated but win this award, the incorporation of quality music and story is what makes what could be what a design student made as a thesis into high quality art created by a masterful studio.
The Lost Thing: Last year’s winner shows what can truly be achieved with the short film animation format, narrated by comedy musician Tim Minchin it tells a fairly “large” story adapting a children’s book that is not so simple.
Short Listed for 2011/84 Academy Awards Cul de Bouteille: This magical adventure uses traditional animation with a very sketch-like style to tell a fantastic little tale. It is a darling French toon and worth seeing if you find it.
Paths of Hate: Looking almost like a Motion Comic and/or Animatic this very charged action short shows how violent and atrocious war can truly be.
Magic Piano: This short was developed by the team behind award winning Peter & The Wolf as a commission to Chopin’s birthday and was used for the The Flying Machine, a feature film which the team worked on as well, staring Heather Graham. As the film is more a collection of shorts combined into a feature to display famed pianist Ling Ling performing Chopin I don’t think it’ll make it to America outside of arthouses and maybe a DVD, but one can hope. Although as the short didn’t make final nominees possibly not.
Lumaris: This is a very different kind of animation. I didn’t get to see the entire thing , but it is very intriguing in its style, although I feel it belongs more in Live Action even if it is a type of animation, using real photographs of humans for stop motion is an original way to create.
I Tawt I Taw Puddy Tat: A new high quality CGI animation over Mel Blac’s 1950 recording of the hilarious composition. One is planned for Daffy’s Rhapsody as well, although who knows with not getting an Oscar nod here. I have to assume shortlisting is enough merit to continue a project for a major studio.
Nominated for the 2011 Academy Award for Short Films (Animated) Daminche/Sunday: Simply animated with nothing but grunts this feels like a vaudevillian silent film. A very small story about an average Sunday that turns out to be nothing but ordinary for one young man. Animator Patrick Doyon previously worked on the program Station X and has a background in illustration.
Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore: The first work from acclaimed storyteller and academy award winner William Joyce’s new production company Moonbot Studios is an amazing piece of animation, and equally as a film itself. Mesmerizing in tone, scope and concept, it is easily my personal favorite of the category that I have been able to see in full. The entire making of is really worth seeing as well.
A Morning Stroll: I haven’t been able to see this one, just a very short trailer and some screen shots, but it looks impressive and a combines all the talents of director Grant Orchard with minimalism, illustration and CGI.
Wild Life: This painted style animation tells the story of a young British early 1900′s America Canada. It was directed and animated by Amanda Forbus & Wendy Tilby who have previously been nominated for the award.
Pixar’s La Luna: The one that most won’t see till it officially premieres with BRAVE, but did show at some theatre in 2011 to be submitted for nomination. I am excited for this one as it was designed and directed by Enrico Casarosa, whom I became a fan of through his comics work published in FLIGHT. I’d only hope for La Luna to win so that folks like Enrico can make more shorts and possibly Scott Morse will be able to do an original short of his own conception as well.
Interesting side note: Two of the nominated shorts feature a Pork pie hat and in one the hat is an important player like in old silent films (mostly because the lead character is based on Buster Keaton).
In 1996 all four of the nominated films were of extremely different conceptual styles and innovations in animation in abstract, claymation and CGI.
They were as follows:
Quest: A very abstract puppetry, written and produced by Thomas Stelbach and directed by Tyron Montgomery. Stelback now works in commercial films throughout Germany and Montgomery works in visual effects.
CanHead: Stop motion animation by Tim Hittle which at the time used innovative new techniques in filiming and developing. He is currently an animator at Pixar.
La Salla: A computer generated animation by Richard Condie, it was the long time traditional abstract comedian’s first CGI toon.
My favorite part of Sherlock Holmes: A Book of Shadows involved a flip book. My second favorite scene involved nudity. My third favorite scene involved tons of explosions and some truly fine editing and cinematography.
I’m not sure who the flipbook was made by, but I’m guessing in terms of concept it must;ve been Guy Ritchie or The Mulroney’s idea.
In terms of that film work though, one can Philippe Rousselot, a french photographer/cinematographer who has worked since the 1970s, has won an Oscar, various BAFTA’s and even directed the Cannes’ Palme D’Or nominated Serpent’s Kiss. He also filmed the first Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes.
I can’t really discuss the nudity without giving something away. Some will hate it, others will applaud, some will find it out of character, others will be able to make the argument that it is in character. I mean there are arguments that can easily be made on both sides for the entirety of Guy Ritchie’s version of Sherlock Holmes. Arthur Conan Doye’s writing style was always designed to be open for interpreation. Although the ones who argue that it isn’t, obviously don’t even understand what the hell they’re talking about and I’d be willing to go fisticuffs with any fool who thinks otherwise. Oh and I can assure you I know how to win, but I can’t say how they’ll lose. It could be many ways, broken nose, shattered shoulder, broken solar plexus.
Off my proverbial high horse I truly enjoyed Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, equally as I enjoyed the first film, the Mulroney’s wrote a fine script which based on credits wasn’t doctored. I’ll be buying this one on bluray and probably will watch it anytime it shows up on HBO like I do with the first. Is it a high class film? No, it’s a perfect “popcorn” flick but with a tinge of intelligence so as to make it above the cut.
Rango: Gore Verbinkski’s animated western affair was a total delight to the eyes. Accompanied by an amazing soundtrack and perfectly well done jokes, I loved every moment of it. I was sorely disappointed when the blu-ray came out without the one component I felt it surely needed though. The film was made by having the actors actually perform the entire film on a soundstage as if it were play. Snippets of this were seen in the trailers and I was really hoping to see the entire version of this, but alas. So as much as I loved RANGO, that hurt it’s long term love for me. It’s an awesome film though.
Take Me Home Tonight: I was not expecting to enjoy this. After the debacle of other films that tried to recapture that 80′s spirit or the concept of the insane night of partying, I never thought there was a chance I could like this. Yet it came on to HBO and I quickly got entranced by Topher Grace. On That 70′s Show he was probably my least favorite, but he’s evolved a bit and he has a strange mix of Jason Bateman and Michael J. Fox in him. Anna Faris didn’t hurt here either and having Demetri Martin, Bob Odenkirk and Michael Ian Black in important cameo roles really helped.
Hobo With A Shotgun: Holy hell was this a sick freaking film. It was way better than it ever deserved to be, one can of course thank the cast for that, because the film itself actually isn’t really good. The gore effects are fun and the violence is excellent, but the writing is garbage, the oversaturated film stock effect and scratches to make it “grindhouse” worked against it visually and the nudity was really luke warm. Rutger Hauer, Trailer Park Boy’s Robb Wells and Rookie Blue’s Gregory Smith really help bring it from waste of film to worthwhile fun viewing.
Hanna: This flick just blew me away and I had hyped myself up huge for it too. I got to hear Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana and Joe Wright talk about the film, the intense training and the setup of film making at the New York Comic Con in 2010 and everything really geared me up for it. I was not disappointed in the least. It is not a perfect film by any means, but it is amazingly shot, Saoirse is a joy to behold and there are elements that just make it an infinitely a watchable flick that I can see myself returning to over and over.
Beginners: Quite possibly my favorite film of the year. I recently watched it again and I loved it all over again, reassuring my previous feelings and thoughts. It actually jumped ahead of its previous spot in this rewatch. Melanie Laurent and Christopher Plummer truly deserve Oscar nominations for this film. Mike Mills is a horrible artist, but he is an amazing story teller and film maker. Listening to the commentary track and hearing him point out things that definitely made the film better but that even my trained eye missed because I was too attached and pulled into the narrative turned the film into not just a heartwarming tale, but a real mastery of cinema for me.
Captain America: If anything has come close to really being a quality live action adaptation of a comic book, it has to be the Markus & McFeely written, Joe Johnston directed The First Avenger. It hit all the right notes of feeling like a comic book literally translated from the page to the screen. I of course am not trying to discount Sin City here, that is a remarkable film but that fells more like recreation than adaptation in my mind. This film borrows from the comics without actually fully just recreating them as live action sequences. Plenty of quality inside jokes, awesome action, conceptual changes that fit the Marvel Movie universe better and not that he’d ever get acknowledged but Hugo Weaving deserves an Academy nomination.
Hugo: One of the most stunningly visual films in years, Martin pours every inch of himself on to the screen. You can tell he loves Méliès as much as Brian Selznick, if not more so. John Logan did almost a pitch perfect script adaptation of the book which Martin painstakingly tried to envision on screen. He made the decision to use Brian’s art as full inspiration for the look and feel of the film and it showed through every sequence. It was filmed in 3D, although this was not necessary to make an a good film, it ended up allowed for effects 2D imagery would not allow, such as seeing an eye through a clock, the inside of the clock and at the same time what the flock sees… the intricacies of the new 3D technology which also allows for hologram like effects was amazing on the big screen. I am actually worried how this one will translate/did translate to 2D. I’ll discover when it comes to dvd/blu ray since I don’t own a 3D TV and won’t for a long time. The performances in this are fabulous as well, Ben Kingsley dazzles, but Chloe Grace Moretz and the young Asa Butterfield are the the film and rightfully so.
The Muppets: I went in with trepidation and not all my fears were uncured, there are a hell of a lot of flaws in this film. Flaws that one could say “It’s a ‘Muppet’ movie, why are you trying tear it apart?” but I’d return with “It’s also a Jason Segel script, who is an intelligent writer and works on one of the most continuity driven shows on television, he should know better, but I do realize Bobbin and Thomas might’ve been the derailers (sic)”. So it’s really not a perfect film, but it is Muppets and Whitmire and Goelz really tried to keep the magic alive. Also, “Muppet of a Man” is one killer freaking song. The actual episode of The Muppet Show Special in the film is quite special as well.
Sherlock Holmes – A Game of Shadows: I utterly adored the first Guy Ritchie version of Holmes. Every element of it. The acting, the story telling, the cinematography, the action, the music, the set design, the costumes. In Game of Shadows, the only factor that goes in a much different design and direction is story telling, but it’s applicable to the story they are telling. This movie is less about an actual mystery and sleuthing, but about about precognition, notice, strategy and fore thought. While the first film showed the Holmes that would inspire a Gregory House or Adrian Monk who breaks down the mystery as he goes along or ties it all together at the end, this time we see the side of him that inspired characters like Sean Spencer and Patrick Jane who see the plot as it unfolds and is always one step ahead of the villain. I’ve already written another review of the film which explores it differently and expands why I loved it, but I felt here I’d speak from another point of view.