Sunday, August 31, 2008

Cinema Interruptus

Photo: promo shot from Notorious

Roger Ebert describes his "Shot at a Time" technique for watching movies. This is a method of stopping a movie at a random point and analyzing the frame in order to determine what the placement of objects or people, as well as the lighting, signifies and what effect this is meant to have on the viewer. About the above still from 'Notorious' he says:

Bergman on strong axis. Grant at left. Bergman lighter, Grant shadowed. Grant above, Bergman below. Movement toward lower right. The attention and pressure is on her.

In more general terms Ebert describes what the different parts of the frame means here:

Now what do I mean by "positive" or "negative?" I mean that these are tendencies within the composition. They are not absolutes. But in general terms, in a two-shot, the person on the right will "seem" dominant over the person on the left. Does this apply even to films from cultures that read right to left or top to bottom? From my treks through many Asian films, yes, it seems to.

A cool idea that I never thought of trying. I'm looking forward to trying this out with a DVD.

The World's Largest Record Collection

You have to admit...this is pretty cool.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Backlit Leaves

Photo: Leaves by Alan Green

Photo by Alan Green

Passengers

"Cautiously Optimistic"

I've felt cautiously optimistic about 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' since first seeing the trailer. It's a nice looking story with high gloss but it doesn't get under my skin. It's not the kind of thing I would see in the theater.

Peter Sciretta (/film) and Alex Billington (FirstShowing) post a video of their impressions of the 20-minute montage from Curious which played at Telluride, and I'm not surprised that they're thinking much the same thing -- it's nice looking but didn't quite make a sale (although Alex liked it better than Peter).

Others have hinted the same sentiment. Anne Thompson, as well-tempered as ever in her Telluride watch, says "The movie could go either way--toward Oscar season glory or inflated noble failure."

Jeff Wells, as usual, puts his cards on the table reporting overhearing grumbles from people that had just seen the 20-minutes of footage -- and going toe-to-toe with them (I would have liked to have heard that conversation).

Latest word from the studio is the movie will run "a little over two and half hours," as reported by Thompson. That's not too long but it's pushing the envelope (if the movie is not compelling [I can feel my butt getting numb already]), and it's a bit of an endurance test even for an engrossing experience.

I'd like this movie succeed. We need to be swept up by fables like this from time to time. We'll have to wait and see.

Total Commitment

Photo: poster for Transporter 3

They really pulled out all the stops for this one. Very Bond-esque.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008

More Max Payne

More honest and direct than the first trailer, which seemed skittish about the violence. Go figure. This one is better.

Keep It Simple

Photo: poster for He's Just Not That Into You

How else do you sell an ensemble piece about the complexities of relationships? List the names of the actors over a picture of a reality check candy heart. Says it all.

Us And Them

This is the trailer for 'Quarantine'.

Here's the trailer for '[REC]', the Spanish film which 'Quarantine' is a remake of:

It's interesting how the U.S. version objectifies the force of antagonism. 'Quarantine' is more literal and predictable in its approach and more 'us against them'. '[REC]' is more organic, more 'you against it' . '[REC]' makes you feel much more like you're there. 'Quarantine' feels more like watching a DVD.

'[REC]' is getting some very good reviews, and everyone is making a lot of the visceral audience reaction. Based on the trailers I would want to see it over 'Quarantine'.

Here's a teaser for '[REC]' that has a lot of heart. You know what's going to happen but the set up is so well done -- it's a fresh take, and it's effective:

Here's a pretty funny video of an audience reacting to '[REC]'. You don't get this too often in response to Hollywood horror movies. It's pretty real -- they loved it.

Monday, August 25, 2008

So Fast So Furious

Red One Camera Ushers In A New Era

Photo: Old truck by Alan Green

Remember the last time you bought a roll of film? It's a pain, huh. I've been a photographer since I was a kid and film has always been the single most restricting limiting factor I've had to deal with. Cameras and lenses cost a lot but keeping film in my camera would leave me broke. Sometimes, I couldn't afford to buy a roll and would have to forget about my hobby for a while. Those days are over thanks to digital photography. Yes, the cameras cost more than ever but the savings in film more than make up for it. I've shot about 40,000 images (in about 10 months) on the digital camera I'm currently using. Using very conservative estimates (36 exposures per roll x 1000 rolls = 36,000 exposures at a cost of $10 to buy each roll and $10 to process it. That's $20 per roll x 1000), it would have cost me at least $20,000 to buy and process the film needed to shoot that many exposures. That means, back in the day, a pro photog could shoot $20-100k worth of film in a year. Today, the only thing you need to process that many images digitally is a storage card, a computer, and back-up archive storage.

To shoot a movie you need thousands of feet of film, miles of it. Figure in all the costs involved and you spend a pretty penny on film alone. Production of dailies, transfer of negative film to positive film, etc -- costs gobs.

Photo: Red One digital video camera

Enter the Red One digital video camera. This is the first digital video camera capable of producing 'film quality' movies. The Red camera is being used by Steven Soderbergh to shoot 'The Informant' with Matt Damon, and other films have already been shot on Red prototypes. Certain parts of 'Jumper' were shot on one.

Photo: Still from Crossing the Line

This is a still from 'Crossing the Line' which is being shot (at least in part) on Red cameras by Peter Jackson. This shot doesn't have that pasty blocked-up look common to other digital video cameras. The high values in the clouds are particularly clean and there is no noise in the shadows. Skin tones are natural. (There's a bit of subject blur in this still that shouldn't be blamed on the camera).

Here's another still from 'Crossing the Line' which shows off the technical quality of the camera.

Photo: still from Crossing the Line

Click here or the image to see a full-sized file (4096x1743 pixels). The sharpness and resolution rivals what a professional digital still camera can produce, although the tonality is a bit flat. That was never the case for stills from movies shot on film -- they always looked lousy, gritty, horribly grainy, with bad sharpness, and color from another planet.

Here's a section of 'Crossing the Line' that was shot entirely with the Red camera:

Here's the trailer for 'Crossing the Line':

I think it looks great. The image sharpness and tone is better than film. The action doesn't have that jittery look common to digital video -- it's very smooth and 'filmic'. I can't pin down whether 'Crossing the Line' is shot entirely on the Red or not. Red.com implies it is, but other sources refer to the movie as being shot in part on the digi-cam.

I've never aspired to be a director but I might make a movie if I could afford a digital camera that produced 'film' quality imagery. (I just can't stomach the thought of shooting a movie on film [thank you, no] and the current crop of consumer digi-cams, although better than ever, do nothing for me.) Right now the cheapest Red costs more than a new Hummer, but the price is coming down quickly. Hopefully, there will be a pro-sumer version within a few years. Alternatively, makers like Canon may be forced to sell higher quality digi-cams at lower prices once the Red hits the consumer market. Until then I'll be saving my pennies.

Wonder Woman Poster

Photo: Wonder Woman poster

She sort of looks like Jennifer Connelly.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Up In Arms Over Trailer For 'The Duchess'

Amanda Foreman, who wrote the biography, Georgiana. Duchess of Devonshire, on which the movie 'The Duchess', starring Keira Knightley as Georgiana of Devonshire, has a problem with the reference to Diana, Princess of Wales, in the trailer for the movie which was produced by Pathe and is being shown on British television. In the opening seconds of the trailer a drawing of Diana fades in and out over footage from the movie with the captions: "Two women related by ancestry" followed by "United by destiny".

This is from The Times Online:

Amanda Foreman, who wrote the biography on which the film is based, said: "There is absolutely no reason to have done this trailer, which is a bad joke.

"The marketing people probably thought the only way they could get the young popcorn-eating brigade to see this film was if they made some comparison with Diana. But they did not need to and should not have done it."

While there are some similarities between the lives of Georgiana and Diana, nether Foreman’s book nor the film makes any reference to the former Princess of Wales.

The Telegraph quotes Foreman as adding:

She also said that the "united by destiny" tag is inaccurate.

"I don't actually think that Georgiana died in a carriage crash," she said.

According to the Mail Online, Knightley told Channel 4 "Marketing is nothing to do with me - you are going to have to ask whoever it was at the film company that thought that that was a good idea about that one."

And..."I don't know, it's nothing to do with me. I am just about playing the role that I was given which was not Diana, which was Georgiana."

While Georgiana is the great-great-great-great aunt of Diana it seems to me the 'connection' ends there. The trailer is a jaw-dropping embarrassment. It did, however, succeed in getting the movie a lot of free press, which will serve some idiotic suit in Marketing well.

Sunday Morning

Photo: shooting Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Penelope Cruz talks with Lynn Hirschberg on 'T Magazine'.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Crackle Rolls Out 'Coma'

From Crackle: Coma, Ep 1: The Blazer


So far,
Crackle is looking promising. Today Crackle rolled the debut of its bid in the webisode race with 'Coma'. The show has the same green-screen technique as 'Gemini Division' but the production value is higher. As for story -- too early to tell for sure. Like most webisodes, 'Coma' dishes out minimal plot per segment, but I already like it better than 'Gemini Division' or Stephen King's 'N is Here'. And...and...Crackle lets you embed content, and...and, it bills itself as 'Your online TV network'. Very smart. Here's the synopsis of episode 1:

Premiere episode! Crime syndicate captain Lennox (Michael Madsen) is part of a "hand-off" that should guarantee re-election for corrupt mayor (George Hamilton). Then Lennox is shot by a mysterious assailant. Was he set up?

3D! Coming Soon To A Theater Near You!

Still from Monsters vs. Aliens

The Intel Developer Forum (IDF for those of us savvy enuffy) is being held in San Francisco. On Wednesday, DreamWorks animation guru Jeff Katzenberg rolled out some 'Kung Fu Panda' footage re-rendered in 3D and the press reviews are glowing. I've always been skeptical about the resurgence of 3D -- I mean, haven't we already tried that? However, according to Katzenberg, "This is not your father's 3D." Okay, sounds like more hype to me. Add the fact that Katzenberg is calling the new 3D effect the "greatest innovation to occur in the movie business in 70 years" and, well, one hopes politely that DreamWorks can deliver. They better -- the studio plans to offer all its upcoming animated features in 3D where the technology is available starting with the 2009 release of 'Monsters vs. Aliens'.

Early word is encouraging. I particularly like MG Siegler's coverage of the 3D footage from 'Kung Fu Panda'. He says:

It was amazing.

I was sitting towards the back right corner of a huge room filled with thousands of people -- hardly the ideal movie theater experience -- and still, by the end of the several minute clip I felt totally immersed in the film.

Nice. Here's some live coverage of IDF by tech blogger Anand Lal Shimpi. Katzenberg also showed 3D footage from 'Monsters vs. Aliens' and Anand snapped a still photo. It looks very precisely done, but, of course, appears blurry without the 3D glasses.

Photo: still from Monsters vs. Aliens

All this makes James Cameron's 'Avatar' so much cooler. I hadn't given it much thought before but now can't hardly wait. With Avatar's mix of 3D and live action (and action capture) I'm betting there will be lines of sci-fi geeks (and everybody else) to see it, making it an appropriate follow-up to 'Titanic'.

Photo: X Wing fighter

I think the last time special effects were such a major draw was with 'Star Wars'. Luckily, 'Star Wars' was a marriage of good story and unprecedented practical effects, and people loved that. It wasn't long, however, before effects became superficial and bloated, and a substitute for good storytelling. Audiences got tired of that pretty quick -- they hated it. Today, effects are an expected by-product and can't be used to sell a movie at all. People don't even notice them anymore except when they're bad, which is often the case. We've returned to the natural state of things where you got to have Story to sell a movie. Movies that are heavy on effects but light on story are reviled by audiences -- think Star Wars prequels and Matrix cardboard cut-out sequels. Look at the redo of 'The Day the Earth Stood Still'. Nobody's clamoring to see the effects in that. All the talk is about plot.

It will be interesting to see what effect, special or otherwise, 3D has on box office biz (and the animation divisions at studios). I don't go to the movies anymore but I'd love to see something like 'Avatar' in 3D. I imagine we'll have other types of movies including live-action dramas in 3D soon enough. Inevitably, there will be some small indy 3D ensemble piece that wins an Oscar. It could be a reason to go to the theater again.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Vanity Fair Covers Paul Newman

Photo: Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. By Sid Avery

Patricia Bosworth has penned a lengthy appreciation of Paul Newman.

It's refreshing to find a well researched thoughtfully written long-form piece vying for attention in an internet filled with clipped shoot-from-the-hip blogs. (You can still find such well-crafted work [online] but, usually, it's not concerned with movies or movie stars). This piece has the charm of a long lost era. Check it out when you have the time to enjoy it.

Here's a taste:

Born in 1925, in Cleveland, Ohio, to a prosperous sporting-goods-store owner named Arthur Newman, Paul was raised, with older brother Arthur junior, by their mother, Theresa (a great cook), to be polite, read books, and appreciate music. Idealism and the Golden Rule came naturally to Paul, as did a taste for beer and a love of practical jokes.

He joined the navy during World War II (the war America believed in), and it was while he was in the Pacific serving as a radioman (after being dropped from flight-training school because he was color-blind) on a torpedo plane that he experienced his first brush with "Newman's luck." One afternoon his aircraft was grounded because the pilot he regularly flew with had an ear problem. The rest of his squadron was transferred to another aircraft carrier, which was subsequently hit by a kamikaze, killing the members of his team.

and

Every Tuesday and Friday, Newman showed up at the Actors Studio for class. He was bowled over by the creative diversity of the place--from the gnarled ancient actress Tamara Dakahanova, who had worked with Konstantin Stanislavsky at the Moscow Art Theatre, to Martin Ritt, a Group Theatre alum who would later direct Newman in six movies, including Hud. Newman would always credit the Studio as the major influence on his acting. "[It] was fabulous in those days," he told Rolling Stone. He would watch Eli Wallach, Anne Jackson, Kim Stanley, and Geraldine Page work on scenes. "I learned so much," he'd say. Years later, when he was president of the Actors Studio, in the 1980s, Newman would talk to us members about what good acting is --"not acting. It's reacting. You gotta be in the moment," he would say, "and always ask yourself the key questions an actor asks: Who am I? What am I doing here? Where am I going as the character?"

How can you resist that?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Jason Statham Talks Death Race

Photo: Jason Statham in Death Race

Yahoo has a nice promo for 'Death Race' with Jason Statham.

More Online Content Everyday

Photo: Excerpt from 30 Days of Night: Dust to Dust

FearNet.com has made the entire comic (or is it graphic novel?) 30 Days of Night: Dust to Dust available online. The online video production is available from the source at FearNet, and is also on Hulu.

I think we'll be seeing a lot of this type of cross-promotion online in the future. Goes like this: 1) release storyboards (with or without sound/acting like Stephen King's 'N is Here') for free, then 2) release a super low-budget video version in 5-7 minute webisodes (or, in King's case, publish the novel), 3) make your money by selling advertising during the webisodes, or by selling copies of the novel.

This approach seems very well suited for horror and sci-fi. Gemini Division, a plucky sci-fi thriller, just rolled out yesterday with two webisodes. There's no comic book teaser to go with it, however NBC doesn't really need that kind of thing to hook an audience.

Here's an episode of Dust to Dust I snagged from Hulu.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Secret Life of Bees

Gemini Division Starts Today

NBC Universal has launched the web-only show 'Gemini Division'. This is a sci-fi serial that plays in 5 to 7 minute segments. Here's the promo that was available in the Wired write up. Here's the site where you can watch the first segment.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Two Figures On A Hill

Photo: Two Women On A Hill by Alan Green

I took this shot yesterday at Gas Works Park in Seattle. The park is located just north of downtown on Lake Union and features a hill that's perfect for watching the sun set. Most summer nights there is a mellow crowd of people enjoying the free show.

This shot was taken about twenty minutes after sunset. The color is provided by a thin cirrus cloud that turned a beautiful shade of red. The shot is slightly manipulated to increase contrast and saturation (to compensate for what web publication typically takes away) but what you see is very close to what was actually there.

This reminds me of some German expressionist film or maybe a Tim Burton vision. Are they watching their son/husband go off to war? Very evocative.

The Road

Photo: Still from The Road by Macall Polay

Ext. ROAD - DAY

In the burnt, barren landscape, through swirls of soft ash and smoggy air the MAN appears dressed as if homeless, a filthy old parka with the hood up, a knapsack on his back, pushing a rusted shopping cart with a bicycle mirror clamped to the handle and a blue tarp now covering its load. The little BOY, similarly dressed with a knapsack on his back, shuffles through the ash at his side.

John Horn has a rundown on 'The Road', adapted from Cormac McCarthy's novel, directed by John Hillcoat (pictured on the right) with Viggo Mortensen, which is just about to wrap principal photography. Really looking forward to more of McCarthy's perspective on human nature after seeing 'No Country for Old Men'. One day I'll have to read his work -- but the 'one day' list keeps getting longer...

Production still by Macall Polay. Excerpt of screenplay by Joe Penhall.

Friday, August 15, 2008

N Has A Lot Of Backstory

Stephen King's 'N is Here' has finally gotten somewhere. After 15 expositional episodes, each about two minutes, patient N has described some sort of monster which has been kept captive inside a ring of stone monoliths (similar to Stonehenge), and how he, N, had become responsible for keeping the monster trapped within the monoliths. This is a typical King device -- The protagonist becomes aware of some strange supernatural goings on, then becomes involved, then attains a level of responsibility for how events are to unfold.

__________________________________________________________

SPOILERS: This backstory is told through compressed sessions with a psychiatrist, Johnny Bonsain. In episodes 14 and 15, N decides he doesn't need the help of a psychiatrist anymore and stops the sessions with Dr. Bonsain. A few days later N has committed suicide. Then, for reasons unknown, Dr. Bonsain decides to visit the monoliths and he also then commits suicide.

__________________________________________________________

This type of online episodic story probably has a future but I don't think the model 'N is Here' is using will succeed. It's too choppy at two minutes each and the style of animation gets a little old after several episodes. Plus, there are only 25 episodes and it took 15 of them just to lay out the exposition -- that's totally lopsided. Ten episodes for Act II and III? Maybe I'm missing something. I keep watching but I don't think most people would be as into it as I am. Still, I think we'll be seeing more of this kind of production in the future. The web is the perfect medium for this kind of storytelling. Would recommend jumping into the main plot quicker and delivering backstory on the fly, though.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Body Of Lies

Here's the new 'Body of Lies' trailer. Looking better than the first one. A good combo of high-tech and street work will be a selling point.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Death Race Red Bad...Oh, Sorry...Band, Red Band Trailer

As if it wasn't bad enough to witness Joan Allen deliver lines like "Release the Dreadnought" and "Activiate weapons" this trailer then proceeds to unspool one of the cheesiest action sequences I've ever seen.

The swirling, aerial, crash zoom, zip pan camera work does nothing to embellish the scene. In fact, it just seems a tad desperate -- as if they thought nutty camera tricks would magically transform this bit into compelling action. In the end all they managed was a mindlessly frenetic, barely cohesive, and tedious quick-cut visual mishmash.

Sound editing is just as ham-fisted. But, here at least, there is a utilitarian motive. Due to masterful level control, each 'ugh', 'umph', and 'aaaargh!!!' uttered by the hapless contestants can be heard with such clarity over rocket fire, grinding gears, rent metal, and the corresponding and inevitable fire-ball explosions, it's as if these disposable movie victims had conveniently crawled inside my ears to utter their protests while pounding their very fists upon my eardrums as they meet their imaginative yet predictable demise. However, as I said, there is a certain utility to this type of sound editing. How else could we hear such perfectly cut gems of dialogue as 'Jesus Christ!' and 'Fuck me!' if the ambient screeching wasn't lowered and controlled with neat virtuosity and deft timing as is on display in this clip? We might very well be left scratching our heads wondering why anyone would say 'Fud me' right before being impaled or shot or crushed or otherwise terminated.

Photo: still from Death Race

I had liked the trailers for 'Death Race' a lot and was planning on seeing it ASAP. But, after the above clip...I'll just hold off for a couple years or so and pick up a copy on DVD in the 2 for 1 bin at my local used video barn.

To the sound editors who made whispered dialogue as booming as a 50-caliber machine gun, I tip my hat. For you film editors who made this clip barely understandable...kudos. You, ladies and gentlemen, are at the top of your form, at the peak of your practice, at the very highest level of accomplishment. Now, please excuse me while I swab the blood from my ears and attempt to reassemble what's left of my shattered sensibilities.

I'm sorry. Did you say something? I didn't catch that. Hmm? You'll have to speak up.

Elegy Crew With Charlie Rose

Penelope Cruz, Dennis Hopper, and director Isabel Coixet talk with Charlie Rose about 'Elegy' and Philip Roth's writing.

A Look At Coraline

First Five Minutes Of Elegy

Photo: Ben Kingsley as David Kepesh on the Charlie Rose Show in Elegy

Ben Kingsley as author David Kepesh on The Charlie Rose Show from 'Elegy'. Apple has the first five minutes.

Geese Flying Past Light

Geese flying past light. Photo by Alan Green

Photo by Alan Green

Monday, August 11, 2008

David Strick's Hollywood Backlot

Carrie-Anne Moss on the set of Hanging Out Hooking Up Falling In Love. Photo by David Strick

Jada Pinkett Smith on the set of The Human Contract. Photo by David Strick

Have you seen David Strick's site? Above is Carrie-Anne Moss on the set of 'Hanging Out Hooking Up Falling In Love', and Jada Pinkett Smith directing 'The Human Contract' (which she also wrote).

Nick And Norah's Infinite Playlist

This could totally work. It's sort of like what a Rogen/Apatow project might be if it was directed by John Hughes.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Babylon A.D. Clip

Okay, so Vin Diesel isn't necessarily that convincing as 'a guy having dinner and sipping wine'. I guess it's hard to eat on camera. I have trouble off camera. But, I like the clip anyway.

Budovsky's Clerkenwell

This is Alex Budovsky's award-winning 'Bathtime in Clerkenwell'.

Here is the follow-up, 'Last Time in Clerkenwell'. Budovsky's site with bio and other info.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Sun and Monolith

Photo: sun atop monolith by Alan Green

Photo by Alan Green

The Haunting Of Molly Hartley

Punisher: War Zone

Here's the second trailer.

Rocketboom On Crackle

Online media outlet, Rocketboom, will be distributed on Sony's internet TV platform Crackle. Rocketboom features a daily rundown of world events with a humorous slant. One of my favorite Rocketboom features, however, is their Casual Friday video. This is one of my favorites:

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Burn After Viewing

Okay, it's really 'Burn After Reading', and it's still looking good. (Your computer will self-destruct 5 seconds after you watch this bit).

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Appaloosa Poster

Photo: Appaloosa poster

I don't know. The layout doesn't do that much for me. I don't like that the revolver is half-cocked (not that anyone would ever notice that). But, 'Feelings get you killed'? Come on. Please come up with something else or make the font on that tagline much smaller.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Clip From Mirrors

The editing here is choppy -- probably condensed to ramp up the intensity. I don't think this is a true clip as much as mini trailer taken from one sequence. If 'Mirrors' is edited at this pace then suspense is a lost art.

Sunset in Seattle

Photo: Seagull on lamp with sunset, Olympic Mountains in background. By Alan Green

I shot this yesterday evening from a park near Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle.

Photos By Mark Seliger

Photo: Naomi Watts by Mark Seliger

Vanity Fair has a tribute to the work of Mark Seliger.

Appaloosa

I believe this trailer is meant simply to reacquaint the audience with westerns -- we see so few of them we don't know what they are. The story isn't very clear but it's obvious who the bad guys and good guys are. Hopefully, future trailers will spell out the plot a bit better.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Sunset Olympic Mountains

Photo: Sunset, Olympic Mountains by Alan Green

This was taken from the deck of a ferry in Puget Sound yesterday evening just a few seconds after the sun dropped behind the Olympic Mountains.

Photo by Alan Green

Where The F Is Matt?


Who Is David Gordon Green?

David Gordon Green. Photo by Mark Veltman for The New York Times

NYT has a good work-up on the director of 'Pineapple Express', David Gordon Green, an indy guy whose work I've never seen, but who seems like a good match for an off kilter stoner romp.

Mr. Apatow said: "The basic idea of hiring inspired, independent-minded filmmakers is a much better way to go than to just hire shooters who will do anything you tell them to. What I like about what David did is that the movie retains our style and tone while merging with his. He really makes the characters and their relationships come to life and not feel like an afterthought."

I hadn't thought of it before reading this article but it's true, the footage from 'Pineapple Express' I've seen has a loose natural feel that matches the subject matter. Another director could have shot this movie in a by-the-numbers, conventional, flat, and totally inappropriate way. Green's work has that indy flow, especially the action sequences in the trailers. The last thing I'd call Green's vibe is 'mechanical'.

Pineapple Express. Seth Rogen and James Franco

There's an organic quality here. Like the fight scene in the apartment -- I don't think a more mainstream director would have/could have directed that sequence. The behavior is just too odd. It's too off putting, too strange for most directors. That's true for most of the plot of 'Pineapple Express'. Not to mention some of the dialogue (which you won't see in most trailers). I think most directors would have gotten squirmy about it and tweaked it toward Hollywood conventionality, which would have spoiled it.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Perfect Game

A little hokey but based on a true story. Excerpt from lancevanauken.com:

Photo: Angel Macias

At an average height of four-foot-eleven, most were too small to fit into any of the uniforms provided by Little League, so the team wore their home uniforms emblazoned with "Monterrey" across the front of the jersey. They had been eating well since leaving Mexico, and they gorged on food provided by Lycoming College. In fact, before the team entered the United States two weeks earlier for tournament play, the average weight per player was eighty pounds. When the World Series games actually started, many on the Mexican team had gained ten to fifteen pounds each.

By the time the final game rolled around, the boys from Monterrey were everyone's darlings. Then Angel Macias topped all the hoopla by retiring all eighteen batters he faced -- the first and last perfect game in Little League World Series championship game history. He did not allow a single ball to leave the infield.

Entire write-up here

Rachel Getting Married

Photo: still from Rachel Getting Married. Anne Hathaway

The official site has some very good hi-res stills and promo photos.

Winged Creatures

Pride And Glory

Saturday, August 02, 2008

TMagazine Covers Seth Rogen And James Franco

Photo: Seth Rogen and James Franco in Pineapple Express

The New York Times is shifting more and more to online video production and interactive content. They've had audio slideshows and video movie reviews for a while. Their latest move to becoming an internet TV platform is TMagazine and T Exclusive Films.

The names don't do that much for me but I'm liking the content. The latest segment features Lynn Hirschberg talking with Seth Rogen re: being a sex symbol, how he determines what kind of movies he wants to do, and writing 'The Green Hornet'.

Here's the segment with James Franco, about the bromance element of 'Pineapple Express', his inspirations for becoming an actor, and kissing Sean Penn in '(Harvey) Milk'.

So far, I've liked what I've seen from TMagazine. The segments marry the focus of an NYT article with the free-flow energy of an NPR interview a la Terry Gross. It certainly gives NYT more traction online than other news services. I just wish they'd make their content embedable. (Come on, guys, that's par for the course these days and drives a lot of traffic your way).

Rachel Getting Married

Good for Anne Hathaway and thank god Jonathan Demme has made another movie -- he doesn't make enough of them.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Tropic Thunder

Photo: still from Tropic Thunder

Kenny Fischer has a review of 'Tropic Thunder' over at Collider. He likes it:

...Downey Jr. kills everyone in this movie. His line delivery is great, but the blank and cocky expression that follows all the jokes is gold.

and

If you've gotten this far into the review you're probably the kind of person that's spoiled the entire movie and know where I'm going with this, but Tom Cruise is unbelievable in this. Who knew? He has amazing comic timing and his intensity works wonders in this context.

This really surprised me:

Matthew McConaughey's character and his arc actually gives the movie a lot of heart. It's a warm and unorthodox take on the profession and this is the most likable McConaughey has been in his entire career.

There's also a nice full-sized promo pic (reduced above). There's something in the shot I haven't seen in any of the promo material yet. Check out Nick Nolte's right hand:

Photo: crop from promo still for Tropic Thunder

Nolte's character has a prosthetic hand.

Okay, I checked around -- Nolte's character lost both hands:

Photo: still from Tropic Thunder

Bloody World Of Low-Budget Action Movies

James Franco on the difference between safety precautions on a big-budget movie and those of a small-budget gig.

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