September 15, 2014

The New MOCKINGJAY PART 1 Trailer Looks Like A Movie I Might Finally Enjoy

I've always suspected that the best parts of the Hunger Games story would be found in the last installments and from the look of this trailer those suspicions seem to be correct.  We've finally moved past the pretense of the Games, which have only been marginally successful on screen, and now we're digging into an all out rebellion against the Empire.  Err, the Capitol

I feel like most people were pretty unhappy about the way things wrapped up when Mockingjay came out, but those are just the half-remembered whispers I overheard while I was busy not reading any of the books.  This certainly looks like the most cinematic of Katniss's adventures so far and I'd be lying if I said the idea of an authoritarian dictatorship and a plucky rebellion each pitting their own puppet warriors against each other didn't sound like fun.  I could go without the love triangle stuff, but what are you gonna do?  If nothing else, it's a chance to see a new Phillip Seymour Hoffman performance on the big screen and we don't have many more of those left to enjoy.

I expect to come home and find my wife watching this trailer on an infinite loop from now until November.

Podcast Episode 30: ROGER RABBIT And Robin Wright At THE CONGRESS

The first 30-40 minutes of Ari Folman's The Congress is absolutely riveting.  Robin Wright plays a fictionalized version of herself, an actress who threw away her early stardom in order to take care of her young son.  Now, as the filmmaking process stands on the edge of a massive shift away from flesh and blood actors, Robin is offered one last contract by a studio who wants to digitally scan both her physical and emotional likeness in order to insert her into whatever film they see fit.  Folman and Wright clearly have a lot to say about the power of choice and the nature of control, and maybe it's just my love of Hollywood inside baseball but the whole thing is fascinating.

And then we jump 20 years in the future and becomes largely animated, and while the visual palate is both fun and stylish, the story goes somewhat off the rails here. I think it's mostly because the status quo of this new world is not very firmly established before the audience is dropped into a communal hallucination where it becomes difficult to distinguish reality from imagination. It's a visual feast to be sure and often quite funny, but it also borders on incoherent at times.  I was expecting to see Wright interacting with various incarnations of her artificially created self, but instead she gets embroiled in some kind of revolution before emerging into an apocalyptic nightmare in search of her son. 

Still, even in its weaker moments the film is always engaging, and in its stronger moments you cannot tear your eyes from the screen. You should watch this movie if only for the actual scanning scene where Harvey Keitel, as Robin's agent, delivers a heart-breaking monologue that will burn itself into your memory. 

And since we're dealing with blurred lines between humans and cartoons, we also talk briefly about Who Framed Roger Rabbit, although that conversation was ultimately cut short by my wife's insatiable desire to see college football. 

Jenna Gabriel joins us for all this plus a discussion of film vs digital projection, Tarantino's takeover of the New Beverly Cinema, the design of the newest Batmobile and the dubious merits of Space Jam. 

Next Week: In light of a possible fifth entry, we kick off a month-long rewatch of the Rambo series. 

September 12, 2014

Keanu Reeves Will Avenge This Puppy In The JOHN WICK Trailer

Keanu Reeves is that special breed of actor who does not have a whole lot of range, but who shines like a supernova when given the right role.  If we're lucky, John Wick might be just that kind of role.

Reeves plays a former hitman in search of bloody vengeance after Theon Greyjoy and his Russian mafia friends steal his Mustang and murder his beagle, seemingly by punching it to death.  I was supposed to be a beagle.  I like to think that Keanu Reeves would avenge me too.

Watching Reeves kill dozens of people over a dead dog sounds AMAZING, but when you through in Willem Dafoe, Ian McShane, Adrianne Palicki, John Leguizamo and Lance Reddick's Accent, well I'm positively intrigued.  This trailer gets bonus points for turning "Wick" into "Wicked," which I chose to interpret not as an adjective one might use to describe a witch, but as the verbal form of the name Wick.  I now expect Reeves to glower at a room full of goons at some point and yell, "Prepare to get Wicked!"

Director Chad Stahelski is a prolific stunt guy, having worked on the Matrix films, Serenity and Catching Fire, for which he also served as second unit director.  John Wick is his directorial debut and I hear the flick is a preposterous amount of fun.  I really wish I could see it at Fantastic Fest next week.  I imagine it'll play like gangbusters down in Austin.

Sidenote: Can we all just agree to stop titling movies with generic dude names?  How have studio marketing departments not figured this out yet?

Take A Gander At The Newest Batmobile

A series of low-res phone images hit the web a few days ago giving us our first decent look at Batfleck's new whip in Zack Snyder's upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice.  That's what happens when you leave the thing parked and unattended on the streets of Detroit.  But Snyder's no dummy and figured, "Well if the cat's out of the bag, we might as well make the cat look like fucking alien warship."  Thus we get the official image above.

I'll admit, I'm not a huge fan of this particular image.  Something about the perspective seems a little off, mostly because the wheelbase seems to be about a mile across.  Perhaps we'll learn that those shafts and pistons up front are there to separate the wheels from the chassis of the car, presumably to give those center machine guns a wider lateral target range.  Still, from the image above this thing looks an awful lot like Nolan's Tumbler.

The spy photos actually give a better view of the Batmobile in that it actually looks like a car.  I also dig the kind of gull-wing doors that open up and look like the points of the bat cowl.  That's exactly my kind of stupid and almost gives me hope that this thing might not be all gloom and doom.  Almost.

September 11, 2014

The Trailer For Netflix's Doc PRINT THE LEGEND Promises You'll Finally Understand Why 3D Printing Is Important

One of the better movies I had the privilege to see at this year's SXSW was the documentary Print The Legend, detailing the rise of the 3D printing industry.  As someone who works in technology (and sometimes specifically with 3D printers!) I'm particularly fascinated with this burgeoning means of production. The potential for 3D printing is practically limitless: imagine if you could buy stuff from Amazon the same way you buy music from iTunes. You click buy, download a digital file and send it to your printer and within a matter of minutes you have a new case for your iPhone or a stylish new coffee mug. 

The technology is not quite ready for prime time, but I think the comparison drawn in the opening seconds of this trailer is apt: nobody thought regular folks would want to use a personal computer at first either. We all know how that turned out. 

Lest you think this is going to be a dry 90 minutes explaining the minutiae of an impenetrable technology, let me assure you that nothing could be further from the truth. The filmmakers follow the rise of Makerbot, the biggest innovators in there world of consumer grade 3D printing, alongside the birth of the fledgling Formlabs as they struggle to bring their first device to production.  And just to spice things up we also spend quite a bit of time with Cody Wilson, the Texan who's been freaking out the general public by using the technology to create working firearms.  It's exactly as terrifying as you think. 

The Doc will hit Netflix on September 26th. I highly recommend you add it to your queue.  

September 10, 2014

Shameless Self-Promotion! Vote For Our Fantastic Fest Bumper!

I know, I know, I've been AWOL recently.  News article output has been dodgy.  Reviews have been almost non-existant.  Hell, we even took this week off from the podcast for the first time in months.  What can I say?  August was a busy month for me and the slow transition to fall is kind of depressing.  But for the last two weeks or so my creative energy has been largely focused on a short film project and now I need your help.

This year's Fantastic Fest in Austin, TX is rapidly approaching.  This is an incredible festival full of truly awesome and bizarre films from all over the world and I want to go SO DAMN MUCH.  Sadly, I won't be able to make it there in person this year, but hopefully my projected image can be there in my stead.  If you've never been to a film festival, it's common practice to play short bumpers, usually about one minute or less, before each film.  These bumpers tend to be quick and clever, but usually a festival only makes like five or six in total, meaning that festival goers who screen 10-20 films over the course of the week tend to see the same bumpers over and over until what once was fun soon becomes dreadful.

But not Fantastic Fest.  They hold a bumper contest each year, challenging fans to create their own short films to entertain audiences at the Drafthouse.  The theme this year was "transhuman," to be interpreted however you see fit and the only other requirement (besides a 45 second time limit) was that the last line of dialogue had to be "That's fantastic!"  So my podcasting partner Bart and I decided to throw down.

Check out our entry, entitled Fuzzy Feelings, at the link below and then click on the little blue "Like" button above the video to vote for us.  (Don't try clicking on the little heart, which seems intuitive but is actually incorrect.  This confused me for a while too.)  Festival organizers will choose a number of these bumpers to play during the festival, but the top five will screen separately and the audience will vote for a winner.  The prize is a pair of passes to next year's festival and I REALLY want to go to next year's festival.

So click here to vote for Fuzzy Feelings!

And don't just vote!  Share the link out on Twitter and Facebook.  Turn that shit viral.

Thanks again.  I promise there's lots more content on the horizon.

September 05, 2014

Yes, This CARVER Trailer Was Made By A 13 Year Old Girl

A few years ago I learned about Emily Hagins, a budding filmmaker who shot her first feature, Pathogen, at the age of 12.  It's a damn fine little zombie flick considering that the director was still in the midst of puberty.  She followed that up with My Sucky Teen Romance and later this month her Halloween set coming of age story Grow Up Tony Phillips will be released.  Hagins is both skilled and ambitious, so I look forward to watching all of her future films.

But she's not the only adolescent filmmaker named Emily out there.  Emily DiPrimio launched a Kickstarter campaign at the age of 13 to fund Carver, a love letter to the classic slasher films of yesteryear.  You've got to respect a teenager who chooses to emulate John Carpenter over Paranormal Activity, so I was happy to donate some funds to her project.  Now we've got the film's first trailer (courtesy of the fine folks at Badass Digest) and it's pretty great!

The acting is usually the weak point when it comes to these kinds of projects, but it's hardly terrible to the point of distraction.  Most importantly you've got a strong backstory, child murder, an iconic villain, and was that a crane shot?

I can't wait to see this thing when it's done.