Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Making Movies

I am a filmmaker.
I'm also a weirdo. I love love love good film. My friends find it strange that I watch The Thing or Citizen Kane ad infinitum ...but it is different than that ...each viewing is a new lesson.
I'm learning.
Not a lot under my belt yet but it's going to be a brilliant year,
with our adaptation of Stephen King's short story "Mrs.Todd's Shortcut" then ...who can really say? I want to make a full form horror film next. That's my burning desire ...we'll see.
We have features and series ready to go concepts ...good dialogue..
If you'd like to read our script or involve yourself in the process
please comment below ...we're an organic company with good
leadership on a bullet train into the future( ..dragging the 70's
and 80's with us) and a bright one it is. Oh yeah.
If you love movies and you'd like to make them, then the question is..."Why not?"

cheers, A.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Painted Posters

More than just about anything film-related I miss the painted poster.

This(above) is one of my favorites leaves you with questions ...with mystery ...and it's a helluva lot nicer to look at than a couple o' photoshopped heads.

I think they(posters) created a window, if you will, between the moviegoer and the film itself where only seeing the film could unlock the visual questions put forth - now you see a photo of the actor in the film and a trailer that tells you 90% of the story - no wonder people download movies - we're killing the magic ...or rather the artistry-free number-crunching jerk-offs are.

Thank the stars for Drew Struzan and a few smart cats out there over the age of 20 who think paintings might be nicer than shitty photographs. Anybody with half-decent computer skills could do 90% of the posters out there these days. Laaaaame.

All day I've been trying to figure out what it is specifically...
GOT IT! A film is a singular vision!  ...obviously takes many people to make one, but it is a single work of art interpreting the printed word visually. A painted poster is a small-scale version of the same process - one single artistic representation of many ideas coming together. Photoshop? ..really?!?
The artist asks "How can I paint the details/story/imagery for others they can feel what I feel that they can want more?" It's supposed to be artwork not packaging.

I just went and had a look for an artist I've been curious about for a while.
WHO painted the "Nightmare on Elm Street" posters? Turns out his name is Mathew Joseph Peak, and I found a great piece of writing on this unsung hero of horror film history.  I love those paintings but, having quickly discovered that this author had summed up my thoughts on the matter better than I could, I decided to contact him/her - see if I might point people over to it, only to discover it's written by a friend of mine, here in Halifax. Funny world this internet..
Check out Dave's love of the painted poster:

Film is about artistry.
Mine'll be painted.

Thank-you to all you unknown cats out there who've painted posters I've loved...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Trading Places

I love John Landis' Trading Places. Makes a good #3 on the Christmas list...
..and the 2nd Landis film to be discussed here in 'ol bloggy...

So many things make this movie funny, charming and re-watchable. Aykroyd and Murphy are great together and at their respective "bests" ...48 Hours ..Ghostbusters... effortless comedic chemistry. Denholm Elliot is in more of my favorite films than I would've guessed but Don Ameche and Frank Bellamy steal the elderly show evil...
"I think your brother's having a heart attack.."
"Fuck him."
ha ha haaaaa....

Best sequence - Winthorpe's descent into Hell is comedy gold ...the fish ...the gun so funny.

And then there's Jamie Lee Curtis oh my...
The Scream Queen - what hasn't been said about Jamie Lee ...manoman ...The Fog ...Halloween ...Terror Train ...take your pick, but in Trading Places she goes topless - this seemed cool last night when I watched it again but years back a teenage version of myself thanked God specifically for creating Jamie Lee Curtis - my favorite female moviestar.
Probably shouldn't admit this but I broke the vhs version over the "climb in bed" scene...

Trading Places feels like a modern & funny Grimm fairy tale - the classical music opening - the rich New York of the holidays - a few creative choices make the movie feel a bit bigger ...more expensive perhaps, creating an immensely re-watchable story. I like film New York in the 70's/80's ...super cool - so much style.

This film has accompanied some of my best Christmas's ...including this one.
I bet you a dollar you'll love it again too...

Friday, December 17, 2010

TRON Legacy ...the debate begins.

I really liked it. I'm going to sit on it for a day or so ...maybe see it again, then I'll defend my position...
It is a strange film. Just weird enough to be interesting ...for me at least...

The Daft Punk score is a big element ..."out of time" is the phrase I'd use feels alternately 70's/80's sound then very 2010... bit of Blade Runner in there too... very impressive. Cool to see the band in the movie - fitting, and a nice compliment to Michael Sheen's Ziggy Stardust-esque character.

Fact is - I can't wait to watch it again...

March 14/11
"FLYNN LIVES" - Go watch it!! - it boasts the return of a Tron character you love - great addition to Tron Legacy, which I'm stoked to see in Blu-ray on a nice TV...
And the trailer for Tron Uprising - just as cool - nice to hear that voice again...

To be continued...


#2 on the new "Christmas list" is Joe Dante's Gremlins.

Attended a new rep-cinema(Carbon Arc) last night and got to see Gremlins for the first time ever. Yeah, that's right ...wasn't super-interested when it came out maybe 'cause it seemed drawing younger people than myself, or perhaps chasing girls was more important ...anyway, I finally sat down and payed attention - good movie.
There was a certain ...I dunno ...feeling/vibe to a few of those 80's flics Spielberg was attached to and this plops right down in the middle of 'em. Turns out it's was shot on the same street sets as the Back to the Future films - but more than that "feels" like the same universe where Goonies, Innerspace and ET seamlessly fit. Even Poltergeist feels like a more adult tale that's set in the same neighborhood fer sure... Awesome.

I love a movie that bookends itself. The opening with Hoyt Axton's inventor father aquiring Gizmo ...charming and visually rich intro ...nice. The film is filled with character actors the likes of Dick Miller and Polly Holliday(FLO!!!) and a young Corey Feldman is pretty damn good gotta say. Frances Lee McCain rocks as Billy's mom - dispatching gremlins like Sigourney Weaver or something writing. Zach Galligan is perfect as that naive teen with a heart of gold and if you grew up in my era you looooove Pheobe Cates - Judge Reinholt spoke for us all in Fast Times at Ridgemont High - yowsa. The prolific Keye Luke returns in the end to wrap up the story in a classic fashion not unlike Spielberg's Amazing Stories TV show(and watch for the movie marquee that has two of Spielberg's biggie's original titles - just a nice touch).

Gizmo is cute. This fact, along with the Ewoks, allowed my nerd brain to shy away from a lot of the genre fare of the 80's but watching it now I smile - it's a really good puppet and again - really fun writing. I love the design of the whole thing ...the 80's greens & reds ...the Alien-esque pods ...the gremlins themselves ...and no CG - just talented people working hard to tell a story well. Great soundtrack too...
The movie is obviously escapist but it's more like a little fantasy Dante and Spielberg are tucking you in with on Christmas eve...

Tonight I see TRON Legacy ...ahhh, the 80's. Take yer shots but what a fun decade. What a fun movie. Ho ho ho...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Miracle on 3rd or 4th street... "FAITH, FRAUD, and MINIMUM WAGE"

This goes to the top of my new Christmas list as it did what a really good Christmas present is supposed to do - pleasantly surprise.
Canadian film is really good for that. I despise the somewhat tragic Canadian Film Industry's built-in limitations but occasionally(and more often than you'd guess) a movie comes along with my absolute favourite film element - investment. We've all seen those films where the cast and crew seem to be enjoying themselves more than we are - I'd use Iron Man 2 and The Big Bounce as good examples, but before that line is crossed - that's the realm I like ...where I feel real investment ...and that's what's up on the screen with Faith, Fraud, and Minimum Wage - a whole bunch of faith...
I had a great discussion with my ol' buddy, Clyffy some years back on the fact that a good movie is ...well, a miracle - I honestly believe it is.
How do a bunch of ego's and ideas and hard work come together to make something meaningful and memorable? Tax woes ...the weather ...nothing short of a miracle I'd say. That's a beauty of film that really only those who make it understand ...extraordinarily difficult road ...extraordinary destination.
Okay - the performances... Callum Keith Rennie is one of the actors to watch these days - he's just plain great. I loved hating him in Battlestar(a series I don't love hating) but Californication ...whew, didn't think Duchovny could be eclipsed on his own show...
and he's really good here(Rennie) as a dad who reminds me of a few painfully real souls I've know. I like his sensitive smashed-up father a lot ...very good in those moments when emotions can switch up fast ...and obsessing over the dead to the living - I've seen my share ...catharsis on the screen for this kid.
Martha MacIsaac is the film, and if she weren't fantastic it just wouldn't work - but she is. Andy Bush is great, as is Don Allison in the role of "Nately's" villainous Stephen King-esque "Uncle Bob" ...who I hated instantly. Brian Heighton's cameo is a highlight and everything Matt Amyotte says is funny should actually listen to Dave Marsh's songs ...funny funny. In fact, the film boasts a really impressive soundtrack ...well-tailored and catchy as hell.
Buuut Ricky Mabe kinda stole the show for me. He's excellent in the sensitive-jock role and two of my best moments are his uttering of her whole name - old romantic trick but I like it, and the kiss - one of the best screen kisses I've seen in years. Cool cool cool.

**Spoilers ahead...sort of..
The ending/resolution is one o' those make-or-break moments and I held my breath it wouldn't all get tidy and sweet. The miracle is that it doesn't ...instead, it gives a great Christmas gift ...the unexpected. The film works the same as it's lead character - small, feisty, & affecting.

I waited 19 years for Indiana Jones to get back up on the big screen - within five minutes I cared more about the people in this low-budget Canadian film, not because it was written by my friend, Josh - but because it was written well.

A good Christmas movie reminds us what this is all about...
and makes us smile in the process.

Thanks, man

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Superman too...

Rumours all the time about "Big Blue"...
..what-to-do what-to-do?

Zack Snyder's got him now so we will soon see..
Now I will say that Watchmen was a wonderful surprise - but a finite interpretation of a finite work - gonna be a lot of voices on this one... Just please cast an unknown - everyone else looks like an actor "trying" to be Supes. And here's a crazy idea - lose Luthor. Every interpretation of the character inevitably includes Luthor - I love the character but people want to see Superman BEAT SOMEONE UP!
He's Superman ...not a cop.
I'm crossing my fingers and enjoying Smallville 'til then...which incidentally is an excellent show this year' gotta say - this would work as a Justice League show - why on earth is CW considering a Raven series? I'm a big fan of the Titans characters and that is one lame idea.
Why not do a JLA show with Raven on it?

For the film, I understand and agree with a 100% reboot of the Superman property - we are in a very different world - a world where it's hard to get people to care about anything let alone a character who reminds them of their humanity. But I think it's the humanity of Supes that can make for the great writing the character absolutely needs. If he isn't well written there is simply no point.
And speaking of humanity, it's weird that the "Superman curse" seems real ...Brandon Routh should be thankful he won't be remembered as Supes - he gets to live.
Watched Hollywoodland the other night ...good film. Sad. I can't imagine the weird pain of the kids who loved him ...that was rough to watch.

I love the one-page comic book interpretation of 1978's Superman above...

What a movie. I hope Christopher Reeve's kids know what he gave to the whole world.
We do.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Five? Years? The DEAD ZONE

I really like The Dead Zone - it's one of my favorite Stephen King adaptations and one of my favorite Canadian films. I know - I know - it's American but it was shot in Canada by a Canadian director - just enough to stake my claim and enjoy some o' that good ol' down home pride. We have less great films than the good ol' US of A and I like it when US/Can bone and make a baby like The X-Files ...or The Dead Zone.
Cool opening titles and a sad fitting score suggest that some talented people are invested in this movie - good. I was young when I saw Dead Zone for the first time but I knew David Cronenberg from Videodrome so I expected something weird. What I got was a chilly tale of a man who went into a coma and came out with amazing abilities - I think I wanted those abilities ...It's a different story watching it as an adult ...classic and tragic, anchored by great character performances, and a stylishly subdued Cronenberg.
It's fun to watch a young Christopher Walken reference Poe then Ichobod Crane and The Headless Horseman ...He'd have played a memorable Ichobod Crane back then - bit of a shame about The Headless Horseman(Sleepy Hollow) but I digress. He plays a cool John Smith - Walken works for the character - for Johnny Smith's experience, and Brooke Adams provides perfect balance. I had a big crush on her going in(Invasion of the Body Snatchers - my favorite version)...but she looks fantastic, and the cut to her crying shot after the "spilled milk" - awesome.

The "awakening scene" is very impressive ...genuine suspense to get to that number, boy - "Five? Years?" ...well done. We have a slightly more serious Herbert Lom as JS's doctor and his interesting thread is just another that's changed for me since my younger self soaked it up. The "not talking to his Mom" - I get it now - like the film - sad and cool. Every subplot in the film ends the same way - Jeffrey Boam's strong & consistent screenplay at work throughout.
Tom Skerritt is always cool, and a young Nicholas Campbell plays a subtle and creepy Frank Dodd - I could have watched a whole film focus on that subplot. Dynamo Colleen Dewhurst rounds out a good US/Can actors circle with nary a lousy performance in the film.

After their afternoon together Sarah and Johnny are having dinner with his father - Johnny jokes about his day - very cool look from his pop says plenty, and Walken's response - perfecto. Just a great acting scene.

I'm a Cronenberg fan so I admire his restraint with The Dead Zone. Now take David Lynch who can be pretty wild ...but like Lynch with The Straight Story, Cronenberg focuses on character and atmosphere. These are the movies that remind me these guys are substance over style despite their abundance of the latter. It's a nice looking film that leaves you feeling a bit chilly Johnny Smith's Castle Rock in winter.
I like the subplot with the boy quite a bit - in fact, this was a section that scared me as a kid. The ice and the thought of falling through = Scary. I'd learned to skate on a lake that made those big cracking sounds while everything else was winter silent - great days though. Watching the film now I think the subplots could've been woven a little better but hey, that's just me.

Having read the book I missed seeing Greg Stillson's rise to power, but Martin Sheen has the energy of the character for sure. Stephen King is just so good at giving us human villains where the truly horrific resides - in the evils all around us - in politics and religion - in dark human places.

I remember thinking "I could kill him and get away", but that aint the point is it?
It's interesting to learn that Mr.King created the story out of a "what-if?"...What if one of the crazy crackpots claiming to know the end of the world was right? What if a man had a good reason to sacrifice his life? Fantastic storytelling that entertains but begs moral questions - what would you do?

I think we all say we'd go back and kill Hitler, but would we give up our name?...our life for what's right?
I think I'll make my charitable contributions to the world under the name "Johnny Smith" from now on.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

a n t i c h r i s t

Without a doubt - the most disturbing/affecting horror film I've ever seen. Brilliant.

Like Heavenly Creatures, I don't imagine watching it again ...but that's because it was sooo good. Now any good horror fan knows there are levels to the horror itself ...the 80's slasher stuff is mostly on the same level - I think Hellraiser rises above to the next level, but most of it has the same tone. Henry is a few levels higher, and I'd put Antichrist up from there.

The film is artistic and beautiful, evoking thoughts of Dante and damnation while pulling you in and holding you coldly tight. The tension is palpable even in the story's softest moments and the two leads match the dark tone amazingly well.
Willem Dafoe is at his best. Charlotte Gainsbourg, who I've never seen before, is just as sharp. I can't imagine how difficult it was to make this movie. The belief that this is a real couple is what sells it for me. I believe in them from that extraordinary opening scene through the nightmare to that ending. That haunting ending.
Spooky horrible imagery - spooky horrific tale masterfully directed by Lars Von Trier, who may be weirdo ...but a talented one for sure. If I watched it again I'd watch for the misogyny he's accused of but if I felt any emotion from the Director I'd say it was terror. My thanks to "Theisbj" for his review on imdb where he articulated what feels like "evil" within the movie itself. It sounds corny but I watched it a year ago - it feels like last night.
Viewing it, I felt like I had access to something I didn't really want access to awful world ...dark, ancient and very adult. It feels like a connection to something genuinely bad ...and only Willem Dafoe's presence reminds me this is a film. That and reminding myself of the fact more than once. I like him and I'm glad he was the lead but if he'd been unknown or it was the first time seeing Dafoe it would have been a bit scarier my coward side was glad for it. Again, it only takes the opening scene to see them as new people - a real couple, and this is one dedicated team ...whew, frightening performances. Frightening film.

If you consider yourself to be a "horror film" fan, go get Antichrist and watch it alone in the dark.
I don't have the balls you?