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Sunday, 26 December 2010

That's What Counts

HI GUYS!

I hope you're all having (or had, depending on where you live and the time you're reading this at) a great Christmas and even if you're not, well then happy holidays to you anyway and let's hope your New Year's Eve celebrations are much grander. Today's post won't be the usual. No "What I've Been Watching" or "Tidbits of Film News" sections for this particular post because it will be my last post for 2010! So why not look back and reflect on how great of a year it's been? As promised my top ten films of the year are below but before we get to there, I just want to say a few things about what this year has meant to me.

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I've felt like I've learnt a lot this year. While there were a lot of times where I struggled to find my place within this scary yet exciting microcosm called "University", I also struggled with fears of what the future would have in store for me. For the most part though, I'd have to say that all of these natural fears have provided me with some much needed clarity and gave me a somewhat rewarding experience. I say rewarding because I learnt that it's important that I not fret about what may become of me in the future but instead do what is necessary now in the present to ensure that my goals and desires can still be within reach.

It's strange; once I assimilated into the life of a University student, I suddenly had these overbearing fears of what the future would become of me and that became a little frightening. I know I probably shouldn't have even thought about that as it is years away but it's a scary reality that I would've had to have faced eventually (and this is why people tell me that I think too much). Having said that, I'd like to think that by having decided to be an active volunteer at ACMI, not only would that help me build my confidence in interacting with people but also help me gain other skills such as public speaking. But alas, this is what 2010 was able to teach me and for that I thank you, 2010!

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In The Mood For Love (2000) dir. Wong Kar-Wai

Okay, enough with the deeply personal stuff, what else did 2010 offer me? My love of film expanded even further this year thanks to my awesome University course as I was introduced to a slew of fantastic features - THANKS LA TROBE! From here on out, I'll never forget being introduced to the works of Wong Kar-Wai in my first year and being captivated by the utter coolness his films tend to exude. His 2000 masterpiece, "In the Mood for Love", was such an extraordinary piece of work that it now ranks within my top five favourite films of all time. I was also fortunate enough to have seen fantastic films, that I had already seen on DVD, up on a huge screen for the first time in my University's cinema. One truly needs to see "Spirited Away" in a big cinema screen to really feel the emotion eminating from the music and visuals.

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As this was also my first year as a Uni student, I enjoyed having to go to school everyday in casual, everyday clothing. It's the small things you'd get a kick out of, really. Most days when I was lazy and couldn't be bothered putting proper clothing on, I'd just wear the same track pants I wore to bed and put a hoody over my top. Everyone at my Uni were too laid back to judge me for what I wore which was cool, I thought. It'd take too much effort to dress up everyday if I were going to a Uni that was in the city or something, lol. AND THE FREEDOM OF A UNI STUDENT! Oh the more than generous and flexible hours I had for Uni! The lectures where I should've stayed in but opted to skip out of in favour of hanging out with friends elsewhere. It really is the small things about being a Uni student that made 2010 feel so much more different and exciting than other years.

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And what about my Christmas celebrations, this year? My dear friend, Thy, came down to visit me and we exchanged gifts. I bought her the heels that she really wanted (with help from one of her girl friends) and she in turn bought me five other awesome gifts! It sucks that she always buys me multiple things made of awesomeness and that I can only buy one thing that looks so sorely underwhelming compared to what she buys. So yeah, we just spent the Christmas at my place and just talked nonsense, had lunch and just had a really awesome time (as we usually have had with the last two Christmas').

I was sooooo proud of my Christmas wrapping - LOOK HOW WELL BOUND IT IS!!! I took the shoes to where I was volunteering and wrapped it like a boss.


And those were her insanely tall heels. I have no idea how she's going to get around in those...



I already had "The Bro Code" that was given to me for my birthday so Thy thought that to compliment it, I should also have "The Playbook". She also bought an awesome insults/comeback book that is just filled with hilarious things to say to people. It's provided me with a lot of laughter. People are gonna get burned now. :D


GPOY! This poster is so damn true of me.



Like I didn't have enough Star Wars themed shirts (but then again, there is no such thing as having enough Star Wars themed shirts!)


SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD ON BLU-RAY! After watching the "making of" documentary that is featured on the disc, I must say that the cast and crew are so damn close to each other, especially the cast. Must've been fun working on set.

If Thy is reading this, THANKS AGAIN SO, SO MUCH! I do hope you enjoy those shoes as much as I am enjoying my books, shirt, poster and film! ;D
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AND finally, here are my TOP TEN FAVOURITE FILMS (that I paid to see in cinemas) IN 2010! TAKE IT AWAY LIST!

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10. Shutter Island

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Martin Scorsese is a master of cinema and this film is yet another strong entry into Scorsese’s already legendary filmography. In "Shutter Island", Scorsese was able to create at foreboding atmosphere of dread and terror while at the same time working in some truly beautiful and magnificent scenes. The direction is great and the film has some great and steady pacing to keep audiences on their toes and wondering what’s around the corner. What more can you expect from a master at work?



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9. Evangelion: 2.0: You (Are) Not Alone

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The second part to the “Rebuild of Evangelion” project was absolutely mindblowing and is something one HAD to experience inside a cinema. Fans of the original anime series (myself included) will no longer know what is happening in this updated version and it’s for the best. Unlike the first film where that was mostly a condensed version of the first few episodes in the original series, this film carries with it a lot of exciting and new unknown elements that are sure to make many gaze in awe. I’d like to think that THIS is how Hideaki Anno would have made Evangelion had Gainax given him the proper funding he could’ve needed to bring his vision to life. Fantastic visuals, fantastic soundtrack – cannot wait for the third and fourth entries into this “Rebuild” series.



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8. Let Me In

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Matt Reeve’s underrated adaptation of Swedish film, “Let the Right One In”, was worthy enough of being called a good American remake. Reeve’s is able to make “Let Me In” feel like his own and it is very distinct from the original Swedish version. Just like the original, the film paces itself very slowly and is very patient but the slow burn works incredibly well and adds much more depth to the story and to the two fantastic leads, child actors Kodi-Smit McPhee and Chloe Moretz. The score is hauntingly beautiful and the film carries with it one of the most exciting scenes that I wish I had shot if I ever had the chance to make a film. Definitely not for everyone if you’re impatient and looking for a standard genre picture. Very rarely can one say that American remakes of European arthouse films are good but this one proves that things don’t always turn out bad.



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7. Confessions

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It’s no surprise why, “Confessions” was chosen to as Japan’s number one entry into Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards next year. The film is almost arthouse in its execution and deals with heavy themes of revenge, alienation, love and acceptance. Much like “Let Me In” the pacing is slow but highly rewarding and culminates into an ending that’s truly spectacular. The first scene of the film will most definitely hook you into the film as teacher Yuko Moriguchi tells her story to an uninterested class and slowly getting their attention with every new development in her confession. Splitting the film into different chapters (or “confessions”) helps to give a deeper understanding of the characters and their motives. “Confessions” also features a good soundtrack that only enhances the eeriness to some of the scenes shown in the film. It’s a film that’s unlike anything I’ve seen this year and will linger in your mind for a long while after it’s finished.



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6. Buried

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Rodrigo Cortes’ highly experimental film is one that not many people will flock to see and the feeling is understandable. I will say though that after watching the film, I find that it’s so hard to even talk about it without spoiling or ruining it. The film is set entirely within a coffin and sees Ryan Reynolds pull off what possibly may be the performance of his career thus far. The film is able to keep the tension mounting throughout the film which is a huge feat considering the constraints of the film. Cortes wisely uses the camera in a claustrophobic way, making you feel as confined as Reynolds’ Paul Conroy. The use of lighting in the film was very interesting as well and helped keep the film moving in it’s own unique way. If you really devote yourself to the film and give 100% attention to it you’ll definitely have a good time watching it and will be most likely talking about it a lot. Like the aforementioned "Confessions" this will grip you and stick with you for a long while.



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5. Inception

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This year’s biggest blockbuster movie event, “Inception” shows that you can still make a boat load of money off of original ideas! The strengths of “Inception” lie within its amazingly stacked cast, its heart-racing action scenes and the thought that went into creating this alternate universe where people can mind jack into a person’s subconscious and steal or plant an idea. The film is essentially an old school heist film and a damn exciting one at that. Christopher Nolan directs his cast perfectly, adds some great characterisation within this action-heavy script and his reliance on practical effects makes for some visually arresting scenes (Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s hotel hallway fight scene is will probably go down as the most memorable thing from that film).



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4. Summer Wars

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Mamoru Hosoda has been praised as the next Hayao Miyazaki and rightfully so! His films are absolute fun and ensure a great time for everyone at the cinema. While this may seem like a film that should probably be a tad lower on my list, the fact that it was just damn entertaining and was so much fun made me put it up a lot higher. The crowd I saw it with loved it and it’s not hard to see why. Even without my level of enjoyment though, this film still would have made my top ten because it’s absolutely wonderful. Simply put, "Summer Wars" is a fun, light-hearted film that not only has the capacity to enthral viewers with wonderfully fluid and expressive animation but also provide a story that can carry across just enough emotional sentiment for viewers to feel for the characters and love them. I know what I want on Blu-ray.



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3. Toy Story 3

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What more can be said of "Toy Story 3’s" success that hasn’t already been said? Animation powerhouse, Pixar, brings with them the third entry into the "Toy Story" series and ends the series with one of the most powerful and resonant endings to a series ever committed to film. Yes, I went there. Much like the rest of Pixar’s films, the film is centred around a strong story built on nuance and maturity but most importantly is one that is most certainly crowd-pleasing. I guess the personal resonance for me was the fact that myself and anyone else in my age group practically grew up with these characters and we aged as Andy did. I guess this was why the film was so gripping as I really did feel like as if grew up with all these characters. Anyways, it’s a beautifully animated film and if you haven’t seen it yet – why are you reading this? GO... NOW!



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2. The Social Network

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When one looks back on the works of David Fincher, one will find that “The Social Network” cleanly assimilates itself perfectly within Fincher’s sometimes consistent themes of obsession, anarchy, evil and male bonding (see, "Se7en", "Fight Club" and "Zodiac"). The evil here is brought about from one, Mark Zuckerberg, the man that went on to become the youngest billionaire in history after creating the social storm known as Facebook. The film does not paint Zuckerberg in a flattering light at all but at times gives him redeemable qualities. Yes, he’s a smug guy who purportedly stole the idea of Facebook but underneath all that selfishness is a guy who just wanted to become known on campus and be accepted. And in the midst of all that craziness, he’d lose his only true friend. It’s a wonderfully tragic story with enough wit and sharp dialogue to keep you on the edge of your seat. It would be a crime for screenwriter Aaron Sorkin not to get the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay because it is perfect, as is Fincher’s direction over his amazing cast. Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield and even singer-turned-actor Justin Timberlake commit to some incredible performances. Fantastic film and am not surprised it has sweeped a lot of the major critics awards across America so far.



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1. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

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Okay, so I’m a fanboy at heart. No I never read the graphic novels but would love to after watching this extraordinary gem. You don’t understand how much this movie means to me and how many right buttons it pressed. There is no clear definition as to what "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" really is other than what is presented and what is presented is a wicked amalgamation of pop culture references, awesome rock music and young love. The film is genuinely funny whenever the situation calls for it; the action is always ramped up and is just a really entertaining piece of popcorn cinema. The cast of this film is fantastic, the film boasts a cool soundtrack and director Edgar Wright’s control over the film keeps the energy and pacing steady yet always at an all time high. Unfortunately, the film bombed at the box office but received much love from most people who went to see it as well garnering a lot of critical approval from professional critics. You can’t compare this to anything else because there quite literally is nothing else like it. It's extraordinary with its execution and is literally unlike anything I had ever seen before on film. "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" is this fanboy’s film of the year (and maybe even one of his favourite films of all time).


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AND WITH THAT I SAY BYE 2010 AND HI TO 2011! MAY YOU ALL HAVE A WONDERFUL NEW YEAR!

End post.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Elephant Woman

My results for this semester of Uni were e-mailed to me on Tuesday evening and I'm so fucking happy to have passed Japanese by TWO MARKS! I really slacked off with it this semester but I'm SO lucky to have just narrowly passed. I think the cut off would've been 50 so you do the math, haha. Well, at least I get the credit points for it and don't have to worry about having that little blemish once I graduate with my degree, haha. I did pretty well in all my subjects this semester which is always great to find out too. I actually can't wait for next year because I won't have any exams and will (hopefully) enjoy all my subjects as they are cinema/media based. Go me! :D

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This is what an Asian Santa would probably look like.

On Wednesday I went down to Collins Street for some Christmas volunteering with VicDeaf, an organisation that aims to assist and support deaf adults in Victoria. My friend Angela had asked me to come along to do some Christmas wrapping and it was pretty fun. Anyone would come up to us and buy Christmas cards or get whatever they had on them to be wrapped as a present. I couldn't wrap a present for the life of me but got better with it as the day progressed. I'll be going back to volunteer again some more next week. Fun, fun, fun.

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This week I was introduced to an awesome band in Blonde Redhead thanks to a little twisted film called "Hard Candy" (thoughts on that can be found belowwww).
I find that my only avenue of discovering awesome music is through films and rightfully so, as most filmmakers use awesome material for their films. I discovered Placebo through "Cruel Intentions" (a film I should not have been seeing at the age I saw it at but whatever, boys will be boys), The Rolling Stones through anything Martin Scorsese has ever done and more recently, Metric through "Scott Pilgrim vs the World". Anyways, this band, Blonde Redhead, have apparently been around for a long while (their Wikipedia page says that their first studio album was released in 1995) and ZOMFG THEY ARE AWESOMEEEEEEEEE! Now I'm no music afficinado but from what I hear, their sound is like the lovechild of Radiohead and Placebo - instantly joyful to the ears. Why have I only been discovering awesome music NOW?
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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING

I know I was supposed to have a director's spotlight this week but because I've been making myself watch films again these past few weeks I've found that my interest has in watching films has come back! It seems as though I've found a balance between being a gaming nerd and being a movie nerd, haha. So having said that, I guess I'll be getting back into things with just regularly watching several films per week, lol.

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"Hard Candy"
, the feature film debut from director David Slade ("30 Days of Night", "Eclipse"), is a twisted yet delighful little gem of a film.
I've stated before numerous times before that I love films that primarily utilise minimalistic sets and this is exactly one of those films that builds is story predominantly around one location (in this case, a home). The film sees an purported pedophile, Jeff (Patrick Wilson), meeting up with 14 year old teenager, Hayley (Ellen Page), and leading her back to his home. However, once the sexual advances start to heat up, Jeff finds that the hunter becomes the hunted and that Hayley is not as innocent as she says she is. "Hard Candy" doesn't need to rely on cheap scares or gore to shock viewers and is not a horror film. It's a dark, psychological thriller that truly does a great job of building layers of tension and gripping you into the story - curious, yet afraid, of whatever may be around the corner.It really tests your moral compass and has you decide whether or not a man of Jeff's nature is deserving of the torture or punishment he is recieving. Ellen Page is brilliant in her role and is clearly having fun being the tormenter while Patrick Wilson is also very convincing whenever he shows fear or remorse for things he's done. Slade uses the camera in an uncomfortable way where he uses close ups on Hayley that nearly cover the whole screen, making you feel like as though you're in the Jeff's position - which I thought worked. The only thing I didn't like was the inclusion of an outside character that would've made this film near-perfect in my opinion. I highly recommend this film, the violence is not all too confronting (I was expecting something like "Saw" actually) and the pacing of everything is well directed. Can I have this on DVD now?



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Andrew Garfield is quite a talent. "Boy A" is a fantastic character study of a man who, after years of imprisonment and rehabilitation for a crime he commited as a child, is released back into society and tries to lead a normal life under a new identity. It's an interesting film in that we never actually see the crime being done and it's only eluded to in flash backs. The flashbacks themselves also help add depth to Garfield's character, showing his tragic backstory and making his journey of redemption so much more interesting. Along with Garfield is a great supporting cast that really elevates the emotional drama of the film but it's really Garfield who shines here as the man trying to assimilate himself back into society and struggling with his new found identity. It's no wonder he was chosen to play Peter Parker/Spider-man for the reboot (which is currently shooting right now), as this film has him battling two identities. Great film and it's no wonder he won the BAFTA award for Best Actor for this film (this information did come to my attention until AFTER I finished with the film - I mostly saw this due to Garfield's performance).

>
May I just say quickly, that this trailer is absolutely horrible. It pretty much shows you the whole film. Who cuts trailers these days? =="

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With the impending release of "TRON: Legacy", I thought I'd give the original "TRON" a go this week. While the film itself hasn't aged all that well, it's very acknowledgable just how unique the world of "TRON" actually is. The 3D animation itself is quite good (dated, but good) and I would imagine it to have been quite awe inspiring back in 1982. Having said that, other than the fact that a lot of thought went into the design process of making the digital world and that the animation itself is good, there really isn't a lot going on for "TRON". The acting is quite hammy and the story is a little muddled (the first few minutes of the film left me scratching my head, wondering "What's going on?"). It's no surprise that the character of Kevin Flynn (a young Jeff Bridges) is transported from reality into the digital world but when he reaches it, he never really takes the time to question his surroundings and question how or why he got there. He just kinda goes along with everything (like only The Dude can, of course!). It's a decent movie but not the best and it's understandable why it's remained such a cult favourite for so long.


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I saw "TRON: Legacy" on Friday night and thought it was an okay film, not particuarly great in terms of story and character but amazing in it's visuals. Around this time last year, a similar film that saw a character visit a heavily detailed CGI world was awarded with numerous Academy Award nominations and was met with a huge box office success. I doubt that "TRON: Legacy" will have the same amount of crazy success that "Avatar" had but I do wish for it to at least break even (though that does seem to be a considerably difficult task). Anyways, as for the film, let's just say that compared to the first film, it's somewhat similar and feels more like an alternate retelling of the original. Like his father, Sam (Garrett Hedlund) too just accepts that he's on The Grid and goes along with whatever's happening, never questioning his surroundings or people's motives. As I said previously, this film isn't particulary awesome but the visuals and soundtrack are pretty noteworhy. The 3D itself doesn't quite work as well as I would have hoped but I guess that's what you get for a post-converted film. Not a paticularly strong film but great on the visuals.

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TIDBITS OF FILM NEWS

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This past week, the nominees were announced for both the 68th Annual Golden Globes as well as the 17th Annual Screen Actors Guild Award. Click the links provided above to check out who got nominated. While the Golden Globes may be a poor man's Oscar, there's no denying that it is a very strong indicator as to who may or may not win come the Academy Awards. The Screen Actor's Guild is more prestigous in that this event is about actors recognising and awarding their fellow peers and is a great indicator for acting nods. This year's Golden Globes seem to be a bit of a joke though, especially with the Best Picture - Musical and Comedy category. People also seem to be saying that Leonardo DiCaprio got snubbed for his work in "Inception" and/or "Shutter Island" but my understanding is that he played two very similar characters so that wouldn't really allow him to get in (not taking away both performances as they are good, they're just too similar to each other). I also don't understand why the "Inception" cast didn't get a nod for Best Ensemble because the cast is damn stacked with great talent... oh well. Exciting times in Hollywood right now.

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totalfilm:  Al Pacino and Joe Pesci confirmed for The Irishman Al Pacino and Joe Pesci will join Robert De Niro in crime drama The Irishman. Directed by Martin Scorsese, Irishman will be De Niro’s ninth time working with the legendary auteur, and finds the actor playing renowned Mafia hitman Frank ‘The Irishman’ Sheeran. Both Pacino and Pesci were rumoured to be involved, but De Niro confirmed it once and for all during an interview with MTV. “We do have the one that we’re definitely doing,” he told them. “Me, Joe Pesci, Pacino and Marty Scorsese directing.”

This right here is some major news. Robert De Niro confirmed that he will most definitely be working once again with long time collaborator, Martin Scorsese, for crime film "The Irishman". De Niro also confirmed that Joe Pesci and Al Pacino are also on board to work on the film. This will be the ninth collobration between De Niro and Scorsese, the fourth collaboration between Pesci and Scorsese and amazingly the first collaboration between Pacino and Scorsese. Upon hearing this news, I think the world imploded.

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totalfilm:  First Fast Five image arrives The first image from Fast & Furious sequel Fast Five has cropped up online. Featuring Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson in what looks like a very terse exchange, it’s about as beefy as an army of McDonalds quarter pounders. And then some.  Obviously The Rock would beat his candy ass back into the Smack Down hotel. In other news, I don’t care for this film. :O

Need a shot of adrenaline? The first trailer for "Fast Five", the fifth installment in "The Fast and the Furious" franchise arrived this week and promises more of the same: cars, girls and explosions. The original cast is joined by newcomer (I say newcomer because he's new to the series) as an agent hunting down Dwayne "The Rock" JohnsonVin Diesel and Paul Walker. Oh and for people who are confused about the timeline of the films, it's 1, 2, 4, 5, 3. A sixth film is in the works also.



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Edgar Wright's movies, including Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Do you like the films of Edgar Wright? If so, I suggest you check out this video compilation that brings together all three of his feature films, "Shaun of the Dead", "Hot Fuzz" and "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World". It's a great video, honest.



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Speaking of video compilations, below you will also find two video compilations of the films of 2010. Check them both below and enjoy the ride that 2010 had to offer.




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And that is all this week! I'll be posting up personal favourite ten films of the year next week. In the mean time, I came across this awesome video this week of the "Super Mario Bros" as imagined through "Grand Theft Auto" and it is hilarious. There are a few references to films and other things in the video which are golden. My favourite one is the "Bad Boys 2" one cause it's essentially every Michael Bay film in a three second shot. Check it out and have a safe an awesome Christmas, guys.


End post.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Last Flowers

WHAT'S UP?

As per usual, I had a really average week. And in case you're wondering what that would be, an average week for me is just not going out and lying in my own filth. The only time I really needed to go outdoors this week was to get food. I lead such a fufilling life full of potential. So that's why I have this as a weekly blog, yo. :)


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OMGOSH, "UNCHARTED 3: DRAKE'S DECEPTION" WAS ANNOUNCED THIS WEEK!!! YAYAYAYAYAYAYAY! Will be more than happy to join Nathan Drake and crew for an epic adventure in the Arabian desert!


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"Boardwalk Empire" and "The Walking Dead" finished their first seasons this past week. NOW I HAVE NOTHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO ON MONDAY EVENINGS (well until it starts season two anyway). "Boardwalk Empire" has had such an amazing first season with the season finale making me ever so curious and anxious to see the second season and how things will turn out. "The Walking Dead's" season finale was a bit of a letdown but I'm hoping they get better next season. This season was started off quite strongly but really started to fall into mediocrity towards the last two, maybe three episodes.

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Ladies and gentlemen, THIS is your dickhead of the week! This past week, it was reported that a man from North Carolina, USA, had stolen several Xbox machines from children who were recovering from cancer at a hospital. The man was caught on camera entering and leaving the building and at one point even looked straight into the camera. Police officials are currently searching for the man and have recieved help from the community who are outraged someone would do this, especially during the holiday period. After hearing about this terrible news, gaming publisher, Electronic Arts, donated several machines and games to replace the stolen units. That guy totally deserves to get whatever punishment is waiting for him - he's just asking to get caught.

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Awesome video is awesome. A guy on Youtube, under the username, weikang, created a video that shows "Inception" in "real-time". The video basically attempts to show the four levels of dreams and how they all overlap one another. I think no one should be confused anymore about Inception after seeing this video (although it was never really all that confusing to begin with).

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I came across a really great article the other day discussing why the films of today generally lack quality (ie. suck). It's a really great read and has a pretty strong argument and explanation of the films that are being made today. For anyone interested in wanting to know why the films of today suck, I advise you click THIS LINK.
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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING


This week, my director's spotlight highlighted the films of the recently deceased, Satoshi Kon. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a hold of two films of his, "Millenium Actress" and "Tokyo Godfathers" which is a shame. If I had to summarise the work of Kon, however, it would be that his films often deal with that which is illusory or dream-like and what we percieve to be reality.


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"Perfect Blue" is one of those Japanese animations that most anime fans will have at least heard of. The story revolves around a pop singer turned actress, Mima, whose sense of reality is distorted when she is stalked by an excessive fan and what appears to be a ghost from her pop idol past. One of my first reactions to seeing this film was that it bared a lot of resemblance to "Black Swan". I know it hasn't released yet but there were a lot of things, thematically, that linked the two films together. Surprisingly, Darren Aronofsky, director of "Black Swan", has stated that he loves "Perfect Blue" and even borrowed a scene from the film to use in one of his previous films, "Requiem for a Dream". Back to the film, the story twists and turns and does a pretty good job of really grabbing your attention. A lot of red herrings are dropped to make you think as much as Mima whose grip on reality slowly slips away from her as she can't figure out who she is and what she's doing. The film also seems to give a critique on the Japanese entertainment industry where music/television/film idols are manufactured and promoted in an entirely different way than Western music labels/agencies. It's a dark film that does a great job of setting the story, atmosphere and really keeps you going on the ride for as long as possible.


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The other film of Satoshi Kon I watched this week was "Paprika". The opening of this film is absolutely amazing but then after a while you'll realise "hang on, where have I seen this before?". The opening has characters inhabit people's dreams and subconsciences while also jumping in through different stages of one's dream. Sound familiar? It should, because the primary idea behind "Paprika" bares a strong resemblence to this year's hit, "Inception". Christopher Nolan, director of "Inception", had apparently stated in an interview that "Paprika" was an influence behind "Inception". This film may have come out before "Inception", however, Nolan apparently had this idea working in his mind for ten years. Now, how much of this is true, I can't say but it's hard to ignore that "Paprika" and "Inception" share a lot of things together. Having said that though, the world of "Paprika" is a lot more unique, stranger and visually striking than the ones found in "Inception". It's hard to say whether or not I liked "Paprika" as it was seemingly all over the place. Most of my time watching the movie was spent not actually watching it but trying to understand what was happening and how characters got there. It's quite confusing a lot of the time and ultimately hindered my experience watching it. However, that isn't to say I didn't like the film as there is quite a lot to like. The surrealness of the film is quite amazing. The visuals are spectacular and are shown in quite a spectacular and creative way. The story itself is quite unique and would've been unlike anything I'd ever seen had it not been for Nolan's film. "Paprika" seems to be stuck in the middle for me, it's neither good, nor bad and is very watchable.

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TIDBITS OF FILM NEWS


The first official trailer and poster (see above) for "Thor" released this past week. While most people, myself included, had already seen the leaked and longer 5 minute trailer that was shown at Comic-Con earlier this year, this condensed trailer essentially is a shorter version of that leaked footage with a few more seconds of new footage.



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The first teaser trailer for Michael Bay's third Transformers film "Transformers: Dark of the Moon", was also released this week. The teaser is interesting to say the least but is almost similar to the original teaser that was featured for the first Transformers film which makes that particular finding on Mars almost irrelvant to this one now.



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Last trailer for today, I promise! The first official trailer to "Real Steel" released this week and while I knew this movie was going to be insanely ridiculous (I've covered it before on the blog), the trailer that was released looks a lot better than what I had thought of in my mind (mind you, I had extremely low expectations for the film). It's basically a live action version of Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots but it looks so stupid and ridiclous yet kinda awesome at the same time. I still have low expectations for the film but that might just make my potential enjoyment of it all the more greater. I'm still wondering why Hugh Jackman would even associate with this film in the first place... must be for the money.


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Emma Stone films a funeral scene for the upcoming untitled "Spider-Man" film at a cathedral in Downtown LA

Here's your first glimpse of Emma Stone sporting the Gwen Stacy look on set for the upcoming and still untitled re-boot of "Spider-man". Stone is actually a natural blonde and while I prefer her with her red hair, she still looks amazing as a blonde and really looks the part of Gwen. There's also a picture of her below at an event too which shows off more of her Gwen look.


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And that's it for this week. Next week, "TRON: Legacy" releases in cinemas so I'll be checking that out as well as watching the original film. It will be my last film in cinemas for 2010 so let's hope it's a good one to close what has been a pretty good year in mainstream cinema.

Now for something awesome. Guillermo Del Toro, director of such films as, "Pan's Labyrinth" and "Hellboy" loved Edgar Wright's "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" and thought it was pretty awesome (not hard to see why, of course). He signed a copy of the film at an event where Del Toro interviewed Wright about the film and left a comment one fan's copy that is made of absolute win. I concur, Mr Del Toro.


applebigwheels:  Scott Pilgrim DVD signed by Guillermo Del Toro

End post.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Party Poison

Oh hey look, a "Red Dead Redemption" inspired banner! Man if only I really looked THAT badass. I don't know how the banner acme out all pixelated though...


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Average week for me.
I shaved my head again and damn do I feel sexy again, hahaha. I've also almost finished season three of "Breaking Bad" which would mean that once I finish it, I'll be completely up to date and geared up for Season 4 next year! Shows that will be coming to an end this week will be "Boardwalk Empire" and "The Walking Dead" which is sad but at the same time exciting as both shows have already been renewed for a second season! It's strange that television has become irrelevant to me. Television raised me for most of my childhood (like most of us, surely!) and now with the internet I just download whatever television shows pique my interests. It's unfortunate that some television shows either don't get aired in Australia or are incredibly delayed and behind in seasons which is why I think I basically wait until a show has finished airing on television in America and immediately hunt the torrent file down. Dare I say it, television has seemingly become irrelevant now. Hrmmm...

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So other than staying home and watching television shows on my laptop, I haven't been up to much. I was able to catch "Confessions" and "Solanin", two films that were screening at ACMI as part of the Japanese Film Festival which was quite exciting. My thoughts on both films are down below.
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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING


I said I'd have a Paul Thomas Anderson week this week for movies and while I didn't get around to "Punch Drunk Love" or "There Will Be Blood", I did happen to see the two films that he will be mostly remembered for.


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"Boogie Nights" was the film that really made Paul Thomas Anderson a household name. The film tells the story of pornstar Eddie Adams/Dirk Diggler (Mark Whalberg) and through him, we are witness to his rise and fall. Through him, we also see the landscape of the porn industry in the 70's and 80's, the shift from film to home video and professionals to amateurs. The subject matter may not sound all too appealing but underneath all this is a classic story of fame, reaching it and then losing it. PT Anderson tells the story with great conviction and uses the camera veryw ell. The opening scene is my absolute favourite in the film as it is one long shot circling the club that all the key players of the film can be found at (done to an awesome 70's disco music by the way). These long tracking shots seem to be consistent throughout Anderson's work as it appears more than once in this film as well as in "Magnolia". The acting is incredibly top notch! I don't know how PT Anderson is able to assemble a cast of extraordinary actors and extract great performances from them (even from Whalberg who was definitely the wildcard here). It clocks in at just under three hours and is a bit too long for my taste. There were parts that could've been cut down but as it stands, the film is a very strong entry into his body of work and is quite enjoyable.


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"Magnolia" is one of those rare gems that stand atop the food chain in films. It's a truly wonderful film that takes you on an exploration into themes of loneliness, regret, exploitation, hurt and failure. What really attracted me to the film was that it had many stories going throughout it and some of these stories crossed over with one another (though never having any true direct affect on one another). Some of my favourite films like, "21 Grams", "Babel" and "Pulp Fiction" feature a multi-narrative structure which is something I admire in screenwriters when they're able to do that. The characters are rich and fully developed which ultimately make it a very satisfying character driven film but the stories are also very satisfying as well as each individual's story is so interesting and engaging. Again, PT Anderson is so very fortunate enough to work with exceptional actors (most of which were from "Boogie Nights"). For me, Julianne Moore and Tom Cruise were the strongest actors in the film but that's not to say that everyone else was bad because they were also great too. This film is longer than Anderson's previous effort but where "Boogie Nights" felt a bit too long and overwhelming, this just felt a lot quicker as I was literally drawn in by the story and performances. It's a truly outstanding film, one of the greats of the 90's and came out in a year of great films too.


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Now here's a real treat. Japan's entry into the 2011 Academy Awards, "Confessions", is a haunting psychological thriller that revolves around Yuko Moriguchi, a high school teacher and mother, whose four year old daughter is cruely murdered. Having knowledge of who commited to the murder, she hatches an elaborate revenge scheme on her child's killers - students of her class. Screened as part of the 14th Annual Japanese Film Festival in Melbourne this year, this cold blooded film is an examination into themes of alienation, revenge, familial acceptance, love and life. I liken this film to "Neon Genesis Evangelion", my absolute favourite anime series, in that the themes explored here are very much like that of Evangelion (except replace a giant fighting robots with a revenge story). It's a very strong film and one that doesn't hold back on it's dark subject matter. It's unlike anything to have come out this year and that is where it's strongest point comes from. The film is split up into different sections of narration by several characters and the film's cold opening monologue by Yuko will hook you into the film instantly. But be warned, this film is not action heavy. Those of you looking for a bloody revenge tale the likes of Park Chan-wook's brilliant Vengance trilogy or Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill" series may want to look elsewhere. This film is quite dialogue heavy, the pacing is oftentimes slow but stick with it and you'll be handsomely rewarded. While the pacing might be slow, it works to the films benefit as it is snowball effect that will culimate into something spectacular, much like another film I saw this year, "Let Me In". Oh and the music for this film was very well used and very good (great use of Radiohead's track, "Last Flowers"). I liked this film for the most part; oftentimes it felt long to me because they were repeating things that happened before and the narration can lose your interest sometimes but overall it was a very finely made film. The story is told very well and once everything connects, you'll truly be overwhelemed. The more I think about it though, the more I kind of want to see it again (I said straight to Kevin straight after the screening that I don't think I could see it twice but I thought about it a lot when I got home).



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"Solanin", also screened as part of this year's Japanese Film Festival at ACMI, is a film based on a best selling manga series that sees 20-somethings figuring out what to do with their life and is essentially a film about growing up. It seems that Aoi Miyazaki has a knack for finding herself in musically intrinsic films such as "NANA" and "Shonen Merickensack". With "Solanin", Miyazaki doesn't need to exaggerate the cute, naive, bubbly girl (a la "NANA), nor does she need to exaggerate her comedic chops (a la "Shonen Merickensack"). Instead, here we are witness to Miyazaki in a role that doesn't require much exaggeration and is able to play a character that most of us can relate to (which is a welcome delight). Having said that, the film meanders from the main story in some instances by including randomly placed flashbacks to earlier days. I understand what they were trying to do, however, oftentimes it feels like it breaks continuity in the most annoying of ways. The humour seemed quite forced and didn't always need to be there and for a film that relies so heavily on music (music serves as the point of communication and motivation for all the characters), the film is mostly silent and very rarely includes a score. However, for the music that is provided (thanks to Japanese band, Asian Kung Fu Generation), it's a welcome to the ears. As the film reaches it's third act, it starts to go cliche and ends the way you'd expect this type of film to end. "Solanin" overextends it's welcome (clocked in at over 120 minutes) and is not perfect but for the most part, is a watchable movie yet also forgettable. Apparently Aoi Miyazaki also learned to play guitar and learned to sing for her performance parts in the film which (if true) is really impressive to me.

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TIDBITS OF FILM NEWS
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First off some sad news. Hollywood comedic actor Leslie Nielson and Irvin Kershner, director of the best "Star Wars" entry, "The Empire Strikes Back", both passed away this week. An unfortunate loss in Hollywood and may they rest in peace. Condolensces to the friends and families of both these talented men.

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New casting details emerge for the new "Spider-Man" film with parts for Peter Parker's parents being filled in as well as a newly announced second villain in Proto-Goblin. Campell Scott and Julianne Nicholson will play the parents of Peter Parker while Irrfan Khan will play Protogoblin. I would've been fine if they just had ONE villain but not entirely sure if they should do two...

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The National Board of Review (non-profit group of film academics, critics, students and filmmakers) has named their best film of 2010 to be David Fincher's amazing film, "The Social Network". They also selected Jesse Eisenberg as their best actor of the year and won best screenplay for Aaron Sorkin's amazing script. For the full list of winners, click THIS LINK and find out which films and actors/actresses have a fairly good chance at winning the big awards come early next year.

As always there was more news to share but I couldn't be bothered putting it up for this post.
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And that is all for this week. This past week, Qatar was chosen to host the World Cup and this was my reaction to Australia not being picked to host in 2022.


I was then subsequently shown the video presentation that Australia used to campaign for the World Cup hosting rights and then my reaction went more like this.


End post.