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Saturday, 24 July 2010

Home Is For The Heartless

GEEKS UNITE!

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San Diego is once again holding their annual event, Comic Con, and man do I wish I was there. All the gaming and film related news and reveals to have come out these past few days have made me giddy with excitement. The new additions to the "Marvel vs Capcom 3" roster make me want to sell my soul for a copy of that game. People at the "Scott Pilgrim vs the World" panel were all surprised to a screening of the full movie. I could go on but no. Sadly though, as this is an event originally intended to celebrate comic books, I don't really hear much about the comics themselves. I've even heard that the comics section get pushed back in favour of these other massive booths which is a little disconcerting to hear. I may read comic books here and there and enjoy reading them but I'm not a major comic book fan am not saying I'm knowledgeable with it - I just think that they're pretty awesome. Kinda sad to hear this if it is indeed true cause this kind of convention is typically NOT the type to attract attention from media outlets like Entertainment Tonight...yuck.

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So I'm starting Semester 2 of University this week and while I do look forward to learning new things, there are a few things I'm disappointed about. The clash with Japanese and Cinema Studies means that I won't be able to get to the film screenings and would be forced to attend the compulsory workshops for Japanese. This is disappointing because the films that will be screened in the cinema this semester are AWESOME! "Goodfellas", "House of Flying Daggers" and "Kung Fu Hustle". No epic picture and sound for me. Secondly, I'm worried about screenwriting since one of my assignments requires me to write a 20 page screenplay that's worth 65% of my mark for that subject. Finally, I'm disappointed that I was forced to pick a tutorial for screenwriting on Friday. I would've had a four day long weekend again but I wasn't aware that the tutorial selections were even open for screenwriting. Oh well. Gotta make the best outta everything, right?

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Okay, so I'm quite proud of this letter I wrote to the editor of GameInformer Australia, Chris Stead. Sure, it's not it's own article and is simply a "letter to the editor" but I'm very appreciative and thankful that GameInformer would choose it and publish it in this month's issue. One small step for me, perhaps? While I do appreciate the fact that they would even consider publishing my opinionated letter, I just wish my name wasn't published as "Hieu Chen". :(
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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING

So normally I would give a short review about each individual film I've seen but I thought that for this week, rather than congest this section with each film - I'd discuss the film career of Christopher Nolan. I will, however, put up a small review only for "Inception". This past week I watched two films of his that I hadn't previously seen before ("Following" and "Insomnia"), revisited his "Batman" universe and saw his newly released film, "Inception".

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Nolan's a writer/director that I admire simply because his films are incredibly ambitious. With the exception of "Insomnia" and the "Batman" films, he and his brother, Jonathan Nolan, write truly original films that aren't afraid to break conventions. Watching "Following" reminded me a lot of "Memento" with the unconventional method in structuring the film and telling the storytelling. Nolan also seems to favour creating intricate films surrounding characters that are, in one form or another, psychologically damaged or carrying heavy burdens. The openings of several Nolan film either give incentive as to what the film will be about ("Inception", "Memento"), give clues surrounding the major plot points and/or twists in the story ("Following", "Insomnia", "The Prestige"). Crucial to Nolan's films seems to be the theme of memory. All of his films have had characters affected by past memories. Bruce Wayne ("Batman" series) is affected by the death of his parents, Leonard ("Memento") suffers from amnesia and Detective Will Dormer ("Insomnia") is haunted by the memory of his slain partner. While on the subject of memory, Nolan often inserts quick flashbacks into a scene - a visual motif that has made it's way into all of his films. His films continue to push the boundaries of cinematic storytelling and it's great that studios are willing to give him money for ambitiously original ideas instead of tentpole franchises based off comics, games and toys.

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"Inception" isn't quite the complicated film that it's made out to be. It's a great film, yeah, but it's basically an action film with a lot of science fiction implications (not that I don't enjoy a smart action movie). Do not try to turn your ears and brain off for a second because if you miss one piece of jargon used throughout the film, you may find yourself in a world of confusion. The story is simple enough to follow and is one of corporate espionage. The real draw of the film, of course, is the idea of delving into the dream. Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is an experienced extractor, a person whose job it is to steal information about people from their subconscious while they're dreaming. This made-up theory of "subconscious diving" isn't too intricate to be puzzled by, rest assured, but it is one that is quite ingenious. Plotholes may appear in relation to the time spent in dreams versus the time spent in reality but they're not so big that they make you rethink the entire film. I liked that it wasn't you're regular heist film where the characters needed to steal something but instead needed to plant something. The film is long but never quite feels that way as you are really involved with the plot and it's characters (characterisation and interaction between Marion Cotillard and Leonardo DiCaprio could've been cut down for the sake of the main plot). Nolan seems to have fixed his problem with editing though and has learned not to need rapid fire cuts during action sequences. Plenty of action and suspense to keep you on your seat, finely acted from the entire cast (could you expect any less from Leonardo DiCaprio, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page and Cillian Murphy) and rather visually arresting - "Inception" is one of the year's best mainstream films to have been released so far.

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TIDBITS OF FILM NEWS

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Max Brooks' novel, "World War Z" is moving along and has Brad Pitt attached to star in the film. The news comes straight from Comic Con via Brooks himself. Pitt's production company, "Plan B" will produce the film. The story is about a fictionalised version of Max Brooks who travels across a zombiefied America documenting the survival stories of the zombie apocalypse.

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Zack Snyder's "Sucker Punch" also got a bit of a debut this past week at Comic Con with a few character posters. I like some of the steam-punk aesthetic that's going on. Is that a mecha I see, also? Ya know, if you told me this was a comic book adaptation, I'd go along with it but I was actually surprised to find out that this film was actually an original conception. Now for a trailer please.

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Below is the new trailer for "Buried" starring Ryan Reynolds who's in a box for the whole movie apparently. I've been really interested in this film and I've read around that his performance is deserving of an Oscar nomination. Interesting. The trailer doesn't even tell you anything but, on a marketing standpoint, tries to appeal to the masses with extracted quotes that are sure to generate interest and excitement. I could do without all those silly colourful lines though.


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Anyone wanna see Darth Vader rob a bank? You can read more about the story HERE but for now, there's the picture down below.

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End post.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Beat Laments the World

Wassup yo!

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Another rather uneventful week in this life of mine. At the risk of sounding like a person who has absolutely nothing to aspire to in life, I was able to finish the game "Final Fantasy VII" this past week. No one's interested in this personal achievement of mine, obviously, but I thought I'd like to just get it out there. A few years ago one of my discs was heavily damaged to the point where I couldn't complete this epic video game. I was able to buy it on the Playstation Store and started last Sunday and finished this past Friday. I played a total of 40 hours. Personal achievement to me but utterly sad and worthless to many. I'm thinking of continuing this trend before I get to Uni (in a week's time) by buying the 8th installment in the now legendary "Final Fantasy" video game series.

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This is already old news by now but being that this is a weekly blog update, I shall therefore continue to express my happiness for Spain who now have their first World Cup winning. Spain scored in the dying minutes of extra time during the finals against the Netherlands and boy was it a goal to savour. Congratulations go out to Spain who, I'm sure, are still celebrating their monumental victory.

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I'm sure I've answered this question in a post before but just to repeat myself, I don't always write everything in the one go. If I did though it'd almost take me most of the day to do so. However, I spread it out and write it as I go along. For example, after I finish a film, I'd go and write about it straight away so that it's still fresh in my head and then save it in the drafts. So I hope that clears things up. As for my posts not appearing in your news feed, I'm not sure what to make of that, sorry. :S

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Well look at that. The Chinese built a 33 foot tall Optimus Prime statue completely from old car parts outside of the Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium. Impressive, most impressive.

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Hot girl of the week - Elena Satine. This red headed Georgian-born model/actress/singer was reported to have auditioned for the role of Mary Jane Watson for the upcoming reboot of the "Spider-Man" franchise. Can she act? I dunno. But just give it to her Sony - you'd be foolish enough to let her go because she is practically the real-life incarnation of Mary Jane Watson. I think this calls for a small picture spam.

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My Photos | /www.tylershields.com/ | ELENA SATINE
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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING

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The newly released "Predators" is a complete throwback to the original film and still manages to hold on it's own rather well. It's not an outstanding film but it is worthy enough to be considered the true sequel to the original film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. While it may be argued that this film is basically using the same settings and formula of the original and only paints over the first film with a more sci-fi aesthetic, I say "Why fix something that ain't broke?". It was absolutely fine the way it was years ago and it still works. It's the way we want to remember the Predator alien. My only two problems with the film were Topher Grace and some of the exposition during moments where the human characters actually interact with one another. I really enjoyed the film, despite those few issues however and thought it was a pretty fun film that more than makes up for all those other "Predator" related films.



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TIDBITS OF FILM NEWS

Ryan Reynolds in Costume as Green Lantern

I'm not a massive follower of Green Lantern and his many stories but I prefer the Green Lantern over to most superheroes and would even go as far as to say that he's one of my top favourite superhero characters in the comic book world. Having said that, I have been following the Green Lantern film due out next year for quite a long while now and this past week, the first few pictures from the Green Lantern film were released via Entertainment Weekly's Comic-Con magazine issue. Now for the sake of time, I won't link all the scans but if you're interested, CLICK HERE, to check out a few of the other pictures. May I say that brunette Blake Lively is almost probably more hot than blonde Blake Lively.

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Also found in the Entertainment Weekly magazine in the United States is the official first look at Zack Snyder's upcoming film, "Sucker Punch". I'm surprised that he was able to direct both "Legends of the Guardians" and this film simultaneously. "Sucker Punch" stars Emily Browning, Vannessa Hudgens, Jaime Chung, Abbie Cornish and Jena Malone and basically looks and sounds like an all-girl over the top, stylish, action flick. Girls and guns - awesome combination. Is it bad to say that I'm a fan of Zack Snyder?

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I love David Fincher's films - his 1999 film "Fight Club" is one of my all-time favourite films. This past week, the official theatrical trailer to his latest film, "The Social Network" was released and I am incredibly impressed with it. The song choice for the trailer was used to amazing effect and the trailer itself was cut really well. "The Social Network" stars Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake and Brenda Song and tells the story behind the creation of Facebook. The film has no concrete Australian release date as of yet but is due for release in the United States on October 1.



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Another film trailer that stunned me this week was the Ben Affleck directed film, "The Town". Affleck, who also stars in the film, has ventured into directing territory before with the critically praised "Gone Baby Gone", a film I've yet to watch, unfortunately. I probably will see that though after seeing the trailer for "The Town" and think that it looks to be an incredibly top notch, well made and gritty film with an amazing cast to boot. I think the fact that the film is also set in Boston makes me like it even more (I love the Boston accent, haha). Will definitely be a film to watch out for.



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M.Night Shyamalan's track record hasn't been all that great. With every film he's put out, they've consistently gotten worse and worse. Thankfully, he was smart enough to, this time, only pen the script and give it to someone else. Will another person's vision be enough to actually make one forget about horrible scriptwork? Maybe "Devil" will have the answer. The trailer was released this past week and it looks really interesting. I've said before that I'm quite a fan of films that utilise one setting and "Devil" does just that. Check out the trailer below.


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And that's all for this week! One more week until I return to University study. In the meantime, here is an awesome video of New York improv group, "Improv Everywhere" reenacting an early scene out of "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope". I wish I was on that train.



End post.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Stockholm Syndrome

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...Okay so I was wrong about Argentina last week. But the finals to the World Cup are fast approaching and I'm glad that this World Cup's finals pit the Netherlands against Spain! I wanted Spain to beat the Germans in their semi-final and was glad they moved on to the finals. My parents, on the night of the Spain/Germany game, asked me who I was cheering for in the match. When I told them I was cheering for Spain, they both laughed at me and told me they knew Germany were going to win. Imagine their surprise when Spain scored and won instead. It was my only chance to gloat in front of them and say "in your face". I was happy. As I've said before, this year's World Cup has been truly unpredictable and I think that this year's finals have proven that. Let's go Spain!
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Oh hey look it's Shiina Ringo from awesomely cool Japanese band Tokyo Jihen!!! Oh wait no it's Holiday Sidewinder from alternative Australian band Bridezilla.
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The thought of going to a drive-in cinema screening had never crossed my mind before but I was fortunate enough to attend one this past week. My close friend, Thy, suggested we watch "Eclipse" at the drive-in and I thought it was an absolutely brilliant and awesome idea cause I've never been to one and probably would've never thought about going to one. Luckily, she recently just got her P-plates so she was able to drive myself and her best friend, Minny, there as well. When we got there, we joked about re-watching "Toy Story 3" because the massive screen was right behind the "Eclipse" screen and we could've easily tuned radio to set the audio for "Toy Story 3". It was pretty cool how the radio tuner was used to get the audio from the film, I thought. The whole drive-in experience was an awesome way to watch a film and I'd really love to do it again someday. I just wish my first drive-in screening wasn't "Eclipse".
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WHAT I’VE BEEN WATCHING

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"Fallen Angels" was supposed to be the third story in director Wong Kar Wai's "Chungking Express" but Wong ended up only using two stories because the "Fallen Angels" story would've made it too long (not to mention the film is completely different in tone to "Chungking Express"). Although the film features the same hyper kinetic energy that was featured in "Chungking Express", the direction is even more energetic and kinetic this time around as the film's story calls for it with gun shootouts that bare much resemblance to those found in any John Woo film. As with any Wong Kar Wai film, the characters are very well refined and have great depth. The only character that I didn't feel was written too well was Leon Lai's hitman character. There wasn't much to his character, which means Lai didn't really have much to do with his character other than running around shooting people and occasionally telling the audiences his inner most thoughts. If Faye Wong was the heart of "Chungking Express" then Takeshi Kaneshiro's role in "Fallen Angels" will be the one most people remember as he is an absolute joy to watch. It's a fun role that isn't one you'd expect Kaneshiro to play, that's for certain. The film is much darker in tone than "Chungking Express" and while I like both films, I prefer the light-heartedness of "Chungking Express" (seriously, Faye Wong makes that movie so good). This is probably why I liked Takeshi Kaneshiro's mute character and his story moreso than the hitman story. At the end of the day, "Fallen Angels" is another solid film in Wong Kar Wai's filmography and is an instant refresher from the 60's laden romantic melodramas he has so often come to be associated with. This is the only Wong Kar Wai film I'd recommend to people who aren't too ambitious about diving head first into one of his films as it does kind of work as your contemporary Hong Kong film.
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Rian Johnson's "Brick" is an ambitiously curious movie. The idea of transporting the characters and dialogue of a detective noir story and dressing it in a Southern Californian high school/suburbia setting is, at first glance, one of laughable proportions. Johnson makes it work incredibly well however and the result is a very interesting directorial debut and an even more interesting film. It's surprising to see how well these two universes collide with one another as I was expecting a bit of a "Veronica Mars"-like approach to the film. There is one moment in the film where things get absolutely hilarious when, we see, the world these teenagers inhabit (with their cool, throwback dialogue) clash with that of the real world and it works so well. The script is great - the dialogue is exactly how you'd expect these fictitious archetypes of the 30's and 40's to talk. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is absolutely brilliant and blew me away in this. His performance was quite understated. I feel like seeing more in the filmography of JGL now because he's a child actor that's really grown to have a VERY good career with quality film choices that haven't steered him into bad direction (I still think WTF over his decision to be in "G.I. Joe", though). The rest of the cast are great and work well with one another. The score is absolutely amazing and gives the film its tone and atmosphere and I quite liked the cinematography and direction too. A very nice independent picture that’s quite underrated and should get some more attention.
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This third entry into the insanely popular, "Twilight" franchise is surprisingly better than the two films that came before it. "Eclipse" is much more darker than the previous two films and even incorporates "horrific" elements that may startle or upset much of the young, impressionable female audience it tries to appeal to. Various members of the Cullen family who don't get enough screen time or mentions are given their own opportunities to tell the audience their back stories, providing much more clarity and a bit of depth into these otherwise forgettable characters. It's a nice touch to have some of the other Cullens tell the audience who they are instead of being blank objects in the background of Bella, Edward and Jacob. The performances are still a tad mediocre and the love triangle between Edward, Bella and Jacob is still bland and uninteresting but it's not all bad - at least they added a woman into Jacob's "Wolf Pack". Things were starting to look a lot like an episode of "Queer as Folk" over there.
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"Get Him To The Greek" - the spin-off to the highly recommended 2008 comedy, "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" - is a film that, unfortunately, gradually gets worse as the film progresses. It's promising at the beginning but the "will they arrive on time?" idea wanes very quickly and loses its momentum. The film's narrative especially takes a plunge in the third act of the film where an awkward threesome feels almost out of place and is admittedly hard to watch. There are plenty of great laughs to hold you over for a while, don't get me wrong, but it's mostly a forgettable comedy film (a bit ironic, perhaps?). While my main motivation to see this was the fact that it was a spin off from "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" my other motivation to see this film was to see Rose Byrne in an environment totally unlike anything she's ever done. It was certainly bizarre seeing her portray a foul-mouthed, Lady Gaga-esque popstar but it was disappointing that she didn't get as much screentime as I had imagined. My disappointment with the film may also stem from the fact that I saw this film with an audience of only about seven people. I believe comedy movies suffer as a result of audience participation as I was mostly laughing and I never really heard anyone but myself and my friend laugh. Maybe my experience may have differed if I was with a larger audience?
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I didn't know it before, but I certainly know it now. This is now one of my favourite movies. John Woo's, "Hard Boiled" isn't trying to be a gritty tale of cops and robbers nor does it pretend to be a film about the strenuous task of being an undercover cop and coping with loss. Simply put, "Hard Boiled" is a straight-up action film that celebrates the greatness of gunfire, explosions, cops and robbers. The violence and action is heavily stylised in a way that is completely different to Western action films such as "Die Hard" or "Rambo". Within ten minutes of the film, the shootout that ensues racks up a ridiculously high body count. Woo's understanding of the action genre allows him to create heightened senses of adrenaline and genuine excitement for the audience. Many times I found myself in awe of some of the things that were happening. The most memorable scene for most people who've seen "Hard Boiled" is the single-take tracking shot of Chow Yun Fat and Tony Leung's characters moving from hallway to hallway, floor to floor, shooting goons down in an awesome matter. In my mind, this film is the king of action movies. What's even greater is that the plot isn't some throwaway device that's used to allow for these spectacularly staged shootouts but it's actually as fun and exhilarating as the set pieces. A true benchmark in action filmmaking, definitely.
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While it's not the strongest entry into Pixar's consistently wonderful filmography, "Cars" still holds up quite well as a Pixar film and is one that many should be able to thoroughly enjoy. Older audiences won't find too much to love about it (except for that love of cars and nostalgia of road trips) but kids should pick up very well. It's very wonderfully animated (like any Pixar film really) and I think the truth showcase of the animation in cars can be found when neon lights are reflecting off the shiny surfaces of each individual car - it's really impressive. The story unfolds quite well and I was never feeling bored but it's not something unique or something we haven't seen before. All in all, "Cars" is still an enjoyable film, it's just not a strong one in Pixar's long line of incredible films. Fun for the whole family and has a great message for children watching too.
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I didn't think I'd like "Ratatouille" because I didn't really see the appeal and didn't quite have enough interest in it. I did, however, have enough curiosity to want to try it out and it really surprised me and was a lot better than I could've imagined. The film itself looks like its geared more towards adults than most Pixar films because the story itself doesn't lend itself to be a favourite for children. Not saying that it isn't for children - it most certainly is - I'm just saying the story, while very heart warming, doesn't seem like it would be an instant favourite amongst kids. The animation, as always, is impeccable - the textures of herbs and vegetables looked incredibly organic and you could see every strand of hair on Remy the rat and on the other human characters. The voice acting is perfect all around. I especially liked the voice actor for Linguini, Lou Romano. His voice reminded me of David Schwimmer of "Friends" fame which is more than appropriate for the character of Linguini. After having seen the film, it made me really appreciate fine dining and food. I think this is one of the more "unique" films in Pixar's catalogue of films and I'm glad to have watched this and think it's a fantastic film. I think if I were a child watching this, I’d aspire to be a chef because it makes the culinary world seem so exciting!
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"Wall-E" is quite possibly the zenith of Pixar's creative genius. It’s a true masterpiece in both animated features and storytelling as it affects the audience both intellectually and emotionally. The director, Andrew Stanton, (who previously directed “Finding Nemo”) is able to convey so much by doing very little. By stripping away the dialogue and entrusting the storytelling into the animated performances of Wall-E and his crush, Eve, the endearing and lovable characters are able to communicate to everyone without the need for languages to overcomplicate things. It breaks the language/speech barriers are goes back to the essential basics of acting – movement and body language. It’s almost a silent movie! Wall-E and Eve communicate with one another using robotic beeps and whirs which, at times, come to sound like words. I think that the animation is absolutely outstanding – it’s probably the best Pixar has to offer - and that having the film set in space also helps to create spectacular visuals. Even the rusted metal textures on Wall-E and the sleek, Mac/Apple-like design of Eve, are very noticeable and look very good. I think that the commentary of consumerism, the planning for future generations and ultimately preservation of Earth. All important things for older audiences to think of and for children to get an early grasp of (especially with the preservation of Earth message).It’s no secret that I’m a fan of sci-fi, so the subtle allusions to sci-fi gems like “2001: A Space Odyssey” were nice to see. I highly recommend “Wall-E” to everyone as it is a film that is highly engaging with characters and a story that will resonate with you longer after the credits roll.
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TIDBITS OF FILM NEWS
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I was a fan of the "Saw" series up until the fourth film where things took a real turn for the worse. I know much has been said about the tired and old “torture porn” genre but when it’s done right it’s not only effective (not that it isn’t effective already) and good. The first "Saw" film was very promising and showcased some fresh Australian talent in Leigh Whannel and James Wan. As the series progressed, it gradually got worse. The "Saw" series is in its seventh film now and with the success of 3D, the seventh installment has been retitled as “Saw 3D: The Traps Come Alive”. Insert facepalm right here. It could’ve been worse I guess. "5inal Destination" or "Fast Five", anyone?
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Speaking of the “torture porn” genre a little film that went unnoticed by me has only recently come to my attention as Madman Entertainment will be distributing the film soon. The film in question is called, “The Loved Ones”, an Australian made feature that has had some very warm reception from horror fans and has had quite a bit of love across the various film festivals it was screened at. It was finished last year but has finally found proper distribtution. I wouldn’t mind watching it cause it looks very interesting and I love films that use minimalistic settings and require only one location (films like “Reservoir Dogs” and “Death at a Funeral” come to mind). Check out the official trailer that was released this past week below.
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Korean cinema really is the new Hong Kong. The upcoming Korean feature “I Saw the Devil” already has me itching to see the film just from its two leads alone. Choi Min-sik ("Oldboy") and Lee Byung-hun ("A Bittersweet Life", "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra") are two of South Koreas most prominent and top draw actors and they both share the screen in this eerie thriller about a serial killer and an agent hellbent on exacting revenge on the serial killer. The full-length trailer was released this past week and it looks quite impressive. I’d love to see a lot more from Korean director, Kim Ji-woon, whose previous films I’ve seen include (“A Bittersweet Life” and “A Tale of Two Sisters”). A film of his I’ve wanted to see for a while now is “The Quiet Family”. I found out about it through one of the books I borrowed in my University’s library. That film seems quite hard to track down though.
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How do these guys get jobs? The same guys responsible for the parody films, “Epic Movie”, “Date Movie” and “Meet the Spartans” are at it again with the recently unveiled “Vampires Suck”. The film parodies the popular “Twilight” film series yet for some reason incorporates jokes about “Alice in Wonderland”, “Jersey Shore” and Lady Gaga. I didn’t think it was possible but these guys make "Twilight" look a lot better than it really is. Check out the trailer above and see for yourself.
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Finally, the Melbourne International Film Festival released the list of films they will be screening this year and I’m rather impressed at what they’ve gathered. I won’t name every film I’m interested in seeing as this blog post has gone on far too long but I will say that I’m happy and very surprised to see “Chloe” amongst the films being screened. Of course, the only reason why I want to see that film is because Amanda Seyfried stars in it. Other films I am midly excited about include “Air Doll”, “The Disappearance of Alice Creed”, “First Squad: The Moment of Truth”, “Splice” and “Small Soldiers” (yes, the one with the small toys fighting each other – and no, not "Toy Story"). Now if only I have the money to actually go see all these films. I’ll try my best to get to at least ONE film.For the full list of films, head on over to the film festival's official website and check for yourself.
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So that wraps up today's post. Here's a video that I posted on my Facebook the other week which should've made it's way here also. It's a recently uploaded compilation of the 100 Greatest Movie Insults and it's a damn good one too. Be advised that it will contain a lot of language.


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P.S. This post was close to 3,000 words. Amazing. I wonder how long my other posts are. I think I need to really cut down on words.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

The Awesome

250TH BLOG POST!

Not really a number you'd celebrate but it's like a quarter of 1000 so it's worth a mention in my books anyway... I didn't post anything up last week cause it was really lousy and I wasn't really up for writing anything. Having said that, this week was a little different. I had my Japanese exam on Thursday and it was horrible - I didn't know the meanings to some of the Kanji characters that were on the test and had a horrible time remembering a lot of things. I probably passed but not with a grade of personal satisfactory value. This is what I get for not studying properly for the test. If only the exam was on the week after classes finished at Uni, then I'd remember things and be more readily prepared. Sucks that it was my only exam too and that it was set on the last day. Lame.

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I think I'm going to slowly begin building a new collection of Blu-Ray films. I've already begun by recently buying the exquisitely beautiful 2004 Chinese film, "Hero" as well as double-dipping and buying "Evangelion - 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone". This is the only time I've double-dipped for a film though (but it's SOOOO worth it). I'm really warming up to Blu-Ray simply because the quality of the films look amazing, the sound is incredibly crisp (provided you have a very good audio system) and the amount of content and extras that you're given is outstanding (for anyone who likes that kinda stuff, like I do).

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Also, another recent purchase this week (unfortunately NOT for Blu-Ray) is "In the Mood for Love". I've expressed enough adoration and love for this masterpiece so it was only fitting that I had to track down a copy of it for myself. Very fortunate to have found it after being told that it was "out of production and no longer being distrubuted". I'm still searching "Chungking Express" though (WHY ARE YOU SO DAMN HARD TO FIND?!?!)

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Slightly (only slightly) disappointed that Asian countries didn't make the cut to the quarter finals of this year's World Cup. I had great hopes for Japan because they were playing some stellar football but unfortunately were knocked out of the competition. Also, I'm VERY surprised that Brazil has been knocked out of the tournament (and by the Dutch, no less). I will say, however, that I'm a little glad that Brazil are knocked out. At least this way, the competition now will look incredibly different. I love that this World Cup has been full of surprises and has been certainly unpredictable. I'm rooting for Argentina to win the World Cup.

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Manifest is Melbourne's premier anime convention and is set to have an awesome special guest this year in LittleKuriboh - the man responsible for the awesome "Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series". Now I have a lot more reason to attend this year if he's there cause he's a bit of an internet celebrity (not that that really counts for anything but it would be awesome to see him and ask him a question). This would be my third Manifest and it seems that with every year I go, it gets a little better and much more organised. The first Manifest convention I attended in 2008 was quite unorganised and was (for some reason) set at the University of Melbourne. Last year, and again this year, they've moved the venue to the Melbourne Showgrounds. My friend Masa and I might go as Tetris blocks (we didn't get the chance to last year) even though Tetris has nothing to do with anime.
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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING

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After 11 years, Pixar's third and final entry into the beloved "Toy Story" series is full of nuance, a bit of maturity and is fun for everyone. It's exactly the type of film you'd expect from Pixar and it does not disappoint at all. With every Pixar film that has been released, the animation has become so fluid and so good so to see the difference between the first film and "Toy Story 3" wonderfully animated the way it was, was a real joy. Of course, what's a good film without an engaging story and some well developed characters? "Toy Story 3" excels at this and towards the third act of the film, gets a little dark, though not too much to frighten children or feel completely out of place and alienate audiences. The only two problems I had were the silly 3D and the slew of new characters. Many of the new toys get enough screen-time to be memorable but they're mostly throwaway characters. In regards to the use of 3D, I personally knew coming in that it would be a quick and easy cash grab scheme for the studio. It didn't enhance my viewing of the film in any way and I didn't need it. Nonetheless, it's a fantastic film with an ending that's quite the tearjerker.



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After having bought "Hero" on Blu-Ray, I decided to watch it again to see if I'd love it even more with it's better picture quality. The film looks a lot better on the Blu-Ray, that's for sure with the colours really popping out and giving your eyes a visual feast. I've seen the film before and can say that yes, it's a wonderful film with incredibly beautiful cinematography (thanks to frequent Wong Kar Wai cinematographer Christopher Doyle) and great storytelling as well. The acting of the ensemble Chinese cast is perfect, though Zhang Ziyi's character is almost useless in the film. It's not quyite the wuxia epic that it was made out to be and it's almost like an art film disguised as a wuxia epic.

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TIDBITS OF FILM NEWS

Quick roundup of the past two weeks in film news starting with a collection of trailers for the following films: "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1", "Inception", "The Green Hornet", "Resident Evil: Afterlife", "Red", "The Borrower Arrietty".


Voldemort's power is growing stronger. He now has control over the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts. Harry, Ron, and Hermione decide to finish Dumbledore's work and find the rest of the Horcruxes to defeat the Dark Lord. But little hope remains for them, so everything they do must go as planned. (IMDB)


A character trailer that gives a little bit more insight to several of "Inception's" key players. I like there hasn't been any plot point spoilers in any of the trailers so far.


By night, debonair newspaper publisher Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) fights crime as a masked superhero known as The Green Hornet. At his side is martial arts expert Kato (Jay Chou). (IMDB)


In a world ravaged by a virus infection, turning its victims into the Undead, Alice (Jovovich), continues on her journey to find survivors and lead them to safety. Her deadly battle with the Umbrella Corporation reaches new heights, but Alice gets some unexpected help from an old friend. A new lead that promises a safe haven from the Undead takes them to Los Angeles, but when they arrive the city is overrun by thousands of Undead - and Alice and her comrades are about to step into a deadly trap. (IMDB)


When his idyllic life is threatened by a high-tech assassin, former black-ops agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) reassembles his old team in a last ditch effort to survive. (IMDB)

14-year-old Arrietty and the rest of the Clock family live in peaceful anonymity as they make their own home from items "borrowed" from the house's human inhabitants. However, life changes for the Clocks when a human boy discovers Arrietty. (IMDB)

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Andrew Garfield Spider-Man

The face of the new "Spider-Man" reboot has been officially confirmed to be 27 year old, British actor, Andrew Garfield. When he was asked about choosing Garfield for the role, director Mark Webb, said “Though his name may be new to many, those who know this young actor’s work understand his extraordinary talents. He has a rare combination of intelligence, wit, and humanity. Mark my words, you will love Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker.” I don't have a problem with the casting here, it just confuses me that Sony wanted to focus on the early years of Peter Parker in high school and wanted a young actor yet they head in the opposite direction. He does look old for the part too but I'm sure Hollywood makeup, lighting and special effects can change that. Look at how well it worked for Brad Pitt in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button".



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"The Last Airbender" was recently released in America and won't be released until September in Australia but scatching criticism has been left a bad impression on me already. According to Rotten Tomatoes - a website that gathers all professional reviews from film critics and gives a percentage of the film based on those reviews - the film currently stands at 8% making it the most critically panned film of 2010 so far. The site's consensus of "The Last Airbender" reads:
"Despite flashy special effects, The Last Airbender squanders the potential of its popular source material on an incomprehensible plot, laughable dialogue, and a joyless sense of detachment."
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This hardly counts as news but below is a nice little commercial for the Melbourne International Film Festival being held on July 22 - August 8. The full list of films that will be screened and/or in competition this year will be released this Friday, hopefully. I know I got it wrong last time but here's hoping I'm right this time about it being released on the 9th.

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And that's all for this week. Here's something that made me chortle this past week. Enjoy and goodbye.

Disney and porn movies

End post.