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Saturday, 26 February 2011

Put It In My Video

'SUP?

Another average week (surprise, surprise) so really not much to talk about from my own personal life (not that there ever is anyway). Only thing worth mentioning is that I start my second year of university studies this Monday (genuinely excited to go back, really) and that I picked my tutorial times for each class. Ideal timetable is rather ideal with days off on Tuesday and Friday.

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Anyways, we begin this week with some admiration. A moment, if you will, to admire the existence of Elizabeth Olsen, the younger sister of famous twins, Mary-Kate and Ashley. Olsen impressed audiences and pundits at this year's Sundance Film Festival with two films and emerged from Sundance as an actress to look out for in the future. She was recently cast in "Red Lights" a feature that will be written and directed by "Buried" helmer, Rodrigo Cortes and will see her star alongside Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver and Robert De Niro. In my opinion, Lizzie (as she's known to her friends and family), is much more attractive than her famous twin sisters and may even have more acting talent than them (at least from what I'm hearing from people around the Internet). Needless to say, I've clearly become quite smitten. Ain't she just pretty?

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Mortal Kombat logo

In gaming news, the latest "Mortal Kombat" has been refused classification from Australia.... WHAT?!?!?! Okay, so for years they've had "Mortal Kombat" games building up in Australia and keep in mind that this is a game that has a fairly loyal fanbase. I don't make up that loyal fanbase (don't get me wrong, I like the games but never followed them) but as a consumer who was looking forward to purchasing it, it saddens me that Australia STILL does not have an R18+ rating for video games. Why does the government keep pushing this issue under the rug? Ugh. Guess I'll just have to import it now which consequently means that Australian retailers will be suffering from this the increasing trends of importing video games. Maybe if the gamers out there import enough to make government realise that jobs and money are at stake, they'd be forced to reconsider for a new classification? One can hope.
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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING

Last week was intended to be a week dedicated to actress Faye Dunaway but I got sidetracked with a particular game so I moved that to this week instead. Below are three select films from Ms Dunaway's filmography as well as one other film that Dunaway was not a part of (it was just something I wanted to watch). I feel so blessed to have seen these fantastic films though as three of the four have become new favourites (although I'm thinking one of them might not be unless I watch it again).

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Nominated for 10 Academy Awards and winning 2 (for Best Supporting Actress and Best Cinematography), "Bonnie and Clyde" is a classic that attempts to bring to the screen, the true story of two lovers who became infamous for their murders and bank robberies. The film starts off interestingly enough with cuts of both Bonnie and Clyde as children with photographs of their upbringing cut into the opening credits sequence. It's a smart technique to already lay the foundations for these characters without having to build upon so much exposition about who they are and where they came from. After all, the film should just be about these two people's exploits as criminals and lovers and that's what we get. Once that opening credit finishes, the first actual scene is of our titular characters' meeting for the first time. Faye Dunaway marvels as the desirable Bonnie Parker while Warren Beatty plays it cool as the man that seduces Bonnie into a life of crime, Clyde Barrow. Dunaway and Beatty are fantastic together and really share some genuine moments of love and passion throughout most of the film. Early on it's hard to take their romance seriously as it is written in a strange way but it isn't until later in the film where you feel genuine emotion towards them. Bonnie and Clyde didn't just rob banks alone and had the help of Barrow's brother (a young Gene Hackman) and a mechanic they picked up along the way. It's a daring film for it's time and even today may even shock people with it's violence. "Bonnie and Clyde" isn't afraid to show violence for what it really is and never justifies it either. And while the music might feel outrageously inappropriate for a film like this, "Bonnie and Clyde" is a film that really pushed the boundaries of violence and as such, it's easy to say why a film like this is so important in American cinema.



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Often hailed as one of the greatest films ever created, Roman Polanski's "Chinatown" is a film that captures the period in which the film takes place so perfectly with it's combination of music, mise-en-scene and genre. It's a noir tale that sees private investigator, Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson), investigate one of his standard cases of adultery but through a series of events, becomes embroiled in murder mystery that revolves around Los Angeles' water supply. I've often said that detective movies/police procedurals are personal favourites of mine as I am someone who likes to try and figure out who committed the crime. It's part of the fun of this genre. What can be said about this film that hasn't already been said though? Everything you want out of a perfect film is right here - fantastic script, direction, acting, music and story. I've grown up used to seeing the sleazy Nicholson that most people see in Nicholson today so to see him playing a hard-nosed detective playing it cool with Faye Dunaway's, Evelyn Mulwray, while trying to stay out of trouble with the cops. Dunaway evenly balances sex appeal while adding a bit of suspicion and distress to what could have been the standard "grieving widow" character that makes the audience never rule her out as a viable suspect in the murder of her husband. I really can't say anything else more about how spectacular this film was. It's a film that could have easily been made during the 40's and 50's as the film does such an outstanding job in transporting the viewer back to this alluring era of Hollywood filmmaking. An incredibly outstanding film with an unpredictable ending that I did not see coming at all. One of the best and definitely a new favourite of mine.



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Network-poster.jpg Network-poster

"Network" was released in 1976 and wa s met with much critical praise and it's not hard to see why. Despite protests of it being heavily dialogue driven with very little action (if any), what can one expect when they consciously decide to watch a film about network executives exploiting their news anchor's mental breakdown in order to gain ratings? What we have with "Network" is a fantastic film that's amazingly well written and superbly acted by all those involved. If I were to make a modern day comparison, it's almost like a mix between "The Social Network" (not just by name of course) and "The Truman Show". I can't stress enough how great all the actors are here and how wonderful they are to watch in this film. Peter Finch especially deserved his posthumous Oscar that year as the deranged news anchor, Howard Beale. His performance is captivating. William Holden, who plays the head of the news division at the fictional UBS television network and best friend to Beale, provides a very subtle supporting performance that allows for actors around him to bounce back with more intensity. Faye Dunaway is electric as the career-obssessed television executive who fails at human contact and gets off on shares and ratings while Beatrice Straight who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, was only in the film for no more than ten minutes, really made her screen presence felt and was rightfully awarded so. Seriously, I can't get enough of how damn good this film is and how much it's relevant even for today as the film says a lot about the standards of television programming today (what with the excessive amounts of reality television shows that play upon the emotions of real people). It's tough for a film like this to be completely talkative without ever feeling to drab and dull but, similar to this year's Oscar running film, "The Social Network", it just goes to show you that with an amazing script and fantastic direction (Sidney Lumet's direction is flawless), any kind of movie is possible. One of the best movies I've personally had the pleasure of seeing. Maybe a new favourite? We'll see.



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After watching "Chinatown", I was really in the mood for more hard-boiled detective stories. I gave a quick look at the similar films section under "Chinatown" and one of the films that was listed was Curtis Hanson's 1997 film, "L.A. Confidential". It's a film that I had been meaning to see a long time and was one that I had been somewhat exposed to in the past. My dad owned a copy of the film when I was younger but we don't have it anymore (I'm guessing he lent it to a friend who never returned it - seems to be an issue amongst the males in my family). Anecdote aside, "L.A. Confidential" just might be one of those really underrated films that should have gotten a chance the first time. I'm not sure if this is true but apparently it underperformed at the box office which is baffling as the film really is something that much of the general public could get a kick out of. However, the film's (purported) struggling performance may be attributed to the mammoth success of James Cameron's "Titanic" which not only released that year but swept the Academy Awards. I'm with the crowd that don't particularly agree with "Titanic's" win and believe it should have gone to this film. Set in Los Angeles during the 1950's, the film revolves around a shooting at a cafe where three detectives set about to investigate the massacre through their own methods. "L.A. Confidential" is a powerful film and is a modern day noir-like story of cops and robbers with actors that are really on the top of their game here. The film starts out with the introductions to each of the three detectives that the film follows and captures is quick to capture their personalities and agendas and once our leading men have been established, the story kicks in and really escalates. Russell Crowe is incredibly intimidating as Bud White, a detective that can't stand men who beat on women. Guy Pearce puts in a subtly nuanced performance as the political detective living up to his father's reputation, Ed Exley and Kevin Spacey is fun to watch as narcotics detective, Jack Vincennes, who spends his time as a consultant on a popular police television serial. Supporting performances from Danny DeVito, James Cromwell and Kim Basinger elevate the quality of the film much more and give it extra personality. Cromwell especially impressed me as I never really saw him as an intimidating person until his turn as police captain, Dudley Smith. The film never feels too long and does a great job of keeping you interested and engaged with the characters and story. A finely crafted film, a masterpiece even. You'd be doing yourself a disservice to miss this. Goes without saying that this is a new favourite.


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TIDBITS OF FILM NEWS

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Three trailers for you guys to enjoy. The first is the teaser to "The Hangover: Part II". Confession: I haven't seen "The Hangover" yet. So I'll probably try to do that before the film comes out (I already have a copy of it, I just haven't gotten around to it). I haven't seen the trailer yet so yeah.


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The second is the third trailer for Zack Snyder's upcoming CGI-fest, "Sucker Punch". Despite what many people think about Snyder, I think he's a pretty cool dude whose films have always been either a) visually spectacular or b) entertaining as hell. Sure, some of his films don't have all that much substance to it but the man knows how to play on audience expectations of genre. Nice to see one of my favourite bands, Silversun Pickups, getting a lot of love in this trailer.



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And now the third trailer is the international trailer for Tran Anh Hung's adaptation of Haruki Murakami's popular novel, "Norwegian Wood". The film releases on March 11 in the Uk with no word on a US or Australian release so far.



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Coincidentally this just so happens to be my new wallpaper. C:

Here's your first look at a new "Toy Story" short dubbed "Hawaiian Vacation" that will be attached to "Cars 2" later this year. So I'm guessing the only reason to see "Cars 2" now is to see this short, huh?

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I think that should be enough for this week. I wrote too much in the "What I've Been Watching" section that I gave up on the "Tidbits of Film News" section. Then again, it is just tidbits so I didn't have to post a lot, I guess. Maybe I'm just getting lazier?

Anyways, that's all this week. Nothing to take the blog post out this week so we'll just leave it there. AS OF THIS POST, THE ACADEMY AWARDS AND UNI WILL BEGIN IN TWO DAYS!
End post.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Down and Out

Hello.

Today's blog post will be shorter than usual. Why?

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This week heralded the arrival of one of the most anticipated video games in recent memory - "Marvel vs Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds". It's been ten years since "Marvel vs Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes" came out which, as you may imagine, is a pretty big deal if it's taken so long to revive the series with a new sequel. And as you may also imagine, I've been playing it like crazy. So much so that I've neglected to even watch any films this week.

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Anyone that follows my Tumblr MIGHT have seen me say that this week would be Faye Dunaway week, but I only ended up watching "Bonnie and Clyde" instead. I didn't think one film would feel adequate this week so "Bonnie and Clyde" as well as, "Network" and "Chinatown" will be up next week once I get around to the latter two.

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Other than my life being consumed once again by video games (sad, sad, sad), this Melbourne weather has been awfully humid again. Ugh, go away ugly humidity.
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TIDBITS OF FILM NEWS



The new Spider-Man movie officially has a title: "The Amazing Spider-Man". Along with this announcement, Sony released a new publicity picture of Andrew Garfield with the actual suit - mask and all. My thoughts? Impressive. Most impressive.

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Shane Black, writer of "Lethal Weapon" and writer/director of the brilliant, "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" has officially signed on to direct "Iron Man 3". Why is this worth mentioning? Because Black directed Robert Downey Jr in "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" and is a major attribute in Downey Jr's comeback into stardom. Not only that but his script for "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" was what gave Downey Jr that Tony Stark comedic edge which naturally translates perfectly into "Iron Man". BUT, will Shane Black actually write the script? No one knows but as far as I'm concerned, this news is perfect.

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And to round up the comic book movie news this week, the second "Thor" trailer released. I see more Kat Dennings, woo. Pretty excited about this year's round of comic book films.



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2011 will be the year that movie sequels (in Hollywood) dominate. 27 movie sequels are scheduled to release this year which breaks the previous record held by 2003 which saw 24 sequels released in that year. Full list of sequels from Hollywood HERE.
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And that's all this week. The Oscars are just a week away and I am getting extremely excited about this year's race to the Oscars. "The King's Speech" looks like it'll sweep the awards because it just stinks of Oscar bait (the movie itself does not stink at all) but I'm really pulling in for "The Social Network" to take home best picture. Realistically though, it'll probably be TKS for Best Picture and Best Actor and TSN for Best Director and Best Adapted screenplay. Exciting!

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Anyways, here's a proper ending to finish off this week's post. James Earl Jones, who voiced Darth Vader, was recently asked to read the lyrics of Justin Beiber's song, "Baby". Someone on YouTube took the audio of this, altered it to make it sound more like Darth Vader and overlayed that with Star Wars footage. The result is absolutely priceless. Just watch.



End post.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

If I Rise

OH HAI READERS!
This post was brought to you by free-spirited dancing from Rose Byrne. I could watch her dance all day.

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OMFG ALL THIS WAITING IS KILLING ME!

My university doesn't seem to have updated my timetables at all yet and I have no idea when I'm supposed to be picking my tutorial/workshop times for each subject. Not only that but I don't even know if I'm supposed to return to Uni on the first day cause there's no indication as to whether or not I even have a lecture that day. Frustrating stuff, I tell ya. I should give them a call and voice my concerns some time this week.

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Well other than that, there hasn't really been much going on this week. I went to see a few films, and bought a new DVD too - "The Goddess of 1967". I'd provide a picture but I'm lazy and can't be bothered taking one and uploading it. As always, thoughts of the film can be found below.

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I also ordered a new spiral lip ring on eBay cause my old one was missing a spike (I guess I didn't tightly wound the spike to the stud and lost it somewhere). I've been without a proper lip ring for a while now and lately I just felt like wearing it again (I've been wearing an invisible plastic stud for all this time). The first time I bought my spiral, it was about $40 which was ridiculous and insane but I was gullible enough to buy it. eBay had it priced at around $5 which sounds more right but considering that it came from Hong Kong, I'm not so sure if it'll hold up as well. Oh well. Here's hoping it's not as lousy as I imagine it to be.
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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING

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This year's frontrunner at the Academy Awards is "The King's Speech", a film that has 12 Academy Award nominations to it's name. The film stars Colin Firth as a King George VI who suffers from a terrible stammer. His wife, Queen Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), enlists the help of an Australian speech therapist and stage actor, Lionel Logue (Geoffery Rush), to help overcome the stammer in time for a rousing speech needed to boost the morale of Britain who are in the face of a new world war. The film is masterfully directed and never misses a beat. Pacing is absolutely meticulous, enough humour is spread throughout the film to make it throughly entertaining and director Tom Hooper is able to extract terrific performances from his cast. Colin Firth lost his chance at an Academy Award last year for his fantastic performance in "A Single Man" but the Academy should do right by him and award him this year for his brilliant turn as the stammering king. And while I never really comment on set design, the sets that were built for this film look fantastic and add much more visual flare to a film that otherwise could've been quite plain and boring to look at. I wouldn't be surprised if "The King's Speech" sweeped up this year's Academy Awards because everything about the film is almost flawless. Perhaps the strongest asset the film has going for it are its sharply written characters. The friendship that Lionel and King George share in the film is genuinely heartfelt and emotionally resonant as is the love that Queen Elizabeth has for her husband. With a great script and fantastic direction, "The King's Speech" is a masterpiece for all the right reasons.


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Hear me out before you decide I've gone crazy - I was bored, I've had this film in my possession for a long time and decided I had nothing better to do so I decided to get it over and done with. OKAY! Now that we've got that cleared up. "He's Just Not That Into You" is romantic comedy that's apparently based on an actual self-help book (go figure). The film stars a set of Hollywood's most attractive men and women and in a film like this, it's a given that you'd have to have good looking actors and actresses. The film follows a bunch of good looking people living in Baltimore, all of whom struggle to read whatever signs the opposite sex may be sending them. One problem I had with the film were that most of these characters (save for Ginnifer Goodwin's character) weren't all that likable and somewhat one-dimensional. We've seen the archetypes for this type of film before and they're just as bland as their character descriptions. Actors Ben Affleck, Kevin Connolly and Drew Barrymore barely appear in the film and don't add much to the story but the biggest problem is trying to incorporate too many things. While I do like films that interlink different stories with one another ("Pulp Fiction", "Babel" and new favourite, "Dolls"), the film is too tangled up a lot of the time. Often convulted, "He's Just Not That Into You" is film that passes for fluff entertainment but nothing more. It's the type of film you'd see on a rainy night if you had nothing better to do.


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When people look back on Tom Hardy's career (which is sure to be one full of exciting promises), most people will look at his performance in "Bronson" as the one that really ignited his career. The film is about Britain's most notorious prisoner, Michael Peterson, better known by his alter ego of Charles Bronson (yes, named after the actor) and follows him on his exploits as he constantly finds himself fighting the guards and moving from prison to prison. Hardy's performance in this movie is electrifying - he completely gives himself to the character and it is terrifying. His portrayal of Bronson is menacing and I'm sure that Bronson himself would approve of it. Now while Hardy's performance is amazing, the film feels somewhat hollow. The film never really felt like it had any depth and there wasn't much to be gained from the film other than the performance we are witness to. The film wasn't long at all (clocks at about 90 minutes) and pacing was never an issue. Still, there seems to be something in "Bronson" that makes it feel hollow which is disappointing.



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With the critical and commercial success of "Black Swan", I decided to watch "Pi", Darren Aronofsky's debut feature film about a paranoid mathematician who tries desperately to find a set of numbers that will unlock the secrets of the universe. The film has Aronofsky's themes of control and power all over it and has that strong sense of illusion that was ever so present in his latest film. It's a stylish film that is definitely not catered for the masses. Whereas something like "Black Swan" may seem like it could cater to the masses (having been distributed in mainstream chain cinemas) "Pi" has an ultra-stylish "anti-Hollywood" style to it that can make it difficult for one to get accustomed with. The film itself is similar to Christopher Nolan's debut feature in that both are black and white features and feature a very original idea. It's nice to see that black and white features can still be made today and look as good as their colour counterparts because "Pi" does employ some nice looking black and white photography. A striking and original film, "Pi" is important as a film that has gone on to define the work of Aronofsky.



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I seldom watch arthouse films, let alone arthouse films from Australia. And while the comforting presence of Rose Byrne was enough to put me at ease, I still watched this film with some trepidation. There's something about arthouse films that make me feel reluctant to watch them (although the pay off can be good sometimes like me being exposed to the works of Wong Kar-wai)."The Goddess of 1967" is an Australian 2000 feature directed by Clara Law, that follows a Japanese man as travels down to Australia to pickup a car he bought online - the Citroen DS, 1967 model. Upon arriving to his seller's home, he finds out that his seller has killed himself and his wife and instead finds a young blind woman inhabiting the home. The film starts off oddly enough and it's hard to dip your toes into the film as the initial premise is admittedly a bit ludicrous. But sticking with it after a while and you have a pretty decent film that's, really, about two people trying to overcome their sordid pasts. The romance that develops between BJ (Rose Byrne) and JM (Rikiya Kurokawa) feels genuine and Rose Byrne is at her best in this film as she plays the strong willed yet emotionally distraught blind girl. This is her best performance on film to date. The film also is also absolutely gorgeous and has some stunning cinematography - the Australian outback has never looked so beautiful. However, despite Rose's outstanding performance (for which she was awarded Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival back in 2000) and the sumptuous cinematography, the film does tend to fall behind in terms of pacing and the various flashback sequences feel randomly placed and slow the pacing of the film down. While moments in the film will seem outrageous and implausible, "The Goddess of 1967" is otherwise a fairly decent film that's still nice and pretty to look at.



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One of this year's Best Picture contenders is Danny Boyle's ("Trainspotting", "Slumdog Millionaire") latest offering, "127 Hours". Based on the true story of outdoor adventurer Aron Ralston, the film recounts Ralston's struggle as he desperately tries to survive while his arm is stuck between a rock. James Franco, who carried this film mostly on his own, turns in a powerful performance and is able to give us some relief from his stress inducing situation by mixing in some charm to the role. It's essential that he does this as it reminds us that he is human and that, despite his predicament, when can relate to the character on an emotional level. The film looks great as well - often times it even looks like a documentary (which as a biographical movie, would seem more than appropriate). Boyle makes great use of digital film, a medium in which filmmakers are slowly making the move to (of course, there are always those who are purists and shoot exclusively with 35mm film) and gives the film a neat visual touch. The film will move you, it's emotionally harrowing and is a movie that really makes one reassess their life, see the importance of it and see the importance in the connections with people we have. "127 Hours" is a great movie about the human condition, the importance of human contact and our capacity to endure and survive. It's poignant, moving and very human. The ending damn near had me tearing and was very powerful.

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TIDBITS OF FILM NEWS

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Glorious trailers all thanks to the Superbowl! Here are three of the big draw Superbowl TV Spots that were aired during the game. The first is from "Captain America: The First Avenger" which actually looks pretty good. I can't wait for the full trailer for this.



And as an added bonus, here's the same trailer that's slightly edited to fit part of the "Team America" theme song. It works so well. SO WELL.



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Second comes from J.J Abrams' new film, "Super 8". The film is about a bunch of youngsters who decide to shoot a zombie movie with a Super 8 camera but things go wrong when a truck and a train collide and emerging from the wreckage of it all is something inhuman. So it's basically a big monster movie, I'm guessing.



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And thirdly is the "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" trailer. The third film looks insanely action-packed (expect that from someone like Michael Bay, of course) and I'm really hoping this to be at least as entertaining as the first one and not garbage like the second one.



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This next trailer, not featured in the Superbowl this year, came out earlier this week and gives us our first look at "X-Men: First Class". The superhero film boasts an impressive cast of actors such as Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Kevin Bacon, January Jones, Rose Byrne and Nicholas Hoult. The trailer looks to provide what could be a promising film but at the moment I'm feeling a little indifferent about it. It just looks okay to me, is all.


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Cobie Smulders of "How I Met Your Mother" fame will most likely be joining the stacked "Avengers" cast as Maria Hill. In the comics, Hill is an agent that works for S.H.I.E.L.D, the fictional organisation that assembles the Avengers team. Hill has had pretty big part in the comics so it's a rather big deal for someone to take on her role. I'm okay with her being Maria Hill, at least it's giving her something to do outside of HIMYM.

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When news broke out that actor Irrfan Khan was cast in the new "Spider-man" reboot (currently shooting), everyone assumed he'd be playing Proto-Goblin. That was not the case as Khan has stated that he had no intention of ever wearing a mask or costume if he were to do the film. So I guess it's just The Lizard now which is good because two villains would have been pretty infuriating.
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And that's all this week!
I found this below animated GIF to be extremely funny though it might not be as awesome to some of you guys. FOREVER ALONE!



End post.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Dance In The Dark

OH HAI GUYS!


I don't remember much of this week (as per usual), but I do remember that what happened last night was extremely enjoyable. The Nova had it's anniversary screening of the infamous film, "The Room". If you don't know what it is, it's basically a film so bad that it's good. While I have seen the film before, I had always wanted to watch it on the big screen with a bunch of other people who would mock it. But oh man, I can't begin to describe how much fun I had watching that film again with a bunch of loud people yelling obscenities at the film and throwing plastic spoons and plates at anything stupid that happened (which was basically throughout the entire film). Easily my favourite movie experience ever. I've never laughed so hard in a film as I did last night.

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Oh hey, two new additions to my DVD collection! Two weeks ago, I walked passed the Asian DVD section of JB Hi-Fi and the cover of "Dolls" really grabbed my attention which caused me to stop and see what the film was. After finding out that it was a film that Takeshi Kitano directed and reading what the film was about on the back, I decided to keep it on watch until I had the money to buy it. And now I have it! I like buying things based on the cover art. As for the first season of "Damages", my two reasons for purchasing it were my infatuation with Rose Byrne and because it was cheap. I could add a third reason which would be "always wanting to check it out", but who are we kidding here? It's mostly Rose's involvement that makes me want to watch it, lol.
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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING


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Directed by Takeshi Kitano, "Dolls" is a 2002 feature that is an artistic mediation on the power of love. Kitano, known both as a famous comedian (under the stage name of Beat Takeshi) and serious filmmaker in Japan, crafted a beautiful film that tells deeply affecting stories.

The first is of a man who abandons love for success and leaves his fiancee to marry his boss' daughter. After a failed suicide attempt - which makes his former fiancee lose her mind - he drops everything to be by her side. The two then begin to roam the country while tied together by a red cord. The second story concerns an aging yakuza boss who reminisces about a past girlfriend that he had to abandon. 30 years later, he decides to visit the park that the two of them used to meet at in hopes that she kept her promise and would still visit. The final story is of a pop star who becomes a complete recluse after a horrifying car accident disfigures her and it is up to one brave fan to prove his absolute love and devotion to her.

The stories are partially inspired by traditional Japanese bunraku puppet theatre and while I didn't know anything at all about this, it didn't deter my experience watching the film. It's an absolutely gorgeous film with stunning cinematography that leaves you enamored by what's displayed on the screen. Oftentimes I wonder where filmmakers even find these amazing locations to shoot. There's a real sense of poignancy and beauty in the film that many would consider to be completely the opposite to most of Kitano's work as a filmmaker. Nonetheless, the film is able to artistically capture the profound power that love has over people as well as being able to capture it's tragedies. Coupled with a subtle score from Joe Hisaishi and anchored by fantastic storytelling, "Dolls" a moving film that features stories and characters that resonates long after the credits roll. My new "In the Mood for Love", perhaps?


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Considered to be his most accessible movie, "Zatoichi", is Kitano's revisionist telling of one of Japan's famous fictional samurais. Much like a Western, the film follows a mysterious swordsman disguised as a masseur, who takes refuge in a town where the local yakuza gangs push the working class townspeople around for protection money. With the help of two geishas who both have their own agendas, Zatoichi, comes to the aid of the people to rid the town of the yakuza. Unlike his previous film, "Dolls", where colour and love were dominant, "Zatoichi" has a bit more of a monochromatic colour scheme and is violent. And while the film may be violent, it's obvious that stab wounds and blood in the film, are completely fake. Unfortuantely, this threw me off, and made it hard to take the film seriously. And while the film does rely a bit of a monochromatic outlook, I interpreted that as how Zatoichi's view of the world: black and white, good and evil. Kitano is enjoyable to watch as the good-natured blind swordsman and is convincing when being intimidating and jovial. The ending is a bit bizarre and what should have been a climactic battle to the end was quickly snatched away and feels like a bit of a letdown. That's not to say the film is bad in anyway, it's just disappointing, after having seen something like "Dolls". An entertaining feature at best.


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The Coen brothers' latest feature, "True Grit" stars Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld and tells the story of a fourteen year old girl who, after the murder of her father, seeks vengeance by employing the services of a U.S. Marshal to bring her father's killer to justice. The film looks amazing. "True Grit" features some great cinematography and features fantastic shots of the harsh American west that really gives the film a unique look and tone about it. It's not a gunslinging Western and that's where the film's strength lies in. It's a dialogue driven film that has an excellent script with very well rounded characters (expect no less from the Coen brothers) and features fantastic performances all around. Hailee Steinfeld is most impressive in her lead role as Mattie Ross and all the recognition she's been receiving for her performance in this film is more than well deserved. I'm surprised she didn't an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role instead of being relegated to Best Actress in a Supporting Role as the film revolves entirely around her. The rest of the cast is great although Jeff Bridges was a little hard to understand here and there. And all seriousness aside but I couldn't help but snicker and smile everytime Matt Damon spoke because he was basically doing his Matthew McConaughey impersonation. "True Grit" is a good film but not one that, I thought, needed to have 10 nominations, including best director, at the Academy Awards.


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TIDBITS OF FILM NEWS

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It seems that Warner Bros have found their new Superman in British actor Henry Cavill. Relatively unknown, Cavill is mostly known for his work on television series, "The Tudors". I find it so crazy that a few of today's superheroes who are of American origins are being brought to life by British actors (Andrew Garfield, Christian Bale).

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In other casting news, Joseph Gordon Levitt is currently in talks to join Christopher Nolan's third Batman film, "The Dark Knight Rises". The two previously worked together in last year's mammoth blockbuster, "Inception". JGL was previously rumoured to be linked to the project as The Riddler but Nolan has gone on record to say that The Riddler will not be included in The Dark Knight Rises. Let the speculation begin as to who JGL will bring to life on the big screen! My money's on Dick Grayson but not his alter ego of Robin. Could be wrong, but whatever.

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The first official trailer and poster for Judd Apatow produced comedy, "Bridesmaids" was released this week. Early test screenings of the film have said to have been quite positive with people saying that it's hilarious and that everyone, even guys, can enjoy it. While I am not completely convinced by the trailer, I assume that a red-band trailer will release sometime closer to release date that will sway my opinion of the film. Not that I need one to make me want to watch the film since two of it's stars are Rose Byrne and Jon Hamm.



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Vanity Fair released their cover photo for this year's Hollywood issue just in time for awards season. Interesting to see who they've selected to be on the cover here with mostly young, up and coming actors and actresses. I guess they really wanted to showcase the new generation of Hollywood (and Robert Duvall whose sadly alone in the background). Anyways, cover looks great and sexy people are being sexy. Why's Rashida Jones feeding a baby lion with milk? Oh who cares. Below there is also behind the scenes video of the video shoot.


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And finally, the first official trailer for Donnie Yen's new project, "The Lost Bladesman" was released and looks to be a pretty big epic. Expect Yen to kick ass of course. I just hope it's actually a good film though.

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So that's all for this week's post. I heard you guys like Spider-man. Here's him dancing (or something) in his new costume and looking like a real alien... Yeah, I don't know either.

gwenstasty:  I’m pretty sure he was limbering up but lolll internet

End post.