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Sunday, 25 September 2011

A Thousand Hours

Howdy ya'll.

From what I can gather, this is what I got up to this week:

MONDAY - Left uni early to go see friends early in the city for parma night but turns out no one was having parma so I basically came into the city for nothing. Bought some comic books for my troubles.

TUESDAY - Didn't head into uni because I had already done my group presentation. So I don't think there was really any need to have to go in and see other people present.

WEDENSDAY - Had documentary class and began to watch bits and pieces of "Waltz with Bashir". Unfortunately we we're shown the ending of the film too which is disappointing to me because I really liked where the film was heading from what we we're shown.

THURSDAY - Bought some more comic books and had lunch with some friends. Everyone should go try "Sushi Burger" on Exhibition Street in the city. Best part is that the restaurant is actually run by Japanese people. Apologies for the lack of food porn photos. Also, "Modern Family" returned to the airwaves! Congratulations to the show also for picking up quite a few Emmy wins too.

FRIDAY - Was meant to have seen "Hobo With A Shotgun" at the Nova but found out the film was starting a lot later than we had anticipated (10:50PM) so my friend and I decided to just skip it and shoot the shit in the city. Also had a Subway roll for the second time ever in my life. You read right. And "Community" came back for its third season too! Quote of the episode goes to Troy: "You are the opposite of Batman!"

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This blog needs more photos, am I right? I shall endevour to try and do more of this (I feel like this is something that I've said way too many times in the past).
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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING

Also, I just woke up from a nap and feel too tired to continue writing about films I've seen this week because what usually happens is I try to put a lot of thought behind what I write and that takes up brainpower that I don't have right now. Just know that I saw "A Fistful of Dollars" and "For A Few Dollars More", two exceptionally fantastic Westerns starring Clint Eastwood and directed by Sergio Leone - one of the masters of the genre.




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TIDBITS OF FILM NEWS

The only things worth mentioning this week come in the form of movie trailers! Hip hip hooray!

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Drop everything you're doing and watch this trailer! A four minute trailer was released this week for David Fincher's adaptation of "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" and it is magnificent. Those Fincher visuals and that atmospheric Reznor score look set to do a whole number on audiences once again.



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Clint Eastwood's, "J. Edgar" biopic starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts and Judi Dench, got its first trailer this week and it doesn't disappoint. The trailer just sizzles with awards season prospects. Will DiCaprio finally get that Academy Award that's eluded him for so long?



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And one of my favourite films of the year, "Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey" finally gets an official full-length trailer. I'd emplore everyone to go see this documentary once it finds distribution in Australia. Such a heartwarming and inspiring film.


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And that's all from me this week. You guys stay cool and awesome.

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Saturday, 17 September 2011

Sometimes In The Fall

Hello friends.

Got up to a bit this week. Hung out with some friends in the city on Friday night. We were supposed to watch "Hobo With A Shotgun" at the Cinema Nova but I was running late so that didn't happen. Instead this happened:

Yep.

I also just got back from a mate's birthday just now. It was a pretty good day, good food, good friends - I would like to wish him a nice 19th birthday. I think the highlight of the day was playing Jenga with some slightly intoxicated friends. Seriously, it was like the most intense, nerve-wracking thing ever...

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But yeah, that was pretty much all I got up to this weekend. I like how I kinda just do short points for what I get up to during the week and then go into full blown walls of text with the other sections. Go me!

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Oh yeah, I'm super excited for all the new television shows that are going to be starting up again this week! "Community", "Boardwalk Empire", "How I Met Your Mother" and "Modern Family" - COME TO ME NOWWWWWW!
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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING


This week, I watched "Irma Vep" and "Suicide Club". Contrary to what I said just before, I won't go to deep into each of these for the following reasons: "Suicide Club" didn't do it for me that much and I mostly watched "Irma Vep" with the intention of studying Olivier Assayas, the film's director, instead of standing back and really just watching the film.

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  • As I just said, mostly just watched for studying Olivier Assayas for an essay I had to write this week.
  • But that wasn't to say that I didn't enjoy the movie.
  • Really enjoyed the documentary approach that was employed (long takes, hand held cameras - very cinema verite at some points) and felt it was necessary to convey a larger message about how the world sees French cinema and how French cinema sees itself against the world.
  • Maggie Cheung essentialy plays a version of herself with much enthusiasm - I especially love when she finds out that the costume designer is secretly in love with her because her reaction to it is just so genuine for the character.
  • Pretty good movie, if I do say so myself - enjoyable for the most part and not as pretentious as some might think (this is after all, a French arthouse film but that shouldn't take anything away from the quality of the film).


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  • "Suicide Circle" in some countries, "Suicide Club" in others in case you we're wondering.
  • Been meaning to see this for quite some time - very strong word of mouth from a lot of people that I know saying that it's a really messed up film.
  • Really got into it in the beginning but started falling apart as the film progresses.
  • The problem is that it stops and then starts again and then stops and starts once more which ultimately becomes quite repetitive.
  • Darkly funny - a lot of films that I've seen lately are just laced with large doses of black humour.
  • And with a movie that's all about portraying suicide as a "fad" - much like how Pokemon was once a huge fad - you'd have to observe it with some cynicism and humour.
  • If there was a message in the film, it was totally lost on me.
  • Didn't quite feel the affect of these suicides as much as I thought I would.
  • I can definitely see myself watching it again (it's not as bad as advertising and word of mouth would lead you to believe but don't watch it if you're not into death and blood) to try and understand it more - much like how I tried to understand "Battle Royale" more.
  • Right now though, it's just another film that didn't really leave that much of an indelliable mark on me.
  • However, and I've said this before, do watch Shion Sono's vastly superior, "Love Exposure". A goddamn epic in every sense of the word.

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TIDBITS OF FILM NEWS

Quick dotpoints today which you can follow up via the links provided if you're so inclined to read further:

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And finally here is a video that made me melt with "Star Wars" adoration this past week. Can Emma Stone get any more lovable? I would totally friend her, not even like want to have her, just friend her. Truth. Also Bill Hader's Tauntaun impression is the stuff of legends.



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Monday, 12 September 2011

Bright Neon Payphone

Hey everyone!

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LOOK WHAT CAME IN THE MAIL THE OTHER DAY!

Yep, so I'm just gonna be wearing this "Adventure Time" shirt like everywhere now. I'm probably gonna buy one more Adventure Time shirt just so that I don't have to over rely on it (although let's face it, I tend to over rely on certain choices of clothing over and over, hohoho).

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Also attended the Korean Film Festival this weekend and while I only got the chance to see one film (but desperately wanted to rewatch "Joint Security Area" on the big screen), the experience was pretty awesome! I had some Korean food with a friend before the film began cause it felt right, haha. Some pictures would be nice though. Oh and I was fortunate enough to score free passes to the film I saw (file that under perks of being an ACMI volunteer!).

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This week, I have a 700-word paper that I have to hand in about the works of one critic. I was going to write on the criticism of Roger Ebert, the definitive voice behind modern film criticism, but decided that I might venture through either Olivier Assayas or David Stratton. Although the only reason why I wanted to Olivier Assayas was so that I could write a bit about Maggie Cheung (swooooooon) but David Stratton's become a valid critic to write on since his work is all over ACMI right now (makes sense, right?). Assayas' critical pieces seem hard to find since his stuff is all in French and in the famous French film journal Cahiers du cinema. OH WELL! :|
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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING


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For America, Vietnam was a place that a lot of Americans, especially their politicans, wanted to forget about. It must have been embarrassing for America - the most powerful country in the world - to pull out of Vietnam after being defeated by the gureilla tactics of jungle people. It would take a few years after the war and details of the My Lai massacre to surface that Hollywood would respond to Vietnam and America's involvement with the country by rethinking and reapproaching it.

Francis Ford Coppola's, "Apocalypse Now" stands as one of the most important films in American cinema and while the film has been contextualised through the landscape of the Vietnam War, Coppola's adaptation of the novella "Heart of Darkness", is not a war film but simply an observation into the darkness that man possesses and the journey man takes to get there. By having contextualised the story through the Vietnam War, Coppola not only makes the film more relevant but also brilliantly uses the psychological insanity of warfare - especially in a drug induced war (all the soldiers did over there was get high off all kinds of psychadelic drugs) - as an allegory for man's descent into darkness. There's an etheral haze that bleeds across the film and it's this state of dreaminess that lends credence to the drug induced characteristics of the war and of its particpants. Much has been said about the legendary opening of "Apolcaypse Now" which I think one can write an entire essay about but I won't get into that cause there's YouTube to tell you all about it.

The thing that stood out for me at least was just how much this film was influenced by techniques commonly found in film noir. It's an interesting aspect about the film that I haven't seen many people talk about. Willard's narration, the use of shutter blinds in certain scenes, foggy smoke surroundings as well as the use of low-key lighting are all found in abundance in the film and I'm surprised that I haven't found many people take note of this.

There's so much more that I could get into about this legendary film but I'm scared it'd take up too much space and time. It's an absolutely fantastic film and, while I do have some qualms with the French villa sequence (I watched the Redux cut), there's no denying the veracity and power that "Apocalypse Now" is able to inspire. It's a visceral journey into the dark abyss of man - one that's brilliant achieved through staging war as hell and, surprisngly, using film noir techniques.



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Now the main reason why I watched "Apocalypse Now" was that I could watch "Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse". As a requirement for documentary class, I have to watch several docos and figured that I'd give this one a shot (but not until I saw the original film, of course). Well, as it turns out, this doco is just as good as the film it's based on. Much of the film is made up of archival footage and interviews that Coppola's wife, Eleanor, recorded while "Apocalypse Now" was shooting.

The documentary is incredibly fascinating and shows the mounting problems and stress that Coppola had to deal with in order to make "Apocalypse Now". The documentary outlines the history to turn the novella into a film (Orson Welles tried to adapt it but failed to get studios to agree to shooting it) and also documents the production history of "Apocalypse Now" (did you know at one point George Lucas was supposed to make this film?).

Directors seriously do have a hard job.
I mean if you think its just calling cut and action and telling people what to do, then you're gravely mistaken. Coppola had to deal with horrible weather in the Philippines, the Phillipines' army who had to keep taking helictopers away from the famous "Ride of the Valkries" scene to repel rebel militia in the area, THE ACTUAL THREAT OF MILITIA HARMING CAST AND CREW, the unreliability of Marlon Brando who wasn't going to show up for work and just take Coppola's money as well as dealing with a drunk Martin Sheen and a high Dennis Hopper.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this documentary - other than the insanity that was the production of this over-budgeted film - was just how how closely Coppola, the cast the crew slowly began to delve into their own places of darkness - how the talent behind the film began to mirror aspects of the actual film. Truly fascinating. I believe this documentary is required viewing for all aspiring and current working filmmakers who thinks that they've had some problems in their lifetime of work making films.

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Takashi Miike has had a highly prolific career squandering around in all manners of films ranging from dramas, yakuza films, horror films, action films and kids films. The man's very experienced in his craft. However, my only experience with Miike has only been with "Zatoichi", "Sukiyaki Western Django" and "Box" (his segment for "Three Extremes") so I can't really say much on the man. I will say however that with "13 Assassins", Miike is able to put together a fantastic samurai action picture full of awe and wonder. Truly an experience ONLY to be witnessed on the big screen of a cinema.

Admittedly, the beginning of the film is rather shaky - names and faces are thrown at you that you're almost disoriented with what's going on. The first half of the film paces itself quite slowly but it's obviously intentional as Miike wants to give ample time to develop some of his characters and make the audience want to root for these men. He also wants to have ample time to show off the heinous and despicable actions of the film's villain which forces the audience to vehemently hate the guy and understand just why these assassins would want to take up arms in a time of peace.

Now unlike the last few samurai pictures that I have seen, this one treats its samurai as fearless combatnants and expert strategists. There's no philosophical debate between assassin and target and these guys aren't fighting to protect the honour of a loved one - they're out for a "total massacre". And that's exactly what Miike delivers in the final hour of the film - a straight up, adrenaline-fuelled hour of action that just keeps topping itself and never faulters. This is the film that Teddy Chan's "Bodyguards and Assassins" should have been but wasn't. Where "Bodyguards and Assassins" had the action stop and start this was just unrelenting and kept the bar high the entire time. This film is pure bliss - an absolute spectacle. If you want a fun time at the cinema, make "13 Assassins" your choice of film to see.



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"The Man From Nowhere" was a major success in Korea last year and the film's only just reached Australian shores this year. Screening as part of the Korean Film Festival (for the first time ever in Melbourne!), "The Man From Nowhere" is like a cross between Tony Scott's "Man on Fire" and Kim Ji-woon's, "A Bittersweet Life". The film follows a mysterious pawnshop owner with a violent past who takes on a drug and organ trafficking mob in an attempt to rescue a little girl who is his only friend (thanks IMDB).
Now, South Korea... goddamn, your films are just off the hook. The film, while a little rocky to begin with, is unrelenting in telling a hard hitting and violent tale. The film's got a lot of heart to it which is carried through by our leading man, Won Bin, and his relationship with the little girl in the movie. The bad guys are just pricks and you want them to get what's coming to them. Occasionally they do come off as somewhat "cheesy" villains, but you forgive this because the film does an amazing job of telling a very good story with characters you care about.

Won Bin - a guy who I hadn't heard about but is apparently quite popular with the ladies - delivers an outstanding performance in the film playing cool and mysterious to a tee. His heart's in the right place for the character and needless to say, I look forward to seeing more of this guy's work.

Action is well choreographed and well shot which makes me think that Hollywood can learn a thing or two from this.
Seriously, there's a knife fight in the film that doesn't use any music or background noise - just the noise of the knives swirling around and crashing into each other with occasional cuts to each person's point of view of the knife fight that adds so much mounting intensity to the scene. Some really amazing editing in that scene, really.

The violence in this film might be of concern for some people but it was good for me on all accounts (definitely not on the same level as Kim Ji-woon's "I Saw The Devil" though). There are some fantastic scenes in the film too, one particular shot which was mindblowingly cool which sees our hero jump through a window and land a few storeys below (did the camera man actually jump with him as he fell down cause that shot was amazing).

Dark and gritty, with nice doses of black humour (almost every Korean film I've seen has had strongly black humour) but hugely rewarding, "The Man From Nowhere" is another worthy addition to the pantheon of excellent Korean cinema.

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I'll spare you the film news this week because I'm lazy like that. I've been thinking about making two blogs - one for films and one just about me. I know I've posed this question before but people seem to like that I have everything on this one blog. Maybe I'll just change the format around somehow and actually begin to use the tags more. We'll see... Anyways, I'm off.

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Sunday, 4 September 2011

It's On

Hi everyone!

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Quick question: Should I watch "Apocalypse Now's" original cut or the newer Redux version? I really want to watch this movie but I have no idea which version I should because I hear talk that both films are radically different from each other. Anyone with some perspective on the matter should let me know either through the comments section below or through my Formspring or Tumblr. Cheers.

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Anyways, Manifest is long gone and everything's back to being insanely boring again. Boooooo. So boring that I had to skip out on a friend's birthday (an awesome 1950/1960's themed one at that!) to catch up on some homework. Lame, lame, lame. Speaking of catching up on homework, I also have a folio for one of my media subjects to catch up on too. Work, work, work. No more Starcraft 2, Hieu!

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Oh but that's gonna be hard to not ignore video games seeing as how some amazingly awesome games will be releasing in the next upcoming months. On my wish list right now are:

  • Batman: Arkham City
  • Uncharted 3: Drake's Fortune
  • Battlefield 3
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
  • Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3
  • ICO & Shadow of the Colossus Collection

And on top of that other things on my wish list also include:

  • Shiina Ringo/Tokyo Jihen CDs and DVDs (although this is an ongoing thing so it'll be a while before I can be satisfied with the amount of official products I have of hers)
  • "The Lord of the Rings: Extended Editions" on Blu-ray (because one does not simply walk into Mordor without having seen the extended journey on 1080p high definition)
  • "In the Mood for Love" - Criterion Collection DVD (because just look at the gorgeous cover art and the wealth of bonus content that someone like me will mentally fap over! Too bad I gotta double dip since I already have the AUS DVD)
  • ALL Pixar films on Blu-ray (okay, maybe not all... don't really need "Cars")
  • "Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance" on Blu-ray (cause Evangelion is the the bomb and I need to witness it again in HD)
So yeah, that's gonna be a lot of money down the drain right. Where's my job at?

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And look what I ordered this week!
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The awesomeness is going to just drip off of me once I wear this amazing piece of swag. Hopefully it comes sometime this week or next. :D
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WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING

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I was meant to have seen "Sunset Boulevard" last year since it was a film that was included on one of my subjects last year. The film follows a B-movie screenwriter working for a former silent movie star, now faded into obscurity, to write a new movie for her comeback. Much has been said about this classic and it truly stands as one of the best films of that time as well as being an important film for American/Hollywood cinema. The film itself is highly critical of the Hollywood dream factory and is one of the first of it's kind (although yes, there have been previous films critical of Hollywood such as "What Price Hollywood?" and "A Star Is Born") to have done so in a manner that was dark yet poignant. Gloria Swanson's turn as Norma Desmond is fantastic - adding healthy doses of comedy and drama to her tragic character. Her character is just over the top and some might be turned off by the exaggeration but I for one loved it. I really enjoyed "Sunset Boulevard" and agree that it's a film for the ages.

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This is a film that I've always wanted to see but after seeing it, I kinda felt like it was rather underwhelming. I also feel the need to read the book after watching the film itself. "The Maltese Falcon" is a noir film that sees Sam Spade, a private detective, take on a case that involves him with three eccentric criminals, a gorgeous liar, and their quest for the statuette. Unfortunately, the ending of the film was spoiled for me some time ago during a "Chinatown"/film noir lecture I attended at ACMI so that might be a factor as to why I felt the film was underwhelming. I also couldn't really follow the dialogue all that well because I felt like Bogart, as crazy cool as he is, delivered his lines a bit too quick. I missed quite a few tidbits here and there which, in the end, made me kinda lost with where the film was going at times. I may have to see it again but it didn't really do it for me as much as "Sunset Boulevard". But man, this is my Humphrey Bogart film and I'm so interested to see more of his work.

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TIDBITS OF FILM NEWS

Two big pieces of news that mattered to me this week!
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First off we have the announcement that Josh Brolin has been cast to play the protagonist in Spike Lee's remake of one of my personal favourite films ever, "Oldboy". I can't say that I'm upset with this decision mostly because I'm not well accustomed to the work of Josh Brolin (or Spike Lee for that matter). Although I will say that Brolin looks like he could do the Daesu role and from what I have seen of Brolin's work, I do think he'll be able to make the character his own and possibly bring the same level of intensity that Choi Min Sik brought. Now we just need to make Christian Bale the villain and everything will be awesome.

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The second big piece of news are the audio changes that George Lucas has added to the impending release of the Star Wars saga on Blu-ray. The clips can be found below and all I can say is, "Really George?" The change to Obi-Wan is so laughably bad that I can't express anything other than sheer disdain for it while the addition of "Nooooo!" to Darth Vader's redemption is not only cheesy but loses the impact of Vader's return to the light side of the Force. It's in that moment that you're unsure whether or not he will attack the Emperor and the emphatic "Noooo!" makes the scene less powerful and really destroys it. Ugh, just leave it alone George. Please.


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And one last thing for this section but here's a beautiful poster and brand new trailer for Sundance darling, "Martha Marcy May Marlene". I hope it gets a theatrical run in Australia, perhaps sometime early next year. I've heard so many good things about it and am sorely disappointed that I didn't catch it at MIFF this year. But seriously, that poster! I'm still flabbergasted as to how amazing it looks!

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And that's all for tonight's blog post. You guys totally want to see a Funny or Die video with Don Cheadle turning everyone into trees right? And you totally want to see Gillian Jacobs from "Community" and Disney Queen Brenda Song as planteers right? Of course you do. :D


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