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Your Sunday Funny #17

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Other Sides to the Conversation: Week of July 29th

Friday, July 29, 2011

So... that Battleship trailer. How bout that?
...
Yeah, I got nothing.

Anyway, here are some things upon which you can click, which will take you to new things, upon which you can read.

Jess takes on Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Personally, I don't agree with her qualm about the epilogue, but her idea for it is one that would work just as well.

Aiden's review of Attack the Block is not only a solid piece of his usual witty madness, but it was also featured as the top quote on the new poster. My man's moving up in the world!

The Droid You're Looking For "summerizes" the summer movie season.

Cinematic Paradox looks at an oft-forgotten Peter Jackson flick, Heavenly Creatures.

Univarn considers what famous movie lines would be like in the modern age. Genius!

Ciao!

The Black Hole Presents: Top 5 Video Games That Could Make Awesome Movies Providing They Got Good Stories, Directors, Actors, and Things Like That

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Video games are sort of guilty pleasure for me. I do my best to talk about other, more interesting things with my friends, value other things above them, and would be perfectly happy if Xboxes and PS3s were outlawed tomorrow. But, what can I say? Sometimes, all I want to do is sit down on the couch and interact with some shit, whether with a deep, engaging RPG, or a chaotic and intense shooter.

As of the last few years, we've seen many a game given the cinematic treatment. Unfortunately, they all tend to suck harder than... something that sucks hard. So bad is the reputation of the "video-game movie", that many people will condemn a film just for being based on a game, and justifiably so.

But, it needn't be this way. The best director, most talented cast, and largest budget mean nothing if the property isn't sound, and don't get me wrong, there are tons of games that could very easily make good movies, if the people making them were smart about it. Don't believe me? Fine, here are five of them. Suck on this!


5. inFAMOUS: A massive explosion in downtown Empire City sets off a chaotic string of events, at the center of which is Cole McGrath, a bicycle courier who survives the blast and finds himself bestowed with awesome electrical superpowers. The game was an effective mix of open world, Assassin's Creed style exploration and third person shooting. The thing that set it apart from other games of its ilk was its moral choice system. At multiple points, the player is tasked with deciding to a hero, or be a villain. The hero decision helps others at your expense, while the villain option sends bountiful amounts of goodies your way, leaving nothing for the poor helpless civilians. While it would be impossible to bring the moral choice system into the movie, it could provide ample and provocative character development for the character of Cole. The action would be stylized and visceral, while Cole's agility and ease of movement could provide for some pretty spectacular acrobatics. 



4. Red Dead Redemption: 3:10 to Yuma and True Grit showed us that there's still a place for westerns in the movie houses, and Red Dead Redemption proves that westerns could be done brilliantly in games. The story follows John Marston, a former gang member tasked with capturing or killing his former "brothers in arms"at the behest of some shady Federal agents holding his wife and son hostage. One of the major themes of the game is how the Old West is dying, and modern day technology (such as trains, electricity, and telephones) is taking its place, which is certainly something that could be used to offer subtext in between all the horseback riding and gun fights. As is customary for a Rockstar game, the story is very well thought out and incredibly mature, building real and relatable characters in the midst of all the mayhem, while injecting some truly biting, satirical humor into the mix. But, if the movie should take anything away from the game, it's the look. Red Dead Redemption is a gorgeous game, so much so that it is arguably more fun to just ride your horse around and marvel at the landscape. If that's not something the movie should utilize, I don't know what it is.



3. Fallout: Set in the ruins of a post nuclear war world, the Fallout series paints a very real portrait of a violent and unforgiving environment, rife with intrigue, exploration, humor, and more mutant dogs than you could shake a laser rifle at. Fallout excelled at combining steampunk and futuristic, archaic with revolutionary. Even in the end game, it still trips you out to hear a classic 50s song from the radio as you're blasting super mutants with your souped up mini nuke launcher. The games always had deep stories that, while probably a little broad and meandering for a film, could provide ample material to craft a script. The violence should be sparse, but brutal, as it is in the game. The main draw should be the myriad of varied and deep characters that crop up throughout the story, from an incredibly obnoxious (and quite possibly invincible) store clerk, to an enigmatic man in sunglasses and fedora, to a mutant tree. No, seriously. A mutant tree.



2. Jak and Daxter: Many will probably not agree with me on this one. I don't care. Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy was the first game I fell in love, and the two sequels only deepened that love as the story got darker and more complex. The series runs the gambit of game types, from tricky platforming, to intense combat, to over the top racing, to one on one combat with larger than life bosses. The world that the games created was so original and vivid, from the bright, cheery forests and canyons of the first game, to the dirty and harsh streets of Haven City in the following games. The characters were all delightfully quirky, especially Daxter, the small, orange, wisecracking "ottsel". The stories, while initially straightforward, ended up dealing with such big things as divine entities, moral corruption, redemption, and dark, apocalyptic forces. This is a property ripe of picking. Just think of the sweeping fantasy that could be wrought from a game such as this.



1. Mass Effect: Easy. When you think about it, you can't fathom picking any other game than Mass Effect for the movie treatment. I mean, it's practically a movie already. Following the exploits of Commander Shepard, a human marine in a galaxy full of explorable worlds, different alien races, and myriads of choices to make, as he fights to stop a centuries old threat from returning from the fringes of dark space to wreak havoc on all civilization. Mass Effect really is an epic game. Right from the off, you have a whole galaxy to explore. You have tons of planets to discover. You have an untold amount of secrets to find. You have hundreds of battles to win. You have thousands of characters to interact with, and every single one of your choices effects how those interactions will play out. Everything that happens in Mass Effect, from the destruction of a factory, to the reconciliation of two lovers, has the potential to drastically alter the entire outcome of the game. The combat is fast and furious, as you and your squad zip around the field, using your "biotic" or "tech" powers to annihilate your foes. Now, tell me that wouldn't make an awesome movie. The big, sweeping scale of the game is perfect for a movie, as is the complex and engaging story. The characters are some of the best seen in any medium, all with varied and conflicted backstories. And don't even get me started on what they could do with the combat in the filmic circle. All I can say is that, it would be ethereal. Apparently, somebody else got the same idea as me, and a Mass Effect movie is already in the works. I really hope it doesn't suck, cuz that would suck. :)



Well, that's all for that. Questions?

Trailer Trash: In Time

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

It's time to root through some trailers. What sorts of wonderful things will be alluded to today?

Comic-Con brought us a lot of interesting of stuff, as per us'. One of the most enticing things to be revealed at this year's event was In Time, which boasts and interesting premise.

The plot seems to borrow from things like Logan's Run and... I don't know what else. Anyway, it seems very curious and action packed and it looks like Amanda Seyfried gets naked. And Cillian Murphy plays a bad guy. What's not to like.

It's a stylish trailer. The CGI of the film seems minimalistic at best, mixed in with more practical stuff. I'm excited. This one should prove to be intriguing.

Made in the U.S. of A.

Monday, July 25, 2011

And with that, the longest theatrical trailer of all time comes to an end. After two Iron Man flicks, a Hulk movie, and Thor, only one thing remained before Nick Fury's elusive team assembled. And now there's nothing left. Thankfully, Marvel goes out with a bang. Captain America: The First Avenger, while nowhere near a masterpiece, and certainly far from the best under the Marvel brand, is a much more superior film than you would initially believe. With a healthy amount of well crafted action, strong acting, and the smartest use of Avengers promotion yet, Captain America offers a solid and more than sufficiently entertaining bout of comic book mayhem. It's smarter than it needed to be, and more stylish than was required.

Mission Accomplished! Where's my apple pie?

It's World War II, so you know the sides already. There's the Allies, and there's the Nazis. Well, sort of. Since this is Marvel, there's actually Hydra, a Nazi deep science division, and... some American faction that makes super soldiers. Anyway, into this American program comes Steve Rogers, a thin, sickly man who possesses almost stupid levels of bravery and compassion. He is, in every sense except physical, a perfect man, and it is for this that he is chosen as the first to undergo a procedure that turns men into gods. An act of sabotage makes Rogers the sole super soldier in the group. But, since he's the most righteous man this side of King Arthur, he doesn't let this get to him, dons a shield, and takes the fight to Hydra, who, led by the evil with a capital E Red Skull, have risen up as a major threat to global security.

Captain America's story is refreshing because, and I mean this as a compliment, of its simplicity. There are good guys and bad guys, and that's it. Dear ol' Patriot Man doesn't have any demons or past transgressions of any kind. He's not snarky, he's not an asshole, and he's not a psychotic. He is just a good guy, while Red Skull is just a bad guy. He doesn't have any sort of sympathetic motivations. He's not trying to impress anyone or get revenge or anything like that. He is just a bad guy who wants nothing more than to conquer the world, just because he can. It doesn't hit you over the head with the patriotism, instead offering a pretty apt portrait of what it was like back then, complete USO shows, war bonds, and the like. The lack of irony is refreshing, and it's thanks in large part to that that the movie works so well. Indeed, the script is one of the best things about the whole thing.

Chris Evans. Who knew? Sure he's been ok in some things, good in others, awful in most, is awesome here, fully embodying Cap's almost comical levels of virtue and crafting a real character out of what amounts to no more than a template. He is, at times, hilarious, as when Cap is forced into degrading himself by becoming a USO poster boy, and, at others, badass, as when he takes on the equivalent of an army of Hydra commandos. He is front and center for the whole movie, and he owns the whole thing. it's the best work we've seen out of him yet, and it's because of him that the film works. Apart from the script, he's the best thing about it.

Other performers include Hugo Weaving, hamming it up behind a lot of CG as Red Skull, Tommy Lee Jones, über funny as Colonel Chester Phillips, and Stanley Tucci, adopting an absurd accent, as the genius behind the whole super soldier serum thingy. Haley Atwell shows up playing the love interest, and she does a bang up job, adding tons of snark and sass to the role. It's hard to take your eyes off her when she's on screen, although that may have more to do with the fact that, "HOLY SHIT, HALEY ATWELL IS GORGEOUS!"

Everyone, for the most part, excels, but the real star is Evans. He surprises as everyone's favorite American poster boy, and does the best work of his career in the process.

Captain America: Beating Guys to Death With the American Flag Since 1943

Director Joe Johnston hasn't amassed the greatest career of all time, having directed such hits as Jumanji, Jurassic Park III, and The Wolfman remake. Ick. He does a fine job here, adapting what is, quite possibly, the most famous and iconic of the Marvel superheroes to film. Captain America: The First Avenger is a perfect example of a movie adaptation of a comic book that isn't trying to be anything more than a movie adaptation of a comic book.

Yes, I know. Christopher Nolan's take on Batman is wonderful in so many different ways, but it's not really an adaptation of the comics. It's more Nolan's interpretation of that world, and not so much the stories. Same with the X-Men movies, excluding First Class. Those movies especially are examples of how not to make comic book adaptations, regardless of how good or bad they are. They are, quite simply, too ashamed of their comic book origins, and try to distance themselves from them as much as possible, hence the blu grey color palette for all the movies.


Captain America: The First Avenger is not ashamed of its comic book origins. In fact, it embraces them. This flick is colorful, chaotic, campy, and just a little over the top, but that's the way it should have been. The action is fun and fluid, with Cap bouncing from adversary to adversary, sending his shield flying all over the place in the process. Red Skull is a man, so evil, that the Nazis kicked him out. I'm not one to judge character, but you would have to be a pretty sinister mother fucker if the Nazis want nothing to do with you. Cap steals into a Hydra base, all by himself, and next thing you know, the entire base is blowing up around him. This is pure, comic book storytelling, brought to life in the filmic medium. A guy who is practically invincible, and can take down hundreds if not thousands of faceless henchmen who are led by a bad guy who is so malicious for no reason except that he just feels like being a dick? Sounds like a comic book to me.

There are things to gripe at. Some of the special effects are good, such as whatever wizardry was employed to make Chris Evans skinny, but some can be really hit or miss, such as... everything else. A lot of the stuff in the action, like when Cap rides a zipline onto a speeding train, or any of the multiple shots of him jumping off a structure as it explodes behind him, look really cartoony. Red Skull, for all his machinations and scenery chewing, is, surprisingly enough, underused. We see too much of Cap as a USO attraction, and not enough of Red Skull laying waste to civilization.

As to the Avengers promotion, it's there, though not as much as in the previous movies in the continuity, since pretty much everything that need to be explained (Nick Fury, S.H.I.E.L.D., The Cosmic Cube, all the norse god stuff) was explained in the previous movies. So when Red Skull picks up a small, glowing box, you know what it is, and can just coast along without having to stop and ask what it all means. The post credits scene is there, and it follows the tradition of the other movies in the setting up the next film in the series. Iron Man 2 set up Thor, and Thor set up Captain America. The next film in the cannon is The Avengers, but rather than tease audiences with a secluded scene, what we are graced with is ten times cooler. Stay through the credits, and you get to see a trailer for The Avengers. Yup, you heard me. Your first look at footage of Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Cap, Hawkeye, Nick Fury, The Hellcarrier, Loki, Black Widow, and everything else is all there for you. Sweet!

Captain America: The First Avenger is perfectly suitable entertainment that goes above and beyond in some respects. Though it lacks the charm and wit of Iron Man, and the sheer spectacle of Thor, it's still a more than worthy addition into the Avengers universe. Some things drag it down, but it overcomes with a script that is totally fine with reveling in the comic books from which it's based, and a seriously strong lead performance by Chris Evans. This isn't one you absolutely must go out and see, but if you've been following this whole, comic book continuity brought to life on film, project, then you should probably give this one a look, if only to see how the last piece of the puzzle fits in. It's a fitting end to the build up, and I, for one, can't wait for the payoff.  The Avengers can't assemble soon enough. Bring it!



A Twisted Dust Web in the Galaxy IC 342

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Twisted Dust Web in the Galaxy IC 342 (7/20/11)
Looking like a spiders web swirled into a spiral, the galaxy IC 342 presents its delicate pattern of dust in this image from NASAs Spitzer Space Telescope. Seen in infrared light, the faint starlight gives way to the glowing bright patterns of dust found throughout the galaxys disk.

At a distance of about 10 million light-years, IC 342 is relatively close by galaxy standards, however our vantage point places it directly behind the disk of our own Milky Way. The intervening dust makes it difficult to see in visible light, but infrared light penetrates this veil easily. It belongs to the same group as its even more obscured galaxy neighbor, Maffei 2.




IC 342 – click for 960×806 image


More: here, here

Your Sunday Funny #16

Spanish Castle Magic: Ranking the Harry Potter Films

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Since Harry Potter is now nothing more than a beautiful memory, it's time to look back on the entire franchise. It was good run, with more ups than downs, billions of dollars in the bank, and countless imaginations captured. It's a series that defined a generation, and one that, I think, will be looked on twenty years from now with as much respect, admiration, and awe as Star Wars.
...
Ok, that's all well and good, but there's one thing prying on my mind. I know, for a fact, which Harry Potter film was the best, but where do the others rank? Which films lived up to the legacy of JK Rowling's rich, engrossing novels, and which one's squandered the material. Find out, after the jump.


8. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: There were a lot of factors working against this project from Day 1. It saw the introduction of the franchise's fourth director; it was based on the weakest of Rowling's books, and writer Steve Kloves was nowhere to be found. That being said, the final product was nowhere near up the level we expected of the franchise. Writer Michael Goldberg's script is plodding and lacks direction. David Yates does what he can, but it's not enough. Even the tense, wizard on wizard battle ending, so awesome in the book, is supremely underwhelming here.

7. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: The first of the franchise, so any flaws and all flaws can attributed to the fact that it was a new property, and director Christopher Columbus was just testing the waters. To that end, Sorcerer's Stone is almost to faithful to the book. Granted, it was the lightest and most tame of any in Rowling's series, but some transgressions from the source material would have been nice. The first in the series is too sweet, too innocent, and too, as Peter Travers describes it, candy-assed!

6. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: After two winners, this one kinda surprised me with it's weakness. It's still pretty good, all thing's considered. It just that Goblet of Fire was the point where people realized JK Rowling wasn't screwing around. A kid's story where said kids die suddenly and pure, sadistic evil is reborn is not something to be screwed with. The movie retained some of this, but not enough. Voldemort's rebirth, so scary and foreboding in the book, is only slightly tense in the film, and is only memorable thanks to Ralph Fiennes. But, the action is thrilling, and the special effects were the best the series had seen so far. Even the addition of the future Edward Cullen can't hurt it that much. Also, any movie that sees Johnny Greenwood playing a song about elves, trolls, and hippogriffs, is automatically sweet.

5. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: The stronger of Columbus' two additions to the series, Secrets boasts stronger acting, stronger effects, and stronger atmosphere. The cuddly feeling of the first film is gone, and the danger that defined the later films is starting to get hinted at. The addition of Kenneth Branagh as the narcissistic Gilderoy Lockhart was great and a welcome source of comic relief amongst all the student petrification. The film is still hurt by it's absurd reverence for the book, refusing to deviate from the source material at all, but, it's not as big of a problem this time around.

4. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: By now, the series had wrapped up in book form. We knew what was coming, so Kloves and Yates wisely turned Rowling's sixth book into more of a character study than any of the other films. Half-Blood Prince is all about solidifying the relationships of this universe before the storm of Deathly Hallows changes them forever. Hormones run rampant at Hogwarts, but it's not played for comedy. The main players turn in their best performances up until that point, and the sense of danger permeating the wizarding community is palpable. If anything hurts it, it's how badly it messed up Dumbledore's funeral. Such a beautiful scene in the book is reduced to nothing more than a cliched candle light vigil. Bull! Shit!

3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1: The fetch quest before the final boss is usually a pretty ho-hum affair, but Yates and Kloves make the journey layered and emotional. Radcliffe, Grint, and Watson have center stage, with no other major characters showing up for the majority of the movie, and they all do a fine job. The sense of scale is off the charts as the trio zip around the country, Death Eaters streak across the sky, and the world braces for the final battle. Quiet scenes, like a montage of the depressing, gray countryside as the backdrop for a foreboding radio broadcast, do a lot to add to the atmosphere, while what action there is is brutal and violent. A fitting prelude to the swan song.

2. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: The first director change of the series saw the production of it's strongest movie the longest time. Gone are the kiddy, safe tones of Columbus' films, and in there place, director Alfonso Cuarón incorporates a aesthetic touch that alludes to something truly sinister. The introduction of the dreaded Dementors is terrifying, and the great Gary Oldman steals the show as the elusive Sirius Black. This was the first movie to make severe departures from the source material, but it paid off here better than any of the other films.

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2: Ummm... You could just read my review, as it was posted less than a week ago, but, for old time's sake, I'll be brief. The finale was everything we hoped it would be and more. The only film of the series to fully capture the magic, feeling, and power of Rowling's story, Deathly Hallows: Part 2 leaves choked up and thrilled. Hogwarts is the field on which the final battle is fought, and what a battle it is! The spectacle was never more spectacular, the emotion never more emotional. Even the epilogue, so pathetic and trite in the book, is good. It's as good a final act as we would have gotten. As close to perfect as possible.

There you go. Despite the gripes I have with many of the Potter films, I still maintain that, as a whole, the project is one of the best to ever be produced. The ambition of the whole endeavor has never been, and probably never will be, matched. The legacy and effects that this franchise had on the film industry as a whole will be felt for years to come. I for one, look forward to the marathons.

Have gripes? Agree? Disagree? Well, don't be coy little sheep. Sound off. I like your comments.

In the meantime, masticate on this.

Trailer Trash: The Dark Knight Rises

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

It's time to root through some trailers. What sorts of wonderful things will be alluded to today?

It tells us nothing. A good majority of it is footage from the previous films. Most of the dialogue is Liam Neeson's badass line from Begins. 


BUT! I! DON'T! CARE!!

It's the first trailer for The Dark Knight Rises! And it shows just enough to get us excited, not the least of which is the tantalizing shot of Batman readying himself for a bout with Tom Hardy's Bane.

Gotham must fall for the Dark Knight to rise. Bring it on!

Trailer Trash: Contagion

Monday, July 18, 2011

It's time to root through some trailers. What sorts of wonderful things will be alluded to today?

Not much to say on this one. It dramatizes one of my biggest fears, with a kick ass cast. Hell yeah, I'm there!

Soundtrack on a Saturday (On a Sunday): $160 Million Chinese Man (From Ocean's Eleven)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

And be sure to play Cinematic Captions over at Man, I Love Films. I still have yet to see some of you take part. You know who you are, Simon!

Not With A Bang, But With A Sonic Boom

Saturday, July 16, 2011

So, the end is upon us. I honestly cannot think of another movie that has caused as much hysteria as this one. I cannot think of one film that caused all my friends to drop everything, dress up, and wait in line for midnight screenings except for this one. I cannot recall a single film that had the potential to mean more to me than this one. The bomb has been dropped. The final chord has been struck. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is upon us, and with it, the end of the story that a generation grew up with. And what an ending it is! Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is not only the best movie of this summer, it's the best movie of any summer that I can remember! It is a more satisfying conclusion than Return of the Jedi or Return of the King! It's better than Avatar! It's better than The Dark Knight! This is big, epic filmmaking at its most passionate, its most emotional, its most glorious! It's the finale you didn't even know you wanted. You will cry! You will cheer! And you will love EVERY! SINGLE! SECOND!!!


Three down. Four to go. The hunt continues for the final Horcruxes as Harry, Ron, and Hermione rush to put an end to Voldemort before he puts and end to them. To that end, they find themselves returning to the place where it all began; Hogwarts. By now Voldemort is wise to their plan, and thus begins the final battle for the wizarding world! As both factions meet in a head on collision, Harry must face his darkest demons and make the ultimate sacrifice if he can ever hope to defeat the evil that threatens to destroy everything he loves.

As I said in my Part 1 review, the decision to split the final book helped it that it left more than enough room to cover everything. Deathly Hallows was the richest and densest of JK Rowling's novels, and Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is the most satisfying of the movies. Everything is wrapped up as well as we could have hoped, and then some. Every loose plot thread that was left dangling when Order of the Phoenix ended, when Half-Blood Prince ended, is addressed, and what we are left with is a feeling of closure seldom found in any medium. It's a mark of how well this story has been told that a solitary moment that sees three characters standing on a bridge, hands clasped, speaks volumes more than any exposition of speech could.

Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint all grew up and matured with these films, showing greater range and talent with each installment. They swing for the fences here, and each deliver brilliance, Radcliffe especially. He always seemed out of his element in these films, but no longer. The scene before he confronts Voldemort in the forest, where the ghosts of his dead loved ones come to him to offer comfort is one of the most heartbreakingly sad moments I've seen and Radcliffe performs it like a champ. Watson and Grint do just as well, but for the first time, Radcliffe does better.

All the veteran British actors do their part; Ralph Fiennes is now one of the iconic screen villains, and Maggie Smith returns with flying colors; but it's Alan Rickman who steals the show out from everyone's noses. As Snape, Rickman was always excellent, but this is the installment where we finally see him for who he truly is, and Rickman absolutely owns it! He was one of the first people to ever know Snape's true motivations, and because of this his performances in the previous films are that much better because of the job he does here. His big scene features some of the most honest and emotional to come out of this series.


David Yates has made something marvelous here. He takes everything that was good about all the other films and combines them into one amazing package. Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is easily the best of the Harry Potter films, full to bursting with feeling, spectacle, atmosphere, and pathos. The script by Steve Kloves is quietly brilliant, finding the time in between the mayhem to show the effect the battle is having on the characters. Normally, seeing a couple stealing a kiss during a hectic display of fire and destruction is groan inducing at best. Not here though. Here, it feels absolutely real when Ginny and Harry lock lips or Ron and Hermione finally give in to their attraction to each other. You know and believe, as much as they do, that these could be their final moments together, and share in the love they have for each other as strongly as they do.

I say final moments because Yates has unleashed hell upon Hogwarts. The final battle, a good 60% of the whole movie, puts to shame anything in Transformers 3, Pirates of the Caribbean 4, or any of the over stuffed superhero movies that have come out this season. As chaotic as Lord of the Rings, but as beautiful as The Tree of Life, the scale and spectacle on display is something to behold and marvel at! Hogwarts, literally, comes crashing down, but it's not destruction for destruction's sake. The school was home to so many of these characters. They feel the hurt as the place is torn to pieces and are more than willing to die defending it. It's balls to the wall action, with real emotion as a groundwork. In other words: GOOD!!


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is a perfect finale to an astounding series. When all's said and done, you really have to applaud the ambition of the whole project. A series of films, spanning a decade, all with the same cast, where the main characters grow and mature with the people playing them.   It's a risk that paid off beautifully, and the finale is the best example of everything the series offered. It's an emotional and heartfelt ride that thrills and touches you, and when John William's epic score swells for last time in the final moments, you know that whatever you just experienced was something truly special. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is a great film, and even if you have never read the books, never seen the movies, or don't get the whole Harry Potter thing, you are doing yourself a disservice by not seeing it.

Well... that's it then, I guess. I'm never one to readily break down at something, but I find it hard not to, given the circumstances. No matter how I felt about the individual Potter books or films, the fact remains that one of the single biggest elements of my childhood has now bowed out of the picture. The books were among the first I remember my parents reading to me. They were among the first I read by myself. The movies were the first ones I ever anticipated in any regard. I remember getting up on July 21st, 2007 and waiting by the door until the Amazon delivery man rang the bell and handed me the final book, after which I locked myself in my room and didn't come out until I had finished it. And I felt largely the same then as I do now. I felt elated and devastated, euphoric and miserable. I grew up with Harry, Ron and Hermione; Dumbledore, Voldemort, and Snape; Lupin, Sirius, and Hagrid; Ginny, Fred, and George. I grew up at Hogwarts; on Privet Drive; at The Burrow. I learned Defense Against the Dark Arts and Potions with them, played Quidditch with them, fought Dementors and Death Eaters with them, suffered with them, loved with them! The world JK Rowling created all those many years ago on a napkin is as big a part of me as anything. And because of that, I know this. Harry Potter is, effectively, dead, but the magic is not. The magic will never die. I love you Harry, you and everything you gave me. You will be missed, but never forgotten.

ON A WHOLE NEW LEVEL!!!


It Arrives!

Friday, July 15, 2011

So I guess something pretty big is going down today. The apocalypse?
...
Yeah, probably.

Oh gods! What will I wear?

Something We've Been Missing

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I sometimes rue the time I was born and grew up in. Sure, the 70s and 80s sucked for various reasons, but they were awesome for various reasons as well. I'm not saying that the 90s and 00s were shit. Far from it, it's just that I'm disappointed that I missed out on some things. One of those things is getting to see the movies that came out in those years. No, not the macho action movies or the stupid romantic comedies. No, I'm talking about the awe inspiring, feats of magnificence created by the likes of Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and others. Films like Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, ET, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and others of the sort. However, just because I don't have the experience of seeing those films in theaters, I still have the nostalgia. And because of that, Super 8 works wonders for me. What director J.J. Abrams and producer Steven Spielberg have crafted is a film designed to make adults remember what the movies of their childhood were like and impart the same sense of awe on today's children. It accomplishes something few films these days do. It provides that pure, unadulterated escapism that the films it's paying homage to had, and leaves you with that childlike feeling of wonder that is rarely felt. It's magic!

You were these kids once...
Following the death of his mother, Joe Lamb busies himself with helping his friends make a zombie movie as a means of coping. Despite the fact that it causes problems for him and his father, he pursues the project with pure tunnel vision. One night, while filming at the train tracks, Joe and his friends witness a horrific train crash, which, unbeknownst to them, releases something vicious into the countryside surrounding their town. As the strange and frightening events begin to pile up, Joe and co are whisked on a wild and life threatening adventure to discover the nature of whatever it is that's happening.

There's a lot going on in Super 8, to be sure. It's a monster on the loose movie. It's a coming of age tale. It's a movie about coping with loss and learning to forgive. I initially thought of it as ET, if ET wanted to kill us, but it's a lot more than that. It's actually mostly a love story, between Joe and his friend Alice, set against a backdrop of Roswell tinged, Cold War era town life... that just happens to have a hostile alien tearing the place to pieces. But all these elements come together beautifully, forming a film that is at once very familiar and nostalgic, while at the same time unique and new.

This is a J.J. Abrams movie, and Mr. Abrams does two things well, crafting intense, exciting action sequences (more on that later) and bringing out real, emotional, character development from his actors no matter how ridiculous the circumstances. That holds true here; every actor present does a bang up job, from the newcomers who play the kids to the veteran character actors who play the adults.

The two standouts, in my mind, are Elle Fanning as Alice and Kyle Chandler as Joe's father Jackson. Elle, the stronger of the two Fannings, is a commanding presence on screen, and Chandler brings his usual commitment to a long overdue lead role. Everyone else shines, but they shine the brightest.

These kids too...

Though I initially cast aside J.J. Abrams for his seemingly overly sentimental touches to big action (Alias, Mission Impossible 3), Star Trek showed me what he could do with a mega budget flick, and how personal and character driven he could make it. Star Trek was never more accessible before he touched it, and now, he has successfully unboxed a long dead approach to filmmaking. Super 8 is a style of film that no one makes these days, a style that relies on the audience to project themselves on to the characters to share in their awe, rather than deafen them with explosions or bore them with exposition. It revels in the wonder it creates and the amazement it's characters feel.

Sure, filmmakers these days attempt to create jaw dropping spectacle, but all of them fail where Spielberg, and now Abrams, succeeded. Yes, Avatar was breathtaking and all that, but it was far too out of this world (literally) for the viewer to craft any tangible connection to it. That's what made Spielberg's movies so good. It took these fantastical ideas, these daring concepts, and put them in our towns, our homes, and layered it with real world views, mindsets, and culture. We didn't need to try and create that tangible connection because it was already there for us. And if Abrams does anything right, it's that. We are the kid who wants to make the movie. We are the kid who wants to get the girl. So many big budget movies these days rely on violence and pyrotechnics to get the job done, so much so that a movie like this almost feels restrained and subtle by comparison, and by that virtue that much more exciting. Super 8 is a rare breed.

It doesn't hurt that Abrams knows how to thrill as well. The elements of Spielberg classics like ET and Close Encounters are there, but Abrams also mixes in the best elements of Spielberg's thrillers and action movies. Initially, the monster is a phantom, seen just off screen or in quick flashes as it wreaks havoc, like in Jaws. Since kids are the main characters here, the film, like Jurassic Park, takes on the "children in peril" mentality, another Spielberg touch that seriously needs to come back. The finale is a hectic and tense gauntlet, populated by multiple elements and layers to consider, like an Indiana Jones action sequence.

And that train crash? God damn, that was good!

It's not perfect. The special effects used to create the creature could use some work; Abrams trademark lens flare thing hurts him where it helped him in Star Trek; and the film does, at a point, get a little bogged down with the military drama. But all those gripes are for naught, because when all's said and done and you're walking out of the theatre, you feel as if you were taken on a journey rather than simply told a story. Super 8 does what no film in the last decade has done, strip away the bullshit, sit the audience down and simply ask "What if?" It's a kind of film that hasn't been made in years, but it's a kind of film that absolutely needs to be made!

ON A WHOLE NEW LEVEL!!!

Trailer Trash: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It's time to root through some trailers. What sorts of wonderful things will be alluded to today?

The first BIG trailer to drop this summer season, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows seems to offer a ton of rollicking action and witty bantering. I'm just hard pressed to see how any of this will be different from the messy, if entertaining, original. 


This new one sees Holmes going globe trotting in a quest to bring down Professor Moriarty... and that's about it. 


The trailer looks cool; there are some sweet slo-mo shots at the end, and Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law don't seem to have lost any of the chemistry that made them so enjoyable in the last one. The addition of Noomi Rapace can't hurt, but, this trailer did too little for me. The movie looks fun, but I'm skeptical. 


Whatever though. It's not like I really care about this trailer. The only thing I'm focusing on right now, trailer wise, is getting my ass to Harry Potter so I can get my first taste of The Dark Knight Rises. I'm good at playing the waiting game. I've had lots of practice. 


Starved For Ideas...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

... and I had work at 6:00 this morning, so here's something Aiden showed me!

An Office Drone's Wet Dream

Monday, July 11, 2011

Be honest, you wish you could do this at some point in your life. Everyone, at least once, will have a job where their boss is an absolute turd! Luckily for me, I haven't yet. The one job that I've had has had the good fortune of being governed by a really chill dude, so if I make some incredibly broad generalization in the space of this review, have mercy. For all you cubicle zombies, you factory floor husks, and mail room lackeys, if you can't actually follow through with your fantasies, you can at least live vicariously through the characters of Horrible Bosses... well, at least you could, if they weren't so absurdly incompetent. The new comedy from Seth Gordon is a delightfully dark and witty piece of craziness, that is everything The Hangover: Part II wanted to be and more. Don't miss this one.

Such a tool!

Nick, Dale, and Kurt all have pretty good lives, with nice houses, healthy(ish) love lives, and decent, well paying jobs. Sounds purty cushy, but there's one catch. They all have the worst bosses possible. Nick's boss, Dave is a sadistic psychopath. Dale's boss, Julia is a tenacious sexual predator. Kurt's boss, Bobby, is a cokehead douchebag. Because of their bosses, each of these guy's lives are miserable. So, of course, they decide to the practical thing, and kill their bosses. Naturally, they find themselves in way over their heads and they have no idea what they are doing and... yeah.

The Hangover worked because it went so over the top with it's premise. The Hangover: Part II failed because it didn't go far enough. Horrible Bosses succeeds where The Hangover succeeded and Part II failed, in that it revels in the absurdities of the world being created and doesn't apologize for it at all. The comedy comes fast and furious, vulgar as hell, and consistently rib cracking!

Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis play Nick, Dale, and Kurt respectively. Bateman does his usual thing, playing the straight man of the group, but he's usually pretty consistent at that, and it holds true here. I'm not really familiar with Sudeikis, but he does a fine job playing the foul mouthed horndog of the trio. But the real shining spot is Charlie Day, so good on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, stealing the show as Dale, the "idiot" of the group. I say "idiot" gingerly, since the character isn't stupid per se; he just does some stupid shit! Day soars with this role, bringing a ton of extra energy and craziness to the table.

The main draw for most people though is gonna be the bosses in question, and rightfully so, as they provide some of the funniest moments in the thing. Kevin Spacey as the psychotic Dave was a bit of a let down for me, but that has more to do with the fact that we've seen Spacey in this kind of role multiple times before than the quality of the performance. Jennifer Aniston finally does something worth writing home about as the sex-crazed Julia, showing a side to her that we have never had the pleasure of witnessing. It doesn't hurt that she gets about as close to naked as she's probably ever going to get. And Colin Farrel, boy, COLIN FARREL!! He is so perfect as the coked out Bobby, doing weird things with his eyes and making everyone else feel uncomfortable. He is absolutely hysterical here, easily stealing every scene he's in.

Jamie Foxx, in a small role, is a righteous hoot as the guy's murder consultant, Dean "Motherfucker" Jones, and Ioan Gruffudd is hilarious in a five minute scene as a guy who does "wet work". Good performances all around, even if Day and Farrell run away with the whole thing.

"We're woefully ignorant, but we wouldn't have it any other way!

Director Seth Gordon has made a name for himself in the quirky documentary department, with such titles as The King of Kong and Freakanomics, but he shows a well developed confidence here with his first feature. He lets his actors ham it up and go nuts with the material: it's easy to tell that a lot of the dialogue was improvised, but everyone here is talented and smart enough to know when to hold back, and when to go insane, and Gordon is there, holding the reins the whole time.

When it comes to comedy, there hasn't been anything better this year, indeed, this decade. Horrible Bosses is easily the funniest movie since The Hangover that I've seen. It's the kind of thing you would have seen Chevy Chase or John Belushi in way back when, and the kind of thing you wished Will Ferrell and Steve Carrell still made. It's a comedy of the lowest class, but it strikes at something few comedies get at, and that is pure, unadulterated... uh... comedy. Horrible Bosses is funny! Really funny, and when most comedies rely on juvenile things such as poop jokes and kicks to the balls, it's nice to see a project that tackles something more mature and dangerous. This one is sure to stick out for a good while. Don't miss it. And absolutely don't take inspiration from it. I don't think these guys want your jail time on their consciences.




Your Sunday Funny #15

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Soundtrack on a Saturday: The 3:10 to Yuma (From 3:10 to Yuma)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Thomas A Clark – The Flag Club Edition


















Thomas A Clark
Edition for The Flag Club: On Blue & The Mountains Of Holland, 2011

Acid-free box with label containing

ON BLUE, flag in two colours, 150 x 225 cm
The Mountains Of Holland Base Camp, enamel plaque in two colours, 20 x 23 cm
ON BLUE, dvd, a film by Peter Foolen
The Mountains Of Holland, folded card, letterpress, 21 x 15 cm folded
Four Postcards, 15 x 10,5 cm
The Flag Club, publication, 8 pages, 15 x 21 cm
membershipcard, 5,5 x 8,5 cm folded

Published in June 2011 by The Flag Club in an edition of 20 copies and 5 copies AP
All items are numbered, enamel plaque and colophon signed and numbered
Initiative and organization by Rolf van Hulten and Peter Foolen
Produced by Peter Foolen Editions

Price € 350, incl. tax, excl. postage
a few copies still available



"Rose" of Galaxies

Friday, July 8, 2011

"Rose" of Galaxies (4/20/11)
The newly released Hubble image shows a large spiral galaxy, known as UGC 1810, with a disk that is distorted into a rose-like shape by the gravitational tidal pull of the companion galaxy below it, known as UGC 1813. A swath of blue jewel-like points across the top is the combined light from clusters of intensely bright and hot young blue stars. These massive stars glow fiercely in ultraviolet light.

The smaller, nearly edge-on companion shows distinct signs of intense star formation at its nucleus, perhaps triggered by the encounter with the companion galaxy.




Arp 273 – click for 987×1000 image


More: here, here, here, here, here, here, here

Other Sides To the Conversation: Week of July 8th

Haven't done one of these in awhile. Sorry about that. I don't want to make you think that I'm shutting myself off from you all. Far from it. I love you all from the bottom of my heart... or what could be considered my heart. I actually don't know what lies beneath my sternum. I think it's my heart, but I can't be sure...

Here's a furry. Haven't brought one of these out in ages. This is a moose!


Anyway, here are some things upon which you can click, which will lead you to new things, upon which you can read.

Hatter bemoans the summer season. Personally, I think this one's shaping up to be a whole hell of a lot better, but, who am I to argue with the LAMB's Best Blog winner. The man knows his shit!

Reel Insight takes on Kate Winslet. Where has she been since winner her Oscar? Just a question...

Mike wonders if and how the bad reviews will affect his viewing of his most anticipated movie of the year, Larry Crowne.

The Droid You're Looking For takes on Hobo With A Shotgun.

Tom and I differ pretty drastically on The Tree of Life. I love it to death, and he sort of hated it. Here's his review.

Also, don't forget to play Cinematic Captions over at Man, I Love Films. You have two more days.

Alright, peace.

Another Sign from the North Montana Plains


Trailer Trash: Flypaper

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Is Sebastian Gutierrez gonna have to sue a bitch?

Way back in the summer before my junior year of high school, I wrote up a quick scene where a group of guys try and come up with a plan to rob a bank. The only problem is that they are so absurdly incompetent in everything they do, that said planning proves rather difficult. I finished the scene, saved it to my computer, and there it sat for the better part of year. But then I took it out, decided to expand it, and ended up using it as my senior one act. What it turned into was a pretty luny piece about the aforementioned guys as they try and rob a bank to pay off their debts to crazy crime lord. The only problem is, someone else is robbing the bank at the same time. Comedy ensues.

I will now repeat my question. Is Sebastian Gutierrez gonna have to sue a bitch?
...
Not following me?
...
Just watch the trailer!

Esther Kokmeijer & Johan Nieuwenhuize – On Time, In Place



Maquettes – Furnished Space, London

Tuesday, July 5, 2011









MAQUETTES


by
Melanie Counsell
Dahan Shaw Architects
Dan Graham
Richard Healy
Alistair Owen
Damian Taylor
Estelle Thompson
Gary Woodley


Friday 15 July
6-9pm
Saturday 16 & Sunday 17 July
12-6pm
& by appointment


put together by Mohammed Qasim Ashfaq, Richard Bevan & Tamsin Clark


with special thanks to Lawrence Weiner & Kanye West


Furnished Space
8 Grove Lane
Flat C
SE5 8SY


Furnished Space is an occasional project space run by Tamsin Clark from her flat in Camberwell
 

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