May 25, 2008

"MY WINNIPEG": Quirky Genius?

I stumbled upon this gem while surfing the net. Love a great small film? This could be it.


See the trailer here: IFC Films

May 24, 2008

“INDIANA JONES”: And The Last Review


I took Ryan to the midnight showing of the latest Indiana Jones movie this week. We attended the local show at Cinemagic 15 in Hooksett. Also in attendance was the local ABC affiliate and their morning news anchor and weatherman.
Anyway… I’ll start by saying this; I didn’t hate it. BUT… I didn’t love it either. I liked it. BUT… I want to make some changes, both in story and in editing choices.

Sly (and now crusty) archeologist super hero? Check! Fast talking, not quite ready for prime time sidekick? Check! Evil anti-American military villains bent on world domination? Check! Spunky, perky long lost love interest? Check! Fast paced, globe trotting, whip-cracking, fist-slamming action? Check! Character driven, emotionally resonant, meaningful story wrapped in pseudo-scientific mythological mystery? Um… Well… Sorta… no, not really.
This movie comes with all of the requisite Indiana Jones parts, but the chief mechanic (Mr. Spielberg) fails to assemble the perfect summer-blockbuster machine. There are moments when this film soars, and other times it flops about like a slowly dying fish.

As I told David at LAFilmcutter, I think the first half is just great! From the Paramount logo dissolve in the desert of Nevada, to the iconic airplane flight and red tracer maps is just terrific. And then… (sound of squealing tires) it takes a hard left into a nonsensical sci-fi mish-mash of uneven story telling. I sooo wanted this to be THE movie of the 2008 summer season. I love Indy. There are two movies from the 80’s that I site as the films that made me want to be a filmmaker: “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark”.
And this Indy is presented by the same great minds that brought us those great movies: Spielberg & Lucas. Along with Harrison Ford retuning as the fedora sportin’ college prof, and action-girl (now woman) Karen Allen, the gangs all here! But sonofagun it just doesn’t work! What should have been a reunion of passionate long lost loves, with a swelling John Williams score, and a happy lump in the throat is rushed and glossed over, reducing our happy couple to giddy, bickering teenagers. There are real moments between Indy and Marion but it just doesn’t seem to mean anything.

The look and feel of the film is just perfect. Spielberg’s use of film, the cinematography and the use of lighting that invoke a warm-fuzzy feeling of old-school movie making, make me wanna run out and buy a 16mm camera and go to work.
There are highlights a-plenty, and there are more reasons to see this movie then there are reasons not to. You’ll spot loads of Easter eggs - winks and nods - from all three prior Indy movies, to Chariots of the Gods to Han Solo, even The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles gets a shout out, I probably missed more then I spotted. Harrison Ford is rockin’ the bullwhip and realistically portraying a man of his age and Indy’s age. It’s great that he’s older, crustier but still kickin’ Russkie ass! The sorely under-used Cate Blanchett is beautiful and deadly, and delivers a performance that fully embraces the campy bad guy role that is a staple of the Indy franchise.

And to all you haters: I Like Shia LaBeouf! His character Mutt is a great anti-Indy by being a great young Indiana Jones. He’s smart, rebellious, has obvious father issues, he’s fast with his wits, fists and wise cracks. And in a very smart move, George, Steven and Harrison literally and figuratively keep him from donning the fedora. Should he be expected to carry the franchise into the future? Heck no! But we haven’t seen the last of him and being one of Mr. Spielberg’s new young faves, we’ll see more of them teaming up in the future.

One glaring goof is the total misuse of the Crystal Skulls. The real mystery and legend of the skulls is far more interesting then the sci-fi gobbledy gook that Lucas and screenwriter David Koepp come up with. [sigh]

As a summer, blockbuster, action movie I’ll give it a B
As the fourth film in a legendary, storied franchise? it's a C

Indy Links for you to check out:
IMDB
IndianaJones.com
TheRaider.net

May 22, 2008

“INDIANA JONES”: Summertime-Popcorn-Goodness


Doctor Jones is back and filling theater seats for another action-packed, tongue-in-cheek, adventure. While I won’t give anything away, I will say this: Too much George Lucas and not enough (any) Lawrence Kasdan.
Yes I thought it was a great summertime, popcorn, action flick. And it should make a ridiculous amount of money at the box office. BUT (ya knew there was one coming) I felt a little cheated when it was over.
Jaded fan of “Raiders”? Could be. Still wiping tears away at the end of “Last Crusade”? Maybe. I’ll collect my thoughts, touch base with LAFimcutter and see if I can’t put my finger on it.
I’ll have more later.

May 8, 2008

"TOUGHER IN ALASKA": Tonight!


Tune in to the History channel tonight to see the premiere episode of the show I've been working on: "Tougher in Alaska".
Tonight's episode is "Gold Mining", which got a pretty darn good B+ from Entertainment Weekly magazine.
This is the only episode of the series where my name does not appear in the credits (bummer), I never actually got to work on this one. But starting with next week's "Salmon Fishing" you can play spot the credit during the final 20 seconds of the show. That's right 20 whole seconds to spot my name as the credits fly by!

OK check your local listings for time and channel. But here are the stats: 10-11PM EST, on History, rated TV-PG, runs 60 minutes.

Oh, and yes, I realize that it is up against "LOST" so it's ok if you DVR/TIVO/VCR my show and then watch it on Friday!

Check out HISTORY.COM

May 3, 2008

“IRON MAN”: Rock and Roll Machine


Marvel Studios has a genuine hit on its hands. Ryan and I went to see “Iron Man” at the Thursday night preview show
(Cinemagic 15, Hooksett), and it was awesome!

As I gushed to David (LAFilmcutter), I was very impressed with Jon Favreau’s storytelling and directing. Mind you, I think “Elf” is brilliant but I had no idea how this would turn out. He has a wonderful talent for taking the audience right to the edge but not pushing them over. Scenes of violence, action, and romance that could have easily been ham-fisted by many - and you know who you are - directors are taken right to the moment that makes you cringe or say: “Yeah, seen that before,” but then reins it in, leaving your imagination to fill in the blanks, saying wow, and maintaining a brisk pace and a PG-13 rating. (Which is important in a film that’s just a little over two hours long!)

And what about Robert Downey, Jr.? That guy is Tony Stark! Again, everything pushed right to the edge without going over. Angst ridden, snarky humor, hard living womanizer, awakening hero within, the whole package is there. He plays the character straight up, no wink and nod to the audience, which pays off big. Thankfully the studio has him contracted for two more “Iron Man” movies.

There is no doubt that this is Marvel’s next big franchise. Right there with Spider-Man, leagues ahead of Fantastic Four and crushing puny wannabe’s like Hulk, Daredevil and Ghost Rider.

This movie delivers for fanboys and non-comic readers alike. Those of you in the know will love the comic references and ties to the regular Marvel U and the Ultimate’s. If you know nothing about those worlds, don’t worry, you are treated to an action filled movie, with sharp dialogue, first rate acting from and Oscar laden cast (literally), and foreshadowing of what’s ahead for the series.

THIS is why we love the big summer movies, why the blockbuster has become the savior of studios and executives everywhere and why little boys and girls grow up to be in the film and television business.

SPOILER ALERT: Psych! If you want some, e-mail me because there are some really great moments in this film and I’d love to get my geek on!

IRON LINKS:
Iron Man the Movie
IMDB