Pixar, Dreamworks … : synchronized imagination

One wonders if, next to the departments Marketing and Human Resources, there are a number of offices marked “Industrial espionage” in the studios of Pixar, Dreamworks and other animation houses. It could be a coincidence, but they seem to do the same kind of movies at the same time:

Ants: A bug’s life (Pixar – 1998) | Antz (Dreamworks – 1998)
Monsters: Monsters Inc (Pixar – 2001) | Shrek (Dreamworks – 2001)
Oceans: Nemo (Pixar – 2003) | Shark’s tale (Dreamworks – 2004)
Wild animals: Madagascar (Dreamworks – 2005) | The Wild (Disney – 2006)

Hyperactive nut-focused squirl-ish creature:
Ice age
Ice Age II (Blue Sky – 2006)
Over the hedge
Over the hedge (Dreamworks – 2006)
Continue reading Pixar, Dreamworks … : synchronized imagination

Miami Vicious

I went to the “Miami Vice” opening yesterday. It was disappointing: unnecessary, unrealistic and generally unnerving.
Miami Vice
I had most problems with Colin Farrell as Sonny Crockett. He looked like a hillbilly with a mullet and a stuble that was beyond fashionable (Don Johnson shaved, at least). Jamie Foxx (as Ricardo Tubbs) was all muscle and almost no dialogue. Li Gong (the Chinese love interest of Sonny) only has 2 expressions (angry and tough), as does Naomi Harris (girlfriend of Tubbs) – oh no, she has a third: the expressionless I’m-in-a-coma look. The omission of Jan Hammer’s music is stupid, since it was only replaced with mediocre shit. The tone of the movie hesitates between boring and over-the-top. The lack of realism was not amusing, like it was in Kill Bill.

Some of the camera work was interesting, sometimes the lack of soundtrack was also interesting (if you’re into shot gun sounds), but overall it was a waste of time (a lot of people left the theatre during the movie). Other people might disagree, but I think the movie sucked. Michael killed one of his babies.

Mission Impossible III: largest digital release ever

Add one more superlative to Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible: III”: it is the largest digital release ever, playing on more than 170 digital cinema screens throughout North America. And all digital preparation and distribution to those screens was handled by Kodak Digital Cinema.
from http://www.dcinematoday.com/dc/pr.aspx?newsID=487

Mission Impossible III
(Digital cinema is obviously of much better quality than this pixelized image – this just says “digital”, doesn’t it?)

Continue reading Mission Impossible III: largest digital release ever

100 essential movies

Jim Emerson has listed the 100 movies (103 actually) one should have seen to form an opinion about film
grace kelly

(…) the movies you just kind of figure everybody ought to have seen in order to have any sort of informed discussion about movies. They’re the common cultural currency of our time, the basic cinematic texts that everyone should know, at minimum, to be somewhat “movie-literate.”
from rogerebert.suntimes.com

That is a brave thing to do, because movie buffs will never agree on what those 100 movies should be, so his effort is bound to get contested. Which is what I’m going to do now.

Looking at his choice, I would say the said Mr Emerson is English speaking and born before 1960. Look at the histogram:
Essential movies per decade

Quick stats
85% of the listed movies are English spoken (mostly American). 70% of the movies were made before 1970. The best decade was the fifties (20 movies – from Hitchcock, Kurosawa, Wilder, Kazan, Godard …), then the seventies (19 movies – from Coppola, Scorsese, De Palma, Altman) and third the sixties (18 movies – Fellini, Kubrick, Bergman, Lean, Nichols).
Continue reading 100 essential movies

“The shining”: Here’s Johnny again!

Robert Ryang has become a semi-celebrity movie-remixer overnight:

A few weeks back, he said, he entered a contest for editors assistants sponsored by the New York chapter of the Association of Independent Creative Editors. The challenge? Take any movie and cut a new trailer for it but in an entirely different genre. Only the sound and dialogue could be modified, not the visuals, he said.
Mr. Ryang chose The Shining, Stanley Kubricks 1980 horror film starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall. In his hands, it became a saccharine comedy(!) about a writer struggling to find his muse and a boy lonely for a father. Gilding the lily, he even set it against Solsbury Hill, the way-too-overused Peter Gabriel song heard in comedies billed as life-changing experiences, like last years In Good Company.
(on nytimes.com)

Check out the result on ps260.com (QuickTime – 10MB).

If the movie business is anything like the music business, Robert should now worry mostly about getting sued by the MPAA (Movie Producers Association of America), or whoever the copyright holder would happen to be. Unless he gets signed up quickly by one of the majors, in which case his legal costs are covered.

BTW: picture on the right was altered by me, to make Jack smile (sort of).

(via Andy Waio – also on The Reeler)

Digital filmmaking: cheaper movies

“Shooting on 35-mm film costs about a dollar a foot,” Bob Harvey, Panavision senior vice president of sales, told Wired News. “A thousand feet for a thousand dollars adds up to about 11 minutes of footage. But about an hour of footage on a Genesis 24P HD, for instance, costs under a hundred dollars.”
from Wired

Kwon estimated that shooting digitally shaved about $150K off the production’s up-front costs such as film stock, dailies, and film-to-tape transfer for off-line, non-linear editing.
from digitalmedia.oreilly.com

And then there’s this movie, shot with the same prosumer camcorder that I have, the Canon XL1s, and blown up to 35mm film from miniDV (720 x 480):
28 Days Later…
Budget: 9 million* Gross (USA): 43.5 million (8/24)
from oreillynet.com


Alexander: worst movie of 2005 yet

On paper it must have seemed a guaranteed winner:

  • Oliver Stone as director: not that active as of lately – true – but responsible for blockbusters like JFK, Wall Street, Platoon and Born on the 4th of July
  • a strong story of battle, success and leadership with a clear super-hero
  • Colin Farell (as Alexander): the Irish bloke who became the receptionists’ hero after hanging on the phone for over an hour in “Phone Booth
  • Angelina Jolie (as his mom, Olympias): the predator babe with the luscious lips and the excellent performing C-cup
  • Anthony Hopkins (as Ptolemy): any director’s first choice for playing an old man in a movie
  • Val Kilmer (as Philip, Alexander’s father): the pilot with the chewing gum in Top Gun
  • Rosario Dawson (as Alexander’s ravishing wife Roxane): who also played in “Kids” and surely has ‘grown’ in more than one sense of the word!
  • some B and C-list actors like Christopher Plummer and Jared Leto …

But the result is a disaster. What will you remember from the movie’s characters? Ptolemy was a boring old man, Olympias a manipulating bitch, Philip had only one eye, Roxane was a hot-blooded exotic beauty with a funny accent and Alexander was a heavy drinker and definitely queer. What images will you carry with you: Egypt looks silly, Babylon looks formidable, war is bloody, elephants are huge and queer men wear mascara.
Continue reading Alexander: worst movie of 2005 yet

Jennifer Grey in “Dirty Dancing”

Remember Dirty Dancing? I just saw it on TV and I had forgotten how hot Jennifer Grey looked. That is, if she was 18 when they recorded the movie, otherwise she’s just pretty.
They sure played “I had the time of my life” a lot for years after that. It even inspired the local girls to shake their hips in a seductive way (occasionally blushing), which is an effect that can only be applauded.
Patrick Swayze, however, stirrs up mixed emotions. He’s not a bad dancer, true, but he gives me the creeps. That strange face, the exaggerated muscles, the way he does his ‘cool walk’ down the aisle in the final dance scene. And somebody please stop him from singing!

So back to the important stuff. What did Jennifer do after that movie? Mostly TV, it appears. In 2000 she played in “Bounce” (a Ben Affleck/Gwyneth Paltrow vehicle) but I can’t recall her appearance there. Judging by the pictures, there’s a reason. Mrs Grey did not age too well. So I’ll leave you with the 1987 picture. When she had the time of her life.

Casablanca: here’s looking at you

Well there’s a reputation well earned: Casablanca is one of the best films I’ve seen recently. I know it’s been out for a while (it was released in 1942) but I only bought the DVD last weekend. Great cast (Bogart as cool as a three-star freezer), strong script (Bergman torn between the two loves of her life, and then some WWII thrown in), and superb dialogues.

Captain Renault : What in heaven’s name brought you to Casablanca?
Rick : My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.
Captain Renault : The waters? What waters? We’re in the desert.
Rick : I was misinformed.
Casablanca Memorable Quotes

aka heres lookin at ya

De Matriks: breng het on

In our series ‘Low Budget DIY movies’: the Belgian directors/actors Cédric Rossignol and Sam De Martelaere have made The Matrix: The Beginning: a prequel to the Matrix Trilogy. They wrote the script in2 days, shot the movie in 8 days, probably a couple of days post-production. The result is – all considered – amusing.
Some remarks:
don't mess with Ms Payne

  • soundtracks rule. Without music, this would have been amateuristic. With it, … never mind.
  • the dialogues are a splendid example of Flenglish, i.e. English with a heavy Flemish accent. (further examples: beuk.tk and lumberjack.be)
  • the ‘bullet time’ scenes are really well done.
  • the actors/directors/producers are all quite young (the lead actress is 15 yrs old?)
  • the fight choreographies are funny, certainly when Rossignol, the blond guy, who probably is not much into sports except the ones that involve a force-feedback controller, starts his Neo routine.
  • there’s a thin line between slow-motion and just moving slowly.

Visit their site: Cesam Productions

(via VolkomenK*t)

[Listening to: “Maceo The Macks – Soul Power 7” – Maceo – 100% Funk]