Sunday, April 28, 2013

District 9

When my friends told me we were going to watch District 9 I just assumed it was some spin off of the Hunger Games series.  It was of course a different and unique science fiction action packed film that I was shocked I had never seen.  Nominated for 4 academy awards, District 9 is the story about an alternate Earth where a ship full of alien invaders land in South Africa and disturb the people.  The story follows the Wikus a bureaucrat who is appointed by his father-in-law to monitor the aliens and head a project of relocation so they are further away from the main city of Johanasberg disturbing the public.  He is later infected by an alien virus and action and drama occurs.

The movie was directed by Neill Blomkamp and uses fictional stock footage, mocumentary, fake interviews, and other documentary/news like tactic to tell parts of the story.  It was a very interesting way of telling this story. One of the producers behind the film is Peter Jackson who is most famous for his work on the Lord of the Rings series and The Hobbit.  Although the movie was a success, it was a surprise since it had a very unknown cast and relatively modest budget.

What I found very interesting about the film was it's political undertones.  It often referenced and brought up the subject of gun control, government and leadership in the Africa's, as well as immigration.  I think the aliens in this movie were directly a symbol of illegal aliens within our country, as well as other countries.  It was a large debate in the movie about kicking the aliens out of Earth because they are clearly invading our space and territory.  However it was brought up later in the film that the aliens - although not the most helpful to humans - had their reasons to leave their home planet and could not go back.  This obviously brings up illegal immigrants traveling to other countries to escape persecution, and crime filled nations.

The movie was good and did lose to Biggalow's The Hurt Locker, but I wouldn't have given Distric 9 the Oscar anyway.  It was enjoyable but I don't think I would watch it again.  It was a unique way to tell such a different thought provoking story and it was effective but it was a bit boring for my taste and I did not end up liking the main character.  Although my friends really enjoyed the movie.  Maybe I'm just more of a rom-com kinda guy.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Summer Movies

Summer, a time for swimming, frolicking in the sun, and escaping the heat is a nice cool movie theater. Which I plan to do at least two times this year, by seeing "Now You See Me"(directed by Louis Leterrier) and "Star Trek: Into Darkness"(directed by J.J. Abrams).

"Now You See Me" which comes out May 31st, seems to be a sort of magician mixed with Robin Hood thriller. I love most thrillers, and who doesn't love Robin Hood? So I look forward to this one and hope the director isn't fond of shaky cam (which I hate).

"Star Trek: Into Darkness" (which comes out May 15th) is a must see for all Star Trek fans, therefor I will go see it ASAP.

Did you read the book?

During my senior year of high school, I cracked open a novel that never fails to inspire me.  Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathon Safran Foer follows the story of three people- Oskar Schell, Thomas Schell, and Oskar's Grandmother down a heart wrenching tale about tragedy and grief.

If you've ever read the novel, you know that the book is narrated by three people (the people listed above) and tells three separate tales that all intertwine through the common theme of loss.  It is beautifully narrated, and Foer does an exceptional job of telling the story very poetically.  He separates words on the pages so you don't simply read from left to right.  He uses multiple illustrations and even flip book animation to create a visual aspect of the story which greatly impacts the way the story is told.  Needless to say, when I heard there was a movie coming out, I was very excited to see how this visually stimulating novel would look on the big screen.

I've seen the movie a few times since it came out in theaters in January 2012.  I think it was very well done, aesthetically.  The film was directed by Stephen Daldry who definitely captured the abstract poetic narration that Foer creates in the novel.  It was shot on an Arri Alexa (which sadly costs over $80,000 -- so those beauties won't be available in PPECS anytime soon) with angenieux optimo lenses.  This camera and lens combo creates a very sharp image with a beautiful depth of field and bright colors.  The clip below portrays the poetic narration and aesthetically pleasing shots that I've been ranting about this entire time... The overlapping of narration helps accent the poetry, too.

May I add- this boy was PERFECTLY cast. they found him randomly on an episode of Jeopardy.  They wanted a talented actor with a high level of knowledge to portray a borderline-autistic 10-year-old.  Well cast, indeed. 

But, of course, as most will say- this film no where NEAR compares to the compelling story told in the novel.  Not saying that the movie was bad, but there are two other compelling story lines told through Thomas Schell and Oskar's Grandmother that are barely even mentioned in the film.  Part of what made the book so amazing were these two stories and how they intertwined with Oskar's.  I guess I'm not upset with how the narration was adapted, but what they left out in this film.  

I recommend reading the book and seeing this film respectively.  


So last night, Miracle was on, and as a huge sports and hockey fan, I decided I had to watch it for the first time. This movie is based on the true story of Herb Brooks and the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey team. Brooks takes the position as the Olympic head coach during a period of time when the Soviet Union dominated the world in hockey. He made most of the executive decisions and pushed his team to the limits for months in order to make sure they would be prepared for Lake Placid.

Three days prior to the start of the Olympics, the U.S. challenged the U.S.S.R. to a matchup in New York. The Russians demolished Brook's squad 10-3, squashing the Americans hopes of excelling in the games, especially against the Russians. They entered the Olympics and took on Sweden first, where they came back with just seconds left and tied up the game. After that matchup, they stepped up their game and moved up, beating team after team. Finally, they managed to meet the U.S.S.R. again in a meeting to go to the gold medal game. In a long fought battle, the U.S. defeated the Russians, 4-3, and moved on to the final match where they defeated Finland, 4-2, to win the gold medal.

I really enjoyed this movie, not just for the story of the miracle on ice, but for the way the final game is shot. Obviously, none of the actors were not also Olympic level hockey players, so they had to put a lot of attention to detail into shooting all three periods of the hockey game. They took a lot of shots from ice level, which added a new dimension to the film that I really enjoyed. They also had some great moments, for instance, when they dropped the puck for the face-off, the only sounds that you heard were the puck hitting the ice and the two sticks colliding.

Overall, this may not have been the best movie acting wise, but it greatly displayed the story of the 1980 Olympics and the miracle on ice.    

The Hangover ... Again

I recently watched the trailer for The Hangover Part 3 and all that I thought to myself was why are they doing this again. The first time I saw The Hangover, I was surprised at how funny it was. I went in thinking it was going to be a decently funny movie but it actually turned out to be hilarious. I liked the first Hangover so much that I was really excited for the second. As I was going to see the second Hangover, I had high hopes but those were quickly destroyed. The Hangover Part 2 was absolutely terrible. It was the exact same film as the original Hangover. What was once very funny was just stupid the second time around. The two films had the same exact plot line. You would think that Todd Phillips, the man behind The Hangover and Old School, would at least be able to make a movie with a different plot. One of the biggest problems with the second film was that there was no character development at all. "The Wolfpack" did not change at all from the first film and I'm not expecting them to change in the third.

The plot line for The Hangover Part 3 is supposed to be a different plot line from the first but I'm not getting my hopes up. I'm expecting that many of the jokes will be the same as the first two and I'm also expecting for the characters to not develop at all. The Hangover Part 3 comes to theaters Memorial Day Weekend but I think I'll wait till it's on DVD for me to see it.

It's bigger on the inside.

As I procrastinate doing work for finals I find myself catching up on shows that I am not up to date on. I found myself watching the new episodes of Doctor Who, and I hate to say it, but I am not impressed. After such a great start to the season with Asylum of the Daleks, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, A Town Called Mercy, The Power of Three, and The Angels Take Manhattan; this half of the season just seems so bland and uneventful.

I understand that they are trying to introduce a new companion and story to go with her, but the episodes just seem so slow and uneventful. They did it just fine with Amy Pond, so why are they messing it up so badly now?  The mid-season opener, The Bells of Saint John, did not compare at all to the start of the fifth season, The Eleventh Hour. I am actually upset because I had high hopes for Jenna-Louise Coleman as a companion, but it seems like this season is set to be the worst yet in my opinion. 
I really hope this season picks up soon, because I would hate to have this show killed for me. I would have to bury it between Heroes and Prison Break.

Pick up a Pencil!

Filmmaking is by nature a visual medium.  That means as filmmakers, we need to be able to accurately convey ideas in a visual manner.  And it is not as hard as some people make it out.  In an article called Don't Be Afraid of a Pencil, Caryn Vainio makes a compelling case that anyone is able to pick up a pencil and sketch out a basic visual idea.  And she makes sure to differentiate between drawing, which is accurately rendering a three dimensional shape, and sketching, which is just using basic shapes to convey an idea.  She makes a good case:

The only thing you have to know how to draw in order to sketch effectively for communication are basic shapes, like boxes, circles, and arrows. Can’t draw a sword or a house? That’s okay. You’ll probably still convey more information in your amateurish attempt than you would trying to explain something. Because when it comes to sketching, a picture really is worth a thousand words.
She goes on to explain how communicating visually instead of verbally or relying only on written words can make it easy for a group to have a unified idea that can be quickly communicated.  This is important in all fields, but especially one like filmmaking that is intrinsically visual.  So go out and play a game of pictionary-- It's good practice!

Training Day

Training Day

Denzel Washington has been a good guy for most of his career. His performance in Training Day, however, makes me wish he had always played bad, because when he's bad he's outstanding.

In Training Day, Washington's character, Detective Alonzo Harris, is a dirty narcotics cop who takes a rookie (Ethan Hawke) under his wing. Harris picks and chooses his collars; busting when he feels like it and rarely arresting anyone but the biggest dogs. Even then, there has to be a good reason for someone to go down. Harris smoothly moves in and out of various roles; training officer, openly dirty cop, high roller in the legal world. The key aspect to Harris' character is that he truly believes that he is a god. You see this when he calmly crosses the street without looking for oncoming traffic as cars screech to a halt to avoid crunching him, an evil grin on his face the entire time.

Hawke plays the rookie naturally. If Harris wants him to smoke PCP, he smokes it with a grin on his face, anger bubbling just beneath the surface. While Washington plays the dirty cop to the extreme, with great finesse, Hawke's character falls a bit flat due to the way he is written. His character is just too pat; he is always moral, always vaguely questioning Harris' behavior. It would have been better if he slipped just once. In a money "exchange" scene, when Harris offers him a quarter of a million dollars, he doesn't even appear to be mildly tempted. All good and all bad characters can be entertaining, and even Harris has moments of tenderness, where just a bit of his old self shines through.

Although the entire movie revolves around careful characterization, there is actually a plot that cleverly emerges near the end of the movie. It would spoil the movie to reveal it, but let's just say that all of Harris' activities with the rookie were never spontaneous. Harris engages in a game of chess, sliding his pieces into place for an ambush at the end. When the pieces fall into place the entire movie becomes more than just a chronicle of bad men doing bad things. He is fascinating to watch, and I caught myself thinking at one point… “He's stealing from drug dealers, murderers. Who cares?" You might wonder the same thing, and these moral questions add depth to the film.

Training Day is well directed, intelligently written, and keeps you hooked throughout the entire film.

Arrested Development Comeback!

This past week the first clip of the highly anticipated forth season of Arrested Development. The show went off the air in 2005 after poor ratings despite receiving high critical acclaim. The show follows around the Bluth family, a wealthy group of people who often engage in selfish behavior in order to fulfill their instant gratification. All the members of the original cast are returning which is an amazing thing when you consider how large it really is. Ron Howard is coming back as the show's narrator and it is being released exclusively on Netflix. I can't wait!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Natural

At the beginning of every baseball season I always have to watch my favorite baseball movie of all time, The Natural. Based upon the novel by Bernard Malamud, Robert Redford depicts Roy Hobbs one of the most famous athletes ever created by an author. The story of The Natural is epic, everything from his infamous bat (wonderboy), to him hitting the cover off of a baseball, and finally the final scene that sees Hobbs hit a home run into the light tower. Robert Redford couldn't be more perfect for the role, which is a major part of the reason why the movie was so successful.

Many people would say that the movie version of The Natural has a number of major errors. Mostly, these errors are due to Barry Levinson (the director) changing the story a bit to make the story better for a movie. The most glaring error of course is the final scene. Where in the novel, Hobbs strikes out when he has a chance to win the game. Letting himself and his teammates down after everything was going right for him. In the movie, the script is changed so that Hobbs actually hits a game winning home run instead.

Book junkies would argue that Hobbs hitting a home run completely takes away from the point of the novel. Things aren't supposed to work out for Roy Hobbs, and the rest of the novel doesn't make much sense if he succeeds in the end. Having said that, there isn't a kid that grew up loving baseball that doesn't love the movie version. Casting is such an important aspect of movie making, and every character in the novel was perfectly casted in the movie. Redford is Roy Hobbs, I think they are actually the same person. And Glenn Close is exactly how Iris is depicted in the novel as well.

Although Levinson did change some major events from the novel in his movie version, he accurately portrayed every single character. I think when you are making a movie out of a book that is what one of the hardest aspects. To make sure that all the characters are accurately shown like they are read in the novel. The Natural is definitely a great example of good casting.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Kubrick's Napoleon Script

Last class I brought up that Spielberg was developing a project about Napoleon Bonaparte that Kubrick wrote, so I decided to spill a little more information about the upcoming project since this class now revolves around all things Stanley Kubrick.

Spielberg plans to make a mini-series out of the script Kubrick wrote after he finished filming 2001: A Space Odyssey. The story of Kubricks most famous unfinished script is actually quite fascinating. Apparently, after Kubrick initially wrote the piece, he was quite dissatisfied with much of it (not surprisingly, since he's known for his perfectionism) but did include a list a list of production and budget notes. When Kubrick mentioned his plans to bring Napoleon to the screen to Anthony Burgess, the author of the adapted novel "A Clockwork Orange" , he suggested that Beethoven's third symphony would work well as a template for its structure and musical accompaniment. Kubrick agreed and asked him to turn that work into a novel so he could make it into a movie. When Burgess sent Kubrick the first half of the Napoleon Symphony manuscript, Kubrick turned down a reunited partnership, stating that the piece:  "had recorded the chronology of events to the detriment of the story, lacked realistic dialogue, and that Burgess’s comic vision of Napoleon fell short of his heroic stature.” Kubrick's script has since laid untouched until now.

Below is a link where you can actually read the full script, complete with production and budget notes:

The script, although wasn't deemed "ready" by Kubrick, is said to be very ambitious and full of potential, with maximum clarity and precise details that tell this complex story extremely well, all while keeping many of the same themes to Kubrick's famous style of film-making.

Although Kubrick won't be there to direct what is perhaps the last film to ever have his name on it, I have no doubt Spielberg will do it epic justice.

Pendulum Theory

An interesting theory of analyzing societal values and entertainment has come to my attention: Michael R. Drew's Pendulum Cycle. As a motivational speaker and entrepreneur, he set out to discover a means of trend forecasting to predict what society will want before they want it.

In a nutshell, the theory is that society swings, much like a Pendulum, between two states: Me and We. The me stage says "I'm okay, you're not okay", whereas the We stage says "I'm not okay, you're okay". For example, if one were to examine the 1950's (the last fulcrum of the last "We" social mindset), people were focused on conformity: the suits, the nuclear family, the white picket fence, etc. Then, in the 60's, the pendulum started swinging backwards to "Me", with the Beatles making fun of conformity and these major pop idols surfacing with their big hair and glam-rock diamond-encrusted vests.

It takes 40 years to go from one extreme to another, with the whole cycle spanning 80 years. As of 2003, we as a culture are re-entering the "we" mindset. This can explain the booming success of Vlogging on Youtube (where we do not idolize the content creators but view them as equals), the gritty reboots of movies (again, not idolizing but bringing them down to our level) and much more.

So what does this mean for the you? You can both predict how your product should be marketed and how you should present yourself in the future. Not to preach to the choir, but what's big now is viral videos. Obviously. Viral marketing and even (to an extent) alternate reality games are huge now. People look for the grainiest, most real video out there, and this is why videos like "Charlie Bit Me" are pulling in huge dollars. TV spots are primarily bland and set in casual locations like an office, and often times feature testimonies from consumers (who are portrayed as being "real"). For example, the Windows "I'm A PC" marketing campaign:

This is in direct contrast to the Ginsu Knife commercials of the 80s, that were all hyperactive and "ORDER NOW AND RECEIVE A FREE CUTTING BOARD!!! AHHH!!!" Comedian Kyle Cease put it best in saying that "Now, if we receive an email and it has an exclamation point, we assume it's spam".

We can use these thinking and predictive methodologies to effectively brand, market, and present media products and to satisfy the ever-changing wants of the consumers in society.

Friday, April 19, 2013

One More Shoot...

Next Saturday will be the last shoot of the season for Game Over. Which is going to be weird since a lot of the cast and crew will be graduating. But last weeks shoot (April 13) was pretty awesome. It was a specialty episode- GAME OVER: FEMINISM EDITION!

Four ladies (including myself) hosted the show and reviewed comic books, TV shows and video games that were empowering to women and feminist culture. I got to say, it was pretty fun being sassy about nerdy things... But I usually am so it wasn't that different of a day for me.

Next weeks episode will also be another specialty episode. Last year, our finale was a "Gameboy/Hot Tub Time Machine Episode". The hosts go back in time to the 80s to meet previous hosts and end up ruining their lives. This year, we'll be going back to the 90s and probably going to do the same thing but with other previous hosts. I guess Game Over really likes ruining lives...

Gameboy Time Machine (click this like to watch it!)


Generally when you hear somethings been verified by the acquaintance of a friend you're not exactly willing to believe that the information is true. In this case I was told that John Whedon's TV series "Firefly", was something worth taking a look at. I'm happy to say that once curiosity gnawed at me long enough and I finally watched an episode or two,  I found "Firefly" to actually be pretty interesting.

Basically it seems to be a space western series in the far future. The main plot revolves around the crew of the Firefly Class ship Serenity, their lives as smugglers on the edge of known space and how they interact with each other. There's also this odd mix of Eastern and Western Culture (using chop sticks, knives, and forks to eat, mixing of the English and Chinese languages, ect) that can be  really fascinating to anyone who likes to people watch.

 So far this series seems to be really interesting, but it did have some problems in the beginning. The opening scene to this series seems to be a battle, which doesn't really go anywhere. Another  downside is that it seems that this show was never really finished. "Firefly" first aired in September 2002 and was canceled in December of the same year after airing only eleven episodes out of fourteen.

Despite how short this series seems to be, I look forward to watching more of it.

Who done it?

I got home after a long say of work and decided to throw something on Netflix and enjoy a cold one. I chose the classic film based off the Parker Brother's board game, Clue. I really like this movie and think that as far as a movies based off games go, this one stands out as the best. There is an amalgam and plethora of crappy movies made from board and video games, but I think this one a lot it right. Many other movies based off games try to be dramatic, entertaining, and somehow relate to the initial game. Clue is a comedy above all else, a hilarious movie with a great cast, and a great plot to match.

Unlike a movie like Battleship, Doom, and other crummy films this movie doesn't force a love story or any kind of drama in your face. The characters have personality but not enough that required hours of exposition to introduce them. The jokes are top notch and the movie manages to stay very close to the board game. All of the weapons, rooms, and the mystery of the killers identity are present. But they are worked into the story well and don't feel too forced, much like in Battleship and Doom. Also the multiple endings is one of my favorite thing's ever. I wish so many other movies took after this and did multiple endings.

Since we do have a test...

Since we will be having a final exam, and it is on Stanley Kubrik, I figured using the blog to post some information about him would be a good idea. I do not know much about him as a person or a filmmaker, since I have only seen 2001: A Space Odyssey in my physics class back in high school, so this is helpful for me as well.

I know we mainly need to know about his films, but I figured it could be useful to know a little bit about him as well, so...

Stanley Kubrik born on July 26, 1928 in the Bronx, New York. While first working as a photographer in New York City, he taught himself all of the skills needed in order to produce and direct films. He did most of his work in the United Kingdom, where he took on the roles as a film director, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer, and editor. He very often participated in more than one of these positions for each film he worked on. 

In these positions, he is best noted for his attention to detail and his unique style. He covered a variety of topics including, romantic and black comedies, epic and science fiction, war, crime, and horror movies. Kubrik died in March of 1999 of a heart attack. He is still remembered as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, filmmaker of all time.

Kubrik is responsible for some of the most important films of all time. These include:
  1. A Clockwork Orange- A futuristic film based in Britain that follows Alex DeLarge. DeLarge is the leader of the "droogs," one of many gangs in the area. After committing multiple heinous acts, including multiple beatings and fighting a rival gang, he is betrayed by the droogs, arrested, and sentenced to 14 years of incarceration. DeLarge then volunteers to undergo therapy treatment to help stop crime, but it does not go as well as they planned. 
  2. Full Metal Jacket- Based in 1967, a group of Marines travels to Parris Island for training during the Vietnam War. After their training, they are set out into Vietnam to fight with the other Marines. There, they begin to see the horrible and unbelievable acts of war taking the lives of both the Vietnamese and the United States soldiers. 
  3. The Shining- This film centers around Jack, Wendy, and Danny Torrance travels to an isolated Overlook Hotel that is controlled by an evil spirit. The spirit takes over the father, Jack, making him violent and out of control. The son, Danny, who is psychic, also begins to see horrifying visions of the past and future, and the entire family enters into a period of chaos. 
Other notable films include 2001: The Space Odyssey, Dr. Strangelove, Eyes Wide Shut, and Spartacus. 


      Mimic is one of the more suspenseful movies I've seen in a while, even though the production value is not stupendous. The premise is simple: a genetically engineered insect mutates and evolves into something fearsome that poses a threat to all mankind.

      But there's no reason to be misled by the scientific background; Mimic turns into pure horror right after we witness the creation of the "Judas Breed", an insect that is a cross between a mantis and a termite containing designer genes. The Judas Breed is unleashed to destroy the carrier of a disease that threatens to wipe out all the children in New York City: the cockroach.

      The Judas halts the disease, and its creators, Susan Tyler (Mira Sorovino) and Peter Mann (Jeremy Northam), bask in their 15 minutes of fame. Three years later, these bugs, which were sterile and carried apoptosis genes that ensured they would die after fulfilling their mission, turn up again in New York's subways. Tyler and Mann, being the brave souls that they are, go down the subway system to track these bugs down, along with some help (read: bug din-din). This enables one to play guessing games as to who gets picked-off next by the terrifying insects, in a dark and claustrophobic setting.
What is not surprising, and perhaps indicative of the biggest hole in the plot, is that the creature manages to survive. What is surprising is that the creature mutates and evolves into a predator of man in such a short time.

      There are various sub-plots used to build-up suspense and horror as the movie progresses, before the final confrontation between Tyler and gang, and the Judas Breed, occurs. A particularly gruesome scene involves the killing of two bug bounty hunters by the Judas Breed: the details are masked in the movie, but our imagination fills in the gaps. The little boy (Alexander Goodwin) who is able to mimic the sound of the Judas Breed with spoons who he calls "Mr. funny shoes" provides an interesting touch. Most fascinating I found was the detail of the subway systems. The bugs are quite convincing, as are the actors.

       The main problem with Mimic is that while the build-up of suspense is effective, the ending is a bit of an anti-climax. Still, I think the movie is worth the matinee fare if getting scared appeals to you as a form of entertainment.

      I think you all would enjoy this film! try it out!

South Park - 6 Days To Air

Last week I watched a documentary about Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of the hit animated comedy series, South Park. The documentary was titled, "6 Days To Air" and It followed the South Park creators over the six days that it took them to create the season 15 premier episode for the show. The documentary took the viewer through the entire pre-production, production and post production process and explained just how an episode of South Park is created. I think the most interesting thing about the documentary was that Parker and Stone created an entire episode of South Park in just 6 Days! It usually takes similar shows, like Family Guy and The Simpsons, approximately 9 months to create a whole episode and they are doing it in less than a week.

Trey Parker and Matt Stone had just finished making their new Broadway musical, The Book of Mormon. I saw the musical over the summer by winning lottery tickets to the show. I won 475 dollar tickets for only 30 bucks, it was sweet! The Book of Mormon was without a doubt the funniest show that I have ever seen, better than any TV show or movie. The songs were incredible and the acting was great. It was hilarious and I highly recommend it to everyone. I also recommend trying to win the tickets through the lottery because they are very expensive.

After completing The Book of Mormon, Parker and Stone had to get back to focusing on South Park. The documentary took you into the writers room and showed the viewer how they came up with the ideas for the episode. The documentary also took the viewer through the storyboarding process, voice recording process, the animating process and the distribution process. I thought that it was incredibly how these guys could create an entire episode in under week. They worked day and night for that week but were able to pull it off.

The episode was called, "Humancentipad" and it made fun of Steve Jobs and Apple. I thought that it was one of the best South Park episodes of all time. This documentary was very interesting and I really liked how it took the viewer through the whole process of creating an episode of South Park.

Boardwalk Empire Season 2 Finale

Last night I re-watched one of the best season finale's I have ever seen, the season finale of season two of Boardwalk Empire. The show itself is one of the best on television. Combining great authenticity from the time period and a great story with great characters. The realism in the show is what makes it great to me. Many of the characters in the show are real people (although many are also made up) such as Al Capone and the main character Nucky Thompson. However what made the season finale so great was the shocking sequence at the end of the episode.

Jimmy Darmody was a World War One veteran returning to Atlantic City to work for his uncle, Nucky Thompson. Quickly Darmody started to neglect Nucky and work against him instead of with him, with the help from his dying father. By the end of the season two Nucky and Jimmy were enemies, and the two threatened to kill each other multiple times. It was Nucky who finally got the last laugh.

The entire episode it appeared that Nucky was the one that would be getting killed. As his life was threatened by more than just Jimmy. Instead it was Nucky that killed Jimmy. Killing off one of the shows main characters in shocking fashion. Other than Nucky Thompson, Jimmy was the biggest character in the show till his demise. Killing him off seemed to kill off one of the main story lines of the show as well. A very risky and shocking decision by the writer of the show (Terrence Winter).

Boardwalk Empire will begin its fourth season this summer. The third season was just as good as the second one, so losing Jimmy's character didn't really ruin the show at all.

Frames per second

As the end of the semester nears, I start to reflect back on everything we learned in Fiction Field 1.  I have to say, I was glad to finally know what "shutter speed", "ISO" and "frames per second" meant, as we didn't really learn all of those terms in Intro to Field.  I also gave me a great new respect for this new YouTube channel I found.

They call themselves "The Slow Mo Guys".  And they very well deserve it too.  They film some pretty cool stuff at insane number of frames per second.  Wanna see?

It amazes me.  One thing we learned in Fiction Field though is the higher the FPS, the less light comes through the camera.  So shooting at such high FPS must cause some type of lighting issues for these guys.  I would love to see the camera they shoot these on.

I spent hours watching these videos, it's awesome how things look in slow motion.  They don't even look real.

Boys of 213

I will be taking a break from writing about the usual juicy drama's that catch my eye on television and focus on a show that's a little more close to home.  Over the past semester I have been hard at work producing my very own ICTV show: Boys of 213.  Even though filming only began January 29th 2013 the show has been in the works since over a year ago.  (March 2012 to be specific) and has literally been my baby over the past year.

My co-producer and I were driving back from Connecticut to Ithaca, when we started discussing ICTV and what kind of show we would want to produce if we could.  I had already been thinking about this and came up with an idea to write about our lives.  I'm always told to "write what you know" so I figured it was only the smart way to go.  After discussing a few characters, more interesting plot lines, and a central theme....we had a show.  The next day we sat down and wrote 10 pages of episode 1.  The creative juices started flowing and before we knew it we were casting.

The show is about 3 very unique boys who, due to a housing mixup, end up living together in a 2 person dorm room their freshman year of college.  The boys are: sarcastic and playful Noah, snobby and dim-witted Wesley, and quirky socially awkward Liam.  The three boys get into trouble and find themselves among a crazy cast of characters.  The show is a single camera sitcom, which we use a Cannon 5D Mark 2 to shoot.  A unique feature of our show is that it's shot in a mocumentary style similar to The Office and Modern Family.  We thought this popular format would work well to create the realistic, and intimate comedic feeling you will get with our characters.

Another feature of our show is the dorm room set.  My co-producer lives very close to Ithaca and was able to pull together his resources over the winter break to construct our very own set that we put together each week in studio A of Park.  Luckily we have a dedicated and hardworking cast and crew to help us every week not only construct the set but decorate it as well.  We shoot it very similarly to a multi-camera sitcom because we don't include the 4th wall of the set - so it's like we're really peering into the dorm room of the three boys.

This semester has been a most difficult one but will prove most rewarding.  After many issues with scheduling and actor's outside conflicts, lighting corrections, music recordings, etc. I have learned to love producing. I think audiences will really enjoy the characters and stories we tell, and can really relate to the situations.

Boys of 213 will premiere in the Park School Auditorium on April 26th at 8:00PM an then every day on ICTV of that week at 10PM.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Catching Fire

     The sequel to the The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, is going to be judged by critics and fans alike.  After Jennifer Lawrence's performance at the Academy Awards, all eyes will be on her.  The film is set to launch November 22 of this year.  The starring cast of the first movie returns with Woody Harrelson returns playing a role many have not seen him in, Stanley Tucci, Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland and of course Jennifer Lawrence.

     In the second installment to a three part trilogy Katniss Everdeen and Petta Mellark return home after their win in the 74th annual hunger games.  The victors embark on a tour of all the districts and while this is happening a revolution seems to be stirring.  The cause of this revolution is none other then Katniss.
     I feel that this movie will be a big hit and that they are going to make a great sequel.  As long as the same intensity, great cinematography, costumes, and acting all stay the same or improve, the movie will be a big hit.  Jennifer Lawrence also seems to be attracting a certain type of audience to her movies and is now going to be in the next X-Men movie as well.  I am excited for this movie and can't wait to see it in theaters around Thanksgiving.

Full Metal Jacket

So in starting my Stanley Kubrick movie escapade, I decided to start with Full Metal Jacket. The film is one of a kind, and surprisingly contains many famous movie quotes that left me saying "that's where that came from!". One of my personal favorites was "me so horny, me love you long time!". Classic. As far as storytelling goes, Kubrick is a god, as Full Metal Jacket is not only a compelling war story with intense action, but a linear story line unlike most Kubrick films. Each shot was incredibly beautiful and could be a painting in my opinion. I'm excited to see the multitude of other Kubrick films.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Mac Pros? More like Mac Woes

It has been three years since Apple has given any sort of major overhaul to the Mac Pro line. Given Apple's current fiasco with Final Cut X (replacing the industry-standard Final Cut with some iMovie / Final Cut hybrid update that completely lost their market share and gave it directly to Avid), a lack of an update on this line of computers seems like another step away from catering to their professional creative demographic.

In an email response from Apple CEO Tim Cook, he confirms a major update to the line of Mac Pros this 2013, saying not to worry, and that "we're working on something really great for next year". One is led to believe that it is a major update and not a minor hardware update because he specifically mentions the small spec bump the line received last year, and then goes on to mention "something really great" in typical Steve Jobs fashion.

Rumors are swirling about when the release of the new update will be and when it will be announced. MacDailyNews, a source with a hit-and-miss track record when it comes to confirmed rumors, announced that one of its sources claimed that Apple will be announcing the update during the month of April. Don't hold your breath.

An update at this time would be a much-needed reassurance in the direction Apple is taking as a company. With so many studios and production companies using only Macs in-house (and many still using outdated versions of Final Cut), people are looking for any way to avoid having to restructure their entire corporate workflow. A renovated line of Mac Pros would show that Apple still cares about the prosumer and the professional, and maintain their relationship with their customers that has been very tenuous as of late.

With Apple's extreme push towards the casual consumer, with the user-friendly (to a fault) iOS, the beautiful yet impossible to open new iMac, and the absolute maiming of Final Cut Pro, Apple needs to remember what market stayed with them in the beginning and pushed their brand for all of these years.

Friday, April 12, 2013

American Horror Stroy

I recently just got through the first two seasons of the original mini-series "American Horror Story". The show is not just an excellent piece of television, but it in my opinion redefines the horror genre all together. The first season take place in the "Murder House" and tells one families journey to their ultimate demise while revealing an entire history of death that took place there over the years. American Horror Story tells a compelling story with well defined characters and a multitude of interesting subplots, all while being able to scare the complete shit out of you.

 The other thing I really enjoy about this show is the fact that the second season is literally almost an entire different show in itself. It contains an entirely new storyline with different characters and locations, taking place in a mental asylum. The creators decided to keep many of the same actors though, so the memorable performances from Season 1 are not only able to be replicated, but seen through a different character. Season 3 takes place in New Orleans and will be set in modern time. I can't wait. 

War Movies

A while ago my family went through what was basically a WW2 movie marathon; my personal favorite was "Shining Through". The movie was written and directed by David Seltzer and it premiered in 1992.

The story is basically your average spy thriller except this has more of an historical back drop. It also has more character depth than your average spy thriller. The heroin, Linda Voss, is specifically suited to her particular mission because she can speak German with the thick accent of a "Berlin butcher's wife". Which is needed for her to pose as a cook in a high ranking German officers home.

The story of her spy work (failures and triumphs) as well as the romance and chase scenes make this movie interesting. It's not the best I've ever seen, but it was pretty good. 


Currently I am in a hotel in Plymouth Meeting, our rugby team has a tournament in Philly tomorrow, and were staying here over the night. On the bus ride down to Philly we watched two movies. First Blades of Glory. Funny movie, but thats about it. The second movie we watched was Remember the Titans. Much better.

Although I have to admit, at first I cringed when the choice was made. I dont know what it is, maybe there's only so much of kid version Hayden Panettiere I can handle, she's quite the brat at times. Or maybe its just that I've seen Remember the Titans literally a thousand times. Literally. But even though I never seek out or choose to watch Remember the Titans, I still get sucked in every time, without fail.

I blame Denzel. He's just so damn good at what he does. He somehow makes over acting look good. He's terrifying and always gets his characters spot on. I think I remember Arturo saying something about how hard he is too work with, which actually makes complete sense. He seems like he could be a little bit on the crazy bipolar side. And you can clearly see how he can go from 0 to all up in yo face in half a second. Sure, his reputation also probably doesn't help his attitude on set, but isn't that the case for all, or at least most, top-notch A-list actors? Every actor has an attitude problem. I feel like its a requirement to have an inflated ego if ou want to be a good actor.

Anyway, Denzel's a great actor, but I could definitely see how he can have an attitude problem. Yeah, I really wasn't sure how to end this blog post, so.......


One thing that I enjoy and wish wasn't just stuck to "Intro to Field" are music videos.  I love taking music and interpreting it into a visual story.  I also really enjoy watching music videos.

I've heard Rhianna's new song "Stay" ft. Mikky Ekko on the radio a few times.  It's a very beautiful song, but a very sad song.  I had heard from people, mostly my fellow Tumblr users "you need to see the music video", "it's so depressing", "it's so well done".

Well.  I wouldn't say I "had to see it".  I wouldn't say it was "so well done".  But it definitely was depressing.

It enters in on Rhianna, bare and in a bathtub full of water with a hue.  It was a very powerful entrance. But that's where Rhianna was seen for the entirety of the music video.  The DP nailed every shot, but I would have liked to see her in more than one place.  However, Rhianna's performance in the music video was definitely spot on.  I definitely felt sad after watching her.

I have the same critiques for Mikky Ekko's portion of the music video.  Great shots, great performance, but not a lot of variety.  One thing that jumped out at me was the beautiful lighting job.  Look at it, it's gorgeous....

The contrast from the white of his shirt definitely creates a focal point, and as the light falls off it creates a beautiful dark background.  

Overall, there were really nice parts of this video, but it was just too boring and depressing for my tastes. 

Goon: A Netflix Steal

As a current and frequent user of Netflix on my Xbox I found myself with the need to watch something I have never seen before. Under the "comedy" section of the popular video network lied a hockey movie named "Goon" that I had passed up for months before finally giving it a try.

I was very surprised to find out how great this film was. It stars Seann William Scott as a simple yet dimwitted hockey player who was simply hired to be an "enforcer" on the team. For you all not familiar with hockey terminology an enforcer's job is to protect the team's most valuable assets through frequent punishment and fighting with those who dare try to hurt a star player.

Although it appears as a guy-flick is without a doubt a quality film. Check it out. 

Entourage movie?

     The critically acclaimed HBO show Entourage ended about 2 years ago and ever since then fans have been waiting for a full length film.  Executive Producer Mark Whalberg and his cast love the idea but wanted to see a script before making any decision.  Head writer and creator Doug Ellin began writing the script and the movie has been given the go ahead to begin production.  As an Entourage fan I am very excited to see where the story will go.  Will it continue from where it left off, or will it start a few years later?

     In summary, Entourage is about a rising actor named Vincent Chase who brings his friends with him to Hollywood looking to make it big.  Vincent works with his manager E, driver Turtle, brother Drama, and his agent Ari.  Whalberg says everyone is back and motivated to make this movie, he would like to do a second but doesn't want it to be a disaster.  I personally feel that this movie is going to be awesome  and they should wait for the first to come out before even thinking about a second.  No release date has been given yet but it is good to know that production has started.


So, I saw 42 today and it was great! For those of you who don't know, 42 is the story of Jackie Robinson entering Major League Baseball. He was originally playing for the Kansas City Monarchs when Brooklyn Dodger's Branch Rickey sent one of his agents to go scout out Robinson. Robinson was sent to Montreal to train with the triple A team affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers. In his first games with Montreal, he played so well that he was pulled up to the Dodgers before Brooklyn's opening day. The Dodgers then went to spring training in Panama City, Panama in order to help Robinson avoid the attack of the white Dodgers fans and the media. The story then continues with Robinson's entire first season in Major League Baseball, including the extreme attacks he went through, for instance, being thrown at or verbally attacked.

In addition to his life on the baseball field, you also see his life off the baseball field with his wife Rachel. The couple gets married at the beginning of the film after Robinson gets the call from the Dodgers and Rachel becomes extremely supportive right away. After the film, when they explain what all the players did after the 1947 season, you find out that Rachel Robinson actually started a foundation in Jackie Robinson's name. It is now used to provide high school seniors scholarships to go onto college. The movie provided a really great sense of how dedicated 'Rae' was to her husband and son.

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie both for the premise, acting, and CGI. I am a huge baseball fan, so this movie was a perfect fit for me, but I highly recommend it to everyone. It is more than just a story about baseball, but a story of the difficulties that the African American population faced during the '40s. The movie did a great job of conveying the hardships of the black population because you truly hurt for the Robinson family. Harrison Ford who played Branch Ricky played a great part in the story. At first, he seems driven by money, but in the end, he shows his true dedication to changing Robinson's life and to baseball. Also, Chadwick Boseman who played the part of Jackie Robinson seemed to be the true Jackie Robinson in the film. He acted as the tough Jackie Robinson many knew, but we also see a more emotional side of him when he is facing the attacks, especially on the baseball field. Finally the CGI used for the baseball stadiums was very impressive. They recreated four baseball parks from the 1940s and did a great job. They looked incredible and provided a '40s feel to the movie that I though going into the movie would be difficult to do.

NBC's Hannibal


            Hannibal is an American thriller television series developed by Bryan Fuller for NBC. The series is based on characters and elements that appear in the novel Red Dragon by Thomas Harris and focuses on the budding relationship between FBI special investigator Will Graham and Doctor Hannibal Lecture a forensic psychiatrist destined to become Graham's most cunning enemy. The series received a 13-episode order for its first season.

The pilot was excellent. The cinematography is unreal in the show. The camera they use (unsure of the actual type) uses a very shallow depth of field, which really adds to drama of close up shots. There is also a very cool amount of color correction and grading that goes into the production. A lot of the time the changes in color correction matches with interesting edits.
Beside the visuals of the show, the script is amazing. The dialogue is so well written and is very intriguing. I really enjoy psychological thrillers and there have already been a ton of twists in the plot that has kept me wanting more. The acting performances are great and they are so convincing. The character development is amazing and there has only been two episodes premiered. I simply cannot wait for the show to continue.