Saturday, May 4, 2013

Ready for Summer!

After filming The Goods again, screwing it up by accident and only having one film to screen- I'm ready to relax and watch someone else's projects this summer.

Iron Man 3 just came out and I was lucky enough to see it the night before. It was amazing and a great ending to the trilogy. During the previews, there were a bunch of trailers for films coming out this summer and fall. And I've got to say, I'm super pumped for almost all of them!

Wolverine will be coming back to the silver screen to continue his origin story. Being a Marvel nerd, this makes me super excited for him being in Japan. It's a key point in his story and it also helps that I love Hugh Jackman...

The Great Gatsby is only a week away from premier! Like a lot of people, The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite books. The cast is phenomenal and the director is fantastic. He's directed so many beautiful films such as Moulin Rouge and Romeo + Juliet. Baz Luhrmann was a great choice to director this movie.

Star Trek is also creeping up this month and I can't wait to go to the midnight premier! Yes, I do have an Enterprise shirt that I'm planning on wearing to the screening and yes I'm a bit more excited to see this one than the previous film because Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto are beautiful men.

Good luck to everyone at the screenings and have a great summer!

End of the year

I decided I was going to change up the last post and just say how much I learned in the class and how much I enjoyed it.

To start I think Arturo Sinclair is incredibly knowledgable about the subject he teaches. I thoroughly believe that I got the most out of this class than any other class i took in TV/R. Learning about being a perfectionist and striving to make the best films we possibly can. I was inspired by the class and I am excited to continue my film journey. Thank you again Arturo for being such an open teacher and and being critical because it definitely pays off. I guarantee that I will being using almost every one of your life lessons in any future production I make. Have a great end of the year.

P.S. I have states tomorrow (Saturday May 4 all day) and will not be able to make the screenings.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Some much needed R&R

After these recent weeks of long hours doing stressful work it will be nice to be able to go home and relax the only way I know how; by finding new shows to binge watch with my friends. I've somehow managed to never see or hear anything important about Game of Throne's; an oddity considering it's all that people around me are talking about. Also I have never seen an episode of The Soprano's either. This is really weird considering it if filmed near me.

This summer also is also filled with so many blockbuster action movies that I will have plenty of movies to see as well. It kicked off this weekend with Iron Man 3, and keeps going with Star Trek 2, Fast Six, After Earth, Man of Steel, and World War Z. So I think with all of these movies and show's that I should be able to sit in and practice my favorite summer past time of avoiding large social situations.

Iron Man 3

Tonight, I was lucky enough to see Iron Man 3 in 3D.  Personally, I thought it was very well done.  I'm not really into the sci-fi kind of stuff, but I really did enjoy this film.

Two parts of the film that I found exceptional were 1) It was very comedic.  There were parts of the film where I found myself cracking up.
and 2) The special effects were amazing.  The (what seemed like) endless names of people who were on the special effects team goes to show that each effect was worked on and perfected by multiple people.

My only critique-- a predictable story line.  You knew who the bad buy was from the very first scene.  If the writing were a little less predictable, that would have greatly helped.

I Spoke Too Soon...

I've mentioned before that I really detest most remakes. More often than not, the changes they make to the source material are several steps in the wrong direction. This being the case, when Hollywood remakes my favorite books, I find myself both exasperated with the project and hopeful that the new remake will be one of the rare good ones.

The remake I'm currently talking about is "World War Z" , which hits the big screen June 21st, 2013. The film is based of the book of the same title by Max Brooks, (directed by Marc Forster) which came out in 2006. Basically the book is about the Zombie Apocalypse as told through the eyes of survivors from all over the world.

Frankly I'm curious to see how Forster will translate that type of storytelling into film form. But considering that this is a remake, I'm probably going to wait until it comes out on DVD to see it.

Netflix's Big Data

Watch out, Netflix is about to become an absolute giant in the media industry. Its goal is to become the first true internet television station, and it has a little trick up its sleeve. I recently did a presentation on Netflix for my Media A&A class. I focused on how Netflix is utilizing Big Data, any time a show is played, paused, restarted, etc, to hedge their bets on what TV shows to pick up. Netflix looks at all of these "events",  over 30 million a day, and picks up patterns in our viewing habits. Netflix also utilizes social media in its analysis.

Netflix has a lot of data to draw from. It has 30-ish million subscribers and accounts for 33% of the internet bandwidth everyday. Over 2 billion hours of Netflix are streamed every quarter. Netflix uses all this data to create a TV show that cannot fail. Netflix's ultimate goal with big data is to be able to recommend titles that you will watch beginning to end every time without fail. Shows like House of Cards and Hemlock Grove, the first shows to be created based off of big data, are examples of how Netflix could have something big in store for internet video streaming.

You Win Or You Die

Lately I've been getting into the smash HBO series Game of Thrones.  This epic saga based on the novels of George R. R. Martin, is an fantasy series on HBO created by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss to become a massive success and fan favorite.  Season 3 is in the midst right now and it's been an epic battle and quest for power and knowledge every episode.  I'm really enjoying this series, even though it's a little different than my usual programs.

Right now, Game of Thrones is in it's 3rd season (it was picked up for it's 3rd season just 9 days after premiering it's 2nd season) and is an adaptation of the 3rd book in the series.  The cast and characters are all incredibly dangerous and fascinating which makes the show so intriguing.  I can honestly say (with out reading the books of course) that at this point in the show ANYONE could die.  This is highly unlikely for a TV show to kill off it's main characters but the show has done it before and would not be a surprise.  The premise of the show obviously revolves around a fictional fantasy world where kings and queens ruled the land, so naturally the goal of the majority of characters is to become the king.  And I can say it's a very safe bet that any one of the characters has a rightful power for the throne.

Some of the favorites on the show include Peter Dinklage as Tyrion the women-crazed son and imp of a very wealthy family who strives for the kingdom; Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryan the bad-ass blonde dragon trainer; and Kit Harrington as Jon Snow the young and hunky bastard-son who's gone on to fight in a brotherhood army.  (Emilia Clarke is my favorite - I actually met her when she was starring on Broadway!)

The show brings on a huge cast of characters yet does a wonderful job of including them and weaving in story lines. (Unlike Glee with all of their characters).  I will continue to watch this show for as long as it will go on for a while.  There are 5 books currently but 2 more in the works and they might split the books up into multiple seasons as they did for seasons 3 and 4 (both about the 3rd book).

Could HBO be onto something, but turning hit books into TV shows rather than movies? (True Blood is another example.)  Maybe Harry Potter should have been an HBO series?  But then again it probably wouldn't have had enough sex or nudity for HBO to pick it up in the first place!

Another MIB

Sony has just hired writer Oren Uziel to write a fourth, yes FOURTH, Men In Black. How many are they going to do? Uziel has also signed on to write the sequel to 21 Jump Street, the Jonah Hill comedy that made huge waves last year. As far as Men IN Black is concerned, no deals have been yet as for as bringing back Will Smith or Tommy Lee Jones as their famously slick characters (though I wont be surprised if they do), or Josh Brolin and Emma Thompson for that matter. The movies will cost a fortune to make though because of all the big names, including Director Barry Sonnenfeld and Executive Producer Steven Spielberg.

 21 Jump Street 2 is already slated to release for June 6, 2014 and is bringing back Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, along with Phil Lord and Chris Miller as directors. The movie is expected to see the two doofus cops on  a college campus setting, right where the last one left you off.

Filming complete for final Trailer Park Boys Movie

I recently read that the filming for the final installment of the Canadian comedy series, Trailer Park Boys. For those of you unfamiliar with the series it follows the lives of Ricky, Julian, and Bubbles three loveable low-lives who make their living by committing various petty crimes. It started off as a television series, but grew in popularity to the point of producing three major picture adaptations of the franchise. The series uses a mocumentary-style of directing and often the filming crew becomes involved in the plot of the story. 

Unfortunate news struck the cast when one of the shows main characters, Philadelphia Collins, died just days after shooting his scenes. His character is known for having an enormous gut and short temper. He also possesses many hilarious catchphrases such as: Bam! The character is one of my all time favorite because of how rare of an actor and character he is. I really look forward to seeing his last work.

Like many devoted fans of various T.V. and movie series I am skeptical that this installment will not meet the standards of the earlier work. That said, I cannot wait to see this film and if you have not watched the series before you should check it out, it is entirely on Netflix. It is one of the best TV shows on the network.

Photography... In Space!

Recently I was working on a project for Motion Graphics and Animation, my other class with Arturo.  I was creating a title sequence set in space, with lots of interesting astronomical features.  Before I started, I did some looking around, trying to find inspiration and get a feel for what space looks like, so I looked through a lot of the Hubble Telescope images, and other images published by NASA.  The image above is fairly representative of these images.  They are brightly colored and very detailed, and they look great.  The problem is, they are not what you would see were you in space, and they are not even what your camera would see.  They are a composite of lots of different light besides visible light; this image also has information about UV light and radio waves and other things invisible to the eye.  The coloring is added later to distinguish this information.  So while it is useful for astronomers and astro-physicists, it is less useful for getting a good idea of what it actually looks like.

However, just yesterday I ran across this video, which shows astronaut Chris Hadfield on the ISS showing off how he takes photos from the international space station.  I found the technical information about exposure values and such very interesting, and it was also enlightening to see what our planet looks like from outer space.  And there's  a perk to shooting from space: those giant lenses don't weigh anything.  Here's an example of one of his amazing images:

Your Daily Dose of Drama

So I was thinking of what I could blog about today and I wanted to do something different. I usually blog about a tv show or a movie but today I have decided that I am going to blog about ... what for it ... a commercial! But this is not any commercial, this is the TNT Drama commercial. TNT placed a button in the middle of a square in a town in Belgium and had a sign that said, "Push to add drama." People around the square are confused by it and then a man on a bike pushes the button. All of a sudden the square becomes the middle of an action movie. Out of nowhere an ambulance comes and EMT's take a man out on a stretcher. The EMT's drop him on the ground and the people in the square are shocked and confused as to what is going on. There is also a fist fight between to men and a woman on a motorcycle in lingerie. A black SUV then comes speeding into the middle of the square and a gun fight begins between the police and the men in the SUV. After the SUV leaves, a football team runs into the square and carries a man into a building. While all of this is going on there is extremely dramatic music playing in the background. When all of the actors leave the square, a huge sign rolls down the side of a building that says, "Your Daily Dose of Drama TNT."

I thought that this commercial was hilarious and it must have had a huge budget. It was very well planned and directed. I loved the idea of making the commercial like a reality tv show. It has over 45 million views on Youtube. However, I am also very jealous because I want something like this to happen to me, it would be so cool to see a commercial like this take place.


So tonight, I decided to go with a few of my friends to see some of the thesis screenings at 7:00. I have to say, overall, I was pretty impressed. I know people take a lot of time on these projects, but in some of them, I really saw that hard work and energy shine through. They were pretty creative and different from each project, and I like the way they formatted the screening. It wasn't documentary after documentary or short film after short film; there was a mix.

One of my favorite films of the night was the documentary City Under Siege, the documentary that highlighted the destruction of Hurricane Sandy. This was a documentary that the producers began the semester before taking senior media thesis. They began the project during their doc studies class where they accumulated footage and interviews from the aftermath of the hurricane from people living on Staten Island.

The film opened with interviews from President Obama and other notable politicians as well as footage of the storm itself. They then moved onto the following days, using voice overs and b-roll of the neighborhoods closest to the water. After that, they did interviews with families about the hard times they went through. It first harped in on the lack of attention the government, FEMA, and the Red Cross was giving the population. From there, they highlighted the help of the volunteers and how much they contributed to the clean up of the areas. One of the saddest portions of the film was the interview they did with the family whose house burnt down. They evacuated their home and travelled to Pennsylvania, and as they watched the news, they watched their own house burn down. The producers stuck with the family as they searched through the rubble and found items that survived the flames such as a box of old pictures. They then finished the film with the extreme weather that has occurred over the years and how global warming is a problem they are dealing with.

The documentary, I think, was one of the best shot projects of the evening. It made the audience feel like they knew the people in the story and helped the audience relate to them in a struggling time. I also really enjoyed how they included their own footage as well as footage from other new sources, which added a great effect to the film.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Marvel vs DC Comics

     One of the most popular super hero movies as of the last 5 years has been Iron Man.  Since Disney Corp. bought Marvel in 2009, the superhero movies have been coming out of the box office like crazy. DC Comics has been trying to compete with The Dark Knight Series and now Superman: Man of Steel.  But the truth of the matter is that Marvel is several movies ahead of DC and has been generating a lot of revenue.  Because of this DC Comics plans on using Christopher Nolan as their weapon in the competition for superhero movies.

     This clash of studios is great for the industry and for the comics themselves.  A lot of merchandise and advertisements has been and will continue to pour into the market.  The two big blockbuster movies from each of these studios for the summer is Iron Man 3 and Superman: Man of Steel.  I have high expectations for both movies and I look forward to seeing them.  If all goes according to plan Christopher Nolan will continue to produce/ direct the DC films including the Justice League.  It is exciting to see what these companies have in store for an audience who is in superhero mode.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Happy Gilmore

There are very few movies that are on TV in some form more often than Happy Gilmore. It's a sports classic, never gets old, and is appropriate and entertaining for everyone. Although I don't think that Happy Gilmore isn't Adam Sandler's best movie, that goes to Billy Madison for me, but it doesn't get much better for Sandler than the beginning of this movie. I think that overshadowed by Sandler often is the performance by Christopher McDonald as Shooter McGavin. As the villain in the movie, it's easy for people to hate Shooter. But whether you like the character or not isn't the point, McDonald arguable does a better job acting his part in the movie than Sandler.

My favorite Shooter McGavin moment definitely comes on the final day of the tour championship in the film. The crowd around the green while Shooter is putting is going nuts, throwing beach balls around and blowing fog horns. Shooter of course is not so pleased, and he has one of the most classic sports movie freak outs ever. And then goes on to sink the putt anyway. Shooter McGavin is easily one of the best villains in a sports movie of all time. He is a complete a-hole, there is just no other way to describe him.

Another great aspect of this movie are the smaller characters that make it hilarious. My two favorite have to be Happy's old boss, who happens to be a human giant, and Happy's caddy when he's golfing. Both characters add small comic relief and don't really play a major role in the movie, but there small jokes are what separate Happy Gilmore from other Adam Sandler type comedies. There is nothing better than when Shooter has to hit his ball off of Happy's old bosses foot, that is always one of the funnier moments of the movie.

Happy Gilmore is cheesy and over the top, but that is also what makes it so great. Adam Sandler made Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore within a year of each other, and he essentially plays the same role. A knucklehead that eventually finds his way in the world, and makes something of himself. No matter how old you get, Happy Gilmore is always great to watch.

Can Arrested Development Hook Us Again?

Arrested Development originally aired on Fox to regrettably low ratings, but for those who did watch it, it was like getting struck my lightning. One of the most beloved of cult-hit TV shows, Arrested Development was revived recently by Netflix, bringing fifteen brand new episodes with the Bluth family to the small screen yet again. But after all these years, can creator Mitch Hurwitz capture our imaginations again?

The original conception of Arrested Development occurred at a time of corporate scandal, most notably: the Enron. The inciting action of the entire series is based off of this topicality, with the father of the Bluth family being arrested because of his illegal decisions as the head of his company. This sends the entire family spiraling out of control, and then COMEDY! Also entering the mix is the invasion of Iraq, the ties the U.S. government had with Saddam Hussein, and the fallout therein. This provided another large plotline and hilarious climax in the series.

Bringing this series to life again almost a decade later leaves creator and writer Mitch Hurwitz with the problem of making the show current, topical and relevant again. Considering we are now in a recession (of some sort), the job market is much lower, and we are now almost in a conflict with North Korea, one can think of many angles through which Hurwitz can still provide a social satire.

Another present change is the actual means of consumption as well as the story structure. Providing content through Netflix, one can sit down and watch the entire season in one (sleep-deprived) day. The story structure is also reimagined, with each episode following a different member of the Bluth family, ultimately leading up to an Arrested Development feature film. Will these separate stories culminate in at least a few traditional episodes? Is showing the family apart the best decision, considering the show is built on the total disfunction of the family when they are together?

Mitch Hurwitz capture lightning once, and I for one will be watching on May 26 to see if he can do it again.