Thursday, November 11, 2010

Best Film of the Summer

OK, so I realize it's been a long time. er, almost a year. Sorry about that. Instead of catching you up on the joy and hell that was my life last spring and why I needed a whole summer and most of fall to recover from it, let's get back to movies, shall we?

First: Movies I have seen

Obviously many film aficionados, or "cineasts" as one of my film profs called us, would tell you that the best film of the summer was Inception.

Now, let me say that this movie blew my mind. I saw it twice in the opening weekend, it was that good.

However, my absolute favorite of the summer was MicMacs. (to be fair, the movie was actually released last year, but we only got it here during the summer). This is from the same director as Amélie, City of Lost Children and Delicatessen. And Jean-Pierre Jeunet does not disappoint fans who have come to admire his slightly post-apocalyptic landscapes and lovable, slightly simple, heroes. My roommate and I left the theater so incredibly happy. She kept saying, "It was like, I thought they were going to hand the message to you on a platter, but then they didn't! It was awesome!" And it was so true. You know when there's a moral to the story, and it's a good moral, but they just kind of tell you? Well, that might work in children's books, but a good film knows when to let the audience figure it out on it's own

(actually, that was one of the things I liked about Inception and one of my least favorite things about Devil, which I otherwise enjoyed... but that's a post for another day!)

So, what is MicMacs about? Well, it's about this guy who's father is killed by a bomb when he is a small child, and then when he grows up, he is hit in the head by a stray bullet in a drive by. He is taken in by a family of circus people who gather scrap to make their living, and on a pick up run for them, discovers that the two arms dealers who ruined his life have offices across the street from one another, and he begins to hatch a plan of revenge, with the help of his new family... I highly recommend you see this movie whenever you can. It's not yet available on Netflix, but you can save it to your queue.

For tomorrow - Movies I Have Made...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Films and Not-So Christmas Films

In the past week I've watched parts or the whole of a few different Christmas movies as I've decorated my Christmas tree, opened Advent Presents and baked Christmas Cookies with friends. White Christmas, Christmas in Connecticut, and The Twelve Men of Christmas (a lifetime movie with Kristin Chenoweth) to name a few.

Tonight, however, I caught the tale end of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? and I thought, "huh. weird not watching a Christmas movie"

But then, during Spencer Tracy's final speech, I decided that in a way, it's a very appropriate film for Christmas. What is more in the spirit of Christmas more than a family coming together, settling differences and accepting that love is stronger than, and can overcome, oppression?

The last few years, since my parents moved to Maine, Advent has been a bit difficult. I've felt a bit sorry for myself because I have been surrounded by a bit of apathy regarding Christmas. But this year I have a few new friends and these are the some of things they've taught me:

1. making Christmas enjoyable for someone else is what makes this the most wonderful time of the year.
2. true friends will celebrate the season with you even when it's not their scene.
3. new traditions can be more rewarding than old traditions.

At church we often talk about The Christmas Story, but the truth is that there are millions of Christmas stories, specific to each person who's been moved by the Old Old Story.

Film is one of the ways that those stories are shared....

and I would say more, but this got long and I have more cookies to bake!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

New Month, New Job!

As part of the filmmaking program I am in, we are required to get an internship in our 4th semester. I got lucky and found one already, and they want me to start this week!

I am sort of nervous, but I am also confident I know what I need to know to get started on the work they'll have me doing.

The internship is with a company called Werc Werk Works, and is based in the warehouse district downtown (um, yeah, I have always wanted to work there - or at least since 7th grade when I had rehearsals with the MN Opera Company there and fell in love!) The company is fairly new, but they have already been working on some awesome projects, including Todd Solondz new film Life in Wartime, which is kind of like a sequel to Happiness, though apparently not as, er, graphic. The project it looks like I'll be working with is Howl which is just coming to a close in post-production, though it won't come out till some time next year. I will be working with organizing behind the scenes footage for things like press releases, and possibley DVD bonus materials down the line. Not sure yet If I'll actually be editing any of it yet, but will probably get to play around with it at least, since this is partly about me learning.

I am so excited to work with these people! They all seem very nice and obviously super professional. I will only be working two mornings a week to start with since my semester is so full, but next semester I will only have two classes and can change my (church)work schedule around to make it work - then I'll be there 15-20 hours a week. yikes!

Any way, I of course have lots of other fun film stuff going on, as well as watching as many films as I have time for, so I have lots to talk about. But, hopefully that'
s what will keep me blogging the rest of November! Remember to check back here tomorrow (or, check my other blog, Are You There God? It's me elinor) for another post!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Julie & Julia

I went and saw Julie & Julia tonight.

First, a little b**ching. I have this magical card that Karasotes theaters offer called the 5 Buck Club card. After a movie has been out for two weeks (or more if it's like, Harry P) you can see it, any time of day, for only 5 bucks. Great, right?

On;y problem is, they send you the email about which movies are going on the $5 list on like Wednesday, but the price isn't actually valid till that FRIDAY. Basically, I think I'm too smart for them, and instead of reading what the email says (where it clearly states that the beginning date is the 21st and not the 20th), I base my assumption of when these prices begin on the nationwide truth that movie theaters change movies, and movie times and all that, on, you guessed it, THURSDAYS.

So, imagine my chagrin when, for the second time, tried to only pay $5 for a ticket that was still full price*. And to the same cashier. Mortifying.

*I actually never pay more than $7 for any movie, because they have student discounts. I'm actually a pretty bg fan of Karasotes.


I'm guessing you've heard of Julie & Julia, and I will say - 1. Yes, it is fairly long. 2. Yes, it is like two movies in one.

Why do people have a problem with this? You just got two movie for the price of one. What is your problem?

The pacing was good. The editing was... what you would expect - not to gaudy, not too many match action cuts between stories, but just enough to satisfy, and kept it from feeling slow (I knew I had been there for a while, but I was still very interested in both stories)

And the acting. Well. What is there to say about a Meryl Streep film? She's amazing. And this time she had Stanley Tucci playing opposite - amazing - not to mention one of the greatest comediennes of our time, Jane Lynch, playing Julia Child's sister.

And this brings me to my main point. This is ho you know good acting (or, one of the ways at least) = the characters personalities are very dissimilar to you. Opposite, even. And yet... you see yourself in them.

When Julia finally spots her sister Dorothy at the Train station, they run towards each other screeching. My sister and I have never once done this. Not after months of not seeing each other or anything. Usually it's more like, "Hey. What up? Where do you wanna have dinner?"

But in that scene and the following scenes of Julia and her sister,I was transported to thinking of my sister and I. The way that childhood jokes and mannerisms come flooding back as though you've never been apart. The way you can finish each others sentences because you're thinking the same thing. Streep and Lynch captured this connection so fully that, honestly, it was almost distracting because I couldn't help thinking about how similar we were - which we totally aren't.

So, yeah. Amy Adams, totally one of my recent favorites for actresses, and Meryl Streep one of my "old" favorites. So, if you like acting; if character driven stories are more your thing; and if you're prepared to either just get up and go or hold it, then you should probably see this film.

And I suggest on the big screen so you can have the full enjoyment of the food shots!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sydney Pollack: Tootsie, The Way We Were and Absence of Malice

For my final in Cinema History II I wrote a paper on the directorial themes of Sydney Pollack.  I chose to focus on the theme of honor, as this was something we had specifically focused on in our in-class discussion of The Yakuza, Pollack's film about an American WWII veteran and his return to Japan and the world of Japanese honor codes.

The assignment was to choose 3 films from a director and write on one theme.  Although I could have used Yakuza as one of the films, I decided to choose three of Pollack's other films, feeling this would give my claim a little more credibility.  I won't go into what the paper's said here; basically, all three films I watched had strong themes of honor running through them.

OK, The Way We Were was a bit of a stretch.

Here instead are a few brief reviews of the three films.

Tootsie:  I was happy to see that I still really enjoyed this film.  It was one of my favorites to watch at my aunt's house when I was little (she had a VCR and would tape things off the TV - we didn't even have a color TV for a long time).  If you've never seen it, well, firstly, do.  Secondly, it's a story about an out of work actor, played by Dustin Hoffman, who decides to dress as a woman and attempt to get a job on a popular soap opera.  Of course it works, and both hijinks and a hero's journey ensue.

Recently I was in an adult ed at church with two transgender people and we were talking about the difference in acceptance between generations.  I cited Tootsie as an influence for me of acceptance, even though Hoffman's character is definitely not trans, or even gay.  After watching the film again with fresh eyes, I still think it has a lot to say about acceptance.  It wouldn't be a good story if there wasn't growth, and one of the ways he grows is by accepting the more feminine aspects of his personality and thereby identifying with the women he previously objectified.

Anyway, that's what I was thinking about when I saw this, but it's really not a heavy movie.  It has a lot of humor and a little romance, but it's definitely not a rom-com.  It's very early eighties in the best way possible and done really well.  I especially liked the editing of the farm montage when Hoffman is really falling into his character (interesting look at how he is most honest when he is lying about a pretty bug thing!) 

Absence of Malice:  This film stars Paul Newman and Sally Fields.  Fields plays a journalist who s tipped a bad story framing Newman as a murder suspect (which he's not).  This is a pretty dark film for having Sally Fields.  I mean, I'm sure she's done plenty of dramas, but that's just not how I think of her ("You like me!  You really like me!").  There's a lot here about honor and integrity and truth versus accuracy, and those concepts aren't buried very deep.  Some would say this makes for a shallow film, but I kind of feel like... well, as whoever it was who said it says, "If you want the audience to see the gun in the drawer, SHOW them the gun in the drawer."  If you think an idea or moral is important enough to be in your film, shouldn't you do everything in your power to make sure every viewer gets it, versus hoping they'll take the time to hunt for it?   

The Way We Were:  I admit, one reason I chose this film was because of it's standing in pop culture.  I like to get as many references as I can as fully as I can as often as I can, so I knew I was long overdue to see this.  And boy was I glad I did!  A few nights after my semester was over, I decided to watch an old favorite of mine, Boys on the Side.  Low and behold, what movie should be viewed  but The Way We Were!  And, like most references to other works of art in films, this was a very apt film for the characters to watch - a tale of two star crossed lovers whose love can never really win - basically the same theme that runs through Boys on the Side!

Anyway, I really liked The Way We Were, especially because it seemed like it would be really shallow dramatic love story, but it had some depth to it with political matters entering in to it and what not.  Also, beautifully shot and I really noticed the sound since one of the classes I just finished was Sound for Image.

And that brings me to the end of the semester - Three A's (Sound for Image, Acting for the Camera, and Cinema History II) and one B (Cinema Production II)!  Amazingly, that brought my GPA up a little to 3.51, so I think I'm close to being back on the Dean's List.  We'll see how this summer goes!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Punk, meet Love - Cinema Production II Final

I'm going to post my final project here.  I tried posting it to facebook (first and last time doing that most likely) and they took it off within 24 hours.  

As I did for the Lucinda Williams piece, I will highly encourage you to go out and purchase some Ramones music if you haven't already.  Their music shaped a lot of my childhood and helped me tell this story (I hope).

So without further ado:


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Blast from the Past

Not sure if I ever put this one up, but some of you may have seen my "Popcorn Ellipsis" project from last spring. Well, I always felt it was a little unfinished, and I figured out why when I looked at it as a possible sound effects project. This short was SCREAMING for sound!

So, without further ado, the reworked, retitled -

Pop Goes the Sound

and in case you were wondering - I got 9 out of 10 on this one and a big "Really Good!" from my teacher!