Monday, October 26, 2009


The next short film has been shot. Editing has not begun. Editing will make or break this thing.

My girlfriend, Kelsey, is in journalism school. She's doing a project based around the film, at least I think that's what it's about. Anyway, she's made a video/slideshow/? about the start of the film. I will post it here in due time. First, I need a title, or at least working title, for the project. The lead candidate is "I Make Enemies".

Please visit the Hungry Brain on a Monday of your choosing.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Crush, kill, destroy

69. "Antichrist"
I did not like this film. I enjoyed aspects of it. The cinematography at certain points was awe inspiring. Similar techniques used later in the film made me despise what I was watching. Cinematography alone can not make a good film.

An alternate title could be "109 Minutes of Proof That Lars von Trier Hates Women." I can not explain this without giving away key elements to the just released film. If you would like to know why, just ask me in person.

I've had two conversations about this film since seeing it. One was about the story. I said the story was weak. My friend said the story didn't matter, it was an excuse to make a dream film. I somewhat agree. As a dream film, a piece of art that uses story as an excuse to showcase interesting visuals, it was decent. I've seen better. I don't think it's just a dream film. Von Trier made a film about good and evil in nature. Sure, the dialogue probably only takes up 30 pages (most scripts are one page per minute), but the is a message and it's clear.

The other conversation I had about the film was about the violence. It was realistic to a point. When characters are brutally attacked, the actors do a fine job portraying pain. Nonetheless, it would be impossible for them to survive let alone walk after certain attacks. (I'm not going to give away what happens. I will say that the violence is why this film is garnering much of its press.) The violence, while important to the film, did not form my opinion on the film. What this says about me is up to you.

"Antichrist" is not a good film because it's a trip into indulgence. The film seems like an art school project in the first act, a commercial for new, state of the art DV cameras in the second act, an actors workshop in the third and an attempt to make a 'real' horror film in the fourth. By the time the credits appeared I had lost interest in both characters and could care less about the statement von Trier was trying to make. It's incredibly easy to shock and awe an audience. It's not so easy to make them care and cry, which is why I wanted to see this film. Von Trier's "Dancer in the Dark" is still one of my favorite films. It would be nice if the director went back to making films with a story instead of tricks.

There's a reason you know it

68. "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly"
The first thirty minutes of this film are perfect. The title sequence is brilliant. The score is in the top 5 of all time. I love this trilogy. Surprisingly, this is not my favorite of the three.

The pacing of these films is excellent. The three editors for this work knew just how long to stay on a close up, a wide shot, a pan, etc. Not one second is wasted. Each drop of sweat, clump of sand, gristly hair and squinted eye means something. Leone knew what he was doing. Focusing on the details may have been lost if the entire cast spoke one language.

The film is not perfect. It does go on slightly too long. Bringing in the Civil War lengthened the film and may not have been in the most positive way. (I shouldn't complain about this. Some critics say "The Dark Knight" would be a better, tighter film without the story of Batman bringing back the Asian businessman, but it is necessary in the film and I defend it when it is brought up in conversation.) Even so, I would like to see the version that includes the 18 minutes originally cut out of the US release.

I should review this film after reading some books about it. It deserves to be studied in the same way as "Citizen Kane".

Maybe I like it as much as I do because Eastwood reminds me of my grandfather. Maybe it's because The Man with No Name is the most bad-ass character in all of film. Either way, I'm glad I finally have seen the trilogy. I will end up buying these films and watching the commentaries and making of documentaries when I feel like nothing good can still be made.

Watch the trailer. It's interesting to see how much is given away. It's also neat to see the blatant error. The films name in Italian switched the bad and the ugly and this trailer does not fix the problem. It'll make sense if you've seen the film.

Laurel resting

67. "Year One"
Yes, I had low expectations from the film and nothing about the trailer made me want to see it, but I did anyways. I'm a sucker for big budget Hollywood comedies. They're like Halloween candy.

It is bad. There aren't any laugh out loud moments. The story is dumb (which is usually fine in comedies). I was questioning if Jack Black ever was funny. The talent of the actors was wasted. I didn't even smile when I noticed the "Arrested Development" reunion of Michael Cera and David Cross. Wasn't that a great show?

I wanted to like this film. I want to like everything Harold Ramis does. I can not. I don't know why I expect I'll like his work. I haven't since "Groundhog Day" in 1993. Wasn't that a great film?

Grrrl power

66. "Monsters Vs. Aliens"
A nice rental. One of the few animated films where the celebrity voices didn't get in the way. Each character has at least one amusing line and like most animated films currently being made, there's an average of one adult joke every five minutes. If I had a daughter I would own this DVD. Not a bad way to spend 90 minutes.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I don't think it relates to the movie

24. Joe Meno "Tender as Hellfire"
It's good. I'm going to read the rest of Meno's work. Not much else to say. If you live and have ever written in Chicago, you've already formed an opinion on Meno.

On Netflix

65. "Tennis Anyone?"
I could not finish this movie. It was difficult to sit through the first fifteen minutes. I know how hard it is to make a film, but, well, I just couldn't do it.

On the TV

64. "Bennie & Joon"
If I was 13 and single I would have hated this film. If I was 13 and in love I would have loved this film. If I was 17 and single I would have loved this film. At 26 I do not care for this film. The location was great and nice to look at but I don't think anything that could be described as whimsical is in my wheelhouse.

He looks like your dad

63. "The Informant"
A nice way to spend a weekend afternoon. Matt Damon is entertaining in this Soderbergh film. It could have been a dark film about the psyche of a fragile man, but it's funny and forgettable. Rent this once it's on DVD.

I read the book

62. "X-Men Origins: Wolverine"
At least they finally brought in Gambit.

It's not as good as "X-2" but I don't think that's going to be topped. (I should re-watch that film. I've only seen it once and think it's in the top 5 superhero films of all time.)

I wish there wasn't so many laughable on accident moments, or, a more bitchin' soundtrack full of Sabbath tunes.


61. "Big Fan"
I wanted to love this film but just couldn't do it. It's an interesting story acted out in a fine way, but something never clicked. Some of the sequences seemed heavy handed and out of place. Some scenes seemed to have made the final cut simply because they were funny. I'm glad I saw it in a theater, I just wish it was nearly as good as "The Wrestler".

Watched on a bet

60. "Crank 2: High Voltage"
The first hour of racism and sexism was hilarious. The last twenty minutes were boring. I doubt that the word 'boring' was used in many "Crank 2" reviews.

Bring back the cartoons

59. "Extract"
I'd like to see a Mike Judge script directed by someone else. It seems like every film of his could have 15 to 20 minutes shorter and better. It's still a decent film and one that will probably age well.

The last fat film?

58. "Observe and Report"
Possibly Rogen's funniest film of 2009. It was made by the director of "Foot Fist Way". It had the same pacing. I would like to see what was left out. The film wasn't paced well but I enjoyed enough moments to make the thing viewable, especially if drinking.

The promotions were good

57. "Coraline"
I do not understand why people loved this film. Sure, it looks cool, but what's the point?

Sidenote: I think certain animated films, like this one, suffer when celebrity voices are used. Teri Hatcher and John Hodgman as the parents took me out of the thing.

It'll stick with you

56. "Synecdoche, New York"
What a ballsy film. The first thirty minutes were near perfect but the rest of it dragged in a good way. The scope and ambition alone made it watchable. See this film but expect nothing. It's yet another reason Philip Seymour Hoffman is the best living American actor.

It's 66 degrees at 6pm

23. Arthur Nersesian "Suicide Casanova"
Not a fan. A friend loaned me this book. I finished the book because he did. It was not my cup of tea. I didn't care about the lead and it's quite difficult to read anything so self-indulgent without caring.

Sad and wonderful

22. Barry Gifford "Wild At Heart"
I loved this book. I will read the fest of Gifford's work. Thanks to Ben, I now have read a book I should have in high school.

Shoot first

55. “Inglourious Basterds”

It’s great. Tarintino proved that he is a great director and writer and film fan. It’s a love/hate film and I loved it. Not one moment seemed forced. Odd or bad performances were easy to forgive. The cinematography in each chapter was different and well done. The uses of narration did take you out of the film momentarily but they never made the film seem heavy handed. I could go on for days about the film but won't because the Internet has already gone on for days. I'll probably end up buying the super deluxe special edition in ten years when Tarantino finally decides to release it.

No puppets

54. “The Big Tease”

Craig Ferguson found his calling as a talk show host. He’s a charming fellow that works best when he’s riffing. Though this film is a mockumentary and is supposed to feel like it’s off the cuff, it doesn’t. I was actually surprised how formulaic this turned out. I hate saying it, but do not see this film, even if you are a big Ferguson fan.


53. “Tyson”

If you enjoy boxing or were ever interested in the life of Mike Tyson, see this documentary. If you think Tyson did rape that woman and is an animal, don’t see this film. It won’t change your mind.

I did not love this film. I already read a book about Tyson in the last year and it covered pretty much everything in the first hour of the film. I wrote about it in this blog. It’s by Jose Torres. It was published in 1990 and has aged well.

I did not like the shooting style used. The director interviewed Tyson for a week straight. He had two cameras running throughout the process. To make things a bit more visually stimulating he sometimes employs three cameras at once to shoot a man talking. It’s overkill. I don’t need to see two angles of Tyson talking about his childhood while a third camera of B roll has him staring straight ahead. It makes the film seem like an interrogation, which may have been the point.

I kind of understand the acclaim the film has received. Tyson was one of the most compelling individuals from the 1980s. He was mysterious and misunderstood. He had what seemed a superhuman ability to box. He spiraled out of control slowly and dramatically. He may be the one individual with a face tattoo that you may feel some sympathy. Any film about Tyson was destined to be well received.

Lou Reed

52. “Adventureland”

Kelsey liked this film much more than I did. She found it quite cute. It was kinda cute. Maybe I just have a problem with the lead, Jesse Eisenberg, I didn’t like him in “The Squid and the Whale” and everybody liked that film. It must be me.

It’s obvious the film was a love letter from the director to his formative years. It’s shot well, scored well and acted well. I enjoyed the detail given to the amusement park. Shots of the park in the autumn worked best. It made me want to visit Great America, which I did a few weeks later.

Kristen Stewart was great. Worth the rental.

Even the poster is good

51. "The Savages"
The leads acted the shit out of this film. (I hope Ebert leads at least one review with that sentence.)

It's difficult for me to go to a theater to see a film like "The Savages". I know I'll love the film and will think about at least one aspect of it differently, but there's little joy in watching this type of art. It's heavy and there's no way around it. I seem to be able to absorb works like this when I first wake up. If I'm still woozy and don't have to become unconscious, the weight of the material isn't too much to fully absorb.

The cinematography in this film fits the story so well. I will now watch "The Notorious Life of Bettie Page" because it was shot by the same guy.

Laura Linney should be given runner-up Best Actress at the Oscars every year (Streep obviously would win). Linney is the actress every director would love to have in the cast.

Tamara Jenkins, the writer and director of the flick, is inspiring. I don't know if I'll ever see this film again but I will not forget it.

Still missing

21. J. D. Salinger "Nine Stories"
I know I'm supposed to like Salinger, but I don't. I'm sorry. I don't know if this will ever change. I've tried for years and the older I get, the less I care. I do understand why people, specifically teenagers, love the guy. I just don't think I'll ever be part of the fan club.

It shouldn't take three months to finish a book that's under 200 pages.

If you're trying to seem deep to a high school junior, carry around this book in your back pocket.

Buy it

20. Seth "Wimbledon Green"
I love this book. The story and art and style and layout and binding, etc., is great. The one downside is the preface. Seth, the author/artist, explains that he did this as a lark, with no idea where the story was going until it was almost done. He explains how he rushed the everything and didn't want to touch anything up in case of ruining the feel. If I didn't know this information I wouldn't have thought it was rushed.

This would make an ideal Christmas gift for anyone interested in fringe/hipster books between the ages of 21 and death.

Vote Lozano

19. "Rudy Lozano: His Life, His Work"
A decent read/conspiracy theory on why one of the best men Chicago produced was assassinated. If you don't know the story, please google Rudy Lozano. Long story short, he was a union leader that was gunned down in his own home because he was causing higher ups a lot of trouble. I can not do this story justice.

I used to work for Mr. Lozano's son. He was a great boss and someone I looked up to. He's currently running for state representative. Please vote for him. He will do good work. Here's his site.

Two reasons

There are two reasons this blog hasn't been updated in quite some time.

1. The internet was not working at my apartment for nearly two months.
2. My apartment was broken and entered. The computer on which I work was stolen.

I'll update this thing more often. Scouts honor. I was never a scout.