When you are growing up in the years that will somewhat shape the kind of person you will be, something that will form no matter how you look at it is the type of person you are attracted to. Straight, gay, or in between, a lot of what we see that influences us into determining who we like happens to be on the big screen or the television at home. So many of us have an attraction to bears and bear types, yet there had to be a starting off point that got us to where we are today, whether it is from a dating or sexual viewpoint. I recently polled a ton of my bear & bear loving friends with the simple question- “Who was the first bear-type of guy that did it for you on television and/or the movies?” The colorful responses I got were quite in depth and interesting, as the tastes varies depending on body hair, age, charisma, race, and so much more. [Read more…] about Who Was Our First Celebrity “Bear” Crush Growing Up?
Movie Trailers are the New Black
There, I said it. We’re all thinking it. Or perhaps, when in fact studying the craft that is designing a film trailer nowadays, in all their ostentatious glory – perhaps movie trailer teasers are in fact the new black. And then all the young boys and girls of a certain sort stand proudly and truculently in their not-so-common Storm Trooper costumes and meticulously crafted Elven ears and say Nay! – it is not the teasers of said trailers which are the new shade of popular, oh no. It is in fact the teasers of teasers which are just the greatest thing ever!
A long time ago, in a Hollywood now far, far away, the only hint of a plot to upcoming films was a poster. And it was usually hand-drawn. Imagine a let down of that magnitude in today’s viral campaign-mongering and hashtag-driven world of foreshadowing wonder. It would be madness, I tell you, madness!
Here is where one would cue the brass-heavy rousing film score.
While dramatic to an extent, there is in fact an aspect of truth to the idea that movie trailers can sell or destroy today’s major motion pictures. Along with the special-effects and the plot twists and the acting techniques which have adapted and grown to a higher standard as the years have gone by, the previews to our films have also significantly risen in quality. It’s very easy to compare the compelling appeal of movie trailers today to those of yesteryear, thanks heavily in part to the accessibility of YouTube and modern-day archive resources at a whim.
Case and point, here’s the official trailer from the original 1954 version of GODZILLA:
And then watch this one, from the 2014 film reboot:
And lastly, just for the overall nerdy fuck of it, check out this mashup of the old with the new. The style alone brings a new element to the old trailer which makes it appealing, even today.
So why do we love movie previews so damn much? Well, part of it has to do with the fact that we are able to spread them like wildfire. Back when films were a thing of luxury, in black and white glory and magnificent faux sets, the only group of people who saw the previews to the next big film were the ones in the theater. Jump-cut to today when movie trailers are premiered on the internet before they even make their debuts in theaters.
This past Thanksgiving two very large movie trailers made an appearance in theaters. How do I know? Well because they first landed on YouTube, before they appeared anywhere else. Was this effective? You be the judge: The film trailer for Jurassic World was posted on YouTube on November 25th. As of the time of the publishing of this article, it has been viewed 41,077,141 times. Yes, that’s forty-one million. And counting. On November 28th, the trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens was posted on YouTube. Today it has 42,193,847 views.
Have you seen these trailers? If not, check them out here:
And with all this being said and watched, how many times do we fall victim to the ever-present masterpiece trailer, only to be followed by the monumentally disappointing actual film? We’re looking at you, Superman Returns. It’s true, the foreplay does not always result in a fantastic finish.
So what’s next? If movie trailer teaser teasers are the rage, what could possibly top them?
Easy. Movie trailer teaser teaser parodies for the win.
Which film trailers are your favorite? Which ones were better than the actual film?
The Short Form: The 86th Academy Awards
Welcome to the Short Form. The Short Form gives you all the angles on last night’s awards show so you can watch The Walking Dead with your Sunday night instead. Tonight is the 86th Academy Awards, the Super Bowl of awards shows. Ellen DeGeneres took the hosting reigns this year from the controversial Seth McFarlane, which should guarantee a different tone on Hollywood’s biggest night.
Ellen’s Hosting Job: Ellen seemed a touch jittery during her opening monologue, but in spite of that, she delivered a sharp monologue that managed to throw a touch of farce with the usual celebrity zings (including a particularly pointed one directed at Liza Minelli in which she mistook Minelli for an impersonator (ending on the quip “nice job sir”). The monologue was a welcome reprieve from Seth McFarlane’s rambling set pieces last year, clocking in at a brief eight minutes.
Ellen also played traffic cop considerably more than what we’ve seen in other shows, often personally introducing most of the presenters and hanging out in the audience more than we’ve tended to see with recent awards shows. I definitely like the move towards shorter interstitial pieces, as it always feels off when we only see the host once or twice throughout the show. That being said, many of the audience segments were flat out weird, asking about ordering pizza or taking selfies.
Is this the Grammys, because the music is the best part of this show!: On a night where everything felt a little off tempo, we got some killer musical performances that were a real bright spot for the show. Whether it was the spectacle driven performance of Pharell’s “Happy” or the intimate performances by Karen O and U2, this year’s ceremony has stepped up it’s game in its’ musical segments. Idina Menzel also shined with her performance of Frozen’s “Let It Go”, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd (including best song competitor Bono). This strength extended outside of the best music nominees, with Pink stepping up her game in tribute to Judy Garland. The one exception of the rule came at the worst possible time: Bette Midler’s punchless performance of “Wind Beneath My Wings” after a particularly brutal memoriam segment that showed how death hit all aspects of the movie world whether you preferred Peter O’ Toole, Harold Ramis, Philip Seymour Hoffman or even Paul Walker.
The pacing felt weird, especially in hour one: In a night with numerous teleprompter issues, it often felt like Ellen in particular was rushed, while presenters and speeches were given more room to breathe (the orchestra was extremely passive this time out). Furthering this is the fact that most of the early awards were often presented in twos or threes at a time. There were also an alarmingly high number of video packages, which felt unnecessary due to lack of heavy stage changes throughout the show. The end result was a long show (the show went three and a half hours) that often felt too deliberate in some parts and incredibly rushed in others.
Big Winners and bigger snubs: Gravity, American Hustle, and 12 Years a Slave received most of the best picture hype, and the academy had two clear favorites. Gravity cleaned house with 7 awards (particularly on the technical side), picking up best cinematography, best director (somewhere NBC is incredibly glad they can use this in advertising for Believe) best film editing, both sound awards and the best visual effects. Frozen managed to bat 1.000, picking up a couple of awards for best animated feature and best original song (for “Let It Go”), while The Great Gatsby picked up a pair of stylistic awards courtesy of Baz Luhrmann’s decadent vision. Cate Blanchett was one of the few to defeat Gravity in a category tonight for her work in Blue Jasmine, while Dallas Buyer’s Club picked up not only expected wins for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor (Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto respectively). The big winner of the night was 12 Years A Slave, which not only picked up the big prize, but awards for best adapted screenplay and best supporting actress.
In terms of movies that were ultimately snubbed are the years two most similar films, as American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street both got blanked, as did Captain Philips and Nebraska.
The red carpet front: I’ve been seeing a lot of green out on the red carpet, ranging from jade greens to darker hunter greens (like Idina
Menzel’s Vera Wang dress). The biggest star rocking this look out there is best actress nominee Sandra Bullock. The most divisive dress had to be Liza Minelli’s cobalt blue dress, which love it or hate, is a suitably spotlight stealing look for a suitably spotlight stealing star. In a rare occasion where I’m looking at men’s fashion, Pharrell’s shorts/Capri tux came off like a complete eyesore. On the other hand, both Cate Blanchett’s and Amy Adams’ dresses were incredibly classy affairs, and Matthew McConaughey’s white smoking jacket is pretty swank.
The night in speeches: The night started out with Jared Leto’s incredibly pretentious awards ceremony speech in which he managed to sneak in a plug for his band, as well as mentioning the civil war like situations in Ukraine and Venezuela. This was followed by an equally bizarre set up by Jim Carrey for an animation montage that included a random shot at Bruce Dern, prop glasses, and an LSD reference. We got an equally bizarre presentation moment later in the night with Kim Novak and Matthew McConaughey, where it looked like McConaughey wanted to go full Groucho, making it seem like he was trying ad-lib off a teleprompter (a delivery McConaughey would then follow for his best actor acceptance speech). After a tepid couple of hours, we got a bizarre speech from the co-writers of “Let It Go”, that involved quoting the birthday song and a scream of “Brooklyn!”
In terms of speeches I enjoyed, both documentary award recipients had quick and heartfelt speeches, with Malcolm Clarke and Nicholas Reed discussing the subject of their film The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved my Life, while Darlene Love gave a rousing verse in the middle of the acceptance speech for 20 Feet to Stardom. Where Leto’s speech felt pretentious, Lupita Nyong’o’s best supporting actress speech was amazingly heartfelt and emotional (and the orchestra threw her a bone by playing her out with Willy Wonka).
Top 10 Films of 2013 | Movie Reviews
Well here it is, the fruit of my loins as a cinephile. Every year, I find that it’s a critic’s most joyful duty to compose a top ten list, and this year had no shortage of quality releases. I actually contemplated doing a top 20 list, but I the felt that that would prove distracting, and that these ten films I’ve chosed as my personal favorites round out the year perfectly well. Hope that many of you concur with my picks, and if you don’t then I cordially invite you to have a friendly debate with me.
10. Blue is the Warmest Color
Abdellatif Kechiche’s film has received so much discussion since it won the Palme d’Or at Cannes for it’s sprawling running time and explicit sex scenes, that it’s almost easy for one to call the film 2013’s most overrated film. Even if that’s true, it’s still a terrific saga about going through a first-love experience, that’s effectively both tumultuous, cautionary and joyful. I mean hell, it’s a three-hour French film about a lesbian romance, so I don’t think too much could of gone wrong with it.
9. Computer Chess
Arguably, the mumblecore film that critics have been dying to see, as director/writer Andrew Bujalski (who inspired the movement 10 years ago with his film Funny Ha Ha) has given us a film with the most minuscule of budgets that has the largest of ideas. Examining a weekend tournament between chess software programmers during the early 1980s, Computer Chess is a layered look at the foundations of our current technological climate, all while shot in a deliciously blurry black-and-white hand-held style that makes the film feel all the more organic and retro. Often hilarious, surprisingly surreal, and always cerebral, Computer Chess is a stunning document on the magnetic power that American independent cinema is very much capable of holding in this day-and-age.
8. Inside Llewyn Davis
If the Coen brothers have entered their latter day career period now, then perhaps that’s why their latest film acts as a pessimistic picture on a young talent. An ode to folk music, the film follow the title character (embodied by a career sparking performance by Oscaar Isaac) in his unlucky pursuits through New York in the early 1960s. It’s possibly the brothers most idiosyncratic film since O Brother Where Art Thou, as Llewyn is every bit a Coens creation, as he’s leeching and hypocritical, yet also a gifted musician who happens to be a bit of a victim of his surroundings. We see our character fail again-and-again throughout the film, but with the Coen’s talent for creating eccentric characters and stunning period decor, the film proves to be a dismal trip that also happens to be a lot of fun! Plus, it’s just so gratifying to see this film and realize how much of New York’s element has remained in tact for over half-a-century now
7. The Past
Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi became a bit of an overnight-sensation for arthouse cinema when his 2011 film A Separation received near unanimous praise as a masterpiece. For his follow up film, the director has crafted a film that’s similar to A Separation, both thematically and cinematically, but that doesn’t make it any less of a necessity. It’s an intense family drama that only grows more intricate and ambiguous as it unravels, and it ends with an image of true poeticism and beauty. Another masterpiece from one of the world’s best new film makers.
6. Frances Ha
One of the most appealing things to me about Frances Ha is that all the reasons I love it, are what other viewers will find middling. The kitsch style, the intentionally spotty narrative, and the glorification of contemporary white-priveleged 20-somethings just really connected with me, and I couldn’t help but find the film as a real spoke’s person for our generation. Of course, none of this would matter if not for Greta Gerwig’s lead performance, as she transforms her character into the most endearing indie film chick of the year. I can hear Lena Dunham’s envy already.
5. The Spectacular Now
The year’s surprise masterpiece! This adaptation of Tim Tharp’s novel could have turned out like so many teen romance films before it, but instead it’s so much more thanks to a superb script, top-notch directing, and brilliant chemistry between it’s two leads. All I need to say is that as soon as the movie was done, all I could say was this: “Finally, a teen-romance movie that actually get’s it.”
4. Short Term 12
Short Term 12 is exactly the type of film to restore your faith in American independent cinema. Destin Cretton proves he’s as valuable a director as he is a screenplay writer, giving us a film that touches on every human emotion, while also being a very realistic look at a topic that isn’t explored nearly enough in fiction. Also, Brie Larsson gives a performance of utmost power and range in this film, and I’m certain the Academy will all but ignore it. Heartbreaking, funny, plausible, and fluid, Short Term 12 is truly something special from beginning to end. It might not be what I’d call the “best” film of the year, but I’m thinking it might be my personal favorite
3. 12 Years a Slave
If it’s not the best film ever made about slavery, then it’s certainly the most brutal, humane and relevant one. Steve McQueen’s adaptation of the true story of the free African-American Solomon Northup and his kidnapping and enslavement by white men is an astounding period piece that showcases the horrors of America’s most despicable sins. Gritty and hard-to-watch, yet also profound, brilliantly filmed and handled by a cast of some of Hollywood’s best actors, 12 Years a Slave legitimizes Steve McQueen as an auteur that can be mentioned in the same breath as Martin Scorsese.
2013 was a great film year for love stories (about 50% of my top 10 list will tell you that), but leave it to Spike Jones to give us the most original and subversive one of the year. The story of a man falling in love with a computer certainly could of come off as hooey, but instead Jonze crafts his near-future world with an eye for humanity that makes us all completely embrace his believable vision, and the complex love story at the heart of it. Joaquin Phoenix also gives a perfectly sweet and vivid performance here that actually is very much a parallel to his volcanic turn in last year’s The Master, and yes he does have the utmost chemistry with Scarlett Johansen’s voice. Spike Jonze should be very proud, as he just proved he doesn’t need a screenplay from Charlie Kaufman in order to make a great film.
1. Before Midnight
Best three-quel ever? Well, besides Toy Story 3, I’m blanking on one that comes even remotely close to Richard Linklater’s majestic film on imperfect-yet-true love. Just like Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, Linklater keeps directing tricks at a minimalist level (although there is no shortage of great shots in the film), and instead lets Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke work their magic. The dialogue and character interactions are even richer than before, and the film’s lengthy “argument” scene may be the single best scene shot for an American film for this generation. Here’s hoping that Linklater, Hawke and Delpy will retain the creative stamina to make another great installment of this series for the next decade (and onward).
Honorable Mentions: Nebraska, Blue Jasmine, Fruitvale Station, Mud, American Hustle, Gravity, No
Are You Skipping Ender’s Game- An Interview With Geeks Out
Tomorrow, or tonight at midnight, if you’re that big a fan, the movie of “Ender’s Game” will come out. What you might not know is that there has been a grassroots movement, spearheaded by the folks at Geeks Out, to “Skip Ender’s Game.” I know a lot of people who have had questions and concerns about the reasons to boycott the movie, along with people who have no idea why anyone should boycott the movie. So, I sat down with one of the founding members of Geeks Out for a chat about the movie and the boycott. [Read more…] about Are You Skipping Ender’s Game- An Interview With Geeks Out
The Tribeca Film Festival 2013 is Here!
The Tribeca Film Festival is back to grace us with some awesome movie selections for everyone to check out from April 17th – 28th. This is the 12th year the film festival will return to lower Manhattan and if you can snag some tickets to any films make sure you do so ASAP because screenings are selling out as we speak. Some of the highly anticipated films this year are Julie Delpy’s Before Midnight (The sequeal to her films Before Sunrise and Before Sunset), Adult World (starring Emma Roberts and directed by Scott Coffey), Flex is Kings (a doc focusing on Brooklyn’s “Flex” dance movement directed by Diedre Schoo and Michael Beach Nichols), and Big Bad Wolves (an Israeli serial killer flick where the killer may be the one killed directed by Navot Papushado and Aharon Keshales). The festival opens on Wednesday, April 17th, with the screening of Mistaken for Strangers which focuses on an indie band, The National, from Brooklyn.
If your cash is tight, or if you’d rather just chill out at home and avoid the crowds the Tribeca Film Festival has options for you to still take advantage of this New York tradition. People across the country will be allowed to access the Tribeca Online Festival and Tribeca Film’s on-demand offerings throughout the festival’s run this year. The Tribeca Online Festival will provide free streaming of the following seven films: Alias Ruby Blade: A Story of Love and Revolution, Lil Bug & Friendz ( For the cat lover in you!), Farah Goes Bang, and short films like RPG OKC, Delicacy, The Exit Room, and A Short Film About Guns. These films will all be accessible via tribecaonlinefestival.com and audiences can vote for their favorites with the winners receiving $16K in prize money. So all is not lost if you prefer to chill in the house and you’re sick of Netflix! You can easily check out the Tribeca Online Festival.
If you happen to be in the New York area, but are suffering from a lack of funds (aka ain’t nothing going on but the rent!) and want to get out and enjoy the recently arrived spring weather, the Tribeca Film Festival will be screening the following films for FREE for your enjoyment:
|Friday||4/19||8:00 PM||Tribeca Drive-In (World Financial CenterPlaza)||FREE|
|And The Band Played OnSaturday||4/27||3:30 PM||SVA Theater 1 Silas||FREE W/ TICKET|
Alberi (Short Film)
|Saturday||4/20||5:00 PM||MoMa PS1’s VW Dome||FREE|
|Thursday||4/18||8:00 PM||Tribeca Drive-In (World Financial CenterPlaza)||FREE|
Stand Clear of the Closing Doors
|Saturday||4/27||7:00 PM||MoMA PS1 Rockaway||FREE|
Lil Bub & Friendz
|Saturday||4/20||8:00 PM||Tribeca Drive-In (World Financial CenterPlaza)||FREE|
Hey, even if you do have cash why not save it for drinks at the bar after watching any of these free screenings! To check out the synopses for any of the films, buy tickets, and find directions to theaters or box offices please hit up Tribecafilm.com/festival.
OZ: The Great and Powerful Movie Review
The Wizard of Oz starring Judy Garland is one of my favorite movies of all time! The story line and imagination behind that movie captivated me at a young age. Still to this day I can recite every line and sing every song. Also, recently I had the pleasure of seeing Wicked, the Broadway play about the witches of Oz and fell in love. The story was enchanting, exhilarating, and even comedic.
So when I saw the coming attraction to Oz: The Great and Powerful I was curious to say the least. This film is a prequel to The Wizard of Oz and describes how the Wizard found his way to Oz.
James Franco starts the Wizard of Oz, a mediocre carnival magician, with a habit of flirting with the wrong women. Franco’s performance was much like his characters magic tricks, dull and insipid. His portrayal of the Wizard of Oz was lifeless and monotone. I was extremely disappointed in his performance and his depiction alone ruined the movie for me.
The plot of the movie was also lacking imagination. Mila Kunis plays Theodora who starts out as a good witch but after being scorned by the Wizard turns wicked. Yet another boring performance! Kunis lacked emotion and was not the right pick for this character. Rachel Weisz takes the role of Evanora, a wicked witch right from the beginning, and Theodora’s sister. Weisz actually did an admirable job depicting this character. Her performance was believable and her character was conniving and wicked.
Michelle Williams stars as Glinda, The Good Witch. The Wizard is decieved by Evanora to believe that Glinda was actually the Wicked Witch and, in order for Oz to take his place as King of the Land of Oz, he must kill her by breaking her magic wand.
If you aren’t confused yet, just watch the movie. The plot was a little to outrageous to click with the original story line. There are too many differences that do not add up. In this film, Emerald City is controlled by the Wicked witches, and the munchkins are only a small portion of the Oz population.
Oz: The Great and Powerful was anti-climactic and unimagined. The story line was too far off from the original outline of The Wizard of Oz, and the acting was disappointing. I was really looking forward to this movie and am sad to be so let down. I suggest saving your money and going to see Wicked instead!
Seven Psychopaths: Why Martin McDonagh’s Crime Comedy is Worth a View, but Not a Purchase.
Did you catch Seven Psychopaths last October? …yeah, didn’t think so. Martin McDonagh’s latest film certainly made back it’s modest budget of 15 million dollars, and received plenty of solid reviews, but it certainly wasn’t the talk of the cinema landscape. As a self-proclaimed film critic, I have to say that Seven Psychopaths holds a unique distinction for me, as it was the single film of 2012 that I had the most mixed feelings towards. With the film arriving on DVD and Blu-Ray today, here’s why I feel you might want to catch/skip this underrated/overrated crime comedy.
In describing the plot, it’s best to put it like this: It’s a cross between Adaptation and Pulp Fiction. Like the former of those two films, writer/director Martin McDonagh basically writes himself into the film as a fictionalized version of himself (played by Colin Farrell), who is a struggling Hollywood writer trying to complete a screenplay. He’s having writer’s block with his latest screenplay entitled Seven Psychopaths (The film is very self-referential if you haven’t noticed), and idles his time drinking and hanging out with his jerk-ass friend Billy Buckle (Sam Rockwell). The film’s action kicks in when Billy and his accomplice Hans (Christopher Walken) steal the dog of a cartoonishly insane gangster (Woody Harrelson), and Marty finds himself drawn into their hijinks. Throughout the film, we uncover the “psychopaths” that give Marty’s screenplay its inspiration.
For the uninformed, Martin McDonagh is a rather distinguised writer for both theater and film. The 42-year old McDonagh (a dual citizen of both England and Ireland) spent much of his 20s and 30s creating acclaimed plays such as The Beauty Queen of Leenane and The Cripple of Inishmaan, before deciding to turn his attention to making movies. In 2004 he wrote and directed a short film called Six Shooter which turned out to he a hell of a debut, as it won the 2005 Academy Award for best short film. His first feature film, In Bruges, came out in 2008 and proved to be a well liked dark comedy, and seemingly a sign of an illustrious film career to follow.
Seven Psychopaths is easily his most mainstream work to date, but his sense of black humor isn’t hampered too much by the commercial leanings. Filled with clever fuck-laced dialogue, parodic gangster tropes, and so-bloody-it’s-fun violence, Seven Psychopaths easily finds it’s place amongst other post-Tarantino crime films. It’s clearly not anything new, but that doesn’t keep the movie from being any less watchable. McDonagh certainly proves to be an actor’s director here, as the entire cast shines. The characters are all as playful as they are violent, which is certainly what the film’s tone is going for. Granted, the film is undeniably random and messy throughout, but the acting and scenarios are so creative that Seven Psychopaths remains highly enjoyable for 80 out of it’s 109 minutes.
…Then the final act happens and boy does it disappoint! The film’s creativity seems to suddenly dissipate, and we’re left with a half-assed shoot-out to climax the film. What’s worse, the “pivotal” moments that follow fall flat as well, and the writing just comes off as lazy. Granted, the film visually peaks in a scene that precedes the climax, but it’s still hard not to feel that the end is a bit of a cop-out. Seven Psychopaths needed to have a really crazy yet sublime ending, that would of made up for the film’s random nature, and nicely delivered its message on the arduous process of writing and re-writing a film script. Instead, what ever McDonagh was trying to say goes right out the window through a cliche-heavy ending that truly lacks spark.
So critics were right to call Seven Psychopaths a fun film (at least for the first two-thirds), but it ultimately fails as a commentary on screenplay writing. Certainly worth a view, especially if you love crime movies, but to be honest it’s difficult for me to recommend this film to very many people. It’s possibly too slow for the action movie crowd, and arthouse audiences are likely to find it too flawed or over-the-top to be worth the price of admission. For that reason…I’m gonna have to recommend that you go see In Bruges instead.