Tag Archives: movie

Hey-yy, Batter Batter Batter, Swing, Batter!

It seems to be the week for over the top analysis of movies. Do check out Larry Granillo’s deduction of which baseball game Ferris Bueller was at.

It appears obvious now that this is a real ballgame that Ferris is at, not just something recreated for a film crew. The Harry Caray play-by-play and the Braves players on the field are pretty solid evidence of that. So what game, then, are they watching? Did the Cubs win, or did Ferris sing “Danke Schön” as a way to wash away the stink of a Cubs loss?

“What’s the score?”

“Nothin’ nothin’.”

“Who’s winning?”

“The Bears.”

Fifteen Years of Hacking The Planet

Fifteen years ago today, “Hackers” – a much mocked, yet much beloved piece of mid-90’s cheese – hit theatres. Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman gave it a D, declaring it a “dismal mess”, adding “…what’s most grating about Hackers, however, is the way the movie buys in to the computer-kid-as-elite-rebel mystique currently being peddled by magazines like Wired.” Roger Ebert opted to give it 3 stars, calling it “smart and entertaining, then, as long as you don’t take the computer stuff very seriously”.

Everyone has their favorite cult movies; this one is mine. If you haven’t seen it, it’s on Netflix instant queue as of a few weeks ago. You owe it to yourself to watch this fantastical attempt at a technothriller and delight in dialog such as “Turn on your computer. Set it to receive a file.”

Continue reading Fifteen Years of Hacking The Planet

Some Thoughts On “The Happening”

Definitive Evidence I Am A Masochist

June has been a horrible month for movies. The month kicked off with the late May release of *Sex And The City*. My birthday was marred by the release of *Kung Fu Panda* and *Zohan*. *The Love Guru* and *Get Smart* came out this week.

But there’s one name in Hollywood that overshadows Mike Myers. One that defeats Sarah Jessica Parker. One that even beats down Adam Sandler. His name is M. Night Shyamalan.

After landing upon Christopher Orr’s amazing review/takedown of *The Happening*, I found myself reading excerpts to Katie over the phone during lunch.
“You *know* we now have to go see this,” she said.

Last night, faced with nothing else in the theatre on the positive side of the equation, I gathered my spite and bought two tickets to what could very well have been the worst major motion picture in the last five years.

As the company credits began – not the actual *movie credits*, but the *production company credits* – the laughter began.

It went downhill from there.

Continue reading Some Thoughts On “The Happening”

Thoughts on Southland Tales

It’s been about five hours since I left the screening for Southland Tales.

Southland Tales is the much maligned second film from Donnie Darko director Richard Kelly. It (somewhat famously) was ripped to shreds by critics at Cannes 2006 – Roger Ebert described it as “the most disastrous Cannes press screening since, yes, ‘The Brown Bunny'”. Forced back into the editing room, ST has been cut down slightly, and put into limited release this month to the sound of even more critical shredding. It’s currently holding a polarized 33% on RottenTomatoes.

I cannot begin to describe the plot. The best approximation would be to read the film’s keywords listing from IMDB, which I will reproduce here:

alternative timeline, anti conformity, apocalypse, apocalyptic, big corporation, blackmail, conspiracy, doppelganger, dream like, dystopic future, ensemble, fourth of july, friendly fire, future noir, government corruption, heat wave, ice cream truck, kidnapping, marxism, metaphysics, near future, nuclear weapons, political, porn star, riot, satire, split personality, surveillance, time travel, zeppelin

My initial impression, upon the credits rolling, was that it is the most gloriously incomprehensible movie to come from someone not named David Lynch I have ever seen. And I’d like to stick by that, if you don’t mind – it feels like a Lynch film, certainly more parts Mulholland Drive than parts Eraserhead.

I’ve certainly found RottenTomatoes to be wrong before, but I’ll be honest: there exists a significant chance that you could hate this movie. It is, as many reviewers on both sides of the fence pointed out, a mess. There exists a significant chance you’ll dislike it. It’s not mainstream, and possibly not even acceptable enough for the “underground”.

But, to remain honest, I did love it. Even amongst the mess, I found reasons to laugh, to be afraid, to cringe, and to smile. Within the busy backgrounds and near sensory overload lay extra jokes, bits of story lines, and small details for those paying attention. It is a movie that, in some small way, rewards NADD.

To tweak a line from the Boston Globe, it is a messy movie for our messy times. And for that, I recommend Southland Tales.

The King Of Kong

Few associate them with kill screens, an arcade in New Hampshire, and an electronic ape. (Call it the Moore/Gore effect.)

I had the chance on Friday to see *[The King Of Kong: A Fistful Of Quarters](http://billyvssteve.com/)*. The story documents the history, the hysteria, and the unintentional hilarity surrounding [Twin Galaxies’ Donkey Kong record](http://www.twingalaxies.com/index.aspx?c=22&pi=2&gi=3852&vi=22) and the two main players involved, Billy Mitchell and Steve Weibe.

It does hit a little close to home – and not just because of VJA and PNN. There’s a bit near the beginning with a [Funspot](http://www.funspotnh.com/) employee proudly declaring his vices:

> “I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t do drugs – I play video games. Which I think is a far superior addiction to any of those other ones!

As soon as he finished, I knew the words that were to immediately escape Katie’s lips: “THAT IS SO YOU.” Guilty as charged.

The film is currently open in four cities, and [is rapidly widening](http://billyvssteve.com/tickets/). If you have the chance to see it, please do. It’s hard to not enjoy.

Are You McLovin?

Today, I was talking to [Matty](http://www.capndesign.com/) about [Superbad](http://www.areyousuperbad.com/). So sure, the original trailer is great, but the “red band trailer” (distinguished by the red MPAA screen) is fantastic, possibly even the stuff of legend.

But [the YouTube link](http://youtube.com/watch?v=FPc28FASaEE) I had posted before has been pulled. Now, seemingly, the only way to get at it was through the official site’s [age verification section](http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/superbad/site/agegate/index.html).

An abridged list of things we’ve learned on the Internet in the last ten years:

* CAPTCHAs don’t work.
* Cats are simultaneously hilarious and adorable.
* Anti-spam methods don’t work.
* Talking like an idiot never goes out of style.
* Age verification methods don’t work.

I’d like to focus on the last one, obviously.

The form to verify your age looks something like this:

The fine print on the same page reads:

>I understand that I am allowed to enter the Restricted Area only if I am 18 years or older and have a valid driver’s license. To verify my age, I hereby authorize Verification Financial Assurance Corporation (“VeriFAC”) to confirm the accuracy of the information I have provided against government-issued records. I acknowledge that the information I am providing on this page will not be collected by Sony and that it will only be accessed and used by VeriFAC to verify my age and for no other purposes.

So you have to have a driver’s license and be 18 or older. It would be easy to question the wisdom of forcing people to have a license to operate a motor vehicle to view an awesome movie trailer, but let’s not argue with that decision. It’s not like kids could just use their parents details – no kid under 18 knows their parents first *and* last names, let alone their birth day and their zip code. That’s some strong four-factor authentication.

Anyhow, the truly amusing part for me is that so much of the original trailer revolves around one character (Fogell, played by the incredibly named Christopher Mintz-Plasse) getting a fake ID with the name “McLovin” on it.

In what may be the greatest wasted opportunity in movie web site hisotry, the form does not successfully validate if you use a last name of “McLovin”, with a birth date of 06/03/1981 and a zip code of 96820. You get an error complaining that you didn’t fill out the first name field. Jesus, people, don’t you get it? He doesn’t even *have* a first name. HE **IS** McLOVIN.

I guess all you kids under 18 are out of luck if you want to watch [the red band trailer](http://flash.sonypictures.com/video/movies/superbad/site/SB_redband.flv), and you’ll have to wait till you’re older to see the DVD of what may be the greatest summer movie of all time. Sucks to be you, kids.

Sucks to be you.

Gentlemen – BEHOLD!

Over the last week, an acquaintance posted Kurt Vonnegut’s Rules For Short Story Writing. Number 7 starts with “Write to please just one person.”

This is not a short story, nor a short film, nor anything that could really be treated as art. This is another stupid mashup. But if it pleases just one person, I will feel at least mildly pleased.

Last week, Katie and I went to see [Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters](http://www.adultswim.com/shows/athf/movie/index.html). I will spare you more of a review than to say that if you’ve ever liked ATHF, you will enjoy this movie. And if you haven’t ever watched ATHF, or have never enjoyed it, you will hate this movie.

Anyhow. During the movie, a plot device of the movie is nearly always accompanied by a somewhat catchy dance tune. I checked the soundtrack after returning home, and the song is titled “I Like Your Booty (But I’m Not Gay)”.

The following bullet points explain my train of thought after learning this.

* That’s fucking hilarious. And this song IS good.
* You know, the beat is pretty well defined. This would be easily manipulated by most music programs.
* This is easy mashup material. But what do I mash it with? What’s a song I won’t mind ruining?
* Of course. Daisuke.

[Daisuke](http://vjarmy.com/wiki/index.php/Daisuke) may be the most joked about Beatmania IIDX song in history, largely due to its over-the-top para para video.

I loaded everything into my freshly upgraded Ableton Live 6, and started hacking the bones. Fifty minutes later, I had compelling evidence that I need help.

So, ladies and gentlemen: I give you Insane-O-Flex vs. Y&Co. I give you my seventh (good lord) mashup. I give you…

I Like Your Booty, But Daisuke

Previous Bemani-related mashups:

* [The Bingo Roaster](http://vjarmy.com/mashup/bemani/01%20The%20Bingo%20Roaster.mp3)
* [Night Of QQQ](http://vjarmy.com/mashup/bemani/02%20Night%20Of%20QQQ.mp3)
* [Tracing Your Deadlines](http://vjarmy.com/mashup/bemani/03%20Tracing%20Your%20Deadlines.mp3)
* [Valesynctorian](http://vjarmy.com/mashup/bemani/04%20Valesynctorian.mp3)
* [Let Them Dunk](http://vjarmy.com/mashup/bemani/05%20Let%20Them%20Dunk.mp3)
* [TEXTURE66](http://vjarmy.com/mashup/bemani/06%20TEXTURE66.mp3)

Tideland: Notes And Thoughts

[The Museum of the Moving Image](http://www.ammi.org/) tonight presented a preview of Terry Gilliam’s new film, [Tideland](http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0410764/), as well as a Q&A with Gilliam himself. As a long-standing Gilliam fan, this was something resembling a dream come true.

Some notes from the Q&A:

* He described taking on *The Brothers Grimm* as being “desperate for work”, although he said he wasn’t disappointed with the product so much as the process.
* *Tideland* was edited at the same time as *Brothers Grimm*.
* He came across Tideland in the pile of materials he is sent from people he doesn’t know. The author had only sent it to get a quote for the jacket, but Terry was immediately pulled in to the book and wanted to make the film. He did provide a jacket quote of “Fucking Marvelous!”.
* *Tideland* was a joy to make: the crew was great, the producer left him alone to shoot the movie however he wanted, and they filmed in Saskatchewan, which was basically as far away from “the world” as they could get.
* The only substantial difference between the book and the movie is that the movie is not shot in the first person. This adds some tension, and makes the movie a bit more “difficult” than the book. Part of the reason for this was because Gilliam wanted to avoid traditional narrative films. He complains that movies are too similar in rhythm anymore, like pop songs.
* He considers the movie a “litmus test of people”. He knows some people will love it, and some people will hate it – he really just wants to get people thinking. He has had “some wonderful almost-fistfights over the film”.
* Jeff Bridges has the major prop of the film sitting in his garden. I will not spoil what this is, but if you see the movie, you’ll be able to figure it out without too much difficulty.
* He had nothing but kind words about [Jodelle Ferland](http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0272706/); he claimed that the dynamic on set was reversed, so that he was the kid and she was the adult.
* The most surprising question of the night was when someone asked if he had any words for aspiring filmmakers who wanted to follow in footsteps. In extremely strong terms, he said that it was nearly impossible: that he was the last of a dying breed; that even he is having problems funding his movies or getting distribution deals; that the studios are in a panic; that independent studios are a sham and owned by the major studios. He was actually getting choked up while laying it out this bluntly.

As for the movie: in my eyes, it was glorious. It is certainly not for everyone, and requires a fairly open viewpoint on the world. This isn’t because anything in the movie is terribly controversial, but because it’s a true picture of how children deal with a strange world around them (instead of the way movies tend to paint them). With a lovely score, a strong cast (Jodelle is in practically every scene), and absolutely gorgeous cinematography, Tideland will certainly please Gilliam fans, and will probably baffle more than a few people along the way.

Tideland opens in New York on Friday, October 13th.

The Wizard DVD Sucks

Ladies and gentlemen, I come to you with important news.

For a number of people in my generation – plus those generations one above and one below me; people roughly between the ages of 18 and 30 – the impending DVD release of [The Wizard](http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0098663/), the 1989 video game opus was welcome news.

I came across a copy of the DVD today, and I nearly squealed in joy to pick it up. The actual release isn’t scheduled until August 29th, and while the store is notorious for breaking street dates, there’s always a rush to get your hands on something early. But something struck me oddly: why was it only $11.99? I turned the DVD over, and noticed very quickly: *there were no extra features listed on the back*.

I bought it anyhow. Hey, $12 for a piece of my youth is chump change – and besides, there might be features on it and they just didn’t list it.

I inserted the disc when I returned home a short while ago and was greated with this menu:

My jaw dropped. Okay, fine, no special features, but…no scene select?

I clicked Languages with the slightest hint of hope. It was quickly eliminated.

So congratulations, Universal Studios Home Video – you had a chance to do some serious cult-market long-tail sales with this film. People wanted commentaries with Jenny Lewis and Fred Savage, making-of information, **anything**. And you blew it. You didn’t get the star.

And if you don’t believe me and my screenshots, Rotten Tomatoes confirms it.

I cannot love this DVD. It’s so bad – in the exact opposite way of the Power Glove. Fellow gamers, heed this warning well – The Wizard DVD will break your heart.