Thursday, April 30, 2009

Happy Death Day, Edwin S. Porter!

You did it! You're dead! And long dead, at that. Since 1941. I hope you've had plenty of chances to roll in your grave, old chap. Do you remember, way up in Heaven, when you donned that hat, and pointed what was probably a fully-working, loaded gun at a camera that took 45 minutes to capture your image, Edwin S. Porter? Does The Great Train Robbery do justice to all the imagination and ingenuity what once gushed through your mind? Some say you invented the whole wide-medium-close editing structure, or at least had an idea for it before racist D.W. Griffith, whom Arthur the aardvark's sister was aptly named for. We've missed you a while, Mr. Porter. We won't stop missing you any time soon. 

 - Eric T. Voigt, Might As Well Have Chosen Agnes Moorehead

Friday, April 24, 2009

Seven Minutes: The Brothers Bloom Intro

Hulu, in every bit of its infinite wisdom, is previewing the first seven minutes of the May-coming film The Brothers Bloom, which my very own Kevin Kern describes as having "a high-octane Wes Anderson" look to it:

Of all the 2009 films I'm eagerly anticipating, The Brothers Bloom is among my top five most anticipated. I think the others would be Moon, Where the Wild Things Are, Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Limits of Control. But I'm not talking about those, I'm talking about this. The Brothers Bloom. It's written and directed by Rian Johnson, the writer and director of Brick, which I watched again a few hours ago, and have loved all six or seven times I've watched it. I only expect equally great or better from The Brothers Bloom and judging from the fantastic opening I'm going to get what I expect.

Starting the whole thing off is narration by Ricky Jay, who also narrated the beginning of Magnolia, and whose voice is perfect for narration. It has a wised, truth-worthy feel to it. He delivers every sentence like he's handing an invaluable secret to the ear. The story opens with the Brothers Bloom as children, 10 and 13. Max Records plays Stephen, and Zachary Gordon plays Bloom. Records also stars in Where the Wild Things Are as Max this October. And these are two of the three credits to his name. I'm almost praying that Records' career will continue up this monumentally awesome slope. 

The dialogue is quick, sharp, and hilarious. One of the first shots of the film is a kitten pushing itself down a road inside a roller skate. The children deliver their lines with the confidence of their adult counterparts Adrian Brody (The Darjeeling Limited) and Mark Ruffalo (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). Starting at the past can be a bother when used incorrectly, but in this case it appears to be a smashing success.

Hopefully Hulu will draw in a larger audience for the film. It comes out the 29th of May. I'm going to see it. I'm going to see the pants off of it. 

 - Eric T. Voigt, 3.03AM

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I Think I Like You, South Korea

I'm known for publicly denouncing entire cultures, or jumping wildly overboard for them. In the case of South Korea, I have jumped wildly overboard. Starting with the comedy-horror The Host, and continuing with other Bong Joon-Ho films Memories of Murder and his segment of Tokyo!, and most recently Park Chan-Wook's Joint Security Area, I have yet to watch a contemporary South Korean film I didn't like. 

What does this mean? It probably means I really like Bong Joon-Ho, and probably like Park Chan-Wook. The trailers for their upcoming films have a say in this crazy idea. 

For Bong Joon-Ho? Some sort of crime drama where a mother has to defend her murderer son. Accused of murder, anyway.  The trailer isn't in English. Exciting!:

Bong's dealt with murder before. In Memories of Murder. That's all about murder. I'm sure he knows what he's doing with this one. As for Park Chan-Wook, I haven't actually seen much of his work. I watched part of Oldboy without subtitles, and quit because the premise is confusing enough, and far worse without knowing what they're saying. I hear great things about him, and the trailer for his next film, about a vampire, and another vampire, looks awesome. With Let the Right One In, and soon this, it looks like the age of the respectable vampire is upon us. Why can't we have a good domestic vampire film? Anyway, trailer. With no subtitles!:

I say it looks incredible. My mission now? Find more South Korean films I like. And some I don't. When it came to me hating Italy, I'd only seen four Italian films, three of which I didn't care for. Then I saw a batch I couldn't like more. Claiming to hate the cinema of an entire cinema is fun, but isn't it nicer to say you love the entire culture? Of course it is. 

 - Eric T. Voigt, Wanted To Get That Off My Chest

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Look At Two Early Stanley Kubricks: "He's A Sweetums Man, Isn't Hims?"

When I think of Stanley Kubrick, I normally think A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, 2001, and when I remember to Dr. Strangelove. But did you know he was making movies even before Spartacus in 1960, a film I always forget was his. I figured if I want to get nice and learned I might as well acquaint myself with everything he ever made. And what I saw could chill you to the bone.

First I watched Paths of Glory, a small scale World War One film dealing with the accused cowardice of a squad of soldiers, and the punishment carried out against them. It was good to begin with this because it features more staples I recognized from later Kubrick films. He makes use of long tracking shots of characters, this time in fox holes. He has bizarrely framed wide angle close-ups on characters in great emotion distress. He uses handheld camera work briefly in the fight sequences. 

Less technically, and more importantly, it touches on the madness of war. A general orders that his own men are to be fired on, and turns around and charges them with mutiny. The ending scene is a heart warming display of humanity where it's least expected. It feels like Kubrick is given permission to put his own voice and artistry into this film, even though it was all the way back in 1957, when no one knew he'd be revered as one of the greatest directors to ever live.

Both Timothy Carey and Joe Turkel, seen above (respectively), star in Paths of Glory in vital supporting roles, and in The Killing in minor supporting roles. Turkel comes back as the creepy bartender in The Shining. He's older then. Why'd I point this out? To tie into what I have to say about The Killing.

The Killing was interesting to watch after Paths of Glory because I'd expected Glory to have less of a Kubrick feel than it did, and assumed if it had so much familiar to other Kubricks, The Killing must have too. But it didn't. It plays out as a normal-to-the-times noir-ish heist film. A group of guys hang out, decide to rob a race track, and things end up not going so well. Heavy handed narration plagues the beginning, and average conventions arise throughout.

Noticing what makes most of the later Kubrick films distinctive was trickier, and therefore interested me greatly. All of the type was in Futura font, which was surprising. Handheld is used even more sparingly than in Glory. Wide shots are rarer. Direction feels a lot lazier. It was a real gas to see how far Kubrick's style came in just a year, with The Killing having come out in 1956. 

I was curious to see the difference between Stanley Kubrick in the 50s and Stanley Kubrick in the 70s. Just like his body changed drastically from svelt, be-haired young rogue to overweight, balding aged man, so followed his cinematic style. Long live the auteur theory, and long live the mid to late 1950s!

 - Eric T. Voigt, Yours Truly

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Because The World Is Not Good

An excerpt from Armond White's critical analysis of the Olivier Megaton directed, Jason Statham starring, Luc Besson written 2008 release Transporter 3:

"When Megaton makes Godardian symbolism of [Statham]'s hand retrieving a key from [Natalya Rudakova]'s, Transporter 3 evinces greater art than Van Sant's studied poetic effects."

Armond White compares the director of Transporter 3 to Jean-Luc Godard, established as one of the most inventive, talented filmmakers of the last century, a forerunner to the most important and artistically accomplished French cinema movement, as well as Gus Van Sant, responsible for the rather adorable 'Death trilogy', and last year's Milk, which probably should have taken home Best Picture next to the other nominees... 

Once again Armond White baffles the nation, and me.

 - Eric T. Voigt, part of the nation

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Moon: Trailer Moon

Moon looks like one of the coolest sci-fis I've ever seen trailer'd. It has everything. It's directed and written by Duncan Jones, the son of David Bowie. Can you get cooler than that? It has a robot voiced by Kevin Spacey, with a cute smiley face on its LCD screen to convey its emotions, since you can never tell how happy or sad Spacey is. It has a score by Clint Mansell, the composer responsible for the undeniably epic song "Lux Aeterna" and the pitch-perfect score for "The Wrestler". And it stars Sam Rockwell, a consistently solid actor.

It comes out on June 12th. Limited release. Clearly I'm going to have to find a way to see this outside of poor sweet Michigan.

Moon Trailer

- Eric T. Voigt, Moony Moon Moon

Edited by: Kevin or Alex, and then Eric again.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cherrybomb: Why Does This Interest Me SO Much?

I really don't know why this interests me so much. I think it's a mix of the music being punkish enough to appeal to me, the cinematography and overall fervor of the pace in it's editing. It looks like a lot of punching, and a lot of sex, and a lot of teenage angst, and a lot of adults acting inappropriately for their own age. The summary I yanked off of goes a little something like this: 

Cherry Bomb teenagers Luke (Sheehan), Malachy (Grint) and Michelle (Nixon) as they embark on a wild weekend of drinking, drugs, shop-lifting and stealing cars. But what starts out as a game turns deadly serious when the three discover that they can't get off the wild ride they've set in motion.

And the more simple explanation from Wikipedia:

With their exams over, best friends Malachy and Luke are out to have one hell of a summer. However, the arrival of Michelle, a captivating but troubled beauty, tests their friendship to the limit as she encourages the two boys to carry out increasingly dangerous and illegal deeds in the battle for her affections - with fatal consequences.

Now, aside from all the racy language in those summaries, they make the story sound sort of... like something I've maybe seen before? Like a more violent The Dreamers, but not really. It definitely sounds like things you've seen or heard of before. It has even a small Y Tu Mama Tambien-esque quality to it. 

I want to see it. I have this giant compulsion, and urge, and etc. to see it. And I don't even know exactly why.

 - Eric T. Voigt, "You Know What Face I'm Talkin' About?"

Monday, April 6, 2009

Poster: That's A Helmet

Most puzzling tag-line for a sci-fi film coming out in 2009. Ever.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Adventureland: For Consumption

"From the director of Superbad"? This has to be good.

I hear a lot of guff today about Judd Apatow's supposed monopoly on comedy films. A trailer will come on, Apatow's name will be mentioned, or one of his usual cohorts like Seth Rogen or Michael Cera will appear, and groans are heard. "Oh, great"s and  "Another one?"s emit from the crowd. I can name about ten comedies coming out this summer that have nothing to do with Judd Apatow. The thing is, the people that associate with him happen to be the funniest around right now. Did people complain when Bill Murray reigned over the comedy world? Possibly. But they shouldn't have.

Greg Mottola has directed his share of comedic ventures, including the mighty Superbad, and can quickly be traced back to the monopoly. But he's an entirely different beast. Adventureland, the second film both written and directed by Mottola, proves that he has a more intellectual streak than his contemporaries. A drier wit. References to Melville, Dickens, and Nikolai Gogol crop up unexpectedly. Lou Reed is revered as a sort of rock god. Of course all this happens to much mirth and merry-making for the audience. 

Adventureland captures absolutely what it's like to be a socially conscious nerdy artistic-type growing up awkwardly in a big, confusing world. During 1987. James (Jesse Eisenberg) exudes a confidence that wavers, but doesn't falter, as he struggles to make the best of his pathetic amusement park job. He falls in love with Em (Kristen Stewart), a fellow carny, and is met with devastating emotional turmoil as he juggles friendships, romance, drug abuse, and paying for graduate school.
Mottola's direction is something to behold. Small mannerisms are added to otherwise traditional performances, bringing out the humanity in the characters that make them worth caring about. The otherwise trivial problems in their lives become dire with Mottola's directing, and superb acting from the entire cast. I say this knowing Kristen Stewart is a part of it, and although I normally find her to be a mild annoyance in most films she didn't do anything to hurt this story, and I'm letting her slide on this one. 

The writing feels like it arrives through a strong understanding of coming-of-age-hood. I've read that much of Adventureland came out of Greg Mottola's personal experiences as a teen and twenty-something and the painfully awkward moments, and general growth of character personalities speak to this. Though it has less laugh-out-loud moments than predecessor Superbad, it carries as much reality and heart, and hits at a higher level of drama effectively enough to make the absence of laughter appropriate. 

The moral: Adventureland is going to be amongst my favorite films of 2009. Hold me to it. I can owe you money if I retract that statement. 

Yours truly,

 - Eric T. Voigt

Kristen Stewart and the Mystery of the Disappearing Pants

I know you have headaches. We all have headaches, honey.

Kristen Stewart is the talk of the town. Getting her foot in the door with the incomprehensibly popular Twilight, her bland, confused personality has burst into our households. She has about as many credits on talk shows as she does film credit, most of which took place over 2008. Of the released eighteen movies she stars in, a number which baffles me, I've only seen her performance in five of them: Panic Room,  Speak, Into The Wild, Twilight, and just last night Adventureland

She never has much screen presence, and I wouldn't consider her an even mediocre actress, but she does have one thing going for her. Kristen Stewart has the power to make her pants disappear at a moments notice, in any social situation. She doesn't even have to be asked. Allow me to cite proof for this conclusion.

I don't actually remember her performance in Panic Room, so I can't speak for her pantlessness/amount of pants retained in that film. I can speak for her loss of pants in Speak, though. In the made-for-Lifetime movie Speak, based on an bestselling novel, Kristen Stewart is a fourteen-year-old dealing with having been raped the previous year, and the entire school knowing about it. The rape scene shows her falling into the arms of a bro-ish type who is deaf, and doesn't know she's trying to resist his sexual advances. She quickly realizes he is deaf, and physically fights back, but the deaf boy is too into the moment, and proceeds to wrench Stewart's virginity straight out of her. 

During the rape, which is shot with a claustrophobia-inducing closeness to the violence, Kristen Stewart's pants vanish. Now, this was the third time I'd witnessed the event, so I wasn't startled. But they were gone. And I hadn't noticed the point at which they were taken off. 

Into the Wild is the clearest display of Stewart's powers. When Emile Hirsch arrives in her hippie trailer, her jeans have been strewn to the floor, and she lies seductively, or as close to seductively as she can muster, white panties on display to all the world. The poor minor's efforts to win Hirsch into her bed are futile, and her abilities prove useless in this venture. Hirsch knows better than to get mixed up with an under-eighteener, let alone one as gaunt and clueless as Kristen Stewart. 

Now comes Twilight, the film Stewart is known for, and probably the only film she'll be known for. I'm not entirely sure she's pantless. I mean, I'm almost positive she wasn't wearing pants, but they could have been really short shorts, or something similar in style. Okay. I just checked on YouTube. She's definitely not wearing pants, in the first sequence where Edward Cullen allows Bella to take a hit of his sweet vampire lips. Greyish briefs. Which I'm sure violates the book's logic. A pantless Bella in front of Edward Cullen? No way is she getting out of there alive. 

The point of this post is to point out that Kristen Stewart is pantless. A lot. Sometimes inexplicably. Sometimes with reason. Inexplicable reason. Even in Adventureland she de-pants for a swim with Jesse Eisenberg. And she's completely wet in that scene. Taking her no-pants to an entirely new level. It is my hope that Stewart fails to gain any actual respect as an actress, but continues to push her legacy of disappearing pants forward. For the good of her legs. Legs don't like being crammed into stuffy pants all the time. She knows this best.

 - Eric T. Voigt, Just Wasted Away His Chance At Grabbing Lunch