Friday, June 26, 2009

Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen: The AMERICAN Movie

Michael Bay is going to make millions of dollars off of Transformers 2 and it’s all my fault. I went into the theatre knowing I wasn’t going to be entertained. Knowing I’d be upset. Knowing I had a good chance at being offended while at the same time being bored to tears. Transformers 2 might be the worst movie I’ve ever seen because of how little it aspires to be. At least Troll 2 was under the delusion they were bringing something good into the world. At least Jules and Jim made sense from a technical standpoint. Transformers 2 fails even to be something I’d consider a movie. The pace is gone, the acting boasts the level of talent expected from a kindergartner, the story feels like it might have been blocked out by a kindergartner, and the scenes where robots fight and shit blows up are confusing and overlong. Also, I have way more problems with it than that.

This movie is raaaacist. I thought I’d seen the worst I could see back in the days of Dumbo. When racism was kind of expected. This is 2009. Well into the 21st century. Having two overtly stereotypical uneducated black-like characters in a movie today sets us back a good 90 years. Oh, and there was a black deli worker with severe tooth-bucking yelling about money. And a suspiciously Eastern theme plays over a Chinese man eating noodles. And, why not, a mime in Paris butting into a family enjoying escargot. The line “we don’t do much readin’” should be spoken by a blind character, not a character built to offend. 

This movie has too much Megan Fox. “Too much Megan Fox? But Eric, she’s hot!” I will agree with you there, nameless stranger, when she doesn’t have that frighteningly steely look on her face she is able to be attractive in the bosom and backside regions, but Bay crams so much Fox into this movie that it starts to feel like a joke. Pandering as hard as he could to the audience Bay gave us a stumbling panty-flashing Megan Fox, a bra-less Megan Fox running down stairs, a Megan Fox letting it all hang out as she crawls around on the desert floor, and a Megan Fox splaying herself out across a motorcycle in Daisy Duke cut-offs. I swear a few of her lines were untranslatable, but execs must have said “screw it, she’s Megan Fox” and left them in. And a robot furiously humps her leg for a while. That’s the allegorical representation of your lust, Transformers audience.

This movie will not convince Michael Bay he is a bad bad filmmaker. He’s going to get as rich as a king off of it, and he’ll say to all of those who dismiss it as garbage: “It wasn’t meant to be more than a blockbuster smash, and I’m loaded because of it, so I win”. Then he’ll chuckle, or he’ll smirk, or he’ll stab you in the face, or swipe your legs out from under you, because he is a slimeball in the worst respects.

This movie has product placement as tall as a giant. I’d say Bay aims at some Godardian self-reference when he puts a giant poster for Bad Boys II in Shia LeBeouf’s dorm room, but it isn’t, it’s him being a smug asshole, and probably hoping it’ll remind a few slobs that it’s available to buy from the discount bin at any of their nearest supermarkets. And all the LG stuff I’m supposed to want to purchase now? And all the cars? Shia even name-drops State Farm Insurance. Let the products breathe for a second. Jeez.

This movie was written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. They also wrote Star Trek. I liked Star Trek. I hated this. Looks like these guys don’t have any bit of pull, and I’ll gladly wonder how much of what I liked about Star Trek is entirely indebted to J. J. Abrams, and how little the writers made it shine. Speaking of Abrams, I wonder if Bay decided to add a ton more lens flares after hearing how well Star Trek’s did. Sure, sure, they use lens flares in other movies, but there were a lot towards the beginning. Some didn’t even make sense. Anyway, not a real point, just suggesting.

This movie pretends a big dog getting humped by a small dog is funny. Then it begs you to think it’s funny for a second time. Then a robot humps Megan Fox. There’s also miserable attempts at clever innuendo. Ha. Sorry. I know it wasn’t trying to be clever. It was just trying to be innuendo. Which it was, but it wasn’t good, and it shouldn’t have been there, along with everything else in this movie. 

This movie is 2 and a half hours long. It feels like it lasts for days, but no, it’s only 2 and a half hours long. 2 and a half hours of Shia screeching “Bumblebee!”, and robots doing things that don’t make sense, and characters explaining things so that they’ll make less sense, and the military arming itself to basically contribute nothing to the battles aside from more explosions. It’s almost as long as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and that movie at least has Brad Pitt in it. This movie doesn’t have Brad Pitt. In fact:

This movie doesn’t have Brad Pitt. And it lasts for 2 and a half hours. 

This movie makes me spend too much time talking about it. I’ll hurry things up. the action is incomprehensible. Shouldn’t you know what’s going, and who is doing what for what reason, when there are actually sides fighting against each other? Most of the movie is exposition. Let’s say the whole movie was. The cinematography made me want to pick up a camera and reshoot the damn thing. They canted it sometimes. Canted. And it spun around and around and around, but for what? And one of the plot points is Shia not saying “I love you” to Megan Fox? Fuck that. Finally, who gives a shit about robots? They’re robots you almost can’t give a shit about, these robots. I hate they so much. John Tuturro and Rainn Wilson are in this. Bah. 

In closing, if you like this movie you are a terrible person. It did do one good thing for me: made me fantasize about better movies. Cloverfield poster in the background? Why yes, that was a better movie than this. Girl on guys crotch? That did remind me of Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm. Terrible action movie I couldn’t enjoy? That did remind me of when I enjoyed the terrible action movie Live Free or Die Hard. Fuck this movie.

 - Eric T. Voigt, Almost Couldn’t Finish This... I Still Feel Unclean

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hell Yes I Saw It

Watch this first.

I saw After Last Season at the Cinemark Tinseltown in North Aurora, Illinois (one of only four theaters screening this odd little duck). The venue, replete with labyrinthine hallways and gaudy décor, unnerved me like a demented cartoon misremembered from my youth, and in many ways this film achieved the same end: I figure years from now, after it’s had the chance to achieve cult status, I’ll think back on After Last Season, and I’ll do so with a bitter taste in my mouth.

The film, written, directed, produced and shot by Mark Region and starring a cast of unknowns, concerns the strange goings-on at a medical center and the surrounding town. The plot involves a ghost and a string of murders, and that’s about all I’ll say, because there isn’t much actually happening here.

When my friends and I first saw the somewhat (emphasis on “somewhat”) buzzed-about trailer for this film a few months ago, we thought it had to be a joke. Surely the actual film couldn’t be so tedious, so technically poor. Well, it is. I walked away from it feeling the filmmakers must have purposefully called attention to the ridiculously shoddy set design, laughable special effects, and amateur performances (watch especially for Tristan Cole as Eric Nelson, villain of the year, if not this whole damn century). It’s as if Region’s deliberately spotlighting his shoestring budget.

However, this stylistic decision, if that is indeed what it is, does After Last Season no favors. It’s simply not that interesting. The characters often hold long discussions regarding things with little bearing on the film as a whole, which ideally wouldn’t seem so bad (after all, people take part in mundane conversations all the time, and often enough this makes for surprisingly engaging cinema), but here these hyper-dull exchanges occur so frequently that after a while they just sound like white noise.

Perhaps worse are the animated sequences. These are supposed to illustrate Sarah Austin’s (Peggy McClellan) thoughts, and Region spends a lot of time showing them off. I’m not sure if Region saw some artistic merit in these outdated renderings, but most of the time I just felt like I was watching a screensaver. But still worse is the “twist” that occurs immediately after all the awful animation. I won’t give any details about said “twist” (and the quotes are a must in referring to it), but when it happened I thought, “I sat through that for this?”

I don’t know what to expect from this film in the future. Maybe it’ll find a wider audience, and if it does, maybe it’ll become another cult film known for its badness, like Troll 2 or The Room. I have a sneaking suspicion this is what Region set out to create in the first place. Maybe someday select theaters will host midnight screenings of this film, and the seats will be filled with fans shouting, “They’ve got, uh, printers in the basement you can use.” 

Friday, June 5, 2009

Jonah Hill and Max Winkler To Have Director for A Comedy Film

New film The Adventurer's Handbook written by Jonah Hill and Max Winkler has signed NOT Nicholas Stoller of Forgetting Sarah Marshall to direct, but Lonely Island's Akiva, with Jason Schwartzman acting in it. Awesome.

- Eric T. Voigt, This Eases The Pain of The Hangover

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Death To The Tinman: Influence, Ho!

Death To The Tinman is a short film by Ray Tintori. Apparently his thesis film during undergraduacy, it is quite my cup of tea. Smart. Funny. Ambitious. Irreverant. Let us watch:

Death To The Tinman (via Slashfilm's article)

Peter Sciretta mentions in his article that Tinman is strongly influenced by Wes Anderson and Guy Maddin. He's dead right. The whole of the film's story-telling style is unmistakably Andersonian, from The Royal Tenenbaums-esque narration/character introduction to the camera work and score. But they're great. That's why they work for Wes Anderson. To the Guy Maddin comparison? Black-and-white, fantasy crossing with reality, and title card. The shoddy special effects and green screen. Bing. Bang. Boom. Crystal clear influences.

BUT that doesn't make this film a rip-off, or unimaginative, or the slightest bit bad. It's great. Tintori is developing feature lengths? More power to him. His influences may be blatant, but his creativity and originality are as well. He takes from the greats, sure, but he adds upon them, and his own unique vision is fully realized. A student film is bound to have touches of other films, cough cough my first short's Michel Gondry influence cough cough. I'm trying not to defend the guy, but I'm defending the guy. This short was awesome.

- Eric T. Voigt, Rushed That Because Lunch Is Over

The Face of Our Generation

Soak it in. Soak. It. In.

Front to Back: Seth Rogen, Bill Hader, Paul Rudd, Jason Segal, Jonah Hill and Michael Cera.

Thanks, Dan Park, for this fine fine piece of art. And thanks slashfilm for finding it for me.

- Eric T. Voigt, Happy Now?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Grizzly Man and Wild Strawberries: Action Movie Night!

"I believe the common denominator of the universe is not harmony, but chaos, hostility and murder." - Werner Herzog, Grizzly Man

"The punishment is loneliness." - Sten Alman, Wild Strawberries
I watched Grizzly Man tonight. Werner Herzog pieces together the story of Timothy Treadwell, who died at the hands of everything important in his life, and documented many of his steps toward death. He went into death knowingly, but not necessarily willingly. He is caught at his most candid, and his insecurities and his neurosis and his anger is painted boldly in this severely moving documentary. It's morbid, but it's thoughtful and sympathetic. Timothy's life with the bears is scrutinized by those closest to him, and those who he can never meet. Herzog's grim philosophical musings color the film, and counter Treadwell's eccentric, giddy self-recorded encounters with the wild. Treadwell is an important figure to... anyone who has ever even pretended to question how suited they are for the real world, and thinks of escaping it in the smallest way. The film has left me feeling shaken, but definitely a shaken-for-the-better. A must see of must sees.
As for Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries this is a film that presents dreams in the most realistic way I've seen outside of my own dreams. It's kind of weird, how he gets perfectly the melding of daily experiences with bizarre imagery and inner-most frights and feelings. It may just be a good representation of the way I dream, though. Even the passage of time, and from space to space, is accurate to the tee. Outside of the dreams it's lightly funny, and heavy on the introspection, and wishes for days lost. A tale of redemption. Eventually. I'd buy it, if thats what you're asking.

- Eric T. Voigt, Proud American

Dumb News: Something About The Warriors Being Remade or Whatever

The news that I hadn't heard before is the new Warriors is going to be set in Los Angeles, not New York. So that's kind of useless. Isn't the New York subway system basically a character in The Warriors? But that isn't the problem. The problem is that there's a remake of The Warriors going on. On top of that Tony Scott, the director of Deja Vu and The Taking of Pelham 123 remake, is responsible.

This is a dumb idea, Tony Scott. You want to make a film that takes a realistic look at gang life in Los Angeles and call it The Warriors? You're dumb. It's a cheesy movie set in the future with gangs that dress like mimes and baseball players. It has not a touch of realism. You're so dumb, Tony Scott.

- Eric T. Voigt, Wishes He Had Tony Scott's Budget

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Making Of: Gold Mine of Information?

Slashfilm's Page 2 featured an interview with Darren Aronofsky about screenwriting, and his process. It took me to a page with many more interviews, with the likes of Michel Gondry, and Natalie Portman, and David Gordon Green, and even Ron Howard, who I didn't care about. Could this be some sort of gold mine of director/writer interviews? They all look quite recent, too. Score? Score.

 - Eric T. Voigt, More a Post For Myself To Remember the Site

Everyone Loves Where the Wild Things Are, Stupid

We Love You So continued to toot its own well-earned horn by posting a one-year-old's response to the Where the Wild Things Are trailer. In real time. With the trailer playing in the corner, and the child's face taking center stage. It's pretty cute.

One-Year-Old Gram Watches Where the Wild Things Are Trailer And Loves It


- Eric T. Voigt, Wild Things Gonna Rooooooock

Monday, June 1, 2009

New Moon Trailer: Not New 'Moon' Trailer

If only they had that kind of chemistry on the big screen.

Twilight "saga" favorite New Moon has a trailer:

New Moon Trailer

Just like a New Moon to spring out of nowhere right when you're getting over the choppy editing, sloppy camera work and gloppy? acting of Twilight. This brief look at the sequel shows signs of improvement in cinematography, I feel. Everything has a bit more vibrance. No more harsh whites and blues. Not that it looks good. And is it just me, or does Kristen Stewart look old? Way older. She's roughly my age, and I get that puberty strikes different people at different times, but it's slightly unnerving. Also, check out the pecks on Jacob. I'm sure his boy-to-wolf transformation is worlds better than it would have been under Catherine Hardwicke's control, what with this director, Chris Weitz, having worked in the realm of fantasy film before. It won't bring me into a theatre to see it, but it won't actively push me away. Still, I frown at you, New Moon. I frown so big.

Why am I showing you this now? Because you're such a good friend. Guess what film I'm trying to reference, and win a shirt!

- Eric T. Voigt, First Post of June