Wednesday, July 23, 2008

flux capacitor!

So, as usual, things are all kind of jumbled and up in the air right now. I finally turned 21, and celebrated with a Tuesday night bar-hopping in Old Town Pasadena, followed by a three-day weekend celebrating with friends in Vegas by letting sweaty/gay/married/all of the above guys grind at/on us. Needless to say, I think I'm done with Vegas for a little while. I also finished up my internship at Universal Pictures Production/Development, but I am still in the office this week filling in as an executive assistant. So, things are, as they say, in flux right now.

On August 30th, I will be flying out to Sydney, Australia, where I will be living for a little over four months. It is my long-anticipated opportunity to get away from L.A. on my own for a while, and have some time to focus on my writing and really grow up, post-college. I will continue to update this blog as my media intake will not diminish, but I will probably be seeing movies and TV after y'all in the U.S. do. Also, I will be keeping a blog at that will be a travel blog about living in Sydney.

Monday, July 7, 2008

"it's the cane from citizen kane!"

Happy 100th post, reader(s)! On this momentous occasion, I am going to review the "greatest film ever made," because a) that seems very symbolic and b) coincidentally I have recently viewed it thanks to Netflix.

A degree in film studies and with many years of movie-watching under my belt, I had managed to get to 2008 without having ever seen Citizen Kane. I've seen sequences of it in various classes about directing and narrative, but managed to never quite know what the movie was about. As the opening credits began, I thought about how strange it was that I knew what "rosebud" was, but not even what actors were in the movie (imagine my surprise at the end credits to learn that Welles was an actor, too! They never should have given me honors in film studies... [/backdoorbragging]).

Now, it's almost impossible to review a classic film at this late stage, so all I can really say is that if you haven't yet seen Citizen Kane, make sure to do so very soon. The acting is wonderful, the makeup on aging the actors was really impressive, and the directing talent of Orson Welles is unlike anything I've seen. You can open up any book about him, or classic cinema, or directing, and read about his style from people who know more about it than I do. I was just shocked at how excellent some of the shots were that he was in, but I've always been impressed by directors who are in their films (and do it well). Also, the inspired use of special effects was definitely monumental at the time, and still impressive to this day.

Sometime in the next few days, I'll be watching Touch of Evil and also The Third Man, to get a sort of "Orson Welles' greatest hits" experience. I'll let you know how that goes.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

hello, dolly!

If I had written my review of Wall-E right after I'd seen it on Friday night, I can pretty much guarantee that the whole thing would have read like "AwwwOooohCuuuuteSweeetSqueeee!~" so you can all be grateful that I gave myself a few days to absorb all of the animated awesomeness compounded in this Pixar treat. I have often wondered what it is about me that animated movies never seem to stick with me. Other than Dumbo and The Little Mermaid, I was not a Disney fanatic as a child like most little girls, and any of the ones that I've seen as an older viewer just haven't made much of an impression on me. But when I saw ten minutes of Wall-E roaming around the wasteland of Earth at Comic Con 2007, I was hooked.

The movie is more than I could have expected in every aspect. The animation was more ambitious than anything I've ever seen, the characters were more adorable and sympathetic than you'd think could have an impact on jaded grownups like yours truly, and the messages conveyed by the simple storytelling were both meaningful and impressively portrayed. I'll break it down into those categories from here on it, or else it will devolve into the oohs and aahs I'm trying to avoid.

As far as animation is concerned, there are people who know much more about the history and technology of animated films that will tell you how impressive this latest effort from Pixar is. As far as I am concerned, it looked as if each item had a team of experts working with the animation team to ensure accuracy. The starscapes and glimpses of the sky were incredibly rendered, reminiscent of the beautiful images of the ocean in Finding Nemo. The mechanics of the robots were smooth or clunky when required, and very impressive. Reflections off of EVE's curved surfaces, or the minute working parts in Wall-E's "house" were all very believable.

The characters were incredibly well fleshed-out, considering that most of them had no flesh to begin with. (chortle) Every small movement or action added to my understanding of who Wall-E has become in his years of solitude, and his actions which related to EVE were understandable without being pathetic. When he is on the space station, the way in which he compulsively introduces himself to everyone he meets, and indelibly affects their lives in doing so, really said a lot about the humanity of this small robot. The human characters were exceptionally well performed, and I liked how their inherent goodness cohesed with the underlying message of the movie. Even the Hal-inspired actions of Autopilot were terrifying while still being the product of a programmed command, instead of a personified computer villain. As for EVE, the moment when she got to watch the security footage of Wall-E tending to her was absolutely heartbreaking, and beautifully animated.

Certainly, the movie's message about conservation and what could happen to Earth and to humans if we let our consumption get out of hand, was strongly present throughout. Showing the Captain learning about what life was once life on Earth softened the edge of the cutting social criticism, because once any good person really thinks about working a little bit harder to do the right thing, the line, "I don't want to survive, I want to live!" really resonates. The only problem, I guess, would be the criticism of big corporations, coming from Disney and Apple, which is very reminiscent of this "biting" satire.

Please, please see Wall-E. It was a very exciting moment in movies and in animation, and I can't wait to see it again.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

você não gostaria de mim quando tenho fome

Recently, after being gypped out of attending a free screening of Marvel Enterprises and Universal Pictures' The Incredible Hulk, I decided that I wanted to see it enough to drive to the theater and pay for a ticket. Having been quite pleasantly surprised with Iron Man, and not as a critical a viewer of Ang Lee's Hulk from 2003, I figured that this movie would fall somewhere in between in terms of enjoyability. I felt that it was just as exciting as Iron Man, if not as "cool." And where Ang Lee's style was really great, everything was just much more vibrant in this latest iteration.

I'd like to expand upon my previous statement that The Incredible Hulk wasn't that "cool." There were some moments in the Brazilian favela, or when Stan Lee made a cameo, or whenever Tony Stark / Stark Industries was involved, that were shiver-inducingly cool. Even for someone like me who knows very little about the Marvel canon. But let's face it - Hulk is not a very sexy superhero. So I can see why the young male target demographic would be more into the "Hulk smash" aspect of things, which this movie had plenty of. The final battle between Hulk and Abomination was definitely exciting, and even cringeworthy at times (Hulk tears out Abomination's own arm bone and STABS HIM WITH IT).

As for the portion of the audience that I represent, I was very much taken with Ed Norton and Liv Tyler in their roles. Liv, as Betty, dripped with such compassion that I couldn't help but want to aid Bruce Banner in his quest for freedom. At the end of the movie, I was left unsure about how cognizant Bruce is when he's turned into the Hulk, because he seemed to be learning about who he is and what his relationships are with others as the story progressed.

Most importantly, The Incredible Hulk left me excited for the inevitable sequel. Tim Blake Nelson, as Samuel Sterns, is apparently going to be the next villain in the franchise, which I think would be incredible because he's got this great scary weirdness to him that would be really cool in a role like that. As far as other Marvel movies coming up, it will be interesting to see how this network of films will build up to a vehicle for the Avengers, which both The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man have been hinting towards.