Thursday, September 30, 2010


I feel very confident about the events of the past month overall, as this site has slowly gained speed towards being something relevant. I've only published one other post today, which has to do not so much with the slow output of news today, but with the work I've been doing on branching out the different aspects of the site. Right now, you'll notice that I've moved my Oscar predictions off the sidebar and into a page of it's own, and I'll be carefully updating them within the next few day. I've also put up a page where you can find all my past reviews of films, ranging from the poorly constructed of yesteryear, to the more advanced reviews I've grown into over the past several months.

Also, this has been a record month for the site, as we've reached over 2,600 page-views for the site, and I hope that number only continues to rise. I'll continue trying to push out more new features to the site, and I'll be moving things around a bit for the next few days. Until then, thank you for the support that you've always given.

For Your Acknowledgement: Distraction

I'm still dead-focused on getting more people to take the time to see Fringe, not only because it's my favorite show on television. The series has quite obviously been flailing in the ratings arena, mostly due to the competition in its time slot. FOX obviously has enough faith to keep the show in the same slot for another season, but one can't help but wonder how long their faith will last. I'd like to see the series come full circle and end on its own terms like Lost did, but all I can do is hope that people who have strayed away over the years come back. What may bring people back is this year's formula of alternating between universes, which is very interesting because the way they have it set up makes every episode important to the over-arching mythology of the show. Here's a clip from tonight's episode set in "our universe". Also, in case you were confused about how this clip was relevant, the Olivia kissing Peter is actually an impostor from the alternate universe.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

For Your Acknowledgement: Can People Be Evil?

You may have heard very recently that I will be unable to post a review of Matt Reeves' new horror film, Let Me In, because it won't be playing anywhere near me. Believe me, if I find some way to go somewhere that is showing it this weekend, I will get a review to you as soon as humanly possible. As it is, that's not happening, and it's getting really depressing. Either way, I felt that you guys deserved something, so here's one more clip from the film. If I can't give you a personal recommendation, this film should be all the encouragement you need if you're wondering if it's worth it.

Theatrical Trailer: Skyline

Well, so much for something good coming from this film. We got a vague idea of the cheesiness of Skyline from the teaser, but they really went all out for the final trailer. It's really something else. Take a look below.

Christopher Nolan's Next IS "Batman 3"

It's been a long time since I last talked about Christopher Nolan, as he's been out of the news quite a while since Inception came out more than two months ago. This latest news has been quite obvious for some time, but never actively confirmed by him. Personally, I was worried that Nolan would leave behind his Batman franchise altogether to somebody else. Fortunately, he has reaffirmed his intent to direct the sequel to The Dark Knight, slated for release in July of 2012. As for the plot and villain of the next film, he's still keeping things as close to the chest as always. Michael Caine expects production to begin in May of next year, but I've learned to take anything reported from a source that isn't Nolan himself with a grain of salt. Nolan knows his time table, so lets trust he will have time to make it spectacular.

No "Let Me In" Review This Weekend

I am getting very easily irritated by the theaters here, because they make me doing my job infinitely more difficult than it should be. It wasn't such a huge loss when I wasn't able to go see The American. That actually turned out for the better. However, I've been looking forward to seeing Let Me In for some time now, and it looks like I'll have to wait at least another week to see it. Reviews for the film have been stunning, and I truly apologize that mine won't arrive for a while now. Does it makes any sense that instead of picking up Let Me In, the local theater is deciding to show Alpha and Omega?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Jared Harris is Moriarty in "Sherlock Holmes 2"

I feel so emphatically grateful to hear this news, because they were swinging around some brilliant names to play the main villain in the Sherlock Holmes sequel. From Brad Pitt to Daniel Day Lewis, we were almost sure we had an idea of what was in store. However, I thank Guy Ritchie for taking a complete U-turn away from expectations and choosing Jared Harris for the part. Harris has played roles that skew from amazing character-depth (Mad Men) to ridiculous insanity (Fringe), and I've loved each and every one. I can't wait to see what Ritchie and Harris have in store for us. If done not only correctly, but perfectly, I could see a Supporting Actor possibility in Harris' awards future.

Sally Menke: 1953-2010

I have some unsettling and unfortunate news today, which only aides in cementing the day in an atmosphere of misfortune. Sally Menke, the woman responsible for editing each of Quentin Tarantino's films, has been recently found dead at the bottom of a ravine. She had reportedly gone hiking, and her car was parked nearby, locked with her dog still inside. The news caught me completely off guard, and hit me like no other death this year has. Sally Menke has been nominated for two Academy Awards for editing Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds, and it kills me that we won't be seeing any more of her brilliant work. Editing is half of what makes Quentin Tarantino's films so distinctive, and after this I have no idea where he'll go from here. For now, lets take a moment to remember this amazing artist.

For Your Acknowledgement: Something About A Trombone

I feel really sorry for Let Me In this week. It has the misfortune to be overshadowed by The Social Network, a film which will mostly dominate the market this weekend. As much as I'd love to tease a clip featuring the two most primary characters, Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin, I found that of the five minutes found in clips on the internet, the one that best illustrates that whip-lash dialogue that the reviews are raving about is the one that introduces Justin Timberlake's character, Sean Parker. Take a look and let me know what you think. Don't just ignore me as if I'm just another stranger.

Monday, September 27, 2010

One Year of 'High on Celluloid'!

This is really a celebration of a rather ordinary day in my life, as I didn't have much aspirations for this site a year ago. I wasn't worried about getting noticed. I didn't think a year from then there would actually be people who went to it on a daily basis. I wasn't a great writer, and if you head back there into the archives you'll see something very rough and not that endearing. Back then, I was struggling in putting up at least one post per week. Now I try for a minimum of at least three posts a day. Back then, I kept thinking of this as simply a blog. I try to refer to it as a site from here out, as it exceeds anything simple in my view.

I really want to thank everybody who has helped the site make it this far, and I look forward to the next four years which I will be pouring into this site. That is the minimum commitment I am willing to make to the site. My goal is to have people frequently commenting on the news and reviews I put up each day, but I can't do that on my own. I want to know what you think of the news that happens each day. I need to get your input so that I know if I'm going too far out on a limb with something. I want to know more than just what I believe. I'm not the solid foundation of what is good and what is bad.

I also need the people who read this site to spread the word to as many people as possible. If you're reading this and you haven't already, head on over to the Facebook page for the site which you'll find in the sidebar under Partner Sites. One day, I'd like other site owners like Kristopher Tapley (In Contention) and Alex Carlson (Film Misery) to take a look at my site for my opinions from time to time, just as I go to their sites for theirs. Perhaps in another year I'll hire another young writer to help out with the site and express their own creative viewpoint. For now, thanks for a terrific year, and I look forward to the next.

Teaser Trailer: True Grit

Just three months before the year's end, we now have seen glimpses of all the films up for Oscar glory this year... sort of. We just got our first look at the Coen Brothers' new film True Grit, and it's not all that revealing. We see glimpses of Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, but only that. We don't get much to elaborate on, nor do we get anything hinting at the Coens' usually stunning dialogue. I like the eerie tone to this trailer, but I can't help but wonder if it's a misfire. Take a look below and tell me what you think.

Film Review: Legend of the Guardian: The Owls of Gahoole

It's not quite as distasteful a film as Never Let Me Go, but Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Gahoole runs into several problems that it doesn't mind to deal with. The film follows a barn owl with aspirations of one day becoming one of the mythical Guardians of Gahoole. This film would feel like a rather huge cop out if they didn't exist, so it doesn't play around too much with subtlety. Everything is quite literal and yet too vague. It's a film of contradictions, but it's practically made for child audiences who should love it, even though it's dark as hell and includes plenty of bloodshed.

It's a 90 minute film with aspirations of being an epic, and as such this film feels quite rushed. It tries packing too much information into such a short run-time, and despite that, I found myself almost nodding off a few times. It stumbles into the chain of events that leads through the story, rather than moving along it as its own course. It also, as hinted above, may be too violent for young viewers. Zach Snyder wanted to make a film that his children could see, but is this really the best he could do? If you're going to make a kids series as violent as this into a film, you push the intensity to the fullest extent. He doesn't, and this film falters.

However, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the beginning of this movie. The first thirty minutes or so were filled with such an epic atmosphere, and the action worked brilliantly. The music was corny throughout, but the opening utilized it best before it was repeated seventeen times over. Zach Snyder undoubtedly has a great eye for visual flourishes, and the action sequences show it best. The monsoon scene is definitely a visual high point in 3D. Unfortunately, if I had to choose between seeing Legend of the Guardians: The Owl of Gahoole (long title) again and seeing the first 90 minutes of Avatar again, I'd choose the latter.


Lost and Found: Chapter 5: Within the Hatch

Man of Science, Man of Faith: This chapter of Lost is almost like two chapters rolled into one. The first half of this chapter deals with answering the question of what’s inside the hatch. This episode picks up where the last left off, except it’s told from a perspective inside of the hatch. There could’ve been many wild theories about what was inside the hatch, but in the end, something more deadly and dangerous than “the monster” and the consequences of not pushing the button, lied inside: Desmond.

There was a degree of mystery when the hatch blew open, and it almost felt like they were opening Pandora’s box, releasing the untold evil within. While thinking long and hard about it, Desmond was the closest thing to that. He’s not a bad or evil character, but by the end of the series, we know what he’s capable of. He’s the device that could save or destroy us all. We know that there's something important about Desmond from the beginning, seeing as he met Jack off the island years beforehand. It just takes a few more years to figure out what it is.

As for everything else in the episode, it’s pretty much dragging out the exploration into the hatch until the end of the episode. John and Kate have a nice conversation about how insane they may be. At this point in the series, John is afraid of just about nothing, and is just giddy with anticipation. He wants to get into the hatch, because he feels that everything the island did for him was to get him there. He has a lot further to go, but at least for now, he has faith. Then again, it leads to him getting a gun pointed at his head, so maybe it wasn't such a great idea after all.

Adrift: There’s a shark in the water, and Lost keeps it there so it can frequently jump it. The second episode of the season is quite a step down from the premiere, and I mostly blame that on the character it features: Michael. He’s one of my least favorite characters on this show, because he never does atone for being so irritating. His flashback offers us nothing that we didn’t already know, and it took away from his other flashback in Special. His constant bickering with Sawyer on the raft doesn’t make their predicament any more endearing.

The most interesting part of this episode is the time John and Kate spent within the hatch before Jack got down there. There’s a nice altercation where John gets out of being tied up by pointing out Kate as “the dangerous one”. We also get a little more of an idea of who Desmond is after the short peek we got at him in
Man of Science, Man of Faith. It all ends the same, but it’s better than Mikey and James’ raft adventures. However, I will give duo’s screen-time one compliment. The ending with Jin running out of the jungle is one of the highlights of the episode, and opens things up for another aspect of the season.

Orientation: The events in the hatch come to a head through the lens of one of our more reliable characters, John Locke. We've known for a long time that John isn't the fearless leader we once thought him to be. He has problems like anybody else, and in most cases even worse. However, this episode really brings home the fact that Locke was not always a man of faith, and it took a long and depressing road through life to get where he is. The issue of science vs. faith has a direct line to the conflict, and though the button may just be a plot device, it's one that tests everything about the theory that John posed at the end of the last chapter.

Now that we're all the way into the hatch, we finally learn exactly what it is for. It's somewhat vague here, but the fundamental concept is that there's a button on a computer, and if it isn't pushed every 108 minutes, the world will end. Exactly how that works is never explained in the series, but my personal guess is that it makes "the source" take back all the "light" around the world, causing civilization to crumble. However, if you haven't seen the final season, you have absolutely no idea what that means. Jack thinks the button is pointless, and that it's just a mindless experiment.

Jack isn't ready to believe that everything happens for a reason, because so many of the things happening on the island seem to have no reason.
Everything comes to a head merely minutes before the timer is about to hit zero, as John and Jack reach the climax of their argument. John knows that there is a part of Jack that believes that everything is true, and it's quite emotional to see John doing everything he can to get Jack to push the button. He's trying to get Jack to make that important leap of faith that he was almost unable to make. The ending puts things in place for the rest of the season to explore the hatch.

Everybody Hates Hugo: For a character that everybody loves so much, Hugo's flashback stories aren't all that compelling. They're kind of funny, but they don't ever seem necessary. His "conflicts" on the island aren't all that urgent either. He's now given the epic responsibility of dividing the Dharma food amongst the passengers of Oceanic 815, and he doesn't like being the man with all the power. It seems a bit stupid that everybody keeps turning on him. We get that Charlie is mostly there for comic relief, but could he not be so much of a jerk all the time? What can I say about this episode? It doesn't feel like it actually happened.

: Finally, capping off this chapter of Lost, however much of a burn out it may have seemed, we learn a little bit more about Shannon. I have to admit that I sympathized with her flashback a lot more than I did with Boone's. Boone was actually really irritating when you think about it. His biggest dilemma was that he slept with his step-sister? I think we could've lived without that. However, this episode really redeems Shannon's attitude over the series so far. Then it kills her in a twist that is actually quite sad. This leads us into the second main factor of the season: The Tail-Section passengers.

Oscar 2010: The Blitz

This year's Oscar race is going to get intense within the next few months. Right now, most people are feeling quite confident in their predictions, despite the fact that they might change in a heartbeat if a monumental release comes and steals the show. However, I think it's a pretty safe bet to say that the main conflict in this year's race is going to be between Tom Hooper's The King's Speech and David Fincher's The Social Network. 127 Hours was getting some good fuel from Telluride and Toronto and has a decent chance at snagging a nod, but it's nowhere near the potency necessary to take on the top two.

It is mostly a matter of filling up the seven remaining spots, which isn't at all an easy feat to accomplish. Winter's Bone is still an undoubtedly great film, but it just doesn't have the spark needed to hold onto it's position on the chart. Never Let Me Go doesn't have a chance, so if anybody's still talking about that film as a possibility, they're mistaken. Most people have Toy Story 3, The Kids Are All Right, and Inception locked for nominations, and I don't have any arguments on that point. They've worked hard to secure their spots, despite talk of them being too mainstream or being released in the summer.

That leaves a good four spots left, one of which easily goes to Another Year. The film has been hailed as magnificent and one of the best of the year, but it doesn't seem to have the strength to challenge any of it's top competitors. I've shown hesitation in putting Black Swan on my list, because it struck me from the beginning as a psychological horror film, which the Academy doesn't often respond enthusiastically to. Though, the film has been getting phenomenal reviews for both the direction and the performances, so it may just stick in there for a chance.

My last two predictions aren't on quite as solid ground as the rest, as they seem like two big question marks on the horizon. The first is the Coen brother's latest western,
True Grit, which doesn't release until late December. It's a long way to wait out for this one, as most of the big contenders have made their names known already. Still, the Coens have been nominated several times before, and they could very easily do it again here. My last vote of confidence is, as you may have guessed, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. As we get closer to it's release, it seems like more and more of a possibility. The new trailer hints at some breathtaking action and scenery, as well as some of the most dynamic emotional scenes in the series (Ron leaving; _____ dying). If the film get's enough great reviews, we could easily see a nomination pick up this January.

There are definitely some other films that could pull a surprise nomination out of their pocket. I don't have much faith in
The Fighter, but you really never know with this type of film. People are still talking about how Secretariat or Made in Dagenham could be "this year's The Blind Side" so we'll wait to see how those play out. The Town could turn out to be a bigger awards presence than originally though, depending on if any of the other films fall out. Finally, what ever happened to Blue Valentine. Could that film potentially come back out of nowhere and retake it's rightful place in the race?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Box Office Update: Yes and No

I imagine that I had a much more enjoyable time this weekend than the regular film-goer. Everyone else was out there catching disappointments, such as You Again and Wall Street 2, while I enjoyed one of the best films of the year. The insufferable two hours I had to spend afterwords was a worthy sacrifice for the time I had. This weekend also offered a chance to see either of last weekend's big releases before next weekend when The Social Network and Let Me In take over the theaters. I'm going to say that this is definitely the last week Inception will stay in the top 10 for. Summer is over, and it's time to move forward.

10. Inception (Eleventh Weekend; $1.2 million; -37%)
9. Takers (Fifth Weekend; $1.7 million; -46%)
8. Alpha and Omega (Second Weekend; $4.7 million; 48%)
7. Resident Evil: Afterlife (Third Weekend; $4.9 million; -51%)
6. Devil (Second Weekend; $6.5 million; -47%)
5. You Again (First Weekend; $8.3 million)
4. Easy A (Second Weekend; $10.7 million; -40%)
3. The Town (Second Weekend; $16 million; -33%)
2. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Gahoole (First Weekend; $16.3 million)
1. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (First Weekend; $19 million)

Film Review: Never Let Me Go

It’s really hard to sit through a film like this after a film like
The King’s Speech, because all you can think about is how much this production lacks in comparison to that one. I wish I had time to stay for The Illusionist tomorrow night, but I have to be headed back home tomorrow, so this is sadly the note that my stay in Portsmouth is ending on. The film follows three clones in an alternate timeline where human beings are raised and then harvested for their vital organs.

It’s a very strange premise, and this film does nothing to give it any more humanity. I’d heard going into this movie that it had divided critics between who hated it and who loved it, and I was really hoping that I’d be one of the latter. Unfortunately, this film is as cold as I feared it would be. There’s so much at fault with this picture that I can’t fathom how some people loved it. After the screening of The King’s Speech, the auditorium burst into applause, but this film ended to indifferent silence. Nobody cared, least of all me. I found it a chore to stay awake during this one, because you can immediately tell where it’s going.

The opening however many minutes that take place at the Hailsham school are completely dull, and it just drops you into the strange premise, deserting you and not giving any help. Imagine Hogwarts from the first two
Harry Potter films, but without magic or anything remotely intriguing. That’s Hailsham, and I’m not underselling it. The film does get a bit more interesting as it goes on, but by that time I had lost all faith in Never Let Me Go. The “tragic” ending felt anything but, and left me a pit of my gut only because of the nearly two hours that I wasted watching it.

The performances were mostly as dull as the characters, which were mostly one dimensional at best. Carey Mulligan shines the most as Cathy, but is weighed down by the ridiculousness of the story and just the slow run down of events. Don’t expect a nomination for her in this competitive year for the category. Andrew Garfield gives the first performance of his that I genuinely didn’t like, and his character is just completely ignorant and irritating. So is Keira Knightly in her role, but she’s barely even there. The music by Rachel Portman felt recycled from some old film that was never made. The cinematography didn’t do anything special. I could go on about what I didn’t like about this film, but in the end, Never Let Me Go is just another boring Oscar-bait British drama that doesn't make you feel a thing.


Film Review: The King's Speech

Even given the fact that I got to see the film before most, it still disappoints me that
The King’s Speech is still far away from its release. As soon as I left the theater, I wanted to see the film again. It’s very rare that a film successfully brings together all the aspects of great cinema. It’s not properly a period piece or a historical drama as it is a lightly psychological journey and, inevitably, a bromance. The film chronicles the relationship between Bertie, or the Duke of York as he starts out, and his Australian speech counselor Lionel Logue.

It worried me going in that the majority of the audience was, to put it frankly, old. Whenever I go into a film with an audience of senior citizens, it’s hard to take some things seriously. That’s basically another way of saying that one’s sense of humor certainly deteriorates with age. However, I was still taken aback by exactly how funny this film was. The scenes between Bertie and Lionel are most commonly hilarious, even besting some of the odd-couple comedies that Paul Rudd has indulged in for the past several years.

I’ve got to hand it to Colin Firth, who turns in his greatest performance to date, and that’s not a title to be taken lightly. The film is hinged on his performance, and I knew going in that if he wasn’t able to make his impediment believable than the film would just collapse from there. Firth was able to not only play the character as almost physically crippled by his defect, but he was able to let the character come across emotionally through that. He’s not defined by his problems in his personal life or in his political life. He's defined by the people in his life and what they have done to and for him.

I found it extremely nice to see Helena Bonham Carter playing a role that doesn’t make me squirm in my seat, and to see Geoffrey Rush playing… something other than a pirate. Carter isn’t given as much as her male cast members, but she definitely makes her character shine, and all but locks her place in this year’s surprisingly week Supporting Actress race. Rush is a lot more charismatic that he’s been in the past. He’s clean-shaven, turn-on-a-dime hilarious, and altogether moving. His conflict with Bertie throughout the film defines it. It’s about their journey together, and though the relationship may not be mutually beneficial in a material manner, as Logue already has everything he needs, you can see that their lives are changed by each other.

The supporting cast does a brilliant job as well. Michael Gambon is perfect in what is practically the only scene that he has as King George V. Guy Pierce started out somewhat weak at first, but eventually became quite vicious in one particular scene with Bertie. It’s the one time in the film in which the elder audience members didn’t start laughing at things that weren’t supposed to be funny. Timothy Spall is in a small tangent of the film as Winston Churchhill, and gives a peculiar but eventually nice performance.

Credit goes out to director Tom Hooper for not emphasizing the period aspect of the piece. He keeps things intensely personal with the story at hand. He doesn’t get too deep into political propaganda. He offers a nicely understated context for the story. The cinematography is textured in very much the same way as the smeared colors on the walls in Logue’s home, and that’s a compliment. Alexandre Desplat does his usually expert job scoring the film, hitting all the right notes emotionally.
The King’s Speech is surprisingly accessible for today’s audiences, and finds the perfect balance of tragedy, joy, humor, and drama. I look forward to seeing it immediately after its release, a treat that I rarely take nowadays.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

High on Telluride: By the Sea

I am now sitting by at the Music Hall in Portsmouth, NH, slowly losing my mind at Telluride by the Sea. Fifteen minutes after I’m dropped off in the downtown area, I learn that the tickets were apparently mailed to my home address, which unfortunately doesn’t exist anymore. The town recently changed all the addresses and street names (mine is now named after an amazing 2005 action film), which throws a wrench into my fantastic evening. So I have my people going back home to check on if the tickets are there or not. They may have not made it by now, or they might’ve just headed into the stratosphere.

I’ll be seeing Never Let Me Go tonight either way, but tickets are sold for The King’s Speech, so if the tickets aren’t at home yet then I’ll have to wait by the box office for the next few hours until they become available again. Not the way I wanted to spend my Saturday afternoon. The mood is mostly calm, considering that the town is usually in such a festive mood anyway. It's a nice day, so that does alleviate my stress a bit. I'll get back to you later this evening with my reviews of both films, because I can promise right now that I'll die before I miss this.

3 To See In October

It's always difficult to decide which films you want to see out of this month, mostly because the films that inhabit it are either half-assed attempts at Oscar drama or even more assed attempts in the horror genre. Luckily, next weekend offers us the two top films of the month right up front. That leaves the rest of the batch to fight over the number 3 spot. I'm immediately not going to go with many of the horror films out this month, because I don't really see anything interesting in Saw 3D, Paranormal Activity 2, or My Soul To Take. Discarding the misguided attempts at awards season success (Conviction, Hereafter), we are left with very few candidates.

3. Secretariat

I'm almost in a death match with this film, because of what people are hyping it up to be. Suddenly with last year's nomination of The Blind Side, people keep searching for some inspirational family film to fill that tenth spot this year. The Best Picture category should be filled with only the best films of the year, and I know this isn't going to cut it. All the same, it looks like the sort of inspirational film like The Blind Side that could bring audiences in to see it. On a depressing weekend, I'd consider seeing this film. I don't think it's going to be the greatest horse race film ever made, but it looks nice enough.

2. Let Me In

We don't have to wait long for the two films I'm most looking forward to this month. The American remake of the Swedish horror-classic Let The Right One In has been debated much over the past few months. I chalk that up to Matt Reeves being hired to direct, which many were hesitant to at first. I must admit that "from the director of Cloverfield" doesn't sound like it bodes well for us. However, it seems that this film offers Reeves the perfect catalyst to break out as one of the greatest new directors currently at work. At any rate, I'd rather see this story in a language I can actually comprehend. How dare a film urge me to read by putting subtitles in it? If I wanted to read, I'd just go home and... read.

1. The Social Network

Definitely the top film of the month, and perhaps my most anticipated film of the fall season, it seems like a match made in heaven to team David Fincher up with Aaron Sorkin. So far, all the reviews for this film are not only good, but near perfect across the board. When normal critics start bringing up complex themes, such as man's place in the universe or something else confusing like that, regarding the Facebook film, you know you're in for something you haven't seen before. Add in the best young actors in the new wave of modern cinema, right along with one-of-a-kind cinematography, and you have one of the top contenders in this year's Oscar season.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Weekend Report: The Owls, The Gekko, and Betty White

We've got three new releases this weekend, but they don't matter that much to me. Tomorrow I'll be taking a look at two of the top films from recent festivals: The King's Speech and Never Let Me Go. I'll get to talk about more on those two once I've actually seen them, but for now lets talk about the three core releases. The film that I've felt the most irrational attraction to is surprisingly Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Gahoole. Originally I had no intention of seeing it, but I've heard some good things about the visuals potentially rivaling Avatar, another film with a visually stunning life that I didn't favor. Then again, I saw that film, so I guess I could give this one a shot at matinee price.

The other big release this weekend is Oliver Stone's Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. I didn't see the original Wall Street, so immediately there's that in the way. On top of that, this film stars Shia Labeouf whose one-note acting style I don't enjoy. This film does benefit from Carey Mulligan playing a part, but it's a strictly supporting role so I don't put the odds on me seeing this film. The film that I wanted to see at first was You Again, and the trailer honestly looked funny to me. However, reviews have been completely slamming this film against the wall as they do for nearly every poor comedy these days. It's sad to say that I may have misplaced my trust. So the score for this weekend is either 1/3 or 0/3. Doesn't matter much to me, because I'm playing the film slate outside the regular market. At least I hope I am. I may just end up getting to Portsmouth to hear them tell me they have no record of my tickets. Really hoping that that doesn't happen.

Small Glass Screen: Ratings, Pickups, and Drop-offs

Now that the premiere week has come to an end, it's a good time to decide which shows I'll be sticking with throughout the season, and which I'll be kicking aside. It may be a while before I am able to get AMC on my television, but even so, I have no problem purchasing those Mad Men episodes on iTunes. Fringe, which opened to a rating of about 5.9 million viewers, has fought long and hard for it's place on my schedule, and I'm not about to abandon it like many have mistakenly done in the past. If there's a show that I recommend catching up on, it's that. The season premiere does a superb job of catching new viewers up on the events of previous seasons, so it's not a problem if you just start from there.

There are a few shows that I plan on sticking with for now, but that don't offer quite enough to comment on weekly. So don't expect many reviews on the events of How I Met Your Mother (8.8 million viewers), Cougar Town (8.3), 30 Rock (5.8), or Glee (12.5) any time soon. J.J. Abrams' new show, Undercovers (8.6), looks like the sort of casual action series that I could get into every week just to cool off from everything else. Only time will tell if it offers enough to report on weekly. Capping things off, I think I'll stick with The Event (11.2) throughout the entirety of this season. Word has it that the two episodes that follow up the pilot deliver answers and action in an interesting way.

I'm completely dropping Running Wilde and Raising Hope, because they just didn't deliver anything of value. So in summation, I'll be reporting to you every Friday on Fringe, Mad Men, Undercovers, and The Event. Mad Men will filter out once it finishes it's season run in a few more weeks, and I may take up AMC's The Walking Dead once it premieres. Thanks for tuning in, and I hope to have you here again next Friday. And in case I wasn't clear enough, please pick up watching Fringe. If you're watching Grey's Anatomy, there's probably nothing I can do to change your mind, but please just take it into consideration.

For Your Acknowledgement: Please... No... Sorry

Well, of the three films releasing today, the one with probably the best chance of success is Oliver Stone's Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. I know that the first film was probably great, but I'm not going to go through the effort to actually see it. The same applies to this film, as it pushes Shia Labeouf at his whiny best. His acting in this scene is mumbling that's even less coherent than the incomplete sentences of the Twilight series.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Small Glass Screen: "Fringe" and "Mad Men"

Fringe: Olivia

It's been a good four months since our last glimpse it the alternate universe(s) of Fringe, and the season premiere was bound to deliver the thrills. I knew that breaking the formula that we've lived with for the past two years could only help the show. It had begun to be a little bit repetitive, but with a new universe comes an entire new aspect to the show. The opening ten minutes of the episode are spectacular and set up for what we're about to see. Walternate is aggressively trying to make Olivia think she's Fauxlivia, and throughout the episode that factor goes from non-existent to a frightening truth. In other words, if your mind was completely blown away by this episode, you're not alone.

The ending to this episode was nearly as terrifying as the ending to last season. There's a lot that leads up to that, and across the entire episode you can see her go from being sure of who she is, to doubting her sanity entirely. However, you thought this episode would end, you were wrong. Walternate is just as intelligent as our Walter, except he keeps his reasons close to the chest, and his purposes are more nefarious. As we go along the path of the alternate universe, we see little jokes about how things are different, and one of the best things about this episode was Andre Royo's performance as Henry. In fact, this episode entirely caught me off guard and delivered one of the best hours this series has seen. Get ready for a more consistent chapter in the Fringe series.

A few questions for the next few episodes: What is Walternate's logic behind changing our Olivia's memory? How long until our Olivia begins to regain her sanity? How will Olivia respond to Frank, working "Over There", and how long before her new Fringe team starts noticing something's different. Finally, how long before we see cab driver Henry again? This week I've had to endure confusion (The Event), depression (Glee), and just plain disappointment (Raising Hope), but this is the first premiere to truly exceed expectations. What did you think of Olivia?
9.5 out of 10

Mad Men: The Beautiful Girls

This episode actually premiered five days ago, but I felt I could just review both of my favorite shows in one post. Mad Men took up my attention while Fringe was on break, but now it's back, and we have two fantastic shows fighting for my heart. I have to admit, this week offered us some unexpected twists, the most pressing of which is the untimely demise of Ida Blankenship. She got some brilliant one-liners over the course of the first half ("It's a business of Sadists and Masochists, and you know which one you are."), but I keep wondering if I'm a horrible person for finding Ida's death to be humorous.

Blankenship's death only adds more misfortune onto the fact that Sally is in Don Draper's office, having tried to run away. I'm glad we've gotten to see so much of her this season, and she really shines here in depicting a girl being torn apart by her parents' failed marriage. It really pushes Don's relationship with Faye further than they had hoped for. It'll be really awkward is Betthany shows up again and ruins everything, because I actually like this relationship. I have a creeping feeling that it won't work out, but I enjoy it as it happens. Also, Roger and Joan finally kiss. They're both in a weak place, and they find each other as a result of that. I hope that this actually goes somewhere.

Keanu Reeves Is A Stupid B****!

Excuse me for such language, but it's got to be said, because the news I've just heard made me want drive to whatever hellhole Keanu Reeves is hiding in and punch him in the face. A few days ago, Keanu Reeves started talking about how great it would be if they did a third film in the Bill and Ted franchise. I have three huge problems with that, the first being that Bill and Ted was built specifically for that era in time. If they made a new one today, it would kind of take away the authenticity of it all. There are some films that nostalgia works for (Toy Story 3), and some films that it doesn't (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). This falls in the latter category.

Secondly, chances are if they made a third film for today, it would probably suck. If Ghostbusters 3 ever made it into development, chances are it would fail more than even the second film. And then, the third and perhaps most important reason this atrocity should not be made is this: George Carlin is dead! Carlin is perhaps the most important figure in me becoming the person I am today, as I started watching his brand of comedy at a time when I needed to learn to think for myself. Bill and Ted is nothing without Rufus, and it's simply pointless to continue on without him. Then again, they could just remake a digital George Carlin using Avatar technology. If Keanu actually takes that into serious consideration, then he really does deserve to die.

Theatrical Trailer: The King's Speech

It seems like the most opportune moment for this trailer to come, seeing as I'm headed to Portsmouth, NH in two days to see The King Speech. This trailer is pretty well put together, and does offer us a look at a very interesting an unorthodox drama. Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush look magnificent, but it seems meaningless to review this trailer when I'll be reviewing the film soon enough. So take a look for yourself and let me know what you think. I actually quite miss your comments, and wish you'd give more of them.

Abrams Shops Off 3 Pilots for 2011!

Lost wrapped up it's six year run last May, Fringe's third season begins tonight, and Abrams' most casual series to date Undercovers debuted last night, but Abrams certainly isn't finished with television by a long shot. Terry O'Quinn and Michael Emerson of Lost fame are teaming up with the most successful producer in expert television again for Odd Jobs, a drama about two former Special Op agents who... do something. Not much is known about the show yet, but it's a safe bet that we'll be seeing John Locke and Ben Linus onscreen together again soon, as the pilot has just been sold to NBC.

The other two shows that J.J. has shopped off already are Alkatraz, the previously reported FOX drama set in the titular prison, and a new crime series from Chris Nolan's brother Jonah, who helped scribe The Dark Knight, called Person of Interest. Jonah Nolan's series is the first Abrams has sold to CBS. Everything's being kept tight under wraps, but Abrams certainly has his hands full for the next year, backing three new series as well as his own directorial effort, Super 8.

Small Glass Screen: "Undercovers", "Modern Family", "Cougar Town"

Undercovers: Pilot
Of all the pilots I've seen this week, count on J.J. Abrams to deliver the most spectacular, narratively coherent of them. From the man who backed such shows as Alias, Lost, and Fringe, Undercovers is for everybody who love those shows, but were too frustrated by the complex mythologies. This is the most enjoyable show that Abrams has brought us, because it isn't such a dramatically heavy show. It's a romantic-comedy set on the backdrop of an action film. I wouldn't expect any of the horrific character deaths that have plagued Fringe every week.

Michael Giacchino's score moves at as fast a pace as the show itself, evoking his fantastic work on Speed Racer more than anything else. My biggest disappointment with this episode was the lack of lens flares that Abrams is known for. The performances by the two leads definitely have chemistry, but are just below great. The episode kept juggling around the question of whether or not Leo Nash was a traitor in a way that kept me guessing. Ultimately, it's not Abrams' finest pilot, as it goes on more of a MI3 route, but I found it pretty fast and enjoyable. It's not going to win an Emmy next year, but it's not supposed to. It's a solid-B action series, which is something I've wanted to see for a while now. On a final note, the main villain looks a hell of a lot like James Cameron.

Modern Family: The Old Wagon
Admittedly, I didn't see the first season of the Emmy award winning comedy, so I thought I'd pick up the show for this fall season. There isn't really an overarching plot to the series, and I kind of liked that. It reminded me a bit of The Office, except it felt a lot less repetitive. It's just a half-hour comedy, so that definitely limits what you can show. I enjoyed it, but I'm not going to be in a rush to see it immediately. It's a show I'd gladly catch up with on Hulu.

Cougar Town: All Mixed Up
Compared to the previous half-hour comedy, this one is a lot more obviously funny and more accessible. I've been dying to see Jennifer Aniston and Coutney Cox onscreen together again, and this definitely offers Aniston her funniest performance in the past decade. I really liked the "drinking game" that permeated through the entire episode. Only complaint is that I wish there were more "Cougars" on this show. It's kind of like how "third-world country" lost it's meaning after the Cold War ended. In the end, this is a show I can keep permanently on my Wednesday schedule.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Potter Watch (21 of 77): "Deathly Hallows: Part 1" Theatrical Trailer

In a word, WOW! We just got a massive trailer for the epic first installment in the two-part conclusion to the biggest motion picture franchise of the past century. I apologize in advance if I can't quite gather my thoughts in a coherent manner, but this trailer definitely caught me off guard. This summer's teaser trailer certainly was a teaser, as it barely even touched on the magnificent footage of Part 1. This time around, we really get an idea of what's in store for us this fall, and anybody worried that Part 1 would skimp a bit on the action was sadly mistaken.

Before I get into what I loved, let me first talk about what I wasn't quite fond of, and that can be brought down to simply the editing of the trailer. Some of the shots were obviously rushed through, giving us little time to enjoy the scenery, and the spacial shifts where the characters faces, most especially Voldemort's, would be stretched a bit weren't too great. However, that's a problem with the trailer, and not with the film.

As for what I loved, pretty much everything! This trailer really delivered emotionally what the first one couldn't. The cinematography looks absolutely stunning, and it's pretty much a lock for a nomination. Voldemort looks a hell of a lot creepier in this trailer, mostly due to the brilliantly sickly lighting done in those scenes. We don't get a great look at the acting talent, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's great. The thing that really caps this trailer off for me is the bad-ass way they brought the logo about. This trailer has managed to earn this film at least two more months on my Oscar predictions for Best Picture. I am deeply looking forward to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.

"Hereafter" Poster Debuts

Well, I guess it's been a while since a Clint Eastwood poster had a surplus of flash and beauty to it, but I do have a nit-pick or two about this poster. For one thing, it makes the film look too much like an alien invasion film. Is that the twist-ending of Hereafter? Secondly, enough with the floating heads. It's a lazy way of making a film look more spiritual than it actually is. I like this poster, but I find Matt Damon is looking a little bit too creepy, and the fact that reviews haven't been favorable only cements a hint of dread. Still, it's kind of nice.

Producers Guild of America Giving James Cameron the 2011 Milestone Award

In years gone by, the Producers Guild of America has giving their Milestone Award to many well deserving filmmakers such as Ron Howard, Clint Eastwood, and Walt Disney. The next to join this prestigious pantheon of film legends is none other than the once-great James Cameron. First off, let me say that I feel that James Cameron totally deserves this award, at the very least for his spectacular work on Aliens, The Abyss, and the first two Terminator films. I would've given the award to him back then rather than now, because the last two feature-length films he's done have been visually fantastic, but narratively stupid.

Titanic's success was a freak of nature, almost guaranteed never to happen ever again. I never understood what people saw in it, as it was one of the most corny films I'd seen in my life up to that point. Then, more than ten years later, Cameron is able to top himself in the range of cheesy stupidity with Avatar. The fact that it's now the highest grossing film of all time is nothing less than an abomination, for me at least. It's not worth traveling an hour to see it in IMAX 3D. The 3D wasn't even that great, and was frankly confusing. Nevertheless, Cameron waited ten years to make this film, which is honorable no matter how stupid the end product is.

Potter Watch (20 of 77): Staring Into the Dark

In a way, this is a preemptive Potter Watch, because there's not much to report on until the new trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 debuts tonight at 9. Expect an embed of the trailer to be on our Facebook page by 9:05, and an entire post by 9:30. I would like to comment a bit on how people are feeling that the Potter films keep getting darker. It's true, but there are certainly people out there who are rooting for an R-rated Deathly Hallows. It's not going to happen, because the series still wants to keep the demographic they started with involved.

However, there is no denying that these last two installments are incredibly gruesome. We have the deaths of several key characters, the whole ordeal at Bathilda Bagshot's home, George losing an ear, and we know that this is going to be a very dark experience. Not to mention the inner turmoil that consumes the trio in Part 1 of the film. Test screening reviews have made a lot of this film, saying that they perfectly rendered each scene for this film, which is a relief for me, who enjoys the occasionally slow, but perfectly delivered Half-Blood Prince the most of the series.

Luckily, for those worried that this would feel like something of a short film, the producers have made good on their promise of an in depth Deathly Hallows, giving the film a nearly 2.5 hour run time. I can't wait to see this one, and I'm still holding it up as one of my Best Picture prediction. People can criticize me all they want, but if it turns out that I'm right, then that won't last long. I tell you, it has more of a chance than Secretariat does. I'll see you back here tonight for the new trailer!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

For Your Acknowledgement: Gator Power

Of all the films releasing this weekend, I find it a bit sad that the only one I'm even remotely looking forward to is You Again. I'm already busy seeing two, likely better films this weekend, but this looks like it might be enjoyable for when it comes out on DVD. I just feel that this film a near-perfect female comedy cast, despite the fact that Kristen Bell is in the lead role. She's a nice actress, but she also chose to do When in Rome, so she still has a long way to go before restoring my faith in her. I just wish the clip I had to show you had more Betty White in it. All the same, enjoy.

Oscar 2010: Does "The Town" Stand A Chance?

Over this weekend, as The Town quietly achieved critical and box office acclaim, it appears that somewhere out of that emerged a flicker of Oscar hope. After seeing the film, I felt that it was spectacular and better than most of the films out there this year, but it didn't stand a chance against the other films up for Oscar glory. However, it seems people have really responded to it in a positive way, most especially at an Academy screening. I know that the Academy is a pretty big part in deciding who is nominated, but I'm very careful about what I hear coming from these screenings.

I think that when it comes down to it, it's going to be a fight between The Town and Inception, because the two have some prevalent similarities, besides the fact that they're both heist films. If I were to ask a reader stumbling upon this blog which had a more likely chance of winning, they'd say Inception, not only because it's more of a crowd-pleaser, but because it's just a better film. I'm sorry to stamp out all hope of The Town being nominated, but it's just not that kind of film. It's one of my favorites of the year, but so is Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Is it going up on my predictions? No. If this film has any chances, it's in Jeremy Renner for Supporting Actor, and that's where Warner Bros. should put most of it's cards for this film.

"The Walking Dead" Poster

I know that this seems like I'm breaking form a bit, and in the next week, you can expect me to talk a hell of a lot about television more than films. Things were bound to take a turn like this when Toronto ended, so the new fall schedule obviously took it's place. However, one of the shows I'm most looking forward to seeing doesn't come around until late October, and it's AMC's The Walking Dead. It seems like a strange fit, but when it's from the same network that's brought us Mad Men and Breaking Bad, I'm willing to give it a shot. Here's the poster for the new drama. Enjoy!

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Small Glass Screen: "HIMYM", and "The Event"

How I Met Your Mother: Big Days

A lot has been made about this season premiere, and perhaps too much if you ask me. I would've rather gone into this knowing as little as possible, but I went in expecting some huge reveal about the whole "wedding" plot-point, which was only a small segment of the actual episode. The episode was actually a bait-and-switch that kept preparing the audience for Ted to meet the love of his life. Then there was the switch at the end, and I was left with questions but no answers. I'm sure we'll get them at some point, but for now, it's Lost all over again.

But disregarding the main plot, this episode wasn't quite as funny as I was hoping. Barney offered some moments that evoke the best of his character, but leave us wanting more. Marshall and Lily ALMOST try to have a baby, but they're sidetracked by an unforeseen intervention by Marshall's father. I didn't really feel the distraction was worth it. And finally, Robin is looking a lot like she did in
The Rough Patch, and it offers as much comedy as you'd expect from such. Ultimately, this episode left me wanting a little bit more from this great series, despite a few small laughs. I'm sure it'll improve as the season goes on, but this is definitely a rough start.

The Event: Pilot

So I went into this episode not knowing much about what was happening, as most certainly did as well. However, from the first twenty minutes on, I was hooked on it, if only because it evokes two well respected series that are now off the air: 24 and Lost. From start to finish, I had very little idea exactly what was going on. I had a vague idea of what was going on, but I still don't know why any of this is happening. There's nicely written dialogue, a fast pace, spectacular use of the non-linear formula, and solid acting, so I'm going to have faith that the creators weren't just meshing a bunch of random events together to make people think it's important. Then again, it could easily end up being like the last science fiction show to premiere in that spot on Monday (Heroes). At the very least, I'll be checking out the second episode. For now, I'd just be stabbing in the dark if I tried to review this episode.

P.S. What was with the Monsters Inc. style title sequence that lasted all of 10 seconds? It makes this show seem like a whiz-bang caper.