Geek Round-Up

13 04 2010

  • Dog lovers and alcohol enthusiasts can merge their passions with this dog collar keg
  • In a move everyone saw coming, Google will be creating their own tablet computer to take on the iPad. Read more at NYT.
  • Go here if you want to see what Legends of Zelda would look like in 8-bit 3D.




Christopher Nolan and the Best Movie of 2010

11 04 2010

Christopher Nolan is a rarity in Hollywood. He’s a blockbuster-making director who puts a high price on making movies the right way. His films are grounded in story, not superficial effects. When you look at his filmography, you see films that push and pull on the mind. They all offer substance, and I can honestly say I have thoroughly enjoyed every single one of his movies. Check them out:

Memento (2000) – A story told in reverse chronological order
Insomnia (2002) – Al Pacino as an insomniac detective trying to solve a murder
Batman Begins (2005) – the rebooting of the Batman franchise
The Prestige (2006) – Christian Bale versus Hugh Jackman in a thriller about dueling illusionists
The Dark Knight (2008) – The $1 billion-making sequel to Batman Begins

And now, on to the Best Movie of 2010. That movie is Inception, Nolan’s next film. It hits theatres this July, and will definitely be one of the biggest hits of the year. The film is about a team of corporate spies who use a device to invade people’s minds to steal corporate secrets. It is being called Hollywood’s first existential heist movie, and has had Tinseltown in a flurry over its secretive production.

If you are not already intrigued, then check out the cast. Leonardo DiCaprio is the lead by the name of Dom Cobb, the leader of a team of mind burglars. Rounding out his team are Joseph Gordon-Levitt ((500) Days of Summer) and Ellen Page (Juno). Additions to the cast are Cillian Murphy (Scarecrow in Batman Begins), Michael Caine, Ken Watanabe, Marion Cotillard and Tom Berenger. Needless to say, the talent level in this movie is out of this world.

For a fantastic article about Nolan’s work and Inception, check out this article from the LA Times. It’s very informative and discusses the themes and history of Nolan’s work and what to look for from Inception.

Check out these trailers to get a feel for what is to come on July 16th.





Directors I Love and You Should Watch

31 03 2010

In today’s post, I’d like to share with you some of my favorite directors working today. Now, I’m not some indie-art-flick-loving film snob, so don’t expect a list of foreign black-and-white-only auteurs or “modern” directors that no one has ever heard of or really sought out. My list of directors will be names you probably recognize, whose work you can easily access at the cinemas or Blockbuster. That being said, let’s begin:

Danny Boyle

Danny Boyle earns a spot on my list based on the way he handles a camera. He has a marvelous talent for immersing the audience into the world he is creating. Boyle knows when to come in tight on a situation, and he knows how long to hold the shot. His films have great dialogue as well. It’s rare to find a cheesy line or awkward delivery, because Boyle puts weight behind authentic conversations between his characters. It’s hard to discuss a director’s work without knowing his films, so here are Boyle’s works that I enjoy:
Trainspotting (1996) – must-see film for any movie fan
The Beach (2000) – the Leo DiCaprio film that bridges the gap between the boy in Titanic and the man in Gangs of New York. Also, fantastic use of music
28 Days Later (2002) – the film that single-handedly revitalized the zombie/horror genre
Sunshine (2007) – personally, an absolute MUST-SEE
Slumdog Millionaire (2008) – Best Picture and Best Director

Upcoming Film: 127 Hours starring James Franco as mountain climber Aron Ralston, who resorts to cutting off his own arm after being trapped by a fallen boulder

Michael Mann

Michael Mann has been directing films since the late 60’s, but it his work in the last 20 years that really catches my eye. Mann has a wonderful ability make everything look gritty and real. This is even more evident in his recent work, where he opts to shoot with digital cameras instead of the standard 35mm film. Mann thrives on drama and suspense, and his ability to get the best out of great actors makes his films intense and fun to watch.
The Last of the Mohicans (1992) – an epic love-story showcasing the amazingness of Daniel Day Lewis
Heat (1995) – the pinnacle of crime movies, with Pacino and DeNiro together. There is a reason that the great crime-side of The Dark Knight was often compared to Heat.
The Insider (1999) – one of Russell Crowe’s best performances, hands-down.
Ali (2001) – Mann took the comedy/action rising star of Will Smith and turned him into a dramatic leading man in a movie about the tumultuous life of one of America’s greatest sports icons
Collateral (2004) – Personally, one of my favorite Tom Cruise performances as a great villain, and Jamie Foxx paves the way for a dramatic career
Miami Vice (2006) – Often panned by Mann purists and Miami Vice fans alike, I still enjoy this movie as a look at modern crime. Plus, Colin Farrel is easily one of my favorite actors working today. Also, fantastic music.
Public Enemies (2009) – A great performance by Johnny Depp, and the use of digital cameras to shoot the 20’s/30’s is stellar

More Directors to come!





I Need A Dollar (Dollar), A Dollar Is What I Need

25 03 2010

That song, entitled “Rasta Monsta”, is the title track of one of HBO’s newest series, How To Make It In America. Not only do I love the song, the show has become my new must-see TV show.

How To Make It In America follows the lives of a handful of twentysomethings in New York City. While the limelight is shared by the cast members, the overall main character is Ben Epstein. Ben is an artist-type that apparently dropped out of art school, and now pursues a mundane career as a salesmen at Barney’s. He is joined by his street-smart, loud-mouthed friend Cam, who is constantly looking for the next, and fastest, way to make a buck. Rounding out the cast are Ben’s friend Domingo, socialite Gingy, Ben’s interior designer exgirlfriend Rachel, Cam’s old-school Cuban mobster Renee, and Kappo, a high school friend of Ben’s that is now a Wall Street high roller.

Each of the 30-minute episodes revolves around a different plot, but the over-arching theme of this season rests on Ben and Cam’s decision to start their own denim line, Crisp. The various episodes show them using street smarts and improvisation to get their clothing line moving. Swirling around that is the constant tension between Ben and Rachel, and the various amounts of trouble Ben’s friends try and get him in.

I didn’t know if I would like the show after watching the pilot. But after watching the next few episodes, I am definitely hooked. And it is only natural, though. The creators of How To Make It In America include Julian Farino and Rob Weiss. Weiss is a producer and writer on HBO’s Entourage, and Farino has directed many Entourage episodes. They bring that Entourage flavor to HTMIIA, and it is definitely one of the reasons the show appeals to me.

If you have HBO, I highly encourage you to check it out. If you don’t have HBO, find a friend who does and convince them to let you use their OnDemand for an afternoon.





Captain America Cast?

20 03 2010

Apparently, Chris Evans (Sunshine, The Losers) has been offered the titular role in Joe Johnston’s Captain America: The First Avenger film, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

I’ve been keeping an eye on the production, mostly because I have an interest in the Marvel Universe. After Marvel Studios put out Iron Man, I was onboard with them developing their own characters into films, instead of licensing them out to other studios (ala Sony’s Spider-Man and Fox’s X-men films). Unfortunately, they followed the incredible success of Iron Man with the lackluster The Incredible Hulk. Now, they are looking to expand with more character films, looking to eventually make a The Avengers movie to tie all these characters together. Kenneth Branaugh has a great cast lined up for his Thor movie, but Captain America has been a little bit bumpier.

At the helm of the film is Joe Johnston, a choice of which I am very leery. Sure, he’s had some great films (The Rocketeer, October Sky), but he also has some crap movies (Jurassic Park III, Jumanji, The Wolfman). They’ve made a great move in casting Hugo Weaving as Captain America’s arch nemesis, the Red Skull.

But the casting of Captain America himself is an all together different struggle. Whatever actor takes on the Captain needs to project the leadership and power of the character. He has to be believable when eventually giving orders to the likes of Robert Downey, Jr. and Ed Norton in an eventual Avengers movie. The studio has been looking at young actors, since this will likely be a franchise that stretches down the road for awhile, and the story shows his progression from gangly teen to super soldier.

As the report says above, apparently the role has been offered to Chris Evans. Evans definitely has the physique to pull off Cap, but I guess it will be wait-and-see if he has the right personality for it. I love Evans in films like Sunshine and London, but the Fantastic Four movies don’t exactly bolster his comicbook acting chops. Obviously, the Human Torch is nothing like Captain America. I guess we’ll see if this film can pull it together.





Film Round-Up

9 03 2010

Quite a few interesting bits of film news lately!

  • This link will take you to FlowingData, which has created infographics breaking down famous movie quotes:
  • Here is a plot synopsis for the new Thor movie via /Film. For those of you who don’t know, after the success of Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk in 2008, Marvel Studios moved forward with the concept of creating individual films for each of the superhero group, The Avengers, with the aim of making an Avengers movie in a few years. Joe Johnston’s Captain America film is already casting, and this Thor movie will be rolling film soon. While the title character is played by a relatively unknown actor, he is joined by heavy hitters Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgaard and Natalie Portman.
  • Here is a little bit of disturbing news, also via /Film. Apparently the Florida State Legislature is considering a piece of legislation that would increase tax breaks to films filming in the State of Florida from a 2% break to a 5% break. This would be great, except the bill contains language that says denial of the tax breaks could be made if the film strayed from “traditional family values.” When asked directly whether that meant a film with gay characters wouldn’t be supported, one legislator said that wouldn’t be something state money should go to. Personally, I think it’s absolutely ridiculous.
  • And finally, and most importantly!, go HERE to see the new trailer for the TRON sequel, TRON: Legacy. It looks phenomenal! I’m wondering if they will bill it as starring “Academy Award Winner Jeff Bridges” now that Bridges took home the gold for his role in Crazy Heart?




New Iron Man 2 Trailer!

8 03 2010

Head on over to Apple Trailers to check out the new Iron Man 2 trailer in Quicktime. The trailer debuted after the Academy Awards last night, on Jimmy Kimmel Live. This new trailer definitely shows more of the story, and gets me really excited for the summer movie season!

I’ve also embedded a YouTube video of the trailer below: