November 30, 2011

Daniel Day Lewis Is Abe Lincoln

As you may know, Daniel Day Lewis is starring as the legendary Abe Lincoln is Steven Spielberg's film. This photo comes Slashfilm and I gotta say, this looks like instant oscar magic.

November 22, 2011

A.I. Remixed by Pogo

This comes from a South African DJ named Pogo. I haven't seen A.I. since I saw it in the theaters where I remembered as being super long and wayyyyy over my head. Still this video is wild both in the way is presents the old film in a new way and the fact that it shows how art/music can come from the most unexpected places.

November 18, 2011

A Couple Things About The Expendables 2 Poster

  1. There is some crazy hair going on in this poster. We have Stallone's artfully trimmed mustacheaotee, Arnold's blow out hair cut, Bruce's bald done, Chuck Norris's beard, and Lundgren's flowing golden trestles.
  2. Are they standing in front of a Volcano? What can this tell us about the plot
  3. The last movie called EX2 was "X2: X Men United" and that movie was the shit, this bodes very well for The Expendables 2
  4. Jet Li's name is listed on the partner but he is absent from the volcano action? What is fame?
  5. Also worth mentioning is that the "young" expendable Liam Hemsworth is nowhere to be seen.
  6. This movie is going to be just as "good" as the first one.
  7. I'm getting a serious Putin vibe from Van Damme up there on the top right
  8. Will Terry Crews be able to top his legendary "Remember this shit at Christmas" line from the first film. That is a question that keeps me up at night.
  9. Nice that we have advanced so far in gender politics that there can be a woman on the poster. Change is real.
  10. Seriously, I cannot wait for this movie. I'm definitely there opening night.

November 16, 2011

Dispatches From The Indie Film World

There was a period of my life where I thought that "Independent" movies meant they were some how related to "Independence Day," which would mean they would involve aliens, Will Smith, and mass destruction of landmarks. Well, that period ended about two days ago and I can no report I have recently seen two great independent films that are def worth checking out and are not connected to "Independence Day."

Martha Marcy May Marlene - This dynamite film tells the story about a young woman (the superb Elizabeth Olsen) who escapes from a Charles Manson like cult and ends up staying with her sister and brother in law. As the film progresses we see both what her life was like at the cult and how she is having a really difficult time adjusting to the real world. The film is anchored by Olsen's dynamite performance and it's expert slow burn of just how sinister things got at the cult and just what impact they could have outside of the cult's grounds. John Hawkes, so money in "Winter's Bone" gives another terrifying performance as the cult leader. I should say the film is intense, so if you're looking for something a little light hearted, check out "Puss in Boots." But if you're looking for a well acted, slow burn of a dramatic thriller, this is the one!

Like Crazy - Love is wild! Love is Awesome! Love is Painful! Love is Crazy! This great little flick which one the Grand Jury prize at Sundance tells the story of the relationship of Jacob (Anton Yelchin) and Ana (Felicity Jones) as they go through a wicked crazy long distance multi-year intense relationship. It's a very romantic film, so if you're looking for something that isn't about cults, this is a good pick, but I should say that it isn't all happy. Director Drake Doremus provides a honest unflinching look at young love, both it's joys and it's brutal low points. Overall, just an awesome flick.

November 14, 2011

The Hunger Games Trailer

As a massive fan of the books, I gotta say, this trailer is pretty damn great. I like the whole mood of the thing, for some reason, I thought this was going to be extremely cheesy, but this looks pretty damn serious. I mean, it kind of has to be serious if it involves kids throwing spears into each other's chests.

November 8, 2011

Why My Moral Outrage About Modern Warfare 3 Has Faded

I used to get weirded out by Call of Duty. It wasn't that I didn't like the games, shit, I love the games, they're pretty much the video game equivalent of Michael Bay movies (which I also love), it was their content. Whenever I mowed down countless waves of terrorists/Russians/Brazilians/Enemies/Zombies that wanted to kill the United Stated of Badassery I just always had a pang of "this is kind of messed up because it's happening in real life," going through my head.

I've been writing posts on this for years now, including this one about the "there's a soldier in all of us" marketing campaign, this one about creating responsible war narratives, and this one on the realistic violence in the series. Yet as the launch day approached I just found myself not caring anymore. I'm either just desensitized to all the insane violence/propaganda in the games or the franchise has evolved from war simulator to the insane world war action spectacle that is so far from realistic it has now evolved into "cartoonish."

I mean the new game has the Eifel Tower collapsing in the midst of gigantic battle for freedom, which is almost plagiarism from Team America. The villains, who in the first chapters in the franchise were radical muslims and nationalist russians have now become some type of James Bondian syndicate of people who just don't like the United States, including corrupt US generals. Even the ad campaigns are now more comical, gone are of the days of normal civilians fighting battles, now we have zany Jonah Hill ripping off one liners and firing at a faceless enemy.

So with the Call of Duty franchise embracing it's Bayish destiny, does this mean we are entering into an era of responsible video games. Hardly, just take one look at the marketing campaign for rival shooter Battlefield 3, which features the tagline: "Is it real or is Battlefield 3." Obviously, it's not real, because no gamer dies while playing Battlefield, yet with over 3 million people buying Battlefield 3 in the first week there still is a demand for the ultra-gritty combat simulator. Luckily, Modern Warfare 3 is projected to sell 9 million copies in it's first day, it looks like some people still prefer to have the "game" in their war simulators.

November 7, 2011

Red Dead Redemption Has Already Scalped "Hell on Wheels."

Last night was a big night for entertainment. Now I'm not talking about the fat zombie turd baby on Walking Dead, I'm talking about AMC's new series Hell on Wheels. By all accords it was a pretty cool pilot with a variety of central characters searching the scorched earth western landscape of 1860 for vengeance, glory, and some trace of humanity. Yet, as I watched it, I couldn't help but think that the show was lagging behind, you know playing catch up, to the current defining western of the decade: 2010's Red Dead Redemption.

Both Red Dead Redemption and Hell on Wheels focus on a grizzled outlaw who finds himself in the rapidly changing landscape of the American West in the post civil war era. They're both on a mission, John Marston in Red Dead to reunite with his family and Cullen Bohannon in Wheels to avenge the death of his own. Both protagonists have grizzled flowing manes and matching facial hair, have a tendency to dress in black, and don't seem to have a problem blasting their six shooters.

Yet while Hell on Wheels looks like it will do an adequate job putting an individual narrative in the greater historic scope of an era, it felt stale to me because Red Dead Redemption did it so much better. Their are many interesting characters on the show, including former slaves, traveling entertainers, businessman, senators, and Native Americans but they only exist in the narrow scope of the TV narrative. Red Dead on the other hand features the same characters gives them stories that are deeper than one line of exposition. And that's what the best video games have that TV and film can't provide: insane depth.

In Red Dead you can play the storyline of the protagonist but if you don't want to do that, you can just hunt in the wilderness or watch the sunset over the prairie. If you want to explore the history of that wandering stranger from Hollywood, you can track him throughout the story. It's a bigger more enriching story experience that TV even with all it's strengths can really match, and Hell on Wheels is doing itself so favors by having it's protagonist, level of violence, and story be so similar to the video game masterpiece, it's a tough match up.

**If you need further explanation on why Red Dead Redemption is one of the best western narratives ever, check out my the good folks at Lifting Fog's take on it.

November 2, 2011

GTA V Trailer Promises Something Big

Besides being ridiculously fun to play the Grand Theft Auto games are pretty much a part of our American Heritage. The last game in the series Grand Theft Auto IV was pretty much a master class in storytelling, regardless of it's format. Whoah, why am I getting all academic here, GTA V trailer son! The return to San Andreas.

Previous reports have pegged the game having multiple characters, but I'm calling it now, those characters will be the central protagonists of previous GTA games coming together in pretty much the most epic crime story ever told. That's right, I'm pretty sure Claude from GTA III, Tommy Vercetti from Vice City, and CJ from San Andreas, and Nico Bellic from GTA IV will be appearing in this story.

It's pretty mind blowing when you really start thinking about having these characters all in one epic final story. It's kind of like having Michael Corleone, Tony Montana, and some Scorsese character all exist in one cinematic world that you have control over. Whoa, can't wait!