Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas

I hope everyone had a really wonderful and very merry Christmas!!

Working on the Best Of lists which will hopefully be up by the end of the week.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Movie Of The Day - Colin

COLIN (2008) d: Mark Price

When it comes to the world of micro-budget filmmaking, which I am currently apart of myself, movies come and movies go. Technology has gotten to the point where anyone can go out and make a movie. Some people have a decent storytelling sense but lack the aesthetic to tell it effectively. Others have an interesting aesthetic but lack the knack for telling a story. And most, quite frankly, are just flat out bad. So when you come across one that is actually a good story and well done it does make you want to stop and take notice.

Enter Mark Price's film 'Colin'. The UK made film was supposedly made for around $70 relying mainly on favors from friends and colleagues. Shot with a small consumer camera and limited means filmmaker Mark Price devised the idea of telling the story of a zombie apocalypse from the viewpoint of someone who turns into a zombie. It is easy to nitpick a film that was made for almost no money on its shortcomings. Maybe it's because I'm part of that world as a filmmaker myself that I know you can't fault a filmmaker on things that most likely they had no control over. What I look for are the above notions as to whether they can tell a story and how well they can tell it. Well, Mark Price knows how to tell a story and tell it with some very wonderful shots. My main beef is the fact that there is a lot of shakycam in the film but it is done in spots to help hide certain things so I can let it slide. What  surprises me about the film is there are a few really great emotional moments. Something you never find in films on this level.

The world of the micro-to-no-budget film is one that is littered with too many films which leave much to be desired. So when one comes along from a filmmaker that I believe has a very strong future ahead of him and told and made well then it deserves my praise and admiration.

Friday, December 17, 2010

In The Works

I am starting to work on my Best Of The Year lists which I have to admit I get a kick out of doing. My plan is to do a year wrap up plus my picks for best of the year in movies and I might do one for my favorite Blu-ray releases as well. I would do one for TV but I don't watch that many TV shows. The year wrap up will be more of a mish mosh of other things anyway.

I will probably break it up into different posts. My guess is the Blu-ray one will be the first of the bunch. But who knows? That's the exiting part. Right? Um ... right? Er ...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

(re)search my Trash Interview With Me

I recently did one of my favorite interviews for (re)search my covering my films and me as a filmmaker.

You can check it out HERE

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Coming Soon

Coming soon will be a few posts to wrap up the year including the traditional Best Of lists. There were a lot of films I didn't see this year that I'm sure other people will gasp at them not being on my list. However I did see some pretty amazing films.

I know things have been a little light lately but I've been busy getting my own film off the ground and getting my last one out there. But I am still here and will post whenever I can. So keep an eye out for the year end wrap up.

And for no reason other than it was the first thing I thought of when I typed "coming soon" here is the 'Creepshow' trailer.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

RIP Leslie Nielsen

I'm sure by now most of you have heard of the passing of Leslie Nielsen. So sad. I am sure we all have our special memories from all of the vast films he has done. You can see his IMDb listing here.

A very underrated actor in many ways. Some people take for granted how hard it is to do comedy. Especially do it so well. Before he broke out doing comedy he was known as a very serious actor. But after knocking the ball out of the park in 'Airplane' he sought it out as comedy not only gave him a great satisfaction personally and professionally but it gave him a second career basically.

He will be truly missed by so many fans who continue to grow. Tonight as I look on Twitter and Facebook I see people of all ages mourn his passing. His legacy of a truly amazing body of work will be remembered forever.

I leave with this little bit from one of my favorite films 'Creepshow'. Much like his breath Leslie Nielsen's films will live for a loooooooooong time.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

It's that time for another Thanksgiving. That means for some of us it's time for turkey, stuffing, and family. It can also be a time for some movies. If you're alone it's a way to pass the day. If you're with family it's a way to pass the day.

I decided to go through and pick out some films I think might make good Thanksgiving films. Some for specific reasons while others were just ... eh, why not? So for no real reason here are a few picks by me of films to watch this Thanksgiving.

We'll start off with the one that actually works the best.

PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES - One of the few films that actually uses the holiday of Thanksgiving as a backdrop. It's a hilarious and even touching film starring Steve Martin and John Candy from the late great genius John Hughes.

The rest are in alphabetical order.

BACK TO THE FUTURE -Nothing says family more than going back in time and interrupting the meeting of your parents. One of those films where the concept and the execution is just perfect. What can I say that you probably don't already know? A fun film that would be a nice escape this turkey day.

BAD TASTE - Peter Jackson's first film about aliens coming to Earth to turn humans into an international fast food snack. Sounds perfect for a day like this.

BURNT OFFERINGS - We all have our creepy relatives. Well, this one has creepy relatives and a creepy house to boot. It's the day for creepy family so why not check this one out. And I think I need to say creepy relatives one more time ...

THE EXPENDABLES - Maybe it's because it just came out on video but this fun throwback action film seems to fit. Let's face it, on a day like Thanksgiving we might be in the mood to watch some ass kicking.

FEAST - Ugly creatures that like to eat and have sex. No, I don't mean your uncle and his strange new bride. A group of folks trapped in a tavern fighting off some creatures with big teeth is pretty much exactly what most of us will be dealing with anyway. So why not watch it?

SALO - My one out there recommendation. The infamous film about school children who are kidnapped and then turned into slaves to do the most demeaning things imaginable including the most notorious scene from the film - poop eating. Can't be worse than dried turkey though.

I couldn't find the trailer so instead here is a small clip that makes no sense but ... yeah.

THE SEARCHERS - John Ford's tale featuring one of John Wayne's best performances as he tracks down his niece who has been kidnapped by Indians. A powerful western about family and prejudices.

THE STEPFATHER - It's family time so how about a movie about a crazy stepfather who has an extrememe sense of the perfect family. Check out the brilliant performance by Terry O'Quinn.

TETRO - Family are not exactly what we expect or what we hope. Here's a recent Francis Ford Coppola film that deals with that with a brother going to visit his long lost brother discovering the brother he had is not the person he's found. Like all family reunions.

THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE -The ultimate family dinner scene? One of my favorite films so why not post this.

ZOMBIELAND -What is a day about eating massive amounts of food without mentioning zombies? There are so many to choose from but I decided to go with the recent horror comedy Zombieland which might be the perfect match after pigging out all day.

I have my own yearly tradition so I decided to end this post with it.

KING KONG - I think stemming back to when I was a kid and a local station would show King Kong every Thanksgiving it stuck with me and became my own tradition. Not that the film has a connection outside of that with the day of Thanksgiving but it's a personal connection which at the end of it is the key. I will be watching this while digesting my turkey and pumpkin pie thinking back to when I was a kid and that to me will make the day worthwhile.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Serbian Film Get US Release

I was wondering whether 'A Serbian Film' (which I wrote about here) would be released here in the US. Not to say I thought it wouldn't because of censorship. Moreso whether a distributor would have the testicular fortitude to release it and be able to handle the heat for it. I was informed by a friend over the weekend that it not only got a US release but will have a theatrical run from Invincible Films. A piece over at Dread Central has some of the details as well.

Apparently it'll get a limited release in an R rated form. Not sure how this film will get an R rating. I'm sure it can but it would have to be severely cut. Part of the power of the film is that it is 100% explicit. There will be a very limited run in its unrated form though. My guess is it'll be extremely limited since I don't know how many theatres will show the original version. Right now this is aimed for February of 2011 with a DVD (and hopefully Blu-ray) release of the uncut version to follow with even a showing of the R rated version on Showtime.

Having seen the film a few weeks ago at the Horror Society Film Festival, in what is I believe the only 35mm showing to date in the US of the film, I can honestly say the film has come up in so many conversations. People are both appalled and fascinated by it. A very powerful and well made film. Just one that goes to the extreme. Pretty soon those of you who can take it will be able to judge for yourself.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

It's that time of year once again! As a little throw back I am reposting the links to the fun posts I did last year recommending different films to watch. I hope you enjoy them a second time.

Halloween Movies List #1 - Second Look Halloween Movies

Halloween Movies List #2 - Halloween Tales For Kids

Halloween Movies List #3 - Alternative Halloween Flicks

Halloween Movies List - Classic Halloween Movies

I hope everyone has a very fun and happy Halloween!!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Movie Of The Day - A Serbian Film

A SERBIAN FILM (2010) d: Srdjan Spasojevic

There are movies you always hear about where someone says,"Man, that is messed up." Or something akin to that. A lot of times it is a matter of personal taste. I have had some people get disturbed by things that I wouldn't even flinch at. We all have our things that may freak us out more than others. But then there is the depravity of mankind which I think does reach most of us. Anything that shows the worst of what we are capable of. Especially on a very primal level with no morality. So films like 'Cannibal Holocaust' is pretty disturbing. Not just the real life animal murder but the faked but very realistic cannibalism and rape. Although thanks to a friend who informed me that one of the most infamous scenes from that I guess they used an actual corpse to pull it off (no pun intended) so maybe I should use the word fake loosely. In other cases like the more recent 'A Serbian Film', where the film is indeed fake in its portrayals, it does not shy away from its blunt use of the worst things humans will do to each other for money and bizarre and extreme sexual gratification. I was lucky enough to see this film in a very rare on the big screen in 35mm cinemascope at the Horror Society Film Festival. While some people did walk out I stayed for the whole film.

Normally I try and do a lame attempt at doing a synopsis but this is direct from the website:
MILOS, a retired porn star, leads a normal family life with his wife Maria and six-year old son Petar in tumultuous Serbia, trying to make ends meet. Sudden call from his former colleague Layla will change everything. Aware of his financial problems, Layla introduces Milos to Vukmir- mysterious, menacing and politically powerful figure in pornographic business. A leading role in Vukmir’s new production will provide financial support to Milos and his family for the rest of their lives. A contract insists on his absolute unawareness of a script they will shoot. From then on, Milos is drawn into a maelstrom of unbeleivable cruelty and mayhem devised by his employer, “the director” of his destiny. Vukmir and his cohorts will stop at nothing to complete his vision. In order to escape the living cinematic hell he’s put into, and save his family’s life, Milos will have to sacrifice everything - his pride, his morality, his sanity, and maybe even his own life.

In a Serbian heart of darkness where life is cheaper than a candybar, in a struggle with enemies powerful beyond belief and just as violent and pathologically evil,
chances of surviving are abnormally thin.

This film is graphic in every sense. Some of you may have even heard about the infamous baby scene. It is true. And if you haven't then use your imagination and yes you are imagining it even if you are thinking it can't be that bad. This is one very sick film. However, it is also one very good film. There is a lot of talent at work here even if in many ways the film is unwatchable.

Milos is expertly portrayed by Srdjan Todorovic even though he is put in the most awful situations. The performances elevate the film beyond any cheap thrills film as well. There is nothing cheesy here. This film shows the worst parts of the real torture porn. Faceless and powerful people desire for these videos which to me is the most disturbing aspect to it. It's bad enough that these sick people are making these videos but that there are people with such a desire to see it they will pay a great deal for these people to make it.

While it doesn't shy away from the violence the film is particulary very well shot. I was so impressed by the cinematography by Nemanja Jovanov. This was shot on the RED camera and it looks beautiful. I know that sounds odd considering the some of the content but from a lighting perspective it is one great looking film.

Much has been said about the score which is too pretty amazing in its techno sort of in your face harshness which fits the film perfectly.

The graphic nature of the film will turn off probably 80% of you. And I will say at least 50% of you (if not more) should never see this film. I know that goes against my normal intuition but the graphic nature is something where I do think a lot of people just cannot look past it. In some cases I will make the argument that you need to look past certain elements to see what the film is really about. In a film like this it is hard to do. Which is why I would caution most of you before venturing into it.

This is also a film that is told very well and the violence in all of its extremeness is justified. It needs to show the evil that these people do. And the thing is, while it's dramatized for the sake of a fictionized film, these types of things do happen. At its worst mankind can be one sick being. And while in a dramatic sense the telling of such things in the spoken word can be powerful it does sometimes take the in your face approach to reach people. It's like making a movie about the Nazi's and not showing anything from the holocaust. Sometimes you do need to "go there". While some may question it and even question me in this I do feel that it is on some level justified. But it is one very disturbing and sick film. And I stand by the fact that I think most of you reading this should not watch this film. It is graphic to the extreme. It is violent to the extreme. It is sick to the extreme. It is also one of the year's best films.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Just Take One

Every Halloween filmmaker Adam Green makes a short film through his ArieScope Pictures and this year's one has just posted starring he and filmmaker Joe Lynch. Much like the rest this one is hilariously awesome!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Movie Of The Day - Gladiator

GLADIATOR (2000) d: Ridley Scott

When someone asks me what kind of movies I would like to make 'Gladiator' is always one that comes up. Not only is it one of my favorite films but it is the epitome of what I would love to do as a filmmaker. Take a simple story but enrich it with characters and texture and take it beyond the means of the genre set piece.

'Gladiator' is basically just a simple revenge story told against a Roman backdrop. The story of Maximus (Russell Crowe in his Academy Award winning role), a Roman General who is told he will become the Emperor of Rome once Caesar (Richard Harris) dies. Only Caesar's son Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) is by no means happy with this decision and kills him naming himself as the new Emperor. When Maximus refuses this he is sentenced to death along with his family. He escapes but is too late to save his wife and son. He is then picked up by a traveling slave merchant and sold to become a gladiator. He is so successful that he manages to get back to the great arena in the heart of Rome and get his chance at revenge.

Now in the wrong hands that could be fairly cheesy. Fun but cheesy. Instead it is an astounding epic with such a richness that it was, in my opinion, one of the most deserving of the Best Picture Academy Award in the last decade (along with 'The Lord Of The Rings'). Ridley Scott brings so much to the film with not only the look and feel but he brought on a stellar cast which propels the film out of the usual summer movie fair. And the score is one of my favorite. Hans Zimmer, along with the amazing voice of Lisa Gerard, produced an outstanding and moving musical journey which perfectly matches the film.

Watching it again in the new remastered version I can say the Blu-ray looks incredible.  After the initial release which looked like it was an old HD transfer riddled with DNR this new one (which you can get a replacement for if you have the old one) is just stunning. It is clean but still retains its film-like appearance. Talk about night and day. The old one was pretty bad while this one ranks up with one of the best.

I could go on and on about this film but rest assured it is among my top favorite films and if I could come even remotely close to achieving this in my own career consider my one very happy filmmaker.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Movie Of The Day - Carlito's Way

CARLITO'S WAY (1993) d: Brian DePalma

A movie I have loved since the day I saw it, and one that is one of the influences on my current film 'Dark Light', is Brian DePalma's 'Carlito's Way'. Starring Al Pacino as Carlito Brigante, a former drug smuggler/dealer, who is out of prison and finding things are different than when he went in. His lawyer (Sean Penn) is a cocaine user and gangster wannabe who has troubles of his own having gotten involved with some mobsters. Carlito tries to set his life straight with a dream of escaping to the Carribean and live the simple life with his former love Gail (Penelope Ann Miller) who isn't sure she can trust him after he up and left her before going to jail. But escaping the past and from the surrounding problems proves hard for Carlito as he tries to get away from the bad things except (to borrow a line from 'The Godfather Part III') they pull him back in.

Brian DePalma is at his best here and the film is filled with everything - drama, action, suspense, comedy, and a love story. At the time it was billed as a sort of 'Scarface' follow up and even rip off with the same director and actor trying to rekindle old magic as was stated at the time but it's not. It's actually an outstanding film with fantastic performances and visually wonderful and tightly told. In some ways, although I do love it, I think it's actually a better film than 'Scarface'. A great mix of so many elements and a film I love to revisit from time to time. A truly great film that if you haven't seen it then do yourself a favor and watch it.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Movie Of The Day - Pulp Fiction

PULP FICTION (1994) d: Quentin Tarantino

'Pulp Fiction' is just all kinds of brilliant. Most likely all of you have seen it. If by some chance you haven't then go watch it like now! It is an amazing film and one that introduced the world to Quentin Tarantino. I was already a huge fan after seeing 'Reservoir Dogs' on video when it came out in the spring of 1993. I was like,"Who is this guy because this movie is incredible?!" I followed his career from penning 'True Romance' and then to his second film 'Pulp Fiction'. A film told like a novel (something that has become his trademark) where it jumps around. You follow characters for one story and then jump to other characters for another story but some events take place before or after others so not everything is actually in chronological order. It's never confusing though. And of course Tarantino's pention for dialogue is at play here in full force.

I had not seen it in many years but I was lucky enough to see it on the big screen at the Gene Siskel Film Center this past week. Enough time had passed where the experience was both new and like visiting an old friend. And a reminder that Tarantino is just a genius.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Movie Of The Day - Taxi Driver

TAXI DRIVER (1976) d: Martin Scorsese

For my birthday this year I treated myself to a movie. I realize that may not sound overly special but this was a special showing. At the Gene Siskel Film Center they are doing a summer long event showing different films of Quentin Tarantino and films that have inspired him. Well, one of the inspirations for Tarantino is also one of mine. The fact that they were showing it on my birthday meant that I had to go because something was telling me I needed to. And did I ever.

Knee deep in trying to get my second feature film going I go through bouts of doubt, confusion, anger, and even resentment. So it's nice to sit back and watch something that inspires and even humbles me. I've met a lot of filmmakers over the years and it's always refreshing to meet one that has a similar appreciation that I have for not only films but filmmaking. However, I have met several that think of themselves as either being above where they actually are or just flat out think they are better than others. Now if they made something that was worth bragging about I would cut them some slack but most of them have not. Some have not even made anything at all. At times I may say or do something that makes me feel a bit like the top banana but then I get a nice kick in the pants from filmmakers that remind me that I have much to learn and a long way to go. I've mentioned some of the filmmakers before that humble me - Alfred Hitchcock, Akira Kurosawa, John Ford, Howard Hawks. Martin Scorsese is another.

My favorite Scorsese film (and that is hard to say because there are so many great ones) is 'Taxi Driver'. The bizarre tale of following a man, Travis Bickle (played unlike any other actor could pull off by Robert DeNiro who's birthday is also the same as mine so only fitting even more), who is on the verge of insanity but at the same time basically disappears into society. Another face in the crowd. He drives a taxi at night but becomes obsessed with a woman Betsy (Sybill Shepard) who works at a campaign office and the desire to take out the politician she is working for after his attempts to woo her fail. He then has a similar, albeit different, obsession with a young prostitute Iris (Jodie Foster) whom he wants to save from her pimp Sport (Harvey Keitel). The fine line between being a villain (killing a politician) and a hero (killing a pimp)? Fascinating question. A film that could be picked apart to no end for sure. But the artistry with how it is told is something that is just staggering. And the absolutely amazing score by one of cinema's great composers Bernard Herrmann is, dare I say, one of the best ever done. It perfectly captures the harsh off balance nature of the film with the beautiful artistry of the images.

The film lives in a world of its own. It is almost one you can't categorize. Scorsese has said that a lot of the images were inspired by horror films yet the film is not really a horror film. The dark nature of the film keeps it from being a drama. There are even some good comical moments but the film is far from a comedy. It is its own film. It is just simply 'Taxi Driver'. One of my all time favorite films. I cannot think of a better birthday present to myself than to experience it once again on the big screen. Plus I needed the humbling and inspiration.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Movie Of The Day - Shutter Island

SHUTTER ISLAND (2010) d: Martin Scorsese

It is no secret that while I may be outnumbered on this that I was no fan of Martin Scorsese's Academy Award winning film 'The Departed'. In fact, I think it is pretty horrible. But many of my friends think I am nuts for that. It also gets worse when I say that I think 'Gangs Of New York' is brilliant. That being said, I felt that Scorsese, whom I absolutely admire and lionize, is a filmmaker I was beginning to fear was moving past his golden era. That maybe his good days were behind him. While I felt that 'Gangs' was (and is) incredible that perhaps he had put so much into the film (I believe it took him like 25 years to have it made into a movie) and the lukewarm response it got might have made him doubt himself. His following films, for me anyhow, were pretty subpar. While I dislike 'The Departed', 'The Aviator' was decent albeit a mixed bag. Scorsese, a lover of the horror genre, decided to venture into genre territory with 'Shutter Island'. The main problem with the film is that I figured out the big twist almost immediately. Actually I was guessing what it was before I ever saw the movie. Not every last detail but the main aspect of it. So it never surprised me. In fact, it left me a bit let down. That being said, and upon a second viewing, I will say that this is Scorsese's best since 'Gangs of New York' in my opinion. While the big twist was no surprise for me I did appreciate the telling of the story. It is told well. And on my second viewing I really appreciated the unfolding of it and the technicalties of it. It is one amazing film visually. Scorsese knows when to speed things up and when to slow them down. The feel of the film is one of unease and nervousness. And Leonardo Dicaprio, who can be hit or miss with me, is excellent in this part of a US Marshall sent to Shutter Island, a hospital for the criminally insane located on an island, in search of a missing patient. Only he is hiding secrets of his own.

While the big surprise twist was no big surprise for me (although if it is for you then I think you will love this flick) it is still amazing how it unfolds and the look and feel just show how much of a master Scorsese is. This film holds up on the second viewing. In fact, I liked it a lot more on the second viewing. Which makes the knowing of the big twist insignificant and the sign of a great film. I'm glad Scorsese hasn't lost it. Just please no more 'Departed''s.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

What You Talkin' 'Bout, Willies?

Andre over at the awesome The Horror Digest blog put out a call for people to post things from movies that give them the willies. I tried to mix it up a little by picking some stuff that freaked me out as a kid and some more recent film moments. I listed my ten in alphabetical order.

Side note, is it me or does searching for screen caps a major pain? I could not believe how much it sucked. Search engines seem to turn up everything but what you put in. So not every picture/screencap matches the moment I'm talking about.

Please take notice that a lot of these will contain SPOILERS. My picks:

An American Werewolf In London - As a kid I some how managed to get my dad to take me to see this film. What I didn't know is that I would be traumatized for years to come. The opening scene where David and Jack are being surrounded and eventually attacked by the werewolf messed me up. For years to come if I was ever outside at night, especially near any kind of wooded area, I always wondered if a werewolf was going to come out and get me.

The Amityville Horror - While the actual case is most likely a hoax the film is still a scary tale. And one scene that freaked me out as a kid (and possibly as an adult too but I won't say) is when the young daughter claims she has an imaginary friend who is a pig. One time when the mom comes in and the girl claims she just scared her friend out the window the mom playfully goes to the window to play along only to see two big red eyes staring at her with a pig sound squealing. Heebie jeebies.

Burnt Offerings - Another kid creepy moment which freaked me out has to do with the driver from this movie. The guy appears at one point (which is the actual screen shot above) and it creeped me out.

Creepshow - While my love of 'Creepshow' knows no bounds it was almost unwatchable for me at one point because of the one segment called "The Crate". The first time "Fluffy" attacks a lowly janitor and turns him into a meal freaked me out so much I had to leave the theatre and ended up watching the rest of the segment from the lobby.

The Exorcist - What is probably the scariest film ever for me, and I am sure I could point out several moments, but one specifically is the appearance of the infamous demon face during Father Karrass' dream. The quick flash, while only a few frames long, is enough to make you think the film itself is possessed. I can't even look at the picture. *shivers*

The Eye - One of the Japanese ghost films (among the hundreds that have come out) that I found effective. One scene that made me jump out of my chair was when the lead character, who sees ghosts everywhere, sees a woman who comes right at her claiming to get out of her chair. I am glad no one saw me jump because it literally got me.

Henry Portrait Of A Serial Killer - One of the creepiest and disturbing scenes, and one that made me creeped out even being in my own house, was the infamous scene when Henry and Otis have videotaped their attack on a family and are watching it. It is so disturbing that even the dark humor of the film is no where to be found.

Session 9 - Without a doubt one of the creepiest things I've seen in the last ten years is in this film. When one character sneaks back into the hospital to steal some items he's found buried in a wall he finds getting out is a little hard in this abandoned place. He hears something and when he looks back down the hallway he sees a figure appear. A simple image but one that is just completely scary. Just made my hair stand on end thinking about it.

Paranormal Activity - I was one of the people that found this film really creepy and the one moment that really got to me because it went beyond what I was already freaked out about (sounds, a door closing) is when the lead character is actually dragged out of bed and down the hall. Making you realize things are indeed getting worse.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre - The first appearance of Leatherface is definitely one that gave me the willies. It was so intense and almost unbelievable because it just happens. No build up. He comes out and hits the guy with the hammer and slams the door shut. So stunning and very shocking.

So these were my picks. I could have listed more but I wanted to have a few different ones. Some childhood picks and more recent ones. List your own and share.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Movie Of The Day - Schindler's List

SCHINDLER'S LIST (1993) d: Steven Spielberg

When I woke up this morning I didn't expect to be watching this film to start my day. While waiting for my coffee to brew I was flipping around the TV when I came across 'Schindler's List' on cable. I didn't want to stay on it as the subject matter is one that is hard to watch for just entertainment purposes while waiting for your breakfast beverage. But it was near the beginning and I was struck by the incredible cinematography in the stark black and white images. Having not seen the film in many years I had forgotten much about it. My coffee machine let out its steam as it finished brewing but I was no where to be found. Instead I was glued to the TV for 3 hours.

The story of Oskar Schindler a factory owner who profiteered from the use of slave labor during the war only to realize that his pursuit of money was inadvertently saving the lives of many Jews from being executed by the Nazi's. His realization leads him to spend everything he owns to save as many of them as he can. The harsh realism of the way the Nazi's treated and murdered Jews is unlike any other kind of cinema violence. It has a brutality and realistic portrayal unlike any I have seen. I was both enthralled by the incredible artistry of the film from its look and feel to the emotional depth it went leaving me in tears by the end of it. While certain shots and moments I had not forgotten since when I had seen the film before there was much I had forgotten. So the experience was near new.

While 'Jaws' will always be my personal favorite Steven Spielberg film 'Schindler's List' is without a doubt his best film. While not the ideal way to start my day I can think of no better way of spending it.

And yes, I did eventually get my coffee.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Doing Some EFX Tests

Going off a few tutorials from the amazing website I did some playing around in After Effects. I'm doing tests for my new film 'Dark Light' (that I wrote about here). These are not effects related to the film itself. Just testing out various methods. These effects are just for fun. They aren't polished as they were each done in a little over an hour.

Using the above still picture I animated it to look like it was live footage from a helicopter. Plus a little added surprise.

This next one I used the same photograph but did a missile test. Plus a slight camera shake and zoom as the explosion happens. There is a lot at work in this one. I couldn't even begin to explain all of the different elements and layers at work here. But look at the above photo and then see everything added.

Elements used include Action Essentials 2 and Optical Flares from, and Particular from Trapcode.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

We're Gonna Need A Bigger Boat

'Jaws' is easily one of my favorite films. It has so much that it is literally something special. It has action, adventure, horror, humor, drama, and even a little emotion. A film that still holds up to this day. What was feared to be an astonishing disaster during its making turned into something that changed the film industry forever. It marked the birth of the summer blockbuster.

A young Steven Spielberg stopped at nothing to make sure his film was not shut down despite an escalating budget and constant technical problems with the film's star - the mechanical shark. Resorting to the Val Lewton technique of not showing the creature but implying its presence led to a stroke of creative genius which went on to terrify audiences who were too afraid to go swimming at their local beach but were more than happy to line up at the movie theatre for the carnage.

Starring the late Roy Scheider and featuring Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw the film is basically the ultimate man versus nature story. A modern day Moby Dick. The last half of the film being the three main characters setting out to sea to track down and kill the monster that has been attacking the local shores. Where this film could have been just a fun film and nothing more instead underneath has a line of drama which is ever so present in the real reactions people have of what is happening. Plus the utter genius of what is perhaps one of, if not my all time, favorite scene where the Robert Shaw character Quint breaks out of the rusty seaman cliche and creates a fully rounded character with the telling of his experience on the Indianapolis. What I affectionately call the "Quint Speech". A moment in a film where something about a character makes them fully realized. Never has this been better done than with this scene. 

So on June 20, 1975 audiences were treated to a film which would both terrify them and yet have them line up around the block for more. A young filmmaker went from being a guy holding a sinking ship afloat (literally) to being one of the biggest directors in film history. Generation after generation discovers this incredible film and it continues to live on. The oft quoted line,"We're gonna need a bigger boat," could be changed to,"We're gonna need a bigger movie theatre."

Congratulations to everyone involved in this masterpiece and I salute the film which is one of my personal favorites that continues to entertain and inspire me to this very day.

*Images taken from

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dark Light - My New Film

Sorry for the lack of posts lately but I've been a little busy. As some of you know I'm a filmmaker. My first film 'Distortion' is starting to make the festival rounds. Right now I'm prepping for my second feature. It's an action thriller called 'Dark Light'. Needless to say this is going to consume most of my time so posts may in fact be a little on the light side over the next few months. I'll try and squeeze in a few here and there. I am still here just a little on the busy side.

Here are a few links for anyone interested in following the film:

The Official Website (which is coming soon) is HERE

The official Facebook page is HERE

The official Twitter is HERE

The official MySpace page is HERE

There is also a blog covering the production HERE

It is a very low budget film and I'll be making it (much like the last film) with no crew. So any and all support is greatly appreciated.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Movie Of The Day - Minority Report

MINORITY REPORT (2002) d: Steven Spielberg

What was billed, and released, as a summer blockbuster I think slightly hurt a film that is more than that. While there is action and a star lead this Steven Spielberg film, based on a short story by Phillip K. Dick, is really an old fashioned film noir.

Three people have the pre-sight of people being murdered so the Pre-Crime division gets the scattered images from the "precogs" and decyphers them to discover who is going to be murdered and by whom. Then they swoop in and arrest the person before the crime happens. John Anderton (Tom Cruise) heads the unit until one day one of the visions reveals himself murdering a stranger. This leads to an unraveling of a mystery with twists and turns and even a few action sequences. But this science fiction film is at heart an old fashioned film noir set against a science fiction backdrop. And I absolutely love film noir so this film was really something when I saw it in the theatre upon release. This is also arguably, after 'Saving Private Ryan', Spielberg's best film since 'Schindler's List'. A tight film with some real suspenseful moments and a climax that is about character not explosions. So strange that a big budget sci-fi summer movie with state of the art digital effects is more in line with the low budget black and white films of the 1940's. And desevedly so. An underrated film and one I was happy to revisit.

RIP Dennis Hopper - The Man Who Saved Hollywood

I'm sure everyone has heard of the passing of Dennis Hopper. It was only a matter of time unfortunately with him having cancer but it's still sad when it happens. Much will be written about he and his movies. His drug years. His amazing up and down career. His friendships with all kinds of people including the late great James Dean. A man who lived life to the fullest (perhaps too full sometimes) and has left a mark unlike few before him. However one such mark is the fact that the man saved Hollywood.

During the 1960's Hollywood revenue had dropped drastically and the studios were on the verge of bankruptcy. People weren't going to the movies as much and with the social climate at the time more kids were getting high and/or protesting the war (specifically the draft more than the war but that's a whole other thing) so no one was invading their local theatre for the latest Hollywood had to offer which wasn't really much. The films being turned out at the time were not ones anyone wanted to see. Hollywood had lost touch with the current crop of moviegoers. They were in a downward spiral until one actor decided to make his own movie. A hippie drug biker flick starring he and his buddy and a few friends. The film was 'Easy Rider'. A low budget film that no one at the studios even understood. And quite frankly some of us in the audience didn't either. But the film struck a chord with the people at the time and it became a huge success. Hollywood scratched its head and decided they were out of touch and knew their only hope was to grab onto young directors and let them do their thing. Out of this came the careers of Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Brian DePalma, William Friedkin, Peter Bogdanovich, Martin Scorsese ... and the list goes on and on. These filmmakers in turn redefined Hollywood and soon both the amazing films of the 1970's came about plus the birth of the modern blockbuster.

If not for 'Easy Rider' then who knows what would have happened. All because one man decided he wasn't seeing the films he wanted to see and went out and made his own. 'Easy Rider' isn't just about the hippie movement of the 1960's but about how one man created something that he felt was missing and it ended up changing everything.

That man was Dennis Hopper. Rest in peace.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Movie Of The Day - Collateral


It's no secret one of my favorite filmmakers is Michael Mann. I just think he makes such amazing films. His action films are a clear example of the kind I want to make. They have the action but have a very strong dramatic element to them which I love. One such film is 'Collateral' which stars Jamie Foxx as a cab driver who picks up Vincent (Tom Cruise), a hitman who came to town to take out five people. The two of the them are fantastic in their polar opposite characters and the film plays out almost as a bizarre buddy picture only on a more serious note. There's action, surprises, but mainly just great characters. An amazing film from an amazing filmmaker. I hadn't seen it in a few years but experiencing it again on Blu-ray sure did make my evening. And inspired me as well.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Happy Star Wars Day

Today is 'Star Wars' day and to celebrate it I am posting this special post for it. I know I've gushed over 'Star Wars' in the past. And for those that know me personally they have heard it to death. It's hard not to though. The usual fan boy celebration of the films and the mythology and yes, even the lightsabers can be found everywhere. However, 'Star Wars' has very personal meaning for me. It takes it to a different level of appreciation because I might be a different person today if not for it.

When I was 3 going on 4 my parents took my sister and I to see it at the theatre. When your that age pretty much anything bright will grab hold of your attention but this was different. I was completely mesmerized by the powerful iconic images on the screen before me. It was such an awe inspiring moment that it changed everything. I became fascinated by the moving image. By visual storytelling. Whether I was watching movies or TV I found myself studying it even before I knew what the technical aspects of it were. When I played with my toys my eye became the camera. I would move in real close for a close up or pull out for a wide shot. I would repeat actions so that I could view them from different angles. All before I knew what any of that was. I didn't know about camera angles, editing, cinematography. I just wanted my imagination to mimic what I see on the screen.

As I grew older I learned more about the filmmaking process and knew from a very young age that a director was what I wanted to be. It's all I knew how to be. People would tell me how cute it was and that I would grow out of it. But I didn't. It only became more intense as the years went on. Even when people told me I needed to find a "real" career to invest in I was determined. I even had teachers tell me to give it up only to come around and tell me to keep going no matter what after they saw how determined I was.

I made my first feature film 'Distortion' which I literally just finished. It was many years in the making and I made it on my own with almost no money. But my love of movies and of filmmaking stems back to that one moment when a young child was completely enthralled by the film playing out in front of him. 'Star Wars' changed my life and I cannot be more thankful. I don't know who I would be today if that had never happened. Quite honestly I don't want to know. I like who I have become. I only hope that little kid who dreamed of becoming a filmmaker one day feels the same way.

Here is the one moment from any film that I feel defines me. It is only fitting that it is from 'Star Wars'. That sense of dreaming for something that seems so far away. Hoping one day to reach it.

Thank you 'Star Wars' for everything you have done for me. May the Force be with you.