Spooky Short: ‘Deathigner”

Today may be Halloween, but not all ghouls want to be scary. This wouldn’t be such an issue…unless of course you’re the son of the Grim Reaper.

Screen Shot 2013-10-31 at 1.41.38 PM

We stumbled across this hilarious and heartwarming animated short which comes straight from the National Taiwan University of Arts. It’s a wonderfully spooky and well produced piece, and we know you’ll especially love it on a day like today.

Have a safe, spooky, and happy Halloween!

anime-top


Mini-Movie Review: ‘You’re Next’

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 8.53.13 AM

On the surface, ‘You’re Next’ appears to be a formulaic slasher film akin to 2008’s ‘The Strangers’.

Directed and edited by Adam Wingard (most notably known for his 2012 surprisingly creepy and original ‘V/H/S’) the film first premiered at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. The trailer for the film is misleading in conveying both the tone and what to expect. The Perfect Weekend and The Perfect Family fade across the screen to images of a beautiful country home and boisterous dinner. I was pleasantly surprised that the film was entirely not what I was expecting having seen the trailer.

1374185285000-youre-next-03-300dpi-1307181811_4_3

At the risk of spoiling too much, I’ll say very little about any of the characters backstory. ‘You’re Next’ is categorized as a Dark Comedy, which won’t make sense until you see it. If you’ve seen ‘Cabin in the Woods’ you’ll have a good idea of what to expect. It’s a spoof without being gimmicky or over the top, and I can only think of one word to describe it: cathartic.

I believe Adam Wingard set out to make a horror film unburdened by those irritating tendencies of characters and movies past: the hero/heroine surviving by pure luck; villains immune to harm or mistakes; and worse still a characters inability to walk, instead crawling away in terror though they have no injuries. This movie has none of those pitfalls. The acting, cinematography, editing and story are all top notch.

‘You’re Next’ is a clever, brutal, cathartic horror film that will leave you feeling empowered, not underwhelmed.

youre-next-movie-image-05

 


The Holidays with Charlie Brown and Co.

Tis the time of year when all festivities are apparent and ever-changing. From one month to next we are given holidays; beacons of excitement which guide us through the tumultuous days in-between. Unsurprisingly, this is one of our favorite times of year.

And who better to share in the spirit than The Peanuts? Like pleasantly recalled memories from our childhoods, each of their holiday movies encourage the nostalgia. We find Tom Whalen’s design work to be memorable, elegant, and all-encompassing when it comes to these classics, with each piece exhibits a tone and mood appropriate to their subject matter.

Like the jovial gathering of a Thanksgiving feast.

Or a child’s moving monologue of finding meaning in the materialism, in the beauty of a winters night.

And the mysterious excitement that comes with being a child on Halloween.

Times have changed, becoming more digital and less personal. And yet despite the changes, some things thankfully stay the same. They remain timeless, and undying.


Heroes. Villains. Humans.

Performance drives cinema, that much has always been clear. Since the silent era days of Charlie Chaplain, Douglas Fairbanks, and Greta Garbo, our responses to the subject matter present within any given film have varied depending on the skill of the actor within. Throughout film history characters have fallen into three categories: that of the Hero, that of the Villain, and (increasingly so in this modern era) that of the Human.

No one  grouping is superior to another; as that is a case-by-case subject dependent on the actor in the role, bringing to mind the saying, “(He/She) stole the show!” Yet if performance drives cinema, (as it is entertainment, though some films are more “artistic” than others) then only by a cohesive working of the writing, cinematography, and all other facets of filmmaking do you witness something noteworthy.

Heroes, unmovable and incorruptible, face adversity with an inner strength many of us wish we had.

Villains, the true kind of which there is no mistaking, are as thrilling as they are unnerving to watch.

And Humans, flawed in ways which we often can relate all too well to, engage us in the most thoughtful of ways: offering us the chance to imagine ourselves in their shoes, making the same decisions, and facing the same outcomes.

We are separated only by circumstance, for we created them. Be they echoes or interpretations, aspects of their personas exist within the writer, the actor, the audience. It’s the believability of a character that is the most powerful, driven by performance and absorbed by the insatiable eyes of the masses, be they a Hero, Villain, or Human.

Is there a performance, Human, Villain, Hero, or otherwise which has captivated you so intensely?


If You Write, You Read, And You Should Read This

Despite being published 12 years ago, Stephen King: On Writing remains a compass and road map to every pencil-wielding, Starbuck’s-visting, laptop-carrying, self proclaimed wordsmith of varying degree. There exists within every page a refreshing volume of honesty; an amount which may have proven (and still prove) to be far too…well, honest, for some.

Unrestrained by ego or ill-will, Stephen King holds nothing back in admitting the struggles of any who choose to make sense of their world through words, and yet in recounting his past reveals the joys and plausibility of a life spent doing just that.

A mini-biography of sorts, the life of Stephen King was, in the early days, not nearly as grand as any who’ve read his fiction may envision. The arduos challenges, some comical and others dismal, which he reflects upon are entirely human in their vulnerability, and as a reader I found myself experiencing fleeting echoes of what he may have felt; the joy of a father unable to afford medicine for his sick child coming home to an unexpected paycheck/publishing; excitement at the phone call which finally propelled him into the spotlight; pity and pain when, years later, a van nearly took his life.

By all accounts, I am a fan. That much is clear I’m sure. What I mean to get at specifically is exactly what I’ve said in the title of this post: If you write, you read, and you should read this. As one who writes daily I’m forever grateful for the pointing out of weaker areas in my own work, like taking a college course from your favorite professor for all of $16.

If you’ve read and enjoyed any of Stephen King’s work, are interested in what made him who he is, or are looking for an entertaining way to learn how to better your craft, I implore you to pick up a copy of On Writing for yourself.

“The real importance of reading is that it creates an ease and intimacy with the process of writing…the more you read, the less apt you are to make a fool of yourself with your pen or word processor.” –Stephen King, On Writing (pg. 150)


Mini-Movie Review: ‘Skyfall’

From the very beginning you know this is Bond, pure and unrestrained.

After a reboot comparable to Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, 007 found himself the #1 spy once more with Daniel Craig at the helm. However, an unrefined film with a plot as convoluted as it’s title, Quantum of Solace left many movie-goers feeling rather dissatisfied. In an effort to come back strong, director Sam Mendes and his talented team chose to go back to basics while still retaining that 21st century sense of style and relevance.

It was the right decision on many levels. The headlining single “Skyfall” by Adele serves well to the symbolic, dramatic, and haunting opening title sequence, while Javier Bardem brought his reliable sense of unease and creepiness to a villan who, in the wrong hands, would’ve instead been ridiculous.

In an effort not to spoil anything, I won’t delve too deeply into the plot points which so characterize and callback the Sean Connery days of James Bond. The script here is a polished, engrossing work of cinematic set-pieces and calculated coolness. The exotic locations, a staple of the series, are varied and utilized as more than mere scenery, and Bond himself by the end is a far more interesting person and character for the revelations found across his journey.

This is Bond at his best.

9/10


Mini-Movie Review: ‘Cloud Atlas’

A visual smorgasbord with more storyline’s than it knew what to do with, ‘Cloud Atlas’ is a beautiful film suffering from an over-ambitious script.

I managed to stay intrigued despite a just under 3 hour run time, and hardly once felt bored or uninterested. But as it neared it’s climax, I was left feeling disappointed at an unrealized merging of arcs. Like a science fiction, fantasy version of “Pulp Fiction” without any of the cohesiveness or knowledge of where or how the plot points would ultimately connect.

Many of the more interesting ideas and concepts are forgotten and left as ambiguous, which, while frustrating, seems intentional. The cinematography is stunning, and most of the acting is on the same level. The futuristic Neo-Seoul arc is immediately engaging, staying unique and leaving you wanting more of Jim Sturgess and Xun Zhou. In fact, I felt more of a chemistry and “fated” pairing between the two of them than the powerhouse combo of Tom Hanks/Halle Berry.

The editing overall is satisfactory, and a particular sequence involving a slave raising a ships mast while such events are mirrored in an alternate timeline is unforgettable and sparks a desire for more scenes crafted with such obvious vision and planning.

Surely everyone walked away having experienced (and felt) something different, and therein lies the films greatest achievement.

7.5 out of 10