Tag Archives: Movie

Mini-Movie Review: ‘You’re Next’

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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.

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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.

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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


The Ultimate October Movie

We hope you are having a wonderful October so far! And if you haven’t yet watched “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown”, your fall season hasn’t officially begun!

Enjoy this wonderfully designed print then heat up some apple cider, and watch it.

Happy October!

 


Album Review: Metric – Synthetica

“I make all that I believe, I set myself free. So take all the time you need, and let yourself be.” “Artificial Nocturne” by Metric

Emily Haines and her band don’t hold back in their new album Synthetica. Not lyrically, not musically, and certainly not artistically. Overall it is a worthy successor to their groundbreaking Fantasies released back in 2009.

Let’s talk about what it isn’t: Synthetica is neither a re-hash of Fantasies nor a collection of “lost” songs thrown together and called a new album. It’s obvious the thought that went into creating each track, as they stand on their own individually while also flowing into one another in a full-album play through.

An example of the visual inspiration & representation of Synthetica

Their first single “Youth Without Youth” took some getting used to. It didn’t have the same depth lyrically as other songs. But once you memorized the beat and song, it grew on you. The flowing ballad of “Speed the Collapse” is a dark, stormy song full of Haines’ beautiful melodies and a powerhouse chorus that will leave you breathless.

“Youth Without Youth” music video – click to watch

“Lost Kitten” is the most surprising track of them all, being something of a pop song without being that simple. It shows off Haines’ vocal range and is a nice break from the relatively dark tracks that precede it. Their title track “Synthetica” is catchy and far less dark than some of the other tracks. Rather their use of synthesized notes and a constant electric guitar evoke something of their neon-lit, electric inspiration Blade Runner.

Emily Haines on set during the “Youth Without Youth” music video shoot

Haines’ described Synthetica as being, “about forcing yourself to confront what you see in the mirror when you finally stand still long enough to catch a reflection. Synthetica is about being able to identify the original in a long line of reproductions. It’s about what is real vs what is artificial.”


Avoiding Predictability

“We have a duty towards music, namely, to invent it.” ~Igor Stravinsky

I recently sat down with Gradient’s Musical Composer, Sound Designer, & Editor Nathanael Sams to talk about how he approaches writing music for promotional videos.

“I’m actually really intimidated every time I have to start a new project. I’ll sit down at my piano and have ProTools open and just try to find the right melody. And once I find it, I begin building a chord progression around it.”

“I typically use ProTools, Logic, and Garage Band. It’s all Mac based. When I started using a Mac, I discovered MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface). So everything I do pretty much revolves around MIDI instrumentation.

“In the movie What Women Want they do this ad campaign for Nike I think, and it’s really emotional and piano based and I remember that really inspiring me. I’m a big fan of piano based commercials because I think they’re the hardest to pull off.

“There’s this delay effect that people will put on the audio that makes it sound like they’re playing more notes than they are-”

(David) “It seems like it’s a lot easier to try to be really complex and overdue it, and then the most successful things are the most simple. Is that true?”

(Nathanael) “Yeah actually when I’m composing, I really try to be unpredictable. The hard thing is that your ears are accustomed to hearing a 1-4-5 chord progression which sounds really happy and pleasant. And a lot of people will try to mix in chords that don’t work well together. I’ll use Garage Band on my iPhone and basically be able to enter a chord that I’m starting with, and it will show me chords that work together with that.”

“You can always do a really powerful song using just a few notes on the piano. Like in Jaws, there’s this really beautiful, haunting melody through out the entire film.”

“Basically what I’m trying to say is that the greatest music comes from simplicity. You don’t always have to, or want to, be predictable with the music.”


Make It Happen

“I was directing before I knew it was called that.” -Guillermo Del Toro

Rebecca Noles:

      “I’ve been directing & producing since I was 10 years old and putting on Christmas pageants in the living room for my parents. I’ve learned a few things along the way and am offering them as advice to anyone interested or pursuing either field. I do, however, reserve the right to change this advice at any time in future blogs.

Directing

Directing is about need: What the script needs, what the crew needs, what the audience needs.

As a director, your only job is to acknowledge all the different needs within each department and guide them toward a finished product. Sometimes all the Director of Photography needs is to feel like he has permission to try something new. There are times an actor needs the director to take his/her eyes off the monitor and simply have a conversation with them. Sometimes an editor just needs you to get out of their way.

Acknowledge the need and work to fulfill it.

Producing

Being a producer at a small production company can be categorized into three main jobs:

  1. Make sure people have what they need to do their jobs to the best of their ability.
  2. Make sure everyone knows where & when to show up.
  3. Make sure the cast & crew members eat, sleep, are groomed, and stay caffeinated.
Being a producer is about serving the people who make the project happen.”