Archives for category: Film

No. Although my boyfriend will disagree with me, so I guess if you like action regardless of story, then you won’t mind spending the cash.

I will follow the fold of comments already out there, and state that you probably should already have watched (and loved) the previous X-Men films to have any sort of enjoyment from this latest instalment.

And to be honest, you probably won’t need to watch it in the cinema, unless you want to support the franchise so they can get better direction and script for the next one.

 

Poster of X-men: Days of Future Pasts

The future and past founding fathers of X-Men. And Wolverine and Mystique who just never die. Ever. Maybe Mystique should get her own film too. At least now when she is played by JLaw

 

What is this film?

“X-Men: Days of Future Pasts” is the latest addition to a long line of X-Men films. If you count the Wolverine spin-offs, this will make it the seventh in total, the second of the reinvented X-Men where the story started from the beginning.

It is directed by Bryan Singer, who directed the first two films of the original trilogy. This initially gave me some hope that this film would recover what was lacking from “X-Men: First Class”, a movie that I found so bad I couldn’t shut up about it in the cinema. My boyfriend was thoroughly annoyed.

There are too many familiar faces in this movie, I will just name them by their character names.

 

Where does this movie start?

“X-Men: First Class” left us with Charles Xavier wheelchair bound after Magneto (also named Eric Lensherr) accidentally bends a bullet into his spine. He is determined to start a school for mutants. Magneto has left with a whole bunch of the other mutants, including Mystique.

“X-Men: Days of Future Pasts” starts with a gang of mutants we don’t already know who defeat some crazy, adaptable robots by transporting one of their party’s consciousness back in time to warn them of the attack.

The old gang of mutants from the original trilogy, find out about this skill and want to use it to send Wolverine back in time. He is to prevent the incidents that led to the rise in mutant hostility and the production of the robots that have now made nearly all mutants instinct.

Wolverine travels back to a moment in between “X-Men: First Class” and the original movies, so there is some time there where only comic book fans will know what was going on.

 

Is it worth a cinema ticket?

You would think that a large franchise like X-Men, with their spectacular effects and even 3D, would in it self make me want to recommend that you buy a ticket. And that was my presumption when I chose this movie for this month’s “Is it worth a cinema ticket?” entry.

Alas, this is not the case.

They forget that I want to feel something. Specifically I want to feel the community and friendship that made me want to go to Xavier’s school for gifted youngsters in the first films. That’s what made me want to be a mutant. That is what made me love the franchise.

I realize that the school is not up and running, and that where there before was a clean-cut divide between Xavier and his students, and Magneto and his minions, it is now a blur of different shades of grey as to who is with whom, who is good or bad.

But it should still be possible to find other elements that will drive home those feelings that this movie sorely needs.

 

Is it worth a 3D cinema ticket?

The 3D is not put to any good use other than to vamp up the ticket price. And that is only a benefit for everyone else but you.

I know that cheesy 3D effects make you loose the plot, are inadvisable and frankly belong in a theme park, but when you are surrounded by mutants with all different kinds of powers that involve things hovering in the air, I do find it odd that I didn’t find the 3D beneficial.

Just 2D it and buy a bigger size popcorn.

 

Is it entertaining?

My boyfriend loved it to bits. But then again he loved “X-Men First Class” so he is obviously blinded when it comes to X-Men (sorry beau).

To me, the fact that he loves it, is another notch in favour of the fact that only people who have already seen and loved the X-Men franchise, will recognize enough elements in the story to be satisfied.

There is a lot of: “Oh, who is that one again?”, “I loved that in the old ones”, “Yeah that ties up neatly with [insert fact].”

However, there is nothing wrong with making a movie just for the fans. As long as you have enough fans.

 

Why isn’t the movie good enough?

I love all the actors in the film; James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, Hugh Jackman, and of course all the other characters from the old universe.

So, this movie has all the pieces that I need to love a movie: great concept, exceptional talent and interesting relationship dynamics. They just don’t quite get there.

I want this movie to be better than it is. I want it to achieve the greatness of the reinvented Star Trek franchise. I want to be enraptures, sucked in, a believer.

Instead I am left mildly entertained and wanting to watch the old movies one more time to remember how good it used to be.

Fail.

 

What mood should you be in?

Unfortunately, the only mood you will be in need of is “Braindead Action Movie Mood”.

Perhaps be prepared for a slightly complex understanding of time travel and how that works in this film. It is fairly interesting and does create a sense of urgency towards the end.

 

Cool new mutant powers

For us who haven’t read the comic books, it is always a treat to see what kind of new powers we will witness in action. And it is often surprising powers that prove the most useful in combat situations.

Blink, an Asian mutant from the futuristic group of X-Men, can open portals anywhere. Now, this might only sound cool for escape situations or a lovely, flight-free vacation, but I will have you know that lil’ miss Blink knows how to use those powers to basically make every evil robot kill themselves.

In addition, we are introduced to Peter Quicksilver, who is very fast. And boy can you have fun with people when you are very fast. You can even break into the Pentagon, which in this plot is inherently useful and highly entertaining.

I, for one, also have some more respect for what Xavier can do with his powers. The visualisation of telepathic powers has been kicked up a notch compared to the old films. They come across cooler than before (although they are inherently the same).

Xavier is also not a 100 % good character in the new movie, a refreshing touch. I even read that there are some X-Men stories where he goes really dark, a dark side he constantly struggles to suppress. Now that would be something to watch.

 

Further watching

I did an X-Men marathon this week because of this film. I needed to be reminded of why I love these characters and that I did.

Which mutant power would you like to have (you can only have one)? I’m liking this portal conjuring power.

Next week I will take a look at a “Guilty Pleasure” movie. I define a “Guilty Pleasure” movie as a movie not considered great, often of the romantic comedy, comedy, slasher horror or brain-dead action persuasion, but which for some reason makes you watch it over and over again.

I will try and identify the elements of a “Guilty Pleasure” movie that make you want to watch them again and again and again.

Sign up and get an e-mail when my next blog post comes out.

 

The Young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) tries to open the Cerebro, where he can connect telepathically to any human on earth, after years of using a drug that favours his legs over his abilities.

The Young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) tries to open the Cerebro, where he can connect telepathically to any human on earth, after years of using a drug that favours his legs over his abilities.

 

Who am I?

I a freelance writer who likes to go to the movies. But I don’t like it when I waste my money on a bad film. I need to bitch about those movies. If I see a movie that is absolutely worth the trip to town, 130 NOK ticket (£13/$20), popcorn and drink expenditure, then I need to rave about it! And since I want to watch all the movies in the world, you can waste less of your time, check in with me and only watch the good ones.

In these New Release blog posts, I will pick a movie in the theatre in Norway at random, and tell you if it was worth a cinema ticket. It might be good, but does it deserve your time and money, and does it benefit from a big screen and a huge crowd?

I actually buy tickets myself (unless I can get my boyfriend to be generous) and don’t have the luxury of being invited to pre-screenings, so my New Releases will be a bit late. Hopefully they will still be in a cinema near you 😉

 

Why do I think I can talk about movies?

With an over average interest in movies since watching Star Wars as an 8 year-old, and with some background in the industry, I know at least a little bit about what it takes to get a movie made, and have loads of opinions about what makes them great.

But no matter my merits, it is whether or not you agree with my taste in movies (or my boyfriend’s, whose opinion will be noted if opposing my own) that will make these reviews beneficial to you.

 

Where can you find the film?

“X-Men: Days of Future Pasts” was released in Norway last Friday (23rd of May), and given the grand franchise, I don’t think we were late in release, so it should be in a local cinema anywhere.

The rest of the X-Men series can be found in practical box-sets for next to no money (it is 399 NOK for all 6 of them on Blu-Ray in my local DVD shop Platekompaniet)

 

If you like what I write, please give me a shout in the comments or sign-up to read my next “Guilty Pleasure” blog post next week 😉

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It had to be a Stephen King story line throning majestically at the top of the ever-changing ImDb top 250 list. And so “Shawshank Redemption” has done for quite some time, occasionally surpassed by “The Godfather”, but mostly up top where, in my opinion, it assuredly belongs.

So, why does this movie deserve to be the best movie ever made?

The-Shawshank-Redemption_20140518

What is this film?

“Shawshank Redemption” was made in 1994 by Frank Darabont who also made the prison movie (and Stephen King story) “The Green Mile”. Darabont reputedly got the rights for Stephen King’s novella “Rita Heyworth and Shawshank Redemption” for a dollar. Whether or not this is true, I think we can still assert that Darabont got it dirt cheap.

Notably, the title cut out Rita Heyworth because there was a lot of confusion with people in the industry thinking it was a biopic of the actress, who still plays a pivotal role in the film.

The film is about Andy Dufresne, played by Tim Robbins (who played in “Shawshank Redemption” 😉 ) who is put in jail for murdering his wife and her lover. He didn’t do it, although he assuredly wanted to. And so begins the story of how Andy works his way through hardships and evil wardens to survive in the godforsaken prison Shawshank.

All of this is told as seen through the eyes of Red, a standard Morgan Freeman character. And that is where the magic lies. Because you forget very easily that it is Red who tells this story. And Red does not know everything.

In this review, I am presuming that you have seen the movie (if not, shame on you!). There will thus be SPOILERS IN THE TEXT BELOW. You have been warned.

 

What makes it so good?

What makes “Shawshank Redemption” good, for my part, is the intricate plot and the consistency of the chosen style of filming and storytelling. This is an example of excellent use of voice-over narration, where is seduces you and betrays you. I also love the films use of colour.

Everyone always talks about how a good movie tackles an issue that is universal, and the best ones do it in a thorough way that permeates time and space. And this story of redemption, or revenge, on authority, on injustice and on the world in general, has ticked the hearts of the whole world. Notably it was nominated for seven Oscars, but won none.

An interesting fact about “Shawshank” is that it didn’t even make up production costs upon release in the cinema in the 90’s. My guess is that “Shawshank Redemption” is a hard title to sell, the proof being that almost every non-english speaking country has translated it to something completely different (notably Norwegian where it is called “Frihetensregn” or “The Rain of Freedom”).

“Shawshank” did however manage to become the most rented video of all time, according to Blockbuster, and will perhaps be holding onto that title forever more given that rental videos are nigh on instinct.

 

On the use of colour

The Oscar nominated cinematographer of this movie, Roger Deakins, has done brilliant things with colour in this movie that should be awed for its consistency and effect. The pale grey blue of the prison is so omnipresent and emotionally suppressing, it even helps us as viewers empathize with the prisoners.

The consistent use of this particular colour scheme also aids the significant scenes, that usually involves some act of kindness from Andy, to stand out. For instance when he barters a bucket of beers for his mates while they do roof work, there is golden sunshine bathing on their faces. For a few moments. Then back comes the pale grey blue.

More on the use of colour in film can be found in “If it’s purple, someone’s gonna die”, a book on the effect that colour choices have on our emotions.

 

Is it still relevant after 20 years?

Andy works for us like a Gandhi type of character. He doesn’t fight violence with violence, but with intellect. In the same way he doesn´t beat up the guys who rape him in the prison. He makes himself indispensable to the warden and then the guards beat them for him.

And even when the evil warden reveals that Andy will never get out of this prison, because the warden wants him there, Andy fights this injustice with a carefully mastered escape plan. And by taking all of the money he was stealing for warden. And getting the warden and the guards into jail themselves.

It all is perhaps the most perfectly satisfying revenge plot ever. And revenge never goes out of date.

 

Does it deserve the spot on the list?

No argument that this movie has a special hold the first time you watch it. When you watch the sweeping revelation of Andy’s genious escape,  it is like watching Ocean’s Eleven where you beat yourself up for thinking that you knew what was going on. You know nothing.

You can still watch it again and again. I recommend admiring the thoughtful colour choice and the carefully placed pieces of plot that eventually culminates in the ending, and how all those little pieces make you believe that Andy Dufranese could actually have accomplished this most perfect of prison breaks.

The reunion between Andy and Red at the end of the film, is only there because the studio insisted it be there. Like Frank Durabont, who wanted an open ending with Red heading for the Mexican riviera, I do not think this scene needed to be there. I would still know what happened. Because with an open ending you choose yourself, and this ending is the obvious choice.

Either way, I am glad this scene was shot. After so much dreary grey blue, and long minutes of being locked up in a fortress prison, it’s nice to feel the fresh sea breeze and glory in the bright turqouise 😉

This ending is probably why it gets a notch in the feel-good movie post. And to be honest, we all like a movie that makes us feel good.

 

What mood should you be in to watch it?

There is no surpassing the fact that this is a long movie. A full 142 minutes, or 2 hours and 22 minutes. And if you have watched the movie before, you can feel the minutes ticking away. It does get a bit long.

But if you HAVEN’T watched this movie before, it will enrapture you from the first moment you press play. Storylines will unravel and the evil will build in a natural and subtle manner that is elegant and a wonder to watch with new eyes. So wait until you have forgotten the plot, because you will, and watch it again with fresh eyes.

It is a serious drama, with a few entertaining characters and some laughs, but they are always killed immediately by the evils and dangers of prison life, of which there are many to be had.

For my part, the scene when Andy Dufranese locks himself in the wardens office and plays opera (the song is “Canzonetta sull’aria” from Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro”.) over the loudspeakers is one of those pivotal, tear-jerking moments.

When you have a whole prison of scruffy, light-blue clad men stopping in their tracks and listening to an Italian Aria, you have a juxtaposition of culture that truly creates something beautiful. At least in my teary eyes. And I am not even a fan of opera. Yet.

 

Further Watching

If you want to watch more prison break movies, I would recommend some older ones that have far more joy in them. Both “The Great Escape” (1963), where a band of British prisoners of war, gang up with an unruly American to escape the unescapable prison, and “Stalag 17” (1953), a black and white movie which is the funniest of the bunch, have tremendous heart.

Notably they are both on the ImDb top 250 list, so I will talk about them later.

I would also recommend giving “Gilda” (1946), the movie the prisoners of Shawshank watch which has Rita Heyworth in it. It is not the most exciting of movies, but will give you a lot of know how. If you are a nerd like myself.

Don’t miss out on the next ImdB top 250 review. Sign up and get an email update when I post on my blog.

The-Shawshank-Redemption2_20140518

Who am I?

I do not work for ImDb, I just have a nerdy need to make sure I watch all the movies people claim to be good. In this way I can make up my own mind about whether or not they are a hype. This is not a per se a recommendation to you from the ImDb Top 250 list, but rather a statement about the movies on it that hopefully will make you want to watch the movie again, or watch the movie and make up a mind of your own 😉

 

Why do I think I can talk about movies?

With an over average interest in movies since watching Star Wars as a 8 year-old, and with some background in the industry, I know at least a little bit about what it takes to get a movie made, and have loads of opinions about what makes them great.

But no matter my merits, it is whether or not you agree with my taste in movies (or my boyfriend’s, whose opinion will be noted if opposing my own) that will make these reviews beneficial to you.

 

Where can you find the film?

I would recommend to buy this one. It looks good on a shelf and is a wonder for lazy Sunday evenings when you just want something good to watch. You should find it at any web or proper DVD-shop around. I will even give you a link to “Shawshank Redemption” on Amazon 😉 It used to be found on Netflix, but at the time I watched it this week, it was not there?

 

Once a month I will review the top 250 movies on ImDb and determine whether they still deserve to be there or not. I start from the top because there is less change in the top than the bottom of the list. Other Fridays of the month, I will look at “New Releases – which one is worth a cinema ticket“, “Guilty Pleasures” and “Unearthing the Best Movies on Netflix“.

All non referenced fun facts are from ImDb 😉

Sign up your email and get updates so that you won’t miss the next ImDb top 250 review. Next month we will have a look at “the Godfather“!

 

Ever wonder what to watch on Netflix? Every month I will give you a new movie recommendation that won’t be a waste of your time. Add my blog to your e-mail list and you will never spend hours deciding what to watch again!

This month’s best movie on Netflix is: Carnage (2011)

Carnage Poster

Carnage Poster

 

What?

“Carnage” is a comedy drama (a dramedy as I have seen some people call it) made by the infamous Roman Polanski. It sports a limited cast of four, but with an impressive line-up.

Kate Winslet (if you need a movie to know who she is, then shame on you) and Christop Waltz ( you know, the nazi from “Inglorious Basterds”) play the career couple invited to the Longstreet family apartment to talk about their son. Jodie Foster (the woman mind-fucked by Hannibal Lecter in “Silence of the Lambs”) and John C. Reilly (he is the go-to supporting actor, he is in everything, too much to mention), want them all to come to some sort of agreement about what they should do after their son was hit in the face by the other son, “armed” with a stick. He broke some teeth. It’s all very serious.

And on the surface it is all very polite and civilized. But of course this is going to change.

 

Why?

Any film that takes place in one location (the whole film is set in one apartment), with quality actors AND a good director is always worth a watch. If you need more proof that there is something magical going on, then look at the Golden Globes nominations both women received for their efforts.

Not convinced? Christoph Waltz will deliver increasing level of snarky lines, Kate Winslet will get drunk, John C. Reilly will snap from good guy to bad guy and Jodie Foster will on the surface be the image of a perfect humble housewife, but curse them all under her breath when they aren’t in the room.

When both me AND my boyfriend pay rapt attention from start till end of a film that is set in only one location, that means something has been done right. And it’s all in the story. No distracting visual effects or dazzling cinematography to lure you to keep watching here.

You should be in the mood for some comedy. In one way it is a serious movie, but the true value (or identification aspect) and humor of it is that you will see yourself in these characters, either as you know you would react, or as you imagine you would if you had kids. It is not a “laugh-out-loud” movie, it is a “snigger-to-yourself” movie (and I love those).

 

Who?

This movie is perfect for anyone who is in a couple, because you will have the most to identify with. Any parents, I can imagine, will also find themselves remembering similar situations with parents who are totally different to themselves, and how they try to deal with them.

It reminds me of an old movie “Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?” from the sixties, although that one has a completely different theme, only the form of one location, four characters, is somewhat similar.

I would also recommend “Carnage” to anyone who is working in the film industry or aspiring to be. This film was shot in real time,with no breaks, and in one location. To do this and make a successful 80 min movie is extremely difficult, so watch and learn. Why doesn’t it get boring? On paper it should!

Also look out for a Roman Polanski cameo (without him being on screen) as the nosy neighbour.

 

Further Watching:

‘Did you like this movie and want to watch more?

Apart from “Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (1966) which unfortunately can’t be found on Netflix, I would recommend delving into Roman Polanski. He has a distinct opinion and style that is captivating.

From the movies on Netflix, I would recommend giving the documentary “Polanski: Wanted and Desired” (2008) a go. It focuses on the incident in Polanski’s life when he was guilty of statutory rape and how that evolved into fleeing the USA and never being able to return, not even to receive his Oscar for “The Pianist” (2002). This man has survived the Holocaust and has had his pregnant wife murdered. It is interesting to say the least.

If you are not in the mood for a documentary, watch his political thriller “The Ghost” (201) with Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan, where a freshly hired ghostwriter for the former prime minister of the UK, starts unraveling things he shouldn’t.  (“Polanskis Skyggen” is the title in the Norwegian Netflix)

 

Next week, I will be starting my new project where I look at the ImDb top 250 list and judge whether these films deserve to be there. Are they there because they actually are good in the modern viewer’s eyes, or are they there because people believe them to be of great quality because they were significant when they were released.

We will find out whether the movies can be stomached by 2014 eyes or should be left as a note in a film history book (or remade for that matter). We will start with number one (which has significantly fewer changes than number 250) and work our way up the list each month.

 

Don’t want to miss a review? Add yourself to my e-mail list and get an update as soon as I post. I will be posting every Friday 😉

So, I want to know? Which is your favourite movie that takes place in one location?

 

Two very different pair of parents.

Two very different pair of parents.

 

Who am I?

I do not work for Netflix. My boyfriend and I spend an awful lot of time trying to choose movies to watch on Netflix. Sometimes we stumble upon gems and those are the ones I would like to share with you. If you wonder about a movie, ask me, I will tell you if I have watched it or watch it for you (I’m a nerd, I want to watch everything).

 

Why do I think I can talk about movies?

With an over average interest in movies since watching Star Wars as a 8 year-old, and with some background in the industry, I know at least a little bit about what it takes to get a movie made, and have loads of opinions about what makes them great.

But no matter my merits, it is whether or not you agree with my taste in movies (or my boyfriend’s, whose opinion will be noted if opposing my own) that will make these reviews beneficial to you.

 

Why Netflix?

It’s not only Netflix. Once a month I will unearth the best movies on Netflix. Other Fridays of the month, I will look at “Imdb Top 250 – Do they really deserve to be there“, “New Releases“, and “Guilty Pleasures“.

I do take requests and love a challenge, so don’t be shy.

 

Sign up your email and get updates so that you will never spend hours deciding what to watch again!

It’s been a long time since I read “The Hobbit”. I devoured that book before the first LOTR flick came to the cinemas, and although the story didn’t stick as profoundly as the epic brick of a sequel did, I have always remembered it fondly and deeply appreciated the fact that all the names in the first chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring were less daunting because I already knew some of them from “the Hobbit”.

Both me and my BF were underwelmed by the first installment of “the Hobbit”. It is not that it was bad, because it is not. It wasn’t that we weren’t entertained, because I can’t remember being bored. It was partly that we were sat in the third row in the London BFI IMAX cinema (and anyone who has sat this far to the front in this cinema knows you are in for some neck exercises of another world) but mostly it was the fact that when we walked out of the cinema, I could pin point the best scene of the movie (the exchange between Bilbo and Gollum in the caves).

I can’t pin point the best scene in “The Desolation of Smaug”. There are way too many.

And by way to many, I am not even talking in single, isolated moments like scenes. I am talking characters and notions that span sequences and scatter throughout the movie.

Number 1: Evangeline Lily as the Mirkwood elf Tauriel.

For one thing, this is where you will sit and have a small mind fuck, because it is Evangeline Lily, but with the make-up exentuating the typical elfen features (the cheekbones in particular) she has morphed into an elf version of Evangeline Lily. You sometimes recognize her, sometime not. I don’t know about the rest of the audience, but that kept my mind occupied a fair number of times just in determining that it was actually her. I am not one to go hating on a strong female character with a cross bow anyway. Anyone who knows me will remember my excellent stunt at using the cross bow in the desert in Mongolia (or maybe just my Cuz who tries to forget that he sucked at it). Also slightly sweet and entertaining is the flirt between one of the dwarves (the young and careless Kili) and Tauriel with Legolas glooming with jealousy in the background. (To note, I do not mind Legolas in this movie, I see the benefits of as many tie ins as possible, but the weird thing is that he looks older, his eyes look wiser. I have a feeling this is a deliberate make-up and visual effects choice and will therefore be looking out for the reason why he suddenly turns childish and younger again. Or maybe he just got too old for make-up;)

Evangeline Lily as the (lowly) wood elf Tauriel

Evangeline Lily as the (lowly) wood elf Tauriel

Number 2: The Story

The whole story flow of this instalment is a lot more organic than the previous film. While the first one had a distinct feeling of stalling and dragging out events that really could have been dealt with swiftly (the numerous fights between dwarves and orks), this one moves rapidly forwards (or as rapidly as I would want it to) with hang-ups and detours that grow naturally out of the story lay-out. Look out for an epic, soon-to-become-waterslide, sequence where the dwarves and Bilbo escape from the Mirkwood elves and have to fight orks at the same time while in barrels down a rapid river. It is both exciting and hilarious.

Thorin being all manly dawrfy in the barrel run sequence

Thorin being all manly dawrfy in the barrel run sequence

Number 3: Smaug

Some people have complained that the sequence in the treasury of Smaug is too long. Now they can all go if they don’t want to watch it, but I wouldn’t cut a second of Cumberbatch’s glorious, fierce and fabulous dragon. Tyra Banks would have made that dragon America’s Next Top Model. He is sassy, moves like a slithering, glittering wave and has the pride and grace of an old Hollywood diva has-been. I love it. I love it more than when I read the book. No dragon has ever been able to meet the expectations that build up in my fantasy while reading about such fantastic creatures. Not until now. Peter Jackson alledgedly spent alot of effort getting the dragon right, and that effort has definitely paid off. Never would I have thought that something as unrealistic as a talking dragon (as if dragon in itself is not unrealistic enough) would be the dragon that makes me a reaffirmed believer in their existence (in past, present or future).

In this world of excessive VFX use, I rarely gush over it as it has become a norm and I usually am not impressed. This dragon impressed me. So there.

Bilbo facing the fabulous fierceness of Smaug

Bilbo facing the fabulous fierceness of Smaug

My usual measurement for a great film is fairly simple, vaguely arbitrary (although sometimes ridiculously predictable) and subject to mood swings. Feelings.

Does the movie make me feel anything?

Usually these feelings are sadness, happy tears, laughter, love, desire, anger, fear, hatred… And although “The Desolation of Smaug” touches on all of these emotions, it doesn’t really yank hard and make me cry a lonely tear (read loud, shaking sobs) or make me so scared I can’t keep watching. It gave me a much more important feeling, from beginning to end. It made me feel like a child again. Wonder and awe just bursting from the depths of my imagination.

Full suspension of disbelief. Giddy and silly. Full child.

Full irrevocable, unsustainable fleeting joy

Full irrevocable, unsustainable fleeting joy

So, all of these movies are probably off the big screen by now and you will have to wait for the downloads to become decent, or you know…buy them. Alternatively forget about it and remember a year from now when they pop up on Netflix and then remember that I had something to say about that movie. That is fine. I can wait for your opinions 😉

The summer has been plagued by science fiction and doomsday flicks, most of which I would gladly have waited to watch until no one cares about them anymore. But alas I have a boyfriend who loves me and wants to take me to the cinema so I had to watch quite a lot of them 😉

I will review the ones I remember, which is about four movies, in one paragraphs. You can always ask me if I have seen any of the other summer blockbusters. Just suffice to say that if the answer is “Oh yeah, I watched that one as well”, then it wasn’t really good, I have already gone in denial over the fact that I watched it and you should seriously scrutinise all of the reasons for why you would like to waste your life on it 😉

Movie Number 1:

World War X

world-war-z-poster-600x938

This was the first movie we watched after coming back from summer holiday in Sicily (HAD to squeeze in THAT somewhere now didn’t I;). Normally I am not a fan of zombie pics, because in general they try to scare me, and I am not easily scared and I don’t enjoy being scared when they actually achieve it. So there, not a horror film kind of person. But after having my eyes yanked open by the genius that is “The Walking Dead” series, I am more inclined to see the value in a doomsday zombie flick. Because it is interesting to see how people react in such situations and how they survive. Not in this movie though. I am sure if I read the book, it would all make sense, and on some simple stupid level it does make sense, but it is just that. TOO simple. And Brad Pitt is such a genius that he replaces the clumsy  virus expert about five minutes into the movie. Sure…that’s believable… To be honest, I do remember liking aspects of the movie. There are some amazing visuals of these crazy, rabid (no not the slow and stupid kind) zombies running around. Especially in the beginning where I had no idea exactly what was happening because we saw it all from Brad Pitt “The Father”‘s viewpoint, before he emerges as “The Super Spy” and gets to know everything. The not knowing, which would be the situation we would all be in as regular people, is very interesting and scary on in different dimension, and I wish the film would have explored that side of the situation more rather than becoming a regular dooms day, one guy saves the day flick.

CONCLUSION: Although there are some clever ideas, it is just not well enough though through and makes some jumps that are just too simple to be believable. But my boyfriend liked it so you might like it as well (although Israel featured prominently in the movie so that might be the reason why he loves it)

Movie Number 2:

The Lone Ranger

Lone_Ranger_Poster_HD

Since the boyfriend got to decide the Brad Pitt movie, I decided that we had to go see the Johnny Depp movie 😉 And that is exactly the problem with this movie… The people of the film business just HAVE TO realise that they can’t have a movie with Johnny Depp as the sidekick. It doesn’t work. Because he ISN’T a sidekick, nor will he ever be one. And since the story is really centered around the pure and noble lawyer become outlaw which is the main character, and not the scarred indian child turn weird shamanesque outcast, this balance becomes wrong because they do give alot of space to Johnny Depp, but they have to give equal space to the Lone Ranger and the movie just becomes long and taxing. And I don’t care about the lawyer. I care about the indian. I care about Johnny Depp. It should have been about his character 100%, then it might have worked. And they can blame critics all they want for their failure, if it WAS a good film, it wouldn’t have stopped people watching it that some critic thought it was below par. But I did laugh a lot and there are some amazing stunts and to be honest if you like Jack Sparrow, you will like this indian too.

CONCLUSION: If you are a Johnny Depp fan, go for it. If not, then maybe consider how much of a western fan you are before you are locked in front of a screen for nigh on three hours. If you would rather watch a shorter Johnny Depp venture, watch the underrated “Dark Shadows” which suffers from a bad title, but is a great watch for any Depp/Burton fans out there 😀

DarkShadows_20130903

Movie Number 3:

Oblivion

oblivion-poster

There is a lot of these “lonely person walking in desolation” kind of posters out there. Though I guess it’s logical 😉

Oblivion we downloaded, and again, a film that is visually stunning with a desolated planet, the empire state building tower sticking up from the sand and just in general stunning landscapes which never become monotone and boring. And again, the idea is very good and I like some of the concepts and rules that govern this film-world of “The Oblivion”, of which I will not relay too many here, but again it all just isn’t clear enough. Loads of it is confusing. But I have to confess I might be to blame because the film didn’t grab me so I was at times distracted by other electronic devices. But a film should stand the test of not making me want to reach for a different entertainment medium while I am watching. Probably an excellent movie for the cinema. And boy has Tom Cruise gotten old. And apparently he is an old war veteran, a fact that eluded me till the end of the movie, and I just don’t buy it. He doesn’t strike me as a war veteran. But what do I know.

CONCLUSION: I know you should only watch this if you are prepared for wanting the movie to be really good, but it not really ever getting there. But still stunning effects, camera work and production design which shouldn’t leave you feeling too empty hearted.

And Movie Number 4 (the last movie):

Iron Man 3

iron-man-3-poster

Last but not least really is an appropriate expression here. This movie was devoured this weekend the day before a wedding in a hotel bed on my boyfriends laptop with poor sound. And STILL I think this movie was ten times better than any of the other two Iron Man instalments. Now usually with Iron Man I find Robert Downey Jr.’s cocky Tony Stark too much to handle. Which is why I loved him in “The Avengers” where his personality was balanced off the others and actually became funny rather than annoying. And someone in the production of Iron Man 3 has also realised that it needs to be dialled down. And they have done it brilliantly so. I don’t think Robert Downey has fought so many frames without the Iron Man suit or only part suit, and it is admirable. It all becomes more personal. He is also suffering from some nervous breakdowns after all he has been through, which is an interesting addition. I am not saying that this is an Oscar winning feature and deserves all praise. It is still only a superhero movie, but it is a good one and an entertaining one that delivers all you want from a superhero flick. And it is not often I say this about the third instalment in a series.

CONCLUSION: Definitely watch it if you like Iron Man as you will come in your pants at all the different new suits Tony Stark has been making, like my boyfriend did. And you will like it if you like superhero movies. And let your boyfriend force you to watch it. It is Robert Downey Jr after all 😉

For the future, I am looking forward to enjoy some gobsmacking british dry and dusted humour in the Simon Pegg and Nick Frost flick (guess they are kind of their own genre of comedy now) “The World’s End”. The boyfriend wants to see Matt Damon in action with “Elysium” which I feel, from watching the trailer, is a pointless movie, but as it has an interesting director, I might let myself be dragged along. Until we have the cash to get to the cinema and watch these we might pirate some Dispicable pics or some Miller pics. I don’t know, we’ll see 😉

Until next reviews 😀

Since it’s been a long time since my last post (my sincerest apologies), I thought we’d try something different. I will review all the films I have seen since last time (which is about five movies. I have been wearing TV series googles for most of my absence) and the CRAZY thing we’ll do is… I will only get one paragraph per movie to write my review…

I’m scared. I love writing long, which is probably why most people I know who read this blog only skip to the end to see what my conclusion of the movie was, and don’t actually read anything else. Well hey, now you gotta skip to six different places!! MUAHAHAHAHAHA 3:)

Right, first up:

STAR TREK – INTO THE DARKNESS (2013, Dir: J.J. Abrams)

Poster

Poster

Note 1: I loved the first one and saw it twice in the cinema and have seen it countless times on DVD.

Note 2: Unlike other reviewers I was not expecting the second installment to be a reinvention of the sci-fi genre AGAIN. I just wanted the same as the first movie, one more time. Only slightly different and hopefully with some sort of unexpected event/twist/surprise.

At least with my expectations I get what I want. I loved the new Star Trek. It makes me want them to make Star Trek movies forever. And it makes me fear the rebirth of the Star Wars franchise, because how can J.J.Abrams ever top this. How? I am looking forward to see how he fucks it up (bound to happen at some point, if not with Star Wars) or saves the day. What I love the most about these Star Trek movies is the interactions between the almost non-emotional Spock and the teenage hormony humans who feel everything and don’t understand Spock’s lack of interest in their emotions. It’s hilarious and otherworldly on a smaller scale than all the spaceships and the monsters, but one which I appreciate more than all the other things put together. It is the essence of a good sci-fi to break down your boundaries and conventions, and these interracial moments totally do that for me. What if we didn’t feel? What would guide us? Okey, you say that’s more than a paragraph…okei then… movin’ on…

CONCLUSION: If you loved the first one, you will love this one as well. If you didn’t love the first one…well…then I judge you…I judge you hard.

(See I even bolded conclusion for you so you don’t have to stress the search of the conclusion. How nice am I?;)

SPRING BREAKERS (2012, Dir: Harmony Korine)

Spring Breakers Poster

Spring Breakers Poster

This film intrigued me, both because the trailer was vivid and beautiful, and because it got compared thematically to “Bling Ring” which is the next Sofia Coppola movie coming out soon. The movie essentially tells the story of how a group of girls, who can’t afford to go on spring break to Florida, steal enough money so that they can get away and party in their little bikinis into the sunset. The movie is first and foremost a beautiful description of a generation of youth that has become obsessed with having a good time and only having a good time. As they say loads of times in this movie, they wish it could last forever. Spring break forever. Now I don’t know about you, but as much fun as I have had in my day on holidays and what not, I ALWAYS realized that it is only fun for a week or two. These girls don’t seem to realize that. Although a couple of them get a wake up call. This is not a movie for everyone. It uses repetition of sound, which I found very effective and eerie, especially the specific things that were repeated, but my movie partner found that boring, although he as well thought the movie was beautiful. And the image of little girls in little bikinis with big, black guns will haunt you forever.

I don’t know if I want to have any kids now if this is what they will grow up to be…

CONCLUSION: Not for everyone, but if you’re feeling a bit arty, you won’t regret spending time watching this movie. Actually you should watch just because James Franco does an incredible job as the character Alien. I won’t tell you more, you’ll have to watch it.

BYZANTIUM (2012, Dir: Neil Jordan)

This was not actually the poster they had in Belfast, but this pretty much doesn't say anything about the movie either so...

This was not actually the poster they had in Belfast, but this pretty much doesn’t say anything about the movie either so…

Byzantium was just another vampire movie that me and my cousin went to in Belfast when we were there (more about that in my next blog). If my Cuz hadn’t been adament about watching this, I never would have watched it. The title is boring. The poster doesn’t make me want to watch it, and the fact that it was vampires. AGAIN. was enough for me to say “No thank you”. But there wasn’t really any good options, so I couldn’t really win. And boy was I glad. In truth, it is a bit long, especially in the beginning where it really takes a long while for the story to start rattling forwards, but once it does, it’s done. You’re in. And it’s the kind of vampire story that reaches the vividness of  “Interview with a Vampire” (my personal favorite vampire movie to date). I don’t want to tell you too much of the story, because I might ruin the plot structure. But just trust me. The acting is excellent. The drab, rural coast of Britain is devastatingly gorgeous, and the reasoning behind the existence of vampires is sound (this might sound weird, but it matters okay).

CONCLUSION: Watch it!! Even though the title is bad, oh so bad. It should have been called something else. I could write a paragraph on how wrong that title is and give better options. But I won’t. Only one paragraph 😉

GANGSTER SQUAD (2103, Dir: Ruben Fleischer)

This poster is a mess. Trying to be Film Noir, but really sucking at it.

This poster is a mess. Trying to be Film Noir, but really sucking at it.

This one is not in the cinemas anymore, but it doesn’t feel that long ago that I puffed lightly at the sight of this poster while waiting for Les Mis to open it’s doors. The poster is stupid. The title is horrendous and sounds like it was made by a group of fourteen year-olds high on glue. Regardless, as so often happens, I am still made to watch movies like these. Movies with mafia involved has a 9 out of 10 chance that I will hate it. I hate “The Godfather”. There I said it. Most boring movie EVER! Gangster Squad was that 1 in 10. Which is why Gangster Squad should change the title because I get embarrassed saying that it was good. It has a kind of “Ocean’s Eleven” feeling where a group of goodie too shoe cops of various talents, come together to crack the mega super mafia boss of L.A. Now this is all based on true events, which makes it all the more compelling. And all the more hilarious when the cops do fail after fail in some of their attempts at sabotage. You will laugh. You will cry. And you will wonder if they actually called it Gangster Squad in real life? Cause that is the ONLY reason to keep that name. If that.

CONCLUSION: If you like mafia gangster movies with loads of shooting and people being ripped appart by cars after the mafia boss says “Let her rip” then you will love it. And make your girlfriend watch it to. She will be bored during the gun shooting, but Ryan Gosling will keep her happy for most of the film 😉

And last, but not least:

CLOUD ATLAS (2012, Dir: Tom Tykwer and Andy/Lana Wachowski)

Classic Epic Poster

Classic Epic Poster

Another one which is out on DVD/Blu-Ray and that after a miserable turn at the box office where practically no one came to watch and reviewers where crying over how the idea was good, but it was too complicated and confusing. Now with this one, I’m gonna make it easy. If you liked “The Fountain”, you will like “Cloud Atlas”. If you like it when you don’t understand everything right away or even at the end of the movie, then you will like this film. I cannot stress how much I am looking forward to watching this movie again. I know, that every time I watch Cloud Atlas, I will see something new. I will see a new connection, understand another relationship, another story, another detail. And THAT makes me excited. And for that I love this movie. Maybe I always loved it. I knew I loved it before I watched it 😉 If you are skeptical  just watch it for the beautifully shot images and the imaginative illusions of the future, and of course to find all the different characters played by Tom Hanks, Hugh Grant, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving and all the other characters. You will NEVER catch them all, I dare you. You get the answers right before the credits…and we were shocked!!!

CONCLUSION: If you don’t mind confusion and a movie that might take more than one time of watching, then go for it. The theme is love. How can you NOT watch it? It gets a bit long though so make sure you have ample time. Stopping it and watching the rest later simply won’t work 😉

So there, that was five movies in five (eherm) paragraphs. Hopefully some of them made you want to watch the film, that is afterall what I want of you. To watch and make up your own opinion. And then share with me how outrageously wrong I am. I love a good “discussion”;)

Next time I will show and tell the story of how me and my Cuz ended up in Belfast and on the set of Game of Thrones Season 4. And what the red carpet feels like 😉

Live long and prosper

Hunger Games Poster

Hunger Games Poster

So, I was wondering what to watch next for reviewing purposes, and then I stumbled upon the trailer for “Hunger Games 2 – Catching Fire” and I realized that I STILL had not watched “Hunger Games”.

I am slightly odd when it comes to watching movies. Sometimes, I need to watch it right away to form an opinion of my own and join in on the discussion. Other times I will shun the movie like the plague until everyone else has forgotten about it so that all the wooplah and woodilido of the media doesn’t ruin my experience. I often do this with big teenage franchises. I did it with “Twilight” in the hopes that I would watch it at a time and a place that would make me like it. I watched it during a girls night with red wine, chocolate and a bunch of friends (my own age) who love the Twilight movies. And I STILL didn’t like it. So there you go. Bad movie. Or at least badly cast which essentially renders the entire experience bad.

You’re probably getting the feeling that I am going to parallell my Twilight experience to my Hunger Games one, and indeed you are correct. They are both franchises of multiple films targeted at teenaged girls whom (apparently) long to be desired by multiple boy characters in a world similar, yet different to our own.

The one huge, vast, insurmountable, and at times incomprehensible difference between the two is…that I absolutely LOVE Hunger Games 😀 And I’ll come clean right off the bat, I have not read the books. So I love this story untarnished by any visions I might have had should I have read the book first. And you should be thankful about that. You should also be thankful that all Harry Potter films have been released and I am unlikely to review them, as it would take a book for me to explain how much I hate the Harry Potter films. But pleasantly unaware as to what deviates between the book and the film, I am able to love Hunger Games like one loves a freshly baked papaya and lychee muffin (cause you haven’t tried it before;)

Jennifer Lawrence looking very serious and oh so cool with her bow and arrow.

Jennifer Lawrence looking very serious and oh so cool with her bow and arrow.

The number one reason why I love Hunger Games comes with a serious, yet determined facial expression, but still a twinkle behind those blue/green eyes that makes her a whole different class of actress than the rest (read Kristen Stewart). Yes, I am talking about now Oscar winner, Jennifer Lawrence. Jennifer Lawrence who apparently doesn’t prepare for her roles, as she likes “in-the-moment-acting”. Jennifer Lawrence whom I got a crush on in “Silver Linings Playbook”. Jennifer Lawrence whom, I am certain, would have made even me enjoy the Twilight movies (anything but Kristen would do really). And let’s just admit it, how freaking cool is a bow and arrow. And how cool is it that a female is aces at hitting targets with it. Ever since I tried archery in Mongolia and found that years of watching movies actually had built in me an instinctive understanding of how to draw it (sounds easy, but I was the only one who got the arrow further than a couple of meters), I have had fantasies about having a bow and getting unmistakably good at hitting targets. Thus heroine with bow really hit me hard.

What is the most satisfying about watching Jennifer acting is knowing that she is only 22, and unless she ruins her life with drugs, which at the moment seems unlikely, she will give us a whole new level of brilliant acting. Prediction declared.

And look out for the scene where Katniss is showing off her skills to the drunken and easily distracted possible sponsors. It is a stunning visual metaphor on the contemporary attention span and perfectly illustrates how quickly one can go from celebrity to unknown and then back again to celebrity. And that just in a few short minutes.

The difference between being dressed in District 1 (left) and District 12 (right)

The difference between being dressed in District 1 (left) and District 12 (right)

As a fan of science fiction and fantasy, I always appreciate how a foreign world can put so many of our own issues and problems in a new perspective and make you think about our own world in different way. For instance, in the world of Hunger Games, there are 12 districts where each district specializes in something, the higher the number, the further away from the capital the district, the more primary their skill set, a similar way we draw invisible class distinctions in our societies.  Katniss is from 12th District where they are coalminers by trade. Now for those of you who don’t already know this, the storyline of Hunger Games centers around the reality show/x factor televised game “The Hunger Games” where 24 youths, also known as Tributes, fight to survive. Last one standing wins, be it natural causes or murder, although the producers of the show don’t seem to enjoy natural causes as much as they do the moral dilemma of them killing each other. And boy do they have creative ways of making sure that their show doesn’t become dull. The reasons for the game in the first place are to my brain a bit hazy, but it has to do with reminding all the districts of a past rebellion by making them offer up two Tributes (one girl and one boy) each year to fight it out in the games. Glory to the last boy or girl standing.

You will love this little girl too. Rue.

You will love this little girl too. Her name is Rue.

If there is one thing I find interesting, it is when I watch a film that makes me ask myself; “What would I do?” Not just the obvious; “Would I kill the other kids to survive myself?” That one can leave your brain ticking for quite some time, but the question that interestes me the most is; “Would I watch this?”

And the glaringly obvious answer is; “Yes, yes I would”.

If “The Hunger Games” existed in the form portrayed in this film, you could not not watch it. It has the glamour of X-factor and the serious outcome of a Roman gladiator match. I can sit here in my comfortable living room in a wealthy country enduring peaceful years upon years and say that it is wrong and we shouldn’t kill. But if this show was a part of our society, I know my morbid curiosity would have to watch it. And the fact that the show is interactive is even a bigger draw for someone who is getting increasingly more used to every show trying to include it’s audience to create a buzz on the web. If rich and powerful people like any of the youths, they can sponsor them if they fall prey to injuries or food/water shortage. The reality of their situation would draw me in and I defy anyone to a discussion who says they wouldn’t watch it. Humans are intrinsically fascinated by death, and this show displays death in it’s most raw and pure form.

Katniss and Peeta in their supersleek suits for the parade where Tributes are displayed like the olympics.

Katniss and Peeta in their supersleek suits for the parade where Tributes are displayed like the olympics.

I wouldn’t want to be in the draw to be a Tribute though… so I am a hypocrite… but then aren’t we all?

It is a fact that not so many hundreds of years ago, this game, to a fashion, happened in the grand colosseums of the Roman Empire, and it took a long time before anyone questioned the morality of that. Who is to say that a couple of thousand years from now we won’t have gone full circle on moral issues and go back to watching murder for entertainment? It scares me that I see that situation as a very real outcome in the future of the world. One of many, but I believe it could happen.

On a more cheerful note, the visual juxtaposition of the colourful inner districts and the drab and dirty outer districts are stunning. The production design in this movie is perfect and is a huge part of what makes me believe this could happen sometime, somewhere. It is worth the watch alone. Rarely has science fiction been so real without being our own world.

Now last, but not least, I’d like to mention the impending Love Triangle.

So Katniss, here in her home district, District 12, is at the start of the movie chummy with...

So Katniss, here in her home, District 12, is at the start of the movie chummy with…

...this fellah, Gale, played by Liam Hemsworth (isn't he dashing), they play in the woods together and stuff, but when Katniss volunteers to partake in the Hunger Games, cicumstance and teenage hormones have her falling for...

…this fellah, Gale, played by Liam Hemsworth (isn’t he dashing). They play in the woods together and stuff, but when Katniss volunteers to partake in the Hunger Games, circumstance and teenage hormones have her falling for…

...her fellow District 12 Tribute Peeta (love it how that name sounds like Peter).

…her fellow District 12 Tribute Peeta, here looking very manly and beaten up  (love it how that name sounds like Peter).

The boys in these movies (both Twilight and Hunger Games) are as bland, characterflawed and soulless as the hard core chick, often of asian persuasion or at least dark haired, who kicking and screaming fights her way through any action, lemme-blow-up-loadsa-shit movie you can find. I know. My boyfriend makes me watch them all. Maybe it is a teenage thing. As teenagers we are generally more self centered, so teenage girls will be more concentrated on Katniss and what she does and how she looks and identify with that, thus the boys only need to be mildly good looking for them to accept or perhaps join in the infatuation. At least in Hunger Games the choice of boys is a tad better than in Twilight as I have never seen the compulsion to choose between a boy as white as a dead body or a babyface (yes, the wolf). But then again there hasn’t appeared a sharply divided fan base arguing about whether Katniss should end up with Peeta or Gale, so what do I know. Although maybe it’s too soon for the first movie to create that sort of craze. After all there wasn’t any focus on the problems of that particular triangle, only delightfully obvious hints. I’m sure we will meet the repercussions in the next installment, which comes to cinemas (in Norway anyway) in November. God, that’s long to wait.

In the meantime, watch the trailer for “Hunger Games 2: Catching Fire” over and over again. I know I will 😉

Now, once in a blue moon, or every time I have done a seminar or course, I am going to feel like talking about some film stuff. And this time it is about one of the people on the very long credit list that you never sit through and never read because you will be too busy getting out of the cinema and catch your bus home, or you will rather put on another movie than pain yourself through the hundreds of people who participated in making the movie possible for you to watch. Well, I will challenge you. Every once in a while, sit through the credits. I do it all the time in cinemas so you won’t be alone if you do it there 😉 And when you do, you should look at the titles of the different people who are credited, and if you don’t know what that title means, wonder about what they did to make this movie possible. Cause there is never just one person who who makes the movie. Movie making on the cinema level equals hundreds of people that you will never see on screen. But they still joined in to make that movie the best it could be. They should have their name looked at. Once in while, when you feel the movie deserves it, try it.

When you go to the cinema and look at all the titles, there will come titles like e.g. storyboard artist, concept artist, illustrator or something similar. This is what I would like to talk about today.

A storyboard page drawn by David Russell for Master and Commander illustrating the way the movie gets drawn in advance through key frames and key action.

A storyboard page drawn by David Russell for Master and Commander illustrating the way the movie gets drawn in advance through key frames and key action.

A storyboard is a cartoon-like drawing of what a movie will look like. This is a tool that has many uses. Most notable, it enables the director to actually visualize his or her movie before the shooting starts, which I will always recommend doing because coming up with what you are going to shoot on the day, always leads to disaster. Another benefit with the storyboard, is that when every department (hair, make-up, set design, costume, lighting, photography etc.) has seen what is going to be shot as images, they all work towards the same goal, achieving that image in real life. You would think that this could easily happen by just talking to people, but believe me when I tell you that spoken words can be interpreted in so many different ways that no one really knows what is going to be shot. Except for the director. And the poor director can only be in one place at a time.

This weekend I attended a webinar by the notable storyboard artist David Russell on the art of storyboarding. It truly opened my eyes to exactly how much creative power lies within the hands of those artists who work in the film industry, and how we should all be thankful that there still are people who are so amazing at drawing by hand that in 45 minutes of you telling them you need a full shot in a bedroom in the 50s, they have scribbled up something like this, where all the furniture and other props are appropriate to the time that you stated. That is truly amazing.

Mentor Huebner drew this image in 45 minutes and all the details are accurate for the timeperiod the film was set in.

Mentor Huebner drew this image in 45 minutes and all the details are accurate for the timeperiod the film was set in.

I also mentioned concept artist. Concept art is when a film production hires an artist to visualize the look of the film. This often happens with fantasy or science fiction movies, and it occurs before the storyboard artist comes aboard, sometimes even before the script is finished. Actually, a well drawn concept illustration can be the pivotal point that gets a movie to a Go! on development or production. See, people are more willing to bet their money if they get to experience something visual first. Just have a look at these wonderful illustrations from noted concept artists Ralph Maquarry (Star Wars) and Syd Mead (Blade Runner). These are highly intelligent, often science educated people, who manage to bring their knowledge of aircraft, automobiles, space, architecture and ingenuity to unrealistic, fantastical ideas and make them believable to us.

Ralph Maquarry notably drew concept art for George Lucas and the Star Wars universe. http://starwars.com/news/ralph_mcquarrie_remembered.html

Ralph Maquarry notably drew concept art for George Lucas and the Star Wars universe. http://starwars.com/news/ralph_mcquarrie_remembered.html

Syd Mead. Another great illustrator, know for futuristic looks and notably worked on Blade Runner. http://sydmead.com/v/11/

Syd Mead. Another great illustrator, know for futuristic looks and notably worked on Blade Runner. http://sydmead.com/v/11/

David Russell himself, has done a lot of high profile, Hollywood movies. I could mention “Narnia; The Lion, The With and The Wardrobe”, “Star Wars, Return of the Jedi” and “Batman” by Tim Burton, but to truly grasp the epicness of this guy’s references, have a look on his webpage: http://www.dynamicimagesdr.com/#!

David Russell's concept art for Tim Burton's batman. He drew these on black paper with white.

David Russell’s concept art for Tim Burton’s batman. He drew these on black paper with white.

Now obviously I am not going to let you in on all the secrets and techniques Mr. Russell relied on to us this weekend, for that I encourage you to look out for his seminars or webinars which are worth your time and money. The seminar is useful to all people who work in film production, and even the film enthusiast can benefit. There is something about listening to people who work in the hardcore, big buck, world wide release side of the film business that should tick any film geek’s fancy.

Depending on the project, sometimes storyboard artists have to act like directors and figure out the best way to shoot a sequence. Sometimes because there isn’t time for the director, other times because the director wants to see what the storyboard artist can bring to the project. The artist has to be lighting technician, be able to draw emotions and body language so true and believable, that producers will get confident that this movie will be great. The artist has to know his history and current fashions, he has to be storyteller and visionary. But at the same time the storyboard artist works to realize the directors vision. In some projects he will have freedom to spew creative wonderfulness on his pages and see them gradually come to life and breathe on the big screen. Other times he will just have to do his job and shut up. And for that I want you, on your next visit to the movies, to sit down and figure out who was the storyboard artist? Did they have a concept artist? And then take a moment and thank their blistering hands and tired creative minds for bothering to do their job at all.

I just want to take this humble blog space to honor the so often overlooked and unappreciated artists who labour by pen, marker or even by drawing pads on their computer to give us imagery to shock our brains and forever push our boundaries of what is possible. Thank you.

David Russell's Concept Art from Moulin Rouge (2002) directed by Baz Luhrman

David Russell’s Concept Art from Moulin Rouge (2002) directed by Baz Luhrman

PS: If you came here for a review, here is a small one: I did watch “A Few Good Men” (1992), while laboring over the storyboard assignment given by David Russell. Even though my attention was half on the movie, half on the very cartoony drawings of Narnia people that came from my hands, I can safely say that you won’t be bored. There is a lot of talking, which is why it was a great movie to draw to, one didn’t miss much by listening, although I had my bf close for any questions when I missed any vital information. There’s politics, and conspiracy, lawyers working hard to prove something they know is true, but for which all evidence has seemingly disappeared or been replaced. It is frustrating and tense in all the good ways. And you get to see Tom Cruise being a young wise-ass lawyer. And you get to hear Jack Nicholson shout the famous words, “You can’t handle the truth”. That is worth the watch alone.

"A Few Good Men" (1992) starring Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson and Demi Moore, directed by Rob Reiner, Storyboarded by Thomas W. Lay Jr. (credited as illustrator)

“A Few Good Men” (1992) starring Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson and Demi Moore, directed by Rob Reiner, Storyboarded by Thomas W. Lay Jr. (credited as illustrator)

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The other day me and my live-in boyfriend Tommer (no that is not a spelling mistake, it’s Hebrew) decided to celebrate the start of Easter by going out for the classic “Dinner and a Movie”. After a long and heated debate where I wanted to watch the new film coming out of my hometown Stavanger called “Eventyrland” (Fairytale Country), and he wanted to go watch “Jack – the Giant Slayer”, we decided on a compromise and went with the new British romantic comedy “I Give it a Year”. You might wonder how I managed to get a boyfriend to choose a romcom over a crime/drama or a fantasy/adventure… Alas I cannot give you any pointers as it was the trailer, which he found hilarious, that did the work:

specifically the dance… it is… hilarious…

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appologies for the arrow. I will find better picture than a screenshot from imdb 😉

The film is one of those romcoms where nothing is truly bad.

There are several points, jokes and characters that are rather good, and there are some scenes that I truly wish I had written myself as they put conventions of the romcom on it’s head and twist it around and shove it in your face for good measure.

The only thing I worry about is… it might be forgettable….

I haven’t yet had an urge to watch the movie again. Granted, it has only been a couple of days, but normally when I watch a romcom and I love it, I immediatly want to buy it, chastise and curse the distribution market for being so slow (then the prices for being high the first couple of weeks that it’s out) and then I will bring it back to my (rather large) DVD collection where I will give it a nice cosy place between “Four Weddings and a Funeral” and “Love Actually”. But I don’t have that feeling. I remember loving the film, but no other urges. I feel like I will forget I ever watched it and possibly buy it again on a bargain hunt years from now only to remember once I’ve put it on that “Oh yeah, saw this in the cinema, it was nice.”

All the four heroes of this movie in one big happy (read f***** up) double date.

All the four heroes of this movie in one big happy (read f***** up) double date.

However this evening was not a waste of our time and both of us really truly enjoyed ourselves. We laughed all through the movie. And that is a huge thing.  This story never lets go of the comedy and dupes into 100% drama for the last 20 minutes, like so many other romcoms do (guys hate that). We cringed at the wonderfully embarrassing and hilarious situations our four (I will name them four) heroes get into. And obviously as a couple, there were more than one skit about the dysfunctional parts of a relationship that hit really close to home (the guy never takes out the trash, the girl always bitches about insignificant things, the guy asks for permission or advice on EVERYTHING like what to wear, the girl sings loudly to music but with the wrong lyrics etc. etc. etc.). If you go with your better half to watch this one, maybe some of your squabbles will be put in perspective. For better or for worse 😉

There is also the best joke of the entire movie, which I will not give away, but it starts like the title; “I’m just going to the little men’s room…”.

I think what left at least myself wanting, was the total lack of a surprise turn in the story. You know where it’s going to end and it does end the way you think it will, and in a way that makes it good, but the way it happens is not spectacular, jaw-dropping or awe-breaking. It’s not memorable. It is just nice. Not disappointing. Just nice. Forgettable.

Having said that, Stephen Merchant (for non-UK residents  he is Ricky Gervais’ sidekick in most things, notably a writer on the BRITISH version of “The Office”) playing the annoying best friend/best man, is worth the movie alone. I found myself waiting for the scenes where his blissfully stupid-looking face would show up, saying or doing something which is (in most settings) totally inappropriate. Just watching his gangly body and the self-confident grin on his face is enough to make me laugh. There is a thin line he is playing with here where with only the slightest altercation of his wrist, he might be on the annoying side instead… But for me and my bf he balanced it perfectly. Every time. No exceptions.

Ah, Stephen Merchant, you make us laugh!!

Ah, Stephen Merchant, you make us laugh!!

You will learn several things from this movie. You will learn that adding white turtledoves into a romantic gesture, might not be the brightest idea you’ll have in a century. You will learn to always check your USB stick before you put it into a digital photo frame at your in-laws christmas party. And you will learn that not all movies need to stay with you forever. Some just need to entertain us right now and then go away. And there is nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all.

PS: For especially interested or nosy people, we went to Inside Rock Cafe and Bar in Bergen for dinner before we went to the cinema. This place is known for having great burgers, and they have about 20 different kinds you can choose from. One is a currey burger… With pineapple… (I should have tried that one). I was, however ,challenged on my capability to eat hot, spicey food by a chilidressing and jalapeno topped (no… not topped… COVERED) burger called Fireball. I did have to drink loads of water, but it was no match to Nando’s Hot chicken burgers which I have yet to defeat.

Tommer would also like to tell you all that the best potato wedges in town are here. He proved it by eating every last piece on his plate and the extras we got to boot. I approve of them too. Perfectly seasoned and a little crispy on the outside 😉 So get all your asses to Bergen and have a burger (cause the traditional Norwegian food really is nothing much to write to you about;) (notice how I didn’t mention anything about price… sneaky…;)

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Mila Kunis does a wonderful Wicked Witch of the West

Everyone loves Oz. Americans especially (given that the box office results are kind so far). I however was never exposed to the delightful original until I was well into my bachelor degree in media. Forever and always will I wish for movie savvy parents who would have put me in front of the 1939 version as a kid because I know my love for it would have run deeper than it does now.

I love it in an “wow they used color for (one of the) first time and they decided to make good use out of it”. And there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t envy the moviegoers of the late 30s the experience of having the black and white screen be washed with a brilliant techni-colour. But alas the beginning only has the effect of mere curiousity, and in this prequel version of the land of Oz, it only serves as a nod to the original. One of the few nods that Disney could manage to do without being sued for all the gold in the wizard’s treasury by Warner Bros. (who holds the rights for the original movie). The wow factor when the screen (finally) goes cinemascope and the colours come back, and the 3D becomes deeper, would have been amazing back in the day. But it’s nice, you know, quaint.

If you are going to go watch this movie, and you do not have a child easily at hand to force to come with you, be aware that you should set your mind to childish. It is not that the film can’t be enjoyed by adults, because I did enjoy it, but half the movie is the wonder and awe at Oz itself in all it’s CGI beauty. I would have enjoyed having a child next to me, gasping at the giant flowers opening as James Franco’s Oz walks by and giggling at the sharp-toothed water fairies. It’s like christmas. It’s just not the same.

The one thing I will truly commend Disney for on this one, is that it is the first time in years that I have decided that it was a good choice to go to the 3D rather than the 2D version. I always go to the 3D in the vain hope that someone has figured out how to make it worth my money, but I am most of the time left disappointed. This time I had several instances of near ducking behind the seat because I thought spears and flying baboons were coming at me. And yes IT IS a cheap trick, AND it rips me out of the trance that is movie watching AND you feel more like you’ve mistaken and gone to Walt Disney World rather than your local cinema. But at least then there is a point to the 3D. That’s all I’m sayin’.

Now this prequel starts with the semi-talented magician/scientist, Oz, who is not doing so well in the real (black and white 4:3) world. Work trouble, girl trouble and personality issues in abundance. He is whisked into the land of Oz in the same way Dorothy was, that blasted twister, but in a hot air balloon so that we can get a nice panoramic view of the land of Oz (don’t get confused now) before our hero crashes into a terrifying river. This is where I can imagine the creative team at Disney are solely putting in action sequences so they can justify later making an Oz Theme park and then have a water-splash ride, a temple run style ride, a Soarin’ (simulator of paragliding in EPCOT) type simulator for the hot air balloon twister ride and the bubble escape etc. etc. etc. There are so many instances that these thoughts pop into my mind that it almost ruins it for me. But then again I will probably go to the park when it comes so I can’t really complain 😉

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Emerald City. Loads of these panoramic views of Oz makes the movie a delight to the eyes.

What makes “Oz – the great and powerful” really worth watching is Mila Kunis’ transformation from the sweet, naive and neutral witch to the full blown green skinned Wicked Witch of the West that we know. Granted she plays the role of sweet witch horribly and has several corny dialogue bits that will make you cringe, but once Oz says “ByeBye” to the “over attached girlfriend” that she is, we know from the tears that she cries, which leaves scars in her beautiful, spotless face, that this is going to be great. And she is. I can hardly tell it’s little Mila Kunis under that bent old witch’s hat.

The visual effects, which is why you are watching this movie after all, to see Oz in absolute splendor, are impecable. As they should be after a budget like this. But the one animated character that stood out and really created an emotion in the audience (I could tell by child laughter that they liked this one) is the petite porcelain girl who is saved by Oz’ magic (read: glue) and who indeed is NOT computer animated, but if I read the credits right, is actually a marionette puppet. Kudos to Disney for getting in some old techniques as well. I am a firm believer that visual effects work best when blended with stop-motion, mechanical contraptions and other “real life” special effects.

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In the middle we can see the petite porcelain doll whom you instantly want to take care of (she might break after all).

It might look a bit like I didn’t care for the movie, which is not true I did like it, for what it is. A fairy tale for children with little character development, some comic relief and loads of oooos and awwwws on the visuals. Kidnap a child and go and watch it (then please give the child unharmed back to his or her parents;). Maybe some of the magic will rub of on you 😉

PS: My first encounter with the world of Oz was “Wicked” on Broadway in 2006. I cannot help that my insides are filled with fear that the plans for doing a film adaptation now will slow down to the trickle of a snail or be thrown out completely. “Oz – the great and powerful” doesn’t take that prequel story into account at all so it is a completely different prequel scenario. I pray to all the starlight in the univers that they will still make it. Just make it for grown-up sad musical lovers like me. I’m sure I’m not the only one… 😀

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