Home

The Hobbit 3D, 48fps

1 Comment

Much has been made of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey being released in some 3D showings with a frame rate of 48 frames per second. Since I have now seen the film both in 2D at 24fps and the 3D version at 48fps, I feel that I am in a position to weigh in on their differences; for my original review of the film, please click here. The 3D/48fps criticisms I have heard have been: (a.) the movement does not look right and (b.) the costumes and sets make the actors look they are from a Lord of the Rings convention and not in a Lord of the Rings movie. I can explain the first and fully disagree with the second.

A. At first, the movement does looks different. But so did 3D the first time I saw it. After twenty minutes I stopped noticing it, and after ninety minutes I realized that I had stopped noticing it. It is important to remember that life happens in front of us with no frames, but that TV comes at us at 29.97 fps, everything British comes at 25 fps, and that normally movies–at least DVDs–are 23.97 fps. So 48 fps should be twice as real, but that begs the question, what is “real” when it comes to movies? By Rivendell and in the Misty Mountains the movement looked better in this version than in the 2D one—which already looked great to begin with.

B. I could not see where this criticism came from—whence this criticism came, if you prefer. The costumes were on par with those in Lord of the Rings. A couple scenes were computerized and looked as such, but they looked a bit more realistic here than in the 2D version. The ones that spring to mind involve Radagast and his super-bunnies, but those looked marginally more computerized in the 2D rendering. The reason for this, I believe, has more to do with the conversions over format. Having seen Avatar in both 3D and 2D, certain former 3D elements stick out like sore thumbs in the 2D version. Of course the backgrounds in that film were designed to look 3D in a 3D cinema and then were converted to the traditional 2D format. It seems plausible that when Peter Jackson endeavored to create a 3D 48ps filmgoing experience he has his computer graphics people make 3D environments which they later converted to 2D for the 2D release.

In summary, the costumes looked amazing. The sets looked great. The computer graphics were overused at certain points. And any different frame rate takes a little bit of time to get used to, but this film looked great. After this positive experience I would choose to go with the director’s intended format every time. Unless that director were Michael Bay. He can take his fighting robots and project them onto the moon and I still would not watch his crap.

This Is Spinal Tap

1 Comment

****

The review for “Shark Sandwich” was merely a two word review which simply read “Shit Sandwich”.

Rob Reiner directs, co-writes and co-stars in the seminal and original mockumentary, a rockumentary parodying concert films along the lines of The Song Remains The Same, but only if Led Zeppelin had kept rocking too long and fallen out of popularity. And been comprised of total twits. The main twits also wrote it: Michael McKean–David, Harry Shearer–Derek, and Christopher Guest–Nigel.

THE band

This film led to some cult classics: Waiting For Guffman, Best In Show, A Mighty Wind, and For Your Consideration. Not only did they spawn their own genre, they spawned other works like CB4 and “The Office.” Think about the breadth between those two works. One is a rapumentary starring Chris Rock and the other a BBC comedy.

The guest stars who lined up for this musical masterpiece of comedy include: Bruno Kirby, Billy Crystal, Fran Drescher, Dana Carvey, Paul Shaffer, and Angelica Huston. Two future collaborators also appeared in the movie: Ed Begley, Jr. and Fred Willard, who stole his scene. May I start by saying how thrilled we are to have you here. We are such fans of your music and all of your records. I’m not speaking of yours personally, but the whole genre of the rock and roll. Wonderfully, this movie has a scene stealer in almost every scene in its all too short 82 minutes.

Billy Crystal as Morty the Mime

Billy Crystal as Morty the Mime

Lastly, my favorite musical number has to be Big Bottom. For your aural and visual pleasure I have included this link. You’re welcome. And, if “we’re talking about mud flaps, my girl’s got ’em!”

Keeping the Faith

Leave a comment

***

You’re a Sikh, Catholic Muslim with Jewish in-laws?

I really enjoyed Eli Wallach in this. I also enjoyed how attractive and charming Jenna Elfman was in this. The end is a bit cheesy pie, and I do not understand why Jenna Elfman loved Ben Stiller’s character so much. Director/Actor Ed Norton and Ben Stiller had great chemistry, that made me believe that they truly had been friends their whole lives. On the other hand, there were so many crappy jokes—like the follow ups to the spectacles, testicles, wallet, watch joke.

keeping_the_faith_ben_stiller_jenna_elfman

Still, amongst the lame jokes and predictable situations—oh gee, a woman who thought success in business would be the best life changes her mind when she falls in love—there was a surprising heart to this romantic comedy/pre-bromance. More than that, it was culturally sensitive considering the sheer volume of religious jokes. Go G-d Squad! Just kidding, that name seemed aimed at people far older and less hip than me.

Underworld: Awakening

1 Comment

In 2003 the world of werewolves versus vampires was not bogged down in Christian propaganda and hundred of million dollars budgets. NO! Its hope, and the hope of Twihards relied on three things: Kate Beckinsale in leather, gory action, and strong supporting actors.

Kate Beckinsale in Screen Gems' Underworld: Awakening

Kate Beckinsale in Screen Gems’ Underworld: Awakening

Nine years later…much of the original creative team is still at it, so they stuck to the formula. Beckinsale does not appear to have aged much, which is great for eternal vampires. There was a great deal of exciting, gory action. As for the supporting actors they did have one third hitter and one six hitter, trying to pull off hitting in the five spot. (3) Stephen Rea–V For Vendetta–did what he could as the scientist/Lycan*/villain. (5) Michael Ealy–Flashforward–is enigmatic in a way that is consistent with not getting the whole script. Or, he read the entire script, as short as it must’ve been for this confusing 82 minute gem, and decided that acting like he knew more than he did was the way to go.

Despite their efforts, this is barely a **½ movie. The reason for this can be summarized by the questions I asked during the movie:
1. Why don’t the vampires/death dealers act like vampires/death dealers and stop these human forces?
2. Where the hell did Michael Corvino and Selene–Beckinsale–wind up?
3. How did they get captured?
4. When Selene is escaping, why did the facility’s staff try to stop her until they actually could subdue her, when Stephen Rea decided, nah, let’s let her lead us to “Subject 1.”
5. Having killed so many people during the escape, why wait until there is no guarantee of further guilty victims to finally choose to drink some blood?
6. Why is there so much slow motion walking? (Answer, to help stretch out the length of the movie.)
7. Why did the Lycans win during the mutual Vampire/Lycan purge started by the humans?
8. Why is this the repeated line in the movie? It’s worse if you try to fight it.

Actually, now it makes sense. When you’re watching this movie it’s true. Best to not ask questions and just wait for more neckbites.

*Lycan is Underworld speak for a werewolf. It makes sense in Latin.

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

Leave a comment

***½

Have some confidence. You are a good looking man…more or less…

Cute, funny, satirical, stupid, gory. I watched this because I wanted something easy and I have always enjoyed Alan Tudyk’s work. The other star, Tyler Labine, I had never hear of before, but he’s actually very good as the sweet, dimwitted hillbilly savant Dale. The shocking performance herein comes from Katrina Bowden. She was unrecognizable from the shallow bimbo she plays on “30 Rock.”* I loved her as the voice of reason, even if she kept getting knocked unconscious.

IMDb summarizes the movie as, “Tucker & Dale are on vacation at their dilapidated mountain cabin when they are attacked by a group of preppy college kids.” That is more accurate than most back of the DVD box descriptions—my favorite ever was The Big Lebowski’s—but still misleading. This is a horror comedy where the actors play it straight, but occasionally make bad jokes. Not bad jokes on the level of a modern Adam Sandler or Eddie Murphy movie, but not on par with the quality of actors’ performances. This is the only feature length film directed by Eli Craig, but I hope that he goes out and tries his hand at this again.

 

* This has no good place in my review, but here goes—she started dating her fiancé the same year this film was made AND the co-writer of the script has the same Swedish sounding last name Jurgensen. My money is on brothers. Coincidence? I think not.

Persepolis

Leave a comment

***

1 sentence review: This has a cool look, but I bet the comic book is much better.

...and very annoying in the film

Very early in the film

Where are you from?

If this film addresses one point, it is to answer that question. Where is Marjane Satrapi from. This auto-biographical comic book shows the Iran of Marjane’s birth, of her childhood, early teenage years, how she left, how she returned and then how she left again. If I had to summarize the Iranian experience it would be—things kept getting shittier while Sharia, Islamic religious, law gained in strength as men’s beards grew and women’s scarves had to cover more.

While the story is told in French, it is a uniquely Iranian one. Still some of the experiences are universal, and most of it is probably regionally poignant. However, this is one of the longest 95 minute movies I have ever seen. After 15 minutes I looked at the clock, because so much had happened already that I expected it to be 1/3 over. Many scenes just do not flow together and the ending is abrupt. As I said, I bet the comic book is better.

Django Unchained

2 Comments

****

I love Blazing Saddles. Recently on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” Mel Brooks said that he did not think that a movie like Blazing Saddles could be made today. He is almost correct. Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained is no Blazing Saddles, but it has moments reminiscent of that classic. In particular, there is one scene where Big Daddy and Bag Head #2—Don Johnson and Jonah Hill, respectively—try to go on a proto-KKK raid.

I think we all think the bags was a nice idea. But, not pointing any fingers, they could of been done better. So how bout, no bags this time, but next time, we do the bags right, and then go full regalia. – Baghead #2
Wait a minute, I didn’t say no bags! This is a raid! It don’t matter if we can’t see, what matters is if the damn horses can see. –
Big Daddy.

That kind of comedy appears every so often, but not as often as the pervasive bloodshed. While Blazing Saddles is R-rated fun for the whole family, this is not. Both films liberally used “the N-word” in a fashion that might be historically accurate, but is certainly not politically correct. Moreover, that attention to detail could be viewed as arbitrary in that neither film paid slavish attention to historical accuracies in some other places. As for the bases of this film, I was surprised that in the five features that Entertainment Weekly assigned as Quentin Tarantino’s influences on Django, that Mel Brooks’ classic was not among them: Django, Taxi Driver, Bonanza, Son of a Gunfighter, and The Empire Strikes Back.

This is some gruesome shit, here

Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin Candie, copyright QT

Those movies point to some of the many inside references. The star of Son of a Gunfighter was in this along with his moderately famous daughter, Amber Tamblyn. Or so the credits say. She wore a mask, so who knows. More recognizable to some is Franco Nero as one of the owner’s of a gladiator-slave, known as a “Mandingo fighter.”

Foxx & Nero

Foxx & Nero

While those hidden gems are cool, they are not what made this a **** film. The primary reason for that is how this was more than a Hustle and Flow in that it was more than a well executed trope with a racial twist—Broomhilda, Kerry Washington, as a Black damsel in distress and a Black hero. This was less racist than Avatar and The Last Samurai in that Christoph Waltz’s wise White guy becomes unnecessary to saving our distressed damsel. Mentioning racism returns me to “the N-word.” What other words from that era can still hold that power? I cannot even think of any contemporary insults, beyond Yid. Carpet bagger came later, but still did not have the same degradation attached to it. Honky has come and gone. My usual complaint with offensive things in cinema is that they desensitize more than they educate. The only thing that Tarantino desensitizes his audience to is giant splashes of blood. I think that he also did a good thing in reminding us that racism is still an issue and that there was a hierarchy within Southern society such that not all slaves were on equal footing, or that there was an equality amongst victims.

Samuel L. Jackson as Stephen

Samuel L. Jackson as Stephen

That brings me to my last point—the great performances. Whether Samuel L. Jackson or Leonardo DiCaprio was better at playing evil is debatable, but what is not, is their excellence in those roles. Jaime Foxx and Christoph Waltz were always enjoyable, but as with Waltz’s Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds the villains stole the show.

Older Entries