Friday, April 30, 2010
Whitney and I have a history of movie-themed months. Month of Horror is coming up on its third year but we've decided that October is just too far away. That's why we're watching 31 Foreign Films in 31 Days during the month of May. Feel free to join us, read our reviews, and wish us luck.
The Movie Case just released their Top 10 Superhero Movies list. It's great list, go check it out. In honor of their great list, here's another great list.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Every comment earns you a chance to win prizes.
You should win prizes.
Fletch, Drew Danburry, and Simon Columb have.
You should be like them.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Toy Story: Pixar's first feature had a lot of characters to introduce to the world. Choosing to include the ensemble cast in the poster was a smart move. If your kid doesn't love astronauts and cowboys, maybe a dinosaur will suit his/her fancy. Little Bo Peep is prevalent, as is the recognizable Mr. Potato Head. Toss in a Piggy Bank, a Troll doll, Slinky Dog, and even a hard-to-spot Army Man and you've covered your bases.
A Bug's Life: Besides Wall-E, this is Pixar's most beautiful posters. Separate the illustrations from the movie and you've got a poster any kid would want on their wall. We've been shrunk down even smaller than the tiny bugs, giving us a great POV from below. I love that we're introduced to the characters through a leaf that's been partially eaten. It creates a sense of a "secret world" and that the bugs are as interested in us as we are in them.
Monsters, Inc.: Now that's a clean poster. The white background mirrors the Toy Story 2 poster but with full-length shots of new characters, it's utilized much better. If you're going to go with a blank, white background space, this is an effective way to use it. That being said, when your subjects are MONSTERS, why waste your poster space on a boring picture like this? When's the last time your kid had a nightmare about a well-lit monster just standing out in the open in an Awkward Family Photos pose? They had a lot to work with here but just delivered a lazy poster. Also, Sulley's face is annoying. And the title looks like bad 90s clipart.
The Incredibles: And now for something completely different. The bright reds and oranges are a sharp contrast to the deep blues Pixar usually uses. Compared to every poster before it, the action captured here is about 100x more intense. And it's definitely the only poster with a giant explosion. But even with the fireballs, flying villains, and UFOs, the Incredibles poster is pretty underwhelming. I stared and stared at this poster, trying to figure out why it didn't work for me. Finally, it hit me. It's their faces. Explosions aren't threatening to audiences when they aren't threatening to the characters. All of their facial expressions seem to be saying "Not too shabby, eh?" "We're not scared. You shouldn't be either." And I'm not. I'm bored. Do you know when I wasn't bored? When those fish were shitting themselves on the Nemo poster.
Cars: Honestly, there's not much I like about this poster. For some reason, car romance is hard to for me to buy...even when it's played against long, curvy mountain roads and out-of-place waterfalls. This poster is just as boring as every car commercial on TV right now. I'm just waiting for the APR financing figures. 0% Down? Wow, what a great deal. But even as boring and cliche the poster art is, the title logo is definitely Pixar's most polished so far and looks to have received the most thought behind it.
Ratatouille: I love posters, especially for animated films, that take a snapshot during the action. This is the complete opposite of the Monsters Inc. poster. Why just prop your characters up against a white space when you can pin them to a white door with giant knifes and forks? He's holding onto cheese, a classic rat image, but the tagline should serve as an example for all tagline writers. It compliments the imagery, makes sense, and sums up the entire conflict in a short, coheisive package. It's great. The title logo is clean, cute, and doesn't distract from the main imagery. Great poster.
WALL-E: Again, Pixar delivers an aestetically pleasing poster that utilizes its color scheme perfectly. It's not the most interesting poster, in fact, it's not even the most interesting Wall-E poster, which can be found here. But since I usually grade the most recognizable posters, this is the one under review. My biggest problem with Wall-E's poster is the forced coheisiveness. It's too sectioned-off. Foreground: robot and rough terrain. Background Right: Rounded Spaceship. Background Center: Moon and Title. Background Right: Moon and Eve. Look at the Ratatouille poster. Everything's positioned together extremely well and when the eye relaxes ont he poster, it's led in one direction. When the eye relaxes on this poster, it doesn't know where to focus. They tried to include too much and ended up voiding out the emotion found on most of Wall-E's other posters. But overall, it's still satisfying and beautiful.
Up: No tagline. Just the word "Up" written in large, could-white text--slanted at an awkward angle Pixar was so proud of they used it again on the Toy Story 3 poster. The Up poster has a great sense of action, uses depth well, and gives you a pretty good idea what the movie's about. One of Pixar's greatest strengths has always been their ability to animate emotions. Dreamworks, on the other hand, specializes in this. The dog's happy. The old man's concerned about his present situation. And that fat kid's having the goddamn time of his life. I wouldn't put this on my wall but it's a strong entry into Pixar's poster collection.
Toy Story 3: We're back to the ensemble cast and this time there's Barbie. The happy-go-lucky crew of children's playthings look pretty worried. They haven't reached Finding Nemo levels of fear but there's definitely something worrisome this side of the camera. In a lot of cases, stacking characters like this will make the poster look forced, overstuffed, and unappealing. One of the perks of using digital designers is that you can pretty much get any layout result you want if you're willing to put in the time. The designers also abandoned the blank, white background of the second poster and adopted this satisfying tan. Great poster.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Dear Bloggers Who Use Captchas,
The LAMB is holding the latest installment of their Director's Chair series from April 28th-April 30th. And while I'll also be submitting my two Scorsese Posters posts, I wanted to write something new for the event.
I got to thinking about movie titles, about how some of them become synonymous with their films, their poster art, or even a single iconic image. But I wanted to separate the text from their attachments (the signifiers from the signified) and rank my favorites--based on the premise that the words were being used as a title for a movie, but not necessarily the movie I already connect them with. In short, what do the words themselves represent and how do they work apart from the famous films?
Gangs of New York.
Right away, hundreds of images fly through my brain. The New York City skyline, gritty urban streets, graffiti, violence, police lights, police tape, hand signs, murder, blood, thugs, the East/West Coast rivalry of the mid-90s, youth, and on and on. Then the questions begin. Is this a documentary? What decades would it span? If it's a narrative film, what decade would it take place in? Are these present-day gangs armed with a heavy arsenal of automatic weapons or are they closer to Jets and Sharks? "DID THEY REMAKE THE WARRIORS?" would certainly have to be asked. This combination of words, Gangs of New York, immediately triggers imagery and prompts inquiries. Isn't that what very movie should do (I'm looking at you, Salt)?
What's a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This?
I'm a fan of longer titles. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I Killed My Lesbian Wife, Hung Her on a Meat Hook, and Now I Have a Three-Picture Deal at Disney. This one elicits thoughts of pick-up lines, crowded bars, maybe an element or two of danger. This could work for a colorful 1960s rom-com (think Cactus Flower) or a low-budget indie drama--possibly set in New York. On its own, WaNGLYDiaPLT (pronounced Wangly Dia-plat) is an interesting title but it does sounds a little cliche. Honestly, if I read this title in smaller festival lineup, I'd probably skip it. That being said, it inspired me to write a film based on my favorite pick-up line, Get Out of My Dreams, Get Into My Car.
Talk about triggering vivid imagery. This movie could be about circus freaks, an obese Depression-Era hobo, or even a female pro wrestler. Sure, those are all pretty similar, but the point is: Boxcar. Bertha. I'm interested.
If someone here asked me, "Have you ever seen Boxcar Bertha?" I would immediately open a new window and log in to Netflix. There'd be no way I could respond, "No, what's it about?" and then wait for their reply. If the DVD art didn't look horrendous (I will judge a DVD by its cover), it'd be at the top of my queue just waiting for me to send back Project Runway: Season 5, Disc 4. You've got to admire anyone willing to label their quality product with a name like this.
The Color of Money.
A lazier writer would have just named it "Green."
The Last Temptation of Christ.
What a great title. You're already familiar with the main character, you recognize the finality of the situation, and its got great cadence. The rhythm of the words hits you three times. The LAST TempTATION of CHRIST. The only thing the marketing people would have to do with make sure everyone knew it wasn't a "Christian" film.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Nakatomi Inc. is selling these amazing Bill Murray stickers. They've got quite a bit of other cool stuff for sale as well. They're 6''x6'' which is pretty sizable for a sticker. All of your favorite movies are here: Caddyshack, Stripes, Ghostbusters, Rushmore (I believe?), Lost in Translation, and of course, The Life Aquatic of Steve Zissou. The pack sells for $12.00 and Nakatomi Inc. is offering FREE SHIPPING. I bought a pack last week and they arrived today. Needless to say, I'm in love. Buy some for yourself and some more for your friends.
Friday, April 23, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
I've been lucky enough to cover a few film festivals (Sundance, SXSW, and Cinequest) over the past couple years. Some of you have asked how I got hooked up with the gig so I've written up some steps for those interested in becoming a film festival critic.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Every family has a movie (or movies) that, for one reason or another, takes the VCR/DVD Player hostage and receives more repeat viewings than it deserves. In our house, some of those movies were 3 Ninjas, D2: The Mighty Ducks, and The Meteor Man. These are just some of the movies I want to write about in my new series, Kid Flicks.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Never having watched 2001: A Space Odyssey was my longest-held cinephile shame. That is, until yesterday's screening. For years, I avoided "Slow Walking on Spaceship Movies" the same way other people avoid "Boat Movies" or "Torture Porn." Solaris was most likely the culprit that began my distaste. Thanks to the 1001 Movies You Must See group, I've righted my greatest wrong.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Inspired by a Jonny and Reed's discussion on their Gene Shalit Power Hour podcast, I decided to create an ever-growing list of Movies I've Fallen Asleep During.
Friday, April 16, 2010
Thursday, April 15, 2010
ATTN: All Merchandising and Marketing Directors,
Every family has a movie (or movies) that, for one reason or another, takes the VCR/DVD Player hostage and receives more repeat viewings than it deserves. In our house, some of those movies were Sister Act, D2: The Mighty Ducks, and The Meteor Man. These are just some of the movies I want to write about in my new series, Kid Flicks.
Co-Starring: Eddie Griffin, James Earl Jones, Bill Cosby, Don Cheadle, and Sinbad
Release Date: August 6th, 1993
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
I've been on a PODCAST kick lately. Here are five (film-themed) podcasts that I'm head over heels for.