Thursday, December 30, 2010

Joe's Top 13 Movies of 2010 List (and 18 flicks I also dug...and one I didn't)

Hi All,

I'm sitting in a Starbucks in Santa Cruz (say that 6 times fast), sucking off of free wi-fi….how "modern" of me. I'm currently in this NorCal coffeery, killing time while the rest of the clan arrives into town and I thought, "What better time to at least start on the Best of 2010 list?" I've been perusing through other's picks as their favortite films of the year and you will (or wont) be shocked to see many of the films I picked are on many other lists. Serendipity? Lack of originality? Or...were there just so few notable films we're all circling the few that were good? Who knows, but aide from one or two left-fielders, nothing here should be that polarizing to anyone, other than I have strange taste or maybe a film would to some be considered "SO last year". But my list's qualifications have always been…what did I see and love THIS YEAR, release date usually be damned. That isn't to say Im gonna be like "SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE is the best film of the 2010!" or any shenanigans like that, but in some cases, some films were unavailable to my senses till this year or they were films that many might have been lucky to see in a festival but I had to see as a lowly layman thanks to art-houses like the Nuart or New Beverly or on video/on demand.

So, as my latte turns cold and some old dudes keep giving me stinkeye for taking up a seat, here is the list of the films that reminded me why I love movies, both viewing them and making them. PLEASE NOTE: I'm no journalist or critic of any form, just a guy who loves movies and likes to make lists. Please take this all with a grain of salt because, well...I like all forms of movies and the list below are the films that just stuck out to me, enough to jot it down on my list I keep on my iPhone as the year presses on. Plus, this is in no way a definitive list as I've yet to see a bunch of films that I have a feeling would make this list if I did see them before the year is up, so this is just a collection of what I DID find time to see. It was hard this year especially since I was in the thick of making a movie or two myself, where you are EXTRA critical on the filmmakers, the process and the end result ("oh, I wonder how many set ups THEY got!" or "Must be nice doing 1 page a day, what a jerk!", etc, etc) but these films actually/mostly made me forget about these hangups and gripes and again, reinforced the reason I always wanted to make movies and make people react to said media; light, dark, good, bad or ugly (or even WEIRD)…there was actual magic on-screen.

THE TOP 13 (why 13? Why the F not?):

I knew this was gonna be my Number 1 film of the year the moment the lights went up back in June. Over the past 2 minus years, I've watched both TOY STORY 1 & 2 an estimated 346 times, thanks to our son Remy's obsession with "Tttthhhhh" (which means "BUZZ LIGHTYEAR" in Remese) which was totally fine by me since I've been a fan of the series (and everything Pixar's done, sans CARS-yuck) since I saw the first one in 95 and couldn't wait to see what Woody, Buzz and the gang were up to next. What I didn't expect is to see one of the darkest animated films since THE SECRET OF NIHM and one of the most profound pieces of digital art in ages. The 3-D was striking, and that was the least salient point of interest. The writing, the acting, the style….i mean, God Damnit, this was potent, heavy stuff here. I watched the finale with tears in my eyes, dread (and cathartic relief) in my heart and thought "Remy is gonna love this " the way I did when I saw WALL-E (which, side note, is now his favorite of the PIXAR movies on Blu next to this title). Even with such a bleak, dark 3rd act, TS3 reminded me of just sitting back and allowing the filmmakers to sweep me away into this familiar world that still had one more poignant story to tell, watching how effortlessly it unfolded where I wasn't picking apart the process. When it was over, I quietly said my goodbyes to the gang but knew I'd be seeing them soon-and often-at home. I couldn't wait to watch it again and again. As of now since it's blu-ray release, I think we're up to 83 times, and I couldn't be happier that I can enjoy it with my son for years to come.

Woah. NOT what I was expecting at all. Sure, I'm a fan of Aronofsky already, practically an apologist for loving REQUIEM sometimes it seems, and midway through the film I thought "Holy shit, this is a straight up Horror flick! It's REPULSION meets SUSPIRIA! it's THE RED SHOES by way of Cronenberg! It's….holy shit hot Portman-On-Kunis action!" Sorry, had to get that out of the way. Even without that erotic tete-a-tete, BLACK SWAN was such a visceral experience that no backlash (which is coming, don't worry) will taint all the emotions that came with seeing it on the big screen, with Bri's fingers digging into my arm at every "sketchy bug-out" (as our friend Dan Merril would say). A brilliant, surreal cinematic experience that is just begging for discussion over every frame and sound effect. Bring on the dance.

Hi, my name is Joe and I'm a HUGE Gaspar Noe fan. ("Hi Joe")
When I started to hear the bad buzz for Noe's tone poem on death, life and everything in between, it actually got me more excited. Even a spectacular failure from this electric film provocateur would be worth seeing, even once. When ENTER THE VOID ended, I swear I could have stayed again. Too bad it was the midnight show. When people say "Cinematic Experience", this is the film they could use as a prime example. I've now seen all of Noe's films in a theater and each time there is usually walkouts, or gasps, some form of visceral and vocal reaction. With its swirling camera, nearly invisible yet incredible CG effects (not including the hypnotic hallucinations, which were a trip unto themselves) and not so subtle subtext of the afterlife, ENTER is a film that will envelop you completely….if you let it. Otherwise, its just strobes and noise, and Noe knows it. Oh, and a big CG penis. Got your attention now? It's not for everyone, but for me its practically everything I love in this filmmaker and in film, a gift of assault on my senses. Noe, you are naughty AND nice.

I've only seen it once, when I took my cast from KoB to see it one off-night (Thanks, Per Diem!) and it was worth every penny for the after-film discussion at the pub. I wish so badly I could have taped/recorded these conversations across this long table of people I admire just tearing into the film (not in a bad way, mind you) and discussing why films like these need to be made more. To just complacently sit in an air-conditioned seat and give into a story is one thing, but to be challenged, to be "worked" by a movie like this, was so much fun, like a cranial roller-coaster ride. I know Ill be watching this over and over for tips on structure, scope and how Nolan plays this and the audience like a puppet-master, but just the thought of that spinning top or the van falling for 45 minutes off that bridge, gives me a case of the smiles. We all talked into the night, barely stopping to sip our beers, and much of that discussion continued into the following Monday. I miss movies that feel so special its as if there are NO other releases out that week, month or even year, and INCEPTION seemed to bring everyone together, one big audience of awed moviegoers enjoying the ride and puzzle. Shockingly, we got the most setups on-set that night, so um….thanks Chris!

Both Bri and I were hotly anticipating this film even before Remy popped out and changed our lives. Read the books, followed the video blogs, fed into the 2 year hype. I wish I wasn't in such a funk when we finally saw it;I was in the middle of production and the last thing I honestly wanted to see was a movie that spent months on fight training alone and supposedly had even longer to shoot, so that's not fair to compare. But still, Edgar stepped up and made one of the most deliriously delightful movie experiences I had this summer that was littered with disappointment. Even with my sky-high expectations, we were not disappointed, even if the ending was divergent from the graphic novel (but totally suited for film). Again, for nearly 2 hours, my "harumph" quickly turned into a "Huzzah!" and I let go of my own gripes, pouring over every comic punch, every heartfelt performance and clever transition. This will be the John Carpenter's THE THING of this generation, a film that might have gotten lost upon first release but will be seen in retrospect at a monumental moment in cinema for years to come. In 30 years, Im sure a SCOTT PILGRIM: LEGACY will be in order…just make sure Edgar is involved, OK?

This one's been tough to gauge where it goes on the list, and it almost prompted me to not put this list in numerical order out of frustration of where SOCIAL should go. Mainly because it seems EVERYONE and their aunts are proclaiming this "The movie of the Year" "This Generations's CITIZEN KANE!" "The most important film of the CENTURY!" OK maybe the last one is a little much, but damn….critics love this movie. Well, I did too. The first time I was just caught up in the storytelling more than the story. However, I need to see it again (which I will) since I feel like I was watching the shots more than fall into the movie's whip crack storytelling (I mean come on, it's Fincher…every shot IS worth obsessing over since he seems to as well for 99 takes or so), but to have a film entertain & engage while provoke us to hold up a mirror to how our very world is changing with a keystroke or trackpad click. That's powerful stuff there and both Fincher, Sorkin and their friends list of dedicated cast and crew work movie magic on what could have been a mushy, Nora Ephron mess (which is what I was expecting, no offense..YOU GOT MAIL still stings I guess)…now if only we could get Noe and Mamet to do a Twitter movie….

I haven't enjoyed a Coen Bros movie like this since i saw my "favorite" film of theirs, MILLERS CROSSING. Both CROSSING and now GRIT had that serious smirk that reminded me of when the RAISING ARIZONA/BLOOD SIMPLE/Raimi co-conspiritors were getting all serious on us, but couldn't help but have a few wry, odd chuckles along the way (The kid and the wig, the screaming oaf, Tommy Boy & Tommy Guns, the fat italian son getting schmacked, Buscemi, etc.). After that it was all "Barton Fink Feeling" and while I don't fault them and have been along the ride (for the most part....Exhibit A: INTOLLERABLE CRUELTY. Exhubit B: LADYKILLERS) TRUE GRIT felt like a return to form. In many ways not just for the Brothers C, who always seemed to make watching a movie fun and challenging and never boring, but for Westerns in general. You dont need post-modern sensibilities or a hot young cast to make Westerns cool or even just relevant enough to lasso some just need a great story, good actors, grand style and a hearty laugh along the way.
"You are not LaBoeuf."
I will be revisiting this many times to come.

For some reason I was on a total Documentary kick this year, more than usual. I think it was because I was so immersed in "fantasy" storytelling, I needed some form of "reality" and being Im not a fan of reality TV (anymore…now that PARADISE HOTEL is dead and buried), I would devour as many docs as I could get my hands on. Even behind the scenes materials on DVD's or Blu…anything that took captured footage and assembled it into a cognitive story of cause and effect, I was in. This year it seemed the trend was the "Faux doc", or at least the claim of the subject and execution being more fabricated than usual; films like CATFISH which claimed to be real but was just more staged than most docs are. Face it people, most docs are done this way, however the more compelling the subject, the more people think its storytelling than "being in the moment". Yet, if the storytelling is just as if not MORE compelling than your usual studio fare, than who fucking cares if its a "hoax" or not? Look at PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2, LAST EXORCISM, REC 2 or one of my other picks, S&Man…even conventional storytelling is using the tropes of a documentary to suck in the viewers. Ok, ok, what's the point here Lynch? Well first, that I'd been hearing about EXIT since Sundance and was psyched to see it for nearly a year, so my expectations were high, yet couldn't see it because just as it was released I was on a plane for Spokane, WA. to prepare for war. When I finally saw it a few weeks ago, I was completely absorbed by the story of the Street Art scene and by the ever evolving storyline, with the Dark Lord Banksy as both the narrator of sorts, the protagonist AND the antagonist, along with the REAL subject of the film, gonzo doc maker/pop "artiste" Thierry Guetta. Having lived in Los Angeles while this crazed "Undie" movement was sprayed all over town, I always wondered who was putting up Warhol-esque shots of Alfred Hitchcock in shades…and now I know, as well as the insanity behind the silkscreen. One of the strangest and most satisfying stories this year, real or fictional.

Another movie Im sure someone will point their finger and push up their glasses exclaiming in Nerdspeak "Um, exxxxcuse me Siiiir but that was released in 2009. Worst. List. Ever!" but it was released in theaters in 2010, so suck it. I wouldn't mention it if I didn't think it was one of the best times at the movies I had this year, a TRUE adventure film in every sense; Vast, explosive, fun, funky, a little fucked-up and filled with humor, heart and heroics. Ji-Woon Kim, who directed the subtle and creepy TALE OF TWO SISTERS, unleashes his inner Leone & Spielberg with this tale of a hidden treasure map and the 3 odd outlaws out for it. The cinematography in both the train sequence that kick-starts the film in high gear and the rollicking chase scene that rocks the 3rd act is amazing. Seriously, this is some of the cleanest and most excitingly staged action I've seen in a film in years, and deserves to be seen on the big screen (mark your New Beverly calendars). Plus, Ill watch anything Kang-ho Song (from THIRST & THE HOST) is in, he's magnetic in every moment, especially here at the "Weird" one.
If TRUE GRIT didn't knock me in the chops this year, I'd say this film revived my hope that the Western isn't dead yet.

I've kinda given up on Superhero movies for a spell, or so I thought. Vaughn's KICK ASS is a colorful kick in the narcs and just the kind of hyper-violent, vulgar and somewhat sexy story I usually bothered Blair Butler for when I would stop by her desk during my G4 days. Well shot, well acted and wild as hell. A movie we'll all profess to have seen in the theaters when our kids ask about it when only a few actually did (I have my stub to prove it, suckas!) and one we'll reference when we look back at the good ole days when Super Hero movies were in vogue…till they weren't (that time is neigh). PS: Goodbye Matilda….you've been replaced by Hit-Girl as the new Geek Chic jailbait.

OK, lets see the ingredients, shall we? A Christmas movie….that's a horror movie….with an "Evil" Santa (not just a BAD one)…and feels like a lost Amblin film, one that Joe Dante would have made before GREMLINS 2 possibly if he wanted to make his own reboot of THE THING (if that was a hit). It will take a few years, but I have a feeling this will be playing for 24 hours in a loop at the Lynch household in a few years. Amazing production design, carefully selected visuals and a great performance by Onni Tommila as "the kid", this is a holiday film you shouldn't miss next year, or hell, watch it in April, you'll thank me. Oscilloscope Laboratories (who also put out EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP) strikes again! Watch out Harvey….

12. S&Man
've been clamoring to see this for years having been a JT Petty fan (see MIMIC 3, SOFT FOR DIGGING and some of THE BURROWER) and this sounded so intriguing…a documentary exposing the obsession of the horror genre, the festivals and conventions that champion and exploit it and the fascinating (and sometimes deeply disturbing) people who both flock to these festivals and create such horrors, including the fascination with "Snuff films". Like EXIT, the line between reality and fiction blur as JT injects himself into the narrative as he and a mysterious "filmmaker" cross paths at a Chiller convention, only to be embroiled in both a meditation of what makes us wince using horror films…and what happens when things go too far. NOT for the faint of heart, this was one of the more powerful and stirring films I saw, release date be damned.

I couldn't take my eyes off this film from the bone-chilling first moment to the boot-stomp of a climax. It's a "love or hate" type flick, a home-invasion film (now becoming a tired genre all it's own) but done in such a meditated way-the film consists of 12 long shots total, no small feat there-that it's hard not to be completely engrossed both in the process and the people stuck in the story. Gripe all you want about the victims likability…Im sure if a bunch of cameras were trained on YOU as you were being terrorized by some (somewhat) faceless antagonists, the audience would likely cry "douchebags". It was the almost banality of the set up which made KIDNAPPED such a compelling film for me, especially now that I have the emotional baggage of a family where every decision could cost lives. Director Miguel Angel Vivas does a nimble job of letting you revel in the process of the long takes (which, as a director, I love…but for almost selfish reasons) but also allowing you to fall into the drama enough to forget about the technique as the unlucky family is tormented into survival, with an ending that evoked the same HOLY FUCK response I haven't uttered since Mr. White got blown out of frame at the end of RESERVOIR DOGS. I might be in the minority here, but KIDNAPPED was grim and engrossing.

OTHER MOVIES WORTH MENTIONING (in no particular order):

THE BOOK OF ELI: I had NO expectations for this movie (hell, it came out in January….JANUARY!!!) , but boy did I admire the hell out of it. The first film shot on RED that I actually loved, the fight scenes were fantastic in their long-take simplicity and Atticus Ross' score was downloaded 20 minutes after I got home from the movies. Not so sure if the twist holds up, but the ride was worth it.

A SERBIAN FILM: I cannot actually recommend this movie, unless you wanted to know which film this year simultaneously disgusted, enraged & fascinated me, but I can't deny that its a superior film in it's technical craft, the acting is intense (especially Srdjan Todorrvic as the aging porn star forced into the most awful of situations by an insane director to put food on the table) and any movie that can make me go "No way, they're going there…OH SHIT THEY WENT THERE!" gets the Balls Award in my book. I'd say it's this year's HUMAN CENTIPEDE but where Tom Six's gonzo experiment had a playful dread to it (and looked like it was shot on an iPhone), this film is all rage, anger and pent-up pain rolled into a shocksploitation classic to be. I do wish it played at FrightFest this year before it got caught up in controversy and was banned from playing, because man, it would have resulted in a riot me thinks….and I wanted to be there. Good luck with this one, kids.

FROZEN: Fuck off Im bias; I told you not to take this list seriously, but Im callin' em like I saw them, and FROZEN was kinda fantastic. I kinda wish I wasn't close with Adam (or in the film as a cameo, or the name-only inspiration for one of the leads…) so I could applaud this film more for being so damn effective. One of the most intense times I've been in the movies this year…and I saw it twice before at home AND read the script before! Love it or not, you can't deny it's power to make you ask yourself "what would YOU do?" Kudos, GreenPeace, you knocked it out of the park. Also, you're an asshole for leaving me up there for an hour, dick.

MONSTERS: I gotta see this one again since the first time was at FrightFest, Green and I were on edge due to the tech issues with this year's Road To FrightFest shorts and I was deliberately watching more to see "How did he do that?" than actually get swept into the film. I was still slack-jawed by the visuals and the subtle tone of the film and loved the "twist" at the end, but I don't think I gave it it's proper due the first time around. Gareth Edwards and his laptop are ones to watch for sure.

TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL: SORELY buried and not given a proper release (yet), this horror comedy was so refreshing in it's satirical take of backwoods horror movies (which, ahem, I have played a part in) but also in how lovable and charming it's leads are. As a fan of both Alan (Tucker) and Tyler (Dale) from their TV work, I was already primed to like it, however I wasn't prepared for the well-staged set-pieces that sated both horror fans yearning for the networks AND those tired by the usual splatter by showing it from the perspective of the hillbillies, not the inane college kids usually painted as the victims. SOMEONE RELEASE THIS MOVIE, NOW!!!

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2: Who would have thought? Not me, but this movie still spooked me out good. Having made a sequel to a somewhat known property myself, its hard to please fans of the original and also stamp the film as it's own beast, but Tod Williams crafted a great film that does what every sequel should; make you rethink the original film or at the very least, go back and see how things connect. Damn you Oren, you did it again! That kitchen scare was AWESOME.

NEVER SLEEP AGAIN: After enduring the dreadful "reboot" this past year, I was sorely in need of some good ole' fashioned Freddy Krueger action, and this 4 HOUR documentary that spans the genesis of the Dream Killer and his legacy in the world of horror is a must own for any fan of 80's movies or even the genre in general. With insightful interviews from the cast and crew (no fanboy rantings like MY NAME IS JASON, for which im guilty of being part of myself) and a well-crafted (but never boring) structure, NEVER SLEEP AGAIN was the rare behind-the-screams documentary that I actually watched twice, not only because I'm a big NIGHTMARE series fan, but its a compelling story of the rise of New Line (i.e. "The House That Freddy Built") and how the series affected the genre in both positive and negative ways. You MUST see this.

CYRUS: Just watched this on a flight home from New York and actually watched it twice. I'd heard of the "mumblecore" genre and the devious Duplass Bros. but never saw their previous films, THE PUFFY CHAIR & BAGHEAD. They are now on my "must see" list, if CYRUS is any indication of their talent for uncomfortable comedy and mining truth and heart in the mundane. John C Reilly and Jonah Hill are great opponents, both pining for the love and attention of the forever gorgeous Marisa Tomei (who is defining the "Distinguished Female" trend by just getting better-and hotter-the older she gets). In a year with many comedies that made me smirk more than smile, let alone laugh (GET HIM TO THE GREEK, DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS, GROWN UPS, THE OTHER GUYS, etc), CYRUS was subtle, understated and many times hilarious in all the wrong moments. Consider me a Mumblecore convert.

TANGLED: Haven't had this much fun at a Disney movie since ALADDIN. Such a great time at the movies (and Remy approved as well!) and for a non-Pixar flick, a MAJOR achievement for Disney in both the look and the storytelling. Oh, the Horse steals the movie.

WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY: Speaking of Disney, this eye-opening doc on the "second coming" of Disney in the 90's was shockingly honest and completely compelling. The times they were a changing' at the Mouse House, and seeing it all unfold here made for a fantastic film.

SHUTTER ISLAND: Scorsese doing a horror movie=Me happy. Not perfect, but finally a movie of Marty's that seemed to finally utilize Robert Richardson's overhead, overexposed lighting perfectly to fit the tone of the story. As always, Thelma Schoonmaker's jumpy fingerprints are all over this sometimes brilliant psychological head-trip, which adds to the tension, and I really like Ruffalo in it too. Need to see again and I'll bet the funny farm I like it more.

PIRANHA 3-D: Two words….COCK VOMIT. Saw this literally 3 hours after we wrapped on KNIGHTS (and 4 hours before I had to catch a flight home) and in my exhausted, punchy and slightly drunk state, was the perfect way to celebrate a job well done. I like Aja (his best film is still HILLS HAVE EYES redux to me) and here he looked like he was having a bloody blast. I can't wait to see what Gulager and the FEAST boys cook up for the sequel.

REC 2 - ALIENS if we only watched from Lt. Gorman's perspective on the video monitors….and the Xenomorphs were Zombies-er, "Infected". Quick, gripping stuff and I loved how it continued seconds after QUARANT-er, REC ended. Can't wait for the third and fourth installment.

JOAN RIVERS: A PIECE OF WORK- Can we talk? Yes, I'm admitting to enjoying this funny, sad, somewhat desperate doc about everyone's favorite comedy whipping woman. Again, on my documentary kick, it was the perfect fix of dishy pathos and hilarious heartbreak. The bitch still has it.

VALHALLA RISING: God I love how this film looked (another film shot on the RED, and man those wide lens vistas!). Not really sure what the hell was going on, but In Refn We Trust, right? I appreciate any film that can tell a story so fractured and almost poetically (for better or worse) that I was absorbed by the tale of One Eye (which was like a mix of Von Trier, Herzog and ROAD WARRIOR) even if I couldn't decipher the point of the film. Maybe that WAS the point. Sure looked purdy, and that's why it's here.

BEST WORST MOVIE: Another great doc, this one a little closer to home since it deals with B-Z-movies, a somewhat specialty of mine. So much love for a film so many people love to hate (or hate to love), its one example of how movies love to tell stories, even bad ones, but the tales told ABOUT making the movie are sometimes better than the film itself, clearly evident here. I've seen TROLL 2 once, in Junior High, and while this movie does me no favors in wanting to endure it again (sorry George), it did remind me of the bad movies we can admit to loving (PULSE & MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE, Im staring at YOU) and why we do. Another gift in my obsession for docs this year.

TRON:LEGACY (Before it's release): The prospects (and early footage) for the sequel TRON made me remember so many great memories of loving film at such a young age, and the wonder they instilled in me to investigate further on the process of making that on-screen magic. I believed, and I loved movies for allowing me that gift. It was movies like TRON, and RAIDERS and STAR WARS (No, not "A New Hope", sorry) and THE EXORCIST (hey I was sick early on) that made me wonder, and that I can say 27, 28 years later that I'm at least trying to harness that same kind of visual mojo is, like Flynn says in LEGACY "Far out man!".
That a piece of childhood nostalgia was coming back and the possibilities kept me going every day of this crazy, creatively challenging year. God, how cool would it be if this movie was cocks-out GREAT, and another movie I'm gonna be proud to show my kid someday. The movie I constructed in my head? Fucking AWE-SOMMMMM! So for the past year I was constant reminded; every sign, billboard, banner ad, trailer, teaser, tie-in toy, movie poster, blog posting, leaked track, video game and otherwise….the chance that this product of a major corporation will remind me again the child-like joy an actual MOVIE brings out in most people; check my career goals & technical/production sensibilities at the door & enjoy it as just a fun ride,maybe see some old friends in the process. This prospect was hopeful and invigorating. Even when bad buzz struck (Reshoots! Bad acting! Script? What script?!), I turned my cheek…hey, AVATAR had bad buzz too. When negative reviews began planting themselves in the cyberspace soil, I ignored them….haters gotta hate, right? I didn't want that hope (and the finished movie in MY head) taken away from me. So maybe I'm giving semi-formal props to Disney's marketing dept, which dolled out the intel and advance look like Dole-Whip at Adventureland; You got me all twisted and creamy for this new movie and what it had to offer. (God, that was bad. My apologies, Walt).

The result I will admit to being middle of the road on; while it made good on some pretty beautiful images in a landscape that felt it was only breezed over (guess I gotta get the games and the comic books huh? You guys are GOOD), the story was so lax and the notion of our current society being so present online, how our "digital selves" weren't even touched upon in the story was VERY disappointing. I mean, guys….they did it in the first one, when noone was "on the grid" or even knew what a firkin' grid was! EVERYONE is online, so why wasn't that in the metadata within the script? Even one moment that made me feel that beyond the broadband there WAS this digital world, another actual dimension that we're unwittingly part of and exploit, I would have been happy. No, we got a hammy, tired "Quest" plot between Fathers, sons and "Holy Ghosts* (in the machine)" with a sprinkling of visual awesomeness, especially in 3-D IMAX. I've seen it twice now and with my expectations more in check the second time,so I enjoyed it the same way I enjoyed the first film; with condolences to the script, I was along for the ride. But for the past few years, with the introduction of the first digital billboard this past January to as far back as the Comic-Con teaser video 3 summers back, the thrill of what TRON could have been and how it could have affected me as a lover of movies and being zapped into another world for 2 or so hours was utterly exciting.

Wow, that was a rant. I think I wrote more about what this movie COULD have been than any of the other films above. I better stop.


NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET ('10): No other movie made me dig my fingernails into my palms till blood was drawn as much as this awful cash-in remake. I wont lie: I like producer Brad Fuller, nice guy (and Im not saying that because I'm directing their remake of PHANTASM*) but how this film, which was touting a fantastic actor (Jackie Earl Haley) as Freddy and boasted one of my favorite music video directors (Sam Bayer) in the driver's seat, fucked up SO badly, is anyone's guess. How much did I loathe this movie? Let me count the ways:
-No story. Just welded-together scenes between bad um…"set-pieces"
-No real rules to keep the audience going. Naps? We're trying to make "Naps" scary? Wow.
-No characters for ANYONE to cheer for or even against. Just body bags.
-Nothing iconic in the visuals, not even a cool transition from real to dream. Hell, doesn't anyone remember LONE STAR??
-No original kills at ALL. Some scenes and even shots were lifted right out of the original, and not in an "homage" sorta way. It was verging on Van Sant's PSYCHO (and not even in a "so bad it's good" way I think he intended).
-No tongue phone. Fuck guys, you lovingly recreated other scenes and shots from the original, but no Freddy Tongue? As they say….a-FAIL.
Nope, Just some nice colors, some sparks and a TERRIBLE rendition of a burn victim that made me want to give him a blanket to curl up with, some salve for his burns, a vicodin for the pain and a turkey sandwich, not fear him. I was supposed to be afraid of this ugly little troll? Even in the original film Krueger at times seemed smallish, but what he lacked in physical presence he made up for in creepiness. This guy was just the same molester from LITTLE CHILDREN if he was burned instead of dick-capitated. Threat-less, which is not Freddy (or at least in the first one) and if they were gonna go with the "Was he wrongfully accused?" then fine, but follow through with it!! What pisses me off more? How some people LIKED this shit-stain of a film over the original and actually defended it. I guess Im just OLD and shaking my cane here, but if THIS was the original version of Freddy Krueger's saga that came out in the 80's, we wouldn't have made it past the first film, and thus, wouldn't have relished in the awesome homoerotica of Part 2, the killer Darabont/Russell infused Part 3, the Cannon Films version with Renny Harlin's 4th installment and so on….the series would have died right there. Here's hoping this one stops any chance of a Part 2 redux, unless its a shot for shot remake of FREDDY'S REVENGE, not-so-subtle subtext,Clu Gulager and all. Ok, I've already spent WAY too much time on this.

SO, that's it, thanks for stopping by and getting to this point. I can't say "It was a great year for movies!" like some nor can I scream "Fuck this year!" like others, mainly because I haven't seen all the films out there. But there was a lot to like, inspire, provoke and enjoy this year and here's to 2011…may it be both another year that pushes the medium forward by the many artists we admire (and a few new ones) and may I be a small part of it with a project or two myself.

Onward with Cinema!

**HOT Ghosts.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

KOB Shot of the Day #89: Stick a Sword in 'er, Santa...

Shot with iPhone, click to enlarge.

...we're closing up shop for the Holidays! The EditCave is taking a much needed break while Santa does his thang and everyone's leaving very positive and excited for the new year and the promise it holds. A very satisfied feeling walking away from the current the current cut, especially with the changes and tweaks we've made over the past two days alone. One thing I haven't yet said, either aloud or in my ever-editing head is..."Wow, its really coming together". Sound, music, that cut that's just right, a few frames here and there, even a temp effect laid in...the smallest choice can leave you either dismayed or satisfied, and Im totally in the latter category. Looking forward to the break, going home to NY to see our East Coast family, eat some good food, conjure up my inner Santa (I do a MEAN Claus) and holy shitdaggers...I might actually relax for a day or two. Perish the thought! My head's been so wired into KoB's circuit board that to actually take a mental sabbatical will do us all some good, especially to get some perspective again. Sometimes you get too close to material and certain choices, even if they aren't the most beneficial; you just see it enough times and it becomes comfortable, even acceptable. Bad position to be in, creatively, to settle, so distancing ourselves, even just a little, will be so welcome for a fresh perspective. when the Fellowship gathers again in the new year, it's time to command and conquer! You've been warned.

Be it Quanza, Hanukkah or Jesus' Birthday, hope everyone has a safe and Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good KNIGHT! (Oh come on, you saw that coming! It's only gonna get worse in '11!)

Holiday Huzzah!

Friday, December 03, 2010

KOB Shot of the Day #88: Polishing our Steel (er, foam)

Shot with iPhone, click to enlarge.

Greetings all,

Im writing this just as Howard, The producers and I are putting the finishing touches on the next cut of KoB and everyone is grinning. It's a gratifying feeling, especially for a Friday so we go into the weekend happy and hopeful, ready for the next steps...and no blood was spilled! (at least not in the edit) ...ALWAYS a good thing.

We JUST inserted a temp "power ballad" into a moment early in the film and we couldn't stop laughing! So funny how some things just "fit", be it a music cue, a sound effect, an FX shot or even just taking out/adding a few frames to a shot...and this was a great finishing edit to go out with so everyone is jazzed. Great to see the film's finer points getting smoothed out and tweaked with the help of producers Mark & Matt (pictured here, weighing in on an edit with their usual grace) who have been in the EditCave for the last few days to get it ready for the next little screening. These intimate viewings are so essential, even if its amongst friends and family, just to continue getting objective opinions on what's working and what's not, so wish us luck in the next few weeks as we slowly test the KoB waters!

Also, our Twitter followers for Kob (@Badassdom_movie) have reached 1,500 strong and as promised, we're giving away a limited edition crew shirt randomly, good luck! We were thinking the next mini-contest would be when we reach another number (2,000? 2500?) we'd release a cool still from the film (which would be the first!)…any interest in that? Might be a fun way to get the word out…and believe me, we got some images that are just burning up the AVID that we want to show! Regardless, Thanks for the support and keep checking in here and on the Twitter feed for more!

Hope you all have a good weekend, Knights!


PS: Thanks to everyone who sent their condolences on KoB not making Sundance….but not to worry, we never submitted it because ITS NOT DONE! There's plenty of other festivals we'll attack when the time is right and the film is ready to show in that capacity, so stay tuned…in the meantime, if you haven't already, follow @Badassdom_Movie for news, updates, contests and more surprises! Huzzah!