Friday, May 30, 2003
Johhn...I think I'd know better than you how to spell your name....it's a Navajo word meaning "with an H". Just playing, yo. Although I am purple with rage that you got to dog the new Matrix movie before I could. I'm now adding more swears and cartoon interjections per sentence to my review to at least make my johnny-come-lately effort at the very least johnny-come-sweary. Believe me, when I'm done with the new sound/music for Sold's festival release (end of June) it will be everywhere. I'm planning on putting out an SIU years DVD very soon including all my Super 8s, Shadow Show, and the original and festival version of Sold. I'll keep you posted.
Wednesday, May 28, 2003
The moment most of you have been waiting for. Of course, by that, I mean no one. Thank you for reading.
The Matrix Reloaded
Review by Jon Waterman
Normally this is where I recount the story line to a certain extent. I do this so you, the reader, can get a feel of what the movie is about and if it is the type of movie you might want to see. I’m not going to do that this time. For one, if you don’t know what the movie is, you obviously have done a wonderful job avoiding every single media outlet for the past few months. You should get out more. The other reason is…I don’t really know much about the story myself (even though I saw the movie), other than good versus evil in a super-fancy complex sci-fi parallel dimension thingy. The rest is just details.
This is where I announce to the world that I am no fan of “The Matrix.” Sure, I enjoy science fiction. I just didn’t really care that much about it. I appreciate what the first one did as far as movie making is concerned – that is until it was over-used and parodied to the point of groans and boredom. Groans and boredom explains my reaction to the first one. So, I expected nothing incredibly fantastic this time around. My expectations were lower than the basement. After seeing the film, I can say I’m back up to the lobby for the third.
What this second installment lacks in ground-breaking visual effects (although most of them are much cleaner and crisper than previously seen), it makes up for in decent story telling. The dialogue and such may not be exactly memorable, but the hardcore fans should be able to appreciate the advancement of the story and all the new introductions given and expansions made to the various aspects of the complex universe that the Wachowski brothers (writers/directors) have created. It did seem to me like they were trying a little bit too hard to be enigmatic and philosophical with us, when really the audience is right on top of things the whole time…or at least I was.
Here’s the thing, though. You have to have seen the first movie; otherwise you’d be totally lost. Films that assume you know everything about the first one never have won points with me before. I enjoy stand alones where seeing the previous parts enhance the viewing, but are not considered homework.
The story and script may be okay, but the Wachowski’s have some work to do with their directing skills. There are tons and tons of cuts during the action scenes, but when we come across two people talking to each other we are subjected to a template. Nearly every time someone is speaking, we see a tight close-up that cuts off the top of their head. This type of framing is usually reserved for television, because it makes the faces more life size when they appear on the screen. On this large size, not only did I get bored with such little shot variation that I might as well have tried to count the nose hairs I could easily see, but I wondered what the point of these looming towering faces was supposed to be. I was even more confused to see the trend continue on the long shots. We hardly ever see the top of a characters head in the whole film. Perhaps the concluding chapter will reveal some mysterious secret like they all wear dumb hats or something. Whatever the reasoning, it was awkward to watch and took me out of the film.
The acting is still piss poor. Led by Keanu Reeves as Ted “Theodore” Logan as Neo (an anagram for “one” – as in chosen one – clever, guys!), one should not expect top-notch quality. However, it wasn’t as bothersome this time around, because it was expected and thus seemed more deliberate. It was as if they were covering up their shoddy acting directing from the first film and saying, “Hey, yeah…we meant for them to pause after every word. See?” Have them talk faster and we could have left 15 minutes earlier.
Let the credits roll faster or make the font smaller and we could have left 15 minutes earlier after waiting around for the ho-hum trailer for the final film.
Cut out at least half the rave stuff and half of some of the action sequences and we could have left 15 minutes earlier, because really…we get the point. You have money. Fighting = cool. Next.
The film dragged. I don’t like the acting. I don’t remember the story, even though it may have been the best part. Yet I can still easily say that I had a good time. I was expecting pure drivel and I only received some drivel. I won’t be any more anxious to see how it ends, but I’ll make sure I go (if only to tell you not to).
Mike...all I ask is that you spell my name right. Also, I would gladly trade you the cash equivalent of my soul (say $1.50 US) for a copy of "Sold." Take it or whatever. Love, JON (no H)
Friday, May 23, 2003
John...Believe me, I'm not a stranger to shaddy marketing tactics by the industry when hording my hard earned leisure dollars are concerned. Punch Drunk Love on Superbit? Yeah, now I can see the sunspots and Hypnovision colors with hitherto unknown clarity! Oh yeah and alll the muddy interior shots too? It's like releasing a SuperBit of Full Frontal! With all this releasing muddy looking films on SuperBit, there must be huge money in the irony. Maybe they should worry about releasing an UNCOMPRESSED commercial vidoe format for home video instead of making all this vertical progress with SuperBit and D-VHS and other ass pain.
By the way, I've found a rival film reviewer that I've come to love more than any I've ever read. Move over Bazin, here's Doug Benson...http://www.bobanddavid.com/section_movies.html....check it out.
And watch out for new versions of my SIUC films now available on MediaOrb....a new format that requires buyers to figure out a 3D geometric puzzle after which the movie can be seen by sticking your head inside the puzzle. 40 gigs/minute of film, with quality only recognizable to those who can read binary code with their naked eyes. Requires adapters, PAL only. Retail: More than you're worth (personally, not financially)
I'm not exactly sure what the big push is to put more artsy fare out on SuperBit all of a sudden. In a sense, I would sort of like to see two editions of Punch-Drunk Love. The first being the SuperBit (non-deluxe) and the second being the special edition with a possibility for an audio commentary or two. SuperBits will never include commentaries (another reason why I'm hoping for a special edition of Adaptation later on). PTA did do a good thing by consolidating releases, I just wish mulitple options would show up on the shelf at the same time. It'll never happen, but it's a nice thought.
I wondered about the SuperBit release myself. Why Adaptation? Lance Accords cinematography was nice, and I'm sure the sound editing was pretty damn good, but c'mon, do we really need this film as a SuperBit title? Punch-Drunk Love will be released SuperBit as well, but thankfully there will be a second disk with the extra material, and Paul Thomas Anderson was nice enough to push back the initial release so that the Special Edition would be the only release, instead of a bare bones followed by a SE.
Wednesday, May 21, 2003
Mike. Let me tell you a little something about the world of DVDs. If you see a relatively bare bones edition of a movie that was popular and/or a critical success, then you can easily expect a more comprehensive version to follow a few short months later. It's what we like to call "milking the public for everything they've got."
Not only is Columbia/Tri-Star releasing it as a SuperBit title, but they're doing it in a way that goes against what the namesake stands for. They've included a trailer with the release. What happened to devoting every available "bit" to the video and audio quality? Hmmmm.... Don't get me wrong. I'm all for high-quality, but give the lower-end consumers that can't tell (like Mike and myself) another option from the get-go. It's only fair, people.
Hold out on buying this one. I sense a redo in it's future. An "adaptation" if you will.....ok...I'll stop now.
Adaptation on SuperBit? Do you mean to tell me you're going to slight me of all of my quirky Spike Jonez extras like "Inside the Creative Process" shorts and other in-joke extras to give me the extra clarity in pix and sound that I can't even detect on my regular ass TV. Jesus haters all!
Tuesday, May 20, 2003
Because you asked for it!
X2: X-Men United
Review by Jon Waterman
The mutants are back and ready for more action. The normals still don’t understand the abnormals. One non-mutant in particular, William Stryker, is hell-bent on destroying every last mutant on the face of the earth. It’s up to the same cast of characters (along with a couple of fresh – and deformed – faces) to work together and maybe save the day…if they’re lucky.
If you are an established fan of the comic series, this movie will be nothing but thrills and excitement and “I can’t wait for the next one, because I already kinda know what the plot line will sorta be and it’ll be cool!” If you’re like me, and you never read an issue. You’ll be entertained. You’ll sit there and admire the action sequences and the (actually) really good work with the special effects. You’ll take it as a reasonably acceptable action flick. However, you will also notice how long you’ve been sitting there and you’ll start checking your watch for the last 45 minutes or so of the 2 and a half hour running time.
Other things I noticed. The best acting came from the new characters, Stryker (the nearly always incredible Brian Cox) and Nightcrawler (the nearly always incredible Alan Cumming). Nightcrawler is by far the best character in the film. He’s funny and the most fun to watch and isn’t used nearly enough. I found myself not caring one bit about the Wolverine back story that dragged the movie down considerably, but wanted to see everything about Nightcrawler’s origin.
Speaking of mutants. There were a lot of points in the film where we cut away to some tiny scene or there was a little dialogue build up that was created just to show off the mutant powers of a certain character. I know it’s to be expected, but it was done way to frequently for a cheap laugh, and I didn’t find it humorous at all. If you’re going to include such things, show us new characters and new powers from more of the hundreds of kids at the academy. Don’t show me the ice guy freezing another thing. That’s boring. The movie was just showing off its budget.
As far as the story goes, like I said. It was bogged down with too much fluff and pointless backstory that did nothing to further develop the intentions of the characters or move along the main narrative. I found it very tiresome. The main story line was okay. By that, I mean I didn’t notice any major holes in it, nor did I laugh at anything I wasn’t supposed to laugh at. It was all the supplemental stuff that made me care less.
Most of you are familiar with everything associated with this movie, because most of you saw the first one. However, if you did not see “X1,” don’t think you need to avoid numero dos. Are there other things you should probably see instead? It depends. If you’re out looking for a mind-enriching experience: yes. If you want a lot of action with a decent storyline: maybe not.
Friday, May 16, 2003
Filmbrats.com is now hosted with DreamHost
and I am pumped about that.
Monday, May 12, 2003
Now that summer is here, my production level should increase significantly. Take that Meyer!!!
Head of State
Review by Jon Waterman
The Democratic presidential candidate was killed in a plane crash, so now the party is scrambling to find a replacement. But they want someone who will fail horribly. Thus, they pick (insert drum roll here) a low-ranking black politician.
Obviously, this must be a comedy. It’s preposterous that anyone would ever vote for a black man unless he saved the world [please note the sarcasm]. This ought to be good. Mix that wacky scenario with the comedic virtuoso that is Chris Rock [please note the semi-sarcasm] in the lead. This ought to be brilliant. Oh, how wrong I was.
Don’t get me wrong. I laughed. Occasionally. I’m sorry, but I just don’t think that having white people do “black” things and vice-versa is all that funny. Luckily, that’s not the only convention (no pun intended) this film drew upon. Not only does he repeat jokes, but he drags them out incredibly long even though we know the punchline is coming. This movie is your typical fish-out-of-water-changes-the-look-of-the-land scenario. The campaign turns into a hip-hop filled bling-fest. Chris is here to “Rock” the White Hizouse. Simply put – not funny.
Let me tell you something. Don’t buy the “Head of State” soundtrack. All you’ll get is one track by Nelly and one track by Jay-Z over and over and over again. In the film, you are forced to listen to the lack of variety, so don’t subject yourself to the same at home or in your car.
Now, when I was watching this, I was thinking that Rock was fulfilling some kind of contract obligation. Then I found out he not only co-wrote this garbage (with Ali LeRoi, “The Chris Rock Show”), but he directed it, too! Oh. My. God. How does this stuff happen? All I can say is leave it to the professionals.
What was good about the movie? Tracy Morgan and Bernie Mac. That’s about it. Talent was brought from the stage to the screen in these two performers. Sometimes I question why Rock is still popular. His stand up is good. I have not seen it translate into a successful turn in a film yet. Plain and simple: He can’t act. Evidently, he can’t write scripts or direct either. He knows talented comedians. He casts them in small roles. He makes mistakes by doing that.
“Head of State” tries to throw in some social commentary along with the “humor.” Valid points are made about some of the things that could be fixed in the country. However, any poignancy is lost with bad jokes and lack of repeating these messages. If you’re looking for a genuinely funny movie that executes everything better, then rent “Bulworth.”