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Monday, March 30, 2009

The Doomsday Machine: Episode 3

Those of us who have a passion for movies have fond memories of going to the theater. Our generation was especially lucky going to see the Hollywood epics of he late 70's and early 80's. 'Star Wars', 'Superman', 'E.T.'and 'Back to the Future' were all grand experiences that we will always remember. The inventions of home video and cable TV were something also near and dear to us growing up because it gave us convenience and allowed us to see more movies in their true original state than we ever would have imagined. It did, however, signal the beginning of something we may be losing today, now, more than ever...the theater experience. That is not to say that we don't enjoy going to the theater anymore, but now that we (most of us anyway) have grown up a little, sometimes it's easier just to punch something up on demand than it is to drive across the street to see a movie. Now we all have our iPods, or other personal media players which allow us to watch (albeit in high quality) video that's only on a 3.5 inch screen. If something is going to make my life easier, I'm usually behind it, but in this case I have mixed feelings. I like the idea of physically being able to carry something around with me that will allow me to watch something whenever I want, but I'm only going to limit that to material that I am very familiar with and 99 times out of 100 it's only going to be the equivalent to an SNL skit or at most, a 30 minute sitcom that I've seen a hundred times. I've tried to watch an hour long TV drama on my iPhone and I can safely say I will never do it again, let alone an entire movie. You can't see shit on a 3.5” screen, no matter how much you think you got out of it, you missed something. This episode leads off with the YouTube clip of David Lynch giving this very opinion.

this clip takes me back to working in the theater.....those were the days

Enjoy the show.

R.I.P. Maurice Jarre

On Sunday March 29th composer Maurice Jarre died of Cancer. His name may not be familer, but his work defiantly is. He is a three time Academy Award winner and was nominated for another six. Jarre worked closely with David Lean and Peter Weir and it resulted in his best work. He won his first Oscar for David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia and I personally think it is his masterpiece. Lawrence Of Arabia is probably my favorite film of all time, and Jarre's score is a big reason for my affection. I think the music is a character in itself and arguably one of the best film scores in movie history.
Maurice Jarre has composed over a 150 film scores. Here are some highlights.
Lawrence Of Arabia
Doctor Zhivago
The Life And Times Of Judge Roy Bean
Ryan's Daughter
The Man Who Would Be King
The Year Of Living Dangerously
Top Secret!
A Passage To India
Enemy Mine (That's Right!)
The Mosquito Coast
Fatal Attraction
Dead Poets Society

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Troll 2

Okay, I know what your thinking. Why would a bad horror film and a sequel none-the-less be on a film snob blog(say that three times fast)? We all appreciate the art of great film making, but people who really love watching movies can appreciate films so god awful that they become enjoyable because of it.

Now, I haven't seen Troll, but from what I've read Troll 2 has nothing to do with the first movie. As a matter of fact, it has nothing to do with trolls. Troll 2 is about goblins. If there is some connection between trolls and goblins that discussion is for some other nerd blog. The point here is Troll 2 is full of bad movie gold. Apparently this movie is ranked the #1 worst movie on imdb. Now you have to see it. How can you not see the worst movie of all time?

If you need more reasons to see this movie I'll give you a few highlights to wet your appetite. The basic premise is a town called Nilbog is full of vegetarian goblins who must turn people into a green veggie mush (by making them eat things with green paste on it) before they can safely eat them. Our hero, a sweaty constipated young boy, talks to his dead grandfather and tends to "piss on hospitality." His older sister wants nothing more than to loose her virginity, but her boyfriend is a idiot. The only thing that can save them is a double decker bologna sandwich.

This movie is meant to be seen with a group of friends. Buy some beer, make some bologna sandwiches and enjoy the laughs.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Doomsday Machine: Episode 2

In this episode we talk about some of our favorite Paul Newman films. I was going to put up the Stanley Kubrick discussion since the anniversary of his death was only a couple of weeks ago, but I felt it better to roughly keep the conversations in the order that we recorded them, so the Kubrick conversation will be a few episodes down the road. After listening to this one I feel the need to see ‘Hud’ again as it has been about 17 years since I last watched it, and it is an obvious favorite of our forum. We talk a lot about ‘The Color of Money’ which I should probably watch again too. I love the movie, but it was never one of my faves growing up. For me, it still doesn’t get any better than ‘The Hustler.’ Rarely do you see a story like this with such strong characterization today, let alone 1961. Not to mention the pool of talent (no pun intended) featured this movie. It’s a true classic that I can’t stop watching. Enjoy the discussion and feel free to add any thoughts.

I'm still trying to figure out the itunes thing, i think it should be up there within the next day.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The perfect animated feature for me

I was never a normal kid, which should not surprise anyone that knows me. One way I was not like like other kids is that I was never really thought animation features were that great. Not just oldies, like Pinocchio, but also those of my childhood, like Secret of NIMH, and anything since, especially Disney films. Sure I watched them all, who didn't, but nothing every really struck anything inside me.

Maybe it was the subject matter. I was a bit precocious as a young film viewer. I remember wanting to go see "One Dark Night" with my mom when my sister went to see "E.T" and watching "Full Metal Jacket" with my dad when I was 12 and loving it. I guess I was just never really into subject matter geared towards kids. Anime, a la Ghost in the Shell, Akira, etc. really did not appeal to me either.

Sure it is all watchable, most of it anyway, but nothing ever really compelled me as much as live action.

That changed several years ago however, I happened to watch a film on a whim, not thinking I would like it. Fortunately, however, it turned out to be one of the best films (not just animated) I've ever seen.

That film is the 2003 French film "Les Triplettes de Belleville" aka "The Triplets of Belleville"

It has many aspects we have seen in many animated films, unconditional love, childhood dreams realized, musical numbers, comedy, adventure, athletic competitions, car chases, etc. All that crossed with darker themes such as kidnapping, human trafficking, murder, prostitution, and shootouts. You even get an insight to what dogs may dream about.

All of these themes are combined with wonderful visuals and artistic style representing France in the mid to late sixties. Very cartoonish (no pun intended) body types and facial features, a charming soundtrack, and odd or quirky body language of the characters remind you that, despite the dark subject matter, you are still supposed to be having fun.

The best part, and I've saved this for last, there is no tangible dialogue. And it does not matter. For 78 minutes, the director's vision keeps you interested and entertained without it. I would think most modern filmmakers would be hard pressed to make a film as compelling if given this requirement. How many would even try? I give Sylvain Chomet the utmost respect for what he has created. I do not use the term masterpiece very often to define a film, but for me this is one. I eagerly await Chomet's next feature, "The Illusionist". It is based on an unproduced script by Jacques Tati (who is obviously a great influence to Chomet), and will feature an animated version of Tati.


Monday, March 9, 2009

Cody's Film Review: The Watchmen

I always had serious doubts that The Watchmen Graphic Novel could ever be made into a movie. I never thought the story or subject matter was hard to translate, it was the sheer bulk and almost limitlessness character information the book held. The only way I thought the transfer from book to film could be done was by a two part film or even better a seven part HBO mini-series. I think Zack Snyder has done a more than decent job of converting a 12 part comic book into a two hour and forty five minute film. I even thought the different ending worked well and probably makes more sense to use in the film than the Graphic Novel ending. There are still many missing pieces, but give the guy a break he still made one of the truest adaptations from book to film form ever. That being said Snyder didn't make a great film, but he did make a good one.
I will begin with what I did like about The Watchmen. I thought the casting was great. The idea of no big stars was a smart move and made the film affordable to make. Patrick Wilson (Nite Owl) and Jackie Earle Haley (Rorschach) give the best performances in the entire movie. It could be that I love them as a team in the book and they transcended the characters to film perfectly. Nite Owl is the one person caught in the middle. He wants to help Rorschach, but is also scared to get too involved with his old life. Of all of the Watchmen he is the one truly good person, and Patrick Wilson plays the part perfectly. Jackie Earle Haley I think had the hardest character to adapt from the book. Not only does Haley look the part, but he pulls off the uncompromising Rorschach to a tee. His dialog, voice, and actions don't come off as corny or too comic bookish. He is very convincing and deserves as much praise as Heath Ledger got as the Joker. Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Comedian is dead on, and I was glad that he was allowed to play the part as the murderous bastard the Comedian really is. Billy Crudup also shines as the detached Dr.Manhattan. It's not a real glamorous role, but the subtleties of his character are very important to the story. As a viewer you are never bored by
Dr. Manhattan and his origin scene was probably my favorite part of the film. I think Malin Akerman (Silk Spectre) and Matthew Goode (Ozymandias) do a good job, but they suffer because their characters origins were the most cut. I never thought they had the strongest personalities in the book.The film had to cut somewhere and this is where you see it, and I think their performance is affected because of it. I also thought they were both a little too young, when everyone else looked middle-aged. I praise Zack Snyder for not pulling any punches on the sex and violence, but I must condemn him on his horrible choice of music. The sex scene with Leonard Cohen blaring in the back ground is ridiculous and laughable. Using Simon & Garfunkel, Hendrix, and Ride of the Valkyries is tired and just plain stupid. The only time the music works is during two of my favorite scenes. The first is Times They Are a Changing by Bob Dylan during the opening credits is a over used song, but it works with the subject matter. The second is Phillip Glass Powaqqatsi score over Dr.Manhattan's origin. I also thought they should have cut out any scene with Nixon, Kissinger, or any other real person. It just looked bad and seemed more like a bunch of bad impressions with horrible make-up. The way around this would have been to show them on television giving speeches, instead of showing us bad acting in cheap War Room rip off sets. I had a problem with some of the action style, the slow motion then fast motion ramping is a little tired and will date the movie. It doesn't bother me too bad because this is a comic book film and at least I can see the action unlike most shaky-cam action films nowadays. Overall a good film that just puts too much information in a small alloted time and it still has a lot of holes. 3.5 out of 5 stars

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Doomsday Machine: Episode 1

I am pleased to announce the launch of the film-snobbery podcast. "The Doomsday Machine" can now be found on iTunes as well as the podcast website ( This first episode features myself, Cody, Jerf, EJ, and Fickel discussing Jerf's top ten films of 2008. Enjoy.

10 Year Anniversary Of A World Without Stanley Kubrick.

Today is the 10th anniversary of the death of the best filmmaker in movie history. Stanley Kubrick is the one true genius of cinema. Everyone of his films are original, smart and bare his distinct mark. Even Kubrick's conventional films turn into his vision that no other filmmaker could possibly imagine. Stanley Kubrick was groundbreaking technically, visually, and with his subject matter. He wanted his audience to think and for this reason most of his films took time to be appreciated by general audiences. We are lucky to have had such a man in the film industry for so long and it is unfortunate that he died at the age of 70 still way ahead of his contemporaries. It would have been great to see what he could have done with another 10 years with today's technology.

These pictures are from Dr.Strangelove, my favorite Stanley Kubrick film. What's yours?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Film Picture of the Week: Friday The 13th Part 1

This is a shot of the Alternate ending of Friday The 13th. In the Alternate ending Jason pops out of the water and ask Alice out to dinner. She accepts and the first six months are glorious, but then he puts a knife through her temple.