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Archive for June, 2008

Blurby bit to follow this

Out of curiosity about my own reaction to Wall-E I decided to test something today. I just finished watching a movie I hadn’t seen before: I am Legend. I went into this knowing human pride and mistakes had caused a disaster. I knew Will Smith was all alone trying to survive. I knew it would be depressing.

And it was, all of that.

But I still thoroughly enjoyed the movie. And I think that’s the difference. I feel like I was lied to about Wall-E. Expectation vs Reality and animated, cute betrayal. I don’t have a problem with negative stories but I want to know up front what I’m getting. That is why I didn’t like Wall-E.

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I’m sad to say that I’m not a fan of this movie. I love what Pixar does and I could pick up most any movie they make and watch it over and over.

But not this one.

I left feeling like I’d been beaten vigorously about the head and shoulders by something large and mostly hurt-y. I think they wanted you to leave feeling happy for Wall-E and uplifted by what happens in the last few moments but it couldn’t overcome the rest of the beat-down suffered on behalf of humanity.

The movie, as a recent email put it, is dark. The basic themes involve humans being stupid, humans being mindless, and humans being cows. A movie made in 1969 is held up as ideal, if oversimplified, humanity. If this wasn’t fun enough toss in overwhelming environmentalism doomsday prophesies and here you have Wall-E.

Why would I pay to see this?

Newspapers, websites and TV are replete with these themes. Who thought it would be fun to pay to see them in Pixar animation too? All stories need conflict and negative ideas in order to show triumph in the end but I think this movie was a little light on the triumph. I wish they’d cut down the negativity and taken the triumph shown in the credits and made that part of the actual movie. I might have a different opinion of the experience if they had.

I can’t fit it into some neat starred rating system but I would say that I likely won’t be recommending the movie.

Followup here

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My husband and I were fortunate enough to get a pass to attend an early test screening of Tropic Thunder last night. We went unsure at how the process worked, much less whether we could get in. But get in we did.

Security at a screening like this isn’t scary but it is tight. The woman screaming that cell phones would not be allowed was not kidding. My husband took ours back to our car but many tucked their phones deeper into pockets and purses and were then invariably sent (temporarily) packing to put them in their cars. “Not recording” is serious business.

We were ushered in more than 1/2 an hour before the showing and accommodations were tight but once you’ve made it past the cell phone Nazi and the 4 (or was it 5?) other people who have to verify your admittance they mostly leave you alone to wait. And in this age where cell phones are the de facto watch for many time stood still. In the bad way. We passed the time mostly by talking over my spec script project and other inanities and watching a mustached man with a legal pad picking various attendees out for extra questions, baffled at his purpose. (We later realized he seemed to be picking out people for on-camera comments.)

At 5 after the appointed time a congenial but business-like bald and be speckled man moved front and center to yell some announcements at us and then it was on with the show.

I wondered, as the lights dimmed, if the credits might be one of the as-yet incomplete parts of the movie and if so if we’d jump right to action or what. I was very confused at the first images I saw. Without trying to spoil anything; just before the movie you will see fake trailers and/or advertisements for the actors being portrayed in the movie. I won’t say more than that but some of them are very funny.

I expected, going into this, to see a caricature of a war movie, presented Ben Stiller-style. I was not remotely prepared for how well they portrayed a war movie. Think of We Were Soldiers, Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers and more. If the gory blood and guts in those movies bother you then be forewarned about Tropic Thunder; you get that level (in a farcical manner usually) and more. In one instance I actually felt sick to my stomach and a couple of times had to look away. The entire audience gasped ‘Eugh’ all together in more than one instance.

Additionally, another warning: just like other war and Hollywood movies the language is very heavy. It fits the scenarios and characters portrayed but it’s crude, offensive and/or vulgar for 80% of the movie.

That’s it for the warnings. Everything else I have to say is glowing. It was a hilarious movie and not always predictable. They really play the audience well at times to wonderful results. I laughed so hard at some of the gags and still smile now thinking of one particular line of jokes. Unfortunately there’s really not much else I can say without giving away gags that should remain unspoiled.

Favorite character? Robert Downey, Jr.’s, hands down. The man not only steals the show, but runs off with it, locks it in a chest and sits on it with a come-and-get-me-‘tude. He piqued my interest with Ironman and now he’s totally hooked me with this role. The guy is a fantastic actor and I’m hopeful we’ll see much much more of him now that he’s straightened out his personal life.

Least favorite character? Jack Black’s. Not to confuse the two I want to say that Jack Black played his role very well. He’s a great comedic actor. I just didn’t like his character. It’s very Rob Schneider on the bad side and he grated on me. It rounded out the mix well and some of his scenes were very funny but overall the character didn’t grab me in the slightest.

Biggest surprise? Tom Cruise. I knew he was in it but I was unprepared for how hilarious he would be. This is not the Tom Cruise you’ve ever seen before and you will love it. When he first came on the screen I hated the character and it took me a few moments of screen time to even realize who it was. But by the end (and I mean complete end) you should be laughing hard at him. He pulled off a brilliant spot.

The movie clocks about 1 hour 45 minutes. I think it’s perfectly paced but there’s still a chance they could change things before the August 18th release. Most of the movie looked completely finished though I noticed a few little coloration issues. Additionally, there is still some sound work to be done but nothing major.

With the caveats about the gore and language, I highly recommend the movie!

Promo “Viral Video” for Tropic Thunder

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Streak Broken?

I finally made it past random notes today and started on a solid outline for the 2nd script. I laid out the entire case progression and at least part of one scene (my favorite). I hope this is an upswing in writing again. The last week in a creative funk has not been fun. It’s a solid start at the least.

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Apparently I was a little too good at distractions over my nice long 4 day break. I managed no work on Script 1, and only notes work on script 2. I did get a new fanfic chapter up, a new Bones episode review completed and the notes completed for the next one. I think part of that 4 day did involve my guest posting on Searchingbones but it’s a bit of a blur now.

A big chunk of time yesterday was committed to the 2nd installment of the podcast I do with a girl from another Bones fansite, The ABY. We have a blast.

It sounds like so much but it feels like so little.

I was definitely completely distracted almost the entire evening last night rediscovering photoshop. I tend to pull it out, learn so much, then forget about it for 6 months or more. Then the cycle of wailing and gnashing of teeth recommences. I wanted a new signature for my forum access on the ABY and here, in the 3rd attempt, is what I’m now using.

My previous 2 attempts:

That distraction may yet continue for awhile…I really want to play with image layering next.

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My brain has been utterly consumed with writing of late, so much so that I literally have not had a song get stuck in my head on sometime. As my first spec script nears First Draft completion I am left with the ‘hard’ parts that make me want to run screaming to any willing distraction. So, today I went hunting for music.

Guys and Dolls happens to be one of my favorite movies of all time. I love musics in general – Sound of Music, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and more – but this one never gets old. I enjoy most every song and even as I sit here I find it hard to chose a favorite. But I will chose a Favorite-of-the-Moment, at the least.

…or two…

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Mail Call

I received two (mostly) pointless mails today. Despite their fundamental uselessness both had high ‘neat’ factors.

The first was an email. I saw the handy little mail pop-up showing me that I had mail from the festival to which I submitted my pilot script. I swear I think my heart stopped. Rationally, I knew it was too early for any positive notification but rationally didn’t exactly kick in quickly. “Could they want more info?” pushed heartily to the front of the line. I stared at the box for what seemed like an eternity. Confirmation of submission and a cheery Thank You aren’t nearly as mind blowing, but still…neat.

The second was good old fashioned mail mail. I had no heart stopping trepidation when staring at this one. It was another submission confirmation, this time of my script registration with the WGAw.

Both these mails are confirmation of something important that goes beyond this one contest submission. I have a dream. I want to write. And I’m reaching for it.

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