CALLED IT

CALLED IT

Watch the link before the post, please?

THE OSCARS: Gotta say I predicted about 90% of them, then again, they’re not that hard. I was surprised by Cristophe Waltz (but not disappointed). I really though Tommy Lee Jones had it in the bag. The ones that DID upset me was the ever popular snub of Ben Affleck for director (c’mon even MacFarlane pointed it out). the other was Skyfall not winning cinematography. I’m sure Life of Pi was gorgeous (didn’t see it), but MY GOD was Skyfall GREAT for its cinematography :P . The rest I may not agree with, but I do understand them all, which I can’t say for every year.

I wish i could’ve WATCHED it, but I didn’t have access, but i could follow teh awards and saw a post on the key jokes of the show. I REALLY want to see a video of the Les Mis cast singing one day more, LOVE that song. I’ve not seen it, but from some of the jokes, I liked MacFarlane, he was a bit coarse as you’d expect, but I like that. THERE obligatory Oscars commentary. :)

Never Met a Stranger

My momma always said: “Wherever you went, you never met a stranger” (there, got the Forrest Gump reference out of my head and potentially yours). She was absolutely right in this statement, I often strike up conversations with random people I meet, no matter where I am. I love to have someone to talk to, some of my friends I’m sure would claim I like having someone to talk AT, but i assure you that is not the case. (talking a lot doesn’t mean i don’t want return talking as well).My favorite example of this trait in me: When I was I think 9, I met a boy on the beach of a small Florida town, about 2 years later, I met him again. We both had relatives in the town (it’s heavily older retired folks) but I met a random kid, and years later we ran into each other again AND recognized each other. ANYWAYS, this article is to those strangers I have met here in NZ, and the fun I had with them. I admit, I don’t remember most of their names, comes from chatting for less than an hour and not being strong with names.

First is the one I saw on a semi-regular basis, so I guess she doesn’t count, but it’s my blog so I’ll talk about her: Teresa. Teresa is another intern in the Globalinks program in Wellington. However, her program is very different than mine. First off: she arrived in the country 2 weeks before the rest of us and didn’t have an orientation weekend. I really don’t envy her for that, but there is a method to her madness. This past week, she left for Australia to do a term in a University there, so she had to arrive early to get in 6 weeks before school picked back up. Ok, enough stalker-ish info.¬† I don’t know if the two of us would have ordinarily been friends, but that’s part of making friends with strangers. More importantly, we were both Americans. It’s just really nice to being able to quickly relate on background, current situation, etc. So we hung out from time to time, grabbing meals, went to the zoo, little things. Teresa was sadly my only consistent friend thus far, guess I need to promote one of my acquaintances. Have fun in Australia, the land where everything can kill you!

Next “friends” of note are Katja and Steffi, from Cologne, Germany. I only met them this past weekend on a bus ride north to Whangarei. I admit, I’m surprised that my ice-breaker actually gave them reason to chat with me, I recognized that they were conversing in German, and said so (clever, right?). The three of us chatted on the 2-3 hours on the bus to our stop. Conveniently they were staying at the same hostel as me that night, so I continued to hang out with them for the remainder of the day. They are quite lovely, and I enjoyed their company. We didn’t have a terrible amount of common ground, so much of our conversations was back story and talking about New Zealand. Their English was impressive, they could keep up with me even at my ridiculous speaking pace :P . Steffi said she enjoyed the practice/challenge and appreciated that I didn’t overly simplify my vocabulary for them (slightly degrading I’d imagine). I gotta say, Europeans amaze me with their knowledge of the English language, it’s really easy to forget that they don’t speak it normally, though with Steffi and Katja it was easier to remember because they still spoke to each other in German. Trip is just starting for you two, so I hope it continues to be amazing!

NEXT! ACTORS! I only did one week of work on the set with Martin Square, but in that time i was able to make friends with a few of the actors, Ben and Charley. Charley is one of the MANY street performers in Wellington, his weapon of choice is beatboxing, particularly dubstep. Ben, not sure what he does, but he too loves making movies. He even tried to get my most recent script off me to get it made with him and his friends in Auckland. I politely declined, I want to shoot “Stuffed Giraffe” myself. I fear I’m becoming one of those guys who doesn’t want to trust another director with his scripts. I connected with them both (separately) mostly over a mutual love of movies. That seems to be my standard way to bond these days, group ranting about movies. It’s so easy for me, and SO many people love movies that it’s often a good choice. I say that, but then I instantly think how it’s kinda funny that all my friends at TU really AREN’T movie people (Joey and Lydia, my movie pals, aren’t AT TU at this point). Boys! keep making awesome movies!

In the same vein, but different location, is Chris. I met Chris while killing time in Martinborough (small wine town) while waiting for my bus. Chris is from England, I feel like I’ve met a lot of transplanted Brits here. He’s in acting school, talking with him was so simple, able to (once again) ramble on about movies. However, there was a nice change of pace: not only did he ramble back, but with the same amount of passion for the art, not just the entertainment. He recommended I watch Human Traffic, a British movie I’ve never heard of, but I trust his taste enough to give it a try. See you at the Oscars sir!

Now i get into the short mentions of those that didn’t stick quite as thoroughly in my mind. My two friends from my Poor Knights Island dives (I can’t believe i can’t remember their names since it was only yesterday since I last saw them). One (a lady) is from San Diego, but has lived in this part of the world for about 18 months. The other (a guy) is from Denmark, he said that he’s soon going to Asia. Once again we chatted about movies and background, and of course: diving. Next is the couple i met in a Japanese restaurant¬† on Valentine’s Day, we talked mostly about the sights in both NZ and the US. I hope i didn’t spoil their dinner together, but they insisted it was a pleasure to chat. Last one that sticks out in my mind are Zach and Sami (sorry about spelling). I also met them on Valentine’s Day, but instead this was when i was returning to my flat. We chatted for about 5 minutes, starting with me pointing out how his shoe was untied at a crosswalk. Once again, film was my ally, they are Journalism students, avid film people too.

The nice thing about meeting strangers is I can have the same conversation topics with little trouble. Telling stories and talking about movies are the easiest topics for me, for them to always be fresh conversation is great. In NZ it’s even easier, everyone starts by asking where I’m from and what do I do back in the states. It’s great to have a pal to just pass the time with. Don’t be afraid to say hi to people on the street, how bad can it be if they don’t want to talk? With that I’m off. Hasta Luego!

Why all the Hate?

First off: gotta say I’m SICK of all the spam i’m getting here. SO MUCH SPAM, it’s rather annoying :P

ANYWAYS, I’m referring to Phantom of the Opera from 2004. Reviews hate it and often cite it as an example of a bad movie musical…I don’t get why. I think it’s not that bad. No it’s not perfect, but not HORRIBLE. I’m very open to legitimate criticisms of why it sucks, never really heard one. I don’t want to hear why you don’t like it, you’re entitled to not like stuff.

Story: They took it verbatim from Webber’s musical, which seems to to be the source of much hate upon the film. I don’t think that’s really fair if you ask me. It’s like damning all screen adaptations of Hamlet because you didn’t like reading in high school. I mean C’MON who doesn’t know this story?…oh you don’t? sorry, I’ll explain for your sake. Phantom in short is the story a madman who lives in a French opera house falling in love with the voice of the new star: Christine. He opts to steal her away from her recently returned love, Raul. Christine is torn between love for Raul, and the passion and darkness of the Phantom. Chaos ensues. It’s nothing special the story. I just love the music.

Acting: or should i say SINGING: (we’ll combine sound into this one) This is the only Andrew Lloyd Webber musical I really enjoy, the rest are…eh for me. I don’t see why people hate the music of it, some people do. Emmy Rossum is kinda wispy, but that works for her malleable character, she’s a far cry better than Sarah Brightman (who I maintain doesn’t sing so much as shriek). Now, I would have preferred their original casting for her: Anne Hathaway, who has demonstrated this year that she is both a fantastic actress and amazing singer, but alas she got roped into a Princess Diaries sequel, ah well. Patrick Wilson plays Raul…I can see why people don’t like him. He’s pretty lame in all I’ve seen him in, but he’s not BAD. Minne Driver, she plays the part beautifully, it’s just that her part is that of a shrill, GOD AWFUL soprano, but that’s the writer’s fault, not hers. And finally Gerard Butler as the Phantom. Ok I don’t care what everyone else thinks about him. Gerard Butler is a very sexy man, and he has a great voice, and he’s a decent actor too. He’s a bit too pretty, even with scarring makeup, he was still the prettier guy in the end (ask any woman who likes the movie, they all say the same thing).

Visual: It’s very pretty and colorful. The sets and costumes are all appropriate for the flamboyant and decadent style of the musical. The rest of it…is really forgettable. The camerawork doesn’t do much, there aren’t any big effects. it’s really all about the music.

OVERALL: The movie’s major flaw is it played it too safe. It made as literal a translation as humanly possible. That doesn’t always work out well, some things need to be adjusted. It really wasn’t special and didn’t do anything new, DOESN’T MEAN IT’S BAD. I really enjoy it, but i prefer the music alone. The musical does drag a bit in the middle, but that’s not the movie’s fault, i think the movie’s middle is more bearable than the stage adaptations I’ve seen. People don’t like the musical? that’s fine, i totally get it, just a shame that the movie gets smashed for it. Without the source material…It wouldn’t be great, but it wouldn’t be garbage either, at least i don’t think it would e.

POST SCRIPT: I thought of a reason why Les Mis (the new movie) bugs me. They did the “live singing” to capture the emotion of the actors. My issue with that is that it insinuates that you can’t convey the same level of emotion through singing alone. THAT IS TOTAL NONSENSE. There is immense power in music, it doesn’t need to be marred for the sake of “stronger emotion”. If you did it right, the emotion will be in the music. Plus shooting live means long and really boring shots, that is something i can’t abide.

come to think of it, Phantom of the Opera really was emotionally dead, I didn’t really feel much emotion from most of them beyond their fixed tones (i see Butler as the exception). I still like Phantom, even if it’s not great. ah well. CYA LATER

 

Week 1

So this post is REALLY overdue, since week one ended almost two weeks ago.

DAY ONE: Tuesday, we had Monday off since it was a holiday. I get to the office, nervous but excited (I didn’t sing the song though). It didn’t start well, Started by mistaking the Director for my boss, not the best foot to land on. Inside I meet my boss, Jeff, for about 30 seconds, he quickly sends me upstairs to meet Sadie, The production manager. Well Sadie isn’t here, so i sit myself down and wait. About half an hour later one of the other editors invites me to sit in on an editing session, spent about an hour with them. They were nice, still chat with them when they’re around, but I made a point to stay out of their way. After that I go upstairs to find people in a rush. My first chore is to go to the equivalent of Office Max, which was a few blocks away, and print some pictures. I’d like to point out I’d been in the city…5 days? So I had NO idea where this place was. Lucky me i was given a crude map of where to go and found it with little problem. When I got back to the office, everyone was gone. Once again i turn to my map, the location was really close but in a University…easier said than done to find a specific place in a university when you don’t have specific directions. I wasn’t dressed to be running about on a hot summer’s day. I was told to wear business casual, in the US that’s a polo and slacks. Apparently in NZ that’s dressy, business casual is a t-shirt and shorts, i took to that nicely. So I find them, I spend the majority of the afternoon being the extra muscle, moving boxes and tables, fun stuff. After “lunch” which served at 5 in the evening, I was assigned to work with Byron, the Gaffer (that’s the guy who’s in charge of lights). Very quickly he was asking for tools, between his accent and not knowing lighting tools beyond the basic led me to be VERY lost. He was awesome though, he was very easy with me, even took about 5 minutes to just walk me around his truck and give me a crash course what everything was and where they were kept. For me the day ended about 8, for everyone else, I hear it went to about 1 in the morning. They didn’t want to torture the intern, or so they said. Well i was exhausted after my first day, but by the end of it I was having a good time.

DAY TWO: I met up with the crew about 10 in the morning at the office for transportation, today we were shooting in a house. From here til the end of the week i was the essentially the best boy (the guy who helps the gaffer). From time to time i would do other tasks for the crew, but My main responsibility was to help Byron. Starting this day i started working a lot for Ants, who was in charge of unit. Unit is the group that makes sure there is coffee, water, and munchies for the cast and crew. This job is not as simple as you’d think and there are sacred rules that one should NEVER break. for example, NEVER go through the unit boxes, it’s tantamount to breaking and entering to them. I learned some very interesting info about the shoot that day too,only one of the people i was working with were part of Martin Square. They’re all freelancers working for Red Sky productions (company owned by the director). This day was fairly simple, watch the stuff, and occasionally fetch some equipment from the truck.

DAY THREE & FOUR: I put these together since they were essentially the same, we were shooting in a lecture hall at a local hospital. I was never allowed on set, so i sat in the lobby with the sacred duty of making sure that the gear never went walkabout. These 2 days were not as eventful, more practical application rather than learning. For example, i was asked several times to grab some things for Byron, never had to ask twice. He wanted quackers? i ran to his truck and grabbed him the quackers. But it was good.

So after the first four days i felt pretty good about my internship, but alas I’ve not been on set since then. I had a lot of fun and learned a lot, but I do as they tell me. They want me in the studio for now so here I sit. Working on a script with a stuffed giraffe :)

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoy (still love input on future reviews)

Weekend’s Frivoloties

So, the internet in my flat is dead, kinda annoying, so I had to wait til i could get back in the office. Suppose that’s a good thing since it allowed me time to THINK about the movie before reviewing it (a lesson i learned from my review of The Hunger Games). so this weekend, i finally saw DJANGO UNCHAINED.

It plays out a lot like any other Tarantino film, over the top violence, out of place, but oddly appropriate, music, the works. And like other Tarantino films, it’s DAMN GOOD! My review sections may be a bit shorter, didn’t MEMORIZE it

Acting: I’m still not sold on Jaime Foxx, he was fine, but really nothing special if you ask me, that could just be the character. As always I was very happy with DiCaprio, I maintain he’s one of the better actors working these days, his character was quite good and quite unlikeable. Christophe Waltz once again kinda stole the show. He’s just a lot of fun. SAMUEL L JACKSON…*sigh*. he’s been getting mixed reviews for this movie. He plays the exact same character he does in most movies, it’s funny as hell, and his actions made him (to me) the most despicable character in the whole movie. The problem is i don’t know if he really FIT in the movie, he felt out of place to me. ah well.

Visual: This movie is REALLY violent, just as we expected, once again the violence is obviously fake but SO abundant. It’s comical. Not in the traditional sense though, i was laughing a lot through the movie because i was saying to myself “I can’t believe they did that, can’t believe they took it that far”. Laughter is the natural reaction to the absurd, and by god was it absurd. There were also a lot of VERY obvious camera moves, such as DRAMATIC zooms and focus pulls, but it worked beautifully with the absurd feeling

Audio:Like i said the music choice was very odd. Lots of songs we all know thrown in, but they match in tone. the best word i think for the score is BOMBASTIC. it is very dramatic when there is original music. SFX. appropriate i guess, nothing sticks out good or bad.

OVERALL: One moment i want to talk about is act III. You know there’s gonna be a shootout, there’s gotta be. BUT the entire act, the characters are moments away from opening fire, I was nervous/ancy to see who broke first and what causes it (gotta say the way they did it I did not see coming until about 30 seconds before it hit). It was a TON of fun, go see it, as long as you can stomach a lot of violence and racial slurs.

OTHER THINGS I WATCHED THIS WEEKEND (mini reviews):

THE MIST: first time i had seen this one. One of the few Steven King stories turned movie that i found at all scary. It did a great job with atmosphere, especially in the back 9. I know how it ended ahead of time (SPOILERS). gotta say it made me a little sick, it was so tense and feeling, and it just leaves you with that feeling. I enjoyed it, but doubt i will a second time, wasn’t great, but making me feel ill is an accomplishment

THE FOUNTAIN: I love this movie, but totally see why people wouldn’t, it took me a while to come around for it myself. Hugh Jackman does a very good job in this movie, least I think so…but this movie is really spiritual and all about its themes: From dark into light/love eternal/immortality found in the finality of death. It’s very pretty, and like all Darren Aronofsky films, it is very visual and has an amazing score.

right then, i’m off to write a script about a giraffe.