Saturday, September 20, 2008

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Wall=E raises the bar baby

Considering I have basically ignored the whole movie thing during school, I think I am making up for it nicely right now.. there are so many good movies or must-see's out this summer.

...As walle came out later I naturally saw Kungfoo panda by Dreamworks and I gotta say I Was impressed.. the jokes and the look of the film and its characters, the style. Everything worked so nicely that I have to say it was the best dreamworks film since the first shrek.

Until I saw WAll-E.. its graphics alone were worthy of a live action film and even included clips of live action within it that didn't seem out of place as the atmosphere was so real. It made me realize that Kungfoo panda is where Pixar was..last year, certainly an excellent film and one of my favorites (that old turtle was brilliant!!)..but pixar has definitely succeeded in once again raising the bar. The character Wall-E who said very little throughout the film was able to hold the audiences attention just through the personality. almost an ET like quality, except not as freaky. I have to say, I was a little skeptical when I saw there was a "futuristic robot that WAlle falls in love with" in the previews.. but luckily the previews really gave nothing away and it worked quite well.

There isnt really much in the way of specifics.. I think the best thing to do is just go and see it

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Idiocracy/ Run Ronnie Run Sketches

I didn't do as many from these, so I figured I'd just post them all together. Again, the caricatures aren't really working from a style standpoint, but I'm hitting likenesses more consistently now. And that second one is Jeff Goldblum, who has a one scene cameo as himself in Run Ronnie Run.

Run Ronnie Run

So here's one I would have never found if it weren't for IMDB. Being a big fan of Mr. Show with Bob & David, I tried to find out what else these guys had done. I had never heard of it before, and the concept kind of scared me. I'm really not a fan of redneck humour, but I knew that neither was Cross, so I had to assume it was a parody of it. I think Cross and Odenkirk were the only ones who knew this, because a lot of the other characters in the southern part of the movie played it like typical gross out hillbilly comedy. I think this was in part due to the directed, who Cross and Odenkirk did not get along with at all, and was the reason they both disowned the movie after its completion. There are blatant character motivation issues and plot holes all over, but hey, its still pretty funny. And unlike Idiocracy, it did a good job of making a point about the state of the entertainment business, and why such stupid things are glorified, like reality shows. Ultimately it's not a very interesting story, but the comedy of Cross and Odenkirk hold it together. I think the best part was Cross doing a dubbed voice for a little asian boy in a wheelchair whose dying wish was to meet Ronnie. But unless you're already a fan of these two guys, and know their stuff, I wouldn't recommend it.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Well here's the first one that I can't foresee myself ever watching again. I'm a big fan of Office Space, and I think Mike Judge is a funny guy, even though I was never a fan of King of the Hill. Again, I stumbled upon it while going through IMDB pages, and it sounded like a pretty interesting concept, and I figured Judge's brand of comedy would fit it well. After watching it, I'm amazed that Judge had anything to do with it. Everything I've seen of his before looks pretty low rent. This was the exact opposite. Big sets and tons of CG work, and a lot of overly colourful imagery gave the movie a really run of the mill bad comedy feel, like those shot by directors who just know comedy. 

What made it worse was the casting. Luke Wilson can survive as a lead only when supported by guys like Ferrel and Vaughn, like in Old School. But when he's left on his own, it really shows how little range he has. Everything sounded and looked exactly the same in his performance from beginning to end, which really doesn't mix well with Judge's comedy. Dax Sheppard is one of the worst comedic actors ever, and his approach to acting stupid was simply to keep his eyes half closed and deliver all his lines like his mouth was half full of food. Maya Rudolph was one of the worst cast members of SNL I had ever seen back when I still watched the show. As a female lead, when she's given more screen time, its glaringly apparent that she's not funny whatsoever. And that is a bad sign. When you're three top leads are not delivering the jokes, you're in trouble. And as you can assume, you can only laugh at people who don't understand things so much. And its nowhere near the level you need to sustain comedy throughout a feature. 

I thought that the concept of the movie was good to begin with. But after it finished I found that the main idea was so overstated and hyperboled, that it just became annoying. It didn't take long for the movie to make its point, but then you have to do something with it. The big problem was that the main conclusion of it just seemed wrong. Perhaps if it had been revealed early on that there really was no way out, and obviously no time machine, Joe's actions would have made a little more sense. And with a character who is infinitely smarter than every other character, you have the freedom for him to do whatever you want. Unfortunately, the character is always in between goals. He tries to fix some things, but is always distracted by trying to figure how to get out. It took all the impact of what he could achieve by teaching these people ideas that they needed to survive. But given the concept of the movie, it has all the interest of a character who can't figure out how to eat pudding, and then giving him a spoon. 

I can't recommend this one to anyone, unless you're a hardcore Luke Wilson fan, but at that point, you're already long gone. 

Mulholland Drive Sketches

I'm really disappointed that I couldn't nail down any female caricatures from this one. From the two female leads, it was actually pretty hard just analyzing what I could possibly exaggerate. Everything seemed to be in pretty average proportion, and nothing was closer to one feature than the other. And without a unique, abstract headshape, it really didn't seem possible. The Watts one I tried was awful, and the one of the other chick became more realistic than cartoon. The other one I was pretty happy with, but if you see the guy I was caricaturing, you'd see its pretty hard to miss.

Mulholland Drive

So I'm surprised that I had never seen a David Lynch movie before, so I figured I'd start out with the one that's the closest stylistically to stuff I've already seen, just to make sure my head didn't explode. Everything I have heard or read about his movies is about how surreal they are, or in other words, just plain weird. I got through about an hour and fifty minutes into the movie, and was shocked at how realistic it was. Sure some of the events and characters were not your everyday people you see on the street, but only one scene jumped out as being very different. It's the one that I've seen rated as one of the scariest scenes of all time, in which a guy in a coffee shop is telling a friend of his about a dream he had, and then of course, it begins to play out exactly the way he told it. It seemed at the time like it was a little out of place given the state of the main characters story, and you weren't given any sense of how this scene or its characters fit into the narrative. By the end, it makes more sense, but it's still up to interpretation.  Okay so after that hour and fifty minute mark, the movie seemed like someone was screwing with me. Characters relationships and appearances changed, some of their names changed, and it seemed like it began telling a different story with the same actors. Now I immediately ran to the Wikipedia page for the movie as soon as it finished, just to see if there was a consensus opinion on exactly what happened at the end, but apparently Lynch has left it up to the viewer. I have my own idea, but I think I'd have to go back and rewatch it to actually figure anything out with certainty. 

How Naomi Watts didn't even get a nomination for best actress at the oscars, while Renee Zellwegger, Halle Berry and Nicole Kidman did is beyond criminal. Then again it was also the year that Memento got completely shut out, so what does that tell you. I've seen Watts before in King Kong and the Ring, and I thought she was a pretty good actress, but it didn't appear that she had much range. She was still able to help save the awful script/concept of the Ring, but now I see she just wasn't given the right chance. In this flick, she gives probably the best female performance I've ever seen, right up there with Ellen Burstyn in Requiem for a Dream. She has an absolutely believable character throughout the realistic scenes, and then became the most powerful part of the the final change-up scenes, and is visibly a changed character. 

Just a final note, f anyone comes away from the movie only remembering the lesbian aspect to it, they need to be hit. It was probably the only part of the movie that made sense to them, which unfortunately, given some of the online responses I've seen, is what this movie is known for. There is so much more to the movie, everyone should watch it at least once. Twice if you really want to understand it.

The Grand Sketches

Here's a couple of sketches from The Grand, caricatures of David Cross and Richard Kind. Still feeling like they're too realistic, and not exaggerated or simplified enough. Damn you Emsile and your five minute perfections !

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Grand

Here's one most probably haven't heard of. I saw the trailer and it looked awesome. Now that I've seen it, it doesn't disappoint whatsoever. From start to finish, it is a damn funny movie. And almost none of the comedy comes from the action or plot, but rather the dialogue, which is almost entirely improvised. a flick about a poker tournament, shot in a documentary/sport event style. Sounds like it would be boring as hell, but what made it great was the actors. 

There are some hilariously funny people in this movie, from David Cross, Richard Kind, Michael McKean, Cheryl Hines, Ray Romano, and Woody Harrelson. I had read about this a while back, when surfing some IMBD pages. Which is why I wasn't surprised to see that Zak Penn wrote and directed it. This dude has written some awful movies, like Last Action Hero, Inspector Gadget, the final two X-Men movies, Elektra and Fantastic 4. Quite a body of work, and somehow the dude is still allowed to write, as he's currently working on the new Incredible Hulk movie, the Avengers and a Captain America movie. If I'm a studio head I don't let this dude within typing distance. These actors saved him from himself.

If the articles about this movie I've read are correct, each scene was completely improvised. I wouldn't want to be the editor on a movie like that, but by god does it work. Even the final poker table with the six stars of the movie was just a game between the six actors. They hadn't even scripted who would win! If they had hired the wrong actors for this, the movie would have been a colossal failure, and Penn really wouldn't have ever been allowed to work again. Thankfully, that wasn't the case, and the casual dialogue actually fit into place with each character. 

My favourite character in the movie is Ray Romano, who doesn't have a very big role. But wow can this dude deliver some clever lines, and ones that built a completely realistic character. He's a stay at home dad, as his wife played by Hines is a professional poker player. He got hit by lightning, and kept his lucky hat that he was wearing at the time. While taking care of their five kids he comes up with ideas for possible inventions, like the circular beach towel, as well as what he calls, "sayings." Essentially he's takes an existinf figure of speech and just alters the elements of it. Instead of a tie in baseball being "like kissing your sister," he says it's like "peeing in your wetsuit." The dude is a goof, and for some reason, its endearing. The best scene is when he's debating what to do on the day of the big tournament with his wife, who could (and does) win $10 million at the poker tournament, because its the same day as his Yahoo Fantasy Football draft. The delivery is so natural, and so believable its perfect. 

Another great element of the movie is that David Cross finally gets a movie role that fits his talents. On television, the guy starred in Arrested Development and Mr. Show with Bob & David, two of the funniest shows ever. He also does stand up comedy, and is one of the only current comedians that are actually funny. But for some reason, whenever he gets cast in a movie role, its never fit his talent, which is quick witted, vulgar comedy. He's been in movies like She's the Man and both Men in Black movies. He shines in this movie, as an abrasive, ultra competitive player, who during his childhood was constantly put into direct competition for his fathers love and attention (and a trip to Disney Land) against his sister (Hines). The line from his father, who is also featured in the film, is "If you tell one kid that you don't love him as much, believe me, that kid is gonna try harder." The relationship between these family members is one of the things that holds the movie together between the poker games. In the end, father and son sort of reconcile, with Cross saying that he bought his father a ranch dressing factory, because he loved ranch dressing. 

It's a hilarious movie, that if you're not expecting an interesting story, you will thoroughly enjoy.

Blade Runner Sketches

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Blade Runner

Next one is the sci fi epic Blade Runner, aka Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? I'm a big fan of Philip K. Dick, and its unfortunate that some directors have ruined his stories with awful movies, like Total Recall, Paycheck and Next. I have seen and loved A Scanner Darkly, but I knew that this was a completely different kind of movie. I was impressed that even though its now 26 years old, the special effects do not look dated whatsoever. Too often sci-fi movies are taken over by the effects, and try to show off what they are capable of. More than often, the characters and story are seriously lacking, and ruin the movie. This may be the best combination I've seen of creative, artistic special effects and a character/plot driven story. The only issue I had was I wished Deckard had better developed motivation to come out of semi-retirement to do a job he seemed to be glad to be free from. Being told he was the only one who could be trusted for this job didn't seem like enough to me.

The first things I noticed about the movie was its shooting style. Firstly, the camera is almost always moving, and when its not, the lighting is moving. I have not seen this done often in any film before, and it was a very interesting element. It made me feel like there was constant action, and that things were always changing. It was also interesting to see that there were essentially four colours used in almost every shot. Combinations of blue and green lighting, with bright white highlights and pitch black shadows were all that were noticable. The film is also overly dark, wet and dirty, which helped the feel of a dystopian future. The only times I noticed it deviated from this was in Sebastian's apartment/abandoned building.

One of the strongest points of the film was the villain, played by Rutger Hauer. The dude was absolutely crazy with rage, fueled by revenge for those who made him and his race slaves. This was balanced perfectly with his seemingly sophisticated relationship with Sebastian, a loner who genetically designs his own friends in his apartment. But my favourite part of these scenes was Pris, played by Darryl Hannah. The character initially reminded me of Iris in Taxi Driver, because when introduced she was young, lost and scared. But as a replicant, she's later revealed as a warrior fighting for the same things Roy was. What caught my eye was the relationship these two (Pris and Roy) formed with Sebastian, with Pris acting very flirtatious and gracious towards him, to help endear him to Roy who needed information from him. It seemed very much like the Joker & Harley Quinn relationships I've seen in the Batman comics, and is exactly the kind of thing I was hoping for in the upcoming Dark Knight film. Sadly I don't think they're going that way, in an effort to avoid the Spiderman 3 blunder of too many villains, but I think with Chris Nolan in charge, and with talented actors like Heath Ledger and Brittany Murphy (who would be a perfect Harley Quinn), I have no doubt they could pull it off.

Now I understand that one of the main controversies over this film, and the reason that 5 different cuts of the film exist is because of the inference that Deckard was himself a replicant. Apparently Ridley Scott claims that that was his aim, but I wonder why if he believed this, why he wouldn't have at least hinted at it more. It does not quite make sense to me, as there are moments that infer that Deckard has lived a full life, not just a four year lifespan that is about to expire. If Scott had truly believed this was a crucial plot point, I see no reason to be so subtle about it. While I watched it, I thought the unicorn references were meant to reference Rachael. 


That's right, last night I went back to a classic... Robocop!
Funny thing is I don't remember actually watching the entire thing before.. but last night, I did just that. Having an interest in animation and Special FX, I love watching films from the 80's such as Robocop, Terminator, Aliens, etc and seeing how they did things with less use of computer graphics. I found it interesting watching the use of stop motion for scenes which today would be done by computer.. I agree that computer graphics look smoother, but something about having the actual model move creates a better feel...

Friday, April 25, 2008

Monty Python's The Meaning of Life Sketches

Here's some more caricatures and layout studies from this movie. I'm definitely feeling better about how the caricatures are coming along. I'm still not getting them exaggerated enough, but I think I'm hitting the likeness a bit better. With the Clesse one I tried to avoid a simple redo of the one I saw from Emsile. 

Monty Python's The Meaning of Life

And now for something completely different. Instead of the character driven dramas of Taxi Driver and I'm Not There, here's a film that is pure enjoyment. I had thought I had never seen this film before, but now after watching it, I remember a couple scenes that I guess my dad must have shown me years ago. I specifically remember the final sequence with the Grim Reaper, and I know I had at least seen part of the restaurant scene, which just for the record, is maybe the best and funniest gross out humour scenes I've ever seen. When you see shows like Family Guy and MadTV doing short scenes or sketches based off of vomit humour, just know that these guys did it right, and did it first. 

I was actually surprised at how artistically the film was shot. Knowing that Terry Gilliam was the head of the animated sequences was no surprise, but the rest of the film was just as good in terms of composition and continuity. The only thing I noticed was that there were many scenes that were poorly lit, in that you would miss out on part of an action that was in shadow, or just that there were too many light sources and things got confusing in terms of space (like in the short before the film). 

The challenge that I thought was met well was that you essentially have a cast of 6 guys playing dozens of characters, and having to slightly change themselves for each. While John Cleese and Eric Idle are more recognizable to me than the rest, I rarely felt like they were playing the same character in different scenes. Sometimes they had barely changed their appearance, but it never took you out of a scene or lessened the impact of a joke. 

My favourite element of the film, and it is the essence of their comedy, is sheer ridiculousness. They play perfectly realistic scenes with attitudes and twists and combinations that are absolute genius. For example, in the battle/trench scene, when the general is about to make a charge, the soldiers understandably say what they believe might be their final words to this man. But then proceed to present him with 'going away' gifts, like a grandfather clock, a swiss watch, a cake, and a statue. Even better, they become bitter towards him when he doesn't acknowledge the gesture the way they expected, and are upset that he didn't want to eat the cake now. In my experience I've only ever seen two examples of comedy that reached this level of ridiculous sophistication, that is well planned out, and in my opinion, perfect for animation. Those two would be Kids in the Hall and Mr. Show with Bob and David. I can see many examples of how Monty Python led to the birth of these shows. 

For one, practically all the women are played by the men. They do it well, in that easily recognizable british screech. I did at some moments wish that the role of women (actual women) had been used better in the film. I truly believe that one of the signs of great comedic writing is the abilty to use women not as exposition loud speakers, but as comedic equals. I've seen this in Mel Brooks' films, most often it was Madeline Kahn, one of the funniest women ever, and more recently in the Apatow movies, but not to the same extent. Jane Lynch, Elizabeth Banks and Catherine Keener in 40-year old virgin and Katherine Heigl and Leslie Mann in Knocked Up are far better characters than in 99% of any female roles in comedies these days. 

I can definitely say that this was one of the best comedies ever, and not only is the movie funny as hell, but its well shot and the characters work.