He is Legend: Richard Matheson

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Holy ignorance! John Carter Review

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This is a little late, and for good reason. I really wanted to let the movie marinate with me and also let all the negative reviews fester a little.

John Carter tells the story of an ex-Confederate captain in the late 1800s who is transported to mars and becomes the savior of the red planet. May not sound super interesting, but keep in mind the book was written in 1912! Edgar Rice Burroughs, of Tarzan fame, was the prolific author of A Princess of Mars, which is what the film is based on. In most cases I am very loyal to the books and find them almost always better. In the 1930s, the first film adaptation for John Carter came up, and Burroughs actually suggested giving a new or revised story because it would need to resonate with new audiences. Therefore, 99% of the changes were fine by me.

I am not going to try and argue with the critics here, I know more about John Carter then them. Also, I feel like a lot of them have forgotten how to have fun at the movies. This movie was the most fun I have had at the movies in a while. The movie packs in action and story and technology and back story and so on. What’s interesting is that the book hardly explains any of that. This isn’t Lord of the Rings or Dune where there is this rich depth of detail and landscape. Mars is a wasteland and the technology works because it isn’t earth, the movie answers to the modern need to have things explained.

People need to think of this as big picture. This is the first story in a long line of tales. You meet the characters here; learn a little bit about them. You need at least one other movie before you really feel the love and romance of John and Dejah Thoris. You need another film to realize the warrior-brother bound of John and Tars Tarkus. This could have been a three hour movie, easy. It wasn’t for good reason.

Andrew Stanton of Pixar loved these books and had a passion for the story. I think it shows and that’s what makes this movie so charming and loveable. You get top rate special effects, great acting, witty dialogue, guys and girls with little clothing; you also get Woola, the Martian dog that had to inspire R2-D2 and Chewbacca. It literally has something for everyone. I know that is really cliché, but it is absolutely true.

The books are the perfect romance novel guys, John’s only motivation is the girl. In the movie he actually had more depth and it makes him more interesting. You still get a scene where he is swinging his sword and mauling hundreds of Warhoon Tharks with their blue bloodied bodies piling up around him, but then you get him kissing a princess. So cool!

I think this is the best live action Disney movie I have seen since 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. I don’t care how much it; I don’t care how much it makes. It was a movie that reminded me of why I love the cinema.

This makes me “giddy”. Watch “Prometheus – Official FULL Trailer [TRUE HD]” on YouTube

Watch “Jack The Giant Killer – Official Trailer [HD]” on YouTube

Watch “Weyland TED Talk 2023” on YouTube

What Designer are you wearing? Who cares?! 2012 Oscar Selections!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love the Oscars, I hate the Oscars. It is like the Super Bowl at my house. I come back every year and dig in deep and see as many of the films as I can, that is the great part; expanding my mind through the education of a wide range of films. The thing I hate is the stupidity of the Academy and its predictable and political motives. I can get over it easy, because I love films, actors, writers, set designers, etc., etc.

This year I am taking a different approach. Instead of actually predicting who I think will win, I will just tell you my choice in these selected categories. I am typically 50% wrong, it is not because I do not know what I am talking about, it is because I cannot set aside my personal taste and preference when it comes to these “art” films.

Also, follow me on twitter @jwfyler as I “live-tweet” the show. Because you really care about my opinion. I will try to be funny, I make no promises.

 

Sound Mixing

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Hugo

Moneyball

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

War Horse

I am not exactly sure how they actually choose the winner in this category. Of the five, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo had the best mix of all the sounds in it. Haha.

 

Sound Editing

Drive

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Hugo

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

War Horse

This is the only thing that Drive is nominated for, thus, it should win.

 

Visual Effects

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Hugo

Real Steel

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Rise of the Planet of the Apes did a great honor to the original movies by keeping the same level excellence. CG, backgrounds, all of it was fantastic.

 

Film Editing

The Artist

The Descendants

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Hugo

Moneyball

David Fincher’s team knows how to pace a movie, editing is the key to his success. Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall are true wizards.

 

Makeup

Albert Nobbs

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

The Iron Lady

Old ladies, women as men, done before. I think this category is a joke this year. The original Planet of the Apes should just hold this honor for all time.

 

Art Direction

The Artist

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Hugo

Midnight in Paris

War Horse

More so than the other films on the list, it felt exactly like the time period. Not just as a movie, but the atmosphere, acting, and color were all perfect.

 

Cinematography

The Artist

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Hugo

The Tree of Life

War Horse

Back to Fincher’s team. Angles, speed, focus, these things matter more than people ever realize. Jeff Cronenweth started with Fight Club and has kept that level of greatness in all his work.

 

Costume Design

Anonymous

The Artist

Hugo

Jane Eyre

W.E.

I hate the Jane Eyre story, it is so boring. I find that I am of a small percentage here. The film did have great casting and costumes. A classic British tale, it is kind of a shoe in. Michael O’Connor has already won for The Duchess.

 

Foreign Language Film

Bullhead

Footnote

In Darkness

Monsieur Lazhar

A Separation

Sadly, this is the only one I have any experience with. I make a promise do to better in this category next year.

 

Documentary Feature

Hell and Back Again

If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front

Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory

Pina

Undefeated

Again, the only one that I actually saw. It was so good though. The story of the Memphis Three, this film is one of three that have been a major factor in bringing this case to light across the whole country.

 

Animated Feature Film

A Cat in Paris

Chico & Rita

Kung Fu Panda 2

Puss in Boots

Rango

Down year for animation. A Gore Verbinski/Johnny Depp film has the best shot in a year when Pixar put out a turd.

 

Music (Original Score)

The Adventures of Tintin

The Artist

Hugo

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

War Horse

John Williams holds the record for most Academy Awards nominations of any living person. He has two in the fight, and I preferred War Horse. This is a situation where I cannot set aside body of work.

 

Music (Original Song)

Man or Muppet

Real in Rio

Only two nominated. Bret McKenzie, of Flight of the Concords fame, wrote a song worthy of The Muppets I grew up with.

 

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

The Descendants

Hugo

The Ides of March

Moneyball

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

I have not read the original material, but of these five films, The Descendants felt the most honest and real. It was an interesting family tail that had depth without being too depressing.

 

Writing (Original Screenplay)

The Artist

Bridesmaids

Margin Call

Midnight in Paris

A Separation

Woody Allen either nails it, or bores me with the same old game. Midnight in Paris was funny, witty, and not over the top. Plus I love the 20s.

 

Actress in a Supporting Role

Berenice Bejo: The Artist

Jessica Chastain: The Help

Melissa McCarthy: Bridesmaids

Janet McTeer: Albert Nobbs

Octavia Spencer: The Help

No stand outs here, in my opinion. That said, Octavia stole the show in The Help and I really hope she wins.

 

Actor in a Supporting Role

Kenneth Branagh: My Week with Marilyn

Jonah Hill: Moneyball

Nick Nolte: Warrior

Christopher Plummer: Beginners

Max von Sydow: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

This is really tough. Nick Nolte gave his best performance since Blue Chips and I have a soft spot for Christopher Plummer (General Chang). My final decision came down to the fact the Plummer played more out of his element and was marvelous. Nolte was extremely believable, but not an unexpected role.

 

Actress in a Leading Role

Glenn Close: Albert Nobbs

Viola Davis: The Help

Rooney Mara: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Meryl Streep: The Iron Lady

Michelle Williams: My Week with Marilyn

Another hard one. Rooney Mara took over a role that was done very well by Noomi Rapace, but she did it all better. She was brutal, mean, sexy, vulnerable, all the stuff the Academy looks for. Michelle Williams was the perfect Marilyn Monroe, which is a great feat. I loathe Meryl Streep and Glenn Close; they very seldom evoke any emotion in me. I will call a tie between Williams and Mara, loved them both…Oh, I can’t do that? Ok, Michelle Williams, there.

 

Actor in a Leading Role

Demian Bichir: A Better Life

George Clooney: The Descendants

Jean Dujardin: The Artist

Gary Oldman: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Brad Pitt: Moneyball

Most of the time the person who wins this category is an anti-hero of sorts, or an addict, or dying, etc. George Clooney showed me his great acting talent by pulling off a completely normal and real human being in a somewhat unusual circumstance. When I “buy” an actor, is when I no longer see that person, and I can imagine it would be hard to fully commit to someone who has no great conflict, disease, or war and completely “sell” it.

That being said, I think Michael Fassbender should have been nominated for Shame, and should win. He did four movies this year; his body of work is incomparable this year. I know, “the Oscar’s aren’t about body of work”. Really? Scorsese won for The Departed and not Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, or Goodfellas?

Someone else who had a great body of work this year was Ryan Gosling, three great films. Drive is crazy-awesome.

 

Directing

The Artist: Michel Hazanavicius

The Descendants: Alexander Payne

Hugo: Martin Scorsese

Midnight in Paris: Woody Allen

The Tree of Life: Terrance Malick

I think this was the best movie of the year, and in turn Martin Scorsese the best director. Malick’s The Tree of Life was too much of an art piece for me to think that he/it was the best. The other three are on the next level of good.

 

Best Picture

The Artist

The Descendants

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

The Help

Hugo

Midnight in Paris

Moneyball

The Tree of Life

War Horse

The most heart, the most interesting, and the most entertaining. A great film about a boy who has fallen in love with film and technology before Hollywood and before computers and smart phones controlled our lives. The awe and wonder of this film struck a chord because I remember falling in love with motion pictures at a young age. I related to this film, thus my choice for Best Picture.

Keepin’ Me Waitin’: Top 5 most anticipated films of 2012…plus some

I know it is almost March, but the last two months have not been noteworthy.  This list is based on release date, not excitement level for the film. I will also break the normal routine and add some honorable mentions.

Honorable Mentions:

Project X – 3/2

John Carter – 3/9

The Hunger Games- 3/25

The Cabin in the Woods – 4/13

The Avengers – 5/4

The Dictator – 5/11

Brave – 6/22

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – 6/22

G.I. Joe: Retaliation – 6/29

The Amazing Spider-Man – 7/3

The Dark Knight Rises – 7/20

Total Recall – 8/3

The Bourne Legacy – 8/3

Looper – 9/28

Skyfall – 11/9

Gravity – 11/21

Les Miserable – 12/7

World War Z – 12/12

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – 12/14

Cosmopolis – TBA

Seven Psychopaths – TBA

 

Top 5:

5. The Master – TBA – Directed, and co-produced by Paul Thomas Anderson. Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, and Laura Dern. Loosely based on L. Ron Hubbard and the creation of Scientology

 

 

4. Moonrise Kingdom – 5/25 – Directed by Wes Anderson, written by Anderson and Roman Coppola. Starring Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Francis McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Jason Schwartzman. Anderson bias, summer camp, and kids in love.

 

3. Prometheus – 6/8 – Directed by Ridley Scott and written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof. Starring Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green and Charlize Theron. Ridley Scott doing science fiction in the same universe as “Alien”.

 

2. The Great Gatsby – 12/25 – Based on the classic F. Scott Fitzgerald novel of the same name. Directed by Baz Luhrmann. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgarton and Tobey Maguire. One of my favorite books, a great director, and maybe the best character fit for DiCaprio.

 

1. Django Unchained – 12/25 – Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Starring Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Christoph Waltz. Tarantino doing a post-Civil War Western.

If only half of these are as good as I am expecting, then it will be a fantastic year in movies!

Hey, you want a toothpick? Top 5 Favorite Films of 2011

Over 250 films are released in the average year. I do not get to see even half of them. That being said, I saw a lot of movies this year. Marvel literally exploded, David Fincher continues to put out great products, and Woody Allen won me over again. Some of my favorite filmmakers did not contribute to this year, so for me it was a bit of a down year. Down in that there were only about 20 films that I really liked. Of those 20 or so, these are my favorites:

5. X-Men: First Class – this is what an X-Men movie should look like. Thanks to Bryan Singer’s vision and his involvement in this picture, I believe we have come full circle since the 2000 cinematic super hero explosion. Singer produced and Matthew Vaughn directed this long delayed, much changed, rushed version of the beginning of the X-Men universe. Vaughn’s follow up to Kick-Ass, this film marks his first attempt and big time Hollywood blockbuster. Taking place in the 60s at the height of the Cold War, Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr meet, become friends, and introduce the world to mutants. It was executed perfectly, mainly because the casting was so fantastic. Fassbender as Magneto was inspired casting in the class of Patrick Stewart, Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman and Heath Ledger. This movie is cool, historical, fun, and makes you feel something other than just visual stimulation. It makes me excited to see what will happen next with my favorite super hero franchise.

4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo- This did not originally make the list. It was because I wanted to avoid comparison with the original and the source material, plus I always put Fincher in my Top 5. After a second viewing, I knew that I enjoyed it so much; I could not leave it off the list. This mystery-thriller that takes place in Sweden is a return to form for David Fincher. Think back to his 90s films that were edgy, witty, and unapologetic. Se7en, The Game, Fight Club; these films caused some outcry about desensitization and the current state of movies. This film is dark, depressing, exciting, and has the perfect amount of Fincher charm. A story about a washed up journalist who is trying to solve an old case, then gets mixed up with a girl with a shady past and together they uncover years of deception, hatred, and cruelty. Rooney Mara is someone to watch in the future, I have been cheering since her small role in 2010’s The Social Network, also a David Fincher movie. Though not an original piece of work, this movie was great and, I think, better than the Swedish version. Nice to see that Fincher still has the Indie chops after a decade of Zodiac, Benjamin Button, and The Social Network. Plus the opening credits are really cool.

3. Drive- This was the most unexpected film of the year. Ryan Gosling is usually pretty good, I do not flock to his movies the way some people (read: critics and girls) do. But, this film was masterful on his part. He is a reserved individual with a great talent for driving for whoever offers him work. He has a moral code that keeps him alive. When he breaks that code and falls for a girl, trouble follows. This movie has a great soundtrack, style, atmosphere, acting, etc. etc. Just a great piece of realism and understatement. If you like the grand theft auto games, if you like Gosling, if you like mob movies, or you just like good movies; check it out.

2. Midnight in Paris- A somewhat unexpected addition to the list. I like Woody Allen films, but I don’t typically love them. Annie Hall is good, Scoop is great, and there are a couple in between. Then there are the bad ones too. I will leave my opinions on those as to let you decide how you like your Woody Allen. Midnight in Paris is a great one. Owen Wilson is back to his element of being a little self-deprecating and witty as opposed to boyish and charming. I like Wilson like this, let Luke be the good looking one. Only a few movies make me want to see Paris, 2 are on this list. The more I think about it though; it is not modern Paris, but the pre-WWII France that I desire. Much like Owen Wilson’s character, I love the 1920s. Hemingway, Dali, and probably my favorite, Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby was the start of obsession with the roaring 20s. The cast is great fun and well put together in small and large roles a like. I think Woody Allen is at his best when adding a little fantasy and philosophy to his films, so much as to avoid some of his neurotic overplaying of relationships. This is solid romantic comedy with an original take and lighthearted attitude.

1. Hugo- I was able to avoid seeing this in 3D, I believe that made all the difference. There is so much to say about this film, but I will edit myself. It takes place in 1931 and primarily in a train station. A story of a boy who has lost his father and whose imagination sets him on a journey that is not at all self-serving. That is a great delight in modern cinema, a hero who in the end helps someone else more than he helps himself. Set in Paris after the first war, the depth and atmosphere that Martin Scorsese creates is fantastic and shows his love of film history. I am no scholar of film, but I know the story of Georges Méliès and fell in love with the pictures from A Trip to the Moon in collage. This is the best PG movie I have seen that was not Pixar in a long time. It captures to the wonder of motion pictures and the purity of children who experience them, not just view them. The only other film that I have seen that balances childhood, adventure, and a history of film so well is Cinema Paradiso. Movies do not have to be gimmicks and mindless entertainment; they can mean something and speak to our inner adventurer who we have hidden since we “grew up”. This will be a film that I will revisit throughout the years.

Another year done with movies and I feel I fall further and further behind, I saw what I could and enjoyed myself immensely.

Kinky Wizards: Top 5 Favorite Albums of 2011

5. Bon Iver- Bon Iver, Bon Iver

 This was at the top of a lot of lists. I really liked it; they matured a lot with this album. It breaks from some of their normal tendencies and takes some electronic risks that pay off. Anyone who hasn’t heard them is missing out on a great band with a bright future.

Selected tracks: Holocene, Beth/Rest

4. Fleet Foxes- Helplessness Blues

This was one of my most anticipated albums of 2011. It is Woody Guthrie back from the dead. Great folk poetry and lyrical hooks and harmonies that get stuck in your head. Robin Pecknold shines brightest yet on this album, his voice is soothing, while challenging. Great road trip record.

Selected tracks: Helplessness Blues, Grown Ocean

3. Middle Brother- Middle Brother

Yet another folk album. This was the best one in a long time. Best new band, hands down. Comprised of songwriters from Dawes, Deer Tick, and Delta Spirit. I think they are better than the other 3 bands combined. It is witty, self-deprecating, funny, and soulful. It rocks like the Beatles and then rolls like Dylan. Must listen to for hipsters and folk lovers alike.

Selected tracks: Blue Eyes, Middle Brother

2. TV on the Radio- Nine Types of Light

An unexpected wonder that was unequalled last year. Thanks to good friend for suggesting and making me listen to this album. I had given up in this band, but this record renewed my faith. Solidly at that. It is musically their best work, vocally their best work, and lyrically genius and funny. I listened to this album more than anything else in 2011. Go. Buy. It. Now.

Selected tracks: Second Song, You

1. The King of Limbs- Radiohead

There is so much to say about this album. I did as much when it was released. Other than the Beatles, I do not know of a band who consistently raises bar with every single album without fail. While it may not be my favorite Radiohead album ever, it is their best musical work to date. I am not sure why I am writing this. You either like Radiohead and already know all of this, or you don’t and this album can’t change your ignorant opinion. I know, a little harsh.

Selected tracks: Lotus Flower, Codex

Not a GREAT year for music, but a pretty good year. All said and done, I did not have a musical void to fill with billboard top 20, so from that viewpoint, I am pleased.

Animation Ruling the Nation. Top 5 Favorite Animated Movies

I am a big fan of animated feature films. I would say that animated films are the reason that I love the medium today. I grew up watching Disney’s Robin Hood, The Hobbit, and An American Tail. These and many others set my on the path to become the film-loving man I am today.

The myths and legends are told through animated films. Modern storytelling to children is done through movies like the Secret of Nimh and Sleeping Beauty. Fortunately cartoon movies have grown and evolved, they have surpassed many of the live action features that come out today. Studios like Disney, Dreamworks, and Studio Ghibli have made a library of continually quality films.

Here are my top five favorites, they may not be the best, but I enjoy them the most.

5. Titan A.E. – A science fiction adventure story in the class of Star Wars, Titan AE tells the story of a reluctant hero who must save what is left of the human race after the destruction of earth. The animation, story, and characters are perfectly positioned for any kid or adult who loves sci-fi epics. The voice cast includes Matt Damon, Drew Barrymore, Bill Pullman, and John Leguizamo. This movie plays out as a heartfelt, action-packed story of love, betrayal, and the human spirit.

4. The Iron Giant – The last great hand-drawn American feature is The Iron Giant. Set in the 1950s amongst beatniks and the red scare, there is a story of an alien robot who crash lands in small town USA. A little boy befriends the robot that has been damaged and is activated as a weapon when attacked by the military. The boy and his family must save the robot and help bring understanding to the community. This story resembles classics like E.T. and Close Encounters, adults do not understand how to interact with aliens, little boys who watch sci-fi television do. The voice talents in this movie include Jennifer Aniston, Harry Connick Jr., and Vin Diesel. Brad Bird is the directing force behind this simple wonder.

3. The Incredibles – Another Brad Bird directed film, this one with the power of Pixar behind it, The Incredibles takes everything Stan Lee created with Fantastic Four and improved upon it. The story of a family of superheroes that must fight an egotistical villain, it is perfect. It is funny, exciting, and it’s about protecting the people around you by being honest with yourself. I grew up watching comic book based cartoons and am very familiar with Superman, Batman, Spiderman and the like, this movie is a wonderful depiction of that world. Great for children and adults, The Incredibles is a must see. The voice cast includes Craig T. Nelson, Jason Lee, and Holly Hunter.

2. Howl’s Moving Castle – Myazaki. In my opinion, the greatest animator of all time, he even surpasses Walt Disney. He has created such classics as Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, and Ponyo. This is my favorite of his films. It is about a girl who is transformed into an old hag by an evil witch, the girl then stumbles upon the mysterious wizard Howl and his fire demon Calcifer. They must combine their forces to defeat a growing evil. The thing this movie has more then any other animated feature I have seen is the deep fantasy that expects you to accept everything you see without asking questions. You sit in wonder as this masterpiece unfolds before you. The English dubbed version is voiced by Christian Bale, Emily Mortimer, Jean Simmons, Blyth Danner, and Billy Crystal as Calcifer. See this if you have the chance, but at least go add Ponyo to your Netflix instant queue.

1. Toy Story – This is the most sentimental of all the movies on this list. I hold it dear because I was Andy. I had a Wolverine action figure and a Luke Skywalker action figure that were my favorites, they are worn out and heavily used, but I still have them in the attic. I was 8 when I saw Toy Story in theaters and I remember being in awe, not just of the animation and the jokes, but of the entire story and real it felt to me. The journey of rivals becoming friends and discovering themselves in order to return their owner. John Lasseter developed the original story for The Brave Little Toaster and that eventually grew into what would become Toy Story. Pixar blasted onto the scene with a smash hit that set the bar extremely high for animated features to come, they have yet to disappoint. I plan on getting down my box of action figures soon, but for now my son is content wearing his Buzz Lightyear pajamas and being completely obsessed with all three Toy Story movies. The incredible voice cast for Toy Story includes Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, and Jim Varney.

Next Top 5 – Appreciating the Unappreciated: Top 5 Directors who have never won an Academy Award.