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The Empathy Machine

June 11, 2015 Leave a comment

There was another version of this article that actually went on quite a bit of a rant, but I had to scrap it. I scrapped it not just for you, my reader, but also for myself, as I was writing more out of impassioned irritation than I was to make a coherent article about my relationship with film, as I had originally set out to do. I think this is a bit more focused, and a bit more biographical than that lecture, which I am honestly glad I had second thoughts about – and I do mean lecture as in “scold,” not “educational speech.” Part of what I almost lost sight of was an expression of my love for the medium of film, which, let’s face it, is the main topic of this blog is, after all!

Wall-E - Watching Hello Dolly

Wall-E

I do love film, though. I even admittedly sometimes love watching bad films, when the mood strikes, despite the fact that I usually end up griping about how awful they are by the time the credits begin – oftentimes earlier. I guess I’m a part time hate-watcher. That being said, however, I am admittedly an amateur when it comes to film appreciation. I’m rarely driven by more than gut instinct when it comes to analyzing the individual parts of a film, so I’m often left feeling quite inadequate to judge things like the composition of shots, the quality of the score, and the inventiveness of certain other techniques unless they really stand out to me. And, honestly, so long as those elements are either so well done that they either don’t call attention to themselves or are so transcendently novel that I can’t help but notice, I’m largely okay with that. For me, film has always been more than just the sum of its parts and more about what it’s actually saying on behalf of the artists involved and the subject it’s covering. (And, sometimes, films are mostly just entertaining, and that’s honestly okay, too!) Read more…

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James Bond: The Theme Songs – Part 1

March 8, 2012 3 comments

Hey, did you know that there’s a new James Bond film coming out this year? Yup! After a four year hiatus, thanks in large part to MGM’s troubled financials, Bond will be back on the big screen in the 23rd canonical James Bond film titled Skyfall, directed by Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes.

The film features the return of Daniel Craig to the role for his third time, joined by Oscar-winner Dame Judi Dench as “M,” Oscar-nominee Javier Bardem as the villain, Naomi Harris and Bérénice Marlohe as the Bond girls, Oscar-nominee Ralph Fiennes as a government agent, Ben Whishaw reviving the role of Q, and Albert Finney in an undisclosed role but lends even more credentials to the cast and crew with his five Oscar nominations. That’s a lot of Oscars, and a lot of expectations to live up to!

Of course, with every new Bond film, there comes a new Bond theme song, which carries its own set of high expectations. The themes of the Bond films have themselves become an institution, and, with music proving to be far more divisive in my own experiences than films, the title song for Skyfall, which would traditionally come at the beginning of the film, will arguably influence how audiences connect with the film to follow. The best thing that the filmmakers can do is look back on the previous films’ themes and see what worked and what didn’t.

Now, I’m not at all knowledgeable about music (In fact, music appreciation, which is a lot harder than it sounds, was one of the small number of Cs that I received while in college, so the following article is far more casual and amateur than my more film-centered articles. Please, if you have any experience in musical composition, performance, etc., feel free to tear me apart for saying something stupid.), but, as they say, I do know what I like, and I do have some strong feelings about some of the previous themes. While we look forward to a new Bond film this year, I thought this would be a great opportunity to look back on Bond themes past and give my assessment, first chronologically and then, of course, in rank.

WARNING: Heavy Flash video use ahead! Read more…

The 84th Annual Academy Awards Ceremony: My Rough Summation

February 28, 2012 1 comment

I always call the Oscars “My Super Bowl,” if only because it often comes around the same time every year and roughly has the same amount of buzz surrounding it, though I’m not so sure it has the same number of viewers. (That’s a lie. I know it doesn’t. Didn’t stop me from pigging out on a nice enchilada-style chimichanga like it was the Super Bowl!)

This year saw a decidedly milder ceremony, which some see as a nice turn after the somewhat disastrous choice to have Anne Hathaway and a mannequin host last year. They also brought back Billy Crystal for the hosting gig after Brett Ratner and Eddie Murphy left the production thanks to a disagreement about whether it was okay to call gay names. (It’s not.)

Gone were the musical performances of the nominated songs probably because there were only two, and they were silly songs that would have likely taken away from the retrospective feel of this year’s ceremonies. With 2011 being a relative disappointment for movie fans, there was much uncertainty as to who would be nominated and who would win for many of the categories, though there were a few more obvious than others. (Again with the songs.)

There were some major snubs (all things Drive and Shame) and some very unexpected choices (Extremely Loud & Very Close for Best Picture and Jonah Hill vs. Christopher Plummer). Overall, though, this was a relatively tame and bland ceremony that had me wishing they had at least tried something experimental again. I rather liked Hugh Jackman’s turn at the helm and its “creating a film” theme. This year’s “film nostalgia” experience felt like it was just Hollywood patting itself on the back while foreshadowing of the eventual winners.

Still, it was the Academy Awards, and I watched it all with relative interest. Below, for you, I have given my rough summation of each winner in my own eyes, whether I was familiar with the work (or even the category) or not. Why? Because I can. And frankly, this blog is as much about my growing film knowledge as it is yours, whoever you may be! Read more…

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Star Wars: Relics – How the Star Wars Posters Reflect Their Influences

January 27, 2012 4 comments

This article was written for a document design course. For the sake of protecting my own privacy, I am not including the original PDF until I can take out some of the more identifying pieces of information somehow, but for now, I figured I’d publish this.

Where’s my top 3 favorite films of 2011, you ask? Well, the article kind of went in a different direction than I had intended just now, and I do not feel as though I should rush it since I’m in a better place with it now than I was when I had started. The article became a lot more personal and a lot stronger, and so I would rather delay the final 2011 in Review article than to rush it and get it out for the sake of it. In the meantime, here’s the essay I wrote in my second-to-last semester in college. I think it’s a fairly decent essay that was an even more impressive-looking document design, my final project in learning Adobe InDesign CS4 that cemester, that I would love to show but cannot at the moment — however, and this is not to brag, I assure you, my professor asked for a copy of it to show to future students for his course. Hehe…

Read more…

Trailer & Speculation: “The Dark Knight Rises”

December 19, 2011 7 comments


Merry Christmas, everyone! Santa’s come early, and he’s brought a pretty exciting gift: the first theatrical trailer for The Dark Knight Rises!

You may have already seen the teaser trailer: , but this new trailer, somehow bleaker than all the previous films’ trailers, gives us an actual glimpse at all the new characters and actors (Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, for instance) who have joined the third and, yes, final entry in the Christopher Nolan Batman film series! The most prominent, of course, are Anne Hathaway and a masked Tom Hardy.  Read more…

Sidequest: How to Make a Proper “The Legend of Zelda” Film

November 16, 2011 4 comments

This blog is about film, I know, but, right now, my biggest anticipation isn’t an upcoming film. No. Right now all I can think about is rekindling a love affair with an old flame: video games.

Before I was a film nut, like all kids from the 80’s onward, I was a video game nut. I loved video games so much, I wanted to make them!– up until the end of high school when I got a clue and realized, “Wait, I hate math. I don’t want to program this!” It also became immediately clear that video game development is a black hole for your personal life, too. I don’t think people realize how many man hours go into making modern blockbuster games these days like Modern Warfare 3. Read a few anonymous behind-the-scenes anecdotes on The Trenches (brought to you by the guys who make the video game webcomic,  Penny Arcade), and you’ll see what I mean!

I continued to play them, of course. But slowly obligations began to take over. College took over. And other obligations, like church. And I soon found myself out of time and, most of all, out of energy. Even so, I continue to keep up on most of the latest games and trends in the industry. I look on with envy at games like Batman: Arkham CityAssassins Creed, andUltimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and wish I still had the drive to play video games like I used to. Alas, etc.

But I have a feeling that’s all going to change this coming Sunday. Why? Oh, it’s just a little game series known as…

Yes, I've named my adorable little kitty Zelda, too!

The Legend of Zelda is my all time favorite game series. I’ve owned every official game, and I wouldn’t exactly turn down even the unofficial Philips CD-i Zelda games if I were given the right price! I own versions of the games on other platforms just so I was able to play the games again on other platforms! I lust after this 25th Anniversary Nintendo 3DS that comes with Ocarina of Time 3D, despite the fact that I own the game on both Nintendo 64 and GameCube (…twice!).

You might be asking yourself, though, why am I writing an article about a video game on a movie blog? Well, while I know that it’s a longshot (Pun! Get it? If you played Zelda you would!), I almost feel that it’s inevitable that sometime in the future — some distant time in the future — someone out there will think “We can make that into a movie!” And you know what? I wouldn’t exactly mind.

That is, I wouldn’t mind seeing it adapted if it meant that the filmmakers were able to stick to a few guidelines and avoid the trap that so many other video game films have fallen prey to. And so I offer these rough suggestions as to what needs to be done to make a successful Zelda film. Read more…

“Alien” – The Human Manifesto (2007)

October 25, 2011 9 comments

I’m afraid that I might not get to a review of Alien as I had hoped, but, luckily, I can delve back into my box of treasures (i.e., the file on my computer labeled “School Files” containing everything from my freshman year of high school to my fifth and final year in college) and post this paper I wrote in 2007, my sophomore year (Aw, I was just 20 and a half years old!), about the film’s apparent feminist overtones, complete with MLA-styleworks cited! How about that?!

Wow... That's a bit of an overreaction, don't you think?

I apologize for not having a review, but I will eventually! After all, unlike ghost stories and slasher movies, it’s a film that’s not so specific to the Halloween season, and I have a few more of those to come before the last day of October comes! I hope this proves enlightening, however! Read more…

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