Sunday, 31 October 2010

Flavours of the Month: October 2010...


Back to the Future trilogy - had a blast watching the first movie on the big screen for the 25th anniversary, and so I simply had to re-watch the second and third movies on my existing DVD boxset to compliment it. One of these days I'll get the Blu-Ray, but only when it's come down in price.

The Book of Eli (BR) - I plugged my Samsung BD-C5300 Blu-Ray player into the big telly this month and got to see 1080p in full swing, and with Eli's already incredible visuals, it was a visual treat - but as I've said many times before, it's what's in the frame that really matters. A crisp Blu-Ray image is nice, but you could film a turd in HD and it'd still be a turd, you know?

The Crazies (BR) - one of the handful of decent remakes out of the dozens of dreadful ones that we've been assaulted with so far this century, but the lenticular slip cover is the worst one I've ever seen. It's, ironically, low resolution and it barely does anything.

Grindhouse (BR) - the very reason I 'went Blu' in the first place was the announcement of this particular disc. I wanted the new extras and now I have them. A couple aren't new to us Brits (Hot Rods of Death Proof, and the 2006 Comic-Con Panel), but all the content related to the trailers is good stuff indeed. Plus it was great to finally properly see the theatrical cut of the flick.

History of Horror with Mark Gatiss, and horror season on BBC4 - Gatiss' three part documentary has been a real treat, and the selection of related movies put up in conjunction have been pretty good.

Cinemassacre's Monster Madness 2010 - another October and another series of movie reviews from James Rolfe (aka the Angry Videogame Nerd). It became my first thing to do online during October as I sat there eating my breakfast yoghurt.

Survival of the Dead - we Brits got it on DVD back in March, but there was three-fifths-of-sod-all on it extras wise. In August however the Americans got a double disc release, and I finally got around to importing it. The extras aren't as plentiful as that of the double disc R2 for Diary of the Dead, but the making-of documentary is the best 'making-of during production' doc related to a GAR film since Document of the Dead.


CKY - Afterworld

The Book of Eli OST - Panoramic

Rammstein - "Rosenrot"

Green Day - "Dookie" through "21st Century Breakdown"

The Offspring - "Americana" and "Conspiracy of One"


Dead Rising 2 - the game is so much more fun when you say 'sod it' to the story mode and just run around for 72 hours killing as many zombies as you can, levelling yourself up, gaining new moves and combo cards, and just generally causing havoc.

Crysis - with my Quad Core back from the menders, I decided to give it a bit of a challenge, and so I replayed Crytek's 2007 shooter. It still looks great, although you can now tell it's a couple of years old. It never truly thrilled me when I first played it, and it still fails to really thrill me, but it's still a good bit of fun nonetheless.

Editing - as you will have noticed I've been upping a series of musical montages this month:
Sabrina and the Engineer 2008 -
North Berwick 2010 (also in HD) -
Edinburgh 2010 (also in HD) -

The Walking Dead: Vol. 4 - the recently adapted-for-television series of comics continues to hold my attention and it just keeps getting better and better. I can't wait to see the Darabont/Hurd TV show, which finally starts in the UK on November 5th at 10pm on FX.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Edinburgh 2010 video now online...

The last of the musical montages for now, this time the city of Edinburgh. Video shot using a Kodak Zi8 and stills shot using a Panasonic DMC-FX12.

It can also be viewed on YouTube in 720p HD.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

North Berwick 2010 video now online...

Another musical montage, this time for the Scottish seaside town of North Berwick. Video shot using a Kodak Zi8 and stills shot using a Panasonic DMC-FX12.

This also marks my first video on YouTube that you can watch in 720p HD.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Another video coming shortly...

I've edited another musical montage video. Similar to the Snow 2010 video, this one was shot using my Kodak Zi8, and this particular video that I'll be upping to YouTube soon is for the Scottish seaside town of North Berwick (including a few photographs as well). I got the footage whilst on holiday in Scotland a few weeks ago.

I'm just figuring out how I want to render it out at the moment, and I'm having a play with the possibility of rendering out a 720p HD version too.

I'll be doing another such video for Edinburgh soon as well, so keep an eye out for both.

And if you didn't know, I uploaded a video a few days ago - for Sabrina and the Enginner 2008 - if you haven't checked it out yet, make your way to my YouTube channel.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Triple Bill Mini Musings: A complete history of taking meatballs...

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs:
There are three immediate reasons that this is worth seeing - Bill Hader, Bruce Campbell and Mr. T all do voice main characters - but beyond that it's just flat-out entertaining and consistently funny throughout. Quite often an animated feature can forget to be funny in the third act as it tries to focus on tying up the story - but why can't you do that whilst cracking plenty of jokes throughout? This happens with all kinds of comedies come to think of it - in the last act the jokes take the back seat - but not in this flick.

It's brilliantly barmy too, from Steve (the monkey with a thought translator attached to him - "Steve!", "Lick. Lick. Lick.", "Gummi Bears!") to the occasionally exposed eyeballs of the protagonist's father, to the central premise of ever-larger food falling from the sky. It's also interesting to note that it still looks kind of 3D even in 2D. Being that it was crafted with 3D in mind, this still translates really quite well to 2D - giving the visuals (which were already impressive) an extra bit of spice.

Wonderfully weird and laugh-out-loud funny throughout. It lives up to the Pixar template for quality with no worries.

Taking Woodstock:
Rather than focusing on the event itself, Ang Lee wisely looks at everything which led up to - and surrounded - the famous music festival. It's a meandering tale filled with "it's fun to be a hippy for a bit" sentimentality. It's not as gripping or anywhere near as moving as Lee's earlier Brokeback Mountain, but the careful characterisation and moments of out-of-control daftness keep you invested.

A Complete History of My Sexual Failures:
I couldn't figure out - being that I knew nothing about the film - if it was real or fake or a mixture of the two; it's the scene where the idiot takes multiple Viagra tablets and then goes tear-arsing through the city trying to find someone to shag that most made me think "this has to be fictional". A guy - often considered an "arsehole" by his surprisingly long list of ex-girlfriends (oftentimes you have to agree with the women who have ditched this serial dumpee) - decides to make a documentary all about his total inability to maintain a relationship, and why he's always being dumped.

The sheer amount of farce and nonsense that crops up to conveniently provide a structure to this babbling load of mumbling and stumbling makes me wonder if it's all a set-up, or at least a dramatised documentary. Then again, maybe it's all really true and this guy is a complete and utter bugger up who lacks any sense of organisation, cleanliness, self-presentation or social etiquette.

I have to wonder how this shambles of a man got the money to make the documentary in the first place - indeed there's a scene where his furious producer and funder berates him down the phone after a particularly disorganised filming session early on in the production.

I might just go and find out more about this film to see whether it's real or fake (or a mixture of both), because coming at it entirely cold I've got no idea - which certainly proved to be distracting throughout, but when you do allow yourself to just believe that it's real there are some cringe-inducing moments that makes this play out like a real-life version of The Office, but focusing on a shambles of a man lacking any sort of grace or inward thought. It's like a car crash that you can't look away from - and apparently it's true (but I'll check that out just to make sure) - so all-in-all I just sat there with a baffled look of disbelief on my face, but amidst all the distraction and disbelief it does come together quite tidily in the end.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Sabrina and the Engineer video now online...

You can now view the musical montage of footage I shot during the Bewdley portion of the 2008 live street theatre performance of Sabrina and the Engineer.

Some new videos coming soon...

I got my editing rig back from the menders a few days ago, so I can finally catch up with a few videos I've been meaning to cut together since I got back from Edinburgh. The first one (which I completed yesterday) is a compilation of footage from the Bewdley performance of Sabrina and the Engineer (see more about it here). It was split into two performances, this one in Bewdley, and another a week later in Bridgnorth - but I don't have the tapes for the latter yet (but when I do I'll cut together a video from that one too).

I'll also be cutting together a couple of musical montages (like the aforementioned video) for some footage I got using my Kodak Zi8 when I was on holiday in Scotland (kind of like my Snow 2010 video currently on my YouTube channel). There'll be one video for the seaside town of North Berwick, and one for the city of Edinburgh.

It feels good to be doing some editing again. I think I'd fallen into a bit of a creative rut, so hopefully cutting these videos together will give me a boost in that department and then I can get back into Allen Bridge.

In the mean time, I should be uploading the Sabrina and the Engineer video soon - and I'll post about it here.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Back to the Future: 25th Anniversary...

There are some movies that are timeless. One such example is Back to the Future - and whilst I'm at it, the two sequels are just as timeless as the superbly scripted original. Being that I was only a baby when the first movie hit cinema screens, it was a real joy to see this beloved cinematic classic on the big screen.

Back in 1990 I remember seeing the third movie in the trilogy (but I can't remember if I had seen the second in the cinema, or on video, at that point). Seeing the third movie at the cinema in 1990 is one of my earliest cinema going experiences (I also remember seeing Duck Tales: The Movie either the week before or the week after), and so pretty much for my entire life the Back to the Future trilogy has been there as a truly timeless and beloved classic, sitting beside other all-time, all-life favourites such as Ghostbusters (1 and 2), Short Circuit (1 and 2), and Batteries Not Included.

Fast forward to 2010 and me sat with a grin across my face for those two hours as I relived one of my all-time top ten favourite movies ever on the big screen. The vibe in the theatre was buoyant. Young families were there with their children - kids born after the beginning of the New Millennium - and there was a real sense of quiet, enthralled enjoyment in the crowd. It was like an enraptured hush, punctuated by gleeful giggles at some of the razor sharp comedic lines littered throughout the script.

It didn't matter to these kids that the movie was 25 years old, that it was made in the 1980s, that the special effects aren't up to present day standards - the strength of the script, the performances, and the entire direction of the movie sold it to the audience (new and old alike) with conviction.

In short, this is a popular movie loved by countless millions upon millions across the globe, and being that it hit #7 in the UK Top Ten, it just goes to show that a true classic never dies and transcends technical improvements in the realm of filmmaking.

My point is, there has been a real obsession in Hollywood for years now with remakes. Remakes, re-imaginings, re-hashes and re-dos ... mostly of time-tested, long-standing, dearly beloved cinematic and genre classics. However, no remake of a true classic is ever going to come close to the sense of wonder, loving craft, and fan loyalty that the original embodies.

Surely the entire point in re-doing something is because you didn't do it right the first time around. You don't redo something you've done perfectly the first time, because your effort is only going to be wasted on something not as good - and quite often - something lacking the same 'perfect storm' charm of what was so successful in the first place.

True cinematic classics, the milestones of filmmaking history, were so often the films that were dangerous to make at the time. Films that had no certainty attached to them, no brand recognition, no built-in audience - films that were an honest risk to take in the first place. Back to the Future itself didn't have a perfect take-off. Eric Stoltz was replaced after several weeks of shooting, and before the DeLorean there was a time-travelling fridge. It could have missed the mark by small margin, or it could have been a bit of a bugger up - but no - the money men took the risk, the creative minds focused and worked hard, and forever after the audience has reaped the rewards with a fantastic film experience.

A soul-less remake of something that was done correctly the first time has no risk. It feeds off brand recognition like a parasite, there is no danger attached to the project, an audience is built-in and it's almost a sure-thing to rake in big bucks. What's more, the soul-less remakes - the unnecessary remakes - feed on the cinema goer's innate curiosity, that easily overcomes their preference to hold on to that ten bucks instead of seeing something crap. That sense of curiosity has given the remake factory an endless excuse and a strong revenue stream.

Now, not all remakes are bad - if you're remaking a movie that was never a solid classic or a perfect thing, then you're probably going to be able to bring something new to the table. While I was initially very sceptical about the 2010 remake of George A. Romero's good (but not amazing) The Crazies, I discovered it to be just as good as the original - both versions doing different things better and worse than each other. As such, both versions fulfill different purposes and look at the same scenario with different eyes - the viewer is being given an alternate experience that is actually worthwhile.

Similarly, the 2006 remake of The Hills Have Eyes has a third act which easily beats that of the original movie. Sure, for the most part the first two acts are essentially the same thing, but the remake takes hold of that '1950s nuclear test site' angle and runs with it with conviction to give the viewer something worth seeing in conjunction with the original.

Sadly there are only a handful of worthwhile remakes. The majority are pointless and never live-up-to, nor exceed, the standard of the revered originals. Circling back to Marty McFly's time travelling exploits, there are rumours of a remake floating around - whether it's a load of bull, or whether there is some truth in it, I dearly hope it proves to be nothing but a load of hot air.

Back to the Future - a 25 year old beloved classic - has done well for itself at the UK box office, and it'll kill on the up-coming Blu-Ray re-release. How on earth would a remake have any point to it whatsoever? You can never set out to capture lightening in a bottle, and certainly not with such creatively void intentions as the common remake does. So please, for the love of common sense, cinematic and creative decency - leave Back to the Future alone and focus on celebrating what we have been gifted with for 25 years, and what we will continue to be gifted with in the future.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

A rant about headlight use...

I've noticed this more and more in the last several months, but people are driving around - in broad daylight, sometimes blue-skies-and-sunshine - with their flipping lights on, be it side lights, normal lights, or even high beams and fog lights.

Seriously. What is wrong with these people? "Oh it's so bright I can't see! I'd better put my lights on!" There's no sense to it. You often see Volvo's driving around with their lights on during the day, but they have automatic sensors - now, those sensors are either utterly rubbish, or they need to be fiddled with in the on board computer (that's no doubt too complicated for the owner) so they aren't so sensitive.

But everyone else has no excuse. It's like they've all either - A) Seen those berks driving Audi's with those glitzy, blingy running lights around the headlamps, and thought "that looks so good, I'll turn my normal lamps on and then I'll be cool" - or - B) They saw some other moron driving around with their lights on at 4pm and thought "bloody hellfire, it must be dark out, I'd better annoy everyone coming in the other direction" - or - C) They saw someone coming at them with their lights on, found it thoroughly distasteful, and thought "right, if they're doing it, so am I, I'm not going to be an annoyee, but an annoyer" - or - D) They are blissfully unaware their lights are on (headlamps and/or fog lights) and that they look like an utter arse.

Whatever the reasoning, it's properly annoying and everyone should stop it at once. Anyone with their lights on during the day - when it's not very dull and/or rainy conditions (including those with their fog lights on when it isn't foggy) - should think twice about driving their car if they can't operate the lights responsibly.

Another thing that I touched on was those silly little lights Audi are putting on their cars these days. They're terribly 'bling' and while they may be (and are) fine on a swish, sporty, ostentatious and expensive Audi R8 (at night) - as evidenced below - they look stupid on anything else (even more so in the day light).

So please, if you're thinking of getting those lights on anything that isn't an Audi R8, smack your head against a wall for about an hour and then kindly realise you'll look like a berk.

And if you do have your lights on during the daytime - you know, when it's light out and you don't need your headlamps or fog lights on - switch them the hell off, and if you see someone else with their lights on during the day, don't follow suit like a dim-witted lemming. Mankind may be blighted by this tendency to blindly follow-suit, but do try and think for a minute ... something along the lines of "can I, and others, see where I'm going?" and if the answer is "yes, I can see where I'm going and other road users coming at me can see me" then leave the headlights off until it gets dark.

Okay rant over - but this is just one of the things that tends to really annoy me (and others) when I'm out on the roads ... oh and xenon headlights (especially during the day) can get stuffed too.