Sunday 30 September 2007

Evil Dead Trilogy - editing experiment...

I was watching the DVD audio commentary for "Army of Darkness" a while back and Bruce Campbell wondered aloud whether it was possible to edited the three Evil Dead movies together so that they would appear as one long movie, Sam Raimi said he was sure it could be done, and as I was a bit bored of a Sunday afternoon, I decided to do this editing exercise myself.

I ended up having to film the scenes from my computer monitor, which wasn't ideal - especially for sound - but it had to be done. There were technical issues going straight from my DVD player, and I also ran into problems trying to use the actual .vob data files from the discs themselves, so I said fudge-it, and just plonked my camera in front of my monitor and filmed it that way. The audio isn't too bad, I've certainly heard worse elsewhere, but nevermind. The video is a tad cropped around the edges, but nothing major at all and it's barely noticeable/if not nigh-on-impossible to notice when casually viewing. There was one point where I'd have liked to go 2 frames in one direction, but I didn't have another 2 frames of audio to help me out, so I just said "fudge-it" again, but it's rather good - even I say so myself.

Anyway, point being, I edited the piece together this afternoon, it's on my YouTube channel (still processing when I wrote this), enjoy - because I certainly enjoyed cutting it together as a fan of the films and as a film student (okay, graduate).

Another one bites the dust...

Yep - another film watched, this time "Blue Velvet". Far easier to watch than "Eraserhead", which as I've recently said, took me months to get through because it freaked me out so much. This time around, I didn't fully understand what was going on, but I think that's part of the point, you're not supposed to know all the details - essentially putting you in Jeffrey's shoes.

I especially liked how some scenes were staged like a play, particularly those in Dorothy's apartment as we spy on her (with Jeffrey) from the living room cupboard. I also rather liked the seeming distinction between dreams and nightmares - the whole Dorothy/Frank part of the film appearing like a nightmare (or perhaps just a gritty real-life), and the time before and after that appearing like a dreamy real-life (or perhaps that was in some state of un-reality)'s certainly got me scratching my head, but it was a beautifully shot film and Angelo Badalamenti's music was superb.

I don't think I'm a big David Lynch fan, but I most certainly greatly respect his work and appreciate its place within cinema.

Anyway, I've also gone back to re-view George A. Romero's "The Crazies", it's not perfect, but I think it's a great film nonetheless.

Otherwise, I see that fellow blogging buddy Hellsing (Danny) has finally gotten old, he's finding things he once enjoyed or tolerated now just annoying. Ahhh, it happened to me and now it's happened to's all a part of growing up. Once upon a time I used to not be bothered by MTV or MTV-2, now I frequently find them inane and annoying, particularly the presentation and many of the shows they put up (well, apart from the ones I like, but even then I have my fair share of gripes).

It's strange how just a couple of extra years puts you somewhere completely different from where you were seemingly only me now compared to me at graduation...times move on and things change I guess...

And on that ponderous note, it's time for lunch...

Thursday 27 September 2007

Movie musing in disguise...

Okay, no disguise at all, but rather my thoughts on "Transformers", the Bay movie version.

Now, first off, I never watched "Transformers" as a kid, so all that stuff is completely lost on me - I was always about "The Real Ghostbusters" instead.

Over all I thought it was pretty good fun, lots of wham-bam-Bay-action, plenty of quippy smart-arse one liners, Megan Fox and finally Shia LaBouf (or however you spell it) pimping some solid acting. I certainly see the influence of Steven Spielberg, the whole "boy's first car" vibe really does help pull the first hour together and give it an extra layer, a bit more meaning than just a bunch of robots shit-kicking each other. It certainly kept me entertained for the rather hefty duration, even if I did pause it a few times to answer nature's text message or grab some more munchies.

Things I thought were daft though - while cool, the Mustang police car was stupid, no police car is a cool-arse Mustang, and nobody seemed to care. That stupid, nattery little robot thing that snuck onto Air Force One and Megan Fox's handbag was annoying and needlessly silly, all that garbled 'dialogue' to accentuate it's comic movements, it felt really out-of-place and step with the whole movie...although, it fit right in with one of the Autobots pissing on that Sector Seven guy ... Bumblebee was it? It is Sector Seven, right? I'd look it up, but I've got bloggers laziness, so Wikipedia-it-up yourselves, ha!

Oh, and Michael Bay's continued fetish for helicopters just left me laughing, the first ten minutes being so focussed on said flying transport that it put all previous Bay helicopter shots to shame ... well, maybe not those in The Island, that was just OTT.

As for the smart-arse dialogue, all the talk about "Sam's happy time" did, I'm possibly afraid to admit, left me chuckling heartily at the screen - like I said before, it's a good, fun movie - and the snappy one liners just added to that summer blockbuster appeal.

Also, as previously stated, I never watched the original cartoon, so I've no idea whether the robots' dialogue was true to the source or not (although no doubt the hip-hop-voiced Autobot is a new change) ... most likely not. I guess it's difficult moving a franchise to a new medium, especially a summer blockbuster from a much-loved kids show from the 1980s, which would have been aiming for a much more concentrated market - in other words, no need to show Megan Fox bending around under a car bonnet.

Regardless, as a slam-bang summer action blockbuster, "Transformers" certainly delivers...although no doubt the died-in-the-wool fans were left disappointed, which is hardly surprising, such modernisations are only going to be successful with either the switched-off or the franchise-n00bs.

Wednesday 26 September 2007

Another slew of new movie viewings...

Well, it's been a while since my last round up of new flicks I've recently checked out, so here goes with as little ramble as possible:

"The Host" - a foreign monster movie without (for a lot of the time anyway) a monster. At least it isn't a guy in a suit falling on styrofoam buildings, but I felt it was overlong, the central plot being a bit too thin and a bit too "meh" in general. I appreciate what it's trying to do, or what it's there to do, but I personally wasn't bothered by it in general. It was okay, but yeah...

"Ocean's 13" - it's certainly not as good as the first in the new-version-chise - but it kicks the nuts right off "Ocean's 12" which was just a bunch of stuff happening in Europe, with the majority of the so-called 12 getting nary-a-look-in...which was partially the case with 13 as well, but nowhere near as much. It felt much more like the first, even if Pacino was kinda wasted for the most part (no real "GREAT ASS!!!" type moments here I'm afraid). Over all, it's fun, it's intensely stylish (if only more Hollywood fair was pieced together this excitingly) and you can kick back to it quite easily, if you liked the first you'll no doubt dig this one...but leave "Ocean's 12" well alone, it's just cack...stylishly edited cack though.

"1408" - John Cusack = awesome. New Stephen King adaptation = awesome. "1408" = alright, a bit up & down. It starts well, and it continues that way at least up until the half-way point, perhaps a little further. But it is as soon as all the really obviously supernatural stuff starts happening (i.e. the stuff beyond a crazy alarm clock and scary window), that it starts to crumble a bit, taking a bit of a detour, and then re-adjusting to a solid-enough ending (part of which I found to be quite visually arresting, many kudos going to Cusak's performance). Definitely worth a watch, not superb, but there are far worse King adaps out there...although "The Shining" this is not.

"Knocked Up" - what can I say? Absolutely balls-out hilarious, maybe a little less-so than "40 Year Old Virgin", but probably only because this film is a chunk more sentimental (but not sickeningly so, rather in a growing up & moving on kinda manner). The extended version is definitely better than the theatrical (same as with "40YrOV"), because there is a decent dollop more in the way of irreverent guy-gang trash talk and dick jokes. Seth Rogen is a LEG-END, nuff said. I absolutely cannot wait to see "Superbad" - NICE!

Yes, I know it seems like all I do is watch movies all day, but I don't ... I play Xbox too! :)

Tuesday 25 September 2007

Surfing through new viewing adventures...

Or, in other words, me catching up with films I've had recorded off TV on video for years and have only just got around to watching! It's always the way, too many movies, not enough time to watch them all...and inevitably you end up with a bunch unwatched (I've even got "The African Queen" on DVD which I bought years ago but still haven't watched, hell, a friend borrowed it and watched it years ago and I've still not sat down and checked it out).

Anyway, first up it was "The Thing From Another World", and for what it is (guy in a suit, loosely based on the source story), it's actually pretty good fun, took me back to my Uni days watching old black & white films...obviously, Carpenter's rendition is infinitely superior (and still utterly terrifying), but the old rendition was quite enjoyable...I don't know why it took me so long to get around to watching it, I had it polished off in no time (despite it not being the longest film anyway, sometimes it can take me a while to get through a film I've been putting off for a long time, but not in this case...I would have seen it straight through had I not had some filming to do elsewhere that day...)

Next up, and on the same videotape, "The Wild Bunch", another film I'd been leaving for ages unwatched. Well...I think I'm more a "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly" kinda guy personally, although when the action kicks off in TWB, I have to admit it's rather spiffing and I certainly do appreciate it's place within Westerns but also Western Cinema...mind you, I prefer "Straw Dogs" in terms of Peckinpah (a film I must re-watch sometime soon, much like "The Crazies", which I've been hankering for of late...and yes I know, that's a George Romero movie...but you know what I meant regardless).

Then - "Chopper" - I'd had this recorded for me whilst I was away at Uni, if memory serves, and FilmFour were doing one of their free weekends (back when they had cash and were a extra-fee-based service). Eric Bana - brilliant in this - a charming nutter brought to life. Not really sure whether there was much over all point to the film, or over all arc to the story, it almost felt like a collection of moments or sections of time in the title character's life (yes, I know he's real, but again, you know what I meant). Fortunately it was of mere running time, so it didn't out-stay it's welcome.

And finally - and currently - "Blue Velvet". I've often seen the same bit on Sky (with Kyle Mc-thingymy in the cupboard watching Hopper go nuts), and once again, never really got around to sitting down to watch it. So far I'm 30 minutes in, interesting...but I'll have to finish it off before I'd even attempt to comment, not that I predict I'll really understand most of what is going on - take "Eraserhead" for example. I famously took a good 2 or 3 months to actually finish the film, watching it for no longer than 10 minutes at a time because it wigged me out so much, it was just too much weirdness and freakiness and that damn bird-person-baby-thing wailing just sent me off every time...a wailing baby just creeps me out man *picks nose* ... (if you didn't get that vague reference, pfft, whatever mate, yeah? lol...)

So yes...I must try and crack on with "The African Queen" as well, and get that return-viewing of "The Crazies" done and dusted as well...

Such a hard life isn't it? YARGH!!!

Wednesday 19 September 2007

Run, Fatboy, Run!

Went to the cinema last night and checked out the new Simon Pegg film and I have to say it was great, really funny. It had the entire audience laughing in unison, and at one point all going "ewwww!" (the blister scene).

Sure, some elements of the story are a bit cut and paste or tried & true, but it's a comedy so who cares - it's a feel good flick, so who cares if you already know how it's going to end. There's really only one way for it to end, and that's positively, because if it ended on a down note - who the hell wants to see that flick?!

Also, David Schwimmer proves that he's more than "Ross off Friends". Heck, he'd already shown a different side with "Big Nothing", I mean - would "Ross off Friends" throw a dodgy-porn-purveyor into a septic tank? No - so give the man a break, he did a solid job directing Run, Fatboy, Run.

All-in-all, a solid flick, lots of fun and really up lifting. I'll give it an equally solid 4 stars out of 5.

Saturday 8 September 2007

Death Proof - extended

Just saw this recently (I'd seen Grindhouse in it's proper form a while back, downloaded it as such as soon as I heard we in the UK were getting fucked over by the Weinsteins).

Anyway, I dug it then, although after the rather fast paced and violent Planet Terror, it's a real gear change, and probably should have gone first in the double-bill line up. Dug it so much in fact, I'd rather like to see it in the cinema-proper when it finally limps over the white cliffs of Dover.

Anyway, saw the extended cut and I really dug it, more than last time. The new footage doesn't add much more Stuntman Mike, but it does add more - and that's the point, both of Mike but also the girls (mainly the girls I guess). Anyway, the dialogue isn't as superb as Tarantino is known for, but I duno, I think that's become a "buzz argument" over the film, but watching it again I appreciated it more and it did feel like classic Tarantino, and what's more, it pulled me in and I actually got into the vibe of the two sets of girls' stories - night out on the town, and in search of a thrill ride.

One annoying thing though, the first half has a lot of the grindhouse scratches and glitches and reel changes and splices and such - but then this almost completely vanishes in the second half, which is really, really, really odd. Is this just an oversight? Is this to suggest it's two movies about the same psycho-tagonist spliced together? Notice that at the beginning the "original" title for the film is shown before it cuts to white text on black renaming it "Death Proof".

Anyway, aside from that one annoyance, I totally dig the film. Out of DP and Planet Terror, it's the one which feels the most like a true grindhouse film. It's fairly simple things that would be do-able on a lower budget (mainly talking, "normal" car stunts and some gore), whereas Planet Terror has a lot of stars (more than Death Proof I'd say) and has loads of gore, lots of big action set pieces and so on - basically, Planet Terror wouldn't be do-able on a grindhouse budget, but Death Proof feels as if it could be (aside from the odd crane or dolly shot which take it beyond the usual grindhouse constraints).

Basically, take a film like "Don't Look in the Basement", it's mainly talking with little action, but it's entirely advertised around the when you look at the grindhouse flicks of the era, and then look at Death Proof, it really does feel like that sort of experience...whereas Rodriguez took certain ideas and then modernised them, while Tarantino tried to emulate low budget exploitation flicks of 30 years ago.

As for the film itself, brilliantly edited by Sally Menke, it really completes Tarantino's vision (I don't think his flicks would be as good without her on board, and similarly his films are probably the best she's worked on...or at least I could imagine her saying that in an interview). The choice of music is typically Tarantino and really works well within the movie, to the point that you feel "this song was made for this scene", not just picked at random. It feels like a cultural experience, many vibes and styles brought together to accompany the on-screen goings-on.

It could do with the odd improvement, and more Stuntman Mike...but considering the sort of films QT emulating, it makes a lot of sense in how it was put together, almost to nerd-riffic proportions, like a checklist of genre themes, styles, do's and don'ts.

All in all, I really dig it.

All said and done though, I ain't buying squat of either DP or PT until they pimp out a proper DVD, with the film as-it-should-be, including the extended stuff allowing you to view 'as-you-want' (a bit like they did with Sin City) and more extras than the separate discs are offering. I'm not ditching cash only for it to be wasted in favour of a better edition a few months later, and I'm sure other Grindhouse fans think the same thing.

21 hour Friday...,,.aspx

My second time working for Chris Smart of Silva Productions was yesterday, filming a performance of "The Handless Maiden" by students and Opera performers at the Trinity College of Music in London, a bloody long day indeed, so here's the breakdown of my bloodshot-eyed-day:

Thursday night - watch about 35 minutes of BASEketball after getting hot under the collar for it after hearing Trey Parker and Matt Stone talk about it during various South Park commentaries that I'd be listening to over the last couple of weeks (I'd seen the film a few times before). Then two hours of comedy genius. Mock the Week and Saxondale on BBC2, then Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip on More4 (why-oh-why did they cancel this show in America, are they feckin' idiots?!)

Then odd to bed to attempt an early night at just after 11pm (I'm definitely a night owl sort - or at least, not an early riser), but come midnight I still wasn't asleep. Then, the horrid noise of my mobile phone giving me a wake up alarm at 4:50am (I need plenty of time to warm up for a day, especially one this early starting and long in duration). I was surprisingly quick to get up, probably because I'd barely gone to sleep and had maybe scratched together a frequently interrupted and unsettled 4 hours of kip (I'm the sort of person who just simply needs 8 hours).

I watch the rest of BASEketball and get breakfast, grumbling at the fact it isn't even dawn yet. The sun does come up and I do final equipment checks before getting picked up by Chris at 7am. We barge it to London - a city which I famously despise and resent in equal measure, a city which I've not been to in about 6 years. The last 12 miles of the journey takes TWO HOURS due to London traffic and a SatNav which can't cope with dense urbanisation and is about 10 to 20 seconds behind real time, so wrong turns aplenty in London.

What a hodge-podge London is. We had to drive through most of it, and not the glamorous side, at best the normal and mundane, at worst, the broken down and depressing side - full on East Enders, haha. Traffic and people within the traffic are officially insane, like a diluted version of India - people just barge out into traffic whether they're in a vehicle, on a bike or on foot. I'm entirely glad I wasn't driving.

We get to the Trinity College of Music, on the South bank of the Thames just after 12pm and set about getting our gear set up and meeting the people involved in the project. We do some interviews in the afternoon, and then the main performance kicks off just after 6pm - an Opera, performed and crewed by a mix of able-bodied and disabled folk, a story about a poor family who accidentally sell their daughter to the devil. Afterwards there was a Q&A and a demonstration of how a Wii-mote was used to provide signals to one of the blind performers to guide them in their movements around a pre-set track.

After all that, we have to pack up the lights and then set off at around 9pm for a less-than-trouble-free journey out of London, although this time getting to see the posh side and some of the sights - The Oval, the place where they're doing the BBC Proms (forget the name now - Albert Hall?), the Apollo, Parliament & Big Ben, the West End, Harvey Nicholls and so-on.

A long-ass journey later, I arrive home just before 1am. I proceed to cover up those bloody lights on my new extension lead which have been belching light out into my room for the last week (I kept forgetting to cover them up). I then decompress, watched a bit of Gone in 60 Seconds on ITV2+1 and then nodded off around 1:50am for a nice, long kip-in until 11:15am.