Tuesday 28 April 2009
Anyway - last night I finished the first draft of Act II of the script - so now I go back over Act II, polish it up, and then do Act III - which will also get polished, and then it'll be finished.
Methinks Act III won't take a huge amount of time to write, especially as the action (so-to-speak) kicks up a gear in the final act - indeed in the last 10 pages of Act II, the action kicked off again (as it had done at intervals throughout) so my fingers started dancing across the keyboard - thus making for faster writing.
The faster the action on the page, the faster I write, and with the right music in the background, it can really get the creative juices flowing - and indeed that was what it was like last night. So here's hoping for continued grooviness in the writing arena ... once it's done I'll be into pimp-the-treatment mode.
Observe & Report...
Is Rogen's weakest work thus far - which is saying something considering he's usually on top form regardless - and you're never quite sure what the movie is supposed to be. I keep reading that it's supposed to be a dark comedy - but it's mostly unfunny, and it's not especially dark.
Now, In Bruges - that's a pitch-perfect black comedy - it's hilariously, uproariously funny (and non-PC), and it is shockingly dark and serious at times, but the swing back to lol-tastic comedy is persistent and skilled.
Observe & Report doesn't have any of that ... sure it raises a few chuckles here and there, and indeed one or two genuine shocks to the system - but the problem is the majority of the film is so scattergun, confused and lacking in the jokes department that you just don't give a stuff in the end.
Farris' lower lip is disturbingly distracting (is it make-up, or did she really have shonky botox/collagen work done?), the mall cop comedy angle is introduced swiftly and ignored equally as swift, the plot is neither one thing nor the other - is it about a mall cop proving his worth by catching a flasher (as the trailer suggests), or is it about a mall cop trying to become a real copper. It's both, and yet it's neither.
It could have really been something worthwhile, but alas it ended up like a slice of bread that looks soft and tasty, but instead it's actually brittle and dry.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop...
You might remember when I first started this blog of my rants, ravings, musings and general updatings, that one of the first flicks I pimped some thoughts on was Wild Hogs - which at the time I nicknamed Mild Hogs - I stick by that name, and indeed Paul Blart: Mall Cop is in the same league.
It's mild ... it's Corma Curry mild ... actually, that's unfair to all curries ... it's the cardboard lids on the foil tins that takeaway food comes in, yes, that mild and indeed bland and indeed not technically edible.
Mind you - in terms of the two mall cop movies out there right now, Paul Blart is the one which is structurally the strongest, and plot-wise the strongest too. This said, you do feel it takes an overly long amount of time to introduce the robbers that chubster Blart has to track down with 'hilarious' fatboy movements and ineptitude.
Indeed, as Total Film alluded to this month, hypoglycemia as a physical fault is far more suited to comedic use than bi-polar disorder ... or perhaps it's the handling ... ... no, hypoglycemia really is better for comedy than bi-polarism...but I bet it's a right bugger if you have either of them, so neither can ever really be that funny - rather, it becomes a tad uncomfortable - so I guess Paul Blart's physical weakness is the least uncomfortable to see lampooned - no doubt helped by the movie's better structuring and pacing.
This all said, it's still not much of a fun time - a mild distraction, but nothing more - and it has to be said that once the crow-barred-in gang of parkour/bmx-ing/skateboarding thieves show up the film seems to become confused with the Extreme Sports Channel. Their inclusion feels pointless, ham-fisted, and whenever they 'act' it simply becomes excruciating.
Also, being such a mild movie, it's all rather predictable (something which Observe & Report wasn't ... for a variety of reasons), so as a result it's all ultimately forgettable.
If the good parts of each film were somehow combined, Dr Frankenstein style, you could probably get a decent 90 minutes out of it, but nope - we get two mild-to-rubbish mall cop movies at once.
Jason Siegel (who I'm still astounded was only just reaching adulthood when he was on-screen in the excellent, but short-lived, Freaks & Geeks) plays a loveably entertaining Venice Beach slacker to contrast Paul Rudd's decent good guy with a distinct lack of male chums. The film is often at its best when they pair up (as they briefly did in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, in which Rudd played the surfing instructor).
Not much to say about it really - it's a solid good laugh throughout, with engaging comedic characters (both primary and secondary), and I'm looking forward to hopefully seeing an extended cut with added bromantics.
Friday 24 April 2009
Scripting - it's continuing to go well, although over the last week/ten days it's been a bit slow ... I was well and truly in the midst of Act II and a little bit stuck, or a little bit consumed by all the Act II elements I needed to include to fill out the meat in the sandwich made out of Act I and Act III bread ... ... ditching that metaphor however, things have picked up again in the last couple of writing sessions - the reason most likely being two-fold:
1) The end of Act II is nearing - the clearing in the trees (yes, a new metaphor, oh dear) is becoming visible.
2) I was writing another bit of horror into the script - I've been pleased that I've been able to litter "moments & sequences of horror" throughout essentially every 10 to 15 pages.
So indeed, Act II is nearing first draft completion stage - then, as per my usual, I'll hook back around and go over Act II all over again - tidying it up, adding elements in, fleshing things out, trimming dialogue and description that isn't needed etc.
Then it'll be a (hopefully) swift slog to finish Act III - and indeed the script itself - then then plan is to write up a full-on treatment for the script, including a few pictures relating to what the script is based on for visual understanding, and then sending said treatments out to various companies to try my luck - if you don't send anything to anyone, you'll never get found.
... ... ... ... ...
Editing - again, it's going well - but there's plenty to do and sometimes certain things take longer to do that you initially thought, and other things go faster. Cutting the films together is fairly straight forward, but it's the prep work - making my notes on the script, editing the voice overs, preparing the footage in various ways - that's what takes the time.
Also, I've been learning a few new tricks in Sony Vegas, thanks to some excellent little video tutorials on YouTube which provide me with the instruction I was after - simple, straight forward, pointing at this & that, which tells you exactly what to do and what to press - and all in a video, not some shoddy, nonsensical help file.
I'm currently embarking on a very complex composite-and-split-screen - all cobbled together using a huge amount and variety of footage, which all needs to be cropped, coloured and generally tweaked.
Progress today for instance, was good - but kinda slow - but only slow because of the complex editing going on ... or perhaps fiddly is a better word ... yes, fiddly.
Anyway - going well, and I'm pleased to be learning a few new tricks - I'd always felt a bit guilty about not knowing enough neat little tricks, and so far thanks to these excellent YouTube video tutorials I've been watching, it's actually rather simple to do some of these new tricks.
Right-o - consider yourselves updated ... was it fun like a festival?
Thursday 23 April 2009
What confused all of us though, were the procession of numpties who insisted on escaping the cinema as soon as the movie cut to the credits - despite a series of clips, which wrap up the plot to the whole movie, that sprung up within seconds. Why pay to see a movie and then deliberately walk out as the final moments are still playing - it's stupid - plus it's fucking annoying when some stupid bastards decide to then stop RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE ROW WHERE WE'RE SITTING, thus blocking our view with their eager-to-sod-off bodies like the right mess of rude shits that they are.
Anyway - aye, it was a top flick and I'd rather fancy seeing a third - Crank 2 was at least equal to Crank, so hopefully that's a good omen for a Crank 3, which would make for a far better action franchise to Statham than the 'one was cool, two were shite' Transporter series.
Over-the-top barely describes Crank 2, but put simply - Crank 2 is like Crank, but it goes far further in all respects and is literally non-stop, full-on entertainment.
Friday 17 April 2009
Anyway, where was I? Ah yes - I'd not seen it for some reason, and had been able to avoid any spoilers (and considering the plot, it's a film that could be easily ruined by spoilers), and knew barely anything about it.
I knew it was David Fincher's work (reason enough alone to see it), I knew it had Michael Douglas in the lead, and I knew it was about his rich guy protagonist getting involved in some kind of "game" that went tits up ... it's about the least you can know about a film before seeing it in this day-and-age really isn't it?
What did I make of it? Fucking great is what it is, a superb thriller with a spiffy final act full of twists, turns and everything inbetween. It's also interesting to see as it really does feel like "the film between Se7en and Fight Club" (the two 'if you liked' titles on the cover in fact). It's yet another film that marks out Fincher as an ex-music-video-director who really is of vast merit.
Alien3 isn't as bad as you remember it, although as a sequel to Aliens, it sucks - but Fincher's original vision, which is mostly provided on the double disc DVD's "assembly cut" is far superior in all respects to the theatrical version (well, it's not as polished of course, but other than that - simply better).
Se7en is an astonishingly good thriller - heck, it's practically a horror movie - intense visual style, a horrifying and gripping story, two enthralling lead performances, and a film which STILL freaks me out to this day ... and it's just so unrelentingly DARK - brilliant.
The Game - now that I've finally seen it, I can definitely say it rocks. I've not been this gripped by a movie in a long while alright ... in fact, one of the more recent times being gripped to such a degree by a film was with Fincher's Zodiac ... a fantastic slice of thriller action.
Fight Club - one of my absolute all-time favourites, and a film (and book ... and author) which has had a deep impact with me (and indeed many males in the 16-35 bracket). Again, the visuals are astonishing, the black so deep and harsh, the adapatation masterful, the pacing spot-on, the performances gripping ... etc etc etc. Much love indeed.
Panic Room - plot wise, it's probably Fincher's weakest film in his catalogue - but as far as home invasion/heist thrillers go - it's expertly and efficiently handled, but it's the technical aspects that (for me at least) really steal the show. The exhaustive 3-disc special edition DVD in itself is a masterwork of information - the technical wizardry involved in the making of the film is amazing, put simply.
Zodiac - back on top form - Fincher's intense attention to detail is abundantly clear throughout, the performances are awe-inspiring, the look and feel is stunning ... basically, it's another one of my top fifty of all time.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - the only Fincher film I've NOT seen ... ... YET ... it's not the sort of film I'd generally go to see in the cinema, as it's not exactly "lads night out" material, but it's a definite DVD purchase without a doubt. As soon as I heard about the plot, I was intrigued - and the more I heard about it, the more intrigued I got, and I certainly look forward to the DVD release (Se7en, Fight Club, Panic Room and Zodiac have all boasted fantastic DVD packages).
Anyway - The Game - thoroughly great. I can't surmise it any better, so why ramble any further - it's testament to the fact that David Fincher is a consistently superb filmmaker.
Wednesday 15 April 2009
But with "FTIO", it's far less pre-planned, so it's a lot more free-form as I'm writing it. Fortunately, the small plotholes I come across are just that - and I have plenty of room to move to fix them - but they really are small things, solved with a couple of lines here, or a few words of dialogue in-or-out here-or-there.
So aye - the script writing is going well - once it's done, the plan is to put together a pitch/treatment and post it off to a few companies here in the UK who have recently put out low budget horror movies.
Anyway - editing wise, it's going well - as I've said before, I'm currently working on an educational DVD about the environment. The editing of the first film (to be tackled, not the first in sequence) is going well, nice and organised and I've been able to have more room to move around and try things, and indeed choose ideas, in the edit due to the increased organisation and efficiency on this project - so it's all good - in fact, I think it's coming out better than the last DVD, and that one has been well received, so that's all good too.
Another good thing is, once I've done another session of editing, this first film to be tackled will be mostly complete (bar credits, music, and title touch-ups for example).
Anyway - consider yourself updated.
Tuesday 14 April 2009
Season 2 is - which when compared to the mere 9 episode run of Season 1, is positively over-long - an even stranger beast than the show in general. It makes for gripping viewing at times, but it also has a recurring use of pretentious plot devices - mainly stories and parables that vaguely relate to the theme of the episode, recounted in an overtly maudlin tone in the narration ... they're cringe-level on the crap-idea scale.
However, then you get a really awesome episode where shit not only hits the fan, but you get some proper Terminator-style action ... rather than an overdose on melodrama and family feuds, which often wrestles for pole position as a story-driving element.
Add in the odd knuckle-chewingly rubbish character - like Derek's Aussie-Asian bit-on-the-side, whose bee-stung-pouty-as-all-hell-lips and constant air of dull misery and manipulation sucks the life out of every moment she inhabits. Then there's the blonde Aussie who is supposed to be a bit of flirt-material for John Connor ... but again, her entire involvement left a bitter taste in the mouth of the viewer - too soap-opera-ish, not enough Terminator drama!
The middle of season two was a real stinker - after the overly long mid-season hiatus it got decidedly ass (I really wish the American TV networks would ROYALLY FUCK OFF screwing up their broadcast schedules with all these preposterous and scattergun broadcast breaks - they're FUCKING ANNOYING and the viewer can't gain any sense of week-on-week momentum).
The real kicker came with the 'funeral wake episode' and the 'dream episode', which were all surrounded by the mind-numbing "three dots" sub-plot (which was so clumsy and pointless, the weak-as-watered-down-piss pay-off moment of realisation left a mark on the superb season finale like a fart in a lift).
Those two aforementioned episodes were the very definition of boring, dull and tedious - is this Terminator, or some crappy soap opera melodrama written by tossers who are too obsessed with crow-barring in "themes" and "story-telling devices"? Certainly the latter with those episodes (and others like it).
Then - thank buggery - the last handful of episodes in the season royally kicked beaucoup arse - finally, it was back to Terminator territory - we not only got to SEE some Terminators, but they DID STUFF, and the plots actually started to MOVE rather than tread murky water.
The last two episodes in particular - not giving away any spoilers - were flat-out fantastic. The sense of speed to the storytelling made for properly gripping viewing, and was truly the show at its best - the crappy story-telling "themes" were limited-to-non-existent, and shit - quite simply - got real. The stakes were raised, a boatload of stuff happened, and it all ended with two scenes which turned everything on its head - and left me THOROUGHLY wanting a third season.
A sad thing then, that - rumour has it - Fox is going to shit-can it. What a silly idea - how about ordering a few more episodes, demand the quality of the last few episodes of season two to be a consistent level of quality for TSCC from now-on, see how awesome it'll get, then order more episodes to fill a third season.
To end it now would be a smack in the face - although the writers, producers and directors should have all been given a massive slap about the face a long time ago so we didn't have to trudge through that mid-season slab of bloated shittery. The last few episodes have been properly bad-ass, and I want more god damnit!
Anyway, Leaving Las Vegas is a flick I'd heard talked about before many times - the Nicolas Cage performance being a common remark related to the movie - and indeed it's a great, if harrowing, performance. For such a dark film, it makes for surprisingly compelling viewing, mainyl due to the strength of the script and the lead performances.
Truly complex characters - in that the viewer feels about them in the same variety of ways the protagonists feel about each other - is the order of the day. You look down on them for their vice-ridden flaws, but you also get swept away by their zest for being when they're high-on-life, and you become saddened by how truly and hopelessly trapped they are by their respective vices - and you find yourself wondering if there is a part of them that wants out, and to what extent.
Compelling, but dark - great script, great performances.
Thursday 9 April 2009
Quite well actually. The first act is totally done, which is nice, and I'm thoroughly into Act II after having a good spurt with it over the last couple of days, clocking up about 17 pages.
I'm staying true to what I was intending to do with it from the odd, but I'm also enjoying the ability to write this one looser than my previous script writing project - my zombie epic "The End", which was planned to quite a level of detail - so that's fun.
However, in these last couple of sessions writing, I did find myself with a handful of plot holes that I had to fix - I think it's certainly of use that I'm "one of those internet forum people", as I have spent a fair bit of my free time over the years debating movies to the nth degree and focussing on small issues in detailed ways ... so, said attention to detail, helps me in my writing - I turn on "forum mode" and dig out inconsistencies and lay down "now wait a minute, how come..." pipe ... ... and then I sort things out when "writing mode" is re-engaged.
Anyway - the plot holes were fixed with a few lines of dialogue added or taken away, or indeed clarified, as well as changing very small things in some of the "action" (description).
But now I'm back into "educational DVD mode", and am heavily into the editing process on the first (to be tackled, anyway) film of this new one about the environment (from a more theological stand point) ... speaking of which, I was barging some of the editing today and it's coming out nicely so far, which is good - so *touch wood* it continues as such.
There's a lot of prep work to be done to get the vast array of footage gathered and ready to be used, the voice overs edited, the script prepared (i.e. me plastering my notes all over it), doing anything special to any images that are required, doing any required composites and so on ... but once all that leg work is done, you can just barge on with the piecing together of the actual film without having to be stopping to get another something ready - basically I like to organise into chronological task chunks ... that's my style, baby.
Anyway - AVGN episodes here I come!
Lesbian Vampire Killers...
You know what, it does what it says on the tin - it's got lesbians, who happen to be vampires, and they get killed. It was never going to be Shaun of the Dead (despite playing to that idea and audience), but it does what it does and as a result it was good for a night out with the lads.
A bit of silly throw away fun with brash, if scattergun, visual flair with a plot so simple you get the whole thing within minutes. Script wise - what do you expect? Well, a few more gags would have been nice - you do wonder, if it hadn't been for Horne & Corden, would this flick have done as well as it did ("well" being a relative term mind you).
It's been said that it's a bit soft on both the horror and the comedy fronts, and I'd have to agree. A few more gags to propel the final act more convincingly would have been nice, and a few more gore gags to elevate the bloodlust to From Dusk Till Dawn-ish levels.
Nothing especially memorable, but like I said - good for a watch and ideal lad's night fodder.
What's there to say really - Statham plus car plus random scrawny euto-trash bimbo plus silly make-do plot equals Transporter 3. A shame really, as the first movie was quite promising in terms of simple-minded action fair - lots of fun to be had with a cool jet-black motor roaring around with Statham doing his "action look" ... but Transporter 2 was utter pants, and Transporter 3 is perhaps marginally better ... but by the thinnest margin.
If you're going to watch a Transporter movie - watch the first one.
Aye - late on this one as well, but whatever - it's nothing to get fussed about sadly. After the sheer bucket of awesome that was Sin City (the movie), it was a case of high hopes for The Spirit - but evidently, it definitely was Robert "do everything" Rodriguez who brought the directing talent in Sin City.
Frank Miller - he's a talented guy - but it's painfully obvious with his solo directing gig of The Spirit, that he just doesn't quite have the movie directing "thing".
No doubt the PG-13 rating was a major problem with this flick, it simply does feel like "Sin City for tweens" from start to finish, and the story feels too jumbled for those (of which there are no doubt many) who have never heard of "The Spirit" before. The film jumps right into the middle of it all, and only explains - sort of - about mid-way through, what on earth is going on - a major mistake, quite frankly...tacked onto the distinct softening on the sex and violence front. Regardless of what the source material was like, the movie just DOES feel neutered - and it's a damn shame.
It looks nice - albeit basically identical to Sin City, which is perhaps another downside - but over-the-piece it just doesn't grip at all. There are moments of kick-assery, but it's really not that convincing throughout from the out-set, and I say again - it's a damn shame. It was shaping up to be feckin' schweet ... but alas, no dice.
Roll on Sin City 2 methinks.
Very Bad Things...
I remember seeing an advert for this flick - absolutely YEARS ago - on the back of a film magazine. I remember the line-up of characters (mainly a procession of "oh that guy from..." sorts), but I never got around to seeing it - but at last, I dipped into it the other day.
Kind of like U-Turn, in that it's one of those movies where "shit" simply gets progressively "more fucked up" for the protagonist(s) as the running time flows on.
It just goes to show really - when you accidentally kill a hooker in Vegas - just call the fuckin' cops, for crying out loud! Kinda like "Swingers" ... if it had gone REALLY badly in "Vegas, baby!" ... indeed.
Now if you don't mind, I'm off to watch yet more Angry Video Game Nerd episodes online - I've been a fan for quite a while, but I only saw it sporadically - thanks to His Name Was Jason getting the wind up me to see more AVGN stuff, I'm now methodically going through them ... but backwards ... to replace my "YouTube time", as I call it.
Wednesday 1 April 2009
"Making applied ethics, relevant, interesting and thought provoking for teenagers is not an easy task, but this DVD manages to do all three. An excellent multi-media teaching resource and well worth the price of a few text books"
Andrew Pearce, Principal Religious Studies ExaminerI'd also been hearing from Joe about comments he's been given about the DVD, and how people have been impressed with the over all presentation of it - i.e. it's not just some boring trudge through facts and figures, visually speaking - instead it's visually engaging.
I'm pleased that other people are seeing that, as from my side as the dude who filmed and edited it, I wanted to make it visually appealing, as I knew full well from my own experience in school, how boring these educational videos can be if they're not engaging.
From students as well, we've heard good things about it - the visual style changes frequently throughout, in that there's always something new to look at. We mixed a variety of things together, photographs, stock footage (from many eras of public domain videos, or the excellent Global Cuts website), and things we filmed - which included students in a group debating directly about the issues being discussed (a great way to help the students in other schools get that start for their own discussions, rather than everyone sitting quietly not wanting to say anything - again, I've seen that when I was at school - students just need that little push), and also filming "scenarios" as I liked to call them.
Scenarios (made up of stuff we filmed, and using a wide variety of disparate stock footage) that related to the issues at hand, and which were presented in different ways, some of which were quite striking from a visual stand point - lots of colour, lots of imagery, and liberal use of compositing - or, for the laymen out there, simply getting two layers of video and putting one on top of the other to create an interesting look for the segment.
And of course - for these scenarios - Magic Bullet really came in handy. I'm a big proponent of colouring video, and it really does help make the visuals more engaging - if you can keep the students looking at the screen, they'll keep their ears listening to what's being said.
It certainly seems that we have succeeded in keeping the students engaged with this Sex & Ethics DVD, so I'm quite chuffed that it's doing well. The link for it can be found on the right. www.ethicsonline.co.uk
You never know, they might just say "hey, that was cool, have this [insert something awesome]" - hehe, daft I know, but fuck it - why not contact them? It's the cost of a stamp, maybe someone might be impressed with the ideas and get in touch - the point is - "who knows?" - and precisely because of that, you've gotta at least use a stamp.
Speaking about videogames, I did always think that being a cut scene director would be pretty cool. The jump in cutscene quality in GTA IV was huge, and just made the whole thing feel far more cinematic and drove the story on deeper than any of the other GTA's beforehand.
Anyway - random post, for a random thing.
Now - off to more enviroment dvd stuff, and quite possibly finishing off the second draft of the first act of "From The Inside Out".