The Entertainment Shack

Apr 18 '10

Wisconsin Film Festival 2010: Sunday

Cell 211

Cell 211 (Celda 211)

An amazingly intense and emotional Spanish movie! Definitely my favorite one of the festival. It's a prison thriller movie in which a guard, on this first day, gets trapped on the wrong side of the prison doors during a massive inmate riot and uprising. The only way to survive is to become one of them. It's also a very graphic movie which makes Shawshank Redemption seem like Sesame Street.

Terribly Happy

Terribly Happy (Frygtelig lykkelig)

A Danish movie about a Copenhagen police officer who is transfered to a small town after pulling a gun on his wife after finding her cheating on him. The locals, however, do not welcome him and would prefer to take care of matters their own way. Sound familiar? I couldn't help but notice the similarities to Hot Fuzz. Although not a really spectacular movie, it was another interesting take on the premise.

listed in: danish, film, madison, movies, spanish, wisconsin film festival |


Apr 18 '10

Wisconsin Film Festival 2010: Saturday

Waking Sleeping Beauty

Waking Sleeping Beauty

This was an amazing documentary covering the Disney Animation Studio struggles during the 80s with some flops and their comeback in the early 90s with movies such as "The Little Mermaid", "Beauty and the Beast", and "Lion King". It closely follows the tension between Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Roy Disney as they struggle for power and attention, as well as the animators who mostly suffer as the result of the upper management. The animators channeled their anger through funny caricatures, some which are displayed in the film. The style of this documentary was unique: It wasn't interview in modern day, followed by archival footage, followed by another interview... the visuals are made up entirely of archival footage from before 1994. A highlight includes Tim Burton's menacing grin toward the camera back when he was a young animator. This documentary is a good complementary film to The Pixar Story, which was at the festival a couple years ago, and for anyone interested in a great comeback story, I would recommend.

Red Riding: 1974

Red Riding: 1974

This was an... interesting... British film, the first part of three, about a news reporter (left, in the photo) trying to track down a serial killer in a city filled with corruption by upper management in the media and police. The film got a bit slow in the middle, but finally came together in the end. I'm also told it all doesn't come together until I watch the other two parts, so I won't cast any final judgement just yet.

A Town Called Panic

A Town Called Panic (Panique au village)

This was an INSANE fast-paced Belgium comedic claymation about a horse, a cowboy, and an indian who live together. I'm not even sure where to start, but could probably best compare the witty dialog and awkward character movements best to Team America: World Police. The packed Orpheum Theater was in stitches by the end of the movie, as you could hear laughter during the entier hour and a half run of this movie. This is an absolute must-watch, and will probably be picking it up again to catch everything I missed the first time around.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Män Som Hatar Kvinnor)

Probably my favorite film from the festival so far this year, and others probably agreed, since it sold out the 1,700 seat Orpheum Theater. This Swedish thriller follows a journalist and a hacker (pictured) who are employed by an old rich man who wants to find his niece that disappeared some 40 years ago. The suspects? The entire Vagner family, which is made up of the type of characters you would expect to find in the game 'Clue'. The two know they are getting closer to unraveling this family mystery as their lives are put more and more in danger. With an exciting ending, the movie keept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. This is also a must-watch, and I'm excited to see if the other two books in the trilogy this movie is based off of also make it to movie form.

listed in: belgium, claymation, disney, film, madison, movies, swedish, wisconsin film festival |


Apr 17 '10

Wisconsin Film Festival 2010: Friday

Memories of Murder

Memories of Murder (Salinui chueok)

This Korean movie is a good old fashioned detective crime movie, as a group of detectives search for a serial killer. The film festival introducer explained this is the "anti-CSI", as they have little to go on except of their instincts (They had to mail a DNA test to USA which took weeks to get back). The tension between the hands-off laid-back detective and the karate-chopping drunk interrogator provides for an interesting conflict. This wasn't a thriller per se, but more of a Law and Order paced movie with some hilarious moments in between. While this movie wasn't anything spectacular, it was enjoyable to watch and I would recommend.

listed in: crime, detectives, film, korea, madison, movies, wisconsin film festival |


Nov 1 '08


Apr 6 '08

Wisconsin Film Festival 2008: Sunday

Saw two films today on the last day of this year's Film Festival.

Welcome to Macintosh

Welcome to MacintoshThis film explored some history of the Macintosh and Apple, along with the impact that the company had made on the computing industry.

Some notable interviews were that of Wayne Bibbens who collects and has thousands of old Apple computers, and Jim Reekes, who created today's startup Mac sound and was a somewhat disgruntled ex-engineer, calling some of the other engineers from his time "retarded".

I wasn't really a big fan of the documentary itself. I've seen a lot of really really well done documentaries, both inside and outside this festival, and this was not at that caliber. My primary complaint is that it lacked focus-- jumping from being organized chronologically to by some random selection of topics. It was also slowly paced... many of the interviews went for several minutes, uncut.

The directors had a Q&A afterwards and acknowledged both issues, letting us know that this wasn't the final cut. They apparently have 8 hours of usable footage and have had difficulties from the beginning deciding what and what not to include. They additionally acknowledged some of the interview segments were long, and hope to cut them down in time along with adding some additional interviews that didn't make this cut. I think if they work on both of these issues before the DVD and final distribution, it has potential to be enjoyed by those who aren't Mac fanatics.

Fermat's Room (La Habitación de Fermat)

Fermat's RoomThis was like a children's version of "The Cube", for those that have seen that movie. The movie is about four mathematicians, trapped together in a room. They were given a PDA where math problems and a time limit pop up. If they didn't solve the math puzzle in time, the walls started to close on each other.

Equally puzzling was how they were related, why they were lured into this room, and who was behind it. What was disappointing was to the extent every question the viewer had about the movie was spelled out at the end. I'm not a big fan of movies that leave you totally wondering what happened, but you can't just explain everything to us either.

listed in: apple, film, madison, movies, wisconsin film festival |


Apr 6 '08

Wisconsin Film Festival 2008: Saturday (2 of 2)

I finished up Saturday by seeing two more films-- suspense films this time.

The Case (Xiang zi)

The CaseThis Chinese film was about a man, who one morning, found a suitcase floating down the river. As he brought it home and opened it up, he discovered it was filled with cut up body parts frozen in ice.

In panic, he struggles to hide the suitcase and its contents... meanwhile his wife thinks all the sneaking around is because he's cheating on her. This misunderstanding takes over the topic of the film, as you start to hear or learn less and less about the suitcase.

The movie was interesting... funny at times... but nothing spectacular. The ending was weird.


StuckThe movie follows the true story of a woman who hits a man which gets stuck in her windshield. The man was having such a horrible and rotten day, it was only natural the next thing that would happen is he gets hit by a car.

The woman, however, is up for a promotion at work. In panic, instead of calling 911 or dropping the man off at a hospital, she ends up driving home to her garage with the man still in the windshield. She then subsequently learns that he's not exactly dead.

The movie soon turns into a race-- can he somehow get help before she "takes care of" him?

The movie was significantly more gory and bloody than I had expected. It's always fun to watch a movie like this with a large crowd, as you could hear the whole audience of a few hundred people all cringe at once.

listed in: china, film, madison, movies, wisconsin film festival |


Apr 5 '08

Wisconsin Film Festival 2008: Saturday (1 of 2)

Today marked my first day of the Film Festival. Unfortunately with classes and work, I was unable to see any movies from the first two days.

To start off Today, I saw two solid documentaries, both which I would call "magical".

The Pixar Story

Pixar StoryThis documentary was a very interesting look into the beginnings of Pixar, and how it has kept going strong. Has anyone noticed how everything that comes out of Pixar is, well, really good? The Incredible, Finding Nemo, Toy Story...

It surrounds a lot around how Ed Catmull, Steve Jobs, John Lasseter (right) came to get together, Pixar's origins at Lucasfilm, and struggles and benefits they have had with Disney... featuring interviews with Steve Jobs and George Lucas among others.

My favorite parts were seeing the early animations that Pixar produced, including Luxo (the lamp) Jr.

The Linguists

The LinguistsThere are 7,000 languages... and one language disappears every two weeks.

That's where David Harrison and Gregory Anderson come in. They are linguists traveling the world trying to document dying languages, despite governmental red tape or political unrest.

The documentary surrounds around specific trips to Siberia, India, and Bolivia (left) as they attempt, more difficult as it seems, to find one of the ten or one of the hundred left that speaks a dying language.

I had a good laugh with the linguists as they discovered a language in India that counts using both base 20 and base 12. "Our favorite number is 93," Anderson said. "It's four-twenty-twelve-one."

listed in: film, languages, madison, movies, pixar, wisconsin film festival |


May 24 '07

Endless Fear

I just wanted to share my final project from my film production class with everyone.

It was filmed using 16mm silent black and white reversal film and a Bolex camera, and edited on Final Cut Pro. It explores how the editing process can build up suspense in a scene.

The clip shows a similar chase sequence 4 times, building on different elements each time (different shots, different angles, faster cutting, sound effects, and music).

Within the sequences, it also explores differences in film speed, depth of field, and hand-held vs tripod shots.

My film was shown in the "Spring 2007 IFVC Show", which showcased some of the best work from all of the film classes in the Communication Arts department this semester.

(The sound syncs up in real life. The sound is a little slow in YouTube. Also, it's silent at first... so don't crank up your speakers or think they aren't working.)

listed in: film, life, school | Comments (3)


Mar 25 '07

The Chase

I present to you the very first film I've ever created. In my media production class I'm fortunate enough to be able to work with actual film (who hasn't done digital video on a computer?), so this was an excellent learning experience.

This was filmed with a spring-wound Bolex camera on 16mm black and white reversal film. It took me 200 feet of film to get all the footage I needed, and took about 5 hours to edit down (by hand... with scissors and tape) to about the 60 foot (two minute) narrative we were required to do.

Editing Flim by Hand Editing Film by Hand

I was more worried about the exposure settings on the camera that some of the continuity of the clip isn't what I would have liked, but it's a fun little film :) It looks MUCH better projected... the film wasn't prepped for digital conversion.

listed in: film, life, school |


Nov 1 '06