The Entertainment Shack

Nov 21 '11

 

Aug 1 '11

 

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 |

 

Mar 7 '10

 

Jan 25 '10

 

Nov 9 '09

 

Jul 24 '09

 

Jul 14 '09

Public Enemies

Public Enemies

F

Public Enemies. What a horrible movie. I don't even know where to start. Poor character development, bad writing, bad acting, slow editing. But none of that bothered me as much as the actual physical quality of the film. I'm pretty sure they filmed it on one of the new iPhones, or something. The sound echoed horribly, there was no depth in the shots, the quality was poor, the lighting was awful (are they in a football stadium or was that supposed to be the moon light?), and what was with all the shaking? Was the cinematographer having a seizure?

If you (heaven forbid) decide to go pay $10 to see the movie, I would hope the only reason is to see how many Wisconsin locations that they filmed at you can recognize.

listed in: movies, review, wisconsin | Comments (1)

 

Apr 5 '09

Wisconsin Film Festival 2009: Saturday

Mixed day for movies today:

Shorts: Animations

I don't know what happened this year, but experimental nonsense movies seem to have crept their way into the Animations category this year. I had a difficult time staying awake during this first session of my day. Of the ones that didn't suck, were:


Lake Tahoe (¿Te acuerdas de Lake Tahoe?)


A movie about a boy trying to fix his car that he crashed into a pole after learning that his father died. It was an alright movie... it's been growing on me the more I reflect upon it. Kinda Napoleon Dynamite-ish. Not in the sense of the humor, but the style of the storytelling. Not the typical story structure. It was a fun movie, but could have been edited a bit tighter.


Vogelfrei


Four different directors made short stories surrounding the four different definitions of 'Vogelfrel', all using the same character. A bland boring character that they never built up enough for me to care about. I also fell asleep near the end.


Ghajini (गजनी) - 2008 Version


Wow, wow, wow. What a film. I loved it. Ghajini comes from India's "Bollywood" (or whatever today's politically correct term is; as an Indian professor of mine pointed out that this word was offensive) I don't know how else to describe this except, "Action Musical". Like, imagine James Bond blowing up a building, kicking ass, taking names, then breaking into a musical number in a bright neon colored shirt. Yeah, that's now this went.


And I do have to applaud this movie, because it's the first action movie that I've seen in a long time that I've given any care to the characters whatsoever. (Unlike, for example: Transporter) Granted, they were fortunate enough to have 3 hours to do it in... which would never fly with an American action flick. (Transporter is just around 90 minutes) And those 3 hours flew by. There were no slow spots throughout the movie, and I'd totally watch it again, despite its over-the-top music and cinematography. And I mean, over-the-top.


(Also: Apparently this is mostly copied, and without credit, from Memento, which I never saw. I'm curious, though, if seeing it will change my opinion of this)

[Film's Website]

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

 

Apr 4 '09

Wisconsin Film Festival 2009: Friday

Saw two great films at the Wisconsin Film Festival last night:

Tokyo Sonata (トウキョウンナタ)

The movie starts out with a typical Japanese family of four... a business man, stay-at-home mom, elementary-aged child, and college aged son. Things start to unravel when Ryuhei (the father) loses his job and decides not to tell the rest of his family. As the movie unfolds, we find out that he isn't the only family member with a secret they're not sharing.

It started out a lighter comedy, and I thought it turned darker pretty quick. My more cultured friends called it an in-your-face social commentary on the modern Japanese family, although I didn't pick up on that. Minus some over-the-top emotions near the end, I really enjoyed the movie. The beginning is pretty hilarious, and while the second half looks bleak, the director was nice enough to give you a glimmer of hope at the end.

[Movie Website]

Food, Inc.

This was a pretty typical hippie anti-corporation documentary, like I've seen every year, but I really enjoyed it. First off, I want to say the title sequence (where they show the beginning credits) was extremely creative and very well done, featuring food labels with the production staff's names.

The movie's biggest points were this: The food industry is run by a very small handful of large corporations, and, Monsanto (I think mentioned negatively in every single anti-corporation documentary I've seen) runs the FDA, and this is all really really really really bad.

The only organization or company to be portrayed positively was Wal-Mart, interestingly enough, for their willingness to buy more and more free-range and organic food. (Although, not as much for ethical reasons as for the profit from consumers now demanding food produced more healthy)

It's definitely worth the watch, as long as you're willing to accept your food isn't made by 'Joe the Farmer' like the packaging leds you to believe.

[Movie Website]

listed in: food, japan, madison, movies, wisconsin film festival |

 

Mar 15 '09

 

Nov 14 '08

James Bond: Quantum of Solace

James Bond: Quantum of Solace

B

So, I might be the only one, but I thought the Quantum of Solace was much better than Casino Royale. Casino Royale was bit to slow for me, and Quantum of Solace really picked up the pace. It has all the car/boat/plane chases and ass-kicking we have all gotten to know and love, without the cheesiness or horrible special effects, of, say, Die Another Day. Plus the opening sequence and song was really sweet. James Bond's character may have not been as witty as Casino Royale, but his innovative use of objects for weapons and fancy espionage-ness makes up for it... plus I still got plenty of laughs. Definitely check it out. Let me know what you think.

listed in: james bond, movies, review | Comments (2)

 

Sep 13 '08

Burn after Reading

Burn after Reading

B

This is probably one of the funniest movies about absolutely nothing I have ever seen, and kept me laughing throughout the ending credits. The actors have a lot to contribute to this, and had a similar feel to the "Ocean's" movies... just a bunch of actors goofing off and having fun while they happen to be making a movie. Although that makes me unsure if it was the writing that was actually good, and if it would have worked with unfamiliar actors I haven't seen in other roles. Regardless, I'd see it again.

listed in: movies, review |

 

Sep 3 '08

 

Aug 25 '08

The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight

A

Alright, so, I finally saw The Dark Knight. Yeah, I'm behind in life, give me a break.

I was skeptical. I thought it would be yet another bad action flick. I was never a fan of the other Batman movies, and I was afraid of getting let down like I did with Wall-E.

Was I ever wrong. It blew me away. At no time did I feel the dialogue or special effects were cheesy *cough* spider man 3 *cough* At no time did I ever feel bored or unengaged. It was a very solid movie all around.

Now, if I would have programmed my website to support half-stars, as far as an action flick goes, I would put it a tad underneath The Bourne Ultimatum. But it's up there.

listed in: movies, review |

 

Jul 5 '08

 

Jun 28 '08

Wall-E

Wall-E

C

Wall-E was a good movie, don't get me wrong. But I had such high expectations that I was a bit disappointed. I liked the idea of the movie-- the loud-and-clear warning that if we don't change our habits, our world might end up like that in Wall-Es. Wall-E was funny, and the animation was 'pretty'. The movie started out great, but I became distracted by irrational actions by characters that hadn't been introduced enough yet, a physics engine going bad somewhere halfway through the movie, and the climax of the movie came and went faster than I could blink. Come on Pixar, you could have done better than that. And what was up with all the Apple product placement? Step away from the animators, Steve Jobs.

listed in: movies, review | Comments (1)

 

May 19 '08

Loose Cannons

B

Loose CannonsAre you still in Madison? Good. Go see this movie at The Orpheum playing through Thursday. Loose Cannons is a hilarious student-created feature film set right on the UW-Madison campus. It features Chuck Sypholis, part of the student-run "Campus Security" on his hunt for Spencer Huntley and his gang, the "Freshman 15" who stole the football team's playbook and plans to sell it to Minnesota. Filled with witty jokes, kung-fu, and gun fights, this movie is an enjoyment all around. Watch the Trailer at YouTube.

listed in: movies, review | Comments (1)

 

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.

Stuck

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 |

 

Mar 25 '08

In Bruges

In Bruges

A

Refreshingly different, and really funny. It reminds me a little of Hot Fuzz, not because of the British accents, but because it starts off as a comedy and takes an unexpected 360. It was simply a really enjoyable to watch. And did I mention funny? A word of warning: this movie is not for the politically correct.

listed in: movies, review |

 

Mar 23 '08

2008 Movies to Watch

I'm making this list here because otherwise I'll forget. Anyone know of a good movie tracking website kind of like Goodreads where I can make a "to watch" list? A lot of friends use Flixster, but I think it's an awful website.

There are a couple others I forgot, but I'll update this as I remember.

And here is what I'll be seeing at the Wisconsin Film Festival:

listed in: movies, to-do |

 

Mar 19 '08

Michael Clayton

Michael Clayton

C

Speaking of George Clooney, I realized I never wrote a review for this movie. I didn't really like it. It was in a Kill Bill-esque mixed-up-time format, which worked well for that action movie, but just makes an already complicated legal battle even more complcated. And for a thriller, it got very slow at points. Now that I've read the Wikipedia summary and understand what was going on, I almost want to watch it again, but fear I might fall asleep.

listed in: movies, review |

 

Mar 16 '08

 

Feb 24 '08

 

Feb 16 '08

 

Feb 6 '08

There Will Be Blood

There Will Be Blood

B

I really enjoyed this movie. It's on the longer side at 2 1/2 hours... but I didn't notice. The movie sucks you in, and you get involved in this journey. And soon you're part of this journey, and forget that you're in a movie theater. How long has it been since you've seen a film like that? The actors were spectacular, and worked very well together. The story is unique, and takes some turns that you don't expect.

If you're in Madison-- you can still see this and the other 4 Oscar nominated films for 'Best Picture' at the Sundance Cinemas.

listed in: movies, review |

 

Jan 18 '08

Cloverfield

Cloverfield

C

Absolutely nauseating.

I obviously knew the style of the movie from the trailers... but I thought it would be more like "The Office", filmed with steady-cams but faked to look hand-held. Nope. They strapped a cheap consumer camera on somebody's head and had them run around like a crazy lunatic.

The first 15 minutes of character building almost seemed a waste, as 45 minutes in I wanted to see the characters die so the camera would stop moving.

I also was expecting the main part of the film to be "wrapped", like the plot line of the treasure hunters before and after "Titanic"... but Cloverfield is basically somebody sticking in a lost tape found in Central Park and hitting play. You will only find out what the characters find out, and nothing more.

Three stars for cinematic creativity and spectacular special and visual effects, but that's about it. If you haven't seen it yet, wait until it comes out on DVD and watch it on a small TV, otherwise you'll come walking out of the theater feeling sick.

listed in: movies, review | Comments (2)

 

Jan 16 '08

Juno

Juno

B

Just go see it. Minus a very awkward 5-minute segment, this was an excellent movie. I laughed so long at some of the one-liners, that others in the theater started laughing again. The cast worked really well together, and Ellen Page, who plays Juno, has quite the spunk. I also really enjoyed the music-- but the fact that you have to buy the entire album on both Amazon.com or iTunes to get the main songs, is really lame. Bad call Warner. No money from me.

listed in: movies, review |

 

Dec 22 '07

I Am Legend

I Am Legend

C

Again, a movie I went into not knowing much. I didn't read the book, I didn't see the 1971 version, and I only saw the 1st trailer (the one only showed Will Smith, not what he was up against).

Um. I reeaalllyyy don't like cheap scare tactics. And I think they could have done without them had they worked a little on the character development (the movie was only and hour and a half!)

I really enjoyed the first half. I would have liked to see more of a back story. More on how the disease spread, more on how Robert setup his safe house, more on how he survived all this time. I really enjoyed how they abandon-ified New York. That was great CGI work. I would have liked to see more of that.

listed in: movies |

 

Nov 26 '07

The Mist

The Mist

B

It's been an hour since I saw the movie and I'm still sitting and trying to take it all in, or "decompress" as my roommate said.

To start off: I went into this movie not having read the short story by Stephen King, so I had no idea what to expect, and I didn't go in with any expectations based on the book.

I really liked it. It went in directions I didn't expect: especially in the area of religion and human nature. It started out really... cheesy... in the area of special effects and shallow character development ... so don't get discouraged in the first 20 minutes.

Give it a chance. It gets a lot better. The characters begin to seem more real, and as you get tied in tighter with the story, the special effects become more real, and I eventually got sucked right in.

And the ending. Wow. Just wow. After talking to a friend of a friend that read that book, even if you did, you won't even see it coming.

listed in: movies, review |

 

Oct 9 '07

 

Aug 10 '07

Sunshine

Sunshine

B

I recently saw Sunshine at the new Sundance Cinemas in Madison. First a little bit about Sundance: Claaaasssyy! I felt under-dressed in my typical khaki shorts and t-shirt. I went to a noon showing, but anything later I would have at least put on jeans and a button-down shirt. The tickets are a bit pricey, but the theater is amazing. You sink into the rocking seats, the air conditioning is at a perfect temperature, and the sound is outstanding. And the concession stand isn't... typical. Sure they have a section labeled "classic movie favorites", which include popcorn and soda, but you'd feel really... cheap... purchasing an item from that section. You can get muffins, sandwiches, and 20 types of coffee drinks from the concession stand as well. And you get to reserve your seats, like a theater theater. They advertised row "H" as perfect eye level... and ohhh where those seats absolutely perfect.

Anyway... the movie:

[More]

listed in: movies, review |

 

Aug 8 '07

 

Aug 3 '07

The Bourne Ultimatum

The Bourne Ultimatum

A

Amazing, amazing movie. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, in what you could describe as the most thrilling hour and a half chase scene. I was happy for the small 5-minute breaks throughout the movie so I could take a moment to breathe before the action started up again. This was definitely one of the fastest paced movies I've ever seen, and it never got dull as Jason Bourne went from location to location. It was really fun to watch Jason's cleverness, as he was always thinking 5 minutes ahead. It was moments like: He grabs two shirts from clothes lines on a roof top. Why? ... Ohhhh. Wouldn't have thought of that. The fight scene -- without any music -- was quite the gem, as you rarely get to hear just the sounds of the fight itself. And the ending: perfect. Absolutely perfect.

So go see it. And if you don't believe me, read what the New York Times and The Onion has to say. I'd see it again. I totally missed how he stole that police car. And so did the officer who was driving it.

listed in: movies, review |

 

Jul 10 '07

Transformers

Transformers

C

When I first saw the trailer for this, I laughed. So I had pretty low expectations going into this. It wasn't too bad. First off-- it was long (two and a half hours), so don't buy a large soda. The special effects were spectacular. They really were. But they were done by Industrial Light and Magic, so I didn't expect anything less (Hire me!). And I think the biggest problem I had was the acting between the transformers and the people were actually better then that between the actors themselves. Some of the dialog just didn't seem realistic, certainly involving the Defense Secretary and various government agencies... which was disappointing. Because those types of scenes are usually my favorite. (Like the fast-paced high-pressure scenes in ER or West Wing).

listed in: movies, review |

 

Jul 6 '07

Oceans 13

Oceans 13

B

Being a huge fan of the first two, I came into this with high expectations, and I think it did well. This movie seemed to breeze over execution of some of the stunts pulled, but on the other hand it gave of sense of "They're Oceans 13, they can do anything". But overall I enjoyed the pace, found the writing witty, liked the story line (back in Vegas!), the music rocked, and I even got caught in a couple plot twists. The only thing that's keeping me from giving it 5 stars is the extremely cheesy scene between Ellen and Matt. I understand this is a lighter movie, but it was seriously way out of place. The ending though, was fantastic. Made you feel really good inside.

listed in: movies, review |

 

Jul 4 '07

 

Jul 3 '07

Shrek the Third

Shrek the Third

B

I saw this a couple weeks ago in theater, and finally found time to sit down and write a little bit about it. It was a really enjoyable movie. Finally. It fulfilled its role. It entertained me, made me laugh, made me cry (ok, not really), and I came out of it satisfied. Going into this, I barely remember the first two, but it didn't matter. They re-developed the characters enough for me to get involved with the film, and half way though I almost forgot it was animated. Would I see it again sometime soon? Probably not. But I enjoyed it while I saw it. Although, I had no idea Justin Timberlake and Larry King did a couple of the voices. Didn't notice that until the credits.

listed in: movies, review |

 

Jul 2 '07

 

May 13 '07

Spider Man 3

Spider Man 3

F

They spent half a billion dollars on this movie. Most expensive movie ever made. That sucks, because the movie blew.

Bad special effects, bad character development (yeah, I know they were developed in the first two films, but you can't just pick up out of nowhere), horrible acting, horrible script. Bad bad bad bad bad.

listed in: movies, review | Comments (2)

 

Apr 15 '07

Wisconsin Film Festival 2007: Sunday

Poison Friends

Poison Friends (Les Amitiés maléfiques)

Last film I saw at the festival. Enjoyable one too. (Aren't they all?) It's going to sound more boring than it actually was, but surrounds around four college students who are aspiring to be famous writers. One of them is quite the arrogant s.o.b. and is quick to point out the flaws of other writers. They just don't realize how much they're being duped.

listed in: madison, movies, wisconsin film festival |

 

Apr 14 '07

Wisconsin Film Festival 2007: Saturday

Hallucii Retribution

Shorts Times Ten

One of the many series of shorts at the Film Festival. My favorites were "Kompetenz", a couple fighting over skills vs talents, "My Name is Not Carlos", a jazzy music/animation, "Hallucii (upper left)", an animated man stuck on an Escher staircase, and "Startle Pattern", a claymation.

[More]

listed in: madison, movies, wisconsin film festival |

 

Apr 14 '07

Wisconsin Film Festival 2007: Friday

Exiled

Exiled (Fong juk)


Just one film today... "Exiled", a gangster movie from China. Known for its choreography, I was expecting a bit more. Maybe some slow motion, some cool long tracking shots, a person or two flying about, but none of that was present. It (in my opinion) featured fairly ordinary shoot-outs, which almost reminded me of old western movies. The gun sounds were so realistic that in a movie, they seemed quite out of place.

It wasn't a horrible movie though. It had a compelling plot, several bits of humor ("How many pounds is a ton of love?"), and a great but unexpected ending, that without, the movie would have been pretty average.

listed in: madison, movies, wisconsin film festival |

 

Apr 13 '07

Wisconsin Film Festival 2007: Thursday

Manufactured Landscapes The District

Manufactured Landscapes

The very first film I saw was "Manufactured Landscapes". It was quite an eye-opening documentary. Mostly featuring Chinese industry, this film showed how horrible manual repetitive labor can be. It started out with a tracking shot down an entire building of a Chinese Factory, showing aisle after aisle after aisle of teenage-looking men and women assembling, by hand, items such as irons and fans. It took about 10 minutes walking speed to get down the entire building. It was quite stunning. Above left shows each aisle's labor being briefed by their supervisor before going to work. Many were getting yelled at for not producing enough units, or having too many defective units.

[More]

listed in: madison, movies, wisconsin film festival |

 

Apr 2 '07

 

Jan 27 '07

My Favorites (2006)

I have sat down and finally compiled some lists I have been trying to for a long time: Favorite books, TV shows, movies, and musical artists. Not necessarily things from 2006, but just what I like at this point in life. The items in the lists are in no particular order (that would have been too hard). I hope to reevaluate these in a year and see how my tastes have changed.

[More]

listed in: books, life, movies, music, tv | Comments (2)

 

Jan 2 '07

 

Dec 12 '06

 

Nov 29 '06

007: Casino Royale

007: Casino Royale

C

Satisfying movie. The time passed well except only a couple of slow spots, maybe because the action was too rushed. Bond didn't do as much 'espionage' as I would have liked, as the movie tended to go right into the action.

And where were the gadgets? Yeah, not in the book, but I like gadgets! Also, not so sure about the title sequence.

Regardless, Daniel does a great job playing a child-like full-of-himself James Bond, and Judi does even a better job playing a really pissed off boss. She's hilarious!

It's worth checking out.

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Nov 11 '06

The Prestige

The Prestige

A

I went and saw "The Prestige" last night. I went never hearing about it before, not knowing what it was about, and having no idea who was in it. I loved it. It's a story of two magicians, who after a horrible incident of a trick gone wrong, go from co-workers to bitter rivals. Their only goal is to out-do each other, figure out each other's tricks, through whatever cheating, lying, and trickery possible. For the first time in a while, I saw a really good story that doesn't insult the audience. You have to pay really close attention though, or you won't know what is going on. But it shouldn't be too hard-- the plot is fast paced; without any downtime. I highly recommend this movie. I'd see it again.

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Aug 18 '06

Snakes.  On a plane.

Snakes. On a plane.

B

Oh man. Great movie. After seeing the trailers for this movie I thought it would be a horrible flop, but I couldn't turn down the offer to go see it.

It has suspense, it has horror, and it has humor. Made me nervous, made me jump, made me laugh.

Make sure you see it while the theatres are full. The crowd went wild when Samuel Jackson "had it with these mother****ing snakes on this mother****ing plane!"

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Jul 19 '06

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

C

I'm not sure what to think about this movie. It has no beginning or end. Although I fully understand (and if you watch it, you must too) that this the middle of a trilogy. However, the movie *could* have ended at this one. The five minutes of teaser at the end leading up to the obvious sequel leave me confused as to why the characters want to continue on, at least the way they decide (it would seem as if there are more important things).

Plot aside, the movie itself is well done. The sword fights are amazing, especially the one on the water wheel. And the special effects are great... up to the last 15 minutes, where it is obvious they rushed to fulfill some sort of timeline. The quality drops significantly.

The movie could also be shorter. The second octopus scene doesn't end.

Maybe I'll have to see the third one to fully appreciate this one.

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Jun 29 '06

An Inconvenient Truth

An Inconvenient Truth

B

As Stephen Colbert said, this is the best (and most expensive) "powerpoint presentation" I've ever seen. Al Gore's multimedia presentation, which is actually created in Apple Keynote, shows us the dangers of our gas guzzling cars and the serve impact that they have on the environment. With a little current administration bashing mixed in, this will probably be one of the most interesting lectures you have ever seen. Regardless of your stance on global warming or politics, you will find this to be an impressively well-put together presentation and that Al Gore is a wonderful public speaker.

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Jun 21 '06

The Da Vinci Code (Movie)

The Da Vinci Code (Movie)

C

I saw the movie after I read the book-- and was significantly disappointed. A lot of the mystery and suspense was removed from the story as the movie skipped over or rushed through all the good parts of the book. The movie was a significantly dumbed down version of the book, and the only thing that saves this movie is the perfect ending shot.

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Jun 10 '06

Thank You for Smoking (Movie)

Thank You for Smoking (Movie)

B

Unfortunately I haven't read the book this movie is based after so I can't do any comparisons between the two. However, this was a funny satire on the tobacco industry, the movie industry, and the government in general. It was fast paced and never left you twiddling your thumbs. It could have been a lot longer though-- the movie ended before you knew it.

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Jun 6 '06

Mission: Impossible III

Mission: Impossible III

A

I was incredibly impressed with Mission Impossible 3. Although in real life Tom Cruise has gone a little loopy, he's still a great actor. I was expecting a cliche action movie, but a significant portion of this movie was about the espionage. The lip-reading portion of the movie is quite impressive; you'll know what I'm talking about when you go watch the movie. They don't dumb down this movie for anyone. You have pay attention to keep track of all the plot twists and to figure out who the bad guy really is.

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Apr 2 '06

Film Festival, Day 4

Pornographic ApathyInnocense

Today was the final day of the festival. First I went to see Jim and Joe's Experimental Shorts Program which was a group of avant-garde shorts. It was painful to watch, and as a friend of mine put it, "it sucked out my soul". Some of the techniques used in shorts such as Shape Shift by Scott Stark and SSHTOORRTY by Michael Snow were pretty cool, but almost all of them had flashy fast-paced scenes and high-pitched tones that I guess these directors thought make them innovative. What I did enjoy however was Mirror by Christoph Girardet and Matthias Mueller for the cool lighting effects, and especially enjoyed Pornographic Apathetic (picture above) by T. Arthur Cottam which was the most monotone and expressionless reading of an extremely hot and explicit pornographic script creating a hilarious result.

And the last thing I saw in the festival was Innocence, a French drama. I thought it was really good. It had probably some of the most beautiful cinematography I've ever seen. The story however, while not bad, was very... creepy. It centers around an all-girls boarding school, where they learn science and how to dance, while having many strict rules enforced by the other girls. Anyone caught trying to escape would have a very unhappy future. It's awfully difficult to explain. You could view the trailer, but it's in French.

listed in: madison, movies, wisconsin film festival |

 

Apr 1 '06

Film Festival, Day 3

I'll keep it short today.

I saw a bunch of Wisconsin made shorts today. Some that I enjoyed were:
Kitchen by Brian Dehler, which was a stomp-like short involving every-day kitchen objects.
Monster Team: Episode 6 by Ben Olson and Arthur Jones which was a real-life version of their cartoon series.
Status Quo by Justin Sprecher, which is kind hard to explain. Head-trip of sorts.
The Life and Death of a Pumpkin by Aaron Yonda, the funniest of the bunch, explored the life of a pumpkin from the pumpkin's point of view.
Straight Boys by Dave O'Brien, by far the best in the group of shorts, told the story of a guy in love with his straight roommate and the complications that come from it... filmed right here at Madison in Chadbourne Hall.

Then I saw Same Sex America which documented the big marriage debate in Massachusetts. It was well done and tracked multiple couples trying to get married.

Last day tomorrow!

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Apr 1 '06

Film Festival, Day 2

Operator Dorks

On Friday I saw three additional moves at the Film Festival.

The first was Le Fantôme de l'Opératrice, a.k.a. The Phantom of the Operator which was a Canadian documentary about women in the telephone operator business, and had several clips from old corporate training videos which were quite funny. Always have a "voice with a smile!" Preceding this was a short montage of old High-School Science videos which were even more humorous, including "Jimmy" not knowing why you need to rationalize the denominator and this guy getting electrocuted by an electric eel.

Next was Ceský Sen a.k.a. Czech Dream which was a documentary about an elaborate hoax two filmmakers put on-- they built the front wall for an elaborate hypermarket, advertised the crap out of the grand opening, and documented the process along with the finale-- when thousands of people realized that they were running not to a hypermarket, but an over hyped front wall.

[Added 4/4 12:30 PM: I found a trailer for Czech Dream online for download. The part about them getting the crap beat out of them was definitely not in the version I saw at the festival, and now I'm pretty upset they left that out.]

[Added 4/4 1:45 PM: It appears as if I had been conned myself. I emailed the Film Festival to ask why the segment in the trailer was not in the actual documentary, and Travis Gerdes from the festival replied "Much like the false advertising campaign behind the Czech Dream hypermarket, we believe the filmmakers took a similar approach when promoting the film itself... it makes sense that the filmmakers would continue their message of misleading promotional campaigns, even for their own film." Makes sense.]

Finally, the best film of the day was a German comedy Die Nacht der lebenden Loser a.k.a. The Night of the Living Dorks. It is kinda hard to explain, but it was absolutely hilarious. It featured three teenagers in high school who smoked too much pot, got in a car accident, and, well, ended up Zombies.

listed in: madison, movies, wisconsin film festival |

 

Mar 30 '06

Film Festival, Day 1

Awesome
Today was the first day of the Wisconson Film Festival. I saw Awesome, I Fuckin' Shot That!. It was a concert video of a Beastie Boys concert in Madison Square Garden. However, it wasn't your normal concert video. It was filmed by 50 randomly selected audience members who were handed cameras at the beginning of the show and were told to start filming when the lights go down and never stop. Very fast-paced, several cuts a minute. A few times they did a 50-way split screen to show all the cameras at once, which was pretty awesome to see. A few of the funny spots included one of the guys running (and going) to the bathroom, a drunk cameraman buying a beer, and another trying to sneak backstage. It was quite an interesting hour and a half.

listed in: madison, movies, wisconsin film festival |