Category Archives: Film/Video

Thread – Stranger Video

On assignment from the Stranger, Chuy, Paul and I put together a short video of the Seattle Thread Fashion & Lifestyle Show.

I contributed the editing, but much more credit goes to Chuy and Paul for heading out and shooting last Sunday (alas, I was preoccupied). For having not done much video at all in a few years, it was imperfect, rough, and scrappy. We brushed up on a lot of the details and I spent much time cursing iMovie. We’re pleased with the results, and I think it was just what we needed to kick our butts back into video-shape. Stay tuned for more!

The Hotel/Motel Horror Genre Returns!

Apparently Hollywood thinks that Hitchcock’s classic, Psycho, is ancient history now so the genre of hotel/motel horror is prime for a revival. First we have a Stephen King story starring John Cusack stuck in a haunted hotel room number 1408. Ooooo… looks like pretty much every other haunted/ghost/hallucination movie that I’ve avoided seeing in the past 5 years, but with Samuel L. Jackson. Next up we’ve got the standard Psycho setup of a young couple stopping at a motel just off the freeway in the film Vacancy, starring Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsdale. So, instead of one psycho-killer we have a team of psycho-killers? Original!

C’mon, there’s gotta be something better out there. Maybe Saw VIII will take place at a time-share.

The More You Know You Betcha Don’t Know

Remember those awesome NBC Public Service Announcements between Saturday morning cartoons, or the after school kids shows? The ones that always had that upbeat jingle at the end and the flying star trailing a rainbow. 30 second gems of wisdom, summed up with, “The More You Know”. Well, thanks to the wonders of the Internet tubes (and YouTube users who must have some very old videotapes lying around) you can relive some of those moments. Here’s what I found…

You can also view NBC’s current lineup of PSA’s on their official site. The one most worth mentioning is Donald Trump.

Of course YouTube is full of parodies too. I wasn’t impressed with too many and got tired quick, but I’m sure there are some good ones out there. I still think The Office did it all too well with their round of PSAs for the workplace.

Lastly, I came across two more clips from the even older-school NBC. Before “The More You Know” there was “Betcha Don’t Know”. These took a more scientific education angle than the life lessons we got later. I give you: Betcha Don’t Know Why the Sky is blue, and Betcha Don’t Know Zits.

Have you found any other classic “The More You Know” PSAs out there?

Superman vs. Superman

SupermanBefore seeing Superman Returns this past weekend, I decided to Netflix the original Superman movie last week (Special Edition, actually, with a few extended scenes). Despite the slow pacing of the original, and the primitive effects, I still thought it held up quite well. I was a huge fan of the movies (at least the first two) growing up, and I still got chills when the Superman logo filled the screen, with the John Williams score playing in the background. Christopher Reeve really was perfect in the dual role of Clark Kent and Superman. Every mannerism as the awkward Kent seemed to fit, down to the action of pushing his over-size glasses back up the bridge of his nose every time he bumped into something or fumbled. There was some surprisingly clever dialogue in the original movie, and some jokes I’m sure I never understood as a kid.

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Rainy Weekend of Watching Stuff

The long Memorial Day weekend was unfortunately the first 3 days of rainy weather we’ve had after a few weeks of beautiful, sunny Spring weather. I ended up spending quite a bit of time inside, watching entirely too much… stuff.

  • Went out and saw X-Men: The Last Stand (with heavy hints at possible future stands), and was pleasantly let down. Some amusing action scenes, despite missing Brian Singer’s finesse, but the story and writing was just horrible. As most reviews mentioned, it really did feel like the studio just wanted to rush this thing out. And the new characters? Remeber the glimpses of these new characters that you got in the trailers: Angel, Juggernaut, and Multiple Man? Well, I kid you not, they each get two other lines in the entire film, and spend a grand total of about 30 seconds on screen. No exagerration. Anyway, enough about that.
  • Recently I found a free copy of BASEketball on VHS (TiVo 0.1) and grabbed it. I remember finding it pretty funny back in the day with my high school friends, when we saw it in the theater (we saw everything in the theater). It wasn’t nearly as good this time around, although some of the Trey and Matt humor still had me laughing.
  • Using Netflix’s motivation-by-guilt-for-holding-a-DVD-too-long got me to plunge back into Battlestar Galactica. A while ago I fizzled out somewhere late in the first season. Little did I know it was right before all the crazy shit started happening! And it hasn’t stopped! I exhausted Netflix’s run of the first part of season 2 (the rest doesn’t come out until the end of June), and have started buying the next episodes off iTunes. The show just doesn’t give you a break. So relentless and engrossing.
  • I also had Riding Giants on my Netflix and enjoyed that surfing diversion. From the same folks as Dogtown and Z-Boys, it’s another well done documentary explaining the evolution of a popular and misunderstood sport. In this case, big wave surfing, and the pioneers of the surfing world.
  • Lastly, I finally popped in the borrowed DVDs for the first season of Deadwood, and gave it a good 2 episode try. 4 episodes later, I’m clearly hooked. Great character actors everywhere you look, and it’s well-written and directed all around.

This TV on DVD thing is a blessing and a curse. It’s great to be able to pop in the next one and keep going, without commercials or delays. But at least when it’s broadcast you’re forced into reasonable (yet frustrating) bite-size morsels. Control your urges. Binging is not healthy.

Distraction: Best Movie Scenes Ever

Last night checking out some videos on the addictive YouTube, I stumbled upon a clip from the movie Rad, which was aptly titled, “Best movie scene.” I’d heard about this incredible scene, but had yet to watch it. It exceeds all expectations and words can’t do it justice. Featuring Lori Loughlin (of Full House “fame”), who’s character finally ditches her popular ex for the outcast BMX biker, and the two share a prom “dance” to Send Me An Angel. If that description didn’t sell you, I don’t know what will.

I figured that scene would be hard to beat, but the title, “best scene ever” gave me the idea to search for that and similar phrases such as, “best movie scene” and “best fight scene“. There’s some good, great and horrible stuff out there. One in particular I have to recommend is this fight scene which is so horrible it’s truly brilliant. Give it until the end.

Lastly, while you’re wasting time on YouTube, check out this great educational video parody series, Look Around You (thanks Andy). I was laughing quite a bit… “Problem 3. For this problem, you will need to set your calculator to Maths.”

Goldfrapp in Concert

Two weeks ago I went to see Goldfrapp in concert at the Showbox. The band’s music is a kind of electro-glam, and the show certainly followed suit. There were plenty of bright flashing lights, a fan blowing up into the lead singer, Alison Goldfrapp’s hair, and of course a keytar. I’d nearly forgotten that I shot a couple short video clips during the show, on my digital camera. Lousy quality, I know, but here’s a little taste of the show…

Changing the Film Heroes we Love

Two new trailers hit the internet yesterday, one for Superman Returns, and the other for the new James Bond, Casino Royale. One of these looks, um… super, and the other looks like crap.

I was a little skeptical when the first Superman trailer showed up. The footage looked great, but I really wanted to hear John Williams’ goosebump-inducing main theme that I remembered as a kid. The second trailer gives us exactly that. We also get to see some of the acting and characterization this time around. It seems like each actor is doing a nearly spot-on impression of the original Superman cast. Spacey as Gene Hackman… that new Superman guy mimicking Christopher Reeves… The shots and the action and the interactions all feel like a Superman story should. Bryan Singer may have nailed a whole new comic universe (knock on wood).

And then there’s this young, James Bond, prequel/origin, crap thing. Aside from throwing Judi Dench in there, and the classic James Bond bullet-hole/blood graphic, the rest of it looks nothing like a Bond film. Granted they’ve been veering away from the classic Bond feeling in the past few movies, but at least Pierce Brosnan could pull it off, and there were enough playful throwbacks to the original campiness. I understand they’re trying to beef it up and turn it into a fresh new vision, or something, but honestly I think Mission Impossible III looks like the better Bond movie than Casino Royale. (I know, we all hate Tom Cruise now, but it’s written and directed by J.J. Abrams, and it has Philip Seymour Hoffman.  Not even Mr. Scientology can mess those guys up… too much… I hope.)

Lastly, and unrelated, I highly recommend Lucky Number Slevin. It’s smart and fun and dark, and has a really fun cast to watch. It isn’t nearly as goofy/silly as the trailers make it look.

How movie-literate are you?

Film writer and critic, Jim Emerson compiled a list of what he considers the 102 most important films to see, in order to have an informed discussion about movies. It’s kind of an elitest mentality to take towards film-criticism, but it’s also a great list with a lot of different films, demonstrating some important landmarks in film history. They are not his favorites, or a best-of list, but more a “common cultural currency of our time” as it relates to film. Following kottke’s lead, I decided to run through the list and see how “literate” I would be considered on this scale.

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The Wilderness and the City

Over the weekend I watched Grizzly Man and I was amazed. It covers the life and death of Timothy Treadwell who spent 13 summers in the Alaskan wilderness living with the Alaskan brown bears. He filmed his last 5 summers there, and the film is made up mostly of his footage, along with interviews of people who knew him (not as compelling as the rest). At times the wilderness is just jaw-dropping. He is close enough to these bears that he can touch them, and he has arctic foxes following him as if they are his pets. He formed a bond with the wild that’s hard not to admire. On the other hand, he has a screw or two loose, and he is more than a bit fanatical and delusioned about his purpose. Even with his environmentalist, anti-establishment ramblings and all-around kookiness, I couldn’t help but watch in amazement at his energy and passion for what he was doing. Maybe his closeness to the bears was misdirected and may have hurt more than helped (getting them too used to human presence), but it was still raw and powerful. And again, the footage he captured was just amazing.

On a different, but somewhat simlar vein, today I followed a link to this site of an autistic guy who has created an entire city through drawings and writings. There is a short video on him online here. He has written history, economics and demographics for the city and the detail in the drawings is remarkable. The cohesive vision and depth of content is what really makes it come to life.

Two passions for very different subjects, from not-quite-normal minds, both impressive and inspiring in their own right.

Kong, Munich, Rize

King Kong was pretty darn fun. Once again Peter Jackson has raised the bar on epic action. Over-the-top monsters and mayhem can be done (semi) seriously without ending up like that 1998 Godzilla crap. Kong felt a little long in some places, such as the lead up to the island, and like everyone else, I think the insect scene could have been cut. But it also felt a little short and rushed once we got back to New York. For how invested I was at that point, it just felt like we were thrown right into the finale, with not even a half-dozen more lines of dialogue from the main characters. Overall, still a great movie.

And I thought King Kong felt too long… Munich really dragged in places and had what felt like 3 or 4 endings. We get it already, he’s conflicted and paranoid!! It also suffered from some incredibly painful heavy-handed directing. Spielberg is now back up sharing the thrown of heavy-handedness with the other reigning champs, Ron “Cinderella” Howard and Mel “Jesus Christ” Gibson. But at least we didn’t have bookends of an old man in a graveyard, crying and reminiscing the whole story. The story itself was quite intense and all of the suspense, history and settings were very well executed. But I felt the violence was a little too much. We understand it’s horrific stuff, but sometimes a little restraint gives more impact than seeing every single blood spurt, brain chunk, and severed limb fly across the screen.

Rize was excellent. It started off a little jumbled, jumping from riots to clowns to dancing. But as the pieces all fit together, you ended up for a real sense of the energy and emotion fueling these people. , The tribal and religious connections were thin at best, and felt unnecessarily tacked onto the more interesting subject matter. It’s such a different culture, it’s nearly impossible for a spoiled little white boy like me to really “get it” but there were times where the film almost brought me to tears. Seeing the community, camaraderie, and passion in the dancing, krumping and raw creative expression was moving.