Weekend Reading #2

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Done with work for the week? Why not sit down, relax and have a poke at some of the cool things I found this week at the deep end of the interwebs. Enjoy your reading and/or watching!

“Cheap Thrills” director gives some cool tips for aspiring film-makers and there’s a good lot of do’s and don’t of shooting on a shoestring budget. Very interesting!

The guys over at The Playlist list 25 greatest films never made. Continue reading

Trailer: “The Drop”

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After “Enough Said” had gone under my radar (and it is now sitting on my shelf looking at me begrudgingly, because I still haven’t seen it) I was convinced I wouldn’t get to see the late James Gandolfini on the big screen any more. And it turns out I was wrong, because not only you would have the opportunity to see the man in the flesh, but it looks like it’s going to be a sight to behold.

Interestingly, “The Drop” directed by Michael Roskam (known for “Bullhead”, which is also sitting on the ‘to watch’ pile) is going to be the closest to a perfect ending of Gandolfini’s career, as it is nothing but a dark and gritty gangster drama about a guy who runs a bar, which the local crime syndicates use to move capital. When the bar gets robbed, things get quickly out of hand and it’s not going to end well…

With a stellar cast (Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini and Noomi Rapace) and playing of a script penned by Dennis Lehane (author of “Shutter Island”, Mystic River” and “Gone Baby Gone”), “The Drop” has landed firmly on my radar as one of the films to watch this year.

“The Drop” drops on the 19th of September in the US and on the 14th of November in the UK.

Trailer: “Lucy”

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What if we put Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman in a highly stylized action sci-fi that looks like “The Matrix” met “Limitless” and “Crank”? Interested? How about if Luc Besson was behind the wheel?

The basic premise of “Lucy” (by the way, Luc Besson apparently has a thing for turning people’s names into titles) is as follows: A girl (Scarlett Johansson) wakes up to discover that somebody has surgically inserted a bag of drugs inside her abdomen. Accidentally, some of that drug gets into her bloodstream and makes her uber-powerful to a point where the only thing that’s missing is Laurence Fishburne standing in the background saying ‘she’s the one’. It might not be the freshest idea ever, but – still – if there’s anyone capable of shooting aciton in a compelling way, it’s Luc Besson. And that makes me feel a bit excited, or even titillated…

“Lucy” kicks behinds on the 8th of August in the US and on the 22nd in the UK.

Watch: “The Birth of the Lightsaber”

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“Star Wars”  fan or not, this is something every movie nerd should see. This short documentary (or featurette, as some prefer to call it) lets you peek behind the scenes of one of the most iconic films of all time and understand the origins of the most bad-ass weaponry in popular culture – the lightsaber. From the ideas and inspirations all the way to the ins and outs of pulling it off with special effects (in the 70′s, mind you), the story of the Jedi weapon is very entertaining and – most of all – informative. Now, I have no idea how much of what George Lucas is trying to tell me is actually true, because he’s known for trying to re-write history, but a lot of logic and thought must have gone into designing everything about the prop that changed the pop-culture. Plus, there’s more than a handful of really cool factoids and pieces of trivia about the movie-making magic to be discovered in that short, and nothing’s more fun at parties than a guy casually sharing his “Star Wars” wisdom. Am I right?

Is this a trend I’m looking at?

“We’re doin’ a sequel! That’s what we do in Hollywood!
And everybody knows that the sequel’s never quite as good”

Here’s a challenge you have probably heard a million times – name a sequel better than the original. I think it’s safe to assume that if you’re generally interested in film, you have probably had more than one conversation on that topic, which usually spins out of a casual talk about movies in general, preferably over a pint of beer with a bunch of friends… It’s such a cliché question that it even featured in the mildly received (but still enjoyable) “Scream 2” during a film class scene, so I’m not going to bother stating the obvious examples (they’re all in that scene, by the way). Despite some people’s best wishes, the history has always seemed to indicate that ‘the sequel’s never quite as good’, as it is exemplified by the lukewarm reviews of the new Muppets film, from which this line was directly pulled. But is it really? Continue reading

“Captain America – The Winter Soldier” – Star-spangled badassery

captain america review logoUp until now I have had serious problems understanding the draw behind a character like Captain America. I understand his origins in the popular culture as a spin-off from the blatant patriotic propaganda, but looking at him simply in comic book superhero terms, I couldn’t understand why he’s such an important figure within the Marvel Universe. He’s not a god, he doesn’t really wield a weapon granting him superhuman powers, he can’t fly, he’s not immortal, he doesn’t own a cool suit of armor… He doesn’t really carry a weapon for the most part, but a shield, which from a logical standpoint is just absurd. All he can do is run, fight and throw his shield around… In the company of folks like Thor, The Hulk, or Iron-Man, he looks – well – puny and unimportant, at least in terms of the actual combat, which challenges the notion of Captain America being perceived as a superhero in the first place. Now, having seen “Captain America – The Winter Soldier” (and having re-watched for the third time “Captain America – The First Avenger”) I think I understand his place within this universe of gods, aliens, superheroes and monsters. Continue reading

Weekend Reading #1

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Done with work for the week? Why not sit down, relax and have a poke at some of the cool things I found this week at the deep end of the interwebs. Enjoy your reading and/or watching!

Ranking the 20 greatest long takes – the title is pretty self-explanatory. Have a look and expand your appreciation towards those long and/or tracking shots. If you’re interested, have a look at how Paul Thomas Anderson’s long tracking Steadicam shots are disseminated. By the way, here are my two entries for the long take ranking: 1) the 15-minute conversation between Michael Fassbender’s character and a priest in Steve McQueen’s “Hunger”, 2) 2.5-minute single-take (well, with a bit of cheating, but it looks seamless) orbiting shot of a car chase from Steven Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds”. Continue reading