Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Michelangelo Antonioni, 1912 - 2007

It's sure been a shitty week.

I just marveled at "Blowup" again last week, too.
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Monday, July 30, 2007

Ingmar Bergman, 1918 - 2007

I'm sure everyone has heard the heartbreaking news by now. I'm currently rewriting my column on the great Ingmar Bergman's passing.

The Guardian on his best scenes and and on Woody Allen's love of the director's work.

More on Bergman and Allen in the New York Times
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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

László Kovács, 1933-2007

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Meet Potter Before the Dwights

The Harry Potter films have given us a unique chance to watch a talented batch of young actors grow up, so I wrote my column about it.

"Introducing the Dwights" has a character who is so annoying that you can't stand a second she's on screen, so I wrotea review about it.
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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Emmys Are Lost Again

This year's Emmy nominees for Best Drama include cloying, tacky, melodramatic trash, a series that has ridden its star's performance as a wise-cracking doctor who doesn't play by the rules for about 60 near-identical episodes and a derrivitive, zany David E. Kelly dramedy. It doesn't, however, include "LOST."

While some have been ever-so-quick to declare "LOST" dead, it has been consistently taking risks and surprising its audiences. Compare the finale of "LOST" with that of its Best-Drama-nominated imitator, "Heroes," and it's clear which one has the more compelling story. While "LOST" has had a few weak episodes this season (though none so bad as "Fire + Water" from season two), it has also had more brilliant, gripping, heartbreaking and hilarious episodes than any other program. "Heroes," on the other hand, had two or three great episodes, six or seven intriguing episodes and the most disappointing climax since Freddy Adu lost his virginity. (Quit dancing around it and shoot the damn ball!) Everything that was expected happened, no unexpected twists happened and the cliffhanger wasn't half as intriguing as it was tacked on.

The third season of "LOST" pushed towards a delicious twist that turned the whole format on its head and left everyone wondering how it would start next year.

My favorite Emmy nominee is Ricky Gervais for "Extras" in the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series category, where he will compete with Steve Carell for his American version of Gervais's character from BBC's "The Office." Tony Shaloub also has his annual nomination for "Monk" in the category, alongside Charlie Sheen in "Two and a Half Men" and Alec Baldwin in "30 Rock."
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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Is it Just Me or is it Hot in Here?

My column from Thursday is all about heat, because you weren't getting enough outside.

"The best filmmakers can make you feel the burn — even while sitting at a cool 70 degrees — with harsh light, red tones and rough, dry and/or sticky textures. Here are five films that will remind you just how unpleasant it feels outside."

Read on.
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Monday, July 9, 2007

Did I Mention I Hated Transformers?

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Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Transform your 'Transformers' Ticket into One for 'Ratatouille'

I should admit that I wasn't as excited to see "Transformers" as a rather large number of people my age seem to be at this very moment. For whatever reason (knowing me, probably my esteemed five-year-old taste in cartoons designed to promote toys), I favored the less successful toys with transformational abilities. Namely I remember Gobots—which Tonka imported from Japan at the same time Hasbro imported Transformers—and M.A.S.K., whose characters could change their non-intelligent vehicles from one kind to another. I had some Transformers toys, and my mom claims I liked "the red scooter one." That red scooter, however, is a Gobot.

So my "Transformers" experience relied solely on the filmmaking abilities of Michael Bay. I had hoped that, with Steven Spielberg's guidance as a producer, Bay could make a fun, exciting popcorn movie. But Bay is still doing the same old shit.

Summer entertainment isn't supposed to be deep or meaningful, but it is supposed to be awe-inspiring. "Transformers" lacks any sort of magic or wonder, any sort of storyline that holds momentum, any action scene that builds to something suspenseful and amazing. Bay's plan seems to have been to shovel shit so rapidly into our faces that we don't have time to wipe it off and take in what we're covered in. There are no breaks from the clanks and explosions, rendering them meaningless. There is no sense of the size or shape of the robots, and their complex design serves more to show off special effects than to make them emotive, let alone distinct from one another.

There are lots of moving parts in titular robot-alien characters, but that doesn't translate to emotions (and they are supposed to be sentient beings). Sometimes simplicity can bring out personality, or at least help us see the robots for what they are. Sure, the special effects are impressive, but while they're special, they aren't at all effective.

Most of the time, I didn't know which character was fighting which or why I should be interested. At one point, Bay puts the camera in the car of a mother and son who were driving near a robot fight. The camera whips back and forth as the ground shakes the car around. It's a cool shot, but there's a problem: The two characters have absolutely nothing to do with the story, and don't appear before or after this moment. What's worse, however, is that we can barely see the fight that pertains to the story. We never do see anything comprehensible or that relates to the characters in any meaningful way. The film exhausts us, gives us a headache and spits us out.
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