Saturday, April 30, 2011

10 Best Things of April 2011

1. Streets of Rage Remake

One of the best fan-created videogames. Too bad Sega took it down after several days of publicity and acclaim. Yet another decision that Sega hates money.

2. Mortal Kombat

Great story mode, fun gameplay and the return of fatalities. Well worth it for Noob Saibot's wishbone finish.

3. The Room special screening at Proctor's

Tommy Wiseau's best worst movie brought a lot of comfort and laughter.

4. Game of Thrones

I'm still wondering if the showrunners want "Winter is coming" to become a meme or something. Regardless, this new show based on the popular medieval fantasy book series is so far great. Peter Dinklage deserves an Emmy.

5. Community, "Paradigms of Human Memory"

A parody of clip shows that incorporates storyline twists, a satire of fan-made Internet music videos, and the harshest characterization of all of the main characters.

6. Drive-in Movie Season starts

Now I can save my money on all of Hollywood's releases for more fried Oreos. Actually, that is more of a lose-lose situation.

7. Source Code

Duncan Jones, you magnificent bastard.

8. The Undertaker vs. Triple H, Wrestlemania XXVII

The best match of the night, and possibly all year. Too bad the rest of the card was a mixed bag.

9. UFC 129

Very disappointing main event was the only sour note of one of the greatest nights for UFC. Now, please come to NY!

10. Abhishek Bachchan in Dum Maaro Dum

No more Mr. Nice guy. Bachchan moves away from his usual happy-go-lucky film persona to play the suicidal-and-loving-it police officer who wants the drug-filled streets of Goa clean, even if it takes to shove a magnum up everyone's anus.

My Tops of 2011 - April

Drive-in movie season has thankfully returned, so I don't have to waste my money seeing a bunch of failures at the expensive movie theaters.

SCREAM 4 was not a good gift this month. A film that didn't know if it wants to be bad comedy or bad horror.

SOURCE CODE was another great film from Duncan Jones. Like his previous effort MOON, it has a small couple of problems but the performances and a smart script make it a lot of fun.

WIN WIN could have been a contender. A genius cast hampered by a little too simple and easy script.

DUM MAARO DUM had great cinematography and some good performances along with interesting dark script but the music was forgettable and some story twists were stupid.

Best Films of 2011

1. Rango

2. Source Code

3. The Green Hornet

4. Paul

Worst Films of 2011

1. Battle: Los Angeles

2. Atlas Shrugged

3. Scream 4

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 - Review

This isn't going to be a thorough philosophical written debate over the ideals of Objectivism and/or the immense views and attitudes of Ayn Rand. I simply bought a ticket, walked past the portraits and closeups of beautifully manufactured bait, whether human or food, to my cave of moving pictures for a viewing and later a review. I kept recalling my past high school experience reading The Fountainhead, a humongous tome that was entertaining but still taxing to understand. I was a bit eagerly waiting for it to start when I saw "End - Part 1" come up on the screen. I had just sat through a lackluster film with no tension nor any semblance of reality, whose sheer incompetence would later detonate my psyche into a fiery bomb of confusion and shrapnel.

ATLAS SHRUGGED: PART 1 is a dead on arrival attempt at bringing Ayn Rand's second popular colossal novel to the screen. A possibly real-life dystopia story with minor sci-fi elements wrapped around a large overall mystery thriller? That sounds like pure money. Except the sci-fi is heavily masked away, the mystery is spoiled early and not interesting in the slightest and the fears of massive human mediocrity and political games are rendered mute by automaton protagonists and a flatline script. This so-called first act is as anti climatic as a calendar, padded to the brim with D-roll footage and horrible cinematography for a so-called epic.

Dagyn Taggart is trying to keep her family-run railroad company, Taggart Transcontinental, in the black even after the constant money pits chosen by her CEO brother and the interference of legislation. After a major derailment destroys an important railway, Dagyn enters a business agreement with Hank Rearden, owner of Rearden Steel and the creator of a new experimental metal, to repair the line and show off the latest advancement in American technology. However, powerful bigwigs in Washington are employing smear campaigns and new laws to limit their dreams and profits, all the while a stranger is confronting and convincing the elite in intelligence to disappear from sight.

Now add in bad CGI, stilted dialogue, the same five sets, and endless shots of barren hills and railways. The script lacks any real showdowns or conflicts from appearing, probably cause it might cost the producers more money. A supposed landslide is never shown and the creation of a dangerous bridge just jumps ahead with no foreshadowing danger. The whole product comes off as very outdated, even with the Rand dialogue. Apparently in the future, print and television media are still the reigning source of information for everyone instead of the internet. If this film had a scene where Rearden was reading forums or checking his followers' opinions on Facebook, I could have given it a better chance. Director Paul Johansson seemed too concerned with his ego-stroked cameo role as the mysterious John Galt that he forgot to do his main job. Instead of adapting to the film's low budget and making the most out of the limitations, he and his cinematographer just stake the camera solely on the actors so they can capture the true sight of a charisma black hole. For a so-called depressing and poor American background, it sure looks nice and clean to live in. After all, homeless men are given free coffee and food, regular citizens still drive cars despite gas being 40 dollars per gallon, and the rich can walk around the ghetto at night and not even given a glaring stink eye. The film editors took the banal screenplay and vanilla framing and further hamper it with redundant subtitles, horrible ADR, and a way too long sequence where the characters talk about the choice of cake.

The real battle between the meek and the elite is easily seen in the acting department. Taylor Schilling and Grant Bowler, relative unknowns in film, are two dull pieces of wood and incapable of handling these too heavy of a burden roles. Dagyn's overdrive of her career life is filtered through a blank face and a robotic monotone voice by Schilling. Bowler, on the other hand, thinks heavy murmuring and very stiff mannerisms does true justice to the ruthlessness of Rearden. While these plastic dolls, especially the pretty amateur Matthew Marsden as Dagyn's brother, suck up the majority of the focus, the supporting players are the ones showing any depth and dimension. Michael Lerner, Jon Polito, and Patrick Fischler barely get any scenes despite being the main villains and they make the most of it while sabotaging the visions of both their director and Ayn Rand. While Dagyn cries over a broken railway and later an oil field, these three are actually scared of the future of human existence, even if its only their own.

The greatest fear of ATLAS SHRUGGED: PART 1 is that its absolute lackadisical and boring tone might go unknown to a lot of people. If this was a television miniseries, which considering the backgrounds of the cast and crew it truly is, it would still be very stupid but expected by the audience. Simply skip this, even when it becomes a library staple around America.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sidney Lumet - RIP

Today we lost one of the greatest and often unheralded American film directors. Sidney Lumet created and developed some of the absolute best in cinema, including some which are my all-time favorites. 12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon, Network, The Verdict.

He will be missed.