Latest Blog Posts

by Bill Gibron

3 Aug 2012


Sometimes, we should just go along for the ride. We need to shut our brains down, forget logical and logistical reasoning, and simply let the eye candy fill us with nutritionally unsound cinematic satisfaction. This is the argument we film fans frequently make, especially in light of a mess of a movie like the recent Total Recall remake. While the original is no bastion of reason and rationality, it contains a central premise (the creation of an atmosphere on Mars by someone who may or may not be a secret agent) that holds up to most scrutiny (not ALL, most). Sure, we could pick it apart in a dozen different ways, but at least we get a handle on why our hero Quaid and his resistance fighters would want to prevent the dictatorial Cohaagen from “giving da peee-ple AAAAAAIRRRRRR! ’ It’s a question of money and control.

In this unnecessary remake, the plot has been reduced to—SPOILER ALERT—a land grab. That’s right, even in the far off, post-apocalyptic future, real estate is a scarce commodity and this entire flimsy film premise is based around Cohaagen’s desire to make room for more people on an otherwise uninhabitable planet. Huh? Birth control not an option? Exactly. Unfortunately, this is not the only element about this lame Len Wiseman effort that’s bothersome. From the unimportance given to Melina as Quaid’s connection to “reality” to that lack of any significant “what if,” this is speculative fiction at its most flawed. As a matter of fact, we have pulled out 10 topics within this mélange of mediocrity that kept pulling us out of the otherwise arresting visual feast. When your cast and your set designs are more polished than your script and your directing, you know you’re in trouble.

by Bill Gibron

31 Jul 2012


Is there a more interesting motion picture chameleon than Danny Boyle. From his early days in theater and his stint at the BBC, few could fathom what he would eventually turn into. Now, after introducing the world to his beloved home country as artistic director of the 2012 London Olympics, the Oscar winning filmmaker is back in the spotlight… and oh, how pretty the glare is. Few could have imagined, way back at the midpoint of the ‘90s, that this maverick would end up one of the best directors currently working. Yes, his films showed that flash of promise, but as quickly as he came up, he was set back by his own choices. It took a good five years for Boyle to get back on track, but when he did… in fact, it’s safe to say that, post problems, he has become one of most dependable and different auteurs. He has vision. He has ambition. And he takes risks. Lots of them.

With the games going gangbusters, it’s time to reflect on Boyle’s career behind the lens. A few caveats have to be mentioned, however. First, we are avoiding anything he did for television. This means we will not be ranking Strumpet, Vacuuming Completely Nude in Paradise, or the things he did prior to 1991. We also won’t be addressing his sole short (Alien Love Triangle) or his choices as producer. No, we will deal exclusively with the nine films he’s fashioned from 1994 onward, with one wild card thrown in for good measure. When viewed in total, this list becomes an unique perspective on an even more unusual talent. Boyle may be known for taking chances and exceeding expectations, but he’s far from perfect. In fact, the first two films here show that, when pushed and pulled by outside (read: studio) sources, he can come up with crap, beginning with…

by Bill Gibron

25 Jul 2012


First, it was movement. Then, color. Finally sound cemented film as something more than a photographic fluke. Indeed, as the artform grew and took shake, several “gimmicks” were employed to keep the people interested. After the dark days of magic lanterns and other optical entertainments, the zoetrope and its imitation of life made the movies legit. Then came the advent of the whole 24 frames per second dynamic. Throw in a few tints, some poorly recorded voice and music, and a juggernaut was unleashed. Since the first quarter of the 20th century, however, studios and those stuck getting butts into seats have been trying to find a way to up the ante. From artistic invention to flat out flimflams, the gimmick has been a major part of the motion picture experience.

Now, a near 100 years later, we’re still looking. As part of today’s terrain, we have feigned interactivity (hit a button on your seat, vote for where the plot goes next), seats on actuators and gimbles (to mimic movement), and the newfound affection for an increased frame rate. Not unlike the Spook Shows of the ‘50s and ‘60s which saw actors dress up as monsters to torment and tease a vulnerable audience, the modern gimmickry is all smoke and ticket sales mirrors. Still, it’s interesting to reflect on the extremes some will go to in order to make money with their movies. From the oldest bait and switch tricks in the book to some of the most imaginative publicity ever propagated, the cinematic stunt remains part of the process. Here are 10 intriguing examples of its application, from the sensible to the surreal. While almost always about money, there’s a little magic to be found here as well.

by Bill Gibron

17 Jul 2012


Which side do you come down on? Are you a purist, pushing for a version of the comic book hero yet unseen by audience eyes? Do you prefer the animated efforts, highly praised takes on the character and his caped crusade? Perhaps you enjoy the clean camp comedy of the ‘60s incarnation, or the gleeful Goth gloom of one Tim Burton. No matter who you celebrate—Schumacher or Nolan—the Batman franchise has been fascinating to watch. While many are unaware of the seminal serial version of the character from a time when movie used to pack in the added value, almost everyone remembers Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, and now Christian Bale. These are the Batmen within our frame of reference, Bruce Wayne as a tightly wound tycoon using his money and influence to fight crime (and later on, more than a few inner demons).

But where, exactly, do you come down on the whole cinematic interpretations debate? Are you in the late ‘80s camp, or the actual Peace Decade literalization of same? Is the grounded, more realistic Bat your bag, or do you long for the days when Adam West would don the cowl and do the Batusi? With time, the attempts at bringing this otherwise ordinary man with a boatload of cash and a vendetta the size of Saturn has been both supremely satisfying and awkwardly unrewarding. With the last installment of Nolan’s Knight about to hit theaters, let’s assess the delights… and the damage, shall we. Let’s rank the main Batman movies (sorry, no serials or cartoon adaptations will be addressed) to see just how these divergent offerings stand up. A few choices may surprise you, while the usual suspects slink toward the bottom, beginning with the obvious:

by Bill Gibron

10 Jul 2012


They’re not the franchises we look forward to. They’re not the latest from Christopher Nolan or the Marvel comic universe. Instead, they’re the flukes, the unfathomable continuing series that make no sense cinematically or artistically. The only reason they exist, aside from the desire by audiences to see what the latest installment has in store, is that all powerful predictor of success and support: money. Indeed, what makes any franchise a viable business model is the notion that name alone will guarantee good box office (or in the case of direct to video variables, continuing rentals and sell-throughs). And it’s not just on the home front. Many members of this corrupt collective get by because non-English speaking countries just can’t get enough of their action oriented/brightly colored creativity.

Still, you will notice a bit of a pattern here. Among the ten listings, half are oriented around the wee ones. Kids, it seems, are the primary cause of an unnecessary franchise. Just give them moving objects, brightly tinted caricatures, and just enough interest to keep their already lax attention span in check, and the results reap profits. Of the other five, three are horror an two cater to tweens—again, demographics that eat up almost everything put in front of them. While here are many more entries we could offer, we’ve chosen to avoid those based on other source material (sorry potential #1 Twilight) or with certain successes among their failures (aka the Burton/Schumacher Batman films). No, these are the 10 continuing legacies that should have been stopped before they could aesthetically procreate again, beginning with one of Full Moon’s most memorable:

//Mixed media
//Blogs

Ubisoft Understands the Art of the Climb

// Moving Pixels

"Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed and Grow Home epitomize the art of the climb.

READ the article