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Mini-Review: Moonrise Kingdom – A film better experienced than discussed.

When I say a movie should be a coherent experience, Moonrise Kingdom does exactly what I mean.  Wes Anderson is a master of mise en scene; that is, creating an atmosphere that reflects the film, its story, and its message.  This is usually done by sets, costumes, writing and pretty much any little piece that makes a movie.  The clever cinematography/use of tracking shots and, sometimes awkward acting and dialogue, all work well for Moonrise.  It definitely makes you feel what it could have been like to live on an isolated shore town in New England in the sixties.

 

After I saw this film, I felt that this was going to be a hard one to write about.  The more I look at it, the further I come to this conclusion.  Moonrise Kingdom speaks from the voice of childhood and nostalgia but what it’s saying is up to the audience.  I wouldn’t classify this as a “coming of age” story because no one really matures.  In fact, if anything, youth is preserved from beginning to end.  Some may not like that but I find it to be this film’s charm.  This bit may be late to the party but this is a film worth checking out as soon as possible.  If you don’t enjoy it then you’re probably a robot.

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The Room: What a Storified Tweetalong

    1. The Room.  It’s sinister.  It’s horrendous.  It’s hilarious.  It may just be one of the greatest worst movies ever made and may be the greatest thing to ever come out of San Francisco.  This post is not just any post… it is a shrine to Tommy Wiseau and his perfectly terrible genius.  I have decided that this movie is something that can’t be reviewed.  If anything, The Room has been over reviewed and it speaks for itself in the end.  It’s awkward shots, writing, directing, acting… just everything.  This film must be seen to believed.

      I now present to you…

      The Room: What a Storified Tweetalong
      “Haha.  What a storify, Alex.” ~Tommy Wiseau
      Screenshots of the carnage…
    2. Share

      “Hai doggie…” #theroom #tweetalong http://pic.twitter.com/DMrcA9kg
      Mon, Apr 16 2012 22:14:42
    3. Doggie, strong and silent type.  It’s weird, minor things like this that make The Room what it is.  What is exactly was going on in Mr. Wiseau’s head when he decided to put this bit in?  Was it just to show he was getting flower’s for Lisa?  To show he’s a nice guy because he pets the cute pug at the flower shop?
    4. Share

      My Pokemon Snap skills in action. #TheRoom #tweetalong http://pic.twitter.com/tWrgjaDI
      Mon, Apr 16 2012 22:25:46
    5. This shot pretty much sums up the movie.
    6. Share

      Why you don’t play football in tuxedos. #theroom #tweetalong http://pic.twitter.com/MgNn62Pm
      Mon, Apr 16 2012 22:56:11
    7. I didn’t notice this till now but this is a very… homoerotic shot.  Obviously it’s not intentional but once again, it’s awkward moments like these that make The Room such a classic.
    8. Share

      “Got it!” -Epic Chewing Guy #theroom #tweetalong http://pic.twitter.com/nvxymzfT
      Mon, Apr 16 2012 22:59:43
    9. Epic Chewing Guy, unsung hero of The Room.  More proof that this film has some of the worst camera work ever done.
    10. Share

      I have never noticed this till now but there’s a random guy standing in the background. #theroom #tweetalong http://pic.twitter.com/UJ4Dqpuo
      Mon, Apr 16 2012 23:04:38
    11. More awkward, unintentional homoeroticism.  Plus, a random guy loitering in the background.  I’ve seen this hilarious trainwreck so many times and did not notice him till now.
    12. Share

      No TV is safe with Johnny! #tweetalong #theroom http://pic.twitter.com/t8NYCunN
      Mon, Apr 16 2012 23:28:12
    13. How your screen feels after The Room.
    14. How do others feel about this American classic?
    15. Share
      Must get the soundtrack to #TheRoom the ladies will love it! #sinewyskin
      Mon, Apr 16 2012 17:35:31
    16. Share
      I am 25 minutes into The Room. I can’t..I can’t even…this is so…#theroom
      Mon, Apr 16 2012 00:47:39
    17. Share
      WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS MOVIE. #theroom
      Mon, Apr 16 2012 00:54:15
    18. Share
      RT @kendonak: Just had the greatest cinema experience of my life #theroom
      Mon, Apr 16 2012 21:28:50
    19. Share
      After watching 4min of Tommy Wiseau’s #TheRoom my mind literally exploded intro 100 places. #worstmovieofalltime damn it all to hell 😦
      Mon, Apr 16 2012 23:30:57
    20. Share
      #TheRoom is like really bad porno. It’s too early for this.. Thank god it’s the last week of classes
      Mon, Apr 16 2012 10:29:07
    21. My favorite quotes…
    22. Share
      “I miss you.” “I just saw you, what are you talking about…?” #theroom #tweetalong
      Mon, Apr 16 2012 22:31:14
    23. Share
      “I did not hit her, it’s bullshit I did not hit her. I DID NAUGHT!! Oh hai, Mark.” -Johnny #theroom #tweetalong
      Mon, Apr 16 2012 22:32:31
    24. Share
      “Leave your stupid comments in your pocket!” -Mark #theroom #tweetalong
      Mon, Apr 16 2012 23:15:28
    25. Share
      “Everyone betrayed me! I’m fed up with this world!” Greatest party fight scene ever. #theroom #tweetalong
      Mon, Apr 16 2012 23:22:54
    26. Best remix…

      Favorite mash-ups…



What would go great with this ?

Serve with…
Johnny Pizza
  • Half Canadian bacon, with pineapple.
  • Half artichoke with pesto.
  • Light on the cheese.

Accommodating beverage…

Scotchka

  • Half scotch
  • Half vodka

Japanese Spiderman – Not a review, just a post.

So, I was looking around and found out that Marvel’s site actually has (I’m assuming) all the episodes of Japanese Spiderman for free: http://marvel.com/tv/show/128/japanese_spiderman.  From a Spiderman fan’s personal view, I find it flat out silly and missing the things I admired about the original comics (his personal struggles, trying to live a double life, etcetera).  But, from a film nerd’s view, it’s really interesting to see a classic American superhero mixed with retro Japanese cheese.

Professor Monster may be my new favorite Spiderman villain.

I think the characters in here are quite interesting.  The villains are very clearly made for Japanese audiences (Professor Monster with the projector on his head is hilariously awesome), as well as Spiderman’s mech and Mach V-esque car.  I really liked how this Peter Parker has a sister and a much younger brother.  Parker’s girlfriend is the photographer this time, instead of him, which I find to be kind of refreshing and can see bringing some really interesting plots.  If you like odd, retro Japanese stuff then you should definitely check this out; Spiderman fan or not.

What would go great with this ?

Serve with…
California Roll
Accommodating beverage…
Sake Screwdriver

Journey – A game that blurs the line between it and film.

I have always disliked the “video games are art” argument.  It has been a weak one with little backing.  To me, a game has always been a game; not art.  My definition of art is something with the ability to move you.  The only game I have played where I recall feeling that has been the Metal Gear Solid series; the fourth one in particular.  But even then, I still felt a bit empty in the end, knowing that the whole time I was playing just a game.  I did not have the inner urge to go back to just appreciate what I experienced.  If you asked me the moment before I played Journey, I would still have this opinion.  If you asked me the moment after, I would be taking that back.

The line blurring started even before this.

It’s difficult to tell where the cutscenes end and where the gameplay begins.  For a three dimensional adventure platformer, the camera is located perfectly.  It’s not too far, it’s not too wide.  Its “over the shoulder” just enough that you don’t quite recognize that this is a game.  You actually feel the cinematic experience; you don’t feel like you’re playing it such as other cinematic games like Metal Gear or Shenmue.  Everything Journey has to offer is smooth and coherent.  Graphics, sound, camera, art direction, gameplay; there is not a moment where you doubt what you’re experiencing.

Cinematic tension well built.

The synopsis of Journey is that the cloaked entities must go on a journey to a mountain in the distance.  Along the way, utilizing online play, your cloaked being will meet others who are on the same quest.  The only way to communicate with them is through a “call button”.  Very little is described in the game itself.  A lot of gamers may not like this but in my opinion, it definitely works.  It gives a sense of mystery and alienation, something I find to be very vital to the charm of Journey.  It is not a game for the casual or “hardcore”, it is an experience.

Buddies!

What I love about Journey is how multiplayer is handled.  Every time you play, you’re meeting a new character.  They may be really helpful or absolutely clueless.  Sometimes they’ll appear, sometimes they will disappear (there are moments where you can lose your buddy).  It’s amazing how much can be understood with no dialogue and only one form of communication.  This game shows that a story doesn’t always need words; it proves that all a story requires are simple stimuli.  The lighting, the sounds, the use of colors and visuals.  It was very clear whoever directed this game studied film—which is why I believe this belongs on my blog.  During my first play through, I really felt that the boundaries between the two entertainment mediums were being blurred.  A critic of the arts may not like the sound of this but I do feel this piece opens up a whole new field for new stories to be told.  More game designers and companies need to follow Journey‘s path.

Contrast to show fast paced action.

If you have a PlayStation 3 and fifteen bucks to burn, buying Journey would be money well spent.  I have replayed this “experience” more than five times and have not been bored.  There are quite a handful of secrets to unlock and the ending will make you shed a tear.  This is an experience with purpose and meaning: the beauty of struggle, the cycle of life and, ultimately, why we want to live.  It may sound like this is a deep movie and, stepping back, it really is; an interactive one at that.

What would go great with this ?

Serve with…
Chicken Shawarma
Accommodating beverage…
Moroccarita

Rating:

Critic Value: 10/10

For once, a game that has literary voice and more than just a message or two… without using any words.  Once again, it’s an experience that requires you to recollect yourself after.

Quality Value: 10/10

Graphics, sounds, visuals, gameplay are all A grade.

Entertainment Value: 10/10

As I said up in the Critic Value section, it’s an experience that requires you to recollect yourself once finished.  It’s a game that cannot technically end.  It’s a piece about the marriage of purpose and life.  You must play it to believe it.

NOTE: Congratulations developers behind Journey and the members of thatgamecompany, you are the first to receive full 10 out of 10s on my blog!

Movie Review App for iPhone – Critiview

One major thing that the App Store lacks in is a good movie review application.  Sure, there’s IMDb’s but their rating system is too broad.  There is also Flixster that has Rotten Tomatoes in it but its focus isn’t just movie reviews and the last time I checked it out, I don’t think there was a way to contribute reviews.  You could only give a rating.  Though, I may be wrong on this one because the last time I used it was about two years ago and I didn’t see any sort of add comment/review feature for the app.   So, now, I present a rough sketch done in Photoshop (which is difficult when you’re using a laptop with a Celeron processor and only 2 gigs of RAM):

The name of this application is Critiview and it shows you the application’s top reviews for movies currently playing.  Critiview’s purpose is to give users on the fly reviews when trying to figure out what to see, depending on the theater (as you can see, it’s broken up between “mainstream” and “art house”).

When you click on a movie, this is the page that will come up.  It will feature the review with its rating, whether you agree with it or not (similar to Digg’s), and comments users can make about the review.  The Coming Soon button shows what movies will be coming out soon and if the community is anticipating them or not.  This will be determined by using a similar (up/agree, down/disagree) voting system the reviews have in them.  Search will allow users to search for movies previously reviewed, as well as use a location based system to tell them what movies are playing in their area and at which theaters.  More will give users the ability to write a review for a movie they just saw, edit their profile, access the application’s settings, and visit Critiview’s site in their phone’s browser.  This is a very rough outline but I would really love a much better, more focused movie review phone application.

 

Also, points if you get the references.

Party Monster – A movie that might have been a little too ahead of its time.

If I were to say this movie was ahead of its time, you’d probably roll your eyes at me. I can’t really blame you because this one isn’t for everybody and definitely not every critic. Unless you have a love for electronic music and cult films, Monster Party can be hard to digest. Within the first ten minutes, I felt as if I was watching a parody of the made-for-tv biopics that were so popular during the 90s; coincidentally, the era which this film takes place. This movie was released in 2003, several years after Michael Alig was convicted. Even though I’m a huge electronic music fan, I never heard of Party Monster and never would have if I didn’t scroll through my girlfriend’s recommended movies on Netflix. I kinda-sorta knew who Michael Alig was, what he was known for, and what he was convicted of but didn’t know there was a movie (or book, for that matter) on the ordeal… and nor did I ever think I would see Macaulay Caulkin and Seth Green together in drag.

“I’m not addicted to drugs, I’m addicted to glamor.”

The thing this movie does the best is capture the cheesy 90s with its mise-en-scene. The costumes, sets/shooting locations, and shots. It may not be perfect and I doubt the directors intentionally made this movie seem like a 90’s made-for-tv biopic but the feeling is there, accidental or not. It is nowhere on the level of The Artist, when it comes to capturing film style of another era, but its nostalgic entertainment factor was there for me. This (possibly unintentional) gimmick also works for Party Monster in some parts too. Some examples include the trashy, live New York talk show and when the local news covers one of their parties. Not saying their transitions are fluid but it helps reinforce the “hey, this is the nineties” atmosphere; something that was probably too early for people to register on when it was released in ’03.  Another thing that made me feel that the made-for-tv cheese was intentional is how boldly the direction switches during the drug hallucination scenes. They might have been stereotypical with the fast cuts, fish eyed lenses, and unsettling shot positions, but they did break that 90’s made-for-tv mold where drugs are typically portrayed as dark and eerie.  It would have been too much if it went down that path and it probably wouldn’t have aged into “cult status” like it has today.

How to be Fabulous by Seth Green

My major confusion is whether this is supposed to be a parody or homage to 90s cheese–if it really is intentional.  Another thing that leads me to thinking so is when John St. John (Seth Green) makes a comment towards the end of the film saying Michael Alig (Macaulay Caulkin) was making the movie seem like an after school special, spiking the camera right when he says it. I also feel that my uncertainty of this is drawn from how it ended.  I was left wanting more; arguably what all the characters wanted throughout Party Monster: excess. Party Monster is such a twisted, charismatic movie that being left with nothing was probably the only way it could end.

What would go great with this ?

Serve with…
Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese
Accommodating beverage…
Jolly Rancher Vodka

 

Rating:

Critic Value: 8/10 for me, 4-6/10 for most.

It’s not a film for all critics.  If you don’t know anything about the subcultures depicted in this film, you’re not going to really get the “dangers of excess” message.  But if you do get it, I doubt you’ll get all of it with just one viewing.

Quality Value: 6/10

It feels low budget but in the end it worked in its favor.

Entertainment Value: 8/10

I felt really engaged through this whole movie.  Macaulay Caulkin plays Michael Alig without you ever questioning it; even James St. James admitted this in an interview when asked about his opinion on the casting of the two main roles.  It’s campiness is also a contributing factor to the entertainment value, as well as its cult status.

What to expect…

Food and film, two four letter “f” words that need to be appreciated more often.  This blog is to help piece the two together to help create a wonderful experience that you and others can enjoy.

Some favorite movies and TV shows of mine that I plan to match up with food (not in order)…

  • Blade Runner (sci-fi drama, movie)
  • Synecdoche, New York (drama, movie)
  • Farewell, My Concubine (drama, movie)
  • Battle Star Galactica (sci-fi drama, TV)
  • Arrested Development (comedy, TV)
  • Trailer Park Boys (comedy, TV)
  • The Room (b-rate, movie)
  • Holy Flame of the Martial World (b-rate kung-fu, movie)
  • Voltage Fighter Gowcaizer (b-rate anime, movie)

And of course, there will be more to come.  I’m sure new stuff I will see as this blog progresses will probably bump down my favorites on the list but I have to give you an appetizer, right?  : )

P.S. …

My Rating System

Critic Value: xx/10

How it rates from a critic’s perspective.

Quality Value: xx/10

Sometimes it can really make or break a movie.  This is more so how the production quality really works (sometimes poor production can make a movie good and vice versa, believe it or not).

Entertainment Value: xx/10

Even bad movies have their level of entertainment.