Monday, April 30, 2012

My Most Anticipated Summer Movies: 2012 Edition

1. Moonrise Kingdom

Summer is supposedly blockbuster season, so maybe it doesn't seem right to have a Wes Anderson movie on top. However, I have always held a special place in my heart for Anderson's work ever since I first saw "The Royal Tenenbaums" in theaters when I was too young to understand references to Jacques Cousteau. Every once in a while, it's nice to take a break from the loud explosions of the usual summer fare for something a little more character driven and down to earth. So far, the trailer has promised yellow font and a possibly deranged Bill Murray carrying an ax. I'm sold.

2. The Dark Knight Rises

This one just seems to go without saying. I get chills every time I watch this trailer, from the image of the football field blowing up, to Catwoman's (Anne Hathaway) prophecy of doom. It might be hard to live up to Heath Ledger's The Joker as a villain, but then again, that would be hard for any movie to do. Christopher Nolan has found a way to save the summer blockbuster. Here's hoping the midnight showings aren't sold out already.

3. The Campaign

This new political comedy does not have a poster or even a trailer yet. However, it really doesn't need either. Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis will play rivaling southern politicians. Jason Sudekis, Brian Cox, and Dan Aykroyd co-star. Chris Henchy and Shawn Harwell of "Eastbound & Down" penned it. There is no way I am not seeing this.

4. The Amazing Spider-Man

It may be too soon for a "Spider-Man" reboot, as "Spider-Man 3" graced theaters with its franchise-ruining abilities just five years ago. However, director Marc Webb ("500 Days of Summer") has admirable ambitions for this project. It certainly helps that "The Amazing Spider-Man" plans to bring a Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) who is much more faithful to the Peter Parker of the original comic book. A Spider-Man who creates a web shooting device is a lot more intriguing than a Spider-Man standing on top of a roof yelling, "Go web, go!"

5. Prometheus

I fear that supporting "Prometheus" is in effect supporting the sequel/remake/prequel/reboot culture that currently runs Hollywood. However, this "Alien" prequel brings back Ridley Scott, who directed the original movie in 1979. He brought a slow, creeping suspense that is typically no longer allowed in movies nowadays. Here's hoping he can return to that form, and influence all other filmmakers who want to make the next great science fiction movie.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Movie Review: Submarine

Okay, everyone. Time to put on a scarf, thick-frame glasses, and turn your record player on. That's right, it's time to get quirky.*

"Submarine" is a very Welsh film directed by someone who is distinctly English, with a distinctly English sense of humor. Funny, as it begins with a note from the narrator Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) notifying the American audience that there is indeed a difference between being English and being Welsh. This is not the last time Oliver Tate will try and screw with your head in the most deviously playful way possible.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Movie Review: The Last Picture Show

"You ain't ever gonna amount to nothing."

The first and last shots of "The Last Picture Show" are nearly identical. However, one is in reverse of the other. The movie marquee, once presenting the next showing, is now empty. After the last picture show has ended, there is not much left to do.

"The Last Picture Show" is such a vivid and knowledgeable portrayal of life in a small Texan town, that it would seem only to come from memory. Yet, director Peter Bogdanovich grew up in Kingston, New York, a place bearing no resemblance to rural Texas. He's just that good of a filmmaker.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Why Hollywood Hates Your Stupid Suburb

Well, I guess everything nice can go a little bad, too.

While watching this past weekend's excellent new "Mad Men" episode "Signal 30," I realized something that I should have understood long ago: Hollywood loves to hate on suburbia. The offsprings of cities have come to represent boredom and loss of youth, amongst other things. They can be purgatory or hell, depending on how you look at it. Even when they do look nice, there is usually some joke behind it. In front of the camera,  a suburban town never looks like a purely good place to live.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Levon Helm: 1940-2012

After a long battle with cancer, Levon Helm, drummer and singer for The Band, died today. He was 71.

The Band had all the right in the world to carry such a simple name, as quite simply there is no other band like them. Unfortunately, I know less of the inner workings of music than I do of television and film. But when I like music, I just get that inescapable feeling. Of the short playlist of songs the classic rock station I listened to growing up played over and over, "The Weight" is the only one I never tired of.

Imagine my surprise when I finally saw "Easy Rider" and heard this song playing as Hopper and Fonda rode choppers through the American West. Every time I heard that song soon after, I saw desserts and red rocky formations. I saw a chunk of America right there within its verses.

The Band were the main subject of another iconic movie: Martin Scorsese's rock documentary "The Last Waltz," which documented The Band's last concert. Helm has been a huge part of both my film and music education.

We will never have a band quite like The Band again, nor a musician quite like Levon Helm.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Analog This: Ron Swanson Makes a Bobblehead of Himself

I suggest you put everything down now and watch.

No seriously, I know you are all busy. And I understand, that's fine. You probably already have enough Kony 2012 videos to watch. But here is a video that might make you a better person, one where you will learn something you never thought you could.

Here is a video of Nick Offerman, better known to everyone else as Ron Swanson of "Parks and Recreation," making a Ron Swanson bobblehead. Offerman, like the legendary mustached character he plays, is known for being something of a heathen when it comes to technology. Also, woodworking is a hobby of his.  He makes everything from canoes to chairs. It makes me wonder what I could accomplish if social media and the internet were never invented.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Top 5: Movies I will Watch to Completion Whenever They are on TV

You know that feeling. You're cruising through the channels and suddenly, you come across a movie. Maybe the game is on in 10 minutes, or you're just in commercial break from [insert reality show that everyone watches here] and it's that one movie that you've seen so many times. You can recite every line to it and yet, you can watch it again and again. Even though it has been on for an hour, watching it to completion feels necessary. I would like to present with you now my list of movies that I will watch anytime I find them on TV. Some have been acknowledged as masterpieces. Others, meanwhile, may have you questioning my credibility. Read the complete list after the jump.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Analog This: Community, Pillow Fights, and Storytelling Algorithems

 The Changlourious Basterds.
Earlier this week, while reading a document for my English class, I realized something: studying theory can really suck, especially when words such as "interpellation" are used every other word. So I vow now, when discussing a comedic pop culture artifact* such as "Community," I will do all I can to stay away from such language.

This seems necessary, especially when the story at hand is about how a pillow fight turns into war.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Analog This: The Trailer for Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom

No, I have not seen "The West Wing" yet. I also have not seen "Sports Night" or "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." The first two are on my to-watch list. However, I have seen "The Social Network," and I still tune in to it every time it is on TV, and I know that Aaron Sorkin is a writer like no other. Sorkin is back, with an upcoming drama for HBO called "The Newsroom." It looks like a Sorkin drama in every way, crackling with fast, whip-smart dialogue. And maybe it will bring HBO, the original purveyor of quality drama on cable, the new hit show that they have not had in years. The premiere is on June 24 and you can watch the trailer below. Let's see how many episodes it takes for Jeff Daniels to scream, "I am mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore!":

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Movie Review: 21 Jump Street

If Hollywood wants to continue remaking movies, then remakes must declare themselves as being one. That helps in making "21 Jump Street," a modern update of the TV series that made Johnny Depp a star, so good.

Early in the movie, when Chief Hardy (Nick Offerman) is assigning mismatched officers Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) to a new job as undercover officers at a local high school, he notes that the people who make these assignments lack creativity and instead steal old ideas from the 80s. The studio was truly a good sport on this one.