Monday, December 20, 2010

Hurting My Hand

Hey guys, haven't updated in a while. This is one of the things I've been up to:

This is a few riffs from one of the acoustic songs I'm working on off my upcoming solo CD. I've only recently started getting into fingerstyle guitar so it's something I'm just exploring now. Hope you all dig it!

Also, as a quick plug, I'm going to recommend checking out my buddy Chris' video reel, featuring music by yours truly. It's called 'Rebel without a cause' and Chris' photography really makes my music look greater than I could have imagined when writing the song.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Review: Edge of Darkness

I'm sorry but this needs to be discussed. After what seems like decades since Mel Gibson has shown his face in a film, he has returned and just thought we'd all be OKAY with it. I mean, this is the guy that for the past four years has been in the news beating on officers about anti-Jewish psychobabble and directed Apocalypto. I remember clearly seeing those fake heads rolling down those Aztec stairs and was thinking, maybe Mel Gibson isn't as sane as we all hope his is. Maybe we're all more just too scared of him to otherwise not say his films are questionable. Either that or you do a film about Jesus and you get so many check and black marks to your name its really hard to determine what you can say about the guy.

'I'm gettin' too old for this shit," a wise man once said. That's what Mel Gibson could have said before he signed on for Edge of Darkness. I wouldn't have cared if I ever saw Mel Gibson's face on screen again if this movie hadn't of come out either, but alas, it did and now I'm faced with the jaw dropping realization that perhaps Mel Gibson should be seen more often. I'm not saying I want him playing the goofy father in the latest Disney movie with Miley Cyrus' newly revealed third personality or to be the voice of some CGI Dreamworks pic, I more mean if every once in a while, some corporate/legal thriller with need of ass-kickery came out with Mel Gibson slotted in for the main role, you might catch me in the theater more often.

Edge of Darkness is a quick to the chase mind bender based around a police officer losing his daughter. Police assume that he was the primary target for the killing and begin to build their case around that assumption, whereas Kraven (Gibson) isn't easily convinced and begins to investigate his daughter's life in search for a possible reason why someone could have wanted his daughter dead.

I know I'm a sucker for the lost child angle, there is nothing worse than a parent losing their son or daughter, Minority Report, Shutter Island, these films just seem to get to me emotionally because of that angle. It's something that not only is universal but is in my opinion very effective when captured on film. There is something about the grief of loss that when really explored in film transcends words or images, take Minority Report for instance: you really feel John Anderton's apartment when he or Colin Farrell's character walk into it. It looks like a terrarium, like the place he lives is its own environment; his apartment in every way reflects his state of being: it is divided, on edge, disorganized and a place of excess and haunting memories. Having such a powerful emotional drive behind a character not only connects the character to the audience, but also to the cinematographer because now he can capture that raw emotion and have the ability to subtly explore those themes through images and little half hints that you may notice and get something from if manage to catch.

There is something universal in this theme, the loss of a child. Those who have gone through it understand the loss, those who haven't can only imagine. Mel Gibson's revenge is the same as Liam Neeson's need to save his daughter in Taken, and though I can see many similarities between both Taken and Edge of Darkness, I personally think that Edge of Darkness is a much less of an action film and more a personal story and a personal story is always the best to get your audience really rooting for your characters.

That is what this film did more that anything, kept it a personal story. You really do feel that Mel Gibson has lost the only thing that mattered in his life, Thomas Kraven's little girl was the only girl in his life and she was taken away from him and now he's got nothing left but a lot of unanswered questions. Some of the best segments are those of Kraven at his home and in the flashbacks with his daughter as a child, what the filmmakers managed to pull off was building the character's back story and history without ever going into it to explain it all, much like in Minority Report with Tom Cruise's apartment, Thomas Kraven's home just screams this man's life in every shot, every close up of a photo album or picture frame, case file, chair, that old mantelpiece, whatever; the viewers see this home as a place that once held love and history.

And then there's the legal/corporate mind game and the action and all that. I've managed to talk quite a bit about the emotional draw of the movie and not much about the very well done and executed fight scenes and explosions and car crashes and mystery and what have you. I can say a number of things about all the nice action and confusion along the ride but I think this review has gone on long enough for you to be bored by now or maybe enticed to see the film. What separates Edge of Darkness from any other corporate thriller these days is its deeply rooted personal themes and humanity. This film is not something new, merely it is something very good. Mel Gibson, hats off to you, you crazy, crazy person.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

KA-ZARJGH: The Michael Bay Syndrome

Near the beginning of the millennium I began to really appreciate the film industry in its beginnings to show really impressive improvements in the fields of visual effects and CGI. I clearly remember being young, seeing The Rocketeer and being damn impressed. Later on I saw TRON. Then suddenly with the explosion of high budget action films, VFX became a large role in many of the top grossing films. So much that then wholly computer animated films became the iron fisted leader of the animation world. Disney died along with it. But at least they gave us The Rocketeer.

I liked seeing the The Matrix, you know? A nice neo-Gnostic reincarnation through one of science fiction's darkest dreams of artificial intelligence. A story that made sense- for the most part, acting that was tolerable- for the most part, Keanu, and wicked CGI that was to my young eyes unprecedented. I remember seeing Dragonheart a little before that and even at that age I was saying, 'Big green screen, Dennis Quaid isn't talking to anyone and Sean Connery is no dragon.'

It was a time then that I was naive in general but I didn't think I was being naive when it came to movies. People around me started dissing the awesome effects and graphics coming out of films and saying that they didn't look real. I had no qualms about that at the time because I didn't care if it looked real enough as long as the movie was still awesome. And for a good long time it stuck like that, where most of the really big budget films with the awesome effects, CGI, puppeteers, props and sets were the best of the films that were coming out.

Now I'm drowning in overproduced CGI saturated films. Pixar started pissing me off and it took Bluray for me to find my love for most of them again because for a good while except for certain exceptions, CGI started to go downhill and I started to enjoy more films that were more down to earth or at least didn't have five lens flares seen in between a given blink.

Which brings me to the flares. Did anyone see the new Clash of the Titans? Way to throw storyline and character arcs out the door. They had the chance to be legendary. Liam Neeson was Zeus for godssakes, how could they fuck that up? I bet if we did shots to the artificial lens flares seen in this film, anyone under 7 feet tall would have alcohol poisoning. I'm not doing a review of Clash of the Titans now, I can't be bothered enough to try to remember all of it because there was so little story in between action that by the end of it, I didn't even care if Hades won or not, fuck, if Ralph Fiennes wants to rule the Heavens, I'm all for him. The whole damn film leads up to the fight between Avatar boytoy Sam Worthington and the Kraken and he manages to not even touch it to kill it in mere seconds, the whole movie crashing down with the awful bits of stony Kraken meat falling into the Greek ocean. Then came the fight between Worthington and Hades, which again, lasts thirty seconds the most. One of the most anti-climactic films I have ever seen but do you what? Wow, was that Pegasus pretty. The monsters were awful beasts that for the most part seemed real enough to be feared in a CGI sense, the polygon count would be staggering.

All I'm saying is that in a world where technology in CG and VFX has become this advanced, it is far too easy to get carried away with what looks ridiculous and mistake that for something that is synonymous with blockbuster. If I wanted to watch something that has immense graphics and zero storyline I would watch the DragonBall movie again, no more can I have directors who flaunt their CG friend's talents while paying zero attention to their script. If the budget calls for more CG than talented actors who are convincing in their roles, your movie sucks no matter what goofy bow you strap on for wrapping. Worst Christmas gift ever.

This Michael Bay-ishness must come to an end. If your movie is just KABOOM then don't try to convince me otherwise by cutting your trailer with intrigue as its motive, DO NOT GET ME INTERESTED IN SOMETHING THAT IS GARB. All I can tell by the Transformers movies is that they sure know how to market explosions.

Directors need to like church and state divide the advancements in CG from their film's message because if the two become confused for the one another or synonymous, we lose what film is really about: the development of ideas through visuals and storyline, the revealing of character and emotion, the discovery of pieces of ourselves in the heroes and villains that appear in a film.
We need to realize that an original idea transcends everything else and unless your film has that why are you wasting people's time? Why waste your time?

It took you a full year-2 years to put together that awful mosaic of explosions, lens flares, tits and epicness? Hope it was it was worth it because you got nothing to show for it.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

First Steps Music Video Youtube

I submitted the music video my band performs on and I directed this year at college to Youtube two weeks back. It took us from late September to early March to complete this bad boy but it was worth it and it looks great. Along with writing the song and producing the album, I directed the video, made several of the 2D cell animations used and did lots of the coloring/effect work.

Aidan Kennedy was my director of photography and was a great cameraman for what shoots we had. Three. Three very necessary and metal shoots. Running around in the woods has never been so much fun.

Tyler Sellars was my producer and he was great from the get go basically letting me do my crazy thing whilst trying to keep us on track. Produced. Metal. Produced.

Christopher Faria fulfilled the role of Vocalist/Editor/Stop Motion Extraordinaire/Dark Lord Kromdor. Not enough can be said about anyone on the crew but I think Chris really needs a little extra being that if it were not for the commitment made between him and I, the video would have turned out very differently and nowhere near as good as it has. So there's that.

Mantakor are currently recording our first EP, Chamber of Iron Trees which I will post songs from or links to them hopefully within the week. We have a Myspace page, , so check that out if you're impatient for early songs.

But without further ado, after many months of labor and love: First Steps by Mantakor

Review: Nic Cage & Werner Hossephepher's Bad Lieutenant

Hey, about time crazy Nic Cage went back to being crazy ol' Nic Cage. Plus his hair didn't look ridiculous, as it has in every last Nic Cage movie within the past what, four years now. I used to really think Nic Cage was where its at: Con Air, Adaptation, Raising Arizona, Matchstick Men, The Rock - I was almost tired at that point of how many GOOD movies this guy had been in.

Maybe I just had to wait around for Ghost Rider to usher in a sea of shit coming from his general direction. Not to say that Nic Cage was the worst part of Ghost Rider, Ghost Rider being Ghost Rider made it awful and having a seasoned actor come in on a project that already had shitty writing and concepts didn't save the sinking ship. I know some people like Ghost Rider but I dont know how many of the people who back up the movie have seen it more than twice. Why would you? You could ride a bike. Or watch another movie.

Then there was the two or three year stretch where every Nic Cage movie involved clues and puzzles, labyrinths and codes, and it was around this time that slowly I began to notice something very disturbing:

Is Nic Cage slowly turning into Jimmy Stewart?

Seriously. Check it out. The lisp, the goofiness, the sharp wit when serious, the silly laugh. His voice in my opinion is getting ridiculous. If only at the last scene of Knowing they could find out that all the evil aliens were Mr. Potter's goons and if they don't find out the clues found in the stupid number clue sheet from the goofy goddamned time capsule there won't be Christmas for the poor kids.

Which, I think, maybe, brings me back to Bad Lieutenant. Now, having seen Harvey Kietel's Bad Lieutenant several years ago, I personally was happy enough with one crazy motherfucker cop doing crack off of hookers and jacking off in public in a movie called Bad Lieutenant already. So I had my skeptic radar on high and I was very fearful indeed at this horrid remake and Nic Cage combination.

But alas, due to a recommendation from a cousin of mine I checked out what I figured would be horrible but turned out to be a little more than decent, border-lining on good. Sure it had everything the first Bad Lieutenant had, lots of drugs, violence, abuse, hookers, gambling, lying, cheating and all that essential crooked cop goodness, but what it also had was a semblance of story and dark cleverness that isn't prevalent in many movies today.

Nic Cage is fucking crazy. In this movie, the man is simply nuts. I like it. Made up for Eva Mendes coming back for more, back from Ghost Rider with a supporting cast vengeance. And I saw you too, Val Kilmer; always a pleasure seeing that chap on the screen, not counting Top Gun, that is. Sorry Ice Man.

I suggest checking out the new Bad Lieutenant. It may not be a buyer, but check it, even.

Site Up

Well I managed to do the five or so clicks and three - four type jobs needed to be performed in order to make this blog so I'd say that's a five or so six clicks and three to four types well done, right?

I guess I'll just say welcome to all those who will end up on this site maybe one day; it will be future home to my rantings, ravings, art, music and video projects and maybe some other random things I'll try along the way. I don't care for Facebook or Twitter to keep in contact with people so I figured if I'd make a website for me I could just update people on my life from here and therefore eliminate all the other people who really wouldn't care otherwise.

I imagine I'll throw up art works, links to youtube (I'll try to make it mostly stuff I personally post, not just stuff I might happen to 'dig'), music, who knows. I'm too scatterbrained to concentrate on less than seven things in a given sitting or standing so expect lunacy in all shapes, forms and sizes but granted you came to the site in the first place, I doubt you were expecting nothing less.