Blog Archives

More Trailers, People

Trailer have come out of the woodwork lately. First, everybody was wondering about Michel Gondry’s stance on “The Green Hornet” will be. We got our answer in the first trailer for the flick that has been pushed back to January 2011 to convert it into 3D. Holy shit! This movie is going to bomb big time.

Judging by the trailer it looks like a fun ride with Seth Rogen as the titular character, Jay Chou as his sidekick Kato, Cameron Diaz as the love interest Lenore, Tom Wikinson as Jack Reid and Christoph Waltz as the bad guy, Chudnofsky. It also stars Edward Furlong and  Edward James Olmos.

There is another trailer for the documentary about former football player turned soldier, Pat Tillam called “Tehe Tillman Story.”

It recounts the circumstances from the attacks on 9/11, his decision to join the military, his subsequent death that made national headlines, him being branded a hero. But the story doesn’t stop there. His family was not convinced about the circumstances of his death. They investigate to discover a military cover-up about the day he died. The movie is set for release August 20th.

BONUS: After posting this entry, a red band trailer for the upcoming “Predators” movie coming out July 9th. This trailer is spoilerish about certain plot points.

Have a look if you dare?

Of Time and the City (2009)

I have never heard of Of Time and the City until I noticed that this was on Michael Phillip’s 2009 list on the now canceled At the Movies. Let’s have a moment of silence. It came highly recommend with a Metacritic score of 81. I knew very little of the movie until I saw it. I don’t get what the fuss is all about.

British actor/director Terence Davies wanted to transport the viewer to his childhood when he was growing up in Liverpool. Instead of writing a memoir recounting every detail of his life, he decides to create a documentary using newsreel and documentary footage from that era to illustrate his narration.

It starts like a secret movie club with a screen uncovered from behind a curtain. The movie starts with the said footage as Terence recounts growing up in a time where strict religious upbringing clashes with hedonistic pleasures, the daily struggles of the working class, the Korean War, mocking the Queen Elizabeth II, the privilege of the royal family, the rise of The Beatles, the decay of his town and the resurgence of the city now.

I thought it was be a journey with Terence Davies physically goes back to Liverpool and recounts his life and how the city has changed. It felt distant. Sometimes I felt bored. There were minutes were you saw endless footage and swelling music. The movie peppered with prose and Davies reciting poems and quotes, but it felt like it has times undeserved praise.

Judgment: You could only enjoy this movie if you are from that time and era.

Rating: **

Food, Inc. (2009)

There are no seasons in the American supermarket. Now there are tomatoes all year round, grown halfway around the world, picked when it was green, and ripened with ethylene gas. Although it looks like a tomato, it’s kind of a notional tomato. I mean, it’s the idea of a tomato.

— Michael Pollan

Food, Inc. is another documentary that flew under the radar to general audiences. I have heard about this movie before it was nominated for Best Documentary Feature. Numerous podcasts were talking about that when you see this movie, it would make you a vegetarian. While this film didn’t make me a vegetarian, it made me sad for the fried chicken that I had for dinner that night.

Director Robert Kenner delves into world that Americans don’t know about the food that they have been ordering in fast food restaurants across their country. Where does the meat in those Big Macs or Chicken Club Sandwiches come from? This documentary sheds light on the notion that we think that when we goes to grocery stores there is a lot of varieties on the shelves. The truth is that four companies control almost of all of the meat that is served to Americans everyday.

Corporations like Tyson are placing growth hormones in feed to make chickens grow rapidly. The chickens’ bones cannot support the weight of their ever changing bodies. The beef industry has a huge slaughterhouses that are force feeding cows to eat corn so they could grown big and fat to be slaughtered. The problem is with these huge slaughterhouses is cows are cannot digest the corn in their four stomachs, they stand in their own shit, when they are slaughtered nobody is testing for any contamination.

You think that the FDA or the USDA would step in to regulate the food industry? Wrong. The corporations are trying to force the feds out of their plants. They are turning to high tech solutions to try to solve the country’s problem. There is still leaks in the system where the Mad Cow’s Disease was found in tainted meat, the E.Coli scares in the past couple of years in ground beef and spinach or the salmonella poisoning in peanut butter.

The companies are buying independent farmers to work for them by forcing them into massive debt to upgrade their chicken coops or the way their crops are utilized. The ways that corporate products like soda, hamburgers, etc are cheap and fresh vegetables are expensive. The average American family has to go to the drive thru than buy fresh vegetables, because it’s cheaper. The chemicals in the food are focusing the obesity epidemic and are leading the diabetes in most people.

This movie is a call to action for farmer to stand up to the corporate greed, to go to the farmer’s markets for organic foods. Personally for me, I understood for a long time that there were growth hormones in meat, genetic modified crops, pesticides and all that. I am not one of those people that eat a lot of vegetables. I’m a carnivore. Do I wish I changed my eating habits? Of course. I think that Americans are complacent about the way things are going that nobody is realizing that the corporate chokehold is killing us with the infrequent inspections of products or putting ammonia in the meat to “kill the E.Coli” in it.

Judgment: This movie will make you think about the monopolizing of how the food supply is being handled.

Rating: ****1/2

Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country (2008)

Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country is a documentary that has been getting rave reviews since the past summer. It was released in three theaters in May. It was recently nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary with a Metacritic score of 82; I wanted to check it out. I realized that the movie has been given a DVD release, so I had to watch the film online. (I wish that these documentaries are shown to the general public at least, so people don’t have to download torrents of it.)

Director Anders Østergaard reconstructs the events of a protest taking place in Burma circa 2007. The movie is constructed out of smuggled footage taken my small digital video cameras from 30 underground video journalists called the “Democratic Voice of Burma”. The leader of the group is called “Joshua” who is documenting the unrest of the Burmese people after a 40 year military regime is taken over their lives.

There was a well-documented uprising in 1988 where a student-led demonstration happened on the streets. They thought that they would get democracy in their country, but the regime had military force and gunned down three thousand of them.

The video journalists’ faces are hidden to protect themselves from jail time. In the summer of 2007, the people of Burma were fed up with the regime inflating the cost of living. Public unrest soon followed. The regime did not want any outside influences in their conflict. Any person that this is filming the protests who had their cameras confiscated, the footage destroyed and face a long jail sentence.

The VJs document the protest by hiding the cameras in tents or under their arms. They send the footage via the internet to outside news outlets like the BBC or CNN so they could find out the latest developments.

The people felt like all hope is lost when an unmistaken force joins the protest. Hundreds of Buddhist monks who don’t involve themselves in political activities marched, because they felt that the country was suffering and that they should do something about it. The presence of the monks inspires the people, a hundred thousand strong, to rise up against the corrupt regime.

I was fascinated by this movie. I never heard of this protest with all coverage of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The movie was reconstructed and re-enacted from the footage of what happened. That didn’t take away from the impact of wanting change when all seems lost.

The first part of the doc was meh in my opinion. Hearing “Joshua’s” broken English didn’t help matters that much. When they got into the meat and potatoes of the documentary, that when it really revved up for me.

Judgment: This documentary is about a subject that you might not get to see without the determination of these fearless VJs.

Rating: ****1/2

Loose Change: Second Edition (2006)

First of all, I want to say that I do not support the rhetoric that was presented in Loose Change. I think that blaming the government for 9/11 is utterly ridiculous, but I decided to hear the infamous conspiracy theory that will not go away. That there are internal memos amongst government officials to stage fake attacks against the United States. I don’t know credible their “sources” are, bit I am not buying it.

The documentarian Dylan Avery gives faint examples in history of high-ranking officials staging attacks circa the Cuban Missile Crisis, the military manning remote control Boeing jets, the Twin Towers encircled in crosshairs, military jets were pulled from being close to the Pentagon, there were training exercises to crash planes into the Towers and the Pentagons.

There are some phone interviews with different people giving their descending opinions on the motives of the attack. There was an interview with Hunter S. Thompson that was spliced in that talks about his opinion that President Bush had an agenda on that day.

Avery tries to paint a picture that events that had been relayed on the news were inaccurate. Talking about the flight training of one of the hijackers, painting a picture that a missile was fired upon the Pentagon, not a 747 jet. Avery is also saying that the intense heat the planes did not make the buildings collapse, but it was explosive devices implanted in the towers when the planes hit to make the falls quickly.

Okay, let’s say that all of Avery’s fact are correct. Bombing devices were at the Pentagon and the World Trade Centers, why would the government do this to their own people, why the cover it up?

Throwing a bunch of quotes taken out of context will not convert me to the other side of the argument. Where there a bunch of inconsistencies with the news report covering the story? Of course. One station could say one thing; another will say something different. It’s not new.

People were in shock and they convey what they thought they saw or heard. Was it an accurate depiction of what happened? Probably not, because they were under stress. I heard people said it sounded like firecrackers when shots rang out. It doesn’t mean that a prankster lit a couple of firecrackers. I want Mr. Avery to be at the WTC site on that day and tape himself on camera about what he thought he saw.

I have theory of my own. Did Mr. Avery forget to mention about the aborted terrorist on the WTC back in 1993? If it was an inside job that he says, what if an Al Queda agent infiltrated and planted the explosive devices in the buildings? He was so certain that the government was entirely behind the attack that he didn’t explore all the possible explanations? If commercial airplanes were not used on all of the attacks, what happened to the passengers and crew of those American 11, 77, United 175 and 93 planes? Did they simply disappear? Were they killed?

Is this propaganda? Absolutely. Is what Dylan Avery saying could be taken a fact? Not certainly. There is reasonable doubt. Conspiracy theorists almost had me convinced that the moon landing 1969 was no real. They would trick you with their distorted facts, doctored images and misquoting sources. He was even taking his quotes from Wikipedia. Yes, the most credible of sources. You are reaching, sir. You think we created a real version of Wag the Dog or Dr. Strangelove.

Should we ask questions about that day? Yes. Should we get all the answers? No. The public will be in a panic that the government is coming to get them. Some secrets need to be hidden the American people.

Judgment: I don’t agree with the statements presented here.

Rating: **

Outrage (2009)

outrage

Last night, HBO showed the documentary made by Kirby Dick, Outrage that explores closeted gay officials in politics. I heard some good things about this movie for a couple of months. Watching the film didn’t shed any light on what the mainstream doesn’t already know.

In the beginning of the film, it talks about the right wing, ultra-conservative, anti-gay Republican politicians that have been caught in gay sex scandals. They tout such as examples as Sen. Larry Craig soliciting sex in that Minneapolis airport bathroom, Ed Schock trolling for discreet sex over a hookup line, former NYC mayor Ed Koch suspected of having a gay lover before going into politics, Jim Crery having sex with multiple frat boys near the Capitol building, or David Drier having a relationship with his chief of staff.

Fed up with the closeted lawmakers discriminating against their own people, Michael Rodgers writer for the BlogArchive makes it his mission to out said politicians.

When confronted by the notion that they might be gay, the people in questions flat out deny, deflect it or change the subject. The mainstream media have the tendency to avoid the pink elephant in the room, the question of one’s sexuality.

Over the course of the film, it tries to delve into the psychological effects about being raised with the mindset that homosexuality is wrong. They overcompensate by being extremely anti-gay, vote “no” on any gay right initiative, and have a stance of restricting rights some gay people already have.

There were a part of documentary that veered off into another direction where it showed a montage of hate crime victims. You could say that there could cause and effect when these anti-gay closeted politicians strike down gay legislation, it encourages gay bashings. Personally, I didn’t see the correlation. I thought that the documentarian was reaching at that moment of the film.

This film is biased. Are there closeted Democratic politicians? According to this doc, there are none. It’s a myopic point of view. I could understand the intention behind the film to not make homosexuality a bad thing so that politicians have to bury so deep in the closet that it gets lost in there. It offered no answers, except the general ” everyone come out.” That’s not an answer. That’s a falsehood.

Judgment: A skewed account of what Americans already know and it would continue to happen.

Rating: ***1/2

Second Skin (2008)

second_skin_movie_poster

Based on the recommendation of multiple movie blog that I read, they suggested watching Second Skin. Currently as of this posting is available on Hulu. The DVD will be available on August 25th. It is worth a rental to take a peek inside the virtual world of online gaming.

The movie played at SXSW in 2008. It came in fourth place in the documentary category that year.That is impressive.

Director Juan Carlos Pineiro-Escoriaza takes the audience on an unprecedented journey of ordinary people that are constantly playing MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games) like World of Warcraft and Everquest or as it is affectionately called “Evercrack.”

It deals with people becoming addicted to the virtual character and world that they have created. Meeting and falling in love with people in your guilds or groups. How sometimes that synthetic world is the only outlet for people who are disabled. Sometimes online gaming is benefit for some and a hindrance to others.

Countless hours of online gaming could affect your job performance, relationship with your significant others, your health.

Families have been affected by a person’s gaming that they have to make a choice of the game or their family.

I’m a gamer. I geeked out with this documentary. I am not online gamer. I am familiar with the Everquest universe. You kinda become obsessed with customizing your character, leveling up, and beating the bosses.

Judgment: Watch out for Dan Bustard. Enough said.

Rating: ****

Retroactive Top Ten Favorite Films of 2007

Before you start thinking that you are going back in time, you are not. I got this idea from my blogging friend from Gone Cinema Poaching and fellow Cinbanter listener, Chazz Lyons. No, he is not related to the much maligned, Ben Lyons.

(Note:  I have not seen every film that was nominated for the Oscars. This list may change.)

Here are my top favorite films of 2007 starting with number ten:

10.

sicko

Sicko

9.

bourne_ultimatum_ver41

The Bourne Ultimatum

8.

juno_ver22

Juno

7.

waitress

Waitress

6.

things_we_lost_in_the_fireThings We Lost in the Fire

Read the rest of this entry

Man on Wire (2008)

man_on_wire_ver2

If I die, what a beautiful death!

— Philippe Petit

Man on Wire took bouquets of awards, including the Oscar for Best Documentary at this past award show season. It has been on numerous top ten lists. It also has a Metacritc score of 89. I have to ask the question, “What’s the big deal?”

Director James Marsh recreates the events that happened to tightrope walker, Philippe Petit in this talking head/dramatic recreation narrative infused with actual footage of Petit practicing his infamous wire walk.

I went into this movie having high expectations that I would be blown away by it, but I wasn’t. Let me just say that I didn’t hate the movie. I liked it, but I had some problems with it.

Here are my problems with it:

  • I don’t know if it was my player, but I could get the French translation from Petit’s former girlfriend and one of the people that participated in that walk on August 4, 1974.
  • I had no idea who anyone was. The way a new person was introduced with hokey, trying to be edgy. Fail.
  • The broken narrative did not excite me. Going from his previous walks in Notre Dame, the bridge towers in Sydney interlaced the “heist” of the WTC walk took away from the dramatic tension.
  • The out-of-place stock footage and the cheesy was unnecessary.
  • Also, when the doc won the Oscar. I knew that I might not like it.
  • Lastly, I wish that Philippe Petit was not in the movie. Him in the documentary takes away the suspense of “Did he survive the walk?” We all know the answer. Why should we care? Philippe Petit was not that likable to root for him to succeed.

Judgment: This movie is not my cup of tea, but I think others will enjoy it.

Rating: **1/2

%d bloggers like this: