Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Early Buzz: The First Reviews of JJ Abrams’ Star Trek

With the super surprise premiere screening in Austin Texas and the actual gala premiere screening in Sydney Australia, the first reviews of JJ Abrams‘ Star Trek have begun to appear online. So what are the critics saying? Lets take a look. Note: I’ve tried not to include any spoilers. Check out the early buzz bits after the jump.

Neil Miller at Film School Rejects: “Some of the smartest work [Orci and Kurtzman have] done. They get these characters and when you combine that with the visual style that J.J. Abrams has brought to the franchise, it makes for a dangerously accessible and exciting film.” … “This is a big, fast-paced, sleek version of Star Trek that is unlike anything we’ve seen before — a new brand of space film that stretches what we thought possible in the realm of visual effects, and I don’t think that’s going to bother anyone.” … “J.J. Abrams, with the help of a few incredibly talented people, has created a very accessible, fun Star Trek film that is perfect for a new generation of sci-fi fans...

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Christmas Music 2008 on iTunes!

Check out my iMix Christmas music: It's a Christmas Miracle!

For more Christmas tunes: Indie Rock Christmas Songs

Sara Bareilles & Ingrid Michaelson "Winter Song"

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Trek Update

For Father's Day this year I bought my dad a DVD collection of the Star Trek series on TV. It's a compilation of fans' favorite episodes from all the series as well as from the actors who played all the captains. I have to admit that I'm not a big fan of Deep Space Nine, Voyager, or Enterprise, but watching the original series as well as the Next Generation offering was a treat. It reminded me of why I liked Star Trek in the first place and why I'm excited for the new reboot, which is coming out next summer.

I really like getting lost in all the sci-fi elements: visiting alien planets, going back in time, intelligent machines, etc., but I also think there was great chemistry of acting going on as well. The three principle characters in the original series (Kirk, Spock, and Bones) are amazingly interesting archetypes. While the psychological underpinnings of Captain Picard and Data’s quest to be human are equally entertaining.

However, Star Trek has a way of braining up its dialogue (making it difficult for the uninitiated to follow), while dumbing down the plot (making it difficult for critics to get on board). I'm imaging that Abrams and co. are taking a cue from Battlestar Galactica: juicing up the action-adventure, while honing in on dramatic elements, like the friendship between Kirk and Spock for example. I liken this unto the reboot of the Bond movies that eerily mimicked the Bourne series as well as 24. Here's hoping the J.J. Abrams can bridge the gap between uber-talkative with intriguing plot, yet still action-packed.

Also, ew.com has posted some amazing pictures from his new reimagining:

Apparently the feud between J.J. Abrams and William Shatner hasn't really gone away. Here's an interview with J.J. trying to defend himself.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Wrath of Shat!

William "the Shat" Shatner has recently answered questions regarding his non-appearance in JJ Abrams new Star Trek movie. Personally, I think the man is an overacting genius and I'm disappointed that he's not gonna make an appearance. But then again he did die in Star Trek: Generations--however, didn't Spock die in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn? I'm just saying.

Are you telling me you wouldn't want this gutsy performance in your new Star Trek movie JJ?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

24: Redemption Trailer

Check it out!! Jack is back for a prequel to the upcoming season. This TV movie is set in Africa and is meant to bridge the gap between season 6 and 7!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Battlestar Republicana

I'm prone to exposing my geekiness on this little ol' blog of mine from time to time and I'm sure that revealing my love for the geekiest of all sci-fi shows won't help my coolness factor, but here goes: Battlestar Galactica is amazing!! I know you are disgusted and wondering how any sane and normal person could love such a moronic, fanboy series. But I do--even to the chagrin of my wife, who tends to humiliate me whenever possible on this point. Oh and yes, that's the first time I've referred to my wife on this blog, because I was recently married! But most people who read this already know that.

Anyway, I like to think of myself as a critical thinker who doesn't waste his time with the majority of the popular dreck that passes for entertainment nowadays. For this reason, I've had to come up with a justification for addicting myself to this sci-fi, action, melodrama. I guess that by defining it as I did might explain my love for it.

Don't get me wrong, it is science fiction, which crosses the border into Dwight nerdom. But I've always been a fan of sci-fi since I was little. I remember watching Star Trek with my dad at a young age and wondering if man would boldly go to other planets. BSG is different from Star Trek in its approach, however, because it is a serialized drama, much like Lost. In other words, each episode connects to the previous and subsequent episode. I like to look at it like watching different chapters from a very riveting TV book or something.

It's action-packed. Sure, I'm a guy. I like those action sequences. The action is set in space, but unlike Star Trek, which takes everything on a future based on logic and almost gentlemen-like warfare. BSG takes the Star Wars approach (old ones), which is very messy and entertaining battle sequences that are found in almost every episode. Oh, yes they're always at war with robotic humans (Cylons)...come on that's cool!

It is melodramtic. I know this isn't the typical facet that most guys might like, but every episode hinges on personal relationships, deep character layering, religious symbols, current political bravado, and an intense cerebral mystery. My heart pumps a little when I watch it as it always keeps me guessing.

John McCain - Col. Tigh & Sarah Palin - Pres. Laura Roslin

Now, that you know why I love this little cable TV show I had to mention something else about it that I found funny. The recent revelation that Sarah Palin will be John McCain's running-mate has prompted people to notice an odd similarity with the would-be president and his vice with that of some major characters on BSG that I thought was pretty uncanny. Check it out.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

New Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Trailer!!!

I'm a total geek for Harry Potter, thanks to my little sister. Check out this trailer for the new movie. It reminds me of a prequel to the Silence of the Lambs or something. It's eerie.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

E-Mail Conversation with My Family After Looking Over the Headlines on Yahoo

The names of the guilty have been changed to protect their identities.

Brother #3: Some sad news for Aaron. http://tv.yahoo.com/show/30728/news/urn:newsml:tv.ap.org:20080722:obit_getty

Brother #1: She was actually really funny on that show, which I confess I watched repeatedly, since back in those days you were either watching sit-coms or nothing.

I believe Bea Arthur has purchased a burial plot in Arlington.

Brother #3: I confess an affinity to Bea Arthur's character--she was so wise, so patient; there is no better example of how, as we age, we move from innocence to experience--forged, if not new and attractive, then at least strong and true, by the refiner's fire.

Thankfully, ARAM still has the unholy trinity of Bob Saget, John Stamos, and, closest to his heart, Dave Coultier, aka "Uncle Joey."

Me: I'm still trying to fugue out how four senior citizen women managed to afford a home in Palm Beach on Social Security. You had the senile old woman, called "Maaahh" by Bea Arthur. You had the senile old religious woman, played by Betty White. Then you had Bea Arthur's central role. You also had the harlot-ish one lady that was always tramping around.

So sad that I know so much about that show. So very sad.

Brother #2: "purchased a burial plot in Arlington"?

More like Uncle Sam begged her to accept a burial plot in Arlington

There are hundreds of thousands of people buried in Arlington, who, were they able to speak, would utter these words: "I give up my spot for Bea Arthur, please undig me"

Bea is rough yet polished on the exterior and delicate and charismatic on the inside, like a cigarette

My wife and I watch that show regularly. It's on the Lifetime Channel (46) at 11:00 with back-to-back episodes. My favorite character is Rose (the one who is supposed to be naive). Their apartment is huge ... they each have their own bedroom and the condo has a giant living room attached to a giant dining room and then there's a huge private patio in back and the kitchen is giant, roughly three times the size of a normal kitchen. On one episode they show the interior of the bathroom which was about 20 x 20, three or four times as large as any normal bathroom. And supposedly they all work at these volunteer-type jobs.

Me: Brother #2 ….

I'll have to ask you to turn in your gun and your badge. That you know what channel Lifetime is numbered AND what time Golden Girls is on .... it's too much.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Things I Find In My Basement

I was digging out my basement this week, looking for stuff to sell on E-Bay. Underneath a mountain of pogs and unicorn sketches, I found a yellowed copy of a movie script that I wrote up in high school. At the time, I had dreams of becoming a film producer. Those dreams have long since faded, just like the yellowed copy of the movie script.

While the script is too long to post, I will include a draft copy for the theatrical trailer of the film.

(camera is zoomed in on hands working at a grill, the hands are somewhat worn, somewhat large, and are skilled in the arts of the grill. The hands are slicing peppers and dicing onions with knives, flipping meats over with spatulas, and using a blow torch to light up a Cherries Jubilee cream dessert).

Narrator Voice: "Jack Parcetti was just an ordinary man. He had his ordinary job, doing ordinary things."

(Camera zooms out, we see Steven Seagal in a lab coat and hair net at the grill. He weighs at least 275 pounds.)

Guy in a navy blue suit with five o'clock shadow and aviator sunglasses who is obviously a cop or agent of some kind: "Jack, we really need your help on this one. These guys are coming in, and they're coming strong."

Parcetti, played by Seagal: "I'm just a cook ...."

Guy in a navy blue suit with five o'clock shadow and aviator sunglasses who is obviously a cop or agent of some kind: "You're just a sissy, that's all."

Woman in a black pant suit probably purchased at Dress Barn or other low budget store because she is obviously a cop: "That's not the Parcetti I knew. What happened to you?"

Narrator: "But then Jack Parcetti's ordinary life blew up in his face."

(Scene shows an Asian woman in her 20's being escorted off a playground by masked thugs in Karate uniforms. Asian woman is put in the back of a black sedan. The sedan is parked inside of a garage. Daylight shot of garage from exterior, camera zooms out to show that the garage is attached to a modern looking house up in the hills of California wine country, with a rock garden, Asian sculptures, and zebras in the massive yard. Camera than shows a stop watch clicking backwards, when it hits one, camera zooms out to show the house, garden, zebras, sculptures, and vineyards blown up with a massive fire bomb. Fade to black ....

Later that night, police tape is surrounding the once peaceful area. We see the blue and red flashing lights of police cars, small fires are still spewing here and there, including a shot of a zebra carcass being consumed by fire. We see the guy in a navy blue suit and the woman in a pant suit looking over the crime scene. The navy blue suit man throws up, the woman is crying. We see a photo on the ground, edges burnt by fire. It's a photo of the Asian woman that was blown up .................... she is with someone in the photo, but the face of the other person is covered by dirt. The wind blows, revealing the face of the person with the Asian woman ..................... it's Jack Parcetti.

Shot goes back out to show the yellow crime tape, we see those skilled hands of the grill man, they rip the tape right in half. Parcetti walks up to the cops.)

Parcetti: "Was it them?"

Guy in navy blue suit, still wearing sunglasses even though it's dark: "Yeah. It was them sickos. Those thugs make me sick." (Man barfs again.)

Woman cop in sensible pant suit: "Jack, this is real bad."

Parcetti: "Bad? It's only gonna' be bad for those monsters who killed my wife and zebras."

Narrator voice: "And Jack Parcetti will prove that he is no ordinary man at all."

(camera zooms in on the skilled hands of Jack Parcetti. They wipe the food off the knives, then sharpen the knives. The hands take the spatula and flip the last of the pancakes on the grill. Then those hands wipe off the spatula and sharpen the edges of the spatula. The hands rip off the lab coat, revealing a black trench coat and camouflage pants with tactical belts and straps. The knives are affixed to the belts and straps. The spatula is put into a shoulder holster. We see a full view of Jack Parcetti, he pulls of the hair net. Then, those skilled hand reach down and grab a pancake. Parcetti puts the pancake in his mouth. The whole friggin' pancake.)

Parcetti, still chewing the pancake, begins to talk right at the camera, spewing pancake bits right at the camera: "I'm coming for you, Mr. Chang."

(Parcetti than takes a stack of pancakes and puts them in his coat. Foggy mist arises from the ground. Parcetti disappears into the mist. The mist fills the screen, and blood red calligraphy lettering shows up on screen, revealing the name of the movie)

This fall, Steven Seagal is Jack Parcetti, Vincent D'Onofrio is Detective Tommy McHammond, and Toni Collette is Agent Susan Harper. With Maggie Cheung as the Asian wife of Parcetti and David Carradine as Mr. Chang.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Michael Bay's Rejected "The Dark Knight" Script

Apparently, Michael Bay wrote an unsolicited script for The Dark Knight that was ultimately rejected by Warner Bros. Though this is the first I’ve heard of it, I have the exclusive leaked images to back it up. Here are some choice excerpts.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Indie film is dying -- unless it isn't

By Andrew O’Hehir

All winter and spring, people in the independent-film business have been murmuring politely behind their hands and pretending not to see the 800-pound walrus in the corner of the room: The indie industry is undergoing a sudden and largely unexpected meltdown, or in the business-speak recently employed by Sony Pictures Classics co-president Tom Bernard, "a periodic market adjustment."
Nobody's ignoring it anymore, not after Saturday's address to a Los Angeles Film Festival conference by Mark Gill, CEO of the independent production and financing outfit the Film Department and former president of Miramax and Warner Independent. Gill's speech, entitled "Yes, the Sky Really Is Falling," was followed by a thoughtful Sunday column from the Philadelphia Inquirer's Carrie Rickey, cataloging everything that has gone wrong for small films, and the companies that make them, in the last six months.
It's a short but bloody history: Warner Bros. shut down its Picturehouse and Warner Independent subsidiaries and slashed the staff of New Line Cinema by 90 percent. Paramount Vantage, another "studio specialty division" that was born just two years ago, is being reabsorbed by Paramount Pictures. ThinkFilm, a true independent distributor, is being sued by vendors who say they haven't been paid and is under fire from documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney, who claims the company botched the release of his Oscar-winning "Taxi to the Dark Side." Think's future is in doubt, as is that of Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, which has reportedly downsized itself by half. According to Gill, who ought to know, at least five other indie distributors "are in serious financial peril." (I could probably guess who three or four of those are, but it's indecent to speculate about other people's livelihoods.)
At the big winter-spring marketplaces of Sundance, Berlin and Cannes, the apparent indie boom of the last few years turned awfully tepid, awfully fast. There were lots of terrific smaller-scale films at those festivals, but hardly anything that looked or felt like an international art-house hit on the scale of "Pan's Labyrinth" or "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" -- the movies that enable indie distributors like IFC or Miramax or Sony Classics to take chances on riskier fare. And as Rickey details, it's been a relatively weak year at the box office, with expected hits like "The Counterfeiters," "The Visitor," "In Bruges" and "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day" failing to cross over to mainstream moviegoers (or at least not in sufficient numbers).
Perhaps your heart does not bleed overmuch, amid the general economic and spiritual turmoil of our country, for a few middle-sized motion pictures that failed to meet expectations -- or for a few dozen movie-industry executives forcibly ejected from the corporate suites of Manhattan and Burbank. First of all this isn't really about them, although most of them are decent and knowledgeable people who care more about movies than about money (or they wouldn't be working on the weedy intellectual fringe of the entertainment industry). It's also insufficient to retreat to some 2002-style panegyric about how a digital democracy is dawning and these old-school gatekeepers must perish in the tar pits of economic history for a new model to emerge.
That argument has a pseudo-Marxist ring of historical inevitability about it, but it's mostly wrong. Nobody in the film business questions that the current mode of distribution for independent film -- in Rickey's article, Emerging Pictures CEO Ira Deutchman calls it the "post-studio, pre-Internet era" -- is somewhere between transitional and dysfunctional, and that some version of electronic home delivery is likely to dominate the marketplace within five to 15 years. But as God is my witness, we need gatekeepers! If anything, we need them in the digital era more than ever. At least in the short term, the current marketplace implosion is likely to have a highly undemocratic effect on both filmmakers and film lovers, delivering still more practical control over what we watch and when to a shrinking group of ever-larger entertainment conglomerates.
Even as the potential moviegoing public has become distracted by an explosion of electronic options and devices unimagined a generation ago, the marketplace has been swamped by a poisonous glut of new movies. As Gill explains, in 1993, the Sundance Film Festival received roughly 500 submissions. For 2008, that number had swollen to more than 5,000. The reasons for that are various: The cost of producing a small-budget motion picture has fallen sharply in the digital age, and the success of a handful of indies in the late '90s and early 2000s drew investors large and small to pour countless billions of dollars into filmmaking.
It hasn't turned out to be a sensible investment. Gill calculates the odds of losing all your money on an independent film at 99.95 percent. Most of those 5,000 movies, in his words, are "pre-ordained flops," made by people "who forgot that their odds would have been better if they'd converted their money into quarters and taken the all-night party bus to Vegas." First of all, there's the simple fact that the market can't support more than 10 percent of those movies in a given year, and probably a much lower ratio than that. In 2007 a reported 603 films were released theatrically in the United States, the vast majority of them coming and going almost unnoticed. Everyone in the business agrees that number is unsustainably high; a more reasonable level might be 250 to 300.
Then there's the fact that while enthusiasm, access to technology and an eagerness to become famous may be widespread, talent and craftsmanship are not. As anybody who's ever served on a film-festival selection committee learns the hard way, most of those movies should never have been made in the first place and definitely should not be inflicted upon the public. There has indeed been an explosion of ultra-low-budget filmmaking -- just try to wade through the self-produced movies available on YouTube -- but so far it has not revealed a nation full of unheralded Orson Welleses in embryo. If anything, it has produced a deluge of abysmal crap that makes the genuine discoveries harder to see. As Gill acidly observed: "The digital revolution is here, and boy does it suck."
Is he just an old-economy pterosaur cynically trying to fend off the evolutionary trend that will make him obsolete? Sure, maybe. But that doesn't make him wrong. However independent films will be distributed in the future, I suspect a two-tier economy will be involved. There will still be a professional film industry that produces and distributes a relatively small number of movies that cost hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, whether they reach you in theaters, through a cable box, on your computer or iPod or through some other pipeline not yet devised. There will also be a purely digital universe of films that cost almost nothing to make and almost nothing to watch -- sort of a purified, film-school version of YouTube, minus any dreams of media stardom or celebrity coke parties.
There are two contradictory ways of looking at the current crisis, and as is customary with these things, they're both partly accurate without quite grasping the big picture. On one hand, this rapidly snowballing market crash seemed to come out of nowhere. Indiewood movies, meaning those distributed by the studios' specialty divisions, have dominated the Oscar nominations for the last three or four years. Just last fall, Miramax and the now-defunct Paramount Vantage shared the production and distribution of "No Country for Old Men" and "There Will Be Blood," the year's two most acclaimed American films. You might have heard about a little Fox Searchlight release called "Juno," which approximately everyone in the country saw twice. It looked as if the mid-level quasi-independent film was conquering the adult moviegoing market, turning the big studios into teen-oriented sequel factories and driving smaller, more adventurous art-house cinema to the margins of the margins.
On the other hand, even if nobody saw this coming, we should have seen something coming. The national economy has slipped into what looks like a protracted recession, the supply pipeline is clogged with crap, the future of film distribution is literally up in the air and the audience is distracted, distraught and fragmented. Newspapers, broadcast TV, the music industry and other media have suffered precipitous downturns. What a great moment for dark and quirky motion pictures! Seen in that light, a market crash was an enormous duh, and perhaps a necessary correction, as they say in business school. Maybe all that stock-market money had to go down the toilet to get the industry focused on making fewer and better films, a solution that would make many of these problems go away.
Of course my judgment, like that of Mark Gill and Carrie Rickey, may be clouded by my desire to make a living: If independent film disappears as an economically viable industry, I'll have to find something else to write about. Be that as it may, I'll sign on with their guarded optimism; as the president always tells Congress during the State of the Union address, the "economic fundamentals" beneath the whole enterprise remain strong, and down cycles give way to up cycles just as surely as rain produces flowers. Gill cites marketing data suggesting that 10 percent of the public tell pollsters they prefer independent films to mainstream fare, which if anything is a historic increase. (Indies traditionally account for 5 or 6 percent of ticket sales.)
Does that polling data actually mean that one in 10 Americans would rather see Werner Herzog's new Antarctica documentary (doing very well in limited release, thank you), or revisit Kieslowski's "Three Colors" than stand in line for Christopher Nolan's latest Batman flick? Or does it just reflect a momentary semiotic uptick in the number of people who want to appear hip and sophisticated? I think we know the answer to that question, but there's a trickier one out there: How does the economic, social and cultural climate surrounding filmmaking affect the work? And in the age of the iPhone and the Wii and the whatever else, are there still budding Fellinis and Tarantinos interested in creating spellbinding visual narratives that demand your full attention for 90-plus minutes?
Sure there are. Sony's Tom Bernard told Rickey that the obituary for art-house movies "appears every 17 years, like the locust." The indie booms of the '80s and '90s crested and collapsed in their turn, but the best filmmakers always survived -- and without fail every year moviegoers turn some totally unlikely release into a big hit. As far as the old-fashioned movie experience is concerned, Gill is probably right that in a few years we'll have half as many films released in half as many theaters. This will be a sad transition for many of us, sure. But the movies weren't killed by television, they weren't killed by VHS and DVD, and they can't be killed by whatever's happening now.


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