February 4, 2011

3D Update

Recently in the news there has been some debate among directors/media about the viability of 3D in the long-term. While I have asserted and will continue to assert that 3D only offers a limited amount of commercial success--particularly in the short-term--I think that James Cameron makes some good points on the viability of this new medium in cinema. While I don't necessarily agree that 3D in any way has an effect on cognitive ability development in children like director Cameron would have you believe, I do find it an interesting development in the world of cinema on a very general basis.

Article: here

February 3, 2011

The Art of Drew Struzan

A kind of side-obsession I have is with movie posters. It's considered a lost art, mourned by a lot of older people in the industry. Artwork by Drew Struzan is of particular interest to me. His autobiographical book put out this year is pretty incredible. You can check out his own website here, which features a lot of the work you'll see in his book, which I highly recommend (here).

Check out some of my favorites from Drew's collection after the break, including these three from his work done on the Back to the Future Trilogy.

February 2, 2011

New post, New Year (Star Wars IV - A New Hope, Star Wars V - Empire Strikes Back)

I recently ran into a blog article about Gary Kurtz--second unit director of the first two original Star Wars movies. The article talked about how Kurtz made the decision to depart with the franchise after Empire Strikes Back. He spoke to how Lucas changed the entire film after they had agreed to and written more subdued, bitter third script. Lucas decided to indulge the franchise's fans with a third film that ended on a more optimistic note. Interestingly, Kurtz's version had Han Solo dying in the middle of the third film, but he asserts that Lucas and the film's producers overrided him due to the massive income in the franchise's toy sales.

Article below:
Did ‘Star Wars’ become a toy story? Producer Gary Kurtz looks back

April 2, 2010

The Future of 3D in Cinema

Since Avatar came out and I saw it in 3D, I have been thinking more and more about what it will do to the cinema landscape in the near and distant future. It worries me that films will take 3D and run with it not for the sake of artistically exploring the 3rd dimension but because it's a cash cow and a way to make a ton of money. Some might say in response to this that huge blockbuster films have hardly innovated in any really creative ways in the past few decades and as such the same could be expected from these new "fake-3D" movies that have been recently coming out (in case you're wondering, I'm talking about movies like How to Train Your Dragon and Clash of the Titans, among others).

I'm glad that a huge blockbuster picture like Avatar was able to appeal to such a wide audience while providing the cinema world with so many new innovations on the 3D front. But I worry that its success has driven major studios like Warner Brothers, who recently mandated that all of their movies be filmed in 3D, to compromise the quality of their films for a gimmicky 3D trick that will land more people in seats at the cinema and force people to pay more money for a ticket. In my mind, if you're going to use 3D, use it in a cool, new way that serves a purpose in the film.

To this end, there's a great article over on the Enquirer website that should be read if you're interested in this sort of thing: "Are You Ready for 3-D Everything?"

March 22, 2010

AFI #3 - Casablanca (1942)

This was my third time seeing Casablanca, and I honestly can say that this film just gets better and better with every viewing. This repeat viewing was different than that of Citizen Kane mostly because I wasn’t necessarily noticing the subtle nuances of the film but because I’ve grown to appreciate the film as a whole more as I’ve become older and better versed in cinema.

Make no qualms about it; Casablanca is a romantic’s film. Everything from the romanticized setting of Casablanca, Morocco to the doe-eyed Ingrid Bergman makes this film the most idyllic, classic black-and-white romance movie of all time. It almost makes me sick how much of a romantic film this is at times. Whereas with Citizen Kane and The Godfather I can say that everyone would appreciate and be entertained, I can’t say the same about Casablanca. It certainly appeals to a wide audience, but I’m not sure if it is as relevant today as when it came out—unlike the two films that precede it on the AFI top 100 list.

March 21, 2010

AFI #2 - The Godfather (1972)

The first thing I have to do when writing this is come clean: before now I had never seen Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather. I had heard so many good things, yet I had never gotten around to seeing it and I now understand what all the hype is about. The Godfather is not only a masterpiece of the gang/mafia genre, but of modern cinema as a whole.

Where to begin? I suppose the first thing of note--probably the most blatantly obvious element of the film--is the performances of the entire ensemble cast. My favorites were the two leads: Marlon Brando and Al Pacino. Without a doubt I was more impressed with their performances in The Godfather than almost any other performance in any other movie I've ever seen. With that being said, I wouldn't fight a single person if they made an argument for nearly any member of the entire cast being the most brilliant, as it really is the ensemble that elevates the film into the stratosphere of best films of all-time.

March 19, 2010

AFI #1 - Citizen Kane (1941)

What first comes to mind upon my re-viewing of Citizen Kane is just how masterfully done it is. I really do believe that Orson Welles, in his first attempt at a motion picture in Hollywood, was able to make a masterpiece that has stood the test of time. He virtually perfected the art of the classic Hollywood film. As such Kane should not only represent Welles' achievement in cinema but the achievements of those that came before him and paved the path for such a film to be possible.

People often throw around the title of "Greatest Film of All Time," but to the untrained eye the film itself seems unremarkable in that capacity. What's so great about Kane is the subtleties and nuances that make it what it is today. In addition to its many innovations, it marked an important time in cinema: a culmination of the achievements of the films that came before it and the future for the Hollywood industry for years to come. Only with time and distance did Citizen Kane really get the credit it deserved. The film failed to make its money back at the box office initially and took several years to gain the critical acclaim it carries today. It didn't even win the Oscar for Best Picture that year (although to be honest, many films have had this happen to them--more here and here).

March 16, 2010

Blog Manifesto

The intention of this blog is to watch every single one of the American Film Institute's top one hundred films of all time. This blog will contain reviews of every movie in order, from one to one hundred, examining, at least briefly, different aspects of each film. This may take a while, but I promise that I will get to every single film given due time. Even if I have seen the film before, I will re-watch it. From this I hope to gain a more expansive knowledge of the history of American cinema that will inform my viewings of films that I watch five, ten, fifteen years down the line.

As I watch every film, I will rate it on a scale of ten. This is not a typical ratings system: with the exception of a few films, I expect to encounter movies that would ordinarily be rated nine or more out of ten. With this in mind, I intend to use the ratings system relative to how influential and important the film is in the world of cinema.

Let's get it started!