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2010 Films in Review

30 Jan

2010 may not have hosted the best movies of any year on record (1977-Star Wars obviously…), but it most certainly had some worthy works. Despite the usual expected travesties such as Twilight and Sex and the City sequels, there were some remarkable films. One of the first to come to mind would be Inception, the film that played on the realities of a dream. A great action film leaving you with the same sort of feeling you had after watching the Matrix for the first time, waking up in the middle of the night screaming “WHAT IS REAL!?” Well maybe not that far, but another DiCaprio hit none the less.

Other worthy mentions would be the Social Network, with the surprisingly entertaining depiction of Mr Zuckerberg himself, the unexpected humor in Kick Ass, the ever likable Boston gangster film genre of The Town, and the witty remarks of Tony Stark in Iron Man 2. Furthermore, the less popular but incredibly well written film Remember Me starring Robert Pattinson showed this British actor is capable of portraying a decent character other than a sparkly vampire. Never Let Me Go, was a difficult and sad yet incredible movie to watch as well, same goes for Winters Bone which Jennifer Lawrence does a fantastic job in.

I maintain 2010 was a good year for movies. It’s hard to explain the value of movies to non-movie buffs, and I can never express enough the importance of watching each film for what it is. Let yourself into the story, experience what the filmmakers are trying to portray, because films are not merely entertainment, they are depictions of all the feelings and emotions we have in this world.

So I’ll leave you with one of the best movie montages of 2010 I’ve seen. Kudos to the creators of this, they did a good job. We’ll see how 2011 turns out.

Trailer Mashups

4 Nov

So you know about music mashups, when 2 or more songs are blended together to come up with something new. What made you think it ends there? There is an ever expanding selection of really well put together movie trailer mashups which I highly recommend taking a look at. Most can be broken into 2 categories, mashups being the audio from one trailer blended over the visuals of another movie. Then theres recut, which is entirely different audio played over a recut selection of clips from a movie. They are addictive and highly entertaining to watch, take a look at my favs below.

Electric and Compacts: They Are Here

1 Nov

So maybe you’ve noticed them on the streets already, or maybe your city has been plastered with billboards of them, there’s no denying, a new era of the automobile has arrived. Who ever believes that all North Americans drive hummers and other excessively large SUV’s is still living that 2002 generalisation. It was hardly true then, and its definitely not true now, its 2010! Let it go.

North American society is ready for the change, then again, it always was. Because after all, nobody wants to intentionally damage the environment, they just never had the opportunity for change. It is evident the worlds auto manufacturers have built it, and yes the people, they are coming.

It appears that things are fast changing, the streets are filled with the likes of Juke’s, Cubes, and Mini’s. And the CRZ’s, Leaf’s, Cruze’s, and Volt’s are on the way. It’s true, insanely small engine, hybrid, diesel, or full electric cars are fast replacing the fleets of models that ruled the streets before. And they’ve come with a variety of entertaining media campaigns!

The Art of Tilt-Shift

12 Oct

Tilt shift is a method of photography which can provide a new aspect to traditional photography that was previously imposibble. One of the most common effects that tilt-shift photography can accomplish, is the effect of miniatures. By altering the focus of an image you can present a very real subject with a miniature effect. This can be done either with the hardware itself, or through a method which is becoming more and more common today and that is done digitally in post production. I presented a video previously on the blog which had this effect, and it spurred me to elaborate more on the subject.

If you are unfamiliar with tilt-shift photography, the basic principle is that you can alter the plane of focus of the lens through phyiscally tilting or shifting a specially designed lens. Whichever method a photographer or artist chooses to create these effects, the results are truly amazing. And with that, I am including a couple of my favorite tilt-shift videos.

The Beauty of Time Lapse

29 Sep

I was recently introduced to 2 videos from 2 friends, and I thought they were so good that I was obligated to share them. One video documents Hong Kong, and was shown to me by a friend there, the other is of Mexico City, and was shown to me by a friend who is from there as well. They both deal alot with time lapse, which is quickly becoming a favorite technique of mine, and these works only further inspire me. I think they are well put together, much props to the creators who took so much time to do them, check them out below!

Both are on Vimeo, so check them out here: Hong Kong, Mexico City.

Keeping up with the Joneses

11 Sep

It’s the catch phrase of suburban consumerism, that simple line personifies the human instinct to always do better than our neighbors. When Mr. Jones next door pulls into the driveway in his new Audi S4, you stop mowing the lawn and stare in awe of his new ride. You go over and have a look for yourself, complimenting Mr. Jones on his new purchase, and then get back to mowing your lawn. The next day you’re looking at your old car with dissatisfaction, and you are soon at the Audi dealership test driving an R8, knowing that when you pull into your driveway, all your neighbors will want what you have. Yup, your just keeping up with the Joneses.

Cue in this years film titled just that: The Joneses. The film stars David Duchovny and Demi Moore as they portray a wealthy suburban family moving into a new neighborhood. Their perfect family easily blends into their new community and soon becomes the family that has what everyone wants. They drive the cars you want, they have the phone you didn’t even think was out yet, and they dress the way you wish you looked. However if it all seems to good to be true, then you might be catching on.

That perfect family turns out to be no family at all, instead, they are a corporate team of advertisers working for an agency that places ‘families’ in neighborhoods just to show off the latest consumer products. It all seems so perfect until the father figure Steve Jones played by Duchovny starts to see the crippling effect their sales tactic is having on the neighbors as they desperately try to keep up.

Coming into this film I thought it was going to be a clever and entertaining movie, but as the credits rolled up, it ended as a touching experience as well. The film exposed the tragic reality of how consumerism can push people out of their element, and into a world full of debt and regret. The current economic situation will resonate in your mind as you watch, and start to ask yourself; are you living within your means?

Thumbs up for a quality film that both entertains and leaves you with something to think about. Check out the trailer below.

180South: Impressions

7 Sep

Can challenging yourself, both physically and mentally drive you to change, inspire others to change, and to view the world differently? In 180 South, Jeff Johnson embarks on an epic journey for adventure, and also a journey to save one of the largest untouched wilderness spaces on the planet; Patagonia.

This documentary by Woodshed Films chronicles Jeff Johnson as he follows in the footsteps of a similar 1968 journey that his inspirational friends; Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins did long ago. The goal is to reach Patagonia in South America, and try to save this majestic wilderness from encroaching development. It is through this journey of sailboats, surfboards and rock climbing that the deeper meaning of conserving not only Patagonia, but the entire planet is revealed. And the ultimate question is presented to ourselves as society; can we simplify our lives?

Whether you think these guys are a bunch of hippy surf bums or not, this film definitely gets you thinking. And it also features some amazing videography and original music. The website www.180south.com is also fantastic and a great resource in addition to the film with some cool wallpapers and music to boot. Check out the trailer below, its 180 South, and its worth a watch.

Mammoth: The Film

3 Jun

The days of the mammoth are long gone, their lives only understood from what few remains can be found frozen in places like Siberia. What is the value of those remains; say the ivory from a long extinct mammoth tusk?

Sliding under the radar of the popular spotlight slides the film Mammoth. This is a film I recently watched one night as I was far from home in the Canadian arctic, not all that far from Siberia when you look at a map.

But geography aside, I was compelled to write about this film. Mammoth’s purpose is not to entertain you, but rather to move you, and move you it will. The story follows a successful young family living in Soho, New York, and a series of unexpected events that befall on them. Leo has been successful with a popular video game based web community and is leaving his family in New York to settle a business deal in Bangkok. Back in New York, daughter Jackie is spending more time with the nanny Gloria than with her mom, a busy surgeon at the hospital.

The film begins to focus on the lives of the husband, wife, nanny, and the nanny’s family back in the Philippines as they all drift into their own series of problems. Leo is experimenting with a lifestyle he is unfamiliar with, as his dealings are delayed and he heads to the beaches of Thailand to kill some time. While at home his wife struggles to connect with their daughter Jackie, who is busy learning the Tagalog language from Gloria the Nanny. The mother tries to establish a relationship with Jackie but it seems she is more capable helping her patients at work than her own daughter. The story only thickens as the nanny Gloria’s life unfolds as well. The movie isn’t without fault though, I found some scenes with Leo to be awkward and unnatural while there are mixed reviews about the feelings of guilt pushed on viewers in regards to the Nanny situation. Not to mention Leo’s choice of clothing and his persistance in wearing it everyday really bugged me (sorry, you’re going to notice that now).

What writer and director Lukas Moodysson does do is a beautiful job at using the challenges faced by the characters to reflect the underlying theme of some major global issues of poverty and development and also the disconnection many families face in the modern world today. You’ll find the use of silence over soundtrack in some key scenes in the film as Moodysson effectively creates a mood that pulls the viewer in. But music is not completely void from the film, and the soundtrack itself is both ominous and upbeat and works well the overall story. I watched for over 2 hours as this interesting and captivating film played on. And I started to wonder why the most important and real stories are confined to films that most people have never heard of. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed Iron Man 2, and I understand its popularity. I just wish that such important films to humanity such as Mammoth would be seen by more people, and could escape the doom of being shuffled straight to DVD.

So do yourself a favor and watch this movie. I will confirm that through the entire film, you will not see one single mammoth, but what you will find is a beautifully tragic story. So go find it, the name is Mammoth.

Tokyo Sonata: A Family of Change

9 May

A somewhat obscure film, Tokyo Sonata was recently released on DVD this past week. Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, it’s a story about a seemingly typical middle class Japanese family. But appearances are only skin deep, and as the plot opens up, we discover that this typical family has a myriad of problems tearing at the fabric keeping the mother, father, and their 2 sons together. We witness a family trying to cope with a series of unexpected events, and ultimately break down under the pressure, only to redeem themselves through their own means.

After the father; Ryuhei Sasaki loses his job due to a downsizing economy, things for the family only spiral out of control from that point. The film could be an accurate depiction of the 90’s in Japan, with parallels to so many during that time. The so called ‘lost decade’ in which Japan’s economy suffered greatly, the plunging value of the yen combined with record unemployment rates forced many families into similar situations as the Sasaki’s.

More recently this storyline resonates with a different audience as well, as western countries around the globe suffered during the recent economic squeeze. Families across North America might be able to relate to the hurtles the Sasaki family is pushed through. From their son Kenji’s secret passion for the piano, to Megumi’s outstretched arms asking to be helped up only to be answered by no one, the film is filled with painful scenes of a family in turmoil.

Failing to fall into any genre, Tokyo Sonata pushes the envelope of family drama, and evolves into one of the most beautiful films I have seen in a while. The final scene in which the family learns to accept change as Kenji plays out Claire de Lune by Debussy makes this film worth watching all on its own.

So take a moment to watch this film, and watch it as it as any foreign film should be viewed, with english subtitles. US trailer below:

Movie Review: Cashback

30 Apr

This movie slipped through the fingers of fame when it was released in March 2007, but that does not mean it was not worth watching. It’s stunning story of a young man named Ben dealing with life and how quickly it changes. After a painful breakup, Ben finds himself lost. Unable to sleep he takes up a part time job at a local grocery store to do something productive with the new found time in his life. It’s at his new job where his life grabs hold, and things start to change.

Written and directed by Sean Ellis, this british film was originally a short, with good receoption; 2 years after the short was filmed, it was made into a feature length movie.

Few films can be described as beautiful, but this one does just that. Striking common ground as you watch it is inevitable, and through Ben we can see that out of the rubble of a broken moment, we can emerge a changed, better person. Check it out!