Saturday, December 19, 2009


I'd call this movie news because this is basically a documentary that has premiered on the internet. Somebody on youtube just released a 70-minute video (split up into 10 7-minute segments) review of Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace.

Really. Watch that. His explanation of the necessity of a protagonist in any given story is so impressively thorough that it more than proves his credibility as a film critic. My justification in watching the whole fucking thing is that it's just a very nerdy but legitimate educational documentary.

I can barely believe I seriously just sat and watched this whole thing, but yeah, I did. There's a running gag throughout the videos that the narrator is in fact a shut-in serial killer, which I guess serves to dodge anybody telling him he has way too much free time. Beyond that, though, it's a finely crafted, perfectly structured video essay - he begins the video with his hypothesis, "Episode I was a horrible movie in which nothing made any sense," and proceeds to prove his point beyond any reasonable doubt over the following 70 minutes. It's unbelievable. His argument is so airtight that I just know if George Lucas (yknow, the guy who made star wars?) himself were to watch this thing, his only response would have to be silent tears - by the end of the video there is literally no possible defense for the man to take. When he cuts in archive footage of Lucas himself discussing the movie, it's just salt in the wound. He even provides alternate ideas that would have strengthened the narrative - just watch the first minute of this part:

I found out about this through Slashfilm, which has an article indexing all of the videos, or you can find them at the guy's youtube page.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Yep, nothing to complain about here. I just saw James "Terminator 2 Means I'll Always Be Worth Your Time" Cameron's first movie in twelve years, AVATAR. I caught a 3D IMAX showing at Navy Pier. And, holy shit, the flick delivers.

I'd like to tell you a lot of stuff about why it all worked in what was ultimately one of the more satisfying narratives of the year, but I don't want to spoil anything (which is not to say the plot has a lot of unexpected twists and turns - it's just worth seeing the fucking thing for yourself.) The 3D is unobtrusive and works very well for a lot of the epic imagery, the visual effects are top-rate (you can totally see the budget in every frame of the movie) and the story totally grabbed me and planted me in its world.

Shut up, bitter haters. So many people told me they thought the visuals looked cool, but the story would probably suck. Well, you guys are wrong, and you hadn't even seen the fucking movie before you started talking bad about it. Maybe "South Park" made fun of it for having blue people, but get over it - the aliens are blue.

Seriously, I can't recommend the experience enough. Go see it in theaters - there was a sense of wonder I can only compare to when the lights went down at the theater I was seeing Star Wars: Episode 1 at in fifth grade. It's more a fantasy story than sci-fi, but there are enough elements of both to satisfy my nerd-needs. It's just a great story told well, and as escapism it works phenomenally.

Cliff's notes: AVATAR is in every way worth your time. Go see it.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


the news-part real quick: New movie's coming out, called The Crazies. It's a remake of an older movie of the same name, by George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead director, he pretty much invented zombies.) I didn't see the original and I doubt I ever will, it just doesn't look worth going out of my way for. Anyway, trailer got released for the new Crazies. Check it out.

Looks pretty fun, actually. Timothy Olyphant's always a good time to watch (save for that horrible fourth Die Hard), and I'm all about stories where people fight their way out of horrible situations in quarantined towns that may or may not involve zombies. Yeah, this trailer's actually pretty g- heeeeey, wait a minute! That's the fucking song from Donnie Darko again! Stop it!

Yes, Gary Jules' cover of Tears for Fears' song "Mad World" showed up in the ending sequence of Donnie Darko in 2001, that movie every kid in my high school that shopped at Hot Topic fucking loved. The entire appeal to that movie is in the end montage set to this song. Quick film tip for all you aspiring directors out there: throw in a montage at the end of your movie with a soft indie-pop cover of an older song. In this montage, make every character in your movie just kind of look sad. Boom. It's a hit, and everyone will think it actually means something. (It's actually a pretty enjoyable movie, I just really hate that montage.) Check out the ending of Donnie Darko to see what I mean (spoilers are in the following video so don't watch if it's on your Netflix queue):

Yep. Then that song blew the fuck up and started getting used in all kinds of stuff, trailers, tv shows, you name it. They even used it in the commercial for Gears of War, possibly the manliest video game of all time. That's the game with the gun that is also a chainsaw, for crying out loud.

The kids seem to like that "Mad World," though, so they went ahead and used it in the commercial. To reiterate, in that game you have a gun. This gun has a chainsaw attached to the underside of it. You use this chainsaw when you are close enough to an enemy to chainsaw through their face, until they are dead. Blood fills the screen, it's actually pretty rewarding. Still, let's give this ultra-violent testosterone video game a good indie commercial.

Here's a look at the Wikipedia's list of TV shows this song has been used in:

Guys, stop it. Stop using this song. Get another one. I know, I know, it works so well in montage form, but so do a lot of other songs - explore music a little. Maybe start listening to music on your own! Get an iPod, Hollywood, and start shaping your own taste in music. Then, you can say to yourself, "Jeez, I really need a song for this trailer like that 'Mad World,' but (and this is the important part) I know I can't actually use 'Mad World,' it's been done to death already, I guess I'll have to just keep listening to new music until I find something that fits!"

You know you've noticed this in other songs, too. Here. Read up on it.