Yippee-ki-yay Santa. Happy Holidays Rubbish Readers!
Friday, December 25, 2009
Yippee-ki-yay Santa. Happy Holidays Rubbish Readers!
Posted by Mike Kujak at 8:06 PM
Thursday, December 24, 2009
I’m going to talk about the situation of an actor being controlled by a franchise. Right now, Downey is locked down into two; Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes. Both of these franchises have quite a bit of life left in them and I think he’ll be attached to them for a long time. I’m not really worried about the future of the franchises because I think they have a lot of things working for them. I am, however, concerned with the future career of Downey. As much as I love the work he is doing right now he won’t have a lot of time for more independent projects. You can debate Downey’s range, but you can’t argue the fact that when he commits himself to a role it’s always a pleasant performance. He is currently in his prime and it’d be a shame to see him drift through it by staying committed to just two franchises.
Then I read this article that states that if Sherlock is a flop, he might consider retiring (at least for awhile). I can completely understand why he would do that, but would he have a choice. If he did, what is his definition of flop and could he really imagine this thing flopping in a big way. He is the lead in the Christmas movie of the year. It might not get favorable reviews, but that won’t stop its economic or success or general public favorability. We love him too much.
This is what worries me…
"If Sherlock Holmes performs well, I could be busy for the next five or seven or ten years." – Downey
So does this mean one of my favorite actors working today is going to be locked down for the next decade? That’s what it looks like…
I guess it could be worse. Tony Stark and Sherlock Holmes are too highly charismatic characters that should be able to feed my Downey syndrome. There are a lot of actors that get stuck to franchises (Depp and Jackman come to mind) but it ultimately doesn’t end up slowing them down because they got the jobs for a reason. They’re the best at what they do and the best always find a way to make things work.
Here's the new trailer for the second installment of Downey's other franchise; Iron Man.
Posted by Mike Kujak at 5:34 PM
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Recently, Annalee Newitz of Io9 wrote an article named "When Will White People Stop Making Movies Like Avatar".
"Critics have called alien epic Avatar a version of Dances With Wolves because it's about a white guy going native and becoming a great leader. But Avatar is just the latest SciFi rehash of an old white guilt fantasy. Whites need to stop remaking the white guilt story, which is a sneaky way of turning every story about people of color into a story about being white. Speaking as a white person, I don't need to hear more about my own racial experience. I'd like to watch some movies about people of color (ahem, aliens), from the perspective of that group, without injecting a random white (ahem, human) character to explain everything to me. Science fiction is exciting because it promises to show the world and the universe from perspectives radically unlike what we've seen before. But until white people stop making movies like Avatar, I fear that I'm doomed to see the same old story again and again. " - Newitz
Yes, there are a lot of white fantasy films because the majority of our country is white. Audiences are more likely to relate to their own race so Hollywood executives spend their time creating and promoting white stars. The vicious circle.
But is she missing the main problem?
I don’t think it’s appropriate to point the finger at the film-makers. It's hard believe it was a conscious choice by Cameron to pick a white lead to make a statement in the film. His film may comment on race but my interpretation of the film was a clear-cut message of environment vs. technology. Cameron is part of a system and he is using the system that is available to him.
20th Century Fox was about to allow Cameron to place a minority lead in a project this big. Of course, they’d let him use Denzel or Will Smith but neither of those actors really work for the part. There simply isn't enough minority stars to work with.
I think it’s appropriate to end a post about fighting racism with a nice little Avatar spoof battle between White Male Action Heroes and Animated Creatures. Enjoy.
Posted by Mike Kujak at 3:37 PM
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
It’s a rare thing when a 160 minute film feels too short. This is the case for James Cameron’s new film Avatar. In the beginning, I was hesitant to give myself to the project. The dialogue created weak characters that the actors weren’t able to flesh out. My favorite over the top non-sense can easily be seen in this clip.
Despite these weaknesses, as much as I tried to keep my approach critical, I ended up losing myself in the child-like wonder the film creates. The new technology creates an experience much like seeing the computer animated dinosaurs of Jurassic Park for the first time. It’s the next step in an artistic medium and James Cameron deserves his standing ovation.
When his brother is killed in battle, paraplegic Marine Jake Sully decides to take his place in a mission on the distant world of Pandora. Sully is played by Sam Worthington who despite an average performance here actually proved his acting chops in the latest Terminator sequel earlier this year. With this performance alone I wouldn’t grant him the level of superstar, but based on his previous work and his upcoming release Clash of the Titans, I assume he’ll be a household name by the end of next year.
Once landing on Pandora, Jake learns of intentions of driving off the native "Na'vi" in order to mine for the precious material scattered throughout the rich woodland. In exchange for the spinal surgery that will fix his legs, Jake gathers intel for a military unit led by gung-ho Colonel Quaritch. He gathers this information by infiltrating the Na'vi people with the use of an "avatar" identity. The entire setup of the film had me cringing and waiting for it to get better. Luckily, once you start spending time with Pandora's natives the film really picks up. It’s nice to see that Cameron is so in tune with his inner-12 year old because that’s exactly how you feel during this movie. Younger kids will adopt this movie into their culture and marketing executives will adopt the action figure sales into their wallets.
It’s worth mentioning that any attempt to identify the film's influences are proof that it’s really its own super-genre. It falls into countless subgenres including; action, adventure, thriller, drama, space, romance, futuristic, environmental, and war with a hint of western sprinkled on top. The films influences are just as numerous, the most obvious being; Jurassic Park, Planet of the Apes, the Alien Franchise, Pocahontas, and of course Star Wars. When you take everything into consideration I think the one word that best describes the project is epic. There is very little that is small or personal about this film. It’s the kind film-making that falls flat unless you’re working with the absolute cream of Hollywood’s crop. Right now Cameron is the cream.
Avatar is in theaters now. You can leave any comments or questions below.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Green=Worth your money.
Red=Not worth your money.
1. Avatar $73.0M: 10 ft. Smurfs vs. Humans. The technical achievement of the decade.
2. Princess and the Frog $12.2M: I’m not a princess or a frog expert. Sorry.
3. The Blind Side $10.0M: Perfect to take the family to over the holidays. Safe and inspiring. Maybe don't bring the racist grandma...
4. Did You Hear About the Morgans $7.0M: Yes, I did hear about them. Right before I shot myself.
5. Twilight Saga: New Moon $4.4M: The thing about this movie is…Oh look...Could it be?…Avatar is out!
6. Invictus $4.2M: Good political piece. Don’t expect a sports movie.
7. Disney's A Christmas Carol $3.4M: Zemeckis is not the technical god some make him out to be.
8. Up in the Air $3.1M: What will when best picture? Up or Up in the Air?
9. Brothers $2.6M: It seems that if you buy the performances you buy the movie. Enter at your own risk.
10. Old Dogs $2.3M: R.I.P. John Travolta and Robin Williams. The Good Ole’ Days-2009.
Posted by Mike Kujak at 9:35 AM
Sunday, December 20, 2009
There's nothing better than 60 minutes of strong television drama. Unfortunately, it’s a rare thing to come by these days. Here’s a list of the Top 10 most watched drama television shows.
2. Criminal Minds
6. Gossip Girl
7. CSI: NY
8. Grey’s Anatomy
9. The Mentalist
10. One Tree Hill
Not a very overwhelming list in my opinion. For such a huge market that list could/should be a lot stronger and I think I know the problem.
You may have noticed that The Mentalist is the only semi-new show on the list. All of the other shows are in their 3rd season or beyond. Most of these shows were at one point great but now washed up due to how long they are required to survive. In a non-episodic format, a drama show has to make relationships and plot-lines worth following for multiple seasons. This leads to shallow melodrama and ultimately causes the show to lose its original focus.
The reason this happens is because television shows are dragged out too long. Even the greatest shows can only go for so long before they come repetitive. House doesn't need 120 hours to get its point across. It has said everything it wanted to say. The networks know that people identify with these shows so they spend more time expanding these shows then looking for new and original ideas. The audience is also to blame for this because they like the show so much they’d rather see it dragged out for a couple extra ugly seasons then say goodbye. I encourage both the networks and the public to let go of the things they love. Put all your effort into 3-5 brilliant seasons and then move on to another show or another idea.
Great shows that lasted 5 or less seasons…
Arrested Development, Deadwood, Firefly, Freaks and Geeks, Roots, Veronica Mars and The Wire.
Please leave any comments or questions. List some good shows that networks should cut the cord on. If you don't think some of these shows should end, say why.
Posted by Mike Kujak at 7:59 AM
Friday, December 18, 2009
10. The Wild Things (Where the Wild Things Are): Though the film wasn't what it could have been, these “things” definitely leave an impression on you. If this was a list of creatures from children’s books these guys would find their way to the top of the list, but the film adaption simply didn’t capture the same amount of wonder. Nonetheless, the wild rumpuses are enough to remind us of the glorious creatures from our childhood.
9. The Apes (The Planet of the Apes): Yes, I know. Apes are animals. Damn dirty animals. However, they’re mostly man-ape hybrids and are even considers aliens up until the twist ending. I haven’t mentioned yet but I’m talking about the original film, not the remake. I never thought I’d get to see: Apes riding on horseback, Ape City, or some Ape on Man smooching. I have this film to thank for that.
8. The Mogwai (Gremlins): The cutest yet most dangerous thing ever to come out of Chinatown. Gizmo and his evil reptilian spawns terrorized my childhood just enough so that I couldn’t forget them. This sly spoof on fairy tales is cheesy but lovable because of the creatures it presents to us.
7. The Replicants (Blade Runner): These bioengineered creatures created by the Tyrell Corporation may be considered robots to some, but if you look closely at how they are presented they may represent a new generation. The lines between robot and human are so unclear it seems appropriate to label them a seperate race. Regardless of what they are, if they’re cause doesn’t tug at your heart strings by the end of the film, I’d debate your own humanity.
6. The Aliens (The Alien Franchise): I told you there’d be aliens. These extraterrestrial life forms may be the most fun thing to see getting beat up, chased down, and blown to pieces (besides Nazi’s of course) throughout film's history. These creatures are the hunters more than the hunted, but regardless of the role they play their slimy charisma always demands your full attention.
5. The Wookies (Star Wars): Okay I know I said I wouldn’t bring up Star Wars, but there are so many independent races in the film it was impossible to leave all of them off. If I had to belong to another race there would be no hesitation. Wookies for life! Ewoks are cute too, but Chewbacca and his clan deserve three films of their own (*wink wink* Lucas).
4. Citizens of Halloween Town (The Nightmare Before Christmas): Deformed monsters, ghosts, ghouls, goblins, vampires, and werewolves have never been so pleasantly displayed. Topped off with the charismatic leadership of Jack Skellington “The Pumpkin King” and you’ve got a race worth dying for (pun very intended).
3. The Munchkins (The Wizard of Oz): Probably the largest midget gathering to this day. These classic high pitched Ding Dongs were a pleasant entry into the world of Technicolor for a vast majority of the American population. There’s no place like home? Fuck home. Munchkinland is where it’s at.
2. The Spirits (Spirited Away): Hayao Miyasaki is no stranger to mystical creatures. If it was an individual creature list he would own almost every spot on the list, but in this specific category his world of spirits will have to suffice. The “bathhouse” is the center of this community of what seems to be the ultimate melting pot of Japanese animation.
1. Andy’s Gang and Sid’s Mutants (Toy Story): Not so much a race, as they are a family. One of the greatest ensembles ever put on the screen. Andy's gang made me miss my own toys and Sid's mutants made sure I never looked under my bed again. If you’ve seen the movie I don’t have to explain it to you.
To infinity and beyond!
Posted by Mike Kujak at 7:08 AM
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Cameron has a large body of brilliant work including; the entire Terminator franchise, Rambo: First Blood Part II (Which should be called Second Blood…), Aliens, The Abyss, True Lies and Titanic. Excluding the first Terminator, it’s rational to believe that if any of these films had stronger dialogue the characters would fill out and the film would be better because of it.
A major part of our attention in a film is naturally directed toward dialogue. It is the key to understanding and experiencing all the information given to us in the film. However, film dialogue has so many unique characteristics it would be unfair to simply set specific guidelines to achieve it. The fact is that sometimes bad dialogue can be enjoyable, and while it makes for a few good "One-liners" the rest of the film is suffocated by it. In Cameron’s case the dialogue never ruins the film, but instead simply limits it from achieving its full cinematic potential.
So when you’re out there this weekend watching Avatar pay attention to see if the dialogue takes you out of the film or creates weaker characters. Hopefully it won’t but I’m guessing it will.
Laughable/Classic One-Liners written by Mr. Cameron…
Kyle Reese: Pain can be controlled - you just disconnect it.
The Terminator: I'll be back.
John Rambo: Mission... [thrusts knife into table]…accomplished.
The Terminator: I need a vacation.
The Terminator: Hasta la vista, baby.
Harry: [while launching a missile at a helicopter] You're fired!
Jack: I'm the king of the world!
Posted by Mike Kujak at 11:16 AM
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
20. The League
18. Curb Your Enthusiasm
17. 30 Rock
16. The Office (UK)
14. The Simpsons
13. Reno 911!
12. That 70’s Show
11. SpongeBob SquarePants
10. The Colbert Report
9. Robot Chicken
8. Chappelle’s Show
7. Arrested Development
6. The Office
5. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
4. Family Guy
3. South Park
2. The Daily Show
1. Freaks and Geeks
Posted by Mike Kujak at 3:43 PM
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
“Are you dumb? We need to know the good from the bad. These corporate fat cats aren’t going to stop making Transformers 2: The Squeakuel unless someone calls them out on it. Plus, people like reading a movie getting torn to shreds. It’s a chance to introduce some comedy into your review.”
Here’s the deal: it’s not that simple. Think about it. First, the vast majority of bad movies covered by the media are major blockbusters that had little to no passion put into them. They pay a writer to throw something resembling a plot together, give it to the CGI specialists who then whip out the explosions, and top it off with some household name that will draw in the crowds. That best part about this formula is that it never fails regardless of the final product. Because of the advertising spent promoting the thing, people pay to see it. So why write a review of something that is going to make millions regardless?
Here’s another thing that bothers me. When a company is promoting its next big project, they send pre-screening tickets to hundreds of media outlets. They don’t do this because they want the critics to review their movie positively. The companies know that critics who consider themselves writers or even artists would never let a company buy out their opinion. If the company owns the critic, the critic loses his voice and ultimately his audience. The companies are smarter than that. They’re not sending them the tickets to get positive reviews, but simply to get coverage. The actual review in the paper is the advertisement that the company is hoping for. They don’t give a shit whether the critics like it or not. They care about the banner that read “G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra Review!” When we write these negative reviews aren’t we doing more harm than good?
Think of it from another perspective. What is blogs were run like popular music blogs on the internet. Independent music blogs don’t attempt to cover everything. They post the songs they like. They share the love. What if a film blog was run the same way? We only wrote about movies we cared about. We ignore the Hollywood bullshit and utilize the one power critics have these days; promoting smaller independent films that need all the coverage they can get. If all film blogs were run like this you could change the entire industry. Now companies can’t expect us to review the film unless we like it (or they stop prescreening films in general). This would even expose the sell out critics and quote whores that call “Couples Retreat, the comedy event of the year!”
If all this wasn’t convincing, think about how it would change the film critic’s image. A big reason critics aren’t appreciated is because they are seen as elitist or unconnected to the audience. If we spent our time celebrating film (and criticizing it by simply ignoring it) the people may come back to us. Not to mention that every time we trash a film that someone loves (Twilight comes to mind), we lose a small section of our audience.
I suppose covering everything could make the most sense because the more content you put out the more money you make and the greater chance you have of capturing an audience. I could just be confused and depressed art journalist. I’m simply looking for different ideas that can help this Great (Film Critic) Depression we seem to be in.
Posted by Mike Kujak at 12:57 PM
Monday, December 14, 2009
If any of you gave up after the Pilot, I recommend taking a second look at the show. It gets stronger and it grows on you.
I'm hopping next season has a little more variety in the song choices (too many nondescript R&B tunes). Sadly, the next season is supposed to feature an entire episode of Madonna songs..Blah.
Please leave a comment on your reactions to the first season or what songs you'd like to see next season. Anyone can leave a comment, you don't need to register.
P.S - Don't Rain on My Parade in the season final impressed the hell out of me and was the inspiration for this post.
Posted by Mike Kujak at 2:00 PM
They don’t like to read – People aren’t reading 1000 word reviews anymore. Only film buffs are and that’s not a big enough audience to make money. This means making content shorter. If you’re not making it shorter you have to put it in a more appealing format. This could be making lists, or switching mediums to say audio or visual.
They like to be entertained – Critics have to have a voice. The days of subjective film criticism is over. It’s about the personal voice and how the readers respond to that voice. People want to laugh. People want to be moved. You can only teach people something these days if you get their attention first. Take The Daily Show for example; He uses comedy to portray the news and because he entertains his audience he gains their trust (making it easier for him to show/teach them something). This may also mean switching mediums to audio or visual.
They don’t like elitists – We now live in a more informed country. With a society of media literate adults they don’t need to be told what to see anymore. Critics have little to no power as far as what is seen these days. Most people over the age of 12 can decide what they like and what they won’t like. It might not be what the critics approve of, but they will feel they got their money’s worth. Personal opinion, public opinion/buzz/hype, and advertising all have more control then the film critic. Many of us, including even film critics don’t read reviews to be told what to see. We read them because we love them and we need to spread that love. The love for movies is growing in this country and if we can harness that love we can make a career out of it.
Film criticism needs to remind the people that we do this because we love movies. It's not as simply as Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down anymore. It needs to be a celebration of film. We need to be critics and artists at the same time even if today’s standards tell us that those two titles contradict each other.
Please leave a comment on other ways film criticism needs to change, or if you don't think it should change. You don't need to be registered to comment.
Posted by Mike Kujak at 1:49 PM
Then one day, someone starts talking about this thing called Chinese food. They say it's great but to you it just sounds different. "Chinese? I'm not gonna eat a dog or something."
It's impossible to imagine life without this food. You can’t remember what food was like before these treats. Unfortunately, some will never experience this foreign treat because…
They don’t like reading subtitles…
See a fucking foreign film. They taste great.
Please leave a comment about your favorite foreign films, or why you think subtitles/foreign film just aren't as fun. You don't need to be registered to comment.
Posted by Mike Kujak at 10:25 AM
Saturday, December 12, 2009
We met in a dark room. She's did most of the talking. I just listened.
I'm good at figuring her type out. I like to think it's what I'm best at. Yet, my type always seem to be the ones I don't understand.
She opens up new levels of awareness and understanding for me. The more I understand her, the more I appreciate her. I'd be lost without her.
Here's looking at you, kid.
P.S - My love of film does not emerge from any special critical approach. It comes only from that secret, personal union between the film and viewer in a darkened room. If that original love didn't already exist for me, there isn't much I could do to create it. If you truly love film, you'll find that analysis is worth the effort, for the understanding it brings will deepen your appreciation. Instead of canceling out the emotional experience of watching film, analysis should enhance and enrich that experience. I find that as you become more perceptive and look more deeply into the film, new levels of emotional experience will emerge.
Please leave a comment if you think Mike is wayyyyy too much into movies or if you feel the same way as he does. You don't need to be registered to comment.
Posted by Mike Kujak at 9:20 PM
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
1st viewing of the trailer...) Overwhelmed with excitment. Another reason to look forward to the holidays. One of my favorite actors working today tackling one of the most entertaining roles in the history of literature. Not to mention explosions, kung-fu, and Rachel McAdams.
The Sherlock Holmes character is the most filmed character in film history and an IMDB search seems to confirm this with 223 appearances in TV/film with the earliest coming in 1905. This is the most "Hollywood" version adapted to screen which could mean a great a success that inspires several sequels (or a complete wreck that inspires several sequels).
2nd viewing of the trailer) Uh oh. This could be a lot of CGI crap that falls under the same category as Van Hellsing and League of Extrodinary Gentleman. While an elitist film critic would laugh at these movies, I happen to have enjoyed them very much at the young age I saw them. I was slightly biased since I had a profound interest in anything involving Universal Monsters but nonetheless I will defend them to a certain extent. However, I only do so because they weren't further manipulated by stretching the films out into an entire franchise. There is a lot of profit in this Holmes adaption and it scares me that sequels will be made almost regardless of how well the film does.
3rd viewing of the trailer) I want to punch Jude Law in the face. I'm still excited for this movie after this viewing but I've come to terms with the fact that I much rather see an adaption of the original characters as opposed to two characters that are more commercially viable.
P.S - If you want to see a true adaption of Sherlock Holmes check out The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939). Great mystery and a superb cast. I know I'll be revisiting it before the new film is released.
Posted by Mike Kujak at 6:42 PM
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
1. The Twilight Saga - New Moon: Read the review.
2. The Blind Side: Institutional racism portrayed as inspirational melodrama. Yet for some reason people and critics like this movie.
3. 2012: There is a disaster heading towards earth...this movie.
4. Old Dogs: Just watch the trailer...and try not to punch the screen. These dogs need to be put to sleep. The only thing that interests me about this film is if Williams and Travolta will end up being lovers or not. It looks like it.
5. Disney's A Christmas Carol: "Christmas Carol" the video game! Oh boy! Wait a second...it's a movie...
6. Ninja Assassin: Uhmm the title is....Ninja....Assassin....hell yes (As long as your drunk, high, or both).
7. Planet 51: The movie time forgot. A week after it's release....
8. Precious: Are you a white liberal who wants to feel better about yourself and point the finger at The Man? Watch this girl get kicked around a few hours.
9. Fantastic Mr. Fox: See it if you like Wes Anderson films. Don't take the kids. P.S real indie kids like Fox, poser indie kids like Where the Wild Things Are (regardless of the original source material)
10. The Road: Wanna feel like someone just shot your dog? This is the movie for you. Seriously though, read the book.
Opening this Weekend
Brothers: Looks like the plot of Pearl Harbor without the "Pearl Harbor" aspect. I'm excited to see Toby go batshit insane though. I'd go craazy too if Jake Gyllenhaal/my brother slept with my wife/Natalie Portman.
Armored: Everyone involved is decent, but its trying too hard to be cool.
Everybodys Fine: Except Robert DeNiro's agent. Who should be fired.
Up in the Air: Could get an Oscar nomination, consult my previous post below.
Take care of each other,
Posted by Mike Kujak at 10:23 AM