Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Top 10 Musicals

[Dear God, please let the forthcoming American Idiot musical be AWESOME. Danke.]

I am excluding animated films here, as so many of them are musicals. Also, the Muppets.  Also, for those who know me, a note on Rent. Ah, Rent. I suppose my expectations were always going to be too high for it, but I do think Chris Columbus made a number of mistakes adapting Rent for the screen. I could launch into an entire essay, but for now I'll say that the filmed version of the final cast, while not being my favorite troop, is still better than the movie version.

1. Cabaret
2. Moulin Rouge
3. Fiddler on the Roof
4. Singin' in the Rain
5. West Side Story

Monday, May 28, 2012

Films I Own that Pass the Bechdel Test

Granted, the Bechdel Test is not the end-all-be-all for women in film. After all, some movies pass by on slim margins, or contain problematic portrayals of women. And some movies have kick-ass, solitary heroines or great parts for actresses in a male environment. That said, movies systematically don't tend to show women talking to each other as, you know, they do every day. So.

28 Days Later - It helps when your characters have something else on their minds. Like Zombies!
Pan's Labyrinth
Independence Day
Jurassic Park
The Matrix
Sleepy Hollow
Trick r' Treat

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Zoo Mix

A Menagerie of Songs, with matching collective nouns:
Coyote - Better than Ezra [A Band of Coyotes]
Monkey - Bush [A Troop of Monkeys]
Piggy - Nine Inch Nails [A Trip of Pigs]
Rhinoceros - Smashing Pumpkins [A Crash of Rhinocerous]
Dolphin - Poe [A Pod of Dolphins] 
Barracuda - Heart [A Battery of Barracudas] 
Bear - The Antlers [A Sloth of Bears]
Rattlesnakes - Tori Amos [A Rhumba of Rattlesnakes]
Ladybird - Ladytron [A Loveliness of Ladybirds]
Honey Bee - Garbage [A Swarm of Bees]
Roadrunner - The Modern Lovers [A Marathon of Roadrunners]
Blackbird - Beatles [A Cloud of Blackbirds]
Elephant Elephant - Evelyn Evelyn [A Herd of Elephants]
Elephants - Them Crooked Vultures [A Memory of Elephants]
Fireflies - Owl City [A Conflagration of Fireflies]
100,000 fireflies - Magnetic Fields [A Swarm of Fireflies]
Muskrat Ramble - Phil Harris[?]
Bumble Bee Rock - Ventures [A Swarm of Bees]
Superfast Jellyfish - Gorillaz [A Smack of Jellyfish]
Surf Rat - The Rumblers [A Pack of Rats]
Blue Bird - Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions [A Band of Bluejays (close as I could get)]
The Bonny Swans - Loreena McKennitt [A Bevy of Swans]
The Chipmunk song - The Chipmunks[A Scurry of Chipmunks]

Octopus' Garden - Beatles [A Consortium of Octopi]
Butterflies & Hurricanes - Muse [A Flutter of Butterflies]
Karma Chameleon - Culture Club [? None, although I like the suggestions Camoflage and Illusion]
Slow Cheetah - Red Hot Chili Peppers [A Coalition of Cheetahs]

Chicken Man - Evelyn Evelyn [A Brood of Chickens]
Elk Hunt - Last of the Mohicans Soundtrack[A Gang of Elk]
Green Hornet - Al Hirt [A Nest of Hornets]
Funky Mule - Ike & Tina Turner [A Pack of Mules]
White Rabbit - Jefferson Airplane [A Husk of Rabbits]
Night Owl - The Righteous Brothers [A Parliament of Owls]
Black Sheep - Metric [A Drove of Sheep]
Turtle Blues - Big Brother & the Holding Company [A Bale of Turtles]
Mr. Zebra - Tori Amos [A Zeal of Zebras]
Bats in the Belfry - Dispatch [A Colony of Bats] 
Earthquakes and Sharks - Brandtson [A Shiver of Sharks]
Cripple and the Starfish - Antony & the Johnsons [A Tird of Starfish (?)]
A Whale of a Tale - Kirk Douglas [A Gam of Whales]
Seven Caged Tigers - Stone Temple Pilots [A Streak of Tigers]
Disease of the Dancing Cats - Bush [A Pounce of Cats]
You Drive Me Ape You Big Gorilla - The Dickies [A Shrewdness of Apes, A Band of Gorillas]
The Mouse & the Model - The Dresden Dolls [A Mischief of Mice]
Boris the Spider - The Who [A Cluster of Spiders]
Little Fury Bugs - Death Cab for Cutie [A Horde of Insects]
The Cockroach that ate Cincinnati - Rose & the Arrangement [An Intrusion of Cockroaches]
Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie - Joanna Newsome [A Bed of Clams, A Cast of Crabs]
Fly Like an Eagle - Steve Miller Band [A Convocation of Eagles]
Apache Rose Peacock - Red Hot Chili Peppers [An Ostentation of Peacocks]
I Cut Like a Buffalo - The Dead Weather [An Obstinancy of Buffalo]
Grandma got run over by a Reindeer - ? [A Herd of Reindeer]
When Doves Cry - Prince [A Pitying of Doves]
Green Finch and Linnet Bird - Sweeney Todd [A Charm of Finches, A Parcel of Linnets]
Portions of Foxes - Rilo Kiley [A Skulk of Fox]
Magpie to the Morning - Neko Case [A Mischief of Magpies]
The Dam at Otter Creek - Live [A Romp of Otters]
An Episode of Sparrows - Astronautalis [A Ubiquity of Sparrows]
Poisoning Pigeons in the Park - Tom Leher [A Passel of Pigeons]
I am the Walrus - Beatles [A Pod of Walruses]
The Moribund Tree and the Toad - Javier Navarrete [A Knot of Toads]
Of Wolf and Man - Metallica [A Pack of Wolves
Hungry like the Wolf - Duran Duran [A Rout of Wolves]
Little Lion Man - Mumford & Sons [A Pride of Lions]
Gold Lion - Yeah Yeah Yeahs [A Sawt of Lions]
Pretty Horses - Shirley Manson [A Team of Horses]
Pale Horses - Moby [A Harras of Horses]
Black Horse & the Cherry Tree - KT Tunstall [A Stable of Horses]
Hound Dog - Elvis [A Kennel of Dogs]
Space Dog - Tori Amos [A Cry of Dogs]
Dog New Tricks - Garbage [A Mute of Dogs]
Black Dog - Led Zeppelin [A Pack of Dogs]
Surfin' Bird - The Trashmen [An Aviary of Birds]
The Birds (pt. 1) - The Weeknd [A Dissimulation of Birds]
Songbird - Fleetwood Mac [A Volary of Birds]
And finally, The Salmon Dance (ft. Fatlip) - Chemical Brothers [A Run of Salmon]. This one gets the video:

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Favorite Movie Posters - part 3 (the art and alternates)

The great part of having so many graphic designers around is that there is now a plethora of specialty movie posters. These can be from specialty design shops (Mondo being the largest and best known), one offs for special screenings or re-releases, design competitions, or portfolio work for artists showing off their skills and style. Or studios can release things online that movie snobs will like, without having to try to sell their more artistic ideas to the masses. Here are some of my favorites, with attributions when I could place them.


Marvel Studios/ LA Times Hero Complex Film Fest.

Longnecks! Tree stars! the Great Valley, a land still lush and green. ....what? (Mondo.)

Part of a set of four and used in the international marketing campaign. (La Boca)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Favorite Movie Posters - part 2

A few more favorites in a variety of categories.
First up, some of my favorite Older Posters:

Really, it just matches the visuals in the film, but it is gorgeous.

I like the trompe l'oeil of this.

I love the colors on this. Also Jimmy Stewart has the world's largest binoculars.

This is so pretty. I wish more movie posters were paintings.

My favorite Saul Bass. I like the optic design. (Inspiring one of my favorite modern posters, which you will see in a bit.)

The Art Posters:


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Favorite movie posters - part 1

I thought I'd put up a few of my favorite posters, in honor of this. (I particularly love his second design with the crow on the branches). Particularly when so many movie posters follow trends, such as this or these, and... voila:

Not that all of those are bad. The posters for 3:10 to Yuma and Walk the Line are beautiful, despite being sexy back. And The Dark Knight and The Descent are clever variations on the designed face trend.

I can't speak to the individual artists or the artistic movements any of these came out of. But here are some of my favorite posters, which don't look like every other photo collage in the multiplex these days. (I should mention - it was SUPER hard to narrow these down, and I'll be posting some other ones I like in other categories later.) In no particular order:

 It looks like a carnival poster and it's unique.

I like the colors and the typeface on this. Plus Jane is in this demure position, while Rochester's emotive look fills her dress.

I love this. Its so different. And I love the Victorian type of nature drawings. Yet it gets across the movie being about skin. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Packing Playlist

In honor of a close friend who is moving to the US, I am creating a packing playlist. Generally when I pack, I just set my "Rock Mix" on the highest possible volume, but I never met a theme mix challenge I didn't like...

Manifest Destiny
Billy Joel - Movin' Out
The Animals - We Gotta Get Out of This Place
The Shangri-Las - The Leader of the Pack
Nellie McKay - Suitcase Song
Rusted Root - Send Me on My Way
David Bowie - Changes (also: The Zombies - Changes)
Beastie Boys - Body Movin'
My Chemical Romance - Planetary (Go!)
Cake - Going the Distance
AFI - The Leaving Song
Janis Joplin - Move Over
Jet - Move On
Outkast - The Way You Move
Junior Senior - Move Your Feet
Bodyrockers - I Like the Way You Move
Young MC - Bust a Move
Reel 2 Real - I Like to Move It
Metallica - Wherever I May Roam
The All American Rejects - Move Along 
N.E.R.D. - She Wants to Move
Mims - Move if U Wanna
Chemical Brothers - Leave Home
Patsy Cline - I'm Moving Along
Ray Charles - I'm Movin' On
The Band - The Weight
Ray Charles - Hit the Road Jack
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Aeroplane
The Cranberries - Go Your Own Way (Fleetwood Mac cover)
Madonna - Jump
Supertramp - Long Way Home
Trent Reznor & Karen O - Immigrant Song
Evita - Another Suitcase, Another Hall
Judy Collins - Pack Up Your Sorrows
Spike Jones - Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag
The Darkness - One Way Ticket
Beatles - Ticket to Ride
Johnny Cash - I've Been Everywhere
Simon & Garfunkle - America
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers - American Girl
West Side Story - America
Simon & Garfunkle - Homeward Bound
The Offspring - Gotta Get Away
The Beach Boys - Let's Go Away For Awhile
Travelling Wilburys - End of the Line
Bing Crosby - Far Away Places
Bobby Darin - Beyond the Sea
Led Zeppelin - Ramble On 
B-52s - Roam
Liz Phair - Stratford-On-Guy
Jimmy Buffett - Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes
John Denver - Leaving on a Jet Plane (or Me First & the Gimme Gimmes if we don't want to be maudlin) (ditto those same two for Country Roads)
Beatles - She's Leaving Home
Willie Nelson - On the Road Again
Beatles - The Long & Winding Road
Marta Keen (arr. Jay Althouse) - Homeward Bound
Poe - Fly Away


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Top Ten Horror-Comedies

Sticking with a theme...
10. Arachnophobia

9. Ghostbusters

8. Evil Dead 2/ Army of Darkness. Yes, I'm going to continue to list them as a double feature. So good. 

7. Little Shop of Horrors

6. Trick R' Treat

5. Cabin in the Woods. I want a gif of these two dancing SO BADLY.

4. Zombieland

3. Sleepy Hollow

2. American Psycho. Well, obviously. The address of this blog is a bastardization of one of the funnier parts. I love this movie. "Tonight I, uh, I just had to kill a LOT of people!"

1. Scream. Scary and funny. The best of the bunch.

Bonus 15:
 11. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil. Teenagers vs. Hillbillies. From the hillbillies point of view.
12. Attack the Block
13. Shaun of the Dead
14. Beetlejuice
15. Fright Night
16. Eight Legged Freaks
17. Tremors
18. The Addams Family
19. Jennifer's Body
20. John Dies at the End
21. Black Sheep
22. I Sell the Dead. One of the best moments of slapstick horror ever.
23. Cannibal! the Musical! True story; in my college theater class, we all had to perform songs from musicals. The stoner of the class went with "When I Was on Top of You". It made me endlessly happy.
24. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
25. Dracula: Dead and Loving It. This objectively might be terrible. But I saw it young and thought that the Renfield eating bugs was the funniest thing I'd ever seen.

Important note: I have not seen Slither. Or Dead Alive. Or Bubba Ho-Tep. (Fido, Severance, Teeth, Hausu, American Werewolf in London, the new Piranha film...

Monday, May 14, 2012

Top Ten Horror

So I thought it would be fun to do some of my top 10 favorites in various genres, inspired by this.

First up, Horror:

10. The Fly
9. The Sixth Sense
8. Evil Dead 2/Army of Darkness
7. Let the Right One In
6. Pan's Labyrinth
5. Se7en
4. Scream
3. Carrie
2. 28 Days Later
1. Silence of the Lambs

Honorable Mention: Jaws. I never think of it as a horror film, but it is great.

[UPDATE: I left Stake Land AND Red, White, and Blue off of this list. They get super honorable mentions.]

[Ones that don't do it for me: Rosemary's Baby, The Shining, Friday the 13th, Psycho, Blair Witch, The Haunting, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Exorcist, The Birds.]

[To see: The Descent, the Orphanage, Carnival of Souls, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, Alien, An American Werewolf in London, The Ring, The Devil's Backbone, Audition, Suspiria, Nightmare on Elm Street, May, The Fog, The Mist, Henry, Wolf Creek, and The Thing (I have actually seen The Thing, but years and years ago, and I think I confuse parts of it with an X-Files episode...)]

Well, whaddya know...

Friday, May 11, 2012

Useful sites for deciding on where to go see what

I was sending these links to my aunt and uncle, and figured they might be widely appreciated:

"My go-to sites for deciding on formats: http://realorfake3d.com/ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IMAX#Feature_films_partially_shot_on_IMAX_cameras. Most IMAX releases, while they can be fun (and better projection than some cineplexes), aren't for actual IMAX film. (Avengers is neither 3-D nor in IMAX, although it could be fun to see on a true IMAX screen).

Of course, I'll have to start noting which theaters have 48fps or laser projection soon. And it isn't easy to tell which cinemas are too lazy to take off 3-d projectors from their equipment for regular blockbusters...."

Basically, if Mission Impossible was filmed partially in IMAX (it was), then it pays to see it in IMAX. But only on an actual IMAX screen. A version of the true IMAX map for google maps (rather than google earth) can be found here (stopped updating about 2010?). The original brouhaha kicked off here.

Then again, I really enjoyed seeing the Watchmen midnight on a (true) IMAX screen, despite the fact that it wasn't shot on IMAX. And considering the problem outlined by the Boston Globe above, IMAX projection is likelier (I think) to be better quality than your corner multiplex. Depending on who is running it.

We should probably all just go to the art house cinemas with flawless projection of older films. Simpler, really.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Epic SFIFF round-up.

In which I try to remember details from seeing 27 films in 14 days.

I missed three things I had been planning on seeing; Vivan las Antipodas, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty and Meanwhile in Mamelodi. Sad about Meanwhile, because it was the runner-up winner for documentary, and set in South Africa during the world cup. Ah well - there's always Netflix.

The Excellent (would not hesitate to recommend):

Liberal Arts. I know. I'm TOTALLY surprised. This was actually the secret screening. Once we were assembled in the auditorium, they announced the title and I thought, "Okay. It got decent buzz at Sundance. It'll probably be too twee and quirky and INDIE for my tastes, but they could've picked something worse." And I completely loved it. The tagline is about a 30-something falling for a 19-yr-old when he visits his alma mater, but it's actually about a lot more and a lot of the best parts stem from his interactions with a host of other characters he meets on campus. The film touches on college, life-long learning, literature, relationships, growing up... all-in-all it's just very well written and not what I expected. I really recommend checking it out.

Where Do We Go Now? Oh. SO GOOD. Fantastic characters, really fun, really human. Also the only film at the fest that made me cry (even when I knew what was going to happen!) The description; "Winner of the audience award at the Toronto Film Festival, Nadine Labaki’s humorous and warmhearted follow-up to Caramel tells the story of a group of women in a Lebanese village who resort to extreme measures to keep their Christian and Muslim husbands from engaging in religiously motivated violence." [Trailer - warning, makes it seem cutsier than it actually is.]

Wuthering Heights. Fantastic. I love Andrea Arnold's Fish Tank, and she did such a great job here.  She pares down the story to the obsession and bond between Heathcliff and Cathy and films it all in incredible, evocative camera-work. So good. Description; "Adolescent infatuation between star-crossed lovers deepens into wild passion in this cinematic incarnation of Emily Brontë’s classic 19th-century novel. Set against the rainy windswept Yorkshire moors, this adaptation is a haunting and almost tactile depiction of romantic obsession pared down to its most visceral and elemental form." [Trailer - this gives you a good sense of what the film is like.] (I have to follow this up with a story; I was in line for my next film after this one, and this guy turns to me, clearly not having gotten the film. Which, okay. It's filmed in a very oblique, artistic manner. It may not be for everyone. Anyways, he says, "was that a chick flick? Because I didn't get it." Um, NO. Personally, I've always liked Cleolinda's description; "Wuthering Heights is not romance but actually horror, about two emotional sadomasochists who lay waste to everyone around them, using them as pawns in their own personal war of attrition.")

663114 (short) (mentioned here)

The Good:
Valley of Saints. Mostly locals from Dal Lake and only one actor in the cast. A really interesting look into Kashmiri life, while not focusing overtly on the political situation. Description; "Using Kashmir’s picturesque Dal Lake as its backdrop and underpinned by the political unrest in the region, this moving drama explores the relationship between two best friends and the female researcher, studying environmental degradation, who threatens to distract them from their dreams of escape." [A on CriticWire.]

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Outside Lands Mix

I'm going to Outside Lands this year. The lineup is just too good to miss. So I thought I'd put together a mix in anticipation. (Inspired by this.)

Foo Fighters -  Arlandria
Metallica - Enter Sandman (I mean, come on. How much fun will this be live?)
Franz Ferdinand - Ulysses (So it turns out there is a video for this, but weirdly, the vocals seem to be half a beat behind on most of the song. I don't know if there are two versions?)

Die Antwoord - I Fink You Freeky
Dispatch - Mission (Hey! I had no idea these guys got back together. They played my prom sophomore and junior year. Good times.)
Animal Kingdom - Mephistopheles
Alabama Shakes - Hold On
Beck - Chemtrails
Bloc Party - Womanizer v. Mercury