Saturday, May 29, 2010

Movie Talk #5 (this time it's two for one)

Shutter Island & The Book of Eli.

So, here is the deal, because I now live in a ‘third world country’ the release dates for the movies are not quite the same as the ones for the states. I also happen to work in a small theater and that means that unless the company that makes the distribution of the pictures has enough number of copies available I don’t get the movie right away. Point in case, last week I was able to see ‘Shutter Island’ and this week it was the turn of ‘The book of Eli’. Just to paint you a better picture, apparently here ‘Where the wild things are’ hasn’t even been released yet, oddly enough ‘Iron man 2’ opened here 1 WEEK before than in the USA.

Anyway, I was more than happy to finally watch the latest Scorsese movie, being that he is a tremendous director and I’m a big fan. Now, what is there to say about a psycho-thriller? That there is going to have suspense? A twist at some point? That it’s going to be scary?
Well, yes, mark all of the above, it’s all there. What we can also say by this point in life is that Scorsese it’s not a writer/director, he’s like Ridley Scott, he takes a book or a play or even another movie from someone else and then remake it/adapt it to make his own vision. In that sense he is in a whole other league than people like Tarantino, Kevin Smith, Robert Rodriguez and the likes. Of course this doesn’t mean that any of the listed above lack talent or anything like that, just that their M.O. it’s different, hence the final product has a different taste in your mouth.

The story is based on a novel written by Dennis Lehane and it’s set in 1954. With this comes a crime noir sort of style that works as a compliment to the story. An U.S. Marshall (Di Caprio) gets via ferry to an island/prison to investigate the disappearance of an inmate. As soon as he reaches shore he is greeted by looks of mistrust and defiance, that’s never good.
As he starts the investigation we are presented with all sorts of ‘colorful’ characters ranging from inmates, guards, nurses and doctors. The atmosphere there is a mix between Mengele’s lab and Arkham Asylum, as the story unfolds we start thinking about what is real and what’s not, and as we fall into Di Caprio’s shoes we also start to doubt everything about that and those that surround us.

Now to the meat of the whole thing, if you give a tailor sheets you can’t ask him to make a tuxedo for you out of it, now can’t you? With the distinction between director and writer/director I made before I was trying to make a point; Scorsese is clearly a film maker, and a damn good one too, but the story falls short (for my taste, that is). The atmosphere he creates it’s very oppressive, he carefully selects the shots that will help to that end, managing the soundtrack to match and using the lights to convey different emotions (hats off to the photographer too), he knows the tricks on the book, and he has a very good and big book.

The main problem here is on the acting level, there is very little of that in this Island, and if there is some I’m afraid that it isn’t very good. Di Caprio is doing the same character he’s been doing since circa ‘The Aviator’ and I’m extremely sure that is the same character he’s playing in ‘Inception’ after doing something like ‘What’s eating Gilbert Grape’ it’s very sad to see that he became a one trick pony. Ben Kingsley hasn’t done anything even close to remarkable since ‘Ghandi’, so, sorry Sir. And all the rest are just filling gaps here and there.
There is one though, the talented one that gets better and better every time and still has his name out of the marquee; Mark Ruffalo proved once that he can sustain a movie without having the lead role (he did that in Fincher’s ‘Zodiac’) and here he does it again. Eat your heart out Bill Paxton!

Now whether you should or shouldn’t watch this movie it’s as usual entirely up to you. It is a little predictable when it would have been better it wasn’t, the acting is poor but it looks gorgeous. I’ll say that it might work of you want to see it on DVD, and maybe more than once, because as you watch it over and over you start to see things you missed the first time and now they make all the sense in the world and in this twisted game.
Like I said before, a tailor can’t make a tux from sheets, but maybe he can give you some damn good shirts and summer trousers.
I like Scorsese better when he comes sans Di Caprio.

Now for the other one. There is something unexplainable about post-apocalyptic landscapes that I find extremely alluring. Every time I see a movie with this premise I watch in awe and I’m amazed by the sheer beauty of total desolation and utter destruction. What doctor? I’ll be right wit’cha.
I mean, I as an artist believe that it takes twice the effort to create destruction than it takes to create something nice and perfect, but that's just me.

Earlier this year (or close to the end of last) we had two movies set in the same post-apocalyptic future; on one hand we had ‘The Road’ and on the other ‘The book of Eli’. Now, as ‘The Road’ was a sort of ‘reaction’ film ‘The book of Eli’ is an ‘action’ one. Why so?
In the first one the characters did everything they did when they were reacting to what was happening around them, in the second one they take action as a way to make things happen, now THAT’S a difference.

Also, this happens to be an Action flick, with arms, knives and nine ways to blow up stuff ‘till Sunday. The other thing about this movie that I liked is that it ALSO has a story.

Denzel Washington is a man with a mission in more than one way. He is carrying a book, a copy of the last bible in existence (if you couldn’t guess it, then it is a spoiler) trying to take it to the west, where the little voices he hears in his head tell him to go. He comes across a little town run by Gary Oldman, who happens to be on the hunt for a certain book, heh heh, wink, wink.
Now, Mr. Oldman says; I want that book,
Mr. Washington says: well, you can’t have it.

And there you have the conflict. It is very clear that when the world comes to and end the answer is to walk, to walk a lot and as Mr. Walker would say it, keep walking. So Eli (Denzel) does just that. I the way he finds other people, because let’s face it, what would it be of a post-apocalyptic future without people trying to eat each other?
Let me tell you, when the end comes the vegetarians and vegans are gonna regret being the way they are.

Anyway he travels around carrying this book and killing in order to protect it, we see how he eats, lives, moves and ‘showers’ in these desperate times. Somehow he has an ipod, a generation one or two that still works (with the longest battery life in human history) and a little device he uses to charge it (you don’t wanna walk forever without music) and that drives him into the aforementioned town ruled by Carnegie (Olman).

What is the thing that you can’t get easily and the more you have the more you want?
If you said sex, shame on you!! If you said Power, bingo. Oldman is looking for this particular book, a book that gives you the power to make all the ignorant people that survived the last 30+ years do your biddings without asking, the kind of book with the power to transform a group of ignorants into a flock of believers, you catch my drift?

So they exchange wits and gun shots all thought the movie. The directors are the Hughes brothers (Albert and Allen), the same ones that raped and mutilated ‘From Hell’ back in 2001, but this time they seem to have learned something and they use it in this movie. There is a clear influence from the “Michael-Bay-school-of-blowing-stuff-up-adorning-it-with-fancy-camera-moves” but there is also a lot of road movie, pardon me, good road movie. They made such an improvement on their work that today they are making the kind of action movie that I’m sure people like Paul W.S. Anderson or Roland Emmerich would like to do themselves (If they had any trace of talent).

The religious tone of the movie is not that bad, at least not as bad as to make me want to ignore it, and although it is ‘preachy’ it never gets to the point of getting annoying.

All in all it’s fun to watch, and it also has a message, not necessarily the one you might think at first but still a valid one. In fact I think that depending from what standpoint you decide to see it it might actually have more than one. I choose to take this one: “there is hope even when there isn’t”
Totally worth having it on DVD, not a masterpiece but at least entertaining, and with a lot more acting on it that ‘Shutter Island’.

Here I leave you with my favorite line of the whole movie. It comes from an exchange between Carnegie and his right hand man, Redridge:

Carnegie: To his men "Search for them"
Redridge: For a fucking book?

Up next: Robin Hood by Ridley Scott (I hope)

Monday, May 24, 2010

New foray into "publishing"

Hello all, Today I'm here to talk to you about Hadron Colliderscope, a new venture created by a very good friend of mine, mister Michael Bramley. Here he creates a space dedicated to comics and the people who not only loves them but also loves making them. In here you will see a new post of a short story every week made by different people all the time. Mike and his evil #2 (a.k.a. Jason Le Beau) take the time to review people's work and based on their talent or dexterity mix them in a very incestuous way to make something good for you to read. Seriously though, this is a very dear project for me and I can say that I'm very flatered to be involved in it. Just take a look and keep coming back, because like I always say...

...there's more to come.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Short Sketchbook

Hello! I made it past the 50th post, I'm amazed!
This time around I don't have much to say, so I will limit myself to show you some pictures. I love sketches, I think that they are a window to the real talent of an artist. For us they are like the 'behind the scenes', that's where we get to see the nuts and bolts of the profession. As I'm starting work on issue 4 of HTSWR I leave you with this little tour behind the courtains.

This particular time I'm broken as broken can be, but I keep going at it. You can chek this new site where you will have some artwork I've been doing for them, just follow the link and enjoy my work as much as all the rest.
We are all working around the clock to give you the best we can.

More to come.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Movie Talk #4

small review by yours trully.

So I got to see Iron man 2 and in spite of what other critics might say, I give it two big thumbs up. Let’s do something really easy here and stipulate that this is not the first Iron man. That’s obvious you might say, well, for some people it’s not.

The first one was fun and entertaining and what not, so far all I’ve read about it it’s that it’s not like the first one. Well, DUH! That’s the first mistake a lot of critics do, they compare it right away with the previous one because it requires less thinking…way to go!!!

This one is very good on its own feet, I think that Jon Favreau (the director) is doing on hell of a job on this franchise, and leading up to ‘The Avengers’. Looks like it will be HIM the one directing it, so I’ll say: kudos to you Jon, kudos.

There are a million things for the fan in this one, more so that in the first one, they are too many to enumerate without spoiling the movie, but here’s one you can see in the trailer; remember back in the day when Tony traveled with the suit in a briefcase? Well, that’s in the movie, updated to today standards of course, but it’s there. What it’s not there specifically but you can feel it in spirit it’s the whole thing from “Demon in a bottle”, with Stark falling into a down ward spiral of self destruction because he becomes a drunk, something like that happens here and just like it happened in the comics it leads to the creation of War-Machine.

There is one thing I really want to rescue from here, there is a sequence with Iron man, nick Fury and the Black Widow (never referred to as such) in a donut store that transported me into the future and gave me a tease of what the Avengers will look like. I tell you this right now, the Marvel universe being more fantastic and unrealistic that the DC one works better on film than anything else around, when the Avengers movie hits the ground it’s gonna remove Avatar from the top spot in the history of box office, mark my words.

It’s pointless to talk about what the movie its about, they all do it, what we should talk about it’s about how well done it is, how entertaining it is and what an excellent follow up it is to the first one. I think that if you are doing movies about/adapted from comics, these two should be a sort of template for directors to follow, because dear old Jon here it’s taking something old and making it fresh and new, entertaining and exhilarating to new viewers and old fans of good ol’ shell head.

Long story short, go see it, enjoy it and stay all the way till the credits end, if you do there will be a little something for you.

Note: as I played the movie in the theater I work it was dubbed in Spanish, and let me tell you this, you can perceive that the movie its good, but missing the voices of the actual actors makes you loose part of their performance. In that aspect, the movie sucked big time, the work on the voices of the Spanish actors it’s lame to say the least. Wherever you are, whatever language you speak, do the effort and go see it in English. Right now for me the movie it’s a solid 7, I’m sure that when I watch it in English it will bump it up to at least an 8.5 or 9. ‘Nuff said.

Here is a little token of my affection, the first official picture released from the THOR movie and the poster of Captain America, in order the next two Marvel movies before we get to see all of them together in the same frame in 'THE AVENGERS'

Chris Hemsworth as THOR, the god of thunder

and Chris Evans as Captain America, the first Avenger.