Road to Expertise
This week, I only put in 6 hours of filmmaking. But for some reason, they seemed more productive than last week's. This coming week brings a couple shoots, so hopefully I'll put in lots of hours. Again, these 6 hours were spent editing, writing, and scouting locations. Hours to go: 9,972
I also have to introduce some new rules to the films watched section, to deal with shorts. Shorts are valuable to watch, but I can't watch a five minute short and call it a whole movie for my quest. Doesn't feel right. So here's how shorts can count into the list:
- As an anthology that has some thematic connection from piece to piece, equal to or longer than 45 minutes in length.
- An anthology that lasts between 30 and 45 minutes and I watch it twice, or an anthology shorter than half an hour which I watch three times.
- A single short that I watch twice if it's longer than half an hour, or three times if it's shorter.
- Music videos do not count, unless in an anthology that's longer than half an hour. They really shouldn't count, period.
Now that I've laid that out there, I watched six films this week. This included a trip back to the birth of film itself:
- Toy Story 3--2010, Lee Unkrich (screenplay by Michael Arndt)...Excellent. Emotionally gut-wrenching and powerful in a religious, apocalyptic kind of way. This took an already-great franchise and launched it to a sublime level. Hands down the best film of the year so far. Also, they showed an awesome short before it, Day and Night. I wish they showed more shorts before feature films, even for R rated movies. We should make that standard procedure at theaters.
- Bottle Rocket--1996, Wes Anderson...I see the deadpan was there from the beginning with this guy, and clearly the small man doing pretend big things theme. The look wasn't as postcard/theater as his next films, I'm thinking because of budget constraints. But the cinematography still looked good. Also, I liked the use of jump cuts in the middle of unified conversations (as in, the dialogue is continuous but the scenes are not). Very efficient and fun storytelling. I've noticed that once Anderson sets up his conventions for a film, he's very disciplined with their use, which is cool.
- Breathless--1962, Jean-Luc Godard...It's kind of fitting that I saw these last two films one after the other, because Breathless aparently introduced the jump-cut altogether. This was my first Godard film, and I hear it's his most experimental, but yet it since it's a crime-noir it doesn't feel alienating. I liked this description from NewWaveFilm.com: "while the overall effect indeed is reflexive (perhaps the first post-modern film!), there’s no escaping the dramatic swell. Perhaps that’s why the film is still watched - it works as both an art film and a classic thriller." My one issue is that Godard really does beat the jump-cut to death at times, to the point where it seemed sloppy and lazy.
- Escobar's Own Goal [TV documentary from Channel 4 (UK)'s Gangsters]--1998, Michael Hewitt... Bumped into this on YouTube while looking for clips on Andres Escobar. I enjoyed it, it's informative, but it's nothing to write home about.
- A self-curated anthology of the first films EVER created: Workers Leaving the Factory--1895, Louis Lumiere; A Trip to the Moon--1902, Georges Melies; Fred Ott's Sneeze--1894, William K.L. Dickson (Edison Company); May Irwin Kiss--1896, William Heise (Edison Company; Life of an American Fireman--1903, Edwin S. Porter (Edison Company); The Great Train Robbery--1903, Edwin S. Porter (Edison Company); Rescued by Rover--1905, Cecil Hepworth (screenplay Margaret Hepworth)...It's mind-blowing that people didn't really think to use close-ups for the first 15 or so years of film. Also, I love that the stories are really simple. Rescued by Rover: Baby gets taken by a beggar lady, the baby's family dog finds it, tells the dad, the dad retrieves baby without much resistance from the beggar. Done. Instant hit. Rover is the first celebrity dog. Also, The Great Train Robbery ends with a guy shooting straight at the camera, which Scorcese and Joe Pesci paid tribute to in Goodfellas. So that's always awesome. Finally, Georges Melies created special effects 108 years ago that I wouldn't even begin to know how to do today.
- Double Feature of D.W. Griffith shorts: The Lonedale Operator--1911; The Musketeers of Pig Alley--1912. Lonedale was ok (first use of a close-up, I believe), but Musketeers instantly vaulted Griffith to my top 10 greatest filmmakers of all-time list, brazen racism aside. The guy basically kickstarted the gangster film genre, and in 17 minutes laid out a blueprint that's pretty much followed to this day by all crime films. Also, it's the first time in these shorts that I see any character depth, character contradictions, and subtext. Excellent film.
Go Hard Films
Got a new (paid!) project for a commercial that's very exciting, but I'm not sure how much freedom I have to talk about it on the internet. Sorry! The stockyard series is flowing along still. Summer makes everything look that much better in Chicago.
The intelligent blockbuster isn't dead, so quit your bitching
It's been an active week in the news in the area of copyrights and net neutrality (which is being attacked by corporations and government alike). But there'll be time to discuss that. For now, read this interesting article from IFC films on how high-quality blockbuster movies are still alive and well. I know sometimes it doesn't seem that way, but it's true. Look at Toy Story. It's in the top ten highest grossing franchises of all time, and it's also excellent art.