Posts Tagged ‘Heath Ledger’

Best Films of 2009

February 9, 2010

I realize how late this is, and I apologize.  But with the Academy Award noms in full swing I am finally being forced to lay decree to the year of 2009.  To tell the truth, it has taken me AT LEAST this long to catch up on most of the material in 2009 (and I’m still quite behind).  While I was initially going to give in to the popular kids and stack-rank, I decided that this year had too many excellent selections from extremely broad-ranging categories.  So, I decided to list the best picks that fit together and then list my number 1 and 2 favorite movies of 2009.  Yay for experimenting with narrative!  This list is of my absolute favorite flicks of the last year, complete with basic defenses of each selection. In the year that ended up being dominated by a record-breaking work of spectacle over ten years in the making, I seek to highlight some of the very positive advances in story that may have been overshadowed, both at the box office and overall.  So, without further ado…

_In the Realm of Innovative Story and Character:

Adventureland, (500) Days of Summer, Up in the Air,

Adventureland holds a special place in my heart.  While Mottola’s story is nothing revolutionary by any means, the overall style of the narrative itself along with the sincerity and charm that he managed to bring to the  characters all combined to create an encapsulating story about love and post-grad fears.  The acting is quite spot-on with Kristen Stewart, Jesse Eisenberg, Ryan Reynolds, and Martin Starr playing post-teen angst and confusion with actual commitment and conviction.  Adventureland really plays like what a John Hughe’s movie would exist as in the decade of “returning to naturalism.”  While Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, and Matt Bush play more slap-stick roles in an effort to keep the movie buoyed between overwhelming depression and light comedy, the characters are overall so well-written and played so close to life by the actors that sympathy can be garnered for any, one character at any given time.  Despite infidelity, lying, false bravado, and apathetic sexual encounters, every character is so completely engrossing and thoughtful that the audience identifies with them and keeps from objectifying them.  An early win in the year for character and story, Adventureland did poorly at the box office and failed to garner an abundance of critical praise.  While skimmed over for its simplistic plot whimsical style, the piece is a great character study in the lives of young, idealistic people at a cross-roads in their lives.

Marc Webb’s first feature, (500) Days of Summer, is an awesome example of how narrative can be the crux of the story.  And while that may seem like an obvious statement, the point I’m trying to make is that Summer’s story is best told through the seemingly random sequence of narrative segments that we view to discover the rise and fall of the story’s main relationship.  I don’t want to give anything away, but everything about Summer is perfect.  The characters are completely attainable and relatable while still keeping enough of an essence of individuality to keep you guessing as to how the story will pan out.  Summer also takes full advantage of surrealist storytelling to make a common romantic rendezvous into something that both genders thoroughly enjoy.  Elements of the surreal keep most detractors of the genre ensconsed while the heart of the affair provides more than enough drama and romance for the die-hard followers of the style.  Summer may be, in effect, the first truly unisex romantic comedy.

Initially, when I was stack-ranking this list, I had included Up in the Air as the number 3 film of 2009.  Reitman constantly impressed me with a gorgeous story and an intriguing message that added the perfect piece of punctuation to the end. Clooney’s performance was dazzling, as well, as he carried the story on his back and managed to upend the “anti-hero” archetype by story’s end. As it is, Reitman ends up displacing all archetypes in Up in the Air, opting instead for turbulent characters that accomplish more in 109 minutes than most characters do in entire television seasons.  Expertly written and expertly directed, Up in the Air helped me wash the taste of Avatar out of my mouth as they were released around the same time.

_In the Realm of Imaginative Storytelling and Experimenting with Narrative:

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Where the Wild Things Are, and Moon,

Let me preface this entry by stating two things, outright.  Number one, I have a GREAT affinity for Terry Gilliam’s style and vision.  And number two, like every Gilliam picture, The Imaginarium has some MAJOR flaws.  That being said, the story is FABULOUS.  Gilliam has managed to weave another fantastical fairy tale together involving some of the greatest actors of our generation.  Despite a huge crisis in the way of Gilliam’s lead, Heath Ledger, passing away in the midst of filming, Gilliam had to forge ahead and finish his work with some revisions to the script and the entire story, as a whole.  The characters are magical, the story is quite fun and imaginative, and, overall, Gilliam manages to remind us what CGI should be regulated to for the time being: Images and moments that we all understand to be completely surreal, anti-realistic, nightmarish, or absurd in nature.  Not to recreate life.  While the future will eventually bring about this technology, we just don’t have it yet.  AND THAT GOES FOR YOU, TOO, CAMERON!  Er…*ahem*…Sorry, allow me to get down from my soapbox…Anyway, this breed of absurdist fantasy combined with a stellar cast of actors and a director who can pull it off, really hit the mark that 2009 was otherwise devoid of.  While the third act does COMPLETELY fall apart and actually ends up being quite dreadful, the rest of the movie made me smile so wide it actually made up for it.  Oh, and did I mention that Tom Waits is in it?

There’s nothing that I can say in praising Where the Wild Things Are that hasn’t already been said.  Jonze characterizes childhood as expertly as possible with what is, in my humble opinion, the most fitting narrative form, absurdism.  Jonze’s use of language and plot structure don’t matter nearly as much in Wild Things as the raw emotional tone of the film matters.  I have often read that the film’s emotional core drives the narrative and acts as the crux of the film, rather than any concrete plot structure or story arc.  And I couldn’t agree more.  Along those lines, I would love to see a subset of cinema better explore this exercise, as it seemed to truly work for almost all audiences and I would love to see this largely unutilized technique become a more prevalant aspect of the industry.  Just think everyone!  Wouldn’t it be great if all films endeavored for an overarching catharsis!?!

Moon was another film that was largely overlooked last year but that deserved much more attention.  Again, there is much in this movie that I DO NOT want to give away, so I will merely say that the flick’s driving force is its adherence to the importance of its tone, above all else.  Like Wild Things, Moon’s emphasis is on the tone that it establishes with its audience early on and its experimenting with its tonal shift.  While Moon’s plot is quite exciting and original, it still is not as unique as the movies overall feel and it’s emotional bearings that it constantly shifts, forcing its audience to re-assess and re-evaluate what has occurred.

_In the Realm of “Just Plain Fun” Films That Kept Me Captivated While Adhering to an Excellent Structure

Zombieland, Star Trek, District 9, Taken, and Sherlock Holmes

An uncharacteristic amount of films came out in 2009 that didn’t exactly leave me awe-struck from a technical standpoint.  Nor did they inflect any sort of reverential admiration in the way they were written or produced.  While these films weren’t exactly revolutionary in any premiere way, however, they did still manage to evoke a visceral infatuation from me that the rest of 2009 failed to:  In other words, these films were a TON of fun.  Zombieland was a simply awesome romp following Woody Harrellson at the top of his game acting like a bad-ass tutor to the likes of Jesse Eisenberg as Eisenberg experiences his coming-of-age during a zombie apocalypse.  While fairly color-by-numbers the very criticism that detractors can take against Zombieland is the main reason I adored it.  Though you know every move that’s going to be made before they make it, the characters are so enduring that you desperately WANT to see these characters make those said choices.  Nothing shocking appears in this story and that’s exactly the way I wanted it. 

Taken was much the same way.  While extremely over-the-top and ridiculous at points, Taken fully understands the realm its playing in and unapologetically pushes it forward.  Liam Neeson spends the entirety of the movie kicking ass and taking names and the movie brilliantly succeeds because of it. 

Sherlock Holmes was fairly campy (adding martial arts to nineteenth century England usually incurs the wrath of the word “campy”)  but it truly was fun to see Downey battle it out with English degenerates while matching wits and solving capers.  Honestly never thought I’d say that.

District 9 actually WAS revolutionary, but only in the way it accomplished everything it set out to, and more, with a meager budget.  While still a simple sci-fi statement on imperialism, District 9 produced results MUCH MORE efficiently and creatively than James Cameron came close to…

And, of course, Star Trek.  Everyone’s favorite and the film that is receiving the most sympathy for being snubbed at the Oscar nominations.  An incredible reboot of the franchise with a fantastic Chris Pine helming the endeavor, Star Trek was EVERYTHING I wanted out of the film, a simple-yet-exhilirating and fun ride.

_Most Underrated Movie of 2009

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs along with Where the Wild Things Are proved that all you need are a handful of sentences and some childlike imagination to take an audiance on a wonderful adventure through storytelling.  The film was EXTREMELY loosely based on the children’s book in that food did, in fact, fall from the sky in both productions.  Going into Meatballs I was extremely skeptical, as I have qualms about rendering stories from pre-existing materials, especially when those materials are darling of children’s literature.  Meatballs quickly shut me up, however, with its lovely array of characters that proved to be both charming AND complex.  Each character had its own arc and structure and it truly reflected the care that the writers put into the film.  Meatballs easily made its money back, but did so gradually, and without much more than a peep from critics.  It deserves to sit as a distant second, but still tangential addition to the likes of Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are as proof that adaptations can take both successfully take artistic liscense, as well as actually produce entertaining cinema.

2. Up


Pixar rarely fails to awe, and Up is no exception. In addition to the small task of producing one of the best movies I’ve ever seen, Pixar managed to market this endeavor without giving away ANY crucial plot turns, WHATSOEVER.  Short of the “elderly citizen reluctantly takes kid on adventure in flying house” clips that we were shown, nothing that is central to the plot can be surmised from the entire advertising campaign. And the end result was a movie choc-ful of surprises.  Within the first 20 minutes of the movie I was welling up with tears, and by the end credits, my eyes were bleary again.  Ed Asner delivers a wonderful starring performance and proves that a narrative revolving around a senior citizen, a boy scout, and a flying house can captivate audiences better than any blockbuster revolving around giant, killer robots.

1. Away We Go


Completely underrated and unbelievably snubbed by the academy, critics, and end-of-the-year-list-makers alike, Sam Mendes’ latest directorial treat was absolutely wonderful in every cinematic aspect.  John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph both brighten up the screen in their melancholy world.  Conquering the mid-mid-life crisis, Kransinski and Rudolph’s characters both carry Mendes’ film as it explores our position in this life and how we, as people, come to find our meaning.  There is so much truth in this movie that it made me complete reassess Rudolph and Kransinski as actors.  After only seeing them in comedies on TV, it was so refreshing to come away from a film with MORE respect for actors,rather than less.  And while the acting is what fully sold me, the story, pacing, and overall style of the film are impeccable, as well.

Now, before anyone starts screaming about how many wunderbar flicks I left out, remember, these are my PERSONAL tastes.  It’s is SO hard to delineate what makes one film better than another.  I loved Zombieland, of course, but I feel Mottola hit more cinematic buttons with Adventureland, and besides, they are two COMPLETELY different films.  To be fair, however, I’m going to keep a tab of films that, as of January 13th 2010, I have not seen and therefore could not qualify in my list, however, I do recognize that they were regarded as “good.”

ANNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNND the embarassingly long laundry list of flicks that I have yet to see:

Movies I Have Not Seen So I Cannot NOT List Them:
_The Princess and the Frog
_Invictus
_A Single Man
_A Serious Man
_Brothers
_The Bunny and the Bull
_The Road
_Fantastic Mr. Fox
_The Box
_The Men Who Stare at Goats
_Precious
_A Christmas Carol
_An Education
_The Hurt Locker
_Big Fan
_The Reader

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The Key of Awesome

December 9, 2009

The Internet is quickly becoming a factory for better and better content. I found this collection of comics where I find everything these days, /Film. The Key of Awesome is a relatively new web show that produces songs a la The Lonely Island.  Primarily comprised of singular actor Mark Douglas, all the episodes are RIDICULOUSLY well-put together with quite sinsere production value (meaning Chromakey and some unique editing choices). Hosted under the Barely Political channel, which is also home to Auto-Tune the News and Obama Girl, the songs are all genuinely FAMAZING and the bar for quality has already been set pretty high. I’ve listed my two favorites below. One questions the few, yet fairly glaring inequities of The Dark Knight’s script, while the other is a send-up to Lady Gaga’s odd performance technique.  The Dark Knight production features wonderful iterations of Michael Caine’s Alfred, Christian Bale’s Batman, and Heath Ledger’s Joker, all interacting in the most marvelous meta-mash-up I may have ever seen. I LOVE IT. I swear, I might as well just start a “Batman” category while I’m at it.

Trailer for Batman 3

November 24, 2009

Truly Wonderful!  Someone has created a mash-up fan-trailer for the next Batman movie.  It features Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Johnny Depp as The Penguin and The Joker, respectively.  Both actors have been tethered to rumors that they are attached to the newest project despite the fact that Nolan himself hasn’t even publically announced his involvement.  Regardless, this trailer is SO good (I still believe there is an art to trailer-makin’) and it makes me PRAY that Nolan goes ahead with a Depp/Hoffman pairing.  It will take these two together to try and accomplish what Ledger and Eckhart pulled off.  So, without further ado, my Bat-dream movie!

P.S.  Also, if you checked out the previous post on Nick’s Commercials and realized that all of the Youtube links were unembeddable, I apologize, I found out too late.  You can still use the links above them or just click the links to their Youtube pages.

P.P.S. Bears With Sparklers 🙂

The Top 5 Hardest Working Actors in Show Business

November 10, 2009

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It’s easy to mock celebrities, actors in particular, who stress to the public how difficult and important their lives are and how much fame belabors those facts. Especially when we see them living such pampered and extravagant lives. I’m here to discuss five men in Hollywood who actually DO live rather industrious existanses and yet fail to ever complain about them. In fact, most are as hard-working as they are due to their love for what they do, and wouldn’t have it any other way. Now, check all your false pretenses at the door, this list takes NO monetary statistics into account to tabulate this list. I’m simply conducting an opinionated grouping of five actors who I feel have taken on more than most men can handle in the show biz…biz, and I’m compiling this list in relation to this point in time, Autumn of 2009. Yes, Seth Rogen has appeared in MULTITUDES of films over the last five years, but after Funny People and Observe and Report of this year, the guy has been laying pretty low. This list tabulates the mainstreamers who have been racking up leading role credits in muliple expansive flicks. So, without further ado…

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5. Johnny Depp

To say that I respect this man would be an intense understatement. His acting prowess is some of the best of our time, so it makes me EXTREMELY happy to see him inundated with work. If you’ve been living under the sea (visions of The Little Mermaid just popped into my head. Walt Disney prevails) for the past year then you probably haven’t heard of Depp’s numerous forays into film he has recently undertaken. Public Enemies was the only work he appeared in that was released in ’09, however, he has been fast at work on massive cinematic staples of the 2010 movie-going season that will almost-assuredly dominate the market. The first being Tim Burton’s reiteration of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Depp plays The Mad Hatter in Burton’s CGI-laden could-be-wonderful-could-be-terrible still up-in-the-air retelling of the classic story. Headlining next to Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Matt Lucas, and Alan Rickman, the film has all the makings of a complete cinematic win, the screenshots and trailers, however, leave doubt in my mind, as CGI-laden, as I said before, is putting it nicely. Time will tell. Depp also was involved in Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, filling one of the three roles created after lead actor Heath Ledger’s passing. Depp, along with Colin Farrell and Jude Law, will stand in for Ledger as alternate versions of Ledger’s character, to help the stroy along despite the events that took place prior to the film’s completion. The next chapter in the Hunter S. Thompson chronicles, The Rum Diary, is also in post, in which Depp will reprise his role as the gonzo-journalist.
In addition to these films that Depp has finished, the newest film in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is slated for a 2011 release date and is currently in the earliest stages of pre-production. Sin City 3, which Depp has been rumored to be involved with basically from its inception, is also geared up for a 2012 release (funny considering Sin City 2 is still stuck in developmental hell).
And here’s the kicker. IMDB lists Depp as in development with FOURTEEN new titles, as well. Among them, a Dali biopic and The Lone Ranger. Wow, simply wow. While these developmental deals can fall through at any time, they can also usually indicate desire and co-involvement between the parties of the actors and the producers. It will be interesting to see where Depp’s career goes looking towards these titles.

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4. Brad Pitt

Here’s another guy with developmental deals in spades. The ‘ole rusty, trusty IMDB has Pitt pegged with sixteen deals, the most I could find. In addition to being attached to The sequel to Downey Jrs Sherlock Holmes vehicle, Pitt is also listed with World War Z and a Steve McQueen biopic. Goo.
Pitt tore up the screen in Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds this summer, and has currently been attached to the fledgling project Moneyball, which is listed as being in the earliest stages of production, despite the fact that it has no director. Pitt is further attached to The Tree of Life and The Lost City of Z, as well as providing a voice to the upcoming animated flick Oobermind. He’s also rumored to be apart of 2012’s upcoming The Odyssey and The Sparrow.

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3. George Clooney

The former Sexiest Man in America has never slowed down since his rocket-propelled rise to fame in the mid-to-late 90’s as well. Clooney most recently has released The Men Who Stare at Ghosts, a loosely based adaptation of the book of the same name which regards a 1970’s to 1980’s military experiment that documented telepathic phenomena. In addition to this recent film, though, Clooney finished up providing voice work for the titular role in Wes Anderson’s upcoming The Fantastic Mr. Fox, alongside Bill Murray, Meryl Streep, and Jason Schwartzman, as well as polishing off his role in the Jason Reitman-helmed Up in the Air, which is also currently in post. These are merely his acting credits for 2009, though, the man also executive produced the Matt Damon vehicle The Informant! and Playground, a movie I honestly couldn’t find too much on. As far as his queue list goes, IMDB has him cited with ten in-development deals.

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2. Jim Carrey

Jim Carrey is a man of many faces. The actor became famous for his rubber-faced persona that landed him a slew of comedic work in the mid-to-late 90’s and a career launching pad that ANY actor would be proud of. By the turn of the century, however, Carrey was becoming far more versatile as an actor. Already dabbling in the dramatic with The Truman Show, Liar Liar,, and the INCREDAMAZING Andy Kaufman biopic, Man on the Moon. Carrey then went on to tackle the serious side of life full-tilt in Charlie Kaufman’s magnificent Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, opposite Kate Winslet, The Majestic, and the box office blunder The Number 23. He has returned to comedy in recent years, however, and, as always, has fully immersed himself in his roles. Recently released is the Zemeckis-penned adaptation of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in which Carrey provided the movements and voices to Scrooge at all ages of life AND the three spirits that visit him! Encompassing multiple accents, multiple ages of life, and multiple SPIRITUAL BEINGS, Carrey tackled the project head-on while keeping busy with multiple other projects, such as I Love You, Philip Morris, the tale of an escaped homosexual convict who goes on a quest to find his lover that was released from prison before he was. The film has been receiving stellar reviews and co-stars Ewan McGregor opposite Carrey in this bold and self-titled dark comedy. All the while that these two flicks have been in post, Carrey has both been bulking up and studying up to play Curly Howard in the upcoming Three Stooges revamp with Paul Giamatti and possibly Benecio Del Toro. This was all considered fact for the longest time and was referenced multiple times by Carrey’s apparent weight gain in the tabloids and public citings, but, as of late, Carrey has been described as withdrawing from the project. It doesn’t negate the fact that the man was taking on multiple roles immediately after finishing his previously mentioned two. Further, IMBD.com has Carrey listed in FOUR different upcoming development deals. Which may seem normal for a star of his status, but when you consider the work load he will indefinitely take on with these upcoming roles, it makes a profound statement on his desire to never be bored.
In addition to his films and the launch of a fully-functioning personal website that has actually made the rounds and received a warm/geeky reception from the film/internet blogosphere, Carrey and his wife Jenny McCarthy have consistantly maintained their involvement in the charity Generation Rescue, which strives to find alternative ways to treat autism in children. Not bad for a man who was talking with his butt a little over 10 years ago.

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1. Nicolas Cage

Go ahead and laugh (you’ve earned it) but the man has yet to produce a dull movie (I said ‘dull’ not ‘bad’) and his work output is something for ANY actor to admire, regardless of how badly he phones roles in. Before I continue, most of you know, but for those who don’t, everything I joke about Nicolas Cage comes from a place of sincere reverance. Yes, the man takes part in AWFUL movies (which, given his current economic situation could just be to keep the lights on) but in each film he’s in he is always FULLY committed to the story being told. And I’m sorry, but I’d rather watch Cage run around in a Bear suit any day FULLY EMBRACING THE ROLE than see Tom Hanks win ANOTHER Oscar for appearing in some adaptation of a story set in the 1940’s. ALL TANGENTS ASIDE, Cage has kept himself QUITE stacked as of late. In early 2009 the CGI-Fest known as G-Force dropped with Cage providing a voice as well as Cage’s vehicle Knowing, in which he played the lead. Throughout the remainder of the year he has worked on The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass, Season of the Witch, and Werner FOOKING Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. Did I mention the voice that he provided for Astro Boy? No? Well, lump that in there as well.
IMDB has him attached to 4 deals in development, one of which being (GET READY!!!) Ghost Rider 2! Which creators have said will distance itself from the original as a revamp, not a sequel. Yet, it still stars Cage as the lead. Oh, how I LOVE this man! It simply amazes me what Hollywood will greenlight.

And speaking of hard working, (and by hard-working, I mean shameless self-promotion!) visit my sketch troupe’s Youtube or Facebook and comment/subscribe/hate/love/befriend/never talk to us again/enjoy our attempts at making you laugh!

The Joker Blogs

November 8, 2009

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What started out as a simple, single-camera Youtube production has rapidly turned into my favorite series to follow…on any format. The Joker Blogs is a masterfully constructed web series put together by a group of film-savvy batfans COMPLETELY dedicated to the story that all us bat-nerds know and love. Starting up where The Dark Knight left off, this group has created a captivating series chronicaling the Joker’s time in Arkham. Having only glimpsed the main bat-character’s of The Joker, Jeremiah Arkham, Harleen Quinzel (who we still haven’t ACTUALLY ever seen on camera), and Scarecrow (for a single episode), the group has proven that they know how to create so much with so little. Twelve episodes deep and with multiple shorts that coincided with the holidays, The Joker Blogs is currently in the midst of the Joker’s escape from Arkham.

As I mentioned before, many episodes are straight-on shots of the Joker in a confessional/documentary-esque style. What began as Harleen Quinzel’s attempt to document one of her most alluring patients, has turned into a hobby of the Joker’s; he sees the Youtube phenomenon as a cheap, easy, and intriguing way to broadcast his endeavors to the masses at large. The series has almost no budget, however, and is putting together episodes in literally two to three takes at times, yet it still manages to be an amazing stylistic achievement. The simple fact is that talent abounds in this group. From the exquisite scripts to the beautifully constructed web site and marketing scheme, everything about The Joker Blogs screams quality. The MOST amazing and important part of the equation of awesome, however, are the performances. The portrayal of the Joker is spot-on to Ledger’s iteration, with even a few added touches of genius to the character that help it flourish on its own. From the laugh to the cracked voice to the constant quiver that made Ledger’s clearly-unstable machination of the character stand out, The Joker Blog’s interpretation has nailed every facet of the character in the world that they are painting. While it is a bit awkward to not know who is behind the character himself (I couldn’t find the actor’s name anywhere, if anyone else can provide the info, by all means comment or just message me) it’s simply wonderful to see an actor bold enough and talented enough to take the initiative and succeed in recrafting a role that many critics whined “could never be done successfully again.” For the longest time, I was afraid that after Ledger’s death the mainstream would never ever touch my favorite villain again. With efforts like this, however, I feel safe assuming that the most absurd villain of all time will not forever be equated with the late, great Ledger. It simply wouldn’t be fair. These shorts DEMAND to be watched, though. Become immersed (it doesn’t take too long to catch up, most episodes come in at under 3 minutes), and help these guys garner some recognition for the sensational work that they are putting out! Below are some direct links. I have posted the first ever vid, a link to their home site, a link to their Youtube page, and a link to a radio interview the filmmaker did explaining a bit of how the whole process was started. Enjoy!

TheJokerblogs.com

Youtube!

Radio Interview.

2009-2010 Must-See List

September 15, 2009

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After a lackluster-at-best summer movie season, we have all been (strangely) blessed with an incredible 09-10 season to look forward to.  I seriously haven’t been this jazzed about movie-going in a few years.  It seems that an amazing new debut is announced weekly at this point, which is really cutting in on my Hollywood bitching time.  Below, I’ve created a haphazard, make-shift rundown of what I am absolutely chomping at the bit to see in the upcoming season:

ROAD MCCARTHY FILM 2
The Road-Cormac McCarthy’s novel’s big screen adaptation was recently pushed back to Thanksgiving, frightening me all the more as I fear that studios are losing faith in its bankability.

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Sherlock Holmes-Robert. Downey. Jr.

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Alice in Wonderland-Tim Burton’s CGI-fest update of Lewis Carrol’s classic.  Though I am EXTREMELY skeptical, Depp as the Mad Hatter with Matt Lucas, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Michael Sheen, Crispin Glover, Stephen Fry, and Alan Rickman are keeping my cries of “CGI-FOUL!” at bay.

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Iron Man 2-I’m intrigued to see Downey fight Mickey Rourke.  Intrigued enough to include this entry on this list.  Past that, to be honest, I don’t see this film panning out much differently than its predecessor, but, as long as they deliver on some great Downey/Rourke headbashing, I’ll be content.

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The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus-This is, hands down, the crown jewel of this list.  Terry Gilliam’s fantasy epic starring the late Heath Ledger had to improvise with its script as Ledger passed away during filming.  So what is one of the most revered directors in Hollywood to do when he loses his lead actor?  Simple, he calls in Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Ferrell to replace him.  All in one movie.  Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Colin Ferrell, and Heath Ledger all play the same role.  I was trying to come up with a new word to describe this event, but I simply can’t.

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Zombieland-I’m not even a self-professed zombie-buff like many of my co-horts, but the trailers for this endeavor look too astounding to pass up.  Watching Woody Harrelson annihilate zombies while taking the less-than-menacing Jesse Eisenberg under his wing is all I wanted over the summer ’09 movie season.  Was that so much to ask?

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I Love You Philip Morris-Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor in a dark comedy about an inmate who breaks out of jail once his lover is released from the same prison.  I love Jim Carrey.  I love Ewan McGregor.  I love the premise.  I Love You, Philip Morris.  (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

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A Christmas Carol-Robert Zemeckis retells Dickens’ classic utilizing Jim Carrey as Scrooge and all three ghosts.  Need I say more?

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Fantastic Mr. Fox-Wes Anderson helms this Roald Dahl retelling with a cast the likes of Meryl Streep, George Clooney, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, and Owen Wilson.  CAN. NOT. WAIT.

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Inception-Christopher Nolan’s first at-bat (no pun intended) since The Dark Knight.  A sci-fi/thriller starring Leo DiCaprio.  How many good things can we combine into a single movie? 

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Youth in Revolt-Michael Cera adopts an alternate persona all in the hopes of wooing a love interest.  My description doesn’t do the title nearly as much justice as images of Cera with a faux mustache. 

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Bronson-Having been called A Clockwork Orange of our time, Bronson chronicles the true story of Charles Bronson, the prisoner, who attained superstar status from simply being an unruly inmate.

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(Untitled)-An art flick commenting on the absurdity of art flicks and art in general.  Seems to be everything Art School Confidential promised to be but failed to deliver on.

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Gentlemen Broncos-Jared Hess’ latest directing forray is a surreal fantasy about a down-on-their-luck sci-fi writer who steals a young boy’s manuscript and profits greatly.  I was sold upon reading “A surreal fantasy.”

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The Box-Richard Kelly (who I’m STILL giving credit for Donnie Darko) directs James Marsden and Cameron Diaz in a thriller about a married couple who discover an obscure box left on their doorstep.  Try to forget Southland Tales for just a minute and remember: James Marsden.

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World’s Greatest Dad-This could very well be the role that brings poignancy back to Robin Williams’ career.  Williams plays a failed poet father who finds his son dead due to auto-erotic asphyxiation.  To lull his son’s unfortunate fate, he writes a beautiful suicide note that gets absurd publicity and paints his son as a genius.  Williams then must decide whether to out himself as the genius or maintain his son’s newfound celebrity.  Did I mention that Bobcat Goldthwait is helming the project?

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The Vampire’s Assistant-All production stills simply do not do this flick justice, you HAVE to check out the trailer.  Otherwise it just looks like John C. Reilly attempting a recreation of Nic Cage’s The Magician’s Apprentice, and that isn’t even out yet!  This quasi fantasy-quasi comedy-quasi drama seems to be perfect for John C. Reilly who stars in the lead role. After pulling schlock duty at the Apatow-Factory for the last few years, it will be good to see him be able to stretch again and actually play with something with some meat to it.

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Where the Wild Things Are-Spike Jonze’s adaptation of everyone’s favorite children’s book looks amazing and I’m very curious to see how good/bad it pans out.

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9-Back to John C. Reilly!  This voice cast is amongst the best I have seen in years.  Christopher Plummer is a catch in any medium. 

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The Lovely Bones-The trailers all look AMAZING and have kept my appetite satiated for this neo-fantasy thriller involving a young girl slain before her time and her attempt to reach out from beyond the grave.

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Big Fan-Patton Oswalt has put down a show-stopping dramatic performance that has stunned and stupefied most critics with its un-abashedly powerful and sincere dramatic intent.  Oswalt steps out of the image he has been stereotyped with and fully explodes on the scene with a (hopefully) attention grabbing portrayal.

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Not Quite Hollywood-A documentary (which I am usually a sucker for) about the explosion of the Australian film market in the ’70’s.  Pure.  Genius.

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Kick-Ass-Michael Cera and Nick Cage star in Mark Miller’s adaptation of his own graphic novel in which an everyday kid takes on the mantel of the superhero.  Miller’s graphic novel has a die-hard, monstrous fan base while being a relatively new title.  Plus, Nic Cage.

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Cold Souls-Paul Giamatti plays himself in a Being John Malkovich sort of drama, in which Paul, a successful actor, takes part in a breakthrough soul-removal-procedure.

This entire effort seems fairly frivolous, because, while this is all I can think of now, as soon as I finish writing this article, fourteen more trailers will be released and will stupify me.  I’m FAR from complaining, however, as it has been years since I’ve been anywhere near this excited about anything Hollywood has done. Happy movie-going everyone!

Shameless self-promotion, everyone!
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This is How Addictions Start

April 27, 2009

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Ho-ho-Hoooooly crap. So while I am in no way, shape, or form a gamer (the only game I play is WWF No Mercy for the N64) these recent trailers for Batman: Arkham Asylum giving me a lot of second thoughts on the subject. This one is my favorite featuring the only woman I could ever truly settle down with, Harley Quinn. Voiced by the incomperable Arleen Sorkin. The fact of the matter is that the graphics look phenomenal, Paul Dini is helming the project, and beyond Sorkin, both Kevin Conroy (Bats from the 90’s cartoon) and Mark Hamill (THE quintessential Joker; eat your heart out, Ledger) have both signed on to play their respective roles.

Could you please give me a quick moment? Thanks.

WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We haven’t been graced with this team of AWESOME since the Batman Beyond movie (Yes, I am that much of a Bat-geek, AND PROUD OF IT!) But back to the topic at hand, the game looks amazing and I am SO elated to see Dini’s incarnation back in the mainstream with trailers like THIS to promote it. As I said earlier, this may be the game that gets me to pick up a controller again.

Let Me Explain Why Taken Didn’t Suck

April 14, 2009

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I recently saw Liam Neeson’s newest vehicle, Taken, and I must say I was quite TAKEN by it!  Muah haha ha hahahaha. 

Anyway, the movie truly did delight me as it delivered everything it promised and nothing that it did not.  The plot moved at 100 miles per hour and kept you on the edge of your seat, providing forwards the entire time to whet your appetite and keep you enthralled.  There were no stupid plot twists or awkward moments between Liam Neeson and his ex-wife.  It was simplistic.  Liam Neeson’s daughter has been kidnapped and he has a set time table in which he must rescue her.  Done.  End of Story.  Roll footage. 

And the best part about this clean-cut, bare bones plot is that it still delivers.  Without any ridiculous, unnerving plot twists, or ‘unique’, probing views into the minds of the characters to ‘see what makes them tick.’ In fact, without all these additional story elements, the movie delivers better

Lately, however, Hollywood has been dabbling in Hyper-realism.  With The Dark Knight, director Christopher Nolan took every possible element of the story and made sure to immerse it in the confines of our physical world, all along the way fleshing out the man behind the mask in terms of his psychological profile.  Which is fine, really, I love a good melodramatic concept or a convoluted plot piece to help spice up a thriller, and it clearly worked wonders for Nolan, twice in fact.

But lately things have just felt so…forced.  You see, the beauty of Hollywood is that it can deliver on things that we can only imagine in our wildest fantasies and imaginations.  That’s why it’s called escapism, because it allows us to break out of the doldrums of our monotonous, everyday existense.  While I am in no way, shape, or form panning realism, (I truly adore it and think that some of the most beautiful work on film has been captured from a realistic perspective) I do, however, miss the sensationalism that used to be commonplace at the cinema.  In the late 80’s and into the 90’s it seemed like imagination-stretching and hyper-fantasy were here to stay.  The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rocked full blown, Henson-esque exteriors and were treated as legitimate in their own world.  Who Framed Roger Rabbit? even incorporated actual cartoon characters into the nitty gritty known as ‘reality’ to the rest of us.  But just as things really seemed to be capable of fully delving into the world of the absurd, the new millineum hit, and realism began to steal the show.

All this to say, in a roundabout fashion, that Taken was exceptional because it didn’t concern itself with all the hang-ups of reality.  Liam Neeson has one objective, and that’s to save his daughter.  If that means conducting a man-hunt across national borders, outsmarting the entire French Government, and ramping SUV’s off of dirt mounds in construction quarries, then so be it.  In addition, Neeson’s character was completely unflinching.  A trait that, 15 years ago would have been a given, but today feels like a breath of fresh air.  Neeson’s consciense is gone; completely out the window.  He will stop at nothing and will spare no one to insure his daughter’s safety.  Even if that means assaulting innocent people.  (Wonderful scene, by the way.  And don’t worry, I haven’t given anything away.)

The point I’m trying to make, is that, as a whole, I’m getting sick of the ‘Take a surreal concept (i.e. SUPERHEROES), and disect every possible reality-based, humanistic theme we can’ approach.  Let Peter Parker be a snarky, quick-witted college kid, not a blubbering, slow, emotionless tool.  Let Eddie Brock be 6’6”, 280 pounds with rippling muscles and incredible photography skills.  Allow the Joker to be cartoonish and slap-happy-absurd, and yet still be dark (I will concede that, for this one, Ledger did do an INCREDIBLE job, but the point remains.).  Etc.  Etc.  You get the idea.  It may be an odd request, but lets bring the insanity back to Hollywood!

Christian Bale

April 6, 2009

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For those that don’t watch an exorbitant amount of E! entertainment, Christian Bale got into a bit of hot water recently on the set of Terminator: Salvation.  Audio was recorded of Bale berating the DP on set after he messed up one of Bale’s takes.  As much as it seems obvious that Bale is a spoiled, ungrateful little thespian, I still hold out some empathy for the man.  First and foremost, everyone close to Bale, including Michael Cain, concluded that it was completely unlike him to erupt in such a tirade.  Secondly, Bale is an outspoken purveyor of Stanislavski’s Method.  For those that don’t care, Method acting is when you dig deep inside yourself and try to replicate the feelings, thoughts, moods, and physical attributes of the character you are playing.  Before his death, Stanislavski recanted his own method as being too dangerous to the human psyche to actively practice.  Despite the warning of the creator himself, actors commonly utilize method acting when they want to better become a character that usually has very distinct attributes.  Method acting has given us Bale’s amazing performance in The Machinist, Ledger’s performance as The Joker, and constant other incredimazing performances over the last 80ish years of cinema.  While controversial, one cannot argue that it doesn’t produce results. 

ANYWAY…after all this occured, a DJ by the name of Revolucion took Bale’s rant and mixed it into this triple A-mazing song. 

A. It’s hilarious

B. It’s catchy as all can be.

C. I can’t stop listening to it.

Just thought I’d share.  The first video is the actual rant while the second video is the song that I cannot remove from my head.