A blog about movies and filmmaking.

Archive for the ‘media’ Category

A New Short Film & A Serious Change

In filmmaking, media on April 11, 2014 at 3:10 pm

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Hello, readers and long-neglected friends. It’s been a while, hasn’t it. I’ll be honest, what’s happened is I’ve fallen out of love with writing reviews of movies, and I haven’t had anything else to really blog about over the last months.

Well, that’s all changed with my new short film, Theoxenia! I’m blogging again, I’m running a Kickstarter campaign (here, if you please: http://kck.st/1lAahzH), and I’m revving to go. The only thing is, I’ve also decided to do that on my portfolio website, http://muthmedia.com – where I will be blogging from now on.  Read the rest of this entry »

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The Making of FREEBIE LIST

In filmmaking, media on February 7, 2011 at 4:24 pm

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. As you’ve no doubt noticed I haven’t gotten to watch (or at least write about them) too many movies over this time of putting together my first short. So, in lieu of any kind of review, I decided to write up a post on what this experience has been like – so far.

Journey below to find out how a first time filmmaker has lucked out, screwed the pooch, and gotten some photos along the way. Oh, and a last chance opportunity to not only help fund the movie, but be rewarded for it, with material goods. Read the rest of this entry »

A Question On What You Look For In Reviewers

In media on October 19, 2010 at 12:42 pm

In between some upcoming reviews I’ll be writing – and a couple of ideas for other “uncategorized” kind of posts – a question popped into my head while listening to some new movie podcasts and finding some new people who review movies. And it’s about, how do you judge whether you want to keep reading what a certain person says about movies? Read the rest of this entry »

Not Every Man Lives…Until He’s Seen BRAVEHEART On The Big Screen

In action, classics, drama, media on March 15, 2010 at 10:56 pm

There’s an old saying – or maybe Roger Ebert came up with it, I don’t know – that you’ve never really seen a movie until you’ve seen it on the big screen. Well, tonight I finally saw BRAVEHEART. You all know the movie I’m talking about; the medieval epic directed by and starring Mel Gibson, back when he was still cool – and fairly young. The story of William Wallace, and how he fought for the freedom of his country just because the woman he loved was murdered by an English lord.

Yeah, that one. Read the rest of this entry »

Shaking the can, movie lovers need your help.

In media on November 13, 2009 at 6:34 pm

I’ve written about the podcasts and websites I follow, love and adore a few times now. One of my absolute favorites is THE FILM TALK. It’s two men, one who lives in Tennessee, and the other lives in North Carolina. Both have spent a great portion of their lives eyeball-deep in movies. One a professed actual filmmaker (well, IMDB says he’s been an actor), and the other is an author and professorial in the study of spirituality and film.

Their conversations are full of wit, snark and usually tons of insight, and right now they’re kind of in a financial bind. Now, I’m no Sally Struthers, and this blog is no late-night infomercial, but if you go here, you’ll see that for only $3 a month, or some other kind of contribution, can help keep this site (read the blog, it can be nearly as good as the podcasts – not to mention the usually great conversations that happen in the comments), and the podcast running.

I see this as beneficial to everyone. They can keep doing the show, I can keep enjoying their show, and you can keep…doing what you’re doing. And if you don’t believe me, check out this review from iTunes:

“They both come from the viewpoint of being outside the conventional “American” point-of-view. Both have spent either quite a lot of time outside the US, or naturally not being from here and from that, they bring up a lot of interesting points, that not only sometimes go into pretentious territory (but never snobby), but mostly is just a fresh eye on how our society has absorbed the way we see violence and what movies are saying about our world.”

Ok, fine, I wrote that (and rereading it, not my finest hour). But, still, a great show, worthy of your support. Check them out.

Creative Screenwriting Podcast, an amazing journey into the minds of movie writers

In media on October 8, 2009 at 11:28 pm

I’ve written before about the podcasts that I enjoy listening to. Certain ones, like The Film Talk, /Filmcast, and The Scene Unseen Podcast are great shows, but I’ve found one that goes into the other side of the creative process. The Creative Screenwriting Magazine’s podcast, hosted by Jeff Goldsmith, Senior Editor of the actual magazine, and the podcast covers both larger projects (Q&A’s with THE DARK KNIGHT’s Jonathan Nolan, CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON writer Eric Roth) and smaller, more independent writers like 500 DAYS OF SUMMER’s Scott Neustadter and THE BROTHER’S BLOOM writer director Rian Johnson.

Jeff Goldsmith is a great interviewer, that seems to have a good base of questions he asks each writer, and really digs in on the specifics of each writer’s specific script. There’s been the episode with the writer of THE INFORMANT, Scott Z. Burns, where he had pages of an old version of the script where Matt Damon’s character had multiple voiceovers going at one time – that they read on the stage. There are questions answered (Brian Helgeland/THE TAKING OF PELHAM 123), alternate plot-lines revealed (Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick/ZOMBIELAND) and character design (Jody Hill/OBSERVE AND REPORT).

Check out the show, it’s available through iTunes, and I think that you’ll enjoy what you hear and probably learn some really neat information about some great, contemporary movies.

Creative Screenwriting Podcast

Completely and totally addicted…

In media on July 10, 2009 at 7:08 pm

Flickchart is a new obsession of mine. What it does is take movies – it kind of sets up that it’s meant to all be “the greats” but sort of following in my position, that anything can be someone’s favorite movie – and you have to choose between two movies, and the site will then create a list ranking your favorite movies. It seems like a simple enough time waster, but it really gets into your head when you have  to start choosing between movies that it’s just too much to try and choose your favorite.

It’s in beta right now, but you can sign up and start ranking. There’s a global ranking that you can see how your list compares with “the world’s” and has a place for commenting on the matchups. It’s fun and addicting, so I recommend going at your own (time’s) peril.

Special Features are there to be watched!

In Directors, Documentary, media on July 3, 2009 at 4:44 pm

I was just listening to a podcast that was reviewing the Israeli-animated documentary, WALTZ WITH BASHIR (that I just commented on); and in it these guys were clearly watching the movie via DVD – as I just did – and they’re sitting there assuming that the animation was done the same way as the Richard Linklater movies, WAKING LIFE and A SCANNER DARKLY. And my initial thought was, “in the supplemental material, it’s talked about, about a half-dozen times that that is not how this  movie was created.” So, these guys didn’t watch any of that stuff (there was a making of, a pre-vis to storyboard to final animation comparison, a Q/A with the director and a director’s commentary!)

This bugs me for a couple of reasons – not the least important of which is that I personally love the Special Features on DVD and will even pass over renting (or buying) a movie because it lacks certain things. (I’m a big fan of the audio commentaries.) Secondly though, has to do with studios drastically cutting back on these features, specifically because it’s extra money spent to produce extra content. And if people aren’t watching this stuff, then what’s the point of putting it on a disc? The biggest step – backwards, in my opinion – is in the recent announcement by certain studios, that they will be releasing different versions of movies to rental outlets, like Blockbuster and Netflix, sans any special features. With those only being available on the discs for sale  through retail stores (ie. Amazon and Walmart). Being that I’m more of a renter, than a buyer at the moment – for economic reasons – this really gets my goat as I was already conned out of not getting any special features with my seeing SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE and VALKYRIE, both having commentaries by their writers and/or directors, that I was very interested in hearing.

But, the biggest problem I see, especially with the abundance of DVD reviews of recently released movies, is that people are guessing at things that are just a click away to see the answers to their questions. You don’t go to a play, and then write a review saying that the lead character looked like a certain actor, when you’ve got the playbill sitting right on your lap (I know; who looks at those, either!).

But, if you look at certain DVD’s, you’ll see the amount of detail and effort that goes into making these supplemental materials – which, quite frankly in a number of filmmaker’s hands become full-length features unto themselves. Look at the releases of movies by people like David Fincher (both the Criterion edition of THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON and the Special Edition of ZODIAC, featured multi-hours of material of behind the scenes, and background material.) and Peter Jackson (All you have to do is look at the cases for the Extended Editions of the THE LORD OF THE RINGS movies, or his KING KONG: Ultimate Edition, to see that there’s a little more there than just some epic movies) to know that this isn’t just some extra crap thrown onto the discs, like those cheesy anti-piracy commercials. Maybe I’m the weird one in thinking that these people that make movies and so obviously love them enough to create all this extra stuff for fans and future-filmmakers, to swim through; that it’s special and really one of main reasons why the media of DVD’s overtook and killed the VHS tape so quickly.

So, watch the Special Features for movies. Not only will you get to see the passion that goes into these movies – from everyone working on them – but you might actually learn something that you can then write/discuss that perhaps most other people won’t know.

Recommended Special Features:

Audio Commentaries by Steven Soderbergh, Joel Schumacher, Martin Scorsese, Paul Greengrass and Francis Ford Coppola are all fun informative and show the thought that goes into their movies.

Supplemental/Behind The Scenes material: Anything, as mentioned by Peter Jackson, David Fincher and George Lucas (I’m thinking more THX-1138, than Star Wars, but those have their moments as well.) and movies that essentially are special features in their own right: LOST IN LA MANCHA – the documentary about Terry Gilliam’s failed endeavor to make the movie, THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE; and the look at the making of APOCALYPSE NOW, made by F.F. Coppola’s wife, Eleanor, HEARTS OF DARKNESS (released both on it’s own, and also in the “The Complete Dossier” edition of the movie, containing both the theatrical and REDUX version of the movie.).

In the battle of reporting news, we all lose

In drama, media on June 5, 2009 at 2:09 am

STATE OF PLAY, starring Russell Crowe, Rachel McAdams and Ben Affleck, is about journalism. Yes, there’s a corporate/government conspiracy and murder and whatnot, but the movie ultimately is about the press and today’s need for actual reporting and telling the people of the facts. There’s a lot of talk about how this movie is pro-print journalism and anti-online journalism/blogger. And I have to say, I don’t buy it. What I got from this movie was that both of these mediums need to start working hand in hand, not necessarily to save an industry; but, to have the news sold! 

Russell Crowe’s character starts off, much like the majority of today’s mainstream press – disliking and mocking bloggers and online news reporting – but, by the end he’s accepted the medium; in the guise of Rachel McAdams (who, honestly, would pretty much make you accept cutting off your own foot…ok, well I would accept it), and her job as the newspaper’s online section. He shows her how to handle contacts and sources; how to look more at the big picture, how to not focus on and report every single tiny nugget that they come across and to always keep a pen handy. 

I think that too many people are stuck on the fight about print vs. online news reporting that they’ve been blinded to see what the actial message is. (Or maybe, being neither, I’m just naive and am seeing the world with my rose colored…computer screen.)

The rest of the movie is great too. There’s some really good performances by Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman and Helen Mirren. The murder/mystery/political intrigue is also pretty captivating and makes for a solid, entertaining movie on it’s own; but if you’ve got the slightest bit interest in writing, or how digital media is seemingly overtaking print media, then that’s probably going to be what you’ll leave the movie thinking about.

A dozen posts and now it’s time for you to leave…

In media, Uncategorized on April 9, 2009 at 3:23 am

This is my twelfth post on this blog and I figured now would be a good time to point out some things about me, my reasons for creating this blog, where I watch movies and where I go to listen to people talk about them. 

So, first of all, I guess a proper introduction is needed. I’m a fan of movies. It started as a little kid, probably younger than I can even actually remember. But, growing up my grandmother had a telephone answering service in my small town, and one of the companies she worked with was the local cable company – and as a form of payment, she received free cable and all the channels. Granted this was in the mid-1980’s, so I think we had about 25 channels then, but these included HBO and Showtime. So, in-between hours of watching PBS shows like SESAME STREET, MR. ROGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD and READING RAINBOW, I would get to sit through and watch movies that no kid my age probably needed to be watching. Like, MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE, KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN and MANNEQUIN. Then, of course there were the movies that aimed more at my age-group, like HARRY AND THE HENDERSONS, the SUPERMAN movies and GOONIES. I have to admit that I was never really into STAR WARS – and it’s sequels – or STAR TREK. They were both just boring to me and I slept through them more times than I actually remember seeing them. 

But, it was really one movie that I recall having a profound effect on me and realizing that this is an artform – even though at the time it was still a little over my head what the movie meant – and that was Clint Eastwood’s 1992 western UNFORGIVEN. Strange that a 13 year old would see that movie as a life changing, view-altering experience, but to this day, I still claim it as one of my personal favorite movies of all time. (Even stranger, that along with that, two of my other top favorite movies also happen to be westerns. ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST and THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE…and could they be movies with any longer names?) So, since then I’ve been hooked. I’ve watched endless number of movies, good ones, classic ones, bad ones and everything in between. I’ve studied up on directors and actors and have an uncanny skill of being able to walk into a room and name the movie on the television, within seconds – even if it’s one that I’ve never seen.

So, with that in mind, it took my recent thinking about starting a blog – previously I was thinking of starting a more journal-like thing, that I could just type up whatever I want about whatever; whether it’s movies, or my work or opinions of people and society, but it took the two movies that I initially wrote about in my first blog post – HERE – for me to say, “I want to just write about the movies I watch.” So, with that, I fretted over choosing a name – one that both wasn’t too stupid and that was actually available – and signed up for this blog. I decided that it was mostly going to be me not really reviewing movies – although, I guess you could definitely call what I’ve done, doing reviews – but more just blabbing on about them. More of trying to recommend the movies that I see, and want to share. I’m not writing about every movie that I see – because they’re not all worth seeing – and I’m trying to remain positive in my views. What’s the purpose in talking about and you reading about someone going on and on about how someone hated something. Yes, I know this is the internet and that’s a great portion of it, but that’s not what I’ve wanted to do. So, these blog posts have been just my mind running amok with the facts and details and (not really that) brief descriptions about the movies and how they made me feel. I’m not a movie critic and I don’t feel qualified in trying to ascribe meaning to the movies I see. So, just think of this place as sort of sitting around with a friend and having them tell you about a movie they saw and how you might want to check it out too. 

Now, having said that, I do love a good analysis of movies every now and again and I also like hearing other people debate what movies mean (to them) and other cool things that I may not know or have seen. And for that I turn to podcasts. This is a new thing that I’ve just recently gotten into, over the past couple of weeks and oddly enough, the few that I’m going to recommend – while all good and well worth your time – I’m going to do a brief little critique of. (How’s that for getting meta?) And so, with that, all of these shows are available on iTunes, where you can subscribe to them, and they’ll automatically download to your computer every week – or whenever they’re posted – or you can play them on their designated websites. Most also have blogs that the creators post to, movie news and reviews and other things, which are also well worth reading. So, here we go:

The Film Talk – is a podcast done by Jett Loe and Gareth Higgins. One is an American filmmaker, actor and seeming comedian and the other is an Irish, Spirituality professor and their show is brilliantly hilarious and very, very insightful. They both come from the viewpoint of being outside the conventional “American” point-of-view. Both having spent either quite a lot of time outside the US, or naturally not being from here and with that, they bring up a lot of interesting points, that only sometimes go into pretentious territory, but mostly is just a fresh eye in how our society has absorbed how we see violence or other profane things and what movies are saying about our world. 

These guys have quickly become my favorite duo to listen to, and I’ve listened to just about every episode that they’ve recorded. Often very funny, they try to stick to a scheduled 30 minute long show, but quite often go over that time limit and wind up discussing a variety of other things besides what their subject initially might have been. I honestly have to say, that if there’s one movie podcast to listen to, this is it! I really recommend listening to the episodes commenting on WATCHMEN, THE DARK KNIGHT, WALL-E and the couple of episodes dealing with the movies of Stanley Kubrick. 

The Movie Hour – is Ethan Thompson and Joe Hilliard, two fellas from Corpus Christi, Texas, who teach film criticism and have a radio talk program, respectively and they do a show where they talk about current movies, have a fun and great little segment called the Living Room Film Festival; where each week they announce a topic and the audience sends in their picks for the movies they’d show to a group of friends having to do with that subject. 

They’re a pretty new podcast, but their sound quality is great and they tend to have some interesting things to say about movies. I have a couple of criticisms about their earlier episodes – far too worried about announcing where and how large their audience is and also sort of ripping on other people who do shows where they don’t sound as good because at least one of the people has to participate via phone or other interactive device, like Skype. As they’ve gotten on  with the series though, they’ve seemed to move away from pointing these things out and are now sticking to what the show is about and that makes it a lot better. And unlike, with The Film Talk people, I have no idea which person is which, and that’s not a big deal but they do sound very much a like. But, again, they’re working on the show and it’s coming along and so far they’ve had some interesting shows and I enjoy hearing what these guys from Texas have to say about movies that…well, you wouldn’t think people in Texas would like. Currently, they’ve not really been around long enough to point out any specific show to listen to, so I’d say just try the most recent one – which ever it might be – and see if you like it.

Slash Filmcast – This is a podcast hosted by David Chen, with regular co-hosts Devindra Hardawar and Adam Quigley, which is actually a continuation and sponsored version of a show these guys were doing on their own. Which, I guess shows the quality of what they’re doing as to have it then picked up by a larger movie news/review site. The other cool, fun thing about this show is that they regularly have guest stars pop in to talk about what movies they’ve seen, discuss recent events and usually review a recently released movie. 

All of the guys have distinctive voices and voice opinions that with the wonderful odd numbering usually means one of them is left as the odd man out in liking/disliking a movie. And this leads to some really great and fun conversations. Also, something fun that I’ve actually participated in a couple of times was on the nights when they record an episode, they do it live online and there’s a chatroom involved where the hosts interact – sometimes – with the audience, and leads to some interesting things happening. (I do have to say, though, that the chatroom can get a little unruly and there are a few glitches where the chat will break down.) But, the show is almost always high energy, and usually some very interesting points and criticism is brought up. This does though lead to my main criticism of the show, and that is that – mainly one person – there seems to be this regular thing where someone has to nit-pick, to the point of tediousness, things in movies; or play the devil’s advocate and seemingly just take a stance opposite of everyone else, just for the sake of creating argument.  It doesn’t distract from the show and maybe it’s just that usually this person is usually standing on the opposite side of the line that I am in caring or digging that deeply into movies, but it does get a little obvious sometimes. 

They’ve done a good number of shows and not only do they have the regular episodes but they do a cool bonus thing called “After Dark”, which is a continuation of the episode where they discuss whatever from the main episode, answer listen feedback and usually just goof off a little bit. Some of the great episodes to listen to are the two shows that had Kevin Smith (CLERKS, ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO) guest starring on reviews of THE DARK KNIGHT and WATCHMEN, a couple of episodes with actor STEPHEN TOBOLOWSKY – who also joined the guys for a special Audio Commentary for the movie GROUNDHOG DAY, starring Bill Murray, that Tobolowsky also starred in. But, y’know, most of the episodes are worth listening to.

And finally, I wanted to just point out some of the places you can go, to watch movies, TV shows and whatnot, online; as since I’m usually too broke to go to the movie theater most times – and in case you haven’t noticed, none of the movies I’ve discussed are really New Releases – so this is where I’m watching most of the movies that I do watch. 

Hulu – is a website, sponsored and supported by the two networks NBC and FOX, and provides TV shows from those networks – and their affiliates (like USA, FX and Comedy Central to name a few) – and movies from the studios/organizations that own them (Fox, obviously and Sony/Universal, mostly). They have a large selection of television series, both old and new; usually with the newer shows being available online the day after – or up to a week later – after they’ve aired on TV. Since I don’t tend to actually be available to watch the shows I like when they’re actually on, this is where the larger portion of what I watch comes from – TV-wise. 

Movie-wise, they’ve got a great selection of mainstream hits – like GO and THE THING – to older not as well known, or regarded movies like THE LAST MAN ON EARTH and KOYAANISQUATSI. Both shows and movies are ad-supported, so there’s essentially commercial breaks built into the viewer, but most of the movies are unedited so it’s kind of like watching them on HBO, with commercials. They also offer two versions of resolution, which is a nice feature. 

Netflix – Until recently, when my account was suspended for lack of funds, this is where pretty much every movie I’ve posted about has been viewed from. And amazingly enough, the majority of those were seen via Netflix’s Online Watch Instantly program. There’s a great selection of movies, both old and new available – I’m talking like DVD’s just out new – there’s TV shows, and most fun of all is the option of not only watching them instantly on your computer, but you can also view them through a special box that they sell – I guess; I don’t really know much about that – or if you have an X-Box, there’s an option through X-Box Live to watch movies (although, you have to fill the Watch Instantly Queue, online before going to the TV). And of course there’s the added bonus, with signing up for an account, of also being able to have DVD’s delivered to your door, in case there’s a movie you want to see that’s not available online and you just don’t feel like heading out to Blockbuster (although they have a mail-order version too, not sure about a Watch Instantly thing though) or stopping at one of the Redboxes.  

And here’s some other interesting places that show movies, mostly older or considered “classic’s” that I’ve just recently learned about but felt like sharing also:

Criterion Online – Criterion Collections, a gold standard of movie restoration and study has a number of it’s movie library online to watch. It seems that they charge $5.00 per movie, but they offer great movies like Tarkovsky’s SOLARIS (the precursor, and original adaptation of the Stanislaw Lem novel, to the Steven Soderbergh movie with George Clooney – which, I have to say, I do like better), Sluizer’s THE VANISHING (a great original movie that was remade a few years later as an American movie, starring Kiefer Sutherland and Jeff Bridges – which I also liked, but like with a lot of foreign adaptations loses something in the translation.) and Stuart Cooper’s OVERLORD, an interesting movie that tells a fictional story about a soldier from bootcamp to war, splicing in a lot of archival footage. It’s an interesting experiment. 

AMC  B-Movie – The link pretty much says it all. There are a couple of movies of note to point out – although I have to admit to having seen neither, but I’ll soon remedy that; one being the movie DARKSTAR, the directorial debut (a student film originally, I believe) of John Carpenter, who would go on to make HALLOWEEN and THE THING; and also THE RUTHLESS FOUR, a western – automatically catching my eye – starring Klaus Kinski, in a Spaghetti Western. 

Special notice that they’re showing all of the episodes of THE PRISONER on the AMC site, HERE. Sort of as a primer, I guess, for AMC’s upcoming re-imagining of the series with a new cast, including Jim Caviezel and Ian McKellan. Naturally,  the show is about a spy – played by Patrick Mcgoohan – who is sent to a small, secret village; where (forced) to retire spies are sent and his attempts to escape both the place and becoming just another number.

The Auteurs – A smaller site, with lofty goals – according to the movies it’s hoping to eventually have available for online viewing. It also features a number of movies, both for a fee and also for free. Mostly smaller, or older movies, but might be worth checking out.  

WB Archives – This one doesn’t offer movies to watch online, but it has another interesting gimmick. Mostly classic – and as of yet unreleased on DVD – movies in Warner Brother’s archives (hence, the name, I suppose) and they’re available for order to be created on-demand and shipped out. I believe the DVD’s cost about $20.00, per movie – and I’m assuming there are no supplemental material involved – but this is a new way of getting little seen, or known movies out to the public and I hope that they will eventually also make them available for online viewing. But, there’s currently a couple hundred titles available. 

So, I hope that this is helpful in getting some people to watch some new movies, a little insight into where I’m coming from and what this blog is about and where to get some great commentary on movies. I’m going to continue writing these blog posts, and I’ll leave the talking to the guys I linked to above. See you around.