Wild Things

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A classic children's story finally comes to realization in Spike Jonze new adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are. This film has been long in the making rifled with controversy and conflicts. Production started in 2005 and filming ended around early 2008. But when filming ended, rumors were flying around that the film studio wanted to re-shoot the entire movie because it apparently wasn’t a “kid’s movie”. Spike Jonze vision was not to make Where the Wild Things Are into a simple big Hollywood children’s movie but instead to exhibit the adult themes explored in the original story written by Maurice Sendak. But luckily the film studios decided to support Spike Jonze’s original vision for the film and the trailer definitely shows that. Judging by the trailer it seems they definitely are not trying to market the movie towards kids. This is an amazing move on Hollywood’s part, taking a timeless and classic children's story and adapting it for mature audiences. This film is made for all the people who read the book and it has become a cherished memory of their childhood. First time I’ve encountered this book was back in kindergarten when my teacher read it to the class, ever since that moment I was enchanted by the possibility of traveling into some unknown and exotic world but meanwhile realizing that sometimes we travel to the most outlandish of places trying to find oneself and some true companionship only to realize it already exists at home. This seems to be an interesting trend happening in Hollywood, taking favorite childhood classics and adapting them for more mature audiences. The two most recent examples the come to mind is The Dark Knight and Speed Racer. While Dark Knight was immensely popular, Speed Racer was a box office flop, but I ended up loving the film! Speed Racer is good example of excellent film-making but horrible marketing. They tried marketing Speed Racer for little kids, when it clearly wasn’t a movie meant for kids!?! Speed Racer is a movie that played into the nostalgia factor that we share for these classic childhood heroes. All from the tongue and cheek banter, the exaggerated visuals, the vibrant colors, the completely unexpected story twist, and the quintessential happy ending. Speed Racer played to all those familiar plot devices and made it fun to watch them again, even though I’m 20 years old and the last time I’ve watched the original Speed Racer cartoon was when I was 6 years old! But, thankfully the marketing department for Wild Things seems to be learning from Speed Racer’s woes. One clear indication is the song selection in the trailer; “Wake Up” by Arcade Fire which is an amazing song and a completely perfect pairing for this movie. The choice for Arcade Fire’s song is a move to resonate with mature audiences, and to demonstrate that this is not a typical Hollywood adaptation but sticking with more an independent feel. Being a fan of Spike Jonze previous work, especially Being John Malkovich, I’m super hyped for this movie and have a good feeling that it’s going to be real good.

Here are a couple of other childhood stories/TV shows I wish to be adapted for mature audiences in the big screen:
1. Smurfs
2. Winnie-the-Pooh
3. The Magic School Bus
4. Jetsons

Afro-Indie Rock

Sunday, March 22, 2009

For the past week I have been closely following the SXSW Music Festival, which takes place after the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas. This music festival mainly concentrates on lesser known independent musical artist. If you want to make your mark on the Indie music scene SXSW is one the places to go. Most of my most favorite Indie Rock bands have been to SXSW such as; Vampire Weekend, MGMT, Ra Ra Riot, Beirut, Animal Collective, and Arcade Fire. While looking through this wide variety of bands and sounds I’ve never heard before presented in SXSW one band stuck out the, Blk Jks, an indie rock band from South Africa. The Blk Jks is Vampire Weekend meets Mars Volta, managing to mix a fascinating collection of African beats, smooth indie melodies (ala Arcade Fire) and progressive rock. Blk Jks is certainly a band to keep an eye (and ear) on, can’t wait to hear more music from them.

Here are some music videos of the Blk Jks for your enjoyment:

Yearning to be in the Southwest

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Here in NYC wishing I could be in Austin, Texas right now so I’ll be able to attend South by Southwest Film Festival (SXSW). In compensation for my absence I decided to check out the trailers for their lineup of films. They have a huge lineup of more than 30 full-length films, but out of all those films the documentaries stuck out. They don’t have the regular boring and depressing political awareness documentaries that the film market is saturated with nowadays. These documentaries explore the new wave of art and culture that have graced our generation, an inter meshing of both popular art and corporate art that has been exploding in the internet. In an era where we have YouTube, Blogs, Google, Facebook, Flickr and thousands upon thousands of other networks where people are interconnecting creating new bonds and artistically feeding of each other. We are living in a world where people are finding out the true meaning of “sharing is caring”. I’m glad that SXSW decided to expose these documentaries that are truly uplifting and reveal the positive change that is occurring in our culture. Now with out further a due here are the trailers:

RiP: A Remix Manifesto

Calling ET

Favela on Blast

Roadsworth: Crossing the Line


For the Love of Movies

And even though I missed SXSW and Sundance, I always have Tribeca Film Festival, can’t wait! =)

The Limits of Control

Thursday, March 12, 2009

An interesting film by the acclaimed director Jim Jarmusch of Broken Flowers, which won the 2005 Grand Prix award at the Cannes film festival. The Limits of Control is his newest film about a mysterious man played by Isaach De Bankole, who is in the process of finishing a criminal job in Spain. This film looks mysterious and very intriguing with somewhat a Film Noir vibe. Plus it has an amazing cast comprising of Isaach De Bankole, Bill Murray, Gael Garcia Bernal John Hurt, and Tilda Swinton.

Public Enemies

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Two of the best actors in Hollywood, Johnny Depp and Christian Bale, go head to head in a 1930's caper tale. In the tradition of traditional caper/heist films, Public Enemies is about the FBI chasing down a gang of bank robbers, the leader being played by Johnny Depp, during the emerging crime wave of the 1930s. This a film that takes place in the 1930s but has somewhat a modern sensebility, clean cut filmmaking, fast edits, and quick pace. Everything I love from a fun action movie! It's been too long since a true American gangster film has been made!

Persepolis Review

Sunday, March 8, 2009

War, peace, hate, love, repression, freedom, alienation, intimacy; all concepts that affect our lives in some way, whether how far or near they might appear, our lives our shaped by our environments. In the critically acclaimed (winner of the 2007 Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival) hand-drawn animated film, Persepolis, tells the story of young girl named Marjane growing up in war-torn Iran and then going to Europe to escape the ravages of the Islamic revolution in Iran. The beginning of the film takes place when the Iranian people were revolting against the oppressive regime back in the 1970s-1980s, Iraq then attacks causing the revolution to fail and Iran subsequently becomes a tyrannical and fanatical religious regime. We see through the eyes of this young girl all this chaos, the frustrations associated with living in a repressive society, and the alienation one feels. The compelling story-telling moved me and I felt empathy for Marjane. Stamped with both humor and drama, the film allows you to see the harsh realities of the world meanwhile escaping into a complex and well thought out narrative. Despite seeing horrible conditions, the film still manages to add an optimistic and happy atmosphere. Ultimately we all have to surpass the problems that are around us, we have to be grateful for what we have around us. Persepolis shows us that we can find peace and happiness in the oddest of places. Our family and friends are always there for us and we must never forget where we come from. Our environment shapes up but it does not determine our fate. Being a rare film hybrid, an autobiographical animated film, the expressions and feeling of the characters are more fleshed out. The witty animation allows us to get involved with the characters unlike any live-action film can replicate. Each single frame is a beautifully drawn to perfection. Very smooth and natural feel to it allowing for the characters expressions to be both slightly humorous and resonant to our emotions. Persepolis is absolutely spellbinding! A triumph in animation, showing the industry of animation that it’s not only a medium for little children, but instead animation is maturing to become an alternative medium for exhibiting complex stories about the human condition without the limitation of sets, locations, and special effects.

"Listen. I don't like to preach, but here's some advice. You'll meet a lot of jerks in life. If they hurt you, remember it's because they're stupid. Don't react to their cruelty. There's nothing worse than bitterness and revenge. Keep your dignity and be true to yourself. "
-Marjane's Grandmother (Persepolis)

Sam Raimi Returns to Horror!

While browsing along IMDB, I stumbled upon that Sam Raimi is making a return to Horror! For those who don’t know who Sam Raimi is, he is most famous for being the director of the Spider-Man movies, but before he ever helmed the teenager in red and blue tights he did three films that redefined the Horror genre; Evil Dead 1 and 2, and The Army of Darkness. These films are filled with gore, humor, fantastic action and still manage to give a chill down your spine. Those films are still among my favorite horror movies, and I’m so delighted that Mr. Raimi is making a comeback to the genre he so greatly had an impact on.

Here’s the premise of the movie (courtesy of IMDB):

“A loan officer (Lohman) ordered to evict an old woman from her home finds herself the recipient of a supernatural curse, who turns her life into a living hell. Desperate, she turns to a seer to try and save her soul, while evil forces work to push her to a breaking point.”

Can’t wait to catch this when it comes out in theaters on May 29th!

500 Days

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The new trailer of my most hyped Sundance film, (500) Days of Summer, has come out! I love the teaser trailer, but this one shows a different kind of view of the film, which is pretty awesome, doesn't seem like a one-trick pony romantic comedy that Hollywood seems to popped out every other week in theaters, which all them seem to star Matthew McConaughey!

Who's Watching?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The hype for Watchmen is killing me! I've been watching so many interviews, clips, and featurettes that I've even had dreams that are Watchmen related. A couple of days ago after an entire night of watching Alan Moore, the genius behind Watchmen, interviews I subsequently had a dream where I was the main character in Alan Moore's new epic novel called Jerusalem, and Alan Moore was my sidekick through my epic adventure! It was the coolest dream I've had in a long time. Well anyways can't wait to see Watchmen this Friday in IMAX, it's going to be a true movie spectacle!

Here's some more Watchmen viral marketing:

Here is a cool featurette, explaining what is Watchmen and how it is going to translate to film:

And here is Alan Moore discussing his new epic novel in the making, Jerusalem:


Monday, March 2, 2009

I can’t believe this film has been out in NYC for more than a month and I still haven’t seen it! Think what you may of Che Guevara, but he is undeniably one the most recognized, iconic, and infamous man of the 20th century. Benicio Del Toro looks exactly like the Che we see in the iconic photos and T-Shirts. I really loved The Motorcycle Dairies, which was about a young 20-something Che Guevara traveling throughout South America discovering the reality of the world’s problems, and so happy they made a film about his future exploits, the Cuban Revolution and Bolivian coup. Can’t believe this movie didn’t get more exposure, then again his status as an international icon is controversial, revolting against imperialist nations but murdering many people for that cause, he is definitely no Gandhi…

"Es mejor morir de pie, que vivir de rodillas"
–Che Guevara
In English: “It’s better to die standing up, than to live on your knees”