Saturday, June 25, 2011

My Favorite Directors
Sir Alfred Hitchcock, Master of Suspense

After overviewing my favorite director of all times, Stanley Kubrick, I think its appropiate to move on to my second favorite director of all times, and that's none other than horror and suspense master Alfred Hitchcock, director of such classics as Psycho, Vertigo and North by Northwest. With a career spanning almost six decades, he hardly ever made a misfire (not one that I have seen at least, but I have heard that he's done like two or three that don't compare to his other better films), and that is a great achievement. I have seen many directors having a roller coster of a career, but not Hitchcock. A few "bumps" on the road to becoming one of the most memorable directors of all times can be forgivable... and if that's not a good enough reason, then watch his greatest films and you'll see that those alleged minor wrongs are no big thing.

Top 5 films:
5. The Lady Vanishes: An intriguing tale of conspiracies and espionage in pre-World War II Britain. This early Hitchcock thriller has the ingridients that would make his films from the coming decades such a hit, and those are a tight suspenseful plot, colorful characters, a few twists on the way and his trademark cameo. The theme of espionage, recurring in his early films, is very well carried out in the film, nd it certainly assures a very intriguing train ride.
4. Rear Window: His first collaboration (or at least I believe it is his first) with praised actor James Stewart. The film is about suspicion and murder, and the fact that it developes through the telescope of a man in a wheelchair, which makes it harder for him to escape when he have to, makes it all more thrilling. This excellent thriller is definitely one to remember.
3. Shadow of a Doubt: One of his earliest American films, Hitchcock definitely masters the serial killer trama in one of his first attempts. Another great story about suspicion, Hitchcock keeps the audience glued to the film as he keeps adding suspense to both sides of the party, the girl who suspects her uncle is a killer and to the uncle who is very possibly a killer.
2. Psycho: Probably everybody's Hitchcock favorite, but for me it comes in as second. But that doesn't mean it isn't a masterpiece in its own right. The film, the mother of horror and slasher films, its a wonderful and macabre ride that every movie fan is bound to take. Anyone who has seen it knows that that almost every slasher film released after it pales in comparison, but also knows that it was because of this that those movies were made. And I have to of course mention the unforgettable shower scene, which is one of the better known and most memorable scenes in history.
1. Vertigo: The film which I do believe to be his masterpiece. The psychological thriller about a retired police detective suffering from acrophobia is nothing but excellent. The film's great direction and style make for what isone of his most celebrated films. James Stewart's performance is definitely one of his best. I know it is hard to choose which one is the best, especially with so many great films, but I do believe that this is his very best film. If you haven't seen it see it now. Trust me, any Hitchcock fan must see this.

I know there are at least a dozen films that should be mentioned, but I could only say five as it is a top five. I guess that honorable mentions go to: North by Northwest, Dial M for Murder, The Wrong Man, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The 39 Steps, The Birds, Rebecca, Notorious, Blackmail... damn, I'll leave it there.

Alfred Hitchcock is often cited as "the master". While I think that this term should be applied to the greatest director of all times (a term applief to Stanley Kubrick), I think that it does suit Sir Alfred Hitchcock, as he is indeed a master. He is the master of horror and suspense, the greatest mind in the genre of thriller and terror. His body of work amasses over 50 films and reaches almost six decades of work. He is one of the
most, if not the most, unforgettable directors of all times, and when you check a list of the greatest directors you'll most definitely will find his name near the top of the list.
Hitchcock's films were, for the most part, concise and short, many that didn't go over hour and a half, and I think that his loongest film ran just about ten minutes over two hours. But that doesn't mean he was lazy or that his stories were lacking something. The reason is that he, instead of many other directors who cared for delivering a message throughout the whole film, the message he wants to deliver is shortly given to the audience. And I think that his purpose of filmmaking wasn't to deliver his views on humanity or to reflect on a situation (like Stanley Kubrick or Federico Fellini), but to simply just give a good time to the viewer. I'm not saying any of the two ways is wrong. I enjoy both this ways of filmmaking. It is hard to pick one out of the two, but yo
u there are certain times that you'd rather watch a Hitchcock film than a Kubrick film. When you're feeling down I don't think you'd watch a film about a man trying to murder his family or a solider abused and finally kills himself and his commanding officer, but rather something short and fun maybe? And again, I'm not saying that because Hitchcock's films are more cheerful or rather gurantee a good time are better, I'm saying that they are two different ways of expressing into the big screen.
While Fellini and Kubrick will go deep into the human psyche and explore the reasons of why humans act the way we do, Hitchcock would rather simply explore a situation in which unlikely heroes may arise. As I said, I think Hitchcock made his films for fun and for giving the audience a good time, unlike other filmmakers like the ones mentioned. And as I said, there are times for every director.

Hitchcock is undoubtly one of the most iconic and well remembered directors in cinema history. In every top 100 list you'll find at least three of his films, and in most you'll find more than that. He is the master of suspense and horror. He practically gave birth to the slasher genre (sad that it turned out to be so shameful after its first couple of hits), as well as he probably gave birth to the thriller and suspense genre. It is sad that he never won an Academy award (just like Kubrick), even when his film Rebecca did win Best Picture. He got snubbed several times, and thats a crime, as he is one of the better remembered directors in history.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Comic Book Movie Ideas

Comic Book Movies Ideas

With many comic book/superhero films coming out recently, and my inner nerd that occasionally rises to the surface doing exactly that, I have come out with a couple of ideas for what could be future comic book movies, or movies that were never actually made but how they could be done, or movies that have the potential to be made in the future but nothing is certain. Anyway, I know I don't do to much stuff like this but I thought it would be fun, so why not give it a try? By the way, I can't believe I have such knowledge for comic books. I feel like a nerd just by thinking on it (no offense to anyone). So yeah, as I said, I have an inner nerd that has once again risen to the surface.

The Dark Knight Rises/Other Potential Batman Movies

I have a couple of ideas for a batman movie, and since he is my favorite superhero of all times I'll start with him. So about The Dark Knight Rises (Chris Nolan's third Batman film), I heard the villains in the film will be Bane and Catwoman. They're great characters and villains but if I was to write the movie, I would write in Two Face. I know, he died in the previous movie and a memorial was held, but Two Face is one of Batman's greatest villains, and I think he does deserve a whole movie for himself. So here's how I think they can cover his story: the day of Harvey Dent's funeral when they open the casket it is empty. They at first think it was stolen, but a couple of days later sightings of Harvey Dent are reported. Anyway, as it turns out he survives the fall (remember Batman did too, though I know, it is possible the suit helped him) and know he ants to get back at Gotham who stole Rachel from him. Anyway, I'm sure Nolan may have something even better, but this is something I would like to see anyway. As for any other Batman movie (weather is the start of a new series or a new inclusion to the on-going one, though it is supposed to end after The Dark Knight Rises) I would like to see The Riddler on screen, but please, this time make it something serious. A creepy, dark look into the Riddler could be something great to see on screen. A good actor to play him could be Johnny Depp (though he is the obvious choice).

The Man of Steel/Other Potential Superman Movie

As I understand it, in The Man of Steel the villain will be Zod. While I am not unhappy with this decision (Zod's one of my favorite Superman villains), I would have liked to have Brainiac in the movie, and I think that, for a starter, Zod isn't probably the best choice. Anyway, I think that they can have Zod tryig to rebuild Krypton here on Earth (though I think that's what they're gonna do). For other Superman movies, if they were to start from scratch, I think an origin story would suit him. A story about him trying to embrace his Kryptonian origins is probaby the best kick off to a new series of Superman (and I hope we get that in The Man of Steel), and then there's the obligatory villain for a Superhero film blockbuster. Lex Luthor is always the obvious choice, but I think for an origin story Zor-El, Jor-El's brother, could be a good villain. And I have always wanted to see a Doomsday film, but that can be a little tricky, not only because it deals with killing Superman, but also, if it is to follow the comic, then it could be a two and a half hour long film of no-stop action.

Spiderman film

To tell the truth, I'm not really looking forard to the next Spiderman movie. I don't know, but I don't think we'll get a serious movie, nor a movie that lives up to the Sam Raimi films. Anyway, for a Spiderman film a cool villain is always Dr. Octopus, but as he's already been used I guess that's why they chose the Lizzard. Anyway, the Chameleon or Elektro could work too. But to tell the truth I'd like to see a film that covers the symbiote storyline, and I hope it does better than the third film. A trilogy could come in use here, with the first film about Spiderman wearing the black suit as he explores his dark side, the second one about Venom, and the third one about Carnage. But Carnage to appear in film can be something heavy, and they would of course tone it down to get a PG 13 rating, which I find silly.

X-Men 4/Wolverine Sequel/First Class Sequel

Despite The Last Stand being just average, I think that a fourth movie isn't really off the table. Proffesor X is dead, so that could have the storyline in which they return in time to save him so the world doesn't become an apocalypse could be used, and frankly it would be very interesting to see. I think that we nevergot the Centinels going, and I think that many people woul have wanted to see them. For Wolverine, despite an awful origin film, I would really like to see another movie. The reason is that Wolverine is one of my favorite characters and if he's gonna have a movie then don't let it be that awful piece of garbage they call origin story. I think they could go with Wolverine travelling the world, or whatever that he did, and he has several encounters with no other than Sabretooth. I know, its a crappy plot description but I'm sure that the writers can come up with something exciting to fill in the blanks. For a First Class sequel I think that it is obvious: have the X-Men and the Brotherhood to face off for the first time. To add excitement, I think they can all have a common objective, something around the lines of preventing mutant exposure or anihilation, but Professor X and Magneto's differing ideas start a battle between them.

A New Watchmen film or reboot

Unlike many people, I enjoyed Zack Snyder's film, but I have to agree that it was a little disappointing. It follow the comic quite faithfully, but a couple of interesting parts (like the gangs and all, which is little but interseting still) were left out. Anyway, with a new Watchmen film there could be space for sequels, prequels and spin offs. I have always wanted a Rorschach spin off, and a Comedian spin off would also be amazing. A sequel can work if it follows Nite Owl and Silk Spectre into retirement but something forces them to come back and try to save the world once again, but to tell the truth I don't think that would really be good. Something more interesting can be a prequel which follows the Watchmen in the years before the Keene Act, which made illegal their activities. And going even further a prequel about the first generation of Watchmen, the Minutemen, would also be great too.

Daredevil Reeboot

I don't think a sequel would work for the best. Much like they did with The Incredible Hulk, have a new Daredevil film with new actors and a different storyline (though something similar wouldn't be that bad). I think Matt Damon could be a good Matt Murdock, but what are the real chances. Anyway, the story could be about Daredevil trying to take down the Kingpin, which in the movie was actually a little lame.

Green Arrow/Super Max movie

Around 2008, a script about a Green Arrow movie was circling the web. The plot was that Green Arrow is framed and locked in a maximum security prison for superheroes and villains for a crime he didn't commit. Inside there are dozens of villains (most of them relative unknowns, but we have a couple of big names like Lex Luthor, The Joker and The Riddler) were put in by Green Arrow himself. Green Arrow will have to team up with these villains to escape. Now, I don't know about you guys but this sounds awesome to me. However, chances for this movie being made are slim. And the script is nowhere to be found (which if any of you guys know something about it I would appreciate it, I really want to read it :) ). But I would really want this to be made. So my idea is simple: have a couple of better known villains (aside from the ones I just said) like Catwoman or Deathstroke. Maybe that would make the movie more possbile to being made (though I doubt that). Anyway, Green Arrow is actually a great superhero, and he is one of the most underrated ones, so a movie probaby would make him some good.

A dark Green Lantern story

As things seem to be right now, the Green Lantern movie sucks. I was planning on going to watch it this weekend, but according to the reviews I better not. I guess I'll watch Super 8 instead. Anyway, as I understand the movie deals with Hal Jordan stopping Parallax. Now, this part may contain spoilers to future Green Lanter movies, the comics or the very movie itself if they do it as the comics (but I doubt that). In the comics, Hal Jordan becomes Parallax, so I really can't see how they plan to do that movie. I think that a movie about the transformation he suffers would be awesome. But i know that probably would be too dark for a superhero film so what we need is a hero story. So instead of focusing in Hal Jordan they should focus on Kyle Rayner, who replaces Jordan as the new Green Lantern. So basically, while becoming Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner has to stop the previous Green Lantern as he turns darkside. That would great to see on screen, don't you think?

I told you, I have an inner nerd. I have a couple of more ideas but I think I've gone too long already so I guess I'll stop here. Unless you guys want to hear (or read) them. If that's the case I can do another blog, but this are the cool and exciting ones (if you believe they are all that). So anyway, thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed this.

Friday, June 10, 2011

My Favorite Directors: Stanley Kubrick

My Favorite Directors

Stanley Kubrick, the Controversial and Visionary Genius

Stanley Kubrick, the director of such films as 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange and Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, is most deinitely my favorite director of all times. His films, including the ones previously mentioned, are all masterpieces and excellent works of art that should be remembered through time as the excellent work they were. His visionary take on many subjects, as well as the controversy that arised when his films were released, make up for what could easily be the greatest director of all times.

Top 5 films:

5. Lolita: His first film to rise controversy. The story of a middle aged man who marries a woman because he fell in love with her 16 year old daughter. I know this is something that can upset or even disturb some viewers, but Kubrick's take on the subject makes it an unforgettable experience. His way of showing what people can do to achieve what they want is something revealing as it is unsettling.

4. The Shining: The horror tale about a family isolated in the Overlook Hotel as the father of the family goes mad. While the film doesn't follow too closely the book, and frankly it almost tells a different story, the close study on Jack Torrance's descent into madness as well as how his family try to deal with it before their own lives are in danger is something hard to forget.

3. Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb: A long title, I know, but I think the title reflects the comedic and humoristic nature of the film. It is a comedy but set during a nuclear crisis. It is a dark political satire and it might be something hard to be taken lightly, but Kubrick's genius achieves this and not only that but also creates one of the best and most memorable comedies of all times.

2. A Clockwork Orange: The view of a disturbed soul in a world where things seem to have gone down the drain. It is the story of Alex DeLarge and how he and his friends engaged in sadistic activities, before he is incarcerated and reformed by a new procedure. This one is probably his most violent film (but Full Metal Jacket could give it a good competition) and I think that its violence is something as essential as the plot itself, as it help us to understand the metality of this individual who gets a kick out of making other people suffer.

1. 2001: A Space Odyssey: One of the most controversial films of all times, and a pioneer on special effects, this, arguably the mother of science fiction cinema, is a story a little harder to put in words, yet, its form of storytelling is an unforgettable one, and if you've seen this film you know exactly what I am talking about. The film presented the world with the not-too-much-acceoted Darwin theory of evolution, creating alot of controversy upon its release. Without much effort this could be the greatest science fiction film of all times.

What separates Kubrick from other directors is his portrayal of the human psychology on his films, especially on how he focused on the dark part of humanity. Unlike other directors like Hitchcock, who focused more on the story than the characters and made shorter and fast-paced films (and I'm not saying this in a bad way), Kubrick dedicated time of his films mostly on building up his characters and making them change throughout the story, not neccesarily into a more possitive self.

I think that when analysing Kubrick's films it is important to divide his films in pre-2001 and post-2011. His pre-2001 films were shorter and faster than his post-2001 films. These films also were much lighter in nature, and, while they still did, they focused lesser on the human mind and their motivations (with Lolita probably being an exception) than his post-2001 films. The latter films were much darker, longer and slower than his previous films. Also in this films he would focus alot more in the human mind and human psychology. His films often featured psychological themes, including dementia and how people can descend into it (like in The Shining or Full Metal Jacket). What can be said about these latter films is that they became much darker harder to take. If you see, in films such as A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket and maybe even Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick explores what motivated people to do those things they(we) do. As I said, he focused alot on the dark side of mankind.

Many people may view Kubrick as a cynical, as his way of seeing manking can be refelected on his films, but I think that this isn't an accerted observation. I think the reason of why he focused on the dark and negative actions or motivations of humans is because most people wouldn't really want to face that part of humanity, but he makes us face it, maybe because it will make us uncomfortable or maybe because nobody else will make us do it, but I think that this is an important thing that we need to face. And I think that this is why he is different from other directors, and I think that this is why he can be the greatest director who had ever lived.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Hangover, Part II

The Hangover, Part II

Director: Todd Philips
Year: 2011
Country: USA

You would think that after a hangover THAT big nothing like that would ever happen again, but guess what: it did... just exactly the same. I don't mind repetitivity every once in a while, maybe it can work, maybe it can be as funny or funnier than the first time, but if you're gonna do it in a sequel then do it just once or twice throughout the whole movie, and try to fill the rest of it with fresh new and original ideas, making very different situations and still having a kick out of it. But the deal with The Hangover, Part II is that it is almost exactly what The Hangover was. And that's not a good thing.

After the disaster of the bachelor party that happened in Las Vegas two years prior, Stu, who is about to get married, decides that he just wants to have a bachelor brunch. The "wolf pack" travel to Thailand for Stu's wedding (with Alan barely invited). The night prior the ceremony the foru of them, along with Stu's brother in law Teddy, go to the beach to have a couple of beers. The next day, Stu, Alan and Phil wake up in a dirty hotel room in Bangkok (along with Chow). They know that Doug is in the hotel, but Teddy is nowhere to be found. With Stu getting married that day they have to find Teddy before the ceremony, but in a city where everything can happen (and by everything I mean everything weve already seen) finding him can be harder than it seems.

The main problem with The Hangover Part II, as I've already said, is that it echoes alot the first movie. It follows the same strucutre, it has almost the same situations but with a few details changed, and we even have a similar resolution. The opening scene was almost a copy from the one in the first, but it was funny. As I said, repetition can be funny every once in a while, but then it started to become annoying and silly. *SPOILERS* Instead of having a baby/tiger we have a drug dealing nicotine addicted monkey, instead of having a fake Doug we have a fake Teddy (a monk with an eternal vow of silence), instead of having a stripper/whore who Stu marries we have a transvestite whore who Stu drunkenly falls in love with. *SPOILERS OVER*, and there's much more.

The performances are solid and funny, but nothing special, except for Ken Jeong and Zach Galifianakis who were pretty good, but the problem was that their characters weren't likeable anymore. For Ken Jeong, his character was driven to the extreme and lost most of his charm from the first film. And Zach Galifianakis' character Alan was much more malign in this film, when in the first film he was innocent and that was made him funny, this time around he is darker, *SPOILERS ONCE AGAIN* this time roofying them on purpose, even if it was directed to Teddy *SPOILERS OVER*, and that basically ruined him for me.

The film is funny, yes, but it isn't hilarous, even if it uses many of the same jokes as in the first, only that much darker and nastier. That didn't help the film either. Making the film much nastier or crueler wasn't a big help, as it became or rude, or annoying or a simple turn off.

The Hangover, Part II is funny and has good performances, but the fact that it is an almost remake of the first film and that it is much crueler and nastier kind of ruins the film. It isn't a complete failure, but it isn't a success either. I've heard they are making a third one. What I say is that if they aren't going to change the situation and make something entirely different then don't really bother.

My recommendation: Is not really worth it going to the theater, better wait for the DVD/Blu ray if you want to watch it, but don't have high hopes.

My score: 43%

Saturday, June 4, 2011

X-Men: First Class

X-Men: First Class

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Year: 2011

Country: USA

I remember when the first X-Men movie came out. I was just a boy and my father took me to the cinema to watch the film. As I was a big fan of the cartoon and the comics I was very excited for the film. And even if I couldn't understand it on the level I do now, I remember how I enjoyed myself watching the film. Then, three years later X2 came out. Once again, my father took me to the theater. I enjoyed the film even more than the first. When The Last Stand came out I was older and had better understanding of these films. I watched the film with a couple of friends, and, despite it wasn't what number 1 and 2 were, I enjoyed it as well. Then it was Wolverine's turn. I was really looking forward to this one, as Wolverine was my favorite X-Men character, but the movie was a HUGE disapointment. And then, a new X-Men film was announced, X-Men: First Class. I thought it was a good idea, but after Wolverine I was a little doubtful about it. However, I still was looking forward to it. And I must say that my expectations were fulfilled.

The movie takes place in 1962, aproximately 40 years before the first film and 15 years before X-Men: Origins. Erik Lensherr(Michael Fassbender) has been plotting a revenge against Klaus Schmidt, a.k.a Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), for years because he murdered his mother in a Nazi concentration camp years before. Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), a cocky and smart Oxford graduate, is publishing his thesis on human mutation. They are both mutants, Erik being able to control metals and Charles being a Telepath. Xavier and his friend Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), a shapeshifter who he found when they were just kids, are hired by the CIA to find Sebastian Shaw, who turns out to be a mutant himself and is the leaderof the Hellfire Club. At this they meet Lersherr, who tried to get revenge at Shaw but almost killed himself in the process. They then decide to track down mutants and form a special CIA division which will try and stop Shaw from starting a nuclear war between America and the Soviet Union. The film focuses on the relationship between Xavier and Lensherr, and how they finally became enemies and leaders of their movement of mutants.

As I said, it is nice to see the X-Men franchise back to form. The first two films were great, with a right mix of action and character and story developement. However, the third one sacrificed alot of its character developement for action, and while I still thought it was ok, it was a huge step down from its predecesors. Then, X-Men Origins: Wolverine was released, and while its story and main character could be some of the most interesting of the X-Men universe, the film was a very big disapointment.

The film has a great script. The characters (or at least the majority) are thoroughly developed and their qualities as well as their defcts are explored. I tink the most fun to watch was Raven/Mystique. In previous films, this character was a mysterious and dangerous mutant, but in this one we can see that she was just an insecure girl who just wanted to fit in. Usually, when a mysterious character is given a background I'd rather they didn't do it, but with Mystique it is different. It was very interesting to see this. Another interesting character to see develop was Hank McCoy, alias Beast. He presents the same problems as Mystique, only that he goes further than she does to be accepted. Lets just say he learned the lesson.

The performances all around were very good. Michael Fassbender certainly steals the show as a younger and less evil Magneto. He said he would try to be a Magneto different than Ian McKellen's, and I think it is safe to say he was, but this is a good thing. We get to see different characters from the ones we are used to, and probably this is the most interesting to see. James McAvoy's performance as Charles Xavier is also very good. Just like Fassbender, he plays a different Xavier than Patrick Stewart's. While Stewart's Proffesor X was a (quoting McAvoy) "a monk... a selfless, egoless almost sexless force for the betterment of humanity and mortality", McAvoy's Xavier is (again quoting him) "an ego-fueled, sexed up self serving dude". Kevin Bacon's performance as Sebastian Shaw was also excellent, and I really think that he does a very credible and fun to watch villain. Jennifer Lawrence was also very good as Raven/Mystique, and as I said, her character is one of the most fun to watch. The rest of the cast all do very good jobs in their characters.

The direction this film takes is also very good. Matthew Vaughn does a fantastic job at holding the reins of the film. His direction is stylish and very cool, but he also gets what he wants and needs from his actors, as well as putting the importance of the screenplay on the screen. I really hope that he sticks when the sequel (if its done, which I believe it will) is made, his job in this one was very good. If he had directed The Last Stand, and he had been attached before filming started, I'm sure we would have had a much better film. His mix of action, humor, human drama and character development all make up for a fantastic film.

For the visual part the film is amazing as well. The effects are first class, all flashy and fun to watch. The action scenes are eough to please any average summer moviegoer. You getthe exhilerating pulse that you get when you watch a fun action film, and it never sacrifices the plot or character developement.

I know I already have written alot so I'll end my review here. I have to say that this is a fantastic film, one of the best movies of the year, and the best installment in the franchise since X2. The performances are very good, the character and story developement are very well mixed with the action, and Matthew Vaughn certainly proves that he knows what he is doing. I really hope that we get a sequel for this, as long as they keep it good and don't screw up like many sequels do.

My recommendation: For X-Men fans is a must see, and for regular movie fans I think it is worth a watch.

My score: 91%