Deprecated: Function session_is_registered() is deprecated in /home/joshway/public_html/ on line 34
Brian's Blog | | digital tomfoolery
posted by Brian Tue Feb 06, 2007
Hi everybody.

I recently edited a commercial for the Southwest Airlines "Wanna  Get  Away" Sweepstakes.  I was wondering if any of you would be interested in going to the following link and voting for it:

The grand prize winner gets their commercial to become part of Southwest's national campaign.  The reason it's 20 seconds is because they will add the "Wanna Get Away" tag (10 seconds) to the end of the winning spot.  

Vote postive or negative - be honest - I don't mind.  On behalf of myself and the director, thanks a ton for checking it out! 

Feel free to leave comments.

Oh, and Bill: It was edited on a PC. 

But I wanted to edit it on a Mac!

posted by Brian Tue Mar 25, 2003
Film Review: Gladiator
Rating:3 star(s)

"Gladiator" is just the kind of moving epic the doctor has ordered to set the precedence for early 2000. Ridley Scott has finally made a film that I feel is as captivating as his work on "Blade Runner" and "Alien," yet strong enough to stand on its own as a fine piece of Hollywood cinema.

It doesn't take much to get me really excited about a movie. All I need is to be genuinely entertained so that I can justify the $8.50 loss and the box of butter logged popcorn that had been burning in the popper since the morning prior. I need the simple things: plot, emotion, depth, interesting visuals, and a convincing cast of characters. "Gladiator" successfully satisfied all of those needs, and added a hefty serving of classic revenge to the dish.

Okay, I exaggerate. Really, there isn't much of a plot . . . It's not that it's bad, it's just that it's simple: Roman General is betrayed by the evil Prince, his family is murdered, he's sold to slavery, he returns as a Gladiator to seek revenge. It's exactly the same plot structure of such great films as: "Road Warrior," "Lethal Weapon," and "Braveheart." Isn't it funny how Mel Gibson is in all three of those examples? I have a whole theory on that one, but for now, let's concentrate on the character Maximus.
Maximus is the aforementioned General/Gladiator, played by Russell Crowe. His character is a little one dimensional, but so is the plot, so he fits in well. His acting nonetheless is fantastic along these lines, as is his nemesis, Commodus, played by Joaquin Phoenix.

Actually, to be fair, Commodus now wears the crown as one of the most annoying movie characters I have ever seen. This REALLY worked for his role as the antagonist in the plot because I wanted to see him die in a new creative way for every minute that the film played on (which would total an astounding 154 times!)

"Gladiator" is simply a very good revenge movie, nothing more. So if you're looking for a deep analytical cross-section of ancient Roman culture, try the library. Many people feel that a lot more could have been done in the film to preserve the historical integrity of the era, but is it really that important? This movie is two hours and thirty-four minutes long. You can watch it in a day. Rome was not built in a day.

The movie is a fun story. It's not a historic beacon of factual evidence, not an in-depth look into the motivations of Marcus Aurelius - it is a very entertaining legend of deceit and revenge. For this I applaud Ridley Scott.
Now on to visuals: if there is one thing I cannot stand about the excessive proliferation of computer graphics in today's media-world, it's all the damn critics that pop up along the way. I am just tired of reading articles, and listening to my more critical friends, as they go on and on about how the graphics in "Gladiator" were on par with the likes of South Park. I am referring to the film's extensive use of CGI to make a bigger Rome, a bigger battlefield, and a bigger coliseum. And by the way people, if you're going to criticize, at least take note on how the word "coliseum" is spelled, I had a God-awful time just trying to get past that, let alone look for a creditable review.

The computer work in "Gladiator" was fantastic. The scenes were truly spectacular, and John Mathieson's cinematography was exceptional. I'm not sure if several of the scenes were skip-bleached at the lab, but the color drain really helped to add to the dullness and monotony of war (a la "Saving Private Ryan"). As for any "flaw" in the seams between CGI and live-action - if there were any, I wasn't paying attention.

Like everyone my age, I grew up playing on a (now little known) gaming system called "Atari." If the manual said that the big beige block on the screen to the left was the enemy you've been looking for, you didn't ask any questions, you believed it. There wasn't any time to "Save your progress" or reset the stage before you died. You worked all damn day to get to level 26 and you'd kill a loved one to make sure that the game marches on.

"Gladiator" presented me with a HUGE vision of Rome, and so long as a giant beige block didn't come pounding through the walls of the coliseum, I was ready to believe that we were actually there. I don't care if there was a matte line in scene 32. I was way too busy paying attention to the story. That's what films are right? Visual stories?

"Gladiator" gets three out of four stars. It's a hit. Go enjoy a good story. Leave the kids at home with Sega and a babysitter.

posted by Brian Tue Mar 25, 2003
Film Review: Gone In 60 Seconds
Rating:0 star(s)

It's midnight on June the 20th. It has taken me three days to recover from the deep-rooted depression that has ravaged my body since a late night viewing of this movie. The fog has slightly lifted, the torturous ringing of preposterous one-liners has finally muffled itself enough to make room for this damaged mind to formulate at least a slight inkling of what went VERY wrong with this storyline.

Please bare with me. I have just been deeply scarred by the film industry. The air is right and the time has come to unleash the fury of film reviewer hell on a happy little story, in a happy little flick called "Gone in 60 Seconds".

Are you ready?

I know I am.

Here we go!

Gone in 60 Seconds is a very enlightening movie. It has opened my mind and redefined every last parameter, every last investigative tool that I have employed in the past to assess my judgement of a story.

Gone in 60 Seconds IS . . . And as God is my witness, WILL REMAIN TO BE the WORST film of the entire year.

I know this as a FACT. I know my tastes. And I make an oath to my readers that as long as I review movies, Gone in 60 Seconds will be used as the BAROMETER of SUCK, against which all other films will be judged. IF at ANY time, YOU, as my readers detect that I have, in fact, deemed another film more USELESS than this one, I PROMISE that I will offer you a prize and a guest interview spot on the People Who Bring You Things SuperSite - You're ONE STOP for honest and hard-hitting movie reviews.

With that said, I'll stop capitalizing so many words. It gets kind of annoying after a while.

Nicholas Cage is Randall "Memphis" Raines, a legendary retired car thief who really only "did it for the cars." He's been trying to go straight for a number of years, but wouldn't you know it - - his idiot brother (Giovanni Ribisi) was trying to follow in his footsteps and screwed up a car "boost," thereby landing himself in a heap of trouble with a crappy villain named Raymond Calitri (Christopher Eccleston). What in the world are we going to do? Is this the end of poor Ribisi's life as we know it?

Oh wait . . . Here comes the snappy Memphis Raines ready to jump out of retirement and save his brother's life. All he has to do is steal 50 cars in four days. Raymond Calitri, tries to bully Cage with his intimidating British accent, but Cage is just too coy. We are treated with a tasty platter his cool handed wit and rebuttal, later followed by a sizeable selection of what I call the "Sensitive Cage Shots," (See Figure 1).
What the hell is the motivation behind all of these medium shots in Cage movies anyway? Always the same shot, (See Figure 1). Always the same blank, I'm sensitive to the needs of my character look, (See Figure 1). Always the change of timbre in the sound design, (Hear Figure 1).

In case you've found yourself looking away for a moment. . . (See Figure 1).

So where were we? Oh yea, he's stealing cars. And a damn good car thief he turns out to be. He uses a strange technique. It's called: "get a hold of Robert Duvall, make sure that he's playing the worst role of his career, get a couple of silly-but-tough black men, a mute mortician-poet, and an arm piece, I mean, God's gift to lipstick, Angelina Jolie." Now good ol' Memphis has got the firepower he needs to score 50 cars in what has now turned out to be two days.

Oh there's all the hooks: Angelina Jolie is the old girlfriend, but we don't know that right away. She's pissed and doesn't want to help, but triumphantly arrives in the nick of time. There's the nice sentimental moment with Robert Duvall (a.k.a. Otto Halliwell - like it really matters) as they remember that they used to listen to audio tapes of car engines and guess the make and model - rather handy that he had one cued up for the moment (it had only been five years!). Oh yea, then there's the good old mute mortician who everybody's afraid of, but reveals in the end that he is a sensitive poet with kind-spirited eloquence. Oh and then there's the hot-on-the-tail-roughneck-renegade-I'm gonna get you sukka-cop (Detective Roland Castlebeck played by Delroy Lindo) who's found "in the middle of a morale dilemma" after our swashbuckling hero leaps into the action and saves his life from the clutches of our evil British antagonist.

I knew that there was a sentimental feeling in all of these moments because the movie told me there was. After all, isn't a cue change in the music score all that's needed for an engaging emotional scene? It doesn't really matter what kind of character development or explanation is given, just throw in some sappy lines and change the record. That's what this movie is made for right - selling CDs? We've got a huge soundtrack budget, let's buy up the latest from Crystal Method and Moby! Oh, and when there's black people we'll play rap!

Who can mistake the beauty and mystique of the art of stealing? Memphis Raines romanticizes every moment with the grace of a bread van. He talks delicately to car hoods, gives each car a female name (I call this review "Ethel" in case you were wondering), he even has a trendy car stealing outfit. And Angelina Jolie comes down from an Oscar studded season to act out the worst tough girl impersonation since the Spice Girls. At least that's what I could tell from the fifteen minutes she was actually in the movie. Oh that's right, now I remember, she was just cast for breasts.

The problem with this film is that it lacks EVERYTHING. It is for this reason that I have declared it "the worst film of the year" already. I'm positive that there are both films that I haven't seen, and films that will come out in the future that have had, or will have, less production value than this one, but that doesn't necessarily mean they will be poorer selections. This movie tries to disguise itself as a good story. It markets itself as "one of the season's best" and there are people that believe it. This makes it the worst kind of insult available to the world. It's a direct kick in the face to intelligent consumers. Therefore, as stated, my next film review will be rated against the relative measure of SUCK that this movie has pressed on to the market. It has redefined everything.
It OWES ME four stars, and $8.00!

posted by Brian Tue Mar 25, 2003
Film Review: Titan AE
Rating:4 star(s)

Don Bluth's latest wacky animated adventure marks his first return to good movie making since "The Secret of Nimh." I am referring to "Titan A.E.", or "After Earth" for the anal.

First Impression: Stupid title - sounds like it's trying to be cool.

Current Impression: This movie's pretty cool.

Matt Damon is the voice behind our hero "Cale," who tromps around the universe with an attractive young lady named "Akima" (Drew Barrymore - thank God not a look-a-like). Earth has been destroyed and the human race teeters on the brink of extinction, and all I can think about in the theater is how ironic it is that there is still a hot girl flying around in the cosmos. And Cale is a handsome young man, conveniently the same age. What happened to all the fat and old people? Were they left behind on purpose? Who wrote this thing anyway? And God is my mouth salty. I should have bought that soda for $2.50.

I spent a lot of the time watching the movie in this kind of third person perspective. I was not impressed with the plot development, I was not blown away by the tension, I was not surprised by the ending, I did not mourn for the humans, I don't know whether I put the dog out before I left the house, I DID NOT anticipate one plot twist - wow I'm back in the story.

The point is . . . There is no point. There really isn't any reason behind the entire plot other than "this movie is meant to be an all around good time." It's a formula story. We're hit with a dozen or more of these kinds of Hollywood escapades every season. The difference is merely that this movie is a ton of fun to watch and every other one is directed by Chris Columbus.

It's simply got everything: blood, action, explosions, deception, laser blasts, weird aliens, long ships, great sound, wonderful animation, and a butt shot - well, unfortunately it's Cale's - but hey, animation is finally appealing more to adults. It's a far cry better than the yearly Disney vacuum that sucks every element of reality out of the known universe and re-deposits it in the form of tailor-made sedatives, suited to dull the developing mind into wild cravings for happy colored merchandise. This movie has got style, and for that I hail it. The story can be left at the door - somewhere between the ticket ripper and the snack stand. Just enjoy every one of its ninety-four exciting minutes and don't think too hard.

As for its comparison to Gone in 60 Seconds on the rating scale (see my review of Gone for further explanation):

This film is rated: (out of 1600 burning Criterion Collection DVD releases of Gone In 60 Seconds - The Higher the Better)


SUMMARY: I would rather look at an animated version of Matt Damon's ass, than try and find any family resemblance between Nicolas Cage and Giovanni Ribisi.

browse all from Brian


set cookie
Image of the Moment
Who's Online?
 no members online
and 13 guests