Movie Review: Hunger

Not something I saw in theaters, but I wanted to talk about it briefly.   Directed by Steve McQueen (rough having to live in a legend’s shadow – this guy might want to use a middle initial), Hunger is an English film about Northern Ireland that was made in 2008.

It starts off somewhat slow and for the most part there are about 30 minutes of dialogue in the entire film – the majority coming from one scene – which plays in one long shot.  Visually, the movie is striking.  And Bobby Sands, although we don’t meet him until later – is definitely who/what we gravitate towards.  I was waiting for the end credits to roll to see who plays him – and was astonished to see it was Michael Fassbender.  I’ve seen his name go flying around for various roles recently and kept asking myself, what’s up with this guy?  Well, now I know.  He’s awesome.

The movie is definitely hard to watch, as it depicts awful prison conditions and then the final, horrible days of Bobby Sands – who died while on a hunger strike.  This topic is somewhat dear to me as I support a united Ireland and, although don’t always support their methods, support the IRA.

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Bulderlyns Coming Along…

Just got this character design in from Karol (via the artist Igor).  It is of Urlacher, one of the creatures in Bulderlyns.  If you can’t tell – the bad one.

The first and second stages of his growth are great, the third needs a little elbow grease. He shouldn’t have long legs like that, he should be much thicker, and just more massive overall. Nothing that a talented artist can’t solve.

Gearing up for my Podcast

I’ve spent the last month or so working with Rob Scarpelli on bringing a film news podcast, 35 Movie Minutes, to life.  Rob is an extremely talented radio guy, behind and in front of the mic… and I was fortunate enough to catch him at the right time.  I’ve been sitting on this idea for quite some time and Rob jumped on board.  Since then we’ve been putting the production elements of the show together and fine tuning things.

Basically, it is a weekly show that offers listeners the last week of substantial Hollywood news in about a half hour.  Of course, it will be infused with our opinions.  But essentially, we want to give the audience the facts in a straight forward and entertaining way.  There are a bunch of decent film related podcasts out there right now: KCRW’s The Business with Kim Masters, Filmspotting with Adam Kenpennar and Matty Robinson, and SlashFilmcast with David, Devindrah and Adam… but they are more or less open discussions and revolved around reviews or discussing a certain film or two.

It’s looking like late August we’ll go live, or at least be up and running and ready to go live.  So stay tuned.

Movie Review: Mother

After seeing haunting Memories of Murder and the really fun The Host, I was excited to see Joon-ho Bong’s Mother.  It also came with rave reviews from my buddy Dikran, whose opinion I really respect.

Like the two previous movies I went in knowing just about nothing in regards to the plot, which is pretty refreshing.  I think sometimes we are inundated with trailers and sales material that sometimes you walk into a movie having felt like you’ve already seen it.  I’m glad I didn’t because this movie was exactly what i had hoped from Bong.

A serious mystery/drama with elements of humor that only exists in Asian films for some reason, this wasn’t as creepy or entwining as Memories of Murder, but as a character study was a much more vibrant film.

We follow Mother, the aptly named mother to a somewhat dim adult, Do-joon, who still lives at home.  He’s been arrested for the murder of a teenage girl… and his mother sets out to clear his name.  Dedicating her every waking second to restoring her son’s name and bringing him home, she goes from down on her luck to rock bottom… but never gives up her fight.  Hye-ja Kim gives the performance of a lifetime as Mother, the best female performance I can recall in recent cinema. Apparently a well-known television star in Korea, Bong does an excellent job of subverting her role here.

But this is no mere character study, the case takes some extremely interesting twists and turns and has the audience guessing about who the killer reallly is the entire time.  And the ending will definitely surprise you.

Bong shows that he is truly becoming a master of cinema.  His name should be right up there with the leaders in other parts of the world, such as Fincher and Aronofsky.  I wonder when he will make the jump across the pond, if ever.

Hell of a Day

I intended to write this post last night, in the heat of the moment, but I wound up crashing pretty hard.

Due to my fighting hobby, my ear started to cauliflower.  This past week I have been sparring with the best guys at the gym.  And in doing so, I was getting my butt kicked and it was great – but I was also taking some punishment on that ear.  It wound up blowing up and yesterday I had to go get it drained.  I made the mistake of thinking it was a simple procedure.  I went to my general doctor, who immediately looked at it and said – ‘Oh, I wish I knew that’s what you were coming in for.  I can’t do this.’  Well, doc, I let the receptionist know.  Maybe you should actually talk to your employees.
So he sends me to a plastic surgeon.  But before I go I have to hit the lab and get bloodwork done.  The guy taking blood made me wait 30 minutes, and in doing so I was late to the surgeon.  He had to go into surgery.  So another doctor agreed to do it, but I had to drive to a different hospital’s ER.  An hour later I was getting my ear drained.  If my insurance doesn’t cover all of it I am f*$ked.  We’ll see in the next week or two…
Either way, about six hours for a 20 minute procedure was awesome.  And now I’m out for at least a week.  Just as I was starting to train hard again.

Movie Review: The Girl Who Played with Fire

Not only was I able to catch Salt, but I made it to the theater two days in a row.  This time I got to check out Stieg Larsson’s The Girl Who Played with Fire – the second of the Millennium Trilogy after The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

If you haven’t read my review of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, then I will preface this review by stating that I was a pretty big fan of that film.  So I was really excited to see this one… and while I thoroughly enjoyed it, I must say that it wasn’t as good as the first one.  The characters are all back for the most part – and are for the most part great, but I think the mystery of the first is much stronger.

In this, we get a young wanna-be journalist trying to expose a sex-trafficking ring. He approaches Millennium to publish his story and is soon killed… setting off a string of events that pulls Blomqvuist and Lisbeth back into the fire.

Bad pun intended.  If you aren’t aware of this series, I highly recommend the catching both of these, if not the books (I plan to read them, but I have a lot on my plate right now).  And I cannot wait for David Fincher’s remake.

Movie Review: Salt

It has been way too long since I was able to not only post but actually get out to a theater and catch a new release.  I’ve been sparring in the mornings lately, which helps free me up a bit… So I caught Phillip Noyce’s Salt.

Right from the opening scene we are thrust into a roller coaster ride that just doesn’t let you up for air the entire 99 minutes.  The first half, particularly, is extremely fast-paced and go-go-go… and definitely keeps the audience on their toes.  Making you guess if Salt is who she says she is and always staying a step ahead of where your guess is.  It is a fun movie, even if the wheels spin off towards the end a bit.

Jolie looks great here and she is pretty awesome overall – even if some of the action is extremely unbelievable.  Liev Shreiber, who I guess is a great actor – but I say that more because that sentiment is crammed down our throats more than my actual opinion – is actually really good in this movie.  And the rest of the cast is great as well.

Spoilers:

The biggest problem I have with the film occurs about 3/4 of the way through – when we find out that Evelyn Salt is actually a Russian Spy.  The twist however is that she is not going to rise up on Day X, but fight back against her Russian handler/creators.  Salt’s motivations for doing this are just never truly explained.  Has she fallen in love with America and her new life?  Is she just anti-war?  Has she abandoned her Russian heritage and mission?  They try and set this up with her German husband – and them killing him, but he isn’t killed until after she makes her decision.  So, although fun, once you leave and start to ask questions the train went far off the tracks…