Monday, August 31, 2009

A Plea [WANT]

Look. I was away from the internet for 10 hours the day this went on sale. So, yeah, I missed it. And I'm not happy. I want this poster. So. Here's my plea.

If you bought this poster and you are like "CRAP! I need that money! Why did I buy this poster?!?!" then you let me know. And I will buy it from you. Plus like, an extra 10 bucks or something. That's how badly I want this poster.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I Would Stock up on tickets to Taking Woodstock

(that title's the best I could do. no time to spellcheck the names. rewatching BSG awaits)

Semi-spoiler alert. If you like going in blind, wait until after you see the movie to read this.

I've never been a huge fan of Ang Lee. I was on the fence about Brokeback Mountain, was bored by Ride with the Devil and let's not even get into The Hulk. So I was nervous going into Taking Woodstock. It's a time period I love and an event I was looking forward to seeing dramatized. I did not want it to suck.

And I do not exaggerate when I say not only did this movie NOT suck, but Taking Woodstock is hands down one of my favorites of 2009.

My fears were put to rest during the first scene, right after Imelda Staunton (in an academy worthy performance) speaks her first line. For the whole rest of the film, I found my face plastered with a giant smile. You wouldn't expect it, but this movie is HILARIOUS. It's whimsical, delightful, full of joy, and I laughed more throughout than I have at most flat out comedies this year.

While relatively light on plot, Woodstock is heavy on character, relationships, true human moments, sharp dialogue and brilliant performances. Even Demitri Martin, though clearly not as skilled as his co-stars, completely holds his own. Weak at certain times, strong at other times and mostly mediocre, Martin still manages to affect the audience. I wonder if his lack of acting ability somehow works to the film's benefit. He is extremely relatable & seems extra wide-eyed compared to the grounded pros acting up a storm around him.

Both Imelda Staunton & Henry Goodman deliver stellar performances and are the emotional backbone of Woodstock. I've never seen Staunton this hilarious and Goodman, who may go through the most development of any character, is now officially on my radar. The fantastic acting work extends to all of the supporting actors - Emile Hirsch (in what I personally think is his best performance. He's almost losing his eternal smugness! Yay!), Liev Schrieber, an almost unrecognizable Paul Dano and more.

One of my favorite aspects of Taking Woodstock is how immersed in the environment I felt. For two hours (An Ang Lee movie that's under two hours?!?!?!) I felt like I was there, in the sun, in the mud, in the open fields or stuck in the crowds marching for miles so as not to miss Dylan's possible (and ultimately non-existent) appearance. One shot that went on for a good five minutes, continuously, followed Elliot (Martin) as he treked through that crowd leading up to Max Yasgur's (Eugene Levy) farm. I actually felt like I was walking past people selling fruit (including two competing watermelon stands, one selling melons for 25 cents, one for 35 cents), performance art, protests, drug-selling, and more. Utilizing the same split screen technique as Woodstock, the documentary, also helped in this respect. We got to see 3-4 scenes happening all at once, the sound deliberately and delicately becoming louder during the dialogue that most needed our attention.

It also must be said that this movie featured the most accurate acid trip I have ever seen on film. From the way the colors pop & bleed to the way it makes you feel when someone else touches your arm to the overwhelming bliss it inspires in your heart (when you're having a good trip...disclaimer...don't do acid...), this trip sequence was right on. So much so, that it brought tears to my eyes. You will know why when you see it. Some things are just beautiful.

Which brings me to the overall point of this review. I haven't been inspired to write a review in a long time, but Taking Woodstock just did it for me. It was simple, it was sweet, and it was, to quote the last word of the movie, beautiful.

P.S. Warning: I do get the sense that this kind of movie is very get-it or don't-get-it. While it resonated with me, my friends and my family (people who identify with the hippie culture/way of thinking or were hippies themselves in the 60s), it may not inspire the same reaction in everyone. But I hope it does, cause the film was a wonderful experience.

Grade: A-

Possible Oscar Nominations: Supporting Actress, Supporting Actor, Art Direction, Costume Design, Best Adapted Screenplay
See full post

First Hand Gundam Video

ATFG's own "david, the token boy" fulfilled a very special request of ours (well...of EruditeChick's and our podcast buddies', @timothyreese and @scarletscribe. I do not yet understand the majesty of GundumGundam in Tokyo! And filmed it. So here it is, the GundumGundam, narration by david.

[ED: holy crap that's awesome gunDAMN- Gundam Wing fangirl, Erudite Chick] See full post

Sunday, August 23, 2009

True or False?

So far, 2009 is kicking 2008's ass in terms of great, solid movies.

True or False?

Check it out. By this time last year we had Cloverfield, Iron Man, Wall-e & The Dark Knight. And 27 Dresses if you count silly romantic comedies. Around this time, Tropic Thunder & Pineapple Express were coming out, but frankly, Tropic was overrated and Pineapple ended up appealing mostly to those who were high when they saw it. Myself included.

On my facebook profile, I keep a running tab of which movies I've seen every year. If I loved them, I put a star beside the title. Last year around this time, maybe 3-4 movies had stars. Here are this year's starred films so far:

My Bloody Valentine 3D*
Coraline 3D*
17 Again*
Star Trek* (seen x2)
Drag Me To Hell*
A Serious Man*
The Hangover*
Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince*
500 Days of Summer*
GI Joe*
District 9*
Inglourious Basterds*

(My Bloody Valentine, Knowing & GI Joe all fall in the same category of awesomely fun & stupid...well Knowing's audacious ridiculousness kind of transcends that and creates its own special kind of amazing but that's another discussion for another time. I'm having trouble remembering if any awesomely stupid movies came out in 2008 at all!)

You see what I mean? Yes last year brought me Let the Right One In, and thank goodness for that, but this year has brought me Star Trek, Up, Drag Me To Hell, Thirst, D9, Inglourious Basterds and moves I haven't seen that people love like The Hurt Locker & In The Loop...and it's only August.

Am I crazy here? Some people agree with me whole heartedly and others completely disagree.

What do you think? Is 2009 shaping up to be remembered as an amazing year for cinema? See full post

My 16 Minutes With Avatar [Guest Blogger Alert! Scarletscribe!]

My 16 Minutes With Avatar

Yesterday was Avatar Day, and at the last minute I found
myself in attendance for the 6 pm showing at NYC's AMC Loews in
Lincoln Square. (The theater and I have a long history together that
mostly goes back to me drooling over The Dark Knight in IMAX
and feeling insanely dizzy thanks to Harry Potter and the Order of
the Phoenix in IMAX 3-D.)

Three things you should know about me before we get started: 1. I love
IMAX, I love 3-D, and IMAX 3-D is always a treat for me when it's well
done, 2. While I was curious about the Avatar footage, I
wasn't planning to attend Avatar Day until the opportunity
fell in my lap, and 3. I actually liked the Avatar trailer
that was shown earlier this week though I cared little for the design
of the Na'vi alien race.

Worthington and his avatar counterpart.
Worthington and his Na'vi-like avatar counterpart.

Now that we have that out of the way, we can get started on what
really matters: the footage itself. Amounting to about 16 minutes, the
scenes came from various points throughout Avatar, though
James Cameron -- via IMAX and not in person -- assured us they were
all from the first half of the film and did not contain spoilers.

Unfortunately, this movie looks to be so paint-by-numbers that
spoiling the audience is a given once they know the premise. As I
wrote on Twitter last night, "Avatar: visually impressive, but I'm not
sold on the script/story." That's because, Avatar, for all
its shiny new paint and CGI, is a story you've seen before.

But first, let's discuss the positives. Avatar is gorgeous
and takes full advantage of everything IMAX 3-D has to offer. Though I
did not initially like the Na'vi design, their close-ups -- complete
with slight twitches of the ear and lifelike eyes -- quickly endeared
me to them. Between their expressive eyes and ears, the Na'vi are
clearly aimed at triggering the
oh-my-goodness-I-love-puppies-and-kittens-and-everything-cute part of
your brain. And it works, allowing you to quickly forget any doubts
you may have had regarding their cartoonish look.

Their appearance does get in the way later on, though. It's a bit
disconcerting, and more than a little incongruous, to witness Sam
Worthington's voice coming out of an adorably blue Na'vi as it says,
"Whatchu got?! Oh yeah who's bad? That's right. Yeah that's what I'm
talking 'bout bitch!"

Of course, this line arrives just as Worthington's character, Jake, is
scaring off a predator only to find out that a bigger, more
threatening creature is behind him and that's the real reason why his
foe backed down. It's a scene you've seen a thousand times before and
the only cause you have for liking this version is that it's a tad
prettier and in IMAX 3-D.

In fact, the visuals seem to be the only reason to watch
Avatar at the moment, since you've pretty much already seen
this movie several times -- only back then you called it
Pocahontas, Ferngully: The Last Rainforest, or
Dances with Wolves. That Cameron wanted to make his own take
on the classic tale about the outsider gone native is not a problem.
The film industry and practically all of entertainment is about taking
the same couple of stories and themes and recycling them for new
audiences, after all. The problem is that Cameron's interpretation
doesn't appear to have anything new to offer audiences.

Though you may not be able to predict the lines word for word, you can
certainly tell where certain scenes and characters may be headed, and
the footage shown on Avatar Day only served to reinforce my
fears about the hackneyed plot. We see foolhardy, human-born Jake
being taken under the wing of the native Na'vi, participating in a
tribal ritual and then -- from what I can tell based upon the montage
of scenes that followed -- the Na'vi fighting against the humans, and
Jake being forced to straddle the line between the two.

Again, these views are only based upon the 16 minutes shown on
Avatar Day. I'm not disputing that Avatar will
likely be a fun and entertaining watch, but from what I can tell
there's no reinvention of the wheel going on here plotwise. It looks
to be a passable story that's riding by on its visual effects.

I should also note that I'm not writing about this in order to
dissuade people from seeing it. Kids will absolutely love it and, if
you can tolerate or even like the story, you'll certainly want to take
it for a spin. Cameron's team has accomplished much in the realm of
graphics and motion capture, and Avatar will likely set the
pace for a generation of films to come thanks to its technical

But unless Cameron pulls out some amazing stops in terms of plotting
and characterization, this film won't be very memorable aside from the
visuals it has to offer. This is disappointing, because for the
groundbreaking film it is graphically it deserves to have a much
better story and longer staying power. For all the years that were
spent working on the look of Avatar, I wish that more time
had been spent with the script.

Crossposted from I Went There
See full post


I would totally believe that this exchange occurred before the shooting of Inglourious Basterds

Tarantino: Yo Fassbender
Fassbender: Yo Tarantino
T: So in this movie, I'm gonna make you look just like Laurence Olivier did during World War II and you are going to watch all of his movies and channel him in your performance. You dig?
F: Dug!

Check it out:

(Notice the stache)

(Fassbender slightly more forlorn, Olivier slightly more...Shakespearean? But you see what I mean)

This rings especially true when you remember what Michael Fassbender ACTUALLY looks like

I rest my case.

P.S. Inglourious Basterds was...incredibus fantasterds!
doesn't work as well as District 9 blew my District Mind, does it?

Update: Inglourious Basterds was a Euphorious Masterds-piece! Done and done.

Update #2: Apparently Fassbender said he was "inspired" by George Sanders. But...I STAND BY MY POST. ... The end. See full post

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Why the War of the Worlds Remake Sucked

Spoiler: Giant robots attack the Earth, everyone dies.


This is a four year old movie that I saw once and never thought about again, because it was cool, but kinda meh. Until the end, and then it sucked. But it's Spielberg, you say! Yes, I say. Which is why I was so disappointed. Anyway, it's on ABC right now, and just thinking about the last forty seconds of the movie (about 7 hours away, at this point in the film's progression) kinda pissed me off.

So, why did Steven Spielgberg's War of the Worlds suck? You can talk about his daddy issues taking over the story like they always do, you can talk about the questionable strength of the 'our superior immune systems beat their bajillion light year into the future technology by letting the piddly remnants of our race outlast their killing spree'. But in truth, Spielberg's WotW suckness can be pinpointed on a single detail that for me was like a kick to the face after what could have been a passable film.

The snot-nose teenage son survives. He turns his back on his family, run over a hill into heavy napalm blasts, where everyone is being destroyed by giant killer robots from space, he disappears for half the movie...

And then walks up the street at the end kinda dirty lookin', but otherwise like it was no big deal. Fuck that. Talk about taking all the bite out of your work. Are you serious, Steven? So after all that crap, about Tom Cruise finally stepping into the role of father and taking care of his children, the kid that says 'fuck off' and runs headfirst into an explosive warzone, he's fine. Survived it on his own. Way to completely undermine any point you could have possibly been trying to make, as well as diminish any loss the viewer could have connected to directly. Their whole family survives and is together again to rebuild both humanity and their family anew.


Oh, here comes the scene. Where after watching probably ten thousand people in a matter of seven hours get brutally massacred, instead of running the hell away with his dad, he decides to... join the military, which is totally ineffectual against its enemy and commit suicide?

"I need to be here, I need to see this, you need to let me go." So... a part of father hood is letting go of your children when they've become adults?

Fine. Tom Cruise lets him go. That's fine for Tom Cruise's character. But no way in hell did that little punk survive the giant fireball of aliens that came over that ridge if the US Military didn't.

Fail, Steven. Fail. See full post

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


this trailer is so awkward. almost as awkward as the fact that the very thought of this movie makes me sexually aroused in public.

and werner herzog filmed in the san diego convention center!? whwaaaaatttawhatt? if only he had inexplicably filmed during the middle of comic-con…

[cross-posted from The Ecstatic Truth See full post

I Hope You Mean This Ironically, 90210

Look at this picture. Really look at it.

Could it BE anymore grossly LA?

Hence, I hope this shot is somehow used ironically when it airs, 90210. Cause...yikes. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

Then again...I take that back. I hope you DO mean this picture. I hope you take it 100% seriously. Cause then I can continue to laugh at how bad you are and enjoy doing so with my whole heart. If you are in on the joke, the show gets a lot less awesome. KEEP BEING DUMB. Fight the power. See full post


And now for today's edition of Awesome/Sucks!

Theme for 8/19/09: People are idiots



See full post

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Mini Review: Y: The Last Man

More instant messaging inspired funtimes.

@ronpurtee: that Brian K Vaughan is good writerer
@eruditechick: he sure is
@ronpurtee: can you liken Y to anything?
@eruditechick: what?
@ronpurtee: how good it is? is it preacher good?

(and now, the review)

@eruditechick: It is unsurpassed in its genre. I have never read or seen anything before or since that was as emotionally complicated, realistically presented, or deeply explored but with perfect timing, pacing and brevity. Y: The Last Man is a masterwork.
@ronpurtee: wow
@eruditechick: yuip.

I found something close, though, recently: The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, but in very different ways.

david, you are exempt from commenting, since we all know how vehemently you disagree, and also, you don't count because you left us for Japan, you lousy hooer. See full post

An Open Letter to Bryan Singer

Just cuz he'll never read it, doesn't mean it doesn't need to get wrote.

First, here's how it happened:

friend: oh also, tangent, bryan singer BSG reimagining, wtf?
eruditechick: WHAT
eruditechick: THE
eruditechick: EFF
eruditechick: BRYAN SINGER, WTF
friend: i irrationally hate it
friend: seriously
friend: in ways I very rarely irrationally dislike things, I dislike this
eruditechick:i have a rational for hating it
eruditechick: dear bryan
eruditechick: after one of the most controversial and argued endings
eruditechick: to one of the greatest science fiction shows of all time
eruditechick: why don't you effing REMAKE IT
eruditechick: less than SIX MONTHS after it airs
eruditechick: oh, wait, you just decided to?
eruditechick: because it's such a good idea?
eruditechick: and you'll be able to take such a fresh spin on it? since it's such an old property
eruditechick: and nobody holds any expectation in their minds
eruditechick: of how it should look or sound or feel or who the characters are?
eruditechick: awesome.
eruditechick: good luck.
eruditechick: douche.
friend: i think you should write that letter
friend: that is perfect
eruditechick: LOL
friend: especially where you call him a douche, that is the best part
eruditechick: as my lady wishes

So, here we go.

Dear Mr. Singer,

After one of the most controversial and argued endings to one of the greatest science fiction shows of all time, why don't you effing REMAKE IT, less than SIX MONTHS after it airs. Oh, wait, you just decided to? Because it's such a good idea? And you'll be able to take such a fresh spin on it? Since it's such an old property and nobody holds any expectation in their minds of how it should look or sound or feel or who the characters are?

Awesome. Good luck.


Sincerely Yours,

Alan Alda

(I feel, for the health of the blog, after Shia showed up and commented and all that, I should use a pseudonym. Just a precautionary measure.)

See full post

Monday, August 17, 2009


It will happen for real soon! And when it does - SQUEEE!

So I just randomly decided to start a new feature called Awesome/Sucks. This will focus on what I'm generally thinking is awesome today and what I generally think sucks.

Sunday night double whammy of True Blood & Mad Men returns. With a vengence. (beware of spoilers)

I was nervous going into the Sunday night line up because my expectations are HIGH AS HELL for both True Blood & Mad Men. This season of TB has SO far surpassed season 1, that a part of me got terrified that suddenly everything would all fall apart. Because. Seriously. How is this season so brilliant? If I were someone watching TB for the first time on DVD, when I got to midway through season two I would have been like THIS IS WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT. YES. But now I have full confidence that the awesomeness will hold up for the final three eps of the season.



You heard me.

And then came the Mad Men season premiere. Again, I feared the episode wouldn't meet my expectations. But it did. Hells yeah it did. Also by featuring a sex scene that WINS. I've never seen a network show go as far as Mad Men did last night, and Sal didn't even get his clothes off! Then Don & Sal's moment through the window and - yup, you did it, Mad Men. Perpetually Petulant Pete (say that three times fast, I dare you) stayed true to the title I've bestowed upon him and Joan continued to be the queen of the world. Cannot wait to see what this season brings!

Mad Men Is Awesome

Kick Ass gets picked up by Lionsgate and my heart gets picked up by SAD

Obviously we all wanted Kick Ass to get nationwide distribution by a studio that wouldn't fuck with the final cut, but Lionsgate?! Notorious for being run by an asshole and having no clue how to market its movies Lionsgate?! AUUUGHHHH. It's not like Universal is doing any better right now (seriously, Universal, think about what's changed in your marketing department from last year to this year and FIX IT. FAST.) and I wouldn't necessarily trust Paramount to keep their hands off the finished product, but still. Sony just made District 9 a bonafide hit and even though they initially wanted Hit Girl to be a teenager, Screen Gems is down with hard Rs and would have brought along some of Sony's PR moxy. I also wish Warner Brothers would have jumped in there - they have some of the best marketing minds around and opened hard R 300. And happen to be my favorite studio. Yes. I have a favorite studio.

You know what's odd about this whole thing? Paramount, Lionsgate & Universal were the three studios completely absent from Comic Con this year, anything Saw related not-withstanding. I hear you saying "What about Iron Man 2?!" but please, that doesn't count. Paramount isn't handling the marketing for Iron Man 2, MARVEL is. Paramount is just the big guy distributer here. And you know, I can't even think of the last R rated movie Paramount distributed, let alone the last R rated movie they distributed that was a hit...

All that aside, ultimately, I would rather Kick Ass have the Paramount or Universal logo flash before its opening credits, rather than that damn lion next to that damn gate. Kick Ass deserves A list treatment and Lionsgate by nature distributes B movies. Sigh.

So that's what's awesome and what sucks today! The next time I'm equally thrilled and disappointed all at once, another entry of this new feature will appear!

Update: Last Paramount R rated success - Tropic Thunder. Though the film is widely considered to have underperformed. I Love You Man comes close, but it more Dreamworks than Paramount (the same way Iron Man is more Marvel than Paramount) Thanks to @filmnerdjamie & @thomasspurlin for helping me figure that out! See full post

To Walk A Mile In Someone Else's Weaponized Mecha Shoes

This is going to be a review of Neill Blomkamp's District 9. Eventually. I'm going to assume you have seen the movie. There will be spoilers. Eventually. The first part is about the build up to the release that's what she said so the spoilers won't be for a while. Okay, carry on.

I have not had the love affair with D9, in the months leading up to its release, that so many have had. When I first saw the trailer, I was of course excited- to be even teased with a glimpse of a movie that looked so raw and real, that was science fiction, that was about something gave my nerdy little heart a thrill. It's been such a rarity. To find these types of works I have mostly had to look back, and while I have a love of doing so, of watching and reading old and older science and speculative fiction, it felt like a jolt of promise. I looked forward to it.

Then there was the IGN fiasco. I learned of the District 9 contest through io9. It was stunning and disappointing, to say the least, that an exciting opportunity like the one presented by IGN was open only to males aged 18-24. The fact that they then created a seperate, but equal, contest for women just added insult to injury, and I found my excitement for the movie suddenly diminished. I had been happily participating in the viral campaign, had signed up both with the MNU (which I now feel bad about, I admit, I swear I tendered my resignation as soon as I left the theater, I swear) and to George the Alien's blog and newsletter. The depth of the world that the film had created was fascinating and rewarding, the use of Aliens to explore themes of humanity- a common trope but one worthy of revisiting, I feel, in fact necessary to revisit- had drawn me in and suddenly I felt expelled.

Now, I understand fully that no one who made the film had anything to do with creating the contest or its rules, but that wasn't the point. Someone down the line should have been aware and responsible enough to say, "Hey, this thing we're doing, you know it's completely disenfranchising an entire gender, right? Which isn't really in keeping with the point of the movie. Right?"

Right? Well, apparently not. At Comic Con, surrounded by FOR HUMANS ONLY signs and staying in a hotel with a large white armored car parked outside, I sadly found my enthusiasm tempered by feelings of resentment. I wasn't welcome. The signs may as well have said FOR BOYS ONLY. A little corner of the convention that would otherwise have been just so cool was now the He-Man Woman-Hater's Club, and I was annoyed. I had other things to focus on, though. Other really super awesome things.

Like Kick Ass. So I made due.

The result of this sense of alienation, however, was that I stopped following the movie in the weeks before opening. I saw no footage, I read no blogs. And when the movie was released, I avoided reviews. I didn't want to see it with anyone else's impressions of it in my mind. Happily distanced enough from the online community's D9 fervor, I went to see the movie with the expectation of being told an important story, well, and the expectation that the movie would actually meet that first expectation.

Which it did.

South Africa is a volatile, deeply complicated place to set any story, let alone one about Apartheid. Upon hearing that the film was set in Johannesburg, I was skeptical. Did the filmmakers think the audience would be unable to draw the intended parallels if the movie were set elsewhere? If the battle against the evil of prejudice is universal, couldn't it have been set anywhere, and the same parallels have been drawn?

Perhaps, but having see it, I am convinced that South Africa was the best choice of backdrop for this story, because prejudice is universal. Even those who have been so horribly degraded, abused, and repressed by a ruling crowd will do the same to a group they are afraid of or find inferior. The movie also offers an intimate connection with a city many are unfamiliar with, a gift to the audience from Blomkamp, who is of course a native.

The use of docu-style interviews and 'news' footage cleverly cements the world as fact for the viewer. The set up is quick, effective, and engrossing. By the time the camera deviates from its role as a character, representing the POV of the cameraman being dragged along, the audience no longer requires the buffer. We are the witnesses, now, we don't need someone else holding the camera for us. This transition for the viewer I found to be particularly well handled by Blomkamp, an organic and unobtrusive shift.

When Wikus leaves the labs, we leave the world of surveillance videos and hand-held cameras, although periodically through the rest of the action we are given glimpses through these eyes, because when Wikus leaves the lab he is our hero, where before he was a documentary subject.

The use of Wikus as our everyman is as conflicting and intelligent a choice as I've seen since Friedkin's hero Richard Chance in To Live and Die in LA. Wikus is not particularly likable. He's a bit wheedling, weak. He's a bit of a coward, and he doesn't display any impressive levels of intellect. He's middle management. And as if that weren't uninspiring enough, he's a racist. Sure, he's essentially harmless. He's trying to get through a job he has thanks to his father in law. He loves his wife. He's not a bad guy, but he sure as shit doesn't inspire much confidence, either in his superiors or the audience.

Yet you feel for Wikus. Intellectually, you know the type. He's only as racist as everybody else, he has no special malice in him. When he is forced to pull the trigger on the 'Praun' in the weapons-testing lab, he becomes us- sure, he can be racist. I mean, they're giant bugs. But he's not evil. When it's staring him the face, when he's been victimized, he knows the difference between good and evil. Being pejorative is one thing. Being physically violent is another. Yet even then Wikus doesn't bridge the two as being complimentary aspects of the same wrong.

The movie is a thick and saddening sedentary of wrongs, set down by all groups from all corners, that have built upon each other until they form what appears to be an insurmountable bedrock upon which the story is built.

Admirably, Blomkamp allows Wikus, one of our two protagonists, to remain a racist coward until the eleventh hour. After everything Wikus and 'Christopher Johnson' go through in the MNU's basement, you would think that camaraderie would be cemented. It isn't. The instant Wikus's expectations are betrayed, that the conditions of the deal change, he flies off the handle and makes a very bad move. The best that can be argued of his actions is that his rage does transcend racism. Specieism. Specism. However you'd like to put it. The violence he enacts has nothing to do with prejudice and everything to do with panic and anger- it is deplorable, but for different reasons than his actions before were deplorable. So that's progress, right?

The escalating action (which is badass like woah wtf and easy to follow holy cow) leads us to a moment that I, personally, hope desperately for in essentially every movie I've ever seen: The moment the hero takes up the responsibility of his role by sitting down in his single-pilot operated mobile suit, emerges from the wreckage, and kicks some ass. Blomkamp gave me this. He gave it to me and then took it the fuck away.

Wikus turns around and uses his ridiculously powerful, one of a kind mecha to run away, abandoning 'Christopher Johnson', abandoning his only chance at being saved from the infection that's transforming his body. The bastard turns and runs, and we are...

Maybe not mad. But disappointed. Has Wikus learned nothing? Has he really not found his balls, after everything? One selfish cowardly act after another leading to this supreme let down. We feel betrayed, because as impossible as the situation would be, we all hope that if it were us- as Wikus is us- we would step up.

Which he then does, spectacularly. Another transition that earns Blompkamp kudos is the progression of the film from clever social commentary to action flick. Given the inherent violence of the situation to begin with, the all out fracas that fills the last quarter of the movie feels natural. Violence begets violence. As the stakes for the players raise and their wants become increasingly overlapping and intertwined, the level of the violence, it stands to reason, escalates.

Then at the end, we're put back where we were at the beginning, in those same roles. When the shockwave from the mothership's thrusters roll through the city of Johannesburg, shattering every pane of glass it shudders, we are incrimentally pulled away, and away, and away, back to a distance where we see events through tv cameras and interviews. We're physically back to where we were, but we are fundamentally changed for having gotten so close that the way we see what we're shown, now, is different.

Well met, District 9.

There is then, of course, the matter of the button. We know, if the aliens are at all a more honorable people than we, that 'Christopher Johnson' will be back in three years. He promised. We do not know in what force he will arrive. We do not know if the aliens have a capacity for forgiveness great enough to rival what has been done to them. We do not know if 'Christopher Johnson' will survive the journey, either- the retelling may be left to his son.

What we do know is, Wikus now lives among the aliens, weeding through a consumer society's offal to find scraps with which to construct small, beautiful tokens, promises of his own to his wife.

It is with this final image that two things happen: The movie ends, and everyone in the audience says, to the person next to them, "Sequel." To which I say:

Please, no. That's all right, thank you. Not necessary. I have come up with so many scenarios in my head in the twenty four hours since I saw the movie, that a sequel holds very little potential but to be disappointing. Particularly for movie so well stylized and carefully constructed, a sequel will have many more opportunities to be bad than good. Can it be done, and well? Sure. I have faith in the creative team that, should they decide to make a sequel, it would be done with the same conviction and creativity as District 9. Hopefully that won't be for a while, though, if ever.

So, I would recommend seeing it. It's pretty damn good. It has a lot to say, and it says it well, in a way that is engaging and speaks to the most, and least, human parts of us.
See full post

Sunday, August 9, 2009

How to watch GI Joe

Got a text in my sleep from someone who I love very much who told me that he saw GI Joe and it made Transformers 2 look like The Godfather.


There is a whole post I need to write about the levels of "Awesome" a movie can be, ranging from legit amazing (Up is probably the only movie this year that has reached that so far) down to the kind of awesome/amazing that movies like Knowing and GI Joe are. Because as much as I loved GI Joe, I do not want you readers thinking I'm telling you GI Joe's level of quality matches something like Star Trek. Cause obviously it doesn't. And I fear that this text sender went into the movie thinking by "Amazing" I meant "Actual quality film" instead of "silly fun summer action DENNIS QUAID SAYS KNOWING IS HALF THE BATTLE movie with ninjas"

Which brings me to this quick word of advice. When I saw GI Joe, my friend and I sat down, looked at each other, said "this movie is going to be terrible", cracked open some beers, and it began. Right off the bat, we were like WHY ARE THEY IN OLDEN TIMES?! THIS IS AWESOME! And that pretty much sums up how the film went. Go see GI Joe to see some cool action and to laugh and to have an overall great time. Don't go in expecting The Dark Knight, people. Come on. See full post

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Thing/The Fly Double Feature AWESOMENESS

Amanda (@eruditechick), Dave (@Da7e) and I went to a sweet ass event last night, where we watched The Thing, semi-MST3000 style with a bunch of like-minded geeks. It was a double feature, but because I had some massive deadlines, we didn't stay for movie #2. Which makes me sad, cause, it's true, I haven't seen the fly. People transforming into things scares the crap out of me. Which I think was made fairly clear last night by my ever present screaming & shuddering.

Below is a video I shot (hence the awesome shaky cam...), edited by Dave, about our experience, for The Ecstatic Truth, a new joint venture between ATF & Dave & Genevieve from Latino Review. Watch it!

The Ecstatic Truth: Horror Double Feature from Dave Gonzales on Vimeo.

P.S. Here was the drinking game we played during The Thing.

Drink whenever:

1. Kurt Russell squints or looks confused
2. Someone dies
3. Someone in the audience screams or reacts to the film
4. Someone uses the flame thrower
5. There is blood
6. Something too awesome to comprehend happens (i.e. whenever Kurt Russell happens)
7. Someone drinks
8. There is a butt-shot

The game started out with only the first three but...we added more as the film went on...cause that's how we roll.

We started the game with only See full post

Second Act Trouble

With the leaking of the Iron Man 2 trailer, premiered at this year's San Diego Comic Con, my thoughts have turned rapturously toward said film's release. Even with the questionable audio and drastic contrast of the image quality, I was filled with a sudden rush of anticipatory glee- the return of Tony Stark to the silver screen, manic and insulated and beautiful, the further blooming of the newly planted seed that is the Avengers movie, a brand new Rhodey for a brand new day. I was lucky enough to see the footage in all its glory at the event itself and then speak to the cast, director and producer, but seeing it again broadcast in all its tinny, fuzzy glory on youtube has renewed what may only be described as my fervent lust-

Yes. I said it. My fervent. Lust.

-for this movie.

It is, however, tempered. How, one may ask, could anything so powerful as a fervent lust!!! be in any way tempered? And furthermore, after that court room scene alone, what concerns could I possibly be harboring?

Well, I'll tell you.

(Giant aside: Many believe Nolan's Batman franchise is the key progenitor of the new comic book movie genre, and I wouldn't fight them on it, but I'm not talking about comic books, strictly. There are many comics that are not, in fact, about superheros, and it is in fact the superhero, and in particular the Marvel superhero (as I am a Marvel fangirl through and through), that Iron Man, I feel, has done the most for.)

Bringing a cast like Jon Favreau did to Iron Man took a film that would have been cool and amusing and fun and made it awesome. Sheer geek-out brilliant awesome. Everything up until the well-done but admittedly uninspired showdown finale and everything after it set up a world in which I could actually believe in superheros. I Believe in Tony Stark. The world was complete enough and was filled with characters whole enough that I didn't question the validity or likelihood of the events taking place. I bought it lock stock and barrel. The science, given my essentially non-existent background in its principles, seemed sound to me. And now here comes the sequel. MOAR TONY STARK. I am excited to my toes, but I am wary, even with Favreau at the helm, of some sequel proclivities detracting from what could be a great franchise.

There are certain tag lines and buzz words that go hand in hand with sequels, particularly sequels to blockbusters, and particularly sequels to blockbuster action flicks. As far as I'm concerned, Iron Man raised the standard and severely dented the mold for superhero movies in much the same way Spider-Man 2 did. Things like "bigger and better". You hear that a lot: "We know that if we want this to work, we have to make it bigger and better than the first one." Typically, this means the sequel is longer and predictable, as it essentially follows the same basic plot patterns as the first film, just with more. The greatest and most damaging symptom of the Bigger and Better belief in superhero movies is the presence of multiple villains.

Burton made it work with Batman Returns, but since then, I am hard pressed to think of a single movie where the sudden and seemingly arbitrary inclusion of multiple villains has worked toward the ultimate success of the film. I understand how the Joker and Two Face feed each other and Batman's crisis in Dark Knight, but I still found the handling of both plots and both characters unwieldy. Frankly, when you have the Joker, you don't need anyone else. I loved Eckhart's performance and, given the tragic events that followed the filming of the movie, it is ultimately a blessing for the franchise that they did introduce and cultivate a second villain, but I don't think the movie needed two.

In Iron Man 2 we have the traditional and, for my part, traditionally worrying introduction of a new slew of characters. We are re-establishing Rhodey; we are meeting the Black Widow; and we have two villains. One is our powerhouse, our physical threat to the hero, and the other is our non-combatant back up. Intelligently on Favreau's part, they are not exclusively these roles: Whiplash doesn't have minions doing his work for him. He is himself a genius inventor. His suit is his own creation. He is dangerous and capable. Justin Hammer is not a nerdy weakling, his is a savvy business man and an arms dealer. He has the support of the government, which our hero does not. Iron Man has the unique characteristic of being hounded by villains who do not merely hate him as a symbol and want him to die, but seek to replace him in the world. Tony/Iron Man stand for many things. He's not an anomaly or aberration like the Hulk or the X-Men that people want to use or eradicate. His abilities and positions are coveted, and it's this drive to dethrone the king, so to speak, that has motivated his nemeses so far.

However, even with the inherently more complicated relation between the villains and our hero, the sequel is still facing a trap that I have every faith it could escape, but for the fact that the first film did not. The requisite showdown between Iron Man and Iron Monger was fun to watch, but a bit too long given the fact that we knew what was going to happen: Tony doesn't die, Pepper doesn't die, Iron Monger loses. It's a given going into it, so the length of the sequence was undeserved. It's the least interesting part of the film. Now in the sequel, Favreau faces a looming pattern: Instead of one hero against one villain in an epic showdown, the outcome of which we all know, he will have one hero and one new hero/sidekick versus one big bad villain and one slightly smaller bad villain in an even moar epic showdown.

At least, this is what the traditional progression of superhero movies would have us anticipate. Knowing that the production team built the largest green screen ever constructed for a three day shoot that we may only assume relates to this epic showdown, while cool to know, does little to assuage my fears. Once again, we will have a guy in a suit versus a guy in a suit, which made sense for the first film, but I didn't especially want in the second. Much more interesting is the personal and human clash between Stark and Vanko. Two brilliant creators whose backgrounds couldn't more different: the resentment and hatred, the guilt and self loathing bred by their situations. That's drama. If I want to see dudes in suits fighting I can watch G.I. Joe. Apparently. Which I now plan to because that movie sounds epic in its unabashed popcorn awesomeness. So.

Two villains, though cleverly constructed to be highly complimentary as well as individually threatening. Could go either way. Suit versus suit verus suit (War Machine = Wild Card)- not terribly exciting as a concept, but hopefully will go more one way than the other. Moving on.

Black Widow is a character almost as old as Captain America. Her canon is massive and complicated. A huge part of what makes up her character is the appropriating of her life by the Communist party, a very real threat to the world Cap and Iron Man were originally created to champion, but an incongruous and outdated concept for a film set in the present, even a skewed one. She was a product of the Cold War who defected to the side of the Good Guys. When I asked ScarJo if she could tell us what entity or mitigating factor had replaced the influence of Communism in her character's life, the answer was essentially that she couldn't, and the impression I got was that this was so because she didn't actually know. They don't have room enough to delve into where the Black Widow comes from and who she is, in this movie. Understandable, but slightly frustrating: For this film, she will probably fill the role of Ass Kicking Eye Candy in a way that Pepper cannot, both because she is a non-combatant and because she's just not that kind of gal. Tony is too messed up to be forging new emotional connections, especially when the only ones he has have become dead or strained- Obediah, Rhodey, and Pepper were the total of his family, and two of them are gone. Given her nature as an unknown quantity, Natasha will not be stepping into any such role. Another distraction- hopefully just for Tony, though, and not for us.

It is actually my hope that Kate Mara's presence in the film will be as that of Bethany Cabe, [ED: It won't be. Rats.] and that we'll get to see Tony finding even just the end of that life line. Although I wouldn't object to a Janet Van Dyne cameo, either. WHERE MY GIRLS AT. Sigh. Jenny Baird as Ms. Marvel, any day now, Marvel. Come on, let's make it happen.


The greatest sequels are not the ones with more villains, more sidekicks, more fight scenes. Empire, Godfather Part II, The Road Warrior, Terminator 2, Spider-Man 2- these movies aren't about more of the physical components that made up the first movie, they're about a continuation of the themes and character development that caused their predecessor to strike a chord with audiences. It is my fervent hope (to accompany my still ever so fervent lust, yup, still lusting all over the show) that Favreau will make this happen for Iron Man 2- that he will successfully expand Tony's world without weighing it down with unnecessary tropes and 'requisite' complications. And also that he will make an HD version of the SDCC Iron Man 2 trailer available on iTunes so that I can watch it every night before bed time amen.
See full post

The Hyphen Is There For A Reason

See full post

Friday, August 7, 2009

Why GI Joe > Transformers 2: A Love Story

Okay, so, first of all, yes, duh, EVERYTHING is better than Transformers 2. We know this. But there are some very silly people out there who seem to have it in their minds that TF2 is a better film than its Hasbro pal, GI Joe. simply not the case. And I am here to tell you why.

1. GI Joe has a plot

2. GI Joe has characters

3. GI Joe's action is pretty badass & enjoyable to watch

4. GI Joe trades Shia LePoop for Joseph Gordon Levitt (totally different roles, but JOSEPH GORDON LEVITT IS IN THIS MOVIE)

5. GI Joe trades talking robots for NINJAS

6. GI Joe trades racist robots for AWESOME NANOTBOTS THAT EAT THE WORLD

7. GI Joe doesn't have bizarre homoerotic tension between characters who should NEVER HAVE HOMOEROTIC TENSION (i.e. John Tuturro & Shia LePoops' college friend)

8. GI Joe manages to make its leading-lady-I-don't-like-in-anything somewhat likable. (Not the case in TF2.)

9. GI Joe has Channing Tatum's abs

10. GI Joe looks like it was FUN to be a part of. Dennis Quaid, Joseph Gorden Levitt, Sienna Miller, etc. hamming it up & having a great time

11. Remember how I said GI Joe has NINJAS? One of them is Ray Park.

12. Speaking of which, GI Joe has ACTUAL fight sequences, like, where people actually fight. I know! Crazy!

13. Even though you can see every plot twist coming a mile away, GI Joe HAS PLOT TWISTS. Not only that, but PLOT TWISTS THAT MAKE SENSE.

14. GI Joe doesn't have 87 "pieces of the all spark" whatever bullshit, when there is only supposed to be one, which all do the same thing, but don't, and one is randomly called the Matrix of Leadership. I HATE TRANSFORMERS 2.

15. GI Joe has suits that make you run really fast and jump really high and be really cool

16. GI Joe has Dennis Quaid saying "Knowing is half the battle"

17. GI Joe doesn't have ROBOT FUCKING HEAVEN

18. GI Joe features a random cameo by Brendan Frasier that made no sense, but was awesome anyway

19. GI Joe has two Losties, two The Mummy cast members (Frasier not included), that creepy ass Scottish dude and JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT

20. GI Joe has a badass hand to hand combat scene legit between a couple of 12 year old boys

21. GI Joe has this awesome plot device where whenever the characters need to figure something out, they miraculously just think of it, randomly, and it happens to be correct. I prefer this to TF2's method of needlessly adding an hour and a half to the movie, forcing the characters to run around the world trying to figure shit out the long way, shit that doesn't even actually make sense anyway AUGHHH IM SO ANGRY, MUST THINK OF GI JOE AND BE HAPPY AGAIN

22. GI Joe features two actual strong women! Who fight! And are awesome! Not one sole female character who happens to be an eternally naked damsel in distress! (Robot chick doesn't count. HELL no.)

23. GI Joe has a love story that isn't offensively underdeveloped & that you actually kind of root for (I'm referring to Anna & Duke, not Rip & Scarlett, though despite Rip & Scarlett's lack of chemistry, I still buy them WAY more than LePoop & Poop)

24. GI Joe sets up a sequel that gets you excited, not makes you wanna kill yourself

25. GI Joe is under two hours long

26. GI Joe is delightfully fun and a great time at the movies

26. GI Joe doesn't suck my left nut*

*I'm a girl and thusly don't have nuts, but that's simply the only way to say what I wanted to say. I hate you, Transformers 2
See full post

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Meet the Cast of NYC Prep [Video]

Thanks to A Deliberate Pace for this. And yes, this is EXACTLY what the kids are like. To a scary degree. Bizarrely accurate. See full post

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Stay Tuned! Comic Con Wrap Up Coming Soon!

Hey readers!

Hope you were following david, Eruditechick and myself on Twitter during Comic Con and got enough live updates to satisfy your geekly needs. You may notice below a few live blogs we did of various panels. We were uber proud of ourselves about those until my computer stopped holding battery power...

Anyhoo, we are currently in the midst of putting together a Comic Con wrap up vidcast for our joint venture with our good friends Dave & Genevieve from Latino Review, The Ecstatic Truth. We had this amazing grand plan to get Comic Con videos up every night of the convention, but silly me didn't understand how to get footage on my computer. (Look, how was I supposed to know memory cards required Log & TRANSFER, not Log & Capture?!?! I haven't edited anything since high school! I'll fight you.)

In the meantime, check out our Comic Con gallery, currently filled with photos of the floor and some great on stage shots. More to be added soon, including uber exclusive backstage photos! We also snagged some interviews with the folks from Sherlock Holmes, Solomon Kane, The Prisoner, Iron Man 2 & Chuck, so expect those to appear in some sort of form over the next week as well.

The quick rundown?

Best footage: Kick Ass, Where the Wild Things Are, Iron Man 2 (though most everything blew my mind this year)
Best panels: Lost (8 million cast members, great clips & gave Bob Stencil a shirt!), Kevin Smith (finest form in years), Warner Brothers (great footage, great moderator & randomly hilarious talent - I'm looking at you, Josh Brolin & Gary Oldman = fantastic showing from WB)
Best party: EW, but Wrath of Con is a close second. If only we had gotten to spend more than an hour there...siiighhh...note to self, next year, get to parties we care about earlier than midnight...
Best screening: Mystery Team/Thirst. None of us saw D9. We did not love ***** ********
Best encounters, Muse edition: Eddie James Olmos, Drew Goddard, Derrick Comedy, BOB STENCIL
Best panel I missed that someone else (in this case Eruditechick) saw: Chuck
Best news from TV panels: DOLLHOUSE GUEST STARS

All for now. More coming soon! Promise! Thanks for being loyal, dear readers! See full post