Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Chase (2009)


There is no escape...

After Roni witnesses two strangers exchanging a briefcase in the park, she couldn't resist the temptation of finding out what’s the story behind this suspicious act and got her friend, Danielle, involved, which led them into a wild chase.

The Chase (2009) is the first film that I have written, directed, and produced and is around 30 minutes long. While writing the script, I decided that I wanted an action-packed short-film with intense scenes that would keep the audience grasping the edges of their seats.

Making my first film was exhilarating and at the same time frightening. During pre-production, I encountered many roadblocks, and casting is definitely one of them. I ended up portraying the role of Roni. Overall, I had to rewrite the script around seven times due to casting issues and several changes. As a result of the limited schedule, we had to film rain or shine and day for night.

Is filming fun? Well, we had one scene that took place on a steep hill. As the camera started rolling, the sky turned dark grey and it started drizzling, but it also doubled the fun. And to answer the question, rolling down a hill is not fun. Well who would call plummeting down a bumpy, cold, damp hill with hidden rocks and going home with bruises all over your body fun? Not to mention the numerous retakes required.

Several challenges involved in filming this movie were setting up the lighting and shooting day for night. Experimenting with the lights was a pain. We would spend hours comparing the locations and brightness of the light. Adding to the difficulty, we had to make sure that the night scenes shot during the day looked realistic and consistent with previous clips. This is one reason why editing lasted for eternity. Well, "no pain, no gain." Without doubt, that was the most ambitious thing I have ever done. Now I could say that filming a movie is indeed fun.

Dances with Wolves (1990)

Dances with Wolves, starring Kevin Costner, won 7 Academy Awards in 1990, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Music, Best Sound, and Best Writing. It was also directed and produced by Kevin Costner himself.

This 1990 epic film depicts the story of Union Army Officer First Lieutenant John Dunbar, who embarks on a journey to the American Frontier to find a military post. Upon arriving at the post, Dunbar has anticipated more soldiers to join him. After several weeks of solitude, Dunbar finds it peculiar that no other soldiers has joined him and documents it in his journal. Unfortunately, Dunbar's assignment to the post remained unknown due to the death of the major, who was in charge of his mission. Dunbar later encounters the Sioux tribe and gains their respect and has been welcomed into their tribe as a member known as Dances with Wolves.

As a result of this movie, Kevin Costner was considered an honorary member of the Sioux tribe. In addition, the Library of Congress has chosen Dances with Wolves for preservation in the United States National Film Registry in the year 2007. This movie is highly acclaimed for its humanistic portrayal of American Indians. The casts’ performances are exceptional thanks to Costner’s directions and the cinematography is utterly prodigious. Another outstanding factor in this engrossing film is the soundtrack, earning John Barry an Academy Award for Best Music. Despite its duration of about 3 hrs, Dances with Wolves keeps the audience engaged throughout the film. This movie grossed $184 million without ever having to reach #1 on the box-office charts and is the highest grossed western movie of all time.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Catch Me If You Can (2002)

In my opinion, Catch Me If You Can, starring Leonardo DiCarprio and Tom Hanks, has one of the most exceptional plots. The script is based on a true story about Frank Abagnale, a young con artist on the run. Frank, whose character is acted out by Leonardo, runs away after his parents separated and attempts to retrieve all the money that was lost.

However, he chooses an illegal path. He produces fraudulent checks, impersonates a pilot, doctor, and attorney, and travels around the world trying to evade a determined FBI agent named Carl, who is portrayed by Tom. Despite his effort to avoid the FBI, Carl finally catches him in France and he is being extradited and given a long prison sentence.

One day, Carl visits him in jail asking his help to identify an unsolved case of fraudulent checks and is impressed by his expertise, which prompted him to offer a job to work for FBI. Frank accepts it since it was his only way out though he misses the thrill of his old life.

According to the scrolling text at the end of the film, Frank gets married and has three children and he and Carl become close friends even to this day. Believe it or not, Frank actually invented the most unforgeable checks being used until today. He also caught many of the most elusive money forgers.

Steven Spielberg, as usual, did a phenomenal job in directing. Leonardo delivers an astounding performance as the deceitful and charming young con artist. Hopefully, he will win an Oscar soon. I believe he is one of the best actors in Hollywood who hasn't won an Oscar yet. Tom Hanks also did an equally spectacular performance as the FBI agent who finally outsmarted the intelligent fraudster. The movie is filled with endless humor and keeps you hooked to the story the whole two hours. It is unbelievable how clever Frank Abagnale is, being 19 years old when he stole millions of dollars.