Friday, December 30, 2011

Ides of March (2011)

Ides of March is an intellectual film portraying the corrupt nature of politics. The plot is centered on Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling) who is one of the main staffers for presidential candidate Mike Morris (George Clooney). Stephen is on his way to a promising future in the White House until he reluctantly agrees to meet Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti), the senior campaign manager of opposing candidate Pullman. This crucial mistake utterly sabotages his career as he appears to transform from an idealist strongly driven by morality to a corrupted politician as a result of vengeance.

I was immersed in this film in its entirety. You don't need to fully understand politics to enjoy Ides of March; although, it may be difficult to follow each character's motives for their actions. A second viewing would be ideal. I believe that the conclusion is open for interpretations as to whether Stephen has finally turned to corruption or has planned all along to expose Morris' wrongdoings.

In my opinion, Stephen ultimately keeps Morris' affairs discreet. First of all, he didn't need to attain the title of senior campaign manager through blackmail just to expose Morris. Ida (Marisa Tomei) would have gladly reported the story given adequate evidence despite Stephen being a "fired disgruntled employee." Secondly, it's possible that Stephen didn't have any evidence whatsoever and it was only his word against Morris'. Morris recognized that Molly's note could have been a bluff but didn't want to take chances. This is a legitimate decision considering the fact that impregnating an intern will, without doubt, ruin his chances of winning the campaign. Given this possibility, Stephen's accusation wouldn't bring any serious consequences without sufficient proof.

Ides of March has received some Oscar buzz. So far, it has received 4 Golden Globe nominations for Best Picture, Best Director (George Clooney), Best Actor (Ryan Gosling), and Best Screenplay. Leonardo DiCaprio, the executive producer of Ides, is an opposing Best Actor contender for his performance in J. Edgar.

The dialogue was brilliant and you must pay close attention in order to follow the plot. For a political thriller, this is a well-paced film with quick transitions between scenes. Personally, I thought it could have been 30 minutes longer.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Split Seconds (2011)

Split Seconds is a short action film based on the theme of the Rashomon effect, which is defined as a representation of three different perspectives of the same event. In order to incorporate the Rashomon technique, I wanted each perspective to have a different style.

Because of legal constraints, production of some footage had to be brought in house through the usage of green screen. Keying and masking the green screen footage complicates reflections, shadows, and depth of field since the edges need to be fine tuned. Due to creative control, I will be handling chroma-key effects and concentrating on refining the gamma thresholds. This process will ensure that dominant objects will be preserved.

Action films are complex, so be prepared for the unexpected. Especially on the last day or the last scene, which, in this case, had to be connected seamlessly when both actors were filmed separately! This was particularly in the dialogues between Sean and Driver in the car.

"Split Seconds" is one of the most costly and challenging shorts I've ever made.

Watch Split Seconds on IMDb

Monday, July 11, 2011

Fight Club (1999)

Fight Club is a brilliant, classic film and has an outstandingly well-written script and exceptional execution by director David Fincher. The film adaptation stays true to the novel with a few exceptions including the conclusion and flows smoothly as the story progresses along with constant narration by the main character. You may think that this film is all about violence, but you must delve deeper.

Throughout the duration of the film, the insomniac protagonist’s name is never mentioned; thus, he’s known as The Narrator. There are several theories such as Jack but that is based on figurative statements. On a flight home from his monotonous job, he meets Tyler Durden, a “soap salesman”, who leads to the spread of Fight Clubs in numerous basements around the country and later resulting in Project: Mayhem.
There is only one part that drags but, overall, this is a very fast-paced film that keeps you entertained and the intensity rises as The Narrator ventures deeper into crime and oblivion. During one of the action scenes, The Narrator is thrown down the stairs. The stunt man had to fall down the stairs eleven times and they ended up using the first take! I love that part!

In addition to Helena Bonham Carter as Marla Singer, Edward Norton and Brad Pitt are perfectly casted as the two friends who start the Fight Club in order to channel anger and aggression as a unique therapy. In addition to Primal Fear, this is Edward Norton’s second movie where he portrays a character with multiple personalities. Only The Narrator is more complex.

If you have not seen Fight Club, don’t read any further. Sorry, but I must continue, I love this film! In truth, Tyler is the manipulative alter ego of The Narrator. The Narrator may appear as only a member of Project: Mayhem under the leadership of Tyler, but he is actually the boss who leads numerous acts of vandalism.

After watching it a second time, you discover the countless clues throughout the film that leads to the cryptic twist at the conclusion. These meticulous details are proof of the non-existence of Tyler. Here are a few examples. Approximately 5 single frames of Tyler Durden randomly flash in the background of several different scenes before his character actually appears on screen. It’s as if The Narrator has already developed Tyler in his mind but just hasn’t released him yet. Also, Marla is never in the same frame with The Narrator and Tyler. There are many more clues; you just have to keep your eyes open.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Blue Rain (2011)

A man is haunted by a dark memory of his past as he's filled with guilt and must learn to forgive himself.
I've just been introduced to the concept of surrealism.

Maya Deren, a surrealist filmmaker, defined surrealism as being, "...concerned with the interior experience of the individual. It does not record an event which could be witnessed by others. Rather, it reproduces the way in which the subconscious of an individual develops, interprets and elaborates an apparently simple and casual incident (or series of incidents) into a critical emotional experience."

Surrealist version: YouTube

Blue Rain extended version (2012) is now on IMDb

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Aviator (2004)

This biographical film depicts the life of Howard Hughes, who is a successful filmmaker, creating numerous controversial films, and legendary aviator, accomplishing several world air-speed records throughout his lifetime. In addition, he is known to be one of the wealthiest men in the world.

Howard’s filmmaking career begins to prosper rapidly, receiving an Academy Award for his film Two Arabian Knights, which is the first time a comedy picture won the Best Director Award. Several of his high-budget films are Hell’s Angel, Scarface, and The Outlaw, which are large box-office success and claim to be highly controversial.

Being an icon in the 20th century, Howard Hughes has magnetized countless glamorous divas in Hollywood such as Billie Dove, Bette Davis, Ava Gardner, Olivia de Havilland, Katharine Hepburn, and Gene Tierney. But only one truly captures his heart. His relationship with Katharine Hepburn was well depicted in the film, which was adeptly portrayed by Cate Blanchett.

As an iconic industrialist and an aircraft enthusiast, Howard purchases the Transcontinental and Western Air, later known as the Trans World Airlines (TWA). He tests flies the H-1 Racer and sets a speed of 352mph, travels around the world in 91 hours also surpassing the previous record by nearly 4 days, and was also in the disastrous crash of the XF-11, sustaining numerous injuries such as a crushed collarbone and chest, 24 fractured ribs, one inflated lung, shifting the heart to the right side of the chest cavity, and several 3rd degree burns after his plane plummeted in several houses in Beverly Hills. Hughes was extremely lucky to survive after that near-fatal accident.

However, nothing could derail his vision. Howard Hughes, the most influential man in aviation history, is greatly known for building the H-1 Hercules, also known as the "Spruce Goose," is the largest, heaviest plane with the longest wingspan ever assembled in the world. This magnificent aircraft is currently in the Evergreen Aviation Museum in Oregon. However, this record was later exceeded by the Antonov 225 because, although the H-1 Hercules is still taller and wider, it is short and only covered a distance of 1 mile with Howard as the pilot while the An-225 has been flown farther distances and at a higher altitude.

After seeing such an outstanding film, Aviator definitely earned its 5 Oscars for Art Direction, Cinematography, Costume Design, Editing, and Supporting Actress. Leonardo did a superb job and is perfectly casted for the role. Martin Scorsese, as always, is a brilliant director and the cinematography is sensational.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Shutter Island (2010)

This is a dark, mysterious thriller in which Teddy Daniels, perfectly portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio, along with his partner Chuck Aule, characterized by Mark Ruffalo, investigates the puzzling disappearance of Rachel Solando from the Ashecliffe Hospital for the criminally insane, also known as Shutter Island. Both the novel by Dennis Lehane and the film adaptation by Martin Scorsese are equally superb. Scorsese is a master at keeping the audience glued to their seats, absorbed into the engrossing plot and chilled by the various frightening scenes hurtling at them. Despite its somewhat disturbing theme, Shutter Island has the rewatchability factor. Ironically, the movie’s title is an anagram for "Denials Truths."

HD Trailer