Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mark's Picks: 7 Movies I'd Appreciate It If You Saw

If you have not see these films, I'll still appreciate discourse with you and respect you as a human being, but I'll really wish you'd taken me up on the advice. Rick has me beat when it comes to influential and otherwise "important" films but I have my preferences and passions. Below is a sampling of what makes Mark tick - that's me, I'm Mark. Hi!

1) F.W. Murnau's perfect Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)
2) Coen Brothers' engrossing Miller's Crossing (1990)
3) Hughes Brothers' raw Menace II Society (1993)
4) Martin Scorsese's virile Mean Streets (1973)
5) ShinichirĊ Watanabe's cool Cowboy Bebop (1998-1999)
6) Andrew Dominik's indelible The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
7) Spike Lee's heartbreaking 25th Hour (2002)

Rick's Picks: 7 Movies You Need to See

If you have not see this films, I will not take you seriously in an argument about films. I am the first to admit that I have yet to watch several cultural touchstone films, such as The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and Jaws, but these are the films that you must see or I will not respect your opinion when you tell me I didn't "understand" Social Network.

1) Terence Malick's Days of Heaven (1978)
2) Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Amores Perros (2000)
3) John Ford's The Searchers (1956)
4) David Lynch's Blue Velvet (1986)
5) Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927)
6) Jean-Luc Godards' Contempt (1963)
7) David Fincher's Zodiac (2007)

Monday, March 28, 2011

"Sucker Punch" Review

Check out my review of Zack Snyder's latest over here, at Obsessed With Film.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Top $ Raz's "The Man" Music Video Premiere

Top $ Raz (who appeared as a guest on Episode 6 of the show) has released the music video for his song "The Man", which you may know as our intro song. Check it out here!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Still a Box Office Groupie

No matter how jaded I become by the state of the film industry, with an unprecedented number of sequels and remakes set for release this year, I still check the weekend box office numbers every Sunday night. This week the Bradly Cooper vehicle, Limitless, lead the way; however, Tom McCarthy's Win Win, which Mark and I will be discussing in an upcoming episode, performed well considering it was only released on four screens in New York and Los Angeles. One reason I care about the box office numbers is it determines what types of films will be released in the future. Even though I, and numerous other critics, despised Battle: LA, the film has performed well domestically, as well as overseas, which all but insures Sony, the studio behind the over-hyped under-plotted action flick, will begin work on a sequel in short time. Another reason I love reading the weekend box office roundup is I hope to one day have a film appear on that list. Let's face it, as much as filmmakers claim to create work to please only themselves, they still hope it is accepted by an audience, even if it is not a mass audience. Which is why the specialty box office numbers, grading the money a film makes per every screen it's exhibited on, is so crucial to independent filmmakers.
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Episode 10: "I Saw The Devil"/"Love And Other Drugs"

As we proceed to give you what you need...last week on The Brooklyn Film Theorists, Rick and Mark braved minor technical problems to bring you this podcast. Check it out!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Note on Documentary Filmmaking

The worst part of watching documentary films that were filmed using only one camera is the obnoxious swish panning. A swish pan is when the camera moves quickly, often abruptly, laterally (pans) to the left or right. Onscreen, objects blur and a feeling of uneasiness is created in the viewer. This effect is desired by many modern directors of narrative films, such as Paul Greengrass, who uses the swish pan to great effect in United 93, Bourne Supremacy and Boune Ultimatum. Greengrass has admitted that he was heavily influenced by the documentary filmmakers of the 1960's who preached a truth in cinema, more commonly known as "Cinema Verite". This movement became famous for recording events with naturalistic lighting and multiple handheld cameras. The difference between filming with one camera and multiple cameras is once you have the footage recorded from several cameras, a director and editor can simply cut from one vantage point to another of the same event and the cutting is seamless and the viewer remains (hopefully) riveted by the event occurring in the diegetic world. Conversely, if the director and editor have footage from only one camera, they are faced with using the swish pan the camera person originally captured in the moment of the event or finding other footage altogether. Swish panning can be effective employed if the objective of the filmmaker is for the viewer to be agitated. However, the swish pan becomes counter-productive if audience agitation is not the goal of the filmmaker because the viewer becomes distracted by a formal element of the filmmaking process and is thus removed from the viewing experience. By stating the swish pan is obnoxious when exploited in this manner, I am not attacking documentary camera workers. The camera person is merely attempting to capture all elements of the events occurring around them in a manner that will benefit the director once it is time to edit. It is the director and editor's choice to include footage that will remove the viewer from the all important watching experience.

There is an example of a swish pan used at the 1:38 mark of this otherwise interesting clip (the swish pan is exploited as an editing device from the Cartier advertisement to the "talking head", yet it becomes ineffective in the fact that you notice the camera move and not what the philosopher is stating):

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I Love the 80's, or at Least the Music Videos.

Anyone who made it through Episode 5, "Never Let Me Go/ Music Video Favorites", knows I love music videos and consider them an art form. Here are two videos that did not make my list, but I want people to view and comment on.

This is the classic "film within a film", only it's a video within a video. This clip was shot and released in 1981, at the dawn of MTV and is directed by Steve Barron. The director was heavily influnced by Truffaut's Day for Night (1974), an extraordinary examination of the filmmaking process.

Human League - Don't You Want Me by jpdc11

If you can explain this video to me, you are an extraordinary thinker. Although, one reason I love the clip is its ambiguity, as well as its exceptional black and white cinematography. The video was shot, cut and directed by Ian Eames and was inspired by Helmut Newton's photgraphy and Liliana Cavani's The Night Porter (1974).

Duran Duran - The Chauffeur [uncensored] from mm1 on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Soundtrack Selections for Episode 10

Below are our soundtrack selections for upcoming episode 10 - "I Saw The Devil"/"Love And Other Drugs". Enjoy!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Links and a Recommendation

Tonight, Mark and I will attempt to record our second video promo after the disastrous first attempt (both will be posted online when once they are edited). But first, I wanted to post a few more links and recommend a classic film.

During Episode 7, "The Oscar Podcast", Mark read off BKFT's producer-mixer Robert G. Chrisman's Oscar picks and here is the link for what Rob chose as the Best Original Song in a Motion Picture in 2010.

On the second half of Episode 6, "Interview with Top $ Raz/review of Waiting for "Superman", I had major issues with David Guggenheim's glorification of charter schools and his defilement of public schools in his critically acclaimed film Waiting for "Superman". Here are some links to articles I read as research and an op-ed piece that spells out why Waiting for "Superman" was not nominated for a Best Feature Documentary Oscar (Mark questioned the Academy's decision making during Episode 7).

The link to the glowing review of the film that set off a level of anger in me that I usually reserve for overrated British dramas:

Link to an article from The Nation critiquing the ideology of the movie:

The op-ed piece from the Washington Post detailing why Waiting for "Superman" was snubbed for a Best Documentary Feature:

Since Mark and I predominately review recently released films, I wanted to take a moment to celebrate Roman Polanski's classic psychological thriller Repulsion (1965). I had heard of the film for years, but it was not until I saw Polanski's incredible debut film Knife in the Water (1962), and heard Darren Aronofsky and Matthew Libatique admit that the film was a major influence over the look of The Wrestler (2008) and the story and look of Black Swan (2010), that I became fully obsessed with watching Polanski's film about obsession and sexual repression. Repulsion features a mesmerizing performance from Catherine Deneuve as the lead character, Carol, who is shy by nature and faces incessant come-ons and harassment from all the men in her life, even her sister's married lover. When Carol's sister and her lover go away on vacation, Carol is left in her sister's haunting and hollow apartment and Carol's mind slowly unravels. Stalked by one man and hounded by unremitting phone calls and knocks on the front door, Carol trembles and hides as the apartment walls around her crack and crumble onscreen. One of the major questions the film poses is what, if any of these surreal images occur in the external world? At a certain point, viewers of the film will have a tough time telling what is fantasy, Carol's midnight nightmares of rape, and reality, did she actually kill a person in the apartment?

It is also of importance to note that this film features one of the all time great closing sequences that spells out Carol's family back story in one family picture. What would take many writers and directors several scenes, or gasp, flashback sequences to illustrate, Polanski accomplishes with a slow track into one family photo.

The film features imaginative shot compositions and very languid handheld camera movements. With this film, Polanski established himself as the master of the modern psychological thriller and propelled his career into Hollywood. In the hands of a lesser director and lead actress, Repulsion would be the type of psycho-sexual schlock that this film no doubt influenced. However, in the hands of a gifted director with a twisted mind and an actress of unnerving dedication, Repulsion is the classic film I highly recommend it to be.
***1/2 Stars.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Episode 9: "Drive Angry" in 3D/"The Room"

This week on The Brooklyn Film Theorists, Mark and Rick tackle two films that...are worth tackling. The Nicholas Cage vehicular vehicle "Drive Angry" (in 3D) and the astounding, the befuddling and entirely singular "The Room".

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Links, Links and More Links!

Mark and I keep having great guests record podcasts with us, but I have yet to post links to any of their websites where you can experience their work firsthand. Without further ado...

Igor Yankilevich, star of Episode 8.

Top $ Raz, star of Episode 6 and writer/performer of the BKFT theme song, "The Man".

As of now, Ethan Donnelly, star of Episode 1 (writer-director of the upcoming short film "Saltwater"), and Eric Gentry-Weeks, star of episode 7 (working AC/Cinematographer), do not have websites, but they will both in short time.

On a final note. Here's a link to a student film I starred in in 2008. It was my first acting experience on film (Super-8 negative!) and I loved working with the director Jae Hong Choi. Enjoy.