Category Archives: Movie Review

Vice interviews the creators of Escape From Tomorrow

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I still haven’t seen this film yet, but it’s on my list. Having grown up in Orlando Florida, I’m always tickled shitty when cheeky directors have it in their minds to create a film that exploits the exploiters. If I had stayed in Orlando another day, instead of moving to New York, I might’ve had to do exactly what director Randy Moore did. Even if this film turns out to be a reheated piece…I applaud the effort and imagination, of this fearless cast and crew.

That being said, Vice Magazine just uploaded a video on youtube, that delves deep into how they pulled it off and all under the watchful eye of Da Mouse!

(Via. Firstshowing.net)

Escape from Tomorrow is written and directed by Randy Moore. The film, secretly shot at Disney World, is described as a postmodern, surreal voyage into the bowels of “family” entertainment as a middle-aged father loses his sanity during a close encounter with two teenage girls on holiday, all while trying to keep a straight face with his family after losing his job on the first day of vacation. Roy Abramsohn, Elena Schuber, Katelynn Rodriguez, Annet Mahendru, Danielle Safady and Alison Lees-Taylor star in the film which premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and arrived in limited theaters starting on October 11th

VICE on Youtube


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Will Antiviral Get Under Your Skin?

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Imagine a world in which celebrity infatuation has reached a fanatical new extreme.  Do you find yourself obsessing over your favorite actress and want nothing more than to be close to them?  Search no further – the Lucas Clinic has what you desire.  For a price, you can have yourself infected with their ailments – bringing them, and their world, as close as your very own skin.

Brandon Cronenberg has some crazy large shoes to fill.  Any way you slice it.  And with his first feature filmAntiviral, it’s probably safe to say he’s cut from a very similar cloth as Father, David Cronenberg.  With Antiviral‘s sparce and vividly visceral use of blood, gore, needles, and other body horror related ephemera, Cronenberg shows he’s not afraid of the obvious familial comparisons that will be drawn – even if he never set out to make a film like his Father.

Brandon Cronenberg's AntiviralStarring Caleb Landry Jones as Syd March, Antiviral plays with our oft times sickening fascination with celebrity.  It may leave you saying, “serves them right,” and it will certainly have you cringing.  What I find particularly attractive, though, is Cronenberg’s completely flat and humorless attitude about celebrity.  Bleak and sterile, it’s as if his vision of the near-future has somehow mutated our morbid curiosity into mental zombism.  We see something/someone we desire.  We obsess.  We long to fill our every moment (meals and illnesses included) with the object of our obsession.   This psychologically complex model is turned into a societally accepted state of being – I mean, people are eating genetically modified celebrity meat and voluntarily infecting themselves with celebrity Herpes.

<Face slap>

And by <face slap> I mean – awesome!  Sort of.  I have only occasionally been as freaked out and intrigued by intimacy as I was when initially began watching this film. anti3 And yes, worth noting is the element of the sexual amidst everything here – needles penetrating skin, impregnating oneself with bacteria and other assorted sundry to achieve satisfaction.

But it all feels, if you’ll forgive me, a little skin deep.

Antiviral is a strong first showing although it loses some of its initially strong auteur vibe as the story begins to wind down.  I’m a fan of what Cronenberg has done with his incredibly considered use of blood and violence.  Beyond the obvious needle phobia, he’s managed to suggest a terror so small it can only be seen upon careful observation, and then, occasionally, not at all.  And what’s more insidious than that?

Brandon Cronenberg's AntiviralSure, Jones could be accused of coming on a bit strong and even overplaying his role.  His pasty complexion and dead shark eyes do nothing to help convey his character’s motivations and, to be honest, I’m not sure I’d let him inject me with anything … but, I say that about everyone.

Malcolm McDowell arrives and stays too briefly as physician to the film’s object of the greatest obsession, Hannah Geist (played by Cosmopolis stunner Sarah Gadon).

If anything, Brandon Cronenberg proves he is a director to keep a keen eye on.

 

 

 

The film that was illegally shot at Disney “Escape From Tomorrow” gets a trailer

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Central Florida, my hometown, has a reputation for putting out films that get people at festivals, like Sundance, talking. The last one, I believe, that spread like a wildfire was the 1999 Eduardo Sánchez, Daniel Myrick directed film The Blairwitch Project. Now, almost 14 years later, we got another director/Full Sail graduate, named Randy Moore, whose gone and done the unthinkable. For anyone who lives in mouse town, you know you don’t cross the rodent, but that’s precisely what he did when Randy Moore shot almost an entire film at Disney World and Disney Land without the mouse getting wind of any of it.

Escape from Tomorrow, is an amazing exercise in guerrilla film making, and even won the eye of Roger Ebert and was shown at Roger Ebert’s 15th annual film festival in Champaign, Illinois (Randy Moore’s home state), just before he past away. I compare the buzz, the film received, to the buzz The Blairwitch received awhile back. It seems everyone loves to watch naughtiness on film and what better way to be naughty, than at the place where dreams come true.

This was a very clandestine operation to shoot apparently. They even went as far as to edit the film in S. Korea, to keep the white gloves of oppression of their beloved material. Too far? I think not, my only question is why haven’t they been put in mouse jail yet?

Synopsis:

Escape From Tomorrow is described as a postmodern, surreal voyage into the bowels of “family” entertainment as a middle-aged father loses his sanity during a close encounter with two teenage girls on holiday, all while trying to keep a straight face with his family after losing his job on the first day of vacation.

To my knowledge, Disney knows all about the film and has even placed the flick in their online supplement to Disney A to Z: The Official Encyclopedia according to Wiki. My guess is that they are going to wait to see how well the film does before pulling a Song of the South on the entire thing. My advice to Randy is to hide this mutha, cause if this flops, he can expect to see Goofy, Donald and the entire cast of The Mickey Mouse Club, ready to smash his ass.

The film stars Roy Abramsohn, Elena Schuber, Katelynn Rodriguez, Annet Mahendru, Danielle Safady and Alison Lees-Taylor and arrives on demand and in limited theaters on October 11.

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Has the Jedi mysticism in Star Wars been lost over the years

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The years have not been kind to the Jedi, a once benevolent group of mystics who occasionally had to do battle with the forces of evil to create balance in the universe. Remember when Star Wars was just about Luke Skywalker, Obi Wan Kenobi, Yoda and Darth Vader? It’s been a very long time since I’ve been able to say those names and actually feel that same level of honor, one might feel, being inducted into a secret society.

This was another one of my random thoughts, I had while slinging hash at my job and thought “hey…maybe there’s others out there who feel the same way”…so I decided to expound on it.

Call me crazy, but when you watch Star Wars: A New Hope, didn’t you get the sense that the Jedi’s were still a bit aloof, even when they were accepted by the Republic. They still seemed nomadic in their ways and very hard to understand at times and like searching for a new Dalai Lama, a Jedi seemed to me to be very…very hard to come by even before the slaughter, but not anymore.

How many Jedi’s does this Star Wars really need?

For me, the answers simple, but for those hellbent on making JEDI-star-wars-jedi-23833947-1024-768money off this franchise, the answers “there can never be too many”. Now with the Star Wars :The Old Republic MMORPG, everyone and their uncle can be a  Jedi, as if in Ben’s time, they were just handing out lightsaber’s  like government cheese.

Perhaps it’s because I haven’t read any of the spin off novels and comic books, except Timothy Zahn’s “Heir To The Empire”, but hasn’t this always been about the movies and not the books?

Sure, I too envision a world of yet unheard of Jedi, all with new and fascinating force skills, and belonging to interesting new races, but one must draw a line between recklessness and tangibility…yes, even in fantasy, this is what makes fantasy great. Isn’t it?

I didn’t need to see the Jedi Council in “The Phantom Menace”. Why couldn’t it have been just another level of the myth, one that we all subscribed to, but didn’t literally have to see? I mean can anyone, outside of the hardcore, name the members of the council or the race they belonged too? I know I can’t.

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This wasn’t the only thing that bothered me, assuming the Jedi were the Templar’s of their time, there was nothing to suggest a monk lifestyle other than the robes they wore, which brings me back to Ben, in the first film. He was unlike any of the so-called Jedi we saw in Episodes I, II and III. He was like the “Oracle” in The Matrix. Simple, careful, always aware of his emotions and above all…humble. Certainly not the order we saw in the prequels with their spacious penthouse view of Coruscant. There’s nothing about the Jedi’s in the new movies that says ancient or mystic. In that way, I could see why something like the Sith would want to destroy them, but I highly doubt George was thinking about this when he embarked upon creating that reheated piece of fodder known as ‘the prequels”. He was just going for flash, forgoing any of the mysticism we became fond of in “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back” and replacing it with smoke and mirrors. Now everyone has the force, Leia, Han Solo, their kids and all the while, the ones who’ve remained more benevolent, clandestine, and shrouded in secrecy is the Sith.

I will even go as far as saying that “the “Sith” is the last bit of true Star Wars left, ironically enough”.

They are the one’s Hollywood unknowingly have made an “anomaly” in all this mess. We got bit’s and pieces of who they are in every film, but no visit to their planet or meeting with the council or glimpses into what it takes to become one. Again, if you’ve read any of the Dark Horse comics you already know a lot about the Sith, but for the majority of moviegoers, there’s nothing. This is the model the Jedi’s/George Lucas, should’ve followed before he decided to blanket the screen with so many meaningless characters and colorful light sabers. This over saturation made the loss of their kind even more unceremonious than it already was. Not only were thousands of Jedi slain, we only knew the names of only a handful of them.

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What’s real important to understand is that when George Lucas wrote A New Hope, back in the seventies he, as a film student, was deeply into Akira Kurosawa films like “Rashomon”, “Seven Samurai” and “Ran”. He peppered “A New Hope” with all sorts of Japanese inspired aesthetics like Luke and Ben’s Hakama garb and even replaced Samurai katanas with light sabers. The colors white and black, used in the Tao symbol for balance, are also represented throughout the film, demonstrating duality and then there’s Yoda, who was essentially a small green version of Pat Morita from The Karate Kid. Course there’s the blatant Nazi symbolism embraced by the Empire, but I  want to get into that.

What I’m saying is it took Luke Skywalker three films to become a full fledged Jedi. He had to learn how to control his emotions and discipline himself, a fact that was done away with with the introduction of Medichlorian’s in the prequels. The images of Luke doing the handstand in the swamps with Yoda and him taking the shots from his impromptu blast-shield training on the Falcon, are still etched in my mind. Now, no longer is this rigorous training necessary when your born with this ability. Really? Could they have made the Jedi anymore elitists?

Look, for every short coming the Star Wars franchise has faced in the last decade, there are a million more yet to come, but can we at least agree that the franchise has lost that bit (I use that term lightly) of magic that made the original great? No artist, I know, has ever finished a song, painting or script without stepping back several times to look at what he or she has done and asking themselves “It this still me?”, “Is this still inspired?” These are questions, I’m afraid, George never asked himself, instead, as if he had no idea what he’d created two decades ago, he proceeded to go more west with the storyline than east, like he originally intended.

I won’t even ask you if whether approaching Star Wars from A New Hope point of view, is even worth it anymore, but it would be nice if the reigning science fiction/fantasy mutilator J.J. Abrams, would take this into consideration as he begins work on Star Wars Episode VII, but given his track record with Star Trek, I ‘d say don’t count on it and with that I leave you with the immortal words of C3PO…”We’re doomed.”

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Pacific Rim goes big by keeping it simple

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It’s been a long road for Guillermo Del Toro‘s Kaiju epic “Pacific Rim“, but it’s here and I got a chance to see it yesterday in a sparsely occupied AMC theater at 4pm. I had expected there to be more people in attendance on a summer Friday afternoon, but my wife and I were grateful for the space.

Right away Guillermo Del Toro, waste no time getting the viewer caught up on all the Kaiju goings on in the last decade, that ends in 2020 where we pick up. The attention to detail, is amazing! The world he’s created or should I say his VFX dept created, looks so believable and lived in, that he almost fools you into believing that something like this could happen. One point I’d also like to make is unlike most 3D films, Guillermo throws subtle visual tricks your way all throughout the film to let you know you are still watching a 3D film, which I appreciated very much. Nothing pisses me off more than directors who forget that fact and just rush the rest of the film.

Moving on….

What was deeply important about introducing this highly imaginative concept to the world was it’s level of tangibility. Guillermo knew this was a science fiction picture and not a fantasy film, so it had to be approached from a science-fiction standpoint. These weren’t martian robots or something that was taking place on a game grid, this was our world. So he needed to come up with a viable reason for these Kaiju’s ( a Japanese word for Monster) to attack and two, for us to combat them by unconventional means and this is when the film leans heavily on it’s Japanese predecessors like the hugely popular animes Evangelion, Gundam or Robotech, all of which have been talked about, but never fully realized on film. Sad to, for all intents and purposes they should’ve come out a long time ago. Maybe Guillermo petitioned for the rights to those films and was denied or he just wanted to create an homage…I don’t know, perhaps I never will, but believe me when I say “no ones ever gonna be able to make another film like this one without it being compared to Pacific Rim”. The effect was indelible.

SPOILERS:

The story follows Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunan) whom you see loose his brother and trusted Jaeger (A German word for Hunter) co-pilot, early on in the film to a brutal Kaiju. Devastated, Raleigh retires from piloting to become a steel worker on one of the biggest walls in the world, designed to protect the citizens from Kaiju attacks. Because of Raleigh’s last battle, that cost his brothers life and was considered a total failure globally, the Jaeger program get’s it’s funding pulled. That’s when the head of the Jeager program Stacker Pentacost (Idris Elba) gathers what’s left of the program from the four corners of the world and houses them in a new facility/rebel hideout.

A host of new characters emerge as a result of this reconstruction, among these Stacker’s adopted daughter Mako Mori played by Rinko Kikuchi,   Dr. Newton Geiszler played by Charlie Day and his partner Gottlieb played by Burn Gorman whom by the way were amazing as committed scientist and comic relief. Course the world gets even bigger when Kaiju black market organ dealer Hannibal Chau (Ron Pearlman) comes in as a well financed provocateur of Kaiju remains and no good summer film is complete without it’s ICEMAN and that’s the son and father Australian Jaeger team Herc and Chuck Hansen played by Max Martini and Robert Kazinsky.

Were there others? Of course they were…like the Chinese Jaeger team Crimson Typhoon, who hands down, had one of the baddest looking Jaegers, but like Darth Maul, got wiped out pretty quick. Also there was the “stereotypically” silent, but stoic Russian team, whom again were only there to move the plot along, but guess what? I didn’t mind. I’m all about focusing on the hero. Let’s like this guy first. Too many films want to inundate you with character’s they think can sell toys, but then don’t and they later wonder why. Well because no one knew who the fuck they were. So instead of insulting our intelligence Guillermo said there must be a focus and that was on Raleigh and those he came in contact with and how he’s going to come to grips with the lost of his brother.

I’m not going to ruin it for you, but Guillermo “in his genius” uses a clever technique to give us Mako’s back story, an idea I seriously said wow to, as I watched it unfold in front of me.

The film ends with a pretty amazing battle/race to the finish line, that delivered on desperation like no other. I was invested and as limbs are being torn apart left and right you realize that these Jaeger’s  aren’t like your typical super robots, these guys technically aren’t any match for the Kaiju, but it’s when cooler heads prevail, the pilots are able to survive by outwitting these beast instead of brute force…most of the time.

Now…as if this review isn’t already long enough, let’s talk about effects.

I was blown away by all the practical effects (non CGI) in this film. It looked like, as a rule of thumb, if Guillermo could build a realistic version of what he envisioned, he would build it. From the Jaeger cockpit, to the set’s or lack there off in some of the destroyed areas, to the science props and machines, to the Kaiju remains. He made this world more real by again, not undermining the intelligence of the viewers. As he stated before in one of the Pacific Rim featurette’s, it would’ve been real easy to slide the actors into mo-cap suits (Motion Capture suits) and placed them in a green room, but he said he needed to see the work these pilots were putting in to make this robots work and for that he needed to see resistance. So he built a torture chamber. It worked. These pilots are being put through the paces. When the monster strikes, they feel it and so will you.

The Kaiju themselves are highly imaginative critters. Most based in some way shape or form on animals we know like the shark or gorilla. This is Guillermo’s nod to Japan’s Godzilla films. They are over the top, but deadly and despite how badass these Jaeger’s are, they are without a doubt, formidable. The battles are like watching Greco-Roman wrestling minus the occasional cannon blast not to mention the scope and grandeur leaves no doubt about the size of these creatures. It was like watching huge buildings going at it in the water, the film is meant to make you feel small and it does.

And now the Soundtrack…

Composer Ramin Djawadi (Game of Thrones) and guitarist Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine) do an outstanding job of nurturing that “Led Zepplin Cashmire” vibe to the Biblical proportions of Pacific Rim. The guitars are crunchy and the strings are…stringy.  It never got themey either, meaning, I never expected to hear certain things at certain times. The soundtrack was tasteful and did what any good soundtrack should do…lend itself to the visuals.

Man…I really want to see this film again.

This is why I say Pacific Rim goes big by keeping it simple. Things like story, practical effects,character development, patience, casting,art direction and above all…love, are simple concepts when you really think about them. It’s the root of all the great films of our time and it’s something we see too little of. It’s like the money makes people mad. This is why I commend Guillermo, with a budget like this film had, Pacific Rim could’ve fallen out of his hands and gone the way of Man of Steel. But it never does, his hand could be felt in every frame. Like he had been waiting all his life to make this film. The care is there to immerse you in something you’ve never seen before or at least you thought you had seen, but hadn’t…really.

You see, it’s not hard for directors to get people to believe their world exist, it’s getting people to come back, that’s the hard part.


When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity’s resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes—a washed up former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi)—who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind’s last hope against the mounting apocalypse.

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