Journal

Civilization at the Standard Hotel in Manhattan

Posted on by Joshua Dysart Posted in Animation, Art, Cool Stuff!, Film & TV, Journal | Leave a comment

The Standard Hotel, which is a standard in LA, has recently opened in NY and according to my sources there’s an installation in the elevators behind glass.  As the elevator rises or falls, you watch this bad ass movie…

(click on image to see film)

The director is Marco Brambillo.

– thanks Jack!

Top Films of 2008

Posted on by Joshua Dysart Posted in Film & TV, Journal | Leave a comment

After a lifetime of recommending movies to people then having them come back to me expressing disappointment, I’ve come to notice a few things about my personal aesthetic and how it differs from others.

First of all, it turns out I’m a cinephile. It is cinema that I’m interested in when it comes to the medium of film. That seems obvious, let me explain. Many people think they love film, but really what they love is story. For instance, people will say things like, “that film had no story,” (that’s an easy one) or “nothing happened in that movie, it was too slow,” or “I couldn’t relate to any of the characters,” or “that movie was too depressing”. Those people are looking for a certain kind of narrative experience. And that’s fine. I certainly take story into account too, but more than that, I’m looking at the way a film conducts itself in regards to its form, or I’m looking at the craft the filmmaker employs to create an audio/visual experience unique to this medium. I’m looking for purity of intent and vivaciousness of spirit.

Lastly, I want it understood that I’m not a critic. I’m an enthusiast. There’s a difference. The critics I enjoy, like Jonathan Rosenbaum and a handful of others, tend to be tough. Tougher than me. So often I like something they don’t. Yet I read and enjoy these critics anyway because almost always their complaints are valid, these complaints simply don’t subtract from my enjoyment of the work. By using the title, “Enthusiast” it allows me to wallow in guilty pleasures more than I would accept from someone who called themselves a critic. Though I understand this is purely semantics.

TOP TEN OF 2008

I didn’t see nearly as many new movies this year as I would’ve liked. A whole slew passed by before I could get to the theatre. Much of 2008 was spent watching older films. Subsequently, there may be movies out there that are more deserving than this current top-ten list, but this is where it stands as of the end of year. Some of the foreign films here are from 2007, but I’m basing it on when they got a theatrical run here in the States, or more specifically, Los Angeles.

1. Milk dir: Gus Van Sant (USA)
Let’s count the achievements Gus Van Sant, one of my personal favorites, has accomplished with this film. 1) He’s created a fierce indictment of the anti-gay culture and its political maneuvering, which has plagued California for decades and then released that indictment right into the midst of the powerfully contentious current battle for Proposition 8. Just in time to inspire, educate and mobilize. 2) He has documented with absolute grace the power and passion of political activism and the complex processes by which our leaders navigate this funny little thing called American Democracy. 3) He has built a lyrical poem of such beauty that it will be seen for decades as the premiere political film of the gay movement. 4) He has sounded a wake-up call to gay culture, particularly gay cinema, to step off their style-over-substance path and start taking part in the fierce conversation that good, substantive art allows. 5) He has made me laugh and cry. 6) He has made the best goddamned film of the year. Sean Penn is a powerhouse. Josh Brolin is proving to be one of our most fascinating actors. The world is a better place with this movie in it.
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2. Hunger dir: Steve McQueen (UK/Ireland)
Chronicling the last six weeks in the life of the Irish republican hunger striker Bobby Sands, this is a slow, quiet, devastating piece of cinematic rage and poetry. The movie is almost perfectly structurally balanced with very little dialog save for a 17 minute-long single shot, chronicling a conversation between Bobby and a priest, seemingly placed at the very center of script, like a pivot point. The movie caused some controversy at Cannes – where it won the Camera d’Or award – for it’s perceived glorification of terrorism.

 

 

3. Happy-Go-Lucky dir: Mike Leigh (UK)
Yes, it does have that heavy Mike Leigh hand in regards to the theme. And yet, admittedly, I’m a sucker for Leigh’s work. Very few filmmakers consistently entertain me like he does. I think, in large part, it’s the performances he gets. And while it’s true that his films are thematically reductive, his execution is just… well, it just makes me happy. Why do I feel I need to apologize? Plus, Sally Hawkins’ performance is transcendent. And if she doesn’t get the Oscar its further evidence that the Academy has no idea what it’s doing.
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4. Let the Right One In dir: Tomas Alfredson (Sweden)
In retrospect there’s nothing very original about this vampire film, but as it unfolded before me it felt incredibly fresh and engaging. This movie is extremely well put-together in the way that suits my pallet perfectly. I’ve always been a dope for that cold, distant northern European movie sensibility and this is no exception. Stunning, stunning, stunning.
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5. The Dark Knight Returns dir: Christopher Nolan (USA)
Deeply flawed. Deeply riveting. I thought the first Nolan Batman film was one of the worst films of 2005. I cursed it with disdain. This, to me, is one of the best. So many great performances, and probably the first time I thought Nolan’s direction showed promise. Alas, poor Ledger. A genuine loss.

6. Fear(s) Of The Dark dir: various (France)
Five short animated existentialist horror stories. Not perfect. Often obvious. Rarely scary. But I work in comics, and this year this film showcased some of the most offbeat animation I got to see on the big screen. Having the work of Charles Burns, Lorenzo Mattotti and others unfold with motion and sound was a huge treat for me. And the final short story is an absolute masterpiece of black and white animation.

7. Man on Wire dir: James Marsh (UK/USA)
Documentary about tightrope walker Philippe Petit’s illegal high-wire routine performed between New York City’s World Trade Center’s twin towers in 1974. By making the bulk of the film about breaking into the towers and committing the criminal act of constructing an anchored high wire, this movie flirts with post-9/11-war-on-terror imagery and psychology, even while never mentioning the events of 9/11 itself. This movie is a love song to the towers and to the human spirit. And yet, the movie has me torn between my distrust of its egoistic protagonist and pride in the potential he embodies. That’s a pretty amazing conflict for a movie to instill in you.

8. Frozen River dir: Courtney Hunt (USA)
The movie is about illegal immigration trafficked through the Mohawk reservation between New York State and Quebec. It’s wonderful and simple. One critic wrote that if lead Melissa Leo had been Charlize Theron she would’ve won an Oscar. Agreed. It’s a tense, socially relevant film in which, in the end, no bad happens.

9. Burn After Reading dir: Ethan Coen/Joel Coen (USA/UK/France)
Just fun. Just really, really fun. Even if the big stars were hard to swallow in their roles. C’mon… you know you had fun. Just admit it and we can move on.

10. Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired dir: Marina Zenovich (USA/UK)
About the scandal and tragedy which led to Polanski’s flight from the United States. Deeply engrossing, but perhaps a little too easy on Polanski himself, even if it was a bulldozer of injustice that sent him fleeing. My film-fanatic nature and obsession with the work and life of Polanski may have placed this higher than it deserves, but I have to say, I enjoyed it a great deal.

FIVE FILMS FULL OF SPIRIT

There were a handful of films this year that were guilty pleasures for me. Films that, while not cracking the top, still turned out to make for wonderful nights at the movies.

1. Doubt dir: John Patrick Shanley (USA)
Hoffman… Streep… a period film about a church in transition, gender politics and… well, the nature of certainty and doubt. It’s awesome to witness these two leads acting together. Their scenes are the most riveting in the film. But even Hoffman begins to show the slightest of limitations in front of the transformative light that Streep emits. The direction is pretty basic here, except when it starts to get a little heavy handed, and all in all it probably had more impact as a stage play. But it’s a fine, fine movie.

2. JCVD dir: Mabrouk El Mechri (Belgium/Luxembourg/France)
I am 37 years old, and that means I’m a child of Blood Sport. I was 17 and had begun to grow out of the 80’s action hero films when it hit, but it was undeniable that Jean-Claude Van Damme’s kicking abilities were a wonder of the modern world. So when I got word early this year, that Van Damme was starring in a film that was not only named after him, but promised to be a deconstructionist meta-flick about the current state of his life and career, something inside of me, some hidden, far-away child, became filled with unbridled joy. I went on the opening weekend here in LA, and let me tell you, this movie is totally worth watching. I thought about it for days afterwards. I considered going and seeing it again inside of the first week. Some scenes are complete gold. But the movie is whiny in parts. If only it had been just a little more honest, placing at least some of the blame for his sub-par career on Van Damme himself, this movie would’ve easily made my top-ten.

3. The Strangers dir: Bryan Bertino (USA)
You’ve seen it all before. A couple in an isolated home is terrorized. There’s a creaky swing set outside blowing in the wind and a barn just beyond it with a two-way radio in it. If you can just get to the barn alive and radio for help – now that the phone lines have been cut – you might make it to dawn. See what I mean? There’s absolutely nothing new here. And yet… and yet… superior direction and wonderful performances make it one of the best horror films I’ve seen in a long time. I’m a blues fan, so I know how to take a well-played standard over an original piece of crap. This, my friends, is a well-played standard.
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4. Pineapple Express dir: David Gordon Green (USA)
I laughed. I laughed a lot. Admittedly the last act became pretty uninteresting to me, but let it not be said that I did not laugh. A lot.

5. The Bank Job dir: Roger Donaldson (UK)
Not bad. Not bad at all. Surprising, really. I mean the script, which is engaging, is not what you would call “tight”. The direction is a little enamored with itself. But all in all… not bad. I’d totally watch it again.

FIVE FILMS THAT LET ME DOWN

Pretty self-explanatory really… it’s not that these are the worst films of the year, just the most disappointing. Right. On with it. These are in the order of least offense (1) to most (5).

1. Synecdoche, New York dir: Charlie Kaufman (USA)
Okay Kaufman, time to climb out of your own ass. Seriously. I mean, it’s not that this movie sucks, don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t suck. Far from it. I’ll probably even watch it again at some point. But it’s so overstuffed with events, so obvious in its metaphors, and the entire last act is basically you just hammering away on me with your theme (please don’t have your characters tell me what your movie is about over and over and over again – especially when you’ve just spent two hours SHOWING me what it’s about). And all of this rolling around in your own emasculation like a dog rolling in shit… for god sakes, man! I don’t mind that it’s challenging, I don’t mind that its various narratives are obtuse, hell, that’s the good stuff, but please, please take on the difficult task, just once, just once, of touching your audience emotionally instead of intellectually. I know you can do it. You’re an incredibly talented guy. Come on, Kaufman… I dare ya.
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2. Red dir: Trygve Allister Diesen/Lucky McKee (USA)
Oh Red, you are graced with such fine performances (Goddamn, I love me some Cox), such a wonderful premise and such potential for beauty. Yet you are so poorly directed and have huge problems with your script. The Red that might have been lives on in my heart, while this one, I will probably never see again.

3. Mongol dir: Sergei Bodrov (Kazakhstan/Russia/Mongolia/Germany)
Man, what a waste. There was the potential for a sweeping epic drama infused with the realism of the film Himalaya. Instead we got high shutter-speed action scenes that were impossible to read, a clumsy narrative and, all and all, a tedious movie for people who think the Russian pile of shit Nightwatch is cool. Bummer.

4. Quantum of Solace dir: Marc Forster (UK/USA)
They’re fucking it up. It’s only the second time out of the gate with the new Bond and already they’re fucking it up. Please, please do not let Forster direct the third one. Please! I had a really good time at Casino Royale. I mean it wasn’t perfect, and it’s true I bitched about some of those imperfections at the time, but I had no idea they were going to just shit on the franchise so soon after such an impressive reboot. I’m begging them. The script for Quantum is like a script for a video game, complete with poorly written, but brief, cut scenes between relatively non-stop action sequences. And Forster, who made the interesting, but far from perfect Monster’s Ball can’t direct an action movie to save his life. The action scenes were simply awful. Look, man, here’s the deal, Daniel Craig is the first James Bond to ever even come close to Sean Connery in my book… I have a huge straight-boy crush on the man. When I’m in a tight jam, I ask myself, “WWDC do?” So please, please, give him better material on the third time out. And ask Martin Campbell back… nicely. Or maybe pitch it to Alfonso Cuaron? The action scenes in Children of Men were amazingly well-directed and he’s capable of complex emotion. Let Forster go back to what he’s good at. Independent dramas.
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5. Son Of Rambow dir: Garth Jennings (France /UK/Germany)
Fuck you, Son of Rambow!! You audience whore!! You cock sucking piece of mainstream shit parading around like an art-house flick with your made to order IFC approved ending. Fuck you in the ass! You are a traitor to Cinema! You are worse than Michael Bay’s unwatchable drivel, because your intentions are two-faced. At least Bay knows what he is… but you. You’re just a piece of shit!

49 FILMS THAT, SADLY, PASSED ME BY…

These are the films that caught my eye throughout the year. Movies I really wanted to see but didn’t for various reasons. Either their short run simply didn’t allow it or they won’t be coming to LA until 2009 (in which case they’ll be considered for the 2009 list). Sadly, this year’s list is a long one. Because I can give no value judgment on a film I haven’t seen, these are simply listed in alphabetical order.

4 months, 3 weeks 2 days dir: Cristian Mungiu (Romania)
Story of an illegal abortion in Romania, where thousands have died due to botched black market operations of this sort. If you haven’t figured it out, I’m a fan of social cinema. So this is right up my alley.

Anita O’Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer dir: Robbie Cavolina/ Ian McCrudden (USA)
A documentary on jazz diva Anita O’Day. Completed just shortly after her death. Promises oodles of cool performance footage. I’m ready to fall in love with Anita all over again. I really wish I had caught this one in the theatre.
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August Evening dir: Chris Eska (USA)
A movie with a vaguely Bergmanesque title about an aging undocumented farm worker. The trailer looks delicate and divine. Sold.

The Band’s Visit dir: Eran Kolirin (Israel/France/USA)
The press on this movie is just outstanding. And the sense I have of this unseen movie itself really makes my movie-radar go off. The tagline for this flick is, “Once – not long ago – a small Egyptian police band arrived in Israel. Not many remember this. It wasn’t that important.” Sounds awesome! Non?

Before the Fall dir: F. Javier Gutierrez (Spain)
The Comet is coming. The end is near. There is a struggle to live. This cliche always has potential. Bring it!
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Boarding Gate dir: Olivier Assayas (France/Luxembourg)
I don’t know. It probably sucks, like most of Asia Argento’s movies, but I just can’t deny the urge to see her towering above me on the big screen. My crush on her certainly has something to do with watching her be sexualized in her father’s movies as I was coming into “awareness”… What’re you gonna do? Not be a man? Sigh. I should’ve probably put The Last Mistress here instead, also with Argento. That movie has gotten better word of mouth. But she’s half-naked and holding a handgun on the poster of this one. I’m sorry, I know, I’m lame, but I can’t be all pretentious all of the time. Oh Asia…

Che dir: Steven Soderbergh (Spain/France/USA)
I’m not a big Soderbergh fan. In fact I’ve yet to see him pull off a movie based on its substance instead of his style. But Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara is one of the most fascinating, complex and polarizing figures of the last 100 years. If this is done right… it could be Soderbergh’s masterpiece. Also, Del Toro certainly seems like inspired casting. This one is pretty high on the list of must-sees.
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The Children dir: Tom Shankland (UK)
Virtually every film critic who specializes in horror has placed this film at the top of his or her lists. I love horror movies. Word on the street (the street being IMDB) is that it’s about a relaxing Christmas vacation that turns into a terrifying fight for survival when children begin to turn on their parents. Awesome!

The Class dir: Laurent Cantet (France)
Yes, the trailer makes it look like another inspiring inner-city teacher story, but Laurent Cantet is awesome and I trust him implicitly. I thought Time Out was wonderful. Plus this was the one that took the Palme d’Or at Cannes this year. And that’s always worth checking out.

The Cottage dir: Paul Andrew Williams (UK)
A kidnapping gone badly turns into a comedy of errors and horrors. Supposedly it’s an example of that tricky mix (the afore mentioned comedy/horror) done right. We’ll see. The trailer is certainly entertaining.

Encounters at the End of the World dir: Werner Herzog (USA)
Werner Herzog in Antarctica… there’s not much else to say really. Except that I want to see this really, really badly.
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Gomorrah dir: Matteo Garrone (Italy)
Has been hailed as a powerful but realistic film about Italy’s modern-day crime families. Has hit the top-ten list of virtually every critic I enjoy reading. Seems like a must-see to me. I’ll be getting to this one as soon as I can.

Frost/Nixon dir: Ron Howard (USA/UK/France)
Ron Howard… man… That guy… I just… well, I just hate his movies, you know… I mean I hate them. Nothing personal. I’m sure he’s a really, really nice person. But his movies are so reductive and manipulative. Unfortunately the subject matter on this one cannot be denied and I think Peter Morgan is a hell of a writer. So once again, I go into Howard’s breach hoping for the best (how’s that for a sentence?). I’ll be seeing it very soon, as I’m uncharacteristically excited about it.

Frownland dir: Ronald Bronstein (USA)
According to IMDB it’s about a door-to-door coupon salesman who eats popcorn & eggs out of his kitchen oven. God only knows what the hell that means. By all reports this movie is supposed to be insane and repulsive. I’m in.
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Funny Games dir: Michael Haneke (USA/France/UK/Austria/Germany/Italy)
I have to say, I had powerfully mixed reactions to the original (also by Haneke). I mean I literally can’t say whether I liked it or hated it. And I do think it’s always an interesting artistic exorcise when a filmmaker remakes a film within different cultural parameters. So this movie about two psychotic, young, well-off men taking a family hostage in their vacation cabin barely makes the list, but it’s still here.

The Good, the Bad and the Weird dir: Ji-woon Kim (South Korea)
Three Korean outlaws in 1930s Manchuria deal with the Japanese army and Chinese and Russian bandits. Plus the title references one of the greatest films of all time. Are you seriously going to tell me your curiosity isn’t peaked? No? Check out the trailer…

Happiness dir: Jin-ho Hur (South Korea)
A love story about two people suffering from severe illness. Sounds awesome (I’m not being facetious, seriously). Not to be confused with the hilarious Todd Solondz film of the same name.
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In Search of a Midnight Kiss dir: Alex Holdridge (USA)
The press on this – from press I respect – has just been over the top with the gush. Many are calling it the film Woody Allen would’ve made if he were 20 years-old today and living in LA. Which isn’t saying much since Allen didn’t really knock it out of the park until Annie Hall, when he was in his forties. Still, I get what they mean. I’m pretty curious about it.

Inside dir: Alexandre Bustillo/Julien Maury (France)
Holy shit! This flick looks awesome. Has the potential to be a smart, engaging horror film with buckets and buckets of blood! Very high on the list! Please don’t let me down, Inside!
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It’s a Free World dir: Ken Loach (UK/Italy/Germany/Spain/Poland)
Ken Loach represents the very best of socially conscious, humanist cinema. He always gets my money. ‘Nuff said.

I’ve Loved You so Long dir: Philippe Claudel (France/Germany)
Kristin Scott Thomas playing a woman who is coming out of prison after 15 years. Plus she’s acting in French. Love it. Absolutely can’t wait.

Jerusalema dir: Ralph Ziman (South Africa)
I got no excuse for this one. The word of mouth is good, for what that’s worth. Crime on teh South African streets. Okay.

Katyn dir: Andrzej Wajda (Poland)
For almost 60 years Andrzej Wajda has been making movies, including one of my top twenty of all time, Ashes and Diamonds. When he turns his camera on a subject, I watch. It’s that simple. This one is “an examination of the Soviet slaughter of thousands of Polish officers and citizens in the Katyn forest in 1940.” Cool.

Kisses dir: Lance Daly (Ireland/Sweden)
“Two kids, Dylan and Kylie, run away from home at Christmas and spend a night of magic and terror on the streets of inner-city Dublin.” Doesn’t that sound nice! Does to me.
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Lou Reed’s Berlin dir: Julian Schnabel (USA/UK)
I do not like Julian Schnabel’s movies. Humorless style-over-substance directors are my pet peeve. Basquiat was amateurish and Before Night Falls was just plain awful. But this one has Lou Reed performing in it, so for that alone, it makes the list.
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Midnight Meat Train dir: Ryuhei Kitamura (USA)
What the fuck happened to this movie?! It played for one night… ONE NIGHT… at the Nuart around the corner from me. Was someone trying to burry it? Does it suck that bad? I don’t care. Back when I was a kid reading the “Books of Blood” (with the cheesy horror mask covers – remember?) “Midnight Meat Train” was the one story I fantasized about turning into a movie. And now, someone more ambitious than I has done it. So let’s see it already!

Mister Lonely dir: Harmony Korine (UK/France/Ireland/USA)
First off, Harmony Korine is a fucking nutter. And that’s a good thing. Secondly, dig on the plot description from IMDB: “In Paris, a young American who works as a Michael Jackson look-alike meets Marilyn Monroe, who invites him to her commune in Scotland, where she lives with Charlie Chaplin and her daughter, Shirley Temple.” PS: Samantha Morton plays Marilyn Monroe. Let’s all go see this tomorrow. Together.

My Father My Lord dir: David Volach (Israel)
“A respected rabbi is forced to come to terms with the demands of his faith and the welfare of his own family.” Traditional religion struggling in the face of modernity. Looking forward to it. It certainly looks beautiful.
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My Winnipeg dir: Guy Maddin (Canada)
Guy Maddin is awesome! One of the top filmmakers working in the world today as far as I’m concerned. His vision is singular, his aesthetic unwavering, his very existence a gift. The Saddest Music In The World and Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary were masterpieces. This film is very high on my list of must-sees.

Martyrs dir: Pascal Laugier (France/Canada)
“A young woman’s quest for revenge against the people who kidnapped and tormented her as a child leads her and a friend, who is also a victim of child abuse, on a terrifying journey into a living hell of depravity.” Heh… cool. Unfortunately it’s the filmmaker who made Brotherhood of the Wolf, and I thought that was pretty lame. Still, the trailer for this is unrelenting and has certainly caught my attention. He’s also been tapped to reboot the Hellraiser franchise.

The Orphanage dir: Juan Antonio Bayona (Mexico/Spain)
It just looks so sad and poetic. A true old school gothic ghost tale. This one’s high on the list.

Repo! The Genetic Opera dir: Darren Lynn Bousman (USA)
A rock-opera about repossessing human organs for a biotech corporation in a cyberpunk future. It barely squeaked onto this list, and that’s only because of the uniqueness it promises. What it has going against it is that it’s directed by a guy who wrote and directed a few Saw movies. So, admittedly, I’m going in holding a lot against it. Maybe his true potential has been unlocked here.
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Silent Light dir: Carlos Reygadas (Mexico/France/Netherlands/Germany)
Carlos Reygadas is AWESOME!! Battle in Heaven remains one of my favorite films of the oughts (or whatever we’re calling the period from 2000 to 2009). I can’t wait to see this.

Sleep Dealer dir: Alex Rivera (USA/Mexico)
Set in a near-future, militarized world marked by closed borders, virtual labor and a global digital network that joins minds and experiences… it could be interesting, it could suck. The potential for both seems pretty equal at this point.

Slumdog Millionaire dir: Danny Boyle (UK/USA)
I don’t like Danny Boyle. I mean, I’m sure he’s a nice guy and all, but every time I get conned by the hype surrounding a Boyle film, I get fucked out of a night of decent cinema. I’ll say, “Oh, awesome, a zombie movie!” and then end up sitting through an hour and a half of derivative tripe. Or I’ll be like, “Cool! Science Fiction!” And come blinking and dazed out of Assshine promising myself that I will never, ever see another Danny Boyle film for as long as I live. And yet… again, here I am, thinking, “Ohhh… a western culture riff on Bollywood! Cool!” So, you know, we’ll see. Unfortunately I’m pretty excited about it.
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Snow Angels dir: David Gordon Green (USA)
Same director who did Pineapple Express, so he’s showing some versatility, and he’s writing the remake of Suspira. So I’d like to look into his work some more. There’s some potential for him. We’ll see.

The Song of Sparrows dir: Majid Majidi (Iran)
I don’t know anything about this movie. Only that I want to see more Iranian films and this one pretty much swept the Fajr Film Festival and also kicked ass in Berlin. So, yeah, there you go. I want to see it.

Sparrow dir: Johnny To (Hong Kong)
Pick pocket gangs on the streets of Hong Kong. What’s not to like? Also, To has done a shit load of work and I’ve never gotten around to seeing one of his films. Hopefully this will be the one.
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The Square dir: Nash Edgerton (Australia)
Supposedly a relatively intense thriller. Thriller and horror movies always get my attention. Sadly, most of them suck. This one is directed by a stuntman… which doesn’t bode well. But if it crosses my path I’ll give it a shot.

Stuck dir: Stuart Gordon (Canada/USA/UK/Germany)
Because you can’t let a Stuart Gordon movie pass you by without at least sniffing its ass. Might smell like roses, might smell like shit, you just never know. I’m pretty jazzed to see it though. Gordon is scrappy and funny and despite never having any money, is always working on something potentially interesting. That makes him aces enough in my book.
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Sukiyaki Western Django dir: Takashi Miike (Japan)
In 2008 no less than 5 new Takashi Miike films were released in the United States… yes, that’s 5 (2 made in 2007, 3 in 2008). You can’t keep up with him. He’s an OCD riddled filmmaking machine. Not all of the movies are good, but they are always, always entertaining. This one, his remake of the classic Spaghetti Western Django, is, of the 5, the one I’m most excited to see.

Taxi to the Dark Side dir: Alex Gibney (USA)
Could possibly be the final word on why America’s torture polices simply don’t work. Very interested in this one.
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Terribly Happy dir: Henrik Ruben Genz (Denmark)
I love Danish cinema. I mean not all of it, but when it hits that sweet spot, damn… it ranks with some of the best Cinema in the world. And this one took awards at festivals all across Europe. So I’m interested. We’ll see.

Tokyo Sonata dir: Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Japanese)
I love Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Cure is one of the absolute finest New Wave J-Horror films ever made. And to see a master of horror move to a genre like the family drama fills me with excitement. Pound for pound, nobody shows restraint, even while playing with form, like Kiyoshi Kurosawa. I’m very, very, very excited for this movie.
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Trick ‘r Treat dir: Michael Dougherty (Canada/USA)
Word is that this is one of the absolute best horror films of the year, and a lot of fun to boot. And yet, it’s written and directed by the guy who wrote X2 and Superman Returns. I did not like those movies. I did not like those movies at all. Perhaps with him in the director’s chair, and, I’m assuming, with more control, this will turn out different.

Waltz With Bashir dir: Ari Folman (Israel/Germany/France/USA)
This movie has been winning awards all over the world and I love, LOVE, the unique animation. It just looks amazing! This film is very high on my “want-to-see” list. Very high.

Wall*E dir: Andrew Stanton (USA)
I know, I know… it’s supposed to be awesome…

The Wrestler dir: Darren Aronofsky (USA)
I am not an Aronofsky fan. It’s not that I don’t like watching a filmmaker jerk-off. God knows I do. I just don’t like it when they’re humorless self-absorbed masturbators. Pi was painfully annoying in it’s “cleverness” (why are all the actors yelling at each other all the time?) And Requiem for a Dream turned out to be a very well directed, yet annoying, after-school special with naughty bits. I didn’t see The Fountain and, honestly, I really don’t care to. But The Wrestler… I mean have you seen the trailer!? Oh my god… this looks like movie heaven to me! I can’t wait! Can not wait!! Absolute top of the list!
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Zift dir: Javor Gardev (Bulgaria)
Just another film that’s being celebrated all over the world and I can’t seem to find Stateside. Hope to come across it in the new-year. The Trailer looks awesome!

Space Alone

Posted on by Joshua Dysart Posted in Animation, Journal | Leave a comment

A short and sad animation by Ilias Sounas.

Nemesis Required

Posted on by Joshua Dysart Posted in Cool Stuff!, Journal | Leave a comment

From the job’s postings section of Craigslist entitled, “Nemesis required. 6-month project with possibilty to extend”

“…in short, I need a nemesis. I’m willing to pay $350 up front for you services as an arch enemy over the next six months… British accent preferred.” [sic]

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Full posting here

FBI Charges Blind Phone Phreak With Intimidating a Verizon Security Official

Posted on by Joshua Dysart Posted in Cool Stuff!, Journal, News & Politics, Science & Tech | Leave a comment

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Matthew Weigman, a blind hacker who has been under investigation since he was 15 years-old has been arrested just two months after his 18th birthday.

The article (linked below) is fascinating. However, even more interesting are the two recorded phone calls you can listen to on the sidebar. One is of Weigman making an inter-company call to a Verizon phone operator and posing as a fellow phone employee to fish for data. The other is of Weigman making a 2005 “swatting” call that sent police to the Colorado home of Richard Gasper, a TSA screener whose daughter refused phone sex with Weigman.

Fascinating stuff.

Click here for the article.

Up until now Weigman, who was taking in by FBI already once in December of 2007 (while still a minor) has, up until now, been known only as “Li’l Hacker” by the press. As of turning 18, he’s no longer protected by juvenile civility laws.

Here’s the article from last December.

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