Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Why We Should Talk 'The Walk'

For starters, I think it's a bit strange and upsetting that the name Robert Zemeckis doesn't come up in conversation as much as it should. This is a guy who has been successfully and consistently churning out great movies for over 3 decades. Zemeckis is a name that should be in the same echelon as Spielberg save for one crucial aspect, he doesn't make nearly as many films as Spielberg does. 

Now as far as the 80's and 90's go, this man was on top of his game. He gave us classics like the Back to the Future films, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Death Becomes Her, and Forest Gump. Approaching the millennium we got Contact and Cast Away which are both superb. But the 21st century has not quite been a banner century for Zemeckis, that is to say not until now. But I believe this film could change the course of his career.

Zemeckis aside, 'The Walk' should be at the top of everyone's list as most anticipated for 2015. JGL, Ben Kingsley, and Ben Schwartz instill staunch firepower in the acting department, and I'm very excited to see what Charlotte Le Bon brings to the table. Levitt will be playing Philippe Petit, who's true story was already told in the phenomenal documentary 'Man On Wire'. Petit is a passionate dreamer who seems to draw others into his wake. Those around him feel inspired by his drive and his focus and it makes them feel alive to be part of it. When illegally walking a wire between the Twin Towers, unharnessed, becomes his life goal, he will stop at nothing to achieve it. I don't know that I've ever seen a documentary so riveting, and I think that it's feature film adaptation is in the right hands. 

I'm elated to see Zemeckis and Levitt working together. Zemeckis needs a new big hit, and while Levitt has been steadily acting in great movies, he hasn't really had a big starring role in a few years aside from Don Jon, which I feel flew slightly under the radar. The film made money but it also had a very low budget. This could be the big one that ignites some oscar buzz. Also, playing off of Kingsley, I think that JGL is going to rise to the challenge and really show his chops with this performance. As long as he can nail that french accent...

The teaser they have released sets an excellent tone (aside from the big flying letters, chill with that) without showing much of anything. Not even a word of dialogue spoken. I hope the future trailers won't reveal too much as well. I will probably not watch them as I know that I will be seeing this opening weekend, regardless. My only other fear is with this great team of artists working together that they don't try to make this film more of an action movie. It is imperative to keep that noir, dark motif that the documentary had, especially in the reenactments. It's a wonderful story and it should be told in a minimalistic way without adding explosions or unnecessary pulse raising. The story is exciting without all that. This should be a suspenseful nail biter that, at times, makes you forget to breath, and they have all the ingredients to give us just that. I believe in you Zemeckis. Don't let me down!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Problem with Dark Knight Rises, and Hopes for Batman v Superman

With the incalculable stream of superhero fodder taking place in the world today, I felt it necessary to offer up some of my thoughts on an important staple in that realm. Batman. Perhaps the most beloved superhero to date with enough iterations to bewilder any historian. Everyone seems to have an opinion on what the ideal portrayal of Batman should be. He has been shown as dark, silly, ruthless, intelligent, ironically superhuman, campy, witty, infallible, immortal, perky-nippled, neon, greyscale, cunning, abusive, unsympathetic, empathetic, compassionate, scornful, vindictive, and several other adjectives to boot. I feel for the soul that would have to peruse that dossier. Having said that, certain disappointments will always be inevitable when the Dark Knight graces our screen. 

So let's talk about some! Now I'll be the first to say that Christopher Nolan's trilogy is fantastic and those DVDs will remain in my household's circulation, perpetually. However, there was one thing about Dark Knight Rises that really kicked my childhood in the throat. Where are the fucking gadgets?!! (It was hard to stop at just 2 exclamation points right there) I mean seriously, this whole damn movie was just one long boxing match. I know that they were very excited about featuring the Keysi fighting method in this film, which is all fine and good, but for me what always made Batman so fun and exciting were the gadgets. That's what makes Batman Batman. Is there a more iconic line from any Batman film than Jack Nicholson's "Where does he get those wonderful toys?"? I think not. Line Launcher, Batarang, Ultrasonic Bat Beacon, sir? This movie gives me worse blue balls than Sophomore year dry humping. Give me my toys, Nolan. If anything, the only thing more important to Batman being Batman than his utility belt is the fact that he is a master of stealth and ninjutsu; a creature of the night. So why oh why does this movie revolve around Batman having fist fights in broad fucking daylight? Is Bane's visceral bruteness giving Batman an inferiority complex? Bruce, put down the 'roids and Monster energy drink and pick up your grapple and some smoke pellets. You're a billionaire. Whip out some cool shit and dim the lights. Batman is a ninja, a billionaire ninja. There is no reason he should have to sweat that much in the hot Gotham sun. 

Again, I love all of these films, and I appreciate the fact that Batman's gadgets in the 90's films got progressively silly, but to basically omit that aspect of our hero is borderline sacrilege. But at the end of the day, especially when compared to Schumacher's abominations, Nolan gave us some tremendous spectacles that I will forever adore. So let's move on to my next topic, Batman v Superman.

Let me just go ahead and preface this by saying that if you're a Ben Affleck hater and that's the best argument you can offer against this film then just shut your little lips. I mean come on, Affleck was the bomb in Phantoms…. But really, I realize that Daredevil was a travesty, but don't let that "blind" you from the fact that Affleck has a pretty impressive body of work. Let's also not forget that Ryan Reynolds, who is now playing Deadpool, somehow got a pass for Green Lantern. Yikes.

Ok, let's say you're cool with Affleck, and your beef rather lies with Zach Snyder. I realize that this is a tough one, and he wouldn't be my first pick to take the reigns on a Batman flick, but he has made some good films. A lot of folks lambasted him for Man of Steel, for a lot of reasons with which I agree, but at the root of it I'm glad that he did what he did. I've never been a huge fan of Superman to be honest. That's not to say I didn't watch the movies or read the comics as a kid. I did. The guy can fly, and to attain that power was my number one goal in life until I was roughly 16. But Superman was just always a little too… bright for me. I was mesmerized by the dark tone of Batman and the grittiness of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. While the Turtles' films got exponentially repugnant, the first is tastefully dramatic and well done and has stood the test of time. I'll cover more of that in a separate article. Superman was a bit too frilly and Clark Kent just got under my skin. I think it's surprising that the biggest problem people had with Man of Steel was it's tone when, in my opinion, that was the best thing it had going for it. The biggest flaw that film has is clearly the writing. It was not a top notch script and somehow, even though the movie runs over 2 hours, it feels shockingly rushed. They could've traded a solid 25 minutes of gratuitous building smashing to at least make these characters remotely believable. I've never seen people act so casual about the discovery of and interaction with extraterrestrials that clearly want to exterminate the human race. However, Snyder wanted to make a darker Superman film and I commend him for that. In this day and age I am so shocked that he actually had to campaign against Superman's red panties. This is a problem people have? They want more panties? But I digress. Let's address the reasons that I'm at least curious about the upcoming film. 

This is a movie that I will go see in theaters without any great expectations. I don't expect it to be fantastic, but I do believe that it will be entertaining. At this point, we have so many goddamned reboots and remakes and reimaginings and spin-offs and offshoots and detours and whatever the fuck, that I don't feel like anything new is going to take away from the old anymore. I will always have the Batman that I love, so if people want to continue bastardizing every superhero that ever existed, then just.. fine. If there is anything that I hope for with this movie it is that Snyder will reintroduce the wonderment of Batman's gadgets. And I can only imagine that if Batman is supposed to hold a candle to Superman that he would have to. I don't really care why they are fighting, I don't care that people can't comprehend why Superman and Batman would ever succumb to being pitted against each other. I just want to see some cool Batman action. Go nuts, Snyder. Make it dark. Make it wrong. Make it morally reprehensible. Just please, please give me the toys! Also, if you could back off of the CGI about 25 percent that would help. I would actually like to see some real images. If you want complete carte blanche in your action and destruction just make a fucking cartoon. But if you want to deal with real human flesh and tangible imagery then go shoot on location for once, fuck stick. 

It is a very volatile time that we live in right now when it comes to the world of vigilantes. What was once a niche genre has become not only commonplace but is at the forefront of Hollywood, and it has not been without turbulence. Cinema is not at it's greatest, and a lot of cash grabs are being manufactured by the bundle, but amidst the refuse there are some treasures and cinematic evolution will weed out the banalities and nourish the successes. For now we must grit our teeth through a handful of duds and trust that some people still have the courage to do right by us and not take big, pejorative shits on the faces of Bob Kane and Stan Lee. Don't shit on their faces! I think that's chapter 2 from Emily Post. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

James Franco, Spring Breakers, and Relating to Characters

I was watching a news show the other day in which they were discussing James Franco, quite sardonically, in reference to the film Spring Breakers. Not only were they saying that it was a "bad film" in such a factual manner, but they went as far as to mock it. Like clearly nobody actually thinks this thing is any good. As someone who loves this film, I was a little miffed.

 While the film did get some pretty great reviews from certain critics, it always felt like a lot of people did not consider it worth taking seriously. They felt it was gratuitous, trashy, over-the-top, offensive, and violent. Oddly enough these aren't traits that typically deem a movie "bad". Rather quite the opposite as I'm sure you could say the same things about a handful of Tarantino films, and I'm pretty sure he is quite highly lauded. Maybe an aspect that people felt was lacking from SB was relating with the characters. As we know, Ol' QT loves to get us all buddy buddy with his extraordinary characters by giving them commonplace discourse in between their frightening exploits that makes us feel like "hey, I could be these guys", and he does it masterfully. That being said, I don't think that a character has to be directly relatable to be enjoyable. I like to find a relation, a distant one even, and get inside that character as much as I can, but at the end of the day I don't relate to MOST people so why would I need to relate to the colorful characters that entertain me? All that matters to me is "do I enjoy watching this person".

 Getting back to Spring Breakers and the characters it portrays, Hell YEA I enjoy watching these people. They're fucking entertaining. Some might think they are a bit far fetched, but you would be surprised. I don't think anyone in this film is a far cry from our real life inhabitants. I've known some that were pretty close. And James Franco's character.. my lord. While I was pretty sure he would not be nominated for a Golden Globe or an Oscar, I was prepared to be upset when he wasn't. This is as masterful a performance from Franco that we've probably ever seen. He is great at immersing himself into his characters and that was undeniable here. I would put this role on par with Gary Oldman's "Drexl" in True Romance, which was penned by Tarantino. Franco nailed it and he basically carried the movie in a supporting role. The "Look at my shit" scene was tip top. It's funny as hell, but it's also kind of tragic and frightening. That's basically the whole movie. It's dark as midnight yet glowing neon bright, it's sordid but celebratory. It makes you laugh one moment and shake your head in disgust another. And I really enjoyed Korine's "fluid narrative" as he calls it, which allows for constant jumps in time, replaying scenes and dialogue, layering scenes and shots, giving us extremely stylized and haunting sequences.

 So I guess it's not for everyone, I can certainly understand that. But what I was shocked by was the initial view of this film, which was that it was just a big joke that was nothing more than a hack filmmaker duping some young disney girls into wearing bikinis and talking about dicks.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ripstik - Internet Spot #3

Finally released! a bit late, but hey, thanks guys.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Butterfinger Contest - Office Freak Out

my commercial for Butterfinger that I made for a contest they had. Did not win, unfortunately :(

written/directed/edited by - Jamie Olmstead
produced by - Jamie Olmstead & Zach Slocum
director of photography - Graham Preston

Intense Revelations of a Young Man

A short that I made in 24 hours for the Atlanta Film Race '09

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

"Dollar" Bill Greenburg

From the "Dandy Dwarves". This was one of my favorite's to come from Scad Shorts.