film survey

I've been coming across a lot of interesting film surveys lately on some of my favorite movie sites. While I read the questions and then the answers that various web users had posted and then reflected on what my answers would be and then wondered how some of my friends or family would answer, I realized something. I think I enjoy talking about movies a little bit more than I do actually watching them.
That's a hard fact for me to swallow. Me, the guy who loves movies and can't get enough of them. I accept that I don't have as much free time to just watch a movie when I feel like it; getting married and working for a living has cut down on my viewing time dramatically, not that there's anything wrong with that.
In college I hosted screenings at the house I lived in and watched at least two or three more movies on my own in only a week's time. Now I'm down to one new movie a week, sometimes none. I find myself carefully selecting the next film I am willing to devote time to and setting a time when I'll be able to watch it. Occasionally I'll catch up with friends and family and that's when I really seem to enjoy movies as of late, when I'm talking about them.
So here are a few of my favorite questions from other surveys that I'm throwing out there (modified with some questions of my own design).

1) What film made you angry, either while watching it or in thinking about it afterward?
2) One of your favorite movie lines
3) Describe a perfect moment in a movie
4) Most exotic or otherwise unusual place in which you ever saw a movie
5) Is it possible to know with any certainty if you could like or love someone based partially on his or her taste in movies? If so, what film might be a potential relationship deal-breaker for you, or the one that might just seal that deal?
6) The scene you most wish you could have witnessed being filmed
7) Ideal pairing of actors/actresses to play on-screen siblings (or parents and children)
8) Your favorite movie poster/one-sheet, or the one you’d most like to own
9) With total disregard for whether it would ever actually be considered, even in this age of movie recycling, what film exists that you feel might actually warrant a sequel, or would produce a sequel you’d actually be interested in seeing?
10) Your favorite political movie
11) Favorite special effects moment
12) What is the movie you’ve encouraged more people to see than any other?
13) Your favorite movie theater
14) Your favorite film made for children
15) Your favorite character name
16) Your favorite film of 1970s, -80s, -90s
17) Your favorite movie based on a book you've read
18) Your favorite book you'd like to see as a movie and who should direct and star
19) Describe a moment in a movie that made you weep
20) Describe a transcendent moment in a film (a moment when you realized a film that just seemed routine or merely interesting before had become something much more)

Post your answers as comments or email them to me at filmnarrative@yahoo.com


death list five

In case you're planning on dying soon, here is the list of 50 movies you should see before said impending doom according to the Sunday Mail website:

1 Apocalypse Now
2 The Apartment
3 City of God
4 Chinatown
5 Sexy Beast
6 2001: A Space Odyssey
7 North by Northwest
8 A Bout de Souffle
9 Donnie Darko
10 Manhattan
11 Alien
12 Lost in Translation
13 The Shawshank Redemption
14 Lagaan: Once Upon A Time in India
15 Pulp Fiction
16 Touch of Evil
17 Walkabout
18 Black Narcissus
19 Boyz n the Hood
20 The Player
21 Come and See
22 Heavenly Creatures
23 A Night at the Opera
24 Erin Brockovich
25 Trainspotting
26 The Breakfast Club
27 Hero
28 Fanny and Alexander
29 Pink Flamingos
30 All About Eve
31 Scarface
32 Terminator 2
33 Three Colours: Blue
34 The Royal Tenenbaums
35 The Ladykillers
36 Fight Club
37 The Searchers
38 Mulholland Drive
39 The Ipcress File
40 The King of Comedy
41 Manhunter
42 Dawn of the Dead
43 Princess Mononoke
44 Raising Arizona
45 Cabaret
46 This Sporting Life
47 Brazil
48 Aguirre: The Wrath of God
49 Secrets and Lies
50 Badlands

I like it, it's a good list, obviously some glaring absences: Star Wars (at least the first one), Casablanca, Lawrence of Arabia; but all-in-all it's a good variety. It was compiled by a group of experts, but we don't know who they are, the story didn't elaborate. For the record I've seen 27 of them, so I guess I better take care of myself, I have quite a bit of viewing to do before I go.

In other news, can you guess today's birthday boy by the characters he's played?

Jim Williams

Verbal Kint

Lester Burnham

Bobby Darin

Lex Luthor

That's right... Kevin Spacey is 47 today and shares birthdays with Sandra Bullock, Kate Beckinsale and the late Stanley Kubrick

russian sci-fi gives me the creeps

Last night I finally got around to watching my latest Netflix delivery Night Watch, or Nochnoy Dozor for the linguists. This is a film that Netflix practically screamed at me to watch on their recommendation page, based on the fact that I liked The Matrix and I have an interest in foreign films. And if you liked The Matrix (an even better example starring Keanu Reeves would be Constantine) and you can tolerate subtitles (or bad voice-over acting) then I would highly recommend this movie.
The story is about a handful of characters who are "Others", humans with special gifts and powers (Shapechangers, Sorcerers, Vampires and the like) who are in a millennium old battle between light and dark. When you are discovered to be an "Other" (you may not know you are one) you choose to join a side. If you choose dark you become a member of the Day Watch, however if you choose light you're added to the Night Watch. The film centers around a new "Other" that's been discovered, one that is very powerful. Of course both sides are trying to find him/her first to maybe tip or break the balance of the delicate truce they have all agreed to uphold.
Night Watch is full of special effects that will only make you want more and the acting is flat but not boring just like The Matrix. The look of the film is very dark (duh!) and the editing is a little hyper but you get used to it. I would however, recommend watching it with the English audio track turned on as the subtitles would probably distract from the action on-screen. Apparently when Night Watch was released it broke every Russian box office record there. I've read that this is the first in a trilogy based on novels by Sergei Lukyanenko, so hopefully we'll get to see the rest of this story on film.


that's not funny

Well, I wasn't going to post anything about it until it was officially announced but it sounds like a pretty sure thing that Heath Ledger will be playing The Joker in the next Batman movie. Favorite, rumored runner-ups of mine were Hugo Weaving (who was Agent Smith in The Matrix and Elrond in The Lord of the Rings) and Paul Bettany (who was Silas in The Da Vinci Code and played as Geoffrey Chaucer in A Knight's Tale, also starring Ledger). Hot off his Oscar nomination for Brokeback Mountain, Ledger is quite a talent. Plus he's the right age for Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne/Batman. To my knowledge he's never played a villain, yet I don't doubt his ability to be sinister; but can he be maniacal? In my mind Jack Nicholson will always be the Joker, he made it his own, and although his performance was a little corny it was maniacal. The corniness may not have been his fault however, to me the Burton Batmans have always possessed a campy edge to them, though not nearly as much as the 60s TV version or the later films starring Val Kilmer and George "I ruined Batman" Clooney.
Director Christopher Nolan has given a new spin to the legacy of Batman. He showed both sides of Bruce Wayne in great detail and it added so much to the story. Ledger will be just fine as the Joker, possibly better than Nicholson, as long as Nolan and his writers do Bats' favorite nemesis the justice they did the Dark Knight in Batman Begins. No word yet on a title for this one, I've got a few ideas bouncing around but nothing that grabs me, anyone got a good Batman vs Joker title?

a sequel worth seeing

I saw Clerks II over the weekend. There is much to say about it. I came out of the theatre feeling satisfied with the ending, and thinking it had been a pretty funny movie. Could have done without the donkey show, but that's my only big complaint.

Being a fan of the original, low-budget 1994 Kevin Smith gem, I was excited for a sequel, but also hesitant. Was Smith taking his New Jersey-based cult classic franchise too far? "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" had been one inside joke after another. However, I think Clerks II may be enjoyed by Smith fans and newcomers alike.

There were many homages to the original, such as an updated Star Wars debate, this time between a Lord of the Rings fanatic and Randall, who doesn't recognize LOTR as a trilogy. The debate itself is hysterical, but I wonder if Smith couldn't think of a way to end it. I can picture him thinking, how do I wrap this up? What if one of the characters spontaneously pukes? Yeah, that's a great conversation-stopper. As much of a fan as I am of unexpected vomiting, I think Smith should further avoid writing himself into corners.

The high school kid, played by Trevor Fehrman, did a great job in this as an awkward Jesus-loving, LOTR obsessed Transformers geek, who is clearly the current butt of Randal's jokes, taking a little bit of a load off of Dante. Kevin Smith's wife, Jennifer, wasn't as impressive as Fehrman; I couldn't tell what she was trying to make her character out to be, either a prim and proper cake-baking trophy wife, or a bra-flashing trailer trash wife.

Rosario Dawson was really good; she has proven to be a very versatile actress, excelling in roles as different as Sin City, Rent, and Alexander. She is sufficiently charming in Clerks II as the other love interest of Dante's. Playing the boss everyone wishes they could work for, Dawson shines as a reason to stay in New Jersey.

This film was raunchier than the original, and yet softer. Randal had very little weakness in Clerks, but getting older seems to have made him slightly more sentimental. I kept waiting for him to turn on Dante as he did so often in the original, but he seemed to be a little more sincere in this one.


a second opinion

I saw A Scanner Darkly as well, at the one theatre in Knoxville, TN that was showing it (along with Thank You For Smoking, An Inconvenient Truth, and Wordplay). I haven't read the story the film is based on, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I thought it was going to be this big, government conspiracy movie, and it was really more about the inner struggle of one person. I went in knowing it was going to be depressing, and it sure was, but that's okay. It was a good story, but it was more about friends sitting around having conversations than what I thought it would be. The film looked great, of course, so I have nothing to complain about with that. I think I'd better watch it again, because I wasted too much time waiting for the movie to turn into what I was anticipating that I may not have paid as much attention to what was really going on, like I should have.


I can see clearly now

so, I saw A Scanner Darkly yesterday and I must say that I am quite the satisfied moviegoer. The newest film from Richard Linklater was engaging, funny, well-written (thank you PKD), disturbing and above all inventive. The animation was so much fun to watch, the dialogue was faithful to the book and the performances were dead on. Most notably, Robert Downey Jr's portrayal of the sinister Barris was exactly as I remembered him from the novel. Keanu Reeves was great as the main character Fred/Arctor whose addiction is so far along that he has no idea his brain is rotting. Winona Ryder and Woody Harrelson are used a little bit less and that works well also. This film deals with paranoia, drug addiction, trust and civil liberties, some heavy stuff so be prepared for some very talky scenes. I'm a fan of the novel and this movie to me is simply a visual representation of that story and it's awesome in its presentation, I want more films to look like this.

Also, on the web today, you can view the trailers for new films coming from Pedro Almodovar and Michel Gondry. Almodovar's newest is titled Volver and is about three generations of women dealing with their lives. Gondry, who last directed The Enternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is releasing an even kookier looking film starring Gael Garcia Bernal called The Science of Sleep in which the main character has trouble keeping reality and his dreams separate. Bernal and Gondry are two of my favorite new people working right now and I can't wait to see what they've done together, the trailer looks great.


film clips

Now that's she had her baby, Angelina Jolie is going back to work. She will soon be lending her acting and voice talents to many movies. Announced today, Jolie will star in a film about Mariane Pearl, widow of Daniel Pearl a jounalist who was killed in Pakistan in 2002. Then, opening in December, Jolie will appear in The Good Shepard, co-starring Matt Damon. Officially she will be voicing a character in an animated film called Kung Fu Panda which will also features voices from Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, and Dustin Hoffman. At last, unofficially, I believe I read a while back that she will be voicing the mother of Grendel in a graphic, animated adaptation of Beowulf.

In other animated news, a little film called Shrek the Third has added to it's already expensive returning cast. Eric Idle, Maya Rudolph and Cheri Oteri are among the new additions to the Shrek franchise.


devilish good fun

Okay, I guess it's introduction time. I'm Meryl, and I too am a filmaholic. I am a journalism major at Muskingum College, where I am the entertainment editor of the Black & Magenta newspaper.

I saw The Devil Wears Prada over the weekend. Meryl Streep plays a great boss from hell. The ice queen, loosely based on real-life Vogue magazine empress Anna Wintour, did a wonderful job making assistant Andy Sachs, played by Anne Hathaway, feel like dirt.

Based on the novel by Lauren Weisberger, Prada is what many classify as "chick lit," a genre inspired in the late 90s by Bridget Jones' Diary. However, a chick book does not necessarily a chick flick make; okay, it's a catty movie about the fashion industry, as one friend put it. But it's still got a sense of humor. There's enough about this movie to make it appeal to men, I believe. Maybe Owen can be a better source for that, I could be wrong.

All in all, this movie was fun for me, as a newbie to the working world. For anyone who hated their first "real" job, this is for you.


film clips

The only big news on the internet today is that you can view the trailer for the new Rocky film starring Sylvester Stallone that's titled Rocky Balboa, you can watch the trailer at the Yahoo! Movies site. It actually looks decent; Stallone is writing and directing in addition to reprising the role he made famous in 1976. I can't believe how big he looks in the trailer, he's supposedly old and I've always heard he was short but he looks the opposite in those boxing scenes.

Also Clint Eastwood has been selected to receive the Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award by the British Academy of Film & Television Arts for excellence in film, I couldn't agree more. Look for his two-film version of the Pacific chapter of World War II to be released consecutively later this year (don't tell him he's old either).


new additions

We have a new contributor to the site: Meryl (I'll let her introduce herself when she's ready). She'll be adding a different perspective to the site and is a pretty darn good writer too. Check out her take on the new Pirates flick below. I've also linked some other movie blogs I've been enjoying recently, you can find them on the right under "other film blogs".

expanding thoughts

I have a bit to add about Pirates (and kudos, Owen, for the Almost Famous reference about Depp).

I saw it on Friday night at the 9:45 showing. I might recommend the film, but I wouldn't advise that viewing time. Its 2.5 hour runtime makes for a late night.

It was fun, it had crustacean people with tentacles sprouting from their faces, and Keira Knightley got to kiss both Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom. These are the highlights. It's not that it was a terrible movie, it just wasn't as strong as the original. The original succeeded beyond all expectations, as it was a movie based on a theme park ride, but in doing so, it set up too much hype for this sequel.

One interesting role in this film was played by Naomi Harris, who played the mystical Tia Dalma, an ex-flame of Jack Sparrow. She was creepy and seductive at the same time and seemed almost worth adding the extra minutes to the overall length of the film. Look for Harris later this year in Miami Vice.

The movie could have been better, and the early scenes with the cannibalistic tribe seemed to be thrown in to make for a cool trailer, but it wasn't awful. I just hope they trim down the third one. Keith Richards is rumored to be making a cameo in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, so as long as they don't clutter the third film with too many other cameos and subplots, maybe it will be worthwhile.

And if you do see the second film out now, let me know if you find the ending scene as surprising as my friend did.

thar she blows!

Okay, no more pirate jokes I promise...really. But seriously, $135 million in three days?? I'll be the first to say it... Johnny Depp is a golden god! In case you weren't aware, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest opened on Friday and since then everyone in the known universe has seen it but me. That's the highest three day box-office take in history and that's taking into account $22 million still went to Superman Returns over the weekend. So apparently we were all waiting on this one for a while and couldn't fork over the nine bucks fast enough, even though critics said the story was weak and the film ran too long. Regardless of said criticism, I too really would like to see it, IF (that's a big if), I can free up 2 1/2 hours of my week. When I do I'll tell you all about here.

Some small news tidbits here and there, nothing big so click the links if you're really hungry for news. Opening this weekend are Little Man and You, Me and Dupree so... yeah... I would recommend NOT seeing either of those and instead using as much gas as it takes and driving to your nearest big city to watch A Scanner Darkly because it would be so much more worth your time and money then those brain-cell draining films opening in wide release on Friday. Support smart indies! ahem... that's all.


it's rated 'AARRRH'

Not much news to report today, no major trailers releases of note either... so yeah, want to know what I think of this summer so far? sure you do.

Superman Returns and Over the Hedge have been the only movies that really struck me as both entertaining and well-made. All other releases have been mediocre or downright disappointing. I'm hoping for the best out of the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie opening tomorrow but early reviews claim that the makers have substituted entertaining storytelling for even more action and effects than the last film had. Also it clocks in at over 2 hours and 20 minutes, which critics are saying is too long (again, so was the last one for that matter). A Scanner Darkly is high on my list to see this summer, I'm a fan of the novel, plus those who have seen it claim it's the truest Philip Dick adaptation to date.

All told, this summer has been pretty decent, I really hope Pirates is good though because that would pretty much ruin summer for me if it sucks.


minding the business

So the word is that Superman Returns didn't produce big enough returns during it's opening week, how is this possible you ask? It made and estimated $84.2 million from Tuesday night through Sunday for crying out loud, why is that not a success story? Well to be honest the film cost Warner Brothers upwards of $250 million to produce and publicize, and Spiderman 2 and X-men 3 all made more than Supes in did their 3 day+ weekends... and the dreaded Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is coming out this friday. So, actually the booted one's producers have plenty to be fearful of.

What did I think of the movie you ask? I thought it was amazing; It had action, it was heartfelt, Brandon Routh was so Christpher Reeve as Clark Kent and he made Superman his own. I won't even question the special effects, there is no need, they were real to me. The liberties that the filmmakers took with the Superman legacy are acceptable as long as they capitalize on the changes made, and I am sure that they will. In my opinion, the film is a huge success.

Not much else to report, though John Woo will not be making his versions of Spyhunter (based on an old video game) or He-man (based on an even older cartoon, a childhood favorite of mine at that), at least anytime soon. I could live without Spyhunter (Vin Deisel was rumored to star) but I would love to see a He-man film, especially a John Woo-ed version. What do you all think? Who should play Prince Adam? Do not say Dolph Lundgren...