Amoeblog

All That Biodigital Jazz, Man

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, December 30, 2010 10:55am | Post a Comment
tron arcade game legacy disney upright set
I remember the first time I caught sight of the glowing, blacklit neon appeal of TRON. The boxy upright console outshone the others in my hometown Putt-Putt arcade and I couldn't help desiring to bask in its purple hazed portal though I'd always considered Centipede to be my one and only love. Let's be honest, playing TRON was about as exciting as the saccharin in a can of Tab, no matter how romanced I was by that Starlight Express meets Pinball Wizard of a design story. It's a silly game popularized a silly movie and it seems the good folks down at Disney completely understand that. TRON may never be taken seriously for its dramatic narrative and that's exactly right-on, but it is bursting with cinematic content. For me, re-viewing the 1982 classic TRON flick and the recently reimagineered TRON: Legacy was pure pop Sci-Fi pleasure the likes of which anyone this side of the Logan's Run Carousel knows better than to over-analyze.

Anyway, what better way to punctuate sweet freedom of another semester completed and celebrate the spirit of the season than seeing TRON: Legacy in IMAX 3D over Christmas vacation? Disney's new take on the ambitious yet sketchy Rotoscoped, post modern, science-fantasy arcade-gaming jam delivers a not very smart but sometimes clever cross-section of tired sci-fi/fantasy genre clichés, slickly redesigned to diamond-cut, mind-blowing visual perfection, ever flying the promotional gaming flag and still driven (literally!) by a pre-Lebowski albeit CG'd Jeff Bridges (which raises questions about the ethical treatment of dead actors' imminent bodies of possible future work) as well as the more popular (and less obviously plasti-complexioned) post "Dude" Jeff Bridges. Aesthetically, TRON went from this: 
tron original 1982 jeff bridges color design story set cinematography
tron original 1982 graphis effects design set cheesy
tron original 1982 graphis effects design set cheesy
tron original 1982 graphis effects design set cheesy users
to this:
tron legacy castor party sequence sexy costume disney
tron legacy disney bike race visual speciel effects blur speed
tron legacy disney movie film lovers
tron legacy disney movie dinner scene design furnishings white weird
...clunky helmet no longer required. I really love the visual shift in the application of a primary color scheme from TRON's UV tinged, patent eighties neons to the updated laser red, tungsten yellow and halogen blue as they appear both on and off their respective renderings of "the grid," not to mention the thrilling, hi-tech hard edge TRON: Legacy has over the crappy vectorgraphic "effects" dealt by its predecessor. However, TRON: Legacy does manage to shovel its fair share of shit: what's with that queeny Castor character and his, or should I say HER, swishy hardly-head-of-security counterpart? Accommodating the Brits-as-villains Star Wars stereotype much? Castor's little ditty and dance act should be cast out. And how about all that easy, cheesy dialogue? I swear some of those lines were straight up lifted from the Matrix --- is that why this film wasn't made ten years ago? And while I'm not buying so much the Neo/Jesus/Skywalker/Solo vibe of Kevin Flynn's son (played by Garrett Hedlund), Sam, I am totally vibing on Jeff Bridges' Obi Wan/God/Gandalf "zen thing" update of his completely timelapsed character, under the influence of a heavy dose of his Dudeness (Duder, or El Duderino if you're not into the whole brevity thing). I mean, really, if Bridges hadn't had his prior engagement with the brothers Coen, TRON: Legacy would probably only have its visual wizardry going for it and zero characters for folks like me to latch on to. Besides, I was more than ready to settle in and enjoy the ride after that opening sequence: Bridges' voice, speaking over Daft Punk's excellent score of electronic minimalism meets classical orchestration --- incorporating Wendy Carlos' original TRON soundtrack in a fitting homage --- urging us to think of a time when computers seemed more magical than mechanical and menacing, the inevitability of A.I. more a willing dream than nightmarish catastrophe. "The Grid," he recalls: "A digital frontier. I tried to picture clusters of information as they move through the computer. What did they look like? Ships? Motorcycles? Were the circuits like freeways? I kept dreaming of a world I thought I’d never see. And then, one day, I got in."

And the Award For Best Use of Christmas in a Non-Holiday Movie Goes To...

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, December 23, 2010 08:00pm | Post a Comment
gen sekiguchi survive style 5 christmas xmas holiday movie japanese film
...Gen Sekiguchi's patchwork vomitorium of tsunamic set design and cinematographic eye-candy  Survive Style 5+!!! The random yet clearly delineated Christmas sequence of this whirlwind adventure, set to the strains of "The First Noel" turned way up to eleven, is so over-the-top fabulous and inspiring that I hope to one day successfully drown my house in holiday decor à la Sekiguchi --- every year I get closer to the mark. Enjoy the visuals! Wanna know more about how Japan "gets" its Christmas kicks? Check out my "Christmas in Japan" jam here!

Interview with Florian Gaag, Director of Graffiti Feature Film Wholetrain

Posted by Billyjam, November 23, 2010 06:15am | Post a Comment
WHOLETRAIN trailer

Today both the DVD and the soundtrack for the critically acclaimed, award-winning and Florian Gaag directed fictional graffiti-feature film WHOLETRAIN are being released via RykoDisc. The film was shot in Poland and is in German with subtitles in English and 13 other languages. The English language hip-hop soundtrack includes all original songs (over beats produced by the film's director) from all American artists including KRS-One, Freddie Foxxx, O.C., Planet Asia, Afu-Ra, Grand Agent, Akrobatik, Tame One, and El Da Sensei. Both the film and its soundtrack are highly recommended for anyone, not just graffiti fans.

The film's title, WHOLETRAIN, comes from the graffiti writers' goal of spraypainting every inch of an entire train. Although the film's young cast will be totally unknown to American audiences, it is dramatically gripping, with a solid story-line, plus a most impressive display of all new graffiti art. Colorfully shot on the trains and walls, throughout the film this graffiti was all tirelessly commissioned by the first time director himself, who is clearly a major graffiti fan. For these beautiful pieces he brought in such established graffiti artists as NEON, PURE, CIEL, WON, and CEMNOZ to do the art work.
Back in February, when the film screened in LA and San Francisco at the Goethe-Institut in each city, I reviewed it for the Amoeblog. I also interviewed the director at that time. He told me about the challenging process of making this film, including the overwhelming obstacles he faced due to making a film that includes an illegal art form, and how WHOLETRAIN turned into a six year project. That interview with director Florian Gaag follows below.
Florian Gaag

Amoeblog:
WHOLETRAIN is a great film and what's most impressive is that it is your first full-length film. So had you done short films or videos before this?

Florian Gaag: Yes, I´ve done a couple of short films, mostly short documentaries though, because that´s where I´m coming from.

Red Wing and Young Deer, the First Couple of Native American Silent Film

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 20, 2010 04:00pm | Post a Comment
Cast and Crew Members at Inceville in Santa Monica taking a break from filming to pose for a group photograph, circa 191
Cast and Crew Members at Inceville in Santa Monica, circa 1915

Before the emergence of Hollywood and the studio system, moviemaking was something of a free-for-all, open to anyone that could afford it. In the US, that privileged group was almost exclusively white and male. Roles for minorities were usually crudely stereotypical, minor, and liable to be played by a white actor in yellowface, brownface, blackface or redface. As a result, some minority figures attempted to start their own alternatives. In 1916, Oakland resident Marion Wong made the first example of Asian-American Cinema with The Curse of Quon Gwon. A few years later, Anna Mae Wong and Sessue Hayakawa began making films. In 1918, John Noble invented Black Cinema with Birth of a Race. He was soon joined in his endeavor by Oscar Mischeaux.

In the Land of the Head Hunters movie poster Nanook of the North Poster

True Native American cinema beat them both by almost a decade. The mainstream view of Natives at the time was generally less murderously hateful than those of contemporary Asians and blacks (or the Natives' ancestors). In fact, Natives were widely adored and fetishized, what Frank Chin would later term “love racism." Natives, regardless of reality, were reduced to mere metaphors and symbols… for stoicism, honor, strength, &c. Edward S. Curtis's 1914 In the Land of the Headhunters and Robert Flaherty's 1922 Nanook of the North have little to do with reality, but did reflect well-meaning white men’s attempts to portray their subjects with some respect, even if it meant they had to fictionalize and stage everything.

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What's Got Into That Cat!? Japanese Cult Classic Hausu Out Today on Criterion DVD and Blu-Ray!!!

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, October 26, 2010 02:00am | Post a Comment
Everybody knows that old cats can open doors, but did you know that only ghost cats can close them?
Hausu DVD Criterion colletion japanese horror camp cult classic film movie cats ghost animation
Well, to quote the great Levar Burton, don't take my word for it, find out for yourself! Here's to the joy of lessons learned from Nobuhiko Obayashi's 1977 cinematic freak-out Hausu (or House if you speak American), a film that'll give you a trick-or-treating of horror-infused psychedelia like you've never ever experienced, not even in your wildest, most delightfully random-ass frightmares. Hausu dvd criterion japanese horror cult kitch film movie eye cat While it's difficult to know where to begin in reviewing this amazing monkeyshine, it should not go without saying that supposedly the story was dictated to the director by his 11-year-old daughter, which pretty much makes the movie itself just as crazy as, well, a story told by a demented little girl with cat fancy, Auntie issues, and campy ideas about "indecent" piano behavior. Add to that the fact that Hausu seems to be a visual exercise in testing the limits on how many times a movie can one-up itself, utilizing a lightning round of every stylistic technique known to film-making all the way, as if daring viewers to exclaim "this shit is bananas!" to which the movie quite literally delivers a shit-ton of bananas, no kidding. hausu house dvd japanese movie cirterion cult classic weird funny wacky campy

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