Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Grandmaster: Visually beautiful, but disappointing

Director: Wong Kar-Wai
Running Time: 108 minutes (US) 130 minutes (original cut)

The Grandmaster is the latest effort from Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai. Having directed acclaimed films such as Chungking Express, 2046, and In the Mood for Love, he has a built a reputation as one of the best Asian filmmakers of our generation. Like his previous films, this one is in Cantonese with subtitles.
The Grandmaster stars Tony Leung, who has appeared in six previous Wong Kar-Wai films, as Ip Man. Ip Man was a Chinese martial artist known for Wing Chun style and for training the legendary Bruce Lee. There was a previous film based on his life released in 2008, titled Ip Man.
The film’s strength lies in its visuals. The fight scenes are brilliantly choreographed; I haven’t seen a film with action scenes like this. The only problem is they get somewhat repetitive after a while. The camera often focuses in an extreme close up on a certain aspect of the fight while going into slow motion. This is a very interesting effect at first, but gets somewhat tedious as the film goes along. Also, it seems like fights just happen for no real reason. There's also an overemphasis on onscreen text filling in the blanks of the plot. Once at the beginning would have been okay, but it happens multiple times throughout the film.

Unfortunately, this movie starts great, but gets kind of slow as it hits the second act. The plot gets bogged down in a romantic subplot between Ip Man and Ziyi Zhang’s character. As usual with Wong Kar-Wai, the love is unrequited. Furthermore, many of the secondary characters aren’t entirely fleshed out. Perhaps this is a result of 22 minutes being cut for the American version.
The Grandmaster will likely appeal to Wong Kar-Wai fans, as it is done in his usual style. Those unfamiliar with his work may find it a bit boring, however. Overall, the film is decent, but could have been much better.
                As of August 31st, it currently has a 74 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 6.6 on IMDB. It’s grossed over $55 million worldwide, with less than a million of that coming from the US.

RATING: 6/10

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Upcoming Films Preview: August 30th

The Films of August 30th, 2013

Running Time: 94 minutes

                Passion is the newest film from director Brian de Palma. De Palma is well known for directing classics such as Carrie, Scarface, and The Untouchables. However, his recent films such as Mission to Mars and The Black Dahlia haven’t been as well received. He hasn’t made a film since the 2007 war drama Redacted.
                It stars Rachel McAdams, who appeared in films such as The Notebook and Sherlock Holmes. Passion also features Noomi Rapace, who starred in Prometheus and the original Swedish versions of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy.

                The somewhat bland title doesn’t tell you much about the plot. McAdams plays an advertising executive named Christine and Rapace is her assistant Isabelle. They butt heads and Christine steals some of Isabelle’s ideas. Isabelle eventually has an affair with Christine’s husband. The film is a remake of Alain Corneau’s 2010 film Love Crime. Corneau died shortly after the film was released.
                Passion has received mixed reviews so far. It currently has a 42% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Alonso Duralde of The Wrap gave it a mostly negative review, saying that it “smacks of self-parody” and he “found myself laughing out loud at his [de Palma’s] shamelessness.” The trailer looks pretty cheesy; I don't see de Palma turning around his recent misfortunes with this one.
                The film is rated R.

Running Time: 90 minutes

                Getaway is a drama starring Ethan Hawke as a former race car driver whose wife gets kidnapped. He is assisted by an unnamed character played by Selena Gomez. Jon Voight is also a part of the cast.
                Getaway is directed by Courtney Solomon. He’s only made two previous films, An American Haunting and Dungeons and Dragons. He’s also the CEO of After Dark Films, an independent studio.
                It was written by Sean Finegan and Gregg Maxwell Parker. Neither of them have any previous writing credits on IMDB.
 Getaway is rated PG-13 and has not yet been the subject of any reviews.

Running Time:  96 Minutes

                Closed Circuit is an upcoming British film produced by Working Title Studios. It stars Eric Bana (Munich, Star Trek) and Rebecca Hall (Iron Man 3, The Town) and the director is John Crowley (Is Anybody There?,  Boy A). The script was written by Stephen Knight (Eastern Promises).
                The plot summary on IMDB is as follows:
“A high-profile terrorism case unexpectedly binds together two ex-lovers on the defense team - testing the limits of their loyalties and placing their lives in jeopardy.”
                So far, it has not been getting good reviews; it’s at 38% on Rotten Tomatoes as of August 27th. Furthermore, it only has a score of 44 out of `100 on Metacritic.

Running Time: 98 minutes

                The Lifeguard is a romantic drama starring Kristen Bell, Mamie Gummer, and Martin Starr. Liz W. Garcia was the director. This is her first feature film but she has written for Dawson’s Creek and Cold Case.
This movie is getting highly negative reviews currently. It has an abysmal score of 11 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Running Time: 92 minutes

                This is a concert documentary about the pop band One Direction. Surprisingly it was directed by Morgan Spurlock, known for documentaries such as Super Size Me. It’s rated PG and has a 71% on Rotten Tomatoes at the moment.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Blue Jasmine: Woody Allen's Best Since Match Point

Blue Jasmine

DIRECTOR: Woody Allen

RUNTIME: 1 hour 38 minutes

                Blue Jasmine is one of Woody Allen’s best films in years. The cinematography and editing are superb as usual. Allen takes his time with his shots and there’s never an unnecessary cut. The film is a bit more on the serious side of Allen’s work, but there a few moments that are subtly humorous. It begins with a lighter tone, but gets darker as it nears the end.
                Cate Blanchett is amazing in the lead role as Jasmine, a socialite with some serious mental issues. She does an excellent job of portraying mental illness without going into over the top hysterics. The film succeeds because of her multi-layered performance; she’s sure to get some attention come awards season. I would imagine she will get an Oscar nomination, and deservedly so as she gives the best lead performance I’ve seen so far this year.

                The supporting cast is excellent as well. Alec Baldwin is spot-on as Jasmine’s husband Hal, who turns out to be a Wall Street crook. He’s somewhat of an understated version of his 30 Rock character. Blue Jasmine also features Louis C.K., Andrew Dice Clay, and Boardwalk Empire’s Michael Stuhlbarg, who gives a great performance as always.

                The dialogue is very effective and the characters always feel real. We don’t hear any blatantly expository dialogue; Allen shows us who these people are in a very naturalistic way.  
    He also has structured the film in a non-linear way, leading the audience to slowly piece together everything that has taken place. The film fluidly cuts throughout between Jasmine’s current troubles and her life with Hal before he went to prison.

                Blue Jasmine has gotten excellent reviews so far. As of August 19th it has an 89 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s grossed 9.4 million dollars so far, according to Box Office Mojo.

RATING: 9/10

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Upcoming Films Preview: August 23rd

The Films of August 23rd


                The World’s End, the new film from director Edgar Wright, looks to be the most entertaining film of this weekend. His previous three films, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, have all developed cult followings. I’m also pumped for his 2015 film Ant-Man, which will be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
                The movie is about a group of friends who haven’t seen each other in a long time. They reunite to attempt a pub crawl they failed to finish when they were teens. In the course of this, they discover an alien invasion is taking place.

                Edgar Wright regular Simon Pegg stars and co-wrote the script with Wright. Nick Frost, who appeared in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz also comes back. Eddie Marsan, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, and Pierce Brosnan fill out the cast.
                The World’s End has been released in the United Kingdom. It’s already gotten great reviews and is at 93% on Rotten Tomatoes as of August 18th. David Edelstein of New York Magazine even called it “by light-years the most entertaining movie of the year.” If this film lives up to expectations, it will easily be among the best films of 2013.


                The Grandmaster, directed by Wong Kar-wai, was released in Asia this January and is coming to theaters in North America this weekend. Kar-wai is a Hong Kong filmmaker responsible many critically acclaimed movies such as Chungking Express, 2046, and In the Mood for Love.
                All three of those films featured the star of this film, Tony Leung. Leung has also appeared in films such as Infernal Affairs, Hero, and Lust, Caution.  He plays Ip Man, the legendary martial artist who trained Bruce Lee. A Hong Kong film was previously made of his life in 2008.
Also in the cast is Zhang Ziyi, star of films such as House of Flying Daggers, Memoirs of a Geisha, 2046, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

                 This film seems to be a bit more mainstream than Kar-wai fans may be used to.  Maggie Lee of Variety states, “Wong’s Eurocentric arthouse disciples, however, may not be completely in tune with the film’s more traditional storytelling and occasionally long-winded technical exposition.” Other than that, the review was mainly positive.
                Clarence Tsui of The Hollywood Reporter praised the film’s visuals and said it “contains some of the most dazzling fights ever seen onscreen…” However, Tsui also complained about a lack of character development.


                You’re Next is an upcoming horror film from director Adam Wingard, who made one of the segments of the 2012 film V/H/S. In this film a family reunion is invaded by killers who wear creepy animal masks.
                You’re Next was first released in 2011 at the Toronto International Film Festival. It was then picked up by Lionsgate.
                The reviews that have come in so far have been mostly positive. As of August 18th, it sits at 87% on Rotten Tomatoes.


                This film is based on the first book of The Mortal Instruments series written by Cassandra Clare. It’s a best-selling fantasy series for young adults. The series began in 2007 and the sixth and final book is scheduled to be released in 2014.
                The filmed adaptation was directed by Harald Zwart. He’s previously directed The Pink Panther 2, the 2010 The Karate Kid remake, and Agent Cody Banks, all of which were presumably terrible (I haven’t seen them, but come on). It was written by Jessica Postigo, who according to IMDB has no previous writing credits. The stars include Lily Collins, Jared Harris, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Lena Headey, and Kevin Durand.

                The filmmakers are hoping this will be the beginning of a franchise. The sequel, City of Ashes, is supposed to start production this September.

                No reviews have been released as of August 18th for The Mortal Instruments.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The History of Comic Book Adaptations to Film: Part Eight (2004)



The big comic book movie of 2004 was easily Spider-Man 2. The budget increased $60 million to $200 million for the sequel. However, Spider-Man 2 made $783 million, slightly less than the first.

Alvin Sargent (Ordinary People), who did an uncredited rewrite on the first film, was the sole screenwriter for this one. Sam Raimi directed once again and the main cast came back as well. Willem Dafoe even came back for a cameo, his character having died in Spider-Man.
Interestingly, Tobey Maguire almost wasn’t Peter Parker. He hurt himself working on Seabiscuit and Jake Gyllenhaal was considered as a replacement. Maguire ended up recovering and no replacement was needed.
The villain for the second installment was Doctor Octopus. Early on, Black Cat and The Lizard were considered as villains. The Lizard would eventually be the main antagonist of the 2012 reboot. Doctor Octopus was played by the very talented Alfred Molina. Doctor Octopus or Doc Ock, is a scientist who gets four mechanical tentacles attached to him. 
His large appendages supposedly necessitated shooting in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio instead of the first film’s 1.85:1. Unlike in the comics, in this film he is Peter’s role model before his accident.
Spider-Man was very well received by critics and audiences. As of August 2013, it has a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects and was nominated for Sound Mixing.
I was never a huge fan of the Raimi Spider Man trilogy, but this is probably the best installment. This is largely due to Molina’s compelling performance as Doc Ock.


One of the better comic adaptations of the year was Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy. The film cost $66 million to make and took in a modest $99 million worldwide. Hellboy didn’t really have any stars; none of the cast were mentioned in commercials or listed on the poster.

The film got good reviews and deservedly so. It’s definitely among the better half of comic book films out there. Ron Perlman is awesome as always as the title hero.  The film was followed by a sequel, Hellboy II: The Golden Army. There have been rumors of a third film, but nothing solid as of yet.


Another decent 2004 outing was The Punisher, based on the Marvel character. It was the first film directed by Jonathan Hensleigh. He had been a producer and writer for years. He wrote Jumanji, Die Hard with a Vengeance, and Armageddon.
Thomas Jane starred as the Punisher and John Travolta gave a fair performance as the bad guy. It got mainly negative reviews, partly due to a budget of only $33 million. It only took in $54 million at the box office. The film was no masterpiece, but as far as comic movies go, it’s not among the worst.


Released in 2004, Catwoman was one of the worst movies ever made, and quite possibly the worst comic book film ever. Batman and Robin is close, but doesn’t quite reach the lows of Catwoman. 
Catwoman is actually painful to watch, mainly due to the editing. It takes the ADD, quick cut style to the extreme. There’s an unnecessary cut every few seconds in most scenes.
Another major problem is that the Catwoman character really only appears in name only. She isn’t Selina Kyle, the iconic comic character that appeared on film a decade earlier portrayed by Michelle Pfeiffer. Rather, in this film she is Patience Phillips, a completely original character that never appeared in the comics. There is also a ridiculous amount of terrible, cheesy cat puns.
Halle Berry is the title character and her talents are completely wasted. Also, early in the film she can’t find a boyfriend. Not very realistic for someone who looks like Halle Berry. 
The director of this film was Pitof, who had worked on visual effects for French films such as City of Lost Children. His only previous directorial effort was 2001’s Vidocq. Thankfully, he has not directed a theatrical release since then.


Next we come to yet another sequel, Blade: Trinity. Guillermo del Toro did not return to direct this one and the duties fell upon David S. Goyer. Goyer had only directed one film previously, 2002’s Zig Zag, which also starred Wesley Snipes.
The third film in the series had major additions to the cast. One of these was Ryan Reynolds as Hannibal King. King was a character in the comics, but he hardly resembles the film version.
The second was Jessica Biel as Whistler’s granddaughter who likes to make iPod playlists for killing vampires. Unfortunately, the film was not very good and is usually considered the worst of the Blade trilogy.


An unusual example of a comic inspired flick is 2004’s Alien vs. Predator. The characters obviously come from the film franchises that bear their names. 
But the idea of combining these franchises first occurred in comics starting in the late 1980s. In fact, these two even faced off against the Terminator, Batman, and Superman.
The film however, was unfortunately quite terrible. That’s not entirely surprising as it was directed by Paul W.S. Anderson. Anderson has made several clunkers, often based on video games. These include Mortal Kombat, and the first, fourth, and fifth installments in Resident Evil series.


The smallest comic book film of 2004 was the French film Blueberry. It was directed by Jan Kounen, who has since directed Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky. The film is entirely in English because it was set in the American west. It was marketed as Renegade in the U.S.
It stars French actor Vincent Cassel, who gave a great performance in Gaspar Noe’s Irreversible and has appeared in many American films as well. Also appearing are Michael Madsen, Juliette Lewis, and Djimon Hounsou.
            Hallucinogenic drugs are a big part of the movie. They used some great computer animation to show us the geometric patterns the protagonist sees. The exact drug used is not mentioned, but it seems to be based off of ayahuasca trips.
           The film is adapted from the comic series Blueberry, written by Jean-Michel Charlier. It was illustrated by famed artist Jean Giraud, AKA Moebius. Moebius has an amazing surreal style. He contributed storyboards to many science fiction films including Alien, Tron, and The Empire Strikes Back.
            He also collaborated with Alejandro Jodorowsky on his abandoned adaptation of Dune.  I highly recommend checking out the comic series that Moebius and Jodorowsky worked on together, titled The Incal.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Elysium: One of the best of the year so far

Director: Neill Blomkamp

                Elysium is easily one of the year’s best films. Here, Blomkamp equals his previous science fiction sleeper hit District 9.
                Set in 2154, Elysium portrays a future where Earth is in shambles and the wealthiest citizens have taken refuge in the titular orbiting space station.

The visuals are amazing, as are the special effects. The film does a great job of portraying the chaos of this dystopian future. You really feel like you’re in a living, breathing world, and we’re shown that world naturally. There’s no awkward exposition as in so many similar films. Elysium manages to subtly touch on powerful issues, without hitting the audience over the head with a message.
                Matt Damon is good as usual as the protagonist, Max. Jodie Foster is decent as Delacourt, a high ranking member of the government of Elysium. There was something a bit weird about her performance that I can’t quite put my finger on. Her voice (and vague accent) was somewhat odd, but it was effective at times.

                The real standout of the cast was Sharlto Copley, who also starred in District 9. His role in this film is much different. He plays Kruger, a ruthless villain that works for Delacourt. Copley is excellent at portraying the creepy, somewhat insane Kruger. He’s definitely one of the best film villains in recent memory.

                Elysium opened in first place on its opening weekend, making 29.8 million dollars. In second place was the Jennifer Aniston comedy We’re The Millers, and Planes was in third. Elysium’s opening was decent, but slightly disappointing. It was less than District 9’s $37 million opening, which had no marketable stars. Elysium’s worldwide total as of August 13 is $48 million. The film is currently sitting at 67% on Rotten Tomatoes.

RATING: 9/10

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The History of Comic Book Adaptations to Film: Part Seven (2002 - 2003)

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6



One of the biggest film franchises of all time began in 2002 with Spider-Man. It was a huge success and proved that X-Men was no fluke: comic book films were a hot commodity.
A Spider-Man film had been in development since the mid-1980s under multiple different studios. Roger Corman had an option on it at one point, before the rights went to Cannon Films in 1985. A low budget film was planned, but it was never made.
The rights then went to Columbia Pictures. James Cameron began working on a treatment for them in the early 1990s.

Supposedly, Cameron wanted Arnold Schwarzenegger as the villain, Dr. Octopus. Edward Furlong was considered for Spider-Man and Electro and Sandman were also featured villains. The treatment contained lots of profanity and a scene where Peter Parker and Mary Jane have sex.
One of the main features from Cameron’s work that remained in the final product is Peter Parker having organic webshooters. In the comics, these are his own mechanical creations. Peter finally makes his own webshooters in the 2012 reboot.

Cameron moved on and many other directors were considered, such as Roland Emmerich, Chris Columbus, and Tim Burton. David Fincher was also considered, but he didn’t want to do an origin story.
In 2000, Sam Raimi was hired to direct. Raimi had previously directed the Evil Dead trilogy and 2000’s The Gift, but it was the Spider-Man films that made him an almost household name.  In a controversial choice that proved successful, Tobey Maguire was chosen as Peter Parker. Kirsten Dunst appeared as his love interest, Mary Jane. Willem Dafoe and James Franco portrayed Norman and Harry Osborn.
The film was a huge success. It had the largest opening weekend ever at the time; previously no film had an opening over $100 million, even adjusting for inflation. Spider-Man made $821 million on only an $140 million budget.


Two comic inspired sequels came out in 2002. One of these was Blade II, again starring Wesley Snipes. David S. Goyer returned to write the script, but Stephen Norrington declined to direct again.  This time, the director was Guillermo del Toro, who is a huge comic book fan.

 Del Toro was not that well known at the time. His only previous film in English was the 1997 science fiction film Mimic. Blade II was the beginning of his mainstream success. He went to direct such films as Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth (which won three Oscars), and Pacific Rim.
Blade II was a success, making over $150 million.


The other sequel to be released that year was Men In Black II. Director Barry Sonnenfeld returned as did stars Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. Linda Fiorentino did not return as Will Smith’s love interest.
This film was a definite step down in quality from the first. Critics gave it much harsher reviews. There are some really lame jokes, like aliens named Balchinians who have testicles on their chins.
Men in Black II was commercially successful though, as it opened number one and made over $440 million worldwide.


Finally, we come to Road to Perdition, based on the graphic novel of the same name by Max Allan Collins. The film was directed by Sam Mendes, who had just come off the massive critical success of American Beauty.
Road to Perdition had a great cast, including Tom Hanks, Jude Law, Paul Newman, and Daniel Craig. The cinematography was done by Conrad Hall, who died shortly after the film was completed. Hall had previously worked on American Beauty, as well as classics such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Cool Hand Luke. He won a posthumous Academy Award for his cinematography in this film.
Mendes’ film was nominated for five other Oscars, but won none of them. Paul Newman was nominated for Best Supporting Actor. The other nominations were for Sound, Sound Editing, Art Direction, and Original Score.


 X-MEN 2

The biggest comic film of 2003 was easily X-Men 2. The success of the first made the sequel highly anticipated. Many consider it better than the first, and it’s often cited as the best of the trilogy, an assessment I can't argue with. This is despite the fact that the film continued to focus on Wolverine at the expense of characters such as Cyclops. It was successful at the box office, making $407 million worldwide on only a $110 million budget. The script underwent many changes and supposedly went through 27 drafts.
Bryan Singer returned to the director’s chair. Most of the characters from the first came back as well. Two mutants were also added: Nightcrawler and Pyro. Nightcrawler was played by Alan Cummings, who had to undergo ten hours of makeup to get into character. The opening scene where he attacks the White House is easily the highlight of the movie.

Angel and Beast were in early drafts, but neither of them made it to the final film. Beast was relegated to a short clip of Hank McCoy appearing on TV. Both of them would appear in full in the third X-Men film. 
In X-Men 2 there were small cameos of mutants Jubilee and Kitty Pryde. Brian Cox also joined the cast as the villain William Stryker.


Marvel had two other films that year, but neither of them did nearly as well as X-Men 2. One of these was Daredevil, directed by Mark Steven Johnson. Johnson went on to direct another Marvel film, Ghost Rider. Chris Columbus, director of the first two Harry Potter films, was originally going to direct.
The film starred Ben Affleck as the title character and Jennifer Garner as Elektra. Michael Clarke Duncan and Colin Farrell appeared as villains.
Reviews of the film were mixed and it’s generally seen as disappointing among fans. It made almost $180 million at the box office, which was not bad, but not great either. The film was somewhat pedestrian and doesn’t really stand out in any way.

 An R-rated director’s cut was eventually released, which is often considered to be a marked improvement over the theatrical edition.
Daredevil was going to be rebooted by Fox, but this fell through. This led to the rights reverting back to Marvel Studios and they made a TV series exclusive to Netflix that ended up being highly regarded by critics as well as among fans.


The other Marvel film of 2003 was Ang Lee’s Hulk. Lee had previously directed Sense and Sensibility and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. He would eventually win the Best Director Oscar for Brokeback Mountain and Life of Pi.
Eric Bana starred as Bruce Banner AKA The Hulk. Jennifer Connelly played his love interest Betty Ross.
The Hulk film had been in development since 1990. In 1997, Joe Johnston was attached to direct. He dropped out to direct October Sky and producer Jonathan Hensleigh stepped into what would have been his directorial debut. Hensleigh went on to direct the 2004 Marvel film, The Punisher.

Hulk made $245 million worldwide. This was a decent take, but was still below expectations. The reviews weren’t that positive either. Many complained that the story was too serious and dark.
After Hulk, the rights for the character went back to Marvel Studios. He was rebooted in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, the second film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Hulk also appeared in 2012’s The Avengers.


Another comic film released that year was The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. It was directed by Stephen Norrington, who had recently directed the Marvel film Blade.
The film was based on a graphic novel by famed writer Alan Moore. This film solidified his hatred of adaptations of his work that began with From Hell. He chose not to be credited in either V for Vendetta or Watchmen.

 The movie was greatly different than the source material. In the comics, all the characters are British. The studios felt that an American was needed, so Tom Sawyer was added.
The film did not do well with critics. It also turned in an average performance at the box office, making about $179 million worldwide.


Bulletproof Monk also came out in 2003, based on a comic by Michael Avon Oeming. It was the only feature directed by Paul Hunter. Bulletproof Monk  starred Chow-Yun Fat and Seann William Scott and the film bombed with audiences and critics.


Another comic film of this year was American Splendor. Unlike the films of t his year discussed so far, this one has no action, superhero, or science fiction elements. Instead, it’s based on the autobiographical comics of Harvey Pekar, played by Paul Giamatti. The film was a critical success and was nominated at the Academy Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay. It was directed by the duo of Shari Springer Bergman and Robert Pulcini.
The comic series ran from 1976 to 2008, always written by Harvey Pekar. Pekar and his friend Robert Crumb were very influential in the underground comic scene. Pekar died in 2010.


Finally, we come to, in my opinion, the best comic adaptation of the year in Oldboy. The manga was written by Garon Tsuchiya and illustrated by Nobuaki Minegishi. It was published from 1996 to 1998.
The film version was directed by Park Chan-wook. The film is the second in a loose “Vengeance” trilogy by Chan-wook. The first was the 2002 film Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and the final film was Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, released in 2005. The films don’t have any of the same characters but were referred to as a trilogy in the media due to having similar themes. Chan-wook went on to direct the creepy vampire movie, Thirst, and his English-language debut starring Nicole Kidman, Stoker.

Oldboy was a critical success, winning Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival. It deserved all the praise it got; I’d definitely rank it among the best films of the decade.

An American remake is going to be released this November 27th. It was directed by Spike Lee and stars Josh Brolin.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Tips for Beginner Production Assistants

-Whenever someone addresses you over the walkie, respond with “Copy” or “Copy That” to let them know that you heard them and understood. Some ADs get upset if their PAs don’t copy.

-Don’t talk excessively over the walkies. Make it short and to the point because other people may be waiting to use the channel.

-If you do need to have a longer talk, take it to channel 2.

-If someone gives you a task, do your best to accomplish it even if you face obstacles.

-Good things to have on you are pads of paper, pens, sharpies, multi-tool/leatherman, and gaffer tape. A smartphone is also a very good idea to have as a PA.

-Get used to standing for a long time. Film shoots are usually 12 hour days at minimum. On many shoots, PAs aren’t supposed to sit. At the very least, it looks unprofessional for PA to be sitting often, especially by set.

-Get used to doing a wide variety of tasks. The duties of a PA vary greatly depending on the type and size of production you are working on. On smaller productions, PAs often have to drive. PAs sometimes get to do tasks normally assigned to other positions. I’ve seen PAs do B camera, script supervising, assistant camera work, lighting, and many other tasks. On bigger productions, PAs are usually relegated to lockup, getting waters and coffee, or dealing with extras.

- Don’t give an opinion that isn’t asked for.

-Observe as much as possible. This is the best way to learn.

Film Set/Walkie Lingo for beginning Production Assistants

Getting used to all of the lingo used on a film set can be one of the hardest parts of being a new Production Assistant. The following is a short guide to some of the terms used on set. There are many more, but this should be enough to get you started.

What’s your 20? = What’s your location
10-1 = Going to the bathroom
86 = cancel
On the day = While shooting

Crafty = Craft services AKA food
Martini = last shot of the day
Picture’s Up = The cameras are set to start rolling
Stinger = Extension Cord

Sides = Copy of the scenes being shot that day, usually half-sized
Eyes on… = Means you can see someone or something
Standby = Can’t respond on the moment
Flying in = Someone or something is headed to set

Bogey = Someone walking through the shot that shouldn’t be there

M.O.S. = Without sound
Transpo = Transportation
Genny = Generator
Video Village = Area with video monitors

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