Tagsaction movies animation australian film backlots bad movies blockbusters bordwell clampett clause 101 close analysis criticism disney documentary film as heritage herzog humour indiana jones james bond james cameron kael looney tunes lucas matthew guy miff mocap obituary peter jackson pixar planning in victoria planning news politics science fiction silent film simcity spielberg star trek star wars superheroes tarantino tintin trailers vpp reform welles westerns zemeckis
Follow / Subscribe
Category Archives: Film
With my dual focus on film and urban planning I couldn’t resist this great short film by Melbournian Nathan Kaso using tilt-shift effects to give the illusion of Melbourne as a giant train set (or possibly a more functional version of the newest SimCity). While I know applications like Instagram have made tilt-shift overly familiar as a creative device, there’s a big difference between using it well and using it badly. Kaso knows how to use it well, with an excellent choice of subjects, time-lapse to enhace the toy-like effect, and very evocative use of sound and music.
Life of Pi (Ang Lee, 2012)
Ang Lee’s Life of Pi is one of the most visually beautiful movies I have seen. So was his Brokeback Mountain. But here’s the thing: the two films are beautiful in totally different ways. Lee is such a strong and versatile director that he seemingly reinvents himself for each movie; you could love every one of his movies but still not consider him as your favourite director, because he’s like a different one each time.
Skyfall (Sam Mendes, 2012)
Sam Mendes’ Skyfall is an unusual Bond outing. It follows closely on from its predecessors Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, continuing their rebooted take on James Bond. Yet at the same time it reaches back to before the reboot, reinstating many elements of the older series. And even as it attempts to knit together the old and new Bond, in key ways it is unlike any of the previous entries.
Prometheus (Ridley Scott, 2012)
Ridley Scott’s return to science fiction, thirty years after Blade Runner, would be a big deal on its own. That he has returned with a revisitation of the universe of his other science fiction classic, Alien, makes this an even more enticing prospect. Yet there’s a reason the trailers have soft-pedalled the connection to the 1979 film: Prometheus is quite a different film in both intent and execution.
It takes place before Alien, and follows a deep space mission to find a star system that had been depicted in ancient cave paintings. Led by archaeologist Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and the improbably icy project sponsor Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), the mission hopes to uncover secrets about Earth’s origins. The team lands on a moon, finds and enters an ancient alien structure, and undertakes an orderly, well organised series of explorations in relative safety things start to go disastrously wrong.
Scott’s original Alien took a very similar opening set-up and turned it into a single-minded exercise in suspense and occasional visceral horror. Prometheus, commendably, is more ambitious. There’s a strong element of Alien-style menace, but Scott also wants to have a try at more thoughtful, idea-driven science-fiction. The film works to some extent on both fronts, but never really gels as a whole: it’s a film more interesting and laudable for what it attempts than what it actually manages.
This send-up of poor quality tourist infomercials is superficially disparaging of Melbourne, but actually manages to affectionately capture a sense of the everyday, humdrum life of the city.
It would be an interesting exhibit in a discussion of whether Melbourne (or any city) has its own distinctive ethos, an issue discussed by Alan Davies here.
I usually leave Star Wars stuff alone on this page lately, having overdosed on it during the prequel era, but I can’t help but note the sad passing of Ralph McQuarrie. While notable as an accomplished artist in his own right, he will always be remembered as the conceptual artist on Star Wars who more than anyone other than George Lucas helped crystallise the Star Wars “look.” He was crucial to shaping the quasi-mythical, lived-in, timeless aesthetic of the series; there’s also little doubt that his early paintings were pivotal in helping Lucas to sell the scope of the Star Wars vision and hence getting the movie made.
Even with nothing to add, I just had to repost this, from Vimeo user Anatoleya. It’s a very well done blend of still photos to create a short film of walking through London at night.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011)
I hadn’t read Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (or seen its 2009 Swedish film adaptation), so I went into David Fincher’s version of the story with little knowledge or expectation. The striking credit sequence promises a dark and intense thriller, as you’d expect from someone of Fincher’s talent, and indeed I was intrigued for much of the film …until slowly it became apparent just how non-intriguing it truly is.
In my continuing attempts to help my film readers who aren’t interested in my urban planning stuff, and vice-versa, I’ve also created separate mailing lists that cover just my film content and just my urban planning content. These are also in the right hand column, or alternatively here:
Hopefully these will be attractive options for those who have no interest in one or other of the major “streams” of my content. (You can also view the site at category specific URLs: www.sterow.com/film and www.sterow.com/urbanplanning).
I don’t know if a critic can be said to be trolling if he’s published by a major newspaper, but Jim Schembri is surely coming close with this piece on why Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked is a better piece of animation than Tintin.
My problem is not with the central thesis. I love championing of so-called “low” movies, and I love it when critics find things in a movie they think others have overlooked. I haven’t subjected myself to Alvin 3, and am not about to simply to see if Schembri is right. But just taking the Tintin side of the equation here, the article is full of comments that don’t add up.