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Jan. 8th, 2009

Self Portrait

David Carradine is a monkey-man...

...he's also a blind master that beats people with his flute(!) and you also see him as death in a black leotard with jaguar sound effects. YES. I am speaking of the film Circle of Iron, which I was fortunate enough to catch yesterday. Still not interested enough to watch it? How about this: A Christopher Lee cameo, and it was partially conceived and scripted by Bruce Lee, who intended to star in the film before his death...! Fascinating, bizarre, and--yes--occasionally laughable, Circle of Iron is definitely worth a watch by any cult film fan. Since it won't fit in my overhead ratings: Circle of Iron (***).

Dec. 16th, 2008

Self Portrait

Finally lowered my ears.

I got a hair cut today! I know that in a normal person's life such an event wouldn't rate a full post, but considering how much I hate this task, it's worth mentioning. Note my icon. This is how I often look (not, I might add, how I wish to look). Here's a pic of me with my locks newly shorn:



Note the ovaloid shape my head has taken on once the all-encompassing hair-helmet has been removed. See, by the time I make it to the barber, my hair resembles that awful look that Hollywood has used for all of its child actors for the last thirty years; you could drill three holes in my skull and bowl my noggin for an easy strike.

Here's to hair being out of my eyes for the next month! Yay!

Happy holidays, all.

--Kevin

Dec. 10th, 2008

Artsy Film

The Day the Earth Stood Still... But Fidgeted

Normally I don't cut remakes a lot of slack, but for some reason I'm strangely interested in the new version of this classic. I think that remakes often fail because there's nothing new to comment on in the original material. But in the case of TDTESS, this isn't true. The original was largely a commentary on cold war politics and the threat of nuclear annihilation. The new movie has a unique opportunity to comment on today's society, which is in a very different headspace. Since I've read (somewhere) that the filmmakers of the remake were seeking to do just that, I'm interested in seeing how they do. Lisa remains utterly skeptical. To change her mind the new version would have to be as impressive as The Dark Knight (except that instead of the Joker there's, like, a wicked-cool giant robot). We'll see.

Maybe it's just that I totally buy Keeanu Reeves as an alien in a suit.

"Klaatu barada nikto!"

--Kevin

Dec. 9th, 2008

Space Herpes

Hedgehogging for the Holidays...

I don't know what it is, but lately I just don't want to talk to people. I've gone through avoidance periods in the past, but I'm unsure exactly what is making me "turtle-up" this month. I think it has something to do with the holidays this year. For the last several years, Lisa and I have had pretty lousy holiday celebrations. Halloweens would consist almost entirely of reminiscing about better Halloweens while stuffing our vaguely-depressed faces with candy... not great. And while the quality of our family Christmas celebrations has always been high, they've also been frantic four-day affairs with about twenty-eight hours of driving thrown in throughout.

This year, since we're temporarily staying with my mom while I look for work,* we've had a rare respite from the gloomy celebrations of years past. I mean, we got to carve a pumpkin! We even gave it a name: Drac-o-lantern!



See? AWESOME. So, good Halloween. And now I have this rare chance to turn back the clock and have Christmas at home. Without the stupid amounts of driving. Just a pleasant family Christmas. Lest you think I've gone insane, note the following:



A real cat sniffing a real tree. That's Christmas, people! And did we have holiday music by Mr. Crosby and Mr. Sinatra playing while we decorated it? I don't even have to answer that! So if I'm hard to get a hold of this month, please accept my sincere apologies. I'm wrapping myself up in Santa's jacket and I've already picked up tickets for Lisa and I on the Christmas Express--which we won't even take all the way to the north pole since we're getting off at Frogtown Hollow to visit some friends.

I'll try and call everyone who has been calling me. But if I'm unable to overcome my inertia, just know that it's because I'm hypnotized by the flashing lights of the tree and my own churning thoughts regarding the nascent feature-idea brewing in my head.

Happy holidays, everyone!

--Kevin

*Aren't borderline economic depressions fun? We should have one every century.

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Dec. 4th, 2008

Director

Commercial Directing...

I find the idea of directing commercials to be tedious and vaguely depressing. Well, except for one product. There is one product I would willingly--nay, eagerly--make a commercial for.


Oh yes. I would. And that's half the battle.

--Kevin

Dec. 2nd, 2008

Self Portrait

The Leviathan

It's a massive beast that lurks in my deepest subconcious and only makes its presence known by the currents thrown by its thrashing, restless frame. It's my Feature, and these days I feel like I'm fishing for it with a broken broom handle and a bit of yo-yo string.

The culmination of our form is (arguably), the feature-length motion picture. It's length was defined by questions of marketing, but it also serves as a good benchmark for the expression of our art. Filmmaking is so arduous and difficult to do well, that the very process of making a movie tends to sift out the earnest practitioners from the poseurs. With today's easily available offline editing tools, inexpensive cameras and tech-savvy populace, making a short film is not terribly difficult. It might be more challenging to make a good short film, but the principle stands. In contrast, making a feature is a gruelling bitch--even if your goal is only a modest level of quality.

A feature might be 10 times longer than a short, but that doesn't mean it's only 10 times harder to shoot. When one factors in pre-production, post-production and other problems (such as retaining cast for a bottom-basement indie effort), its difficulty increases by an order of magnitude beyond the handful of days needed for a short.

To put it another way, I created many many shorts at my time at SCAD--yet even if I strung them all together they wouldn't equal the "standard" feature length of 90 minutes. That's 3.5 years of effort and I didn't shoot enough to match the length of a feature, much less its gestalt.

So, making a feature is hard. Like shoveling bullshit in a bull pen built beneath a pig pen with a slatted floor. And if someone's going to go through that years-long agony, it stands to reason they'd better have a story they want to tell. Mine is there, swimming in the deeps of my subconcious. The trick is catching it without becoming an Ahab in the process.

Happy Holidays,

--Kevin

Nov. 19th, 2008

Self Portrait

My half-assed review system.

So I've decided to post a rating for the movies I've been watching. Instead of using a nuanced and responsible method, however, I'm just gonna give'em stars. Without comment. Like any decent film could be assessed based on a theoretical linear track between "good" and "bad." What about the films that have good characters, but bad plotting? Or lousy production values offset by a quirky and original story? How can anyone possibly quantify that in stars?

You can't, so fuck it. I'm giving stars--and not even five. Nope, four. And since I can't really simulate a half-star with the asterisk character, I'm gonna round any half-scores; I am an inherent optimist, so I will always round up. Here's the rough breakdown:

X=No stars. No redeeming values. It's a series of images captured on film or video for the express purpose of making small children and kittens cry.

*=1 Star. Not recommended for any but the hardcore. Watch it if the premise interests you and you can get it for free. Without getting up. And someone will turn it off for you when it's over so you don't have to.

**=2 Stars. Enh. It's probably adequately made but uninspired. If I've given it two stars, It's likely you've already seen a version of the story, and it was probably way better told. If you're a cinephile, then it's probably worth a watch.

***=3 Stars. Recommended. I enjoyed the overall film and/or really loved certain elements. Go see it if you want to make me happy.

****=4 Stars. It's a series of images captured on film or video for the express purpose of making Kevin smile with delight and reaffirming his life choices. If you are Kevin, DO NOT DELAY. If you are not Kevin--but suspect you may share similar values--take the trouble to check it out.

See? Easy, pleasant, and almost completely useless. Just like delicious candy.

--Kevin

Nov. 17th, 2008

Dice

If only I could do this in real life...

Mirror's Edge Time Trial mode is deeply addictive. Considering I've never really been into any racing games, this is saying something. Now, I'm up at odd hours risking premature arthritis as my lithe avatar sprints, leaps and wall runs again and again, trying to find that perfect groove that will shave .5 seconds off my best time...! I found a course I liked and then set a goal for myself: "On this course I will break into the top 100 ranking." Out of a couple thousand players, I was determined to be in the top 100. I chose the player ranked 100 and downloaded his info. Instead of racing the clock, I was now racing the red after-image of this previous player's best effort. And as the hours wore on I gained on that ghost little by little. The small bars on the side of the screen that chart my overall performance began to turn green as I outran him first on one section, then two... and finally it happened. The perfect run--for me, anyway. In the end I beat him by .90 seconds, which catapulted me way past him! Behold:

86 Baby!

It may not mean much to some, but for me it's the culmination of a hard battle against some stubborn kilobytes of saved data. On this night, and on this course, I rank in the top 100 out of all the players who have ever tried it. For me that's enough. W007!

--"Speedy" Kev

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Nov. 16th, 2008

Dice

Mirror's Edge is amazing.

That's it. No pithy review or wry comment. This game is simply awesome.


End of line.
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Nov. 15th, 2008

Self Portrait

It's a film about life.

I finished watching the indie film The Station Agent last night. Sigh. I mean, this was a film that won awards and a slew of nominations for awards. So... it's good, right? Okay. It's good.

Fuck. IT HAD NO ENDING. Okay, I know. It's an Indee Fylm(TM), which means that you can have subtle, slow character portraits with nonexistent--sorry, I meant subtle--plot development. But... c'mon!! Cinephiles have been swallowing that argument since The 400 Blows gave us an OMG stunning freeze frame as if it made up for the lack of a defined ending.

Maybe it's just me. It probably is. I just find character portraits with limited to no transformation to be a letdown at best and a deep disappointment at worst. I feel like I've gotten on a roller coaster that stops at the top of the highest hill and then lets all the passengers off. The Station Agent was so abrupt that I was waiting for the next scene when I got credits instead. WTF??!! What a waste! We had good, interesting characters, well defined conflicts and then... nothing. It's like I can sense a pasty filmmaker taking a deep drag off his cigarillo (it's always a cigarillo), and then intoning in a quasi-french accent "It's a film about life." Then the bastard exhales through his nostrils and stares off into the distance. Well, maybe some--or even most--folks agree with that (entirely theoretical) dick, but I call these non-endings a cop-out.

Even Napoleon Dynamite--one of the most understated films in recent years--has a fucking defined ending! And that is why I will sing ND's praises to the highest hills while simply gesticulating incoherently with grunts of frustrated anger when people ask me about The Station Agent. So I guess I'm saying that Napoleon Dynamite is my proof. If ND takes the trouble to craft well-thought-out resolutions for each of its near nonexistent plotlines, then what's their excuse?! Fuck this.

This is why I keep going back to shit like Halloween 5.

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