Archive for the Movie Category

Some new aproval

Posted in Movie with tags , , on December 30, 2010 by michaelchernoff

Every hollywood 3D movie I despise as a cheap gimmick. A technique to draw in audiences for mediocre movies or features that didn’t need a 3D polish to be good. 3D in general doesn’t add anything to the understanding of a story in a movie. Surprisingly now my expectations changed some what with the advent of Tron Legacy. Tron Legacy isn’t perfect and although a good watch it has as many faults as does successes as a product. The biggest success to me was the 3D landscape of the digital realm of Tron Legacy. The 3D was used an enhancer of the world inside the computer and real barrier between physical and numerical existence. None of the external real world footage contains the 3D effect and was left as standard cinematography and was also stated precluding the movie that some scenes contained no 3D. It’s a clear sign that the 3D was meant to highlight the transitional existence of the characters in the computer and for the viewing audience.

Thinking of what dimension the digital realm would exist is unclear also…is it a timeline of 3D or 4D…perhaps 5D? But the depth field in the was definitely advanced to a degree that Sam Flynn was even astounded at his loss of perception in the moving space of the computer. Lighting in this movie was also mysterious since the sky was luminous and most light derived from digital sentients. In a weirdly abstract way the layers of form and space were adequately captured in a world where it mirrors our architecture and ideas but does not have the same ecosystem or physics. There also appeared to be a lacking of goofy techniques at work like objects hurling towards the eye and leaning in motions. This was not exploration of 3D for the sake of 3D but for the narrative medium. Medium was used by the medium and is understood and controlled by the makers of Tron Legacy in the tradition of Mcluhan’s theories.

There isn’t a questioning of why people want to see 3D, only that it is wanted and therefore it is achieved. But 3D remains mostly not analysed and processed for why it should be included in a movie. 3D should be chosen not for sole commercial reasons but as an actual technique and not a standard. I saw Toy Story 3 in 3D and as much as I enjoyed the movie the 3D added zero value to the movie. As a whole seeing Tron Legacy was the closest thing that I received for an immersive experience with 3D. It brought out the architecture and space of Tron’s digital realm to the fullest.

Art Films about the path of Art

Posted in Movie with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 29, 2010 by michaelchernoff

This year in my opinion was a horrible year for great movies…I’ve only seen 2 and heard of 5 that were good and that is probably how many on average a country makes. But I guess it seems like there is an over saturation of really bad romantic and comedy movies. We maybe be in denial about the economic depression of the world as much as the depression of 2010’s filmography but at least we can delve back into the past productions that were the true cinematic gems of their season. When I watch movie it can only be a favorite of mine if I can watch numerous times and not be bored with it. Typically intense human dramas, indirect science fiction, and poor quality but funny movies are my prefered stories. However as an aspiring artist I think a lot about what it takes to make art…the time, events, and effort that compose an art piece.

“The medium is the message” as said by Mcluhan and there are few films that aren’t biographies or pop driven that explore the process of art without being predictable and forced. I liked Pollock but it’s about Pollocks ego and psyche not his process only progression and Factory Girl isn’t really about Andy Warhol it’s a caricature. Since the criteria is high the three movies I say that fit into this exploration are Charlie Kaufman’s (any film written by him also but specifically) Synecdoche New York, David Mamet’s Red Belt, and the recent Black Swan by Aronofsky.

Synecdoche New York is the story of the frustrated and failing theater director Caden Cotard. The movie is highly complex both in writing and pictorially due to the length of Caden’s masterpiece play that is meant to be true and real to the fullest. He is also convinced he is dying and wants to create a great play before he dies.  Through out Caden’s life from age 40-? he uses every significant happening in his life and transforms it into a play piece that is composed of an epic huge play that is a recreation of places he’s been in a warehouse in NYC recreated in another warehouse that holds neighborhoods of NYC recreated in another warehouse that envelopes the city blocks around the old warehouse…baffling logic. However the work never ends it keeps manifesting with no end in sight and never comes into fruition because Caden can’t stop creating and his life’s work becomes his life work ending with his death. The film zeros in on the fears and abilities of an artist. No matter how much they work and achieve they will never be satisfied and will die unfulfilled and feel insignificant. It’s hard to talk about this movie in without spoiling and detailing so much about it and that the plot is always in flux. Overall it is a prime example of what art is, how its made, and what happens to artists in their life. I don’t think its a guide-book to how everyone life is…but this is a near bulls eye to me.

Red Belt is simply a about Mike Terry a Jujitsu teacher trying to be a good person in a world where martial arts revolves around media spectacle for money. Yet the film reaches a dark level of corruption when Terry’s handicap lesson is stolen by fight promoters in order to fix fights without the fighters ever knowing the match was predetermined by the chance handicap. Fights are pumped up by racial and nationalistic sentiments all in order to raise profits and maintain an illusion of warrior spirit. What is most compelling to me is the contrast between the commercial and pure paths of martial arts. In everything I believe that there are two divisions between art and commercialism. Despite Terry staying out of competitions and maintaining the honor of his dojo and style he has no money and through a series of events the people who followed his code of honor are helpless in our society where money is necessary to survive. It is a narrative of how money degrades the and mutates the ideas and image of martial arts from a science in training the body and mind into a function of monetary value. Fighters must choose whether they are in it for the money or honor the style itself. Basically an entity similar to the UFC industry as the commercial entity has brought the martial “Artist” to his knees and pressures him into fighting for money in a tournament and breaking his principles in order to save the victims of his code. Mike Terry concludes the movie by seeking to expose the fixing of the matches to tournament audience. The ending is one of most powerful scenes I’ve ever viewed in a theater.

The Black Swan illustrates what is necessary to make an art ballet rendition of Swan Lake. Nina a timid and conservative but talented dancer is chosen as the lead for the play as the Swan Queen. Due to her fragile and timid dancing she is ideal for the white swan but under qualified to match the mood of the black swan. However due to the sexual pressures of her teacher, her rivalry, rebellion against her mother, and strains of envy and hate against Nina she undergoes a personal transformation. She becomes of loose, violent, and paranoid of everyone. Nina essentially becomes the Swan Queen as she fears other dancers who threaten her role and she also revels in her status as queen. She becomes so involved that she begins to transform into a swan. I’m not going to go into what was and wasn’t a hallucination on Nina’s part but this film showed all the suffering and challenge a person must overcome to be truely great. Behind every performance are events that shape the mood, quality, and interaction of performers. An audience never knows from behind the scenes who fucked who, who hates who, who inspired who…it’s all undocumented interaction that leads to either a supreme or dull product. Other films by Kaufman I think nearly fit in are Being John Malcavich and Adaptation for the record. If another person were to follow this I guess Amadeus could fit but it was too fabricated for me to base an opinion on it and no look into the process other than his perfect note scribing. Art described in documentary can be dulled and in a movie feature is subject to be distorted for entertainment value. Movies like the ones listed above I think are uncompromising to let their ideas be drowned in hollywood glamour but at the same time are compelling stories. I hope the directors will keep writing and finding scripts that can be copuled with their visionary expertise to make true art films. On that note No Country for Old Men might fit into this category too.

Yevgeniy Yufit

Posted in Artist, Film, Movie, Photography with tags , , , , , on August 9, 2010 by michaelchernoff

Yevgeniy Yufit is the creator of the genre necro-realism and a long sought after artist whose name I had forgotten. He was one of the entry’s that impressed in the Ice Cream publication that I wrote about some months ago. His work was first established in the 1980’s in the Soviet Union. His mediums are photo and film making and I have seen his short film Vesna on youtube. There is no sound and little explanation for it in the description box.

Vesna is a strange is experiment with lots of torture and celebratory scenes with a chimp on top of it all. It’s hard to make complete heads or tails of it but it seemed to be a tale of the abused becoming abusers and injustice between the life of rural and urban Russia. My favorite parts are the processions of the chimp and the forced gnawing of a wooden stick by a man who at the start of the film dragged men on train tracks with blood on his beard. The film ends with a woman who had been writing the time of the events in a notebook, resting her eyes leaning back with the book closed. She was old.

But it is hard to get any viewing chances of complete Yufit works. Yet it was his photographs that impressed me more than his silent films. The idea of zombified Russians was captivating since the idea was not flesh-eating creatures but caricatures more fitting to the intro of Shawn of The Dead. Ordinary workers trudging through snowy fields and woods with defeated and tired faces. It’s a fitting statement to the last years of the Soviet Union, a nation of people weary from being cut of from the advantages of capitalism and state oppression. The living dead idea just calls out to the dark memories of Communist Totalitarianism.

Unfortunately none of the great full paged photos I saw in the book pages of Yufit are on google searches so he is little published on American data searches. He is still active into the 2000’s and has influenced a lot punk rock imagery and icons. Maybe also goth culture but I can’t tell how far-reaching his influence is abroad. If I ever see a publication of his I will snatch it up immediately.

Black Lights

Posted in Movie, Projects with tags , on February 6, 2010 by michaelchernoff

Lately I’ve had strange thoughts for incorporating black lights and flourescent colors in photo, video, and painting projects. Yet I don’t own any black lights yet or liquid materials that illuminate from the lamps. But the scene from Batman Forever as corny as it is really made an impression on me. The whole set design is zany in the campy flick and is probably the only thing that was done right in the film. If you watch the video above just hang in past Nicole Kidman’s scene and the backlight rumble is in there…with glowstick rods!!!

Hurrrr…?

Posted in Dick Heads, Humor, Movie, Uncategorized, Videogame Media with tags , , on January 9, 2010 by michaelchernoff

Found some interesting  analysis of two mass media  obsessions. You can thank the countless hours people spend on 4chan for this.

Avatar Afterthoughts

Posted in Artist, Movie, Uncategorized with tags , , , on December 21, 2009 by michaelchernoff

I don’t usually do this on the internet but I decided since everyone raves about avatar I’d give it my own review.

Now I’m not going to discuss the new CGI slash 3D experience. If you came for that you’ll get plenty. And yes this is a new breakthrough for developing CGI and digital modeling for film and other media.

What I do find more relevant to my own film expectations is the quality of the plot, story, and characters in Avatar. This film pretty much occurred as I thought it would in these aspects. And the art and design direction were great (did Cameron design the biology? I don’t know, probably not).

When I first read the synopsis and developement of this film before it was released I thought “yeah nice camera show, but a flat story most likely.” Also James Cameron had this script written for years, but wanted the CGI performance to be at this level to do it. In other words he made a bunch of crappy 3D films for IMAX in order to do this project. That reads to me that Cameron’s story for this film was so flimsy that he needed great visuals to make this movie worth while. Not surprisingly Avatar also seemed like Aliens, Terminator, and Predator, combined into a green peace motion feature before seeing it.

The biggest problem with this movie is that the plot is too undeveloped and ideas float around without any gravity in terms of plot connections. Hear me out on this. For example Sigourney Weavers character is a scientist that made contact with the inhabitants. But I couldn’t even tell how close she was to the tribe. Vaguely she had students but never has any close interaction with the tribe leaders or even if she inducted into the society. Then she also made a point of the trees being an information system to the corporate douche (remember this was Sigourney’s dilemma with the corporate spokesman in Aliens?). But before that statement there was no announced research or discovery of this shown, only that the inhabitants link to organisms…but we had yet to see a tree link up. Then when did Jake Sully (the main character avatar) feel a connection to the forest. He did the rituals, developed the avatar body, and fell in love with his teacher. But nowhere is it clearly transitioned that he appreciates the planet. He says it but does he mean it? Also would it really be that easy for a humans idea of attraction to change that fast, that he would have sex with a tall lean blue alien? Maybe that would be explained with…more plot developement.

On a smaller note there was the other scientist who pissed that Sulley initially for being chosen and there was tension building. Then it was dropped for no reason other than Sulley said it was dropped… surprise. Along with the low plotline the film in general is easy to predict. From Sulley being taken in by the tribe to the fact that he conquers the largest flying animal in the area. Scene by scene you can almost always tell plot points that will come and go.

Besides the disappointing lack of plot details that couldn’t be done in 2 and half hours, is the lack of attachment I had to the characters. I felt sadness for the inhabitants and frustration with the human military and corporate personel. But so what? I never cared what happened in particular to important characters. The chief died…do I care? Sigourney died…do I care? The head warrior died…do I care? Hellicraft pilot dies…do I care? Sulley almost dies…did I care? Nope, I had no personal feelings invested in these characters as to their fates. Not to mention their deaths are relatively untouched overall…no formal declarations of almost anyone who dies in the film. In the end I don’t feel like I knew these characters and therefore don’t care that their gone.

Another mediocre quality about this film is that how it says thing that other films have said, but not as polished. The films I recognized from this story telling are movies like Dances With Wolves which spoke and outlined better the assimilation of a man into a another more naturalistic culture. The Matrix for plugging into new bodies, in avatar Sulley describes the planet as reality and his crippled body the dream. In general the military attitude and protocol in avatar seems almost no different from Aliens or the predator II sequel. The film largely is just a reinvention of the saga of the American frontier pushing against the existence of the Native Americans…except the natives win.

Then in the ending Cameron could have added something new to think about if Sulley had died. This is just my fantasy, but if Sulley died and his lover Neytiri couldn’t save him because she didn’t know his technology (ie the gas mask would save him or how to operate it) that would have been impressive. It would have led to a discussion in my mind of cultural exchange and importance of knowledge, and where ignorance of both cultures lead to…death. Instead Cameron gave the audience the same endearing messages that a lot of other hollywood films have done, and better than this film.

So in conclusion James Cameron made the movie we have seen many times with a new twist on visuals and setting. He got what he wanted, a CGI feature that has taken film making to a new level. He made what he already new would work…aliens, terraforming, new planet, conflict, humans get beaten but soldier on, with a new element that the aliens are the victors and are good. I guess James Cameron must have been just as pissed as everyone else when he saw the terrible CGI in Titanic as a super 3 dimensional iceberg closed in on the ship. Never again will I make bad CGI and now he never will and he can sleep soundly at night.

This year Avatar will receive nominations at the Oscars for its visual achievements but probably won’t be in the category for best motion picture. Will avatar be remembered later on? There are bound to be other movies made like this now and maybe they will overtake avatars story and film legacy. However I am not hopeful for that. With 3D movies not matter what the title is I don’t think there has ever been a good or monumental made. 3D films are gimmicks, flashy shows that belong in theme parks, not movie theaters. I have never seen or heard anyone in public or at the academy awards announce that one of their favorite movies is a film that was initially released in 3D. Those films don’t exist because they don’t have long-lasting stories or images worth treasuring. So even with this new CGI quality are people going to enjoy Avatar as much without on a big 3D screen, and not a blueray 42 inch flat screen? I don’t think so, without that it’s just another hollywood sci-fi flick.

Little Forgotten

Posted in Memories, Movie, Video with tags , , , on December 16, 2009 by michaelchernoff

Last night I had gotten hold of the classic children’s animation film Little Nemo  Adventures  in  Slumberland.  For many years  now  I  thought  that  I had  never seen the  film.  That  it was one of the few movies from the 1990’s I hadn’t enjoyed.  But after one scene where Nemo is eating cookies I remembered seeing the shot. The colors chimed a cookie craving and  then I saw the airships searchlights I knew I’d seen the feature but only vaguely remembered it.  The scene with King and the model train also resonated in my memory.  Especially since in my childhood I was very interested in trains.

Usually I consider myself extremely capable of recalling memories from early in my life. My earliest memory was being held by my mother in a rocking in my room and being sung to. I must have been almost a year old. But there are snipids of my life where I remember events that I saw on VHS and television that I sometimes can’t piece together as reality or dreams. I’m carrying around little things in the back of my mind. Another film was the The Red Balloon. I had all but forgotten about the french movie and after watching again a year ago I remembered most of it. The only detail I’d forgotten was the title.

Rewatching these films isn’t so much nostalgia driven but maybe exploring a past time through these movies. I’m resorting a life mixed with image media.