Archive for August, 2009

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notes fromthe back row- Tarantino rises again

August 26, 2009
sticks and stones (and baseball bats) break bones but words are weapons too

sticks and stones (and baseball bats) break bones but words are weapons too

Notes from the back row- aug 19

by feet banks

It’s been a disappointing summer for movies. Last week I caught myself pay-per-viewing 17 Again just for something to watch (and I gotta say, I’ve been hard on Zac Efron in the past but he carries that movie.)

Blockbuster season at the theatres this year has been a lot of hype with very little payoff, until now. August is really shaping up and saving the summer with the kick-ass alien movie District 9 opening last week and Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds set to hit screens this Friday.

Quentin Tarantino is a movie dork who makes movies, and his love for cinema usually manifests itself in countless homages to genres and films– from Samurai flicks to the French New Wave. This time around he tackles the war epic and Inglorious Basterds is 152 minutes of stylized drama crafted with fetishistic precision and care. Don’t let the trailers fool you, this is not a balls-out action film where an elite unit of Jewish Americans headed buy a chin-jutting Brad Pitt run around Nazi-occupied France scalping Germans and bashing people’s heads in with bats (although, there is definitely some of that.)

Inglorious Basterds is not a war film about huge military operations and battles. Tarantino hard boils it down into a series of tense dramatic situations punctuated by very personal acts of extreme violence.

And, of course, shitloads of snappy dialogue– Tarantino flicks are ‘talkies’ in the truest sense of the word. But unlike Deathproof, where much of the dialogue was idle boasting and geeky film in-jokes this time around the dialogue is meaningful, suspenseful and touches on the real emotion of war, with words as weapons.

From the first chapter (there are five total) where a milk-drinking, Jew-hunting, evil Nazi colonel played by Cristoph Waltz sweet-talks a good hearted French farmer into giving up the Jews he is hiding under the floorboards all the way through to the stunning cinematic climax of burning revenge, the dialogue in Basterds is tense and fantastic.

Of course, some people have complained that the characters are unrealistic, that Tarantino strays from history too much, that his movie is too cartoony, etc, etc. I’m gonna have to say balls to that. For one thing, from Jackie Brown to Kill Bill and again here, Tarantino provides the strongest female characters in Hollywood today. And sure, Quentin makes movies about movies but he’s damn good at it and, almost always, the people in the movie are damn good as well. (The superb multi-national casting in Basterds is fantastic and Tarantino uses music perfectly again but the real star of this film is the script, and cineman itself.) If you like movies, you’ll love this movie.

Also opening Friday is Shorts directed by Quentin’s old buddy and the king of Do-It-Yourself filmmaking Robert Rodriguez, who wrote, directed, scored, shot, edited and coordinated all the special effects on this flick about a magical rainbow rock that can make wishes come true and CGI effects that bounce all over the screen. There’s a hint of social commentary in there about our dependence on technology but overall this kiddie fare will appeal to adults even less than Spy Kids did. Hopefully Rodriguez goes back to more mature movies soon.

August keeps chugging along next week with Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 but until then computer-literate movie fans can go online and check out the video where Quentin Tarantino lists his favourite 20 movies made since 1992. With a few surprises (Speed) and a bit of insight (not enough) Tarantino dishes up the goods on what makes him stoked. No Zac Efron flicks in there, but the entire video is right below in the next post.

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Tarantino lists his favourite 20 films since 1992

August 18, 2009

I was just becoming a movie dork when Quentin Tarantino burst onto the scene. His screenplay for True Romance, the simple awesomeness of Reservoir Dogs and of course, Pulp Fiction one of the biggest movies of the 90’s. Tarantino was the ultimate movie dork suddenly making really good movies and with the release of his latest, Inglorious Basterds later this week a video has come out where he lists his favourite 20 movies in since 1992, when he started making movies. There are a few surprises in there (Speed) and a bit (not enough) insight but if you need something to do this fall, work your down Quentin’s list. Good Times guaranteed.

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C’ETAIT UN RENDEZ-VOUS

August 17, 2009


C’ETAIT UN RENDEZ-VOUS
Uploaded by TheSpongBob. – Watch auto videos

The cats over at Kontraband.com have compiled a list, with video, of their 24 favourite cinematic car chases of all time including Road Warrior,The French Connection, Bourne Identity, and more.

The list is impressive and one standout was the French short film C’etait un rendez-vous (It was a date.)

Filmed in 1976, on the streets of Paris one summer morning, this 7-minute clip is pure balls. Filmed in one take, Frenchman Claude Lelouch did the driving, in a Mercedes 450SEL (although the sound is an overdubbed Ferrari engine) and this is not sped up, Lelouch reaches speeds of up to 135mph and pulls off some gutsy turns and dodges. Athough no one is chasing him in this sequence it’s still well worth checking out. I’ve said it before and i’ll say it again, the french are no joke.

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Whistler Local heads to Finland for the World Air Guitar Championships

August 15, 2009
Whistler's Johnny Utah at the 07 national championships, after smashing a beet bottle on his head. see video below.

Whistler's Johnny Utah at the 07 national championships, after smashing a beet bottle on his head. see video below.

Whistler Local Repeats at Canadian Air Guitar Championship, Heads to Finland for the Worlds.

By Feet Banks

This is the Olympic year and the pressure is on our local athletes to perform this winter but amidst all the Olympic hype and controversy, lets not forget the Sea to Sky’s other athletic champions, those in so-called “fringe sports” that may not gather the media attention and sponsorship dollars of the 2010 spectacles but are probably more fun to watch, compete in, and win.
I’m talking specifically about Air Guitar and, for the second consecutive year, Whistler’s Cole Manson is Canada’s National Air Guitar Champion.
Manson, a local Capoeira instructor, competes under the name “Johnny Utah” and in Early August he traveled to Winnipeg, Manitoba and wailed away on the imaginary fret-board to bring home another national title.
On August 19- 21, 2009 Cole will be back in Oulu, Finland for the third time to compete in the 14th annual World Air Guitar Championships. Last year he brought home a Bronze medal, and while being the third best person in the world at imaginary-rocking-out might be good enough for some people, we know it isn’t for Johnny Utah.


Feet- Congrats on the Victory. How did the Winnipeg Championships compare to the ones held in Toronto?

Cole– It wasn’t as hard of a competition, the calibre was a bit higher in Toronto, where there were 5-6 other provincial champs last year. What happened was the guy who started the Canadian Air Guitar Championships in Toronto merged his company with LiveNation and moved on to other things. Air Guitar was kind of a backburner thing for a while and this year’s event wouldn’t have happened but then the guy who organized the Manitoba provincials last year bought the rights to Canadian Air Guitar at the last minut so there wasn’t time to get all the other Provincial Championships going in time to make the worlds.

Feet- How many competitors were there?

Fifteen– Two ex-provincial champs, a couple of veterans and a handful of amateurs. It was a big night though. It was at the Royal Albert Arms Hotel, a pretty historical joint– Green Day and Nirvana have played there before– an dit was packed, it went on for quite a while. A real party.

Feet- Now that Whistler is preparing to host the world, do you think the National Air Guitar Championships are something that would fit in up here?

We’re actually working on that. I’ve teamed up with the new organizer and I’m supposed to set up the BC and Alberta Provincial Championships next year and we are gonna have the BC championship in Whistler right here in Whistler. So we’ll see how that goes.

Feet- What strategy and training regiment did you undertake this last year to ensure a re-peat?

I got together with DJ Rob Baanks and it was all about putting together a good track. I didn’t train that much, I rode my confidence to victory.

Feet- Now you’re off to Finland to battle it out with the best in the world. You’ve been before, and Europe seems to be the epicenter of Air Guitar. How are you preparing for this challenge and this trip?

This one I am putting some effort into. I have a lot of wardrobe ideas and have been spending a lot of time on my tracks. I have a new instrument I’m gonna unleash that has never been seen before.

Feet- Is it strictly rock and roll at these championships or do competitors mix in some Flamenco guitar or Chet Atkins tracks to keep people on their toes?

They do, the guy that got second place last year, his song was entirely flamenco guitar and he was handing out roses to the judges and stuff, it was great. There’s been air banjo, air ukelele, air stand-up bass, everything. Almost everything.

Feet– With all the hype and ruffled feathers surrounding the 2010 Olympics, do you feel like Air Guitar and other culturally important sports like Rock-paper-scissors or Table Hockey, get the respect they deserve?

In some circles they do but a lot of outsiders still see it as a joke. But within the circles of each of those sports people get it, and respect each other. I’m an air guitarist but because of that I have a lot of respect for a Rock-Paper-Scissors specialist. People may laugh at all those things but these are sports that everybody does, and probably, given the chance, would love to compete at.

Feet- These sports really bring nations and people together don’t they? More so, I would say, than Olympic sports because the fun level seems higher and the stress seems lower?

It’s so true. In Finland we even do a flag-bearing parade where we all carry our nation’s colours. Everyone has accomplished their goal to get to the World Championships and once you are there it is all about fun and good times and putting on a good show for your fellow competitors, inspiring them and entertaining them. Over there it is not about winning at all. The first time I went over to Oulu I was worried about winning but then I realized we were all winners already and it was time to have fun. After the comp we all went downstairs and did Air-eoke.

Feet- If you could Air Guitar for the entire world, one song, with everyone on earth watching, what song would you pick?

If it’s on that kind of World Stage I would have to go with the World Air Guitar theme song, the one that we all go up on stage and rock out together after the comp, and that’s Neil Young’s “Keep on Rocking in the Free World.” Anyone, anywhere in the world can rock out to that song.

Feet- Thanks Cole, good luck. All of Canada will be Banging their head and throwing the horns for you on the 21st.

-30-

2007- Johnny Utah Smashes Beer Bottle on own Head…

2009- Kick-starting Winnipeg en route to second National Title.

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Hot, and she cares about your kid’s safety.

August 14, 2009

Jennifer’s Body comes out this fall.

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Notes from the Back Row- District 9 and more

August 13, 2009
District 9 might be the best movie of the summer

District 9 might be the best movie of the summer

District 9, Time Traveler’s Wife, Band Slam, Perfect Getaway.

by Feet Banks

Aug 11

Be you Man, Woman or Child there’s something for everyone this week at the Village 8 theatre. Ladies first– Not to be confused with The Astronaut’s Wife – a 1999 Rosemary’s Baby rip-off widely considered to be Johnny Depp’s worst film, The Time Traveler’s Wife is aimed at female audiences of any age that appreciate sappy love stories. Starring Rachel “The Notebook” McAdams as the wife and Eric Bana (Munich) the film is about two perfect soul mates repeatedly finding and losing each other and how true love transcends time, space, and 107 minutes of your life.
Although totally Chick-flick, it’s not all bad – finally a time traveling movie where someone thinks to write down the winning lottery numbers from the future. It’s cheesy, melodramatic and occasionally confusing but both McAdams and Bana turn in strong performances (good thing because the supporting cast is almost invisible) and The Time Traveler’s Wife plays like a hybrid of Benjamin Button and Ghost (the screenplay, actually, was written by the same guy as Ghost.) Despite the occasional flash of wit and charm this should have just been called The Time Traveler and included a scene where Bana gets hit in the nuts with a tree, starts hopping around and steps in dinosaur shit. Sounds childish but it probably would have been a better movie.
Speaking of children, Band Slam, also opening Friday, stars Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical) in a teen dramedy that’s a lot like The Commitments but for 12-year-olds, with worse music, and the dramatic pay-off of an early episode of Degrassi, all filtered through the current hipster Nick and Nora meets Juno trend. Which means, for tweens, it’s not that bad at all and with two strong(ish) female roles it might be a real box office contender against all the little boy fantasy flicks of the summer.
The big boys, and girls, get District 9, an out-of-nowhere sci-fi Apartheid allegory about what would happen if a ship full of a million refugee aliens parked in Johannesburg, South Africa. Twenty years later, the aliens are still around, widely disliked and living as a social underclass in a J-burg slum while Multi-Nation United, the company hired to deal with them, tries desperately to figure out how to use their weapons technology while herding them into concentration camps. The flawed hero is Wilkus Van Der Merwe, a MNU company man who ends up on the wrong side of the company and must seek safety in amongst the aliens he was once in charge of segregating.
First time director Neill Blomkamp, who lived in Vancouver for a while, has teamed with Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings) to deliver a film that is pretty much the opposite of a Hollywood blockbuster but might end up being the best picture of the summer. Mixing thrilling sci-fi with sun-bleached docu-style camera work to capture big effects and thought provoking (but not too heavy) socio-political overtures Blomkamp rushes through his first film a little bit but the ending really delivers. District 9 rules.
A Perfect Getaway is a bit predictable but the script is knowingly textbook B-grade thriller and the execution is solid. Quips fly with always bankable Steve Zahn (Strange Wilderness, Rescue Dawn) acting up against Milla Jovovich (Resident Evil) and Tim Olyphant (The Girl Next Door) in this Honeymoon-from-hell story. Although lacking in nudity, Getaway has good action, acting (Jovovich really cranks it up for the last act), decent gore, stunning tropical location, a Bad Taste homage and a killer chase scene with the best camera/editing work since Seven Samurai. This is a film geek’s perfect date movie and although it’s not playing in Whistler it rounds out a good week of family fun at the cinema.

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Where The Wild Things Are- New Trailer

August 7, 2009

Spike Jonze, working off a Dave Eggers screenplay has adapted Maurice Sendak’s classic book Where the Wild Things Are and even though you’ve heard rumours about the studio calling for tons of reshoots because it was “Not kiddie enough” fear not, this movie is gonna be awesome. Spike Jonze is fuckin brilliant. His first feature was Being John Malkovich his second was Adaptation, he’s been involved in all the coolest skateboard flicks, produced Jackass:the Movie and directed all the best music videos from the 90’s, including Beastie Boys Sabotage.

here’s the new trailer. This movie drops OCtober 16 and is gonna be awesome.

and some of Spikes other great work