Monday, August 31, 2009

The Hurt Locker

It's a really strong film, with some incredible set pieces. Cinematography is some of the best I've seen all year- the s16mm coupled with zoom lenses perfectly suits the mood of the film, and as an added bonus, looks beautiful.

It's not a overly thoughtful comment on war, nor a complete reflection of the madness of the whole thing, but a wonderfully subtle action film, with a very strong performance from Jeremy Renner.

I've always liked Kathryn Bigelow's early feature Point Break, but I've only just realised why- the action is superb. Her set pieces are rivaled only by the best scenes from the Bourne films. Witness the agonizingly long sniper scene in Hurt Locker. Like Greengrass, she brings a sense of realism to the action that utterly draws you in.

Go see it. It's the most thrilling film of the year to date.


Pervert

From an important news story that revealed that 'Pixie Geldof' has a nipple piercing:

The two girls - daughters of Boomtown Rats rocker Bob Geldof - are currently on holiday in Majorca and were snapped peeling off as they relaxed on some rocks and went snorkeling in the sea.
An onlooker tells Britain's News of the World, "Pixie has an incredible figure and really wanted to show it off. Peaches was shy at first, but soon got over it and joined in the fun."


What kind of 'onlooker' is this? Who speaks like that? How long was this 'onlooker' watching them?

I think the News of the World should reveal their source.

Trench Coat



There is a strange character on the beach. A black guy in a leather trench coat is walking, pausing and dancing near the water. He has a glass in his hand. I can't tell if it's empty or not. He appears to be well dressed, as if he has just come from a function - perhaps a wedding, or a funeral. Judging from his mannerisms, I'd guess that he is quite drunk.

The dancing makes him seem happy, but I will keep an eye on him. He's quite far out now. Probably about a fifteen minute run from my house.

video

Apologies once again for the low quality video.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

John Lithgow

I saw John Lithgow jogging in Dalkey this afternoon. I think.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Kubrick - Not, in fact, a meglomaniac.

It's quite refreshing to watch the making of The Shining (directed by Vivian Kubrick, his daughter). In contrast to the mythicism that surrounds it, Kubrick comes across as a very normal guy. A director focused on his film, yes, but not a meglomaniac. Not by a long shot. In fact, everyone on set is relatively normal- even the actors, surprisingly. Jack Nicholson doesn't swagger around set in character. He waits till just before the camera turns over to warm himself up- in one example, by jumping up and down with his axe and telling himself 'ok, you're an axe murderer'.


Not insane. Just concentrating.
I don't know why I had always imagined a Kubrick set as a something unique. I had some impression of an extremely arty space, with minimal crew and a ranting madman at the helm. But no, it comes across as a regular set, with all the problems of a regular set ('Less snow!'). Kubrick chats with his cast and crew. He even finds a couple of shots there and then - I always figured he'd have everything worked out already. He directs Danny mid-shot. Yes, he's occasionally abrupt with Shelley Duvall, but from what I can see she needed it.

That everything is so casual and normal almost makes it doubly impressive that his films ended up being such controlled masterpieces.

As for the rumours of manipulation on 'Eyes Wide Shut', perhaps these too are misinformed. Or perhaps he just became a bastard in old age. A genius bastard.


Bastard or not, he was undoubtedly a genius.

Ps. - Danny Loyd (the kid in the film) was last spotted as a science teacher. How weird would it be to be taught by him?

Wiki of the Day - Morse Code

When the French navy ceased using Morse code in 1997, the final message transmitted was "Calling all. This is our last cry before our eternal silence."
From WikiPedia

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Shining Lights

If anyone else can see the chimneys of Poolbeg power station, check out the lower light on the left Chimney (as seen from Dublin Bay). Every so often it flashes much brighter than the others.

To Illustrate:

Apologies for the low quality snap shot, but it captures the scene.
Here's an equally low quality video. You can't actually see the normal lights in this, but I assure you they are flashing every second or so...
video
Now, you might think that perhaps they just replaced this bulb, and the other ones are merely dim with age - but if you watch the video- or look out your window- you'll see that this particular bulb flashes both strongly and dimly. Think Morse code. Either that, or there's camera taking pictures of my house. If I tell you that it's so strong that it's shining through the window of my living room, and distracting me from the tv, that will give you an idea of how strong we're talking.

So far I haven't worked out a discernable pattern. Let me know if anyone cracks the code.

Oh, and guess what I'm watching- The Shining.

Casting choice of the Day

Click Here.
from The Guardian

LitBit

'..He had his friends for cocktails in his well-appointed rooms one afternoon when suddenly his pet ferret rushed out and bit an elegant teacup queer on the ankle and everybody hightailed it out the door, screaming.'
Jack Kerouac, On the Road, Part Two, Chp. 6

Monday, August 24, 2009

Dream Report



When I put Luke's weasel in the box with mine, it began to attack. I think it was stronger than mine, and there were only a couple of crumbs in the corner of the box for them to share. Luke's weasel was quite nasty, actually. So I had to put my hand in and take it out. Well, the fucker bit me. A lot. But I got him out. Then he jumped out of my hands before I could hand him back to Luke. So off Luke ran, chasing his weasel. I watched him go.

Then I turned back to the box. My weasel was gone! I frantically looked around. In front of me was a park surrounded by railings. I knew that was where he was. Sure enough, I saw him in the middle of the park. But he was lying there on his back. He wasn't moving. There was a swan there, hovering beside him. My god... he was dead!

He wasn't dead. Just as I thought it, he stirred into life. The swan began to peck at him. I had to jump the fence and run over there, shouting as loud as I could at that bloody swan. I scared him off, but of course my weasel ran away too. We chased him back to where we left the box.

I grabbed him, and he was safe. This is all I can remember.

Wiki of the Day - Trepanation

Click Here

'...Individuals may practice non-emergency trepanation for psychic purposes. A prominent proponent of the modern view is Peter Halvorson, who drilled a hole in the front of his own skull to increase "brain blood volume"'

'Away' Pick Ups







Here are some screen grabs from the pick ups we shot for Ruairi McKenna's 'Away' on Saturday.

Luckily it was a really nice day, and the weather conditions should match well with the original footage.

And Ruairi even treated us to an ice cream. Yay.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

They waited ten years for this?

Forget the hype. Avatar is about as much of a cinematic event as Transformers 2.

For those dedicated nerds who have been waiting for this epic sci-fi, mostly because it features flying dragons and scantily clad alien women... well, they might be satisfied. They may have been the losers who applauded after the preview screening. The cinema audience equivalent of applauding after Ryanair get you to Spain. Alive!

I was looking forward to Avatar for an entirely different- though equally nerdy- reason. I wanted, willed Avatar to blow me away with what was supposed to be the pinnacle of stereoscopic (3d) technology. Everything was supposed to be leading up to Avatar. It was supposed to set the bar for 3d, in the same way that Terminator 2 set the bar for computer graphics.

The most effective 3d moment of the screening? The logo for the company that provides the 3-d technology. There's your first mistake. It's possible that they are trying really hard to avoid the 'gimmick' of having something fly out of the screen. But, forgive me if you will, but if I choose to see a 3d film (and pay extra for it), I want to see something flying out of the fucking screen.

So anyway. The logo popped out of the screen, and hovered over the head of the woman sitting in front of me. That was fun. Then I had to sit through fifteen minutes of footage that barely looked 3d. I took my glasses off at one point, and there wasn't much of a difference. Even James Cameron's head (introducing the footage) was relatively 2d. Surely a James Cameron head that hovers over the person in front of you would have been much cooler?

The 'revolutionary motion graphics' looked frankly like a high quality computer game. Not the photorealism that we were led to expect. It's kinda like Lord of the Rings. A hugely expensive attempt to show off technology that it doesn't represent very well.

There was one part that looked good. It was a neon jungle. Like a vast Q-zar areana, very retro. But it was no more impressive than the neon garden of 'Coraline', a film without any of the pretences of Avatar. A film that was probably made for a quarter of Avatar's budget.

So the 3d is dissappointingly conventional. Ok. Even conventional 3d is more immersive than 2d, right? Not necessarily, in this case. I wasn't alone in finding a lot of distractions in the frame. An insignificant character in the foreground, say, would draw your eye away from the key action. I don't remember experiencing this problem in other 3d films. So, judging from that fifteen minute preview, the 3d is not only conventional - it's sorta sloppy. Is there a risk that the film that was supposed to triumph the stereoscopic format, could actually end up harming it? If I and one of my friends noticed the distractions, aren't other audiences going to?

If the intention of the studio was to wow audiences with the 3d, and spread positive word of mouth reviews in the run up to the December release date, well.... for me, at least, they failed. The marketing might be partially to blame. Like everyone I was lead to believe that this would be a seminal cinematic moment - if not in terms of story, then at least in terms of technology. I still think there will be some excellent 3d films. But Avatar will not be among them.

To put it simply, I wasn't impressed.

For the sake of balance, you might like to check out a different opinion, over at Venntertainment.

For the sake of comedy, check out this great 'official' trailer. I can report that the effects are slightly better in 3d :)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Avatar

I'm going to see the first fifteen minutes of Avatar today. I had to enter a competition to win them, but seeing as I know a couple of people who have also 'won' tickets, I reckon that it's all a clever marketing ploy to stir up excitement.

Which is good right? It's nice to feel excited. It should be akin to what people felt going to see the original Star Wars (which I haven't seen), or Jaws or similar.

I'll tell you what's not exciting though - The Avatar trailer. Again, they stirred up some anticipation with a countdown to the trailer's release. 5 days to go! 2 days! 3 hours! 5 mins...... and.... it looks a bit shit. Average plot. CG still looks like CG, and naturally it's criminally overused. But if you think about it, how good can it look, in a little computer window, in 2d? Hence the unprecedented (as far as I know) ploy of bringing people into the cinemas, so that they can experience the real selling point for this film - the 3d.

Lets not make any mistakes here. This is not going to be a filmmaking masterpiece. This is the guy who directed 'Titanic'. It's not even going to be a blockbuster in its own right. Titanic was huge because it was a story that appealed to a huge variety of audiences. Avatar is a sci-fi film. It can't possibly attract as wide an audience. What the success of the film rests on, is what some people call a gimmick, and what others call the future of cinema. In other words, the 3d better look pretty fucking amazing.

Do you know what's really offputting? Cameron is comparing Avatar to the Matrix. What the hell? Surely he could set his sights higher than that....

Anyway, lets see what the first 15 minutes look like...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Symbols

I had to teach my Mom what these mean tonight...

How many years have these existed as symbols? How do you avoid finding out for that long?!

Pyjama Girls

This sounds like it might be good. On a side note, isn't the word 'Pyjama' strange?

According to Wikipedia:
'They were introduced in England as lounging attire in the 17th century but soon went out of fashion'
So in a way, the use of Pyjamas- or Pajamas, or however you want to spell it- has evolved full circle back to regular daywear. Except this time the cause is being championed by inner city teenage girls, instead of the British elite.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Spoken Lyrics

Bernard Clarke played 'Stuff' by Myra Davies on JK today. Caught my ear. You can listen to it on her MySpace here. I must have a soft spot for spoken lyrics, as I'm also a big fan of 'Tree' by David Byrne (another JK discovery).

P.T Anderson

Came across this interesting article about P.T Anderson's rise to fame - click here. Looks like his next film may be a western? Here's hoping anyway...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Grading Test

Here's the result of a little grading test that I did yesterday, working in Apple Color.
The degree of manipulation in the Red files makes it a lot of fun.


video

Here's what the original looks like...




Working from a scene that I shot for Robert Manson's forthcoming short 'Coffee', which stars Frank Wasser and Sarah McCaul.

Shot on Nikons. This scene using a 35-70mm zoom.

I you want to see a bigger version (137mb), and have a bit of time to spare, right click here

Blog

Now I can blog.