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The Summer of 2012 Movies - When No Choice is the Wrong Choice

The Amazing Spider-Man

I saw Marc Webb's reboot of Sony/Columbia Picture's Spider-Man franchise, The Amazing Spider-Man, last week. This isn't a review (though, at some point, I'll probably tell you what I thought—I'm... conflicted). I just want to set the stage a bit and lay a few pieces on the table before I attempt to weave this web before you. I will be discussing character and plot and theme details from that movie, which, for my fingers' sake, I'll refer to subsequently as ASM. There will also be a few spoilers for Rupert Sanders' Snow White and the Huntsman—which I really did not care for—as well as a brief mention of the dead horse heretofore known as Prometheus—which I cared for even less. So, there's that. That's your primer. Let's get on with it.

 Posted July 2 in Discuss, Editorial, Feat | Comments

Discussing Sci-Fi Storytelling & World Building with Writer Jon Spaihts

Jon Spaihts Prometheus

Prometheus is coming. It's merely weeks away. And to say my hopes are interstellar-ly high would still, somehow, be an understatement. Thankfully in this interim before I get to soak my brain in Ridley Scott's latest sci-fi odyssey, I've had something in my back pocket to get me by, that today, with this article, I'm going to share. It's a taste of the very beginnings of Prometheus from the man in the very engine room of the ship itself. Screenwriter Jon Spaihts speaks more clearly and deftly about writing than almost anyone I've heard. He's the credited writer of The Darkest Hour and co-credited with Damon Lindelof on Prometheus, but it's his unproduced sci-fi work for which he's most known and for which he has become so sought after.

 Posted May 21 in Editorial, Feat, Interview, SciFi | Comments

Review: 'We Bought a Zoo', Brandon Bought a Zoo and So Should You

We Bought a Zoo

"We bought a zoo!" It's a line exclaimed by precocious, cherry-haired Rosie throughout the film to anyone in earshot. Strangers. Animals. Herself. And every time, her voice is pure. It's the embodiment of optimism. It's joy. Complete, unadulterated joy. There's a reason—sure, among more obvious ones—We Bought a Zoo is titled as such. It's that line. But, really, it's the emotion that line evokes. That joy. Cameron Crowe is a filmmaker who is able to capture, personify, and epitomize emotion better than most other filmmakers. Emotion is his currency. And he doles it out with impunity.

 Posted December 24 in Editorial, Opinions, Review | Comments

Just Say No: The Importance of the Hero's Reluctance in Storytelling

Mary Elizabeth Winstead in The Thing

I saw The Thing this past weekend. The prequel/reboot mutation that just arrived in theaters, not the John Carpenter sci-fi horror masterpiece. I did not enjoy it for many reasons. Really, I did not enjoy it for every reason. But what held my ire most was one very simple moment. A moment in the first ten minutes of the film that stands so blatantly as a tone-setting sign post, a Campbellian action so telegraphed that for the scene to play out any other way than the precognition in my mind would be, I thought, impossible. Well, I was wrong. And for the rest of the movie's 103 minute running time, I couldn't figure out why. I still can't.

 Posted October 18 in Discuss, Editorial, Opinions | Comments

Rupert Wyatt's 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes': A Genuine Touchstone

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Every once in a while there comes a film that is yours and yours alone. It was made for you. Almost as if the writers, director, and the rest of the cast and crew peeked inside your head, pulled out those memories and experiences and regrets and ideas that you might not have ever shared or spoken out loud and placed them with delicate fingertips amid a chronology of a film that, surprisingly, others, too, are able to see. Lots of others, all over the world. And so a film that, once, might have only existed in shades of shadow, intangible, only watchable via daydream or nightmare, is being projected in front of you. And then you're watching

 Posted August 3 in Discuss, Editorial, Opinions | Comments

Discuss: Art is Subjective, But Does an Objectively Good Film Exist?

Memento / Casablanca

I've written a lot about movies. I've written a lot about Art as a kingdom, for that matter. And as we are all aware, it's all subjective. Not only is what I write filtered through my experiences, my likes and dislikes, my emotions and personal connections, but what every observer of Art feels is laden with their own filters. This is why we naturally gravitate toward critics and reviewers who share the most filters with us. When we read them, they speak for us. Sure, it's just confirmation bias. And I'm sure you all, like me, also seek out opposing viewpoints, too, but if we have no voice of our own finding one similar can be a powerful thing.

 Posted January 27 in Discuss, Editorial, Opinions | Comments

Cinematic Discussion: The Superman We Don't Know We Need

Superman

I'm not a fan of Superman. I never have been. Sure, he's an icon. He's iconic. The go-to superhero when debating what power you'd rather possess. Idolized by kids the world over to adults of all creeds to the likes of Jerry Seinfeld (and I must agree, there's no reason why the yellow sun of our solar system wouldn't give Kal-El a superhuman comedic ability).

But, for me, he's always been boring. He's a little too good. He's a lot too powerful. And, at this point in time, he's simply stale. Recently, we've learned that David Goyer and the Nolan Brothers are preparing

 Posted June 7 in Discuss, Editorial, Hype | Comments

Brandon's Review: Hot Tub Time Machine is Totally Tubular

Hot Tub Time Machine

Hot Tub. Time. Machine. The title alone is enough to evoke a chuckle. It's seriously great. What's better is that the film that follows that distinctively '80s, bitchin' title sequence is able to evoke a whole lot more than a chuckle. This is a film to be seen with a group of friends who've hopefully seen their fair share of '80s movies, know their '80s fashion, and are familiar with spacial and temporal travel via jacuzzi wormholes. (That last one is less important. But relevant. And hilarious.)

Comedy is the toughest genre for me to review. Rather, I find it most difficult to recommend comedies to

 Posted March 25 in Opinions, Review | Comments

Brandon's Report: On the Set of A Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street

So, I moved to Elm Street; it didn't last. But let me start at the beginning.

Last June, I took a little trip to Chicago. Just outside the city, in a large, dank warehouse, Platinum Dune's latest re-imagining of a classic horror movie was being filmed--part of it, at least. And the setting begot the proper mood. That early in the morning, it's as if I was either just coming out of a dream, or was being tricked by Freddy himself, still dreaming under his power. Either way, the journey had only just begun.

 Posted February 22 in Editorial, Hype, Set Visit | Comments

Brandon's Word: Percy Jackson and the Olympians is a Shame

Percy Jackson and the Olympians

If there's one thing I hate above all else, it's wasted potential. Unfortunately, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief is just that: wasted potential. The film has a stunning cast, home to the likes of Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, Uma Thurman, Catherine Keener, Kevin McKidd, Joe Pantoliano, Rosario Dawson, and Steve Coogan. Of course, the actors above are but the trimmings on a film starring Alexandra Daddario (as Annabeth), Brandon T. Jackson (as Grover), and, as the titular character, Logan Lerman. It's these three we are meant to follow and grow with. Unfortunately, though, these three are the

 Posted February 12 in Opinions, Review | Comments

Brandon's Sundance 2010 Experience: That's It, That's All

Sundance 2010

I'm sitting here in what was dubbed "The Blogger Condo" as one-by-one the bloggers who made the condo what it was file out and head home. The kitchen is clean (sort of). The bathroom is clean. The living room is rearranged, but fairly clean. And I'm here, having just finished my last review, waxing on what I've learned throughout Sundance 2010. This is my final Sundance Experience blog (you can find the previous blogs here and here) collecting my thoughts as a first-time attendee of Sundance. Here's a few important nuggets of info (and tips for future attendees) that my brain has managed to soak up over the past ten days.

 Posted February 1 in Editorial, Sundance 10 | Comments

Brandon's Sundance Review: Debra Granik's Winter's Bone

Debra Granik's Winter's Bone

Winter's Bone puts shit in perspective. In the tradition of Precious (then, Push) last year, Winter's Bone won the Grand Jury Prize in the Dramatic Competition. Like Precious, the film is a depiction of poverty and the dregs of society. It's a tough film to watch, both because of its subject matter -- a seventeen-year-old girl is tasked with rearing her younger brother and sister while trying to hunt down her drug-dealing father in order to keep her family intact -- and because it's just a slow film. All of the film's parts are excellent. The writing is stellar, and, in fact, it won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award here at Sundance as well.

 Posted January 31 in Review, Sundance 10 | Comments

Sundance Review: Lisa Cholodenko's The Kids Are All Right

Lisa Cholodenko's The Kids Are All Right

There's been an outstanding showing of female filmmakers at this year's Sundance Film Festival. Lisa Cholodenko, director of The Kids Are All Right, is certainly among that group. The film finds its focus around a family that just so happens to consist of two lesbian parents and two children who were conceived through artificial insemination. It's when Joni, the eldest child played by Mia Wasikowska, decides to call her birth father -- read: the sperm donor -- that the film takes off. The film explores family, love, relationships, and all ranges of emotion better than most films. It's simply a beautiful portrayal of a

 Posted January 31 in Review, Sundance 10 | Comments

Interview: 12th & Delaware's Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady

Directors Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady

Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady made one of the most terrifying films I've ever seen - Jesus Camp. Their even-handed, objective portrayal of their subjects is the hallmark of their filmmaking, and it's no wonder that objectivity continues with their latest documentary 12th & Delaware, which explores the microcosm in Florida where an abortion clinic and a pro-life pregnancy care center exist on opposite sides of the same street. I caught up with Heidi and Rachel in Park City (read my Sundance review) where they talked about their filmmaking process, the importance of objectivity, and what we can expect from them in the future.

 Posted January 31 in Interview, Sundance 10 | Comments

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