Wednesday, July 28, 2010

In a Moment the World Changed Forever

It’s time to look at a haunting portrayal of a post-apocalyptic world in John Hillcoat’s adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel, The Road.

The film is about a father and son heading south for the coast in a destroyed America. They are looking for good people and trying to avoid cannibal survivors. They seek supplies in the debris of houses and stores and also have a revolver with two shells. This gun is for either self-protection or the ultimate decision of committing suicide.

I do have to say this up front that the movie is a hard film to watch, because it deals with some very heavy subject matter such as murder, Cannibalism, suicide and other terrible things. So, going into this film you have to be prepared to experience some awful things.

First thing first let’s look at the characters, because in order for us to care about them the performances have to be believable and they are. We have Viggo Mortensen playing Man and Kodi Smith-McPhee playing Boy and they both give top notch performances. You believe everything about their characters and you are actually frightened for them.

Man and Boy’s relationship is done very well and really shows us the complexity of being a parent in such an unforgiving world.

Charlize Theron is also in the film and plays women, she also delivers a great performance; I just hated her character. I guess it was better for me not to like her because it just made Mortensen’s character stronger.

Robert Duvall makes a cameo as Old Man and has a wonderful scene with Mortensen, a scene I won’t get into detail about because it needs to be watched to truly appreciate it.

Besides great performances we have a great story. The story is heartbreaking, dark and unforgiving. It will take all of your endurance to make it through until the end and you will be rewarded for doing so.

The great thing about the story is that it’s a personal experience in a post-apocalyptic world, something that has been really left out from this type of movie in the past.

The direction of the film is also done well and we have John Hillcoat to thank for that. Hillcoat, thanks to the films strong performances, is able to carry this movie all the way to the end effectively.

Now that I’m done talking about the film’s positive points lets move into some negative territory.

One thing that I do believe will be viewed as a negative point in some people’s eyes is the films endless agony. I do have to say that it is something that can get tiresome after awhile, but for me made it more effective at the films end.

Everything else in the movie I thought was fine. Yeah there are some CGI shots that weren’t my favorite and the film can move slowly at times but for me it’s simply one of the best movies I’ve seen in awhile.


Friday, July 23, 2010

The Horror of Zoo Disc Golf

During the summer we see the release of a lot of big sports games, and then there are the smaller games ... the game that are more obscure and off the beaten path, games like WiiWare’s Zoo Disc Golf.
Disc Golf has been very popular on the Nintendo Wii. Games like Wii Sports Resort and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 have nearly perfected it. So, it was only a matter of time that we saw a game dedicated to the sport and that’s what we got in Zoo Disc Golf.

This game was released on the Nintendo Wii’s shop channel in its WiiWare section for $10, which is $10 too much.

The game is ugly and offers little to no fun. Also, why would they choose zoo animals as its characters? That makes no sense at all.

The whole experience will have you asking, “who put this game together and why are they charging us $10?”

If you do ever get the opportunity to play this game, chances are you will want to throw the controller because it’s so hard to play. I’m not talking about the overall difficulty of the game but rather the gameplay, which is simply a piece of garbage. If you can get past the broken gameplay you are still stuck playing the same course, which is even more punishment. Yet, you don’t have to suffer alone, because the game does offer a four player option, so you can torture your friends and family with this sorry excuse of a game.

Then the game has the nerve to keep your scores, but for what? There is no online leaderboards and every time you look at your score you are reminded of the time you lost playing a virtual zoo animal in a disc golf game.

My biggest question is who the heck thought this was a good idea? Yeah, let’s make a disc golf game and have the players play as a kangaroo, a kangaroo that will now haunt me.

The other question I have is why would you release it? Did somebody actually sit down and play this and think it was good?

I feel like they’re laughing at everyone who pays $10 for this game. They should be ashamed, why couldn’t they at least tried to make something passable, I’m not even asking for award-winning, I’m just asking for passable. If they made something passable then I wouldn’t mind so much, but to put something out that is so blatantly bad, well there is no excuse for that.

With all the bad out of the way let’s try to find some good in this game.

Well … it’s set in a zoo that makes their animals play disc golf … that’s kind of funny, but I don’t want to play a game based around that idea.

It’s hard to find anything good in this game. It’s weird, broken and repetitive, which is a shame. If Nintendo is going to have a service where you download exclusive games then it should really put as much attention into those game as it does its other games. Because, when you get a bad game like this it does reflect on Nintendo and Nintendo knows that it can do so much more with its WiiWare games.

Look at the Xbox 360; it just released a game called Limbo on Xbox Live arcade and it’s getting a lot of positive attention, because time was put into that game to make it different and enjoyable. That’s what we should see in WiiWare game. If you want to play a good disc golf game spend the money and pick up either Wii Sports Resort or Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10.

There was another sports game that was released on WiiWare recently by the name of Reel Fishing Challenge II. I haven’t played this one yet, but looking online, I can tell it’s bad. Yet, I just might get it to see how bad it can possibly be.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Someone is Missing

It’s time we dive into Martin Scorsese’s psychological thriller, Shutter Island, and see if it ranks up there with his other work. (NOTE: Spoilers follow)

The film is set in 1954 and U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) has taken on an assignment that leads him to Boston’s Shutter Island Ashecliffe Hospital. His job is to investigate the disappearance of a patient with his newly assigned partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo).

The hospital is filled with the criminally insane and twists and turns arise when he gets deeper into the secrets of the hospital. A hurricane then hits, leaving Daniels and Aule not only to solve the case but to survive what ever is going on behind the hospitals closed doors.

The first thing I want to talk about is the films performances. Everyone in the cast does their job effectively, but the one performance that blew me away was not even from a lead. The performance is that of Jackie Earle Haley who plays George Noyce an inmate in Ward C. He has a small scene with DiCaprio in the middle of the film and he steals it.

Now for the leads, DiCaprio does a nice job, the only problem I had with him was some of his line delivery in a very early scene; it felt like he was reading but after that he gets it together. Ruffalo does a great job and I thought his performance was good consistently though the whole film, same thing for Ben Kingsly character. The only thing I didn’t like about the Kingsly character was that pipe he has; sometimes I feel like he doesn’t know what to do with it. I also feel like that could have used Ruffalo’s character a lot more, in my opinion he was underused.

Now we get to Ted Levine who has a small role as the warden. Those of you who don’t know who Ted Levine is he played Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs and has that infamous voice. He has a small role but puts together a character that blew me away. There is a scene with him and DiCaprio where Levine discusses violence and it’s such a well acted and written scene that it has become my favorite of the film. Besides from that one scene, Levine is just in the background not doing much, which is a waste.

So the film has solid performances but what about story? Well the film’s story is very well constructed and has a steady narrative until the final act, where things start to be hurried along.

The film ends with a twist and the twist is believable, don’t get me wrong, but it’s definitely bloated. The movie doesn’t leave anything for the audience to discover on their own, it tells you everything, which I thought was too much for such a small time space. What I think Hollywood forgets is that audience’s have comprehension skills to the point we don’t need to be told every little thing.

The film’s story is based off of a novel by Dennis Lehane who also wrote Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone. To be honest I liked Shutter Island’s premise and story much more than the other two. I found that Shutter Island’s setting and characters were far more interesting and offered the audience something new and different.

Speaking of the setting, Scorsese does a terrific job in creating the island and also building up the feeling of uncertainty and impending doom. It’s a very nice looking film with every shot having quality. The scenes that really stood out to me were the dream sequences that Teddy Daniels has; they are creative, colorful and disturbing.

Summing everything up the film might feel emotionally distant to some, but Scorsese is able to put together a well constructed film and the cast give great performances that make this movie come alive. The third act does hurt it, but not to the point where it makes it a bad movie. It’s a deep film that has many elements, causing you to watch it twice to fully experience and understand everything. It may not be Martin Scorsese’s best work but it’s still very good.


Friday, July 16, 2010

When the Moon is Full the Legend Comes to Life

It’s time to revisit a horror movie legend in Joe Johnston’s remake of The Wolfman.

First thing I want to get out of the way is the fact that nothing will ever top the original, with that said there are positive points about the remake but also some gleaming flaws that some people might not be able to overlook.

The movie’s main character, Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro), is a stage actor who, as a child, was sent away to an insane asylum after his mother’s death. While in America he is visited by his brother’s fiancée, Gwen Conliffe (Emily Blunt), who informs him that his brother has gone missing.

Talbot then returns home to his father’s estate in the English countryside to only learn his brother’s body was found and he had been mauled to death. Talbot then sets out to find his brother’s killer. What he discovers is a true horror lurking in the countryside and his own destiny.

The story is not Oscar winning, but its fun, there I said it. Just go with it and don’t try to over analyze every little thing.

The greatest thing the movie has going for it is its look. The film has a very gothic look and it works well. I loved everything from the sets to the outdoor scenes, because they were all filmed on location in England. After watching Avatar and Alice in Wonderland it’s refreshing to actually see real sets and real environments and not just images that were created in a computer.

CGI is used in the film, but it’s only used to enhance certain areas of the movie but it never takes the lead. I couldn’t believe that CGI was actually being used as a tool, the main reason it was invented!

What really impressed me were the makeup effects. Rick Baker, you might know him for his effects in American Werewolf in London, really out did himself. I was really disappointed that he wasn’t able to do a full animatronics transformation scene. The film does go with CGI for the transformations, which weren’t my favorite but they were at least done well.

Now, for the characters, Del Toro does a great job. He is able to pull it off and I can’t see how they could’ve cast anyone else but him. Anthony Hopkins who plays Del Toro’s father is also good, but he just seemed like Anthony Hopkins most of the time. Emily Blunt does a good job playing the love interest and Hugo Weaving, well; he’s Hugo Weaving which isn’t a bad thing.

Yes, the movie’s flaws would be around some of the pacing, it might feel slow to some people. The story could’ve been better, but for what it is it seems just fine to me. The movie does go into the realm of camp and also looses some focus with some questionable editing.

Yet, even with those problems I had fun watching The Wolfman. I found it to be more entertaining then Alice in Wonderland and what I don’t understand is how critics can gush over Avatar's story, which is clearly a rip off from other films, but rip this one in half.

It’s not a perfect movie but its fun. Just don’t go into it thinking it’s going to be the greatest film ever and just enjoy for what it is – a monster movie.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cameras Ready to Roll

By James Drzewiecki
Staff Writer

BRISTOL — Local filmmaker Ryan Casey is about to shoot his feature length film and is asking for help. “As you may know, I will be making my first feature-length film, starting this week,” Casey said. “It is entitled ‘American Jubilee.’ It’s a comedy with existential elements — similar to ‘Little Miss Sunshine,’ ‘The Royal Tennenbaums,’ ‘Everyone Says I Love You,’ etc. — which I wrote and will direct.”

He plans to start shooting this Saturday in New Haven and will also shoot in Bristol.

“It’s very important that we continue to make films here in Connecticut. It benefits the local economy and nurtures local-area arts and culture,” Casey said.

Casey will be using this film for his independent study class at the University of Hartford, where he is finishing work on his master’s degree in communication.

“I’m 70 percent through the graduate program with a GPA of 3.90,” Casey said.

He also plans to enter the work in film festivals nationwide as he continues to move his career as a filmmaker forward.

Casey is asking for donations from the public to help him make his movie.

“All donations go toward feeding our hard-working cast and crew, purchasing props and buying exciting things like insurance,” Casey said.

People who wish to donate can do so through PayPal at his website, Once on that site click on the donate button at the bottom of the page.

For those of you who don’t want to give your credit card number online you can send a check directly to Ryan Casey. To find out where to send the check, e-mail him for more information.

Those who donate to the film will have their name appear in the thank-you section of the film’s credits.
“Any amount whatsoever helps,” Casey said. “Also, because I’m also using this film toward attaining my graduate degree, in effect, you are contributing to an educational endeavor. So, this might be a tax write-off, though, I would check with your accountant first.”
The film begins shooting after an eight-month pre-production process.
“We have a crew of about 20 local artists and craftspeople and a cast of 14,” Casey said. “Mayor Ward and his team, and also, Police Chief Divenere, and Bristol Chamber’s Mike Nicastro also have been helpful at facilitation of the filming in Bristol. Nicastro did everything he could to make sure the film was shot here.”
American Jubilee will be done shooting Sept. 1, and they are looking at a Feb. 1, 2011, release date.
Casey also wrote and directed “Crushing Pennies,” which was released in 2009. His first film was “The Icon of 2nd Street,” which starred Connecticut native Troy Farrand.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Top 10 'Lost' Moments


10. The Incident: Man In Black talks to Jacob: After seasons of mystery surrounding the islands mysterious leader, Jacob, we’re finally introduced to him and his arch-nemesis. I like the scene because it really setup Jacob’s and MIB’s relationship. In this short scene we learn what their motivations are, which begins an interesting conflict.

9. Through the Looking Glass: Jack's flash forward: During the first three seasons the stories of the lostaways before the island were told through a series of flashbacks. That all ended in the season finale of season three where we actually get a flash forward and learn that Jack, Kate and maybe others had made it off the island. This is one of the biggest jaw-dropping moments of the series.

8. Live Together, Die Alone: We're the "good guys": Ben Linus is simply one of the best characters on Lost, but before we knew him as Ben his name was Henry Gale. Throughout season 2 Henry was being held prisoner in the Dharma hatch named The Swan, that the lostaways had taken over. He was basically the Trojan horse for the others. At the end of season 2 we learn that he is in fact the leader and this scene he also claims to be the “good guys".

7. The End: Anti-Locke vs. Jack: The best showdown in the series was between Anti-Locke (the MIB in Locke’s body) and Jack. At this point of the episode, Desmond has uncorked the island (yes, the island has a cork that holds back evil) and it’s falling into the ocean. Yet, the before un-killable Anti-Locke has now become vulnerable since the island as been uncorked and Jack is looking to finish him off once and for all.

6. The Man Behind the Curtain: Ben wipes out Dharma: In this episode we see Ben, well become Ben. One of the most haunting scene’s in Lost history, it shows how Ben will stop at nothing to protect the island.

5. Deus Ex Machina: Locke struggles with faith: The first season had a lot of powerful scenes but the ones that I found the most rewarding where the ones that involved John Locke. In this scene we see that Locke has become victim of a con, a con that his own father orchestrated. It’s such a powerful scene because here is a man that has lost so much in his life and loosing his faith only to gain it back is beautiful.

4. Orientation: John and Jack argue about the button: Locke and Jack have always had confrontations, because John is a man of faith and Jack is a man of science. In this scene wee see Locke desperately wanting Jack to believe and to have him push a button to save the world in a hatch Locke discovered in the first season. John admits that it has never been easy to have faith and pushing the button is a leap of faith. The performances given in this scenes are very powerful and my favorite Jack and Locke scene.

3. Through the Looking Glass: Charlie's Death: Charlie’s death is probably the most talked about death scene in Lost. This scene is very sad, we loose one very likable and important character, but it’s also beautiful because he sacrifices himself to save the other lostaways.

2. Pilot: Jack wakes up in the jungle and the plane wreckage: The scene that started it all; the scene that hooked us and kept us all the way until the end.

1. Walkabout: John Locke Walks: The best scene in the entire series. We knew very little about Locke before this episode and when the scene came where we learn Locke was in a wheelchair before the island, my mind was blown. This is the scene that made me a die hard Lost fan.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

'Lost' Earns 12 Emmy Nominations (List Below)

Outstanding Comedy Series

"Curb Your Enthusiasm" (2000)

"Glee" (2009)

"Modern Family" (2009)

"Nurse Jackie" (2009)

"The Office" (2005)

"30 Rock" (2006)

Outstanding Drama Series

"Breaking Bad" (2008)

"Dexter" (2006)

"The Good Wife" (2009)

"Lost" (2004)

"Mad Men" (2007)

"True Blood" (2008)

Outstanding Made for Television Movie

Endgame (2009/I)

Georgia O'Keeffe (2009) (TV)

Moonshot (2009) (TV)

The Special Relationship (2010) (TV)

Temple Grandin (2010) (TV)

You Don't Know Jack (2010) (TV)

Outstanding Miniseries

"The Pacific" (2010)

"Return to Cranford" (2007)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Alec Baldwin for "30 Rock" (2006)

Steve Carell for "The Office" (2005)

Larry David for "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (2000)

Matthew Morrison for "Glee" (2009)

Jim Parsons for "The Big Bang Theory" (2007)

Tony Shalhoub for "Monk" (2002)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Kyle Chandler for "Friday Night Lights" (2006)

Bryan Cranston for "Breaking Bad" (2008)

Matthew Fox for "Lost" (2004)

Michael C. Hall for "Dexter" (2006)

Jon Hamm for "Mad Men" (2007)

Hugh Laurie for "House M.D." (2004)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie

Jeff Bridges for A Dog Year (2009)

Ian McKellen for "The Prisoner" (2009)

Al Pacino for You Don't Know Jack (2010) (TV)

Dennis Quaid for The Special Relationship (2010) (TV)

Michael Sheen for The Special Relationship (2010) (TV)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Toni Collette for "United States of Tara" (2009)

Edie Falco for "Nurse Jackie" (2009)

Tina Fey for "30 Rock" (2006)

Julia Louis-Dreyfus for "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (2006)

Lea Michele for "Glee" (2009)

Amy Poehler for "Parks and Recreation" (2009)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Connie Britton for "Friday Night Lights" (2006)

Glenn Close for "Damages" (2007)

Mariska Hargitay for "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (1999)

January Jones for "Mad Men" (2007)

Julianna Margulies for "The Good Wife" (2009)

Kyra Sedgwick for "The Closer" (2005)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie

Joan Allen for Georgia O'Keeffe (2009) (TV)

Claire Danes for Temple Grandin (2010) (TV)

Hope Davis for The Special Relationship (2010) (TV)

Judi Dench for "Return to Cranford" (2007)

Maggie Smith for Capturing Mary (2007) (TV)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Ty Burrell for "Modern Family" (2009)

Chris Colfer for "Glee" (2009)

Jon Cryer for "Two and a Half Men" (2003)

Jesse Tyler Ferguson for "Modern Family" (2009)

Neil Patrick Harris for "How I Met Your Mother" (2005)

Eric Stonestreet for "Modern Family" (2009)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Andre Braugher for "Men of a Certain Age" (2009)

Michael Emerson for "Lost" (2004)

Terry O'Quinn for "Lost" (2004)

Aaron Paul for "Breaking Bad" (2008)

Martin Short for "Damages" (2007)

John Slattery for "Mad Men" (2007)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie

Michael Gambon for "Emma" (2009)

John Goodman for You Don't Know Jack (2010) (TV)

Jonathan Pryce for "Return to Cranford" (2007)

Patrick Stewart for Hamlet (2009) (TV)

David Strathairn for Temple Grandin (2010) (TV)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Julie Bowen for "Modern Family" (2009)

Jane Krakowski for "30 Rock" (2006)

Jane Lynch for "Glee" (2009)

Holland Taylor for "Two and a Half Men" (2003)

Sofía Vergara for "Modern Family" (2009)

Kristen Wiig for "Saturday Night Live" (1975)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Christine Baranski for "The Good Wife" (2009)

Rose Byrne for "Damages" (2007)

Sharon Gless for "Burn Notice" (2007)

Christina Hendricks for "Mad Men" (2007)

Elisabeth Moss for "Mad Men" (2007)

Archie Panjabi for "The Good Wife" (2009)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie

Kathy Bates for "Alice" (2009)

Catherine O'Hara for Temple Grandin (2010) (TV)

Julia Ormond for Temple Grandin (2010) (TV)

Susan Sarandon for You Don't Know Jack (2010) (TV)

Brenda Vaccaro for You Don't Know Jack (2010) (TV)

Outstanding Variety, Music Or Comedy Series

"The Colbert Report" (2005)

"The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" (1996)

"Real Time with Bill Maher" (2003)

"Saturday Night Live" (1975)

"The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" (2009)

Outstanding Reality Competition Program

"The Amazing Race" (2001)

"American Idol" (2002)

"Dancing with the Stars" (2005/I)

"Project Runway" (2005)

"Top Chef" (2006)

Outstanding Host For A Reality Or Reality - Competition Program

Tom Bergeron for "Dancing with the Stars" (2005/I)

Phil Keoghan for "The Amazing Race" (2001)

Heidi Klum for "Project Runway" (2005)

Jeff Probst for "Survivor" (2000)

Ryan Seacrest for "American Idol" (2002)

Outstanding Reality Program

"Antiques Roadshow" (1997)

"Dirty Jobs" (2005)

"Food Revolution" (2010)

"Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List" (2005)

"MythBusters" (2003)

"Undercover Boss" (2010)