Sunday, October 26, 2014

What's Next On My List? Hellboy 1 & 2

I have been postponing this review for over two years now. Not on purpose, I actually keep putting it apart for Halloween and I keep forgetting during that time of the year. But not this year! Finally I had like two months to think about what I want to write about, seeing that I don't actually have time to write... But here we are, and for one of the Halloween specials we are going to talk about two movies that brought hell to Earth:

The government has a small secret division used to save problems that are - literally - out from this world. The leader of the team is Red, who is a demon who came through a portal back in the second world war and Nazi German wished to use him as a weapon. He was, however, saved by the allies and a professor who brings him up as his own son. In his team we also have Abe Sapien, an amphibian, and Liz Sherman, Red's love who struggles with her pyrokinetic abilities throughout the first movie.
Their team has to fight Rasputin, resurrected charlatan of the Romanov era, who summons Hellboy - Anung Un Rama - to open the portal for ultimate chaos to take over the world. The apocalypse is bound to happen as Liz's soul is sent over to the other world, and to get her back Red has to open the portal. An agent, John Myers, assigned to help Red reminds him that his father taught him to choose his own destiny. He destroys the door, he beats Rasputin and tells the guy on the other side, that he better send Liz back to him, because he'll cross over for her, and they won't like that.

This movie is one of my favorites. It is literally like reading the comic! And why? Because it gives you a small introduction and then shows you what's important instead of losing time on the small details. Not to mention that it doesn't try to adhere to the unknowing public, but be true to the story and hope that those who don't know it will grow to love it - and they do. It is about family, about love, mystery and both sides of the coin: reality and fantasy. You genuinely care about these characters, you want to be these characters, or at least be part of the team! And what is beautiful is that in general all comic book heroes have to learn about responsibility and what their powers will bring about if they are used for the wrong reason. Not to mention accepting that they are not 'normal' anymore. Hellboy, on the other hand knows very well the impact he has and for that he wishes nothing but to be normal.
This also comes in with his relationship with Liz, who always wished to be a regular girl. Their love story is very moving and compelling. What else can I say? I love these characters! The only comment I can make is that I never understood what was the point of the agent who was assigned to look over Red. He was a nice addition for us to understand how Red wished to be more normal, but he acted like he understood everyone's pain, and then he tried to hit on Liz... that was very uncool! I did not get that part of the movie at all! Because if the lesson was that she does love Red, then they should've made their connection stronger for us to fear for even a second that Liz will not choose Red in the end. But that's my only critique.

The movie begins with the professor telling young Hellboy a legend of a King who possessed a crown that was able to control an army of golden soldiers. Knowing the power that comes from the crown, the King had it divided into three pieces and scattered it in all the kingdoms - both real and monster kingdoms.
The King's son, Prince Nuada travels to our world to get one of the pieces at an auction down town with the help of little monsters. Red's team goes to the scene to investigate, and in the meanwhile come across Princess Nuala, who wishes to stop her brother from going insane with power. Our team travels to their world in order to stop Nuada, but almost lose Red in the process. The Angel Of Death reveals to Liz that far bigger danger awaits them if Red is resurrected, as he will not be able to reject his destiny again. Liz chooses him nonetheless and he is brought back. The two decide to quit this job together and be happy.

I actually saw the first one just a few months before this came out. This story really used the foundation it laid in the first one. This one focused on Red and Liz having a serious relationship and Abe looking for something similar. He has a bond with Princess Nuala, but they are from two really different worlds. I also love that Red becomes sick of hiding. He believes that if people knew he was not just a legend, then they will appreciate the fact that he keeps saving them. Unfortunately they live in a world that is still not able to open to creatures like him. This struggle takes him throughout the movie and in the end he realizes that he got everything he needs and fame is not part of it. Having been brought back he is ready to appreciate all that he has. And in case there is a sequel coming, we are reminded that Hellboy has a destiny and you can't help but wonder what is coming.
I will say that I liked this movie a lot, because while the first one took time to show us Red's love for Liz, this time we see the other side of that relationship and you can't help but feel for them. I actually liked this movie more than the first one because it gives us more of all the characters. Not to mention that the fist one tried to show us the characters through the eyes of a single agent and that went a bit nowhere... But never mind that. If you liked the characters in the first movie, you are bound to enjoy it here. I will say that Guillermo Del Toro went a bit too far with his monsters after Pan's Labyrinth, but I don't care because I hate comic movies where New York is destroyed. I love the fantastic element to it.

Watch them? Yes, because the first one actually takes place on the night of Halloween, then it takes the story to a winter wonderland - fine a cemetery - but it looks great. It gets me in the mood for Halloween and I just love how it is different from all the other comic movies. If you haven't seen them, do check them out, it seems that a third movie is in the making and it took them six years, so I don't think we will be disappointed!

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _

Hellboy "Red" - Ron Perlman
Liz Sherman - Selma Blair
Abe Sapien - Doug Jones
Tom Manning - Jeffrey Tambor
Professor Broom - John Hurt

Thursday, October 16, 2014

My Top 3 Favorite James Bond Movies

I thought very hard about whether or not I should write this short entry. This character was invented by Ian Fleming and was played by six actors. The MI6 agent is quite famous all around the world.
But I had a difficulty with this entry for another reason... Let's face it, we all watch Bond movies for one singular reason: The feature song at the beginning. You know it's true! Don't lie! You simply think that you don't know the words to 'Goldeneye' by Tina Turner, but if I were to put it up you would be singing at the top of your lungs! You would at first say 'mirror' instead of 'water', but afterwards you would have no problem! And that's the other thing, isn't it? We love those songs! And each year they get some big artist for the new movie and there comes a point where you don't really care about how James Bond is going to save the world - again - you just want to hear that damn cool theme song! (Both the original Bond theme song - click here to listen! - and the featured pop song!)
That being said, you might also wonder why I'm going to talk about only 3, when there have been a total of 23 movies. The reason of very simple, although I have seen some of the old ones - and sooner or later I will have seen all - I have a fond memory of those that I grew up on. And there are only three that I am willing to watch, and re-watch, over and over again.

For a list of all 007 movies click here!

3) Casino Royale (2006)

Why this one? Because I thought it was going to suck. I was offended that they moved to a blondie instead of Brosnan and I was convinced this movie would be awful. Yet I loved it. Every time I see it, it captures me completely. I will admit that he is nothing like the Bond that I'm used to, and because of that the other two movies didn't really get to me as much as this did. But the set up was marvelous in my opinion, with great on screen chemistry and an elaborate plot. The action scenes were to die for and the whole movie simple put: works. This angry, driven but very smart Bond fits Daniel Craig perfectly. I think I'm gonna watch it again tonight... (Click on the title for the feature song 'You Know My Name' by Chris Cornell!)

2) The World Is Not Enough (1999)

Strangely enough this is not so high on anyone else's list, but for me? Pierce Brosnan? Now this is my James Bond! I came across this many years later while searching for Sophie Marceau movies. There are still several scenes from it that I re-watch to inspire me when I write. I liked the casting, the story, the twist - back then I didn't have the ability to guess the whole plot after the first frame. I think the actors had natural chemistry, the action scenes were off the hook and Marceau as the villain? 10/10. I am being completely honest when I tell you that I have no idea why people don't like this movie. Have the not seen Die Another Day???!!! (Click on the title for the feature song 'The World Is Not Enough' by Garbage!)

1) Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

It was this movie that introduced me to this world in the first place. The mysterious agent who, really, is not mysterious at all as he loves to give his name to everyone. The dark gentleman who can woo any woman. Seriously, how does he do that? Is it the suit? It's the suit, isn't it? And the vodka martini... Say all you want, I don't care about who is paying for these movies now, there is no Bond without a fancy cocktail that clearly no man would drink today. 
Tell me, have you ever noticed that there is no actual evil lady in this movie? The 90's Bond movies all have two women on the cover, out of which one conveniently turns out to be evil (I would here like to take the opportunity to tell Die Another Day to go f*** itself for making Rosamund Pike - the only likable character in that movie - the evil one! I hate you movie, I wish you didn't exist!!!).
Either way, here we have a woman who very much loves Bond, actually, I think Teri Hatcher's character was the only one who truly loved James (I never called him that before. I hope he won't mind...). She unfortunately married the wrong guy, who in the end killed her. But she never betrayed our hero. Have you ever noticed that? I hated her death actually, I'm pretty sure I cried when I saw this movie. 
I was also about seven years old, and I think it was this movie that made me understand how acting works. But I do remember being very shocked that Lois Lane was sleeping with James Bond. If you don't get that joke, you are way too young and I hate you.
Moving on, I loved this movie so much that it was the first film I ever bought on DVD! Unfortunately, it was mislabeled and I bought a copy that can only be viewed in Region 1 - which Europe is not... It took me quite some time to finally be able to re-watch it without those damn advertisements and with the original language! And it was just as awesome as I remembered and I cried, laughed, and at the end wanted to fight myself! This is the Bond I grew up on and this is the Bond that I love so dearly. 90's action movies are cheesy today, but they are so close to my heart that sometimes even I am surprised sometimes. Nonetheless, this is one of the best ones available out there! (Click on the title for the feature song 'Tomorrow Never Dies' by Sheryl Crow!)

Watch Bond movies? Sure, I don't really care :D this entry was more for me, then you really. Let's be honest, you are going to disagree and say something about how the originals are unbeatable or that Skyfall was awesome and I can tell you right now nobody cares. I sure don't. I like these. And the fact that we are not the same makes the world go round! Embrace that! Make your own list!
I like my Bond movies shaken, not stirred.

Until the next item on my list!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

What's The Next Movie On My List? HappyThankYouMorePlease

It is autumn, and what a glorious season it is! I didn't when I was younger, but I do love it now! The colors, the odors, the weather? It simply warms my heart. Literally like a warm-up before Christmas :D Because of that I like to re-watch movies that provoke the same sentiment in me. These movies, wouldn't you know, are usually stories that take place in New York. Among these I would like to list You've Got Mail, My Sassy Girl (click here to read my review!) and well, this one. It doesn't actually take place during the autumn season, nonetheless, the first two mentioned made me fall in love with New York city and this does have that same warmth feeling that I love. You hear so many horrible stories about the US... not to mention the Big Apple alone, but all these stories still give me hope, still make me dream - this movie alone makes me wish I could live in New York! Here's why:

Four very good friends face the real world in the most unexpected way. They are all grown ups, but don't quite realize it until something hits them. Sam comes across a lost little boy, Rasheen, on the subway the same day he meets the girl of his dreams, Mississippi. Sam decides to take in the boy, only to lose him when child protective services find out that he has been staying with him without permission.
At the same time he also loses Mississippi, who is looking for something more than a man with the dream of making it big someday. His friend, Annie struggles between an ex-lover and a nice man she would usually never date. She discovers that she is too old to fool around with someone who doesn't take her seriously. Their two friends, Charlie and Mary seem to have hit a rough patch in their relationship. Charlie wants to move to the other coast and Mary fears that he wants to actually move away from her and not just New York city. When she finds out she is pregnant, she can hardly tell me, worrying he might be mad, only to find that no other news could have made him happier as he loves her very much. Ultimately it doesn't matter where you live as long as you have the right people around you and that is the one lesson they all learn.

What can I say? I was moved. I once already talked about a movie that was both written and directed by Josh Radnor - entitled Liberal Arts (click here to read my review!) - which was a home run for me. I actually saw this first, of course, but I couldn't write about it for a while. It was hard for me to put into words my feelings. Usually I just write quick summaries, keep in mind, here I gave you my interpretation of the movie as well. And is that interpretation that makes me love it so much. Growing up doesn't actually come from aging. No, in my opinion at least, it comes when you are faced with the decisions you've made and have to learn to live with those. And the best way - or the easiest way - is to have people who matter to you the most around you. Taking responsibility and then action is a lot easier then one would think, but we are afraid of taking that first step.
The movie focuses on the many wonders of the city, with one character - Charlie - constantly criticizing it. He keeps seeing only the bad things because he wants to move. He's been to Los Angeles where the sun always shines and New York looks like a dump in comparison. This is great as none of the other characters seem to see it. Not to mention that while Sam is a struggling writer and Mississippi has come to the city to become a singer, you have that 'American Dream' element. It perfectly complements how one who lived his whole life in a place will learn to neglect the beauty of it. And in the one who never got there only sees it surrounded by a pink cloud. Having lived in two countries, two very different cultures, I can appreciate the irony in the story.

Watch it? Definitely. Josh Radnor has a real talent when it comes to directing and writing. It is original, at times funny, most times moving and the variety of characters will make you fall in love. You will see a reflection of you own mistakes, your own decisions, and a reminder of how great it is to be around your friends. Those friends who have become family.

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _

Annie - Malin Akerman
Mary - Zoe Kazan
Charlie - Pablo Schreiber
Mississippi - Kate Mara
Rasheen - Michael Algieri
Sam #2 - Tony Hale

Saturday, September 27, 2014

My Top 15 Favorite Music Videos

If you have followed my work so far, you might have noticed that I myself direct music videos. If you haven't, well, now you know! The reason for that is that music is a very big part of my life and sometimes I feel like the music video doesn't do justice to the song. I'd like to believe that some are the way they are because of executives and producers and not the artist. Sometimes unfortunately that is not the case. Either way, what I like to do is take my absolute favorite songs and write a script that I believe does justice to the song. I have done so 7 times so far, 5 have actually been made and only three are worth watching, the other two were more of a 'first try'.
A friend of mine asked me where I get the inspiration for these and I started to list a couple of music videos that really hit it out of the park for me. On that note I decided to make a list. I will not number this list because I just simply can't. I love all of these equally and I can watch them over and over every single time. You will identify two kinds on the list: The ones that add an extra depth to the lyrics and the ones that are simply unique from a cinematographic point of view. To some of them I'm gonna give a longer introduction, just so you know what to look for - in other words - how to see them with my own eyes.
Hope you will like some of them, perhaps you didn't know them, let me know in the comments! And prepare for a sh*tload of songs with 'love' in their title!

Maroon 5 - She Will Be Loved
Really, most of the Maroon 5 video clips get my attention, especially the ones that take their time to tell an actual story... That having been said, my favorite is the one that featured the beautiful Kelly Preston and tells an unfortunate love story, but one you will root for in the end! Not to mention that the acting destroys me... I start to shiver toward the end and worry for the outcome every single time even though I have seen it hundreds of times! It is touching and it is a beautiful love song!

Laura Pausini - I Need Love
An Italian artist for a change, with an English song... This really speaks for itself, and there are a couple of twists at the end that just melt my heart every time. I always like those music videos where the singer is sort of a narrator who is also somehow involved in the story. I can't really define it, check it out!

James Blunt - Goodbye My Lover
This one... yeah. I just cry every time. It's a good cry though! Still, tears on my pillow... It features Mischa Barton and when you watch it you'll realize that the story told reflects feelings in a way that would work even without the lyrics. That being said, it is already awesome and the lyrics manage to take it to a whole new level!

Savage Garden - Truly Madly Deeply
Here we come back to the singer as a narrator, but I mostly love this video because of Paris and the warm autumn colors. It feels me up with hope and desire every time I watch it. You might argue that I love it so much because it is nostalgic to me, I was 6 years old when this came out, yet I never grew tired of it. (But MTV got close once, as it aired it at least 18 times one Sunday afternoon...) It also gives you a very clear lesson as to why cellphones are so important!

The All-America Rejects - Move Along
It has a story. It is has depth. It is a moving feature and it has stop-motion elements. It is everything I would want in a video. It introduces the band, it has a back story that the lyrics inspired. This is one of my absolute favorites! It actually directly inspired some of my own work!

The Killers - Bones
First of all, Devon Aoki and Michael Steger. It takes the lyrics - quite literally - and makes fun of it. It is retro and it is funny. Honestly, it is effing funny! Just watch it :D

Kiesza - Hideaway
Dancing. That's one of my weaknesses. I would love to believe that I am a choreographer just because I have certain steps memorized in my head. I am not. But I do love music videos that feature it. I'm gonna be an asshole and tell you that the elevated twerk that Beyoncé does in some of her videos for me does not count as dancing... P!nk's "Try" was actually quite beautiful in my opinion, just to draw a comparison. Still, this one beats them for one specific reason: single shot. It reminds me of musicals, what can I say? It might not deal with the lyrics, but it is something to be amazed at on a cinematographic level!

Cee Lo Green - Cry Baby
This is simply silly :D To tell you the truth I actually love songs that deal with break up but have a happy melody. Why? Because sometimes we have a broken heart but don't want to feel blue anymore! We want to laugh about it! We can't forget about it, but that doesn't mean that we want to cry some more! This video actually points out what assholes guys can be and it makes you smile at the same time. Nicely done! And well, you can't go wrong with period pieces, love the clothes they wear!

Michael Jackson - Remember the time
The King of Pop, of course. You knew it was coming. Or at least thought that it has to! I could list more of his videos, but this song is my absolute favorite so I decided to choose this one. I will include the 10 minute version down here, because Jackson was famous for the short movies he made his music videos into, but click here for the shorter version! (I do not appreciate the snake shot toward the middle, but hey, Eddie Murphy!)

Katy Perry - Part of Me
The next up had to be Perry! If there is anyone today who - in my opinion - rivals Jackson's short movies then it is Katy Perry! Each clip has its own story, which adheres to the lyrics as well. It was hard for me to choose a favorite, but it has to be this one. It is the best rebound song of all freakin' time as well as the most patriotic thing I have seen in the past 10 years! I am not even kidding with you, this song makes me want to be American! I want to be a marine! Moreover, I want to be Katy Perry :D You go girl!

Coldplay - Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall
A bit of stop motion. Something I already had the pleasure of working with and can quite honestly say that mine sucks in comparison! But you probably guessed that :D It is also an interesting fact that I do not like Coldplay music videos. Sincerely, I cannot recall one - beside this - that ever caught my attention. I can't really pinpoint what my problem is, especially because I very much enjoy their music. Either way, this one is a home run!

Kylie Minogue - Timebomb
This video has simply got a feeling about it... I don't know how to explain it. It just fills you with energy and you just stare and go 'wow' for four minutes. (That's actually the title of another Minogue song that I love!) It was shot in London, so that is cool, and for me it perfectly portrays the feeling of a fast paced life. A kind of life that might sometimes spiral out of control - but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy it. And, as she sings, "I wanna, wanna dance like it was the last dance of my life." I love this video.

Ligabue - Tu Sei Lei
Another Italian. Forgive me, I had to include this as this video is my life. I mean, it was shot in Rome - the Italian capital -, and as you will see it tells the story of two artists who come up with a project. The title of the song translates to "You are Her", and you can guess that the lyrics are about that special girl who was meant for him (whoever he is). The video itself plays with the words, as the two artists are actually still looking for 'Her', while in the lyrics it is clear that we already know who it is (at least morally!).
So, this video brought to life all the feelings I had while living in Rome. The colors? The expressions? The laughs? God, I can hear the people laugh while I watch this video. The fountain's water splashing in the background as the pigeon's fly high. The singer, Luciano Ligabue, sings on a boat that crosses the Tevere, right where my house was. It is mesmerizing for me to watch this video. I love this man, I love his songs, I love the videos - but this in particular I feel was made for me!

La Roux - Kiss and Not Tell
I love this woman. I really do. And when I saw this video? Wow! First of all, this is not what I had in mind when I heard the song! Not even a little bit. And you know, when you imagine something beforehand there is always a bit of disappointment that follows, seeing that it is different (that is why book readers hate adaptations... and also why I direct my own versions). But not this video :D This one is a roller coaster of awesomeness. She looks awesome in it, I love the idea, the retro colors, the interpretation of the lyrics - this was probably the intended purpose, but I gave it a different one. It is funny and, well, sexy at the same time. I don't know how she did that, but she did. And it's awesome!

Maroon 5 - Misery
Oh well, what can I say? Yes, they are ultimately one of my favorite bands. I couldn't actually choose between the two and this also perfectly reflects every single feeling that the lyrics provoke in me. Yes, I feel like I cheated, but I had to include it someway! Watch it, really, just watch it, no words necessary for this one!

Hope you enjoyed this list, both videos and songs. More lists coming soon, stay tuned until then!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Homework: American Literature 4 (part2)

I already posted an essay I had to write for this class, but I also had to do a presentation. I hated this presentation with every fiber of my being... first of all, that wasn't a very good day, or quite frankly, month for me and I just wanted to be done with it. Second, because of my attitude toward it I feel that I fell short of my actual capabilities and I hated that because I really care for the teacher who taught this course. My partner and I tried our best to make it appear well put together, but I feel we failed in that task...

That being said, we did prepare a handout with trivia quiz questions and divided our presentation into four parts: (1) The definition of 20th century drama; (2) Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?; (3) A Streetcar Named Desire and (4) a concise conclusion and summary. And to start off the presentation I made a video out of the Oscar nominated movie versions of these two plays that you can see here:

I wanted to create a separate post for this video because I think you get an idea of both plays without having heard our presentation. Plus, perhaps it will help some of you out there who are forced to watch either one of these movies. Undoubtedly the movies are great - if you like the story they tell, well, that depends on you!

Another reason why I wanted to tell you about it is that I really liked preparing for the presentation. I watched my movie with my sister and it was one of the best afternoons we had in years! We love to discuss movies, and of course we kept in mind the fact that this was an adaptation of a theater play, which, quite frankly, elevated the whole story and the actors' performance to a whole new level! And my partner in crime loves this Tennessee Williams play and you should see her face when she talks about it! Just for that the whole hassle was worth it!

And the last reason why I wanted a separate post for this is to remind myself that I can do more! In our American Literature 2 lecture we actually had a list of dramas, and it also included Long Day's Journey Into Night and Death Of A Salesman. I originally wanted to include all four adaptations into the video, but then gave up because I lacked the proper codec in my edit studio and well, the former mentioned play is only available on YouTube... and although it has a great cast (Jack Lemmon, Peter Gallagher, Kevin Spacey) it is also impossible to download due to its size... Also it is not HD. With my OCD I would've gone insane to cut together a movie from the 80's, two black and white movies that have been released on Blu-Ray and another YouTube footage of a live play...

So, laziness and OCD don't mix. But this post is here to remind me to reach the finish line the next time I set out to do something! Enjoy the video!