June 30, 2005 - 5:30pm cst:
promised to send some movies to friends and family, but it turns
out I need to hunt down some dual-sided blank DVD's. I may have
to wait until the new checkcard arrives, so I can order some online.
upside is that Anne of Green Gables can be fit onto four discs,
at approximately 12 episodes each. So please be patient.
Anne is finally finished (I really should be recording some audio
commentaries right now), I think I may do a similar DVD set for
Miyazaki's Future Boy Conan. There don't appear to be any releases
with English subtitles.
Wrong with Hollywood?
- pt 1
June 23, 2005 - 11:25pm cst:
noticed there have been a number of news reports about the current
Hollywood slump. Simply, people aren't going to the movies, at least
not as much as the past few years.
if you're a teenage boy, all this talk of falling attendance may
seem baffling. American Pop Culture has worshipped at your feet
for most of your lives; certainly ever since Jaws and Star Wars
began the blockbuster mentality. Everything in America is geared
towards 14-year-old boys. Everything.
for the rest of us, American Pop isnt' a lot of fun. It stinks.
The music is lip-synched, the TV shows are putrid, and the movies
are terrible. Right now, Hollywood movies are just terrible.
course, it's always had its slumps, and the summer months are left
solely to the dumb blockbusters. But it seems to be getting worse
every year. We're getting to the point where the only time we see
movies aimed at adults - you know, actual movies
- is during the three weeks leading up to the Oscar nominations.
The rest of the year, it's back to shaking down Beavis and Butthead.
aren't we going to the movies? Because Hollywood isn't making any.
Two hours of endless explosions, loud effects, Barbie and Ken doll
posing, and product placements do not a movie make. Call them what
they are: car commercials, music videos, and videogame demos.
BAM! BOOM! BAM-BAM-BAM! Dude, I'm gonna kick yer ass! Yeah!!!
week, I went to the new Block E multiplex in downtown Minneapolis
to see Batman Begins. When I sit down in my seat and the lights
go down, I don't get a movie. What I get are commercials. Twenty
minutes of commercials.
I mention that movie tickets still cost $8.00 a pop? Did I ask for
this? Did anyone? I remember that commercials are the trade-off
we make for free broadcast television. And since I'm not paying
for that, does this mean movie tickets will be free? Sharply reduced?
I have to sit here, captive, while loud, stupid advertising blares
over the speakers. This is why I don't have a TV, kids.
that, we have another twenty minutes of previews, which used to
be a lot of fun. Used to be. Now, what we get are hyper-condensed,
hyper-loud versions of the complete movies. More explosions. More
cameras that shake around and cut faster than your mind can process.
More of those annoying voice-overs. "IN A WORLD WHERE..."
You know the kind.
assumes that you are a drooling idiot, so the plot to the entire
movie must be spelled out loud. Cut-cut-cut-cut. Boom-boom-boom-boom.
Cut to twenty-something making a bad joke. Boom-boom-boom. Coming
soon to a theatre near you.
I sat through half a dozen previews, and they were all for the same
stupid kind of movie, the mutant grandchildren of George Lucas and
Star Wars. It's insane how anyone can even comprehend any of this.
I suppose it works for children and young adults who honestly don't
know any better. Most of them have never seen a really great movie
in their lives, and almost never anything before they were born.
Certainly not anything in black-in-white, because, uh, you know,
black-and-white is, uh, old...and stuff. Huh-huh.
the time the movie starts, I already have a splitting headache.
Apparantly, I can't pay attention to the movie unless the speakers
are blaring at 80 decibles. How many of you spend the better part
of a movie with your fingers in your ears? It's getting to the point
where you need earplugs.
that's why I ended up hating Batman Begins. It's hard to compete
with throbbing ears and a splitting headache. It certainly doesn't
help when the action scenes are impossibly noisy and terribly shot.
I've never seen more incompetent camera work; it's nothing more
than recklessly shaking the camera in every direction, based again
on the notion that the audience cannot sit still for more than a
Bruce Wayne segments, which delve into the character and psychology
of Batman, are actually very good, and in this regard, the movie
is the best in the series. But then there's another LOUD action
scene with that twirling camera, and a climax that's nothing more
than EVEN MORE EXPLOSIONS!!
problem is that every Hollywood movie is like this. It seems there's
a generation of filmmakers who don't even know the basics of the
craft. I see this all the time, and there are so many problems than
could be easily solved, but I suppose as long as the money's rolling
in, then what's on the screen is working. At least, that's the Hollywood
they better start taking some classes and paying attention, because
the last time I checked, people aren't buying tickets like they
used to. And we can either blame it all on outside forces - DVD,
videogames, the internets, iPod - or we can grow up and start dealing
at the Michael
June 12, 2005 - 11:30am cst:
comedy classic from Triumph.
June 12, 2005 - 6:25pm cst:
just checked the site stats early today.
morning, everybody. Where did you all come from? Thanks for joining
the party. Do stick around, won't you?
Best Movie of
June 12, 2005 - 6:20pm cst:
clearly the best movie to be released in American theatres this
year, I'm also seriously tempted to declare this Miyazaki's finest
is a much more complex film, one that is less accessable to new
viewers than, say, Spirited Away, but it is also one that greatly
rewards your dedication. Is Howl's a (very) loose adaptation of
a Diane Jones' fantasy novel? Is it an angry, sobering anti-war
movie? Is this a personal filmmaker's poem to his marriage, and
specifically, his wife? Yes, yes, and yes.
you will need to call upon your knowledge of Miyazaki's work to
truly understand all his icons and metaphors. I told you all to
watch Porco Rosso and read Nausicaa. Now it's time for the finals.
the Pixar-led American dub is outstanding, as good as their superb
work for Spirited Away, if not better. I should be embarassed for
ever doubting them. This bodes well for Pete Docter, who is believed
to be directing a Pixar version of Howl's after the Disney divorce
Now. Take your children. Take your spouse. Take your parents.
The weekend numbers are in, courtesy of Box-Office
Mojo. Howl's grossed only $401,000, but this is because it only
premiered on 36 screens. If we look at the per-screen average, we
see that Howl's grossed $11,138 - second only to Mr. and Mrs. Smith
(thank you, Hollywood high-school gossip machine), and far above
pedestrian and lifeless "cartoon" Madagascar played on
3,929 screens, averaging $4,352 per screen. I just offer this as
an example. Which movie do you think deserves to be shown on 4,000
week, Disney will expand Howl's to over 700. If these theatres continue
to draw crowds, then we should expect more theatres to jump on board.
There's no reason why this movie couldn't gross $100 million in
the US, just as there's no reason complex, personal animation, films
that truly appeal to all ages, couldn't be made here. The medium's
true potential goes far beyond the safe confines of Disney fairy
tales and slapstick comedies.
high time we Americans learned from the masters - Miyazaki, Takahata
- of this abstract, expressionist breed of storytelling. But to
do that, you have to get people's butts into some seats. That's
your new homework assignment.
Moving Castle Opens
June 10, 2005 - 10:50am cst:
latest cinematic gem is being released today in select cities, with
a wider release (around 700 screens) next Friday. Needless to say,
I don't have to spell out for you the greatness of Studio Ghibli
movies. Do whatever you can to see this picture. Drag whatever family
members you have available: children, adults, household pets.
can't say how effectively Disney will market Howl's, but my hope
is that it is given the proper attention it deserves. So it's up
to us to buy movie tickets and show the suits that Ghibli can prove
popular at the multiplex. No doubt the early box office returns
will determine how wide the film's release will ultimately be.
if you're a lover of Miyazaki and Ghibli, then go. If not, then
here's an excellent chance to change that. Oh, and let's hope Disney
and Pixar's English-language dub doesn't screw things up too badly.
I'm still miffed about the roughshod treatment given on the Nausicaa
and Porco Rosso DVD's.
Me Get This
June 9, 2005 - 12:00am cst:
is it that my daily traffic always goes up every time I take a break?
I always get more attention when I'm not updating. What's the deal
though, I've been busy with the bank job and the Anne DVD, which
is shaping up nicely. Oh, and Minneapolis is one of the cities to
receive this Friday's premier of Howl's, so consider me lucky.
of Green Gables DVD
May 26, 2005 - 11:00pm cst:
just bought a DVD burner this month for my computer, something I've
wanted for a long time. Here's my first project with the new toy:
a custom-made DVD of Anne of
Green Gables. This is the Isao Takahata's 1979 Japanese TV production,
beloved in Japan but never seen in America.
count on me to turn everything into a major production. This Anne
of Green Gables (Akage no An) DVD set includes pictures and descriptions
of all 50 episodes; illustrations and background artwork; a look
at World Masterpiece Theatre, a staple of Japanese television for
25 years; a tribute to the late Yoshifumi Kondo, lead animator and
character designer; and a look at the careers of Isao Takahata and
Hayao Miyazaki, from their early days in the 1960's to today's Studio
menu screens will look fantastic (similar to the above picture),
and I'm hoping to include audio clips of the classical music from
the series. Let's keep our fingers crossed.
finally, the best feature of all: audio commentary.
This is what I'm most excited about. Just about every subject possible
will be covered, from Lucy Maud Montgomery's original Anne books,
to the Takahata production, to animation in general. I'm hoping
to bring other voices to the table as well, provided they have something
valuable to contribute.
between this and working 35 hours a week at the bank, you can hopefully
understand why I've been so busy.
final thing. Please understand that this is strictly a do-it-yourself
DVD project. The Anne videos were found from "fansubbing"
sites across the internet, and all my additions are purely a labor
of love. My wish is for these DVD's to be shared and passed around,
for everyone's enjoyment. Friends, family, teachers, animators,
artists - I'd like all of you to enjoy this definitive version of
Anne of Green Gables.
let you know when it's finished, hopefully within two weeks.