Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

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I need to start forming a habit of updating this blog at least every other day.  :)

The past few days, I’ve been occupied editing footage my brother and I took for our next project, as well as watching the Olympics.  I’m also kicking around some ideas for a series of webcams…

Anyway.  I wanted to jot something quick down.  Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has been pushed back until next summer.  As a fan of the films, and the books, I thought I’d put up a link to the trailer from Apple’s Quicktime site.  Looks like it will be great when it comes around.

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A Brief Summary of the Best Movies List

Alright, after last night’s post, panning The  Brown Bunny, I thought I better post something a bit more positive so that I don’t just come across as arrogant.

This is a brief summary of what I consider my favorite movies.  I’ll try and break them up in what I’ll call “Arthouse” and “Mainstream”.

Arthouse

  • Mulholland Drive by David Lynch – I’m not one for chosing favorites in any category (places, food, music), but I will say Mulholland Drive is my favorite movie.  It’s haunting, lyric, and beautiful.  It’s a mystery that digs into my imagination for weeks after the experience in the theatre.
  • Days of Being Wild, In the Mood for Love and 2046 by Wong Kar-Wai – hands down, these are the most visually beautiful, dreamlike pieces I’ve seen.  Kar-Wai’s style just carries the audience like the movements of water.
  • Old Boy and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance by Park Chan-Wook – you have to see to understand
  • Branded to Kill  by Seijun Suzuki – if you listen to interviews with Suzuki, he was only out to entertain and make money; if you watch his work, it’s just art
  • Brazil by Terry Gilliam – take it or leave it, Terry Gilliam’s vision is very unique – also see Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
  • Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn by Sam Raimi – you have to see this one, as well as it’s predecessor films and its sequel.  In the Woods, Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, and Army of Darkness chronicle the evolution of Sam Raimi’s career into the man who directed Spider-ManEvil Dead 2 is hilarious (at least, I think so… and my brother agrees)
  • Dark City by Alex Proyas – On the DVD, Roger Ebert gives the best commentary ever discussing Dark City’s position in film noir history.  After you watch Dark City, check out Proyas’ short films “Groping” and “Strange Residues”
  • Eyes Wide Shut by Stanley Kubrick – This film scared me when I first saw it at 18.  I seriously felt if my girlfriend said something akin to “I fantasized about someone else”, that would be enough to drive me into a downward spiral of obsessive thinking.
  • Dr Strangelove : Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Atomic Bomb by Stanley Kubrick – probably the darkest “dark comedy” out there.  (btw, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, 2001: A Space Odeyssey, and Full Metal Jacket are also well worth a watch)
  • Blade Runner by Ridley Scott – Noir is definitely my favorite style and Blade Runner is the modern embodiment with a unique twist.  The neon lighting is incredible.
  • Ghost in the Shell

Mainstream

  • Chinatown by Roman Polanski – Robert Towne’s script is one of the best.  The music, photography, scenery just makes me wish I could step back into that lost LA.
  • Platoon by Oliver Stone – a character you latch on to, an absolutely believable fall from grace and spiritual redemption
  • Back to the Future by Robert Zemekis – I imagine you agree
  • Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark – the best of the Indiana Jones films (though I haven’t seen the fourth, yet)
  • Apocalypse Now by Francis Ford Coppola – a journey into the hell of a war, the hell of duty, and the hell of an insane mind
  • Meet the Robinsons and The Incredibles – story, story, story
  • The Lord of the Rings by Peter Jackson – I can’t tell you how many times I watched The Fellowship of the Ring projected on my dorm room wall while I worked on my senior project in undergrad.
  • Harry Potter and the (fill in the blank) – I only finished the Harry Potter books a month or so ago.  Up until then, I’ve very much enjoyed the movies, obviously, they pale to the novels, however, they certainly can stand on their own as great entertainment.
  • Fight Club, Pulp Fiction, The Jerk

Other Great Films

    The Darjeeling Limited, The Red Violin, Awakenings, Taxi Driver, Last Tango in Paris, Dead Poet Society, The Mummy (the first one only), The Shawshank Redemption, Arsenic and Old Lace, North by Northwest, The Maltese Falcon, Psycho , Le Samourai, Amelie, L’ Accompagnatrice, 

Review : The Dark Knight

Saturday evening, some friends and I saw The Dark Knight.  I had been excited to see what Ledger would do with the ultimate villain.  I’ve been a comic book fan since I was 12, and the Joker is just one of those truly infectious criminals.  Of course, there was the syndicated Cesar Romero interpretation, as well as Jack Nicholson and even the cartoon on FOX, but what would Ledger do?  Would it be like the graphic novels?  Less the smile and more the madness? – a man so twisted  there is no reason behind the sociopath, he just is a sociopath.

With absolute certainty, I saw the Joker last night.  The scars of his grin caused him to lick his lips as if incessantly tasting exhilaration.  The vision is revolting, the experience: captivating.  My brother and I talked into the morning about  several things including an actor becoming a villian.  It was Adam who brought up the idea of guilt at experiencing something so incredible that costs a man so much.  I’m not out to imply becoming the Joker killed Heath Ledger.  I do think it’d be naive to imply it didn’t hurt him.  I am a believer the best actors become their character.  If I am watching Ledger become evil, am I enjoying his pain?  

But then, that opens a whole other discussion about what motivates a great actor.  What highs does s/he attain when an actor of moral fiber becomes a sociopath of anarchistic aspirations?  My feeling is there is a similar “thrill” underlining the actor and the motivation of the character.  It all boils down to the thrill, the experience.  It’s my motivation in the audience, enjoying this second hand thrill, from the safety of stadium seats.

I won’t put The Dark Night among my favorite films, yet.  I have to watch it again.  I think Ledger was the jewel.  Very early in the movie, I didn’t feel the craft of the film met the performance of the man.  There were a few odd cuts where someone’s head would be looking down, then suddenly up and it just felt like something obvious had been overlooked.  Stuff like that wakes me up from the dream.  Though, those interruptions were fairly few and only in the first half hour.  I can let them go.

Outside those moments, the film was mesmerizing.  One of my top criteria is an unbroken experience.  My experience was broken over the last hour, but it wasn’t the film’s fault.  I kept having to reposition myself in the low-backed chair.  Therefore, I’ll need to watch this one again in the comfort of my home before really evaluating where it sits in my list of films.  Regardless, if you get a chance, see it.   Right now, I’d give it a 4 of 5.  Thunderous, dark, exhilarating.

 

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