Category Films

Watch ‘Paperman’, Disney’s Beautiful Animated Short Film

Watch 'Paperman', Disney's Beautiful Animated Short Film

Watch 'Paperman', Disney's Beautiful Animated Short Film

Earlier today Disney released the beautiful short film Paperman onto YouTube for us all to enjoy. It was directed by John Kars who up until recently was an animator, though it’s pretty remarkable that this is his first directing effort. The story is about a man who serendipitously runs into a woman, they share a short interaction around a piece of paper… and the they she gets on a train and leaves. This adorable story of finding love is told with a new in-house technology called Meander which combines the best of 3D modeling and traditional animation.

I sadly missed Wreck-It Ralph so I wasn’t able to see Paperman originally, it played before the film. I think this such a beautiful effort, I’d love to see an entire film made in this way. It truly brings that magic back to the screen. I should probably also note that I work for Disney, but I’m posting this only because I love it so much.

The Art of Cinema: Polish Movie Posters

Polish movie posters: Rosemary's Baby, Amelie, Twin Peaks

Polish movie posters: Godzilla and The Knack and How to Get It

Polish movie posters: Pulp Fiction and Alphaville

Polish movie posters: Gremlins and Young Frankenstein

I have long wondered why most movie posters are boring. There are legions of talented artists producing their own versions that are often much better than what is ultimately chosen. If there’s one country that has embraced the art of the cinema poster wholeheartedly, though, it’s Poland. Known for their use of abstract imagery, pop cartoons, and just all-around trippy interpretations, the artistry is mind blowing. Spare and literal, the images tend to reflect the subject matter in an uncanny way. Who wouldn’t want to see a movie about a bob-haired girl named Amelie with flowers exploding out of her eyes or Pulp Fiction in the style of Roy Lichtenstein? From a super creepy ’80s-style Rosemary’s Baby to a hilarious version of Gremlins, I’d be thrilled to see all of these movies (again) on the poster art alone. Have you ever seen gangster movies so ingeniously rendered?

Polish movie posters of The Godfather and Serpico

The Elegant Touch of Food Affection – A Film Review of ‘A Matter of Taste: Serving Up Paul Liebrand’

A Matter of Taste: Serving Up Paul Liebrandt

There are two types of people in this world – those who can control themselves around food and those who cannot. I happen to be one of the joyful gluttons who cannot. In an ideal world, my voracious eating habits would be seen as gourmand or sensualist. In reality, if there is one last morsel of bread left in the basket I will make it my steadfast mission to toast it, dip in chocolate sauce, melt 12 year-old cheddar into its spongy core, or encapsulate it in sweet strawberry jam. It will be eaten, and it can get ugly, but I’m prepared to defend my passions. After all, if nothing else, food is emotional.

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To Pabst, Cazals and Apathy – A Film Review of ‘The Comedy’

The Comedy Poster

Be forewarned, the descriptor title of Rick Alverson’s ‘The Comedy’ is largely a misnomer. The film may boast a comedian as its front man and there is a chance that if you like black comedy (and I mean the blackest, soot covered, darkest kind) some type of uncontrollable laughter may ensue. Released in 2012 on the indie label Jagjaguwar, the point of ‘The Comedy’ isn’t to make you laugh. The point is to make you feel uncomfortable, to question motivation and to allow some room for the uninhibited to breathe. Alverson’s success in this regard, whether you like it or not, lies in the hands of comedian Tim Heidecker, the face of ‘The Comedy’ who incites anger or awe from his performance.

Known mainly for his off-beat show ‘Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job’, Heidecker’s comedy is eccentric and off-beat, yet compellingly addictive with the intention of making you squirm. Here, in his dramatic role as Swanson, an aimless overgrown Williamsburg hipster, Heidecker lives to provoke and push behavioural limits, expectations and social norms.

Playing what is essentially a wealthy hobo who lives off the family buck, Swanson is accountable to no one, and lives his life in direction-less escape with friends (James Murphy from LCD Soundsystem and Eric  Warehein from the Tim and Eric show). As he patiently waits for his father to die, leaving him a hefty inheritance, Swanson, cares about nothing in the process. He embodies the final gestures of someone who has reached the ultimate limit of apathy, the cultural phenomenon that is sweeping the twenty/thirty something generation.  A jerk, in the lightest of terms, his only appeal and intrigue can be found when Alverson beautifully captures his rare his moments of introspection pointing to a deep sadness, but one that will not be examined here.

The sarcastic wit of the loosely improvised dialogue is truly brilliant, and Alverson nails the ethereal and easy lifestyle of what hipster dreams are made of; but any film that guarantees to hurt this many feelings should be watched with a fair bit of caution, perhaps under a blanket or at least while bearing the thickest of skins.

‘The Comedy’ is available to rent on itunes.

There and Back Again – A Review of ‘The Hobbit’

The Hobbit

After almost too many years of waiting, the audience finally gets what it wants. The nerd/geek fantasy first came to life to the tune of billions of dollars of revenue and endless DVD sets, each claiming to be more essential, more complete, more fulfilling than the last. 9 years after snagging 11 Oscars at the 74th Academy Awards for its grand finale, The Lord of the Rings receives the beginning of the prequel that started it all: The Hobbit, elongated and trifurcated for our viewing pleasure.

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Zack Snyder’s ‘Man of Steel’ Trailer

Zack Snyder's 'Man of Steel' Poster

When I think of comic book movies I tend to split it in two: Marvel and DC. Marvel Comics, who was recently purchased by Disney, has had soem really huge successes in recent years with films like Iron Man and The Avengers amongst many, which truly brought comics to the mainstream. On the DC side though Christopher Nolan’s Batman series has really been the only shining star to emerge from the bunch (let’s never speak about Green Lantern ever again). So from my nerdy perspective it’ll be interesting to see how the upcoming Man of Steel fares.

Directed by Zack Snyder, Man of Steel will retell the story of Superman yet again. I’m guessing DC wasn’t happy with Bryan Singer’s 2006 attempt to revitalize the character in film. Based on what I’m seing in the trailer I’m not really sure what the point of this movie is, but I’ve always thought Superman was a tough character to nail. How do you feel anything for a man/alien with only one real weakness? Watching a movie about a perfect person who’s “misunderstood” doesn’t sound so hot. Visually the trailer is impressive, like Terrence Malick took hold of the camera and brought his touch to the world of comic books. The story is being helmed by David Goyer, writer of the Nolan’s Batman trilogy, and Nolan is attached as a producer, so there’s a lot of great potential here.

I just feel like I’ve seen this trailer before. I’ve seen this film before. How will these filmmakers really make something that excites me and tickles my funny bone like The Avengers or engage me in some masterful cinema like Batman did? I guess we’ll find out on June 14.

Saul Bass Poster Sketches for Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’

Saul Bass Poster Sketches for Stanley Kubrick's 'The Shining'

Saul Bass Poster Sketches for Stanley Kubrick's 'The Shining'

Saul Bass Poster Sketches for Stanley Kubrick's 'The Shining'

Saul Bass Poster Sketches for Stanley Kubrick's 'The Shining'

A few weeks back I went visited the Stanley Kubrick exhibit at LACMA here in Los Angeles. The show has been travelling the world so I was extremely excited to finally see it. Wandering around the exhibit is filled with so many amazing objects from the history of Kubrick’s films – things like Jack Nicholson’s type writer and the space suit from 2001.

One of the coolest parts, especially for a designer like myself, was these sketches by Saul Bass for the film poster of The Shining. Previously I had no idea that Saul Bass had created the original poster (which you can see at the top) so this was a really cool surprise. I’ve read online that Kubrick made Bass go through at least 300 versions of the poster until finally ending on the extremely alien looking version we now know.

The other gem was getting to see Saul Bass’ signature, which absolutely made me laugh. It’s the body of a bass, with Bass’ face. Too genius. You can see more of the pieces from the exhibit by clicking the images below.

So Close, Yet So Very Inexplicably Far – A Film Review of ‘The Bothersome Man’

The Bothersome Man

Maybe it’s the imminent decent of cold weather on the east coast or the controversial holiday stir that is rising out of a soon to be gender neutral Sweden, but Scandinavia seems to be everywhere I look lately, and I love it. Known mainly for films that explore the bleak side of existence with two very famous exports, Lars Von Trier and Ingmar Bergman figuring at the top of the region’s stark and melodramatic brand, the cinema of this region is not to be ignored.

One of the best films out of Norway in the last coupe of years is Jens Lien’s The Bothersome Man. It is a quiet subtle film, which focuses on the non-verbal and the implied in its exploration of a disturbed parallel reality. If you have ever worked a painful office job and longed for the day that you would be able to break free from the suspended ceiling tiles and monotonous rhythm of the photocopy machine, you will understand The Bothersome Man.

Set in dystopian Iceland, a world that looks unchanged from the land we know today, Andreas (Trond Fausa) is transported (literally) into his new mediocre middle class life. Provided an office job, an apartment, a wife and friends from an unknown source, the new life of Andreas denotes perfection on the surface, yet why does he still feel empty? Realizing that he is the emotional outsider of his cold surroundings, Andreas notices that human indulgences, from the taste of food to the feeling of love, are absent in his new world. Additionally, he begins to witness strange occurrences that all point towards the inability of his fellow coworkers to be able to feel (physically and emotionally).

As Andreas becomes aware that he is also moving towards apathy and desensitization, his only answer is to inflict as much pain as possible on himself in order to escape the dystopian world through suicide. But even that is met with failure. Until he discovers what he thinks is utopia, a gateway to another world on the other side of a concrete wall in the basement of a random apartment building. Andreas is determined to get to the other side.

There are a plethora of amazing Scandinavian films for lovers of early cinema and devotees to contemporary culture. The Bothersome Man is one, five other noteworthy films available on iTunes and Netflix are Wild Strawberries, The Celebration, Antichrist, Let the Right One In and Insomina (the 1997 version).

Unfit Father – Son Bonding – A Film Review of ‘Klown’

Klown film poster

We can thank Larry David and the writers of Curb Your Enthusiasm for setting the faux pas slash awkward moment bar so high it is near impossible to have a socially unacceptable incident these days without referring back to an episode in the series. Coming dangerously close to replicating Larry David’s comedic genius are two Danish comedians Frank Hvam and Caspar Christensen, who, with director Mikkel Nørgaard, create an atmosphere of awkwardom in Klown, the most successful Danish film of 2010.

Frank (Frank Hvam) discovers that his girlfriend Mia (Mia Lyhne) has a secret. Mia is pregnant, and although all of their friends already know, Mia has failed to share this important information with her partner for one sole reason. She is unsure if Frank is fit for fatherhood. Frank, of course disagrees, and upon hearing the wise words of encouragement from a taxi driver, Frank sets out to prove to Mia that he has some serious paternal skills and that he is selfless enough to care for a child. His case for defense is met with mild consideration as Frank blunders his way through an embarrassing (sexual) mistake with Mia’s mother, and his failure to protect Mia’s pre-teen nephew from night burglars. Frank’s logical solution to quell Mia’s uncertainty is to up ‘the paternal’ ante.

Most people under the duress of a potential break-up (because they are thought to be selfish and immature) might become more cautious in their decision making if it meant saving the relationship. Not Frank, however, who follows through with his bright idea to kidnap Mia’s nephew so that she can show her how caring he is. Frank’s hope for a wholesome ‘father-son’ bonding experience where he can test his Daddy-ness is dashed by previous plans for an adult’s only canoe trip with his buddy Caspar (Caspar Christensen). Caspar has the opposite expectation for their boy’s only trip.

What ensues is a hilarious set of confrontations from illicit under-age sexual rendez-vouz to a visit to a private gentlemen’s club, a very uncomfortable threesome, and drug related debaucheries that end with some serious confusion. The comedic graces of Hvam and Christensen are matched by the layer upon layer of bad luck they seem to attract to their already crumbling situation.

Most surprising about Klown is its connection to infamous Danish director Lars von Trier, a name not usually associated with comedy. Klown was produced by Zentropa, the production company founded by Von Trier in 1992 with the Dogme 95 movement in mind. Lars von Trier also wrote episode 6 in season 2 of Klovn, the original TV Series that Klown the movie is based on.

Klown is available to download through Drafthouse Films. It is also available on iTunes and Netflix.

Creative Revolution or Mediocre Pollution – A Film Review of Press, Pause, Play

Creative Revolution or Mediocre Pollution -  A Film Review of Press, Pause, Play

We live in a world where if you have an internet connection you can be a star. In 2011, The House of Radon, a creative agency from Stockholm, Sweden recognized this swelling cultural shift in our society and set out to document the phenomenon that no one else was talking about on a deeper level. Press, Pause, Play, which premièred as an Official Selection at SXSW, and as received accolades from The New York Times, The Guardian, Huffington Post and Wired, explores piracy, advancements in technology and digital mediums, and the notion of ‘accessible fame’ through the channels of art, film and music.

Concerned with the larger questions of technology’s problematic side, the most interesting angle Press, Pause Play takes, relates to standards and how these issues have affected our collective notion of “The Artist”. Prior to the digital revolution, standards in creativity tended to lean towards a black and white approach of ‘good art’ vs. ‘bad art’. Generally dictated by organizations, be it, Schools of Fine Art, record companies or Museums, art was delivered to the masses through a top down approach. What we are culturally experiencing today is a polar shift in the traditional methods that dictate fame and success. Art is growing from the ground up, but quantity is altering quality.

Is the democratic self-filtering approach emerging in art a successful one? Or will mediocrity be all you need to survive.  Named as one of the Top Ten Art Documentaries to watch on Netflix, Press, Pause, Play explores the significant and timely issues surrounding modes of creativity.

Press, Pause, Play is available on Netflix, itunes and is also available to download here.