No Twihard

June 29, 2010

Okay, I guess the secret is out:  I’m not a Twihard.

http://www2.journalnow.com/content/2010/jun/29/mooning-away-twilight-saga-enchants-more-than-twee/

You know, I’m not even sure I’m going to see the new movie.  Sure, it’s a cultural phenomenon, but…

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TOY STORY 3

June 26, 2010

The reviews are great, and I won’t disagree with them.  I’ve enjoyed and appreciated all of the Toy Story movies.  This one is as good as its predecessors (as well as I can remember!), and it brought tears to my eyes when Andy finally went off to college.  Could that emotional response to the film be attributed to the fact that my own son is about to substitute our family residence for a residence hall in August?


GASLAND and FOR NEDA

June 26, 2010

Two more films have premiered in HBO’s Documentary Summer Series.  The series offers a lot of diversity in topic and – so far – some in style.

Of these two, Gasland is the one that will probably have the most widespread appeal and is a bit more effective in terms of structure.

This film feels like a cross between a “typical” environmental film and a personal documentary.  Filmmaker Josh Fox gets an offer from a company to sell them the rights to drill for natural gas on his 100 acres in Pennsylvania.  This makes him curious about how others have fared in areas where drilling has been going on for some time.

A little sluggish at the beginning but better and better as Fox moves beyond his own back yard, Gasland is scary.  To tackle such a big topic — the dangers of extracting natural gas and the special exemptions to Clean Air and Clean Water Acts that Cheney got for industry types (yes, Halliburton is a player) — the film is actually fairly small in scope, which may be why feels pretty engaging to me.   I became more and more interested as the narrative unfolded.

The same is true in terms of pacing in For Neda.  The story centers on Neda Agha-Soltan, whose death was captured on video and became a symbol of the protests in Iran after the last election.  The first part of the film tries to evoke the dynamic young woman, but this section is only partially successful and feels a bit contrived and repetitive.  The more engrossing segments of the film come later and address the way technology and social networking played a role in the political struggle.


BOSTON MED

June 25, 2010

Caught the first episode of the ABC series Boston Med (Thursdays 10 p.m.) and mainly it reminded me how much I miss ER.


Nice to be Quoted

June 23, 2010

I haven’t seen Knight and Day, but it’s nice to be quoted:

http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/news/2010-06-23-greatfilms23_CV_N.htm


THE NEISTAT BROTHERS

June 19, 2010

Okay.  I’ve given this series a fair shake.  I’ve seen three of the six episodes running this summer on HBO.  My opinion hasn’t changed since the first episode, but in hopes of being able to support an innovative, indie style TV show, I didn’t comment on the show for awhile.

I was hoping for something more organic and authentic.  The episodes feature a series of short films made by two brothers (Casey and Van Neistat) about events in their daily lives capitalizing on a consciously low-tech style and employing a postmodern pastiche that feels forced to me.  I think that’s the bottom line – too contrived and ultimately superficial rather than insightful.  I wanted to like it…


SMASH HIS CAMERA

June 19, 2010

HBO’s summer documentary series features some exciting films including one that is both particularly entertaining and illuminating in terms of celebrity culture.  Smash His Camera surveys the career of the “paparazzi superstar” Ron Galella with particular attention to the legal actions related to his pursuit of photos of Jackie Kennedy Onassis.  The photos, of course, are incredible in terms how they engage the viewer in this narrative and convey a sense of Galella’s work over time but equally effective are archival interviews with Galella and his subjects and news coverage of his work and his legal entanglements.

Lots of documentation in different forms here, and director Leon Gast weaves the archival elements beautifully with sequences following Galella as he continues his work, shows off the basement archive with literally millions of photographs taken over his career, and reveals bits of his domestic life with his wife in their New Jersey home.  As several interviewees note, Galella maintains his sense of humor and a lack of cynicism that separates him from many other celebrity photographers who are motivated solely by the buck.