serai: A kiss between Casey Connor and Zeke Tyler (NoWay)
LOL. Key & Peele have managed to come up with a way to include Keanu Reeves in the film named after him. It's cute, too: during a drug-induced hallucination, the kitten comes to one of the guys and talks to him - in Keanu's voice, of course.

Okay, they got me. I'll see it. I might even pay money for it. Guess the guy can still get to me. (I just wish he'd find his way back from Kung Fu Action Land. I miss him.)

serai: A kiss between Casey Connor and Zeke Tyler (BoringFinancialCrap)
Have any of you seen The Big Short?

It's a great film, and really deserves to win the Oscar this year. An entertaining and engaging look at the roots of the 2008 economic meltdown, it manages to present the whole awful morass in a way that is comprehensive and in-depth, and at the same time light on its feet and actually funny. The cast is magnificent (the film is worth watching for Steve Carell alone), and the script is charming and adroit.

One of the best things about it is the way it explains the whole confusing, insane, tangled mess. Whenever the plot starts getting into areas where an average person would get completely lost in econo-tech jargon (and who wouldn't, given that even the damn people who precipitated this horror didn't understand half of what they were doing), the film jumps through the fourth wall and brings in someone completely unrelated to the story to explain things. But it's never an economist or pundit. It's someone like Gordon Ramsay in his kitchen, who looks at you and says, "Okay, I'm going to explain derivatives now. Imagine the economy is like a pizza..." He then goes on in detail, comparing the problem to something like slicing up a pizza**, and then "Now back to the story!" There are others in the film like that, well-known people taking the problems apart and explaining them in completely non-economic terms so that you can continue the story now knowing what the fuck they're talking about in this thing.

It's a stroke of genius. Not only does it make sure your feet are squarely on the ground through the whole movie - or at least as much as possible, since economists still have a hard time explaining just what went down - but it also sustains the intended comedic tone, since the actual events are just so fucking maddening and ultimately depressing if you think about it too much. But this device, along with the magnificently off-kilter performances, keep the film dancing nimbly along, charming you while it's informing you. (Christian Bale as the definitely on-the-spectrum economic analyst who dreams up the idea that tanked our WHOLE FUCKING WORLD starts thing off beautifully, and it only gets better from there.)

Seriously, see this film. I know the 2008 meltdown is not something one would expect to be made into an entertaining romp, but you'll be glad you did. Not only will you get to see great actors in a mind-bending puzzle of a film, but you'll finally get close to understanding just


You'll be glad you did. Trust me.

** I can't remember if it was actually a pizza he talked about, as I saw the film about a month ago, but that's the general idea.

serai: A kiss between Casey Connor and Zeke Tyler (CZLove)
Here is a great and incredibly well-made fake trailer for an imagined prequel to Back to the Future...

1.21 Gigawatts - How exactly did Doc Brown get hold of that plutonium?

It's quite surprisingly good. The maker cobbled together a load of clips and came up with this dark, exciting take on Doc Brown's willingness to go to the ends of the earth and back to bring his dream of time travel to life.


serai: A kiss between Casey Connor and Zeke Tyler (RascalOfBuckland)
Watching 2001 with my nephew yesterday was all kinds of awesome. He is a big Star Wars fan and loves space movies, so I brought over this Mother Of All Space Movies, telling him that of all such films made, this one is still the most realistic and scientifically accurate one ever made. (Amazing, isn't it? 1967, and it still hasn't been beat.)

So we started with a little pep talk. I told Diego that he mustn't expect anything like SW, that the movie would be slow and careful and full of details, and that he would have to think while watching it. To my satisfaction, none of this put him off. On the contrary, he was eager to begin! I also told Pumpkin, my 5-year-old niece, that she would probably get very bored very soon, and if she wanted to leave, it would be perfectly okay. (She stayed for a little, but it was funny how fast she took off.)

We began and he was very quickly captivated. After the first fanfare - Also Sprach Zarathustra, of course - I told Diego that he should listen as well as watch, because the music was also very important, and would tell him things itself. We did a lot of pausing to ask questions and explain things, as scenes like the conference on the moon were completely impenetrable to him. But I was both satisfied and impressed with how quickly and easily he understood things when I spelled them out for him, and how he grasped the underlying Big Issues in the movie.

He's a pretty damn smart kid. For instance, he piped up right away about the mistake that Frank and Dave make in letting HAL watch them talk about him in the pod. "He's reading their lips!" he said excitedly the moment I answered his question about whether HAL's "eye" could see into the pod. We laughed and rolled our eyes together over such an incredibly elementary fumble on the supposedly genius astronauts' parts. (It was interesting and frustrating to hear Keir Dullea say in the commentary that this idea had come about because Kubrick was stuffing the story with too much crap to justify HAL's paranoia, and Dullea suggested they give HAL something concrete to obsess over instead of just suspicions. Thus the conversation, and thus the error so juvenile that I've never met anyone who'd seen the film who didn't spot it instantly.)

Diego was especially fascinated with the idea of the "carousel set", the huge doughnut-shaped upended rotating set that simulated the artificial gravity portion of the ship. I had to explain it in detail, even making a quick sketch on a piece of paper so he could visualize what I meant. In fact, all the FX fascinated him. He's grown up with idea that all such things are done with computers, so whenever I screen an FX-heavy film from before the era of CGI, he's full of questions about how things were done.

Side note: The first time I blew his mind with such an explanation was when we watched the Keanu film Speed, and I explained to him that the credit sequence - a long, long descending shot of the inside of a bank of elevators - was really done with a 30-foot miniature lying on a massive table, with the cameras moving along the table, and then flipping the image so it seemed to be going vertically instead of horizontally. He was AMAZED at that - it was his first introduction to the concept that nothing on the screen is what you think it is. "You can never depend on the existence of anything that isn't inside that rectangular square, and what's in there probably isn't what you think, either," I said. Then I leaned over and whispered, "It's magic."

He also is interested in the language of film, how using this or that shot or bit of music or lighting adds to the storytelling. I pointed out to him how the long, long, long takes of the African veldt and the lives of the apemen get the viewer completely into their world, and how it sets you up to react and feel the reactions of the apemen to the appearance of the Monolith. All that slow, natural time makes it a complete shock to the system - by the time it appears, you understand just how completely WEIRD that thing really is. I pointed out that at the time this is happening, there is nothing on the planet that looks like that. Nothing artificial exists, so the Monolith breaks every rule of existence to these creatures. That blew his mind, too, heehee!

When we got the part where Dave is disconnecting HAL, we were deep into philosophical questions of what intelligence is, and whether HAL could really feel what was happening. It was intense. Right about that time, I offered to explain the whole thing ahead of time, but Diego immediately refused the offer. He was enjoying the difficulty of the film! (* Kermit YAY flail here *) When the light show portion started, I told him, "Okay, I'm not going to explain anything else. You just watch, and when it's over, we can talk about what you think happened." We did, and he loved all of it - the weird FX, and the hotel room, and the Starchild. We danced to the Blue Danube at the end, and then sat down and talked about the meaning of the ending. I had told him that the story had tandem versions, movie and book, and that if he wanted to know Arthur's details of the how and why of what happened, he should read the book. But if he wanted to know Kubrick's explanation, he was out of luck, because Stanley never explained anything to anybody. "If you don't get it, too bad," I said. "You have to figure it out yourself." Another thing he loved and that intrigued him - the idea that the audience had to write the ending!

So 2001 was like catnip for him. It's also another volley in the arsenal I'm using to make sure he goes into filmmaking. Ever since he started to make little noises about wanting to make movies, I've been encouraging him. I have him over for movies and bring them over to his house (next door). We've watched some of the LOTR special features, though they are pretty technical at times. And we talk about movies and moviemaking in general conversations whenever it comes up. The middle school he's going to has a filmmaking prep course, and I've talked to him about the LA Film School, a great place here in Hollywood that offers a 2-year intensive education in film. (One of the best things about it is that it's immersive and cuts across disciplines - you're not only learning by doing, you learn everything, from stem to stern, so you're fully prepared.) He's really into it. I just keep calmly feeding him, while continuing to tell him that he has no need to wait for school. With the gadgets we have now, he can just start making a movie whenever he wants, after all.

* sigh * It's so great watching young lives unfold.

serai: A kiss between Casey Connor and Zeke Tyler (SamWeeps)
So I finally broke down and watched Black Hawk Down last night. Jesus fuck, what a depressing movie. I almost shut it off at the halfway mark. Between the unrelenting grimness and my developing queasiness at the very idea of trying to recreate something like this in the first place, it was too much, but I managed to finish it.

Remember that old song? War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing! This is the part of humanity that makes me glad we're heading down the hole, frankly - the entire constellation of violence, bloodshed, war, all of it. It's fucking obscene, but it's also the reason we're human and not something else. We can't get rid of it, so good fucking riddance to us, I say.

Fucking hell. That is it, I swear - no more fucking war movies for me. End. Finis. Done.

oh my god

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015 06:38 pm
serai: A kiss between Casey Connor and Zeke Tyler (JoshShades)
I just watched the trailer for Sorkin and Fassbender's new film, Steve Jobs, and... well, maybe it's this new strain of weed I picked up this afternoon, but it just hit me that Josh's character in August, Tom Sterling, is a gloss on Steve Jobs. The parallels are numerous: pushy, narcisstic, ego-driven, insensitive, demanding, unreasonable, wounding. He talks but never listens, demands everything but won't give an inch, has a vision that's so out there it's almost incomprehensible to anyone else. He shows no love whatsoever to his family, and I'm sure if his brother weren't the linchpin of his company, he'd have cut off contact with them entirely. (The only really stark difference I detected was that there's no way that ditzoid receptionist would have lasted ten seconds around Jobs, let alone weeks or months.)

What made this AHA moment happen was the point in the trailer where Jobs is fired from Apple, and is told the board wants him out. I instantly flashed to Bowie so witheringly telling Josh much the same thing - that the company he founded would be better off without him. (Oh, OUCH.) Light bulb! "Oh hello, Tom," I thought, and then followed that train of thought and realized that I should have thought, "Oh hello, Steve," the first time I saw August. Not sure why I didn't see it until just now, for the Goddess knows I've never had even a gram of love for Steve Jobs. (Steve Wozniak, on the other hand, always seemed like a cool guy. You wouldn't catch Jobs dead throwing a $25M party open to anyone and everyone.**)

So that's another interesting layer of thought surrounding that character. An oddly fascinating guy. And yeah, a prick of truly Jobsian proportions. Whew.

Oh, and I'm so going to see this. It looks really good.

Trailer for Steve Jobs, starring Michael Fassbender and Seth Rogen

** That would be the US Festival, in September of '82. I remember being livid that I wouldn't be able to go.


Monday, October 12th, 2015 02:54 pm
serai: A kiss between Casey Connor and Zeke Tyler (ScreamRunning)
Just watched this film last night. WOW.

Let's just stipulate the obvious: SPOILERS AHEAD )
serai: A kiss between Casey Connor and Zeke Tyler (YourLaughter)
Am currently watching Elijah's fabulously ridiculous zombie apocalypse film, Cooties.

AHAHAHAAAA. This thing is every shade of fucked up. Elijah must have had a ball doing it. I really love the inside jokes about his films. The LOTR reference was right out there on the nose, but the Faculty references are a bit more subtle.

Me? No! I don't do brave things!

I fell out at that one. And the stalking through the halls sequence - I'm sure Zeke would've been very happy to have that golf-ball launcher. It's just too fucking funny.

Gotta love movies written by fanbois.

Ending Spoiler! )
serai: A kiss between Casey Connor and Zeke Tyler (OrionNebula)
Went to see The Martian yesterday. Man, that is quite a film. Incredibly beautiful, and a really, really well-written script. Matt Damon was fantastic, as usual. Just an all-around excellent film.


There were a couple things that bothered me... )

So yeah, wonderful movie. Too bad it got tripped up for me by such silly, obvious points. I still enjoyed it, though, and would recommend it to anyone. Just don't think that because it gets so much right, that it gets everything right. It is Hollywood, after all. ;)

P.S. Phil Plait, who writes science articles for Slate, has a great little post on the movie here, where you can see a funny little deleted scene, as well. Enjoy!
serai: A kiss between Casey Connor and Zeke Tyler (JoshNeck)
Yesterday, I was watching O, the film I mentioned in my last post.

I really like this film a lot. Even during my decade of get the fuck outta my face, you that I had with Josh, I would enjoy his performance in this movie. As you all know, he's the modern prep school version of Iago, the Bard's enraged, homicidally jealous military man.

And he does such a great job. As I watched yesterday, I was as moved as I always am by him in this film. It's not just him, of course. A great deal of the effect has to do with how the script was adapted from Shakespeare. The plainness of the language gives the young actors a lot of room to move around in the lines, to find their own interpretation of a character's actions. (Elizabethan English seems to turn some actors into deer staring down headlights, especially young actors.)

Josh does a lot of really interesting things with Hugo... )


Monday, October 5th, 2015 07:09 pm
serai: A kiss between Casey Connor and Zeke Tyler (JoshNeck)
I've just ripped a nice, double-sized .avi of O, the 2000 adaptation of Othello in which Josh played Iago. It's got the director's commentary on a separate audio track and comes with optional subtitles, which I always find useful when listening to commentaries. Would anyone here like me to upload it? It's no trouble. :)

serai: A kiss between Casey Connor and Zeke Tyler (CaseyZeke)
For [ profile] claudia603. I hope your birthday has been wonderful!

by Serai

"This is some strange shit, man," Casey murmurs. He takes a hit off the bong and passes it back, watching the Native elders wailing their healing song over the little girl. Virginia Madsen - that dark hair sure is tasty on her - gets up and leaves the lodge to step out into the night, and Zeke answers, his voice logy as well.

"Yeah, I guess some of it's a bit obscure if you're not a Catholic," he says with a sticky laugh. 'Any popcorn left?' ... )

Apologies for the abrupt end, but it just kinda...ended. If I can wrestle any more out of it, I'll edit. But for now,


By the by...

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015 05:36 pm
serai: A kiss between Casey Connor and Zeke Tyler (HolyShit)
I would like to assert that I have no problem whatsoever with the way PJ handled the whole "Frodo and the Black Riders" thing, so please don't take that little ficlet as any kind of implication in that regard. I still maintain that what looks good on the page doesn't necessarily look good on the screen, and I agree with his reasons for changing the scene.

Carry on.



Sunday, September 20th, 2015 03:56 pm
serai: A kiss between Casey Connor and Zeke Tyler (JoshShades)
You know, I find I've become very fond of Josh's performance in August. Tom Sterling is SUCH a dick, but it's Josh's interpretation of his massive dickery that I find so fascinating. From that first little CNN snippet - where he flaunts his dickishness with such casual arrogance it's amazing he isn't snapping gum - I'm just hooked by him, the way one is hooked by beautiful footage of a 10-car pileup. He's utterly mystifying, opaque, in his headstrong refusal to be real in any way, as if he thinks he can hold off the world through the sheer force of his steely eyes. It's really a wonderful encapsulation in miniature of everything that went wrong in that culture - good intentions, short-sightedness, delusions of grandeur, greed, overweening pride, rejection of reality, and tons and tons and tons of money, none of it real. Smoke and mirrors. Fumes, as Tom himself says. It's a gorgeous performance, one I'm sorry didn't get much attention.

But I would still like to know if that opening scene - the one in the nightclub restroom - was actually written that way, or whether it was an editing-room choice to "enter late, leave early", as the screenwriting edict goes. It's hard to say, though it works quite well. I don't think we really need to hear anything Tom said to that girl to know what a son of a bitch he is - her expression says far more than words could, as does his and the way he walks out. Jesus, such a BASTARD. Just beautiful.
serai: A kiss between Casey Connor and Zeke Tyler (EndIsNigh)
So Wes Craven died today. Most people know him for his work in horror films, but I was never into those. I'll always remember him for his work with the 80's version of The Twilight Zone. Just like the original, it was a hit-and-miss affair, but when it was good, it kicked serious ass. Craven directed several episodes, some of the best in the series, including this one.


Herein you can see the very first segment of that series, a dramatization of Harlan Ellison's short story Shatterday starring an almost unknown Bruce Willis. This was a lot of people's first glimpse of the man, including me. It's miles away from his usual wiseacre persona, certainly from David Addison, the smartass detective he'd play for several seasons on Moonlighting, and the blueprint for so many of his performances after. Here he's uptight, paranoid, and spiralling slowly into madness. An interesting performance handled in an interesting way by Craven. I especially like the focus on keeping the main character in a tight visual box, emphasizing the concept of being shut in and cut off.

RIP, for a talented artist.

Town & Country

Sunday, August 30th, 2015 06:48 pm
serai: A kiss between Casey Connor and Zeke Tyler (ScreamRunning)
Okay. So, in my quest to see everything Josh has done, I just got finished watching Town & Country.

Oh. My. God.

Christ in a sidecar. With a helmet and goggles. Holy shit, I'm impressed. Seriously. I didn't think a movie could suck like that. Just...OH.

Sidebar here: Why does anyone make movies with Warren Beatty? Honestly, I don't understand this. When was the last time you heard a movie he made didn't suck? The guy's been riding on his rep from fourty years ago for decades now, and people just keep falling for it. I don't know, maybe he's really fun to work with? But I've sure never heard that about him; in fact, just the opposite - he's supposed to be utterly maddening.

Anyway, this one stayed absolutely true to form. Oh my god, just deeply painful almost from the first moment. (Almost. The first couple of minutes, I was thinking, "Hm, this isn't so bad. A little stilted, but it is one of those Rich White People comedies, so....NOPE. OH MY FUCKING GOD, IT SUCKS." It really was that abrupt.) Holy shit, it's bad.

And totally not worth it if you're looking to see Josh's part. It's exactly the part you'd think he got - Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton's son - and it's miniscule. There are only two reasons to dig out this turkey for Josh: one is the sight of him in a tux (UNF), and the other is about ten seconds of Wild Sex Noises coming from behind a closed door. (Josh's Wild Sex Noises are really quite fetching, as I'm sure you'll all agree.) Those two things together, while not making the film at all good in any way, did make me stop regretting the time I wasted. And it really wasn't that much time. Since I figured Josh was going to be in the scenes that take place at the family home (I was right, for the most part), it was easy enough to just skip all the inane crap and badly written farce dialogue. Even so, most of it is just forgettable.

Verdict: Josh is very cute, but completely wasted, and not in a good way. Awful, awful movie that tanked several actors' careers for a while. If you're really desperate, don't let me stop you, but I'd recommend another viewing of August, myself.

(no subject)

Saturday, August 8th, 2015 12:33 pm
serai: A kiss between Casey Connor and Zeke Tyler (JoshNeck)
Just watched Parts Per Billion last night.

Jesus Christ, this fucking guy. He's got to stop breaking my heart.

Seriously. You can imagine the effect his last lines had on me, considering the stuff I've been writing lately. To hear his voice speaking those words was wrenching.

Honestly, I'm starting to get skittish about watching him in anything recent. He's gotten so wonderful, but fuck me, I don't need to get punched in the gut like this. Especially since he keeps saying things that have been on my wishlist to Aphrodite for years now.

serai: A kiss between Casey Connor and Zeke Tyler (Glove)

May I just say that watching Elijah Wood jerk off to a video of himself with three sex slaves is, you know... really fucking WEIRD?

Just wanted to toss that out there.

serai: A kiss between Casey Connor and Zeke Tyler (JoshNeck)
Watched August last night. Uh...yeah. Seems Josh has been wilding on camera for a while now. Mm, mm, mm. Yummy, yummy man.

I'm getting a little jumpy at the way sex scenes are just THROWN at you these days, though. There doesn't seem to be a lot of buildup anymore. Two characters are having a conversation and then BAM, they're rutting like crazed animals. It's a bit...abrupt. I'm not exactly complaining - the slam of erotic energy I got when the film cut from a sexy look to full-on FUCKING!!! was certainly enjoyable. I'm just glad nobody else was in the room, because I made a pretty bizarre sound when that happened, LOL.

The film itself was surprisingly good. It's one of those Some Guy indie films, like Thumbsucker. Some Guy (or Some Gal) films don't really have plots so much as they have spans. Here's a guy, here's where he works, here are the people he knows. He goes places, he talks to people, things happen, and then it's over, but you haven't necessarily gone any great distance. They don't have plotting in the classic film sense, and they depend on the characters' ability to engage the audience, so the actors are really important.

This one is about a Zuckerberg type who runs a start-up, and right from the get-go I was rooting for him to get a massive bitchslap. Wow, he is a shit. And Josh played it beautifully, all smug manipulation and manic narcissism, spouting off that terminally annoying techie nonsense as if it actually meant something. Gods, the self-stroking horseshit was astounding. I wonder how hard Josh had to work to learn those lines, because there is absolutely NOTHING to hang your understanding on unless you actually do that kind of work. He might as well have been speaking in numbers: "Nine fifty seven eight hundred thousand? ZERO FOURTY NINE AZIMUTH MILLION SQUARE ROOT SKEWEY, ASSHOLE!!!" It really did sound like that - just mouthfuls of hot air, but he rattled it off like every word had import. That's something I really admire in good actors - their ability to inject real meaning into things they might not understand at all. I guess those "recite the alphabet as if you were breaking up with your girlfriend" theater games really do pay off.


Yeah, this is one I'd definitely recommend if you're looking for things he's been in. It's a tour-de-force, too - he's in every single scene. The movie is completely about him, and yet it never really enters him. I mean, it's not terribly hard to figure this guy out, but he never gets explained. Know what I mean? I don't know if the filmmakers actually want to you to sympathize with him or not; it's really hard to say. But I enjoyed it, and I think you will, too.

P.S. The character's name is Tom Sterling. I find that incredibly funny, myself. It's a name seemingly crafted to put across every bit of his egocentrism and superficial charm.

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