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Blogs FORBIDDEN PLANET (1956) (****)

In the 1950s, science fiction began to step out of kid adventure mode and deal with more adult themes. This coy sci-fi adventure dealt with the secret thoughts that lurk within us all. Its influence on the genre is endless, most notably inspiring the tone and psychological themes of STAR TREK.

Inspired by Shakespeare's THE TEMPEST, the story follows Commander J.J. Adams (Leslie Nielsen, NAKED GUN) as he leads an expedition to the distant planet of Altair IV where a previous expedition has gone missing. When they arrive at the planet, the only surviving member of the last crew, Dr. Edward Morbius (Walter Pidgeon, MADAME CURIE), warns them to turn around and go home. Adams ignores the warning and lands to find that the previous crew was wiped out by an unseen entity. Dr. Morbius has utilized the highly advanced technology of the previous inhabitants of the planet, the Krell, to build an advanced robot named Robby (Marvin Miller, M*A*S*H). What he's less willing to reveal is his beautiful daughter Altaria (Anne Francis, BLACKBOARD JUNGLE). How Lt. "Doc" Ostrow (Warren Stevens, THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA) and Lt. Jerry Farman (Jack Kelly, TV's MAVERICK) react to her, he might have legitimate concerns.

Blogs THX 1138 (1971) (***1/2)

By Rick DeMott | Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 4:07pm

Francis Ford Coppola's American Zoetrope was supposed to be a haven for young San Francisco filmmakers. But Warner Bros. backed away from its deal with the company before it really got started. However, this wasn't before a young George Lucas had the chance to do a feature length version of his short from USC. This low-budget sci-fi film set the groundwork for Lucas to get the funding for STAR WARS. Yet this film is a starkly different kind of sci-fi than the Flash Gordon serial adventure that came in 1977.

In the 25th century, humans live in a highly controlled underground society. They are feed drugs to dampen their emotions. Physical sex is outlawed and roommates are simply assigned. One deity called OMM 0910 has been approved to worship. (He looks a lot like Hans Memling's Christ.) Androids police the human population.

Blogs The value of information

At this moment I'm using my Ipad to write this blog, my Windows7 workstation at the office to finish and upload it, while I'm checking my mail on my Android phone. We have an internal Wiki, a second wiki for another company I'm partnering in, Shotgun for project management, Tara with a SQL server backend for automated tasks, an Access database for on-set data, expression media databases, a facebook page linked to our Twitter and Youtube accounts, an Exchange server for Outlook, three Dropbox accounts, a Yousendit account, our own ftp server, I'm on linked-in, Xing, vfxconnection, and I'm getting daily Google alerts on a dozen topics . It's exhausting.

But for some reason I still have the feeling I'm not getting the information I actually WANT or NEED.

Blogs Frenzer Foreman Animation Forum (podcast) x 17

FFAF continues its Salutation to Tinselville this week with more animation conversation from the Heart of Hollywood. This week's special guest and lovably evil animator-innovator, JJ Villard, scratches the true grit of the LA animation underbelly as he devles into discussion on his films, animation career prep, dirty-dogs, the worth of the festival-hussle, the subtext of the Walk of Fame, choice Starbucks beverages, Shrek, major studio lunch-spreads, and how to charm the evil of it all.

Blogs Blu-ray Buzz – Blood Among Other Things

After a solo showing last week, this week has eight featured titles. Classics and some fun fill the Pick of the Week and Queue Qualified sections, while some critical acclaimed films from earlier this year are coming to DVD and Blu-ray for the first time in the Buzzed About section. Lots of interesting flicks to consider.

Pick of the Week
In Cold Blood
Richard Brooks' film adaptation of Truman Capote's legendary true crime novel is also one of the great true crime movies. Gritty realism makes this black & white production as modern feeling as any film today. Often filmed in the real locations where the real life events took place, the film follows the police's pursuit of Perry Smith and Dick Hickcock after their ruthlessly slaughter the Clutter family. Robert Blake as Perry and Scott Wilson as Hickcock are like lost children, never realizing what they've done until it's too late. With its even-handed approach, it's a complex study of crime that has been rarely matched.

Blogs Steve Streeting; how to work efficiently

By David Maas | Monday, September 6, 2010 at 12:40am

Steve Streeting, if anyone, should know how to plan his work week. He's been at the helm of OGRE (the open graphic rendering engine) and a prolific freelance developer for a qurter century. Refreshingly, he admits that it isn't that easy... even with so much experience under your belt. Check out his post for valuable work tips on how to make the most of your time.

Blogs CITY ISLAND (2010) (***1/2)

This comedy comes from Raymond De Felitta, who made the wonderfully charming romance TWO FAMILY HOUSE. The title takes its name from the mile and a half island in the Bronx. It's a fishing town and seems completely alien to the rest of NYC. Each of the members of the film's central family seem completely alien to the other members. It's a film about secrets and how they bring unneeded chaos to this one family.

Vince Rizzo (Andy Garcia, THE MAN FROM ELYSIAN FIELDS) is keeping something from his family. He tells them that he's going to a weekly poker game, but really he's taking an acting class. His wife Joyce (Julianna Margulies, TV's THE GOOD WIFE) is pretty tough on him for being a prison guard. She also rides him for sneaking a smoke, despite the fact that she does the same. Oh, he has another secret. He has a grown son from a previous relationship that he walked out on and now that son Tony (Steven Strait, SKY HIGH) has been transferred to his prison for boosting cars.

Blogs Trekking Around Animation Town

By Jan Nagel | Friday, September 3, 2010 at 9:43am

Just this week I visited several studios with a software client. The industry is preparing for MIPCOM in October. . . When MIPCOM, the biggest television market, is in sight, the industry changes gears and is looking for something fresh and new to whet the appetites of the international buyers. . . . During this trek around animation town, I absorbed a lot of information from a lot of different sources.

Blogs MACHETE (2010) (***)

I heard a story once about Melvin Van Peebles going to see his SWEET SWEETBACK'S BAADASSSSS SONG on opening day with only one other person in the theater, a Black Panther. He went to a later showing and the house was full. That one Black Panther had come back and brought all this friends, who loved the film. I can see the same scenario playing out with this film, only replacing the Black Panther with an illegal immigrant.

Blogs MACHETE (2010) (***)

I heard a story once about Melvin Van Peebles going to see his SWEET SWEETBACK'S BAADASSSSS SONG on opening day with only one other person in the theater, a Black Panther. He went to a later showing and the house was full. That one Black Panther had come back and brought all this friends, who loved the film. I can see the same scenario playing out with this film, only replacing the Black Panther with an illegal immigrant.

Machete (Danny Trejo, HEAT) was a Federale when his wife and daughter were killed by drug kingpin Torrez (Steven Seagal, UNDER SIEGE). Left for dead, he managed to survive and make his way to the U.S. where he finds work as a day laborer. A businessman named Booth (Jeff Fahey, TV's LOST) makes him an offer of $150,000 to assassinate Senator McLaughlin (Robert DeNiro, HEAT), who is running on an extreme anti-illegal immigrant platform in Texas. What is unknown is that the politician is linked to a border vigilante group led by murderous cop Lt. Stillman (Don Johnson, TV's MIAMI VICE). But when dealing with corrupt men like these men nothing appears as it seems.

Blogs You Can't Teach a Fish to Sing - the importance of motivation

By Robin King | Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 5:35pm

Talent is important, but talent without motivation simply doesn’t cut it. Curiosity, persistence and a spirit of creative accomplishment are indispensable. It’s the responsibility of the instructor and the institution to ensure that the learning environment is one that encourages openness, individuality, teamwork, sound problem solving and creativity.

Blogs THE AMERICAN (***)

By Rick DeMott | Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 3:17pm

This isn't a thriller in the American sense of the term. It certainly has more in common with meticulously paced French thrillers, which were as much character studies as they were genre pieces. Director Anton Corbijn has no intentions of making this film for the ADD crowd accustomed to lightning fast editing and adrenaline-fueled action sequences at regular intervals. He is certainly asking his audience to be patient.

Blogs Another shout into the wind, another meandering. Not a must read by any means.

By Milt Vallas | Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 1:36pm

I'm cranky after talking to a friend and hearing about his interaction with a big unnamed company. Not able to resist the urge to gripe and moan I wrote this little snarly about my favorite whipping boys, the big corporations. I should be able to get on with more imnportant things but like the scorpion in the fable, it's my nature, I can't help it.

Blogs THE AMERICAN (***)

By Rick DeMott | Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 9:23am

This isn't a thriller in the American sense of the term. It certainly has more in common with meticulously paced French thrillers, which were as much character studies as they were genre pieces. Director Anton Corbijn has no intentions of making this film for the ADD crowd accustomed to lightning fast editing and adrenaline-fueled action sequences at regular intervals. He is certainly asking his audience to be patient.

Jack, or Edward, (we're really not sure which name is true) (George Clooney, SYRIANA) is a master assassin. He's as cold and remote as the wintery mountain setting the film begins in. He is being hunted by Swede assassins. His handler Pavel (Johan Leysen, BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF) says he is slipping and needs to lay low. He doesn't like the safe house set up for him, so he changes the plans. One might expect this to really piss off his boss, but Jack is the best at engineering weapons to precise specifications and Pavel has a new client.

Blogs THE RUNAWAYS (2010) (***)

By Rick DeMott | Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 1:01am

Young teens dream of rock 'n roll stardom. They make it. Drugs and egos fuel their spiral down. Sounds like every music biopic and you're not going to get much more here. But what you will get is three fine performances that lift up the material to a more compelling level.

As the film proposes, Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart, TWILIGHT) wanted to form an all-girl rock band to prove that the girls can rock as hard as the boys. At a club, she meets Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon, REVOLUTIONARY ROAD), a notorious record producer who trolls the clubs looking for the next it act. He introduces Jett to Sandy West (Stella Maeve, BROOKLYN'S FINEST), a drummer who has the same all-girl rock 'n roll dream. To Fowley's great surprise, they can rock. So he gets the idea to put the ultimate jailbait in the lead. He finds Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning, WAR OF THE WORLDS), a Bowie-obsessed 15-year-old and transforms her from a pussycat into a tigress.

Blogs Blu-ray Buzz – Blu-ray Rides Red

With a great deal of TV dominating the new releases for the week, this is a very light week. The Pick of the Week is it. It's part recommend and part Buzzed About.  You'll see what I mean.

Pick of the Week
Red Riding Trilogy
This BBC film series is a trilogy based on David Peace's novel. The trio went streaming last week on Netflix from IFC and I caught the first film and I'm eagerly awaiting the chance to catch the others. The story follows the murder investigation of murdered girls. When an investigator looks into the killings, he finds a cover-up that reaches every level of power. Julian Jarrold (BRIDESHEAD REVISITED) directed the first film and brings a bleak, ominous feel to the material. James Marsh (MAN ON WIRE) helmed the second and Anand Tucker (SHOPGIRL) the third. Of the first film, I was impressed with the screen presence of Andrew Garfield, the young actor selected to be the new Spider-Man. The rest of the cast is no less impressive — Sean Bean, Rebecca Hall, Eddie Marsan and David Morrissey. And that's just the first film. The following two include Paddy Considine, Mark Addy and Peter Mullan. This kind of corruption is a daunting thing to fight against; the corrupt have more resources. The first film only scratches the surface. On its own, it stands as a disturbing look at the extents those in power will go to hold on to it.

Blogs RED RIDING: IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD 1974 (2010) (***1/2)

This is the first film in a trilogy based on David Peace's novel, which was produced for the BBC. The first installment of this crime drama series was directed by Julian Jarrold (BRIDESHEAD REVISITED). He brings a somber ominous tone to the material that puts an increasing weight on the shoulders of the viewer as it's central character gets more and more bogged down in the corruption that surround the case he is investigating.

Eddie Dunford (Andrew Garfield, upcoming SPIDER-MAN reboot) is a young reporter digging into a string of child murders that have gone unsolved. His friend Barry Gannon (Anthony Flanagan, STATE OF PLAY) takes him to meet the mother of one of girls, Paula Garland (Rebecca Hall, VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA) at first she throws him out for being insensitive, but over time she comes to realize that he might the only person truly dedicated to finding the killer. Barry gets an ominous warning that he's in danger for his investigation into the murders from the mental ill wife of powerful businessman John Dawson (Sean Bean, LORD OF THE RINGS). When Barry turns up dead, Eddie begins to see the cover-up that surrounds the child murders.

Blogs Getting Buzzed - RFP’s 30 Most Anticipated Fall Films

Every season a take a look over the release schedule and compile a list of the films I'm most excited about seeing. As it is for most serious movie fans, the fall is the most exciting time for movie going. This fall is no exception with new films from a host of major and up-and-coming filmmakers. Because the fall is so jam-packed with films I've also included an Honorable Mention list and an On the Look Out list, which features titles with no firm dates that could easily sneak into the fall schedule. So lets get going.

Must-See List
CATFISH (Sept. 17)
Trailer
This is the story behind this documentary — filmmakers Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman saw Ariel's brother Nev developing a relationship with a family over the Net and decided to film it. When he goes to meet them, what he finds is shocking. The trailer really hooked me and I had to see what happens and let me tell you it's astonishing. I was lucky enough to see this one really early and let me tell you it's the best film I've seen this year so far. There is nothing like it. The only way I could describe it is to say it's like an Errol Morris documentary filtered through a modern cyber thriller that provides unbelievable twists. It's the kind of film I want to take different people to just to witness their reactions to it.

Blogs Fall and Spring Animation Festivals

If you are getting your festival schedule together for Fall 2010 and Spring 2011 here are some festivals that you might want to consider sending your film to or visiting.   They are all festivals that I have attended or will be attending and can recommend as very good.

10 to 28 September 2010 – KROK International Festival of Animation - Russia or the Ukraine on alternate years

http://www.krokfestival.com

15 – 19 September 2010 –KLIK! Amsterdam Animation Festival - Amsterdam, The Netherlands

http://klikamsterdam.nl/

8 – 17 October 2010 – Animest  Animation Festival - Bucharest, Romania

Blogs The ASIFA-Hollywood Annies

The ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Educators Forum Student Animation Film Festival is quickly approaching. This event is open to all and will be a full day of film screenings, panels and portfolio reviews, culminating with an awards ceremony and reception for the winning filmmakers. The first place winner will receive a STUDENT ANNIE AWARD, a new award to be presented at this year's Annie Awards. There are prizes for all the top filmmakers provided by our sponsors as well. The deadlines to submit your film are September 1st (soft deadline) and Oct 1st (final deadline). The ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Educators Forum Student Animation Film Festival will take place Saturday, November 6th at Cal State Long Beach.

Blogs Times changes and people and workplaces change along with them.

Do we have as much fun making films now as we used to? I really don't think so although we do make a better, slicker more polished product, without doubt. As animation revenues have risen so has the serious aspect of what we do and how it is accepted. Perhaps the hijinks and pranks of passed days aren't appropriate any longer with so much money on the line for the studios, but it sure was a fun ride while it lasted.

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