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Idiots’ Diary #18: The Imperfect Storm

Call it “Crazy Week” or “The Imperfect Storm”. It seems like everything is happening at once. First of all, in my studio, I'm trying to finish a low-budget commercial for an accounting firm. Then I'm working on animation for John Leguizamo' new feature, “Fugly”. Plus, I'm right in the very critical last week of sending my new Rizzoli art book, “Independently Animated: Bill Plympton”, off to the printers in China.

Blogs

SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD (2010) (**1/2)

Everyone knows that George A. Romeo is the creator of the modern day zombie. I have enjoyed all previous entries in this horror sub-genre he has made. Each in some way commented on the era in which they were made. Now with zombies more popular than ever, Romeo doesn't have to wait a decade to turn a new one out. I don't think that's a good thing.

This entry in his zombie canon is the first direct sequel to any of his zombie films. It follows characters that appeared in the faux-doc DIARY OF THE DEAD. Nicotine Crocket (Alan Van Spring, LAND OF THE DEAD) is a National Guard sergeant who along with his troops has gone rogue since the zombie outbreak. It's a zombie eat zombie world out there. Along with Kenny (Eric Woolfe, NEW YORK MINUTE), Francisco (Stefano Colacitti, THE BOONDOCK SAINTS II: ALL SAINTS DAY) and Tomboy (Athena Karkanis, SAW IV), they rob a RV full of film students (featured in DIARY). The military deserters run into a solo teen called Boy (Devon Bostick, DIARY OF A WIMPY KID), who tells them of an island off the coast of Delaware that is inviting strangers over to live in a zombie-free zone.

Blogs

DATE NIGHT (2010) (***1/2)

Marriage and life sometimes seem to get in the way of each other. You meet the right woman, fall in love, get hitched, have kids and end up wondering how you got stuck in some routine. The routine tests marriages. The one's that last are often the ones that can take a moment to break free from the routine and remember what sparked it all in the beginning. For the Fosters, blackmailers, gangsters, corrupt cops and a deviant DA really do put a spark in their relationship.

Phil and Claire Foster (Steve Carell, THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN & Tina Fey, TV's 30 ROCK) are in that kind of rut. Their best friends the Sullivans (Kristen Wiig, TV's SNL & Mark Ruffalo, THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT) are getting a divorce, because they got in a rut. This scares Phil, because he loves Claire, but he can see their light fizzling out. He tries to make their date night special by taking her to a trendy new restaurant in NYC on Friday night without a reservation. No luck getting a table. So Phil acts spontaneously and takes the reservation of the Tripplehorns, who don't seem to be there. Not a great call.

Blogs

An Evening with Disney: A look at 'Tron Legacy' and 'Tangled'

By Joe Strike | Thursday, October 14, 2010 at 2:10pm

On a rainy October Monday we media types, invited by the Disney folks, gathered at a midtown NYC arts center. The lure: a peek at the studio’s two big holiday events: Tron Legacy and Tangled, their CGI-animated de/reconstruction of the Rapunzel story. I’ll go out on a bit of a limb here and call Tangled Disney’s liveliest animated feature in a long time and their best fairy tale updating ever.

Blogs

FANTOCHE INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF ANIMATED FILM September 7 through 12 Baden, Switzerland

­­“Fantoche, It’s Fantastic” is what I saw  when I first went to the website  for the Fantoche International Festival of Animated Film, and happily the festival  certainly does live up to this claim.  The historic spa town of Baden is a perfect setting for a festival; ruins of Roman baths were just down the street from our festival hotel but the films in the multiple screening rooms were fresh and up to date.

There were four International Competition programs which screened some of the most popular films from 2010, such as Olga and Pritt Parn’s Divers in the Rain and Anita Killi’s Angry Man, both of which have already won an array of awards at festivals all over Europe as well as in Japan, at Hiroshima.

Blogs

HEREAFTER (2010) (***1/2)

For this film, 80-year-old Clint Eastwood looks at death. Based on a script from Peter Morgan (FROST/NIXON), the film weaves together three different experiences with death — a near death experience, the loss of a loved one and a metaphysical look at the issue. Each is told on a haunting emotional level. No matter what your own personal beliefs are about the afterlife, this film actually reinforces the most important part of life.

Blogs

HEREAFTER (2010) (***1/2)

For this film, 80-year-old Clint Eastwood looks at death. Based on a script from Peter Morgan (FROST/NIXON), the film weaves together three different experiences with death — a near death experience, the loss of a loved one and a metaphysical look at the issue. Each is told on a haunting emotional level. No matter what your own personal beliefs are about the afterlife, this film actually reinforces the most important part of life.

Marie LeLay (Cecile De France, HIGH TENSION) is a famous French newscaster. On vacation with her boyfriend/producer Didier (Thierry Neuvic, TELL NO ONE), she goes out to a street market to buy gifts and is swept away as a sudden tsunami strikes. She is pulled from the water, but not before experiencing the classic near death experience of the bright white light and sense of weightlessness.

Toy Story 3 Blogs

10 Till 6 #1: Crying Through Toy Story 3, A Stick Figure Action Hero Returns & Animated Politicos

By Dan Sarto | Wednesday, October 13, 2010 at 12:22pm

Time Magazine asks why parents cry during animated kids movies, Alan Becker's newest installment of Animator vs. Animation hits the web and Ray Grigg's political documentary I Want Your Money, highlighted by animated US Presidents past and present, hits selected theaters.

Game Blogs

Who’s Really Up In Arms Over EA’s New Medal of Honor?

By Dan Sarto | Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 7:46pm

With today’s release of EA’s controversial new version of Medal of Honor, set in Afghanistan, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about, who’s upset at what and why did this story get so much traction in the months leading up the product launch. At a casual glance, you might think “guns, violence and mayhem in video games” are once again being used as easy media fodder. Been there, done that, if you don’t like it don’t buy it. Get a life. But let’s not let ourselves off so easily.

Blogs

Idiots’ Diary #17: The Morning After

So, it's the morning after the grand premiere of “Idiots and Angels” at the IFC Center. It was a wonderful evening, lots of old friends and a lot of new fans of Plymptoons. I can't say it was a smashing success; even though we had good crowds for both evening shows we didn't have a sell-out, and that's the dream of every filmmaker: A nice fat “sold out” sign over the box office window.

Blogs

Blu-ray: THE EXORCIST (1973)

This Blu-ray release transfers both the original theatrical cut and the 2000 never before seen cut into 1080p for the first time. For a film from the 1970s, the look is impressive in HD. While wide shots contain noise, many close-ups and medium shots are pristine. Dirt and damage has been cleaned up almost completely. Details pop in things like fabrics. For the most part more details emerge in the brighter lit scenes. The picture problems are fleeting. Black levels are a bit inconsistent and some shots are soft.

Blogs

Blu-ray: THE EXORCIST (1973)

Read my original review of THE EXORCIST!

This Blu-ray release transfers both the original theatrical cut and the 2000 never before seen cut into 1080p for the first time. For a film from the 1970s, the look is impressive in HD. While wide shots contain noise, many close-ups and medium shots are pristine. Dirt and damage has been cleaned up almost completely. Details pop in things like fabrics. For the most part more details emerge in the brighter lit scenes. The picture problems are fleeting. Black levels are a bit inconsistent and some shots are soft.

As for the sound, the extended cut is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 6.1 surround and the original cut is DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. The soundscape was intended to mix the bombastic with moments of eerie silence. The LFE emphasizes the unearthly sound moments from furniture flying across the room and the unnatural voices that possess Regan. The 360 experience is nice as unsettling sounds emerge from the rear speakers than sweep across the room like an apparition. Like the picture transfer, most of the problems with canned or hollow sounds are most likely a result of the aging originals.

Blogs

Eat, Pray, Work…

By Lisa Kaye | Monday, October 11, 2010 at 12:37pm

Your job search is an adventure. When you think of the infinite possibilities out there you will be less concerned about making a mistake. When you are willing to take risk in your quest for a new job, you can move forward without expectation and enjoy the journey. By focusing on the outcome of each and every interview, meeting or networking event you will likely drive yourself mad and miss out on the important opportunity right in front of you.

Blogs

Idiots’ Diary #16: The Film Reviews Start Arriving – Demented Moral Fantasy Indeed!

It's a crazy day – besides being the day Idiots and Angels premieres at the IFC Center, it's also the day that all the reviews come out. So briskly, at 6AM, I eagerly go to my local magazine shop and buy all the papers...

Blogs

EXPELLED: NO INTELLIGENCE ALLOWED (2008) (*1/2)

Host and co-writer Ben Stein and director Nathan Frankowski take a Michael Moore approach to their documentary on Intelligent Design. The tone is snarky and the slant is obvious. It's an opinion piece. Each viewer will experience the film differently depending on the ideology they bring in. But unlike Moore's films, EXPELLED lacks the same wit and too often intelligence.

Stein begins by interviewing professors who have lost their jobs over their ID beliefs. The film argues that academia has no tolerance for alternative theories to Darwinism and will eliminate all those threats. He interviews many ID scientists who claim that it is valid science and not Creationism dressed up under another name. God has nothing to do with it.

Blogs

New Road Runner & Coyote Shorts from Warner: The Matt O’Callaghan Interview

By Joe Strike | Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 10:40am

When Warner Bros. asked Matt O’Callaghan to return their yin-and-yang, would-be predator and hoped-for prey pair Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, to the big screen – only in CGI-shape and 3D-depth, O’Callaghan took a deep breath and delivered the goods – and fortunately for all involved with the production, without once resorting to Acme technology…

Blogs

Idiots’ Diary #14: NYC Release Date Arrives!

As the release date is getting closer, October 6th, 2010, I find that more and more of my work time is allocated to publicity about Idiots and Angels. I've turned down commercial work, pushed aside my new short, Cop Dog, and delayed work on my two new feature films because I've absolutely got to score big in the cinemas with “I&A.” So in this final week, I've been calling all my contacts, anyone who has a blog, website, a newspaper, a newspaper column, a TV show – anyone who can help get the word out, they are now my best friends.

Blogs

RED RIDING: IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD 1983 (2010) (***1/2)

The third and best film in the RED RIDING trilogy reveals the mysteries and conspiracies that surrounded the first two films. In the process, it unveils the sick depth of the cover-up. What distinguishes this entry from the others is its emotional center. The previous two films followed a crusader looking to uncover the truth. This film puts us into the shoes of one of the conspirators as he struggles with the guilt of what he's done.

Maurice Jobson (David Morrissey, THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL) was a supporting character in the other two films, appearing only briefly. But, especially with his actions at the end of the first film, knew had a much bigger role to play. He was part of the police conspiracy to cover-up the crimes of businessman John Dawson (Sean Bean, LORD OF THE RINGS), because he was poised to make them rich in a land scheme. Now Jobson is confronted again with the child murders of 1974 when another little girl goes missing.

Blogs

RED RIDING: IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD 1980 (2010) (***1/2)

The second installment in the RED RIDING trilogy based on David Peace's novels is the least connected to the other films in the series, but integral to the overall story the three films tell. Director James Marsh (MAN ON WIRE) approaches the material as a straight police procedural. One careless statement sets this story rolling and its full ramifications are not known until the very end.

The Yorkshire Ripper is sending panic throughout the community. Peter Hunter (Paddy Considine, IN AMERICA) is brought in to help the investigation. But why him? He's known for ruffling feathers within the police ranks with his dogged investigations, particularly the one into the Karachi Club massacre, which ended the previous film. He puts together a team of the department's top investigators — Helen Marshall (Maxine Peake, TV's SHAMELESS) and John Nolan (Tony Pitts). He tries to keep his past affair with Helen quiet. When they try to get information from the previous investigators, they hit a brick wall. Officer Bob Craven (Sean Harris, 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE) tells Hunter that they'll catch their Ripper and he can have his own.

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