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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.

Blogs

DIARY OF A WIMPY KID (2010) (***1/2)

Having been based on Jeff Kinney's young adult book, which was based on a collection of comic strips, I wondered how the film would work as a feature film. With its stream of consciousness style, the book doesn't have the narrative structure that a feature would need to sustain momentum. But with a few tweaks to the original text, the film finds a focus, giving Kinney's keen middle school observations even more punch.

Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon, THE BROTHERS BLOOM) is about to start middle school and his anxiety is growing by the minute. He believes it is the dumbest idea ever invented because it mixes kids who haven't hit their growth spurt like him with gorillas who have to shave their bodies twice daily. He worries about saying or doing the wrong thing. Making matters worse is his best friend Rowley (Robert Capron, THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE), who still plays with toys, listens to boy bands and is completely oblivious to the rules of tweendom. His older brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick, LAND OF THE DEAD), a high schooler in a band called Löded Diper, puts the fear into him by saying he won't even survive his first day.

Blogs

The 7th China International Computer Animation and Digital Arts Festival

Most of the juries I have served on have been in the States or Western Europe. Needless to say, there is a fairly regular overlap in content submitted to these geographic locations. I often found myself wondering how to get more Asian countries to submit their films to SIGGRAPH North America, (as it’s being called now that we have SIGGRAPH Asia and our 2011 Conference is being held in Vancouver, Canada.) So when I was at ANIMA this past winter and a very nice festival organizer from China asked if I would be able to sit on the jury of the 7th China International Computer Animation and Digital Art Festival (CICADAF 2010), how could I say no?

Blogs

THE “MOVING PAINTING” OF GITTE LE BRUYN

I discovered a young Belgian animator this week quite by accident via a music video that a friend sent me.  Gitte Le Bruyn graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp in 2008.  For one of her exhibitions she worked with the music of Brussels singer/songwriter Tino Biddeloo (aka Silver Junkie).  For the new music video Maria from Biddeloo’s debut full length CD, Streets and Boulevards, Gitte’s inspiration for the animation is based on the song.

I am always fascinated by animation created by painting on glass.  For one thing the animator has to have great confidence in their vision.  Since the glass is wiped clean after each shot there is no chance to go back.  Utilizing simple black ink and glass Le Bruyn has created haunting images that compliment the song rather than detract from it.

Blogs

THE SOCIAL NETWORK (2010) (****)

Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook business card read, "I'm the CEO, bitch." It sums up nicely the impression that one gets about the youngest billionaire on the planet from this film. David Fincher's drama, his best and most sophisticated film to date, presents in detail the creation of the social networking site and the legal issues that surrounded it. Zuckerberg had to simultaneously fight two lawsuits against him. As the film's tag line so aptly states — you don't get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.

In the film's opening conversation, Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg, ZOMBIELAND) comes off as both arrogant and insecure to his girlfriend Erica Albright (Rooney Mara, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET). He's obsessed with making a name for himself at Harvard and after she breaks up with him that night, he goes home and does just that. He blogs terrible things about her and then hacks into the school network, steals the images of the female students and creates a website that randomly selects two pictures and allows the viewer to rank the hotness of each one. He did this while drunk.

Blogs

DARCY PRENDERGAST’S "LUCKY" SHORT LISTED FOR GUGGENHEIN MUSEUM EXHIBITION

Australian animator Darcy Prendergast’s music video Lucky has been short listed for an opportunity to screen at the world famous Guggenhein Museum in New York City as part of a new exhibition run in conjunction with YouTube.

Whittled down from 23,000 entries, Lucky is among the 125 films in the running for a spot in the new exhibition.  Already earning 380,000 on-line hits, Darcy’s animated piece was produced in collaboration with the Melbourne band “All India Radio”.

Lucky was created using a long exposure technique where Prendergast and his team drew in the sky with glow sticks or colored torches, similar to writing your name in the sky with sparklers.  One 25 second exposure gives you one image.  The process was repeated hundreds of times to form a sequence.

Blogs

18TH INTERNATIONAL TRICKFILM FESTIVAL - STUTTGART, GERMANY SUBMISSION DEADLINES

The TRICKFILM FESTIVAL in Stuttgart has become the biggest and most important animation festival in Germany.  This year it will take place May 3 through the 8th, with cash awards for the International Competition, Young  Animation, Tricks For Kids, AniMovie and Under Commission.

Their call for animation is below.

DECEMBER 1, 2010 - Closing Date For the International Competition, Young Animation , Tricks For Kids, and AniMovie.

JANUARY 15, 2011 - Closing Date for Under Commission Films.

All registration forms and preview DVD’s must be presented to Medienfestival  gGmbH by the closing date.

Blogs

No Job Offer? So what...

By Lisa Kaye | Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 2:31pm

Sometimes you feel like no matter what you do you just can’t seem to get it right. All the resume rewrites, networking parties, email requests, introductions and you still can’t get a job offer. When the going gets tough you don’t necessarily need to get going-in the other direction. When the jobs fall through, you...

Blogs

Idiots’ Diary #12: Ramping up the Guerilla Marketing

Now, whether posters and postcards all over the city will drive huge numbers to the theatre, that's a different and interesting question - We hope so, because without the money for a full-out publicity blitz, I'm forced to use more street guerilla tactics. Eager student volunteers seem to be the most efficient way.

Blogs

Animafest Zagreb 2011 Call for Entries

Animafest Zagreb 2011 Call for Entries

Call for Entries for the competition program of the feature edition of Animafest is now open.
Feature edition of the 21st World Festival of Animated Film – Animafest Zagreb will be held from 31 May – 05 June 2011 in Zagreb, Croatia.
Animated feature films completed in 2009, 2010 or 2011 with a running time of 60 minutes or longer are eligible to apply.

For more information visit Animafest web site at www.animafest.hr.

Submission deadline is 01 March 2011.

Blogs

Blu-ray: COCO CHANEL & IGOR STRAVINSKY (2010)

By Rick DeMott | Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 10:32pm

Some of the best elements of Jan Kounen's real-life love affair tale are the cinematography, production design and costumes. They are exquisitely represented in this Blu-ray. Coco Chanel's monochromatic style is rich with deep blacks and pearly whites. In 1080p, the picture is crisp and detailed, while retaining the original film grain feel. When splashes of color are introduced, the picture quality remains firm and rich within the cool ascetic the film is trying to create.

As for the soundtrack, the disc is presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless. Even though this is a quiet drama, the soundscape is filled with the noises of the environments. Claps and jeers fill the room during Stravinsky's disastrous first performance of "The Rites of Spring." The sounds of the woods fill the outdoor scenes at the estate. Stravinsky's bombastic music moves the LFE track. All the elements from dialogue to sound effects to music are perfectly balanced.

Blogs

COCO CHANEL & IGOR STRAVINSKY (2010) (***)

This drama might have not been planned as a sequel to the Audrey Tautou film, COCO BEFORE CHANEL, but it works as one. The story of this film picks up pretty much where the other film left off. This film doesn't have the same ambition or storytelling sophistication, but it does tell a compelling story of a sexual affair where the woman holds all the cards.

The film begins in detail with the disastrous first performance of Igor Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring." A producer tells Stravinsky (Mads Mikkelsen, CASINO ROYALE) that the work is too modern for those use to "Swan Lake." The famed fashion designer Coco Chanel (Anna Mouglalis, THE CAPTIVE) was one of the few in the audience who saw it as a new masterpiece. The work stuck with her so strongly that years later when she meet the composer again, she offered to be his sponsor. So Stravinsky, his sick wife Katarina (Yelena Morozova) and their brood of children moved into Chanel's country estate with her. Right from the start, Mrs. Stravinsky knew that their benefactor had more than just an interest in music.

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