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The Miscweant

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Hark, hark, this film's a lark...

Just had the pleasure of watching Tsui Hark's Black Mask 2: City of Masks, a loony, loopy movie that made me feel (in the best sense of the words) ten years old.

I never saw the original BM which starred Jet Li, but in this one some guy named Andy On (drugs?) takes over as the genetically messed-over superhero. He's fighting a bunch of grunting wrestlers whose DNA has likewise been altered, giving them bestial powers & uncontrollable metamorphoses into nasty animal hybrids.

For a while back in the 90's, it looked like cgi effects were going to wipe out modest little B-movie genre pix, with sci-fi/fantasy films given A-budgets & big name directors. Then PC's & Macs started making lower-end, lower-priced cgi efx possible. Combine that with Hong Kong style wire work, martial-arts mishegas (choreographed by Woo-ping Yuen, who did the same on Kung-Fu Hustle), cleverly chosen ultra-modern architectural backgrounds and snappy, vivid direction (from Hark, helmer of Iron Monkey, a Tarantino fave) and you have a high-energy nutsoid action flick that's a pleasure top to bottom. The opening credits of multiple silhouetted martial artists going through their paces on a computer screen background get you in the mood right off the bat.

Blogs

Find your fantasy

Very interesting contrast last week when I caught back-to-back screenings of a pair of fantasy flicks: Stardust and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

For one, the Stardust screening was deserted - just me, one other person and a friend I brought along. (A tumbling tumbleweed blocked my view of the screen for a while). The Phoenix screening was packed - they had to bring in folding chairs for the overflow, and held the start until some bigshot could make it.

And the movies deserved their respective audiences. Want to see an uninspired, you'll-leave-the-theater-humming-the(adequate)-special-effects fantasy? Stardust (directed by Matthew Vaughn of Layer Cake) is your film. Everything's pro-forma, out of the twinkly, twee, Edwardian-British faerie school of literary fantasy, without an ounce of conviction showing anywhere; I've had more believable experiences at your average Renaissance Festival.

Blogs

Separated at Birth 3: Asian-American Adolescent Magic Menace Fighters

The contenders:

American Dragon: Jake Long

Disney Channel, premiered January 21, 2005

Main Character: Jake Long, pre-teen descendant of long line of shape-shifting dragons

Supernatural responsibility: Protect New York City from supernatural menaces

Supernatural power: Can turn into a flying dragon

Mentor: Grandfather Luong Lao Shi; can also turn into a dragon

Sibling: annoying 8 year-old sister Haley; can also turn into a dragon

Pet: 600 year-old talking Shar Pei ‘Fu Dog’

and in this corner:

The Life and Times of Juniper Lee

Cartoon Network, premiered May 30, 2005

Blogs

Waltzing Matilda (right out the Disney door...)

A former Down Under Disney employee and Friend of the Site relays this bit of gossip:

“... a friend was at a recent studio meeting in Burbank and Ed Catmull was lamenting the closure of the Sydney studio - which is bizarre considering there were no Australians there to hear it and it was nearly 9 months after the fact. Word is the Pixar guys really regret it shutting down - had they come in a little earlier I am sure the studio would still be there now, which is such a shame. It was real waste of exceptional talent. It's not easy to have a place with over 250 people combining to work at that rate (10 feet per week) and producing such quality - it took 20 years to get to such a position…”

Blogs

Oscar says 'goodnight' to "Waking Life," etc.

Interpolate this, asshole (from yesterday's AWN Headline News):

“… The significance of the change emphasizes the importance of frame-by-frame character animation, and now rules out such films as A SCANNER DARKLY and WAKING LIFE for qualification. According to Jon Bloom, chairman of the Short Films and Feature Animation branch as well as a governor, the branch was concerned that the digital rotoscoping technique utilized in these two features was not crucial enough in shaping the animated performances."

[http://news.awn.com/index.php?ltype=top&newsitem_no=20076]

Translation: 'Best Animated Feature' is, now and forever, the official Akademy of Kinema Kiddie Kategory; no druggies or existential misfits need apply...

Blogs

Wet Rats

By Joe Strike | Wednesday, June 13, 2007 at 8:28am

Why can't they make a feature cartoon about rodents without sending them into the sewers via the kind of ride you'd pay money for at a water park (without the turds, of course), i.e. Stuart Little - Flushed Away and now Ratatouille? (Oops, it hasn't opened yet, gave that one away. I better not tell you he meets Harry Lime down there and becomes his partner in an animated sequel to The Third Man entitled Harry and Me.)

Blogs

Separated at birth 1

"Hammy" in Over the Hedge, and "Twitchy" in Hoodwinked.

The winner: Hammy, as the film switches into bullet time to travel with a seemingly normal Hammy while the rest of the world is froze-frame stationary. Which brings us to...

"Hammy" in Over the Hedge and "Fry" in Futurama, "Three Hundred Big Boys"

The winner: Philip J. Fry, saving his slo-mo friends from a fiery demise thanks to 100 cups of 31st century coffee. Also, his heroic feat aired in 2003, three years prior to OTH's premiere. (Hmmm...)

Blogs

The power of The Force and 41 cents will get your letter mailed

Saw those 'Star Wars' stamps at the PO, featuring the real-life likenesses of (along with Alec Guiness) Mark Hamill, Carrie Fischer and Harrison Ford. Excuse me, but I always heard that you had to be dead for ten years to get on a stamp.

Well, maybe the PO was looking at their careers.

Blogs

Triumph of the Penguin Will

Not Chilly Willy, but that totalitarian dude Mumble. In last year's Oscar winner Happy Feet this guy waddles along and forces an entire penguin community to give up their generations-old tradition of covering a pop song to seduce a potential mate. Yes, individuality and free will are tossed off the ice floe so that they can all dance in absolute, fascistic lockstep. This is the message the Academy of MP A&S thinks worthwhile of conveying to our children? Well fie and fiddlesticks, I say! (Actually, I say 'fie and fiddlesticks' several times a day)

Seriously, am I the only one who had problems with this film? Mumble returns from his Quest to the Human World, and in about 30 seconds of screen time bends a few million exquisitely rendered digital penguins to his will. COMBINE singing and dancing like in an old-time musical, synthesizing the old and the new? I guess that idea never occurred to George Miller. That 10-second scene in the ice cave where Mumble converts his clinically-depressed dad to his cause? Phony, phony, phony; they probably realized it was time to wrap up the picture toot-sweet.

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