Coming This Month: November 2014

 

To be honest, it’s more of “What Not to Expect This Month.” November will be packed with senior project work and I don’t have time to review movies. I know I said I would cover The Conjuring but, simply put, stuff happened. Maybe next year.

I did meet Chris Buck earlier this month for a Frozen weekend. He’s one of the nicest people you could meet. I got him to autograph my copy of Frozen and had a picture with him. I caught up with some friends each day that I hadn’t seen for a few months or more.

A few days ago, I won second place in a costume contest for our art school’s Halloween party. I went as Ash from Fantastic Mr. Fox. There were multiple compliments about how authentic the costume looked. Personally, I’d have more breathing room for the mask and a tail that doesn’t have a dye that heavily stains everything it touches. Still, it’s a great costume and I plan to keep it around for a few years.

Also, I’ve hit my “movie-a-day” mark for the year. I hit the mark in late November last year, so I’m way ahead of schedule. Then again, I didn’t start last year until late January. Now, to beat last year’s total of 402 films; I expect this will happen once the semester is over and I’ll have more time for watching movies.

Sync or Swim: Hesitate to Erase

It’s the season to watch strange and unusual movies, that much is certain. In the spirit of the season, let’s take a look at what I consider to be the strangest sync I’ve personally found, mostly because of the film in question: Eraserhead. You read that right.

Start Nine Inch Nails’ “Hesitation Marks” on the first track when “DAVID LYNCH presents” appears. Loop until the end. Found on October 10, 2014 by me.

I strongly recommend that you watch the film at least four or five times before trying it. Due to the nature of the album, the songs reference elements of the film that may or may not be present in real time.

Points of Interest

  • The main clue is the music video for “Came Back Haunted”, directed by David Lynch.
  • The track list spells the word “FADES”. Much of the film blurs/fades the line between reality and dreams.

Act I

The Eater of Dreams

  • The dark ambient nature reflects the soundscape in the film.

Copy of A

  • “I am just a copy of a copy of a copy.” The human race is a series of copies from previous generations.
  • “Pieces that were picked up on the way.” Maybe how the baby was created (nobody really knows).
  • Henry’s “copy” emerges from his mouth.

Came Back Haunted

  • Henry returns to his house, haunted by his vision from the first five minutes of the film.

Find My Way

  • “Wandered here from far away.” Henry unpacks from his journey.
  • “Pray the Lord, my soul to take.” Henry gazes at the radiator for the first time, as his saving grace lives there.
  • “I’m just trying to find my way.” Henry goes to Mary’s house, wandering through the industrial landscape.

All Time Low

  • The meeting with the parents does not go very well, probably Henry’s all-time low.
  • “Give me just a little, baby.” The mother will later inform Henry about the baby.
  • “Everything is not OK.” The awkward silence permeates the living room.

Disappointed

  • The father speaks the first verse.
  • “Can I ask you something?” The father asks Henry to carve the chickens.
  • “What did you expect?” The chicken bleeds profusely.
  • “Just get out of here.” Mary leaves the room to check on her mother.

Everything

  • “Wish me well.” Henry and Mary cry over their predicament.
  • “I am home”. Mary feeds the baby at Henry’s apartment.

Satellite

  • The planet from earlier can be described as a satellite, orbiting in space.
  • The distorted sounds happen when Henry unwraps the worm.
  • “I am inside your head.” The Man in the Planet lives on the planet, inside Henry’s head.

Various Methods of Escape

  • Mary leaves Henry to go back to her parents, escaping from the situation.

Running

  • “I’m running out of places I can hide from this.” Henry is trapped in the apartment, trying to take care of the baby.

I Would For You

  • “I only have myself to blame.” Henry sits with the baby, regretting his decision.
  • The soft piano at the end plays when the Lady in the Radiator is fully revealed.

In Two

  • The Lady in the Radiator splits the worms with her shoes in two or more steps.
  • “It’s getting harder to tell the two of you apart.” The two are reality and fantasy.
  • The screeches heard in the second refrain sound like the high-pitched squeals heard in the film.

While I’m Still Here

  • Henry, seeking an opportunity to escape, talks to the lady across from him for a favor.

Black Noise

  • The bed transforms into a pool.
  • The lady sees the child but doesn’t mind.
  • The music crescendos as they sink into the pool.

Act II

The Eater of Dreams

  • The lady vanishes as she sees the planet where The Man in the Planet (“The Eater of Dreams”) lives.

Copy of A

  • “A shadow of a shadow of a shadow.” This description could describe the Lady in the Radiator’s location.
  • “See I’m not the only one.” Henry enters the scene and steps on the stage with the Lady in the Radiator.
  • “Look what you’ve gone and done.” The screen cuts to black as Henry holds the Lady’s hands.
  • The bridge plays as the tree makes its way onto the stage.
  • “Doing everything I’m told to do.” The actor in question during the production of this surreal film.

Came Back Haunted

  • “Now I got something you have to see.” The boy brings Henry’s head to the pencil factory.
  • The pencil maker erases the “hesitation marks” as a test for the newly made pencils.
  • Henry wakes up from the dream, coming back from reality haunted.

Find My Way

  • “You were never meant to see…” The baby.
  • “Now that you have gone away.” Henry thinks about Mary and when she left.
  • “Pray the Lord my soul to take.” Henry contemplates killing his baby.

All Time Low

  • “I’ve heard all I need to know.” Henry decides to go ahead and kill the child.
  • “Your voice in _ stereo.” The baby’s cry.
  • “Everything is not OK.” The baby screams for help.
  • “Stretch across the sky.” The baby’s neck is elongated as it reaches for the door.

Disappointed

  • “Nothing’s gonna change.” The Man in the Planet futilely tries to stop the events.
  • “What did you expect?” The abrupt ending will leave viewers confused.

Highly unconventional sync for a very unconventional movie. Again, there won’t be too many spot-on connections but it’s more about the fluid state of time between the music and the events from the film. Even then, you need to be in a certain frame of mind when trying it out.

Sync grade: C+

Movie Review: Equilibrium

puppy

Nothing says dystopia like repressing emotions and creativity, as well as the need to obey. According to this film, it’ll happen in a few decades. One thing is for certain: we will always have good ol’ Ludwig van in a dystopian society.

An enforcement officer, in a world where feelings are suppressed through medication, misses a dose and sees the world in a new light.

I had not heard of this film until I noticed it was on the roster for this semester in Film Club. I heard, through various people, that this was an overlooked film. Given the recent run of dystopian films, based on books mostly catered to young adults, I thought it would be yet another film but more for adults. Within the first few minutes, I noticed traces of Fahrenheit 451 and THX 1138. I shrugged it off and figured it was best to see what else the film had to offer.

What’s interesting is that there is no futuristic technology, even though it is set in the future. When the film was released, the use of tablets with styluses wasn’t in full swing or as modern was what we have now. Televisions have been and can be large, though the preferred shape is more rectangular than square as seen in the film. It doesn’t date the film as heavily as other future films.

When the majority of an action scene is spent with gunfire, I turn off my mind and just wait for the scene to end. However, the fight choreography is interesting to look at, at least when you can see it. I haven’t seen a gun used as blunt weapon with such force and dexterity.

But why suppress emotions and creativity? Simply put, it restricts dangerous thoughts. Using pills to restrict emotions isn’t anything new, as seen in THX 1138. Unlike the aforementioned film, the feelings are more about caring for others rather than the self.

The soundtrack, while evoking some elements from The Matrix, does become repetitive and intrusive, especially during serious moments. Even when it was quiet, I felt that some scenes were better off without it.

While it does have some things to say, those sentiments have been said before in other works. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by The Matrix because of the fight choreography or from seeing other, better executed dystopian films. In the end, it was like I had taken some doses of that Prozium in the film.

5/10

Coming this Month: October 2014

Fall is finally here! Time to break out the flannel shirts and my favorite hat. Mornings with pumpkin loaf and cream cheese, evenings with cider and hot chocolate, chili season. Time to enjoy the season but prepare for the winter ahead.

In terms of films, I know that there will be a review for Equilibrium and The Conjuring for Film Club. I don’t think there will be as many Halloween film reviews like last year. If there is something I’ve seen that’s on queue for the 1001 Movies Club, then it’ll appear.

As I mentioned in the Tarzan review, Chris Buck will give a lecture for our school in a week. Saturday is a screening of Frozen (probably a sing-along) and a Q&A; Sunday is more of a lecture geared towards those interested in animation. Of course, I’ll go to both and plan on getting my copy of Frozen autographed. These moments don’t happen too often. On a similar note, Neil DeGrasse Tyson will lecture at another local university. Tickets aren’t available yet, but I imagine that they’ll sell out quickly. I do have a friend who might be able to get some tickets but, again, depends on availability.

In terms of senior project, things are going forward, albeit slowly. There have been some setbacks but I have to push forward. It’s part of life and I need to learn it as soon as I can. Some life transitions are coming and I’m aware of them, like identity and the power of independence. Change happens and will happen; I’m just doing my best to prepare for it.

Movie Review: Tarzan

 

Recently, our Film Club included this on the fall semester roster because Chris Buck, co-director for this and Frozen, will give a lecture at our school in a few weeks. I’ll provide more details later in future posts but I’d thought it’d be appropriate to have some further context for this review.

A human raised by apes meets his own kind and is torn between two worlds.

As a kid, I didn’t see Tarzan until a few years after the release. It was on one of those six-hour recordable tapes with Mulan preceding it; this tape vanished from the family collection last year for reasons I won’t get into. Aside from that, I saw it and thought it was an OK film for Disney and not necessarily a childhood favorite. I didn’t know that it was the end of the Renaissance. I grew up thinking that Disney always had great films but have since learned otherwise.

What’s immediately apparent is the detail in the scenery. Thanks to Deep Canvas, a technique used to make CGI sets look like traditional paintings, it provides a lush and rich texture to the whole film. It still holds up well today, though a careful eye will notice the difference between what is done by the computer and what is hand-drawn.

Another strong aspect is the music. Most people I know have memorized the lyrics to the songs. I’ve had moments with friends where someone will queue one of the songs and everyone in the room will sing along because why not. The instrumental sections have a strong focus on drums, typically associated with the jungle landscape. After all, this did spin off into a Broadway musical.

At the same time, I have found that even with a considerable gap between viewings that some feelings have not changed, like disliking the side characters. I never connected with Terk or Tantor as a kid and still don’t. I felt that they weren’t around adult Tarzan to support him when he needed it. It felt like it was hastily fulfilling a requirement to have at least two non-human sidekicks for the human protagonist like in some prior films, such as Mulan, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Pocahontas. At times, I forgot that they were part of the film.

Clayton’s character is a bit unfocused. Sure, we know he wants to hunt gorillas but he retreats from the story at moments where he should have some moments in the spotlight. His conclusion, even when Tarzan allows him to live, isn’t that satisfying because there was not enough time for his character to develop, apart from “I kill things for cash because I’m greedy and heartless.”

Going back to the scenery, there were moments where I couldn’t find a focal point because of the large amount of detail. One instance in particular is where Tarzan looks out to the ocean and sees the ship sail away. Even though the foliage framed the moment quite nicely, I was more focused on the leaves than the emotional moment taking place. When I did look at Tarzan, there was not enough contrast for me to clearly distinguish between him and the trees.

Within my social circle, I appear to be in the minority where I don’t love the film. I do appreciate its place within the Disney canon and some well-executed aspects. It’s not high on my list of favorite Disney films, either from the era or all-time; probably towards the middle.

6/10

Winner of Best Original Song and Technical Achievement in the Field of Animation