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Category Archives: Cinematic
I am no Trekkie. I’m not. Yes … I’ve seen all the movies. I’ve watched some of the original television series – mostly to make fun of them – and I’ve enjoyed going back through old episodes of Next Generation … mainly for the all the sexy-time undertones (or overtones.) But, I am no Trekkie. Basically I know enough to have conversations with our KC Studio editor and be dangerous to other teams at a pub quiz. Thankfully, you don’t have to be a uniform-wearing, “Phasers set to stun” kind-of-a-person to enjoy the newly released, action-packed, thrill-ride that is JJ Abrams’ second installment into the Star Trek universe.
With all the crew from the 2009 reboot coming back, Star Trek Into Darkness jumps right in and never looks back. Timelines and canon be damned, this is not the Star Trek of before. While the first film was successful, yet highly criticized by devotees of the franchise, this film is really going to piss some Prime Directive Zealots off.
Of course, there are plot lines to the film that are extremely spoilerific and by me mentioning them here, will ruin the fun. So here are the bare essentials of the story: Still brash and headstrong, Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and his team aboard the Starship Enterprise are traveling on missions and getting into trouble all throughout space. Unluckily for him, a threat he and the rest of Starfleet never considered is waiting for them right under their noses. By enacting a terrorist attack in futuristic London and potentially causing war between the Federation and the Klingons, John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) walks the line between good and evil. What are his true intentions and who is he really? Well it’s up to Kirk to find out.
And … that’s all you get.
With hilarious dialogue that I found smart, witty and near Empire Strikes Back levels, I genuinely enjoyed this film experience. Strong acting from all the principle characters with Easter eggs scattered throughout for fans of the fiction and pop culture jokes, I know mass audiences will be wolfing down popcorn and enjoying every Gorn-fearing minute of it.
In terms of the cast, the writers do a great job giving us what we want. With eight characters needing appropriate attention and purpose, I found the screen-time both balanced and interesting. Standing out above the rest is Zachary Quinto as Spock and Simon Pegg as Scotty. Yes, Karl Urban is great, once again channeling Bones and Zoë Saldana’s sleek Uhura makes being smart sexier than it already is, but in this film, it’s all Spock and Scotty. A close second is John Cho as Sulu and that really is based on one scene where he shows a level of bassassery that this actor never gets to show.
Quinto as Spock is excellent and a shining reason to see this film. While not only capturing the overall feeling of the character, Quinto also does an impressive job expressing emotion while keeping Spock’s deadpan, serious personality.
And then there’s Cumberbatch. As an adversarial-type character, Cumberbatch exudes self-confidence and commands every second he is shown on screen. Almost computer-like you can see him assessing ever detail in front of him in a way that makes everyone around him uncomfortable. And I liked it.
In terms of the action and special effects, I was blown away by the size and pace of the film. I could feel myself leaning forward with giddiness wanting more and enjoying the eye candy dancing across the screen. Were there explosions? Hell yeah! Was there running and jumping and fighting and stuff? Hell yeah! Was it loud with lens flares? Um … yeah. But so what? Above all, this is where most Trek fans are going to get annoyed. Big explosions to some equate to big dumbness and that’s not always true. Usually true. See Transformers for proof. But was Next Generation … with a Klingon (gasp) on board just like the original series … no. This is for new audiences and while clearly there are films I do not like because of these very reasons, Into Darkness is not one of those films.
While Into Darkess does borrow a great deal from another Star Trek film of the past, I enjoyed how the story brought the overall arc back to near it’s roots. Again, this is where many of devoted fans may also have some very big problems and you know what, they may be right. However, it’s clear that in trying to make this new arm of the franchise, the filmmakers do have a love and respect for the original series.
As always, there are holes in the story and as a narrative, it does sag a bit in the middle. However the solid acting, kinetic pacing and action all help keep it on a track that I believe mass audiences will love. I do, however with the camera was a little more stationary. Critics give Michael Bay a bunch of crap form constantly keeping the camera in motion and in that sense, I feel Abrams deserves similar criticism. Along with that, clearly this is a project Damon Lindelof worked on because there a few holes in logic that would make Spock raise an eyebrow.
Overall, I really enjoyed this film. It’s a space adventure and everything that Episodes 1, 2, and 3 of Star Wars was not. Building on the success of the 2009 film, Abrams has added solid addition to the franchise. Some will call Star Trek Into Darkness a dumbed-down version of a beloved series that is to be worshiped forevermore … and that’s just not true. At its center, there is a wonderful focus on friendship, the importance of the team and the capacity of sacrifice that people will give for the one’s they love. Plus you get explosions, a Klingon or two, Tribbles and a few reveals that, while may seem obvious to some, pay off well in the end. Audiences will love the crew and leave highly entertained.
Lastly … the 3D. If you know me … you have heard me complain countless times that I dislike 3D. It’s a ploy to get people to pay more for an overrated experience. Since 3D found its way back on the scene, I have only had a handful of good experiences … Avatar, Hugo, the Avengers, Life of Pi and maybe, possible, kind of The Hobbit. With that being said, I was very impressed with the 3D on this film. It was clear, crisp and added an enhanced to the viewing. I still think it’s overrated but, I would recommend seeing this film in that format.
4 out of 5 Red Shirts on an Away Mission
Nope. Not at all. Not even a little. Maybe for a second but then, poof, gone. Boring. Fake. Not even close to past work. Uninteresting with horrible editing.
Yup … that’s what I think.
I could go on with sentences like these – if that’s even what you could call them. It would be easy. And yet, even in this hateful prose style, my review would still have more substance than Baz Luhrmann’s newest film experience The Great Gatsby.
To say that I did not enjoy this experience … would be an understatement.
Strictly Ballroom, William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge each hold solid places in my “filmophile” heart. I understand the criticisms and agree with some, but the overall experiments in terms of color, music and acting all made for an unusual and interesting movie watching experience that I, still to do this day enjoy.
Not the case here.
With source material that drowns itself in the excess of wealth that New York was seeing in the early 1900s and the flowing booze of Prohibition, the visual potential of Luhrmann’s over-the-top, sensory overload of sound and color style would seemingly be the perfect choice. Alas, special effects that look fake-as-hell (and by fake I mean really bad-fake), a soundtrack that is extremely distracting and an overall heavy handedness in terms of dialogue and acting that treats the audience like a bunch of idiots all contribute to a film experience that was both disappointing and irritating.
Flat and emotionless, the actors and actresses are pushed into scenes that seemingly have no focus and no real meaning. Which is an extreme shame considering the cast that Luhrmann and his team have brought together. Leonardo DiCaprio, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher, Tobey Maguire and Carey Mulligan. Really. Do I need to say more?
DiCaprio alone is usually worth the cost of admission. I mean, come one. As the title character, DiCaprio was the perfect casting choice. Classically handsome, strong acting chops and that ability to pull off social arrogance had me convinced that this was his chance at Oscar contention after being passed over so many times before. I was wrong. A poor script and worse direction took that away. Tobey Maguire, with his … his … well, whatever … should have been great as the wide-eyed Nick Carraway. And yet … no. Again, a poor script and, well his inability to be a narrator ruined that. On and on, it’s so easy to give give kudos and cheers to the cast for past work, but in this film they are left stranded by their leader with clearly no sense of how to either emote the scenes they in or what thematically they should be focusing on for their characters.
Yes this film is based on F. Scott Fitgerald’s classic (some would say in terms of story I would say only in terms of age) novel of the same name, so criticizing the overall story is a little unfair, but, how the director chooses to represent that story is another matter entirely.
Let’s talk about the visuals. Flat and horrible. Nothing near the splendor of Moulin Rouge, Gatsby just plods from scene to scene with effects that want to be cool but end up just looking more and more fake as the film goes on. Yeah, I get it. The visuals are part of the theme that Gatsby as a character represents … yes. Fake. Yes. But I can put my dog’s paws in paint and say that the tracks he makes are meaningful themes on an insignificant animal in terms of the overall existence of life on planet Earth but that doesn’t make it high art and that doesn’t mean I deserve to waste people’s time by making them suffer through the presentation.
And then … the music. What the hell is up with the music? My apologies to my keyboard but with furious anger I type these words … WHAT THE HELL?!? Layered noise that added nothing to the overall experience pounded my eardrums that gave me nothing but a few chuckles and resounding headache.
And that’s not even the least of it.
I could go on and on, but why. This film has already taken up enough of my life and seriously, I would rather have been changing diapers and folding laundry then spending my time being bored listening to Maguire’s narration tell me about what I was already watching while (fingers beginning to tense with irritation while typing again) wispy words in handwritten script also flows across the screen making you read what Maguire is describing while it is happening.
Oh … oh! Do not see this movie in 3D. Eye-numbingly bad. It’s obvious that the film was not made with the 3D in mind while it was being filmed and the transfer is awful.
Should of … could of … would of. That’s all this film left me with.
2 out of 5 Green Lights Bobbing in the Water
A Film Review of Iron Man 3 by Alexander Morales
Everyone loves Tony Stark. I mean, what’s not to love … right? He’s smart, funny, handsome and worth piles and piles of money. Stark is the dude at the party you want to be seen with and the guy most girls want to go home to. He’s awesome. Fantastic. Yes, his ego is pretty much completely out of control and his lack of appropriate behavior is near childlike while he dashes from person to person forgetting who they are, playing with their emotions like a cat finding a small mouse to terrorize before gobbling it down with a smile … but come on … what’s not to like … right?
Well wrong. Apparently there is a lot of stuff to hate about Tony Stark and in director Shane Black’s (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) first flight into the Marvel Universe, we get to see just how much and what lengths some people may go for a little revenge.
Based loosely on the 2005 Extremis story arc from the Iron Man comic books, the new film once again unites Robert Downey Jr. (Stark), Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts, Stark Industries CEO and love interest for our hero) and Don Cheadle (Colonel James Rhodes, pilot of the War Machine Armor and friend) against a whole new level of terrorism.
So here’s the skinny: After a quick flashback to New Years Eve 1999, we find Tony being Tony. Boozing it up, being the guy everyone knew prior to the events in the first Iron Man movie. While putting the moves on young scientist Dr. Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall), an awkward Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) approaches with some new ideas. However, Tony being his usual brash self, takes the opportunity to show how clever he is and before breakfast the next morning potentially burns bridges against two of the top minds in the world.
Fast forward to now and the world has a whole person to be afraid of – The Mandarin (a remarkable and wonderful Ben Kingsley), a human horror that has taken shape in the shadow of the alien invasion thwarted by the Avengers in New York. In seemingly a passionate hate for the United States, the Mandarin is producing acts or terror throughout the world, all targeting U.S. forces or civilians.
At the same time, back from outer space … literally, Tony is having some issues. Panic attacks and a fear of not being prepared for every possible threat have made him a bit of a tech-hermit much to the dismay of Pepper. Unluckily for Tony, into Stark Industries walks a now, unawkward Killian who has more than new technology that he’d like to show off to Tony’s love interest.
And then … boom. Explosions, mayhem, personal vendettas get explained, terrorism and more happen all culminating in perhaps the best individual hero story that Marvel has produced to date.
This film is solid. Entertaining, tense during the action scenes, funny and engaging are all the top layer ways to describe the overall film. As always, Downey, Jr. is spot on as the quick-witted hero and with great performances by secondary characters like Pearce and Kingsley, the film feels well-rounded and smart. At the same time, the dialogue throughout the film is strong for nearly every character including the random bad guy goons making all people involved seem more real and somewhat intelligent. Why is this important you ask? Well, because the old, tired scene where the hero is caught and surrounded by armed guards becomes a memorable, hilarious sequence where throw-away guards are able to be people and not just cardboard tough-guys who are there just to be pulverized by the hero. It’s the little things that matter and this film is, for the most part, full of them.
Along with that, in comparison to Iron Man and Iron Man 2, this film’s structure and story is much more compelling and better. It, unlike its predecessors, does not fall apart during its climaxes and, as a whole, better humanizes the hero as a character. This continues to other characters and even adds some wonderful twists that, in my opinion, ground the villain in realism that I both appreciated and loved.
However, not everything is all shiny with the armor. Like always, I think the film is too long and with action scenes that are breath-tauntingly fun, there is just too much time in between them. Along with that a new side character is introduced and to my dismay, it’s a kid. Yuck. Not to say that Ty Simpkins is a bad actor, but the story seemingly forces him into it and everything about him feels convenient, heavy-handed and at times irritating. Seriously, out of every kid that Tony Stark can bump into, it’s the one that has an understanding of electronics and physics? The dialogue between them saves the experience, but for me, too much, too long and too yuck.
Also, while very fun to watch, there is a battle that is very much a rehash from Iron Man 2 and, in a way, kind of pussifies the integrity of the Iron Man armor and makes you wonder how Tony’s lasted so long during the Chitauri invasion from the Avengers.
It’s only after over-thinking and reflecting on the film after the credits roll that I realized there are a few more holes in the script that, in the end could have made the experience so much better. I won’t go into detail here because they involve major plot lines and may spoil the fun, but I will say that if this film is the fist step to what Marvel Comics is calling Phase 2 for the film franchise, they missed out on including more from the Avengers and overall character universe.
With that being said, mass audiences are going to eat this film up with a spoon and ask for seconds. The inclusion of all the different types of armor is a toy and marketing goldmine that Disney is already capitalizing on with the Hall of Armor exhibit at Disneyland. Solid acting, a quality, compelling story with wonderful dialogue and fun action sequences will make this the summer movie to beat. With few gripes and more good, fans of the series will enjoy the film and even hardcore nerds will put down their 20-sided die to give it the praise it needs. There a few character choices that some may hate, but I found to be refreshing and brave. On a cold, blustery May day in Kansas City, this film is a great way to get you out of the weather and into a warm, action adventure.
3.75 out of 5 giant, stuffed bunny rabbits
Ink magazine and The Record Machine, a pioneering, homegrown indie record label, are pleased to announce the kickoff of Ink’s Middle of the Map Film Fest presented by KC Chevy Dealers. This year’s title sponsor is Chipotle.
Ink’s Middle of the Map Fest expands this year to include its first film fest taking place May 1 – 5 at the Alamo Drafthouse at 14th and Main in downtown Kansas City, Mo. The Middle of the Map Film Fest will screen a diverse cross section of curated films. Special guests and fanfare parties will also be hosted throughout the fest. Events include local band Soft Reeds playing a David Bowie cover set before a screening of the 80′s classic film Labyrinth.
The fest’s closing party will feature a band playing as Sex Bob-omb, the fictional band from the cult hit Scott Pilgrim Vs The World before a screening of that film. The first 50 badge holders to arrive at 5pm on Wednesday night, May 1, will win passes to either the opening night of Iron Man 3 on Thursday, May 2 or a pre-screening of The Great Gatsby on Monday, May 6.
With 25+ films of all kinds; feature films, independent flicks, award-winning movies, rockumentaries, documentaries, fanfare parties, Alamo Drafthouse experiences and shorts programs, Ink’s Middle of the Map Film Fest is simply aimed at rewarding audiences with excellent cinematic experiences. After the screenings of locally produced films Corporate FM, The Equation and We Are Superman, there will be Q&A sessions with the cast and directors.
Director Michael Mohan will present his film Save The Date, starring Alison Brie, Lizzy Caplan, Martin Starr. Chipotle is presenting Eating Alabama, a film about an Alabama family that tries to eat nothing but locally grown food. Cyclists are encouraged to make use of Alamo’s Bike Valet to see Where the Trail Ends, an insanely beautiful Free Ride Mountain Bike film from Red Bull.
This year’s film fest line-up includes:
Labyrinth, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Miami Connection, Save The Date (with director Michael Mohan), Awful Nice, Andrew Bird: Fever Year, Minecraft: The Story of Mojang, This is Martin Bonner, A Band Called Death, War Witch, Greetings From Tim Buckley, Somebody Up There Likes Me, The Lesser Blessed, The Ghost of Piramida, The Kitchen, Picture Day, The History of Future Folk, In the Deep Shade, Eating Alabama, Another Version of the Truth, KCAI Shorts Program, UMKC Shorts Program, We are Superman, The Equation, Corporate FM, The Rep, Where The Trail Ends and I Declare War.
Lineup and guests subject to change.
Tickets are available for purchase online atmiddleofthemapfest.com
- $25 for a five-day pass
- $10 for an individual screening at the door
Advance tickets will go off sale on May 1, but will be available at the door.
Alamo Parking Information
H&R Block parking garage at 13th and Main – after 6pm on weekdays, after noon on Saturday and all day Sunday – all free with Alamo validation
Cosentino’s Downtown parking garage at 13th and Main – free parking Sunday to Wednesday and $2 parking Thursday to Saturday with Alamo validation
There is also plenty of free street-parking starting after 6 p.m.
About Ink’s Middle of the Map Fest
Ink’s Middle of the Map Fest annually curates and cultivates the unique arts and creative culture of the Midwest, bringing together a sense of community in local and national talent in an annual festival featuring music, forum and film.
Tickets are available for purchase online at middleofthemapfest.com.
By Kellie Houx, Editor | Photos Courtesy Judith G. Levy
Multidisciplinary artist Judith G. Levy’s film on envy may resonate with a few artists and others who struggle with their own envious feelings.
In contrast and almost with a sort of wink and nod from Levy, the process to make the short film represented the epitome of benevolence and a spirit of collaboration. “It was interesting to consider this topic as I gained lots of support. All over, this is such a supportive, cooperative and collaborative community,” she says.
NV in KC: a Story about Artists and Envy in Kansas City started with Levy receiving an Andy Warhol Foundation Rocket Grant award. The program, made possible by Charlotte Street Foundation and the KU Spencer Museum of Art, with funding from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, “fuels the energy of the Kansas City regional visual arts community by encouraging and supporting work that is innovative and
inventive and engages an audience outside of established arts venues, museums, theaters, art galleries or arts districts. The grants enable artists to take new risks with their work …”
Levy developed the full script and had many of the more than 30 performers and crew already in mind. Some were artists, musicians, actors and neighbors she already knew. Then she tapped some arts leaders in town to provide some of the expert voices for the story and to create documentary-like interviews that capture the complexity of a challenging emotion, Levy says. “I play an artist, Lee J. Ross, who is working on a conceptual art project about envy, and in spite of its limitations, my character sees her project as a worthy one. Throughout the course of the film, Lee J., inadvertently upsets her friends, when she was hoping to enlighten them.” “The topic of envy is a challenging one,” says Levy, “and that is why I wanted to create something that is entertaining, has humor and also addresses an emotion we rarely talk about.”
The fictional artist that Levy has created shares her home, her studio, her friends, her therapy sessions, throughout the film, as she tries to understand why her project isn’t achieving what she’d hoped it would accomplish. The arts leaders that perform in this film are Dr. Julián Zugazagoitia, CEO and president of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art; Sherry Leedy, director at Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art; Raechell Smith, H&R Block Artspace director/curator; Spencer Museum director Saralyn Reece Hardy; and Rachael Cozad, former director of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and current director of Rachael Cozad Fine Art.
Levy filmed from February 2012 and into the fall, working around people’s schedules and her other obligations. The film is required to have a public showing to fulfill part of the Rocket Grant requirements. To that end, Levy is offering cast and crew screenings that are open to the public on May 2 at 7:30 p.m. at the Tivoli in Westport and on May 9 at 7 p.m. at the Lawrence Arts Center. The events are free, but reservations are required for the May 2 screening. To receive free reservations, visit www.nvinkc.com.
“I felt like I had to define the words envy and jealousy, and I do this in the film. It’s really interesting to explore those two,” she says. “I don’t want to give too much away, but there is some drama in the mix of this invented narrative.” Along with Levy, who stars in the film, some of the local actors who have key roles are De De DeVille, Carol Holstead, Erin McGrane, Shannon Michalski, Garry Noland, and Jaimie Warren. “I consider this a community filmmaking project.”
Levy says that she was inspired to make this film, because, “I wanted to write a story that would be entertaining while it explores a difficult, universal emotion. The challenge is to learn to use envy and make it productive. Sure envy can make us feel badly about ourselves, because it often causes feelings of resentment and shame, but it also can be a tool to identify goals.”
Levy says she is “grateful to the Andy Warhol Foundation for funding Rocket Grants and to The Charlotte Street Foundation and The Spencer Museum of Art for administering this program.” She also believes that she “would not have pushed herself to make a film that is almost an hour long, without the support and funding.”
Exploring emotion among a wide range of people is nothing new to Levy. Last year, she had a sort of short film integrated into a piece of art. A kitchen table is set with a place for person to sit in and 18 different people greet the participant, exploring culture and the association to food. The piece is titled You Never Dine Alone.
“No matter what I am working on, I want to explore challenging issues,” she says. “I want to look outward toward things like how our cities grow or racism. Then I want to turn inward and look at how we got to be who we are as a culture and as a nation. Then the work has to be accessible and engaging. Getting the Rocket Grant helped so much so I could address the issue of envy.”
NV in KC could be entered into film festivals, she says. In 2012, her short video, On the Seventh Day, was screened at seven national and international film festivals, including the New York City International Film Festival. She has a studio in the Crossroads and is currently working on an installation, Memory Cloud, for a fall group exhibition at the University of Rochester in New York. She is also continuing her ongoing Panoramic Postcard series. “These postcards are an amalgamation of other postcards, but with a commentary that the viewer has to see. I am hoping for an array of 12 cards when I am done,” she says. “And I have a kernel of an idea for another short film.”
Wait … I think I’ve seen this before. Post apocalyptic future … check. Robots doing clean-up on a desolated and deserted planet … check. Tom Cruise doing stuff that Tom Cruise does … double check.
Yup I’ve seen it before. But, ah heck, I’ll watch it again.
Directed by Joseph Kosinski, the visual mastermind behind Tron:Legacy, Oblivion brings together a hodgepodge of nearly ever successful sci-fi story and theme that we have been witness to over the last, oh say, 25 years or so. Based on a unpublished graphic novel of the same name, Oblivion is highly successful in certain aspects, but falls short in a few others. Luckily, the good stuff easily makes up for the bad.
Picture this: the year is 2077 and Earth is a quiet wasteland, watched over by the last two humans on the planet. In the aftermath of an intergalactic war, humans have won but alas, have had to leave our precious planet due to the fallout. Now, giant moisture machines draw necessary resources from the sea and are closely guarded by Tech 49, Jack Harper (Tom Cruise), his communications officer, Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) and their intimidating, well armed army of flying drones. Their mission: Protect the resources getting drawn from the planet by keeping the drones working. Their only contact: A daily video feed from Sally (Melissa Leo), the missions control officer who is housed on the giant “Death Star”-like way station called the Tet, that stores the resources prior to sending them off to the newly inhabited planet or moon. With relief coming in two weeks, the affects of a memory wipe (a tool used to aid the duo in keeping focused on the mission) are starting to wear off and Jack is starting to remember something … or someone. Like all good things, something bad happens and Jack finds out there is much more to his mission than meets the eye.
As a leading man, you can’t get any better than Tom Cruise. Seriously, the man is 50 and looks like I want to look. He’s charismatic, likeable and, like always, he plays the confused hero perfectly. Coupled with the highly sexual Riseborough, the two play off each other nicely – him using his instincts to succeed on the ground and her for keeping him … ahem … stimulated above. It’s not until more of the human cast is introduced that the film begins to waiver.
With little dialogue (for most of the film) the soundtrack crafted for the film is out of this world (sigh … did I really just type that?). Music aficionados will probably say different, and while not quite near the level of what Daft Punk did for Tron: Legacy, I still contend that the score by Anthony Gonzalez (M83) and Joe Trapanese is strong. Coupled with the spectacular sound effects – specifically from the drones – the audience is given a mood enhancing background that becomes as much a character as it’s physical counterparts.
At the same time, the technology and special effects are consistently strong. While clearly inspired by the video games Portal and Portal 2, the look and feel of the film is gorgeous. While futuristic white and grey have been over-used, the overall designs fit well together and luckily, will never go out of fashion. I especially liked the drones. Like I said before, the sound effects from the drones are fantastic and the way they interact, move and sound in the environment is both fun to watch and menacing at the same time. When I saw it draw its weapons for the first time, I immediately thought of the Enforcement Droid 209 (ED-209) from the Robocop franchise.
And then there’s the action. While few and far between, when the action heats up, it really gets going. Always at the core of the action, the drones add a very high level of tension due to their lack of emotion and every time they spring into action, your eyes are glued to the screen. At the same time, as the movie evolves, the tension and emotion, surprisingly grows and while most people will be able to figure out what’s really happening 10 minutes into the film, I still found myself happily interested in the development of Jack and his his motivations.
The film is just way too long. We get it … he flies in his ship. We get it … he remembers something. We get it. Move along please. Over and over the audience is bashed over the head with scenes of him traveling or him remembering a moment on the Empire State Building and it just gets old. Maybe this was a device to represent the monotonous aspects of the mission but damn … move along please.
At the same time and as I mentioned before, once other humans are introduced, the dialogue and overall intrigue kind of goes away. I was fascinated by the relationship between Jack and Victoria, and this neat triangle thing happens half way through the film. However, when Morpheous … I mean Morgan Freeman shows up with Jaime Lannister … shoot, did it again … I mean Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, stuff gets convoluted for a bit and honestly, I just started to lose interest. Luckily those incredible action scenes happen, and I found myself right back in.
Lastily, the story is … a bit weak. Not in terms of its overall arch, but in terms of holes. I can’t get really into it without spoiling the plot, but if people have negative opinions of the film, the story will get the brunt of it.
Nothing. There’s nothing ugly about this film. It looks good, sounds good and most of all it will fit well into a season of big-budget movies.
While not perfect, Oblivion is a solid outing for Kosinski. Cruise keeps the epic from getting out of control and grounded in belief while the supporting special effects and score heighten the experience. As the film progresses, other human characters kind of get in the way, but overall still an entertaining movie experience. Critics will dissect for not being terribly original and for its transparent story, but audiences will be kinder and find more enjoyment from this futuristic tale.
3.5 out 5 Stuffed Gorillas Seemingly Just a Little Dirty and Hardly Worn Out After 60 Some Years
When you say the words Evil and Dead together … extremely specific things come to mind. For many horror fans, the first is, of course, Ash. The iconic, tortured hero played proudly by the one and only Briscoe County Junior – Bruce Campbell – “The Chin” himself. Secondly and strangely, after that, it’s love. Love for a movie that, since originally being released has inspired countless fans and professionals to mimic, gush over and above all watch and rewatch and throw parties over and recite dialogue from and laugh and be horrified and … well, you get the idea.
For those of you unaware or a little lost in the mythos, Evil Dead (1983), was one of powerhouse director and producer Sam Raimi’s (Spider-Man, Oz the Great and Powerful) early works. Low budget, full of schtick and completely bonkers, this was appointment television after midnight for kids like me. True story – as a kid, I once set my alarm to wake me up 10 minutes before Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 came on Cinemax at 2 a.m. so that I could sneak downstairs and get lost in the carnage.
Fast-forward years later and of course the Hollywood remake machine gets refueled, refired and reworked for a whole new generation of horror fans. Luckily (and unluckily … weird how this happens) back for another run at the ole cabin in the woods is Sam Raimi, this time as an executive producer, with newcomer Fede Alvarez at the helm.
Okay, so it’s a remake … yada, yada … what’s it about? Well, it’s about 5 kids, a bad book and one idiot that decides not to follow directions. Something gets woken up … and bad things start to happen. Really bad things. Enjoy.
Haven’t we’ve seen this before? I mean, isn’t that the basis for almost every horror film out there. Bad decisions lead to bad things?
Well … yeah … but it’s Evil Dead … So … you know. Hush.
Besides, this time out, with a much larger budget and a fan-base itching for more, more, more, Alvarez ups the gore to a new level and tries to push the envelope in terms of what his poor victims can take.
Filled with cringe-inducing moments overflowing with spurting blood, chunky demon/zombie vomit and nail gun wounds, I couldn’t help myself but giggle nervously as more and more pain was dished out to the young quintet. This film is not for everyone. While mass audiences will swarm looking for the next big thing, this is the kind of horror and gruesome imagery that only a select hub of people can enjoy and happily, I am one of them.
Filling out the cast is a group that some people will recognize but most people won’t. Unfortunately, in a film like this, there is only one or two characters that really matter so luckily, everyone does their parts effectively. Along with that, instead of just wandering to place filled with evil or deciding to go on a little trip to, quite possible, the worst place to relax, the filmmakers have given the young offerings a reason to be there and best of all a reason to not get the hell out of there right away when the bloody poop hits the fan. Smart.
However there are two places that I think this film falls short. The style with which the film is made and the last act of the film. Clearly, Alvarez is a fan of the original. At the same time, it’s clear that he is extremely talented. The film looks great. Technically sound with solid pacing – for most of the film – this version of Evil Dead would be a good horror film on its own. However, throughout the film are techniques that are very specific to Raimi’s style of filmmaking and sadly, I think it actually holds the new director back a little. Immediately a certain tone is set for the film and at times, I feel as though these particular techniques unbalance and undermine the director’s work. Nostalgically, I understand why they were used – but for me, they just didn’t fit in this new vision.
In terms of the second act, it’s just a little too long. I’m all for more, more, more, but (and please note that I am not giving any spoilers away) but at the end a decision is made for a character that can best be described as and then, and then, and then. It’s gets a little too long for me and not as satisfying when the end credits started to roll.
Overall, yes, please check this movie out. As executive producer, I believe that this is the film Raimi wanted to originally make. Over the top, shocking at times and completely gruesome, the remake of Evil Dead is enjoyable, is worth of the iconic title and will be in every horror fan’s collections. While perhaps not at as groundbreakingly jaw dropping as the original proved to be (in its time), this version is solid entry into the horror genre and a fantastic outing for a new director like Alvarez.
3.9 out of 5 dead hanging cat corpses
Creative Manager Ryan Davis is sure the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema will be ready to capture and enrapture movie patrons who attend the Kansas City FilmFest April 10 -14.
The Alamo chain purchased the Main Street location from AMC in the spring of 2012, closed June 20, 2012 and reopened later in the year. Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas, popular in Texas, now has locations in Colorado and Virginia as well. Alamo is known for the recent launch of Drafthouse Films, a new film distribution label and plans to extend its theaters and unique programming philosophy to additional markets across the United States. Davis says the film label gives Alamo that kindred spirit to other filmmakers and film festivals. “Drafthouse Films is dedicated to scouring the globe in search of amazing, challenging and unique films that we are passionate about sharing with a wide audience.”
“There’s full dining service in all the theaters now and a larger menu,” Davis says. “We see going to the movies as an event. It’s meant to be like the 1940s where there was no advertising before the movies and the things people saw were relevant to their lives and the movies.” The Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, the first, is known for its own film festival, the Fantastic Fest which showcases eight days of offbeat cinema from independents, international filmmakers and major Hollywood Studios.
“We are excited to show off what we have and we can cater to every generation. We are bringing in classics such as Dial M For Murder. Then we have teamed with The Kansas City Art Institute to bring folks Film School, which takes a KCAI professor who facilitates a film showing and elicits discussion minus the credit fees. Kids Camp offers films for younger movie lovers. The film festival crowd will find a home here too. It’s simply a haven for the movie lover.”
Davis says the filmgoers’ experience is the number one goal. “It’s about our presentation. We change the bulbs often in the projectors to ensure top picture quality. There is the sound surrounding the patrons. We know that people get lost in the movies and the backbone of the experience is our no talking or texting policy.”
A fan coming to the Kansas City FilmFest will receive:
1. An experience like no other as they watch directors and
actors introduce the films. “You stand in line with people who really are your peers because you both love film.”
2. Find some great choices in food. Davis prefers the Royale with Cheese.
3. Come with high expectations of more than popcorn and candy
4. Find a film or two – shorts or feature length – then find the filmmaker and make a friend.
Film director Patrick Rea and screenwriter Amber Rapp are hoping their short film, Wrong Number, has the right stuff to make it into the Kansas City FilmFest.
The festival runs April 10-14 at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Mainstreet. Last year, Rea’s horror/suspense feature, Nailbiter, had its premiere at the hometown film festival before it gained a following at horror film festivals across the United States. Rea estimates the film has been seen at more than 40 festivals and several horror conventions. Rea won Best Director and/or Best Feature Film awards in several film festivals in 2012, including Shriekfest, Chicago Fear Fest and AMC Theaters KC Film Fest. Nailbiter will be distributed through Lionsgate Home Video/Grindstone in the late spring.
His most recent shorts include Hell Week, Next Caller and Do Not Disturb. SenoReality Pictures won its second Heartland Emmy for the short, Get Off My Porch. In 2009, Rea was co-director on the Jake Johanssen, I Love You comedy special, which aired on SHOWTIME throughout 2010. The comedy special can be seen on Netflix. Along with Wrong Number, Rea has also wrapped a short film titled Rhino, starring Malcolm
Goodwin (A&E’s Breakout Kings) and Keith Loneker (Lakeview Terrace). He hopes Rhino might find a place in this year’s Kansas City Film Fest.
“I am so proud of Nailbiter. It was only on the film fest circuit for about a month last year before we had a distribution company in place. Last year, the Kansas City Women in Film and Television had a script contest and Amber’s Wrong Number was a finalist. It was then part of a staged reading,” Rea says. “It just appealed to me so last year’s film fest was a big hit in my book.” The evening of April 11 this year will be dedicated to films directed and/or written by women, Rapp says. She hopes her piece, directed by Rea, Wrong Number, is shown as well as last year’s screenwriting winner, Jennifer Friend, whose piece, Rest of Her, has also been shot and ready for viewing. Friend is another local filmmaker. The staged readings for the winning script and the finalists will be that evening too.
Not bad for a guy who had to couch surf for a few years as a fresh college graduate, hoping to make films. He attended the University of Kansas film school. Along with one of his best friends, Ryan S. Jones, the move into filmmaking was rocky, but one where the trek has been ever forward moving. “Sure there is a big learning curve, but I have been fortunate to »»
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have really talented people around me. As an example, there’s my long-time cinematographer Hanuman Brown-Eagle.” His favorite film is Raiders of the Lost Ark. “As a kid, I was told not to watch horror films, but I would sneak to watch them. Horror films held an allure and they still do.”
Rea and Rapp enjoy film festivals. “Festivals build word of mouth. They create a fan base while the directors are hoping to find a distributor. The trick is to get the movie out there and get it played as much as possible,” Rea says. “When it hits the DVD market, people want it.” Social media is also a big friend to independent filmmakers. Reviews start to spread and bloggers can create a buzz, Rea says. “Of course, the other joy of playing in your hometown means friends and family can come see your work. They can see your work on a big screen and you can hear their immediate reactions.” When Wrong Number played at the Carmel Film Festival, the short was part of a collection of horror films. “It’s the sort of story that has elements of a thriller so I suppose it fit. I was totally
thrilled to be part of the festival. Watching the shorts side by side, I feel my film stood with the competition,” Rapp says.
Film festivals also enjoy programming shorts. “A feature film can take years, but a short can be shot in a day or two with editing a first cut down in a couple of weeks. I also get a chance to work with folks who are like family to me. As an example, Wrong Number stars Cinnamon Schultz and Joicie Appell; both are local and really talented. Joicie was in Nailbiter too. My wife Kristin serves as art director. Michelle Davidson has been an actress, director and co-producer. As I said, I am lucky to work with talented people,” Rea says.
Shorts also keep him excited. “There’s almost instant gratification. I like telling short stories that translate into short films. These films are also easier to be part of the film festival circuit. We create a relationship with these film festivals. It’s been close to a decade so we don’t have to keep introducing ourselves.”
Rapp and Rea filmed another short at the end of January titled I Do. “The joy of working together is finding someone who shares that same vision with you,” Rapp says. “I have gained friendships because I have pursued screenwriting, co-producing and co-chairing this year’s screenwriting contest.”
Rapp feels like she is starting her second chapter with screenwriting and film work. She initially was a design consultant for a computer networking company. Then she left to start a family, but soon her three children will all be in school full time. Being a finalist last year has opened her world to resources and networking. “With the staged readings, we find actors for our films and the actors love it too.” Submissions this year are coming in from places as varied as Canada, Washington State to Washington D.C.
Wrong Number germinated for years in Rapp’s mind. She remembered a co-worker who tried to find a boyfriend, but actually claimed a boyfriend after a wrong phone call. “That chance encounter can spur amazingly intimate conversations. Think about sharing something personal with the stranger in line at the grocery store. It’s similar to me.” Of course, both Rea and Rapp have strong, if not twisted senses of humor. “The sweetness of the film ends with a twist. When it screened, I have heard people say they wanted more. The beauty of a short is to allow the audience to create the ending themselves.”
As a woman, Rapp know that getting her house in order is important, especially having a clean sink with not a dirty dish in sight. “Patrick understood that aspect of beauty as well,” she says. “That’s why he is filming I Do later in January. I am continuing to round out my portfolio. Shorts don’t make money but they are a beautiful creative experience and exercise. They become a calling card. It’s a lot like training for a marathon. You start with shorts and learn to flex your muscles and build up stamina so if you want to tackle a full-length feature, you know what you are getting into.”
Rapp says, “You can be one of the most talented writers or directors, but if you don’t see it through and actually put a feature or short out, there’s really nothing to say. I am passionate about writing.” She also believes in the one-in-a-million idea. “I was writing a few pages of a script not that long ago and now I am deeply involved in film. That’s my one-in-a-million story. You have to love film and screenwriting.” Like Rapp, Rea sees success not in dollar signs, but in a career that is constant. “However, sometimes the uncertainty keeps you going. It keeps you moving.”
The historic Armour Theatre of North Kansas City, Mo is one of the few remaining neighborhood theatres in the Kansas City area. Like all theatres large and small, it must change its projection systems to the new Digital systems, or go dark. Unlike the big theatre multiplex chains who will be receiving 75% of the cost of the conversion from the major Hollywood Studios, many of the small independents such as the Armour must foot the bill on their own. Many of the small independents will go dark this year. The Armour intends to show movies in its unique setting well into the 21st century.
The time has come. After 100 years of projecting on 35mm film, the studios will be ceasing the delivery of movies on film, and convert completely to digital this year. The last days of 35mm film are upon us and we are now scheduled to have two brand new projectors installed in March 2013. But the cost of these projectors is a staggering $110,000. The theatre is operated by locals Adam Roberts, Brent Miller, and Butch Rigby, the independent operator of Screenland Theatres.
Therefore, the Armour is launching a “Kickstarter” campaign to help offset the enormous costs of the conversion.
Like other Screenland Theatres, the Armour sat empty for many years until Butch Rigby came and renovated the classic 1928 theater as part of a revitalization of Historic Downtown North Kansas City The theater plays first run films, as well as classics such as Casablanca and The Breakfast Club. It is also home to occasional live comedy (Judah Friedlander) as well as live music on occasion (Dave Stephens Orchestra). The unique amenities aren’t limited to expanded food and beverage service and recliner seating, but also includes a staff that is there because they are passionate about movies. The Armour brings to the community a real example of a classic cinema experience.
Thus a Kickstarter campaign to keep the flickering image on the screen. The campaign is designed to offer a variety of great options. As opposed to simply seeking donations, the drive will be focused on selling a variety of entertainment packages in order to raise the funds necessary to retire the costs of the conversion.
The way Kick Starter works, is the people who are interested in keeping this theater as a viable alternative to megaplexes can “help” in a variety of ways. Most of the packages include multi- ticket and food/beverage buys, but many include actual pieces of film and handwritten thank you notes. Finally, we will be offering naming rights for everything from the small theater to the entire building.
So, if you can, please help in keeping this historic, one of a kind theater alive and kicking for years to come! http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/screenland/help-armour-go-digital-before-we-go-dark
Butch Rigby, Brent Miller and Adam Roberts
Review by Joseph Hagen & Jenny Memmott
As the lights went down and the opening strains of the film Les Misérables rumbled through the theater, my fiancée leaned over and whispered, “I have been waiting to see this movie my entire life.” She, as someone who has spent their life obsessively listening to the musical and attending every possible stage performance of the show, represents a good majority of rabid individuals who have waited years for a film version of the beloved musical to be released. However, creating a film version of a musical as hallowed as Les Misérables is tricky, as the expectations are incredibly high. Fortunately, Tom Hooper succeeds (for the most part) in translating this musical to the big screen and in the process, gives us a gritty, sweeping, challenging, emotional and fresh version of the musical that should leave all Les Misérables fans (and non-fans) satisfied.
Let’s start with the good. Firstly, Tom Hooper’s vision and conceptualization of the musical is incredible. The directing is absolutely inspired. The world Hooper creates in Les Misérables is all at once beautiful, gritty, and at times, challenging. The beautiful people in the film are certainly lovely, but Hooper does not shy away from showing the poor and downtrodden characters of the film as realistically as possible; they are dirty, diseased, emaciated and ugly. With frequent tight shots of the actors singing, it is impossible not to get sucked into the emotionalism of the film. Much has been made of Hooper’s decision to let the actors sing live in the film. I feel that this was a genius choice: the actors’ performances feel genuine and very much in the moment.
I cannot write this review without mentioning the performances of both Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway. Hugh Jackman IS Jean Valjean. Aside from singing the role capably, he absolutely embraces this role and makes Valjean’s journey in the film believable. You can see every emotion in Jackman’s tired eyes and vulnerable face. I have to admit that in his last scene, I was wiping away a tear. As for Anne Hathaway, there is no other word to describe her performance other than devastating. Believe all of the hype that you’ve heard about her performance. She is absolutely incredible and should be a lock for Best Supporting Actress. Although her time onscreen is short, it is absolutely heart breaking. Aside from Jackman and Hathaway, the other main actors in the film are exceptional and well-cast. Samantha Barks makes a terrific Eponine and both Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter provide much-needed comic relief as the Thénardiers. Although I have always thought that Amanda Seyfried’s vibrato sounds sort of like a goat caught in a propeller, she is (almost) tolerable in the less than substantial role of Cosette.
The biggest weakness in the film is Russell Crowe. It is an absolute shame that Crowe was cast as Javert. For those familiar with the story of Les Misérables, one could argue that the role of Javert is equal in importance to Jean Valjean. Javert is the yin to Valjean’s yang and much of the story’s plot is driven by the complex relationship between the two. Although Crowe is a powerful actor and could likely pull off this character in a non-singing role, alas, this is a musical. Crowe is vocally outmatched by virtually everyone in this film. He weakness as a singer is made even more evident in his one-on-one scenes with Jackman. Crowe sings as if he has a runny nose and despite his obvious eagerness to impress in this role, he falls flat. As much as I loved this film, I think about how much more spectacular this film could have been with someone else cast as Javert.
All in all, Les Misérables is a triumph. Fans of the stage show will be extremely pleased. As for those who come to the theater with no prior knowledge of the stage show, I believe they will come away from the film with a favorable opinion of the film and will likely have the song “Do You Hear the People Sing” stuck in their head for days after the film is over.