Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Collective

From as far back as I can remember I have been a fan of movies and comicbooks. That said, I have spent countless hours in comicbook stores. Wandering around looking at movie memorabilia, scrolling through back issues and talking to fellow costumers. All the stores are the same in a way, with a faint musty smell, bookcases filled with Tie-Fighter models, Adama action-figures, and diecast metal toys. Some stores don't focus on that of course some are pure comics, but most I bet you'll find have some memorabilia whether its cards or posters.

On September 11th I was shooting a commercial for Best Buy in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We were on overnights and I couldn't sleep from the jet lag. I awoke to see the chaos unfolding on my TV like so many other Americans. I was in shock and in a strange place. After a few hours of calls from friends and family desperately trying to figure out who worked were in NYC and where they were now, I was burned to a crisp. The stress, the emotional rollercoster, so I walked out side to get food and get away from the TV.

As if taken by the Gods, not but two blocks away from my hotel, I stumbled into Big Brain Comics. I was saved. I spend almost three hours in there. Greeted with a warm smile and the statement "No terrorist will close this establishment!" NPR was playing in the background trying to make sense of it all. I was safe and on holy ground. This was my sanctuary. I could relax if only for a while and travel home to my comic book shop. All of them. All the ones I've been to over the years. That familiar musty smell the familiar faces of JLA and X-Men. Pages filled with familiar faces and friends. I bought some comics and a t-shirt. I love the shirt, it has the word GEEK in big yellow letter on a green shirt with Big Brain Comics on it, with the address under it, 81 s. 10th St. 612-338-4390.

Since then, I have made it a mission that no matter what city or town I visit, I try to go to a local comic shop and then write about it. They are all the same as I've said, but each has it's own charm and style. Not to mention collectibles and back issues. (I still can't find that X-Factor #6. *Shakes fist at sky*)

Yesterday, The CDC and I wandered into a new one. Well, not new but, new location. Blast From the Past at 931 Hollywood Way in Burbank CA. The big windows greeted us with the familiar Darth Vadar bust and posters from various landscapes of geekdom. Once inside the sounds of a Mrs. Pacman eating her dots could be heard. Then the familiar bookcases stood boldly in the center of the store, covered by glass protecting all kinds of past treasures.

Blast From the Past is a great shop to just spend the afternoon in and wade threw a great collection of toys, comics, posters, action figures and books. Rarely, do I find a shop that so well covers the genres. From Horror and Sci-fi to Gaming and Fantasy. The store even has a table for those afternoon Yu-Gi-Oh games and an old-skool widescreen TV.

Larry the owner is there to help if you so wish, to find a specific item or locate that one elusive collectible or chat about his collection. There was no hard sell either, he could have easily left us to wander around to our own devises. Over all I say go check it out and enjoy, I know The CDC and I did. Were going back on Saturday to check out the Aliens Prop-gun and I need to buy my Battle of The Planets: Keyop action figure! Great place I look forward to going back!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

"The Big Picture"

This week KRCW's "The Buisness" took a look at Hollywood's declining boxoffice. I have a few things to say about there assessment of the "problem."

Host Claude Brodesser asked in the first half of his discussion with John Pithian(sp) what theatre owners can do to bring patrons back. Mr. Pithian(sp) was very helpful in explaining some of the ideas theatre owners are starting to "explore" that will help get people back into the movies. Like blocking cell phones, more ushers in the theatre and better digital projection. Mr. Pithian was confident and honest about who was going to be in there way while theatre owner are try to improve the viewing experience for there patrons. He explained that as they explore ideas like blocking cell phones the cellular company's lobbiests would be there biggest fight.

As for this movie patron let me quote a golden icon of film: "Shut them all down hurry!" Most of the theatres are so far back and under so much steel my phone never works there anyways. All the complaining about how people "have to access to there phone for emergencies" is BS. If your so worried call before you go in and as soon as you come out. This wouldn't be an issue if people walked out of the movie to make or take a call. So don't point fingers at the movie owners. Blame yourselves for not all getting together and booing or shouting at the 14 year old or the large asshole man/girl for sitting in there seat and talking loud. YOU let them get away with it patron. You just want the theatre owners to do it for you. If you were at a play and someone got on there phone during the performance the cascade of Shhhhhhh that would intrude on the phone user would because them to want to find a quite place to talk, like the lobby!

On the second half of the show, and this killed me. Host
Brodesser went to some advertising agency and asked them for a slogan like the "Got Milk" ads to help get people back. This kills me. Advertising is what is making entertainment so shitty. Yea shitty. Sure I've made most of my own money in advertising. But this is like going to cat and asking it how to get more mice in the house. The cat is always going to say "More mice." While the owner of the house the actual client, doesn't want mice in the house at all. That's why the cat is there in the first place. Ok, that's a little convoluted but my point is Advertisers want to find ways to make money not fix the problem. Listen to the show. By the end the "ad guys" are pitching ideas like, "Myspace nights" and Laptop/DVD style nights were your laptop is with you while you watch the movie. Ooo that sounds like fun. Cause I want a room full of computers in a darkspace. I don't want a CELL PHONE on while I watch the film cause the light is harsh. Now you want to add a laptop?

Advertising has sunk there money sucking claw-hoses into everything. I have commented in the post before this that content is changing. It is. Due to advertisers. About 6 or 7 years ago in Time or Newsweek, a rather important adguy said in an op-ed report that in the next 5 years advertisers would "leave no blank space." Well, they succeeded. Ad pollution is everywhere. But let me get back on track and address the issue at hand, movies.

Movie owners hurt us with adds in front of our movies cause you were selfish. We already liked the advertising that was there! TRAILERS!!! That is actually a lot if not most everyone's favorite part of going to the movies! Don't you like to watch the trailers? Sure you do and you always try to get there for them aren't they advertising what you need to come and see next Friday or this summer? Hello, FREE ADVERTISING! And we showed up for them! Crazy huh. But I wouldn't change it. I'm not going to get into the studio system and there whole thing with sequels. Nor and I going to address how film cost more to make cause the cooperation's have to load a movie with all the expenses of running a studio. No lets stick with theatre owners.

They took the money from advertisers and nothing helped us the person paying $14.00 to see the film. We have to pay to see your commercials/promotions/PSA's. I don't want them. Make them go away. If you have to have them, limit them. People go to the movies and will always go to the movies because its unique. Film is like baseball in a lot of ways. Sure I can watch baseball on TV but I like to go to games to. The game hasn't changed much it's still the same old baseball. Sure players have changed and there is advertising in baseball. But the balls, bats and most of the players don't were add's. Film is a classic. Traditional. Film effects us deeply as a media and it always will. Why do people go to revival film houses? They want to be touched emotionally by the film on the big screen. Same as theatre is and shall always be. Connections. Connections with our fellow patron and the director who is Manipulating you with story and player.

You want more people to go to the movies? Keep it simple, clean, safe and people will always go. Get cheap and greedy and it will be gone faster then a Turner color version of It's A Wonderful Life.
No more adds, more ushers, blocked cellphones. Well, in general, more like Arclight.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Lord of the Funny

This is cheesy but I can't help it. I think its funny. If your going to make fun of something at least let it be good. Check out the promotional videos for TBS's broadcast of The LoTR Trilogy.

They did a great job with them. With the internet streaming with Brokeback Mountain parody trailers, I found these to be funnier and more original.

Check them out here.

OH and Windows on a Mac? DEAR GOD THE HORROR! Reports that Boot Camp, new software that allows Mac owners with Intel inside to load Microsoft XP. Check out the article here.

Also, you can see what XP looks like on the Mac here. My favorite part of the photos is the game he's playing at the end of the load screen. ;)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Sounds Swedish

The CDC sent me well wishes this morning and reminded me that today is a very important day in the geek-verse. First Contact Day!

"The Date. Data, I need to know the exact date." Though the crew travel back in time to April 4th 2063 due to being caught in a temporal vortex created by the Borg. The actual date of First Contact was on April 5th 2063.

"Don't try to be a great man ... Just be a man. Let history make its own judgments." - Dr. Zefram Cochrane You can learn more about the man that will be, at the link.

I also went back and watched Paramounts Star Trek: First Contact Special Collector's Edition this morning. I have to say both this one and Generations are fantastic looking and sounding films. Paramount DVD out did themselves and are the best of the bunch for transfers. I would suggest buying them both.

Now if your going to go out and buy Star Trek DVD's and you don't already have Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Director's Edition do yourself a favor and get it. It's a great film now. If you don't know the story of what they did for it on DVD all I can say it Digital Effects.

Finally, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, The Director's Edition is wonderful as well. Only don't get rid of your original copy. The director's edition has been tinkered with by Nicholas Meyer and though more is good. I like the original release a smidge more. Why? I feel like the original has almost no dialogue that isn't pushing the story forward. Its a perfect sequel. The Collectors edition adds some lines that just keep us in scenes a hair to long at times. No big heartbreak or anything just little adds here and there that seem to do little for the viewer.

Roger Corman Alive and.....Well?

I'm going to link to some sites/bloggs that can talk about Mr. Cormans affect on cinema at the end of this article. Since they 1) are more eloquent and 2) they already did the work.
Happy Birthday Mr. Corman, and thanks for freaking me out when I was 12.

I got to thinking about independent film and low budget film making. I am presently working on a small independent film right now, called Happy Holidays. This is what leads me to ask the question. Is Roger Corman alive and well?

After the Academy Awards this year kept saying things like "small movies" "independent film" were the main focus of the awards, I called bullshit. (Uh, huh. And Evian isn't a coke product.) These weren't small films. They were developed by smaller subsidiary production company's sure. But they get there budget from a corporate parent. I'm not bashing the big boys, but this all happened before. Read a little book called Easy Riders, Ragging Bulls. Some say it's BS but if 50% of it is true then shit, we need to get that anger back.

Where have all the good times gone? With Hollywood bleeding itself to death, being ruled by the corporate monster and remaking everything. Why are we not seeing a revolution of small independent/exploitation films? As Dr. Dre would say: "Were are all the mad rappers at, its like a jungle in this habitat." Of course I'm talking about film and not the rap scene but who is out there shooting?

So far, I've see a lot of comedy. Most of the stuff I see is from the internet and comedy groups who are shooting sketches. And I don't blame them look at the success of Lazy Sunday. What surprises me is the lack of substance. With digital cameras and digital effects at an all time low, shouldn't everyone be shooting their horror/exploitation/comedy about naked sorority girls who get raped by blood sucking vampires? I would rent it. (And I would too, that's scary!)

I think some people are out there shooting though, for all my complaining. (Hey, I'm of Italian decent we like to complain.) With so many people who have a home entertainment system, TiVo, HDTV and the like why not? The Hollywood Reporter doesn't even list the money made by DVD rentals and sales. The reason is "they" don't want you to know how much they make. Why else?

Ok maybe I'm nuts but think about all the new ways the entertainment industry is trying to distribute content. Phones, PDA's, Internet. Download movies to own. This is were its all going. If that's the case it can't ALL be Mtv crap for 14 year old girls. Can it? I mean even G4 the "video game network" is starting to branch out. Though they insist on writing comedy for 14 year old boys on all there shows. Right, cause that's who's playing the video games out there. Like the commercial for Kingdom Hearts II isn't slanting to the above 30 year olds with its theme music.

Distribution is changing. I accept that. I can site my friends with newborns. They all have a DVD players, 5.1 sound, and HD or the equivalent televisions. Why go to the movies? When the movies can come to them. I think the market is ripe for people making there own movies. Not fucking Reality shit I mean young film makers like Rian Johnson. Check out his brilliant film Brick this weekend if you live in the NYC or LA area.

So get to it all you creative types! Go make movies that I can be in. Go, do. Don't worry about what to do with it once its done just make it. Someone will buy it. Or like you can have screenings of it on your 61inch HDTV in your house with your 5.1 digital sound system that your friends at the "posting house" mixed for you after hours.

Ok that's enough. Check out:
Tim Lucas Video Watchblog Look at the bottom of his article for more links.
I really enjoyed Flickerhead as well.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Are you, Lost?

I find television has little to offer me as of late. I don't understand "reality TV." If I find myself talking to someone and they say they like reality tv, I consider it a flaw in there personality.

Most of the shows I watch are off the radar. Except the one I think almost everyone is watching, Lost. This past week
Lost aired what is being considered by most fans and fellow geeks as "the best episode of the season." Not only did the episode focus a lot on John Locke but after a slow start this season helping explain what the hell is going on, the show was taken up a notch by reviling more details about the island. This link here is just the greatest thing ever! Go geek out on it! Thanks to The Drow for the link.

For me inparticular I've enjoyed the show because of the work done by Terry O'Quinn. He has been a part of so many great shows on TV under the chicgeek lexicon. X-Files, Earth 2, Tales From The Crypt and my all time favorite ST:TNG as William T. Riker's old C.O. Admiral Eric Pressman. Mr. O'Quinn brings so much intensity without ever over doing the intimacey he has with the camera. You can never tell if you should trust him or if he is going MAD! The DM has always said in all the games we've played that the scariest "badguy" is "the one who is calm and invites you to dinner." I agree. I don't think Locke is going to be reveiled as a antaganist or anything but he does make Jack crazy sometimes. Making him perfect for this particular show.

What I also find intresting is the fact that he seems to work alot in genre material. I wonder if he seeks it out or they seek him? I would guess that at his level he is getting asked to work.

Well, here's to you Mr. O'Quinn, a true chicgeek!

I have to add that as I catch up on Battlestar Galactica and begin season II, I really like Aaron Douglas as Chief Petty Officer Galen Tyrol. He has a great presence on camera. I look forward to his work with every episode.