Tag Archives: Film

A montage set to music: The best movies of 2013

Movies are all around us. Kind of like the Force, before George Lucas ruined it with all that claptrap about midichloridians or whatever.

Films live inside your TV, your iPhone, your laptop. They’re sitting on shiny metal disks and even being celebrated in these insanely large and dark stadiums where you pay $12 for popcorn and a Diet Coke that costs 20 cents.

And if you’re anything like me, movies are something magical.

So there’s this professional movie critic, David Ehrlich, a man you’d think only takes joy in ripping apart SMURFS 3: ARE WE THERE YET, PAPA SMURF while praising some black-and-white existential French movie where the hero finally kisses the girl and promptly gets hit by a bus–well, you’d think critics like him wouldn’t create something so joyful and beautiful as this.

Except of course he would. Why does anybody become a movie critic, book reviewer or rock journalist? Because they love nothing more than movies, books and making fun of Axl Rose and Vanilla Ice trying to stage a comeback.

So tell me, peoples of the Series of Tubes: which movies in 2013 make your top three?

Related posts:

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This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.

Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

3 Comments

Filed under 3 Tinseltown Tuesday, The Big Screen

A short film full of win

This is insanely well done.

I salute you, filmmaker peoples with remote-control car collections, Michael Bay obsessions and creativity oozing out of your pores. GIVE US MORE.

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This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.

Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

7 Comments

Filed under The Glowing Tube

SIMPLE SONG by The Shins

Now, the usual music video features (a) some kind of singer or rock band (b) singing and rocking, and possibly trying to (c) dance, though if they can’t dance, the can (d) look tough or (e) let their backup dancers go crazy while the singers and rockers look tough. The toughest part is whether to film in an empty warehouse or on top of a roof.

For pop singers and boy bands, it’s even simpler: they have to sing WHILE dancing, and it doesn’t really matter where.

Music videos that tell a story, like some kind of moving picture, with a script and such, are rare. Because that sort of thing is work, you see, and the rock bands who try  usually shoot for “artsy” and merely slam hard into “the Wall of Pretentious.”

This isn’t quite art, and it doesn’t quite make sense, but it is interesting and different and ambitious. I salute the Shins for aiming high instead of setting up their drums and amps in the parking lot of a vacant K-mart, just to be ironic.

For you musical types, here are the lyrics for you to dissect and decipher:

Well, this is just a simple song,
To say what you done.
I told you ’bout all those fears,
And away they did run.
You sure must be strong,
And you feel like an ocean being warmed by the sun.

When I was just nine-years-old,
I swear that I dreamt,
Your face on a football field,
And a kiss that I kept,
Under my vest.
Apart from everything,
But the heart in my chest.

Chorus:
I know that things can really get rough,
When you go it alone,
Don’t go thinking you gotta be tough,
And play like a stone.
Could be there’s nothing else in our lives so critical,
As this little home.

My life in an upturned boat,
Marooned on a cliff.
You brought me a great big flood,
And you gave me a lift.
Girl, what a gift.
When you tell me with your tongue,
And your breath was in my lungs,
And we float up through the rift.

Chorus:
I know that things can really get rough,
When you go it alone.
Don’t go thinking you gotta be tough,
And play like a stone.
Could be there’s nothing else in our lives so critical,
As this little home.

Well, this would be a simple song,
To say what you done.
I told you ’bout all those fears,
And away they did run.
You sure must be strong,
When you feel like an ocean being warmed by the sun.

Remember walking a mile to your house,
Aglow in the dark?
I made a fumbling play for your heart,
And the act struck a spark.
You wore a charm on the chain that I stole,
Especial for you.
Love’s such a delicate thing that we do,
With nothing to prove,
Which I never knew.

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This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.

Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

3 Comments

Filed under 2 Music Video Monday

Here’s how that movie should have ended

You’ve been there: sitting in a dark theater for two hours, with sticky unknown substances on the soles of your shoes and your wallet $23 lighter, and you’re thinking, “If the director and the seven different screenwriters given credit for this movie had spent FIVE MINUTES on the major plot holes in this stinker, it would’ve been a fine movie.”

All true.

This is why the folks at How It Should Have Ended have jobs.

Here are my favorites, and these are movies that I actually love (except for SPIDERMAN 3).

Big honking bonus: A recurring thing is cutting to Batman and Superman, sitting in a cafe while sipping coffee and talking smack about these movies and each other. I like it, I love it, I want some more of it.

How It Should Have Ended: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

How It Should Have Ended: THE DARK KNIGHT

How It Should Have Ended: THE AVENGERS

How It Should Have Ended: SPIDERMAN 3

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This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.

Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

3 Comments

Filed under 3 Tinseltown Tuesday, The Big Screen

3 Mighty MacGuffin Generators

If you’re a writer, you’ll need to use a MacGuffin now and then.

Spy movies need a microfilm containing the real names and identities of every undercover agent employed by the CIA / GRU / MI-6, with the good guys and bad guys both willing to do whatever it takes to find and destroy that MacGuffin, which the hero happens to pick up by accident in the luggage carousel at O’Hare.

Sci-fi novels need some kind of techno-babble MacGuffin, like a repulsive helix inverter, which can tweak your DNA or whatever and create an army of alien super soldiers.

Fantasy movies need a magical ring that turns you invisible but does nothing about your big hairy feet or the fact you’re the size of a Smurf, or maybe an enchanted vorpal sword of inifinite sharpness that can lop off the head of the invincible Dragon of Instant Fiery Death that killed your father, uncle, grandfather, second cousin, first wife, baby sister and that idiot neighbor kid who used to throw rocks at your horse, so your not overly sad about the dragon having that silly fool for brunch.

Alfred Hitchcock was famous for using MacGuffins in his films. If the hero is on a quest, he needs to be questing for something. Really, it doesn’t matter what. It’s the journey that matters.

Here’s a spiffy MacGuffin generator by Jordan McCollum.

Use it. Then visit her blog and show her some love. That’s how this thing works. Pay it forward.

MacGuffin Generator

Here’s two more MacGuffin generators on the SAME PAGE, for sci-fi MacGuffins and silly ones.

Sci-Fi or Silly McGuffin Generator

(Yes, they spell it wrong, the infidels.)

What is your favorite MacGuffin of all time? And which film, TV show or novel wins the prize for Silliest MacGuffin of All Time?

Let the literary flame wars begin. I believe any random Star Trek episode will have silly and stupid sci-fi MacGuffins like a pressing need to replace every dilithium crystal in warp core of the Enterprise.

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This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.

Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

4 Comments

Filed under 4 Writing Secrets Wednesday, Fiction

Insanely bad B-movies: RAWHEAD REX

This is a banner day for Bad Movies.

True film fans enjoy stuff like this, because it doesn’t pretend to be anything but B-movie trash. There’s all sorts of trash aiming for Deep and Meaningful that hit entirely different targets named Pretentious, Obscure and Boring (shorthand: POB).

RAWHEAD REX looks like a silly little nugget of stupid fun. And to be honest, watching films with subtitles is fine, but if all you ever watch is black-and-white movies with subtitles about depressing and intellectual things, it will simply put you in therapy and give you migraines. Your brain, it needs a break sometimes. It need simple fun like RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARC or TRANSPORTER or, if you really want to wallow in the B-movie mud, stuff like RAWHEAD REX.

See? What’d I tell you:

  • The special effects are terrible.
  • The monster is a foam rubber joke that would feel at home on the set of Doctor Who.
  • The shreds of a storyline are simply an excuse for crazy scenes of mayhem.

Do these flaws matter? No. Because when you already know you’re watching nonsense, so the lack of polish is refreshing and a conversation starter. Munch popcorn with your peoples as you try to spot continuity errors, dialogue that makes no sense because they cut the setup scene and the zippers on the monster costume.

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This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.

Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

3 Comments

Filed under 3 Tinseltown Tuesday, The Big Screen

Movie trailer madness: WILD WILD PLANET

Before the invention of YouTube, you’d only find gems like this at estate sales in Hollywood. And the only way to play such treasures would be if you owned a 8mm projector, eight-track tape or some other obsolete technology brought to you be the number 8.

HOWEVER: We have the technologies today, and just like Christmas in July, they give is insane film clips and trailers of things that Should Not Exist, But Somehow Do.

The trailer to WILD WILD PLANET is awesomely, ambitiously bad. Take a peek.

My favorite bits:

  • the four-armed thugs who look like offspring of a Terminator-Matrix union
  • the women who know kung fu and how to disappear
  • the twisted plan by some man to transmorgify into a half-man, half-woman using transporter tech stolen from the U.S.S. Enterprise or whatever

The ’90s and ’00s (oughts? oh-oh’s?) brought us movie after movie where the heroines are tough women in black leather catsuits with guns. Maybe this all started with Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, but it’s taken off ever since.

As this movie proves, tough women (good or bad) in ‘the ’60s and ’70s movies didn’t wear black leather / pleather catsuits. No. They wore red flowing polyester. If red flowing polyester wasn’t available, they wore bright orange or green.

If anybody actually WATCHED this movie, as in paid actual monies and rented it or whatever, please shout.

Also: if you are brave or crazy enough to fire it up on Netflix or whatever, please report back on what happened to the crazy man with the mustache.

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This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.

Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

2 Comments

Filed under 3 Tinseltown Tuesday, The Big Screen

WORLD WAR Z by Max Brooks

Any fan of zombie movies — or action movies, horror movies and war movies — should be interested in WORLD WAR Z.

It has zombies. It has action, horror and a world war. If this novel isn’t epic, then I don’t know what epic is.

WORLD WAR Z by Max Brooks

WORLD WAR Z, as in Zombies, by Max Brooks. Best zombie book ever? Maaaybe. Soon to be a movie? Yes, with Brad Pitt. Epic? Definitely.

The book is laid out as a series of interviews by a United Nations researcher, documenting the global war against zombies.

It bounces around from character to character, country to country, though the book is basically organized into sections: the first hints of zombies among us, the Great Panic, then humans getting their act together — after false starts and setbacks — to finally win the war.

As a reader and a zombie fan, I enjoyed it. This wasn’t a book that sat beside the bed for a month. I read it straight through over a couple nights.

As a writer, there were things to fix. Having so many characters was a big risk. Max Brooks obviously researched every location and culture in the story, and clearly he wanted to put all that research to use on the page. It’s a little much in spots, and he doesn’t pull off every character. It’s hard enough to be the authentic voice of one character for an entire novel. He tries to do it for 5.8 bazillion characters.

HOWEVER: That is nitpicking. This is a great story and a ton of fun.

Some scenes will stick with you. The full might of the U.S. military being crushed by the sheer numbers of millions of zombies at the Battle of Yonkers. The desperation and courage of a Japanese man trapped in his apartment tower, full of zombies.  A soldier’s tale of how the humans finally learned to beat the zombies not with amazing technology, but with hard work and old-fashioned military strategies, as two lines of soldiers — one firing, one reloading or resting — form a square box and shoot for days until the piles of dead zombies became a wall of corpses twenty or thirty feet high.

WORLD WAR Z is now a movie, with Brad Pitt starring and Marc Forster directing, though movies are notoriously squishy. They get announced and switched around and delayed. It’ll be fun to see this story on the big screen.

Here is Max Brooks talking about the history of zombies. He is interesting.

Shots of bourbon: Four and a half out of five.

Sidenote: If you haven’t read Max Brook’s ZOMBIE SURVIVAL GUIDE, it is not only hilarious and entertaining, but shockingly practical. No matter what style of apocalypse you favor, that book would probably get you prepared.

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This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.

Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

4 Comments

Filed under 1 Survival Sunday, Zombie apocalypse

Best movie trailer of the spring: SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED

This is how you sell a little indie movie that doesn’t need, want or require (a) big-name actors, (b) $190 million in CGI nonsense and (c) a huge advertising budget.

Because the flipping STORY is good.

It’s not the usual nonsense involving vampires, aliens, robots or aliens that transform into robots. No. This is different. This is worthy. I don’t recognize a single actor in this sucker, and it doesn’t matter one itty bitty bit, because I WILL SEE THIS.

Compare that little n0-budget film to the typical Michael Bay megamovie, which costs more than the Gross Domestic Product of Chile — because explosions, they are not cheap, people.

Give me something interesting and different. I don’t care how much the movie cost. I don’t care that there isn’t amazing special effects, not when the average TV show can afford some CGI wizardry. That stuff doesn’t impress me.

An original idea, a good story, with characters we might possibly care about? Yes. Give me more of that.

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This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.

Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

7 Comments

Filed under 3 Tinseltown Tuesday, The Big Screen