Tag Archives: Movie

Was Episode 2 of GOTHAM an epic fail or glorious win?

The pilot episode of GOTHAM tried to pack three hours of characters, action and material into one hour, which is more like 42 minutes with all the commercial breaks.

Did I like it? Absolutely.

Was it 10 pounds of plot shoved into a 5-pound bag? Yes. And part of that couldn’t be helped.

However, we now have Episode 2, in capital letters, to reflect upon and answer the question: Can the writers and showrunners keep this thing exciting while slowing it down and giving key characters more screen time?

Here’s the trailer for the pilot, and while this trailer is well done, it doesn’t do justice to how much they tried to pack into it.

And for comparison, before we chat, check out the promo for Episode 2:

So how did they do? Just fine.

In fact, this is one of the rare shows where Episode 2 is better than the pilot.

Why? This time was slower in a good way. They gave villains time to chew the scenery, with the best bits being the slowest scenes.

The second show reminded me of how Quentin the Tarantino ratcheted up the suspense, higher and higher, with the opening scene of INGLORIOUS BASTERDS.

And that’s only a taste of that scene. It goes on and on, and you don’t care that nothing seems to be happening, that’s it’s simply two men at a table with a glass of milk, talking. Because there’s crazy tension and conflict there without a single gunshot or explosion. Michael Bay would go deep into withdrawal, right?

But slow can work. Slow burns are often the best burns. Gunfights and making things go boom doesn’t mean anything unless you give it meaning.

BREAKING BAD understood this perfectly. There was no shortage of blood on the floor of that set, yet Vince the Gilligan and his creww always took their time to carefully plant setups and build up that tension before finally paying them off.

One of best examples of Chekhov’s Gun ever comes from a literal gun, an M60, they planted in the trunk of Walter White’s car, not knowing when, why or how that gun would go off later in the last season. Brilliant!

Well played, GOTHAM people. Good actors, good sets and good pacing. Keep it up.

What say you, (a) casual Batman fans and (b) intense fanboys who know how to spell and pronounce Ra’s al Ghul? Bring it in the comments.

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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 and is represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

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Filed under 3 Tinseltown Tuesday, The Big Screen, The Glowing Tube

Big, Beautiful Movies with Sad, Stupid Endings

The First Law of Bad Literary Novels is simple: there are no happy endings.

It’s the same story with Big, Beautiful Movies with Sad, Stupid Endings.

Now, that’s not to say every book and movie needs a prototypical Hollywood happy ending. Tragedies should have sad endings, and there are plenty of classic movies where the ending is ambiguous.

Rocky actually loses his first fight. The victory comes from not getting knocked out – and from the journey from loser to contender. Rocky suffers, sacrifices and grows. That’s why the movie is good: there’s a big contrast between where Rocky is in Act 1 and where he ends up in Act 3.

The trouble with these movies is the audience doesn’t want to see them again, if they ever saw them in the first place, because the ending sours everybody, despite the beautiful imagery and amazing acting.

I’m not saying you can’t make a great movie without being low-brow and throwing in more explosions than Michael Bay ever dreamed possible.

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The trouble with LUCY by director Luc Besson

I’m a huge fan of Scarlett Johanssson and Luc Besson, director of THE TRANSPORTER, THE FIFTH ELEMENT and THE TRANSPORTER PUTS THE FIFTH ELEMENT IN THE TRUNK AND DRIVES IT AROUND EUROPE.

So I saw LUCY last night in this giant building where the floors are sticky and popped corn drenched with fake butter costs $10 a bag.

The previews looked great and word was this movie is interesting, if not weird. Hey, it’s directed by Luc Besson, who I really want to call Jean Luc Besson, so it’s going to be exciting and fast and weird.

Here’s the trailer:

And here’s a great parody trailer:

Is this movie good? Sure. Exciting and different. Worth renting, and maybe watching in the theater.

What keeps it from greatness? The Invincible Hero Problem strikes again. Continue reading

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BE KIND REWIND: A History of Sweded Film

Be Kind Rewind (2008) was written and directed by French filmmaker Michel Gondry. It’s a movie about the dawn of the DVD and a VHS video rental employee’s attempt to thwart off the digital competition by creating his own versions of popular movies. This practice is known as “Sweding.”

It was panned by critics.

“It’s the kind of amusing film you can wait to see on DVD,” said Roger Ebert in a 2008 review.

Be Kind Rewind currently sports a 65% fresh rating on rotten tomatoes and 6.4 on IMDB.

A colossal box office flop. The film only reeled in four million opening weekend.

Dave Chappelle was supposed to play the main character, who is instead played by Mos Def.

Chappelle’s Block Party documentary in 2005, apparently inspired the film’s urban setting, though the idea was one Gondry had envisioned for years prior.

In an interview with avclub.com in 2008, Gondry said: “Chappelle was intrigued, interested in this project for a while, and he mentioned a couple of films that we did remake: Driving Miss DaisyRush Hour 2, that was his idea… Boyz N The Hood as well.”

Enlisting Dave Chappelle would have made a difference at the box office. Nevertheless, the legacy of Sweding has lived on.

Four years after the film was released, people are still cranking out Sweded films. Including this Casino Royale Gem.

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The worst movie poster OF ALL TIME

So I’m minding my own business, wandering around the Series of Tubes after finishing all kinds of physical labors, and what strikes my eyeballs?

Only the worst movie poster known to man.

Here it is:

the hobbit, the worst movie poster OF ALL TIME

THE HOBBIT movie poster is seven separate kinds of awful.

This isn’t bad in the usual way. The production values are high. The photograph looks nice. There’s nothing low-budget about this.

HOWEVER: From looking at this poster, and reading the tagline “An unexpected journey,” what do you think this movie is about?

Here are my theories:

Theory Number 1: Gandalf makes an unexpected journey back to the store after he forgets to buy sour cream AGAIN.

Theory Number 2: “Oh, it’s only partly cloudy today, when my weather prediction potion said it would definitely rain. How unexpected! I’ll go for a stroll.”

Theory Number 3: Gandalf, being older than the oldest hobbit’s great-grandfather’s grandfather, is getting rather senile. Every journey he takes is unexpected.

See, here’s the thing: a movie poster needs to express one thing, and one thing alone: conflict.

No conflict, no story.

No story, no movie.

No movie, no audience.

This is why the JAWS movie poster is so powerful and iconic.

jaws movie poster

The JAWS movie poster is classic, and will always be classic, because it’s simple and visceral and seven separate types of awesome.

Do you have any doubts, whatsoever, about what this movie is about? (Hint: It’s about a killer shark.)

THE HOBBIT poster gives us nothing to work with, no reason to plop down $12 for tickets with funky 3D glasses and $9 for popcorn that costs 26 cents to make and $6 for Diet Coke.

Memo to Hollywood executives: Put the conflict — the villain — on the poster. If you make the poster calm, beautiful and boring, there’s no reason to see a film that cost $230 million to make.

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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.

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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.

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JUAN OF THE DEAD, the epic Cuban zombie movie

Zombie movies are inherently good.

Movies with subtitles are typically depressing and bad, and only watchable when you’re in college and think that French existentialism is amazing, that you should wear a black beret and smoke Gallouise Blondes the rest of your life, which will be spent in a cafe in Paris, sipping coffee and eating pan au chocolat as you discuss politics and philosophy with other intellectuals, never mind the fact that YOU DON’T SPEAK FRENCH.

There are two exceptions to the Law of Subtitles.

The first is DEAD SNOW, a Norwegian movie that isn’t just about zombies (yes!) but Nazi zombies (double yes!).

The second exception is JUAN OF THE DEAD, a Cuban zombie movie that isn’t afraid to pile on the craziness.

As a public service, if you haven’t seen DEAD SNOW, here’s that trailer, too.

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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.

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Filed under 1 Survival Sunday, The Big Screen, Zombie apocalypse