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Netflix Watch Instantly Recommendations (7/30-8/5)

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Let’s face facts here: the selection on Netflix’s Watch Instantly section is definitely about quantity over quality. It’s hard to find good movies mixed in with all the crazy shit they like to put up for you. It’s a lot of dentritus, Mockbusters, television, and weird stuff.

So, as your faithful (and inconsistent) blogger/gatekeeper, I’d like to recommend a few films this week for your viewing pleasure… This also gives me a chance to capsule review movies and that’s always fun.

You can click the titles to go straight to the movie’s Netflix profile. The dates in parentheses are when the movie gets pulled from W.I. 

La Dolce Vita (ends 8/1/11. SEE IT NOW!)

This is arguably Fellini’s masterpiece: a lush, three hour tour of Rome and papparazzi and woman troubles. It’s one of those movies that’s really hard to write about because it’s so densely layered and absolutely fantastic.

But, as mentioned. It ends on Monday.

A Woman Under the Influence, Faces, Shadows , The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (all ending on 8/3/11)

A Cassavetes quadruple feature, listed in my preferred order. I haven’t seen The Killing of a Chinese Bookie yet, but all I’ve heard is that it’s great, so I guess I’ll have to watch it before Wednesday.

A Woman Under the Influence is my favorite of the three. It’s a 2 and a half hour character piece on a woman’s mental instability and the ways that it’s pulling the family apart. Like all of his films, it never flinches away from the crazier moments and the experience is definitely life changing. Check out the trailer:

Faces comes in at number 2 and it probably has the best ending of the three. It covers a single night in the life of a married couple after the husband says “I want a divorce.” They both go out seeking solace in myriad ways. My only complaint is that, because of the high-contrast (possibly Super-16) black and white film stock this film was shot on, the shitty quality of Watch Instantly is really on display. If you can ignore that, you’re in for a great movie.

Shadows is Cassavetes’s first film as a director and really puts on display the themes he would continue to deal with: the brutal honesty of love and its implications. It’s about a mixed race couple in 1950’s New York. And has a lot of Jazz. It’s also the shortest of his films, so it’s definitely a good entry into his style.

4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days (doesn’t end… it was distributed by Netflix, so why would they pull it?)

This Romanian film won the Palme D’or in 2007 and is absolutely fantastic. Set in the Communist 80’s, a woman and her friend seek out a black market abortion to get rid of the child for various sociopolitical reasons. There are several sequences in this movie that will stay with you.

It’s an emotional film that, if you can stick out, is a rewarding experience.

Let me In (no end date)

original review

This remake of the 2008 Swedish film, Let the Right One In, does its best to not really remake the original film, but to reinterpret the novel. For that reason, this movie stands alongside it as a solid companion. And! It’s not subtitled like the original (in case you hate reading).

This film is filled with great cinematography and an excellent score from Michael Giacchino on top of two great kid-performances (a trend I’ve noticed the past few years and would love to see continued) from Kodi Smit-McPhee of the Road and Chloe Grace Moretz from Kickass.

Let the Right One In (no end date)

As it turns out, both versions are on Netflix. I’m of the camp that thinks that both are equally as compelling and awesome, but I’ll let you be the judge.

Gomorrah (no end date)

I watched this one the other day and, no, it’s not about sodomy’s cousin. It’s actually about the most influential Italian mob, which is called Camorra. It follows the lives of several people of different ages and occupations as they deal with being in the mafia and the choices that people must make in situations like this.

What I found most interesting, though, is that it turns its focus away from the violence and onto the characters. As a result, it could be criticized as boring, but I found it to be the exact opposite–especially when the two teenagers are on screen. Their story is perhaps the most tragicomic since you know exactly what ends they’ll probably meet from the moment they begin to buck the trends and laws laid down by the bosses. And then stealing their guns and cocaine.

It’s a gutsy movie. And I can definitely see why Martin Scorsese attached his name to it.

Oh-kay. I guess that’s about it for this week. Hopefully I’ll do it again in a week. I’ll be honest, I’ve been intending on doing this for awhile and am finally getting around to it.


A Detailed Guide to Donating on IndieGoGo, Just In Case You Need It [graceland]

Okay, so. Let’s say you get to the IndieGoGo page, you read through all the information, and then you’re all “Gee, I’d love to donate, but I wish someone was here to help me out!” Well, this is the closest I can get to being your personal Donating to Graceland Assistant. Follow these instructions and you’re on your way to having a good day. You can click on the pictures and they’ll come up all huge in a new tab and whatnot. 

Step 1: The Contribute Now Button

This is our IndieGoGo page. What’s Circled is the Contribute Now button. Keep in mind that you can pick whatever amount you wish to donate, the $50 next to it doesn’t mean anything. Give what you can!

Step 2: Figure Out How Much You Want to Donate

The first section of the Contribute Now page lists all of the perks available, with the final one being “No perk, just a donation,” which is 100% tax deductible no matter how much you give. If you get some of our swag/cool shit, you’ll notice that only the cost over the item is tax deductible. So you’ll get everything back on your taxes except what it cost us to make you a bitchin’ poster (ed. note–we’re actually doing the photo shoot today!)

In the box that the arrow is pointing to, you can put the amount which you wish to donate. It can be any number you want, like the Showcase Showdown. You do the $1 bid, but everyone knows that’s stupid. But any number from 1-nth is valid. You could donate $43 if you wanted to. Or any number. You get it.

Step 3: When things Get PersonalIn order to donate, you need to first give us your email address. If you don’t want fun emails from IndieGoGo, uncheck the box that says “Send me occassional emails like our monthly newsletter.”

Step 2 of this part is whether or not you want to tell the world that you donated. We’ve got three options: Name and Amount, Name only, and Anonymous. So there’s confidentiality–or, if you’re embarrassed about supporting the arts (you really shouldn’t be, silly goose), you can go anonymous. I’d like to think the second two are mostly for Daddy Fat Stax out there who give a lot and don’t want to be recognized. Either way, you should be proud that you’re doing this, so I’d recommend at least posting your Name.

Step 3 is totally optional, but I’d love for you guys to leave us a comment–hell, you could even do a shoutout. “All my homies in Cell Block 3 would be proud of my donation…” Anything. Just try to leave a comment.

Step 4:  Pay the Man

This is the part where you fill out your credit card information. In the picture, you’ll notice there’s a popup window–this is their “Don’t worry, your safe” message. I figured you should see it so I could say Don’t Worry, Your Money is Safe and We’re Not Gonna Steal Your Identity.

Then hit contribute. 

Step 5: ConfirmationThis is your last chance to back out, if you really really want to (My guess, you don’t.) Just make sure you didn’t put extra zeros at the end of your $5 donation. We’d be pleased to have it, but your credit score might not be. Or, hell, make sure you did put extra zeros if your confident like that. We appreciate extra zeros.

Step 6: Spread the Word (This One’s Important)

After you press confirm, you will get a nearly identical dialog box. Don’t Ignore It, This is Important. See, crowd funding requires a crowd. And one way to get a crowd is to get our donors tweeting/emailing/Facebooking about their contributions and how just absolutely bitchin’ this project is.

If you don’t have a twitter, hit the email button. Then the Facebook button. We need you to help us by sharing this project. Your money is incredible and great and we’re incredibly thankful for it. But, think, there’s even more you can do to help us that doesn’t cost anything.

Spread the word.

Step 7: The Emails You Receive.

7.1 The Important Email from Fractured Atlas

This email is the one that you need to print and file away, or let sit in your inbox until Tax Time next year. But this is your voucher that says “Give me my money back Uncle Sam.”

So print it, and save it with all the receipts from the Goodwill and whatnot. I figure your philanthropic enough to have a folder entitled “Awesome Shit I’ve Done that the Government’s Gonna Pay Me Back For.” I do. It’s not only helpful come next tax season, it’s also a friendly reminder on a bad day that, yes, you do help people and yes, you are a good person.

7.2 The Kind of Important Email from IndieGoGo

This email from IndieGoGo is one you don’t need to print and save, it’s simply the one that says “Your Order Went Through, Here’s the Details.”

You can keep this one for your records as well, but the only one you need for taxes is the Fractured Atlas Email (7.1)

Step 8: You Make Me Feel Like This:

Happy. We’re making a movie folks.

Party Down, Funding Up. 

Five Movies: The First Ten Minutes

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In every screenwriting book, they tell you that by the end of the first ten minutes you have to know and empathize with the main characters.

Blake Snyder calls this the “Save the Cat” moment wherein our hero/anti-hero does something good/admirable and helps us make the connection to the character.

The Incredibles did this quite literally. Mr. Incredible is chasing down Bomb Voyage, but still takes the time to save a cat out of a tree. Literally saving the cat, then saving the day.

This is why, when you come late to a movie, sometimes you don’t click with the characters. They’ve already made their plea to be loved by the audience and you missed out on it.

These are five examples of some of the most kick-ass opening acts.

Super Troopers


I would’ve embedded it but my free Word Press account won’t let links from just any old site get embedded.

Anyway. The first ten minutes of Super Troopers puts us on the side of the pranksters that work for the Highway Patrol as they harass stoners who haven’t really done much. Instead of just letting them go, they decide to teach them a lesson. And it’s hilarious.


How do you get people to care about a cantankerous old man? Tell his entire life up to this point in ten minutes.

And while this may sound like a bad idea in theory, it is done with such visual and emotional precision that you can’t help but care for Mr. Fredricksen. This is an example of Pixar pulling the rug out–but, it works so well because, otherwise, you probably wouldn’t care about such an asshole of an old man. If the movie started without these ten minutes, he’d be the villain of the whole story and not the hero.


In the sense of “what you’re supposed to do,” this is an awful first ten minutes. None of the characters introduced in the first ten minutes have any bearing whatsoever on the story–pretty much all of them die.

But I love that the first ten minutes of Magnolia are spent setting up the premise instead of setting up the characters. The next six minutes are a whirlwind introduction to everybody you have to care about.

Three stories of chance, of coincidence, of horrifying serendipity. When you’ve got a three hour film, you’re allowed to fuck around a little bit with the idea of “ten minutes and then hit the ground running.” This is a very inventive way of doing so.

Star Trek 2009

Video note: Some dumbass decided to re-score the opening sequence and post it on YouTube. You just don’t do that to Michael Giacchino. But it’s there.

This opening sequence works on a couple levels:

For Trekkers, it introduces to them the fact that this is a completely different universe. James T. Kirk’s dad is dead and not an inspiring figure for him to look up to.

For the general public, it throws you immediately into this world of science fiction without any pretext. It just expects you to be along for the ride and enjoy the emotional timbre of it.

It is a gripping opening sequence filled with mystery and awe. It sets up the main villain as well as introduces us to James T. Kirk. Right from the get go, you have the main showdown set against a heartbreaking backdrop.

Okonokos: The My Morning Jacket Concert Film

Video Note: I couldn’t find the actual beginning of the concert video, but there’s enough in this video of their first song to give you an indication of how awesome it is.

In sum: Man goes to party, gets the cold shoulder from most people there, meets a llama, wanders into the forest and finds a My Morning Jacket concert.

Since Okonokos isn’t a narrative film, it doesn’t have the same demand to set up a story but, at the same time, it’s the best (and strangest) way to contextualize a concert.

Some have done it with interviews, others with backstage footage. This one does it with a man and his llama wandering into the forest.

I’m pretty sure that’s awesome.

One last thing

If you haven’t noticed, about half of this list comes from my top 20 films of all time. I’m willing to bet that these ten minute opening sequences are a huge reason for that. If you can make me care, make me curious make me laugh, make me cry, then you’ve got me on the hook.

And the rest of the film damn well better live up to these first ten minutes.

An example of a film that easily could’ve made this list but was excised for the sheer reason that the rest of the film didn’t live up to it: Green Zone.

The first ten minutes are an exhilarating sequence of events surrounding the beginnings of the war in Iraq.

Explosions scream across the sky, the camera pans up, the title card shows up, and then the movie dissolves into a boring, muddled, mess of polemics.

Harry Potter and the Fact I’m 22 now.

Let's take a second and remember how young we once were.

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The LA Times recently published this article, and it got me thinking about the franchise as a whole, and what it’s meant for me.

I was ten when I began reading the books–one of my first memories is being so addicted to them that I’d go to Costco and pick up a sale copy and sit under the table reading until my parents were done. I didn’t think it was weird, I was in a completely different universe.

I can remember listening to my 6th grade history teacher read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban to us after lunch. And ruining the whole book for the class because they were pissing me off one day. I had a thing for overreacting back then.

I can remember being in 7th grade and going to the Edwards 22 and seeing the first film in theater #11. I was the only one to sit with the handicapped girl who came on the field trip.

I can remember when the second film came out and it was one of the last ones I saw with my mom before I got too cool to see movies with her.

I burned through those first three books and then waited for the fourth one, the fifth, the sixth, the seventh, even though the final installment didn’t come out until I was in college.

The numbers that the LA Times mentions are staggering. 8 films in ten years, two on the way, and already “almost $1 billion profits…”

This is a saga that, for my generation, is as integral to our upbringing as the advent of social media. I can’t remember any other books being talked about so gleefully at school. It seemed like everybody was reading them. Or was pissed off that their parents wouldn’t let them read the books. When each successive novel hit throughout my adolescent years, there came with it a buzz–even in High School (even though I was in band, it still seemed like very few people [jocks, the popular kids, the ones who grew up too fast] were above reading them.)

But the movies. My God. It’s amazing that they were able to take such a mythologically thick world and translate them into 2 and a half hour films that, aside from the 5th book, do them justice.

The fifth film is an anomaly because the longest book got beset with the shortest film. Since Rowling was a pivotal player in the developments of the films, she was basically admitting that most of that book was not as important as one thinks.

As the films came out, more people were picking up the books and reading the newer installments. The drive to see these films never ebbed.

If they had waited until the series was completed to make the films, I wonder if the films would’ve been as profitable. Up until the final book got released in 2007, there was this feeling that no one knew where these stories were going, and maybe, just maybe, the films would offer up yet foreshadowing clue to the events at hand.

And, now, this is the curtain call. The final two. The Red Zone of a franchise that will never be duplicated in terms of both profit and quality.

‘Without Scandals’

One of the most interesting points made by the article comes at the end of a sentence, almost as a throwaway thought: “Producer David Heyman and his team were able to keep their cast intact — including the young lead stars who started as adolescents and grew into young adults with millions in the bank, and no scandals.”

Think about all the child actors who, as they turned from kids to adults, got into trouble. Drew Barrymore, Lindsay Lohan, Danny Bonaduce, Corey Feldman, half the cast of anything on VH1.

The only thing even close to a scandal caused by Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, and Daniel Radcliffe was when Radcliffe decided to show off his dick in a play called Equus. And even that was received with a collective “meh.”

There has been nothing stopping these folks from churning out these movies. They haven’t devolved into parodies of themselves from the first film. They’ve grown as actors and as people.

And, now, this is the end. Emma Watson’s already cut off her Hermione hair. Daniel Radcliffe is now poised to be a star on Broadway or in film. Rupert Grint… well… I have no idea. I really liked him, so I hope he’s not the one who gets stuck showing up at conferences while the other ones have all the success.

Outer Dark

These films have switched from being whimsical children’s films about a brand new world to being about love and death. The maturation of the characters and the maturation of the themes is something that I’m surprised has been held true.

The first two films, and half of the third, had lower stakes than the back half of the franchise. They were more focused on being introduced into this world of Witchcraft and Wizardry than they were about Voldemort. He was an idle threat who was still trying to put the pieces back together so he could rule the world.

Then, all of a sudden, he became a real threat. And the films followed suit. They could’ve attempted to keep the same light, whimsical, tone of the first two, but, instead, brought on an indie heavyweight in Alfonso Cuaron for the third film to help usher in the darker days ahead.

This is a franchise that has been kept interesting because they haven’t shied away from the darker things in the novels.

Just as everything in the world has gone sour, so has Harry Potter. But, as in the novels, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. And an epilogue for all.

IMAX is still trying to fuck you in the butt (but at least they’re honest about it)

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In the summer of 2009, Aziz Ansari, of Parks and Recreations fame, posted this. He’s pissed because he got duped into paying for IMAX when the screen clearly wasn’t IMAX-sized.

Then, all of a sudden, everybody made a stink, calling out IMAX, AMC, and Regal for basically robbing customers of a surcharge. Around this same time, the LIEMAX blog was booming as it mapped real vs. fake IMAX screens. It even made on the local news in Vegas.

Then, on Friday August 14, 2009, the blog shut down. And so did all of the hullabaloo, it seemed, without any reconciliation or apologies from IMAX.

Luckily, IMAX.com’s map now makes that same distinction for you. On their site, they specify whether a theater is “Traditional IMAX” or “real” and “Multiplex Design” or “fake.”[1]

Multiplex designs, according to the IMAX website,  are described as such: “…the old screen has been replaced with a larger, slightly curved, IMAX screen, that is positioned closer to the viewer to maximize field of view; IMAX screens in multiplex design locations range in size from 47′ x 24′ to 74′ x 46′.”

Traditional IMAX screens are described as ranging in size between 51′ x 37′ to 117′ x 96′ so even if you wind up with a traditional screen that’s comparable to a multiplex design, you’re getting precisely what the engineers intended when it comes to placement of seats, speakers, and screen.

It’s amazing, quite honestly, that IMAX seems to pride themselves on giving one the biggest and best image on top of the best sound but, now, they’re just upcharging to cover the cost of replacing a projector with a similar one that runs a larger format–and the cost of upgrading it to digital when the time comes.

What it comes down to is money, obviously. Since the IMAX name has become synonymous with quality and giant screens, they’re able to do a half-ass renovation of a theater, put up four giant blue letters, and charge you extra.

The most interesting development to come out of this is that Regal and AMC have come up with their own versions of multiplex IMAX–the Regal Premium Experience (RPX) and the Extreme Theater Experience (ETX).

Basically, they’re the half-assed multiplex designs but without the naming rights.  And maybe leather seats[2]. One has to wonder whether or not this was IMAX’s doing so that they didn’t completely tarnish their name.

With true IMAX, there are some things that nobody seems to be able to replicate–crystal clear, giant-ass picture, and such a heavy sound system that it sucks the air out of your lungs. Even during a film like Inception that is presented across the middle of the screen, it’s still the biggest middle of the screen you’ll get–that is, in a traditional screen.

I’ve known about this and haven’t gotten duped into multiplex IMAX yet, so I couldn’t tell you if at least the sound was up to par.

Either way, it’s some rank bullshit that I wanted my readers to be aware of.

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[1] Because these instructions are long and stodgy, I’m gonna put’em down here:

  1. Go to imax.com. The flash will load. Along the top there is a box labeled “Find your ‘IMAX.’” Type in your location into the grey box next to the label.
  2. When you do that, a map will show up with all the IMAX theaters within something like 30 miles of your specifified location.
  3. Some are blue (3D!), some are green (not 3D), some are dark blue (domes, usually at science centers), some are orange (coming soon).
  4. Pick one and hover over it. The box will expand to give the name and location of the theater with a bunch of links underneath it including “Buy Tickets,” Directions, etc. The one you want to click on for these purposes is “Theater Description.”
  5. A new box will pop up and the first words will either be This is a multiplex (fake) Imax or this is a traditional (real) IMAX.
  6. If fake IMAX, find the nearest real IMAX. You might as well drive to get the most for your money. It’s harder to find real IMAX in bigger cities (for example: There are three IMAXes on the Island of Manhattan, only the one at the Loews Lincoln Center is traditional).

[2] At the one RPX I went to at the Times Square Regal E-Walk, there were leather seats. It was a nice, unnecessary touch. I don’t care if there’s cum stains on my chairs so long as the sound and the picture are top notch. I don’t pay for seats, I pay for cinema.

9x9x9: Billy Madison–you gotta get your ass out there and find that fucking dog.

I was in 3rd grade when this film came out and my mom took me to see it in theaters.

It was PG-13, it was Adam Sandler, it seemed acceptable. A few others in my classroom saw it, too, and we were the lucky ones. The upper echelon of cool to third graders.

Since then, this movie became another family classic like Blazing Saddles–one that I’ve seen an innumerable amount of times, that I can quote with regularity, that’s a mainstay for sick days.

But it’s not until now that I begin to consider it critically.

Let’s put it out there, it’s in no way a high-art all time greatest film. But it’s fucking hilarious. And that’s all it needed to be for it to be rendered a success.

Comedy is a genre that can get by with its laughs. Horror gets by with its thrill. Action with its explosions. They are films built for for a purpose and a set reaction. If you can illicit the promised reaction–irregardless of whether or not it comments on some facet of life–then it has accomplished what it promised. The Slasher films or grossout comedies that both deliver on their promise and make some comment on life are the high echelon–Punch Drunk Love, Heat, Cache, etc.

Billy Madison isn’t one those films. But it’s goddamn good at doing what it came to do. Like an excellent carpenter who says he’s gonna build you the best fucking cabinet you’ve ever seen, this movie says it’s gonna deliver gut busting laughs. It does.

This is Adam Sandler at the top of his game in the first film of his late-90’s dominance as the box office king of comedy. He would develop better characters later (Robbie in the Wedding Singer) but this is him just developing his arrested-development character that he’s used throughout his film career.

There is a very interesting element to it, structure-wise.  It’s built as a kid’s film. Like, there’s the requisite life lesson about believing in yourself, and clear cut lines vis a vis the characters. There’s the princess to rescue, the flawed hero, the single-dimensioned villain, the villain’s good-hearted assistant who got hired by the wrong team. There’s even a musical number.

The only real difference between this film and a marketed-as-a-kids movie is that the adult jokes that are subtle in something by Pixar or Dreamworks is overt in this film.

I'll turn this goddamn bus around. Then there'll be no goddamn field trip.


It’s interesting to consider, then, that as a child, you didn’t understand those jokes. And, seeing this film, kids don’t understand those jokes–and most everything else that Chris Farley says. They may be far more pronounced/cheeky, but they still remain lost on the child’s limited range of understanding.

When I was in third grade, the only thing that really stuck with me was the fact they said “fuck.” This was the first instance of ever hearing that in a PG-13 film, so it was exciting to experience an “R-Rated” element or whatever I would conceptualize it as as a third grader.

But, then again, any child will get it when Billy makes out with a picture of Veronica and tweaks her imaginary nipples. That didn’t go unnoticed by me, and as a result, I had to close my eyes.

This film, then, is simply a kids movie for adults. One that can be enjoyed by adults and kids alike without the stigma of “seeing a kids movie” even though that’s ostensibly what it is.

9x9x9: Star Trek 2009–wictor wictor 9,2 (access denied)

I had no previous affiliations with Star Trek before this movie. To be honest, my mental image of the show and the movies was that it was stodgy and overly thoughtful vis a vis trying to be a cultural voice of reason over a sci-fi show.

And that’s fine. M*A*S*H* worked great like that, too. It was a show of my parents’ age and, since my parents never watched it, I never watched it.

I only saw this reboot because shit blew up in space. At least, the first time.

I saw a second time because I was blown away by how well paced, well acted, well scored, well directed, and well put together the movie is.

I saw it a third time because I had the chance to see it in IMAX. Simple as that.

But I wouldn’t have seen it subsequent times if it weren’t a great movie, and one that made me actually start watching Trek in syndication on late night television.

Let’s start with the first ten minutes of the film–when George Kirk only hears his son’s first breathes as he flies into the ship to save 800 lives. This movie starts off with a powerful setpiece that packs a lot of emotion and kickass visuals into a small amount of space.

To the untrained eye, this is just something that’s really cool. But to the trekker, this is the first indication that this is a different Star Trek, on a different timeline. Spock Prime mentions this later in the film when he tells Kirk that he knew his father, and that that was the reason he went into Starfleet.

In this universe, his dad dies about 30 seconds after his birth.

And James T. Kirk as a small boy is a rebellious little Iowan. The first scene we see of him is after he’s stolen his dad’s incredibly vintage car, goes out for a joyride, and then drives it off a cliff.

Cut to Vulcan where young Spock is terrorized by full blooded Vulcans because he has a human mother. Then he beats the shit out of their ringleader. And bleeds green.

These first three portions of the film are fucking awesome. They’re paced quickly, and throw you headlong into this universe by giving you a glimpse of them as children.

The rest of the movie is just as badass, I promise.


JJ Abrams works with his cast on the bridge.


The biggest thing for me about this movie is one I didn’t find out about until I got the special edition DVD and watched some of the behind the scenes featurettes. It turns out that director JJ Abrams wanted to use as much practical effects and real locations as possible–this is why they filmed the scenes on the engineering deck of the Enterprise in a brewery instead of building a set (though when Kirk gets marooned on an ice planet, that part was shot in a parking lot. You do what you can).

The other thing they showed was that Abrams would slap the camera body during scenes to get the shaky effect of being on an starship in battle. This is something that’s really easy to do in post–Final Cut calls it the “Earthquake” (or Short Cuts [spoiler alert link]?)–but looks so much more authentic when the actual apparatus doing the filming is shaking.

It didn’t stop there, either. The VFX guys decided to enhance some of their footage by putting a motion capture device on a desk, slapping the desk, and adding the movement to the “camera” of the CGI. I thought that was pretty wicked that they continued this idea to its endth instead of trying to make it look completely perfect and thereby inorganic/completely different from the shakiness of the onboard shots.

As these last 300 words can attest to, this is a movie that allows nerds to completely go balls deep about. There’s so many little intricacies and fun things about the production to discover. To someone like me, the discovery heightened the viewing experience.

Even if you aren’t a nerd or a geek or a Trekker or whatever, there’s still a lot to appreciate about this movie.

The cinematography is fantastic for a modern day action film. I have no qualms about Baycam, it’s shakiness, or it’s lack of geographic continuity for the viewer, but this film is done in a completely different style that actually shows you a wide angle on what’s occurring as well as shaky closeups. Watch an action scene from Transformers then watch, say, those opening ten minutes. Completely different, right?

And I like that about this movie. It’s completely different  by its eschewing both modern action aesthetics and it’s actual, y’know, storyline.

Christopher Nolan’s Batman films started this whole rash of thoughtful, compelling, tentpole films that focus on story as well as kickass visuals.

Sure, Spiderman and Spiderman 2 did this, but there was no darkside to it. And that’s the major difference–tentpoles are free to play, now, with the whole psyche of a character. It’s almost becoming expected.

When it doesn’t occur–cf, X-Men Origins: Wolverine–it’s even more disappointing than it used to be because of great big beautiful films like the Dark Night and Star Trek and Watchmen. At least it’s disappointing to me. I like story. I like shit blowing up. I like set pieces. I like shakycam. Make me care about what’s going on and you’ll guarantee my ass will be in the seat again.

This movie makes me care about what’s going on. It builds characters deep enough to care about and intriguing enough to keep your attention. I love that Spock flares up with rage from time to time. I love that Capt. Kirk is arrogant and confident.

I’m pretty sure I’ve gone on record and stated that Michael Giacchino is my favorite composer right now. His score in this film is probably some of his best work. The problem, though, is that I haven’t really figured out how to articulate how well a score works for me. So we’ll leave it at that.

This movie’s sequel is due in 2012. I hope the world doesn’t end before I get to see it in IMAX.