Sunday, November 30, 2014


The best theatrical experience of 2014 happened a week ago when I went to see INTERSTELLAR in 70mm on the IMAX screen. If you have the opportunity to see this film in that format then I highly recommend you see it. Immediately! But if you can't, then see it anyway at your local multiplex. It's a film worth seeing in a theater on the big screen.

Film vs. Digital Presentation, where do I stand? In a movie theater I prefer seeing a movie that was shot on film. Those days are numbered. Sadly, what's gone completely is the sound of the projector . I miss it deeply. All the theaters in town have converted to digital projectors. Before the switch over one of my favorite theatrical activities was going to midnight showings of classic and or cult films. If a 35mm print of JAWS is playing at a theater near you, it's worth going! I hate nothing more than going to a midnight showing of say THE LOST BOYS and it turns out to be a DVD blown up on a big screen. Yeah, of course I don't have a theater size screen at home but DVD? Seriously? I can watch that at home, thank you very much.

Probably the worst experience to date with film vs. digital was a few months ago when I went to see a Duran Duran concert film at the theater. I know, I know you're probably thinking Duran Duran? Really Caleb? Hey, I liked them when I was a kid and plus the main draw for me was that the concert film was directed by David Lynch! Unfortunately when the movie started it was a blu-ray. The weird thing about it was that the concert was one of those via satellite performances. It was meant to be seen live. The lead singer even mentioned fans watching from movie theaters. So why are we watching it on a disc? I almost left to get my money back but was too lazy. Several others complained, mentioning they could have just watched this at home.

Now of course when it comes to watching movies at home I want the best presentation possible. Blu-ray all the way baby! If restored correctly a film can look just as good as it did theatrically. But the experience is not the same. It's hard to explain. I find it similar to the vinyl record vs. compact disc debate. They both sound good, but vinyl has a warmth to it that digital does not. The same with film, there's a (for lack of a better term) texture to it.

I remember seeing volume 2 of KILL BILL and there were “tricks” done with the print. Cigarette burns along with a beeping sound that complemented a reel change or splice in the film. All of that is non existent on home video.

Film will just always look better too. Digital almost made me stop the debate this year with the movie NIGHTCRAWLER. It looked so good that if it was indeed shot on a digital camera then I would stop being so hard on the format. But, what a shocker. NIGHTCRAWLER was shot on film.

Movies shot digitally tend to loose 35mm look if the filmmakers don't know what they are doing. Technology and technique are getting there, take Cinematographer Roger Deakins for example. He shot the latest James Bond film SKYFALL digitally, and the production looks like it was shot on 35mm. So it can be done, but Deakins is one of the best if not the best cinematographers working in Hollywood.

I think I've made my point. Time to move on.

So, this finally brings me to INTERSTELLAR in 70mm IMAX. Was it worth it? Yes, yes, a million times yes!

I really dig Christoper Nolan's directing style as of late. Location shooting, IMAX cameras, practical effects, and the art of miniatures. He is a epic filmmaker. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES may have it's problems but I love the movie because the scale of the movie is so huge. Everything about it feels grandiose. The same can be said for his new film INTERSTELLAR.

In the not so distant future, Earth is becoming a dust planet. The only sustainable crop/food source is corn. That's about to die off soon because nitrogen levels are increasing. So not only will humans starve to death they will eventually suffocate as well.

We meet Cooper, a farmer and father of two. He also just so happens to be an awesome pilot. After discovering some strange coordinates Cooper and his daughter Murph go see where they lead. Their discovery is quite cool, they find NASA working underground. For who knows how long NASA has been planing a mission to find another planet.

Cooper makes the tough decision to leave his kids and join the expedition to find a new home for the human race. Plan A, find a new planet in enough time that the people of Earth and travel to it and be saved. Or plan B, find a planet and populate it with test tube babies. Can Cooper and the team of scientists find the human race a new home in time? Or is time against them? More importantly, space time.

What lies ahead is a pretty epic space adventure. Just let the journey take you. There is something for everyone here. Science nerds will be pleased for the most part. At moments INTERSTELLAR gets knee deep in theories, gravity, black holes, and all that cool stuff. Philosophy isn't left out either. Characters get into discussions about good and evil in the cosmos and if love, if the power of love can factor in it at all. Second to the visuals, these discussions were my favorite thing about the movie.

My only gripe with the film was some pacing issues here and there. A lot of cutting back and forth during a pretty suspenseful and crucial moment. Cooper and his crew hit a major snag and time is of the essence, bet we cut to people back on Earth coughing up dust? That stuff is important but could have been edited somewhere else. The technique worked in INCEPTION, but here I just found it to be a major distraction.

So final thoughts, INTERSTELLAR is the movie event of 2014. Go see it and see it BIG!

Highly Recommended!

Friday, November 28, 2014


The wait is finally over. We now have a 88 second glimpse of the new Star Wars film. Now the real fun begins. The sense of wonderment and excitement of what those 88 seconds have given fans. The Force Awakens indeed.

The STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS 1st teaser trailer gave us more than I was expecting. I honestly expected a non footage trailer with a Tie-Fighter or Millennium Falcon flying toward the screen. Well, I was kinda right?

I love this teaser trailer! Love it. It shows a lot without telling us really anything at all. I like how we get a glimpse of the new cast of characters. Because lets face facts, the original cast considering their age should all play second fiddle. In terms of selling the film that is. In the second trailer we'll see them for sure I bet.

So judging from the trailer it appears that the Empire is still in operation. Or are Stormtroopers under the Republic? I'm gonna say no. From the looks of John Boyega's character in that Stormtroopers outfit, I would guess a covert operation went south. So we have another crash landing on Tatooine. Or is it Tatooine?

The planet is probably Tatooine because next we see a new Droid and who I think is the star of Episode VII, Daisy Ridley. In the 88 second teaser we see her character hop on a cool looking speeder. This was my favorite part of the trailer because it looks the most Star Wars-ish to me. Everything from her costume to the speeder reminded me of the classic Ralph McQuarrie illustrations/concept art.

Then we see Darth Arthur and Sithcalibur. Ever since Darth Maul and his badass lightsaber, we can't have a Star Wars movie without that “nerd sword” moment now. All joking aside I am intrigued at the crude design of the Jedi weapon. The image leaves me wanting to know more. Great stuff!

Now for the money shot! The Millennium Falcon doing an awesome evade maneuver. Notice the new radar antenna! It took me more than a few viewings to notice it but it's there. This makes perfect sense seeing that the old one got destroyed at the end of RETURN OF THE JEDI.

I consider this first teaser trailer a success. It made me excited to be a Star Wars fan again. And that is awesome. Cannot wait for the second trailer!

Sunday, November 2, 2014


JOHN WICK will be my favorite film of 2014. It seems I say that a lot. But I believe good movies should make you feel that. So far this year GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER, SNOWPIERCER, BOYHOOD, THE RAID II, and NIGHTCRAWLER have all been justified for being my favorite film of the year. But 2014 isn't over yet and there are still a handful of movies coming out that could very well claim the top prize. But JOHN WICK will be my favorite film of 2014.

This is the type of action film I've been waiting a long time for. It's filled to the brim with no nonsense tough guys (and gals) who's actions speak louder than words. And by action I'm just not talking about the film's amazing scenes of gun-fu! No sir. Let me just say that looks can kill in JOHN WICK. One of my favorite scenes is when the Russian crime boss is told that his son stole John Wick's car. The expression (acting) on his face is priceless. Without a single word of exposition you realize this guys son just messed up, messed up big time.

I love the world building that is in JOHN WICK. It feels very much like a comic book or graphic novel. It's very tongue-in-cheek but the film plays it straight. I like how there is a lavish hotel that assassins go to, and while staying at the Continental they honor a code of no violence.

That's right. John Wick is a hitman. A retired hitman seeking vengeance on the punks who stole his car and killed his dog. John's dog was a gift from his terminally ill wife. She bought it for him in hopes to ease the grievance of her passing. It did. Until some punks killed it because John wouldn't sell his car to them.

To make matters worse John finds out that the punk responsible is the son of his former boss. Russian mob boss Viggo Tarasov. Viggo tries to reason with Wick but there's nothing he can say or do, John Wick the Bogeyman is coming for vengeance. Yeah, this guy is so bad ass that they gave him the nickname, The Bogeyman!

The nickname fits seeing that John Wick is pretty much the Jason Voorhees of assassin hitmen. Just replace the signature machete with a gun. Lots of guns.

JOHN WICK is the directorial debut of David Leitch and Chad Stahelski. These guys have a extensive background in assistant directing and stunt coordinating. Mr. Stahelski happened to be Keanu Reeves stun double in all three Matrix films.

Hopefully JOHN WICK does well enough at the box office that way we can see more action films from Leitch and Stahelski.

The screenplay was really good too. I wonder if Derek Kolstad is a big fan of Richard Stark novels? Or a Lee Marvin fan?

My only complaint of the film is that it was shot digitally. Trust me, you can tell. It stuck out like a sore thumb, especially after seeing NIGHTCRAWER which was without a doubt shot on film. I was nervous at first but once the action and story kicked into high gear it didn't bother me. The important thing is that the story made me forget about it. I only bring up this complaint because digital can look cheep if the filmmakers don't know what they are doing.

Final thoughts. JOHN WICK is an action film made for action movie fans. So if that's you then I recommend this film to the highest degree!

Saturday, November 1, 2014


NIGHTCRAWLER will definitely find a place on my Top 10 Favorite Films of 2014 list. It may or may not claim the number one spot, but I think it's safe to say that Jake Gyllenhaal has given the best performance of the year. He is amazing in this! His character Lou Bloom is one for the ages. Probably the best sliver screen sociopath since Travis Bickle is TAXI DRIVER.

To be honest I had low expectations for NIGHTCRAWLER going in, mostly because of me not being a very big Jake Gyllenhaal fan. Needless to say I was speechless leaving the theater. Not only does the film have a career defining performance, it is one of the best written, shot, and directed films of 2014.

From the opening shots of nighttime Los Angeles, California I was hooked. This film is beautiful, which is no big surprise seeing that it was shot by Robert Elswit, one of my favorite cinematographers. I love the look of this film! It's beautiful and ugly at the same time. Cinematographer Robert Elswit does a fantastic job complementing the films exploitative 'tabloid' news nature with giving L.A a grimy over-saturated look.

Lou Bloom is a driven young man who may have read one too many 'Self Help' and 'How to Succeed In Business' books. One night his entrepreneurial spirit leads him to the high-speed world of L.A crime journalism. Or 'nightcrawling' as it's called. Freelance camera crews who film crashes, fires, murder, and other mayhem. These siren chasers then sell their footage to local news stations for money. It's a sleazy way to make a living but Lou Bloom is thinking longterm. He eventually wants to run his own video production company. But looking for that big break Lou begins to blur the line between observer and participant.

The film is a satire on modern media, which isn't new. But luckily it tackles the subject matter well, too well you might say. It's sad that we live in a time where satire on modern media isn't so satire anymore. Viewers don't want journalism, these days it's all about tabloid news.

I think I've said enough, talking about the film anymore would be a crime.

It has been nearly 24 hours since I saw the film and I still cannot stop thinking about NIGHTCRAWLER. The film grabbed me from the beginning. I fell in love with each scene wondering what Lou Bloom would do next. Radiating on screen you just know something is behind those eyes that you better not piss off. The movie is satire and darkly funny, but by the films climax I don't think you'll be laughing anymore.

Final thoughts. Go see NIGHTCRAWLER for a career defining performance from Jake Gyllenhaal. Stay for the clever satire and nail-biting tension filled twists and turns.

Highly recommended!