Thursday, April 26, 2012

Episode 2 of the PieKast

Here is the Second installment of the PieKast Podcast.  We saw The Cabin in the Woods, our guest was Rich Cadwallader. Our sound issues have cleared up and we have some bumper music.  Please let us know how we are doing, do you want to join us? Or Host a podcast at your pie serving establishment, send us an e-mail.
Piekast S1E2


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Movies 101 - The Third Man

The Third Man – 104min – NR

Post war Vienna is the setting of this story of intrigue and mystery. American pulp author Holly Martins (Joseph Cotton) comes to town on the invitation of his friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles) to find out his friend has been killed in an automobile collision. He looks into his friend’s death and finds out that the police have been looking into the case half heartedly because Holly’s friend has been linked to the black market. Maj. Calloway (Trevor Howard) is the point person in the investigation and tries to warn Holly off the case and warn him of the dangers of Vienna’s underworld. Holly meets some of Hary’s friends and one of them is stage actress Anna Schmidt (Valli) together they uncover the truth behind their friend’s death.

I now have a new definition of the noir style of film, when I think noir I now think of this film. This is an excellent example of the genre. The pacing and tension are elements that make this film outstanding. The dialog is also engaging even today, it does not lose itself in the lingo of the age it was made. I think this movie stands up well in its engagement of the viewer. I need to do more research on the film in its creation but it seems like it’s not tied down to any formula. I have a bit of a spoiler here so avert your eyes if you need to for this next sentence. I loved how the guy does not get the girl in the end. That ending made the movie seem real to me, they did not tie it up in a clean little bow and make everyone happy. It was a dark, gritty, rough and enjoyable story.

I liked many of the shot compositions in this film, when the tension as supposed to build the camera was set at an angle ever so slightly; the rooms in the shot were not exactly square. The uses of the same simple music played at different speeds made it almost feel like the soundtrack was in mocking contrast to the elements on screen. It was peppy as if to soften the images that were going on. I also enjoyed how we were exposed to different languages that kept the star and the audience in the dark about our surroundings.

My take way:

I have to watch the movies twice to really look at them. Roger Ebert screened Silence of the Lambs at the University of Colorado Boulder several years ago and showed it twice. I was reminded of how and why he did it that way. The first night we fell into the story, and the second night we could dissect the movie without getting lost. After watching a few of these films I have to start doing them in the above format just to get a good look at the movies. For this film I learned that really good stories do not have to have a happy ending to be really good. I wish Hollywood would remember this as well.

I watched this movie on DVD from Netflix.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Movies 101 – Trouble in Paradise

Trouble in Paradise – 83 min – UR

This film is a romantic comedy between two Lily (Miriam Hopkins) and Gaston (Herbert Marshall). They find love in Venice after discovering that each is a master of the thiefly arts. The happy bandits go to Paris to apply their arts when they find a plump pigeon running a perfume factory. The two criminals go to work for Madame Mariette Colet (Kay Francis) with plans of stealing a fortune from her safe. The con is almost compete but someone from their past recognizes Gaston. The plan needs to be pushed up and the Gaston is now having feelings for her. Lily feels the relationship changing and beats Gaston to the prize. He realizes that he can’t make a life with Mariette and he heads off into the sunset with his partner in crime.

This move was a great combination between humor and romance with a bit of heist movie mixed in. This is a film that was shot before the enforcement of the Hays Code. There are elements that are suggestive in nature and in its time was considers not suitable for public viewing. My, have times changed. Today this film would be ok for public television. It has some sexual innuendo but never really crosses that line. I think that for the time it was following the intention of the production code but not the spirit.

The film had an interesting pace to the edits and to the story telling. I never felt like I was seeing any wasted scenes or thrown together shots. Everything was meticulous in setting and content. Sometimes a film that has such a clean feel, it sometimes feels overly scripted or disingenuous. This one did not suffer from that at all.

My take way:

I was so involved with the story I did not look at the movie with as critical an eye I usually do. What will stick with me is the performance of Edward Everett Horton. I first saw him in Pocket full of Miracles when he stole the show as the butler. This self-education of film history is going to take me through a lot of films some I will like, some I will not feel anything for, some I might even hate. But I appreciate all films for making us feel something. My plan was to look at these movie to learn something, with this one, I learned I like it.

I watched this movie on DVD from Netflix.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

New Podcast

Well, here I am trying to jury rig a podcast. Soooo I am using Dropbox to house the Files and I will use Blogger to distribute, but I want to see if I can get it on ITunes.  I Need to dig some more.

Here is a copy of the PieKast S1E1 Podcast please listen and let me know what you think?

And if you have any advice please let me know.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Movies 101 - Battleship Potemkin

Battleship Potemkin – 75 min - UR
This movie tells the story of one battleship in the Russian navy in 1905 that was the birth of a rebellion. The crew revolt against the Tsarist Officers in the crew. They have only one loss in the coup and lay to rest his body on the dock in Odessa. The locals see the body and the sign that said “he was killed over a spoonful of borscht”. His death moves the locals and they support the mutinous crew. Their support cost them in retaliation from the local Tsar’s soldiers. The soldiers start shooting into the crowed and kill many civilians. The battle ship retaliates and takes out a government building. The admiral’s squadron sailed in to confront the Potemkin. There are tenuous scenes where they prepare for a fight but unsure of how they will be received by the oncoming ships. The ships sail up and the confrontation ends in a celebration of the brave crew that threw off the yolk of the tyrannous regime.

This was an unapologetic propaganda film, made to drum up support for the rebellion of the crew. You can see it in the way that people were very animated and many different shots of elements that everyone can identify with. The evil soldiers were very robotic and we never see their faces we only see them move like relentless and emotionless automatons and we see them shoot over and over again. This movie was made in 1925 and the violence of the stairway scene was quite horrific. Even for today there are some shots that cross a line or two. They are not as ... juicy as we make movies today but the emotional tie to the characters is undeniable.
I studied the editing experiments of Eisenstein in the Montage, a way of cutting a film together that combines two shots to tie in a connection between them. A famous example I heard (I am unsure if it was him) you take a picture of a man without any emotion and set it next to a picture of a little girl playing; a viewer will infer that the man was happy and thinking about his grand-daughter. If you take that same set up and show a grave stone, the viewer will infer that the man was sad and thinking about death. Nothing changes form the first seven the synthesis of the shots infers meaning.
My take away:
This is a great movie to watch for an example of how to direct a viewer to feel a specific way, through the power of editing. How you cut a film together is vital to the way people receive it. Again we see that film can be used to influence people’s thoughts ideas and feelings by tapping into emotional responses.
I watched this movie on Hulu

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

If I were a casting director...

...and this book were made into a movie I would audition these people first.

I challenged people on Facebook to cast the movie version of Pazuzu’s Girl here is how I would do it, please read the book and let me know how you would change this list.  You can buy a copy of it here at Goodreads

If you have read the book what do you think of my sections. PLease feel free to commnet on my facebook page or make a list of your own and send it to me I will post it.

Amr Waked as Pazuzu

Oded Fehr asLugal

LoganHuffman as JD

Freida Pinto as Etain

Cliff Curtis as  Mr Agresti

Michael Dorn as Gallursa

TildaSwinton as Ereshkigal

Tara Platt as Jan

Rose McGowan as Lamashtu

Pazuzu's Girl

Movie execs are looking for the next “Harry Potter” series. I think that they may be looking for a series when they could be looking for unique stories. Yes the boy who lived made a mint for everyone but that’s only going to happen once in a lifetime.

Fat Samurai rated Green light

They need to look at books like the one from Rachel Coles Pazuzu’s Girl. I just finished it and it was a great ride. The book was written in a way that made it easy to visualize, it was cinematic, with plenty of emotion and just the right amount of teen angst without making it tedious, like the boy who whined… err I mean lived.
The story surrounds the daughter of the plague demon Pazuzu. That might sound familiar to the readers who played the old school MMORPGs called D&D. He was in the First Monster Manual II, I never faced him but he was quite nasty. Yes, I am a Geek. He has a daughter Morpho and they are trying to stay hidden from the evil baby eating demon Lamashtu. (Pazuzu and her have history)

There are some really likable characters and some great dialog that makes the interactions enjoyable to read. It’s hard to have ancient characters mix with a modern setting but Coles gives these mythical beings personality and they are like people you could meet on the street. I would like to have a beer with some of them.

Please give this a quick look; it’s a fast read and an enjoyable one. Your homework is to go out and look for a great story and come back and share it with us.

I got my copy at Amazon
Spoiler Warning!!!! I am going to talk about some of the characters here so come back here after you read it.

JD stole the show; I really loved him and his ghost fighters. I was heartbroken when he said good bye to his Mother. Man that was emotionally devastating. I also thought that his defense of Morpho was great, that kid has spirit.

Morpho was a strong female and hand no problem showing her vulnerability with her world falling apart, she also transformed from a kid to a young woman who has a new world to explore. I really did not mean to do a butterfly pun there but the symbolic transformation on a lot of levels was well written.

I want to go for a ride with Gallursa; I think that his story could have been expanded on, perhaps in another book. He reminded me of Falkor for some reason.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Movies 101 – The Wild Bunch

The Wild Bunch - 145min – R

A group of aging outlaws are looking for one final score to end their carrier on. They set up this elaborate heist on the railroad, that turns out to be a trap. An ex member of their gang has been released from prison and is now working for the railroad bounty hunters. They escape but without the loot. The bounty hunters peruse them because they have 30 days to get them or no one gets paid, and the ex gang member has to go back to prison. The gang lays low in Mexico and find themselves working for a warlord and self proclaimed general of the revolutionaries. They pull a highest for him to acquire several cases of weapons and work out an elaborate way to ensure that they will get paid for the score. One of their members gets caught skimming and is captured by the General. They are now faced with leaving with the gold or going back to rescue their captured member. They decide to help their fallen companion and go out in a blaze of glory.

I watched westerns with my grandfather; he was my introduction to the genre. I Thought about him when I watched this film, this film is way more racy than the films we watched on TV but I know that he would have enjoyed the elements of this film. Being a fan of the western I play a game called Red Dead Redemption. There are so many elements of this move in this game. That is something to look into if you have not played it and you enjoy westerns. 

What I liked most about this film is the beginning and the end. The beginning because of the massive gun fight, they had so much coverage from a film making standpoint. And the same reasons at the end. It was a massive gun fight that starts off not how you expect a gunfight to go. They shoot the general and there is a moment there where none else shoots, it almost looks like they are going to get away with it. I also like the blending of shots and angles and speeds.  

My Take away:

This movie used multi-angle editing and is a great example of the technique. The gun fights that had long shots and close ups and slow motion intermixed with live action. That really add a different life to the event we are watching.  I also appreciated the writing; there are two separate story lines here one of the gang and one of the bounty hunters. I enjoyed how they merged at the end but it was wonderful story telling in braiding two separate stories this way.  

I watched this Film on DVD from Netflix