Mr. Cellophane

In a location adjacent to a place in a city of some significance, what comes out of my head is plastered on the walls of this blog.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

It's the 40th anniversary of Comic-Con. Apparently, one has to make arrangements to go months in advance, so it's pretty clear that I'm not going. Rest assured though, whether as a fan, someone who made a movie or just crashing for the hell of it, I will attend someday. For now, though, here are this year's highlights:

Thursday the 23rd:
- Comic-Con Film School Session I: Pre-production and Screenwriting (the first of four parts on how to make a low-budget movie; I'm reminded of the video camera I bought last year, but never opened)
- Summit Entertainment - Astro Boy (not as familiar with the source material as I probably should be, but the trailer looked amusing and the voice cast is intriguing)
- Disney: 3D Panel (a look at the studio's upcoming 3D films, moderated by Patton Oswalt; I think he'd be reason enough to check this out)
- Archie Comics: Archie Marries Veronica (Okay, first of all, did not see that coming. Second, I'm super-curious about 'the latest news about Archie on television and in feature films!'.)
- Bongo Comics Sneak Peek (as a regular purchaser of the "Futurama" comic, this is quite interesting)
- Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey (not really interested in the film, but holy shit, that voice cast...Luke Skywalker, Captain Kirk (past and present), Darth Vader (also past and present), Little Miss Sunshine, Abe Sapien, The Octopus, Duckman, Eddie Quist and the original man on the Moon)
- 3D Showcase: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, The Hole, The Final Destination (I'm interested in all three films to some extent, but getting to meet Joe Dante - director of The Hole, as well as Gremlins, Piranha, The 'burbs... - would've been the highlight of the day for me.)
- Summit Entertainment (Somewhat redundantly, this is also an Astro Boy panel. There is also a panel here for Sorority Row, which looks fun in a goofy kind of way.)
- Sony Pictures Animation: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (Okay, screw what I said about redundancy just now. Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the film's writer/directors and creators of Clone High, are to be here. Apparently, the main character is Flint Lockwood. That sounds familiar...)
- "Robot Chicken" with "Titan Maximum" (The show's writing staff talks up what looks to be a spinoff. "Robot Chicken" is very hit or miss, but when it hits...)
- 20th Century Fox and James Cameron present Avatar (Cameron's return to filmmaking. Is it worth the wait? Who knows?)
- Cartoon Network: "Chowder"! "The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack"! "Adventure Time with Finn and Jake"! (Two amusing, give-'em-time-to-grow-on-you shows and a heretofore unknown third one.)
- Spotlight on John Kricfalusi (Much has been written about him, though, in spite of it all, "Space Madness" has pretty much earned him a free pass in my book.)
- Kick-Ass (A new film from the director of Stardust, based on a comic from the co-creator of Wanted. At this point, who cares what the movie's about?)
- Comedy Central's "Drawn Together" Movie Roundtable (the show's a guilty pleasure)
- Halloween Comes Early: Trick 'r Treat Screening (What I don't understand is why Warner Bros. lacked the stones to place this much-shuffled around anthology film in theaters.)

Friday the 24th:
- Comic-Con Film School Session II: Production (second part; the actual shooting)
- Warner Bros. (A look at a number of genre films, like the Nightmare on Elm Street remake, Where the Wild Things Are and Sherlock Holmes.)
- Coraline (perhaps my favorite film of the year so far gets an in-depth look)
- Nickelodeon's "The Fairly Oddparents": More Magical Mayhem! ("More?!"; I meant that to sound like the guy from Oliver! There they go with the threats again. Butch Hartman can easily take his place alongside George Lucas and the guy who draws "Funky Winkerbean" in the category of people who used to know how to deliver satisfying product, but, these days, haven't a fucking clue what made their product work in the first place and is determined to make the fans pay for it. Enjoy your ill-gotten gains, you bunch of whores.)
- Disney: Animation Panel (Looking at past and future Disney features under the watchful eye of Patton Oswalt.)
- Robert Rodriguez (I can't help but envy this guy. A one-man film studio and he gets to crank down Rose McGowan. His newest film, Shorts, looks fairly entertaining.)
- Two Funny Frebergs (legendary voice actor/humorist/what have you Stan Freberg and wife Hunter)
- Spotlight on Stephan Pastis (the creator of the hilarious comic strip "Pearls Before Swine")
- Production Designers (among the guests are Tim Burton veterans Bo Welch and Rick Heinrichs)

Saturday the 25th:
- The Black Panel (if nothing else, this solves the mystery of what happened to Kel Mitchell)
- Marvel: Hero Up with "The Super Hero Squad Show"! ("Angry Beavers" creator Mitch Schauer has a new project, though Charlie Adler voicing Dr. Doom? I'm curious to see how that works.)
- Comic-Con Film School Session III: Working with Actors and a Crew (Seems pretty easy to me: tell them what to do, don't trash anyone's scene and make sure the camera's in wonder I'm still at my crappy job.)
- "Family Guy" (featuring a look at the follow-up to "Blue Harvest"...I think I prefered "Robot Chicken's" Star Wars parodies)
- "The Cleveland Show" (The show was approved for a second season before the first ever makes it to air. That means it's got to be good, right?)
- Cartoon Voices I (Ah, to meet the people who bring cartoon characters to life...)
- "Futurama": Life or Death?! (Whether or not the original voice actors are retained for the new season - and they goddamn well better be! - the Fox exec that shows up might need extra security.)
- Miramax: Extract (the newest film from Mike Judge looks pretty good)
- Nickelodeon's "The Penguins of Madagascar": Making a Splash (though suffering from the same unevenness of writing that plagued McCorkle/Schooley's last show, "Kim Possible", this is a very funny follow-up)
- Webcomics Bootcamp (Scott Kurtz, creator of "PVP". That's all I have to say.)
- Spotlight on June Foray ('The first lady of cartoon voices')
- Sony Pictures: Zombieland and 2012 (The latter looks to be another 'Roland Emmerich hates the world, so he's gonna make it his bitch' effects fest, but the former shows real wit and humor. So help me God, if it disappoints me like Year One...)
- Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment: Iron Man 2 (loved the first one)
- Adventures in Voice Acting Workshop (As someone who hopes to enter the business this way should the whole filmmaking thing fall through, this sounds like my kind of event.)
- Kevin Smith (Apparently, he's taking time away from his latest film to do this. What a guy.)
- Black Dynamite (an homage to '70s blaxplotation starring and co-written by Michael Jai White)
- Troma Roast (Troma founder Lloyd Kaufman gets roasted. Methinks it'd have been closer to the roasts of old than the stuff that Comedy Central airs.)

Sunday the 26th:
- Comic-Con Film School Session IV: Post-production and Visual FX (as some of my YouTube videos can attest, I've kind of a yen for editing)
- Cartoon Voices II (more fun with voice actors)
- "American Dad" (the genesis of an episode)
- Business of Cartoon Voices ('a no-nonsense look at the business')

So much to do and so little time.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Random thoughts.

Two straight 'Random thoughts' posts. I hadn't planned it this way. It just happened.

- Watching an episode of "Wizards of Waverly Place" the other day (I was bored. Sue me.), I noticed an odd blur on the screen. I was a little apprehensive that I may have been losing sight, but then I noticed the blur again...and it was localized around the cleavage of the mother. Honestly? Does Disney assume that they have eunuchs in the target audience? Kids are going to be exposed to this sort of thing eventually, so you may as well get it out of the way and hand the ball off to the parents and have them do their jobs. And I thought that naming a character (brace yourself) 'Mr. Laritate' (and you can just imagine the writers dislocating their shoulders when they pat themselves on the back coming up with that one) was the most super-annoying aspect of this show. Actually, it still is, but this runs it a close second.

- The Emmy nominations have been announced...and I couldn't be more livid at some of them. Jim Parsons (his character is such a douche*)! Sarah Silverman (she is so annoying and overrated)! "Family Guy" (even with its incredible laziness)! All nominated! And, once again, no John C. McGinley for "Scrubs". I probably already know the answer to this, but have the producers of the show ever submitted him for Emmy consideration? It would be an infinitely smarter move for them than motherfucking "AfterScrubs"!

- Fox is refusing to meet the salary demands of the "Futurama" voice actors. Those fuckers will not stop messing with the show, will they? First, the 7:00 time slot, then the cancellation and now this. It's enough to make one wish that Torgo's Executive Powder (from the first - and best; anyone who disagrees is not your friend - DTV movie, "Bender's Big Score") was real.

- First, people were all, 'You gotta get DVD players. They're the wave of the future!'. I got a DVD player and amassed a pretty decent collection of titles...then, they were like, 'You gotta get a Blu-Ray. It's the wave of the future!'. If I get a Blu-Ray and some titles, then some months down the line, a new 'wave of the future' comes along, someone's getting kneecapped.

- Apparently, Michael Jackson wanted his sister, Janet, to have custody of his kids. This is the extent of my knowledge of the case...but wouldn't it be cool if she had to smack a bitch just like Willona did for Penny (Miss Jackson...if you're nasty) on "Good Times"? Tell me that wouldn't be slightly awesome.

* - This, kind of, brings me back to I Love You, Beth Cooper (hopefully, this is the last time I mention that title here). The character is supposed to be wicked smart...but the writer(s) thought to themselves, 'Y'know, smart gets boring in a hurry. Can't we just make him a douchey retard?' This is a little something I've concocted called the 'Screech factor'. (BTW, if this ends up on Wikipedia or TV Tropes and I'm not credited, you will perish.)


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Random thoughts - Transformers 2 edition.

Yes, I saw it. For free, but I saw it.

- Maybe it's the fact that I was expecting this film to suck, but the supposedly humorous stuff that people were complaining about (Mrs. Witwicky on grass, the two Car Car Binkseses) had no affect on me. In fact, I found Mudflap and Skids more unnecessary and annoying than offensive...and you're talking to a black guy.

- Apparently, Grey DeLisle voiced Arcee. As a DeLisle fan, I hope she was well-paid for her, what, two lines of dialogue? Maybe it was three. Maybe I'm being generous.

- Frank Welker voiced Soundwave...who sounded like he was less interested in destroying Earth than he was in killing Inspector Gadget.

- There sure were a lot of Male Eye shots of Megan Fox: running in slow-motion, changing clothes for no reason, on a bike in short-shorts...and then you get a shot of John Turturro's ass in a thong. I'm getting some mixed signals here, I got to say.

- Unless you borrowed a Neuralizer from the Men in Black, I can't possibly see how anyone is expected to cover up mass collateral damage caused by giant fighting robots.

- The scene where that blonde chick who was really a - wait for it - robot in disguise and she was shedding her human skin...I don't care how deviant I sound with this; that was freaking hot.

- Michael Bay directing an effectively tense suspense scene? Yes, it happened. Sam and Mikaela hiding in the hovel. Who knew he had it in him?

All in all, I didn't love or hate Revenge of the Fallen. I nothing the film, though that didn't stop me from making these observations.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

I went to the Taste of Buffalo yesterday (I also went Saturday, but that was for a few moments; had to work soon after). In spite of the crowds, I had a nice time. I even devised a grading system for the various food items:

**** - I need to go to the restaurant and order 10 of!
*** - A damn fine meal.
** - It's okay.
* - Yeah...what's in the fridge?

Crab Cake and Bruschetta Combo (Bings) - Quite delicious. The bread was crisp, though I probably should have taken smaller bites of it. ***

Chocolate Chip Cakie (BW's Barbecue) - Very light and tasty. Hard to believe that it was one of the 'healthy options'. ***1/2

Lasagna Rollups (The Como) - A bit too much sauce, but very enjoyable. Good use of cheese. ***

Mandarin Chicken Pasta Salad (Craftsmen Cafe) - cleanses the palate well enough. **

Buffalo Chicken Wing Soup (Danny's Restaurant) - I don't love Buffalo Wings like a lot of others, but this was good. **1/2

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pie (Danny's Restaurant) - Very nice mix of two favorites. ***

Poutine Fries (Jim's Steakout) - I've already tried these, but this Canadian dish of fries, gravy and cheese is hard to resist. ***

Chicken Makhani with Basmati Rice (Kabab and Curry) - A good meal. Could've strongly benefitted from some salt. **1/2

BBQ Spaghetti (Lafayette Tap Room) - Tasted like regular spaghetti to me. Too hot and no cheese. **

Pulled Pork Nachos (Merchant St. Smokehouse) - Very appealing mix of cheese and pork. ***

Junkyard Dog (Ms. Goodies) - Throngs of people gather every year for this...and with good reason. Fish, coleslaw, fries, tartar sauce and hot sauce wrapped in a pita. How can you go wrong? ***1/2

Banana Pudding (Ms. Goodies) - More banana and less coconut would work better. **1/2

Chicken Empanadillas (Papi's Family Restaurant) - I liked the empanadilla more than the chicken. **1/2

Zebb's Brownie (Zebb's Deluxe Bar and Grill) - In the last two days, I've gotten three of them. That clear enough for you? ****

I had to leave because I ate too much...but damned if I'm not raring to go again next year.

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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

And you lot thought I was just talking out of my ass.

I have it on good authority that I Love You, Beth Cooper sucks.

Realy, who'd have thought that Peter Travers would go up in my estimation? Then again, where else could he go?


Saturday, July 04, 2009

Beth Cooper, I loathe you.

I ran into the trailer for this movie a couple of times in theaters. I can't remember when I was so offended and so angry at a trailer*. And even worse, this film will soon be stinking up movie theaters the world over. The film is I Love You, Beth Cooper. To paraphrase a Bobcat Goldthwait joke, 'This film looks so terrible, I'm surprised he's not in it'.

The plot: some geeky dork who looks like he fell out of an R. Crumb comic proclaims his love for the school dish in his graduation speech. She shows him the night of his life while dodging her psychotic ex-boyfriend. Sweet Jesus, where to begin?

I don't know if the people who cut the trailer wanted me to sympathize with the main character (given the cosmic kick-me sign of a name, Denis Cooverman), but it didn't take. For one thing, calling out the psycho jock who could probably snap his spine like a twig may not have been the wisest course of action for a supposed valedictorian. Really, what will this putz do for an encore? Strip naked, smear red paint on the most sensitive parts of his body and jump into a bullfighting ring?

And, let's be honest, it's never a particularly good sign while watching a teen comedy when one's sympathies are more with the mean jock than they are the awkward guy...but then, one thinks of "Clone High" with the obnoxious, womanizing (yet strangely charismatic) JFK and the total drip Abe Lincoln and you see how good writing can turn poor planning into art.

Getting back to one of the film's more infuriating points, the psycho jock is Beth's ex-boyfriend. Something I've really come to hate in contemporary cinema is when the object of the main character's desire is attached to a psychotic, violence-prone alpha male. The girl isn't some self-esteem deficient head case convinced that she can't find anyone better; she's an otherwise intelligent woman who saw something in this quote-unquote 'character' that didn't make her want to call 911. Wedding Crashers is, perhaps, the most obvious example, but there's also Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem and Never Back Down (the storyline of which involved violence, but you know what I mean).

Based on this alone, the girl has to be damaged goods; never mind the infinitesimal possibility that she might actually like you back. If she fell for a dangerous individual like that, it can't augur well for your relationship. Whether the specter of her former beau ("He'd have handled it like this...") or the guy showing up every-fucking-where the two of you go, one has to ask oneself, 'Is good sex (hell, any sex) worth having my face caved in?'.

Even without these ethical problems, the trailer is full of forced wackiness. I mean, there's a raccoon that snarls at the characters (because it's just not a movie if a critter isn't doing some CGI-assisted, couldn't-possibly-do-that-in-real-life trick), the protagonist screaming like a woman (which was funnier - albeit, barely, in Accepted) and having a toaster oven thrown at him (which not only shows how dangerous the jock ex-boyfriend is, but also shows just how gaspingly desperate the filmmakers are to go for a joke).

Seriously, what the fuck happened with Chris Columbus? Sure, his output hasn't been as consistent as, say, a Spielberg or a Hitchcock, but there have been some good films on his resume. This film actually makes the Columbus-produced Jingle All the Way look watchable. (I'd like to take a moment to talk to Satan right now. Satan, hey. I really can't believe you've allowed a team a filmmakers to make a...shall we call it a comedy? Anyway, I can't believe you allowed filmmakers to produce something that makes Jingle All the Way look watchable. I know that evil is your bag and everything, but, dude, seriously, being that much of an asshole? Totally uncalled for.)

In the interest of fairness, I will say that at least the casting directors went after someone who would be believable in the lead role...and that someone is Hayden Panetierre. She definitely fits the role of a high school hottie that a guy would risk a public mauling over far better than, say, Megan Fox. That would've been miscasting on the order of John Wayne as Genghis Khan. (Google it, folks. It really happened.)

The casting of Mr. Cooverman, on the other hand...I don't know Paul Rust, so I can't really say whether or not he'd be perfect, but from what I've seen in the previews (time I'll never get back), he comes off as way too dorky. I wasn't very popular in high school myself (in fact, I was pretty much invisible and non-confrontational), but I think that even I would've ripped on this guy. He comes off as a cartoon. The bad kind. Like the kind that the chick who went on to play Silk Spectre played in that ghastly Heartbreak Kid remake. At the IMDB, someone suggested Christopher Mintz-Plasse. This, I could potentially get behind. After all, he was able to squeeze a few drops of comic blood from the stone that was Year One. Then again, maybe it's best to keep him off the typecasting wagon.

People I've run across online have been saying read the book, but then I get news that scenes from the trailer are taken directly from the source. Reading the original book is now at the bottom of my ever-growing to-do list. Also, I've heard that Fox is withholding the film from critic's screenings. Perhaps, they know they have a turd on their hands and are doing the right thing. But if they cared about the right thing, why would they greenlight the project in the first place?!

Filmgoers can see this if they want, but be forewarned: this is the same studio that produced Bride Wars, Miss March and Aliens in the Attic. If you want to trust your hard-earned money to people like that, that's your business.

* - There have been a number of trailers I hated: Yours, Mine and Ours and American Wedding come to mind. Also - I shit you not - I once walked out on the trailer to Along Came Polly. In terms of writing comedies and cutting trailers, I could do so much better, it's not even funny.

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Empty-V Mewvie Awords - my way.

It's taken me a while, but here is my ballot for the MTV Movie Awards: (Note: only movies I've seen are represented here. Also, my own picks are listed in bold.)

best on-screen duo:
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, Baby Mama
Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway, Get Smart
John Cho and Kal Penn, Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay
Seth Rogen and James Franco, Pineapple Express
Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott, Role Models

best action sequence:
the Guggenheim shootout, The International
the fight on the bridge, Kung Fu Panda
the bicycle chase, Transporter 3
"I'm a lead farmer...!", Tropic Thunder
Wesley's revenge, Wanted

best comedic performance:
Robert Downey, Jr., Tropic Thunder
Anna Faris, The House Bunny
James Franco, Pineapple Express
James Marsden, Sex Drive
Brad Pitt, Burn After Reading

best villain:
Cate Blanchett, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Samuel L. Jackson, The Spirit
Robert Knepper, Transporter 3
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Tim Roth, The Incredible Hulk

best breakthrough performance - male:
Clark Duke, Sex Drive
Brandon T. Jackson, Tropic Thunder
John Krasinski, Leatherheads
Paulie Litt, Speed Racer
Bobb'e J. Thompson, Role Models

best breakthrough performance - female:
Melonie Diaz, Nothing Like the Holidays
Ari Graynor, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
Olga Kurylenko, Quantum of Solace
Alison Pill, Milk
Natalya Rudakova, Transporter 3

best dance sequence:
Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway, Get Smart
Les Grossman busts a move, Tropic Thunder
"Define 'dancing'.", WALL-E

best female performance:
Elizabeth Banks, Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Kat Dennings, Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist
Anna Faris, The House Bunny
Gwyneth Paltrow, Iron Man
Elizabeth Pena, Nothing Like the Holidays

best male performance:
Daniel Craig, Quantum of Solace
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Liam Neeson, Taken
Ron Perlman, Hellboy II: the Golden Army
Sean Penn, Milk

best fight:
Will Smith vs. Charlize Theron, Hancock
Hulk vs. Abomination, The Incredible Hulk
Po vs. Tai Lung, Kung Fu Panda
Jet Li vs. Michelle Yeoh, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
Gabriel Macht vs. Samuel L. Jackson, The Spirit

best kiss:
George Clooney and Renee Zellweger, Leatherheads
Sean Penn and James Franco, Milk
Michael Cera and Kat Dennings, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
James McAvoy and Angelina Jolie, Wanted
Jim Carrey and Heidi Herschbach, Yes Man

best movie:
Iron Man
Tropic Thunder

As for "most desirable female"...why not just put the ladies of The Spirit in the category and call it a day?