Posted by: ckckred | December 8, 2014

In Memory of Dimebag Darrell

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While Cinematic is a film blog, my greatest interest alongside movies is metal.  Despite not looking like the typical metalhead, I almost exclusively listen to bands like Sabbath, Metallica, Priest, and Slayer and wear Iron Maiden or Motorhead t-shirts.  And like many other metal fans, Pantera was the band that introduced me to more extreme metal. Initially a Texas glam act, by the 1990s, after listening to many of the thrash acts that dominated the metal scene in the 80s, Pantera stressed itself into becoming the heaviest band possible, delivering some of the strongest and monstrous metal songs there are. Pantera was undeniably a group effort, with Phil Anselmo’s incredible showmanship, Vinnie Paul’s thunderous drumming, and Rex Brown’s pounding bass, but Dimebag Darrell’s stunning riffing and shredding helped turn the band into major superstars.

Inspired by the likes of Eddie Van Halen and Randy Rhoads and later thrashers such as Kerry King and James Hetfield, Dimebag created some of the best and most memorable riffs in metal history.  While Pantera can’t be fully credited for the creation of groove metal, Dimebag was undoubtedly the master of the genre.  Listen to the ominous “Cementary Gates,” the somber “This Love,” or “Walk,” which captures the entire essence of Pantera’s metal domination in a few short minutes, and you’ll hear the work of a true master, someone who has perfected the guitar to the ultimate extreme.

But other than his extraordinary riffing, Dimebag was also known for being one of the nicest, most down-to-Earth guys in the music business.  Over the past few months, musicians from Dave Grohl to Scott Ian have been talking about their experiences and friendships with Dimebag, from his love of whisky to his easy going nature.  Dimebag’s amicable spirit was a rarity in the serious, egocentric world of rock stars, adding on to his impenetrable legacy.

A decade ago from today, a crazed fan came on stage and shot Dimebag on stage while he was performing with Damageplan, the band he had formed with his brother Vinnie after Pantera broke up.  Despite rumors that Pantera could possibly reunite with Zakk Wylde taking over the guitar work, Dimebag’s death destroyed any chance of the band rejoining.  But the music Pantera made will live on forever, and Dimebag ranks up there with the likes of Tony Iommi as one of the greatest guitarists who ever lived.

Update: Despite saying a few days ago that he would’t be doing anything publicly for Dimebag today, Phil Anselmo wrote a very touching tribute about him over at Rolling Stone.  You can check it out here.

Posted by: ckckred | November 30, 2014

What Do You Think of Trailers?

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This week saw the release of the trailers for the two biggest movies of 2015: the reboots to the Star Wars and Jurassic Park franchises.  Both were preceded by a lot of hype (so much so that there was a trailer for Jurassic World‘s trailer), but they represent one of the biggest trends of movies in recent years: placing a big emphasis on teasers.  Trailers have always been a large part of the film business, but in the Internet age they’ve exploded in popularity due to their increased accessibility.  Now days, people are so obsessive that they”ll watch every trailer for a single movie just to see every detail.  So for this week’s question, I thought I’d ask what do you think of trailers?

In the early days of Cinematic, I used to regularly post new trailers and talk about my thoughts on them.  I’ve retired that feature not just because it became too tiresome and repetitive to comment on every single teaser, but I’ve come to realize that trailers as a whole aren’t too special.  Most of the time they operate as a “Greatest Hits” playlist of a film, showing the biggest and best bits of a picture, which is why I try to watch movies now without seeing teasers (though I couldn’t resist watching Inherent Vice‘s trailer).

But what do you think?

Posted by: ckckred | November 23, 2014

What is Your Favorite Mike Nichols Film?

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Tragically, earlier this week, famed director Mike Nichols passed at the age of 83.  Born in Berlin in 1931, Nichols left Germany with his family to go to America to escape the Third Reich.  In the 50s and early 60s, Nichols gained great fame as a theater director, but became an international star when he entered the film scene.  In 1966, Nichols’ directed Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, which became a critical and box office hit.  Nichols’ latest picture, 2007’s Charlie Wilson’s War, a blazing satire of Congressman Charlie Wilson’s role in Operation Cyclone, showed that the director hadn’t lost his comic touch.  So today, I thought I’d ask what’s your favorite Mike Nichols picture?

For me (and I’m guessing for most people) it would be The Graduate, a picture that helped launch the Golden Age of American Cinema that lasted from the late 60s through the 70s and made Dustin Hoffman a star.  In just about any intro to film course, you’re likely to be shown the famous montage scene set to the tune of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence.”  After almost five decades, The Graduate hasn’t lost any of its importance and still remains one of the most influential American pictures of the 60s.

But what about you?

Posted by: ckckred | November 8, 2014

Whiplash

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Musical devotion is tested to the limit in Whiplash, separating the dreamers from the die-hard players. Since its debut at the Sundance Film Festival, Whiplash has earned a streak of critical praise for its originality and performances, underscored even further that this is director and writer Damien Chazelle’s debut feature. Whiplash is the sort of picture most filmmakers are lucky to achieve once in a lifetime, and Chazelle’s work demonstrates him to be a master of creative storytelling. Whiplash is white-hot electric, often times full of black humor, other times truly terrifying, themes not associated to drumming but couldn’t fit better in Chazelle’s powerful, dramatic story.

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Posted by: ckckred | November 2, 2014

What Do You Think of Roman Polanski?

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Yesterday I watched Roman Polanski’s latest movie Venus in Fur (hopefully I’ll have a review come out later this week).  One thing I particularly noticed was how Venus in Fur‘s theme of sadomachochism relates to Polanski’s own self.  So for this week’s question, I thought I’d ask what do you think of Roman Polanski?

Polanski is one of the most controversial directors out there.  In 1977, he was tried in California after raping a thirteen year old girl, but fled to France to avoid sentencing (the charges still stand today and he’s been called into court many times after his escape).  Since then, he’s filmed exclusively in Europe and despite his notoriety still manages to work with A-list actors as well as win an Oscar for Best Director.  While I think Polanski was and still is a great director (Rosemary’s Baby is one of my favorite horror pictures), I’m stunned and angered that he never received the full extent of his crimes because of his status (though he has paid multiple settlements in court).  A few years back, when Polanski was being held under Swedish authorities, a petition signed by over 100 names in the film community (which include Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, and Woody Allen, another filmmaker who has faced sex abuse charges) that argued:

“We demand the immediate release of Roman Polanski…  Film-makers in France, in Europe, in the United States and around the world are dismayed by this decision… It seems inadmissible to them that an international cultural event, paying homage to one of the greatest contemporary film-makers, is used by police to apprehend him.” (source: Indiewire)

As I said beforehand, I too agree Polanski is one of cinema’s finest current directors, but just because he’s a celebrity doesn’t mean the charges on him should be dismissed.  I apologize if this post is too political for some readers, but this is how I feel.

Posted by: ckckred | October 27, 2014

What Do You Think of the Simpsons World?

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First, I’d like to apologize for having my weekly question post a day late.  I’ve spent little time writing on my blog as of late and part of that reason is that last Tuesday, FXX finally released the long-awaited Simpsons World online, the first time viewers can watch every episode of The Simpsons on the Internet legally.  A few months ago, FXX aired every Simpsons episode in an enormous marathon that helped bring The Simpsons into cultural relevance again after about a decade of wandering in the woods.  I spent the past few days watching classic episodes like “Homer Loves Flanders” and “22 Short Films About Springfield,” helping remove the bad taste of the recent Treehouse of Horror episode, the over-hyped “Clown in the Dumps,” and the absolutely dreadful Family Guy crossover.

So this week, I thought I’d ask what do you think of the Simpsons World?  While it’s great to see The Simpsons online, particularly with some of the episode playlists set up, there are some important flaws in the video-streaming site.  Not all the features FXX promised are up and coming yet, the video playback is not quite as consistent as that of Netflix or HBOGo, and most importantly, the show isn’t screened in its original 4:3 ratio, cropping the older episodes and hurting many of the sight gags (fortunately, FXX has promised these problems will be resolved soon).  But it’s clear that the Simpsons World is made by fans of The Simpsons for fans of The Simpsons, and I couldn’t be happier binge-watching my favorite TV series.  And more importantly, the Simpsons World will give a chance for younger audiences to relive the excitement of watching “Last Exit to Springfield” or “Marge vs. the Monorail” for the first time, helping transition the show into the 21st century.

But what do you think?

Posted by: ckckred | October 19, 2014

Gone Girl

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David Fincher is perhaps the most unique director working today in modern day cinema, being one of the few filmmakers to gain the trust of studio heads, critics, and audiences. But Fincher’s strongest movie isn’t the massively popular Fight Club or the Facebook-expose The Social Network, but Zodiac, a slow-burning mystery that underperformed at the box office and didn’t receive the press either two of those picture did. Zodiac does not aim at populist acceptance; it’s not a blood and guts picture like any of the other number of films made about the Zodiac killer, but a comprehensive investigation that becomes so real and enthralling it feels like you’re in the picture. At over two and a half hours, it was too long for most viewers to embrace, but it’s David Fincher at his tightest and most detailed, evidence of the director’s perfectionist style.

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Posted by: ckckred | October 11, 2014

What is Your Favorite David Lynch Film?

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After over two decades since it last hit the small screen, Twin Peaks will soon return on the air, so it’s as good time as ever to talk about David Lynch.  While Lynch hasn’t done a new picture since 2006’s INLAND EMPIRE, he has definitely made a strong mark on modern day film.  Combining Buñuel’s surrealist tone with Wilder’s Hollywood tone, Lynch has crafted movies as thrilling, tense, and frightening as Eraserhead and Blue Velvet.  So today, I thought I would ask what is your favorite David Lynch film?

I would say Mulholland Drive would be my choice (it’s among the best movies of the 21st century in my opinion).  Mulholland Drive is like a nightmarish version of Sunset Boulevard, a twisted mystery that in it’s last thirty minutes completely flips the story around.  Originally shot for television, it’s amazing how complex and complete Mulholland Drive is in its two and a half hour duration.  Blue Velvet, Lynch’s break-out picture and satirical look at a Reagan-ish America, would be next, followed by Eraserhead.

But what about you?

Posted by: ckckred | October 6, 2014

Twin Peaks Will Return in 2016

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Remember in Twin Peaks‘ series finale when Laura Palmer tells Dale Cooper, “I’ll see you again in 25 years?”  Turns out that’s actually happening.  As David Lynch and Mark Frost teased last week, Twin Peaks will return to television in two years on Showtime for a nine-episode limited series.

I already talked a bit about the possibilities of the series’ continuation, but while this news is exciting, it’s also a bit distressing.  The good news is that Lynch is directing all of the new episodes, which will hopefully relive the triumphant Lynch/Frost first season.  And having Twin Peaks air on Showtime means that Lynch and co. can have more creative freedom than on network television, before ABC intervened into the creative process.  But should Twin Peaks really continue?  What’s amazing about the series is that it broke just about all the rules and limitations of television back in the early 90s, featuring controversial topics like rape and incest.  Twin Peaks led the way for shows like The Sopranos and The Wire to take up taboo subjects and change television from being film’s wishy washy younger brother to its greatest rival.  But in today’s TV landscape, when series like Game of Thrones feature a beheading each episode, can Twin Peaks adjust to a rapidly changing industry?  I wish Lynch and Frost the best of luck and will undoubtedly watch the new season, but I’m uneasy how it will turn out.

Posted by: ckckred | October 5, 2014

What Do You Think of Netflix’s Original Movie Deal?

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Recently, Netflix announced that that they would be able to stream the upcoming Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon sequel while the film was playing theaters as well as Adam Sandler’s next four paid vacations movies.  It’s a move that matches the media distribution giant’s decision to create their own TV series, a game changer in the industry.  While plenty of movies receive VOD releases mainly consisting of indie pictures, major productions have been averse to online streaming.  So for this week’s question, I’m asking if this is a good decision on Netflix’s behalf?

In my opinion, no.  Perhaps I’m being unwilling to embrace change, but theaters are and always will be essential to the cinema experience and Netflix’s move would be an incentive to start shipping movies directly online.  VOD hasn’t poised a great threat to any theater chains (and as monumental decision as online TV series are, I don’t think it will be the nail to the coffin of network and cable channels, at least at the time being), but doing this is going to encourage even more audiences that a computer screen is the best way to watch a movie.  Still, studios need to catch up to the Internet age (and seeing how slowly the music industry took to get adjusted to the digital era, this is going to be in debate for years) and this could encourage viewers to see more current film.  But as of right now, I don’t think it’s the best or most stable way to transition into the 21st century.

But what do you think?

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