Category Archives: Hollywood

Why I am excited about the movie ‘Interstellar’

interstellar-posterThere are several reasons I am excited about Christopher Nolan’s newest film coming out in November of this year. The first few are easy to describe. I have generally liked the movies Nolan has done, so I am interested to see what he has made next. I am a big fan of science fiction and this movie easily falls into that category.  It has a good cast attached to it that I have enjoyed in the past with Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck, Michael Caine, and Matt Damon among the people in it. The major reason I am excited about the movie is the idea of space exploration that is at the heart of the movie from what I can tell from the two trailers I have seen so far. To me space exploration is the last frontier for human exploration to a certain degree and throughout our history humans have always been explorers of the unknown.  I think this idea is beautifully put in the voice over from Matthew McConaughey in the teaser trailer that was released at the end of 2013:

We’ve always defined ourselves by the ability to overcome the impossible. And we count these moments, these moments when we dare to aim higher, to break barriers, to reach for the stars, to make the unknown known. We count these moments as our proudest achievements. But we lost all that. Perhaps we’ve just forgotten… that we are still pioneers, that we’ve barely begun, and that our greatest accomplishments cannot be behind us. Because our destiny lies above us. 

To me it is a shame that NASA retired the space shuttle and we are now reliant on the Russians to travel to the International Space Station. I wish our country could rekindle that sense of dreaming and be pioneers again with a return to the Moon or even Mars, which is something that I would love to see.

The first trailer if you have not seen it is below the cut. Continue reading Why I am excited about the movie ‘Interstellar’

Kevin Spacey On The Future Of TV

Kevin Spacey delivers the 2013 MacTaggart lecture in EdinburghKevin Spacey gave a speech at Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival recently and he made some great points on the future of not just TV but filmed entertainment in general be it TV, Film or web/computer based of some form.

“Clearly the success of the Netflix model, releasing the entire season of House of Cards at once, proved one thing: The audience wants the control. They want the freedom. If they want to binge as they’ve been doing on House of Cards and lots of other shows, we should let them binge. I can’t tell you how many people have stopped me on the street and said, ‘Thank you, you sucked three days out of my life.”

This shift of the audience having now at least some control over their viewerships of TV has certainly been growing since the advent of the VCR.  It has really taken off in the last decade with the invention of the DVR/Tivo and the prevalence of websites and digital stores like Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, and Amazon Instant. Count me among the people that is grateful to have this control over our media and when we watch it. Another quote from Spacey that follows along from the quote above.

“And through this new form of distribution, we have demonstrated that we have learned the lesson that the music industry didn’t learn: Give people what they want, when they want it, in the form they want it in, at a reasonable price, and they’ll more likely pay for it rather than steal it. Well, some will still steal it, but I think we can take a bite out of piracy.”

While I would say TV has certainly made some good strides in this area, they still have areas to improve on making content reasonable priced and easy to access all the time and if they can make it better it I think it could be even more successful. If you remove more of the restrictions on media on where people can play it or when they can see by enforcing viewing videos say of not posting a new episode on Hulu until 8 days have passed, those are the type of things I think can improve viewership and likely at least to a degree decrease piracy.

Here is a trimmed down video of Spacey’s speech that has some of the highlights.  Below the cut is the full longer speech.


Continue reading Kevin Spacey On The Future Of TV

Pacific Rim, Summer Movie champion?


Part of the success of the movie I also think comes from director and co-writer Guillermo del Toro. I have seen and enjoyed his movies before and had confidence that he could pull this movie off.  Del Toro managed to create a movie that it made it believable we could have a world where giant monsters could be fighting giant robots.  He created characters that were believable enough. But while they could use possibly a little more character development he gives you enough for the action movie that it is. With that said, he gave us characters that are different and diverse enough from each other to help the movie. The other part I wish we had more of in the movie is possibly a little bit more mythology or backstory of the monsters, but not having that did not heavily take away enjoyment of the movie.

Overall for me, Pacific Rim, was different enough and great fun seeing giant monsters fighting against giant robots. The monsters and the robots were the real stars of the movie since there was not any real A-list stars in it and that worked just fine, since it allowed the movie to showcase them even more. Finally as some who often enjoys the film scores I quite enjoyed the score by Ramin Djawadi.

Why I am disappointed Argo won Best Picture

Argo Oscars

I was not surprised last night that Argo won the Best Picture Oscar, just disappointed because I did not think it was the best movie of five of the nine nominees that I had seen.  The five I have seen are Lincoln, Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained and Silver Linings Playbook. For me I would have been happy if Lincoln or Zero Dark Thirty had won Best Picture from the five I had seen.

I am not saying that Argo is a bad movie, but like I said not the best of the nominees. In my opinion the problem with Argo was that I did not feel much tension at the end of the movie, in the final road block that the characters were facing.  Given the movie is based on a true story and has at least some basis in fact, we already knew the outcome of the movie before going into it.  In the case of Argo, the movie did not give me enough story or gripping characters to make me forget that I already knew the ending to this movie given its ground in real life. Overall it is a good movie and worth seeing once, but it is not one that I am going to go out and purchase for my movie collection.

Lincoln PosterIn contrast to Argo both Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty, while based on real life events like Argo, gave me enough in terms of story and character development/investigation. For Lincoln, the movie gave me a great character study of one our great presidents, Abraham Lincoln, to help set off the fact that you already knew that he died and that the amendment would pass. Daniel Day Lewis performed amazingly as Lincoln and made you feel like you were getting a real glimpse at what Lincoln was like. Steven Spielberg and the entire production did a great job at pulling you into the past with how faithfully they created the world of the 1860’s Civil War era.

For Zero Dark Thirty given that it is a military story enough details have been shrouded in secrecy that it is great for the movie to lift the veil on what happened in the search for Osama Bin Laden. The movie also gave us a great performance by Jessica Chastain and her character of Maya showing the very determined CIA officer who relentlessly tracked down Bin Laden and did not give up.


In the end we are still left with two great films in Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty and just because they did not win the Oscar for Best Picture does not take away from the fact that they are great films.

Steven Spielberg the historian with his movie Lincoln?

Lincoln PosterThe New York Times has an interesting piece on how Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” actually might be advancing the way the historians look at Lincoln with what the movie speculates about why Lincoln’s reasoning was on two different subjects.  One of those being why Lincoln pushed so hard to get the 13th Amendment passed before the new Congress came in later that year.  Here is an excerpt from the post about one of the ways the movie could be advancing the way we look at Lincoln.

The movie, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Daniel Day-Lewis as the 16th president, makes two especially interesting historical arguments.

The first is to explain why the passage of the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, was overwhelmingly important to Lincoln in January 1865. The issue is not why passage was important; the movie explains that clearly enough. Instead, the problem is to explain the frenzied work to pass it in that month. As the historian Michael Vorenberg has observed, “No piece of legislation during Lincoln’s presidency received more of his attention.” Why the all-out effort in January, in a lame-duck session before a newly empowered pro-Lincoln Congress began? If Lincoln had waited until March, he could have called a special session of the new Congress, confident of having enough votes for House passage.

The question has long vexed historians. The movie’s answer is that Lincoln and his right-hand man in this work, Secretary of State William H. Seward, realized that the war might end at any time and that, when it did, any prospect for passing the amendment as a means to win the war would end with it.

This is an intriguing argument. But the book the movie cites as its main evidentiary source, Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals,” does not make it. 

via Steven Spielberg, Historian –

The second argument is about the connection between the peace talks and getting the votes Lincoln needed for the 13th amendment.  The full article is a great piece to read and I would recommend reading it if you like Lincoln or history.

Why you should see the movie “Lincoln”

Two weeks ago I was lucky enough to see a preview screening of the new Steven Spielberg film “Lincoln”.  Possibly because I have an interest in politics and history (my two majors in college) I was already predisposed to like this movie, but I greatly enjoyed the film.  While I have not seen every recent Spielberg film, I think this is one of his better films in a while. Though the movie is not fast paced or action packed, it had enough movement to not make it seem slow to me.

The basic setting of the movie is from January to April of 1865, when Lincoln was trying to pass the thirteenth amendment to the constitution abolishing slavery and the U.S. Civil War was coming to an end. It worked out well that Spielberg chose a small part of Lincoln’s life to make into a movie. If he had not I do not think he would have been as successful as he was with this film.  The time frame that they ended up choosing for the film I think worked well.  They picked a period where there was a lot going on for Lincoln not just with the war exclusively, but also the hard fought battle of one of Lincoln’s bigger legislative fights that he faced with the thirteenth amendment. The time they picked helped to show the continuing cost the Civil War was having not just on Lincoln but the country as well.

For me the cast led by Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln did a great job all around.  Lewis portrayed Lincoln excellently and very convincingly brought him to life I thought, showing the conflict and great stress that the war and the amendment fight brought to Lincoln, along with his family issues he faced. Tommy Lee Jones also did a great job as one of the politicians working for passage of the amendment.  If Daniel Day-Lewis does not get Oscar nomination I would be shocked.

The issue of equality was the great issue that was at stake during the discussion of the thirteenth amendment. I think it is still very relevant to our country today in a different way  at least to me.  Today we are fighting about whether people can marry whom ever they want to marry legally. Having just gone through a tough constitutional amendment fight here in  Minnesota about whether we should ban gay marriage it is a very divisive issue still and bet it will be for a while.  While that connection may not come up for every one who watches this movie, but since I saw this movie before the 2012 election that issue was certainly on my mind.

Overall I think you have a lover of history or Lincoln himself I recommend seeing this film.

The movie is based on Doris Kearns Goodwin‘s biography of Lincoln, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.  Trailer for the film below:

Zero Dark Thirty Oscar Contender?

Given the people involved with the new film Zero Dark Thirty dealing with the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, I knew this movie had a good chance at being in the running for various Oscar awards. After seeing the second trailer for Kathryn Bigelow’s film Zero Dark Thirty, I see nothing that changes my mind.

Kathryn Bigelow’s previous film The Hurt Locker  won her Best Director and Best Picture along with 4 other oscar wins for the film.  I was impressed by The Hurt Locker so I was glad to see that she had decided to do this movie.  Besides Bigelow and the topic the movie is covering, I like several of the actors in it, Jason Clarke (The Chicago Code) and Jessica Chastain (The Debt) among others.

For me at least, all of these factors make it a promising upcoming film. As you can tell, Zero Dark Thirty is one of the films I am excited for this fall/winter movie season.

A great look at Aaron Sorkin and his new HBO show Newsroom

Cast of HBO’s Newsroom

Vanity Fair has up a great piece on Aaron Sorkin and his new HBO show Newsroom that will be premiering Sunday, June 24, 2012.  The piece is on the longer side, but I enjoy that when it is on a subject I enjoy.  The article gives you a great sense both in terms of the way Sorkin works and what the new show Newsroom will be like.  Here is one quote on one reason Sorkin creates TV shows:

Sorkin, who has been criticized for credit hogging—most often, the television writing process is highly collaborative—defended his method. “I create these shows so that I can write them,” he said flatly. “I’m not an empire builder. I’m not interested in just producing. All I want to do is write. I came up as a playwright—writing is something you do by yourself in a room.

“That said, I couldn’t possibly write the show without that room full of people. I go in there, and we kick around ideas. I’m writing about all kinds of things I don’t know anything about. So they do research for me.” Argument ensues. And, for Sorkin, happiness. “I come from a family of lawyers, all smarter than I am,” he said. “I grew up really enjoying the sound of intelligence and the sound of a great argument, and wanting to imitate that sound.”

This next quote is a bit obvious sense can tell from the shows he has created but still gives some insight into why he creates the shows he does:

“I really like workplace shows,” he continued. “I like creating workplace families, and writing about people who are very good at what they do, and less good at everything else.”

Finally a quote about the way Sorkin writes the way he does, which as he as says himself, he is wordy:

“I’m pretty wordy when I write,” Sorkin said, putting it pretty mildly. In an era when images have largely muscled out words, and much film and television dialogue feels like a succession of one- (or half-) liners, Sorkin’s scripts hark back to the passionately idealistic, speech-rich screenplays Robert Riskin wrote for Frank Capra’s Mr. Deeds Goes to Town and Meet John Doe. Actors love him for it—it gives them more screen time, after all, and a chance to really strut their stuff. In return, there’s a price to pay.

via Aaron Sorkin’s Newsroom: Sneak Peek at the New HBO Show | Hollywood | Vanity Fair.

There is many more interesting things in the article so make sure to check it out.  In the end the article certainly helps keep my enthusiasm for Sorkin’s new show high.