The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The remake of the Swedish version of the film was technically an awesome film.  The acting, the directing and overall filmmaking was excellent.  The film being in english without having to read subtitles made it easier for an American audience to accept and enjoy.  However, was there really anything that stood out from the Swedish film?  Hollywood is very good at what they do and with the proper resources Hollywood is always going to be technically superior.  I thought that the the original film was pretty good and it did a great job of storytelling with some interesting twists that you don’t normally see in American films.

Vanilla Sky is a good example of a remake that works.  The remake of The Shinning was an example of why not to remake an already awesome film. Plus, who can do it better than Kubrik?

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a film worth watching and I enjoyed watching it.  However, I felt that I was looking for the similarities to the original version.  It almost seemed that the story was identical without too many twists except for the ending.  For those of you that have seen the Swedish version you may also analyze the film in much the same way.  For those that have not you will be in for an awesome ride into an intense ride while trying to figure out the plot along with the actors.

I give this film a 4 out of 5 stars.

The Social Network

The Social Network

Have you ever told someone, Facebook me?”  The Social Network is a film about the rise of Facebook and the story of the computer nerd who makes it cool to be a nerd.

The world of the Harvard elite seems to be the birthplace for the computer industry with Microsoft mogul Bill Gates and Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg.  Zuckerberg moved Facebook to Palo Alto (Silicon Valley), to recreate Facebook into what is now a billion dollar company.  Sean Parker, Founder of the now debunked Napster, played by Justin Timberlake in the film, helps foster an image of “coolness” around Facebook.  The move to California is part of that cool and what launches Facebook into the realm of what is the largest social media networking site in the internet.

The story is well told with conflict and drama formed by the lawsuits that were raised as Zukerberg is defending himself and his sometimes questionable business practices.  Like most people of his intelligence he lacks the social graces when interacting with people.  The premise of his creation of Facebook is to lash out at his estranged girlfriend and a deeper attempt to be accepted into the Harvard elite.

The film is not Citizen Kane or The Godfather as far as storytelling goes, but it is an interesting look into how Facebook was created and how the effects of the internet and social media are shaping our culture.  I recommend it for a DVD night and give it 3 stars.

“Black Swan”: It will change your mind about Ballet

Black Swan is a ballet film, but not those looking for a Disney version of ballerinas.  The film’s director Darren Aronofsky is known for creating films that delve into the psyche of the main protagonist.  Nina, played by Natalie Portman, achieves her dream and is chosen as the swan queen for Tchaiksky’s Swan Lake.  Playing the role of the Swan Queen proves to be too much for Nina’s fragile mind.

Those familiar with Aronofsky’s work will quickly notice the main themes of his films in Black Swan.  Aronofsy has hit his mark in Black Swan and has perfected his ability to get into the mind of his character and into the minds of his audience.  Portman plays her role with precision.  Before watching the film I had reservations of seeing Luke Skywalker’s mother playing the role of a ballerina.  Portamn was a perfect selection for the role transcending into the world of ballet and emotional psychosis.

Darren Aronofsky films don’t have happy endings and Black Swan is no exception.  The crescendo to the film merges Nina with her role as the Swan Queen.  Nina swan dives into the abyss of insanity and perfection in the final act.   Aronofsy’s camera work and his famous montage editing style add to the psychological tension that takes you into the world of the character’s mind. The audience is as confused of what is reality and what is fantasy as the characters in his films.  Aronofsky does not disappoint his audience as he takes us on a roller coaster ride in the Black Swan.  I give this film a 4 stars out of 5.  It is an artistic and technical masterpiece, but feel that Aronofsky has more to give his audience.  Maybe he will reach perfection in his next film.   Hopefully not at the expense of his own sanity.

Watch the Black Swan trailer

Plan 9 from Outer Space, “The Worst Film Ever Made”

Have you ever heard of Ed Wood?

Ed Wood was number one in his recognition as being the worst filmmaker, ever.  If you going to do something be number one.  Wood was posthumously awarded the Golden Turkey Award for the worst director ever. Ed Wood is an iconic figure in filmmaking and he reached his pinnacle with Plan 9 from Outer Space, which is been named as the worst film ever made. His film gained cult status in the late 50s and even today it is considered a popular film for movie aficionados.  The film stars Bela Lugosi who was best know for his roles as Dracula.  Lugosi died during the making of the film, but his character lived on played by Wood’s film financier and chiropractor, Tom Manson.

What makes Plan 9 so bad is that it crosses genres by mixing fake spaceships that look like pie pans with strings attached to monsters walking through a graveyard.  Wood’s plot included aliens from outer space who planned on re-animating the dead to take over earth and prepare for the alien invasion. The iconic figures that lurked through the graveyard with Lugosi included wrestler Tor Johnson and Maila Numi, the orginal Vampira and the inspiration for Elvira.  Numi’s incredibly small waist makes for a contrast to her sidekick played by Johnson.

When you have some time and ready to experience the worst film ever made watch Plan 9 from Outer Space and invite some friends to enjoy the filmmaking stylings of Ed Wood.

Is Citizen Kane really the best movie ever made?

Citizen Kane may not be at the top of your film list, but it is the number one film of the AFI’s 100 films.  Citizen Kane is followed by Casablanca, The Godfather, Gone with the Wind, Lawrence of Arabia, The Wizard of Oz, The Graduate, and On the Water Front.  With this revered list of films, what makes Orson Welles’ 1941 film a classic, and the number one film on the American Film Institute’s film list?

It is Orson Welles that makes this film the number one film of all time.  Welles was considered a genius since his childhood and he aspired to live up to his genius.  Orson Welles wrote, directed, produced, and starred in Citizen Kane at the young age of 25.  This venture was not his first production, but it was his first venture into filmmaking.  He had a career as a stage actor and director along with his infamous career as a radio actor for RKO radio.  His on air adaptation of H. G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds,” made Orson Welles a household name.

Welles mesmerized audiences as well as confusing them with his unique style of filming.  He used the deep focus technique that French filmmakers were using at the same time. American audiences were not trained to or used to this type of filming, which allows the viewer to choose what is important in a scene.  His long takes also allowed the viewer to choose what was important to watch and to soak in the whole scene.  This style was different than the montage that directors use to focus the viewer on what they feel is important.  Welles also created new ways of filming scenes, such as the famous low angle shots and the use of low ceilings to create interesting lighting techniques that were very difficult for even the most experienced Hollywood raconteurs of the time.

Orson Welles experienced cinematic success from his first film, but suffered from the films success and never recovered after being blackballed from Hollywood.  His story took on William R. Hearst, a wealthy newspaper tycoon.  Hearst owned one of California’s most sought after pieces of real estate that was represented as Xanadu in the film.  Welles quickly found out how powerful Hearst’s newspaper and media outlets wielded as Hearst set out to destroy Orson Welles’ career.

Citizen Kane gained popularity in the 1960’s in academia as film study classes analyzed the film techniques Orson Welles skillfully created.  Since then many college’s and universities have studied the film, making it one of the most studied films in movie history.  If you have a chance to watch Citizen Kane, watch it twice.  Once for the story and then again to see if you can see the beauty in Orson’s genius.

“A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet.”  — Orson Welles

Welcome to Behind the Scenes

This blog is dedicated to watching film, making film, and the history of the greatest invention ever made.  Thomas Edison invented the first camera to capture moving images in 1891.  Since that time, film has become one of the most important parts of American culture.  Film allows storytellers to bring their characters to life and allow viewers to be immersed in a world that transports them to the past, future and beyond.  In this blog I will explore the history of film, filmmaking, and of course, watching and enjoying the best American pastime since baseball.

"We're going to need a bigger boat!"