Why Horror is a Hard Sell for Me

Horror movies are not my thing. They weren’t my thing as a kid or a teenager, and they’re not my thing as an adult. I may have seen the genre’s highlights – your Shinings, your Exorcists – but I never sought it out. Last October, I tried to remedy this. The results were mixed at best. But most importantly, I learned what I like and … Continue reading Why Horror is a Hard Sell for Me

I guess I’m not the only one who wanted to write about average shot length in Sicario’s border crossing scene

emily blunt kate mercer sicario

Two days ago I was doing a little time killing and whatever algorithm YouTube uses to recommend a slightly different version of something I’ve already seen – no thanks, I don’t need to watch the ending of Rushmore again but with Spanish subtitles – actually presented me with something interesting: Cinefix’s latest video essay entitled “1 Brilliant Moment of Tension.”

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Rushmore is easily Wes Anderson’s best film

rushmore heaven and hell cotillion final scene jason schwartzman max fischer olivia williams miss cross

The Wes Anderson Blogathon hosted by SeanMunger.com 15-22 August 2016

This post is part of my first blogathon.  When I saw Sean Munger was organizing a Wes Anderson week, I jumped at the chance to write about my favorite Anderson film, Rushmore.  (For those of you who are unfamiliar with Sean’s blog, it features great movie reviews but even more interesting “details” posts – to use my blog’s term for them.  Check out his investigation of Mark Hamill’s wampa scars.)

As for Rushmore, I was an early fan.  I even saw it in the theater on opening day – that “Oh, are they?” joke from the trailer was pretty impossible to resist.  (As an interesting side note, the trailer actually does a great job of capturing what must have been a challenging movie to sell in two and half minutes.)  Rushmore was my entry into the world of Wes Anderson.  The Royal Tenenbaums was next, followed belatedly by Bottle Rocket.  I’ve seen every film and short of his since, and I’ve even read the book he co-authored with his brother.  Without any qualification, I can officially state that Rushmore is his best work.

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Why Mad Max Fury Road’s kinetic action scenes are more than just the sum of their practical effects

mad max fury road war rig sand

Mad Max Fury Road has received a ton of accolades, all of them deserved.  The consensus is that Mad Max is a seminal action film, something that will set the tone for the genre over the next decade.  So, if you haven’t seen it yet – do so now.  If you’ve seen it but don’t believe some of its more outrageous set pieces are almost 100% practical – watch footage of its stunts as they happened.  And if you want to see how to use CGI to enhance, not replace, said practical effects – read and watch an in-depth look at the subtle (and not so subtle) changes they made.

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Why Hans Gruber is an easy bad guy to root for

alan rickman hans gruber die hard

As a film lover, I found Alan Rickman’s death very sad.  I realize now that I’m getting to the age where the actors featured in the “In Memoriam” bit at the Oscars are no longer MUCH older than I am, just “older.”  (Just for the record, Rickman was over 30 years older than I am.)  But I felt that I’d seen Rickman pretty much from the beginning of his film career.  It’s hard to reduce his body of work to just one film (and if I did, my favorite is Sense and Sensibility, which would make the title of this post a bit of a non-sequitur) but it’s impossible to ignore his iconic turn in Die Hard.

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Why playing with shot length makes Sicario’s border crossing so tense

emily blunt sicario

The average shot length (ASL) of films in 2014 was 2.5 seconds.  For better or for worse, this has been the average for the past decade or so, so we’re used to it as viewers.  Anything longer or shorter, we notice.  But what does it do to the dynamics of a scene when we notice?

The border crossing scene in Sicario demonstrates how varying shot lengths can expand or compress time, and thus dramatically increase the tension in a scene.

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