Archive for the ‘Other People’s Movies’ Category

Carrboro Film Festival 2013 Recap

Friday, November 29th, 2013

The 8th Annual Carrboro Film Festival

It was truly an honor to have our first short ‘Alphabet Soup’ be selected at this year’s Carrboro Film Festival (the 8th annual film festival at Carrboro). Kudos to Nic Beery and his staff for expanding to two days and two venues. It was a great event for the community and a wonderful gathering of North Carolina filmmakers and enthusiasts.

Here’s what I took away from it and some favorites:

SHORTS ARE THE FUTURE OF FILM/VIDEO: There’s more to it than the fact that there is an ADHD epidemic. Short movies allow for more experimentation and creativity. Features have appeal because that is what we all grew to accept what ‘real’ movies are. You don’t see Tom Cruise in a little 10 minute short! But who can afford to see a Tom Cruise movie these days anyway? As prices go up at the box office and content continues to decline, shorts will continue to get more attention from the average moviegoer.

Here are my five favorite shorts from the festival:

THE CRANE WIFE by Daria Dorafshar (animation) – After saving a wounded crane and nursing it back to health, a poor man is visited by a beautiful woman with a talent for weaving. Based on a Japanese folk tale.

THE POSSUM DROP (documentary) by Mindy Keeley – The New Year’s Eve traditions of a town in the Blue Ridge Mountains are being threatened by PETA who feel that lowering a possum in a box is inhumane. Hilarious!

HELPLESS (narrative) by Christene Hurley and Evan Scott Russell – Leah confesses her true feelings for Chayse in the school library while unknown malice lurks in the hallways. Chilling and powerful.

LUMINARIS (narrative) by Juan Pablo Zaramella – In a world controlled and timed by light, an ordinary man has a plan that could change the natural order of things. From Argentina.


KEN LOVE (stop motion) by Catherine Chao – A lonely doll travels around NYC looking for love and finds it but now must carry a deep, dark secret. (Sorry, couldn’t find this online, so if anyone knows where it is, please let us know.)

Hopefully this will be the first of many film festivals we will be a part of!

Lost in Translation – Movie Titles Around The World

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

In 2013, there is a movie titled “In The House”. But I didn’t quite understand why they needed to call it that, other than for consumer convenience.  “Dans La Maison” (its original title in 2012) was fine. The 2013 release in the US is in French with English subtitles and that’s fine with me, in fact I’m glad they didn’t try a full on revision (and gone are the days of dubbed over movies). Still, why remarket the title when having the title in French might help broadcast the movie name a bit better.  “In the House” just sounds cheesier too (as if one of those dance-off movies from a few years back!)

However, this post isn’t about the movie above, which has done well in film festivals around the world. I haven’t really seen any of François Ozon’s movies, but have heard some hype and wouldn’t mind checking this film out.

Instead, it reminded me of two things (and a need to keep posting even though time is a hot commodity). One was a friend of mine who over the years loves to say “Dans la Maison”. Secondly was the annoyance behind movie titles finding the need to be translated. Unless its “that” bad a translation, where you find it amusing.  Such as this excuse for making another top 10 list.

Top 10 Amusingly Translated Movie Titles:

The English Patient = Do Not Ask Me Who I Am – Ever. (China)

As Good as it Gets = Mr Cat Poop (China again, where allegedly the main characters name sounds like the word for Cat Poop)

Grease = Vaseline (Venezuela)

Never Been Kissed – Because She’s Ugly (Philippines)

Bad Santa – Santa is a Pervert (Czech republic)

Pretty Woman = I Will Marry a Prostitute to Save Money (also China, where they like to make the title very descriptive)

Die Hard – Mega Hard (Denmark), in fact several countries have odd translations for this series.

The Full Monty = released as “6 Naked Pigs” or “Six Stripped Warriors” in China based on language (Cantonese/Mandarin)

Dodgeball – Full of the Nuts (Germany)

Dr No = We Don’t Want a Doctor (Japan)

Kept this pretty slack, as it turns out there are loads of lists of these around the web, so if you’re looking for more, check out or – though you’ll see some of these might even be made up.  For instance, “Matrix” in France was not what some of these people say it is.

Or for example, some say, Lost In Translation was translated to “Meetings and Failures in Meetings” over in Portugal.  Not True.  It was “o Amor É um Lugar Estranho” or “Love in Translation”.

In fact its weird where some of these came from, I guess its the whole ability to make up stuff online! Anyway, let us know any other good ones (real or rumoured) that you know of.

Ok, end of quick break, back to writing again.

Movie Sequels, Trilogies, Prequels & Correlations in the Economy

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

We often hear about how Hollywood is churning out sequels left and right more so today than ever before. Even movies that were not that big are getting sequels these days (example: Grown Ups 2), or even movies that were full on flops (Smurfs 2?!), or sequels that should have long been killed (Scary Movie 5, Fast and Furious 6 – and part 7 is set for a 2015 release, Bourne 5, etc). But it’s not ending any time soon, because the business is of playing it safe and releasing “sure shots” when it comes to movies generating revenue even if the actual movie is crap.

Interesting list of sequels in the works at

Even movie sequels you left for dead “The Last Exorcist, Part II”, let alone “Bill And Ted 3” and “Blade Runner 2” are looking to cash in. And while “A Good Day To Die Hard” would technically be Die Hard 5, they’ve already planned a part 6!!! Or 21 Jump Street 2 (which isn’t even based on the TV show, but taking the branding of it as a marketing chip). This lack of creativity in Hollywood perhaps?! Even first parts are based on existing stories such as comic books or novels. And while many of these blockbusters are not my thing, I’ve seen a few of these in the cinema thanks to various friends of mine convincing me its worth a shot. Perhaps there are a couple that I didn’t mine, but then again, some of these movies that people loved, I felt were horrendous. Even the special effects looked too much the C in CGI. This used to really frustrate me when I was younger. WTF is with these movies, where’s the plot, etc.

It doesn’t bother me anymore though and I attribute a good portion of it to a couple of people telling me (on separate occasions but within the same month) several years ago that its mainly because when they go see movies, they want to “escape”. They want to veg out, escape their day and be entertained. Upon hearing this, it clicked. Not everyone is a film snob, wannabe writer, director, actor, etc. Most people don’t mind playing it safe and seeing a sequel to something that they know they liked, or seeing a movie because a one-liner and some special effects that make fictional things come true on the big screen looked cool and can compensate for any bad acting. Movies don’t always have to be memorable or meaningful I learned. So I thought and realized, yeah sure, I like a lot of comedies that in many people’s eyes are pretty stupid perhaps. However, its unique, it’s focusing on the acting, the delivery. But there’s more to it than that. Escapism indeed is a big source of why people watch these movies. And that factor peaks more at certain times. When times are tough, more people want to escape. When attention spans are short, more people want to escape. And both of these were factors recently.

When the economies are good, more descriptive flicks make it to the big time. Think about the wave of documentaries that crashed ashore in 2004-2008 (actually there still is a lot of strong documentary films out there, but its reverted to a more artist/critic based fan base). Or how movies transitioned in the 80’s to 90’s and then blew up into more of a business model. Thinking about compiling research on this, I looked around for info and things that could back up or counter this argument: and for the former, things like this piece from the LA Times –

Or this detailed research piece at – where he “went through every year from 1936 to 2011 and tallied how many movies in the box office top 10 were a sequel or adaptation”. Though this can be misleading, as a top 10 list does not a market overview make, however still a great start (and way more time spent than I could pull off, so much thanks to this person, who has a few really good reads on his blog overall by the way) – and this graphic shows the recent explosion of sequels.

However, the level of adaptations (usually a book that gets made into a movie, so still more unique than say a sequel) has been around for a while. The study and blog post around it, compares movie sequel trends and escapism to some extent with homicide rates rather than economies, however traditionally crime and bad economies do go hand in hand, so I felt that this was a good resource of info when looking to get some data myself. And it backed up my thoughts about creativity in movies correlating with “boom times”, such as the 60’s and 80’s, and lack of during down times like the 70’s, early 90’s, and the 2008 wave when the economy took a hit (which in years prior such as 2004-2007 was a big documentary run).

Despite the recent recovery, there was been a down trend in box office revenue, as feeding sequels out one after another seems to be running out of gas. And maybe people want substance sometimes, or at least the right mix of it. As per this quote on – where “Stephanie” a woman in her 20’s commented “The end product doesn’t have to be a mishmash of expensive stunts and large explosions. If there’s something a little more interesting happening underneath the surface with that script and with the main characters, I’m going to walk away from the theater much more satisfied and likely to return” – so perhaps its not just me after all?

Overall, its a piece I’d like to build on when I get more time, but the thing is, its not a surprise to see that film is a business like many others, and like in other industries, it takes a few standout pieces to revolutionize it and push things forward within that industry. Do we think we can contribute that? We hope so, and that drives us. But unlike when I was in my youth, I know not everything has to have that message and there are many reasons people will like something. Good acting, good stories, good scene/visuals that feel real, and most importantly good delivery, that’s something we want when putting down money to see a film whether as a means of escaping or not.

Note: This post was tweeted with the hashtag #2013movies – and I discovered that there’s a lot of enthusiasm for this summer’s crop of movies, mainly commenting about the more anticipated sequels.  One guy even commented that movies need not be good for this summer’s crop, just get them out in 3D. Escapism is in full swing I guess!

Presidents Day Weekend – Faux President Movies

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

It’s Presidents Day Weekend. Great news for those with a day off because of it, which in this case actually includes me. And like we did for election day movies its time for a top 5 or 10 list.

But who cares about the actual presidents, no this list is about “Faux presidents”. So no JFK, Nixon, etc. And forget about Rutherford B. Hayes, Chester Arthur, Franklin Pierce, Millard Fillmore (though they’ve never even been acted out in movies) – these are previous “actual” US presidents who have had movies in which they were represented. And certainly forget about Daniel Day Lewis, playing the role of Lincoln, also an actual US president. Here are 5 that never existed, in no special order.

1) President Thomas “Tug” Benson
: the late Lloyd Bridges in Hot Shots (president role was in part two). Dumb comedy, the way a faux president should be.

2) President Tom Beck – Deep Impact was a 1998 movie and Morgan Freeman played the role of Pres Tom Beck. I remember when this movie came out, the whole controversy in the US about the role of president being played by an African American actor (let alone naming his character Tom Beck!!!!). And the whole wave of “world ending” movies circa late 90’s. I didn’t like this movie, but still remember it for some reason.

3) President James Dale – Jack Nicholson in Mars Attacks. Also in the 90’s (when my movie watching and influential days were at its finest). Its a Tim Burton film before it got too Tim Burton-y. Watchable if you’re in the mood to watch a movie that is “that” bad (which does happen at times). Which leads to…..

4) President Thomas J. Whitmore – Independence Day. This was on TV a few years ago. I recalled how it was a big money blockbuster back in the days, yet all I could think of was that the visuals were pretty poorly made, and movies in the 80’s were more discreet about doing imagery in a way one could still believe. This was big budget once?! However now, I’m more “glass half full”. And avid about “no budget / low budget” movies, like lo-fi music had won me over for a while…. and it helps me cue up a good choice for #5.

5) Unnamed President
– Fail Safe (the 1963 version directed by Lumet, featuring Henry Fonda as the president, who I don’t even think had a name) was so lofi yet it totally captivated me when I saw it (you guessed it, some point in the 90’s). However, it was tacky in the right way. It didn’t look like anything recent, but you still watched it.

The one problem with this, is that I think a fair few movies with fictional presidents didn’t have names at all on them. As for all time “actual” president representation – here’s a score card of how many movies were about each “real” president.

Election Picks 2012 – Movies That Is

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

Dead Red Eyes Election picks (2012). Well not the actual election, but something that we are a bit more fond of. Here’s our ten picks for election based movies, just in time for that election day marathon when you don’t need to watch the news on every channel to see the same commentary over and over. The work’s been done, let me know who wins…. the day after.

1. The Candidate (1972) Apparently politicians were so impressed by Robert Redford’s performance as presidential candidate Bill McKay, they actually wanted him to run. A landmark American film (or so film school says) that captured the dark political scene of the time. Plus I love anything Peter Boyle is in.

2. Wag the Dog (1997) A Presidential advisor (Robert DeNiro) and a Hollywood producer (Dustin Hoffman) make up a fake war to distract the public from the truth through the media. Don’t worry, it’s just a movie.

3. An Unreasonable Man (2005) Consumer advocate Ralph Nader discusses the role (or lack thereof) of third party candidates and other topics such as him introducing something called the seatbelt and airbags. He’s got nerve for being such a good person!

4. Bulworth (1998) An entertaining political satire that is worth a watch if only to see Warren Beatty rap and smoke a blunt. Warren has since disappeared much in the same way the title character of this film did.

5. Advise and Consent (1962) Two words: Burgess Meredith.

6. The Ides of March (2011) George Clooney AND Ryan Gosling?! No, no, no! Too sexy! That’s probably why I haven’t seen it. Jokes aside, it did get some good feedback from critics and people we know, if you count a friend of mine saying “suprisingly decent”….as a sort of thumbs up.

7. The Last Hurrah (1958) Haven’t seen it but I’m sure it’s better than State of the Union (see below). Even old movies were often based on a book, such as this 1958 film adaptation of the novel The Last Hurrah by Edwin O’Connor. Also made in 1977 as a TV movie, which I’m sure I couldn’t find even if I tried.

8. State of the Union (1948) Haven’t seen it but I’m sure it’s better than Primary Colors (see Dishonorable mention). For those keeping score – It is directed by Frank Capra and starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn about a presidential run.

9. Silver City (2004) I guess this was John Sayles’ attempt to mock George Bush and deter people from voting for him in 2004 when in fact it might have actually won him his second term.

10. The Campaign (2012) The last election movie before the end of the world? Almost hope so. Actually did see this quite recently, and while its not one of Ferrell’s best, Zach Galifianakis is brilliant in this movie. But flow-wise, it doesn’t compare to other similar “leader” comedies of the past year or so such as The Dictator.

Dishonorable mention: Primary Colors (1998) John Travolta as Bill Clinton? That detestable promo poster was enough for me to not bother. I’ll take Bulworth for 1998 political movies over this one any day.

Other more honorable mentions: Napoleon Dynamite (not exactly a US election, but Vote for Pedro gets half a point). Black Sheep, with Chris Farley and David Spade (plot not always necessary). Any others? Manchurian Candidate perhaps (which was remade in 2004)? I’m sure we’ve forgotten a couple, so let us know.

The Hurricane’s Eye For Movies

Monday, October 29th, 2012

This post goes out to Sandy, that’s right, the hurricane hitting all of us on the East coast. Good day to stay in and watch movies. Movies with hurricanes, as if looking out the window wasn’t enough. Tough to find though.  Here’s a few for starters.

The Perfect Storm (2000) – Big names such as Clooney and Wahlberg, this movie got a lot of hype and was based on a  book.  Most of it is on a boat and visually its part of a wave of movies (no pun intended) that featured new technical breakthroughs in CGI and visual development. Plotwise, well lets just say that was a secondary factor.

Trouble the Water (2008) – It’s technically not just about Hurricane Katrina, but is based “around” it, and set when it happened. It sort of serves as a semi-documentary about the storm but has a storyline within it of an aspiring young artist. I know a fair few people who got hit by Hurricane Sandy today and likely more come Tuesday, but at the same time, many have been lucky (myself included) and are grateful that it hasn’t ended up like Katrina, which was a mess in many ways, particularly how the “after” was managed.

The Day After Tomorrow (2004) – Leads the list of fake pics of Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath, as its where the Statue of Liberty hurricane pic originated. Suddenly everyone realizes how memorable this flick with Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhall was. Good FX and yet another disaster movie based in NYC. I think that’s why I sort of like movies based elsewhere, because using NYC as the scene of disaster has been way overdone.

The Hurricane (1979 and 1937) – Hurricane in 1979 was with Mia Farrow and Jason Robards, directed by Jan Troell. It is loosely based on the 1937 film of the same name. I have never seen either, and took this description from the depths of the web. Same goes for this clip of the original.

Key Largo (1948) – Starring Humphrey Bogart & Edward G. Robinson. The movie was adapted by Richard Brooks and Huston from Maxwell Anderson’s 1939 play of the same name, which played on Broadway way back in the day. I’ve never seen this one either.

Honorable mention:

The Hurricane (1999) – This has NOTHING TO DO WITH A HURRICANE and stars Denzel Washington. It’s about boxing. A middleweight boxer who was committed of homicide and how he dealt with prison and life moving forwards. So if you are looking for themes for your hurricane Sandy movie night, this will feel out of place. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though.

Any others? Let me know if we missed any. Time to end the movie marathon and head outside.