Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Even with Tivo, these 2-hour shows are friggin' excruciating.

I like Norman Gentle. In addition to being very funny, he's a pretty good singer. Other than him, there's not a lot I care about this season. I keep hoping some of them will find their voices, but I think the grind of top 36 instead of 24 is a big, big problem.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Nice Quote from Oscar WInner

Resul Pookutty (Production Sound Mixer on SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE)

The sound mixing winner, the first Indian technician ever nominated for Oscar, called his statuette "an absolute glory for me and my country."

He expanded on his mention of the word "Om" in his acceptance to say, "In our tradition we believe Om is an experience that encompasses the experience of the universe. You can hear all the pain of living just by saying the word 'Om.' That relates to me on a very personal level, being a sound person."

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sound Awards

The Cinema Audio Society (CAS) gave its feature sound mixing award to SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, prescient to the Oscars. As Vice President of the organization, I was on hand to present the Technical Achievement Award in post production to Cedar for the DNS noise reduction system. Co-presenting with me was production mixer Agamemnon Andrianos.

I was quick to update my Facebook status on stage after the winner was announced.

Last night the MPSE gave its awards to several films, including DARK KNIGHT for Sound Effects in a feature, also prescient to the Oscars.

I'm a big fan of Wall•E as well, which won last night in the animation category, but at the Oscars was beat by DARK KNIGHT.

The Oscar show itself was a bit of a mess this year, but overall I think they got things right with the awards.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


WALTZ WITH BASHIR is not your typical cartoon.

It's a documentary about a war in 1982 in the middle east. And it's animated. Which is a little weird, but the animation does not get in the way of the storytelling. What does get in the way is the fact that I know so little about history in that part of the world, that it's hard to follow at times. The film could use a prologue to explain historical references to contemporary Americans.

But there's no question that it's a powerful film, and I highly recommend it to documentary fans.

AI: TOP... 36???

Is there any way for them to stretch AMERICAN IDOL out any longer? Cheese, Louise! Addng four more people to the semi-finals ain't helping anyone!

There were no real standouts tonight, in a night that seemed even more like Karaoke Open Mike night than ever. Even when the judges raved, I felt like the show was over. I'm hoping that they begin to blossom in two weeks when we are down to the final 12.

Monday, February 16, 2009


FEARS OF THE DARK is a good animated French art film about fear. But don't expect a horror film, that's not what it is. It's a cerebral art film, mostly black and white animation. Although the styles change, it's mostly black and white with little greyscale. I'm a little surprised that the film did not receive better reviews. Much of the animation is quite beautiful.

But I think expectation is part of it. When people hear animation, they think 3D, not to mention color. When they hear "fear," they think horror. When they see a foreign film, and an art film, they freak out. Especially when it's French.

I'd recommend the film to fans of animation, foreign films, and art films. Just don't go into it with the wrong expectations.


NICK & NORAH'S INFINITE PLAYLIST has quickly moved up to one of my favorite films of the year. It's an extremely well-written, well-cast, and well-acted film that will steal your heart. The characters are wonderful. It's a very low-budget film. It reminds me a ot of SUPERBAD except is a much better film, with deeper characters.

I highly recommend a rental.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

BOLT-ing from the Theater

BOLT is an animated film about a TV hero dog who thinks his TV life is real.

It's an extremely frustrating film for an animal lover to watch because the animal is essentially psychologically tortured through much of the movie. By no means is this a good movie by any definition. It's formulaic and weakly paced. The humor is not for adults, it's for very young kids, except that the whole concept of the movie is too complicated for a small kid who doesn't understand the process of making movies. There are numerous huge leaps in logic in the screenplay, and obvious places where the writers ran out of ideas and became desperate ("I know, we'll introduce a new character! Then we'll have a song montage!")

Both the look and sound of the film are pretty pedestrian. Animation is weak compared to the other major releases of the year.

I can't recommend this to anyone.


SHINE A LIGHT is Scorsese's concert film with the Rolling Stones.

It's OK as a concert film, but I expected a lot more from the master. There's occasional intercut doc footage, most of it library footage, which is good, but not great, and nowhere near enough to qualify it as a documentary film.

The film looked and sounded great.

Friday, February 13, 2009


I don't get why anyone would want to make a feature film out of a Dr. Seuss book, especially a 3D animated film with comic actors. The film bears virtually no resemblance to the book. I like Steve Carrell a lot, and even Jim Carrey, but they both seem out of place in this film. One problem is that their voices are pretty similar to begin with. Seems like Horton needed more of a character voice. But the biggest problem is trying to stretch a very simple plot into a 90 minute movie.

Can't recommend it.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Tales of Despereaux is a complete mess. I've heard the book is good, and perhaps they were much to faithful to it, but the structure of the film is terrible. The main character doesn't even enter until 20 minutes in, and then the first 20 minutes are made moot.

Matthew Broderick was good casting, but Dusting Hoffman is terrible casting. The animation is all over the place; some is quite good, other shots look unfinished. The visual style is not pleasing. The rats and mice look too much alike. Several characters are much to reminiscent of other films (Shrek) and the score is quite derivative. On almost every cue you can tell what the temp score was.

I cannot recommend this film.


I had to sit through HSM3 last night for a judging panel. The less said the better.

I've never heard so much pitch-correction in one place at the same time before. It was so extreme on some characters that they sounded like robots.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A.I. Hollywood Week 2

They're stretching out AI again. I missed much of the drama last week when bikini girl got thrown off, and tonight was mostly filler material to build tension for who else gets thrown out. Tomorrow looks like even more of the same, so I think it's probably not worth watching again until next week.

Did I mention that my hairdresser was on the show last year?

I. M. I. Ron Man

OK, here we go again. IRONMAN is a fun movie. Mostly because so much of the movie is NOT spent on the superhero. The first half hour is about a prisoner of war, the next half hour is about a scientist/engineer. The script is very well written, and the casting is superb. Putting real actors into a comic book movie almost makes it believable.

I particularly enjoyed the cameo by the brass rat.

By the time you reaize it's a superhero movie, you've fallen love with the characters and brought the premise enough that you have no problem with the film.

It's also one of the best sounding films I've heard this year.

Excellent work, and highly recommended, if you haven't seen it yet!

Monday, February 09, 2009


It seems odd after ragging on DARK KNIGHT to watch another comic book movie and have such a different reaction. I didn't see the first HELLBOY, mostly because I don't like comic book movies, and the trailers gave me no reason to see it. I was shocked to start watching HELLBOY II and realize... it's a comedy! Nowhere in the advertising is that implied!

As a result, I enjoyed the film quite a bit, and would like to go back and see the first one. It sounded quite good as well. It reminded me quite a bit of the first MEN IN BLACK film, which was also quite enjoyable.

I would definitely recommend the film.

Sunday, February 08, 2009


How she move is not so much a movie as it is a taping of a lengthy dance competition, except that it's not really a competition, it's just a movie.

Although the acting is pretty good and it's very well shot, there's very little writing going into the movie. The characters are interesting but completely undeveloped when so much screen time in a short film is given to dance over people.

I can't recommend it, except for real dance fans. Even then, you might want to hit Fast Forward quite a bit.


I don't for the life of me understand the appeal of comic book movies. Has our American life really become so pathetic that we need to dream of superheroes defending us?

So I'm not exactly the target audience for DARK KNIGHT. The first third of the movie is outright terrible. Horribly written, acted, and paced, it took all my powers to stop myself from ejecting the disc.

However, when they finally let Heath Ledger's character cut loose, the movie becomes quite watchable. It's as though a different writer took over at the end of the first act. In fact, this movie has the opposite problem from many movies. Instead of sagging in the second act, that's the best part of this film.

Unfortunately, in the tradition of such shit-fests as Batman and Robin, they insist on introducing another villain in the same film (wasn't the Joker enough to fill a movie?) and we get stuck with Aaron Eckhart morphing (very slowly - TOO slowly) into Two-Face. Why? It kills the third act of the film, and drags its running time into an impossible-to-watch 2 1/2 hours. Almost as long as Benjamin's Butthole.

Obviously I'm the last person in America to see this film, so it doesn't matter whether I recommend it or not. Ledger deserves his nomination and might even win. But this movie is about as far from Best Film material as you can get. The film sounded good for the most part, although I found myself straining to hear the mumbled dialogue at many points, but otherwise is not really deserving of all the accolades.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Giancarlo Guerrero

Normally I would title a review of the Symphony with the works performed, but last night it was all about the conductor.

Guerrero may be the most entertaining conductor I have ever seen. In the opening piece, Rossini's Barber of Seville, it's hard enough to listen to the piece without imagining Bugs Bunny giving Elmer Fudd a scalp massage, but with Guerrero's histrionics it was impossible to keep from laughing. He frequently bounced with the music (literally) and at one point conducted on one leg - with the other leg sticking straight out into the air for several measures. He reminds me a bit of LA's new conductor, Gustavo Dudamel, who has brought much excitement to orchestral performances, and apparently Guererro has done the same in Nashville where he has taken over their orchestra.

I wondered how he would do on the Mozart Violin Concerto No. 4 (one of Mozart's lesser works), which clearly is about the soloist Cho-Liang Lin, not the conductor, and Guerrero quite wisely tamed down quite a bit. Lin did well, although he was clearly off at the beginning of the 1st and 2nd movements, but quickly found his pitch and rhythm quite well. If there were any criticism of his playing as a whole, his tone sounded a bit scratchy, and I wonder if he was having trouble with his bow; he never looked quite comfortable.

The highlight of the evening was a rousing performance of the Tchaikovsky Symphony #4, one of my favorite pieces. Guerrero did not let me down, choosing exciting (envelope-pushing) tempi in all movements, and entertaining throughout, especially in the martial 4th movement, where at one point he was doing the frug (humping the air in front of him) while building to a huge climax (so to speak), and at another point he crouched down about a foot above the floor for about a minute.

Most impressive was the pizzicato third movement. I've heard this piece performed several times live (Tchaikovsky is one of the reasons I fell in love with orchestral music). The third movement is often looked down upon because it sounds a little like "Holiday for Strings," but in fact it is technically challenging and quite beautiful in its own way. Guererro picked a very fast and difficult tempo for the strings, but they played it absolutely impeccably, better than I have ever heard it before, and that includes the BSO and the LA Phil, two world-class orchestras.

I can't wait to see Guererro conduct again. He brought a new level of excitement to the podium and, for better or for worse, everyone was talking about him after the performance.

Friday, February 06, 2009


The original MADAGASCAR wasn't exactly brilliant filmmaking, but for a kids film it was passable entertainment, and surprisingly funny.

The same can't be said of the lame sequel, which seems to have been conceived very quickly (although it took 4 years to reach the screen) and probably needed a few more rewrites or a direct-to-video release to lower expectations. Characters that were funny in the original are just annoying here.

The animation is pretty weak, although they were stuck with the style established 4 years ago. The characters are predominantly 2D with a few 3D features, which doesn't cut it any more, even for a kids film.

Recommended as a rental only for the youngest set.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


AI has become boring. They need to spice things up somehow. I know that's why they added the 4th judge, but she's completely boring and forgettable.

Maybe tomorrow will become more interesting.

Monday, February 02, 2009


Andy Wahol's SLEEP.

Andy Warhol's EMPIRE.

The security camera at the local Home Depot from 2-5 AM on Sunday.

These are just three of the films I would rather have watched than this polished turd fest. It's so sad the that Academy thinks that this is good movie-making. By the 2/3 mark, I realized I didn't give a flying crap about any of the characters in the movie. And it continued to get worse. The film is maudlin, self-conscious and bends over backwards to conform to the "big Hollywood epic" outline. It's an amazing difference from SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, where I truly cared whether the two leads would ever get together.

What happened to David Fincher? He's far from my favorite filmmaker (FIGHT CLUB is terribly overrated), but at least he's interesting, different, and edgy. This is typical Hollywood pablum.

Even the acting is bad. And I know most of these actors are much, much better than the material. The film is terribly written, with voice-over for the blind throughout the film. I can't recommend this film to anyone for any reason.

Although it did sound good, and the score was good, none of that matters when the script and characters suck ass.