Saturday, December 25, 2010

12 Days of A Christmas Carol - Day 12 - Robert Zemeckis (2009)

12 Days of A Christmas Carol - Day 11 - Barbie in a Christmas Carol

Thursday, December 23, 2010

12 Days of A Christmas Carol - Day 10 - The Musical (2004)

Monday, June 7, 2010

World of Color - Preview

On Friday, June 11th, Disney California Adventure (formally Disney’s California Adventure) will officially open the Silly Symphony Swings and The World of Color. The World of Color is a nighttime water show, like the one in Vegas, which is DCA’s new “kiss goodnight”, much like the Electrical Parade was and the fireworks and Fantasmic are for Disneyland. I’ve now seen it twice and have decided with the opening so close to give my opinion and talk a little bit about what to expect. Now if you want you can go online and check out YouTube where some people have recorded the show from their hotel rooms but you won’t get the full effect. Like watching fireworks online you, firstly, don’t have the experience of being there seeing it with your own two eyes and trust me that’s the way you have to see it.

Growing up in Southern California, I have been able to grow up with Disneyland. One of my first memories is The Main Street Electrical Parade. It will always hold a special place in my heart and will always to me be apart of the Disneyland nostalgia. Apparently this was true for many others because after it’s departure from Disneyland in 1996 it was moved to DCA and stayed there for years. They even revamped it and had it as part of what Disney calls their summers, Summer Nightastic.

Another part of Nightastic is Fantasmic, hence the name. This show I didn’t see until a couple years ago and was mildly impressed. The show has been at the park since 1992 but for some reason never got around to seeing it. Maybe because it was always around the time of the fireworks and I would always choose them over it but during one of the viewings I saw a mom getting really into the show. So much so she was moving her arms like she was conducting the water herself and embarrassing her kids. She wasn’t that much older than me and I realized she must hold the same nostalgia for this as I do with the Electrical Parade.

There is a reason these shows have been at the park for so long. Fantasmic has been there for 18 years, the Parade, off and on, for almost 40 years and the Fireworks have been there for almost 55 years. So here’s the big question, my point for talking about these shows when I’m here to talk about World of Color, does the World of Color belong on the list of classic Disney/Disneyland shows that a kid who will visit the park next week for the first time in his life look back 20+ years from now and say I love Disneyland because when I was a kid I saw The World of Color and fell in love? Well obviously we will have to wait 20 years for that but it is in my opinion that this show has a strong chance.

Disney California Adventure has always had the running joke of it being a less than adequate sister park to the original. Well it’s not really a joke. Disneyland USA is unlike any other park in the world and I’m including the other “Magic Kingdoms”. While other parks are bigger and some have cooler rides, Disneyland has a history and warmness that cannot be replicated. Like the decade it came out of, it’s a huge piece of American Pie.

I have a few friends who don’t get it. They say Magic Mountain is a better park…well it’s not. And whenever I say well the rides might be cooler, they reply what else is there. Well everything. Would Six Flags worry what could we do to give a greater guest experience? Do people from out of state or even country dream of one day visiting Knott’s Berry Farm? Does Make-a-Wish hear people say I want to go to Universal Studios? Probably not.

Now taking all that into consideration. 15 years ago when Eisner and the imagineers decided to turn Disneyland into a multiday resort, they did it kind of “half assed”. The original idea was for a west coast EPCOT (WESTCOT). When that fell through, someone suggested California as a theme but forgot to realize that with the park being in California it wasn’t something new. When Disneyland was built you couldn’t go to a castle in California or take a rocket to the moon. You can drive another 30 miles and see the real Hollywood or just down the street and see the beach.

So with DCA being a flop and while under new management, ideas were once again thrown around. One idea I heard was a Pixar park and with how many Pixar references there are already it would have been an easy transition. Instead they went with a $1.1 Billion renovation. Paradise Peer is almost finished but there is still 2 years of changes to come.

As someone who has seen some of the things they are doing for World of Color, like food, beverages and merchandise, it makes me wonder why they couldn’t use that amount of creativity originally when building the park. Then maybe they could have avoided spending more than the park’s original price tag.
So why am I talking about all that? Because with World of Color I believe Disney California Adventure is finally on its way to being a decent sequel to Disneyland.

So here’s what I think of the show. Firstly I’m not going to say too much. Why? For one I can’t legally. I’ve signed a piece of paper saying I can’t. Second, I don’t want to spoil it. It’s like giving a movie review and not saying too much about the plot. But World of Color is amazing. It’s not just a water show. Its got video, lasers, fire and fog. I would say about half of this video is Pixar and the other half Disney Animation with a couple other things, but the transition between the scenes are perfect and you really get the sense that these characters belong together under one roof. The way light and water are used together are unlike anything you will every see.

If you’ve seen the firework show “Remember, Dreams Come True” then you know it’s a look at Disneyland through fireworks. That’s what WoC is but with Disney films and all the techniques I’ve mentioned.

Now for the bad news, I actually saw this show a couple months back too and they changed things. For one there was a this “structure” that looked like a squid or something that formed the chest of the Chernabog from the Night on Bald Mountain scene from Fantasia and water created a “screen” for his head to be projected on top while fire was spit from the whole thing. Sadly it rusted too easily and was taken out. Also there was a whole scene of Under the Sea, which is still there, but Sebastian used to be a paper animation. Now he’s traditional animation. I wonder why they changed that. In fact I heard there was a whole Alice in Wonderland scene in paper animation that I’ve never seen. They used to speak proudly of this animator they got to do all the paper animations. Don’t get me wrong I like the traditional stuff but I felt a little cheated by its loss. Also, a couple scenes were added to my delight. With some changes I’m glad that the last few scenes never changed. This is good.

I mentioned before that the Silly Symphony Swings officially open Friday too, but it has been open to the public for a week or so now. I do have to say I like everything about it better than the Orange Stinger.

Keep up the good work, Disney!

Edmund Prieto & Geoff Duncan Professionals

A music video I directed

Friday, March 5, 2010

Top Ten/Bottom Ten of 2009

Being that the Oscars are Sunday and I gave my predictions already here’s my Top 10/Bottom 10 of last year…enjoy!

Top Ten
  1.  Inglorious Basterds
  2. Up in the Air
  3.  (500) Days of Summer
  4. Avatar
  5.  Where the Wild Things Are
  6.  Up
  7.  A Serious Man
  8. District 9
  9. Star Trek
  10. Sherlock Holmes

Bottom Ten
  1. Miss March
  2. Transformers Revenge of the Fallen
  3. The Twilight Saga: New Moon
  4.  The Informers
  5.  Street Fighter The Legend of Chun Li
  6. X-Men Origins: Wolverine
  7. Fired Up
  8. Knowing
  9. Coraline
  10. Push

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Oscar Predictions!!!

Every year I find there is a difference between who should win and who will probably win. Some of the time these two are actually the same and an angel gets its wings but most of the time movies and actors get the golden statue while masterpieces and revelations go home with “At least you got nominated”. This is my list of who I think should win and who probably will.
Now there are a few categories I will skip like the entire Shorts category, Foreign and Documentary considering I have seen none of the films in these categories.

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Princess and the Frog
The Secret of Kells

No contest…The only movie in this category to be nominated for best picture and considering Pixar almost always wins the winner here is UP and even though I liked The Princess and the Frog, Up is the superior film. Not as superior as last years Wall*E but still great. By the way, Coraline is one of the worst movies of 2009. It was boring and the story ran like a cheap video game.

What should win: Up
What will win: Up

Best Achievement in Visual Effects

District 9
Star Trek

Again no contest here. District 9 and Star Trek had amazing visuals but Avatar is one of the films we will look back on as on of the great leap forwards in VFXs. It deserves this Oscar more than any other it may or may not win.

What should win: Avatar
What will win: Avatar

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Star Trek
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Avatar probably has this one won. I kinda think the people who vote for this and the next award aren’t sure what they are. (Honestly I didn’t know 100% until I just looked it up on Wikipedia.) This is why it just goes to the biggest blockbusters or whatever wins best picture. I would love to see Star Trek get this one because I loved the sound of the void of space. If not Inglourious Basterds always gets my heart going whenever a big gun fight occurs.

What should win: Star Trek
What will win: Avatar

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Star Trek

Again…Avatar but they never take into consideration that animated movies have to start from the ground up. (Mind the pun) Also Hurt Locker had great sound and again so did the Basterds and Star Trek so everyone here deserves it.

What should win: Up
What will win: Avatar

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song

Crazy Heart: The Weary Kind
Faubourg 36: Loin de Paname
Nine: Take It All
The Princess and the Frog: Almost There
The Princess and the Frog: Down in New Orleans

Alright can we please stop nominating the same movie for the same category? Not to mention the best song in the movie wasn’t nominated (Friends on the Other Side). I didn’t see the other 3 movies but I don’t have to to know who will win, The Weary Kind from Crazy Heart. Seeing the trailer and hearing the buzz it just sort of screams the song everyone will vote for. What should win? Well beside the song not nominated I’ll say Almost There.

What should win: The Princess and the Frog “Almost There”
What will win: Crazy Heart

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score

Avatar: James Horner
Fantastic Mr. Fox: Alexandre Desplat
The Hurt Locker: Marco Beltrami, Buck Sanders
Sherlock Holmes: Hans Zimmer
Up: Michael Giacchino

This is a hard one because for the most part these are great scores. Even though I haven’t seen Mr. Fox, last year Alexandre Desplat did an amazing job with Benjamin Button. Hans Zimmer always does a great job and this is another great example of that. The only one I didn’t like was The Hurt Locker. It was cliché heavy metal mixed with middle eastern vocals trying to create their version of a Slumdog Millionaire type score. They fail in that and really don’t present anything original or great. The two best scores are for Avatar and Up. James Horner did an amazing job of providing a musical track that matched the amazing visuals of Avatar and Michael Giacchino has done nothing but greatness not only for Pixar (Ratatouille and The Incredibles) but for J.J. Abrams in Lost and Star Trek. With Up, Michael knocks it out of the park. Although I think he should win it will probably be James Horner for the win.

What should win: Up
What will win: Avatar

Best Achievement in Makeup

Il divo
Star Trek
The Young Victoria

This is a tough one. This isn’t a category I really pay too much attention too and I’ve only seen Star Trek. I'm gonna vote for both for Star Trek. I mean most people didn’t recognize Eric Bana.

What should win: Star Trek
What will win: Star Trek

Best Achievement in Costume Design

Bright Star
Coco avant Chanel
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
The Young Victoria

Costume Design! The Award given to the best-looking period piece. Kinda don’t care. I say give to Dr. Parnassus because costumes and production design was the best part of that movie but it will probably go to The Young Victoria because it’s a period piece. The Oscars are getting unoriginal.

What should win: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
What will win: The Young Victoria

Best Achievement in Art Direction

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Sherlock Holmes
The Young Victoria

Although I said Parnassus was only good for its costumes and Art Direction I say give this to Sherlock Holmes. I love the look of this film, not to mention the film itself. It might go to Nine or Young Victoria because again this is a category most don’t really give too much thought too they see pretty costumes and go I’ll vote for that.

What should win: Sherlock Holmes
What will win: Nine?

Best Achievement in Editing

Avatar: Stephen E. Rivkin, John Refoua, James Cameron
District 9: Julian Clarke
The Hurt Locker: Bob Murawski, Chris Innis
Inglourious Basterds: Sally Menke
Precious - Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire: Joe Klotz

Alright here’s the category I can actually take about with some know how considering I actually am an editor. I haven’t seen Precious and I don’t think it’s gonna be the one to win this. District 9 was great but I have a feeling its gonna leave this year empty handed. The Hurt Locker did a great job keeping my attention and has a chance of winning but I say give it to Sally. She’s been Quentin’s editor since the beginning and this is one of her best. Unfortunately, this will probably go to the over rated blockbuster. What’s with the 3 editors?

What should win: Inglourious Basterds
What will win: Avatar

Best Achievement in Cinematography

The White Ribbon
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds

Avatar for best cinematography? Isn’t that mostly cgi? The White Ribbon looks good but not special enough for the award. Harry Potter did look great and I'm glad to see it get a nomination. This year is special because I’ve seen most of these films on blu-ray and it really helps. Hurt Locker looked great but Inglourious Basterds looks outstanding. The opening shot says it all. Sadly this will probably go to the overrated Hurt Locker and overrated Avatar.

What should win: Inglourious Basterds
What will win: Avatar…wait, what?
What should have been nominated: A Serious Man

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

District 9
An Education
In the Loop
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
Up in the Air

This is a difficult one because there really isn’t one movie that’s expecting to win a lot of awards. I have to split my decision and say District 9 and Up in the Air were the 2 best written but if I HAD to choose one it would be Up in the Air. Too bad District 9 wasn’t labeled as Halo it would have been the first good video game movie. What’s gonna win I'm gonna guess and say Precious.

What should win: Up in the Air

What will win: Precious

What should have been nominated: Where the Wild Things Are

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
The Messenger
A Serious Man

This is an easy one. Up is great, A Serious Man is really good, Haven’t seen The Messenger and The Hurt Locker is way overrated but the best written film comes from one of the best living film writers, Inglourious Basterds, and you know what I think this is the first movie that Basterds really has a shot at winning. So Tarantino for the win.

What should win: Inglourious Basterds
What will win: Ingourious Basterds
What should have been nominated: 500 Days of Summer

Best Achievement in Directing

Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker (2008)
James Cameron for Avatar (2009)
Lee Daniels for Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009)
Jason Reitman for Up in the Air (2009/I)
Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Now it’s time to pull out the big guns. Besides Precious, which I haven’t seen, all the directors did a really good job. Bottom of my list though would be Bigelow even though she seems to be the favorite to win. Ugh. I say this needs to be Quentin’s year. He lost to one of my favorite directors in ’94 but that was one of his first movies and he needed to pay his dues first. He has and finally has another movie worth Best Picture nomination. I don’t know how long it will be until he makes another movie of this greatness but he’ll probably make a subpar film in the future and win for that, like Scorsese and The Departed. Again this needs to be Quentin’s year and Kathryn needs to pay her dues before beating two power houses. And no I'm not against woman winning this, although it’s never been done.

Who should win: Quentin Tarantino
Who will win: Kathryn Bigelow
Who should have been nominated: The Coen Bros (instead of Bigelow)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Penélope Cruz for Nine
Vera Farmiga for Up in the Air
Maggie Gyllenhaal for Crazy Heart
Anna Kendrick for Up in the Air
Mo'Nique for Precious

Mo’Nique for the win. I think she acted like an idiot on TV and movies for years so when she did this she would surprise everyone and win this award.

Who should win: Mo’Nique
Who will win: Mo’Nique

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Matt Damon for Invictus
Woody Harrelson for The Messenger
Christopher Plummer for The Last Station
Stanley Tucci for The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds

If you look up shoe-in on Wikipedia there will be a picture of Christoph Waltz from Inglourious Basterds (not really I'm just being clever and I'm not sure that’s how you spell shoe-in). Although I agree with this, I wish there was a second award for Stanley Tucci because he was just crap your pants creepy. The only reason to see The Lovely Bones and I say for sure see it.

Who should win: Christoph Waltz
Who will win: Christoph Waltz

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side
Helen Mirren for The Last Station
Carey Mulligan for An Education
Gabourey Sidibe for Precious
Meryl Streep for Julie & Julia

I’ve only seen one of these movies and Carey Mulligan was pretty good. She’ll probably have to “pay her dues” first before getting the statue. Normally paying one’s dues means acting in a bunch of good movies with a lot of good parts. Meryl Streep has done that and has almost always given one of the 5 best performances of the year. Sadly for her only two of them have been the best of the year. I don’t think this will be #3 but it could be an upset like Sean Penn last year. Someone who has played horrible parts in horrible movies, including this year, is Sandra Bullock who seems to be the favorite this year. I just watch that trailer and roll my eyes.

Who should win: Honestly don’t care!
Who will win: Sandra Bullock
Possible upset: Meryl Streep

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart
George Clooney for Up in the Air
Colin Firth for A Single Man
Morgan Freeman for Invictus
Jeremy Renner for The Hurt Locker

This one I can say is anyone’s game. Everyone has gotten rave reviews for their performances and of the ones I’ve seen they did great. I wanted to see A Single Man and Crazy Heart solely for the performances by the leads. I think it’s gonna go to Bridges who apparently gives one of those performances that he’ll be remembered for in his later career.

Who should win: Jeff Bridges
Who will win: Jeff Bridges
Possible upsets: Colin Firth, Morgan Freeman

Best Motion Picture of the Year

The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
A Serious Man
Up in the Air

Here we go! The Big One! For the first time since 1943, 10 movies have been nominated for Best Picture. I don’t see the point of this considering I don’t think half of these films deserve nominations and there are a few movies that got looked over. First I want to talk about the overlooked. Where the Wild Things Are has been considered one of the year’s best. Many have put it in there years top ten but unfortunately the Academy did not. 500 Days of Summer is better than most of the films I see on this list. Hell so is Sherlock Holmes but I don’t think Sherlock Holmes belongs on a best picture list.

Now I'm gonna go backwards down this list of worst to best.

I haven’t seen Precious or The Blind Side. From the previews they don’t look great or even good, especially not good enough for this list. An Education was only OK. The acting was good especially by its lead and by the lead’s father Alfred Molina. Even though everyone says Avatar is the most overrated movie of the year, I say that dishonor belongs to The Hurt Locker. It’s Ok and doesn’t deserve a best picture nomination let alone being a strong contender for the award. I will be very unhappy if this movie wins. District 9 was a great movie but not the best. It’s original and entertaining.

Yes, Avatar’s story is unoriginal and yes it’s a bit overrated but Avatar is the most entertaining movie of maybe the past 10 years. The visual effects are ground breaking and the motion capture was, for me, the first time it seemed real.

A Serious Man is a really good Coen Brothers movie, which is saying something. It may not be as good as No Country for Old Men but it may be one of their best.

Like I said, Wall*E was better but Up is another in a long list of great Pixar movies. It’s the best animated film of the year and possibly one of the best of the decade.

The second best film of last year was Up in the Air. There’s nothing different about it but the acting was incredible the dialogue was very well written. It’s also a movie that when I left I realized how well it was directed.

And in my opinion the best movie of 2009 was Inglourious Basterds. Yeah that was obvious from what I’ve said earlier about it but it is. Great Acting, Directing, Writing, Editing and perfect Cinematography. One of the things that surprised me is how much of the movie’s dialogue is in French or German. Again this needs to be Quentin Tarantino’s year, with this being one of his top 3 films, and I strongly desire to see the big overrated movies be overtaken by such a great movie.

What should win: Ingourious Basterds
What will win: Avatar or Hurt Locker
What should have been nominated: Where The Wild Things Are, 500 Days of Summer

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Ten Years

A student film I edited in film school.

Thursday, January 21, 2010