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Archive for December, 2009

I figured before my Top Ten movies list of 2009 comes out, I kinda wanted to give you guys some context in terms where I’m coming from.

So, here it is, my top ten list OF ALL TIME.

10. Kill Bill (Volume 1 and 2)

9. Mallrats

8. Oldboy

7. Versus

6. Shaolin Soccer

5. High Fidelity

4. Singin’ in the Rain

3. Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn

2. Star Wars : A New Hope

1. Back to the Future

Now, I will save the trouble of going into WHY I put those films in that order for another time but I guess I want you guys to see how my movie taste goes.

Theres a lot of genre(sci-fi,horror, action etc.) movies on it, and quite the few comedies, but more importantly a lot of them are character based films, or films with really strong characters.

Humor is prevalent in almost all the movies, even dark humor.

Personally, I love to laugh, to the point that I get a lot of comments that I have a pretty distinctive laugh, for better or worse 😛

So, a film like “Schindler’s List” while a film I greatly admire, and a film I think is pretty much genius, is not a movie on my personal list. (though it’s a great movie)

Movies for me, the ones I love, tend to be the ones I leave with a smile on my face.

THAT being said, it doesn’t mean I don’t mind the occasional darkness, and bleakness (I.E. Oldboy).

Looking at my list, and if you have a list of shit that came out this year, you might even guess what would be on it (though I doubt any one of you guys will care enough to do such a thing.)

Another bit about my list is that a lot of these movies showed me that movies can incorporate the things you love to make a brand new thing.

Sam Raimi loved slapstick comedy, so he threw that into Evil Dead 2, as an example.

Versus is a film made a crazy Japanese director who decided to throw kung fu, horror, sword fighting, and gunplay in one  movie just because he felt he might not make another one, and that enthusiasm comes through in a stupid film (Versus I will say, has no strong characters, but makes me smile like a mother)

Others are films that hit me as a child or a young adult and effected my personality and my imagination, some even helped shaped the way I wanted to become a filmmaker.

Some of these films are a combination all these elements.

When my list of my favorite films of this year comes up, think of this blog, as it help chose the films on the list.

So, fellow film fans, whats on your list?

P.S. FYI, I’m not  saying every film I like fits this criteria, and I’m definitely saying not every film HAS to be like my criteria. Just wanted to clarify that.

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First, lets watch the trailer to the original…..

With that on our minds, lets look ahead…

Yesterday Columbia Pictures just dropped the trailer to the remake….

First, let me go AngryAsianMan here….

Karate, is a martial arts that was created and performed…IN JAPAN. It is a JAPANESE martial arts, with some influence in chinese kenpo.

What Jackie Chan does, and what he was taught when he was a little kid….is WUSHU, or KUNG FU, but put simply, CHINESE martial arts.

This remake is set in China.  Looking at how Jackie is training Jaden Smith’s character he is training him in a wushu/kung fu style, NOT KARATE.

So, calling this movie THE KARATE KID is maddening because it is so god damn culturally insensitive.

COME ON HOLLYWOOD! Thanks for saying that ALL Asians are the same that ALL martial arts are the same.

Seriously, Fuck You.

Also, thanks for perpetuating the stereotype that everyone in an Asian country are martial artist, even the jerk 11 year olds who like to pick on the poor westerner.

Also, is it me or is there a fight scene in this movie in which Jackie’s character (named Mr. Han in the remake) takes on 11 year olds?

Yes, it is similar to the scene in the original in which Mr. Miyagi fights the cobra kai at the Halloween party….but those kids were like 16-18, old enough to probably handle themselves in a fight.

Jackie is fighting kids the remake?

Oh, and are they actually training on The Great Wall of China? Might as well right? Westerners know of that Chinese monument, put it in the movie!

I also kinda laughed at the their new take on the “wax on, wax off” training technique, thought I don’t think “Jacket off, Jacket on” is going to catch on in modern pop culture.

So, whats the conflict?

Well I hate to say this but while watching the trailer, I got the feeling that this might be Jackie’s best american performance to date. I love his performance in the trailer. He’s clearly not doing a rip off Pat Morita’s Mr. Miyagi. Jackie  is making the character his own, and I  like what I see.

Granted, it’s just a trailer so we will see how this goes, but I think Jackie is actually going to come out of this movie with some good talk about him.

Same can be said about Jaden Smith. He was quite good in The Pursuit of Happyness, and I’m kinda diggin him in this trailer too. He’s not trying to be cute in this film, and for an 11-year-old, he’s actually got a surprisingly mature looking role in this flick.

The cinematography looks strong too. I like all the shots with the crowds of martial artist practicing, and the training stuff with Jackie and Jaden looks good too.

Listen, we all agree there is no reason to flat-out remake this movie.

Granted, Hollywood has probably ripped it off enough for them to just finally say “Fuck it, well just remake it now.”

Examples of  Karate Kid rip offs?

Sidekicks-Mako taking over the role of Mr. Miyagi in this Chuck Norris guest starring movie.

Never Back Down-New guy gets picked on by arrogant asshole, learns martial arts(MMA for that movie) to defeat asshole in a tournament.

The truth is, I would be more into the idea of this flick if they just called it something else.

Had this been The Kung Fu Kid, or in my opinion a better sounding title would have been The Wushu Kid, I would be a bit more open-minded to it.

Calling it one of those titles means that it acknowledges that it’s a new take on the original, but it will be different enough to maybe stand on its own.

But no, Hollywood fears that audiences need a recognizable name for them to watch a movie.

Heres one more thing before we go….

I remember reading Jackie Chan’s autobiography “I am Jackie Chan: My life in Action” (Yeah, I know, I know, but I was big fan so sue me.)

When Jackie was doing his first press tour, he was doing it for his first American film “Battle Creek Brawl”(1980).

And I remember him saying that whenever an interviewer would ask him how long has he been training in karate he would always correct them, saying what he did was not karate.

I remember him saying he got tired of it very quickly and that he wished America could see the difference.

Well, 29 years later, I guess Jackie’s wishes still haven’t come true and even though at one point  they did almost call it The Kung Fu Kid ( read here for proof on that: http://www.firstshowing.net/2009/03/29/jackie-chans-karate-kid-remake-to-be-called-kung-fu-kid/) the studio went right back to The Karate Kid.

So, no, remaking the movie isn’t my problem, it’s that no matter how hard Asians try to be represented in mainstream American media, Hollywood still can’t give us the respect we ask so simply for.

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This is not an original movie. It’s a mishmash other stories and films all about an outsider who becomes a member of a tribe and learns about nature being a warrior. You know, like Dances with Wolves or The New World.

Totally not original…but neither was Star Wars: A New Hope.

Stars Wars was just a mix mash of Flash Gordon, and just about every fantasy story about a farm boy who saves the princess from the black knight.

It’s was the angle and way the story was told, a fresh approach that made Star Wars, and now AVATAR, such good films.

AVATAR is good, very good, and James Cameron just reminded me that he is one of the best on how to craft a bad ass sci-fi spectacle.

After experiencing the inept filmmaking in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, or the empty vessel of a film that was Terminator Salvation this year, the first thing that Cameron did right in Avatar was actually create and develop characters.

Hey! What a novel idea! Not just enjoy the action (which was great) or the amazing designs and visuals, we also get a cast of characters that we can root for…just like in Cameron’s other films.

He created a good and likeable protagonist in Jake Sully. Forget Sam Worthington’s uninteresting Marcus from Terminator, and see the performance he gives in Avatar. His character’s arc from the beginning of the film to the end was very believable and Worthington shows that he can make a good leading man. One of my favorite scenes with Jake is the first time he is using his Avatar. There is such a great bit of joy in his face since this man(a cripple in a wheelchair) is running for the first time in years.

Jake’s relationship with both the humans (Sigourney Weaver’s Grace, Joel David Moore’s Norm and Michelle Rodriguez’s Trudy) and with the Na’vi (Zoe Saldana’s Neytri, C.C.H. Pounder’s Mo’at and Laz Alonso’s Tsu’Tey) was compelling to watch as Cameron expertly paces Jake’s relationship with both groups in the film.

The stand out characters for me in either camps have been Weaver and Saldanna.

It’s great to see Weaver in a Sci-Fi action film and I loved her character Grace, a botanist who has already developed a strong relationship with the Na’Vi. 

Saldana does some of the best acting this side of Andy Serkis’s Gollum. I hope people can look past the CGI(even though the CGI work was great) and see that Saldana gives 110% dedication to her character, she’s that good.

Stephen Lang  plays Colonel Miles Quaritch, and let me just say that he is a badass. He’s cut from the same tough guy marine mold from other Cameron films, but he’s not a xerox of the soldiers from Aliens or The Abyss. Colonel Quaritch feels like the kind of tough guy would have trained Corporal Hicks and Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn’s characters from Camerons other films) into good soldiers. A great adversary for the Na’Vi.

In terms of the story, as I said in the beginning, yes the film has a formal you’ve might have already seen before.

There are elements of John Carter of Mars, and Dances with Wolves but it’s the added sci-fi and fantasy angel that works for me.

The only real thing I can think of that people will probably give the movie shit for is the almost “Think Green” message thats in the film, but it didn’t bother me.

YES, if you’ve seen more than one Sci-Fi, action, fantasy movie (and most like you have) you will probably guess the major plot points that will happen in this film.

Well good for you…now stop.

Did you watch The Matrix and as soon as someone said “No one has ever survived a fight with an Agent for more the 5 mins” that Neo wouldn’t KICK THE ASS of an Agent at the end?

Did you watch Aliens and didn’t think “Oh that little girl is going to get kidnapped and Ripley has to save her”?

Did you watch The Princess Bride and didn’t know that they find a way to bring Westly back from the dead?

So? Who cares? You went to see Avatar, not an Art house flick! Just kick back and enjoy the ride.

The story is still well told for this genre, and it works despite any minor flaws you could find(and in my opinion there was very few storywise). It doesn’t feel like their insulting your intelligence. It’s a good old-fashioned adventure yarn.

Also give credit to the fact that the filmmakers crafted a fully developed world with a very detailed backstory, and the way they unfold information and exposition was done very well.

“How about the 3D? Is it even worth it?”

Yes. Yes and yes.

This is the best use of 3D I’ve seen in a major movie, and it actually ADDs to the film.

When Jake gets on Pandora for the first time,  the 3D actually feels like you in it! Your experience on Pandora is very much  like Jake. At first you can’t get over how great it all looks. Eventually, like Jake in his avatar, you get used to it and you don’t even realize your still wearing the damn glasses.

My advice, go into Avatar, not as a movie that will change the way you look at movies, but as it is. 

If you love James Cameron, then I have a great feeling that your going to really dig it.

But seriously, go in knowing you’re going to go in for a fun time.

I had a blast, and I can’t wait to return to Pandora again.

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This is going to be sort of odd, because what I’m planning to write is not only a review.

I know what I felt is something that not everyone else is going to feel, but this is what the film did for me personally.

“Up in the Air” hit me, and the way it effected me, scared me a bit.

It was quiet too. As the movie ended, I knew I liked it, but as soon as I left the theater, and as soon as I got in the car, I felt like I was suckered punched.

I couldn’t put my finger on it.

I knew I couldn’t relate to the job and all the traveling. The most traveling I’ve done in the last few years was my road trip to Atlanta earlier this year. The flight back home was the first time I got in a plane since 2002.

I knew I couldn’t relate to George Clooney’s  Ryan character  interest with collecting miles and disconnection with his family , nor did I relate to  Anna Kendricks Natalie and her ambitious pre-planning on her own life.

But as I started to think on it some more I knew what I did relate to….life choices.

There’s a  scene with Clooney’s Ryan as he’s firing J.K. Simmons character( Simmons killing in the acting department as always).  Theres a moment were Clooney calls attention to Simmons life choices.

Settling, needing money,  going away from the dream career, but more importantly, going away from the thing that makes you happy….

Sure, you can argue that the scene is a little cliché in that moment in the film, but that scene’s message sort of haunts the rest of the picture for me.

This year has been a pretty challenging year for me personally. I worried about my choices, I worried what I want to do and what I need to do.

I want certain things like everyone else, but is my chosen lifestyle getting in the way and am I too comfortable in my lifestyle to even see that I might have lost the opportunity to do certain things.

So no, I don’t relate to Ryan’s travels….but I do relate to finding out  you may have created a life that you may(or will) regret.

This is why the film worked on me, it got me thinking about what I did my own life in a way that I don’t think Director Jason Reitman ment for us to take, but this is how it affected me.

But even without all that being said,  I do know there is plenty to like that everyone can take from this film.

Clooney is clearly at his best in this film. Funny and charming are always in Clooney’s arsenal, but here he also brings the quite disappointment and sadness that his character hides convincingly. I’ve always been a Clooney fan (From Dusk Till Dawn, people, mother effin From Dusk Till Dawn…) but this is absolutely my favorite George Clooney role.

Kendricks nails the fresh out of college personality of Natalie. Her character could have been very predictable but what Reitman and Hendricks does with her is simple, direct and real.

Vera Farmiga ‘s Alex is perfect with Clooney’s Ryan. Alex’s relationship is wonderfully developed, and Farmiga is just perfect in the part.

In terms Director Jason Reitman, this is a great step forward.

In “Thank You For Smoking” and “Juno”, he proves he has a great visual eye and can direct compelling comedies with just the right amount of drama.

“Up in the Air'” just proved, as funny as it is dramatic, that Reitman has a lot more to show.  

Who knows what your experience with the film will be. Maybe you will just find it “good, not great”, maybe you’ll love it, maybe you think it’s “overhyped”  and you don’t see what all the fuss is all about.

But, I know what I felt after the film.

Despite what I went through this year, I can shake out of it.

I can still make good life choices, and I can decide what I’m going to do.

It’s never too late.

So I have to ask myself..”Where am I going?”

Up my friends. We  have to believe we can only go up.

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Geez, let a dude get busy, and all of a sudden, he forgets he has a blog.

Well, I’m determine to not neglect my blog like I did my Myspace blog.

I noticed that since I started blog on here I have had a pattern.

September- 3 Blogs

October- 5 Blogs

November- 3 Blogs

So it is up to me to make sure I continue this little pattern and try to get 5 blogs done this month.

But first things first..

Remember Scarymovie Fest? https://justinquizon12.wordpress.com/2009/10/09/scarymovie-festival-2009-part-1/

Yeah…that didn’t go so well.

One of my biggest mistakes on my Myspace blog was giving myself assignment blogs, because once I start them…I NEVER FINISH THEM.

I now know I want to blog about things when they come to me, not force myself a homework assignment.

I know it seems like I’m contradicting myself here, saying I will plan to write 5 blogs, yet  I don’t want to force myself to write.

Well, it’s just easier to plan on writing 5 essays and not deciding on what they will be, as suppose to forcing myself to write an assign subject that I’m not excited to write about in that particular time.

…..that and I’m a GIANT procrastinator when I can be.

It’s not like I didn’t watch any of the movies on my Scarymovie Fest list. I did watch one of them….

This was a fun, silly “B-” or “C grade” horror film.

The concept was easy. It’s “Rear Window” meets “Friday the 13th” meets “Jaws”.

It does all the cliché horror movie moments, but does it in a surprisingly fresh way.

Matt McCoy is great in the lead, playing it with just the right amount of  realism this silly film gets.

And for you horror fans, yes, you get your blood and boobs and two really nifty kills.

It’s been a decent month so far, and I hope everyone is well. Take care.

-Justin

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