Archive for April, 2010

Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival 2010

This is a fun film fest for me.

I don’t get to go to film festivals regularly (Never been to Sundance, Telluride, Tribeca, Cannes etc. etc.) except for this one.

I’ve been going to this fest for the last several years. I even had the honor of having my student film screened here back in 2008!

This year I noticed there were several films that fall into, well, if I have one genre that I obsess over the most…it’s the martial arts genre.

I know what your thinking..”Justin, aren’t you suppose to support the films that showcase Asians in genres OTHER then the ones where they kick and punch?” I know, and I do, but man I just have a weakness for some good martial arts battles.

Hell, my student film was kind of my compromise to please both sides of my filmmaking goals; martial arts action  AND a comedy that showcases two asian american people in which they don’t have an identity crisis( a very common theme in most asian american films).

BUT, I’m not here to talk about a silly student film that’s 3 years old, I’m here to talk about what we got THIS year.

Theres two new films I’ve been wanting to check out, and TWO classics staring a master that needs no introduction.

So, first one up is an action film from Vietnam….

Stars Johnny Tri Nguyen and Ngo Thanh Van previously worked on the very entertaining film The Rebel (which was the closing night film in the 2007 LA Asian Pacific Film Fest) this new one looks a little more in the vein of darker Hong Kong actioneers.

The crazy choreography and stunts looks promising as I’m just expecting a fun, gritty action flick.

Since Vietnam got the Urban action taken care, let’s go to Hong Kong for the epic period action.

This trailer doesn’t have any subtitles so I will give you a quick rundown.

The film is called Bodyguards and Assassins is about a group of civilians who guard a revolutionary from a gang of …well, assassins. But as the trailer will show you, these are not some ordinary civilians…

If you know your current Hong Kong cinema, this film is pretty much an Oceans 11 sized cast of some well-known actors.

The big battle in the city streets looks massive and just plain cool.

BUT wait that’s not all…


Celebrating Bruce Lee’s 70th birthday they will show two classic Lee films!

The Chinese Connection will be a FREE outdoor screening while Enter the Dragon will be screened on Saturday with panel with Shannon Lee (Bruce’s daughter), Directors Reggie Hudlin and Brett Ratner(seriously? Brett Ratner?) and Joe Hahn from Linkin Park(Huh? Alright sure…).

BUT, that’s just the action films of course, there are plenty more in the fest, (One film in particular, Manila Skies, sounds really good.)

Check the website for more info (http://asianfilmfestla.org/2010/) and I hope to see you guys there!

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Variety is reporting on it today…http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118017689.html?categoryid=13&cs=1&ref=bd_film

For as long as the Avengers movie was announced, I racked my brain on who would be a good choice.

Jon Favreau made sense to me since he started this big wave of Marvel movies thanks to Iron Man, but he stated he has no interest in making The Avengers movie(he will be a producer on it).

Maybe Zack Snyder? His visuals are amazing and the action is guaranteed to be well shot and be epic. Granted his character work is fine(at best), it’s not his forte and for the Avengers film you need someone who can make this ensemble work and be fun to watch.

Maybe J.J. Abrams? He’s work on Star Trek was great, and ensemble in that film was stupendous. He was able to balance both the action and the character while still making it look big and epic.

BUT both Snyder and Abrams are busy as fuck guys with no room to make an epic movie like The Avengers.

SO, enter  Joss Whedon.

Dude’s an accomplished writer/director. His writing is what he’s known for, but his directing is energetic, well paced and nicely stylized.

For at least FOUR different shows he’s handled large ensembles and give each character personality, humor and enjoyable traits to make them distinct.

He knows his comics, after writing 25 issues of Astonishing X-Men (plus his run on The Runaways comic). His X-Men run was critically acclamed and a huge hit.

And most importantly…he’s HUNGRY.

Not in the sense that he’s poor assholes, no, he’s hungry to prove himself.

He has a huge following, but it’s a cult following and it’s not enough for someone who needs make more projects.

Right now, Hollywood thinks Whedon only works for a niche audience, much like Kevin Smith.

Whedon has been trying to get into the big leagues, to be someone in the industry that can make a blockbuster hit off a project.

He’s had a few movie projects get away from him or be stuck in development. (Goners, an original script at Universal, and the Wonder Woman film that didn’t work out)

His recent show, Dollhouse, also got cancelled, making him a very available man.

He’s been kicked around by some bad luck in the last few years, and he needs to make a movie to make a big stamp.

This movie is his answer.

Personally (as if you couldn’t tell) I think he’s perfect for the job.

I love his work dearly and I have been waiting for someone to give him a big budget superhero film, I just didn’t think it would be this big budgeted superhero film.

This will be the biggest project he has ever worked on, but I think he’s ready.

Good luck Joss, because it’s your job to make sure the Avengers assemble!

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Call this a rant if you will, but let me rant.

Sometimes I think the art of making a cool movie poster is dead.

Even the silliest of comedies used to get posters like theses…

Now, they look like this…

Photographer-“Perfect, good, just stand there and mug at the camera. Photoshop guy, what you have in mind for the design?”

Photoshopguy-“Uh…I’ll throw the title in the front and their names above them?”

Photographer-“………….good enough for me!”

p.s. I am quite aware that I’m picking on KILLERS again. ;P

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For a while Doctor Who was one of those show I’ve wanted to get into, but I had no resources.

I didn’t buy the DVDs nor did I download the torrents. BUT all my friends saw it and loved it.

It was like that for the first 4 series of the RTD years (aka The Russel T. Davies years).

Finally last August I bugged one of my friends to let me borrow a box set.

Thanks to all the talkings I’ve had with my friends about the show, and the few episodes I did see (and really enjoyed) I knew I can just jump into any series.

So I watched Series 4, with Donna Noble as his Companion.

As the last shot of “Journey’s End” rolled (the series 4 finale) I was convinced…I’m a fan. A BIG fan. One that can’t stop talking about it with other fans. It was such a joy to find a new fun genre show that I can look forward to. I haven’t loved a show this much since Buffy, Angel and Firefly, and if you know me that’s a BIG complement.

So I’ve done my best to play catch up watching the older episodes and most exciting, looking forward to the future of the series.

Now I’ve had my concerns. I too fell so in love with David Tennant’s Doctor, while I knew it was the history of the show, I was starting to wonder if I can accept a new Doctor.

And was I putting too much pressure on Stephen Moffat, the shows new head writer? Moffat wrote all my favorite “Who” episodes, but can he put as much imagination and depth in a full series or is he only capable of doing it in small doses?

Well, it looks like I was going to find out…

Within 10 minutes of Stephen Moffat’s first episode, “The Eleventh Hour”, I knew the show was going to be fine.

By the end of the episode, I think I fell more in love with the series then I did before.

Matt Smith’s Doctor is bloody brilliant. The fact that I forgot about Tennant should be enough to say, but let me elaborate on Smith. Theres a confidence to his performance that I was not expecting. An oddness that was appealing, a charm and exuberant energy that’s infectious and most important, a performance that felt familiar. Like he is the same man that we’ve been following for years. 

Theres a moment near the end of the episode that has Matt straight up declaring he is the shows new lead, and at that point, I couldn’t agree more.

Now no good Doctor is complete without having a companion.

Amy Pond, without giving too much away, has one of the best backstories of any of the recent series companions. Her character is given so much history and reasoning, when she decides to join the Doctor at the end of the episode you understand exactly why she is doing it.

Karen Gillan gives a great grounded reality to the proceedings. She brings a real feisty attitude and independence without sounding like a nag. She is also damn funny, her reaction to one of the monsters with a priceless “What?” delivery. Her chemistry with Matt is also spot on and just fun to watch.

 And yeah…uh…she ain’t bad on the eyes either. 😉

The story itself is classic Moffat. Elements of time travel, fairy tales and the fear of things that go bump in the night are all here. The entire episode felt like this great big adventure film, with some Spielberg like elements(normal people in big situations, adventure in a small town..etc). The dialogue is cleaver, funny and quotable (“Your Scottish, fry something”…”I’m the Doctor, I’m worst then everybodys aunt.”)

While the plot is actually kind of light, it served it’s purpose as a showcase for the new Doctor and Companion. In one episode Stephen Moffat was able to make a show that feels like classic who but feel like a fun new direction at the same time.

Special note should also be given to Adam Smith’s directing and Murray Golds music. Smiths brings some flashy visuals and some neat ideas(the way we get to see how the Doctors mind works was quite cool). Yeah the special effects for the aliens are a bit dodgy, but isn’t that what you expect from Doctor Who?

Murray Gold is the only real returning element from the RTD days, and brings both good and…well, curious choices to the score.

The new Doctors action theme (in the RTD days it was the music cue “All the strange, strange creatures”) is excellent, and has become one of my favorite (if not my flat-out favorite) cue from the show. His music is a nice comfort and also helps with the transition from the RTD days into the Moffat era.

The new theme song on the other hand is… interesting. While I actually love the visuals of the opening credits ( the cloud vortex, the way the letters appear) the new version of the theme is something I got to get used to. The theme in the RTD days just blasted on to the screen, and this new one is a slow burn. It will take some time for it to grow on me.

Gosh, I think I did enough fanboy glowing for this episode already, and the trailer that they showed at the end (WWI planes in space! River Song! Dalek with a Union Jack Symbol on it! The Weeping Angels! Bill Nighy!) only makes me more impatient for the next episode.

So Moffat, lets see what else you have for us.

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