LOST: Don't look back in anger

Posted by Sean Stangland on Mon, 08/23/2010 - 17:53

How will history remember "Lost"?

The answer to that question may change between now and Sunday, when the Emmys are handed out. If voters decide to award ABC's iconic science-fiction drama with the top prize for its final season, some viewers may be inspired to revisit the series and reconsider whatever knee-jerk reaction its final episode produced. But let's face it: That Emmy will almost certainly be awarded to "Mad Men" or "Breaking Bad," and the prevailing opinion that "Lost" ended not with a bang, but a whimper, will hold.

Race and gender in "Scott Pilgrim"

Posted by Sean Stangland on Thu, 08/19/2010 - 21:30

From Twitter tonight:
SeanStangland It occurs to me that SCOTT PILGRIM has a lot in common with JUNO, humor-wise. I wonder how many PILGRIM fans are also Diablo-haters?
ShokDiesel @SeanStangland Haven't seen the movie yet, but will. But honestly, what incentive does an urban-dwelling nonwhite movie watcher have 2 C it?

The question is an interesting one. As a white, suburban, lovelorn nerd who is fond of 8- and 16-bit video games, I am the target demographic for "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World," the buzzworthy but little-seen comedy from Edgar Wright.

Ten films to see this fall

Posted by Sean Stangland on Thu, 08/19/2010 - 18:47

The fall movie season is upon us, and it looks far more promising than the rest of the year. Which blockbusters and Oscar hopefuls can challenge "Toy Story 3" for the crown of 2010's best movie? I'm most looking forward to these ten contenders:

"Who is your daddy, and what does he do?"

Posted by Sean Stangland on Wed, 08/18/2010 - 19:00

Hopefully you didn't fork over 10 bucks for "The Expendables" hoping to see The Governator side-by-side with John Rambo, firing machine guns and trading one-liners. Had I not read months ago that Arnold Schwarzenegger merely made a cameo in Sylvester Stallone's action throwback, I probably would have lined up to see the film this past weekend. (Talk about horrible marketing; the trailers made it look like Arnold had a major role in the film. For shame, Lionsgate.)

But after seeing the trailer for "The Expendables" and this hilarious compilation video (NSFW), I realized how much I miss Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Incredible film, horrible marketing

Posted by Sean Stangland on Sun, 08/15/2010 - 11:29

I'm not going to lie: I went into Edgar Wright's video-game fantasy "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World" expecting to hate it. The Internet intelligentsia who saw the film last month at Comic-Con in San Diego never stopped telling me how it was going to change the way I see movies, change my life, and possibly change water into wine. Their enthusiasm was so effusive, and I could not understand why -- I had not laughed at any of the trailers or TV spots, and comedies that get by on referential humor rarely impress me. (Take "The Wedding Singer," for instance. We were supposed to laugh at the mere mention of a Rubik's Cube and other '80s relics. They didn't even bother to make jokes about those things. But I digress.)

But now I've seen the movie and the weekend box office numbers, and I know why this film's champions have been so vocal: They were trying to keep one of the best movies of the year from flopping. They failed, but the marketing team hired by Universal Pictures failed in a much bigger way.

The previews ARE the best part

Posted by Sean Stangland on Tue, 07/27/2010 - 16:16

This year's crop of movie trailers would make an excellent case for the creation of a new Academy Award. For far too long, all trailers seemed to give everything away. Many still do, of course, but many more are projecting an air of mystery -- and the very best have been among the best films I've seen all year.

Yes, I'm serious. With the exception of "Inception" and "Toy Story 3," the films I've been the most excited about in 2010 have running times south of 150 seconds.

"Inception's" maestro

Posted by Sean Stangland on Sun, 07/25/2010 - 22:04

If there is such a thing as a film-scoring empire, Hans Zimmer has created it. The German-born musician is unquestionably the busiest and most popular film composer of the last decade, and has established long-standing collaborations with some of the most powerful figures in Hollywood. Zimmer's company, Remote Control Productions (formerly Media Ventures), employs dozens of other composers who collaborate on nearly every project, including those headed by Zimmer himself. Sometimes these collaborations are transcendant ("Gladiator," "Hannibal"); sometimes they are downright terrible ("Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl"). Zimmer, whose work can be heard in "Inception," is a polarizing figure among film buffs for the way he helped changed the industry.

"Inception" and the dreams we all share

Posted by Sean Stangland on Mon, 07/19/2010 - 16:48

SPOILER WARNING. You should not read this until after you've seen "Inception." Major plot points and the ending will be discussed.

Further down the rabbit hole

Posted by Sean Stangland on Fri, 07/16/2010 - 16:59

Imagine you're at home, remote in hand. You turn on TNT and see Danny Ocean and his pals planning a complicated heist. Click, and you're watching George Lazenby as 007, skiing down Piz Gloria. Click again, and Quentin Tarantino's Bride is walking into O-Ren Ishii's Tokyo nightclub. Click yet again, and Morpheus is revealing the truth to Thomas Anderson.

Now imagine this is all one movie, and everything makes perfect sense.

That's the genius of "Inception," the new thriller written and directed by Christopher Nolan. It may not be a "Kubrickian masterpiece" or a "miracle," and it probably won't "have you worrying if it's safe to close your eyes at night," but it is ambitious, exciting and perfectly executed. And that means a lot in a year when going to the movies has largely been a disappointing experience.

Just a hint of magic

Posted by Sean Stangland on Wed, 07/14/2010 - 14:20

Nicolas Cage has become a punchline in this age of Internet snark, an actor widely regarded as a sellout and a loose cannon who squandered the promise of his "Leaving Las Vegas" Oscar. He seems to have few defenders these days, though no less prominent a critic than Roger Ebert thinks he's still one of the best actors in the business.

I wouldn't go that far, but he's certainly one of the most interesting.

Whether he's getting coked up in Werner Herzog's "Bad Lieutenant -- Port of Call: New Orleans" or slinging plasma bolts in today's new release, "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," Cage has no regard for playing it safe. Even in roles that should require him to play it safe, as in "Sorcerer," he finds some weird personality quirk, some inexplicable line reading. He's certainly never boring.

"Sorcerer" isn't boring either, but it isn't nearly as original as its star.