Monday, September 15, 2014

The Third Day


B lood, Hair, and Eyeballs strewn across the battlefield floor,Arms, Legs, and muskets lying over the dead bodies, gore.Seeing through the haze of smoke, the stench of death rises up.A young boy gazes out vacant, in death’s stare, alone.Burnt flesh, hate, agony, all rolled up as the day ends cold.Glory, Honor, and Country left behind on the battlefield floor.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

How Does IMDB Influence Your Choice In Movie Watching?

I know that when I look at the rating system on IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes or even the Metacritic aggregate, I understand that I am looking at biased opinions of others who may or may not understand the genre, the context of the film or even what I like when I go see a film. Cinema is art and is subjective, yet I also know that many people who love to go to the movies, find the cost prohibiting, and therefore, must make relatively sound financial investment on the time they sit in a theater. Watching trailers is always a good idea, but one must be forewarned, the trailer is an advertisement showing off some of the best scenes in the film. Unfortunately that leaves the rest of the film with less than the best scenes.  Even that statement is subjective. Looking at the score on IMDB is also a risk because as noted before, there is no real standard for why a user votes for how many stars a film should get.  

We live in a world where the technology of the internet allows everyone to have a vote on a subject.  The real intent for Amazon and IMDB is to allow the user a sense of participation. This is the century of Web 2.0 and as much as IMDB serves the populace, the goal for Amazon (owners of IMDB and Box Office Mojo) is to help influence the sales of digital downloads, Blu-rays and DVDs. Keep that in mind. 

So, where does that leave us? Do we turn to critic reviews from major newspapers?  Even then it is still a crap shoot. Although some of the folks that become critics are educated in film aesthetics, it doesn't necessarily mean they understand what is necessarily entertaining. Also, genre films usually take a beating because these critics typically review for the average mainstream person. They don't really understand horror, or any of the many sub-genres of Science Fiction. Like anything in this world that we invest our money in, and have a passion about, one probably can use these rating systems as a gauge. I think finding a film critic or reviewer for each genre (comedy, drama, sci-fi, and horror) who understands and is passionate about those genres, is also a way to judge perhaps not the quality of a film, but whether it is entertaining for someone like you. If you find that reviewer and follow their advice, must still understand that as a viewer, you are ultimately accountable for your choice. IMDB also offers 'external reviews' on their site and in many cases; the reviews are geared mostly toward that genre.

Overall, when it comes to any form of artistic expression, one cannot say that the book, film, or painting is good or bad. One can only say that they liked it or not. Talk to friends about a film, look at the ratings from the various sites, look up the film reviews with the genre as the keyword, and get a feel for what people are saying. Ultimately, you decide to see a film and you like it, tell others. If you found the film enjoyable, tell other people why you enjoyed it. If you hated the film, say why you didn’t care for it. Be specific if you can, it just helps others in making their own decisions. Either way, I think it is better to be a participant in the cinematic discussion, than just being a bystander.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Revisiting A Classic: Star Wars - 33 Years Later.

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010 is the 33 anniversary of Star Wars: A New Hope

W hat were you doing on May 25, 1977?  I know where I was; I was getting off my paper route and rushing to the theaters to see a movie my best friend from Junior High told me about the day before.  I waited in the lobby for a few minutes, and then I walked down into the dark rows of seats.  On the screen, a cartoon was playing while I tried to find my friend.  I was wearing my news press delivery bag over my shoulders as I took my seat.  The cartoon ended, and then the Fox Pictures fanfare played, and then for a moment, silence...  An orchestral crescendo and the solid blue words appear on the screen, "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away."  The next two hours went by in such a blur, that all I know is that I didn't move from my seat, perhaps not even a muscle as the spectacle that is now titled Star Wars: A New Hope unfolded before my eyes.  Well after all this time, I can still remember just about every line, every nuance of every character.  In the decades that followed the release of Star Wars, we have seen two sequels, and three prequels, an animated series, a universe of licensed books and merchandise.  The phenomena that are Star Wars has infected new generations of loyal fans.

The story is classic, a teenage farm boy, on the desert world of Tatooine, wanting a find a life of adventure and excitement waits for the day that he can escape from his life of boredom.  A young princess, captured by a wicked dark-lord, tortures her into revealing the base of rebels against the evil empire.  The swashbuckling pirate, who seeks to make a quick buck, ends up as a hero.  Throw in an old wizard, two Laurel and Hardy like robots for comic relief, and you have the makings of what American mythologist, Joseph Campbell would call the archetypal hero.  Starring Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia Organa, and Harrison Ford as Han Solo, George Lucas has not only reinvented the modern myth, but also reinvented how we create visual effects in films are done today.  The visual effects of the original team, led by John Dykstra, developed the techniques and systems that have now become Industrial Light and Magic, a name recognized around the world for the high quality and leading edge technology.  As a young man, I studied the works of illustrator Ralph McQuarrie and the storyboards and conceptual designs.  A technique I later put to excellent use as a designer as a project manager for the marketing departments of some of the world's leading technology companies.  What is a film director but the manager of a highly complicated project?  One of the many legacies that /Star Wars gave to us is the grand musical scores by Academy Award Winner, composer and conductor, John Williams.  From the opening theme of all the Star Wars pictures, to the haunting melodies that serve as the themes for each of the characters, Williams weaves a musical tale that almost rivals the film itself.

The many mythological comparisons that writers like Mary Henderson, in her book "Star Wars the Magic of Myth," she matches each character with each of the various archetypes from myth, legend.  Drawing chiefly from Joseph Campbell's book, "The Hero with a Thousand Faces," and giving full credit to Campbell, Henderson illustrates concepts such as when Han and Luke running around the Death Star in search of detention block AA23, where Vader is holding Leia, and comparing the scene to Theseus and the Labyrinth of the Minotaur.  Or one can compare Darth Vader as the Dragon guarding over a treasure.  Luke, like Prince Charming, finds and awakens Leia sleeping in her prison cell, like Sleeping Beauty, for example.  Another comparison to the Star Wars plot line is from Lloyd Alexander's 1964 publication of "The Book of Three.'" Lloyd Alexander's "Chronicles of Prydain" series that feature Taran, a young farm boy, orphaned at birth, raised by, and cared for by an old, wise wizard.  After chasing after the farm's prize possession out into the dark forest, an oracular pig, Taran returns to find his farm set on fire by the evil Horned King, his forever covered with a skeletal mask of a human with the antlers of a deer or elk.  Taran, in "The Book of Three," journeys to the center of the land, saves a princess along the way, finds a glowing sword of immense power, and meets archetypal and memorable characters along the way.  Some these characters may remind one of C-3PO, R2-D2, and Han Solo.  Lloyd Alexander is also the author of Disney's 1985 release, '"The Black Cauldron."

With the 33rd anniversary of what the America Film Institute ranks as the second best Science Fiction film ("2001: A Space Odyssey" is the number one) of all time, perhaps it might be time to dust of that Blu-ray, DVD or VHS and re-watch or introduce members of a newer generation to a film


Movie Data
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Year:  1977
Staring:  Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Peter Mayhew, David Prowse, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker
Director: George Lucas
Producer(s): Gary Kurtz
Writer: George Lucas
Rating: PG
Running Time: 121 minutes
Release Date: 5/25/1977

Originally published on Associated Content by Robert Barbere on 5/19/2010 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Infini: Science Fiction Horror Is Back

Infini: Banner | A Constantly Racing Mind

Independent filmmaker, Shane Abbess brings his concept of a science fiction horror to the big screen sometime in 2015.  I really don't like presenting something that has so little information to go on, but the trailer is thrilling, to say the least. 

Quick Synopsis:

A search and rescue team using slipstream technology to transport themselves to mining station Infini, where even space and time itself are a threat. Their mission is to save the lone survivor of a freak accident before quarantining a contaminated payload, a lethal biological weapon, set to arrive back on earth within the hour.



Of some note about casting: Luke Hemsworth, Chris and Liam's older brother stars in this film. As of yet, there is no theatrical release date. But isn't the trailer cool?

Movie Data
Genre: Sci-Fi
Year:  2015
Staring:  Daniel MacPherson, Grace Huang, Luke Hemsworth, Bren Foster, Luke Ford, Dwaine Stevenson,  
Director: Shane Abbess
Producer(s): Sidonie Abbene, Shane Abbess, Matthew Graham, Brett Thornquest
Writer: Shane Abbess, Brian Cachia
Rating: Not Rated Yet
Running Time: Unknown
Release Date: Unknown

Friday, September 5, 2014

A Glimpse of Light

When one who sings towards Heaven's bright light, 
Sees dawn's mist along its lonely wet shore. 
The power wanes over time's dimming sight. 
Heaven looks down on man's sorrowful cries. 


Over the golden twilight's waning door.

Walk past the fading portal as night comes. 
Listen as the choir sings of the day, 
When all will be revealed to all men.
A new world that our Maker has ordained; 
A glimpse of tomorrow do we all see.
Passing back through the gate - locking behind. 
A ghastly figure does one see coming. 
Following back to Mother Earth's dark sea. 
Spreading out across the land like cold wind's roar. 
Settling back now before that final glimpse.
Now with a vision to regale anew. 
Of a noble, lofty, goal to reach for. 
A new chorus to be sung here on Earth. 
To lead the charge of our wild Earthly host. 
Against agents of darkness evil light.

© Robert Barbere

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Automata

Millennium Entertainment released its first trailer for a new film by director Gabe Ibáñez, and starring Antonio Banderas about the future where robots are as common as they are in the "Jetsons."

Robots in cinema have gone back a long time. Maria, the leader of a revolution in Fritz Lang's 1927 silent film, "Metropolis," comes to mind immediately. While other robots are more subservient like Gort from the 1957 Cold War era film about alien invasion, "The Day Stood Still." If you saw the 2008 remake with Keanu Reeves, do yourself a favor and hunt down the original. One of my favorites, was Robbie the Robot, from "Forbidden Planet," starring Walter Pidgeon, the lovely Anne Francis, and Leslie Nielsen.  "Star Trek: the Next Generation" featured Lt. Cmdr. Data, a more sophisticated from of a robot called an android. Of course there is The Robot from TV's "Lost In Space," and the subject of cinematic robots is never complete without R2-D2 and C-3PO from the "Star Wars" universe. Now, back to robots running amok.  First of all, one should note were the word robot comes from. It is a Czech word that means forced or serf laborer. "Automata" plays on humanity's fears of an uprising that have been depicted in films like Will Smith's "I Robot," based on Isaac Asimov's science fiction bestseller of the same name. Going back to the 1980's James Cameron foresaw a world where humans created an Artificial Intelligence called Skynet that went rogue and started terminating humans. Then there are the Cylon's from Battlestar Galactica, whose rebellion eventually was so complete they destroyed humanity's home worlds I know I am missing other famous robots of cinematic history but that would be a whole article in itself. 

So, here is the synopsis:
Fast forward fifty years into the future, planet earth is in the midst of gradual desertification. Mankind struggles to survive as the environment deteriorates and the slow regression of the human race begins in AUTÓMATA. On the brink of life and the reality of death, technology combats the prevailing uncertainty and fear with the creation of the first quantum android, the Automata Pilgrim 7000. Designed to bring support to society's plight, man and robot reveal what it means to co-exist in a culture defined by human nature. 
The descent of civilization is juxtaposed by the rise of ROC, the corporation at the helm of robotic intelligence. Despite the demise of humanity, the company has set forth security protocols to ensure mankind always maintains control over the manufactured population. As ROC insurance agent, Jacq Vaucan (Antonio Banderas) routinely investigates cases and complaints surrounding defective androids, he begins to uncover the secrets behind who is really manipulating the Automata Pilgrim 7000. Jacq's own suspicions propel the mystery— uncovering a truth that is far more complex than the make or model of any machine.
Some things that Sci-Fi fans will notice that, like Asimov's "Three Laws of Robotics," there are a set of protocols programmed into the robots for the human's safety.  However, "Automata" takes it one step further adding  that a robot cannot alter itself or others to the list.

Millennium's site goes on to to proclaim:
"Writer/Director Gabe Ibáñez was driven to tell a story that blurs the lines between science fiction and reality. Ibáñez gives audiences a compelling look into the theory of evolution and what life might be like for mankind in the not too distant future. With powerful performances from a cast including Antonio Banderas, Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, Melanie Griffith, Dylan McDermott and Robert Forster, AUTÓMATA is a sci-fi film noir that explores the potential dangers and complexities when mind and machine merge."
It's been a while since we've seen Melanie Griffith in something substantial in a while. For the last several years she has been popping up on TV shows here and there.  Antonio Bandereas was seen recently in the under performing "The Expendables 3," and was in the bad Robert Rodriguez sexploitation film "Machete Kills" starring Danny Trejo.

The concept is impressive and the photography based on the trailer reminds me of "Mad Max," or of the Matt Damon & Neill Blomkamp film, "Elysium."

"Automata" is due out in limited release on October 10, 2014 in the United States.

Movie Data
Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller
Year:  2014
Staring:  Antonio Banderas, Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, Melanie Griffith, Dylan McDermott, Robert Forster 
Director: Gabe Ibáñez
Producer(s): Antonio Banderas, Sandra Hermida, Danny Lerner, Les Weldon
Writer: Gabe Ibáñez, Igor Legarreta, Javier Sánchez Donate
Rating: R
Running Time: Unknown
Release Date: 10/10/2014