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My Day With ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’

My Day With ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’

I am not an actor but a musician. For most of my life I’ve lived in various small towns in Northern California. It goes without saying that throughout most of my life I’ve had limited exposure to the Hollywood film industry. I’ve never officially been an extra on a movie but I have been filmed for a DVD special on a major Hollywood movie.
During my college years I would visit my uncle Jeff who works as a musician in the film industry. Most of Jeff’s income comes from recording movie soundtracks at Universal Studios in Hollywood. Since I was a music major in college I would often assist him on his recording jobs during the summer months. My duties would include turning pages during the recording and, most importantly, helping him set up his large percussion instruments. Surprisingly the musicians and the directors of the studio never seemed to mind that I was working there in an unofficial capacity; in fact, the studio directors often gave me a tour or let me play the studio’s instruments at will.

I vividly remember the last time I helped Jeff. Generally it was no different than the other recording sessions I had assisted with. The particular movie we were working on was “The Day the Earth Stood Still” starring Keanu Reeves. Although I’ve never been the star struck type, I admit it was exiting to see Keanu Reeves come into the recording studio and talk with director Scott Derrickson.

Those who are closely involved in the film industry know recording the soundtrack is one of the last parts of the production. All the filming had already been shot long before. The recording process is long and tedious even though there’s much pressure to get the score recorded as quickly as possible. Like actors, musicians working in the film industry often must perform a musical passage many times before they get it right. One of the musicians close to where I was working would jokingly refer to the many takes as “the day the recording session stood still,” or something to that effect.

As the recording session was wrapping up I noticed a cameraman walking around interviewing the conductor and the different instrumentalists in the orchestra. I overheard one of the instrumentalists say it was for a documentary that may be included in the DVD extras. Secretly I was hoping the cameraman wouldn’t come over to me or my uncle. I really didn’t want to be on camera and have to explain I’m just here primarily for educational purposes.

Unfortunately the cameraman did come over to the percussion section where I was. He didn’t want to interview my uncle or myself; instead he asked us to play for about a minute to use as a montage. I became increasingly nervous because, unlike my uncle, I was not a percussionist. (I’m a pianist which is technically a percussion instrument.) The marimba, which was close by, was the only instrument that I could play a recognizable melody on. I poorly sight read the music left on the music stand while being filmed.

A couple of months later I my uncle and I watched the footage of the rehearsal. When I got to my scene in the extras I noticed the music was different than the music I played that day. Of course I didn’t remember exactly what I played but I knew I was overdubbed because I couldn’t play the marimba that well. At the time I was glad to be saved from an embarrassing moment but I now I often wish my actual playing would have been recorded. It would have made a more interesting story.

Comedy Movies to Win the Academy Award for Best Picture Since the 1970s

Comedy Movies to Win the Academy Award for Best Picture Since the 1970s

Comedy movies to take home the Oscar for Best Picture from the establishment of the awards to the early 1970s were for the most part categorized in that particular genre with less room for dispute and disagreement than comedies honored since the late 1970s. Winners of the top prize at the Academy Awards ceremony included a screwball comedy, an adaptation of Broadway comedy hit and a bawdy sexual romp as well as two movies that are less unanimously viewed as comedies. The outlook for Oscar gold for comedy changed forever in 1972.

The Sting

“The Sting” is another Oscar winner where the categorization as comedy is disputable. Humor does permeate the film, but one could equally argue against that generic categorization based on the underlying dramatic thrust of the narrative. The accurate classification of “The Sting” is to honor it as the turning point for the bulk of future comic films to take home the Best Picture Oscar. “The Sting” much more accurately reflects the comfortable hybrid of comedy and drama that describes all but one of those films considered to be members of that exclusive club of comedies to win Best Picture since it grasped victory from the mouths of a dark Ingmar Bergman drama, a demon possessed little girl and 1960s cruisers.

Annie Hall

“Annie Hall” is the last film to win Best Picture at the Oscars that is undeniably a comedy in every way. Woody Allen’s career up to “Annie Hall” had been marked by loosely constructed, episodic comedies that required studied analysis to peer beneath the surface humor for any content weighty enough to be considered for an Academy Award. “Annie Hall” single-handedly represents Woody Allen’s transition from a career that might have been viewed with all the respect of Jerry Lewis’ directorial career into the respected artist worthy of academic analysis that he became. “Annie Hall” is also the last time the Academy considered an outright comedy worthy of honoring.

Terms of Endearment

“Terms of Endearment” is often included in lists of comedies to win Best Picture, but it may be the most arguable choice of them all. After all, most dramatic movies that have won Oscar’s big prize don’t contain as intensely dramatic a climax as this movie more appropriately categorized as a tearjerker.

Driving Miss Daisy

If you want to view “Driving Miss Daisy” as a comedy, then it belongs to that list of comedies wrongly recognized by the Academy. Whether comedy or drama or another tearjerker, it should never have beaten out “Do the Right Thing” which isn’t only more dramatic, but also funnier. Humor exists within the storyline of this tepid movie, but some segments of the audience may find it far less amusing than others.

Forrest Gump

The comedy to be found in “Forrest Gump” is mostly the result of Tom Hanks’ performance that actually deserved to be honored with an Oscar. While there is some tragedy toward the end, one would have to agree that “Forrest Gump” is probably the closest to an outright comedy to win Best Picture since “Annie Hall.”

Shakespeare in Love

The broadening of the generic qualification for comedy continued unabated when “Shakespeare in Love” was added to the exclusive club of comedy movies to take home Best Picture. Yes, okay, I will agree: Geoffrey Rush is hilarious every time he appears and this is the performance he should have won an Oscar for.

American Beauty

The comedy genre has come a long way since Clark Gable chased after a runaway heiress during the Great Depression. The line between comedy and tragedy used to be clearly drawn in the sand. The fact that “American Beauty” is usually placed alongside “Annie Hall” as one of the comedy movies to win Best Picture is a clear indication that the line has forever been erased.

For more from Timothy Sexton, check out:

Comedy Movies to Win Best Picture from the 1930s through the 1960s

Movie Review of “Apollo 18”

Movie Review of “Apollo 18”

My wife and I have been ordering a lot of romantic movies lately through Netflix and, even though I wasn’t necessarily getting bored with that genre, I decided to mix things up a bit by moving some horror films to the top of our list and, yesterday, we received the movie “Apollo 18.” You can find that movie on 123Movies 2020 site. Link – https://www3.123movies.gdn/.

When I first saw the previews to this movie, I thought it looked interesting. I love conspiracy theories (even though I don’t believe most of them) and the idea that there was a secret Apollo mission in the 1970s that discovered alien life on the moon was definitely something that caught my attention. Unfortunately, when I watched this movie last night, I have to say I was kind of disappointed by it.

Overall, I do still think the plot was a good one, mostly because it is something that, if you believe in the possibility of alien life, isn’t completely unbelievable. I also thought the acting in the movie was OK.

Image result for Apollo 18

My problem with this film is the execution. Rather than being a bit more traditional, the movie follows the same path as films like Cloverfield and Quarantine , telling the story from random fixed cameras that were monitoring the astronaut’s activities (given the impression this was classified government footage of an actual event).

The problem with that is it hides too much of the action and, as a result, the movie just isn’t as scary as it should be. Not to mention, in order to make the film realistic, the viewer has to suffer through “footage” of boring conversations and activities (such as the astronauts sleeping or eating).

In fact, my wife and I almost turned this film off after the first 15 minutes and, even though we did keep watching, we honestly didn’t see any reason why turning it off would have been a bad idea, especially since she ended up being bored to the point she fell asleep on the couch.

Image result for Apollo 18

As I said before, the plot could have made this a good movie. But, because of the execution, I just don’t think this was a film that was worth watching.

My Grade: 2 stars out of a possible 5.

Star Wars: Through the Eyes of a Noob

Star Wars: Through the Eyes of a Noob

When you hear of a ‘movie buff’, what do you think of? You’ll probably think that person has seen all of the classics. While this can be true, it isn’t for me. I am a movie buff, but I just saw the Star Wars movies for the first time this past month. Let’s have a little background:

There’s no doubt that I like movies. My movie collection is tucked away nicely in the corner of the room. Scores of DVDs and VHS movies line the shelves of my hand made movie cases. On one wall is the very wide and tall VHS shelf, sporting around three hundred of the fat and now out-dated film medium. On the adjacent wall, a thinner, but equally tall shelf now overflows to the ground in front of it with over two hundred DVDs. Yeah, I guess you could say I like movies. I try to buy the most special edition versions I can, and display those special boxed sets on a check mark shelf I bought at Ikea.

Still, I hadn’t seen Star Wars. Not even a minute of it. Sure, I knew a lot about the story. People just expect you to have seen it, so they let all manner of plot points slip during dinner or social gatherings. Thanks, pals! Now I know who Luke Skywalker’s dad is!

I had opportunities to see the original Star Wars trilogy, but those plans never came to fruition. My brother, who happened to be a very big, action figure collecting fan of the movies always talked about us watching the original trilogy together. It never happened.

What got me to finally watch them? Netflix, and a little coaxing from my boyfriend. I always planned on watching the movies; I just needed a little push. So in the past month, we rented, through Netflix, all the Star Wars movies in order of release date. That means we watched episodes 4, 5, and 6 of Star Wars first.

Having finally seen these movies, and with the fresh eyes of a movie buff, I have compiled a list of thoughts on the movies. Warning! There will be spoilers in the remaining half of this article. If you haven’t seen any of the Star Wars movies, stop reading, and go rent them.

When I say something like ‘first three movies,’ I’m referring to episodes 4-6. Confusing, I know.

Anakin Skywalker versus Luke Skywalker

While watching the first three movies, it seemed like the series was all about Luke Skywalker. Then, when watching the last three you realize, no, Star Wars is about Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. When I realized this and looked back on episode six when Darth Vader dies, it all seemed so unimportant to me. I figure that the real star of the movies should have a much more spectacular and monumental death than he did. This leads me to question when George Lucas even knew where the story started and what it would become when he began production on the movies.

Jake Lloyd versus Hayden Christiensen

Before I watched the movies I heard a lot about how the actor who played Anakin in episode one was such so horrible. When I actually watched that movie, I couldn’t disagree more. Maybe I was expecting something horrible because of how much everyone complained, but I though Jake Lloyd did a great job. He was animated and acted just like a kid would in those circumstances. Now Hayden Christensen, who played the same character in episodes two and three, did a horrible job in comparison. Why don’t people complain about him? His parts were horribly annoying, especially in episode two when he was practically melting in front of Padme Amidala all the time.

The love of Padme and Anakin

The most annoying and unrealistic thing about any of the movies was the romance between Padme and Anakin. It was so hard to watch their scenes together. In episode two, Anakin acts like a love-sick teenager (which he may well be, but it doesn’t make it any less annoying). It seems unlikely that the sophisticated Padme would every fall for his cheesy lines. Then in episode three, once they’re married, it just never seemed realistic to me. They really didn’t work. Natalie Portman as Padme did a great job, but her romance wasn’t good.

The love of Han and Leia

It seems that George Lucas just isn’t good at writing romance. The love between Han and Leia always seemed unlikely, although it was better than Anakin and Padme’s. I totally get the whole love-hate thing; they just needed to show more of the love. I ended up thinking, ‘umm, why do they like each other again?’

The very awesome Yoda

I realized toward the end of this series how great Yoda is. It’s funny because throughout the movies you hear people talking about how they think they’re better than him (Anakin, for example), but they never are. It’s easy underestimate little Yoda, but when you get to see him in action, you realize the folly of your ways. Yoda’s fight with Chancellor Palpatine in episode three was one of the best.

My boyfriends

Okay, I’m going to turn into a giddy twenty-something girl for just a second and gush over the cute guys. I figure it’s okay because of how extensively men talk about bikinied Laia. I may be weird, but I didn’t have a thing for Han Solo, it was all about Luke Skywalker. He was so innocent and cute! Also, young Obi-Wan Kenobi, played by Ewan McGregor, is very attractive. He can use his light saber on me any day.

Overdone animation

I have a background in 3D modeling and animation, so this is something that I actually have a professional opinion on. They used 3D models way too much in the last three movies. They completely modeled the clones, when they could have just created a few real costumes and duplicated them. I think it’s very wasteful and silly to model things that you can easily and cheaply do with real material. They did a great job with yoda, but they didn’t need to model half the stuff they did. They even modeled a sand dune in episode two! Couldn’t they just go find a real sand dune?

Overall opinion

You know, I liked these movies. I especially liked episodes one, five, and six. My least favorite was episode two, largely because of the painfully annoying love scenes between Anakin and Padme. Would I watch them again? Yes. Heck, the Star Wars movies might even join the other movies of legacy on my check mark Ikea shelf.

After finally seeing the Star Wars movies, I feel a little more complete. Now I don’t have to endure the shocked faces of people when I reveal that I hadn’t seen them. Now I’m just like everyone else! I just need to see the Godfather movies and I’ll finally be whole.

Movie Review: Good Morning Baby

Fortunately this movie has two things going for it: it’s only about 13 minutes long and it’s free. Other than that, the movie isn’t all that great.

The directing and cinematography were poor – what was with the scene filmed through the chain link fence? The shots were all from standard angles, made absolutely no use of light – excepting one scene in a park – and should have in fact added meaning to the story, but instead did nothing other than fill space. As an observer, I felt that no one was in control of the film, not even the main character of Gabrielle. And although I am not a film director myself, I do believe that this is the job of the director.

And what were those images supposed to mean? It would seem that the director, Lisa Leone – who also co-wrote the uninspired script – has never read a book or even watched a tv show or other movie in her life. The images – which were probably meant to be symbols – were a plastic bag blowing in the wind with the words “I ♥ New York” on it; a snow globe with the same slogan printed on it’s interior, a couple dancing on a street corner; a middle-aged man playing the trumpet to the sun setting on New York; a little girl dressed as an angel running through the park; and a white pants suit. You might add that Gabrielle had been wearing a flowered dress earlier in the film but in the final scene was wearing all white.

These may have been meant to symbolize innocence and loving the city of New York and so on and so forth, but they all just said how poorly thought out the movie was. It could have been raining when Gabrielle’s fiancée broke up with here, but the sun came out of the clouds when she met this new man. (I know that’s pretty trite imagery, but it’s a more evocative than that employed in this movie).

I apologize to the director now, though. This review is simply my opinion. Now if this were a movie that would be shown on the Lifetime cable channel or maybe during some Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation then this is a wonderful work.

I think the simplest thing for me to say from here is that there is a time and a place for everything. And the best time and place for this movie is late at night, while you’re watching tv, wearing flannel pajamas and big fuzzy slippers, with a tub of ice cream in your lap.

Review of the Movie “The Break Up”

Review of the Movie “The Break Up”

The other night, when I finished up for Christmas Eve, I decided to rent a movie on pay-per-view. I choose to watch “The Break Up’ with Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston. First let me describe the movie. Jennifer Aniston’s character started to feel unappreciated by her mate, Vince Vaughn’s character. And so they break up. But instead of one of them moving out of their expensive condo, they decide to wait it out to see if the other would move out. So then they end up doing awful stuff to each other so that the other would move out. But really in the end, they both really still loved each other and couldn’t get over the break up.

So, I settled down in my chair and for about the next hour and a half (which actually seemed more like a lifetime) and waited patiently through the this movie. When it ended I felt like I had just wasted the last hour and a half. I didn’t find it very funny at all. I thought with Vince Vaughn starring that it would be hilarious to watch but it wasn’t. There seemed to be so much anger in the movie that it was more painful to watch.

The side characters did add something to the movie though. The characters of Johnny O (played by Jon Favreau) and Lupus Godowsky (played by Cole Hauser) were probably the best ones, I thought. Those were the two that really stood out for me. I didn’t think Vincent D’Onofrio’s character was all that great either. I think he probably should have stayed with Law and Order.

I guess the thing I couldn’t get over that instead of going around acting childish, why didn’t one of them just move out and save themselves the pain. I just wasn’t able to get real into the movie. There was just something about it that I couldn’t really get over. I was really expecting a comedy but it seemed to end more as a drama. The only really funny parts I found was the out takes at the end and some with Vaughn doing his rantings. I always thought he was best when he went on a rant that lasted for minutes that never really end up anywhere. And I didn’t think this was Aniston’s best performance. I mean she does pretty well as the serious balancing act to Vaughn’s comedy. But I think her performance in “She’s The One” a few years ago, was her better movie. Really in the end, Aniston and Vaughn seem like they were a good match up and had good chemistry but I don’t think this movie really showed that too well. The movie just seemed more angry than funny.

The Host Movie Review

The Host Movie Review

The hype surrounding “The Host” was strong. As I said in my Descent review, I fear hype, it scares me. As I began watching “The Host” I crossed my fingers and was hoping it wasn’t an over hyped piece of crap. Well my fears of hype ruining the film quickly washed away, cause “The Host” is exactly the kind of film I wanted to see.

This is the best damn monster movie I’ve seen in years. But the movie’s strongest area isn’t its slick looking monster but its heart and soul. The Park family are so likable and believable that you them to succeed in their mission. You watch minute after minute as these people do what they to do to find a loved one and you’re glued to the screen hoping for the best. I was emotionally attached to these characters and when one of them dies, I felt it. The main reason to watch this movie for these characters. They turn what could have been a mindless monster movie into something with some heart and soul.

The acting from the entire Park family is superb. Any lesser actors would have ruined the movie.

The directing from Joon-Ho Bong is great. The angles, camera movements, all fluid and truly done by a professional.

The music is effective and memorable enough.

The monster in the film is fantastic looking. It’s all done in CGI, but don’t let that scare you because it’s the best damn CGI I have seen in awhile. The CGI makes the monster look and seem believable with its design, movements and actions. In some sense, it blew me away.

If you’re looking for a lot of gore, look elsewhere. There’s some light blood and gnarly bodies but that’s it. The movie didn’t need gore.

Any negatives? A few minutes here and there could have been trimmed to make the movie tighter. There’s also an emotional scenes towards the beginning that goes a little too over the top, I know you’re upset over what’s happened but calm down a little!

At first I was disappointed with the ending but thinking about it, it was the perfect way to the end the movie.

Looking for a monster movie with some heart and soul? See “The Host”. Ignore the hype and just find a copy as soon as you can. It’s worth it.

9/10

Borat: A Comedy Based on an Umcomfortable Parody of Jewish People

Borat: A Comedy Based on an Umcomfortable Parody of Jewish People

Hello. My name-a-Borat. Yeshgemish. Or something like that. Borat was the surprise runaway hit movie of the fall. Due, in no small part, to the clever grass roots marketing of English born and Cambridge educated Sacha Baron Cohen. Borat: the Cultural Learnings of America Make for Glorious Benefit of Nation of Kazahkstan is a whirlwind of a movie.

It chronicles Borat (Cohen), a journalist from Kazahkstan, and his fat cohort’s adventures in the United States as a kind of bawdy cultural exchange program. In the process, Borat finds his love, Baywatch babe Pamela Anderson, and he must find her in his newly purchased ice-cream truck.

Cross country trip, here he comes. But for all of the the fun and tomfoolery along the way, Cohen has been taken by a lot of people as a clever social satirist, as one who turns social and cultural conventions inside out in order to reveal the true character of a people and a nation at war.

After all, Mr. Cohen is himself a Jew, and a highly educated one at that. Surely someone of his refinement would never portray Jews as cockroaches or sing a song about throwing a Jew down a well just for the laughs? Would he? I mean c’mon. The Jews are hairy monsters, with long claws and should be target shooting practice shouldn’t they? Or should they? The fact of the matter is, no one knows what Mr. Cohen’s intentions are, or if he had any at all, other than presenting a movie to the going audience, a rather disturbing one. They simply assume an English gentleman would never stoop so low as to denigrate his own kind.

But this begs the question, if someone really wanted to parody and humiliate his own kind, would he go such depths? Why would someone portray humiliation in such a way to make us laugh? Are we simply to laugh uncomfortably and suddenly realize what wrong, we the audience, have done? There are enough Nazi movies out there to make any man puke at anti Semitism. Making an extreme comedy seems a bit much.

Then again we could be laughing about Borat for all of his backward behavior. He is the stupid one, making fun of the Jews. If so, is Mr. Cohen trying to vindicate the Jews and making Kazhakstanis look foolish?

Then there are the stupid Americans. According to the movie, Americans are a bunch of self-serving, hypocrites who overcomplicate things and can’t enjoy the simple things in life. Are we suppose to hate us?

It’s a bit confusing given that all of the humor in the movie is offensive on every level and aimed at everyone. Are we to feel uncomfortable at every scene or just some of them? Or does it really matter? After all, it is Mr. Cohen who is laughing all the way to the bank. Dirty Jew.