Monday, July 29, 2013

One Minute Scare

Too often, I experience student frustration over the limitation to tell a complete story in ten minutes or less. The struggle is to consolidate ideas. Novice writers find the task so daunting they ignore advice from their peers and suffer in production. This short by Jason Eisner takes advantage of constraints. In 60 seconds, he uses three act structure and effective genre tactics to create an interesting film. Check it out and be inspired!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

'Fruitvale Station' Review - ★★★★

Oscar Grant was shot and killed by a police officer on the train platform of Fruitvale Station in Oakland, California on New Year's Day of 2009. He was a father, son, boyfriend, ex-convict, drug dealer, and a man of color. Fruitvale Station is an account of the last 24 hours of this man's life.

      27 year old writer/director Ryan Coogler makes his debut film about something he knows very closely. He and Oscar were both the same age and grew up in the Bay Area, under similar conditions. A critic or two have made claim that Coogler has taken this real life victim and painted a falsely positive picture of him. They do not understand that Oscar is not being glorified, gut he's being taken out of his post-death public persona and placed into a relatable reality. Coogler did his best to tell this story accurately through research of Oscar's cellphone messages and personal testimonies from people who were with him on his last day.

       The little things in Oscar's day, like reluctantly stopping for gas, make us relate to him, but nothing compares to the realism of actor Michael B. Jordan's portrayal of our protagonist. He can be the stubborn but loving son, the untrustworthy boyfriend, the playful father, and the terrifying thug all within a moments notice. His depth does not allow Oscar to be bound by any one label or stereotype. The film is a testament to the problems with that result from stereotyping.

       Yes, a policeman was the one to pull the trigger on Oscar, but the preconceived notion that a young colored man in an all black baggy t-shirt is dangerous, that is what killed him. Oscar was not perfect, no one is arguing that. He had made bad decisions and had had moments of true terrorization in his life, but those moments should not define his life. We all make mistakes, ones that can hurt the people around us. What we see in Fruitvale Station is a man trying his best to do the right thing. You can't ask for more than that. ★★★★

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Summer Studios

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

'Much Ado About Nothing' Review - ★★★☆

Joss Whedon takes a step outside of the Marvel's the Avengers spotlight for a moment to adapt Shakespeare’s comedy Much Ado About Nothing. The cast – comprised of Whedon regulars from shows Dollhouse and Firefly and films Cabin in the Woods and The Avengers – gives witty, cute, and passionate performances in a Shakespearean tongue that is spoken so quickly that, at times, it can be hard to translate.

      This comedy leans heavily on Benedick (Alexis Denisof), a man who vows never to marry, and Dogberry (Nathan Fillion), a slightly dimwitted constable of the Watch and “an ass,” who both light up the screen. The inevitable drama of Shakespearean writing is depicted through Claudio (Fran Kranz), who, love-stricken and gullible, shames his love, Hero (Jillian Morgese), in the belief that she has been unfaithful. Kranz is sweet and provoking as an ignorant romantic.

      Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing is all you could ask for in a modernized Shakespearean adaptation. The setting, wardrobe, and American accents are what separate this film from Shakespeare’s original creation, but none of which take away from the story’s comic splendor. The Bard would be proud. ★★★☆