Thursday, October 01, 2009

Ad Revivalism: You're No Jane Rivers!

I say "Yes" to advertisement nostalgia. It really strikes my TV addled brain when I get a taste of an old ad that I saw a thousand times as a kid. Especially in Canada, where they used to play the same commercials endlessly.

I saw this formerly ubiquitous coffee crisp commercial being replayed the other day. Now I might not get so many blank stares when I accuse someone, "you don't know from jokes!"

Now all they have to do is bring back this infamous Oil of Olay "Ms Fitzhenry?!" ad:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Log Driver VS Iran's President-Select

An ode to Canada's Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon for walking out on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's UN speech yesterday:

"These nuclear materials we are seeking to purchase are for medicinal purposes... It is a humanitarian issue..."

Friday, August 14, 2009

Voice Swapping in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

Leading up to the release of the new G.I. Joe movie, I had a sinking feeling that something was awry with Cobra Commander.

In all the movie's promotional materials, the only reference to Joseph Gordon-Levitt's portrayal of the character was snuck into the background of a single poster. Even the film's trailers didn't tease us with any glimpses of Cobra's evil leader.

At first I thought they might be keeping him hidden for a big dramatic reveal. But thinking back to Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight as a counter-example, why would producers who are desperate to build buzz and sell a movie keep something cool under wraps...? Well, because that something actually sucks.

Then a rumor emerged that director Stephen Sommers was fired from the film during post-production. That has since been denied, but either way, it speaks to problems on the set/in the lab.

Now having seen the film, my suspicions were confirmed when Gordon-Levitt's Cobra Commander was strangely absent for most of the film and didn't sound at all like the actor to boot.

It seems the filmmakers (whoever they were) swapped out his vocal performance for an anonymous and uncredited voice actor.

And unlike David Prowse's voice being replaced by James Earl Jones in the Star Wars films, this swap seems to have been unplanned. Consider these comments from Gordon-Levitt before the film wrapped:
"I love that voice [from the cartoon]," enthused Gordon-Levitt. "Chris Latta [the original Cobra Commander] is a fantastic voiceover artist, but if you did that exact voice it would sound ridiculous in a live-action movie. I guess it's half Chris Latta and half me."
Turns out the his half-and-half vocal take didn't impress. Because if this isn't another actor, then there's some serious auto-tuning going on:

I'm not even going to get into the flawed character design of Cobra Commander's mask/helmet, but that disembodied voice really got to me. And further fueling my conspiracy theory, Gordon-Levitt has been conspicuously absent from the films promo interviews and premieres.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Interpol Checks into the Waverly

Interpol's Paul Banks has a new solo album out under the name Julian Plenty (Is... Skyscraper).

The first video from the album features two Toronto musicians - Emily Haines (of Metric) and Andre Ethier (of the Deadly Snakes) - in a very Toronto locale - the Hotel Waverly.

This isn't the first time this seedy hotel has played a seedy hotel on film. It was home to Mickey Rourke's Indian hitman in the unfortunate flop Killshot and it's also been the set for music videos from the likes of K-Os and Buck 65.

Buck 65's "Devil's Eyes" clip is especially notable for Toronto-centric cameos from Nick Flanagan (of the Brutal Knights) and Dan Burke (show promoter for Waverly's neighbour, the Silver Dollar).

Which video do you like better?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Yeasayer - Tightrope, Live

Happy news for Yeasayer fans: According to their recording blog, the band is approaching completion of their second full length.

A fall tour is also to be announced soon. Stay tuned.

You can find this song on the Dark Was the Night compilation.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Don't Age in Japan

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Commercial Rock Juggernauts

Back in 2001, when the White Stripes released their breakthrough album White Blood Cells, it wasn't long before the floodgates opened to the mainstream with other like-minded rock revivalists.

One of which was Andrew W.K. and his punchy I Get Wet album. But besides a common penchant for blues based no-bullshit rock (and fantastic red-splashed cover art), Jack White and Andrew Wilkes-Krier also share a serious streak for self-promotion.

To wit, both of these guys have composed a commercial jingle for a famous red&white themed snack. Which do you prefer?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Yo Gabba Gabba!

You guys hip to this show?

Biz Markie is:

And so is Phoenix Suns Bball monsta Amare Stoudemire:

The show is so popular, the film rights have already been sold.

Other people/musicians featured on the show include: Jack Black, Tony Hawk, Of Montreal, The Shins, and Rahzel.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Fan Trailers!

Here are a couple examples of some homespun genius:

Thundercats Fake Movie Trailer:

Green Lantern Fake Movie Trailer:

Definitely a welcome evolution from fan fiction.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Elmore Leonard's Rules of Writing

Read the expanded rules over at NYTimes or buy the book of rules here.

My favourite rule:

4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb ''said'' . . .

. . . he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost any way) is a mortal sin. The writer is now exposing himself in earnest, using a word that distracts and can interrupt the rhythm of the exchange. I have a character in one of my books tell how she used to write historical romances ''full of rape and adverbs.''

This sprung to mind since Leonard's currently promoting his new book Road Dogs.

During one interview (with Charlie Rose), he said that a while back he was offered to write a review on a new Tom Clancy military spy book, but passed. "I don't read books that are more than 300 pages."

A man after my own heart (and attention span).

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Worst Movie Poster Ever?

Bad in so many ways. None of them good.

But Superman III shouldn't worry, I'm sure that in this new rash of comic book movies, there will come a movie/poster so bad that it'll make Chris Reeve and Richard Pryor's love-in look like a Saul Bass.

Or is the corporate/marketing machinery so anesthetizing that something like this could never slip through again?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Best Song Ever of the Week: Grizzly Bear

Psychedelindie band Grizzly Bear release their new album Veckatimest tomorrow.

I can't see how they'll top the first single, "Two Weeks" [mp3], but it will at least be worth a listen thanks to this charmed piece of pop.

They even debuted the song on Letterman months ago. I guess they knew it was good straight off.

Here's the brand new video for it:
Two Weeks

Definitely ranks up their with the hit off their last album, "The Knife". Girl Talk's remix of that song is also stellar.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pour Some Sugar

This movie is awesome. Go see it.

It somehow avoids formula and stereotypes but is never anything but natural and subtle. Perfect film for Spring.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Koko to the Infirmary! Cab Calloway VS White Stripes


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Rock Scars Live! Harlem Shakes VS Constantines


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

People as Animals / Animals as People

LinkI remember the times when people were people and animals were animals... here's a reminder.

Photos Via Planet Tampon.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

A Productive Waste of Time

This one's for those with that insatiable thirst for knowledge. For the heroes who are sick of drowning in a sea of information and tidbits and want some thick, dense, and viscous, honest-to-god knowledge!

Academic Earth.

A user-friendly website that hosts video of 60 full academic courses and and a few one-off lectures from Yale, MIT, Harvard, Stanford, UC Berkeley, and Princeton. That's over 1300 hrs of mind climbing. The subjects range from "Death" to "The American Novel Since 1945" to "The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in an American Century".

Here's a lecture entitled "Somebody (Everybody?) Goofed: Origins of the Financial Mess" from Princeton's Alan S. Blinder.

Fora.TV and BigThink are also sites to look into if you've got some time on your hands.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Nothing is as it seemed...

Hopefully you are secure enough in your adulthood that you'll allow me to drop a bomb on your childhood.

Remember Super Mario Bros 2 for NES? Well then, surely you'll fondly remember throwing turnips at snakes jumping out of ancient urns. On the flip side, you'll probably remember how freaking weird that was... turnips?! The game definitely stretched plumber tropes way beyond your puny 1988 imagination.

Here's why... Mario Bros 2 is really Doki Doki Panic! Check it out:

Friday, March 27, 2009

Trailer Park: Where the Wild Things Are

Just in case you haven't watched this yet, watch it. [high quality or YouTube].

It's nice to have a movie on the horizon to get excited about. October 16 2009 - circle your calendars.

Apparently it's been in different stages of filming since 2006 and was originally supposed to come out in May 2008. Leading up to that Maurice Sendak personally approached Spike Jonze to direct before sometime before 2000.

Another interesting rumor is that co-screenwriter Dave Eggers is also writing a novel[ization] that will accompany the release of the film.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Perfunctory Movie Review: One Week

I'll begin by stating that Michael McGowan's Canadian road trip flick (starring Joshua Jackson) is hardly a movie at all. Un-cinematic to the point of stasis, One Week is more of a slide show put to music. A slide show put to music, narrated by a self-centered bore.

Not to imply that there's any inherent crime with that. I once put on a slide show with my friend of my trip through Tunisia. It was set to Destroyer. The thing is, it lasted all of 8minutes and we didn't charge admission.

Another key distinguishing characteristic of McGowan's slideshow is its ridiculous surfeit of overstretched patriotic/nationalistic images and stereotypes. I'm all for localization - the denial of which is typical of too many Canadian films - but this film takes it overboard. Seriously, we can do better than the Stanley Cup, cottage docks, and lovable Newfies.

To be fair, the film is cut and shot very nicely. And there are a couple cool enough musical cameos to grab your attention intermittently - Emm Gryner sings the timeless Un Canadien Errant (made famous by Leondard Cohen amongst others) and Joel Plaskett does a pretty rad version of his own A Million Dollars.

And if you haven't seen this advertisement yet, I think One Week has to be the first movie that sold the movie using pull-quotes from Twitter users.

That's definitely better than making up a fake reviewer, and it probably rates higher in my book than quoting hackneyed local affiliate critics or Larry King.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Let The Right Subtitles In!

Ever watch a subtitled movie on DVD that you already saw in the theater and find it a bit of a different experience?

Well, it's not just the absence of a sticky floor. It is not uncommon that the subtitle track is considerably different from the one on the film print. I don't know why this happens, but it happens often and it can really diminish the subtlety and complexity of a movie's dialogue (I won't even get into the fact of the unreliability of translation in the 1st place).

To this effect, Icons of Fright have compared the subtitles of the Swedish vampire-romance film Let The Right One In. And seems the subtitles have suffered a substantial simplification from theater to home video. Check out the evidence of the crime here.

Both AVClub and Rotten Tomatoes are carrying this story and it just goes to show that thanks to the Internet, it's getting harder to get away these kind of cross-cultural mistakes/omissions/distortions/transgressions in film. Thanks be to the web. Now hopefully the DVD distributor retracts and corrects - something that would never have happened 10 years ago.

UPDATE!! Looks like the DVD distributor is going to reissue with the film with the original subtitles. Victory!

Happy Birthday Gloria Steinem

Read her very long wiki page.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Pontypool Changes Everything

See this movie:

Probably the most surprisingly intelligent thriller I've seen in ages. Now I'm pumped to read the book it's adapted from.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Periodic Table of Fonts

Use it. Memorize it. Save it to your desktop. [click to enlarge]

What?! No Curlz? No Bradley Hand? No Papyrus? Yes. Use those and you shall be hunted down by the font police.

Table brought to you by Squidspot. Post brought to you by instantfundas. Blog brought to you by Garamond [G6].

Monday, March 09, 2009

Saturday Morning Watchmen

Can't bring yourself to watch nearly 3 hours of angst-ridden super heroes?

Miss the days of happy-go-lucky men in tights?

This one's for you. Watch out!

Instant Coffee/Everlasting Love

Remember the Gold Blend couple?

Featured in a series of commercials from 1987 to 1992 for Nescafé (or Taster's Choice in N. America), the couple was caught in a cat and mouse game of instant coffee drinking and upper-class romantic liaisons.

Over-the-top and truly hilarious, check out a compilation of all the ads:

If you want more, you can always track down a copy of the novelization, Love Over Gold, the 1993 literary adaptation/extrapolation of the couple's exploits. Yes! It exists and you can get it for a penny over at Amazon.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Watchmen Continues a Legacy of Leather

Watchmen debuts in theaters today, and it seems everybody is talking about how slavishly Zack Snyder has translated the comics to film.

I haven't seen it yet, and I'm sure the movie will fall short and/or verge away from the Watchmen comics in many ways, but I've already noticed an interesting difference: Silk Spectre's costume.

Seems Laurie Juspeczyk's flowing linen has been traded in for a tight latex number.

Of course, this seems like an inevitable decision considering the prominence of the leather/latex clad action heroine in the last decade or so.

The skin tight ensemble is the only option for the contemporary super lady. Starting as far back as Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman in 1989, it's been the go-to look for combining toughness and sexiness. It could be traced back even further to 1915 with Musidora as Irma Vep in "Les Vampires".

It doesn't get much more "to-be-looked-at-ified" than this. Encouraging a voyeuristic and fetishistic audience reaction, the skin-tight pleather/leather/latex clad action-heroine demands the gaze be glued to the screen.

To get an idea of just how prevalent this is lately, I prepared a sample continuum. Let me know what I'm missing [please click to enlarge:

Update: How did I forget Trinity?!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Tron + Daft Punk = Cyber Heaven

Yes, they are making Tron 2. Yes, Daft Punk is scoring the film.

It's such a fit that it feels like it already happened. Even the youtubes were all over it a year ago:

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Inside the Lego Factory

Featuring one of the best jobs in the world (around the 3:50 mark):

On second thought, cooped up in that red room, might drive a man to do all sorts of weird and illegal things with those bricks.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Green Hornet: TV to Film

Heard of the Green Hornet film adaptation written and starring Seth Rogen? Stephen Chow was supposed to direct and star as Kato, but he abandoned directorial duties because of creative differences. Luckily, he will still try to fill Bruce Lee's shoes as Kato.

And now reportedly, they have found a replacement director... Michel Gondry.

Sounds like it could be a pretty cool project, especially if we get to see a darker side of Gondry's oddball sensibilities. Now all they have to do now is recast Rogen as the lead and this might turn out to be an interesting picture.

Jake Gyllenhal was attached to star at one point. Maybe he'd be good. Maybe Matthew Goode? How about Matt Damon? Any ideas?

Farewell Conan, Love the White Stripes

Last week (Feb 21) the last episode of "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" aired (now that he'll be moving to Leno's time slot come June).

Always known for having interesting musical acts on his show, Conan ended things off nicely with The White Stripes offering a stark version of "We're Going to Be Friends". Watch until the end, and you'll catch Conan saying to Jack White, "that meant the world to me."

You can watch the whole episode hosting at GreenGoldFilm, but if you're in Canada you'll need to activate Hotspot Shield.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Urban Beast Brawl

Found this series of photos on The Pet Blog and thought it deserved the comic treatment (click to enlarge).

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Best of Film in 2008

Okay, so the Oscars got it wrong again last night (no big surprise). Don't fret, the Poppies are here!

Last year There Will Be Blood was the big winner. This year, well... take a look:

Best Performance by a Supporting Actor (male or female)

Marisa Tomei in The Wrestler
Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder
Dianne Wiest in Synecdoche, New York
Josh Brolin in Milk
Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight WINNER!

Best Performance by a Lead Actor
Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man
Jean-Claude Van Damme in JCVD
Anamaria Marinca in 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days
Asia Argento in Boarding Gate
Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler WINNER!

Best Ensemble Cast
Ballast - JimMyron Ross, Michael J. Smith, Sr, Tarra Riggs, Johnny McPhail, etc.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall - Jason Segel, Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, Russell Brand, etc.
Slumdog Millionaire - Dev Patel, Anil Kapoor, Freida Pinto, and "the kids"
Milk - Josh Brolin, Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch, James Franco, Alison Pil, etc.
The Dark Knight - Gary Oldman, Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Ekhart, etc. WINNER!

10 Best Films of 2008
(Click the Title to see the film's trailer / Click the image to supersize)

10) Speed Racer - Fast, fun, annoying, stunning. Refreshingly touts family and community over the standard quest of the self-centred individual. Don't be fooled by the flop hype.

9) The Fall - Pure movie bombast. Somehow maintains a charm despite being stylish to the point of overload.

8) Waltz with Bashir - Don't be put off by the Waking Life-esque animation style, the film is leagues more subtle than any of its rotoscoping antecedents (besides maybe His Mother's Voice).

7) Chop Shop - The story of a poor little kid. This time with more feeling, and less sentimental manipulation. Taking it back to the streets, Bicycle Thieves style.

6) The Class - I really thought this Cannes winner was going to be a bore. Turns out it's mesmerizing. Quite a feat considering the whole film takes place in a school.

5) 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days - Works on every level - style, story, acting, historical portrait. Unbelievably grim and good.

4) Happy-Go-Lucky - This movie stuck with me for weeks after I saw it. It's simplicity is it's deadliest weapon. I like to call it, "the kitchen sink Amelie".

3) Reprise - A shockingly good first film from Danish director Joachim Trier. A coming of age story that's not puke inducing. Fascinated filmmaking in the the spirit of the French New Wave.

2) The Wrestler - The Dardenne Brothers meets professional wrestling. American decay captured truthfully and not without crazy entertainment value.

1) The Dark Knight - I can go on and on about how smart this movie is or how stylish it is or how technically proficient, and no movie this year combined all of these essential movie-ingredients so seamlessly. A picture for the ages.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Best Song Ever of the Week

This one's an oldie, but a greatie. "Enola Gay" [click for MP3] from Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark - better known as OMD.

I was recently re-introduced to this song via the animated docunmentary, Waltz with Bashir:

The rest of the score to this movie is similarly awesome, along with mesmerizing original music, there a song by PiL and a re-working of Cake's "I Bombed Korea", as "I Bombed Beirut."

Now if you want to figure out the English translation for the dialogue in this scene, then go see the movie already.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Trailer Park Tuesday

Check out the trailer for this rad looking independent socio-romantic comedy. The movie is set in San Francisco and was directed by Barry Jenkins:

Shot on digital video. Stars a Daily Show correspondent. Holds SF's racial stratification in contempt. Wow, this movie's got all the right ingredients. Looks like Before Sunrise except less earnest and divorced from reality.

And as this NY Times feature on the film alludes to, Medicine for Melancholy fits nicely within a recent trickle of neorealist-ish and super localized American independent movies. See Ballast, Wendy and Lucy (& Old Joy), and Goodbye Solo (& Chop Shop).

Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy Chinese New Year!

Gong hei fat choi!

Let's celebrate the year of the ox with 60s Japanese garage rock band, Ox:

Here's some video of how they celebrated in Hong Kong in 1953.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Join the Snuggies (or Die)!

No, not "The Smoggies" - admission to this cult comes free of any environmental guilt:

Read your Stonecutters manual all comfy and anesthetized:

Also, check out this rare photo of the Snuggie shipping dock.

Monday, January 19, 2009

MLK in Comics

Read the full 1956 comic here.

Read about Ho Che Anderson's "King" graphic novel series here. And more awesome art here.

For a soundtrack, listen to the I Have A Dream Speech [right click for MP3 to full speech].

I had a dream...

...and Spider-Man and Barack Obama came to me in that dream. They told me that I have nothing to fear but our own inner nerd.

For other dreamy Super-Presidential team-ups, check this out. Clinton hits the pages of Superman, Reagan gets sent up in The Dark Knight Returns, Nixon in Watchmen, amongst a couple other gems.

Here's a couple panels from the issue, now available in stores (if you can find one):