A Dreamer Walking

Sound

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on October 25, 2011

You know Charlie Chaplin really has helped me understand the importance of sound in film. Watching his “silent” movies in the sound era is extremely interesting. Honestly the two silent films he made during the sound era, actually had sound. Just, the sound was used extremely selectively. There was no dialogue from the main characters and there were periods of time where we heard nothing except the score. But every once in a while Chaplin would bring in a sound to emphasize a point. He was quite funny with some of his selections. When you watch the beginning of City Lights the mayor of the city is giving a speech and all we hear from him is a bunch of gibberish. I am sure Chaplin is trying to say something about politicians in the scene, as though they talk only to hear themselves speak. In Chaplin’s next film Modern Times Charlie takes sound effects in his silent film one step further. He is almost intrusive with the sounds he expresses at the beginning of the film while the Tramp works at the factory. He is making a statement about modern times and how technology seems to be intruding into our peaceful world. Sound is never over used in Charlie’s films. Even when he made an actual sound picture The Great Dictator, there is an elegance in the way he uses the sound that makes it far more impacting most films we see today.

Simplification is one of the keys in using sound in films. No filmmaker tries to copy everything we would hear in real life. Instead most sound designers try to take away all but the essentials. I remember hearing one of the sound designers for Forrest Gump talk about how he approached the sounds of battle when Forrest fights in Vietnam. He explained that if he used all the sound you would actually hear in a battle like the one Forrest was in nothing would really register with the audience. There is such thing as having so much sound that it just begins to sound like static. So instead, everything was taken away but a few sounds of bullets whizzing past soldiers head’s, explosions, and selective pieces of dialogue from soldiers in the background. We were given just enough to place us into the situation that was taking place, but everything else was deserted. Sometimes the director wants to take us away from the environment so we can see what is going on from a different perspective. Steven Spielberg took away sound in his movie Saving Private Ryan when the soldiers were attacking Omaha Beach. There are just a few dozen seconds where the main character Captain Miller seems to go inside himself and the gun shots and explosions stop. All we hear are faint sounds coming from the places he is looking at. This kind of thing helped focus our eyes and it made us rely more on the visuals. Often in film sound just gets in the way.

The sound designer’s job is not to recreate the sound we would hear in real life. For instance, when someone pulls a sword from their holster it never makes a “SHRRING” sound like we hear in almost every movie. We don’t hear a big “POW” sound when someone punches another person in real life, yet we almost always hear something like that in the movies. The goal of a sound designer is to make us feel something when we hear their sounds. If using something unrealistic gets us farther into the story they will use the unrealistic sound. The sound designers I have heard talk say that they rarely use the actual resource material when creating a sound design for a movie.

Sound effects really have the ability to drive a story. A good example is the movie Wall-E. Even the characters voice’s are expressed through sound effects in Wall-E. The sound designer Ben Burtt also brought characters like R2-D2 and E. T. to life with sound. With R2-D2 he needed to create a whole character through a series of high and low pitched beeps. We owe much of our love for Wall-E to Burtt. We immediately registered with Wall-E’s emotions through sound. Burtt talked about creating a whole vocabulary for Wall-E when he was doing his sound design. He needed to know what sounded sad, what sounded happy, and how to focus those sounds and make them unique for each character in the movie.

Sound design has the potential to be as poetic as a music score or a piece of dialogue. You have an artistic license when it comes to the sound design of your film. The rhythm of the sound design is important. The sound effects in a film need to be able to flow with the soundtrack and they must not get in the way of dialogue. There are times you will find that sound effects are all you need in a scene and you can get rid of the music and dialogue. Chaplin used sound well because he knew how much of a gift it really was. He knew how to use just enough to draw us into the scene. He also knew the power of the image without sound. Understanding the power your film could have without sound is key to understanding the importance a piece of sound could bring to your movie. Sound in film should be used for the same purpose as all the other tools in filmmaking; to tell a good story.

Show Me The Light!

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on October 22, 2011

In every film there should be a light. A light that attracts us to the material. That allows us to truly see the story being presented on screen. I would describe the light as some sort of warmth. Something that reminds us of humanity and gives us a reason to invest ourselves into the story. The light factor is what separates filmmakers like Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese in my mind. As sophisticated as some of Scorsese’s films are, I find few of them relatable and very seldom do I invest myself into the story he is telling. Maybe I neglect to understand the darkness factor. I have heard many people talk about how they are drawn to Scorsese movies such as Taxi Driver, because they relate to the loneliness and darkness in the main character Travis Bickle. However, if movies were about reflecting and highlighting the darkness in human nature I would not be interested in making them.

It is not like Steven Spielberg does not go into dark subject matter at times. You can’t get much darker then the holocaust. Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List just happens to be my favorite movie I have ever seen. I have had many friends tell me the film is too dark and too sad for them to really like. However, even though I think the main subject matter of Schindler’s List, the holocaust, is sad I do not consider the actual story sad. No, instead in the middle of one of the darkest chapters in world history Steven Spielberg shows us a light in Oskar Schindler. In Schindler’s List we are given a story about the redemption of a German citizen and his effort to save hundreds of Jews from almost curtain death in German death camps. This light amongst the darkness is what makes the film so powerful in my mind.

A frustrating thing about most critics in my opinion is that they seem to put more value on filmmakers who make movies that go into dark subject matter and end on tragic notes. People like Walt Disney, Frank Capra, and Steven Spielberg on the other hand are written off by some critics because their material is too full of “fluff” and not realistic enough to true life. In my opinion if you want to see something completely realistic to real life, just go outside. We are not supposed to just copy what we see in real life. Many filmmakers goals are to represent something to strive for and look up too. I am tired of critics downsizing a film because it had a predictable happy ending. The truth is there are only two ways to end a film, either with a happy ending or a tragic one. Each ending could easily become predictable. For example, the majority of Martin Scorsese’ films end in a tragic way. It is just as easy for me to predict the type of ending Scorsese is going to have as it is for me to predict Spielberg’s. What we should be concentrating on is whether we buy into the ending the movie has.

In film the director is showing the audience a new world. They are giving us a piece of art that hopefully entertains and impacts us. Directors like Martin Scorsese and Stanly Kubrick have never been known for being commercial artists. They never claimed to be making their films for the mass audience. They are more interested in exploring deep and usually dark ideas. Scorsese’s movies especially have a lot to do with violence and corruption. After watching a Scorsese or Kubrick film you usually begin to doubt humanity. The stars of their films are rapists, drug dealers, and murders. There is hardly any warmth in their films. Warmth is either something they feel they are beyond or something they just don’t want to incorporate into their film. Instead what we get is beautifully shot and visually stunning pieces of art that usually go unnoticed or uncared for because the audience doesn’t have a reason to invest.

I can’t say Scorsese and Kubrick are bad filmmakers. I personally respect almost all of what I have seen them develop. However I, unlike most critics, think Scorsese and Kubrick’ films are far less impacting then the ones of Steven Spielberg or Walt Disney. It is like inviting someone into a room. You can have a room full of wondrous material all presented in a superb way. Yet, if you do not have some sort of warmth in the room, most people will walk away or not be impacted. If you have no warmth in a film everything looks foreign. We need the characters in our films to be relatable. Even if you are making a movie about a villain, you need to show us something that makes him connect to the audience. There needs to be some sort of light expressed in that villain’s life that allows us to understand his or her perspective. It is not because Scorsese’s movies end tragically that they are not impacting to me. Scorsese usually has interesting characters in his films. But the characters are people who I never run into in real life, and Scorsese hardly does anything to shine a light on why they are so different from me. He keeps his characters in the darkness and thus when they are gone I don’t see much of a difference, I am not impacted.

I don’t consider Steven Spielberg or Walt Disney’s films fluffy. I do not consider it a bad thing that most of their films end happily. What I care about is whether or not I can buy into the story they are telling. Movies are less about the final result and more about the journey. If you want your audience to participate on the journey you are taking them on you need to give them a reason to stay in their seat. Give them some sort of light that allows them to invest in your film. The light allows the audience in and it gives the darkness contrast. Even in the movies of David Fincher, where we go deeply into the worlds of serial killers, rape victims, and corrupt power seekers, we see some sort of light. Whether it is a detective who still believes in humanity, a comic artist who is devoted to justice, or a visionary devoted to revolutionizing the world, Fincher gives us reason to stay and invest into his films.

The tragic events in both Walt Disney and Steven Spielberg films are impacting because we all had something to lose when the events happened. The death of Bambi’s mother and the sacrifice Captain Miller makes to save private Ryan, hits us hard because we experienced the warmth of both those characters lives. The light is the reason why I will stay. The light needs to be the most important thing about your story. It allows us to understand and be impacted by the darkness. By no means am I telling you to make your movies end happily. It’s your choice. I am just saying that it’s the light that gives both happy and sad endings clarity.

Weight and Consequence

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on October 16, 2011

It seems like I was one of the few who was not too impressed with the last Harry Potter films. To be honest I was not too impressed with the last two Harry Potter films. The reason is because the director David Yates seemed to not be interested in expressing the weight and consequences of the last chapter of the Harry Potter story. Oh yes there was plenty of fighting, flying, and spell casting, yet all of it seemed to be for little cause. They wanted to destroy the evil Voldemort because he wants to destroy all the good in the world and become Lord of all. However, we are not given much of a reason why Voldemort is so evil. He is like so many other cliche villains, only fighting against the protagonist because that is what the story requires.

The weight of the last two films was taken away because David Yates was not interested in concentrating on the actual consequence of Voldemort’s action and the cost of killing him. What David Yates seemed to want when it came down to it was a entertaining blockbuster that would not frustrate his broad audience. He sacrificed many of the needs of the story for the comfort of the audience.

Most audiences like to watch cool action sequences full of explosions and people dieing all over the place. In Harry Potter it’s an added bonus that the action is taking place in a wizard world where their are fantastical monsters and spells being cast all over the place. Yet, few like seeing the consequences of fighting. Sure someone dieing from a distance is cool but when you actually know that person and you need to see the results it has on his or her family and close friends, its a different story.  The last battle in Harry Potter is full of consequences, the school is destroyed, many main characters are killed, and the world the wizards live in will never be the same. However, all of this loss was underplayed in the  film.

The school and characters killed were neither set up or cherished much after they were loss. In reality (Spoiler alert) when Fred died we only had one scene mourning his loss. After the battle when Ron is talking to Harry he seems to have forgotten all about his brother Fred. The movie barley acknowledges (watch out another spoiler) the death of Professor Lupin, one of Harry’s most cherished teachers. It even seems like the main characters are not too interested about the damage done to the school they spent the last seven years living and studying in. It is a typical mistake in high budget films for the filmmakers to get so carried away with blowing things up that they forget the value of the things they are destroying. I just wanted one or two scenes of someone like Hermione walking into her old corridor where she used to live and seeing all the graceful carvings and paintings she used to admire as a child destroyed. I wanted the camera to concentrate for just a few seconds on the ripped up banners and blood stained tables in the banquet hall. I wanted to actually see an honest reaction from Harry, Ron, and Hermione on the things that were lost during the “last battle”. However, hardly any of this came to be so when Harry moves on it isn’t a very big deal. The consequences were so distant I didn’t really care about the victory at the end.

It is not the action that creates the entertainment, it is the characters. The action in a story should only further our connection with the characters. The reason why I needed to understand the motives of Voldemort is because it gives validity to the actions of our hero’s. When we can understand Voldemort’s obsession with power, we become much more respectful of Harry’s fight against it. The objective for the last battle should not have been to give us a visual effects feast, the objective should have been to bring to completion the journeys we had been observing in Ron, Hermione, and Harry. Even though it doesn’t feel good to see the true results of what war and fighting brings, allowing us to see these things gives the stories and characters substance that impacts us far greater then a few cool special effects.

If you truly want to impact an audience give them a reason to truly feel for the story and characters you express on screen. In the last chapter of Harry Potter we didn’t get to the bottom of why Ron and Hermione fell in love with each other. We were not allowed to truly get to the bottom of why Harry was so set on fighting against the evils of Voldemort. The weight comes when you set these things up well. You must give us a reason to why characters are doing what they are doing. When we know what the characters are truly fighting for and what they have to lose, the stakes get higher. When the stakes are high you have an audience who is truly involved with the story that is being told. Consequence is one way to make the story more real and it gives us a contrast that is needed so we can better understand and appreciate the light at the end of the tunnel.

I am not saying the last chapter of Harry Potter was a total bust. It had elements I truly liked. However, the focus was for the most part not in the right places and thus the movie became less memorable and less impacting. You must give your audience a reason to remember your movie. Any film can create cool effects. However, there will never be another character exactly like Fred or Professor Lupin. And there will never be a school quite like Hogwarts. The heart of the film is often found in the quite moments, the time between the action and dialogue. It’s there where you will find the weight of the movie. Sometimes consequence is needed to validate that weight. The most important thing is to stay a servant to the story no matter how great of a budget you have or large your audience might be.

The Ides of March- Review

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on October 14, 2011

The Ides of March is a well put together film. It has an all-star cast and the director George Clooney did a great job with its shooting and pacing. Clooney was also one of the stars and co-writers of The Ides of March. He went about creating the film in a very simple and clear way. Nothing was over used. There weren’t too many cuts, the score was played sparingly, and there were several cases where Clooney restricted what the camera revealed so we as an audience got more involved with the picture. However, none of this stuff makes a great movie.

The story is always the most important thing in a film. The cutting, score,  actors, and camera movements are only there to further the plot and get us more involved with the story. For The Ides of March, the story was hardly worth telling. Clooney said nothing new with this film and he tried to create entertainment through completely deceiving the audience. We are given characters who have good ideals, who seem to have integrity, and love for their fellow citizens and then out of nowhere they betray us. We find out that the characters who we believed in are truly as corrupt as everyone else. The point of the film seems to be “Politics is full of corruption”, a point that has been played in movies a million times over and something the audience already knows.

Another problem was the fact that we are told so much more then we are shown. The movie starts on a character named Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling). Stephen is fully devoted to Governor Mike Morris, a Democrat in the middle of his run for the presidency. We are told again and again in the film that Stephen is good at what he does. People say he has this charisma that makes everyone trust him. He is described as an excellent campaign secretary.  However, we never really see this charisma or understand how he is so good as a campaign secretary. He gives us and the characters around him all the reason to trust him, yet he is pushed out of the campaign by his own people. We are also told in this movie that running a campaign is a lot of hard work. Yet, the movie starts right in the middle of the campaign. The movie starts at the time of the corruption, we don’t see what caused the corruption. We don’t see the wear and tear of the campaign. We don’t quite understand how it could turn people who were good to evil.

The thing that really stops the movie from working however, is the motivation factor for Stephen. For some reason Stephen believes in Mike Morris at the beginning of the film. But, we don’t really understand why. Because we don’t understand what he sees in Morris we don’t understand his dedication to the campaign. The movie almost completely avoids the actual issues that come with running for a public office such as the president of the United States. Each one of Morris’ staff members verbally express how much they believe in him, yet we are never shown a scene where they need to back up their beliefs in his policies. Maybe that was the point of the movie. Maybe the point was that people run for president because they want to win, not because they believe in what they or their leader says. But if that is the point of the movie, why should we care for any of the characters?

In The Ides of March the twist becomes more important then the actual reasons behind the twist. If we as an audience can’t understand why a character would do what he or she does, we won’t believe it when it happens. We are left unsatisfied not because we aren’t surprised, but rather because we don’t understand and thus do not care. The film is full of cliche’s. We have the misunderstood hero, the naive victim, and the unexpected villain. The reason why they feel cliche is because we don’t understand or don’t care about their motives. Motive is what makes things unique. Many people have punched another person, however they all have different reasons they did what they did. The story of the why is often far more interesting then the final result. We don’t get to know Stephen at a personal level. We don’t know why he believes in Morris and we don’t know why he is in politics. Ryon Gosling gives Stephen a natural sympathy through some great acting, but that can only go so far and our empathy for Stephen only goes skin deep.

The Ides of March will most likely keep you interested for it’s 102 minutes of running time. However, the characters are quite forgettable and the story seems forced. The film does nothing new. It is no doubt clear that George Clooney knows how to shoot a film, but his cause will most likely leave you unsatisfied. The movie keeps our attention because of fine use of cinema and exceptional performances from an all-star cast. However, I am left wishing the story was on a par with the filmmakers and actors who are telling the story.

The Pixar Story

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on October 10, 2011

You will have to forgive me for being so lazy with this blog for the last week and a half. I really don’t have much of an excuse but I promise you I will get back on top of things soon. I found a video that I think is very much worthy of posting. The video is the Leslie Iwerks documentary The Pixar Story. Leslie does a fantastic job with this documentary. She really captures the magic of Pixar and does a great job telling the story of how Pixar has become the studio it is today (or the studio it was in 2007 when the documentary was made). The movie concentrates on the three real founders of Pixar, Ed Catmull, John Lasseter, and Steve Jobs. These three people all had a united vision that they would not give up on. Through constant struggle and overcoming they were able to create a studio that has come out with an unprecedented string of both box office and critically acclaimed successes. Enjoy the documentary and be inspired.

Award Season Preview

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on October 5, 2011

Usually the beginning of October represents the beginning of the award season. Interestingly enough it seems the award season has started early this year because several critically acclaimed film have been released in the last month that will be hard to ignore come award time. Unlike past years I am planning on going to several movies in the theaters for this award season. It is slightly frustrating how much of a short term memory award shows seem to have. If you release a great movie at the beginning of the year your movie will most likely not be remembered by the end of it. So most studios hold on to the movies they think will compete award-wise until the end of the year. It looks however like there are two films particularly that might still be remembered during the award season which were released nationally several months ago. One is The Tree Of Life, directed by Terrence Malick. This movie opened everywhere in May and it won top prize at the Cannes Film Festival. It has been on many Critics’ top five lists for the first half of the year and it stars some big name actors, such as Brad Pitt and Sean Penn. I am looking forward to watching this one when it comes out on Blu-Ray and DVD on October 31st. The second film that opened world wide earlier this year that I think has a good chance to win some awards during the award season is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 2. The movie was highly critically acclaimed and is the last movie of the Harry Potter franchise. Honestly, I did not like the movie nearly as much as most people seemed to, but awards given for this movie will most likely represent what people think of the Harry Potter franchise in general, just like Lord of the Rings Return the of the King when it won 11 Academy Awards at the Oscars in 2004. Just like the Lord of the Rings franchise the Harry Potter franchise has created quality films from beginning to end and I think they deserve some recognition.

I wanted to use this post for previewing some of the movies I am most looking forward to watching this award season. After showing you the trailer of the film I will write briefly on why I am looking forward to the movie. I first want to preview three movies that came out last month.

I happened to have the pleasure of watching Warrior already. There are no good guy or bad guy in this film. Each character we get to know has his or her strengths and his and her weaknesses. Each one needs to fight his or her own demons. Mixed martial arts fighting in this movie is just used as a way to bring the characters together and a way for them to face the problems of their pasts and futures. The farther into the story you go the more the movie draws you in. Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton do a fantastic job portraying the brothers and Nick Nolte makes the movie work as the brothers recovering alcoholic dad. The movie should still be in theaters everywhere. It was released September 9.

A few things attract me about Drive. Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan are two of the best young stars in Hollywood. The film has been highly critically acclaimed already, earning a 93% Tomatometer rating and a 83 on the MRQE Meter. I also like the idea that this movies is a thriller where the main protagonist doesn’t really have a gun. All he does is drive. My guess is that this movie will take us on a ride and won’t stop until the credits roll. The movie is in theaters everywhere. It was released on September 16.

Moneyball was a fantastic film. The movie is out everywhere right now and I highly recommend you go see it. The writers for the film are Arron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian. For a movie heavy in duologue Sorkin was a brilliant pick. He makes the endless conversations in the movie not only bearable but extremely entertaining. The humor he draws out from a bunch of old timers sitting around a table talking is unbelievable. Zaillian I believe brought a curtain depth to the story that Sorkin wouldn’t have gotten by himself.  The movie needed an actor like Brad Pitt to star in the role. Pitt gave his character a certain charm and allowed us to be on his side right from the very beginning. A movie about baseball stats doesn’t sound naturally interesting, but with the help of superior writers and a fantastic cast Moneyball gives you a story very much worth watching. The film was released in the US on September 23.

I am not quite sure about In Time. However, I preview it because the idea is extremely intriguing and the director/writer of the film Andrew Niccol has created some good stories in the past. He was the screenwriter for the very thought provoking movie The Truman Show and he seems to be slowly making a name for himself as a director. I also was impressed with the performance Justin Timberlake gave in last year’s The Social Network. Timberlake has a natural charm about him and his charm will be needed for us to buy into this sort of “diamond in the rough” type character. The film can be just another action flick that involves a bunch of gun shooting and sex scenes. However, the premise allows for the potential of something more thought provoking. Time is a cherished thing in our society. If someone has the potential to live forever I wonder what he or she would be willing to sacrifice for it. A lot of it has to do with how these young actors portray characters who are supposed to be in their 70’s and even 100’s. The film will be released in the US October 28th.

J. Edgar is directed by Clint Eastwood and I would be lying if I said this isn’t the main reason I want to see the movie. The reason I am excited the movie is directed by Clint Eastwood is because I know what comes when he leads the way. I know this story will be well told. I know Eastwood will allow the star of the film Leonardo DiCaprio to perform at the highest of his capabilities. And I know the movie will give us something to think about. Just through watching the trailer you get the feeling of the time period this film takes place in. Eastwood is extremely good at period pieces and the visual style you see in the trailer seems to really put us into the story he is telling. The film appears dark with a high contrast and a lot of color intentionally taken out. The subject matter seems very relevant for the time we live in now. How much power is too much power? What is the fine line between right and wrong? These questions and more are asked by Eastwood and though he might not bluntly give us answers he will make us think. The movie will be released in the US November 9th.

The Descendents seems like a movie that concentrates on very real people who are going through some very real problems in life. Alexander Payne, director and co-writer of the film, doesn’t seem to be sugarcoating any of it. In seeing some of his other work Payne is very good at not Hollywoodizing things. He doesn’t have this unreasonable need to make his characters extra special in any way. They are real people we can easily run into in everyday life. This allows Payne’s characters to connect to the audience easier and it allows us to understand his characters’ dilemmas in a more comprehensive way. The Descendents stars George Clooney and I am sure he will bring a venerability to his role that gives us reason to root for him to get his life back in order. Payne is also known for his ability to balance humor and strong subject matter so both are working together to enhancing the story. The movie will be released in the US on November 18.

There are several reasons why I want to see Hugo. Like the last movie the director is what most excites me. Martin Scorsese is one of the most talented technical film directors not just for today but in the history of film. He knows how to use all the elements of cinema to tell a good story. However, this film represents a change in Scorsese’s usual subject matter. This is the first time Scorsese has chosen to jump into family entertainment. His movies are usually very dark and tragic. However, Hugo seems to be a movie about hope and friendship. I am actually really interested in seeing how Scorsese uses 3D in this film. I have not been a big fan of 3D so far but with a technical mind like Scorsese’ I am sure we will see 3D used in a unique and interesting way. The movie is released in the US on November 23rd.

 

First off, I want to point out that this is a brilliant trailer for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Too many trailers give too much information away. This one gives us the subject matter, introduces to us some of the main characters, but does not give the whole plot away. I am excited to be introduced to the director Tomas Alfredson. Alfredson is relatively new to the film business. His only other widely released film was Let the Right One In, which opened to tremendous critical acclaim. What excites me about this film is the all-star cast. The movie has established veterans such as Colin Firth and Gary Oldman and it has upcoming star actors such as Tom Hardy. The mystery aspect of the film draws us. Each suspect seems like a character we could get to like which will make the betrayal all the more captivating. The movie has already been released in the UK to many positive reviews. The story looks like one that will keep you on the edge of your seat all the way through. The movie will be released in the US on December 9th.

This trailer is a piece of art. David Fincher‘s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is sure to take us on a dark ride. Fincher has said that he wants to see how far he could push the R rating for this film. I not being a guy who loves dark movies didn’t think I would be too interested in the film. However, I think Fincher is a fantastic filmmaker and this trailer completely drew me in. Fincher usually has brilliant trailers for his films. They work extremely well with music because of his background in directing music videos and they hardly ever give too much plot away. We understand how this story is going to feel without needing to be told how the plot unfolds in this trailer. The music gets borderline uncomfortable in this trailer and I can guarantee you that is intentional. Fincher is telling us this will be a film that takes us out of our comfort zone and shows us something dark and hard to grasp. The movie concentrates on a rape victim. However, I think it might just be one of the best films of the year if not the best. As much as I liked The King’s Speech, I thought David Fincher’s The Social Network should have won top prize at the Oscars last year. I look forward to seeing how his new movie does. The film will be released in the US on December 21st.

The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn is still a really big “?” in my mind. Steven Spielberg, the director of the film, is my most favorite director of all time. Yet, there are several reasons to be hesitant about the film. One, the movie is in motion capture, an experimental animation style that tends to feel stiff and unbelievable. The second reason I am hesitant is Spielberg has openly claimed that he has not been as hands on with the project as he is with his live action films. For some reason it seems Spielberg thinks animators don’t deserve or need as much attention as actual actors. Although the actors do the motion capture part of the film, it is the animators who bring the characters to life through the constant tweaking of the motion capture performance. However, I will be going to the film and think it will be at least an exciting story for the whole family to see. Some of the images, like the ship floating through the sand hills, seem very imaginative. I also want to see how Spielberg deals with this new art form. The movie will be released in the US on December 21st.

Okay, Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol is most likely not going to be an award contender. However, it is one I am really looking forward to seeing. Not because I loved the last three Mission Impossible films but rather because it represents Brad Bird‘s live action directorial debut. Brad Bird, director of The Incredibles and Ratatouille, is setting out to prove himself as a legitimate director with this movie. He has a chip on his shoulder that comes from the constant doubts he seems to get from studios who think animation is not a legitimate representation of good directing. You would have thought with two Oscars and three critically acclaimed films Bird would have the opportunity to get funding for his personal project in development 1906. Yet, nobody was willing to give him enough money for the project because of their lack of confidence in him as a live action film director. So, he signed on for the new Mission Impossible movie to prove his doubters wrong. If Bird’s film The Incredibles is any indication as to how Bird can handle action, I am sure Mission Impossible 4 will be a thrilling piece of entertainment that does not lose sight of the humanity needed to really draw in an audience. The movie will be released in US theaters everywhere on December 21st.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close will focus on some touchy subject matter. Yet, I like how the film doesn’t look like it will be just about the day of 9/11. Instead it will be a film that concentrates on a victim of 9/11 who needs to learn to move on without his father. The “key” aspect of the film seems very interesting and I am glad the trailer didn’t give too much of the mystery away. The child actor, Thomas Horn, also looks promising and the director, Stephen Daldry, has worked a few times already with young actors and had some great success. The thing that most excites me about this film is it’s written by Eric Roth. Eric is the writer of some magnificent screenplays such as Forrest Gump and The Insider. He is one of my personal favorites. His stories might be about grand adventures but the heart of his stories are never lost and the characters usually end up stealing the show. The movie only opens in select theaters on December 25. It’s wide US release is on January 20.

War Horse is about a boy who joins the army to find his horse during World War I. Steven Spielberg is the director of this film as well and the subject matter seems to be right up his ally. I am already blown away by some of the master shots I saw in this trailer. Spielberg doesn’t seem to be feeling the need to make this film with a bunch of handhelds and quick cutting shots. I think what we will get is a well told story about the relationship between a boy and a horse and a war that tries to tear them apart. Spielberg has always been good at taking the audience into different worlds and I have no doubt he will do so with this period piece. A lot of the film’s success relies on the performance of the lead boy and the horse and we see little of how good or bad those two things are in this trailer. However, I have confidence in Spielberg and this is one of the movies I am looking forward to the most this coming award season. The movie will be released in the US on December 25th.