A Dreamer Walking

Taxi Driver-Extra Features Review

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on January 27, 2011

Taxi Driver:

Collectors Edition 2-disc DVD Review:

Martin Scorsese On Taxi Driver: 8.5 out of 10: This is a very good 16 minute interview with Martin Scorsese. He explains his feelings on the project as best as possible. Martin talks about why he wanted to direct Taxi Driver and what he got out of it. He also goes into detail on what influenced him. Martin names several directors, from Francesco Ross all the way to Alfred Hitchcock, as being strong influences for Taxi Driver. This feature is not about how Martin approached each shot or how he got the film accomplished. The feature does have a tremendous amount of information of what Taxi Driver meant to Scorsese. I think it is good that this interview is taped many years after the making of the film. He seems to have had time to think about the reasons to why he did Taxi Driver and why it was a success.

Producing Taxi Driver: 7.5 out of 10: A good 10 minute look at how the Taxi Driver film was started. You hear mostly from producer Michael Phillips on what the movie meant to him. We are told that the movie was very controversial but sadly do not hear of much detail to why. We also see why some of the filmmakers were attracted to the film. There is a nice little look at the new generation of filmmakers that were coming up from the 1960’s and 70’s.

God’s Lonely Man: 9.5 out of 10: This is a great 25 minute documentary on the origins of the Taxi Driver film. We go into the life of the screenwriter Paul Schrader and see how the film was created from his own personal experiences. He talks about the foundations of the main character Travis why he was appealing to him. Paul gives us a lot of insight to what the philosophy is behind the screenplay. He talks in detail about what he thinks the job of a screenwriter is and what it is not. This documentary is a must for anyone studying screenwriting. The documentary helps us understand Taxi Driver in a much deeper way.

Influence and Appreciation: Martin Scorsese Tribute: 8 out of 10: This is a great 18 minute documentary on Martin Scorsese. It talks a little about how he got associated with Taxi Driver. They talk about him as being a student of film who always had a independence and exhilarating energy for filmmaking. We hear a lot about the kind of influence Martin was on the rest of the Taxi Driver crew. It is a documentary about why Martin is such a good director, only concentrating on the making of Taxi Driver and before. I wish they used the Taxi Driver as an example more often. I wish they went into more specific examples of how Martin’s shooting was revolutionary for his time. All in all a very good documentary. It was very well told and I liked hearing about the revolution in the 70’s for Hollywood filmmaking.

Taxi Driver Stories: 7 out of 10: A interesting look at a few New York taxi drivers. They talk about what taxi driving is all about for them. We hear how the business has changed from the 70’s to the present times. They explain what drew them to the job and some of them explain why they chose to leave the profession. It is a 20 minute documentary on some unique peoples lives as taxi drivers. Does not really have anything to do with the making of the actual film Taxi Driver.

Making Taxi Driver: 8 out of 10: This is a well made 1 hour and 10 minute documentary on all the stages of making Taxi Driver. All the way through the documentary we hear about the philosophy behind the film and how it resonated with the cast and crew. Many people talk about their role in the film and specifically how Paul Schrader, Martin Scorsese, and Robert De Niro pushed the film to be the classic it is today. Jodie Foster has some good things to say about her role as a 12 year old prostitute. She talks about what both Martin and Robert did to take her acting to a whole new level. Paul brings us a lot of insight into the meaning behind the movie. I would have liked to hear from Martin a little bit more. They never really get into much detail about the conflict that came with the film. I did enjoy hearing about Robert De Niro’s contribution to the film and what his attitude was as an actor back then. A good all a round look at the film making process.

Travis: New York: 5 out of 10: This was a okay look at New York in the 1970’s and how it has changed to present times. The documentary was very short however and not nearly enough of an explanation was given on how Now York has changed. We are told by some high up officials that the City has changed from back then to now. But, we don’t hear how it has changed or much of why. We are told that the City is Rich, but never are given a explanation. We also are not told why New York City is the place of opportunity, even though there are some interviews who say it is.

Story-Boards by Martin Scorsese: 8.5 out of 10: This is a fantastic 4 minute explanation by Martin about the beauty of storyboards. I really enjoyed it and think he explains well the general benefit of self made storyboards. We are given good explanation to how the storyboards help both him and his cinematographer understand how to go about shooting the film.

Commentary: By Professor Robert Kolker: 8.5 out of 10: Professor Kolker seems to have done his research on Martin Scorsese and Taxi Driver in this commentary. He makes us understand to a much higher degree why Taxi Driver is considered by many to be a great piece of Cinema. He goes into detail on how Martin uses the camera to push the story and it’s meaning forward. He talks about Travis and explains his view on many of his scenes for us. Sometimes it feels like he is trying to put meaning into things that never had any. But, for the most part we dissect the Taxi Driver movie and see a lot of the fine details that make the film great.

Commentary: By Screenwriter Paul Schrader: 7.5 out of 10: I have some mixed feelings about this commentary. First off, Paul does a good job giving us his unique and valuable perspective on the film. He mostly sticks to his thoughts on the script. One of the frustrating things was the long gaps without him saying a word. It really felt like he was only talking half the time or less. There were several scenes I very badly wanted him to talk about that he just skipped over. He does a good job when he does talk. Paul is very honest. He tells us what he thinks a screenwriters job is and what he thinks is not a screenwriters job. He has experience with both directing and writing, so his comments on what the directors job is and what the screenwriters job is, are very valuable. Overall I did get some valuable information from him, but wish he talked and discussed much more then he did.

From these extra features I think we get a very good view on the making and importance of the Taxi Driver. We hear a fair amount from all the major people who took part in the making of Taxi Driver. For me it was a great introduction to Martin Scorsese. I was able to see some of his passion for film. I was also able to see what got him started in the film business and how his philosophy started to change the rest of Hollywood. Paul Schrader and Robert De Niro were also interesting people to look into. Paul Schrader’s screenplay really was something else. This is just as much Paul’s movie as anyone else’s. I respected the trust that Paul seemed to have with Martin, it is a good look at how a screenwriter and director should work together. These extra features explain very well the reasons to why Taxi Driver is considered one of the greatest films ever made. It also inspires the independent artist to make his own film, no matter how gutsy the story is.

The Silence of the Lambs- Extra Features Review

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on December 17, 2010

The Silence of the Lambs:

Blu-Ray Review:

Breaking The Silence: 7 out 10: This Feature had about 20 minutes of interviews and a few pop up facts about the film scattered through out the 2 hour movie. It is like a commentary but with less information, because they are not always talking. I would much rather just have a commentary, but there was a good amount of insight give through the interviews. The main actors talk about their roles and the screenwriter gives you more depth into the story and some of the characters. The main focus seems to be on Hannibal Lecture and Clairce’s relationship. We also get a little insight from the screenwriter Ted Tally.

Understanding The Madness: 7 out of 10: A 20 minute documentary about what goes into a cereal killer’s mind. In my opinion it is too broad. I could have reasoned out most of what they said about cereal killers. However, a good documentary to watch if you are trying to figure out a villain in the basic sense.

Inside the Labyrinth the Silence of the Lambs: From Page to Screen: 8.5 out of 10: A great documentary on The Silence of the Lambs. It goes through three different chapters that all run about 20 minutes. Chapter one entitled, Putting it Together, is about how the story was created by the author of the book Thomas Harris and how/why the filmmakers and cast became interested in the book. Chapter two entitled, “The Cast of Characters“, is about the performances and what went into the actors owning their roles. You get some particularly good information from Anthony Hopkins on how he developed Hannibal Lecture. The third part of the documentary entitled, “Production, Protests and Awards“, talks about how the whole movie came together and the publicity it got when it first came out. I felt that the documentary could have separated the chapters a little better so the individual subject matter in the chapters were more clear. I also felt like they were missing a few key voices such as Jodie Foster and director Jonathan Demme talking about roles in the film. However, everyone interviewed gave a lot of good information on the production as a whole and what they as individuals felt they brought to the table.  Over all I would recommend this one hour documentary. It concentrates mostly on the acting, writing, and direction of The Silence of The Lambs.

Silence of the Lambs: From Page to Screen: 7 out of 10: A good documentary on the writing through the publicity of The Silence of the Lambs. It is very much like the “Inside the Labyrinth” documentary except shorter (40 minutes instead of one hour). We do get the hear from Jodie Foster but not Hopkins. Was able to get a slightly deeper look into the anthers Thomas Harris’s vision and how the book got popular. Over all it was pretty good and nice to hear Jodie.

Scoring The Silence of The Lambs: 8 out of 10: Some really good insight on Howard Share’s way of going about composing The Silence of the Lambs. We are able to hear what he was thinking when starting the film and when dealing with the big scenes in the movies. He talks about following his instincts when composing and how doing that lead to creating a better score. He also talks about the value of collaboration and how that is usually more important then individual talent.

The Making of: The Silence of the Lambs (1990): 6 out of 10: You do get to hear a little from Johnathan Demme in this eight minute documentary, which is nice. The rest is pretty basic and we have already heard it in the other documentary. You do see a little more behind the scenes footage.

Over all I think some of the extra features were on par with the quality of the movie while others were not. The main extra features I would recommend are the “Inside the Labyrinth” piece and “Scoring The Silence of the Lambs” piece. Would recommend you buy  the Blu-Ray copy if you are looking into developing a interesting villain. Seeing Hannibal Lectures development gives you good information to what goes into a good villain.  Also, there are some good extra features for those looking into screenwriting and adapting books to script. I think we also get to see the Clarice character in a lot of depth and unlayered . She really is a unique character for Hollywood, and the extra features do a good job explaining why.

Juno- Extra Features Review

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on November 22, 2010

Juno:

Blu-Ray Review:

Way Beyond “our” Maturity Level: Juno-Leah-Bleeker: 7 out of 10: A well made documentary that lasts about 8 minutes. The feature is about the three kids staring in the film. The actors all talk about their characters and how they were able to embody them. It is all about getting into character and how the kids of Juno were so successful doing so.

Diablo Coby is Totally Boss: 8 out 10: This Feature gives us a 8 minute look at the screenwriter Diablo Cody. We see how unique Diablo’s screenplay is and what makes it stand out. They give us a brief explanation on how Diablo’s screenplay got noticed and what she put into it from her personal life. Jason the Director also talks about what the screenplay means to him and how he really felt like it was Diablo’s movie more then his.

Jason Reitman for Schizz: 9 out of 10: Loved this 8 minute documentary on Director Jason Reitman. It is all about his philosophy on directing this film. Jason talked a lot about the tone of the film and how he tried to be honest to the characters and story. There was a bit of talk between the line Jason needed to walk, from letting us understand the humor but not going over the top with it. We also get good insight from many of Jason’s film team about how good he is in collaborating with others. This short documentary lets you really see what movie making is about for Jason.

Honest to Blog: Creating Juno: 7.5 out of 10: This is a good short documentary on the over all film. The documentary concentrates on the three main stars of the film more then anything, that being writer Diablo Cody, Director Jason Reitman, and main actress Ellen Page. We see how these three stars and the rest of the crew came together to create such a good movie.

Commentary: Director Jason Reitman, Screenwriter Diablo Cody: 6 out of 10: I really didn’t get drawn into this commentary. both seemed more interested in talking about personal stories that happened on set then their process with writing or directing the film. You get pretty much nothing from Diablo. Jason does go into detail about his directing process in a few areas. He also talks a little about what the actors brought to the table. I  think the commentary would actually of been better without Diablo being there distracting Jason.

Over all I think the film was of higher quality then the extra features. You do get some good insight though. I would suggest that you skip the commentary. There is very little information you get on the commentary that you hadn’t gotten on the extra features. Each of the main contributors to the movie were very unique in their own ways, I especially found Diablo and her story to be interesting. Juno was a great movie and the extra features did a fair enough job showing us why.

Toy Story 3- Extra Features Review

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on November 16, 2010

Review on most of the Toy Story 3 Extra Features I have watched so far. I give them a grade between 1 and 10. The grade is based on how well the videos, podcasts, and documentaries present their information, and what I think of the information they present. I will bold curtain words that I think represent what the videos are about. This is not supposed to be extremely organized, but I do hope you find it useful and have at least an idea of what kind of stuff you are getting into when you purchase these movies or look at these links. if you have any questions or critiques please comment below.

Toy Story 3:

Two Disc Blu-Ray Review:

Cinama Explore/ Commentary: Lee Unkrich and Darla Anderson: 7.5 out of 10: I can tell that Lee was very passionate when making the film and that the movie came from his true vision. I also found some good info on particular scenes and to whether they were easy or hard to do. One of the problems is that Lee tries to pack everything into the commentary, so he does not give enough time (in my opinion) on any given subject. I would have liked to have more insight into his directing process and hear why he did what he did when it came to writing, story boarding, animating, lighting, and more importantly editing (sense that was his upbringing in film) a shot. However, that said the commentary is very informational. Darla talks very little but you also get the feeling she was deep into the passion that made Toy Story 3 what it is. I think the highlights is a more overall idea on the animation process, leaning toward story if anything.

A Western Opening: Story Process: 8 out of 10: This was a 7 minute documentary on how the very opening of Toy Story 3 became what it is in the film. It deals entirely on how they developed the story through out the years. It was surprising how different it started out being, from the end product. You also get some great insight into how they made it a core part of the story as a whole.

Bonnie’s Playtime: Story Roundtable: 9 out of 10: This is a great 6 minute conversation with Lee Unkrich, Jason Katz (story artist), Adrian Molina (story artist), Erik Benson (story artist), and Matt Luhn (story artist), on how they went about figuring out Bonnie as a character and how they figured out how to introduce her to the audience so we immediately love her without knowing the toys are going to be donated to her. This is completely about story and character development. I love some of the conversation that goes on. You get some real insight to how many people it took to crack the character of Bonnie. We get many people’s different points of view, all of them seem to have been interested in one thing and that is making a character as strong as Andy. They go into detail about how they tried to connect Bonnie’s room too Andy’s room, while still making both characters unique. You also get a good look at why they chose the toys they chose for Bonnie. Some GREAT stuff.

Beginnings: Setting The Story in Motion: 10 out of 10: This is PRICELESS!!! A 8 minute clinic on starting a screenplay. It is narrated by Michael Arndt, and gives us a fantastic look at fundamental things to look for if you are having a hard time working a story out. He explains how if you are having a hard time writing a story, the problem almost always has its roots in the beginning of the story. Michael goes through 3 Pixar movies, Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and The Incredibles, and tells us how exactly they are set up to allow the 2nd and 3rd act to really flow. This is a fundamental documentary for anyone interested in screenwriting. The great thing is that Michael even says that the rules he explains are NOT  law, they are just good things to look at if you are having problems.

Life of a Shot: 8 out of 10: A 7 minute look at what went into the huge western opening in Toy Story 3. We saw a little of everything, character animation, effects animation, camera positioning, storyboarding, prop design, color scripting, lighting, and music. For a brief introductory look at what goes into making animation work, watch this feature.

Paths To Pixar: Editorial: 9 out of 10: This is more about advice then how these editors made it to Pixar. It is only 4 minutes and 40 seconds, but has a lot of different views on what goes into good film editing. They explain some of the difference between live action editing and animation editing. I like how they really captured several peoples views on the subject and it seemed to keep on driving forward. You clearly see a beginning middle and end to this documentary.

Toy Story 3: The Gang’s All Here: 8 out of 10: This is a interesting 8 minute look at all the voice actors for the film. ALL these Toy Story 3 extra features are so very well made. It is just fun to hear some of Tom Hank’s ideas on what Toy Story means to him. It is cool to see how so many voice actors are excited about Pixar and how they feel they are becoming imortal when they contribute their voices to one of their films. Also a little insight on Lee Unkrich, and his thoughts on directing the third movie.

Goodbye Andy: 9 out of 10: I dare someone to watch this short documentary and say that the film was not “driven” by Lee Unkrich. Lee, I think, is the most personal in this documentary, explaining what he put into the ending of the film and how important it was to him to complete the Toy Story trilogy. We get some great insight on how the ending of the film was developed from the very first retreat John Lasseter and his core filmmakers had when they started the Toy Story 3 project. They talk a lot about what they needed to do to make the story just right. Lee explains what he thought his job was as the Director.

Commentary: Bobby Podesta, Jason Katz, Mike Venturini, Bob Pauley, and Guido Quaron: 8 out of 10: A good commentary. We get to hear about some of the passion that went into making the film. We also hear about many of the obstacles. They talk about the daunting task of working on characters that are considered legends in the animation world. We also see why Pixar is the best animation studio at the moment. It is all about detail and these guys are addicted to making sure every last detail is covered, so that could create the best film imaginable. They all put 110% into all they do. I do think they were a little too interested in talking about fellow artists contributions,  that their own personal journey became a side note on the commentary. I really wanted to hear a little more from Jason Katz, the story supervisor of the film. But a good overall commentary and there was some of that detail and insight given just not as much as I thought they could have given. The main concentration of the commentary is on story and animation. But, there is also a fair amount of talk about how color schemes and set designs pushed the story forward. Pixar is extremely oriented to story, so everything rounded back to that with the commentators.

Overall a very well made Blu ray pack, full of extra features that give you great insight towards story development and the Pixar process. Even though some of their extra feature documentaries are short, they are PACKED with useful information. They get strait to the point in each oneof their documentaries and I like that.

Internet Toy Story 3 material:

The Sound of America: Lee Unkrich Interview: 7 out of 10: A good 30 minute interview talking about many of the themes of the Toy Story trilogy and how and why they appeal to us as an audience.

Creative Screenwriting Magazin Podcast: Michael Arndt Toy Story 3: 9.5 out of 10: Another Priceless interview of screenwriter Michael Arndt. This is Michael talking for an 1 hour and 15 minutes about how he got started as a screenwriter and what he thinks it takes to be a screenwriter. He talks about his philosophy on screenwriting and what he learned going to Pixar. He goes into detail about curtain elements of writing Toy Story 3 and how it is a tremendously collaborative process. He talks about the roots of Pixar philosophy for filmmaking. He explains some the contributions that people like Brad Bird, John Lasseter, and Andrew Stanton, brought to Toy Story 3. I loved all of it. I especially liked when Michael was talking about getting started and what he thinks screenwriting is all about.