Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Halo 3 Launch Event

Originally uploaded by Mirka23
My friend Aaron Lemay is an art director for Bungie, the game development company responsible for Halo 3. He's in NYC for a big launch event here in town, and I figured the best way to get to see him was to head over there and check it out.

People were lined up outside the Best Buy on 45th & 5th, waiting for the game to go on sale at midnight. Several different TV channels and shows were doing ongoing coverage of the event, including G4.

When Aaron wasn't being interviewed, I helped him hand out t-shirts to the voracious fans waiting on line. Before I knew it, I had been there for three hours!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Linking In with Kevin Bacon

I was searching for a co-worker on LinkedIn and one of the results that popped up presumed to be Kevin Bacon's LinkedIn page. I suppose, in some sense, it makes sense. The actor who inspired a game called "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" should probably be represented on every networking site. Still, I somehow don't believe that it's him.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Evil Review

As I perused the Toronto Film Festival schedule, one of the films I considered seeing was Alan Ball's directorial debut. After reading this review of Nothing is Private from The Reeler, I'm really glad that I didn't.

Don't read the review if you're easily offended. And definitely don't see the movie.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

TIFF continued

On Sunday, September 9th, I saw two films. The first was Ang Lee's Lust, Caution. I had been trying to get a ticket to see this ever since tickets went on sale, but they were never available. When I picked up my other tickets the guy advised me to go online at 7am, because any unclaimed industry tickets would become available then. I did, and I got one, which was a huge relief because it meant I didn't have to head out to the Rush line at 7am, in the rain, not knowing whether or not I would actually even get in!

The film was great. Tony Leung (one of the main reasons I wanted to see it) played a truly horrible person, who is somehow really compelling anyway. You can't help but hate him and be fascinated by him at the same time. And that's just how the heroine feels about him, too, so it's very appropriate. While I was watching it I was thinking, "There's no way this film is getting an R rating." Later I found out it's going to be rated NC-17. A little bit of violence, and a lot of graphic sex.

Later that day I saw Nightwatching, by another favorite director, Peter Greenaway. I'm not sure how I felt about this one. There were some things I really liked about it, but it was dense, and I was tired, and I wasn't following it all that well. It was gorgeous, and Martin Freeman was great as Rembrant. But if I want to know what was actually going on with all the intrigue, I'm definitely going to have to see it again.

On Monday morning I saw The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Is that the longest title in movie history? Probably not, but it's considerably longer than it needs to be, I think. The film itself is aslo quite long, and when director Andrew Dominik stepped on stage to greet us before the screening he said he hates introducing the film. He said it's long, it's slow, and he hoped we all had plenty of coffee that morning. Not a real enthusiastic way of introducing your film, I have to say. Or maybe he was just being overly modest, in reaction to the media frenzy surrounding the film's star. (And no, Brad Pitt wasn't there for this early morning screening, making it a much less frenzied event).

Anyway, he needn't have been so apologetic. I thought the movie was great. Yes, it was long (2 hours and 40 minutes), but it was very engaging. I've seen much shorter movies where I was looking at my watch and wondering when it would be over. Brad was great in it, as were Casey Affleck, Sam Shepard, Sam Rockwell, and many others. I'd certainly recommend it to people.

The last film I saw before heading back to NYC was probably my favorite - a film by Jason Reitman called Juno. It stars Ellen Page as the title character, a high school girl who gets pregnant and decides to give the baby up for adoption. She finds a good candidate family in Jennifer Gartner and Jason Bateman. Oh, and her friend/baby daddy is played by Michael Cera. The script by Diablo Cody is excellent - hilarious and very real. I was laughing pretty much the whole way through.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


One thing I failed to disclose about the Brad & Angelina red carpet madness in my posting yesterday: When I came out of the No Country screening and saw the huge crowd there, I couldn't help myself. I got a little swept away in the excitement.

I stuck around for a few minutes, and the couple soon arrived, to much shrieking and cheering. They walked up and down the barricades on both sides of the street, signing things and posing for photos. Really I could only tell this by the direction people were pointing their cameras, because mostly all I could see was the back of other spectator's heads. I did catch a quick glimpse of them as they walked by. And I managed to get a couple photos (poor quality I'm sure) by holding my camera as high as I could and aiming it randomly where I guessed they were. I haven't had a chance to get those off the camera yet, but I'll post something when I do.

I suppose that was worth waiting 5 minutes for, but I still can't understand the people who waited for 4 hours.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Toronto Film Festival

Today was my second day at TIFF. On Saturday morning I saw Chacun son Cinema - a collection of 3-minute shorts by a range of celebrated directors, on the topic of cinema, originally created to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Cannes.

Later in the day I saw the new Coen brothers film, No Country for Old Men. Pretty good stuff. Very violent & mysterious. Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem were both pretty amazing. The story, the characters, the dynamic between them, and the rampant brutality reminded me a little of History of Violence. Unfortunately, I was sitting in the balcony, and the sound was kind of crappy, so some of the dialogue went right by me.

At the venue, though, the screening was a little overshadowed by all the hoopla surrounding the imminent arrival of the world's most newsworthy couple, Brad and Angelina. See, Brad Pitt's new movie was premiering in the same theater immediately following No Country, and the festival actually closed off the entire street in front of the theater four hours before the film, in preparation for the red carpet. When we went into the theater for the Coen Bros film, there were already hundreds of people lined up out front, waiting by the barricades. By the time we came out of the theater, the crowd had taken over the entire block.

And, of course the power couple was on the cover of most of the Toronto papers today. I thought the choice of the above image, by the Toronto Star, was kind of odd. Aside from being a really unflattering angle, they both look exhausted and miserable. She looks on the verge of tears! Maybe it's a little hard to tell from the online version of the photo, but blown up bigger on the front of the newspaper, it looks much worse.

More about the other films I saw when I get back to the U.S. in a couple days.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Why I missed out on Newsies

A few years ago I had the thrilling opportunity to conduct a brief interveiw with Joss Whedon. One of the questions I was obliged to ask him was about his favorite pop culture guilty pleasures. He mentioned a musical called Newsies. I couldn't really understand how it could be that I had never heard of this film, but for some reason I didn't look into it any further.

In today's Entertainment Weekly there's a feature article on Christian Bale, which includes a sidebar about his leading role in Newsies. And now I finally understand that the reason I'd never heard of it is that it came out in April, 1992 and I was living in Paris at the time. Here's a clip of one of the musical dance numbers from the film.

I wonder what else I missed that year. I wonder if Joss thought, "What kind of crappy entertainment reporter hasn't heard of Newsies??" (By the way, I still haven't seen it, but I think I have to someday).