Archive for the ‘art’ Category

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

Watchmen triumphs

by Warren

As a preamble, let me just say that I’m a massive fan of the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. I picked up the original 12 comic run when it first arrived in comic book stores in 1986, and it (along with Frank Miller’s the Dark Knight Returns) blew my 15 year old mind.

Of course Hollywood being the avaricious creature it is, plans were soon put in place to make Watchmen into a film, but if ever the source material for a movie could be deemed “unfilmable”, Watchmen was it. The plot jumps back and forth over forty years of history, the supposed superheroes are at best washed-up and at worst psychopaths, the story delves into philosophy, human nature, politics and serves it up with dollops of sex and violence. Oh, and one of the main characters is a detached Superman who sees time differently than mankind and walks around with his (blue) dink hanging out.

Miraculously, Zack Snyder has taken all of those unfilmable elements and made a stunning bit of cinema. Snyder stuck very closely to the source material (even setting the film in 1985, as per the comic), and it’s paid off in spades. Watchmen’s alternate universe (explained brilliantly in an opening-credits montage that tours the audience through decades of could-have-been 20th century events) is a feast for the eyes. Add to that standout performances by Billy Crudup as Dr. Manhattan and especially Jackie Earl Haley as Rorschach, and Watchmen does not disappoint. I have a few minor quibbles, like the presence of Ozymandias’s cat Bubastis (which makes sense in the comic but seems out of place in the film), but my tiny complaints pale in comparison to standout sequences like Dr. Manhattan recalling his life on Mars, or Rorschach revealing just what drove him over the edge from grim vigilante to full-bore lunatic.

Opinion on the film seems to be split; geeks love it, and critics scratch their heads, admire the pretty pictures, and go back to worrying about their increasingly irrelevant jobs and worshipping French art films. I think we know where I land on this debate.

See Watchmen. Revel in its geeky fidelity to the original comic, but enjoy it on its own terms as a bold, visually stunning, thought provoking superhero film of the kind you never thought Hollywood could make. I plan to see it at least once more in the theatre.

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

Roger Ebert likes Watchmen

by Warren

The reaction to Watchmen has been mixed amongst those who have seen the film, with a sharp division between geeks expressing adoration and film critics giving it a “glossy but meh.” But now Roger Ebert, who is about the only film critic I have any respect for, has given the film four stars (or “thumbs up”, for those of you who miss At the Movies.) I was a little worried that the story I’ve waited more than 20 years to see on the big screen would be a visually arresting failure, but Ebert’s endorsement is reassuring. I’ll know tomorrow, when I finally get a chance to see the film.

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

Sunday brilliance: Charlie Brooker on aspirational TV

by Warren

Charlie Brooker hosts Screenwipe, a great, gleefully cynical show about the foul trench of villainy and drivel that is television. The clip below illustrates how TV sets you up for disappointment by showing people living the high life and being better than you’ll ever be. Absolute gold.

Friday, February 6th, 2009

Radio Free Skaro Presents: An interview with Pia Guerra

by Warren

Pia Guerra is widely known as the artist behind the award winning “Y: The Last Man” comic series. But she’s also the artist on “Doctor Who – The Forgotten“, a new series starring everyone’s favorite Time Lord (in multiple incarnations). Oh yes, and a devoted Whovian. Radio Free Skaro‘s Warren Frey visited Pia in her Vancouver studio and got a peek at the creative process behind the comic (and her truly daunting collection of Who figures.)

Radio Free Skaro Presents: An interview with Pia Guerra from Warren Frey on Vimeo.

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

The state of indie filmmaking and a ninja rebuttal

by Warren

So it appears that indie filmmaking in 2008 is in dire straits. The technology to make a film has spread far and wide and the cost of making a film has plummeted, but according to Mike Curtis of HD for Indies, distribution is still next to impossible and the math doesn’t work in favor of people being able to make a living off of making movies. But…where’s the surprise here? Hasn’t that always been the way indie films have been? Kent Nichols, of Ask a Ninja fame, certainly thinks so, and states in his blog that the next generation of creators and stars will emerge from Youtube and other online venues. The Observer also has an interesting article about how web series have come of age since the early days of LonelyGirl15.

Personally, as someone who creates content for a living I don’t even think it’s worth it to create an independent feature film for anything other than as a calling card to showcase your skills. Sure, there’s lots of street cred, but that doesn’t pay the bills. Web series are an ideal platform in which to not only hone your craft but also pre-build an audience, should you ever decided to damn the torpedoes and go the feature route. And unlike the frankly byzantine procedures needed to make content with a studio or (here in Canada) a government agency, all a web series requires is a hosting service and the ability to click “upload.”

Friday, December 12th, 2008

Hip Hop Robocop

by Warren

In what is surely one of the greatest mash-ups ever to grace the Internet, brace yourself for the saga of Robocop, told in rhyme.

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

RED confuses, confounds and amazes

by Warren

RED, the creators of the RED ONE camera that’s revolutionized digital filmmaking, recently announced two new cameras, the RED Scarlet and Epic. Essentially these two cameras operate as a modular “brain”, with an almost infinite choice of attachments that extend the camera from a fixed-lens shooter to a IMAX level behemoth capable of shooting 28k pictures.

The only problem with this panacea is that the original Scarlet, announced last year and them shelved, was a planned “3k for 3k” wonder camera that would have taken the prosumer and DV Rebel world by storm. Instead, low end users would have to shell out something on the order of $7,000 or more to build a suitable camera for their needs. That figure simply isn’t in the budget of many indie filmmakers.

Even more mysteriously, RED has announced that even more info will be released on December 3rd. It remains to be seen if lofi auteurs will be elated or disappointed in a few days time.

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

RIP: A Remix Manifesto

by Warren

The NFB is branching out from Hinterland Who’s Who (actually, I have no idea if they have anything to do with HWW, I just love the music at the beginning of the mini-films) and other cold Canadian fare to present RIP: A Remix Manifesto. It looks like an interesting take on the copyright battle, though unfortunately there’s no way (as of yet) to view the whole film online. Here’s the trailer…

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

What is Creative Commons?

by Warren

Rather than give you a ham-handed attempt at an explanation, I’ll let these notable personages take a crack at it..

and you can get much more information at the Creative Commons website.

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

Steampunk: the backlash begins

by Warren

250px-Steamtop.jpg Steampunk, a subculture devoted to recreating an overly ornate, technologically oriented version of the Victorian era, has been covered of late in mainstream media like the New York Times. When the mainstream media starts to take notice of a subgroup, that’s about when it’s on its way out, and Randy Nakamura’s article in Design Observer essentially skewers the steampunk “movement” as nothing but wishful thinking for a non-existent past….with knobs and brass.