Anthony Bourdain (1956-2018)

Less than a week ago, we all learned of the untimely and tragic passing of writer, producer, chef, and television personality, Anthony Bourdain. Bourdain hung himself in his hotel room in France. I honestly don’t remember exactly when or how I first noticed Bourdain on one of his many successful shows, but one thing was certain, once I discovered his shows, I was-to paraphrase Bourdain-“hungry for more.” (more…)

Advertisements

Isle of Dogs

There’s something to be said about a Wes Anderson feature film. For one thing, not only does Anderson direct, he also writes and produces all of his films. He has received six Oscar nominations in his career as of the date of this post and has not won one yet. These nominations have come in those three categories respectively: original screenplay, directing, and production. His last feature, “Grand Budaphest Hotel” earned him the holy trinity of Oscar nominations. Well, I think it’s high time for him to win one and the film with which he should win (at least one) Oscar is “Isle of Dogs.”

Let me say right off the bat that I predict “Isle of Dogs” will be nominated for Best Picture. Not just best animated feature, (of which a nomination is all but certain) but also Best Picture. No animated film in the history of the Oscars has ever won Best Picture and the last animated film to be even considered for such an accolade was “Toy Story 3” back in 2011. It lost to “The King’s Speech” but still managed to take home best animated feature.

So what is it about “Isle of Dogs” that makes it so magnificent? It’s a monumental achievement in stop-motion animation and puppeteering. Four years of production, 27 animators and ten assistants were needed to bring this story to life. I can only imagine the monumental difficulty that goes into making inanimate objects not only express emotions such as anger, sadness, excitement, or humor; but to be able to express it in a convincing and raw way that made me feel for these characters throughout the entire story.

The story of “Isle of Dogs” is a simple one. Set twenty years in the future, every species of dog is infected with a severe case of canine flu in the fictional city of Megasaki, Japan and are exiled to a garbage island outside the city limits. One little boy steals a plane and flies there in the hopes of finding his dog. The boy is unable to communicate directly with the dogs and vice versa.

Speaking of communication, let me also mention how phenomenal the voice-acting was. If you’re familiar with Wes Anderson movies, you’ll recognize immediately the voices of Edward Norton, Bill Murray, and F. Murray Abraham to name a few of regulars that always manage to get happily sucked into the worlds that Wes Anderson creates, but also performances by Jeff Goldblum, Bryan Cranston, Scarlett Johannson, narration by Courtney B. Vance, and newcomer Koyu Rankin are equally incredible. I really appreciated a hilarious back-and-forth between the dogs constantly discussing rumors that one of them had just heard. There’s something very… human about that.

The direction and visual storytelling is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. A good portion of the movie is actually in Japanese with nearly no subtitles. Everything is explained to you by interpreter appropriate to the scene or through visual cues given to the audience. The contrast of the two different worlds in which the story takes place; a fictional Japanese city and a floating landfill shows throughout with spectacular effects of lighting and set design.

“Isle of Dogs” is definitely a top 3 movie that I’ve seen this year and I hope that my predictions are correct in that Wes Anderson will finally get at least one much-deserved Oscar for his work. “Isle of Dogs” in my mind is a masterpiece.

A Quiet Place

“A Quiet Place” is a story about a family living in silence to protect themselves from monsters that hunt by sound. The movie stars and is directed by John Krasinski. That’s right, Jim from “The Office” directed and starred in a horror movie. Let that sink in for a second…

There is a multi-layered sense of cleverness in this movie. How do you make a thriller in 2018 where 98% of your movie is silent? With Krasinski’s direction along with the super clever screenplay by Bryan Woods, Scott Beck, and, oh yeah, John Krasinski (according to IMDB,) that’s how.

The movie starts right in the silence, and ambiguously stated simply as “Day 89.” There is no real explanation or back-story about how or why the monsters arrived there, why they won’t leave, and what (if anything) anyone has done to try to get rid of them. You’re just thrown right into the thick of survival with this family.

Part of the reason why this family has been able to adapt to a life of silence better than the other few survivors we see is because one of the children is completely deaf and communicates in ASL. It’s clearly established early on through visual storytelling and ASL communicated within the family that sound has deadly consequences.

The characters in “A Quiet Place” were predominantly simple to follow in their motivations and easy to root and worry for. There isn’t much character development in this movie and there isn’t any particular actor that “steals” any scene, but what makes up for it is the marvel you feel as seeing how this family has been able to live and survive the way that they do despite the tragedies that befall them. They paint squeaky floorboards in different colors so they know which ones to avoid and use different colored patio lights strung around their yard to communicate safety or danger.

There’s also something to be said about experiencing this movie in a crowded theater. Because it is a silent film, and because of the white-knuckle grip it has on you the whole time, you want to stay silent also. You feel as an audience member that if you make a sound, you jeopardize that family’s safety. And that was  an amazing thing to realize and experience in real time.

I want to go back and see “A Quiet Place” again because I know that there are story details that I missed and I would like once again to awe at the fact that Jim from “The Office” made an amazing and thrilling movie. But it’s more than that. “A Quiet Place” is the best thriller I’ve seen since “The Sixth Sense.”

 

 

“Ready Player One” – The Movie

This feels like an end of an era… or certainly a long time coming. If you’ve read pretty much anything I’ve written-especially in the last three years-you’d know that I’ve dedicated a tremendous amount of time writing about “Ready Player One” the book and how I’ve been anticipating, speculating, and rumor-trafficking how the movie would be adapted from the 2011 novel. Now that I have had a proper amount of time to digest the 2 hour and 20 minute adaptation, I have a few choice words for it. This review will be more of a comparative analysis of book-to-movie and chock-full of spoilers and maybe an Easter Egg or two. Hey… it is Easter Sunday after all.  (more…)

Quill Tattoo

Over the holiday break while visiting family, I decided to get my second tattoo. I had come up with concept a little over a year before (shortly after my first tattoo) and my fiancé drew the original sketch. It is a quill design that breaks apart at the tip of the feather and transitions into a raven flying away. Below the tip of the quill are two ink blots. This is obviously symbolic of my passion for classic stories, writing, storytelling, and my enthusiasm for Edgar Allan Poe. As of the date of this post, I don’t plan on getting anymore tattoos. But my friends warned me that getting tattooed can become addicting…

My amazing tattoo was done by Uruguayan tattoo artist known as Jhonny Tantan at Dharma Tattoo in Miami Springs. 

New “Ready Player One” Trailer

The feels…

My 2018 Oscar Predictions

Here is the list of 2018 Oscar nominations and my predictions. I have seen some of the films nominated, but not all. My choices of the movies I’ve seen will be in yellow text. If I haven’t seen the movie, my educated guesses will be in navy blue. (As of the day of this post.) (more…)