Wow! Just Wow! We had blast working with a small team right up to the buzzer. We finished with three minutes to spare. Phew! Taking the elements of Vince Frank, Auto Mechaninc; A Paintbrush; and the line "That's one way to make your point;" we built something great. We had decided to dive deep and make a true horror film. And that we did.
So I kept seeing a buzz around this new Inktober project people around me are doing, so I decided to give at whirl. So here is my first 4 days.
Another year another Gaff Tape & a Prayer adventure. We had a blast making this year's peice for the Pittsburgh 48 Hour Film project. It's called "Dark Chocolate" and was a blast. Required elements, Genre: Horror, Character: Lenny or Lonni Safron Chocolatier, Prop: Sticky Note, & Line "Maybe I just don't find you funny."
MMUHBOM - No Empathy for Empathy
So as I watched Star Trek Beyond this weekend I couldn't help but believe that something was off. Around the end of Act I things go poorly for the Enterprise and her crew. Namely an attack full of destruction, murder, and mayhem. While it does sell the danger and terror it might go too far, at least for me.
Let me rewind and show a trend I've been seeing over the years. People seem to be down on empathizing with film and TV characters. Not really main characters but side characters. We can empathize with serial killers, meth dealers, blue blood aristocrats, and all manner of anti-heroes. But the side characters, the opposing forces, the extras, are killed off with out a second thought.
I once was talking with a friend about why the zombie genre seemed so evergreen over the last two decades. We bounced it around but my conclusion was it was a response to globalization. We live in an age where it is more apparent then ever that with a small part of the 7 billion sea of humanity. The fantasy of zombies is found in our connection to the survivors. We can imagine ourselves as the heroes. We are still human. We still have our own mind. But they don't. They are a flock of mindless sheep. And we soak up the feeling of being a "real" human. While indulging the thought that those around us we don't know or care about are not as human as us. They don't have independent thought like us. In a world of social media posturing, corporate cultures, and political correctness, it's unsurprising we like to think that we are real but everyone around us are, well zombies.
Taking that along we arrive at Man of Steel. A movie (being upfront) I hated. I'll spare the diatribe and just focus on the destruction of Metropolis. It is straight up destruction porn. A vulgar gratuitous bath of blood and bricks. It seems the generations that lived through September 11th just never internalized the carnage of what a few buildings dropping did to a city, let alone a nation, and world. Because since 2001 Hollywood has blown up just about every major city in graphic fashion. By the time Superman gets a handle on the situation most of lower Metropolis is a mountain of charred ash and crushed concrete. You don't see them explicitly but there must be hundreds of thousands of dead in that rubble. But Supes just fights on in the populated area, and all of our principle cast survived so I guess its just a lot of property damage right? But I remember 9-11 and the stories of how no one was finding bodies. Desk, chairs, computers, and people where so pulverized but the falling buildings that only grey dust and ash remained.
In Jurassic World we saw it a bit closer up. At a certain point the story devolves into a set piece action sequence full of chaos and horror. One character whose only sin so far in the film was begin a bit self-absorbed and losing track of the kids left in her care is murdered brutally. Now this personal assistant is an up and coming 20 something who takes a call and doesn't notice the two boys in her care sneaking off. While I'm sure some parents feel resentment against any one losing their kids, this was not someone who was likely to be a good babysitter. So the film decides she should be swooped up by a flying lizard tossed between two of them each catching her in there beaks with a solid bite. And if this playing with their food routine is not enough to dehumanize her we then have her devoured alive by a giant sea monster. This kind of disgusting murder porn is usually reserved for the main villain after we have seen them commit acts of unspeakable malice. Not a two line extra thats is killed for what? As a warning to all other babysitters to watch my kids? And the most obvious villain of the movie? They get a classic hollywood death as in it mostly happens off camera.
These thoughts gelled together when watching Tommorowland. For a heart felt film focusing on the hopes of science and advancement, it didn't really show much regard to it's villian. He is not a great human being, but he is not all that directly involved with the mayhem happening. Robots he sent along tend to be the murderous ones. Even holding that in mind he had relatable point of view the he just made the wrong conclusion about. And even after the error of his ways begins to dawn he is killed summarily for being the bad guy. It just struck me wrong for tone. In the majority of films lately the villain bites it. These feels especially out of place for super hero movies. Comics have been havens for disappearances, robot doppelgängers, clones, and other ways to write the end with a question mark. Villains rarely die forever because people love to hate them. You want to see how they slipped the noose and return to terrorize the heroes. But in the films going back to Spider-Man in 2002, the villain dies. They are killed off mostly to make way for the next tent pole villain in the franchise. But often it feels more like directors and creative teams licking their left over food so no one else can eat it.
Which draws me back to Star Trek Beyond. For a film that captures the magic of the orignal series' chemistry and camaraderie, it fails to make a villain we can empathize with. And the majority of the crew die without remorse. Sure there are sad faces and throw away lines about the loss. But even the nameless red shirts usually got a name or heartfelt remorse from Shatner's Kirk. Too many die for us to relate to the murdered. After all they aren't us, they are the nameless others we can't relate to. And in a series so dedicated to the ideals of peace, inclusiveness, and hope, I feel the devastation comes more from a place of can we do it rather then asking if we should do it.
That said it was a fun film and you may not have the sensitivity I did to it. I'd just like to see some films come back down to scale. I don't believe San Fransisco, or London, or Washington needs to blow up before I feel anything.
Mac Updates His Blog on Monday, Mondays, or MUHBOMM is a weekly column highlighting one man’s view of the universe. Mac Purvis III, is a self described purveyor of amazing things and dabbles in many different mediums of expression.
So Captain America and Iron Man duke it out this week in the real grudge match of the year. Batman and Superman' battle royale became a grim, dark, mess. This movie though has all the charm we have come to expect from Marvel.
As a comic book fan who came to believe that the 2006 event Civil War is perhaps the greatest comic book story of all time. It was a thoughtful portrayal of a two sided issue. And gave weight to a struggle that effected everyone in the Marvel Universe. Tony Stark was right to support the Superhuman registration act. Both in the wake of tragedy that brought it about and as one who often needed to held accountable. Steve Rodgers was right to trust those heroes to act without a watchful eye on them at all times. The heroes that came down on each side had good reason and made sacrifices to defend their belief. It was a story with immense gravity and was inescapable in it's scope. Even the irreverent Deadpool dropped is sarcastic tone to give a deeply rooted reason why he chose his side. It was an event that redefined the Marvel universe and the people who lived there.
As the follow-up to Captain America The Winter Soldier, it is more of an Avengers movie than Age of Ultron. While the last Avengers movie was a fun film with a memorable villain it was a bit lacking in momentum. The state of thing at the end of Winter Solider seem more accurately portrayed here. While Age of Ultron's finale sets the event in motion, film felt it was taking the eye off the ball.
After a mission in Nigeria goes south for Cap and his team pressure builds. This leads to the UN decision to register the Avengers and take direct control of their actions. Setting the stage for the Civil War to come. Tony agrees that the team need oversight. Cap is more hesitant and wary of taking orders from a group that can influenced by politics. He trusts himself and his teammates more than and organization, even one as noble as the UN.
This spirals out of control when the presence of the Winter Soldier shows. Whether his actions are his own or murderous programing creates a clear battle line. Cap and his closest allies become fugitives as they try and track down Bucky. And the remaining Avengers go after them. It all winds up in a huge battle at an airport featuring the lion share of the established Marvel heroes.
Two of the newest editions are the stand out stars of the movie. Black Panther is personal favorite of mine and brought to the screen wonderfully. Driven by personal loss he hunts the Winter Soldier across the planet. His nobility, cunning, and amazing ability is well represented. Also he and the kingdom he hails from is set for the solo movie he'll be headlining down the road.
Speaking of establishing, Spider-man is ushering into the Marvel Cinematic Universe finally. It's good to see Marvel bring one of it's brightest stars home. He is a delight. The humor, youth, and intelligence of the character shines through. It comes with a lot of hand waving. A convent excuse of Tony Stark's leads to a high tech suit no kid from queens could build himself. Even the dynamic eyes he has on the suit have context in the story. Peter Parker's Spider Sense can overload requiring a shuttler to limit his senses. And he talks, a lot. He is curious, excitable, and comes off as the kid who grew up in the marvel universe he should be.
Both characters are a vanguard for the future of the film franchise. As Civil War does. I'm impressed at the lack of death in the movie. This is the personal battles of superpowerd people and the collateral is toned down. I can not expressed how excited I was that a villain finally survives the adventure. As Hollywood seems to need to kill any bad guy by the end. Also no major city blows up. So the overreach of destruction seems to have maybe peaked in the wake of Man of Steel.
It was great film. It has carries the flaws of the Marvel comics. The fear anything that happens can be undone or deemphasized by future entries. But still its a great ride full of character moments and weighty storytelling. Even cameos from heroes like Ant-Man are dripping with charm. THe future looks bright and I for one am glad we got back world building and characters. Because the spectacle needed reigned in. And Civil War brings it down to the boots on the ground while still holding on to the awe of super heroes brought to life.
I have a habit that has begun the steady march toward a tradition. When I am hurt, sick, and trapped at home I play Plauge Inc. If you are not familiar with Nedemic Creations little pandemic builder let me be the first to introduce you.
In this crafty mobile game you are a force of nature. A guiding hand that helps an disease travel the world, mutating and growing, until you are virulent and lethal enough to wipe out the entire human population. There are different ways to accomplish this. First you will need to decide what kind of pathogen you wish to be. You could guide bacteria, viruses, parasites, or more exotic creatures such as nano machines and bio-weapons. Then you choose your starting point on earth. Some times it is best to start in the third world where populations are dense and healthcare is primitive. The first world is dangerous as the various world health organizations will come after you. But the access to planes and other forms of travel help you spread across the globe faster. After you begin it is a game of making wise choices about how your plague adapts. In many scenarios its best to focus on spreading out before mutating into a truly deadly disease. The less lethal the plague is the less the medical community comes after you. And if you spread everywhere and then become deadly you'll have a good shot at killing the people that could make a cure against you.
So why is this game about wiping out the whole of human existence my go to sick day game? Because it is way more fun to be sick if you imagine that your not just down with a cold. No it's more fun to pretend you are the patient zero of a worldwide super bug that will end it all. Better to have Captain Trips then the sniffles.
Not that long ago in a world very, very close... STAR WARS Episode VII opens to the held breaths of millions of fans. Would it be? Could it be? The movie everyone wanted it to be. Was that even possible?
Well no film can satisfy all viewers but perhaps no film has ever been this successful at trying. Regardless of your age or investment in the lore or opinions of the prequels; this movie is for you. It somehow crafts a story that serves all masters and ends up still with something to say.
The story of Rey, Finn, Poe, and BB-8 is very reminiscent of the first tale of Luke, Leia, and Han. Following so close to these footsteps only true flaw of The Force Awakens. This stays within the auspices of myth. And feels more like an homage rather then a retelling. The shifting of the key moments keep it interesting. Albeit the super weapon, Starkiller Base, is perhaps a bit to close to the Death Stars that plagued the heroes of the original trilogy. And planets like Jakku feel more like lost corners of Tatoonie rather then new worlds. But in the end fresh new places and creatures out weigh the call backs.
More so then world building, the characters truly shine. Having Han Solo and Chewbacca back in the saddle is charming and give the warmth of being home. Electrifying new stars like the powerful Rey and the instantly relatable Finn usher the films to a new era. Kylo Wren's complex character steals the show in all his appearances. The First Order and the Resistance stand in for the Empire and Rebels with out being a carbon copy. Again this journey is familiar but with a cast that is so different that it goes a long way to feeling all new. This trip into the stars leads down many unexpected paths. It propels you at breakneck speed to an ending that is a breathless moment of pure excitement.
There is little I can add. Suffice to say it is a great movies. Since the statement has been done to death I'll submit here to the chorus; it's the one you've been waiting for. Go see it. You won't be disappointed. The force is strong with this one.
"Yippee Ki Yay! Mother-..." Rings through my house, a sign of the holiday season. Just as St.Nick will decend the chimney, Hans Gruber will fall from the 30th floor of the Nakatomi Plaza Building. You see Die Hard (and it sequel for that matter) are part of the collection of movies I watch every December. Why? Because they are great Christmas movies. Just maybe not of the same mold as Miracle on 34th Street.
There is a wonderful little sub genre of films that feature Christmas, but are not really Christmas movies. That sideways look at the Yule times is fascinatingly charming to me. These flicks take place in the season but aren't necessarily about it. And in all honesty they sort of end up punching the Christmas feel way more then films that focus on it. Here in the US the end of the year is dominated by the holiday. So it stands as no surprise that writers would pen stories about Christmas time. It's a surprisingly mundane magic. Every year red and green, winter and reindeer, Santa and baby Jesus; invade every corner of culture. The drowning of holiday cheer is inescapable. And many still mine great stuff out of the the universal themes of family, charity, goodwill, and peace. December is a rare time for reflection on the human condition. And maybe the best time to have people listen to an hopeful view of things. Even if these off beat movies tend to begin with a strong sense of cynicism for the very messages they deliver.
Let's take what I mentioned earlier, Die Hard. The movie is the adventure of John McClaine saving his wife and thirty some odd hostages from a group of armed men inside the ill fated Nakatomi building. While it is an action movie born of the ultra violent 80s, it is surprising how appropriate it is to be set at Christmas. At first glance the season is just a backdrop to hand wave the company party everyone is attending. Let's start by looking at the fractured relationship between New York cop John and his estranged upcoming corporate executive wife, Holly. She has moved some months earlier to LA to expand her job into a great career. Meanwhile not prepared for his wife to do so well John stayed behind. Stuck in his old way of thinking he has ruined there marriage. Now having flown out to the coast he tries to reconcile but keep screwing it up. But a surprise attack by robbers posing as terrorists dawarfs there problems. In there own ways the people they have become allows the threat to be thwarted. When the harrowing ordeal is over they come together as they are, not as they saw each other at the beginning. The tragedy has brought them together and they go home to celebrate the holidays with their kids. It is about the baggage we bring with us to the family reunions. The yearly reckoning where we judge our parents and children through the lens we build in there absence. And it sings home the importance of family coming together and embracing our loved ones as the flawed people they are.
It's sequel "Die Hard 2: Die Harder" finds the McClaines in the Washington DC attempting to meetup for the holidays again. This time the stain on the relationship is distance between them physically. As Holly is on one of the planes circling a hijacked air traffic control tower. As John fights off the terrorists in the jam packed airport. They deal once again with the obstacles that get in the way of the togetherness we seek for the holidays. It again ends with reunion and a Christmas song.
Other peripheral Christmas movies share this common matching of themes. They come in at an angle to the fundamental reasons for the season. Gremlins is a cautionary tale of responsibility and trust. Hook is the story of childhood wonderand how things change as age. Catch Me if you Can, lands on poignant moments each of the Christmases the period piece covers. Even Iron Man 3 connects with the undervaluing of our loved ones that seems to get righted at Christmas and New Years.
Perhaps it is just the time of the rolling year. That focus on hope. The hope that we can overcome the failings of the human condition. To be open to hearing a message of compassion and empathy. To feel for our fellow man. To believe in the childlike optimism we pull out of the crawl space with the Christmas tree. And by tying our stories to this introspective time of year we hope to capture a little of that receptiveness. To wish that the lessons we teach in our films are taken to heart. Either way, this magnetic time is a great plus to many, many movies. Few things serve as an axis through the whole of our lives like Christmas time. And I hope it's something that our stories continue to explore whether or not we put Christmas in the title.
MUHBOMM - Waiting
Did you know we are, like what, less then two weeks away from a new Star Wars? I know right? This is big, this is very big. This is ask your prom date out class big. And it is a about as nerve wracking. At least to me.
Let me lay it out here. (And let me say a WALL of a review is coming to the December 20th MUHBOMM.) After all these years I am super excited by all the obvious return to form elements in play. I am excited to see what Han Solo is like in his later years. I want to get back into the falcon and see what reception that new deflector dish gets. I want sweet lightsaber fights with new three bladed sabers. I want to get to know new characters like Finn, Rey, and Poe. I want X-Wings shooting at TIE fighters again. I want everything that has to do with BB-8. All my childhood self is doing is screaming at the top of his lungs, This is AWESOME!
But fear creeps in. Why is there a world the seems, other than a crashed Star Destroyer, to be a stand in for Tatoonie? Jakku's character is the same too. It is a copy just with out all the baggage. But Star Wars trades in Buck Rodgers type single terrain planets. Two identical places makes the galaxy seem small. I mean there are other ways to do a desert backwater teeming with scum and villainy. The new snow world is certainly not Hoth. But it could hit the same themes of cold, isolation, and hostility. Also since that place maybe a Death Star, do we need another movie to focus on a super weapon? Also Kylo Wren better be just evil. I'm a big proponent of Yoda's view that, "once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny." I am unmoved by all this silly grey area stuff that dominates modern media. It has a place, yet I don't believe it belongs in a good vs evil myth like Star Wars. Grumble.
I'm not sure there has ever been a more tight lipped marketing campaign, ever. And that acts like a pressure cooker for all these unknowns. It becomes hard to stay calm and not explode into a gibbering mass of fanboy angst. Plus Disney is a bit of an unknown. They have a poor track record dealing with properties they don't own. Sometimes these are creative differences that alienates it from the source. Other times it's just failing to connect the best elements of a property to an audience. There are examples as far back as Marry Poppins. A great film but very different from the original. Also the cultural mismatch of a Disney animated version of The Black Cauldron. Of course there are also the modern disasters such as Prince of Persia, John Carter, and The Lone Ranger. They just haven't been good at playing in other people's sandboxes.
All that said they haven't done anything recently to deserve my mistrust. Star Wars Rebels is a great show. It's full of the characters, situations, and flavor I come to this property for. And despite my large fears at the time, they haven't mussed anything up major in Marvels endeavors. But...
But this is Star Wars. And there is perhaps no film legacy more important to me. No touchstone is bigger in my life. So yeah, it is the worse of times but it is also the best. I haven't been this excited since 1999. But either way it goes, the waiting is killing me.
What the heck is this? Glad you asked! This the fist edition of MUHBOMM! "No, I know that," you say? "I meant what heck IS a MUHBOMM? Some sort of bomb? Some social media app for tweens? A product of speaking in tounges? Some sort of slag for a venereal disease?" No, at least not to my knowledge. So hopefully not...
Nope, MUHBOMM are a thoughtfully clunky acronym for
Mac Updates His Blog On Monday, Mondays
On every MUHBOMM I'll update MPIII.ME with nonsense that escapes my head with aims to infect yours. Oh, lucky you.
See ya around! -MPIII
Yet another fantastic 48 Horor Film Project in the can. I twas an amazing year. We some how drafted Mad Scientiest / Frankenstien again, but no matter, we jumped in. Deciding to make something more a kin to a spoof we pounded out a script highlighting our main ingredients. It turned out great!
Check out "Mind over Meow"
It was that time of year again. Time fo the 48 Hour Film Project. It's been a whirlwind since the last time we were here. A year of amazing things.
This time drew the dreaded western and musical genre. Be we took it head on. Our Character was Seth or Sara Tremaine, Our prop was a mug, and Our line was "You can't take it with you."
check out The Best Outlaws Ever.
Well our little production troupe made another little video. This one we cooked up after the holidays. It is a clever twist on the Scrooge story.
Check it out at the Gaff Tape & Prayer channel
After our award winning film last year, our teammate moved down to Austin, Texas. And of course we saw this as an opportunity to get into two 48 hour film projects. Gathering an amazing talent pool together the folks calling themselves "Media Offline" built something amazing. Working over the net I was able to help do some of the writing. Our local VFX wizard actually headed south and pitched in. With three team members working on it from the original Gaff Tape & a Prayer it felt like opening another branch. But really it turned into something original and amazing.
Check out ["Liability"](http://youtu.be/A61xG_Eft_A)
Wow, what an amazing trip. For those who have never had the chance to attend a Penny Aracade Expo I cannot recommend it enough. They have been, in my experience, some of the nicest and most enjoyable conventions I have attended. Attendees are polite and cool folk. Panels are engaging. The sellers are great. And it is one of the few places you get the opportunity to mingle with video game creators outside of trade shows.
Thanks to a robust and friendly community, even tried my hand at the wacky world of costuming this year. Cosplay has always been well represented at PAX and while I'm not sure my StarLord costume knocked it out of the park I had a blast! But seriously my good friend's Cobra Commander is just awesome.
A fun way to get a way for a while. Enjoy a bit of geek culture and community.