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Archive for the ‘Film’ topic

Jojo in the Stars

jojo-in-the-stars

Pica Towers

In the days before YouTube — when video was still scarcely sprinkled over the internet — a moody website popped up with three short 1 minute animations called Pica Towers. The series was a disturbing glimpse into a distopian world. It focused around the life in a sky scraping tower — somewhere in the middle of a desolate nowhere — inhabited by strange robot like creatures. It is here where we witness some really awful and horrific scenes, yet we never quite make out what’s really going on , or why, if there even is a why.

The shorts were released in the following order:

There will be no comfort. Close the doors!

The success of the series led to a fourth and longer animation in 2004 called “Jojo in the Stars“. Not only do we finally learn more about the tower, it’s also a classic love story where the heart is stronger than struggle and abandon, or good looks for that matter. And before you start thinking: robot like creatures can’t possibly fall in love with each other; In a way, one might consider this the darker version of Pixar’s “WALL-E”.

Pica Towers and Jojo in the Stars were created by Marc Craste from Studio AKA.

Feeling a little bit out of place

skhizein_man_with_telescope

Skhizein is a story about a man feeling a little bit out of place. 91 centimeters out of place to be exact. After a tragic encounter with a meteorite, his life is just not the same anymore. He must learn to cope in a world that doesn’t understand his predicament, of simply doesn’t care. Sometimes he meets with success, and sometimes he doesn’t. But suffering from such a rare affliction does make for an original storyline.

This wonderful little short animation is in French, but it does have English subtitles.

A Stop Motion Tilt Shift Music Video

Tilt shift stop motion video of a helicopter rescue mission at sea

This music video uses a technique called tilt shift photography. Tilt shift lenses are – as the name indicates – able to be tilted and shifted relative to the camera sensor. These special lenses are mostly used in architectural photography where images taken with a normal lens tend to suffer from heavy perspective distortion. Lines that should appear parallel from each other start to converge to a single point instead. But by using tilt shift lenses, photographers can ‘bend’ light in a controlled manner, neutralizing the effects of the perspective distortion, and thus making lines look straight again.

But by overdoing this technique, one can achieve the effect of turning real world scenes into toy like looking models. The shallow depth of field and over saturated colors enforce this idea. It’s the complete opposite of what Hollywood films tend to do: film small models and then make them appear larger than life. Either way, it gives us a completely different look on our world.

Keith Loutit, photographer in question has also made other such video’s such as North Wind Blew South.

View Cameras

view camera Tilt shift photography originated from the accordion like view cameras. Because the photographic plate was only connected to the lens plate by a accordion folded bellow, both plates could be moved independently from each other, letting the photographer distort his image anyway he wanted. These cameras however are mostly only still used by die hard photographers for landscape and studio photography as they quite large, heavy and unwieldy to use.

And for those interested, Canon has just released a new 24mm tilt shift lens for their EOS DSLR line up. It’s a lot more versatile then their previous version and a lot easier to carry around than a view camera.

The Mysterious Explorations of Jasper Morello

jasper_morello

We find ourselves in the city of Gothia, where Jasper Morello, the navigational aeronaut aboard an airship, is sent out on a mission to layout a new trading route. Half way through, the trip goes horribly wrong and they must abandon ship, making their way through uncharted territory. To add to his troubles, Jasper discovers his beloved wife, whom he has had to leave behind in Gothia, has become deadly sick. But can he still return home in time to save her, and if so, at what cost?

This is a beautifully animated short with a strong and engaging story line. The narration is simply well done. And while it makes extensive use of CGI, it has been fashioned in the old Indonesian style of silhouette theatre, giving it a very distinct and moody look. It was nominated for an Oscar in 2004. Though I still haven’t seen them, three other sequels have been made since then, detailing the explorations of Jasper Morello. This animation is almost half an hour long, but it’s defiantly worth the time.

The animation is just short of half an hour long, but it is definitely worth experiencing.

Animation: Alien vs. Coffee Machine

An alien appearing from a cargo bay... scary stuff

A cargo ship is on its way to some distant destination. The pilot suffering from a bad case of travel enui settles in for another day of absolute boredom behind the helm of his ship. It’s just another day in space… or is it?

Game Theory Applied to ‘Batman, the Dark Knight’

Batman pondering game theory late at night

I kind of find it hard to believe that a movie based on a comic super hero was one of the best films of 2008. This is partly because not that many good movies were released that year, but also because ‘Batman, the Dark Night’ offers more than just the mindless entertainment you would expect from such a block buster. Most recent super hero films have tried to make the genre more interesting by making their villains more nuanced. Lex Luthor in Superman is a prime example of the well respected society man by day, and evil doing genius by night.

The Joker in the latest installment of the Batman franchise however bucks this trend. He has no visible nuances at all. He’s just plain psychopathic. But it’s his evil deeds that are quite remarkable: He’s not really out for personal gain and greed like most common bad guys. Instead, he’s simply intent on creating mayhem. And not just any sort of mayhem. He also has a penchant for placing his victims in situations where they have to make really difficult choices. This because on one hand, no matter what choice they make, the outcome is most likely always going to be bad. More interestingly though: many times, that choice is also influenced by the decisions of others instead of coming from just one individual. And this is where game theory comes into play.

If you haven’t seen the Batman film or “A Beautiful Mind”, the following may contain spoilers.

Continue reading…

Short Film: World Builder

Woman walking down a the streets of a virtual world created by a man that loves her

Synopsis: “A strange man builds a world using holographic tools for the woman he loves.”

Really well done and how I would love to have a tool such as the one as in this short film. Then again, I would probably risc creating my own world and never ever leaving it again. The short was done by Bruce Branit, the same person that also worked on another wonderful little film several years ago: flight 405 (and its official site). Using only cheap off-the-shelf soft- and hardware, it was ground breaking at the time. It opened the door to any creative with a good idea and lots of hard work, to create a hollywood style production from the comfort of their home at a reasonable budget. (via kottke)

Kate Winslet Caught in the Act

Kate Winslet giving advice on how to phone sex in Extras.

This seems like a fitting post, especially now that she’s finally won an Academy Award for best leading actress in ‘The Reader’.

For most of us however, Kate Winslet’s greatest contribution to mankind must be that single most iconic scene from the film: ‘The Titanic’. For since then, any man or woman, setting foot on a boat or ship, will always be plagued by the irresistible urge to stand at its bow, with arms stretched wide and open.

Phone Sex

But it is her appearance in the comedy sit-com called ‘Extras’, that’s pure comic genius and just as memorable. ‘Extras’ revolves around Andy, a struggling actor with aspirations of one day making it big. But in the mean time, he has to make do with the actor’s equivalent of breadcrumbs: playing as an extra in the shadow of stars.

In this particular episode, he’s been given a small role as a German foot soldier in a movie about the Holocaust. The films lead role of a devout nun is played and portrayed beautifully by Kate Winslet. But in between takes – and still dressed as a nun – she freely exalts her advice on how to talk dirty on the phone to one of her colleagues in need. But then, she takes it a bit too far and gets caught.

The Bloody Olive: A Short Film Noir

Veerle Van Overloop in the short film noir: The Bloody Olive

Shot in black and white, Werner and Mylene are both preparing for a cozy Christmas evening at home. All of a sudden, the festive mood is disturbed by the ringing of the doorbell. An unexpected guest has arrived. Or is he so unexpected?

The Bloody Olive takes the genre of the old film noirs to an absurd new level. In just ten short minutes, we are introduced to a love triangle, betrayal, double crosses, murder, and so many plot twists and turns, it’ll make your head spin. The result is hilarious as you struggle to figure out what could possibly happen next.

It’s a short that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s also not so much a parody in the classical sense, but more of a playful wink to the genre. A well shot film with some great camera angles, wonderful light & shadow play, the story pacing is right and the acting is subliminally brilliant.

My favorite moment: Warner’s expression when he first discovers his wife is still alive.

A Belgian production. Dutch spoken. English subtitles.

Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds Trailer

film_tarantino_inglorious_basterds

While I still have to see the Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Brad Pitt hasn’t been sitting still. He’ll soon be starring in the next Quentin Tarantino installment: “Inglorious Basterds”. This one takes place during WWII. It’s about a secret handpicked American army unit dropped in German held France. Their mission? Strike fear, terror and do some really, really bad things to the occupying Nazi’s. Having seen the trailer, it looks like a typical Tarantino with lots of his signature dialogue scenes mixed with plenty of gore to go.

I only hope it’s a lot better than his last film: “Death Proof” from the Grind House experiment. There was so much dialogue in it about nothing, I almost fell asleep. The other half of Grind House, Planet Terror, was, on the other hand, so over the top, it was actually quite fun to watch.

But if Tarantino’s latest film is anything on par with Kill Bill, it will be worth the wait.

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