postFriday, 25 January 2008

Marvel Superheros Back in Action

The Thor Movei is now officially back on track with Marvel signing an interim deal with the WGA Marvel Studios have signed an interim deal with the Writer Guild of America, which means they will be able to begin hiring writers to work on their projects effective immediately. Marvel are launching their first two film productions (Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk) this summer (US). With Thor, Captain America, Ant-Man and The Avengers in development.

This means that Marvel will have the upper hand for the 2009/2010 film years. This will put a lot of pressure on the other studios to end the strike. Warner Bros. has already had to postpone it's Justice League movie.

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postThursday, 24 January 2008

Review: Save Buckets

Save Buckets - apparently they are endangered.For all those South Africans living in the UK looking to save a couple of bucks take a look at Save Buckets a price comparison site.

In this day and age of affiliate marketing sites are popping up left, right and center trying to direct traffic to other sites to make sales. Some even go so far as to give you the option of multiple sites at the same time. I’m sure there are some people that will have their 2 cents worth of negative opinions about sites such as this but I for one think they are fantastic. To simply be able to go to one location and compare prices saves a hell of a lot of time.

Save Buckets has a simple layout, which allows for easy navigation. They also do not throw thousands of prices at you from every angle like some similar sites, which means you are not overwhelmed by a barrage of numbers.

Plus, they have a feature called ‘My Price’ where you can tell them how much you are willing to spend on an item and they will email you the moment it becomes available within your price range. So go on try get an iPod Touch for £20, you never know maybe one day in 2 years you’ll get an email informing you. Anyway speaking of the iPod Touch I ran a search on Save Bucks and they returned some good results (about £30 cheaper than the regular price).

My only problem with the service is that it seems like everything is getting done manually. For instance the search for 8GB iPod Touch revealed one link to an iPod Touch that contained 13 different prices but there were also a few individual results that did not merge with that one. It would be better if all the prices for one item were listed on one page.

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postWednesday, 23 January 2008

Heath Ledger is Dead

Academy Award nominated actor Heath Ledger died yesterday at 28.

Heath Ledger dead at 28 By now the news of Ledger's death has circled frantically round the net and major media networks. At about 10:30pm South African time on January 22nd Ledger was found dead in his New York apartment. If you are looking for detailed speculation you can read the press coverage at either E! or IMDB.

The discovery shocked me, probably because unlike Owen Wilson, Ledger did not survive and unlike Brad Renfro (who died last week) Ledger's career was only just beginning to take off. Of course Ledger already had an impressive resume having received an Academy Award nomination for Brokeback Mountain. In fact I skimmed over the first announcement I saw at IMDB because I assumed Ledger's picture was simply up for a story regarding his comments of yesterdays Oscar nominations.

Ledger launched his career in the teen comedy Ten Things I Hate About You and although the film was better than the average teen comedy it did not speak volumes for his calibre as an actor. Ledger then appeared in two commercial films The Patriot with Mel Gibson and A Knights Tale.

After this Ledger went about trying to strip himself of the teen idol vibe that had infected him, taking a small role in the critically acclaimed masterpiece Monster's Ball (giving viewers a glimpse of his potential). He followed this with the serious but also disastrous Four Feathers.

Then Ledger stopped appearing in larger productions and appeared in smaller films. This is probably the main reason why when Ledger popped up in a film about gay cowboys most people couldn't believe the critical praise Ledger was receiving for his performance.

Ledger's performance in Brokeback was a finely nuanced portrayal of a man who was restricted from emoting his desires. It was breathtaking. For the sake of eulogy, I will put the mask of machoism aside and admit that I cried like a baby at the end of that film.

After watching Brokeback I think it would have been hard for anyone to see Ledger as the teen hunk he was originally viewed as anymore. He broke out as an actor of the highest calibre. This summer he is set to return to the big screen in a major studio production, The Dark Knight, the latest Batman film, as The Joker.

When Ledger was originally announced there was a fair amount of protest from Batman fans. However, after the footage from the trailers and other promotional material was released his critics were silent. Of what early footage of The Dark Knight has been seen it seems as though Ledger's performance will replace Jack Nicholson's as the definitive Joker performance (and possibly comic book villain). Of course seeing Ledger up on the big screen most likely for the last time posthumously is bound to add an extra chill to the performance.

It will be interesting to see what becomes of the Ledger legacy. At only 28 and just beginning to step into his prime one has to wonder if his death will leave the kind of mark that James Dean's did. It is not often that the tragic death of an actor can leave the kind of iconic mark on society that is usually reserved to musicians but Ledger just may be able to pull it off. Either, way Ledger's death is a terrible tragedy for the film industry.

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postTuesday, 22 January 2008

Not So Great Expectations

What do you expect from an article about expectations? Hopefully not much... other than some really neat philosophy that is!

Who cares if he has nothing to do with expectations, Gizmo is cool. Expectations play a major part in our lives. Probably far greater than most of us realize. Somewhere along the course of our existence a ludicrous amount of expectations are implanted into us. Some of these come from formal systems of thought such as religion and art, while others spurn from social interaction and advertising. One could quite easily write a book about the various ways we become entwined with expectations but that is not the purpose of this post.

Rather I would like to take the opportunity to look at expectations and their relationship with pleasure. It is clear that there is a definite link between the two. If ones expectations are met or exceeded there is usually some form of pleasure felt. On the other hand if ones expectations are not met there is usually some form of negative emotion invoked.

One of these negative emotions is anger. If you buy a new DVD player and it doesn't work you will get angry. It doesn't matter if you brought a region 1 DVD player when all your DVD's are region 2, what matters is that you expected your DVD player to play your DVD's. So at first your anger will be directed at your DVD player but then when your realize that it was your mistake you may redirect your anger upon yourself or to the sales-assistant who assured you that it would work with region 2 DVD's.

But maybe you don't get angry. Maybe instead you become disappointed and maybe this leads to serious depression. The point is that when expectations are not met some form of negative emotions usually consume us and obviously this is a relative process – the higher ones expectations and the less they are met the more negative the reaction.

I'm sure almost everyone has been in a situation when they have received test results back and have been rather pleased with their mediocre pass, only to hear how disappointed someone who got 89% is that they didn't get over 90%.

Now if one wanted to make some kind of meta-claim it could be, “Expectations are the root of all evil”. This might be a bit extreme but hey all meta-claims are. Anyway it is fairly safe to say that if you want to enjoy life more lower your expectations.

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Oscar Nominations

"You like me! You really like me!" So here are the Oscar nominations for this year... "What do you mean you don't really like me? Asshole.The Oscar nominations have been announced and although this was a year with many films battling for a spot there are few surprises. Awards season favorites No Country for Old Men and There Will be Blood lead the Best Picture nominees with 8 nominations each. Following close behind are Atonement and Michael Clayton with 7 each and trailing at the back is Juno with 4 nominations.

But don't feel bad for the 'expecting' comedy as it generated more nominations then anticipated after nabbing a well deserved but surprising nod for director Jason Reitman. What's more upsetting is the strong showing of the bland Clooney starrer Michel Clayton, however, there is little chance that this picture will receive any silverware.

Other surprises include the poor showing for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Sweeney Todd (which walked away with the Golden Globe for best comedy) further cementing the opinion that the Globes mean nothing when it comes to the Oscars.

Personally I am also unhappy with the poor representation of Into the Wild,which in my opinion was one of the strongest films of the year and both Hirsch and Penn deserved nominations. Finally, Ryan Gosling fans will be disappointed to see that he failed to get a nomination for early favorite Lars and the Real Girl.

Here is the full list of nominations pasted straight from the press release:

Performance by an actor in a leading role

George Clooney in “Michael Clayton” (Warner Bros.)

Daniel Day-Lewis in “There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax)

Johnny Depp in “Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”
(DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount)

Tommy Lee Jones in “In the Valley of Elah” (Warner Independent)

Viggo Mortensen in “Eastern Promises” (Focus Features)

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

Casey Affleck in “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” (Warner Bros.)

Javier Bardem in “No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)

Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Charlie Wilson’s War” (Universal)

Hal Holbrook in “Into the Wild” (Paramount Vantage and River Road Entertainment)

Tom Wilkinson in “Michael Clayton” (Warner Bros.)

Performance by an actress in a leading role

Cate Blanchett in “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” (Universal)

Julie Christie in “Away from Her” (Lionsgate)

Marion Cotillard in “La Vie en Rose” (Picturehouse)

Laura Linney in “The Savages” (Fox Searchlight)

Ellen Page in “Juno” (Fox Searchlight)

Performance by an actress in a supporting role

Cate Blanchett in “I’m Not There” (The Weinstein Company)

Ruby Dee in “American Gangster” (Universal)

Saoirse Ronan in “Atonement” (Focus Features)

Amy Ryan in “Gone Baby Gone” (Miramax)

Tilda Swinton in “Michael Clayton” (Warner Bros.)

Best animated feature film of the year

Persepolis” (Sony Pictures Classics) Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud

Ratatouille” (Walt Disney) Brad Bird

Surf's Up” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Ash Brannon and Chris Buck

Achievement in art direction

American Gangster” (Universal)
Art Direction: Arthur Max
Set Decoration: Beth A. Rubino

Atonement” (Focus Features)
Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood
Set Decoration: Katie Spencer

The Golden Compass” (New Line in association with Ingenious Film Partners)
Art Direction: Dennis Gassner
Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock

Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount)
Art Direction: Dante Ferretti
Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo

There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax)
Art Direction: Jack Fisk
Set Decoration: Jim Erickson

Achievement in cinematography

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” (Warner Bros.) Roger Deakins

Atonement” (Focus Features) Seamus McGarvey

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” (Miramax/Pathé Renn) Janusz Kaminski

No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) Roger Deakins

There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax) Robert Elswit

Achievement in costume design

Across the Universe” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Albert Wolsky

Atonement” (Focus Features) Jacqueline Durran

Elizabeth: The Golden Age” (Universal) Alexandra Byrne

La Vie en Rose” (Picturehouse) Marit Allen

Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount) Colleen Atwood

Achievement in directing

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” (Miramax/Pathé Renn) Julian Schnabel

Juno” (Fox Searchlight) Jason Reitman

Michael Clayton” (Warner Bros.) Tony Gilroy

No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax) Paul Thomas Anderson

Best documentary feature

No End in Sight” (Magnolia Pictures)
A Representational Pictures Production
Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs

Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience” (The Documentary Group)
A Documentary Group Production
Richard E. Robbins

Sicko” (Lionsgate and The Weinstein Company)
A Dog Eat Dog Films Production
Michael Moore and Meghan O’Hara

Taxi to the Dark Side” (THINKFilm)
An X-Ray Production
Alex Gibney and Eva Orner

War/Dance” (THINKFilm)
A Shine Global and Fine Films Production
Andrea Nix Fine and Sean Fine

Best documentary short subject

A Lieutenant Films Production
Cynthia Wade and Vanessa Roth

La Corona (The Crown)
A Runaway Films and Vega Films Production
Amanda Micheli and Isabel Vega

Salim Baba
A Ropa Vieja Films and Paradox Smoke Production
Tim Sternberg and Francisco Bello

Sari’s Mother” (Cinema Guild)
A Daylight Factory Production
James Longley

Achievement in film editing

The Bourne Ultimatum” (Universal) Christopher Rouse

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” (Miramax/Pathé Renn) Juliette Welfling

Into the Wild” (Paramount Vantage and River Road Entertainment) Jay Cassidy

No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) Roderick Jaynes

There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax) Dylan Tichenor

Best foreign language film of the year

Beaufort” A Metro Communications, Movie Plus Production

The Counterfeiters” An Aichholzer Filmproduktion, Magnolia Filmproduktion Production

Katyń” An Akson Studio Production

Mongol” A Eurasia Film Production

12” A Three T Production

Achievement in makeup

La Vie en Rose” (Picturehouse) Didier Lavergne and Jan Archibald

Norbit” (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount) Rick Baker and Kazuhiro Tsuji

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” (Walt Disney) Ve Neill and Martin Samuel

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)

Atonement” (Focus Features) Dario Marianelli

The Kite Runner” (DreamWorks, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment and Participant Productions, Distributed by Paramount Classics) Alberto Iglesias

Michael Clayton” (Warner Bros.) James Newton Howard

Ratatouille” (Walt Disney) Michael Giacchino

3:10 to Yuma” (Lionsgate) Marco Beltrami

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)

Falling Slowly” from “Once”
(Fox Searchlight)
Music and Lyric by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova

Happy Working Song” from “Enchanted”
(Walt Disney)
Music by Alan Menken
Lyric by Stephen Schwartz

Raise It Up” from “August Rush”
(Warner Bros.)
Nominees to be determined

So Close” from “Enchanted”
(Walt Disney)
Music by Alan Menken
Lyric by Stephen Schwartz

That’s How You Know” from “Enchanted”
(Walt Disney)
Music by Alan Menken
Lyric by Stephen Schwartz

Best motion picture of the year

Atonement” (Focus Features)
A Working Title Production
Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Paul Webster, Producers

Juno” (Fox Searchlight)
A Dancing Elk Pictures, LLC Production
Lianne Halfon, Mason Novick and Russell Smith, Producers

Michael Clayton” (Warner Bros.)
A Clayton Productions, LLC Production
Sydney Pollack, Jennifer Fox and Kerry Orent, Producers

No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
A Scott Rudin/Mike Zoss Production
Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers

There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax)
A JoAnne Sellar/Ghoulardi Film Company Production
JoAnne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Lupi, Producers

Best animated short film

I Met the Walrus
A Kids & Explosions Production
Josh Raskin

Madame Tutli-Putli” (National Film Board of Canada)
A National Film Board of Canada Production
Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski

Même Les Pigeons Vont au Paradis (Even Pigeons Go to Heaven)” (Premium Films)
A BUF Compagnie Production
Samuel Tourneux and Simon Vanesse

My Love (Moya Lyubov)” (Channel One Russia)
A Dago-Film Studio, Channel One Russia and Dentsu Tec Production
Alexander Petrov

Peter & the Wolf” (BreakThru Films)
A BreakThru Films/Se-ma-for Studios Production
Suzie Templeton and Hugh Welchman

Best live action short film

At Night
A Zentropa Entertainments 10 Production
Christian E. Christiansen and Louise Vesth

Il Supplente (The Substitute)” (Sky Cinema Italia)
A Frame by Frame Italia Production
Andrea Jublin

Le Mozart des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets)” (Premium Films)
A Karé Production
Philippe Pollet-Villard

Tanghi Argentini” (Premium Films)
An Another Dimension of an Idea Production
Guido Thys and Anja Daelemans

The Tonto Woman
A Knucklehead, Little Mo and Rose Hackney Barber Production
Daniel Barber and Matthew Brown

Achievement in sound editing

The Bourne Ultimatum” (Universal)
Karen Baker Landers and Per Hallberg

No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
Skip Lievsay

Ratatouille” (Walt Disney)
Randy Thom and Michael Silvers

There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax)
Matthew Wood

Transformers” (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro)
Ethan Van der Ryn and Mike Hopkins

Achievement in sound mixing

The Bourne Ultimatum” (Universal)
Scott Millan, David Parker and Kirk Francis

No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter Kurland

Ratatouille” (Walt Disney)
Randy Thom, Michael Semanick and Doc Kane

3:10 to Yuma” (Lionsgate)
Paul Massey, David Giammarco and Jim Stuebe

Transformers” (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro)
Kevin O’Connell, Greg P. Russell and Peter J. Devlin

Achievement in visual effects

The Golden Compass” (New Line in association with Ingenious Film Partners)
Michael Fink, Bill Westenhofer, Ben Morris and Trevor Wood

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” (Walt Disney)
John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and John Frazier

Transformers” (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro)
Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Russell Earl and John Frazier

Adapted screenplay

Atonement” (Focus Features)
Screenplay by Christopher Hampton

Away from Her” (Lionsgate)
Written by Sarah Polley

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” (Miramax/Pathé Renn)
Screenplay by Ronald Harwood

No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen

There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax)
Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson

Original screenplay

Juno” (Fox Searchlight)
Written by Diablo Cody

Lars and the Real Girl” (MGM)
Written by Nancy Oliver

Michael Clayton” (Warner Bros.)
Written by Tony Gilroy

Ratatouille” (Walt Disney)
Screenplay by Brad Bird
Story by Jan Pinkava, Jim Capobianco, Brad Bird

The Savages” (Fox Searchlight)
Written by Tamara Jenkins

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postTuesday, 15 January 2008

Designer Clothes – Good Old Fashioned Redundancy

Monkey Boy takes on this flawed use of language by the yuppie army - yup... yup ...yup... Oh and there's a half naked male - for those who just want to look at half naked males.

Why Mr. Calvin Klein model is that a cock (oops Freudian slip) I mean sock or are you just happy to see me? Is there any other adjective used in contemporary society that is more idiotic then ‘designer’. Sure there’s the use of ‘neo’ in the term ‘neo-liberalism’. For one thing ‘neo-liberalism’ has been around for 30 years or so – technically it’s not new (neo) anymore. What it probably should be called is ‘not-liberalism’ or maybe we should start calling atheism neo-Christianity.

However, our use of designer still takes the cake. We throw it around like a baby in a trailer park and we never stop to think, “Hey, this is really stupid.” Sure at surface level it seems pretty sound – “It’s a designer T-shirt because it was designed by so and so and he’s a good designer.”

But then if you scratch a little below the surface (with a toothpick) the redundancy is revealed. To call something designer is to imply it has a designer but you’ll be hard pressed to find any item of clothing that doesn’t have a designer. Even a piece of crap T-shirt that you pick up from Pep was designed by someone.  

The fun doesn’t end here, however, we’ve extended the adjective to cover just about everything – designer beer, designer gel, designer... stubble. Why not just extend this to people? After all a large chunk of the world to some degree believe in intelligent design.

Aren’t we all then the work of that big lady in the sky? Tell people to come on over and check out your designer friends. Actually that’s probably the slogan on a mouldy happy clapper t-shirt that’s rotting away in the basement of some free roaming serial killer.

Here’s the point: using the term ‘designer’ as an adjective is good old fashioned redundancy. Let us all try step away from this ridiculous display of description and use words that actually make sense. After all no one says, “Hey do you want to come over to my house and check out my artist artwork.” At least no one I want to hang around with.

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postTuesday, 01 January 2008

Christmas Drought


“Yippee-ki-yay, mother fucker!” Quick now someone shoot Alan Rickman, William Sadler, Jeremy Irons and Timothy Olyphant. Happy New Year from The End. You may have noticed that this blog was hit by the Christmas drought that seems to hit the South African blogosphere in December (Only 4 posts).

There is bound to be a New Years Rush as people franticly attempt to stick to their New Years resolution to blog more. Anyway watch this blog for some major plot twists including some new team members and the possible death of an one. And from now on I'll be posting as Monkey Boy instead of The End, since this is more of a team blog now. Audious amigos.

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