Archive for June 2010

Filmstank Fun Facts: Pixar Animation Studios – by Dave

June 30, 2010

The world of cinematography is, in many ways, huge beyond measure. The budgets and reach are phenomenal, captivating audiences around the world, and stirring the emotions of billions- and that is no exaggeration. Yet amongst this it’s still a small world. There is nothing better to demonstrate this than Pixar Animation Studios, or Pixar for short.

Pixar Animation Studios

Pixar Characters

The history of Pixar is intriguing. Let me ask you: what do Han Solo from Star Wars and Toy Story 3 have in common? Pixar, that’s what! Pixar began its operations in 1979 as a graphics group, which was part a division of Lucasfilm. Does that name sound familiar? Yes it does! Lucasfilm was founded by none other than Sir George Lucas, the film production powerhouse behind Star Wars and Indiana Jones.

Pixar was aquired by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in 1986, after which it produced films including the original Toy Story in 1995, A Bugs Life in 1998, and Finding Nemo in 2001- and the name drppping could go on. It has been a huge success, turning a revenue of US $5.5 billion worldwide. The staggering financial success has also been met with award nominations….. and that’s all we have time for!

Toy Story 3 Film Review by Sam

June 29, 2010

I told myself I wouldn’t do a review of this film, and do you know why? Because this movie was so bloomin’ good! It was so flippin’ good that I thought I might ruin it for myself by writing a review. Plus, I didn’t know what to say, and I thought I should just leave it as an indescribable film-going experience. But, I eventually thought I should at least give you a small little taste of what I thought.

Let me stress, this is not a normal review, more like a heads up to go and watch this movie as soon as you possibly can.

Toy Story 3 Poster

I felt so joyful watching this film. Being reintroduced to all the characters, of which I adored when I was a young little tot, brought a strong sense of excitement inside of me, a feeling I don’t think I’ve felt when watching a film for some time.

The story was brilliant. Totally suitable for a final instalment, yet also leaving it somewhat open; should the producers decide to pursue more sequels. The old characters were their same, lovable, hilarious selves, and the new characters were a great addition to the series.

I’m not going to say anymore, you’ll just have to wait to go and watch it yourselves – and you should go watch it whilst it’s still playing at the cinema.

I wasn’t going to give this film a rating, but what the heck:

5 out of 5!

Filmstank Fun Facts: Will Smith – by Sam

June 28, 2010

So here at FilmStank, we thought it could be a cool idea to share some interesting (or at least what we think is interesting) film trivia every now and then. Who knows, maybe daily, maybe weekly, maybe it’ll jump all over the place – who knows? Generally, these will be short, fun facts and hopefully you’ll find them at least somewhat interesting.

Today, I thought I’d two fun facts about one of the biggest movie stars ever to grace our screens. Yes, as you may have read in the title, it is Will Smith.

Will Smith

Fun Fact number 1:

Did you know he was offered the role of Neo in The Matrix, one of the most influential films of the 90’s, if not of all time, and turned it down? This was a decision he said was the greatest regret of his career.

Do you know why he turned it down? To star in Wild Wild West, a critically panned film, which is also the film he most regrets making.

Fun Fact number 2:

Will was originally not going to star in Men In Black, arguably one of his biggest films, and only eventually accepted at the persuasion of his wife.

Interesting eh? I wonder where Smith would be had he chosen to star in The Matrix, and not to start in Men In Black. What do you think?

How I Rate the Films I Watch by Sam.

June 24, 2010

I just thought I would post a blog on why and how I rate films a certain way. This is in no way to justify my ratings, but it might help people understand what my thought process is when rating a film.

Firstly, there are my thought processes during the course of the film. If something particularly sticks out to me, it will remain at the forefront of my mind until I write the review. Sometimes no thoughts come to me – this is either because I’m so swept up in the film itself that I’m not pulled out of my zone. It may also be that I make a conscientious decision before I view a film that I am there merely for entertainment, and cannot be bothered attempting to make any thought analysis whilst I’m watching the film.

Then, there is my initial reaction towards the film, that is; when the credits begin to roll, and I get out of my seat and walk out the cinema doors, what is going through my head? Was I blown away, and even perhaps speechless at the film? Or perhaps I am just content to be entertained, or sometimes I will be shocked in a negative way, struggling to find the positive points of a film.

Obviously there is the moment when I actually sit down to write the review, and funnily enough I usually don’t actually decide on a rating until I’ve completed the written review. I re-read the review, make note of the positives and the negatives, and then decide on a rating. If this doesn’t sit well with me for whatever reason, I will usually change the rating, before the review is published to the site.

Let me point out, and I want to emphasise this point, that I also consider what the mark becomes if it is out of ten. So for example 3 out of 5 sounds quite good, but 6 out of 10 sounds just average. So sometimes I may give a 3 out of 5, even if it doesn’t seem to fit what I’ve stated in the review. “Why don’t I just make the rating system out of 10” I hear you ask? Well, to put it simply – I’m lazy. There are 11 possible ratings ranging from 0, with all the half marks up to 5, and if I were to have it out of 10, there would be 21 possible ratings, making it a harder task to rate – and quite simply, 5 is neater than 10.

I would like to say one more thing, one of which I haven’t implemented as of yet, but I have been considering it for some time. I usually write my reviews quite close to the time that I watched the film. This therefore means that over time, my opinion on the film may change. This may be due to a second viewing of the film, or perhaps someone may have commented on the review providing previously undiscovered insight (for example, I may or may not understand a scene, or may have missed a scene, which could change my whole opinion of the film if someone points it out). This therefore leads me to propose an idea. How would you feel if there were amended ratings, lets say, once a month?

Let me know in the poll below.

Right, now that you have potentially helped out with that, I will conclude this blog. Let me know your thoughts of the way I rate a film in the comment box below.

Cheers,

Sam.

Animal Kingdom Review by Sam

June 24, 2010

To be honest, I feel very fortunate to have been able to view the new Australian film, Animal Kingdom. It was recommended to me via my sister, who said she had heard some pretty good reviews in regards to it. Being an Aussie film, I was naturally sceptical at first, considering the fact that a good Australian made film is a rarity, and I haven’t watched a solid one since, I don’t know, Gallipoli? Naturally, I decided to watch the trailer to see what all the fuss was about. It was intrigued, and the biggest element that pulled me in to watch was the fact it had Guy Pearce in one of the leading roles. I then decided I should watch the film, and make my own assumptions – and I’m definitely glad I did.

Animal Kingdom Poster

Let me just quickly point out that I am generalising Australian cinema when I say that a good Australian made film is a rarity. There have been loads of exceptional films brought to you from the land down under, Gallipoli, The Piano, Babe, Shine and The Castle just to name a few pre-21st century ones, and I am in no way saying that there has been a lack of great Aussie films. Rather, I am stating that there has been a recent lack of brilliant Aussie films, and Animal Kingdom is the first in a long while.

To tell you the truth, I don’t think there was one thing about this film of which I didn’t enjoy, and I hold almost every element in high regards. So with that in mind, don’t expect to read about the negatives of this film, as I can’t think of any. Here we go.

Guy Pearce in Animal Kingdom

Guy Pearce - a strong drawing point.

The biggest stand out for me personally, and I’m sure for anyone who watched this film, was by far the acting. Every single person in this film did an outstanding job with the script, and rather than being aware that I was watching people act, I felt like I was simply watching people live, that is; the actors became who they were portraying. This was superior to any Australian film I’ve watched in a long time, and it was such a relief to not have to think about that element in a negative way. I want to give special mention to the protagonist, played by James Frecheville. Frecheville was outstanding, and the fact that this film was his debut came as a large surprise to me. A quick note also to Joel Edgerton and Guy Pearce, both of whom excelled in the characters they were portraying.

Additionally, the script was superb. Let me just say that for an Aussie film, it usually lacks a strong budget, which will in turn result in the lack of top notch actors and top notch cinematography and everything else, and so the script is usually all it has going for itself. So despite the fact Animal Kingdom had some good backing (money-wise) from the government and other various sources, the script still rates up there with one of the best Australian scripts in a long while. It was a great thing to know that whilst they did have some money, they didn’t just rely on that to create something good. It was obvious that writer and director David Michod put a lot of effort into the script.

On the note of David Michod, his direction of this film was great, and the decisions he made served the plot well. His dark and gritty style gave the film a realistic tone, which was great for the pacing of the plot, and emphasised the lifestyle these characters were leading.

Australian Cinema

Click for more iconic Australian Films

Some may think that the only reason I enjoyed this film so much was because it is an Australian film and in comparison to a lot of other recent Aussie films, it was great. In one sense, I will say that this is something that has crossed my mind, and yes it is true that this film is great in comparison to a lot of other Aussie films made in the past. But, I think that I would have enjoyed this film no matter where it came from, and no matter who, or what country for that matter made it. I just wanted to point that out.

One final thing before I dish out my rating, is that I believe this could be a possible contender to bring back the Aussie films into the Academy Awards spotlight, hopefully with a foreign film nomination (yes, Australian films can get this type of nomination), or even some other, more prominent awards.

Whew, okay, that’s done, and I can now give the rating.

I give it 4.5.

4.5 Film Reels

You may be asking what it the reason it didn’t get a 5 out of 5 when all I did was praise it? Well, let me just say, when I walk out of a cinema, I know when I’ve seen a perfect film, in my own mind that is. This happens very rarely, and is a unique feeling; one I cannot describe. But for Animal Kingdom, I did not experience this feeling, hence the 4.5

The Wolf of Wall Street starring Leonardo DiCaprio by Dave

June 6, 2010

The Wolf of Wall street will be portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Martin Scorsese, but the real star is Jordan Belfort. The filming is set for September of 2010 with an expected release date mid-2011, most likely in July according to Jordan- who I saw speak in Sydney in mid-May.

The Wolf of Wall Street book cover

The tale of the Wolf is epic! The film is based on the book The Wolf of Wall Street (ISBN 978-0-7336-2262-5) which is essentially an autobiography of Belfort’s life pre-incarceration. “I partied like a rock star and lived like a king” is the caption on the book cover. This is only outdone by the footer which claims “stock-market multimillionaire at 26, federal convict at 36″.

If you had any thought that the pages of this book sidestepped around Jordan’s mischief and cocaine-fueled criminal escapades, expel that filth from your mind immediately! This book gets down and dirty. A little too close for comfort is you ask me, but there is no doubt that it’s a thrilling ride. Proceed with caution, and don’t plan anything after purchase. You will not be able to put this one down!

If you think I’m here to sell you a book, you are dead wrong! I am excited about the upcoming film. Perhaps a little over excited, but trust me.. if you saw Belfort ‘perform’ as I did a few weeks ago, you too would be in a excited haze of anticipation.

DiCaprio and Scorsese

DiCaprio and Scorsese

Now whether you are morally opposed to the man or not- which for the record I was and am- you cannot deny he has a unique and empowering bravado. For those anti-empowerment, level-headed audience members out there, please substitute ‘highly-charged’ for ’empowering’, and read on. Belfort is undeniably a salesman. He would not seek to be cast out of this category. Rather he’d probably sweeten the deal by suggesting a more eloquent title such as “master of persuasion” or “business strategist”. Now whichever euphemism you are comfortable with, Belfort is as about as talented at rapport-building as any man alive.

Within moments from jogging up onto the stage to deliver financial motivation, and in the same opening address, he blatantly ridiculed the timid emcee who introduced him- from the company who marketed him no less- and established an instant expert aura without hesitation and to the great delight and admiration of the audience. The thought crossed my mind that he had undoubtedly delivered the same material hundreds of times before, but this didn’t matter. I was captivated.

Now what has this got to do with the film release? Well what does an orange have to do with orange juice? Let me say this: if Belfort can keep an audience spellbound for 3 hours without breaking a sweat, I have no doubt that the film, which is to be directed by Scorsese, will do the same- if not more. This I cannot wait for! The appetite will only be further whet by the release of the sequel to the original Wall Street film starring Michael Douglas later in 2010.

These are exciting times. Let’s hope the film lives up to expectations. At this stage it’s safe to say they are very high.

4.5 Film Reels

I will give this film 4.5 film reels out of a possible 5.

Of course, these are an indication of my expectations. Only time will tell, and if you are out there Martin Scorsese, bring your A-game!
There is a great interview by ABC’s Monica Attard when Jordan Belfort was in Sydney, Australia in August 2009. Check it out HERE!
To see some of Belfort in action, see the topics below:
The wolf of wall street on:
Enjoy!