Tag Archives: cool things to watch

Juno’s Top Nine Movies of the Decade

20 Dec

Filmmaking has really turned a corner this decade. Special effects are truly at the point where absolutely anything is possible. The first movie on the list attests to this amazing fact. While being able to produce any imagined image can be freeing, the story is still king. Several new directions were explored in this arena as well, from Memento telling a story backwards, to Primer telling a story in, uh, whatever order Primer is (or isn’t) in.
Movies on this list are not just supreme examples of movie-craft, they are also entertaining and enjoyable narratives. Enjoyable, for this list at least, is a key word here. Many many movies came out this decade which are, technically speaking, brilliant. Many of them are, critically speaking, better than some of the movies on this list. Movies like Pan’s Labyrinth, Tsotsi, Babel, Brokeback Mountain, Traffic, or City of God are technically excellent movies, worthy of becoming classics. But they are not on this list because the stories they tell are not enjoyable. They’re told magnificently, yes, but I don’t anticipate revisiting them. I don’t long to sit through them again. All the movies on this list I enjoy watching, and enjoy re-watching (and with one obvious exception I have seen each one at least twice). I should also note here, in the interest of fairness, that I have not seen even half of the movies that were made this decade. Particularly recently, I’ve been very remiss in my movie watching. Many critically acclaimed movies are not on this list because I simply haven’t seen them. Movies like Slumdog Millionaire, Everything is Illuminated, or Monsoon Wedding (to throw out a few random ones) could very well be deserving, but I don’t know.

That out of the way, let’s get on with the list that I know you’ve all been waiting for (as well as a list of some runners-up).

9. Avatar (digital 3d version) – written and directed by James Cameron:
Avatar validates movie theaters. Seeing this movie in digital 3D is an experience like nothing else. Now, to be clear, this movie will not change the world. The story is as derivative as Star Wars with characters no thicker than stereotypical cut-outs. It’s Dances With Wolves. It’s Dune. It’s Pocahontas in space. It’s nothing you haven’t seen before. Yet you’ve never seen, or experienced, anything remotely like Avatar. I actually wonder how they pulled off some of the visual effects in this film (like Jake’s withered legs), and that’s rare. The action is clear and easy to follow and incredible. This movie, when seen in proper digital 3d, is a glimpse into the future of cinema where screens become not just moving pictures but true windows into vast (and in this case beautiful) new worlds. Also: dragons.

The rest of the list

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A bunch of things, for the sake of an update

6 Sep

The white iPod is dead, but the iPhone is cheaper and the “classic” iPod now holds more media than my powerbook. Seriously, who owns 40,000 songs and has had an unsatiated desire to carry them around?

Here’s this entry’s not-entirely-unrelated-to-Batman news bite: Maggie Gyllenhaal is now posing in lingerie. Yes, she could stand to eat more food, and yes, she still looks hot in handcuffs.

Led Zeppelin is getting back together.

Saving the world is an out-dated notion. Escaping the world is where it’s at. Some people spend almost half of their living hours immersed in a digital world.
In fact, roughly one third of gamers reported they could be ‘more themselves’ in the game than in real life. (And by “gamers” they mean “people we asked who play games online”)

Which leads to this entry’s un-technological (meaning there are no buttons to click, you have to comment with your answer) poll:

Do you hope to:
A: Save the world
B: Escape the world
C: I reject your false dichotomy! Instead, I _____(fill in the blank)___.

Look! I’m invisible!

23 Jun

I was one of the three shooters for this. It’s weird to be up on youtube for everyone to see but be entirely invisible at the same time. SF city hall is pretty.

None of this is real?

19 Jun

This slideshow from the New York Times shows people who play games next to the digital avatars that they use to play them. It’s interesting to see who looks like their avatar, and who doesn’t. It’s also interesting to see how much variety there is among the people in this slideshow, and how long each of them spend inside a digital world. Up to seventy hours a week spent in a digital world!! That’s almost half of the total hours in a week.
player and avatar
It brings to mind a key discussion from The Matrix (which is here transcribed from my memory and is thus probably not word-for-word correct. But close enough):

Neo: Right now, we’re inside a computer program? None of this is real?
Morpheus: What is real? If real is just what you can touch, taste, smell, see, and hear, then real is simply electronic impulses translated by your brain.

Perhaps Morpheus is right… what makes the “real world” more real than, say, the world of Second Life? Sure the technology isn’t quite there yet for all five of our senses to enjoy Second Life, but it’s probably only a matter of time. And why not? What then when a Second Digital Life is more appealing than a “real” one?
Afterall in a digital world like Second Life there is total freedom. Inside this digital new reality you, or your avatar, can look like, act like, and do whatever you want (which already includes sex and violence, even without total sensual immersion). In a digital world there is no fear of death, since you can always just play again. This creates a form of immortality and freedom so far unavailable in the “real world.”
Is the “real world” all it’s cracked up to be? If it isn’t, or doesn’t become so really soon, I suspect there will be a larger and larger migration into digital ones.

Wall – E footage!!!

16 Jun

Almost everything Pixar does is pure cinematic genius, and even the movies they do that aren’t (A Bug’s Life, Cars) are still at least average.
I haven’t seen Ratatouille yet, though I’m pretty sure it’s going to be great. It’s by Pixar, and it’s directed by Brad Bird (who also did The Incredibles, debatably Pixar’s best movie), but I’m already more excited for their next movie, Wall-E.

Watch the trailer: “The year is 2700. WALL•E, a robot, spends every day doing what he was made for. But soon, he will discover what he was meant for.

Now, because I am a sucker for leaked movie news on the vast internets I know more about this movie than that trailer tells you (which isn’t hard I suppose, since it tells you almost nothing). I’m not going to give it away here since I know some of you prefer to see movies knowing as little as possible, but let me just say that since I know* “what he was made for” I’m incredibly excited about this movie. It’s not really like anything Pixar has done before. In some ways, it’s not like any computer animated movie that has ever been done before. Since everyone and their divorced parents is now zagging with the computer animated movies it’s about time somebody (Pixar) zigged.

Also, the Brazil music in the trailer? Perfect…

*if you’d like to know too let me know and I’ll shoot you a reply in some less public forum (like an email).