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Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The REAL Emperor Palpatine

Well, since today is the release date of the most anticipated DVD set ever, I just felt like doing something extremely geeky and posting up screenshots from all of the Original Star War Trilogy DVDs. If you’ve never seen any of the films before (no matter how good The Lord of the Rings trilogy is, it is no where as iconic as the Original Trilogy), then you’ll no doubt be confused and ask “What the hell are these?” to the images below. The first montage of photos is from A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. The second montage includes images from Return of the Jedi. And of course, the third montage includes images from all 3 films. These images should pretty much answer a very lame question one of my friends (who's never seen any of the 3 films) asked me a long time ago: Are the original Star Wars films in black & white?

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Eww.

FIRST OF ALL...What does the average person who's never seen a black & white movie before have AGAINST black & white films? What-- 'Cause they're OLD?? Whatever. You're not gonna become blind or suffer a heart attack (or turn gay, but I don't want to go there since that statement's politically incorrect, haha) or anything if you watched a film with no color. Again, whatever!

Disgruntled Citizen Kane

What was I talking about again? OH YES...that facetious question about the Original Trilogy being shot in black & white. If the NEW FILMS are in color, HELL--not only in color but shot IN DIGITAL [with a High Definition (24P, or Perfs) camera provided by Sony and modified by Panavision...but the average Joe or Jane obviously wouldn't know that...'cause he or she is average. Just kidding, heheh.], what makes you FREAKIN' think the old films would be in black & white??? Then again, some people were crazy enough to think the prequels were remakes of the old films, and that Jake Lloyd was a young Luke Skywalker in The Phantom Menace. Boneheads.

BELOW: Look-- They're in COLOR! (No wait, they always were!)

“Screenshots
“Screenshots
“Screenshots

Anakin Skywalker: Mr. Badass. These behind-the-scene shots below are from The Return of Darth Vader featurette on Disc 4 of the DVD set. As you can see, Hayden Christensen is pretty much gonna spend the most of next year’s Revenge of the Sith looking all pissed and homicidal with his lightsaber. From a fan’s standpoint, can’t wait! ... What? You don’t expect someone who acts like Corky Romano or Screech to become Vader, do you?

“Screenshots
Hooded Anakin

Monday, September 20, 2004

Fullscreen is for monkeys. I don’t even know why people continue to buy this butchered version of a film on VHS and DVDs. What— Is it because in widescreen versions you obviously have the two matte lines at the top and bottom of the movie frame? Well BOOHOO, you’re breaking my heart. "Hey, I don’t want the widescreen version of The Passion of the Christ... Those two black bars are on the screen!" Loser. People who prefer the fullscreen version of a film (A.K.A. the film with a 1.33:1 aspect ratio format...A.K.A. "pan-and-scan") over widescreen are just as lame as people who don’t like black & white films ‘cause they’re “old” (more on this diatribe tomorrow). Think about it… What would you rather have...the two matte lines on the TV screen or an image that is only half the size of what is on the original theatrical version? I prefer the two matte lines on the screen anyday. Now, if the reason why you’re holding off on buying widescreen-formatted films is because you want to buy that nice-ass, WAY-expensive High Definition 16:9 Widecreen TV from Best Buy first, then that’s different! As long as you let the fullscreen version go the way of...um, I dunno, all those species of insects in the burning Brazilian rain forest (8-track tapes and the Dodo bird are clich├ęs), then it’s all good. If you wanna see a pan-and-scan film, watch a broadcast of it on network television!

Widescreen RULES.
(Images courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox)

Now, what got me to dislike the 1.33:1 aspect ratio in the first place was me buying the fullscreen VHS version of the film Independence Day (above) in November of 1996. I showed my dad the movie when he got back home from work, and while watching it, I noticed that he wasn’t as into the film as I thought he would be. Of course, it may have obviously been that ID4 is a big pile of sci-fi crap (though I still enjoy the film), but I also attributed it to the fact the full splendor of the images (especially during the action sequences) wasn’t showing on the TV screen. From there on out, I vowed that every film I bought would be in widescreen. Of course (I like saying that), I didn’t really practice this till I began buying DVDs. I bought Gladiator and Saving Private Ryan in their fullscreen incarnation on VHS…and I, um, cough-cough (how ‘bout them USC Trojans?), bought Titanic in fullscreen VHS as well. Of course, James Cameron is a genius in the sole fact that the way he framed the images during filming actually allowed everything that you see in the widescreen version of the movie to be visible in the fullscreen version AS WELL. If you’re watching the fullscreen version of Titanic, you’ll notice that there’s considerable empty space at the top and bottom of the images, and that’s because those spaces were matted off (a.k.a. covered by the two black bars) for the theatrical release! Pure genius, Cameron!!

Titanic comparison shots.
(Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox and Paramount)

Anyways, where was I? Oh yes… Fullscreen SUCKS. I urge my readers out there (ALL 10 of you. Just kidding… Look at the hit counter at the bottom of this page, haha) to forsake the ghetto “This film has been formatted to fit your TV screen” version and go with the “So what do you prefer? The 1.85:1 or the 2.35:1 aspect ratio?” version. Me? I prefer 2.35:1. But I shot my short films The Broken Table and Envious in 1.85:1, haha. Oh, and using the Final Cut Pro editing software program, I matted my first student film, a BLACK & WHITE cinematography project (creatively titled Cinematography Project), with BOTH 1.85:1 AND 2.35:1 matte bars. It’s SO COOL that that film, which was shot in fullscreen, was framed well enough for the other two aspect ratios to be compatible! Parno rules!! Just kidding. That is all.

Dumb & Dumber.Dumb & Dumber.
Dumb & Dumber: One of only a few films enjoyable in both the fullscreen and widescreen formats!

(Images courtesy of New Line Cinema)

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow... Yesterday, I watched that film at Paramount Studios (my friend who works there was able to get me in for free). Fun movie. The visuals were really great, and it was obviously clear that Writer-Director Kerry Conran was inspired by 1930s and 1940s adventure films and comic strip serials up the wazoo. On the other hand, however, I don't know if I would wanna see it again--at least in the theater. As I said, the visuals were really great. Maybe TOO great. I would mention plot, but I'd only be pointing that out 'cause movie critic Kenneth Turan pointed that out in his Los Angeles Times review yesterday. Hell, I watched Pearl Harbor TWICE at the theaters in 2001...obviously I don't mind watching a film again even if the plot isn't on the same level as that in, say, The Usual Suspects. As for Sky Captain, it's sensory overload staring at all the images in the movie, haha. Anyways, that's all.

The final scene with Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow was pretty funny. Their on-screen bantering reminds me of that between Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood (played by Karen Allen. Do I EVEN need to tell you who played Indy??) in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

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And WHY the heck was I talking like a snooty movie critic just now?

Tuesday, September 7, 2004

The original Star Wars trilogy on DVD

From the TIME.com article previewing the upcoming Star Wars DVDs:

...And the frail 32-year-old (George Lucas) with a galaxy of ideas in his head seems near implosion. As Mark Hamill recalls, "He really looked like he was ready to burst into tears."

As a recent film school grad who had to endure a main actress walking out after the first day of shoot on my senior thesis film Envious last December, forcing to cut short the shoot on the third and supposedly final day of filming because it began raining (and I was filming outside), and being forced to dish out a thousand dollars more for my pick-up shoot (which I couldn't do till 6 weeks later because of winter break and legal reasons with the film department), I think it was that comment made by Hamill which convinced me why Lucas should do everything he could to have these films meet the vision that he originally had for them.

The TIME article points out that the 1977 version of Star Wars was a joy for fans but a reflection of the anguish Lucas went through to make it. While most of my actors and close friends say that they (supposedly, heheh) enjoyed my film after I gave them copies, I myself am reminded, when I watch my own film, of how pissed I was (and don't ask me about the tears part) when it began raining during my shoot...and of other things I wish I could do to fix my film (such as stick to using ONE film stock as opposed to two because of continuity reasons, and not having a main character wear something drastically different from what they wore at the start of the film since the audience won't know that that's suppose to be the same character from the previous scene).

So more power to Lucas. Don't let the nostalgia of people who obviously weren't on set to help you get this movie made (but those are the people that made Star Wars popular!! Well woopty-friggin' doo) prevent you from fixing something that you struggled to make in the first place.

The bottom line: Creating a film is a highly emotional process that most non-filmmakers can't completely appreciate.

Update: And yes, I found a replacement for that actress...6 HOURS before I was to begin Shoot Day #2!