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Visual Acoustics (2008)
When standing on the shoulders of a giant all you have to do is not fall off.
This is one of those documentaries that is just about impossible to screw up. Julius Shulman was such a monumental figure in both 20th century photography and modern architecture (not to mention an affable and entertaining subject) that a documentarian need only to remember to take the lens cap off - the movie makes itself.
That being said, this film at times takes a on a tone that I felt undermined the content. Aside from a few exceptions, the "wacky" animations and motion graphics which worked in films like 'The Kid Stays in the Picture' felt very out of place here. Furthermore, the production standards for much of the interview footage was appallingly low - especially considering it is a movie ABOUT a photographer.
All of this aside, I do recommend seeing this if you are a fan of Shulman's work or mid century modern architecture. Maybe I'm being too hard on this film, but after waiting for months to see this in the theater, I left a bit disappointed. Considering so much of this film concerns itself with the fundamentals of modernism where "form follows function", I really feel that the style of someone like Gary Hustwit ('Helvetica' & 'Objectified') would have been a lot more suited to this production.
No End in Sight (2007)
It is your duty, as an American, to see this movie.
This was, bar none, the most informative and analytical documentary on the war in Iraq I've seen thus far. Missing is the leftist rhetoric and cleaver edits of Michael Moore (before I get tons of hate mail: I usually agree with everything he says, I just disagree with his method of presentation). In their place are the plain unadulterated cold hard facts (think Frontline), which are more than damning enough. Think of it as exhibit A in the trial of this administration in the court of world opinion. A must see for anyone who still feels that this country is worth living in (although you may find that conviction waning upon exiting the theater).
Read All About It! (1979)
wow, this is great. i hadn't thought about this show in years and years when suddenly the word "intricacy" pops into my head and it all comes flooding back. i loved this show when i was a kid (and i completely agree with the dr. who analogy). the production values were cheap but effective (considering the age of the viewing audience), but the storytelling was the most important aspect. these folks really knew how to engage the viewer (i.e. the average 5 to 10 year-old) in a very adult way. i'll bet that if i had the chance to see these episodes again, they would still stand up. its good to see that such an obscure little show still has some fans more than twenty years later. perhaps there will be a DVD release someday...
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Remake? (or) 28 Dawns Later
First of all, I have to say that I am a Romero fan, and I did thoroughly enjoy this movie and would recommend it to any horror movie buff. IMO it blows all of the recent zombie flicks (28 Days Later in at a distant second) out of the water. It is as beautiful visually as it is grotesque. If you are late to the theater, don't bother seeing the movie at all. The first ten minutes or so before the opening credits are too perfect to miss.
I won't sum up the movie because I hate *spoilers*, but I will point out a few of my reactions:
1.) Most importantly, the movie deviates so much from the concept and spirit of the original that it almost seems inappropriate to call it a remake...and I don't know if that's a bad thing (how many really great remakes are there?). There are definitely some winks and nods toward the original Dawn (and at least one to Night), but they almost seem to detract from the new storyline -- which brings me to...
2.) The story/script are really the weak link here. The story seems really underdeveloped (there is no real concept of how much time is passing for instance). It feels as if the writer was trying to go someplace new but was afraid of straying too far from the original --and the plot suffers as a result. Romero's screenplay was so unique yet so dated, and I feel that a better writer could have told a fresh and contemporary story while utilizing the strengths of the original.
3.) Although I think this was a much stronger movie, I will admit that it resembles 28 Days Later a little too much. The zombies are fast...I mean really freakin' fast. Many scenes are shot with that same digital high shutter speed look that's so popular with the kids nowadays (think CSI Miami). "Zombism" is even a blood-borne pathogen in the new Dawn (which really p***ed me off about 28 Days -- why don't we just call it AIDS? Everybody's afraid of that, right?). Come on folks, does anyone even remember originality?
All in all, despite its frailties, Dawn of the Dead '04 was one hell of a flick, and I'll probably see it again. But I challenge you, hot young filmmakers of tomorrow: Come up with a totally new and innovative movie about zombies! One with the intelligence of 28 Days and the spirit of Night of the Living Dead, but one that is completely different. I've waited a long time for a movie like that...one to make old George proud. I thought for a fleeting moment that this remake might be it. It wasn't -- but it came closer than any movie in recent memory.