Movie Day

Today I saw War of the Worlds and Land of the Dead. Both were quite enjoyable.

Being someone who hates celebrity gossip/news, I try to avoid it like the plague that it is. That being said, Tom Cruise has made it very hard to not know about the impact Scientology has had in his life and how much in love with Katie Holmes he is. Fortunately for me, I try not to base my opinion of someone’s work on how over represented they are in the media. He is very good in this movie. He has a substantial character arc that leaves you feeling as though he accomplished more than the obvious at the end of the movie. The supporting cast is excellent with strong marks going to little Dakota Fanning and the kid that plays Robby (I’m too lazy to look it up). Best of all was Morgan Freeman’s recitation of passages from the book at the open and close of the film.

Land of the Dead finally gives us a Romero zombie movie with a decent budget. The actors are solid, the gore is there and there are socially relevant critiques…everything a warm body would ever want from a Romero movie, right?

In Completely Unshocking News…

Aol vastly underestimated the number of people who would be interested in watching the Live 8 shows, so thousands of people (and maybe more) are locked out and cannot see or hear anything. I should take solace in the fact that at least the Philly show is broadbast live here.

UPDATE: Except it isn’t. Apparently what the ABC station has been hocking all week is a highlight show tonight. That means I have to make do with the MTV tape delayed coverage. It’s likely MTV has never looked more irrelevant than talking over a live set of music and going to commercial just to come back and play what you missed for you. Music television indeed.

Second UPDATE: Out of frustration, I cancelled my little BYOA account to Aol. I am sure they don’t care, but I can’t pay for incompetence anymore.

Third UPDATE: Reading online, I found the stats I was looking for: Aol allowed 160k people watch online at a time. They estimate that five million people watched something via their pitiful webcast. I’d bet that it’s more likely one million people tried reloading the page five times, then gave up in frustration. I know I tried with multiple browsers multiple times because I thought the problem was some Windows Media setting. It was simply the most frustrated I have been with something on the internet in quite a long time.

Final UPDATE: It’s now after midnight and it is still impossible to play the streams from Aol’s website.

Toy Story 3

Disney has announced they are beginning production *without* Pixar. They plan to release it in the summer of 2008.

This is a good example of why Disney has become and evil corporation. It isn’t that they aren’t within their rights contractually to make this movie…they own the sequel rights (although they have to split profits with Pixar). It’s that Toy Story is by John Lassiter and without him, honestly, who cares?

June is Miyazaki Month

I just watched the trailer for Howl’s Moving Castle, the latest epic from Studio Ghibli.

I am a fan of anime. Before Saturday morning was filled with butchered dubs, my friends and I were picking up classics like Akira and watching them for hours on end. We were lost in cyberpunk. Soon, I sought out other greats of the genre, like Ranma 1/2 and The Hakkenden.

Eventually, my passion for the medium waned. I went to college and the amount of funds available for spending on $25 videotapes went away. About that same time, I discovered the comics work of Neil Gaiman. I devoured his completed Sandman epic.

Then one day I read about him rewriting the screenplay for a film titled Mononoke Hime, or Princess Mononoke. I read about the effort he was putting into it and that Disney had signed a deal to dub and release the film domestically. I was excited, but the process was long, so it would take a while for everything to be done.

I was still in Mississippi when Princess Mononoke made its way into limited release. Needless to say, it didn’t run anywhere nearby. When it finally was released on dvd, I was in awe. I already knew what the medium of anime was capable of, but the epic nature of the story and the beauty in every frame left me in awe.

When the follow up film was released, based upon the critial success of Mononoke, Spirited Away was given a wider release. I was living in Albuquerque and I watched the first showing of it, the day it opened. Again, at the end of the film, I felt different. I had watched a film that had so much to say on so many levels. Like many Miyazaki films, there were no clearcut villains. There were just people (or entities) doing their best to do what they do. In the end, the film won that year’s Oscar for Best Animated Film, a honor that made me proud to be an American fan of film.

His works are things of such exquisitness. They transcend the screen and touch your soul.

Needless to say, I will be seeing Howl’s Moving Castle and I suggest every one else does, too.