Archives for October 2015

An All-Hallows Double Bill: Dracula (1931)

Hope everyone had a lovely Halloween (or is in the process of having one).

dracula

Mine was a rather pedestrian experience – chilling at home and watching my hometown Mets (ARGH-don’t touch me) play in the World Series. But also managing to find some time to catch a few scary films to get me in the mood.

TCM and Fathom Events teamed up this past week to display the Universal classic Dracula double-bill on the big screen. I was very tempted to head down the street to my local multiplex and watch the Tod Browning/Bela Lugosi film followed by the much-ballyhooed Spanish-language version of Gothic horror, I opted to watch in the luxury of my home.

Granted I had seen the Lugosi version many, many times – although it is kind of funny that on every screening, I forget that I have actually seen it. So basically it feels fresh and new to me.

What I have not done is caught the Spanish bloodsucking version.

dracula-espanol

For the uninitiated, you might be asking yourself – what is a Spanish version? While Universal’s objective was clearly to focus on the English version, it was not completely unheard of for studios during this time to produce a foreign language version of their English-language productions. This was a very economical approach when you think about it –  in the case of Dracula, the main feature could be shot during the day with the Spanish-language version shot in the evening – both using the same exact sets, etc. The only variations are (of course, the actors), who were native Spanish speakers from Mexico, Spain and Central/South America. The film was directed by non-Spanish speaking George Melford and starred Carlos Villarías as the Count and Lupita Tovar as Eva, the equivalent of the English-language Mina.

A frame by frame summary/comparison between the films is pretty much a pointless exercise because they are almost shot for shot reproductions. That said, I can kind of see why many have praised the latter version, with some even going as far as citing it as the superior of the two. Where the Lugosi version felt as a bit stilted (possibly due to its stage play origins?) the Melford version felt more fluid and cinematic, with varying camera angles. It also had the benefit of a longer running time – Drácula (emphasis on the first A) clocked in at about 30 additional minutes. I suspect the extra time helped greatly is fleshing out the story.

Have you seen this version? What are your thoughts?

ILC does #NYCC2015: A Singular Experience

Two weeks have passed and I am still processing my NYCC (New York Comic Con) 2015 experience. It was fun to be sure but definitely was “one to grow on” so to speak.

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I mean look at that crowd. Quite overwhelming to say the least. And this is just the entryway.

I had individual Friday-Saturday-Sunday tickets but ultimately bailed on the last day (previous engagement). Upon reflection, you realize that is one of the ways you are “had” – not in a bad way – the time gap between ticket sales and the actual event almost requires that you purchase a multi-day pass or individual tickets for multiple days. The reasoning being (of course) that you never know what is going to happen and when. In the lead up to the actual event, NYCC planners stagger the release of information of screenings, panels and other entertainment appearances.

Also important to note, that, unlike its older sister/cousin, SDCC, there is not a whole lotta movie-related stuff going on here. This is a convention dedicated to comic enthusiasts, with a bunch of sci-fi fantasy/TV/gaming opportunities and tie ins thrown in for good measure. So set your expectations right.

My first day was spent mostly walking the convention floor to get a lay of the land. I have to say it was definitely packed but after you take it all in – it is quite fun. There are giveaways galore. Sure you will probably get home with a “swag bag” wondering why the hell you have TWO posters of the cover art for Dark Horse Comic’s Fight Club 2, remember all part of the experience.

My last day was a bit shorter. I walked the floor (rather quickly) and headed straight to my two panels. Still felt it was well worth the time spent on a lovely Saturday.

Let me close out this post with a few of pointers for any and all who are considering attending NYCC next year or in future years:

  1. GO TO PANELS – As this was my first Con and I will feeling the whole thing out, I only attended a couple of panels (there was one that I had to skip due to a travel delay) but I think this is where you get the most bang for your buck. Otherwise
  2. Speaking of panels …. for the big ones, arrive EARLY. Sure the doors officially open at 10:00AM, but if say there is an X-Files panel at 1:00PM, you may want to get there is the 7:30AM-8:00AM window to guarantee a seat. Trust me on this one.
  3. A last item about panels … the Main Stage (where the aforementioned X-Files event took place) clear out after panels, the other smaller rooms do not. So … I am not saying I did this … but you could theoretically look at the schedule (plan ahead!) and if you feel like a panel you want to attend might reach capacity, just attend a panel (or two) before and park yourself in for the day.
  4. When purchasing tickets – go for the 3 or 4 day pass. There is an economic reason for it (cheaper per day, assuming you attend all days). But it is also simply convenient. If these are not available I would definitely target Friday and Saturday next in the queue.
  5. Oh yeah did I mention PLAN AHEAD. While the meat of the event takes place in Javits Center, I noticed that there were quite a few events that took place at other venues. The panels that took place here had a decidedly TV theme to them.
  6. If you want a photo op/autographs, be sure to bring your checkbook. This is not really my thing, but the prospect is appealing to others. If you decide to forgo this one-on-one experience, you can still walk around the autograph area to catch a glimpse of your favorite celebrity. But hope you have a photographic memory — because photos are not allowed to be taken in the area.
  7. The signs are everywhere but as a reminder, you are not allowed to take pictures of cosplayers unless you are granted permission to do so by said cosplayer. Sounds obvious but I guess it needs to be said (they even have signs posted around the convention reminding us of this). Most of them do not mind at all; but for me, it was enough to simply sit back and watch the passing parade.
  8. Bring your walking shoes – especially if you plan to camp out for several hours or all day (not my recommendation personally), you will do a LOT of walking. Seating is scattered to say the least so you may even find yourself aimlessly wandering around the convention floor while waiting for that panel that you are dying to see.
  9. Don’t like what is on offer to eat at the Con site? Well you have bring your own food and bevvies, but know that you can venture off during the day if you are there for a spell. Your badge grants you re-entry on the convention grounds (until 8:00PM). So no worries – take a two hour break eat at your favorite Midtown (?) spot, or just chill for a bit, and come back to enjoy the fun!

So there you have it – I could try to be clever and round out this list at a “top ten,” but I am tired and still recovering from a late night last night (Blur was worth it though).

Did any of you attend NYCC, 2015 edition? Share your experiences with all!

NYFF53 Recap: Steve Jobs (2015)

In the coming days leading up the theatrical release of Danny Boyle‘s Steve Jobs, I am sure you will hear/read the phrase “artful presentation” in some form or another. This post is no different 🙂

MICHAEL FASSBENDER portrays the pioneering founder of Apple in ?Steve Jobs?, directed by Academy Award? winner Danny Boyle and written by Academy Award? winner Aaron Sorkin. Set backstage in the minutes before three iconic product launches spanning Jobs? career?beginning with the Macintosh in 1984, and ending with the unveiling of the iMac in 1998?the film takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution to paint an intimate portrait of the brilliant man at its epicenter.

MICHAEL FASSBENDER portrays the pioneering founder of Apple in Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs is set up in three “acts,” centering on the moments prior to Jobs taking the stage to launch: the first Macintosh (in 1984), the Jobs’ post-Apple venture Next (in 1988) and lastly, the first iMac (in 1998).

Each of these events is punctuated by Jobs’ interactions with those who were closest to him, namely:

  • Macintosh team member and confidant Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet),
  • Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen),
  • former Apple CEO John Sculley (Jeff Daniels),
  • former girlfriend and mother of his first child, Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterston)
  • Andy Hertzfeld (Michael Stuhlbarg) , a member of the original Mac team, and
  • his first child, daughter Lisa Brennan-Jobs (played by Perla Haney-Jardine, Ripley Sobo, and Makenzie Moss, respectively at different ages).

It is in these expository moments (woven with the present and past) that we are offered a revealing insight into the inner workings of a man whose personal life and interpersonal relations seemed at odds with the control he exerted in his professional endeavors.

I find it interesting that, although the film is loosely adapted by Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing, The Social Network) from Walter Isaacson’s 2011 authorized biography of the same name (with additional information culled from interviews conducted by Sorkin himself), the film reaches its end in 1998, over a decade before Jobs’ passing. As you watch the film come to a close, you realize that this is not needed – the film has told you the story it wanted to effectively.

Initially I was not entirely sold on Michael Fassbender as Jobs (there I said it). When I saw the early trailers, all I could think was “hey, that’s Michael Fassbender.” Maybe it had something to do with not thinking Fassbender and Jobs shared any likeness, in either face or voice. But as I sat watching his performance, all those reservations floated away out of my head. I was taken in so much so that at one point during one of these “acts,” it took everything in my power not to get up and applaud what I had just seen on screen.

As (semi) regular readers to this site can attest, Kate Winslet can do no wrong in my book (not even in The Holiday). As Joanna Hoffman, Jobs’ right-hand-woman, she delivers another solid performance. And the same can be said for all of the ensemble – they  all deserve a round of applause for their work.

Steve Jobs (MICHAEL FASSBENDER) with Joanna Hoffman (KATE WINSLET) in ?Steve Jobs?, directed by Academy Award? winner Danny Boyle and written by Academy Award? winner Aaron Sorkin. Set backstage in the minutes before three iconic product launches spanning Jobs? career?beginning with the Macintosh in 1984, and ending with the unveiling of the iMac in 1998?the film takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution to paint an intimate portrait of the brilliant man at its epicenter.

Steve Jobs (MICHAEL FASSBENDER) with Joanna Hoffman (KATE WINSLET) in Steve Jobs.

The performances would (obviously) be nothing without the words. Sorkin’s trademark voice is clearly present, but it is not at all intrusive. Because of the way the story is told, Sorkin has structured Steve Jobs very similar to a play. In spite of this, in its execution, it does not feel stage-y. It’s an accomplishment to be sure and a wonder to observe.

Earlier, I used the term “artful” for a reason. As anyone familiar with the work of Danny Boyle knows, that while the stories and emotions surrounding his films are all too real and grounded, there are often moments during his films that enter a fantastical realm. And, as in other examples of his oeuvre show, these “escapes” in Steve Jobs do not take you out of the story, in fact, this approach kept me engaged.

As I wrap this up, let me just say that my praise for the film does come without a ‘warning’ – if you are expecting a straightforward recounting of Jobs’ life, you will not find it here. That said, I am willing to wager that in Steve Jobs, you will find no  better telling of Steve Jobs’ life and times that captures the spirit of a complicated and complex man, who did in fact, change the world.

Steve Jobs comes out Friday in select theaters with wider release a couple of weeks later.

 

 

Photo credits: Universal Pictures