Monday, November 28, 2011

Moving to Wordpress

Hello everyone... because Blogger doesn't transfer so easily to my website (both and, I'll be switching over to Wordpress.  Within the next few weeks I'll be blogging directly from my domains - but it'll all be through Wordpress.  So, please subscribe to the blog through there or change your bookmarks.

Ryan's Wordpress Blog. 


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

R.E.M. Artist Zsombor Huszka: Welcome to the Family

It is with a lot of excitement, and a bit of sadness, that I am announcing Zsombor Huszka as the artist on the graphic novel R.E.M. 

For those of you who have been reading this blog regularly for some time, you may remember I announced Budi Setiawan as the artist a few months ago.  However, Budi was diagnosed with cancer.  We waited it out... he went into remission - but then it came back almost immediately.  He's very weak and unable to draw. My prayers go out to him and his family as he battles that monster. As soon as he's back up and drawing we'll find another project to work on. He's an extremely talented artist (and the cousin of Sigit Nugroho, who is drawing Chasing Rabbits).  Sigit actually credits Budi with teaching him how to draw.  That's one artistic family...

Hailing from Hungary, Zsombor is ready to throw R.E.M. into a rear naked choke and dominate. Yes, an artist who also does Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  He actually received his degree in architecture from Budapest University of Technology and Economics’ Department of Architecture. After his first art exhibit in 2010, he was chosen to participate at The National Exhibition of Digital Artworks.  He has worked on projects for a variety of Hungarian pop-stars and illustrated Hungarian advertising campaigns. He is currently working on the music video for pop-star Linda Kiraly, as well as writing and illustrating the graphic novel The Sultan’s Beast.  Although currently a BJJ fanatic, Zsombor was a professional fencer - on the Hungarian National Fencing Team.

We will eventually have to roll together.  Until then, we are going to make an amazing graphic novel. Here are some of his previous works...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Goodreads Choice Awards

The finalists for the Goodreads Choice Awards were announced today... and Harbor Moon wasn't on there.  Oh well.  It was just really cool to be nominated through the semi-finals for an award next to some of these massive artists/writers/titles.  Books like The Walking Dead, Twilight series, Buffy and Locke & Key.

Thanks to all of the fans, readers, friends and family that voted and spread the word.  And thanks to everyone that has supported us/me and the book since it came out. It is appreciated more than words could describe.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Top 5 Remakes

A pretty self-explanatory list.

Top 5
  • A Fistful of Dollars - (based on Kurosawa’s Yojimbo from 1961) – Leone’s classic is head and shoulders above the original. It is actually the one Kurosawa film I do not like.
  • Last of the Mohicans (1936, 1992) – Michael Mann at his best against a film made during the beginning of cinema.  Not much of a matchup.  Mann’s Heat would probably be #1 if I had any way to see L.A. Takedown.
  • Lord of the Flies (1963, 1990)
  • Dawn of the Dead (1978, 2004)
  • Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The (1974, 2003)
Very Honorable Mentions
  • King Kong (1933, 2005) – There’s a lot of nostalgia out there for the original, but not for me.  I’ll take convincing visual effects and good action over that any day of the week.  Peter Jackson really pushes the boundaries in terms of CG characters… giving Kong a personality and feelings that endears him to the audience.
  • Ocean’s Eleven (1960, 2001) – the original is fun, but nowhere near as fun as the remake. 
  • Mr. & Mrs. Smith – (1941, 2005)
  • Mission: Impossible (1966 TV Series, 1996)
  • Assault on Precinct 13 (1976, 2005)
  • Taking of Pelham 123 (1974, 2009)

Honorable Mentions
  • Vanilla Sky (based on Abre Los Ojos) - I know I'm pretty much alone on this one, but I just couldn't get into the original.
  • Thomas Crown Affair (1999) – It’s not that I love this film, it’s that I don’t think the original is any good. That said, this is not a bad film.  It’s a fun ride.
Remakes I liked, but don’t quite live up to the original
  • Departed, The (based on the Japanese film Infernal Affairs) – I liked the remake, a lot, but it doesn’t hold a candle to my favorite foreign film out of Asia since Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai.
  • Magnificent Seven (based on Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai) – an okay western based on Kurosawa’s best film.
  • Scarface (1932, 1983) - Original was a gangster movie that was more my speed.
  • Ring, The (Based on the Japanese film Ringu)
  • The Italian Job (1969, 2003) 
  • Payback (based on 1967’s Point Blank) - Love this Mel Gibson film, but the Lee Marvin version is pretty awesome.
Originals I Need to See:
  • Heat – Original is the TV movie L.A. Takedown
  • Maltese Falcon – Original is a 1931 film of the same name, directed by Roy Del Ruth
  • Insomnia – Original is a 1997 Norwegian film of the same name
  • The Fly – Original is a 1958 film of the same name
  • 3:10 to Yuma – Original is a 1957 film of the same name
  • True Lies – Original is the French film La Totale!
  • Solaris – Original is the 1972 Russian film of the same name
Worst Remake Ever:
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

4.2.3. - Trailer (Slightly Revised)

Because I sort of obsess over very small things, here is the new and improved trailer for my short film 4.2.3.

What was wrong with the old trailer you may ask?

First off, I was editing video that was compressed (H.264).  This is a great codec for sharing/streaming - but it is too compressed to edit.  I had to go back to my original file for the short film which was in Apple Pro-Res 422 and re-edit that (tons of fun).

I also wanted to fix the end title design.  I knew it wasn't perfect because I basically just swapped it in from the short film.  The problem with that is that the short film doesn't have a title come up.  I go from a riddle down to the title (barely) - to a title card stating 'Year 4' at the front.  Karol made a comment and he was right - it didn't work.  So I had to create a title card that had 4 come up, then 2, then 3.  This is actually when I discovered my codec problem.  So, a fix that should have taken a day took about two weeks.

But now the resolution is much higher (it may be imperceptible, but the colors are brighter, the blacks are darker and the images are sharper) - and I have a much better title design.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Movie Review: Paranormal Activity 2

After seeing Paranormal Activity 3 and liking it so much, I decided to go back and watch Paranormal Activity 2.  You know a film kind of got to you when you do this. Since 3 was a prequel, there were a lot of details I wanted to vet. Turns out 2 is a prequel as well - but not 20 years prior like 3.  It is from about 60 days previous to the first one, from the POV of the sister's family (Kristi's family).  

My biggest thought right off the bat after watching this was - 'how did I make it through the first one with that horrible wench (Katie) on screen most of the movie?'  Every time she showed up in this I wanted to claw my eyeballs out.

Overall though, this actually wasn't as bad as I had heard, although it wasn't nearly as good as 3.  Not even in the same league.  3 had legitimate scares.  This, none.  But it held my interest and, maybe because I was fresh off the last installment, was definitely interested to see where it all headed.  None of the inhabitants of the house are bad, which is a good thing in a movie like this... and all of their reactions to what is going on are pretty believable.  When and how they come to accept that something really strange is happening feels natural.  2 opted for security camera POV's, which was okay... but, as I heard someone describe it, felt like a 'Where's Waldo?' horror film.  The camera angles and decision to make Dennis a videographer worked so well in 3.  

I'd like to go back and watch the first film, but the thought of sitting through another frame with Katie in it makes my skin crawl.  So, we'll see...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Movie Review: Paranormal Activity 3

Thanks to the lax security at UA Westbury Theaters (or no security at all - not even ticket takers) I was able to catch Paranormal Activity 3 after I went to see Ides of March (discussion up at 35 Movie Minutes).

I'll start by saying that I was entertained by the first one, but ultimately was not scared.  And the two leads were two of the more obnoxious and annoying people ever put to camera.  I was rooting for the ghost or demon to put me out of my misery and destroy them and their house.  So I decided to skip Paranormal Activity 2 altogether.

But I've been hearing good things about the latest incarnation... how 2 was a trainwreck but this redeems itself and is much better than the first one.  So I decided to give it a shot.  And I am ultimately glad I did.  Because all of those rumblings were true.  I was into this film from start to finish, into the characters (it is a prequel to 1 and 2) and cared about whether they lived or died - which is what matters when you're watching a horror movie.  That and the scares were genuinely scary.  First time in a very long time I can say that.  I don't remember the last time in fact (the original Scream?)

They do a little tugging at your heart strings by making two of the inhabitants children.  It's hard to root against them.  And, while most children actors are cloying and suck - these two are good.  Especially Kristi, the youngest daughter.  More importantly, the guy doing all of the taping, Dennis, is actually likeable.  I can honestly say it is the first time in a 'found footage' type of movie where I didn't root for their death.  I didn't quite care about the wife, but I didn't dislike her either.

Whereas in films like Blair Witch Project and the original Paranormal, where you're waiting and waiting for something to happen - things get kicked off real quick in this one.  And they don't let up.

My only gripe is how Dennis deals with the mother (girlfriend). She doesn't want to believe any of this stuff... but there's a lot of shit going on.  And he's got video footage of it all.  It's very frustrating as a viewer.  But perhaps the mother, obviously growing up under the grandmother, knows what is going on to some extent?  Along those lines, I would have liked to see the grandmother make an appearance somewhere in between her bookends.

Somewhat small gripes for a film that is definitely worth your time.  The directors behind Catfish did a good job with this one... they are definitely not one shot wonders.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Movie Review: Red State

Behind all of the hoopla of the Sundance screening (and fake auction) for Red State, there was actually a film that was made. Coming out in theaters for a short period, at the same time as VOD... and a Kevin Smith Q&A tour of the film, I applaud Smith for pushing the boundaries of distribution.

But did the film live up to the hype?  Let's start with the hype.  Once you sifted through the bullshit, there wasn't much - as all the reporting was focused more on Smith and less on his actual movie.  But I did catch discussions on the SlashFilm podcast as well as Filmspotting.  They all agreed that is was a step forward for Kevin Smith the filmmaker, but were torn on the actual movie itself.  

For me, the movie was way over the top and at times a bit too farcical.  It starts off well and then descends into what can only be described as madness.  And not David Lynch of Cronenberg madness - just ridiculousness. I felt bad for the actors, who were all giving it their best - but were all over the place.  Especially Stephen Root's Sheriff Wynan. He was acting in a Broken Lizard movie, while most of the scenes he was in were a serious cult movie.  I understand Kevin Smith's humor will shine through every now and then, but that is more dialogue based.  

This type of stuff took me right out of the film and I ultimately just didn't care about any of the characters. So when shit is going down, I wasn't rooting for anyone. And that is a problem. 

Kevin Smith has said he wants to do a hockey two-fer and then he'll retire.  I haven't liked anything he has done since Mallrats (which I loved, along with Clerks)... so I won't shed a tear.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Top 5 Movie Nicknames

To qualify, we had to know the character’s actual name in the movie (so Harmonica from Once Upon a Time in the West doesn’t count).  It can’t be an alter ego (sorry Batman, Neo and Johnny Dangerously) or a legit name change (Dirk Diggler).  No code names: Joker from Full Metal Jacket, or anyone from Top Gun.  And no names given by the press, but not used to address the actual person – such as Leatherface or Buffalo Bill.

Top 5
  • Henry ‘Indiana’ Jones, Jr. - Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • Jeff ‘The Dude’ Lebowski - The Big Lebowski
  • Randal ‘Pink’ Floyd – Dazed and Confused
  • Russell ‘Rusty’ Griswold - Vacation
  • Dudley ‘Booger’ Dawson, Fred ‘The Ogre’ Palowakski – Revenge of the Nerds
Next 5
  • Rupert ‘Stiles’ Stilinski (and Lisa ‘Boof’ Marconi) – Teen Wolf
  • Willie ‘Mays’ Hayes, Rick ‘Wild Thing’ Vaughn – Major League
  • Benny ‘Pookie’ Robinson – New Jack City
  • Clark ‘Mouth’ Devereaux, Richard ‘Data’ Wang - Goonies
  • Jimmy ‘B-Rabbit’ Smith, Jr. – 8 Mile
Honorable Mentions
  • Kenny ‘Pig Vomit’ Rushton – Private Parts
  • Michael ‘Crocodile’ Dundee – Crocodile Dundee
  • Harry ‘The Sundance Kid’ Longabaugh – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
  • Duey Ox Oxberger - Stripes
  • ‘Big Fat’ Bernie Gayle, Little Big Fat Bernie Gale, Jr. – Safe Men
  • Larry ‘Mother’ Tucker - Fraternity Vacation
  • Maurice ‘Snoopy’ Miller – Out of Sight
  • Bill ‘The Butcher’ Cutting – Gangs of New York
  • ‘Angel Eyes’ Sentenza – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
  • William H. ‘Billy the Kid’ Bonney, Josiah Gordon ‘Doc’ Scurlock, ‘Dirty’ Steve Stephens – Young Guns
  • ‘Turbo’ Tony, ‘Ozone’ Orlando – Breakin
  • Francis ‘Chainsaw’ Gremp – Summer School
  • ‘One Punch’ Mickey Dolan, Franky ‘Four Fingers’, Boris ‘The Blade’ Yurinov, Doug ‘The Head’ Denovitz – Snatch
  • Enrico ‘Ratso’ Rizzo – Midnight Cowboy
  • Mane ‘Knockout Ned’ Galinha, Ze ‘Lil Ze’ Pequeno, Dadinho ‘Lil Dice’, Sandro ‘Carrot’ Cenoura – City of God
  • ‘Bad Boy’ Mike Barnes - Karate Kid III
  • Sunshine’ Ronnie Bass – Remember the Titans
  • Lester ‘Worm’ Murphy – Rounders

Monday, November 7, 2011

Movie Review: Drive

I saw Drive a few weeks ago, but am just now sitting down to write about it.  The main reason why is because my podcast, 35 Movie Minutes, is now up and running and we did a podcast discussion about the film.

In general, I was a big fan of the movie. I loved the pace, the quiet nature of things - and the explosion of violence/action that occurs throughout.  Nicholas Weding Refn finally got his shot here and he delivered.  I have loved the Pusher trilogy for quite some time.  It seems as if critics are split on Gosling's performance (with many more liking it than not)... I would call it a tour de force.  Yes, he's doing his best to channel stars from the 70's like Steve McQueen - but so what?  He does it well.  And I've missed performances like that.  Everything now is quick-cutting, in your face acting and action - it is all the same shit over and over.  And I like action movies.

The rest of the cast is great.  Carey Mulligan is once again wonderful (has she ever not been?).  Oscar Isaacs does a fine job as her criminal husband in a jam. Albert Brooks is good as the crime boss... but I think Ron Perelman is better here.  The one person who stood out was Bryan Cranston.  His down on his luck auto shop owner didn't sit well with me.  Maybe because I'm bringing my own Cranston baggage with me.  I know his as the uptight chem teacher/meth cooker - so I couldn't get past the grease and shmoopy demeanor.

It opens with one of the best car chases put to film... and it's very stoic in the filmmaking.  No flipped cars, crazy angles or outrageous stunts.  But I think that's why it is so effective.  From there it continues to keep you interested, mostly carried by Gosling's unnamed 'Driver'.  My one issue with the film would have to be the ending.  I don't want to give it away completely, but I just don't buy it.  I don't buy that Albert Brooks is going to do what he does in broad daylight, in a parking lot.  Especially after Gosling does what he does.  Then, the very final moment of the film - no shot.  No way.  He may not be in it for the money, but this shot just eats at me until now.  I don't need to see him drop it off to Mulligan's character - but wouldn't that be a natural reaction?

Anyone else have trouble with that ending?