Friday, April 23, 2010

Birdemic, and other romantic moments

Odds and ends...

-We hope you're still reading the site, and thanks to everybody who's provided feedback. We plan on stepping up the content on the site in a big way soon. Next week, we'll be shooting a couple more installments, if anyone has any requests as to what they want to see, let us know.

-Matt Zoller Seitz of L Magazine has authored a number of really wonderful video essays detailing academic film issues, most recently eye-opening looks into the body of work from Dennis Hopper and Clint Eastwood. His latest is far more tongue-in-cheek, a peek at the many ties that went into making "Zodiac."

-Movie website of the week/month/whatever: Wonderfully funny and incisive reviews from a cranky young Canuck.

-Finally, the eleven best bits of "Birdemic: Shock And Terror"...

1. The opening consists of a faint, computer-aided Hitchcock score riff of three notes looped over and over again, accompanying the longest, most inessential driving montage in the world. Our lead, a software salesman, slowly moves in and out of traffic for what seems like roughly seven screen minutes. Somehow, despite the extended driving montages, there is less than zero sense of geography in the entire film.

2. All money values in this film are precise to the dollar. When asked about the deal he's just closed, our hero replies, "One million dollars!" When he attends a meeting announcing the sale of a company he's working on, they reveal the value is "A billion dollars! (A billion!)" When he needs a contribution for a side project, a company pledges "Twelve million dollars."

3. Our hero's first conversation with his love interest. It's the first bit of dialogue in the movie, and the audio cuts out from shot to shot like the rough cut of a college film project. He pretends to not remember her from high school but when they stand face to face, he looks at her the way poor actors shoot their eyes all over in special effects movies because they are really responding to nothing but green screen. At the end of their scene, she hands him her card in a medium two-shot, and out of the camera's view, he turns the card over and hands it back to her, claiming he's now handing her his card.

4. She's a "highly-paid model" who apparently has her photos taken at a local "One Hour Photo."

5. She tells her mother about her new boyfriend, and her enthusiasm suggests she's someone's mom, but not this woman's. Half of this scene is impossible to hear because of the clanging of our female lead's heels against the floor. At the end, the mother says something like "Hooray!" and then goes silent for about ten seconds, unaware they are still rolling.

6. During one group applause scene, it turns out that the filmmaker must have reshot the sequence four times, or he recorded the same moment with four separate cameras. In the finished film, each angle plays right after each other, not even edited together, so that the first shot features a group clapping, then stopping, followed by another ten second shot of people beginning to clap and then finishing, followed by the same sequence two more times.

7. The two lovers visit amazing restaurants. The first is a Korean joint, and when we enter this fairly chintzy dining room, a pre-programmed far-east software melody plays over a dolly shot capturing the building's Asian wall mural. This lasts a good two minutes. Later, they go to a swinging bar where they're the only people present, dancing to a singer onstage crooning about having a barbecue with the family. The scene becomes an extended music video where the couple bump and grind sensually while this guy sings about grandma cooking something in the kitchen while Uncle Ned prances around looking for the beer, and the female lead begins to do the robot poorly over a good minute of footage, sans any real audio.

8. Terrible terrible sex. One girl spends the entire movie wearing a t-shirt advertising as a brief half-sample of a muzak "Imagine" plays over the soundtrack while she and her man paw and rub against each other like they were born without hands. Later, director James Nguyen pans down the lead couple making out in bed to observe their heavily ungroomed feet rubbing against each other. They wake up the next morning fully clothed, and he's even wearing a belt and shoes.

9. There are about six 30-second establishing dolly shots with complete silence on the soundtrack to establish a quiet day before a loud random screech fills the air, and previously-unexplained clip-art animated bird gif's attack the town. Many of them simply hover over the ground, but the rest dive bomb into houses, trees, gas stations, and all create the same fiery explosion. This is about 50 minutes into the movie.

10. "Hey, look! There's an old guy on that bridge!"

11. During the twentieth completely random bird attack, they simply start to mingle with other, whiter birds before flying away. The surviving castmembers look up as the waves crash at their feet, and the animated gif's are positioned to look like they are flying away. Our female lead asks, "Why did they decide to stop attacking us?" After two minutes, the credits roll on a shot of these characters silently and motionlessly looking out towards these birds.

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