The Silver Emulsion Podcast: Ep. 24 – Headshot

Episode 24! This episode I’m talkin’ about the latest film of Indonesian action star Iko Uwais: Headshot!

Also on the show:

  • Jeff Lau’s Kungfu Cyborg: Metallic Attraction
  • Sammo Hung’s The Owl And Dumbo
  • Shunya Ito’s Female Prisoner Scorpion: Jailhouse 41
Music Notes

Intro:

  • Paddy Noonan and His Grand Band – Jigs
    • Irish Party: Recorded Live At The John Barleycorn (iTunes, Amazon)

Outro:

  • The Clancy Brothers with Tommy Makem – The Moonshiner
    • In Person At Carnegie Hall – The Complete 1963 Concert (iTunes, Amazon)

If you’ve got feedback, throw it into the comments below or email it to me via the contact page! I’ll include it in a future show!

The podcast is embedded directly below this, or you can go directly to Podbean (or use their app) to listen. If you want to subscribe, paste http://silveremulsion.podbean.com/feed/ into whatever reader you’re using, such as iTunes.

Discussion: Horror Movie Remakes

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These days Hollywood is in love with remaking films, and horror films seem to be the genre most mined. As a horror fan, it’s hard not to be a bit perturbed by this. To see the legacy of your genre favorites “ruined” by a sub-standard modern studio film is a hard thing to take as a fan. I can’t speak for everyone, but for me the frustration stems directly from the idea that kids or newcomers will only know the remake. Forbes posted a list in 2013 of the Top 20 Most Successful Horror Remakes, and while their definition of horror is fairly broad (War of the Worlds???), to imagine that these remakes are supplanting the original in the cultural consciousness is hard to take. The remakes in the last 10 or so years have gone beyond the well-known titles, too, reaching deep into the film vault and coming up with films that only stalwart genre fans will have any kind of name recognition of. About.com has a list compiling all of these announced horror remakes, but thankfully many of the films listed there appear to be in development hell. For instance, what’s the point of Cronenberg remaking his own remake of The Fly? Money, of course.

That’s the bottom line with these remakes, and people come out in droves for them (as evidenced in the Forbes list). This is how Hollywood works; it was never about the art. So if you take that to heart, you’ll possibly extend your life a few years and you’ll be able to have fun with the idea of modern remakes (or at least be OK with the fact that they exist, because they will no matter how much huffin’ and puffin’ you do). I like the stance that a post over at SBD takes on the issue. They have predictions on which horror movie remakes might be hitting the silver screen next. A remake of Poltergeist drops in a few months, so their first pick is already on the money, and the upcoming 2016 Friday the 13th film is supposedly another reboot of the long-running series. Even their prediction regarding the remake of Nosferatu is kinda happening, so is it too much to consider that remakes of The Stuff or Suspiria aren’t too far behind?

So in the interest of fun, put on your thinkin’ caps and come up with some horror movies that would be horrifying/awesome/funny/whatever if they were remade! Sound off in the comments!

I’ll start it off with a few:

Night of the Creeps (oh God why did I just type that?)
Piranha Part Two: The Spawning (because they already started a remake series and this one could surely be improved)
Demonicus (because a man possessed by a demonic ancient Roman spirit demands a wider audience and a bigger budget)
Rawhead Rex (which I’d legitimately welcome a Clive Barker-approved remake of)

Discussion: Doctor Whaaaaa?

dr_who_catsI’ve been aware of Doctor Who for most of my life, but I’ve never seen a single episode. I can’t recall how I heard of it, but that doesn’t really matter. I was a little kid who loved science fiction and somehow I learned that there were these British shows called Doctor Who and Red Dwarf (which I’ve also never seen any of… yet). All I knew were the titles, and they seemed so intriguing and mysterious. So like any crazed child>adolescent>adult, I kept this knowledge in the back of my brain… just in case.

And that time draws nigh!

With my newfound interest in TV shows, I figured it’d be a great time to dig into Doctor Who and see what (and who) all the fuss is about. And because I’m me, OF COURSE I’m starting at the beginning. Season One. 1963. William Hartnell. This puts me in the position of potentially losing thousands of hours to this damn show if I like it, and as much as I want to do just that, a more rational, “You have better things you could be doing” part of me hopes that I absolutely hate it. But deep down I think even that guy is overjoyed to embark on this journey in a couple of days.
Continue reading Discussion: Doctor Whaaaaa? →

Discussion: The Spike Lee Kickstarter

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I love the idea behind crowdfunding. A way to give money directly to the people I want to make something I’ve wanted for many years? Sign me up! I’ve backed a number of nostalgia-driven gaming projects, everything from the Tim Schafer Double Fine Adventure game that kickstarted Kickstarter into our hearts, to the current campaign for a new game from ex-cop and game designer Jim Walls, the creator of Sierra’s Police Quest series that I grew up playing and continue to adore well into my adulthood. While these projects are working against all kinds of unrealistic expectations, I still backed them heartily, just for the chance to see my old favorites do their damnedest to make another game along similar lines as their previous work. After all, humans are never satisfied and we always want “just one more.”

The Spike Lee Kickstarter campaign has generated a lot of anger from the Internet, as people call Spike out for being too rich to be on Kickstarter. Many believe Kickstarter is a platform solely for struggling nobodies to possibly achieve a shot at the American dream of financial independence… if their idea and pitch are good enough. “Spike’s already had his chance and years of success,” they say, “he should move aside for someone new.” But despite the waves of negativity that the Internet trades in, Spike’s Kickstarter pledges continue to grow. I have no doubt that his campaign will achieve its goal and we’ll all be getting another truly independent joint from one of the most divisive filmmakers around.

Continue reading Discussion: The Spike Lee Kickstarter →

Discussion: Is Digital Filmmaking Just a Part of the Natural Cycle?

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The other day I was explaining to my girlfriend why the Shaw Brothers studio system was interesting in the grand scheme of world film history. I don’t remember how we got on the subject, as it’s not something that she cares about, but that’s what I was doing. The quick version is that the Shaw Brothers model was interesting because as Hollywood was gradually moving away from studio-bound filmmaking in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, the Shaw Brothers were doubling down on the old school studio model.

This model was composed of a few key components and it’s what classic Hollywood ran on for quite some time. At the studio there would be a group of reusable sets to keep film production costs down, as well as a contracted group of actors and crew members that worked on whatever was on the day’s agenda. While one team was out making a movie, there was another movie being made on different sets, while the guys in the writer’s room banged out the next films to be made. Shaw Brothers probably had more than five films shooting at once during their height, and this is how a relatively small group of people were able to crank out so many films in one year.

But as more and more films turned to location shooting, it became harder to sell the studio-based films to audiences. By the 1970s, Hollywood was all about shooting in the streets. Studio sets are great, but they can never compare with a real street corner. The Shaw Brothers continued into the early ’80s using the old studio model, but when your competition has Jackie Chan busting through plate-glass windows in the middle of Hong Kong for Police Story, it’s really no contest, even with my intense love of the Shaw studio. For reference, imagine an American audience’s reaction to wide-release films in the 2000s made with the production values of the ’80s… I’d love it, but most people would have probably scoffed on their way to Final Destination 3.

So how does this relate to the current abundance of digital filmmaking, or more specifically CGI-laden productions? With the rise of digital filmmaking, we have once again been ushered into an era of studio-based films, although nowadays the studios they’re working with are much more technologically advanced. But no matter what the tech is, will anyone argue that computer graphics look better than reality? Even now, 20 years after groundbreaking films like Terminator 2 or Jurassic Park used CG in ways that blew people’s minds, we’re still discussing how “good” or “bad” the CG looks. I think that at some level we will always know we’re watching something fabricated, and therefore shooting something real will always be the most realistic. (But isn’t it crazy that this is even an argument that’s possible?)

At some point, I do think a backlash against the fantasy of CG will occur. It might be 20 years (or more) from now, but eventually I imagine audiences will tire of movies that resemble video games more than they do the outside world. There will be game-changing films that turn the tide away from green-screened studio sets, and back out into the green hills of nature. So with that possibility in mind: The film industry isn’t treading new ground when it comes to digital filmmaking, they’re simply rebooting the industry. It’s all they know how to do.  It’s just part of a larger, natural cycle.

The slow decline of society might not make this a reality, as people continue to delve even further into escapism and wild, wish-fulfilling fantasies. I look forward to the future of cinema, whatever it ends up being. But I’d really love to see a future version of what the 1970s meant to American filmmaking, even if I am a senior citizen when it finally comes around.

So… What are your thoughts on this?

Discussion: Ratings?

Can a rating truly capture the magic of Ed?

Can a rating truly capture the magic of Ed?

Over the course of writing reviews for Silver Emulsion, my philosophy about rating films has evolved and changed along with my writing. When I first opened the site, it was with the intention of reviewing any film under the sun and rating them under one set of guidelines. I would rate genre films on the same scale as more mainstream fare, and give them thorough reviews that other sites focusing on mainstream movies would never (or rarely) do. And because I enjoyed both sides of cinema (trash and art), I could have a positive review of a bad movie that also acknowledges its lack of quality in its star rating.

But this honestly didn’t make a lot of sense, and I ran into many instances where it nagged at me that the ratings on certain films reflected some arbitrary barometer of “filmmaking quality” instead of accurately representing my feelings about the movies. The first three Puppet Master films are a great example of this, as they all have somewhat mediocre ratings when I actually love all three of them (2 & 3 especially). They definitely have their flaws, but in giving them a rating more reflective of those flaws than their strengths, I felt like I was simply becoming the critic that I created the site to rebel against.

When I realized this, I instituted a new policy. I started giving B-Movies — and any mainstream film I felt worked under similar principles — two separate star ratings. One to gauge the actual quality of the filmmaking as I saw it, and the other to give a fair idea of the entertainment the film provided (or: my rating of the film without any pretense). I was very happy with the results of this, even if it went against my original idea to not single out B-Movies as being any different. I came to this decision after reviewing Laserblast and others, where the filmmaking was horrid, but the overall film was incredibly enjoyable. I couldn’t fathom only giving Laserblast one star, but along the same lines I couldn’t possibly give it four stars either. So I gave it both, and thus this rating style was born.

But now, roughly a year after instituting that rating policy, I’ve come to another mental quandary. My slogan mentions that every film is given equal footing here. I’m thinking now that by providing some movies with different rating criteria I am sort of missing the whole point of reviewing both types of movies. Am I truly giving every film equal ground? So I’m thinking of changing it up yet again. Regular movies would stay the same, but B-Movies would receive only one set of stars: the set reflecting their sheer entertainment value. Or not. I don’t know.

Thoughts?

And to be even more general:

What are your thoughts on star ratings?
Do they matter to you when reading reviews?

Discussion: Open Thread

So I’ve run out of ideas for discussion topics (this kind of thing has never been my strong suit), and I am resorting to the inevitable Open Thread. Whether you wanna discuss Syfy’s recent news about possibly making some Waterworld content, or you wanna discuss the manliness of Fabio, whatever you wanna talk about is fair game! Also, feel free to suggest more discussion topics.

Have fun!

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