Brick

Brick

Brick is a film noir murder mystery set in the present-day and yet the characters talk and behave like 1940’s-style gangsters.

It may seem a bit unusual to have students speaking in this slang. But it works. Brendan Frye (played by the excellent Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is an intelligent, cynical high school student, self-exiled from the cliquish world of jocks, stoners, and socialites.

Brendan is left heart-broken two months after being dumped by his girlfriend Emily (Emilie de Ravin), who left him to pursue that world. Until, he receives a frightened phone call from the missing Emily asking for help. Emily mentioned some references to a “Brick” and “the Pin”, which prompts Brendan to investigate.

He does this in the movie detective style of Sam Spade (“The Maltese Falcon“), shaking things up with a relentless directness punctuated by well-timed acts of cunning.

Brendan enlists the aid of the Brain (Matt O’Leary), while keeping the assistant vice principal (Richard Roundtree) only occasionally informed of what quickly becomes a dangerous investigation.

His single-minded unearthing of the students’ secrets thrusts him headlong into the colliding social orbits of rich-girl sophisticate Laura (Nora Zehetner), intimidating Tugger (Noah Fleiss), substance-abusing Dode (Noah Segan), seductive Kara (Meagan Good), jock Brad (Brian J. White) and – most ominously – non-student the Pin (Lukas Haas).

Only by gaining acceptance into the Pin’s closely guarded inner circle of crime and punishment that Brendan will be able to uncover hard truths about himself, Emily and the suspects that he is getting closer to.

Writer and director Rian Johnson pays homage to the wonderful style of noir fiction. The look and feel of Brick fits into the genre despite having a modern contemporary feel.

The dialogue in this movie makes this distinctive and very different to other murder mysteries. Johnson drew heavily from the fiction of Dashiell Hammet (creator of Sam Spade) when writing.

By using this style of language, Johnson has created a list of characters that look extremely cool. Okay, it maybe difficult for the audience to understand but this linguistic style is how the older films used to be like.

Surprisingly, none of the main cast members were familiar with the literary and film sources from which their characters were drawn. This is remarkable, because their characterizations are spot on.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s performance is simply outstanding. He appears in every scene and plays the part so much like Humphrey Bogart. This is impressive as the last time I saw him in a leading role was in the hit TV comedy ‘3rd Rock From The Sun’.

It’s no surprise that Brick won the Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. It fully deserves it. Brick provides a unique experience, with fascinating characters, beautiful cinematography and wonderful (if confusing) dialogue.

Working on eMagi

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted that much on my web blog for the past few days. The reason? Been working on the eMagi site. With all the news on the new Apple products, the launch date of the exciting Nintendo Wii (which I have now pre-ordered) and other interesting stuff, my attention on my own web blog has been neglected.

But I won’t let this happen anymore. I will write some entertaining posts like film reviews, the latest on Formula One and other amusing stories so that this blog will always be the a place to read on the everyday life of the Leaf!

As for eMagi, I’m quite proud to contribute in writing articles to keep it fresh and informative. Please take a look at eMagi.co.uk

Michael Schumacher wins, then announcing his retirement

Schumacher Monza 2006

It’s official. Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher will retire at the end of this year’s championship after announcing in the press conference – after winning his 90th Grand Prix at Monza – that he will leave Formula One.

Michael was very emotional as he revealed his decision to quit Formula One after the final three Grands Prix. He has enjoyed every moment in the sport, from driving at Benetton and winning his first two titles at the team, to moving to Ferrari and winning the drivers’ championship a record five times for the famous Italian manufacturer. But now, the German decides to call it a day after winning today’s Italian Grand Prix.

This is what the seven-times World Champion has to say after 15 years in Formula One:

“Words are not enough and whatever I could say now will never fully express how much I love this fascinating world of motor sport and all it has given me,” said Schumacher. “From go-karting to Formula One, I have lived through moments that I will never forget. I am profoundly grateful for everything I have had. I want to thank everyone who has accompanied me, supported and inspired me, right back to the days of my childhood.

“Above all, a special thanks goes to (my wife) Corinna and our two children, who have given me the strength to do what I have done. All these years in Formula One have been amazing, especially those spent alongside my friends in the Scuderia. Soon my future will belong to my family, while I am happy to be still part of Ferrari. But for now, what matters is this world championship.”

His Ferrari team also paid tribute to their great driver after so many successful seasons at the top.

“I had always said that the decision to retire would be his alone, but now that decision has been taken, I feel a sense of sadness,” commented Ferrari President and CEO, Luca di Montezemolo. “We have lived through some unforgettable times together, some good some bad, achieving results that will be hard to equal. To Michael goes the thanks of everyone in the company and supporters of Ferrari for all the dedication he has shown to our colours, for the determination and courage with which he has worked, which has provided immense satisfaction. He is both sincere and passionate and has earned the affection of all of us and of our fans. His relationship with Maranello will continue, albeit in a different form and I am very happy about that.”

“Michael has been the author of a unique chapter in the history of Formula One and of Ferrari in particular. It has yet to reach its conclusion and what he has achieved extends over and above the results obtained,” added Managing Director, Jean Todt. “He is an exceptional man and will become a legend as a driver. For me personally, he is a great friend and together we have lived through unrepeatable experiences. Having had the opportunity to work alongside him has been and will continue to be a privilege.”

As expected, Kimi Raikkonen will be joining the Scuderia Ferrari team in 2007 alongside Felipe Massa. The Finn, who finished in second position in the race, will leave McLaren-Mercedes to fill in the void left by Michael.

“Whilst I have taken the decision to leave Team McLaren Mercedes, I want to stress that I really enjoyed my time with the team,” said Raikkonen. “I have the deepest respect for everybody and will be giving my all in the remaining races.”

Kimi will drive for Ferrari for the next three years and he is determined to become World Champion for the famous Italian team. I believe he can actually do it due to the enormous resources provided by the Maranello-based team. I look forward to the on track rivalry between Massa and Raikkonen next year. Though, I would prefer the idea of Schumacher challenging the young Finn in the red cars…

Anyway, let’s talk about the race itself in which Michael has significantly reduced the championship points to Renault’s Fernando Alonso.

The German won the Italian Grand Prix in commending style ahead of Kimi Raikkonen (second) and an impressive Robert Kubica (third for BMW-Sauber).

McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen started the race on pole position but didn’t have the speed to beat Michael in the Ferrari. Despite this, the Finn will be satisfied to finish the Grand Prix in second.

Robert Kubica, who finished in third, drove an impressive race in the BMW-Sauber. I am impressed by Kubica’s performances in the last three Grands Prix and to finish on the podium is remarkable.

Renault’s Giancarlo Fisichella finished in fourth after a one-stop strategy. Honda’s Jenson Button was fifth ahead of his team-mate Rubens Barrichello (who finished in sixth). Jarno Trulli drove a solid race in the Toyota to come home seventh with a disappointing Nick Heidfeld (who originally started in third) in P8 in the BMW-Sauber.

As for Michael’s main championship rival, Fernando Alonso, he suffered an engine failure after 44 laps of the 53-lap race. This ended the Spaniard’s shocking weekend after being penalised for ‘impeding’ Felipe Massa during qualifying…

Despite starting tenth, he made steady progress up the grid thanks to his Renault’s pitstops. He was in P3 behind the faster Ferrari and McLaren before his engine let go…

Ferrari are now ahead of Renault in the Constructors’ championship by three points, while Schumacher is now only two points behind Alonso. The next race is the Chinese Grand Prix in three weeks time. Can Renault and the current World Champion fight back and retain their title?

eMagi Podcasts

eMagi iPod

After all the hard work recording and editing, I’m proud to announce the official eMagi Podcast are ready to download.

Two shows are available: the Pilot and Episode 1.

The pilot episode features Walking Leaf, NeoBladeFX, Emily, and a small role played by Yas and Janus. The podcast editing and production was done by Yas.

The topics on the first show include: Dino Love making, Chase HQ: The Movie and general news.

In Episode 1 entitled ‘David Blaine Must Die!’ the podcast features the usual cast. In addition, special guest appearances from Luna and Rob.

The topics discussed on that show are: How eMagi was created, Snakes On A Plane, David Blaine’s next trick and Josh’s ‘Misplaced’.

You can download the first two shows on eMagi.co.uk or via the direct links:

Pilot Episode

Episode 1

Warning: These podcasts do contain strong language and themes of a sexual nature. You have been warned!
😉

Pulp Fiction

 

Probably the best film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Pulp Fiction changes the whole notion of narrative with fascinating sub-plots and ultra-hip characters. Everyone has their favourite scenes in this popular and fantastic movie.

Pulp Fiction won the 1994 Palme d’Or award during the Cannes Film Festival and from then on became a cult classic for film fans.

But why Pulp Fiction? What makes it so good to win an award at the glamorous Film Festival in the south of France? Well, this movie was unique, as the story was told in a non-linear way. It features witty and offbeat dialogue with references to the pop culture lifestyle.

The witty dialogue is the strongest and memorable part in this cool movie, in particular the scene when Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samual L. Jackson) discuss the names of fast food items that are called differently outside America. It’s entertaining for the viewer – who can forget that dance scene with Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) and Vincent in Jack Rabbit Slims? Very amusing, especially the scene in the coffee shop. Shocking – that gimp moment and above all, it’s stylish and modern.

Even though the narrative is told in an unusual way – with the ‘end’ told first, then the ‘beginning’ and finally the ‘middle’, the plot to Pulp Fiction can be seen as this: Pumpkin and Honey Bunny (not real names) are two thieves who, while dining at a coffee shop, decide that the best thing to do is to rob it. Vincent and Jules, two hit men working for mob kingpin Marcellus Wallace, are sent to retrieve a very special and very mysterious briefcase for their boss (we never knew what was inside). Vincent later must also show Mrs. Wallace a good time while her husband is out. And Butch Coolidge is an aging prizefighter who is being paid to “take a dive”, but instead, accidentally kills him opponent, and tries to flee town, but not before getting his dead father’s lucky golden watch. These four seemingly unrelated stories are interwoven together in a non-linear fashion.

The unconventional attitude of the movie, in particular its lack of a standard chronological structure, has often led the film to be cited as an example of a postmodernist film. And it’s amazing how many ‘copycat’ movies are trying to replicate this formula.

In conclusion, still one of my favourite films with an impressive range of talented actors and wonderful scenes. It’s remarkable that Pulp Fiction is regarded as the coolest film to see before you die.

Capote – In Cold Blood

Capote

This is the movie in which Philip Seymour Hoffman won this year’s Academy Award (for Best Actor) in the role of Truman García Capote. Hoffman’s portray of this intriguing character is simply mesmerizing. The way he moved his body, punctuated his speech, bit his lip, walked into a room, held his cigarette was perfect.

The story is based on true events on the life of the famous American writer whose non-fiction, stories, novels and plays are recognised as literary classics.

In this film, it focuses on how Capote developed his novel ‘In Cold Blood’ after reading a newspaper report on a shocking murder in a smalltown in Kansas during November 1959. Capote sets out to investigate this with his childhood friend Haper Lee (played with grace by Catherine Keener), winning over the locals despite his flamboyant appearance and style.

Over time, he forms a close bond with the killers (Perry Smith and Richard Hickock) and as their excecution date nears, the writing of ‘In Cold Blood’, a book that will change the course of American literature, takes a drastic toll on Truman, changing him in ways he never imagined.

Capote’s personal journey when researching his book and the relationship and identification with killer Perry Smith (played by Clifton Collins Jr.) created a compelling and fascinating insight into the way a journalist work.

He is tore between writing the true horror of the murder but facing the ultimate journalist’s dilemma: if he perpetrates a lie for the sake of exposing the truth, is he ever worthy of redemption? Truman, in the end, concluded that he wasn’t; he never wrote another book after this. He descended into drunkenness and died a lonely soul…

Capote is a beautifully told, masterfully performed, harrowing, amusing, cruel, riveting movie. A sensational achievement from director Bennett Miller and actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. He richly deserved the Oscar win for this amazing performance.

eMagi Podcast available on iTunes

eMagi Podcast

Exciting news regarding the Eternal Sunset Podcast. eMagi is now available on iTunes Music Store!

Apple has accepted our pilot podcast this week and you can now download all the future episodes of the amusing podcast from eMagi.co.uk or subscribe through Apple’s iTunes.

I’m so pleased that our Dino Love themed podcast is now available via the highly popular iTunes Music Store. That means everyone will be able to hear our comments and amusing conversations about Chase HQ and Misplaced.

Thanks to everyone who worked on this in paricular NeoBladeFX and Yas. Job well done!

Now we need to work on some more to please our new audiences!

New mobile update


Back in July I had posted a comment on this blog about changing my mobile phone. I have been a loyal customer to Vodafone for a few years now, but I believe it was time to switch networks as well.

The network that suited me was Orange. The attraction? Orange Wednesday (two for the price of one when at the cinema) and free broadband access for life.

Initially, I was looking at the K800i as this the latest mobile phone from Sony Ericsson. But I didn’t like the look of the phone especially that bulky camera bit on the back. Yes, it has a better picture quality (3.2 megapixel) but I hate the fact that it uses the new Memory Stick Micro (M2) format. I cannot be bothered to buy a new Memory Stick just to store my photos and MP3s.

So instead, I opted for the W810i, the Walkman phone. This new Sony Ericsson is an improvement over my existing K750i and it features the ability to playback music. The sound quality is pretty impressive and I do like the fact it supports the same audio file format like my Apple iPod: MP3 and AAC.

As for Orange, the network provides me free calls on any network and BT landline. The free broadband offer will be very useful as I’m thinking of cancelling my existing one with Virgin.net soon. The increase in speed (8mbps compared to 1mbps) will help in downloading and general web browsing.

The subscription I have opted for is Racoon (Orange way of organising the different deals for the customer), so in theory I am paying my monthly mobile phone bill to Tom Nook (yes, the one from Animal Crossing)!

Overall, I am pretty happy with my new mobile and I love the fact it can play music just as good as my Apple iPod!

What does a ‘Scanner’ see?

A Scanner Darkly‘ is a complex and fascinating story based on a novel by Phillip K. Dick (the author of Blade Runner). The movie uses the latest techniques in rotoscoping to produce a beautiful animated look. The story is set in a near-future, when the United States is obsessed with the war on drugs, particularly a substance known as ‘D’ (Death).

The use of rotoscoping has been put into use before by the director, Richard Linklater, in his philosophically complex film ‘Waking Life‘. In this ‘A Scanner Darkly‘ Linklater uses the same technique to put into a narrative that, compared to Waking Life, is non-linear to the point that it is very faithful to the original author’s novel. But there’s more than meets the eye, literally, to what Linklater is doing with this picture. It really does fit the mood of the movie, but the control over thought and the similarly powerful self-destruction comes at a high price…

To talk about the story, we have to involve the characters affected by the drug. Keanu Reeves plays Bob Arctor, a narc on the verge of a breakdown. For public appearances, he acts as a cop and he has to wear a special hi-tech disguise to protect his identity. This ‘suit’ changes his voice and image as a shifting kaleidoscope of features.

Arctor’s impending mental breakdown is accelerated by the burden of spying on a group of drug addicts, and he is under such deep cover that these losers are now his only friends: the hyperactive Barris (Robert Downey Jr), dopey slacker Ernie (Woody Harrelson), unhappy Freck (Rory Cochrane) and the beautiful coke-addict Donna (Winona Ryder), with whom Arctor is in love.

This movie may be seen as ‘quirky’ due to the visual representation and the subject on hand. But looking at the bigger picture, it does an amazing job of capturing the feel and tone of the book as well as the paranoia, perceptual distortions, and chaos of hallucinogenic overindulgence.

It can be seen as a sense of losing all forms of reality and the struggle for identity and meaning.

24 star and show win best awards in Emmy

Kiefer Sutherland and the hit US ‘real-time’ thriller 24 has won best drama and actor awards at the Emmy Awards in Los Angeles last night.

Collecting the two awards, star Kiefer Sutherland (playing CTU Agent Jack Bauer) said his experience on the show had been “nothing but remarkable”.

Sutherland’s best actor triumph follows four unsuccessful nominations for 24 in consecutive years.

“Every once in a while you’ll have an evening that just reminds you that you’re given too much,” he said. “This is that evening.”

So congratulations to Kiefer and the show’s success. I’m so happy to see the Canadian actor winning the award for Best Actor in a Drama, after missing out four times… Kiefer’s portray of the troubled government agent is compelling and his performance in the previous season (Day 5) is considered the best of the series so far.

As for the show, I’m proud to see this top qualify drama has been awarded as Outstanding Drama Series. Fantastic!

The real-time element, split-screen political thriller series has been a great success over the past five years and I believe the main story and characters are the strongest part to keep the viewers entertained on Jack Bauer’s nightmare day.

Looking forward to the next series of my favourite show (Day 6) as we will find out what happened to Jack Bauer.

Source: Emmy Awards