Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

07
Oct
11

Cinema at the Hawaii Theatre

The brightly colored neon marquee of the Hawaii Theatre.

From the moment you walk through it’s doors, you can feel the sense of history behind the walls of the Hawaii Theatre. While predominantly a venue for musical and stage performances, it’s actually a somewhat multipurpose theater that has also showcased pagents, award ceremonies, political debates, and more. One of the myriad types of functions that the theater hosts on occasion are film programming events. This summer I had the opportunity to take in two different film presentations that were being held at the Hawaii Theatre.

Sing A Long Sound of Music :: July 15-17, 2011

The evening started opened with organ music and emcees explaining the programming for the evening.

So, if you don’t already know, I’m not all that into musicals. However, I’ve kind of warmed on them in the past couple of years, and to be honest, I’m always down to watch any movie at least once. I had seen bits and pieces of The Sound of Music over the years, but never watched it all the way through before. When I saw that it was going to be playing at the Hawaii Theatre and that it was going to be a “sing a long” style presentation, I figured it would be a good time to take it in. I mean, the Alamo Drafthouse has a history of running programming like this where you sing or quote along with the film. How could I go wrong?

These were the props that we were given to us to use doing the film. The highlight was definitely the champagne popper with the rest not being that great to use.

Well, things didn’t go exactly as I envisioned them. While for the most part everyone did sing along with the songs during the film, it also seemed as if everyone thought they had the right so yell things at the screen whenever they felt like it. Now, to be fair, at the beginning of the show they did say that there were really “no rules” for this sort of thing. However, you ALWAYS need rules or guidelines–for anything and everything.

So like I said, this gave people a free pass to say whatever they wanted to say, no matter how dumb or obnoxious it was. Now granted a few of the things some people said were funny and/or amusing. Most of it was just annoying. In the end, this wasn’t the best way for someone to watch the movie for the very first time. While some of the other moviegoers did bring down the experience of the night, it wasn’t all bad. We did get to see a movie in a venue that we don’t normally go to, and it was also a chance to go out and have a nice dinner and a movie in downtown Honolulu.

Under a Jarvis Moon :: August 24, 2011

Old photos document life on these small islands in the middle of the south Pacific.

I first heard about this documentary film when my parents went to go see it at HIFF 2010. Ahead of it’s debut on PBS Hawaii, the production company behind the film (Bishop Museum & Pacific Islanders in Communications) had a big gala viewing at the Hawaii Theater to promote the film.

Going in I only really knew it was about Kamehameha Schools students/graduates who went to these islands in the south Pacific. After seeing the film though, man was my mind kind of blown. Here is the film synopsis:

On March 20, 1935, six young Kamehameha Schools graduates sailed from Honolulu Harbor aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Itasca for destinations unknown. Carefully recruited for their physical and mental fitness, they believed they would be collecting specimens for Bishop Museum.

Instead, they found themselves on remote desert islands in the middle of the Pacific, living for months at a time in total isolation. The ability of these young Hawaiian men, as “Americans,” to survive would eventually enable President Roosevelt to claim jurisdiction over the islands of Jarvis, Baker, and Howland.

What this synopsis doesn’t tell you, is the isolation these boys faced, their resiliency, the unseen danger they were put in, and how war eventually did find its way to the islands these boys were on. While watching the film I couldn’t believe the number of things that could have went wrong while these boys were down there on those islands (and sometimes some things did). Granted, we have the benefit of hindsight today to look back on this and wonder, but I can’t imagine going through everything that they did.

Director/Producer Noelle Kahanu and several of the gentlemen that lived the experience and who were also featured in the film participated in a Q&A session..

In the end, I was really glad I attended this presentation of Under a Jarvis Moon at the Hawaii Theatre. If you’re interested in finding out more about Under a Jarvis Moon, Bishop Museum is screening it at various venues across the state and the DVD is slated to come out sometime next month. More details here.

Final Thoughts

After these two film presentations at the Hawaii Theatre I have to say I do have mixed feelings about seeing movies there. On the one hand it definitely feels like more of a special occasion when you see something there. From a technical standpoint though, this is not the best venue to see a film. There just aren’t the same acoustics and projection that you get with your standard theater. For future film events I definitely say it really depends on what is being shown and that audience that’s going to be there.

Have you seen a film or movie at the Hawaii Theatre? What was it and what was your experience like?

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19
Jul
09

Red Band’s Going to the Con!

sdcomicon“What is the Con,” is probably what some of you are asking yourself right now. The “Con” as many of the attendees refer to it, is the shortened nickname for the San Diego Comic Convention. Taking place at the San Diego Convention Center from July 23-26, while it is THE biggest showcase/event for comics in the US, it’s also a big showcase for movie studios to promote their upcoming films. It is for this reason that the Red Band Project is making it’s first ever trip to the Con. While we won’t be live blogging during the convention, at the very least expect a report on our experience after it’s all said and done and perhaps if there’s time, a recap or two. Since it’s our first time, we really don’t know what to expect.

Here are just a few of big presentations being made this year:

  • 3D Showcase: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, The Hole, The Final Destination
  • Summit Entertainment: Astro Boy, Sorority Row, The Twilight Saga: New Moon
  • 20th Century Fox and James Cameron present Avatar
  • Warner Bros – Showcasing Where the Wild Things Are, Sherlock Holmes, and more
  • Disney & Pixar Animation Panel
  • Focus Features: 9
  • Sony Pictures Entertainment: Legion and District 9
  • The Visionaries— A discussion with filmmakers James Cameron & Peter Jackson
  • Miramax: Extract
  • Sony Pictures: Zombieland and 2012
  • Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment: Iron Man 2

For information about the San Diego Comic Con, programming schedule, toy exclusives, and more surf over to their website at Comic-Con.org.

21
Jun
09

IMAX Expansion, More Than Meets the Eye?

Side by side comparison of IMAX screens.

Rendering comparison of IMAX screens . . . and Optimus.

Back in March I was excited with the release of Watchmen here in Hawaii. Not because I was a fan of the graphic novel that was adapted into a movie, but because Oahu would see the reintroduction of an IMAX screen that would show commercial/Hollywood films. Before the movie began though I had an uneasy feeling just from stepping into the theater . . . this was not the IMAX I was expecting to see, it[the screen] was smaller. Granted my experience with watching films on IMAX is somewhat limited having only seen two commercial films on IMAX and having been to only four theaters. However, I was expecting something more when I stepped into Regal Dole Cannery’s IMAX theater, something bigger.

Looking into the matter a bit more I discovered that what most likely happened at Dole was an IMAX retrofitting done in partnership between IMAX and Regal where IMAX will install proprietary projectors, speakers, and hardware if the theater pays for structural modifications to make this happen in a process described here by Gizmodo. Traditionally in the past IMAX would be responsible for constructing it’s own buildings and theaters, but in order to rapidly expand, IMAX developed retrofitting partnerships with established theater chains to expand their brand.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, the IMAX brand itself is associated with huge screens that show unbelievable picture quality, pounding surround sound, and unfortuneately . . . a higher ticket price than your average movie. Personally I can attest to many of these feelings. When I saw Star Wars: Episode II on the old Waikiki IMAX the picture quality was AMAZING. Other non-commercial films that I’ve seen on traditional IMAX screens have also created this same sort of “wow” factor as well. IMAX movies, in the past, give you more of an “experience” rather than a”viewing.’

Needless to say that when you have this type of expectation and you don’t get it, you’re going to have people feeling a little let down. Case in point Aziz Ansari, a Los Angeles actor/comedian. Recently he caused quite a stir when he got upset after seeing Star Trek: The IMAX Experience in Burbank, California and felt cheated because it wasn’t the “traditional” IMAX screen that I just previously described. He set out on a campaign to “expose” the “fake IMAXs” in a post on his blog. Well the dust up caused such a stir that Imax CEO Richard Gelfond has been addressing the media assuring moviegoers that:

Imax enjoys enormous customer satisfaction, backing up the claim with a market-research study that found that 98% of Imax moviegoers had enjoyed their experience at the new, medium-sized theaters as much as at the older giant screens.
To bring us back to the beginning, is my source of disappointment about our new Hawaii IMAX the same as Ansari’s? At it’s core yes, it is. We paid a premium price for a movie and it didn’t deliver on what we were expected. Granted it was still a pretty good experience, there is a noticeable difference between the retrofitted IMAX and a regular movie screen (about the same difference between standard definition and HD TV) as well as enhanced sound, but in the end it’s not the same as traditional IMAX theaters. I mean for both Watchmen and Star Trek, the picture didn’t even fill the whole screen.

In the end it’s all about understanding. Has this disappointment led me to the same boycott as Ansari? No. I’m still a true movie fan at heart and I hate to say it but there’s not that much that will stop me from seeing movies, espeically if I can get a better experience on the new retrofitted IMAX. Yes I’m ok with paying premium pricing, but now I know what I’m getting myself into and understand it. Also, since it does cost more for IMAX I’ll be picky about which movies I’ll see in IMAX. For starters from now on I’ll only see movies that are shot in IMAX at the IMAX theater (not all films are shot in IMAX, most features are converted/upscaled to IMAX quality, see Gizmodo article). Besides, being here in Hawaii with limited options for movies, we need to embrace what we have. I’m just as excited as the next person to see Optimus Prime on the IMAX big screen. (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen that comes out next week was shot in IMAX).

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12
Jun
09

How Being A Movie Rep Made Me A Geek

Almost every week, I find myself at the movies watching literally, anything. Not because I have nothing to do, but because it’s my “job” as a screening representative for Honolulu’s market. I don’t think you could define this as a “job” really. I like to think of it as a hobby.

I happened to stumble into this side job around 5 years ago when I was a senior in high school. One of the local newspapers had partnerships with the publicity agencies (local and in LA) that handled the publicity for movies in Honolulu’s market. Oddly enough, this newspaper had no one on staff that wanted to go to EVERY movie to put up a banner. I mean because its so difficult to go to the movies right? Enter… me 🙂 This golden opportunity essentially set my role as “the movie girl” for Honolulu. I left the newspaper for a job as a promotions assistant at a local radio station, I was again given the responsibility of Advanced Movie screenings, just because I had already worked the circuit. My duties included working with the studio, submitting proposals, making sure we had legit sponsors, and writing trivia questions for the screenings (yes someone actually writes those questions for the DJs). By this time, it was difficult to not enjoy the films I helped promote. It was my favorite part of being a promotions assistant because I don’t really like night clubs or concerts… I’ve met my fair share of annoying people at club promotions. At the movies, everyone (typically… unless theres’ a crying baby) is quiet… no conversation, no screaming. Bliss. After a year with the radio station, I decided to part ways and focus on school, when a very interesting call came in. I got picked up by the local Movie Marketing/PR agency to run advance screenings for a handful of studios. How could I say no?

Initially, it was just exciting to have money in my pocket, but as time went on I saw a lot of movies. I’ve screened Epics like LOTR: Return of the King Dramas like Hotel Rwanda, blockbusters like Spiderman, retarded comedies like Superbad (5 times in a row mind you), and of course the absolutely obscure movies like Margot at the Wedding. To be honest, in the early days of this experience, I had no appreciation for cinema. Movies were just movies. I’d see a something I knew absolutely nothing about and almost every time my reaction was, “that was pretty good”. That was before I met The Dark Knight viral marketing campaign while writing my college thesis. The topic of my thesis was centered around movie marketing because of my Movie Rep position. I figured doing research would be easy with the access to screenings and crowds, but then I visited whysoserious.com and my interest in the next Batman movie peaked. The marketing campaign put on by Warner Bros & 42 Entertainment blurred the lines between fiction and reality by creating a Joker presence on the web that selected a group of fans and gave them tasks to complete in real life. These tasks included taking photos of themselves with Joker face paint and picking up cakes from bakeries with active cellphones in them that the Joker himself would call. For uber geeks of the Batman franchise, this wasn’t marketing it was a game and they played. This was where it began for me because only the mega hardcore fans followed the whole campaign. It started at Comic Con 2007 (where all true fans go for info and goodies) and ran all the way to the movie’s release date, but you didn’t see Entertainment Tonight talking about it, did you? I fell in to this group of hardcore followers that are so passionate about film and the characters brought to life in the cinema that I couldn’t help but get in on the conversation. I’ve fed off of the passion from extreme fans and listened to the critics (I prefer bloggers who have made themselves critics) to care about the movies being released and stalk the ones I’m dying to see. I look out for the latest trailers and turn to fellow bloggers for their reaction to movies. I crave Entertainment Weekly, which I don’t subscribe to and have to wait for my BF to finish reading before I can get my hands on it. I can’t stand waiting for a limited releases to get to Honolulu (waiting to see Benicio Del Toro as Che had me all antsy). The movie industry has become an addiction, which is hilarious because it was fueled by a random job I happened to stumble into 5 years ago. I guess its true… you have to love what you do.

In case there was still a question of my geekiness, you can check my updates in July 2009, which will be coming from my pilgrimage to San Diego Comic Con. WOOOOOHOOO!!!!

Until next time *Makes Vulcan Hand Sign* “Live Long & Prosper”

05
Feb
09

OW: More Transparency Needed as We Look Behind the Curtain

oscarwatch

When the nominations for this year’s Academy Awards were announced several weeks ago, some called the absence of Bruce Springsteen’s song, The Wrestler, from the list of nominations a “snub.” I’ve read that a lot of people are shaking their heads and asking why it wasn’t listed as a nominee when the song evokes the same strong feelings that the movie portrays. With only three nominees in the category and if the song is as good as advertised, it begs the question . . . what happened?

Shedding some light on the reason is Steven Zeitchik’s article from the Hollywood Reporter:

The branch’s several hundred members no longer list their top five choices, as they did for years (and as they do for best original score). Instead, they rate the songs on a scale of 6 to 10, with half-scores (say, 7.5) allowed, too. In order to land a nom, a song has to average an 8.25. (If more than five songs hit that mark, the five highest make it.) . . .

But the system doesn’t end there. Voters don’t just rate a song based on how they liked it. They rate each on the 6-10 scale twice, first strictly on the merits, then based on how it plays in the film. The idea is to make sure that people aren’t just voting for a good piece of musicianship, but choosing a song that complements or enhances the movie. “People sometimes think this is like the Grammys, where we’re just choosing out favorite song. But this is a film award, and you have to look at how a piece of music works with the rest of the film,” [branch chair Bruce] Boughton says.

“It’s not a perfect system,” Boughton acknowledges. “We’re going to sit down after all this and see if there are ways to improve it.”

There is the perception out there that the Academy is not accurately assessing its industry and at it’s worst, are totally off base when making award selections. Add that to the fact that the general public has no insight into the awards process and you have an award that one group of people thinks is baseless and another that accepts it as dogma. That is why I’m really glad I stumbled upon this article. I think it gives us some transparency into the awards process, if only for this category.

To me, the system seems simple enough. Granted, the decision is still up to voters who can vote any which way, but what happens if there are no films that get a score of 8.25 or higher? Would the Academy not have an award for Best Original Song for that year? What I appreciate is the Boughton’s forthrightness behind how the process works as well as an acknowledgment that maybe there might be ways to improve it.

03
Feb
09

Super Spots

superspots1

Being perhaps the most watched televised event of the year, advertisers know that they have a captive audience during the Superbowl–which is why you have to shell out big bucks if you want your commercial to be seen by almost everyone. What I find interesting is that rarely do I ever hear about a movie trailer as being “the best Superbowl commercial” or the most talked about advertisement of the game.

Year after year though it seems as if studios always keep shelling out their money to have trailers shown during the big game. Does this really pay off? I mean sure we had Independence Day that had people talking and maybe even the spot for the Matrix generated some buzz. However, besides those two, none have been as memorable as some of the other types of advertisements during the game.

However, maybe that’s not their goal. I mean let’s face it, if you’re going to spend this much money on thirty seconds it better we worth your while. What I think the hope is for these spots is to serve notice to everyone that “hey, we’ve got our big tentpole movie coming out in a few months, go and see it because it’s going to look as good as this teaser.”

Having said all that I thought that we had a pretty good crop of trailers that were shown during the game this year. Here’s my assessment of what I saw, about when it was shown during the game, the amount of excitement it generated for me, as well as a small critique about each one:

DUPLICITY – Pregame
Excitement Level – 2/5
Nothing here really blew me away. I liked that they played up the relationship between the Julia Roberts and Clive Owen’s characters without giving away too much of the back story.

GI JOE – Pregame
Excitement Level – 5/5
I’ve heard that this movie was in the works but haven’t seen much about it until the past two weeks or so. Needless to say I was blown away by the trailer and am now very excited for this movie. I like the semi-realistic approach that they seem to have taken to the treatment of the movie with the Joes seemingly able to accomplish military precision acrobatics. Did not seem campy at all–which was everyone’s fear.

ANGELS & DEMONS – 1st Qtr
Excitement Level 3/5
From this brief glimpse of Angels & Demons it looks as though a lot of the action from the book made it into the movie–which makes me hopeful as I thought Angel & Demons (the book) was better than the Da Vinci Code (the book). What I fear though is that Tom Hanks will still have the stiff role he had in the first one, which is the feeling I kinda got from this trailer as well.

YEAR ONE – 1st Qtr
Excitement Level 2/5
I have to say I wasn’t overly impressed with this trailer or the movie for that matter. While it did give me a few laughs it seems as if we have the same old Michael Cera and same old Jack Black together in a film. I will give it some points for having the combo of Jack Black and Michael Cera. I guess it’s playing up the straight funny man against the wild funny man angle.

FAST & FURIOUS – 1st/2nd
Excitement Level 3/5
While there was some new footage shown in this trailer, its strength lied in what made the first movie such a success: showing off cars, girls, and action! It also showed the reestablished relationship between Diesel’s and Walker’s characters which I think is a good thing.

LAND OF THE LOST – 2nd Qtr
Excitement Level 3/5
I liked how they made it look as if the trailer was a part of the Superbowl broadcast with Matt Lauer interviewing Ferrell’s character. The special effects looked pretty cool and I think that alone may draw some people.

STAR TREK – 2nd Qtr
Excitement Level 4/5
This trailer showed a lot of new footage, most of it action oriented. What also seems poignant was that the focus still seems to be on the new Kirk. This definitely isn’t your father’s Star Trek. While some die hard Trekkers may not be into all the action they’re showing, on the flip side it’s making me want to see it even more.

UP – 2nd Qtr
Excitement Level 1/5
Once again Pixar plays up their pedigree of really great movies by suggesting that UP will fall in line with what they’ve done before. Didn’t see any new footage here, with the exception of the great joke at the end with the scout losing the GPS, so it was hard for me to get really excited about this movie from what I saw in the trailer.

MONSTERS VS ALIENS – Halftime
Excitement Level 2/5
I didn’t think they utilized the 3D glasses very well and hopefully seeing the movie in 3D will be better than seeing the trailer on TV in 3D. Having said that, they showed a lot of new footage that I hadn’t seen before. These new scenes were funny and had a few good jokes.

RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN – 3rd Qtr
Excitement Level 3/5
Don’t usually get excited for Disney movies but this trailer showed a lot that I hadn’t seen. I liked how it started off by establishing The Rock’s role as a cab driver in Vegas. The basic storyline was also established in this short trailer as well with lots of effects shots mixed in to help out. Kinda looks like The Gameplan meets Men In Black.

TRANSFORMERS 2 – 3rd Qtr
Excitement Level 4/5
Let’s recap the footage they showed in this trailer: an aircraft carrier being blown up, robots transforming, and Optimus Prime fighting a huge robot. I don’t know about you but I’m definitely excited for this sequel.

13
Jan
09

The Ultimate Top 10

I have to thank Adam & Matty over at Filmspotting.net for talking about and posting this link to Movie City News(MCN) who give us the granddaddy of all top ten lists for movies for 2008:

  1. Wall-E
  2. The Dark Knight
  3. Slumdog Millionare
  4. Milk
  5. The Wrestler
  6. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  7. Happy Go Lucky
  8. Rachael Getting Married
  9. Man on Wire
  10. Frost/Nixon

Basically MCN has scoured the Internet, magazines, newspapers and any other media where critics have posted their movie top ten lists for last year and combined them to make this one huge list. I’m not exactly sure how the math works out but I believe just from looking at the data that these two items factor into the equation:

  1. The number of “list mentions” a film has (how many lists a particular film appears on)
  2. Where that film appears on that particular list (ranking).

Now I’m not one follow the advice of critics. I believe that we all have our own opinions and personal tastes when it comes to movies so we shouldn’t get too wrapped up in what critics have to say. However, what I do like about this list is what we get out of the combination of 286 different lists. While I generally take what critics say with a grain of salt, if after 286 lists a lot of them are talking about the same thing–then there’s got to be something there. I think a film has to be doing something right if a lot of critics are talking about it. Granted it’s not the definitive answer for what was the best movie of last year, but I think it’s a good measuring stick for films that maybe deserve to be talked about.

What I hope to use it for is to find out what were some of the films of 2008 that I still need to see (I can tell you already that Slumdog Millionare and Milk are already at the top). Having this amalgamation of 286 critics’ choices I’m sure I can find a few more gems that got past me last year and I can’t wait to catch up. What did I overlook?

To check out MCN’s entire list, click on this link.




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