Below you can check out a short film from Director Joe Miale. I got to work with Joe when I first moved to LA on this music video, and later got to help him out with the production of this short promo piece. It was the first time I had ever been on set with a lot of green screen, but this was the result, and I think its the business, check it out!
Here's a little video I finally completed, it was shot a few weeks ago at the Major League Gaming convention in Anaheim, CA. My little brother happens to be extremely good at a game called Starcraft 2, a real-time strategy game put out by Blizzard, and he was playing it competitively at the convention, along with Halo: Reach and Call of Duty: Black Ops. It was a really fun, exhausting experience (the first day we stayed up watching him play till 2am in the morning) and here is the video chronicling our experience, enjoy.
Music: In Flames - Sounds of a Playground Fading
Ahh, what to say? I always intend to keep these blog posts short, and then I end up blathering on and on. Call it a character flaw, maybe I don't know how to stop, or perhaps I am unable to efficiently collect my thoughts, and present them in a concise manner. Maybe, if I kept my writing short and focused, I could actually do more posting. I've noticed my frequency of posting has dropped off of late, chalk that up to the subconscious realization that it will take too long to post about something that maybe at the end of the day isn't that important, which is why I've forced myself to not post about each individual episode (and thank goodness I didn't, that would get old fast). Oh, and what am I talking about here?
Well, the season finale of Game of Thrones did air last night.
And wouldn't that be considered a huge event, especially after the shocker we received in episode 9? Well, one might think, but I for one felt it was a mixed bag. There were some good scenes and the fallout from the event I won't mention for spoiler purposes certainly laid the groundwork for exciting times ahead, but for the most part this episode felt like mostly setup. Doesn't mean it wasn't good, I've taken the stance the entire season that every episode has been at least "good" but this was another example of the TV team not being able to fully utilize the richness of the source material due to time and budget constraints.
I don't want to turn this into a "this is why the books are better" thread, but to give just one example from last night's finale - There were several scenes that just involved talking, but they were infinitely better in the book, and this is why. All the characters in those scenes in the book are indeed "characters." They feel real, they feel like they have a history. That is one of Martin's strengths, he writes them in a way that even with a bit character in the background, with a sentence or two, he can give them a back-story that your mind can help fill in the gaps on, and thus the proceedings feel incredibly rich.
In fact, last night after watching the show, three friends and I who have all read the books sat around until about 1am talking about, among other things, our favorite characters from the series. The funny thing is, most of them, if they were in the show at all, would either be severely cut down or cut out entirely, because in most cases our favorites are those characters that aren't main characters with POV chapters, like Bryndon Tully the Blackfish, or Ser Author Dayne, the Sword of the Morning (who Ned had to battle and kill after the Trident). Their stories are being told by other characters, which makes them cooler because other people are speaking their stories in a way that makes them mythical, and even legendary.
There are only so many characters that can be shown in a TV show in a meaningful sense however. For instance, in Robb's war council, in the books we may understand family history and motivation for all the Lords commanding under Robb, in the show, its just a collection of actors in armor, and all the storytelling focus is on the Starks. Thats ok, especially for someone who is just watching the show. For someone like me, I see it as a adaptation flaw that is sometimes difficult to overcome when judging what I'm watching.
Perhaps its too faithful to the source materiel in the end. In a show like The Walking Dead, I ended up appreciating the deviations from the comic that the showrunners took the show to. I think culminated in a more entertaining product for me, because I truly felt like I was watching an adaptation. Here, there are added scenes, but they almost always feel hollow somehow, because in most cases the book was able to tell that part of the story or fill in that information in a superior way, and I'm left feeling I watched something that was... lesser somehow.
From a production standpoint however, even with the budget and time constraints inherent to television, I feel like this is about as good as we can get. The cast is overall very solid and plot-wise, there are exciting times ahead for these characters (even if the exciting moments may be tempered by budgetary constraints in the end).
So what did I think of Game of Thrones Season 1? In short, it was good. But I can't call it great. That word still belongs solely to the books.
Crap. I did turn it into a "this is why the books are better" post. Plus, I ended up blathering again...
Wow, its been a while (relatively) since I've posted. Well, here's the first post in June.
Some of you may have noticed I've been conspicuously quiet concerning a film that came out last weekend that I had a little prediction on in a previous post.
Well, I saw it last weekend, but didn't feel like writing about it until I had seen it again. The flick to which I'm referring is of course X-Men: First Class, and upon its first viewing, I walked away with decidedly mixed feelings.
Without going into plot-specific spoilers (for those of you that haven't seen it), I was torn about certain things. For one, upon first viewing, I thought the period aspect of the piece worked… and didn't work at the same time. There seemed to be a thin venire of 60's camp that seemed to lay over the top of a very strong dramatic core that carried the film. As I understand it, there were quite a few actors from various big and small screen properties of the 1960's that made their way into the movie (and I was aware of this by 3 people sitting directly behind me, who insisted on laughing loudly whenever one of these generation-specific easter eggs appeared).
Sorry guys, it was lost on me, wrong generation.
There was even a slight Scooby-Doo aspect in regards to the younger members of the team, and as Vaughn mentioned in numerous interviews, he was trying to add a Bond vibe to the proceedings, which I think he achieved (and which thankfully fell short of being Austin Powers level of campiness). So in that regard, I'd say that worked without being too distracting, as the period nature of the piece in my opinion warranted the vibe of secret agents, shadowy agencies, and big over the top world-ending plotting by the villains.
However, the previously mentioned things did throw me for a loop the first time I watched it. In fact, in many ways, the first viewing was a victim of overblown expectations. Whenever I watch anything pertaining to a film beforehand that pushes my buttons, whether it be a trailer, filmmaker interview, ect., and I know the director or actors attached warrant a high level of expectation in and of themselves, I tend to almost always be disappointed when I first watch a film.
In anything, one's imagination is often the most powerful force in play. When I imagine how amazing a film will be (especially if it concerns characters/stories I'm familiar with), many times the actual product just can't compete. Disappointment follows, but if you allow yourself to watch the piece again, often-times your expectation have now flown the coop, and you can just take in the film on its own merits.
And thats what I found here. I appreciated the period nature of the film and the aesthetic used much more the second time around (it also helped that I saw it in a silent theater at noon in the middle of the week, so no loudies to take me out of the experience).
Those were the things I had to come around to, the things that I loved from the get-go on this film was the two main characters, and their story told. Eric and Charles (Prof. X and Magneto, respectively), were a fantastic case of two characters with infinitely different backgrounds, upbringings, and life experiences that somehow came together to form a bond as friends and pillars of their cause. I loved that Charles feels Eric's pain, you can see it in his eyes, red-rimmed and drowned in sadness, which were a mirror of Eric's as he stared into the void of what Eric went through ie. Nazi concentration camps, and a life fueled by revenge. I loved that when Eric refuses to go along with the government in finding more mutants with their help, Charles backs him up. It may not be exactly what Charles would of done if he was acting alone, but in this case, he went to bat for his friend. It makes their eventual break in philosophy that much more heartbreaking.
Speaking of the future Magneto, the scenes of his life from a young boy (which start in a eerie reflection of what was the most gripping scene from X-Men 1 - the death march into the concentration camp, Eric's separation from his parents, and subsequent manifestation of his powers), and continue into a globe trotting mission of revenge to track down those responsible for his pain, are easily some of the best of the film.
On the first viewing, I was actually of the opinion that having the addition of the other team members (Banshee, Havok, Beast, Darwin, ect) actually brought the film down a little bit, as attention is shifted from the heart of the film, which was the story of Charles and Eric. On second viewing I admit I was a little wrong, as they are for the most part woven in rather well, but in the finale I couldn't help but be taken out of it when they cut away from Magneto facing down Shaw. I kept screaming in my head, "alright already, back to the good stuff"! That's not to say I didn't like the ancillary characters, I did, especially Beast, Banshee, and Mystique. Their stories carried an emotional weight (well, maybe not Banshee's - he was played for laughs), but by the end, when certain characters go their separate ways, it hurts a little.
It has to be said, there are a few few cringe worthy lines ("Mutant… and proud" and a few "I'm the villain look at me" lines from Kevin Bacon, who actually was surprisingly good overall, that stood out), but the script was generally pretty solid, with Magneto getting some powerful scene stealing lines - seriously, did we know that Michael Fassbender was this good?
This was a good movie, and another notch in Matthew Vaughn's belt after Kick-Ass. Did I think it was the best X-flick yet? Arguably, but I will say Sunday night after watching First Class I re-watched X2, and but damn if that still isn't a great movie years later. Its probably still my favorite superhero movie, but this comes close. I did love how if anything, Vaughn ignores X-Men 3 and Wolverine, and include bits from both of Singer's movies, which make them all feel connected and important to this installment. Smart, considering the steam the X-Franchise had going after Singer made his two movies, steam that had been rapidly let out until this one came along.
I'm hoping the grosses on this are strong enough to warrant several sequels, because I would love to continue the journey of these two character's evolutions as they grow in age and experience. James McAvoy stated that he hopes that eventually they can make this into a trilogy that ends where the first X-Men started. Hopefully they can, I would love to see Vaughn direct Fassbender's Magneto and McAvoy's Prof. X once (or twice) again, and who knows who they can bring along to fill out the merry mutants cast?
Personally, I'm hoping for some Sam Guthrie (Cannonball) action.
Now, back to that prediction - will this turn out to the best Marvel movie of the summer? Well, right now, it has the edge over Thor (which I really liked, but felt came in below this), and only after Joe Johnson's Captain America we'll know for sure, but I do know this - Cap better be really good to beat this out.
On a non-X note, for those of you who may have missed it, last week's episode of Game of Thrones "The Pointy End" (written by series author George RR Martin) was easily the best yet, had some great action scenes, and some awesome one-liners as well ("tell Tywin Lannister that winter is coming for him").
Oh, and the Greatjon. Can't forget the Greatjon.
I'm definitely getting more comfortable with the show now that the stakes have been raised and we're nearing the conclusion, and for those of you not on board yet… well, I hope a DVD box set of this season is in your future.
Its been a while since I posted any music, but by no means have I not been doing stuff musically, so here's a rough piece I worked on for the ending to a scene for a horror short some of my cohorts recently shot.
Enjoy, I tried to nail that creepy vibe, more work may be needed, but its a start.
Updates for Love Snail, and the myriad of other things being worked on...
Wow, before I start, I really should probably rename my site to "Game of Brew" or "A Song of Stew and Brew" or something, because it seems like all I've been doing lately is blogging about the Song of Ice and Fire books and the TV show. Well, now that I've finished the books again, that will probably slow down, and I'll also restrain myself from writing after every episode I see, as that would get old as well.
It should be said that now that the reading hole formerly filled by ASOIAF is now emptied anew, I'm filling it again once more with comics... and I'm going straight to the core of the hard with the most Marvel of Marvel comics, namely Avengers and Amazing Spider Man as the books I've been catching up on lately.
Without going into extreme detail, it should be said that ever since Dan Slott took over on ASM as the solo writer, the book has been on an EXTREMELY high level. It's interesting, because during Brand New Day, I thought Slott's offerings were the weakest of the writing team's on a pretty consistent basis. However, I think when he took over, his enthusiasm for getting to do exactly what he wanted with one of his on-record favorite characters, plus the fact that this became his only writing project at Marvel (the book is coming out 2x a month, and often is oversized), culminated in the book being rock solid every month. I just read the last 6 or 7 issues (which included the latter part of BIG TIME going into the fallout from Johnny Storm's death and Spidey joing the FF), which brings up another reason that I think Slott is awesome for this book - whenever the FF are in one of his books, it instantly becomes stronger, and is infused with a quirky energy that otherwise isn't there. I have no idea why Slott hasn't been offered to write FF proper before, but I can only hope once Hickman's run is over (which hopefully isn't too soon, because I'm loving FF right now), Slott will get his chance, because when he writes those characters, they are fun, full of personality, and are interpretations that I seem to remember from my childhood (Hickman's take is a little more mature in contrast, although with the cast of characters he has going, its often still a lot of fun as well). But lets hope Marvel puts Slott (maybe with Marcos Martin - one can dream) on the book soon.
I just started reading the first few issues of the second arc of Bendis' Avengers proper title, and its a little too soon to tell how it will pan out, but there's definitely enough there to keep me reading (Infinity Gems and the Inhumans will do that). I thought the first arc of the book was simply ok, and it helps that one of my favorite artists of all time is on it (I think JRJR is the quintisential modern-yet-retaining-classic feel of Marvel artist that the company has today [although the previously mentioned Marcos Martin is getting up there]). For those of you who listened to my podcast when it was dominating the internet courtesy of Rosa/Humphries/Monroe will remember I mentioned that I had dropped the book when the Red Hulk showed up, but I promptly collected back issues of said title once I realized the Inhumans were appearing (Attilan represent!). I'll overlook Rulk for that. I'm also interested in this arc because it seems to be the spiritual sequel of sorts to Bendis and Brian Reed's "The Illuminati" mini from a few years back (the infinity gems were the major plot point, great mini). So, hopefully this story lives up. At the very least, I have pretty Romita art to look at.
Now that I rambled about comics (which actually was not my intent, promise) I wanted to present a special offering from a very special person. Those of you faithful Meltcast listeners may remember him calling in, and also may remember us trying to address his essay length emails he sent in (which always sparked interesting discussion) - but let me present a sample from a email I received recently from the one and only ARMLESS NOT HARMLESS! He had just finished reading A Game of Thrones, and I thought had a very well-worded description of his love for the book, so here it is!
(*the following has been edited for spoilers)
Aaron, I just finished A Game of Thrones not too long ago. Holy wow. That was a hell of a ride. I can see why you liked it. It has those hooks that just sink into your guts and then it pulls on them. I liked it all until ****** died... The whole book was affecting me for days on end--especially when I got the time to read several chapters a day--but that really did it. I had even gotten somewhat attached to ****** and *****, which I wouldn't've done if just about anyone else was writing them, and yet when the one ***** and the other loses the *****, it couldn't hurt as bad because I was already in shock over the fact that ***** had already *****. The tale is just one raw action after another, some good, some bad, but you always get the concentrated, undiluted essence of those actions. In Kill Bill--which, I loved -- the Bride tells the daughter of the assassin that she kills that if she's still raw about it when she's older, then come find her. It's that kind of raw. You get completely immersed in these characters, and all their points of view--I really love it, by the way, that Martin simply titles each chapter by the name of the character whose perspective it's from--and it's their struggles that are completely gripping, that human search for meaning, maybe in Viktor Frankl's sense, in a pure, pure form. The book succeeds as a work of fiction, a drama, a fantasy--I absolutely love his take on magic, by the way, and the gods and religion.
Most fantasy writers will make the magic something with a definite form, definite rules, and the best of these writers devise very, very interesting forms. For example, I love Robert Jordan's in his Wheel of Time series and like Christopher Stasheff's in Her Majesty's Wizard quite a bit, but not so much Gordon R. Dickson's in his Dragon Knight series. I can't love or hate Tolkien's at all because I don't even see what it is, apart from the power of the ring to grant invisibility--I know nothing about Gandalf's magic, the Flame that he keeps, or the Wizards in general. Martin's is so based in dramatic action itself that it's actually quite believable, in my opinion, at least within the confines of the story. It's vague but strong, if that makes sense, or, if not strong, because that implies that it's more subject to oneself than it is, then maybe present. It's not the usual genre fare, which one sometimes tolerates as part of the genre even in the best cases, and which is often overly indulgent, from an artistic point of view, just because the writer can bank on a high level of tolerance from his or her readers for genre tropes or artistic indulgence. It's quite possible that there is no magic in Martin's world at all, if you catch my meaning, because the magic doesn't stand out separate from the development of the characters or the action of the plot.
I say that I can see why you like it, because I know how you--very justifiably--love Scalped and The Walking Dead, and it resembles those two books. Rich, well-developed characters, character-driven plot, a plot that actually goes somewhere, a plot that both pleases the reader and drives the nail of desire ever deeper into him or her. Each installment gives you something and makes you want more...
-Armless Not Harmless
Ok, wanted to get the Scalped love in, but we'll cut it off there and now that this post is huge, see ya next time!
(Poll: do you like "Game of Brew" or "A Song of Stew and Brew" better? You're input will... make no difference, because I'm not changing the name, but go ahead anyways!)
P.S. On a not-so-completely different note, saw THOR, and you know what... Marvel's got another winner! I'm still debating whether its better than IRON MAN 1, and that's all you need to know if you're wondering what you thought I think of its quality... It was great! Maybe I'll go into more detail later... maybe not. We'll see if the mood takes me, but bottome line - worth a watch.
The summer of 2011 is set to have a lot of huge releases in our local theatres.
I'm not going to go through the laundry list, but superhero-comics-based films include DC's GREEN LANTERN, and of course Marvel's big studio films THOR and CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER (why did they have to have the tagline on that title?). However, in my mind the frontrunner for the best of the bunch may be Fox's X-MEN: FIRST CLASS. Its not getting the hype of THOR and CAP (perhaps due to the last several X-releases being less than X-cellent), but the promise of the film is quietly growing in my mind.
I initially lowered my expectations quite a bit when I began to hear from studio insiders that the online rumors suggesting the production of the film was having problems was indeed true. I'd been excited to hear Bryan Singer was at least producing this time, and one of my favorite up and coming directors, Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass) was behind the camera this time around. He and his writing partner Jane Goldman were even working on a draft of the script, but as things went on, it seemed the studio wasn't giving him the time or things came up on his schedule that may have rushed aspects of the production, which also included the dreaded re-shoots (Wolverine, we know how that turned out for you).
Whatever was the case, flashing forward, when promos for the film began appearing, it wasn't looking good. The posters looked like lame photoshop jobs, the stills weren't anything to be excited about, and I was unsure about how the time period of the film would be handled.
Then I watched actual footage in the form of the recent trailers.
And color me impressed. I know its dangerous to judge a film based on the trailers (trust me, I have not forgotten X3, which had an AWESOME trailer), but the spots for First Class are selling me on the story as well as the visuals, and I think since its Vaughn, this movie has a chance to be really good. And when I say really good, I think it will be better than Thor or Cap.
Like I said, its just conjecture and speculation at this point since I haven't seen any of them, but I'm picking my horse now.
Matthew Vaughn, don't let me down...
(and beyond that, please don't let them make 3 subpar X-flicks in a row - our merry muties have been through enough already).
I'm going to make this quick because the headline says it all, but HELL YES. I was worried because last night (Monday night, the night after the premiere episode) I was nervously searching the web for updates about ratings for the pilot, and the initial numbers weren't looking great. Because as we all know, even with a critically-acclaimed, high quality show, if there aren't butts in the seats, season 2, or *shudder to think* the rest of season 1 could have been in jeopardy. But, thank the heavens, enough people (and apparently a LOT of people in the UK) watched the show, and after a strong showing, the HBO powers-that-be decided to renew for a second season already.
Here's a posting from tvbythenumbers.com, which breaks down the numbers, and also includes the official press release -
The initial telecast of the premiere of Game of Thrones averaged 2.2 million viewers (and a 0.9 adults 18-49 rating) and grossed 4.2 million viewers across multiple Sunday night airings on the primary HBO channel. That compares to 4.8 million for the initial telecast and 7.1 million gross for the premiere of Boardwalk Empire. But no need to sweat the ratings for a while…
Update: for those keeping score, the Monday night reruns added another 1.2 million to the gross. And in the UK, GoT >Boardwalk Empire.
via press release:
HBO RENEWS GAME OF THRONES FOR SECOND SEASON
LOS ANGELES, April 19, 2011 – Following strong critical and viewer response to the series’ April 17 debut, HBO has renewed GAME OF THRONES for a second season, it was announced today by Michael Lombardo, president, HBO Programming.
“We are delighted by the way David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have brought George R.R. Martin’s amazing book series to the screen, and thrilled by the support of the media and our viewers,” said Lombardo. “This is the continuation of an exciting creative partnership.”
Based on the bestselling fantasy book series “A Song of Ice and Fire,” by George R.R. Martin, GAME OF THRONES follows kings and queens, knights and renegades, liars and noblemen as they vie for power in a land where summers span decades and winters can last a lifetime.
Among the early critical raves, TV Guide has called the show “a crowning triumph” and “brilliant,” while the Los Angeles Times termed GAME OF THRONES “a great and thundering series,” as well as “wild and bewitching.” The Hollywood Reporter praised the “excellent storytelling, superb acting and stunning visual effects,” and the New York Post observed that the “art directing, acting and incredible sets are as breathtaking as the massive scope of the series.”
The gross audience for the premiere night of GAME OF THRONES on the main HBO channel was 4.2 million viewers.
The season one cast includes (in alphabetical order): Mark Addy, Alfie Allen, Sean Bean, Emilia Clarke, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Peter Dinklage, Michelle Fairley, Aidan Gillen, Jack Gleeson, Iain Glen, Kit Harington, Lena Headey, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Harry Lloyd, Richard Madden, Rory McCann, Jason Momoa, Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams.
Season one credits: GAME OF THRONES is executive produced by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss; co-executive producers, Carolyn Strauss, Guymon Casady, Vince Gerardis, Ralph Vicinanza and George R.R. Martin; producers, Mark Huffam and Frank Doelger; directors of photography, Marco Pontecorvo, Alik Sakharov and Matt Jensen; production designer, Gemma Jackson; costume designer, Michele Clapton.
Oh yes Tyrion, oh yes.
Winter has arrived at long last.
I've talked about this show a lot in previous posts, but Sunday night I watched the premiere for the first time, and I'll say it here for the record. If you didn't catch the pilot episode of HBO's newest series adapted from George R.R. Martin's bestselling series of epic medieval fantasy novels, well... you need to correct that.
The pilot essentially met all the expectations I had for the material on the dot. I've said before that you can't necessarily judge a entire show based on the pilot, but if the pilot is incredibly strong (an example of which would be last year's gem "Boardwalk Empire") than you can form a reasonable opinion that you're in for quality-wise week in week out.
I was duly impressed with almost every aspect of the show, although some production things, such as the music, was simply passable and served its purpose without doing much more (I'm hoping the music ramps up the tension in future episodes and really is able to sell the epic scope of the story).
Most things though I couldn't have been happier with. The casting especially was spot on, with even minor characters (for now) such as Robb Stark and Ser Jorath Mormont becoming alive
just as I had envisioned them when reading. The heavies are of course represented well, and I can't find any fault with Sean Bean as Eddard Stark, Peter Dinklage as Tyrion or Nikolaj Coster Waldau as Jamie Lannister. In fact, these three may be some of the best cast individuals of any TV or movie adaptation in recent memory (especially excited to see how Waldau as Jamie will be able to stretch his acting ability, as his character undergoes one of the best story arcs in the books so far).
The one character I was a little trepidatious about, even with her surprisingly strong portrayal of Sarah Conner in the recent Terminator TV show, was Lena Headey as Cersei. I was frankly a little concerned that she wouldn't have the raw beauty the role required but after watching it I think she pulls it off. Also, the gravitas Headey brings to the role is welcome and I think those who may of shared my initial opinion will be swayed by her acting chops in the end.
Another minor quibble I had that wasn't related to the casting was that I thought the natural sexuality of the show was heightened a bit more than perhaps was necessary. To use an example, I don't know if we needed to see Princess Daenerys Targaryen, who starts the books out at age 13, fully nude and being fondled by her brother in the outset. I know its HBO, and they are trying to cater to an audience that tunes into the network for risque moments, but I thought in that instance maybe it was a bit much. Her moment with Drogo also felt a bit off, as in the books it seemed more tender and not as forceful as it came off on screen. In these instances I preferred the book's suggestion of sexuality, which I think Martin writes well without veering too heavily into x-rated territory.
Also, on that note, I wish they wouldn't of introduced Tyrion in a whorehouse right off the bat. To me, it made his character come off as a bit of a clown initially, but perhaps thats a subconscious mark I gave it because that scene is not included in the books. It did however serve nicely to introduce the relationship Jamie has with his brother, and the scene later with Jon Snow effectively demonstrated what Tyrion is dealing with on an emotional level. Also, there are several moments in the pilot where Tyrion's wit is on full display, which had me smiling ear to ear. Dinklage, I believe, will pull off this role to perfection.
Enough quibbles, this show has an insane amount of promise, and I am incredibly excited and relieved that the showrunner's did the source material justice in the pilot.
Now we'll just have to see if they can keep it up.
Oh, and direwolf pups. We need to see more direwolf pups.
Aaron Brewer is an aspiring filmmaker, musician and writer living in Los Angeles. There are many irons in the fire, and hopefully one day he'll be able to complete all the ideas he has floating around in his brain stew.