Basically, you've got an accelerometer in your shoe and it's wirelessly transmitting data to your iPod for viewing on the screen, voice feedback through the ears, and later syncing with the the Nike+ website.
I know that doesn't sound like much, but trust me, it's worth it. I just recently completed the Utica 15K Boilermaker in record time. Record time for me, not for the Boilermaker. 1:23:46 was the time (5:57 better than last year). In any case, I need to do a lot more training next time and get that number way down. Nike + iPod will help.
Of course this meant that I had to run out and buy an iPod Nano (1 GB) because that's the only iPod that the Sport Kit will work with. I passed it off as buying it for Molly. Now hopefully she won't fight me over it when I want to go for a run. The other purchase they try to get you to make is that of the too expensive Nike + shoes that have a compartment under the left insole specifically designed to hold the sensor. Don't be fooled! You don't need the shoes for this to work. I'm using a key pocket attached to the bottom of my laces (which looks like this only less dorky). Nice and secure and by all accounts just as accurate as having it under your fat foot.
I finally received the Sport Kit via FedEx today. It was amazingly easy to set up. Plug in the wireless receiver to the bottom of the iPod and instantly you have a Nike + iPod menu to choose your workout, adjust your settings, or view your workout history right on your iPod. I took it out to the track and calibrated it at 400 meters. It was extremely accurate on my subsequent 3 mile run. It was a great run for me. The female voice feedback was actually very encouraging and peppy. It was almost like she really wanted me to reach my goal. At any time you can get the voice feedback to tell you your total time, total distance, and current pace by clicking the center button. That was all great, but that's only half the fun.
Next you take your iPod home and sync it up. iTunes prompts you to upload your running data automatically to the Nike + website. This site is a thing of beauty. Check it out if you don't believe me. You can view the site without having to sign up for an account. It's all Flash, if you're into that sort of thing. All your data is there, presented to you in gorgeous charts and graphs. You can set goals, challenge virtual runners, check out your records, and view your full running history. Nice!
Here's where I'm at:
1 run for a total of 3.03 miles with an average pace of 7'41" per mile. My fastest 1 mile is 7'35".
Hopefully I can bump those numbers up (or down as the case may be) shortly.
When all else fails try ... running.
The next big thing is taping the auditions. Are you guys ready for this?
Above are two stills from Scene 1, one each from the narrative and interview sections of the scene. I'll try to post two stills from each scene as I get them processed.
In this scene, Tim watches his favorite film, taking notes, and playing along to various scenes. It was a fun scene to shoot. We basically turned off all the lights, then brought up a few lamps and as many candles as we could find around the room. The television provided the rest of the light. Fortunately, Jeremy is as obsessed with the film in question as Tim is, so he was able to work the remote, blasting back and forth to various scenes in the film as we shot. Then, Tim discusses what inspires him about film, and his ideas for a new kind of film.
Lady in the Water is the latest film from M. Night Shayamalan, the auteur who exploded onto the scene so brilliantly he's become doomed to a level of scrutiny beyond anyone I can think of in film history. Worse yet, since he works by choice exclusively in the Suspense/Thriller genre, he is to a degree flexing the same filmmaking muscle's each time out, lending to a tendancy of not only comparing the merit of each film, but an internal comparison against his other works. That, Manoj, is the critical baggage you must drag through the airport of cinema.
Lady in the Water presents, from its opening credits on, a modern day fairly tale. One that takes ordinary people (a stuttering apartment building superintendant played by Paul Giamatti, for one) in an ordinary location (the aforementioned apartment building, with a cast of iconic characters) and traces their reaction to the extraordinary around and within. Even though the this is an ancient Eastern tale, the characters in it have names like narfs and scrunts (really) and so on. It's a tall tale, but is it a good one? When your stretching this far, you have to be very careful.
The film succeeds where Night is most comfortable, peering around corners but not quite, talking about things without mentioning them directly. This is the classic tension that he employs so well, and it's present in this film, though with fewer moments overall where you're likely to jump out of your seat. Where the film fails is the extent to which Night allows us to peak around the corners, what is allowed to walk around the corners, and the detail to which the mythology is laid out. If the Village prematurely revealed and then allowed too extended a view of its monsters, then Lady in the Water invites them over for tea and scones and proceeds to talk them to death, every last secret.
Night wants to make believers out of all of us. Yet, I'm not sure if he wants us to actually buy into this tale, or if he wants to prove to himself that he can make us buy in. There is so much self-referentialism at work here, I'm left feeling that perhaps this was more of an exercise than anything else. He even gives himself a major role in the film. He's not bad, but the whole thing is... yicky. In the end, he did make me believe one thing: Somewhere in Lady in the Water is a very good suspense film, once you strip off the goofy creature names, keep them further out of view, take out the clever self-referencing, and the bloated cameo. Keep these elements in and you are left with Night's most unrealized film to date, and left scratching your head.
Yet, it's not nearly as bad as the critics make it out to be. When they decry the film as final proof of Night's fraud, it strikes of bitterness, and perhaps rightfully so. The only non-beastly bad guy in the film is a film critic, soulless and petty. Sadly, while the critics' scenes provide an inside joke or two to filmmakers, they also provide the most direct break from the suspension of disbelief this film so hopelessly clings to. Well, Night certainly got his, but the critics may have the last laugh when it comes to this film and potentially all of his future efforts.
The Devil Wears Prada on the other hand... now here's a good excuse to watch her in action. Fashion is big: What Not To Wear, Project Runway, America's Next Top Model, as good as any other mind-numbing shows on television if you have to pass some time. Prada cpatures the same ruthlessly fickle world, but is quality work, well-written, smart and funny. Meryl Streep is always solid, and Stanley Tucci is a wonder to watch. New York, Paris, splendid.
Two hours well spent. A film my mother and I can agree on. Now that's scarier than Tyra Banks demonstrating smiling eyes!
My first brush with Nacho Libre was a larger-than-life placard at the Scottsdale 101 Harkins during the Phoenix Film Festival in March. Jack Black in a cape and tights and the words Nacho Libre. This had to be good, and in fact it turns out it's the funniest and most quotable film in my recent memory.
Ignacio is a friar in a monastary in Oaxaca, Mexico. From a young age, he dreamt of being a Mexican wrestler, a Luchador. Instead, he cooks crappy food for the orphans. Finally, he gets the chance to fulfill his dream.
Jared Hess writes and directs, and infuses his unique style. Like Napolean Dynamite, we have the centered framing (and other anti-cinematic devices) that seems to put us directly in the path of awkward situations with awkward people. It's not written over-the-top, but it's funny beacuase of the goofy characters in goofy situations. Unlike Napolean Dynamite, this film actually has a plot, wherein Nacho has highs and lows, seeking to fulfill his dream and his obligations, and eventually for redemption.
Add to this Jack Black's unique physical flourishes (he's funny 24 hours of the day, reading the newspaper, eating cereal, even while he's sleeping) and an accent that constantly drifts from campy Mexican to other latin languages, and you have some fantastic guilt-free, family-friendly laughs throughout. It's done without a big budget, flashy locations, complicated stunts, or an all-star cast. The end of the movie is uplifting and touching.
This film is everything good and quirky about Napolean Dynamite, with the benefit of a real star and an actual story arc, and it's the funniest film of the year. Go see it!
My original impression of M:I:3 was that finally we had a action/spy film with some great character development. Yet, I have eventually come to the realization that it's not so much that the character's were really elevated beyond action film stereotypes. It's all about the girl.
From frame one, it's about Hunt (Cruise) and his girl (Michelle Monaghan). Hunt and his fiancee. Really, why all the running around and blowing things up in the first two films in this franchise? To save the world? To save his buddies? To save a little something-something fling on side? Hunt is settling down, getting out of the life, committed. Motivation.
So, here we get all the trappings of a great spy film (lots of clever twists and gadgets, these guys can get at anything, anywhere), great locations all around the globe, but with the bonus of just enough depth to make us feel something, and some great supporting acting (PSH, Crudup, Fishburne). Here is a summer blockbuster that actually resembles a real film.
I give the credit to J.J. Abrams, who, fresh off the set of Lost after seven episodes, has a real handle on pushing people's buttons. If the franchise stays in his hands, I'll be first in line to M:I:4.
The X-Men franchise showed so much promise. The first film in the trilogy was so dark and gritty, such a character study of Logan and his mental and emotional baggage. Where did it all go wrong?
X2 threw more mutants and action at us than we could handle, eschewing character development in the process. X-Men: The Last Stand, carries those traits along, and adds bad writing, poor chemistry, and a change of director. To top it off, it features the most over-the-top and unbelievable action and stunts of the trilogy (yes, I am aware we are talking about a movie about mutants).
To succeed in the face of this and suspend disbelief the writing and direction needed to be spot on and we needed some emotional depth to motivate the insanity. Instead, it just fell flat. The best characters get offed early, and even Wolverine comes off as a skinny pretty boy (how the might have fallen).
If you've seen the first two, you will, of course, see this film. It is a spectacle to behold on the big screen, but that's as far as it goes. Here's to more mutant films in the future... one mutant at a time and some character development.
Rewind. Eject. Return. Forget.
The New World is enigmatic director Terrance Malick's first film for the 21st century (he seems to make a film only every decade or so). It is the story of the young Indian girl Pocahontas (Q'Orianka Kilcher), and by relation the story of John Smith (Colin Farrell) and the clashes between British settlers and American Indians. Is it a historical epic, or a nature film? It's a little of both, but really as unique a film experience as I have had in a long time.
In anyone else's hands, the story would have leaned to a grandiose epic, classically shot, with breathtaking set pieces, sweeping battles, ornate costumes, virtuous ideals, all the trappings. In Malick's hands, it's a personal film, dirty, sickly, grounded, shot with available light, handheld, jump cuts, voiceovers, discontinuous, jarrign, dream-like, with extended shots of landscapes of aching beauty. Farrell speaks with his natural accent, Kilcher really is 14 years old, and you get the real sense they spent long days in the dirt and wet and cold to get the feeling right. And for all the modern and avant guard technique, it feel as true to the time period as anything I have ever seen.
Morally, no one is right or wrong. Everyone suffers one tragedy or another. British and Indians fight at eye level, hacking each other up, and it's all senseless and comes across as so. There is no agenda, only honesty.
The film works on many levels. It has been called slow by some, but felt just right to my taste. The only failing to me was when the story took a wide right turn with forty minutes left, eventually landing in the aforementioned ornate and lustrous locales, and losing touch with the original tone. Yet, it was in the interests of wrapping up the story faithfully to history, so perhaps my beef is with history, and not with the film.
Time to check out everything Malick has ever directed. Have no fear, it's a short list.
The Five Obstructions finds legendary Danish filmmaker Jørgen Leth undergoing a sort of filmmaker's therapy under the guidance of vanguard filmmaker Lars Von Trier (Dogville, Dogme95). In this captivating documentary, Lars forces Jørgen to remake one of his earliest short film, The Perfect Human, five times over.
Each time, Lars places one or more obstructions, or challenges, on the project, in an attempt to prod and provoke the elder filmmaker. Sometimes, it's an uncomfortable location, a new form, or even restricitions on how the film is to be shot or edited. The results? You'll have to watch and see, but it's worth the viewing. The original film is a captivating and amusing experimental film, with plenty of meat to explore in many variations.
Riveting to myself as a filmmaker, I will admit it will be of lesser interest to non-filmmakers. It insightful to see two accomplished filmmakers conversing, willingly subjecting themselves to the type of challenges we go through all the time. For them, it's therapy, a change of pace. To us, it's a way of life.
The Rural Route Film Festival has officially selected The Visitor for it's short film program. The film will screen as part of the "The Horror... The Horror..." short program on Saturday, July 29th at 9:30pm at Anthology Film Archives, New York City, New York.
The TucsonFilm.com ShortFest's online section of their film festival is now online. It features all of the wonderful films screened at the event, plus special online-only selections, including The Subject, Johnny B. Naked, and The Visitor.
June's Cinema Lounge was sold-out with standing room only! Haven't been yet? What are you waiting for?IFP/PHX's next Cinema Lounge is Friday, July 14. The evening starts at 7:30 pm with networking, an 7:45 pm screening of the short films, a Q&A with the filmmakers afterwards and more networking!
Films this month include:
• PORCELAIN directed by David Libertella (Arizona student short film winner 2006 PFF)
• Shorts from Matter of Chance Productions (Joshua J. Provost, Brock H. Brown, Gabriel Loyer) including LEONARDO, INTENSE MATH, APPLIED GENOMICS, THE GLOVE BOX, OUTSIDE IN and PANTOMIMING.
• DASHING DINER written by Nicole Natale (2004 Phoenix Film Festival)
Snacks and drinks will be available for purchase; beer and wine will be available with donation. Admission is $5. Seating is limited to 60 people. . Tickets can be purchased ahead of time online! http://pff-insider.c.topica.com/maaeYeXabrRtobp0RaUb/or by calling 602-955-6444North Valley Community Playhouse is located at 13043 N Cave Creek Road in Phoenix. It is North of Cactus Blvd and Sweetwater Blvd and South of Greenway. It is West of the 51 Highway and the theatre is in a mall on East
side of road.
It was July 5, 2005 when I made this post and this post about Matter of Chance's first year and what was to come. How about a quick review of the objectives, and what has actually transpired from July 2005 through June 2006?
- Submit last years films to select film festivals - I've been doing this off and on. At this point, most of our films have been screened in one venue or another, and The Visitor is being screened at an upcoming festival. Overall, I would have liked to submit more often, but I'm hitting the ones with cheap (or free) entry fees as they come along.
- Finish Tim Nm, CPA - Haha, not a chance. I'd need to start it before I could finish it. I did jump ahead and start working on Days of Being Wrinkle Free, and that's about 50% done, so that's some progress.
- Finish The Subject - Hey, done.
- Finish TMINM music video (woods footage) - Haven't touched it.
- Finish TMINM documentary - No touchee.
- I'm Not Crazy, Pantomiming, and Outside In Director's Cuts - This is done, too. All those film films, color corrected and really polished up.
- Release MoC DVD - Not done, but I think CustomFlix is a good way to go on this. Need to go back and get commercial clearances to some of the music before we can do it legally.
- Intenser Math (Screenplay, Gabe?) - I think we eventually soured on sequels.
- Tim Nm 2 (already conceptualized) - No way Jeremy would help out with this one.
- Wildlifeless - Actually shot most of it just moments before June 2006 expired.
- Young Castro (starring Gabe) - Much more well-developed now. It has a name, Sierra Maestra. A storyline. Subtext. And no screenplay, yet.
- Brothers/California story - Also continues to brew, but no real plans.
- Songwriter? - I guess Gabe never felt strongly enough about this to take it to the next level. However, music and bands are definitely on my list to tackle at some point. It's something I know well.
- Update MoC web site - More than updated, we have a legit web site, and it's regularly updated!
I'd say we're batting about 50% on those objectives. We finished Leonardo and made a 48-hour film, Rendezvous. I guess we have done some other stuff, although the actual new film output has been pretty low. So many good ideas are brewing and being really meticulously polished, there's some really great stuff right around the corner.
OK, so what's in store for the next twelve months (keeping it to 10 bullets this time around)?
- Finish Days of Being Wrinkle Free
- Finish Wildlifeless
- Finish Tim Nm, CPA
- White Bread
- Searching for Manscare
- :30 Commerical Challenge in September
- 48-Hour Challenge next February
- Release MoC DVD, Volume 1
Sierra Maestra is still very questionable considering I don't have a script, and I'm thinking twice about tackling anything out of state after the Wildlifeless experience. Still, that's a lot of stuff to get done, a lot of awesome films, mostly written by Brock. I think we might actually get all of this stuff done.
Traveling has been the thing really keeping me down, in many respects. Like last time I traveled, we eneded up seeing a lot of movies, but I didn't get to posting this time around, unfortunately. I have long list of blog topics to get to, but it just keep growing. The traveling situation is about to change for the better.
I've been very busy, actually. There is a lot of good stuff to talk about. OK, so I'm going to finish a final report for work, and then dig into it. Catch up on six months of so of blogging. Watch out!