Trailer: World War Z (Super Bowl Exclusive)


One of the films that was to have it’s day in the Super Bowl ad campaign rush was Paramount Pictures’ troubled epic zombie apocalypse film, World War Z.

Starring Brad Pitt and directed by Marc Forster, the film is an adaptation (very loosely adapted from the novel) of the novel of the same name written by Max Brooks. Anyone who is even remotely interested in the topic of zombie fiction (or that they’re real like certain awesome people) have read this novel and have been highly anticipating the film. When the first trailer was released several months ago the reaction to the changes made from book to film was a resounding “Huh” to “WTF?!” from fans.

Time will not be changing some of these reactions, but from the sudden release of the Super Bowl ad TV spot that the film will show during Sunday’s Big Game it looks like the film will take the basic premise of the novel and go it’s own way. The zombies being CGI when seen from a distance and moving like ravenous army ants (siafu as the Japanese call them which is also what the zombies were called in the novel).

The film seems to want to see the zombie apocalypse first-hand as it occurs and sped things up to bring more action to the proceedings. This is not a bad thing if the film had been titled other than World War Z, but since it needed to use that name the complaints by fans of the novel will continue. Just based on the trailer and this teaser spot alone it looks like there’s something interesting going on in this film that people will either love or hate. I’m hoping I’ll be of the former than the latter.

World War Z is set for a June 21, 2013 release date.

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Poll: Which Films Are You Most Looking Forward To Seeing In March?


James Franco in Spring Breakers

Last month’s results can be seen here.

As always, you can vote for up to 4 films and write-ins are allowed.

Happy voting!

Guilty Pleasure No. 2: Save The Last Dance (dir by Thomas Carter)


When Arleigh posted his pick for the first guilty pleasure review here on the Shattered Lens, it made me think about just what exactly constitutes a guilty pleasure.

I’ve always been very much of the belief that you should never feel guilty about feeling  pleasure.  Of course, speaking as someone who was raised Catholic, I can tell you that’s a lot easier said than done.  However, I’ve always been the type who can find something to love in just about any film (with the exception of Avatar).  I’ve never felt any sort of guilt about the fact that I can both love a film like Citizen Kane and a film like Confessions of a Go-Go Girl.  If anything, I take a lot of pride in the fact that I can see the value of a film like Confessions of a Go-Go Girl.  

What, I wondered, could I possibly write about?

And that’s when I remembered Save The Last Dance.

Released in 2001 and produced by MTV films, Save the Last Dance tells the story of Sara (played by Julia Stiles), a high school dance student who fails her audition for Juilliard on the same day that her mother is killed in a car accident.  The guilt-stricken Sara gives up on ballet, moves in with her estranged father, and transfers to an urban high school in Chicago.

Sara is literally the only white girl in the entire school but still manages to befriend Chenille (Kerry Washington), who takes her to a club where she meets Chenille’s brother, Derek (Sean Patrick Thomas).  Despite the disapproval of apparently everyone else in Chicago, Sara and Derek start dating.  Derek encourages Sara to try out for Juilliard again but, as the date of Sara’s audition approaches, Derek finds himself pressured to take part in a drive-by shooting.

When Save The Last Dance first came out, I was a 15 year-old ballet student whose life pretty much was all about dancing..  I went to the movie with some friends from dance class and I have to admit that we were pretty catty in the way that only dancers can be.  Our lives, after all, revolved around dance and we weren’t about to cut Julia Stiles any slack just because she spent four months taking ballet lessons before making Save The Last Dance.  While the rest of the audience was content to enjoy Save The Last Dance for what it was, we fixated on how awkward Julia looked during her second audition for Juilliard.  We commented on how nervous her eyes looked whenever she was dancing and how she really didn’t have a dancer’s body.

As one of my friends put it, “There’s no way she would have gotten into Juilliard,” as if Save The Last Dance was meant to be a documentary about ballet as opposed to a teen romance film.

But you know what?

Though I never admitted it to my dance friends, I enjoyed Save The Last Dance  when I first saw it and I still enjoy it today.  Yes, it is obvious that Julia Stiles was not a trained ballet dancer and yes, the film’s look at race relations is more than a little bit idealized but so what?  Sean Patrick Thomas is hot,  the club scenes are fun (and Julia Stiles is more believable as a club dancer than as a ballerina), and director Thomas Carter is appropriately shameless when it comes to manipulating our emotions.  When I watch  this film now, instead of being critical of the film’s unrealistic portrayal of the dancer’s life, I instead see it as a dramatization of every girl’s ideal fantasy.  Like the best fantasies, Save The Last Dance tells us that — if you just believe — you can have it all: hip friends to protect you, a hot guy to love you, and a second chance to go to Juilliard.

Or as Derek says to Sara, “You can do it. Sara, you were born to do it.”

(Incidentally, if not for a memorable supporting character in Save The Last Dance, a New Jersey girl named Nicole Polizzi would never have been nicknamed Snookie.  So there’s that, as well.)

And so, with this post, allow me to officially announce to the world: I love Save The Last Dance and I am not ashamed!

To quote the tagline from Save The Last Dance’s theatrical poster, “The only person you need to be is yourself.”

It Figures (No. 2) Akari Mizunashi


Aria

With my first It Figures column, I talked about one of the more impressive figures in my collection with Godoka.  With this installment, I’d like to talk about what I consider the crown jewel of my collection.  I’m referring to an Azone BJD, or ball jointed doll, of Aria main character Akari Mizunashi.  For those that have followed my posts in the past, you might remember that I listed Aria as an anime you should be watching.  Akari and her boundless enthusiasm and endless amounts of joy at discovering aspects of Neo Venetia is a big reason for that.

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Here is a full view of Akari.  Unlike most standard figures, there are some big differences when you start talking about BJDs.  First off, they’ll almost always have actual cloth clothing.  Second, they’ll have wigs instead of molded plastic hair.  Another thing that makes this figure so special is its size.  It’s a 1:3 scale figure, while most other figures are 1:8 or 1:6.  Even the 1:4 scale figures are not very common, so a 1:3 scale is very much a treat.  The President Aria that she’s holding does not come with the figure, but rather it’s just something I added on separately because it seemed fitting, and for a reason I’ll talk about in a little bit.

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Here is a close up of her face.  Azone has a reputation for making good representations of various characters when they give them the BJD treatment, and this is no exception.  Now, there is a difference between this BJD, and say a Volks BJD.  That is this one has painted on eyes, where most Volks dolls have glass eyes inserted into the eye sockets.  While I personally prefer the glass eyes, to some people they can give the dolls a sort of creepy look.  This style is much less creepy and more likely to be pleasing to fans of the series.

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This is the main accessory that she comes with, her oar that she uses to row her gondola.  I do not often display her with the oar for a simple reason.  It unbalances her terribly.  That base you see under her feet is all that supports her.  There are a couple weak magnets in her shoes that keep her attached, but with her size, it’s not nearly enough to keep her from tipping over.  The oar itself is a full 40″ long and made of wood, so if its weight shifts even a little, she’ll topple right over.  Perhaps if I had a big enough display case where I could lean the oar against it, I’d use it in the display more often because it is really nice.  As it stands though, it took me 5 minutes of fiddling around just to get her to stand properly while holding that oar for this picture.  Much easier just to display her with President Aria.

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As I mentioned, she uses a doll wig instead of molded hair.  Because of this, it takes a little more care to keep it from getting frizzy, but the benefits speak for themselves.  It just cannot be compared to molded plastic hair.  I suppose if one were so inclined, they could do her hair however they wanted.  But, the way it’s meant to be is the best.

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They made sure to take into account the layered look of her hair, as it is in the anime.  Of course, her most distinctive feature is, as Akatsuki always puts it, her sideburns.  Akari is always quick to point out that they’re not sideburns, but whatever you want to call them, they’re adorable either way.

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Just another view of her, this time from the back.  Her uniform is quite faithfully recreated, with a bit of wire in the hem so even it can be posed in the manner that you choose.  This is a nice touch in case you wanted to pose her in an active type position where it wouldn’t make sense to just have the dress laying flat.

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Throughout most of the series, Akari is shown as a Single, which is a level of apprentice gondolier.  This is signified by her wearing one glove.  This is an indication to the public that she cannot take passengers in her gondola without a full fledged gondolier, or Prima.  The glove is able to be removed, so if you so chose, one could display her as a Prima, but I just think the look of a Single suits her more for display purposes.

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One slight downside to her, besides the lack of really good stability, is the fact that she doesn’t really have ankle joints like a lot of BJDs do.  This is because her boots are not really meant to be removed since that’s how she’s made to stay on her base, and so they felt there was no point in putting on ankle joints.  While I can see their point, it does reduce the ability to pose her a little bit, since she can only bend on her knee joints and just slightly forward on the ankles.  Her feet will shift forward slightly, but not nearly to the extent that a person can bend on their ankles in real life.  Beyond this one little nitpick though, she’s a fantastic figure.

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It’s always nice and puts a smile on my face to have Akari welcoming me home with open arms.  Now some might be wondering, what’s she wearing under that uniform?  And to them, I say, none of your business!  Yes, as perverse as I may be most of the time, Aria, and Akari by extension, is serenity.  It’s the one and only show where I will not look for perverse elements, I won’t look at h-doujinshi of it, and I certainly will not look up Akari’s dress at her panties.  She is wearing them, all BJDs tend to have panties and a slip, but I just have no desire to sully her by doing that.  Even I have some semblance of morals now and again!

This figure is certainly not for everyone.  For one thing, the joints tend to turn some people off.  For others, the sheer size of the figure makes it inconvenient to display.  But the main sticking point for people is likely the price.  I was lucky enough to find and purchase her in Japan when I visited there back in 2008, and I got her for the bargain price of 80,000 yen.  At the time, I was getting slightly more than 100 yen per dollar, so she cost me a little less than $800.  That may not seem like a bargain to many, but considering how she now goes at auction for $2500 or more, that is a fantastic price.  I’ve personally been offered $2000 for her, but she is definitely one figure that I will never part with under any circumstances.  She’s just that kind of good.  Some people might look at figures as mere toys, but I think of them as closer to daughters, and I’d never sell my daughters for any price!

Guilty Pleasure No. 1: Half Baked


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“Abba Zabba….You’re my only friend” — Thurgood

With the first month of January 2013 almost coming to an end I thought it was high time to introduce a new feature to the site. This one shall be called “Guilty Pleasure” and it will encompass all sorts of entertainment examples that I and those who on the site who wish to participate that they consider a personal guilty pleasure. It could be any film, music, book or games that one considers a personal favorite despite not being highly accepted by critics and the general population, at large.

The first entry to “Guilty Pleasure” is a stoner comedy that I always end up stopping whatever activity I’m doing at the moment to watch. I have it on DVD, will watch it on cable whenever it’s on and if a Blu-Ray version ever gets released I probably would buy it just to have it. This guilty pleasure film is 1998’s Half Baked starring Dave Chappelle and…well let’s just say all one needs to know is that it stars Dave Chappelle. It’s a mary jane flick that’s reached the levels of the Cheech and Chong flicks of the 70’s and 80’s.

My brother and I have seen this film so many times that we could quote scenes from it almost perfectly. I may not be quite the pothead that the characters in this film end up being, but anyone who has seen Half Baked knows at least one or two who fit the different type of stoners we find in it.

In the immortal words of Sampson Simpson: “YES! Cuban B!”

Artist Profile: Gloria Stoll (1928– )


Stoll1One day in 1941, 17 year-old Gloria Stoll threw away all of her student artwork.  Her building’s janitor rescued her portfolio and showed it to one of her neighbors, a pulp artist named Rafael DeSoto.  With DeSoto’s help, Stoll pursued a successful career as a commercial artist.  From 1941 to 1948, she sold cover art to magazines like All-Story Love, Dime Mystery, and New Love.  She retired from commercial art when she got married in 1948 but she continued to paint.  Her work can be found in the permanent collection of Yale University and the Carnegie Museum of Art.

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The 19th Annual SAG Awards


I’m sick so I ended up sleeping through most of the SAG awards and I missed Argo beating Lincoln for best ensemble. Does this victory mean that Argo is the new front-runner for Best Picture or did the SAG just want to reward a film directed by one of their own? I’m not sure but what I do know for sure is that the Actors’ Branch (made up, of course, by members of the same SAG that embraced Argo) is the biggest voting bloc in the Academy.

Lincoln, by the way, is a pretty good film but it’s also a rather conventional and stately film.  For a lot of people, Argo, which I think is good but not great, connects emotionally in a way that Lincoln doesn’t.

That said, I still think Life of Pi is the best of the all the nominated films and my two favorite films of the year — Anna Karenina and The Cabin In The Woods — weren’t even nominated.

Here are the winners of the 19th Annual SAG Awards.

Winners in Bold

Actor in a Leading Role: Film

  • Bradley Cooper, “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”
  • John Hawkes, “The Sessions”
  • Hugh Jackman, “Les Miserables”
  • Denzel Washington, “Flight”

Actress in a Leading Role: Film

  • Jessica Chastain, “Zero Dark Thirty”
  • Marion Cotillard, “Rust and Bone”
  • Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Helen Mirren, “Hitchcock”
  • Naomi Watts, “Maria”

Actor in a Supporting Role: Film

  • Alan Arkin, “Argo”
  • Javier Bardem, “Skyfall”
  • Robert De Niro, “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman, “The Master”
  • Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln”

Actress in a Supporting Role: Film

  • Sally Field, “Lincoln”
  • Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables”
  • Helen Hunt, “The Sessions”
  • Nicole Kidman, “The Paperboy”
  • Maggie Smith, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”

Cast in a Motion Picture

  • “Argo”
  • “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”
  • “Les Miserables”
  • “Lincoln”
  • “Silver Linings Playbook”

Actor in a Television Movie

  • Kevin Costner, “Hatfields & McCoys”
  • Woody Harrelson, “Game Change”
  • Ed Harris, “Game Change”
  • Clive Owen, “Hemingway & Gellhorn”
  • Bill Paxton, “Hatfields & McCoys”

Actress in a Television Movie

  • Nicole Kidman, “Hemingway & Gelhorn”
  • Julianne Moore, “Game Change”
  • Charlotte Rampling, “Restless”
  • Sigourney Weaver, “Political Animals”
  • Alfre Woodard, “Steel Magnolias”

Actor in a Drama Series

  • Steve Buscemi, “Boardwalk Empire”
  • Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad”
  • Jeff Daniels, “The Newsroom”
  • Jon Hamm, “Mad Men”
  • Damian Lewis, “Homeland”

Actress in a Drama Series

  • Claire Danes, “Homeland”
  • Michelle Dockery, “Downton Abbey”
  • Jessica Lange, “American Horror Story: Asylum”
  • Julianna Margulies, “The Good Wife”
  • Maggie Smith, “Downton Abbey”

Actor in a Comedy Series

    • Alec Baldwin, “30 Rock”
    • Ty Burrell, “Modern Family”
    • Louis C.K., “Louie”
    • Jim Parsons, “The Big Bang Theory”
    • Eric Stonestreet, “Modern Family”

Actress in a Comedy Series

    • Edie Falco, “Nurse Jackie”
    • Tina Fey, “30 Rock”
    • Amy Poehler, “Parks and Recreation”
    • Sofia Vergara, “Modern Family”
    • Betty White, “Hot in Cleveland”

Cast in a Drama Series

    • “Boardwalk Empire”
    • “Breaking Bad”
    • “Downton Abbey”
    • “Homeland”
    • “Mad Men”

Cast in a Comedy Series

    • “30 Rock”
    • “The Big Bang Theory”
    • “Glee”
    • “Modern Family”
    • “Nurse Jackie”
    • “The Office”

Stunt Ensemble: Film

    • “The Amazing Spider-Man”
    • “The Bourne Legacy”
    • “The Dark Knight Rises”
    • “Les Miserables”
    • “Skyfall”

Stunt Ensemble: Television

  • “Boardwalk Empire”
  • “Breaking Bad”
  • “Game of Thrones”
  • “Sons of Anarchy”
  • “The Walking Dead”