Yesterday, a group of our science teens at the Cal Academy of Sciences got to talk with Jeroen Lapre, senior technical leader in the Morrison Planetarium here. Before Jeroen came to the Academy, he spent many years working in digital effects for the film industry, specifically Industrial Light and Magic. He worked on such tiny, little known projects as "Star Wars" episodes 1-3.
One of the neatest parts of Jeroen's talk was his description of an independent film project that he has been working on for a long time: "Maelstrom II." Based on a short story by Arthur C. Clarke, "Maelstrom II" tells the "near future" story of one lone technician trapped in a damaged space vehicle in a degrading orbit around the moon.
"Y: The Last Man" is one of the most acclaimed comics of the decade, a dystopic scifi series that builds an elaborate universe around the premise of what would happen if every man on earth was wiped out by a plague. The characters are indelible and unique and the adventure is heart-pounding. Created by Brian Vaughan and Pia Guerra, this sixty issue series just blew me away each and every issue.
Originally published starting in 2002, a group of super fans have released this fan flick of the comic on Youtube earlier this year. "Y: The Last Man Rising" has impressive production values, some strong casting, and thrilling action.
This 20 minute film is well worth your time. I want more Agent 355!
As you may know, I had low expectations for "Step Up Revolution," the fourth in this series of street dance movies. The trailers I found underwhelming and disappointing. The director has never done a film before. Many of the amazing dancers from previous "Step Up" films didn't seem to be in the cast. And it looked like the hokey-est plot ever.
That said, a couple of friends saw it and recommended it to me. And I figured there might be a couple of worthy dance scenes, amidst the silly plot. So I convinced a couple of dancers from my crew to go with me to see it this weekend at our local multiplex.
Overall, I must say I found "Step Up Revolution" to be entertaining, decently executed and at times even thrilling. If you liked any of the previous "Step Up" movies, you will enjoy this one too.
I was watching the wonderfully cheesy kung-fu flick "The Last Dragon" tonight when I spotted the perpetually beleagued actor William H. Macy in a bit part. He is apparently some kind of producer of the television show that the love interest Vanity stars in in the movie.
Here Macy is trying to convince Vanity to allow a mob boss's girlfriend's music video to play on her show. I wonder how he feels about playing this role?
You can watch the full "The Last Dragon" movie in YouTube, which I highly recommend to fans of chock sockey kung-fu movies and blaxpoitation flicks. Don't forget to eat your popcorn with chopsticks!
"Planet B-boy" director Benson Lee has been mentioning in appearances that he has been working on creating a fictionalized version of his ground-breaking documentary on b-boying. And here it is: "Battle of the Year", slated for release in January 2013.
It looks pretty formulaic, but potentially will have some exciting dance footage (in 3D, ugh). Chris Brown is no b-boy, and he's a pretty terrible human being, but he's a great dancer and acrobat. And there looks to be some excellent b-boys in the film, including Luigi (Luis Rosado) from Skilz Method crew, b-boy Casper and what looks like Quest Crew members in the trailer.
Anyway, I'm looking more forward to this than the latest "Step Up" movie. And it makes me really want to attend the next "Battle of the Year"!
This -- seriously -- is the plot of "Step Up 4" aka "Step Up Revolution": greedy developer wants to tear down local neighborhood in Miami to make way for a fancy hotel. Dancers organize to stop him... using the ultimate weapon : their sick dance skills. Oh, and the female lead dancer is the daughter of the developer. But how they succeed?
Actual line from the film: "We need to stop him. Enough with performance art. It's time for protest art."
Wasn't this the exact plot of "Breaking II: Electric Boogaloo"? Or countless other song-and-dance films in the 40s? All this movie needs is Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney saying "Let's put on a show!"
There are a lot of talented dancers and choreographers associated with this film: Adam Sevani, Twitch, Madd Chadd, Phillip Chbeeb, Travis Wall, the Ticks, etc. I'm hoping that the super-hokey plot doesn't take all the air out of the amazing dancing. But I have a doubt.
Watching these scientists from many disciplines dive deep into the ocean, hike deep into the rainforest, climb tall trees, and root out insects and spiders in the middle of night is a great reminder of what a fantastic adventure science can be. They got to see parts of the Philippines that I have dreamt of visiting, and other areas that were totally remote and intimidating.
And I learned that these scientists are made of sterner stuff than me. You see one arachnologist get bit by a gigantic spider as he is putting it in the a bag for collection. "I'm pretty sure they aren't poisonous," he says, examining the bite. He then resumes searching for more spiders. WOAH.
I also appreciated how much the scientists were connecting with local researchers, teachers, and towns folk, to educate, exchange ideas and collaborate on ways to preserve the local environment, for themselves and succeeding generations of Filipinos. Makes me proud to work at the Academy. And a bit more hopeful about the Philippines, seeing locals stand up for the environment.
My only regret is that this expedition happened before I was at the Academy! But I get to see the fruits of it every day that I'm on the public floor.
Of course Lego would like you to use Lego-branded products to make animations. But there's no stopping you from using anything you have lying around your desk. Say, a Chewbacca action figure or a robot dog toy, for example.
I just saw "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" last night in San Francisco, at a special showing with the director of the film David Gelb. What a perfect film for a foodie -- a respectful and elegant portrait of a master chef Jiro Ono and his stern but loving relationship with his two sons. The cinematographer did these luscious slow shots of sushi on plates that framed perfectly these little works of art.
Warning: don't see this movie if you don't have good sushi immediately available near you. Otherwise you will leave with a powerful craving for sushi and nowhere to go! My cousin Romelle, his girlfriend Cynthia and I headed to Sanraku, which thankfully is open late, to get our hunger satiated.
Obviously not anywhere near the beautiful gems of deliciousness that Chef Jiro must make at his humble sushi spot in Tokyo. But close enough!