Sunday, December 27, 2020

Behemoth media 2021 demo reel

 It's been a tough year, really tough for me and everyone else in the world. If you need or know anyone who needs animation, graphic design, motion graphics, editing please, PLEASE get in touch with me to work something out! 

View my portfolio site at:

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Nosferatu poster project


I seem motivated by monsters these days. When I get an idea and the urge to realize it I'm trying just close the door to the studio and work until I'm done. I started this one a day ago but did about 7 hours on it today. 

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Holiday Recommendations 2020

 Since we are pretty much all in the slammer this year in solitary confinement, spending the holidays with a few holiday films and specials might be in order. There are in no particular order and as always with recommendations, your milage may vary. 

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

The ultimate outsider, Charlie Brown's famous Christmas special. The deformed little tree, the weird dancing... there is a lot to like in this 55 year TV special. It will certianly bring back childhood memories for some of us but even younger inmates will get a kick form the story and Charles M. Schulz Peanuts characters.


Not technically a holiday story but such of it does take place in winter and, to me at least, it has that seasonal feel to it. The fantastical adventures of a young man born to a witch and the odd villagers of a small northern Quebec village. It's both comforting and touching and you can find a version with subtitles if you don't speak French. 

Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special

Maybe the gayest thing ever on television. I mean it Has K D Lang, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Charo, Joan Rivers, Little RichardGrace Jones singing little Drummer Boy!  And a million more! Pee-wee discovers the meaning of of the season as only he can and in the end, shirtless construction muscle thinks build him a playhouse addition of fruit cakes. 

Muppet Christmas Carol

I am not a fan of the Dickens story or it's film adaptions. I don't hate them but I will avoid it during the holidays... unless it's this Muppets version which is BEST adaption EVER MADE. I'll fight those who disagree, It really is an amazing, fun and heart warming version of the often over done classic. Michael Cain is a wonderful Scrooge and the muppets are all super in their roles. It's visually beautiful and despite the fact 90% of the actors are puppets they all read as real people and it draws you in like nothing else can. 

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Monster Zero/King Ghidorah


Otherwise known as King Ghidorah. I had a nice long chat with my my friend Mike today about art and other things and I was inspired enough to do another giant monster poster.I had been planning this for a few days so it didn't just happen out of nowhere, but my ideas came together and I thought I should strike while I was in the mood to create something. 

The title took longer than I thought. I tried it in 3D but there were all sorts of problems getting the textures right. (I wanted it to be made of rock for some reason.) In the end I went with just using Affinity Designer and adding more subtle  effects to the text. *EDIT: I could not help myself and did more work on the 3D titles and solved the problems I was having.)

I struggled a bit with the lightning rays... should i do them or not. They seemed over the top so in they went. I used the sort of style I did for Godzilla but with three heads, two tails and wings Ghidoraj was much more dynamic. Again I went through movies to find references but I also discovered some of the toy figures and studio publicity photos had ideas I could mix and match. 

This looks like comic book cover to me but I think it makes a good poster as well. 

Friday, December 18, 2020

Godzilla poster


One of a series (most likely) of giant monster posters. I went through the film to find good references and drew the King go the Monsters as he appeared in the original film. These will not be as clean and start at my Star Wars poster series but not too far off from that. I like to keep it simple. 

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Jack the Giant Killer (1962) Directed by Nathan H. Huran

 At first glance you might think you were about the see "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad" as this film uses the talents of Kerwin Mathews and Torin Thatcher in the main roles. It also extensively uses stop motion animation for the special effects. Because of these similarities, as a kid I was DYING to see this movie and always seemed to miss it as the local theatre where it played at least once a year, we didn't have TV back then so if it was on TV a lot I would not have known. 

The reusing of cast and techniques is where the similarities end for the most part... at least terms of quality. The story is a mess, but a fun mess with Mathews as the handsome farmer saving the process from the evil over the top Thatcher from second rate stop motion monsters, bad matte paintings and sub-par animations. Mathews has a lot of charisma and does his best to sell it all but it's not enough to get thorough some of the slow parts of the story. The time and place is some fairytale old England but it might as well be the Arabian nights worlds of Sinbad, so much so they turned this film into a musical(!) on release to avoid being sued. Luckily the version I saw on Tubi was a later release with no music. 

Jim Danforth is credited with he stop motion animations and this is pretty obviously one of his first attempts at the process - he did get much better later on. The first effects scene with the princess dancing with a tiny figure from a dollhouse is well done and choreographed but after that... well each following monster looks more and more like a stuff dog's toy.

Was it worth the 46 year wait to see it? Sure. Why Not. It's not good but it is amusing in points with the weird-ass rhyming leprechaun character in a bottle and the villain over acting and chewing all the scenery. There is a certain lost charm to the animated puppets, at least for me that kept me watching until the very end. 

* a side note* Torin Thatcher seemed to be limping throughout the entire filming of this movie - what was up with that? 

Saturday, December 5, 2020

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) Directed by Robert Wiene

 Danny Peary, the writer of the Cult Films movie books has heralded this film as the first cult movie and the start of arthouse cinema and I would have to agree with him. The script tells a story within a story with the main character telling a friend about the murders that occurred in a small super weird looking and abstractly constructed town. A mysterious carnival barker has arrived to exhibit to the public Cesare, a somnambulist played by Conrad Veidt. Doing the show, the companion of the main character is told by Cesare that his time is short and will die by dawn. This happens and is part of a series of mysterious deaths no one can solve. 

Even though this is silent film, one everyone seems to think they know, I won't spoil it much. There are twists and turns you might not suspect for such an old movie and as familiar as people are with the imagery from this film, few really know what happens in it. I have seen it several times and was surprised at how much I forgot, including that there is more than one twist at the end. 

In some ways the fantastical look of the sets and characters takes away from the story telling and in other ways it IS the story telling. It could be argued that its twisted streets and bizarre characters are hints as to what is really going on. This is one of the few pure expressionistic films made that influences film makers still this day. Not a fan of remakes, this one might be interesting if it could be done with no commercial considerations in mind as a pure experiment, maybe even as an animated project that could push the look and abstractness to levels not dreamed of in the silent era. I might even try a shot or two myself because it is such a challenge. 

Silent films are not for everyone, but they are for students of cinema and there is a lot for this film to teach us still. 

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Eraserhead (1977) Directed by David Lynch

 As David Lynch's first feature, this introduces us to many of the ideas, obsessions, as well the visual and audio ticks that find themselves all through the director's multi-decade career. Best described as horror film, the images are strange and sometimes shocking with very little explanation as to why events happen or what their consequences are. 

The basic story can be boiled down to a guy who discoveres he is the father to a deformed child and has to take care of it. As in most of Lynch's films, this does not even come close to covering what the film transmits to the viewer. The plot is almost superfluous in this movie while the feelings of dread, loneliness, alienation and confusion take centre stage and lead the viewer from start to finish but with no answers to any questions that may have come up along the way. It sorts of drags you along with the protagonist who is as bewildered by what is going on as we are. 

Visually and sound-wise the film is a tour de force of weirdness. It plays with horror, particularly gothic horror tropes and presents them as a sort of no man's land, post apocalyptic world with no meaning left in it but all the horror remaining. It's film you have to watch to understand and come to your own conclusions about. 

The effects, particularly of the "baby" are haunting in their realism.

Mother: There’s a baby. It’s at the hospital. And you’re the father.

Henry: Well, well that’s impossible! It’s only been…

Daughter: Mother, they’re still not sure it is a baby!

Filmed over  period of years on American Institute's Centre for Advanced Film Studies campus and financed by grants and Sissy Spacek, Lynch took his time with the production and released it to a 25 person audience in a short run which led to midnight showings where the film found it's true audience and defined what cult movies are. The poster was a punk staple to people who had not even seen the film and its influence on Lynch's further work and the works of other director's has been felt since its release. 

How on earth his film has never been highlighted here in the Slammer by me or any of the previous inmates is beyond comprehension. It's a midnight movie classic made by someone whose filmography I imagine most of our readers know inside and out. 

Friday, November 6, 2020

Tom of Finland (2017) directed by Dome Karukoski

 This film follows the life of Touko Laaksonen, more commonly known as the gay erotica artist, Tom of Finland. It follows him though his war years and through the time he used his pseudonym to spread his art around the counter culture leather gay scene until he is finally realized as an important artist for that community and achieves a certain level of fame and respect. 

Nicely filmed and well acted, the film does give a good impression of the passage of time and the issues of problems that came up for Tom and his art in each decade. The aging makeup is top notch and natural looking. I am not a big fan of his style, but I would think anyone can see there is a talent and passion in it, transcending the "just dirty drawings" label it was often given in his earlier years. Sure, the bodies are overdone and fantastical in some ways but the faces are honest and bring personality to each character. His work exposes a hidden culture, hidden even to most  gay people in a humanizing and positive way. 

I found the AIDS era stuff very compelling - and hard to get through - as I remember it too well but I am glad its in there and I'm glad they cover it. Tom's erotic art was partially blamed for the epidemic by many people and he stopped drawing for a time because of his guilt. Luckily, he rose above that and continued on, providing a positive example of love and sex in a time when those things were being demonized. His influence and art is often copied and parodied but his legacy is one many artists would be happy to have for themselves. 

The director's next film was "Tolkien" and seems to examine war and its effects on a very different artist and this movie makes me want to check that out as well some day. 

Friday, October 30, 2020

Existenz (1999) directed by David Cronenberg

 The premise of this film is that a group is about to test a new advanced gaming system, a suitably Cronenbergian bio-based system that plugs unto your spine and take you into a virtual reality. Someone from a group against this sort of thing has snuck a biotin... made with bones and body parts and uses it to try and kill the developer of the game played by Jennifer jason Leigh. Her "bodyguard" actually a marketing rep (Jude law), drives off with her after the would be assassin is killed by others in the group who seemed ot expect this sort of thing might happen. the rest of the film progresses though a plot where what is in and out of the game is murky at best and there are so many twists and turns it's hard to keep track of them all. I don't think it's fair to spoil the film's endings but if you hav seen a certain number of films like this I don't think you might have figured it out long before the final shot. 

This film does harken back to  the earlier, and much better, Cronenberg film Videodrome and the bio gun here seems to be a direct reference to that movie. While this project has a great cast, they sort of sleep walk their way through to film I thought, maybe in an attempt to make it harder to figure what real and what's part of the game. It's not poorly made, the visuals are nice but lack the sexual perversion that made Videodrome transgressive while this comes across as a standard story in a story or dream within a dream that didn't leave me satisfied or even mildly surprised at the end. The gameplay in the story does not come across as credible - I am not a big video game player but this makes me wonder if anyone involved ever played an immersive game or only just heard about them second hand.  

I do love Cronenberg as a director but this one misses where it should hit and he seems to be playing off his own tropes in a way that oddly makes it predictable and a little dull. It has a pretty low budget for such a tech oriented film and still did not make a fraction of it back at the box office.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

A Shaun the Sheep movie: Farmageddon (2019) directed by Richard Phelan and Will Becher

This is not the first Shaun the Sheep movie but it is the first I've seen. I do catch theTV show time to time and that is pretty great. If you are not a fan of Aardman animation, well there is something seriously wrong with you. Wallace and Grommit are classic shorts and films and pretty much all their projects are awesome. Except for the misfortune of casting Mel Gibson in "Chicken Run" they have a pretty much unsullied reputation for great animated story telling. This film will not disappoint you. 

Shaun and his fellow sheep are up to to their usual antics of annoying the farmer and his dog when Shaun finds a space creature in the barn. Sure, there are ALL the tropes from ET, Close Encounters, 2001 etc but by are they funny and still surprising here! 

The stop motion is the top notch and still has a hand made look about it that is totally charming. There is no real dialogue spoken thought so it transfers to anyone speaking any language. Some of the newspaper headline sin my version were in german for some reason but that did not cause any confusion. It's not complicated - just lots of fun! 

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Color Out of Space (2019) directed and co-written by Richard Stanley

Based on the story by H.P. lovecraft, this film follows the events after a meteorite crashes into the front yard of Nicolas Cage's family home. It's a slow burn with much of the really crazy cosmic horror bursting into the films last ½ hour. The fallen object emits a colour that no one can describe and it begins to infect and transform everything around it, especially the water supply.

The director, who hasn't done a film since he was fired from "Island of Dr. Moreau" in 1996. (Yes the version with the "incredible hum-animals!) has given us a really beautifully, overly colourful treat to watch. I can't say I found it scary, there were too many tropes but that doesn't mean it was void of creepiness and tension. Cage is not over the top, for once, and it's really the daughter's journey we follow. Lovecraft easter eggs and references are everywhere and a little distracting if you know his work well, but fun to research later if you don't. There are elements of the "Reanimator" and "From Beyond" older Lovecraft inspired films that were dripping in body horror and gore. It's not too heavy on the gore but it has a nice helping of body horror that's better seen than described. 

The whole thing gets pretty trippy but never falls into camp and it was smart enough to leave many things ambiguous and unexplained. It follows the original story to a certain extent but adds elements that take those ideas and moves them into a more modern context and make it and the family more relatable. It certainly managed to hold my attention and I would say the poster (pictured above) does represent what you are in for if you watch it! 

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Onward 2020 directed by Dan Scanlon

 This Pixar offering supposes that it's world was populated by mythical creatures and magic until technology came along which was much easier to control and learn than magic. Over time the magic was basically forgotten and pushed aside. 

The film follows the adventures of Ian and his brother who receive a wizard's staff and a not from their dead dad which states it can be used to bring him back, for one day only. The spell goes awry and only the lower half of papa returns and they are off to find a magic stone to bring the rest of him back before the sun sets the next day. 

The story is a bit off the beaten track, which to me is its strongest asset. Like most Pixar films there are wonderful details and beautiful animation along with some fun Dungeon and Dragons references. 

At 200 million dollars and box office of only 114 million this could be a rare Pixar failure but I have hard time seeing it in that light. The film is far from a dud in any way shape or form and while not the strongest of their films, it's entertaining and has plenty of legit emotion coming from the characters. It was released just before the COVID shutdown worldwide, so it's amazing it made even ½ its money back, considering. If it was up to me, I would consider a re-release when things go back to normal and see how it goes. It could easily find a larger audience if given the chance. 

Saturday, September 12, 2020

RKO Production 601: The Making of 'Kong, the Eighth Wonder of the World' (2005)

Made in 2005 as a companion documentary for the 2005 re-release fo the original film, this film covers just about anything you might want to know about the making of the classic film from conception, to filming to reception as well as it's importance in the world of cinema. The interviews are top notch people and full of interesting information. I did get a little annoyed at the repetition of the idea that Kong was the first giant monster movie... it's not. Willis O'Brien the effects creator of the film had already done a monster on the loose in his version of "The Lost World" but Kong was definitely the first time we felt for the beast crushing the city he is stuck in. He moved the needle of effects works to a new level that still stands up today and showed that a completely artificially create character could be on par, or even outdo its real life human actors. A worthy documentary of the one of the world's best loved films. See the entire thing in the YouTube link above. 

Saturday, September 5, 2020

I Am Divine (2013) Directed by Jeffrey Schwartz


This is a sweet documentary covering the life of Glen Milstead, better known as the outrageous drag artist Divine who died tragically of a heart attack the day before starting a role on the immensely popular "Married with Children" TV. It was to have been a huge turning point to a career as a more serious character actor. 

Pretty much all of Divine's friends and family were tapped for interviews and while the documentary covers all the bases you would expect, it does come off as a little sanitized after reading director's John Water's biographies like "Shock Value". Well, as sanitized as any film about Divine could be. I really appreciated the look into Glen's family life and his relationship with his parents. I was surprised there seemed to be no mention of Cookie Mueller but the other "Dreamland Studios" pals were at least given a mention. 

What really comes across is the affection and respect every around Milstead had for him and what a talented performer he was whose life was cut short after years of working towards a shot at more publicly accessible roles. He would have done even greater things and this is a good history and homage to a legend. 

Cask of Amontillado Selected for a festival you all can watch online!

 So the SF indie fest/Another Hole in the Head has selected my animation "Cask of Amontillado" for their online Mr. Holehead's Warped Dimension Film Fest

The festival is the 24th-29th of September 2020 and films will be streamed to a registered Zoom audience. I may also be there in a window for a post screening Q&A live in ZOOM. The link about will have all the pertinent information if I miss posting anything here.

Tickets are now available! Click to see the link and buy tickets. My movie is being shown  on Saturday, September 26 9 a.m. PDT. It costs 10$ for a day pass to the festival so you cna see other things as well! Which is noon eastern Standard time - I think. 

My trailer for the festival:

Cask of Amontillado trailer from Vincent-louis Apruzzese on Vimeo.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Kill Your Darlings (2013) Directed by John Krokidas

A biographical piece about the early college days of the earliest members of the beat generation with a great cast, editing and well done screenplay that manages to keep us interested in, to be honest, are not very likeable people overall. The story does give much sympathy to it's protagonist, Alan Ginsberg played by Daniel Radcliffe, but many of his friends seem to be no more than pretentious college kids who are all in some way or another living off other people, be it their family, girlfriend... whomever. The central conflict is the killing god professor David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall) by Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan) in a stabbing incident. The professor seems to be obsessed with Lucien, write his papers for him for sexual favours (according the screenplay - a fact disputed by the real Lucien. There are a couple points where the story loops back on itself, showing us something and going back to what led up to it then on from there and it really works. William S. Burroughs is played by Ben Foster, a role I would not even him taking as Burroughs is so well known it would be hard not to let your performance slip into parody. But  he doesn't and after seeing him in the roles a few minutes, I found him very convincing. 

The film is not full of action as you might imagine and all the better for it. The interplay among the characters, unlikeable as students they may be at times, never feels forced and it's these interactions that get you through the film. Radcliffe is great as is everyone else. Hall manages to be both stalker and sympathetic at times and the early beat scene is portrayed well without over dramatizing or exaggerating it. 

The film did very poorly in release, costing 6 million with a box office of only about 2 million and I wonder if it had been made more recently if it might have ended up a hit on a streaming platform as it seems well suited for that format which as of this writing seems to have a larger audience for a drama like than we are likely to see in cinemas again anytime soon, if ever. It deserves to be seen and bravo for those who put it together. 

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Circus of Books (2019) directed by Rachel Mason

Karen and Barry Mason were having trouble making ends meet when they decided to take a chance distributing  Hustler fro Larry Flint, a decision which led to them distributing even more x-rated magazines and that in turn led them to becoming owners of a gay porn bookstore, something the couple hid from friends and even their own children for years. To them is was a business decision and they ran the business well for decades until the internet and online free porn caught up with them and they had to close the business down. 

The director is the couple's own daughter and despite some pretty tough reluctance from her her mother i particular, she tells a very personal story of two people who get involved in a business they had no interest in but ended up being an inspirations to 1000s as they not only pushed to stay open during the reason years but dealt head on with the AIDS crisis and finally their own issues when they discover one of the children is gay. 

This is not a high budget film which I think helps keep it on subject and real. Mason keeps the story on her family while all the time showing the events and political world changing over the 3 decades of the store's existence. While her parents are great people, they are not perfect and are not presented as perfect which makes the whole thing very relatable. Brave to Netflix for bringing this to us, I wish it was around when some of my earlier documentaries were made. 

Saturday, August 8, 2020

The Fury (1978) Directed by Brian De Palma

I am not the biggest fans of Brian De Palma but this follow up to Carrie is under rated in my opinion. 

Based on the 1976 novel by John Farris, who also wrote the screenplay, it is the story of two young people - psychic twins in a way- who are wanted by an ill defined government agency for ill defined reasons.  The book goes into more details and has a lot more sex, something the movie only touches lightly on. In the book there is more time spent on what is going on with the two teenagers played in the movie by Andrew Stevens and Amy Irving, expelling how Steven's Character Robin is being controlled by sex with an older woman as she helps develop his powers and Irving's Gillian is in a more nurturing environment in a school  for gifted children sort fo set up. Robin's powers are more pronounced and he needs an enormous amount of calories to keep going, which was a nice detail. The movies skips over most of that and maybe for the best as it it sort of split between a spy/thriller beginning that evolves more into a supernatural horror film as the two main characters discover that their abilities range from seeing the future to making people feels from every pore in tier bodies.  John Cassavetes plays the defect villain and gets his due in a truly violent, explosive (out intended) way. 

De Palma does a great job with the actors and Kirk Douglas is a little overdone I though but he does give the role a little humour which might be missing otherwise. Irving is great, though here end scene is less affective than it might have been for some reason. She just doesn't "exude" the power she is supposed to have. Stevens, whose character shares a preference for being shirtless like his father, on the other hand is terrifying as he devolves into a true monster as his talents increase in strength and his murder of the lover that betrayed him is pretty horrifying due to his ability to sell the supernatural part so well. 

The real star of this movie is the music by John Williams... it's pretty awesome from the theme to the incidental music and adds to every scene in away a less composer would not be able to. 

The cinematography and editing is very well done and even the the convention of the time like the camera zooms and camera pans back and forth don't distract from what is going on and and for the most work well as part of the story telling. 

If you have never heard of this move, check it out. It's very violent but stands up all these decades later as an affective horror/thriller. 

Friday, July 24, 2020

Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse (1918) directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman

Every once and long while a film comes up with something truly new and innovative and this movie is 100% in that category. The story of the Mile Morals version of Spiderman from the comic book series is integrated with several other versions of Spiderman in a truly engaging and exciting story filled with humour and a good share of drama. Spider dies at the start of the films, murdered by the Kingpin, which pretty shocking for an animated film but he is far from the only killing by the end of this story. 

Story really is front and centre in this production, but it also outshines pretty much any other modern animated project in the visuals. It is hard to describe the look of this movie except to say it's a comic book come to life. That doesn't nearly cover it though. The animation is far beyond just mimicking a comic book style... it's layered approach and combination of both CGI and 2D to achieve its unique presentation of the material is revolutionary and will change how you look at "cartoons" forever more. Every shot, the lighting the movement is stunning to look at and it's in total service to the top notch story telling and performances. 

Marvel knew the Miles Morals story needed to be told on the big screen and came up with a way to do that and not step on the toes of the I've action films. The movie literally references the comics it's drawing from as plot point, including the bizarre, Peter Porker - the amazing Spiderham. As wild and weird as it it is this film has real heart behind it and matches that with technical brilliance. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Ad Adstra (2019) Directed by James Gray

Ad Astra ("to the stars" in latin) is a film that attempts to tell the story of emotional and physical detachment with Brad Pitt as an exceptional astronaut put on a mission to find his long supposed dead father who was working near Neptune on a project to discover extraterrestrial life but somehow caused some sort of antimatter reaction in the sun causing intense solar flares that are knocking out electronics and communications everywhere humans have settled in the solar system. This problem, though it is never really shown visually or explained adequately, could lead to the possible death of life in the solar system. 


Pitt's mission is top secret and in the end he does what all heroes do - he finds his absent father, saves the solar system and himself in the process. If that sounds like a bunch of tropes put together, it is.

Overall, the film is visually stunning with effects that look completely natural, maybe too natural as beautiful as they are, they come off as understated. Brad Pitt's performance is excellent - speaking understated. The other actors, an impressive cast of them including Donald Sutherland, Tommy Lee Jones, Live styler and others follow his low key acting style which keeps Pitt's astronaut from becoming unlikable and cold while letting him remain distant. Even in his emotional painful transition from detached, compartmentalized loner to a more humanized version of himself that realizes he does not want to become what his father was and learns to reach out to others he remains calm, and almost monotone. This is not a critique, it works and Pitt show how good an actor he is by pulling it off. 

Where the film falls down is the script. It doesn't seem to know what it is or where it wants to go. It references Kubrick's 2001 Overton enough but throws in elements that distract from what makes that film hypnotizing to watch. A huge problem is the use of voiceover, I am not a fan. It over explains and could have be used sparingly. Instead, we get a constant inner monologue better left to out imaginations and told through visual cues and symbolism. The film and director seem more than capable of succeeding in giving us a purely visual driven story but the script keeps inserting "exciting" diversions like a chase soon the moon and a diversion to another spaceship that has sent out a distress signal. While back of those storylines could have been a film of their own, they come off as attempts to add action and general public pleasing effects and some gore to spice up what should be a much more intellectual and personal journey. They distract rather than add anything useful. 

It's east to forgive some of the handwaving and missing explanations in a movie like that, the visual are stunning and we accept right away that the solar flare thing is a McMuffin to propel the story of a man's search to find himself. I do think that spaceships would be less wasteful and instead of dumping sections into space after launch like the Apollo missions did would be more like the shuttle program reuse as much as possible. In the future building rockets on other planets will require more reusability not less. The time to get from one place to another is really short for a film that wants to depict space travel in a realistic way. What should take many years takes a few months and as a result the dialogue about isolation and the long term effects of that loses some of its impact.

The meeting of father and son near the end is a mess. I really did not get any sense from it at all. There is a deep story there but it's hidden in tropes and cliches. If I were the director/writer I might have replaced that section of the plot with the main character getting to the Neptune station and finding out then, rather than earlier that his father had killed the crew and inadvertently caused the anti-matter catastrophe. The father would be found dead and Pitt's emotional journey would  make more sense. Finding out your dad is the jerk you always thought he was in space is less motivating to me than finding out his obsession and detachment and obsession with his one work goal is a much better reason to change your life around to avoid becoming him.

This is a movie that has all the bits and pieces of greatness in it but fails to go the distance because it plays it too safe and tried to appeal to everyone by including needless action on top of what is a slow personal journey. It relies heavily on well worn tropes when it could have veered off into other more meaningful directions. 

Worth seeing for the visuals and performances but it is a thinking person's film that falls apart if you think about it too deeply. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The Cask of Amontillado (2020) directed by Vincent-louis Apruzzese

After about two years of preparation and animation my animated "The Cask of Amontillado" is finished. Mike Luce is the voice of Montresor and Michael Z. Keamy is Fortunato. I tried to be the voice of Montresor at first but I was beyond terrible and Mike Luce kindly redid that audio for me. I went with human like animal characters this time instead of cartoon humans. I thought it might work better and give me more options with the animation plus added some symbolism. 

I used Cinema 4D as I am not ready for something like this in Blender yet. It was edited in Final Cut X and I did not use After effects for the compositing but used Apple's underrated and often ignored Motion software instead and it worked out great. The animation still has some issues I am having trouble with, such as decent walk cycles and some of the movements were not as smooth as I would have liked but overallI am very happy with the results. Nothing is ever perfect, is it? The settings were a long haul to make as the upper and lower catacombs are huge and cavernous and lit by torches. The sound was a little more complex as I had to record a bunch of foley and sound effects to flesh out the sound and add more atmosphere and detail to the short. 

During the final edit, I noticed a bunch of things I had somehow missed, one was the wrong source files were used for a sequence which made the image looked pixelated and another was a terrible clicking noise during a dialog scene I can't believe I had not heard during the editing process. My excuse is that the noise here is non stop between the construction and the fact I am not in glorious isolation but home with my spouse which does not give me the solitude I need to work efficiently. Constant distraction is death to a project like this so I am glad I was able to get it done and be happy with the end result. 

I have two posters ready in case I decide to enter it in some festivals. I have had the luck to be in one or another over the last 6 years so having promotional stuff ready is a fun way to tie up a project in a nice bow. 

If you like the animation, tell me! Like it on Youtube and pass it around so maybe it can get some attention and love! 

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Star Wars poster series

Well... why not?  Click to see larger versions.

* A quick update on pushing the idea  a little further.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

2001: A space odyssey Poster series

I had an itch to do something with 2001, one of my favourite films but didn't think doing one of my icon drawings would work. Instead I imagined a new set of posters and used information from the original posters such as the studio logos and the credits. I decided not to use the two tag lines on the 60's posters... too wordy. I wanted to really highlight one element and make it front and centre. I used 3D models - positioned and lit them instead of trying to find and alter images from the film. This way I was able to get exactly what I needed. I felt they needed an insane amount of detail. The star field is real, I took it in Colorado a few years ago.

Not all of these work as well as the others but I decided to show all 4 just for comparison.  The first two are my preferred images. The second are sort of runner ups, but I like them and put a good amount of effort into all of them.

Click any image to see more detail.


Saturday, April 25, 2020

The Rise of Skywalker (and the end of Star Wars) 2019 directed by J.J. Abrahms

I won't belabour too much of the plot of this film which pretty much everyone in the known universe has seen already it. It ends the 43 years long Star Wars Saga and opens the way for new stories while tying up the loose ends for the original series characters. The First Order it turns out is being controlled by the old, presumed dead Emperor from the middle trilogy of the series and that Rey is somehow his grand daughter. The resistance must find his hiding place and hope that they can inspire the regular people to rise up and help them destroy a new fleet of star Destroyers, each with the ability to destroy a planet much faster than the previous Death Stars could. Klyo Ren is trying to turn Rey to the dark side of the force and have her rule the galaxy with him. This all ends in a SPECTACULAR space battle.

This film suffers from cramming in too much plot as most blockbusters these days do. Things move so quickly and back forth that its becomes hard to keep track of what is important or even what is going on all the time. The film is chock full of fan service as well, which would be more annoying if this wasn't the end of the saga and there was no escaping pulling every reference and minor character they could out for the final outing.

Even for a movie that takes place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away; there is a lot of inconsistency in the world building and far too many convenient plot points and red herrings designed to pull at the heart strings that lead to nothing. I am not sure there was ever going to be a way out of those problems as tying up a generations spanning storyline in a pleasing for everyone is an impossibility. We do get a solid enough, exciting film with great effects decent acting and a conclusion to most of storylines introduced over the last 40 years. It avoids going to three prequels for much source material or inspiration which is truly the best decision they ever made. I tried to rewatch that trilogy and ended up tossing all three. They don't add anything, and in fact, take away from the series as whole. The film's pace and dependence on action does rob us of moments that should have been more impactful. The death a Lea was handled well enough and since it was brought about because of the real life death of actress Carrie Fisher before this film was made, it cannot help but bring a tear, but the relationships even after three films were not established enough to give a real emotional punch. We were promised that Carries Fisher would not be replaced by a digital double and they didn't... sort of. There is no CGU replacement for the current version of Princess Lea but in a flashback there are digital versions of Luke and his Jedi in training sister that leaps right out of the uncanny valley and into your nightmares.

Ranking this within the current trilogy I would say the first "The Force Awakens" was the least successful as it simply rehashed "A New Hope" from the first film. "The Last Jedi" was pretty fairly unpopular among super fans but I think it went in some interesting directions "Awakens" should have gone. This one is more on par with "Last Jedi" for me but with better acting and higher stakes. It should be noted that the "controversy" of this last trilogy is mostly overblown twitter nonsense and trolls looking for attention. They all made a boatload of cash and brought in new and old fans. They were never going to satisfy everyone, everywhere as basically the entire planet has ideas what Star Wars is about. To say any of them were terrible or silly means you never saw the prequels or know what an Ewok is. The entire storyline has always had its problems since the start.

Overall this isn't a bad film by any means and likely the best sort of send off these characters were ever going to get. I was surprised at how little was spoiled for me ahead of my watching it, months after the release. To me, that says many people who may not have got the film they imagined, liked it and those who followed the series enough not to ruin it for new viewers.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Has the Marvel Cinematic Universe ruined the movies?

There is a lot of talk going around that the Marvel superhero universe has ruined the film industry and movies in general. The basics talking points seem to be that they have overtaken the industry with films that lack depth or artistry, have budgets so high they leave nothing left for smaller films, take over multiplexes and cinemas in general so no other films can be shown and cater to the lowest common denominator of film goer.

There are some good observations in there but I'm not sure they add up to Marvel Studios having "ruined" cinema as we know it any more than the sci-fi rush after Star Wars, any number of the horror eras we have survived or the big western fads of times past. There is also an argument to be made they are more a sign of the changing habits of the average movie goer, who now has other things vying for their attention like streaming services and the sudden rise in high quality TV shows.

We have been here before and survived but this time there is new technology and new ways to watch things that rival the arrival of television on the scene in the 50s. Marvel movies have a long, interconnected series of films now behind them which more to come. This is more like a TV model than a film model, which traditionally had sequels that did not have to follow a storyline throughout. (See the James Bond series, for example.) Marvel movies are forged in comic book fandom, a group of people notoriously hard to please and meticulous in their opinions of what is or isn't canon in a series. Most of the properties in the films have many decades of history behind them and any changes or mistakes are debated endlessly among fans. It limits what they can do with a story. On the streaming side of things,  services like Netflix offer very high end productions and no real limitations on the content they offer. In many ways they are much freer than the film world with its hierarchy, studio controls and rating system and they take full advantage of that.

Money for smaller independent directors has been moving to online platforms where they have money and more freedom while the cineplexes are selling spectacle and HUGE stories that would have impossible to pull off even 15 years ago. So independent and middle range films are without a doubt being squeezed out of the big venues and with many repertory theatres already closed for a decade now, streaming has started to scoop them up. This does rob us of seeing these projects in a communal setting on a large screen, but it has given us another way to see them at least. The average ticket price now is ridiculously high and while we cry and moan that Herzog's latest documentary can't get shown on the big screen, the truth is - not many of us would pay that price to see it larger than life anymore.

Marvel films overall are not bad films by any definition. In fact, many are fantastic, visually exciting with compelling characters even if the plots are complicated in some ways but pretty generic in many others. Even some of the worst of them are entertaining and the best are inspiring and affecting millions of viewers, except perhaps the strictly art house set. Many of the same things can be said about the Star Wars franchise, though those films seem to be in their own world, pun intended.

Are they a fad? Well a decade plus into it... maybe. But it's a long term fad and to Marvel's credit they are not just churning out sequels of the latest popular films like we used to get. Instead they are putting a large effort into each one, trying to make them as different in tone and scale to keep them for getting too repetitive even if they don't always succeed. The budgets are, however, the roof and there is something to be said abut making 100 smaller films less effects driven than one 600 million dollar Affinity War movie. It would be nice to see some of that cash go to ideas that don't need to break a billion to be a hit. There are still smaller films that manage to break out and rule the box office from time to time which shows the audience is there for new and more grounded (or totally off the wall) films to be shown.

I am sure a day will come when the public is tired of spectacle and goes into something else, something more personal and smaller. This sort of happened in the 70s when films were slower and more personal even as the trend started giving into the blockbuster phenomenon. Until then, the films we used look for are now on TV, computers and other devices in various forms, unhindered by time limits and getting bigger budgets than ever was allotted to them for the big screen. I say we can enjoy them both and be aware that the entertainment landscape has changed not because Marvel is an evil supervillain but because WE (the general filmgoing public, that is) have changed the terrain with our viewing habits and need for convenience over shared experience. Not sure where it will end up but we do have some say in where and how we spend out money. That might not be enough to beat market forces currently in play, but in some ways we gained some things while losing other things and blaming superhero movies for all of these changes seems simplistic and ignores everything else going on around them. I guess the moral is to support the films we love, wherever they are found.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Lost in Space (2018- 2019) Netflix TV series

I will admit I was never a big fan of the original Lost in Space TV show. The first season was dead serious and then it went into high camp without warning. This new version of the show does a great job updating the basic idea, letting the family Robinson be lost but not alone. There are a ton of colonists lost for them to play off of.

While I will love Jonathan Harris forever, his Dr. Smith was super campy and shrill. This reboot sees Dr. Smith played by Parker Posey who really shines as a psychopathic version of the character whose real name (June Harris) is a nod one of the original series actors. She is truly scary at times. The robot, one of best known elements of the original show is now and alien robot who befriends the youngest Robinson, Will and has its own complicated back story.

It is a life changing  experience? No, not at all. It is a ton of fun with beautiful visuals and engaging enough characters. The situations they get in, one after another, after another do make you wish for an episode of them just sitting around playing space "go fish" or something but the characters themselves reference how over the top it is often enough that you just go along with it all.

The crew of the Jupiter 2 et al are of course all super attractive including sexy smart mommy Robinson and hot ginger daddy Robinson

Sunday, March 29, 2020

J'ai perdu mon corps (I lost My Body) 2019 Directed by Jeremey Clapin

This traditionally animated film (2D with some digital elements) is an odd one to be sure and some attention for its originality and skilled animation, all well deserved.

The story is that of a young man who loses his hand in an accident and the detached hand's attempt to be reunited with him. Along the way we are treated to his tragic life story from his childhood up to the point where the accident happened and slightly beyond. It's at time macabre, humorous and touching. My father had a similar accident a few years back and I found that aspect hard to watch personally, but discomfort aside, as strange as this movie is it does captivate and draw you in. The characters are relatable and real feeling, even the hand has a personality of its own.

The poetry of the story and its presentation keep it from seeming campy or gory. Its pace is fairly slow, but deliberate and it never drags. I guess the subject alone says this isn't a movie for everyone but I think many more people than one might think would get something from it if given a chance.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Godzilla Raids Again (1955) directed by Motoyoshi Oda

This is the second Godzilla film, coming only months after the first was released and it already gave us a signal of what was to come next for series in the next decades. While the first was a moody, political tale of the atom bomb, this one goes in the simple "giant monsters fighting"  direction pretty much immediately.

A plane is down on an isolated island and the pilot's best friend has flown there to save him. They immediately run into Godzilla, who has inexplicably survived dying in the first film, fighting Anguirus who resembles a porcupine/dinosaur hybrid. They fall into the ocean and soon are taking their personal issues to the coast of Japan. At first Godzilla arrives and is lead away from the sure by "light bombs" but that plan falls short when escaped convicts crash a truck into some sort of oil refinery causing a much bigger sours of attention for Godzilla to latch onto. Anguirus arrives and they go on a rampage, destroying everything in their paths.

There is a love story of sorts where the bridegroom gets killed trying to stop Godzilla and a big company relocates as a result of the monster damage so we get to hear about that... but who cares about the human parts? Unlike the first outing where human interactions actually meant something, this movie created the path all others would follow... threadbare human story to pad out the master battles. And there are plenty of monster bottles in this one! Known for "man in a monster suit" effects this film seems to have its share of that mixed with equal amounts of hand puppets. I would not say it is ineffective, however. The effects overall are pretty good for such a quickly produced, low budget production.

In the end Anguirus is defeated and kill by the king of the monsters and the king himself is buried in a mountain of ice. Never to return again, Well until 1962 when Godzilla VS King Kong came out.

I had to confess this was the first time I saw this film. I grew up seeing the Godzilla series at the local Everett Park theatre just outside of Boston and on TV when we got a TV in the side 70s but I somehow missed this gem. I think the local movie house limited itself to colour films and this is black and white and this might have somehow fallen through the cracks in the TV creature double feature distribution deal.

If you like Godzilla films... you'll love this one. It is not to be taken seriously but it's a lot of fun and doesn't disappoint for monster on monster action.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Won't You Be My Neighbour? (2018) directed by Morgan Neville

It would be easy to dismiss the work of Fred Rogers, Mister Rogers as he more commonly known as frivolous children's TV fair, but as this documentary shows , his work was so or important and cutting edge than many remember.  Fred Rogers was a TV icon and trailblazer for children's entertainment.  His understand and unflinching dedication to the needs of the young people of the nation was nothing short of amazing.

We all have memories of the show, the puppets, the sweater, him taking off his shoes and putting on his sneakers when entering the set - but the show, as this documentary shows, he went far beyond anything we have today in terms of what subject matter is acceptable for those youngest minds among us. Rogers tackled discrimination because of race like no one else could. He invited his black mailman to share his kiddie pool with him, going as far as to dry the man's feet when they were taken out of the water. This was at a time public pools were throwing bleach on black people who dared to cool off with white folk on hot days. He discussed the assignation of Robert Kennedy... what kiddie show could even attempt to tackle that now? Mister Rogers was often the subject of parody (which he found often funny) and the work he did was often overlooked but the impact he had on generations is unmistakable. He was a tireless advocate for fairness and accepting people as they are, Oddly he shared many philosophical traits of the Satanists in the film "Hail Satan" I just reviewed here at the Slammer. His way of getting his point across was MUCH less aggressive, however.

The film goes farther into his life than the recent Tom Hanks film does and even covers his conflict over the actor playing the policeman being gay which isn't really covered in the Hollywood version of his life. As you can imagine, Rogers walked the walk and talked the talk when it came to accepting people as they are. Sadly, there weren't and certainly aren't many like him out there and I would say none like him in the present media landscape. How many of them would you want to have as neighbour?

Did I mention the Fred Rogers pretty much saved PBS single-handed by appearing before congress? Seriously you owe it to yourself to see how wonderful this man was, flaws and all. It will make you want to be a better person and that was all Mister Rogers would ask for as his legacy.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

25 Years Later (2020) directed by Vincent-louis Apruzzese

This took a while and a lot out of me. Lots of sad memories and a few happy ones thrown in for good measure. Thanks again to Mike Luce for his wicked laugh, and he didn't even ask what it was for!

This is sort of more "epic" as well as personal for me in animation. 15 locations that all had to be designed and made and then populated with two real-ish looking humans.

This is not a documentary. I wish I was still in shape like the cyclist in the animation is 25 years later after taking care of my friend but many of the events did happen. I won't bike to Boston as I planned but I will go there this spring/summer. A bike tour would take almost a week and I don't have the funds for a week in hotels, then time in Boston and then find a way to get back home with my bike. In a way this is my attempt to come to terms with the events all those years back, it was a very tough time and I though I helped out one friend for six years, there were  others for shorter periods and some of that is reflected in this as well.

Some of you might recognize certain locations... like my office, street, the bridge and several locations in Boston. Nothing is slavishly reproduced but even the biking scenes are based on several trips from Boston to Montreal.

If you see this and have opinions, tell me and watch it on You Tube, give it likes etc. I would like it to be seen and promoted somehow so please refer others to it if you think it's appropriate.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Divided by One ()2020 directed by Jacob Kafka

This short film was made by a developer of the app "rough animator" which I own but haven't used yet. It has a lot to recommend about it.  T

he short poignant and very done and since we always encourage these one man bad sort of projects here in the Slammer, I thought it would be nice to share it here.

If you have even a passing desire to try out 2D animation... BUY IT! It's only 5$ and well worth many times that!

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Behemoth media demo reel 2020

Update for 2020, includes some unfinished projects I thought might be interesting. 
Hire me !

Saturday, February 1, 2020

28 Young Men (2020) directed by Vincent-louis Apruzzese, narrated by Michael Z. Keamy

28 Young Men, a short poem by Walt whiman read by Michael Z. Keamy and animated by me (Behemoth media).

The project has been several years in the making. Originally we wanted to do live action and scouted and filmed several locations. As time went on, it became clear that getting 28 make men to splash around on a beach for free was not really a realistic option. We needed a secluded place and no trouble from local authorities. So animation was the voice in the end.

The men barely move, (and no there are not really 28 of them but I am not exactly Pixar so we never see them all at once), the idea being they are frozen in the woman's fantasy as she imagines herself moving amongst them. The beach and house are loose representations of Newburyport where Keamy are up and had specific locations in mind. So the advanced filming came in handy when it came to making the sets.

The water effects were done with X-particles for Cinema 4D and look pretty good to me. they are not meant to look like real water and match the cartoon look of the ocean waves.

Warning, I guess... cartoon nudity.

Hail Satan (2019) Directed by Penny Lane

When you hear the word Satanism, what do you think? Since the ridiculous "Satanic Panic" in the 1970s, the word has brought to mine child abuse, murder, demons from board games and  variety of other things that - to be clear - have NO basis in fact.  So promoting the Satanic Temple as positive force in the world seems like an uphill battle, to say the least. Penny lane's excellent documentary does just that, however.

Started more or less a joke, the temple has expanded by leaps and bounds, mostly due to their work in promoting religious freedom in the USA. In some sense they are the ultimate trolls, when a city or state decides it needs a 10 Commandments monument or giant cross on state property, something that is 100% illegal and against the constitution, the Satanic Temple steps in with a massive, beautifully done Baphomet statues to go beside the Christian symbols. It is an effective way to get the point across that one religion should not be promoted over all others.

The spokesperson for the Temple is Lucien Graves and while he looks the part, talks the talk and walks the walk, you get a clear impression he does not like the role or the attention on him personally.   "Are you excited about the protest today?"the interviewer will ask. "No" is the one word response from Graves. He does, nevertheless make an effective spokesperson for the movement and handles hostile interviewers with a reasonable calm I am not sure many other people could.

Well paced and not one sided, in the sense that is covers schisms in the Satanist movement and goes over it's often spotty history, the film give the viewer a solid sense of what the actual beliefs of Satanism are and what they are trying to achieve in a country the reads of christian religious privilege. Satanists are not perfect as a religion by any means but their rules to live by are more than reasonable, fair and based in the real world. If you read them without knowing they were the rules of the Satanic Temple, you might think all religions should adopt them immediately.

Satanist as promoters of justice and equality might seem like a strange idea after decades of misinformation, but you will likely be convinced by the end of the 95 minute run time. You may not want to run out and join your local Satanist Temple chapter, but you will more likely than not agree with most of things that are trying to accomplish.