Thursday, May 10, 2012

MIB3 with Rick Baker at MoMI

Museum of the Moving Image is hosting the exhibition of creatures and props for upcoming Men in Black 3 by the legendary special effects and makeup artist Rick Baker (American Werewolf in London, Thriller, Videodrome, Ed Wood, Hellboy). The exhibition runs May 9 through September 23.
Rick Baker, the master special effects makeup artist who has won seven Academy Awards, created the alien creatures for the Men in Black movies. Baker's extraterrestrials are among the most memorable visual elements in the comical action adventure series about a pair of agents who monitor a population of unruly space aliens posing as ordinary citizens. Futuristic firearms and ingenious gadgets are also integral to the vividly imaginative world of the Men in Black. Aliens, Gadgets, and Guns: Designing the World of Men in Black 3 presents over 25 objects from the forthcoming third installment of the series, and includes Baker's alien creatures, memory-erasing neuralyzers, alien weapons, a monocycle, and the iconic black shades worn by Agents J and K. Exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of Baker creating alien creature makeup is also featured in the exhibit.
There will be a special preview screening of MiB3 in Dolby Digital 3-D on Thursday May 24, at 8 p.m., followed by conversation with Rick Baker who will discuss his work on the Men in Black movies. The first Men in Black film will be shown on Wednesday, May 23, at 3:30 p.m. The film opens nationwide in theaters on May 25, 2012.

For exhibit information please visit:
Aliens, Gadgets and Guns: Designing the World of Men in Black 3

Tickets for Preview Screening with Rick Baker in person, please visit:
Preview Screening + Live Event

Everyday Miracle

I Wish (2011) - Kore-eda
Hirokazu Kore-eda (Nobody Knows, Still Walking)'s endearing new film, I Wish concerns two brothers Koichi and Ryu (Koki and Ohshiro Maeda, real life brothers), who live in different parts of Kyushu (southernmost among Japan's 4 main islands) as a result of their young parents splitting up. Koichi always wishes that some day his family will reunite. He keeps constant contact with his carefree younger brother. The news of the bullet train between the two towns they live in inspire them to come up with wish granting myth- when south and north bound trains pass by each other, the energy created by the trains would be so tremendous, it will grant any wishes uttered at that moment. They enlist their close school friends with different wishes and aspirations to take a trip to a station located halfway between them, risking punishment from their parents and teachers for skipping class.

I Wish is sweeter and lighter than Kore-eda's previous films. Death, the director's usual theme, only occurs to a pet dog here. After becoming a father and making Ozu-esque family drama, Still Walking, this life affirming dramedy feels like the most logical next step for him to take.

One thing that struck me most upon watching I Wish was that it could've easily been a Ghibli film, and I say this in the most affectionate, positive way. From its adorable young protagonists, a rural setting, gentleness of the adult characters, languid pace, to life lessons learned along the way, it plays out like a Miyazaki film without a cat bus. But as was the case with Nobody Knows, It's the amazing performances of its child actors that are the front and center of the film. Kore-eda provides enough room not only for the fantastic Maeda brothers, but also for other amateur actors who portrayed their friends to shine in their respective roles with natural, nuanced performances full of childish yearnings and surprising grace.

Also many familiar faces show up in supporting roles as adults, including Jo Odagiri as the deadbeat father and a struggling musician and Hiroshi Abe as a strict teacher.

My favorite part of the film is the static shots of inanimate objects near the end: mementos from their journey. The shots are held just long enough for us to appreciate those shared eternal moments. By the end I realize that its Japanese title, Kiseki (Miracle), refers more to everyday miracles- meeting new friends, adventure to new places, kindness of strangers, taste of grandpa's homemade traditional cake, among others. Affectionate and mature, I Wish is a lovely film about embracing everything that life throws at us.

I Wish has a limited release on May 11 in New York and LA and other cities in June. Check Magnolia website for dates for a theater near you.


Justine (1977) - Boger
Maquis de Sade's infamous tale of moral depravity gets an arty treatment (not to be confused with Jesus Franco production with Klaus Kinski) by a Brit Chris Boger. Justine and Juliette, two orphaned young sisters get kicked out of convent school full of lusty nuns and a randy pastor. The sisters couldn't be more different- Justine is the epitome of virtue and innocence while Juliette delights in school of flesh. As Juliette skools herself in a brothel in London, Justine goes back to the pastor, gets almost raped, then falls in with thieves and murderers under threat of violation. Juliette chose to live in sin and things are working out for her whereas Justine, the proud and virtuous one, the life is torturous and under constant threat. Sade's philosophy was not only anarchistic in rigid society but also extremely cynical. In Justine, he makes sure the virtues people hold dear get completely destroyed by the end.

Interesting to see even a great DP had a humble start doing softcore porn. Justine has some great visuals rivaling Ken Russell's The Devils, especially in the dream sequence. Cynical and dark. Koo Stark is mind bogglingly beautiful as Justine.