My name is Jason. These are my thoughts.

Masquerading as Life is: Food. Music, film, technology. Maybe a book or two. Very infrequent updates.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Top 5 Movie Explosions of All Time

I love when shit blows up. So, here then are a few of my favorites. And yes, if you think you have a better idea about which explosions should be included here, you are just mistaken. And wrong. Please enjoy:


This makes the list because A) Leone was a genius, B) that is a real bridge made out of stone that they really blew up for real, and C) the explosion is insane. Just look at it carefully. It's not happening in slow motion. It's not repeated a bunch of times (see number 3). It's just a massive real life explosion that shakes the Earth. For real. Watch it again and again, and you begin to see just how massive and crazy this explosion really is.

(explosion at 6:55)


A lot of people like to include Die Hard, or Terminator 2 on explosion lists. But see - those guys really only blew up a floor or two of a building. That's just not getting it done in my book. You blow up some shit, you blow that shit up all the way. No half-assing it. To that end, Tony Scott does quality explosive work when he completely levels this old industrial building. What's even cooler, is that one of the heroes of the film blows up his own house, and Gene Hackman has that great line of dialogue as they race away from the scene that can only live in action movie logic: "I blew up the building... because you made a phone call."

Brings new meaning to 'will you accept the charges'

(explosion occurs at 07:29 of this Youtube clip, just couldn't find a better one)


I know, you are thinking - what the crap is this movie? Well, for cultural framing: over 20 years after the film's release Rolling Stone editor David Fricke wrote: "Zabriskie Point was one of the most extraordinary disasters in modern cinematic history."
Basically, it's a 1960's counter-culture film, and it's not very good by today's standards, although it it expertly photographed by Alfio Contini . But let's get back to the topic at hand - the explosion at the end of the movie: this is pure explosion porn. Not only does director Michelangelo Antonioni show the house exploding from every single angle he shot it from, (and he does blow up the entire house) but he then takes every item from inside the house, and blows them up individually - in super slow motion. That's going the extra mile, and it deserves to be recognized.


Once again, blowing up the whole building get the respect. I give this one high marks because of the framing in the film, it's just a wildly successful explosion plot, character, thematically, and it's just plain fun. And it's a nice big fat fatty of an explosion. If you can still get a lot of bang out of an explosion from a freaking helicopter shot, you know you got a good one!
(embedding disabled)


Ok, maybe not the balls out best explosion ever, but when you add it to the plot of the film, you just can't pre-load the expectation for an explosion any more than this. This is hands down the most meaningful explosion on film, you just can't get more attached to a thing that blows up in a movie. And once again, it's all full scale - no miniatures - just good old fashioned mayhem.

(embedding disabled, and the audio is totally wrong, but this is the only clip on the web for now)

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Friday, March 25, 2011

FORBIDDEN WOOKIEE - Chewbacca with Subtitles

About ten years ago I decided to try my hand at picture editing. Never having done it before I wanted to do something that would be fun and challenging. I bought a copy of Adobe Premiere 5, yes that's right, I actually bought it (just like every version on FCP since), and set out to cutting away. My project of choice: cut the original Star Wars Trilogy down to tell just the story of Chewbacca, and as a matter of personal amusement, I added subtitles to translate every grunt and growl that Chewie makes. It turned out to be a few weeks of work, and at the time, DVD was not an easy thing to make. So out to VHS it went, and I didn't even keep a copy for myself. The only copy I still have is this tiny 340x280 web 1.0 version that was too big to upload - until now. A few weeks ago, YouTube sent me an email telling me that I was now free to post videos longer than 15 minutes. And so here you have them. Enjoy:

In the time in between, I've edited 9 feature films, and countless other smaller projects. Thanks to Lucasfilm and Adobe for getting me started.

Update:  you are too late.  YouTube and Fox made me take them down.  If you want to see them, email me. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Top 5 Movie Car Chases of All Time

People are always asking me, because somehow they think I know, which cars chases are the best? So here they are. Now, since this is subjective from the start, let's establish the ground rules here: if you don't agree with the list, it's because you are wrong.

NOTE: since writing this post, every single video I embedded here has been blocked by copyright holders. so - too bad for you. It took me way too long to find decent clips the first time, I'm not going back and doing it again. You're on your own.

Number 5: BULLITT (1968)

This only winds up at number five for a few reasons. First, the movie around which this chase is wrapped is just a crap film. This is one of those "vehicle" movies for it's star, Steve McQueen. The movie as about a San Francisco cop determined to find the underworld kingpin that killed the witness in his protection. Yawn... but that's not why people love this film. People love this film for one reason, and one reason only: the car chase. It is awesome.
The second reason this only winds up at number five is evolution. Cinema, and the car chase too, have evolved, and while Bullitt absolutely laid the foundation for nearly everything to come after it, that doesn't mean we should ignore the fact that people have stepped up - taken the tools and techniques, and yes -made it better.
Having said all that, the Bullitt chase is still amazing and awesome to watch. The 'behind the wheel' shots of the cars careening down the hills in the Mission district make your stomach leap (if your screen is big enough). My favorite part? The chase starts slow, cat and mouse style, with a groovy 1960's score under it. Then - the bad guy actually puts his seatbelt on - they shoot an insert for it! - and then it's on! And for the next 6-7 minutes of big fat American cars whipping around San Fransisco, there's absolutely no music at all. That's ballsy fimmaking. (btw, an omage to this can be seen in the 'fight scene' in my first film)

NUMBER FOUR: The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)

Sure, this film is easily even more terrible than Bullitt, and yes, a good deal of the really 'close call' stuff was CGI, but the result is undeniable: some really great car chases. I remember walking out of this movie thinking that they had actually done something new and unique, and that alone is noteworthy. In a genre where cars chasing each other has been done and done to death, being innovative and exciting deserves some recognition. The fact that they did it at night on the streets of Tokyo (aka: Los Angeles) ? That just makes it all the better.

PS: hey all you bit torrent junkie out there! Someone please rip the srteet chase from this movie and put it on YouTube, there's a lack of good rips from this movie out there!

NUMBER THREE: The Bourne Identity (2002)
Here's where practical locations, top talent stunt people, expert shooting and editing choices and a great concept all come together and deliver the knock out punch. Most car chases 'feature' a car - like Bullitt pimping the brand new 1968 mustang, etc.. But here, the hero is stuck in the least likely of cars - a beat up old Cooper Mini. All teh credit for this stellar car chase goes to 2nd unit director Alexander Witt who shot 99% of the chase, and of course, to the editors Saar Klein and Chris Rouse - not sure which of them cut the chase, but it is awesome. I especially like the script starting the chase off - Bourne casually asks Marie if she takes good care of the car, changes the oil, rotates the tires, etc...while he's adjusting the mirrors and memorizing a map of the city in less than 30 seconds... all great set up for the chase to come.

NUMBER TWO: The French Connection (1971)
Technically, he's chasing a train, but that's part of what makes it so cool. The other thing that makes it cool is that it's really, actually terrifying. The 90mph single take that dominates the scene has some close calls in it that are, well, really close. This will never be done again, and it will never see it's equal: many of the shots were done illegally, and the guy who worked for the MTA who gave them permission to use the train was fired immediately following. But it was worth it!

NUMBER ONE: The Blues Brothers (1980)
Yes, it's a comedy. But I promise you that no one before or since has pushed the boundaries of the film car chase as far as the true Master Craftsman, the amazing John Landis.

The Mall Chase:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Huck Finn: The Star Wars Edition

If you haven't heard, someone decided the word 'nigger' used in Mark Twain's classic book The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was un-cool, and so they just went ahead and changed it. Changing the language in a book is akin to deciding that Michelangelo's David should have a cod piece covering his genitals.
So, to help everyone out, I went ahead and took it to the next logical step: just change a bunch of shit: you can download a PDF of my STAR WARS EDITION OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN here.