The Sign-A-Rama Cambridge Video Collection, Sept 2010 – April 2011 (Michelle Weitzel’s photography exhibit can be found in a previous post).
Buzz Lightyear: How to Make a Sign
That’s right, Space Rangers. Buzz shows you how to make the Greatest Sign of All Time. Filmed on location at Sign-A-Rama Cambridge in front of a live studio audience. www.Signarama-Cambridge.com (Cambridge, Massachusetts)
Miss Massachusetts 2010: Loren Galler Rabinowitz
The beautiful and brilliant Loren Rabinowitz gives her TOTALLY UNBIASED OPINION of Sign-A-Rama Cambridge’s signs and banners before heading off to the 2011 Miss America Pagent. www.Signarama-Cambridge.com (Cambridge, Massachusetts)
Neal “Lightning” Cutler Installs a Wall Sign
Sign expert Neal “Lightning” Cutler installs a wall sign. Neal Cutler is the owner of Sign-A-Rama Cambridge. www.Signarama-Cambridge.com (Cambridge, Massachusetts)
Deluxe Pop-Up Banners
Deluxe Pop-Up Banners are handy little things, great for travel, showrooms, tradeshows. www.Signarama-Cambridge.com (Cambridge, Massachusetts)
DVD Verdict’s “Objection” podcast created a list of their MOST BADASS AFRICAN-AMERICAN CHARACTERS IN MOVIE HISTORY for MLK day, 2011 (episode #756). Judge David Johnson and Judge Dan Mancini named their TOP 1o:
Honorable Mention: Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian – Star Wars Episodes 5-6
10. Reginald VelJohnson as Sgt. Al Powell – Die Hard
9. Richard Roundtree as John Shaft – Shaft
8. Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu – Star Wars Episodes 1-3
7. Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox – Batman Begins and The Dark Knight
6. Grace Jones as May Day – A View to a Kill
5. Carl Weathers as Apollo Creed – Rocky 1-4
4. Wesley Snipes as John Cutter – Passanger 57
3. Michael Jai White as Black Dynamite – Black Dynamite.
2. Mr. T as B. A. Baracus – The A-Team
1. Danny Glover as Lt. Mike Harrigan – Predator 2
The gentleman at “Objection” specialize in contrarian a-holery, and offer deliberately restive and hilarious positions on cinematic topics. A fine list, full of both mighty (HARRIGAN!) and unusual (Lucius Fox) choices. Conspicuously absent from the list is THE most BADASS African-American Character in Movie History: Samuel L. Jackson as Jules in “Pulp Fiction”. The role is so iconic, so utterly badass, that the Marine Corp plays his “Ezekiel” speech to fire up Jarheads for deployment.
I personally feel as THE single most BADASS African-American Actor in Movie History, Samuel L. Jackson should be exempt from the list altogether. He’s a given. Like the answer to “who is the greatest basketball player of all time,” there’s just no arguing.
I hereby offer an addendum to the original “Objection” list, taken from my collection.
I am not reusing any of the aforementioned actors, no matter how much I want to. For instance, Carl Weathers is an incredible bad ass in “Action Jackson” (where he jumps 20 feet over a speeding car), but as he was listed by “Objection” for “Rocky”, so I won’t include it.
I am only listing actors once. While Bill Duke was badass in “Commando” and “Pam Grier” is badass in everything, I included only my favorite choice.
I’ve only included movies I’ve seen in full, within the past 10 years (sorry Mario Van Peebles, sorry Billy Blanks). I also don’t include non-human characters (Sorry Michael Dorn)… though formerly human is okay. So please feel free to include your own suggestions in the comments section. And now, without further ado…
THE MOST BADASS AFRICAN-AMERICAN CHARACTERS IN MOVIE HISTORY
Ken Foree as Peter – Dawn of the Dead
Blows away loads of zombies, evil zombie kids. Owns the mall. Does his best buddy a solid. Zombie apocalypse survivor. Badass.
Woody Strode as Draba – Spartacus
Kicks the ass of the future slave rebellion leader. Shows him mercy. Defies class system through ultimate sacrifice, igniting spark in future slave rebellion leader. Ripped as hell. Badass.
Denzel Washington and the entire cast of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteers – Glory
Charge on Fort Wagner – ’nuff said. Badasses, one and all.
Fred Williamson, Jim Kelly, Jim Brown – Three the Hard Way
This hat trick defies description. Badassery abounds.
Keith David as Frank – They Live
Brawls for absurdly interminable length of time with Rowdy Roddy Piper over sunglasses. Uncovers shocking societal truth, immediately enlists in suicide mission. Badass.
Rudy Ray Moore as Dolemite – Dolemite
Kicks at stuntman’s head, misses, and STILL knocks him out cold (presumably by the intense air pressure generated by foot) . Beds every woman in the movie, gets no STDs. Not the smartest idea in the world… but Badass.
Charles S. Dutton as Dillon – Alien 3
Gives one of cinema’s greatest motivational speeches ever. Bare-knuckle boxes alien. While being torn to pieces by xenomorph, asks it: “Is that all you got?” SuperBadass.
Leave your own suggestions!
By Michael McVey, Skiffleboom.com
My hometown Warwick NY has lots of backroads. Driving late at night, the sprawling woodlands and fields become a dark, cerebral place. And though nobody can really outrun existential dread on a late night drive, it never hurts to try.
Watch this in Full Screen HD with volume up, if you dare…
Artist: Wild Nothing
Song: Live in Dreams
Album: Gemini (2010)
Shot and edited by by Michael McVey, http://www.Skiffleboom.com
Made with an HD Flip at 2AM on Thanksgiving weekend, 2010.
By Michael McVey, Skiffleboom.com
You’re out of you’re element Donny – I made this image and mixed Donny’s Eulogy scene from The Big Lebowski + remix of Kansas’ “Dust in the Wind.” Enjoy.
By Michael McVey, Skiffleboom.com
This is a video edit I made of the Arcade Fire’s Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains), from their album “The Suburbs.”
I came home from work late last night, caught a new episode of Mad Men at midnight, then stayed up til morning making this. I don’t know what it is about that show that gets me going. The whole things took about nine hours from start to upload, plus a little nap.
A youtube user named StocktoSong loves this album too – StocktoSong also made an Arcade Fire video from the original 1957 Suburba Prelinger footage. It’s interesting to compare and contrast how we both used the footage. We are reworking digitally something edited by hand half a century ago.
The original ephemeral film:
1957’s “In the Suburbs” is a thoughtfully made advertising sales promo film extolling 1950s suburbanites as citizens and consumers. It was produced by On Film, Inc., and sponsored by Redbook Magazine. It can be viewed at http://www.archive.org/details/IntheSub1957
Visit Arcade Fire
By Michael McVey, Skiffleboom.com
I draw and maintain illustrated walking maps throughout New York and Massachusetts.
This Harvard Map was completed in 2009. Most of the tourists don’t pick up on it, but there are some hidden secrets scattered all over the map!
You can pick up your own copy at Harvard Square, watch tour videos here, and take the Hahvahd Tour at www.UnofficialTours.com
By Michael McVey, Skiffleboom.com
Harry Potter Bookmarks: The Four Houses of Hogwarts. I made these for you to enjoy and share. Careful where you point that wand.
By Michael McVey, Skiffleboom.com
The Nyack Map, 2003-2010 – By Michael McVey, Skiffleboom.com
I drew an axiometric map of Nyack, New York in 2003, using pens and reference photos It’s an early Skiffleboom project, and was fun to make. I hid monsters on the map… and now their secret hiding places are revealed!
Review by Michael McVey
Originally published in The Irish Emigrant, July 12th, 2010
Oscar-winner Adrien Brody packs on the muscle and the firepower in Predators, a lean and mean sequel to the space hunter franchise. 1987’s Predator starred two United States governors AND Apollo Creed, one of the few men to beat Rocky Balboa in the ring. It is a towering 80’s classic, ranking among the most entertaining films of that decade. Followed by a goofball gore-fest sequel and a couple of lame Aliens vs. Predators crossovers, the franchise devolved into limp rehash. 23 years later, producer Robert Rodriguez and director Nimród Antal present us with a worthy successor to the original. Recapturing the tense fun of the initial slam-bang outing, Predators is a violent, testosterone-fueled action picture that delivers what the other sequels failed to: excitement! This pulpy, sci-fi tale finds a new group of human warriors hunted by the Predators. With some terse direction and a great new batch of characters/alien-fodder, this sequel is a terrific B-movie blaster. It’s fun to watch Brody growl out his dialogue, the supporting cast is terrific, it’s enjoyably gory, and best of all, composer John Debney pays proper homage to Alan Silvestri’s great original score. For fans, that alone is worth the price of admission.
What are you waiting for? Get to da CHOPPA!
Film as Art
Week 09 – Choosing Shots to Tell the Story, Assignment 9
By Michael McVey – April 22, 2010
Bunker Hill Community College – Charlestown, MA
Watch The Seven Samurai. Choose one scene and list each shot in it.
Identify what kind of camera angle was used (such as a wide shot, medium shot, close-up), any camera movements (dolly, pan, zoom, tilt), and a description of the action occurring in the scene (the movement of the actors, and so forth).
The Seven Samurai – Heihachi’s Funeral
The samurai bury Heihachi after he dies during a raid. The farmers and samurai mourn his loss. The wild Kikuchiyo galvanizes the village with Heihachi’s flag. At that moment, bandits attack that village.
Low-angle, Long shot of the hillside. Encircled by villagers, the samurai bow before Heihachi’s grave mound. The wind blows.
Low-angle, Medium long shot of samurai. This a zoomed shot at the same angle – the samurai perform the burial ritual.
Low-angle, Medium long shot of Kikuchiyo, framed left. This is an even closer view, same angle. The camera tracks Kikuchiyo as he plunges Heihachi’s sword into his grave, then sits, despondent.
Return to Low-angle, Long shot of the hillside. The samurai and farmers kneel before Heihachi’s grave mound.
Medium, Low-angle shot of Rikichi and the farmers kneeling at the grave. As the farmers mourn, Rikichi breaks down and hugs the dirt, crying in despair. His actions accidently lead to Heihachi’s death. The camera pans left, following Rikichi as he snaps.
Return to Low-angle, Medium long shot of Kikuchiyo, framed left. Kikuchiyo yells at Rikichi to stop crying. The camera tilts as he stands.
Low-angle, Long shot of the hillside. Kikuchiyo yells at everyone to stop crying. He runs down the hillside.
Medium long shot, panning right to left, tracking Kikuchiyo. Kikuchiyo runs through the village.
Long shot to Medium, tracking the movement of Kikuchiyo run through the village and into the samurai’s quarters. The camera pulls back as Kikuchiyo enters the building and pans left as he grabs Heihachi’s flag, then scrambles outside.
Long shot, low angle. The camera tilts up as Kikuchiyo climbs the thatched roof.
Wide shot with Samurai in the foreground, and Kikuchiyo on the roof in the distance. Kikuchiyo plants the flag in the thatched roof. The samurai see the flag and turn towards it.
Close-up on Heihachi’s flag. The flag stands tall, waving in the fierce wind.
Return to Low-angle, Long shot of the hillside. The farmers and samurai all turn to the flag.
Medium shot of farmers. The male farmers jockey for position, fixing eyes on the flag.
Medium shot of farmers. The female farmers look on, teary eyed.
Extreme close-up of flag. The camera tilts down on the flag’s symbols.
Return to Low-angle, Long shot of the hillside. The village stands together, staring at the flag.
Return to Extreme close-up of flag. Again, the camera tilts down on the flag’s symbols.
Medium shot of Kikuchiyo on the roof. Kikuchiyo sits, cradling himself under the flag. Something in the distance suddenly alarms him.
Wide shot of the distant hills. Bandits on horseback gallop over the horizon.
Return to Medium shot of Kikuchiyo on the roof. Kikuchiyo alertly stands and runs to the roof’s edge as the camera pans left, tracking him. He announces the bandit arrival to the village. “Goddamn! Here they come!”
A Scene from “The Terminator” – Sarah Connor Watches Reese’s Interrogation Tape, from Skiffleboom.com
Film as Art – Bunker Hill Community College
Week 04 – Character and Dialogue, Assignment 4
February 25, 2010
Sarah Connor watches Kyle Reese’s interrogation tape.
Examine a scene where dialog is used and answer the questions:
1) How is character revealed through the actions they take?
On a television monitor, a tape plays: Kyle Reese sits handcuffed to a chair while Dr. Silberman questions him. The camera pans left to reveal Sarah Connor watching the tape, along with Dr. Silberman, Lieutenant Traxler, and Detective Vukovich.
Silberman sits front and center, amused by Reese’s outlandish tale. He laughs at the tape with Vukovich. Both men seem oblivious to the anxiety-wracked Sarah, who nervously chews her fingernails. Traxler gives them both a look of disgust—Silberman and Vukovich are insensitive to Sarah’s mental state.
We cut back to Reese on the monitor, explaining his circumstances. The handcuffs and questioning agitate Reese. He seethes with frustration—he is not convincing anyone with his bizarre story… except maybe Sarah. We cut to close-up of Traxler, tensely chewing gum. We cut to close-up of Sarah. She looks scared.
As Reese explains, Silberman pauses the tape. He tells everyone in the room how brilliant Reese’s elaborate story is. He clearly does not believe Reese. This inappropriate action demonstrates the Silberman’s egotism. He is too thrilled with career prospects to consider the murders, and their effect on Sarah. He resumes the tape.
Reese reaches his limit Silberman’s questioning. He realizes Silberman is not in any position to help him. Reese silences him and pleads directly to the camera. He warns about the Terminator to anyone who will listen. Officers attempt to subdue Reese. His fervor suggests he truly believes his mission is to protect Sarah. The fear in Sarah’s eyes suggests she may believe him.
The doctor stops the tape and apologizes. He realizes that he should not have exposed Sarah to Reese’s fear-inducing rant. The doctor shows a fleeting moment of responsibility. He is not a very good doctor if he is oblivious to Sarah’s nerves. Sarah asks Dr. Silberman if Reese is crazy. The doctor assures her Reese is insane. Traxler and Vukovich show Sarah some body armor. They explain the Terminator is likely a man wearing such protection. Traxler gives Sarah the armor so she can feel the weight. He is assuring. Vukovich explains how PCP may have been used to inhibit pain, but before he can tell an anecdote, Traxler gives him the armor to put away. Vukovich has clearly had a lot of experience, but Traxler is focused on nurturing Sarah back from her anxiety.
Traxler warmly suggests Sarah lie down and get some rest. He covers her with his jacket. He is protective and paternal. He assures Sarah of her safety, and she falls asleep, completely exhausted from the ordeal.
2) Are large chunks of information spilled out all at once or is it parceled out?
The information is parceled out. The time travel exposition is well handled. It feels natural—Reese responds to questioning because it is his best option to protect Sarah, given his situation. Scene is written to explain back story while revealing character. Protecting Sarah is Reese’s only concern. He tries to be convince Silberman, but his story is just too surreal for the doctor.
By framing the Reese/Silberman conversation as a pre-recorded tape on a monitor, we are able to focus on the reactions of the observing characters. We get the exposition, but we also see Sarah’s emotion state.
Traxler and Vukovich split assurance duties. The perceptive Traxler is clearly the better man for the job, as Vukovich seems insensitive. They divide up the rationalizations between them, helping calm Sarah. The Dr. Silberman’s dismissal of Reese’s story also helps Sarah relax.
3) How does the writer parcel the information? –Are the speakers saying exactly what is on their minds or are they using subtext getting at what they want to say by being indirect?
At first, Kyle Reese answers the line of questioning in an effort to win allies. When he realizes that his efforts are going nowhere, Reese screams exactly what is on his mind—Sarah is going to die unless the Terminator is stopped.
Dr. Silberman explains the intricacies of Reese’s “delusion,” but is more occupied by the possibilities of his career advancement. He sees great personal opportunity, and at one point, he refers to it as a career case.
Vukovich doesn’t say much, but it is clear he is a man of experience. His attempts at anecdotes allude to this. His insensitivity to Sarah’s emotional state is characteristic of a someone used to dealing with death and murder.
Traxler’s measured, collected manner of assuring Sarah reveals sensitivity. He is a thoughtful, empathic man who has her best interests at heart. He understands how traumatic the experience must be, and brings her a few steps closer to tranquility.
Sarah Connor is a nervous wreck. Her face and body language suggest she may believe Reese. She asks questions looking for support. The doctor and police officers assure her of her safety. She is too exhausted to process any more information. She accepts Traxler’s comforting words and falls asleep.
By Michael McVey
This is why I go to the movies. Co-writer and director Neill Blomkamp’s debut film is an outstanding amalgam of documentary-style realism,thought-provoking constructs, and lots of hardcore, bloody action. Independently produced by Peter Jackson, the film delivers these elements in the guise of science fiction. And like all great sci-fi, the world of District 9 is a prism through which we see our own selves today.
The premise: 28 years ago, an alien ship arrives suddenly over Johannesburg, South Africa. Despite having advanced technology, the alien inhabitants are malnourished refuges, like worker bees without a queen. Unable to return home, they are met with open hostility from a fearful populace and segregated from human society in a crime-ridden slum called District 9…
The filmmakers make bold choices with casting, languages, locations, narrative structure – all of which succeed in creating something truly original. We feel the world the characters inhabit,just as we feel the characters plight, right up to the jaw-dropping, killer climax.
While not perfect (and definitely not for all tastes), this is an incredibly entertaining film. It features first-rate FX, liberal doses of intense action, and it has a lot on its mind – it is great in the way “Mad Max” and “Aliens” are great. This may end up being my favorite film of the year.