Saturday, January 29, 2011

"Ten": The Store

This little project has so far, and will continue to, cost me a bit of money. Oh, we won't have to put on a second mortgage or anything, but I do fully expect to have spent several hundred dollars on materials and such before the year is up.

Which means that an additional income devoted to pay for these things is ideal, which is why I'm presenting... Alonzo's Misc Bricks!

Courtesy of the Brick Link website, I now have an online LEGO store where you can browse through all the bits and pieces that I don't really need in my collection and will be happy to pass along to you for a moderate price (plus shipping & optional insurance). I opened the store this past Thursday night and the next morning found someone had placed an order for $82 worth of bricks. I think I'm going to like this sideline.

Sidenote: Although I didn't originally state my intentions of doing so, I'm going to pretty much confine my posts to updates on the project done every Saturday. I'm not saying there won't be posts on other topics (The Quote of the Month posts, for example, will continue), but most of my mental energy will be on the "Ten" project and the blog will be reflecting that. For my half dozen or so steady readers out there, I hope you don't find it boring. If you do and long for a return to my normal mix of content, well, I'll see you in January 2012. 'Till then.

Next Week: The NASA Pic

Saturday, January 22, 2011

"Ten": The Cast

So it's about time you've met the cast of my little film, so here they are:

The cast has gone through a number of changes, but this is basically whom I'll be working with. Starting on the left hand side, we have the two outfits of our hero: Standard uniform and Spacesuit. Next we have two of his assistants. Then we have the Administrator, for lack of a better authority figure name. Suffice to say that he's the hero's boss. The next four are the red shirts (or should I say red helmets) that serves as the bad guy's henchmen. The minifig with a wheel rim for a head will be the bad guy's requisite robot. And finally, on the far right end, is Mr. Bad Guy himself.

Some notes on the figs themselves: The torsos range all across the board in terms of LEGO themes. Both of the hero's outfits are from Star Wars sets. The assistants are from Power Miners. The Administrator's suit is from Batman. The henchmen and the robot all hail from a 2004 series called "Alpha Team". And, finally, Mr. Bad Guy himself has a torso that hails waaaaaay back to 1994 with the "Ice Planet" series.

So, enough of the LEGO geek lingo; what are the film making issues with this lot? First off, the original heads that I was going to use were the traditional yellow. It was only when I did my color test and found that the yellow blended too well with the red helmets that I decided to go with flesh colored instead. This wasn't easy as I didn't have a lot of those to work with. Most are from Star Wars, Batman and the very recently purchased Prince of Persia palace set (that's Jake Gyllenhaal's head as the hero).

Another decision I made with the heads was to only use those with pupils. I wanted to get away from the dead-eyed stare of the original LEGO smiley faces, and that eliminated some of the Star Wars flesh heads right off the bat (damned disposable rebel troops). As it stands, I think I'm happy with the heads I have chosen and will probably not have to order more... but that could always change.

That being said, I can't say that I'm entirely happy with the contrast between heads and helmets. It's better than it was, but it's still a little too close. With his white space suit, the hero should be fine, but I may find myself buying extra black helmets for the baddies to better contrast with the faces and also set them strikingly apart from the hero during the fight sequences.

One final detail: As a sacrifice for the sake of film making, I will be slightly hollowing out the hero's head some time soon. This is so I can turn his head easily when performing the stop motion shots.

I just hope Jake doesn't mind.

Next week: The Store

Saturday, January 15, 2011

"Ten": The Color Test

One of the first decisions I made about the new film was that it would be in black & white. There were two main reasons for this. The first is that the story was originally going to be a next chapter in the "Blast Reynolds" adventures. Eventually, I decided I wanted to start with a new hero and go for something a little less hokey than the Flash Gordon serials approach I used with the original. Yet monochrome still had a classic and crisp look to it, so that element stayed.

The second reason was a matter of supply. Although I have a generous amount of LEGO, I don't have that much, especially when you consider the scope of this film and the number of large scale sets involved. Doing black & white allows me to use the more garish colors I have buckets of because it all comes out in shades of grey. Besides, when dealing with a story that predominantly takes place on a barren moonscape, color is less of a concern.

The next step, before the building of the sets, was to gauge what colors looked like when made monochromatic. So I performed a test:

Here we have a list of the predominant LEGO colors in my collection. The bottom ten represents the largest share, while the top four I only have in smaller amounts. As you can see, some colors that are strikingly different such as red and blue become nearly the same hue in monochrome.

(And for those non-LEGO people out there, "Bley" is a nickname for a sickly blueish grey color that LEGO recently started using in their sets.)

So I now have a guide for when I'm building the sets so that I have an idea what they will look like in back & white. And not only the sets, but the cast of characters as well... which will be in my next update.

Next week: The Cast

Friday, January 14, 2011

It's a wonderful thing when it finally feels right.

Writing is something I've been trying my hand at for many years now, but most of the time it has been a slog. I have now made two attempts at the whole NaNoWriMo thing and have fallen through both times. If I'm to be honest with myself, I have to admit that the joy just isn't there.

On the other hand, the time I have spent making videos for YouTube have been incredibly fun. The end product has varied, of course, but the process has never been less than grand, and that's a concrete fact that I should pay attention to. I'm a movie person more than a book person, and it should not have taken me this long to finally realize that my natural artistic output would mirror these tendencies.

I decided that with this new year I would make a new LEGO film building on what I have learned from the other three. Previously, I had deadlines to meet that confined my work to three or four months, but this time I'm giving myself until the end of this year; One year to work on a project from beginning to end and ensure that it's as perfect as it can be.

I have a new laptop and new editing software. I have the LEGO. And I have plans (oh, do I have plans...) to make a nice, tight ten minute space adventure to truly entertain those who see it. The past two weeks has been a blizzard of little notes and storyboards and ideas and I've been having a blast. I'll be passing along pictures and updates on the project (which I'll name "Ten" for the time being) for your viewing pleasure.

Tomorrow: The Color Test

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Lizzy and Darcy, Together Again!

Mrs. Mosley and I could hardly believe it when we found out Jennifer Ehle played Geoffrey Rush's wife in The King's Speech and we had watched the whole film without realizing it. Furthermore, we were presented with a Pride & Prejudice reunion when she shares one scene with Colin Firth. Now, courtesy of the Austen blog Elegance of Fashion, we have photographic proof!

If you're going to make one remark in bad taste, you might as well make it two.

First off: How many people made this connection when you first saw Jared Loughner?

Yeah, I didn't think I was the only one.

And the other item is this story from CNN about how the folks from Westboro Baptist Church are planning to protest the funeral of the little girl killed by Loughner:

"Threat of funeral protest met by 'angels' in Arizona"

How many of you read that headline and sincerely wished they meant the Hell's Angels?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Stay tuned for "Beck Justice" costarring Robert Davi!

Thank you to Daily Kos for preserving this from Glenn Beck's website.

That poor bastard wants to be Jack Bauer so badly he can taste it.

Friday, January 07, 2011

A Cockney reality folding in upon itself

Well, if Serafinowicz can do it, and if Coogan and Brydon can do it, then surely... Michael Caine can do it:

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Dreams and Imagination: Inception vs. Sucker Punch

Now that the 2010 movie season has passed and we are in the midst of awards season, discussions about Inception have revved up again. One of the complaints I've heard about the film is that the dreams weren't all that dream-like, and the complaint is just as frustrating now as it was then (Spoilers Ahoy).

Let's run through this. There are two major sequences that take place within dreams: The Dream-within-a-dream at the beginning and the Dream-within-a-dream-within-a-dream at the end. In the case of the former, the first level dream (with the revolutionaries outside the window) is supposed to mimic reality and make the subject believe they are in the real world. The second level dream (with the oriental palace on the cliff) is also supposed to be believable if just a bit stylized. Like this:

All of those lanterns on the ceiling make a great visual and is just over-the-top enough to denote a place in dreams (similar to Hollywood love scenes where the bedroom is absolutely riddled with lit candles and you wonder how long it took to light the damn things).

In the sequence that ends the film, you have three levels. The first level is again supposed to mimic reality. It's only when Cobb's subconscious interferes in the form of a train barreling down a downtown street that the spell is nearly broken (fortunately, the subject has a bag over his head at the time):

The second level is also supposed to mimic reality to a point, with the only dream-like imagery coming from the famous hallway fight sequence. Even in this case, the concept of rotating gravity is not just for the sake of being a dream, but rather is due to the dreamer being tossed around inside a rolling van in the first level (an explanation I just adore because it makes such lovely sense).

For the third level, all parties are aware they are in a dream, but they only get as fantastical as framing it as a James Bond action sequence on some snowbound fortress. It's a cool concept, but it failed in the execution because all that came out of it was some poorly choreographed action sequences where I didn't know who was who and what the hell was going on. Given this result, they might have just as well gone with something far more surreal. But even then, I'm willing to give it a pass.

There's a great joke in the movie Living in Oblivion about how movie dream sequences always include a dwarf when, in fact, dwarves aren't regularly remembered from actual dreams:

"Have you ever had a dream with a dwarf in it? Do you know anyone who's had a dream with a dwarf in it? No! I don't even have dreams with dwarves in them. The only place I've seen dwarves in dreams is in stupid movies like this! 'Oh make it weird, put a dwarf in it!'. Everyone will go 'Woah, this must be a fuckin' dream, there's a fuckin' dwarf in it!'. Well I'm sick of it! You can take this dream sequence and stick it up your ass!"

When I dream, I don't see purple polka-dotted rhinos or Richard Nixon on a unicycle dressed as an astronaut. I usually dream about myself in known places where the architecture has gotten skewed to add extra floors and absurd breezeways that connect buildings. In other words... much like the stuff we see in Inception.

The one area where Inception really dropped the ball was with the flashback dream sequence (wrap your mind around that one) that consists of Cobb and Mal in their own private paradise. Given that they control their surroundings, you'd think they'd skip the rows and rows of skyscrapers and go with some beautiful What Dreams May Come type of surroundings.

But who knows. Maybe Cobb and Mal are just City people at heart.

This all leads me to a movie coming out in March called Sucker Punch. Haven't heard of it yet? Here's the trailer:

So here we have five nubile young women creating a dream world of their own that includes, among other things, crumbling cathedrals, burning zeppelins, fire-breathing dragons, cyborg Nazis, futuristic cityscapes, WWI biplanes, killer robots and a big-ass samurai Mecha with a Gatling gun. Call my cynical, but this seems far less like a conceivable dream world of five institutionalized young women and more like director Zack Snyder throwing every flippin cool geek idea into one movie because anything goes in a dream sequence.

This is not to say this thing isn't going to be entertaining. I'm sure it'll be a hoot. But with Inception, Nolan created a storyline and plot that was engaging, and had some nice visuals to boot that served the story rather than distract from it. Sucker Punch looks very much like the visuals came first, and they serve not only to dazzle the audience, but to distract them from how thin all other aspects of the movie are.

And let me just end this piece with one last thought: BRRRRAAAAAWWWWRWRMMRMRMMM!!!

With a special shout-out to KKC

The AV Club has a very nice write up on Johnny Carson and The Tonight Show as part of their Very Special Episode series. Some things are gone forever.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

"Hey, I can bring the Zep and we'll read some Psalms, or somethin'."

For months now, under the little news section on the First Coast News website titled "Community", there has been the same damn headline:
"'Forget Pizza Parties,' Teens Tell Churches"

I've seen it so often now, I've started to fill in the lines that should follow:
"Local Pot Heads Retort, 'Noooooo, Dude. You're On To Something, Here.'"

My very own Jake Gyllenhaal!

Target has a funny idea of what constitutes a "Clearance" price.

Here in these days after Christmas, when LEGO has released two new themes that the stores have to make room on their shelves for, a high amount of older sets have been put in the Clearance section. Yet when the Target near my house decides to take only four bucks off a forty dollar set, it's not exactly the kind of price cut that will have them flying off the shelves. When they decide to do a 50% cut, then we'll talk.

Well, this morning we had that conversation.

Mrs. Mosley were on the other side of town and went to the Target there for baby shower gift. When I hit the LEGO in the Clearance aisle, I saw the same anemic 10% to 20% price cuts that I had seen before. Except for one:

An eighty dollar set for forty bucks was too tempting to pass up. Realistically, this set should have been marked down months ago given that it's for a movie that totally tanked at the Box Office. The smaller Prince of Persia sets, I should note, are still going for full price. Perhaps Target knows that the sets will still appeal to the LEGO nuts like me regardless of theme. Parts is parts, after all.

Given that the awesome LEGO deals at Tuesday Morning have dried up, I was very happy to get my hands on this. I suppose the only drawback is that, now that I've organized by color, I have large amounts of two new hues to make a special space for. But compared with my other to-do list items like fixing the toilet, I'll consider more LEGO sorting to be not a chore at all.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Chiwetel Ejiofor Quote of the Month: January 2011

I hesitated in using Chiwetel Ejiofor for my 2011 Quote-of-the-Month pick. Though the man is brilliant and is certainly deserving of a year on my blog, his resume is shorter than previous subjects (and thus less movies to choose from for when I'm gathering quotes). However, given that the Mosley household signed up with Netflix last month, I suddenly have a lot more access to films than I used to. So Chiwetel Ejiofor it is!

And out first quote is from a favorite of Geeks everywhere: Serenity. Joss Whedon created a very believable and in some cases sympathetic villain with The Operative, and Ejiofor's terrific performance very much does it justice:
The Operative: "I'm sorry. If your quarry goes to ground, leave no ground to go to. You should have taken my offer. Or did you think none of this was your fault?"

Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: "I don't murder children."

The Operative: "I do. If I have to."

Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: "Why? Do you even know why they sent you?"

The Operative: "It's not my place to ask. I believe in something greater than myself. A better world. A world without sin."

Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: "So me and mine gotta lay down and die... so you can live in your better world?"

The Operative: "I'm not going to live there. There's no place for me there... any more than there is for you. Malcolm... I'm a monster.What I do is evil. I have no illusions about it, but it must be done."