Post-Traumatic Plumber

•May 24, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Mario: Game Over

This is one of those videos that you randomly stumble across, have no expectations of and are pleasantly surprised with.

Mario from the Nintendo games is living in a one bedroom apartment in Brooklyn with the Princess. Unfortunately poor Mario is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (or shell shock, get it, shell shock!) and is addicted to mushrooms.

I won’t give away the plot in its entirety but the video is remarkably well executed. The casting of the actors is perfect and both manage to deliver their lines with genuine emotion despite the fact that they’re playing video game characters. In fact they’re more believable than many sitcom characters out there.

The special effects are well executed and considering the likely budget quite well done. The combination of the lighting, the script and the acting all work together to make the fantastical elements of the video fit without jarring the viewer. Its just natural enough to work.

Its funny, it feels true to life and it doesn’t cheapen itself by going for easy one liners or dragging the concept on for too long. Mario and the Princess have real Brooklynite problems and Mario really does remind me of a Vietnam vet who’s traumatic past continues to haunt him even though the war is over.

Finally the music provides a great atmosphere that reminds us of the games by playing with some of the classic Mario musical motifs but still fits on the real streets of Brooklyn.

There honestly isn’t much I’d suggest to improve this video. I would have preferred to see 3D mushrooms or pixelated mushrooms like you can see here, but that’s just being pedantic.

Good job guys.

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Out to make a buck

•March 22, 2007 • 1 Comment

Well I’ve off and signed up for Amazon’s associate program. What the hell does that mean? Ultimately not much.

Basically when I review a film or a book that’s available on Amazon.com I’m going to include a little link that allows you to go on over to Amazon and buy it. If you do I’ll get a handful of pennies from the giant web retailer as thanks. That’s about it. It’ll probably amount to a cup of coffee every month or two, but hey, that’s coffee I wouldn’t have otherwise.

Does this make me a sellout? Perhaps. But I seriously doubt it’ll amount to any more than chump change so it won’t influence my posting at all. I’ll still critique all the films and videos that run across my screen with the same vitriol as ever. I don’t care if you buy anything or not, I’m just providing the avenue should you so choose, and making a quarter or a dime on the side…

Babel

•March 22, 2007 • Leave a Comment

A couple of months ago while assisting at a charity casino for the Calgary International Film Festival I watched The 13th Warrior (1999). Not a bad film overall, but one particular part of it impressed me a great deal.

Antonio Banderes plays Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan Ibn Al Abbas Ibn Rashid Ibn Hamad, an Arab poet sent to the barbarian lands to the north. When the film begins Ahmed understands none of the Norse being spoken by the other characters. Ahmed and Melchisidek (Omar Sharif) supposedly speak Arabic, but on screen we hear it as English, a fairly common cinematic technique. Not only does it save the problem of subtitles or actors having to learn different languages, but audiences are also much more likely to empathize with a character that speaks their own language. That is what makes the beginning of The 13th Warrior so brilliant.

We immediately identify with Ahmed because he speaks the same language as we do. The Norse characters on the other hand speak in apparent gibberish (It may actually be Norwegian but I can’t verify that). Ahmed can’t understand them, so neither can we. Its through this very simple technique that we’re drawn into Banderes’ character, his sense of alienation and displacement in a strange new world. Through this very simple technique we see Europe and Europeans through Arabic eyes.

Of course having the Norse speak in gibberish for the entire film would be tedious so Ahmed quickly learns Norse and the remainder of the film proceeds with all the characters apparently speaking in English. Those first few minutes of linguistic difference however have already had a profound impact on the way we will digest the rest of the film.

First impressions are as important in films as they are with people. The conditions that are set in the first few minutes of a movie define the entire universe, they set the tone for the whole remainder of the film. The 13th Warrior illustrates this wonderfully, demonstrating that small details can make a huge difference.

8…7…6…5…4…3…2…

•March 21, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Whether you see it or not that’s how nearly every film begins, the universal leader countdown from 8 to 2 followed by a beep that tells you that picture and audio are in synch.

This is Frame by Frame a blog about film & video criticism and analysis. Ever watched a video and felt like something was missing? Have you ever been watching a movie and notice you pulse quickening during a particularly intense scene? Frame by Frame aims to analyze and critique films and videos to help you the reader understand what makes a film tick.

There will also be movie reviews, links to videos you should see (or avoid) and discussion of film technique. Hopefully I’ll manage to walk the line between being overly academic and being too dumb. I hope to provide some value and insight to filmmakers on making better films, but also to viewers on what makes a good film.

Be at ease. Things will get more goofy and irreverent as time goes on. I always start out a little bit stiff. No not that kind of stiff. See? Its starting already.

So grab a coke, grab some popcorn, sit back and enjoy.