Monday, April 30, 2007

What's you're Daemon?!

So being that I am on Golden Compass and lighting all these "daemon" characters I thought it would be fun to see what daemon I am. This is what I got. The tiger but you have seven days from today to give your opinion and possibly change my daemon! Have fun!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Back to Ratings!

I apologize for beating this dog but I just can't help myself. Recently I have spent some time reading the criteria for the ratings system. And frankly, I am blown away by the naivety of the organization. The current ratings system was established by three organizations, Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) and the International Film Importers & Distributors of America (IFIDA). The system was put in place in 1968 to replace the Hays Production Code, which was a list essentially of "Do's and Don'ts". It was easily viewed as censorship which is one of the most frowned upon things in American culture.

The part that gets me is this website...

It appears to be written by the founder of today's system. To make a very long gripe short, he/she says:

"The MPAA President chooses the Chairman of the Rating Board, thereby insulating the Board from industry or other group pressure. No one in the movie industry has the authority or the power to push the Board in any direction or otherwise influence it. One of the highest accolades to be conferred on the rating system is that from its birth in 1968 to this hour, there has never been even the slightest jot of evidence that the rating system has ever deliberately fudged a decision or bowed to pressure. The Rating Board has always conducted itself at the highest level of integrity. That is a large, honorable, and valuable asset."

They may not have "bowed to pressure" of a studio head or producer or director. But they most definitely have bowed to the pressures of the ever declining morality of society. I am not for censorship, we must all have the right to choose, but I am also not for letting ones moral convictions slide to fit with society. History has proven that people tend to lessen their morals to the lowest level with in their society verses those with the lowest level of morality raising it to that of their society's pinnacle.

So the question is who are these people who are judging the movies to place this rating system? The president of the MPAA gives us the answer:

" There are no special qualifications for Board membership, except the members must have a shared parenthood experience, must be possessed of an intelligent maturity, and most of all, have the capacity to put themselves in the role of most American parents so they can view a film and apply a rating that most parents would find suitable and helpful in aiding their decisions about their children's movie going."

That is a bit scary! Not all parents are created equal. The website goes on to list the basic guidelines for each rating in the system. This rating can have nudity of a non-sensual nature, this rating can have "

single use of one of the harsher sexually-derived words," and so on. Which is fine and great but it seems that it just keeps sliding and making exceptions.

I will make a praising remark that more people need to read and understand about the mpaa and it's purpose and mission:

"But, importantly, we urge and implore parents to care about what their children see and watch, to focus their attention on movies so they can know more about a film before they consent to their children watching it."

The system wasn't put into place for people blindly attend a film with no question to content. One should still investigate as to the exact subject matter of a film before subjecting their children to it, no to mention themselves. Mass media has a huge effect on society for good and for bad, and society has turned a blind eye to that fact. All we care about is that we are entertained, no matter what it is doing to our mind and/or soul (how ever you would like to see it).

When it all boils down to it. Personal responsibility is what is important. I guess what saddens me most is that film making more and more relies upon sex and violence, sensationalism, to bring in audiences. It is less and less about good story telling. I question why people can't relate to some of the older silver screen classics anymore! In all forms of media and entertainment we are drawn more and more to the sensual, the gruesome, and the depraved. I worry about where the entertainment industry is going to take us.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Discovering the taste of sand

So this photo was taken at my family's favorite beach in Hermosa Beach California. I love to carry around my dad's old 1970's Canon FTB SLR. It's a wonderful machine that takes great pictures. I love to think of myself as a photographer... but reality is I am a hobbiest with an expensive (old but still expensive) toy. I love to shoot nature and my kids. I try to shoot other human subjects but the huge 200 milimeter lens weirds people out. My Dogs would be fun subjects except they jump all over me when I am around so aside from an extreme close up they don't do so well.
On this day we were at the beach (mostly because I was in the mood to shoot on the beach, but the luckily who doesn't like the beach!) I finished my first role and decided to throw in some Kodak 400 bw. This was the first role of black and white that I had shot in a long time. It was a blast to see how it all turned out. Now to the point... this picture. I happened to turn just at the right moment. Well really a few moments before, my completely manual camera isn't as simple as point and shoot. I saw Lauren considering the sand in a strange way and realized what was coming. I was so happy this photo turned out. I was able to catch on film my daughter discovering the taste of sand! (I try not to think of what was in the sand... Just a cute photo) I guess that makes me a true photographer, shoot first, worry for the person later!

For more of my photos go to

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Hulk is coming!

So they are redoing the Hulk movie! There has been a great deal of discussion about the Hulk as a remake. Like for instance, is it a remake when its predecessor only came out about 5 years ago? Must a comic book action film stay 100% true to it's source to please fans? Can a superhero movie be the backdrop for a deeper drama film?
The first Hulk film was met with complaints that the film was too much about Bruce Banner and not the Hulk... the dislike of the picture in picture editing... the lack of wall to wall smashing... and other such complaints. I mean wow! First off... this was an Ang Lee Film! Need we say more. I felt he brought the same creative ability that he did to his other films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Sense and Sensibility. While the film was not perfect, no film is. It's story was engaging and entertain, not an industry changing film. Yet does it have to be the pinnacle of films to be enjoyed? It's visual effects were good but not grand, I must admit I did not care for Hulks character design. Yet overall a very enjoyable movie. For those who cry of too much Banner I say... Banner is the Hulk! What are you crying about! And as for those who didn't like the picture in picture editing, it was a comic book movie. I found it the most comic like visual presentation of a movie to date. And for the wall to wall smashing, only wanting to see 120 minutes of the Hulk smashing things... Well we can just write them off as uneducated fouls who don't know what they want. Because I guarantee you that if you gave them that with no actually story, they would last 30 minutes before leaving the theatre.
I must say I have great hopes for the new Hulk. It is going to look amazing! That much I "KNOW" (emphasis). As for the story... without having read the script I can't say but I think from what I "KNOW"... it is going to be good. And for all the "Hulk SMASH" guys... It looks like it should have a lot of that too. But this is all just speculation based on a few things I can't discuss without getting fired. Hulk fans... what say you?

The Rating System

I have some concerns with our rating system in today's America. I am interested how a film with teen violence (none of it graphic or glorified, but still sensitive in nature) which is trying to make a social statement with out using sex, profanity, or excessive violence and gore, would be rated R. Yet films such as Lord of the Rings, Titanic, Behind Enemy Lines can use extreme violence and gore (even if it is an Orc), nudity, and language and yet be rated PG-13. Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed those films, some more than others... but it seems odd to me where our society places its values. It can handle wanton violence and sex and vulgarity, but not something the shines a spotlight on an unpleasant social truth which we would rather ignore. Although with the way the continue to adjust the ratings system to allow for more and more "exeptions" eventual what is today's R will be tomorrow's PG. And yet... I feel this is all moot because society doesn't seem to really even care anymore what a film is rated! What is to be done.