buy propecia buy viagra buy cialis buy levitra buy zithromax buy doxycycline buy prednisone buy effexor buy clomid buy desyrel

Olson’s Observations

Technology. Innovation. Science. VC. Media. :: by Eric Olson

Archive for the ‘Movie Reviews’ Category

Manufactured Landscapes: The Work of Edward Burtynsky

without comments

Manufactured LandscapesWhen Manufactured Landscapes came up as a suggested film on Netflix I was immediately intrigued. What was this film about I wondered. So I took a look at the description and found that it was a documentary that focused on the work of Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky.

Burtynsky has been photographing what he calls “manufactured landscapes” for over twenty years and his work is, quite frankly, breathtaking.

It all started with a missed direction on the highway that landed Burtynsky at a strip mining operation. This got him thinking of not only what a great photograph the mine would make but also about the harm we were doing to the planet. It was then that he set off to document, through fantastic photographs, what we as humans have done and are doing to our home.

What is great about Burtynsky though is the fact that his photographs don’t hammer you over the head with their environmental message. It is a very subtle message that you begin to realize only after looking at the photographs for a while. At first the photos simply look like interesting pieces of art but then, all of a sudden, you realize what you are really looking at and you have to take a step back and think.

If you’re not sure a whole film about Burtynsky’s work is for you I would suggest checking out his TED talk. I think you’ll be captivated by it and by his work.

Looking at a massive pile of tires or a sea of used electronics through the lens of Edward Burtynsky really makes you think about our impact on this planet. I hope you will check out the movie, Burtynsky’s work and his TED talk because I believe it will open your eyes.

Written by Eric Olson

March 19th, 2008 at 6:56 am

Movie Review: Saints and Soldiers

with 3 comments

Saints and SoldiersI have always been a big fan of war films and and especially those that depict various WWII stories. It was for this reason that Saints and Soldiers caught my eye. Saints and Soldiers had won many film fest awards back when it first came out (2005) but, as we all know, awards don’t mean a given person will like a film.

There was something different about the awards this film was winning though. Saints and Soldiers was taking home all of the audience judged awards (as opposed to those judged by a panel). Could a number of film fest audiences be wrong?

Nope. They were spot on as far as I am concerned.

This film was fantastic from the very start and continued on to a powerful ending.

What I really loved about the movie was that it was very character driven. A number of scenes in the movie were there simply to allow the viewer to learn more about the five main characters. There was still a lot of action though so you action junkies won’t be disappointed.

The other thing I really loved about Saints and Soldiers was its’ historical nature. The event that both kicked off the film and inspired it was the Malmedy Massacre in which a number of U.S. soldiers were executed by the Germans. The film took off from that point and made sure to keep the historical accuracy at top of mind throughout. The costumes, weapons, vehicles and other gear were very true to life. Even the sound work was spot on.

I couldn’t believe that they made this film for under $1mm and I think you’ll feel the same way. This is a movie for those who like war films, history and great character driven stories so check it out if you fall into one or more of those categories. You won’t regret it.

Written by Eric Olson

March 16th, 2008 at 4:22 pm

Posted in Movie Reviews

Movie Review: The Darjeeling Limited

with one comment

The Darjeeling LimitedThis is a film I have been waiting to see for a while and by waiting I mean I was too busy to check it out in theaters and had to wait for the DVD from Netflix. I was unsure I would like as I assumed it would be a pretentious Wes Anderson film (and had read as much from some reviewers) but I was pleasantly surprised.

The Darjeeling Limited was a great character driven film that had me from the very beginning. Sure, the characters are quirky but the quirks of each really do work to tell the story rather than being random or there solely for comic relief.

Throughout the film the main characters, three brothers, try to shed the baggage their deceased father left behind (both literally and figuratively) and, just when they think their trip is a bust, they are put in a situation that shows the best in humanity and in themselves.

I highly recommend The Darjeeling Limited and it is especially good for those that enjoy a good dark comedy. Check it out and and let me know what you think in the comments.

Written by Eric Olson

March 15th, 2008 at 6:29 pm

Posted in Movie Reviews

Movie Review: Once

with 3 comments

Once has to be one of the most compelling films I have seen in a while. The story, while being so simple, was so intriguing and all consuming. The mood of the film was set (extremely well) with music so, in a sense, I suppose this film could be called a musical but it is truly unlike any other musical I have ever seen (i.e. it’s not cheesy).

The premise of the film is this: boy (singer/songwriter) meets girl (pianist/singer), girl opens boys eyes, girl helps boy find the strength to win back his ex while they also write and record a CD together (in one busy week), [SPOILER ALERT - Skip the next sentence if you don't want to know what happens.] girl and boy have a strong connection but never consummate their relationship due to other life constraints.

I know what you’re thinking, it seems so simple and it can’t be that great, but I am telling you that you need to watch Once. I really believe you will fall in love with the film and, as I did, buy the soundtrack immediately after watching it. I think they should tour as a band. They really mesh well together.

I don’t really know what else to say other than this film was very well done and it sets a new standard for musicals. If you can, pick up Once for the weekend. You won’t regret it (but you may have a strong urge to grab a Guinness and then book a trip to Ireland - where the film takes place).

Written by Eric Olson

January 10th, 2008 at 11:44 pm

Posted in Movie Reviews

Movie Review: The Flying Scotsman

with one comment

Oh yes, this is another cycling movie. Hold up though. Don’t change that dial. How does this sound:

Man breaks the hour record (distance traveled in one hour of cycling) and wins the world cycling championship on a bike he designed and built partly from old washing machine parts.

Right, that sounds pretty silly and if this movie was fiction I would agree with you and there would have been no way I would have watched it (well, I probably would have watched it just because there were bikes in it). However, The Flying Scotsman is in fact the true story of Graeme Obree and it took place only in the mid 1990s so it is actually fairly recent.

While technically not an outstanding film I did enjoy the story and the racing scenes. This was a story I had only heard about here and there so it was nice to get the complete picture from of what had happened via the movie.

This story is not simply a “feel good” one though. Graeme suffered from brutal bouts with depression that caused him to attempt suicide once and drove him to push himself as hard as he did. Along with the depression Graeme suffered from he also had the UCI cycling officials to deal with who continually came up with new rules to bar his innovations from competition.

In fact, one piece of the story that struck a chord with me other than the cycling was that of Graeme’s innovations.

Graeme thought about cycling differently. He questioned why bikes were built with certain geometries and why riders positions on their bikes were the way they were. This lead him to design and build his own bike and to pioneer a number of different riding positions that he others behind him used to propel themselves to victory.

Unfortunately, every step of the way the UCI found ways to outlaw his innovations though even though they were completely reasonable. My views on the governing bodies of cycling, including the World Anti-Doping Agency, are a whole other post though.

The bottom line is that Graeme was and is an innovator and an entrepreneur in every sense of the word. His story is an inspiring one. Even if you aren’t into cycling I would recommend checking out this film for the simple reason that it will inspire you to keep doing what it is you do which, in a lot of cases, will be building your company.

If there is one thing we can learn from Graeme it is to keep questioning, keep innovating and to never say die.

Written by Eric Olson

October 22nd, 2007 at 10:18 pm

Posted in Movie Reviews

Movie Review: The Lives of Others

with 5 comments

The Lives of Others is a fantastic period piece and top notch character study rolled into one. I was incredibly impressed with this film because every piece of it, from the acting to the writing to the color palette, were executed at an incredibly high level. There is no wonder that this piece won the 2007 Oscar for Best Foreign Film.

From the first scene it is evident that writer/director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck did his homework. The sets, costumes and color palette were, by all accounts, spot on to the period. Even the dialog was looked over extensively by some of the actors and others who had actually lived in the GDR to ensure its accuracy.

Unlike other authentic period pieces that fall flat after the initial historical accuracy starts to lose its luster The Lives of Others continues on with a fantastic story.

In the former GDR people were regularly monitored to see if they were doing anything illegal or against the state. Artists, writers and the like were especially targeted. In The Lives of Others we follow a handful of artists and, in particular, one named Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch) and his girlfriend Christa-Maria Sieland (Martina Gedeck) a playwright and actress respectively.

These people are watched at every step of the way by Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Mühe) who sits in the attic day after day watching their lives unfold. However, Wiesler doesn’t know that he is about to change profoundly over the course of this monitoring assignment.

Wiesler, a career Stasi (GDR “police”) agent, lives a drab life devoid of any art and music but, through monitoring Dreyman and Sieland, he is exposed to great music, literature and discussion that leaves him wondering what he is doing with his life.

Donnersmarck could have easily had Wielser change quickly and haphazardly but he didn’t. He had Wiesler change slowly through a couple of small events. His changes were also brought to our attention through a number of small gestures. In The Lives of Others it really is the small things that make the difference which is very much like real life.

Over the course of the film Wiesler begins to help Dreyman without Dreyman’s knowledge and even though Dreyman is getting ready to publish a piece in a West Berlin magazine that would be damning to the GDR. I’ll leave it at that since I don’t want to spoil the film.

I honestly can’t say enough about this film. It is a must see and possibly one of the best films I have ever seen (and I have seen over 1000 or so - wow, that’s a lot - it’s almost embarrassing). They simply nailed everything from the smallest detail on the set to the complex interaction that is human existence. Well done.

Written by Eric Olson

October 9th, 2007 at 10:11 am

Posted in Movie Reviews

Movie Review: The Prestige

with 5 comments

The pledge. The turn. The prestige.

They are the three acts in which illusions take place and all three were expertly worked into the 2006 film The Prestige.

The Nolan brothers, who are also the duo behind Memento, are known for making films with many twists and turns that keep the viewer guessing until the very end and this one is no exception. What makes the twists and turns in The Prestige so interesting though is the amount of foreshadowing included in every bit of film.

The foreshadowing is done in such a way that the viewer is unconsciously aware of it. This is crucial because if one is fully aware of the foreshadowing the ending may not have been as thrilling.

The Nolan brothers also worked the three acts of illusion into the film many times. On the surface you have the three acts of the movie which correspond to the three acts of an illusion but once you get under the surface and start looking at the film a little closer you begin to see these three acts throughout.

Just like the foreshadowing in the film you are only somewhat conscious of the three acts continuously repeating. That said, the three acts do play a very important role. If they were not constantly embedded in the film the end product would not have been nearly as good.

While the writing, directing and concept of the film were top notch good acting is still needed to make the film complete. Lucky for us the actors were up to the challenge.

The lead actors, Chrisitian Bale and Hugh Jackman, turned in fantastic performances and were perfectly suited for their roles. Jackman, who plays Robert Angier, is the slicker magician who isn’t as dedicated to the craft but has the panache needed to entertain an audience. His character is a stark contrast to Alfred Borden, played by Christian Bale. Borden is far more dedicated to his craft but he lacks the showmanship needed to pull in large crowds.

The two start the film as colleagues but things slowly turn into a deadly battle for magic supremacy after a death on stage tears the two men apart.

I don’t want to say too much more about The Prestige because I do not want to ruin it for anyone but I will say that it is an intricate and well thought out puzzle. Without question it has to be one of the top 10 films of 2006. For those that end up watching the film, remember that each and every line is important to the plot (another reason why The Prestige is incredible). So, in the words of Alfred Borden, I ask you: Are you watching closely?

Written by Eric Olson

September 23rd, 2007 at 4:26 pm

Posted in Movie Reviews