Movie vectors.

I've devised a more enjoyable way to rate movies: The Movie Vector.


My 100 favourite films. Entry #38: The Conversation.

The Conversation (1974)
directed by Francis Ford Coppola
starring Gene Hackman, John Cazale, Frederic Forrest and Harrison Ford
country: USA
genre: Drama

Visuals: 7
Writing: 8
Everyday watchability: 6

I hear people say this all the time: "they don't make them like they used to." They say it about all sorts of things: cars; films; tacos. And it's both completely untrue and completely correct. In the sense that they don't make quality products, it's not true. The movies are as good (or as bad as they used to be). In the sense that they don't make them in the same style that they used to, then it's obviously completely true. Let's put aside for the moment that styles change, tastes change and technology changes (all of which are important factors in the making of The Conversation). "They don't make 'em like they used to" goes deeper than all that. It exists in a place beyond style. Its style and structure is completely informed by its content, full of long shots, murky cutting.and slow builds We only see from a distance, literally and figuratively. Only parts of the story,are revealed, about both happenings and characters. It's a subtly-made movie that's worth watching every decade, as we make more and more ways to pry into private lives, but the fear stays the same.


Movies I've watched recently…


Langhorne Slim & the Law.

It's been a long time dear readers and viewers, so I hope this doesn't disappoint. It's my latest poster for a New Year's Eve show at the Bagdad. I made the background wallpaper myself. As a bonus, I've included a desktop background for your computer to get you in the spirit of the New Year. There's a bright version and a dingy version for those who prefer the more textured look.


The History of Punk.

Here's the last of the posters I did for School of Rock. It originally featured full faces, but I eventually realized that most of the images held more power without them. The style of The Ramones, Henry Rollins' angry energy and Iggy Pop's crowd-supported legs said more about the history of punk than their faces.


Ferris Bueller's Day Off

A few weeks ago, I had an idea. That idea was to make movie posters. There are a number of movie houses in town that show older movies, and I want to make new posters for them. The Laurelhurst for example, focuses on a single genre/era every month; I think it would be great to do a handful of posters in a similar style so that they have a cohesive way of advertising their films. Then I would approach them with the posters and, hopefully, get free advertising for my business. For starters, I made this poster for Ferris Bueller's Day Off. I haven't shown it to the theater (they're not even showing it anymore), but I've got time to make more and maybe show them a crop of posters.


Elton John.

I had a lot of fun with this poster for the Elton John show. His ridiculous choice of eyewear seemed like the perfect thing to represent Elton on the poster.


Devil signs and lighters.

Here are two more posters I made for School of Rock. I took the "vs" concept as far as I could with these.


Modern Prog.

I'm back, y'all! And here's a poster I made for a concert put on by School of Rock. My friend Danielle works there and hooked me up with the chance to make some fun posters for them. This show features "modern prog" bands, which includes "mathy, complex and boundary pushing" music. Stay tuned for more posters soon!


The BoDeans.


Paper paper.

The theme for posters this past week was apparently "paper," because here are two posters I did that were strongly influenced by that.


The Tillicum sign.

While working at Postal Annex, I was asked if we did photo editing. I said, "no, but I can." That led to me doing this, and then making some connections with someone in the graphic design industry. It pays to say, "I can do that." Here's the before and after.


Game Over, Man.

Dudes, remember this? Well now it's this.

This timeline breaks down every death in the Alien saga (excluding Alien: Resurrection because it's total balls) based on how far into the film it happens.

This smaller one simplifies it down to just the deaths without all the text. I think it's interesting to see how the different movies are formatted.

Movie clips UPDATED!

So I've been doing this "Movie Clips" thing for a while where I give short short short reviews of the movies I've watched recently. I decided to go with a new format this time. At the top are a number of different categories. It starts with a general rating, telling you whether you should watch the movie, maybe give it a go, or just give it a miss altogether. The other four categories tell you what kind of movie it is: boring; weird; funny or sad. Note that a movie can be decent but boring. Withnail and I for example isn't a bad movie, but I personally didn't find it all that interesting. Movies marked as bad and funny are probably no intentionally funny, but are hilariously bad, such as Trancers II: The Return of Jack Deth.


Plan B.

Yet more poster work for the Crystal Ballroom. For this job, they had an admat (top image) that I could use as much or as little as I liked. I thought the image was great, so I used that, but did the rest from scratch.

type: museo sans

How to ship.

I wasn't feeling so well this morning, specifically a sore throat. My job has me shipping things all over the country (and world). I wondered what I would do if I couldn't talk; how would I help customers figure out what mailing service they needed? I thought a flowchart might work pretty well, so I made one. Simply answer the questions, and look for the corresponding color at the bottom to choose your service.


Phosphorescent, Fruition and The Bellboys.

McMenamins asked me to make two more posters, this time for their historic Mission Theater. Phosphorescent is an alt-country band that's originally from Athens, Georgia but has since relocated to Brooklyn, so I wanted a metro-meets-country feel. Fruition and Bellboys are folksy country bands (Fruition have even been known to busk) so I went with a hobo aesthetic, classing it up with some fun flourishes.

typefaces used:
Phosphorescent: Sans Black, Boris Black Boxx, Museo Sans
Fruition and The Bellboys: Alexandria

Less: four images of minimal poster design.

I found this minimalist group on Behance (a site for creative professionals looking to showcase their work) that was making minimalist posters for classic works. There's some really great stuff going on there. Here are just a few samples.


My 100 Favorite Films. Entry #37: Children of Men.

Children of Men (2006)
written by Alfonso Cuarón & Timothy J. Sexton and David Arata and Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby
(based on the novel "The Children of Men" by P.D. James)
directed by Alfonso Cuarón
starring Clive Owen, Michael Caine, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Caine
country: usa/uk
genre: drama/sci-fi

Visuals: 10
Writing: 8
Everyday watchability: 5

There is a term which directly applies to film-making called persistence of vision. It is the idea that after we see an image, its memory persists for roughly 1/25th of a second. It is how we can watch a film at 24 frames per second and see things in motion and not a series of still images.

I have a second definition for the term as it applies to film-making: the unwavering focus involved in telling a story in its proper idiomatic way. I have just finished watching Into the Wild, an interesting film, but nevertheless a film that has not found its voice. It uses storytelling modes at will, and too many to count, with director Sean Penn almost grasping at straws—albeit well-shot, craftsmanlike straws—for a way to tell his story. Children of Men doesn't need this. The film is so focused and organized that it doesn't for a moment falter in its construction. Every moment leads us through, informs us and pulls us deeper.

I could say a number of things about this film and why it's so amazing, but at this point I doubt I could say anything new. What I truly love about it is its focused ambition to tell the story right.


Galactic type.

After making some type for my latest poster, I thought (perhaps incorrectly) that it might be fun to make an entire alphabet of characters based on that type. The idea was that each letter must be made from a single ribbon. Some letters were easier than others; F, T, X, Y and Z were probably the trickiest. I also made some alternates, some of which use more than one piece of ribbon.


two-color alternate



Watching the greats.

I've seen a lot of movies. To be specific, I've seen 1,985 feature films, 59 TV movies, 64 documentaries, 96 short films and 22 straight-to-video films (a total of 2,226 titles). On November 10, I decided to make an effort to see "great" films. There's a billion lists I could go by for this, but I chose to go by three.

The first was the IMDb Top 250. If fanboys made a list of the best movies of all-time, it would probably look a lot like this. I wanted to see movies that were loved by the movie-loving public and this seemed the appropriate way to do that.

The second list is the 83 winners of the Academy Award for Best Picture. These are the movies that those in the movie-making business love, at least in the January of the year after they come out.

The last list is the Criterion Collection, which is a collection of "important classic and contemporary films" chosen by true movie buffs. This list would give me the arthouse and lesser-known films, but also classics that don't make it on the other lists.

When I started, I had seen:
  • 114 of 491 Criterion Collection titles (23.2%)
  • 62 of the 83 Best Picture winners (74.7%)
  • 233 of the IMDb Top 250 films (93.2%)

My goal is this:
  • to watch 50% of the Criterion Collection films (132 films)
  • to watch all of the best picture winners (21 films)
  • watch all of the Top 250 (17 films)

As of today, January 4, I have seen:
  • Criterion: 141/559 (25.2%) (since the collection's grown, I still need to watch 138 movies to get to 50%)
  • Best Picture winners: 66/83 (79.5%)
  • Top 250: 235/250 (94%)

I still have some work to do, but I'm making headway.


Movie clip roundup 2010.

This is a list of movies I watched for the first time between July 2010 and December 2010,  roughly ranked in order of best to worst.

  1. Moon
  2. Close-Up
  3. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
  4. Greenberg
  5. Bullitt
  6. Kramer vs. Kramer
  7. Gomorra
  8. Inception
  9. Let the Right One In
  10. Welcome to the Dollhouse
  11. Never Let Me Go 
  12. District 9
  13. The Lonely Guy 
  14. Zombieland
  15. Toy Story 3
  16. Gilda
  17. Caché
  18. Fat Girl 
  19. Slumdog Millionaire
  20. Youth in Revolt 
  21. Syriana
  22. Dead Calm 
  23. Hot Tub Time Machine
  24. The Princess and the Frog
  25. A Generation
  26. Downhill Racer 
  27. Enter the Void
  28. Going My Way
  29. Fanny & Alexander
  30. Frankenhooker
  31. Mr. Arkadin (The Comprehensive Version) 
  32. Bachelor Party
  33. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull 
  34. Cat Ballou 
  35. Terms of Endearment
  36. Gran Torino
  37. The Honeymoon Killers
  38. Highlander
  39. Nine to Five
  40. Android
  41. 10
  42. Fred Claus
  43. Alphaville
  44. 2012 
  45. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension
  46. House
  47. Ginger Snaps
  48. Je, tu, il, elle (I, You, He She)
  49. The 50 Worst Movies Ever Made
  50. Swamp Thing
  51. The Vampire Effect 
  52. The Devil's Hand
  53. 18-Year-Old Virgin
  54. Vicious Lips
  55. Highlander II 
  56. Blood Freak
  57. Ultraviolet


Here's the poster I did for Galactic, a New Orleans funk band. I don't actually know if they use both those instruments, but they seem stylistically appropriate. I made the type for "Galactic" myself. I used the wallpaper look from the holiday posters because it seemed to fit the New Orleans aesthetic.

typefaces used: hand-rendered header, Century Gothic, Didot