Twitchy Says...

Film Critic, Indie Filmmaker, General Film/Art/Life Discussion

Now Playing... G.I. Joe

Published by Benjamin 'Twitchy' Strack under on Saturday, August 22, 2009
In the mood for a good action flick? Well Joe brings it to you.
Now, if all you want is action, you may get a little bored in the middle. If you enjoy more, then there's a treat for you. The movie makes a fair attempt to make the characters 3-dimentional with lots of individual backstories and flashbacks. Unfortunately, the story and characters never made it past the plasticity of its namesake.
Not a bad movie, reminiscent of the original XXX movie. If you're interested in some good, solid action and some genuine mindless entertainment, the G.I. Joe just might be the movie for you.

A Tale of Two Cities

Published by Benjamin 'Twitchy' Strack under on Wednesday, July 01, 2009
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

Hey all. Sorry I've been MIA for so long now. Without any further adieu, I'm glad to let you all know that I got the job at FOX17. Been there almost 3 months now. Started on prompter, now running camera 3 most of the time. Its a lot of fun, but I'm still looking for a daytime job to help with bills.

The title of this post is referencing that I've been living half in GR, half in Kzoo for 3 months now. My lease is up end of july, so this will be behind me soon.

Since now I can blog on my new phone, I'm hoping to do more (albeit shorter) posts about what I'm watching and such. I'll also try to catch up soon with some of the better things I've seen in the past few months.

Until next time...


Published by Benjamin 'Twitchy' Strack under , , , on Sunday, March 29, 2009
So my term as President of the chapter is complete, so I now have significantly more time. Friday morning, I had a really great interview with the Director of Operations for WXMI Fox 17 in Grand Rapids. I felt the interview went very well, although there was an equipment test during it which I felt I was not properly prepared for. The position is an 'Operations Technician', and to start I'll only be getting 12ish hours a week, spread across 4 shifts. They would primarily be night shifts from 9pm-12 or so. I find out on Wednesday if I get the position or not.

My close friend and fellow filmmaker Chris Spenceley are trying to start working together on some projects. The foremost is helping him complete his feature length light-saber film, For Knowledge and Defense. There'll be a new trailer of it on youtube soon that I recently helped him edit. We're also going to try and put together a few more short films in the next few months and into the summer.

I'm also submitting my own short film, Static, to the Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts, so we'll see how that goes.

What I'm Watching
Randomly, the Rocketeer was on TV tonight, which makes meet very excited. It is by far one of my favorite movies from my childhood, right next to Hook. And watching it now with a background in filmmaking, its still a pretty good flick. No surprise really after looking up the director Joe Johnston. He directed Jumanji, October Sky, and Hildalgo, all of which are movies I enjoy. Its also been announced that he'll be directing the First Avenger: Captain America supposedly starring John Cena to come out in 2011. All that aside, if you've never seen the Rocketeer, check it out. And if you have seen it, go catch it again.

The other big deal thats happened in the past few weeks is the series finale of Battlestar Galactica. This show has meant much to me for a long time. The mini-series premere started in December of my senior year of highschool, and I've watched it religiously ever since. All that being said, its ended in the most tragic, epic, mind-blowing way I ever could have imagined. My one spoiler is that Apollo and Starbuck don't end up together, and that makes me incredibly heart-broken. I've been waiting for 5 years to see them end up together, and they just walk away from each other. Everything else was beautiful and poetically appropriate. There's a few random episodes in the middle seasons, but other than that, watch the entire series, and enjoy the most beautiful ending to a television series that I have ever witnessed.


Published by Benjamin 'Twitchy' Strack under , , on Friday, March 13, 2009
I've had a good week of movie watching and job searching. Rumor has it that Woodtv8 in Grand Rapids gave 'early retirement' packages to 30 of their technical crew in order to hire younger personnel. Needless to say they're getting a copy of my resume ASAP. My dad has a contact at Fox17 in GR, so he's getting my resume directly. Supposedly they cycle through cameramen every 3-6 weeks. Hopefully that doesn't mean they're terrible to work for.

Theres a film crewing up in GR as well, for a feature called Genesis Code. I googled it and came up with a Sci-Fi movie from a couple years ago(completely different). Apparently this is a film about a hockey player questioning his faith. It is a 8-9 million dollar movie, so thats a pretty high budget for something being shot here. Problem is, no matter my skill level, you generally can't be paid on feature until you have a crew credit on a feature, meaning I'd have to volunteer.

from Dragonriders of Pern is coming along. I've been reading it all week and making mental notes on a structure for a screenplay. I feel that I have a few good ideas on how to make it exciting on a screen and yet very true to the book. After I finish, I'll re-read at least one more time and take specific notes as I write the movie synopsis.

What I'm Watching
I watched The Gameplan this week, and it was... well, livable. The saddest part was I felt that the little girl acted better than Duane 'the Rock' Johnson. I guess I can put up with it reminding myself that its a kid's movie.

I saw Rachel Getting Married tonight, and have to admit I really enjoyed it. It was a very good independent film. A big mental movie about how people people interact and observe and judge others, even within their own family. If you can find it, see it.

I saw Taken at the end of last week, and absolutely loved it. Liam Neeson is simply brilliant. It was kind of like a more mature movie out of the Bourne series. It did not have the shakey camera of the Bourne series, and was therefore much easier to stomach. They also didn't try to play Neeson off as some super-man. He had great training, but was getting old, and had bits of trouble during fights, usually walking out with at least some small injury. A great portion was also shot river-side in Paris, which I can only imagine would have been a producer's nightmare (especially with the car chase). Overall, amazing film and I loved every minute of it.

Spring Break for Some

Published by Benjamin 'Twitchy' Strack under , on Friday, March 06, 2009

Western's spring break was this week. Since I'm no longer a student, that means nothing to me, although I'm enjoying a brief respite from the fraternity.

People do so many different versions of Mass. What if Mass, and the text and meaning behind each movement, were put into a story in film? Hmmm... I'm going to toy with this further.

Coming Up
I've been asked to come into a local school to talk to kids about filmmaking and screenwriting. I need to go through some of my work as well as some famous movies/scripts to show the kids real-world examples of screenplay translated onto the big screen.

What I'm Watching
Seen a few movies this week for the first time. Enchanted, which was actually much better than I expected it to be. Meet the Robinsons, which was also much better than I expected it to be, and actually did good young-age time travel stuff that I think kids would like without frying their brains (Back to the Future II anyone?). Waterhorse: Legend of the Deep was not a Eragon rip-off as it seemed, and actually didn't make me never want to watch movies again...

And after all those youngster-esque movies, last night for three hours in the theatre, I sat through Watchmen.

Loads of fun. Got the comic-book feel without the chunkyness of Sin City. Lots of violence, lots of blood, a fair amount of sex, and and this-is-just-barely-R amount of nudity. If you're one who can stomache all that and enjoys dark alternate world superheroes, then this movie is for you. Most all-around entertaining movie I've seen in a while. Rumor has it, the DVD will include a FULL HOUR of deleted scenes. Crazy.

'Til next time...

Back into Blogging

Published by Benjamin 'Twitchy' Strack under , , on Wednesday, February 25, 2009
This past summer I feel like I tried creating this blog and making it much too specific. As such, I failed when my schedule got tough and I no longer cared to devote the time to reviewing movies. So I figured I'd simplify it some. This blog is now where I can talk about my projects, my job endeavors, things I've found, movies I've seen, etc.

So the job hunt has not been going well. During the month of March, I will be expanding my search to Grand Rapids as well as Kalamazoo, and also be looking into being a cameraman for one of the news channels. For those of you who know me, you know I despise news production. So this is quite a reach for me to do so.

My Projects
The fraternity's national headquarters has asked me (and several others) to make some short videos to drum up interest in going to national convention this summer. I of course can't make a simple video, so I have a few ideas on how to spice up the simple demand.

I've had this idea on the backburner for a while. In the fraternity, we have a long, meaningful discussion that we call "To me to be a Sinfonian...", and I've been thinking for a while about turning it into a documentary. It would chronicle what being in this fraternity means to its members of different ages, backgrounds, walks of life, career paths, all the things that separate us; and all the things that bring us together.

I haven't delved into it yet, but I'm also hoping to practice my screenwriting skills by writing feature-length screenplays for the books in both the Dragonriders of Pern series, and the Sword of Truth series. This of course means I need to re-read the books a few times, which of course means a LOT of time.

I had an interesting idea to stir up my original feature-length screenplay I wrote last summer. It would make it more exciting, interesting, and structured. Its very... different. I'm sure I'll reveal the idea soon enough, but if you want to know, contact me personally.

What I'm Watching
I've really been into streaming stuff on Netflix for the past week or so. Some TV shows I've been into include NCIS, which is simply brilliant, and Moonlight, which is one of the best written vampire shows I've ever seen. It brings you into this very different world of vampires, and keeps hold of you by focusing on good story and not vamp shenanigans. Moonlight was cancelled last spring from CBS after 16 episodes, another fallen gem in the aftermath of the writers strike. Also seen the first two episodes of Dollhouse, and feel thusfar a bit letdown by our friend Joss Whedon.

In movies this week, I've watched Smart People, very entertaining. A few awful movies not worth mentioning. Saw Deja Vu which, other than having Val Kilmer in it, was very well done. Favorite movie for this week though has to be The Man from Earth. I never thought I'd sit through a movie that takes place in one room, not even any flashbacks. Purely dialogue, it keeps you interested for its entire hour and a half run. Here's to you, The Man from Earth!

Movie of the Week for 8/1/08-8/7/08

Published by Benjamin 'Twitchy' Strack under on Monday, August 11, 2008
Sorry about the tardiness...

Caught a few movies this week, some good. P.S. I Love You and The Count of Monte Cristo both came on Netflix and were both amazingly good.

I bought Stargate: Continuum, the Stargate movie thats supposed to end the series. It was kind of a let down... no big battles, no real big twists... they just kind of re-hashed several television episodes.

Saw The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. Hated it. It looked like it was rushed through post-production, as the digital effects were not good. Thumbs down.

And for the movie of the week:
Cashback. Neat little British film. Warning: do not watch if you're put off by female nudity. It was all relatively artistic, but still abundant. The main character is in love with the female body, and sketches nude women often. The interesting thing is he learns, through insomnia, how to stop time. So he stops time and wanders around people. Its a neat idea, and all of this are just aspects wrapping around a central traditional love story. Definitely a movie worth checking out.

Until next week! (or hopefully Thursday)

Movie of the Week for 7/25/08-7/31/08

Published by Benjamin 'Twitchy' Strack under on Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Greetings all!

So this week, in fact, I have seen very few movies, as I've picked up the 'Sword of Truth' series of books which has absorbed my time and my life.

In television, the highly anticipated season finale of Dr. Who is this Friday on Sci-Fi, and any who love the series should definitely check it out. Its the 2nd half of a 2 part episode, so be sure to watch the first somewhere. is a site with occasional problems, but overall seems to work the best. It also displays shows ahead of time, so I can personally tell you that this season finale is outstanding.

Also, Sam Raimi has signed on as the director for a mini-series/ possible TV series of the Sword of Truth series, currently slated to air sometime this November/December.

In movies, many trailers have come forth in the past two weeks that I feel are of particular interest. The first being for the new Terminator movie staring Christian Bale, not starring Arnold. (YAY! Maybe he can focus on taking care of his state now.) Another is for Watchmen, based on a critically acclaimed graphic novel by the same name. Those I know who have read Watchmen seem extremely exited. Finally, the trailer for X-Men Origins: Wolverine aired at the Comic-con recently, and has been met with great excitement. Personally, I don't know how I feel about it, with X-Men Origins: Magneto already slated into pre-production, and following the atrocious failure of X-Men III. Also, with the huge line-up of movies in preparation for the Avengers film slated to premier summer of '11, I simply wonder how many super-heroes the audiences will be able to stand in the coming years. Speaking of the Avengers, John Sena? Captain America? Really? I guess they could do worse.

One extra movie I did catch this week and thoroughly did not enjoy was Babel. I'm ok with long, slow movies that easily get you personally involved, such as Contact, but this was a long, slow movie that I just couldn't seem to care about. It never really maintained my interest and left me wishing I had gone to bed earlier. Which leads me to my pick of the week:

*drumroll please*

The first Movie of the Week is...

of course, The Dark Knight. Many have said this is one of the greatest movies ever. I firmly disagree. With a run-on storyline and A.D.D. (or is everything now supposed to be declared A.D.H.D? I don't remember) scene lengths, you walk out of the theatre with a re-aligned attention span of an 8 year-old. Christian Bale's performance was a let-down compared to Batman Begins, and would have been greatly saved had he stopped gasping for breathe so often and not constantly spoken through his teeth. So you may ask then, why is the the pick of the week? Perfect performances by Aaron Eckhartand of course, Heath Ledger. Its in true Batman fashion of old that the saving grace for this movie was, in fact, the villains. Eckhart's portrayal of Harvey Dent left you understanding what could make a person be pushed to such lengths as to turn into the villain. And Ledger came through in the greatest performance of his career, making your blood crawl as the Joker. I'm a firm believer that he should be awarded and Oscar Posthumously, just as he certainly should have won it were he still alive.

Thats all for this week, stay tuned for the next installment of 'Movie of the Week'

Home of the Brave

Published by Benjamin 'Twitchy' Strack under on Thursday, May 22, 2008
Story - 2.0
Beautiful, brutal, heartfelt. It pushed you to personally understand post-traumatic stress disorder and gain appreciation for our soldiers in the Middle-East.
Cinematography - 1.6
Only superb cinematography is found in the honest realism of battle and the memories of the soldiers. The realism of battle isn't strictly found in 'shaky-cam' style so much as just the quality and speed of action as well as the following of specific characters. Long, slow, 40% opacity shots while soldiers recount their experiences are insightful and impacting.
Acting - 1.8
All actors seemed to really grasp the gravity of what was going on. The main talent, including Samuel Jackson, Jessica Biel, and 50 Cent, all had me worried in the beginning. They all pulled through and gave what I perceived as some of the most meaningful performances of their life
Overall Effect - 3.5
Probably one of the most deeply moving movies I've seen in a long time. Truly leaves you wanting to reach out to all of our soldiers more than ever.

Total Score:
8.9 out of 10

Recommended if looking for: Military, War on Terror, Post-traumatic stress.

In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale

Published by Benjamin 'Twitchy' Strack under on Sunday, May 18, 2008
Story - 1.9
Complex, multi-leveled. Just like a good fantasy book.
Cinematography - 1.9
Simply Beautiful. Stunning CGI works, especially for a smaller-budget film. Great shots, great coloring. Final army battle is akin to Helm's Deep from LoTR:TT.
Acting - 1.8
HUGE list of actors, mostly 'B' actors, a few 'A' list. Throughout the talent, the weak point is played by Matthew Lillard, who still maintains a mediocre quality of acting.
Overall Effect - 3.9
Great movie. Fun, exciting. If you love fantasy or LoTR, its on that scale without being a knock-off. Story follows Jason Stathom, but he is far from the only lead character.

Total Score:
9.5 out of 10

Recommended if looking for: Fantasy, Action, Epic Battles, LoTR-style movies.