Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol Lights A Fuse

December 20, 2011 at 10:02 am

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol Lights A Fuse | Review


J.J. Abrams‘ Mission Impossible 3 is by far my favorite in the series but I had high hopes that Ghost Protocol would raise the bar even higher for the franchise.  The truth is, this new installment does raises the bar on multiple levels but it also falls short in a pretty major way…

When Ethan Hunt says ‘Light the fuse’ and we are treated to a gorgeous opening sequence.  I was thrilled.  Brad Bird is an amazing director and you can tell immediately that he is right at home in a live action world.  From there we get tons of awesome action sequences and stunts that make this series great.  The entire sequence in Dubai is absolutely remarkable and especially brilliant on the IMAX screen.  When Ethan steps out to scale a giant skyscraper, you definitely feel like you’re over 100 stories in the air.  It’s pretty cool.

And then to follow it up with a sweet car chase in the middle of a vicious sand storm?  Not too mention a great prison escape in the opening act.  Well done Mr. Bird.

XTRA | Inside the Edit: Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol Trailer

The rest of the film is full of action and a couple twists I highly enjoyed.  Everyone on Hunt’s team fits in although I did miss Luther’s humor.  Thankfully, the film more than makes up it with Simon Pegg’s Benji who is in fine form once again here.  The big addition to the franchise is Jeremy Renner.  I thought they did an amazing job incorporating him into the story and making his character more than just a member of the team.

What I really loved about Ghost Protocol were the constant glitches in the team’s plan.  Literally, nothing goes right and they are constantly forced to improvise with the threat of nuclear war imminent.  In the past, Ethan would outline an impossible stunt involving an aerial leap of some kind and then we would watch it play out.  That worked in the previous 3 films but this time they are out of their element with no support.  It makes sense that their plans would be flawed.  I thought it was a great way to introduce the different stunts.


What I did NOT love about the film was the villain.  Part 3 brought us Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s brilliant Owen Davian.  Mr. Davian was ruthless and his battle with Ethan Hunt was as personal as it gets.

‘What’s his name?’ from this new movie is barely involved in the film.  He rarely speaks and is disconnected from the tale.  While his plot to start a war between the U.S and Russia is believable, movies like this are only as strong as the villain.  That is where Ghost Protocol fell short for me.

Perhaps I put too much pressure on the film to surpass moments when Davian screamed;

“You don’t think I’ll do it?!”

There is nothing like that in M:I4.  Nothing except a random middle aged man with superior fighting skills and ONE henchman who has little to do.  It’s sad but it doesn’t completely break the movie.  I just think it would have been better if I cared about the villain instead of trying to remember what his name was.  Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is a worthy addition to the franchise and a fun action movie.  It rarely slows down and looks gorgeous on the big screen.

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Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol Lights A Fuse | Review

Have You Got ‘Change For A Dollar’?

December 20, 2011 at 10:02 am

Have You Got 'Change For A Dollar'? | Change For A Dollar Short Film


I thought this was a fantastic and emotional short film.

Is he asking for Change, or is he asking for CHANGE?  Follow a man as he affects multiple peoples’ lives with just one dollar, proving that it doesn’t take much to be the change in someone’s life.

This thought provoking short has nearly a million hits on YouTube and rising.  Check it out if you haven’t seen it yet.

For more from Sharon Wright head over to www.shesalwayswright.com.

Art of the Guillotine: Creating A Film Editing Community

December 19, 2011 at 9:11 am

Art of the Guillotine: Creating A Film Editing Community


Gordon Burkell is passionate about editing.  So much so that it led to the creation of aotg.com.  A website dedicated to editing techniques, theory, tutorials and more.  Since I discovered Art of the Guillotine, it’s been a staple in my daily surfing routine. 

With the launch of their all new iPhone App, the site has once again evolved as a true destination for people who love to edit.  I recently had the chance to talk to Gordon about what inspired the site, how it has evolved over the years and what’s next for Art of the Guillotine.

Art of the guillotine editing resources

When did you first become interested in Post Production?

I actually started on set as a boom operator and after many late night shoots in Canada’s cold winter months, standing around waiting for everything to get perfectly set up I realized the set is a very boring place to be. I then met Joe Serafini, who ran Crunch Recording Group at the time and he allowed me to come on as a young apprentice and learn from his post sound guys. But it wasn’t until I met Alan Collins, who had worked with David Cronenberg and Roger Corman that I began to fall in love with post production but more specifically film editing.

Alan was originally from the England and he had a love for cultural theorist like Roland Barthes. He also was really interested in editing theory and he made me see film and post production very differently. When he began to direct I began to cut his films and it’s because of him I’m in editing.

What does being an editor mean to you?

For me, I see editors as artists and storytellers as well as complex problem solvers. I’ll never forget being handed a 100 hours of documentary footage from a director who had no idea if there was even a story. We spent countless hours molding the documentary. It was like someone dropped a vase and it shattered into a million pieces and I was required to place it back together perfectly, I knew it could be done, it would just take time and patience and of course a steady hand.

For those who haven’t visited yet what is Art of the Guillotine?

Art of the Guillotine is a site that aggregates, organizes and disseminates information about film editing for film editors, students and academics. Using our systems and our new mobile apps one can choose the type of editing news they want and have it appear in their user accounts. So if you are an academic and you want only theoretical articles and submissions, that is what will appear in your account. If you are an editor and only want industry news, not blogs and tutorials, then you can choose that. The site caters to your interests and your needs!

Recently we’ve also begun to branch out, with the success of Art of the Guillotine, we acquired the domain aotg.com and have begun transferring things over to this new site, of course you can still access the site through artoftheguillotine.com. With this branch out we also purchased trimbin.com a site that is still young and just starting but is not just editing specific, it allows anyone in the industry to submit film related content and then users can vote on the best submissions which move to the top.

We also have Postchat on twitter each week so people can discuss post production from various angles. This is a Twitter based meet up spot that allows people to discuss things, people wanting to take part can simply search twitter for @postchat. Also, they can check out postchat.wordpress.com although that will be changing to postchat.aotg.com very soon.

Art of the Guillotine: Creating A Film Editing Community

What inspired Art of the Guillotine?

I do a lot of documentary editing and was asked by the local university to come give a talk about it. Of course, I showed some work, discussed some basics but then, as I am the product of working with Alan, I began discussing theoretical ideas and how they applied to my work. For example creating a circular structure for a documentary about Native Canadian culture, circular narratives are a fixture in Native Canadian storytelling.

At the end the students wanted to know where they could find more about this on the internet. I had no idea. So I decided to start a paper list of links. Any time I went to a school to talk I would hand out this list. Well, the list got so lengthy that it encouraged me to teach myself HTML, CSS and Javascript and create a very basic and ugly site (It was two shades of brown and white) so that students could easily access it. I wanted the name to mean something to the older editors who might find it, the ones like Alan who inspired me. So I adopted the name Art of the Guillotine.

When that site started to get out of hand, aotg’s current developer/programmer, Richard Munro came on board and we’ve been building ever since, always improving. We work late nights and cut during the day.

What steps did you take to gain an audience initially?

Initially, we just contacted a few schools in the area and sent the list and visited industry events to spread the word. It hasn’t been a speedy process, we’ve simply let people know and slowly built upon it.

Building a greater audience requires constant evolution. How has AOTG evolved since it’s inception?

It has evolved dramatically . We started as paper, then basic HTML, then database driven and as of November 2011, we now have our enhanced mobile app. But as I mentioned before, we’ve done this on our off hours over a long stretch of time. It’s taken many years to get to where we are and it always means a lot to me when I get emails from editors and students thanking us for the site. At the moment we have over 10,000 articles, videos, audio and more! All at the finger tips of the user. Students can easily search our database to get information.

In fact, I received the greatest compliment from a PhD student who was writing her dissertation on current editors’ techniques. Her work didn’t have much to go on aside from articles found in just a few books but not many publishers release books with interviews anymore. She told me my site, with our podcast interviews and the Association Video Series involving the American Cinema Editors, the Canadian Cinema Editors and the Australian Screen Editors became key in her research.

I got so excited to think that we are now a reference point for thought and we could be seen as a resource established and credible enough to be used in academic research. This was always a goal and now it has come to fruition!

You’ve created an amazing community around your site. How have you used social media tools to your advantage?

Twitter and FaceBook are a must and if you really search MySpace you might find us, although I don’t update that one anymore. We just launched a Youtube channel and use ustream.tv for our live events.

I have to admit though, I wish I could tweet and chat more on twitter. I try to but then I get so busy that I forget to answer a tweet for a day or so and I feel so badly about it. I enjoy chatting with everyone on twitter so much but in chaotic editing rooms it isn’t in the forethought of my mind.

Talk a bit about the inspiration behind your new mobile app and the development process?

The inspiration was really the students again, I now teach editing at universities and the students are mobile and I wanted to make sure they could access us in a visually engaging way! I also use an iPad a lot in the cutting room and wanted to be able to engage in my site and its content. As well, I wanted to get the ACE, CCE and ASE videos in people’s hands. Now you can listen to us interview the top editors, watch the top editors, find events and get your news all on your phone or tablet. We currently are only on the iPhone and iPad but we are launching an Android version in January.

Art of the Guillotine: Creating A Film Editing Community

What are your goals for AOTG in the future?

The goal is to follow our initial goal, create a space to aggregate, organize and disseminate film editing information. Information should be as easy to access as possible. So we are working to make it so. We have some big announcements coming in 2012 so continue visiting for more exciting updates and news!

What is next for you?

For myself, I continue to work on AOTG.com, it’s my passion. I love editing but even more I love helping out editors! It is so rewarding to have students come to me with questions and being able to say “here’s a group of videos you should watch” or “read up on this theoretical perspective”. This is so much more than I had when I was in their position!

I am working on a small hundred page book on film editing techniques/theories that most publishers are scared of, so if I can’t find a publisher brave enough to publish it I plan to code it into a eBook and provide it on aotg.com.

What is your favorite film from an editing perspective?

Tough but fair question! I do have several and it usually comes from different editing perspectives. So for example, action scenes is one film, love scenes another, dialogue another. I will say with no word of a lie that the movie I’ve seen most in my life is Battleship Potemkin, I’ve seen several different cuts and love the film. Originally I hated it and it wasn’t until I rewatched it and rewatched it to help teach myself Eisenstein’s theories that I began to respect it and eventually love the work.

However, one movie that always moves me is The Hours. It’s a tough film to watch from an emotional perspective but the scene in which Leonard Woolf and Virginia Woolf are at the train station arguing about going back to London is quite possibly one of the best edited dialogue scenes I’ve ever scene. Of course, as I point out to students it is a team effort. The director did a phenomenal job with the actors and the angles and camera shots are fantastic. As is the cinematography and screenwriting.

On a side note, my favorite guilty pleasure film is the original Planet of the Apes. What a great film, and for some reason, CityTV here in Toronto, has a huge window on it and they show it all the time.

Special thanks to Gordon Burkell for the interview.

Be sure to check out Art of the Guilloting at www.aotg.com.  Download the mobile app here.

Follow on Twitter @artguillotine

Why HUGO To The Movies

December 16, 2011 at 10:58 pm

Why HUGO To The Movies | Hugo Movie Review 2011


That term also happens to be a term associated with Georges Melier.  A filmmaking pioneer…

I have a confession to make.  While I’m a passionate fan of film, I’m quite far from a film historian.  There are so many classics out there that I have yet to see.  And so I must confess that until I saw Hugo, I had never thought to seek out La Voyage Dans La Lune.  Having said that, the second I got home from the theater, I went straight to YouTube and found it:

Hugo is a brilliant film about an orphan boy who spends his days tending the clocks in a Paris train station.  At night, every ounce of the boy’s effort is poured into fixing an old automaton he believes carries a message from his father.  His journey leads him to Georges Melier, who has long since abandoned his legendary filmmaking career.  Now running a toy shop in the train station, Melier is a broken man who feels his life’s work was for nothing.  Together they learn that everyone has a purpose and things that are broken can be fixed.

Why HUGO To The Movies | Hugo Movie Review 2011

The story itself is fantastic but what resonated with me was a scene in the middle of the film.  Hugo tells the story of his father’s first experience at the movies and how La Voyage Dans La Lune was like nothing he had every seen before.  It got me thinking about my own experiences with movies and how they’ve inspired me.

Like I said, I’m no film historian, so I don’t think of Georges Melier when I think about my special movie memories.  When I go back to my childhood, I think about artists like Walt Disney and Steven Spielberg.  I think about Alladin and E.T.  I think about Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Robin Hood, The Neverending Story, The Sandlot and more…  When I began watching movies on my own, I discovered my own cinemagician in Martin Scorsese.  Goodfellas, Casino, Gangs of New York, The Departed, Cape Fear, The Aviator…  Someday, I’ll be the one with the shocked expression when someone says they’ve never seen a Scorsese picture. I’ll be the one talking about the classics I grew up with much like the film buffs out there with a soft spot for Melier.

“Movies are where your dreams come from.”

While watching Hugo, I thought a lot about what it was like to experience some of my favorite films for the first time.  I’ve been in love with the movies since I was a boy and that will never change.  But I don’t take enough time to truly appreciate the work that goes into the stories I adore.  I love the idea that someone’s passion and dedication can have a profound impact on my life without them ever knowing it.  I connect to their life’s work on a deep and personal level and there is no better fuel in my own filmmaking pursuits.

My experience with Hugo went far beyond a 2 hour movie about a young boy’s journey to find his place in the world.  It eclipsed the care Mr. Scorsese put into this wonderful love letter to the cinema.  For me, I connected to Hugo as a young boy who watched a movie, rewound the tape and watched it again without hesitation.  A boy who regularly circled listings in the TV guide and crammed 2 or 3 movies on every VHS tape within reach.  That was the birth of my obsession with movies.

Any film that reminds me of that time in my life is okay in my books.


10 Awesome Action Movie Trailers

December 15, 2011 at 10:10 am

Top 10 Action Movie Trailers | Movie Blog

It’s the middle of winter.  The biggest action movies of 2012 are still months away.  So here are 10 awesome action movie trailers to help.  (Note: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen wasn’t the greatest movie of all time but that trailer kicks ass.)

The Bourne Identity



True Lies

Bad Boys 2

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

XTRA | Inside the Edit: Mission Impossible 4 Trailer


Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

The Matrix Reloaded

The Dark Knight

What’s your favorite action movie trailer?