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    • George Lucas weighs in on The Last Jedi!

      1 day ago

      ericvespe

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      If you watched the spoiler-free video of Ashley, Jon and myself talking about The Last Jedi I brought up the question "Do you think George Lucas would like this movie?" My gut was telling me he just might because if there's one thing Lucas respects it's a singular vision and love or hate The Last Jedi it's clearly not a movie made by committee. 


      Lucas may respect the auteur but remember singular vision or no this is still someone else playing in his sandbox. He made a ton of money selling Star Wars to Disney, but he's an artist at heart and it's gotta sting seeing someone else play with his universe. 


      Well, we don't have to guess anymore. Lucas has seen the movie and, according to The Hollywood Reporter, is a fan. He called the movie "beautifully made" and was highly complimentary towards director Rian Johnson on a phone call after his private screening. 


      Don't forget Lucas was publicly critical of The Force Awakens for being "a retro movie" that relied too much on being like his original Star Wars, so him giving the thumbs up to Rian Johnson's vision wasn't guaranteed. 


      Take it as you like. Is this the director of Star Wars and the main creative force behind Empire and Return of the Jedi or the director of Phantom Menace-Revenge of the Sith saying it's good? The answer is all of the above and, as someone who has seen Johnson's movie, I can tell you that it is definitely the artist respecting another artist. 


      Does this make you feel better about The Last Jedi or do you have visions of Jar Jars dancing in your head? 

    • Star Wars: The Last Jedi is an assured, cheer-worthy, fantastic entry into one of my favorite franchises!

      2 days ago

      ericvespe

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      Star Wars: The Last Jedi isn't an easy movie to talk about without digging into deep spoiler territory, but by God I'm going to give it a shot!


      I was lucky enough to see the film at its world premiere at the gargantuan Shrine Auditorium in LA this past Saturday, so take that into account. Being in a 6,000 seater surrounded by the cast, crew and random celebrities in the first audience in the world to watch this movie can certainly have an impact on how the movie worked for me. I have tickets for Thursday and Friday nights (because I don't mess around when it comes to Star Wars) and will be able to test just how much being in that audience had an effect on my opinion, but here are some immediate thoughts on Rian Johnson's middle film in the new trilogy of Star Wars films in the meantime.


      The Last Jedi isn't a passive film. Big, big things happen here. By the end of the movie the galaxy as we know it is in a much different place than it is at the start. The film opens just after the events of The Force Awakens. It's actually a pretty great choice to start so close to the ending of the previous film. It gives this story an urgency as the remnants of the Resistance flee their base, the First Order determined to stomp them out once and for all.


      Starkiller Base may have been destroyed, but it did its job in wiping out the central government of the galaxy, leaving the Resistance little but a tiny militia way out-gunned and out-manned by the First Order.


      The spark of the Resistance is dying despite their victory in The Force Awakens. The big question is whether or not the Resistance's actions can inspire the rest of the galaxy to stand up to Supreme Leader Snoke, Kylo Ren and the rest of the First Order because as we begin this new movie the Resistance is down to about 400 people and the First Order won't rest until all of them are eliminated, determined not to make the mistake the Empire did and let the Rebels grow in power.


      Once again they place the hope of igniting that passion in Luke Skywalker. It worked before, surely it would work again, but Rey quickly finds that Luke isn't exactly gung-ho about returning to the spotlight and for good reason.


      Writer/director Rian Johnson has placed every single one of these characters into situations where they have to face their worst fears. Poe has to come to grips with the fact that following his gut has consequences and being good at blowing shit up isn't always enough. Leia has to face the very real possibility that she has failed with the Resistance. Finn found his courage in TFA, but only when it comes to his friendship with Rey. What about his devotion to the movement? That is tested here. Luke has removed himself from the equation completely because he fears he will do (and has done) more bad than good. Can he open himself up to the force once again? Rey confronts the dark and the light within herself.


      People expecting a remake of The Empire Strikes Back are in for a surprise. In fact, surprise seems to be the modus operandi here. Johnson constantly defies expectation, resulting in some of the most cheer-worthy moments of the entire saga. He also makes strong choice that will surely enrage some hardcore fans, delight others and result in hours upon hours of debate, deconstruction and conversation.


      I believe every single one of his choices are inspired and meaningful. Nothing is done cheaply here, every choice is earned and shows a deep insight into character complexity and thematic clarity. The final shot (don't worry, I won't spoil it), for instance, is atypical of this franchise, but sums up every single thing this movie's about in one beautifully composed image.


      The Force Awakens was a rollercoaster ride that re-introduced us to the Star Wars many of us felt had been gone since the Original Trilogy. The Last Jedi has some big moments, but is a little more introspective and actually makes The Force Awakens even better.


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      We get a better insight into Kylo Ren in particular. He got criticized for being too emo in the last film, something I didn't really buy. I loved his set up as a lost character, his dark and light nature constantly fighting within him. He desired to be Darth Vader, but had to force himself into the darkest aspects of his grandfather's persona. It didn't come easy. That's interesting to me. In The Last Jedi that struggle is magnified and a choice has to be made, one way or the other.


      Snoke is handled so much better here as well. His power is shown, his intelligence is revealed and the CG work on him is infinitely better than hologram dude from the last film. He's a real threat now and as powerful as he's shown you're not sure how the hell the dwindling Resistance has a chance against him.


      Rey's character growth is actually much more subtle than you'd think from the trailers. Much like Kylo she's trying to figure out just who she is, hanging so much on her parentage to give her a clue what kind of person she is and what her place in the world is, which weirdly mirrors the fandom surrounding the character. The answer to that question is wholly satisfying to me, but I'm not sure how the rest of fandom is going to take it.


      Leia is done very, very well here. She has some meaty stuff to work with. What Johnson does with her character here is some of my favorite stuff in this new film. I love it so much I'll just leave it at that and pick up the discussion after everybody has had a chance to see the movie.


      Luke. It's tough to talk about his character in any sort of detail without putting you ahead of his story, but I will say that Mark Hamill totally brings his all to this part. Luke is frustrating, inspirational, likable, grumpy, dickish, compassionate, cowardly and brave all at once. He's beautifully written and expertly performed. Much like with Harrison Ford's return as Han Solo in the last film there are moments of pure nostalgic magic when you see glimpses of the Luke Skywalker from the OT poke through this older version of the character.


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      The new characters likewise benefit from Johnson's rich character writing. Rose Tico, played by Kelly Marie Tran, in particular shines as a lowly grunt that has the heart of a Rebel fighter. She's a true believer and her enthusiasm is the kind that changes hearts and minds. She's a crucial character to this story because she embodies everything good about the Resistance and the Rebel Alliance before it. She's kind, proactive, loyal and doesn't take any shit.


      Benicio del Toro's “DJ” is a murkier character, a rogue in every sense. He's shaped in the Han Solo mold of a pirate that's out only for himself, but Johnson knows that you'll recognize this exact Star Wars character type and makes sure not to take it in the direction you're expecting.


      Laura Dern's Vice Admiral Holdo is not at all what I expected. She's a figure that is quite prominent in the Resistance and ends up carrying some of the most emotional weight of the movie. It's so damn nice to see Dern in this universe and the only problem with casting her in this movie is that she's not in every frame and you kind of want her to be.


      Porgs. What to say about the Porgs? I love 'em. There's an especially awesome scene around a campfire and that's all I'll say about that, but yeah, they're adorable and you're going to either love how cute they are or they'll annoy the hell out of you. Thankfully Johnson doesn't overuse them, so either way you'll be fine.


      The film looks like a million bucks thanks to Steve Yedlin's gorgeous photography. The battle scenes are especially spectacular. John Williams is still on his game with a driving, yet delicate, score that sits shoulder to shoulder with his best Star Wars work. ILM does a great job with the VFX, with only a few wonky comp shots on the casino planet of Canto Bight that stuck out to me. Snoke in particular is an impressive feat considering that he's photoreal and shaped in a way that absolutely can not be makeup yet doesn't land in the dreaded Uncanny Valley. There is one other bit of CG weirdness that is a tad off-putting, but ultimately successful. Vague, right? Trust me, you don't want me to say more than that.


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      The practical effects are righteous, too, especially when it comes to some of the creature work done.


      There's some deeper stuff I'm dying to talk about, especially when it comes to some of the main themes of the movie, but even bringing those up could get your geek brains firing in ways that'll put you on the path to figuring out the movie before you see it and I don't want to do that. I will say some of the themes of the movie have to do with Hope and Nostalgia or the lack thereof and to me that's the real interesting thing about this movie, but I'll write something next week that dives deeper into that after everybody's had a chance to see it.


      On the whole, The Last Jedi is a fantastic film that really moves the Star Wars Saga into some unexpected territory. It's not a retread of Empire, but does borrow a little bit of Empire's structure which really keeps the flick moving through its 2.5 hour runtime. All the characters are interesting and complex and there's absolutely no pussyfooting around some real deal consequences to actions taken.


      In short, The Last Jedi is an assured film. If you had any doubt that Johnson wasn't able to make his movie the way he wanted to without being forced into safe territory by some kind of committee then this film should put your doubts to rest. This is a bold, emotional, surprising entry into the Star Wars franchise and one that I can't wait to watch over and over and over again.

    • Disney Wants Rob Marshall To Direct The Live-Action Little Mermaid Movie

      1 week ago

      ericvespe

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      Disney is king of the world right now. Just about everything they do is printing cash. Yes, you have Marvel and Star Wars, but they also have a rich vein in the live action adaptations of their back catalogue. Alice In Wonderland, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, The Jungle Book... all raked in the cash and they're not stopping there.


      Jon Favreau is underway on his photorealistic adaptation of The Lion King and Disney's been prepping The Little Mermaid as well. Today word came out, via Deadline, that the Mouse House wants Rob Marshall to direct Mermaid and... it's a pretty boring choice.


      The man has made some good movies, hell he has a best picture film on his resume (Chicago), but he hasn't hit a home run since in my opinion. Memoirs of a Geisha was pretty, but forgettable, Nine was pretty and forgettable, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was all around bad and Into the Woods was fun, but slight. 


      Marshall just filmed the long-time-coming sequel Mary Poppins Returns and is posting that movie now, which would explain why he'd be at the top of Disney's list. This would assume that Poppins is turning out great, which is why the studio's so anxious to sign him up. He knows his way around a musical and obviously works well with the higher ups at Disney.


      He's safe, in other words.


      When Jon Favreau took on The Jungle Book he came to it with a love of the original animated film and a storyteller's drive to push technology in a way that he hadn't gotten to before. That spark made that film work. I don't know if I see Marshall bringing any sparks to The Little Mermaid.


      Lin-Manuel Miranda will be contributing some new songs to this film, teaming up with Alan Menken. That is something to get excited about, but if Marshall ends up taking the job (he's still considering it, no contracts have been signed) I think we can expect a well-shot movie whose ambitions aim squarely down the middle.

    • Quentin Tarantino Might Do A Star Trek Movie?!? Let's Break That Rumor Down, Shall We?

      1 week ago

      ericvespe

      The big whopper that hit late last night was some word that Quentin Tarantino and JJ Abrams were partnering up for a Star Trek movie. No, April Fools Day didn't sneak up on you. This is a legit story, posted by Deadline's highly accurate scoop-hound Michael Fleming.


      It appears that big Original Series fan Quentin Tarantino had a great idea for a new Star Trek movie that he told to JJ Abrams, who loved it so much he's actively working to set it up at Paramount. Fleming said the idea is to assemble a writers room, let them kick around Tarantino's idea for a bit while he's off filming his maybe Manson Family Murders-related LA period film and when he comes back he'll take a look at their script and decide if he wants to actually direct it.


      I know, the concept of Tarantino directing a Star Trek movie is mind-blisteringly bonkers that it kind of has to happen now or else that void will never be filled by anything else and we'll all be walking around incomplete for the rest of our lives. But don't get too excited. 


      I don't mean to be the doomsayer here, but the chance of Tarantino directing a giant franchise picture that he didn't write from beginning to end himself is... improbable. He famously directed a 2-parter CSI episode that he pitched and had the writing team come up with the final teleplay, but doing episodic TV and a feature film is quite different in terms of personal time commitment and, honestly, prestige. 


      If he's sticking with his 10 and out feature promise that would mean Kelvin Timeline Star Trek 4 is Tarantino's last go-round as a director.


      I'm betting there are three outcomes more likely than Quentin Tarantino directing a Star Trek movie.


      Outcome 1: Tarantino takes a Story By credit and lets someone else run with directing the next Trek movie.


      Outcome 2: This is developed for a while and ends up dropped, becoming simply an interesting deep dive bit of movie trivia.


      Outcome 3 (the one I'm actually pulling for): Tarantino is sparked by this idea and it percolates in his brainpan to such a degree that he can't shake it and it ends up inspiring him do his own, original take on a sci-fi story.


      You'd think I'm crazy to suggest that, but it's happened before. There was time in 2005 where New Line approached him after hearing he was a Friday the 13th fan and rumors began spreading he was going to do "the Ultimate Jason Voorhees Movie." He shot the rumors down within a week. The meeting did happen, but, at the time, he was trying to get his WW2 movie, Inglourious Basterds, written out and had no intention of making Friday the 13th. 


      But that wasn't his next film up, was it? He didn't make Basterds until 2009. The film he made before it? The Death Proof segment of Grindhouse, which he said was his take on the Slasher Genre. 


      Stuntman Mike was the Slasher, but instead of wielding a machete or hatchet he killed with his car. Many slasher tropes are winked at... the slow stalk, the brutal gore and a quadruple down on the final girl trope. 


      That Friday the 13th meeting and subsequent rumors for sure got the juices flowing and gave us admittedly his weakest film to date, but still something I'm quite fond of: a uniquely Tarantino take on a slasher movie with liberal dashes of '70s car fetish road pictures.


      Fleming got no comment from either Paramount or Tarantino's camp, so the other unspoken option here is that this rumor is pure horseshit, but Fleming has a great track record and this is a big story. I doubt he'd go to print unless he was sure it was accurate. 


      I wouldn't hold my breath for this ultimately coming to anything, but we do know Tarantino is a fan of Trek and has some ideas. Hell, he talked on the Nerdist Podcast about his likes and dislikes about the world of Trek, being pretty open about what he feels works and doesn't work about JJ's movies and even about some of his ideas on what he'd do if he were making one. Listen:






      There's no telling if his off-the-cuff ideas spit-balled here are what he took to JJ or if, much like my Friday the 13th/Death Proof theory, this chat got the creative juices running and inspired something we don't know yet. 


      Again, it'd be pretty rad to see a Tarantino-directed Star Trek movie. I just think it'd be even more badass to see a fully original Tarantino sci-fi movie INSPIRED by what he loved about William Shatner's Kirk and Wrath of Khan and the bits and pieces of Trek that absorbed growing up.


      We'll see what the reality is eventually, but I got $20 says he ain't directing a Star Trek movie.


    • Mark Hamill Answers Star Wars Questions... In 1976. Must Watch Video!

      1 week ago

      ericvespe

      The internet can be an awful place. But sometimes it can be used as a force for good. You see that when it comes to disaster relief help or getting live updates on the ground in a crisis... and you can see it in the Indiana Joneses out there who go seeking for lost geek treasure, like this video.


      It's not too hard to find YouTube videos with Mark Hamill talking about Star Wars. It's not very common to find one from the year before the first film was released and this is exactly what you have here.


      There are three men on the stage here at MidAmeriCon in Kansas City, Missouri on September 4th, 1976. Left to right they are Star Wars Marketing Director Charles Lippencott, Producer Gary Kurtz (who walked away from Star Wars after Empire) and the then mostly unknown Mark Hamill.


      They have just shown some slides for their space movie to a Comic Con crowd... and when I saw Comic-Con I mean the real, original Comic-Con type crowd, not what exists today. This is an audience of outcasts, nerds back when it was unpopular to be a nerd. Today it is cool to be a geek. In fact it's weird if you're not into geek culture. The roles have reversed. Not so much then.


      And in true Comic Book Guy fashion this crowd is a bit... salty. And unconvinced. The first few questions in particular are dickish, getting nerdy about explosions in space and "cliched" plots. 


      There are some real gems here, though. Kurtz is very clear about the budget and the steep hill they have to climb to find success (a whopping $18 million in print rentals or it's a failure). Hamill's enthusiasm is also on full display and in hindsight it's pretty funny seeing him talk about the love story between him and Carrie Fisher. There's also a question to keep an ear out for toward the end when someone asks if he's worried about being typecast as a sci-fi star should this little space opera maybe find an audience, which is pretty incredible considering right this very moment he's on a press tour talking about his return to the role of Luke Skywalker.


      This is geek catnip. Many thanks to FANAC for uncovering it, cleaning it up and uploading it.


      Watch it and share!





    • David Goyer May Direct The He-Man Movie

      1 week ago

      ericvespe

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      I'm an '80s kid so of course I have nostalgia for the He-Man cartoons and toys. I had a ton of the action figures (including the Castle Grayskull playset) that my mom sold at a Garage Sale when I was 12 for probably a fraction of what they're worth today.


      Would I be interested in a He-Man movie that actually took place in Eternia? Damn right I would be! Am I interested in one directed by David Goyer... Um... 


      Goyer's very first directorial outing was a great little indie movie called ZigZag starring Wesley Snipes, the star of Blade, a script he wrote that kicked off that franchise and could get credit for being the spark that lit the fuse resulting in today's superhero craze. 


      After that movie everything else has been degrees of awful, though. Blade Trinity is laughably bad and the two horror films he did (The Invisible and The Unborn) are totally forgettable.


      Hollywood Reporter says Goyer is in talks to direct their live-action He-Man and the Masters of the Universe movie and I'm hoping he doesn't get it, to be honest. Not that the franchise is better than him (it's not... it's super silly), but if they're going to make a movie out of it they're going to need someone who can counterbalance the goofier aspects of all these muscly dudes fighting a Skull-faced wise-ass.


      I think a good, solid, fun movie could be made with these characters in this universe, but I think the odds are way more likely it's going to end up looking like The Last Airbender. Goyer doesn't exactly fill me with confidence that it won't go in that direction.


      What do you folks think? Good idea or bad idea? Orco or no Orco? So many ways to go... and I guess no matter which way they choose it's bound to feel more like He-Man than the original feature film...


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    • The Hellboy Reboot Gets A Release Date!

      1 week ago

      ericvespe

      January 11th, 2019. That's when you can see Stranger Things' David Harbour playing ol' horned himself in Neil Marshall's HELLBOY reboot.


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      This is a project that fills me with conflicting emotions. On the one hand I really wanted to see Guillermo del Toro finish out his Trilogy. He was setting up some really dark stuff at the end of Hellboy 2 and I'm invested in Ron Perlman as that character.


      On the other hand Neil Marshall is himself a great filmmaker (The Descent is an all-timer and he's done some spectacular episodes of Game of Thrones) and the reboot promises to be darker, more in line with the comics and R-rated. Plus it has David Harbour as Hellboy, which I'm incredibly curious to see how that plays out.


      Also in the movie are Milla Jovovich, Daniel Dae Kim and Ian McShane. It's a good cast and if it was the first Hellboy movie I'd be jumping over the moon, but since it isn't and the last cinematic adaptation was kind of left hanging I'll always have a little twinge of regret tied in with this project.


      What about you?

    • Shut Yo' Mouth! Shaft Remakequel Gets Dated!

      2 weeks ago

      ericvespe

      So they're remaking one of the seminal films of the '70s. Again. And this time they're making it a comedy. 


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      Shaft isn't a prestige film, but it's an important one. For the first time it brought the African American community into the filmmaking process in all the top line positions in front of and behind the camera and was a massive financial success and an Oscar winner (Isaac Hayes won for his original title song). It spawned a whole wave of creative low-budget highly entertaining black-centric films lovingly dubbed "blaxploitation" by cinephiles.


      The film was remade in 2000 by John Singleton with Samuel L. Jackson playing the title character. They made that one a sneaky sequel with Jackson's character actually being the original Shaft's nephew. Now they're remaking it again, but taking a similar tact.


      Tim Story will be directing this new film which is said to feature Samuel L. Jackson, Richard Roundtree and a new member of the Shaft family, played by Jessie T. Usher. It is said that it would be more of a comedy than a straight forward crime story like the previous entries and this film will debut in the prime summer season slot of June 14th, 2019.


      Blaxploitation as a subgenre always had a lighter, fun tone so it's not a huge leap to go funny with this, but I worry for two reasons. 


      One, Tim Story is directing this. He did solid comedic work with Barbershop, but made some of the worst big budget superhero films ever with Fox's Fantastic Four and Rise of the Silver Surfer. He doesn't have the best track record.


      Two, they've already made a couple really great blaxploitation comedies, my favorite of which is Undercover Brother. 




      But I can't deny being curious at seeing Sam Jackson play around in this universe again.


      This might be a good time to point out a few blaxploitation classics you might have missed. These are totally worth tracking down:



      Truck Turner - Isaac Hayes scores AND stars in this film about a washed out bounty hunter who pisses off a Madame played by Star Trek's Nichelle Nichols and she puts a hit out on him. It's super fun!






      Black Belt Jones - Jim Kelly stars as the most kick ass martial artist with the most badass afro you've ever seen. They take a traditional chop socky formula of the mentor's dojo being taken over by rivals (in this case the mafia wipes out the hood's dojo) and the students having to save the day. One of the most purely entertaining movies ever made. 








      Coffy - Pam Grier is the queen of this genre. She has a ton of great leading roles in the '70s, but her most famous (and best) are this, Coffy, and Foxy Brown. In Coffy she plays an older sister who decides to single-handedly take revenge against all the dope pushers in town after her little sister gets hooked. 







      Dolemite - What it lacks in production value it more than makes up for in pure force of personality. Rudy Ray Moore is one hell of a character and boy does he give 110% in this movie. In this movie Dolemite is a pimp who, along with his karate call girls, takes down a rival pimp and his thugs. If you ever saw Black Dynamite that movie's kind of a mix between Shaft, Black Belt Jones and Dolemite. The trailer for this movie is better than most films you've ever seen.




      There's a dozen more quality examples of blaxploitation that covers all sorts of genres, like westerns (Three the Hard Way) and horror (Abby, the Black Exorcist, or Sugar Hill, a zombie movie), but this is a good start.


      Let me know if you track any of these down and what you think.

    • Infinity War Trailer has been up for about 8 hours and has over 17 million views!

      2 weeks ago

      ericvespe

      And that's just on the main Marvel YouTube channel. It's been copied and uploaded a few bazillion times, some of these videos having millions of views themselves. 


      If you missed it... well, it's awesome. Check it out and prepare to soil your pants a little teensy weensy bit. If you've already seen it, well watch it again like any sane human being would.




      Marvel's going big for their finale to this first trilogy of phases. So. Many. People. Are. In. This. Trailer. 


      We at The Know recorded a pretty nerdy in-depth breakdown of the trailer, so prepare your eyeholes for that.


      Stay tuned, nerds! It's a hell of a time for Marvel fans and a ::shakyhand:: time to be a DC fan, but still... we've taken over the world and this trailer is evidence of that. Our time is now!

    • Michael Giacchino, Germaine Franco and Camilo Lara talk about the music of Pixar's Coco!

      2 weeks ago

      ericvespe

      Over the summer I visited the hallowed grounds of Pixar (of course I took an obligatory photo of the big Luxo Jr at the entrance... it's almost mandatory when you go there) and got to see a little bit of the behind the scenes of Coco. 


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      One of the big focuses was on the music of the movie. Composer Michael Giacchino was on hand to talk about his score and so were Germaine Franco and Camilo Lara. Germaine was in charge of arranging the music and writing the actual songs and Camilo's job was to keep the movie authentically Mexican by making sure the source music wasn't just random Mariachi stuff that is in every Hollywood production set in Mexico.


      The reason why there was such a focus on the music is pretty self-evident when you see the movie. It's about a boy whose dream is to be a musician, but his family will not allow it. Music is the soul of this child and frankly it's the soul of their small town, who worship a deceased movie star/singer named Ernesto de la Cruz.


      The filmmakers needed to populate this town with music, give young Miguel the inspiration that sparks his passion, and for that to work it had to be authentic, which is where Camilo comes in. He's an expert on the broad tapestry of traditional Mexican music so he makes sure the music you hear playing in the town or in the town square (the source music) isn't fake Hollywood stuff.


      The second type of music are the original songs in the film, inspired by the various types of Mexican music, but do it as storytellers that support that story they're telling. That's what Germaine Franco was in charge of. She arranged both the original songs as well as some traditional Mexican tunes so that they melded together into one cohesive soundscape, taking particular inspiration from the Oaxaca region of Mexico.


      And then there's score, which was Giacchino's job. You know Giacchino's work from a million things. The Incredibles, JJ Abrams' Star Trek, Rogue One, Up, War for the Planet of the Apes, etc. The job of the composer is to bring emotion and themes to the music, something John Williams so masterfully did in his Star Wars score, for instance. Themes and motifs became one and the same with the visuals. When you hear his Force Theme you know some force stuff is going on or when the Imperial March kicks up you know Vader is near.


      I was able to talk to all three people during my visit. Below you'll find my interview with Michael Giacchino, Germain Franco and Camilo Lara. Enjoy!



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      Eric Vespe: First of all, I wanted to start by telling you that your War for the Planet of the Apes score is one of my favorite scores of the year so far.


      Michael Giacchino: Aw, thanks. Matt Reeves is a great director. I love working with him.


      Eric Vespe: Since I have all three of you here in front of me I think we should talk a little about your collaboration. What is the creative process like since you're all bringing different kinds of music together that ultimately has to be one cohesive, rich sound.


      Michael Giacchino: Basically if you look at three aspects of what has to be done in the film you have songs, you have source music and you have score. Germaine and Camilo have been there since the beginning, since before I came on board. If you guys want to talk about how you started I can pick up when I came on board.


      Germaine Franco: Camilo started a month or so before me...


      Camilo Lara: It's been very interesting. It's a complex situation. I guess Michael needs to put some salt on the emotions, make it so you can show those feelings, and Germaine has been working on these amazing songs, which are instant classics. I'm so excited to see them blossom. I've been helping with the process of making sure the elements are Mexican.


      Michael Giacchino: He's our Mexican Obi-Wan Kenobi.


      Camilo Lara: I would say Yoda. (laughs)


      Eric Vespe: So you're here to keep Michael honest and make sure everything is authentic.


      Camilo Lara: In a way, but I am not a purist of Mexican music. I mean, I do Mexican music because I'm Mexican, but I guess it just needed to feel right. It needed to feel correct and you can tell that.


      Eric Vespe: Yeah, you can tell when you see a movie set in Mexico and they pull out the canned public domain Mariachi music or whatever.


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      Michael Giacchino: That's exactly what we wanted to avoid. We wanted to make sure it felt truthful and it came from the heart of this country.


      Germaine Franco: From the beginning we had the mandate to keep it authentic, but also be able to tell a story. We took songs, some that you've heard before and some that were written that I helped arranged and orchestrate... The first thing I ever did was arrange and orchestrate the big extravaganza of de la Cruz singing. We thought “What would that be like in that golden age of Mexico meets Hollywood cinema?” and adding fantastic Mexican musicians into the tracks.


      Also, there's a lot of great Mexican musicians in LA and players that can play the style very well, including the guitarist you heard today. Every time we sent a demo or I did an arrangement, we kept that in mind. It's not just going to be a marimba score or a mariachi score. Even though that's great music, let's look at all the kinds of music that you hear and let's focus on certain styles and, as Camilo likes to say, smells of Mexico.


      Michael created a bunch of source music which we took down to Mexico and we got to collaborate with the musicians there. In addition to playing the traditional music we also had them play some of his source music. It's all been a really great situation. We all respect each other for what we each do, so it's a lot of camaraderie, a lot of nice experimenting and openness.


      Michael Giacchino: One of the things that I love so much about movies in general is that I can jump into a project and take on this whole other character. You know my music. I like it to fit the movie. If that means it needs a completely different orchestration idea I do it. This is a perfect project to come into and become what the soul and heart of Mexico is.


      I had a narrow window into that world through my dad's record collection, but then growing up and getting to work with these guys I learned so much more about it. Camilo sent me a list intially and I was like “Whoa! This is whole other ball of wax!” It was really incredible to go down that rabbit hole and trying to use that to tell the emotional story of the film.


      Eric Vespe: Music is emotion in movies. Your Up score is a perfect example. At the beginning of that film your music is the dialogue for Carl's life story. Maybe you guys can talk about shouldering that responsibility in a movie like this. You have hundreds, if not thousands, of people working here at Pixar to bring these characters to life, but ultimately if the score is jarring it can derail all that work they've done. Not to put more pressure on you guys...


      Michael Giacchino: The emotion is the number one thing in the back of my mind. Always. A film like this is so tricky because you could easily just put music everywhere. You could not care about throwing in source or score and let them bleed into each other, hoping no one would notice, but that's not what we wanted.


      One of my things talking with Adrian (Molina) and Lee (Unkrich) was saying that as important as figuring out where you want music is it's just as important to figure out where you don't. You want music, when it's there, to mean something, to have something to say. If it's just talking all the time it's like that person you get into a conversation with at a party that you just can not get away from and just won't shut up. So many movies do that and it's just like constant wallpaper.


      It was about how do we balance these three ideas: song, source and score, and get that to tell the story in a proper story in the same way you would if it was just score.


      Eric Vespe: You also want to give it personality, too, I bet. A lot of times that comes from happy accidents. How open were you guys to that?


      Germaine Franco: Totally open. That's the only way to be on a project like this, or any project. You have to keep experimenting. By experimenting you find what you're looking for. Sometimes you try four or five different versions and the first one is the best, but you only know that because you tried the other ways. That's one of the things that I learned from working with the Pixar team. Don't be afraid to try things. You don't have to make it a huge effort and try to make it perfect. Just see. Does that idea work? Oh, it doesn't. Here's another idea. Not having a preconceived notion of what the outcome has to be.


      In Mexico that was what was so beautiful. He were were sitting in a room with a lot of musicians, giving them charts of all these things. I didn't know if they would be able to play it, but I thought “let's find a way for them to engage with the music.” There's some source music that I think came out really beautiful because of that.


      Michael Giacchino: Oh, yeah. It's amazing to listen to. When you write something you have it in your head what you want it to sound like and you're maybe writing it just on the piano and then Germaine does these beautiful arrangements of these tunes and the next thing you know they come back and you're like “Oh, my God! That really sounds like it just came out of the country, like it had been there forever! How does that happen?!?” It's a crazy, wonderful magic trick.


      GnK3d7B.jpg



      Coco is in theaters now and now you can go see it knowing even more about the thought put behind the music. 

  • Comments (8)

    • Izayer FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold Keeper of Stories

      1 month ago

      Wow. I remember when the podcast guys talked about you when they were still the Drunk Tank. Welcome. I'm sure that RT will regret love having you write for The Know! Welcome aboard!

    • prydie

      1 month ago

      Great to see you've found a new home! Looking forward to more of your work.

    • SailorGirl81 FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold Keeper Of Kittens

      1 month ago

      Welcome to Rooster Teeth and The Know!

    • RiverRunning

      1 month ago

      Hello :)

    • RWBimbie Keeper of Poems

      1 month ago

      Heyo !

    • ItsMeMara FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold

      1 month ago

      Welcome to The Know can't wait to see what you bring to the community!!

    • EricHVela FIRST Member Star(s) Indication of membership status - One star is a FIRST member, two stars is Double Gold Eric Hohoho! Vela

      1 month ago

      MOVIES!


      I mean...


      WELCOME!


      (and MOVIES!)

    • Donjre

      1 month ago

      Welcome!

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    My other car is a batmobile.

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  • Questions answered by ericvespe

    This is an excellent question. Do you go by design? Quality of the movie or series they're in? Lasting chills? Design would be between Predator, Pumpkinhead and Gill-Man from Monster Squad (all created by the late, great Stan Winston, by the way). I watched more Friday the 13th movies growing up than I did Nightmare on Elm Street, but I like the character of Freddy more, especially in that first film and Dream Warriors. It might not be the most original answer, but I'd probably go with Freddy.

    Absolutely not. That's what being a geek is all about. I can't tell you how many cool, random, weird movies I've found while chasing down movies with favorite character actors in it or directed by people I dig. That's the fun of all this!

    Honestly (and I know this makes me sound like a politician, but it's true) I love all kinds of movies. It's hard for me to pick between Jaws and Casablanca or The Exorcist and Raiders of the Lost Ark or The Lord of the Rings and The Godfather. I definitely have a soft spot for horror and sci-fi and I'm usually more willing to give a new random horror flick a shot over some drama I've never heard about.

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