19th Jun2017

Rock Dog (Film)

by timbaros

0300RAD_0140_master_v025.l.0246 0300RAD_0140_master_v025_l_0246A young dog from the Tibetan mountains heads to the big city to pursue his dream of being a rock star in the new and fun animated film Rock Dog.

Bodi (Luke Wilson) lives with his father in a tiny village high up on Snow Mountain. His father Khampa (J.K. Simmons) is a leader of the village, and it’s him who is in charge of a motley gang of sheep guards who protect the village from the dastardly, and hungry, wolves who are constantly trying to attack them. Then one day a plane drops a box into the village, and it’s Bodi who is there to investigate it’s contents. In it is a radio which Bodi turns on and instantly he’s in love with the music of a musician by the name of Angus Scattergood (Eddie Izzard). Bodi tries to copy the sounds of Scattergood by piecing together items found in the village to make a guitar – and Bodi thinks he’s found his calling! After an incident which causes havoc on the village, it is agreed that Bodi should be given a chance to head to the bright lights of the big city so that he can further explore his passion for music and his admiration for Scattergood. But once Bodi leaves the mountain, he is followed by two of the wolves who plan to kidnap him and use him as bait in order to take control of Snow Mountain. But in the big city Bodi meets fellow music and Scattergood enthusiasts in a place called Rock and Roll Park, it’s where Scattergood began his career. It’s not too long before Bodi comes face to face with Scattergood, but he also comes face to face with the wolves, who, at the behest of their leader Linnux (Lewis Black), vows to kidnap Bodi and do whatever it takes to take control of Snow Mountain.

This Chinese-American production is a simple tale of someone from a small village out to seek fame and fortune and explore his passion in the big city, themes most of us can relate to. But Bodi has more than a sense of adventure, he’s got charm and curiosity and a wit about him that should make this film appeal to both children and grownups alike. This film has been a flop, both in the U.S., with a measly gross of $20 million versus a budget of $60 million, and in China, where it has only earned $5.7 million (the film, though not explicitly mentioned, takes place in China). But in my opinion, it’s a great tale told very well with animation that’s passable and an excellently-voiced cast (even Matt Dillon pops up as a yak). It’s a cute story with cute characters – Rock Dog Rocks!

18th Dec2016

Uncle Howard (Film)

by timbaros

th-8-936x703Who was Howard Brookner? He was an American film director and famous for his college thesis documentary on William S. Burroughs – the American novelist who was also a member of the beat generation. Brookner also wrote and directed the feature-length film Bloodhounds of Broadway – a period comedic ensemble that starred several big names including Matt Dillon, Jennifer Grey, Anita Morris, Julie Hagerty, Randy Quaid, and Madonna. Howard Brookner was three days shy of 35 when he died of AIDS in 1989.

But Brookner was more than just a film director – he was also an uncle, an uncle to Aaron Brookner. And Aaron has made a film about his uncle in a moving documentary simply titled <em>Uncle Howard.

Aaron, 35 years old, was inspired by his uncle to make movies. In the documentary we see home video footage of Howard hanging out with Aaron when he was a kid, with Howard parading Aaron around on his shoulders. These scenes are touching and sentimental because it sets the tone of the short relationship Aaron had with his uncle, an uncle who passed away when Aaron was only 8-years-old, an uncle who made such an impression on him that decades later Aaron would want to make a documentary about him. Aaron’s early memories of Uncle Howard included being on the set of Bloodhounds of Broadway, a film that turned out to be Howards only major studio film, and unfortunately, he passed away before its release.

Aaron wanted to seek out Howard’s original film footage for his Burroughs documentary, and found it in a place called The Bunker in lower Manhattan, the former home of Burroughs. There are scenes of Aaron watching the old tapes which are then inter-spliced with the actual film footage, which gives us, and Aaron, a glimpse of the early work of his uncle, an uncle with high doses of passion and talent. The old footage also includes glimpses of Allen Ginsberg and Andy Warhol, while both new and old footage shows Jim Jarmusch, with Howard in the 1980’s, and then with Aaron in the present day.

The writer Brad Gooch gives us a raw insight into his ten-year relationship with Howard, while discussing the loss of Howard and many friends during the height of the AIDS pandemic, scenes that are emotional, touching and sentimental. But what most pulls at the heartstrings is Aaron’s conversations with Howard’s mother, Elaine, who walks down memory lane with Aaron about the life of Howard and how he was taken from them at such a young age. Uncle Howard is a film with a personal touch, and Aaron has successfully delivered a fitting tribute to an uncle who died way too young.

I wish I had an Uncle Howard.