Sunday, December 30, 2007

Ebert's View

Juno

Have you seen Roger Ebert's Top Ten list for 2007 yet? He gives 'Juno' the top spot, and 'No Country for Old Men' the second spot. Of 'Juno' Ebert says:

It is so hard to make a great comedy at all, and harder still to make one that is intelligent, quick, charming, moving and yes, very, very funny. Seeing “Juno” with an audience was to be reminded of unforgettable communal moviegoing experiences...

Sounds right to me. 'Juno' and 'No Country for Old Men' indeed seem to be the best of 2007.

The Orphanage

Another picture I'm looking forward to seeing is 'El Orfanata' (The Orphanage). Of it, Ebert says:

Now here is an excellent example of why it is more frightening to await something than to experience it. "The Orphanage" has every opportunity to descend into routine shock and horror, or even into the pits with the slasher pictures, but it only pulls the trigger a couple of times. The rest is all waiting, anticipating, dreading. We need the genuine jolt that comes about midway, to let us see what the movie is capable of. The rest is fear.

My kind of creepshow.


Saturday, December 29, 2007

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Creep vs. Gore

The Orphanage

'El Orfanata' (The Orphanage), directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, is shaping up to be the most rewarding creepshow in a long time -- and, not surprisingly, this picture is a Spanish production.

Pan's LabyrinthThe Spanish seem to have a lock on creepy, character-driven movies of late. Guillermo del Toro recently gave us 'El Laberinto del Fauno' (Pan's Labyrinth), an atmospheric and lovingly photographed fable which, although it didn't quite maintain its forward motion in Act II, was original and enjoyable.

Del Toro's 'El Espinazo del Diablo' (The Devil's Backbone) sustains itself with more energy but, doesn't offer as compelling a set of characters, or story. Still, it's a lot of fun. Even his uneven 'Mimic' shows more heart than most -- I'd recommend it. All in all, Del Toro's movies are a breath of fresh air that, amid emotionally challenged and intellectually stagnate Hollywood horror fare, revive the imagination and renew one's interest in good storytelling.

The Others

And then there's perhaps the best of recent Spanish creepshows, 'The Others', directed by Alejandro Amenabar. Here Nicole Kidman is pitch perfect, the story manages to ratchet up tension at every turn, the cinematography is a pleasure -- with scenes that are both classically lit yet keep a contemporary fluidity in the camera and editing -- and even the ending (that most difficult thing to peg in a supernatural thriller) is satisfying. And, if Hollywood isn't convinced by those qualities, 'The Others' was a huge financial success as well.

Why is Spain the new font of character-driven suspense? With the waning success of the new super-graphic, ultra-sarcastic brand of Hollywood horror movie, Tinsel Town could take a lesson. (Not that they're likely to). But, one can hope. In the meantime mi gusto mucho los nuevos peliculos de Espana. Hey, that's the best I could do -- high school Spanish was long time ago. See you at the movies...


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Frayed

Frayed

Three guys -- Rob Portmann, Kurt Svennungsen, and Norbert Caoili -- who have been horror movie fans since they were kids decide to make their own horror movie and, after five years of work, produce 'Frayed'. So far the movie has been an official selection at the 2007 Screamfest Film Festival and the 2007 International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival.

I read a story about the trio and thought I'd take a look at their trailer. I'll admit I didn't expect much. Usually, these trailers reflect the standard B fare -- a superficial plot-driven story shot with barely competent camera work using second-string actors. The trailer for 'Frayed' exhibits none of these qualities -- it looks better than most trailers for most of the movies produced in Hollywood (No. I'm not kidding).

Rob, Kurt, and Norbert are trying to land distribution and lining up 'Frayed' for more film festivals. If the movie plays as well as the trailer they'll be in good shape. Here's wishing them luck.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

First Look at Neil Gaiman's Coraline

Very nice looking clip. Hi-rez version available at Neil's journal.


The Cathedral



I like this short quite a bit. Very atmospheric, and creates the sense you are there. Movie is based on a story by
Jacek Dukaj and is inspired by the paintings of Zdzislaw Beksinski.


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Sweeney Box Office

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

The thing about Sweeney Todd I'm most interested in is how it does at the box office. There's a lot of praise for this effort, but the release of such a hybrid (and by all accounts, gory) movie over the traditional family get-together season of Christmas and New Year's seems a dubious strategy. Are families going to want to take the kids to see a razor-wielding barber kill people -- and sing?

Well, who knows. What better time to release this picture? -- I don't know, that isn't clear. What's much more clear is X-mas doesn't seem like the right time.

People love Depp, though. And, they like Burton. Most people don't know who Sondheim is and get squeamish when someone starts to sing (especially at the movies). So, this is one of the most interesting openings this year. Hope it does well.


Friday, December 21, 2007

Semi-Pro

Semi-Pro

Red band trailer. Warning: this trailer has more than a little pee-pee talk.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Horror Musical?

Tim Burton, Stephen Sondheim, and Helena Bonham Carter

That's Tim Burton, Stephen Sondheim, and Helena Bonham Carter during rehersal of 'Sweeney Todd'. Producer Richard Zanuck calls it a 'horror musical'. NPR has a write up of this difficult-to-peg movie.


Ruins


Early look


Hellboy II


Here's a nice piece of work directed by Guillermo del Toro.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Mamma Mia

I hate musicals. But, this looks good.


WALL-E



Here's a trailer for a movie about WALL-E from a company called PIXAR.

Insert Content

Judd Apatow, Paul Rudd, Justin Long, Jonah Hill, and Craig Robinson in what can only be described as content.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Christmas Carousel

Photo by Alan Green

Photo by Alan Green

Every year there is a Christmas Carousel set up at the Westlake shopping center in downtown Seattle. Kids and parents love it. Proceeds go to charity. Here are a couple shots (click for larger versions). Photos by Alan Green


Semi-Pro

Here's a look at Will Ferrell's upcoming comedy.

Cloverfield: New Movie Technique

The only thing that's new in this clip is the reveal in the last few seconds. Still, it's an entertaining bit of movie making. What JJ Abrams and director Matt Reeves have that is new is the 'This Is Actually Happening' camera technique. This differs from the 'You Are There' technique, most recently seen in 'The Bourne Ultimatum'. Actors in Cloverfield routinely spike the camera or behave in some other 'non-actorly' manner because it's not supposed to be a Hollywood movie, rather captured video of an actual event (which is happening right now). I don't think this approach has ever been taken before.

'The Blair Witch Project' differs in that its footage represents what an editor would have culled from a casual account of a camping trip after the video was discovered. That is, only the best parts of the video would have been used for the movie. Regular stuff would have been edited out.

In 'Cloverfield' the conceit is more complex. In this movie footage from a camera (or multiple cameras) is stitched together to present a realtime version of events. The difference between Cloverfield and Blair Witch is the editor for the Cloverfield footage is non-existent, whereas the editor for the Blair Witch footage was a real person who did their best to assemble the footage in the most compelling way. Blair Witch is then presented as if it were an edited version of the (discovered) video of an event which actually happened (instead of a Hollywood movie).

For Cloverfield the idea is that there is no editor (or producer or writer, or studio, etc), and the imagery is magically transported to the movie screen in your theater (and only your theater) as it is shot (in NYC) so you have a realtime account of a real event which is happening now. It's worth noting the storyline in Cloverfield takes place at night. [This is when most people go to the movies]. Having the action take place at night supports the feeling that the movie is taking place 'now'.

Cloverfield

I know -- sounds stupid when you read it -- but this is the (subconscious) impression the audience is meant to have, and I think the strategy will work. Part of what will make 'Cloverfield' a success will be the visceral impact the movie will have because of the 'this-is-actually-happening (right now)' image-producing/editing approach. Word of mouth will be more effective than usual because people will infuse their description of the movie with the urgency of someone who actually lived through the events in the movie -- as opposed to the usual 'then, there was the part where they did such and such' spiel. Without knowing it people will describe this movie in the first-person, or with a first-person tone. And, without knowing it, the person they describe the movie to will sense that the person that is describing the movie to them had a great time (at the movie [which is being described]). And, that person (who has had the movie described to them) will want to see/experience the (events of the) movie (in the first-person) all the more.

It'll be both subtle and effective. Once again, hats off to JJ Abrams. He had a great concept for a shooting technique, produced a cool looking movie that everyone is talking about, and came up with one of the best marketing campaigns to date (and dumped it at the first sign it was getting on people's nerves). 'Cloverfield' is primed for success.


Friday, December 14, 2007

I Am Legend Featurette

I Am Legend

If you're thinking of seeing 'I Am Legend', but you're torn and can't decide, NYT has a nice featurette with commentary by director Francis Lawrence that may tip the scales. A.O. Scott has a nice rundown -- scroll down to his video review for a tasty clip. More clips here, some with snippets that haven't been seen.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Everyone Loves Cox (Dot Com)

Dewey Cox: Walk Hard

Sony has set up a Dewey Cox site with tributes to Dewey by Will Farrell, Maroon 5, John Mayer, Sheryl Crow, Brad Paisley, Ghostface Killam, Sarah Evans, Jewel, Lyle Lovett, Jackson Browne, and Van Zandt. It's moving stuff. Let's face it -- everyone loves Cox.

You can also get cards like the one above, bobble heads, icons, and see clips and music videos.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Outsourcing Digital Animation To India

The Golden Compass

Laura Sydell with the first of three reports about how Hollywood is having digital effects sequences like the ones in 'The Golden Compass' done in India.


Monday, December 10, 2007

Generic Soundtrack, Or Just A Sound Alike?

What does the music from 'I Am Legend' (James Newton Howard) and 'Sunshine' (Underworld) have in common? Both have harmonic simplicity -- they're almost stripped of any melodic complexity -- favoring dramatic primitive rhythms instead. Both begin with an ostinato pattern in the upper strings accompanied by a pulsing staccato in the lower strings. The only real difference between the two is that Howard chose a syncopated guttural vocal sting to accent his music while Underworld's guttural vocal sting is on the beat. In both, the repeated notes remain within a very restricted range.

Both have a melody which holds the first note for four beats before ascending two steps in a modal scale, holding each note for two (or so) beats before returning to the original pitch (or another lower pitch). This pattern repeats and escalates. The music for both is in the same key. Underworld choose a more refined sound for 'Sunshine', keeping the melody in the strings, possibly to suggest the purity of space or the presence of the divine, while Howard went with a much more grinding, almost brutal, sound for 'I Am Legend', especially in the very close dissonance of the choral work, possibly to suggest the anger and fear the protagonist lives with and the monstrous beings he hides from.

I've watched these trailers gobs. At first I was sure the same composer had worked on both movies. Then I was sure one of these guys will sue the other. See if you can't hear the similarities. The music in the 'Sunshine' trailer starts about 48 seconds in. The music in the 'I Am Legend' trailer starts almost immediately. Enjoy. They're good trailers.

I Am Legend. Music by James Newton Howard (music starts immediately)



Sunshine. Music by Underworld (music starts at 48 seconds)

Book Of Secrets Featurette

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Business

What Happens Next: A History of American Screenwriting by Marc Norman

Rob Long on The Strike and the web's effect on the future of The Biz and how we should all just get along -- and -- Marc Norman (author of What Happens Next: A History of American Screenwriting [who is also on the WGA negotiating committee]) on the history of...American screenwriting.


What Does A Movie Producer Do?

Scott Simon with Irwin Winkler re: producing 'Rocky' and 'Raging Bull', coming up from the mailroom at William Morris, etc.

Jumper Trailer

Jumper

Hits the web


Saturday, December 08, 2007

Friday, December 07, 2007

First 10 Minutes

Walk Hard

IGN has the first 10 minutes of 'Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story'. Another one from the Apatow factory that looks like a winner.


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Speechless #19

I like this one a lot. I mean...Tim Robbins... From the series running on DHD.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

What's A Spy Fly?

Here's a clip from 'The Golden Compass'

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Snow Day

Photo by Alan Green

It snowed in Seattle yesterday. Photo by Alan Green


The Key To Reserva

A beautiful commercial for Freixenet sparkling wine shot a la Hitchcock by Martin Scorsese. When Scorsese does Hitch you can't help but win. Camera work is very authentic and arrests your attention right off the bat. The acting style is dated and authentic. The music is the same -- the real deal by Herrmann -- with that signature underlying pulse accented by dramatic outbursts from the strings. Of course, Thelma Schoonmaker's editing clicks.

I feel a little guilty posting the YouTube video but, it's there and Freixenet probably arranged to have it put there, so... Nod to the ever well-informed Anne Thompson. Crack a bottle of Freixenet and enjoy.


Friday, November 30, 2007

When Cats Attack

Walk Hard Clip

Okay. Is this clip both funny and well executed? I thought they stopped doing that.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Continuing Evolution Of Torture Porn

Untraceable

'Saw' was probably the first torture porn flick. It was followed by 'Hostel', simply a variation on a theme. After that came a series of imitations and sequels, each one doing progressively worse business. Well, let's face it. These flicks were getting a bit on-the-nose. Been there, done that. Hollywood took the hint and created a new type of movie -- the thinking man's torture porn, gussied up with top-drawer production value and (what I'm sure is) sharp writing that hits every turning point with snap to spare.

This is the first trailer I've seen for 'Untraceable', a glossy looking psych-thriller with Diane Lane directed by Gregory Hoblit. Movie is about a killer who imprisons people to be elaborately killed on a website which is...untraceable. Lane is the head of a team which tracks cyber-criminals, who becomes a target herself.

In the above still a man is restrained in the middle of multiple banks of heat lamps. He is being televised live on the internet. The more people that hit the site the more heat lamps are turned on. The text at the bottom of the screen reads '...the more that watch, the faster he cooks'.

That's right. This man is, apparently, depicted as being cooked alive while thousands of people watch online. Told you torture porn was here to stay. (Some observers breathed a sigh of relief when 'Captivity' did so badly, claiming the gorn fad had run its course). Sorry...I don't mean to gloat, but this fad ain't going away.

Untraceable

I don't know if I necessarily think it's a bad thing. The public craves increasingly more violent movies to numb them to an increasingly violent world. Who is to blame for all the sick headlines? Well, us, I guess. Society feeds on it. Every generation becomes more inured to violence, even as it evolves into stranger and more graphic expressions, whether it be on the nightly news or at the local movie theater matinee. An inescapable cycle.

I recently wondered how Hollywood would manage infuse fresh blood into the genre. Things were looking grim indeed for the torture set. Even hardcore fans were taking a pass, leaving movies like 'Captivity' high and dry. Have to give them credit. Rather than creating another watered-down copy of a copy, the torture-fest of 'Untraceable' is pretty original -- it's made public, brought to you, and me, and anyone else with the ubiquitous internet connection. We even have the opportunity to actively participate. Now, don't judge. While hitting the site increases the level of torture inflicted on the victim, doing so would appeal to both the sadist and the compassionate. The cruelest of us would hit the site to inflict pain, while the most angelic would do so to put the poor slob out of his misery. You got to admit that's got built-in cool factor.

Makes me wonder what could possibly be next. What twisted version of this bizarre escapist fantasy could follow suit? In case Hollywood is running out of cool new cutting-edge storylines, here's an idea for the folks in Tinsel Town (feel free to use this): A game show where contestants allow themselves to be tortured with increasing severity in order to win prizes. Sort of like Fear Factor, except it would be called 'Torture Factor'.

How about this: A national lottery where the winner gets hundreds of millions but only if s/he agrees to be tortured in some gruesome manner. (Of course, they would be guaranteed to survive -- I mean, who would agree to be tortured to death. That would be stupid).

Let's see. How about: In a world where violence and crime is out of control, criminals are sentenced to torture instead of imprisonment or death. (I like this one. It has a ring to it).

Um...wait. Give me a minute. How about: A genetically engineered virus escapes from a lab. The infected torture themselves to death. (Okay, maybe we're not ready for that yet. A 'Torture-Comedy'...the Tor-Com. Give it ten years).

Untraceable

I guess we'll just have to wait and see. Whatever form or structure is next in the torture porn evolution I'm sure it will be wicked. Granted, there will be those inevitable gore-fests for the brutish and literal-minded amongst us who simply want to see people tortured in a basement, abandoned warehouse, or other such run of the mill torture chamber. Let's hope up and coming screenwriters will find ways of making torture inventive and entertaining.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Solution To WGA Strike, Or, Waiting For Season 7


Late Show writers on strike


Golden Compass Sneak Peek

Usually, this kind of fantasy flick is just a series of effects-driven set pieces with little story of any depth. But, check this clip out. Although obviously made accessible to kids, the energy here is subtle and intelligent. If the whole picture is as rich as this clip, 'The Golden Compass' will be a must-see. Have to say -- didn't quite expect this. Dakota Blue Richards (how's that for the name of a future movie star) has no acting experience -- she does a great job here.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Black Rose Chapter 7

Mrs. Marcinka Climbs the Stairs

Mrs. Marcinka stands in a beam of sunlight coming through the large window in the stairwell landing between the fourth and fifth floors.

Wide-eyed and slack-jawed she stares at the door at the top of the stairs. She tries to remember why she is standing here, but can't. It doesn't disturb her though -- her memory had become so unreliable lately -- she was accustomed to these lapses. In fact, the thing she remembered most from the past several days was a vague sense of unease, as if there was always someone else was in the room with her. It was worse at night, and the lack of sleep only sharpened her nervousness. On the rare occasions when she did manage to sleep, it was a quick nap during the day, usually when it rained. Her dreams were always the same -- Isabelle was sitting in a chair a few feet away, watching her sleep. She didn't say or do anything, just sat there, watching calmly. When Mrs. Marcinka woke she would look at the chair where Isabelle had been in the dream. It was empty, of course. Every time. But, M wasn't satisfied and, even though she was fully awake, she would search the apartment looking for that girly...Isabelle. 'She had to be here', M would think. 'I don't remember letting her in the apartment, but she's here'. M would approach a closed door and hesitate before turning the knob. What would she say to Isabelle? M would rehearse some stilted dialogue, then open the door, wearing a false expression. 'Oh. There you are, Izzy', M was ready to say. The room would be empty and it always came as a surprise. M was so sure, she had been so sure...


Read the rest


Daazo

I found this site called Daazo where you can distribute short films. Here's a documentary about an animation school in Serbia called 'Other Colors'.

Runnin' Down A Dream

Tom Petty and Peter Bogdanoavich

Here's Tom Petty and Peter Bogdanovich with Scott Simon on Weekend Edition about their new documentary Runnin' Down a Dream.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Ridley Scott On The Treatment

Ridley Scott

I've been a fan of Ridley Scott since I saw 'Blade Runner'. (I had no idea who had directed the movie or who Scott was, but I had become a big fan -- I think not only of BR, but of movies made with visual panache). Here's a great interview with Elvis Mitchell on The Treatment. I especially like the discussion of the voiceover work and planned definitive version of 'Blade Runner' on DVD.

They also talk about how Scott started directing commercials. Here's a couple:

Mac 1984

Chanel No. 5

And here's one I'll bet you've never seen -- The Hovis 'Bike' Advert

Monday, November 19, 2007

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Beowulf Clip



If you haven't run out to see 'Beowulf', here's a clip.

Late Show Writers Keep Their Sense Of Humor

How the WGA strike is affecting Rupert Jee

Perks of the WGA picket line

The striking writers at The Late Show keep us up to date on things at their blog.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

WGA Strike's Affect On Webisodes

Sarah McBride at WSJ reports on the potential the WGA strike has to boost interest in webisodes -- the new online short-form movie/TV show. I think it's a bit optimistic, but you never know. If major Hollywood writers start penning webisodes they might catch lightning in a bottle and create a new fresh type of episodic movie-thing that draws an audience...like a serialized Blair Witch, except with reproducible results. Channel after channel, oh, sorry -- I mean site after site of cool cutting-edge shows that you watch whenever you're in the mood, that last 5-20 minutes, with no commercials, that you can pause or watch again, or see a whole 'season' at one time, or whatever.

There's already gobs of sites with original shorts and webisodes. There's FunnyorDie, Blip.tv, Spike, Fear.net, and GhostHousePictures -- and one or two (hundred) more.

Well, all these shows have to be written. From WSJ:

Some writers are indeed contemplating making the jump to the Web. Striking outside the Disney studio last week, Ed Bernero, chief writer for "Criminal Minds," talked a good game about the online future. "If we can't reach a deal [with the studios], I'll just call Google or Yahoo or one of those companies and make a deal myself," Mr. Bernero says.

So, is there money to be made by the writers?

Online video companies are hungry for more professional material than what typically arrives in over-the-transom videos.

Could be. Can a WGA scribe write webisodes without incurring the wrath of the guild?

Some writers believe strike rules preclude them from writing for anybody, even if it isn't studio content. But a spokesman for the guild said the rules don't prohibit members from writing for new media for companies that haven't signed agreements with the guild. "We encourage members, however, to consider trying to cover their new-media services by having the employer sign a made-for-new-media agreement," the spokesman said, "and we will continue signing such agreements even during [a strike]."

Would it be worth it? I think so. There's a lot of schlock online, but I've seen an increase in the level of craft of these webisodes lately. Like Goodnight Burbank. It's a little too 'TV' for me, but well done -- I can see this show holding a viewer's interest.

If any webisode demonstrates the potential of online movie/TV content it's Quarterlife. This show is nicely paced, shot, and edited, and the acting is very good. Quarterlife is a 36-episode show produced by Edward Zwick (Traffic, The Last Samurai, Blood Diamond) and Marshall Herskovitz (thirtysomething, Legends of the Fall, Blood Diamond).

The pedigree of these two producers says something about the future of original online content.

Here's episode 1 of Quarterlife.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

More Top-Drawer WGA Strike Coverage

WGA strike 2007.  photo by Chris Pizzello/Reuters

Photo: Reuters/Chris Pizzello

Here's Shane Stranahan's continuing coverage of the WGA strike.


Mike Newell Re: Love In The Time Of Cholera

Javier Bardem in Love in the Time of Cholera

You know...I thought I had never seen Javier Bardem in a movie, but I have. He was Felix, the killer/showrunner in 'Collateral'. Very good stuff. Honestly, his performance is my favorite thing in 'Collateral'. Well, there's Daniel, played by Barry Shabaka Henley -- I really liked that guy, too. I bet you're wondering who I'm talking about.

This is Henley as the jazz club owner with Tom Cruise as Vincent the killer, and Jamie Foxx as Max the hapless taxi driver:

Collateral

This scene springs a great reversal on you when it turns out that Vincent not only knows Daniel, he's been sent to kill him. Poor Max, the audience surrogate, flips out. Here we all are thinking this is about listening to some cool jazz and talking about Miles Davis and turns out this is about killing someone who's been telling you about Miles Davis. Damn, man, that's harsh.

Once Vincent has redefined the clubbing experience the suspense pegs the meter as Max and Daniel (and the audience) wait to see what will happen next. This scene is more satisfying than the straight action sequences in 'Collateral'.

And here's Bardem playing a man used to getting his way trying to cope with losing control:

Collateral

Those are nice stills -- thank you Michael Mann. Bardem is just so real here. I have to admit I forgot I was watching a movie (and I very rarely do that). So, anyway -- I didn't even know I had seen Bardem in a movie. I mean, he's pretty hard to recognize in this scene, yes?

Here's how I'll think of him for a long time to come. You know what picture I'm going to post. The Picture. The one you've seen so many times:

Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men

That's right. Here's Bardem as the single-minded guy out to get his stolen money back in 'No Country for Old Men'. Nice still -- thank you Ethan and Joel Coen.

This guy is so good...he should be in just about everything. I just wish I could recognize him. I guess that's my problem.

What was I talking about? Oh, yes. Mike Newell directed Bardem in 'Love in the Time of Cholera' (see still at top in which Bardem is unrecognizable as the sensitive in-love guy, Florentino Ariza. Nice still -- thank you Mike Newell). Newell talks about the movie and takes a couple intelligent caller questions at Talk of the Nation. He calls the novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez 'sacred text' -- not your average fluff interview.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Where The Real Money Is. Sorry.

Where Is The Real Money. Wait.
Where's The Real Money?

Everybody knows the real money isn't made at the box office anymore. So, where's the writer's cut of the real money?


Beowulf Featurette

Beowulf storyboard

Here's a look at the making of 'Beowulf' with comments by director Robert Zemeckis, production designer Doug Chiang, and writers Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary. Some cool storyboards, and a look at some very nice use of 3-D.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Rocketboom Covers War Dance

Joanne Colan talks with Douglas Egar, the executive producer of the documentary 'War Dance', about the Ugandan children who are abducted to be soldiers and sex slaves. Here is the write-up from Wardance.org:

War/Dance is a new documentary movie about three brutalized children of Northern Uganda and their dream of musical expression. The documentary is set amidst the violence of the Lord's Resistance Army (L.R.A.), who kidnap sleeping children to abuse them and force them into rebellion and murder, sometimes even murder of their own families. Despite the horror, War/Dance has captured a beautiful story about the epic, unbreakable spirits of these children.

War Dance

The War Dance official site.


5 Clips From The Mist


MTV has a few new clips from 'The Mist'. Two things are immediately apparent: This movie will make gobs of money, and Frank Darabont is not as comfortable directing as he is writing.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Interview With Tonight Show Head Writer

WGA strike 2007

Photo: REUTERS/Chris Pizzello


Joe Medeiros, head writer on The Tonight Show, talks with Shane Stranahan. Shane is 15 years old and lives walking distance from WGA picket lines. So, he walked up and got an interview. If only all interviews were this good. Nod to Nikke Finke


Seattle 11/9/07

Photo by Alan Green

Photo by Alan Green


Redstone vs Geffen

Sumner Redstone and David Geffen

Vanity Fair has some light reading.


No Country For Coens' Characters

Photo by Finlay MacKay

Finlay MacKay's work at NYT Sunday Magazine


Best Character Of 2007

Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men

'No Country for Old Men', based on Cormac McCarthy's novel, will certainly be one of the best movies of the year. I've watched every scrap of footage from this movie I've been able to get my eyes on and I get the feeling this piece is cut with the same precision as the Coen Brothers' earlier gems 'Fargo', and 'Blood Simple' -- cinematically secure with lean dialogue that breathes on its own and characters that can't be taken lightly.

The character I like the best is the killer -- Anton Chigurh, portrayed beautifully by Javier Bardem. He reminds me of the shark in 'Jaws' except he is far more compelling. That shark simply killed whoever had the bad luck to be in the vicinity, while Chigurh hunts a specific target (and ignores bystanders). It's this application of intellect that makes him so frightening -- he has a motive, while a shark does not.

Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men

Chigurh engages victims in a game of chance, flipping a coin and asking them to 'call it'. He kills with an especially brutal weapon, a gun which fires compressed air, which is both gruesome and intimate -- one must be quite close to their target to kill with such a device. Bardem convinces. Chigurh's voice is flat and lifeless but his eyes betray roiling emotions that must be controlled (he is not crazy after all, simply a man on a quest to satisfy a vendetta, and to lose control of his emotions wouldn't do). Let's be clear: Chigurh is sociopathic, not psychopathic.

The Coens and Bardem have brought this character to life, made him a very real thing. They've done so well I fully expect to turn a corner and see Chigurh walking up the street toward me, his eyes fixed and flat like a shark's. He deserves his own award. I propose a 'Best Character' statuette for Anton Chigurh -- although I wouldn't want to be the one that hands it to him.


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Funny Games

When I first heard about this remake of 'Funny Games' I thought it would be a superficial psych-thriller riding on the coat-tails the Saw/Hostel ilk -- I called it torture porn brought to your living room. But, this clip changes my mind. Naomi Watts delivers (as she always does), and the direction by Michael Haneke (who wrote and directed the 1997 original) is crisp -- this guy knows how to handle actors. Haneke also knows story. The relationship between antagonist and protagonist is anything but mindless -- it's sadistic, yes, but not mindless; there's more intimacy in this clip than is found in many love scenes. Haneke's script looks like a winner. This may be a true psychological horror movie -- more in the vein of 'Silence of the Lambs'.

It looks like this will be a success on DVD. Now the only question is will it succeed at the box office. I think that depends mostly on the release date. This is one to watch.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

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