Elvis Mitchell talks with Quentin Tarantino (pictured above with Robert Rodriguez who directed 'Planet Terror') about his part of the double-feature 'Grindhouse', the pulp/sleaze thrill-ride he describes as a "high-octane slasher film at 200 miles per hour" -- 'Death Proof'.
Saturday, March 31, 2007
Nikki Finke reports on the super-secret test screening of 'The Simpsons Movie' in Portland, Oregon. If you don't have time to read the whole thing, here are my notes: First half is brilliant, second half is very good.
Friday, March 30, 2007
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
By now you've all heard that the Post Office is using R2D2 mail boxes. But, wait! That's not all! Just when you thought mailing a letter couldn't be more fun the USPS announces the arrival of the new Star Wars stamp collection. Here's the Darth Vader stamp:
Nice. I like that expression. He seems to be telling us, 'Search your feelings! You want to lick the back of me and stick me to a letter. You know it to be true'. And, I do. What a perfect way to send a birthday card to a friend, or perhaps, Christmas tidings to a distant family member. It's so warm and fuzzy...in a hard/shiny sort of way.
But, what's this? What's with that price? Forty-one cents! No freaking way. Yes, folks the ever clever USPS is using the beloved Star Wars imagery to divert our attention from the fact that the price of a stamp will now be $0.41. Okay, you think this is an outrage and I don't blame you one bit. 'I'm never using the Postal Service ever again', you say. 'I'm just gonna buy one or maybe two complete sets of Star Wars stamps on my way home from work tomorrow and that will be the last business I ever throw their way...ever', you're thinking.
Sure. That's justifiable, but wait until you see what the Postal Service is planning to spend all that extra money on. I have it on good authority that on April 1st the USPS will announce that their new space-based headquarters is open for business.
Pictured above is the new Orbiting Postal Service Ops Center, or, as it's known to the boys down at HQ, OPSOC (this shot is from a few months ago when it was still under construction). When fully operational this space station will be able to coordinate mail delivery to the entire planet more efficiently than has ever before been imagined -- even by the most gung-ho mid-level executive.
But, wait! There's more! This orbiting high-tech behemoth is capable of monitoring the skies for killer asteroids. If a civilization-ending hunk of rock should come too close to our peace-loving planet OPSOC will utilize its main weapon (already fully-functional, it would seem), and blow the offending projectile into a million tiny bits -- thusly:
Nice. But, wait! There's more. Not only will OPSOC be the new home for the United States Postmaster General and the new Global Defense Platform, it will be the new Main Postal Distribution Center from which will be launched the latest in mail delivery vehicles which the USPS has dubbed the 'Two-Pronged Ultra Fast Ship', or T-PUFS for short, seen here.
This ship will be able to deliver millions of First-Class letters to any destination on Earth within 3-5 business days. Don't believe such speeds are possible? Just look at this shot from an early test flight:
That is really fast. See what a price hike of 2 cents per stamp buys? Worth it, right? Sure it is. And how does all this express service begin? That's right. By simply dropping a letter in one of the above-mentioned R2 mail boxes. Couldn't be easier, right. Remember, watch for the official announcement April 1st!
Oh, and may the force be with you...and all that crap.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Monday, March 26, 2007
The crew over at SunshineDNA were kind enough to send me this image from the upcoming sci-fi thriller 'Sunshine'. The person who sent it, he/she identifies him/herself only as 'sunshinedna', feels the above image represents the scene better than this one (see my comment):
sunshinedna could be right, their choice does seem to represent the scene better, however I still think my choice represents the movie better -- it has that quietude thing going. Either way it's all good.
For those of you who may not have visited the official 'Sunshine' site, it's loaded with material and well worth exploring. If you haven't seen the trailer yet, you're missing out -- this section of the official site has a bunch of trailers, interviews, and clips.
Many thanks for the excellent image. Love the movie already.
Writer Billy Mernit (Imagine Me and You, due in bookstores next year [and, I'm betting Billy will be working on a screenplay adaptation soon]) explains how Chris Rock's 'I Think I Love My Wife' is different from mainstream comedies, but similar to hard-to-explain dramedies by Rohmer, but not too similar or too different, and the (probable) reasons for the above-mentioned similarities/differences.
Also, Billy explains the difference between writing in 'Screenwriter' mode and 'Novelist' mode.
It's all good stuff.
Andrew Kasch over Blog Critics Magazine was invited by Fox to view the first 28 minutes of '28 Weeks Later', the follow-up to the very satisfying sci-fi horror '28 Days Later'. Here is Andrew's rundown.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
This follow-up to the blazing good 'Night Watch' is breaking records in Russia since its January release and is due in the US June 1. English language trailer site. Russian language trailer site (17 versions). This is part II of a trilogy.
In this episode, a girl projects moving pictures onto buildings as she rides past them on a bicycle equipped with a laptop and a video projector. Rocketboom video blog for March 13, 2007.
For me, it was that eye -- the red sensor through which HAL watched (maybe 'monitored' is a better term) the world. I loved how that camera lens represented HAL so well -- malicious in the most subtle way due to its red color and unblinking stare -- yet passive aggressive, suggesting that, if there is any tension, it's your fault because (look into my eye) I'm as calm as can be. It's your fault you human being.
Danny Boyle's new movie, 'Sunshine', strikes me as similar to '2001' in that it's a very visual movie and has the same quietude about it. The trailers I've seen promise a movie that's dazzling to watch but also inward-looking, philosophical, and designed to make people think and generate some discussion (I think it will).
But, I've notice something that strikes me as a bit peculiar. There's one still that seems to be representing this movie -- somewhat strange for a film with so many incredible effects-driven sequences. That image is the one of Cillian Murphy looking out of some kind of portal. It's effects-free, does not imply action, and is meditative, and thus is not a natural choice for a sexy new sci-fi thriller. His expression is hard to read -- perhaps it's fear, perhaps hope, or resignation. But, one thing is sure -- it's a quiet, thoughtful composition. Yet, this image is the one generally selected to represent 'Sunshine' on websites and blogs. (This supports the growing notion that second-tier online content [i.e. the blogger] affects what plays well and what just sits there). I can't believe this image is the one the producers and the guys in Marketing wanted to rep this movie. I mean, wouldn't they prefer the one below? Nice -- cool, shows how much money was spent. But, it doesn't have the quiet humanistic power of the one of Murphy above.
Why would the image of Murphy be preferred? I'm guessing it's the basic difference between the world of the sixties and society today. I'm guessing 'Sunshine' has a much more brass-tacks approach to philosophy than Kubrick's masterpiece and is designed for an audience that has to deal with problems that did not exist on the same scale or had the immediacy in the sixties as they do today. 'Sunshine' seems more real than the intellectual and somewhat sterile '2001', and I think this is exactly what today's headline-weary audience is looking for -- quiet reassurance.
'2001' is certainly a great accomplishment. The effects are astounding, especially considering when they were created. That story, though… Just a bit off-putting -- it keeps even the most enthused viewer at arm's length. If 'Space Odyssey' were released today it couldn't connect with an audience. It's just too esoteric, especially that mind-bending ending. What would the average teenager today say when asked, 'So. What was 2001 about'?
Enter 'Sunshine'. With its unpretentious title, Rock-and-Roll effects, and (it would seem) a story that's both philosophical and has popular appeal. 'Sunshine' has a shot at becoming the new reference for sci-fi movies -- both fun and entertaining, and much talked-about for years to come. Right now, the online buzz is pegging the meter. 'Sunshine' looks like it will be a hit and have people arguing the meaning of life -- quite an accomplishment in today's market -- and I'm thinking that still of Cillian Murphy will become an iconic image for a new generation.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
There’s a certain kind of movie I really like. It clicks along with lots of energy, turns on a dime, and has visual panache. Director Antoine Fuqua produces this kind of work. In ‘Training Day’, starring Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke, every scene is shot with an easy confidence that is direct as well interesting and fresh. Fuqua’s camera is never quite where you expect it to be, and this yields a visual pop and drive missing in many films of the genre. The story isn’t fluff either -- each scene in 'Training Day' builds dramatic tension through Act II, and character arc rolls out well with a strong resolution in Act III.
The projects Mark Wahlberg chooses have solid story and clean lines. ‘The Italian Job’, starring Wahlberg and directed by F. Gary Gray, spins out with clean energy and visual snap, and has car chases that are of reference quality. The sequel, ‘The Brazilian Job’, due in 2008, is getting good buzz and will be a must-own DVD. Wahlberg has, somewhat against the odds, become a go-to action headliner, playing the everyman who (somewhat against the odds) wins out in tough situations in ways audiences can connect with.
Lorenzo Di Bonaventura has similar tastes in movies. He shepherds projects that have a straight-ahead energy like ‘The Matrix’, ‘The Perfect Storm’, and ‘The Departed’. Each one of these stories is a good example of ‘painting your protag into a corner’ and forcing them to find a way out. These plots propel their characters headlong toward an unambiguous fate, and leaves audiences satisfied.
Di Bonaventura, Wahlberg, and Fuqua are the team behind the new thriller, ‘Shooter’, which opened this week. Wahlberg plays a Marine sniper who is enlisted to advise how an assassination of the president might be attempted from a range of over a mile. However, he finds himself on the run after the president is killed and he is framed for the shooting. The trailers I've seen have that live camera you expect from Fuqua and the story seems solid. This should do fairly well at the box office, and have excellent DVD sales.
Having a main character who is so talented with a rifle he can hit a target a mile away seems apt for these three filmmakers. Their talent for storytelling has the same kind of precision.
For anyone who may not know -- Anne Thompson is now at Variety. Her new blog is called Thompson on Hollywood. New digs, new name, just as good as ever.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
'Our arrows will blot out the sun'. 'Okay then. We'll fight in the shade'. Did they really say that? According to Herodotus and Plutarch, and Victor Davis Hanson, they did. While some historical liberties are taken in "300", other events are depicted accurately. Here's some history sliced thin.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
...A serial killer like the ones in the movies. That, at least, is what the main character in "Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon" tells the documentary crew who follow him as he plans a killing spree. The movie, directed by Scott Glosserman, premiered at SXSW in 2006 and won the Audience Award at the Gen Art Film Festival the same year, and opened in limited release last week.
Glosserman has been committed to movies from the start, moving to LA to work at CAA straight out of college, then quitting that gig to pursue a career. Indiewire has an interview with Glosserman -- I like how he became interested in filmmaking:
We had a terrible thunderstorm come through when I was in Jr. High. The storm left trees down, power outages, stunned birds, no school [and] lots of structural damage. I went out with my dad's new home video camera and I "reported" from the scene, interviewing neighbors and the PEPCO guy. I loved it!
Another success story from the 'just do it' school. You can read the complete interview at Indiewire.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Mernit's guide to screenwriting, Writing the Romantic Comedy, has gotten lots of good comments and his blog Living the Romantic Comedy should be a regular stop for the aspiring writer. There's good insight into the process, and, if you post a comment, Billy replies.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Robert Evans brought us Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown, Marathon Man, as well as other great movies. His honest tell-all "The Kid Stays In The Picture" was a lot of fun.
Evans is currently working on another book "Kid Notorious". VanityFair.com has an audio excerpt of Evans narrating "Kid Notorious" (one full hour). Evans' voice is gravelly, confident, and relaxed and arrests your attention immediately. VF also has video of Evans prepping audio for "Kid Notorious". This stuff is great -- you'll love the story of Val Kilmer's marriage proposal to Evans, and Evans noting there were too many 'fuckings' in the last audio take.
This guy looks great, sounds great. If I'm that sharp at his age I'll count myself lucky.
The violence of the lambs! Flocking to theaters near you! Trailer! Site! Weta Workshop -- the animatronic and special effects shop behind the movie!
This is going to be a hit! You can tell because of all the exclamation points!
On the Record...Online New Media Masters Panel Part 1
Special Episode: On the Record...Online host Eric Schwartzman moderates a "New Media Masters Panel" with Rob Barrett, GM, LATimes.com, Larry Gerbrandt, GM, Nielsen Analytics, Claude Brodessor, NPR's "The Business" and TMZ.com blogger Kevin Roderick, LAObserved.com. They share how the internet is changing the main stream media business, the future of print media and how industries are reacting to Google and YouTube.
04:16 - Larry Gerbrandt, Claude Brodessor, Kevin Roderick and Rob Barrett reveal their thoughts on new media, such as websites, blogs, podcasts and social networking platforms, and how it is changing the way they communicate.
18:30 - Roderick, Brodessor and Gerbrandt share where they get their news and which new or mainstream media outlets they consider influential.
25:24 - Brodessor on what organizations are now doing to counteract Google and YouTube from taking what some consider to be free content.
28:50 - Gerbrandt explores whether or not main stream media views Google as a friend or foe.
31:47 - Roderick reveals what the future of the print publishing business is in a world where people hunger for news at internet speed.
33:11 - Barrett on whether or not Google News is in breach of copyright violation for content siphoning.
36:26 - Gerbrandt shares his thoughts on DVR and TiVo usage.
39:45 - Brodessor talks about the "lazy factor" of DVR users vs. Madison Avenue advertising.
42:38 - Roderick talks about Steve Jobs and Apple managing to escape criticism in an industry where others such as, Bill Gates, are viewed more objectively by the media and the industry.
45:43 - End.
NYT has coverage of the online movie industry. A.O. Scott looks at the democratizing effect of internet movie content and the possibility of first run movies being made available online.
I went over to jaman. There's a lot of potential in this approach but the tech side is not up to speed yet. I watched a few minutes of a Kung Fu movie -- the picture was very small and had modest resolution, but the idea of being able to download a movie is still pretty appealing.
The technical difficulties associated with downloading huge files (a 90-minute feature downloaded from jaman.com is about 1.3GB) will be lessened when the quad-core chip becomes available at consumer prices. Add the solid-state drive (SSD. Should be available before the end of the year) and downloads become far easier, with no crashes or freezes.
The last element needed to make movie downloads a mainstream choice is internet connection speed. Right now the max transfer rate is about 1.5 megs/second. (I know your cable company advertises speeds up to 6 megs but that's not a reality. Usually the transfer rate hovers around 400 kb/sec -- that's less than 1/10th the 6 meg/sec rate). At 1.5 mb/sec a movie would take about 1000 seconds to download -- that's pushing 20 minutes (under perfect conditions with no freezes and a hypothetical max transfer rate). At a more realistic transfer rate a movie would take up to 10 times 20 minutes to download -- not very palatable.
There are two possible fixes: Nationwide installation of high-speed optical cable, or, establishing high-speed satellite feeds. Unfortunately, neither of these is on the horizon, but the satellite option seems most realistic to me and 2 mb/sec transfer rate is currently in place.
For aspiring filmmakers the news couldn't be better. In a few years all you'll need to make a movie is a digital camera and a site that will accept your upload and, baddabing, you've got your first feature produced and distributed. The two major differences: You won't need to buy thousands of feet of film (or worry about the costs of processing, and editing), and you won't need a distribution deal to get your movie into theaters.
The online movie download industry may be in its infancy but I think it represents the way people will get their movies in the not-too-distant future. I mean, it wasn't that long ago we listened to music on AM radio and 8-track tapes, and watched movies only at the theater or on TV (until the advent of the VHS tape, that is). Stay tuned...
Saturday, March 17, 2007
...In reviewing "300" last week, for example, A.O. (Tony) Scott of the New York Times, said the movie was "as violent as 'Apocalypto' and twice as stupid."
That comment reflected the consensus among critics not only on "300" but also on "Ghost Rider," "Wild Hogs," "Norbit" and the other movie miscreants unleashed on the public since Oscar time.
The situation underscores yet again the disconnect between the cinematic appetites of critics vs. those of the popcorn crowd. The kids who storm their multiplexes to catch the opening of "Night at the Museum" don't give a damn what the critics think ("Museum" has passed $525 million worldwide)...
Have to agree with this. Most kids simply don't care what movie critics have to say (and probably don't read their comments, anyway). 10 seconds into a trailer you know whether you will consider seeing any given movie, and if anyone's comments mean anything to you it will be those of your friends, not of movie critics.
If a critic wants to point out the failings of a movie like "300", fine. But, by all accounts this movie is very violent, has way-cool effects, and is filled to the brim with comic book bravura and bubble gum philosophy -- exactly what the core audience is looking for. To criticize "300" because it has on-the-nose dialogue or lacks complex subtext or theme, or is 'twice as stupid' as another movie, is akin to criticizing an apple because it's not an orange. While it may not be what the critics wished it was (a layered, subtle, compelling war drama that will be remembered as a fine example of cinematic execution) "300" is exactly what it was crafted to be -- big box office eye-candy for kids.
The funny thing is when critics trash these movies it serves as a ringing endorsement for the targeted audience and, as such, rather than dissuade anyone from seeing these romps, a critic's vociferous and articulate thrashing merely functions as free advertising -- they are describing precisely how and to what degree the movie delivers what its producers designed it to.
Mr. Scott calling "300" twice as stupid as "Apocalypto" falls on the cheap side. This is code for "I'm pissed off that I had to sit through this and I'm just going to take shots" -- low-ball, especially coming from a writer for The New York Times. This type of comment only alienates the reader and makes the critic seem tired of his job.
So far "300" has done great business and the DVD action should be stellar. If anything, the poor reviews "300" received only helped it along while making those who issued these reviews look more snobby, disconnected, and irrelevant than ever. It would appear this round has gone to the fluff eye-candy Saturday popcorn matinee effects-driven multiplex special.
Bart wraps his comments by saying, "As for the critics, they should consider a sabbatical until September, when movies aimed at their quadrant magically reappear." Sounds like good advice.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Um, okay. I'll do the same. You can option any of my stuff (most of which is posted here) for 2% of the budget of the movie made from it.
Life: In the first movie you directed, Head of State, you were president of the United States. Is this country ready for an African American president?
Rock: It's ready for a retarded president, why wouldn't it be ready for an African American president?
Rock on... Complete interview
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
How does Frank Miller's take on the standoff between the Spartans and Persians in 480 BC, "300", stand up to that of the 'Father of History', Herodotus? Author Victor Davis Hanson (The Western Way of War) compares and contrasts Miller's stylized spin with what actually happened on Talk of the Nation (16:51).
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Monday, March 12, 2007
These were followed by "What Women Want", which drew an audience but seemed to try too hard. She then had a small part in "One Night at McCool's", which I have not seen because the reviews were so bad across the board -- and, apparently, her scenes were not used -- possibly a good thing for her sake.
Just when it seemed her career had taken off she slips from view. The only thing I've seen her in recently is a publicity still (sorry I haven't seen the movie yet) from Emilio Estevez's "Bobby".
But, wait! Perhaps it's too soon to ask 'whatever happened to' just yet. Hunt is in post-production of her first directorial effort, "Then She Found Me", which she also wrote, based on the novel by the same name by Elinor Lipman. Hunt stars along with Bette Midler, Colin Firth, and Matthew Broderick.
Hunt spent years trying to get this project off the ground. Writing, directing, and starring in your own movie after years of setup...that's got to be as good as it gets. Looking forward to "Then She Found Me".
It seems Mr. Zombie (I don't know him well enough to call him 'Rob') is out to make a horror movie with a conscience saying, "It's never random killing for no reason."
The director also plans a logical approach that was missing in the original. About the fact that Myers could drive in John Carpenter's classic original he says, "Michael Myers does not know how to drive in this movie, because that always bothered me. They would always play that off like someone must have given him lessons, but you know no one gave him lessons! He's in a maximum-security prison! So he doesn't drive."
Well. I like this guy. Straight-talking, easy-going...not the 'hidden agenda' type at all -- zombie-esque in the best sense. That thing with Myers driving always bothered me too, damn it! You tell 'em Mr. Zombie. You rock.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Yesbutnobutyes is having a contest. Come up with the best caption for this picture and win a big package of prizes...no wait -- win a huge sack of prizes...wait -- I don't know what the prize is. Head over and find out yourself.
I like the guy in the back row in the middle wearing the trunks under his mankini -- why so shy?
Chris Rock on his career: "It was just time. I like my movies, don't get me wrong. I'm fond of every one of them. But I don't have one that holds a candle to my stand-up."
Rick Kleffel tells us how the structure of "The Host", the new Korean horror sensation by director Bong Joon-ho, reverses the normal rules of suspense, setup, and payoff with 'amazing success', blending comedy and shocks in what he calls 'The Royal Tenenbaums vs. Godzilla'.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
- ► 2013 (568)
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- ► 2008 (424)
- The Treatment
- Simpsons Movie
- Top Secret Zombie Guide
- Guide For Frogs
- Collecting Sounds On The Street
- USPS: A New Hope
- Tough Talking Thompson
- Heist With Heart
- Iconic Image vs. Iconic Image
- TMZ Will Cover DC
- So. What's The Difference?
- 28 Weeks Later...
- Day Watch
- Moving Pictures Projected Onto Buildings
- An Icon Is Born
- Poland On Poland
- Hitting The Target
- Di Bonaventura
- Then We Shall Fight In The Shade
- Shaye's Mimzy
- What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?
- Digital 'Film'
- Getting The Bones Down
- Kid Notorious
- Black Sheep
- On The Record...Online
- Direct Access
- Cartoon Of The Day
- New Heights Of Irrelevance, Or, Apples And Oranges...
- The 2% Option
- Rock On The Presidency
- Miller vs Herodotus
- Waxman From ShoWest
- DVD Release Strategy
- Whatever Happened To...
- That's 'Mr. Zombie' To You
- Caption This!
- Best Movie Poster...Ever?
- I Think I Like My Movies
- Reinventing The Horror Movie
- Elvis Mitchell discusses "Zodiac".
- Vive Edith Piaf
- Movie Security
- Mira Nair
- The Treatment
- Tears Of The Black Tiger
- Zodiac Review
- ▼ March (49)