Monday, September 29, 2008

Revolutionary Road

I'm just getting into Richard Yates' novel Revolutionary Road. This is going to be a brutal read. The story is written with unaffected insight and objectivity. The kind that usually only comes decades after events, after the author has had time to process things enough to write about them honestly. I imagine Yates must have been driven by outrage as much as creativity in order to publish this novel in 1961.

Photo: cover of Richard Yates' novel Revolutionary Road

While the story is set in the 50s it could just as easily take place today. So many today are trapped in the same soul-killing jobs and lives as Frank and April Wheeler. So many today face the same daily compromises, frustrations, and embarrassments. Really, nothing has changed in five decades.

Sam Mendes brought Alan Ball's examination of suburban duplicity, 'American Beauty', to life with frightening aplomb. I'm sure he will do the same with Justin Haythe's script for 'Revolutionary Road'. The difference is Revolutionary Road is anchored in everyday reality. For that very reason, because it is concerned with the mundane, it's a much more frightening story.

Photo: still from Revolutionary Road

I can't think of two better actors than Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio for this story. I'm looking forward to this movie.

Seven Pounds

Why Have Teasers Been So Bad Lately?

I hadn't thought much of 'Australia' until I saw this latest trailer. We get a pretty good idea of the plot and, Nicole Kidman's character has appeal because she starts out so stand-offish, but warms up later. I'm not sure I've ever seen this from her. This type of character arc could be exactly what Kidman needs at this point.

Based on what I saw in the teasers for 'Australia' I wasn't looking forward to seeing this movie. I've changed my mind now, but it makes me wonder why my opinion was so low in the first place. Why was the teaser for 'Australia' so poor?

Lately, teasers have done more harm than good. 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' and now 'Australia' (and to a lesser extent, 'Revolutionary Road') all looked dull, or at least weren't compelling in their teasers, and all of them look far better in later trailers. The teasers fail completely. They seem to be constructed to inform the viewer that the movie is to be avoided. They're boring, unengaging, no fun. Lately, teasers have been just plain bad.

The problem is, once a potential audience gets a bad feeling about a movie it's an uphill battle to change their minds. If teasers are going to turn people off, studios would be better off not offering them. They create a lot of negative press and cast doubt as to whether the movie can succeed.

This is certainly what happened after the teaser and 20-minute amalgam for Curious Case. Bad buzz was everywhere after Telluride. It's fair to say that, rightly or not, Curious Case has a stigma to overcome as a result of teaser footage. The producers have done some good damage control with the latest trailer, but the question remains: Why shoot yourself in the foot with bad teasers in the first place?

Lately, teasers don't tease, entice, or make me want more -- they're just a turn off.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Curious Case On YouTube

It just looks so good I had to post it.

Last Light

Photo by Alan Green

Photo by Alan Green

I Google Myself

Oh, come on. Admit it. We all do it. It's natural. You've probably already done it today or, alternatively, are planning to do it later. When you get home. After dinner, maybe.

Curious Case Trailer

Photo: still from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Apple has a new hi-def trailer for 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' which is much more compelling than earlier teasers. Based on the first trailers I saw, I was not very confident in this picture. Here, though, Cate Blanchett is especially glowing (even more so than usual, if that's possible). Pitt comes off well -- not at all superficial or mannered, as might be expected in an effects-heavy production. We also get a hint at the thematic core of the story. Very nicely done.

New Spirit Trailer

I was starting to wonder if this movie even had a plot. This, finally, is something that takes shape.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Valkyrie Rollout

Photo: poster for Valkyrie

(Click poster for larger version)

I really don't get the poster. Wouldn't the tags "Many saw evil. They dared to stop it." be better as 'Many saw evil. A few dared to stop it'. I mean, as is, 'many' and 'they' refer to the same people. However, while many of Hitler's top officers (and the rest of the world) recognized he was a lunatic, only a very few dared to try to stop him. As such, while many saw, few dared -- the rest (of his officers) did nothing. 'Many' cannot equate to 'they'.

Also, the graphics don't quite do it. Cruise's character is in mid-stride, with a determined look. I don't really think that's very true to the attitude von Stauffenberg must have had in order to embark on an assassination attempt against Hitler. Certainly, it took commitment but Cruise's body language suggests an officer who is committed to rising in rank, not one who is setting out to kill the Fuhrer. Perhaps a more deliberate and introspective expression and different posture is called for.

The floor diagram of Hitler's secret headquarters doesn't really work either. Who is going to get that? How many people know the details of the assassination attempt? I think a different look for Cruise combined with simplifying the representation of the bombing attempt (like a briefcase [being placed under] a table) would improve the poster.

Also, red streak across the poster sort of looks like part of a swastika. That might not be a bad thing, but it really doesn't click either.

I do like this trailer, though. There's some nice looking footage.

And here are a couple production stills (click for larger images):

Photo: still from Valkyrie

Photo: still from Valkyrie

Stop Motion Piano Player

Light-Paint Piano Player from Ryan Cashman on Vimeo.

When I Grow Up...

...I want to be a simple Hollywood producer.

Keep It Simple

Photo: poster for Body of Lies

I see this poster and I immediately like it. It sums up what the movie is about. The character appears to be running away, (as opposed to chasing someone). He is facing (our) left and is moving to our left yet is placed poster-left, leaving the majority of empty space behind him where an unseen antagonist is giving chase.

If you look at what is behind the character all you see is out of focus highlights. This creates uncertainty and enhances the feeling one is being followed. It also lends more power to the antagonist. That is, the bad guy is frightening enough for the protagonist to run like hell despite the fact we can't see that anyone is giving chase.

The shot is done with a telephoto lens the way a sports photographer would cover an event, which creates an objective feel -- the viewer is watching from a distance (where it's safe), more of a disconnected observer, and is not an integral part of the action. This isolates the character from us making him appear more alone, more separated from anyone who might care or watch out for him. The telephoto lens also creates compression, which is the illusion that distant objects are the same distance as close ones. This ramps up the sense that the character is being chased because whatever is behind him appears closer than it really is -- a typical nightmare scenario.

The character's index finger is on the trigger of the pistol. A rather uncool thing considering the normal 'finger alongside the weapon, flat and off the trigger, very cool and benefiting from lots of training' look usually favored in the movies. This yields a gritty feel that conveys the gravity of the subject matter -- appropriate in the current environment. Of course, this may have been done simply to avoid having the character look as if he did not have an index finger on his right hand as it would not have been visible if it were flush against the far side of the weapon. Even if that was the case, the end result still works despite being a convenient side-effect.

Another effect that stands out is the use of vertical lines across the entire poster. These are the kind of lines you see if you look closely at a CRT video monitor.

Read the rest

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Snazzy W

The first trailers I saw for 'W' were boring. It's pretty bad when you can barely stand to watch a 2-minute teaser. Now, they've taken another approach, recut the footage, and come up with something that looks like the coolest fish out of water/buddy-comedy to come along in a while. The tagline could be "What would happen if that doof you knew in college became president?"

Monday, September 22, 2008

Smart, Very Smart

Photo: still from Quantum of Solace

007 will not introduce himself as "Bond, James Bond" in the upcoming 'Quantum of Solace'. Well. So much for contrived passive aggressiveness. This is a good thing. It's such a dated reference. I mean, can you imagine Matt Damon's character introducing himself as 'Bourne, Jason Bourne'. (Holy cow. Jason Bourne and James Bond have the same initials)!

And so Bond evolves. Apparently, however, they still use plenty of blood, fake blood in the production.

Bolt Clip

The trailer for 'Bolt' makes it look like a retread but this clip is a lot of fun. If the whole movie is this imaginative 'Bolt' will be a hit. Disney needs to put together a better trailer...or just release more clips.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Based On A Novel

Photo: Cover of Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

NPR has a review of Richard Yates' novel Revolutionary Road by writer Anthony Giardina. A movie of the same name starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio directed by Sam Mendes will open in January.

Revolutionary Road

It looks like Sam Mendes cuts to the bone once again. 'American Beauty' is one of my favorites -- a bald expose of derailed life found behind the locked doors of suburbia. 'Revolutionary Road', if anything, is more honest, less fanciful than 'American Beauty'. If it's possible, this one is a more direct indictment.

I have to go get the novel (of the same title) that the movie is based on, written by Richard Yates.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Aniston And Biel

Jennifer Aniston talking with a Canadian outfit, Tribute Entertainment Media Group, about 'Management' at TIFF.

And here's Jessica Biel regarding 'Easy Virtue'. It's pretty incredible how much stuff is on YouTube. I just can't see knowing about these interviews before the internet came along.

Easy Virtue

Anglophiles, take note.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Stills From The Set

Photo: still from set of Coraline by David Strick

David Strick has some cool stills from the set of 'Coraline'.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bad Guy/Good Guy

Here's a clip from 'Eagle Eye' that shows (part of) what I assume is Billy Bob Thornton's metamorphosis from antagonist to protagonist. Thornton plays an investigator who, initially at least, assumes Shia LeBeouf is lying when he claims he was framed by some mysterious group that planted weapons and money in his apartment to make it look like he is a terrorist. (I really hate when that happens).

Problem is, now this is all speculation (I would never spill the beans if I knew I was right), Thornton's character would be too much of a one note kind of guy if he never figured out poor Shia was telling the truth and helped the kid out. Sort of like Tommy Lee Jones' character in 'The Fugutive', except, logistically, Thornton's character has to catch on sometime in Act II in order to be effective.

The scene, if I'm right, would be one of the early turning points. By this time Thornton would have at least voiced the opinion that something about Shia being a terrorist just doesn't add up. Scene would serve to get the audience's support for Thornton, setting him up to discover the truth later and going after Shia, not to apprehend him, but to save him and help stop the bad guys. This turn around should help prevent an Act II sag and drive the action into Act III with some snap.

Of course, we've seen it all before, but the energy and rhythm are just so and I think audiences will respond. So far, everything I've seen from 'Eagle Eye' has it shaping up to succeed at the box office. All they need is a good ending people will talk about.

Here's another clip. This one is pretty generic. I don't suppose there is much analysis possible. This is a chase scene involving a way too advanced drone plane, a car, and a tunnel. Some fancy driving, and an explosion or two -- pretty standard stuff -- but, again, the rhythm is spot on. What's new has just the right energy and what we've seen before is tight. No loose ends here.


It's the first few seconds that really get under your skin

Monday, September 15, 2008

New Yorker Cartoons (Animated)

Same dry humor, now with motion, sound, and music -- so there's more to wonder whether it's funny, whether you get it, and if you should pretend to like it.

7 Minutes

Here's the seven-minute trailer for 'The Day The Earth Stood Still'.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Campaign Turning Point

I don't even own a TV. Well, I have one -- a little black and white deal -- but the power cord doesn't work so it gathers dust. But, as luck would have it I heard that Tina Fey would be on SNL doing a Palin skit and, as luck would have it, the bit was available online minutes after it played live so I was able to watch it. I knew within seconds this was one of those SNL moments people would talk about for years. It's up there with Dan Akroyd's Bass-O-Matic and John Belushi's Little Chocolate Donuts. It's also one of the few skits I've seen from the show in years and I feel lucky to have seen it almost live just after the rest of the country. It's almost as if I took part in the experience. I almost feel connected. This one is part of history, especially if you know who doesn't get elected.

(The video is a hot commodity at the moment. The servers only return requests for it once every several tries. YouTube is also having issues. You can either refresh this page [it might take 5-10 tries] or try the NBC page. If that doesn't work it's also on Hulu).

If none of the videos will play just ask someone at work Monday and they'll re-enact the skit for you.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Photo by Alan Green

Photo by Alan Green

Music Hath Charms

'The Soloist' featurette.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Scene From Burn After Reading

Struggling to remember his (character's) lines nicely done by Pitt.

Repo! The Genetic Opera

So Safe, So Bland...So Obscure. Even The MPAA Couldn't Say No.

Photo: poster for Zack and Miri Make a Porno

DEEP RUMBLING VOICE: "In a world where sex is a no-no but extreme, horrifying graphic violence that warps the minds of children is par for the course and goes largely uncensored, the suggestive and slightly naughty poster for Kevin Smith's movie 'Zack and Miri Make a Porno' was banned by the ultra-conservative yet self-contradictory MPAA. However, Mr. Smith would not be silenced. Forced to find a way to convey what his movie is about without making the MPAA squirm in their seats, Kevin devised a stick-figure drawing of two sexually aroused and completely naked people about to fuck each other stupid while being photographed by a giant phallic camera. It was far too clever a thing for the MPAA to understand...and it got their approval. Way to go, Kevin. (QUICKLY: Coming soon to a theater near you. Rated R for normal human sexual behavior, the use of words such as 'cock', 'cunt', 'blow-job', 'suck', 'doggy-style', 'fuck', 'fucking', 'fuckity-fuck', and some ungainly dating rituals)."

That's Not My Son

Has to be one of the best exchanges I've heard.

Woman: That's not my son.
Man: Well...I'm sure you're mistaken.

Gotta love that. The clip has a verite style, a looseness in framing and lack of precision in subject placement. For this scene at least, the viewer is a harried bystander trying to take in events, eyes darting, being jostled by the crowd, off balance. It's a good visual choice for the material, and the dialogue matches the camera technique in its bluntness.

Photo: still from The Changeling

I don't think the rest of Clint Eastwood's 'The Changeling' has such a direct style. This still, and the other bits I've seen, seem more structured.


Photo by Alan Green

This is the Port of Seattle which is adjacent to downtown Seattle.

Photo by Alan Green

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cool Trailer, Cool Poster

Photo: poster for Let The Right One In

When I first saw the trailer for 'Let The Right One In' I knew I had found a special movie. As is so often the case with such projects, everything about it is special, including the poster. This looks like a winner.

The International

Looks like a fun night at the movies.

First Ever De Niro And Pacino Interview


I found this at YouTube's Screening Room. Here's their summary:

This darkly comic short tells the story of a young boy who, disgusted with his mother and the suburban status quo, flees for the woods to start a tribe of his own. Written and directed by David Garrett, "Warlord" won the Reel Shorts Award at the 2008 SXSW Film Festival.

From The Set Of Stay Cool

Photo: Chevy Chase by David Strick

David Strick has photos at Hollywood Backlot from the set of 'Stay Cool', a comedy with Hilary Duff, Winona Ryder, and Chevy Chase. (Photo: David Strick)

Sex Drive Clip

Talk about hitting all four quadrants. This one will have pretty broad appeal. People who love muscle cars, people whose big brother is/was a narrow-minded jerk, people who are/were narrow-minded jerks, sensitive guys, girls that like sensitive guys, girls that like/liked brawny narrow-minded jerks, girls that hate(d) brawny narrow-minded jerks, anybody that is or was at one time a teenager, anybody that likes rude, genuine, intelligent, stupid crap that's funny as hell -- the list never seems to end.

The Changeling

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Photo by Alan Green

Photo by Alan Green

The Soloist

I don't know why I like movies like this so much.

A.O. Scott At TIFF

Keira Knightley arrives at premiere of The Duchess at TIFF

Keira Knightley arrives at the premiere of 'The Duchess' at TIFF. A.O. Scott compiled an audio slideshow from the film fest.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Your Friendly Neighbors At Lakeview Terrace

Thompson And Smith

I've never liked Kevin Smith's movies but word is good on 'Zack and Miri Make a Porno'. This is the most natural and honest interview I've seen (or read) with Smith -- he always seems so smarmy, to the point of over compensating for something. Is this the new Smith or is it Anne's charm that makes him so open? Either way I'm looking forward to seeing the movie and hope Thompson does more such interviews -- she has a knack for it.

More Solace

I'm So Comfortable With You

Peter Guber and Peter Bart with Keira Knightley at TIFF re: how she selects projects.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Busy Bridge

Photo: Bridge by Alan Green

Photo by Alan Green

The Fly As Opera

Photo: Still from opera production of The Fly

Composer Howard Shore and director David Cronenberg bring 'The Fly' to the stage as an opera. NPR reports.

Javier Bardem

Lynn Hirschberg talks with Javier Bardem

First Six Pages Of The Stand

Photo: The Stand by Stephen King. Marvel Comics

UGO has the first six pages of the Marvel Comics adaptation of Stephen King's The Stand.

Tom Cruise's iPhone Video

The montage is also available in hi-def on Tom Cruise's official site along with a personal message and other goodies. You should know. According to MarketWatch, is "the most visited official male movie star site on the Web."

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Balanced Rocks

Photo: Balanced Rocks by Alan Green

Photo by Alan Green

Me And Orson Welles

I'm a big fan of radio drama from the 40's and 50's. I even listened enthusiastically to the CBS Radio Mystery Theater's 70's revival of the art form. But, how many people are there like me? 'Me and Orson Welles', directed by Richard Linklater, about the creation and productions of the Mercury Theatre Company, may be historically accurate and realized with assiduous attention to detail, but it's concerned with a figure few people know about today. Well, people know who Orson Welles was, but how many people (today) are fans of his?

Not many under the age of forty have even seen 'Citizen Kane'. We know it's one of the most important films but we don't know why, nor do we care. You have to go to a film school to find kids that have seen this movie and can discuss Welles' work.

'Me and Orson Welles' is currently poking around for a distributor at TIFF. Anne Thompson calls Linklater's movie a 'dive off the deep end' which will only appeal to a 'narrow band of showbizphiles'. On the other hand, Patrick Goldstein, being perhaps obliged to diplomacy having included excerpts from his interview with the film's director in the same write-up, calls 'Me and Orson Welles' "a blast." Goldstein heralds the film as capturing Welles at the height of his career as a "hilariously imperious and mercurial showman." That's a blast? Welles as a mercurial showman?

Christian McKay as Orson Welles

Here's Christian McKay portraying Orson Welles in a scene that simply has no appeal to the general movie-going public. In regard to this movie's bid to gain distribution from a buyer at TIFF Goldstein says, "I can't imagine someone wouldn't want a film that has such winning performances and offers you a front-row seat at one of the great moments in American theater." When was the last time someone said 'I wish they'd make a movie about great moments in American theater, or, I want to see a historical movie with winning performances?' It looks like an excellent movie and I'm sure the performances are wonderful and I look forward to seeing it on disc, but this couldn't possibly make money on the big screen.

Watchmen Journal

Friday, September 05, 2008

George Hamilton Re: Elizabeth Taylor

Photo: Elizabeth Taylor and George Hamilton By Zihnioglu/Sipa Press

George Hamilton reads an excerpt from his book Don't Mind If I Do.

Rachel Getting Married

Photo: poster for Rachel Getting Married

Everything about this movie so far speaks of quality. The clips, the stills, this poster, even the title -- not to mention the actors, writer, and director.

Soul Men

Looks great.

Fence at Dusk

Photo: fence at dusk by Alan Green

Photo by Alan Green

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


Remarkable turn by Sean Penn.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Let The Right One In

It's not often a trailer completely sells me.

This offering, 'Lat den Ratte Komma In', could have the right stuff. Opening in NYC October 24.

Blog Archive